With her fiery, flowing, curly locks and her skill with a bow and arrow, teenage Merida of "Brave," opening today, is not your typical Disney princess.
Redheaded heroines are few in the world of Disney/Pixar, unless you count Ariel, the Little Mermaid, who was kind of a wuss.
But for years, we haven't known what to make of redheads, who make up only 1 to 2 percent of the population. We've either laughed at or lusted for them in movies and on TV. Ginger-haired men are the hero's goofy sidekick or annoying little brother (think Danny Kaye or Danny Bonaduce) or detestable bullies (Ralphie's tormentor in "A Christmas Story.")
When TV's "Happy Days" featured a redheaded Ron Howard as the star, even he was supplied with the doofus Ralph Malph to fill the redhead role.
Redheaded women, on the other hand, are temperamental vixens, usually with a naughty streak.
But Merida isn't the only redhead who is sidestepping the stereotypes with her power and verve. Here are some of our favorite carrot tops who kick butt.
- Donna Koehn
Joan Holloway Harris As played by Christina Hendricks on AMC's "Mad Men," Joanie is much more than the alabaster-skinned bombshell who gets by on va-va-voom. She's a smart cookie who does what she has to do for her family, and power becomes her. Look out, office bad boys. She won't be a silent partner.
Horatio Caine We're never sure if David Caruso or his sunglasses is the real star on "CSI: Miami," but as a crime scene investigator, "H" is cocky and rocks his copper locks with confidence.
Ron Weasley Yes, he started out as the semi-goofy sidekick of Harry Potter, but Rupert Grint matured his character into a force to be reckoned with in the battle against evil. Ron comes by it naturally as part of a family of Weasley redheads who proved themselves champions. His mother, in particular, took down the wicked Bellatrix Lestrange in fine fashion. And Ron got the girl.
Dana Scully As the skeptic on the 1990s' "The X-Files," Gillian Anderson portrayed FBI agent Scully as a shoulder-padded powerhouse with a handgun, loyal to her flakier sidekick, Fox Mulder, but unafraid to take down an alien or two.
Sarah Linden Mireille Enos played a flawed cop trying to solve a confusing murder on "The Killing," which ended its second season Sunday. Linden was suspicious, obsessive and definitely not a contender for mother of the year. But Enos took advantage of the pale-skin fragility of a true redhead to keep her character sympathetic and determined.
Willow Rosenberg Alyson Hannigan's character on TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" started out as a sweet yet bullied sidekick, but she became the most powerful of all the characters on this cult favorite. Yeah, there was a dark time when she skinned a bad guy alive and almost destroyed the world. But Willow ended up bringing Buffy back to life and saving the planet. And she got the girl.