The Smurfette Principle is a term coined by Katha Pollitt in 1991 in an article for The New York Times. It refers to a trope, found in many TV series and movies, where there is only one female in an all-male ensemble. In Pollitt's words:
"Contemporary shows are either essentially all-male, like "Garfield," or are organized on what I call the Smurfette principle: a group of male buddies will be accented by a lone female, stereotypically defined... The message is clear. Boys are the norm, girls the variation; boys are central, girls peripheral; boys are individuals, girls types. Boys define the group, its story and its code of values. Girls exist only in relation to boys."
The Smurfette Principle establishes a male-dominated narrative, where the female is the exception, and exists only in reference to males. This signifies an underrepresentation of women, since they are half the world's population.
- Miss Piggy in The Muppets and her equivalent in Muppet Babies
- Princess Leia in Star Wars
- Penny in The Big Bang Theory (in seasons 1-3)
- Elaine Benes in Seinfeld
- Kanga in Winnie-the-Pooh
- April in The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- Dee Reynolds in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
- Janet in The Kingdom
- Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy
- Webby in Ducktales
- The "Bond girls"
- Henley in Now You See Me
- Ariadne in Inception
- Black Widow in The Avengers
- Sue Storm in Fantastic Four
- Steelheart in SilverHawks
- Jun in Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
- Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger
- Mikaela Banes in Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
- Carly Spencer in Transformers: Dark of the Moon
- Samantha Booke in The Great Debaters
- Anna in Predator
- Karen Ross in Congo
- Skye in Paw Patrol
Female representation in media
Another tool to measure the representation of women in TV and film is the Bechdel Test. Various initiatives are trying to make TV and film more inclusive such as the Miss Representation Project, Bitch Flicks, Feminist Frequency and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
- Hers; The Smurfette Principle. New York Times, 7 April 1991
- Lori Day; Charlotte Kugler (1 May 2014). Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More. Chicago Review Press. pp. 203–. ISBN 978-1-61374-859-6.
- What the Smurfette Principle Teaches Your Kids About Girls
- Sharon Gmelch; Marcie Heffernan Stoffer; Jody Lynn Yetzer (1998). Gender on Campus: Issues for College Women. Rutgers University Press. pp. 224–. ISBN 978-0-8135-2522-8.
- "Tropes vs. Women: #3 The Smurfette Principle". Retrieved 30 January 2016.
- Cultural Hegemony in the United States.
- "Marvel To Include More Female Representation In Upcoming Films.". Retrieved 30 January 2016.