'Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols
The USS Enterprise's chief communications officer Lt. Uhura set the bar pretty high, and has the distinction of being a significant, integral black character at a time when that was virtually unheard in on television, let alone in sci-fi. In fact, Martin Luther King, Jr. persuaded actress Nichelle Nichols not to leave Star Trek after its first season because of how important the role was. Since then, the franchise has gone on to feature a number of badass women: Next Generation's Commander Deanna Troi; Jeri Ryan's part-Borg, part-human, all pin-up Seven of Nine; and plenty of surprisingly photogenic officers, Klingons, robots, and green-skinned women. When Avatar's Zoe Saldana took over the Uhura role in the 2009 franchise reboot, a new generation of fanboys had a Trek sex symbol to call their own.