Greatest Performances by Actresses on Television

by EddieWilson | created - 3 weeks ago | updated - 1 week ago | Public

Best acted and most notable female roles on TV. Housewives, Golden Girls, and most Sitcoms are not recognized.

1. Lena Headey

Actress | Game of Thrones

Lena Headey is a British actress. She was born in Bermuda to parents from Yorkshire, England, where she was raised. She is the daughter John Headey, a police officer, and his wife Sue. Headey is best known for her role as "Cersei Lannister" in Game of Thrones (2011) (2011-present) and The Brothers ...

Cercei Lannister - Game of Thrones

2. Emilia Clarke

Actress | Game of Thrones

British actress Emilia Clarke was born in London and grew up in Berkshire, England. Her father is a theatre sound engineer and her mother is a businesswoman. Her father was working on a theatre production of "Show Boat" and her mother took her along to the performance. This is when, at the age of 3...

Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons - Game of Thrones

3. Evan Rachel Wood

Actress | Thirteen

Evan Rachel Wood was born September 7, 1987, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her father, Ira David Wood III, is a theatre actor, writer and director, and her mother, Sara Wood, is an actress and acting coach. She has two older brothers--Dana Wood, a musician, and Ira David Wood IV, who has also acted. ...

Dolores Abernathy - Westworld

4. Julia Stiles

Actress | 10 Things I Hate About You

Julia O'Hara Stiles was born on March 28, 1981 in New York City, the outgoing daughter of a Greenwich Village artist mother, Judith Newcomb Stiles, and an elementary school teacher father, John O'Hara. She is the eldest of three children, and has Irish, English, and German ancestry. Encouraged to ...

Lumen Ann Pierce - Dexter

5. Maggie Smith

Actress | Gosford Park

One of the world's most famous and distinguished actresses, Dame Maggie Smith was born Margaret Natalie Smith in Essex. Her Scottish mother, Margaret (Hutton), worked as a secretary, and her English father, Nathaniel Smith, was a teacher at Oxford University. Smith has been married twice: to actor ...

Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham - Downton Abbey

6. Rachel Brosnahan

Actress | House of Cards

Rachel Brosnahan was born on December 15, 1990 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA as Rachel Elizabeth Brosnahan. She is an actress and producer, known for House of Cards (2013), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017) and Patriots Day (2016).

Miriam 'Midge' Maisel - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

7. Sarah Michelle Gellar

Actress | Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Emmy Award-winning Sarah Michelle Gellar was born on April 14, 1977 in New York City, the daughter of Rosellen (Greenfield), who taught at a nursery school, and Arthur Gellar, who worked in the garment industry. She is of half Russian Jewish and half Hungarian Jewish descent.

Eating in a local ...

Buffy Summers - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

8. Ruth Wilson

Actress | Locke

Ruth Wilson, born on 13 January 1982, is an English actress. She is known for her performances in Suburban Shootout (2006), Jane Eyre (2006), and as "Alice Morgan" in the BBC-TV psychological crime drama, Luther (2010), since 2010. She has also appeared in Anna Karenina (2012), The Lone Ranger (...

Alison Bailey - The Affair

9. Michelle Dockery

Actress | Downton Abbey

Michelle Suzanne Dockery born 15 December 1981 is an English actress and singer. She is best known for her role as Lady Mary Crawley in the ITV drama series Downton Abbey (2010-2015), for which she has been nominated for three consecutive Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award. She made her ...

Lady Mary Crawley - Downton Abbey

10. Kirstie Alley

Actress | Drop Dead Gorgeous

Kirstie Alley was born on January 12, 1951 in Wichita, Kansas, USA as Kirstie Louise Alley. She is an actress and producer, known for Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999), Look Who's Talking (1989) and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). She was previously married to Parker Stevenson and Robert Alley.

Virgilia Hazard - North and South

11. Robin Wright

Actress | Forrest Gump

Robin Gayle Wright was born in Dallas, Texas, to Gayle (Gaston), a national director at Mary Kay, and Freddie Wright, a pharmaceutical executive. She grew up in San Diego, California. She started her professional career as a model in 1980 at age 14, and worked both in Paris and Japan. After ...

Claire Underwood - House of Cards

12. Jean Simmons

Actress | Guys and Dolls

Demure British beauty Jean Simmons was born January 31, 1929 in Crouch End, London. As a 14-year-old dance student, she was plucked from her school to play Margaret Lockwood's precocious sister in Give Us the Moon (1944), and she went on to make a name for herself in such major British productions ...

Fiona 'Fee' Cleary - The Thorn Birds

13. Lucy Lawless

Actress | Xena: Warrior Princess

New Zealand icon Lucy Lawless, is most famously known for her role as "Xena the Warrior Princess". Lucy is married to producer Rob Tapert (Robert Gerard Tapert) and resides in New Zealand. They have two sons, Julius Robert Bay Tapert and Judah Miro Tapert, who were both born in New Zealand. Lucy ...

Lucretia - Spartacus

14. Gillian Anderson

Actress | The X Files

Gillian Anderson was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Rosemary Alyce (Lane), a computer analyst, and Homer Edward Anderson III, who owned a film post-production company. She has English, German, and Irish ancestry.

Gillian started her career as a member of an amateur actor group while at high school. ...

Stella Gibson - The Fall

15. Maisie Williams

Actress | Game of Thrones

Margaret Constance "Maisie" Williams (born 15 April 1997) is an English actress. She made her professional acting debut as Arya Stark in the HBO fantasy television series Game of Thrones, for which she won the EWwy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama, the Portal Award for Best Supporting ...

Arya Stark - Game of Thrones

16. Elizabeth Perkins

Actress | Weeds

Elizabeth Ann Perkins was born on November 18, 1960, in the borough of Queens, New York, and was raised in Vermont. Her mother, Jo Williams, was a concert pianist and drug treatment counselor, and her father, James Perkins, was a businessman, farmer, and writer. She is of Greek and English descent....

Celia Hodes - Weeds

17. Jaime Murray

Actress | The Deaths of Ian Stone

Jaime Murray was born on July 21, 1976 in Hammersmith, London, England. She is an actress, known for The Deaths of Ian Stone (2007), Dexter (2006) and Spartacus: Gods of the Arena (2011). She has been married to Bernie Cahill since May 26, 2014.

Lila Tournay - Dexter

18. Millie Bobby Brown

Actress | Stranger Things

Millie Brown was born in Spain, to British parents. They moved to Orlando, Florida in 2011, where Millie went to acting workshops to pass the time on a Saturday, and it was there that a top Hollywood talent scout called and told Millie's parents that "she has instincts you cannot teach." She ...

Eleven - Stranger Things

19. Julie Benz

Actress | Dexter

Julie Benz was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA on May 1, 1972. Julie's father is a Pittsburgh surgeon and her mother is a figure ice skater. The family settled in nearby Murrysville, when Julie was two, and she started ice skating at age three. She competed in the 1988 U.S. Championships in ...

Darla - Angel

20. Joanne Froggatt

Actress | Downton Abbey

Joanne Froggatt was born in 1979 in the village of Littlebeck, North Yorkshire, UK. She started going to a drama school in Maidenhead at the age of 13 and was also a member of the "Rounders" youth theatre group at Alan Ayckbourne's Stephen Joseph Theatre, In The Round. Eventually, she was cast in ...

Anna Bates - Downton Abbey

21. Sarah Rafferty

Actress | Suits

Sarah Rafferty's character Donna on USA network's hit show "Suits" is one of the most formidable minds at their law firm, Pearson Hardman. With her razor sharp wit and knowledge of all the firm's happenings, Donna is admired and feared by everyone there, and she's not afraid to wield that power ...

Donna Paulsen - Suits

22. Claire Danes

Actress | My So-Called Life

New Yorker Claire Catherine Danes was born in Manhattan, the daughter of Carla (Hall), a day-care provider and artist, and Christopher Danes, a computer consultant and photographer. She has an older brother, Asa. Her paternal grandfather, Gibson Andrew Danes, was a Dean of the Yale School of Art ...

Carrie Mathison - Homeland

23. Thandie Newton

Actress | Crash

Thandie Newton was born in London. She is the daughter of a Zimbabwean mother, Nyasha, a health-care worker from the Shona tribe, and Nick Newton, a British father who worked as a lab technician. She lived in Zambia until political unrest caused her family to move back to the UK. She then lived in ...

Maeve Millay - Westworld

24. Yvonne Strahovski

Actress | Dexter

Yvonne Jaqueline Strzechowski was born and raised in Australia. Her parents were Polish immigrants. She attended the Santa Sabina College for her high school education. She then went on to study Performance at the University of Western Sydney's School of Contemporary Arts, graduating in 2003. ...

Hannah McKay - Dexter

25. Christine Baranski

Actress | Chicago

Christine Baranski was born on May 2, 1952 in Buffalo, New York, USA as Christine Jane Baranski. She is an actress, known for Chicago (2002), Mamma Mia! (2008) and Into the Woods (2014). She was previously married to Matthew Cowles.

Maryann Thorpe - Cybill

26. Rachael Harris

Actress | The Hangover

Rachael Harris was born in Worthington, Ohio, where she spend most of her early life. In 1986, she graduated from Worthington High School. She then attended Otterbein College, a liberal arts college located in Westerville, Ohio. She graduated in 1989, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

Harris joined the ...

Sheila Sazs - Suits

27. Annabel Scholey

Self | NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage

Annabel Scholey was born in January 1984 in Yorkshire, England. She is an actress, known for NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage (2014) and Walking on Sunshine (2014).

Contessina - Medici: Masters of Florence

28. Rachel Brosnahan

Actress | House of Cards

Rachel Brosnahan was born on December 15, 1990 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA as Rachel Elizabeth Brosnahan. She is an actress and producer, known for House of Cards (2013), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017) and Patriots Day (2016).

Rachel Posner - House of Cards

29. Courteney Cox

Actress | Friends

Courteney Cox was born on June 15th, 1964 in Birmingham, Alabama, into an affluent Southern family. She is the daughter of Courteney (Bass) and Richard Lewis Cox (1930-2001), a businessman. She was the baby of the family with two older sisters (Virginia and Dottie) and an older brother, Richard, Jr...

Monica Geller - Friends

30. Laura Linney

Actress | The Big C

Laura Leggett Linney was born in New York City on February 5, 1964, into a theatre family. Her father was prominent playwright Romulus Linney, whose own great-grandfather was a congressman from North Carolina. Her mother, Miriam Anderson (Leggett), is a nurse. Although she did not live in her ...

Cathy Jamison - The Big C

31. Edie Falco

Actress | The Sopranos

Edith Falco, called Edie, was born on July 5, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York, to Judith Anderson, an actress, and Frank Falco, a jazz drummer. She is of Italian (father) and Swedish, English, and Cornish (mother) descent. Edie grew up on Long Island and attended SUNY Purchase, where she was trained in ...

Carmela Soprano - The Sopranos

32. Helen Mirren

Actress | RED

Dame Helen Mirren was born in Queen Charlotte's Hospital in West London. Her mother, Kathleen Alexandrina Eva Matilda (Rogers), was from a working-class English family, and her father, Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov, was a Russian-born civil servant, from Kuryanovo, whose own father was a diplomat. ...

DCI Jane Tennison - Prime Suspect

33. Mandy Moore

Actress | A Walk to Remember

Amanda Leigh Moore was born in Nashua, New Hampshire, on April 10, 1984, to Stacy (Friedman), a former news reporter, and Don Moore, an airline pilot. During her childhood, her family moved to Orlando, Florida, where she was raised. She has Russian Jewish (from her maternal grandfather), English, ...

Rebecca Pearson - This Is Us

34. Julia Garner

Actress | Martha Marcy May Marlene

Julia Garner is an American actress and model. She is best known for her roles in Electrick Children (2012), We Are What We Are (2013), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014), and Grandman (2015).

Garner also starred in the Netflix series Ozark.

She had her ...

Ruth Langmore - Ozark

35. Mary-Louise Parker

Actress | Weeds

Southern-bred Mary-Louise Parker, from Fort Jackson, South Carolina, was born on August 2, 1964, the youngest of four born to Judge John Morgan Parker and the former Caroline Louise Morell. She comes from Swedish, English, Scottish, Scotch-Irish, German, and Dutch ancestry. Her father's occupation ...

Nancy Botwin - Weeds

36. Olivia Munn

Actress | The Newsroom

Lisa Olivia Munn was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Her mother, Kimberly Schmid, lived in Vietnam, and is of Chinese ancestry, while her father, Winston Barrett Munn, is from a family with deep roots in the American South. Olivia's parents divorced when she was two years old, and she was raised ...

Sloan Sabbith - The Newsroom

37. Amber Benson

Actress | Chance

Amber Benson was born on January 8, 1977 in Birmingham, Alabama. As a young girl, she studied singing, dancing as well as acting. While still in her teens, she was involved in productions at the local community theatre. Her family moved to Los Angeles soon afterwards in 1992 so she could pursue a ...

Tara Maclay - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

38. Lara Pulver

Actress | Sherlock

Lara was born and raised in Essex, UK. She studied drama with the NYMT and went on to gain a BA Honours degree in Theatre.

Lara's extensive theatre career led her to gain a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for her portrayal of "Lucille Frank" in Rob Ashford's production of "Parade" at The Donmar ...

Irene Adler, 'The Woman' - Sherlock

39. Laura Linney

Actress | The Big C

Laura Leggett Linney was born in New York City on February 5, 1964, into a theatre family. Her father was prominent playwright Romulus Linney, whose own great-grandfather was a congressman from North Carolina. Her mother, Miriam Anderson (Leggett), is a nurse. Although she did not live in her ...

Wendy Byrde - Ozark

40. Phyllis Logan

Actress | Secrets & Lies

Phyllis Logan was born on January 11, 1956 in Paisley, Scotland. She is an actress, known for Secrets & Lies (1996), Another Time, Another Place (1983) and Downton Abbey (2010). She has been married to Kevin McNally since August 15, 2011. They have one child.

Mrs. Hughes - Downton Abbey

41. Grace Park

Actress | Battlestar Galactica

Grace Park (born March 14, 1974) is an American-Canadian actress. She gained recognition as Sharon "Boomer" Valerii and Sharon "Athena" Agathon on Battlestar Galactica, as well as Shannon Ng in the Canadian television series teen soap Edgemont. Park stars as Officer Kono Kalakaua in the CBS ...

Lt. Sharon 'Boomer' Valerii - Battlestar Galactica

42. Linda Cardellini

Actress | Brokeback Mountain

Linda Edna Cardellini was born in Redwood City, California, to Lorraine (Hernan) and Wayne David Cardellini, a businessman. She is of Italian (from her paternal grandfather), Irish (from her mother), German, English, and Scottish descent. Linda grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, California, the...

Lindsay Weir - Freaks and Geeks

43. Marlee Matlin

Actress | Children of a Lesser God

Marlee Beth Matlin was in Morton Grove, Illinois, to Libby (Hammer) and Donald Matlin, an automobile dealer. She has two older brothers. Her family is of Russian Jewish and Polish Jewish descent.

Marlee lost much of her hearing at the age of eighteen months. That did not stop her from acting in a ...

Joey Lucas - The West Wing

44. Anna Friel

Actress | Land of the Lost

Anna Friel is an English actress, born in Rochdale. She has been acting since the age of 13, appearing in a number of British television programmes. She made her West End stage debut in London in 2001, and has subsequently appeared on stage in several productions, including an adaptation of ...

Charlotte 'Chuck' Charles - Pushing Daisies

45. Kat Dennings

Actress | Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Kat Dennings was born Katherine Victoria Litwack in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, to Ellen (Schatz), a speech therapist and poet, and Gerald Litwack, a molecular pharmacologist. She is the youngest of five children. Her family is of Russian Jewish descent. Kat was predominantly ...

Max Black - 2 Broke Girls

46. Felicia Pearson

Actress | The Wire

Felicia Pearson was born on May 18, 1980 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. She is an actress and producer, known for The Wire (2002), Guns and Grams (2016) and They Die by Dawn (2013).

Felicia 'Snoop' Pearson - The Wire