io9.com has a 10 Most Defining Performances in the History of Genre Television and no list would be complete without a mention of Xena because she did set the benchmark for all other strong female characters on television. Lucy As Xena at #5
5. Lucy Lawless (Xena, Warrior Princess)
She started out on Kevin Sorbo's Hercules show, and then got her own spin-off as a reformed villain going around the ancient world helping people and being all heroic. Lawless helped made the television world safe for female action heroes ? but she also helped to redefine the "action hero" role as something involving a lot more heart and interior life than just the standard swaggerpants archetype. Here's a pretty great article by an acting coach about all the warmth and subtle technique that Lawless brought to the role of Xena, taking a seriously campy show and infusing it with a modicum of humanity. And vulnerability.