Olivia Benson Has A New Title

Cookie Lyon of “Empire” and Daenerys Targaryen of “Game of Thrones” round off the top three.
NBC via Getty Images

We already knew that Olivia Benson was beloved by legions of TV watchers worldwide (including fangirl Taylor Swift), but the “Law & Order: SVU” character’s overwhelming popularity has now achieved new heights.

According to a recent survey conducted by entertainment marketing agency Trailer Park, Benson is America’s favorite female character on TV. And, as Mashable writes, she won the title “by a mile.”

Twenty-one percent of the 1,200 respondents to the survey said Benson -- played by Mariska Hargitay since 1999 -- was their favorite female TV character.

Cookie Lyon of “Empire,” who came in second, won eight percent of the votes while third-place Daenerys Targaryen of “Game of Thrones” clinched 7 percent. Jessica Lange’s “American Horror Story” characters, Dr. Meredith Grey of “Grey’s Anatomy” and Olivia Pope of “Scandal” rounded off the top six with 6 percent of the vote each.

Benson, who has been dubbed “one of the most badass cops on television,” came out tops in all demographic groups surveyed, save for one: 18-to-24-year-olds who said Daenerys was their favorite.

According to Mashable, the survey “specifically zeroed in on the 17 highest-rated drama series on TV that passed the Bechdel test... Passing the Bechdel test means the show has at least two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man." In the survey were the shows mentioned above, as well as “Girls,” “Devious Maids” and “The Good Wife,” among others.

D’nae Kingsley, head of integrated strategy at Trailer Park, told The Washington Post that Benson may be so popular with viewers because she “falls at the center of a Venn diagram.”

“For all the innovation in storytelling we’re seeing, audiences still love stories about elite detectives and top lawyers, women solving mysteries involving their own families, women getting revenge and women with special powers or abilities,” the Post wrote. “And Benson also possesses a set of characteristics that female viewers see in themselves and want to see on television but that rarely show up in existing fiction.”

The survey suggests viewers are particularly fond of “independent and compassionate, as well as intelligent, self-confident, strong-willed, beautiful and tough” female characters, the newspaper added.

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