1. Mariya Oktyabrskaya
When her husband was killed by Nazis in WWII, Mariya was determined to get revenge on the enemy. She sold all of her possessions and purchased a tank, then proceeded to fight on the front lines. Her first time out, her tank was shelled and the track was damaged. Rather than waiting around, she got out, repaired it (mid-battle, BTW), and got back in to continue fighting. She ended up doing this two more times during her career. Mariya was the first female tanker to win the Hero of the Soviet Union Award. Read more about her at Rejected Princesses or Badass of the Week.
2. Hugh Glass
Hugh Glass was, among other things, an experienced trapper. While out scouting for game with other trappers in 1823, he was attacked by a grizzly bear. His companions were sure that he was a dead man and left him, but Glass somehow survived. When he woke up, he discovered that he was severely injured and had no provisions or weapons. He set his own leg and began to crawl back to civilization. The journey took him six weeks. It is said that he survived by eating roots and berries, although other sources claim that he killed rattlesnakes for food. He did, however, prevent gangrene by infesting his wounds with maggots to eat his dead flesh. Badassery level 100. Read more about Glass at Badass of the Week orHistory Net.
3. Ching Shih
Ching Shih is the master of opportunity. She was a prostitute who was captured and married to the captain of the Red Flag pirate fleet, and took over the fleet when he died. As a strategic move, she married her late husband's right-hand man, Chang Pao. He was the figurehead of the operation, but she was the brains and the brutality. Shih ran a tight ship, in both the literal and figurative sense. She was intolerant of disobedience and held a strict set of rules, including that the pirates could only sleep with female prisoners if they married them and were faithful, and that loot could only be divided up by a superior. Under her rule, the Red Flags grew and included other pirate fleets. Ching Shih later retired from piracy, and chose to run a brothel and game house. Read more about Ching Shi at Anne Bonny Pirate or Rejected Princesses.
4. Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan is well-known for his tyranny, but ultimately he was an excellent military strategist. Khan built the Mongol Empire into the largest empire in the world, up until the British Empire. He was brutal in how he conquered his enemies, but he ruled his subjects by allowing them to retain their cultures and religions, gaining their respect. Khan is badass for a variety of reasons, but this line from a letter to the pope pretty much sums it up: "If we are the enemies of god then how come god keeps letting us win?" Read more about Khan on the History website.
5. Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking is one of the world's leading physicists, and aims to make his work accessible not only to those in the field, but to the public. When asked about his I.Q. in an interview, he responded, "I have no idea. People who boast about their I.Q. are losers." You tell 'em, Stephen. Read more about Hawking onBiography.
6. La Jaguarina, Queen of the Sword
Born Ella Hattan, she earned the nickname La Jaguarina through her career. She was an undefeated sword master, and believed that as a half-Spanish woman, it was her duty to learn to fence. It is said that she once hit an opponent so hard that her sword bent in half and her opponent ran off. The only reason that she ended up retiring was because she ran out of opponents to fight. There's nothing more badass than a woman who nobody is willing to challenge. Read more about her at Rejected Princesses or the US Fencing Hall of Fame.
7. Laura Secord
During the War of 1812, American soldiers forced their way into her home for dinner. She heard their plans to launch a surprise attack at Beaver Dams and knew that she had to warn the British Forces. She left the next morning, traveling on foot. From Queenston to the British garrison was 20 miles through the wilderness, alone. She arrived to warn the British just in time, and collapsed from exhaustion. Laura Secord is known as a hero to Canadians and has a chain of chocolate shops named after her. Learn more about Laura Secord at Historica Canada.
8. Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman is known for her extensive work running hundreds of slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. As a conductor, she was technically employed for the US military, although she was never properly compensated. Tubman had a difficult life and was a badass from the start. As a teenager, she sustained a traumatic injury to the head when she refused to help restrain a runaway slave and had a two-pound weight thrown at her. The injury caused seizures, severe headaches, and narcoleptic episodes for the rest of her life. When she required brain surgery later on, she chose to undergo it without anesthetic, instead biting down on a bullet as soldiers did. When she finally passed away, she was buried with military honors.
9. Marie Curie
Marie Curie is a French physicist famous for her work on radioactivity, and is a two-time recipient of the Nobel Prize. She was actually the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in physics, and she coined the term radioactivity. Curie came from humble beginnings, and had no money for school. She worked two jobs for five years to pay for tuition, and during her schooling she had very little money, surviving on bread and tea. She dedicated her entire life to her research, and ironically passed away due to radiation poisoning after a lifetime of exposure.
10. Sir Patrick Moore
Sir Patrick Moore was a self-taught astronomer who hosted TV show The Sky at Night for over 50 years. He became the youngest member of the British Astronomical Association when he joined at 11 years old, and published his first scientific paper at 13. Moore went on to write over 70 books on astronomy. He was knighted for his work in astronomy in 2007. Read more about this badass, monocle-wearing dude onWikipedia.
11. Fridtjof Nansen
Fridtjof was a Norwegian explorer known for his "suicide missions." He used different tactics than his peers, and they paid off. Nansen chose to carry lighter equipment and supplies to eliminate the need for animals or machinery, and liked to begin his exploration at the farthest end from civilization and work his way back. This would prevent the team from turning back, since they could only go forward. It was in this way that he explored the interior of Greenland, starting from the uninhabited east and working his way west, as well as the North Pole. As a result of his innovation and dedication, he received the Biographical Nobel Prize in 1922. Read more about Fridtjof Nansen on the Nobel Prize website.
12. Aitzaz Hasan
Aitzaz was outside of his school in Pakistan when he and his friends noticed a man wearing a suicide vest. He wanted to confront the bomber, but his friends did not. They ran off, but Aitzaz went to the bomber and attempted to capture him. The bomber detonated his vest, killing them both. Hasan was only 15 years old when he died, saving hundreds of students inside the school. Read more about this badass hero at BBC News.
13. Grigori Rasputin
Rasputin was a faith healer and close friend of the Tsar's family, a relationship built on his ability to heal their son. This close relationship gave him considerable influence over the Tsar's family, which some Russian aristocrats felt threatened by, driving them to kill him. They first attempted to poison him, lacing food and drink with more than enough cyanide to kill several men. Several hours after consuming the poison, he was still alive and well, so they shot him in the back, and he slumped to the floor. The aristocrats, assuming he was dead, stepped out, but discovered that he was not dead upon returning, when he leapt up and tried to strangle them. Not taking any more chances, they shot him three more times, tied him up, rolled him in a carpet, and dumped him in the semi-frozen Neva River. When his body was discovered, autopsy showed that he his lungs were waterlogged, meaning that he was still alive after being poisoned and shot four times, only succumbing to drowning. Read more about this indestructible badass here.
Boudica was the Queen of the Celtic Iceni tribe, who led a revolt against the Roman rule of Britain in 60-61 AD. After being whipped by the Romans and her daughters being raped, she gathered an army of her people and members of tribes who also opposed Roman rule. The army is rumored to have consisted of 100,000 men. They first destroyed the Roman capital in Britain, and then what is modern-day Britain. Next they destroyed Verulamium. When the army was finally defeated, she committed suicide by ingesting poison. She's like an ancient, more badass version of Merida. Read more about her here, or check out the movie Warrior Queen, which is based on Boudica.
15. Benjamin Hornigold
Hornigold is the relatively unknown pirate who served as Blackbeard's mentor. He was the founder of the pirate republic in the Bahamas, starting from little more than a few boats and gaining a 30-gun warship within a few years. With 200 men in his pirate gang, he ran the show and used that advantage for his amusement. At one point in his time as a pirate, he overtook a merchant ship, demanding nothing more than the passengers' hats. He didn't consider himself a true pirate, never attacking English ships, although his crew eventually broke that code and split up, following Blackbeard. After retiring from the pirate life, Hornigold accepted a royal pardon and became a pirate hunter. Read more about Hornigold on The Republic of Pirates or Pirates and Privateers.
16. And then there's this guy, aspiring to be as badass as the people I've already mentioned.
And then there's this guy, aspiring to be as badass as the people I've already mentioned.