Popular Movies that Pass and Fail the Bechdel Test

1 min read

Let’s talk about some popular movies that pass the Bechdel test…and why that’s important.

The Bechdel test actually originated in a 1985 cartoon by Alison Bechdel. (See below!) Bechdel actually credits her friend Liz Wallace for this concept in “The Rule,” as you can see in frame one.

This rule got shared and quoted so many times that it later started being referred to as the Bechdel Test, which is now basically used to determine whether women are appropriately represented in film and TV sans sexism.

(Even my favorite screenwriting software, WriterDuet, runs a little Bechdel test on my works in progress and lets me know how many times a woman speaks in a scene. It’s great.)

Strangely, it’s not always something you’d be aware of while watching something. Which is why it’s so important. A film’s representation doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with its themes or who it’s about.

The Bechdel Test takes into account the following:

  1. The movie (or other form of media) has to have at least two women in it.

  2. Those two women have to talk to each other.

  3. And they have to talk about something other than a man.

Sounds easy, but it’s actually kind of shocking how many movies fail miserably at meeting these rather simple criteria. For perspective, think about how standard it is that a movie might feature multiple men talking about something other than women. That’s the actual standard.

The origin of the bechdel test, a black and white comic strip.
Via ‘The Rule”

With that in mind…

Here are some popular movies that fail the Bechdel Test:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II

The Hurt Locker

Moonlight

Slumdog Millionaire

La La Land

Lord of the Rings (all of them)

The Avengers

Lara Croft

Finding Nemo

Lords of Dogtown

Shrek

Wayne’s World

And here are some great movies that pass the Bechdel Test:

Weird Science

Clueless

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Bring it On

Anchorman

Remember the Titans

No Country for Old Men

Mean Girls

Karate Kid

Titanic

10 Things I Hate About You

Frozen

Of course, just because something passes the Bechdel test that doesn’t mean it’s sans sexism, and it can still be a wonderfully uplifting story even when it doesn’t pass. But it is an interesting and important concept to be aware of and make good choices around. (Especially for those of us working in the entertainment industry!)

Were you surprised by any items on either list?

Related: 29 Best Film Festivals for Short Film Entries

I'm Kate Ferguson, an L.A.-based Writer, Filmmaker, Social Media Strategist, and Blogger at, right here, That's Random Kate! (Previously Divvy Mag.) I love storytelling in its various forms, growth, shooting 35mm film, learning super random facts, building community, and admiring palm trees. Find me on Instagram: @KateFerg. (Where there will definitely be 35mm photos of palm trees.)