While Fringe was still on air, Anna Torv took a break from the sci-fi series to do a small part in a CollegeHumor skit. She’s a desperate cop looking to give the final speeding ticket of the month, and when the driver finds a way to get out of getting one, she must think of another way to make it work in her favor. This snack-size bit offers a rare glimpse at Torv as giddy and flirty -- and then the twist. It’s all an act from the cop to get the driver to willingly agree to gaining his own speeding ticket. That’s the actress we know. Fingers crossed she has more flashback scenes in The Last of Us, but there are other shows to watch in the meantime.

RELATED: Anna Torv in ‘The Last of Us’ Reminds Us She's Always Been a Badass

Her roles over the years involve intricate characters who take charge. She can be tough, if not outwardly abrasive to those that enter her orbit, making the city of Boston a quasi-official home to several of these women. From Australia, she’s truly an underrated actress who should be just as recognized as her fellow Aussie mainstream actors. It’s all the more exciting to see where she shows up next.

The Secret Life of Us, Season 4 (2006)

Anna Torv in The Secret Life of Us

This Australian drama set within a beachside neighborhood in Melbourne follows a group of friends living in the same apartment building. There’s heartbreak, will-they-or-won’t-they moments, and how important friendships can be on our bad days. Best friends Lucy (Alexandra Schepisi) and Nikki (Torv) share a flat on St. Kilda, coming into instant conflict with their neighbors, especially main character and narrator Kelly (Deborah Mailman). “When people get together, there is always an opportunity for conflict,” Kelly remarks at the beginning of the fourth and final season. She’s a wise, old soul, who wants to work on her timid demeanor.

Taking part in a conflict isn’t in her nature. Then she encounters Lucy’s flea-infested cat and Nikki’s stubbornness in stealing Kelly’s time with the communal washing machine. As the episodes go on, Nikki isn’t afraid of getting into quarrels and saying what’s on her mind, even if she rushes into it all. She’s fiercely loyal to her friends but even more fiercely protective of herself. Nikki comes to realize she wants to open herself up to love, but growth means she must realize the guys she likes can be just as closed off as she is. Watch on Freevee.

Fringe (2008-2013)

FBI agent Olivia Dunham learns just how scary and fantastical the world can be. Science doesn’t go wrong, it runs amok on purpose, by scientists and other egotistical individuals with the brains and dangerous knowledge to do so. As Olivia, Torv plays a woman who must overcome personal defenses she has put up, and learn to appreciate vulnerability as a strength too. There isn’t just one side to Olivia, or one Olivia for that matter. Torv takes on doppelgängers, plus versions in alternate timelines, and dark futures.

The fact the series never got any Emmy nominations for acting is far more unbelievable than the melted brains, time travel, or any of the other cases-of-the-week the Fringe team investigates. Originally, there were many comparisons with The X-Files, especially with FBI agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). Torv’s outstanding range across five seasons, can help put those comparisons to rest. Scully is as uniquely herself as Olivia Dunham is, thus remaining a testament to what Torv can do as a lead. Watch the full series on HBO Max.

Secret City (2016-2019)

'Secret City' is an expertly crafted political thriller
Image via Netflix

In Australia’s capital city of Canberra, political journalist Harriet Dunkley smells a conspiracy brewing in this techno-thriller based on novels by Chris Uhlmann and Steve Lewis. The United States is falling into a severe conflict between China and Russia, a more timely issue than the series could have imagined. Harriet’s attention is piqued upon spotting a crime scene where a body has been left with suspicious wounds, which has wider implications she never could have imagined. She soon connects it to another story of hers, of a young woman who survived self-immolating herself in Beijing, but who has now gone missing.

Rapidly changing political conflicts and technological advancements take center stage as Harriet pursues leads and bodies drop around her. What adds to Harriet’s situation, is a recent mistake that has since tainted her journalism record. She knows she is correct this time, she just needs to survive to prove it. Classic spy elements don’t go wasted, like clandestine waterfront meetings, and the lack of privacy, with cellphones and surveillance cameras always listening and watching. Having the tenacious Harriet on the right side of justice makes for the best kind of heroine. Watch on Netflix.

The Newsreader (2021-)

the newsreader anna torv sam reid
Image via Roku

“Good evening and welcome to news at six.” This six-episode debut season is a breezy look at the glamour and turmoil of commercial TV in Melbourne, 1986. Torv’s Helen Norville is covered in hairspray, shoulder pads, and all of this matches her big personality, a necessity to thrive in her place of work. Secret City might have dealt with global superpowers fighting for dominance, but they can’t lay a hand on the cutthroat environment of this newsroom. Helen, after a distressing incident, bonds with shy reporter Dale (Sam Reid), and not long after, they turn into a powerful team, taking on the Challenger disaster, the AIDs crisis, and Chernobyl disaster as they pop up in the headlines.

On camera, Helen is cool and composed, with a face and voice audiences can’t turn away from; off camera, her emotions are unsteady, a result of the pressure and berating from men in positions above her. During a twenty-second countdown, Helen hurries away from the camera during a commercial break, on the verge of blubbering, only to have to speed back into the seat, to calmly speak one of her enthralling news reads. She’s called a “warzone on two legs,” and it’s an unfair statement, the boss of the newsroom is the one with volcanic outbursts. Season 2 is on its way, so it’s only time before we see Helen grapple with the stress once more.

Mindhunter (2017-2019)

mindhunter-anna-torv-social-featured
Image via Netflix

Set in the 1970s, Dr. Wendy Carr (Torv) is one member of the Behavioral Science Unit, doing early work in order to profile serial killers. Carr shares the research’s goal with partners, FBI agents Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Trench (Holt McCallany), who take the grunt work in interviewing incarcerated serial killers. They hope to compile enough research to detect future violent offenders, although they hit roadblocks on the way to prove this work could be useful. In talking to infamous killers, and listening to the audio recordings, the three seemingly are desensitized to it all. But their personal lives suffer from the walls they put up inside.

Dr. Carr, although she doesn’t have as much of an active role in the interviews, isn’t immune from this. Carefully separating work and personal life, Wendy has succeeded too well. She’s in the closet, viewing a career as a more important path than living an authentic life. When she does open up to a date, which turns into a relationship, Wendy isn’t able to realize her own faults when the problems arise. Keeping people at a distance doesn’t prove beneficial to Dr. Carr, and along with Ford and Trench, this trio get lost in the darkness. Watch on Netflix.

Fires (2021)

Anna Torv in the Australian series Fires.

Lally Robinson (Torv) is part of this ensemble of characters played by a who’s who of Australian A-listers. Mirando Otto (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) and Sam Worthington (Avatar: The Way of Water) star in episodes of this anthology series, which takes place during the real-life bushfires in Australia between 2019-2020. This immense destruction in the country that would become known as the Black Summer. Lally and her husband represent the residents who want to stick it out, without understanding the danger they will have to face. When he leaves for what should only be for a few hours, Lally is left in charge of prepping the property, noticing the ash that rains down.

She resides in a beachside town, where residents and tourists are suddenly forced to evacuate due to an advanced imminent threat level. Volunteer firefighters (Eliza Scanlan and Hunter Page-Lochard), who have seen the fires’ devastation, try to persuade Lally to leave, though she firmly stays put. Anxiety grows during the exchange, especially when the firefighters ask for her full name. When Lally wonders why, they state it’s for the coroner, should it be needed. As night falls, Lally’s assured state of mind cracks further. Fear takes over as her husband is unable to get home and everyone else in her neighborhood has left. How important is a home and is it worth risking your life? Lally is forced to wonder that.

The Last of Us (2023-)

Bella Ramsey as Ellie and Anna Torv as Tess in The Last of Us Episode 2
Image via HBO

Joel (Pedro Pascal) turns into a reluctant father figure, protecting Ellie (Bella Ramsey) in a world that has gone to hell due to a global pandemic. If it isn’t the zombie-like infected they have to worry about, it’s the remaining human population. Joel and Ellie aren’t truly alone; allies do come to their aid, like Torv’s Tess Servopoulos. She’s a hardened survivor, repressing regret on bad things she has done in the past with Joel. Once Ellie comes into their care, Tess is the first to realize how special the girl’s immunity to the infection is. She believes in hope of a better future, something she’s forgotten about.

Tess can more than handle her own in high-stress situations, but in the small, quieter moments, Tess becomes a more fascinating character, as does the series. In the adaptation of the video game, The Last of Us finds a poignancy in character moments. It pulls the layers away from the hard shells these people have callused over themselves for survival. Tess’ development is subtle, her attitude toward Joel changing once she knows he doesn’t share the hope she’s gained. Her fate is tragic, yet it’s so good to watch Torv’s performance. Watch on HBO Max.