It is no secret that I love horror movies. One of my favorite things in a horror movie is a “Final Girl.” A Final Girl is a term coined to refer to the trope of the last female character who is left alive to confront the killer and tell the story. Final Girls come from all walks of life but they all live through torment and torture. As the genre of horror grows and evolves, so does the role of a Final Girl. This is by no means a list of all Final Girls, but it is a rounded list. Some of comedic elements while some are straight up slasher survivors.
Oh, and obviously there are spoilers below. So proceed with caution. You got your popcorn and your candy handy? You think you’re ready? Okay, then put on shoes you can run in, stay away from the stairs and let’s see who survives.
Sally Hardesty The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. We have to start with this lady as she is arguably the first Final Girl. When Sally, her brother and some friends go to visit their grandfather’s grave the road trip takes a turn. The group ends up with a crazy family of cannibals. After seeing everyone else die and living through torture Sally stumbles her way out of danger. The end of the movie is her unhinged laughing, covered in blood in the back of the getaway truck. While Sally is not very proactive on her own she does live and becomes therefore is the momma of the Final Girls.
Max Cartwright The Final Girls. Okay so I know this is the first unconventional entry to the list. The Final Girls is a parody and a love letter to the camp slasher genre. Max’s mother starred in a slasher hit and after her untimely death that movie is one of the only ways Max can see her. Unfortunately she and her friends get sucked into the movie. Max faces her fears of watching those around her die and becomes the hero they need to get out of the movie. Or do they?
Kirsty Cotton Hellraiser; Hellbound: Hellraiser II; Hellraiser: Hellseeker. Kirsty just, well she really goes through it in these movies. After her uncle dies Kirsty and her parents move into the family home. After an accident were blood is shed her uncle is resurrected. She finds her uncle’s puzzle box which leads to the unleashing of the cenobites. The cenobites wants to bring souls back to their sadomasochistic world. Kirsty escapes this dark thriller and comes out even stronger in the sequel where she uses her connection to the cenobites to help her out of a terrifying mental hospital. Kirsty uses the tools at hand to survive and be the Final Girl of this twisted franchise.
Needy Jennifer’s Body. Needy seems like she is all of us for so much of the movie. She is the voice of reason throughout so much of this cult classic.When Needy and her best friend go to see an indie band play at a local bar everything changes. Boys start being attacked and Needy finds out it is a demon that has taken over her friend in a ritual gone wrong. Now Needy and Jennifer square off in an attempt to stop the killings. Needy then takes it a step farther to get revenge on the band who ruined her life in the first place. Needy goes from a shy and mousy girl to an actual badass whose chart says that she is a K-I-C-K-E-R.
Rhonda Trick R Treat. Trick R Treat is an anthology of stories that happen on Halloween night. Rhonda isn’t like most of the kids in her town. They take it upon themselves to play a Halloween prank on her that goes wrong. However Rhonda survives. She uses her knowledge and respect for the traditions of the night to make it home alive when the others do not. Rhonda is a Final Girl who proves that being different can be the key to your survival.
Mia Allen Evil Dead. Mia is the hero of this remake, not to be confused with the groovy original. Mia is trying to get clean so she, her brother and their friends go to a remote cabin in the woods. After reading from an ancient book aloud terrible things start to happen. Mia gets possessed and the dead rise with the intent to drag souls to hell. While Mia does spend a good chunk of the movie possessed she does become a Final Girl when she takes matters, and a chainsaw, into her own hands. Mia is a great example that anyone can take control of their situation and become their own hero.
Sidney Prescott Scream; Scream 2; Scream 3; Scream 4. The scream queen of meta herself. This list would not be complete without Sidney, partially because she is amazing and partially because these are some of my favorite horror movies. The Scream series came out just when I started being allowed to watch horror movies and they helped to cement my love of them. Sidney is still recovering from the murder of her mother when suddenly her classmates begin to be killed in the first movie. With all of her friends as both potential victims and suspects how is Sid supposed to survive? Her quick thinking and will to survive help her make it through all of the movies in this franchise as we get to see Sid grow stronger in each film. So remember the rules, then throw out the rules and learn the new rules of how to survive a horror movie!
Nancy Thompson A Nightmare on Elm Street; A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Nancy helped create a whole new franchise in the horror genre. When Freddy Krueger is killed by a vigilante mob of parents they think their children will be safe. That is until he starts to kill a group of teens in their sleep. Nancy fights sleep and for answers to help her stop Freddy. In the end she is able to use her own dream world against Freddy as she finds her own power within it. She then works to help new teens who are fighting Freddy.
Alice Friday the 13th. Alice really sets the mold for a Final Girl for a long time. She is a kind and mousy girl who ends up being the survivor. Alice comes to Camp Crystal Lake for what is supposed to be it’s grand reopening to be a counselor. She and the rest of the staff ignore the warnings of the “harbinger” character, in this case an old man who tells them that they will all die at the camp. Alice then cheerfully gets to work, and a little play, to set up camp for the incoming campers. However the campers never get to come as staff get murdered one by one. Alice discovers the bodies, the backstory of Jason and fights for her own survival. Horror fans owe her a lot for helping give us so many of the rules to survive a horror movie and for helping put camp based slasher flicks on the map, also her scene in the boat scared my horror fanatic mother beyond belief.
Laurie Strode Halloween; Halloween II; H20: 20 Years Later; Halloween 2018. We started this list with a woman who helped start the genre and now we will end with a woman who has kept the genre going. Laurie is the first Final Girl that most horror fans will think of, and rightfully so. Her battles with the boogeyman Micheal Myers have been going on since the 1970s. Laurie is also the Final Girl we have gotten to see evolve the most. She survived the first movie and saved the children in her care due to her quick thinking, we saw her struggle with alcoholism and guilt throughout many of the other movies. Then we got to see her have a whole new story in the 2018 movie where the entire story line was erased from movie one on and changed to give us a gritty veteran obsessed with survival. Laurie has endured decades of horror and now stands tall as the epitome of a female in the horror genre, as well as paving the way for many heroines after her.
Well gang, we did it. Ten ladies who have made the horror genre. They have scared us, made us laugh and feel through the years. They have given their actual blood, sweat and tears to entertain fans. So now we salute them. It is time for this article to come to an end as I have eaten enough popcorn and candy to be feeling very sick. So take care of yourselves gentle readers and go watch some movies, you might learn something.
Oh and I didn’t include some of my favorites from foreign films in this list because, well, we already covered them here.
ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!