One of the most important components in the successful execution of a slasher film is the inclusion of a likable, capable, and memorable final girl. The final girl (or survivor girl) is the character that is resourceful enough to make it to the end of the film to do battle with the deranged killer that has targeted her and her friends from the get-go. She is the one to send the maniac back to hell, the grave, a mental institution, or wherever it is that the killer has escaped from. She is the one that remains to call the police and tell the story as to what happened. The final girl is then the one who will likely spend the rest of her life looking over her shoulder and suffering a series of PTSD-induced nightmares, as well as the inability to maintain a close relationship with anyone other than her therapist.
Even if the final girl may never be able to realistically lead a normal life again, it is she for whom we cheer. It is her cleverness, capability, and strength through which we live vicariously. In celebration of some of the bravest survivor girls every to grace the big screen, we bring you 8 of the most memorable final girls of all time.
Sally from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Sally (Marilyn Burns) is an early prototype for the slasher film survivor girl and definitely one of the most memorable final girls in horror. She bravely takes on a family of backwoods horror creeps and emerges victorious. Many final girls to come after her have been modeled on her intense bravery and sheer will to survive but she holds the distinction of being one of the very first.
Nancy from the Nightmare on Elm Street series
Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) is the quintessential final girl: She is tough, brave, resourceful, and fans of the franchise have loved her since they first laid eyes on her. Nancy was the final girl in A Nightmare on Elm Street and devastated fans when she fell victim to Fred Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part III. But Nancy lived to fight another day – in one form or another – in the conclusion to the franchise, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Heather Langenkamp defeated Fred Krueger one final time.
Alice from Friday the 13th
Alice emerged victorious in the original Friday the 13th film and returned for the second installment only to get killed off in the first ten minutes of the sequel. Fans love Alice because she knows how to hold her own; she bravely took on the schizophrenic, Mrs. Voorhees and triumphed. Adrienne King, who plays Alice, had real life problems with a stalker and left Hollywood for a long while as a result. But channeling her inner final girl, Adrienne King has recently returned to acting and her fans couldn’t be happier to see her back in action.
Ginny from Friday the 13th Part II
Part of what makes Ginny such an archetypal final girl is that she is a student of psychology, so she is able to appeal to Jason from a place of actually understanding his psychosis. Amy Steele was such an effective survivor girl in Friday the 13th Part II that she was again cast as ‘would be’ final girl Kit in April Fool’s Day.
Sidney from the Scream franchise
Sidney Prescott is like Laurie Strode for the children of the ‘90s. She embodies a lot of the characteristics that make Laurie so relatable to audiences: Sid is a survivor and she only grows stronger when members of her family and people she loves repeatedly betray her. Sidney confronts her problems head on and triumphs in the face of evil. Neve Campbell was the perfect choice for the role at the time the original film was made and she is still one of the ultimate final girls today.
Ripley from the Alien series
It’s hard to think of any character, male or female, in any film that is braver or more determined than Ripley in Alien. Sigourney Weaver and Meryl Streep were both considered for the role and I think its safe to say that Weaver was the right choice. Ripley is so capable and so resourceful that it’s no surprise she was cloned and subsequently brought back to life in the lukewarm fourth installment.
Kirsty from the Hellraiser franchise
Pinhead is a formidable opponent and Kirsty stood up to him and his band of demons like it was no big deal. Ashley Laurence embodies Kirsty in a way that can never be replicated but her turn as Kirsty has inspired countless performances in numerous horror films since the first Hellraiser was released. She is absolutely one of the most memorable final girls in horror.
Laurie from the Halloween films
Jamie Lee Curtis has been the survivor girl in a series of slasher films, from Terror Train, to Prom Night, to Halloween. Her characters embody the bravery and fortitude that make her the obvious choice to be the last woman standing. act Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in the original Halloween is a pretty hard act to top. Laurie is tough and resilient; she values the lives she is charged with caring for even more than her own and her selflessness pays off when she survives three Halloween films; unfortunately succumbing to her maniacal brother in the poorly put together Halloween: Resurrection.
Who do you think are the most memorable final girls of horror? Let us know in the comments below.