All (or most) horror films have their bold, fearless, and audacious final girls. They’re the last ones standing, usually in a puddle of everyone else’s blood. While the other characters are butchered by the villain, the final girl is clever enough to outsmart the bad guy.
The final girl becomes the person we root for, the person we want to see slash the evil demon once and for all. Over the years, horror movies have given us a host of savage slasher chicks – from Sally Hardesty to Laurie Strode. Here’s the ultimate countdown of these butt-kicking heroines.
Jeryline – Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight
With a bright pixie cut and fierce demeanor, Jeryline, played by Jada Pinkett Smith, is an ex-con who becomes a heroine by using her intelligence to kill off evil demons. In the midst of all the horror and blood-filled shots, Jeryline shows she’s a final girl who is well-deserving of a spot on this list.
Unlike a lot of other characters in horror films, Jeryline doesn’t succumb to the villain’s traps. She attempts to find ways to escape her criminal past and longs to see and experience the world to the fullest. Her character is far from perfect, but it’s precisely that complexity that makes her relatable and loved by many horror fans.
Maddie Young – Hush
Hush’s final girl, Maddie Young (played by Kate Siegel), is a deaf and mute writer, isolated in her little home in the woods. When a masked attacker invades her space, the silent novelist uses her strong and independent nature to fight for her life.
Scary movies have often failed to portray people with disabilities. For that reason, Maddie is quite the groundbreaking final girl. Her strength is what allows her to survive. She doesn’t let her disabilities weigh her down. If anything, they make her stronger.
Adelaide Williams – Us
Adelaide Williams (played by Lupita Nyong’o) is one of the most interesting final girls on this list. The movie “Us” is a social commentary criticizing the world we live in, focusing heavily on the idea of inequality. And Adelaide, the movie’s protagonist, is a sly heroine whose clever moves manage to save her life.
Adelaide fights for the lives of her loved ones when their evil doppelgangers attack. Luckily, she does so cleverly. And her relationship with her doppelganger is what helps pave her (and her family’s) path to freedom.
Suzy Banyon – Suspiria
The startling yet stunning 1977 Italian horror film Suspiria uses vibrant colors to create a surreal ambiance, making this movie even more unique. Adding to its fascinating setting and storyline is the movie’s final girl, Suzy Banyon.
Banyon is an American ballerina who enrolls in a fancy German dance academy. However, she quickly discovers that things are far from what they seem, as several characters die at the school shortly after she arrives. As it turns out, the academy was founded by a witch. Banyon manages to fight off her female enemy, turning her into one butt-kicking final girl.
Ginny Field – Friday the 13th, Part II
The second final girl in the franchise, Ginny Field, is an unconventional heroine. Unlike many other final girls on this list, Ginny isn’t a “good girl” and a “virgin.” She’s your average teen who parties, has sex, and drinks alcohol.
In Part II, Jason is on a killing spree, and to fight him off, Ginny uses clever tactics that require some fast thinking. She even puts on his mom’s sweater to disguise her identity. After halting his attack, she thrusts a machete at him and escapes.
Alice Hardy – Friday the 13th
Friday the 13th’s original final girl, Alice Hardy, was a camp counselor at Crystal Lake. In the film, she takes down Jason’s mother, Mrs. Voorhees, who is out there seeking revenge for her son who drowned 21 years earlier.
Alice shows no fear and bludgeons Mrs. Voorhees with a fireplace poker. She manages to get away but is attacked again. In response, she knocks her out with a frying pan. Hooray! Not fully down, Mrs. Voorhees comes for a third time with a machete, and after a lengthy battle, Alice emerges victorious by slicing her opponent’s head off.
Thomasin – The Witch
The 2015 eerie horror movie The Witch introduced us to Thomasin (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), a heroine living in the 17th century in New England. One by one, Thomasin witnesses her family losing their sanity to witchcraft and black sorcery.
The movie ends with Thomasin, levitating and laughing in the woods, rising triumphant, proud of her fortitude. Considering all the hardships she sustained throughout the film, Thomasin deserves to be on this list, despite not being considered a traditional slasher chick.
Karla Wilson — I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
While the sequel to the original slasher film “I Know What You Did Last Summer” isn’t as good, it’s still a worthy watch. It spices up the ensemble by hiring some interesting and diverse actors including Brandy Norwood and Mekhi Phifer.
The movie supposedly takes place one year after the events of the original film and is one of the first movies to deal with the harrowing issue of PTSD that comes from living through a traumatic event (such as the one the guys in the original movie experienced). In comes this movie’s final girl – Karla Wilson…
Feisty and Tough
Karla, played by Brandy Norwood, is Julie James’ best friend, and she is well aware of Julie’s traumatic past. Still, she pushes Julie to live to her fullest again, and not let her past weigh her down! They end up traveling to a tropical island for a nice, sunny vacation when tragedy strikes.
Just as Julie tries to get her life together, a killer storms in and tries to murder them. The two split up, and Karla gets herself involved in one of the most gripping chase scenes in the history of modern horror films. Thanks to Karla’s fast thinking, she manages to avoid the killer and reunite with Julie again.
Sarah Connor — The Terminator
Every few horror movies a final girl comes along who is so influential that her character development spans years. The Terminator’s leading lady, Sarah Connor, is a great example. Originally played by Linda Hamilton, Sarah appeared in the first film as a typical damsel-in-distress.
But in “Terminator 2: Judgement Day,” she became a bold protagonist. Sarah turns into a hardened warrior who has sacrificed a lot to prevent an apocalypse from ruining the world. Years later, Linda Hamilton returned in 2019’s “Terminator: Dark Fate,” portraying a mentor who protects her young protegee from impending doom.
From Weak to Jacked Fighter
Sarah’s transformation from a weak and defenseless young woman in the first film, to a savage fighter and expert warrior in the sequel, is one of the most remarkable character changes in the history of horror movies.
When she returned to the franchise in “Dark Fate,” Linda Hamilton easily got into character again as the strong-willed heroine. But don’t be mistaken! Even though she became slightly cold and tough on the inside, she still offered warmth to those whom she believed needed it.
Deena Johnson — Fear Street
One of the contemporary final girls on this list, Deena Johnson is the main protagonist in the horror trilogy “Fear Street,” based on a book series written by R.L. Stine. Played by Kiana Madiera, Deena is a teenager living in a town called Shadyside.
The town is cursed and terrorized by an ancient evil spirit that’s responsible for a series of killings. The first movie is set in 1994, but its two sequels show flashbacks to 1978 and 1666. Deena is one of the rarer final girls on this list – being both gay and a woman of color.
Brave and Resourceful
Brave and passionate, Deena is determined to save her girlfriend, who has been possessed by the evil spirit that haunts their town. The one thing that sets Fear Street apart from other slasher films is the cast.
There are no weak characters. Each one is strongly felt, showcasing a dominant and bold personality. The performances, as well as the horror elements, make this scary trilogy a must-see! Mark this for next year’s Halloween binge.
Dani Ordor – Midsommar
Now, I know this film isn’t your traditional slasher film. But it’s one creepy, creepy, CREEPY piece of cinema. The story follows Dani (Florence Pugh), as she follows her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) on his trip to a folk festival in Sweden.
So far, so good, right? At is turns out, this seemingly utopian community morphs into a bizarre, blood-shedding cult. Things get unbelievably weird, but, bottom line, Dani deserves a spot on this list because she is the cult’s “May Queen” (and we absolutely loved her acting).
Jess Bradford – Black Christmas (1974)
There’s nothing better than watching a good horror movie during the holidays when it’s snowy and dark outside and the fireplace is crackling. 1974’s Black Christmas was one of the year’s underrated movies (like many other horror flicks, it was outshined by Texas Chain Saw).
But it’s a worthy mention, nonetheless, and so is its final girl, Jess Bradford: a sorority girl played by the beautiful Olivia Hussey. In the film, Jess is in the process of getting an abortion and is busy arguing with her artist boyfriend about baby issues. But all that is interrupted when…
Her Boyfriend Starts Killing Everyone
Sorry for the spoiler by the way. But that’s basically what ends up happening. Actually, no, Jess is found lying beside her boyfriend Peter’s dead body. So, the police ASSUME he is the killer. But the ending is somewhat ambiguous because the killer’s voice is again heard from the attic.
Jess, being the absolute savage she is, remains the last sorority girl standing. She lived through all the deadly murders, saw her Greek sisters go down one by one, but kept her head held high and absolutely wrecked her boyfriend (whom she thought was the killer).
Dana Polk – The Cabin in the Woods
Played by Kristen Conolly, Dana Polk is The Cabin in the Woods’ final girl. She’s good-hearted and kind and somewhat dumbed-down and innocent. Basically, she’s the naïve virgin of the film who ends up inadvertently summoning some zombies.
In the end, Dana stops playing the nice girl, and her survival instincts take over her morality when she ends up pointing a gun at her friend Marty. Her dynamic personality is what makes her one of the most memorable girls on this list.
Sarah Carter – The Descent
Horror films are known to have usually one or two girl survivors, but in The Descent, writer-director Neil Marshall decided to cast way more. Indeed, his all-girl cast is one of the most alluring parts of this modern horror movie. That and Sarah Carter (played by Shauna Macdonald).
The film shows six friends reuniting for a fun adventure in the Appalachian Mountains. However, this getaway goes terribly wrong when tensions between the girls begin to rise, and untold secrets start to surface. Spoiler alert ahead…
Left in a Cave to Be Eaten Alive
Eventually, Sarah leaves Juno alone in a dark and dreary cave. She abandons her, handing her out just like that, like a piece of rotting flesh to be eaten alive by some flesh-eating demons that live underneath the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Sarah does what she has to do to come out on top. As it turns out, the movie has a sequel for U.S. audiences which is supposed to be a follow-up with a much happier ending. But we prefer the gory and dire ending of the U.K. version.
Erin Harson – You’re Next
In one of the creepiest horror flicks in recent memory, You’re Next, Erin Harson, the movie’s final girl, is a savage survivor who was raised by her dad on a survivalist compound. Erin, played by Sharni Vinson, starts hunting down the family stalkers, one by one, and proves that she’s way stronger than any phony in a costume.
While the killers in this film find it easy to kill their family members, they find it way harder to take down Erin, a tough girl who grew up in the Missouri wilderness. She sets up a bunch of booby traps and makes their lives a whole lot harder.
Mia Allen – Evil Dead
In 2013, Fede Alvarez decided to bring back the Evil Dead and made a few tweaks in order to make it stand apart from the original. This time, he decided that the protagonist should be a more traditional scream queen. So, he brought in actress Jane Levy.
Apart from being a final girl, Mia Allen, played by Jane Levy, is also the lead character, which means that she’s both possessed by a demon and goes on to kick one herself. Mia is the first victim to be taunted, but she ends up getting her revenge.
That Iconic Tongue Splitting Moment
Mia Allen does some crazy things in this 2013 version, including splitting her tongue in half to sprinkle some sugar on another possessed body. As if that wasn’t savage enough, by the end of the movie, she rips her own hand out from under a crashed car.
She then grabs a chainsaw and saws right between the teeth of a demon who taunts her: “I will feast on your soul.” In a classy moment, she responds, “Feast on this motherf*cker.” What a glorious moment of victory for the movie’s final girl!
Gale Weathers – Scream\Scream 2\Scream 4
The Scream franchise in general has a truly special place in the realm of horror flicks. And so do its final girls. Gale Weathers, played by Courtney Cox, is an ambitious journalist who is chased down by the Ghostface Killer and his copycats.
No matter how many dead bodies she has to document, Gale is always at the top of her game. Even if one of her cameramen gets killed, it’s fine, the show must go on. In a way, this self-serving attitude of hers is a bit endearing.
Nancy Thompson – A Nightmare on Elm Street\ Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
There have been a lot of final girls over the years, and some are more impressive than others. But the character of Nancy Thompson, played by Heather Langenkamp, has surely topped them all. No one has had as bloody a match with her killer as Nancy has.
In A Nightmare on Elm Street, Nancy is a clever and witty character, not your usual clueless doe-eyed scream queen. Being as tough as her killer, Freddy Krueger, Nancy manages to defeat him with the help of some woo-woo, new age spirituality shtick.
A Monstrous Demon
The relationship between Nancy and Freddy becomes so personal that it is also the focus of Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. The only person who can stop Freddy from slashing everyone is his original enemy, Nancy. But in the film, she plays herself, Heather.
Heather starts receiving calls from a crazed Freddy Krueger fan who quotes him in a really creepy voice. She then begins to have nightmares about Freddy, her son Dylan falls sick, becomes super paranoid about Freddy, and once again, Heather, the final girl, sets out to save the day.
Tree Gelbman — Happy Death Day
The newest film on this list, Happy Death Day is an underrated horror flick that could be described as somewhat of a blend between Scream and Groundhog Day. A huge part of what makes this movie tick is its charismatic lead, Theresa “Tree” Gelbman (played by Jessica Rothe).
Tree finds herself repeatedly murdered on her birthday (yes, bizarre). After mysteriously waking up the day after her murder, she sets out to find her killer and to stop her death from happening in the first place. It’s a thrilling race against time!
Tina Shepard — Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
There are more than a dozen final girls attributed to the Friday the 13th Franchise, but none have been as memorable as Tina Shepard in “The New Blood.” Born with telekinetic powers, Tina is an unpopular teen who is bullied by her peers.
On top of that, she’s also dealing with the guilt of accidentally causing her dad’s death. Indeed, Tina’s life experiences have turned her into one resilient final girl. When she comes face to face with the evil Jason Vorhees, she uses her special ability to tear him down.
A Shocking Electrocution
Living through so many emotional obstacles (like the memory of her deceased father) hasturned Tina into one of the most resilient final girls on this list. Using her magical abilities, she electrocutes Jason Vorhees and sets fire to a cabin while he’s still inside.
She then uses all her energy to conjure her dad’s spirit, who happily drags Jason’s body into the deep waters. While a lot of final girls on this list survive out of sheer luck, Tina survives because she has superpowers (can it get any cooler than that?).
Jamie Lloyd – Halloween 4\Halloween 5
Unlike other final girls on this list, Jamie Lloyd is an actual “girl,” in the sense that she’s a child, which puts her on a higher risk level than the rest. Seeing as she is a bit more helpless in the face of all the dangers of the Halloween franchise, Jamie Lloyd, played by Danielle Harris, deserves all the respect she can get.
In the franchise’s last films, Michael Myers made some drastic changes. This time, the storyline revolved around an eight-year-old girl, the orphaned daughter of Laurie Strode from the original Halloween movies. Like her mom, Jamie is in constant danger of being ripped apart.
The Myers Curse Lives On…
Child star Danielle Harris did pretty well in this role, particularly in the fifth movie, where her pantomime gestures (the horror of the fourth film left her mute) grant her instant sympathy. Also, she absolutely perfected the part where she finds her dead dog and adopted sister splattered on the ground.
Despite the films’ mixed reviews, the fear in little Jamie Lloyd’s eyes, and the guilt she develops in the face of all the death around her is what has kept the franchise going. It could have easily turned into a self-parody without Jamie Lee Curtis. But thanks to Danielle Harris, it really wasn’t half bad.
Kirsty Cotton – Hellraiser
Hellraiser is one sadomasochistic, gory work of art. The movie’s final girl, Kirsty Cotton, played by Ashely Laurence, finds herself summoning this demon named Pinhead. He’s the film’s lead Cenobite and strives from seeing Kirsty suffer.
Kirsty obviously doesn’t want to be skinned alive, but the miscommunication between both characters and the complex monster\heroine dynamics at play in this film are what make the movie especially disturbing and intriguing.
Back to the Psych Ward
Kirsty Cotton is arguably at her peak in Hellbound: Hellraiser II, where she stays in likely the worst psychiatric ward of all time and is helpless as her doctors allow for the gates of another realm of horror to swallow her alive.
This time, however, she saves herself as well as a young woman who is also being tormented by Cenobite. She makes sure that all the bad people in the hospital get what they deserve. A true, heroic final girl!
Alice Johnson — A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise is full of strong final girls. However, there are a couple who stand out from the rest. One of them is Alice Johnson, who first starred in 1988’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.” She was the best friend of the film’s original protagonist, Kristen Parker.
Kristen passes her supernatural powers to Alice before being slaughtered by Freddy Krueger. While Alice already had her own abilities, she became even more powerful after receiving Kristen’s strength, making her the ultimate Dream Master.
Freddy’s Worst Nightmare
As time went on, Alice grew stronger by gaining the “dream powers” of Freddy’s other victims as well. This made her one of the most formidable enemies Freddy faced. After defeating him at the end of the fourth film, Alice starts a relationship with Dan Jordan (one of the survivors).
She becomes pregnant, which sets off the sequel – “A Nightmare on Elm Steet 5: The Dream Child.” In the movie, Freddy returns (no surprise there) in the hopes of being reborn in the body of her unborn child.
Ellen Ripley – Alien
Played by Sigourney Weaver, Ellen Ripley was the heroine of the psychosexual thriller Alien. Spoiler alert – she ends up being the film’s sole female survivor and, lucky for her, sees all her friends and colleagues get butchered by a mysterious force.
While Alien is also considered sci-fi, it’s definitely part of the horror genre as well. So, Ellen Ripley deserves a spot on this list. Many would even argue that she’s one of the best final girls the genre has ever produced.
Ripley Was Supposed to Be a Final Boy
As it turns out, Ellen Ripley was actually supposed to be a male character. Instead, they made her a woman. A smart, witty, quick-thinking woman who is hands down the best amongst her peers. When the crew is told about the danger they’re facing, Ripley is the only one who doesn’t lose it.
Instead, she follows the book and gets to be one step ahead of her fellow crewmembers. She uses the crew’s cat to warn them of the impending horror and uses it as an alarm while slashing her way to becoming the sole survivor of the ship.
Sidney Prescott – Scream Franchise
The character of Sidney Prescott is an interesting character who has developped a lot over the years. She’s the star of the first, second, third, and fourth Scream films, and an ultimate final girl indeed. For four movies, she is stalked by Ghostface, a mass murderer who was originally her boyfriend.
Played by Neve Campbell, Sidney Prescott starts out in the first film as a prototypical teen of the ’90s, a good-hearted virgin girl who is going about her life, harming no one. In the second film, she tries to start a new life after the trauma she suffered in the first one.
A Social Recluse Locked Up in the Woods
By the third film in the franchise, Sidney Prescott drops out of college and becomes a total introvert. She locks herself up in the woods and decides to work for a suicide hotline instead. In the fourth film, she finally gains some strength.
She becomes a self-help author who is no longer running from Ghostface. Instead, she runs straight into his house, ready to kick the menace right in the face. Considering the impressive string of Ghostface killers she has demolished over the years, Sidney Prescott definitely deserves a spot on this list.
Laurie Strode – Halloween Franchise
One of the most legendary final girls, Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, was dubbed the official “Scream Queen.” The character first graced our screens in 1978, in the first Halloween film of the franchise.
A young and brave woman, Laurie is the prototypical “virginal good girl” of the film, but she isn’t spared because she’s “purer” than the rest. The killer is after her too. But unlike her friends, Laurie is fast and aware of her surroundings, so she manages to notice if someone is standing behind her.
She Made a Comeback
In a truly gripping scene, the killer chases Laurie down the street and corners her in smaller and smaller alleys, until finally, she is saved by psychiatrist Dr. Samuel Loomis. Even though she had some help surviving the horror, Laurie (played by Jamie) certainly gave one hell of a performance.
In the film Halloween H20:20 Years Later, Laurie, now 20 years older, is a prep school dean with an alarming drinking problem. She’s also a paranoid helicopter mom, which is actually pretty useful because, as it turns out, her evil brother returns from the dead and tries to kill her and her teenage son. Luckily, she manages to chop his head off with an ax.
Sally Hardesty – The Texas Chain Massacre
Sally Hardesty is one of the most savage final girls on this list. Played by Marilyn Burns, Sally is a wide-eyed young girl who is forced to witness a host of gory incidents, including seeing her boyfriend, brother, and many more carved and slaughtered before her very eyes.
As if all that wasn’t enough, Sally Hardesty is also invited over for dinner at one point to munch on their remains. The Texas Chain Massacre was one of the original slasher movies and it paved the way for many more to come.
The First True Final Girl
It’s safe to say that Sally Hardesty is the first true final girl. While she didn’t do anything too spectacular to survive (she got away with getting killed out of sheer luck), she still deserves a spot on our list. It’s not easy seeing your loved ones carved and butchered.
Apart from being the first final girl, she’s also the one whose life was more terribly scarred than the rest of the girls on this list. The movie closes on her character, all covered in blood and laughing like a maniac as the sun rises on the horizon. Looks like it really messed her up…