10 Iconic Final Girls From Horror Movies, Ranked By Badassness – Screen Rant

Horror’s final girls tend to be badasses. But some, like Halloween’s Laurie Strode, are more badass than others, like Friday the 13th’s Alice Hardy.
2022 has been a terrific year for horror movies, introducing some great new characters to the classic “final girl” canon. Survivors of horror films like Maxine from X, Naru from Prey, and the Carpenter sisters from the Scream “requel” will surely rank alongside slasher icons like Laurie Strode and Sally Hardesty when fans reflect on the scary movies that audiences have been treated to this year.
Final girls are some of the most badass characters in all of horror cinema. But some of them, like Ellen Ripley from the Alien franchise and Sidney Prescott from the Scream franchise, are more badass than others, like Alice Hardy from the original Friday the 13th.
In his new book Cinema Speculation, Quentin Tarantino describes Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as one of the few perfect Hollywood movies. It’s an intense thrill ride from beginning to end that creates as much terror with what is left out of the frame as what is included in it.
But, as great as the movie is, its final girl Sally Hardesty is more of an everywoman than a badass. She deserves her happy ending, escaping from Leatherface’s lair and jumping into a passing vehicle, but she catches a lucky break when a commuter happens to be driving by.
When Marion Crane is shockingly killed off at the midpoint of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Psycho, the camera scrambles to find a new focus. It follows her killer Norman Bates for a while before taking the perspective of Marion’s sister, Lila.
Lila takes it upon herself to investigate her sister’s disappearance when the police fail to crack the case. She ends up uncovering Norman’s deepest, darkest secret and lives to tell the tale.
Wes Craven shook up the slasher formula with a supernatural element in A Nightmare on Elm Street. The movie’s final girl, Nancy Thompson, figures out how to outsmart dream-stalking killer Freddy Krueger and confronts him on his own metaphysical turf.
When it becomes clear that she can’t just deprive herself of sleep forever, Nancy takes matters into her own hands to defeat Freddy.
Alice Hardy is the only character to survive the first Friday the 13th movie. She doesn’t just make it through the night unscathed; she takes out the killer to avenge her friends. But after decapitating Mrs. Voorhees at the end of the first film, Alice gets killed off right at the beginning of the second one.
In Victor Miller’s original script, Alice was a much more complex and flawed character, but a limited budget meant that she had to be given a more straightforward characterization.
Tree Gelbman is killed by a masked assailant early on in Happy Death Day, but then she wakes up and goes through the same day all over again. And when she gets killed at the end of that day, she wakes up on the same day again.
Like Phil Connors, Tree is trapped in a time loop – except this time loop has a murderer instead of a groundhog. To escape from the time loop, Tree has to outwit her repeated killer.
The trendsetting holiday horror classic Black Christmas was one of the first mainstream movies to feature an abortion storyline. Its heroine, Jess Bradford, is one of the great feminist heroes of horror cinema. She doesn’t just take on a killer; she takes on the patriarchy.
Although her earliest iconic role was Juliet Capulet in Franco Zeffirelli’s Shakespeare movie, Olivia Hussey earned the lucrative title of “scream queen” after her empowering portrayal of Jess in Black Christmas.
Adam Wingard brilliantly satirized the rich in You’re Next as a darkly comedic chamber piece about a wealthy family convening at a remote country mansion is interrupted by a band of killers in animal masks. What they don’t count on is everywoman Erin Harson, one of the rich kids’ girlfriends, being ready to exact revenge.
Throughout the movie, Erin uses her courage, quick wits, and a series of gruesome booby traps to thwart every single killer that invades the house.
The trope-defining “final girl” character against which all others are judged is Laurie Strode from Halloween. Played by horror movie royalty Jamie Lee Curtis, Laurie is a plucky, relatable high schooler who has no idea what she’s getting into when she accepts a babysitting gig on Halloween night.
When Michael Myers arrives to kill her, she doesn’t scream and cower like her fellow teens; she steps up to the plate and very nearly kills the unkillable monster.
After revamping the slasher genre with a paranormal aspect in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven revitalized the struggling subgenre yet again with the sly self-awareness of Scream. Neve Campbell’s lead character, Sidney Prescott, flies in the face of every convention of the “final girl” trope.
Most notably, Sidney bends the rules to achieve the horror movie paradox of being sexually active and singlehandedly defeating the killer(s).
Sigourney Weaver proved just how badass female action heroes could be with her turn as Ellen Ripley in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror masterpiece Alien. Like the rest of the Nostromo crew, Ripley is introduced as a regular, unheroic person. She and her co-workers are essentially the futuristic space-bound equivalent of truckers.
But by the end of the movie, after a bloodthirsty extraterrestrial has picked off the rest of the crew, she proves her grit by killing the monster and escaping from the doomed vessel.
NEXT: 10 Ways Alien Still Holds Up Today
Ben Sherlock is a writer, comedian, independent filmmaker, and Burt Reynolds enthusiast. He writes lists for Screen Rant and features and reviews for Game Rant. He's currently in pre-production on his first feature (and has been for a while, because filmmaking is expensive). You can catch him performing standup at odd pubs around the UK that will give him stage time. Previously, he wrote for Taste of Cinema, Comic Book Resources, and BabbleTop.


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