The final girl trope has long been a staple in horror and refers to the last woman left standing to confront the killer. She’s the survivor left to tell the tale. Though the term was only coined in 1992 by film professor and author Carol J. Clover, the final girl has persisted for decades prior. The trope is so intertwined with the genre, that the phrase already triggers a long list of popular final girls at its mere mention. Laurie Strode, Nancy Thompson, Sidney Prescott, Alice Hardy, and Ellen Ripley are rightfully celebrated as the toughest women in horror. But they aren’t the only Final Girls worth celebrating. Whether their films were underseen, underrated, or forgotten, here’s 10 more final girls that deserve more love:
Alice Johnson – A Nightmare on Elm Street series
When it comes to this beloved series, most fans fondly recall Heather Langenkamp’s Nancy Thompson as their favorite final girl. While she deserves every bit of the praise and adoration, there’s another final girl in the franchise that’s often overlooked; Alice Johnson. Alice is introduced in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master as the best friend of Kristen Parker, the final girl from Dream Warriors. Alice begins the movie as a timid girl from a dysfunctional family, using her lucid dreaming as a means of escape. When Kristen pulled Alice into her nightmare, she transfers her powers to Alice upon her death. As the movie progresses, Alice amasses the power of every one of her friends killed by Freddy Krueger, making her one fierce adversary. No longer the shy girl, Alice becomes a force to be reckoned with. Her character growth makes her transition into final girl even more fun, but that she survives not one but two rounds with Freddy makes her deserving of far more attention than she’s received so far.
Jannicke – Cold Prey & Cold Prey 2
Cold Prey and its sequel aren’t exactly original; they borrow heavily from American slashers, namely Halloween and Friday the 13th. Fans of slashers will pick up immediately who will and won’t survive. Yet, they’re extremely stylish and brutal. The icy setting of the old, abandoned ski lodge makes for a thrilling location. Then there’s Jannicke, a strong-willed woman that seems a lot like Ginny Field from Friday the 13th Part 2. She’s half the size of the giant killer, but her athleticism and strong desire to live compensates for the massive size difference, resulting in a thrilling head-to-head battle. The killer isn’t fond of losing, though, and round two commences in the hospital set sequel (sound familiar?). When the staff and police fall violently at the hands of the revived mountain man, Jannicke once again faces off against him.
Barbara – Night of the Living Dead (1990)
The 1990 remake of Romero’s classic is an underrated gem in its own right; George Romero re-wrote the screenplay and persuaded Tom Savini to take on directorial duties after initially being hired to handle special effects. The most revelatory update to the zombie classic, however, was the reimagining of lead heroine Barbara. Unlike her 1968 counterpart, this Barbara doesn’t fall into a state of shock and hysterics upon losing her brother to a zombie in the film’s opening sequence. Instead, she becomes a vital asset to the group of survivors holed up in a farmhouse. Played by Patricia Tallman, this more modern take on Barbara eschews her shrinking violet nature in favor of intelligence and toughness. This version of Barbara not only outlasts on her wits alone but ruthlessly delivers a satisfying conclusion to the power battle between hero Ben (Tony Todd) and obnoxious jerk Harry Cooper (Tom Towles).
Meg Penny – The Blob (1988)
The amorphous monster at the center of this creature feature proved to be a terrifying match for even the military. Crash landing from space as a small entity, the Blob quickly amasses into a size that threatens to engulf the entire town. Enter Meg Penny (Shawnee Smith), an unwitting cheerleader that suffers perhaps the worst first date in history, when nice guy Paul becomes one of the first victims to be dissolved and devoured by the Blob. Yet, Meg doesn’t let it keep her down for long. She not only discovers the creature’s origins but also figures out the way to stop it. She also uses her charm to woo the town’s black sheep, Brian Flagg (Kevin Dillon), to assist in saving the day. When an entire town quarantined by the military are helpless, leave it to one pissed off cheerleader to take care of business.
Yasmine – Frontier(s)
Granted, this 2007 entry in the New French Extremity movement feels like countless horror films before it, borrowing memorable plotlines and moments from films like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes or Hostel. Yet the balls to the wall level of violence and gore was so over the top that it didn’t matter. The NC-17 rating slapped on by the MPAA is a giant clue that final girl Yasmine worked harder than perhaps anyone else on this list to earn her final girl status. The Neo-Nazi family that dispatches Yasmine’s friends are brutal, yet Yasmine matches their viciousness by ripping out the throats of her attackers, impaling them on a table saw, and using any means necessary to survive. This blood-soaked final girl takes no prisoners.
Taylor Gentry – Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
A clever mockumentary that lovingly pokes fun at the slasher genre also takes the relationship between final girl and killer in a whole different direction. Unlike most, where the killer stalks the final girl over the course of the film until the explosive showdown, this movie sees its final girl, Taylor Gentry, developing feelings for Leslie Vernon, as he shares his meticulous plan to slaughter teens over the course of one night. Once Taylor and her crew discover that Leslie’s plans for murder weren’t a farce, the film shifts to traditional horror, and the realization that Taylor was always the intended final girl makes for one of the most fun showdowns in slasher history. The foreplay between these would-be lovers is killer.
Megan Garris – Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
When it comes to this franchise, it’s usually the first two final girls of the series that hog the spotlight; Alice Hardy and Ginny Field. Yet it’s Jennifer Cooke’s sassy portrayal of Megan Garris that makes her my favorite final girl of the Friday the 13th series. Her zeal for breaking rules and rebelling against her father, Sheriff Mike Garris, makes for a lively counterpart to Tommy Jarvis’ (Thom Matthews) serious man on a mission. While Tommy, responsible for reviving Jason Voorhees in the first place, does all that he can to correct his mistake, it’s ultimately Megan that saves the day, both in rescuing a drowning Tommy and taking a boat motor to Voorhees’ neck. Final girls are known for their killer survival instincts, but Megan’s fearless passion for life sets her apart from the pack.
Tuffy – Feast
Tuffy doesn’t have a lot going for her when Feast begins. She’s a down on her luck waitress at a bar who moonlights as a prostitute, and her sole source of happiness is her young son. That happiness is ripped away from her violently, thanks to the gross creatures that descend upon the bar. When the bar patrons and purported heroes can’t seem to get their act together to ward off the creatures, Tuffy gets fed up and takes matters into her own hands. When both life and weird horny man-eating monsters keep Tuffy down, she fights back. Hard. Her revenge against the creatures earns her the title of “Heroine 2.”
Amy Harper – The Funhouse
Elizabeth Berridge’s Amy Harper begins as just another one of many horror teens that wished they’d obeyed their parents by the time the end credits begin to roll. Despite her father’s wishes, Amy sneaks out of the house to meet her new boyfriend, her best friend, and her best friend’s boyfriend to visit a traveling carnival. Sneaking around where they shouldn’t, the group ends up locked in the carnival’s funhouse for the night with a deformed Gunther in pursuit. It’s good girl Amy who winds up confronting the terrifying Gunther alone, resulting in one of the tensest final battles in slasher history. Of course, the unique setting helps. She may have been a simple good girl with a small rebellious streak, but her brutal slaying of her attacker earns her worthy final girl status.
Angela Vidal – [REC] series
What should have been a dull night covering the night shift at a local fire station became reporter Angela Vidal’s worst nightmare. A call results in Angela, her cameraman Pablo, and two firefighters investigating an aggressive woman locked in her apartment. You know the drill. The woman bites an officer, and before you know it this zombie-like rage virus spreads throughout the apartment building just as it’s quarantined. Just as lone survivor makes it all the way to the top, she seems to fall prey to the virus’ source, a very creepy Tristana Medeiros, and the camera cuts to black. For a final girl, it’s a pretty weak ending, right? Except, halfway through the sequel, REC 2, Angela is revealed to not only still be alive, but she’s kicking butt and determined to finally make it out of the building. Considering the sequel’s final reveal, a case could still be made against the plucky reporter for being a worthy final girl. Except, her return in the final entry in the series, REC 4: Apocalypse, has her squaring off against Medeiros infection once and for all. What should have been an easy reporting job turned into a hell that spanned three films, a possession by way of parasitic worm, an exorcism, and a whole lot of carnage in between. Perhaps she, more than anyone on this list, endured the longest to earn her spot.