One of the various traditions in the horror genre is the “Final Girl” archetype. A female protagonist who survives the film’s horrific events while prevailing against the antagonist. Over the years, there have been terrific and sometimes subversive portraits of said character type. In the spirit of Halloween, we’ll be acknowledging some of the silver screen’s most iconic horror heroines.
Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, has become rather synonymous with the “Final Girl” trope. Throughout the “Halloween” series, Strode has evaded and defeated the villainous Michael Myers, her estranged brother. Although “Halloween: Resurrection” gave Strode an unfortunate end, the 2018 reboot “Halloween” retconned the events of that picture. Strode came back to fight Michael once more and will do so again in future installments.
Then there’s Sidney Prescott from the “Scream” series. Throughout the quadrilogy, Prescott has witnessed friends and relatives die before her eyes, enduring survivor’s guilt in the process. Yet, when she comes face-to-face with the sinister Ghostface, she’s always ready to combat her monster. Sidney Prescott is witty, tough-as-nails, and vulnerable all at once, and thanks to actress Neve Campbell, has earned a prominent place in horror history.
Same with Theresa “Tree” Gelbman from the “Happy Death Day” series despite both films coming out more recently. Initially, Tree is hard to like due to her selfish, apathetic nature. However, thanks to Jessica Rothe’s innate charisma, she becomes a heroine worth rooting for. As Tree relives her birthday repeatedly to solve her own murder, she learns the error of her ways and Rothe navigates her arc with sharp humor and profundity.
Going back to more classic choices, Nancy Thompson is another memorable heroine. Freddy Krueger from the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series has terrorized unsuspecting children and teenagers in their dreams. When his reign of terror began, though, Thompson was the first protagonist to fight and outsmart him.
With a mix of three-dimensional acting and expertly written character development, these women have earned their respective iconic statures. But as previously mentioned, they are only a handful of memorable final girls in a genre full of them.