Final Girl

What is the final girl in horror movies?

The last female to fight the killer

In horror movies, the "final girl" is the last female alive to confront (usually fight) the main antagonist (the killer). This trope is prevalent in slasher films that feature a crazed madman terrorizing helpless victims, leading to a showdown with the main female protagonist.

The final girl archetype emerged from and was solidified by horror movies (some revered, some forgotten) from the 1970s and 1980s. Examples of classic final girl movies include:

  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) - Sally Hardesty is the final girl (played by Marilyn Burns)
  • Halloween (1978) - Laurie Strode is the final girl (played by Jamie Lee Curtis)
  • Friday the 13th (1980) - Alice Hardy is the final girl (played by Adrienne King)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) - Nancy Thompson is the final girl (played by Heather Langenkamp)
  • Scream (1996) - Sidney Prescott is the final girl (played by Neve Campbell)
  • The Cabin in the Woods (2012) - Dana Polk is the final girl (played by Kristen Connolly)
  • Midsommar (2019) - Dani Ardor is the final girl (played by Florence Pugh)

Some critics and fans have criticized the well-worn plot of a terrorized woman in horror movies that birthed the final girl term. However, others find the final girl role empowering since the final girl typically finds the courage and strength to defeat the killer and emerge victorious. This character development is considerable progress from the previously demeaning "damsel in distress" roles where women required saving from others.

Origin of final girl

Movie critics and cinephiles point to Carol J. Clover as the creator of the "final girl" term. In her 1992 book Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film, she defines the role commonly seen in the horror genre. She also details that the final girl is typically virtuous, abstaining from "bad" behavior displayed by other characters.


I think my favorite final girl is Ripley from Alien
Mine's definitely Laurie from Halloween
Tweet commending the tribute to final girl Laurie Strode
Tweet commending the tribute to final girl Laurie Strode

Related Slang


Updated May 10, 2023

Final girl definition by

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