While few things in life are more terror-inducing than a global pandemic, the horror movie genre has proven in recent years that it has as much power to scare the daylights out of us as it does to reinvent itself time and time again. The return of actresses like Jamie Lee Curtis in the rebooted Halloween trilogy and Neve Campbell in the newest Scream installment prove that not only is horror here to stay, but major Hollywood actresses are interested in returning to the genre decades after making their initial appearances.
Over the years, Curtis’ Laurie Strode and Campbell’s Sidney Prescott have become known as “final girls” ⏤ a horror movie trope attributed to the last remaining female character in the film to face the killer. The final girl is often the one to survive her encounter with the villain at the film’s end, often leading to additional appearances in future franchise installments.
With interest in horror films at an all-time high thanks to the COVID-19-driven surge in at-home streaming, we thought it only fitting to examine the top five final girls of all time, known as much for their bravery and intelligence as the foes they were forced to face off against.
5. Sally Hardesty from Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Regarded as one of the very first examples of a final girl, Sally Hardesty from Texas Chainsaw Massacre ⏤ originally played by Marilyn Burns ⏤ survived her fight with Leatherface by escaping in the back of a pickup truck, leaving Leatherface swinging his chainsaw about with anger. Though she never returned for any other sequels, there were allusions to the character’s death. In the new film, however, that idea is erased, revealing that Sally is still alive and wants revenge. She’s set to return on Feb. 18, 2022, in Netflix’s sequel to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
4. Nancy Thompson from A Nightmare on Elm Street
Played by Heather Langenkamp, Nancy became Freddy’s archenemy and served as the protagonist of the first A Nightmare on Elm Street before reappearing in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Nancy has been considered one of the more progressive final girls of horror, and while she met her end in the third film, she’ll always be one of the OG badasses and an important figure in final girl history.
3. Grace from Ready or Not
One of the newer final girls is Grace, portrayed by Samara Weaving, in 2019’s Ready or Not. Grace is a bride that must draw from a puzzle box and play in a family game. She picks “Hide and Seek” and must then face her new in-laws in a battle of life and death. Ultimately, Grace emerges as the victor as the manor of her in-laws burns down around her. Sounds to us like this girl is ready.
2. Laurie Strode from Halloween
Obviously, Laurie is one of the most commonly known final girls, surviving Michael Myers’ first attack in 1978 and going on to survive again in Halloween 2. As far as storylines go, Laurie has survived and died multiple times, but thanks to the newest films, Laurie is alive and well. 2018’s Halloween serves as a direct sequel to the original 1978 film, with Laurie again surviving another attack from Michael. With Halloween Ends releasing this year, fans are wondering if this noteworthy final girl might finally meet her ultimate end.
1. Sidney Prescott from Scream
Sidney deserves the number one spot on this list, as she is by far the most resourceful of all final girls. With five Scream films under her belt ⏤ all of which she’s survived ⏤ she is the clear winner. After being stabbed, thrown off roofs, and beaten up, Sidney has survived every attacker to don the Ghostface mask. Only time will tell what might happen with Sidney’s future from here on out, but as it stands, this is one lady you do not want to mess with.