The One That Got Away: Horror Movie Final Girls Through the Ages [Infographic]

by |September 23, 2015
Categories: Horror, Infographics, Movies



When the slasher genre started to really hit the mainstream around the mid-80s, there was a lot of outcry about its depiction of women. It is true that with so many slasher films flooding the market, more than a few fell into the trap of scantily clad, personality-less women running and stumbling, being murdered in the dark. But to focus on the worst aspects of the genre would do a disservice to some of the groundbreaking (and what many would call feminist) strides taken toward giving women agency and power over their lives, their sexuality, and their attacker.

The term "final girl" was coined in the early 90s to describe a “last woman standing” in a horror film. The final girl was the one to confront and defeat the killer at the end of the film, after making it through a gauntlet of terror. The 1996 film Scream highlighted this trope and drove it home for the masses by playing it with a tongue-in-cheek wink. Since then, films from the past have been critiqued through a new lens, shedding light on the early works in the genre that have paved the way for the final girls of today. We’ve created an infographic detailing some of the iconic final girls throughout modern cinema, highlighting their survival status, the main threat against their lives, and their weapon of choice. Take this visual journey with us through the world of masked maniacs, ancient aliens, and resurrected demons—just don’t trip.




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Horror Movie Final Girls Through the Ages Transcript

A common trope in horror (and specifically slasher) films, the term "final girl" is used to describe the last surviving female who must confront the killer at the end of the film. The final girl is often the most innocent and reserved in the group, but matures into a strong and intelligent woman by the film's climax, where she defeats the killer, is able to escape with her life, or both. 

Lila Crane (Vera Miles)

Psycho (1960)

"I can handle a sick old woman!"

Survival Status: Survived

Threat: Norman Bates

Weapon of Choice: Wit

Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

"Go! Go!"

Survival Status: Survived (Traumatically Insane)

Threat: Cannibalistic Backwoods Family

Weapon of Choice: Speed, Stamina, Perseverance

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis)

Halloween (1978)

"It was the boogieman!"

Survival Status: Survived

Threat: Michael Myers

Weapon of Choice: Knife

Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)

Alien (1979)

"You are my lucky star"

Survival Status: Survived

Threat: Xenomorph Alien

Weapon of Choice: Shuttle Airlock, Grappling Hook, Shuttle Engines

Alice Hardy (Adrienne King)

Friday the 13th (1980)

"The boy. Is he dead, too?"

Survival Status: Survived (Killed in sequel)

Threat: Pamela Vorhees

Weapon of Choice: Machete

Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duval)

The Shining (1984)

"Stay away from me"

Survival Status: Survived

Threat: Husband, Spirits at the Overlook Hotel

Weapons of Choice: Baseball Bat, Butcher Knife

Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

"Whatever you do... don't fall asleep"

Survival Status: Survived

Threat: Freddy Krueger

Weapon of Choice: Bobby Traps, The Power of Belief

Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster)

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

"Dr. Lector?... Dr, Lector?... Dr. Lector?... Dr. Lector?"

Survival Status: Survived

Threat: Buffalo Bill, Dr. Hannibal Lector

Weapon of Choice: Gun

Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell)

Scream (1996)

"You sick f**cks. You've seen one too many movies!"

Survival Status: Survived

Threat: Ghostface (Boyfriend and his friend)

Weapon of Choice: Gun

Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts)

The Ring (2002)

"I think before you die, you see the ring..."

Survival Status: Survived

Threat: Samara

Weapon of Choice: Sheer Determination to Keep Her Son Alive

Sarah Carter (Shauna MacDonald)

The Descent (2005)

"Okay. Shh. Close your eyes."

Survival Status: Survived

Threat: Subterranean Humanoid Creatures

Weapon of Choice: Pickaxe

Erin (Sharni Vinson)

You're Next (2011)

"Grab anything that might make a good weapon."

Survival Status: Definitely Survived

Threat: Boyfriend, His Extended Family, A Few Contract Killers

Weapon of Choice: Axe, Knife, Screwdriver, Firewood, Anything Available

Mia Allen (Jane Levy)

Evil Dead (2013)

"Feast on this Motherf***cker!"

Survival Status: Survived after being possessed, Buried Alive, and Brought Back to Life

Threat: Demons Brought to Life By Reading From Naturom Demonto

Weapon of Choice: Chainsaw


If you read through our infographic and where dismayed that your favorite final girl was not illustrated, we feel your pain. There were simply too many final girls to list in one piece! A few that we love, but did not make the list include: Jessica from Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971), Suzy Bannion from Suspiria (1977), Heather Mills from I Spit on Your Grave (1978), Kirsty Cotton from Hellraiser (1987), Yasmine from Frontier(s) (2007), and Samantha Hughes from The House of the Devil (2009). Are there any others you would have liked to see on our list? Which final girl is your absolute favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

If you plan on dressing up as classic ghoul, monster, killer, or hero(ine), we’ve got more than a few scary and horror movie Halloween costumes available. You could go with a Michael Myers costume or take it all the way back to 50s black and white horror with a Creature from the Black Lagoon mask.

Infographic Design Credit: Cody Petersen

Phillip Grace
Phillip Grace

Phillip Grace is a Horror Aficionado at, where he's always showing off his collection of horror movie props. Phillip frequently comes to work in elaborate and terrifying costumes—so don't take your eyes off him!

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