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Top 5 Final Girls that have Slayed the Horror Genre

The “final girl” has become a popular trope in horror films and television shows recently over the years, despite this genre being around for several decades. The character is given the title when she is the last girl in a horror/slasher who defeats the villain and/or monster against all odds. There have been many characters over time who fit this final girl trope, gaining the most popularity in the ‘80s and ‘90s with movies like “Scream”, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, and “Halloween.” While some of these characters were portrayed to be the smartest and most “pure”, there are some final girls who don't quite fit the stereotype exactly, but at the end of the day, they have completely earned their spot as a final girl.

This list consists of my take on the top five most influential and badass final girls in horror over the decades.

#5. Maggie Bess from “Thirteen Ghosts”

In this 2001 remake of the 1960 classic horror/thriller “Thirteen Ghosts”, a family inherits a mansion from their estranged uncle, which to their surprise, is home to many powerful and evil entities. Our final girl, Maggie Bess (portrayed by Rah Digga) is tangled into this nightmare due to being the family’s nanny. Not only was Maggie a hilarious character and was not afraid to get her hands dirty despite being the comic relief throughout the film, she also did anything to protect her boss and the kids. It’s up to Maggie to save the ones she cares for most and she risks her life in order to do so. At the end of the film, Maggie dramatically talks aloud to herself, “This is it for me. I am on the first fuckin’ plane back to Newark. Uh-uh. I am sorry, family, Kathy, Bobby, uncle, ghosts. I am sick of this nanny shit. I’ve had it. This was not in the job description. I quit!” Proving to everyone that she didn’t lose her humor despite everything. Without Maggie Bess, the family would’ve never gotten out of that nightmare, making her well deserving of the final girl title.

#4. Julie James from “I Know What You Did Last Summer”

If you’re a fan of slasher films, then you are bound to be familiar with this late 90’s classic. After four friends commit a hit-and-run one summer and dispose of the body, swearing to take the secret to their grave, Julie James (portrayed by Jennifer Love Hewitt) receives a jarring letter one year later stating that someone knows exactly what happened that night. Julie fits the sweet, innocent, unassuming character who always proves themselves eventually, and considering she was targeted first with the letter, it’s up to her and her friends to find out exactly what is going on. As they become closer to solving the mystery, Julie’s friends start to get brutally murdered one by one. At the end of the film, only Julie is left to goface-to-facee with the killer, outsmarting them in any way she can. Despite the film’s cliffhanger, Julie James remains the final girl.

#3. Sam & Tara Carpenter from “Scream 5” and “Scream 6”

Sisters Sam and Tara Carpenter (portrayed by Melissa Barrera and Jenna Ortega) go hand in hand during the most recent “Scream” franchise films, protecting each other to defeat Ghostface from terrorizing citizens once again. Usually, the final girl stands alone at the end of the film, but the sisters' strong relationship makes it hard for them to be apart, they are always looking out for each other. Throughout the films, they do whatever it takes together to outsmart Ghostface’s new tactics and game with some help from Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), who many fans would agree to be one of the original final girls who gained the title at the end of the first “Scream” film. Both sisters prove time and time again that they would do anything to protect their city and each other, displaying skills of extreme physical and emotional strength, and always ending up on top despite the immense trauma both girls had to endure.

#2. Seong-kyeong from “Train to Busan”

Seong-kyeong (portrayed by Jung Yu-mi) is an undersung final girl in horror but is one of the most kickass survivors in the genre over the years. In this 2016 zombie horror film, passengers on a train get trapped during a virus outbreak. Seong-kyeong is the first to notice an infected person attacking another passenger, quickly asking her husband for help before realizing it wasn’t just a violent man, instead, it was something out of nightmares. Seong-kyeong was ready to do anything to protect herself and her unborn baby. Throughout the film she wasn’t afraid to take risks and team up with other passengers, the more protection for her and her unborn child, the better. Unfortunately, most of the people she is partnered with throughout the chaos end up getting infected or sacrificing themselves in order to protect Seong-kyeong, who is now not alone. Not only does she survive due to the sacrifices made by the others, but a young girl Su-an (Kim Su-an) is left in her care. This only fuels Seong-kyeong more as she is more determined than ever to survive, not only for her future child but now for Su-an as well. By the end of the film, all of the sacrifices paid off and Seong-kyeong is rescued by soldiers and safe from the virus outbreak.

#1. Buffy Summers from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (TV series)

Buffy Summers (portrayed by Sarah Michelle Gellar) was one of the first strong female leads in TV during the late 1990s and early 2000s. The plot of the show, based on the 1992 film of the same name, consists of a 16-year-old girl who is a born vampire slayer, or the “Chosen One”, who is gifted with the strength and agility to defeat vampires, demons, and evil of all kinds. Throughout the years, Buffy survives many apocalypses and one of the reasons why she continues to be on top every single time is because she is the one and only slayer to ever have relationships. Being a slayer is supposed to be a lonesome and deadly line of work, but her friendships and connections to the “real world” are what keeps her going. Buffy has reasons to live and would do anything to save her loved ones, including sacrificing herself to do so.

Some may argue that she doesn’t fit the “final girl” archetype considering being resurrected twice throughout the series, but regardless, she bounced back and Buffy is still the “Chosen One” and defeats each evil head on by herself countless times. Unlike most slasher films throughout the years, the stereotypical blonde girl was now the one kicking ass, instead of being the first victim. By the end of the series, Buffy has to face the biggest evil of them all, and after seven years of saving the world, doing it one last time was no big deal for her. Not only was Buffy Summers literally slaying monsters, but she slayed while doing it. Buffy has been an influential female lead in the horror genre for over 20 years now, and considering the show's strong audience, even today, that is not going to change any time soon; which is why she’s crowned the number one final girl in this ranking.

The horror genre consists of many “final girls” and these five listed above each had their own individual characteristics that helped them survive and reign superior at the end of their stories. If you haven’t had the chance to see these characters in action, definitely check them out this October!

Written by Liv Voreas

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