If you follow the classic trope of a horror movie you will see that there is a particular formula when it comes to the characters involved and the untimely deaths they receive. Despite characters being in different scenarios, locations and being hunted by different killers, the classic horror trope will generally follow a particular route, showcasing the hunting and the deaths of the five main characters.
These characters are generalised to fit stereotypes and include "The Slut", "The Jock", "The Brain", "The Fool" and "The Final Girl". There have been so many amazing characters who take on these roles in horror movies, so I thought I would list to you some of the best out there, starting with the creme de la creme of "The Final Girl".
The Final Girl is usually the main star of the movie and its franchises and is the one who lives to see another day and another four or five sequels. She is typically a virgin, or virginal and innocent. She is typically undergoing some sort of haunting life crisis that shapes the way she reacts, using her smarts and intuition to defeat the killer. There have been many iconic Final Girl roles out there, but there's only been a few who took the role and made it their own.
Sidney Prescott, Scream Franchise.
Played by 90's darling Neve Campbell, Sidney Prescott follows the virginal route after discovering her mother dead in her home. One year after the death, a killer dubbed Ghostface begins to terrorise Sidney and her friends which turns out to be Sidney's high school boyfriend seeking revenge for her promiscious mother ruining his family dynamic. Sidney finally gets to face up to the loss of her mother and uses the strength to overcome Billy, but in the sequel finds herself victim to a series of copycat murders thanks to Billy's mother seeking revenge. She is attacked again by her long lost brother in the third Scream film, who turned out to have been the one who killed her mother in the beginning, before she is later targeted by her niece who wants to leverage her relationship with Sidney to become famous.
Despite going through four different movies worths of attacks, Sidney holds up on her on with great strength and courage, learning the truth about her mother to set her free. She is smart, stoic and reserved, and her ability to keep her head has made her one of the best final girls out there.
Laurie Strode, Halloween Franchise.
Jamie Lee Curtis cemented herself as one of horror's most iconic final girls with her protrail of Laurie Strode in the Halloween franchise, despite the confusing continuity errors that Halloween H20 and Resurrection bring about. Laurie is actually the long-lost sister of the Halloween killer Michael Myers, who murdered their teenage sister Judith on Halloween before he was sent to a sanitarium and their parents were killed in a car accident shortly afterwards. Laurie - who was born Cynthia Myers - was adopted out to the Strodes, who changed her name and sealed her records. Years later, Laurie begins to get stalked by a strange masked man who turns out to be her brother, seeking revenge for sending him away.
In subsequent sequels, Laurie moves away and changes her name to get away from her past, but her murdering brother then sets about trying to kill her son Will, who Laurie rescues but actually accidentally ends up killing the wrong man. After faking her own deaths several time, Laurie finally has her showdown when he comes to kill her daughter.
Laurie's trauma is incredibly real and in the way that her storyline progresses she moves from an innocent girl minding her own business to an alcoholic with a traumatic past. As she continues to face her brother, she develops the strength to do whatever it takes to protect her family and that strength is what pushes Laurie into the limelight as one of the best Final Girls in horror.
Nancy Thompson, A Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise.
Nancy is the Final Girl who rounds out the 80's slasher flicks perfectly, starring in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Being almost as iconic as Freddie himself, despite the fact she only appears in three of the franchise films, Nancy starts off as a pure creative heroine. Played by Heather Langenkamp Porter, Nancy was the one who discovered that her parents and the parents of her friends were all parts in the murder of child peodo Freddie Kruger, who returns in their childrens dreams to seek revenge for his death. As her friends begin to die one by one, Nancy puts herself on the line to take on Freddie. Eventually,in the sequels, Nancy ends up working as a dream researcher who tries to help the last of the Elm Street children who are being attacked by Freddie.
Unfortunately, Nancy is killed off by Freddie successfully in the third movie, marking one of the only deaths of the Final Girl. The character of Nancy simply doesn't lose her mind or get so ravishly traumatised by the experiences of her past, but continues to move forward to help those in the best way that she possibly could. She is smart and strategic, and one of the most iconic characters ever.
Dana Polk, Cabin in the Woods
Joss Wheden's comedic take on horror is an epic retelling of the classic horror anatomy trope, but he manages to turn it on its head so flawlessly. Played by sweet looking Kristen Connolly, Dana is nowhere near the virginal stereotype that haunts the Final Girl image, having had an affair with her college professor. When she and her friends - who all generally fit the stereotypes in different ways - go to a cabin in the woods for the weekend, Dana is seen as nerdy, reserved, and introspective, but faces her fears by going into the basement, summoning the long dead Buckner family back to life.
Dana is repeatedly tormented by the Buckners throughout the movie, and her death seems near when she is attacked at the lake, inferring the quote "the virgin's death is optional", but she is saved by her friend Marty who leads them down into the control room under the cabin. Dana and Marty face up to the monsters in the cells with brave faces, before she is convinced by the Director of the operation to kill Marty before the end of the world.
Despite shooting Marty, and her questionable decisions that led her to the pit of the Ancient ones, Dana shares a joint with Marty and welcomes the end of the world. She shows the horror franchises that the Final Girl doesn't have to be smart, survive, or really learn much by the end of the movie. Final Girls are flawed despite their instincts.
Tree Gelbman, Happy Death Day franchise.
At the start of Happy Death Day Tree Gelbman is the worst kind of sorority person. She's selfish, apathetic, unaware and uncaring, and also just solidly a bitch. But as she finds herself in a pattern of the same day happening again and again, Tree begins to grow into a kind, selfless badass willing to risk everything to stop the weird Baby Face killer at large. As her blossoming romance and friendship takes off, Tree's badass nature is once again cemented in the sequel, where her friends are the one being killed off. Catapualted into an alternative timeline and forced to re-evaluate what is important to her, Tree's obnoxious sorority chick days are behind her. Played by Jessica Rothe, Tree doesn't simply just take an approach to being a "strong female character", she also becomes a completely realised and intelligent person throughout the franchise. She is strong, willfull and determined, and is by far the Final Girl the generation needs!