Ten Women Who Defined and Evolved Horror’s Final Girl Trope

5. Tina Shepard – Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

Tina Shepard (Lar Park Lincoln) is not your typical girl next door: she’s a telekinetic time bomb with a dark past.

The New Blood is far from the best film in the Friday the 13th franchise, and the story itself has often been criticized for being a rip-off of Stephen King’s “Carrie”. Although Tina doesn’t bring anything new or groundbreaking to the trope, it’s fun to see a final girl with power and strength of her own. While serial killers and monsters in slashers films often seem superhuman, it’s cool to see a final girl with superhuman powers too – someone who can go toe to toe against the killer on an even playing field.

While final girls up until this point are often allowed to survive as a result of their moral superiority, it’s worth noting that Tina carries the guilt of accidentally killing her father and, despite having committed this act, still gets to live in the end.

She’s a reminder that final girls can have flaws.

Recommended for you: Friday the 13th Movies Ranked

4. Sidney Prescott – Scream (1996)

The first time we see Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) in Wes Craven’s 1996 mega-hit, Scream, which managed to single-handedly revive the slasher genre, she is in her bedroom, dressed in a white, lacey nightgown, her hair pulled back with a scrunchie. When her boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ulrich) lays her down on her bed, stuffed animals take up most of the space. This, along with Sidney’s refusal to have sex with Billy, sets Sidney up as your typical final girl: good and pure. She’s the kind of girl who deserves to survive.

Over the course of the film, Sidney goes from naïve and innocent to brave and kickass, thwarting Ghostface on several occasions. Sidney is not without her emotional baggage either. She’s still broken up from her mother’s murder and it’s implied and later confirmed that Sidney’s testimony put the wrong man behind bars for the crime.

Scream is famously self-aware, throwing tropes in our faces and expertly subverting them. Randy (Jamie Kennedy), the resident Horror Film Guy, literally states that only virgins survive in horror films. This scene is inter-cut with Sidney finally having sex with Billy. In choosing to have sex, Sidney breaks one of the tried-and-true rules of the final girl and lives to tell the tale. Unlike Jess and Nancy, any ambiguity about her survival is immediately dealt with. After Randy tells Sidney that the killer always comes back for one last scare and Billy lunges forward, Sidney promptly shoots him in the head, famously quipping, “Not in my movie.”

Over the course of Scream 2, Scream 3, and Scream 4, Sidney manages to go from final girl to action hero, confronting her tormenters head-on – often managing to get in more than one good punch. In this way, Sidney shares a lot of similarities with Ripley and it’s hard not to see the Alien heroine’s obvious effect on the character.

Recommended for you: Scream Movies Ranked

3. Anita “Needy” Lesnicki – Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Anita “Needy” Lesnicki (Amanda Seyfried) is a lot of things: a convicted felon, loving girlfriend, weirdo, best friend of a Succubus. You know, the usual.

Back in 2009, Needy was the final girl modern horror needed: a mess of contradictions, shy (yet brave), and sexual without shame. Needy’s earnest and loving relationship with her boyfriend Chip (Johnny Simmons) is explicitly sexual, and it’s never presented as a bad thing or something Needy should be punished for. In fact, it allows Needy to connect with Jennifer (Megan Fox) psychically. Although Needy is considered to be a dork in comparison to Jennifer, Needy is sarcastic and pessimistic, and outspoken against injustice and wrongdoing. Her desire to do good and save the people she loves is underscored by her clear drive and desperation to avenge those Jennifer kills – no matter the cost.

When Needy eventually kills Jennifer, the story doesn’t stop there. Needy eventually succeeds in murdering the band that turning Jennifer into a monster to begin with. Needy reminds us that Jennifer was more of a victim than anything else, and that the true evil at the heart of the film is how men use women and their bodies for their own advantage.

At the end of the Jennifer’s Body, it’s revealed that Needy has powers of her own, absorbed into her body because of the bite Jennifer gave her. Needy is a final girl with a dark side, who is both human and monster. Needy blurs the lines between hero and villain, cementing herself as a final girl worthy of watching again and again.

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