Ash crawling out in Evil Dead II

10 Best Final Boys in Horror Movies, Ranked

Let's hear it for our final boys!

Normally when discussing horror (and slashers in particular), we talk about final girls and their impact on the genre. It’s very true that horror needs its final girls because they help shape the films we love. But what about our final boys? Do they have significant roles in horror like our girls? The simplest way to answer that is: sometimes they do!

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Final boys can stand side by side with a final girl, of course. A horror movie can also have multiple final girls or guys. There’s no hard rule about that, and if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, they’re probably a killjoy. We can recreate and reimagine tropes if we want to! There aren’t as many cherished final boys in horror as there are girls, but did that stop me from writing this? Absolutely not. I’m here to present you with some of the best final boys, and I’m ranking them by their survival instincts.

10. Jesse – A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

Jesse and Freddy in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
(New Line Cinema)

People often mention A Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) in their queer horror lists and talk about Jesse, Mark Patton’s character. I’m not saying he isn’t a worthwhile final boy (he’s on this list because it would’ve been weird not to include him), but his survival instincts throughout the film are … lacking. His reluctant reliance on Lisa (Kim Myers), who becomes way too invested in him, makes for one major head shake, and his survival doesn’t happen because he made much in the way of wise decisions.

9. Jim – 28 Days Later

Jim running for his life in 28 Days Later
(Fox Searchlight Pictures)

You’ve got to hand it to him: Running that fast in horrendous city conditions is impressive. Jim (Cillian Murphy) isn’t bad at surviving, but without Selena (Naomie Harris), he wouldn’t make it very far. Ultimately, he earns final boy status because he’s resourceful when he’s forced to be. Otherwise, he’s a relatively average final boy (with alright survival instincts when it counts) in what’s considered an iconic zombie horror flick.

8. Brent – The Loved Ones

Brent at Lola's house in The Loved Ones
(Madman Films)

Poor Brent (Xaxier Samuel) went through it in The Loved Ones (2009). Being kidnapped is one thing, but being kidnapped by an unhinged girl who tortures you is a bit much. It’s certainly hard to watch him suffer due to failure to escape. Ultimately, Brent going into flight mode doesn’t accomplish anything the first time, and it’s more of a decision prompted by being tortured. Sure, anyone would want to run in his circumstance. His decisions are understandable, but not always the smartest given the nutty people he’s dealing with.

7. Fool – The People Under the Stairs

Fool being terrified in The People Under the Stairs
(Universal Pictures)

Folks need to give Fool (Brandon Adams) his props, especially as a Black final boy! Imagine surviving that horrible house with those batshit people. The main reason I’m including Fool this low on the list is because he went back to the house. Saving Alice (A.J. Langer) was a kind thing to do, but it wasn’t a smart move for Fool, especially if you take into consideration how he had to resort to extreme measures to survive the second time in the house. Still, Fool’s survival is worthy of several claps, and people should talk about him more.

6. Casey – The Faculty

Casey in The Faculty
(Miramax and Dimension Films)

The Faculty (1998) is a cult classic, and the cast is so stacked it’s unbelievable. It’s also a sci-fi horror flick that subverts expectations on multiple levels. Casey (Elijah Wood) isn’t your typical survivor in a horror movie, and that’s what makes him being a final boy so impressive. None of the kids actually die in the film, but he essentially saves the day. He defeats Marybeth (Laura Harris) in her alien form! So, he falls into the category of final boy for his survival tactics, which include noticing something was off about the teachers.

5. Andy Barclay – Child’s Play franchise

Chucky holding a knife to Andy's throat in Child's Play 2
(Universal Pictures)

Final boys that are literal children always impress me with their resilience. Andy (Alex Vincent) is one of those final boys who can never really escape the danger. Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) is very persistent in the first 3 films, and Andy never fully escapes his trauma. It takes him until his adult years to be the one who pursues Chucky. One could say that his survival instincts aren’t that strong as an adult, considering he ends up being driven by rage and revenge, but the child version of Andy does everything in his power to escape/defeat Chucky. If that doesn’t indicate strong survival instincts, then I don’t know what does.

4. Tommy Jarvis – Friday the 13th franchise

Tommy Jarvis driving away in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
(Paramount Pictures)

Three different actors have played Tommy Jarvis, but in all honesty the best version (at least to me) is Tommy in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986). Tommy whooped Jason’s ass when he was a kid, survived a fake Jason, and then, in Jason Lives, was forced to go up against him again. He’s an incredibly capable final boy who takes big risks to ensure his own safety, and in Jason Lives, he’s trying to help his sanity by cremating Jason. He certainly deserves to be on this list and be recognized for how well he survived the nuttiness of the Friday the 13th franchise.

3. Rodger – Night of the Demons

Rodger in Night of the Demons
(International Film Marketing)

We all know why nobody talks about Rodger (Alvin Alexis) as much as other final boys. The fact of the matter is that Black final boys are few and far between, and are almost never as appreciated as their non-Black counterparts. You could call Rodger’s actions selfish, but he’s one of the smartest characters in the entire movie. He’s done with the party as soon as his friends want to hold a séance, and even goes so far as to jump out windows and climb up a barbed wired wall in the end. He also manages to save Judy (Cathy Podewell) from the demons. Rodger did what he needed to, and it paid off in the end.

2. Chris Washington – Get Out

Chris being hypnotized in Get Out
(Universal Pictures)

Get Out (2017) is very much a horror masterpiece and still means so much to Black horror fans (myself included). Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) isn’t often included in people’s final boy lists. He certainly deserves to be included after surviving a modern-day slave auction. Chris endures a betrayal by his girlfriend and almost loses all control over his own body. All of his suspicions surrounding Rose’s (Allison Williams) family were his survival instincts kicking in, and managing to defeat several people (mostly) by himself shows the type of strength a final boy needs. Kudos forever to Chris!

1. Ash Williams – Evil Dead franchise

Bloodied up Ash in The Evil Dead
(New Line Cinema)

Let’s hear it for the iconic Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell)! All of these final boys deserve their piece of the pie. Most folks regard Ash as a top-tier final boy and there’s no wonder why. He survived literal demons beating him up and killing his loved ones throughout the Evil Dead franchise. Plus, he went back to a different time period and survived that, too! He even had a series that focused on what trauma did to his life. It’s best to suspend disbelief where the chainsaw hand is concerned, but he still kicks ass and survives in whatever ways he can in such dire circumstances. It’s precisely why he’s at the top of the list.

(featured image: Rosebud Releasing Corporation)


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Author
Vanessa Maki
Vanessa Maki (she/her) is a queer Blerd and contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She first started writing for digital magazines in 2018 and her articles have appeared in Pink Advocate (defunct), The Gay Gaze (defunct), Dread Central and more. She primarily writes about movies, TV, and anime. Efforts to make her stop loving complex/villainous characters or horror as a genre will be futile.