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Characters Who Should’ve Been Final Girls

Pour one out for the girls who didn't survive.

helen shivers being the queen she is in I Know What You Did Last Summer

The cruelty of life is often reflected in horror. People don’t always survive their trauma and sometimes the people trying to destroy others succeed. Just like in horror movies, sometimes the person who you want most to survive doesn’t—which brings us to “the final girl.” One of the most prolific tropes in the horror genre.

I’ve heard people argue that horror is inherently misogynist, but that is a statement that lacks understanding of the genre. Have there been misogynistic horror movies? Duh, the ‘80s had plenty of those (even when we love something, critiquing isn’t something to avoid). But the trope of a woman (or women) surviving trauma, violence, and chaos is empowering to me (and many others).

Unfortunately, though, some characters get killed off and don’t hold final girl status. It’s beyond frustrating when they are characters who did everything right, only to not make it. And these are some of the ladies who we wish would’ve been final girls. 

Helen Shivers

Helen Shivers trying to see where the killer is
(Columbia Pictures)

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

The general consensus is that Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) is, without a doubt, one of the most boring final girls—leaving some fans wishing Helen Shivers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) survived her iconic chase scene. Even though it’s obvious that Julie is positioned as the final girl from the beginning, she’s no Helen. Helen is so much more interesting—she has insecurities that she masks with her charisma and charm. And Sarah Michelle Gellar, being the talent and icon she is, captured the vulnerability of Helen’s character. Making it hard not to root for her when the killer stalks her for the final time. 

Hallie McDaniel

Hallie being nervous about ghostface
(Dimension Films)

Scream 2 (1997)

Black final girls are something to treasure as there aren’t a lot of them. The numbers have slowly climbed over the years. Unfortunately, though, Hallie (Elise Neal), Sidney’s best friend in Scream 2 (1997), didn’t make the cut. There’s zero point in comparing Hallie to Tatum (Rose McGowan) as they are two different characters. Not to mention Hallie is a Black woman, which means her survival is even less likely. Her death confirms just how much was stacked against her. But she tried her best to get Sidney (Neve Campbell) to safety with the cops. It’s somewhat problematic—as she died because of her white best friend who left her to fall prey to the Black best friend trope. After everything she went through, she deserved to be a final girl. 


Chrissie hiding from Leatherface
(New Line Cinema and Focus Features)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

Why? That’s the question many of us internally (or externally) ask as Chrissie (Jordana Brewster) is impaled with a chainsaw. Surviving a batshit cannibalistic family, an extremely menacing Leatherface (Andrew Bryniarski), watching your boyfriend and friends get murdered violently, and fighting back as best you can., should earn you the final girl crown. But this sequel to the 2003 remake is an exercise in cruelty. The suffering that the protagonists experience is gruesome. And Chrissie gets away only to die so ridiculously. Writing it so she wouldn’t have noticed Leatherface in the backseat of the getaway vehicle is insulting. Who likes that she isn’t a final girl? Next to nobody. 

Jenny Greengrass

still from eden lake
(image: The Weinstein Company)

Eden Lake (2008)

Foreign horror movies have such a different feel to them compared to Canadian or American horror movies. The bleakness that this movie captures is so uncomfortable, tragic, and downright disturbing at times. Imagine being out on vacation with your partner and being stalked and terrorized by a group of violent kids. Only to narrowly escape death and end up at the house of one of the kids who tried to kill you. And then to be made out to be a sadistic killer, leading you to meet a very tragic demise. It’s safe to say that Jenny (Kelly Reilly) deserved to get away from those horrible kids. 

Juno Kaplan

Juno being a badass in The Descent Part 2
(Lionsgate, Pathé, and Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Descent Part 2 (2009)

Possibly one of the most nonsensical horror sequels ever. Nevertheless, Juno (Natalie Mendoza) shouldn’t have gone out the way she did. Even if you consider her horrible for having an affair with her best friend, Sarah (Shauna McDonald)’s husband before he died. She’s still a survivor and lasted for two days in those treacherous caves with an injury (caused by Sarah). The way she was able to navigate in the first movie was impressive, and that was amped up in part two. But, in the end, she dies trying to help Sarah (who shouldn’t have been forced to go back down there in the first place), and who ends up sacrificing herself for another character anyways. So…why??


Jenna in Friday the 13th remake
(Paramount Pictures Studios, New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures, and Platinum Dunes)

Friday the 13th (2009)

Hands down one of the best entries in the entire franchise. Disagree? Oh well. Only this entry surprises by killing off the person who seemed like the final girl. Jenna (Danielle Panabaker) tries her best to help people, doesn’t waste time in terms of trying to survive, and then gets killed off because she got unlucky. Hanging in the back when someone is trying to kill you is usually a death sentence. And much to the surprise of many, Jenna gets killed by Jason (Derek Mears) in the most abrupt way.


Lizzy screaming in Leatherface
(Lionsgate Films and Millennium Media)

Leatherface (2017)

Just when you think someone is going to get away, sometimes they get murdered by a maniac with a chainsaw. Lizzy (Vanessa Grasse) managed to make it through a hellish endeavor. Until the person she thought was decent ended up killing her for his shitty/manipulative mother. It’s hard to watch her scramble and be terrorized by a group of terrifying teenagers. And essentially, her suffering doesn’t end at all. Even the alternate ending is tragic for her character. With her being as smart as she was, alongside having a career as a nurse, she had more to live for. 

(featured image: Columbia Pictures)

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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.