The Final Girl: A Trope Worthy of Binging this Halloween

Who is the Final Girl? 

One of my absolute favorite horror tropes is the final girl, prevalent in the traditional slasher horror film. So who is she, this final girl? The term "final girl" was coined in 1992 by Carol J. Clover in her book "Men, Women, and Chainsaws" which you can order through our InterLibrary Loan service. This particular concept has been around in horror media for decades, and describes a typically female character whose traits include but are not limited to: "pure" morals, brunette (as opposed to the promiscuous blond), and often smarter than her peers. Throughout the horror movie or book, she experiences the absolute worst, watches her friends die, and comes out of everything alive, albeit damaged. This trope speaks to me because the final girl can be anyone and at some point in our lives, we can relate to the final girl.

While the trope itself has been around for a very long time, labeling the first final girl is up for debate. Carol J. Clover's definition of final girl would give Lila Crane from Psycho (1960) as the first official final girl, but I've had several discussions with colleagues who argue that Sally Hardest from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) as being the true first final girl. 

Regardless of who you think qualifies as the first final girl, you're sure to enjoy some of these recommendations from our collection featuring the more infamous and unknown characterizations of the final girl concept.

The Final Girl on the Big Screen 

Whether you refer to them as scream queens or final girls, the actresses from the following horror movies outlasted the worst of the worst when it comes to terror.  


A Nightmare on Elm Street


The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Finding the Final Girl in the Stacks 

While the final girl has always been popular in horror films, the trope is seeing a resurgence in modern horror and can be found on a shelf near you. I won't spoil the ending for you and reveal the final girl, you'll just have to read and find out.

The Last Final Girl


The Final Girl Support Group

Clown in a Cornfield

Final Girls

The Final Girl for Kids 

You’ve probably read a book or watched a children’s animated film featuring a final girl and didn’t even realize it. While these recommendations aren't necessarily spooky, they do reflect that the final girl can be found anywhere! 

Hansel and Gretel

Little Red Riding Hood / Caperucita roja


Looking for more final girl content? Check out this journal article "The Problem with Being a Final Girl" in the New England Review which gives an in depth look at the Final Girl trope. 

Do you have a favorite Final Girl? If so, let me know in the comments below and happy spooky season! 

This blog was written by Jennifer N. and first appeared October 2021.