It’s officially spooky season, and that means it’s time to rewatch all your favorite scary movies.
And one of my favorite scary movie tropes is that of the final girl. So, today, we’re going to list some of our favorite final girls and walk through the weapons they used to get the job done.
So, keep reading and beware, there are spoilers ahead!
Table of Contents
What’s a Final Girl?
Before we talk about our favorite final girls, we should probably define what a final girl is.
Carol J. Clover first coined the term in her book Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film after she noticed horror films using a formulaic approach to storytelling.
This trope sees a woman as the sole survivor of a group of people who are usually being chased by a villain (or a group of villains, depending on the film).
The final girl usually gets the last showdown with the villain and either takes the bad guy out herself or is rescued in the final battle by someone else – usually the police or another male protagonist.
So now that we know what a final girl is let’s talk about some of the more notable ones we think are worth watching.
(And remember, this is a spoiler-heavy article, so you might want to skip if you haven’t watched the film…)
6 Best Final Girls of Scary Movies
1. Laurie Strode, Halloween
The OG of final girls, Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, fought her murderous brother through several Halloween movies spanning decades.
Her first appearance came in the titular film Halloween where Laurie tries to survive a harrowing night on the run from her brother – who we learn is a psychopathic killer with a penchant for painted William Shatner masks.
Aren’t family reunions fun?
In the first film, Laurie does a lot more running and hiding than anything else, but Dr. Sam Loomis ultimately kills Michael Meyers for her with a Smith & Wesson Model 15 in the final showdown.
In the second film, Halloween II, Dr. Loomis is back with the handy Smith & Wesson Model 15, but this time hands Laurie what appears to be a Colt Trooper.
Laurie uses it to shoot Michael in the eyes…which, in reality, would have been game over…but this is Michael Meyers we’re talking about. The shots merely blind him.
Luckily for Laurie (unluckily for Loomis), the room is set on fire, and after a few tense moments, Michael finally falls to his death…kinda.
Laurie makes another appearance in the franchise in Halloween: H2O – this time as a mom. Despite the overwhelming amount of trauma she’s endured (seriously, I don’t want to know what her therapy bills look like), she seems to be living a normal life. But, of course, her sibling has to reappear with a knife in hand.
This film really shows a grown-up Laurie, one ready to fight instead of run, armed with a revolver in hand – specifically, the Smith & Wesson Model 36.
This franchise really digs their wheelguns.
Laurie Strode comes back in a few Rob Zombie remakes, but Jamie Lee Curtis reprises the role another time in the 2018 film Halloween.
This Laurie Strode is bitter, angry, and more than ready to take on her brother. She’s not a teen running and hiding. Oh no, she’s ready for a fight.
It wouldn’t be a Halloween film without a revolver, this time a Smith & Wesson Model 66. But Laurie diversifies her firearm portfolio in this film.
At one point, we see her with an arsenal of firearms ready to use. But she opts for a Winchester Model 1873 lever-action rifle and Mossberg 500 Cruiser shotgun. That’s more than enough firepower to take on any psycho-killer.
Laurie Strode is the OG final girl for a reason – she’s a tough cookie with a really cool evolution from awkward teen to badass.
2. Grace Le Domas, Ready or Not
Ready or Not starts quaint enough – with orphan Grace finally gaining a family when she marries into the illustrious Le Domas brood.
But all is not what it seems when this family sits down for a little post-wedding game night, and the game of choice is a twisted version of Hide and Seek.
Suddenly, Grace, played by Samara Weaving, goes from belle of the ball to the hunted as the family tries to find her and ritually sacrifice her before dawn.
But this badass femme doesn’t go without a fight.
She arms herself with what appears to be a William Moore & Co. 8-gauge shotgun and a bandolier of slugs. It’s a pretty dramatic look – wedding dress, Converse shoes, and ammo – but it works as she tries to make her escape.
Things get hairy, but ultimately Grace survives and the Le Domas family…well, let’s just say things get a little heated.
3. Ellen Ripley, Alien and Aliens
We can argue over whether Alien and Aliens are actual horror movies or just straight sci-fi later. But, to me, it would be wrong not to include Ellen Ripley in a list of final girls.
I mean, this woman has fought off an alien queen not once but twice. That’s worth something.
The original 1979 film featured Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, wielding two weapons to fight off the aliens.
A custom flamethrower is used to burn some alien nests in the first film – goodbye and good riddance. Ripley also uses a harpoon in the escape pod as she tries to leave the alien behind but finds she’s hitched a ride.
The result is a pretty cool-looking space-age weapon perfect for alien destruction.
Ripley adds a little more flair to it when she tapes an M240 Flamethrower on it to go rescue Newt. Gun + fire…yeah, that helps.
Ultimately, Ripley saves the day and utters the most famous line from the movie, “Get away from her, you bitch.”
While some of our other final girls are more of the damsel in distress type, I’ve always appreciated Ripley’s ability to step into the fray and fight.
4. Sidney Prescott, Scream
You totally read that in the voice, didn’t you?
Sidney Prescott presents as a somewhat shy and awkward girl with a tragic backstory. Her mom was murdered the year before, and as the one-year anniversary of her death approaches, teens in town start showing up murdered.
When the killer, known as Ghostface for his, well, ghost face mask, turns his focus to Sidney, she must fight for her life to survive.
Sidney makes some confusing decisions at times, like running up some stairs while the killer chases her?? Yeah, I was perplexed by that one too.
Later, the killers (yep, more than one) are revealed to be…her boyfriend and his best friend.
Luckily, she kicks some Ghostface butt in the last act using a Beretta 92FS to save herself and her remaining friends.
(Honorable mention: Gale Weathers)
Though Sidney, by official standards, is the final girl in Scream, we have to give some props to Gale Weathers, who also makes it to the end.
Not only does she outlast the killers, she actually helps Sidney in the latter part of the film. If it weren’t for Gale…well, things might have turned out differently for our heroine.
Scream 2 takes place after the first film and sees Sidney off to college, where murder quickly follows.
Ghostface is back and targeting students. After some detective work, seriously, the police should hire teen girls to do all their investigating; we learn that Ghostface 2.0 is Sidney’s dead ex-boyfriend’s mother seeking revenge.
This time Sidney dispatches mommy dearest with a Glock 17. Don’t mess with perfection, I suppose.
While you would think this would be the last we’d see of Ghostface, it isn’t, as this bad guy just won’t go away.
We could spend an entire article on the Scream franchise since it spawned a ton of films and even a TV series, but we’ll leave it here.
5. Julie James, I Know What You Did Last Summer
While we’re on the topic of 90s classic slasher films, we have to mention I Know What You Did Last Summer.
This teen slasher flick sees Julie James and her friends face off against a slicker-wearing foe bent on tormenting and, ultimately, murdering them.
It kicks off when the brood of friends is involved in a drinking and driving episode that proves deadly when they hit and kill someone. They make the unfortunate decision to dispose of the body instead of alerting authorities. Mistake #1.
A year later, a mysterious killer seeks his revenge, and the teens are forced to try to survive. At the center of it is Julie James, the empathetic, quiet one, who has always felt the crew should have owned up to the accident.
As her friends start turning up dead, she’s forced to try to survive on her own. In the first film, Julie is the classic damsel in distress, with her boyfriend Ray saving her from the murderer, Ben Willis.
In the second film, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Julie comes a little more into her own.
And in the final act, she dispatches the bad guy with what appears to be a Colt revolver.
Granted, this six-shooter somehow pops off a total of nine shots in the scene (someone wasn’t counting obviously), but Julie saves the day.
6. Selena, 28 Days Later
Rounding out our list is the no-last name, Selena, who rescues Jim in the film 28 Days Later.
I’ll let you guys duke it out in the comments over whether this movie is a zombie flick or not, but Selena serves as our brave girl boss hacking her way through the infected horde with a machete.
It is England, after all, so not a whole lot of guns on the onset.
That all changes when she and the others find themselves at the mercy of some rambunctious military members. Suddenly the virus is the least of their worries…
In the final act, Selena, alongside her teenage companion Helena, must escape the fortress as the infected approaches.
Though Selena clings to her trusty machete in the main film, in an alternate ending, she steals and uses an L85A1 rifle to blow open a door.
Although three people survive to the end of this film, Selena deserves recognition as the final girl for holding things down and fighting her way through enemies – both infected and non-infected.
The final girl trope has brought us some fun characters to root for.
From Laurie Strode to Selena to Ellen Ripley, these women proved why they deserved to outlast all their film companions.
Who’s your favorite final girl or weapon of choice? Let us know in the comments below. For more fun articles on guns in film and TV, check out our Fun Category.