When watching horror films, audiences root for two types of characters: the villain in question and the final girl. These characters are fun to watch; they make audiences scream, cheer, and sometimes even cry. The final girl typically is the one who gets the attention in popular culture. Laurie Strode in Halloween, Nancy in A Nightmare on Elm Street, or Sidney Prescott in Scream.
Update September 30, 2023: This article has been updated by Yosra Ben Lagha to include more non-final girl/boy characters that are fun to watch.
There’s also another set of characters, those who embody many of the qualities of the final girl but don’t get the spotlight they deserve due to a horror movie’s plot. These characters quickly become fan favorites but sometimes don’t even survive the end of their horror movie. While Final Girls are definitely fun to watch, there are other characters in the horror genre that commend the same respect and induce the same amusement. Here are some awesome horror characters that aren’t Final Girls.
14 Karla – I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)
If you know I Know What You Did Last Summer, which you probably do, then you should also know its incredibly gripping sequel, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. The supporting character of Karla carries the whole movie. Her intelligence and quick reflexes help her avoid Ben’s deadly hook for a long time. She is not just good at getting away, but her sense of humor and lighthearted presence is what keeps the movie watchable despite all the gore and violence of the horrific scenes. Although she doesn’t die, she is not typically considered a final girl because only her friend, Julie, confronts Ben and finishes him off.
13 Bobby-Lynne – X (2022)
Bobby-Lynne is everything fans want in a final girl in 2022’s X. Funny, talented, sassy, daring, and compassionate soul, showing kindness to everyone around her. She’s also a mentor of sorts to Lorraine, who thanks to Bobby-Lynne’s support, breaks out of her shell and explores a more provocative side of her sexuality. Unfortunately for Bobby-Lynne, her good heart comes at a cost when Pearl kills her due to her striking resemblance to Pearl’s sister-in-law, Mitsy.
12 Clear Rivers – Final Destination 2 (2000)
Clear Rivers is one of the most interesting main characters of the Final Destination franchise. Clear plays the girl with the special ability to read signs and predict the future. She uses her ability to help Alex rescue people from their impending doom. She is smart, intuitive, and driven, and she even keeps an evidence board to keep track of any progress in the death list. Her honesty, confidence, and belief in the supernatural power that humans possess make her such a unique character and one of the most important pillars of the movie series.
However, cheating death proves to be a serious challenge that, eventually, she couldn’t keep up with. Despite her frantic efforts to stay alive and make it to Final Destination 2 as the only Flight 180 survivor, Clear dies of an accidental explosion in a hospital room.
11 Randy Meeks – Scream (1996)
Inarguably, the Scream franchise’s most beloved supporting character, Randy, has everything required to be a final boy. Randy is smart, knows horror movies like the palm of his hand, and always seems to be the closest to knowing the Ghostface killer’s identity. Even after being murdered in Scream 2, Randy is continually referenced throughout the franchise and even has a cameo in Scream 3. Randy Meeks is a legend that never truly dies.
10 Kate Schmidt – Fear Street Part One: 1994 (2021)
Kate Schmidt is the fearless character that every horror movie should have. She’s a student at Shadyside High School, where she also works as a drug dealer. She’s an exciting and popular cheerleader, a rebellious teen, but also an excellent friend. In fact, she dies protecting and saving her friends against evil forces, dark spells, and a merciless murderer.
Although many characters die inFear Street Part One: 1994, Kate’s death could be the most unexpected and brutal of them all. She gets cake smashed in the face, stabbed, and then, her head is torn to pieces. Sadly, a single two-minute scene destroys the final girl potential that the audience definitely felt in Kate.
9 Jenna – Friday the 13th (2009)
Friday the 13th (2009) is one of the best in the whole franchise. It tells the story of a group of college students who decide to spend the weekend in a cabin in Crystal Lake. However, when they meet the psychopathic, masked killer, Jason Voorhees, they soon realize it’s probably going to be their final vacation.
Jenna is the helpful one in the group. Her hospitality and selflessness are exhibited when she offers to help Clay find his missing sister. However, despite her good fight, she ends up dying. It’s definitely no surprise for someone who knows that in most horror movies, the overly nice characters almost always die first.
8 Ketih – Barbarian (2022)
Keith is the red herring in Barbarian. He seems a little too nice to be true, but he isn’t. Keith is actually a decent guy who just wants to help Tess in her time of need, and perhaps that is his flaw. When Tess warns Keith about the room she stumbles upon in the hidden cellar, Keith’s good nature prompts him to go down and investigate, only to meet his untimely demise at the hands of The Mother.
7 Kirby – Scream 4 (2011)
Randy Meeks is irreplaceable, but Kirby Reed is in a league of her own in how great of a character she is. Smart, a horror buff, and extremely loyal to her friends, Kirby steals the show in Scream 4, immediately becoming a fan-favorite. Fans were appalled when her character seemingly met her demise at the hands of Charlie, and they demanded a rewrite of Kirby’s fate. Eleven years later, Scream paid fan service when it’s revealed that Kirby’s character actually survived her Ghostface attack and returns in Scream 6.
6 Rachel – Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1988-1989)
Despite only being a teenager in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Rachel plays a key role in the events of the film, serving as a surrogate sister and guardian to Jamie Lloyd and ensuring their survival against Michael Myers. Nurturing, brave, and quick-witted, Rachel has every required quality to become the final girl of the franchise after Laurie Strode’s off-screen death. Nevertheless, Rachel meets an early demise in Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Meyers; what a shame, considering this character’s iconic status.
5 Barb – Black Christmas (1974)
Black Christmas was revolutionary in and of itself. It presented themes only sparsely explored in films prior, including abortion, sexually explicit language, and a significant amount of gore, specifically in Barb. Barb is an early feminist, sexually uninhibited, forward-thinking, and unfazed by Billy’s predatory phone calls; she is the most interesting character in the film. Barb could have easily been its final girl had the writing team gone in a different direction.
4 Tommy Jarvis – Friday the 13th: Part 4-6 (1984-1986)
When first introduced in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Tommy is just a small boy who loves video games and has a peculiar interest in masks. Nevertheless, Tommy proves himself much more than a defenseless child when Jason attacks his family and friends. When only Tommy and his sister, Trish, are left standing against Jason, Tommy quickly thinks of a way out by shaving his head, fooling Jason into thinking he’s looking at a mirror image of himself, and giving Trish enough time to strike Jason down.
Nevertheless, it’s Tommy who delivers the final blow when Jason’s momentarily down for the count. This isn’t the last time Tommy is seen, though, returning in both Friday the 13th: A New Beginning and Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, to face Jason’s doppelgänger and Jason himself. Tommy is as resilient as any final girl in the horror genre.
3 Mollie – Fresh (2022)
Mollie serves as the deuteragonist in Fresh, often pointing out the social commentaries the film is addressing while serving as the voice of reason for Noa. While audiences can relate to Noa’s need for romance, Mollie is everything needed in a final girl. Intelligent, charismatic, and brave, Mollie goes above and beyond to discover Noa’s whereabouts when abducted by Steve. Fortunately for Mollie, she survives her ordeal alongside Noa, giving Steve his just desserts when the three captive women beat him down.
2 Karen – Halloween and Halloween Kills (2018-2021)
Karen Nelson is one of the best-developed characters in the Halloween franchise. Raised in what is more of a hiding spot over a nurturing home, Karen learns survival tactics from her mother, Laurie Strode, that no child should, leading her to be placed in foster care for her own well-being. What makes Karen so compelling is her overall arc; she holds resentment towards Laurie for her upbringing but nevertheless is compassionate towards her. Karen’s childhood experiences prompt her to pursue a career in child psychology, and this, in turn, allows her to see past Michael’s senseless mayhem.
While Karen initially refuses to hunt down Michael after his survival following the 2018 face-off against the Strode women, she goes into action to save her daughter, Allyson, seconds before Michael kills her, leading Michael into a trap organized by Haddonfield’s citizens. In an unexpected plot twist ending in Halloween Kills, Karen is murdered by Michael Myers in the same spot as his first kill, Judith Myers. Karen’s death is inarguably the saddest event in David Gordon Green’s Halloween trilogy.
1 Tatum Riley – Scream (1996)
Portrayed by Rose McGowan, Tatum Riley is Sidney Prescott’s best friend in the original Scream. It’s hard to survive when you’re only 18 and your best friend’s boyfriend, Billy Loomis, is a murderous criminal. Tatum loves her friend Sidney and is very supportive of her throughout the movie. She is also the character who brings the fun to the party. She’s popular, smart, and a little too carefree sometimes. So much so that she takes the masked killer for granted when she sees him in the garage. One of her most famous lines is: “No please don’t kill me Mr. ghost face; I want to be in the sequel.” Her sense of humor was impeccable until the very last scene.
However, Tatum is not just a funny, shallow high school girl; when the killer attacked her, she fought back, throwing beer bottles at him, tripping him, and even knocking him on the ground a couple of times. Unfortunately, the killer was just a little bit more resourceful and ended up crushing her head by the garage door with a click of a button. Alas, the fun, iconic, witty, and beautiful Tatum did not make it to the sequel but definitely remains an unforgettable character.