Why ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Nancy Thompson is the Best Final Girl of All Time

By October 29, 2015
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Halloween is only a few days away, and right about now people are busy carving their pumpkins, filling their candy bowls, getting their costumes together, and prepping to re-watch some of their favorite, classic horror movies again. Oh and drinking, there will probably be a lot of drinking involved.

Looking back on some of the most classic, and iconic horror movies though, we here at GeekNation started thinking about some of the best Final Girls/survivors in said horror movies. Not the slashers, monsters, or ghosts tormenting the victims throughout the films, or the best kills committed by said antagonists, but the people who actually survive and beat the monsters tormenting them. It got us thinking and debating too – who exactly is the best final girl of all time?

Of course, quite a few names come to mind when you ask that kind of question. Laurie Strode from Halloween, Ellen Ripley from Alien, Sidney Prescott from the Scream franchise, and of course some of the male survivors as like like Evil Dead‘s Ash Williams, Tommy Jarvis from the Friday the 13th films, and so on and so forth. However, when we really started getting into the specific details and characters, we came to one conclusion about who we believe to be the best horror movie final girl of all time… Nancy Thompson from A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Now, right away it should be noted that Elm Street isn’t even a favorite horror movie among some of us here on the team, with many of us preferring John Carpenter’s original HalloweenThe Exorcist, The Thing, etc. instead. But when we really started to consider which character was able to survive the most traumatic experiences or finds the best way to overcome their fears, Nancy was a name that just kept popping up.

And before some of you start yelling at us, hear us out first. Then you can yell at us, although we would rather prefer you didn’t altogether.

a nightmare on elm street body imageWhen we really started to get into it, the reason that we think Nancy is the best is because she managed to defeat a villain that she had no escape from. Unlike some of the previously mentioned heroes and heroines, there’s no running from Freddy Krueger really, as he so brutally demonstrates to many of Nancy’s friends and loved ones throughout the film. You can stay up late, and you can avoid sleep for as long as you can, but even if you fly halfway around the globe, everyone falls asleep eventually – which means everyone runs into him eventually.

But unlike some of the other final girls, Nancy doesn’t beat Freddy with a knife or by running away from him – she beats him with her mind, and her pure courage. Freddy is the living embodiment of our worst fears, and a character that the late great Wes Craven created in order for him to be triumphed over. The reason that so many of her friends and characters throughout the franchise die by his claws though is because they’re afraid to look away from him.

Like always keeping your eye on the closet in your room, or turning on all the lights in the basement whenever you go down – Freddy wins because he receives your whole hearted belief and undivided attention.

But what does Nancy do to defeat him in the end? She turns her back on him. It’s the ultimate demonstration of courage and bravery, and something that even Freddy can’t overcome. She literally takes the power away from him, and in our minds, that makes Nancy the strongest final girl ever created onscreen because for those brief few seconds at the end, she overcomes her fears in the most symbolic way. It’s one thing to stab your fears in the heart or stomach – it’s another thing to accept their presence, and still manage to turn away.

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Alex Welch

Alex Welch

Alex dreams of meeting a girl with a yellow umbrella, and spends too much time* staring at a movie screen. His vocabulary consists mostly of movie quotes and 80s song lyrics. *Debatable