The title of Final Girl goes hand in hand with a horror film. The last girl standing at the end of the movie has fought back against an evil that has killed off her friends one by one. But she’s different and not like the other characters, thus making her smarter and able to survive. It’s a common trope in the genre, but every now and then that mantle is given to the other sex to become the final boy of the film. It is interesting to note that most final girls are teenage girls, while the final boys range in age from little boys to grown men.
In celebration of the men of horror, here is a list of horror’s 25 most memorable final dudes.
Michael in The Stepfather (2009)
A decade before Penn Badgley became one of the biggest anti-heroes in television history on Netflix’s You, he played a character by the name Michael Harding, a young man who returns home from military school and meets the man his mother is engaged to. Realizing there is something off about this guy, he discovers that the man is a murderer and must protect his mother and girlfriend in this remake of the 1987 film of the same name.
Todd in The Burning (1981)
A launch pad of a movie for on screen talent like Jason Alexander and Holly Hunter. It could be argued that Todd, played by Brian Matthews in this cult classic slasher, was one of the first final boys to appear in horror films. Todd squares off against the Corpsey Killer, a maniac who has knocked off his friends one by one after being scorched in a malicious prank gone bad.
Will in The Invitation (2015)
A tense, claustrophobic, tight horror thriller that doesn’t let up from the opening to the closing credits. The Invitation follows Will (Logan Marshall Green), who shows up to a dinner party with his girlfriend that is hosted by his ex-wife and new husband. Out of the gate, Will is uncomfortable for relatable reasons, but as the night unfolds, he must fight for his life just to escape this party alive.
Bill in Society (1989)
This body horror cult classic that is held in high regard for its gross-out moments and brilliant social commentary is still adored by horror fans to this day. Society follows Bill Whitney, a young man born into wealth and prosperity. But when he learns that his family are members of an underground “society” that preys on the lives of those who are not like them, it’s up to him to turn the tables and fight back.
Tommy in Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
1995 was a big year for up-and-coming actor Paul Rudd. He had just co-starred in the comedy Clueless in July, and a few months later he would appear in what has been debated as one of the worst entries in the Halloween franchise, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. Rudd, plays Tommy Doyle, who, if you are an avid fan of the franchise, you know was a kid when he escaped the grasp of Michael in the original film. Now all grown up, he takes the fight to Michael and shares the screen with the film’s final girl, Kara, played by Marianne Hagan.
Sam and Michael in The Lost Boys (1987)
A tale of two brothers who move to a California town and end up having to battle a gang of vampires. When Michael is transformed into a vampire himself, we learn that the head vampire must be killed in order to reverse the curse and turn him back to normal. Let’s not forget that Sam was played by 80’s superstar Corey Haim.
Louis Creed in Pet Sematary (1989)
Doctor Louis Creed is the tortured soul at the center of what is hailed as one of the best Stephen King adaptations of all time, Pet Semetary. One by one, Louis loses the people he loves most and attempts to bring them back by burying them in the cursed burial ground near his home. What ensues are some classic on screen horror moments as Louis now must find his way to be the last one standing and survive the consequences of his actions.
Nick in House of Wax (2005)
Escaping the teen comedy roles of the early to mid-2000’s, Chad Michael Murray plays Nick in the horror remake of the same name, House of Wax. Rather than having a love interest that lasts till the end, the film goes in a different direction by having Nick be one half of a set of twins with his sister Carly (Elisha Cuthbert) that take on the serial killers who knock off their friends one by one and then proceed to cover them in wax.
John in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
Of course, you would be a final boy if you were Laurie Strode’s son. When John (Josh Harnett) lies to his mother, the head mistress of a private school he attends (Jamie Lee Curtis), about going on a field trip to Yosemite, he and his friends find themselves under attack by Michael Myers in what is the film’s seventh installment.
Casey in The Faculty (1998)
Keeping up with the trend of late-nineties horror. This blend of science fiction and horror pits a group of students at a high school who fit the mold for all the different cliques against their alien-controlled teachers. Casey (Elijiah Wood), teams up with a group of would-be high school rivals to end this alien invasion once and for all.
Jim in The Hitcher (1986)
C. Thomas Howell plays the role of Jim Halsey. A young man who is driving from Chicago to southern California decides to pick up a hitchhiker by the name of John Ryder, who ends up being a murderer. The Hitcher is full of intense scenes of horror that make you wonder how Jim is going to get out of being tormented and stalked by Ryder. But by the third act, Jim must go toe-to-toe with Ryder and end him and all the horror he creates.
Paxton in Hostel (2005)
Paxton and his friend Josh are traveling across Europe when they get kidnapped and held captive as part of a dangerous underground trafficking scheme. Eli Roth’s controversial film has scenes of torture and bloodshed that make you want to look away. However, what makes Paxton a final boy is that he survives the ordeal and seeks out those who did it to settle the score.
Charley in Fright Night (1985)
One of the most popular final boys of the eighties. Charley Brewester survives an attack from his neighbor, Jerry Dandridge, and learns that his neighbor is a murderous vampire. Charley does everything to try and get those around him to believe that Jerry is responsible for the disappearances of so many of the film’s characters but fails to do so, so in the end, it’s up to him to put a stop to it.
Fool in The People Under the Stairs (1991)
Wes Craven gives us an iconic character in black horror cinema, Fool (Brando Adams). A young boy who is given the task by his older brother to break into the home of their family’s landlords, The Robesons. Once Fool is inside, he learns that the couple’s evil ways exceed his expectations.
Mike in Phantasm (1979)
Although the ending has been debated by horror fans all over the internet, Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm does have one of the original final boys. Mike is a thirteen year-old-boy who witnesses strange happenings at a local funeral parlor. When he notices the eerie Tall Man returning a casket to a hearse and not its grave, he gets suspicious. As he dodges one menacing flying sphere after another, Mike is able to survive the wrath of the Tall Man.
Jim in 28 Days Later (2002)
Waking up in a hospital bed twenty-eight days after a virus outbreak has occurred has to be very jarring. That is what happens to Jim (Cilian Murphy). After being rescued by some survivors during the outbreak. Jim learns of the highly contagious, rage-inducing virus that is plaguing Great Britain and begins to find a way to manage in what is the “new normal”.
Tommy Jarvis in Friday the 13th (Part 4,5,6)
Spanning three films in one of the major horror franchises, Tommy Jarvis has battled Jason Voorhees as a kid, a teen, and an adult, and is played by three different actors as well. Although the hockey-masked maniac keeps coming back, Tommy has defeated him all three times, thus making him an important final boy in the genre.
Editor Note: Friday the 13th Part 5 gave us a double dose with the Reggie!
Hooper and Brody in Jaws (1975)
Since it’s two grown men and not a teenage boy or young adult, it’s easy to overlook these two characters. Hooper and Brody take on the vicious shark in Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster Jaws. A film that arguably kicked off the summer blockbuster films as well as the shark attack subgenre.
Shaun in Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Simon Pegg plays the title role of Shaun, a London-based slacker who wakes up to see that the zombie apocalypse has begun. As he teams up with a few other survivors of the outbreak, Shaun begins to take on the role of a leader and becomes the final boy of the film. Undoubtedly, a horror-comedy gem that works perfectly with a final boy in the lead role. Horror comedy is a difficult balance that fails more than it succeeds, but in this case Simon Pegg firmly cements his place in horror’s 25 most memorable dudes.
Chris in Get Out (2017)
In Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, Chris, a black man in an interracial relationship, is brought by his girlfriend to meet her parents for a weekend getaway. Her parents begin to act strange, and Chris learns there is something more sinister brewing under the surface of their home. Chris goes on the attack as the family begins to do harm to him and, in the end, survives the ordeal. Thus breaking the trope of having a black person be one of the first to die in a horror film.
Alex in Final Destination (2000)
Alex in Final Destination is a character that a lot of horror fans would agree is one of the top final boys of the genre. He’s a character who took on death itself. Despite the franchise having five movies in total, it all goes back to the original, when Alex has a premonition that he and his friends will perish in a plane crash, so he decides to leave a doomed flight.
Jesse in Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
Jesse from Nightmare on Elm Street 2 is one of the quintessential final boys. Although there has been controversy surrounding the fallout of the film over the years, Mark Patton’s portrayal of Jesse in the film is nothing short of iconic. Jesse not only defeats Freddy in the film but has to battle him through most of the movie internally as Freddy has taken control of his body. Over the years, his prominence as a cultural icon and place in horror’s 25 most memorable final dudes is assured.
Andy in Child’s Play (1988), Child’s Play 2 (1990), Child’s Play 3 (1991)
Serial killer Charles Lee Ray becomes trapped in a Good Guy Chucky doll; he goes on the hunt for a new vessel for his soul and sets his sights on a boy named Andy. Through three films, Andy overcomes the attacks from the killer doll. Surviving a mass murdered in the form of a killer doll is a triumph, but most likely it will cause a lot of trauma later in life.
Childs and MacReady in The Thing (1982)
Most horror fans would argue that John Carpenters: The Thing (1982) might be the greatest horror film of all time. It is almost easy to forget that the cast is entirely made up of men. So this genre classic must have a final boy, or two. By the end of the film when all the crew of Antarctic Outpost 31 have been wiped out by a shape shifting alien organism, it is MacReady and Childs that remain. It’s open for debate, one of them is infected, maybe both are, or maybe neither of them have an alien organism inside of them.
Regardless, the two of them remain and thus make them final boys.
Ash in The Evil Dead franchise
We can’t forget about Ash Williams. Not only is he the definition of a final boy, but he is horror royalty. He survives Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 by battling the evil forces that are lurking around a cabin in the middle of the woods. Then fights off an army of undead during the Middle Ages in Army of Darkness. And to top it all off, he comes back for more in all three seasons of the show Ash vs. Evil Dead. The role itself has given Bruce Campbell cult status as an actor.
Horror’s 25 Most Memorable Final Dudes
In a genre rife with serial killers tracking down one final girl that has to fight for her life, the horror gods have smiled upon men by allowing them to join in the fun. It’s not about which trope is better, its about celebrating the diversity in stories and character. While this list is not exhaustive, it is definitive in listing horror’s 25 most memorable final dudes.