Nancy Thompson Is the Ultimate Final Girl

Nancy Thompson

Surviving a horror picture is major. Only a select few actors can wear that honorable distinction. Amongst those who have made it to the end of a fright flick, Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) stands head and shoulders above the rest. She is the quintessential final girl. Nancy broke the mold and no one has done it better. Full stop.

Nancy stands as the ultimate final femme for a long list of reasons. To name a few, she’s resourceful, brave, determined, and capable of thinking on her feet in clutch situations. Nancy Thompson is not the type to run and hide. She confronts terror head on and we are all better for it. The way Nancy pulls Fred Krueger out of the dream world and into ours at the end of A Nightmare on Elm Street is nothing short of inspired. The fact that she’s a high school student at the time makes her daring act of bravery all the more impressive. I could barely tie my shoes when I was a teenager. But Nancy used her keen powers of observation to figure out the rules of Freddy’s game and bested the Bastard Son of 100 Maniacs with sheer willpower and tenacity. Bravo, Nancy, bravo. 

To be fair, anyone who survives a sadistic cinematic killer deserves their flowers. That’s no easy feat. And on that basis, I will gladly give credit to Nancy’s contemporaries. But Nancy has survived Fred Krueger, an antagonist who is far more intimidating, capable, and powerful than any of his peers. Because of that, Nancy exists in a different league than your run-of-the-mill final femme or fella. 

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Speaking of her contemporaries, it feels almost unfair to compare other survivor gals to Nancy. She’s just that special. Sure, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is one of the all-time greats. She has faced down Michael Myers time and again. And yes, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) has earned bragging rights by successfully tangling with multiple incarnations of Ghostface over the years. But besting Fred Krueger puts Nancy on a different level. Freddy stalks dreams. He claims his victims when people are at their most vulnerable and lacking any means of defense. Given that everyone must sleep, Freddy is completely inescapable. Sid or Laurie could leave town and would likely be able to evade their tormentors in doing so. But Not Nancy. Nancy has no choice but to fight. And she isn’t one to back down from a challenge. Nancy repeatedly rises to the occasion when called upon to do so. 

Furthering Nancy’s status as the premiere final femme is the notion that she has never appeared in a bad franchise installment (within the original cannon) and she’s never outstayed her welcome. Nancy’s involvement with the Elm Street series makes the films in which she appears better. If I’m being honest, I’m a little bored of watching Laurie Strode and Sidney Prescott make return appearances to their respective series and emerge victorious time and again. I enjoyed catching up with both of them the first couple of times they returned.

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But the formula becomes stale after a while. So much so that I found Sid’s absence from Scream VI to be almost refreshing. And if I’m being truthful, I wish that David Gordon Green’s Halloween trilogy had killed off Laurie by the final installment. It wouldn’t be the first (or second) time the character died. So, if history has taught us anything, it’s that these beloved fixtures can always be revived at a later date. As such, there’s no need to shoehorn them into every series installment.

I’ve never experienced that kind of fatigue with Nancy, however. Her presence has always kept me wanting more. The return of a legacy character works best when it’s exciting and unexpected, rather than a foregone conclusion. Fortunately, Nancy has never outstayed her welcome. She rocked our worlds by way of her inaugural appearance in A Nightmare on Elm Street; she broke our hearts when she perished at the end of Dream Warriors; and then the celebrated final gal brilliantly blurred the lines between the real world and movie magic when she returned for a meta take on the character in New Nightmare. Nancy stars in what are widely accepted as the three best films in the Elm Street franchise and her presence is a large part of what makes each of those installments noteworthy.  

All things considered, Nancy Thompson is the ultimate final gal. Nancy is wise beyond her years; she elevates each franchise entry in which she appears; and she has outwitted one of the most cunning killers in the annals of horror history on more than one occasion. Sure, there are other noteworthy final femmes. Lots of them, in fact. But no other horror movie survivor is as capable or resourceful as Nancy. 

Make sure to vote for her as part of our Final Girl Bracket on Twitter and Instagram!



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