These horror movie survivors have been through Hell and managed to come out the other side, and each of them does it with style! Unlike other horror movie heroes and/or victims, these characters stand out for their mental and physical strength. They make audiences care and root for them to triumph over evil, whether it’s by strapping a chainsaw to their arm, showing us the deadly uses of gardening tools, or by having enough sense to try and call 911.
There will be a lot of SPOILERS for the movies and franchises included on this list. So if you don’t want to know who did and didn’t die in these horror films, go watch these classics and then come back to enjoy this list. We also also included some characters who have died in their franchises somewhere down the line, but survived at least one movie. Just another reason sequels can be the bane of a horror fan’s existence sometimes.
So check out, in no particular order, the 15 Coolest Horror Movie Survivors Ever.
15. Jamie Lloyd (Halloween Franchise)
Jamie Lloyd (played by Danielle Harris) is the youngest person on this list, surviving both Halloween 4 (1988) and Halloween 5 (1989). She is the daughter of another great character on this list, Laurie Strode, making her Michael Myers’ niece. Growing up as the niece of a serial killer isn’t easy. She’s constantly teased for her familial connection to Michael and suffers from nightmares about him. In Halloween 4, Michael escapes an ambulance and torments everyone along the way. When he eventually is beaten, Jamie holds his hand before he dies. Unfortunately, Jamie snaps toward the end of the film (possessed by Michael’s spirit) and non-fatally stabs her mother.
However, Jamie’s story doesn’t end there. She returns in Halloween 5 and is hospitalized, where she forms a telepathic bond with her brother and has seizures when he kills. A pretty handy detector but not a pleasant experience for Jamie. Dr. Loomis uses her as bait to catch Michael, and she convinces him to take off his mask after calling him “Uncle.” She tries to connect with him by saying “You’re just like me,” but her comfort ends up sending Michael into a rage. What is admirable about Jamie is how much she goes through this film and how young she is. There is an innocence about her that is tainted by Michael, yet at the same time it’s touching how she tries to connect with him.
14. Yasmine (Frontière(s))
Yasmine (played by Karina Testa) is a survivor from the French horror movie Frontière(s) (2007). The film starts with rioting in Paris after a far-right candidate is elected to be France’s latest president. Yasmine, her brother Sami, Tom and Farid uses the ensuing chaos to commit a robbery, but Yasmine’s brother is shot during the process. Rather than just leave him to die, Yasmine and Alex take him to a hospital. Yasmine would still be there if she wasn’t pulled away to escape with the group
The group get out of the rioting city and head for the frontier. Unfortunately, they come across a group of Nazi occultists and are in for the fight of their lives. After killing her friends, including the father of her unborn baby, she is picked to be wedded to the eldest son of the family. But instead of saying “I do,” Yasmine takes out the entire gang, with some help. She pushes one of them onto a running table saw, slicing him in two. Yasmine also tries to convince the young girl who helps her, Eva, to leave with her, but she refuses. Finally, Yasmine surrenders herself to the police. Stealing isn’t cool, kids, but surviving a group of Nazi occultists is a pretty impressive feat.
13. Barbara Blair (Night of the Living Dead Remake)
If Night of the Living Dead had not been remade, Barbara would not be on this list. The woman referred to in the famous line “They’re coming to get you Barbara,” does not survive George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968). She even shuts down over the course of the movie, guaranteeing her eventual death. However, in Tom Savini’s remake of Night of the Living Dead (1990), Barbara Blair (played by Patricia Tallman) begins as a meek individual who adapts and grows stronger because of the zombie apocalypse.
Unlike pretty much every other character involved, Barbara survives to the end of this movie. For most of the film, she and a group of survivors were holed up in a house. In a last ditch effort, Barbara runs from the house and searches for help. Not only does she find it, but she actually comes back in the hopes that her newfound friend Ben will still be alive. Unfortunately he is now undead. The scumbag who is partially responsible for his death is still alive and well, though, which Barbara rectifies by shooting him in the head. Not something you should look up to, but movie-goers were pleased to be rid of that headache-inducing character.
12. Seth Gecko (From Dusk Till Dawn)
Seth Gecko (played by George Clooney) is a perfect example of a dark type of cool. He is a gun-toting criminal in From Dusk Till Dawn (1996). Before the opening credits role, Seth and his brother Richie rob a bank, kill a sheriff, shoot a cashier and then set the place on fire. Unlike his psychopathic brother Richie, Seth is much more calm and collected.
The two are on the run from the law and hole up in a stripper club, waiting for their contact. Unfortunately for them, the club is full of vampires. This is where the movie changes from a crime thriller into a horror movie. Seth does a killer job fighting off hordes of vampires and is forced to kill his brother when he turns. When a member of the family he kidnapped, Kate, asks to go with him at the end of the movie, he actually declines, knowing she would be much better off without him. He even offers her money from the bank robbery. He’s a classy, gun-toting criminal you may want to admire from far, far away.
11. Michelle (10 Cloverfield Lane)
In 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), Michelle (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) gets into a car accident and is brought into a shelter by two men, Howard and Emmett, who claim their world is undergoing a chemical attack and the only way to survive is to stay in their underground bunker. Most of the film revolves around Michelle trying to outwit Howard and escape the bunker.
Howard is a domestic abuser who pretends to be Michelle’s altruistic savior; he threatens her when she breaks his rules, more interested in controlling her than understanding her. Michelle has experience with abusers, her father being one and destroying her courage at a young age, making her often respond to arguments (like the one she has with her fiance in the film) by running away. She is an intelligent character who puts aggressive plans into action to attempt to escape the controlling Howard and his bunker. She manages to escape, but finds herself now facing the outside world that, while not totally poisonous, is being invaded by aliens.
Michelle valiantly fights back against the abuse in her life, both before and after the incident in the bunker, and instead of running away to a “safe zone,” the movie ends with her heading to Houston to confront the alien intruders. Her bravery against the horrors in her life makes her a very admirable and memorable character.
10. Ginny Field (Friday the 13th Part 2)
The heroine of Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), Ginny Field (played by Amy Steel) is one of the smarter survivors of the Friday the 13th franchise. She is the second-in-command to her boyfriend Paul at a summer camp counselor’s training seminar, but she proves to be his equal because of her intelligence and confidence as a leader. She also breaks the rules, drinking, cursing and having sex, something that usually spells out death for a horror movie character. Here, it makes Ginny a not so innocent character who isn’t naive of the world.
Ginny is the only one who takes the legend of Jason seriously and actually sympathizes with him. When she walks into a darkened room, she knows something is off and she doesn’t just ignore it. Ginny’s athletic talents also help in her fight against Jason. She even saves her boyfriend by fending off Jason with his own machete. Her moment of real genius is dressing up as Jason’s mother to keep him from killing her. A+ for quick-thinking on that one.
9. Erin (You’re Next)
The biggest plus of this movie is the strength of its heroine, the competent and highly capable Erin (played by Sharni Vinson). You’re Next (2011) is a relatively new horror movie about the Davison family. Erin goes to her boyfriend’s family reunion and they are attacked by a group of masked killers. Right from the beginning, Erin remains calm and takes many steps often missed by characters in horror movies. She secures the house and texts 911.
Erin’s skills stem from the fact that she grew up on a survivalist camp and learns martial arts. She thwarts the many attempts made on her life throughout the film. When the killer in the Tiger Mask tries to kill her, she kills him with a meat tenderizer. When the killer in the Lamb Mask seems about to kill Drake, Erin stabs him with a screwdriver and later kills him. She also sets up an ambush in the basement and successfully takes care of the man in the Fox Mask.
When she discovers Drake planned the murders, he tries to bribe her but Erin manages to kill him. It’s unfortunate she’s shot in the shoulder by a cop, who thinks she murdered Drake in cold blood, but she still manages to survive… and accidentally kills the cop with a trap she set at the front door. Not the best ending for her, but it was her ingenuity that ultimately saved her life at the cost of others.
8. Marybeth Dunston (Hatchet Franchise)
Marybeth Dunston (played by Danielle Harris) is not playing around when she first appears in the Hatchet (2006) franchise. She heads into the swamp to look for her missing father and brother, putting her own safety at risk in order to find her family. But she doesn’t come empty-handed: she has a gun and knowledge about the legendary Victor Crowley that supposedly kills anyone who enters the swamp.
Despite being scared, Marybeth never gives up and is a very active character, using both her brains and physical strength. She’s willing to put herself on the line not just for her family but also for others, as she does when Ben goes searching for gasoline to set Crowley on fire. Even when she finds her family dead, Marybeth doesn’t lay down and die but instead goes after Crowley with a vengeance.
After going through such a horrible ordeal, you would think Marybeth would want to never go into a swamp again. But she returns in Hatchet II (2010) with a bunch of trained gunmen to put an end to Victor Crowley. At the end, she has her heroic moment when she repeatedly chops Crowley’s head using a hatchet and then shoots him in the face with a shotgun. She does appear in Hatchet III (2013) even more pissed off, but it is debatable whether she survives this ordeal or not.
7. R.J. MacReady (The Thing)
R.J. MacReady (played by Kurt Russell) is a highly resourceful and intelligent helicopter pilot in the sci-fi horror movie The Thing (1982). He is one of the people who takes charge of research scientists as an alien creature begins killing and assimilating members of their group. This creates a lot of paranoia among the characters, and MacReady makes it his mission to figure out the identity of the Thing. He takes cautious steps, quarantining members of the group who may be infected.
MacReady also shows off his flamethrower skills when he torches the aliens on several occasions. When he’s suspected of being infected by the Thing, he threatens to blow everyone up with dynamite if they don’t back off. Not taking any chances, MacReady ties up the members of the group and figures out a way to test whether someone is infected. He tells the group to give blood samples and to poke them with a hot piece of wire, as the creature’s blood will most likely react to defend itself. MacReady then arms people with weapons when they pass the test. At the end of the film, MacReady helps destroy the site with dynamite to prevent the Thing from returning. His methodical thinking and proficiency with flamethrowers and dynamite make MacReady a must-have on a cool horror survivor list.
6. Kirsty Cotton (Hellraiser Franchise)
Kirsty Cotton (played by Ashley Laurence) survives several Hellraiser films. She’s an extraordinary woman who is a master at the art of the deal. In Hellraiser (1987), after witnessing her stepmother Julia kill a man and then her Uncle Frank, now skinless, eat him, Kirsty manages to escape with some quick-thinking, throwing the Lemarchand’s box out the window to distract her uncle. When she later solves the puzzle box and accidentally summons the Cenobites, Kirsty’s able to make a trade, offering them her uncle’s life instead of her own.
Like a lot of horror movie survivors, the trauma of the events from the first film was a lot for Kirsty to bear. So in Hellraiser II (1988) she is stuck in a psychiatric institute. She is pitted against the head doctor of the institute, Channard, who becomes a Cenobite. Like last time, Kirsty is able to escape the Cenobites clutches by showing them they were once human. She also disguises herself in Julia’s skin to trick Channard, getting him accidentally killed by Leviathin.
In her final appearance in Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002), her husband, Trevor Gooden, is the protagonist of the film. He suffers amnesia from a car accident that he thinks killed Kirsty. Trevor learns he constantly cheated on Kirsty and was planning to kill her with the puzzle box. But Kirsty, once again making a deal with the Cenobites, offers them five souls instead of her own. She kills Trevor’s three mistresses, his friend, and then Trevor himself, pinning all of the murders on him. Her impressive ability to constantly outwit others, saving her own life countless times, make her a pretty cool horror movie survivor.
5. Nancy Thompson (A Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise)
The protagonist of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Nancy Thompson (played by Heather Langenkamp) lost a lot of loved ones to Freddy Krueger in the first film, leaving her pretty much alone to fight against him. At first she devises ways of staying awake, like gulping down coffee, but she also discovers important things about her dreams, like how she can pull objects (such as Freddy’s hat) out of them. She comes up with a plan to pull Freddy out of the dream world and into reality. When she accomplishes this, Freddy falls prey to the many booby traps Nancy has set-up around her home to defeat him.
Unlike many other horror movie survivors on this list, Nancy doesn’t finish Freddy with physical weapons. Instead, she must use her mind against him. She ultimately beats Freddy by turning her back on him, something that takes a tremendous amount of courage and mind power.
4. Sidney Prescott (Scream Franchise)
Sidney Prescott (played by Neve Campbell) does the unthinkable: she survives all four Scream movies! This is mostly thanks to her quick-thinking and tenacity. Every movie, she confronts Ghostface and lives to tell the tale. The movies always did a good job of making Sidney question those who are closest to her. In the first film, her boyfriend and friend are the killers; in the sequel, her friend is one of the killers and in the final film her cousin is partially responsible for the killings. Yet Sidney remains strong and still tries to create meaningful relationships.
In the third film, Sidney has hidden away from the world. She still tries to help people in her seclusion by taking a job as a crisis counselor on a woman’s abuse hotline, showing she has a big heart and cares about other people that she hasn’t even met before. Then, in the final film, Sidney becomes a successful author. Her book, Out of Darkness, explores Sidney’s personal journey through the horrors she experienced. When she is promoting her book at a bookstore, she talks about how she wouldn’t accept being a victim. She’s a compassionate and empowering survivor.
3. Laurie Strode (Halloween Franchise)
The woman who inspired the term “Scream Queen,” Laurie Strode (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) survives Michael Myers’ massacres in several of the Halloween films. In the first Halloween (1978) movie, Laurie fights back. She stabs him in the neck with a knitting needle, in the eye with a wire hanger, and in the chest with a knife. Despite not killing Myers, she survives, and in Halloween II (1981) she is taken to the hospital for injuries she sustained in the first film. Laurie has another showdown with Michael and manages to escape, learning she is his sister.
In the timeline of the fourth through sixth Halloween films, Laurie has supposedly died from a car crash. However, in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), it is revealed she faked her death and took on the identity of Keri Tate. She was the headmistress of a school that her son, John, attended. Laurie was haunted by Michael Myers, fearing he may return even though she watched him burn in Halloween II. Of course, since this is an undying horror franchise, Michael is still alive and finds Laurie. Rather than running away, Laurie sends her son and his girlfriend away so she can confront Michael. In their death match, she appears to kill him with an axe to the head. Halloween: Resurrection (2002) claims Laurie actually killed a paramedic by accident and not her brother, but since she is probably dead by the end of this film, I wouldn’t count it here as part of Laurie’s legacy.
2. Ashley “Ash” Williams (Evil Dead Franchise)
Ashley Williams (played by Bruce Campbell), better known as Ash, definitely doesn’t take the demonic entities in Evil Dead (1987) lying down. He fights off the many creatures summoned by the Necronomicon, and he does it with style. In the second film, his hand becomes possessed and tries to kill him. Ash cuts off his own hand and replaces it with a chainsaw. He turns his handicap into something that can vanquish evil even more efficiently.
Ash has gone through a lot, having to watch as many of his loved ones become possessed by “deadites” (the evil souls of the dead), then being forced to kill them to save himself. After two movies of this, Ash gets sent back in time to 1300 AD. In the third film, Army of Darkness (1992), he fights deadites during the medieval period and eventually returns home victorious. He continues his fight against the deadites in the television series Ash vs Evil Dead (2015-).
The new Evil Dead (2013) movie didn’t even try to replace Ash, knowing Bruce Campbell’s character was too cool to possibly duplicate. He was named the Greatest Horror Movie Character Of All Time by Empire Magazine, winning out over Freddy Krueger, Hannibal Lecter and Michael Myers. In his own words: “Hail to the king, baby!”
1. Ellen Ripley (Alien Franchise)
Ellen Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) is on numerous best characters lists and she deserves the praise. She begins Alien (1979) as a warrant officer, awoken from stasis along with the rest of her crew. Ripley isn’t always liked or respected by the other crew members, but she holds her own. They land on a planet, which leads to the alien infiltrating the ship and killing everyone except Ripley. She blows up their ship to take care of the alien and when she discovers it on her shuttle, she launches it out into space.
Ripley still had a lot more hardships in store for her. In the sequel, Aliens (1986), Ripley wakes up after 57 years of stasis. Her story about the alien in the first story is not believed by officials, and her space flight license is revoked. She also learns her daughter Amanda has died. Ripley has to go back with the marines to the planet with the aliens and the team is mostly wiped out. Only Ripley and a handful of others survive. When Ripley confronts the alien queen, she is able to once again send the threat out to space. She goes toe-to-toe with danger and survives… until Alien 3 (1992). But most people don’t talk about Alien 3…