Caution: May contain spoilers.

To celebrate Women in Horror Month, this post is about the most badass women in horror movies. This is a great roundup. Women in horror used to cower in the presence of murderers or gaze longingly at the male hero’s chiseled face. They often needed to be saved. Women now have the most central role in horror movies, evolving from the damsel in distress to becoming the final girl, or eventually even the protagonist. Most of these strong female characters began as bookish or timid then revealed their tougher true natures. You might feel as if you need to keep an eye out, sitting next to some of them in an auditorium.

Ellen Ripley: Alien

It can’t be the most bad ass women in horror list without including Ellen Ripley from Alien. She is the tough as nails protagonist who set a new standard for women in horror, sci-fi and action. She single-handedly braves a ferocious alien creature that murders her crew, saved her cat and escaped the vicious creature’s claws. She is the best final girl ever.

Imperator Furiosa: Mad Max: Fury Road

Charlize Theron plays Imperator Furiosa in the movie Mad Max: Fury Road. She stands up to toxic masculinity and sets out to rescue her young charges from a cruel man Immortan Joe and leads a rebellion against tyranny.  

Clarice Starling: Silence of the Lambs

Clarice Starling is a young FBI agent working on a case to catch murderer, Buffalo Bill. She forms an unlikely friendship with the fierce cannibal, Hannibal Lecter (who had been caught years earlier) as she tries to glean the inner workings of the mind of a killer. She shows true courage and unparalleled determination.

Sarah Connor: The Terminator 1 & 2

Sarah Connor starts as a waitress destined to be a mother to John Connor. She fights against brutal cyborgs that want to kill her bloodline. Her protectiveness and her razor-sharp instincts were key in her transformation from waitress to warrior.  

Lady Van Tassel: Sleepy Hollow

Double, double, toil and trouble! Lady Van Tassel is definitely trouble. She has a bad grudge and strong desire for money and dominance and will use her witch powers and intelligence to get exactly what she wants. Even if that means practicing necromancy in secret and summoning the cunning and deadly Headless Horseman to cut off people’s heads. Beware.

Helen Lyle: Candyman

Helen Lyle is a grad student who has a strong interest in myths and folklore. She moves to a town filled with fear about the legend of the Candyman. She doesn’t believe it (at first). But she is soon drawn deeper into the mystery, and comes face to face with the one-armed murderer herself.

Ginger Fitzgerald: Ginger Snaps

Two sisters flirt with death. On the night of a full moon, Ginger is bitten by a werewolf and she begins to change psychologically and physically. She kills off a janitor, counselor and a local drug dealer. Her struggle with her newfound identity is a poignant metaphor for adolescence and puberty.

Alice: Resident Evil

Alice wakes up with amnesia in a classy mansion. She slowly regains her memories and battles zombies, discovering who she really is along the way. As her identity is revealed to her, so is the secret information about dangerous illegal experiments. She defies the Red Queen, who released amnesia-causing nerve agents into the lab.

Lydia Deetz: Beetlejuice

The goth clairvoyant and troubled teenage daughter is the only one to see the recently deceased Maitlands in her new home. It had been theirs before they passed away. She befriends them and helps them scare away the living, but when the Maitlands summon Beetlejuice to boot the new residents out, Lydia helps the dead couple save the day.  

Laurie Strode: Halloween

A high school babysitter who just wants a normal life encounters a knife-wielding madman named Michael Myers. She’s a survivor, and she outwits the seemingly unstoppable horror movie icon,  demonstrates strength and bravery throughout.  

Kirsty Cotton: Hellraiser

Kirsty Cotton may have accidentally summoned the Cenobites. Instead of running scared, she makes a deal with the demons to bring them to the skinless Frank who is back from the dead, willing to murder innocent victims. When the demons begin to prey on her next, she banishes the leather clad monsters back to their own hellish realm.

Meg Penny: The Blob

Meg is not your typical teenage girl. Though she catches the attention of a local football player Paul Taylor, she is a brave and determined young woman. A mysterious asteroid lands on earth near her town, which releases a strange gelatinous substance that munches on people. Meg rescues her loved ones, learning that the blob hates cold, along the way. Armed with knowledge that no one else could figure out, she saves the town.

Carrie White: Carrie

Is Carrie a victor or a victim? You decide. A teenage girl lives at the mercy of her religious zealot mother and the bullying schoolgirls. But things start to change when she discovers she has telekinetic powers. When she is doused in pig’s blood at the prom, Carrie unleashes her fury and powers in one of cinema’s most memorable scenes. No one gets out alive.

Thomasin: The Witch

Thomasin is a good girl at the beginning of Robert Eggers’ movie The Witch. But when her baby brother goes missing, and a series of tragic events cast her as the villain, Thomasin becomes the one thing her paranoid family accuses her of being: a Witch. Rather than run from the coven of satanic witches in the woods responsible for murdering her family, she makes a pact with the devil and joins them in a bold statement about female empowerment.

Annie Wilkes: Misery

The seemingly sweet and reclusive nurse, Annie Wilkes, loves to read romance novels. She rescues Paul Sheldon, a novelist who just survived a car accident and traps him in her home. He soon discovers help is never coming. Annie wields a sledgehammer and forces him to write a new novel.

Akasha: Queen of the Damned

Some doors are best left closed. When a vampire with a thirst for vampire and mortal blood resides behind those walls, it is clear why they should remain hidden. Lestat’s violin music reawakens Akasha, and she revels in a blood driven rampage.

Pamela Voorhees: Friday the 13th

Pamela is burdened by teenage pregnancy, mental health issues, single motherhood and a disabled son. It is all too much for her. After her disabled son drowns, she feels a strong compulsion to murder camp counselors whether they are innocent or not.

Lucille Sharpe: Crimson Peak

Lucille Sharpe is beautiful and darkly charismatic. But don’t let her fragile beauty fool you, she survived abuse as a child and turned to her brother Thomas for love. She is an insane murderous woman. Don’t get caught in her clutches.

Jennet Humfrye: The Woman in Black

Based on the novella written by Susan Hill, the woman in black is formidable. She forever mourns the loss of her own child. She haunts Eel Marsh House as a malevolent wraith and murders all the children in the neighborhood. Her story is a tragic reminder of the horrors that can befall women.

Grace Stewart: The Others

Ah motherhood. The joys – and sorrows. Grace protects her two light sensitive children from any threat, whether spectral or real. The beautiful home is cast in darkness and secrets. But it is soon discovered that the war and the isolation it inflicted on her is too much for her. So, she smothered her two children and killed herself. They are the ones haunting the home. But once the secrets are revealed, the ghost children can now play in the sunlight.


Heddy Johannesen is a conjuror of Gothic Fiction. She has written for many horror magazines such as Polar Borealis, Handbook of the Dead, The Feminine Macabre, Paranormal Chronicles, Untimely Frost, Samhain Secrets, One Night in Salem, Wax & Wane: A Gathering of Witchy Tales, Witches and Pagans Magazine, Horror Novel Reviews: One Hellacious Halloween. Heddy Johannesen has 14 years of experience as a freelance writer and a Bachelor of Arts Degree. She successfully graduated from an online Copyediting Certification course through Writer’s Digest University. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association. She attended the virtual Horror Writers Association StokerCon writing convention in 2021 and in 2022. She’s a writer with a fascination for the paranormal. Find her on Twitter at @magicka66