The term “final girl” comes from the Carol Clover book Men, Women, and Chainsaws, in which she describes the concept of the final girl as the last girl standing in a horror film. While final girls are one of the most prevalent tropes in horror cinema, one of the lesser-seen tropes is the final boy, a surviving male character who either defeats the creature or makes it through to the end of a horror film with their life intact.
There’s no way to talk about final boys without recognizing that many of them are coded as queer in the same way that final girls are coded as asexual or as lesbians. Whether it’s through their hairstyle, a specific prop, or a fear of intimacy with the opposite sex, these final characters are meant to be understood as something different.
Some of the best final boys in film are those who either define the trope or completely subvert it. They each have their own peculiar traits, but they're all so much fun to watch on screen.
- Photo: New Line Cinema
Who They Were Up Against: Freddy Krueger, a sleep demon who controls Jesse's body and uses him to terrify the children of Elm Street outside of the dream world. He’s the most literal interpretation of a final boy in that he’s tortured by Freddy as all of his friends are ripped away from him one by one.
How They Survived: In the end, Jesse survives his possession by Krueger when his sort-of girlfriend, Lisa, tells him she loves him in a giant steel mill.
Close Call(s): Jesse is constantly dealing with Krueger taking over his body, but his closest call comes when he takes a trip to the local leather bar. He runs into his high school coach, who takes him back to the gym to harm him; however, he's actually saved by Krueger, who whips the coach with bath towels.
What They Went On To Do: At the time of its release, the film made more money at the box office than the original, but it was a critical disaster. Since then, Jesse and the actor who portrayed him, Mark Patton, have become gay icons, and the film has become a camp classic.
13260Is he a prime Final Boy?
Mike From 'Phantasm'Photo: Phantasm / Well Go USA
Who They Were Up Against: The Tall Man, a superhuman mortician who turns people into weird dwarf zombies on another planet.
How They Survived: After tracing the Tall Man through his mortuary and observing his work on the mysterious red planet, Mike and his friend trap the Tall Man in a mine shaft before Mike simply wakes up in bed and discovers that much of the film was a dream.
Close Call(s): When Mike discovers that the Tall Man is from another planet, he accidentally falls through a portal to the new world and he's almost stuck. Luckily, his friend Jody manages to snatch him back before the portal closes.
What They Went On To Do: Mike continues the fight against the Tall Man throughout all of the film's sequels, and in everyone of them except for Phantasm II, he's played by A. Michael Baldwin.10942Is he a prime Final Boy?
- Photo: Cabin in the Woods / Lionsgate
Who They Were Up Against: Initially, Marty and his friends were dealing with the zombified Buckner family. However, as the zombies were defeated, he and his friend Dana had to fight off a ton of movie monsters and "the Director," the leader of a mysterious facility built in order to feed very old gods.
How They Survived: A bit of good news and bad news here: Marty helps Dana survive the attack by the Buckners and the Director. After surviving the night, technically getting out of the horror movie portion of the movie, both of the survivors are crushed by a hand of the gods.
Close Call(s): After smoking marijuana tainted by the mysterious operation, Marty takes on the status of "the fool," a stoner who's meant to eat it early in the film. After he discovers that someone is watching them, he's dragged off by the Buckners. However, he ends up surviving that attack and saving Dana.
What They Went On To Do: Depending on how you want to read the movie, Marty quickly perishes after smoking a joint with Dana. However, actor Fran Kranz has gone on to appear in plenty of films - horror fans will want to check out You Might Be the Killer.15780Is he a prime Final Boy?
Jim From 'The Hitcher'Photo: The Hitcher / HBO
Who They Were Up Against: John Ryder, an unstoppable slayer. He's a real-life boogie man who gets rides with people and pushes them to the brink of humanity.
How They Survived: Jim gives into Ryder's need for aggression and chases him down as he rides to prison, crashes the bus, and takes him out in the middle of the street.
Close Call(s): After pushing Ryder out of his car, Jim continues running into him at gas stations along the way - most notably when Ryder hijacks a semi-truck and uses it to run into the pumps before igniting the gas. Later in the film, Jim and a girl he picks up along the way run into Ryder. When Jim refuses to fire at him, Ryder rips the girl in half between two trucks.
What They Went On To Do: In The Hitcher II, Jim suffers from PTSD and is once again stuck with a demanding hitchhiker. C. Thomas Howell, the actor who portrays Jim, later went on to star in a film that's equally as harrowing as The Hitcher, Soul Man, as well as an absolute glut of films and television shows.10945Is he a prime Final Boy?