The Final Girl? Isolated heroines and the absence of female friendship in teen horror

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


Since its inception academic study of the horror genre has focused on issues of identity, power and gender, debating the abject, body horror, castration/ phallic symbolism, the male gaze, voyeurism, female passivity, female victimhood, women in jeopardy, female monstrosity, and heteronormativity. In this way horror, including teen, YA and children’s horror, negotiates gender and especially changing gender identities. This paper examines the way female heroes have become more prevalent, and more active, in teen horror on television, yet they still tend to operate in isolation from other girls and women. The tropes of teen TV mean that more often than not, girl heroes are in conflict with other women, whether this enacts the generational divide of teen drama, or the bitchy competition of high school cliques. Sidekicks and mentors to female teen horror heroes tend to be male, while heteronormativity generally rules romantic relationships. From Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) to Scream (2015-) and Shadowhunters (2016-), few such series pass the Bechdel test, something this paper argues is owing to a range of factors, mainly industrial and commercial rather than creative.
Period29 Nov 2017
Event titleInvestigating Identities in Young Adult (YA) Narratives
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionRegional


  • Teen horror
  • television horror
  • Final Girl
  • gender
  • Bechdel test
  • television industry