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Final Girl: Nancy

Updated on August 29, 2012

Heather Langenkamp Portrayed Nancy Thompson

Final Girl Nancy From Nightmare on Elm Street

Nancy Thompson lives at ill-fated 1428 Elm Street in Springwood, Ohio, U.S.A., and the Elm Street storyline places her at this address for her whole life until her friends start dying, one by one.

Nancy Thomson attends Springwood High school and starts having strange nightmares about a disfigured man who sports knives in place of fingernails. Nancy finds out her friend, Tina, has been having similar nightmares right at the start of the first and original Nightmare on Elm Street movie.

Tribute Vid To Nancy and Freddy

History With The Killer:

Part of the past Nancy is attached to happens to be her parents' past and their "sins." The parents/sins and the killer are directly connected. Her parents' past with the killer are unknown to Nancy until these secrets must be exposed in order to figure out why mysterious and violent killings are taking place in Springwood, among Nancy's friends...the connection between past and present is made when Nancy's mother, Marge, finally reveals that years before, a serial killer preying on the children of Springwood was apprehended but let loose from prison again by the courts on a ridiculous legal technicality.

In response, parents all over Springwood (including Marge Thompson) tracked the criminal down and dispensed their own form of justice. They set fire to  the killer's hideout and burned the killer to death. Marge Thompson walked away from that event, years ago, with one of the killer's knife-adorned gloves. She shows the glove to Nancy as proof that the killer was, in turn, killed, but Nancy still does not allow herself to rest easily after her mother's morbid confession.

As a Final Girl, this history of Nancy's parents still acts as a history between the killer and Nancy, and makes our Final Girl an innocent victim - her only flaw is that she's the child of people who killed a serial pedophile and child killer.

Final Girl Resourcefulness:

The Nightmare on Elm Street movie shows little but implies a lot about the depths of Nancy's resourcefulness. Nancy is shown speaking with her boyfriend, Glen, after the unexplained deaths of some of their friends. Nancy talks with Glen about dream-skills. Rather, as they talk about dreams and their nightmares,Glen tells her he's heard about people who can control their dreams. When Nancy asks how these masters of dreams would deal with a monster or something, Glen tells her a master would turn his back on the monster, thus removing the monster's ability to draw power from the dreaming person.

Nancy's resourcefulness is made known when Glen asks her what she's doing with survival skills books and books on survival tactics. The combined information from Glen's tips about dream-skills and the books Nancy reads is an indication that she's planning for battle with Fred Kruger, and for survival concerning the dreamworld she must return to in order to find and appropriately deal with Freddy.

Final Girl Virginity/Purity:

Nancy and Glen are shown in an early scene, whereby they most definitely have the opportunity to have sex. This is when, as supportive friends, they've agreed to stay overnight at Tina's house because she has complained about severe nightmares and doesn't want to be alone overnight. With no parental supervision, Nancy and Glen are quite free to engage in sexual activity, but Nancy is shown telling Glen, "NO," and reminding him that they reason they're in their situation is to be supportive friends for Tina, and not to take advantage of the situation for the purpose of sexual contact.

By the way Glen quickly accepts what Nancy says, with little argument or complaining, movie viewers can surmise that Glen and Nancy have respectful boundaries concerning sexual intercourse. This leaves viewers to also conclude that Nancy is still a virgin. In these early scenes, as the night wears on, Glen is shown in a separate bed and so is Nancy, and this allows viewers to feel sure of Nancy's purity.

Intelligence and Curiosity:

We see Nancy's Final Girl Intelligence and Curiosity in both her self-directed studying of survival skills books and dream master information as well as from her constant assertiveness with her mother throughout the film. For the latter, Nancy adheres to her insticts which tell her that her mother knows more than she is saying, and Nancy's instincts turn out to be correct.

We see Nancy being smarter than her friends and her boyfriend, Glen, smarter than both her parents, smarter than law enforcement officials and if she isn't smarter or more powerful than Freddy Kruger, she uses her smarts to at least get one step ahead of him. She outwits everyone as she pieces together plans on how to combat the unseen force which is destroying her friends, one by one. She uses her rational mind, even though what is happening around town doesn't appear the least bit rational. She uses logic to surmise that there's a way to survive, even on the killer's own turf, and then she turns around and launches her plans and strategies without the least hesitation.

At a Glance - Final Girl Points Summary

Just to review what the most important and common (necessary) points are for a character to be considered a "FINAL GIRL," see below:

  • Female (exception with Paxton in the movie Hostel)
  • Must be a virgin (pure, virginal)
  • Must avoid Death by Sex trope
  • Must refrain from consuming alcohol and drugs
  • Intelligent and Resourceful - moreso than friends and characters around her
  • Curious... and curious enough to open a Pandora's box - or seek to close the box that has been opened by others (whatever form the taboo/box takes in the movie)
  • Moves from static/timid to dynamic/assertive and evolves into Action Girl/leader
  • Usually brunette (avoiding being classified in the "dumb blonde" stereotype)
  • Has some link, association, history with the slasher/killer
  • The audience will identify/like and "root for" this character to succeed and live
  • By 3/4 way through movie, Final Girls will have both male and female fans
  • In at least one scene/instance, the killer will struggle with the idea of killing the Final Girl - she will escape due to the killer's hesitation

Of course, more and more exceptions are happening to these final girl rules in movies as film makers attempt new things and to put new twists on a host of already successful movie themes, plots, etc.

Hub Challenge Hub #2

This lens is part of a March 2010 Hub Challenge I'm doing. Mythbuster Hub Challenges

This hub is part of a series on "Final Girls"


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