One of the earliest examples of the final girl trope can be found in the film Black Christmas (1974), where Jess Bradford, played by Olivia Hussey, is a well-developed character who refuses to back down against a series of more or less lethal male antagonists. Another early example of the final girl trope can be found in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), where Lila Crane, played by Vera Miles, investigates her sister’s disappearance and survives her encounter with the killer.
According to SpringerLink, Carol J. Clover introduced the concept of the final girl in her 1987 essay “Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film.” Clover challenged the simplistic assumption that the pleasures of horror cinema begin and end in sadism of misogynistic men, finding in slasher films a productive space to explore the issues of gender ambiguity and cross-gender identification. However, Clover argued that the surviving “boyish” girl merely stood in for male desires, acting as a source of identification for the predominantly male teenage audience.
In recent years, scholars have taken up the figure of the final girl as a critical trope to stimulate feminist debate about gendered spectatorship and female empowerment.