Women in horror are a common occurrence. From protagonists to villains, along with tropes such as the final girl, it’s a genre that often features a significant amount of female representation and horror games are no exception to this rule.
It’s also fairly common for many women in these horror games to be tomboys. This means there is a distinct interest in presenting themselves in a masculine way or taking an interest in traditionally masculine activities. Plus, they’re frequently using these interests as part of their efforts to survive the horrors they face. Here is a celebration of the most iconic tomboys in the horror genre.
10 Rui Kagamiya (Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water)
No horror series is as distinctly female as the Fatal Frame series. Each game’s main protagonist is a teenage girl or a young woman, while much of the series leans heavily on the Japanese horror trope of the stringy-haired ghost girl for its villains. However, only one of these cast members could realistically be considered a tomboy, Rui Kagamiya of the fifth entry in the series: Maiden of Black Water.
Dressing in masculine clothes and sporting a short haircut, Rui is even considered to be a man when facing a particularly talkative spirit during the game’s story, and this makes her stand out among the rest of the cast. However, this gender ambiguity doesn’t get explored much beyond this, which feels like a missed opportunity.
9 Ellie Langford (Dead Space 2)
Not a lot of people managed to survive the horrors of the Necromorph outbreak on The Sprawl in Dead Space 2, but Ellie Langford’s first appearance made it clear that she intended to make it out alive. Her tomboy status comes from her profession, a Class 4 Heavy Equipment Pilot.
A deep knowledge of the traditionally male activities of mechanics and engineering are key to her survival, as she uses the same modified tools as protagonist Isaac Clarke as weapons. She even refuses to be evacuated as a helpless damsel and comes back to fly Isaac out of the site late in the game. It’s a shame that she doesn’t get to share the spotlight with him as a playable character.
8 Alexandra Roivas (Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem)
In a game with no less than twelve playable characters, it’s Alexandra Roivas that connects them all together as Eternal Darkness’ main protagonist. Alex’s interests lie in research and complex mathematics, and it’s this fixation on male-dominated STEM subjects that not only qualifies her for this list but also leads to her saving the world.
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She manages to remain calm in the face of mind-breaking cosmic horror, delving into the game’s skin-bound Tome of Darkness with curiosity and eagerness to seek solutions to the terrors it contains. She even wields an ancient Roman sword effectively, adding some brawn to her brains.
7 Regina (Dino Crisis)
On a team full of men, it’s the sole female member of Dino Crisis’ S.O.R.T. squad that everyone turns to for knowledge of weapons and combat. Playable character Regina is the team’s weapons specialist and is highly respected for this role.
She fits right in with the guys too, joking around with them on their level, even in tense situations. She also takes initiative as their operation on Ibis Island takes a turn for the worse. In essence, the exact woman you need when you’re trapped on an island full of dinosaurs.
6 Aya Brea (Parasite Eve)
Aya Brea starts the horror RPG Parasite Eve in a feminine evening gown, but it’s clear that she is incredibly uncomfortable in it. Her partner in the NYPD even views her getting dressed up for the opera as somewhat out of character. Considering she spends the rest of the game, and its sequel, dressed in some form of denim, it’s clear what she does feel comfortable in.
Beyond clothes, she’s also a trained cop with a knowledge of firearms, something that comes in handy when an entire opera audience explodes in front of her. Even her date can’t get in her way to take charge of a situation. An excellent protagonist for a highly underrated game.
5 Ashley (Until Dawn)
Much of Until Dawn’s cast are stereotypes ripped straight out of the slasher movie trope book. Mike is the jock, Emily is the mean girl, Chris is the nerd, etc. By this logic it’s easy to identify Ashley’s stereotype: the tomboy.
Aside from her trademark boyish beanie, she also possesses a nerdy bookishness that seems to make her more comfortable with the boys of the group, especially Chris, her crush. Although at times this does cause problems as the supernatural terrors arise, and her wild imagination tends to leave her prone to panicking at times.
4 Amanda Ripley (Alien: Isolation)
It’s not surprising that the daughter of one of cinema’s most beloved tomboy protagonists carries some of those traits herself. Amanda is the daughter of Alien’s Ellen Ripley, famously played by Sigourney Weaver, and her appearance in Alien: Isolation sees her trying to figure out what happened to her on the Nostromo.
Her tomboy credentials are made clear straight away; she’s introduced working on an engine. This mechanical knowledge comes in handy during the game as she grafts together equipment to evade the relentless xenomorph that stalks her throughout the game.
3 Ellie (The Last of Us)
From her dress sense to her love of comics, Ellie is unmistakably the definition of a tomboy. She’s brash, foul-mouthed, and scrappy, even more so than the standards of the post-apocalyptic world infected by fungal zombies seen in The Last of Us.
This brashness is key to her strength, but it’s also a major factor in her downward spiral in the second game, as her stubbornness and aggression lead her on a revenge mission that does more harm than good. Despite this, however, the excitement for the upcoming remake shows that fans still love Ellie for her love of puns and the relationships she builds with those around her.
2 Heather (Silent Hill 3)
While Heather exhibits some more typically feminine behaviors, players are introduced to her at the start of Silent Hill 3 at the mall where she’s been out shopping. There’s no denying that she’s a tomboy at heart. From her messy short hair, her apparent lack of interest in wearing makeup, and a fashion sense more focused on comfort than anything else, Heather certainly looks the part at least.
There’s also a brashness and aggression to her behavior too, as seen when facing both Douglas and Claudia for the first time. She has no interest in playing sweet and nice, and this is key to her survival as Silent Hill’s influence takes over.
1 Claire Redfield (Resident Evil series)
Resident Evil is one of the most iconic horror franchises out there, and it’s no surprise that it also has one of the most iconic tomboys in Claire Redfield. Why Claire and not Jill? Claire more suitably fits the bill, thanks to her interest in motorcycles being a prominent part of her personality. She arrives in Raccoon City on a bike and most of her appearances see her in some form of biker gear.
Beyond that, she grew up with a close relationship with her brother Chris, and this rough-and-ready upbringing made her focused and capable when faced with a city full of zombies, even rivaling the trained cops that make up much of the rest of the series cast.