Horror doesn't just have to be about scary monsters and their victims — some of our favorite horror stories include awesome monster-slayers, who are on a mission to wipe out everything slimy or toothy. Here are horror's 10 greatest heroes.
We scoured the internet to find the greatest monster-hunters in horror, and we also asked our Facebook page. Here's what we came up with:
Gordon Freeman (Half-Life)
When we first meet the protagonist of Half-Life, he's a theoretical physicist working for a research facility which accidentally opens a portal, bringing hostile creatures into the compound. In the first game, the player is Freeman, fighting alongside fellow employees to subdue both the creatures and the military unit that's been sent to eliminate witnesses. In the games, Freeman never talks and there are no cut scenes. The player is in control of him at every turn, and Freeman has to win out over almost insurmountable odds.
Sheriff Eben Olemaun (30 Days of Night)
The sheriff of Barrow, Alaska, Olemaun has to fight off the hordes of vampires who have come to Alaska to take advantage of the long stretches without sun. By injecting himself with vampire blood, Olemaun fights off the vampire elder Vicente to save the town, and - spoiler alert - in doing so, he makes himself vulnerable to sunlight and turns to ash when the sun rises, essentially sacrificing himself to save the town.
Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden (The Dresden Files)
You can find Harry Dresden in the Chicago yellow pages, under the heading of "wizard," but he's no joke. Even if he is considered unrefined by the rest of the wizarding community (the fact that they speak to each other in Latin, and Harry's Latin is from a correspondence course doesn't help that perception) he is one of the strongest wizards, in terms of pure magical ability. He uses that ability to work as a kind of supernatural detective, often consulting with Chicago's police department. Throughout the books, Dresden tangles with vampires (both the blood-drinking kind and the sexual-energy-draining-succubi kind), faeries, and a pretty persuasive demon. His allies include werewolves and holy knights of the cross.
Vampire Hunter D
When the world is blasted to rubble at the turn of the millennium, mutants and vampires begin to prey on the humans who survive. Flash forward to the year 12,090 when D is a half-human, half-vampire (a dhampir) who becomes the greatest vampire-hunter of them all, taking on the most powerful vampires including the 10,000 year old vampire Count Magnus Lee. Riding a cybernetic horse and wielding a crescent longsword, D has an amulet that can ward off lasers and small nuclear blasters, and a super-powerful symbiote living in his left palm. When monsters kidnap women and misbehave, D's the dhampir who'll stand up and say, "Your time is coming to an end. Your kind must face extinction. You cannot survive, you must die. That is the rule of nature."
As a demon summoned to Earth by Nazis, Hellboy isn't initially someone you'd pick as a monster-slayer - but actually, Hellboy works for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, fighting the forces of darkness. He is, in fact, "the world's greatest paranormal investigator," and he fights monsters from myth, legend, and folklore. If you need someone who can fight a Lovecraftian creature, as well as the more traditional vampires, he's your man.
Abraham Van Helsing (Dracula by Bram Stoker)
The original, and still one of the best. Created by Bram Stoker as the protagonist in Dracula, Van Helsing is a crafty vampire-slayer, who leads a team to destroy Dracula. Here's how he's described in chapter nine:
He is a seemingly arbitrary man, this is because he knows what he is talking about better than any one else. He is a philosopher and a metaphysician, and one of the most advanced scientists of his day, and he has, I believe, an absolutely open mind. This, with an iron nerve, a temper of the ice-brook, and indomitable resolution, self-command, and toleration exalted from virtues to blessings, and the kindliest and truest heart that beats, these form his equipment for the noble work that he is doing for mankind, work both in theory and practice, for his views are as wide as his all-embracing sympathy.
Movie adaptations have emphasized him as a vampire hunter and have often played up the action level in his role. *cough* Hugh Jackman *cough* He's also been played by Peter Cushing, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Plummer and Mel Brooks.
Ellen Ripley (the Alien movies)
When it comes to unfathomable, pitiless menaces in deep space, there's really only one person you'd call. (Well, apart from the Doctor, perhaps.) Ripley is the reigning champion of space horror, who takes down xenomorphs with an indomitable fury. (And don't you dare call her "the Final Girl.") All you really need to know is, "Get away from her, you bitch!"
Sam and Dean Winchester (Supernatural)
The Winchester brothers are third-generation monster-hunters, but they've gone beyond just carrying on the family tradition. In the face of unstoppable prophecies and cosmic manipulation by the forces of Heaven and Hell, they still stand up for their humanity and freedom of choice. Whether it's a creature of legend or Paris Hilton, nothing can keep the Winchesters down for long. But we'll let this quote from TV Tropes sum them up:
Fans disagree on a lot of things, but most can safely agree that Dean's graveyard slide and stabbing the zombie to her coffin in "Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things" and Sam beheading Gordon with barbed wire in "Fresh Blood" were the most awesome kills ever.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Sunnydale's champion redefined monster-killing for a new generation. The Hellmouth lures countless vampires, demons and uncanny forces of evil to Sunnydale, and only one woman stands in their way. Her resolve and resourcefulness are in direct proportion to her snark and obession with things like becoming prom queen. Classic moments include her self-sacrificing swan dive at the end of "The Gift. Plus the way she catches Angel's sword between her palms, showing that when she's lost all her friends and helpers, she still has the greatest resource of all - herself. Buffy's forever our hero, even if we don't quite understand the recent comics storylines.
Ash (The Evil Dead trilogy)
Hail to the King, baby! Ash definitely won the most votes on our Facebook page. Says Julius Flywheel: "Ash ticks ALL the boxes. Great lines, dash and elan, winning smile, derring do and a great moustache." Adds Lee Von: "No powers, just attitude. Come get some." The clinching argument comes from Paige Hammermill: "Buffy is a good choice, but I think she loses out because while she did die twice, she never chopped off her own hand and rigged it w/ a chainsaw." Undisputed.
Runners up: Simon Belmont, Beowulf, Solomon Kane, Drop Dead Fred, Jessica Harper in Suspiria. Amy Irving in The Fury, Dr Loomis from the original Halloween films, the Frog Brothers, Captain Kronos, R.J. MacReady, Riddick, Alice from the Resident Evil series, the Monster Squad, Vincent Price in the Last Man on Earth.
This article originally appeared on io9 in October 2010.