Fictional Characters Wiki
A Nightmare on Elm Street character
Heather Langenkamp as Nancy Thompson
Nancy Thompson
In-story Information
First appearance: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Family: Lt. Don Thompson (father)
Marge Thompson (mother)
Development Information
Created by: Wes Craven
Portrayed by: Heather Langenkamp (1984-1994)
Rooney Mara (2010)

Nancy Thompson is a fictional character from the A Nightmare on Elm Street series of Horror films. Played by Heather Langenkamp, she is the protagonist, Freddy's arch-nemesis, and final girl of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street film, and reappears in the third, and to some extent in the seventh. She also appears in a comic book series based on the films. In the 2010 remake, the character's name is revised to Nancy Holbrook. The franchise focuses on Freddy Krueger, a supernatural serial killer who uses dreams to murder the children of the people who burned him to death as an act of vengeance. Nancy is one of these children, and the films depict her struggle to survive her dreams and defeat the killer.



In the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, Nancy is a teenage girl who has begun experiencing nightmares about a mysterious, disfigured man in a red and green sweater. The man has "knives for fingers", which he scrapes along objects in the dream. She learns that her friend Tina is having similar nightmares; Tina is murdered in her sleep later that night. Tina's boyfriend Rod tells Nancy that he saw four "invisible" razors cutting her at the same time, a revelation which convinces her that the man from her dreams is connected to the murder. Nancy begins relying on caffeine to stay awake, and eventually discovers that she can pull things out of her dream after she takes the killer's hat, labelled "Fred Krueger". Her mother explains that Krueger was a child killer who was burned to death by vengeful parents after being freed from prison on a technicality. Nancy becomes convinced that he is exacting his revenge on the children of his killers from beyond the grave. With all of her friends dead, Nancy forms a plan to face Krueger alone and pull him into the real world, where he falls victim to a series of booby traps she has set up. Nancy finally defeats Krueger by taking back the energy she has given him and stripping away his power. Although Nancy does not appear in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, she maintains a presence when a new family moves into the house where she battled Freddy Krueger. Teenager Jesse Walsh, who inhabits Nancy's old room, and his girlfriend Lisa discover Nancy's old diary—which chronicles the events of the first film. It tells them of the murders of Nancy's friends, and also reveals Krueger's strengths and weaknesses. This helps Jesse and Lisa conquer Freddy in their own struggle with him.

In A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Nancy is re-introduced as the new intern at Westin Hills Mental Institution, where she meets the last surviving children of the parents who killed Freddy Krueger. When she realizes the children are falling victim to Freddy, Nancy begs that they be prescribed Hypnocil, an experimental drug, which she has been using to suppress her dreams, in an effort to protect the teenagers from Freddy. In a therapy session, Nancy uses hypnosis to put everybody to sleep and teach them how to use their "dream powers" to their advantage. However, she and Dr Neil Gordon are fired when Hypnocil is blamed for the patients' deaths. Neil and Nancy learn that in order to defeat Freddy they must lay his bones to rest; Nancy contacts her father, Donald Thompson, to find out what the town's parents did with Freddy's remains. As Neil and Donald go to bury Freddy's bones, Nancy returns to Westin Hills and rejoins the patients in the dream world, where they use their dream powers against Freddy. Freddy tricks Nancy when he appears to her as Donald, and stabs her with his clawed glove. After rising a final time to stab Freddy with his own glove, Nancy dies, and Krueger disappears as Neil covers Freddy's remains in holy water and a crucifix, and buries them. Kristen then states that she intends to place Nancy into a "beautiful dream." Nancy's tombstone is seen briefly in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.

To some extent Nancy reappears in Wes Craven's New Nightmare. The story, which is set in the "real world", focuses on actress Heather Langenkamp being stalked by a malevolent entity. Over the course of the film, Heather learns from Wes Craven that the entity was locked in Freddy Krueger's character throughout the Nightmare on Elm Street film series. With the character having been killed off in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare and Heather's character (who kept the entity at bay) being killed off in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, the entity has been set free, and wants to cross over into the real world in the form of Freddy Krueger. It views Heather as an enemy, since she was the person who gave Nancy the strength to defeat it in the original Nightmare on Elm Street. In order to battle the entity, who has kidnapped her son Dylan, Heather takes on the role of Nancy one last time and does battle with Freddy in the dream world, where she traps him in a furnace and destroys him. Though she only appears in flashbacks during Freddy's introduction in Freddy vs. Jason, she maintains somewhat of a presence: her former home is now occupied by Lori Campbell.

Nancy appeared in the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street with her last name changed to Holbrook and her occupation to a diner waitress. She was portrayed by Rooney Mara.


Nancy's spirit appears in the story "Asleep at the Wheel" from the 1991 short stories collection The Nightmares on Elm Street: Freddy Krueger's Seven Sweetest Dreams, appearing in the dreams of the character Ian to warn him that Freddy is real and not just an urban legend or the result of mass hysteria.

While not always considered canonical to the A Nightmare on Elm Street film series, Nancy returned in the A Nightmare On Elm Street six issue comic book series published by Innovation Comics in 1991. In the story, Nancy teams up with several other characters from the film series, including Neil Gordon, Jacob Johnson and Alice Johnson, to fight Freddy in his nightmare world. The events of this series were meant to fill in the time period between the A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child and Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare films. The series was written by Andy Mangels. The first two issues of the story explain to the readers about Nancy's life in between parts one and three. After the events of part one, Nancy had been sent to an institution by her father until she was "rational" again. Around the time she was in college after she was released, her father sold 1428 Elm Street to the Walsh family in Freddy's Revenge. In college, she studied psychology and sleep disorders, and made two friends in her roommates Cybil Houch and Priscilla Martin. After Nancy was fatally wounded by Freddy at the end of part three, Kristen had dreamed her soul into the Beautiful Dream, the good side of the dream world, where Nancy now acts as its agent as Freddy acts as an agent for the nightmare realm. In the story, Freddy begins targeting Cybil and Priscilla in an attempt to get to Nancy. He actually succeeds in killing Priscilla and Cybil's husband, James, before Nancy rescues Cybil. She is then reunited with Neil Gordon and the three of them realize that it might be impossible to fully destroy Freddy since he is pure evil, but it is possible to weaken him. Freddy is stopped and weakened by the dream-selves of unborn children, such as Cybil's unborn daughter, in a realm in the Beautiful Dream. The next four issues, titled Loose Ends, deals with the characters from previous Nightmare movies teaming up to defeat Freddy again. Here, Nancy is reunited with the soul of her father, who Freddy uses to try and kill her but is unsuccessful. Nancy defeats Freddy and manages to stop his plan of using Jacob Johnson to break into the real world with help from Neil Gordon and Devonne, a psychotic former accomplice of Freddy's.

Nancy makes an appearance in the final issue of the crossover comic series Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: The Nightmare Warriors. In a battle against Freddy Krueger, Dream Master Jacob Johnson summons the spirits of Freddy's past victims, including Amanda Krueger and the Dream Warriors. Nancy also appears, reuniting with Neil Gordon to help him read the Necronomicon's passages needed to banish Freddy. With Freddy defeated, Nancy leaves Neil and returns to the afterlife with the other spirits.

Clothes and appearance[]

In the first shot of Nancy, she is wearing a high school jacket with her dark brown hair tied back in a ponytail. Throughout the movie, her hair gets a white streak after her nightmares. She usually sleeps in her trademark pajamas although the original (and German release) poster depicts her as sleeping naked . Originally terrified through her experiences, she later grows courage throughout the movie which helps her defeat Freddy. In the third movie, her hair is much lighter and more curly. Her trademark white pajamas appear at the end of Wes Craven's New Nightmare. They are slightly different as this time they are long sleeved (with the sleeves rolled up) and do not feature any design on the chest. In this movie she has much darker hair than she did in Dream Warriors. Again, she gets a white streak in her hair and requires a bandage in the same place where Freddy sliced her in the original Nightmare, making her appearance in this movie much more similar (than in the third movie) to her appearance in the first movie.

A Nightmare on Elm Street
Films: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) • Freddy's RevengeDream WarriorsThe Dream MasterThe Dream ChildFreddy's DeadNew NightmareFreddy vs. JasonA Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Characters: Freddy Krueger (JEH / MK) • Nancy ThompsonOther characters

Related topics: Freddy's Nightmares (Eps) • Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street LegacyNancy HolbrookComicsFreddy vs. Jason vs. AshThe Nightmare Warriors • "Dream Warriors" • "Are You Ready for Freddy" • "Nightmare on My Street" • Boiler RoomNightmare RealmDream World