Inheritance: The Legacy of Ellie Sattler in the Jurassic Franchise


  • Lauren Chochinov University of New Brunswick Saint John



Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, Final Girl, Evolution, Maternity


Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), the heroine of Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993), has long been considered a feminist icon, notable for her assertion that in the wake of man’s Icarian fall, women will inherit the earth. As the only woman in the film, I suggest that Sattler inhabits multiple archetypes common to female characters in genre films, especially the action heroine and the Final Girl, a popular trope in horror films. Like Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) from the Alien franchise (1979-1997) and Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) from The Terminator films (1984-2019), Sattler’s intelligence, her strength, and her empathy situate her as Jurassic Park’s heroic heart. When the franchise next sees Ellie Sattler in Jurassic Park III (2001), however, she is a mother of two children and married, the centre of a nuclear, heterosexual family – a notable change from her earlier portrayal as a career-focused woman in a male dominated field.  This essay examines how the Jurassic Park films and their sequels, Jurassic World (2015), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018), Jurassic Word: Dominion (2022), increasingly move away from Sattler’s feminism in the form of Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), whose characterization is indicative of the franchise’s celebration of maternal, heteronormative women and villainization of those who do not fit this mold.


Abad-Santo, Alex. (16 June 2015). “A Guide to Jurassic World’s sexism controversy.” Vox, (last accessed 09-04-2023).

Bedeschi, Andrea. (3 June 2015). “EXCL – Colin Treverrow talks [to] us about Jurassic World and the controvery over the Joss Whedon Tweet!” BadTaste Italia, (last accessed 10-04-2023).

Briggs, Laura and Kelber-Kaye, Jodi I. (Autumn 2000). ““There Is No Unauthorized Breeding in Jurassic Park”: Gender and the Uses of Genetics.” NWSA Journal, 12(3): 92-113.

Brown, Jeffery A. (2011). Dangerous Curves: Action Heroines, Gender, Fetishism, and Popular Culture. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press.

Busch, Jenna. (10 June 2022). “Steven Spielberg Asked Laura Dern To Come Back for Jurassic World Dominion.” Slash Film, (last accessed 10-04-2023).

Clover, Carol J. (2015). Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender In The Modern Horror Film. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

DeTora, Lisa. (2008). “‘Life Finds A Way’: Monstrous Maternities and the Quantum Gaze In Jurassic Park and The Thirteenth Warrior.” In Situating the Feminist Gaze and Spectatorship in Postwar Cinema pp. 2-26. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Drum, Nicole. (7 June 2022). “Jurassic World Dominion: Laura Dern Reveals Her Requirements For Playing Ellie Sattler Again.”, (last accessed 10-03- 2023).

Freeland, Cynthia A. (1996). “Feminist Frameworks for Horror Films.” In D. Bordwell and N. Caroll (Eds.), Post-Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies pp. 195-218. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Garber, Megan. (15 June 2015). “The Perma-Pump: Jurassic World’s Silliest Character.” The Atlantic, (last accessed 03-04-2023).

Jackson, Angelique. (nd). “The Feminist Evolution of ‘Jurassic World Dominion’: How Laura Dern, Bryce Dallas Howard and DeWanda Wise Became Summer’s Breakout Action Stars.” Variety, (last accessed 10-04-2023).

Johnston, Joe. (2001). Jurassic Park III [film]. Amblin Entertainment.

Khapaeva, Dina. (2020). Eaten in Jurassic World: Antihumanism and Popular Culture. In Man-Eating Monsters: Anthropocentrism and Popular Culture pp. 15-34. Bingley: Emerald Publishing Limited.

McConnaughy, James. (8 March 2016). “The Death of Zara Young, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Hate Jurassic World.” The Mary Sue, (last accessed 14-03-2023).

Ryan, Mike. (24 January 2016). “Sam Neill Talks ‘Jurassic World’ And Losing His Seat At Sundance To Nick Jonas.” Uproxx, (last accessed 24-03-2023).

Semigran, Aly. (12 June 2105). “Jurassic World Has A Serious Woman Problem.” Refinery 29, (last accessed 01-04-2023).

Spielberg, Steven (director). (1993). Jurassic Park [film]. Universal Pictures.

Sudan, Rajani. (1997). Technophallia. Camera Obscura, 14(1-2): 105-130.

Treverrow, Colin (director). (2015). Jurassic World [film]. Universal Pictures.

Williams, Linda. (1999) “Film Bodies: Gender, Genre and Excess.” In Sue Thornham (Ed.), Feminist Film Theory: A Reader pp. 267-284. New York: New York University Press.

Wilson, Graeme. (Summer 2017). ““Women Inherits the Earth”: Deconstructing Jurassic Park as an Early Text in Third-Wave Feminism.” Popular Culture Review, 28(2): 71-81.

Yamato, Jen. (13 June 2015). “‘Jurassic World’s’ High-Heeled Heroine: Bryce Dallas Howard on Feminism and Footwear.” The Daily Beast (last accessed 04-04-2023).

Yuan, Jada. (June 12, 2015). “There’s No Feminism to Be Found in Jurassic World’s Genetic Code.” Vulture (last accessed 14-03-2023).




How to Cite

Chochinov, L. (2023). Inheritance: The Legacy of Ellie Sattler in the Jurassic Franchise. Cinergie – Il Cinema E Le Altre Arti, 12(24), 13–24.