Kirsty Cotton is a fictional character from the Hellraiser series of films. Created by writer Clive Barker, the character first appears in the 1987 film Hellraiser and is based upon the character of the same name from the novel The Hellbound Heart. Usually appearing as the protagonist in the Hellraiser films, the character has been portrayed in all her appearances by Ashley Laurence.
Kirsty first appears in Hellraiser as the teenage daughter of Larry Cotton (Andrew Robinson) and stepdaughter of his second wife Julia Cotton (Clare Higgins), Kirsty moves with her parents to England to the house of her uncle Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman), who has disappeared sometime ago, but refuses to live with her parents, instead opting to live in a place of her own. When passing by her parents house one day, Kirsty sees Julia and a man enter the place and, believing Julia to be cheating on her father, follows the two inside and up to the attic of the house. It is there that Kirsty witnesses Julia attack the man and her uncle Frank, who is now a skinless entity needing to feast on the blood of others for nourishment, begin to eat him. When the man tries to escape, Frank chases after him and discovers Kirsty, whom he tries to attack, before stopping when she grabs the nearby Lemarchand's box. Realizing the puzzle box has some significance to Frank, Kirsty tosses it out a window, distracting him and allowing her to escape outside where she, after picking up the box, collapses. Found and taken to a hospital, Kirsty wakes up and, at first believing everything that has happened to be a dream, realizes she is wrong when a doctor hands her the box. Toying with the puzzle box, Kirsty solves and inadvertently summons the sadomasochistic demons known as the Cenobites and their leader, Pinhead (Doug Bradley). Chased by the Cenobites, who wish to take her to their world of torture, Kirsty escapes the hospital and flees to her parent's house. It is there that she encounters Julia and her father, who claim Frank is dead and shows her his body. This turns out to be a ruse, as it is actually Larry who is dead, Frank having killed him and taken his skin to wear as a disguise. Trying to kill Kirsty when the Cenobites reappear, Frank accidentally stabs Julia to death and is in turn dismembered by the Cenobites with hooks. With Frank and Julia dealt with, the Cenobites turn their attention to Kirsty, who, while fleeing from them, stumbles upon Lemarchand's box which Julia's corpse is clutching and, using it, manages to banish the Cenobites back to their dimension. With the Cenobites gone, Kirsty attempts to destroy the puzzle box once and for all by burning it, but while in the midst of doing so, a man grabs it from the fire and transforms into a winged, skeletal creature before flying away.
In Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Kirsty is in the Channard Institute, a psychiatric hospital, after being traumatized by the events of Hellraiser. She tells the head doctor of the hospital, Dr. Philip Channard (Kenneth Cranham), and his assistant Kyle MacRae (William Hope), about her experiences with the Cenobites. Kirsty begs them to destroy the mattress that her stepmother died on, believing that it connects to the Cenobites realm. Dr. Channard is revealed to have been searching for Lemarchand's box for most of his life. He summons Julia from the mattress by having a mentally ill patient kill himself on it. Kyle asks for Kirsty's help in stopping whatever it is Channard plans to do. Going to Channard's house alongside Kyle, Kirsty plans to use the Lament Configuration to resurrect her father. Kyle is killed and eaten by Julia. Then Kirsty, Channard and a mute mental hospital patient named Tiffany (Imogen Boorman) are taken to the Cenobites' realm. After an encounter between Julia and Frank, with the former killing the latter, Kirsty and Tiffany are attacked by the Cenobites. Before the Cenobites torture them, Kirsty reveals to Pinhead a picture of a man identical in appearance to him she found in Channard's office. Seeing the picture, Pinhead and the other Cenobites realize that they were once human, minutes before being killed by Channard, now a Cenobite himself. As Channard returns to his psychiatric institute and goes on a rampage, Kirsty has Tiffany re-solve the Lemarchand's box while she uses Julia's skin to disguise herself as her. Lured back to the Cenobites' realm, Channard tries to kill Tiffany, only to be fooled by the disguised Kirsty and be accidentally killed by Leviathan. With Channard dead, Kirsty and Tiffany manage to escape back to Earth using the puzzle box.
Kirsty makes a small cameo appearance in Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth in several videos taken from the Channard Institute which protagonist Joey Summerskill (Terry Farrell) watches to learn about the Cenobites.
Kirsty returns in the sixth installment of the Hellraiser series, Hellraiser: Hellseeker, where she has married a man named Trevor Gooden (Dean Winters), and supposedly died in a car crash, which Trevor has incurred amnesia from. Attempting to piece his life back together, Trevor's past is revealed to him by Pinhead, who reveals to Trevor that he repeatedly cheated on Kirsty and had conspired with a friend to kill her using Lemarchand's box. Trevor's plan backfired, as, after summoning Pinhead and the Cenobites, Kirsty proposed to give them five souls for her own. Pinhead reveals to Trevor that Kirsty had killed three of his mistresses and a friend, and that he is the fifth sacrifice. Trevor is in the Cenobites' realm, Kirsty shot him in the head while the two were driving, which caused the car accident. The film's final shot has Kirsty leaving a crime scene with Lermanchand's box; having escaped all conviction by framing Trevor for the murders she committed after killing him.