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Top 10 High School Characters That Could Actually Exist

Since the school year is just around the corner, now seems as good a time as any to look back at some classic high school movies. What tends to separate the good from the great in this genre is the believability of the characters. All too often the filmmakers are content to populate their high school with superficial stereotypes that only really exist if you’ve observed teenage life for about an hour. So when a high school movie has characters that are truly memorable, it is often because they are grounded in reality and every one of them is “just like someone I know”.

You may wish to brace yourself for some pop psychology lifted from a People magazine.

10. Jeanie Bueller

High School Girls & Boys - 10 Most Realistic In Movies

No, she’s not the star of the film. But she’s surely the character most grounded in reality. While Ferris acts as a way for us to escape from reality and imagine how cool it would be to be the kid like him (if one existed), Jeanie provides an anchor that is completely understandable to any student: rivalry. Ferris gets to skip, Ferris has the approval of his parents, Ferris even gets the support of the entire city of Chicago. What does Jeanie get? Aside from a hunky Charlie Sheen, not much. For anyone who’s ever wanted to ruin their siblings (or best friend’s, or anyone’s) day just because jealousy and spite, Jeanie is the perfect idol. Granted, by the end of the movie she becomes much more relaxed and accepts Ferris’s position for what it is, she will always remain the anchor of a movie that is so unfortunately based on fantasy.

9. Annie Brackett

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Sure, Halloween may not be a typical “high school” movie, but surely it’s message of sex=death is aimed right at fragile teens. And while Jamie Lee Curtis is the star the film is remembered for, it is the character of Annie Brackett that’s most likely to be walking around your high school and babysitting the local kids. Everyone’s had a friend like Annie. A friend who is cooler than you, more relaxed, and tries to break you out of your shell by forcing you into awkward moments. Unfortunately, she’s also the friend who pawns her babysitting duty off on you so she can go off and get laid.

8. Regina George

High School Girls & Boys - 10 Most Realistic In Movies

Every high school has a Regina George. The pretty popular girl who everyone knows. In the movie, everyone wants to impress her and be her friend, in real life most people knows that she’s a shallow whore. But regardless of her peers’ reaction to her, everyone’s school has had a blonde like this. For anyone in high school, they can pick out exactly who the Regina George is of their school. For anyone who’s a few years short of remembering, that’s why we as an audience get to study Regina through naïve Lindsay Lohan’s eyes. A hot, shallow bitch who sleeps with any guy with the right bod. If you don’t think your school had one, then it was probably you.

7. McLovin

High School Girls & Boys - 10 Most Realistic In Movies

Every group, no matter the age, has one of these. The loser of the group. Even if they all “love” that person, it’s still no question that he’s a loser and they’d rather go to a movie alone than sit through one with this guy. Thankfully, Superbad let us see into more of this character and see how willing they can be to break from their usual routine. And of course, every school has the kid who everyone assumes is smart, but then has a massive black hole when it comes to common sense, “Why didn’t you choose a common name?!” “Mohammed is the most commonly used name in the world!” But one thing everyone can relate to in McLovin is his need to shed his old reputation as the kid nobody really wanted around. Like stated earlier, the loser. Luckily McLovin is brave enough to get completely hammered and then have sex with a girl he doesn’t know, and now his reputation as a badass can begin.

6. Jeff Spicoli

High School Girls & Boys - 10 Most Realistic In Movies

One of the few things more abundant than underage sex during high school is pot, and Spicoli’s got to have a storage unit somewhere filled with the stuff. Even though he may seem stereotypical to the average non-highschooler, any student will tell you that the stereotype is dead on and matches at least a dozen of their classmates. Unfortunately, the many Spicoli’s of the world are thinning in number. There aren’t nearly as many of them as there were during their peak in the mid seventies to eighties. I’m sure they’ll make a comeback eventually.

5. Juno MacGuff

High School Girls & Boys - 10 Most Realistic In Movies

The cool girl. She just has to be so hip and off-beat in the way she talks and the movies she likes. Ooh, you like horror movies? Well guess what, I like schlocky Italian horror movies! Look how offbeat I am now! Okay, sarcasm aside, everyone knows this kid. The one who tries so hard to be different from everyone else. And just like Juno, it always comes off as an attempt to cover up their actual feelings and desires. But that’s enough pop-psychology for the day. The most understandable aspect to Juno is her desire to grow up so fast, but in doing so she doesn’t realize how much she misses out on. She manages to aide in the separation of a married couple, and dump the one guy who can actually put up with her. Oh yeah, and she’s pregnant, which is always an aspect of high school that is so casually swept under the carpet when it comes to Hollywood movies.

4. Carrie White

High School Girls & Boys - 10 Most Realistic In Movies

The best outcast of them all. While most outcasts are portrayed as being simply misunderstood, Miss Carrie White is seriously f**ked up. Her home life is no doubt the greatest cause for this. She’s not an outcast because she’s ugly, or smells, or chooses to be one, it’s because her entire life she’s been sheltered from many social fires which simply must be walked. This becomes blatantly true when she has no idea what’s happening to her when she gets her first period in the girls shower. Now I’m sure all you doubters out there will go and say, “but she’s telekinetic! That’s not real!” True. But even without certain psychic perks, Carrie White is still grounded in reality by the way DePalma and Spacek so effortlessly capture the idea of an “outcast”.

3. All of Breakfast Club

High School Girls & Boys - 10 Most Realistic In Movies

Generally considered the king of the high school movies. And rightfully so. Finally Molly Ringwald plays a character that is an audience can truly relate to. The movie understood how all the stereotypes work, and then broke them down wonderfully. Every character in the movie has traits that every teenager can relate to and understand. The movie understands something that most high school movies aren’t very aware of, and that is how truly superficial the labels in high school really are. Any preconceptions viewers may have about the “criminal kids” or “jocks” are broken down and reexamined by the end. But I don’t want to get too mushy here, so let’s move on. And yeah, no way in hell could I pick out just one character from this movie, and there’s no bloody way I was going to list every principal cast member.

2. Trip Fontaine

High School Girls & Boys - 10 Most Realistic In Movies

What a sex pot. While not every high school has a kid that walks down the aisle, looking cool with music playing in the background as their heavenly locks rock back and forth, they nonetheless have the sexy guy (or gal) that drives all members of the opposite sex absolutely insane. I still remember how mine looked doing jumping jacks during gym. But The Virgin Suicides also recognized that although these sex fiends may be beaming with confidence to all the world, often times they too have fears of their own. Unfortunately for Trip, his failure to see Lux again indirectly leads to the suicides of all the Lisbon girls. The scars from this are still apparent on him when he’s an adult, he hasn’t ever moved on from that night in the field with Lux. Or something like that. Either way every school has the kid who everyone dreams of taking to bed, even if it’s only for one night.

1. The Cast of Dazed and Confused

High School Girls & Boys - 10 Most Realistic In Movies

Like The Breakfeast Club, I can’t bring myself to single out just one character from this film as being the most likely to actually exist. Even though the high school is from a completely different era than now, all the students seem to be lifted right out of reality instead of jammed in to create what is thought of as the “high school demographic”. Anyone going back and watching the film can find some character that is who they were in high school. But, just like Breakfast Club, it doesn’t rely on stereotypes to help make sense of the chaos associated with teen life. Instead we see students who all know each other, and the clashes aren’t necessarily those of social status or reputation, but simply of personality. The film itself works wonderfully as a pure nostalgia flick, simply because it is so accurate in its portrayal of actual high schoolers, and the escapades they go through to pass the time in a world which doesn’t necessarily understand them.

Dishonorable mention: High School Musical
(What high school is not like)

Who is your all time favorite high school character? Which one were you?

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13 Comments »

  • Sheridan Passell said
    Sheridan Passell

    Sean Penn takes himself so goddamn seriously these days it makes going back and watching Jeff Spicoli even more hilarious.

    I was the nerd out of The Breakfast Club, even dressed the same.

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    • serious person said

      Why don’t you get over Sean’s being so serious?! That’s who he’s like. You can’t change who he is.

      I happen to like other serious people because I can relate to them better than funny people. But it seems to me that you’re biased against serious folks. Well, how would you like it others are prejudiced against you?

      If I’m you, I’d leave serious people alone.

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      • Robert said

        It’s not that Sean Penn is in serious films that makes Spicoli hilarious. It’s how seriously he takes himself. He can’t take a joke and he can’t laugh at himself. An example of this was when Trey Parker and Matt Stone had a ton of actors as evil puppets in Team America. George Clooney said he was proud to be in it, as did Alec Baldwin (who was the leader of Kim Jong-Il’s anti-American acting team) and Matt Damon (who was retarded). Instead of just making fun of himself Sean Penn sent them a letter that concluded with “f*ck you”.

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  • Bliss F. said

    Sandy from Grease you didn’t even mention her. I relate to her cause I’m the sheltered innocent one.

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  • Anthony said

    What about “Stifler”….everyone can sit back and remember that one guy from school that was just like “Stifler”, even the whole cast of “American Pie” would fit right into this TOP 10. Good list though, I know there isnt room for everyone.

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  • amanda said

    Bluto from Animal House (ok it’s a college movie!)
    We all went to collage/ university with someone like Bluto. Always drunk, causing trouble, never appearing at class, yet years later is in charge of the countries military budget!

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  • Sam said

    Thank GOD someone hates High School Musical besides me. Those movies give little elementary/middle school tweens a false pretense that their high school years will be filled with random spurts of singing and dancing.

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  • Christine C said

    I know it’s not a movie but the TV show “Freaks and Geeks” was probably the most accurate high school program I ever saw. Could relate to/know someone in my class that was just like those characters. I was crushed when they canceled it.

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  • Deividdo said

    What about Layne from River’s Edge? Crispin Glover had the small-town whiny stoner down to a T!

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  • Mahmoud El-Azzeh said

    Loved Freaks and Geeks. Spot on!

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  • Carrie liker said

    Why are you picking on Carrie? I feel sorry for her because she’s like me in that was bullied like heck. Shame on you for typing junk about that girl. I may not agree with her. But I can relate to her.

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    • Carrie liker said

      I forgot to put “everything about” between “with” and “her”. My apologies.

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  • Lawliet said

    I have in my entire life been a little bit like Carrie, because of my personality, odd interests and the fact that I will always be different because of my Asperger’s diagnose. I have been bullied constantly since 4th grade as well, and it has resulted in that I have turned into a painfully shy person who can’t show my true feelings. I’m constantly teased by members of my family as well, but it’s my brother’s that insult me instead, and not my mother.

    I’m also a little bit like Juno, as I am trying to be myself, but it constantly fails all the time because my parents say otherwise. Or well, they are proud over that I am myself, but they don’t want me to dress up like how I want to. Or, well, my stepfather won’t let me atleast.

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