Top 10 Stereotyped Characters in Teen Movies

The queen bee, the band geek, the bully, the class clown, the jock, the cheerleader. You won’t find a teen movie without any of these teen movie stereotypes! Though teen movies are pretty predictable and the plots are never really that unique, it’s the familiar characters such as these that make us love to watch them!

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Top 10 Stereotyped Characters in Teen Movies

It seems like the same cast of characters populates every fictional high school. Welcome to MsMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Stereotyped Characters in Teen Movies.

For this list, we’re looking into the most commonly used stock characters in movies set during high school.

#10: The Band Geek

Band geeks are usually portrayed as lovable nerds whose passion for their instruments makes it impossible for them to ever gain “cool” status. Even worse are the marching band geeks though, who have the added misfortune of wearing truly hideous uniforms. This was once a less common stereotype, but after the 1999 release of American Pie no one will be able to think of band geeks the same way again. Janis Ian famously coined the term “sexually active band geeks” while explaining the different school cliques to Cady in “Mean Girls”, and the stereotype still holds up today.

#9: The Bully

For every high school hero, there’s got to be a bully to act as their foil. No lovable movie lead can make it to senior year without being tormented by some kid with a chip on their shoulder. Bullies are usually portrayed as being big, dumb and mean. Sometimes there is a “head bully” who actually has some wit to them, but they’re likely flanked by some beefy idiotic cronies. Then there’s the particularly barbaric or sadistic bully who is willing to perform heinous acts in order to hurt or humiliate. Bullies are usually male, because bullies of the female sort tend to work under a different banner...

#8: The Girl Next Door

The main love interest in teen movies is often portrayed as the wholesome nice girl that the main guy lusts after. The girl next door is always pretty but doesn’t flaunt it, and probably doesn’t realize just how beautiful she really is. She’s Betty rather than Veronica. She’s usually kind of a tomboy, and can get down with whatever the guys are doing. Sometimes, the leading man has been ogling the girl next door from afar since they were kids. Often, the main character doesn’t realize he’s in love with the girl next door until the very end of the movie.

#7: The Misfit / Outcast

While they’re not quite smart enough to be nerds but definitely not in the popular crowd, this group of kids who just don’t seem to fit in anywhere seems to be in every high school movie. These guys are hard to define, falling somewhere between rebels, losers, and wannabes on the coolness spectrum. Sometimes these characters are the protagonists of the movie, being portrayed as being simply misunderstood. Sometimes they’re the real freaks and weirdoes who wear black lipstick and listen to aggressive music. The moral of the story always ends up being that it doesn’t matter how weird you are are long as you find friends who accept you.

#6: The Class Clown

The class clown will do anything for a laugh, to the great annoyance of every teacher in school. Sometimes this comic relief character is simply desperate for attention, even if it comes to embarrassing themselves in a serious way. Sometimes they’re pulling harmless pranks but sometimes the class clown will make others the butt of their jokes in an unkind fashion. In this case, the class clown can actually overlap with the bully in terms of stereotypes. Either way, the class clown is an essential part of every movie classroom.

#5: The Rebel

He’s got a leather jacket, an aloof attitude and either a beat up muscle car or a sweet motorcycle to ride off on into the sunset. The rebel is way too cool for school and can often be seen cutting class and smoking in the quad. He may have a troubled past but he probably doesn’t want to talk about it. He’s likely a bit of a loner and doesn’t necessarily surround himself with friends. And for reasons known only to them, girls love the rebel, even if it’s to their own detriment.

#4: The Cheerleader

In teen movies, you’d be hard pressed to find a film that doesn’t have a cheerleader as part of the cast of characters. They’re typically very pretty, but of course being part of the popular crowd comes at a price. Cheerleaders are usually portrayed as being straight up evil or at best sweetly naive. They can often be seen bullying nerdy girls or stealing someone’s boyfriend. Often, they are shamed for their sexual promiscuity. Sometimes the cheerleader is a mean girl, while other times she’s part of the popular crowd but really has a heart of gold.

#3: The Geek / Nerd

In the Internet age, strong lines have been drawn between geeks and nerds - but in classic high school movies, people don’t seem to bother differentiating the two. The only thing that matters is that these guys are definitely not in the “in crowd”. Nerds are usually seen as being super smart and excelling in subjects like math and science, while geeks are uncool without the benefits of getting good grades. Geeks are more likely to be seen talking about the latest Star Trek fan theories or discussing the relative merits of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings adaptation, while nerds are breezing their way through physics and calculus.

#2: The Jock

The jock can be portrayed in one of three ways in a typical teen movie. He’s either a dumb jock, a mean jock, or a kind hearted jock. The dumb jock is probably the most common of these stereotypes, with the character being depicted as a brainless oaf who the protagonist easily outwits. The mean jock is a popular bully who uses his power to put down those beneath him. In a subversion of this, we’ve got the kind-hearted jock that takes the time to pay attention to the little guy. Whether they’re dumb, mean or kind, jocks always seem to be part of the popular crowd however.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

The Smart Asian

The Drama Kid

The Foreign Exchange Student

#1: The Queen Bee

No one has exemplified the persona of the queen bee quite as well as Rachel McAdams as the villainous Regina George in “Mean Girls.” As such, the queen bee usually has a loyal band of followers who are often slightly less pretty and a lot lower on the intelligence chart than she is. She might be cheerleader, she almost always comes from a wealthy family, and she’s probably dating the hunkiest jock. The queen bee rules the school and has everyone under her thumb, but in most high school movies, she’ll get her comeuppance by the end of the story.

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