Back To School: Our Favorite TV High Schoolers
From Bayside to West Beverly, television has created hundreds of memorable high schools and high school characters. And while none of our teen years resembled the ones we saw on the small screen, that didn’t make them any less enjoyable — or stop us from wanting to be friends with some of these memorable students. So, without further adieu, MadameNoire takes a look at our favorites fictional high schoolers.
West Philadelphia, born and raised, Will Smith made us laugh for years on the hit “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” And while the show would follow the cast well into adult life, it was Smith’s high school antics alongside cousin Carlton Banks that made us come to love the show.
Anyone who says that A.C. Slater wasn’t topping their crush list back in the day is a dirty, dirty liar. While Mario Lopez would only get better (much better) with age, his time in the halls of Bayside High made our teenage hearts go pitter patter. Sure, there were some chauvinist tendencies there, but with a perfect foil in on-screen girlfriend Jesse Spano (Elizabeth Berkley), he was thoroughly kept in check.
Fellow Baysider Lisa Turtle also has to be counted among our favorite television high schoolers. With a fabulous fashion sense and a penchant for snappy one-liners, Turtle (played by Lark Voorhies) was the girl we all wanted to be friends with, but most importantly, go shopping with. Though Voorhies has faced trouble off-screen in recent years, we will always remember her fondly from her days on “Saved By The Bell.”
While she had one of the more unconventional high school experiences on the list, Buffy Summers was the ass-kicking, vampire-slaying best friend we all wished we had if we were unfortunate enough to be enrolled in Sunnydale High. Sarah Michelle Gellar played the role perfectly and became a surprising feminist/girl-power kind of icon for a generation of young women.
Yummy Brandon Walsh, played by Jason Priestley, was destined to be one of the greatest high school hotties to hit television. But what made us really fall for Walsh during his West Beverly days was certainly his kind heart and good boy tendencies. Though he would break a few hearts along the way on “90210”, he still was a stand-up character that we loved.
That same sentiment wasn’t as true for his on-screen sister, Brenda Walsh. The character that viewers loved to hate, Walsh was whiny, self-centered and constantly stirring the pot. Shannen Doherty played the role perfectly, an instance where we’re sure real-life tendencies helped to convey those on-screen as well.
Pretty Little Liars
Our current-day guilty pleasure, “Pretty Little Liars” is chock-full of drama, intrigue, love, backstabbing … and utterly fabulous outfits. Each of the liars, be it Emily Fields, Aria Montgomery, Spencer Hastings, Hannah Marin or Alison DiLaurentis, brings something fresh to the table, leaving us no choice but to honor the entire lot. While the majority of storylines are pretty outrageous, that hasn’t stopped us from being avid viewers. Sure, most of us are more than a decade out of the hallowed halls of high school, but that doesn’t mean we can’t getting into a teen drama every once in a while.
For years, “Glee” has provided us with a refreshing lot of very talented young performers. But one of the most memorable of the bunch has got to be Amber Riley’s Mercedes Jones. While her storylines may not have been the most captivating, her vocals pick up that slack. With powerful performances of such songs as “Proud Mary” and “Ain’t No Way,” Jones has dazzled us with her talent and periodic bursts of diva-ness.
“Moesha” may not have been revolutionary television, but it found a soft spot in our hearts. Starring a young Brandy Norwood, the comedy was largely uneventful, but Moesha was just a character you couldn’t help but like. And seeing as she was one of only a handful of high school characters of color on television at the time, it was truly refreshing to see a different perspective.
Couldn’t help but include this Cosby kid who is often overlooked in the annals of awesome television high schoolers. While she didn’t have the dramatic, unbelievable storylines that some of her fellow students on this list had, she was relatable, down-to-earth and a refreshing normal model of high school.
There are two kinds of people in this world: People who love “Gilmore Girls” and people who don’t know they love “Gilmore Girls.” The early 2000s drama was a CW staple and introduced us to one of the most likable high schoolers ever. Rory Gilmore was smart, pretty, grounded and most importantly genuine. While she had her fair share of drama when it came to matters of the heart, she was still one hell of a lovable character … with a great taste in guys.
Who couldn’t help but fall for his lovable dweeb? With his scraggly hair and off-beat personality, he was the perfect foil to teen heartthrob Ryan Atwood on “The O.C.”
The apple of Steve Urkel’s eye, Laura Winslow is another largely overlooked high school favorite. Relateable and likable, Winslow is still one of our favorite teen characters even more than 15 years after the show wrapped.
Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence
Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence = cutest teen couple ever! No way we could exclude them from our list.