Created By: ostronaut on September 16, 2012

Mr. Student

When a teacher only refers to his/her students by their last name.

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While in real life, teachers normally use their students' first names, in fiction, they invariably only refer to them as Mr./Ms. Last Name. Particularly evident in high school settings, where all students are inattentive slackers and all teachers are condescending pricks who love nothing more than throwing everyone into detention.
Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • September 16, 2012
    • In To Sir, With Love, the teacher, going to straighten out his class, insisted that all male students would be Lastname, and all female ones Miss Lastname. One boy made the mistake of asking why they can't go on calling the girls by their first names when they knew them from childhood. The teacher asks him if he deems any of them unworthy of being called "Miss." The girls, without a word, make the correct answer clear, and he says no, of course not.
  • September 16, 2012
    You're American? This is just normal British protocol, not a trope. American teachers refer to their students by first name but that would be considered impolite in Britain in most situations. Even when its someone who's not from the British Empire, it's generally because they're trying to be posh by sounding British.
  • September 16, 2012
    Same with Japan. It's considered impolite to refer to somebody by their first name unless you're very familiar with them. Naturally, this extends to students and teachers.
  • September 16, 2012
    @Star Valkyrie: Actually that hasn't been the case for years (my teachers never addressed anyone by their surname in my entire academic career, and I finished university a year ago). It might still be the case in public (what Americans would call private) schools though, they tend to me a bit more old fashioned and formal.

    Note that in The Bash Street Kids, none of the characters are addressed by their surnames by Teacher or any other students with the exception of teacher's pet Cuthbert.
  • September 16, 2012
    Might I suggest that Values Dissonance be specifically referenced in the introduction along with an explanation of what this trope means according to the country the work takes place or was produced/published in?
  • September 16, 2012
    Has anyone checked Last Name Basis?
  • September 16, 2012
    There are some teachers in America who are more comfortable using surnames, but at the high school level it can also be done sarcastically. Like Spicoli in Fast Times At Ridgemont High.
  • September 16, 2012
    Or in the same way a parent might use a Full Name Ultimatum: to reprimand one's younger charge and assert authority over him or her.
  • September 16, 2012
    this seems like a case of Troper provincialism and perhaps a bit of different chairs for different countries, for example, this Mexican trooper can attest that here teachers calling students by their first names is more the rule than the exception, with the last names used only when the theachers that are either formal all the time or that want to be jokingly serious...or when the student actions/attitude may end up on a serious punishment, but in general it would simply be how different countries have different formality protocols and they are simply traspassed to the media without any second though, as (for them) those actions/events don't carry any kind of characterization, not tropeworthy in my opinion
  • September 16, 2012
    In the US it can also mean that the teacher will be treating the student as if he/she were an adult, with all that entails. This could be quite jarring to a student used to being treated as, and reacting as, a kid. Kind of like Maam Shock.

    • On Bones Brennan refers to her doctoral candidate "squinterns" as Mr. or Ms to emphasize the fact that they have yet to acheive their doctorates. Except Dr. Edison, who has acheived the rank of Doctor, and yet is still a squintern (for some reason).
  • September 17, 2012
    It's common for coaches to call their students by their last names, as well. It's very much by the discretion of the teacher, since some of them are coaches, and maintain this habit.
  • September 17, 2012
    ^I think coaches do it because their last names are on their jerseys so it's easy to remember.

    Personally, I had only one teacher refer to me by last name, even though he was OK with me using his first name. (It was college, where a lot of the formalities drop.) I found out it was because his wife had the same first name as me and he felt weird calling anyone else that.

    OK, fictional examples!

    • Ferris Buellers Day Off gives us the famous quote "Bueller? Bueller?"
    • Played with in the Harry Potter series. Most teachers use last names with students(as per British protocol), but Dumbledore almost always calls Harry by his first name, using either first or last name with other students, depending on his mood.
  • September 17, 2012
    I think this used to be more common in American schools than it is now. It seems to happen in comic strips a lot and I kind of always assumed the writers were probably just a little bit behind the times. In Fox Trot, for example, Peter and Paige's teachers tend to call them "Mr. Fox" and "Miss Fox" (although I think they've also used their first names on occasion). Jason is always called "Jason" by his teacher, but he's in elementary school.
  • September 21, 2012
    In the 1968 film Candy Candy's teacher calls her Miss Christian. And insists that she call him Mr. Christian instead of "Daddy."
  • September 21, 2012
    Mr. Raditch from Degrassi Junior High called Joey Mr. Jeremiah.

    Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World called several of the main characters (Cory, Eric, Shawn) by their last names.

    In both cases, the teacher was annoyed with the student a lot but was also genuinely fond of him.
  • September 21, 2012
    Harry Potter: The teachers all address students by last name, although Snape always sounds like he's doing it to deliberately put them ill at ease. "Potter!" is a common exclamation.
  • September 22, 2012
    We may need to separate usages of "Mr./Ms. Last Name" from "Last Name." On a technical level these are two different tropes.