Pupils in a school setting generally advance up in Years or Grades as they age up and each new year they expand upon the knowledge they should already know. However sometimes the student in question is forced to remain in their current year while all their peers advance to the next stage. Maybe they're [[SchoolIsForLosers too cool for school]] and they don't work hard. Possibly, they may have been more than mentally capable but have had to repeat due to health issues. Or maybe the sad truth is that it really was the best they could do; but they just can't memorize all 50 states of the [=USA=]. Either way he gets forced to repeat the year/grade with people younger than themselves. This is TruthInTelevision.

In media its highly likely that the character which is held back is to be TheBully, thus giving them a physical edge on their classmates. Conversely girls are rarely held back, enforcing the idea that [[HigherEducationIsForWomen girls perform better at school]].

There is an additional more extreme version of this where a character is forced to retake multiple years all at once; a 10 year-old being forced back to Kindergarten to relearn the alphabet. Or forcing one character to perpetually retake their current grade ending up with a 15 year-old learning about the RomanEmpire with 8 year-olds.

Not to be confused with BackToSchool; which is about adults returning to school. Or with DawsonCasting, which is where everybody just looks like they've been held back.

Contrast GradeSkipper.
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!!Examples:

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[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]
* Tomoe from ''Manga/SasamekiKoto'' had to skip a year in order to save her family's company from bankruptcy (yeah, she is a TeenGenius, alright), so she is basically one year older than the rest of the cast.
* Tomoya and Nagisa from ''VisualNovel/{{Clannad}}'' wouldn't have even ''met'' if they weren't held back at school. Tomoya had to repeat his last year for delinquency, while the two-year-older Nagisa repeated hers ''twice'' for [[IllGirl ill-related]] inassistance.
* Millay Ashford in ''Anime/CodeGeass'' deliberately held herself a back a year so she could be with her friends longer. She was unwilling to leave home and join the real world.
* In ''[[Manga/{{Sunadokei}} Sand Chronicles]]'' after disappearing for a few months, Fuji comes back to school...and has to repeat the year.
* In ''Manga/HighSchoolOfTheDead'', it's mentioned that Rei Miyamoto was held back for a year, which is implied to be one of the reasons she and Takashi grew apart. It is later revealed that [[spoiler: Shidou altered her grades to threaten her father, a police officer who was investigating Shidou's father for political corruption.]]
* In ''Manga/PopcornAvatar'', Kurando's sister Mafuyu is still in second year middle school due to her accident and the resulting rehab, despite being the same age as he is.
* Kaoru Orihara from OniisamaE should be a second-year, but is in Nanako and Mariko's first year class due to having been ill last year. [[spoiler: Said illness is cancer, and it comes back later.]]
* In ''PeachGirl'' Sae is held back a year and unable to graduate from high school. However despite this she pretends to be a college girl to hide it from her friends.
* Kei Yoshikawa in ''TheDayOfRevolution'' left school partway through his freshman year when a minor health crisis revealed he was genetically female. Six months of medical treatments later Kei returns to repeat Freshman year as a girl hoping that pronouncing her name [[AlternativeCharacterInterpretation Megumi]] will prevent her old crowd from noticing her resemblance to their missing friend Kei.
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[[folder: Comic Books ]]
* One ''Francise/ArchieComics'' story had Jughead discovering he had never graduated grade school, having been out sick the entire last week. He took a make-up test to prove he deserved to be in high school, and the last panel showed him back in grade school, having to repeat the sixth grade.
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[[folder: Film ]]
* Creator/BenAffleck's Fred O'Bannion, from ''Film/DazedAndConfused''.
* Josh Hartnett's Zeke Tyler, from ''Film/TheFaculty''.
* In ''Film/ScoobyDooTheMysteryBegins'' Shaggy reluctantly admits that he was held back, twice, when the others in the teenage Mystery Gang ask how he has a driver's license already.
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[[folder: Literature ]]
* Marcus Flint from the ''Literature/HarryPotter'' series had to repeat his seventh year per WordOfGod.
* This happening to Shogo Kawada is the reason he had to participate in ''Literature/BattleRoyale's'' Program not once, but twice.
* During the ''BabySittersClub'' series, [[BookDumb Claudia]] ends up getting demoted from eighth to seventh grade.
* In Edmondo D'Amici's ''Heart'', GentleGiant Garrone was held back two years after being seriously ill.
* A children's book named "The Flunking of Joshua T Bates" has the main character repeat the third grade because he can't catch up with his reading. It shows that [[KidsAreCruel he gets relentlessly taunted by his peers]], but he manages to get through the year thanks to a sympathetic teacher. Both aspects are startlingly (and heartwarmingly) realistic.
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[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* Oz from ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' is the "highest scoring person ever to fail to graduate". He got held back because he had several incompletes and didn't go to summer school for to make up for them.
* James Franco's Daniel Desario, from ''FreaksAndGeeks''.
* In the ''Series/RedDwarf'' episode "Dimension Jump", we are led to believe that Ace Rimmer progressed normally at school while Rimmer was held back. However, it's revealed that the opposite is true: Ace was held back, which made him work harder at life.
* In order to keep the some of the cast still in high school past graduation, ''[[Series/{{Degrassi}} Degrassi: The Next Generation]]'' held a few students back. Spinner ended up repeating his junior year, due to his expulsion regarding the school shooting and zero tolerance for bullying. Jimmy missed too many days due to his rehabilitation after being paralyzed in said shooting and had to repeat his senior year. Alex graduated, but then came back for a "Victory Lap" in order to boost her grades for university.
** In the original series, Rick was repeating seventh grade in the first season, and Joey Jeremiah was held back in eighth because he barely passed, and his parents and Mr. Raditch thought he should retake the year so he could start high school on the academic rather than the vocational track.
* Kelso on ''Series/That70sShow'' was held back as a kid and kept it secret out of shame. It fits the role of Kelso as the group's resident idiot, and he takes some shots at him when they hear it. The main joke however is that he was old enough to legally buy beer for them and told nobody.
* On ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment'' this has happened to Steve Holt three times. There's a FreezeFrameBonus when his various yearbooks are shown and his most recent quote is "study hard guys - trust me"
* In an episode of ''Series/EverybodyLovesRaymond'', Ray and Debra are debating whether or not to hold the twins back a year in school. This leads to a shocking revelation for Raymond: his mother made him repeat a grade in preschool, not for academic reasons, but because she enjoyed walking him to school.
* In ''Series/KingOfQueens'', Doug's parents admit to him that he had to repeat kindergarten. At the time they had told him it was "Super Kindergarten".
* In ''Series/LizzieMcGuire'', [[AlphaBitch Kate]] confides to her [[GirlPosse best friend]], [[BetaBitch Claire Miller]], that she got held back when she was in Kindergarten. When Lizzie and her friends find out, Lizzie's [[GreekChorus animated alter ego]] incredulously wonders how that's even possible ("What'd she do? Fail naptime?"). This gets a ContinuityNod later on, when Kate sheepishly admits to being a year older than the other kids in her grade.
* In the ''Series/{{Community}}'' episode 'Mixology Certification', Troy was revealed to have repeated fifth grade:
--> '''Troy:''' Everyone is ten for two years, because fifth grade is hard for every... one... Mom! How many lies have I been living!
* Rerun on ''WhatsHappening'' has been held back a couple of times. In fact he got the nickname Rerun because he has to repeat in the summer what he didn't learn in the winter. At one point in the series he has the chance to pass and finally graduate but he's afraid to even take the test despite studying hard for it because he's not sure what he can do beyond high school.
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[[folder: Visual Novels]]
* Yasuhiro Hagakure from VisualNovel/DanganRonpa, who was held back atleast two years. He's a bit... [[CloudCuckooLander off.]]
* Emi Ibarazaki from VisualNovel/KatawaShoujo. She's one year older than Hisao and the other girls; considering that she lost her legs [[spoiler: and her father]] in an accident and spent at least year in full rehabilitation, it's fully understandable.
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[[folder: Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheBlackDog'' Julia King had to repeat a year, [[http://orderoftheblackdog.com/comic.php?pid=20100213 which causes her classmate Melissa some confusion]]. Though her cast profile indicates it was due to her problems with authority, she's an Astrophysics major and gets an internship at the space center.
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[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** The episode "Bart Gets An F" revolves around Bart attempting to avoid this.
** Another episode had Lisa promoted from 2nd grade to the 3rd, and Bart demoted from the 4th to the 3rd.
* Binky on ''WesternAnimation/{{Arthur}}'' is in his 2nd year of 3rd grade.
** Buster is (sometimes) scared that he'll be held back.
** Also on ''Arthur'' Brain's deep dark secret is that he was held back in kindergarten.
* Francis the bully on ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddparents'' comes to mind at once.
* Sheen, the sidekick in ''[[WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfJimmyNeutronBoyGenius Jimmy Neutron]]'', may also have been held back (or in danger of same).
** It was stated in the episode "Jet Fusion" that he had already been held back twice.
** According to his Nick.com character bio, Nick was held back at least once due to his constant tardiness.
* In the GrandFinale of the Nickelodeon version of ''WesternAnimation/{{Doug}}'', Roger tells Doug that he's been in sixth grade for three years due to being scared of the big change it would entail.
* Kevin in ''WesternAnimation/{{Daria}}'' was held back in High School.
* [[AlphaBitch Bonnie]] from ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' had to take summer school to graduate as she skipped the last week of school which consisted of several pop quizzes.
* Trina Riffin from ''WesternAnimation/{{Grojband}}'' has been held back for three years, despite her intelligence.
* Harold in WesternAnimation/HeyArnold is said to be 13 years old and been held back. It's never stated how many years but can be implied to be four years.
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[[folder: Extreme Examples ]]


[[folder: Film]]
* Micah in ''EasyA'' is repeating his senior year of high school for the fourth time. This becomes a plot point of some note later in the film.
* Timmy does this deliberately in ''Film/AFairlyOddMovieGrowUpTimmyTurner'' as a way so he can keep his fairies since if she still acts childish, then he won't have to lose them ([[spoiler:That is until the PowerOfLove begged to differ)]]. He still in his current grade but is ''23 years old''. Though for real life reasons, it was way to get a actor to play the role without worrying about him growing if they decide to do a sequel (which they did).
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[[folder: Literature ]]
* Lavan in ''[[HeraldsOfValdemar Brightly Burning]]'' not technically being dropped back a few grades, because it's implied he was home-schooled before being sent to the BoardingSchoolOfHorrors. But he ''is'' placed with much younger students based on his prior education.
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[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* In ''Series/PhilOfTheFuture'' Phil is sent back to second grade to gain legible handwriting, because by the time the Diffy family came from, handwriting is essentially obsolete.
* A non-literal example with Johnny in ''Series/TwinPeaks'' who is described as being a 27 year-old who's still in third-grade. It's clear however that Johnny has mental issues and he was being privately tutored by Laura Palmer.
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[[folder: Video Games]]
* It's implied in the vid comics for ''VideoGame/RatchetAndClankUpYourArsenal'' that [[{{TheDitz}} Captain Qwark]] had been held back in 9th grade. And he was still there at age '''26''', when he served as TheBully to a 15-year-old [[{{BigBad}} Dr. Nefarious]], apparently causing the latter's StartOfDarkness.
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[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheEmperorsNewSchool'' It was discovered that Kuzco did not complete his requirements for Kuzcogarten, and he was sent back there to complete them.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** When Sideshow Bob was elected mayor, Bart was demoted to Kindergarten as revenge for getting him sent to prison in the first place.
** Kearny is actually an adult in elementary school. In real life he would have gotten a social promotion, but you know RuleOfFunny.
** In the episode "Bart Gets an F," Bart has an ImagineSpot of him in his 30's or 40's, still in 4th grade alongside [[GenerationXerox Bart Jr.]]
** In the episode "You Only Move Twice," Bart attends the school in the planned community the family has moved to. Since he comes from a decidedly SuckySchool, he is placed in the "Leg Up" program, which is supposed to be a remedial class, but comes across more as either a special ed class or a kindergarten class, or a [[BreadEggsBreadedEggs special ed kindergarten class.]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/MyLifeAsATeenageRobot'', Jenny is sent to kindergarten because despite being, well, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin a teenage robot]], she has only been built for five years.
* In an unknown {{Popeye}} Cartoon, Olive Oyl refuses to date Popeye unless he can get an "edumacation". He first starts out in the eighth grade but bungles so many times that he eventually gets demoted all the way to Kindergarten. He needed to eat spinach to have the courage to spell "cat". In the end, he impressed Olive by telling her he [[ExactWords went through all grades]] [[WillNotTellALie in one day]].
* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'': In one episode, Peter Griffin encounters an angry bear while on a hunting trip with his son, and his life flashes before his eyes. Twice, Peter sees himself being told by the principal that he'll have to repeat 4th grade, then his final memory before catching up with the present:
-->'''Principal:''' Congratulation Peter, you finally passed the fourth grade!
-->'''Peter:''' That's great, but I gotta leave for a hunting trip with my son.
** In another episode, Peter Griffin has to repeat the 3rd grade in order to receive a promotion.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic:'' In [[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS2E3LessonZero "Lesson Zero"]], Twilight Sparkle (who panics and assumes the worst consequences any time the possibility of failing Princess Celestia comes up) becomes convinced that, if she's tardy in sending her weekly letter to Celestia, she'll be sent all the way back to Magic Kindergarten.
* ''WesternAnimation/HeyArnold'' had Torvald, a boy who had been held back in fourth grade for several years.
** Also Harold being held back in fourth grade for several years.
* An episode of BeavisAndButthead called "Held Back" had the boys be continuously demoted due both to stupidity and poor social skills. They end up back in high school because the Kindergarten teacher refuses to put up with them any longer.
* More ''WesternAnimation/{{Arthur}}'': Buster was once so afraid of being held back, he had a dream that he'd been held back for so long, Arthur had become the principal while Buster was still a student, and was offering to send him back to preschool. (In a school where, in reality, the ''other'' 3rd grade classes are practically at that level, anyway.)
* Parodied in the ''WesternAnimation/WhatACartoonShow'' short "Larry and Steve". At one point, Larry mentions that he spent six years in kindergarten, but he insists it wasn't because he was stupid. He simply [[NoExceptYes got his foot stuck in a radiator]].
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