Film: High School Musical
A Disney Channel Original Movie
which has become phenomenally popular, especially with tween girls. Among others
Basically it is a Musical
set in a High School
about the people trying out for their High School Musical
and School Teams. With a Boy Meets Girl
plot and an Alpha Bitchy
antagonist. Lather, rinse
This movie spawned two sequels, one of which was released theatrically (making history as a movie franchise that started on TV and getting enough cred to be allowed to go to theaters), and a spinoff
movie, titled Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure
starring, of course, Ashley Tisdale
as Sharpay. The pilot for a Glee-esque spinoff
TV show, Madison High
, where Mrs. Darbus relocates from East High to teach at a new high school, was filmed but not picked up.
The franchise also has Spiritual Successors
: The major one being Camp Rock
, the minor ones being Starstruck
and Lemonade Mouth
. It also has another major spiritual successor that also mashes it up with 60s beach/surfer movies
: Teen Beach Movie
This film provides examples of:
- Academic Alpha Bitch: Taylor McKessie is the president of the science club at East High and a member of the school's national decathlon team. She wants Gabriella to join the team to beat their rivals in West High and be involved in nothing else.
- Adorkable: Troy and Chad during the entirety of 'The Boys Are Back'. Troy sneaking away to the auditions and attempting to "flirt" with Gabriella note also qualify.
- Aerith and Bob: Sharpay and Ryan.
- Aesop Amnesia: Sharpay suffers from this, having apparently seen the error of her ways at the end of the film, only to become nasty again at the beginning of the next one. Repeat, twice.
- Her Aesop in the first movie is basically due to a few lines inexplicably wishing Gabriella luck as the lead while the entire third act of the second contains her Aesop, only to be thrown out by the third.
- Alpha Bitch: Zigzagged with Sharpay. She's a selfish Rich Bitch who often uses her money and connection to steal Troy from Gabriella, and tries to sabotage their duet performance. However, she doesn't seem to have any friends — Ryan's the only one who hangs out with her (and even he switches over to the wildcats side in #2), and way the basketball team talks about her, she actually comes across as incredibly unpopular. On the other hand, the "What Time Is It" song, performed at the beginning of the second film, shows her as a very popular girl with a lot of adoring fans (other students) wanting her signature in their yearbooks.
- Ambiguously Gay: Ryan, in the stage version. There, when all the other boys have pictures of girls in their locker, he has other boys. And then, of course, there's the part where he swoons when Troy walks by him.
- Ambition Is Evil: Many of Sharpay's Villain Songs play up her ambitions as a major trait of her character. In order, we have "Bop to the Top", "Fabulous" and "I Want it All". The titles should all be dead giveaways, though.
- All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Averted. There aren't any major cheerleader characters until #3, and even then, the only reference we get to a date with a cheerleader (in this case, Jason wanting to date Martha, the hip-hop loving nerd) is in a deleted scene.
- Almost Kiss: Troy and Gabriella at the end of the first film before the Crowd Song, and then in the entire second movie.
- Angry Black Man: Chad seems to exist largely for the purpose of angrily over-reacting to things.
- Appeal to Obscurity:
Chad: Have you ever seen Michael Crawford on a cereal box?
Troy: Who's Michael Crawford?
Chad: Exactly my point!
- As for the question, how does Chad know who Michael Crawford is? Handwaved by having Chad explain that his mom put his picture in their fridge.
- Artifact Title: The second movie, where the characters spend all of ten minutes in a High School. The rest of the movie has them on vacation.
- Ascended Extra: Martha is BFFs with the main cast in the second and third movies.
- Award Bait Softer And Slower Cover: We're All in This Together (Graduation Version) from the third film.
- "What I've Been Looking For (Reprise)"
- Beta Couple: Chad and Taylor, who go through a lot less drama than Troy and Gabriella. Subverted in that its implied they break up, albeit amicably, at the end of the third film, while Troy and Gabriella stay together.
- Be Yourself: Shocker!
- Bigger Is Better: And better, is bigger, a little bit is never enough!
- Big Fancy House: Sharpay and Ryan's mansion shown in Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure.
- Big Man on Campus: Troy. Not that he's always happy about it.
- Billy Elliot Plot: How the above message manifests itself, especially with Troy.
- Birds of a Feather: Ryan and Kelsi in the third film, who bond over composing and choreographing the musical together, are two of the sweetest, most easy-going characters, and were previously bullied by Sharpay.
- Black and Nerdy: Taylor. Chad averts this, due to him being a Jerk Jock.
- Black Best Friend: Chad, Zeke and Taylor.
- Blondes Are Evil: Sharpay.
- Book Dumb: Chad and Jason, especially the latter. When Mrs. D was announcing the seniors' graduation, she could only say, "Congratulations. You pass," — in contrast to the list of impressive universities the others are heading off to.
- Breakout Character: Sharpay. Hell, she and Ryan got their own spinoff movie!
- Brother-Sister Team: Sharpay and Ryan are twins who frequently perform duets together.
- Bully Hunter: Troy and Gabriella. Troy in #1 encourages Kelsi to stand up to Sharpay, and in #2 Gabriella takes it even further when she outright confronts Sharpay and warns her to stop hurting the other wildcats.
- Camp Straight: Ryan, in the movies. He frequently takes part in Sharpay's drama queen antics, often wears pink, and gets several Ho Yay moments with both Troy and Chad. However, he flirts with Gabriella in the second movie, and ended up with Kelsi in the third.
- Character Development: A surprising amount: Troy starts making his own decisions rather than pleasing everyone else, Gabriella becomes more outgoing and makes some real friends, Taylor and Chad both loosen up, Kelsi learns to be more confident and Ryan steps out of Sharpay's shadow.
- Even the teachers get on it, with Ms Darbus going from Sadistic Teacher to Cool Teacher, and Jack Bolton seeing Troy as his son rather than a basketball star.
- The Cheerleader: A mild version, but yet a scene in the first movie depicts cheerleaders as shallow, concerned only on having strong fingernails and guy's looks. (Or at least, depicts the perception Taylor has of them.)
- Childhood Friends: Troy and Chad who have known each other since kindergarten.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Sharpay, who repeatedly thinks up plans to get Troy away from Gabriella and to become her boyfriend. In every movie. Over and over.
- Comically Missing the Point: Jack Bolton, when Troy tries to confide in him about auditioning for the musical, just thinks he's talking about basketball maneuvers.
Troy: "Dad, did you ever think about trying something new, but were afraid of what your friends might think?"
Coach Bolton: "You mean like, going left? You're doing fine. Come on."
- Comical Overreacting: So many times, especially in the first film. Chad is a walking-talking version all on his own and 'Stick to the Status Quo' is a whole song of over-reactions.
- Commonality Connection: The apparently opposite Troy and Gabriella, bond over the pressure they're both under, and having to live up to their friend's expectations all the time.
- Chad and Taylor are not happy about this, which leads to their own Commonality Connection as they plot to separate Troy and Gabriella and stop from singing together.
- The Confidant: Gabriella is one for Troy throughout the three movies as the only one who knows his worries about singing and college choices.
- Continuity Nod: Is the only way to explain how Sharpay forgets the date of the Big Game in #3—it's an in-joke referencing her first line in #1.
- Cool Teacher: Ms Darbus upgrades to this in the third.
- Corrupt the Cutie: This was very nearly the entire plot of all three movies. #2 especially had Sharpay pulling out all the stops in an attempt to lure Troy away from his buddies, via "Look what I could do for you with all my nifty social connections."
- Counterpoint Duet: The final part of "Gotta Go My Own Way".
- Cultural Rebel: The basis for Zeke and Martha's Establishing Character Moments during "Stick to the Status Quo". In the same sequence we have a skater boy who plays the cello and isn't mentioned again.
- And Troy and Gabriella themselves.
- Daddy's Girl: Sharpay, as seen in the second movie.
- Deadpan Snarker: Ryan of all people develops this in the third movie, mostly when dealing with Sharpay.
Sharpay: "I heard Kelsi is writing something amazing for Troy and Gabriella."
Ryan: "A song most likely."
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Sharpay. In each movie.
- Drama Club: Which Ryan and Sharpay are Co-Presidents of.
- Drama Queen: Sharpay, to the point that this is seen as her main character trait rather than being an Alpha Bitch.
- Duet Bonding: Troy and Gabriella, twice.
- Easily Forgiven: All over the place. We never even see Troy and Gabriella getting angry at Chad and Taylor for their Zany Scheme that devastated both of them. (See also: With Friends Like These...). And it takes less than a scene for Troy and the wildcats to forgive Sharpay for manipulating him and making their lives hell. note
- E = MC Hammer: Of course Gabriella has to be able to do the ridiculously complicated equation on the board in her head. And then the teacher looks at the calculator for maybe two seconds before looking back up...
- Establishing Character Moment: Troy and Gabriella have ones when they both protest about going to the party: Troy is playing basketball with his Dad and Gabriella wants to finish her book alone. Of course the rest of the film is about subverting these impressions by showing they want to be more than the basketball guy and geeky girl.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Sort of justified, however, in that it started out as a Disney TV movie that they didn't expect would be so popular. Had they any inkling, it probably would have been released to theaters. However, the second is an Artifact Title since it takes place during summer vacation.
- Extraverted Nerd: Martha in #2 and 3.
- Fate Drives Us Together: Troy and Gabriella. A stranger pushes them to sing together in Colorado, and then they end up at the same high school, (heck even the same form class), in Albuquerque. Someone up there really wanted them to get parts in that musical.
- Follow the Leader: The success of HSM led to Nickelodeon's blatant ripoff, Spectacular.
- The Succes likely also paved the way for the similar yet different show Glee wich may have never been picked up without the success of Highschool Musical as another musical series Viva Laughlin was canceled after two episodes not long before Glee premiered.
- And in Britain, to ITV's Brittania High.
- Foreign Remake: A Chinese one, with the involvement of Disney.
- Brazilian and Argentinian ones as well, with each having a token "sports-themed song" ... about rugby and soccer.
- Four Girl Ensemble: Sharpay's the sexy one, Kelsi is the innocent, Taylor's the snarker and Gabriella is the mature one.
- Four Philosophy Ensemble:
- The Optimist: Kelsi and later Ryan. (Believes everyone can get along and be happy).
- The Cynic: Chad and Taylor. (Everyone should accept the 'status quo' because it won't change).
- The Realist: Gabriella. (Aware of the challenges but is prepared to rebel).
- The Conflicted: Troy. (Constantly confused and in each movie resolves his issues by becoming the Optimist.)
- The Apathetic: Sharpay (Only concerned with her own agenda).
- Funny Background Event:
- When Troy is being taken out of detention, Ryan is watching...and painting a set ladder in his distraction.
- In the third movie, during Troy and Gabriella's (practice) performance of "Just Wanna Be With You", Chad suddenly enters the set in a clown costume, sending everyone else into peals of laughter while the duet continues.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Quite a surprising bit.
- Give Geeks a Chance: The super-popular Troy is instantly smitten with the (albeit attractive) Gabriella, who reads at parties and is on the scholastic decathlon team. Chad and Taylor also move into this territory.
- Gone Horribly Right: Chad and Taylor's plan to get Troy and Gabriella up to focus on basketball and academics (instead of each other) works perfectly... Until both Troy and Gabriella both become too miserable to focus the championship game or the academic decathlon - exactly what they were trying to avoid happening in the first place, Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
- Grand Finale: Subverted. The end of the third movie seems to end the franchise for good, until you find out about the production of a spinoff movie starring Sharpay.
- Grew a Spine: Kelsi is first introduced as a shy and clumsy pianist who is easily intimidated by Sharpay's antic. By the end of the first movie, she gains enough confidence to play the piano for Gabriella and Troy's late performance, and managed to shut Sharpay up. Ryan, too, also regarding Sharpay. Initially nothing more than Sharpay's sidekick/assistant who obeys her every order, he "rebelled" against her in the second movie, and started hanging out with the Wildcats instead. By the third movie, both Kelsi and Ryan have become independent enough to be given charge of an entire show's music and choreography respectively.
- Happily Married: For all their faults, Ryan and Sharpay's parents are this. Troy's parents also count: In #3 watching them together only makes him more miserable about being separated from Gabriella.
- Heel-Face Revolving Door: Sharpay and Ryan. They seem to become "good" at the end of the first film, then Sharpay is suddenly worse than before in the second film and Ryan just becomes good, then Ryan is back on Sharpay's side in the third film and they both go good again in the end anyway!
- Actually, Ryan seems to have maintained his character development from the second film into the third — he's not portrayed as a villain anymore, and his being "back on Sharpay's side" reads a lot more like a guy who made up with his sister than it does a minion who returned to its master.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Troy and Chad, which is why Chad takes Troy's interest in singing so badly. Gabriella and Taylor to a lesser extent.
- Hidden Depths: Pretty much the whole basis on the movie. You've got the Big Man on Campus and Teen Genius who want to try singing musical theatre, a Lovable Jock who is also a Supreme Chef, a Hollywood Nerd who loves hiphop and a skater who plays the cello. In the second film Ryan also proves to be pretty good at baseball, and Chad at dancing.
- High School: Obviously.
- High School Dance: Subverted in the third movie: There is buildup—so much so that an entire song is devoted to it in the ''Senior Year musical...then Gabriella leaves early. Troy winds up spending Prom Night in California with her (as opposed to the movie's New Mexico setting), and the actual dance is confined to a single Imagine Spot (reprising the song "Can I Have This Dance"). The movie's actual climax is at the musical performance.
- High School Rocks: The final song should give you a clue:
The Best Of Times, so Why Leave Them Behind, why can't the rest of my life
Be Like My, High School Musical,
Who Says We Have To Let It Go?
It's The Best Part We've Ever Known
- High School Sweethearts: Hard to avoid. There's Troy/Gabriella, Chad/Taylor, Kelsi/Jason (in # 1 and 2) and Kelsi/Ryan and Jason/Martha (in #3). Most of the couples are implied to be pretty casual, with Chad even admitting that with him and Taylor going to different colleges, he doesn't plan on taking the girl with him after high school. Troy and Gabriella are the only pair who stick it out after graduation.
- Hollywood Nerd: Every single character who's part of the "brainiac" table is this. Even Kelsi had to hidden under hats and glasses (which she doesn't even need), and she's still very attractive.
- Honey Trap: Ryan, on Sharpay's orders, to Kelsi in the HSM 3.
- Hooked Up Afterwards: Troy and Gabriella. Ironically Chad and Taylor actually get a more conclusive ending and agree to go on a date together.
- Insane Troll Logic: "Look at this! That Gabriella girl just dumped her lunch on me! On purpose! It's all part of their plan to ruin our musical. And Troy and his basketball robots are obviously behind it! Why do you think they auditioned? After all the work you've put into this show... it just doesn't seem right!"
- It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: Ms Darbus natters on about the upcoming "musicale".
- Ivy League for Everyone: Gabriella goes to Stanford, Troy goes to Berkeley, Taylor goes to Yale, Ryan and Kelsi go to Juilliard. For a group of young people whose school work appears to solely consist of singing, their universities are basically a laundry list of very prestigious universities, with the exception of Sharpay and Chad, who settle for the (nonexistent) University of Albuquerque.
- Somewhat justified in Troy's case, since college admissions tend to be more lax when it comes to athletes. And Gabriella is expressly described as a Teen Genius and Taylor is shown to be very intelligent, driven student, so their college acceptances aren't that unrealistic. Ryan and Kelsi make no sense however, as their specializations (choreography and modern composition) aren't even offered at Julliard.
- "I Want" Song: The aptly-named "I Want It All".
- Also "Fabulous" from the second film.
- Jerk Jock: Chad initially, he upgrades to Lovable Jock during the first film.
- Kangaroo Court: A humorous version is used to separate the various social groups.
- Large Ham: Two Words: Zac Efron. Watch Bet On It and you'll see. And Mrs. Darbus of course.
- Last Minute Hookup: Combined with Pair the Spares to an almost ridiculous extent.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "The Start of Something New" sums up a good chunk of the first movie.
- As does 'What I've Been Looking For' and 'Breaking Free'.
- Letting Her Hair Down: Kelsi, at the end.
- Like Brother and Sister: Troy and Kelsi in the second and third movie. Gabriella and Chad also seem to have this dynamic.
- Like Goes with Like: Chad and Taylor are both black. Each one is a best friend of one of the two main characters. They spend time together and go on a date in the first movie, flirt in the second movie, and go to prom together in the third movie.
- Lovable Alpha Bitch: Sharpay by the end of each movie, and all the time in the spin-off film.
- Lovable Jock: Troy, Zeke and Jason. Chad by the end of the first film.
- Love at First Note: Troy and Gabriella in the karaoke competition.
- Male Gaze: See Sharpay's entrance in the third one...
- Maybe Ever After: Troy and Gabriella in the first film. They have an Almost Kiss and their feelings are strongly hinted in the final song, but don't officially get together or admit they like each other. By the second film they've had a Relationship Upgrade and the third film gives them a definitive Happily Ever After as they head off to College together.
- Mean Brit: Tiara.
- Meganekko: Kelsi.
- Melodrama: Oh so much.
- The Moral Substitute/The Mockbuster: Sunday School Musical, made by the fine folks at The Asylum.
- The Musical... again, obviously.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Chad's and Taylor's reaction after their Zany Scheme goes horribly right and ends up screwing things greatly for Troy and Gabriella. They make amends by deciding to support their friends rather than bashing their other hobbies.
- New Transfer Student: Gabriella in the first film.
- Nice Guy / Nice Girl: Troy and Gabriella. Also Kelsi, Zeke, and from the second film onwards, Ryan.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Chad and Taylor's Zany Scheme to con Troy into confessing he doesn't care about the callbacks for the musical, and forcing Gabriella to watch while he does so. Their intent, ostensibly, is to get Troy to focus on the upcoming basketball game, Gabby on the scholastic competition. What ensues is nearly the termination of the One True Pairing.
- Official Couple: Troy and Gabriella.
- Only Sane Man: Troy and Gabriella in the first film as the only two people in the school who think its ok to have more than one hobby. Of course everyone else thinks they're the crazy ones: Just watch 'Stick To The Status Quo'.
- Opposites Attract: Everyone see's Troy and Gabriella - a popular Lovable Jock and shy Teen Genius - as this trope. In reality they're not that different.
- Parental Favoritism: Sharpay is definitely her Dad's favorite. On the flipside Mrs Evan seems to prefer Ryan.
- Teacher Favoritism: Ms Darbus blatantly favors drama club presidents Sharpay and Ryan in the first film, even changing the callbacks to suit them. At the same time she picks on the innocent Troy purely because he's the basketball captain and her rival's son. She gets better in later movies.
- Passing the Torch: In a deleted scene to the third movie's new characters.
- Popularity Food Chain: Played with, the social groups operate in separate spheres rather than on a hierarchy. Each group looks down on the other equally: Sharpay the Alpha Bitch of the drama club, Taylor starts as an Academic Alpha Bitch of the nerds, Chad is a Jerk Jock and dominates the basketball team.
- Psychologist Teacher: Ms Darbus in #3, when she counsels Troy about choosing between basketball and theatre.
- Rage Against the Reflection: During the aforementioned "Bet On It" and part of why it's so dang silly.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Chad and Taylor to Troy and Gabriella.
- Rich Bitch: Sharpay Evans.
- Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Sharpay and Gabriella for Troy in #2, with Sharpay enticing him with her social connections and scholarship opportunities, while Gabriella's working for her at the country club. Naturally Troy is only ever interested in Gabriella, but Sharpay does succeed in breaking them up. (Obviously, it doesn't last long).
- Running Gag: Ms Darbus's vendetta against cell phones and obsession with being on time in #1. Troy and Gabriella's attempts to kiss in #2.
- Sadist Teacher: Ms. Darbus in the first film. By the third film she's upgraded to Cool Teacher and Psychologist Teacher.
- Saw "Star Wars" Twenty-Seven Times: Chad mentions that his mother has seen The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway 27 times.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Troy and Chad. From what's seen of them, Zeke and Jason also qualify.
- Serious Business: The passion and drama put into songs about things like the jock and the genius daring to try out for the musical reach ludicrous levels.
- For example, see "Stick to the Status Quo". "No, no, NOOOOOOOOO!!!" about a basketball player being able to bake, a nerdy girl liking hip-hop, and a skater dude playing the cello indeed.
- School Bullying Is Harmless: Chad's actions definitely play this trope as far as emotional bullying goes, with him leading the entire basketball team in yelling at Troy for daring to sing, and guilting him into insulting Gabriella. note Despite this Troy never gets angry with Chad and only seems to blame himself for breaking, even though he's obviously the victim of intense peer pressure and everything shouldn't be as fine and happy as it turned out.
- Taylor's treatment of Gabriella isn't much better, as she records Troy's stressed response and shows it to Gabriella, (who struggles fitting in, and currently see's Troy as her only real friend), completely devastating her. Like Chad, Taylor's never called out for it, everything turns out fine and she becomes Gabriella's best friend anyway.
- Sexy Shirt Switch: Ryan and Chad. Um, yeah. No other explanation makes sense.
- Show Within a Show: The titular high school musical (which is never really seen, but is apparently called "Twinkle Towne" based off a poster seen behind Troy and Gabriella when the sneak in during Ryan and Sharpay's rehearsal).
- Shrinking Violet: Gabriella and Kelsi, though they both get better.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: Troy and Gabriella have shades of this in #2. By #3 their relationship has matured a bit.
- Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy: Played disturbingly straight with Sharpay's obsession with Troy. She wants him purely because he's - in her words - "East High's Primo Guy" and pursues him relentless for the status he'll give her. No wonder Troy has a complex about being the 'basketball guy'.
- Subverted concerning Gabriella. When they first met, Gabriella had no idea the whole school idolized Troy and a main point of their relationship is not being the stereotypes everyone thinks they are. Her position is actually...
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: She's noticeably more interested after seeing him comfort Kelsi over Sharpay's bullying, and seems put off by his more popular side, particularly when he acts like a jerk to please the basketball team.
Gabriella: "I saw you with Kelsi at the audition yesterday. Do your friends know that guy?"
Troy: "To them I'm the playmaker dude."
Gabriella: "Then they don't know enough about you."
- Shipper on Deck: The wildcats go from actively plotting against Troy and Gabriella to this by the second film. (Well except Sharpay obviously). They even instigate their big reunion in 'Everyday'.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Chad and Taylor.
- Spin-Off: Brazil, Argentina and Mexico all have local HSM movies. They're all based on the first Tales From East High book.
- Stage Dad: Troy's dad.
- Stalking Is Funny If Its Female After Male: In the second film Sharpay anonymously hires Troy to work for her, spies on him almost 24/7, has his manager track his movements, and blackmails him into singing romantic duets with her. All while he's highly uncomfortable and in a serious relationship with Gabriella. While Sharpay's clearly in the wrong, her actions are played as a frivolous teenage crush instead of anything more serious, and most of the blame falls on Troy for not getting rid of her. note
- Star-Crossed Lovers: In the first film played straight, with the whole school seemingly working to separate Troy and Gabriella, (Ok mostly because of the singing thing). After that...Not so much.
- Status Quo Is God: The song called "Stick to the Status Quo" in the first one and many characters have Aesop Amnesia.
- Supreme Chef: ZEKE. Creme brulee...
- Take a Third Option: Troy in the final film he's torn between pursuing basketball at the University of Albuquerque and theatre at Julliard. He picks Berkeley where he can do both, and stay closer to Gabriella.
- The first film also does this, when it looks like Troy and Gabriella have to choose between doing the callbacks or the championship game/decathlon. They manage to delay the game and decathlon so they have time to audition.
- Technician Versus Performer: Ryan and Sharpay versus Troy and Gabriella. Ryan and Sharpay have been singing for years, view star roles as status symbols and audition with professionally choreographed routines and costumes, while Troy and Gabriella just want to sing because it makes them happy, start doing it in secret and audition in their sports uniform and lab coat, winning the crowds because of their commitment to the song. note
- Terrible Interviewees Montage: The first film features one of these as a variety of terrible wanna-be actors try out for the school play. This is supposedly to show how talented Ryan and Sharpay are. However, as their competition are people who can't sing on key, people who forget their lines, people who are creepy, and people who lock up with stage fright, it actually creates the impression that the only reason they keep starring in school plays is because they are the only people who are vaguely competent at acting or singing.
- Title Drop: The third one does it literally.
- Token Minority Couple: The Black Best Friends of the two leads end up paired with each other with no build-up at all.
- Took a Level in Dumbass: Inverted with Ryan, who goes from not being able to spell 'drama club' in #1, to being far more capable in #2 and #3, Including winning a scholarship to Julliard.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Sharpay wasn't nice in the first movie, sure, but the second movie blew her negative qualities up to ridiculous proportions. She's back to a more reasonable level of "evil" in the third.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Chad, Taylor, Ms Darbus and Jack Bolton by the end of the first film and onwards. Ms Darbus in particular goes from refusing to let Troy and Gabriella audition because they're one minute late, to counselling Troy during his break down about his future.
- True Companions: The 'Wildcats', though the main gang is Troy, Gabriella, Chad, Taylor, Kelsi, Zeke, Jason, Martha and sometimes Ryan and Sharpay.
- Tsundere: Sharpay and Taylor has shades of this.
- TV Teens
- Twincest/Brother-Sister Incest: Referenced. Ryan and Sharpay don't mind performing love songs together, but then again, the key word is perform.
- It also helps that the songs are rearranged to downplay the Squick factor; the love song "What I've Been Looking For" is sped up and performed to fit a brother-sister bond, and "Bop to the Top" is clearly addressed to the audience, not each other.
- On the flip side, there's an awful lot of fanfiction out there that pair the two. A few explain it away as Ryan and Sharpay not actually being related, though most keep the relationship intact. Of course, many fics lean towards the angsty, tortured side.
- Unfortunate Names: "Sharpay".
- That the Alpha Bitch has a name that sounds like a kind of dog is possibly a Stealth Pun.
- It's lampshaded in the stage version: in one scene, Sharpay complains about being named after a dog. Ryan says it could've been worse, she could've been named Pug, or Shih Tzu...
- Vanity License Plate: Sharpay's pink car has a plate that says FABULUS.
- Villain Song: The songs themselves aren't really villainous, but Ryan and Sharpay still get the best ones.
- The Wildcats
- With Friends Like These...: Chad and Taylor for Troy and Gabriella in the first film. Chad, who has been Troy's best friend since childhood, starts a bullying campaign against him singing and sabotages his chances with the girl he really likes. Taylor befriends the already shy and insecure Gabriella, just to get her on the scholastic decathlon, and then tricks the guy she likes into hurting her, leaving Gabriella devastated. They do however, redeem themselves in the second half of the film. In the second film, Taylor spends most of her time questioning Gabriella's choice to be with Troy, while Chad only complains about the job Troy got him, specially when Troy gets a promotion and Chad guilt trips him into renouncing.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Gabriella to Troy, though it's 'you are more than you think you are', when she tells him he's not just the basketball guy.
- Zany Scheme: The first movie had three, one of which was a Villainous Zany Scheme with another being a Zany Counterscheme.