Film / Sky High (2005)

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sky-high-poster_6831.jpg
"If life were to suddenly get fair, I doubt it would happen in high school..."

"The kids who get bit by radioactive insects or fall into a vat of toxic waste, their powers usually show up the next day. Or - they die."
Nurse Spex

Best described as a hybrid of X-Men and Harry Potter, this Live-Action Disney flick revolves around Will Stronghold; son of the world's two most famous superheroes, the superstrong Commander (Steve Stronghold) and Jetstream (Josie Stronghold). He is about to start high school at the titular Sky High, a school exclusively for people with superpowers and his parents' alma mater. Between dealing with Girl Next Door Layla (plant controller), son-of-archnemesis Jerk with a Heart of Gold Warren Peace (fireball thrower) and the typical cliques of high school (being either a hero or "Hero Support"), Will must also face the embarrassing fact that, despite his pedigree, he does not seem to have any superpowers. At least not yet...

From the creators of Kim Possible, it features a surprising amount of high-level names, including Michael Angarano as Will Stronghold, Danielle Panabaker as Layla, Kurt Russell as The Commander Steve Stronghold, Lynda "Wonder Woman" Carter as Principal Powers, Bruce Campbell as Coach Boomer, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Gwen Grayson. The film maintains a surprisingly sizable following, despite having generally fallen under the radar. This was also the first Disney-owned superhero movie scored by Michael Giacchino. None of his music was on the album released with the movie, but Intrada finally released his score in 2016.

Surprisingly, as of November 2016, a sequel is in development.

Not to be confused with the seinen manga by Takahashi Tsutomu. Compare PS238.


This film provides examples of:

  • 555: The number on Ron Wilson, Bus Driver's card.
  • Academy of Evil: What Royal Pain plans to turn Sky High into, raising the now infant students and faculty as a generation of supervillains. Although it was already an academy for villains as much as heroes.
  • The Ace: The Commander/Steve Stronghold, much to the annoyance of his son.
  • Acrofatic: Speed, one of the supervillain/bullies, is a Flash-like speedster in spite of being overweight. Having said that, his weight makes him extremely strong when he is at top speed, making him a Lightning Bruiser.
  • Action Dad: Steve Stronghold/The Commander is a superhero father.
  • Action Mom: Josie Stronghold/Jetstream, who has the ability to fly and help her husband defeat enemies.
  • Adorkable:
    • Will doofs his way through the vast majority of the film, and even in the final showdown it's abundantly clear he's no fighter and is improvising pretty much everything.
    • Ethan has pretty much every nerd cliche in the book as part of his repertoire, and he's downright adorable for it.
  • Adults Are Useless: Steve and Josie are the only competent heroes shown in work, but are taken down in seconds by the villain in the finale. Anything worthwhile is done by adolescents (or Ron Wilson, Bus Driver). Even the villains are all young. Sort of. (Except Stitches, but he's basically controlled by Royal Pain anyway.)
  • Affectionate Parody: The film is fond of pointing out the more ridiculous tropes in both the superhero and high school drama genres, which it typically accomplishes by using them straight but to an over-the-top degree. For example, the Commander has an entire drawer full of identical phones for when he pushes the buttons too hard.note 
    • It can also be considered an affectionate parody of the Silver Age Of Comics.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: The main kids escape through one when the bad guys crash Homecoming at the climax.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Averted with Penny. Nobody in the film seems to consider her particularly attractive, at least not in comparison to the more "preppy" Gwen.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Mr. Boy, for Josie. Justified in-story, in that a hero like her could never notice someone in 'Hero Support' - not with the strapping, handsome, charismatic Commander around.
  • Alliterative Name: Gwen Grayson, Steve Stronghold and Barron Battle, as typical of the superhero genre.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: In this school, you're either a hero, or a zero; "Hero Support" = Sidekick = social inferior.
  • Almighty Bus Driver: Ron Wilson, Bus Driver is a highly-trained flying bus driver, and isn't half bad in a fight either.
  • Alpha Bitch: Penny. "Sorry, all full." She's apparently the ''entirety'' of the cheerleading squad, as well.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: "Seems like just yesterday that you two are swimming naked in the kiddie pool."
  • Always Save the Girl: Played straight in Save the Citizen. Warren shouts at Will to "save the citizen" which would win them the game, even when Speed nearly kills Warren by suffocating him. Will decides to save Warren, and then toss him to grab the dummy hostage and win. Warren doesn't thank him but he does mellow later on.
  • Badass Normal: Ron Wilson, Bus Driver! Until the credits, at least.
  • Ball of Light Transformation: The Principal can transform into something similar to a mini-star, it gives her the ability to fly at a very high speed with drastic changes in direction and angle.
  • Battle Trophy: Steve and Josie has an entire section of their base to show off stuff taken from defeated opponents.
  • Batman Gambit: A minor one in the beginning of the film. Will's parents defeat a giant robot terrorizing the city and the Commander takes a part of the robot (its eye) as a trophy. That robot eye is still functioning and being used by Royal Pain (who sent the robot to attack the city in the first place) to secretly spy on the heroes. Royal Pain knew he would do just this ("His ego's bigger than a giant robot") and the reporter says its a habit but if he didn't then plans falls flat, and that would derail the entire Evil Plan.
  • Be the Ball: One girl's superpower is to turn into a big rubber beach ball. The unimpressed Coach Boomer merely kicks her away shouting "SIDE-KICK!".
  • Berserk Button:
    • Don't mention Warren's father.
    • Gwen/Sue Tenny/Royal Pain hates when Stitches calls her "Daddy's little girl".
    • At the climax Will seems to be making some headway into Gwen by means of Politeness Judo... until he makes the mistake of calling her an "old lady" after learning her backstory, forcing him to settle things the old-fashioned way.
  • Betrayal by Inaction: Will's Corrupt the Cutie moment acts as much of this. He stands up Layla by accident at the Paper Lantern when Gwen comes to his house to invite his parents to Homecoming, then starts hanging out with her because Gwen keeps pulling Will away from his sidekick friends. He finally puts his foot down when Gwen uses him to host a party at his house and hurts Layla's feelings.
  • Betty and Veronica: Layla and Gwen, respectively.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Will. When Warren Peace threatens his friends, Will goes from defensive and offensive and discovers his super strength at the same time. He also dumps Gwen when the latter makes Layla cry, and ends up being crucial in the fight against Royal Pain.
    • Layla. She can weaponize plants, people. She just doesn't, usually, unless you strike the first blow. Then, all bets are off.
  • Big Bad: The film's main antagonist is a black-cloaked, deep-voiced individual currently observing the Stronghold family, unbeknownst to them, and with designs on the mysterious "Pacifier" weapon. Or, in other words, not exactly the sort of prson you'd expect to turn out to be the hero's girlfriend, Gwen Grayson.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The brief conversation between Warren's boss yelling at him for slacking and his No, You Lame Comeback is in Cantonese.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Or in this case, Big Bad in sheep's clothing.
  • Black and Nerdy: Ethan.
  • Black Best Friend: Penny to Gwen.
  • Black Cloak: The Big Bad sports one of these until their true identity is revealed at the climax.
  • Boomerang Bigot: The Reveal of Gwen's past makes her coldness toward Layla and indirectly the other sidekicks somewhat perplexing. Whether she genuinely fell for Will, saw something of herself in Layla that she hated, or simply went drunk with popularity isn't particularly well-explored, though the second is slightly implied and the third more obviously expected.
  • Brainy Baby: Professor Medulla when he's regressed to a baby. He's still capable of talking and retains much of his knowledge.
  • Brick Joke:
    • There's an exchange from the first day at school featuring a guy with laser vision executing Male Gaze in a very tangible fashion on a girl with ice powers, who immediately retaliates by freezing him solid. Blink and you'll miss it, but later on in the movie, the main kids admire her handiwork.
    • Early on in the movie, it's mentioned that the only way for kids of superheroes that don't get powers is to fall in a vat of toxic waste. This is mentioned again later. At the end of the movie, Ron Wilson, Bus Driver falls in to a vat of toxic waste and does in fact get super powers. See "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue below.
    • Early during the Homecoming party, Zach asked Magenta for a dance; she turned him down and he went, "Me neither". At the end, she asked him for a dance. He accepts, saying "Me too."
    • Ron Wilson, Bus Driver fights a robot similar to the one Steve and Josie took down at the beginning.
    • During "Save the Citizen", Medulla mentions there used to be a time they used real citizens. During the epilogue, Stitches is said to have become the "citizen" to be rescued and nobody wanted to save him but Will admits he was joking about that.
  • Broken Aesop: Will allegedly breaks down the barriers between heroes and sidekicks...by manifesting awesome hero powers and being transferred to hero class. Though the fact that he remains loyal to the "sidekicks" even after his transfer, (aside from temporarily letting popularity go to his head) might mitigate things slightly.
  • The Call Put Me On Hold: Will. At least until his powers activate.
  • Camp Straight: Mr. Boy is a somewhat effete fellow who talks about topics such as what colors go well with his eyes. He's also still crushing on the prettiest girl in high school after 27 years.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Layla to Will.
  • The Cheerleader: Penny is not just a cheerleader, she's all of them.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • More like Chekhov's Pacifier - technically, it's an actual gun called the Pacifier.
    • The business card of Ron Wilson, Bus Driver.
    • The robot's head.
    • Ron Wilson, Bus Driver taking time to mention the school's anti-gravity device.
  • Chew-Out Fake-Out: Will trashes the school cafeteria, gets into a fight, and uses his powers when he wasn't supposed to. His dad punishes him by telling him no X-Box for a week. Will protests that he doesn't have one...at which point his dad reveals he's so proud of him for having powers that he bought him one.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Will and Layla, though it isn't mutual until the end.
  • Clark Kenting: Parodied with Steve and Josie Stronghold, who both wear thick glasses. While Steve accessories with vaguely 50s-style clothing, Josie just dresses like a normal mom. A normal Hot Librarian mom.
    • Royal Pain serves as a meta-example. Her yearbook picture is Mary Elizabeth Winstead—who plays Gwen—in glasses and poorly done hair. Given that Gwen being Royal Pain is meant to be The Reveal, and Steve explicitly says that he "destroyed" Royal Pain the movie seems to assume that the audience will not recognize Winstead in this picture.
  • Color-Coded Characters:
    • There's a prevalent theme in pairing up characters with complementary color themes. Specifically, Will wears almost exclusively red, white and blue, plant girl Layla wears green, and human glow stick Zach wears neon and white. Justified, in that you would want to play up your powers to impress your classmates. Besides, if your parents are superheroes with similar powers, similar colors would be included in their costumes. Because they like those colors, you would be exposed to them throughout your childhood.
    • More generally, each of the seven main teen characters corresponds to a color of the rainbow: Warren for red, Ethan for orange, Zach for yellow, Layla for green, Will for blue, Magenta for indigo (despite her name), and Gwen for violet.
  • Comedic Sociopathy:
    • Mr. Boy, Boomer, and Medulla partake in this on occasion.
    Boy: "Remember when we used to use REAL citizens?"
    • The cloaked mastermind frequently strangles Stitches when he's being annoying, to which he always replies "Uncle! Uncle!"
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: Poor Zach has this briefly happen to him during the Hero Support quick change lesson.
  • Contralto of Danger: Gwen has a notably deeper voice than the other main girls, so of course she's evil.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Averted. Warren can't use his fire powers while the group is crawling through a ventilation duct because the heat would fry the others.
  • Cool Loser
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Will falls victim to this when he is sorted into the Heroes track and starts going out with Gwen.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster chose some... interesting positions to place the actors in relative to their characters' roles in the film. In particular, Layla is crammed into the back-right corner, and Warren is posed to look as menacing as possible. Subverted, though. Warren is the Red Herring and (while it's reaching) Gwen holds a gun similar in shape to her villainous Weapon of Choice.
  • Crush Filter: Every time Will looks at Gwen, she gets backlit and "True" starts to play.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Royal Pain versus Steve the second time. She just shoots him with the Pacifier to make him regress into being a baby.
    • Layla versus Penny when one of Penny's clones slap her. They lampshade that they thought she was a sidekick.
    • Stitches versus Ron Wilson, Bus Driver. Ron knocks him down with one punch.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Gwen was raised by Stitches to be evil, and she absolutely hates whenever someone, including Stitches himself, points this out. Also a rare instance of the "little villain" rather than the "daddy" being the dominant partner.
  • Dangerous Device Disposal Debacle: The Stronghold family in defeated Royal Pain and took the weapon Royal Pain wielded, The Pacifier, as a new addition to their ever-growing collection of confiscated weapons they keep as trophies even though they don't know what it does. Years later, Royal Pain plots to retrieve the Pacifier by stealing it back from the Strongholds. Royal Pain even uses their tendency to collect trophies by sending giant robot with a big shiny part for them to take. The "trophy" was a camera to allow Royal Pain access to the vault.
  • Dating Catwoman:
    • Warren was the result of superhero and supervillain parents who continue to battle each other.
    • Will and Gwen, though in all fairness Will didn't know that Gwen was evil.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Magenta. She even dryly sings the aforementioned "Rudolph the Red Noise Reindeer" line to tease Zack. And Warren Peace.
  • Death Glare: Mr. Grayson gives Will a pretty epic one upon his first meeting with his daughter's new squeeze, apparently concerned that he's the boy with six arms and that he won't keep them to himself.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Warren as Layla becomes his Morality Pet.
  • Derailing Love Interests: It seems to happen with Gwen late into the film but it's averted when we find out it's actually her facade slipping and her revealing her true character.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Layla vs Penny.
  • Destination Defenestration: At the end of the film, Gwen/Sue Tenny/Royal Pain forces Will out of Sky High's window only for him to use his mother's flying powers to return to the school.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Royal Pain.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Warren tells Will in the climax to go after Gwen since he, Ethan and Layla can handle Penny, Lash and Speed. The latter immediately split up the former in the ensuing fight, not allowing them to work as a team. Having Will there would have turned the tides much sooner.
  • Die or Fly: Royal Pain punches Will off the edge of the school, and thankfully he discovers he can fly.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: "Rules? What rules?"
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Steve. And Will, after he gets his powers. Justified since Will is less experienced than his father.
  • Dragon Their Feet: Kindasorta. Stitches is the last villain standing by the end, and attempts to get away with the age-regressed superheroes, but is almost immediately taken down by none other than Ron Wilson, Bus Driver.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Ron Wilson, Bus Driver.
  • Dutch Angle
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Secret Sanctum.
  • Elaborate University High
  • Eleventh Hour Superpower: At the end, Will gets tossed out one of the school's windows, and then the heredity from his mother manifests itself as flight powers.
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Mr. Medulla as a baby.
  • Enter Stage Window: Will flies back in through the broken gym window after Gwen throws him off the edge of the school during the final battle.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Will dumps Gwen when the latter makes Layla cry and leave Will's house in a rush. Will was head over heels for Gwen and didn't even know the context of her and Layla's altercation, but it doesn't matter - she made his best friend cry, she's gone.
    • Warren is the one who bluntly tells Will that if Layla hates him, then Will must have really screwed up. For Homecoming Warren also shows up in a tux despite promising not to rent one.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Most of the adults went to Sky High at around the same time. The cover of Steve's yearbook indicates they were the class of 1978.
  • Evil Counterpart: Gwen/Sue Tenny/Royal Pain is this to Layla. Gwen's technopathic abilities had been treated as a joke, and she was forced into a sidekick role, turning her into a villain. Layla herself has power control of plants, but doesn't show them off, nor does she turn her annoyance over the Sidekick/Hero rule into violence.
    • Little bit of brilliance here however. Sue was going to high school in the late 80s, when tech as she knew it was primitive compared to today's technology (even by evil genius standards). As such, she and the rest of the geeks were derided and humiliated. On the other hand, someone like Layla would have been a lot more welcomed in that era, and most certainly would have had a lot more 'power' behind her abilities.
  • Evil-Detecting Baby: The parents/superheroes-turned-infants begin to cry when being loaded into an "evil bus". Will's father especially when being spoken to by Royal Pain.
  • Evil Is Hammy:
    • Gwen turns on the ham when she reveals herself as Royal Pain.
    • It runs in the family - Stitches is over-the-top to such a degree he gives Gwen the creeps.
  • Evil Plan: The Big Bad wants revenge, but that's actually a sidenote to their real agenda, turning everyone in the school into babies and repurposing the school as a villain training center.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Royal Pain's voice is distorted to sound like a man.
  • Evil Twin: Parodied, when Coach Boomer invites Medulla on a double-date with a female hero and her evil twin. When we see the date, it's with Coach looking on in disgust as Medulla enjoys the attention of both ladies.
  • Expy:
  • Face–Heel Turn: As Sue Tenny, Gwen was once a hero-in-training at Sky High until she got written off as a science geek, which causes her to enact her Evil Plan.
  • False Dichotomy: Layla, asked to demonstrate her powers, claims that the hero/sidekick dichotomy is a false one, but is cut off by Boomer declaring her a sidekick.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Hero-Sidekick dichotomy is drilled into the heads of everyone at Sky High, and there's a subtle undercurrent throughout the film that it's the source of the majority of the conflict.
  • Fantastic Racism: A very low key one but those on "Hero Support" are often looked down upon by those deemed hero worthy. Said the least it becomes a plot point later on.
  • Fastball Special: With Will playing the part of Colossus and Warren playing the part of Wolverine.
  • Fat and Skinny: Speed, the fat guy, actually has Super Speed, but Lash, the skinny guy, has stretching powers.
  • The Fettered: Layla will only use her powers when "a situation demands it," like comforting her best friend after a bad first day of school, rather than to show what she can do to the coach. This comes in handy when she has to fight Penny.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Especially in Warren's case.
  • First Girl Wins: Will and Layla, who he's known since first grade, get together.
  • Five-Bad Band
  • Five-Man Band
    • The Leader: Will (He wears red, he's the protagonist, and for a while, he's technically higher ranking than his friends (hero instead of sidekick)
    • The Lancer: Zack (His useless powers contrast Will's standard and easily used powers. Also, he's super confident despite them while Will was having an identity crisis)
    • The Smart Guy: Both Ethan and Magenta. (You gotta be smart and tactical to make use of their powers)
    • The Big Guy: Warren (Tallest, biggest, and physical-based (albeit elemental) powers)
    • The Chick: Layla (Not the only girl but the one who acts 'girly' and is a love interest for the hero)
  • Flying Car: Sky High's school bus, appropriately enough, is a flying bus.
  • Foil: Gwen and Layla, to each other. One's powers are derived from technology, the other's from nature, one is an overachiever, the other doesn't want to achieve in what she sees as a corrupt system, one's a senior, the other's a freshman, and, of course, they both like the same guy.
  • Foreshadowing: Will misses Gwen's advice on how not to fall off the edge of the school on his first day due to being too engrossed in her hotness. At the climax, Will does fall off the edge of the school... because the selfsame Gwen, as Royal Pain, pushes him of.
  • For the Evulz: Penny, Speed, and Lash, apparently. Unlike Gwen and Stitches they're never given any Freudian Excuses or likable quirks, and they seem to be fairly popular in school, which would write off being kindred spirits to Gwen as motivation.
    • Fridge Brilliance if you consider maybe they're helping her so she doesn't use the Pacifier against them
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Steve took it hard that Will still didn't have any superpowers to enable him to become a superhero. But he could still go into real estate.
  • Follow the Leader: Zoom was rushed into theaters shortly after Sky High came out, and the epic failure of the ripoff is probably why more films of this subgenre are not being made. Ironically, Sky High is sort-of a ripoff of the old DCOM Up Up and Away itself.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Coach Boomer drops a car on Will to test his strength and a spring trap to determine whether he could fly. Will failed both tests, but those were the superpowers he developed later on.
    • When the nurse and Will were talking about inherited superpowers (or lack thereof), Ron Wilson was outside swinging a broom like a weapon. Guess what he uses as a weapon once he gets his powers on?
      • The nurse explains that falling into a vat of toxic waste is the only way somebody without powers can get them.
    • Pay close attention when Will's parents talk about what a weirdo they thought Sue Tenny was in High School. Gwen, who is on a date with Will, seems annoyed at this. It turns out she is Sue Tenny/Royal Pain. Of course she was upset. They just insulted her right to her face.
  • Fountain of Youth: The Pacifier.
  • Freeze Ray: Built by Will and Gwen in Medulla's class; Medulla promptly turns it on a failing student who confused rays with beams.
  • Freudian Excuse: Due to being relegated to sidekick status, Sue became an evil supervillain bent on turning all the superheroes into infants.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Steve probably regrets picking on Sue Tenny in high school. She grows up to become his archnemesis, Royal Pain.
  • Funny Background Event:
  • Full-Name Basis: Ron Wilson, Bus Driver
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: In the Sanctum, Commander calls Will by his full name, William Theodore Stronghold, and hugs Will for the latter possessing his superpowers.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Gwen
  • Girl Posse: Penny herself is an entire Girl Posse.
  • Good All Along: Warren Peace
  • Goth: Magenta, possibly a Perky Goth
  • Got Volunteered:
    • How Will ends up playing Save the Citizen against Lash and Speed.
    • Happens again in the very same scene when Zach says that if Will loses they can dunk Ethan's head in the toilet everyday until graduation.
  • Granola Girl: Layla.
  • Greater Scope Villain:
    • The original Royal Pain, aka Sue Tenny, was the inventor of the Pacifier that is the lynchpin of the modern villains' scheme, but was killed when the weapon malfunctioned during a fight with the Commander seventeen years prior. Or so it seemed.
    • Baron Battle, Warren's father, is an even eviler villain with a massive impact on the backstory, but as he's presently serving a quadruple-life sentence with no chance of parole until his third life, we never actually get to see him.
  • Green Thumb: Layla. Though she's classified as "Hero Support" AKA a sidekick, she ultimately shows as much power as any of her superhero classmates.
  • Harmless Freezing: Happens to several characters, in various ways. It is treated with levity.
  • Hate Sink: The Big Bad is evil, sure, but they have a fairly understandable motive and their Secret Identity is someone the audience may well have wanted to like. Speed and Lash, by contrast, are two bullying and borderline sociopathic Jerk Jocks who torment everyone they encounter, including teachers, for no reason whatsoever. They end up signing on with the aforementioned Big Bad at the end of the film, again seemingly for no reason other than amusement.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: The viewer is initially led to believe Ethan's ability to turn into a puddle is useless. Near the end of the film, however, it turns out to be absolutely perfect for setting up a sneak attack. Lash never saw Ethan coming. Note that right before he takes down Lash Ethan demonstrates the ability to flow vertically, something he'd never done before then.
    • An in-universe example. Nobody saw the value of technopathy, causing Sue Tenny to be put into the sidekick class. She grew up into the supervillain Royal Pain and managed to build a de-aging gun and Powered Armor with the intent of turning all the superheroes into babies and raising them as an army of villains (and nearly succeeded both times). As Gwen, her powers were evaluated as Hero-class when she re-enrolled, primarily because technology had moved on a lot since the late 80s.
  • "Hell, Yes!" Moment:
    • Will when his powers awaken in the middle of a fight with Warren.
    • Layla won't use her powers except in self-defense. One of the villains, believing their side has already won and that Layla's a wimp anyway, attacks her just to be petty. "Big. Mistake." Also counts as a Let's Get Dangerous! moment.
  • Heroes Want Redheads:
    • Layla.
    • Josie also has reddish hair, though she's a hero herself (and already married to one!)
  • He Who Fights Monsters: As Gwen Grayson, Sue is pretty much the walking embodiment of the Fantastic Caste System that she hated when she was in school, what with her ridiculing sidekicks the same way that she used to be ridiculed.
  • High School: Well, obviously.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard/The Dog Bites Back: Ethan's ever-so-glorious revenge on Lash. Also, Royal Pain fell victim of the first trope when the pacifier turned her into a baby.
  • Hollywood Nerd:
    • Sue Tenny/Gwen Grayson in her first childhood.
    • Layla's in the geeky crowd but is still considered quite pretty, and gets a more traditional nerd hitting on her on her very first day of school.
  • Hooked Up Afterwards: Arguably Zach and Magenta, also Warren and Freeze Girl.
  • Hybrid Power: Will thinks he's powerless because his abilities are rather late to bloom. Turns out he gets both his dad's brute strength and his mom's flight (at different times), making him a Flying Brick.
  • I Am Not Lefthanded: Layla when she reveals her powers after Penny hits her in the climax.
  • Idiot Ball: A very light case, with Steve.
    • Bigger one handed to the entire school near the climax. Over a hundred super heroes can't figure out a way out past barriers you'd see in a normal school hallway. None of them seem to even be trying to use any powers to aid the situation since the teachers are more concerned about saving the students (other than Warren when he opened an Air-Vent Passageway), opting instead to grab the barrier and shake. Though, Fridge Logic; you could argue that they are at a school for SUPERHEROES, and such emergency barriers would be designed to survive powered assault. However, that DOES bring the question of why they don't just try to break down the walls.
  • If I Do Not Return: Will and Ron Wilson, Bus Driver, have this exchange:
    Will: If I'm not back in 30 minutes...
    Ron: Come in after you!
    Will: ...I was gonna say "get help".
    Ron: [crestfallen] Get help. Right.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Ron Wilson, Bus Driver!
    • Will, at first.
  • I Love Nuclear Power:
    • Referred to by the school nurse
    "The kids who get bit by radioactive insects or fall into a vat of toxic waste, their powers usually show up the next day. Or - they die."
    • Also by Layla and Magenta
    "I forget. Did Tigerman get bit by a radioactive tiger, or was he bit by a regular tiger and then exposed to radiation?"
  • Implied Love Interest: Zach and Magenta.
  • Incoming Ham: Ron Wilson, Bus Driver!
  • Incompletely Trained: They're all still in Superhero School.
  • Inherent in the System: There's a strong undercurrent throughout the film that the Hero-Sidekick Fantastic Caste System is the ultimate problem that causes all the conflict, from encouraging bullying and etcher favoritism amongst the students to actively breeding supervillains from both arrogant heroes and bitter sidekicks.
  • Insistent Terminology: The "polite" term for a sidekick is "Hero Support," but in practice it comes off as just as condescending.
  • In the Blood: Will inherited the powers of both his parents.
  • Insult Back Fire: After Layla incapacitates Penny and her clones:
    Penny:"But I thought you were a sidekick!"
    Layla: I am a sidekick.
  • In with the In Crowd: Will becomes popular after manifesting cool powers and defeating Speed and Lash at Save the Citizen, even becoming the boyfriend of the senior Student Council President. Unfortunately, he leaves his freshman friends behind in doing so.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One:
    • At Homecoming, on learning in order that Gwen is Royal Pain, that she has the Pacifier, that her "father" is her sidekick, and that the whole thing was a trap for the Commander and Jetstream, the Commander can only say with wonder, "Royal Pain is a girl."
    • Royal Pain only attacks Will when he states, "I made out with an old lady".
  • Jaded Washout: Coach Boomer. Steve Stronghold, outraged over the the coach putting Will in Hero Support, rants about how Boomer "never made the big time", and now uses his position to pass judgment on other heroes' kids. He doesn't seem that far off in his assumption, as Boomer treats his students terribly throughout the film, and arbitralily labels them as "hero" or "sidekick" based on whether he thinks their powers are any good.
  • Jerkass:
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Will silently agrees when Warren tells him that if Layla hates Will, then Will must have really screwed up.
    • Played with in regards to Boomer's Hero-Sidekick sorting.
      • On one hand, Boomer relegating those not fortunate enough to win the Superpower Lottery to Sidekick duty could be seen as a Necessarily Evil, and why he's given that job. This is a school designed to create superheroes that have to go toe-to-toe with supervillains and city-wide threats: Giant robots, huge monsters, evil geniuses armed with high-tech arsenals. Are they really supposed to rank the people who can punch through walls, Fly and run at Super Speed with the girl who can turn into a guinea pig? They'd end up curbstomped by the first superpowered villain they fight, and most of the sidekicks would get their asses kicked by a Badass Normal. They do their part in the climax, but that's largely because they've got a Flying Brick, a Pyromancer and a Poison Ivy Expy to handle the heavy-duty heroing, and also because of multiple convenient coincidences that make them useful.
      • On the other hand, Will's father, Steve, thinks Boomer deliberately washes some real heroes' kids out as a form of petty revenge for not making the "big time" (i.e. not having advanced beyond "gym teacher"); Will had to explain that in Will's case he really didn't have powers. At least at that time. Will's mother, Josie, is specifically mentioned as both able to fly and an expert martial artist. If Sky High trains the high-level heroes in martial arts, why not the lesser-powered heroes who could actually use those fighting skills to augment their abilities? Why are the high-level heroes the ones who get the advanced technology like rays, and the lesser-powered heroes are expected to fork weapons over in a combat situation? Because no one expects the "hero support" to do anything.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Warren Peace and Coach Boomer.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: After Layla shows off her powers, Penny and her clones reveal that if they stay in the school everyone will die, since Royal Pain is going to blow it out of the sky. Penny may be an evil henchman, but even she doesn't want to lose her life.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Briefly demonstrated in a scene featuring Medulla teaching the "Hero Support" class.
  • Lack of Empathy: Speed and Lash seem to care about nothing and no one except possibly each other. They even pick on the teachers. And depending if Speed knew what he was doing to Warren during Save the Citizen, it's entirely possible they're okay with casual murder.
  • Large Ham: Coach Boomer. Makes sense, considering his powers.
    • Stitches, as well.
  • Large Ham Title: Less pronounced than most, Ron Wilson, Bus Driver!
  • Last Minute Hookup: Will and Layla
  • Legacy Character:
    • Subverted. The current Royal Pain was believed to be the original's daughter but she was the original after being deaged.
    • Steve really wants Will to be his Legacy Character, a source of much angst for the latter.
    • Warren Peace. His parents are a superhero and supervillain. There's a lot of hinting in the first half of the film that he could go either way. In reality, he's all hero, but everyone thinks he'll go villain anyway, resulting in much angst for him.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Layla claims this of Will. She's lying.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Played with — each student's clothing varies day to day but with the same colors and design, hinting toward their emerging Super Hero personas.
  • Longer-Than-Life Sentence: There's a passing mention that Baron Battle had received a quadruple life sentence, with no chance of parole until after the third.
  • Loser Friend Puzzles Outsiders: Students are segregated by class (no, not that kind of class). "Heroes" (the kids with conventionally useful powers) are treated as - and believe themselves to be - superior to "Sidekicks" (everyone else). When the "Hero" protagonist befriends several "Sidekicks", it bemuses the other "Heroes".
  • Love-Interest Traitor: Will goes out with the older Gwen, whose role is basically showing him the ropes of superhero school in between being sweet on him. Turns out she just wanted the weaponized Fountain of Youth in his basement...
  • Made of Iron:
    • The instructors state that Will has no powers...after he has already taken several hospitalizations worth of punishment during tryouts with no injury.
    • Warren is thrown face first into a concrete overhang, falls, and hits a table hard enough to splinter it to pieces, is thrown through a wall into a pillar hard enough to break it in half and then gets up, looking not the worse for wear, except for the debris all over him, and goes back for more. Surely, that boy is made of stronger stuff. Being Made of Iron is possibly a secondary power.
    Warren: (angrily; to Will) You think I can't take a hit?
    • Nurse Spex mentions getting kicked through a wall by Will's dad. Make of this what you will.
  • Mad Scientist: The school has a Mad Science class.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Hinted at with Gwen, until we learn she's actually the Mad Scientist herself. She's still a Hammy Evil Clown's Beautiful Adoptive Daughter, if that counts.
  • Magic Pants: Seems to be the case with most of the super-powered individuals. When Ethan melts, so do his clothes. When Magenta shapeshifts, her clothes seem to just meld into her guinea pig form's fur and are back on her when she returns to human form. The weirdest would probably be an unnamed shapeshifting boy who is somehow able to manipulate the clothing he's wearing as well as his body. This is probably for the best, seeing as they're all supposed to be high school students.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Gwen/Royal Pain.
  • Meaningful Background Event: While Will and Gwen share their first kiss, Speed sneaks into the Secret Sanctum and steals the Pacifier.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Warren Peace, the son of a hero and a villain. It's like War and Peace, GET IT?
    • Coach Boomer. His superhero name used to be Sonic Boom, to boot.
      • In what is almost certainly a parody of the Steven Ulysses Perhero trope, Steve's yearbook reveals that his real last name is Boomowski.
    • Lash and Speed.
    • Stronghold. His first name fits too. Will, as in "William" but also as in "willpower."
    • Principal POWERS.
    • Professor Medulla.
    • The Pacifier. "Who said anything about killing you, dear Commander?"
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: Will does this to Royal Pain when they fight.
  • Missing Mom: Gwen's died when she was a baby. From a Certain Point of View.
  • Meganekko: Kelly Preston looked damn good as Josie. As did Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Sue Tenny.
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment: Happens when Will, Layla, Warren, and the sidekicks fight Royal Pain's invasion during Homecoming.
  • Mood Lighting: During the fight sequences, and when Sky High is falling.
  • Morality Chain: Layla for Will. As Gwen seduces Will into Corrupt the Cutie, he spends less time with Layla. When Gwen hurts Layla's feelings, however? Will dumps her and calls Layla a dozen times begging for her forgiveness.
  • Morality Pet: Layla is the first person in the film that Warren treats with kindness, offering to heat up her cold entree in the Paper Lantern microwave. He may hate Will, but he has nothing against Will's "sidekick". When she "asks" him to Homecoming, though he only agreed to make Will jealous, he digs his dad's tux out and wears it for her.
  • More Expendable Than You: The teachers are the first to go down in the fight with Royal Pain after she deages Steve and Josie, because Mr. Boy risks his life to save "Josie" from a deadly fall after she's de-aged, Principal Powers's first concern is for the students, and Sonic Boom focuses on telling everyone to make an exit.
  • Motor Mouth: Zach, to some degree.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Warren Peace is Tall, Dark and Handsome and extremely ripped for a high schooler. Steven Strait was a male model before he began acting.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Jetstream's costume shows a lot of skin, as does Gwen's Homecoming gown.
  • Muggle Born of Mages: Subverted with Will. He's just a late bloomer who didn't get his powers until a few days after starting at Sky High. Played straight with Ron Wilson until the Where Are They Now epilogue reveals he fell into a vat of radioactive waste and became a sizeshifter.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • Subverted when Warren offers to heat up Layla's now cold meal. She protests that they're not supposed to use their powers outside the school, but he explains he was just gonna put it in the microwave.
    • Played straight for most of the movie, as most of the kids' power uses fall under this heading. Layla spruces up houseplants (and picks fruit off of trees), Gwen helps Will in mad science class, Zack illuminates a classroom when the power goes out, Speed and Lash bully kids and dominate gym class, etc. In fact minutes after Warren's above protest he lights a candle in the restaurant he works at with his powers.
    • Among the staff, Nurse Spex uses X-Ray Vision to check students for broken bones, Principal Powers uses her ability to turn into a comet to teleport anywhere in the school and Coach Boomer uses his voice to...sound intimidating.
  • My Brain Is Big: Professor Medulla.
  • Mysterious Watcher: The Strongholds are unwittingly under surveillance by the mysterious cloaked mastermind (and Stitches) for most of the film, with their exact goals only becoming apparent toward the end.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Royal Pain is the supervillain Big Bad and archenemy to Will's dad. And is further revealed to be a supervillainess.
  • Near Villain Victory: The bad guys might very well have won had Will not stayed home reading his dad's old yearbook instead of going to Homecoming. By chance, he happens upon a picture of Sue Tenny holding the Pacifier, and from there works out the connection between her and Gwen.
  • Never Be a Hero: The message drilled into Hero Support is "Just stand back and hand me the Batarang silver-tipped crossbow, kid and don't block my camera angles while you do it."
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Will is tossed out a window... and discovers he can fly. This is Foreshadowed (albeit subtly) when he's had his First Kiss with Gwen: He shoots out his arm in a triumphant punch like Superman and flies along the street, grabbing a post and swinging on it to slow himself. He probably thought it was just his Super Strength which elevated him, or maybe was too ecstatic to really notice (he's a teenager) or perhaps he took note but just managed to master it until he needed to. It must be remembered that his mother's power is flight, and so it's not implausible to inherit abilities from both his parents.
    • Lampshaded when Will reveals he can fly. Including Royal Pain's reaction as well, shortly before Will kicks ass.
    Will: Surprised? Well so am I!
    Royal Pain: You're flying!? That's impossible!
  • Nice Guy: Will's key feature, often shown by his willingness to try to talk to his foes as oppose to fighting.
    • Also, Ron Wilson, Bus Driver!
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • The Commander's habit of keeping trophies allows Royal Pain to put a spy camera in the secret hideout.
    • Will breaking the one rule to let no one in the hideout allows Royal Pain to steal back the Pacifier.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
    • Lash made a big mistake in tripping Will so that his lunch spills over Warren Peace. The ensuing fight leads to Will discovering his super powers, which he later uses to literally tie up Lash into a knot during Save The Citizen.
    • If Gwen hadn't thrown a Wild Teen Party at Will's house and then made Layla cry, Will would have gone to the dance with her and been incapacitated with the other heroes. Will by staying at home only to arrive later with Ron defeats her in battle and helps save the school.
  • Nigh Invulnerable: Steve, thanks to his Super Strength. Also Will, once he gains his powers.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Will and Royal Pain deliver one to each other in the climax. It seems Royal Pain wins at first, but then Will's flying powers come in and he uses them to surprise her.
  • Non-Action Guy: Unusually enough for a wielder of Super Strength, Will. His fights with both Warren and Gwen begin with a sincere attempt to reason with them, only defending himself when he mistakenly presses their Berserk Buttons - and even then, he's shown to be a pretty terrible fighter who relies on awkward improvised moves made up for with sheer brawn to win.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The Pacifier. Despite being built by Royal Pain, the whole Evil Plan rests on getting it back from the Strongholds. It seems Royal Pain just could not build another. Possibly justified by the original being a group design based on the picture of the science club. Also, she seems to have forgotten everything about her past life, while retaining her powers. She didn't know how to make it from scratch, and even if she did, she's a supervillain. She'd steal it just for poetic revenge. Also justified by the fact that she's a technopath rather than an actual genius. She can make stuff but might not really understand them. Reference the number of times Forge has created stuff and never been able to create them or undo them again.
  • Not So Different: Realizing how much the sidekicks are bullied, Will shows empathy for Royal Pain being bullied as a sidekick when apologizing to Gwen for what his dad did to "her mom". This goes out the window when Royal Pain admits that she didn't have a mother; she IS the original Sue Tenny.
  • No, You Go First: Layla is going to confess to Will that she likes him, by asking him to the school dance. As she was going to talk about the school dance, Will figures it's the perfect time to mention that he's going with the most popular girl in school. So Layla ends up telling him that she's going as well. With his archenemy.
  • Not Wearing Tights/Civvie Spandex: Notably, only the adult heroes wear Spandex, Latex, or Leather, and then only when in action or on special occasions.
  • Not Worth Killing:
    • Inverted; instead of shooting him with the Pacifier to go with her future villain students, Royal Pain actively tries to kill Will.
    • Played straight when Lash, Speed and Penny only go after "the sidekicks" after realizing they escaped the gym, and start taunting them with their powers.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Will when he first crosses paths with Warren.
    • Lash and Speed when Will finally develops super-strength and confronts them about tripping him in the cafeteria.
    • Will again when he realizes discovers in his father's yearbook that Gwen is actually Sue Tenny and that her Science Club picture in Will's father's yearbook has her holding the Pacifier.
    • Everyone at the homecoming event gets a Mass "Oh, Crap!" when Gwen reveals herself as Royal Pain.
    • Penny when Layla is about to use her plant powers to interrogate her. "Big mistake," indeed.
    • Royal Pain when she realizes that Will can fly and that he is about to give her a beatdown.
    • Stitches when Ron Wilson forces him off his bus.
    • The Timmermans when they realize that Sky High is about to fall on them. Fortunately, they are saved and their new home doesn't get destroyed.
  • Older Sidekick:
    • Stitches to Gwen, sorta.
    • Also Ron Wilson, Bus Driver to Will
  • Old Superhero:
    • Chronically unappreciated All-American Boy is the past-his-prime sidekick without the retired superhero. His assigned mentor, The Commander, is still operating at his peak, while All-American Boy is now teaching "hero support" classes in the titular hero school. However, he is far from decrepit, and is still able to help the heroes.
    • Boomer is also implied to have washed out of a formal superheroic career, and to take his bitterness out on his students.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Layla started a fake relationship with Jerk with a Heart of Gold Warren Peace in order to annoy Will. Warren, who disliked Will for his own reasons, was happy to oblige. This may have lead to a Relationship Writing Fumble when Will and Layla went through their Relationship Upgrade, as Warren and Layla possessed great chemistry. However, see Word of God.
  • Opposites Attract: A somewhat more literal case of this trope. At the end of the movie, a girl with ice powers expresses an interest in Warren, who seems to reciprocate that interest.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Will, and most of the others, too.
  • Overprotective Dad: Mr. Grayson to Gwen after Will walks Gwen home. It's actually a ruse; Gwen is Daddy's Little Villain.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • The Commander is wearing glasses and Steve Stronghold is not, as Layla points out and his disguise is totally different from Superman.
    • Averted with Royal Pain. The Commander is completely surprised when it turns out his archnemesis is "a girl," and the girl he had invited to dinner a few weeks ago. That's because Royal Pain's armor covers her body completely, and she uses a voice modulator.
  • Peerless Love Interest: How Will sees Gwen, much to Layla's irritation.
  • Phosphor-Essence: Subverted with Zach: he can glow in the dark... and that's about it.
  • Playing with Fire: Warren.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: In the climax, everyone's powers become useful and are used, even the lame powers like glowing.
  • Politeness Judo: Will after apologizing to Royal Pain for what his dad did to her "mom" asks that the latter put his de-aged father, who is a helpless infant, down. It actually works in that Gwen gives the baby Commander to Stitches before she finishes her Evil Gloating, reveals that "Royal Pain is ME", and launches into a fight with Will.
  • Powered Armor: What Royal Pain a.k.a. Sue Tenny/Gwen Grayson develops to fight on the same level as The Steve and Josie. It also seems to contain a Cranial Processing Unit, as it powers down once Will shatters Royal Pain's helmet. However, Fridge Logic: since Royal Pain WAS a Technopath, she could have been animating the armor with her powers.
  • Power Nullifier: The Detention Room.
  • Private Tutor Ship: Will and Gwen.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Alluded to — when Will walks Gwen home, her dad asks accusingly, "You're not that boy with the six arms, are you?"
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Why kill your worst enemy when you can de-age him and turn him into your supervillain protege?
  • Predecessor Villain: Sue Tenney was the original Royal Pain, inventor of the Pacifier, and architect of the Evil Plan. Gwen is initially mistaken for her daughter, but is actually her Reincarnation.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Zach dresses, and sometimes acts, like a stereotypical white rapper.
  • Product Placement: After Will gains his powers while fighting with Warren, his father presents him with an Xbox console.
  • Psychotic Smirk: It's easy to miss as the camera isn't focused on him, but right as the Big Bad is revealed Mr. Grayson sports one, betraying his allegiance to the villain.
  • Puberty Superpower: In some cases. Will gets his powers in his early teen years, while Layla apparently had hers when she was in kindergarten.
  • Punched Across the Room: Will uses his newfound powers to punch Warren through Coach Boomer's office wall.
  • Punny Name
  • Rainbow Motif: Each of the six main teen characters dresses mainly in one of the colors of the rainbow.
  • Raise Him Right This Time: Royal Pain was regressed to a baby by her own Pacifier device, then raised by her henchman to be evil again.
  • Reality Ensues: Will's fight with Warren results in them getting sent to the school's detention room.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Will is seriously squicked out when when he learns that Gwen is Sue Tenny.
    "I made out with an old lady!"
  • Red Herring: Warren's dad. But not Gwen's.
  • Reincarnation: Gwen Grayson is this to Sue Tenney. In a variation, it's a sci-fi rather than mystical rebirth, originating from an explosive petard hoisting involving an age-regressing weapon.
  • Relationship Upgrade: "In the end, my girlfriend became my arch enemy, my arch enemy became my best friend, and my best friend became my girlfriend. But, hey, it's high school."
  • Revenge Before Reason: As Gwen, Sue had all the popularity and adoration that she'd wanted during her own school days, but she threw it all away in the name of revenge on Will's parents.
  • Rude Hero, Nice Sidekick: All the "hero" kids were obnoxious stuck up Jerk Jocks. All the kids relegated to "sidekick" were fairly decent (until Will did kind of a Face–Heel Turn upon becoming a hero).
  • Rule of Funny: In the DVD Bonus Features, there's one question which Kevin McDonald (in his Medulla costume — large head and all) answers "Yes, I agree", and then he consents for the editors to use him saying that for anything they like. Throughout the documentary, they randomly cut to him saying "Yes, I agree" for virtually anything. It's hilarious.
  • Running Gag: Stitches constantly getting choked by Royal Pain and desperately yelling, "Uncle! Uncle! Uncle!"
  • Samus Is a Girl
    "Yes I'm a girl, you idiot! How I ever lost to a fool like you I'll never know."
    • Though, to be fair, Royal Pain's armor IS kind-of masculating, and it has that voice modifier...
  • Sassy Black Woman: Penny.
  • School Saved My Life: Subverted for Will, played straight for everyone else.
  • Sealed with a Kiss
  • Secret Identity: The Strongholds, and likely most superheroes.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: Sue Tenny when the Pacifier blows up in her face. With a bit of Fridge Brilliance, Gwen also qualifies; she already had everything she wanted to begin with, and her willingness to throw all that away for revenge is what causes her to lose in the end.
  • Self-Duplication: Penny, the one woman cheerleading team.
  • Series Continuity Error: When Steve is on the phone with his customer Mr. Timmerman at the beginning of the film, the latter's first name is stated to be "Burt." However, when he physically shows up at the end, it's suddenly "Chester."
  • Shaped Like Itself: The film's moral notwithstanding, Will and Warren are the Heroes and their friends are the sidekicks.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Layla has this reaction when she sees Warren in a tux.
  • She-Fu: Penny does this while fighting Layla. Taunting her this way turns out to be a horrible idea; she could have just not backed Layla into a room with plants outside and won.
  • She's Got Legs: Zach compliments Magenta's... while she's a guinea pig.
  • Ship Tease: Zach and Magenta. They're frequently together, take each other to Homecoming on the basis of their mutual dislike of Homecoming, Zach asks if she needs protection from Warren, and later he even compliments her (guinea pig) legs.
  • Shipper on Deck: Steve and Josie are shipping their son with Gwen pretty much from the instant they meet her. Boy do they end up regretting that.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Gwen Grayson's name may be a reference to prominent comic book characters Gwen Stacy and Dick Grayson. It is also a reference to the tendency for comic book characters to have alliterative names.
    • Will has a poster in his room of fellow superhero team The Aquabats!.
    • While teaching "English for Hero Support", Mr. Boy wrote at the blackboard Holy (blank), (blank)man.
    • See Nurse Spex's line at the top of the page.
    • Possibly unintentional, but Will and Warren are able to win "Save the Citizen" by using a Fastball Special
    • Mr. Boy's given name is Johnathan.
    • Some fans believe Layla Williams may be named for Laurey Williams, the lead female character in Oklahoma!, both due to the similarity in their names and the fact that it's mentioned that the future Commander and the future Baron Battle competed over the lead male role of Curly, Laurey's love interest, when they were in school - reflecting Layla's own romantic prospects in the two men's sons.
  • Sidekick Glass Ceiling
  • Sitting on the Roof: Will and Layla do this after the first day of school
  • Skirt over Slacks: Layla has this fashion choice at some points in the movie
  • Smack on the Back: Will has just gotten his powers and his super-strong dad hugs him, which is somewhat painful.
    Will: OOOWW!
    Dad: Sorry!
    Will: *grins and hugs him back*
    Dad: OW! You are strong!
  • Smug Snake: Penny is a rare female example.
  • Soaperizing
  • So Long, Suckers!: Penny blows a mocking kiss at the people she locks in the gym.
  • So Proud of You:
    The Commander: And, Jonathan; whatever you're teaching them, keep teaching them... it.
    (The Commander shakes his hand as an equal, and Jetstream kisses him on the cheek)
  • Spandex, Latex, or Leather
  • Stating the Simple Solution: In one scene, Will and his friends discuss their Hero Support homework. One question concerns a radioactive zombie attacking their hero, with one option being to hand the hero a crossbow. Magenta points out that in such a situation, the sidekick could simply use the crossbow himself.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: Basically the same as Punny Name above, but used so much that it deserves both entries. A particularly ridiculous one is Baron Battle's real name: Barron Battle.
  • Stock Superpowers
  • Student Council President: Gwen is this to Sky High. She's not quite absurdly powerful, but she's allowed to plan events and clearly well liked by both the students and the teachers. However, it is revealed that Gwen is Royal Pain.
  • Suicidal "Gotcha!"
  • Super Family Team: Steve wants to found one, "The Stronghold Three," with his wife and Will once the latter graduates. Will is less than interested.
  • Superhero School: Sky High itself, of course.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Superpowered parents tend to have superpowered kids. There's only one instance on record of two superpowered parents having a child with no powers: poor, poor Ron Wilson, Bus Driver.
  • Super Speed: Speed (obviously).
    • Also seems to be a latent ability within every superhero and sidekick. Mr. Boy and the rest of the Hero Support class are able to change into their outfits in seconds, and during the climax Stitches is able to change into his supervillain outfit while literally standing next to Steve and Josie.
  • Super Spit: One incoming freshman's saliva is acidic.
  • Super Zeroes: Poor, poor Mr. Boy. It's never really explained if he even has powers at all; he's shown to be able to jump much farther than a normal human would be expected to, but this may simply be an instance of the overall exaggerated tone of the film.
  • Sycophantic Servant: Stitches is a thoroughly deranged little man who was apparently so loyal to the original Royal Pain that he not only raised her de-aged self for seventeen years for revenge, but willingly resumed his henchman position, complete with physical abuse, once she became a teenager.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Will always tries this with an opponent first, only resorting to violence in self-defense.
  • Tall, Dark and Handsome: Warren Peace.
  • Technopath: Gwen Grayson is the Trope Namer, though the power existed previously.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: There are quite a few impressive coincidences that can only be solved by one of the random powers that the Sidekicks have.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Lash and Speed.
  • Too Fast to Stop: Does Speed in twice.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Ron Wilson, Bus Driver and Ethan.
  • Toxic Waste Can Do Anything: It's established that being dipped into a pool of toxic waste will either grant the person superpowers, if they're lucky, or kill them, if unlucky. In the epilogue, Will reveals that Ron Wilson, Bus Driver, was dipped into toxic waste, and is now a giant.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer makes it seem like the main conflict of the movie is the main character's lack of super powers. Then, approximately 10 seconds later, it shows him with super strength and flight — at which point the viewer realizes there's probably more to this movie that they're not telling him, and there goes the element of surprise.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Super-strength and super-flight for Will.
  • Twin Threesome Fantasy: Accidental in-universe case of this; Coach Boomer convinces Medulla to go on a double date with him, a superheroine and her Evil Twin. The date ends with Medulla dating both the heroine and her evil twin with Boomer being something of a third wheel.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Gwen Grayson, Sky High's resident knockout, turns out to be the daughter of a weedy little Nerd Glasses-sporting guy who's noticeably shorter than she is. But not by blood.
  • Unequal Pairing: Will and Gwen; her behavior at times comes off as almost predatory. Which was probably the point.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Being a Muggle Born of Mages, Will is always amusingly nonplussed by the weirdness that comes with living among superhumans his whole life.
  • Unrequited Love Lasts Forever: Mr. Boy towards Jetstream. This is lampshaded by his Anguished Declaration of Love before being Pacified.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: The only reason Will is able to make it through any of his fights is his ability to tank damage like no other. His fight with Royal Pain is full of haymakers, shoulder tackles, and simply flinging his opponent around like a rag doll.
  • Unwilling Suspension: This is done to the inflatable "Citizen" in the Save the Citizen game in Sky High, to simulate villains doing this to their captives. Will Stronghold mentions at the end how after they replaced the citizens with the actual villains no one saved the Citizen anymore, but we're to assume that's a joke because he said as much.
    "Remember when we used to use real citizens?"
    "Yeah..."
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • Steve and Josie inviting Gwen to dinner turns out to be the impetus for pretty much everything that goes wrong in the film, both the mundane and the fantastic.
    • The entire second half of the plot is caused by Mr. Medulla, though it's easy to overlook. He formally introduces Will and Gwen to each other, and pairs them up for science class, which both gives the villain the foot in the door she needs and drives the first wedge between Will and his friends.
  • Villain Ball: Yes Gwen, don't use your weapon capable of neutralizing any opponent with a single blast in the final battle. Why turn someone into a helpless baby, when you can kill them instead?
    • Then again, why destroy what could be your chance to have an incredibly loyal force of supersoldiers at your command?
    • However, if you think too hard about the plot, Gwen's whole desire for revenge starts to make less and less sense, given that she's pretty much got everything she wanted THEN. Basically, she had her hands on the ball the entire movie.
  • Villainous Harlequin: Stitches.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: The whole point.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: If Mr. Boy is any example, this is what the 'Hero Support' track is designed to turn students into.
  • Wham Line: All delivered by the same person:
    • A single word - "ME!" When the time comes to unmask the Big Bad, you will boggle at who says this.
    • "Who said anything about killing you, dear Commander?"
    • "Royal Pain is not my mother. Royal Pain is ME!"
  • Wham Shot: Right before the climax, Will's at rock bottom - he's lost Layla, lost Gwen, lost all his other friends for the sake of a popularity that he's now likely lost too. As he sits morosely in the Secret Sanctum, paging through his dad's old yearbook, he notices two things in quick succession - first, a student who's a dead ringer for Gwen is pictured as the builder of the Pacifier weapon, and second that the actual Pacifier is gone. Cue an Oh, Crap!.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?:
    • Glowing, melting,and shapeshifting into a guinea pig are all seen as lame powers by Boomer. However, the kids prove just how awesome they can be in the climax and several could be easily be used for espionage and/or utility purposes.
    • Deconstructed with the Big Bad's background and motivations. Sue Tenny's powers as a technopath were considered the stuff of sidekicks when she went to Sky High, and her resulting status as a nerdy outcast drove her down the path of evil. And speaking outside of the Film for a moment, other fictional heroes such as Iron Man show that control of machines and having access to very powerful tech is a very useful thing. However, she WAS originally enrolled in SH in the 80's, and technology was nowhere near as advanced, effective or useful.
  • When He Smiles - behold Kubrick!Warren - and, for contrast, behold grinning!Warren.
  • White Void Room: The detention room.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?:
    • Lampshaded during a study session with the hero supports; they're discussing radioactive zombies and what to do. One of the options is handing the hero his crossbow. Zack wonders why you don't just shoot the zombie yourself.
    • A villainous example: Royal Pain completely forgets about the powerful weapon that can defeat anyone with a single blast. With that said, she takes down everyone else in the homecoming room by utilizing this tactic.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Shown in comic book form during the credits, the most awesome of which is Ron Wilson, Bus Driver, who falls into a vat of radioactive waste, grows to a colossal size and gets a new job — fighting giant monsters that attack the city!
  • Who's Laughing Now?: Gwen's motivation to become a villain as apparently her first go around in the school had her put in "Hero Support" since her powers weren't considered superhero worthy. Needless to say she winds up proving them wrong.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Steve really takes it hard when he learns Will has no powers and is Hero Support. Josie admits being disappointed as well, but is far more accepting and convinces Steve to be.
  • Wild Teen Party: Gwen throws one in Will's house under the pretense of it being the "Homecoming" committee. He's pretty angry with her about it.
  • Wire Dilemma: Tongue-in-cheek version; all the wires are red.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Both Royal Pains, Sue and Gwen, but in particular the former - she had a genuinely amazing power, but nobody realized it in the 1970s and she was placed on the Sidekick track and thoroughly bullied; it's all but outright stated that one of those bullies was the future Commander, later to be recognized as the greatest superhero in the world. It's not hard to see why she snapped. Gwen is less sympathetic, but it's doubtful she had the healthiest upbringing either, having been raised by her "mother's" Sycophantic Servant for the sole purpose of a seventeen-year revenge scheme that turns out to be All for Nothing.
  • World of Ham: The character played by Bruce Campbell is actually one of the most normal characters in the film.
  • You Are What You Hate: Given a second chance at high school, Sue/Gwen became pretty, popular and powerful and dumped all over the sidekicks... exactly what she wanted revenge for from her first time around.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/SkyHigh2005