"I thought the last day of high school would be the best day of my life until I realized what I'd be leaving."If the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and My So-Called Life and (especially) Heathers have taught us nothing else, it is that High School is Hell. Sometimes literally. Not everyone agrees. While few shows will go so far as to claim learning is fun for its own sake, or that the Alpha Bitch or a Jerk Jock can't make life troublesome, several shows seem to think high school is not all that bad. They seem to have a point: You get to play sports (if you want), find your High School Sweetheart at the High School Dance (if you are lucky) and make some of the best friends you will ever meet. Indeed, even those shows that paint an extremely negative picture of high school life usually acknowledge the importance of friends. Cliques might be notably absent, but if they are present, the main characters will maintain friendships across the class divide. Depending on the troper, this may or may not be Truth in Television. For the latter, this trope exists pretty far toward the idealistic end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. The opposite trope (naturally) is High School Is Hell. Relatively few shows occupy much of a middle ground; either high school is a place of utter misery or despair, or it's a wacky fun-filled ride. A subtrope of High School. Not to be confused with naturally occurring aggregates of minerals and/or mineraloids that attend high school.
— Zack Morris, Saved by the Bell
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Anime and Manga
- Azumanga Daioh
- Manabi Straight! practically collapses under the nostalgia about the high school days.
- Hidamari Sketch
- Sketchbook has elements of this. Even super-shy and eccentric Sora never gets hassled, unlike what would happen in Real Life.
- Not to mention Kate, who would be a real bully magnet with her western looks and accent.
- Maria-sama ga Miteru
- Kare Kano - at least, the manga. Despite the overall theme, the actual high school life of the title characters is pretty cake, with any foe made into a trusty ally within a chapter or two. Souichiro and Yukino's biggest worries are often about not being at the top of the exam boards, the ending suggests that nothing really happens outside of high school anyway.
- Ouran High School Host Club, although if it weren't for the fact that they keep reminding you, you'd forget that they were in school at all. The characters do Angst on occasion, but it's always resolved by the end of the episode.
- Cromartie High School, although it's more like "High school is as weird as fuck"
- Yuki from School-Live! thinks her school life is this. It's everything but as she's delusional and in denial about the fact almost everyone is a zombie.
- Bring It On
- High School Musical
- Friday Night Lights, the football team is shown as some of the most important people in town, and it explicitly says the players will never be as important as they are now. This is emphasised in one scene where a former player freaks two players out by telling them this and saying they need to get a championship ring. The film plays the trope so straight it practically deconstructs it.
Live Action TV
- Graduados is fully focused in this. It is composed of adults who used to be classmates, and keep having nostalgia of the good old times.
- Saved by the Bell and most of its clones (Hang Time, California Dreams, etc.) are the kings of this trope. Extra points for Saved by the Bell for having the principal as one of the gang.
- The Bruce Springsteen song "Glory Days" is made of this trope, albeit with a bittersweet dose of hindsight.
- "Be True to Your School" by The Beach Boys.
- "High School" by MC5.
- "Rock N' Roll High School" by Ramones.
- "Popular" by Nada Surf does this by reciting pages from a terrible teen dating advice book with tongue-firmly-in-cheek.
- The Tokimeki Memorial series. This Dating Sim franchise from Konami, in which the player's goal is to get the Love Confession of a High School Sweetheart of his choice at a place of legend that'll grant them eternal happiness as a couple, is renowned for its very sweet and idealistic stance.
- Subverted and played straight in Danganronpa just by the nature of the plot revelations. The situation which the students face is most assuredly horrific and not at all in line with a normal curriculum. That is until the 6th and final chapter where it gets revealed that Everyone Went to School Together for at least a year's worth before The Tragedy took place and their memories had been forcibly erased of ever locking themselves inside the school. The old photos found by the protagonist generally show the students looking happy during their highschool years with the implication that many of them moved past the crippling emotional/psychological issues that lead some of them to kill each other during the game's course.
- The modern arc of Arthur, King of Time and Space was this, when Arthur was at school.
Arthur: All that's demanded of you is that you learn things for six hours a day. The rest of your time's free and you've got school activities and online games and your friends to hang with. It's never this good again till retirement.
- Disney's Doug is the middle school version of this trope. Which, for most people, is definitely not Truth in Television.
- In Gravity Falls, Mabel believes in this trope due to overexposure to such portrayals in the media, asking Wendy if her high school experience is "more rom-com or wacky romp." Wendy quickly sets her straight. Word Of God is that this is reflective of creator Alex Hirsch's experience.
Mabel: Why aren't they singing about following their dreams? TV taught me that high school was like some sort of musical.Wendy: TV lied, man.