"According to my calculations, Mr. Spicoli, you wasted a total of eight hours of my time this year. And rest assured that is a kind estimate. Now, Mr. Spicoli, comes a rare moment for me. Now I have the unique pleasure of squaring our account. Tonight, you and I are going to talk in great detail about the Davis Agreement, all the associated treaties, and the American Revolution in particular. Now if you can just turn to Chapter 47 of
Lord of Truth And Liberty. "
A subtrope of Determinator
, this is an educator (often a principal, though sometimes just a teacher) who, by all gods, swears that you WILL get an education, by all means necessary. This teacher will thus spend time hunting down students who try to skip school, to drag them back to class. If played with restraint, this means the principal spends his days patrolling the corridors of the school (rather than knee-deep in paper work and meetings as they would be in real life), maintaining a vigil for children roaming the halls without a hall pass, or worst, those that are late for class. The more serious examples of this trope will go on a quest when they learn that a student is not in class, tracking them across the city or even the country. They will brave the elements and the law, resorting to breaking and entering if they have to, all to make sure you go back to school. Often a Designated Antagonist
(how dare they want to teach our kids!), which is usually justified by making the character a Jerk Ass
into the bargain. May also be a Sadist Teacher
who takes pleasure in the hunt and punishing his absconding students.
If the character in question is a principal, he may also be Dean Bitterman
if he is doing out of a sense of authority or obsession with order - though not always, as sometime they may be doing it out genuine concern for their charges. Depending on how determined Non-Giving-Up School Guy
is, he may prove to be a Badass Teacher
with his determination to track his charge down.
More Fridge Logic
occurs when one considers how apparently negative consequences for non-attendance only occur if Non-Giving-Up School Guy
finds The Protagonist
. Not actually showing up to class multiple times really results in F's, phone calls, letters to parents, etc. (Usually Handwaved
by them being tricky enough to forge excuses, but in Real Life
this can only go so far.)
This character may have/be the following: Heroic Spirit
and Implacable Man
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Anime & Manga
- A comic version of the cartoon where Donald Duck was a truant officer. His nephews tricked him into thinking there was class that day. Carl Barks didn't like the idea of a comic story where kids defy the law and get away with that, so he had Donald use the school keys to open it and his authority as the nephews' uncle to force them in and write at the blackboard "Crime doesn't pay". He even corrected one of the nephews on how to write "crime".
- Principal Dick Vernon in The Breakfast Club. Granted, Bender is a real pain in his backside both in the movie and in their backstories, but Vernon starts giving out detentions every time anyone talks back, locks Bender in his office, and treats all of the students in detention, not just Bender, with disdain. A conversation with the Almighty Janitor later further enforces the idea that Vernon is obsessed with order because he doesn't want to admit that he's bad at his job.
- The Dean of Students in Ferris Bueller's Day Off spends half the movie hunting down Ferris. To enforce his Designated Antagonist status, this tendency seems to be limited only to Ferris (it's implied that no one even realized Cameron was missing, and when Jeannie ditches school later on, it only gets a brief acknowledgement from the secretary), and that he's motivated more out of a personal vendetta against Ferris than any desire to give an education — he merely wants to prove Ferris is skipping school (as opposed to being genuinely sick) so that he can keep Ferris from graduating. He also takes it upon himself to break into the Buellers' house.
- Mr. Hand in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. On the night of the graduation dance he comes to Spicoli's house.
According to my calculations, Mr. Spicoli, you wasted a total of eight hours of my time this year. And rest assured that is a kind estimate. Now, Mr. Spicoli, comes a rare moment for me. Now I have the unique pleasure of squaring our account. Tonight, you and I are going to talk in great detail about the Davis Agreement, all the associated treaties, and the American Revolution in particular. Now if you can just turn to Chapter 47 of Lord of Truth And Liberty.
- Mr. Strickland in Back to the Future. It is shown that in the 30 years he's been working at the school, he spent most of it patrolling the corridors, watching for late students whom he calls "slackers".
- Zhang Yimou's film Not One Less. Wei Minzhi is told not to lose any students. When one of the boys takes off in search of work in the big city, she goes looking for him.
- The progtagonist of Goodbye, Mr. Chips continues teaching his class, reading them a translation of Ceasar, while they're all crouched under their tables during a German air raid.
- Lean on Me plays Principal Joe Clark as a heroic example of this.
- Return From Witch Mountain has Yo-yo, a bus driver who doggedly pursues the gang of truant kids.
Live Action TV
- In one Pogo strip, Pogo is taking the Pup-Dog and the Rackedy-Coon Child fishing, and Deacon Mushrat shows up to tell them they ought to be in school. In his own words, "I'm everything from truant officer to principal."
- The teachers and prefects in Bully turn into this if they see you truanting or breaking curfew.
- Similar to the Ranma parody, the Moperville North Principal in El Goonish Shive is fanatical about his new uniforms (right up until parents complain), and the importance of murals. He seems to think everything else will follow naturally from that.
- Perry Bible Fellowship has a truancy bot collect children on the spring break.
- Ex-Green Beret Principal Skinner in The Simpsons who once tracked Bart across Springfield (even climbing a cliff and walking through a river after Bart cut the rope bridge over it) to get Bart back to class. Bart, upon seeing this, gives us the Buffy Speak Trope Namer line. (The joke being that he was set up to say "Invincible Principal.")
- Mr. Lancer in Danny Phantom is bent that his students focus on the Northwestern Nine standardized testing that he calls SWAT teams on them when they get distracted by a popular singer so they can all be house arrested (and presumably, study in preparation). Both Lancer and the principal installed advanced tutoring computers in order to get all the students to pass.
- In some of the older Disney cartoons, Donald Duck was often seen playing an implacable truant officer trying to get his nephews to school (sort of ironic considering Donald himself had a truancy problem in an earlier short, and had to have his good angel literally boot him in the butt to be well behaved).
- Once he finally managed to get his nephews to school, but it turned out to be closed for the summer holidays.
- Casper the Friendly Ghost: Like in the above case, Little Audrey spent most of an episode trying to avoid a truant officer. Once he finally caught her, he learned the school was closed for a holiday. To make up for it, he helped Audrey with her fishing.
- Fairly OddParents: Truant Officer Shallowgrave goes to whatever length to ensure kids go to school. But the principal has to pay extra to bring them back alive. Shallowgrave appeared in two episodes so far. In the first, he spent most of it chasing Timmy Turner, only to learn Timmy was with Adam West and that Timmy's parents don't mind it. In the second episode, it was revealed the incident cost Shallowgrave his job as a truant officer and he became a drill sergeant at F.U.N. (For Unruly Ne'er-do-well) Academy.
- Magilla Gorilla: Ricochet Rabbit and his deputy once acted as truant officers to take Dastardly Dolton to school. (He's a suspected criminal as well but nothing has been proven). Once they caught him, the teacher read the records and found out they also hadn't finished school.
- Huckleberry Hound spent most of an episode trying to catch a pair of twin truants. In the end, his efforts paid off and the principal comments that it should have been no problem for someone who went to school. Huck said he's never been to school and was forced to attend.
- In the non-silent era of Pink Panther, there was a story where Pink was a teacher and the Principal ordered him to make a troublemaker interested in school. Pink took the boy to a park and the Principal followed them to get proof to convince his superior to fire Pink. In the end, not only an accident destroyed his proof but his superior, who was the boy's grandmother, fired him.
- The Screwy Truant has Screwy Squirrel pursued by a truant officer dog— who only finds out after catching him that Screwy was out of school due to having measles.
- Bugs Bunny impersonated a truant officer in "Bewitched Bunny". Subverted in that he was rescuing Hansel and Gretel from Witch Hazel.
- Truant Officer Langley Turk in the Fillmore! episode "Field Trip of the Just". He plunges all the way into Inspector Javert territory, hunting Fillmore all the across the city and ignoring the fact that Fillmore had a note from the prinicipal permitting him to be out of school; having decided on the basis of Fillmore's old record that it must be a forgery.