Ordinary High-School Student
"I am Shirahama Kenichi, an extremely ordinary first-year high school student who loves reading books and growing flowers. But, for some reason now, I'm locked in a desperate battle on top of a speeding bus!"
The most common protagonist of a show targeted at teenagers.
Whether or not they discover their Powers in the First Episode
or merely receive a Call to Adventure
that sends them on a quest for their true nature
, it usually quickly becomes apparent they are anything but ordinary.
They're revealed to be reincarnated ancient heroes or alien princesses Raised by Humans
. They suddenly find a use for the obscure skill or art
they've been practicing since they could walk, or they discover their entire life has been a Secret Test of Character
to prepare them for a great responsibility
. They find out their Secret Legacy
as heirs to a Badass Family
of demon hunters, wizards, or Yakuza
. They find an ancient mystical MacGuffin
in their attic, buy one for a few coins from a junk dealer, or are given one by a mysterious stranger on their Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday
. They suddenly gain a Trickster Mentor
or a Magical Girlfriend
. They establish secret identities as a Henshin Hero
or a Magical Girl Warrior
, find a way to channel Ki Attacks
, summon a powerful Guardian Entity
or fall into the cockpit
of a Humongous Mecha
Sometimes, instead of Taking A Level In Badass
, they merely become a Weirdness Magnet
- for example, they gain something
that makes the opposite sex flock to them
, and possibly the odd member of their own
, whether they want the attention or not.
Sometimes they're actually gods
. And sometimes they are true average joes who simply have something unusual happen to them, and then nothing in their lives is ever the same again.
Either way, now they have to Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World
Look for the kid in the fully open button shirt over a T-shirt, jeans and Converse sneakers
See Farm Boy
for their rural counterpart. Many, MANY animes live off this trope.
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Anime & Manga
- Peter Parker, which was revolutionary at the time. A sidekick-aged protagonist?!
- Inverted in Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, however, in which Mary Jane — the protagonist — actually is an ordinary high-school student.
- Doug Ramsey was a kid from suburban New York who was good at languages, and didn't know any different until he was informed by an acquaintance from the odd boarding school nearby that he was in fact a mutant with powers of... comprehending languages... and dragged out of bed in the middle of the night to come establish communications with a potentially hostile alien.
- The Runaways were all normal teenagers... who in the course of a night watched their parents kill a young woman, discovered superpowers/super gadgets/a telepathic dinosaur, fought off their parents, and ended up becoming runaways living in an underground mansion.
- Jaime Reyes, the current Blue Beetle in The DCU. One day he's just hanging out with his friends, the next he gets bonded to an alien symbiote, helps Batman save infinite universes, and goes missing for a year, yet he still manages to come off as more of a normal kid than 90% of other teenage superheroes in comics.
- Mineko from Helios Eclipse.
- For a while Tim Drake was this being just a regular, although brilliant, kid who through diligent detective work uncovered the secret identity of the first Robin and through him Batman and the second Robin. Even after taking up the mantle and becoming the third Robin he still fit the mold for a good portion of his career; his change didn't come until Identity Crisis led to his father's death.
- Putri from an Indonesian comic Satu Atap is an ordinary human who lived with a demon, elf, forest fairy, a were-tiger, and a merman.
- Dave Lizewski from Kick-Ass, supposedly. He makes it very clear in the beginning that there's nothing special about him that would lead him to become a superhero. He just does it because he's bored. But he makes the case that he's so ordinary by listing a bunch of things that normal high-schoolers do and then pointing out that he's ordinary because he doesn't do any of them.
- Justin is one in Kira Is Justice besides for the fact he is a Shrinking Violet and a little smarter than normal...until he receives the Death Note.
- Mary Jane Watson of Ultimate Spider Woman was an Ordinary College Student when she began to develop her bizarre superhuman abilities, and continues to be one even as she tries to juggle a superhero career along with it.
- Jorge from The Secret Life Of The Backyard Kids. Except he's not in high school, he's in middle school.
- Fan fiction for The Lord of the Rings has a genre of stories about ordinary girls who fall into Middle-earth. Some stories use a high school student. Some stories are Self-Insert Fic by a high schooler. When a student arrives in Middle-earth, she no longer goes to school.
- The Awkward Adventures of Meghan Whimblesby are about a nineteen-year-old high school student from South Carolina. Meghan was in class when she fainted from the sight of blood and somehow woke in Middle-earth.
- In How To Survive In Middle Earth When You're A Teenaged Girl, Priscilla is the teenaged girl of seventeen years from a cattle ranch near Magnolia, Texas. The story did not show Priscilla in school, but it was summer, when most schools have summer break.
- In Time Will Tell, Jorryn is sixteen years old when she falls into the Shire. This happens, not during school, but during the summer holiday of 2001. Jorryn is only four feet and five inches, short, but taller than a hobbit. Other than that, Jorryn is a generic girl from some small town in the USA.
- There are few of these floating around about these kinds of people being thrown into the world of RWBY. The Fan fiction RWBYReckoning is considered by quite a few as suprisingly well written.
- Inverted in Harry Potter, as everyone knows that he's special from the start—except him.
- Battle Royale
- Subverted in Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series, in which the protagonist essentially becomes the heir to the House (the "epicentre of creation", the denizens of which give our universe about the same casual interest as a rather exciting zoo) simply because he almost died on the right day. That's right kids. This kid essentially becomes God by nearly dying.
- Bella Swan in Twilight. Until she falls in love with a vampire — or more to the point, the vampire falls for her.
- In the lovely juvenile novel Wings by Bill Britain, the main character is an Ordinary High School Student who inexplicably develops a huge pair of fully functional bat-like wings.
- Mia from The Princess Diaries is an Ordinary High-School Student who turns out to be a Princess of a minor European Principality. Unfortunately, it is not the case that Everything's Better with Princesses.
- Jerry Renault, unexpected instigator of The Chocolate War.
- The Animorphs. Ordinary middle/high school kids whose lives are changed forever when they decide to take a shortcut through a construction site.
- In the Alex Rider series, British teen spy Alex Rider gets a lot of flak from his teachers after spending too much time "off sick" — though the obliviousness of everyone else does stretch credulity after Alex, having used a school trip to investigate a GM facility, escapes by jumping onto the roof of the coach as it leaves the now-badly damaged building. When he uses a toilet break as a way of getting on board properly, the teachers barely say a word.
- The DHIs in Kingdom Keepers
- The Percy Jackson series does this. Although, to be fair, he is an Ordinary MIDDLE SCHOOL student.
- In fact, almost all the demi-gods fit into this trope. Why? Because most of them don't survive longer than that. Ouch.
- Neal Shusterman's Scorpion Shards trilogy features a group of ordinary teenagers who turn out to be shards of a far-off star born as humans to eventually save the world.
- The Eyes of Kid Midas (also by Neal Shusterman) stars an Ordinary Middle School Student. Close enough.
- Stuck's Tre Listman is also an Ordinary Middle School Student. At first, anyway.
- Ben was this before he was Trapped on Draconica and in defiance of what almost always happens next, he stays ordinary. By the time he finds out that he has a unique power to travel between worlds, at the end of the story, Dronor says he has to take it away from him to make sure a villain never gets their hand on it again.
- Tsuruhara Iori and Aragaki Koji in War and Snowflakes. Aragaki, it is revealed, is not so ordinary: he had been conscripted to be a titan pilot until a training accident made him unable to be a pilot, and left him with uncanny mechanical abilities.
- The Exile's Violin: When the story begins, Jacquie is on her way home from school. The school itself is never seen because her life is blown up and she goes straight to vocational training, so to speak, under her foster father. Occasionally she'll reflect back to this time with regret and lost opportunities.
- David Rain from The Last Dragon Chronicles is an Ordinary College Student. For awhile...
- Played with in Strength & Justice: the story starts with Jeremy Itsubishi's role as a law enforcement cadet with Improbable Aiming Skills as his superpower. It's only after that we find out he's a high school student as well. Then he's pulled into the main conflict, playing the trope straight.
- initially subverted, then played straight in Un Lun Dun. Zanna is said to be obviously special to all who see her, and she is the "Shwazzy," the prophesied savior of Un Lun Dun. Until she is attacked and her memory of Un London is removed. Then her friend Deeba, the completely normal, non-prophesied highschooler must save the city instead.
Live Action TV
- Roswell had this as the main hook for the series (and helped pioneer the genre). Max in particular strives to as "average" as possible
- Claire Bennet of Heroes.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. True of the Scoobies, but not so much Buffy herself; she knows at the start of the series that she's the Slayer.
- Nickelodeon's The Troop plays this straight and hard with Jake.
- Joan of Arcadia talks to and does missions for God.
- The premise of every Disney Channel show, ever. "S/he's a just a normal high schooler; except that s/he's really (a psychic, a teen popstar, a wizard, an alien, twins living in a hotel, a man/woman, etc)!"
- iCarly on Nickelodeon has ordinary high school students hosting an internationally popular hit webshow.
- The Vampire Diaries - Elena, Matt, Bonnie, Caroline, Tyler, Jeremy. This all changes when all of the characters start to develop their own individual identities.
- Veronica Mars - a normal high school student...and a private eye.
- Alex from The Secret World of Alex Mack. She even says "I was just another average kid until an accident changed my life" in the opening credits. It's also worth noting that she wore a similar outfit to the one described above on the day she was soaked with the chemicals that gave her superpowers.
- Spellbinder - the main character, Paul, gets trapped in a parallel world during a school field trip, and his arrival is a catalyst that causes political upheaval in the otherwordly society. His friends Alex and Katrina have to juggle school as they work to bring him back.
- Pete, Linda and Bronson in Round the Twist turn out to be Weirdness Magnets - a lot of the supernatural shenanigans they attract happen at their local school.
- H2O: Just Add Water - three, ordinary teenage girls suddenly realise they have the ability to turn into mermaids whenever they're splashed with water, and this is accompanied by elemental powers.
- Scott Mc Call from Teen Wolf was an ordinary high school student (and asthmatic, no less, which severely curtailed his attempts to make the lacrosse team) until he was bitten by a werewolf.
- Sabrina from Sabrina the Teenage Witch was just a normal high school girl until her sixteenth birthday, when her witch half manifested itself.
- Maria, Kelsey, Clyde and Rani from The Sarah Jane Adventures. Clyde and Rani do have distinct talents, however- Clyde's a splendid sketch artist and Rani has great journalism skills. Maria is more the average protagonist until actor Yasmin Paige's own academic life persuaded her to leave the show. Kelsey was just a pilot-only character who got a Second Episode Substitute in the form of Clyde because there were too many females in the cast... and she was a bit bratty, too. Luke and Sky don't fit this trope as they were created to be extraordinary. In fact, Luke ends up going right into college because of his high intelligence.
- The Power Rangers are teenagers with attitude by definition, although some seasons such as Power Rangers Time Force have them as full-time heroes who only have to maintain a civilian identity for the purpose of blending in.
- Hao Xuan, or so he claims, from School Shock when the school is over run with terrorists and he finds himself in a hostage situation, only to be saved by Liu Lu who's new mission (after defecting the terrorists) is to protect him as he is a "Child of Eden", something that a lot of dangerous people seem to be after.
- Emma Grayson of The Elysium Project is an ordinary teenage girl who happens to be the daughter of the creator of the eponymous Elysium formula, a Super Serum which grants people reality-bending powers, and as a result ends up getting exposed to the formula and targeted by the villains.
- Kyo Kusanagi in The King of Fighters, although as the series went on his high school student image was dropped entirely (it's also been implied that he never attends high school at all due to his constant fighting).
- And according to the Maximum Impact series, he's spent so much time fighting and training that he still hasn't graduated from high school.
- Soma Cruz from Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. The game specifically says he is a high school student on a foreign exchange trip to Japan. The reincarnation of Dracula.
- Kazama Jin from Tekken started out somewhat ordinary, but things haven't been exactly going well since. Ling Xiaoyu is a milder example. The Tekken 5 ending for Kazama Asuka suggests she might be more than just a brawler, too.
- Kasugano Sakura seems like a typical schoolgirl enamored with a rough famous fighter. Aside from the fact that instead of trying to date him, she prefers mirroring his moves as best she can. Including martial-arts fireballs. Everybody in Rival Schools.
- Fei from Xenogears plays almost every part of this troupe. Yeah, he knew martial arts but he thought it was just "normal" martial arts. Besides knowing martial arts that can destroy God and giant robots, he's also the only one that can pilot a special gears, which turns out to be the super ultra special one in the title. He is also secretly one of the most powerful beings in the game's universe, whom "God" gave his power to. While he is utterly oblivious to all or this at the beginning, he also has several split personalities. One of which has shut himself off from the world, and another which is an utter sociopath who makes full use of his godly power.
- Many (though not all) recent Shin Megami Tensei games feature Ordinary High School Students as protagonists. Something usually happens to make them considerably less ordinary, such as finding a computer that can summon demons, learning to call forth entities from the inside of their mind, being forced to share their body with a Devil Summoner, or being turned into a demon after witnessing the end of the world.
- Lan Hikari and Geo Stelar, but the latter fits better the description. None of them are high-schoolers, but close enough.
- Even Disgaea can't stay away from this one. Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten introduces Fuka Kazamatsuri, a human girl who thinks that her adventures in the Netherworld are just an elaborate dream, including the part where she's actually dead and supposed to be a Prinny.
- Darren Michaels is this in the second Black Mirror game.
- Makoto Naegi from Dangan Ronpa is this in a nutshell. In his intro, he keeps re-iterating how normal and unremarkable he is, almost saying the trope word-for-word. He's overtly plain compared to the rest of the cast of crazy characters.
- Link and Zelda start out as students at a knight academy in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.
- Valis heroine Yuko Ahso is an ordinary high school student in the human world who becomes a Valis warrior in a Magical Land.
- A few protagonists are this in the Super Robot Wars series. Most notable is Touya Shun of Super Robot Wars Judgement who was an Ordinary High School student (who went to school with the protagonists of Mazinkaiser and Full Metal Panic!) until a Humongous Mecha crashed into his school.
- Hiroyuki in To Heart.
- Played with in the Nasuverse, where Shiki and Shirou know they are not ordinary, yet fail to realize the full extent of how extraordinary they are.
- Takeru in ''Muv-Luv' is a typical harem protagonist who is dragged into an alternate crapsack universe
- Battler, from Umineko no Naku Koro ni. All his powers to "fight" witches were granted by the witch herself, at least at first. The 'student' part of him has not much focus, though, as the story take place in his off day with him getting killed and all.
- Ethan Kairos in Time Hollow is completely ordinary. He just happens to be the latest in the line of his family to receive the power to adjust history via a special pen.
- The English manual quotes this trope exactly, describing him as an "ordinary high school student".
- The Ultimate Luckster, Makoto Naegi of Dangan Ronpa, considered himself one, since he was picked to go to elite academy Hope's Peak by winning a lottery. His only outstanding trait is that he tends to be more optimistic than others. Not so ordinary anymore when that same optimism helps defeat the Mastermind, Junko Enoshima, the Ultimate Despair.
- Hajime Hinata and Nagito Komaeda of the sequel game can also qualify, at least at first. Despite Komaeda's title being the same as Naegi's and the fact that he got into Hope's Peak under the exact same circumstances (lottery), he's stated to have legitimate, extreme fluctuations between good luck and bad luck. Hinata, however, is revealed to have no outstanding talent, and is actually an Ordinary High School Student from one of the reserve groups. At least, before his transformation...
- Matt N Dusty has Matt. No magic powers, no super-intelligence, no respect from anyone.
- Darkbolt: The lead three characters (Naoko, Mariko, and Yun) start out as this before being force-bonded to demons trapped in small little orbs.
- Megatokyo: Sonoda Yuki is actually a Magical Girl.
- Mike Cosley from Bardsworth.
- Kanzaki Kei from Circumstances of the Revenant Braves, more so than any other character.
- Sarah from El Goonish Shive is, to her regret, the only member of her group of friends who isn't a shapeshifter, witch, mad scientist, or martial artist of some kind.
- For most of the first story arc, Elliot does indeed seem to be an ordinary student with a weird friend, but it's progressively revealed that he's far more unusual than that.
- Catalina appears to be pretty normal too, though she's not shown up much past her introduction.
- Ash and Emily from Misfile, until Rumisiel got stoned while in charge of the Celestial Files. Wackyness Ensued.
- Divided Sky, like so many other tropes, lampshades it.
- Uma from Everyday Heroes. To everyone else, she's perfectly normal.
- Iris Kolrick and Jacob Freeman from Shadownova. Iris is later revealed to be an Esper with pyrokinesis but Jacob is truly ordinary.
- Agatha Clay is an ordinary (if exceptionally clumsy) student at Transylvania U., raised by completely ordinary parents. Until it turns out her father is a famous hero, her mother is some kind of evil goddess, the most powerful man in Europa wants to imprison her (while his son would like to "form a mutual alliance" with her), and she might cause an apocalyptic disaster just by existing. She stops being "ordinary" pretty fast.
- Hatsune Rondo of Mayonaka Densha, until her transportation back to Victorian London.
- Bittersweet Candy Bowl has a cast of them.
- Yuri Mikagami in the round-robin story Dark Heart High. A bit of a subversion as its revealed in the very first scene that her father is a retired Evil Overlord. (A non human one at that!)
- As far as Survival of the Fittest goes, it would be easier to list exceptions, since everyone in the entire cast is an Ordinary High School Student. For example, Johnathan Michaels of V2 was a world champion boxer and Renee Valenti of V3 a burgeoning movie star.
- Nick Reilly, Bill Wilson, Tony Chandler... A lot of the kids who become mutants and then go to Superhero School Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe.
- The main character in The Finite Life of a Dating Sim Heroine is one of these.
- Yu Jin of TAL. Partly subverted however when Ei Mae Tal tells him he likely is older than he thinks.
- Taylor from Worm used to be one. Then she got superpowers.
- Danny Phantom
- Ben 10: Ben was an Ordinary Elementary School Student, but was the star of the (apparently hugely popular for high school) soccer team at the end of the Time Skip.
- Well, he was the goalie anyway.
- Code Lyoko: Every member of the group is an Ordinary Student, though Jeremie is the only one who can use the Supercomputer, Aelita is the only member who can deactivate towers, and the other three are her protectors.
- Aelita's status is a lot more complicated; she didn't start out ordinary in any sense.
- Oddly enough, William is an actual Ordinary Student until Season 3. Debate has been going on for quite some time on several fan forums as to whether he's still a Warrior or an Ordinary Student in the series finale.
- Kim Possible...sort of. Right from the start she's insanely overachieving, even besides the Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World stuff, though her sidekick Ron fits the trope a bit better.
- Terry McGinnis in Batman Beyond.
- Freakazoid!s Dexter Douglas - 'Nerd computer ace, when surfing on the internet he got zapped into cyber space! He turned into the Freakazoid! He's strong and super-quick!' is an excellent example, as Dexter didn't ask for his powers, and indeed Freakazoid is an entirely separate personality from Dexters.
- Doug Funnie is an Ordinary Elementary School Student in the Nick show, and Ordinary Middle School Student in the Disney one.
- Presley in Mummies Alive! is an Ordinary Student as well.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Twilight Sparkle grew up a student studying in magic and friendship. In the movie, however, she is sent on a mission to another world through a Magic Mirror, and the accompanying metamorphosis left her as a powerless human in high school.
- Virgil from Static Shock was this, until the Big Bang gave him (and a bunch of other people) superpowers.