Oh no! Picture day is coming and, unfortunately for you, you're in a sitcom. You'll probably have to duck through a Food Fight
to stay clean
, or go to drastic measures to fix the unholy mess your hair has become, or find a way to change out of the lame outfit your mom made you wear. Either that or you are simply faced with the pimple OF DOOM
Either way, you are screwed.
Many shows about kids or set in school will eventually have a plot based around Picture Day and a character's best efforts to not have an embarrassing photo of himself or herself taken for publication, because not only will the photographer never
take more than one photo, but the Yearbook editor
is always your nemesis
who will make sure that your picture will be as humiliatingly noticeable in the book as possible.
May result in a character being Forced into Their Sunday Best
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- In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin has Hobbes use Crisco in his hair to give him big hair spikes "like... like... Astro Boy."
- Calvin originally used the Crisco to slick his hair into a curlicue. His mother freaked out and combed it down so it looked neat. While waiting for the bus, Calvin lamented to Hobbes how it looked, so Hobbes put the spikes in his hair.
- The subject of several FoxTrot strips. One of the best has Peter ending up with a faceful of mud while retrieving his trademark baseball cap.
- In Europe, we have no yearbooks: class pictures are collective◊. You can still play with that single picture as in Le Petit Spirou (Little Spirou), the Spinoff Babies of Spirou and Fantasio. The day the photographer came, he found the class costumed in ridiculous fancy-dresses. On purpose.
- In addition to its title, Picture Day invokes the trope directly: Henry gets his yearbook picture taken the day after his friend (and former babysitter) Claire dyes his hair blue as part of an edgy makeover.
- Used in a chapter of the Horrible Harry series of books.
- Junie B. Jones had picture day at her school once. She refuses to smile for the photographer and causes various kinds of trouble.
- One of the things found in the office of Dr. Cruces, head of the Assassins' Guild, in Men at Arms is iconographs of graduated classes, with the notation that someone was making a funny face and "there's always one."
Live Action TV
- Leave It to Beaver: An episode, aptly titled "The School Picture," was based around Picture Day, and 10-year-old Beaver and his buddy, Gilbert, conspiring to make funny faces as the photographer snaps the photo. When it comes time to actually take the picture, Gilbert has second thoughts and wisely decides not to pull the immature trick. Beaver follows through, and the resulting proof is one that makes Mrs. Rayburn — and Ward, when he sees it — very angry. Ward sternly tells Beaver that such a picture reflects badly on the whole school, not just him, and shows disrespect. Fortunately, the photography studio comes to the rescue, as the photographer has stock clip art on hand, placing a hair ribbon on the head of a little girl that was standing in front of Beaver. (Remember, this episode was produced in an era more than 30 years before digital photography was invented, and camera film was a rather expensive commodity in the early 1960s, precluding the photographer from taking another photo.)
- The Brady Bunch: The classic sitcom had a couple, although not necessarily focused on school picture day per se:
- The Not-So-Rosed-Colored Glasses was centered on a family portrait of the kids (as an anniversary gift for their Mike and Carol), an absent-minded photographer, a near-sighted Jan crashing into and ruining the photograph with her bicycle, the absent-minded photographer losing the negative and forcing a retake of the photo, Jan wearing her glasses for the new picture (she had not gotten the glasses when the original was snapped) and Mike immediatley noticing the difference.
- Law and Disorder, where Bobby wears his good suit for a school yearbook photo of Clinton Avenue Elementary School's safety monitors. (The photo-taking session is not an integral part of the script. Bobby's decision to trespass into a condemned house to retrieve a classmate's kitty while wearing the suit, getting the suit dirty and then trying to wash the suit himself to conceal his actions were.)
- CBS Schoolbreak Special: The 1984 episode "The Alfred G. Graebner Memorial High School of Rules and Regulations" includes a sequence of students having their school pictures taken. Mostly, these are comical reactions to the students' willingness to have their pictures taken.
- Lizzie McGuire also had an episode based around Picture Day. Lizzie wanted to find a way out of being forced to wear the hideous green unicorn sweater her grandmother gave her for Christmas, and Kate had a classmate throw paint at Miranda because she didn't want her to be photographed wearing the same trendy outfit she was. Lizzie Took The Bullet, metaphorically speaking, and ended up posing in the paint-splattered blouse she had borrowed while holding up the sweater. Her parents reluctantly admitted that she did have the sweater in the photo, and at least they'll be able to save money on buying prints this year.
- An episode of Neds Declassified dealt with Picture Day. Among other items, he points out that it's unnecessary to dress up from the waist down.
- Unfabulous also had an episode based on Picture Day, where the main character messed up her hair while trying to dye it.
- Degrassi Junior High had one.
- Clarissa Explains It All had an episode like this where Clarissa wanted to wear her trademark cool clothes instead of the conservative navy cardigan, pleated skirt and knee socks all the girls were required to wear.
- On Even Stevens, Ren was excited to get her braces off on picture day. Unfortunately, some dental medication caused her cheeks to swell up enormously.
- Malcolm in the Middle did this.
- In That 70s Show, the picture day showed the gang's history. And Eric got a zit.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: all regular characters are shown striking characteristic poses for the photographer... except for the heroine herself, who is busy Slaying and ends up left out of the yearbook altogether.
- Cordelia was supposed to tell her it was picture day but didn't, which lead to Buffy competing against her for the Homecoming Queen crown.
- Freaks and Geeks: The opening credits, although the effect comes from the characters' facial expressions rather than their actual appearance.
- Raising Dad had an episode set on Picture Day but instead of being the main setting, it led into a plot about Sarah being uncomfortable about her appearance and considering getting a nose job.
- On Sister Sister, Tamera suffered an allergic reaction to a new moisturizer and asked Tia to stand in for her. "Tamera" was voted Class Beauty, while "Tia's" picture was a close-up view of her forehead as she bent to tie her shoe.
- Homestar Runner has a particularly odd example: in the 14th "Teen Girl Squad", we learn the yearbook picture was scheduled for the same day as "Tape-a-dead-thing-to-your-face day".
- But oddly enough (and it even says this in the wiki), the other pictures don't have a dead thing taped to their faces.
- This strip of Loserz.
- In Ozy and Millie, Millie tried to dye her hair band because she didn't like the color for Picture Day, and ended dyeing her entire face black (which, Millie being Millie, she thought was COOL).
- In El Goonish Shive, Sarah was stuck as a catgirl during picture week. This was never seen, merely referred to as the Noodle Incident, and only much later explained.
- Recess had one where Gus tried to remain clean long enough to take his first class picture. The episode becomes a grand send-up to bodyguard films as his friends try valiantly to protect him through the day.
- Dexter's Laboratory had a humorous variant where Dexter gave himself a wax face to look good. He grew so vain with the lighting in his picture that the face melted off under the heat of the lamps.
- Done on Arthur, based around Muffy's attempts to keep Francine neat and tidy for Picture Day. However, it seems Francine is unable to resist playing kickball.
- Code Lyoko has one in episode "Missing Link", complete with Sissi pretending to be Yumi so that the latter isn't absent on the photo.
- Kim Possible has one that naturally involves a Clingy MacGuffin turning Kim into a monkey.
- Which winds up even worse than it sounds: Ron, knowing Kim is turning into a monkey, guides an actual monkey to the camera. So the picture in the yearbook isn't even Kim-as-a-monkey.
- In Braceface, the heroine's braces broke the camera.
- It also turned up on The Simpsons a few times.
- Bart had lice and Milhouse got some disease from being bitten by a monkey...
- Not to mention Lisa's archaic braces in ''"Last Exit to Springfield". "There is no God!"
- South Park has Butters getting grounded for putting a stupid face. Initially, you think it's because his Idiot Hair sprung up at the wrong moment. Then you find out that's because his dad thinks Butters' face is stupid by default.
- It's also the first (?) time we see Kyle's Jewfro.
- And of course Kenny takes his picture with his butt (instead of his face) peeking out of his parka, starting off a story line about finding Ben Affleck.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: In fact, SpongeBob is perpetually failing boating school simply so they can use it for School Tropes.
- The episode with the same name as this trope involves SpongeBob trying to stay clean, unsuccessfully of course, for his Boating School class photo.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy, "Smile for the Ed": Eddy tries to get a good school picture, so his mom will let him move into his big brother's old bedroom. Unfortunately, an ill-timed cry of "Dork!" from Jerk Jock Kevin puts a crimp in his plans.
- An episode of Ozzy and Drix involves the titular characters to kill the acne causing germ in order to prevent the human host Hector from getting an embarrassing school photo with a pimple on his forehead.
- In one episode, Doug was afraid to get his picture taken because he thought he had a big nose.
- As Told by Ginger has Ginger and her friends wanting to look more mature for their school photos, but their parents won't let them wear makeup. They try to get around this by blending berries and spices together to create "fakeup" and apply it in the school bathrooms just before picture time. The results are... not pretty.
- The Life and Times of Juniper Lee episode literally called "Picture Day" features the usual problems of the trope (zit on the forehead, etc.) with evil clones of June and her friends and her younger brother dressed as Abe Lincoln for his photo. neither of which was unusual for the Urban Fantasy it takes place in. Ray-Ray apparently has a history of acting up on picture day, like most days.
- Seen on PB&J Otter - Peanut and Jelly try to keep their sister Baby Butter from getting Covered in Mud. "We need to find some good clean fun!"