Series: Degrassi aka: Degrassi The Next Generation
Whatever it takes, I know I can make it through.
Formerly titledDegrassi: The Next Generation, Degrassi is a Canadian Teen Drama about a group of kids in a Toronto high school and the problems they face. The franchise started in 1979 as the mini-series The Kids of Degrassi Street, it has gone through severalincarnations since then. The current version started in 2001 and has some of the kid actors from the 1980s show as adults. Produced and aired in Canada by CTV (2001-09), MuchMusic (2010-2013), MTV (2013-present); it airs in the US on the Nickelodeon-owned cable network TeenNick (formerly The N).This show is very much like a Soap Opera, with constantly shifting relationships and angst, but can be as serious as a regular television drama. On the plus side, the Soap Opera format lets it go much deeper and more long-term than the average show about teens (no solving problems in twenty minutes, and most of the kids have gone through real Character Development).On the negative side, the show is as melodramatic as adult soaps. Hardly an episode goes by without one of the kids catching a social disease, escaping their house before it burns down, being diagnosed as bipolar, cutting themselves, losing all of their friends in a single night, getting beaten into a coma, shooting up the school, etc. In the very first episode, Emma narrowly avoids getting raped by a pedophile she met online (and Emma's mother got pregnant with her as a teen on the 1980s show). There are times when it feels like one giant stretched out into a Story Arc (except that the very special problem isn't resolved in twenty minutes).However, the show is worth watching for three reasons. First, this is one of the few exceptions to Dawson Casting; the teenage characters are all (or at least, mostly) played by actual teenagers, and they're very good actors, lately coming to the series with years of experience in other TV productions, often alongside each other. Many Degrassi alums have gone on to star in American teen dramas and movies, despite now beingin their twenties. Second, despite the famed Anvilicious-ness of the show, some of the lessons taught by the show arereallyimportant for the teenage audience. Degrassi is usually cited as one of the few "earnest" Teen Dramas and the show has won a Peabody in 2011 for the portrayal of Adam, the first regular transgender character in the history of teen television. It's also one of the few teen dramas to be nominated for an Emmy two years in a row (in 2011 and 2012). Thirdly, the show has a very teenage morality (or what the writers assume to be one anyway) — tattling on other teens is portrayed as a bigger sin than bullying or stealing, for example. This means that a Family-Unfriendly Aesop is as common as a straight one, and although the show is extremely preachy, it's not predictable.Starting in the 10th season, the show is using with a daily telenovela format for the first 24 episodes of the season. There's also a episode recap page that needs some wiki love. Boycott The Caf is a website that gives humorously skewed reviews and summaries of Degrassi episodes, and is a fountain of fandom in-jokes.Also known as being the show rapper/singer Aubrey "Drake" Graham was once a cast member of, though he refused to acknowledge this until he hosted Saturday Night Live in early 2014.
Liberty is presented as this in the early seasons when she falls for Sean and starts trying (painfully unsuccessfully) to seem like a "bad girl" in order to impress him. Subverted when Sean introduces her to Trey "Towerz" Hightower, who does not consider her abhorrent at all.
When Connor expresses interest in Clare, she sees him this way, especially after he becomes violent towards Alli and poorly handles her rejection.
Love Queen 16, Connor's online friend, exaggerates about her age and good looks on the internet.
Arguably, Imogen starts off as this towards Eli, who wants nothing to do with any woman besides Clare. By the beginning of season eleven, Eli has a change of heart and sees her as a legitimate romantic option.
Aborted Arc: The whole plot with Clare interning at the Toronto Interpreter and getting sexually assaulted by her boss, Asher, was completely dropped from the rest of the twelfth season and never brought up again. The only closure was that she and another accuser are going to the police.
After being dumped for Jenna, Clare makes a declaration that she's going to win KC back setting up a rivalry with Jenna. Clare never makes any attempt to win KC back and the storyline is largely forgotten after the introduction of Eli as Clare's new love interest.
At the end of Season 12, Zig and Maya seem to finally be on the road to starting a relationship after getting passed the love quadrangle drama with Tori and Cam. Fast forward to Season 13 and Zig is gone and is replaced by Miles (Zig would return later in the season but only to bemoan the fact that Maya is still choosing other guys over him).
Another one often referenced is from the Season 7 episode "Talking in Your Sleep". Paige ends up sleeping with Griffin. Later she finds out he has HIV. She gets tested and is told by doctors that she won't know the results for 6 months. Griffin unceremoniously disappears from the show shortly after this revelation when Paige reveals she is moving out, and there is never any follow-up on Paige's results. Actress Lauren Collins who played Paige has referenced this plothole jokingly a few times on her Twitter.
Adam was just beginning hormone replacement therapy and his physical transition from female-to-male when he died in a car accident. Must have been a convenient way to deal with the actress who played Adam not being transgender herself.
Above the Influence: Sean in the season 1 finale, at least in fanon. Played straight in Rock This Town.
Eli when Clare wants to stay over at his house (and implicitly, sleep with him) because her parents are divorcing. He turns her down, saying she's not ready to lose her virginity. And also to hide from her that his room is full of trash because he's a hoarder.
Craig runs away in early seasons because his father hits him.
When Ellie's father leaves for Iraq, her mother's alcoholism becomes out of control. She ignores Ellie, leaving her to fend for herself, and is emotionally abusive on the rare occasion when she is actually awake. Ellie moves in with Shawn for a while after her mother leaves the stove on before passing out, which causes a fire. Unlike most abusive parents in the series, however, Mrs. Nash makes a commitment to change and sticks to it.
K.C.'s parents are presented as abusive in season eight. Subverted when his mother goes to rehab and becomes a kind and responsible parent.
Despite the assumption that Jane hates her father for leaving the family, in season eight it is revealed that he sexually abused her as a child.
Absurdly Powerful Student Council: The student council is apparently unsupervised and the Student Council President and class reps seem like they make the school run alongside the faculty. They plan dances, fundraise and get Natasha Bedingfield to perform at prom. The president is widely respected and the student council races are intense.
Academic Athlete: Jane Vaughan is a skilled football player and the Valedictorian of her class. Her plan is to become a lawyer. This is also the same case for Katie, who is not only on the soccer team, but is in karate, the school newspaper, and is student council president.
Accidental Pervert: JT staring at Craig's penis. Then Craig saw JT, Toby, and Danny come out of the stall. I'm sure Craig was convinced Manny was The Beard.
Adam Westing: During the fifth and sixth seasons, almost every commercial and webisode consisted of the characters making fun of how melodramatic the show was. And when Degrassi actors appeared on any other teen show, it was always to mock their character.
All Abusers Are Male: Though Degrassi has at least one rape or instance of domestic violence every two seasons, every character who experiences these things experiences it from men. Paige is raped by Dean, Craig is abused by his father, Darcy is raped by a faceless man, Jane, as a child, was sexually abused by her father, KC is abused by his father and later sexually abused his coach, Fiona is abused by her new boyfriend Bobby, and Luke and another male sexually assault Zoe.
An inversion is Ellies mother, who abuses her. She is portrayed as more of a victim (at least by Alex) by the end of her story line.
Another inversion has arrived in the form of a woman Connor met online who touches him inappropriately and suggests some...unsavory things.
Eli and Clare are assigned to do a film project on Romeo and Juliet, and have to kiss for it (mirroring their UST). Clare even compares herself and Eli to Romeo and Juliet when complaining about him to her English teacher. We all know how *that* particular teen romance turned out in the end.
Zane is supportive of Riley when he wants to come out as gay even though it may affect his football career, and compares him to Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician in the US. Riley doesn't know who Harvey Milk is, and Zane then explains he was murdered for being gay.
Arranged Marriage: Sav's parents are militantly strict about dating in season 7 and express similar feelings about Alli's relationships in season 8. Both children are expected not to have relationships until their parents find them suitable matches. Sav ignores this advice in season 7 and dates Anya. Despite his repeated attempts to get his parents to accept Anya as his girlfriend (at least for the time being), they set him up with Farrah in season 9, leading to the dissolution of his relationship with Anya. Meanwhile, Alli sneaks around her parents to date Johnny and Drew. When Sav starts dating Holly J, she tells his parents that they are more than friends and they barely bat an eyelash. Alli goes through quite a bit more drama after they discover her sexual history and see her discipline record at school. Eventually, they drop their belief in arranged marriages and Alli is allowed to freely date Dave.
The Artifact: After a while, all of the characters that Toby interacted with either left or died, Toby didn't really have anything to do on the show.
Spinner played this role in seasons 8 and 9, working at The Dot while dating Jane. Occasionally, he would mention his old Degrassi friends to Holly J as a Continuity Nod.
Mr. Simpson, while still a major character, is the last remaining adult who was a kid on the '80s show. His screen time off campus is limited, Emma and Spike are no longer closely tied to the school, having only Connor to interact with at home.
Connor is becoming this now that the gifted program is never depicted anymore. Clare and Alli are never seen talking to him and Wesley mostly interacts with Hannah.
Clare has been on the show since season 6 when she helped Darcy deal with her Stalker with a Crush. The Edwards family is still on the show, but they almost never mention Darcy despite the fact that she was supposed to return for second semester in season 8.
Ascended Extra: Much like in the original series, many students (such as Marco and Darcy) started out as background characters before given their own storylines and then eventually made regulars.
Ascended Fanboy: Kevin Smith was a fan of the original series and had a crush on Caitlin. Present day, he makes a guest appearance as himself and kisses the adult Caitlin.
Assumed Win: In the second season, Liberty is all set to go onstage and accept first place in the science fair, only to be beaten by Emma.
The Atoner: Spinner, who genuinely tries to redeem himself after what happened to Jimmy.
K.C. spent some of season 8 working to not be who he was at his last school.
Most of Riley and Zane's dynamic is Riley trying to please Zane.
Awful Truth: Becky realizes her brother was the one who sexually assaulted Zoe.
Axes at School: Characters have brought weapons to school several times, and security measures were only put into place after Fitz nearly stabbed Eli in season 10.
Back for the Dead: In season 13, Adam comes back after being missing for the entire 12C block only to die in surgery after getting into a car accident caused by texting and driving. The official reasoning for this was that the actress' contract was up.
Bad Butt: Jay and his crew in season 3. They are seen doing malicious things like breaking a vending machine to steal candy bars, but leaving the money alone. Offering Sean candy bars as payment to keep him quiet, and stealing candy from diners. Boycott the Caf has given them the nickname "The Candy Bandits"
Bait-and-Switch Credits: The credits for Season 10 suggest that Anya gets pregnant with Sav's child. This turns out to be a lie Holly J comes up with, to hurt Sav's chances at running for class president.
The credits hinted at a twincest plot line in Degrassi Takes Manhattan that turned out to be a one-time drunken jealousy display.
Batman Gambit: Eli initially wanted Clare to put ipecac into Fitz's drink. When that didn't work, Eli offered him an apology drink. Just before they drink, though, Clare tells them to switch cups, fearing exactly this. Eli then makes Clare guilty since she made them swap glasses, giving Fitz the poisoned glass.
The Beard: Part of Riley's attempt to convince himself that he's straight is getting into a relationship with Anya and trying to sleep with Fiona...
Fiona willingly let him use her as a beard to avoid sleeping with someone that isn't her brother avoid facing her own homosexuality.
Ellie was Marco's Beard during his "confused" stage. Played with in the fact that Ellie had feelings for Marco, and pretending to be his girlfriend was a sort of compromise for her.
In a rather unusual manifestation of this trope, Adam calls Fiona on using him as this. Because he is transgender, Fiona manages to date someone identifying as male while still seeing him as a girl in her own mind. This allows her to avoid the reality of her lesbianism.
Riley uses a girl his mother sets him up with this way, for at least one episode.
Be a Whore to Get Your Man: Manny to get Sully, a character no one remembers. Though Sully disappears in a couple of episodes, this tactic seems to do it for Craig as well.
Alli takes nude photos of herself and texts them to Johnny to keep Johnny DiMarco's interest after they decide to wait a long time to have sex again.
Belligerent Sexual Tension: Clare and K.C. played a puppy love version of this throughout Season 8. At the end of the season they really hit a stride for it. Where anytime either spoke the other took it the wrong way.
Berserk Button: God help you if you call Adam a girl or insinuate that he isn't a "real" man. Justified Trope, since Adam has gone out of his way to explain his transgender situation to others and has been repeatedly bullied and teased for his situation.
A good example of this is in Cry Me a River, where Dave implies that Adam shouldn't be allowed to use the guy's bathroom, and dresses like a woman and tries to use the girl's bathroom to prove a point. He then gets temporarily kicked off his radio show.
Don't be a bully in front of Eli, or he'll do everything in his power to make your life hell.
Don't break up with Emma, or she'll try to get you arrested.
Anya & Sav were the beta couple to other pairings such as Spinner and Jane and Declan and Holly J during Season 7-9.
K.C. and Jenna started out as beta couple to Drew and Alli during The Boiling Point. At the same time, Drew and Alli could have been considered the beta couple to Clare and Eli, based on fan reactions to them.
Big Damn Kiss: Clare and Eli share their first real kiss after building up their relationship for nearly half the season.
Eli: I have a French exam.
Clare: ...I think you just passed it.
Big Screwed-Up Family: Good God, the Hollingsworths. Father is a big time businessman-turned-politician who routinely cheats on his wife. Mother is emotionally neglected and actually sends a picture of her breasts to Drew for attention. Miles is troubled guy who acts out for his father's attention. He's constantly compared to his younger twin siblings as an examples. Then it's later revealed that the twins have their own issues, mainly Frankie's crippling insecurity in regards to her attractiveness and Hunter's misanthropy leading him to spend all his time playing a Brand XWorld of Warcraft MMORPG.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Holly J's birth mother. She's a match in blood type and wants to give Holly J her kidney, but she wants $20,000 for it
Marisol, oh lord, Marisol. She'll reveal your deepest darkest secrets in public with a smile on her face the whole time.
Drew is a notable male version. He'll be nice and friendly to your face, but if it suits him he'll walk right over you without a second thought; up to and including committing a felony and hate crime against someone who's supposed to be his teammate all over a position that he doesn't deserve to begin with.
Black and Nerdy: Liberty, Damian, Connor, and Dave when he's not hanging out with KC and Drew who are only his friends when it's relevant to the plot.
Not Pizza Pizza, Print Three, Mrs. Vanelli's or Beatrice. As a general rule anything dealing with actual physical products that are unfamiliar to US viewers are real Canadian brands unless explicitly intended to be independent small businesses, while anything media-related is Brand X to the point of having invented two fake TV channels - local station CQJH and US cable music channel TVM - despite being affiliated with CTV (and by extension their Toronto O&O station) and MTV or Much Music.
They didn't even use the in-universeInstant Starwhich they themselves own, calling the show Jenna was on "Next Teen Star" instead. (Just how many Toronto-based-but-too-big-to-be-Canada-only musical talent contest reality shows open to underage High School students are there?)
Canadian universities. TU (Toronto University)=U of T (University of Toronto), Banting=Queen's, Smithdale=York. U.S. universities are referred to by their real names.
Book Ends: Season 11 starts and ends (well, part one of season eleven, anyway) with the song "Young Blood" by The Naked and Famous. At the beginning it's Clare getting ready for the first day of second semester, at the end it's Sav leaving Degrassi for good.
Season 2 starts with Craig's abusive dad leading to a manic episode and ends with Craig's abusive dad leading to a manic episode.
A bit of a reversal: Season 10 part 2 starts with Alli and Clare on the school steps talking about Alli's drama with boys and the season ends with the two friends on the schools steps talking about Clare's boy drama.
Cast example: First time we meet Alli, she's with Sav on the school steps and the do a little brother/sister argument before they walk in. Last episode with Sav as a regular castmember, he's with Alli and they make brother/sister quips and walk down the school steps and walk away from Degrassi.
Eli was originally a B-plot character. The closest he had to an A-plot was Adam's transgender storyline, which didn't even focus on him. Because he was so tremendously popular, he became one of the most used A-plot characters by the end of the first half of season 10.
This seems to be the point to Campbell's character so far in season 12. It's nearly impossible to go an episode with him in it without wanting to hug him. Eventually he is broken to the point of suicide.
And then Spinner and Jimmy decide to pull pranks on Mrs. Kwan for putting them in detention. By the end of the day she ends up sobbing in her car, and takes a leave of absence. They found out the next day that she was very stressed at the time from poor money, double shifts, and a husband on chemo. note There was a Funny Moment along the way, however, when Kwan's ESL students who were missing dinner to study, chipped in and bought the prank-call pizzas.
Holly J is another example of this, but nothing too traumatic compared to Paige.
And then there's Fiona, who from the Season 9 movie on gets put through a lot, and changes from being a confused, emotional mess to one of the show's most mature characters.
Breather Episode: "Take On Me", the WPRBreakfast Club episode, could be thought of as this, considering it sits right in between Manny getting an abortion, and Terri suffering a life threatening-coma inducing injury (which winds up in her leaving the show). The rest of Season 3 after this (besides the aforementioned Terri episode) may be this too, considering how dark the first half of the fourth season is.
And Paige. The rape (which we're supposed to find sympathetic) and her complete failure at every career and ambition and relationship she's ever had (which we're supposed to find hilarious, if the background music is any indication).
Craig. From the moment he appears, his father is shown abusing him. The first episode showing him living with his god father ends with his god father losing all trust for him. He later gets a girl pregnant, loses her baby, gets diagnosed bipolar I, runs away from home, gets beaten up by a hobo, loses his CAN$4,000 dollar guitar to said hobo, loses his girlfriend, gains an addiction to crack, and is revealed to be an addict in front of a large crowd.
Sav. That kid has been beaten up by a really angry gay man for no reason and the scene where he's the temporary lead singer of Studz at the school's Beach Bash and Peter, all methed-out, marches up and starts shoving him and yelling at him was hilarious. He went from overly enthusiastic to really scared and confused in seconds.
To be fair, Sav did provoke Riley when he mentioned the word gay.
Holly J gets a lot more retribution than she actually earns during seasons 7 and 8. Most of it directly relating to Mia, which explains it.
The Cameo: If you're a SYTYCD fan, you were squealing with glee when Jean-Marc Genereux showed up as Adam and Bianca's dance instructor.
Famous Canadian comedian Colin Mochrie had the honour of being a one scene wonder in Degrassi Takes Manhattan as the divorce lawyer. (If you look closely, you can also see him dancing at the wedding during the last few minutes.)
Camp Gay: Marco acts this way in later seasons. Zane's friend at the art gallery is a pretty classic example. Tristan.
Canada, Eh?: For American fans, counting the instances of the word "aboot" or, better yet, "soary" can quickly turn into a drinking game. At the same time, though, "eh" is almost never heard spoken by the characters.
The show later did a self-parody of Canadian stereotypes during Kevin Smith's (himself a huge fan of Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High) appearance on the show. He was there shooting a movie called Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, Eh, and a clip showed from the movie featured every Canadian stereotype known to man (the metric system, hockey, bilingualism, moose, Mounties, snow, aboot, eh), courtesy of Alanis Morissette as a high school principal.
Canada Does Not Exist: More a 1 than a 0 on the 10-point scale discussed on the trope page. It's openly set in Toronto, but characters use generic lingo when talking about things like standardized tests and drivers' licenses, when actual kids in Toronto would more likely use Ontario-specific terms. This has gotten worse in later seasons.
Somewhat justified since the producers realized that the show's popularity in the United States had quickly eclipsed its popularity in Canada. So much so that U.S. network The N (later TeenNick) eventually became co-producer of the series. As a result, producers wanted the characters to be relateable to kids on both sides of the border.
Canucks with Chinooks: Ellie's first major storyline begins with her father's deployment to Afghanistan. Later on, Sean joins the army and his last appearance was between the end of basic training and his first deployment.
Notably it's a Cash Cow for them from broadcast revenue only as TeenNick/Viacom doesn't have merchandising rights. DVDs, for instance are distributed through Funimation and then later Echo Bridge.
Likewise, Viacom doesn't patrol YouTube fan videos, that being left to Epitome itself-and producer Stephen Stohn who is also one of the highest-powered entertainment lawyers in Canada - has tweeted appreciative responses to fanvids.
The Cast Showoff: Many of the cast members are musically talented and the show goes so far write it in as part of their characters. See Ashley, Craig, Manny, Janie and the Studs, Jenna etc. This usually leads to characters being remodeled with no real reason except to show off the cast's musical aspirations: Photographer Craig becomes Rock Star Craig; Wannabe-Director Peter becomes Rock Star Peter; Aimless Loser Jay can suddenly play drums for Studz (yeah, right!).
Central Theme: Dealing with adversity can be tough, but if you work hard and work on your flaws and believe in yourself, you can prevail. Hence the theme song's lyrics; "Whatever it takes, I know I can make it through."
Character Blog: Throughout season 1 and 2 there was a "school website" for Degrassi, where all the students had their own regularly updated blogs, usually discussing what happened in the recent episode. A glimpse of the site made cameo appearances now and then on computer screens. But once season 3 started the entire website was cut, which was a shame considering Craig's post about dealing with his father's death were really touching.
The closest there is now are the character's personal twitters, which are updated periodically during and between episodes. Sometimes they even give hints to what will happen in the coming episode.
An excerpt from Kendra's old blog is on Boycott the Caf on her character page, to illustrate how it's for the best that we never saw her, judging by her terrible spelling.
Character Focus: Every season tends to focus more on one character in particular. Season 1 was all about Emma. Season 2 was Craig's time to shine. Season 3 was Marco. Season 4 is described as "The Sean show featuring the candy bandits. Season 7 is Darcy. Season 10 is Clare with a smidgen of Eli and quite a bit of Fiona. Season 11 (the first half) was shared between Fiona, EClare, and Drew.
Character Shilling: Happens quite a bit with Mia during Season 8, much to Holly J's (and many fans') annoyance.
One particularly egregious example was in Degrassi Takes Manhattan, when Jay was telling Spinner that Emma wouldn't screw him over like Jane did. Because Emma never cheated on anybody. It's especially perplexing that Jay would talk Emma up like this, because a few years ago, she prostituted herself to him. For rubber bracelets.
Manny is probably the biggest example of this, followed by Fiona. As she left the series, she's a Good Bad Girl, which makes her earlier scenes in the show look really strange. Fiona was a Flat Character who was bat-shit insane in season 9, and in season 11 she's much more well-rounded and really only kept the loneliness part of her season 9 quirk. As a matter of fact, Fiona and Declan seemingly switched personalities mid-season. When first introduced, Fiona was the friendly new girl and Declan was the arrogant bad boy. Mid-season Declan had somehow become socially popular and Fiona had somehow become a stuck-up bitch.
Sam Earle does this on occasion: "You told me TO PLAY BASKETBALL!"
Munro Chambers often does this whenever he has to portray strong emotions.
Childhood Friend Romance: For the Unlucky kind: Happens twice with Toby (three times if you count Manny rejecting his invitation to a dance).
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Kendra, Derek, Blue, and Leia out of Title Cast (not counting those that graduated), and many more side characters. There is a nickname for this trope in the Degrassi in-universe that the fans came up with called the "Degrassi Black Hole" or the "Degrassi Bermuda Triangle" where minor or recurring characters who appeared on the show more than once disappear without explanation.
Many many more recurring characters. Most of the time we at least get a Continuity Nod admitting they existed.
Long after Darcy left the show, her mother re-married and asked her younger sister Clare to be the Maid of Honor, leaving long-time fans to wonder if Darcy was even invited to her own mother's wedding.
Mrs. Kwan, who was a Recurring Character from Seasons 1-9, disappeared in Season 10 alongside Leia and Blue without explanation. Mrs. Dawes, who was the art teacher, became the new English teacher during that exact same season Mrs. Kwan disappeared in and was not seen or mentioned ever again during the show's passing.
City of Adventure: About once a season they remember that Toronto is bigger than one high school and one street of businesses.
Compilation Movie: The hour long episode "Shout" is frequently aired alongside "How soon is now" on The-N as a movie length super-special episode.
Compressed Vice: Oh so much. Often done for the sake of An Aesop, usually the characters suffer the worst effects immediately upon engaging in the vice of the week. Noticeably, they're often fully healed/cured by the next episode, with little more than occasional offhanded references in the form of 'Remember when...'
Continuity Nod: The show, having been on for years (and also as an extension of the series from the '80s), does this occasionally.
In the earlier seasons, many of the returning characters referenced the series from the '80s. Joey and Caitlyn often bring up the catalyst for their big break-up in that show's series finale, Tessa Campinelli. More recently, Mr. Simpson consoles Eli when he finds Campbell's dead body after committing suicide by referencing the time in Degrassi High when he discovered Claude's dead body.
Manny and Emma often reference past events including Manny's promiscuous past, Manny's relationship with Craig, and the fact that they've dated/liked several of the same characters.
Continuity Snarl: "Vegetarian" Emma eats KFC and squid in season 2. Similarly, the Muslim girl Hazel eats hot dogs in season 3.
Ellie also mentions being a vegetarian in one episode of season. This fact is never mentioned again, and later episodes show her eating meat.
In a season two episode Spinner references his Mom and Dad's heritages with the present tense (as in his dad is still alive and kicking). Several seasons later it is revealed that his father died of cancer. This storyline with his father's death must have either taken place offscreen or his father's existence that early was retconned or perhaps his father just went wherever Kendra went.
Covert Pervert: Toby and Rick make up a game to see how many girls they can get to kiss them, the girls only think of them as shy and nerdy, so they don't suspect a thing, except for Emma, who just plays along.
A unique zig-zag does occur, though: As the seasons go on, some of the older Degrassi students do, in fact, end up portrayed by actors in their early twenties. An example would be Charlotte Arnold as Holly J, who was seventeen when she was cast as a Grade 10 in season 7. In season 11, Holly J is in her final semester, with Arnold at 22.
As do a fair few others, like Holly J, Clare, Liberty, Adam, Paige, and Ellie.
Defrosting Ice Queen: Holly J in season nine, which may be a part of being held hostage at the end of season eight. She's still quite a Control Freak and obviously still thinks of everyone as losers, but she's become much more open to her peers. By season 11 (her final season), Holly J had evolved into a smart, mature young woman who genuinely cared about her friends. Almost all traces of her nasty side had disappeared by the time she graduated.
Demoted to Extra: Happened to many characters, but Toby is probably the most notable example.
Connor received this treatment for a while, with his only major plot line involving panty stealing, but seems to be making a comeback in season eleven.
Likely to happen to Hannah, who showed signs of becoming her own character for a while.
Happened to the seniors (Holly J, Anya, Sav, etc.) for the most part of season 11, mostly to give way more attention than they should have to Eli and his play, as well as Drew's angst.
Leia was never given much to do on the show despite been given a plum spot in the opening titles during her entire tenure. Many fans wondered why the producers kept bringing her back even though she was reduced to being nothing more than Anya's sounding board.
Winston seems to do very little besides be Miles' friend
Disney Acid Sequence: In the season 2 episode "Take my breath away" it opens up with Manny having a sudden fantasy of Craig singing a love song to her while she wears a silver diamond covered ball gown.
Disproportionate Retribution: Eli and Fitz both may be the show's best example of this. Eli insults Fitz over a parking spot. Fitz takes this out on Eli's car. Fitz attacks Adam for the same slight against him before, Eli steps in to shift focus back to him. Leading to a very insincere attempt at peace, getting Eli a knee to the groin. Eli gets Fitz arrested over all that. Fitz can't accept that Adam wants to be treated like a guy, leading to a fight. Eli gets Fitz in trouble for something Fitz didn't do. To try to get peace Clare agrees to go out with Fitz. Eli undermines this with poison, and Fitz gets a knife. At any point Fitz could stop being insane, or Eli could just let it go. But the pair are too pigheaded and egotistical to ever consider this]].
Distributor-Induced Plothole: When TeenNick, then The-N didn't show Accidents Will Happen, they only showed the subplots of these episodes once, in slapped-together "mini" episodes meaning that if you missed these mini episodes and didn't have the internet to watch Accidents Will Happen, then the future plots of just how Toby and Jimmy ended up in detention in Take On Me along with Liberty dating Towerz later on that season would not make sense. Also, Emma makes a reference to Manny's pregnancy the following season, which wouldn't make sense at all. This was rectified when The-N finally showed Accidents Will Happen three years later.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: The wrestling scene between Riley and Peter(See below).Peter even lampshades it. It's likely a shout-out to the frequent slashing between the two in fandom.
When Emma cheated on Peter with Sean, Sean was portrayed as heroic for it.
Similarly, whenever any female character helps somebody cheat on their significant other, they're almost always bashed by the fanbase. When the males do the same? Not so much.
Ellie had a caught-in-the-moment-one-time-only affair with Craig. She confesses this to Jesse to be honest with him. Jesse then tells her that he did the same and wanted to be honest with her too. She gets furious at him and storms out.
In the episode Don't Let Me Get Me, the school itself facilitated double standards courtesy of its woman only self-esteem seminar.
Subverted when Connor received the same punishment for interacting with a female online predator that Emma did for interacting with a male. Mr. Simpson was involved in both situations and took them both seriously.
Meeting a stranger from the internet is a serious risk, regardless of gender. Add that both were much older and possessing seriously creepy intentions, and it's to be expected that Mr. Simpson had the same sort of reaction.
Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: When a very, very drunk Drew (who was not intentionally drunk) slept with a very sober Katie who he had already broken up with, the fandom was split down the middle over whether or not it was rape and it was Drew who was blamed on the show.
Emma is actually a more extreme case since unlike Peter, her actions are either forgiven by the end of the episode or completely glossed over, whether it's betraying her best friend, getting her boyfriend kicked out of the dorms, or blowing up The Dot.
Peter at the very least by the time of season 7 tried very, very hard for to make up for his past crimes, and at the least went through genuine character development.
Even the Guys Want Him: Sean. Granted, the only guy in canon is Marco. Still, Marco, Emma, Manny, Paige, and Ashley all make some unambiguous romantic overtures toward Sean.
Everybody Hates Mathematics: The reason given behind the math class's intense focus on polynomials. One of the writers really had trouble with them in school.
Everything Is Online: And nothing is blocked by the school computers. Pay-to-play MMORPGs, teachers' Facebook pages and Chatroulette note Okay, versions of them, all accessed from the Media Immersion computer lab, figure in the tenth season.
Executive Meddling: The censorship on The N/TeenNick. Things went bad once the show got popular in America, which meant that The N had the clout to effect creative changes.
Nobody watches the even more bastardized daily US syndicated version which is chopped up in order to let stations go through the motions and declare it educational in the FCC's view.
In-universe, the school itself has suffered two forced mergers, one an expansion from grades 7-8 to 7-12 before being telescoped back to 9-12 again, and a slightly different mission almost every year with the result that in less than a decade a showpiece high-tech magnet middle school has been transformed into a struggling inner-city high school with metal detectors, standing police presence, a major bullying problem and a bad reputation in the community.
Expy: Cast members introduced in Season 1-3 can be directly compared to cast in the previous series.
From Season 7 on they started introducing cast to fill the standard roles on the Popularity Food Chain or a Six Student Clique. Meaning that you can draw parallels between new cast and older cast to a degree. How well the two fit shifts wildly between examples. Manny and Allinote Girls restrained by a very conservative family structure dealing with becoming sexual beings with level headed best friends (although Manny ended up switching roles with Emma in the later seasons) is probably the best fit, with Riley and Marconote both were in the closet, nothing else being the worst fit.
Declan is in the same vein as Gossip Girl's Chuck Bass.
Eli and Bianca are admitted Expies of Ellie and Jay, respectively.
After the latest addition of younger students, this can be seen even more clearly. They appear to have a basic mold for five characters that they like to reuse. Large similarities can usually be found with Emma/Clare/Mayanote Socially uncomfortable/level headed, Manny/Alli/Torinote socially aware/quick to anger, Toby/Connor/Tristannote socially despised/uncool losers, J.T./K.C./Zignote social outcasts/cool losers. However, Zig and K.C. appear to be a combination of J.T. and Sean's character traits. Other aspects of the initial set of five (four + Sean) seem to get shuffled between characters to cover the standard high school tropes.
Special Bonus: The actresses who play Manny and Tori are sisters
Happened a couple of times with Emma and Manny in season 3. First in "U Got The Look" when Manny gets her infamous makeover and starts flirting with JT while she is interested in another guy. Emma tells Manny she's leading JT on. Manny then tells Emma to either mind her own business or stop talking to her. They make up pretty quickly after this, but their bigger fight comes later that season in "Against All Odds" when Emma doesn't approve of Manny helping Craig cheat on Ashley. They don't talk to each other for what appears to be several months in-universe. Things between the two are finally patched up when Emma helps Manny out with her pregnancy. They also got into some arguments where they temporarily stopped speaking to each other in seasons 4, 5, and 6. However, these fights didn't last for too long.
This also happened several times with Jimmy and Spinner throughout the series. The worst was when Jimmy stopped talking to Spinner for the rest of season 4 and a good portion of season 5 after finding out he was responsible for Rick shooting him.
Anya ended her friendship with Holly J after realizing she was sick of being treated like dirt. While the two do eventually reconcile, they never quite go back to being best friends (Fiona is Holly J's current best friend).
Craig freaking out at the dance and freaking out at Manny's abortion.
Joey mentioning Tessa Campinelli to Craig.
"Who do you want to vote for: The freak or the queer? By the way, I'm the freak."
Subverted: Manny obsesses over her weight, but Emma has the eating disorder.
Jenna's pregnancy is hinted at early on in season 10, but she dismisses it and takes diet pills to lose the weight.
The biggest one yet comes out of Snake's lips at the end of the last episode of The Boiling Point. "When you all get back from break...you won't recognize this school at all."
Why does it look like Adam is wearing JT or Toby's baggy jeans from the first season? Because its not so easy anymore to find boys' jeans that conceal girl hips? Or because the new uniforms have taken the lion's share of the wardrobe budget?
Fiona's alcoholism. The only case on the show of an addiction being foreshadowed for more than one episode.
Cam overhears Dallas telling his teammates to stop playing on the ledge unless they want to break a leg and miss the rest of the hockey season. Cam later intentionally falls of the same ledge so that he will be injured enough to get out of playing hockey.
Eli's messy locker. The contents of it spill out all over the floor because it's so full of trash because he became a hoarder after Julia died, and his room is like that too.
Gay Guy Seeks Popular Jock: Camp Gay Marco and his relationship with star hockey player Dylan, and then later flipped the trope with popular Armored Closet Gay football player Riley and his feelings for the artistic, and very much out of the closet Zane. Later Tristan had feelings for hockey player Cam, but squashed them down himself after he realized it wouldn't work.
Gayngst: Riley. Marco also dealt with this a lot, along with Paige and to an extent, Alex.
Girl on Girl Is Hot: Played with when Toby overhears Paige talking about her desire to date girls. Also, probably partial justification for the Darcy/Paige kiss in the Degrassi mini, Party Etiquette 2 and the Paige/Ellie kiss in season 7.
Give Geeks a Chance: Happens with Chewy and Frankie in season 13; nearly happens with Toby and Holly J in season 7, but Toby wasn't interested.
Guy on Guy Is Hot: The Marco/Craig kiss in season 4 and the Peter/Riley kiss in season 8.
Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: With some storylines, characters who cheat aren't portrayed too terribly and are given some excuses. Most notably, Jane who cheated on Spinner with Declan doesn't get back with him whereas Spinner who cheated on Darcy with his ex is Easily Forgiven.
Good Angel, Bad Angel: Spinner has these in one of the "Extra Credit" graphic novels. Paige is his angel (referred to, unsurprisingly, as "Paingel"); Manny is his devil.
Many episodes show two characters playing the role of superego and id to another character, sometimes even with one on one side of the character and the other on the other side. This is done most remarkably in the season 2 finale, where Craig's dad comes back, and Ashley (being the superego) is polite, while Sean (being the Oedipal id, and, unlike Ashley, canonically knowing Craig's family issues) spits.
The year after, it was "The Curse of Degrassi," where Holly J is possessed by the ghost of Rick Murray.
Monster Moon is a series of four Halloween minis set in Season 10.
Hand Wave: Why are grade 9s still going to middle school? Because the middle school doubles as a high school.
Has a Type: Emma Nelson seems to only want bad boys. She's the good girl who wants them to change or she's using him to be less good. There's Sean, Peter, Jay, and Spinner.
Jenna Middleton says that at her old school, she was such a boyfriend-stealer. Especially with bad-boy types. They're her weakness.
Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Spinner whenever he is around Marco after he came out. To the point where there was an episode where Marco eventually had to get it through Spinner's head that he doesn't need to feel threatened by his presence.
Held Back In School: Many of the characters were forced to repeat a grade to keep them in the show.
Sean starts out a face. Then he steals Spike's laptop (heel). Then he fixes Snake's car (face) and really gets redemption when he kills Rick. Then when he comes back, he goes into this weird heel face limbo where he clearly does villainous acts but is actually Peter's victim.
Spinner starts out a face. Then he steals Jimmy's MP3 player, but is only a heel for one episode. Then in season 4, his friendship with Jimmy gets worse, but by the end of season 5, it gets better.
Heel-Face Turn: Generally it keeps you from getting put on a bus, as maintaining a villain is more work. On the male side Jay and Peter start out as antagonists and bullies, for the girls Paige, Alex, and Holly J all start off with various levels of cruel.
Hollywood Law: The only reason Peter's not in prison at this point. Spinner and Jay, who essentially orchestrated the events that led up to the shooting. And while we're at it, was Alex ever punished at all?
Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Hazel, despite the fact that Andrea Lewis can sing quite well, and Fiona in season 9.
Homage (The episode "Take On Me" is a specific homage to The Breakfast Club (Hazel is the princess, Toby is the geek, Jimmy is the jock, Ellie is the basketcase, and Sean is the rebel). The episode "Love Is A Battlefield" is also an homage to The Devil Wears Prada.)
Season 4: Paige had a fling with student teacher Mr. Oleander, and it was mutual. Mr. Oleander was the same as Marco's older boyfriend Dylan, but just about everyone else was grossed out due to the fact he was Paige's teacher.
Season 11: Ms. Oh and Sav also had something going on, Ms. Oh broke it off after realizing how inappropriate it was.
Season 13: Tristan (underage) is having a romantic relationship with his teacher.
Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Starting in the second season, episode titles were named after 80s songs up until the tenth season, when they began to be named after songs from the 2000s.
Idiot Ball: To be fair, it's usually quite plausible idiocy
On the other hand, any girl who dated Peter. The guy has proven many times that he is a sociopath (blackmailed Manny and showed her topless video to the entire school, ruined Sean's life, set-up Darcy with a stalker pedophile, etc) yet Emma, Darcy and Mia dated him anyways.
Alli announcing to a room full of poker players that she won by counting cards.
In season 7, Paige tells Griffin that Alex is the only girl she ever liked, which makes her interest in women a moot point.
For an inversion, Marco's a Kinsey 5, the one exception being Ellie in one particular episode. It is unclear, however, if Marco genuinely liked Ellie or if they were simply growing too codependent.
I Have This Friend: Played with. Alli asks Dave about advice on how to get closer to Drew, but he thinks this trope is being invoked. This happens on two or three times in the episode, and only until the next day are matters made clear.
The first letter in Ephraim Ellis's name is pronounced /i/.
Ivy League For Everyone: Danny goes to Cornell (despite the fact that he didn't actually start doing well in school until Grade 12). Later seasons have also included Alli getting early acceptance to MIT, Jane and Katie both attending Standford (despite Katie royally screwing up her senior year by leaving to attend rehab midway through it), Holly J attending Yale and Eli headed for NYU (not an Ivey League school per se but treated as exceptionally more prestigious than any Canadian university).
Jerkass Façade: Sean seems to like the world at arm's length, but he's not actually a bad guy. Holly J seems fond of not showing weakness, so to avoid pity she lashes out with cruelty.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jay starts off as a Jerkass bully, but later evolves into a guy who can be an ass at times but is actually very caring, mostly brought about by his relationship with Manny.
Just Friends: Fiona towards Imogen until she confesses her feelings at the end of season 11. Also an example of how non-hetrosexual relationship doesn't have to be inherently more dramatic or outrageous simply because it involves the same gender.
Karma Houdini: Some characters get away with bullying and Jerkass behavior. Alex is never punished for her role in the prank for Rick, and Emma and Mia usually aren't called out on their Jerkass moments .More recent examples are Drew and Owen who went from homophobic bullies to romantic leads in the blink of an eye.
In all fairness, we later learn Owen has a gay younger brother and see that he does love him, so he's not truly homophobic in his heart, and Drew was never really homophobic, just being a bit of a dick, and he did sort of slightly redeem himself when he attempted to come to Riley and Zane's defence.
Lampshade Hanging: In the episode "I Want Candy", Ashley says that the school is cursed and alludes to the unrealistically high number of tragedies that have been happening there... Naturally, the other students act like she's nuts.
This also doubles as a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment when you consider that she says this before, the shooting, gonorrhea outbreak and J.T.'s murder...
There's a in-universe teen drama on Degrassi called West Drive that is mocked for it's melodrama... as well for actors getting stuck with the role.
Alli does this in the season 9 premiere, in response to the high amount of students who play musical instruments and have participated in Hollywood films. "Since when did our school become a bizarre White version of Fame?"
The webisode "Good Times" lampshades the series' penchant for soap opera-ish drama and character pairing.
The car Craig and co. stole from Joey Jeremiah's lot to go joyriding in was a big, aging blue Oldsmobile 88. The same make, model and color as the one Joey stole from Snake's parents to joyride back in the day.
Like Goes With Like: Season 8 has an episode where Connor, who's black, helps get KC and Clare, who are white, together. In gratitude the writers give him a black girl as admirer. It's like when Liberty (black) is rejected by Sean but in the end she finds out that his black friend likes her.
Loads and Loads of Characters (Season nine has 24 actors in the main cast and that's not counting actors returning from their bus trips to show up for one episode or two and the faculty and other adults. Previous seasons have had about the same amount of characters. Season 10 drops the credits cast to 22, but adds several recurring characters.)
Season 11 has 25 main cast members, and maybe 8-10 recurring.
Long Bus Trip: Darcy has transferred to Kenya and shows no sign of returning. And Mia's left to angst over vampires model in Paris. Despite being Alli's brother, Sav is never shown again after graduation.
Male Gaze: Happens to Sean in season 2 and Manny in season 3, with an air of Fan Disservice (shots of Marco licking his lips and a shot of a 13-year-old's butt, respectively) just for fun.
A Man Is Always Eager: Subverted in Season 1, when Jimmy is just as nervous about having sex with Ashley as she is. He just is better at hiding it.
Subverted again with Post-Friendship Club Spinner, who pushes Darcy away when she reluctantly wants sex with him, knowing that it was wrong. He manages to stay true to the Christian thing until he stops dating Darcy in Season 6.
Peter doesn't pressure Darcy into having sex, but he clearly thinks he is ready, and is very eager to have sex with her.
The first time Holly J attempted to have sex, Blue outright said "I won't have sex with you," but they did hardly know each other at the time. Blue was eager, but has a shred moral fiber to him.
Along with Alli and Johnny.
Also used with Declan and Holly J.
Bianca tempts Drew to go to the boiler room, despite the fact that he's dating Alli. He goes with her.
Mistaken for Terrorist: Done in a Very Special Episode with a Muslim girl, who is teased and harassed by Paige and Hazel. The girl's stand at International Day is vandalized, and Hazel reveals that she's Somali, not Jamaican, and she too was Mistakenfor Terrorist before she came to Degrassi. The Muslim character and International Day, however, are never spoken of again.
Mistaken Nationality: A number of fans thought that Manny was Latina (specifically Mexican), but in fact, Manny is Filipina (in real life and on the show). In many cases, this was based on her last name, Santos.
Mushroom Samba: Jagged Little Pill comes to mind. Paige/Alex shippers called themselves Potheads for a while as well.
Musical Episode: "Rock and Roll Highschool" is pretty close when the story revolves around the characters in a battle of the bands. Ashley and the girls sing an angry rock song directed at Craig. Spinner and Jimmy rap, and Craig sings an apology to her.
Musical Theme Naming: The majority of the episodes are named after songs from the 1980s. As of season 10, songs are named after hits in the '00s..
Craig was presented as mysterious and it turned out his dad abused him.
Sean was presented as a mysterious bad boy who Emma "just couldn't stay away" from. Until it turned out he wasn't really a bad boy.
Blue supposedly had one but stopped existing in the Degrassi universe after Holly J broke up with him, aside from making some sexual comments about Fiona to Riley. Looks like we will never know what his "mysterious" secrets were.
The section of Toronto the school draws most of its' students from is called Riverdale.
Except both examples would actually precede the others as Degrassi has been airing since 2001, whereas Friday Night Lights started in 2006 and the real Toronto Riverdale neighbourhood was established in the late 1800s.
Nerds Are Virgins: Averted with Liberty, but played straight with the other nerdy characters.
Season 7 had a Transfer School, bringing us Lakehurst characters (Anya, Damien, Holly J, Jane, Jonny, Lucas, and Sav)
Season 8 had Leia and Blue.
Season 9 gave us Declan, Fiona, and Jenna. Dave is not.
Season 10 we have Adam and Drew.
And then in season 11 we meet Jake, Clare's new love interest.
Season 12 gave us Luke, Becky, Dallas and Campbell.
Next Sunday A.D.: The first half of season 10: Written and shot in spring 2010, first aired July-August 2010, canonically takes place between September-December 2010. This leads to some unintentional Real Life Writes the PlotFridge Horror when you realize that the events of My Body Is A Cage happen after the high-profile suicides in September 2010 that led to heightened awareness of harassment of LGBT teens.
It looks like this show is "going there..." Declan concocts a plan to finally get Holly J back in his life and ends up alone with her and he starts initiating sexual contact — Holly J doesn't want to, and she verbally says "No, we shouldn't be doing this" but eventually she gives in and kisses him. This is done with no force, but it looks like Holly J will be disturbed by this in the following episode. Since this is such a controversial subject with a very popular couple, this has already caused a Broken Base with one side saying Holly J should've said "NO MEANS NO!" and the other saying Declan raped Holly J.
This was also invoked as Dean's defense when on trial for raping Paige. His lawyer claims she was heading into that room expecting or even asking for sex and that she got what she wanted.
Luke tries to pull this with Zoe, but Zoe eventually snaps out of it.
Not So Different: It could be argued that towards the end of The Boiling Point, Eli became just as bad as Fitz.
Off-Screen Breakup: Emma/Chris, Toby/Kendra, Liberty/Towerz. All established in the same episode too.
Oh Crap: Clare has a rather terrifying one when Eli reveals his play's plot: A story of how she manipulated him and fell for Fitz.
Oh Crap! There Are Fanfics of Us...: In season 9, Declan and Holly J find a fanfic wherein Declan is inserted into a vampire story that seems to be The Mockbuster of Twilight in the Degrassi world. It was an interesting choice from the writers considering that Twilight crossovers wherein Clare, Declan, or often Emma were pulled into a Twilight world were incredibly common in actual fan fiction for several months before this episode aired.
Fitz too. Even Mr. Simpson doesn't call him by his real name.
In the early years everyone knew Mr. Simpson's nickname is Snake, even if Emma was the only one to call him that to his face on a regular basis, and then only after they became family.
Only Sane Man: Role tends to get passed around among characters depending on the story. Only person who was consistent was Jimmy.
Clare looks to be stepping into the role, if the first few episodes of Season 10 are an indication.
Only So Many Canadian Actors: The trope's central nexus. See the Trivia page for details, and imagine someone saying the whole thing in one breath.
Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Marco's parents, who had quite possibly the most stereotypical Italian accents ever. It slipped in the episode where Marco came out to his father and his father talked with a regular Canadian/English voice. Surprisingly, this actually worked and made the scene a lot better.
The entire cast tries to break themselves of their Canadian raising too, eh?
Out of Focus: Many fans forget that Toby was one of the most prominent characters in the first season (in fact, he was THE most prominent male). After he second season, his screentime gradually diminished until he was Demoted to Extra.
Outrun the Fireball: No, really. In the Degrassi Of The Dead Halloween special, Manny does exactly this.
Pair the Spares: Jimmy and Hazel could qualify for this trope as well, as their respective best friends, Spinner and Paige were an item at that point.
Spinner and Emma in Degrassi Takes Manhattan get together. There is fan speculation that this happened because Spinner and Emma were the only remaining unpaired characters from the original show whose actors were still willing to be on Degrassi (besides Liberty who appears for two seconds).
Jake and Katie were introduced as romantic false leads for two popular couples: Eli and Clare, and Drew and Bianca. When their relationships inevitably ended, they were paired with each other.
Imogen in season 11 is an excellent example of this. In the first major episode she appears in, she tells Eli that she has gone to Degrassi for two years and recaps everything she "overheard" at Vegas Night, which occurred in the middle of season 10. Presumably, she was always a student at Degrassi, but she just never appeared in a scene with the current cast before.
Retcon: JT's sister and parents are mentioned in the first season. Then, he's being raised by a single mom. Then, even later, he is shown as living with only his grandmother; Paige calls into school pretending to be her mother in Season 3 to excuse herself from school to skip and uses a Czechoslavakian accent, but later when her mother is cast and physically on the show she has no accent; and various characters' grades and ages are all over the place.
Seasons Six and Seven were the 2007/2008 school year, and seasons Eight and Nine were the 2008/2009 school year. Season Ten appears to be taking place in the 2010/2011 school year, yet treating the last two seasons as if they were just the previous school year.
Liberty skipping a grade seems to have been retconned out as well, since the press release character descriptions in the later seasons listed her as being the same age as the others in her class. Plus, there's Danny's existence.
Re Tool: The pilot episode made it clear the show was planned to have just as much, if not more focus on the original adult cast, but by the third episode it was clear they changed their mind and now the focus is centrally on the kids.
Rock Star Parking: The school's parking lot is improbably small for what's depicted as an average-size High School. Yet, a shortage of student parking is never an issue.
School Uniforms are the New Black: Considering how much leeway they get for stuff worn over or under the school polo shirts, removing them after school shouldn't be a big deal, but a lot of people still don't bother.
She Is All Grown Up: Emma and Liberty (despite efforts to keep her Hollywood Homely), as both were pretty awkward looking when the show first started (the latter was even lampshaded by Emma: "You've come a LONG way since Grade 7.").
We also got shirtless Sean in When Doves Cry (and Craig in a much squickier context), and in seasons 3 and 4, Sean not only has shirtless scenes but pantsless scenes. Finally, we had Emma making out with a shirtless Sean - in her PowerPoint!
Drew later in the series when he becomes a cage fighter (yeah, that actually happened) and when he was whacked out on sleeping pills.
Shock Value Relationship: Manny tries to scare her incredibly strict Asian father by bringing the 20-something year old high school drop-out mechanic Jay over for dinner. It backfires when her dad actually really likes him.
Later, in season ten Clare brings Eli over for dinner to spite her parents for getting a divorce, by using his black clothes and hearse to make him sound like a freak. Eli is not impressed.
Six Student Clique Early Seasons give us the younger class: J.T. (Head), Sean (Muscle), Toby (Quirk), Emma (Pretty One), Liberty (Smart One), and Manny (Wild One)
Season 8 had Studz and their girlfriends: Peter (Head), Danny (Muscle), Sav (Quirk), Mia (Pretty One), Leia (Smart One), Anya (Wild One). You can swap the last two if you find Leia's constant lies wilder than Anya's... constant manipulations. Or you can just put them both as The smart ones.
Season 10 brings us a segmented version: Dave (Head), K.C. (Muscle), Connor and Wesley (Quirky Duo), Jenna (Pretty One), Clare (Smart One), and Alli (Wild One). However, Jenna and Clare are not friends, Clare and K.C. are not friends, but everyone else freely hangs out.
Spell My Name with an S: Real Life "De Grassi Street" signs are seen in establishing shots. No in- or out-of-universe explanation as to why it was condensed to one word for the school's name has ever been offered.
Also, it's "Clare" not "Claire"
Damian's name is probably the most misspelled in the fandom.
Tweens on the Internet always misspell "gonorrhea".
Craig was very prominent in season two (and the first example of this), and soon his drama overwhelmed everyone else. The most egregious example: Liberty giving birth was actually reduced to an extremely short B-plot in favor of yet another Craig episode.
Emma, especially in Season 6.
Mia (Season 8 mostly).
Holly J. Just look at the opening credits after S8.
Couples-wise, Sean/Emma and Paige/Alex (Season 6), Ashley/Craig/Manny (Season 3), Jay/Manny (Season 7), and Peter/Mia (Season 8).
Eli and Clare were given a lion's share of screentime (and they've definitely stolen the spotlight on Fanfiction Dot Net), along with Holly J, Alli, and Fiona (non-couple wise) in Season 10.
The first half of Season 11 could have been called "The Eli Show".
Stock Footage: In the season 3 episode "I Want Candy" the outside shot of the hospital is clearly the same clip used in the season 2 finale episode. You can even blatantly see Craig walking towards the building, even though he's not in this episode.
Student Council President: Ashley (Season 1-3), Marco (Season 4), Liberty (Seasons 5-7), Holly J. (Seasons 8-9) Sav (Season 10-11), Katie (Season 12) Drew (Season 13). Damian was president at Lakehurst until the merger.
Stylistic Suck: Among the Deleted Scenes from Season 1 is a "where are they now" piece on several original characters done in the style of an amateur VHS home video. The audio on some segments is almost inaudible.
Sudden School Uniform: Played straight with it being implemented over a weeklong break in the middle of the school year, subverted by it being in place for a year in-story.
Her initial love interest, Paige, also did a sudden sexuality shift. But her becoming bi was marginally better handled. ...until it vanished from her character when Alex was Put on a Bus.
Fiona gave no obvious signs she liked girls during her entire initial season (Season 9, if you keep score). With only some minor hints at it in Season 10 (her possessiveness over Holly J, her flirting with Clare while drunk). Most of which might be explained away as her mood disorder making her... 'dramatic'.
This is not universally agreed on. Many fans speculated that Fiona was a lesbian (or at least hiding something) early in season nine when she admitted to Riley that she purposefully sought out a fake relationship with him. Despite the fact that she is supposed to be his beard, she is actually more opposed to heterosexual activity than he is. Riley at least wants to try kissing her, but Fiona is completely uninterested. In fact, she tells him "if I thought you were straight, we wouldn't be doing this." Her decision to pursue Riley is prompted by Declan's insistence that her ex-European pen pal did not count as an ex-boyfriend. Even her relationship with Bobby seemed mostly for show. After a summer of therapy and family tension, her mother set her up with Bobby hoping he would be good for her. The relationship is difficult for her to get out of mostly because it was arranged by both their families. It doesn't seem to stem from a spontaneous and natural attraction, whereas Fiona's interest in Holly J starts off slowly with jealousy and nastiness and progresses to actual romantic attraction.
Surprise Pregnancy: Jenna just thinks she's getting fat and uses diet pills to try and fix her "weight problem."
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Every time a new set of niner characters are introduced they seem to be stand-ins for the original batch of seventh grade newbies from season one (Emma, Manny, JT, Toby, and Sean). Emma, Clare and Maya are the smart, good girls who'll sometimes flirt with the Good Girl Gone Bad trope. Manny, Alli and Tori are the good girls' sexier best friends who are obsessed with superficial things such as boys and popularity. Sean, K.C. and Zig are from the wrong side of the tracks and try desperately to rise above their poor upbringing. J.T. and Dave are the comedians who aspire to be cool and hook-up with all the girls while Toby and Connor are their nerdier sidekicks. Tristan is the only one who doesn't seem to have a precedent in the the original core group instead filling in for Marco and Riley as the gay character.
Teen Pregnancy: Manny (terminated the pregnancy), Liberty (put the baby up for adoption), Mia (raising her child), and now Jenna (keeps it for a while before giving it up for adoption). Emma is the result of one, and her mother had a second unplanned pregnancy (albeit at around age 30). Dallas also had a baby with his girlfriend when he was 15.
The Bus Came Back: Ashley Kerwin (season 5 finale-season 7), Sean Cameron (season 6), and Caitlin Ryan (season 7 episode "Jesse's Girl).
The Tell: Ellie Nash cooks when she's angry, according to Marco.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Emma starting in Season 4 ("What will people think of me if Chris goes out with Liberty next?"). Many fans consider this moment to be the turning point of Emma's character and when her Jerk Sue colors first really started to shine.
Derek in Season 8. Before that, he at least had some sort of remorse for his more Jerkass moments (such as framing Danny for shoplifting).
In Degrassi Takes Manhattan, Fiona tells Holly J, "Boyfriends are temporary, brothers are forever."
Twofer Token Minority: Jimmy (black and disabled), Connor (black with Asperger's), Zane (Asian and gay), Sav (Indian and Muslim), and Manny, Liberty, Chantay, and Leia (female and nonwhite). There are even several threefers: Hazel and Alli (nonwhite, female and Muslim), and Alex (lesbian, female, and Latina).
Two-Teacher School: It seems there's only about four teachers in the entire school, with Mrs. Kwan teaching English to the entire school, Mr. Simpson teaching Media Immersion for every student for all four years, and Coach Armstrong being the health teacher, math teacher, and P.E. teacher for all grades and classes, as well as the coach for every sports team in the school.
And recently, this seems to have extended to Ms. Oh, Mr. Perino, and Ms. Dawes.
Then there's the episode where Paige gets raped, Marco comes out, Ashley's dad comes out, Craig's dad abuses him, Craig is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Liberty winds up needing extra math help but everyone thinks she's sleeping with the math teacher.
Johnny DiMarco and Bruce had a similar process of turning Lighter and Softer in Seasons 8 and 9.
On the less bully side of things, Holly J and Paige suffered BitchDecay.
Peter and Declan were both introduced to be Preppy villains, working people as opposed to brute force of the Bullies. Both suffered a fair bit of softening over time.
This has happened to Fitz as well. Started off as a the top bully (along with Owen), but now making a Heel-Face Turn.
The Unfair Sex: Jane's flirting with Declan and subsequent cheating wasn't portrayed nearly as bad when Craig did it to Ashley in Season 3. Averted when Spinner reacts badly to finding out.
We Need a Distraction: Clare sets off a smoke bomb in the exam hall so the school will be evacuated and Adam won't have to fight Fitz.
Webcomic Time: To a degree, early seasons (up through Season 5) were at a 1 Season: 1 School year ratio. All was good. Seasons 6-9 were 2 seasons : 1 School Year ratio which meant the date started to slip. Season 10 used to a retcon to undo the slip so things were now 2010 (Due to the last four seasons it was 2008). After that we still haven't hit 1 season = 1 year again. Instead, however, they haven't retconned again but the references and series going on are contemporary to the year, but not to the year the students should be in. As Season 12 is the end of Season 11.5's school year which means it should be 2012, but it's 2013.
Worthy Opponent: In a deleted scene from "Back In Black", Sean sees Rick as this.
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Horribly averted (or subverted?) when Fitz and Owen find out that Adam is biologically female. They don't hit him - they pick him up and throw him through the double doors breaking awire-reinforcedglass pane.
Reinforced when Fitz refuses to fight Adam, and suggests Adam fight Bianca.
That valiant theater nerd, Rick? He hits girls.
Sean angsts about accidentally hitting Emma when she tries to get between him and Jimmy. Emma doesn't see it as an accident.
Yandere: Eli towards Clare at first, but then Imogen from season eleven proved to be this towards Eli.
Rick. Emphasis on "yan". Abusive boyfriend, paranoid about other guys wanting his girlfriend, does not take rejection well...
You Can Leave Your Hat On: Holly J. stripped in front of Sav in the drama room during the Night in Vegas dance. It was clear they were about to have sex when they were interrupted by the school being put under lockdown.
You Look Familiar: Alex's girlfriend Carla and a friend of Joey's girlfriend Diane were played by the same actress.
Alex Steele will be returning later in season 11 but as a new character, not Angie Jeremiah.
You're Just Jealous: This was practically Manny's Catch Phrase for a while. Emma also pulled this card when Liberty called her out on passing out weed brownies during a dorm event.
Manny uses this one against Paige to dismiss Paige's warnings about Dean. Although it was pretty typical behavior for Paige to try to stop other girls from dating guys she liked (see her awful treatment of Terri), Paige was actually telling the truth about Dean. It doubles as an Ironic Echo since a girl at the party where Paige got raped warned Paige about Dean, and she reacted the same way Manny did.
Maya's (accurate) feelings about Tori's anti-Zig behavior.