Theatre / Heathers

Hold your breath and count the days,
we're graduating soon
College will be paradise
if I'm not dead by June!
But I know, I know,
life can be beautiful.
I pray, I pray,
for a better way.
If we changed back then,
we could change again!
We can be beautiful...
...just not today.
Veronica Sawyer, "Beautiful"

Heathers: the Musical is a rock musical adaptation of the 80s cult classic Heathers.

Veronica Sawyer is a wry, clever outsider at her school Westerberg High, which is ruled by the Girl Posse the Heathers. Veronica, in an attempt to win favor with the Heathers, forges a hall pass for them, and, almost entirely by accident, becomes In with the In Crowd. However, being part of the Heathers turns out to be the exact opposite of what Veronica wanted. The Heathers belittle and shun any outsider, including Veronica's best friend Martha "Dumptruck" Dunnstock, and the new guy in town, Jason "J.D." Dean, whom Veronica falls for almost instantly. Veronica attempts to resign from the Heathers, but the Alpha Bitch, Heather Chandler, refuses to make things that easy, and promises to ruin what little is left of Veronica's social life. Veronica tries to apologize, and goes over to H. Chandler's house with J.D., where H. Chandler insists Veronica makes her a hangover cure. J.D. "jokingly" suggests putting drain cleaner in it, and pours it into a cup. Veronica accidentally grabs the toxic cup, and as soon as H. Chandler ingests the "hangover cure," she dies. Veronica is shocked, and J.D. suggests they forge a suicide note to cover their tracks. However, as the bodies start piling up, Veronica realizes H. Chandler's death may not have been as much of an "accident" as he claimed.

The musical premiered in 2010, and was revived in 2014, both Off-Broadway. There is an official cast recording, with Barrett Wilbert Weed as Veronica and Ryan McCartan as J.D.. The creators are currently trying to get the show a Broadway run and a national run, and there are talks of a film adaptation as well.

The musical is also getting a fanmade Web Video adaptation called The Veronica Exclusive, framed as Veronica's video diary. The plot is the same, except set in The New '10s, and making J.D. a girl.

Dear Diary, this musical contains examples of the following tropes.

  • Abusive Parents: With a father like Big Bud Dean, it's very little surprise that J.D.'s so messed up. Constantly drunk, always moving around, apparently drove J.D.'s mother to suicide, and speaks to his son with such thinly-veiled contempt that we can almost certainly assume there was some physical abuse as well, Big Bud comes off as very emotionally abusive. And considering all that J.D. gets up to without him noticing, you can make a case for neglect, too.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The musical shows how Veronica ended up joining the Heathers in the first place, exploring J.D.'s craziness a bit more, and giving Martha "Dumptruck" her own song!
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Veronica was the Anti-Hero in the movie, and J.D.'s still the villain here, but both of them come off as a lot more sympathetic than they did in the movie.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Heather Duke. Many of the villainous characters.
  • Adorkable: Veronica. Especially around J.D.
  • Adults Are Useless:
    Heather Chandler: This is their big secret. The adults are powerless.
  • Adult Fear: Your child committing suicide isn't something any parent wants to go through. Veronica's mother panics when Veronica fakes her death and Veronica does just as much when apologizing for it.
  • Age Lift: A minor case. The movie takes place at the end of Veronica's junior year. The musical takes place at the start of her senior year.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: J. D. at the end.
  • The Alcoholic:
    • "Big Bud" Dean. J.D. mentions his father "taught him well" at fixing hangover cures. When Veronica meets him for the first time he offers her a beer. He also appears to be intoxicated when Veronica meets him.
    • The licensed version of the show changes a few lines in "Big Fun" to imply that Heather McNamara's mother is this as well.
      Heather McNamara (after seeing Veronica doing shots): You're a natural! Just like my mom.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Referenced by Heather Chandler. After Veronica publicly ruins her prank and attempts to resign from the clique, Heather Chandler tells her that it won't be that easy and that "no one at school is going to let (Veronica) play their reindeer games!" after the scene she just made.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Beautiful," "Damaged," and "Seventeen," and what it means to be all of those things.
    • "Die alone."
    • "Our love is God." Starts off as a declaration for J.D.'s love for Veronica, ends up being more an examination of his insanity.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Ms. Fleming goes from a three-scene joke character to the most significant adult character with her own song.
    • Martha goes from a minor character to Veronica's best friend, her character being combined with Betty from the movie.
    • Heather Chandler. She was still very important in the movie, but she was killed twenty minutes in and then only re-appeared once for about a minute in a dream. Here, she pops up periodically as a ghost/hallucination.
  • Aside Glance: "I'm hot and pissed—" (turns to wink at the audience) "—and on the Pill!"
  • Attention Whore: Heather Chandler, Heather Duke, and Ms. Fleming.
  • The Atoner: By the end, Veronica is willing to die in a bomb blast to make up for what she did. But J.D. tells her You Are Better Than You Think You Are and he atones for them both.
  • Audience Participation: During "Shine a Light," when Ms. Fleming declares, "Steve, I'm ending our affair! And... I faked it. Every single time." "Steve" being some poor sap in the front row.
  • Ax-Crazy: J.D., with varying degrees of subtlety throughout.
  • Badass Boast: Much of "Dead Girl Walking (Reprise):"
    Veronica: "Heads up, J.D.! I'm a dead girl walking! Can't hide from me! I'm a dead girl walking! And there's your final bell. It's one more dance and then farewell. Cheek to cheek in hell, with a dead girl walking!"
  • Badass Bookworm: J.D. uses a large book as a weapon when he fights with Kurt and Ram. Not to mention, craziness and murderous nature aside, J.D.'s pretty tough, and undeniably badass.
  • Badass Longcoat: Just like in the movie, this is the most iconic part of J.D.'s costume; a long, black trenchcoat.
  • Bad Girl Song: "Candy Store" definitely. "Dead Girl Walking" to an extent.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me / A Friend in Need: When Veronica saves Heather McNamara from the suicidal anxieties that Heather Duke amplified from "Shine a Light (reprise)", Heather McNamara bonds to Veronica as she realizes Veronica wouldn't let her kill herself when others would have. She tightly hugs Veronica as she knows now Veronica won't let her be alone and lost like before. When Veronica offers her hand to her, Heather McNamara takes it during "Seventeen (Reprise)."
  • Berserk Button:
    • Do not threaten or harm Veronica. J.D. makes Heather Chandler, Kurt and Ram see that.
    • Do NOT bully or belittle Heather McNamara if Veronica is around when Heather Chandler is dead. The first puts Heather Duke on Veronica's watch list, the second (when J.D. asks "What's one more dead Heather?") sours her relationship with J.D. Either activates Veronica's Mama Bear side.
  • Bigger Than Jesus: "Bigger than John Lennon," actually.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": "SHUT UP, HEATHER!" "Sorry, Heather."
  • Big Damn Villains: Veronica is ready to sacrifice herself by taking the bomb out of the school and to the football field, where she'll blow up with it but save everyone inside the school. J.D. intervenes (and redeems himself) and insists on taking the bomb from her, singing, "I am damaged, far too damaged, but you're not beyond repair. Stick around here. Make things better, 'cause you beat me fair and square."
  • Big Fun: Martha is overweight, and probably the only character that remains completely sympathetic the whole show. Completely unrelated, though: We're up till dawn, having some big fun! (BIG FUN!)
  • Bilingual Bonus: German-speakers will realize that "ich lüge" - the name J.D. gives his supposedly non-fatal bullets - means "I'm lying".
  • Black Comedy: Considering the movie it was based on... the entire show.
  • Black Comedy Rape: All of "Blue."
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The official poster for the musical depicts Heather Chandler as a blonde, Heather Duke as a brunette, and Heather McNamara as strawberry-blonde(redhead). Not to mention in the actual off-Broadway show, Heather Chandler is a readhead and Heather McNamara is a blonde.
    • The Rock River Repertory Theatre Company's performance had Heather Chandler as blonde, Heather McNamara as brunette and Heather Duke as redhead who becomes an Evil Redhead when Chandler dies.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: J.D. operates on this. He has morals and standards, but they don't make any sense to anybody who's sane. For example, he's disgusted by the way Heather Chandler bullies people and by Kurt and Ram's attempts at date rape and spreading of hurtful rumors. So what's his solution? Murder them, of course.
  • Bookworm: J.D. is introduced reading a large book and keeping mostly to himself, except for when he flirts with Veronica, during which he quotes Baudelaire at her.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: During "Beautiful," discussing the Heathers.
    Guy #1: I'd like to be their boyfriend!
    Students: That would be beautiful.
    Girl: If I sat at their table, guys would notice me!
    Students: So beautiful...
    Martha: I'd like them to be nicer...
    Students: That would be beautiful.
    Guy #2: I'd like to kidnap a Heather and photograph her naked in an abandoned warehouse and leave her tied up for the rats!
    Everyone: ...
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Martha after Veronica tells her Ram's note was fake.
    • Heather McNamara.
      Heather: I've thought about killing myself. The last guy I slept with killed himself because he was gay for his linebacker. Then my best friend seemed to have it all together, but now she's gone too. And now my stomach hurts worse and worse and every morning on the bus I feel my heart beating louder and faster. And I'm like - Jesus, I'm on the freaking bus again because all my rides to school are dead.
    • Veronica, thanks to everything J.D. puts her through.
    • None of them are quite recovered, but all three are well on their way to being happy again at the end of the show. They become True Companions thanks to Veronica reaching out to the other two in "Seventeen (reprise)" as shown here.
  • Break the Haughty: Averted. Nothing deflates Heather Chandler's ego. Up to and including being murdered. (If anything, her ego gets bigger.) "Me inside of me" had her suicide note forged by Veronica had Heather complain "Jesus, you're making me sound like Air Supply!" but seeing the impact on how it affects the student body, she goes "I'm bigger than John Lennon!"
    • Heather Duke gets a bit at the end, with Veronica taking the red scrunchie and her power back from her. It's implied in a small Defrosting Ice Queen moment that she may go on to become friends with one of the more unpopular girls.
  • Brick Joke: "I was just kidding about the Bo Diddley thing!"
  • Cassandra Truth: At one point, Veronica admits to killing Heather Chandler, Ram, and Kurt. Everyone thinks she's just trying to get attention.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Veronica has one after sleeping with J.D., featuring Heather Chandler. It's this which spurs Veronica onto attempting to apologise to her, with disastrous results.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: J.D. is a very dark version. He clearly operates on different standards and logic than most people, and even if it weren't for the whole Serial Killer thing, he'd still be a little strange. It's humorous (and a little sad) in "Freeze Your Brain," but terrifying in "Meant to Be Yours."
    • Heather McNamara comes across as this too.
      Heather McNamara: And a symmetrical face! If I took a meat cleaver down the center of your skull, I'd have matching halves. That's very important!
  • Color Motif: Heather Chandler wears red, as a symbol of her power and her aggressiveness. Heather Duke wears green, as a symbol of her jealousy towards Chandler although, once the latter dies, she starts wearing Chandler's red scrunchie, and an April 17th Twitter post from the feed for The Musical has Duke sing when Chandler dies, "All Hail the Queen. I wear the Red." So like some productions she MIGHT wear Red once Act Two begins. Heather McNamara wears yellow, which indicates that she's the weak one. Once she joins the Heathers, Veronica starts wearing blue. J.D. always wears black, as he turns out to be the villain of the story, with intentions to kill other classmates. Also, pink is often associated with Martha, the sweetest character of the show.
  • Composite Character: Betty Finn is cut out, and her character is combined with Martha.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    Veronica: All we want is to be treated like human beings. Not to be experimented on like guinea pigs or patronized like bunny rabbits.
    Ms. Fleming: I do not patronize bunny rabbits!
    • And later:
      Ms. Fleming: Veronica?! Jason Dean told me you'd just committed suicide.
      Veronica: Yeah, well, he's wrong about a lot of things.
      Ms. Fleming: Oh. Well, I put together a lovely tribute. Especially considering the short notice.
  • Crapsack World: J.D is convinced that they live in one. Veronica has much more hope.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: Invoked by Veronica, writing in her diary.
    Kurt Kelly. Quarterback. He is the smartest guy on the football team. Which is kind of like being the tallest dwarf.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: J.D.'s father is an abusive drunk, he moves around a lot (about every six weeks, which means he's been to ten high schools), he's always been picked on for being, well, a tad strange, and his mother killed herself while he was watching.
  • Dark Reprise/Triumphant Reprise:
    • The reprise of "Dead Girl Walking" in the musical manages to be both. Triumphant because Veronica's determined to stop J.D. at all costs, and is ready to kick some ass. Dark because, while in the original, she's talking about her social standing, in the reprise, she's talking about actually dying in order to protect everyone else.
    • "Shine a Light" starts out as Mrs. Fleming's upbeat anti-suicide anthem, but is reprised when Heather McNamara tries to commit suicide while Heather Duke eggs her on.
    • I Am Damaged manages to combine Our Love Is God with Seventeen, and make it as dark as humanly possible.
    • The reprise of "Seventeen" has Veronica declare "Brand new sheriff's come to town" after she takes the red scrunchie from Heather Duke (which Heather Chandler, Ram and Kurt said she "deserved," but not for their reasons) to end Duke's reign (as J.D. wanted). She uses The Powerof Friendship to repair her bond with Martha, and to strengthen her bond with Heather McNamara.
  • Date Rape Averted: When drunk, Kurt and Ram try to hump any girl they can get their hands on, but never succeed.
    Heather McNamara: Oh, but that was the deal. If I got you to come, Kurt promised to leave me alone.
    Veronica: So you avoided date rape... by volunteering me... for date rape.
    Heather McNamara: God, you make it sound ugly.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Veronica has multiple ones with Heather Chandler, Kurt, and Ram.
  • Death Equals Redemption: J.D.
  • Defrosting Ice King: Somewhat subverted. J.D. explains in "Our Love is God" that Veronica defrosted him the moment they met. Of course, given all he does to win and keep her love, maybe he should've stayed frozen...
  • Descent into Darkness Song: Our Love is God begins as a sweet, hopeful duet between J.D. and Veronica. Then J.D. sets his scheme to kill Kurt and Ram into action...
  • Destructive Romance: Veronica and J.D.'s relationship is passionate and loving, but wildly unhealthy and obsessive, especially on J.D.'s end. Veronica realizes this, but J.D. considers it to be true love.
  • The Determinator: Veronica in the reprise of "Dead Girl Walking" will do all she can to stop J.D. from blowing up Westerburg High and killing everyone at the pep rally with his bomb. This animated cinematic shows the emotion of the D-to-F transition she uses to let her intent be known:
    His solution is a lie, nobody deserves to die
    Except for me and the Monster I've created!
    Yeah! YEAH!
  • Dirty Old Man: Some of Big Bud Dean's comments toward Veronica make it clear he's this.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Played for horror during "Our Love is God," as JD continues to lovingly sing his worship to Veronica after just killing two people in cold blood. Veronica is clearly terrified.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • J.D. makes the deaths of his victims look like these.
    • Martha, but she survives the attempt.
    • Heather McNamara tries, but is stopped, first by the childproof cap on the pills, then by Veronica.
    • J.D. himself kills himself at the end, partially because of being "damaged," and partially to save Veronica.
    • J.D.'s mother, in the backstory.
  • Dual-Meaning Chorus: ''Dead Girl Walking" and its reprise.
    • The first time Veronica sings it, she's referring to how she's going to be "stuffed and mounted on the wall" by the Heathers.
    • The second time, she's just faked her own suicide, and she's going to stop J.D. She even sings, "No one here deserves to die, except for me and the monster I created!"
  • Dying Alone: Heather McNamara is terrified of this. But Veronica keeps her from making it a reality when Heather Duke tries to make those terrors happen.
  • Eating Lunch Alone: Heather Chandler threatens Veronica with this fate after she ruins her prank on Martha.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    Martha: I rented The Princess Bride.
    Veronica: Again? Don't you have it memorized by now?
    Martha: What can I say? I'm a sucker for a happy ending.
    • Also:
      Heather McNamara: If I took a meat cleaver down the centre of your skull I'd have matching halves. That's very important.
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number: "Dead Girl Walking (Reprise)"
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: J.D.'s mother has long since died by the time the show starts, but it's obvious that he loved her a lot and still misses her. It's hinted that he blames his father for her death.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Heather Chandler was mean, Heather Duke more so once Chandler died, but Heather McNamara was the Token Good Teammate who was under Toxic Friend Influence from Chandler when she was alive. Once Chandler, Ram and Kurt die, McNamara shows her suicidal anxieties from losing three people she knew: her "best friend," her boyfriend and the "friend he was gay for." Heather Duke magnified those anxieties in public to make Heather McNamara want to kill herself, but only [[spoilers: Veronica's intervention]] kept that from happening. When J.D. asks "What's one more Dead Heather?" Veronica defends "Because She's My Friend!" [[spoiler: This makes Veronica go Mama Bear and protect McNamara, letting her bond to Veronica more than she did to Chandler.
It also solidifies Veronica's status as "rival" to Heather Duke, and tensions between both increase.]]
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: J.D. blames Veronica breaking up with him on the student body, not the fact that he was a murderous animal, and resolves to blow up the student body.
  • Famous Last Words: Several.
    • "Corn... nuts!" (Heather Chandler)
    • "One... two..." (Ram Sweeney)
    • "WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!" (Kurt Kelly)
    • "Our love is god." (J.D.)
    • Subverted by Veronica's, "Dear Diary; the irony in all of this is that I did not get to compose my own suicide note..." She intended for these to be her last words (either to herself or to the audience), but is stopped by J.D., which leads to the example above.
  • Fat Girl: Martha "Dumptruck" Dunnstock.
  • Fatal Flaw: J.D. admits "I destroy things, just like my father! It never occurred to me to try BUILDING anything!" to Veronica. "But you're different. Go do something with your life," and he becomes The Atoner to save her from the bomb.
  • Final Love Duet: J.D. and Veronica sing reprises of their previous duets throughout the climax, culminating in J.D.'s suicide.
  • Foreshadowing:
    J.D.: I'd trade my life for yours.
    • You can join the team/ or you can bitch and moan/ you can live the dream/ or you can die alone, when Heather M is trying to kill herself.
    • In "Beautiful," Veronica sings the line fight the urge to light a match and set this dump ablaze. Which exactly what J.D. wants to do towards the end.
    • J.D. goes from confused to excited in "Dead Girl Walking" right when Veronica says "Make this whole town disappear."
  • Football Fight Song: "Hey-yo, Westerberg! Tell me what's that sound? Here comes Westerberg, comin' to put you in the ground!"
  • Freudian Excuse: Kurt and Ram's Slut-Shaming of Veronica gives J.D. one for killing them. Though it could be Nice Job Fixing It, Villain! as their actions made THEM, not J.D., the villains of the moment.
  • Gender Flip: At least one production has featured a female J.D.
  • Generation Xerox: Mr. Kelly and Mr. Sweeney are Kurt and Ram, just thirty years older.
  • Ghost Song: "Yo Girl."
  • A God Am I: Hinted at in the song "Our Love is God."
    We can start and finish wars.
    We're what killed the dinosaurs.
    We're the asteroid that's overdue.
    The dinosaurs choked on the dust,
    they died because God said they must.
    The new world needed room
    for me and you.
    • Less than hinted at when J.D. shoots Kurt he changes the lyric they died because God said they must to They'll die because WE say they must
  • Goodbye, Cruel World!: "The Me Inside Of Me" is Veronica and J.D.'s faked suicide note for Heather Chandler.
  • Good Parents: Veronica's parents come off as this, if a bit clueless. Their reaction to J.D. coming over and telling them Veronica is suicidal is to try and comfort her, and get her to open up. When Veronica refuses to address their concerns and runs off to her room, her mother, rather than getting angry, gives her a little time by herself before fixing her a snack and bringing it up to her.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Veronica laments this in "Beautiful," remembering how happy and nice everyone was when they were kids. Then again it's given she is also greatly looking forward to college, so it's more "being in high school sucks."
  • Hair Flip: J.D. often does one at the end of "Fight For Me."
  • Heel Realization: "I Am Damaged." JD admits that he's the broken one and sacrifices himself for Veronica in the hopes that she can make the world better instead of tearing it down.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Veronica is fully prepared to take the bomb away from the school, knowing she'll blow up, too, in order to save everyone else. She doesn't have to, because J.D. insists on sacrificing himself for Veronica, saying she's a better person than he and can make things better. It's surprisingly touching.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Martha to Ram. Ram and Kurt to... every girl they try to get their hands on.
  • Hope Spot: During "Seventeen," Veronica convinces J.D. to stop the killings. It doesn't last.
  • Hot-Blooded: J.D., with tragic and deadly results for everyone.
  • Hypocritical Singing: "The Me Inside Of Me" is an interesting variant: Heather Chandler sings the suicide note Veronica and J.D wrote, which portrays her as an insightful, depressed girl who felt trapped by her popularity and beauty, and donates her possessions to "crippled kids, or to those ghetto moms on crack". However, Heather is a cruel and selfish person who hates the way Veronica's making her sound.
    Heather: Jesus, you're making me sound like Air Supply! But she changes her mind when the whole school reacts in a way where they realize there is some of Heather Chandler inside them, too, then Heather not only thinks "Holy Crap! This is AWESOME!" but realizes "I'm bigger than John Lennon!"
  • "I Am" Song:
    • "Candy Store" for the Heathers.
    • "Freeze Your Brain" for J.D.
  • "I Want" Song: "Beautiful" and "Seventeen," both for Veronica.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved:
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: "Seventeen" is Veronica's plea to J.D. for this.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: The ending of "Dead Girl Walking." "Love this dead girl — yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" "Ow!" "YYYYYEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAH!"
  • In Love with Your Carnage: Veronica has a song about it: "Fight For Me." (She draws the line at murder, though. Sorry, J.D.)
  • Innocently Insensitive: Veronica during "Freeze Your Brain".
    Veronica: Does your mommy know you eat all that crap?
    J.D.: Not anymore! When Mom was alive / we lived halfway normal...
    Veronica: (silent Oh, Crap! reaction)
  • Intercourse with You: "Dead Girl Walking," sung by a very drunk Veronica and a very confused but willing J.D.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • In "Shine a Light (Reprise)", Heather Duke twists some of the lyrics of "Candy Store" against Heather McNamara while trying to convince her to kill herself.
      You can join the team, / or you can bitch and moan. / You can live the dream, / or you can die alone!
      Your ass is off the team. / Go on and bitch and moan. / You don't deserve the dream. / You're gonna die alone!
    • In "Dead Girl Walking," Veronica breaks into J.D.'s room by climbing in through his window. In "Yo Girl," J.D. breaks into Veronica's room by climbing in through her window — only this time, the circumstances are very different.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In a twisted way, J.D. sincerely wants Veronica to be happy. The problems arise when he thinks killing people will make her happy. He sacrifices himself for her so she can keep living and make things better in the end.
  • Kick the Dog: A lot of the things Heather Chandler does, but forcing Veronica to beg for forgiveness on her knees just to humiliate her in front of J.D. is a standout.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Veronica's cynical and quite the snarker, but she's the only one fixing Westerberg's problems with bullying and suicide.
  • Laughing Mad: Thomas Sanders' take on J.D., especially towards the end.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: "My date for the pep rally kind of blew... me off."
  • Leitmotif: If one listens closely, there's quite a few of them.
    • Veronica is associated with a riff from "Beautiful," specifically the part in which she sings Hold your breath and count the days / We're graduating soon, or in the second verse Dream of ivy covered walls / and smoky French cafés. This tune also appears instrumentally when she speaks to the Heathers in a later part of "Beautiful," then when she gets hilariously drunk in "Big Fun" and when she speaks to Kurt and Ram in "Our Love is God."
    • The Heathers are represented by the riff in Beautiful where the students sing Ahh / Heather / Heather / And Heather, and later Heather / Heather / Heather / and someone. A slightly scary instrumental version of this appears as Heather McNamara makes a comment about taking a meat cleaver down the center of Veronica's skull (and having matching halves as a result!). It is then reprised in Big Fun as the three plot to embarrass Martha.
    • There are also two leitmotifs associated with death.
      • The most obvious of these is J.D.'s apparent leitmotif, or the one that occurs when he's about to wreak havoc. This tune first appears when he chases down Kurt prior to shooting him. It then reappears in "Yo Girl" in the lines Veronica's running on- running on fumes now / Veronica's totally fried / Veronica's gotta be tripping on shrooms now / thinking that she can hide / Veronica's done for- there's not doubt now / Notify next of kin / Veronica's trying to keep him out now / Too late! He got in!. It then reappears in Meant to Be Yours when J.D. Is about to bust down the door to the closet in which Veronica is hiding in the lines VERONICA!!! / Open the- open the door, please / Veronica, open the door / Veronica, can we not fight anymore, please? / Can we not fight anymore? / Veronica, sure, you're scared- I've been there / I can set you free / Veronica, don't make me come in there / I'M GONNA COUNT TO THREE!
      • When something bad, in general, is about to happen, the opening two notes from "Our Love is God" play. These two notes play when J.D. and Veronica first enter Heather Chandler's house and are about to kill her. They also play in the transition to the "Blue" scene, which has a situation that had Veronica not handled, could have lead to Date Rape. This situation also eventually leads to J.D. resolving to kill Kurt and Ram.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: When Veronica decides to stop J.D. from blowing up the school during "Dead Girl Walking (Reprise)."
  • Lighter and Softer: Than the original film. It's campier, Veronica and J.D. get Adaptational Heroism, and things like Veronica's self-harming are cut. Though this is partially justified given the different ethos animating the story. The movie was a cynical deconstructive satire of 80s teen comedies, while the musical is a more humanistic rebuke of the source material's misanthropy; emphasising that people are made bad through social factors, rather than being born bad.
  • Love at First Sight: Veronica and J.D.
  • Love Makes You Evil: J.D. But in the end, Love Redeems him, too.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Freeze Your Brain" has a bouncy, classic rock soundtrack, while J.D. sings about how when life sucks, you need to just "Freeze your brain, / shatter your skull, / fight pain with more pain. / Forget who you are, / unburden your load, / forget in six weeks / you'll be back on the road. / When the voice in your head / says you're better off dead, don't open a vein..."
  • Madness Mantra:
    • "I worship you. I'd trade my life for yours."
    • "We can start and finish wars. We're what killed the dinosaurs. We're the asteroid that's overdue."
    • "Our love is God. Our love is God. Our love is God..."
  • The Makeover: Veronica at the end of "Beautiful." Fortunately, the show doesn't try to pretend she wasn't attractive before ("For a greasy little nobody, you do have good bone structure..."); just with drab clothes and no special effort put into her appearance. Once she does put the extra effort forth, she's a knockout.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Ghosts, or guilt-induced hallucinations? You decide.
  • Meaningful Echo: A fairly subtle but dark example shows up in Shine a Light (Reprise), echoing Candy Store.
    "You can join the team, or you can bitch and moan. You can live the dream, or you can die alone."
    "Your ass is off the team. Go on and bitch and moan. You don't deserve the dream. You're gonna die alone!"
  • Minor Character, Major Song: The musical has two big numbers (Dead Gay Son and Shine a Light) that are sung by pretty minor characters (Kurt and Ram's dads, and Mrs. Fleming, respectively).
    • There's also a few songs for supporting characters, but they don't fit the trope as much as the top two (they are Blue for Kurt and Ram, Lifeboat for Heather McNamara, and Kindergarten Boyfriend for Martha).
  • Missing Mom: J.D.'s mother killed herself when he was younger. She's only brought up two or three times in the show, but it's clear he misses her terribly.
  • Musicalis Interruptus:
    Heather Duke: Honey, watchu waiting for—
    Heather Chandler: SHUT UP, HEATHER! Step into my candy store...
    • Also:
      Students: No one thinks a pretty girl can touch you!-
      New Wave Girl: Heather touching me!
      Students: But she's made us better than we were!
  • Mood-Swinger: J.D. to a frightening degree during "Meant to Be Yours." He goes back and forth from singing how he plans to kill everyone in the school and that Veronica deserves to be dead in 4/4 time, then softly sings that she needs to stay with him with a completely different - almost waltz-like - melody.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Veronica begins to feel this when J.D. murders Kurt and Ram. She wanted revenge, but she didn't want them dead. And again after Martha's suicide attempt.
    • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: The spirits of Heather Chandler, Ram and Kurt taunt Veronica in "Yo Girl" that she's "truly a Heather" and "earned that red scrunchie." After J.D. makes his Heroic Sacrifice she DOES take the scrunchie from Heather Duke and says "There's a new sheriff in town."
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg:
    Martha: My kindergarten boyfriend and I... and a horse with wings.
  • Nice Girl: Martha.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
    • Kurt and Ram Slut-Shaming Veronica makes them seem as "villains" in a vulgar way to J.D. So it seems they're validating his killing them both.
    • Heather Duke wanted to show she could outdo Heather Chandler once she becomes Lead Heather, but trying to get Heather McNamara to kill herself got Veronica to foil that plan, and drive the Token Good Teammate of the original Heathers to bond to Veronica.
    • J.D. asking "What's one more Dead Heather?" drives a wedge between him and Veronica, and causes her to break from him.
  • No Bisexuals: Martha concludes Ram's suicide was faked because he couldn't have been gay if they kissed as kindergartners. She was right, but still...
    • Of course, the show takes place in 1989, so it's entirely likely the possibility wouldn't have occurred to her.
  • No Place for Me There: At the show's end, J.D., who claims to want to "make the world a decent place for people who are decent," kills himself, because he's "far too damaged, but [Veronica's] not beyond repair." It definitely has implications of this.
  • Obsession Song: J.D. has three: "Our Love is God," "Meant to be Yours," and "I Am Damaged."
  • Oh, Crap!: When Martha Admits she thinks Ram and Kurt were murdered, and suspects J.D.
    Martha: I want to look in J.D.'s locker.
    Heather C: I bet there's all kinds of interesting things in that locker! Maybe some "Ich Lüge" bullets?
    Veronica: Oh, crap.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Veronica, throughout most of the show.
    • Weirdly, J.D. of all people gets a song of being this; specifically, "Dead Girl Walking," where he's decently confused as to what's going on, and stops making out with Veronica briefly to ask how she found his address. (Veronica's drunk as hell at the time.)
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The ghosts of Heather Chandler, Kurt, and Ram appear multiple times throughout the show, though it's unclear if they're ghosts or simply the manifestation of Veronica's guilt. (In "Yo Girl," they warn her that J.D. is coming, so they could be real ghosts, but that could also be Veronica's gut telling her.)
  • Parental Love Song: "Dead Gay Son", albeit very loosely.
  • The Pollyanna: Martha, despite the bullying she faces.
  • Precision F-Strike: Veronica delivers one after J.D. kills Kurt and Ram.
  • Prison Rape: Ram and Kurt's ghosts are excited about the idea of Veronica getting sent to "Lady Prison."
  • Properly Paranoid: When J.D. begins circulating his "petition," Veronica urges Heather Duke to just throw it away, saying she's sure J.D.'s up to no good, even if she doesn't know what. She's right, of course. The so-called petition was just a way to get everyone in the school to sign something - specifically, a suicide note, allowing J.D. to plant a bomb and make it look like a mass suicide.
  • Psycho Strings: Present in the background of a lot of J.D.'s songs and dialogue.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Heather McNamara only does what the other Heathers tell her to do. She's much nicer when she's not around them. It's implied the only reason she participates in their bullying is because she's afraid she might be bullied herself if she left the group. Her fears are unfortunately well-founded. However, Veronica gives her someone to bond to when Heather Duke turns on Heather McNamara when the former strikes back for all the abuse about bulimia that the latter and Heather Chandler piled on her, knowing the dead Heather Chandler can't save the latter now.
  • Race Lift: Heather Duke in the original Off-Broadway is played by Alice Lee, an Asian actress and in the closing Off-Broadway and Hudson Theatre is played by Kristolyn Lloyd, a black actress.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: J.D. carrying a loaded gun around (and at one point accidentally having it pointed at Veronica) is part of the reason Veronica breaks up with him.
  • Redemption Rejection: J.D. does this during the reprise of "Dead Girl Walking."
    Veronica: I wish your mom had been a little stronger.
    I wish she'd stayed around a little longer.
    I wish your dad were good,
    I wish grownups understood!
    I wish we'd met before
    they convinced you life is war!
    I wish you'd come with me.
    J.D.: I wish I had more TNT.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: In a way, Musical!Veronica is the red to Movie!Veronica's blue. In the musical, Veronica is much more impulsive, emotional, awkward, and passionate, while in the movie she comes off as more collected, calm, reserved, and stoic.
  • Running Gag: "Shut up, Heather!" "Sorry, Heather."
  • Sanity Slippage: J.D., obviously, but also Veronica. At least if you think the ghosts are just inside her head.
  • Sanity Slippage Song:
    • "Meant to Be Yours" for J.D.
    • "Yo Girl" for Veronica, though it's sung by the ghosts of Heather Chandler, Kurt, and Ram rather than Veronica herself.
  • See You in Hell: One of Veronica's many Badass Boasts in "Dead Girl Walking (Reprise)"
  • Serial Killer: J.D., but he redeems himself by the end.
  • Signature Laugh: Barrett Wilbert Weed has one that is adorable and hilarious.
    J.D.: ...My problems were myriad—
    Veronica: I was having my period. [Beat] (laughs at her own painful rhyme for about 30 seconds) [Beat] *looks at Heather C's dead body* OH MY GOD.''
  • Single-Target Sexuality: J.D. only has eyes for Veronica, and a lot of his comments imply he's never been in love before her.
  • Slut-Shaming: Veronica has a nightmare about being branded a slut for sleeping with J.D. It comes true when the whole school mocks her when Kurt and Ram spread rumors that she had a three-way with them. Crosses with Freudian Excuse and maybe Nice Job Fixing It, Villain! as it gives J.D. the perfect excuse to kill them: they'd just defamed his girlfriend in a heinous, vulgar way, so in his mind, THEY, not he, are the villains.
  • The Sociopath: J.D.'s dad is this, as in the film. Heather Duke mocking McNamara and Martha's suicide attempts makes you wonder about her.
  • The Starscream: Heather Duke.
  • Stepford Smiler: Heather McNamara, especially after Heather Chandler dies. The mask finally cracks in "Lifeboat."
  • Stepford Snarker: J.D. comes off as a clever, wry, sarcastic outsider. And he genuinely is. But once you scratch the surface, you'll see that deep down, he's not a happy person by any stretch. And also, completely nuts.
  • Take That!: "Me Inside of Me" has one:
    Heather Chandler: "Jesus, you're making me sound like Air Supply." She changes her mind when her suicide note makes the rounds through the school and she realizes "I'm bigger than John Lennon!"
  • Taking You with Me: Veronica is completely willing to die if it's going to prevent all of the students of Westerberg from being blown to smithereens by J.D., but she's taking him down along with her.
    Veronica: And there's your final bell!
    It's one last dance and then farewell!
    Cheek to cheek in hell with a dead girl walking!
  • Teens Are Monsters: Especially J.D., Kurt, Ram, and the Heathers (though H. McNamara turns out to not be so bad). Actually, everyone except Martha gets at least one moment of this, though none of them seem to be truly awful people at heart. (In "Prom or Hell?", Veronica even laments that while Kurt and Ram may be horrible now, they could've grown out of it, but since J.D. killed them, we'll never know. The two even have a few lyrics in "Beautiful" implying that they're just as lost and confused as everyone else.)
  • Tempting Fate: When Veronica said she was fighting the urge to "strike a match and set this dump ablaze," she didn't actually mean it, J.D.!
    • Lighter example when after downing a Slurpee, Veronica claims she doesn't feel anything. The brain freeze immediately hits.
  • Their First Time: Veronica's, at least.
  • Throw the Book at Them: J.D. firing blanks at Kurt and Ram is replaced by him whacking them over the head with a large book. Which hides J.D.'s potential for murder until he actually DOES kill them with a gun armed with live, real bullets.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Veronica due to the influence of Heather Chandler and J.D. It's most noticeable when she tells Martha that Ram's love letter was a prank. She undergoes a Jerkass Realization after Martha's suicide attempt and spends the ending trying to make things right.
    Heather Chandler, Kurt, and Ram: Now you're truly a Heather/Smell how gangsta you are.
    • At the start, Heather Duke isn't worse than McNamara and is a bit of a Woobie because of Chandler's abuse. After Chandler dies, she takes over and treats McNamara just like how Chandler treated her though McNamara joined on the bulimia taunting due to Chandler's influence since the dead Chandler can't protect McNamara now. She becomes worse than Chandler after she spreads rumors about Veronica having a threesome with Kurt and Ram and mocks McNamara and Martha for trying to commit suicide.
  • Toxic Friend Influence:
    • Heather Chandler to Heather McNamara in bullying Heather Duke over bulimia. Once she knows Heather McNamara doesn't have Chandler to back her, Heather Duke strikes back. However, Veronica saves McNamara from herself, and bonds with the near-suicidal girl.
    • J.D. and Veronica to each other. She got him going with "Dead Girl Walking" when she bemoans the Heathers will ruin her, then that starts J.D.'s murder spree. It's only when he was ready to let Heather McNamra die as well that Veronica's had enough.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: Nearly every song in the show features this trope - it's easier to name the songs that don't (such as "Lifeboat" and "Seventeen").
  • True Companions: Veronica, Martha, and Heather McNamara are on their way to becoming this by the end.
    • Adding Heather Duke with them is optional.
  • Uncommon Time: Don't get us started. Notably: Veronica's parts of "Beautiful," "the dissonant ending sections of "Our Love Is God," "Lifeboat," and "Meant To Be Yours".
  • Unwitting Pawn: Veronica thought she accidentally killed Heather Chandler, and she's lure Ram and Kurt for payback. [[Neither time did she think J.D. would kill them.]]
  • Vigilante Man: J.D. views himself as one, claiming he's "making the world a decent place for people who are decent." The audience (and eventually, Veronica) realizes he's just hopelessly deluded.
  • Villain Has a Point: When Heather Duke nearly causes Heather McNamara to nearly kill herself, J.D. says Duke must be brought down. After J.D.'s Heroic Sacrifice, Veronica confronts Duke, takes the red scrunchie and gives her a "Take That!" Kiss. She then dons the scrunchie herself as she sings "Listen up folks, war is over, brand new sheriff's come to town" and addresses everyone with the next few verses of "Seventeen (reprise)".
  • Villain Love Song: Most of J.D.'s songs in the musical, and they grow progressively creepier and more unbalanced as the show goes on. "Dead Girl Walking" is a fun Intercourse with You song he shares with Veronica, "Our Love is God" starts out seeming like a normal love song, and even sort of sweet, before it takes a turn for the dark and scary, and "Meant to Be Yours" is terrifying, even as J.D. professes his love to Veronica.
  • Villain Protagonist: Veronica is the main focus, but it's just as much J.D.'s story as it is hers.
  • Villain Recruitment Song:
    • "Candy Store" for the Heathers.
    • "Our Love is God" and "Meant to be Yours" both have shades of this for J.D.
  • Villain Song:
    • J.D.: "Meant to be Yours," and a bit in "Our Love is God.""I Am Damaged" is a subversion, because he's finally giving up, and sacrificing himself for Veronica.
    • The Heathers: Their part of "Beautiful" for all three of them, "Candy Store" for all three of them (especially for Heather Chandler), "Shine a Light (Reprise)" for Heather Duke, "Very" for Heather Chandler, "Blue (Reprise)" for Heather Duke (shared with Kurt and Ram)
    • Ram and Kurt: "Blue," and "Blue (Reprise)"
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: J.D. just wants to make the world a decent place for people who are decent. Specifically, by murdering everyone that doesn't meet his standard of decency. Yeah.
  • Wild Teen Party: Ram's party.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The musical really enhances this quality for J.D. It's hard not to shed a little tear for him in "I Am Damaged."
  • A World Half Full: J.D.'s not entirely wrong when he says that the world is full of awful, selfish people who don't care about others. But Veronica's not entirely wrong when she says things can get better. J.D. finally comes around to this point just before he dies, and sacrifices himself so Veronica can live to make it happen.
  • Yandere: J.D. to Veronica. They actually managed to ramp it up from the movie. Check out these lyrics from the song "Meant to Be Yours:"
    You chucked me out like I was trash,
    for that you should be dead.
    But, but, but!
    Then it hit me like a flash;
    What if high school went away instead?
    Those assholes are the key,
    they're keeping you away from me.
    They made you blind,
    messed up your mind,
    but I can set you free!
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: See The Atoner and Fatal Flaw.
  • You Are Not Alone:
    • "If nobody loves me now/Someday somebody will..."
    • Surprisingly, a lot of J.D. and Veronica's relationship runs on this, too.
      Veronica: Are you okay?
      J.D.: I was alone.
      I was a frozen lake,
      but then you melted me awake;
      See, now I'm crying too.
      You're not alone.
      Veronica: You're not alone...
      J.D.: And when the morning comes,
      Veronica: When the morning comes...
      J.D.: We'll burn away that tear,
      and raise our city here...
  • Zettai Ryouiki: The Heathers, and Veronica, once she joins their ranks. "Dead Girl Walking" really plays the sexiness of the look up for all it's worth.