YMMV / Heathers

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    The Movie 
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Is Veronica manipulated into killing Heather Chandler and Kurt Kelly, or did she know exactly what she was doing? When she takes the cup of poison to Heather, she feels for the mug while kissing J.D. The poison mug has a lid, while the safe one does not. The film clearly shows Veronica's hand on the lid, indicating that she knew exactly which cup it was. Likewise, when she lures Kurt and Ram to the woods, J.D. shoots Ram with what J.D. has told her are tranquilizers, but are in fact real bullets. Veronica misses Kurt, who runs off, J.D. giving chase. While they are running, Veronica examines Ram's corpse, and it is clear that she knows it is really a corpse. Then when J.D. chases Kurt back, she shoots him. So, was Veronica manipulated into killing Heather and Kurt, or did she know exactly what she was doing? J.D. even argues that Veronica knew exactly what she doing but acted horrified because she couldn't face that that was exactly what she wanted.
    • Arguably, she crossed the Moral Event Horizon as soon as she shot Kurt, so he would never be able to tell what really happened in the woods.
    • Did J.D. bounce around from school to school only because his father needed to do demolition jobs in different cities? Or did his father have a keen nose for when his son started trying to get his own back at the cliques in his schools? J.D. seemed awfully ready to scare the pants off the football jocks, being armed with a gun that shot blanks after a Pre Ass Kicking One Liner.
      • See: JD's awkward silence when Veronica jokingly asks if he's "done this before" when he's saying what to write in Heather's fake suicide note
    • Is Heather Chandler really as bad as Veronica thinks she is, or did she have some skeletons in her closet not unlike what Veronica implied. While the note was obviously faked, one scene in particular implied that she may have probably become a Heather by pressure. Said scene involved her, with some hesitation, get coaxed into performing fellatio with an older University student. Then later she is seen in the bathroom, with a traumatized look on her face when she goes to wash her mouth out.
      • Was Heather Chandler's cruelty towards Heather Duke just because she could, or did the former realize how power hungry the latter was and doing her best to reign her in.
    • Speaking of Heather Duke, was she deep down always as malicious as she acts after Chandler's death and simply lacked the power to unleash it? Did the jealousy and bullying with Heather Chandler- and lack of intervention from Macnamara or Veronica- cause Duke to resent the clique? Or did she simply let the power corrupt her?
  • Awesome Music: The song on the soundtrack that plays when J.D. gets blown sky-high.
  • Critical Research Failure: J.D. gets off for firing a gun at the two bullies because he only fired blanks. This is extremely improbable even in the 1980s. The truth is, nothing that comes out of a gun is guaranteed to be non-fatal, especially if fired at point blank range like J.D. did. Kurt and Ram were extremely lucky not to have been hurt, and Heather C's statement that J.D. should have been arrested, presented as a strawman in the film, is completely accurate.
  • Counterpart Comparison:
    • The Heathers get compared to the Ashleys from Recess. They're a Girl Posse who share the same first name, and something of a group of Alpha Bitches. An episode of Recess even has a Cool Loser being forced to join their clique as Veronica does.
    • The four girls for the Plastics in Mean Girls. Heather Chandler the Alpha Bitch is of course Regina George, with Veronica's revenge on her getting compared to Cady's. Heather Duke and Karen are both the dim-witted ditzes, while Heather McNamara and Gretchen are the sympathetic Woobies who hate being in the clique.
    • There's also an obvious similarity to The Chanels from Scream Queens. To start with, the Girl Posse are all called by the same name, Heather (being their actual names) and Chanel #X (being a In-Series Nickname). The show and movie share a Black Comedy theme focused on murder and popularity games. On character specific similarities, Chanel Oberlin is comparable Heather Chandler (the Alpha Bitch with someone out for her life); Chanel #5 having traits of both Heather Duke (bullied by the leader, has some desire to take over as leader and is a bit ditsy, is a Phrase Catcher of "Shut UP Heather/Number Five") and Heather McNamara (the nicest of her clique, weak willed and submissive, and heavily concerned with the popularity hierarchy); Chanel #3 having some likeness to Veronica (the stoic, coolheaded member who is less interested in the popularity games the others and is willing to befriend and romance outsiders); Hester/Chanel #6 is a lot like J.D.(Axe-Crazy murderers raised in seriously messed up families, operating under the belief that they're punishing those who deserve it).
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The entire movie was intended as this, but has become harsher to watch over the years. But the conversation about how to kill Heather Duke definitely goes there. J.D. and Veronica argue over using a kitchen knife, which Veronica doesn't want to use because it's dirty.
    "Trust me; if Heather were going to cut her wrists, the knife would be spotless."
  • Cult Classic: The movie didn't make very much money and has difficulty finding a fanbase since the story is so morbid and cynical, but the fandom is very devoted.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The two protagonists embark on a spree of murdering the classmates they don't like - who are equally rotten - and passing them off as suicides. This is Played for Laughs, with the effect that the Crosses the Line Twice humour has now become uncomfortable due to Society Marches On.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: J.D. Unfortunately.
  • Fanon:
    • It's generally agreed that Veronica and J.D. had sex in the car after killing Kurt and Ram.
    • A hamster cage (with a hamster still inside) can be seen in J.D.'s room when J.D. is building the bomb. Fans have embraced this, naming it "Slushie" and making it J.D.'s literal Morality Pet in fanfiction.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Veronica/Heather McNamara for those who want fluffy Les Yay, and Veronica/Heather Chandler for those who like the Foe Yay dynamic.
    • Veronica/Heather Duke is also very popular, in a similar Foe Yay Shipping way.
  • Fridge Horror: Sure no one is in anymore danger after J.D. blows himself up but just think about what a lovely sight he must have left behind after that. And there's no way no one will see it.
  • Foe Yay: Veronica and Heather Duke. Their last scene together even has Veronica addressing her as "Heather, my love" before she grabs her and forcibly gives her a kiss.
    • There's a lot of this between Heather Chandler and Veronica as well. Some fans also see Foe Yay between Heather Duke and Heather Chandler.
  • Genius Bonus: One of the earliest hints that Veronica's dream sequence is a dream is the reference to Eskimos in Antarctica, whereas they're actually found in the Arctic.
    • The word does appear in Moby-Dick, just not with that spelling. (excerpt) 
  • Harsher in Hindsight: It seems as though, every year, something happens that makes the film just that much more uncomfortable to watch.
    • For one thing, there's the entire damn movie. When Heathers was made, the humor came from the absurdity of the idea of white, upper-middle class high school students killing each other. Then, the Columbine school shooting happened and sucked the darkly hilarious fun right out of the movie. The fact that Eric Harris specifically rigged up his school with bombs and filled his diary with the same anti-society ranting that J.D. spouts only makes it worse. Both the Columbine killers wore dark trench coats eerily similar to what J.D. wore in the final scene. And, of course, they both killed themselves after their massacre, as did J.D.
    • The idea of white, upper-middle class high school students committing mass suicide wasn't even necessarily absurd when the movie was made - as noted in the movie's own DVD commentary, the scriptwriter notes that Plano, Texas (a community almost notorious for being almost exclusively made up of white, upper-middle class residents) was once known as the suicide capital of America.
    • Kimberly Walker (Heather Chandler) utters the immortal line, "Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?". Tragically, Walker herself died of just that, 12 years later at the age of only 32. What makes it doubly uncomfortable are the scenes with Heather Chandler's death and funeral and, later, the appearance of her ghost in a dream sequence.
    • The character Peter Dawson prays he will never commit suicide. His actor, Jeremy Applegate, committed suicide on March 23, 2000.
    • The plotline about Heather Duke being the new Alpha Bitch can be like this due to the fact that Shannen Doherty was fired from two high-profile series, Beverly Hills 90210 and Charmed, due to her poor relations with her fellow cast members. She was even cast on the former from her work in this.
    • After the outbreak of gay teen suicides in 2010 that inspired the It Gets Better Project, it can be cringe-inducing to watch the part focusing on the two heterosexual football players who supposedly killed themselves because they were gay and saw no hope of being accepted for who they were, and the townspeople's reactions.
    • The student attempting to kill herself can be hard to watch due to reports of students killing themselves due to the extreme bullying they fall victim to.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Brad Pitt got rejected for the role of J.D. because producers thought he was "too nice". Then came Pitt's roles in Kalifornia, Fight Club, Snatch., and Inglourious Basterds. And he would get to play a J.D. in Thelma & Louise who, while not as nasty as the J.D. here, still robs a woman's life savings from her bedside table.
    • Jennifer Rhodes plays Veronica's mother. She later plays Shannen Doherty's grandmother in Charmed. Shannen's character in that was also a former Alpha Bitch.
    • If you watch this film back to back with The Legend of Billie Jean, it creates a bit of hilarity. Christian Slater fires a gun with blanks in this, while in Billie Jean he gets accidentally shot by a trigger happy policeman.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Betty, who's a slim, pretty girl with great skin. She wears glasses and unfashionable clothes.
  • Ho Yay: Ram and Kurt, to the point that they start a rumor about having a three-way with Veronica. One where their swordplay is front-and-center.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • While much more villainous here than in the musical, J.D. is still a Tragic Villain once you get down to it. He not only had a shit childhood (his mother died by walking into a building set to demolish in a few minutes while in front of his eyes, his father wasn't exactly a stand up guy either especially since J.D. most likely got his idea that the only way to beat the high school social system was to kill the popular kids from his behavior in some way), he was implied to be treated as an outcast by all of the schools he went to, he never had a true friend until Veronica met him. In the end, it's no wonder he ended up as a psychotic monster.
    • Heather Duke was bullied by Heather Chandler and suffered from an eating disorder that was worsened by the way Heather Chandler had treated her. And then Heather Chandler died, and she allowed herself to become equally malicious.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "I love my dead gay X!"
    • "Oh, fuck me gently with a chainsaw."
    • "What's your damage, Heather?"
  • Misaimed Fandom: As mentioned in the Draco entry, J.D. He's a sociopath who wants to murder his classmates.
  • Not So Crazy Anymore: The film got made in the first place only because the idea of outcast high schoolers killing each other was considered patently absurd. Post-Columbine, the movie can feel uncomfortable.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Mr. Moseby is in this movie. Yes, really. (He's the editor of the yearbook Veronica talks to about the "Heather Chandler memorial spread.")
  • Signature Line: "My teen angst bullshit has a body count," "Chaos is what killed the dinosaurs, darling," "Our love is God," and "You look like hell." "I just got back." all qualify.
  • Too Cool to Live: Heather Chandler, being far hotter than Veronica and a constant source of delightfully nasty and witty bitchiness, gets killed off not too far into the movie. The musical seemed to have realized this, as she has a bigger role in the beginning of the story and makes several appearances as a ghost to antagonize Veronica.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: The nerd Kurt and Ram put in a headlock outside of Heather Chandler's funeral. We're clearly supposed to feel sorry for him, but what did he really think was going to happen when he told the school's resident Jerk Jocks to 'sit and spin' while flipping them off?
  • Values Dissonance:
    • It's hard to imagine a film about teens actually murdering each other and planning to murder an entire school getting greenlit as a comedy these days. See the Harsher in Hindsight entry above.
    • One scene showed that them placing bottled mineral water in the jocks' bags as evidence that they were gay. These days, drinking mineral water isn't considered sissy or snobby; at worst one might be thought of as slightly over-health-concerned. This is discussed in the movie, where it's pointed out that even back then, drinking bottled water was being seen as acceptable, but J.D. points out they're all the way out in the sticks where it still hasn't caught on.
    • And in the wake of the aforementioned school shootings, there's no way a teen these days would get off so lightly for even bringing a gun to school - let alone firing it in the cafeteria. J.D. gets off because they were blanks, but he'd surely be expelled or suspended at the very least these days - not to mention facing possible jail time.
      • Kids have been expelled from school for drawing pictures of water pistols, or accidentally bringing a butter knife to school for lunch. There's no way he could get off without jail time.
  • Values Resonance: There's a lot of Black Comedy and murder played for laughs, but characters that willingly want to kill themselves are treated far more seriously. What's more, it was one of the few movies at the time that didn't glorify the high school experience as nostalgic and showed the students to be largely miserable people. With the rise in awareness of teen suicide, society has become much more sympathetic to high school abuse, something Veronica would definitely approve of.
  • Vindicated by Cable: The film, while not a box office success, found a lot of its fandom with repeated airings on WGN and TBS.

    The Musical 
  • Actor Shipping: Barret Wilbert Weed and Ryan McCartan, the original Veronica and J.D., get this a lot. Weirdly, Ryan's successor, Dave Thomas Brown, seems to get left out of it, even though Ryan's been dating Dove Cameron for a while now.
  • Adaptation Displacement: Most fanworks are based on the musical, though most musical fans have seen, or at least know the Broad Strokes of the film. Some works split the difference and adopt characterization from the film and apply it to the musical cast.
  • Awesome Music: Now in its full official soundtrack glory on YouTube. Have fun.
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
    • "Blue.", and its reprise
    • Veronica making an Innocently Insensitive joke about J.D.'s mother knowing what he's up to and J.D. promptly explaining that his mother is, in fact, dead? Not funny. Veronica's Oh, Crap! face when J.D. explains this? Hilarious.
  • Cult Classic: Fitting, considering the original movie is one, too. The musical has yet to go to Broadway, isn't very highly budgeted, and has had very few well-known actors, even among theater fans. Fortunately, with the help of the internet, the show has a definite fanbase, and a very vocal one, at that — though it's still small enough that most of the fans are aware of each other, at least on Tumblr.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing:
    • "Candy Store" puts the Heathers on a pedestal with all their hedonistic excess and general bitchyness, and they look so cool it's hard to deny their appeal, Veronica certainly didn't.
    • "Dead Girl Walking" makes the idea of breaking into your crush's house and demand passionate, angry sex sound awesome.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • There are two types of J.D. fans: those who see him as the tragic, complex, and likable, but ultimately villainous, obsessive, and murderous character he is, and those who see him as a misunderstood Woobie whose behavior towards Veronica is romantic. The former tend to find the latter incredibly embarrassing. (Luckily, they're a Vocal Minority.)
    • Similarly, there are those who ship J.D. and Veronica, but realize and admit it's an unhealthy trainwreck and would never want anyone to be in a relationship like that in real life (as one fan put it, "No one hates J.D./Veronica shippers more than we hate ourselves."), and those who think they're a perfect couple who are tragically beautiful together. Again, the former don't get along with the latter.
  • Ear Worm: Most of the songs in the musical, especially "Dead Girl Walking", "Candy Store," "Meant to Be Yours", "Beautiful", "Dead Gay Son", and "Blue."
    • "Who-o-o-o-oah!" "C'mon, Westerburg!"
    • "Full steam ahead, take this dead girl walking! Let's break the bed, rock this dead girl walking!"
    • "Freeze your brain, swim in the ice, get lost in the pain! Shut your eyes tight, 'til you vanish from sight, let nothing remain!"
    • "Box up my clothing for Goodwill, and give the poor my Nordic Track. Donate my car to crippled kids, or to those ghetto moms on crack..."
    • The little four-note phrase of "Our love is God", especially considering the number of times it's repeated in the music
  • Fanon:
    • J.D.'s mother's name tends to be either Sally or Megan in fanfic. Though what her maiden name was is still debated.
    • Despite the hamster not appearing in the stage musical, most fans of the show tend to agree that Slushie the hamster is still canon. (See the film section above.) Probably because it'd actually be more in character for Musical!J.D. to own one.
    • Veronica being bisexual, either casually or coming out after the events of the musical is very popular. This tends to be the end result of taking the Les Yay in both versions at face value and her kiss with Heather Duke in the movie. It also makes post-musical shipping easier among the surviving cast.
    • More often than not, Veronica's hallucinations tend to be written as actual ghosts in fanfic that only she can see.
  • Fountain of Memes: Every other line that comes out of Heather Chandler's mouth or Veronica's diary is extremely quotable.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Veronica gets shipped with absolutely everyone. Aside from JD, it tends to be with the rest of the female characters.
  • Les Yay: At the end of the show, Veronica asks Martha "are you free tonight?", the same line she said to JD. It's a gesture of friendship, but Martha's somewhat surprised expression makes it look like she thought it was a pickup line.
  • Love to Hate: Heather Chandler is an obnoxious, snooty, unsympathetic Asshole Victim, but she sells the queen bee image so damn well she steals every scene she's in. "Candy Store" is perhaps the most popular song in the show.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Among fans: "SHUT UP, HEATHER!"
    • The show closing: "I love my dead gay show!"
    • "Fuck me gently with a chainsaw!"
    • Barret Wilbert Weed's Signature Laugh.
    • "My teenage angst bullshit has a body count."
    • "Are we gonna have a problem? You got a bone to pick? You've come so far. Why now are you pulling on my dick?"
    • Veronica's entire monologue during "Beautiful," explaining who the Heathers are.
    • "Illegal Heathers." In 2016, someone found a bootleg of an almost hilariously bad high school version of the show (that was, in all likelihood, illegal and unauthorized). Notorious for having an awkward mix of dialogue from both the musical and movie, the leads having no chemistry, cutting almost all the songs, and other such cringe-worthy things, the fandom delights in mocking it.
    • The quire singing "holy shit!" three times at the start of "Fight for Me". Tends to be used when describing the anxiety before a test, or something disproportionately mundane.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • A lot of fans feel Heather Duke crosses it by mocking McNamara for opening up about her suicidal tendencies and anxieties and humiliates her further in something that was meant to be helping the students after the passing of their fellow classmates.
    • Though some fans also point out that while bullying someone- especially a friend- is terrible, it's nowhere near as J.D. (and Veronica) being guilty of actual murder.
    • The fandom's split on whether or not J.D. ever crossed it, and if he managed to redeem himself by sacrificing himself to save Veronica. However, for fans that think J.D. crossed it, him plotting to blow up the school is generally where they say he did.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • Barret Wilbert Weed!Veronica's laugh, which is adorably awkward. It helps that it's so infectious.
    • The guitar riff at the end of "Our Love is God".
  • Narm Charm: Many songs run on this. For example, "Seventeen" is about mundane things like watching bad movies and eating chili fries. "Kindergarten Boyfriend" is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. They should be hard to take seriously, but due to beautiful music and sincere acting, they're both genuine tear jerkers.
  • Painful Rhyme: Invoked. "My problems were myriad—" "I was having my period." (An intentional example, Veronica's awkward laughter and J.D.'s "uhhhh" expression afterwards make this one in-universe.)
  • Ships That Pass in the Night: There's a surprising following for J.D./Heather McNamara, especially in the roleplay community, despite him never speaking to her in canon.
  • The Woobie:
    • Veronica, for everything first Heather Chandler, and then J.D. put her through.
    • Martha "Dumptruck," for reasons that should be fairly obvious.
    • Heather McNamara, especially after her suicide attempt.
    • And in the end, you sort of have to cry for J.D., too.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/Heathers