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Putting the 'Pal' in Principal

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The school principal is an understanding authority figure that's popular with the kids.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
LavonPapillon1 on Dec 14th 2017 at 7:41:21 AM
Last Edited By:
LavonPapillon1 on Apr 21st 2018 at 2:16:56 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

For some reason in fiction, the school principal is seen as the most likable guy in the school. Could it be that the position of high authority has granted them wisdom and understanding of the plights of adolescents, or is it because he doesn't have to actually deal with the little brats directly day-in and day-out? You decide!

Compare Badass Teacher, Cool Teacher and Psychologist Teacher as similar, but lower in the system's hierarchy. Contrast with Dean Bitterman.

See also Benevolent Boss.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Headmistress Miranda Holbrooke from Little Witch Academia (next to Professor Ursula/Shiny Chariot) is the most reasonable staff member of Luna Nova, supporting Akko's desire to learn magic without giving her a hard time and dealing out stern but fair punishments whenever they are needed.
  • Shinigami-Sama/Lord Death from Soul Eater is the immortal Grim Reaper and founder of Shibusen (or Death Weapon Meister Academy as it is called in the English dub), having created it to defend the world against witches and corrupt, evil souls. Originally a terrifying figure, Shinigami-sama altered his appearance and personality to be more child-friendly, turning himself into The Wonka. He is respected and beloved by everyone in the organization, his image and name plastered all over Death City and is even looked upon as a symbol of worship to some.

    Comic Books 
  • Professor Xavier from the X-Men comics has long been seen as the most wise and peaceful of the mutants, which makes him well suited to run a school for the betterment of mutant teenagers.

    Literature 
  • Professor Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter was the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for the entirety of Harry Potter's stay there. He has had a long and eventful life in the wizarding world, including defeating infamous wizarding terrorist Gellert Grindelwald. He is generally well-liked among the forces of good, his approval rating much higher that Cornelius Fudge when he was running for the position of Minister (despite not running himself), is the only person that Lord Voldemort ever feared and is generally accepted as being the Big Good of the series. As Headmaster, he comes off as a bit of a Cloudcuckoolander, but is all-around a loved and respected member of the staff.

    Live-Action Series 
  • iCarly: Principal Franklin is popular with his students, probably because he's the only adult in the school who is not a kid-hating sadist.

    Web Animation 
  • In the DarkMatter2525 video God of the Paradox, Carl Sagan is portrayed as the Principal of God School. When Yahweh tries altering his diploma so that it says "God of Everything" instead of "God of Pastries" despite his major being in Culinary Arts, Sagan allows it, claiming that in order to make an apple pie from scratch, one must first create the universe.
  • Professor Ozpin in RWBY, who is looked-up-to by just about every student in the school, and is willing to bend the rules a few times for his students' benefit.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Principal Goodvibes from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy is the dean of Endsville Elementary. He is generally portrayed as a lame but well-meaning school principal that gives out bad advice to characters that need them, and is generally the Butt-Monkey of whatever supernatural outbreak that happens to be going on at the time. He even admits that he had his name changed to Goodvibes legally.
  • Dean Peterson from The Simpsons episode "Homer Goes to College" is laidback and friendly, and used to play bass for The Pretenders. Homer, however, is convinced that he has to be a "crusty old dean" like the ones in the college movies he sees.
  • Jacob Two-Two: Principal I.M. Greedyguts' twin brother Y.B. Greedyguts looks this way, giving out hot chocolate to students, having heated rooms, and just being an all round nice guy. It's totally subverted when it turns out he's a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing and is actually worse than his brother, and the nice facade is to trick students and teachers into applying for his school, which is barely a school, but actually a place where people are forced to run on hamster wheels to generate energy.
  • In Equestria Girls, Principal Celestia and Vice Principal Luna are just as caring, friendly and loving as their Pony counterparts.


Feedback: 20 replies

Dec 14th 2017 at 11:15:09 AM

Dean Peterson from The Simpsons episode "Homer Goes to College" is laidback and friendly, and used to play bass for The Pretenders. Homer, however, is convinced that he has to be a "crusty old dean" like the ones in the college movies he sees.

Dec 14th 2017 at 11:19:01 AM

  • Professor Ozpin in RWBY, who is looked-up-to by just about every student in the school, and is willing to bend the rules a few times for his students' benefit.

Dec 14th 2017 at 11:25:45 AM

Principal and Principle are not the same word.

Dec 14th 2017 at 12:13:59 PM

  • iCarly: Principal Franklin is popular with his students, probably because he's the only adult in the school who is not a kid-hating sadist.

Dec 14th 2017 at 12:15:33 PM

  • Professor Xavier from the X Men comics has long been seen as the most wise and peaceful of the mutants, which makes him well suited to run a school for the betterment of mutant teenagers.

Dec 15th 2017 at 2:10:03 AM

  • Corrected spelling (principle).
  • Examples section
    • Italicized work names as per How To Write An Example - Emphasis For Work Names.
    • Replaced garbage text characters (caused by a non-standard text character) with a standard text character.

Dec 24th 2017 at 8:38:46 AM

Dec 27th 2017 at 2:37:01 PM

We don't need a page for every little variation of a trope.

Dec 27th 2017 at 11:29:37 PM

True, and yet we have those. It has nine Hats and several examples.

Dec 28th 2017 at 5:41:09 PM

^^ Well, that's for us to decide. Tropes always spawn specific subtypes.

Who needs Dean Bitterman when we already have Sadist Teacher? Your logic is not the best.

Jan 4th 2018 at 10:39:11 AM

  • Jacob Two Two: Principal I.M. Greedyguts' twin brother Y.B. Greedyguts looks this way, giving out hot chocolate to students, having heated rooms, and just being an all round nice guy. It's totally subverted when it turns out he's a Bitch In Sheeps Clothing and is actually worse than his brother, and the nice facade is to trick students and teachers into applying for his school, which is barely a school, but actually a place where people are forced to run on hamster wheels to generate energy,

Jan 4th 2018 at 11:21:14 AM

This doesn't seem reasonably distinct from Reasonable Authority Figure, not to mention it seems to grossly overstate the universal-ness of this trope. This is, as is, textbook The Same But More Specific. Something more distinct might be the principal being reasonable in contrast to lower staff who generally aren't, or a principal being One Of The Kids versus a stuffy old man.

Doesn't help that the trope-namer doesn't even seem to be an example. Though "bumbling principal or teacher really feels the need to be liked by the student body" is another potential trope.

... that said, if this does get launched, I'd suggest "Putting the 'Pal' in Principal."

Jan 10th 2018 at 12:23:17 PM

  • In Equestria Girls, Principal Celestia and Vice Principal Luna are just as caring, friendly and loving as their Pony counterparts.

Jan 11th 2018 at 8:40:04 PM

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service: One story covers disappearances from an elementary school where the principal is kind and friendly, sharply contrasting with a bitter and strict teacher. So of course it turns out the principal is a sick bastard who killed the client's mother and sister, then had her little sister stuffed and put on display in his house.

Jan 18th 2018 at 5:06:35 PM

Another Simpsons example:

  • In the show's 100th episode, Ned Flanders became principal of Springfield Elementary School after the former principal, Seymour Skinner, got fired. However, his more laidback approach to running the school quickly leads to classes descending into chaos. Superintendent Chalmers is indifferent to this, since this will be the eventual fate of all public schools in America. He only fires Ned when the latter makes a prayer over the school intercom. After all, "God has no place within these walls, just like facts have no place within organized religion."

Jan 18th 2018 at 7:47:29 PM

Not 100% sure this would count, but in Love Live! Sunshine!! Mari Ohara *is* the Principal despite being a child.

Mar 4th 2018 at 10:50:07 PM

  • To an extent, Principal Sweet from House Of Anubis was one of these. Though he was occasionally involved in scheming with Victor and had his bad moments, he was also often seen as a hard-working principal who typically treated the students well. He was often referred to as "Sweetie", showing that the students had some degree of affection for him regardless of his darker side.

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