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Film / John Tucker Must Die

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From left to right: Kate, Beth, John, Carrie and Heather.

John Tucker Must Die is a 2006 teen comedy film directed by Betty Thomas, starring Jesse Metcalfe, Brittany Snow, Ashanti, Sophia Bush, Arielle Kebbel, and Jenny McCarthy.

Three popular high school girls from different cliques — Heather, the Cruel Cheerleader; Beth, the Granola Girl; and Carrie, the Academic Alpha Bitch — team up to bring down the eponymous John Tucker, the guy who dated them all at once and then broke their hearts. Their weapon is Kate, the New Transfer Student, who has her own grudge against Handsome Lech types. The four hatch a plan to break John's heart the same way he broke theirs, fashioning the inexperienced Kate as the ultimate heartbreaker.

As the girls are molding Kate into everything she needs to be to win John, she's caught the eye of the "other Tucker," John's little brother. The first couple of schemes turn things From Bad to Worse, backfire and make John even a bigger hit with the other girls in the school. But he falls hard for Kate and she fears she might have bit off more than she can chew.

This movie provides examples of:

  • Alpha Bitch: Heather and Carrie mark two different types of the trope (Academic Alpha Bitch and Cruel Cheerleader). It's however made clear Beth and Kate are equally morally questionable.
  • An Aesop: Be Yourself. It's mostly a lesson for Kate, but you could also say that John and the other three girls had to learn to be more vulnerable and put on less of a facade.
  • And Then What?: Kate's question to the girls after they get their revenge on their two-timing boyfriend John.
  • Anti-Hero:
    • Kate is the film's protagonist, but her goal is to humiliate John by manipulating his emotions.
    • Even accounting for their (pretty legitimate) Woman Scorned feelings. Beth, Carrie and Heather come across as rather unlikable. They are ruthless, they don't care for any collateral damage, and they clearly don't particularly care about Kate either.
  • Becoming the Mask: Predictably, Kate ends up falling for John while pretending to date him in order to set him up to be humiliated. She grows to like him, particularly after she gets a glimpse of understanding as to why he did it, but it seemed mostly platonic, particularly seeing as she wanted his brother more.
  • Blame the Paramour: When John's three girlfriends find out about each other, they start fighting. When Kate gets hurt in the crossfire, she calls them out on how stupid it is for them to be fighting each other, when John was the one cheating on all of them.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Kate slowly turns from the shy sweet new girl into an Alpha Bitch due to the influence of the other three.
  • *Cough* Snark *Cough*: While in detention, Beth mentions that she and John hooked up, which makes Heather respond:
  • Cruel Cheerleader: Heather isn't as outright evil as some movie cheerleaders but she's still pretty bitchy and shallow.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Kate changes her mind about humiliating John, but the other girls play the pre-recorded "I'm Dumping You" video anyway. Defying genre convention, he doesn't take Kate back afterward.
  • Disappeared Dad: We never see Kate's father.
  • Fan Disservice: The 60-year-old faculty teachers wearing thongs under their pants at the end.
  • Fanservice: Kate's lingerie set.
    • The practice kiss between Kate and Beth.
  • Friendless Background: Kate. Before Heather, Beth, and Carrie, she never had any other friends, which may have motivated her into acting like an Alpha Bitch.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Beth teaches Kate how to kiss. Although it wasn't pointless it was clearly for titillation. An then we have the appropriate reaction of a dorkish guy:
    Boy: Holy Jama Llama! Kiss her again! Do it!
    Kate: Get out of here, you little perv!
  • Glamorous Single Mother: Deconstructed with Kate's mom. While she a good-looking cool young mom, she is also an emotional mess who is Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.
  • Go-Getter Girl: Carrie is a classic case, excels in school and in intimidating to other students. She is also a perfectionist, an Extracurricular Enthusiast and a School Newspaper News Hound. Apparently she speaks several languages and is writing a children's book.
  • Good Parents: Kate's single mother is a good mother towards her, offering her advice for everything.
  • Granola Girl: Beth, who lives like a hippie, doesn't like eating animals, is a vegetarian and wears a stolen bra made from 100% hemp. She also believes in the motto "peace and love".
  • Heartbreak and Ice Cream: As Kate narrates in the opening what happens after all her Mom's dates "skip" out on her, her mom is later shown with tears running down her face and her messily stuffing her feelings with spoonfuls of a can of chocolate cake frosting.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In the beginning of the film, when a 7th grade Kate spells "anonymous" wrong, the announcer proceeds to spell the word "wrong" as "w-o-r-n-g."
  • Jerk Jock: John definitely qualifies; he's the obnoxious star of the basketball team and he lies to girls he dates.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • All the girls get away with torturing John all year. No comeuppance. Although they more or less didn't deserve a commeuppance as they were arguably justified, especially at the end when Tucker doesn't learn anything.
    • John gets away with being the school slut all year with one little apology. Then they all forgive each other and have a wacky food fight.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Lori, who dates numerous guys nicknamed "Skip" (by Kate, as it saves her getting too attached to any of them) who treat her like crap and run out on her eventually.
  • Marry Them All: A non-marital type. John Tucker's solution at the end of the film. While his cheating isn't stopped, his lying has. Instead of lying, he decides to be honest and introduce his first new girlfriend to his other girlfriend on the side. Resulting into a polymorous relationship.
  • Ms. Vice Gal: Heather has traits like pride and vanity, but she's still a good person and a sympathetic character.
  • Never My Fault: Kate blames her mother's poor dating choices on why she's turning into an Alpha Bitch.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The girls' many attempts to publicly humiliate John, including an ad for Herpes, just only add to his public image as John takes advantage of this and uses it to help those affected with Herpes. Much to the girls' dismay.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: In-Universe example. Make John look like he has herpes? He turns it into a youth awareness campaign for STDs. Swap his pre-workout for estrogen? It appeals him to women looking for a more sensitive man. Have him caught by everybody in school wearing a girl’s thong? HE TURNS IT INTO A FASHION TREND FOR GUYS. John Tucker: star basketball player, ladies' man... and spin artist extraordinaire.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When Kate goes out to avoid witnessing another one of her mom's dramatic breakups with her lovers, her mother usually stuffs her face with a can of cake icing. When Kate returns, she instead finds that her mother has used the can of cake icing for a cake she baked and she did a responsible thing: she sent her lover home so she could make up with her daughter.
    Kate: Hey Mom, there's some frosting...with a cake underneath it.
  • Parents as People: While Kate's mom is a good mother towards Kate, she still has some flaws. It's shown that Kate's mom's dating life does seem to have a negative effect on Kate regarding her attitude towards certain men.
  • Polyamory: John's solution at the end of the movie. While he doesn't stop being a player. He decides to date both of his new girlfriends at the same time in an open polymorous relationship. But not without introducing them first.
  • Practice Kiss: Two of the titular character's girlfriends practice kissing together after Kate admits the she has never kissed anyone.
  • Stacy's Mom: Kate's mother is seen as attractive by guys around Kate's age and Beth.
  • Stripping Snag: Beth is sneaking out of the back of John's jeep when her skirt gets snag. Kate tries to keep John distracted while Beth struggles to get free. Beth is next seen getting into Carrie's car with her jacket wrapped around her waist and complaining "It's not even my date and he still gets me out of my skirt!" as John drives off with her skirt wrapped around his wheel.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Kate gets this speech from Scott because of how she turned out to be an Alpha Bitch.
  • Wisdom from the Gutter: Kate's mother, who always fails in her own love life, provides epiphany for Kate.
  • With Friends Like These...: It does stretch belief a little that Kate would stay close pals with Beth, Carrie and Heather after everything.
  • With Us or Against Us: The girls temporarily shun Kate from the group because she doesn't hate John enough.
  • Woman Scorned: Three actually and at the same time. Beth, Carrie and Heather were all dating John Tucker at the same time without knowing it. After learning the truth and being dumped by him, they make it their ultimate goal to ruin John Tucker's life.
  • You Are the New Trend: After an elaborate plan to humiliate John backfires (LongStory), every guy in the school starts to wear visible frilly thongs without any qualms. Even old men.