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Film / Sky High (2005)

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"Living up to the family name means that I’m supposed to save the world someday. I just have one small problem..."
Will Stronghold

Sky High is a 2005 superhero film directed by Mike Mitchell and produced by Disney. Writing credits are shared by Paul Hernandez, Bob Schooley and Mark Mc Corkle.

The story revolves around Will Stronghold, son of the world's two most famous superheroes, the superstrong Commander (Steve Stronghold) and the flight-based Jetstream (Josie Stronghold). He is about to start high school at the titular Sky High, a school exclusively for people with superpowers and his parents' alma mater. Between dealing with Girl Next Door Layla (plant controller), son-of-archnemesis Jerk with a Heart of Gold Warren Peace (fireball thrower) and the typical cliques of high school (being either a hero or "Hero Support"), Will must also face the embarrassing fact that, despite his pedigree, he does not seem to have any superpowers. At least not yet...

It features a surprising number of high-level names, including Michael Angarano as Will Stronghold, Danielle Panabaker as Layla, Kurt Russell as The Commander/Steve Stronghold, Kelly Preston as Jetstream/Josie Stronghold, Lynda Carter as Principal Powers, Bruce Campbell as Coach Boomer, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Gwen Grayson. The film maintains a surprisingly sizable following, despite having generally fallen under the radar. This was also the first Disney-owned superhero movie scored by Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles doesn't count). None of his music was on the album released with the movie, but Intrada finally released his score in 2016.

To the surprise of many, a sequel was announced to be in development in 2017, although nothing has been heard of it since.

Not to be confused with the seinen manga by Tsutomu Takahashi. Or the silent film. Compare PS238 and My Hero Academia.

This film provides examples of:

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  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Quite literally one. When Will gets punched out of the window by Royal Pain, he is shown falling to the ground but it becomes a literal example of Die or Fly as he develops his mother’s flight ability and is able to rejoin the fight against Royal Pain.
  • 555: The number on Ron Wilson, Bus Driver's card.
  • Absurdly Divided School: The titular school is divided between heroes and "hero support", also known as side-kicks, based solely on their powers at the time of enrollment. "Hero support" students are looked down on by pretty much everyone else, and outright bullied in most cases, in addition to their classroom being much smaller and poorly funded, and them not even having the privilege to choose their own hero names. The driving conflict of the film is the protagonist being sorted into Hero Support for not having a superpower.
  • Academy of Evil: What Royal Pain plans to turn Sky High into, raising the now-infant students and faculty as a generation of supervillains. However, it was already an academy for villains as much as heroes.
  • The Ace: The Commander/Steve Stronghold, much to the annoyance of his son.
  • Acrofatic: Speed, one of the bullies/supervillains, is a Flash-like speedster in spite of being overweight. Having said that, his weight makes him extremely strong when he is at top speed, making him a Lightning Bruiser.
  • Action Dad: Steve Stronghold/The Commander is a superhero father.
  • Action Mom: Josie Stronghold/Jetstream, who has the ability to fly and help her husband defeat enemies.
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Layla tries to make a lemon for Will while saying When Life Gives You Lemons... but produces an apple instead. He snarks "Make apple juice?" and they both start laughing.
  • Adults Are Useless: Steve and Josie are the only competent heroes shown in work, but they are taken down in seconds by the villain in the finale. Anything worthwhile is done by adolescents (or Ron Wilson, Bus Driver). Even the villains are all young, sort of. (The only exception is Stitches, but he's controlled by Royal Pain anyway.)
  • Affectionate Parody:
  • Air-Vent Passageway: The main kids escape through one when the bad guys crash Homecoming at the climax.
  • All for Nothing: Villainous example. The bad guys have been working on their plan for at least seventeen years and likely over twenty, but their "victory" ends up lasting a couple hours max.
    Big Bad: I went through puberty twice... for this?
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Averted with Penny. Nobody in the film seems to consider her particularly attractive, at least not in comparison to the more "preppy" Gwen.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Mr. Boy, for Josie. Justified in-story, in that a hero like her could never notice someone in 'Hero Support' - not with the strapping, handsome, charismatic Commander around. Josie at least thanks him for saving her life with a peck on the cheek at the end of the movie.
  • Alliterative Name: Gwen Grayson, Steve Stronghold and Barron Battle, as is typical of the superhero genre.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: In this school, you're either a hero, or a zero; "Hero Support" = Sidekick = socially inferior. Lampshaded when Zach's glowing actually becomes useful, with Magenta singing "then all the reindeer loved him."
  • Almighty Bus Driver: Ron Wilson, Bus Driver is a highly-trained flying bus driver, and he isn't half bad in a fight either.
  • Alpha Bitch:
  • Always Save the Girl: Played straight in Save the Citizen. Warren shouts at Will to "save the citizen" which would win them the game, even when Speed nearly kills Warren by suffocating him. Will decides to save Warren and then toss him to grab the dummy hostage and win. Warren doesn't thank him, but he does mellow out later on.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: "Seems like just yesterday that you two were swimming naked in the kiddie pool."
  • And I Must Scream: It's implied that the heroes turned into babies have their consciousness trapped while being only able to cry and flop around, except for Mr. Medulla who can still talk. A baby Steve is crying in terror as Gwen monologues to him and mocks how he can't understand what she's saying, only to cheer up when his son appears.
  • And Starring: The opening cast roll ends with "and Kurt Russell".
  • Animorphism: Magenta, but she can only turn into a guinea pig.
  • Appropriated Appellation: If Coach Boomer doesn't like a student or their powers, he gives them an insulting moniker like "Popsicle" for Ethan or "Hothead" for Warren. In the climax, Coach Boomer orders "Hothead" seriously to evacuate students as Royal Pain goes on her rampage and Warren later calls Ethan "Popsicle" affectionately for helping him take down Speed, sharing a high-five.
  • Ascended Fridge Horror: In the final battle, Will is trying to talk down the Big Bad, only to get distracted on learning his ex-girlfriend is actually a de-aged supervillain rather than the daughter of one. He stops and says "I made out with an old lady." This gives Royal Pain the opening and motivation to start thrashing him.
  • Badass Normal: Ron Wilson, Bus Driver! Until the credits, at least.
  • Ball of Light Transformation: The Principal can transform into something similar to a mini-star. This gives her the ability to fly at a very high speed with drastic changes in direction and angle.
  • Battle Trophy: Steve and Josie have an entire section of their base to show off stuff taken from defeated opponents. Exploited by Royal Pain to sneak a spy camera inside.
  • Batman Gambit: A minor one in the beginning of the film. Will's parents defeat a giant robot terrorizing the city, and the Commander takes a part of the robot (its eye) as a trophy. That robot eye is still functioning and being used by Royal Pain (who sent the robot to attack the city in the first place) to secretly spy on the heroes. Royal Pain knew he would do just this ("His ego's bigger than a giant robot"), and the reporter says it's a habit of his.
  • Be the Ball: One girl's superpower is to turn into a big rubber beach ball. The unimpressed Coach Boomer merely kicks her away shouting "SIDE-KICK!".
  • Belly-Scraping Flight: Vertical example: when the school nearly plummets to the ground, Magenta restores the anti-gravity just before it crushes a house. Will, who's underneath trying to slow its fall, puts his feet on the house roof to push off and fly it back up again.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Gwen/Sue Tenny/Royal Pain hates when Stitches calls her "Daddy's little girl".
    • At the climax, Will seems to be making some headway into Gwen by means of Politeness Judo... until he makes the mistake of calling her an "old lady" after learning her backstory, forcing him to settle things the old-fashioned way.
  • Betrayal by Inaction: Will's Corrupt the Cutie moment acts as of this. He stands up Layla by accident at the Paper Lantern when Gwen comes to his house to invite his parents to Homecoming, then he starts hanging out with her because Gwen keeps pulling Will away from his sidekick friends. He finally puts his foot down when Gwen uses him to host a party at his house and hurts Layla's feelings.
  • Betty and Veronica: Layla and Gwen, respectively.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Will. When Warren Peace threatens his friends, Will goes from defensive to offensive and discovers his super strength at the same time. He also dumps Gwen when the latter makes Layla cry, and he ends up being crucial in the fight against Royal Pain.
    • Layla. She can weaponize plants, people. She just doesn't, usually, unless you strike the first blow. Then, all bets are off.
  • Big Bad: The film's main antagonist is a black-cloaked, deep-voiced individual currently observing the Stronghold family, unbeknownst to them, and with designs on the mysterious "Pacifier" weapon. Or, in other words, not exactly the sort of person you'd expect to turn out to be the hero's girlfriend, Gwen Grayson.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The brief conversation between Warren's boss yelling at him for slacking and his No, You Lame Comeback is in Cantonese.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Or in this case, Big Bad in sheep's clothing.
  • Black and Nerdy: Ethan.
  • Black Cloak: The Big Bad sports one of these until their true identity is revealed at the climax.
  • Boomerang Bigot: The Reveal of Gwen's past makes her coldness toward Layla, and indirectly the other sidekicks, somewhat perplexing. Whether she genuinely fell for Will, saw something of herself in Layla that she hated, or simply went drunk with popularity isn't particularly well-explored, though the second is slightly implied and the third more obviously expected.
  • Bowdlerise: In Bowling For Soup's version of "I Melt With You", the lyric "Making love to you" was changed to "Being friends with you".
  • Brainy Baby: Professor Medulla when he's regressed to a baby. He's still capable of talking and retains much of his knowledge.
  • Brick Joke:
    • There's an exchange from the first day at school featuring a guy with laser vision executing Male Gaze in a very tangible fashion on a girl with ice powers, who immediately retaliates by freezing him solid. Blink and you'll miss it, but later on in the movie, the main kids admire her handiwork.
    • Early on in the movie, it's mentioned that the only way for kids of superheroes that don't get powers to obtain powers of their own is to fall in a vat of toxic waste. This is mentioned again later. At the end of the movie, Ron Wilson, Bus Driver falls into a vat of toxic waste and does in fact get super powers. See "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue below.
    • Early during the Homecoming party, Zach asks Magenta for a dance; she turns him down, and he says "Me neither". At the end, she asks him for a dance. He accepts, saying "Me too."
    • Ron Wilson, Bus Driver fights a robot similar to the one Steve and Josie took down at the beginning.
    • During "Save the Citizen", Medulla mentions there used to be a time they used real citizens. During the epilogue, Stitches is said to have become the "citizen" to be rescued and nobody wanted to save him, but Will admits he was joking about that.
  • Broken Aesop: According to Layla, Will allegedly breaks down the barriers between heroes and sidekicks by manifesting hero-worthy powers while still in Sidekick class... only to be informed mere seconds later that he's been promoted to the Hero track. The fact that he remains loyal to the "sidekicks" even after his transfer (aside from temporarily letting popularity go to his head) might mitigate things slightly.
    • The fact that it was several "sidekicks" who helped save the day will presumably do more.
    • The film's primary aesop is that it's wrong to judge or mock others for shallow reasons like their powers or their appearance. It then spends the entire runtime making the powerless, old, fat Mr. Boy look as pathetic as possible for laughs.
  • The Call Put Me on Hold: Will. At least until his powers activate.
  • Camp Straight: Mr. Boy is a somewhat effete fellow who talks about topics such as what colors go well with his eyes. He's also still crushing on the prettiest girl in high school after 27 years.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Layla to Will.
  • Cardboard Prison: Heavily averted. The entirety of the detention room in Sky High is a Power Nullifier, as well as the prisons.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The film's bad guys don't beat around the bush with what they do, and the same is implied to be true for most other villains in this world.
  • Challenging the Bully: Thanks to his newfound powers, Will's friends decide he'd be able to defeat bullies Speed and Lash in a game of Save The Citizen. Though he spends the conversation insisting he has no interest in competing with them, the challenge is made anyway, with the stakes being a year without bullying or his friend's head being dunked in the toilet every day.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: Subverted for Will, played straight for everyone else.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • More like Chekhov's Pacifier - technically, it's an actual gun called the Pacifier.
    • The business card of Ron Wilson, Bus Driver.
    • The robot's eyeball.
    • Ron Wilson, Bus Driver taking time to mention the school's anti-gravity device.
  • Chew-Out Fake-Out: Will trashes the school cafeteria, gets into a fight, and uses his powers when he wasn't supposed to. His dad punishes him by telling him no X-Box for a week. Will protests that he doesn't have which point his dad reveals he's so proud of him for having powers that he bought him one.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Will and Layla, though it isn't mutual until the end.
  • Clark Kenting: Parodied with Steve and Josie Stronghold, who both wear thick glasses. While Steve accessorizes with vaguely 50s-style clothing, Josie just dresses like a normal mom. A normal Hot Librarian mom.
    • Royal Pain serves as a meta-example. Her yearbook picture is Mary Elizabeth Winstead—who plays Gwen—in glasses and poorly done hair. Given that Gwen being Royal Pain is meant to be The Reveal, and Steve explicitly says that he "destroyed" Royal Pain, the movie seems to assume that the audience will not recognize Winstead in this picture. In fairness, the picture goes by pretty quick, leaving little time for comparison.
  • Color-Coded Characters:
    • There's a prevalent theme in pairing up characters with complementary color themes. Specifically, Will wears almost exclusively red, white and blue, plant girl Layla wears green, and human glow stick Zach wears neon and white. Justified, in that you would want to play up your powers to impress your classmates. Besides, if your parents are superheroes with similar powers, similar colors would be included in their costumes. Because they like those colors, you would be exposed to them throughout your childhood.
    • More generally, each of the seven main teen characters corresponds to a color of the rainbow: Warren for red, Ethan for orange, Zach for yellow, Layla for green, Will for blue, Magenta for, well, magenta (okay, it's purplish-magenta), and Gwen for violet.
  • Combination Attack: One of the Commander and Jetstream's famous moves is for Jetstream to fly the Commander into battle and throw him at an enemy, as shown early in the film when the duo take down a giant robot.
  • Comedic Sociopathy:
    • Mr. Boy, Boomer, and Medulla partake in this on occasion.
      Boy: "Remember when we used to use REAL citizens?"
    • The cloaked mastermind frequently strangles Stitches when he's being annoying, to which he always replies "Uncle! Uncle!"
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: Poor Zach has this briefly happen to him during the Hero Support quick change lesson.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Will is more concerned about the fact that he made out with someone his parents' age rather than the fact said person turned out to be a notorious supervillain.
    Gwen: Royal Pain wasn't my mother. Royal Pain is me!
    Will: Oh my god... I made out with an old lady!
  • Condescending Compassion: How many Heroes, particularly Steve, behave toward Sidekicks.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Averted. Warren can't use his fire powers while the group is crawling through a ventilation duct because the heat would fry the others.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Will falls victim to this when he is sorted into the Heroes track and starts going out with Gwen.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster chose some... interesting positions to place the actors in relative to their characters' roles in the film. In particular, Layla is crammed into the back-right corner, and Warren is posed to look as menacing as possible. Subverted, though. Warren is the Red Herring and (while it's reaching) Gwen holds a gun similar in shape to her villainous weapon.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The setting is a colorful and comedic comic-booky world full of superheroes... who are governed by a Fantastic Caste System that's drilled into their heads from at least their teenage years. There are also quite a few despicable super-criminals about, including at least one guy bad enough to earn four consecutive life sentences.
  • Cruel Cheerleader: Exaggerated: Penny is not just one of Sky High's cruel cheerleaders, she's all of them.
  • Crush Filter: Every time Will looks at Gwen, she gets backlit and "True" starts to play.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Royal Pain versus Steve the second time. She just shoots him with the Pacifier to make him regress into being a baby. Then she follows it up by doing the same to Jetstream and most of the other supers at homecoming.
    • Layla versus Penny, when one of Penny's clones slap her. They lampshade that they thought she was a sidekick.
    • Stitches versus Ron Wilson, Bus Driver. Ron knocks him down with one punch.
  • Cyber Cyclops: The giant robot defeated by Commander and Jetstream early in the film has a single eye as its sole facial feature, which the Commander decides to remove and keep as a souvenir. It turns out to be a spying probe.

  • Daddy's Little Villain: Gwen was raised by Stitches to be evil, and she absolutely hates whenever someone (including Stitches himself) points this out. Also a rare instance of the "little villain" rather than the "daddy" being the dominant partner.
  • Dangerous Device Disposal Debacle: The Stronghold family defeated Royal Pain and took the villain's weapon, the Pacifier, as a new addition to their ever-growing collection of trophies — even though they don't know what it does. Years later, Royal Pain plots to retrieve the Pacifier by stealing it back from the Strongholds. Royal Pain even uses their tendency to collect trophies by sending a giant robot with a big shiny part for them to take — which is actually a camera that lets her into the vault.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Warren Peace.
  • Dating Catwoman:
    • Warren has a superheroine mother and supervillain father.
    • Will and Gwen, though in all fairness Will didn't know that Gwen was evil.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Magenta. She even dryly sings the aforementioned "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" line to tease Zach.
    • Warren Peace gives her a run for her money. Every second line out of his mouth is snark, usually aimed at the other main characters.
      Warren: Does anyone else need a date for homecoming?
      (Ethan raises his hand, looking hopeful)
  • Death Glare: Mr. Grayson gives Will a pretty epic one upon his first meeting with his daughter's new squeeze, apparently concerned that he's the boy with six arms and that he won't keep them to himself.
  • Deconstruction: The film does this to a lot of popular superhero tropes, such as children of two superheroes winning the lottery (Will gets it, but Ron Wilson, Bus Driver, ended up with no powers whatsoever), various bitter villains and superheroes causing a lot of the problems, sidekicks never getting any respect and literally being expected to just hand things to their heroes, and the Fantastic Caste System that often results in people with unique powers being put into the sidekick course because they're seen as "useless," such as Sue Tenny. Thankfully, at the end, stuff like this seems to be going away.
  • Defrosting Ice King: Warren after Will rescues him during Save the Citizen and as Layla becomes his Morality Pet. He even wears a tux to the dance despite saying he wouldn't rent one.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The whole motivation for Gwen: back when she first attended Sky High as Sue, her powers weren't fully understood and seen as useless, so she was labeled a science geek and made a sidekick (not to mention during that time period in comics, there weren't many technopaths). Nowadays, her powers are seen for the useful and versatile abilities they are.
  • De-Power Zone: The school's detention room is designed to neutralize the powers of everyone who enters, thereby preventing any further problems from troublesome students.
  • Derailing Love Interests: It seems to happen with Gwen late into the film, but it's averted when we find out it's actually her façade slipping and her revealing her true character.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Layla vs Penny.
  • Destination Defenestration: At the end of the film, Gwen/Sue Tenny/Royal Pain forces Will out of Sky High's window only for him to use his mother's flying powers to return to the school.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Royal Pain.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Warren tells Will in the climax to go after Gwen since he, Ethan and Layla can handle Penny, Lash and Speed. The latter immediately split up the former in the ensuing fight, not allowing them to work as a team. Having Will there would have turned the tides much sooner.
    • When you stop and think about it, Gwen’s entire Evil Plan to turn heroes into babies and raise them as villains is this. Why? Because she herself still remembers her entire life from before her own Age Regression, meaning there’s no reason the babified heroes wouldn’t have been the same way, making her plan to raise them as villains dead in the water.
  • Die or Fly: Royal Pain punches Will off the edge of the school. Thankfully, he discovers he can fly.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: When Gwen goes over the rules of the school, Will gets completely lost in his Crush Filter while staring at her. "Rules? What rules?"
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Steve. The Commander's Super-Strength means that he sometimes has problems with household electronics when he gets upset. Luckily, he has extras.
    • Shown again when he puts a pool stick straight through the cue ball when he's aggravated.
    • And Will, after he gets his powers. Justified, since Will is less experienced than his father.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The climactic homecoming event has a supervillain firing a (de-aging) gun into a crowd, taking out several adults (including teachers) before focusing on the panicking students who try to flee for their lives. It's not hard to see the similarity between Royal Pain's method and that of real-life mass murderers at schools.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • Will gets attacked by Warren during their first encounter in the cafeteria. When Warren threatens his friends, however, Will takes him out with his newly-developed Super-Strength.
    • After being victimized by Speed and Lash earlier in the movie, Ethan plays a major role in taking them out of commission during the climax.
  • Dragon Their Feet: Kinda, sorta. Stitches is the last villain standing by the end. He attempts to get away with the age-regressed superheroes, but he's almost immediately taken down by none other than Ron Wilson, Bus Driver.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Ron Wilson, Bus Driver.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Curriculum example: it turns out that the sidekicks' decree to stay out of danger and not be a hero is legitimate when said sidekick's powers would make them The Millstone. Zach mocks it, but in the climax he and Magenta take it to heart when neither of their powers can stand up to Lash, Speed or Penny. Staying out of the way means that Warren only has to worry about himself and Ethan.
  • Dutch Angle: Almost every scene is shot this way.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: More so for Warren Peace than the others. He starts off as a loner because not even the snotty Hero track students want to be associated with him, due to his father being a giant criminal. Everyone assumes he's going to go evil as well, so he decides to play the part and attack Will when the latter accidentally trips on him. He starts mellowing out when Will insists on rescuing him from Speed during Save the Citizen; while he doesn't thank Will, he becomes nicer to Layla when she's stood up accidentally at the Paper Lantern and pulls out his dad's tux for the dance after finding out she's upset at Will. The villains failing to recruit him bites them in the climax when he helps the Sidekicks escape and stands up to them, fully cementing himself as a hero. Cue him being lauded as such, getting True Companions, and shedding his father's reputation.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Secret Sanctum.
  • Elaborate University High: It starts off by being a floating and mobile campus in the sky to prevent villain invasions, accessible only by rocket powered school bus.
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Mr. Medulla as a baby.
  • Enemy Mine: Lash and Speed force Will and Warren to team up during Save the Citizen. In a case of Nice Job Fixing It, Villain, not even Warren is petty enough to let his grudge against Will affect gameplay, and his Jerkass Has a Point moment is about Will focusing to win. Will then insists on saving Warren from Speed, who is suffocating him, and they win the game nonetheless. While Warren doesn't thank him, he drops most of his animosity towards Will, especially after talking to Layla. By the end of the movie, Will describes Warren as his best friend.
  • Energy Ring Attack: The Freeze Ray Gwen assembles in science class emits a ray like this.
  • Enter Stage Window: Will flies back in through the broken gym window after Gwen throws him off the edge of the school during the final battle.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • After a particularly over-the-top moment from Stitches, Gwen gives a visible shudder and sneers "Lunatic." In the climax, she hands off a baby Commander to Stitches before fighting Will, showing she won't physically harm an infant.
    • Coach Boomer gleefully picks on his students, but when the villains start actively harming them at the climax, he stays behind to give the main kids the chance to escape.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Will dumps Gwen when the latter makes Layla cry and leave Will's house in a rush. Will was head over heels for Gwen and didn't even know the context of her and Layla's altercation, but it doesn't matter - she made his best friend cry, she's gone.
    • Warren is the one who bluntly tells Will that if Layla hates him, then Will must have really screwed up. For Homecoming, Warren also shows up in a tux despite promising not to rent one.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Most of the adults went to Sky High at around the same time. The cover of Steve's yearbook indicates they were the class of 1978.
  • Evil Counterpart: Gwen/Sue Tenny/Royal Pain is this to Layla. Gwen's technopathic abilities had been treated as a joke, and she was forced into a sidekick role, turning her into a villain. Layla herself has control over plants, but she doesn't show them off, nor does she turn her annoyance over the Sidekick/Hero rule into violence.
    • Little bit of brilliance here, however. Sue was going to high school in the late 70s, when tech as she knew it was primitive compared to today's technology (even by evil genius standards). As such, she and the rest of the geeks were derided and humiliated. On the other hand, someone like Layla would have been a lot more welcomed in that era and most certainly would have had a lot more 'power' behind her abilities.
  • Evil-Detecting Baby: The parents/superheroes-turned-infants begin to cry when being loaded into an "evil bus," Will's father especially when being spoken to by Royal Pain.
  • Evil Is Hammy:
    • Gwen turns on the ham when she reveals herself as Royal Pain.
    • It runs in the family - Stitches is over-the-top to such a degree he gives Gwen the creeps.
  • Evil Plan: The Big Bad wants revenge, but that's actually a sidenote to their real agenda, turning everyone in the school into babies and repurposing the school as a villain training center.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The cloaked mastermind has a very deep, intimidating voice with a metallic tinge, courtesy of Patrick Warburton. Said mastermind turns out to be a teenage girl (albeit a deaged one) using a voice scrambler.
  • Evil Twin: Parodied, when Coach Boomer invites Medulla on a double-date with a female hero and her evil twin. When we see the date, it's with Boomer looking on in disgust as Medulla enjoys the attention of both ladies.
  • Exact Words:
    • Layla will only use her powers if a situation demands it, and she doesn't like using them "for violence". A situation that demands it would be a supervillain smacking her in the face, and she wraps the latter in vines to incapacitate rather than hurt them.
    • Warren says he won't rent a tux for Homecoming. He shows up wearing one that used to belong to his dad.
    • Will orders Ron Wilson to get help if he's not back in thirty minutes from stopping Royal Pain in the climax. Ron listens, but then he notices someone hijacking the school buses. Since it was less than thirty minutes, Ron has no problem with leaving his bus and decking Stitches in the face before he can make off with de-aged students, teachers, and superheroes.
  • The Faceless: Royal Pain’s face is kept concealed inside a helmet until the climax of the film.
  • False Dichotomy: Layla, asked to demonstrate her powers, claims that the hero/sidekick dichotomy is a false one but is cut off by Boomer declaring her a sidekick.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Hero-Sidekick dichotomy is drilled into the heads of everyone at Sky High, and there's a subtle undercurrent throughout the film that it's the source of the majority of the conflict.
  • Fantastic Racism: Replace Fantastic Racism with Fantastic Elitism, and the archetype still fits here. A very low-key one, but those in "Hero Support" are often looked down upon by those deemed hero worthy. It becomes a plot point later on, to say the least.
  • Fastball Special: With Will playing the part of Colossus, and Warren playing the part of Wolverine.
  • Fat and Skinny: Speed (the fat guy) actually has Super-Speed, but Lash (the skinny guy) has stretching powers.
  • The Fettered: Layla will only use her powers when "a situation demands it," like comforting her best friend after a bad first day of school, rather than to show what she can do to the coach. This comes in handy when she has to fight Penny, who thus has no idea what Layla is capable of when she really cuts loose.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Especially in Warren's case.
  • First Girl Wins: Will and Layla, who he's known since first grade, get together.
  • Flying Car: Sky High's school bus, appropriately enough, is a flying bus.
  • Foil:
    • Gwen and Layla, to each other. One's powers are derived from technology, the other's from nature. One is an overachiever, the other doesn't want to achieve in what she sees as a corrupt system. One's a senior, the other's a freshman. Finally, of course, they both like the same guy. They also both have serious axes to grind with Sky High's system, but while Layla resists nonviolently, Gwen has other ideas.
    • Will, Warren, and Gwen form a foil triangle of children defined by who their fathers are. Will admires his father for all the good he doers, but he also feels immense pressure from him to carry on his legacy rather than be his own person. Warren has to live with the stigma of having one of the world's worst supervillains for a father, and everyone expects him to turn out the same rather than care about who he really is. Gwen is also the (adopted) daughter of a supervillain, raised by him for the sole purpose of revenge. Unlike Warren, she gleefully lets this fact define her.
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Steve took it hard that Will still didn't have any superpowers to enable him to become a superhero, but both Steve and Josie say he could still go into real estate.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Coach Boomer drops a car on Will to test his strength and a spring trap to determine whether he could fly. Will failed both tests, but those were the superpowers he developed later on.
    • When the nurse and Will were talking about inherited superpowers (or lack thereof), Ron Wilson was outside swinging a broom like a weapon. Guess what he uses as a weapon once he gets his powers later on?
      • The nurse explains that falling into a vat of toxic waste is the only way somebody without powers can get them (that, or getting bitten by a radioactive insect).
    • Pay close attention when Will's parents talk about what a weirdo they thought Sue Tenny was in High School. Gwen, who is on a date with Will, seems annoyed at this. It turns out she is Sue Tenny/Royal Pain. Of course she was upset. They just insulted her right to her face.
    • Similarly, note how casually but firmly Gwen tries to flip past the page with Sue Tenny's picture.
    • Will misses Gwen's advice on how not to fall off the edge of the school on his first day due to being too engrossed in her hotness. At the climax, Will does fall off the edge of the school... because the selfsame Gwen, as Royal Pain, pushes him off.
  • Forgot About His Powers: When the Big Bad traps an entire school of students and teachers with superpowers in the gym, no one ever bothers to use their powers to escape, considering the only thing blocking their escape routes are simple fire shutters. Only the Commander, Jetstream and Coach Boomer seem to take action but are defeated before they could use their powers.
  • For the Evulz: Penny, Speed, and Lash, apparently. Unlike Gwen and Stitches, they're never given any Freudian Excuses or likable quirks. They seem to be fairly popular in school, which would write off being kindred spirits to Gwen as motivation.
  • Fountain of Youth: The Pacifier's real purpose. It de-ages anyone who is unlucky enough to encounter its beam. Royal Pain got hit by it in her final fight with Will's parents, and she gets her revenge by turning it on them. Mr. Boy is the only one who resists it for a fairly long while, and he needs to be hit twice for it to take effect.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Among other things, you can see the athletic banners hanging in the Sky High gym that list some other sports aside from Save the Citizen they play there (such as "Danger Maze") as well as read excerpts from Steve's yearbook.
  • Freeze Ray: Built by Will and Gwen in Medulla's class; Medulla promptly turns it on a failing student who confused rays with beams.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Steve probably regrets picking on Sue Tenny in high school. She grows up to become his archnemesis, Royal Pain.
  • Funny Background Event:
  • Full-Name Basis: Ron Wilson, Bus Driver
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: In the Sanctum, the Commander calls Will by his full name (William Theodore Stronghold)... and cheerfully celebrates with Will for the latter possessing his superpowers.

  • Gadgeteer Genius: Gwen can build ray guns with her mind.
  • Generation Xerox: The powers that Will gains come from both his parents; he gains his father's strength during the one-on-one battle with Peace, then he gets his mother's flight as he delivers the final blow to Gwen/Royal Pain.
  • Genre Throwback: This really wouldn't be too different or feel out of place if it were a Saturday-Morning Cartoon of the 1980's.
  • Gilligan Cut: When going over the blueprints of Royal Pain's generator, it's shown you have to be a rat to get into the vents. Everyone stares at Magenta, who replies "Oh, great." Cut to her, as a guinea pig, crawling through the vents.
  • Girl Posse: Penny herself is an entire girl posse.
  • Good All Along: Warren Peace.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Gwen had Will wrapped around her little finger due to his crush. He tolerated her clique's anti-sidekick behavior for her sake, but she finds out the hard way that he has a hard limit. Will dumps her on the spot the instant he realizes that Gwen hurt Layla and cost Will her friendship. Gwen is actually the Big Bad.
  • Goth: Magenta, and not a perky one but a cynical, snarky one.
  • Got Volunteered:
    • How Will ends up playing Save the Citizen against Lash and Speed.
    • Happens again in the very same scene when Zach says that if Will loses, they can dunk Ethan's head in the toilet every day until graduation.
  • Granola Girl: Layla is an outspoken feminist and environmentalist.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • The original Royal Pain, aka Sue Tenny, was the inventor of the Pacifier that is the lynchpin of the modern villains' scheme but was killed when the weapon malfunctioned during a fight with the Commander seventeen years prior. Or so it seemed....
    • Baron Battle, Warren's father, is an even eviler villain with a massive impact on the backstory. As he's presently serving a quadruple-life sentence with no chance of parole until his third life, we never actually get to see him.
  • Green Thumb: Layla. Though she's classified as "Hero Support" (AKA a sidekick), she ultimately shows as much power as any of her superhero classmates.
  • Harmless Freezing: Happens to several characters, in various ways. It is treated with levity.
  • Harmless Liquefaction: Ethan has the power to melt himself into a puddle.
  • Hate Sink:
    • The Big Bad is undoubtedly evil, but they have a fairly understandable motive, and their Secret Identity is someone the audience may well have wanted to like. Speed and Lash, by contrast, are two bullying and borderline sociopathic Jerk Jocks who torment everyone they encounter (including teachers) for no reason whatsoever. They end up signing on with the aforementioned Big Bad at the end of the film, again seemingly for no reason other than amusement. Alpha Bitch Penny is just as meant to be hated as the two, to the point where she is also outed as villain whose malicious actions make you wish for her to die.
    • Downplayed with Boomer. He's certainly the least sympathetic teacher, and the film invites you to hate him as the face of the Fantastic Caste System, but when the chips are down he does prove he has a more functional moral compass than Penny, Speed, and Lash since he tries to fight off the baddies while the trio join up with them. It helps that he's hilarious, as well.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power:
    • The viewer is initially led to believe Ethan's ability to turn into a puddle is useless. Near the end of the film, however, it turns out to be absolutely perfect for setting up a sneak attack. Lash never saw Ethan coming. Note that right before he takes down Lash, Ethan demonstrates the ability to flow vertically, something he'd never done before then.
    • Mr. Boy's teachings seem useless at first: how to change costumes instantly, stay out of danger while improvising, and work as a team to support your hero. While the costume change never comes up — except to allow Stitches to make a dramatic entrance — it turns out that if you change "supporting your hero" to "supporting each other," then it makes a bunch of seemingly pointless superpowers work together. For Magenta, at least, staying out of the climactic fight with Lash and Speed means that she's able to crawl through the school piping to get to Royal Pain's sabotage.
    • An in-universe example. Nobody saw the value of technopathy, causing Sue Tenny to be put into the sidekick class. She grew up into the supervillain Royal Pain and managed to build a de-aging gun and Powered Armor with the intent of turning all the superheroes into babies and raising them as an army of villains (and nearly succeeded both times). As Gwen, her powers were evaluated as Hero-class when she re-enrolled, primarily because technology had moved on a lot since the late 70s.
  • "Hell, Yes!" Moment:
    • Will, when his powers awaken in the middle of a fight with Warren.
    • Layla won't use her powers except in self-defense. One of the villains, believing their side has already won and that Layla's a wimp anyway, attacks her just to be petty. "Big. Mistake." Also counts as a Let's Get Dangerous! moment.
  • Heroes Want Redheads:
    • Layla for Will.
    • Josie also has reddish hair, though she's a heroine herself and already married to a fellow hero.
  • Heroic Willpower: Despite having no powers that we can see, Mr. Boy gets hit in the back by the Pacifier while holding a baby Jetstream and holds on long enough to spit out half of an Anguished Declaration of Love before Royal Pain hits him again. Note that the Commander and Jetstream de-aged in seconds.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Mr. Boy opens himself up to an attack from Royal Pain to save a de-aged Josie and make sure she wasn't hurt in the fall.
    • The teachers immediately shout at each other in the climax to protect their students, getting de-aged as they order the kids to find or make an exit. Special notice to Coach Boomer, who holds off Royal Pain rather than save himself.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: As Gwen Grayson, Sue is the walking embodiment of the Fantastic Caste System that she hated when she was in school, what with her ridiculing sidekicks the same way that she used to be ridiculed.
  • High School: Well, obviously.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Ethan's ever-so-glorious revenge on Lash for all the swirlies he receives from him and Speed. Also, Royal Pain fell victim to it when the Pacifier turned her into a baby.
  • Hold the Line: During Save the Citizen, Warren shouts at Will to get the citizen dummy as he distracts Speed. Before, Speed was blocking anyone from approaching the Death Trap. Will nearly does go for the dummy until he sees Speed suffocating Warren. He switches gears and saves Warren before tossing him to grab the dummy seconds before it's mulched.
  • Honey Trap: Gwen is a decidedly PG variant - she becomes Will's girlfriend to get access to his house, and by extension the Secret Sanctum and the Pacifier. Also a rare instance of the main villain doing the "trapping" personally.
  • Hooked Up Afterwards: Arguably, Zach and Magenta. Warren and Freeze Girl also count.
  • Hufflepuff House: No named characters from Sky High's junior class appear in the film. By comparison the protagonists are freshmen, Gwen and the three bullies are seniors, and Warren is probably a sophomore, though some sources call him a freshman too.
  • Hybrid Power: Will thinks he's powerless because his abilities are rather late to bloom. Turns out he gets both his dad's brute strength and his mom's flight (at different times), making him a Flying Brick.
  • I Am Not Lefthanded: Layla, when she reveals her powers after Penny hits her in the climax.
  • Idiot Ball: A very light case, with Steve.
    • Josie gets one in the climax. She sees red when Royal Pain de-ages her husband and decides to charge head-on rather than using the homecoming decorations as an Improvised Weapon or any strategic maneuvering. She gets hit easily and turns into a baby, nearly falling to her death if not for Mr. Boy.
    • Bigger one handed to the entire school near the climax. Over a hundred super heroes can't figure out a way out past barriers you'd see in a normal school hallway. None of them seem to even be trying to use any powers to aid the situation since the teachers are more concerned about saving the students (other than Warren, when he opened an Air-Vent Passageway), opting instead to grab the barrier and shake. Though, perhaps it's a case of Fridge Logic; you could argue that they are at a school for SUPERHEROES, and such emergency barriers would be designed to survive powered assault. However, that DOES bring the question of why they don't just try to break down the walls.
  • If I Do Not Return: Will and Ron Wilson, Bus Driver, have this exchange:
    Will: If I'm not back in 30 minutes...
    Ron: Come in after you!
    Will: ...I was gonna say "get help".
    Ron: [crestfallen] Get help. Right.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Ron Wilson, Bus Driver!
    • Will, at first.
  • Implied Love Interest: Zach and Magenta.
  • In Love with the Mark: There are scant but definitely existent hints that Gwen's feelings for Will might be becoming real, though it's not elaborated on much. She looks genuinely concerned for him on occasion, most notably when he's being beaten up by the bullies at Save the Citizen, and her angry reaction when Will breaks up with her indicates she actually intended on continuing the relationship even after getting the Pacifier - though precisely what her endgame for him was is completely unexplored.
  • In the Blood: Will inherited the powers of both his parents.
  • In with the In Crowd: Will becomes popular after manifesting cool powers and defeating Speed and Lash at Save the Citizen, even becoming the boyfriend of the senior Student Council President. Unfortunately, he leaves his freshman friends behind in doing so.
  • Incoming Ham: Ron Wilson, Bus Driver!
  • Incompletely Trained: They're all still in Superhero School.
  • Inherent in the System: There's a strong undercurrent throughout the film that the Hero-Sidekick Fantastic Caste System is the ultimate problem that causes all the conflict, from encouraging bullying and etching favoritism amongst the students to actively breeding supervillains from both arrogant heroes and bitter sidekicks.
  • Insistent Terminology: The "polite" term for a sidekick is "Hero Support." In practice, it comes off just as condescending.
  • Instant Costume Change: Appears to be a latent secondary power for every Super, even Sidekicks. Mr. Boy can change from his teaching clothes to his hero uniform after ducking under a desk for two seconds, and there's a scene in the Training Montage that shows the Sidekicks all managing to change clothes while quickly running behind a screen-divider.
  • Insult Backfire: After Layla incapacitates Penny and her clones:
    Penny: But I thought you were a sidekick!
    Layla: I ''am'' a sidekick.
  • Interrupted Declaration of Love: Mr. Boy is halfway through one towards Jetstream as Royal Pain turns the Pacifier on him. Interestingly enough, it took two hits to take him down.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One:
    • At Homecoming, on learning in order that Gwen is Royal Pain, she has the Pacifier, her "father" is her sidekick, and the whole thing was a trap for the Commander and Jetstream, the Commander can only say with wonder "Royal Pain is a girl?"
    • Royal Pain only attacks Will when he says "I made out with an old lady".
  • Jaded Washout: Coach Boomer. Steve Stronghold, outraged over the coach putting Will in Hero Support, rants about how Boomer "never made the big time" and now uses his position to pass judgment on other heroes' kids. He doesn't seem that far off in his assumption, as Boomer treats his students terribly throughout the film and arbitrarily labels them as "hero" or "sidekick" based on whether he thinks their powers are any good.
  • Jerkass:
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • During Save the Citizen, Will focuses when Warren tells him to keep his head in the game rather than let Gwen distract him. Later, Will silently agrees when Warren tells him that if Layla hates Will, then Will must have really screwed up.
    • Played with in regards to Boomer's Hero-Sidekick sorting.
      • On one hand, Boomer relegating those not fortunate enough to win the Superpower Lottery to Sidekick duty could be seen as Necessarily Evil, and why he's given that job. This is a school designed to create superheroes that have to go toe-to-toe with supervillains and city-wide threats: giant robots, huge monsters, evil geniuses armed with high-tech arsenals, and the like. Are they really supposed to rank the people who can punch through walls, fly, and run at Super-Speed with the girl who can turn into a guinea pig? They'd end up curbstomped by the first superpowered villain they fight, and most of the sidekicks would get their asses kicked by a Badass Normal. They do their part in the climax, but that's largely because they've got a Flying Brick, a pyromancer, and a Poison Ivy expy to handle the heavy-duty heroing and also because of multiple convenient coincidences that make them useful.
      • On the other hand, Will's father Steve thinks Boomer deliberately washes some real heroes' kids out as a form of petty revenge for not making the "big time" (i.e. not having advanced beyond "gym teacher"); Will had to explain that in Will's case he really didn't have powers. At least at that time. Will's mother, Josie, is specifically mentioned as both able to fly and an expert martial artist. If Sky High trains the high-level heroes in martial arts, why not the lesser-powered heroes who could actually use those fighting skills to augment their abilities? Why are the high-level heroes the ones who get the advanced technology like rays, and the lesser-powered heroes are expected to fork weapons over in a combat situation? Because no one expects the "hero support" to do anything.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Warren Peace and Coach Boomer.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Penny is probably the most heartless character in the film, with her being a villain backing this up. Same with Lash and Speed.
  • Just One Little Mistake: Gwen apparently just couldn't resist being rude to Layla at the party, which leads to Will deciding not to go to the dance with her, which also leads to him uncovering the Evil Plan essentially by sheer coincidence.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em:
    • The Sidekicks and Warren realize that they can't take on Royal Pain in a straight fight; some of the adults try, but they get shot with the Pacifier while shouting orders to each other. Instead, Warren follows Coach Boomer's instructions to make an exit and helps the sidekicks evacuate through the air vents. Royal Pain's lackeys, however are relatively easier pickings for them since Warren has fought Speed and Lash before.
    • After Layla shows off her powers, Penny and her clones reveal that if they stay in the school everyone will die, since Royal Pain is going to blow it out of the sky. Penny may be a heartless henchwoman, but even she doesn't want to lose her life.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Briefly demonstrated in a scene featuring Medulla teaching the "Hero Support" class.
  • Large Ham: Coach Boomer. Makes sense, considering his powers and the fact that he's played by Bruce Campbell. Stitches, as well.
  • Large Ham Title: Less pronounced than most with Ron Wilson, Bus Driver!
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Will and Layla.
  • Legacy Character:
    • Subverted. The current Royal Pain was believed to be the original's daughter, but she was the original after being de-aged.
    • Steve really wants Will to be his Legacy Character, a source of much angst for the latter.
    • Warren Peace. His parents are a superhero and supervillain. There's a lot of hinting in the first half of the film that he could go either way. In reality, he's all hero, but everyone thinks he'll go villain anyway, resulting in much anguish for him.
  • Leg Focus: Zach compliments Magenta's... while she's a guinea pig.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Inverted. Gwen for most of the movie has her hair in stylish, relaxed waves as she attempts to hide her cattiness. When she reveals herself as Royal Pain, her hair is tied up in a sensible bun so that it can fit under her helmet. It gives her a sterner look and reveals to Will and the audience that she is definitely a No-Nonsense Nemesis and supervillain to boot.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!:
    • Downplayed with Mr. Boy, who leaps into action to rescue a de-aged Josie. While it doesn't do much to save everyone else (and he soon goes down himself), it's impressive that he kept her from getting hurt and was fighting the beam with all he had.
    • Hero Support has to pool their powers with Mr. Boy's teachings and clever strategies to take down Royal Pain and her posse. They conduct themselves beautifully, especially Layla and Ethan.
  • Life Isn't Fair: When Layla complains that Power Placement and splitting kids into Heroes and Sidekicks based on how cool Coach Boomer thinks their powers are isn't fair, Will has this surprisingly deep retort:
    Will: If life were to suddenly get fair, I doubt it would happen in high school.
  • Light 'em Up: Zach, but he just glows.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Layla claims this of Will. She's lying.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Played with — each student's clothing varies day to day but with the same colors and design, hinting toward their emerging Super Hero personas.
  • Longer-Than-Life Sentence: There's a passing mention that Baron Battle had received a quadruple life sentence, with no chance of parole until after the third.
  • Loser Friend Puzzles Outsiders: Students are segregated by class (no, not that kind of class). "Heroes" (the kids with conventionally useful powers) are treated as - and believe themselves to be - superior to "Sidekicks" (everyone else). When the "Hero" protagonist befriends several "Sidekicks", it bemuses the other "Heroes".
  • Love-Interest Traitor: Will goes out with the older Gwen, whose role is showing him the ropes of superhero school in between being sweet on him. Turns out she just wanted the weaponized Fountain of Youth in his basement...
  • Love Triangle: Gwen <-> Will <-> Layla. Becomes a quadrangle with one open end if Warren is included, though it's never made clear how genuine his feelings for Layla were; this would apparently have been explored in one of the never-made sequels.
  • Lured into a Trap: Penny, while chasing Layla, mocks how she's not fighting back. Layla, however, runs for a room with plants outside and moves towards them on the pretense of retreating. When she gets close enough and Penny hits her, it's not even a fight.

  • Made of Iron:
    • The instructors state that Will has no powers...after he has already taken several hospitalizations' worth of punishment during tryouts with no injury.
    • Warren is thrown face first into a concrete overhang, falls, hits a table hard enough to splinter it to pieces, is thrown through a wall into a pillar hard enough to break it in half and then gets up (looking not the worse for wear, except for the debris all over him). He goes back for more. Surely, that boy is made of stronger stuff. Being Made of Iron is possibly a secondary power.
      Warren: (angrily; to Will) You think I can't take a hit?
    • Nurse Spex mentions getting kicked through a wall by Will's dad. Make of this what you will.
  • Mad Scientist: The school has a Mad Science class, taught by one.
    Medulla: Rays! Ftom the silliness of the shrink ray to the devastation of the death ray, these are the very foundations of Mad Science.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Hinted at with Gwen, until we learn she's actually the Mad Scientist herself. She's still a hammy evil clown's beautiful adoptive daughter, if that counts.
  • Magic Pants: Seems to be the case with most of the super-powered individuals. When Ethan melts, so do his clothes. When Magenta shapeshifts, her clothes seem to just meld into her guinea pig form's fur and are back on her when she returns to human form. The weirdest would probably be an unnamed shapeshifting boy who is somehow able to manipulate the clothing he's wearing, as well as his body. This is probably for the best, seeing as they're all supposed to be high school students.
  • Making a Splash: Ethan. Although he doesn't control water, he can "melt" into some kind of liquid (and can't do anything while in it).
  • Manipulative Bastard: Gwen/Royal Pain.
  • Masked Villains, Unmasked Heroes: The main villain Royal Pain wears a face-concealing helmet. The Commander and Jetstream obscure their identities through Clark Kenting, and their superhero costumes don't have masks. Will and his friends don't wear masks either.
  • Meaningful Background Event: While Will and Gwen share their first kiss, Speed sneaks into the Secret Sanctum and steals the Pacifier.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Warren Peace, the son of a hero and a villain. It's like "war and peace", GET IT?
    • Coach Boomer. His superhero name used to be Sonic Boom, to boot.
      • In what is almost certainly a parody of the Steven Ulysses Perhero trope, Steve's yearbook reveals that his real last name is Boomowski.
    • Lash and Speed.
    • Stronghold. His first name fits, too. Will, as in "William" but also as in "willpower."
    • Principal POWERS.
    • Professor Medulla.
    • The Pacifier. "My dear Commander, who said anything about killing you?"
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: Will does this to Royal Pain when they fight.
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment: Happens when Will, Layla, Warren, and the sidekicks fight Royal Pain's invasion during Homecoming.
  • Missing Mom: Gwen's died when she was a baby. It's Metaphorically True.
  • Mood Lighting: During the fight sequences, and when Sky High is falling.
  • Morality Chain: Layla for Will. As Gwen seduces Will into Corrupt the Cutie, he spends less time with Layla. When Gwen hurts Layla's feelings, however? Will dumps her and calls Layla a dozen times begging for her forgiveness.
  • Morality Pet: Layla is the first person in the film that Warren treats with kindness, offering to heat up her cold entrée in the Paper Lantern microwave. He may hate Will, but he has nothing against Will's "sidekick". When she "asks" him to Homecoming, though he only agreed to make Will jealous, he digs his dad's tux out and wears it for her.
  • More Expendable Than You: The teachers are the first to go down in the fight with Royal Pain after she de-ages Steve and Josie. Mr. Boy risks his life to save "Josie" from a deadly fall after she's de-aged, Principal Powers' first concern is for the students, and Boomer focuses on telling everyone to make an exit.
  • Motion Comic: As an Affectionate Parody to the superhero genre, the intro and credits sequence are drawn with a comic book style involving some animation.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Warren Peace is Tall, Dark, and Handsome and extremely ripped for a high schooler. Steven Strait was a male model before he began acting.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Jetstream's costume shows a lot of skin, as does Gwen's Homecoming gown.
  • Muggle Born of Mages: Subverted with Will. He's just a late bloomer who didn't get his powers until a few days after starting at Sky High. Played straight with Ron Wilson until the Where Are They Now epilogue reveals he fell into a vat of radioactive waste and became a Sizeshifter.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • Subverted when Warren offers to heat up Layla's now cold meal. She protests that they're not supposed to use their powers outside the school, but he explains he was just gonna put it in the microwave.
    • Played straight for most of the movie, as most of the kids' power uses fall under this heading. Layla spruces up houseplants (and picks fruit off of trees), Gwen helps Will in mad science class, Zach illuminates a classroom when the power goes out, Speed and Lash bully kids and dominate gym class, etc. In fact, minutes after Warren's above protest, he lights a candle in the restaurant he works at with his powers.
    • Among the staff, Nurse Spex uses X-Ray Vision to check students for broken bones, Principal Powers uses her ability to turn into a comet to teleport anywhere in the school, and Coach Boomer uses his voice to...sound intimidating.
  • My Brain Is Big: Professor Medulla.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Played for Laughs. When Will realizes that his date was the villain all along, he is shocked... cause he was dating someone who was actually older than she looks.
  • Mysterious Watcher: The Strongholds are unwittingly under surveillance by the mysterious cloaked mastermind (and Stitches) for most of the film, with their exact goals only becoming apparent toward the end.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Royal Pain is the supervillain Big Bad and archenemy to Will's dad. They are further revealed to be a supervillainess.
  • Near-Villain Victory: The bad guys might very well have won had Will not stayed home reading his dad's old yearbook instead of going to Homecoming. By chance, he happens upon a picture of Sue Tenny holding the Pacifier. From there, he works out the connection between her and Gwen.
  • Never Be a Hero: The message drilled into Hero Support is "Just stand back and hand me the silver-tipped crossbow, kid, and don't block my camera angles while you do it."
  • Never Trust a Trailer: One of the Disney Channel bumpers for the film rearranges the dialogue for the Layla vs. Penny fight, With Layla responding to Penny's "I thought you were a sidekick!" line with "Big mistake!" In the film itself, she says "Big mistake!" as a Pre-Asskicking One-Liner before unleashing her powers. Her actual response to Penny's line is "I am a sidekick!"
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Will is tossed out a window... and discovers he can fly. This is foreshadowed (albeit subtly) when he's had his First Kiss with Gwen: he shoots out his arm in a triumphant punch like Superman and flies along the street, grabbing a post and swinging on it to slow himself. He probably thought it was just his Super-Strength which elevated him. Maybe he was too ecstatic to really notice (he's a teenager), or perhaps he took note but just managed to master it until he needed to use it. It must be remembered that his mother's power is flight, and so it's not implausible to inherit abilities from both his parents.
    • Lampshaded when Will reveals he can fly, including Royal Pain's reaction as well, shortly before Will kicks ass.
    Will: Surprised? Well so am I!
    Royal Pain: You're flying?! That's impossible!
  • Nice Guy: Will's key feature, often shown by his willingness to try to talk to his foes as opposed to fighting. Also, Ron Wilson, Bus Driver!
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • The Commander's habit of keeping trophies allows Royal Pain to put a spy camera in the secret hideout.
    • Will breaking the one rule to let no one in the hideout at the worst possible time allows Royal Pain to steal back the Pacifier.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Steve, thanks to his Super-Strength. Also Will, once he gains his powers.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Will and Royal Pain deliver one to each other in the climax. It seems Royal Pain wins at first, but then Will's flying powers come in, and he uses them to surprise her.
  • No OSHA Compliance:
    • Inverted: the launch ramp for the Sky High school bus is marked with a number of signs so no ordinary driver goes near it.
    • Also played straight: While Sky High's location changes regularly to foil attacks or villain recruitment, it lacks a force field or anything beyond voluntarily followed rules to prevent anyone getting flung off the edge of the school and falling to their death if they can't fly.
  • Non-Action Guy: Unusually enough for a wielder of Super-Strength, Will. His fights with both Warren and Gwen begin with a sincere attempt to reason with them, only defending himself when he mistakenly presses their Berserk Buttons - and even then, he's shown to be a pretty terrible fighter who relies on awkward improvised moves made up for with sheer brawn to win.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The Pacifier. Despite being built by Royal Pain, the whole Evil Plan rests on getting it back from the Strongholds. It seems Royal Pain just could not build another. Possibly justified by the original being a group design based on the picture of the Science Club. Also, she seems to have forgotten everything about her past life, while retaining her powers. She didn't know how to make it from scratch, and even if she did, she's a supervillain. She'd steal it just for poetic revenge. Also justified by the fact that she's a technopath rather than an actual genius. She can make stuff but might not really understand how it works. Reference the number of times Forge has created stuff and never been able to recreate or undo them again.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Realizing how much the sidekicks are bullied, Will shows empathy for Royal Pain being bullied as a sidekick when apologizing to Gwen for what his dad did to "her mom". This goes out the window when Royal Pain admits that she didn't have a mother; she IS the original Sue Tenny.
  • Not So Above It All: Mr. Boy is established as the Only Sane Man of the teachers, doing what he can to teach his students on the "lesser" Sidekick track. Even so, he chuckles at the memory of real citizens being used in Save the Citizen.
  • No, You Go First: Layla is going to confess to Will that she likes him, by asking him to the school dance. As she was going to talk about the school dance, Will figures it's the perfect time to mention that he's going with the most popular girl in school. So, Layla ends up telling him that she's going as well, with his archenemy.
  • Not Wearing Tights: Notably, only the adult heroes wear Spandex, Latex, or Leather, and then only when in action or on special occasions.
  • Not Worth Killing:
    • Inverted; instead of shooting him with the Pacifier to go with her future villain students, Royal Pain actively tries to kill Will.
    • Played straight when Lash, Speed, and Penny only go after the "sidekicks" after realizing they escaped the gym and start taunting them with their powers.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Will panics when he first crosses paths with Warren before their fight in the cafeteria. Then, Warren has one when Will's Super-Strength manifested itself and he is about to be Punched Across the Room. Will has another one when he realizes that Principal Powers is going to send him and Warren to the detention room.
    • Lash and Speed when Will finally develops super-strength and confronts them about tripping him in the cafeteria.
    • Will again has two in quick succession later on when he looks through his father's yearbook and notices that Sue Tenny looks exactly like Gwen, and that her Science Club picture in the yearbook has her holding the Pacifier. Then, he notices that the actual Pacifier (which his father had kept as a trophy in the Sanctum) is gone.
    • Everyone at the Homecoming event gets a Mass "Oh, Crap!" when Gwen reveals herself as Royal Pain. The Commander recovers quickly, however, in favor of marveling that Royal Pain is a girl and mocking her for thinking a mere gun could kill him.
    • Penny, when Layla is about to use her plant powers to interrogate her. "Big mistake," indeed.
    • Royal Pain, when she realizes that Will can fly and is about to give her a beatdown.
    • Stitches, when Ron Wilson forces him off his bus.
    • The Timmermans, when they realize that Sky High is about to fall on them. Fortunately, they are saved, and their new home doesn't get destroyed.
  • Old Superhero:
    • Chronically unappreciated All-American Boy is the past-his-prime sidekick without the retired superhero. His assigned mentor, the Commander, is still operating at his peak, while All-American Boy is now teaching "hero support" classes in the titular hero school. However, he is far from decrepit and is still able to help the heroes.
    • Boomer is also implied to have washed out of a formal superheroic career and takes his bitterness out on his students.
  • Older Sidekick:
    • Stitches to Gwen, sorta.
    • Also Ron Wilson, Bus Driver to Will.
  • Older Than They Look: Will is seriously grossed out when when he learns that Gwen is Sue Tenny.
    "I made out with an old lady!"
  • On Three: Catching the ongoing party thrown by the students at his house, Commander angrily orders every guest to get out of the house as he counts to three.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Adults and students alike goes Deer in the Headlights in the climax when Royal Pain uses the Pacifier on Commander and Jetstream before fleeing in a blind panic, as the teachers try to protect the kids. Mr Boy is one of the exceptions as his sidekick training kicks in; he tosses his snacks, leaps into the air and catches a de-aged Josie before she can fall and seriously hurt herself.
    • Warren of all people grabs the Smart Ball in the climax when Coach Boomer orders him to find or make an exit from the gym as Royal Pain starts her rampage. Rather than flee in a panic as most of the students are doing, he leads the sidekicks to an air vent and blasts it open.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Layla started a fake relationship with Jerk with a Heart of Gold Warren Peace in order to annoy Will. Warren, who disliked Will for his own reasons, was happy to oblige.
  • Opposites Attract: A somewhat more literal case of this trope. At the end of the movie, a girl with ice powers expresses an interest in Warren, who seems to reciprocate that interest.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Will, and most of the others, too.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • The Commander is wearing glasses and Steve Stronghold is not, as Layla points out, and his disguise is totally different from Superman.
    • Averted with Royal Pain. The Commander is completely surprised when it turns out his archnemesis is a "girl," and the girl he had invited to dinner a few weeks ago. That's because Royal Pain's armor covers her body completely, and she uses a voice modulator.
  • Paper Tiger: The giant robot the Strongholds are shown fighting early goes down with a single hit. Justified because the whole point of the robot was to give the Commander an opportunity to collect a trophy that enables Royal Pain to see inside the Commander's hideout.
  • Parental Bonus:
    • Will walks Gwen home and is confronted by a Death Glare from her father, who demands to know if he's the boy with six arms. Will assures him he has only two, but Mr. Grayson still insists he keep them to himself.
    • At Homecoming, Mr. Boy offers a morose Layla a drink, assuring her that the bubbles in the punch are "only" ginger ale.
  • Peerless Love Interest: How Will sees Gwen, much to Layla's irritation.
  • Pet the Dog: It's part of the Evil Gloating, but Royal Pain wraps a baby Commander in her cape while she's monologuing to him rather than leaving him naked.
  • Phosphor-Essence: Subverted with Zach: he can glow in the dark... and that's about it.
  • Pick on Someone Your Own Size: Inverted with Royal Pain, after she's de-aged and is now eighteen years younger than her archnemesis. It turns out she still has it out for the Commander and plans her revenge by de-aging him and Jetstream so they'll know what it's like.
  • Picture-Perfect Presentation: With Bookends. Will's voiceovers at the beginning and end are, respectively, comic book art turning into live-action and live-action becoming comic art.
  • Playing with Fire: Warren.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: In the climax, everyone's powers become useful and are used, even the lame powers like glowing.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Zach, the most goofy and enthusiastic of Will's sidekick friends.
  • Politeness Judo: Will, after apologizing to Royal Pain for what his dad did to her "mom", asks that the latter put his de-aged father (who is now a helpless infant) down. It actually works in that Gwen gives the baby Commander to Stitches before she finishes her Evil Gloating, reveals that "Royal Pain is ME", and launches into a fight with Will.
  • Powered Armor: What Royal Pain a.k.a. Sue Tenny/Gwen Grayson develops to fight on the same level as the Commander and Jetstream. It also seems to contain a Cranial Processing Unit, as it powers down once Will shatters Royal Pain's helmet. However, Fridge Logic: since Royal Pain WAS a Technopath, she could have been animating the armor with her powers.
  • Power Nullifier: The Detention Room.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Alluded to — when Will walks Gwen home, her dad asks accusingly "You're not that boy with the six arms, are you?"
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Why kill your worst enemy when you can de-age him and turn him into your supervillain protégé?
  • Predecessor Villain: Sue Tenny was the original Royal Pain, inventor of the Pacifier, and architect of the Evil Plan. Gwen is initially mistaken for her daughter, but she is actually Sue herself, grown up all over again after her previous self's supposed death actually turned her into an infant.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Zach dresses, and sometimes acts, like a stereotypical white rapper.
  • Product Placement: After Will gains his powers while fighting with Warren, his father presents him with an Xbox console.
  • Psychotic Smirk: It's easy to miss as the camera isn't focused on him. Right as the Big Bad is revealed, Mr. Grayson sports one, betraying his allegiance to the villain.
  • Puberty Superpower: In some cases. Will gets his powers in his early teen years, while Layla apparently had hers when she was in kindergarten.
  • Punched Across the Room: When Will develops Super-Strength during his fight with Warren in the cafeteria, the first thing he does is punch Warren across the cafeteria and through Medulla's office.
  • Punny Name: Warren Peace. Sounds like the term "war and peace".

  • Racist Grandpa: Will's grandfather, the patriarch of the Stronghold superhero dynasty, apparently hated Sidekicks, according to his son. He's never actually seen in the film, though, and may be deceased.
  • Radiation-Induced Superpowers:
    • Referred to by the school nurse:
    "The kids who get bit by radioactive insects or fall into a vat of toxic waste, their powers usually show up the next day. Or - they die."
    • Also by Layla and Magenta
    "I forget. Did Tigerman get bit by a radioactive tiger, or was he bit by a regular tiger and then exposed to radiation?"
  • Rainbow Motif: Each of the six main teen characters dresses mainly in one of the colors of the rainbow.
  • Raise Him Right This Time: Inverted. Royal Pain was regressed to a baby by her own Pacifier device, then she was raised by her henchman to be evil again. And her evil plan is to do the same to as many superheroes and Sky High students as she can.
  • Red Herring: Warren's dad, but not Gwen's.
    • More blatantly is Mr. Medulla and Coach Boomer, who are usually together and clearly positioned in a way to make the viewer suspect that they are the two shadowy villains seen throughout the movie. They aren't, it's actually Gwen and her "father".
  • Reincarnation: Gwen Grayson functionally serves as this to Sue Tenny in a sci-fi variation of this trope portrayed by means of Raise Him Right This Time (which they decidedly did not in this case).
  • Relationship Upgrade: "In the end, my girlfriend became my arch enemy, my arch enemy became my best friend, and my best friend became my girlfriend. But, hey, it's high school."
  • Revenge Before Reason: As Gwen, Sue had all the popularity and adoration that she'd wanted during her own school days, but she threw it all away in the name of revenge on Will's parents.
  • Rewatch Bonus: If you were to watch the scene where Will walks Gwen home with the knowledge that Gwen is Royal Pain, you may be able to pick up that her father, Mr. Grayson, is actually Stiches under a civilian guise. On a similar note, pay close attention to Gwen while the Strongholds are looking through Steve's yearbook. She tries to flip right past the pages with her pictures on them.
  • Riddle for the Ages: There are a good number of unresolved questions in the film, which may or may not have been answered in the never-made sequels. They include:
    • What is Mr. Boy's power, how did he save Steve's life, and why does Steve seem to barely remember him in the present?
    • Will we ever get to see Baron Battle?
    • For that matter, what's the full story on the other villains Steve took trophies from?
    • Did Gwen have genuine feelings for Will? If she did, is this heartwarming or incredibly squicky?
    • Did Warren have genuine feelings for Layla?
    • Perhaps most tantalizingly, was the Hero-Sidekick dichotomy abolished following the Royal Pain incident, or did it somehow manage to survive?
  • Rude Hero, Nice Sidekick: All the "hero" kids were obnoxious stuck up Jerk Jocks. All the kids relegated to "sidekick" were fairly decent (until Will did kind of a Face–Heel Turn upon becoming a hero).
  • Rule of Funny: In the DVD Bonus Features, there's one question which Kevin McDonald (in his Medulla costume — large head and all) answers "Yes, I agree", and then he consents for the editors to use him saying that for anything they like. Throughout the documentary, they randomly cut to him saying "Yes, I agree" for virtually anything. It's hilarious.
  • Running Gag: Stitches constantly getting choked by Royal Pain and desperately yelling "Uncle! Uncle! Uncle!"
  • Samus Is a Girl: The Commander is very surprised to learn that his former archnemesis is the girl who he invited to dinner a few weeks ago.
    "Yes I'm a girl, you idiot! How I ever lost to a fool like you, I'll never know."
    • Though, to be fair, Royal Pain's armor IS kind-of masculine, and it has that voice modifier...
  • Sassy Black Woman: Penny.
  • Sealed with a Kiss: Will and Layla at the end of the film.
  • Searching the Stalls: During the final fight, Lash searches the bathroom stalls for Ethan after the latter melts and retreats into the boys' bathroom before the former can punch him. When Lash finally finds the stall Ethan was hiding in, it seems as though he flushed himself, but Ethan surprises Lash from behind and kicks his head into the toilet, giving him the ultimate swirlie.
    Ethan: Sucks for you!
  • Secret Identity: The Strongholds, and likely most superheroes.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: Sue Tenny, when the Pacifier blows up in her face. With a bit of Fridge Brilliance, Gwen also qualifies; she already had everything she wanted to begin with, and her willingness to throw all that away for Revenge is what causes her to lose in the end.
  • Self-Duplication: Penny, the one-woman cheerleading team.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • When Steve is on the phone with his customer Mr. Timmerman at the beginning of the film, the latter's first name is stated to be "Burt." However, when he physically shows up at the end, it's suddenly "Chester."
    • Warren's school year is never stated in the film itself, and the supplementary materials disagree with each other on whether he's a freshman or a sophomore. Fans tend to assume sophomore, likely because he's not in the Power Placement scene with the other incoming freshmen.
  • Shaped Like Itself: The film's moral notwithstanding, Will and Warren are the Heroes and their friends are the sidekicks.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Layla has this reaction when she sees Warren in a tux.
  • She-Fu: Penny does this while fighting Layla. Taunting her this way turns out to be a horrible idea; she could have just not backed Layla into a room with plants outside and won.
  • Ship Tease: Zach and Magenta. They're frequently together, take each other to Homecoming on the basis of their mutual dislike of Homecoming, Zach asks if she needs protection from Warren, and later he even compliments her (guinea pig) legs.
  • Shipper on Deck: Steve and Josie are shipping their son with Gwen from the instant they meet her. Boy, do they end up regretting that.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Gwen Grayson's name may be a reference to prominent comic book characters Gwen Stacy and Dick Grayson. It is also a reference to the tendency for comic book characters to have alliterative names.
    • Will has a poster in his room of fellow superhero team The Aquabats!.
    • While teaching "English for Hero Support", Mr. Boy wrote on the blackboard Holy (blank), (blank)man.
    • The name of the Secret Sanctum is almost certainly a reference to the Sanctum Sanctorum.
    • During Save the Citizen midway through the movie, Speed runs around Warren fast enough to lower the air pressure around him, just like The Flash did during a Silver Age battle with an alien.
    • See Nurse Spex's line at the top of the page.
    • Possibly unintentional, but Will and Warren are able to win "Save the Citizen" by using a Fastball Special
    • Mr. Boy's given name is Johnathan.
    • Some fans believe Layla Williams may be named for Laurey Williams, the lead female character in Oklahoma!, both due to the similarity in their names and the fact that it's mentioned that the future Commander and the future Baron Battle competed over the lead male role of Curly, Laurey's love interest, when they were in school - reflecting Layla's own romantic prospects in the two men's sons.
    • Steve mentioned a Hawaiian villain called King Kamehamayhem, a reference to the historical Hawaiian ruler King Kamehameha.
  • Sidekick Glass Ceiling: Largely how the Hero-Sidekick dichotomy here works.
  • Sinister Suffocation: During the game of "Save the Citizen", Speed creates a vortex around Warren to drain the oxygen around him. Will is noticeably horrified by this strategy, as he immediately relinquishes the opportunity to win the game and hurries to save his partner instead.
  • Sitting on the Roof: Will and Layla do this after the first day of school.
  • Smack on the Back: Will has just gotten his powers and his super-strong dad hugs him, which is somewhat painful.
    Will: OOOWW!
    Dad: Sorry!
    Will: *grins and hugs him back*
    Dad: OW! You are strong!
  • Smug Snake: Penny is a rare female example, as well as Lash, Speed, and (to a lesser extent) Coach Boomer.
  • Soaperizing: The characters' relationships are surprisingly well-developed.
  • The Sociopath: The Big Bad, Royal Pain aka Gwen Grayson is a very pretty and seductive woman, but she is also a calculating liar and a violent narcissist (the Commander even described her as a complete and total psychopath).
  • So Long, Suckers!: Penny blows a mocking kiss at the people she locks in the gym.
  • So Proud of You:
    • When Will's superpower manifests itself, the Commander is proud that his son inherited his powers.
    • When the Commander and Jetstream recognize the kids as heroes - and the Commander (for the first time ever) treats Mr. Boy with respect for what he has been doing all these years.
      The Commander: And, Jonathan; whatever you're teaching them, keep teaching them... it.
      (the Commander shakes his hand as an equal, and Jetstream kisses him on the cheek)
  • Spandex, Latex, or Leather: Latex, Camp/kid-friendly. Mr. Boy's costume from when he was All American Boy was spandex. As mentioned elsewhere, the kids all wear Civvie Spandex.
  • Starter Villain: Early in the film, the Commander and Jetstream battle a giant robot, with the Commander defeating it with ease. This seems to be invoked by the Big Bad, as the robot's eye has a camera inside that the Commander takes as a souvenir, allowing them to see inside the Commander's lair.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: In one scene, Will and his friends discuss their Hero Support homework. One question concerns a radioactive zombie attacking their hero, with one option being to hand the hero a crossbow. Zach points out that in such a situation, the sidekick could simply use the crossbow themselves.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: The same as Punny Name above, but used so much that it deserves both entries. A particularly ridiculous one is Baron Battle's real name: Barron Battle.
  • Student Council President: Gwen is this to Sky High. She's not quite all powerful, but she's allowed to plan events and clearly well-liked by both the students and the teachers. However, it is revealed that Gwen is Royal Pain.
  • Suicidal "Gotcha!": After Royal Pain throws Will out a window during their fight, he (much to both his and her surprise) flies right back up.
  • Super Family Team: Steve wants to found one, "The Stronghold Three," with his wife and Will once the latter graduates. Will is less than interested.
  • Superhero School: Sky High itself, of course.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Superpowered parents tend to have superpowered kids. There's only one instance on record of two superpowered parents having a child with no powers: poor, poor Ron Wilson, Bus Driver.
  • Super-Speed: Speed (obviously).
    • Also seems to be a latent ability within every superhero and sidekick. Mr. Boy and the rest of the Hero Support class are able to change into their outfits in seconds, and during the climax, Stitches is able to change into his supervillain outfit while literally standing next to Steve and Josie.
    • During a deleted scene, Josie performs an Instant Costume Change behind a tree.
  • Super Spit: One incoming freshman's saliva is acidic.
  • Super Zeroes: Poor, poor Mr. Boy. It's never really explained if he even has powers at all; he's shown to be able to jump much farther than a normal human would be expected to, but this may simply be an instance of the overall exaggerated tone of the film.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: The song "Voices Carry" accompanies the scene where Gwen manipulates Layla into abandoning Will, Will discovers Gwen is not as nice as he thought and she was just using him, and he breaks up with her.
  • Swirlie: A common thing bullies do. Lash and Speed regularly do this to Ethan. Ethan later does this to Lash out of revenge during the final fight.
  • Sycophantic Servant: Stitches is a thoroughly deranged, little man who was apparently so loyal to the original Royal Pain, that he not only raised her de-aged self for seventeen years for revenge but also willingly resumed his henchman position (complete with physical abuse) once she became a teenager.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Despite all that she did to him and Layla, Will is very sympathetic when he realizes his ex-girlfriend had something to do with Sue Tenny, assuming Sue was her mother. He listens to Gwen's speech about how Sue Tenny was shunted to the sidekick track and apologizes for his dad killing Sue in their final battle. The sympathy goes away when Gwen reveals she is a de-aged Sue Tenny, not the latter's daughter, and he appropriately squicks out on realizing "I made out with an old lady."
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Will always tries this with an opponent first, only resorting to violence in self-defense.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Warren Peace.
  • Taught by Experience: In the climax, Warren doesn't let Speed get close enough to suffocate him again. He's ready to fire as Speed tries to taunt him while keeping his distance. The minute Warren gets an opening thanks to Ethan, he takes down Speed with one timely blast.
  • Technopath: Gwen Grayson is the Trope Namer, though the power existed previously.
  • Tempting Fate: The Commander mocks Royal Pain for thinking the Pacifier could "kill him" and doesn't bother to dodge when "the toy gun" fires at him. It successfully turns him into a baby instead.
  • This Cannot Be!: Royal Pain yells "You're flying?! That's impossible!" when she realizes that Will has finally gained flying superpowers from his mother.
  • This Is Not a Drill: Averted. In the climax, you would expect this trope would come into play and that all the heroes and students gathered in a gym would be ready for a real emergency. Nope. It turns out that if someone fires a gun into a crowd, even one that doesn't kill people, the actual adults left will focus on getting the students to safety and leave themselves open to fire while the students themselves regress to blind panic, meaning no one is prepared to handle a trigger-happy supervillain.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: There are quite a few impressive coincidences that can only be solved by one of the random powers that the Sidekicks have.
  • Time for Plan B: Will eventually reveals to his parents that his powers never awakened. As a result, he was shunted to "Hero Support". The Commander says it's possible that he is a late bloomer, but is forced to acknowledge that Will may remain powerless. He and Josie discuss what to do, and Josie vetoes tossing their son in toxic waste. They decide that they'll do all they can to support Will, and Commander realizes that real estate is still an option.
  • Too Fast to Stop: Does Speed in twice.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Ron Wilson, Bus Driver and Ethan.
  • Toxic Waste Can Do Anything: It's established that being dipped into a pool of toxic waste will either grant the person superpowers (if they're lucky) or kill them (if unlucky). In the epilogue, Will reveals that Ron Wilson, Bus Driver was dipped into toxic waste and is now a giant.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer makes it seem like the main conflict of the movie is Will's lack of super powers. Then, approximately ten seconds later, it shows him with super strength and flight — at which point the viewer realizes there's probably more to this movie that they're not saying, and there goes the element of surprise.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Super-strength and super-flight for Will. The former happens when Warren Peace threatens his friend, and the latter when Royal Pain tosses him out of the school. It's implied that this is how everyone gets their powers.
    • Somewhat downplayed and more stretched out for Zach.
      Will: How was your summer?
      Zach: To be honest, it was tough, man. T-U-P-H. I was seriously sweatin' it. My dad going, "Zach, I powered up before I started shaving." And here's me, dude, halfway through August... And zip.
      Will: Oh, so you... You don't have your powers.
      Zach: You think I'd even show up today if that happened? No. No, no. Woke up a few days ago and... Bam!
  • Twin Threesome Fantasy: Accidental in-universe case of this; Coach Boomer convinces Medulla to go on a double date with him, a superheroine, and her Evil Twin. The date ends with Medulla dating both the heroine and her evil twin, with Boomer being something of a third wheel.

  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Gwen Grayson, Sky High's resident knockout, turns out to be the daughter of a weedy little Nerd Glasses-sporting guy who's noticeably shorter than she is. But not by blood.
  • Underestimating Badassery:
    • Layla gets shunted into the sidekick track for refusing to participate in the Fantastic Caste System on principle. While the other Hero Support students really do have highly situational powers, the villains learn to their cost that she's actually seriously powerful.
    • Stitches rolls his eyes when Ron Wilson, Bus Driver confronts him for using the school buses without permission. He goes down in one punch; just because Ron doesn't have powers doesn't mean he lacks fighting skills.
  • Unequal Pairing: Will and Gwen; her behavior at times comes off as almost predatory, which was probably the point.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Being a Muggle Born of Mages, Will is always amusingly nonplussed by the weirdness that comes with living among superhumans his whole life.
  • Uninvited to the Party: After Will becomes popular in the Hero Course and starts to abandon his friends from Hero Support, he throws a party at his house and forgets to invite his friends- specifically, his Childhood Friend and next-door neighbor Layla. She sees the party going on next door and walks inside to try and find Will, but she gets told by the Alpha Bitch that Will doesn't want her there. Humiliated and heartbroken, Layla goes home. This is the incident that starts to snap Will out of his Acquired Situational Narcissism.
  • Unrequited Love Lasts Forever: Mr. Boy towards Jetstream. This is lampshaded by his Anguished Declaration of Love before being Pacified.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: The only reason Will is able to make it through any of his fights is his ability to tank damage like no other. His fight with Royal Pain is full of haymakers, shoulder tackles, and simply flinging his opponent around like a rag doll.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Boomer's scream upon learning the Commander's son has no powers shakes the school to its foundation, and Principal Powers' only reaction is to catch her potted plant before it falls over without even looking up from her notes.
  • Unwilling Suspension: This is done to the inflatable "Citizen" in the Save the Citizen game in Sky High, to simulate villains doing this to their captives. Will mentions at the end how after they replaced the citizens with the actual villains no one saved the Citizen anymore, but we're to assume that's a joke because he said as much.
    "Remember when we used to use real citizens?"
  • Villain Ball: Yes Gwen, don't use your weapon capable of neutralizing any opponent with a single blast in the final battle. Why turn someone into a helpless baby when you can kill them instead?
    • Then again, why destroy what could be your chance to have an incredibly loyal force of supersoldiers at your command?
    • However, if you think too hard about the plot, Gwen's whole desire for revenge starts to make less and less sense, given that she's got everything she wanted then. She had her hands on the ball the entire movie.
  • Villainous Harlequin: Stitches.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: The whole point.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: If Mr. Boy is any example, this is what the 'Hero Support' track is designed to turn students into.
  • Wham Line: All delivered by the same person:
    • A single word - "ME!" When the time comes to unmask the Big Bad, you will boggle at who says this.
    • "My dear Commander, who said anything about killing you?"
    • "Royal Pain wasn’t my mother. Royal Pain is ME!"
  • Wham Shot: Right before the climax, Will's at rock bottom - he's lost Layla, lost Gwen, and lost all his other friends for the sake of a popularity that he's now likely lost too. As he sits morosely in the Secret Sanctum, paging through his dad's old yearbook, he notices two things in quick succession - first, a student who's a dead ringer for Gwen is pictured as the builder of the Pacifier weapon, and second, that the actual Pacifier is gone. Cue "Oh, Crap!".
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?:
    • Glowing, melting, and shapeshifting into a guinea pig are all seen as lame powers by Boomer. However, the kids prove just how awesome they can be in the climax and several could be easily be used for espionage and/or utility purposes.
    • Deconstructed with the Big Bad's background and motivations. Sue Tenny's powers as a technopath were considered the stuff of Sidekicks when she went to Sky High, and her resulting status as a nerdy outcast drove her down the path of evil. Speaking outside of the film for a moment, other fictional heroes such as Iron Man show that control of machines and having access to very powerful tech is a very useful thing. However, she WAS originally enrolled in SH in the 70's, and technology was nowhere near as advanced, effective or useful as it is now.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Principal Powers points out to Will and Warren that living up or down to their fathers' reputations by using their powers is a waste of potential.
    Principal Powers: Now, here at Sky High we do everything we can to teach you how to use your powers. But what you do with them, now that's up to you. Living up to your father's reputation or trying to live it down is a sad waste of talent. Your talent. Try to keep that in mind the next time you're about to do something stupid.
  • When He Smiles: behold Kubrick!Warren - and, for contrast, behold grinning!Warren.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Shown in comic book form during the credits, the most awesome of which is Ron Wilson, Bus Driver, who falls into a vat of radioactive waste, grows to a colossal size and gets a new job — fighting giant monsters that attack the city!
  • White Void Room: The detention room, which is white, can neutralize all superpowers.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: Gwen's motivation to become a villain as apparently her first go around in the school had her put in "Hero Support" since her powers weren't considered superhero worthy. Needless to say, she winds up proving them wrong.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Steve really takes it hard when he learns Will has no powers and is Hero Support. Josie admits being disappointed as well, but she is far more accepting and convinces Steve to be. Steve cheers up when realizing Will can go into real estate like they did.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Lampshaded during a study session with the hero supports; they're discussing radioactive zombies and what to do. One of the options is handing the hero his crossbow. Zach wonders why you don't just shoot the zombie yourself.
  • Wild Teen Party: Gwen throws one in Will's house under the pretense of it being the "Homecoming" committee. He's pretty angry with her about it. Then it's later revealed to be a part of Gwen's Evil Plan to infiltrate the Strongholds' secret sanctum and steal the Pacifier.
  • Wire Dilemma: Tongue-in-cheek version; all the wires are red.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Warren, in the climax, makes an exit with his firepowers to escape the gym. Rather than go first or leave anyone behind, he gestures at the Sidekicks to go and takes up the rear.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Both Royal Pains, Sue and Gwen, but in particular the former - she had a genuinely amazing power, but nobody realized it in the 1970s, and she was placed on the Sidekick track and thoroughly bullied; it's all but outright stated that one of those bullies was the future Commander, later to be recognized as the greatest superhero in the world. It's not hard to see why she snapped. Gwen is less sympathetic, but it's doubtful she had the healthiest upbringing either, having been raised by her "mother's" Sycophantic Servant for the sole purpose of a seventeen-year revenge scheme that turns out to be All for Nothing.
  • World of Ham: The character played by Bruce Campbell is actually one of the most normal characters in the film.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child. Royal Pain is surprisingly gentle with the adults as infants, even while monologuing how she's going to raise them as a new generation of supervillains. She and Stitches even review the instructions of strapping them into baby seats safely. Heck, when Will begs her to put his infant father down, she actually complies before focusing her monologuing on him.
  • Wrecked Weapon: The Pacifier was broken during the Commander's fight with Royal Pain thanks to the Commander's grip crushing it and causing it to explode. However, Gwen repaired it for the climax.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Principal Powers tells Will and Warren this when putting them in detention. She says neither of them have to be what people say they are, whether it's living up to a hero's legacy or living down a villain's one, and they can make a different choice than what their parents expect. While Warren doesn't listen at the time, much later he clearly makes a choice to be on the hero's side when fighting Lash and Speed.
  • You Are What You Hate: Given a second chance at high school, Sue/Gwen became pretty, popular and powerful and dumped all over the sidekicks... exactly what she wanted revenge for from her first time around.
  • You Killed My Father: Will believes that Gwen's mother was the original Royal Pain, who was seemingly killed in their last battle against the Commander, and that this is Gwen's motivation for revenge. He couldn't be more wrong; when he apologizes to Gwen on his father's behalf, she reveals she is Royal Pain and was de-aged by the Pacifier.


Video Example(s):


Guinea Pig Gal

Magenta's only power is the ability to turn into a guinea pig. A guinea pig still capable of human speech, but otherwise a normal guinea pig. During the climax, her power comes in handy when a small vent is the only way to reach the sabotaged anti-gravity generator.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / ThisLooksLikeAJobForAquaman

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