Morgan Hiller (James Spader) is a Troubled Teen who used to go to prep school in Connecticut, but is transplanted to California after his father's business goes under. He quickly runs afoul of Nick Hauser (Paul Mones) and his gang of juvenile delinquents when he pursues Nick's girlfriend Frankie Croyden (Kim Richards). His new friend Jimmy Parker (Robert Downey Jr.) backs him up.
Tuff Turf contains examples of:
- Bare Your Midriff: Gang member Mickey (Panchito Gomez) wears half shirts.
- Big Guy Rodeo: Frankie does this to Nick twice: once after he shoves her father into a display, and once during Nick and Morgan's final showdown.
- Bridal Carry: Frankie leaps into Morgan's arms after a dance.
- Bringing Running Shoes to a Car Chase: Nick's car driven by Jimmy drives after Morgan, who runs down an alley, knocking trash cans in front of it.
- Dead Animal Warning: Morgan finds a dead rat hanging by its tail in his locker.
- Finger Gun: While the teacher plays a documentary about gunfighters, bored students start shooting each other with finger guns.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Morgan's older brother Brian (Bill Beyers) is a responsible student on track to become a lawyer.
- Groin Attack: When the gang beats up Morgan and steals the car he's driving, one of them gives him a final kick in the crotch before he leaves.
- If I Can't Have You...: Nick declares that he'd rather kill Frankie than have her end up with Morgan.
- Poster-Gallery Bedroom: Frankie's room is covered in rock posters.
- Potty Emergency: After the gang's been driving around for hours, one of the members complains that he has to pee. Nick tells him to go out the window, which he does.
- Riches to Rags: Morgan's dad Stuart (Matt Clark) used to be a real estate tycoon. Now he's a taxi driver.
- Shirtless Scene: Morgan is shirtless when the gang beats him up in the locker room.
- Sitting Sexy on a Piano: In the country club, Morgan asks Frankie if she can sing. She says no, so he tells her to sit on the piano and look pretty while he sings a romantic ballad.
- Stealing From Thieves: Morgan steals a Porsche, which is promptly stolen by the gang.Jimmy: God, I can't believe they took your car.
Morgan: I don't own a car, man.
- Victoria's Secret Compartment: Jimmy borrows a knife from a girl who smuggled it to school in her bra.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Nick almost always wears an unbuttoned shirt.