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Fired Teacher

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In fiction, a teacher who stands out in any way, does something even slightly unconventional, disagrees with the school's management, teaching philosophy or rules often gets fired for it. The teacher tries to get his/her job back, and the students and/or some parents rally behind them...and yet, the teacher still remains fired.

Sadly, rarely happens to a Sadist Teacher, who is protected through their web of connections and cronies and is conversely rather likely to happen to a Cool Teacher, who just loves teaching and learning and who doesn't play office politics.

In Real Life, teachers who rebel against the system may be fired in this way in some private schools, but in public schools, teachers who are permanent have tenure and the teachers' union will typically have protection against arbitrary firing. Nonetheless, unionized teachers may be placed on administrative leave while serious misconduct allegations are investigated. That said, new teachers on probation can be fired if they "rock the boat".


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  • In Dead Poets Society, after Mr. Keating is blamed for Neil's suicide.
  • Howard in In & Out, after the parents hear that he's gay. Cue a heartwarming I Am Spartacus mass-decloseting from the students.
  • Ms. Pomeroy (Drew Barrymore) in Donnie Darko gets fired for discussing offensive literature in class. Her reaction is priceless.
  • Ghostbusters (1984): All three initial ghostbusters are fired from their university because the dean thinks that their theories are complete bunk. This is what forces them to go into private business for themselves.
  • In Bad Teacher, the titular character's rival is transferred to another school—the worst in the district—when all her efforts to prove that that the titular character is among other things, a dishonest drug abuser end up making her look like a crackhead.
  • Fräulein von Bernburg in Mädchen in Uniform gets fired in the end because of the Teacher/Student Romance between her and the female protagonist.
  • Another Round: All four teachers who experiment with drinking during school hours run the risk of being discovered by the administration. Only after they end their experiment do they realize that Tommy has become an alcoholic. When he arrives to a faculty meeting falling-down drunk, there's no hope left for him. He's summarily fired.
  • The Strongest Man in the World, the conclusion of Disney's Dexter Riley Trilogy, Professor Quigley gets fired for spending department funds to rent a cow on which to test the students' dietary supplements. This is played for laughs, because the students say the dean has fired this professor at least 4 times before.

  • The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger - Ms. Finney gets fired for refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance, though her Hippie Teacher ways probably also led to her downfall. After a fair amount of effort by her students, she gets reinstated, but ultimately does not return, as she would be under a fair amount of scrutiny and would not be able to teach as she wished.
  • Harry Potter series:
    • Remus Lupin in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Technically he wasn't fired, he was compelled to resign after word got out that he was a werewolf; still, characters in-story refer to him as "sacked".
    • Dumbledore was forced into resignation twice over the course of the books (well, three times if you count his being killed).
    • Snape pretty much resigned as well in the final book.
    • Hagrid might also qualify as the "perpetually-almost-about-to-get-fired" teacher. Though sometimes he's just overreacting.
    • Order of the Phoenix: Sybill Trelawney qualifies as she was fired by Dolores Umbridge in front of the whole school. This is later subverted in the same book as she gets her job back when Dolores gets fired herself.
  • Averted in James Hilton's Goodbye, Mr. Chips, in that Mr. Chipping, though ordered by the headmaster to retire for refusing to adopt modern methods (such as adopting the New Pronuncation of Latin and placing emphasis on high marks rather than on character development), is spared by the board of governors following the protests of his students and their parents. The school is proud of its traditions, and regards Chips as a better example of them than the new modern-minded headmaster, who is respected but not much liked. It's mentioned that the chairman of the governors was himself one of Chips's students as a boy, and he's probably not the only one.
  • In the kids' novel The Landry News by Andrew Clements Mr. Larson is nearly fired after printing a controversial story in the school newspaper.
  • Chaim Potok's The Chosen and The Promise go into this. Reuven's father helped found a Modern Orthodox high school yeshiva, but is, if not fired, edged out by the more conservative faculty that move in after the war. Reuven and Danny got to a yeshiva college where they both have professors who can't cover topics they'd really like to for fear of complaints.
  • Thomas Chipperling, of Tomcat In Love, after his having relations with students and doing their assignments for them come to light.
  • In Rally Round the Flag, Boys!, Maggie Larkin is fired from the Nathan Hale Elementary School after she gave her second grade class a sex education lesson and the principal saw the pictures she drew on the blackboard. ("How else do you explain anything to seven year old children?", she says to her indignant fiancé Guido.) Grace Bannerman, who to Maggie's surprise actually knows more about child psychology than her, leads an effort to have Maggie reinstated, which ultimately happens after she has a candid talk with the principal, Mr. Vandenberg.
  • There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom: Variant in that it's not a teacher but the school's new guidance counselor who gets fired after the parents get up in arms about having one at all, and especially over the advice she's been giving the kids - among other things, one of them claims she's "teaching religion" just by mentioning zen monks to a couple of students.

     Live Action TV  
  • Growing Pains: Coach Graham T. Lubbock, months after finally winning a full-term teaching job at Dewey High School, is pink slipped. Mike — who earlier had complained about Lubbock for keeping him in line (despite his comically inept teaching skills and authority keeping) — learns that Lubbock is struggling to support a pregnant wife and seven children, and are living in an upstairs, small apartment on the poor side of town. Mike realizes that teachers are not suck-the-fun-out-of-everything assholes but people who care about their students, work hard and are underpaid even if supporting a large family. Mike rallies the entire school behind Coach Lubbock. Doesn't work — Mike (and Carol, too) are suspended and Lubbock is blacklisted. Until, that is, we conveniently remember that this is a pilot episode for a soon-to-premiere spin-off TV series on ABC (called Just the Ten of Us), and Lubbock gets a tenured teaching job at a private school ... in California.
  • The shop teacher on Popular gets fired after coming out as transgender.
  • In The 4400, one of the 4400 is a teacher, and is forced to leave her job when parents find out she has an 'ability' - she can draw out the hidden potential in people. Some parents don't like their children to become musical or artistic prodigies, it seems. (Eventually she gets a job teaching other 4400s in the 4400 Center.)
    • Another issue was that there were some students who simply didn't have hidden potential to be drawn out. Needless to say, those kids' parents were furious.
    • If memory serves, the problem was that she could only draw out the musical and artistic talents. The kid might have had the potential to be the best pilot the world has ever seen, but she couldn't help him. So yes, the parents were furious.
    • The generic fear was that she was using her ability to mess with her students' heads causing them to act out of character.
  • This happened to a Hippie Teacher of Kevin's on The Wonder Years.
  • Mike Delaney on All My Children was fired for coming out to his class. In this instance he was reinstated after suing the school board.
  • On Glee when Sue becomes the new principal, she fires Mr Shuester. His students come to his defense and then the replacement teacher pisses Sue off even more than Will does. At the end of the episode she rehires him.
  • Little House on the Prairie: The Season 2 episode "Troublemaker," where a mean disciplinarian teacher named Hannibal Applewood is revealed to have lost several teaching jobs, and forced to resign others, due to his ill-temprament. He is shown the door at Walnut Grove School. Ironically, he had replaced Miss Beadle, who was fired for her inability to control the classroom bullies.
  • One Tree Hill: Haley is fire by Principal Rimkus after she chooses an honest if not necessarily school appropriate essay contest submission written by a troubled foster child student. Moral Guardians want her to change her choice to something fluffy and innocent, Haley refuses, and she is promptly fired. Her students leave school during her class period and travel to her house to be taught by her, because the principal (who is subbing for her until a replacement is found) is a terrible teacher who failed them all because they couldn't learn from her, but it didn't save her job. (A conversation between Haley and Rimkus at the end of the episode suggests that Haley could have potentially gotten her job back, but she would've had to apologize for choosing the honest, best essay, which she refused to do for the sake of her status as a role model.)
  • In the Heat of the Night: In the Season 4 episode "Perversions of Justice," a teacher is suspended after being accused (falsely, as it was later revealed) of sexually molesting a student. Even after past events in his life that make it seem that this accusation is part of a growing pattern — an indecent exposure charge in college and leaving his previous job under unexplained circumstances — are explained (the former instance, he and some college friends were mooning a female student, part of a night of stupid, drunken behavior; in the latter instance, he took a leave of absence, later resigning, after suffering a nervous breakdown in the classroom, triggered by the tragic deaths of his parents in a car accident) and the police exonerate him of this latest accusation, the principal of his school refuses to stick up for him and in fact is willing to throw him to the wolves of a school board under pressure by the community to terminate him. Averted in the end: the teacher, his reputation ruined, kills himself.
  • Happens to chemistry teacher Walter White on Breaking Bad about halfway through the show's run. After his wife cheats on him with her boss, Walter attempts to do the same with the school principal and is immediately fired. By this point he is making loads of money cooking meth and is happy to leave his teaching job.
  • The Full Monty (2023): Jean is forced to fire Hetty, the music teacher, because the sucky school is in dire need of repairs but the only money available in the budget is teacher salaries. To add insult to injury, the two are friends.

     Newspaper Comics  
  • In a Peanuts story arc from the 1960s, Linus' favorite teacher, Miss Othmar, on whom he has long had a Precocious Crush, is fired after her participation in a teacher's strike, and Linus is devastated. Although never mentioned in the strip, she is apparently reinstated at some point, as she is shown teaching again in future strips and TV specials.

  • The Male Animal takes place in the wake of several professors being dismissed from Midwestern University because of alleged "Red" leanings. The trustees warn Tommy Turner in no uncertain terms that they will force him to resign if he reads in class the last statement written by Bartolomeo Vanzetti, the anarchist who was executed for murder. Tommy decides to stand up for his rights instead, and reads Vanzetti's statement to the trustees. They relent.
  • In On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Mark Bruckner is fired from the faculty of Stuyvesant University when word of his research on reincarnation gets out and stokes public controversy.
  • In The History Boys, Hector is not technically fired but pressured to resign after he is seen fondling a student on his motorbike., but it's also, to some degree, a way to get rid of him and his teaching style. Hector is ultimately able to get his job back, after pressure from Dakin, but Hector is killed in an accident on his way home from school anyway.

     Video Game  
  • Quistis Trepe from Final Fantasy VIII is fired from being a SeeD instructor because of her "lack of leadership skill," after one of her students disobeys orders during the SeeD field exam and nearly gets his squad and a member of another squad killed as a result. Her one-sided crush on and favoritism toward one of her students may also have had something to do with it.
  • Geo's homeroom teacher in Megaman Star Force is threatened with being fired when he protests using an experimental teaching tool on children. The principal gets his ass fired when the technology proves unsafe the very next day. He still manages to wind up as a country singer at the Grizzly Peaks resort.
  • This happens twice in Bully, both times to Sadist Teachers. Mr Hattrick is fired after a side mission where he's exposed as taking bribes from the parents of the Preppy clique to give the students better grades. Mr Burton, however, is fired at the end of the game after Jimmy exposes him as a pervert who has a thing for the students.

     Web Original  
  • Jamie in Family gets fired after the Christian school she teaches at finds out she's polyamorous.

     Western Animation  
  • The Simpsons:
    • Seymour Skinner, although a principal rather than a teacher, is fired for being unable to control his students (and for when Groundskeeper Willie falls on Superintendant Chalmers). Bart helps him get reinstated nonetheless, since even he thinks that the school is too loose under Ned Flanders (that, as well as some guilt for getting Skinner fired in the first place, especially unintentionally).
    • Both Skinner and Mrs. Krabappel are fired when it comes out that they're having an affair. Bart once more comes to the rescue.
    • Krabappel gets suspended after hitting Bart. While not fired as such, it is implied that the suspension is indefinite.
      • She was also fired in another episode, more specifically after Bart and the rest of the students spiked her drink with alcohol for innocent reasons (they wanted her to loosen up. It worked too well). In the same episode, the replacement teacher also got fired from being drunk on duty, only that time it was the teacher alone who was responsible for it.
    • While not a teacher per-se and technically fired, Otto also ended up suspended with pay for spanking Bart after the latter managed to hijack the bus while he was meeting up with Metallica.
      • In a much earlier episode, Otto was suspended without pay for reckless driving (making up the time lost when playing Bart's guitar) and not holding a driver's license.
  • Mr. Garrison in South Park becomes this after coming out of the closet in the "Fourth Grade" episode. After being re-hired later on, he tries to get fired again in order to get rich off of a discrimination lawsuit. He was fired for the last time by PC Principal in season 19 when he made racist comments towards Canadians during a school assembly. This turned out to be a horrible idea, and only resulted in Garrison becoming much, much worse.
  • Huey's teacher in The Boondocks ended up getting fired in the Christmas episode, because he used Huey's script for the school play (a script that was constantly rewritten by the Principal).
  • Mr. Crocker in The Fairly Oddparents became this when a seemingly nice substitute teacher showed up and Timmy wished she was the permanent teacher. The Better the Devil You Know trope came into play. It was so evident the episode's Brazilian title was a variation of the trope with a word for "crazy" instead of a word for "devil".
  • An episode of the Disney series of Doug dealt with Doug's English teacher, Ms. Krystal, being fired, allegedly because her students aren't learning anything (although the actual reason is that Principal White learns that Ms. Krystal didn't vote for him when he was the mayor). Principal White takes over the class. At first, Skeeter is the only one who cares, and even circulates a petition to get Ms. Krystal reinstated, which his classmates are unwilling to sign because they're enjoying Principal White's considerably more lax approach to teaching. But when the principal decides to appoint his son Willie as the new English teacher and Willie turns into a mini-dictator, the kids have had enough and decide they want Ms. Krystal back. Doug comes up with a way to get her reinstated: at a hearing to decide whether Ms. Krystal will be rehired, he purposely recites incorrect information about one of the books she assigned, and Willie corrects him, thus proving that Ms. Krystal really is a good teacher.

     Real Life  
  • Eileen Flynn, a schoolteacher at a Catholic school in New Ross, Ireland, was fired in 1982 for becoming pregnant outside of marriage. None of her appeals were successful and it's entirely possible that a similar case could reoccur.
  • Steve Fannin, a public school teacher in Florida who received a national teaching award, was fired for erasing the "learning goal" from the board to write more notes during an evaluation.
  • This trope is relatively rare in Real Life due to the existence of tenure. Absent gross incompetence or misconduct, tenured teachers are very difficult to fire, especially college professors.note  On the other hand, non-tenured teachers are fair game, and school administration can quickly identify and get rid of a teacher who is clearly ill-suited to their job.


Video Example(s):


Mrs. Puff, You're Fired

Mrs. Puff gets fired for SpongeBob failing one too many boating tests.

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5 (7 votes)

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Main / FiredTeacher

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