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Gotta Pass the Class

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Bart: As God is my witness, I can pass the fourth grade!
Homer: And if you don't, at least you'll be bigger than the other kids.

A common plot taking place in a school setting will have a student being told that they are failing one or most of their classes, and if they don't get their grades up, then they'll have to go to summer school or maybe even be forced to repeat the grade. The student may be afraid of not passing and will start buckling down and do the work, or they may be lazy and not care if they fail.

The focus character for these types of stories are usually the kind who suck at academics in general, have the attention span of a fruit fly, have some sort of learning disability, or are a delinquent. They may end up having trouble studying at first due to distractions, not understanding the material, or just not giving a crap, but in the end, they'll end up pulling it together and pass, sometimes with flying colors.

Usually, the character has to study for a big test that will determine whether they pass or fail, but some plots have the character needing to do well on a project, do some sort of extra credit, or complete a bunch of assignments that they never turned in.

Sometimes a student needs to get their grade up because they can't play for the sports team anymore if they don't, they're part of a club and must maintain good grades in order to be able to participate, or they won't be allowed to go on a school trip. Out-of-school punishments such as being grounded by their parents are also a threat they may have to face if they fail.

Expect the character to be a Ridiculous Procrastinator. In many works, especially in Asia, this cues the parents to hire a Private Tutor for their child. Can overlap with Sextra Credit if the student sleeps with the teacher to improve their grade. For lazy or time-pressured pupils, there is always the unsavory way of shortcutting your way to success via School Grade Hacking.

This is sadly Truth in Television - a lot of people have this as a motive.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Haikyuu!! has a variation. If a member of the volleyball team fails their exams, they can't attend the summer training camp in Tokyo as they have to do supplementary classes, so the more Book Dumb members of the team scramble to get tutored in time. In the end, despite Tsukishima's and Yachi's efforts, Hinata and Kageyama flunk their finals and hitch a ride with Tanaka's sister, eventually arriving at the camp late.
  • In Hino San No Baka, Hino, a delinquent with a habit of cutting class, has the bar set higher for her than most examples when she's told that unless she gets at least 90 on her exams, she'll have to attend summer school. Luckily for her, she passes with her co-lead Koguma's help.
  • Ishigami is shown to be in danger of getting held back if he doesn't pass an upcoming exam in chapter 55 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War due to an incident back in middle school having made him apathetic towards schoolwork. Kaguya (who is looking for an excuse to pay back a favor she owes him) takes it upon herself to help him study and ensure that he passes.note  This ends up having consequences that last for the remainder of the series, as it was the first step in them developing their Like Brother and Sister dynamic.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Before the summer training camp, Aizawa says that everyone must pass their final exams to come. Cue a Hard-Work Montage of the students studying. Although some people eventually failed the practical examnote , Aizawa clarifies that everyone gets to attend the training camp, but the ones who flunked have to attend additional classes during the camp.
    • To gain more experience at an internship, the students of Class 1-A and 1-B are required to pass a special exam to earn their provisional hero licenses, which is usually reserved for second and third-year students. By the end, all of the U.A. students pass except for Bakugo and Todoroki, who are subsequently forced to go to remedial classes for a makeup in the winter and subsequently fall Out of Focus as a result.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets revolves around the main character, Fuutarou Uesugi, trying to salvage the abysmal grades of the namesake Nakano quintuplets as part of a tutoring gig to get himself out of poverty. The Nakanos passing their classes is not just for their own sake, but for Uesugi's as well, since he'll get fired if he doesn't produce results.
  • An anime-original episode in Saki has Yuuki struggling to pass her first term finals with the help of her mahjong club members.
  • A minor Story Arc in Spy X Family is about Anya needing to pass a series of tests on a day her Telepathy doesn't work, despite being at the bottom of the class in grades, as the school is a highly competitive one and will expel students who fail too many tests. A number of other characters work together to help her study—or in the case of Loid, infiltrates the school to artifically raise her test scores only to get compromised by an incompetent spy. In the end, Anya barely passes all of her tests on her own merits, putting the situation at the end of the arc exactly where it began.
  • We Never Learn puts a spin on the formula by having each of the main heroines excel academically in one subject (to the point of being considered child prodigies in their field), but have horrible grades on the subjects they're actually interested in. Nariyuki Yuiga, the main character, takes up the task of tutoring the heroines on the subjects they want to learn in in order to obtain a prestigious scholarship.

    Comic Books 
  • Played with in Cheer Up! Love and Pompoms — Beatrice isn't Book Dumb or a delinquent. In fact, she's on the cheerleading squad, but she's taken up so much extracurricular work (and work having to do with her transition) that her grades are suffering. And if she doesn't get good grades, her parents will make her wear boy's clothes again.
  • Robin (1993): Tim finds his English grade suffering as a result of putting off homework and falling asleep in class. To keep his father from learning his grades are slipping he goes to a play on his own time to write an essay about it for extra credit. In this case he wasn't really in danger of failing, but he's worried his father will use his less than perfect grades as an excuse to ship him back to boarding school, even though he'd rather just test out entirely.

    Fan Works 
  • Danny Phantom: Stranded: Danny Fenton becomes upset after getting a C on a test because his parents threatened not to let him go to the upcoming space convention if he got lower than a B again. The only reason that he joins the school play is that Mr. Lancer promised to give a 10% extra credit bonus to those who had roles, which would raise Danny's grade to where he needs it in order t be able to go to the convention.
  • Triptych Continuum: In A Confederacy Of Dunce Caps, Diamond Tiara has been getting through the school year by copying off Silver — and was just forced to switch desks. Sitting between Snips and Snails means she needs them to pass exams (when they've been flunking every year) so she'll have ponies she can copy from. This eventually leads to her tutoring both of them, while telling their parents that she has to teach their sons or be punished, under Cheerilee's orders — simply because they don't believe she would ever help anypony. Cheerilee reacts to learning about this by allowing Diamond to proceed with tutoring, because the lie says she can be punished if they fail — and Diamond forgot to specify what the punishment was.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure: The titular duo are on the verge of failing history, and Ted's father threatens to send him to military school in Alaska if that happens, threatening to end their friendship and their band the Wyld Stallions. This kicks off the plot, as a group of time-travelers from the future show up to prevent this by giving them access to time travel that will allow them to pass their final.
  • At one point in Police Academy, Hightower comes to Mahoney at night and tells him that he's going to get expelled if he fails the driving test, but he hasn't driven a car in years. So, Mahoney takes him for a driving lesson that night and Hightower learns enough to pass.

  • A variation in The Class-Repeaters, an Alice, Girl from the Future short story. Alice uses an experimental time machine and accidentally skips six months of her life. The school headmaster announces that it will be impossible for her to pass after missing two-thirds of the school year and she will have to repeat third grade. However, Alice's friends don't want to study on without her, so they all demand to be allowed to repeat the year as well. Finally, she devotes her summer to studying with her friends' help and successfully passes the third-grade exams in September, making it to year four.
  • In the eighth Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, Vice Principal Roy tells Greg's mom that he hasn't been doing his assignments (Fregley threw all of his books to some wild kids in the woods), and if his grades don't improve, then he'll have to go to summer school. Thankfully, Greg manages to complete his assignments and get his grades back up.
  • The Land of Unlearned Lessons series by Lia Geraskina is all about children going to the eponymous land to learn about the values of studying. The first book starts when the main character Vitya gets five D-equivalents over a single day, and his schoolbooks decide the situation needs to get fixed double quick if they don't want him to fail school entirely.
  • In The Magical Fairytale by Lidia Charskaya, Nadia is a lazy, selfish girl who reads too much Chick Lit for anyone's good. At the beginning of the novel, she, after already repeating the year, fails three exams and is told that if she fails another one, she will be kicked out of school. Nadia takes the warning very seriously... for a very short while. She fails spectacularly and gets kicked out of school.
  • Millicent Min, Girl Genius: Millicent starts tutoring her family friend Stanford when his grades fall so low that he loses his eligibility to play on the school basketball team.
  • The main plot point of No More Dead Dogs, which tells the story of a star football player who is barred from his high school's team after receiving a failing grade for writing a negative review of the Book Within A Book, Old Shep, My Pal. His teacher demands he submit a positive review to pass the course and be re-instated to the team, but he refuses as he believes that the book is an In-Universe Shoot the Shaggy Dog story.
  • In Vovka on the Planet Htrae by Vadim Korostylyov, ten-year-old Vovka spends his days training his dog and playing with it, completely failing at his classes. His mother, uncle, and two ninth-graders sent to supervise him think up a plan to remedy the situation: they pretend to send Vovka to the planet Htrae where he is trained by a dog (actually one of the ninth-graders in disguise) to get his grades up. It works.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bella and the Bulldogs: In the episode "Incomplete Pass" Bella needs to pass her oral exam in Spanish or she can't play for the football team anymore. Her friend Sophie helps her study and with her help she passes.
  • Blue Mountain State: The episode "Midterms" has Alex and several of his teammates threatened with being kicked off the football team because of their poor grades and GPAs (Alex has a 1.6 GPA, Thad has 1.7, and Harmon has 0.5) unless they pass an upcoming midterm. All of them refuse to study, Thad especially because Shiloh is forced to tutor them as he has a high GPA, but Alex finds a way around it by hanging out with the professor's elderly mother and secretly performing sexual activities for her in exchange for an A-. The other guys do the same, until they're caught and forced to take the test anyway. That is until they come up with a plan to blackmail the professor into giving them all Cs by threatening to post a live video of the guys having sex with his mother all over campus, to which he breaks down and obliges to.
  • In the final episode of Drake & Josh, Drake's gym teacher informs Audrey that Drake is failing gym class, due to the number of absences he had for several months. Drake is then told that he'll have to repeat 11th grade as a result.
  • Several episodes of Friday Night Lights revolve around school counselor Tammy Taylor discovering that Tim Riggins, the star fullback/ running back for the Dylan Panthers, is not actually attending classes. Instead, Rally Girls complete his assignments so he can meet the University Interscholastic League (UIL) requirement that student-athletes must be passing all academic courses to be eligible to participate in extracurricular activities. While Tim doesn't see any point in trying since he believes he has a dead end future, Tammy is determined that he learn basic writing skills and demands he pass his English class on his own with at least a 70 (lowest possible passing grade in the state of Texas) or she'll report his behavior to UIL making him ineligible for the state playoffs. Passing requires him to read the book Of Mice and Men and write a report on it. Tammy assigns Landry to help him. After some back and forth bickering, Landry goes as far as reading the book to Tim audiobook-style and writing down Tim's verbal musings. In the end, Tim does get a C on the paper, allowing him to remain eligible to play.
  • In an early episode of The Golden Girls, Blanche goes back to college to complete her degree. She does well in most of her classes, but really struggles in history. Unfortunately, when she goes to her professor to ask for help, he responds by offering to pass her if she sleeps with him. Blanche refuses to do so, and is initially devastated because she thinks she'll fail for sure, but then thinks about it and gets so angry that she studies incessantly for days to make damn sure she aces the final on her own.
    Blanche: You, sir, can kiss my A.
  • Little Lunch: The Grand Finale "The Nightmare Before Graduation" has the class banding together during the last week of school to help Rory complete all of the assignments and tests he did not do during the year. If he does not complete them, he will have to repeat Grade 6 and won't move on to high school with his friends.
  • In the "Guide to... Extra Credit" episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Ned finds out he has a C plus in health, social studies, math, and English. Having promised his mother he wouldn't bring home a grade lower than a B, he begs for some extra credit, and all four teachers agree... provided he turns in a project by the end of the week. Through some Loophole Abuse, he winds up being able to use the same project for all of the classes, which initially pisses his teachers off. However, he and his classmate Claire successfully argue that there Ain't No Rule in the school handbook saying he can't use the same project for multiple subjects, and the teachers admit the scheme was actually pretty clever—and the project is genuinely good, so they agree to bump up his grades in their classes to a B minus. His promise comes up again in the third-to-last segment, "Tests," where he seeks help from the geeks in order to pass three major tests (which are implied by circumstances to actually be the 8th. grade final exams) in order to pass all classes with a B.
  • In an early episode of Party of Five (2020), Beto desperately needs to get his grades up in order to avoid having to go to summer school, as he wants to be available to help work at the family restaurant. Unfortunately, Lucia proposes to give him the test answers for one of his classes... which backfires when she's unable to make the hand-off, leaving him to his own devices. Afterwards, she promises to help him study for all the other tests.
  • Veronica Mars: Weevil is failing algebra and won't graduate without it. Cassidy tutors him in exchange for getting his car fixed and Weevil actually graduates.

    Video Games 
  • In Persona 5 Strikers, Ryuji mentions that he barely managed to avoid getting sent to summer school for his poor grades. If he had, he would have missed the road trip he'd planned with his friends and the rest of the plot.

    Visual Novels 
  • Subverted in Double Homework. The whole summer school class thinks they have to pass in order to avoid repeating a grade. When Ms. Walsh doesn’t teach them, Johanna even goes so far as to draw up a lesson plan for her to use - and it actually is a good one. However, since the whole class is part of a secret experiment, it is implied that they would have gotten credit just for showing up.


    Western Animation 
  • In The The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius episode "Sheen's Brain", Sheen is failing and is about to be held back due to putting down Ultra Lord for all of the answers on tests. Jimmy and Carl's attempts at tutoring him fail, so Jimmy uses one of his inventions to turn him into a genius. While he manages to pass the next test, he becomes an Insufferable Genius, with his brain growing extremely large and giving him psychic powers.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Grades", Gumball is sent back to kindergarten because he failed a test several years prior. When Miss Simian is about to be fired due to not having enough students in her class, she tries to help him study for a big exam that will allow him to come back to Elmore Jr. High. When this fails, she tries to help him cheat, which also fails. He pulls it together and manages to pass the exam in the end.
  • In Arthur, the season 1 episode "Buster Makes the Grade" has Buster threatened to repeat 3rd grade because he is not doing well academically. His friends try to tutor him to help him pass the end-of-year exam, but their methods don't work and he gets distracted. The day before the test, Buster imagines just how awful it would be to get held back and studies as hard as he can. The next day, he passes with a B+. (Not that he actually goes to 4th grade, because of the show's Comic-Book Time.)
  • Batman Beyond: Terry's duties as Batman doesn't help with his schooling, and with failure in Family Studies looming, he'll only pass with an assignment worth half his final grade: Egg Sitting (episode "The Eggbaby").
  • Boy Girl Dog Cat Mouse Cheese: In the episode "Scientifically Impossible", Girl is on the verge of failing science class and being sent to summer school unless she comes up with a project that doesn't involve yo-yo tricks like all of her previous ones have. Mouse offers to tutor her, but Girl proves to be so hopelessly and completely inept at science (she couldn't even get the names of animals found in a children's science book right) that she decides to steal one of Mouse's inventions to pass off as hers. Mouse finds out and sabotages the next invention Girl takes, only for it to malfunction and almost destroy everything in sight if not for the construction of a giant baking soda volcano to send it into space. Girl's science teacher is so impressed that she gives her a passing grade, although Mouse declares that she's never allowed in his lab again, which Girl agrees is probably for the best.
  • In the Danny Phantom episode "Teacher of the Year", Danny constantly goofs off and plays video games rather than study for an exam that makes up a quarter of his grade. As a result, Mr. Lancer holds him after class until he finally passes said exam, during which time Technus is free to wreak havoc on the video game Danny was playing.
  • In the Doug episode "Doug's Bum Rap", Doug is accused of cheating on a test because his exam and star athlete Chalky Studebaker's are exactly the same. Doug finally confronts Chalky, who admits he copied Doug's exam because he was under so much pressure from the big football game that weekend and his family's expectations to be as good as his older brother he didn't have time to study. Chalky confesses, and has to miss the big game to take a retest.
  • Jacob Two-Two: One episode has Jacob being paired up with the bullies to do a science project that they must get a good mark on or risk going to summer school. Jacob does most of the work, but quickly loses his patience and sanity when the bullies destroy every project he comes up with, eventually deciding on doing a potato clock. However, the bullies take it a step further and make a giant one out of a grandfather clock and hundreds of potatoes which ends up causing power surges and electromagnetic fields all over the city until its destroyed and turned into a giant volcano. Despite all of this, the science professor gives all of them an A+ on their project.
  • Johnny Test: In "Johnny Bench", Johnny is informed by Mr. Teacherman that because he is not paying attention and doodling in his notebook in class, he is on the verge of being sent to summer school if he does not get his grades up. Johnny eventually decides to do wood shop to get his grades up, but refuses to build a simple wood bench because Teacherman is teaching the class and Johnny doesn't like being told what to do. It takes an out of control hi-tech wood bench built by Literal-Minded construction drones and inspiring words from Teacherman for Johnny to swallow his pride and finally build the bench himself, earning an A.
  • The Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil episode "Morning Rush" has Kick's teacher telling him that he'll fail the class if he doesn't do the two months worth of homework that he never completed (Due to Ms. Chicarelli's dog, Oskar, eating it) in a single night. He does so... but Oskar ends up eating it anyway, which gives Kick less than six minutes to finish it all again. He defies the odds and does just that.
  • In The Loud House episode "Study Muffin", Lincoln keeps failing all of his tests and hires a tutor to help him study for an exam. It turns out that it's not because he doesn't understand the material, but because he can't focus due to his hot substitute teacher. He ends up passing when he takes the test in his locker.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode "Uprooted", there is a variation of this in the Cold Opening. While the Student Six are having a Shared Dream that begins as a nightmare for each of them, Ocellus claims that she somehow missed a class for the entire year and the final is today, and if she does not pass she can't graduate.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Bart Gets an 'F'", Bart is in danger of failing fourth grade and must study for a big test. As much as he tries to study and apply himself, he still fails with just one point below passing. Thankfully, Mrs. Krabappel ends up giving him an extra point when he rattles off an obscure fact, thus showing that he really did try hard to study.