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"High school is
Such a serious thing.
These pro-blems

There's something about secondary education — the nature of teenagers, the nature of the adults that work with teenagers, parents' expectations that things will be just like when they were a kid — that lends itself to the accrual of strange national customs. Every major country has its own, but as far as 90% of the entries on this wiki are concerned, only three countries' systems actually count — the US, the UKnote  and Japan. (Sorry, Germany.) The Canadian system (at least the Anglophone one) is basically similar to the US, the Irish system broadly similar to the British one (though it starts a year later than the British do), and the (South) Korean one similar to Japan (sorry, Canada, Ireland, and Korea). This entry is primarily about the American one.

In the US, high school is usually the last four years of compulsory education (grades 9-12), although in some districts it's the last three (grades 10-12). In Japan it's three years (equivalent to grades 10-12), and not compulsory. In both cases students are likely to be coming from a Junior High, which consists of grades 7-9 (although not all US districts have those). In the American South and other regions of the U.S. grades 5-8 or 6-8 are called middle school, and elementary school ends at either grade 4 or 5 rather than at 6, as it does when the school district is zoned for junior highs instead of middle schools. In Russia, it's called "middle" school, "high" being the university, and lasts through grades five to eleven, being kind of conjoined with Junior High. For Britain, see The Good Old British Comp (though that isn’t the only option for teen-school stories in Britain by any means).

High schools in television tend to be cleaner, more modern, better lit, more architecturally interesting and have better food than most of their real-world counterparts. Obviously, there do exist real-world high schools which are large, spacious, space-inefficient, and brand spanking new, but as public school buildings tend to have very long operational lifetimes, these are in the minority.

The archetypical high school set consists of a single hallway lined with wide lockers, and three doorways leading to a classroom, the principal's office, and a rest room. An interesting note is that in Real Life, many high schools in the southern and western parts of the US are "open-air" — meaning, classroom doors open to the outside, and there are no hallways at all. It's egregious with the many high school-centric television shows set in California, a state which has almost exclusively open-air campuses. It should be noted that the big gothic-looking schools of film were designed for maximum heat in winter. In the Mediterranean climate where this is less of an issue, open air schools were built to keep classrooms cool, but once air conditioning became universal in schools in the 2000s, the trend went back towards one large building.

Television high school students spend an inordinate amount of time in a single classroom, which is not unreasonable given the likelihood that we will only ever see one or two teachers. Any student we care about will have his or her locker in the hallway immediately outside the only classroom. The former is actually Truth in Television in Japan and a few other countries where students are assigned to a class that stays in a set homeroom with teachers coming in and out depending on the subject.

If we see another classroom, 99% of the time it will be a thoroughly well-stocked science lab, often with trappings more appropriate to 30 years ago (or whenever the producers went to high school). Obviously, if done deliberately, this tends to be Author Appeal.

Rest rooms are always accessible to students, and it is not uncommon or difficult for one to spend time in the rest room of the opposite gender in order to hold a private conference.

Television writers seem unable to keep clear which conventions are specific to a high school, and which are more appropriate to a college (see also Elaborate University High). There are often times during the school day when a student may freely wander the building without having to be anywhere in particular, and can freely enter and leave the campus at any time. It is also common for a single class to be canceled, giving a student character some free time. All of these things may exist in some actual US high schools, but it is far and away more common for students to be required to remain in their classrooms unless given written permission to use the restroom or go somewhere else, and many schools even employ guards to stop students from wandering the halls or leaving the campus.

You will notice that the writers often base high school themed works on where they went to high school, or on popular stereotypes that are present in a lot of high schools. Part of the reason Alpha Bitch, Book Worm, and Jerk Jock tropes are so prevalent in these works is because everybody knew someone like that (detailed below). It's often heavily exaggerated, too, for Rule of Funny and Rule of Drama. As a result of how different all schools are from one another, there's going to be somebody in the audience saying "Have these guys ever actually been to high school?!"

In fiction, school sports are often a strictly male domain. Women's sports teams will essentially be non-existent, with women relegated strictly to cheerleader or non-athletic extracurricular activities.

Fictional American high schools are almost always named after historical presidents of the United States, with the more obscure 19th-century presidents (Fillmore, Polk, McKinley...) most favored though other famous historical figures may be used as well. Hilariously obscure or inappropriate figures (such as George Wallace or Dan Quayle) may be chosen for comedic effect. A high school named for the community where it is located (Sunnydale High) is often used to invoke a small-town or suburban setting and geographic names like Moperville North and Moperville South usuallynote  indicate that a cross-town rivalry is going to figure into the plot. These are the most common sources of names for US high schools in the real world as well.

Class-times may vary to suit the needs of the plot, with the result that students may arrive to or depart from the same class to a destination which differs from episode to episode.

Bells often do not work the same way as in real life high schools. In fiction, students will often be seen chatting in the hall while a bell rings and don't seem to be in any hurry to go anywhere once the bell does ring. In many real high schools, students are expected to be in the classroom before the bell rings and nobody should be in the hallway at that time.

Schools have mascots. As in real life, they appear to have been chosen entirely at random. As in real life, they are often patently ridiculous. Often, an "uncool" male protagonist will take a turn in the school mascot costume, for one episode, but almost never takes over the role for an entire season.

High schools seen in anime tend to be far more detailed than their American counterparts when they play any part in a story, but this may be attributed to the fact that there are only two or three basic school designs permitted by the Japanese government. Almost every school is identical to every other school, and thus viewers have built-in expectations about what they'll find to which the animators must cater.

As the high school setting is crucial to the formula of the show, producers often find ways to draw out the high school experience. Almost all shows start in freshman year. On Beverly Hills, 90210, an extreme case, the producers actually had the students go to junior year twice. Finally, the cast is often made to attend a California University to keep the group together.

Stereotypically, private schools are usually populated by extremely snooty smartasses with more money than they know what to do with. They also have to wear uniforms, and are usually single-sex. Public schools, on the other hand, are depicted as extremely poor, the children "run wild" and have dress codes instead of a strict uniform policy. As you can see, this sort of stuff is always heavily exaggerated because it's funny or dramatic.

A word about school dress codes here — from the mid-90s to the early '00s, an entire trend towards stricter dress codes and uniforms in American public schools has developed, peaked, and largely died out with hardly any notice from the creators of fiction. There are a number of reasons for this — it started after the creators were out of school, the Real Life version of this trend was more common in elementary schools (and never even considered as an option by some 80% of them), varied clothing helps in characterization, the creators want their cast to look cool to teen viewers, the actors can't wear golf shirts and khakis without looking like computer salesmen — the upshot is, if there's a strict dress code in a fictional American public school, chances are it's a Compressed Vice and probably also a Chekhov's Gun. The common "no-hat" rule was put in place largely to deter gang activity in kids. It's one of the few consistently accurate depictions of modern high school, perhaps because having actors wear hats makes lighting difficult in live action and is hard to render accurately through 360° in animation.

In Real Life, school buildings often have additions that are designed with little or no attempt to match the existing building inside or out, making it possible for two or more completely different-looking regular-classroom architectures to exist in one school. This seldom happens in fiction because 1) they think it would confuse people, and 2) there's often only one "regular classroom" set and its decorations, orientation and such are changed as set dressing for scenes set in "different" classes.

High Schools of all kinds are the natural habitat of the Alpha Bitch and her Girl Posse, the Jerk Jock, the Sadist Teacher, the Popularity Food Chain, and numerous other hazards common to the teenage years.

Fiction tends to regard the High School and its students as central to the workings of the Universe. Adult characters will always look back on their high school years as either the best or the worst of their lives, and will remember every detail of their time in high school as if it had just taken place the previous day. This is generally not Truth in Television; most adults (or at least those who were not abused) barely remember high school, considering it as a relatively unimportant prelude to their real, adult lives. Other times they may hold an idealized vision of high school due to the Nostalgia Filter, blocking out all the stuff they hated about high school and only remember the stuff they liked. Despite this, high school is about the only experience that a majority of the adult audience is guaranteed to have in common, even if they failed to graduate.

A subtrope is Inner City School. When the High School days are overtly idealized, it becomes High School Rocks.

For tropes commonly associated with the high school experience, see High School Tropes. See American Educational System for more information. For schools in Britain, see The Good Old British Comp.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Many, many Slice of Life anime and manga series take place in high school, to the point that it eventually developed its own subgenre.
  • In Angel Beats!!, the high school is eventually revealed to literally be Purgatory, intended to purify the souls of dead high school students to let go of their regrets.
  • Azumanga Daioh falls into this category, though it's in a Japanese high school and those usually don't have lockers in the hallway.
  • Miyagami Academy, the school in (and main setting of) Best Student Council, is not only huge, it has a cannon that its Absurdly Powerful Student Council can use and an underground tube (with high-speed roller coaster-style chair) connecting the dorm and main school building.
  • The CLAMP school, which shows up in CLAMP School Detectives and X1999, is in the shape of a pentagram and contains all of the facilities necessary for daily life. In fact, the whole of the CLAMP campus contains schools from kindergarten through highly advanced university, and houses in excess of ten thousand students, plus various other people. The claim that it is wholly self-sufficient is made at least once.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya: Still a lot of focus on Moe, but at least the girls look more their age (Haruhi-chan spinoff notwithstanding). As for the school itself, most of the action takes place in the club room where the titular character hosts her SOS Brigade, though there is focus on other parts of the school.
  • Kanon. Most girls are still Older Than They Look, but not so much as in the example.
  • Lucky Star, set in Ryou High School, is an odd example. Even though it's supposed to be high school, everyone looks and sounds like they're Becky's age (see above) and the music sounds a lot more appropriate for grade school, consisting of a rinky-dink piano and some other such instruments. However, Konata and Patricia do have a part-time job, and there is talk about breast sizes or current events every now and then.
  • Pani Poni Dash!. Welcome to Momotsuki Academy, where one of the classes is governed by 11-year-old supergenius Rebecca Miyamoto.
  • Usagi and her friends are said to have gone to high school in the Sailor Stars season of Sailor Moon.
  • School Rumble is a romantic comedy set in high school.
  • Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches takes place on a high school and uses most of the standard tropes, though with the twist that most of the plotlines derives from Psychic Powers that are used by kissing.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The show setting is of Duel Academia, a high school for learning how to play the card game Duel Monsters. Why parents would send their kids to a high school for the sole purpose of learning how to become more skilled at a fairly ridiculous children's game is anyone's guess.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics prominently feature Riverdale High as the school the majority of characters attend.
  • Robin: A fair portion of the story arcs are based on things occurring at Tim's various high schools, with various common high school problems present and discussed and quite a lot of time is spent on high school campuses. The series follows Tim from a high school freshman up until a few weeks after he drops out as a senior.

  • 2:37 covers a single day in an Australian high school from the perspectives of six troubled students, leading up to a suicide at 2:37 p.m.
  • Assassination of a High School President, shot at Bayonne High School in Bayonne, New Jersey.
  • John Hughes's The Breakfast Club takes place entirely in and around the fictional Shermer High School in the fictional Sherman, Illinois.
  • The high school in Brick never got an official name, but it was filmed in San Clemente High School.
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High pretty much hit every High School trope.
  • Heathers, a Black Comedy about doing in the Alpha Bitches, a Spiritual Ancestor to Mean Girls.
  • Frederick Wiseman's 1968 documentary called simply High School seeks to document a Day in the Life of a typical American high school, in this case Northeast High School in Philadelphia. The theme throughout is high school's role in enforcing conformity, and the authoritarian teachers who stamp out individuality in students.
  • High School (2010) is set in Morgan High School, which is run by a principal with zero tolerance for his students doing drugs. When Henry gets high a couple days before the principal announces he'll be screening the student body for drugs, expelling anyone who tests positive, Henry and his friend Travis decide to give everyone in the school pot brownies so they would all test positive, resulting in all the results being thrown out.
  • High School Musical has a grand total of... two teachers and one coach. One of the teachers was shown for one scene, and the coach is Troy's dad.
  • High School U.S.A., as should be obvious from the title. Mostly notable for featuring a bunch of former teen stars as the teachers, and a bunch of (then) current teen stars as the students.
  • Kids in America: Takes Place in a high school.
  • Mean Girls, demonstrating how peer pressure and academics conflict with one another during high school.
  • Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, which takes place ten years after the titular characters graduated in Tuscon and moved to L.A., and explores how the emotional baggage and humiliation experienced in high school carries over to adult life, and how the protagonists decide to confront it.
  • As one might expect from the title, Spider-Man: Homecoming puts almost as much emphasis on Peter Parker's life in Midtown School of Science and Technology as it does on his exploits as the eponymous web-slinging superhero.

  • In 1632 a West Virginia mining town circa 2000 is transported back in time and the local high school becomes the greatest repository of human knowledge in the world. The author then demonstrates just how much knowledge is available in such a typical school.
  • Macdonald Hall is a series that takes place in a high school … specifically an all-boys Canadian Boarding School located near an all-girls finishing school.
  • In the Discworld, the four schools described in any detail are the Assassins' Guild School (initially boys only, now co-ed), the Quirm Academy for Young Ladies (girls only) and Hugglestones (boys only). One of the Yearbooks adds the Thieves' Guild School, which is described in terms of The Good Old British Comp. The first three pack in every trope you can think of concerning British boarding school life and expressly parody both real and fictional public schoolsnote  with every knob turned up.
  • Jessica Darling spends the first two books in her series attending Pineville High and being entangled in all the usual drama and jockeying for position. Deconstructed as the series continues to follow her after she graduates, and she is astonished when she looks back and realises just how little it all meant.
  • In Princess Holy Aura, Much of the daily life of Holly Owen and her friends is spent there, and is handled realistically for a high school in upstate New York.
  • The blurb for Lauren Kate's Unforgiven starts with "High school can be hell". And Trumbull High literally is Hell for Lilith - a tailor-made Hell that she's spent the last three millennia in. All teachers are nasty or clueless, other students look down at her or downright bully her, apparently only because she is poor and has an ill brother, and when she tries to rebel, she only gets detention. For bonus points, since it's Hell, there are no weekends. And the whole plot takes place in the 14 days leading up to the prom, which seems to be the single obsession of all students (apart from Lilith, that is).
  • The Wave (1981) by Todd Strasser, based on a real-life social experiment carried out by a Palo Alto, California history teacher with his class in The '60s. In order to teach his students how fascism arose in Europe and demonstrate that it can happen here, the teacher organizes them into a fascist movement, complete with armbands and salutes. It succeeds beyond his wildest dreams.

    Live-Action TV 
  • After School Special: Numerous afterschool specials on each of the three networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — had stories set at a high school, always to address a given social issue. And there were many, ranging from administrative censorship to cheating, bullying to drug abuse ... the list was endless.
  • A.N.T. Farm uses Webster High for the setting of most episodes. Justified as the premise of the show is gifted middle school kids attending high school. It has lockers, one main hallway with a large staircase and at least a couple of minor hallways. It also has a science lab classroom, Home Ec, the Ant Farm (which is where the Ants spend at a lot of time), and what looks to be a makeshift auditorium. Only a few episodes take place entirely outside of school and that was during their summer vacation.
  • As The Bell Rings is a curious Disney Channel show. Originally the Italian Quelli dell'intervallo, the 5-minute-episode show came to Britain and was remade with a British cast... but in a very American style school (William Shakespeare High), with no uniforms, lockers and one set - a corridor with a Shakespeare Bust in it. You'd think Disney would at least ask the cast what British schools are like, but no. It was remade for a U.S audience and later featured Demi Lovato.
  • In Beverly Hills, 90210 the characters actually attended junior year twice, in a move to extend the life of the popular show.
  • Boston Public featured, well, a Boston Public High School. While it's size and economic status would change depending on the episode, most of the time it managed to keep the feel of a public high school (with multiple classrooms no less).
  • Boy Meets World had it all, and did a lot of Lampshade Hanging about it. The school was named for John Adams (probably a reference to the fact that William Daniels, who played one of the only faculty members we ever saw, had played John Adams in both the Broadway play and the film adaptation of 1776); it had two classrooms (to accomodate a second teacher introduced for one season) but only one hallway (The "Senior Hallway" seen in later episodes is the same set shot from a different angle). In one season finale, a recurring character who had left the cast years ago reappeared, and explained his absence by pointing offstage and announcing that all his classes had been down the other hall. The regulars responded with shock and fear, as they had never set foot in that part of the building themselves.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer had unusually expansive high school sets, though most of the action took place in the library anyway.
    • Buffy's high school had the obvious drawback of being built directly on top of a gateway to Hell, which tended to give typical school problems a supernatural and lethal twist (oh, and assuming you got out of the place alive, the Hellmouth still made the entire town a magnet for vampires, demons, etc).
  • In California Dreams there was one hallway, but which had a slightly unusual architecture, and it had two classrooms, one which never changed, and one which housed everything from auto-shop to cooking class and was eventually also used for the graduation ceremony.
  • Subverted in the first two Degrassi series. which were shot in real schools, often on weekends, when no one was present. The setting of Degrassi High is now a community college (Centennial) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • Everybody Hates Chris has Corleone Junior High, Lamont Sanford Junior High and Tattaglia High.
  • Freaks and Geeks managed to get the look fairly well with a single T-shaped hallway set, plus classroom, cafeteria and gym sets. They did go through three different schools as exterior locations over the course of 18 episodes, however.
  • In Gilmore Girls, Chilton, being a private school, does not obey many of the standard public High School cliches. However, plot-driven class lengths are so powerful that the average class lasts about three and a half minutes.
  • Girl from Nowhere is an anthology that revolves around the lies and misdeeds taking place between the student body and teachers of various high schools.
  • Glee is set at McKinley High, Which may or may not be a parody of this.
  • The main cast of Gossip Girl go to Constance and St. Jude's high schools during the first two seasons.
  • Head of the Class was set in Millard Fillmore High School, and the students seemed to spend the entire day in the same room. This was explained by their being in a special "gifted students" program, which sometimes does work that way in real life.
  • Joan of Arcadia uses a high school with a science lab and art room, but probably only one hallway.
  • Lizzie McGuire ushered in a newer tween version on the Disney Channel, leading to other, similar shows like Phil of the Future and Hannah Montana.
  • Rarely seen, but Married... with Children often referenced James K. Polk High, whose mascot was the Dot.
  • Mr. Iglesias has Gabriel Iglesias (playing "Gabe Iglesias") as a history teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School. Most, but not all, of the action takes place in the school; in addition to Gabe's classroom, there's the school office, the school auditorium/theater, and at least two hallways.
  • My So-Called Life popularised the unisex restroom. (In reality, it was the girls' restroom, but Ricky spent so much time in there it might as well have been unisex.)
  • In The O.C., the characters attended Harbour High School. The show often featured the physical building, but very rarely any storylines specifically tied to it.
  • Our Miss Brooks may be television's Ur-Example, with much of the action taking place at Madison High School. A Sound-to-Screen Adaptation, the program first aired on the radio in 1948, debuted on television in the autumn of 1952. The show's official Grand Finale, a film released in 1956, was the second cinematic adaptation of a television series (Joe Friday beat Miss Brooks to the punch by four years).
  • The TV show Radio Active was mostly set within the high school radio station (begging the question of how many high schools actually have radio stations manned all day by all of five students, who one would think would have to attend class occasionally), though there are at least two hallways.
    • High school radio stations are not at all unheard of. Usually these are very low power stations and you'd be lucky to be able to pick them up at the far end of the parking lot, but they do exist. The students manning them get credit for doing so (usually as a speech/theatre type class, or possibly as a business class, since the station may sell ad spots to local companies), so they're not exactly skipping class to run the station (though they do still have to take core courses like math, science, English and so on sometime, so you'd think they'd need at least a few more students to be able to cover the full day).
    • Two hallways (outside the station's green room where the lockers are, and outside the vice-principal's office), two offices, one classroom, and, in one episode each, a library and cafeteria. The school was also Upper Redwood High, which of course allowed the rival school (the one always named as a sporting opponent) Lower Greenwood High.
  • Room 222: A high school dramedy from the late 1960s and early '70s, with most of the action at Walt Whitman High School (in a blue-collar Los Angeles neighborhood) taking place in the classroom of Pete Dixon; some scenes shifted as well to the classroom of Alice Johnson, a pretty young college graduate who (in the first season) was in her rookie year of teaching and was gently mentored by Mr. Dixon. Most stories were innocent enough, although there were some very meaty topics thrown in: censorship, plagiarism and cheating, teaching competence, the Vietnam War (still very prevalent in the early 1970s), race relations, the needs of special education students, bullying, anti-gay harassment and much more. Seymour Coffman was the principal and Liz McIntyre was the guidance counselor.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch went to a school with two hallways and a cafeteria, but very few classrooms. Their mascot was the Fighting Scallion.
  • Saved by the Bell also had the archetypal one-hall layout, though was fortunate enough to have multiple classrooms. It also had unisex bathroom scenes, but less often. To further compound the claustrophobic nature of the set, there exists a theory that the entire Saved By The Bell universe is contained inside the school. Furthermore, Bayside High is an example of Television Geography: in Good Morning Miss Bliss (the original title of the series), it was Midwestern, moving to northern California for Saved by the Bell. The selfsame school reappeared years later in That's So Raven, by which time it had migrated to San Francisco.
    • Saved By The Bell only appeared to have more than one classroom. There was just the one, but it had multiple doors, so a simple rearrangement of the furniture made it appear to have more.
  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager: A standard episode mostly involves the teens infodumping in the one hallway of Ulysses S Grant High. It wasn't until the second season that they were even shown in a classroom. There were brief appearances of a coach, a secretary, and a teacher in that first of about three classroom scenes. Other than that, the school staff seems to only consist of the guidance counselor.
  • Square Pegs had unusually an expansive high school set.
  • Strangers with Candy has Flatpoint High, complete with all the classic sets and a couple of less common ones. Certain teachers spend an unusual amount of time down in the basement, and then there's the teachers' lounge, complete with its own shower. The principal's office also bears the distinction of being accessed via secret passage.
  • The Steve Harvey Show has Booker T. Washington High. It has two hallways, a music room (sometimes it actually had instruments), an office, another classroom, and a cafetorium. There was a staircase that led to a second floor of the school but that part of the school was never seen.
  • The school in Student Bodies had hallways, a cafeteria and the school paper office, though no classrooms.
  • Summer Heights High was actually shot at an Aussie High School in documentary fashion.
  • Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad featured both a hallway and a cafeteria with a small stage. At one point a closeup of one of the cafeteria walls was used for a scene in the principal's office.
  • Unnatural History is set at Smithson High, which is attached to the National Museum Complex.
  • The setting for The Vampire Diaries, often with a High-School Dance going on.
  • Veronica Mars attends Neptune High, which has a very liberal attendance policy, and lets the more popular students "buy" additional liberties such as pizza delivery. She has also held unisex restroom conferences.
  • Victorious is set at Hollywood Arts High School, and all bets are off about it fitting anything about this description.
  • Welcome Back, Kotter was set in Buchanan High, and followed the archetype of a single hall and classroom.
  • Welcome Freshmen
  • The set of Zoey 101 is the characters' high school, Pacific Coast Academy. Justified in that it is a private boarding school, and that the entire premise of the show was to add girls to a previously all-boys school. Technically it could fit into the California University trope: though it is not set at a university, the show was filmed in California at Pepperdine University.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Bubblegumshoe, an application of the GUMSHOE RPG rules to the Kid Detective genre, naturally has to deal with a number of high school-related tropes.
  • Teenagers from Outer Space is this in spades, with a mix of American and Japanese High school tropes, heavily based on both the Live Action TV and Anime and Manga examples elsewhere on this page.

  • Ever After High is a Spin-Off of Monster High, now following the children of various fairy-tale and fantasy stories.
  • Monster High is set around students of a high school populated by classic and fantastical monster creatures.
  • My Scene was an attempt for Mattel to complete with Bratz, placing Barbie in a high school setting.
  • Rainbow High is set in a high school focused on fashion and performing arts, with each character having a themed color pallet to their fashion looks.

    Video Games 
  • The main setting and theme of Bully is High School, as you control a Bully Hunter who tries to bring peace to the ever-warring cliques of Bullworth Academy... by beating the crap out of them. Plenty of high school hi-jinks ensue; panty raids, sabotaging football games, wedgies, swirlies... the whole 9 yards.
  • Everyone in The Caligula Effect attends Kishimai High School, and thanks to a "Groundhog Day" Loop they stay there for as long as they're in Mobius. As such, while everyone in the setting is physically high school age, much of the cast is either Younger or Older Than They Look.
  • Corridor Z is set in Massville High School, which has become infested with zombies, and is in lockdown. Three survivors (Logan the jock, Megan the cheerleader, and Sgt. Williams) need to make it to a guarded door where they can escape by running through the halls to it from hordes of zombies.
  • Escape From St. Mary's: Set fully in a high school, with typical school tasks, like playing basketball, working with the website team, hunting for aliens, traveling through time...
  • The obscure Nintendo 64 dating sim Getter Love!! (released only in Japan, to no one's surprise) has four boys and eight girls who go to high school. The school itself is located right in the middle of the map, but it's only purposes are to meet Makoto or Meifa, to get together with someone if you've planned to go to someone's house, the beach, or the Shinto shrine, or where Alfonso explains the rules of the game to everyone before things begin. All the girls' lesser endings take place somewhere within the school, seeing that the end of the game marks the end of everyone's summer vacation for the year.
  • A sizeable chunk of Growing Up takes place during your character's high school years.
  • Katawa Shoujo has its action put in Yamaku, Japanese high school for disabled, ill and/or otherwise requiring assistance students. (however, it also accepts healthy people, but they are a minority)
  • Sora and most of his human friends are supposed to be High School students in Kingdom Hearts, but he doesn't seem too concerned that he's now missed a whole year of school while off saving the multiverse. He even expresses amused bewilderment in Twilight Town when Olette asks him about "homework" upon meeting him. Kairi, however, was shown to attend school while she was back home.
  • ObsCure (aka Mortifilia) is a Resident Evil-style Survival Horror game set in a high school and based on teen horror movies. The sequel moves on to a university, though you do return to the ruins of the school late in the game.
  • While all of the Persona games have a high school as a main location, it wasn't until the third game that high school life itself became a focus:
    • All of the main characters of Persona 3 (with the exception of the elementary student and the Team Pet) attend Gekkoukan High School during the day, with the protagonist being a second-year (equivalent to a junior in most American high schools). A good many of the game's Social Links involve participating in club activities such as the sports and fine arts clubs or the Absurdly Powerful Student Council. It also transforms into an Evil Tower of Ominousness at night during the "hidden" Dark Hour, when Demonic Invaders called "Shadows" prowl the halls. No, really.
    • Much of Persona 4 takes place in Yasogami High, and your party's starting members are second-years again (though a few first-years eventually join the team as well). Also, the school doesn't change into the Evil Tower of Ominousness, the Student Council is basically invisible, and more attention is paid to the fact that it's a school and not just a place to hang out with people (homework, projects, tests and such are much more heavily featured than P3).
    • In Persona 5, you attend Shujin Academy as part of your probation. Though maintaining good grades is still an important part of the game, you're mostly treated as a pariah by the rest of the school, to the point where you have only one school friend outside of your fellow Phantom Thieves (two if you count your homeroom teacher) and cannot join any club. Though the first major antagonist is the school's volleyball coach, Shujin itself is far less central to its game than Gekkoukan and Yasogami were to theirs.
  • The Tokimeki Memorial series by Konami is a Japanese High School Dating Sim series, where the player incarnates a freshman spending his 3 years of High School improving his academic marks, looks, and physique, in order to graduate, and to become High-School Sweethearts with one of the numerous girls (boys in the ''Girl's Side'' branch of the series) he'll meet during this time. All games take place in High School, save for the cellphone-only game Tokimeki Memorial 4 Chu!, which has a Junior High setting.

  • Annyseed: Despite being set in a version of The Good Old British Comp, this features mismatched American high school motifs, such as lockers and trophy cabinets in the hallway, students wearing their own clothes, and high school stereotypes like the Alpha Bitch.
  • In Autumn Bay, Stephen meets up with Adam at Jenkins High School and wonders what "weird crap" they could find there.
  • Bad Machinery provides a sort of amiable, occasionally surreal, British take on some high school themes. Being set in and around a grammar school rather than The Good Old British Comp, it isn’t tied to that trope.
  • El Goonish Shive features two different high schools - Moperville North and Moperville South. Half the cast attends North, while the other half attends South. Moperville North's mascot is "The Frenzied Turkeys". Even though it's a webcomic most of the action takes place in the corridors and cafeterias, just like a TV show.
  • Falconhyrste takes place in a mysterious, supernatural boarding high school.
  • Penny and Aggie often veers from this into High School Rocks territory and back, as it can swing from an Archie-esque mistaken-identity farce to Riverdale-esque kidnapping plot on a dime.
  • Philler Space begins on Philler's first day of high school.
  • Urban Animal has most of the main cast are students or staff at a high school.
  • The Wotch and its spinoff Cheer! are centered around Tandy Gardens High, home of the fighting Kangaroos. Their mascot costume is so embarrassing even their token Australian exchange student refuses to be seen in it.
  • Zoophobia revolves around the Zoo-Phoenix Academy and its staff and students, a majority of which are creatures, hybrids and demons.

    Web Original 
  • Fire Emblem on Forums: While most games in this series of roleplays avert this trope by virtue of high schools not existing in the medieval High Fantasy settings characteristic of these roleplays, Demon Soul Saga plays this straight due to the protagonists of that game being Japanese high school students attending Our Lady of Hermelin High School.
  • The default map for Mitadake High is a high school, funnily enough. Some logical thinking about where things are coupled with some hijinks like you get up to in your actual school will soon leave you knowing the place like the back of your hand.
  • Since the involved characters are high school students, the pregames for Survival of the Fittest versions two, three, four, and five took place in the schools the characters attended (Aurora in v5, Bayview Secondary in v4, Southridge in v3, Bathurst, Hobbsborough, Franklyn Senior, and PJ Gilroy Academy in v2) and the cities they lived in (Seattle for v5, St. Paul for v4, Highland Beach for v3, Denton for v2).
  • Titan Academy uses the trope with the Singaporean High School system. While the faculty's name is 'Titan Academy', it functions a lot more like a high school.
  • I Was A Teenage Cyclops, a story from The Wanderer's Library, combines traditional teenage drama with Time Cube to great effect, twisting many typical high school problems in bizarre ways.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad! has Pearl Bailey High School.
  • As Told by Ginger: All the melodrama and social hurdles of High School, without the High School. Funny thing is, when the characters finally got there, the show got canned.
    • Funny thing about this. The story did end and there were six episodes prepared on their high school lives. These episodes were shown internationally but only the first one was aired on a random day without much notice. Nick USA canned it and just showed the last few episodes on VHS and had to change the dialogue due to parts that were from skipped episodes.
  • Clone High, about a high school of people cloned from famous historical figures.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head "attended" Highland High School. So did Daria, until she got her own show; Daria had multiple teachers and classrooms, but sets are cheaper when everything's animated anyway.
  • Family Guy has Buddy Cianci Junior High and James Woods High School.
    • For those who don't get the joke: Buddy Cianci served two stints as mayor of Providence, RI (1975-1984 and 1991-2002). He was forced to resign both times: the first time because of assault charges (to which he pleaded guilty), and the second time due to criminal racketeering charges (of which he was found guilty, though only of one charge out of the 27 levied against him). He became legally eligible to hold office again in 2012, though he was defeated in next election for mayor of Providence in 2014, and Cianci died of cancer in early 2016.
  • When not on world-saving missions, Kim Possible and friends attend Middleton High, apparently the only high school in a mid-sized city. The only faculty member seen in most episodes is the Drill Sergeant Nasty coach/teacher, Mr. Barkin. The mascot, portrayed at pep-squad events by hapless sidekick Ron Stoppable, is the Middleton Mad Dog.
  • X-Men: Evolution The X-Men heroes and villains as teenagers in High School? A real high school, not just Xavier's mansion? Yes, it could be done.

Alternative Title(s): High School Is Hell