Follow TV Tropes


High-School Dance

Go To
Earth Angel, Earth Angel, please be mine...

The Sadie Hawkins Dance.
In my khaki pants.
There's nothing better. (Oh, oh, oh!)
The girls ask the guys.
It's always a surprise.
There's nothing better
Baby, do you like my sweater?
Relient K, "Sadie Hawkins Dance"

The High School Dance, especially on television directed toward a pre-teen audience, shows these teen events at their most watered-down and dated. If it's a theme dance, then everyone will dress up. It's quite possible that some sort of awkward "boy has to ask a girl as his date" scenario will crop up at some point. For extra drama, it can be a Sadie Hawkins dance (named after a character in Li'l Abner) where—gasp!—the girl asks the guy out. There will almost always be colourful streamers, a punch bowl full of something orange, and happy-go-lucky kids dancing in the most parentally-approved manner possible to the most generic (and, of course, parent-safe) dance/party music ever.

There's certainly never any bumping or grinding at one of these — at least, not for long. However, unless it's a comedy with Middle School-aged kids, it's unlikely to go boys' side/girls' side.

Also, you won't (usually) see anybody sitting alone or just standing around and talking with their friends (unless, of course, it's one of the main characters). Literally everybody is dancing and flailing around throughout the dance's entire however-many-hour duration, with nary a hint of exhaustion or sweating.

Since many dances nowadays don't feature refreshments or proper "dates", the High School Dance is often an unintentional example of writers harkening back to the era they grew up in. The Beautiful All Along plots always end at this type of dance. Homecoming/Prom King/Queen is usually a big deal as well, especially with the Alpha Bitch involved. Also, be on the lookout for that shady character who always manages to spike the punch. Someone may try to spoil the dance for everybody else. If so, expect an homage to Carrie.

If this is a teen movie, the climax has to happen at a big dance.

This trope can be an example of Truth in Television, however, since some real-life high school dances contain elements of this (mostly just with regards to decorations and refreshments). Customs are always evolving, and while Hollywood remains Two Decades Behind, movies made in the 2030s-2040s will represent what's going on right now. (Sorry for the delay.)

Compare School Festival, which uses different window dressing but often fills the same storytelling niche in Japanese works and The Prom Plot, which is specifically for the much-loved high school tradition for juniors and seniors. Sub-Trope of Dances and Balls.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Revolutionary Girl Utena, Nanami invites Anthy to the dance and tells her she's a candidate for Dance Queen, but it's just a pretext to embarrass her in front of the whole school because she (mistakenly) thinks she's getting too close to her brother Touga. Fortunately, Utena's quick thinking makes things better: she grabs a huge table cloth to make Anthy a makeshift dress, and they dance together in front of the school.
  • Love at Fourteen: Of the awkward variety, the students are very nervous at the thought of holding hands with a member of the opposite sex.
  • The Marmalade Boy anime has one as the graduation ceremony for Satoshi and the third year students. Since Miki and Yuu are in a low point of their relationship since Yuu is going to the USA as an exchange student, Satoshi asks Miki to be his date. He then gives Miki a pep talk about their relationship so she can understand Yuu's reasons better, and reveals that he managed to have Yuu sneak in. The two reconcile and share a Dance of Romance.
  • In Space☆Dandy episode 17, which is a Shallow Parody of High School Musical and features Dandy going undercover at a high school, the climax takes place at the Prom. Dandy decides that he must become Prom King in order to cause the alien he's searching for to reveal herself, and asks out nearly every girl in school. Despite his charms, they all reject him, and he ends up going out with the plain Shrinking Violet he met at the beginning. While it looks like the Alpha Bitch is a shoe-in to win, Dandy derails her victory musical number by singing the praises of his date's ass, getting everyone involved and destroying the school's rigid social hierarchy... or something.
  • The Story Between a Dumb Prefect and a High School Girl with an Inappropriate Skirt Length: The central event of the School Festival is an American-style prom, with a twist: students are given tickets with descriptions of people (e.g. "dark hair", "taller than 180 cm") and have to find someone who matches the description and ask them to the dance (they can trade cards with each other if their crush doesn't have those traits).
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Shuchi'in Academy hosts an annual party for students from their sister school in Paris. While there's no mention of dancing the first time around, the second party a year latter is specifically shown to be a dance. It also serves as a Breather Episode just before the final major arc.

    Comic Books 
  • The climax of the 4th story arc ("Neigh Anything") in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) comic series involves a formal high school dance.
  • Tim takes his girlfriend Ariana to a dance at his high school in the first issue of the Robin ongoing series. The school parking lot gets targeted by car thieves during the dance.
  • Cheer Up! Love and Pompoms ends at the Homecoming Dance, where Annie (the tomboy lesbian) is actually elected Homecoming Queen. She ends up dancing with Beatrice and the book ends with their kiss.
  • Middle School in Sunny Rolls the Dice. Sunny attends her first dance, the Spring Fling, and wears a nice dress she picked out at the mall with Deb and Regina and styles her hair. But the dance is awkward with the boys standing nervously on one side and the girls on the other. She wanders the halls until she finds her D&D friends playing — also avoiding the dance — and joins in with them, having a much better time.

    Fan Works 
  • The whole premise of Promstuck is that all the (pre-Act 6) Homestuck characters are at prom. John brought Karkat as a Just Friends frienddate, and now both must figure out the true nature of their relationship before the night is over. The work also takes place in a Highschool AU universe where all the characters are in marching band together.
  • White Sheep (RWBY): The dance from canon shows up, in one of the longest storylines in the fic. Mercury has to help Velvet try to ask Jaune out with little success while also balancing a mission from Cinder, Yang keeps trying to get Ruby to ask Jaune out despite her own feelings for Jaune, Pyrrha wants to ask Jaune but doesn't want to interfere with Yang and Ruby, Nora wants Ren to ask her to the dance, and Jaune's sister Lavender wants to meet Ren at the dance. In the end, Mercury and Velvet hook up, Blake goes with Ren as friends (though Nora doesn't realize that), Pyrrha goes with Ruby as friends, Jaune officially starts dating Yang, and Lavender is so late that she misses the entire dance, causing her to freak out and kidnap Ren. Ironically, while in canon Weiss was at the center of most of the dance drama, here she is happy that she missed nearly all of it.

    Films — Animation 
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, the importance of the Fall Formal is different from typical applications of this trope. Twilight Sparkle's Cool Crown is mistaken for a prop crown intended for the princess of the dance, and to get it back, Twilight ends up having to compete with Sunset Shimmer, who intends to use the crown's magical properties to invade Equestria. In the end, Twilight wins the title, but Sunset steals the crown from her anyway. Although it empowers her, Twilight uses The Power of Friendship to take it back.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Mercilessly parodied in Not Another Teen Movie, where the entire cast has a musical number all singing about the coincidence of everyone's respective plotlines all leading up to the big dance.
  • The Enchantment Under the Sea Dance from Back to the Future, or the "rhythmic ceremonial ritual" as Doc calls it. The lack of inappropriate dress and dance is pretty well justified, seeing how the dance takes place in 1955. On the other hand, Lorraine does clandestinely smoke and drink in one scene. (Again, it's 1955.)
  • Appears in 10 Things I Hate About You as the climactic end point. Secrets are revealed, tempers flare, and someone gets punched in the face. Good times.
  • Subverted in, of all places, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, where there is a graduation dance and at least one of the big song and dance numbers relates to picking out the perfect costumes and how much it sucks/is great, only to completely skip actually showing the school dance when Troy decides to visit his love interest halfway across country. Of course this being High School Musical there's still tons of dancing happening all over the place.
  • The plot of Mean Girls is wrapped up at the Spring Fling dance.
  • Footloose ends with the school prom moved outside the city limits so the "no dancing law" becomes irrelevant.
  • In Carrie, the Prom is the event in the movie. Carrie is revealed to have been Beautiful All Along and gets crowned prom queen alongside her date Tommy Ross, the prom king, and they share a dance together. The gym teacher Miss Collins also discusses with Carrie her own embarrassing prom night when she was younger, specifically how her boyfriend's truck broke down and they had to walk the last half-mile to the prom (her in high heels), by which point her feet were too tired and covered in blisters for her to dance. Then Chris goes and ruins it, followed by Carrie retaliating.
  • In Jawbreaker, this is where the Humiliation Conga against the Alpha Bitch occurs.
  • Grease has all the expected cliches, including a scheming Alpha Bitch, cheesy decor, and a hoodlum who spikes the punch. Quite unusually (for 1950s or any era), the dance is broadcast live on television, with Vince Fontaine and Johnny Casino & The Gamblers (the Kayfabe identities of Sha Na Na) on hand to entertain. Also unusually for The '50s, there is some decidedly "dirty dancing" on the floor — and it's implied to be commonplace, because the principal even warns the students not to do any vulgar dances before the show begins (and, of course, everyone ignores her).
  • In The Rose Tattoo, Rosa meets Jack at her high school dance and, misinterpreting her mother's advice, dances too closely with him. (This is only mentioned in the play, but shown in the film.)
  • In American Graffiti, Laurie and Steve turn up at their high school's end-of-the-year dance and are compelled to do a "spotlight" dance with each other, though they are on the verge of breaking up.
  • Homecoming in The Duff. Very little importance is actually placed on it beyond Bianca having to write an article for the school paper about what it means to her. Although it's where the film's climax takes place, including Bianca finally getting Wes.
  • Sing Street gets two, one a lengthy Imagine Spot and the other the "real" thing.
  • Bye Bye Birdie. If you can't kiss Conrad, a dance for it might as well be worth it.
  • Prom Night (1980) features one, with disco fashion and all.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming takes its name from Peter's high school homecoming dance. Peter being Peter, he has to bail on it to go fight the Vulture, who he's just learned is his date's dad.
    Spider-Man: Just a typical homecoming...on the outside of an invisible plane...fighting my girlfriend's dad!
  • High School High , a parody of high school movies, has a school dance where a young boy screws up his courage to ask a shy young girl to dance. She bashfully agrees-and they both break into an extremely raunchy hip-hop routine.
  • Loving Annabelle: The school stages one. It's this event that draws together Annabelle and Ms. Bradley at last.
  • In Like Normal People, Roger counts money at a middle school dance, where he chats with an eleven-year-old girl named Amy. This has far-reaching consequences. Roger thinks that Amy is his girlfriend and writes her a Valentine's Day card. As a result, he is falsely accused of writing her an obscene letter and harshly interrogated by the police, traumatizing him so badly that he won't leave the house, leading his parents to institutionalize him.
  • Prom, naturally.
  • In The Idolmaker, Tommy Dee's first show is at a middle school dance, where he follows a routine Vinny taught him in order to seem nonthreatening. The girls love it. Their boyfriends are less pleased.
  • Target For Rage: Some of the early scenes show Samantha and lots of other kids decorating the gym for the upcoming Homecoming Dance. Samantha and her best friend get into a debate about it would be more embarrassing for Samantha (who just got dumped) to have her brother as her date or to give her ex-boyfriend and his new date the satisfaction of seeing her show up alone. The dance is called off due to a school shooter and hostage taker.

  • The Winter Formal in Beautiful Creatures. Ends up resembling a much tamer version of Stephen King's Carrie, but the mayhem's not actually Lena's doing.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid:
    • In The Last Straw, Greg attends the middle-school dance to meet Holly Hills... only for her to not recognize him anyways.
    • In The Third Wheel, the Valentine's Day dance is a middle-school version of this, where The Climax takes place.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, complete with the "fighting a dragon is easier than asking out a girl" summation. Somewhat justified in that, in Harry's case, he literally does have to go. It's part of his responsibilities as a Triwizard Tournament competitor. The ball does occur in the middle of the novel, rather than at the end, so it ends up creating problems rather than wrapping them up.
    • The sixth book also has a ball for Professor Slughorn's favorite students, and again, he's pretty much forcing Harry to go. The girl Harry would like to ask, Ginny, is currently dating someone else (among other problems), and his Unwanted Harem of fangirls are prepared to slip him a Love Potion to get him to ask them instead. He winds up taking Luna, a friend, on what is legitimately Not a Date.
  • Most YA novels geared towards girls have this as a plot. Sweet Valley High appears to be the king of this trope.
  • The first Twilight book alone has two! Admittedly, most of the tropes are Averted: Bella doesn't go to the first one at all, even though three different boys ask her (despite it being a Sadie Hawkins-type dance!), and Bella doesn't want to go to her prom either, but Edward surprises her with it anyway.
  • In Vampire Academy, the Halloween dance of the Academy is featured in the opening novel. The seniors are more interested in their drunken after-parties, while younger students dance in a way allowing them to grind against each other. Mia Rinaldi embarrasses Lissa, who runs away. Rose punches Mia and has to be escorted out.
  • The Titan's Curse begins with Percy, Annabeth, and Thalia attending a school dance at a military school so that they can investigate two demigods attending the school. Because none of them actually attend the school, most of the tropes leading up to it are absent, although Percy does note that the gym is very evenly split between girls and guys. Percy and Annabeth also get a slow dance, and he kicks himself for the rest of the book for not doing something more. And, of course, they're attacked by a manticore and Annabeth is kidnapped. Normal high school stuff.
  • Animorphs has one in #29, where the kids all go as a group, including Ax, who obviously doesn't attend their school; he gets an Andalite sickness and they're discovered by a good Controller, which kick off the main plot.
    • #33 opens with another one, and Tobias notes that while they're all there again, this one feels much more like a date between him and Rachel, which is pretty nerve-wracking when he's still out of practice even being human. He also suspects that Rachel is hoping to detain him past the two-hour limit to get him stuck in human morph.
    It's funny. We've been on so many missions together. Battled Hork-Bajir-Controllers side by side. Saved each other's lives time and again. And still, after all that, it's something as simple as dancing that makes my heart pound.
  • Skippy Dies: The Halloween Hop is much anticipated by all the Seabrook boys, as it's the only chance students at their One-Gender School get to interact with girls. It's also where Skippy finally meets his crush, and begins his relationship with her. At first it seems like the typical Two Decades Behind dance, with a soundtrack dominated by 70's hits and staid dancing, but it turns out that that was invoked by the chaperones and teachers. Once the dance becomes unsupervised, it becomes wild and filled with grinding to a hip hop soundtrack. Unlike the more traditional staid examples, most of the students sneak in alcohol.
  • Rules: Catherine attends one with Jason at the end, where she overcomes her embarrassment over dancing in front of others.
  • Kasia: Connor originally had zero interest in going to his senior prom since his (ex-)girlfriend had graduated the year before him (he went to her senior prom when he was a junior), but when Kasia (a Fish out of Temporal Water princess he took in near the beginning of the story) learns that prom is a dance after asking him what the word meant, she expresses a desire to go with him. When they do go, Connor learns that the Jerk Jock and his Alpha Bitch girlfriend stuffed the prom royalty ballot in his favor to humiliate him, but after they were impressed by his efforts to get a princess from another time period used to modern life, they have a sudden change of heart about him, which causes his existing friends to start resenting him and his new-found popularity.
  • At the beginning of Haze, Guzzle talks Seb into going to the school dance. Seb regrets it as soon as he arrives. He puts up with the Sensory Overload long enough for one uncomfortable dance with Kristie before he leaves.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: A school dance drives the plot in several episodes. "Wishing Well Dance" sees Miss Brooks' hair clipped throughout the day as a gift for Mr. Boynton (to make a pillow for his pet frog). "Mr. Whipple" features Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton as Queen and King of the last dance to be held in the old gymnasium. The costumed dance in "Oh, Dem Gold Slippers" is shown, where Miss Brooks is dressed in a gown.
  • Austin & Ally: This is where the titular couple got together.
  • Like many Dom Coms, The Brady Bunch has several episodes depicting either "boy asks girl" situations leading to a dance, or the family preparing for some theme dance:
    • "Brace Yourself": One of the earliest "dance" episodes, with Marcia not wanting to go because she's "ugly, ugly, ugly!" and not because she's a hermit-like girl who kissing reminds one of licking an ashtray or some insensitive classmate cruelly told her as much ... but because she just got braces and is convinced that her date, Alan, won't want to take her now to the sixth-grade dance. It's never implicitly said, but Alan indeed backs out, claiming he's going to visit his sick grandmother out of town; whether this is a "yeah, right" moment is left to the viewer, because nobody investigates the claim. Instead, Mike, Greg and Alice each try to set up Marcia with substitute dates, only for the whole thing to be ruined due to a lack of coordination. Eventually, Alan is able to go to the dance after all, after he too gets his own set of braces!
    • Other episodes involving dances — both school and community event types — include "Getting Davy Jones" (Marcia hastily promises that she can get the ex-Monkee to come to their junior high dance); "Jan, the Only Child" (a country hoedown, where the family practices a square dance); "The Subject Was Noses" (where a certain "Ooh, my nose" event results in Marcia's would-be boyfriend cancelling their dance date); and "Never Too Young" (the family plans to go to a Roaring 20's Party and do the Charleston, but only if Bobby hasn't contracted the mumps from 12-year-old babe Millicent).
  • Family Matters:
    • With several episodes themed around high school dances, the most famous was arguably the one that introduced Steve Urkel to the world. The episode "Laura's First Date" aired December 15, 1989, and was similar to the Brady episode "Brace Yourself," in this case Laura unable to get her crush, Mark, to ask her to the dance; when he doesn't ask her and Laura frets about her predicament, the rest of the family pitches in to find Laura a dance date. It is her father, Carl, who makes the call that will forever change his life (and the course of the series): He calls up Urkel's dad to set up the date.
    • In a crossover with sister show Step by Step early in the latter's run titled "The Dance," Urkel helps tomboyish Al Lambert get over the disappointment of her crush not asking her to a school dance. (Of course, it was that boy's complete loss ... by the end of the series, Al had gotten soooooooooo hot that she was never without a prospective date for the big dance!)
  • Step by Step: In addition to "The Dance," one of several dance-related episodes was "Prom Night," where high school senior J.T. is set up with a junior high girl (by one of his buddies as a pretty immature joke, one that would get him arrested and on the sex offender's registry these days); while Dana is dumped by her hunky date when he decides to get back with his ex-girlfriend. The two step-siblings, who are forever insulting each other and at odds in every other way, are left to share a dance ... and in the process gain a gruding respect and appreciation for one another.
  • iCarly: Although the actual dance is never shown, iSpeed Date revolves around the trio finding a date to the Sadie Hawkins/Girls Choice dance. Carly and Freddie end up slow dancing together after their crappy dates leave.
  • The world of Lizzie McGuire had a lot of school dances like this.
    • In "Come Fly With Me", every student comes to the Rat Pack-themed dance with full hair and wardrobe — with no ladies of questionable dress in sight.
    • In "A Gordo Story", the "boy has to ask a girl as his date" theme is used. Gordo asks a girl he likes to go to the school dance with him, but she turns him down because he is too short.
    • It's a plot point in "Just Friends", too, where Lizzie is nervous about asking Ethan to the Sadie Hawkins dance.
  • In Naturally, Sadie, when Sadie was planning the school dance for komodo dragons. The end product was a room festooned in blue-and-white streamers, a refreshments table complete with punch bowl, and dancing so G-rated the teens barely touched hands.
  • Life with Derek makes use of the 'boy has to ask a girl' theme to a tiring extent, resulting in a long-winded "hilarious misunderstanding" about who asked who.
  • All of the Degrassi series have had at least one or two of these per season. There might be drugs or alcohol, but never any sexual subtext. Mostly just relationship drama.
    • And other kinds of drama; the school burned down at one, the police were called to one for a knife incident, a gangbanger shot up the most recent prom. It's been said in the fandom that Degrassi dances are cursed.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: The "Guide to School Dances" refers to these as "school sanctioned events that kids take dates to" whose sheer purpose is to provide the perfect scenario for a "boy asking out a girl."
  • Best Friends Whenever: This is where the Series Finale takes place.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Appears in the third season episode "Homecoming", which featured a competition between the protagonist Action Girl Buffy and the Alpha Bitch Cordelia over who got to be Homecoming Queen. The end result? A tie! — between two completely different girls.
    • And then at the end of said season: "The Prom". In accordance with the show's premise of taking the High School Is Hell trope literally, the plot of the episode involves Buffy getting dumped by her boyfriend right before the prom (he's an immortal vampire who can't have sex without turning evil), having the prom almost crashed by a jerk and his cronies (an evil nerd and his demonic hounds), and then finally being presented with a special award (Class Protector) by her classmates who do love her after all.
    • "Out of Sight, Out of Mind": The May Queen crowning.
    • "Prophecy Girl": Spring Fling.
    • "Inca Mummy Girl": Cultural Exchange Dance.
    • "I Only Have Eyes For You": Sadie Hawkins Day Dance, in which the girls ask the boys out contrary to expected gender roles. This foreshadows the gender-swap that will take place in the episode.
    • Plus the original Buffy movie had the finale at the School Dance.
  • The Freaks and Geeks pilot episode has one of these. Somewhat justified since the episode takes place in 1980 (before popular/controversial forms of dance music like rap took off). It's even lampshaded in the discussion Lindsay and Sam have with their clearly old-fashioned parents, who are pressuring them to go to the homecoming dance even though neither of them really wants to.
  • The Steve Harvey Show has several episodes whose plots center around a homecoming dance, a spring fling, and 2 proms.
  • Gossip Girl has had too many to count.
  • Kyle XY had a high school dance that involved lots of preparation, girls banding together to do each other's makeup, balloons, and, amusingly, Kyle spending the entire night trying to fix problems that kept cropping up before having a genuinely cute moment with his siblings as they all sort out their respective problems. The final dance includes floating.
  • The Love Ball from Skins' third season is this trope gone wild. Naomi And Emily, Thomas And Pandora and even Doug And Harriet all get (back) together by the end of it, although its focus is actually Emily finally standing up to Katie (and shedding her twin skin in the process).
  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager
    • One episode has a bizarre example with a mother/daughter dance that ends with everyone dancing the hora after the guidance counselor makes a speech about the Holocaust and how all the girls need to stop being petty bitches. Seen here at the three and a half minute mark
    • A more typical example is the season four episode "Dancing With The Stars" where the students attend the "Senior Dance", which is essentially prom.
  • There's a very typical example (though it's really a Middle School Dance) in Dårfinkar & dönickar. This is the scene in which crushes and jealousies come to a head, and the events set up the big reveal and the dénouement of the series.
  • Same thing in Eva & Adam, another Swedish kids' TV series. There are several dances, including a school dance at the end where middle-school romantic entanglements are sorted out.
  • My So-Called Life has the "World Happiness Dance" in "Life of Brian". The only two characters who actually dance there are Rickie and Delia. That was a much more realistic example than the others on this list, since at most real High School Dances, there are just as many kids sitting/standing around on the sidelines and talking as there are kids actually dancing.
  • Kamen Rider Fourze had the prom for the graduating class that nearly got ruined by a Zodiarts who was basically a girl who couldn't stand leaving the school.
  • In The George Lopez Show, Carmen has her parents drop her off at her homecoming dance far away from the school building because she is embarrassed by them, and also because the boy who she introduced to them as her boyfriend didn't take her to the dance (because they had a Secret Relationship).
  • House of Anubis- Plays around with this trope a bit as both of the dances have reasons they were watered down and dated. With the prom, that was exactly the way the girls intended it to be- a traditional prom. In season 2's masquerade ball, it is shown that the students setting it up DO want it to be more modern, but as the classic loving principle basically gave the students no choice but to follow his plans, that is the way the dance turned out.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place - Many are talked about, but only one is actually shown in an episode.
  • The Inbetweeners had one at the end of series 1, with Will organising the whole thing. Simon plans to use it as an opportunity to express his feelings for Carli by having Jay stop the music so he can make it as romantic as possible. Of course, he chickens out and Neil takes the heat off him by trying to kiss Ms Timms. It's different from the usual examples in that alcohol is allowed (albeit limited to two drinks per person, though Jay implies that they control the alcohol anyway).
  • On My Name Is Earl, one of these happens at a Prison, because Earl was trying to get a spoiled young inmate to apologize to his parents for a) (accidentally) burning down their house and b) cooking meth in their basement (which is what started the fire in the first place). The inmate in question is one of those Never My Fault types, and only agrees to do a fake apology if Earl will make a prom happen for him because his parents didn't allow him to go. Even after becoming prom king, it still takes Earl literally torching his cell to get him to apologize.
  • Runaways (2017) - In the penultimate episode of season one, the school dance provides a very convenient cover for the team to sneak out and disrupt their parents' operation. The romance angle still applies, however, as the impending danger convinces Gert and Karolina to tell Chase and Nico how they feel.
  • Stranger Things has a Middle School variant with the Snow Ball, a school dance held at Hawkins Middle School in December. Mike asks Eleven to go with him as their first official date in the first season finale. It takes over 353 days—during which Mike believes Eleven is dead—but the two finally get to go to the Snow Ball in the second season finale...only for both to realize that, as 13-year olds (and Eleven having been a human experiment for the first twelve years of her life) neither of them know how to dance. Mike suggests they figure it out together.
  • Freaks and Geeks: The pilot episode ends with the main characters at a Homecoming dance.
  • The Spirit Week Dance in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin has Imogen crowned Spirit Queen, with Karen about to prank her in revenge for leaking the video of her until she gets pushed to her death from the rafters by A.

  • "At the Hop" by Danny And The Juniors released in 1958 with many covers over the years.
  • The Sylvers had a disco song that shares the title of this trope — if you can't figure that out, the song was "High School Dance" (about just that). The song was a Top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1977.
  • The Statler Brothers' 1972 country hit "Do You Remember These," a nostalgic look back at the 1950s, includes a lyric about "the Sadie Hawkins dance" (a common high school-dance type, this being a girl-ask-boy event).
  • Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" is about an experience at a high school dance.
  • "Teenage Dirtbag" by Wheatus:
    Man I feel like mould
    It's prom night and I am lonely
    Lo and behold
    She's walking over to me
  • The video to Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" has nerdy, sneaker-wearing blonde Taylor get an upgrade from Unlucky Childhood Friend status at the High School Dance when her love interest realises what a Jerkass his cheating, cheer captain brunette Taylor is. And just in case he had any last minute doubts they're even dress-coded for his convenience.
  • XTC's "Life Begins at the Hop".
  • This is the setting of Fall Out Boy's "Dance, Dance".
  • The trope is mentioned in the song "You Wreck Me" by Tom Petty.

    Pro Wrestling 

  • A Very Potter Musical, like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, has a Yule Ball. Unlike the book, this version of the Yule Ball is MUCH more like an American high school dance, complete with spiked punch, guys suddenly realizing their feelings for their female friends, and guys getting into fights over said girls. But like the book, the dance occurs in the middle of the play, causing more problems than it solves, and leads straight into Cedric's death and Voldemort's return in the graveyard.
  • The premise of the musical Best Foot Forward is the invitation of a movie actress to one of these.
  • The Finale of Footloose is a high school dance, made especially significant in that Reverend Shaw ordered the Town Council to not enforce the town's No-Dancing rule following his Heel–Face Turn (unlike the movie version, where the dance is simply held out of town). It's actually the second dance that the characters attend in the show, as Act II begins at a dance hall outside Bomont and generally serves the same purpose that a High School Dance would.
  • Act II of Grease begins with one of these. See the accompanying entry in Live Action Movies. However, it should be noted that Sandy doesn't attend the dance in the stage version because she's already on the outs with Danny at the time.
  • Hairspray: The Sophomore Hop gives Tracy the opportunity to show off her moves in front of Corny Collins, since she was turned away from the Corny Collins Show auditions by Velma for being overweight. In the film version, she also captures Link's attention with this dance.
  • "The Ballad of Sara Berry" from 35MM: A Musical Exhibition centers around the titular Alpha Bitch who undergoes Sanity Slippage when it becomes apparent that a classmate named Julie, who had recently lost a leg in a car crash, will be named Prom Queen instead of her. Sara ends up going completely Ax-Crazy and murders six classmates on prom night before Julie puts an end to things by calling the police. When they find Sara, she's decked herself out with the Prom Queen's sash and scepter and is dancing by herself, all while still covered in her victims' blood.

    Visual Novels 
  • One takes place at the end Rising Angels: Hope. The player character is required to attend, being valedictorian, but the player can choose who she takes to the dance, making it the most Romance Game moment in the series.
  • The end of the school year in Magical Diary features a big high school dance and a variation on a Prom Queen (but no King).
  • Monster Prom is, obviously enough, about arranging a date to the prom.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner:
    • In one Strong Bad Email Strong Bad is asked about his senior prom, and Strong Bad talks about the time he crashed the "Entrapment All Up on the Moon Dance".
    • Issue 15 of Teen Girl Squad has the girls getting ready for the "Priggidy Prizom: Thugchantment at the Cloughb".
  • RWBY: Volume 2, episode 7 "Dance Dance Infiltration" features a school dance. Much of the plot revolves around the romantic plans of Jaune, Weiss, Neptune, Pyrrha, Sun, Blake, and Yang. Meanwhile, Cinder uses the distraction to infiltrate the CCT and upload a virus, then sneak into the dance and pretend she was there the entire time. This has huge ramifications later in the series, as not only does the virus allow Cinder to search through all the school records with impunity, but she can manipulate the tournament matchups for her purposes and then takes control of the Atlas robots.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe:
    • The big Halloween dance, complete with costumes, at Whateley Academy. Although the invasion by dozens of Syndicate dropships and the attempted assassinations make it a bit more messy.
    • There's another one a couple of weeks later, in "Dreams and Awakenings," which goes a bit better. We also get to see what a High School Dance might be like at a Superhero School; flyers with sparklers putting on Blue Angels-style performances and three different conga lines: one on the ground, one on the wall, and one in the air. There's also a "stomp stage," a special mosh pit area for the super-dense types who might otherwise cause earthquakes with their dancing.
  • The Descendants had one of these. On the way there, they had to fight cyborg nerds.
  • In Survival of the Fittest, the lead up to and eventual event of the High School Dance in v4 is ultimately what takes up most of the Pre-Game.
  • Looks to feature prominently in School of Thrones. "We are Starks...and Prom Night is Coming."
  • Several events at Absit Omen, such as the yearly Halloween dance and first-and-second-years-only Valentines Dance. They're more common than in the source material due to the game moving slower than real life and dance threads making a fun get-together for students.
  • In Roll to Breathe, the heroes attend the Spring Fling. Surprisingly for a group of superhero teens, no fight breaks out and everything goes great. The dance acts as a nice breather before the climax and a reminder of what the heroes are sacrificing by remaining superheroes.
  • In the Scott The Woz episode "Homecoming", as the name implies, Scott attempts his best to plan and hold his own homecoming dance, to make up for the underwhelming one he attended 7 years ago in high school.

    Western Animation 
  • Kim Possible:
    • The first batch of episodes end at The High School Dance, and featured the long-awaited getting together of protagonists Kim and Ron.
    • Later in the series (after Kim and Ron were well established) there was a complicated episode where the sub-plot was the Alpha Bitch (Bonnie) had rigged the Homecoming vote so she and Ron would be the royalty, which turned into helping her get a boyfriend. The main plot being Señor Senior, Jr. kidnapping a Programmer. Episode turns out that there was no big evil plot and all Señor Senior, Jr. was looking for was a girlfriend, and the episode ends with Bonnie and Jr. dancing at homecoming. Now, this is just plain WEIRD.
  • An episode of The Simpsons involves Lisa being pressured into planning a school dance at the request of some of her classmates. After a brief "oh no, I need a date!" period, she got her courage up, entered the gym — only to be met with boys on one side of the gym and girls on the other. Of course — it's only elementary school, not high school!
  • Family Guy: A running gag in the series involves homely Meg frequently asking a popular jock to a high school dance, only for the boy to come up with some crazy excuse (or in at least one situation, fake his shooting of a 2-year-old brother) so he doesn't have to go with her. One episode — "Barely Legal" — actually saw Meg make it to the prom, bringing a dog (literally ... Brian) as her date.
  • The whole premise behind one of the most infamous X-Men: Evolution episode, "Shadow Dance". That and Nightcrawler accidentally brings a bunch of monsters from another dimension to crash the dance. Hey, it's X-Men.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man, where, after agonizing over who to bring Peter has to go leave Mary Jane in the lurch to fight Green Goblin. What a twist! Mary Jane, unusually, does make the best of it, getting unexpectedly crowned queen and dancing with anyone that takes her fancy.
  • One episode of Danny Phantom had Danny juggling a popular girl as his date (caused by an elaborate trick from her end to break up Danny and Sam with assumptions that they are a couple) and battling a dragon ghost who happens to be the same popular chick via a magical amulet. It's complicated. In the end, he loses her and winds him sharing a platonic dance with Sam. Considering the line "Please promise me you'll keep your pants on" uttered by Sam, is it really platonic?
  • An episode of The Weekenders focused on the group preparing for a school dance (Middle School, but the trope still applies) and their attempts to overcome "Lateral Gravity Syndrome", which invariably pulls boys and girls towards opposite walls for the duration of the dance.
  • No less than three times in Code Lyoko, each with their own set of dating dramas. Notably, this is especially ridiculous when you consider this kind of high school dance is ever rarer in France (where the series takes place) than it is in USA.
    • The "prom" of "Teddygozilla" — Milly is humiliated by Sissi after being rejected by Ulrich, who is going with Yumi; he makes this right after the Return to the Past, and Yumi goes with Odd.
    • The "techno party" of "Final Mix" — Aelita is upset that Jérémie refuses to attend; Yumi and Sissi fight for Ulrich's attention.
    • The "End of Year Dance" in "The Key" — Sissi asks Ulrich, Ulrich accepts to make Yumi (who he thinks is going with William) jealous, Yumi turns down William at the same moment; Odd can't get a date because of his reputation as a KidAnova... and then none of them actually end up going anyway.
  • A Teen Titans episode features one of these, wherein Killer Moth's daughter, Kitten, threatens Jump City with her dad's swarm of giant steel eating moths if Robin doesn't take her to the dance. Note that Robin has never even met this girl, nor does he go to her school; she just wants a famous superhero for a date. Robin's actual Love Interest, Starfire comes along to investigate and cleans up nicely.
  • The series finale of Clone High was a giant two part episode that lampshaded every prom-related trope there is. Word of God said that had the series gone on, it would have revealed that there are dozens of different dances and proms throughout the year, and that the finale just took place during 'winter prom'.
  • In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode 'May I Have This Ed,' the Eds go to a school dance. Edd is terrified of going, but Eddy assures him his brother's book on picking up chicks will help! It does, sort of. The end result? Edd gets to dance with Nazz, and the Kankers' hijinks end up destroying the gym used for the dance.
  • Daria used the school dance as the "uncool" component in a Party Scheduling Gambit.
  • The Venture Brothers wrapped up their season with one, though it played with it alot:The Prom was homeschool so the only guests were The Boys themeslves, Hank's friend Dermott, Triana as Dean's date(though just as friends) with the rest being Dr. Venture's friends and paid escorts. The only small bit of teen drama is Dean being jealous of Triana's boyfriend and getting tipsy on punch, causing her to leave. The three boys head out after her and go with Dermott's crazy plan to burn her name on giant straw letters in the lawn while Dean dresses up as a ghost and ends up getting mistaken for a KKK member.
  • Played painfully straight not once but TWICE on Doug. First with the school dance in Doug Can't Dance and then the square dance in Doug's A Big Fat Liar.
  • Sym-Bionic Titan: Ilana decides to set up Sherman High's dance in to resemble her home planet's festival in "Under the Three Moons." She, Lance and Newton pair up with Jason, Maribel and Kimmy respectively, buy dress, clothes, etc. Unfortunately, the three of them have to bail out on their dates to fight a Mutraddi. Kimmy becomes incredibly upset with Newton and breaks up with him.
  • Parodied on Adventure Time, when Lumpy Space Princess freaks out that she almost forgot about her school's "weekly prom-coming" in "Trouble in Lumpy Space".
  • King of the Hill has a few. "Love Hurts and So Does Art" has Bobby developing gout, which proves a convenient excuse for having cold feet in asking Connie to the junior prom. He ends up going anyway. "Kidney Boy and Hamster Girl" shows them invited to a high school prom after posing as teenagers. "Luanne Gets Lucky" has Luanne attending a high school prom with an awkward teenager, mostly to spite Lucky (who prefers stumping with friends to taking her on a date). Lucky's friends try to crash the prom, but are foiled by Lucky himself, who shares a dance with Luanne.
  • Bob's Burgers: In the episode "Two For Tina", Tina ends up getting attention from two boys she asks to the dance. Meanwhile, her mom Linda volunteers herself and Bob to be dance chaperones when she learns her husband has never been to a school dance.
  • KaBlam!: In the Life With Loopy short "Larry's Girl", Larry's feeling a little depressed over not having a date to the junior high dance, so Loopy turns to Cupid, who runs a computer-based love matching service, to fix her brother up with a blind date. Things seem to go well with Larry and his date, Saffron, until he finds out that she hates his favorite TV program, The Charlie Chicken Show. Loopy grabs Cupid's bow and arrow to try and find Larry a date "the old fashioned way", only she doesn't aim for a specific person and lands on a random girl in the crowd. Fortunately, it works- because the girl, Stacy, notices that Larry is as just a big a fan of the show as she is.
  • Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters: Episodes 6 and 7 in season 1 have B-plots where Nathan and Jake attempt to ask Erika and Riya, respectively, out to the dance, which occurs in episode 9. Erika goes with someone else, but her date is so self-centered she ends up hanging out with Nathan anyways; meanwhile, Jake is forced to miss out on the dance due to having to deal with hero stuff, leading a frustrated Riya to hang out with Ricardo instead.
  • 101 Dalmatians: The Series: A barnyard equivalent occurs in "Love 'Em And Flea 'Em", in which Lucky asks his sister Two-Tone to the dance.


Video Example(s):


Fall Out Boy - "Dance, Dance"

Fall Out Boy's music video for "Dance, Dance" shows the band performing the song at a homecoming dance while the members simultaneously acts as stereotypical nerdy attendants at the event.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / HighSchoolDance

Media sources: