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Obsessed with Perfect Attendance

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SpongeBob: No! Please don't throw me out in the street! I am so sorry for what I did.
Mr. Krabs: What'd you do?
SpongeBob: I was a minute late for work!

A frequent trait of the nerd (and especially the Teacher's Pet) is pride in never missing a single day of school, or even being late to class, as it demonstrates their love for a good education and their disgust at the mere idea of skipping class. Often, they'll receive an award for Perfect Attendance at the end of the year, and take such an accomplishment very seriously, especially if they're not very popular or skilled in other fields, since it's probably the only award they can win.


Commonly overlaps with Working Through the Cold because the character refuses to stay home to get rest, or a character being Terrified of Germs because they don't want to get sick and miss school in the first place. Other plots may have the character be mistakenly marked as late or absent, and fight tooth and nail to prove that they were there on time. They may wake up late or otherwise face obstacles that threaten to make them late for the first time, leading to a race against the clock to get to school on time. Variants can also be done outside of school settings, such as a character who takes pride in always making it to work on time.

This can be Truth in Television for many students, as many schools give out perfect attendance awards at the end of the year, and some teachers penalize students who miss too many classes. However, this practice is often criticized since it encourages students to come to school even when they're unwell, which puts themselves and other students at risk. Encouraging students to have perfect attendance also puts students who have to miss school due to illness, disability, family emergencies, etc. at a disadvantage.


Subtrope of The Perfectionist. Compare The B Grade, another broken record that causes students to freak out, and Honor Before Reason.


Fan Works

  • Soul Eater: Troubled Souls: The first chapter reveals Maka has a perfect attendance record and, while in a haggard morning rush with Soul, is very adamant in keeping it.

Films — Live-Action

  • Kanji Watanabe in Ikiru had never missed a day of work, even coming in when his son was in the hospital getting his appendix taken out; when Watanabe learns he has terminal stomach cancer. However, he regrets having wasted so much time in the office and considers the perfect attendance certificate he was awarded a mark of shame.
  • In Zoolander, Derek Zoolander has never, ever missed a modelling gig, which is how Mugatu manages to bait him into attending the Derelicte opening where he has been programmed to assassinate the Malaysian Prime Minister.

Live-Action TV

  • Drake & Josh: In "The Affair," Josh adamantly refuses to skip school to spy on their dad because Josh has had a perfect attendance record since nursery schoolnote . Drake convinces him to go anyway. Regardless, he still has a perfect attendance award in "Who's Got Game."
  • Even Stevens: The premise of "Influenza: The Musical" is that Ren has caught the flu and is told to stay in bed and rest for the day. Ren, being a perfectionist who is unwilling to give up her perfect attendance, has a fever dream in which she sneaks out of bed and goes to high school anyway.
  • Arvid from Head of the Class shows up for class several days in a row despite being seriously ill as to not mess with his attendance record in the final season. He quickly starts infecting his classmates. They end up taking sick days to the point where Arvid's the only one who shows up.
  • The Middle: In "The Graduate," it's revealed Sue has never missed a day of school, even when she was so sick she had to stop to throw up in her locker between classes. However, the receptionist won't give her the award at the end of the year because she claims Sue missed a day. Sue fights to prove that she was present, and receives the award at the end...though they misname her as Barb Hecky.
  • Cookie in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide has a perfect attendance record he refuses to break, which has provided conflict for several episodes.
    • In "Guide To: Sick Days" he comes to school with a very bad flu and tries to steer clear of the nurse so he won't be sent home.
    • In "Guide To: The Bus," the school bus misses his stop, so he resorts to wild methods in order to get to school on time and not mess up his record of never being tardy.
    • In "Guide To: School Records," Mr. Sweeney mistakenly marks Cookie as absent because Cookie had his headphones on and didn't hear his name called, and had bent down when Sweeney looked for him in the class. Cookie spends the episode begging Mr. Sweeney to change the mark, but Sweeney stubbornly refuses to admit to his mistake. Cookie and his classmates try to fix the mistake by building a fake time machine for Sweeney to "use" and recreating that day in homeroom so Cookie can be marked as present.
  • Shake it Up: Rocky is revealed to have perfect attendance and has gone to some pretty extreme lengths to keep it, including setting three alarms every morning, eat vegetables she despises to keep her immune system up and even missing her great-aunt's funeral. The realization she will lose it if she gets suspended is finally enough to snap her out of a temporary Walk On The Wild Side in response to being classified as a goodie-goodie.

Video Games

  • Raspberyl at the start of Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice has perfect attendance in each of her classes, which considering the Bad is Good and Good is Bad nature of the Disgaea series is one of many reasons she is considered a delinquent student. Mao, meanwhile, inverts this, being considered an honor student for having never attended a single class up until that point.

Western Animation

  • The Cleveland Show: Cleveland Brown Jr. earns a perfect attendance award, much to the chagrin of his father. Even on the one day of the year when all the other students skipped school, he still showed up.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: One episode has Dexter slow down time to 1/60th speed (he turns 30 seconds into 30 minutes) because he woke up late so he could get himself ready and over to school on time. Unfortunately, time having slowed makes it quite difficult for him to ready himself (for instance, the water coming from the shower falls at 1/60th speed, meaning pint-sized Dexter can't reach it in a reasonable time), and he ultimately fails. However, Dexter is then informed by Dee-Dee that school was cancelled due to a snow day, meaning he did all that work for nothing, but also isn't tardy as he feared.
  • The Loud House: In "Absent Minded", after he earned a perfect attendance plaque, Clyde discovers he may not have earned it since he supposedly missed a day of school in 2012 (which he forgot about). Lincoln and Clyde spend the entire episode to try and cover up the supposed fraud, only to learn eventually that the missed day wasn't Clyde's fault; school was canceled that day because of an exploded toilet.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Lesson Zero," Twilight has a mental breakdown because she doesn't have a letter about friendship to send to Celestia, despite promising to send one every single week, and is paranoid that she'll get sent back to magic kindergarten for it. At the end, Celestia assures her that it's okay that she didn't have a letter on time, and she doesn't even need to send a letter every week.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (2016): The mini-short "Run, Blossom, Run" has Blossom oversleeping and trying to make it to school in under two minutes. She makes it to school on time... only to find that it's closed.
    Blossom: It's Saturday, isn't it?
    Bubbles: Sunday, actually.
    Buttercup: You did this yesterday, too. I'm starting to think you have a problem.
  • The Simpsons: "Skinner's Sense of Snow" reveals that Principal Skinner will keep school open under any circumstances, even a waist-high snow day. He proudly calls his attendance streak "Cal Ripken-like" and when the students get snowed in the school, admits he was going to spend his winter break there anyway.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "New Digs," SpongeBob is late to work for the first time (though only by one minute), and gets so distraught over it that he moves into the Krusty Krab so he'll always get to work as quickly as possible.
  • Total DramaRama: Courtney is the only one in the episode "Germ Factory" who doesn't want to get sick and miss school, since she's one day away from making one hundred straight days of daycare attendance and getting a gold star. She does get sick at the end, but drags herself to daycare anyway, begging to be let in.
  • Wayside: In "Imperfect Attendance", Dana reveals that she has attended school one thousand four hundred and forty-seven days in a row and has never missed a day in her life, not even when she was in preschool or "pre-preschool." The episode revolves around her trying to make it to class on time and beat the Wayside Perfect Attendance Record while trying to help out her friends along the way.

Real Life

  • Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) is openly proud of having never missed a single Senate vote. She will make sure she's in attendance even for minor votes with a Foregone Conclusion to keep from sullying her record.