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Picture Day

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"I can't believe they scheduled school pictures for the same day as tape-a-dead-thing-to-your-face day."
Cheerleader, Teen Girl Squad

Oh no! Picture day is coming and, unfortunately for you, you're in a sitcom. You'll probably have to duck through a Food Fight to stay clean, or go to drastic measures to fix the unholy mess your hair has become, or find a way to change out of the lame outfit your mom made you wear. Either that or you are simply faced with the pimple OF DOOM. You might even get a Last-Second Photo Failure during the shooting.

Either way, you are screwed.

Many shows about kids or set in school will eventually have an episode based around the typical school picture day, usually involving a character's best efforts to not have an embarrassing photo of themself taken for publication, because not only will the photographer never take more than one photo, but the Yearbook editor is always your nemesis who will make sure that their picture will be as humiliatingly noticeable in the book as possible.

May result in a character being Forced into Their Sunday Best.

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    Comic Strips 
  • Big Nate dreads the designated school photographer, who tells jokes and takes unflattering pictures when the kids react.
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin has Hobbes use Crisco in his hair to give him big hair spikes "like... like... Astro Boy."
    • Calvin originally used the Crisco to slick his hair into a curlicue. His mother freaked out and combed it down so it looked neat. While waiting for the bus, Calvin lamented to Hobbes how it looked, so Hobbes put the spikes in his hair.
  • Crabgrass: In this comic, it is picture day at Kevin and Miles' school, but while Miles is wearing a nice suit for the occasion, Kevin is just wearing his regular outfit, and even tells Miles some kids can't afford brand new clothes just for picture day. Miles tries to offer Kevin his suit, but Kevin is not in the mood.
  • The subject of several FoxTrot strips. One of the best has Peter ending up with a faceful of mud while retrieving his trademark baseball cap.
  • In Europe, we have no yearbooks: class pictures are collective. You can still play with that single picture as in Le Petit Spirou (Little Spirou), the Spinoff Babies of Spirou & Fantasio. The day the photographer came, he found the class costumed in ridiculous fancy-dresses. On purpose.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In addition to its title, Picture Day invokes the trope directly: Henry gets his yearbook picture taken the day after his friend (and former babysitter) Claire dyes his hair blue as part of an edgy makeover.

  • Captain Underpants had this in the "Wedgie Woman" book, where George and Harold get ahold of next week's school memo and retypes the entire week into something hilarious. One of which was the school picture day, where everyone was told to wear bee costumes and the silliest face pulled would win their class a pizza party. One of the photos has a student standing upside-down.
  • The picture book Crazy Hair Day by Barney Saltzberg is about a boy named Stanley who styles his hair blue and orange and spikes it up because he thinks it's crazy hair day, only to arrive and find out that it's picture day and crazy hair day his next Friday. He tries to hide in the bathroom for the rest of the day and avoid picture day, but eventually is talked out of it by a fellow student named Larry, who had initially teased him, but has ended up embracing the role his teacher suggested of being a peacemaker. He finds that in a gesture of friendship, all of his friends have donned crazy hairstyles as well for the class picture.
  • Junie B. Jones had picture day at her school once. She refuses to smile for the photographer and causes various kinds of trouble.
  • One of the things found in the office of Dr. Cruces, head of the Assassins' Guild, in Men at Arms is iconographs of graduated classes, with the notation that someone was making a funny face and "there's always one."
  • In one Reuhurinteen ala-aste story, Tihru loses a tooth on picture day, and her friends make her a fake tooth out of chewing gum.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Brady Bunch: The classic sitcom had a couple, although not necessarily focused on school picture day per se:
    • "The Not-So-Rosed-Colored Glasses" was centered on a family portrait of the kids (as an anniversary gift for their parents Mike and Carol), an absent-minded photographer, a near-sighted Jan crashing into and ruining the photograph with her bicycle, the absent-minded photographer losing the negative and forcing a retake of the photo, Jan wearing her glasses for the new picture (she had not gotten the glasses when the original was snapped) and Mike immediately noticing the difference.
    • "Law and Disorder", where Bobby wears his good suit for a school yearbook photo of Clinton Avenue Elementary School's safety monitors. (The photo-taking session is not an integral part of the script. Bobby's decision to trespass into a condemned house to retrieve a classmate's kitty while wearing the suit, getting the suit dirty and then trying to wash the suit himself to conceal his actions were.)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: all regular characters are shown striking characteristic poses for the photographer... except for the heroine herself, who is busy Slaying and ends up left out of the yearbook altogether.
    • Cordelia was supposed to tell her it was picture day but didn't, which lead to Buffy competing against her for the Homecoming Queen crown.
  • Clarissa Explains It All had an episode like this where Clarissa wanted to wear her trademark cool clothes instead of the conservative navy cardigan, pleated skirt and knee socks all the girls were required to wear.
  • CBS Schoolbreak Special: The 1984 episode "The Alfred G. Graebner Memorial High School of Rules and Regulations" includes a sequence of students having their school pictures taken. Mostly, these are comical reactions to the students' willingness to have their pictures taken.
  • Degrassi Junior High: The B Plot of "The Cover-Up" deals with the students preperations for picture day, such as Stephanie deciding whether to wear her regular clothes or the sexy clothes she changes into at school.
  • On Even Stevens, Ren was excited to get her braces off on picture day. Unfortunately, some dental medication caused her cheeks to swell up enormously.
  • This happens to Chris on Everybody Hates Chris when some expensive clothes he planned on wearing for school picture day are stolen from his locker during gym by bullies.
  • Full House:
    • The episode "Mr. Egghead" sees Stephanie end up with a broken nose shortly before Picture Day (due to a botched prop during Joey's tryout for a local kids show).
    • D.J.'s problem in "You Pet It, You Bought It" comes with her being allergic to a Donkey Michelle brings home that stays in the night a day before her own Picture Day. Come the next morning, she has a stuffy nose and blood-shot eyes due to said allergic reaction.
    D.J.: (upon realizing she's allergic to Michelle's donkey) Well, get him out! I'm breathing donkey dander!
  • Freaks and Geeks: The opening credits, although the effect comes from the characters' facial expressions rather than their actual appearance.
  • Game On (2015): In "Picture Day", Toby wears nothing but underwear to school on picture day.
  • The Hank Zipzer episode "Camera Calamity". Every year Hank's school photo matches his school report perfectly - they're both terrible. But this year Hank's making sure his photo is picture perfect - until McKelty ruins it with a fountain of fizzy drink. Can Hank get clean and tidy and back in front of the camera before the photographer leaves?
  • Leave It to Beaver: An episode, aptly titled "The School Picture", was based around Picture Day, and 10-year-old Beaver and his buddy, Gilbert, conspiring to make funny faces as the photographer snaps the photo. When it comes time to actually take the picture, Gilbert has second thoughts and wisely decides not to pull the immature trick. Beaver follows through, and the resulting proof is one that makes Mrs. Rayburn — and Ward, when he sees it — very angry. Ward sternly tells Beaver that such a picture reflects badly on the whole school, not just him, and shows disrespect. Fortunately, the photography studio comes to the rescue, as the photographer has stock clip art on hand, placing a hair ribbon on the head of a little girl that was standing in front of Beaver. (Remember, this episode was produced in an era more than 30 years before digital photography became commonplace, and camera film was a rather expensive commodity in the early 1960s, precluding the photographer from taking another photo).
  • Lizzie McGuire also had an episode based around Picture Day. Lizzie wanted to find a way out of being forced to wear the hideous green unicorn sweater her grandmother gave her for Christmas, and Kate had a classmate throw paint at Miranda because she didn't want her to be photographed wearing the same trendy outfit she was. Lizzie Took The Bullet, metaphorically speaking, and ended up posing in the paint-splattered blouse she had borrowed while holding up the sweater. Her parents reluctantly admitted that she did have the sweater in the photo, and at least they'll be able to save money on buying prints this year.
  • Malcolm in the Middle did this in "Malcolm's Money" with Malcolm battling a yearbook photographer to get a good photo.
  • An episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide dealt with Picture Day, Cookie's attempts to have a decent pic for once, and Moze attempting not to be photographed. Among other items, Ned points out that it's unnecessary to dress up from the waist down.
  • Odd Squad: In "Picture Day", Olive and Otto have to solve there current case and get back to HQ in time to get their new ID photos taken. Otto is especially keen to do so as last year's photo was terrible.
  • Raising Dad had an episode set on Picture Day but instead of being the main setting, it led into a plot about Sarah being uncomfortable about her appearance and considering getting a nose job.
  • On Sister, Sister, Tamera suffered an allergic reaction to a new moisturizer and asked Tia to stand in for her. "Tamera" was voted Class Beauty, while "Tia's" picture was a close-up view of her forehead as she bent to tie her shoe.
  • The second episode of Teachers (2016) is called "Picture Day." Some of the things that go wrong include Ms. Snap's self tanner setting horribly, Ms. Feldman losing her eyebrows, the photographer harassing Ms. Cannon, and the school mascot dying.
  • Teen Wolf: In season 4, Mason explains that Hayden hates Liam because he accidentally decked Liam on Picture Day while she was trying to break up a fight. He shows a picture of Hayden with two black eyes, then brings up another one showing Liam, who received some bruises of his own after Hayden retaliated.
  • In That 70s Show, the picture day episode showed the gang's history. And Eric got a zit.
  • Unfabulous also had an episode based on Picture Day, where the main character messed up her hair while trying to dye it.
  • Young Sheldon: In "Freshman Orientation and the Inventor of the Zipper", Sheldon is late for taking his college ID picture, and on the way runs into a student with a Slurpee, which gets all over his shirt. When he finally gets to have his picture taking, he gets stung by a bee, apparently attracted by the Slurpee. The resulting picture shows Sheldon with his left eye swollen shut.

  • Our Miss Brooks: In the episode "Friday the 13th", a tasteless prank by Walter Denton, and dumb jock Stretch Snodgrass's bungling, result in yearbook proofs being printed with Miss Brooks' head atop Mr. Conklin's body.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Jeff Dunham took advantage of this to have a professional photo taken of him with one of his earliest dummies. He then kept doing this into his college years.

    Video Games 
  • Goodbye Volcano High features picture day in Chapter 2. On top of the plot of finding and bringing Reed to get his picture taken to ensure the yearbook photos are complete, the player can also pose Fang for a photo with a variety of hand gestures and facial expressions.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner has a particularly odd example: in the 14th "Teen Girl Squad", we learn the yearbook picture was scheduled for the same day as "Tape-a-dead-thing-to-your-face day".
    • But oddly enough (and it even says this in the wiki), the other pictures don't have a dead thing taped to their faces.

  • In El Goonish Shive, Sarah was stuck as a catgirl during picture week. This was never seen, merely referred to as the Noodle Incident, and only much later explained.
  • This strip of Loserz.
  • In Ozy and Millie, Millie tried to dye her hair band because she didn't like the color for Picture Day, and ended dyeing her entire face black (which, Millie being Millie, she thought was COOL).

    Western Animation 
  • Done on Arthur in the episode "Francine's Bad Hair Day", based around Muffy's attempts to keep Francine neat and tidy for Picture Day. However, it seems Francine is unable to resist playing kickball. A montage at the beginning also shows other students' embarrassing Picture Days: Buster being photographed mid-burp, Binky being caught mid-sneeze, and Prunella with her hair standing on end due to a shock from the metal chair.
  • As Told by Ginger has Ginger and her friends wanting to look more mature for their school photos, but their parents won't let them wear makeup. They try to get around this by blending berries and spices together to create "fakeup" and apply it in the school bathrooms just before picture time. The results are... not pretty.
  • Bob's Burgers: Every year without fail, Tina gets sick with the flu on Picture Day. The closest she’s ever gotten to a picture is her throwing up right before it was her turn. This makes her insecure about not leaving a mark on Wagstaff.
  • In Braceface, the heroine's braces broke the camera.
  • Code Lyoko has one in episode "Missing Link", complete with Sissi pretending to be Yumi so that the latter isn't absent on the photo.
  • Dexter's Laboratory had a humorous variant where Dexter gave himself a waxen "handsome" face to look good. He grew so vain with the lighting in his picture that the face melted off under the heat of the lamps.
    Dexter's Mom: Dexter! You closed your eyes!
  • Doug: In one episode, Doug was afraid to get his picture taken, thanks to an outburst from Skeeter's kid brother making him self-conscious about his nose.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy, "Smile for the Ed": Eddy tries to get a good school picture, so his mom will let him move into his big brother's old bedroom. Unfortunately, an ill-timed (or rather "perfectly timed since it was done on purpose") cry of "Dork!" from Kevin puts a crimp in his plans. Furthermore, by the next day, the school is literally flooded by copies of Eddy's photo.
  • The Fancy Nancy episode "Nancy's Looth Tooth" has Nancy lose one of her baby teeth, specifically her front tooth, the day before picture day at ballet class. She then tries to hide the fact that her tooth is gone. The ending also shows Grace doing the same since she lost her tooth, and Bree loses hers as well.
  • The Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "The Big Picture" centers on Foster's getting ready to take their annual house photo.
  • In Gravity Falls, a flashback in "Weirdmaggedon: Part 2" shows a seven year old Mabel getting a piece of gum in her hair on picture day thanks to a mean girl, causing her to dissolve into tears. Dipper cheers her up by finding a razor and convincing her to just shave a chunk of it right off - using his own hair to demonstrate. In the end, Mabel is comforted by the fact that they get to have a horrible school picture together.
  • The Hero Elementary episode "Picture Perfect" is about Sparks Crew getting ready for Picture Day. They have to stay clean, but run into a problem when they have to get Mr. Whithers out of a mud puddle.
  • Jacob Two-Two: In "The Unlickable Cowlick", it's picture day at Jacob's school. Unfortunately for Jacob, he is suffering from a massive bad hair day due to getting hit by the infamous Cowlick, that apparently runs in his family and is known to resist any attempt to style it. This puts him at risk of being cut from the school photo for not looking proper enough; something that is considered a great shame among the students. Eventually, Renée is able to get rid of the cowlick just in time for picture day.
  • Kim Possible has one that naturally involves a Clingy MacGuffin turning Kim into a monkey.
    • Which winds up even worse than it sounds: Ron, knowing Kim is turning into a monkey, guides an actual monkey to the camera. So the picture in the yearbook isn't even Kim-as-a-monkey.
  • The Life and Times of Juniper Lee episode literally called "Picture Day" features the usual problems of the trope (zit on the forehead, etc.) with evil clones of June and her friends and her younger brother dressed as Abe Lincoln for his photo. neither of which was unusual for the Urban Fantasy it takes place in. Ray-Ray apparently has a history of acting up on picture day, like most days.
  • The Milo Murphy's Law episode of the same name. Due to various Murphy's Law related mishaps, Milo has never had a good school picture, and he, Zack, and Melissa set out to change that.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot: In "Hostile Makeover", Jenny breaks out in pimple-like bolts on school picture day, as a side effect of what turns out to be a Cluster device trying to take over her body.
  • The Oh Yeah! Cartoons short "A Kid's Life: Picture Perfect" has Billy Butter determined to ensure that his class picture turns out better than last year, so he trains himself to keep smiling the entire day no matter what happens (even as he is threatened by bullies and is pleaded by a sobbing girl to provide donations for the victims of a recent tragedy). Unfortunately, he finds out after the photo is taken that he had broccoli in his teeth from today's school lunch.
  • An episode of Ozzy & Drix involves the titular characters to kill the acne causing germ in order to prevent the human host Hector from getting an embarrassing school photo with a pimple on his forehead.
  • Seen on PB&J Otter - Peanut and Jelly try to keep their sister Baby Butter from getting Covered in Mud. "We need to find some good clean fun!"
  • The Pet Alien episode "Crater of Doom" revolves around Tommy's efforts to get a good picture for School Picture Day, which becomes difficult when he develops a giant crater on his forehead.
  • Recess has the episode "One Stayed Clean," where Gus tries to remain clean long enough to take his first class picture, only to fail. But his father is proud of him anyway, because he gets dirty protecting T.J.'s cleanliness. The episode becomes a grand send-up to bodyguard films as his friends try valiantly to protect him through the day.
  • It also turned up on The Simpsons a few times.
    • Bart had lice and Milhouse got some disease from being bitten by a monkey...
    • Not to mention Lisa's archaic braces in ''"Last Exit to Springfield". "There is no God!"
  • South Park has Butters getting grounded for putting a stupid face. Initially, you think it's because his Idiot Hair sprung up at the wrong moment. Then you find out that's because his dad thinks Butters' face is stupid by default.
    • It's also the first (?) time we see Kyle's Jewfro.
    • And of course Kenny takes his picture with his butt (instead of his face) peeking out of his parka, starting off a story line about finding Ben Affleck.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In fact, SpongeBob is perpetually failing boating school simply so they can use it for School Tropes.
    • The episode with the same name as this trope involves SpongeBob trying to stay clean, unsuccessfully of course, for his Boating School class photo.
  • In the Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Marco ends up being dragged from the school bus, then crashes into garbage, rips his sweater, and gets a black eye. When he finally staggers up to the school, he is informed it is Picture Day.
  • Stacey Stickler of Stickin' Around has repeated nightmares of the upcoming Picture Day in "Photo Oops". Tired of letting the nightmares take advantage of her, she decides to have some fun with it. Unfortunately for her, she was awake this time.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: In one episode, it's school picture day and Plucky ends up as a giant eyeball with legs after he gets stuck doing an "advanced" Wild Take, the "Clampett Corneal Catastrophe". Fortunately, the flash of the camera causes him to go back to normal.
  • The T.O.T.S. episode "Say Cheese" has Pip and Freddy trying to keep JP's son Lucky clean so as to take a proper picture for picture day.


Video Example(s):


Picture Day Flu

Due to her catching the flu during Picture Day, Tina has a streak of never getting a photo of herself at Picture Day.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

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Main / PictureDay

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