In fiction, prom is a special part of the high school experience. A magical night, that people will remember for years to come. At least for most people. Typically, there will be some characters who hate the prom for whatever reason. Usually they are social outcasts. Sometimes, they will try to take their hatred of prom a step further and ruin it for everybody.
Often times this will involve an homage to Carrie, with the Prom Queen and King getting something nasty dropped on them. Related to RevengeSVP and Fun-Hating Villain, if the prom-wrecker is angry about not having a date or wants to prevent others from enjoying themselves. Can overlap with Ballroom Blitz. In extreme cases, this will overlap with Axes at School. Compare with Wedding Smashers. Nominated As A Prank will be a common tactic.
Note: Someone should be deliberately trying to sabotage the prom. If the prom is ruined because Alice accidentally pulled a fire alarm or Bob forgot to book a DJ, it doesn't count. This can also apply to school dances other than the prom.
- F the Prom is about a group of Cool losers who want to ruin prom for the popular kids. Among the pranks played at the prom, they get various cliques to start fighting amongst themselves, project an embarrassing picture of a popular kid for everyone to see, and tar and feather the Prom King and Queen. One of the few examples of this trope that's presented sympathetically.
- The Prom Night series of horror films, naturally, revolves around this.
- Prom Night (1980) was a Slasher Movie in which a masked killer hacks up teenagers at the senior prom. The climax has somebody's severed head get tossed out onto the stage.
- Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II, unrelated to the first film beyond the title, opens with a boy named Billy catching his prom date Mary Lou making out with another boy, causing him to hit her with a stink bomb when she is named prom queen. Unfortunately, the bomb accidentally ignites her dress, immolating her in front of the entire senior class. The film then cuts to the present, where Mary Lou's ghost possesses a girl named Vicky to get revenge on the people who killed her, and proceeds to do this herself.
- Prom Night III: The Last Kiss, which is a direct sequel to the above, has a heroic version of this. During the climax, the ghost of Mary Lou drags Alex to Hell, and Alex's girlfriend Sarah goes down to rescue him, culminating in a twisted prom where Mary Lou plans to make Alex her Prom King for all eternity.
- Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil opens with a Sinister Minister who hacks up "sinners" at the senior prom.
- And finally, Prom Night (2008), the remake of the first film, is about a teacher who is murderously obsessed with one of his students, and targets her and her friends at the prom.
- Radio Rebel: As a punishment for Tara-as-Radio-Rebel's antics, Principal Fisher decides to outright cancel the prom as long as Radio Rebel stays anonymous. Everyone takes their anger out on Radio Rebel, blaming her for their Principal's choice, thinking their long-awaited night would be ruined. This is ultimately subverted, however, as a "Morp" is instead thrown at the radio station for all the students, and there's even a happy ending for Alpha Bitch Stacie when Tara decides to make her the Morp Queen.
- The original ending of Saved! had the Alpha Bitch Hilary Faye snapping and bringing a gun to the prom after being expelled. The actual film has a group of gay kids who had been sent to ex-gay therapy (led by Dean, the boy who got Mary pregnant when she tried to "cure" his homosexuality by having sex with him) breaking out and arriving at the prom, while Hilary crashes her van into the Jesus statue in front of the school.
- Stephen King's Carrie, as noted above, is the likely Trope Codifier, with many works paying homage to it. Chris, the Alpha Bitch of her school, and her Girl Posse want to get revenge on Carrie after getting detention for picking on her. To do so, they, with help from Chris' Greaser Delinquent boyfriend Billy and his friends, rig the vote for prom queen so that Carrie wins, and when she goes on stage to accept the crown, they dump a bucket of pig's blood on her that they had rigged up in the rafters. Unfortunately, the bullies don't realize that Carrie has telekinetic powers, which she promptly uses to turn the tables and wreck them right back.
- Todd Strasser's Give a Boy a Gun is about a pair of school shooters, Brendan and Gary, who attack their High-School Dance, and the incidents leading up to it. They don't actually kill anybody, and likely never intended to in the first place, but they do cripple a Jerk Jock football player and scare the rest of their classmates by Firing in the Air a Lot.
- 8 Simple Rules: Subverted. CJ thinks Rory is going to do this at the school's Halloween dance by blowing up a giant pumpkin decoration. Since he's the head of security for the dance, CJ goes to stop him. However, the actual prank is to have Rory's friends dress as members of The Village People, surround CJ (who is dressed like a police officer), and start dancing to "Macho Man". This is meant to evoke a similar event that happened when CJ was a kid.
- In a season one episode of 21 Jump Street, called 'The Worst Night of Your Life', this becomes the school of the week's prom theme, after Judy Hoffs talks about the idealized image of prom that everyone is fed, in contrast to it usually being 'The worst night of your life!'. Which implies that this happened to Judy in her original stint in high school. In-episode, an outcast student succeeds in setting the prom decorations on fire in the middle of the dance.
- Happens in Awkward. Heartbroken after a breakup, Tamara attempts to convince her classmates to not only skip prom, but to revolt against it, up to and including publicly denouncing the very concept of prom over megaphone. However, when Jenna decides to ask her, Tamara breaks character, revealing she really did want to go to prom.
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tucker Wells tries to unleash hellhounds, specially trained to attack people in formal wear, on the Sunnydale High prom. Buffy learns of the plot and stops it without anyone at the prom ever realizing they nearly came under attack.
- Community: When the Dean announces that Greendale would be putting on a Sadie Hawkins Dance, Britta complains that the dance encourages outdated gender roles. As such, she starts a protest dance to honor Sophie B. Hawkins (she meant Susan B. Anthony) to counter the Sadie Hawkins Dance.
- One episode of Deadly Class sees the non-legacy students at Kings Dominion plotting to sabotage the annual Legacy Ball.
- In season 2 of Derry Girls, a prom is organized at Our Lady Immaculate College by Jenny Joyce. A rumor spreads that Jenny has rigged the vote so she will become Prom Queen. A new student from Donegal promises to take her down a peg. She does this by dumping tomato sauce on Jenny when she becomes Prom Queen. The protagonists try to stop this, but only manage to get covered in tomato sauce for their trouble. To make matters worse, one of the girls had paid for her dress with her mother's credit card and needed to return it in perfect condition so her mom wouldn't notice the charge.
- Happens twice in Glee:
- Season Two dealt largely with Kurt being bullied for being gay. At one point, it seems like the bullying has stopped and the student body is starting to tolerate his sexuality. This changes on prom night, when Kurt gets voted Prom Queen. To make matters worse the Prom King is Karosky, Kurt's bully and Stalker with a Crush.
- In Season Five, Tina is voted Prom Queen. Bree does not like that another Glee kid became Prom Queen, so she drops red goo all over Tina when she wins.
- In I Am Not Okay With This, the Jerk Jock Hate Sink Brad tries to ruin Syd's homecoming by stealing her diary and reading from it in front of the entire class, revealing that she has romantic feelings for Dina and that she is on bad terms with many people in her life. When he gets to the part where he's ready to call Syd crazy for thinking she has Psychic Powers, Syd freaks out and demonstrates that her powers are, in fact, real — and does so on his cranium.
- Scream: In the season 1 finale, the students are at a Halloween Dance, and everyone feels safe under the assumption the killer was caught. Things quickly go south when the entire dance is shown live footage of Officer Clark tied to a tree and clearly injured, panicking everyone at the dance and ruining things even more for Emma and her friends, who finally felt they could relax. The killer being a major troll, this was clearly an intentional way to ruin everyone's fun at the dance and keep their game going.
- One Smallville Villain of the Week was an Alpha Bitch who was obsessed with being prom queen. She's put in a coma after a car accident, but she gains the power to possess other people. She uses this power to try to live out her prom fantasy, eventually possessing the prom queen. However, she realizes that the student body hates her and decides to burn down the school while the prom is still going on for revenge. Clark manages to stop her by tricking her into possessing his body and then exposing himself to kryptonite.
- In an episode of Victorious (called "Prom Wrecker"), Tori finds out that there is no prom at Hollywood Arts school. She gets permission from the school to organize one. The problem is her prom is scheduled at the same time as Jade's one woman show, causing the play to get cancelled. Jade takes her revenge on Tori by trying to sabotage her prom, so she would know how it felt to have something she worked hard on to be ruined. She rigs the projector to show disturbing images to the prom goers and hires a man who dresses up in a diaper and dances for entertainment. In the end, Tori manages to get rid of Jade, and the prom can continue. Interestingly enough, it is mentioned that Jade has some blood on standby.
- In Strong Bad Email, Strong Bad attempts to humiliate everyone at the local prom with a device that will make everyone's pants disappear. However, it turns out that he's the only one who actually wears pants, so he's the only one humiliated.
- In an episode of Family Guy, it looks like Chris is going to be on the receiving end of this after being voted Homecoming King, despite being extremely unpopular. Subverted when it's revealed that the student body voted for him because they thought he was mentally handicapped and thought it was a nice gesture.