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Putting the "Pal" in Principal

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Gregory: Kids are supposed to be scared to go to the principal's office. You turned it into a Chuck E. Cheese.
Ava: Don't say that. I got beef with every Charles Entertainment Cheese in the greater Philadelphia area.
Abbott Elementary, "The Principal's Office"

In fiction, the school principal is seen as the most likable guy in the school. Could it be that the years of experience and their position of authority and leadership has granted them wisdom and understanding of the plights of adolescents, or is it because he or she doesn't have to actually deal with the little brats directly day-in and day-out, and gets a large, comfortable office with a big window? You decide!

Compare Badass Teacher, Cool Teacher, and Psychologist Teacher as similar, but lower in the system's hierarchy. Contrast with Dean Bitterman and the Evil Principal. Put him together with a Stern Teacher, and you can have a Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough dynamic.

See also Benevolent Boss.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Headmistress Miranda Holbrooke from Little Witch Academia (2017) (next to Professor Ursula) is the most reasonable staff member of Luna Nova, supporting Akko's desire to learn magic without giving her a hard time and dealing out stern but fair punishments whenever they are needed.
  • Shinigami-Sama/Lord Death from Soul Eater is the immortal Grim Reaper and founder of Shibusen (or Death Weapon Meister Academy as it is called in the English dub), having created it to defend the world against witches and corrupt, evil souls. Originally a terrifying figure, Shinigami-sama altered his appearance and personality to be more child-friendly, turning himself into The Wonka. He is respected and beloved by everyone in the organization, his image and name plastered all over Death City and is even looked upon as a symbol of worship to some.
  • Nezu, the principal of My Hero Academia's UA Academy. He's an affable Reasonable Authority Figure who genuinely has the students' growth and well-being as a priority. (He does have a "darker side" that is played for laughs, though.)

    Comic Books 
  • Professor Xavier from the X-Men comics has long been seen as the wisest and most peaceful of the mutants, which makes him well suited to run a school for the betterment of mutant teenagers.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
    • Principal Celestia and Vice-Principal Luna are just as caring, friendly and loving as their Pony counterparts.
    • Dean Cadance is gentle, caring and loved by pretty much everyone, and as said in "Dance Magic", she replaces Cinch as principal of Crystal Prep.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Professor Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter was the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for the entirety of Harry Potter's stay there. He has had a long and eventful life in the wizarding world, including defeating infamous Evil Sorcerer Gellert Grindelwald. He is generally well-liked among the forces of good, his approval rating much higher than Cornelius Fudge when he was running for the position of Minister (despite not running himself), is the only person that Lord Voldemort ever feared and is generally accepted as being the Big Good of the series. As Headmaster, he comes off as a bit of a Cloudcuckoolander but is all-around a loved and respected member of the staff.
    • This trope gets deconstructed after Voldemort's return in Book 4. While very much on the side of good, Dumbledore becomes less of a principal and more of a general, being the leader of the Order of the Phoenix leading the fight against Voldemort and knowing full well that Harry is instrumental in killing Voldemort and being fully prepared to sacrifice him when the time comes, for the greater good of the world.
      Snape: You've been raising him like a pig for slaughter!

    Live-Action TV 
  • Abbott Elementary: Ava is the school's self-centered and social media obsessed principal, who got the job not because she's a qualified educator but because she blackmailed someone. She's fun and overly casual with the students at the cost of them viewing her (or any of the other teachers) as an authority figure. This attitude is explored in "The Principal's Office", where Gregory (a qualified educator who wanted her job) takes issue with the fact that Ava's office is a fun hangout spot and not a place of discipline. Ava counters by saying getting sent to the principal's office is humiliating enough and she wants to make it easier on the kids.
  • iCarly: Principal Franklin is popular with his students, probably because he's one of the few adults in the school who is not a kid-hating sadist.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Principal Flutie is a bumbling but nice guy. Unfortunately, just after Buffy makes a real connection with him in "The Pack", he is killed and eaten by a group of school bullies possessed by animal spirits. He is replaced by the outright-villainous Principal Snyder.
    • Alluded to by his Sadistic Teacher successor, Principal Snyder in "School Hard" where he says that a lot of educators say you should think of your principal as your pal but he prefers to be thought of as judge, jury and executioner.
  • In Class, Mr. Armitage is the headteacher of Coal Hill Academy and a pleasant, approachable character. He is gruesomely killed by an alien in "The Coach With the Dragon Tattoo", and replaced with the outright-villainous Dorothea Ames.
  • House of Anubis: In the second season, at least, Mr. Sweet was seen as the dorky-but-friendly headmaster. While occasionally dipping into a darker side of his personality, he was determined to make up for his actions in season one by focusing on being a good principal. The students often referred to him as "Sweetie", showing their affection for him.
  • Principal Belding, from Saved by the Bell, is very friendly and personable with the student main characters.
  • Subverted in Sex Education. The previous headmaster Mr. Groff was a straightforward Dean Bitterman ousted at the end of the second season. In the third, he is replaced with Ms. Haddon, a charming younger woman who positions herself as approachable and attentive (she even tells the students to call her "Hope") and whose goal is to reform the school into something more respectable. The students initially go along with her strict reforms (eg. Sudden School Uniforms), albeit resentfully, but she quickly reveals herself to be a conservative bigot whom the students try to take down.

    Newspaper Comics 

  • Dumbledore's pretty friendly with the students in A Very Potter Musical when he's not threatening to expel them if they call him Albums.
    • In A Very Potter Senior Year, he's one of the few people who cares about Tom Riddle and makes him believe in himself.

    Video Games 
  • Director Clavell in Pok√©mon Scarlet and Violet is very supportive to the academy's students, and a Reasonable Authority Figure that helps to clear the air about Team Star's motives. He even goes along with Iono's Where's Waldo?-style Gym test without a fuss.
    • Clavell's counterpart at Blueberry Academy, Cyrano, also qualifies. He's often seen being amicable with his students, and can be fought as a Secret Boss.
  • Tattered World has Nicholas Artois- a headmaster, but still- who is very kind and fatherly to his students, and almost everyone else he meets.

    Web Animation 
  • In the DarkMatter2525 video God of the Paradox, Carl Sagan is portrayed as the Principal of God School. When Yahweh tries altering his diploma so that it says "God of Everything" instead of "God of Pastries" despite his major being in Culinary Arts, Sagan allows it, claiming that in order to make an apple pie from scratch, one must first create the universe.
  • Professor Ozpin in RWBY, who is looked-up-to by just about every student in the school, and is willing to bend the rules a few times for his students' benefit.

    Web Comics 

    Web Video 
  • While Principal Eval from Adventures in Jedi School looks like he would be an Evil Principal, that's just a Red Herring. He's actually content with his job as Principal of Jedi school and was about to try and convince Jank and Sessa to join the school's dueling team before Randy Carmesian shows up and kills him.

    Western Animation 
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Geraldine Waxelplax, principal of Dimmsdale Elementary School, is a kindhearted and enthusiastic woman who genuinely cares for the students. She is, however, unkind to Denzel Crocker, though her treatment of him is justified by him being a deranged Sadist Teacher whose attempts to prove fairies exist often result in her suffering various misfortunes.
  • Principal Goodvibes from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy is the dean of Endsville Elementary. He is generally portrayed as a lame but well-meaning school principal that gives out bad advice to characters that need them and is generally the Butt-Monkey of whatever supernatural outbreak that happens to be going on at the time. He even admits that he had his name changed to Goodvibes legally.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Dean Peterson from the episode "Homer Goes to College" is laidback and friendly, and used to play bass for the Pretenders. Homer, however, is convinced that he has to be a "crusty old dean" like the ones in the college movies he sees.
    • In "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Badassssss Song", after Skinner is fired, Trope Namer Ned Flanders, interim principal of Springfield Elementary, states this trope as his goal at the assembly that announces his appointment. Unfortunately, he's too much "pal" and not enough "principal" and he lets the school become a lawless hellhole with his hands-off approach (when Bart gets sent to his office a dozen times a day so he can eat the Reese's Pieces that Ned freely hands over to guests, Ned is more concerned about being a good host than the fact Bart does principal's-office-worthy offenses a dozen times a day).
  • In the Hey Arnold! episode "Principal Simmons", Mr. Simmons says the name of the trope when he became the new principal of PS 118, when Principal Wartz resigned. Unfortunately, his attempts to reform aspects of the school for the students' benefit like making the lunches healthier go unappreciated get rejected by said students, and his inability to properly discipline the troublemakers causes the school to descend into chaos.
    Mr. Simmons: I'm sincere when I say I intend to put the "pal" back in "principal"!
  • Jacob Two-Two: Principal I.M. Greedyguts' twin brother Y.B. Greedyguts looks this way, giving out hot chocolate to students, having heated rooms, and just being an all-round nice guy. It's totally subverted when it turns out he's a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing and is actually worse than his brother, and the nice facade is to trick students and teachers into applying for his school, which is barely a school, but actually a place where people are forced to run on hamster wheels to generate energy.
  • Principal Knave from Mixels is overly enthusiastic and kind to his students, to the point of being a pushover.
  • Principal Bump from The Owl House: Though he is strict on occasion, he cares deeply for his students; he's visibly distraught when the Blights force him to expel Luz, Gus, and Willow in "Escaping Expulsion", he repeatedly defies the Emperor to allow his students to study multiple magic types, and joins in defending the school when Adrian Graye and the Emperor's Coven lay siege in "Labyrinth Runners". In "For the Future", when he's captured by The Collector, the students express their admration by erecting a Totally Radical statue in his honor.
  • Mayor Jones seems to become this in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, after Nibiru is defeated and consequently their timeline is rebooted.


Video Example(s):


Princi-Pal Bazwell

Principal Bazwell gives a helpful advice to Liam when he needs help dealing with Alison.

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Main / PuttingThePalInPrincipal

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