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School Grade Hacking

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"I don't think I deserved an F, do you?"

"Breaking into the school system was easy with my computer. So what if I gave myself a better mark?! I wanted to be first! So I cheated, big deal!"
Bentley, The Raccoons, "Trouble Shooter!"

So you are a young Techno Wizard who happens to underperform at school. So how do you pass the class? Luckily, the school's database is online, allowing you to hack into the system and improve your grades effortlessly with the click of a button.

If the student isn't equipped to hack the computer themself, they may enlist a brilliant friend to help them out. The coup may also be done to either up- or downgrade someone else's scores or to tamper with other sensitive information besides grades.

An Acceptable Break from Reality nowadays since this has become harder to pull off in real life than fiction wants us to believe. So much so that it'd easily be a lot more work hacking in to do this than it would be to just sit down, study hard, and raise your grades the old-fashioned way (or find other ways to cheat). Needless to say: Don't Try This at Home; this is considered tampering with school property and people have gotten straight-up arrested for grade hacking (at the very least, you could get suspended or expelled).

Compare Laborious Laziness. Often overlaps with Brilliant, but Lazy. Likely to be employed in a Gotta Pass the Class plot.

No Real Life Examples, Please!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Kodocha, the former delinquent Akito changes his best friend Sana's math grade in the Season 1 finale so they can start middle school together in Season 2. This proves how much he loves her, and how much delinquency he still had left over.
  • A slight variant occurs in the second episode of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. Heero, who is using Relena's school as a cover, hacks into a school computer both to set up torpedoes to destroy his Gundam and clear his financial situation with the school, though a card is used with the latter.
  • Succubus & Hitman: Shouya offers to protect Playful Hacker Kururi from the Yakuza she stole money from in exchange for her help hunting his targets. To test her skills, he orders her to hack into his high school and enroll herself as a New Transfer Student.

    Fan Works 
  • With Pearl and Ruby Glowing: After years of bullying and assault, Dr. Flug hacks into his high school database and takes his bullies' grades down several levels.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Aliens in the Attic has Tom hack the school computer network to change his grades. As his father points out, if he's smart enough to hack the system, he's smart enough to get the good grades in the first place. This is justified as Tom was deliberately "dumbing down" to try and fit in with the other kids.
  • In Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ferris hacks into the school's system from his computer to change the number of absences he's had. Possibly an Actor Allusion, since Matthew Broderick also pretty much did the same thing in WarGames. Ferris, however, isn't quite so excited about it:
    Ferris: "I asked for a car, I got a computer. How's that for being born under a bad sign?"
  • Kick-Ass 2, Mindy hacks the school to give herself perfect attendance so she could cut class and train as Hit Girl every day. It finally backfires when she's not there to receive her Perfect Attendance Award and her father is called.
  • Sneakers: This is how Carl Arborgast became the youngest member of Martin Bishop's team. While testing security at a school, they caught him hacking into the system in an attempt to change his grade.
  • The Trope Codifier is the 1983 movie WarGames where David remotely dials into the school computer via modem to change his Biology grade from F to C so he can skip summer school, and he also changes his classmate Jennifer's grade from F to A.
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League: In the flashback of how Victor Stone became Cyborg, the Dean of Gotham City University discusses with Victor's mother Ellinore how he hacked into the school database and changed his classmate Sarah's grades. Ellinore tries to justify her son's actions by saying that Sarah and her family had lost their house and her grades were affected because of it.

  • In the Alex Flinn novel Breaking Point (2002), Charlie convinces Paul to break into the school and hack into the student-record database to change his biology grade from a "D" to a "B".
  • In Halfway Across the Galaxy and Turn Left, there's a recurring thread of the protagonist struggling to live up to the expectations placed on her because of her exceptional exam results. Near the end of the novel, her father — who's currently in hiding from the authorities after hacking the lottery for the 27th time — admits to her that he hacked her exam results because he wanted her to do well and that her actual results weren't as high.
  • In Looking for Alaska, the main characters decrease their peers' grades to get back at them for nearly killing Miles, urinating in Chip's shoes, and soaking Alaska's bedroom library.
  • In Sweet Valley High's #14, Deceptions, Jessica Wakefield convinces Randy Walker to change her failing grade so she can remain in the cheerleading squad. Randy ends up deciding to confess to the principal and Elizabeth, who finds out by accident, forces Jessica to go to the principal's office.
  • In Haze, Guzzle persuades Seb to hack into the school computer to change all his Fs to Cs so his mum won't find out how many classes he failed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • iCarly episode "iPromise Not to Tell" features a two instances of this going both ways.
    • The episode is kickstarted when Carly gets a B on her history report that she worked so hard on — solely because it was printed on three-hole paper, which the teacher hates — leading to Sam tampering with the school's computer and changing the grade to an A+, as well as futzing with her and Freddie's grades for good measure. In this case, Sam isn't quite "hacking", but rather was (once again) brought into the principal's office with the administrative computer, taking the opportunity the moment she was left unattended.
    • Later, when Carly and Freddie spend the rest of the episode riddled with guilt, they end up attempting to properly hack into the system through the school's T5 Line in order to change the grades back. Unlike the above example, this is hacking... which immediately gets the two in trouble as the school security manage to detect a breach and track it to Freddie's computer, foiling their plans.
  • In the Superstore episode "District Manager", Mateo goes into his boss's computer and changes his checkout stat (UPM score) to be phenomenally high.
  • In Stranger Things season 4 opener "The Hellfire Club", Dustin's Teen Genius girlfriend Suzie does him a favor and hacks into the Hawkins Highschool system to change Dustin's Latin score from a D to an A.
  • In The Orville episode "Ja'loja", it's revealed that James hacked the school database to improve his grades. His parents refuse to believe he could do such a thing.
  • Discussed in The Goldbergs episode "Shall We Play a Game" where Adam claims to be able to hack into the school database to change Barry's grades just like in WarGames. Since it's actually next to impossible to do that in the 1980s, he does the next best thing and "hacks" Barry's brain by tricking him into studying instead.
  • In Beverly Hills, 90210 episode "Destiny Rides Again", Steve gets bad news regarding his low SAT score. He decides to take the risk and get Herbert to help him hack into the school computer to change his grades. Eventually he gets caught and would have gotten expelled if his mother didn't pull a Screw the Rules, I'm Famous!.
  • In the It's a Wonderful Plot episode of the Sweet Valley High TV series, Todd changed from the football team captain to a computer nerd. Toward the end of the episode, he is arrested for breaking into the school records and changing the grades for the sake of Enid, the timeline's Alpha Bitch.
  • In the CSI: NY episode "Do or Die", a nerdy student hacks the school's computer system to obtain copies of expected tests to create an answer key for another student (a popular girl he's tutoring) so she can keep her reputation as the smartest girl in school as well as get accepted to the college of her choice.
  • Suits: A variation; a hacker has to not only change grades but create an entire fake Harvard transcript for Mike, who never actually attended.

  • One episode of Adventures in Odyssey has Eugene discover evidence of a somebody changing the grades a school he is working at. He discovers that a student he befriended is the culprit, who did it on behalf of another member of the staff who was taking money in exchange for changing grades. Eugene changes the grades back but gets caught and decides to take the blame, but the student confesses the truth.

    Video Games 
  • Discussed in Max Blaster and Doris de Lightning Against the Parrot Creatures of Venus. When Max can't figure out how to work a computer, the more technically-inclined Doris takes over. She says that she was at the top of her electronics class for two years, and didn't even have to hack in and change her teacher's files.
  • Hacking the International Academic Database is an early game mission in Uplink.
  • The Game Dev Tree: One of the Good Will upgrades is "Hack into college databases", which allows you to "Manipulate your GPA to multiply enrollment gain based on your refactors".
  • The objective of the Skool Daze Fan Sequel Klass of '99 is to hack into the school's computer and delete your disastrous end-of-term report.
  • The Sims 2: Young adult sims who become members of the university's secret society can hack their grades. Naturally, this carries a risk of getting caught by the police and fined (which can be mitigated somewhat by having a high logic skill).
  • TRON 2.0 implies this (among other shenanigans). One of several incidents of adolescent rebellion on Jet Bradley's part was hacking into the school's mainframe, something that did not impress the more rule-abiding Alan.
  • Troublemaker has an example where the good guys does it, in a night infiltration mission where you infiltrate the principal's office to change the grades of the Absurdly Powerful Student Council Chairman and expose his past crimes, which involves sexually violating your girlfriend.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, a sidequest involves helping a squad dubbed "The Misfits" improve, with one possible solution being to simply hack the camp's computer to make it seem like they're doing better than they are. However this results in them being ill-prepared for actual combat, with their ending stating that the ones who aren't killed in battle end up getting caught and executed for desertion.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Junior: One of the students had his grades hacked in the form of a deadly prank. The student was almost expelled and the culprit was unmasked.

  • Parodied in the xkcd strip Final Exam. The students in a cybersecurity class are told that they have all failed and their grades will be stored on the server within the students' reach and only be submitted the next day. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? However, to keep the hacking in check, the game theory course's grade is based on how close the grade matches 80% of the average score.
  • In Dumbing of Age, Amber hacked Walky's grades to improve his marks in math and become an A student again.

    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 
  • The Raccoons: In the episode "Trouble Shooter!", Bentley used his laptop to hack into his school's database and give himself better math grades, which led to him running away from home before his parents found out.
  • The Simpsons: In the episode "Homer Goes to College", Mr. Burns sends Homer to Springfield University so Homer can earn his Master's degree and keep his job at the Nuclear Power Plant. Several nerds help Homer study for his test, but unfortunately, Homer still gets an F, so the nerds hack into the college's computer to change his grade. When Homer's family finds out, Lisa points out that Homer only passed the test by cheating, which he always taught her was wrong. Marge then makes Homer go back to college so he can pass the test for real and set a good example for his family.
  • In The Cleveland Show episode "Little Big Man on Campus", Cleveland brings in Holt as a ringer to help win the state championship, and this inspires Cleveland Jr. to cheat on his final wood shop class assignment to pass the class. When Cleveland finds out about this, he pulls Holt off the team, costing the school the championship, and Cleveland Jr. gets an "F" in woodshop. At the very end, Holt still participates in the high school's rendition of RENT, and the closing text states that Donna used her status as the school's secretary to change Cleveland Jr.'s grade to a "B" and that "nobody learned anything."
  • In the Danny Phantom episode "What You Want", Danny catches Tucker hacking into the school's computer network to change his grades when confronting him about his newly-acquired ghost powers. This is used as an example of how Tucker was abusing his powers, and how his constant use of them was corrupting his morality.
  • Occurs in the second episode of X-Men: Evolution, "X-Impulse", featuring the debut of recurring characters Kitty Pryde and Lance Alvers. The latter teaches the former on how to use her phasing powers (after she discovered she has mutant abilities for the first time) to help him infiltrate the principal's office, which she did, but when Kitty realize he's going to hack into the school's computers and alter their grades she quickly have a change of heart. It quickly leads to Lance using his powers to bring down part of the school in an attempt to stop Kitty from leaving.


Video Example(s):


Hacking Hawkins Highschool

Dustin's Teen Genius girlfriend Suzie does him a favor and hacks into the Hawkins Highschool system to change Dustin's Latin score from a D to an A.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / SchoolGradeHacking

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