The single most popular student(s) in school.
Beyond that, however, school idols can be a widely varying bunch. Though membership of The Beautiful Elite is generally mandatory, school idols can be academically accomplished (or not), great athletes (or not), or the nicest people you've ever met (or not). While more school idols tend towards being Aces than not, what really only defines this trope is massive in-series popularity; most common symptoms of which include being met with fawning adulation wherever they go, an Instant Fan Club or three, and/or a group of highly jealous and violently protective stalkers.
Storywise, if the school idol is a secondary character, he or she is likely to be a Love Interest, most likely in a Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy setting; if (s)he's the main character, the story usually revolves around his or her struggles to keep up the perfect facade.
This trope is frequent in Japanese media, where the character is often an Ojou, functioning as something of a School Princess. While the notion of "most popular student(s)" exists in the standard Western High School setting as well, Alpha Bitches and Jerk Jocks are generally portrayed in a much less positive light, and as such rarely have a similar cult of personality to the school idol. A possibly helpful distinction: is the student an idol (as in, is he or she idolized?), or "merely" wildly popular?
- Ai Ore! Love Me! features Akira, the "Princess" of the all-boys High School he attends; and his girlfriend Mizuki, the "Prince" of the all-girls school she attends.
- Azumanga Daioh: Sakaki achieved her status by coincidence, because of her beauty, her natural athleticism, and her perceived reticence. Which has made her popular with the other female students, who're awed by her, when in fact, she's just too shy to make friends.
- Love interest Natsu in Baby Steps is referred to by the protagonist's best friend as the school's "Number 1 cutie." He and several other students then threaten the protagonist with bodily harm when they catch him talking to Natsu in the hall.
- Kaname Chidori from Full Metal Panic! is called "The School Idol Nobody Wants" In-Universe because, while she hits most of the notes listed in the trope description (beautiful, intelligent, athletic), her aggressive, emotionally open, take-no-crap personality is regarded as a complete deal-breaker by her male classmates.
- Yuno Gasai from Future Diary is often described as the school idol, being on the outside a pretty girl with excellent grades that is very nice to everyone around her. The reader soon realizes the truth is a bit more disturbing.
- Taro Hanaukyo in Hanaukyō Maid Tai, as the recent inheritor of the fabulous Hanaukyo fortune, has a lot of servants (most of whom appear to genuinely be fond of him as opposed to just sucking up to the boss) who do everything they can to make him instantly popular at his new school by making him appear to be a star athlete, genius student, etc.
- Hinagiku Katsura of Hayate the Combat Butler, it's even called out on, particularly during the Valentines Day and White Day arcs, and a lampshade is hung during her birthday arc.
- Maria and Athena Tennos used to hold this position before they graduated, Athena is even said to have shared the title with Hinagiku.
- He Is My Master has Sawatari Mitsuki, who works as a maid along with her big sister. She has bodyguards at school. Her master, on the other hand, is far from being popular.
- Inside Mari:
- Mari, prior to her possession by Isao, was one of these. She was a popular, straight A student who was respected by her classmates. There are hints that this might just be a facade she puts in order to interact with others. Once she gets possessed by Isao he fails to live up to this as he's constantly skipping school, ignoring Mari's friends, and acting like a socially awkward weirdo.
- Isao himself wanted to be this during his High School years, and thought that if he became a model student people would flock to him. His hopes were shattered when, after becoming a very good student, he found himself lonely and with no friends. This led him to quit school altogether in college, and he became a shut-in hikikkomori.
- Discussed like everything else in Lucky Star: Konata wonders who the school idol of Ryouou is, but the other girls just look at her quizzically.
- Maken-ki!: Haruko is introduced as being the most popular girl at Tenbi Academy and as the vice-president of the student council. She's especially popular with the first and second year female students, who look up to her for her strength and girlish charm.
- Nogizaka Haruka No Himitsu has Nogizaka Haruka, who is an idol at her school. She's an otaku but hides it out of fear of a repeat of the humiliation she suffered at middle school, where she was an idol until then. Her little sister, Nogizaka Mika, who attends an all-girls middle school, is an idol there.
- Nurse Angel Ririka SOS has Nozomu Kanou, who gets great grades, is great at sports, is handsome and kind and has the added appeal of being a Foreign Exchange Student. Turns out he's actually from a lot further away than advertised.
- Oniisama e... actually has three school idols, who are known around Seiran Academy as "the Three Magnificent Ones". The first is Student Council President Fukiko "Miya-sama" Ichinomiya, an elegant and beautiful and very unstable Ojou; the second is Fukiko's half-sister Rei "Hana no Saint-Juste" Asaka, a kind yet troubled Bifauxnen who's also a musician and ex-sportswoman; and the third is Kaoru "Kaoru no Kimi" Orihara, a sports idol Lad-ette and the Class Representative for Nanako's class.
- Benibara is the most popular girl at the Lobelia Girls' Academy, The Rival to Ouran High School Host Club. The girls at the school have T-shirts and everything, as though she were an actual celebrity.
- The whole student council in Seitokai No Ichizon is more or less this as the members are chosen via popularity poll, except for the MC.
- Sgt. Frog: Natsumi in the earlier seasons and manga volumes. However, this aspect of her character seems to be dropped in later chapters and episodes of the series, with later school scenes showing her more like an average girl.
- Later seasons and chapters basically eliminated this side of her character. Natsumi's still popular in her class, but isn't portrayed as an idol admired by every girl in school anymore.
- Ami in Toradora! had a lot of bad experiences as one, turning her into the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing that viewers see her as when she's first introduced.
- Ayaka Kagari from Witch Craft Works is the "Princess" of her school, with an adoring fan club that schedules mass lunches with her and an extremely enthusiastic self-proclaimed guard squad. They try to interfere with her relationship with love interest Honoka Takamiya until she puts her foot down.
- The guys from Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge. Kyohei is a total jerk, but the other three aren't as prickly as he is and every bit as popular.
- Miki Nakayama from Hakaiou Noritaka. Strong yet beautiful. She is the desire of every male in her high school including the protagonist. Though she is more noticed for her busty chest as both the star of the boxing team and even the male judo team just want to get close to her bosoms.Even the black boxer Ken Jackson considers making out with her after his fight with the protagonist.
- Ayaka from Ano Kiss has quite a few similarities to Rin Tohsaka, being always pretty, talented, kind and helpful at school but lacking any sort of tact outside of it. It comes partly from her mother expecting her to be a perfect student and putting an unreasonable pressure on her, but she's proud of being the school idol nonetheless (hence her distress when Yurine beats her in the score ranking). Chapter 22 lampshades that even if she's number 2 in grades, everyone still loves her, while Yurine is gifted but too socially inept to qualify.
- Ferris Bueller is the definitive Western example. The entire school grinds to a halt when they learn that Ferris is "sick", and devote all their energies to making his life better. He's also beloved by all, regardless of their own place on the school totem pole:
The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads - they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude.
- Gary King from The World's End, if he's to be believed.
- Dear Dumb Diary:
- Angeline, who is seen by the narrator as a mixture of the Alpha Bitch and this trope. It's played almost completely straight in the eyes of the rest of the school.
- A lesser example is Chip, mentioned in the second book as "the cutest guy in school," with his dog being more popular and better-looking than most boys.
- In Devin And The Teacher the title character is heavily implied to be this by the narrator.
- In Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note, Aya mentions that the New Transfer Student Takuzu Mikado has became this a month since he transferred in. While he's a Nice bishonen, but then he's so much The Ace that the girls can't stop (literally!) squeeing.
- Nobuta Wo Produce is about a school idol who works really hard to keep up this image until he starts hanging out with those two weird kids, one of whom he is trying to turn into a school idol as well. At some point he ends up falling from his idol position spectacularly, but in compensation he learns The Power of Friendship or something.
- Multiple School Idols have shown up in various Kamen Rider series. When Kamen Rider Decade visited the World of Faiz, Tsukasa sided with the put-upon photography club against the evil popular kids (and they are literally evil, being Orphenochs and this world's equivalent of the Lucky Clover).
- Kamen Rider Fourze starts off with Shun Daimonji and Miu Kazashiro, who are literally referred to as the school's King and Queen, but give it up after Character Development leads to their mellowing out. The most notable example in the show is Gentaro Kisaragi himself, who pledged on his first day at Amanogawa to befriend everybody at the school.
- The original Persona has Eriko Kirishima, one of the more popular girls at St. Hermelin thanks to her beauty and amiable personality.
- Deconstructed in Persona 2: Innocent Sin. Lisa Silverman is the top candidate at Seven Sister's Beauty Contest, but the same exotic American features that make her desirable now caused her to be bullied as a young child, and her current popularity still causes quite a few problems for her.
- Persona 3:
- Mitsuru Kirijo, the wealthy heiress to the Kirijo Group. Granted, the fact that her family's somewhat shady Mega Corp. makes generous donations to the school allows her to practically run Gekkoukan High regardless of what others may think of her, but she still has quite a good reputation and more than a few fans among the student body.
- Yukari Takeba is quite popular among the student body as well. Hell, she's even called "the famous Yukari Takeba" in-game.
- Yukiko Amagi is vaguely hinted to be one of these in Persona 4, given all the guys who try to ask her out, but Naoto Shirogane actually makes the local news as the "Detective Prince". Amusingly enough, despite being a Teen Idol, Rise Kujikawa doesn't appear to become a school idol once she enrolls.
- Persona 5 deconstructs this in an interesting way; most of its female party members have character archetypes that would traditionally slot them in for this trope, but are instead social outcasts for those reasons. Ann Takamaki is a quarter-white part-time model whose exotic beauty just makes her the target of multiple undesirable rumors, Makoto Niijima is the intelligent and studious Student Council President who's seen by her schoolmates as nothing more than a Teacher's Pet and Academic Alpha Bitch, and Haru Okumura is the wealthy heiress who has trouble connecting with others precisely because she realizes most people are only interested in her for her family's wealth.
- Amagami's very own Haruka Morishima who is also explicitly called, "Man-Killing Phenomenal Queen" in their school. She doesn't act like one though.
- The Love Letter is a short flash game that distills this trope to its bare essentials. Explaining how would spoil the entire game.
- Rin Tohsaka from Fate/stay night is the most popular girl at her school. This is achieved by being very good looking and keeping up an honor student facade, but she's actually quite a short tempered Tsundere (more evident in the original Visual Novel than the anime).
- Da Capo has Kotori Shirakawa. She's explicitly referred to as this, and it's easy to see why: she's pretty (enough to win the school beauty pageant!), a good singer, and one of the nicest people a person could hope to meet.
- Tokimeki Memorial 1's High School, Kirameki High, has three School Idols dominating the campus: Saki Nijino, "The Idol of Kirameki High's Sports Clubs"; Mira Kagami, "The Madonna of Kirameki High", and Shiori Fujisaki, "The Superstar of Kirameki High". Their Iconic Items (Saki's home-made "NijiBen" lunch box, Mira's earrings, and Shiori's hairband), are, according to Info Man Yoshio, the most valuable items among the boys in the school, and getting one of them is considered as a feat and a proof of close relationship with the girl.
- This is an Informed Attribute of Sakazaki Yuuya in Hatoful Boyfriend. He's referred to as an "ever-popular trend-setter and ladies' man", famous or infamous throughout the school, and claims to know everyone. Certainly he's excessively friendly, cheerful, and easygoing. But he's also very frequently absent from school and exceedingly secretive, and the nature of the game means he's not too often shown in the company of other characters. In the Q and A for the second game one letter asks if he's really "got it". Confidently, he says "A man who's 'got it' never says he does."
- Shall We Date?: Wizardess Heart:
- Prefect Klaus Goldstein is the most famous and most influential student at Gedonelune Royal Academy. He comes from a prominent family famous for creating magical items, and has enough pull at the school that the faculty have foregone naming a second prefect (as they normally would have) because there are no candidates that Klaus would accept. Despite still being a student, he doesn't have a curfew and is allowed in areas normally forbidden to students, and even occasionally teaches classes when instructors are unavailable. His fellow students call him "the Emperor" and he's a popular subject of admiration and gossip.
- Klaus's younger brother Elias Goldstein is also very popular, albeit overshadowed by his brother in most respects. Because he's somewhat more approachable than the arrogant, commanding Klaus, he attracts a lot of fangirls.
- Katja from Missing Stars is a very good student and choir singer who is well-respected at her school. She has a lot of admirers. Katja also counts as an Ojou.