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School Is for Losers

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Somebody needs a little more "skool".

"You can miss out school
(Won't that be cool?)
Why go to learn the words of fools?"
The Small Faces, "Itchycoo Park"

The common attitude of many a Book Dumb character is that "cool" people don't go to school. Even if forced, they must make absolutely no effort to do well in class, because that would indicate they care about "useless" things like how to add numbers and spell correctly.

The basic idea that characters who fit this trope have is that there is some place called "the street" that teaches you everything you'll ever really need to know in life. If you're on this website, the closest you've ever gotten is the fabled Sesame Street.

There's also a group of people who oppose formalized public education as a Government Conspiracy to keep the populace dumb and conformist. Others simply see institutional education as ineffective. Or both. However, this type of person rarely shows up in media; this trope is usually used to make a character look like a comedic idiot (But see Homeschooled Kids).

Possibly justified if the character expressing this opinion goes to a Sucky School.

Sub-Trope of Cool People Rebel Against Authority.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Half the cast of AKIRA fits this trope.
  • YuYu Hakusho. Yusuke is too cool for school, especially in the first couple of episodes.

    Comic Books 
  • The standard attitude of the characters in The Beano.
  • Creeps in around the edges of the books in the X-Men line. While the original X-Men were sometimes shown studying actual school subjects, in recent years, despite the characters often living in a school, they're almost never shown studying anything other than using their powers, fighting, and, in recent years, "superhuman ethics". The implication being that superhumans don't need to know silly things like history, math, reading, or science. Virtually all of the major characters are adults, so the fact that they're not students is rather less surprising.
    • The Law of Conservation of Detail may also apply— readers presumably know what regular school classes are like and would be more interested in what sort of specialized learning superhumans might want. Not to mention that regular school studies wouldn't be very interesting to read about, and it can be assumed that the students receive their "regular" education off-panel.
  • This was long the attitude held by the Runaways, especially after various adults tried to force them to enter foster care and go to school. More recently, they reluctantly agreed to enroll Molly Hayes and Klara Prast in a home-schooling program offered by Avengers Academy, in exchange for a promise of non-interference.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off consists entirely of a character with this philosophy putting it into action by treating every authority he runs into with caustic dismissal.
  • The song "The Nicest Kids in Town" from Hairspray is practically the hymn for this ethos. In universe, at least. Especially the lyrics "They'll never get to college, but they'll sure look cool".
  • The third Big Momma's House movie featured the cop's stepson thinking like that.

  • Mark Twain's novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn features Huck's virtually illiterate father Pap Finn, who notes that neither Huck's mother nor any of the Finns could read or write. Pap shows disdain for Huck's education, believing that Huck might start putting on airs and trying to be better off than his dad. He also rants at the government, as well as a mulatto freedman who wears fancy clothes and jewelry.
  • The bestselling book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which claims has the secrets of how to become rich, has a bit of this trope in its main message: It mentions how several billionaires were school dropouts, and that education serves only to become a salaried worker trapped in a never-ending spending race (or "rat race" as the author calls it). Although probably it was not how the author intended it, this ended up being the main message understood by its readers.
  • The version of Jenny Everywhere in The Genesis of Jenny Everywhere is still a teenager who hates school and would much rather be still in bed dreaming about the adventures she'll ultimately end up having, but her Education Mama mother won't let her. (Compounded by the fact most of the other girls, notably Alpha Bitch Charlotte Mitchell, hate her guts, and vice versa). Her one friend Leelee doubly subverts this trope- turning up whenever she feels like it, but bunking off most of the time (being an Alternate Universe, there is no law against this, with the implication it's up to the parent or guardian).
  • Scout, of To Kill a Mockingbird thinks school is utterly useless, and spends a while trying to convince her father to let her stay home, since he never went to a day of formal school as a kid and managed to become a lawyer anyway. In all fairness to her, her town's school system is pretty ridiculous — her first-grade teacher is annoyed that she already knows how to read and write, and tells her she needs to stop doing both until she reaches the appropriate grade level. Needless to say, she's not pleased, and tries a number of things to get out of going to school, including briefly becoming Lady Swears-a-Lot in the hope that her father won't make her go anymore once he finds out she learned it from other kids (It doesn't work; if anything, he seems to find it slightly amusing).

    Live Action TV 
  • Tara from True Blood.
    "College is just a place for white people to go to to get other white people to read to them. I figure I'll just buy the books and read to myself".
  • One episode of Married... with Children had Kelly gaining an internship at a TV station. Al invoked the trope the moment he learned Kelly was offered a three-year-long contract that paid 250 thousand dollars per year to be the station's new "weather bunny" and required her to drop out of school.
    • In true Bundy fashion, Kelly got fired after her first TV appearance - because she was so stupid she couldn't read the TelePrompter.
    • More generally, Married With Children is a subversion of this trope. Al has this attitude, and mocks Bud for taking his studies seriously. The problem is that Al was convinced he'd be a pro football star and that he didn't need any education. Unfortunately, when he lost his football scholarship and got married he had no other real skills, and was forced to stay in his Soul-Sucking Retail Job.
  • Rom is very ambivalent about sending his son Nog to a Federation-taught school in the first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Apparently it is more customary to thrust young Ferengi into the cutthroat world of competitive business with little to no formal education and let them sink or swim. It's unclear how they got into space under this system, considering that Nog is unable to read as of Season 1 when he looks to be about the equivalent of a human child of twelve to fourteen. This is also a case of Early-Installment Weirdness: when Nog later declares his intent to go to Starfleet Academy, Rom is nothing but supportive. QUARK on the other hand, picks up the slack on this trope, not only disapproving of Nog's pursuit of education, but even attempting to sabotage Nog's entrance tests.
    • It's stated in-universe that the Ferengi bought, swindled, or stole most of their technology from other societies.
  • On Shark Tank, when a kid comes on with a pitch, certain of the Sharks, particularly Kevin, will ask if the kid is ready to quit school to devote their full time to their business. And they're perfectly serious, too.
  • On Adam Ruins Everything, a young man is with his mother touring colleges, but he doesn't really take it seriously. He thinks he'll be able to just drop out of school and become a successful billionaire entrepreneur like Bill Gates. Adam explains that Bill Gates already had an advantage: he was going to school in an era where college degrees weren't an absolute requirement like they are now, he came from a wealthy family that could afford to send him to a prestigious prep school...which had access to a then-state-of-the-art computer that public schools (and most residential homes) generally did not, classes in programming at that prestigious school, he never officially dropped out of school, and even if he had, he'd still be able to go back to school on his wealthy parents' dime if his business plans hadn't worked out. Adam then goes on to explain that only 1% of jobs these days are given to people who don't have at least a bachelor's degree. This convinces the kid that college is a necessity if he wants to get anywhere in life.
  • The Cosby Show: Theo's friend Cockroach has this attitude, and it sometimes rubs off onto Theo. In one episode, he says he doesn't need to study because he's got a cushy job waiting for him running the family junkyard. Cliff asks him how is he going to weigh the scrap if he can't count. Cockroach says he has a foreman to do that. Cliff then asks how he is going to do the books if he can't count, and Cockroach replies he has an accountant to do that. Cliff then declares that he is going to go broke. Cockroach asks why, and Cliff says that if his foreman can count, and his accountant can count, but he can't, then he is going to go broke.
  • During a nightmare on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will imagined that nerdy Carlton developed this attitude, outright saying "I'm quitting school! That's for suckers!" after Will takes him into a dangerous neighborhood.
  • Amen Clarence doesn't outright say this when he decides to drop out of school and pursue a rap career, but he clearly thinks it. Another episode has Rolly, Ernest, and Reuben trying to convince a young man to attend college despite his similar views that college has nothing to offer him.
  • In Crazy Ex-Girlfriend after Greg gets a bad grade on a college assignment, he starts off in a spiel about how he actually just doesn't care about school because it's all pointless, anyway. However it's made very clear that he does care, and that his faux apathetic act is holding him back and just makes him come across like a smug and obnoxious jerk.
    Whoop-dee-frickin'-doo, an "A"
    What's an "A?"
    It's just a letter on a page meant to distract us from the pain
    But it's not like any "A" can make a difference in the day
  • Schitt's Creek: Alexis Rose dropped out of a very expensive Swiss boarding school because of a very boring story involving a yacht, a famous soccer player and like a ton of mushrooms. She comes to regret her attitude and returns to high school to get her diploma.
  • Gilmore Girls: Played With with Jess, who is intellectually on par with Ivy League bound Rory and Paris, but doesn't see the point of school. He explains to Rory that he isn't going to college, so there's no point in trying in high school. He dislikes the entire institution, and when he does go, he doesn't do much work. He ends up dropping out when he's informed he won't be allowed to graduate due to truancy. When Luke confronts him, he's flippant about it, and unconcerned about his lack of prospects as someone who doesn't have a high school diploma. He refuses to re-take his senior year, and Luke kicks him out. However, this attitude applies only to himself. He's nothing but supportive of Rory's dream to attend Harvard and then Yale. And in season 6, when he returns to Connecticut and finds she's dropped out of college, is living with her grandparents, and dating a guy who'd rather party than study, he gives her a blistering What the Hell, Hero? starting with an incredulous "Why did you drop out of Yale?!" This is the impetus for Rory to re-enroll at Yale and get her life back together.

  • Approximately 50% of the lyrics of "(She's) Sexy + 17" by the Stray Cats.
  • "Billy S" by Skye Sweetnam.
  • "Troublemaker" by Weezer.
  • Mocked by "Weird Al" Yankovic in a stanza from "Jackson Park Express":
    Think of the beautiful children we could have some day
    We could school them at home, raise them up the right way
    And protect them from the evils of the world
  • Defied by the protagonist in Red Vox's "Back to School". The protagonist is very close to finishing school, the senioritis is setting in, and he keeps seeing his friends enjoying themselves, apparently skipping or having dropped out entirely. Even after they snub him for staying in school, he toughs it out, knowing he's come too close to finishing the job.

    Video Games 
  • In Disgaea 3, the Maritsu Evil Academy rewards students who act this way. But then, it is an evil academy...
    • The teachers have very practical reasons for this: namely, with no students, they effectively get paid to sit on their ass all day. At one point, you have to beat the teacher into actually showing up for a class you take.
  • Some of your classmates in Growing Up hate school and wish to drop out for their own dreams:
    • Alex lives in a carnival and wants to work there like her parents. In middle school, she lies to her mom that the field trip was one day earlier to get out of classes, and she wishes to drop out and become a carnie, which she does in her bad ending. Her mom reminds her that schooling can unlock new opportunities for her in the future, which she agrees if you've befriended her well enough. She ends up mysteriously disappearing in high school, but not to avoid doing homework, but because her rival Shane got into an accident from her dare and was hospitalized.
    • Wendy hates schoolwork and likes cutting classes to watch horror movies, and you can rebel with her if you wish. Doing so will further motivate her to continue studying. From there, you can help her with her homework and also invite her to the Shakespeare play to encourage her to study hard and follow her dreams of becoming a makeup artist.
  • In World of Warcraft, Thrashbite the Scornful, a boss in the Cathedral of Eternal Night, is a strong but not very bright mo'arg demon. He's fought inside the cathedral's library, where he destroys any bookshelves he charges through, and says things such as "Books are for losers!" Once defeated, he will say "Shoulda... stayed in... school..." as he dies (or alternatively,"Didn't... think this... through...").
  • Twisted Wonderland: Fellow Honest initially believes this due to being too magically weak to be admitted into a Wizarding School. He later admits to being jealous of people who do get to go to school, and decides to found his own school.

    Visual Novels 
  • Averted in Daughter for Dessert. Amanda and Kathy are both in college to better themselves.
  • Double Homework contains a couple of inversions:
    • According to the protagonist, summer school is for losers, since students in summer school are too stupid, lazy, or both to get good grades during the regular school sessions.
    • Henry is happy to be held back a year, because graduating school is for losers, apparently. Henry wants to delay the responsibilities of living in the real world.
  • Downplayed in Melody. The title character and Sophia are college students who fully intend to complete their education, and the protagonist is college-educated. While all of them value education, Melody does leave school to further her music career if she gets a big break.

    Web Comics 
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!: Jean was an extremely gifted student as a child, but she despised school. She says others had a hard time understanding this. Ironically, she grew up to be a college teacher — and still basically hates it, wanting to do pure scientific research.

    Web Original 
  • Harry Potter says this in one of the Potter Puppet Pals skits, where he thinks he's too cool for school. He doesn't normally think this in the actual books, though; while he doesn't always like the class work, he does like Hogwarts in general.

    Western Animation 
  • Fugget About It: Jimmy is revealed to have never finished high school when he can't provide a high school diploma for his witness protection cover job, insisting that he had to "hustle" on the street and make a living instead of finishing school. While Officer Mccool could simply give Jimmy fake qualifications, he insists that Jimmy get a GED through an adult night course, which he predictably bombs thanks to his Book Dumb nature and Hair-Trigger Temper. Cookie finally gets him to admit that his failure in school and his night courses has nothing to do with having to "hustle"; Jimmy's pride simply won't let him admit that he couldn't handle the coursework on his own and needed help. Accepting this, Jimmy manages to put his ego aside and earn his diploma, albeit barely.
  • In the Pac-Man second season opener "Hey, Hey, Hey … It's P.J.", Pac-Man's teenage nephew had this attitude toward high school.
  • The Simpsons
    • From "Bart's Comet":
      [Skinner reads newspaper which says on the front page: "Prez Sez: School is for Losers!"] note 
      Skinner: Noooo!note 
    • Loan-A-Lisa note , has Lisa meeting a bunch of famous, successful people who are all college drop-outs.
  • The Fairly OddParents! Back to School episode "The Old Man and the C−" revealed that Timmy's dad didn't finish elementary school because someone told him he was too cool for school. He then becomes Timmy's classmate and it seems nothing will prevent him from graduating this time until the same person appears again. Of course the person in question happens to be Melvin. Naturally after Timmy's dad graduates, he and his son get back at him.
  • Rick Sanchez from Rick and Morty definitely holds to this view, stating that rote memorization of often oversimplified half-truths is pointless. His view may, however, be skewed somewhat by the fact that he's a natural-born genius and one of the smartest people on Earth. Or, indeed, anywhere in the universe. Also, it is worth noting that, in-universe, he is shown to be absolutely correct in his exaggerated view of what school is, with high-school students still learning basic arithmetic through repeated examples and drills.
  • Eda Clawthorne from The Owl House is a proud magic school dropout who sneers at traditional education and is horrified when she finds that Luz smuggled herself into Hexside to attend its classes, complete with a Skyward Scream. However, she's a justified and sympathetic example — Hexside's one-track system is shown to be stifling for students who are pushed to a track they have no aptitude for (like Willow) or those who want to learn more than one type of magic (like the delinquent track kids, Luz, and Eda herself) and force the kids into conformity by making them chose one single coven, severely limiting their magic and freedom. However, Eda puts her own hang-ups aside to enroll Luz at Hexside after realizing it would be the best for her and trusting her enough to not fall prey to its "one-witch, one-coven" mentality.
  • Tex Avery MGM Cartoons: "The Screwy Truant" toys with this. Screwy Squirrel plays hooky from school and is chased by a canine truant officer. At the end, Screwy explains why he wasn't at school: he has measles.