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Shouldn't We Be In School Right Now?

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"They're too cool for school. And also, too fictional."
Andrew Hussie, author of Homestuck, via his defunct Formspring

You've got a great idea. It's this kid, so your target audience can identify with the main character, traveling around the world, finding Plot Coupons and saving the world. Just one problem: How many days of school has the hero missed? Not everybody can fit their adventures into a single summer vacation like Ben Tennyson, Phineas and Ferb, the Pines twins, or the Ed boys; you want the adventure to last through times that school is usually in session. But this can be solved by simply never, ever, mentioning it! Fan Wank will take care of the excuses for you!

This can be justified if the character is in their late teens, as in many places, finishing high school is not compulsory, with there being the option of taking an equivalency test instead.

A common trope in adventuring anime, and practically any video game or show that takes place in a world of adventurers, where it may be justified if there are no public schools. Also justified in any historical setting that takes place before the advent of widespread mandatory public schooling, or in settings where some sort of war or catastrophe is preventing school from being held, which neatly covers most instances of Child Soldiers, cabin boys, and plucky middies.

The childhood equivalent of One-Hour Work Week. See also Free-Range Children and School of No Studying.

Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World averts this. Not to be confused with Skipping School.


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Aversions and Hand Waves:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! (in the manga, at least): The two major Yu-Gi-Oh: Duelist arcs take place during school breaks specifically so Yugi can attend, and other arcs take place in only a short time, or after/during school.
    • The dub even cuts out instances of Yugi and friends skipping school to save the world — for example, in one instance Yugi and Tea were going to a soccer match rather than school.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series parodies and zigzags the anime version. Joey points out how the gang are never seen doing any schoolwork, which leads to Yugi wondering why they even bother going to school. Then later on, Yugi expresses surprise upon seeing a teacher, having apparently forgotten what one looked like. Even Tristan eventually wonders why they haven't yet been expelled.
  • Pokémon: Trainers leave for one year, in the The Electric Tale of Pikachu manga series. Ash is in a hurry to finish his journey for this reason.
  • Averted in the Tenchi Muyo! OVA where much of Tenchi's school is destroyed in the first episode and in the second his house is accidentally relocated next to his grandfather's shrine deep in the mountains. He ends up taking his classes by correspondence after that.
  • In Bleach, the teenage protagonists time their world-saving to take place during school breaks whenever possible, but they still frequently have to cut class to respond to attacks and sometimes get in serious trouble for doing so. Ichigo can at least send Kon in his place but Uryuu, Chad, and Orihime can't fake their absences and come up with often-outlandish excuses. They avert more serious consequences by keeping their grades up so the teachers only have so much to complain about. Deconstructed at one point in the Arrancar Arc, where, after spending several weeks training with the Vizards, he gets thoroughly chewed out by his homeroom teacher for missing so much class.
  • In Sailor Moon, the monsters conveniently attack within walking distance (or a short ride via public transportation) from where the main characters live, and unless their plan has something to do with an extracurricular activity, never while the Sailor Senshi are supposed to be at school. This does make some sense, though, since in all but one story arc the protagonists are intimately connected to the Big Bad or have what the Big Bad wants. Also, generally, when the above doesn't apply, the problems are implied to have been happening for some time, and the heroines simply investigate at a convenient, non-school time. Or, the event is actually triggered by the senshi being there. Or, the villain crashes the school and forcibly ends classes, so it's not much of an issue. Naturally, most Magical Girl Warrior shows, such as Pretty Cure and Lyrical Nanoha, have followed in the footsteps of Sailor Moon by using a similar setup. Although it's worth pointing out in the latter case that Nanoha actually got her parent's permission to take a leave of absence from school for the final third of the first season.
  • In Nekketsu Saikyo Gosaurer, the Transforming Mecha are made of the sections of the protagonists' schools, so technically they are in school as they adventure in their mechs.
  • In Inuyasha Kagome has her family make up a series of unlikely illnesses for her to be suffering from, so that she can spend her time in feudal Japan. Few people seem to question this state of affairs. At one point in the manga, one of Kagome's schoolmates sees her come out of the Bone Eater's Well just as her grandfather was covering up for her. Still he goes up to her casually and asks her if she's feeling better from her disease. Given that this is Rumiko Takahashi, this is probably intentional.
  • In My-HiME, while most of the HiMEs go to the Academy if they're not employed there, Natsuki is on the rolls but rarely attends class. Nobody makes an issue of it, since it's a School for Scheming and Natsuki's involved in chasing down her past, but in the end, when Natsuki wants to go Walking the Earth on a Journey To Find Herself, she is told quite firmly that she needs to make up all the schooling she's missed. Also, near the end, about half the students (including Student Council President Shizuru) stop attending at all, because the school's half-destroyed, the Masquerade has completely collapsed and there's essentially a war going on; around that point, the school closes and those not involved in the conflict go home.
  • In A Certain Scientific Railgun most of the characters are in school and some in boarding school but the only time we see anyone in class is during the school holidays. The sister series A Certain Magical Index shows main hero Touma occasionally getting in trouble for missing so many days of school while he's off adventuring, and there are a number of scenes of him in class or participating in school activities. Accelerator is mentioned to be "enrolled" in a school but this is mostly a cover for his activities in Academy City's "dark side". Some other school-aged characters simply ignore school because they're too busy working (usually, again, for Academy City's "dark side"), and Index doesn't go because she entered the city illegally and has no money to pay for it regardless.
  • Subverted in Soul Eater, where traveling around the world and defeating monsters is their schoolwork.
  • Dragon Ball: Videl is shown departing high school in the middle of classes to help the police with various criminals pretty often. Interestingly, this is sanctioned: the school apparently counts it as "community service" and she's a good enough student that it doesn't affect her grades. Played for Laughs with Gohan, who always uses the excuse that he has to go to the bathroom. This is eventually lampshaded by one of his teachers, who points out that he often doesn't return to class and refuses to give him permission (he taps his foot in annoyance and inadvertently causes an earthquake, allowing him to leave school anyway). Wrath of the Dragon plays with this as well, with Gohan making the same bathroom excuse, with his classmates pointing out that they already know he's the Great Saiyaman.
  • Though the heroes of Dinosaur King do attend school in a couple of episodes, somehow the Dinosaurs of the Week never appear during school hours, and on the two cases of the heroes being in school, they're on a field trip.
  • Marika in Bodacious Space Pirates is explicitly shown to be attending school while captaining the Bentenmaru, although her grades are suffering.
  • Lucia from Venus Versus Virus is Sumire's age but never goes to school. She was ostracized growing up due to her eyes so it seems she dropped out to own a clothing shop and hunt Viruses.
  • Sousuke from Full Metal Panic! often misses school for days at a time thanks to missions, which naturally does not help his worryingly low GPA. It doesn't bother him at first, since being a student is merely part of his cover, so the fact that he starts refusing orders to reconvene to Merida after a mission in order to catch an exam becomes a major indicator that he's Becoming the Mask. It's also pointed out in the penultimate volume that both Sousuke and Kaname will not only have to make up for the entire third year they missed, but also repeat their second year because they went AWOL before either of them could meet minimum attendance requirements.
  • Chainsaw Man: Denji has gone without any formal education up to the age of sixteen, presumably because the yakuza keeping him as a debt-slave scare off any truant officers. Once merging with a Devil caused him to lose all his rights, Public Safety force him to work for them, providing him with housing and food, but not any education. The last page of Part 1 shows that, after Denji left Public Safety and stepped out of Makima's shadow, he's still fighting Devils in his spare time while attending high school.
  • Child Emperor from One-Punch Man, being a ten year old, still goes to school, but it's handwaved by him being a hero and being allowed to skip school when an emergency arises (though it seems that having to skip school annoys him).

    Asian Animation 
  • The first season of BoBoiBoy takes place when the titular character goes to visit his grandfather during a school break. But just in case you missed the explanation the first time, one fan in the fan mails episode wonders why BoBoiBoy is not going to school, prompting Probe to repeat the explanation.

    Comic Books 
  • ORPHANIMO!!: averted in the first story arc, in which the orphans do go to school. Played straight in the second arc, when they start traveling the world and nobody seems to care that they are skipping school to do so.
  • Some issues of the Silver/Bronze Age Superboy series have Clark get out of class early or skip school (to deal with a threat happening during school hours) by taking advantage of his "mild-mannered" routine, such as pretending to come down with a stomachache.
  • In Scooby-Doo! Team-Up, Jefferson Pierce asks Mystery Inc. if they should be in school. Fred reveals that they graduated from high school a while ago, but are taking college courses online in their downtime between solving mysteries.

    Comic Strips 
  • Suske en Wiske: School is never mentioned. They always have spare time to go on adventure.
  • Jo, Zette and Jocko: Not implied in this comic strip either. Jo and Zette have adventures, but are never seen going to school.

    Fan Works 
  • A Diplomatic Visit: Variant in the first chapter of the fourth story, The Diplomat's Life. Princess Twilight isn't actually a student at Canterlot High School, but she's there to meet with her human friends, and at one point asks if they're missing class to see her. Human Twilight explains that it's actually Saturday, so school is closed except for special activities, and Principal Celestia said it was okay for them to be there.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe's Peter Parker, natch. In Civil War, he tells Tony that he can't go to Germany to fight Captain America because he has homework. By Homecoming, he does all his Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man stuff outside of class time, using the guise of the "Stark Internship" to keep Aunt May off his back (although he does initially leave his academic decathlon in order to keep doing Spider-Man things, later rejoining when the two coincide). And when he ditches his field trip in Infinity War to help Iron Man and Doctor Strange, he has bigger things to worry about than his teacher marking him absent. Trailers for Far From Home imply that he attempts to invert this trope, giving up being Spider-Man while on a summer trip in Europe, until Nick Fury and Mysterio start to shake things up.

  • Animorphs: The team goes to great lengths to make missions possible or delay them when they coincide with school hours, eventually asking the Chee to impersonate them when necessary.
  • Akiko on the Planet Smoo has a robotic doppelgänger take her place over the course of the adventure, since she's gone in real-time.
  • Skulduggery Pleasant has Stephanie/Valkyrie's reflection replace her in school whenever she's learning magic/saving the world. She becomes habituated to this, but over the course of the books slowly becomes increasingly uncomfortable by the realizations that 1) she's having a life as a teenager (down to her first kiss) and with her family that's coming to her secondhand, and that 2) severe overuse of this spell is making her reflection more and more like a real person who isn't quite her.
  • In The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson, it is handwaved by saying that Daniel is so smart he does not need to go to school. He avoids truancy officers by using his powers to create his mom and dad, who say that he's homeschooled.
  • Averted in the Alex Rider series. The second book opens with Alex complaining about all the make up work he has to do for the weeks of school he missed in the first book; by the end of the third book, he reflects that his classmates already think he is weird, and soon nobody will be speaking to him at all. And later in the series, after he realizes how much saving the world every few months sucks, he starts saying "Why can't I just be in school?" Naturally, every attempt to back out of his spy life just throws him in even deeper.
  • Many of Les Amis in Les Misérables are students, though they hardly ever seem to mention going to classes. However, this is more because a lot of them seem to skip their classes rather than them not existing.
  • Averted in Waking Echoes — Taylor is so busy doing advanced classes, extracurricular activities, church events, and volunteering that when she starts having Visions of Another Self from her previous life in another dimension, most people assume she has worked herself into a nervous breakdown.
  • The Saturdays, the first book in the Melendy Quartet, has the Melendys form a club to pool their resources during the week so that they can take turns going into the city on an adventure every Saturday. The entire book is thus spent dealing exclusively with what the kids do on Saturdays.
  • Lampshaded in Wizards at War, when Nita convinces her former grief counselor from school to cover for her, Kit, and Dairine when they need a few days to focus on dealing with the mysterious force threatening their universe.
  • The works of Enid Blyton and Arthur Ransome generally got around this problem by always setting the adventures in the long summer holiday, or occasionally the Christmas break. The only problem was the Comic-Book Time issue of having ten such adventures in a row, each in the next year's summer break, without the characters seeming to noticeably age. The only time schoolwork is generally mentioned are the characters talking about having to do annoying holiday essays and, interestingly specifically, when they have to use their knowledge of schoolroom French when they find themselves in a foreign country.
  • Riordanverse:
    • Four of the five books in Percy Jackson and the Olympians take place over summer break, with the third one taking place over winter break. Of those, the first two take place just after the end of the school year with some overlap, and the fourth takes place near the end of summer, with the first chapter taking place at Percy's high school orientation. Justified, as the series takes place at a summer camp, so Percy mostly doesn't do demigod things during the school year (likely at the behest of his mother). That said, there are some campers, including Percy's best friend (and later Love Interest) Annabeth, who stay at camp year round due to bad (mortal) family lives, high risk of attracting monsters, or other reasons — Percy just isn't one of them.
    • Meanwhile, the side story "Percy Jackson and the Sword of Hades" begins with Percy doing his final exams.
    • The Heroes of Olympus has the same justification, with the first book taking place over winter break and the rest during summer break. Percy begins the second book, "The Son of Neptune", with amnesia and having been teleported from New York to California six months ago. The Trials of Apollo addresses the aftermath, with Percy getting expelled from his high school for missing an entire semester.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverted in Beetleborgs; one episode involved them having to keep ducking out during class.
  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager frequently features the characters in school…they just never actually go to classes.
    • Awkward. is the same — they walk around the halls and go to the cafeteria and gym, but they never sit in a class or do any schoolwork.
      • They are shown in generic classrooms occasionally, but only if there's important dialog in the morning announcements.
  • iCarly averts the trope, with most 'home' scenes taking place on the weekend or after school, and school scenes taking place before school or after school. Occasionally they go so far as to wait until the bell rings, which clears out the set so the characters can have conversations alone. On a couple occasions, they plan out a trip based on having the weekend to do it, like in "iTake On Dingo".
  • Boy Meets World lampshades/handwaves this in one episode, despite the show not being a particularly noticeable example of this trope:
    Cory: You know we really should have taken more classes during our senior year. We have entirely way too much time on our hands.
  • Teen Wolf not only averts this Trope, but actually deconstructs what would happen if an average high schooler needed to constantly duck out of classes and miss school. The hero, Scott, was shocked to find out that he was failing most of his classes in the second season and was seriously at risk of being held back a year. Most of the cast are seen attending classes in their high school. Fortunately, the Weirdness Censor trope is in full force at the Beacon Hills High School, allowing for everything from conversations about the supernatural while in class to superhuman battles in the hallways and locker room.
  • Likewise in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy's Slayer activities sometimes lead to her either missing class, falling asleep in class, or just not having time to study. However, a lot of her antagonists are nocturnal, so that helps. She does scrape through into college, but eventually has to drop out when real life issues like caring for her little sister and working for a living are also added to her problems.
  • Surprisingly almost completely an Averted Trope in Wizards of Waverly Place. A huge chunk of the series has at least a few scenes that take place at or deals with Tribeca Prep, the "Muggle" high school the Russos attend, or WizTech, the Wizard World equivalent. And the Russos attended their wizard homeschooling (or in the case of Justin in the final season, taught wizard classes) roughly Once per Episode.
  • A college example — Billie in Charmed. It's mentioned a couple of times that she's failing a lot of classes and one episode has her missing an important test because she's been fighting a demon. It's likely she only goes to college because the sisters make her.
  • Pretty much averted in House of Anubis. There are many scenes that take place inside the school — enough that the plot may often depend on these scenes. The times when the characters do skip school, they're usually always caught, or it's lampshaded. Some fans have also pointed out that the teachers do less in school than the students do, which sort of inverts the trope.
  • Entirely subverted by the basic premise of A.N.T. Farm which almost entirely takes place at school (to the point where, in Season 3, they move to a Boarding School).
  • Likewise subverted by the entire premise of Suite Life on Deck where they're living on a floating boarding school in the form of a cruise ship.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy VIII: You have to graduate before you're allowed to adventure, since the "adventuring" is done as a member of an elite mercenary force.
  • While nobody remembers that Sora exists during the missing year in Kingdom Hearts, Riku's only excuse was being presumed missing or dead, and Kairi and Selphie do attend school.
  • It seems that most child trainers in Pokémon stay near home until they're a certain age (usually late teenagers, post-school most likely) and are seen going to school or referring to it. You are usually eleven years old and are allowed to venture off around the region, but it seems that you were either home schooled or you finished.
    • Averted in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. The Player Character is a student at the region's Academy of Adventure, and is participating in an independent study program that encourages them to roam the region and find themselves. However, you're still heavily encouraged to return for classes on occasion and some sidequests require you to progress in them first. The region's evil team is a gang of delinquents who are in danger of being expelled over their refusal to attend class at all. Though there's a small subversion in that the academy accepts people of all ages enrolling into classes of their choice, and indeed you often find adults and kids in the same classroom, so it seems to be more of a college and less like compulsory schooling.
  • Mother:
    • In EarthBound Beginnings, one NPC asks Ninten: "What happened to school? You have school, don't you?"
    • At the end of EarthBound (1994), Ness's sister Tracy says that she'll help Ness with the homework that he missed while off on his adventure. Also, when calling Ness's mom, she will occasionally remark that one of his teachers stopped by, and that she covered for him.
  • Raidou Kuzunoha wears a school uniform and is said to be a student, but never seen at school. Given Raidou is 17, the time period (~1931), in both games he is working as an apprentice and time seems to have passed in the 2nd game, he likely doesn't need to be.
  • In Bangai-O, Riki's prolonged absence from school (to defeat the Cosmo Gang with his sister Mami's help) eventually results in his health teacher tracking him down. With one of the Cosmo Gang's robots. Not that the former cares, since he's technically training to become a policeman...
  • Ni no Kuni: One NPC in Motorville actually adresses that Oliver has been missing school ever since his mother died and tells him that he should go back so he doesn't end up a vagrant.

  • The example from the Pokémon anime is inverted in Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, where Jared's parents thought of him as a failure because he actually wanted to stay in school rather than become a Pokémon trainer.
  • Averted in Modern Day Treasure Seekers, as the kids sneak out at night when they have time to go adventuring, and it does seem to affect them. Cade even complains of having school the next day, and ends up very tired as a result of staying up so late.
  • Averted in Sleepless Domain, because the MGSI, who runs a school for the Magical Girls to attend, specifically accommodates their 'night job' by hosting school later in the day to make up for the girls having to be up till at least two a.m. fighting monsters. In fact, classes are held at Future's Promise every day (though that is mainly so they can keep tabs on the girls in case any go missing like Cassidy.

    Western Animation 
  • Abby Hatcher has never attended school once, though she mentions her "first day of school" in one episode, implying she does go, just not onscreen.
  • Big City Greens never shows and very rarely mentions that Cricket, Tilly and Remy attend school. If the plot needs children to gather somewhere, it's at the park or community center. Word of God says that the show takes place on weeknights, weekends or summer break, since they felt as though childhood really is encompassed outside of school. One episode even mentions a random family Tilly encounters has their children home-schooled.
  • The children of Craig of the Creek attend school, but episodes always take place after class is out. This is highlighted in "Doorway to Helen", where it turns out one Homeschooled Kid comes to the Creek during school hours and has no idea anyone else hangs out there—when she starts a correspondence with Craig, both of them think they live in different dimensions.
  • Devlin: Ernie, Tod, and Sandy are all full-time students who only work the circus in the summer.
  • The titular character in Doc McStuffins occasionally mentions school, but has never been seen attending.
  • The first four seasons of Ed, Edd n Eddy takes place during summer vacation. After the series is Un-Canceled, the post-cancellation episodes have all the characters back in school and take place during the fall and winter.
  • Fancy Nancy never shows or directly mentions that Nancy and her friends attend school, falling into an example similar to Big City Greens. However, in the books the series was based on, the titular character is shown attending school quite frequently.
  • Kaeloo: The characters, or at least Stumpy, apparently go to school, just not onscreen.
  • Phineas and Ferb goes even further, since the only reason for their actions is that it's summer, except of course for the other holiday break episodes and the Halloween Episode.
  • South Park: Along with deconstructing what it would be like for three eight-year-old boys to watch one of their closest friends die, "Kenny Dies" actually addresses all the school days Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman presumably (considering how much time they spend in places like Canada, California, Iraq, Peru, Imaginationland and Afghanistan) miss, revealing that they oftentimes cut class to go on their adventures and that this is something they do get punished for.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: After Marco completed his first year of high school, he spent about a year in-universe living in Mewni without any formal education. This is acknowledged when he runs into his high school's faculty back on Earth, and Marco preempts any possible claims of truancy by pointing out he earned a GEDnote . Though he was apparently planning to go back to high school after the summer regardless.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: SHIELD has embedded Agent Coulson as the principal at Midtown High, so that if Spidey's SHIELD-operated hero team needs to be sent on a mission during school hours, Coulson can just send them to "detention."
  • The Weekenders never shows the characters' school, because all the action takes place on... well... the weekend. School is frequently mentioned, however, and their gym teacher is a supporting character.

Examples played straight:

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Chocotto Sister, Choko's school attendance, or lack thereof, is never mentioned. It possibly is justified by her Undead Tax Exemption, but never onscreen or in the manga.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • In Stardust Crusaders, Jotaro and Kakyoin are both 17-years-old students and are explicitly shown going to school in the beginning, however it seems to not stop them for going on a really long travel from Japan to Egypt to defeat a vampire and his horde. Somewhat justified with Jotaro since his mom's life is at stake and he's sort of a delinquent, but more jarring with Kakyoin who, judging by his dying thoughts, didn't even warn his parents about going to Egypt!
    • In Golden Wind, Giorno is shown to be living at a boarding school early in the part. The second he and Bruno's gang depart to look for Polpo's treasure, it's never brought up again. Granted, the whole part only takes place over the course of one week, but that would still be one heck of a truancy.
  • Ranma ˝: Ryouga, Shampoo, and Mousse only come to school to hassle Ranma, never to attend class. The latter two are immigrants (of questionable legal status) and nominally-nonpermanent residents from a very rural area of China, but no one questions Ryoga going from middle school to Walking the Earth, though he'd have trouble keeping to it if he tried. Ranma and Ukyo attend high school after they enter the story, but were implied to have taken long absences for training before.

    Comic Books 
  • For a long time after escaping from their evil parents, none of the Runaways attended school, even when most of them were still under 16. They reluctantly agreed to enroll Molly and Klara in a home-schooling program based on the curriculum at Avengers Academy, in exchange for not getting their hideouts raided by The Avengers every few months.
  • Jommeke: Jommeke and his friends are often seen going to school, but when an adventure takes place they travel away without any problem. It's not even addressed.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Back to the Future, Marty McFly is only seen at school towards the beginning. First being chastised by Principal Strickland for arriving late and being an alleged slacker, and afterwards, being rejected from his school's Battle of the Bands competition. It's somewhat justified by him spending most of all three movies in different time periods. He does go to school at least once to try to get his parents together, and when he finds George after convincing him to ask Loraine to the dance, Marty asks why he wasn't at school that day. And he likely just stayed hiding at Doc Brown's home during most of the other school hours, since Doc, upon being convinced Marty was from the future, told him not to go out and talk to others to avoid making drastic changes in time.

  • Played straight in most Nancy Drew series. Nancy's boyfriend Ned and his friends Burt and Dave are in college, but eighteen-year-old Nancy and her best friends Bess and George are high school graduates who never really even discuss the idea of going to college, or any sort of career plans... except in the short-lived Nancy Drew on Campus series, in which the college setting was the whole point. This made perfect sense in the earlier books, as in 1930 it would be more unusual for affluent young women to go to university or enter the workforce, but in the current Nancy Drew, Girl Detective series, which was launched in 2004, it's still never explained why Nancy, George, and Bess aren't enrolled in post-secondary education or planning for some sort of career. Nancy very occasionally takes courses, and she frequently works, whether it's a paid job, an internship, or a volunteer position, but these are always temporary things that last for the plot of one book and are never expected to lead to a degree or a career path. And yet her lawyer father hopes to someday rename his firm to "Drew and Daughter".
  • In Hoot, middle-school-aged Mullet Fingers (né Napoleon Bridger Leep) was sent to military school by his overbearing mother for being somewhat of a Wild Child. He runs away from military school, travels back to his Florida hometown and lives in the woods with only occasional contact with his sister.

    Live-Action TV 
  • H₂O: Just Add Water has an episode called "The Siren Effect" where Cleo mentions that it's a Wednesday. She's having a sleepover that night as well — which means that her parents must be very lenient or they're on half-term.
  • The eponymous heroine of Hannah Montana goes on tour for weeks at a time, and engages in activities and publicity stunts during school hours, such as reading to a group of preschoolers. Yet, as regular old Miley Stewart, she attends a public school and her absences are never referenced, nor do they arouse the suspicion of anyone at school. In the fourth and final season, however, Miley gets to see her best friend Lilly attend a California University she had been planning to attend all of her life, while Miley is rejected as she hadn't participated in enough school activities because she had to work as Hannah. She only seems to be accepted in after she reveals her secret identity to the whole world. In Real Life, celebrity children often have their lessons filled in by "studio teachers" while they're in the middle of large projects that can't conform to regular school schedules. Not really applicable here since Hannah is Miley's "Secret Identity" only known to her immediate family and closest friends.
  • Apparently in Relic Hunter Sydney Fox was a university professor who supposedly taught classes. How she managed to avoid being fired for her tendency to drop everything and go off to a remote part of the world to search for an ancient relic is still a mystery.
  • For alleged high school students (and later college students), the main characters of Smallville spend remarkably little time in class. Lana even buys and runs a coffee shop while still in school, and appears to be the only employee as well.
  • Particularly egregious in Kamen Rider Fourze. Despite the entire plot being centered around the school, the main characters are almost never in class. On more than one occasion, the main characters have sprinted out the door in the middle of class, to receive no more punishment than a disapproving look, and about halfway through the series, the characters were only ever shown in class if a teacher had a significant announcement or if Dustards or Zodiarts were about to burst though the windows.
  • There are a few scenes in the town's high school early in the first season of Twin Peaks, but the trope is played increasingly straight as the show goes on and the school-aged characters feel free to investigate murders, play house in the home of their comatose cousin, carry out wacky blackmail schemes, and take long road trips to console battered spouses without apparent concern for missing school. Becomes especially apparent when a second-season subplot takes place largely in the high school, confirming that class is indeed in session, but several of the characters that really should be there are conspicuously elsewhere.
  • After the first few episodes of Season One of The Vampire Diaries, students at Mystic Falls High School never seem to attend class (other than History) or have homework or even go into the school building unless it's for one of the school's random super-cool parties. Lampshaded by Elena. "You know, school? That thing we keep forgetting about?"
  • In LazyTown, Stephanie, Ziggy, Pixel, Stingy, and Trixie are Free-Range Children who spend most of their days playing outside and exploring instead of attending school. They're also also explicitly stated not to be on summer vacation, since there are episodes that take place in winter, and another with the title "The First Day of Summer." What makes it even weirder is that there are two episodes in the whole show, Season Two's "School Scam" and Season Four's "Time to Learn," that do take place in a classroom, and everyone acts as if they've been going to school all along, even though it's never been mentioned before. "Time to Learn" is explicitly stated to be the last day of school, too. It doesn't help that there are exactly four adults in the whole town, and while Bessie Busybody is the teacher in "Time to Learn," she doesn't show up in "School Scam" at all, Mayor Meanswell is the principal, Sportacus is explicitly shown not to be the teacher, and Robbie assumes a substitute professor disguise for the day. The only other reference to education is a Lazytown Extra segment in which Stingy rushes through his homework.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: Though Anne Boonchuy has attended school prior to being transported to Amphibia, she was never seen going back to school during her return to Earth in S3.
  • Done quite blatantly in Kim Possible, where Kim is explicitly shown to skip school to complete a mission, but is rarely called on it since she still manages to get all A's and can still head the cheerleading squad (and a thousand other activities.)
    • Though she also drags Ron along with her, who's shown to be far less successful. Everyone knowing that he helps Kim "save the world" on a regular basis doesn't grant him any special treatment either.
    • Her parents once said they don't like her saving the world on a school night, and in one episode her brothers threatened to tell their parents that she blew off her biology test to save a village from a tidal wave the previous week.
    • Expressly justified for Wade — he's a genius who's already finished school up through college.
  • In Legion of Super Heroes (2006), nobody there goes to school. Alright, they could all have graduated as most are in their late teenage years, but in a flashback where they are shown in their uniforms, they all look about twelve or so. Are there no schools in the future?
    • We are told in the original comics that 14 year olds are considered adult by at least some planets in that future with the implication that this is common.
    • Also, many early Legion comics featured "Slice of Life" panels before the main story started, some of which showed Legion members either attending school or having tutors teach them while in their downtime.
  • In LoliRock, when Iris asks Aunt Ellen to let Talia and Auriana stay in their home, she comes up with the lie that they're exchange students, which Ellen buys. And despite being of schooling age, none of the girls are shown to be attending school. Though with The Reveal of Ellen's true identity in Season 2, it could be that she already knew who they really were and is playing along to keep her true heritage a secret from Iris.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: The gang is still in high school, but cuts class frequently.
    Freddie: It looks like a mystery to me, and I think that's just a little more important than school.
  • Lampshaded in The Simpsons episode "Maximum Homerdrive", where Bart joins Homer on a cross country road trip.
    Homer: Don't you have school?
    Homer: Ah, Touché.

Mixed examples (to be sorted if anyone shows a blanket example that validates those without excuses):

    Anime and Manga 
  • Some 90% of the cast of Bakuten Shoot Beyblade are teens and preteens, yet there are only two times, three if we stretch it, their current education is addressed. After not going to school for the whole of Season 1, Season 2 starts with Takao and Kyōju in school, and Hiromi is introduced to the main cast on account of being their classmate. Kai is later revealed to be off to Boarding School, which introduces his classmate Yūya for a plotline later on. It all lasts for 12 episodes, and then no one goes to school anymore. Another mention occurs in the first season regarding Giancarlo, who is introduced while sneaking away from his private lessons about to start. Similarly, Zeo in the second season is shown to get violin lessons from his valet, which opens the possibility he gets private lessons in other subjects too. Then there are various characters for whom it's not hard to theorize how their education works, but that's only theorizing and still leaves plenty of character that just... don't seem to get an education at all. Since then, Rising has addressed these issues too, but just as ambiguously. In the fifth chapter, Daichi has been made to study harder by his mother because his grades have been slipping. Needless to say, he's never been shown to go to school before, but here he gets a private tutor in the form of Hitoshi. And Kyōju speaks of preparing for his high school entrance exams in the second special chapter, which is a new kind of concern of his.
  • Digimon loves this trope, being that it consistently stars characters who are still public school age:
    • Averted in Adventure, as it takes place during summer vacation on top of Year Inside, Hour Outside being in full effect, allowing the entire series to take place over the course of half a week in August.
    • Also averted in Adventure 02. During the first half of the Kaiser arc, the kids only do their adventuring after classes, since the computer they use to get into the Digital World is in the school's computer lab. Once summer vacation starts, they decide that this is their chance to stop the Kaiser once and for all, and have the older kids stage a camping trip so that they can stay in the Digital World for several days without their parents noticing. Once school starts up, they go back to Monster of the Week after-school adventures until winter break, when the plot starts moving again. This is also around the time that they start to let their parents in on what's going on. The series' final battle takes place on or shortly before New Years'.
    • Invoked in Tamers, as the characters literally walk out of school to go to the Digital World, and their teacher is understandably deeply concerned about these well-behaved children suddenly becoming truants.
    • Goes back to being averted in Frontier, as outside of flashbacks, only the very beginning and end of the series is in the real world, with pretty much everything occurring in the Digital World. This incarnation of the Digital World is also Year Inside, Hour Outside, with their return at the end of the show revealing they've only been gone for ten minutes.
    • In Data Squad, while it's implied that Touma has graduated from college and Yoshino is a legal adult (and thus both would be working with DATS full time), Masaru and Chika seem never to go to school toward the end. Meanwhile, Ikuto at least had an excuse, what with having been raised in the digital world.
    • Fusion is similar to FrontierYear Inside, Hour Outside is in effect, so while the story begins during the school semester, school is a non-issue because practically no time has passed. The sequel plays similarly to Adventure 02 and Savers, in that they generally learn of the problems during the school day and do something about them during breaks or after hours; it also exaggerates it slightly, in that some incidents have happened while they are in class.
    • Digimon Universe: App Monsters only features one character attending school, though most of the events seem to take place after school hours or during breaks from school.
    • Zig-Zagged in Digimon Ghost Game. The setting takes place at an Academy of Adventure and two of the protagonists are shown to attend class; Teen Genius Kiyoshiro on the other hand already has a Master's degree and is exempt from actually attending class as a result. He only "attends" school because he's an otaku who wanted the authentic Japanese school experience like in his manga, and as a result he's saddled with things the other two can't do during weekdays like investigating the Monster of the Week or babysitting Gammamon.
  • Nabari no Ou: Played completely straight in Miharu and Raimei's cases — Miharu in particular misses at least two months of school after using the Shinrabanshouand when he comes back home, his grandmother is just happy he's making friends. It's averted by Yoite, who never attended school to begin with, and later by Gau when it's mentioned that he ended up dropping out. It's justified in Kouichi and Shijima's cases because they're not actually kids.
  • Pokémon: The Series: Despite a year seemingly passing between Ash's start of his journey and the short Pikachu and Pichu that was aired alongside Pokémon 3: Spell of the Unown, Ash still remains ten and the concept of required schooling is never brought up. Downplayed during his trip in the Alola Region, where he enrolls in the local school though he does so via his own volition.
    • There exist certain schools dedicated toward Pokémon training as seen throughout the series, where one can further their understanding or even gain entry to a League via high marks. Most notably is the aforementioned Pokémon School in Alola which acts as the primary setting of the season.
    • There exists regular schooling for children as acknowledged by Max (who himself is allowed to follow his sister across two regions, so the trope is still played straight for him) and shown by Chloe Cerise who unlike her friend Goh, who is technically enrolled but only shows up for mandatory testing, still attends regularly. When a child reaches their tenth birthday they have the opportunity to become a Pokémon Trainer, but otherwise they can continue with normal academia.
    • Pokémon Horizons: The Series averts it as Liko and Roy attend online classes via their Rotom phones.

    Comic Books 
  • Monica's Gang: The main cast is rarely seen at school or doing related activities, with most of their stories happening at the nearby field or in their houses. It is even pointed out by a character once, to which Magali (Maggy) responds that all of their stories happen during their breaks. Averted with Chico Bento (Chuck Billy)'s stories, which often happen at school and are largely related to it.

    Comic Strips 
  • Nero: Petoetje and Petatje often want to go on adventure along with the adults, but are told to go to school. Sometimes they do travel along with them by sneaking aboard on the ship or plane that takes them to another country. Other times they travel alone. Adhemar, a five year old boy genius, is always at school, but as a professor rather than a pupil. Nevertheless he does skip classes whenever he needs to go on adventure or save his family and friends. Often just by ending his lesson there and now.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Indiana Jones: On the other side, Archaeology class with Dr. Jones. Easy class, or easiest class? Is there a 15-minute rule or do the students just not bother showing up at all? Lampshaded in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:
    Mutt: You're a... teacher?
    Indy: Part-time.
  • Most characters in Brick don't even bother with a handwave being that they are criminals/drug dealers though, this is Truth in Television. The protagonist Brenden, though, gets an aversion since he has specifically asked the Vice Principal to try to keep the heat off of him while he unravels a crime.
  • You can count on one hand the number of times any of the college student protagonists in The Skulls trilogy are seen in class or studying. Quite glaring in Luke's (the hero of the first film) case, as he's pre-law.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alias: Sidney Bristow sure spends a lot of time trying to save the world during her spy activities that involve jetting all over the planet and is still somehow in Grad School working on an English degree, something that would probably take as much of her time as a full-time job. The writers must have realized how ridiculous this seemed because they quickly resolve this subplot in the second season and don't refer back to it again.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: Sure they're in school, and sure, they go to class when the plot calls for it, but there are many examples where they are some how able to spend the entire day out of school and doing whatever they need to be doing for the topic of the class — and the teachers involved in the plot never mark them as skipping? (One example was the episode where Ned and Moze were dealing with a pair of sneakers in the Lost and Found, Ned wanting them, Moze wanting to return them, and they had the whole day to themselves to deal with the problem, never showing to class once.) Amusingly semi-lampshaded when there's a dramatic moment in the hall, (hostage exchange, etc. — hey, it's that kind of show) a teacher or hall monitor will walk past, ask "Do you have hall passes?" and the action pauses while all the students hold up passes, then go right back to the drama.
  • Glee takes place almost entirely in school and characters do go to classes... but apparently they meet for Glee Club in the beginning of school, after school, during school, once a week, on Thursdays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, in the middle of the day, right before lunch, right after lunch, and during lunch. That's not even counting all of the times that various pairs of students have the choir room all to themselves in order to rehearse for Glee.
  • Veronica Mars is uneven in its treatment of this trope. Veronica handles cases during school hours, and manages to spend a lot of time at school digging up dirt on people rather than attending class. However, she frequently gripes about cases and consultations making her late for class, and on occasion the guidance counselor brought her spotty attendance record to light. And yet she still had the second highest GPA in her class. Her vice principal once gave her three days off so she could go undercover at a rival school.
  • The Disney Channel miniseries As The Bell Rings subverted this, as it took place between passing periods. The main characters would meet in the hallways during said periods, and have to leave quickly at the warning bell.
  • Power Rangers, when the kids are teens and not young adults, has a fifty-fifty chance of either averting this trope or playing it straight.
    • For some reason Rita Repulsa would spy on the Power Rangers during school hours, but wouldn't send down a monster during school hours. This actually covered all bases; once they had to sneak out during detention and a few times they disappeared (and no one noticed). However, school became less important as time went on, and by Power Rangers in Space barely any time was shown there even though they even went to the trouble of enrolling the guy from another planet (and how they fit it in with traipsing all over the galaxy, we don't know).
    • Power Rangers: Dino Thunder, Megaforce, and Ninja Steel all follow Mighty Morphin's lead and make use of their school settings. Dino Thunder even had The Mentor be their biology teacher and The Dragon masquerade as the principal, and the premiere saw class interrupted by a mecha attack.
    • In Power Rangers Wild Force, the Rangers were either able to fit part-time school or jobs in around their superheroics (like Alyssa's college studies or Danny working as a florist) or they weren't (Taylor went AWOL from the Air Force and Max abandoned pro bowling training; it's not clear if the latter was attending school as well but certainly dropped out if he did).
    • Power Rangers Ninja Storm is a toss-up, depending on whether you think they fit ninja training and extreme sports hobbies in after normal school, or just attended a Ninja School in the first place. It's never made clear which is the case.
    • Power Rangers Mystic Force played this entirely straight; the Rangers are certainly young enough that they should be attending but school is never mentioned.
    • Justified in Power Rangers Samurai, where the Rangers cut ties with their normal lives (with their families' blessing and cooperation) to deal with the threat; it's even mentioned that Mike missed his graduation because of it. The Sixth Ranger, who has no such family support, must have dropped out or graduated himself because he makes a living as a fisherman.

    Video Games 
  • Played straight with Persona and Persona 2 where school is completely irrelevant to the party, especially Eternal Punishment where the party mostly consists of mostly adults. Averted with 3, 4, and 5 as the party still attends high school while going through a supernatural adventure.

  • Homestuck provides the page quote. The four 13-year-old kid heroes have skills like computer programming and novel writing that suggest formal education, but school is never mentioned, nor is there any indication that they have offline social lives. Jade has a valid excuse, as she lives on a small island in the South Pacific, but the other kids are subject to US law. Mom is rich enough that Rose might have private tutors, Bro might not care much about Dave's attendance or grades, but John would almost certainly be in public school. Likewise, the guardians seem to have "Friends" Rent Control explained by their involvement with the Ancient Conspiracy. Hussie's Shrug of God basically said "I don't think it's relevant enough to provide a canon explanation so the fandom can go with whatever".
    • One interpretation offers a justification or even aversion: most of the events that take place on Earth span only a few hours in-story, starting at 4:13PM Pacific Daylight Time for John, 6:13PM Central Daylight Time for Dave, and 7:13PM Eastern Daylight Time for Rose, so they could have attended school and then come home for the evening. It's early afternoon for Jade, but she's the enforced case anyway. It all becomes moot given that shortly after the Kids enter the Medium, all civilization on Earth is wiped out, so any schools they might have attended have been destroyed.
    • Averted with the Alpha Kids. Dirk and Roxy live in a post-apocalyptic future in which they are the only remaining humans, so they couldn't go to school even if they wanted to—ditto for Jake, who lives on a remote island like Jade. Jane is poised to inherit the Betty Crocker fortune and has been getting death threats, so it's entirely plausible she's tutored at home...and at any rate the scenes on Earth take place on a federal holiday.
  • Lampshaded in Cucumber Quest. Cucumber doesn't want to go on an adventure because he'll have to miss school. His dad brushes him off with "When's the last time you heard of a legendary hero going to school?" Possibly played straight with his younger sister Almond, who's accompanying him on his quest.

    Western Animation 
  • In Teen Titans, this applies to pretty much every teen hero, and it's only made more noticeable when you realize that the H.I.V.E. Five were actively enrolled in school, albeit one for super-powered villains. A pass could be made for Raven and most of the others, as they have odd powers and would likely not be welcome in a public school environment, with Cyborg mentioning at one point that he couldn't finish high school because of the event that made him into a cyborg. But what about Robin or Speedy?
  • Largely averted in Young Justice, where school attendance forms part of the plot of some episodes such as Miss Martian's and Superboy's first day at school, or Artemis being threatened with the curtailment of her "extracurriculars" if she doesn't do well in class. Subtly lampshaded in one episode, when the battleground of the week turns out to be the gym at Robin's school. (Apparently, Robin goes to school.)
  • Undergrads takes place during the protagonists' first year of college. Lampshaded at the end of the series.
  • An odd example that is both played straight and not (and sometimes lampshaded) all for the Rule of Funny is The Powerpuff Girls. When the Mayor calls, they will sometimes be at their kindergarten and have to leave in the middle of some activity... usually through the roof of the building.
    Teacher, may we please be excused to save the world?
  • Rick and Morty addresses this in the first episode, with Morty's parents angry about how Rick constantly drags Morty out of school for adventures. Rick considers school a waste of time, believing (and convincing Morty's parents) that hanging out with Rick is significantly more educational than the actual school system. The second episode dips into it, with Rick "incepting" Morty's math teacher to have him give Morty good grades regardless of Morty's attendance.
  • With Codename: Kids Next Door, this seems very much Depending on the Writer. The heroes do go to classes, and their school can often be vital to the whole plot of an episode. Other times, they seem to have the day off for no explained reason. One rather hilarious aversion was in "Operation: F.L.U.S.H.", where Mr. Boss, Mr. Wink and Mr. Fibb, and the Crazy Cat Lady took over the Treehouse while the team was at school, only to be beaten up by the Toilenator (who they had gotten rid of by telling him to get coffee), who mistook them for the team in disguise. Leading to this:
    Toilenator: I did it! I defeated the Kids Next Door! And I did it all before three... (Beat) o'clock? Hey... Shouldn't you kids be in school?
    (The real team appears on the balcony, looking very angry)
    Numbuh One: We just got out of class.
    Numbuh Four: And you're just in time for an after-school special butt-kicking, toilet-face!
    Toilenator: Wha...(Looks around.) Oh... This... this is horrible! I forgot to bring the coffee!
    (Fade to black as the heroes close in on him.)
  • The Davincibles: Pablo and Zoë do attend High School when not adventuring, but it never seems to interfere with them traveling the world with their uncle.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Steven is never shown at school, no matter the season, and has never had a formal education. Until he met Connie, he doesn't even know what a school is. Considering he reads and writes with zeal, it is implied that his dad and the Gems take responsibility for his education, even though his training with the Gems doesn't resemble school.
    • Connie, meanwhile, does attend school. When summer break ends, she has less time to spend with Steven as she is attending class and studying.
    • The school schedules for the other youth of Beach City are less clear. Several of them help out at (family-owned) restaurants, and are present working there even when Steven visits in the middle of the day. Sadie and Lars are particularly confusing as they've run the Big Donut by themselves for multiple years; Lars is specified as still being in high school, and while Sadie may have graduated, it isn't clear if she attends college or not.
  • DuckTales (2017): Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby aren't ever shown attending school, with the only mention of school in the entire series being Donald sharing a picture of Huey at a school football game in the first episode. Webby is explicitly mentioned as rarely leaving the mansion grounds prior to the series, and most likely homeschooled by her grandmother, but Donald doesn't seem to have the time (or competence) to do the same for the triplets. According to Word of God, the kids are all homeschooled by Scrooge and Mrs. Beakley since moving in to McDuck Manor.