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The B Grade

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"That proves it, ma'am... We all have different thresholds of pain!"
"A-minus?! My life is flashing before my eyes!"
Gretchen Grundler, Recess

A straight-A student has just received a report card... along with some distressing news: there is a B in one subject. This makes the student disappointed at having their perfect record tarnished, while others wonder what the big deal is since they'd usually be content to get a B. When they truly understand how upset the person in question is, there usually is a pep talk reminding them how great they are and offering An Aesop about how an occasional stumble is nothing to be ashamed of. Their overreaction is often caused by an Education Mama. It can be justified for a Scholarship Student if the scholarship is contingent upon keeping grades high.

Frequently this trope happens with grades of "A-" as well.

A case of Truth in Television, as anyone who has seen high school A.P./I.B. students receiving their grades can attest. With the onset of the Internet and teachers posting grade updates online, this usually happens well before the report card actually arrives. Also pops up in Video Games with end-of-level ranking systems, especially when multiple scores are given across an entire stage; ending with twelve S-Ranks and one A-Rank means an A-Rank for the entire stage.

The bane of The Perfectionist. If someone else got a higher grade, it can be a case of Second Place Is for Losers and if it happens often it can become a case of Always Second Best. What Do You Mean, It's Not Heinous? is often the character's response to "It's just a 'B.'" If your character isn't bright enough to be traumatized by this trope, then perhaps they'll balk at their F--. On the other hand, if even a B is too high of a grade for them to be happy, see Deliberate Under-Performance.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Played for drama in Assassination Classroom's first term finals — everyone expects Karma to ace Math as that's his best subject, but his tendency to not truly listen to the lessons bites him when he gets an B+ (quite a bit below his midterm A+). After this, he cleans up his act and places much higher for the next major tests of the year.
  • Played with in the first OVA to Cardcaptor Sakura. Syaoran is nervous about his grades, and opens his report card. He is relieved to find that he's gotten a B- (or the equivalent thereof) in Japanese (which is his worst subject, because it's not his native language). However, he doesn't show his grades to his mother until she prompts him to do so.
  • In Death Note, Mello is the second-highest-ranking student at Wammy's House, but all that matters is that he's not the first.
  • Digimon Adventure 02 offers something of an inversion - during his time under the influence of the Dark Seed, Ken Ichijouji was an excellent student who regularly topped his class in tests. After undergoing a HeelĖFace Turn, his test results drop somewhat, and while he himself is quite shocked if aware of what's going on, his classmates are thorougly confused and concerned.
  • Ojamajo Doremi: In the very first scene of Sharp, Hazuki has a terrible reaction to getting exactly one "Try harder" mark. This doesn't affect the overall plot, however.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets: Fuutarou Uesugi can't help but be somewhat disappointed when, during the final exams, he doesn't get full 100 scores like he usually does, partly owed to his helping the Nakanos. His grades are still pretty high (over the 80s, and the teachers know he could have scored higher hadn't he been too tired to leave a few questions unanswered.
  • This is Ami's great fear in Sailor Moon. Aliens coming to take all the energy out of their bodies? Ami's on it. Yandere not quite over the heroine's Love Interest and will stop at nothing to Murder the Hypotenuse? Not a problem. Mad Oracle from the future manipulating a prince into doing his bidding, and eventually goes after Crystal Tokyo's princess? No problem. An A-minus on her final? Ami's crushed.
  • In Silver Spoon, obsessive student Hachiken Yugo achieves the best overall grades in his entire high school - but he isn't the #1 top student in any one class or subject, so he still feels like he hasn't reached his full potential.
  • Takopi's Original Sin: Azuma's mother puts immense pressure on him to get perfect grades like his brother, despite ranking fairly high. She browbeats him whenever he gets a few points short of 100, and when he comes home with the first low score in a while, he's emotionally devastated and she gives up on him entirely.
  • Time Guardian has Miu get a bad grade on a psychics test because she was adjusting her watch. This sets off the whole plot of the story.
  • In The World God Only Knows, Keima Katsuragi gets upset on the very rare occasions when he gets less than a perfect score; not because he cares about the test itself, but because he has a deal with his teachers that let him play his Dating Sim games in class so long as he aces his tests.
  • Zatch Bell! also plays it straight when the Teen Genius Takamine receives - horrors! - 70 percent on a history test, when before he was able to get full marks on everything without trying. Justified because whilst he may be a genuinely smart Shōnen hero, he's also skipping class and missing stuff because he has to heal up after his battles.

    Fan Works 
  • In Fred's section of 5 Times Hiro Hamada Still Had an Older Sibling, 1 Time He Was a Little Brother, Hiro's going through this, being extremely upset about "not doing as well as I wanted" AKA getting a 92 on his first college exam. Slightly justified given that Hiro graduated high school at 13 and thus is probably used to getting perfect grades on everything; this ends up leading to a heartwarming moment when Fred praises him warmly for doing so well.
  • Subverted in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality when Harry scores EE+ (essentially a B plus) on his Defence exam. Since he's led (mock) armies all year, with so much success that the other armies had to gang up to beat him, he questions this with Professor Quirrell — who tells him that it's the same grade he himself received, ie he's marked Harry as his equal.
  • In The New Retcons, Elly asks her daughter April why she got a couple of A-minuses on her report card, wondering why they weren't all straight-As. Later, she harasses her about getting a B on one test despite how her overall grade in that class is still an A.
  • Universe Falls: During the "confession" scene in "Society of the Blind Eye", Connie's secret is that she once got an A- in science and kept it a secret from her mother, because Dr. Maheswaran puts so much pressure on Connie to succeed academically.

    Films — Animation 
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: During a parent-teacher conference, Miles' parents are initially happy by his numerous "A"s in Physics, Art, and English, but get upset by a "B" in Spanish (particularly because his mother is a Puerto Rican and a native speaker). They get even more angry when they hear it's because he skipped several classes (since he was out protecting the city as Spider-Man, not that he could tell them that).
  • Turning Red: Meilin Lee starts out as an overachiever, and is shown handing over her "A+" test results to her mother in the beginning. After she gains the ability to transform to red panda and acts out, however, she implicitly begins to neglect her studies; a Freeze-Frame Bonus in the scene where Ming discovers the stash under Meilin's bed shows two test papers with a "B+" and a "C-" in them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 2:37, Marcus freaks when he learns the score on his science test is 87%. He goes to his teacher Mrs. Jacobs and frantically demands that she go back over his test and find 3 extra marks. She closes the door in his face. Marcus responds by slamming his head against the door in frustration.
  • In 3 Idiots, Chatur can't stand coming up second in exams to Rancho.
  • In the classic John Hughes film, The Breakfast Club, Brian panics pretty severely (contemplating suicide) after realizing a B is the highest grade he can pull off in his shop class as the result of a failed project. This was mostly because his parents were putting too much pressure on him getting perfect grades.
  • Get Smart sees Max asserting his superiority over Agent 99—a legendary agent with far, far more field experience than Max does—on the basis that, on the written exam, he scored 8 points higher than 99 had; 8 points, he insists, are the difference between an A+ and an A-.
  • In When Evil Calls, one overachieving student is so freaked out by the prospect of getting a B that he commits suicide by driving pencils up his nose into his brain.

  • In Alice, Girl from the Future, it's mentioned that the last time model student Mila Rutkevich cried, it was because of an assistant teacher who didn't know her and gave her a four (B-equivalent in the Soviet/Russian grading system) for her essay.
  • In The Amy Virus, the Butts hold all three of their daughters to extremely high standards and are dismayed when their youngest starts bringing home B minuses.
  • Animorphs has a minor example—some Power Incontinence happens to make it look like Rachel is suicidal, and her vice principal brings up her slipping grades as another sign that something may be wrong in her life. She's still getting an A-average, but barely. (Which is pretty good, given the circumstances).
  • In The Fowl Files from Artemis Fowl it's mentioned that Artemis was once mortified to get a 99.9% on something (or something like 99.9%)
  • One of the stories in Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul is based around this. Of course, the girl in question was upset because she knew her father was going to beat her when she brought home the straight A and 1 B report card. Yeah...
  • Played straight in the comedy Choke. The pretty young "doctor" at Vic's mother's mental institution is actually a patient: a medical student who suffered a nervous breakdown after receiving her first B.
  • Discussed in Con el Diablo en los Talones when narrator Desi talks about his classmate Camilo, the high school's not-so-unofficial Insufferable Teen Genius:
    I was sure that if his grades ever went down from A's to B's (unlikely), he would set fire to himself at the basketball court.
  • In Counting to D, Nate's overachieving friends all made fun of him when he got a B+ on an English paper last semester.
  • In Dear Mr. Henshaw, Leigh gets an A minus on his Ways To Amuse A Dog assignment in fifth grade. His teacher says the minus is for not standing on both feet.
  • Harry Potter:
    • When discussing Boggarts, shapeshifters which take the form of one's worst fear, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Ron sarcastically suggests that Hermione's Boggart would be a homework paper she got nine out of ten on. Becomes a Brick Joke when she has trouble on a Defense Against the Dark Arts "obstacle course", where a Boggart transformed into Professor McGonagall, who told her she failed everything. This causes her to get a B-equivalent in Defence Against The Dark Arts, making that class the only one where Harry beat her in that year's exams.
    • Plus, in Half-Blood Prince when the gang gets the results of their O.W.L. Exams, Ron notes that Hermione got the top grade in everything except Defence Against the Dark Arts, wherein she got the B-equivalent in the only class Harry got an A-equivalent in.
      "You're actually disappointed, aren't you?"
    • Justified with Harry; he gets the B-equivalent grade in Potions, and since Snape will only take A-equivalent student into his advanced class, it means he wouldn't be able to become an Auror. Luckily for Harry, Snape became Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts (on which Harry DID get the A-equivalent) and the new teacher is more lenient. It's also worth noting that Snape was apparently not allowed to enforce this rule when it came to teaching the N.E.W.T.-level Defence class (possibly because students wouldn't have been warned in advance of that requirement), as Hermione was allowed to take the class as well.
  • The Langoliers: Craig Toomy had a rather uncompromising father who had this attitude toward grades. An A minus resulted in a lecture "fraught with dire warnings of what life would be like digging ditches or emptying garbage cans". For a B, he got grounded for a week, with his father explicitly screaming that "B is for Bum!". It goes partway towards explaining why he's such a monster.
  • In Little Town On The Prairie, Laura despairs that she has not made one perfect grade in her school examinations (her history grade is "only" 99 and arithmetic is 92 plus).
  • David from The Monster Garden worries that his dad doesn't think he's as good as his two older brothers. He could barely look his dad in the eye after he came in second in physics last term.
  • My Dark Vanessa: Vanessa remembers walking into her dorm room to see Jenny crying in bed because she got an 88.
  • In Terra, Fthfth obsesses over the two occasions when she only got one star after her grade, instead of two.
  • Chloe from Unidentified Suburban Object has gotten nothing but As since kindergarten, with one exception: her sixth grade English teacher, Mr. Dombrowski, once gave her a B- on a personal narrative essay. Chloe is still furious at him.
  • "What Teachers Make" by the teacher and poet Taylor Mali:
    You want to know what I make?
    I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
    I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional Medal of Honor and I can make an A- feel like a slap in the face:
    "How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best?"

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Pete & Pete: Ellen gets a B in Driver's Ed, and spends the episode kissing up to the instructor. She eventually gets an A-.
  • Angel:
    • In the episode "A Hole In The World": as she is dying, Fred deliriously cries out "I sinned. I've sinned, and I'm being punished. I don't know what's wrong. I never got a B- before."
    • Fred is also a bit taken aback in "Supersymetry" that her professor had given her an A- on her last paper. Granted, she didn't dwell on it too much.
  • Arrested Development, when George Michael got an A-. Both he and his dad were disappointed.
  • The Bill Engvall Show: Bryan, Bill's know-it-all son, gets a B, and his reaction is in line with the trope..
  • One episode of Bones introduces Brennan's old mentor. Booth jokingly asks if he gave her an A- when she gets a stern talking-to from him, to which she replies, annoyed "I've never gotten an A- in my life."
  • Topanga Lawrence-Matthews in Boy Meets World is a definite example of a straight-A student who will go berserk if anything threatens to tarnish her perfect academic record. To the point where Feeny could scare her back into her seat with two words: "A-minus."
    • As an adult on Girl Meets World, Topanga is a happily married mother of two, a successful lawyer, and owns a restaurant. When former teacher Mr. Turner comes over for dinner, she insists he change an A- he gave her in high school.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow is extremely upset when she scores "only" 740 on the verbal section of the SAT.
    Willow: 740? Verbal? Iím pathetic! Illiterate! Iím Cletus, the slack-jawed yokel!
    Xander: That's right. And the fact that your 740 verbal closely resembles my combined scores in no way compromises your position as the village idiot.
  • Castle gently mocks his daughter who is studying for an exam on The Scarlet Letter: "Ironically, you will be ashamed if you don't get a big red A."
  • Community:
    • When the group's biology assignment is sabotaged and the teacher has to give them all a passing grade, this is Annie's reaction: "Why don't I just get pregnant in a bus station?"
    • "Introduction to Teaching"'s B-plot centers on Annie getting an A- on an assignment and trying to find out why. As it turns out, the teachers at Greendale use A-'es to piss off overachieving students and make them drop the class. This leads to Annie rallying the students to demand "Slightly higher grades! Slightly higher grades!"
  • On an episode of A Different World, Kim is stressed because she received a B on a midterm. This leads her to believe that she will not be able to get into medical school and has nightmares about it, complete with Walter and Freddie dressed as Killer Bees.
  • Doctor Who: Done for drama in "The God Complex", where everyone's in a hotel that shows their worst fears. One character, a nurse, finds a room where her father chews her out for not doing well enough in her exams. Since the fear is how the hotel gets into people's minds, this leads to her death.
  • In Drake & Josh, Mindy deconstructed Mrs. Heffer's car and reconstructed it in her classroom, framed Drake by hiding his stolen sweater in the trunk, and then served as Mrs. Heffer's lawyer in an elaborate scheme for revenge because Mrs. Heffer gave Mindy a B. Several years previously.
  • In an early episode of Family Matters, Laura finds out on her progress report (not even her final grade for the semester!) was going to be a B in one course. She instantly declares herself grounded from everything until she can bring it back up.
    Harriet: I hope we weren't too harsh on her.
    • In a different episode of Family Matters, Urkel, Laura and Waldo all end up in the same Home Ec class. Urkel does not have the knack for it that he has for academics and ends up with a C, which causes him to freak out. Waldo, on the other hand, plays the trope backwards by getting an A and being shocked to the point of disbelief. It was his first A ever, see...
  • An episode of Family Ties revealed that Andy's kindergarten teacher was also Alex's more than a decade previously. Apparently Alex hasn't gotten over the fact that said teacher gave him a B in shoelace tying and his parents even told her he was "willing to take a make-up test".
    • Alex thinks his girlfriend will leave him for the Romantic False Lead, who got an A from a professor who "never" gives them out, while Alex got a B. He gets over it when she stays with him, pointing out that he has a romantic side that the other guy lacks.
  • Gilmore Girls:
    • Paris reacts badly to getting an A-minus! Not to mention what happened when several Ivy League colleges would have gladly accepted her — save for Harvard. Poor girl was devastated.
    • Rory is disappointed in her PSAT scores, even though they're really good — because her math score is 20 points higher than her verbal score, even though she's generally better at language stuff than math stuff, so she must not have studied hard enough for the verbal section.
  • Exaggerated on Glee, where Mike's strict Chinese father flips out over him getting an A- on a test (the episode's titular "Asian F"), and wants Mike to drop football, Glee Club, and dating Tina to focus on his studies. Even Principal Figgins (who is also Asian, mind you) thinks Mr. Chang is overreacting.
  • Parodied in the British-Indian sketch comedy show Goodness Gracious Me, in which a father rants about his son getting a B in A-Level Classical Studies despite having the grades to do medicine at Cambridge; he then rants that his son should be getting a PhD and doing his undergraduate degree in his spare time, but his son cannot because his spare time is taken up playing soccer for the Milwall first team. The father then becomes incensed that his son isn't playing for Liverpool. His son is six years old.
  • At the beginning of one episode of Good Luck Charlie, Teddy's teacher is handing over the test results. Teddy and Ivy were expecting for an A and D respectively, but they both get a B. Naturally, Ivy embraces the first (real) B she ever got, while Teddy is trying hard to reason with her English teacher to give her an A.
  • Gossip Girl has the overreaction to top them all. Upon receiving a B, Blair sets out to get revenge on her teacher. She sets up a prank and then realizing that the teacher was willing to work something out over the grade Blair attempts to apologize but the teacher is so upset about the prank (which wasn't even that bad of a prank, especially for Blair's standards) she informs the principal and majorly messes up Blair's chance to get into Yale (which was why Blair was worried about the B in the first place). Furious, Blair declares war on her and it eventually ends with the teacher leaving the school and returning to her old job. Over a B.
  • House: Dr. Cuddy must have been one. She finished second in her graduating class and was disappointed with the result. Something similar happened when social services examined her house to determine if she was fit to be a parent.
  • In the "Subway Wars" episode of How I Met Your Mother. Ted, who teaches an architecture class at college, finds out about a website that allows students to rate their teachers. He checks it out and sees dozens of glowing reviews. But the one he notices labels him as "boring" and he spends most of the episode trying to prove he isn't by teaching his fellow commuters about the subject, much to their annoyance. Marshall calls him out on his attitude near the end, pointing out it was one review out of dozens of positive ones and the fact he got so many of those (plus the fact he's designing a major office building) shows he's a success.
  • In an episode of iCarly, Carly was distraught over the B she received in history class, leading her friend Sam to hack into the school's computer and change the grade without Carly's knowledge. However, once Carly found out, the guilt consumed her and hilarity ensued as she tried to change it back. Probably an exaggeration, since the only reason Carly got a B was because she handed in her report on three hole paper, and the teacher doesn't like three hole paper. Another reason it was so important to her is because if it weren't for that B, she would have had her first all A report card, instead she gets a B+.
  • Kamen Rider Zero-One: This trope gets exaggerated and played for drama: In Gai Amatsu's backstory, his father was such a perfectionist hardass that he wasn't satisfied when his son brought home 100s on his tests, telling him to shoot for 1000 instead. The day little Gai brought home a 99, his father acted as if it was something to be ashamed of and blamed the boy's "failure" on his spending too much time with his Robot Dog Thouser. A devastated Gai got rid of Thouser and resolved not to rely on anybody but himself ever again, which lead to his becoming a selfish Jerkass himself because he refused to open up to anyone.
  • One episode of Lizzie McGuire had Gordo getting nothing but B's from his science teacher. It turns out the teacher just wanted Gordo to challenge himself since he was so good at science.
  • On Medium, a Tracy Flick-lookalike frames her teacher for rape after he refuses to raise her grade from an A- to an A.
  • On Modern Family, the Dunphys ban their kids from using the Internet. Being forced to study using an out-of-date encyclopedia, Alex gets a B on her science test, which infuriates her.
  • Odd Squad: When Olympia receives the satisfaction reports from the villains she has stopped, she receives 10s from all but one. This so incenses her that she sets out to track down who gave her the one. It turns out that the villain actually thought she deserved a 10, but gave her a 1 to bait her into a trap.
  • Subverted in Open Heart. Wes comments that even with a 96% average heís going to have a lot of difficulty getting medical scholarships, but heís still proud of it and works it into his conversation with Dylan in order to impress her.
  • In one episode of Parker Lewis Can't Lose ("Senior Jerry") Jerry Steiner gets promoted to the next class and manages to get the first (non-A(+)) B+ of his life; out of devastation he quits school and wishes to become a mason.
  • Power Rangers
  • In Rizzoli & Isles, Maura hates giving grades to medical students because she is still upset about an A-minus she got in Biochemistry while in school.
  • Saved by the Bell — Jessie has one of her standard meltdowns over getting a B. Also has a lesser meltdown over getting less on her SATs than Zach's.
  • School of Rock: In "The Other Side of Summer", Summer has an identity crisis after getting her first B,and the band must prevent the changes she goes through from becoming permanent.
  • In Selfie, hard-working Henry becomes a little upset when he gets an 89 performance evaluation, which he compares to a B, saying he's never gotten one in his whole life.
  • Smallville has an early episode in which an honors student receives a C in Shop Class and proceeds to freak out because it could endanger his plans of getting into college early. When the teacher refuses to change the grade (and honestly that C was the best grade the boy could hope for; his project was so crappy), the student uses his meteor power to split himself in two and murder the teacher. Talk about overreacting!
  • Small Wonder - A Girl of the Week has been caught stealing tests. She says her parents would kill her if she got a B, prompting the quip from the show's main human kid character Jamie: "I'd kill to get a B."
  • So Awkward: In "A Minus", Martha is mortified when she gets an A- on her test, so she revises so much that she begins to faint all over the place.
  • A variation of this was used as the focus of an episode of Stark Raving Mad: Maddie announces that as her last college assignment, she has to write a book report about Ian. Ian and Henry write it for her and the former is shocked when the report is awarded a "B". Ian goes to her professor to complain and slips out that he wrote the paper causing the professor to immediately fail Maddie. Henry manages to get the decision reversed by meeting the professor and telling a made up story about how the "Ian Stark" that visited him was an impostor. The professor believes him and all seems resolved...until the professor reveals that he examined the report further and decided to change the grade to a "C" due to its "childish use of commas". Henry (who at the beginning of the episode was arguing with Ian over the proper usage of commas) then claims "all those commas were justified" once again rising the professor's suspicion. The episode ends with Henry telling Maddie that she's "going to summer school", hinting that the professor failed her again.
  • Played massively straight in Star Trek: Voyager when Paris and Neelix are stranded on a planet together. Neelix asks Paris how he did in the Starfleet survival course and Paris says he got a B-. Neelix deems the news "Not very encouraging" and, when Paris says his father taught the course, observes he obviously didn't play favourites. Goodness only knows how Neelix would have reacted if Paris had a got a C: Taken out a phaser and shot himself to get it over with, probably.
  • The Suite Life of Zack & Cody has Cody as one of these. In the episode where it comes up the most (where he's forced to take Wood Shop due to picking an elective that not even the teacher showed up to), it's revealed that he has extremely unrealistic ideas of what will happen to him if he doesn't ace every class. In a nightmare sequence he's made to be the janitor of a "Big Snooty Ivy League College" due to not acing Wood Shop. As he hysterically claims to his mom when she thinks he's putting too much pressure on himself:
    Cody: I'm not putting too much pressure on me! Harvard is putting too much pressure on me! Yale is putting too much pressure on me! Princeton! Stanford! MIT! If I don't ace Wood Shop, I'm going to end up as one of those guys who sells hot dogs and sleeps in a taxi!
    • At the end of the episode, Zack offers to pass off his project as Cody's so the latter won't get a bad grade, but Cody decides to just accept the C the teacher gives him. He perks up later on once he discovers he can designate the class as "Pass/Fail" so it won't affect his GPA.
  • Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad: Sydney got a B and hated it.
  • Unhappily Ever After "B-Minus Blues" (for Tiffany, of course).
  • In The West Wing, the President mentions that he scored 1590 on the SATs (after someone suggested that he got a perfect 1600), and then retook the test just to get the exact same score again.
  • In Wizards of Waverly Place we get this piece of dialogue from Alex after they invite Ugh! to their school
    Alex: We're this close to getting Justin to cry and not because of a B.
  • Young Sheldon: Any test score less than 100% is Sheldon's Berserk Button.
    • In "A Solar Calculator, a Game Ball, and a Cheerleader's Bosom", Sheldon gets a B+ on his math test because he forgot to show his work. He blames it on attending a party the previous night, even though he didn't stay long and didnít want to go anyway.
    • In "A Math Emergency and Perky Palms", Sheldon takes one of Prof. Sturgis' college tests and it gets a 95% because he didn't use the required equations. He spends the rest of the episode arguing with Sturgis that his solution was better. Sturgis actually agrees with Sheldon, but is reluctant to admit he was wrong.
    • In "The Yips and an Oddly Hypnotic Bohemian", Sheldon freaks out after being unable to answer a single question on Dr. Linkletter's test, becoming convinced that he caught the yips from Missy.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, first-grader Susie Derkins fears that getting a bad grade on one research project (in first grade) will result in her having to go to a second-rate college. It didn't help that she was teamed up with Calvin. In another strip, being sent to the principal's office with Calvin makes her even more frightened, yelling at Calvin that he's "going to hear it from my parents if I don't get my Master's Degree!"
  • FoxTrot:
    • Taken to its extreme when Jason is upset that he "only" got an "A++" since it ruins his "A++++" average.
    • In another strip, he begs to retake a test when he gets a 98. ("Nobody understands a perfectionist.")
    • And in an even earlier strip, he actually gets a "B" and fears that his dad will punish him because of it.
    • In another strip, Jason gets a 75... out of twenty.
    • In yet another strip, Jason tries very hard to solve an "extra credit" math problem, only to find himself afraid of showing up in class. The kicker? There was a typo in the problem.
  • Peanuts:
    • Marcie reacts the same to her imperfect-but-still-high B-plus grade as Peppermint Patty does to her standard D-minus: "''AUGH!" This prompts Patty to explain to the offscreen teacher that they have different thresholds of pain.
    • In another strip, Linus goes to school despite being sick, because he thinks missing one day might prevent him from getting into "the college of his choice".
    • In yet another strip, Sally fears she'll have to repeat kindergarten because she "failed flower bringing".

  • Referenced in the Avenue Q song "Schadenfreude", where one of the examples Gary Coleman and Nicky give of suffering that's fun to observe is "Straight A students getting B's".
  • In A Very Potter Musical, Voldemort suggests giving all of Quirrel's students a B minus on their test results. Because it would be pure evil.

    Video Games 
  • In The Adventures of Willy Beamish, Willy's report card has various Bs and an A minus, but the C he got in Music Appreciation gets his Nintari locked when it comes up at dinner. If you try and hide the report card from his parents, you get sent off to Military School instead.
  • In maimai, the minimum grade to clear a song is an A, achieved by earning an 80% Achievement Rate; a B (or below) will fail you. Fortunately, failing a song does not cause a game over. Justified due to Rank Inflation; after A, there's the grades AA, AAA, S, SS, and SSS.
  • Reflec Beat goes up to AA, but requires an A rank (70% achievement rate)to clear. Unfortunately, failing here does in fact cause a Game Over...
  • Yandere Simulator: Teiko values herself being the perfect student so much that even a 99/100 score on a test gives her this reaction, so much so that she bribed the teacher that gave it to bump it up to 100/100. Ryoba can find this out and gossip about it to ruin Teiko's reputation.

  • Subverted in Misfile when the bookworm Emily got a B-. At first she was disappointed she didn't automatically get an A grade in one of her tests, her friend Rachel pointing out she'd kill to be able to get a B. After that, she started to get over it. Also, she'd already aced the class during the two years she'd lost, and wanted to have a life outside of studying this go-round, but her Education Mama went berserk.
  • In Original Life, reactions vary by character.
  • In Season 18 of Survivor: Fan Characters, Shin's future self Kasai tells him that the reason he went from a Nice Guy with perfectionist tendencies to a Jerkass yakuza leader was that he got one question wrong on an exam and this failure to be perfect caused him to go mad and abandon his straight-laced life. Shin eventually figures out that this is a lie, although Kasai's real reason for becoming the way he is still fits this trope pretty well — he won all votes in his Survivor season except for one and became so utterly obsessed with getting the perfect win he fell just short of that he kept trying to help his past selves achieve it, which only perpetuated the cycle of his past selves becoming just as embittered and half-mad as him when they still couldn't achieve that flawless victory in all possible timelines. After seeing what Kasai's obsession with perfection has led him to become, Shin decides to Screw Destiny and forfeit the game so that he'll avoid becoming Kasai.

    Web Original 
  • Ladies and gentlemen, for your reading pleasure, the "Asian Grading Scale".
  • In Ede Valley, this is what jumps-starts Cindy's character development. The one bad grade she got leads to her accidentally killing her chemistry teacher and becoming a witch.
  • Mahou Shoujou Ocean begins with this.
  • Invoked in this video by Ben Loka.
  • In this 365 Tomorrows' flash fiction story, the protagonist is concerned about his grades dropping to A-; he's concerned for a very good reason.
  • In a video by yourchonny, while discussing the latest grades on his report card with his father.
    mychonny: I got a B plus. *flinches away*
  • Inverted with The Nostalgia Critic. An A- was such a rare event that his Abusive Parents took him to Chuck E Cheeses whenever it happened.
  • The Student Room is a British forum where GCSE, A-level and university students can communicate with each other. You will often come across a certain type of student that considers anything below an A* a fail - even though the official passing grades are A* to C for GCSE and A* to E for A-level.
  • In the SuperMarioLogan episode, "Codyís Report Card!", Cody gets a B+ in spelling, and is worried his parents will disown him when they find out. Cody's friends tried to change the grade and try to lie to his family; however, Cody confess. Cody's parents tell him that they weren't upset about the B, they were upset that he lied and they don't love him anymore because of his lies. At the end of the episode, it is revealed that the B+ was a typo, and that Cody actually got all A+ís on his report card.
  • Sounds like Phase (Ayla Goodkind) at Superhero School Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe. Phase has been in Montessori and prep schools his whole life, and is shooting for all 'A's while taking a huge courseload, including several junior/senior classes even though he's a frosh. Even his friends have pointed out the 'what are you going to do when you get a B grade' issue to him.

    Western Animation 
  • In "Breezing Listening Blues" on Arthur, Brain gets a B- on a test and becomes convinced that his mind is being weakened by the breezing listening music that his parents recently started playing at their ice cream shop.
  • In one of her earlier appearances, Azula in Avatar: The Last Airbender practices her lightning techniques. She gets the form practically perfect, with only one little hair out of place. Her response? Angrily sweeping the hair out of her eyes and returning to her practice, declaring that "Almost isn't good enough!"
  • One of the villains on Batman Beyond was a kid whose mother wouldn't tolerate him being second in anything... Which prompted him to try to kill Max when she got a perfect score on a test that he got a very nearly perfect score on. Highest Score? Perfect 2400. The loser kid who's never going anywhere in life? 2391.
  • Parodied in ChalkZone: Everybody gets an F on a quiz because Mr. Wilter gave them questions on the wrong book chapter. The students all complain about it, except for Reggie Bullnerd, who doesn't see what the big deal is because he's always getting F's.
  • In the DC Super Hero Girls episode #TheMinus, Diana gets an A- and spends the majority of the episode sulking over it and over correcting and scheduling events in her life so she can never get an A- again, which leads to the other girls taking the list and trying to convince her itís ok to not be perfect all the time.
  • There's an episode of Dexter's Laboratory where Dexter comes home all worried about having to take his mother to see the principal. Dee Dee spends the entire episode wondering "Whadja do? Whadja do?" until Dexter transforms her into a copy of his mother, and takes her to the appointment, allowing her to find out from a tearful principal that Dexter got an A-minus on his last test. Of course, she immediately proceeds to go ballistic ("A lousy A-minus!?"). Then Dexter tells Dee Dee that if she were going to bother him so much about it, they should never have gone through the trouble of turning her into their mother.
  • Inversion: Roger in the Doug episode "Doug's Lucky Hat", after he steals Doug's lucky hat, gets a D- on a test and brags about it: "Look at this! A D minus! I actually passed the test! Doug! This hat has changed my life!!"
  • In The Emperor's New School episode "Girls Behaving Oddly", Malina got an A-, causing her to be kicked out of the cheerleading squad and behaved oddly after she joined some girl gang. It turns out that the teacher was about to give her an A+, but her pen ran out of ink.
  • Futurama used this as the motivation for Professor Farnsworth and Wernstrom's rivalry. When Wernstrom was Farnsworth's student, Farnsworth once gave Wernstrom an A- on a test ("I'm sorry, but penmanship counts"), leading the student to swear he would get his revenge even if it took him 100 years. 99 years later, Wernstrom achieves his revenge by beating and humiliating Farnsworth at the Annual Inventors' Symposium, giving his hastily drawn mock-up the "worst grade imaginable": "An A minus, MINUS!"
  • Hey Arnold!, "Olga Comes Home", plays with this plot by having Helga forge her titular big sister's report card, so that she thinks she got a B+. Which causes Olga to go catatonic and stay in her room crying until Helga breaks down and tells her she did get an A. Also deconstructed with the implication that Olga's reaction is due to their parents, especially their father, going overboard on playing the Education Parent when Olga was growing up, despite their reassurance during the episode proper.
    • Inverted in "Tutoring Torvald" when Arnold has to help the titular tough guy student (who got held back three years) with a math test. It turns out he's better at understanding it when it involves his usual bullying antics, and they use them as scenarios to help him solve math problems. In the end, Torvald gets a C+, but he's thrilled to have it and thanks Arnold for all his help.
  • Flying Rhino Junior High: This is the Start of Darkness for Earl P. Sidebottom. Once a straight-A student, his reaction to getting a D in shop class was to flee to the school's boiler room, build a reality-altering super computer, and terrorize the school as The Phantom.
  • In the first Jimmy / Timmy Power Hour, when Jimmy has swapped worlds with Timmy (and vice-versa), Mr. Crocker mistakes Jimmy for a big-headed Timmy and, Sadist Teacher that he is, gives him an F on his grade report. Jimmy is so repulsed by the grade that it starts burning his hand. This gets a Call-Back later in the special when, as Jimmy confronts Crocker to save Fairy World, the latter threatens him with an F-grade, to which Jimmy responds: "No one gives Jimmy Neutron an F!"
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Not so much grades, but in the episode "Lesson Zero", Twilight Sparkle stresses out over being tardy giving Princess Celestia a friendship report for the first time ever (which, in most real-world schools, would dock a grade), thinking that it will lead to her being sent back to "magic kindergarten". In her ensuing panic, she eventually sets off a chain of events that throws the town into chaos, forcing Celestia to visit her in person and reassure her that she doesn't have to stress out over missing just one report out of many.
    • In the Season 3 premiere, "The Crystal Empire", Twilight comes out of a test with Princess Celestia looking distraught. Spike lampshades the trope by inquiring if she got an "A-? B+?" Twilight overreacted and overthinking it. It turns out the "test" was an assignment to save a rediscovered empire from destruction, which she wasn't prepared for.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
  • In an episode of The Proud Family, Dijonay exchanged families with the Chang Triplets, and their father immediately chewed her out for having a B in math. "'B' means 'better work harder to get an A'!"
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • In "Him Diddle Riddle," one of Him's tasks to the girls is to take their SATs and get a score of 100. Buttercup scores a 25, Blossom (to her confused anger) scores a 10, but Bubbles—whose SAT sheet was done up with a drawing of a flower—scored 1075.
      Him: (in complete shock) "Well, I'll be darned."
    • This is played with in the "Painbow" episode of The Powerpuff Girls (2016). Blossom has a Freak Out because she got an A+, however everyone else received an A+ too due to the teacher being under mind control. People getting grades they didn't earn and the thought that she didn't deserve her grade are too much for her.
  • In The Raccoons, Bentley is recruited as a computer technician for Sneer Industries by the Pigs, only for them to sabotage his work when they get jealous at how well he's doing. Sure enough, Bentley is fired and is moaning how his career prospects are ruined while Bert and Cedric can't get a word in edgewise of how no future employer is going to pay attention to a mishap that happened to someone as a child. Regardless, Cyril finds out the truth and Bentley is exonerated with an even stronger lock on a job with Sneer Industries when he is older.
  • An episode of The Real Ghostbusters had Egon Spengler confess that he once got an A- in college, which resulted in his parents refusing to talk to him for a week.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Kamp Krusty", Lisa almost has a nervous breakdown when she receives a B+ for 'conduct'. Hoover did it because she felt Lisa needed a little smudge on her record. Lisa's reaction (grab Hoover while maniacally mumbling that she needs to rectify this) nearly breaks Hoover's arm.
    • Inverted in the genuinely touching episode "Bart Gets an F", where Bart jumps up and down and celebrates after getting a D- on a history test at the end. He had actually failed the exam, but his reaction to his failing grade showed he had actually TRIED to study this time and even retained some of the content so the teacher bumped him up a point or two for the effort as a reward.
    • In "Lisa On Ice", Lisa is afraid that a failing grade in gym class will not only lead her to be rejected as President of the United States, but lead to her being exiled for life to Monster Island (which is more of a peninsula).
    • "Lisa Gets an A" has Lisa worried that failing exactly one exam will prevent her from getting into Harvard, and make her go to Brown University, bus driver Otto's alma mater.
    • During "Pork and Burns", Bart lists various objects in his room that he's not throwing out as they still give him joy, including a report card showing Lisa's only B grade, which brings him "super joy".
      Lisa: (scoffs) It's in Phys Ed!
      Bart: I don't want to alarm you, but grade point average 3.999999999—
      (Lisa screams)
  • In the Star Trek: Lower Decks episode "I, Excretus", Boimler is The Perfectionist and can't stand the fact that his test only got him a 79, thus spends the episode pushing the grade higher and higher. Not only is this a case of Achievements in Ignorance, as the test, along with all the others, are designed to be failed on purpose, but it's beneficial to helping the crew of the Cerritos once they find out what's going on.
  • Static Shock:
    • Honor roll student Thomas Kim (who turned out to be the Hulk-like Monster of the Week) got a 99% on a test and immediately complained that the teacher got his grade wrong, later attacking the teacher in the parking lot and transforming in the process. As Virgil and Richie later find out, the source of this attitude comes from his father's high expectations.
      Thomas: I don't think that'snote  on the test.
      Father: That attitude is the difference between a ninety-nine and a one hundred percent!
    • The series finale, Richie getting a B- on an exam is the first sign that he's losing his super intelligence, and that everyone directly affected by the Big Bang will also start losing their powers as well.
  • In Transformers: Prime, this is what Miko assumes Raf the Child Prodigy means when he claims to have blown a few tests. "Translation: A-minus instead of A."
  • The Weekenders plays with this trope twice:
    • The season three episode "Imperfection" has Tish show off her straight-A report card to the rest of the gang. What causes this trope is her reading one of teacher's comments, which expresses concern about her perfectionism and tendency to obsess over insignificant details. She then proceeds to spend the weekend obsessing over this comment, even complaining about the irony of that note tarnishing the perfection of her report card.
    • The season four episode "Brain Dead" has Tish get a B on a test. But while she's perfectly fine with this, only being mildly disappointed in herself for not studying enough, she is greatly annoyed by everyone else (including the teacher who gave her the grade) behaving like this is some unspeakable horror. Her friends spend part of the episode trying to find her a new defining identity since she can no longer claim to be The Smart One, settling on "exotic foreigner" since she's a second-generation Eastern European immigrant.

    Real Life 
  • Appears to be what sent unstable Tucson shooter Jared Lee Loughner off the deep end, with him having a Freak Out in class and later declaring his community college a "genocide school."
  • Some universities in the United Kingdom tend to be unusually stingy with their A-Level requirements for prospective undergraduates, resulting in this being the case for quite a few B Students.
  • Following the 2012 NCEA secondary school exams in New Zealand, nearly 7,000 students sent their exam papers back for reconsideration because they got Merit (B) instead of Excellence (A). Some got their wish of Excellence, but most had to live with the fact they got Merit and spent $26 per paper to confirm it!
    • There's also the fact that New Zealand offers overall 'endorsements' for your academic year: Students normally take about 80 'credits' worth of classes and if 50 or more credits are at Excellence level (A grade) then you finish the year with an Excellence Endorsement, which generally only the top 7% of students achieve. (You can get Merit Endorsements with 50 or more Merit and Excellence credits, which about 25% of students get). So that one exam paper worth 3 credits could tip you from 48 to 51 Excellence credits, and change your whole year's academic record. (To a lesser extent there are also individual subject endorsements, if you get 14 Excellence or Merit credits in one subject - so again that one exam paper could change the endorsement for that whole class).
  • In some academic fields, graduate programs are so selective that one or two B's in undergrad can be a serious liability, even if the student has all A's otherwise. For students who plan to apply for graduate studies in those fields, this can be a rational response.
  • In real-life cases of this, this can be a sign of Tiger Mom-variety child abuse — the child's Freak Out is entirely justified knowing that they actually will be punished physically or emotionally over an unacceptable failure to be perfect.


Video Example(s):


The Simpsons - "Kamp Krusty"

Lisa Simpson has never gotten a B before. And does not react well.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (24 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheBGrade

Media sources: