A tropably generic name and mascot for a sports team.
This trope tends to run in two flavors. When the team and its struggles are central to the plot, they are likely to be the Wildcats because it's a safely neutral name (i.e. not under the claim and copyright of someone who could sue the work to kingdom come). The implication is that the writers needed a placeholder name, and the Wildcats will do. When the team is not the focus of the plot, calling them the Wildcats make them sound like the local sports team of Anytown, USA; a placeholder team rather than merely a placeholder name. This flavor often comes up in sitcoms and cartoons, especially when the plot centers on a character trying to make "the team" or go to "the game."
Similarly generic team names are Cougars, Tigers, Eagles, or Bulldogs.
Definitely Truth in Television. Nor is this trope confined to high school: the sports teams of the University of Arizona, Bethune-Cookman University, Davidson College, Kansas State, University of Kentucky, University of New Hampshire, Northwestern University, Villanova, and Weber State (not an exhaustive list) are all Real Life Wildcats.
One use for this trope is to make a gentle dig at the NCAA's naming policies. While the name Wildcats is historically popular, the number of teams vaguely named after cats and birds has exploded recently as schools try to get away from older, politically incorrect nicknames (e.g. "We're the Sabrecats. We used to be the Savages, but we had to change that"). See Political Correctness Gone Mad.
Not to be confused with the superhero comic series Wildcats.
- Superhero teams aren't immune to this. Just ask WildStorm Comics' Wildcats.
- The school mascot in Ultimate Spider-Man.
- When Abby temporarily has superpowers in Love and Capes, she is trying to come up with a superhero name and asks Mark how he decided on Crusader. Mark admits it was the name of his high school football team. Abby says hers was the Cougars, and they agree she should keep looking.
- Goldie Hawn was in a 1986 film called... Wildcats. Her dream was to coach high school football. Guess what the name of the team is... go on, guess.
- In High School Musical, the basketball team is called this:
"Wild Cats everywhere! Put your hands up in the air!""WHAT TEAM?" "WILDCATS!"
- A plot point in Speed. The villain refers to Annie as a "wildcat" behind the wheel, revealing that he can see her Wildcats sweatshirt through a hidden camera. (A nod to the aforementioned real-life Arizona Wildcats.)
- The football team from Prudence's high school in Across the Universe.
- The Pee Wee Hockey League team MacGyver (1985) belonged to as a boy was the Wildcats, as seen in the episode "Harry's Will".
- Claire's original high-school football team on Heroes: The Wildcats.
- Hal coaching Dewie's soccer team The Tigers on Malcolm in the Middle.
- House: When Cuddy asked, "The janitor's closet here?" in response to hearing that Cameron and Chase had been having liaisons in the janitor's closet, House sarcastically replied, "No, the one at the local high school. Go Tigercats!"note
- The college in Gulfhaven uses the Cougar nickname, as a self-admitted weak justification for Cougar Town keeping its original title.
- In Mustangs FC, the Mustangs' most hated rivals are the Wildcats.
- In Allegro, the football team at Joe's college is named the Wildcats. Joe has a disastrous tryout for the cheering squad, but he makes friends with Charlie, the freshman football star.
- The baseball team in Burnout Paradise.
- One of the racing teams in Juiced.
- In Babe Ruth: Man-Tank Gladiator amateur team are always named "Wildcats".
- The high school and middle school teams from King of the Hill were originally named the Cougars. It was changed to the Longhorns later on.
- The Simpsons lampshaded this trope in "Bart Star":
Ned Flanders: Who are we?
Springfield Wildcats: The Wildcats!
Flanders: Who are we gonna beat?
Springfield Wildcats: The Wildcats!
- The Kitchen Coliseum in Futurama is "Home to the Kitchen Universium Wildcats."
- The Looney Tunes Show: In "Bobcats on Three!", Daffy's recruited to coach the school water polo team, the Bobcats. (Which makes very little sense as the name of a water polo team.)
- In Groove Squad (a made-for-TV animated film from Nickelodeon), the mascot for Bay City High School is the "wildcat," the mascot costume for which looks like a smiling fat tiger. The person with the job of the mascot is Zeke, one of the movie's lead characters, and he appears to wear his mascot costume everywhere—in fact, he's only seen in one other outfit outside of his mascot costume (a tuxedo he wears at his High-School Dance at the end of the movie).
- Lampshaded in this article, on a "likability index" involving the teams in NCAA basketball's 2010 Final Four: "If your mascot is a Husky, deduct one point for triteness. If your mascot is a Wildcat, deduct two points for egregious triteness." This same sportswriter puts out a "likability index" every year, and in 2018 he lampshaded this trope again with "If your schools nickname and mascot are Wildcats, deduct 10 points for triteness."
- Parodied on Teen Girl Squad with the Fighting Growlbacks.
- Also very common in Real Life are Eagles and Wolverines.