Follow TV Tropes


Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World

Go To

"I can't believe I'm doing this. I can't believe I'm in a graveyard with a strange man hunting for vampires on a school night."
Buffy Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The superhero life seems loud and flashy: bright costumes, tons of media coverage, plenty of dramatic battles, and exciting villains. But not all heroes are celebrities in their personal life, and most teen heroes still have the same restrictions and responsibilities as their Muggle peers.

Spending the night defeating the Big Bad doesn't excuse missing homework. Stopping some giant monster from squishing their town doesn't spare them from gym class. Protecting fellow classmates from any creatures of darkness and saving the entire universe time and time again needs to fit into their already-packed schedule of classes, extracurriculars, chores, and time with friends - not to mention the fact that they need to get enough sleep somewhere in between.

If the work becomes a Long Runner, this could become "Wake Up, Go To Work, Save The World" as the protagonist grows up and becomes a Part-Time Hero.

This character will usually be a Triple Shifter and the mental and social counterpart to Mundangerous. Often overlaps with Socially Awkward Hero and Ordinary High-School Student. Can result in Shouldn't We Be In School Right Now?. Compare Slept Through the Apocalypse.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Red Garden deconstructs this, where the pressures of fighting monsters in the middle of the night cause problems for the main characters' social lives.
  • Digimon:
    • Though Digimon Adventure avoided this one, Digimon Adventure 02 waltzed right into it. A team of 11-year-old students who go to school during the day and face off against monsters and the evil emperor of another world in their spare time? Textbook. It has one interesting subversion: said evil emperor is another eleven-year-old student. But since he's evil he's allowed to ignore the Aesop and go full-time villain when it hits the fan.
    • Digimon Tamers subverted it as well. The Tamers lived like this at first, but when Calumon/Culumon was captured about midway into the story, they decided the "go to school" part was getting in the way and got permission (sort of) to take an indefinite leave.
  • This happens to Nagisa in Fight! Iczer-One, but only after being nothing short of abducted by the eponymous protagonist to man the battle robot with her.
  • Ordinary High-School Student Kyon's everyday life in Haruhi Suzumiya consists of being wrestled out of bed by his little sister, slogging to school, hanging out with his friends, and keeping the oblivious Jerkass Genki Girl Reality Warper titular character happy and not bored with her life as well as Locked Out of the Loop so she doesn't unwittingly unleash the the end of the universe with a temper tantrum.
  • The premise of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX can be summarized as "Wake up, go to school, practice saving the world." By playing a children's card game. Which quickly turns much uglier than is typical. The school is also all about playing said card game. They might have overstepped this trope a bit.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, Yusuke flat out states that "school sucks" and that "this job" (basically, saving the world), is the only thing he's ever been good at. Probably justified in that Yusuke is extremely Book Dumb.
  • The Pretty Sammy series is based around this.
  • Sailor Moon. Maybe it's because Usagi/Serena totally sucks at/hates school (much like a lot of shoujo heroines).
    • Downplayed in the first anime's S season, where we see very little of the senshi at school, but nearly every episode starts with them studying for their exams (until they are inevitably distracted, either by the Monster of the Week or by some more mundane crisis).
    • Averted in Sailor Moon SuperS. They're all on summer break. During the manga they've shifted to High School during this arc but it was pushed back an arc for the anime. The timing pretty much ends up the same by the end though.
    • Subtly deconstructed in the manga when it comes to Minako, on whom the stress takes an increasing toll even before the unexpected developments in the finale of Codename: Sailor V turn her in a Stepford Smiler.
  • In The Hero Who Returned Remains the Strongest in the Modern World, both Kaguya and Lela masquerade as Ordinary High School Students when they're in actuality superheroes by night who use magical powers to kill monsters that threaten the populace, albeit not for entirely altruistic reasons.
  • My-HiME does this as well. With one exception, the girls are more concerned with boys, food, classes, and part-time jobs (or if they're not in school, with their own affairs) than with destroying monsters, though they are more than happy to do so when they show up.
    • Later on in the series, this becomes increasingly averted as the battles of the HiMEs end up partly destroying the school, and most of them either drop out, disappear or otherwise stop caring about what's going on in school because they're too busy trying to kill each other.
  • All but one of the Baka Rangers in Negima! Magister Negi Magi are powerful fighters on Negi's team. Kaede and Ku Fei in particular were strong fighters even before the start of the series, yet their first major obstacle in the series was to receive adequate scores on their final exams.
  • In Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA, Illya, Miyu, and Kuro continue their Magical Girl, dimension-hopping adventures while attending elementary school.
  • Full Metal Panic! practically runs on this. Most of Sōsuke's issues involve being unable to explain distressingly common situations and failing in epic fashion. In one episode, Kaname visits while Testarossa is in the shower and Sōsuke tries to explain why Kaname can't come in. Cue Testarossa sticking her head out asking if she can borrow clothes. He will generally sweat bullets in these situations — and yet, when he appears to be totally screwed in a military situation, he will either find a way out of it or somehow stay calm. This is probably because, in those situations, he can't shoot anyone...
  • Subverted by Death Note. Or possibly played straight. It depends on your moral stance on Light's actions; he definitely believes he's playing it straight as he interweaves his increasingly meaningless social life with his genocide, doing math homework with his right hand while killing people and eating potato chips with his left hand.
  • Shinichi, the hero of Parasyte. Somewhat deconstructed towards the end. Though he just barely manages to graduate, he flunks all his college entrance exams and is forced to work exceptionally hard to catch up the next year.
  • Code Geass has something similar to this, but it's more like Wake Up, Go To School, Take Over the World.
  • In the first and last Eldran series, the kids actually had to go to school in order to save the world, as that's where the local Super Robot was normally kept.
  • Altered in Kekkaishi, where it's usually Wake up, save the world (school), go to school.
  • Invoked in the English release of the Shakugan no Shana manga, the tagline of which is "Saving the world is easier than falling in love..."
  • Deconstructed in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Being a Magical Girl Warrior and fighting monsters in your spare time isn't as fun and innocent as it appears to be, mainly because the monsters in question can and will kill you if you should make a mistake, as shown in the infamous Episode 3. And let's not even mention what ultimately happens to you if you don't end up dead.
    • It also subverts this to some degree; it's indicated that many girls stop taking part in school activities once they make their contract since the job is so intensive and often requires a mobile lifestyle. Mami lacked any close friends in her class, Sayaka frequently skipped school and ran away from home at one point, and Kyouko was a street urchin.
  • Lyrical Nanoha has this in the first two seasons. After the Time Skip though, Nanoha has completed her compulsory education, moved to another planet, and become a combat instructor.
    • Nanoha actually averts this during the final third of the first season since she takes an extended leave of absence from school (with her parents' permission) to focus on collecting the Jewel Seeds.
  • Assassination Classroom inverts this. The students of class 3-E have challenging social and academic lives — they're in the 'outcast' class at a very prestigious school — but the task of killing Koro-sensei is more difficult by far.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Touma Kamijou was already doing poorly in school before he got dragged into conflicts of the Science and Magic Sides. Once he starts saving the city or world on a regular basis, his grades and attendance really suffer.
  • Mei Company shows the aftermath of this. The main characters were Magical Girl Warriors who learned that because they spent all their time fighting monsters, they failed a lot of classes and couldn't get into college.
  • Violence Action is a darker take on the trope, with protagonist Kay trying to balance her university work and social life with being a professional hitman. This leads to a humorous scene early on with Kay having trouble with her bookkeeping homework and getting help from a yakuza accountant she's supposed to be holding hostage until her employers decide how to dispose of him.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man: The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) may well have invented this trope, and Peter Parker's constant struggles to keep his life on track while fighting crime shows up in almost every other incarnation and adaptation of the series. In fact, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created Spider-Man around this very premise. They wanted a young superhero who, unlike the then-popular "sidekick" depiction of such a character, had to simultaneously deal with the social and emotional pressures of becoming an adult... and the parade of crazy costumed baddies.
    • While Peter in later comics would become an adult in the main continuity, many adaptations would further lean into Peter struggling between being a high-schooler and a superhero. In comic books, the Ultimate Spider-Man would be best known for showing the concept in the light of the 21st century.
    • Peter Parker's successor as Spider-Man Miles Morales likely falls into this trope, both in the Ultimate Universe and the mainstream continuity.
    • Spider-Gwen follows a teenaged alternate version of Gwen Stacey who was bitten by a radioactive spider and similar to Peter has to find balance between her normal teenage problems and the life as superheroine Spider-Woman/Ghost Spider.
  • Marvel has tried to recapture this a couple of times with Speedball and Darkhawk.
  • Ms. Marvel (2014) follows suit, with the added complications of being a Muslim woman in America and joining the Avengers post-Secret Wars 2015.
  • Deconstructed in Scott McCloud's Zot!. The problems in Zot's world are on the surface bigger, but since it is ultimately a fantasy world the much smaller problems in Jenny's world are real problems and therefore more serious. The Deconstruction comes in the exploration of why high school life seems more serious than fighting supervillains.
  • Ostensibly, the Teen Titans — but the comics tend to ignore the characters' lives outside of superheroics to the point that Titans Tower occasionally seems like a weird super-teen commune.
  • Robin explored what it would be like to be working as a hero by night and weekend while trying to maintain a social life, your grades and hiding your nightly activities from your father in Gotham, to the point that often "Robin"'s issues would take a backseat to Tim's. This element was dropped in the last few issues as Tim had to drop out and focus on heroics as Gotham started to descend into chaos after Bruce's death.
  • DC got a new shot in the direction of this trope with the short-running Sideways-series as part of DC's Dark Matter-line, which is sometimes compared to Spider-Man by fans: It features Ordinary High-School Student Derek James juggling the life of a strongly-powered superhero and a Puerto-Rican teenager in the US.
  • The X-Men mansion is technically supposed to be a "School for the Gifted" but only a couple of writers (among them Grant Morrison) really paid anything more than lip service to the concept.
  • Power Pack, the Marvel-verse kid superheroes.
  • W.I.T.C.H.. The girls have quite a bit of trouble dealing with their double life, especially after magical means to hide their absence are somehow eliminated.
  • Cindy and Biscuit is a particularly tragic version, as Cindy's schoolfellows just think she's weird and bully her, and her mother and teachers think she's being naughty and making up stories.
  • Superboy pre-Crisis was this, as Clark attended Smallville High along with being a superhero. It stays this way once he goes to Metropolis University (and changes his name to Superman), and shifts to "Wake Up, Go to Work, Save the World" once he graduates college and starts working at the Daily Planet. In Krypton No More he thinks he is an outcast and cannot have normal relationships.
  • Supergirl always finds it harder to attend school and make friends than being a superhero. When she goes to San Francisco Vandyre University, she cannot keep a boyfriend and her classmates think she is weird. When she moves to Chicago, she deals with all her enemies neatly, but she still has boyfriend troubles and her friends also think she's weird. In Supergirl (Rebirth) she attends National City High School along with being a teen superhero, but she doesn't manage to fit in with her schoolmates because she isn't familiarized with human social customs and Earth's science is primitive and ancient to her. In Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade she quickly becomes her school's Butt-Monkey and has a hard time making friends.
    Kara: What am I even doing here? I'm from a distant planet with super-smart technology! I already know stuff! Superman says I need socialization. Yeah, right. That's going great. I just want to be a superhero. I don't need any friends...
  • All-New Ultimates: Subverted. The only members who go to school are Miles and Lana. Jessica was a former agent of SHIELD and has an apartment in Chelsea despite being the biological age of 16-17. Kitty Pryde is too well known to ever want to, and Cloak and Dagger have been declared dead and are by all means orphans.
  • Juice Squeezers: When the kids aren't battling Big Creepy-Crawlies beneath Weeville, they're dealing with Stampo or trying to get a role in the play.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Non-Kid Hero variant in Jonathan Joestar, The First JoJo. Jonathan mentions how difficult it was balancing his college life with battling vampires and zombies.
  • Advice and Trust: Given their lack of people skills, going to school and talking to other kids is harder for Shinji, Asuka, and Rei than fighting massive aliens. In chapter 8 Shinji says he is more afraid of going to his classmates and coming clean about his and Asuka's relationship than of fighting Sachiel.
  • In Children of an Elder God, Shinji, his girlfriend Asuka, Rei, and — to a lesser extent — their friends, Rei, Touji, Hikari, and Anna... could fight and kill Elder Gods easily, but socializing and fitting in with other people became increasingly hard. After every battle, they became more powerful and simultaneously less human. And at the end, Rei knows she'll never be capable of leading a normal life, and Shinji and Asuka don't belong among humans anymore.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide: Fighting giant monsters? The teen main characters have done that and keep doing it. Socializing with their classmates is the hard part, and it didn't get easier after the War.
  • Shinji in Last Child of Krypton is able to toss armed thugs around and crush gigantic monsters easily. Figuring out his feelings for Asuka and spitting them out is hard for him.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: Asuka is an excellent mecha fighter and an overpowered superhero. She can handle herself efficiently when she has to fight criminals, aliens, or monsters. However, she has absolutely NO social skills and she's massively frightened of other people.
  • Battle Fantasia Project: The plot is kicked off by a horrific deconstruction of this trope: Akiko Yamaguchi has spent her childhood fighting evil alone. A fight that has done horrendous damage to her social life and mental health. She is so broken, she publicly throws herself off of Tokyo Tower, only to be rescued by another Magical Girl.
  • The first arc of Call of Darkness seems to demonstrate so. Seika is still in Duel Academia when she has to charge with a team of Psychics directly into a battle of Duel Spirits in the skies above the Neo Domino Harbour.
  • In Kara of Rokyn, both Kal and Kara are pretty lousy at personal relationships. Battling beings who can literally punch worlds out of existence? Been done. Handling interpersonal relationships? Can't be done. Superman believes maybe he'd not be so bad at understanding women if the two of them had grown up together.
    "But I, I just couldn't do it. You had to learn how to live. You had to grow up. I couldn't keep you in a bell jar forever. I had to let you get out there and take some lumps, and learn how to deal with things. I—Kara. Do you know I always wanted a sister? I've always been lonely. A brother would have been nice. But do you think..." He was choking back his own tears. "Do you think that... I would've stayed single this long... if I'd grown up with a sister? Somebody who... could teach me about women...? Do you..."
  • Saitoh from Frozen Moonlight, except he's a teacher instead of a student. Later in the story, as the enemy becomes more of a threat, he begins to have Kaoru run the class herself while he goes to "emergency teacher conferences." Weirdly, she buys this.
  • Amazing Fantasy deconstructs this. After becoming Spider-Woman, Melissa Shield finds herself juggling her responsibilities as a scientist, student, Hero, and her social life. They all overlap each other and stretch her thin to the point that she's frequently late to appointments and has to bail on them repeatedly. This culminates in Melissa neglecting to insert the last two screws into the electric eel cage, destabilizing it and allowing it to shatter, electrocuting Max Dillon in the process.
  • Impressively, Revelations of Destiny manages to retain this aspect of the Kim Possible show, unlike nearly every other story out there that lets it fall by the wayside (probably because it takes a certain talent to keep coming up with outlandish mission scenarios).
  • Scott Summers from X-Men: The Early Years is a powerful superhero and a brilliant strategist, but he can't figure people out.
    Scott Summers: I don't do one-night stands and I don't have time for a relationship. I almost have too much on my plate with school, community service hours, and saving the world from evil mutants. Figuring out women takes too much time and energy. That and most people just manage to irritate me.
  • In Girls' Night Out, Barbara Gordon has to protect Gotham City in Batman's absence and especially makes sure she still has time for homework.

    Films — Animated 
  • Take Violet Parr of The Incredibles, who fails to have a normal school life, having to deal with being a superheroine in hiding and her crush Tony Rydinger. However, she is totally in her element when donning her superhero persona.
  • The theme song for Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius by Bowling for Soup includes such lyrics
    He's got to save the world and get to school on time
    So many things to do and not much time
  • Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a typical Ordinary High-School Student-protagonist who like in the comics gets spider-powers and is then included in multiversal shenenigans. The sequel opens with showing how much trouble Miles has balancing his life as a student at an elite school and his "job" as the crime-fighter Spider-Man.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Let the Right One In doesn't deal with world-saving, but still exhibits signs of this trope. Oskar finds romancing his vampire (girl/boy)friend to be pretty easy; dealing with bullies, on the other hand, is much harder.
  • Kickass and the sequel involve teen and pre-teen superheroes.
  • Goosebumps (2015) is about a boy named Zach Cooper who moves to Madison, goes to school, meets his neighbor Hannah (who is secretly a Cute Ghost Girl), and helps her dad save the world from the monsters he created.
  • While the original Spider-Man Trilogy mostly avoided the high-school setting, its successors lean more into that trope: In The Amazing Spider-Man Series, Peter has trouble with juggling his high-school life and trying to make things work with his First Love Gwen Stacey and fighting the Lizard, a monstrous villain. A fight between them takes even part at Peter's high school. In the sequel, however, he and Gwen graduate from high school in the beginning. The Spider-Man: Homecoming Trilogy set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe dives even deeper into the theme, portraying Peter constantly as an Ordinary High-School Student who has to face the common problems of a teenager as well as supervillains in his Secret Identity as Spider-Man.

  • Harry Potter:
    • The series got dangerously close from Goblet of Fire onwards, but Deathly Hallows abandoned many of the school-based subplots to focus on the final confrontation with Voldemort, which nevertheless takes place at Hogwarts. Justified in-universe in that Voldemort had an especially soft spot for the school - Hogwarts was probably one of the only things in his life he came close to actually loving.
    • As the finalyear involves the school being run by Death Eaters and the student resistance, the multiple requirements for Aurors for that year are replaced by "participated in the battle of Hogwarts and survived".
  • Young Wizards: Played straight through most of the series, with the mundane world and school not stopping for Kit, Nita, and Dairine's wizard duties. Many of the subplots throughout the series deal with them working around their wizard life so that non-wizards don't notice, including the ramifications of what happens when their parents do find out. The series handles it believably and doesn't let anyone off easy, with both wizardry and non-wizardry shown to be equally problematic and difficult to deal with.
  • In the Action Figures universe, the teen supers of the Hero Squad still meet every night to do homework together, have to deal with classes and cliques, and face consequences when their super adventures override their more typical adolescent responsibilities. The most notable example is when Carrie leaves Earth for eight months to fight in the Black End War and comes back to find she's been held back a year for missing so much school and also lost the great part-time job she used to have.
  • The Alex Rider series deals with the potential real-world ramifications of just how much school one would have to miss to save the world. Not to mention what might happen to the school itself once the Big Bad knows exactly which school the teen- or Kid Hero goes to.
  • Animorphs made some use of this, but ended up deconstructing it, as the characters soon find that fighting a guerrilla war against an alien conspiracy/invasion is physically and emotionally taxing, and their grades start to suffer. They lose all their friends not in the know and stay in school just to keep up the pretense. Next to the enslavement of humanity, school seems kind of meaningless.
    • It also helped that they gained advanced ancient androids as allies who could take their place in school for long absences thanks to their advanced hologram technology.
    • Near the end of the series the war has escalated significantly, pressuring the kids to devote their entire lives to fighting. Jake notes that none of them get to school consistently anymore, to the point where Jake can't even recall what they're studying in class. They go on missions pretty much full-time, almost every day, and they rarely get more than a couple hours of sleep either.
  • Dark Heavens has this become a problem for Simone, who tries to balance a normal school life in Hong Kong with fighting to protect Hong Kong from demonkind. However, she also has the option to go to Celestial High, which is in Heaven and is designed for teaching the children of gods and immortals, and the teachers understand that their students sometimes have to cut class because the world needs saving. Eventually, she cuts too many classes at school and is expelled, forcing her to go to CH instead.
  • The Demon Headmaster series of books. That crazy headmaster is always trying to take over the world (although he's not always a headmaster), and apparently this small group of children are the only ones who can ever spot it. But they still have to go to school and be home for tea.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians is "Wake up, Go To Summer Camp, Save the World from Classical Mythology".
    • And now in The Heroes of Olympus it's: "Wake up, Go To Summer Camp/Demigod City/World Traversing Flying Boat, Save the World from Classical Mythology".
    • Keep in mind, these summer camps are designed to train demigods in combat and survival for this very eventuality.
  • I Did NOT Give That Spider Superhuman Intelligence!: Corporate-Sponsored Superhero Palooka Joe's new sidekick is a teenager named Accessorizer who mentions that she only does hero work on weekends or after school.
  • The Doctor Who Telos Novella Time and Relative is about Susan struggling with being the odd one out at school whose only friends are the violent kid and the nerd, being bullied by her nasty Geography teacher, not being cool enough or knowing how to go out with boys, a Trinidadian boy she babysits having to deal with 1963 racism, and not really understanding who she is yet. The killer snowmen are significantly less difficult than knowing she'll have to talk to her grandfather to find out what to do about them. The book also operates on the conceit that, although Susan knows she is an alien with two hearts, she cannot properly remember her life before she came to Earth or even if she did much travelling beforehand - the only way she can make herself recall Gallifrey is by retelling the story of what happened with things from 1960s schoolgirling (she writes that her grandfather is playing truant and if he gets caught by the Truant Officer he will have to do a million lines).
  • Jeremy Itsubishi from Strength & Justice juggles his time between going to school, spending time with his girlfriend, and fighting abuse of superpowers as a law enforcement cadet.
  • In The House of Night, Zoey is not only dealing with many mystical issues threatening the vampyres but also juggling multiple boys and a couple of men (both of them bad guys).
  • Mindwarp starts out this way, as each character's daily life and routine is disrupted by their new powers and being stalked by an alien killer. After book six, they're no longer even pretending to go to school or maintain a normal life.
  • The Hearts We Sold: After making a Deal with the Devil, Dee has to learn how to balance her prestigious prep school with her new job working for the Daemon. She manages, with some help from her roommate, and because wanting to stay at the school is what drove her to make a deal in the first place.
  • New Pantheon: Five teens gain magical powers and immortality, and defend the Earth against an invasion of giants, faerie infiltrators, an anarchist society of immortals, and savage chimeras - all while preserving the Masquerade and participating in school dances, football games, doing homework, etc.
  • Schooled in Magic: A significant problem for Emily. Saving the school and the world are no excuse for failing marks on her exams, and while she usually doesn't lose too much sleep over it, she's often unable to study for weeks because she's busy resolving the latest plot. On the other hand, Emily's teachers do know what she's up to, and at multiple points, they refrain from assigning her punishments because she legitimately has too much to do to serve detention.
  • This happens to the fifteen-year-old Susan Sto Helit in Soul Music. One moment she is in her dorm at her boarding school - and then she is visited by a rat and a raven who tell her she is now the anthropomorphic persona of Death, the post-holder having walked off the job, miss, and did I mention he's your grandfather? Susan then has to disentangle a little problem with the smooth workings of the Discworld and restore its consensus reality.
  • Worm starts out like this in the very beginning and then deconstructs it hard.
    • Taylor, the protagonist, is not merely using the superhero life as an escape from her miserable high school experience, she gained her powers from a Traumatic Superpower Awakening caused by her high school tormentors — and she finds herself cutting classes more and more often as a result.
    • Among the Undersiders, Brian, the oldest, has already graduated and is working to take care of his younger sister, Lisa tested out early using her power to cheat on the GED test, and Alec and Rachel never went to school regularly due to their unstable, extremely dysfunctional home lives.
    • Even the Wards, the official training program for Kid Heroes in the US, sees their enforcement of the trope for their members in Brockton Bay take a severe hit when Leviathan's attack leaves the city in an almost post-apocalyptic state of chaos.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • That high school was infinitely worse than, or at best merely even with, fiends from hell was one of the show's basic concepts. Of course, this particular high school was built on a Hellmouth's centre, so the line between scholastic evil and demonic evil is blurred.
    • The season 3 finale ends thus (after having graduated and averted the apocalypse on the same day).
      Oz: It's worth taking a moment just to think... we survived.
      Buffy: It was one hell of a battle.
      Oz: Not the battle. High school.
    • There's also the series finale. Right before the final battle, Buffy, Xander, and Willow start making plans for the day after, which involves shopping. Wake up, save the world, go shopping.
    • It is frequently lampshaded on the show that this trope is the reason Buffy is able to survive so long as a Slayer. Previous Slayers focused so much on training and fighting monsters that they never got to experience the normal lives and problems of a teenage girl. Without these experiences and connections, the Slayers became careless Death Seekers.
  • In Teen Wolf, for Scott and Stiles since the first episode as they try to protect Beacon Hills from all manner of supernatural creatures while trying not to destroy their grades or get kicked off the lacrosse team. They're later joined by Allison and Lydia (once they discover the secret goings-on), and Isaac (once he decides to stop being a jerk and save people instead). Somewhat more murky on Jackson's part, as he has no interest in saving the world or anyone, and is unknowingly the creature that's a threat. Kira, Malia, and Liam join fall into this as well, to varying degrees of success.
  • In an episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, after John helped to destroy a batch of coltan, a metal used to build terminators, he comes back home to do his homework for school. Of course, he's since dropped out.
  • In Ace Lightning, Mark Hollander, a thirteen-year-old boy, unintentionally gets himself elected as the superheroes sidekick: this pretty much costs him his social life, including two girlfriends.
  • Disney's Aaron Stone.
  • Chuck Bartowski's spy work is often impacted by the equally complex, though not as dangerous, life he leads as a Buy More employee.
  • Early episodes of Power Rangers take this formula to a T. More often than not, the Monster of the Week they were facing would correlate to whatever problem they were dealing with in their civilian lives.
    • In an episode of Power Rangers Zeo, King Mondo gets an idea to exploit this trope, pumping up the monster attacks and running the Rangers ragged.
    • Which was lampshaded by the Red Ranger and Alpha the robot in a TV promo for the series. Red Ranger describes how he's a martial arts master and has girls drooling over him, then tells the audience: "What a cool gig. I save people, protect cities, fight monsters...." - only to be interrupted by a message from Alpha telling him that he has to do his homework.
    • Specifically, the high school element was dropped early in the sixth season, Power Rangers In Space, because the team was traveling to different worlds in search of Zordon who had been captured by Dark Specter. This raised the question of when the Rangers had time for school when the fate of the universe was in their hands.
    • Was picked up again in Power Rangers: Dino Thunder, though the Rangers in question were seniors and their science teacher (the very familiar Tommy Oliver) was their mentor and one of their teammates, so it didn't really bother them as much.
    • After Dino Thunder, the series didn't pick this concept up for nearly a decade, up until Power Rangers Megaforce, an anniversary season which is more-or-less a throwback to the original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
    • Super Sentai usually doesn't use this trope because the rangers tend to be older than in the American version and those who are young enough to still be in high school often simply don't go. But one series that did play this trope straight was Denji Sentai Megaranger, ironically since that season was the basis for Power Rangers In Space, where the rangers were high schoolers who ended up being recruited to be the Megarangers mainly because one of them was really good at playing a Megaranger-themed video game and the rest just happened to be visiting the I.N.E.T. based when the villains attacked. Late in the series they are kicked out of school when their identities are exposed and the Big Bad attacks them at school, so they have to defeat the Big Bad before graduation so that they can attend.
  • M.I. High
  • Big Wolf on Campus is a more light-hearted take on this - the main character is a werewolf in high school who deals with a parade of Affectionate Parody-style monsters.
  • Early seasons of Smallville should qualify, while later seasons are more like "Wake Up, Go to Work, Save the World."
  • HEX did a boarding school version, although it can be debated how much saving actually took place.
  • The Henry Danger episode "Mo' Danger Mo' Problems" focuses on how hard it is for Henry to try and balance heroics, school, and family.
  • Likewise The Vampire Diaries where the world may not exactly be at stake, but there is a whole lot of saving and battling the forces of evil going on. They even do school reports on the subject of vampires!
  • Short-lived British fantasy show Demons focused on the teenage heir to the Van Helsing title.
  • While technically not in school, Merlin does face both Big Bads and the trouble of dealing with teenage hormones, friendship issues, and crushes.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures— though it often seems like the kids have all the free time in the world, they do go to school and a number of episodes either take place or have a number of scenes set in school.
  • The Secret World of Alex Mack has this. Alex occasionally has to handle threats at her (junior?) high school.
  • The Canadian series Todd and the Book of Pure Evil features a cast of students and faculty battling the eponymous Artifact of Doom. The series relies on various issues facing teens (bullying, loneliness, obesity, etc.) to set up its Monster of the Week premise.
  • Kamen Rider Fourze: Conveniently, the school just happens to be located at a major source of cosmic energy. Inconveniently, this is because it was founded by the series Big Bad to advance his plans - and several members of the staff are his subordinates who are responsible for turning students into the Monster of the Week.
  • The New Adventures of Beans Baxter has Beans attempting to balance life as a high school student with becoming a Teen Superspy and having to save the world from the forces of U.G.L.I..
  • K.C. Cooper in K.C. Undercover. K.C.'s role as resident ordinary schoolgirl/Teen Superspy on the Disney Channel as of 2015 has not gone unnoticed by Christy Carlson Romano, the voice actor who played the title role of Kim Possible and a fan of the show, who offered Zendaya on Twitter to guest star on a future episode of K.C. Undercover in tribute to this.
  • In The Amazing Extraordinary Friends, Ben and Roy attempt to balance being trainee superheroes with going to school.
  • Mech-X4 has a subversion: The team still has to juggle school along with saving the world from giant monsters, but that they're frequently in danger is treated as more significant than high school. To make matters worse, their principal is one of the villains and is aware that one of them is a student.

  • Sequinox, naturally. Since they're teen magical girls (and one boy), they still have to attend high school while fighting the Stars.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Champions has a supplement, Teen Champions where this is the premise.
  • Mage: The Ascension mentioned this when describing how the Game Master could use character backgrounds to make the game more interesting. Fighting the Ancient Conspiracy of wizard-scientists trying to eradicate magic from the world, the bunch of Evil Sorcerers trying to destroy everything that has ever existed, the mad mages whose very existence warps reality, and the odd elder horror from beyond the stars gets a lot harder when your mom is going to kill you for staying out past curfew.
  • As befits a game based on Magical Girl tropes, this is one of the core beats of Princess: The Hopeful. It's especially important because one of the main ways Princesses replenish their magic and shore up their Belief is by spending time with mortal friends, so a Princess cannot afford to neglect her civilian life without crippling her ability to fight the Darkness.

    Video Games 
  • Persona:
    • Persona 3 bases both its storyline and gameplay around this concept, requiring you to balance fighting demons with day-to-day activities to succeed. It also subverts it, to an extent — the characters frequently admit that they find fighting Shadows much more difficult than dealing with school. Played straight in the metagame - while the actual fighting can be quite tough, as is standard for SMT games, nothing compares to the difficulty of trying to max out all Social Links (as in, you can make like three mistakes at most, across an entire year).
      Amusingly enough, most of the world-saving goes on at school (albeit a supernaturally altered one). It also plays with this a bit as unlike most of the examples here, the actual world-saving happens not only at the school but also at a specific (and supernatural) time of day that can be planned around; this allows for the balancing aspect of the trope to be a touch easier. Said time is The Hidden Hour after midnight, making your schedule "Wake Up, Go to School, Hang Out, Go to Evil Warped School Trying to Save the World".
    • Persona 4 does much the same thing, though in this case, it's Wake Up, Go To School, Catch a Serial Killer. Although as you find out later, catching the Serial Killer is part of saving the town, so it's actually both. In fact, amusingly enough, you can only go into the TV (to save the world) after school every day. You literally have the schedule of Wake up, Go to school, Save the world.
    • Persona 5: Your party spends their days going to school and their afternoons and nights reforming corrupt adults and trying to dismantle a criminal conspiracy. The game's original opening theme underscores this: Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There.
  • Hogwarts Legacy has you play as a teenage wizard at the titular Academy of Adventure, by day going to class and learning to use your powers and by night trying to prevent another race war between humanity and goblins.
  • Mega Man Battle Network plays this one straight by having the main protagonist be a fifth/sixth-grader who also happens to own the most powerful being on the internet. Throw in a villain of the week or fifty and you're good to go. Mega Man Star Force does it too, but only starting late in the first game because Geo spends most of it too depressed by his father's death to go to school in the first place.
  • Ernie Eaglebeak of The Spellcasting Series. An impending calamity even follows him to Spring Break.
  • Humorously averted with Riki and Mami in Bangai-O, who spend the entire game travelling through the galaxy to defeat the Cosmo Gang. This results in Riki's health teacher tracking him down with a stolen mech.
  • Lollipop Chainsaw begins as just another school day for our heroine Juliet Starling, but soon escalates to a grand adventure of saving the world from a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • In Commander Keen Episode 2, The Earth explodes, the goal of the game is to destroy the Vorticons before they blow up the Earth and get home before school begins. The protagonist even considers letting them off with their plan so that he doesn't have to go to school anymore (and it's possible, netting you a Non Standard Game Over). After the end of the game, school is canceled due to snow anyway.
  • The middle part of Rune Factory 2 has the main character build a school for the village kids to study in. From that point on you play as his child, alternating classes with exploring monster-filled dungeons and searching for the world-ending dragon your father set out to stop.
  • Happens in Third Super Robot Wars Z: Jigoku-hen, where most of the teenage cast ends up transferring to Jindai High, forming the Campus Defense Force with Watta and Shotaro's nearby elementary... and assistant janitor Ryoma Nagare (turns out adventuring doesn't pay much). This trope plays in when they start collecting a lot of unexplained absences, forcing Kaname to create the Volunteer Club, draft all of the pilots, and peg Suzune as club advisor (it's a club activity if the teacher says it is! Even if the activity is world-saving and said teacher rides in the back of a giant robot in a really lewd pilot suit).
  • The aversion is justified in Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth. The protagonist, despite being a high school student, takes an extended leave of absence in order to work as a detective solving crimes related to EDEN and Digimon with their friends showing shock about this. However, the hero had already taken an extended leave in order to leave the country to stay in another country with their mother before the plot kicked off - they have no other option but to work as a detective, especially since they're essentially a digital ghost...

    Visual Novels 
  • In Fate/stay night, three of the seven Masters in the Holy Grail War are students at the same school and another one is a teacher. Only Shirou is interested in saving the world, though; the others have more selfish motivations. Granted, this is also perhaps a bit unfair to Rin, since even outside of her route (where she basically joins Team Shirou) she also doesn't have an interest in harming the world, and her victory would prevent a lot of harm from happening, but that's really incidental to her main goal of fulfilling her dad's dream of reaching The Root. Sadly, the same can't really be said of Souichirou (who is basically a pawn of Caster) or either of the Matous...
  • In Paramedium, the protagonists are still in school and aren't supposed to let people know that they're also junior members of the Paramedium Guild at the same time. (This apparently extends to not even knowing about each other, until they actually have to work together).

  • Touched on in Gunnerkrigg Court: Emotionless Girl Antimony has no problem talking with ghosts or judo-flipping the class bully, but she has difficulty making normal conversation with her classmates. She's gotten better since opening up to her friend, Kat.
  • Several of El Goonish Shive's characters have struggled with issues such as coming to terms with their sexual orientations and standing up against unfair school policy. Meanwhile, there are interdimensional conflicts going on that directly relate to the central cast, but those only come up in conversation as direct responses to the events happening, and even then they don't last very long.
    • Ellen and Nanase go to school during the day and spend their evenings chasing strange rumors and paranormal sightings. Most of them end up being mundane issues.
  • Used in Angel Moxie, and some teachers are more than meets the eye.
  • The magical girls of Hi to Tsuki to Hoshi no Tama are publicly known to be saving the world, but this does not get them an exemption from school rules.
    School administrator: Look, I don't care if you girls are mutants or Supergirls or Wonder Women or what, you do not get out of having your parents called when you bring God only knows what kind of monsters to school with you. Not to mention skipping out of class.
  • Sleepless Domain is set in a nameless city whose entire society is based around this trope, where fighting monsters by night is treated much like an after-school job. While any Magical Girl can participate in the nightly monster purge, those who register are afforded numerous benefits, including an exclusive private education with hours adjusted to accommodate for their Triple Shifting. The logical dark side to normalizing monster-fighting, of course, is that these girls often end up underestimating the risks of working a side job as a Child Soldier — as Anemone casually notes, part of the reason they make these girls go to school every day is to keep track of them, for when one inevitably doesn't show up.

    Web Original 
  • The Cool Kids Chronicles is about a group of schoolchildren whose other day job is being an independent team of superheroes.
  • Fire Emblem On Forums: While most games avert this, given the High Fantasy roots of the series, Demon Soul Saga plays this straight, as the main characters are superpowered Kaijin who fight the maddened Akuma to protect others.
  • Deconstructed in Sailor Nothing, where fighting the forces of mad, sadistic evil turn out to be much worse than dealing with the Alpha Bitch after all.
  • Less Than Three Comics' Brat Pack are an example of this trope, being made up of high school students, who also save the world on a regular basis.
  • Pretty much standard for the superpowered kids of Team Kimba at the Super Hero School Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe. They even have specific scenes or storylines focused on classwork: Tennyo has trouble with math; Chaka is struggling with English; Shroud doesn't get some of the aspects of physics that her body apparently violates; Phase is bored stiff in her Intro to Superpowers class because the professor is so tedious...
  • The younger heroes in The Descendants attend high school, but are rarely shown in classes. Meanwhile, the students in the Spin-Off, Liedecker Institute are shown almost exclusively in school but haven't performed any heroics yet.
  • In Princess Natasha, Natasha is a secret agent posing as a high school student who must thwart Lubek's schemes without exposing her identity as a princess or a spy.
  • Stellar Ranger Dark Star: The main characters are a team of junior high girls who attend a magic academy to train them to become Stellar Rangers. This often results in them having to fight off alien threats while worrying about their love lives.

    Western Animation 
  • Popularized within American cartoons by Kim Possible. Even before the series rolled out, TV previews summarized the premise of the series as a girl who finds saving a hijacked space station far easier than asking a cute boy out, a problem she faces in the very first episode to be broadcast ("Crush"). Highlighted within the series itself in The Movie, when Kim responds to Drakken's taunting about her social drama with, "You're right, Drakken. Boys? Dating? It's hard. But this? Is easy!" At which point she slugs him.
    • A variation on the theme shows up in the driver's ed episode — the teenage rite of passage of learning to drive a car was a lot harder for her than flying a jet pack or landing a space shuttle.
  • Atomic Betty. One moment, she's getting through the struggles of school, and the next, she goes on intergalactic space adventures defeating an alien cat thing with her robot and alien companions. Her tendency to suddenly disappear and be late to several events up to and including her own birthday party has given her the reputation of being kind, but oddly flaky among her family and friends.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: "Saving the world...before bedtime."
    • One episode has their enemies get a moment of Fridge Brilliance about this, deciding to just postpone their criminal activities to after the girls' bedtime. Hilarity Ensues. A pity they forgot about daylight saving time...
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot: Jenny Wakeman gets the chance to go to school and experiences teenage human stuff. However, she takes on criminals and alien threats as she was originally designed. The entire premise of this is summed up via intro song quite nicely.
  • The Life and Times of Juniper Lee: Juniper faces many struggles in balancing her normal and magical life, and keeping her powers a secret from her family, friends, and anyone non-magical, all while saving the world from any magical evil in the vicinity.
  • American Dragon: Jake Long: The burdens of maintaining The Masquerade have had consequences on Jake's life, with the show's penultimate episode "Being Human" focusing on this. In the episode, due to consistently missing classes and social events, he purposely gets his position as the American Dragon suspended in order to have some time off. The duty falls to his younger sister Haley, and within one week, she's reduced to being a nervous wreck. When she hears their grandfather and her own dragon master complaining about Jake not rising flawlessly to the job, this is her response:
    "HEY! When's the last time either of you were the American Dragon? Well, as the little troll girl currently filling the position, let me tell you it's stinkin' hard! I can't imagine doing it two more days let alone two more years. And to think about everything Jake's gone through; he's had to save magical creatures on a daily basis, lie to his own dad about who he is, say good-bye to the girl he loved, all to protect a mystical world that nobody knows about. He may be the American Dragon but he is also a 14-year-old kid who just wanted a couple days off. If that makes him immature, fine, but self-serving? With all due respect to both of you, STEP OFF!!"
  • Danny Phantom: No matter how many ghosts he defeats, Danny still spends most of his time running from Dash or being shoved into lockers.
    • The very second episode shows that he finds it easier to fight Paulina as a giant ghost dragon than ask her to the dance as a human.
  • The Lauren Faust adaptation of DC Super Hero Girls takes the premise from superheroines (and antiheroines) attending a Super Hero School to this, reconfigures their personalities, and has them protect Metropolis from supervillains as they cope with ordinary high school life, which can get a little weird when you're a metahuman (save for Batgirl).
  • Randy Cunningham: Ninth Grade Ninja with Randy protecting his school from supernatural evil while trying to retain a normal (but fun and infamous) high school life.
  • W.I.T.C.H. actually used this phrase during early (pre-Animated Adaptation) US promotions for the chapter books.
  • Code Lyoko. Time Travel helps with the missed classes and tests on occasion.
    • Increasingly deconstructed, as the constant attacks leave little room for studying or staying in class. Particularly from the second season onward, where the Return to the Past is used less and less as each use increases the memory of the supercomputer and thus XANA's power.
  • X-Men: Evolution Though in the early seasons this got a bit of flak for too much school, not enough world-saving (less "how can I use my powers to help people?" and more "how do I stop people from knowing I have powers?" essentially). The outing of mutants "fixed" that though, bringing in more action and less Wangst.
    • That problem with not enough action stemmed form a Broken Aesop for the first two seasons: Xavier preached about how humans needed to learn to accept mutants. Humanity does not know mutants exist (one assumes there are no other superheroes in the world, but then they had a flashback with Captain America....), so how can they learn to accept them?
  • Parodied, mocked, and even averted in Invader Zim. The eponymous Villain Protagonist may be an evil green alien attempting to bring about the annihilation of the human race, but of course, he spends plenty of time pretending to be an elementary school student ("It's a... skin condition"). Almost, because the Hero Antagonist, Dib, a classmate of Zim, spends much of his screentime either ostracized in school, dealing with his cruel little sister and... trying to expose the world to/save the world from extraterrestrial/supernatural threats.
  • Who could forget Batman Beyond, since this was a major dilemma for the Batman-who's-still-in-high-school Terry McGinnis. A lot of sub-plots in the episodes revolve around this, and even a few major plots do, like when Terry takes his schoolwork on the job in "The Eggbaby". Rather coincidentally, a lot of the villains and problems in the show ALSO come out of Terry's high school.
    • What makes this notable is that Bruce allowed Dick and Tim time off to go to school, do homework, etc since they were Robin. But since Terry is Batman, he is expected to be on call 24/7.
  • For Winx Club, this would be the girls' daily routine during seasons 1 through 3 as they attend Alfea. The Winx graduate during The Secret of the Lost Kingdom, so they no longer apply for this after that.
  • Same thing with Sam, Alex, and Clover of Totally Spies!
  • Transformers: Prime: Though it's more like "Wake Up, Go To School, Help The Giant Robots Save The World And Maintain Their Cover." Jack takes it the most seriously, though Raf is probably the most helpful. Miko can get a little carried away with her excitement.
  • Averted in Iron Man: Armored Adventures. Tony Stark has very little interest in keeping up with his school life and would much rather be working on new armour in the lab or flying around, saving the world. Nevertheless, he seems to have made friends pretty easily despite never being in a high school before and taking very lengthy "bathroom breaks" seemingly every other day.
  • Sym-Bionic Titan, although they started going to school around the same time they started saving the world, the former is more of disguising themselves as Earthlings.
  • Young Justice has elements of this in the first season. Downplayed in the second, which takes place after a Time Skip: most of the original cast are now university-age, and more emphasis is placed on their covert war against aliens and supervillains.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic basically has two plots: Slice of Life and Magical Girl. One day Twilight wakes up to worry about what dress she wears to the gala, the next day she wakes up to worry about saving the Crystal Empire from King Sombra's tyranny. Day after that, let's have a picnic!
  • Teamo Supremo plays it straight, and the heroes get around the school part as they are given passes by the governor, and are excused when saving the world.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Not only does Marinette have her superhero duty with Cat Noir to stop the chaos created by Hawk Moth and his akumas, but she also faces the struggles of family, friends, and her crush on Adrien (a.k.a. Cat Noir). However, this is a world where supervillains are a recognized threat, and when one attacks, Marinette can always just use the excuse that she was one of the many victims to explain her sudden disappearances.
    Marinette: Ladybug saves the world from evil, but who will save me from homework?
  • Atomic Puppet: Joey Felt teams up with the eponymous superhero-turned-sock-puppet to fight crime when not in school, though the show tends to focus more on the superhero antics than the school part.
  • Jim in Trollhunters is forced to balance his life as an Ordinary High-School Student with his other life as the Trollhunter, in the process damaging his relationship with several people in his human life and missing school frequently. This is Played for Drama towards the end of the series when he is in an increasingly strained game of tug-o-war between his two lives and is eventually forced to choose between them. To defeat Gunmar, he must become a troll-human hybrid, but the effects are permanent and he can no longer walk in daylight or live a normal life. However, his mother, Toby, and Claire assure him that they all still want to be a part of his new life even if his old one is over.
  • Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero: Instead of their own world, part-time heroes Penn, Sashi, and Boone zap to worlds in other dimensions to save them.
  • Super Noobs mentions this Trope right up front in the theme song.
  • Hercules: The Animated Series: This show is basically this trope within a Classical Mythology setting. Hercules is here a hero in training, who has to fight his Evil Uncle Hades and many other villains and monsters. But he must also go to High School and deal with normal teenage issues.
  • The main heroes of Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters have to deal with their lives as superheroes and students at a prestigious high school. Stretch in particular has to juggle his costumed life with an over-scheduled civilian life full of school and extracurricular activities.
  • In Sadie Sparks, Sadie has to balance her academic life with learning to be a wizard and saving the world from magical disasters. Of course, those disasters are often of her own making, but still...
  • Big Hero 6: The Series The eponymous hero squad are made up of four engineering students, one school mascot, and one large robot. They often show up to class nearly asleep or have "Study Group" at odd hours of the night to go fight crime. The Dean is aware of their identities, though she's also a Stern Teacher so it may not help.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Get Up Go To School Save The World


The Eternal Truant

Yu was found asleep in his class. Since he can't let his friends know that he fought in a Spriggan assignment, Yu said that he stayed up all night playing games.

Even though he said that he's coming to class, the Japanese Spriggan got an emergency message that he's neeeded in the field.

How well does it match the trope?

4.43 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / WakeUpGoToSchoolSaveTheWorld

Media sources: