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Yellow Sash of Power

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Perhaps it's because schools on TV are constantly forced to deal with teacher shortages. Perhaps it's just an excuse for writers to use all of those police tropes. For whatever reason, one position of responsibility seems to crop up time and time again in school-based shows... the position of hall monitor. These kid cops are given as much powers as teachers... they're allowed to stop their fellow classmates, interrogate them, demand hall passes, and in some extreme cases, even allowed to assign detentions. They've been given the Yellow Sash of Power.

The trope can take several forms. Sometimes, a character who is aware of all the power the position carries desperately wants to be hall monitor, in other cases, a character who worried about all the power going to his head will be very reluctant to put on the sash. Usually, the latter are the ones who receive the sash, and they're always the ones who let it all go to their head.

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Normally this trope is used to teach a lesson about how someone must be careful not to abuse authority that is given to them.

Compare Absurdly Powerful Student Council, another example of students having way more authority than they would in real life. See Also: Red Armband of Leadership


Examples

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    Fan Works 
  • In the Discworld continuum, author A.A. Pessimal has paid creative thought to the deeper workings of the Assassins' School in Ankh-Morpork. Following its canonical expansion to take in more pupils and become co-educational, it has moved onto several additional sites around the City, and its teachers, already overworked and underappreciated, cannot be everywhere. The School has therefore funded a lower grade of retained employee called Teaching Assistants, who have less status and pay than the fully-fledged staff, and who end up doing the dogsbody jobs. Usually they are school graduates paying their way through higher degrees and diplomas. The School (based on British public schools, where Prefect would be a specifically British equivalent of "Hall Monitor") also works on the House system: each House has a peer-elected Head of House and Heads of Years, who also have delegated Prefect responsibilities. Particularly noteworthy or gifted students — generally those whose specialist knowledge far outstrips that of their teachers — are sometimes offered Teaching Assistant status in their specialist areas of knowledge. Sometimes a pupil is given TA status to teach him or her a lesson.... full teachers have purple sashes; TA's wear purple with white piping; prefects merely get a lapel badge.

    Literature 
  • Harry Potter:
    • Discussed in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix where a few prefects, the current sash wearers, specifically point out how outrageous it is to give students the level of power the Inquisitional Squad has been arbitrarily granted. But Umbridge needs enforcers.
    • Even excluding the Inquisitional Squad from Order of the Phoenix, the Prefects are given a remarkable amount of power over the other students throughout the series, and Percy at least ( and later Ron) do have a tendency to let it go to their heads. The state of affairs is based on Victorian and Edwardian boarding schools, where prefects are responsible for maintaining student order outside the immediate classroom, and professors would only get involved if something very serious (i.e. requires police intervention) happens.
  • In the first part of Brightly Burning, Lavan is sent to a school where the headmaster had decided to cut costs by devolving all disciplinary authority to the Sixth Form students. These students repay this trust by bullying the younger students, forcing them to provide treats or entertainment for them and do their homework for them, and caning anyone who objected or disobeyed. When the leader decides to give Lavan eighty lashes for avoiding him and not stealing a tunic length of highly expensive red velvet for him, Lavan's latent pyrokinetic abilities trigger and burn several of the Sixth Form students to death. The investigation afterwords reveals the excesses of the Sixth Form and gets the school shut down until it can be reorganized.
  • A Doug book in the "Disney's Doug Chronicles" series, entitled Doug's Power Trip, uses this trope when Doug becomes hall monitor at his school.
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    Live-Action TV 
  • On an episode of The Brady Bunch, "Law and Disorder," Bobby is made Safety Monitor and proceeds to abuse this power at school and at home.
  • Even Stevens dialed this Up to Eleven. Incorrigible Louis is sentenced to hall-monitor duty, which involves an absurdly over-the-top induction ritual, the power to issue detentions and even dispense retributory wedgies to hallway bullies, and ultimately an investigation of administrative corruption.
  • In an "On Deck" episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody this trope is played completly straight; Zack is made Hall Monitor in an effort to teach him responsibility. He ends up being far too zealous, even using a speed gun to trap walkers going too fast. He makes himself very unpopular throughout the ship. An Aesop is delivered in a very Anvilicious manner.

     Video Games 
  • In Yandere Simulator the Absurdly Powerful Student Council actually doubles as this trope, monitoring the school to look out for trouble. (Aoi probably best exemplifies this as she's the one actually monitoring the hallsnote .) They have the authority to stop fights, report troublemakers to the student councilor, and in extreme cases, like say, a Yandere murdering someone, can straight up pepper spray them and tie them up for the police. Killing one of them causes the student council president to take more extreme security measures, such as cameras and metal detectors.
  • Summertime Saga has Annie, a petty tyrant in the high school hallway and utterly subservient to the Principal.

    Western Animation 
  • In Hey Arnold!, Phoebe is made hall monitor despite her intense reluctance. At first, she is an absolute pushover, but after a pep talk from her friend Helga, Phoebe does a complete U-turn, even pulling people away from the water fountain if they're taking too long.
  • In The Simpsons, Bart surprised his principal by being a fairly credible hall monitor, though he did admit that the main draw was the sense of power and being exactly the kind of person who knows how troublemakers act.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius features another example. Master Neutron is granted hall monitor powers, and inspired by his idol Albert Einstein (who he also believes was once a hall monitor), takes full advantage of his new position, placing people in detention for possession of gum and, in Carl's case, having more llama stickers on his lunchbox than the permitted amount.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants takes this trope to its logical extreme. After SpongeBob is made hall monitor, he believes his jurisdiction to be the entire town of Bikini Bottom, and eventually ends up searching for a criminal known as the Maniac... without realizing that the only maniac running around is him.
  • On Family Guy, Peter Griffin becomes president of the school board, and ends up hiring a Humongous Mecha to police the halls, in a clear Shout-Out to ED-209 from Robocop. During the closing credits, the mechanical "hall monster" even malfunctions and ends up blowing away a teacher.
  • Downplayed in Fillmore!, which treats the sash as the equivalent of a policeman's shield but with very tight limits on authority and an abundance of accountability. The point of the series is to have a Cop Show set in a school, though.
  • Parodied on South Park in "Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy", where Cartman is given mandatory hall monitor duty and turns himself into a pastiche of Dog the Bounty Hunter ("Dawg the Hall Monitor"), going after anyone (even teachers) who doesn't have a hall pass and generally looking for any excuse to use his bear mace.
  • In The Buzz on Maggie episode "Pieface", the hall monitors are shown as having a huge amount of power and resources; including a helicopter.
  • Hall Monitor Sasquatch from My Gym Partner's a Monkey.
  • Rocket Power has Sam becoming a Safety Patrol Officer. He quickly lets the authority go to his head and starts writing out tickets to anyone he sees doing something that he deems a violation to the safety rules.
  • In Ed, Edd n Eddy Kevin sometimes has this role. Notably, in "Hanky Panky Hullabaloo" he gives Eddy a detention for mouthing off to him when told to get his kissing booth out of the hall, and then gives Double D one for sticking up for him.
  • Deconstructed with the character of the hall monitor Jia Wei in Superbook (2011). He frequently enforces the school rules and keeps a pinpoint-accurate note of every student's infractions, to the extent that his record on the two protagonists when they're late for school in one episode shows that it's Joy's first infraction, so she gets off with just a warning, but Chris gets put at risk for detention since it's his third time being late. However, Jia Wei's insistence on following the rules so stringently has made him so unpopular with the other students that none of them will even eat lunch with him, and he knows he's being ostracized by everyone and is deeply bothered by it. At the same time, Chris—who initially resents Jia Wei's authority—comes to acknowledge that the guy's just doing his appointed job of maintaining order and doing it well, and that he himself can choose to be friendly to Jia Wei instead of hating on him him.

 
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South Park - Hall Monitor

Eric gets a little carried away when given the responsibility of 'Hall Monitor'.

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