Professor Ellis Fowler has spent the last 51 years educating young boys at the Rock Spring School. When it comes time for his retirement, Fowler starts questioning the legacy he'll leave behind.
The Changing of the Tropes:
- Age-Appropriate Angst: Fowler, who is in his seventies, fears that he has no legacy to leave behind and has done nothing with his life.
- All for Nothing: Ellis Fowler feels his entire life has been this. However, after learning about the many of students he inspired in life, he learns it has been quite the opposite.
- Christmas Episode: Professor Fowler is forced to retire at Christmas and plans to commit suicide as he believes that his life has been a failure.
- Cool Teacher: Professor Fowler is a well respected and excellent teacher. Although he is a bit sarcastic, he means it in good fun. His students call him "Old Weirdbeard"; Fowler knows about this and is proud of the nickname.
- Driven to Suicide: After being forced to retire by the school board, Professor Fowler becomes convinced that he has accomplished nothing in his life and plans to shoot himself. However, the ghosts of his former students intervene and assure him that his teachings made a real difference in their lives.
- One-Gender School: Professor Fowler teaches at Rock Spring School for Boys.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: The ghosts of seven of Fowler's former students, Artie Beechcroft, Bartlett, Dickie Weiss, Thompson, Rice, Hudson and Whiting, appear to him in order to prevent him from committing suicide. They tell him that his teachings inspired them as he taught them about patriotism, courage, loyalty, ethics and honesty.
- Real Award, Fictional Character: Artie Beechcroft received the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroism during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Fowler may not have saved any lives directly but his teachings inspired others to save many lives.