Heathers: the Musical is a rock musical adaptation of the 80s cult classic Heathers.
Veronica Sawyer is a wry, clever outsider at her school Westerberg High, which is ruled by the Girl Posse the Heathers. Veronica, in an attempt to win favor with the Heathers, forges a hall pass for them, and, almost entirely by accident, becomes In with the In Crowd. However, being part of the Heathers turns out to be the exact opposite of what Veronica wanted. The Heathers belittle and shun any outsider, including Veronica's best friend Martha "Dumptruck" Dunnstock, and the new guy in town, Jason "J.D." Dean, whom Veronica falls for almost instantly. Veronica attempts to resign from the Heathers, but the Alpha Bitch, Heather Chandler, refuses to make things that easy, and promises to ruin what little is left of Veronica's social life. Veronica tries to apologize, and goes over to H. Chandler's house with J.D., where H. Chandler insists Veronica makes her a hangover cure. J.D. "jokingly" suggests putting drain cleaner in it, and pours it into a cup. Veronica accidentally grabs the toxic cup, and as soon as Heather Chandler ingests the "hangover cure," she dies. Veronica is shocked, and J.D. suggests they forge a suicide note to cover their tracks. However, as the bodies start piling up, Veronica realizes Heather Chandler's death may not have been as much of an "accident" as he claimed.
The musical premiered in 2010, and was revived in 2014, both Off-Broadway. There is an official cast recording, with Barrett Wilbert Weed as Veronica and Ryan McCartan as J.D. The creators are trying to get the show a Broadway run and a national run, and there are talks of a film adaptation as well. It had a run on the West End in London in 2018, with a few song updates, and later got its own cast album.
Dear Diary, this musical contains examples of the following tropes:
- Abusive Parents: With a father like Big Bud Dean, it's very little surprise that J.D.'s so messed up. Constantly drunk, always moving around, apparently drove J.D.'s mother to suicide, and speaks to his son with such thinly-veiled contempt that we can almost certainly assume there was some physical abuse as well, Big Bud comes off as very emotionally abusive. And considering all that J.D. gets up to without him noticing, you can make a case for neglect, too.
- Adaptation Expansion: The musical shows how Veronica ended up joining the Heathers in the first place, fleshes out J.D.'s character a bit more so his craziness has an understandable basis, and upgrades Martha from a character with one line to Veronica's best friend (even giving her a solo song). Even the one line, "I love my dead gay son" from the movie is expanded into a song, giving more details about Kurt and Ram's dads. Martha and Ram having a past history is also new. In the movie, only Heather Duke was said to have been friends with Martha, and the most she interacted with Ram was getting the note at the beginning of the movie, then finding out it was a fake minutes later.
- Adaptational Heroism: While Veronica's role in the events remain largely unchanged, one significant change is that in the movie, Veronica does end up killing Kurt after JD chases him through the woods. In the play, JD ends up killing both of them. Also, in the movie, Veronica briefly contemplates whether JD's methods are a good solution to Heather Duke's behavior; in the play she never thinks about it even once.
- Adaptational Nice Guy: Veronica was the Anti-Hero in the movie, and J.D.'s still the villain here, but both of them come off as a lot more sympathetic than they did in the movie. Veronica is less of a jaded snarker and J.D. is downgraded from bloodthirsty sociopath to troubled Anti-Villain.
- Adaptational Villainy: Heather Duke is a bit more vicious than she was in the movie. Heather MacNamara is also a bit crueler. When she asked Veronica to double-date with her, Kurt and Ram in the movie, it was just to even out the numbers; in this version, it was to keep him off her.
- Adults Are Useless: Neither the teachers nor any of the parents are really aware of what's really going on. It becomes most obvious during the school assembly in Act 2.Heather Chandler: This is their big secret. The adults are powerless.
- Adult Fear:
- A child committing suicide isn't something any parent wants to go through. Veronica's mother panics when Veronica fakes her death and Veronica does just as much when apologizing for it.
- The actual turn of events are worse. Your daughter isn't suicidal, but is being pursued by her murderous ex-boyfriend. He easily breaks into her room and kills her with you not knowing until it was too late.
- Age Lift: A minor case. The movie takes place at the end of Veronica's junior year. The musical takes place at the start of her senior year.
- Alas, Poor Villain: J.D. taking the bomb from Veronica, while still in love with her. Veronica begs him not to go, but reluctantly accepts his choice.
- The Alcoholic:
- "Big Bud" Dean. J.D. mentions his father "taught him well" at fixing hangover cures. When Veronica meets Big Bud for the first time he offers her a beer. He also appears to be intoxicated when Veronica meets him.
- The licensed version of the show changes a few lines in "Big Fun" to imply that Heather McNamara's mother also drinks to excess.Heather McNamara (after seeing Veronica doing shots): You're a natural! Just like my mom.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Referenced by Heather Chandler. After Veronica publicly ruins her prank and attempts to resign from the clique, Heather Chandler tells her that she'll be ostracized for doing so. She even states that "no one at school is going to let [Veronica] play their reindeer games!" after the scene Veronica just made.
- Alpha Bitch: Heather Chandler embodies the role. She ruled the school, and had enough power to first make Veronica popular, then Unperson her when she tries to get out.
- Heather Duke tries to fill this gap after Heather Chandler dies. She has a harder time holding onto it, as JD blackmails her with her past with Martha.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: JD interrupts "I Say No" with one of these. Veronica, unimpressed that he doesn't appear to have understood all the reasons she just listed why that isn't good enough weighed against his other behavior, rebuffs him with "dude", and finishes the song, and with it the breakup.
- Armor-Piercing Question: When Veronica tries to justify hurting Martha when she comes a bit too close to finding out the truth about Ram and Kurt's deaths, Heather Chandler shoots back with:Heather: Or he'll kill her? Is that what you're worried about?
- Ascended Extra:
- Ms. Fleming goes from a three-scene joke character to the most significant adult character with her own song.
- Martha goes from a minor character to Veronica's best friend, her character being combined with Betty from the movie.
- Aside Glance: "I'm hot and pissed—" (turns to wink at the audience) "—and on the Pill!"
- Asshole Victim: Deconstructed with Heather Chandler, Kurt, and Ram. Sure, they were utter dicks, since all three of them bullied Veronica and/or Martha at some point, but that still doesn't justify them getting killed, as is demonstrated throughout the story.
- Attention Whore: Heather Duke, considering she was on every news station after Heather Chandler's death.
- The Atoner: By the end, Veronica is willing to die in a bomb blast to make up for what she did. But J.D. tells her You Are Better Than You Think You Are and he atones for them both.
- Audience Participation: During "Shine a Light," Ms. Fleming declares, "Steve, I'm ending our affair! And... I faked it. Every single time." "Steve" is always some poor sap in the front row.
- Awakening the Sleeping Giant: J.D was a highly intelligent and jaded person with access to a gun, bullets, and enough explosives and expertise to pose a threat to the entire town. Once Veronica gave him something to actually care about, he used them.
- Badass Boast: Much of "Dead Girl Walking (Reprise)".Veronica: Heads up, J.D.! I'm a dead girl walking!
Can't hide from me! I'm a dead girl walking!
And there's your final bell.
It's one more dance and then farewell.
Cheek to cheek in hell, with a dead girl walking!
- Badass Bookworm:
- J.D. uses a large book as a weapon when he fights with Kurt and Ram. Not to mention, craziness and murderous nature aside, J.D.'s pretty tough, and undeniably badass. J.D. also frequently quotes literature, and uses the book Moby Dick in his failed plan to stage a suicide for Veronica.
- Veronica was a nerd before she joined with the Heathers, and considering what she went through, she qualifies.
- Badass Longcoat: Just like in the movie, this is the most iconic part of J.D.'s costume: a long, black trenchcoat.
- Bad Girl Song: "Candy Store", where Heather brags about all her misbehavior at school.
- "Dead Girl Walking", where Veronica decides she's going to sleep with J.D.
- Berserk Button:
- Do not threaten or harm Veronica. J.D. makes Heather Chandler, Kurt and Ram see that.
- Do not bully or belittle Heather McNamara if Veronica is around when Heather Chandler is dead. The first puts Heather Duke on Veronica's watch list, the second (when J.D. asks "What's one more dead Heather?") sours her relationship with J.D.
- Hurting Martha is an even bigger one - Veronica was willing to defy all three Heathers and risk her newfound popularity for her. It's Martha's suicide attempt that leads Veronica to realise someone has to stop J.D, even if she has to go down with him.
- Bigger Than Jesus: Parodied. Heather claims that she's "bigger than John Lennon," the man who famously claimed he was "bigger than Jesus."
- Big "SHUT UP!": "SHUT UP, HEATHER!" "Sorry, Heather."
- Big Fun: Martha is overweight, and probably the only character that remains completely sympathetic the whole show.
- Bilingual Bonus: German-speakers will realize that "ich lüge" - the name J.D. gives his supposedly non-fatal bullets - means "I'm lying", as they were in the original.
- Bittersweet Ending: On the bitter side, J.D. kills himself to save Veronica (which breaks her heart along with traumatizing her), and his victims (Heather Chandler, Kurt, and Ram) are permanently dead since This Is Reality. On the sweet side, Veronica and the rest of her classmates are still alive, and it's implied that Veronica, Martha, and Heather McNamara will all eventually be able to move on from their traumatic experiences.
- Black Comedy: Considering the movie it was based on... the entire show. Though to a lesser extent than the original, with many scenes which were played for dark laughs in the movie being played dead serious in the musical namely the death scenes.
- Black Comedy Rape: All of "Blue" (Or "You're Welcome", depending on the production), where Kurt and Ram try to have sex with Veronica.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead:
- The official poster for the musical depicts Heather Chandler as a blonde, Heather Duke as a brunette, and Heather McNamara as strawberry-blonde(redhead). Not to mention in the actual off-Broadway show, Heather Chandler is a redhead and Heather McNamara is a blonde.
- The Rock River Repertory Theatre Company's performance had Heather Chandler (Kendyl Van Kirk) as blonde, Heather McNamara (Olivia Foght) as brunette and Heather Duke (Emily Eidman) as redhead who becomes an Evil Redhead when Chandler dies.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: J.D. operates on this. He has morals and standards, but they don't make any sense to anybody who's sane. For example, he's disgusted by the way Heather Chandler bullies people and by Kurt and Ram's attempts at date rape and spreading of hurtful rumors. So what's his solution? Murder them, of course.
- Bookworm: J.D. is introduced reading a large book and keeping mostly to himself, except for when he flirts with Veronica, during which he quotes Baudelaire at her.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: During "Beautiful," students propose different things they'd like to do with the Heathers. They're all reasonable wishes... except for the last one.Guy #1: I'd like to be their boyfriend!
Students: That would be beautiful.
Girl: If I sat at their table, guys would notice me!
Students: So beautiful...
Martha: I'd like them to be nicer...
Students: That would be beautiful.
Guy #2: I'd like to kidnap a Heather and photograph her naked in an abandoned warehouse and leave her tied up for the rats!
- Break His Heart to Save Him: Martha starts connecting the dots on the fact that Kurt and Ram were murdered due to the fact that she knows Ram couldn't have been gay or seeing Kurt - he wrote her a love note! To shut her down from investigating J.D. and potentially getting herself killed in the process, Veronica proceeds to harshly tell her that she forged that note. It works... but how alone Martha feels after finding out that what she thought was a token of affection from her childhood sweetheart was a lie and that her best friend had a hand in playing such a cruel trick on her triggers her suicide attempt.
- Break the Cutie: Heather McNamara.Heather: I've thought about killing myself. The last guy I slept with killed himself because he was gay for his linebacker. Then my best friend seemed to have it all together, but now she's gone too. And now my stomach hurts worse and worse and every morning on the bus I feel my heart beating louder and faster. And I'm like - Jesus, I'm on the freaking bus again because all my rides to school are dead.
- Martha after Veronica tells her Ram's note was fake. It's one of the things that drives her to suicide.
- Break the Haughty:
- Averted with Heather Chandler. Nothing deflates Heather Chandler's ego. Up to and including being murdered. (If anything, her ego gets bigger.) "Me inside of me" had her sit up while Veronica forged her suicide note to complain "Jesus, you're making me sound like Air Supply!" but seeing the impact on how it affects the student body, she goes "I'm bigger than John Lennon!" She does get upset at Heather Duke and McNamara seemingly shrugging off her death to raid her locker, but only for a momet.
- Heather Duke gets a bit at the end, with Veronica taking the red scrunchie and her power back from her. It's implied in a small Defrosting Ice Queen moment that she may go on to become friends with one of the more unpopular girls.
- Heather Duke is Heather Chandler's personal Chew Toy for the first third of the musical. When she dies, Heather Duke ascends to being the new Alpha Bitch partly because she was sick and tired of being the whipping girl, and puts Heather McNamara down in response.
- Martha is a tragic example - the only character who is kind to her is Veronica.
- Cassandra Truth: At one point, Veronica admits to killing Heather Chandler, Ram, and Kurt. Everyone thinks she's just trying to get attention, but it's true.
- Catapult Nightmare: Veronica has one after sleeping with J.D., featuring Heather Chandler. It's this which spurs Veronica onto attempting to apologise to her, with disastrous results.
- Chekhov's Skill: For Veronica, forgery. Forging a hall pass for the Heathers gets her into their good graces. Later she forges Heather Chandler's suicide note to keep from being accused of her murder, and the note that gets Ram and Kurt Mistaken for Gay and J.D. later kills both of them to keep them from denying it.
- Clique Tour: The ensemble for the scenes at Westerburg consists of students helpfully named Stoner Chick, New Wave Girl, Young Republicanette, Beleaguered Geek, Preppy Stud, Hipster Dork, and Drama Club. The real irony is that despite Veronica condemning the cliquishness of high school, these kids are always seen in each other's company.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: J.D. is a very dark version. He clearly operates on different standards and logic than most people, and even if it weren't for the whole Serial Killer thing, he'd still be a little strange. It's humorous (and a little sad) in "Freeze Your Brain," but terrifying in "Meant to Be Yours."
- Heather McNamara comes across as this too.Heather McNamara: And a symmetrical face! If I took a meat cleaver down the center of your skull, I'd have matching halves. That's very important!
- Heather McNamara comes across as this too.
- Color Motif:
- Heather Chandler wears red, as a symbol of her power and her aggressiveness.
- Heather Duke wears green, as a symbol of her jealousy towards Chandler although, once the latter dies, she starts wearing Chandler's red scrunchie, and an April 17th Twitter post from the feed for The Musical has Duke sing "Never Shut Up Again" when Chandler dies, "All Hail the Queen. I wear the Red." So like some productions she MIGHT wear Red once Act Two begins (ironically, even if her outfit does change, she notably retains her green kneesocks and green shoelaces).
- Heather McNamara wears yellow, which indicates that she's the weak one.
- Once she joins the Heathers, Veronica starts wearing blue.
- J.D. always wears black, as he turns out to be the villain of the story, with intentions to kill other classmates.
- Pink is often associated with Martha, the sweetest character of the show. Unlike the other examples, this isn't an official association.
- Composite Character: Betty Finn is cut out, and her character is combined with Martha.
- Comically Missing the Point:Veronica: All we want is to be treated like human beings. Not to be experimented on like guinea pigs or patronized like bunny rabbits.
Ms. Fleming: I do not patronize bunny rabbits!
- And later:Ms. Fleming: Veronica?! Jason Dean told me you'd just committed suicide.
Veronica: Yeah, well, he's wrong about a lot of things.
Ms. Fleming: Oh. Well, I put together a lovely tribute. Especially considering the short notice.
- And later:
- Crapsack World: J.D is convinced that they live in one. Veronica has much more hope.
- Damned by Faint Praise: Invoked by Veronica, writing in her diary.
- Dark and Troubled Past: J.D.'s father is an abusive drunk, he moves around a lot (about every six weeks, which means he's been to ten high schools), he's always been picked on for being, well, a tad strange, and his mother killed herself while he was watching.
- Dark Reprise:
- The reprise of "Dead Girl Walking" in the musical manages to be both this and a Triumphant Reprise. Triumphant because Veronica's determined to stop J.D. at all costs, and is ready to kick some ass. Dark because, while in the original, she's talking about her social standing, in the reprise, she's talking about actually dying in order to protect everyone else.
- "Shine a Light" starts out as Mrs. Fleming's upbeat anti-suicide anthem, but it's reprise is song by a hallucination of Heather Duke when Heather McNamara tries to commit suicide while Heather Duke eggs her on.
- "I Am Damaged" manages to combine "Our Love Is God" with "Seventeen", and make it as dark as humanly possible.
- Date Rape Averted: When drunk, Kurt and Ram try to hump any girl they can get their hands on, but never succeed.Heather McNamara: Oh, but that was the deal. If I got you to come, Kurt promised to leave me alone.
Veronica: So you avoided date rape... by volunteering me... for date rape.
Heather McNamara: God, you make it sound ugly.
- Dead Person Conversation: Veronica has multiple oness with Heather Chandler, Kurt, and Ram after they're killed. If anyone else is on stage, it's usually one-sided.
- Death Equals Redemption: Right before his death, J.D. realizes that all he could do was destroy things, whereas Veronica has the potential to actually make things better.
- Defrosting Ice King: Somewhat subverted. J.D. explains in "Our Love is God" that Veronica defrosted him the moment they met. Of course, given all he does to win and keep her love, maybe he should've stayed frozen...
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Loads due to taking place in late 1989 and early 1990.
- "Dead Gay Son" combines this with an in-universe case of Fair for Its Day, as despite Kurt and Ram's dads vowing to stand up for gay rights in their (not actually gay) sons' honors, they do so whilst posthumously flanderizing the two of them into Camp Gay stereotypes.
- Intense bullying, anti-intellectualism, blatant sexism and misogyny (including the Female Misogynist variant as seen with the Heathers), casual homophobia - All things that are greatly looked down upon today, are generally treated as a non-issue by the staff and (most of) study body of Westerberg High School.
- On a smaller note, despite technically still being minors, Veronica and her friends are frequently show wandering without adult/parent supervision. In the 21st century, this is generally seen as a lot more neglectful on the parental side and might even have concerned neighbors calling Social Services.
- Descent into Darkness Song: "Our Love is God" begins as a sweet, hopeful duet between J.D. and Veronica. Then J.D. sets his scheme to kill Kurt and Ram into action, and the implications of the song get a lot scarier.
- Destructive Romance: Veronica and J.D.'s relationship is passionate and loving, but wildly unhealthy and obsessive, especially on J.D.'s end. Veronica realizes this, but J.D. considers it to be true love.
- The Determinator: Veronica in the reprise of "Dead Girl Walking" will do all she can to stop J.D. from blowing up Westerberg High and killing everyone at the pep rally with his bomb. This animated cinematic shows the emotion of the D-to-F transition she uses to let her intent be known:Veronica: His solution is a lie,
no one here deserves to die.
Except for me and the monster I've created!
- Dirty Old Man: Some of Big Bud Dean's comments toward Veronica sounds like he's hitting on her.
- Dissonant Serenity: Played for horror during "Our Love is God," as JD continues to lovingly sing his worship to Veronica after just killing two people in cold blood. Veronica is clearly terrified.
- Dramatically Missing the Point:
- Veronica notes in "Beautiful" that the Heathers "float above it all. They're solid Teflon, never bothered, never harassed", only for us to see not a few lines after this, Heather Duke puking in the school bathroom and Chandler mocking her over it, showing these girls are not as untouchable as Veronica believes them to be.
- Just before "Lifeboat", Ms. Fleming urges the students to open up about their feelings. Despite her claiming to be trying to prevent suicides, she completely ignores Martha (who was already upset from Veronica revealing the Awful Truth earlier) and focuses on Heather McNamara instead. Martha tries to kill herself two songs later.
- Driven to Suicide:
- J.D. makes the deaths of his victims look like these, by making Veronica forge suicide notes for each of them.
- Martha jumps off a bridge at the end of "Kindergarten Boyfriend" because she's unable to get over the death of her childhood crush Ram, but she survives the attempt.
- Heather McNamara tries to kil herself by overdosing on pills after Heather Duke humiliates her in front of the whole school, but is stopped, first by the childproof cap on the pillbox, then by Veronica.
- It's implied J.D.'s mother was driven into killing herself by his father in the backstory.
- Dual-Meaning Chorus: "Dead Girl Walking" and its reprise.
- The first time Veronica sings it, she's referring to her imminent social death: how she's going to be "stuffed and mounted on the wall" by the Heathers.
- The second time, she's talking about actual death, since she's just faked her own suicide, and is intent on stopping J.D., even at the expense of her own life. She even sings, "No one here deserves to die / except for me and the monster I created!"]]
- Dying Alone: Heather McNamara is terrified of dying lonely and forgotten. But Veronica keeps her from making it a reality when Heather Duke tries to make those terrors happen.
- Easily Forgiven: When Heather McNamara is nearly Driven to Suicide by Heather Duke in "Shine A Light (Reprise)", Veronica doesn't hold her previous action against her. Indeed, she keeps McNamara from overdosing, and that leads to her getting a tearful embrace from the suicidal girl.
- Eating Lunch Alone: Heather Chandler threatens Veronica with being ostracized after she ruins her prank on Martha.
- Establishing Character Moment:
- These lines make Martha's sweet, friendly character evident right from the start:Martha: I rented The Princess Bride.
Veronica: Again? Don't you have it memorized by now?
Martha: What can I say? I'm a sucker for a happy ending!
- Also...Heather McNamara: If I took a meat cleaver down the centre of your skull I'd have matching halves. That's very important.
- There's an interesting inversion in that Heather Duke's bookishness and bulimia make her seem like the most vulnerable Heather, while McNamara seems like just another wannabe Alpha Bitch. This is the opposite of how the characters develop.
- These lines make Martha's sweet, friendly character evident right from the start:
- The Eleven O'Clock Number: "Dead Girl Walking (Reprise)", where Veronica steels herself for a final confrontation.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: J.D.'s mother has long since died by the time the show starts, but it's obvious that he loved her a lot and still misses her. It's hinted that he blames his father for her death.
- Even Evil Can Be Loved: J.D.'s victims are usually awful people, but that doesn't mean nobody was affected by the loss. Heather McNamara in particular is directionless and afraid without her friends and contemplates joining them.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Seems to be a recurring theme, as the "evil" characters are really just disturbed or maladjusted. Heather Chandler might be the only antagonist never shown to care for someone else.
- Kurt and Ram are pretty unpleasant people, but they clearly enjoy each other's company, and when Ram is killed, Kurt cries over the death of his best friend.
- J.D., as bad as he is, really does love Veronica and wants her to be alongside him. He unfortunately won't or can't change, but when he learns he'll never win her over, he settles for sabotaging his own plan and killing himself, to save her. With a forlorn "Hope you'll miss me. Wish you'd kiss me."
- Everyone Has Standards: Heather Chandler was mean, Heather Duke more so once Chandler died, but Heather McNamara was the Token Good Teammate who was under Toxic Friend Influence from Chandler when she was alive. Once Chandler, Ram and Kurt die, McNamara shows her suicidal anxieties from losing three people she knew: her "best friend," her boyfriend and the "friend he was gay for." Heather Duke magnified those anxieties in public to make Heather McNamara want to kill herself, but only Veronica's intervention kept that from happening and lets her bond to Veronica; leading Mama Bear Veronica to be seen as a rival by Duke. When J.D. asks "What's one more Dead Heather?" Veronica defends McNamara "Because She's My Friend!"
- Even if he never outright condemns it, Ram notably never instigates the bullying Martha faces, offers her some mean (if valid) advice at the party during "Big Fun" and when Veronica gives Martha a Breaking Speech about forging Ram's love letter to her, Ram chastises Veronica when Martha runs off in tears and calls it "way harsh" - Kurt even agrees with him!
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
- J.D. blames Veronica breaking up with him on the student body, not the fact that he was a murderous animal, and resolves to blow up the student body.
- The LA preview had a short solo for Heather Duke during "Big Fun." After Veronica saves Duke from Kurt's advances and says that she did it because friends should "have each other's back," Duke fails to understand this and wonders if Veronica is being sarcastic. She then concludes that Veronica is pretending to be nice so that she will let her guard down, and becomes worried that Veronica is trying to steal her spot as the third most popular girl in school.
- Evil Redhead:
- In the original off-Broadway run, Heather Chandler, who was played by Jessica Keenan Wynn (natural redhead) and Charissa Hogeland (her understudy who was also a redhead at the time).
- The Rock River Repertory Theater Company had redhead Emily Eidman portraying Heather Duke, who becomes the new Alpha Bitch after Heather Chandler dies.
- Exact Words: In "Big Fun", Ram uses this in a rare moment of wit:
- Famous Last Words: Several.
- "Corn... nuts!" (Heather Chandler)
- "One... two..." (Ram Sweeney)
- "WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!" (Kurt Kelly)
- "Our love is God." (J.D.)
- Subverted by Veronica's, "Dear Diary; the irony in all of this is that I did not get to compose my own suicide note..." She intended for these to be her last words (either to herself or to the audience), but is stopped by J.D., which leads to the example above.
- Final Love Duet: J.D. and Veronica sing reprises of their previous duets throughout the climax, culminating in J.D.'s suicide.
- Forced to Watch: When Veronica asks for the details on how J.D's mother died, J.D tells her that she walked into a building she knew his father was about to blow up, and waved at him from the window before it exploded. All while J.D watched helplessly.
- Foreshadowing:J.D.: I'd trade my life for yours. Which he does, when he takes the bomb from her.
- You can join the team/ or you can bitch and moan/ you can live the dream/ or you can die alone, when Heather M is trying to kill herself.
- In "Beautiful," Veronica sings the line fight the urge to light a match and set this dump ablaze. Which is exactly what J.D. wants to do towards the end.
- Also in "Beautiful," Veronica sings college will be paradise if I'm not dead by June. By "Dead Girl Walking," the Heathers have resolved to kill her social life. It's even darker in Dead Girl Walking (Reprise) where she's willing to literally die to make up for what she did.
- J.D. goes from confused to excited in "Dead Girl Walking" right when Veronica says "Make this whole town disappear."
- Football Fight Song: "Hey-yo, Westerberg! Tell me what's that sound? Here comes Westerberg, comin' to put you in the ground!"
- Freudian Excuse:
- Kurt and Ram's behaviour makes a lot more sense when you see how their fathers treat them - they're simply copying what they know. They even lament their behaviour in their internal-monologue lines in "Beautiful", with "Why did I hit him?" (Kurt) and "Why do I act like such a creep?" (Ram). Veronica even notes they could have grown out of it eventually.
- J.D's father is basically a walking one, insulting and demeaning his son with every other sentence. However, J.D.'s most significant Freudian Excuse is severe damage from watching his mother commit suicide, possibly her own attempt to finally escape his awful dad.
- Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: A major point of the song "I Say No" is Veronica spelling this out to the audience regarding J.D.Blame your childhood
Blame your dad.
Blame the life you never had
But hurting people?
That's your choice, my friend...
- A Friend in Need: When Veronica saves Heather McNamara from the suicidal anxieties that Heather Duke amplified from "Shine a Light (reprise)", Heather McNamara bonds to Veronica as she realizes Veronica wouldn't let her kill herself when others would have. She tightly hugs Veronica as she knows now Veronica won't let her be alone and lost like before. When Veronica offers her hand to her, Heather McNamara takes it during "Seventeen (Reprise)."
- Full-Circle Revolution: Heather Duke got pretty badly picked on as Heather Chandler's Beta Bitch. Once Duke takes over Chandler's role, she immediately starts tearing into Heather McNamara as cruelly as possible. Seemingly averted at the end, where Veronica declares herself new sheriff in town but intends to make changes.
- Gender Flip: At least one production has featured a female J.D.
- Generation Xerox: Mr. Kelly and Mr. Sweeney are Kurt and Ram, just thirty years older.
- Ghost Song: "Yo Girl", sung by the murdered students while Veronica life is spinning out of control.
- A God Am I: J.D. hints that he believes he is a god in the song "Our Love is God," particularly later in the song, when he changes "God" to "we."We can start and finish wars.
We're what killed the dinosaurs.
We're the asteroid that's overdue.
The dinosaurs choked on the dust,
they died because God said they must.
The new world needed room
for me and you.
- Goodbye, Cruel World!: "The Me Inside Of Me" is Veronica and J.D.'s faked suicide note for Heather Chandler.
- Good Parents: Veronica's parents come off as this, if a bit clueless. Their reaction to J.D. coming over and telling them Veronica is suicidal is to try and comfort her, and get her to open up. When Veronica refuses to address their concerns and runs off to her room, her mother, rather than getting angry, gives her a little time by herself before fixing her a snack and bringing it up to her.
- G-Rated Drug: J.D. uses slushie brain freezes to cover up all the deep psychological trauma he has. In his own words, who needs cocaine?
- Growing Up Sucks: Veronica laments this in "Beautiful," remembering how happy and nice everyone was when they were kids. Then again it's given she is also greatly looking forward to college, so it's more "being in high school sucks."
- Hate Sink: "Big Bud" Dean, J.D.'s abusive father is pretty much the only character in the entire musical to be portrayed as utterly loathsome and irredeemably awful.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Veronica is fully prepared to take the bomb away from the school, knowing she'll blow up, too, in order to save everyone else. She doesn't have to, because J.D. insists on sacrificing himself for Veronica, saying she's a better person than he and can make things better. It's surprisingly touching.
- Hopeless Suitor: Martha still has a crush on Ram, which he doesn't seem to return. Ram and Kurt also get rejected by... every girl they try to get their hands on.
- Hope Spot: During "Seventeen," Veronica convinces J.D. to stop the killings. It doesn't last.
- Hot-Blooded: J.D., who in his Establishing Character Moment, beats up Kurt and Ram.
- Hypocritical Humor: The possibility of the Heathers slut-shaming Veronica for her night with J.D. (her first time having sex). The Heathers already sang about how much they like screwing guys in "Candy Store", and Heather Chandler apparently once traded sex with the football team for pizza.
- Hypocritical Singing: "The Me Inside Of Me" is an interesting variant: Heather Chandler sings the suicide note Veronica and J.D wrote, which portrays her as an insightful, depressed girl who felt trapped by her popularity and beauty, and donates her possessions to "crippled kids, or to those ghetto moms on crack". However, Heather is a cruel and selfish person who hates the way Veronica's making her sound.Heather: Jesus, you're making me sound like Air Supply!
- But she changes her mind when the whole school reacts in a way where they realize there is some of Heather Chandler inside them, too, then Heather not only thinks "Holy Crap! This is AWESOME!" but realizes "I'm bigger than John Lennon!"
- Ignored Confession: In a moment of frustration, Veronica screams that she killed Heather Chandler in front of the whole school; they laugh in her face, with Heather Duke dismissing it as a cry for attention.
- I Just Want to Be Loved:
- Martha tries to commit suicide because she thinks no one likes her. Even Veronica had stopped hanging out with her regularly.
- J.D., in his own way. Specifically, he wants Veronica to love him, whether she wants to or not. After all, his mother committed suicide and his dad is barely in his life.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: "Seventeen" is Veronica's plea to J.D. for this, and doing ordinary teenage things.
- I'm Going to Hell for This: The opening of "Prom or Hell?" in Act 2 has Veronica sing this after Ram and Kurt's deaths:Veronica: I'm going steady, mostly he's awesome,
if a bit too "rock-and-roll".
Lately he's bumped off three of my classmates,
God have Mercy on my soul!
- The Immodest Orgasm: The ending of "Dead Girl Walking." "Love this dead girl — yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" "Ow!" "YYYYYEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAH!"
- In Love with Your Carnage: Veronica has a song about it: "Fight For Me." (She draws the line at murder, though. Sorry, J.D.)
- Innocently Insensitive:
- Veronica during "Freeze Your Brain".Veronica: Does your mommy know you eat all that crap?
J.D.: Not anymore! When Mom was alive,
we lived halfway normal...
Veronica: (silent Oh, Crap! reaction)
- Heather McNamara has a moment of this. Veronica is worried about Martha after telling her the Awful Truth, and McNamara suggests she might be in the library because "that's where unpopular people go." She hurriedly corrects herself when she realises how that sounds.
- Veronica during "Freeze Your Brain".
- Interclass Friendship: This version seems to suggest that Veronica is not as well off as the other Heathers, particularly in the croquet scene where Chandler makes catty remarks about the size of her house and the "pâté" (liverwurst) her parents serve.
- Intercourse with You: "Dead Girl Walking," sung by a very drunk Veronica and a very confused but willing J.Ds, as the former breaks into the latter's bedroom to have some comfort sex.
- Ironic Echo:
- In "Shine a Light (Reprise)", Heather Duke twists some of the lyrics of "Candy Store" against Heather McNamara while trying to convince her to kill herself.You can join the team, / or you can bitch and moan. / You can live the dream, / or you can die alone!
Your ass is off the team. / Go on and bitch and moan. / You don't deserve the dream. / You're gonna die alone!
- In "Dead Girl Walking," Veronica breaks into J.D.'s room by climbing in through his window. In "Yo Girl," J.D. breaks into Veronica's room by climbing in through her window — only this time, the circumstances are very different.
- In "Shine a Light (Reprise)", Heather Duke twists some of the lyrics of "Candy Store" against Heather McNamara while trying to convince her to kill herself.
- Jerkass Has a Point: He wasn't nice about it, but Ram does admittedly have a point when he tells Martha "people wouldn't hate you so much if you acted normal".
- Karma Houdini: J.D's father isn't seen again after Veronica dumps J.D, and while J.D redeems himself in the end with his Heroic Sacrifice, his father is seemingly never punished for his abuse of his son and implied involvement of his wife's death.
- Kick the Dog: A lot of the things Heather Chandler does, but forcing Veronica to beg for forgiveness on her knees just to humiliate her in front of J.D. is a standout.
- Heather Duke mocking Heather McNamara for having suicidal tendencies.
- Heather McNamara joining in with everyone else Slut-Shaming Veronica in "Blue (Reprise)".
- Kid with the Leash: In an unusual example of this trope, it's noted explicitly by Veronica once Heather Chandler dies that she was the only person at school capable of controlling Kurt and Ram - without her around they promptly run wild.
- Kill the Cutie:
- Narrowly averted with Martha, who just breaks a few bones, though she's injured enough to be in a motorised scooter during the finale.
- Also averted with Heather McNamara who is barely stopped from swallowing pills by Veronica.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Veronica's cynical and quite the snarker, but she's the only one fixing Westerberg's problems with bullying and suicide.
- Lack of Empathy: J.D. suffers from this, obviously. But Heather Duke reveals herself to be this once she takes over. She mocks Heather McNamara for expressing her loneliness, and treats Martha's actual suicide attempt like a joke.
- Last-Second Word Swap:Veronica: My date for the pep rally kind of blew... me off."
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Heather Duke is a major Flat Character, to the point where Veronica outright claims "She has no discernible personality." As a reflection of this, most productions of the musical have Heather Duke only sing reprises and bit parts of group numbers.
- Leitmotif: If one listens closely, there's quite a few of them.
- Veronica is associated with a riff from "Beautiful," specifically the part in which she sings Hold your breath and count the days / We're graduating soon, or in the second verse Dream of ivy covered walls / and smoky French cafés. This tune also appears instrumentally when she speaks to the Heathers in a later part of "Beautiful," then when she gets hilariously drunk in "Big Fun" and when she speaks to Kurt and Ram in "Our Love is God."
- The Heathers are represented by the riff in Beautiful where the students sing Ahh / Heather / Heather / And Heather, and later Heather / Heather / Heather / and someone. A slightly scary instrumental version of this appears as Heather McNamara makes a comment about taking a meat cleaver down the center of Veronica's skull (and having matching halves as a result!). It is then reprised in Big Fun as the three plot to embarrass Martha.
- There are also two leitmotifs associated with death.
- The most obvious of these is J.D.'s apparent leitmotif, or the one that occurs when he's about to wreak havoc. This tune first appears when he chases down Kurt prior to shooting him. It then reappears in "Yo Girl" in the lines Veronica's running on- running on fumes now / Veronica's totally fried / Veronica's gotta be tripping on shrooms now / thinking that she can hide / Veronica's done for- there's not doubt now / Notify next of kin / Veronica's trying to keep him out now / Too late! He got in!. It then reappears in Meant to Be Yours when J.D. Is about to bust down the door to the closet in which Veronica is hiding in the lines VERONICA!!! / Open the- open the door, please / Veronica, open the door / Veronica, can we not fight anymore, please? / Can we not fight anymore? / Veronica, sure, you're scared- I've been there / I can set you free / Veronica, don't make me come in there / I'M GONNA COUNT TO THREE!
- When something bad, in general, is about to happen, the opening two notes from "Our Love is God" play. These two notes play when J.D. and Veronica first enter Heather Chandler's house and are about to kill her. They also play in the transition to the "Blue" scene, which has a situation that had Veronica not handled, could have lead to Date Rape. This situation also eventually leads to J.D. resolving to kill Kurt and Ram.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: When Veronica decides to stop J.D. from blowing up the school, she openly declares just how doen she is with fucking around during "Dead Girl Walking (Reprise)"
- Lighter and Softer: Than the original film, in a sense. It's campier, Veronica and J.D. get the Adaptational Nice Guy treatment, and things like Veronica's self harming are cut. Though this is partially justified given the different ethos animating the story - The movie was a cynical deconstructive satire of 80s teen comedies, while the musical is a more humanistic rebuke of the source material's misanthropy; emphasizing that people are made bad through social factors, rather than just being born bad. Ironically, the more psychological perspective the musical takes can also be seen as making it Darker and Edgier than the film after a fashion.
- Love at First Sight: Veronica and J.D. Veronica is immediately fascinated by J.D.'s willingness to stand up to bullies and how little he cares about the ihghschool's pecking order.
- Love Is Like Religion: J.D. states that his love for Veronica has the power of God in "Our Love is God."J.D.: I worship you.
- Love Makes You Dumb: Martha is a sweet, naïve girl, but she proves later on that she's actually quite an insightful person, accurately concluding that Kurt and Ram were murdered and that J.D was involved. But when it comes to Ram, she wants to believe that he still cares about her so much that she goes to his party, which has disastrous consequences for Veronica when she protects Martha from the prank the Heathers were planning.
- Love Makes You Evil: J.D. doesn't show his true self until he meets Veronica, who he thinks is a kindred spirit. However, after he kills the girls who bullied her and the two Jerk Jocks who sexually harassed her, Veronica pulls away. In the end, though, Love Redeems him as he saves Veronica from having to sacrifice herself.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Freeze Your Brain" has a bouncy, classic rock soundtrack, while J.D. sings about how when life sucks, you need to just...J.D.: Freeze your brain,
shatter your skull,
fight pain with more pain.
Forget who you are,
unburden your load,
forget in six weeks
you'll be back on the road.
When the voice in your head
says you're better off dead,
don't open a vein...
- Madness Mantra: J.D. falls into the unnerving habit of expressing his love for Veronica through slightly fanatic phrases.
- "I worship you. I'd trade my life for yours."
- "We can start and finish wars. We're what killed the dinosaurs. We're the asteroid that's overdue."
- "Our love is God. Our love is God. Our love is God..."
- The Makeover: Veronica at the end of "Beautiful." Fortunately, the show doesn't try to pretend she wasn't attractive before ("For a greasy little nobody, you do have good bone structure..."); just with drab clothes and no special effort put into her appearance. Once she does put the extra effort forth, she's a knockout.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Ghosts, or guilt-induced hallucinations? You decide.
- Medium Awareness: As one Tumblr user points out, Kurt and Ram appear to be the only ones who notice or react to musical numbers and monologuing. Ram overhears Veronica insulting him during "Beautiful" and Kurt is very confused when J.D. sings "Our Love is God" while holding him at gunpoint.
- Meaningful Echo: A fairly subtle but dark example shows up in Shine a Light (Reprise), echoing Candy Store."You can join the team, or you can bitch and moan. You can live the dream, or you can die alone."
"Your ass is off the team. Go on and bitch and moan. You don't deserve the dream. You're gonna die alone!"
- Minor Character, Major Song: The musical has two big numbers (Dead Gay Son and Shine a Light) that are sung by pretty minor characters (Kurt and Ram's dads, and Mrs. Fleming, respectively).
- Ironically, Heather Duke is the only major character who doesn't get her own song - Heather Chandler has "Candy Store" and McNamara has "Lifeboat", but Duke only ever sings reprises, notably "Lifeboat (Reprise)" and "Blue (Reprise"), probably to reflect that she has "no discernible personality" and merely piggybacks off what her popular peers are doing.
- As of the London production, this is no longer the case, since Heather Duke does have her own song in the form of "Never Shut Up Again".
- There's also a few songs for supporting characters, but they don't fit the trope as much as the top two (they are Blue for Kurt and Ram, Lifeboat for Heather McNamara, and Kindergarten Boyfriend for Martha).
- Ironically, Heather Duke is the only major character who doesn't get her own song - Heather Chandler has "Candy Store" and McNamara has "Lifeboat", but Duke only ever sings reprises, notably "Lifeboat (Reprise)" and "Blue (Reprise"), probably to reflect that she has "no discernible personality" and merely piggybacks off what her popular peers are doing.
- Missing Mom: J.D.'s mother killed herself when he was younger. She's only brought up two or three times in the show, but it's clear he misses her terribly.
- Kurt and Ram's mothers are never seen and their fathers even come out of the closet during "My Dead Gay Son" without even mentioning their wives.
- Mistaken for Gay: At the beginning of Act 2, Kurt and Ram thanks to Veronica's forged note and J.D.'s killing the two to keep them from denying it, die with their whole community thinking they were gay lovers.
- Musical Exposition: "Beautiful". It describes the goings-on at westerburg, which characters to look out for and even what year it is right at the start. It also shows Veronica' motivations for joining the Heathers and introuces her talent for forgery.
- Musicalis Interruptus:Heather Duke: Honey, watchu waiting for—
Heather Chandler: SHUT UP, HEATHER! Step into my candy store...
- Also...Students: No one thinks a pretty girl can touch you!-
New Wave Girl: Heather touching me!
Students: But she's made us better than we were!
- Mood-Swinger: J.D. to a frightening degree during "Meant to Be Yours." He goes back and forth from singing how he plans to kill everyone in the school and that Veronica deserves to be dead in 4/4 time, then softly sings that she needs to stay with him with a completely different - almost waltz-like - melody.
- Mood Whiplash: Quite a bit of it, possibly deliberate to keep the tone from getting too depressingly dark. Take "Shine a Light (Reprise)", a number about a sobbing girl trying to commit suicide while imagining her friends urging her on. It's followed by a brief scene of her having a touching conversation with Veronica while mumbling through a mouthful of sleeping pills.
- Morality Pet: Martha is Veronica's, as the Heathers trying to utterly humiliate her at Ram's party is very much the last straw for Veronica and she hands in her resignation then and there, but Heather Chandler isn't having any of it. She does her best to protect Martha from the popular kids, but with very mixed results.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Veronica begins to question the morality of her actions when J.D. murders Kurt and Ram. She wanted revenge, but she didn't want them dead. And again after Martha's suicide attempt.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg:Martha: My kindergarten boyfriend and I... and a horse with wings.
- Mythology Gag: Many of the lines from the movie get repeated verbatim in the play, some turned into songs like "Our Love is God" and "I Love My Dead Gay Son".
- The song "Big Fun" references the band Big Fun from the movie, that sang the song "Teenage Suicide (Don't Do It)" that is constantly mentioned, and bringing them to the school is what Heather Duke thinks the petition at the end is really for.
- The intro song is called "Beautiful". In the movie, Veronica used the sarcastic catch phrase "You're beautiful" to respond to anyone she felt was showing Condescending Compassion.
- Nice Girl: Martha, for all the good it does her. She's the only character in the entire musical who never goes out of her way to harm another, steadfastly believes in the good in people and seems to be the only one who to cares enough about the murder victims (or at least one of them) to realize their "suicides" probably weren't ones at all.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
- Kurt and Ram Slut-Shaming Veronica makes them seem as "villains" in a vulgar way to J.D. So it seems they're validating his killing them both.
- Heather Duke wanted to show she could outdo Heather Chandler once she becomes Lead Heather, but trying to get Heather McNamara to kill herself got Veronica to foil that plan, and drive the Token Good Teammate of the original Heathers to bond to Veronica, not to mention it briefly puts her on J.D's "list". She later gets the red scrunchie taken from her by Veronica, who declares "Brand new sheriff's come to town."
- J.D. asking "What's one more dead Heather?" drives a wedge between him and Veronica, and causes her to break from him.
- And later, explaining his plan to Veronica gave her the resolve needed to defeat him and save the school.
- No Bisexuals: Martha concludes Ram's suicide was faked because he couldn't have been in love with Kurt (as the faked suicide note claims) if they kissed as kindergartners — completely ignoring the possiblity that he was bisexual. She was right, but still... Of course, the show takes place in 1989, so it's entirely likely the possibility wouldn't have occurred to her.
- No Place for Me There: At the show's end, J.D., who claims to want to "make the world a decent place for people who are decent," kills himself, because he's "far too damaged, but [Veronica's] not beyond repair.", implying that he knows how messed up he is and that no one but maybe Veronica will ever truly understand him.
- Obsession Song: J.D. has three: "Our Love is God," "Meant to be Yours," and "I Am Damaged." All centering around Veronica.
- Oh, Crap!: When Martha admits she thinks Ram and Kurt were murdered, and suspects J.D, Veronica panicks for a short moment, since outing J.D. as the murderer would reveal her involvement as well. Doesn't help that Heather Chandler's ghost is their to pour salt in the wound.Martha: I want to look in J.D.'s locker.
Heather C: I bet there's all kinds of interesting things in that locker! Maybe some "Ich Lüge" bullets?
Veronica: Oh, crap.
- Only Sane Man: Weirdly, J.D., of all people, gets a song of being this; specifically, "Dead Girl Walking," where he's decently confused as to what's going on, and stops making out with Veronica briefly to ask how she found his address. (Veronica's drunk as hell at the time.)
- Veronica, throughout most of the show. She disapproves of and can't understand the clique-based morality and the everpresent hierarchy going on at Westerburg, is horrifed by J.D.'s murders and how apathetic the adults seem to be towards them and the suffering of their children in general and even confesses to having helped kill Chandler, Kurt and Ram after seeing Macnamara get attacked by Duke after "Lifeboat" because she just can't take the pretentiousness of everyone around her anymore.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: The ghosts of Heather Chandler, Kurt, and Ram appear multiple times throughout the show, though it's unclear if they're ghosts or simply the manifestation of Veronica's guilt. (In "Yo Girl," they warn her that J.D. is coming, so they could be real ghosts, but that could also be Veronica's gut telling her. Or it could just be a narrative device.)
- Painful Rhyme: Invoked. "My problems were myriad—" "I was having my period." (An intentional example, Veronica's awkward laughter and J.D.'s "uhhhh" expression afterwards make this one in-universe.)
- Parents as People: Surprisingly, despite coming off as borderline-abusive beforehand, during "My Dead Gay Son", both Kurt and Ram's fathers admit they really did love their sons, regardless of their sexualities.
- Parental Love Song: "Dead Gay Son", albeit very loosely. Kurt and Ram's fathers declare the title at their sons' funerals. It would be a heartwarming moment, if the whole thing about Kurt and Ram being gay lovers, who would rather die together than live without each other, wasn't a complete lie. It adds a rather bittersweet note to the whole thing, especially since the fathers admit to being gay themselves and having an affair in the song, much like the think their sons had.
- Pet the Dog: Ram allows Martha to stay at his houseparty, even when he has no reason not to kick her out. And it's unlikely he knew about the prank the Heathers were planning since he had no idea Martha was even going to show up. Also, instead of mocking her, he tries to give her some advice, even if he is a bit rude about it.
- The Pollyanna: Martha is incredibly optimistic, despite the bullying she faces. Unfortunately, it doesn't last...
- Pragmatic Adaptation:
- In the original film, the scene that leads up to "Fight For Me" has J.D. actually pull a gun on some bullies and fire blanks at them. Nowadays, it would be very hard to write a sympathetic, stable Veronica who was still attracted to him after pulling that, so here it gets toned down to a simple fistfight in self-defense.
- In the movie, the double-date with Kurt and Ram ends with a strongly implied Black Comedy Rape of Heather McNamara. The stage version ("Blue"/"You're Welcome") usually just has the two jocks too drunk or distracted by singing to be any serious threat, and features no such implication.
- The high school and West End productions replace "Blue" with the much darker "You're Welcome", but in treating attempted rape with due seriousness, it's still arguably a more sensitive take than the original film's "comedic" molestation of McNamara.
- Precision F-Strike: Veronica delivers one after J.D. kills Kurt and Ram.
- Prison Rape: Ram and Kurt's ghosts are excited about the idea of Veronica getting sent to "Lady Prison."
- Properly Paranoid: When J.D. begins circulating his "petition," Veronica urges Heather Duke to just throw it away, saying she's sure J.D.'s up to no good, even if she doesn't know what. She's right, of course. The so-called petition was just a way to get everyone in the school to sign something - specifically, a suicide note, allowing J.D. to plant a bomb and make it look like a mass suicide.
- "Psycho" Strings: Present in the background of a lot of J.D.'s songs and dialogue.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Heather McNamara only does what the other Heathers tell her to do. She's much nicer when she's not around them. It's implied the only reason she participates in their bullying is because she's afraid she might be bullied herself if she left the group. Her fears are unfortunately well-founded. However, Veronica gives her someone to bond to when Heather Duke turns on Heather McNamara when the former strikes back for all the abuse about bulimia that the latter and Heather Chandler piled on her, knowing the dead Heather Chandler can't save the latter now.
- Questionable Consent: When JD and Veronica first sleep together, on both ends. On Veronicas side, shes very drunk (implicitly the first time shes had alcohol before) whilst JD is sober. On JDs side, Veronica is very demanding when she propositions him, and he can be heard saying wait, wait, at some point and is ignored. Neither of them seem troubled by this the morning after, though.
- Race Lift: Heather Duke in the original Off-Broadway is played by Alice Lee, an Asian actress and in the closing Off-Broadway and Hudson Theatre is played by Kristolyn Lloyd, a black actress. The London production has T'shan Williams, another black actress, playing Duke.
- Rapid-Fire "But!": From "Meant to Be Yours":J.D.: You chucked me out like I was trashFor that you should be deadBut, but, but—Then it hit me like a flash:What if high school went away instead?
- Reckless Gun Usage: J.D. carrying a loaded gun around (and at one point accidentally having it pointed at Veronica) is part of the reason Veronica breaks up with him.
- Redemption Rejection: J.D. does this during the reprise of "Dead Girl Walking."
- Remonstrating with a Gun: After J.D shoots a TV in frustration after a particularly nasty fight with his father, Veronica tells him she wants to break up with him, which leads to J.D yelling, "BUT I LOVE YOU!" ...while pointing a gun at her. Veronica immediately lampshades the situation.
- Resignations Not Accepted: When Veronica tries to leave the Heathers after seeing how cruel they are, Heather Chandler promises to ruin her social life.
- Running Gag: Heather Chandler harshly telling Heather Duke to "Shut up, Heather!", to which Heather Duke responds with a small "Sorry, Heather."
- Sanity Slippage: J.D., obviously, but also Veronica. At least if you think the ghosts are just inside her head.
- Sanity Slippage Song:
- "Meant to Be Yours" for J.D. It starts out with him telling Veronica how mad he was about her breaking up with him, then to how he was thinking about killing her, then to him realizing that highschool is the problem and that blowing it up would make them the perfect couple again. During the whole song he flip-flops between pure, unbridled rage and disconnected, romantic whimsy and it really says something that the latter is a lot more disturbing than the former.
- "Yo Girl" for Veronica, though it's sung by the ghosts of Heather Chandler, Kurt, and Ram rather than Veronica herself. All three of them mock her for her role in Martha's suicide attempt, sarcastically complimenting her on how she's now "truly a Heather" with how ruthless she's become. It culminates in all three of them gleefully telling Veronica that J.D. is climbing into her room, which Veronica tries to prevent, only to realize he's already inside.
- See You in Hell: One of Veronica's many Badass Boasts in "Dead Girl Walking (Reprise)" has her declare that she's done being afraid of J.D, and that he'll be standing "cheek to cheek in hell" with her.
- Serial Killer: J.D., who is responsible for three deaths and more or less strong-armed Veronica into forging each victim's suicide note to cover it up. He redeems himself by the end by sacrificing himself to save Veronics from his own bomb.
- Shout-Out: The play makes a lot more references to things than the movie did, which really borrowed on the 7-11.
- In the opening number "Beautiful", Veronica and Martha reference Jiffy Pop and The Princess Bride, respectively. Veronica also compares Westerberg to "the Thunderdome".
- During "Big Fun", Veronica says she feels like Bono at Live Aid.
- In "Blue", there's a reference to being rescued like Princess Leia.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Veronica after "Big Fun" when the Heathers attempt to humiliate Martha with the Razorback pig mascot.
- Veronica: You want it? (throws the piñata in the lake) Swim for it!
- Signature Laugh: Barrett Wilbert Weed as Veronica Sawyer has one that is both adorable and hilarious.J.D.: ...My problems were myriad—
Veronica: I was having my period. [Beat] (laughs at her own unintentional rhyme for about 30 seconds) *looks at Heather's dead body* OH MY GOD.''
- Single-Target Sexuality: J.D. only has eyes for Veronica, and a lot of his comments imply he's never been in love before her.
- Sex for Solace: After embarrassing herself at a party by throwing up on Heather Chandler, a possibly still-drunk Veronica sneaks her way to JD's bedroom and asks him to "make this whole town disappear". He does.
- Slut-Shaming: Veronica has a nightmare about being branded a slut for sleeping with J.D. It comes true when the whole school mocks her when Kurt and Ram spread rumors that she had a three-way with them. Crosses with Freudian Excuse and Nice Job Fixing It, Villain! as it gives J.D. the perfect excuse to kill them: they'd just defamed his girlfriend in a heinous, vulgar way, so in his mind, they, not he, are the villains. It didn't help the two of them also beat J.D. up as well.
- Spiritual Antithesis: Serves as one towards its own source material. While both are Black Comedies focused around analyzing teenage angst during high school and taking a look at what creates school shooters, the film is more focused on being a cynical deconstruction of classic teen comedies from the 1980s and is more overt with its dark humor. Meanwhile, the musical is (comparatively) more nuanced in how it examines what exactly drives someone into becoming a spree killer and also emphasizes the importance of human empathy & keeping to one's idealism in a hellish world. It's also likely not a coincidence that both the film and musical are on the exact opposite respect sides of the Nature vs. Nurture argument.
- Spoiled Brat: Heather Chandler, who likes spending her dad's credit card, has three TVs (which would be very uncommon in 1989), the hottest clothes and generally treats everyone around her like her own personal playthings. Just watch the scene where she's needlessly rude to Veronica's parents.
- The Starscream: Heather Duke, after Heather Chandler's death, takes the latter's scrunchie and becomes the new Alpha Bitch at school.
- Stepford Smiler: Heather McNamara describes being this in "Lifeboat", where all her fears about possibly losing her popularity are laid bare.
- Stepford Snarker: J.D. comes off as a clever, wry, sarcastic outsider. And he genuinely is. But once you scratch the surface, you'll see that deep down, he's not a happy person by any stretch. And also, completely nuts.
- Sympathy for the Devil: "Prom or Hell?" leads to Veronica sadly lamenting about her slain classmates.
- Veronica: They were just seventeen,
they still had room to grow,
they could have turned out right,
but now we'll never know...
- Take That!: "Me Inside of Me" has one:Heather Chandler: "Jesus, you're making me sound like Air Supply."
- Taking You with Me: Veronica is completely willing to die if it's going to prevent all of the students of Westerberg from being blown to smithereens by J.D., but she's taking him down along with her.Veronica: And there's your final bell!
It's one last dance and then farewell!
Cheek to cheek in hell with a dead girl walking!
- Teens Are Monsters: Especially J.D., Kurt, Ram, and the Heathers (though Heather McNamara turns out to not be so bad). Actually, everyone except Martha gets at least one moment of this, though none of them seem to be truly awful people at heart. (In "Prom or Hell?", Veronica even laments that while Kurt and Ram may be horrible now, they could've grown out of it, but since J.D. killed them, we'll never know. The two even have a few lyrics in "Beautiful" implying that they're just as lost and confused as everyone else.)
- Tempting Fate: After downing a Slurpee, Veronica claims she doesn't feel anything. The brain freeze immediately hits.
- Their First Time: During "Dead Girl Walking", Veronica loses her virginity to J.D.
- Those Two Guys: Kurt and Ram are never seen apart, though Ram does get a tiny bit more focus because of Martha's childhood crush on him.
- Throw the Book at Them: The scene where J.D. fires blanks at Kurt and Ram is replaced in the musical by him whacking them over the head with a large book.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Veronica due to the influence of Heather Chandler and J.D. It's most noticeable when she tells Martha that Ram's love letter was a prank. Martha had wanted to break into J.D.'s locker for proof he'd murdered Ram and Kurt, though, and Veronica saying that was to keep Martha from getting close to finding out Veronica also had a hand in their deaths—AND to keep J.D. from murdering Martha next. She undergoes a Jerkass Realization after Martha's suicide attempt and spends the ending trying to make things right.Heather Chandler, Kurt, and Ram: Now you're truly a Heather / Smell how gangsta you are.
- At the start, Heather Duke isn't worse than McNamara and is a bit of a Woobie because of Chandler's abuse. After Chandler dies, she takes over and treats McNamara just like how Chandler treated her though McNamara joined on the bulimia taunting due to Chandler's influence since the dead Chandler can't protect McNamara now. She becomes worse than Chandler after she spreads rumors about Veronica having a threesome with Kurt and Ram and mocks McNamara and Martha for trying to commit suicide.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Heather McNamara after the events of "Lifeboat" and "Shine A Life (Reprise)", choosing to align herself with Veronica and making a sincere but clumsy effort to be nicer about the unpopular kids.
- Toxic Friend Influence:
- Heather Chandler to Heather McNamara in bullying Heather Duke over her bulimia. Once she knows Heather McNamara doesn't have Chandler to back her, Heather Duke strikes back. However, Veronica saves McNamara from herself, and bonds with the near-suicidal girl.
- J.D. and Veronica to each other. She got him going with "Dead Girl Walking" when she bemoans the Heathers will ruin her, then that starts J.D.'s murder spree. It's only when he was ready to let Heather McNamara die as well that Veronica's had enough.
- Trademark Favourite Food:
- J.D sings a whole song about how much he loves Slushees.
- Heather Chandler likes Corn Nuts so much they end up being her Famous Last Words.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: Nearly every song in the show features this trope - it's easier to name the songs that don't (such as "Lifeboat" and "Seventeen").
- True Companions: Veronica, Martha, and Heather McNamara are implied to be this in the final moments, holding hands and smiling. Heather Duke may or may not be joining them.
- Uncommon Time: Don't get us started. Notably: Veronica's parts of "Beautiful," the dissonant ending sections of "Our Love Is God," "Lifeboat," and "Meant To Be Yours".
- Unwitting Pawn: Veronica thought she accidentally killed Heather Chandler, and she's used to lure Ram and Kurt for payback. Neither time did she think J.D. would kill them.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid:
- Ram is a Jerk Jock in the highest order nowadays, but Martha remembers when he was a sweet little boy who didn't care about how she looked. She seems to believe that boy is still in there somewhere, and Veronica notes that he and Kurt might have been able to grow out of their horrible behavior if they'd lived longer.
- Similarly, Heather Duke used to be close friends with Martha, but is now an utter jerkass who doesn't even have the redeeming quality of caring about her friends.
- It's implied that J.D. was a much happier, much more well-adjusted guy when his mom was alive.
- Vigilante Man: J.D. views himself as one, claiming he's "making the world a decent place for people who are decent." The audience (and eventually, Veronica) realizes he's just hopelessly deluded.
- Villain Love Song: Most of J.D.'s songs in the musical, and they grow progressively creepier and more unbalanced as the show goes on. "Dead Girl Walking" is a fun Intercourse with You song he shares with Veronica, "Our Love is God" starts out seeming like a normal love song, and even sort of sweet, before it takes a turn for the dark and scary, and "Meant to Be Yours" is terrifying, even as J.D. professes his love to Veronica.
- Villain Protagonist: Veronica is the main focus, but it's just as much J.D.'s story as it is hers.
- Villain Recruitment Song:
- "Candy Store", where the Heathers are trying to get Veronica to join in their cruel joke.
- "Our Love is God" and "Meant to be Yours" both involve J.D. convincing Veronica to kill her classmates.
- Villain Respect: Heather Chandler is legitimately impressed when Martha correctly deduces that Ram and Kurt were murdered and J.D was involved. The only thing she doesn't factor in is that Veronica was also involved, but that might be because Martha would never suspect her best friend of murder.
- Villainous Friendship: Kurt and Ram, unlike the Heathers, are genuinely friends. They often tag-team bully the other students.
- We Have Reserves: Chillingly implied when J.D refuses to go with his dad on a demolition job, who tells J.D, "Lots of pretty ladies out there. I can always make me another son."
- We Used to Be Friends: Ram and Heather Duke used to be friends with Martha back in Kindergarten, something both of them go out of their way to deny now that they're popular and Martha is at the bottom of the social pecking order.
- Weight Woe: Martha Dunnstock is very chubby, to the point that it earned her the pretty cruel nickname "Dumptruck".
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: J.D. just wants to make the world a decent place for people who are decent. Specifically, by murdering everyone that doesn't meet his standard of decency. Yeah.
- Wham Shot: Heather Chandler's death just before "The Me Inside of Me" kicks off. That's what changes the play's central theme from "overcoming peer pressure and being yourself" to "murder".
- Wild Teen Party: Ram's party, played up through the lyrics of "Big Fun". Veronica gets drunk, lots of the extras are making out, and the Heathers try to embarrass Martha. Veronica even throws up on Heather Chandler's shoes.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The musical really enhances this quality for J.D. It's hard not to shed a little tear for him in "I Am Damaged."
- A World Half Full: J.D.'s not entirely wrong when he says that the world is full of awful, selfish people who don't care about others. But Veronica's not entirely wrong when she says things can get better. J.D. finally comes around to this point just before he dies, and sacrifices himself so Veronica can live to make it happen.
- Yandere: J.D. to Veronica. They actually managed to ramp it up from the movie. Check out these lyrics from the song "Meant to Be Yours".You chucked me out like I was trash,
for that you should be dead.
But, but, but!
Then it hit me like a flash;
What if high school went away instead?
Those assholes are the key,
they're keeping you away from me.
They made you blind,
messed up your mind,
but I can set you free!
- You Are Not Alone:
- "If nobody loves me now/Someday somebody will..."
- Surprisingly, a lot of J.D. and Veronica's relationship runs on this, too.Veronica: Are you okay?
J.D.: I was alone.
I was a frozen lake,
but then you melted me awake;
See, now I'm crying too.
You're not alone.
Veronica: You're not alone...
J.D.: And when the morning comes,
Veronica: When the morning comes...
J.D.: We'll burn away that tear,
and raise our city here...