Follow TV Tropes

Following

YMMV / Heathers

Go To

    open/close all folders 

    The Movie 
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Was Veronica manipulated into killing Heather Chandler and Kurt Kelly, or did she know exactly what she was doing? When she takes the cup of poison to Heather, she feels for the mug while kissing J.D. The poison mug has a lid, while the safe one does not. The film clearly shows Veronica's hand on the lid, indicating that she knew exactly which cup it was. Likewise, when she lures Kurt and Ram to the woods, J.D. shoots Ram with what J.D. has told her are tranquilizers, but are in fact real bullets. Veronica misses Kurt, who runs off, J.D. giving chase. While they are running, Veronica examines Ram's corpse, and it is clear that she knows it is really a corpse. Then when J.D. chases Kurt back, she shoots him. So, was Veronica manipulated into killing Heather and Kurt, or did she know exactly what she was doing? J.D. even argues that Veronica knew exactly what she doing but acted horrified because she couldn't face that that was exactly what she wanted.
    • Arguably, she crossed the Moral Event Horizon as soon as she shot Kurt, so he would never be able to tell what really happened in the woods.
    • Did J.D. bounce around from school to school only because his father needed to do demolition jobs in different cities? Or did his father have a keen nose for when his son started trying to get his own back at the cliques in his schools? J.D. seemed awfully ready to scare the pants off the football jocks, being armed with a gun that shot blanks after a Pre Ass Kicking One Liner.
      • See: JD's awkward silence when Veronica jokingly asks if he's "done this before" when he's saying what to write in Heather's fake suicide note
    • Is Heather Chandler really as bad as Veronica thinks she is, or did she have some skeletons in her closet not unlike what Veronica implied? While the note was obviously faked, one scene in particular implied that she may have probably become a Heather by pressure. Said scene involved her, with some hesitation, get coaxed into performing fellatio with an older University student. Then later she is seen in the bathroom, with a traumatized look on her face when she goes to wash her mouth out.
      • Was Heather Chandler's cruelty towards Heather Duke just because she could, or did the former realize how power hungry the latter was and doing her best to reign her in?
    • Speaking of Heather Duke, was she deep down always as malicious as she acts after Chandler's death and simply lacked the power to unleash it? Did the jealousy and bullying with Heather Chandler- and lack of intervention from MacNamara or Veronica- cause Duke to resent the clique? Or did she simply let the power corrupt her?
  • Awesome Music: The song on the soundtrack that plays when J.D. gets blown sky-high.
  • Critical Research Failure: J.D. gets off for firing a gun at the two bullies because he only fired blanks. This is extremely improbable even in the 1980s. The truth is, nothing that comes out of a gun is guaranteed to be non-fatal, especially if fired at point blank range like J.D. did. Kurt and Ram were extremely lucky not to have been hurt, and Heather C's statement that J.D. should have been arrested, presented as a strawman in the film, is completely accurate.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The entire movie was intended as this, but has become harsher to watch over the years. But the conversation about how to kill Heather Duke definitely goes there. J.D. and Veronica argue over using a kitchen knife, which Veronica doesn't want to use because it's dirty.
    "Trust me; if Heather were going to cut her wrists, the knife would be spotless."
  • Cult Classic: The movie didn't make very much money and has difficulty finding a fanbase since the story is so morbid and cynical, but the fandom is very devoted.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The two protagonists embark on a spree of murdering the classmates they don't like - who are equally rotten - and passing them off as suicides. This is Played for Laughs, with the effect that the Crosses the Line Twice humour has now become uncomfortable due to Society Marches On.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: J.D, which is inevitable when he's played by Christian Slater in a trenchcoat, especially given his victims are ginormous assholes (at least initially).
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • For being the ringleader of the title characters, Heather Chandler is actually in the film surprisingly little, lasting less than a third of the run time before she is poisoned by J.D. Among fans she's perhaps the most unanimously beloved character (her only competition being Heather M.), with many feeling she makes the idea of being a high school queen bee seem utterly badass, stylish, and hot, plus the very strong insinuations that she's secretly hurting deep down giving her endearing qualities as well. The vast majority of fan works find some way to either avert her ignominious end entirely or otherwise keep her around longer - extending to the musical, where she becomes a Deadpan Snarker ghost who offers commentary on the events her death set into motion.
    • An example that's legitimately a minor character is Betty Finn, Veronica's ex-friend who serves mainly to demonstrate the crowd she ran with before the Heathers scooped her up, and is otherwise so inconsequential that the musical dropped her completely and gave her more plot-relevant traits to Martha. Fans absolutely love the adorkable sweetheart, and many fanworks include her and Martha side by side, giving Betty a playful trickster personality and a large role in getting Veronica and her love interest together.
  • Evil Is Sexy: J.D. is played by the stunning Christian Slater. This obviously led to Draco in Leather Pants treatment.
  • Evil Is Cool: J.D. may be a sociopathic Stalker with a Crush and a murderer, but he's sold very well and it's satisfying on a dark level to watch him kill the Jerkass teens.
  • Fair for Its Day: Framing the football players as gay and their funeral actually being played relatively straight with their parents apologizing and professing how much they loved them and missed them was, for 1988, a fairly positive portrayal of gay people (even if the football players weren't actually gay). Suffice it to say that in the decades since, this particular scene has not aged well.
  • Fanon:
    • It's generally agreed that Veronica and J.D. had sex in the car after killing Kurt and Ram.
    • A hamster cage (with a hamster still inside) can be seen in J.D.'s room when J.D. is building the bomb. Fans have embraced this, naming it "Slushie" and making it J.D.'s literal Morality Pet in fanfiction.
    • Another briefly glimpsed character is "Country Club Courtney," apparently another Rich Bitch at Westerberg whom the Heathers dislike. Fan works giving more sympathetic takes on the trio will thus often promote Courtney to the Hate Sink role, portraying her as much, much worse than them.
    • The Heathers' parents are never seen, but are generally agreed to be neglectful if not outright abusive, which is both in keeping with most of the other adults in the story and an easy explanation for their daughters' misbehavior. They too often get the Hate Sink role in pro-Heathers fics.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Veronica/Heather McNamara for those who want fluffy Les Yay, and Veronica/Heather Chandler for those who like the Foe Yay dynamic.
    • Veronica/Heather Duke is also very popular, in a similar Foe Yay Shipping way.
  • Foe Yay:
    • Veronica and Heather Duke. Their last scene together even has Veronica addressing her as "Heather, my love" before she grabs her and forcibly gives her a "Take That!" Kiss. Though Heather Duke and Veronica are actually good friends in the movie, until Heather Chandler dies and Heather Duke becomes the second Alpha Bitch.
    • There's a lot of this between Heather Chandler and Veronica as well. Some fans also see Foe Yay between Heather Duke and Heather Chandler.
  • Genius Bonus: One of the earliest hints that Veronica's dream sequence is a dream is the reference to Eskimos in Antarctica, whereas they're actually found in the Arctic.
    • The word does appear in Moby-Dick, just not with that spelling. (excerpt) 
  • Harsher in Hindsight: And how. Let's just put it this way: this film has its own separate page for this trope.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Brad Pitt got rejected for the role of J.D. because producers thought he was "too nice". Then came Pitt's roles in Kalifornia, Fight Club, Snatch., and Inglourious Basterds. And he would get to play a J.D. in Thelma & Louise who, while not as nasty as the J.D. here, still robs a woman who also had the surname Sawyer, of her life savings from her bedside table.
    • Jennifer Rhodes plays Veronica's mother. She later plays Shannen Doherty's grandmother in Charmed. Shannen's character in that was also a former Alpha Bitch.
    • If you watch this film back to back with The Legend of Billie Jean, it creates a bit of hilarity. Christian Slater fires a gun with blanks in this, while in Billie Jean he gets accidentally shot by a trigger happy policeman.
    • This wouldn't be the last time Patrick Labyorteaux would play a Jerk Jock.
    • When Veronica breaks up with J.D., he sneers "You'll be back". Roughly thirty years later, Hamilton would do a song centering around George III's thoughts on the colonies' revolution, convinced that they would be back as well.
    • As of 2018, all of Shannen Doherty's best known roles have been rebooted for television. First was the 90210 revival in the 2000s, then Charmed and Heathers getting theirs in 2018.
    • Shannen Doherty also refused to go blonde for the role of Heather Duke. In an episode of Charmed, involving a Bad Future - where Prue has become a Corrupt Corporate Executive in what's implied to be a Tyrant Takes the Helm situation (not unlike Heather Duke's rise) she has blonde hair (although it is clearly a wig in Shannen's case).
    • In the 2000s, Daniel Waters's brother Mark ended up directing Mean Girls - which has been noted to have a lot of similarities. Michael Lehmann said he may have been offered Mean Girls or considered to direct, but he said the films were different entities.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Betty, who's a slim, pretty girl with great skin. She wears glasses and unfashionable clothes.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: Present in the casting sessions, if not the film itself. When casting Martha Dumptruck, Michael Lehmann recalls casting directors constantly bringing in actresses who were only slightly chubby. He insisted on someone who was actually overweight, and found Carrie Lynn performing stand-up in a bar.
  • Ho Yay: Ram and Kurt, to the point that they start a rumor about having a three-way with Veronica. One where their swordplay is front-and-center.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • While much more villainous here than in the musical, J.D. is still a Tragic Villain once you get down to it. He not only had a shit childhood (his mother died by walking into a building set to demolish in a few minutes while in front of his eyes, his father wasn't exactly a stand up guy either especially since J.D. most likely got his idea that the only way to beat the high school social system was to kill the popular kids from his behavior in some way), he was implied to be treated as an outcast by all of the schools he went to, he never had a true friend until Veronica met him. In the end, it's no wonder he ended up as a psychotic monster.
    • Heather Duke was bullied by Heather Chandler and suffered from an eating disorder that was worsened by the way Heather Chandler had treated her. And then Heather Chandler died, and she became equally malicious.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Jason "JD" Dean is a rebellious teenager who swoons the heroine Veronica with his bad boy image by scaring Ram and Kurt by firing blanks at them in the high school cafeteria. JD convinces Veronica to jointly prank Heather Chandler with a mystery drink, not informing Veronica that she had grabbed the drain cleaner after he noticed. When Heather dies, they cover it up by forging a suicide note. JD follows this up by having Veronica lure Kurt and Ram into the woods with the offer of a threeway, then fatally shooting them both and make it appear as a Suicide Pact between two secret homosexual lovers, tricking Veronica by telling her that he's using special "Ich Lüge" bullets. JD also facilitates Heather Duke's rise to prominence in order to have every student in the school sign a petition for a mass gathering. JD intends to blow up the whole school with a bomb stolen from his father's demolition company and frame the entire thing as a mass suicide, believing he's doing them all a favor by sending them to heaven with no social differences to fight over. After Veronica dismantles his bomb, JD follows her outside to compliment her spirit and blow himself up in front of her.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "I love my dead gay X!"
    • "Oh, fuck me gently with a chainsaw."
    • "What's your damage, Heather?"
    • "How very."
    • Photoshopping JD into other movies and having him play a sort of Bad Angel role to those films' characters, advising them to solve their problems with casual murder.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • As mentioned in the Draco entry, J.D. He's a sociopath who wants to murder his classmates.
    • On a similar note, modern fans tend to paint the four main girls in a rosy light, despite the fact that they're also morally grey like J.D. (with the exception being McNamara; she was a bully too, but easily has the most sympathetic depiction of them). It's more difficult to find modern fans talking about the actual themes in the movie than them fangirling/fanboying about how lovable the characters are or Shipping them.
    • Related to the lack of discussion on the film's actual message: the musical. It's a cult hit, but many feel like it fails to grasp what the original was actually trying to say.
    Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the Broadway version really gets the genius bleakness of the original. An early preview of the musical Heathers reveals that Veronica’s monologues are now big numbers about how high-school can be suffocating. None of the songs have the film’s creative profanity, or even a tinge of satire. It’s a sad thought, Heathers turned into a mere Glee episode about suicide. (The Atlantic)
  • Not So Crazy Anymore: The film got made in the first place only because the idea of outcast high schoolers killing each other was considered patently absurd. Post-Columbine, the movie can feel uncomfortable.
  • O.C. Stand-in: As mentioned under Fanon, very minor character Courtney is a popular villain in stories giving more sympathetic looks at the film's antagonists, typically given the role of an even-more-detestable would-be usurper to the titular trio.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Mr. Moseby is in this movie. Yes, really. (He's the editor of the yearbook Veronica talks to about the "Heather Chandler memorial spread.")
  • Signature Line: "My teen angst bullshit has a body count," "Chaos is what killed the dinosaurs, darling," "Our love is God," and "You look like hell." "I just got back." all qualify.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: High school can be an awful place. Your peers will ostracize and torment you and nobody else seems to understand. But killing bullies isn't going to solve anything, and neither will killing yourself.
  • Special Effect Failure: When Heather Chandler dies and falls onto glass- it shatters in a very unconvincing way.
  • Too Cool to Live: Heather Chandler, being a constant source of delightfully nasty and witty bitchiness, gets killed off not too far into the movie. The musical seemed to have realized this, as she has a bigger role in the beginning of the story and makes several appearances as a ghost to antagonize Veronica.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: The nerd Kurt and Ram put in a headlock outside of Heather Chandler's funeral. We're clearly supposed to feel sorry for him, but what did he really think was going to happen when he told the school's resident Jerk Jocks to 'sit and spin' while flipping them off?
  • Values Dissonance:
    • It's hard to imagine a film about teens actually murdering each other and planning to murder an entire school getting greenlit as a comedy these days. See the Harsher in Hindsight entry above. Although Word of God has responded to the claims that it "couldn't be made today" with...
    "People come to me a lot and say, ‘The movie couldn’t be made today,’ but my point is that it couldn’t be made then either!"
    • It wouldn't be made today simply for practical reasons, a lot of what happened in the movie is only possible because of hands off parenting and free range raising, which forced kids to "grow up", that felt out of favor in the 2010s decade, specifically because of the increase of real life school shootings and teenage suicides, even if we're talking about late teenagers who are borderline adults a lot of parents still keep constant track of their kids thanks to new technologies, while not impossible it's much more unbelievable, at least in the way the movie portrays.
    • One scene showed that them placing bottled mineral water in the jocks' bags as evidence that they were gay. These days, drinking mineral water isn't considered sissy or snobby; at worst one might be thought of as slightly over-health-concerned. This is discussed in the movie, where it's pointed out that even back then, drinking bottled water was being seen as acceptable, but J.D. points out they're all the way out in the sticks where it still hasn't caught on.
    • And in the wake of the aforementioned school shootings, there's no way a teen these days would get off so lightly for even bringing a gun to school - let alone firing it in the cafeteria. J.D. gets off because they were blanks. Kids have been expelled from school for drawing pictures of water pistols, or accidentally bringing a butter knife to school for lunch. There's no way he could get off without jail time.
    • The implied Black Comedy Rape of Heather McNamara
    Lisanne Falk: I thought we were doing this funny scene in the background. I'm not going to call myself stupid but I want to say 'naive.' I didn't over-think it, but I look at it now and think: 'I guess that was pretty horrible.'
  • Values Resonance:
    • There's a lot of Black Comedy and murder played for laughs, but characters that willingly want to kill themselves are treated far more seriously. What's more, it was one of the few movies at the time that didn't glorify the high school experience as nostalgic and showed the students to be largely miserable people. With the rise in awareness of teen suicide, society has become much more sympathetic to high school abuse, something Veronica would definitely approve of.
    • As discussed here, JD's Freudian Excuse is not used to justify or explain his actions - the movie also frames him as a Hypocrite for exploiting the same homophobic stereotypes that Kurt and Ram mocked him with, and turning a blind eye to Heather McNamara getting sexually assaulted in front of him - averts the 'school shooters are just misunderstood bully victims' fallacy that would later enter the lexicon.
  • Vindicated by Cable: The film, while not a box office success, found a lot of its fandom with repeated airings on WGN and TBS.

    The Musical 
  • Actor Shipping: Barret Wilbert Weed and Ryan McCartan, the original Veronica and J.D., get this a lot. Weirdly, Ryan's successor, Dave Thomas Brown, seems to get left out of it, even though Ryan was dating Dove Cameron at the time.
  • Adaptation Displacement: Most fanworks are based on the musical, though most musical fans have seen, or at least know the Broad Strokes of the film. Some works split the difference and adopt characterization from the film and apply it to the musical cast - for instance, most stories feature both Martha and Betty whether film- or musical-based, despite the show compositing the two.
  • Adorkable:
    • Veronica starts the play as an awkward outcast, and hasn't been friends with the Heathers for very long. A lot of her attempts to be cool come off as awkward, yet adorable.
    • Martha has all the traditional nerdy traits, but is such a sweet soul that makes you wonder why everyone is so mean to her.
    • Heather McNamara comes off as a bit of a Cloud Cuckoolander, but her sweet side endears audiences to her.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • How much is J.D. in control of his own actions? His implied history with mental illness and self-harm, not to mention his abusive upbringing and his snapping back to sanity eventually, could provide evidence that he's genuinely unstable and struggling to keep his own actions in check, not to mention his clear delusions about reality. However, J.D. has some serious manipulative skill and is capable of keeping a cool head and making elaborate plans, which could lend credence to the idea that he's in control of his actions, but is simply prone to breakdowns. His final sacrifice is also viewed in different lights, depending upon this; people who lean toward him being out of control often see it as Redemption Equals Death, whereas people who see him as being in control often see it as a manipulative final act to force Veronica to love him despite all he's done.
    • While there's nothing in the text that explicitly points to it, aside from their status as a duo and some dialogue that could be taken as Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?, it's not unheard of for both the fandom and productions of the musical to play Kurt and Ram as actually being gay. Though the jury is out on whether that makes their behavior and ultimate demise better or worse.
  • Awesome Music: Now in its full official soundtrack glory on YouTube. Have fun.
  • Author's Saving Throw: The West End production went for a couple.
    • Kurt and Ram's Villain Song was changed from the comedic "Blue" to the sinister "You're Welcome" to address criticisms of playing implied rapists for laughs.
    • The final scene adds an explicit Heel–Face Turn for Heather D, mitigating complaints about her Adaptational Villainy. Many local productions also choose to do this.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Veronica Sawyer is a minor example. Fans of the movie prefer her more reserved and sarcastic portrayal while viewing the musical version as being too emotional and awkward, while fans of the musical prefer her awkwardness as being more genuine and adorkable. That being said, both groups get along pretty well and there is some overlap between them.
    • Heather Chandler and Heather Duke's portrayal. While they were an Alpha Bitch and Beta Bitch in the movie, they also had Hidden Depths, with the former suffering peer pressure into giving a college boy a blowjob and the latter starting off as a sympathetic Shrinking Violet suffering from an eating disorder. In the musical, Chandler is a straight up Alpha Bitch with no Hidden Depths, with Duke just as mean and her eating disorder played as a joke at her expense.
    • Is J.D. a Tragic Villain or just evil? Points said in defense of him range from the fact that J.D. is legitimately mentally ill, has a number of tragic and interesting traits, such as his abusive upbringing and genuine, if twisted, love for Veronica. Points against him are the fact he consistently manipulates and abuses Veronica, the fact that despite his mental illness, he's clearly in control of his actions at least initially, and the fact he's a murderer who intends to massacre a school full of people, refusing to accept responsibility for his own actions. These factors generally play into how people view J.D.'s fate.
  • Broken Base:
    • Replacing "Blue" with "You're Welcome" has become this among the fandom, with some hating it and finding it a poor replacement and think that the semi-rapping parts don't fit the tone of the show, while others think "You're Welcome" is even better than "Blue" as it plays Kurt and Ram's actions less for laughs and the lyrics are more overtly sexual harassment-ish. And a third camp who like both songs.
    • Also is "Never Shut Up Again" a good song or not? Some are happy that Heather Duke finally gets her own song, but others find it underwhelming, not as clever or catchy as the other songs and ruins the theme of Heather Duke only singing reprises (to "Candy Store", "Blue" and "Shine A Light") to match having "no discernible personality".
    • Movie and musical fans have it out on occasion, typically over whether the musical's lighter and more empathetic approach to the story and characters is a necessary and welcome patch on some pretty flagrant Values Dissonance and Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy (see those entries under the film's folder above), or an irritating change that undermines the original's message. It's comparatively tame compared to many original vs. adaptation debates, perhaps because most fans have seen both and more obvious targets for their ire, namely Riverdale and the TV series, exist.
  • Creepy Awesome: J.D. qualifies for this, with his good qualities further in the forefront and the sheer Nightmare Fuel of his songs both being horrifying and oddly charismatic.
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
    • "Blue", and its reprise.
    • Veronica making an Innocently Insensitive joke about J.D.'s mother knowing what he's up to and J.D. promptly explaining that his mother is, in fact, dead? Not funny. Veronica's Oh, Crap! face when J.D. explains this? Hilarious.
    • J.D pointing a gun at Veronica as he yells, "BUT I LOVE YOU!"? Scary. Veronica yelling, Dude!!" in disbelief and it becomes funny again.
  • Cult Classic: Fitting, considering the original movie is one, too. The musical has yet to go to Broadway, isn't very highly budgeted, and has had very few well-known actors, even among theater fans. Fortunately, with the help of the internet, the show has a definite fanbase, and a very vocal one, at that — though it's still small enough that most of the fans are aware of each other, at least on Tumblr.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing:
    • "Candy Store" puts the Heathers on a pedestal with all their hedonistic excess and general bitchiness, and they look so cool it's hard to deny their appeal, Veronica certainly didn't.
    • "Dead Girl Walking" makes the idea of breaking into your crush's house and demand passionate, angry sex sound awesome.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • There are two types of J.D. fans: those who see him as the tragic, complex, and likable, but ultimately villainous, obsessive, and murderous character he is, and those who see him as a misunderstood Woobie whose behavior towards Veronica is romantic. The former tend to find the latter incredibly embarrassing. (Luckily, they're a Vocal Minority.)
    • Similarly, there are those who ship J.D. and Veronica, but realize and admit it's an unhealthy train wreck and would never want anyone to be in a relationship like that in real life (as one fan put it, "No one hates J.D./Veronica shippers more than we hate ourselves."), and those who think they're a perfect couple who are tragically beautiful together. Again, the former don't get along with the latter.
    • To a lesser extent- because she is not a murderer- Heather McNamara. A lot of fans (even some on this very trope page) paint her as an innocent, kind woobie and ignore the fact that she was a willing, active, and gleeful participant in the bullying that the Heathers commit. It also happens with the original film, but it's much more frequent and pronounced in the musical fandom. Some fans also insist that she only went on with the bullying out of fear of being bullied herself and/or because Chandler and Duke have bullied her, even though canonically, it's Veronica who is threatened with facing the same treatment if she doesn't join in on Heather bullying Martha, and it's Duke whom Chandler actively mistreats in the group, and receives no such audience sympathy.
    • There are a few people who prop up Heather Chandler as an attractive badass and even ship her with Veronica, despite Chandler only befriending her for her forgery skills, ditching her as soon as she objects to her bullying Martha, and threatening Veronica for puking on her. You also get people who think Duke started picking on McNamara because Chandler "isn't around to protect her anymore", even though there's no sign Chandler was protecting McNamara and in fact Duke and McNamara were the friendliest of the group to each other until Chandler died and Duke grabbed the Alpha Bitch role first.
    • You'll find no shortage of YouTube comments talking about how cute and funny Kurt and Ram are, despite them being sexist and homophobic morons who harass less popular students, spread rumors about Veronica, and attempt date rape on three different people.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: On a Meta level; when people talk about the "Illegal Heathers" production, most agree that Heather Chandler's actress is the only person in said production who seems to be trying whatsoever, or demonstrate any level of talent.
    • To a lesser extent, Ben aka "Flannel Guy", due to being a Large Ham extra. He's considered one of the show's highlights.
    • For not really being a part of the main cast, Ms. Fleming has a fanbase for averting Adults Are Useless, being one of the few characters to actually stand up against the Heathers and caring about the students enough to help them with their grief after the faked suicides. The "Illegal" version of her especially, given how she's one of the few decent performances in the show, alongside Heather Chandler and J.D..
  • Fandom Rivalry:
  • Fandom-Specific Plot:
    • This fandom is fond of "Groundhog Day" Loop fics, in which Veronica is forced to relive the events of the show over and over again until she can manage to save (depending on the story) either everyone that dies or just whoever her love interest happens to be.
    • Another common supernatural spin on the story is that the apparitions of JD's victims that appear to Veronica periodically are their actual ghosts rather than just hallucinations, sometimes but not always with romantic developments between Veronica and the shade of Heather C.
    • There are also numerous Lighter and Softer takes on the story, which while retaining significant conflict usually don't escalate to literal lives being at stake. Often one of the main plot threads is Veronica attempting to keep the peace between the Heathers and the un-popular kids due to being in the unenviable position of being friends with both.
  • Fanon:
    • J.D.'s mother's name tends to be either Sally or Megan in fanfic. Though what her maiden name was is still debated.
    • Despite the hamster not appearing in the stage musical, most fans of the show tend to agree that Slushie the hamster is still canon. (See the film section above.) Probably because it'd actually be more in character for Musical!J.D. to own one.
    • Veronica being bisexual, either casually or coming out after the events of the musical is very popular. This tends to be the end result of taking the Les Yay in both versions at face value and her kiss with Heather Duke in the movie. It also makes post-musical shipping easier among the surviving cast.
    • More often than not, Veronica's hallucinations tend to be written as actual ghosts in fanfic that only she can see.
    • Heather McNamara is often portrayed as being somewhere on the autism spectrum, or otherwise neurodivergent.
    • Either Duke or McNamara is portrayed as being overweight in fanart (Galactibun for Duke, MissyAsylum and Sangled for Mac). Though on the flipside it's also popular to portray Heather Duke being the skinniest of the Heathers, due to both her bulimic tendencies and her later meanness.
    • In fanart, Duke is the most common of the three Heathers to be portrayed as a Token Minority, probably due to her most well known portrayers being women of color, although there isn't a specific race that anyone can really agree on her being.
  • Fountain of Memes: Every other line that comes out of Heather Chandler's mouth or Veronica's diary is extremely quotable.
  • Friendly Fandoms: Heathers fans get along well with those of many other well-received musicals of the late '10s, including Hamilton, Be More Chill, and in particular Dear Evan Hansen.
  • Genre Blindness: Subverted. Kurt and Ram, being dumb jocks, fall for Veronica's offer for a three way in a secluded location at dawn without question, failing to realize that this is an obvious setup for the type of revenge prank you'd see in any other teen movie. Of course, it turns out Veronica herself is also unaware of what type of work she's in, since the true plan turns out to be much worse than a simple prank.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In the United States, the musical as of this edit has been strictly Off Broadway. The 2018 London version started as Off West End and became one of the most popular shows at its theater ever, before moving to a proper run on the West End. Rather impressive, given its Cult Classic status.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Heather Duke's jab at Veronica's weight in Beautiful becomes this when Carrie Hope Fletcher, Veronica's actress in the The West End production of Heathers, reveals that she was harassed online for being "fat". Fortunately, Carrie knows she's at a healthy body weight and she and her fans rightfully called out these trolls.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The "Better chug that Mountain Dew" line may bring to mind another teenage musical that shares a demographic (and much of its fanbase) with Heathers.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: Veronica is told to lose a few pounds by Heather Duke. None of her actresses are overweight and Carrie Hope Fletcher is the only one somewhat close to being chubby. Most likely intentional since Duke has an eating disorder.
  • Idiosyncratic Ship Naming:
  • Inferred Holocaust: This video showed the trauma Veronica would go through after the events of the movie.
  • Jerks Are Worse Than Villains:
    • Heather Duke, Kurt Kelly, and Ram Sweeney are all far more disliked than the actual villain, J.D. — who is an actual Serial Killer — mainly because they lack his charisma and tragic backstory. By contrast, Heather Duke is a Beta Bitch who taunts her friend's suicidal feelings, and Kurt and Ram are Jerk Jocks and attempted rapists...which explains why many fans aren't very sympathetic when J.D. targets them.
    • In contrast, the Alpha Bitch Heather Chandler averts this trope — she is very popular, despite being at least as bad as Duke in most ways, mostly through sheer force of Crosses the Line Twice and Awesome Ego.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Veronica gets shipped with absolutely everyone. Aside from J.D, it tends to be with the rest of the female characters.
  • LGBT Fanbase: The musical has a large sapphic following, probably due in part to the show's feminist themes and large female cast, usually with a tendency towards Ho Yay depending on the production. Was brought Up to Eleven in a recent UC Berkeley production that cast a female J.D. to play against Veronica.
  • Les Yay: At the end of the show, Veronica asks Martha "are you free tonight?", the same line she said to JD. It's a gesture of friendship, but Martha's somewhat surprised expression makes it look like she thought it was a pickup line.
  • Love to Hate: Heather Chandler is an obnoxious, snooty, unsympathetic Asshole Victim, but she sells the queen bee image so damn well she steals every scene she's in. "Candy Store" is perhaps the most popular song in the show.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Among fans: "SHUT UP, HEATHER!"
    • The show closing: "I love my dead gay show!"
    • "Fuck me gently with a chainsaw!"
    • Barret Wilbert Weed's Signature Laugh.
    • "My teenage angst bullshit has a body count."
    • "Are we gonna have a problem? You got a bone to pick? You've come so far. Why now are you pulling on my dick?"
    • Veronica's entire monologue during "Beautiful," explaining who the Heathers are.
    • "Illegal Heathers." In 2016, someone found a bootleg of an almost hilariously bad high school version of the show (that was, in all likelihood, illegal and unauthorized). Notorious for having an awkward mix of dialogue from both the musical and movie, the leads having no chemistry, cutting almost all the songs, and other such cringe-worthy things, the fandom delights in mocking it. YMMV if this is why a "high school edition" was made.
    • The choir singing "holy shit!" three times at the start of "Fight for Me". Tends to be used when describing the anxiety before a test, or something disproportionately mundane.
    • Jokes about J.D not being able to count to three, thanks to him getting impatient ("ONE, TWO- FUCK IT!") during "Meant To Be Yours."
    • "What's Your Damage?"
  • Memetic Psychopath: J.D.'s murderous tendencies are often exaggerated and played for Black Comedy by the fandom, similar to Carl from Llamas with Hats.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • Obviously, there's still one for JD. If anything it's more pronounced in the musical's fandom, since the show played up his sympathetic qualities more.
    • Kurt/Ram is one of the most popular ships in the show...despite the fact that them being gay lovers was a lie made up by JD to make their "suicide" look more convincing.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • A lot of fans feel Heather Duke crosses it by mocking McNamara for opening up about her suicidal tendencies and anxieties and humiliates her further in something that was meant to be helping the students after the passing of their fellow classmates.
    • Though some fans also point out that while bullying someone- especially a friend- is terrible, it's nowhere near as bad as J.D. (and Veronica) being guilty of actual murder.
    • The fandom's split on whether or not J.D. ever crossed it, and if he managed to redeem himself by sacrificing himself to save Veronica. However, for fans that think J.D. crossed it, him plotting to blow up the school is generally where they say he did.
    • "Blue" and its reprise are a collective MEH for Kurt and Ram, played for laughs. They drunkenly attempt to sexually assault Veronica and then spread rumors that could ruin her life. However, the hilarity of it doesn't make it any less satisfying and horrifying when J.D. shoots them both over it.
    • Though she's only alive for a short while in the musical, Heather Chandler has plenty of moments you can view as her crossing it, from taunting Heather Duke over her eating disorder, forcing Veronica into forging a love letter to trick her best friend, trying to utterly humiliate Martha because she had the nerve to show up at a party where popular people were attending, planning on turning the entire school against Veronica for daring to stand up to her...she's not a mythic bitch for nothing.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Sure, J.D. has a horrible past, but that in no way even comes close to excusing his murderous actions. Veronica tries pointing this out to him in "I Say No", but he's just too insane to listen to her.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • Barret Wilbert Weed's version of Veronica's laugh, which is adorably awkward. It helps that it's so infectious.
    • The guitar riff at the end of "Our Love is God".
  • Narm Charm: Many songs run on this. For example, "Seventeen" is about mundane things like watching bad movies and eating chili fries. "Kindergarten Boyfriend" is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. They should be hard to take seriously, but due to beautiful music and sincere acting, they're both genuine tear jerkers.
  • No Yay: Most fans don't ship Kurt and Ram with anyone, since they attempt to rape Veronica, Heather Duke, and Heather McNamara, and bully J.D. and Martha. (The fact that Martha has a crush on Ram only makes it worse, though notably it's always Kurt who picks on Martha, not Ram.) They obey Heather Chandler, but most fans agree they're beneath her. Shipping them with each other, however, is apparently fair game, even though it's actually framed as a joke in the musical.
  • One True Threesome: Foursome, rather - Veronica/all three Heathers is predictably rather popular, and has spawned a very long-running Alternate Universe Fic on tumblr and Archive of Our Own.
    • Veronica/Martha/Heather M isn't unheard of, especially thanks to "Seventeen (Reprise)".
  • Portmanteau Couple Name:
  • Ship Mates: Veronica/Heather C. and Heather D./Heather M. are frequently found together.
  • Ships That Pass in the Night: There's a surprising following for J.D./Heather McNamara, especially in the roleplay community, despite him never speaking to her in canon. J.D being willing to kill Heather Duke for nearly driving McNamara to suicide might have something to do with it, since the only person he was murdering before then were people who harassed Veronica.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: J.D./Veronica versus... Veronica/anyone else. (By contrast, the fans of J.D./Veronica and J.D./anyone else tend to be at least civil.)
  • So Bad, It's Good: The "Illegal Heathers" production is notorious for not just embodying the worst parts of a high school musical, but also changing so much of the source material that it would most likely be illegal even if it had been authorized.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: It's generally agreed that, as hilarible as "Illegal Heathers" is, the actresses playing Heather Chandler and Ms. Fleming gave genuinely good performances. Some people like to joke that this version of Chandler "actually" died because her spine broke from trying to carry the entire show.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Some people think that J.D. is by far the most "evil" person in the entire cast. Sure, his backstory is tragic and he's clearly mentally ill, but it doesn't excuse his crimes, meaning romantic or heartfelt numbers like "Seventeen" can fall flat when you remember he's a manipulative murderer. Even his feelings for Veronica don’t make him very sympathetic as he comes across as so creepily possessive of her and blatantly ignores her pleas against his psychotic nature. Many would say his sacrifice for her also falls flat when you remember that he’s doing this selfless act for a single person, and was otherwise willing to kill hundreds of people only a minute ago.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Some people apparently thought that, since it's about high schoolers, it would make a good high school play. And it might, if you don't mind the explicit on-stage murders, the multiple suicide attempts, the sex scene in "Dead Girl Walking", the sexually explicit language, the antagonist plotting to blow up a school...
  • The Woobie:
    • Veronica, for everything first that Heather Chandler, and then J.D., put her through. At first, she seems to have achieved her goal of becoming one of the popular girls, only to discover shortly after that it also requires her becoming an Alpha Bitch and dealing with the harassment they take. Then she falls in with a psychotic boyfriend who is obsessed with protecting her to the point of being a Yandere, plus she gets Slut-Shaming from the people who are supposed to be her friends and narrowly sexually assaulted by Kurt and Ram.
    • Martha "Dumptruck," for being constantly bullied, abandoned and screwed over by her only friend, and eventually attempting suicide. Not to mention being in unrequited love with Ram, which is used as a subject of ridicule people constantly bring up to embarrass him and laugh at Martha.
    • Heather McNamara, who, even amongst the Heathers, clearly suffers a great deal, especially after her suicide attempt, though she can skirt Jerkass Woobie when you remember she was a willing participant in the bullying of both Veronica and Martha.
Advertisement:

    The 2018 Television Series 
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: A 2018 TV series aimed at teenagers...that seriously presents the idea that "marginalized" students (Overweight, LGBT, POCnote , etc) are the most popular and powerful kids in their school while an attractive white girl is bullied alongside constant slams on "SJWs" and a character revealing they're only pretending to be transgender "in order to fit in." Is it any wonder it ended up so hated?
  • Awesome Music: The song that played in the first teaser, "Run Run Blood" by Phantogram is universally agreed to be the best part of said teaser even among those who think this series is gonna suck.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Every character is either a helpless victim or a sociopath and by the end, there are no true likable characters.
  • Designated Villain: Sarah Z characterises Heather Chandler as this (at least in the pilot) in her critical video.
  • He Really Can Act: The Heathers are all being portrayed by actors that have had minor roles thus far. Among the few pleasant surprises critics found in the show were the trio's excellent performances, with particular praise being given to Heather C's actress Melanie Field.
  • Franchise Original Sin: In the musical, Heather Duke has been consistently portrayed by a nonwhite actress. Considering that Duke became more villainous in the transition from movie to musical, it's not a large leap in logic to spot racist undertones in this casting. However, this dog whistle, while boneheaded at best and unapologetically bigoted at worst, is a masterpiece in intersectional diversity compared to the 2018 reboot, in which all the Heathers are members of marginalized groups AND are considered "oppressors" of the straight, white good-looking students.
  • Overshadowed by Controversy: The single thing to be talked about the show is the offensive undertones of the Heathers' casting; no online review of the show goes by without mentioning it and no site featuring it is without this debate.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Many feel this way, complaining about things such as Heathers C. and D. being portrayed as the types that their previous incarnations (if not a large chunk of Westburg) would have bullied to hell and back, Veronica looking more like the earlier incarnations of the Heathers than herself, and JD not wearing his iconic trenchcoat.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: The other issues on this page notwithstanding, several fans were intrigued by the show's version of Heather Chandler and were quite disappointed when the trailer seemingly confirmed that she still dies early on. Subverted, as she ends up Spared by the Adaptation.
    • Heather McNamara, a widely popular character that most fans like (or at least sympathize with), gets killed off in the first half of the season, before her original character arc can even take place.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • A lot of people think a modern version of Heathers could've been cool, and that adding more diversity to the story would've been a welcome change... except this series utterly misses the point of the original, and makes the only diverse characters the villains.
    • Alternatively, the idea of the Heathers being portrayed as/by marginalized people is something that fans have been interested in for a long time - as seen in the popularity of lesbian, bisexual, or otherwise LGBT headcanons for the Heathers and many fan drawings of various Heathers as POC and/or “chubby”- but the show ruins the potential by making the more diverse Heathers into SJW-mocking jokes, who only became popular because of Political Correctness Gone Mad, rather than on their own merits.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: Critics might have panned everything about the show, but it does seem that the actors (specially those playing the Heathers) were giving it their all. Particular praise was given to Melanie Field's performance as Heather Chandler, which was her first star role, no less.
  • Uncertain Audience: In theory, the show was meant to appeal to the younger, teen generation, but it does so by playing straight ideas that most of them don't have, which would instead appeal to much older, much more conservative viewers, who are unlikely to be interested in a show about high school.
    Sarah Z: It seems like neither of these groups (Social Justice Warriors and more Conservative groups) actually like the adaptation and both are convinced it was created to pander to the other.
  • Unfortunate Implications: As many fans of the movie and the musical have pointed out, the series casting the bullying, Alpha Bitch Heathers as fat, LGBT, and/or POC and leaving their victim Veronica straight, white, and slender (the same applying to Bully Hunter JD) is... rather poorly thought out. The blatant use of trans stereotypes (the genderqueer Heather is actually a cis man pretending to be trans for popularity), the show treating body positivity as Political Correctness Gone Mad while making blatant fat jokes, and the general assumption by the showrunners that marginalized teenagers are the most popular people at school (something that doesn't tend to happen in real life) ended up creating a lot of these.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report