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Hi, I’m Hannah, and I’m shamelessly a fan of teen dramas.

NBC / Via media.giphy.com

Though I love getting way too invested in these storylines, I can’t deny the obvious formula these shows all follow. The plots may differ, but there are plenty of cringey and tired tropes that stretch across the entire teen drama universe.

Fox / Via media.giphy.com

So, I’ve decided to put together my own list of the absolutely bonkers “unwritten rules” that all teen dramas seem to follow.


Everyone is inexplicably hot. Like, smokin’ hot.

KJ Apa, Blake Lively, and Rudy Pankow

Everett Collection

I know Hollywood is filled with beautiful people, but the casts for these teen dramas are always UNREAL. Sorry, nobody really looks like that! And they’re supposed to be in high school? No way! Where are the zits?! I am so insecure rn.


The teenagers must all be played by grown-ass adults.

Ed Westwick and Ian Ziering

Everett Collection

Please stop trying to convince me that these mature (and totally chiseled) adults are high school sophomores. I’m not buying it!


School dress code is nonexistent.

HBO / Via media.giphy.com

Don’t get me wrong, I DESPISE dress codes. But are we really going to pretend like they don’t exist? The fishnets, the mini skirts, the mesh tops, the crop tops, the strapless dresses — I love them all. Please keep rocking them. But we all know real high schools are NOT that tolerant. Sigh.


It wouldn’t be a drama if we didn’t include at least one love triangle.

Archie and Veronica, then Reggie and Veronica

Everett Collection / The CW

Heads will roll and hearts will BREAK! But who do you ship?


There’s nothing unnatural about the supernatural.

A vampire, a woman performing magic, and a guy becoming a werewolf

The CW

Yeah, ghosts may be real. Magic? It’s real. Werewolves? Yup. Vampires? Definitely. Oh, and we all have superpowers! Wanna watch me start a fire using only my mind?


There is never any parental supervision.

Netflix / Via media.giphy.com

From the wild parties and constant sex to the super-dangerous detective work, these kids are almost ALWAYS unsupervised. Their parents are pretty important characters too. Why are they never paying attention to the feral things their kids are doing? Like, excuse me, your “teens” are out solving murders then having sex IN YOUR HOUSE. DAILY.


No one is ever going to class or doing their homework…

The CW / Via media.giphy.com

Schoolwork is only ever mentioned if it’s somehow woven into a major plot point. Half the time, these “students” don’t even carry backpacks. Where are your textbooks? Why do you even have lockers?


…but everyone keeps getting into Ivy League schools.

"Yale" an arrows pointing to Betty Cooper and Serena van der Woodsen

The CW / Everett Collection

You really expect me to believe that Yale is just on everybody’s list? Just like that?


The parents of two of the main characters will inevitably be long-lost lovers.

FP and Alice kissing, then Lily and Rufus kissing

The CW

And, for some twisted reason, their kids are always dating. Looking at you Alice Cooper and FP Jones, Lily van der Woodsen and Rufus Humphrey, Fred Andrews and Hermione Lodge…


Someone’s bound to have a secret sibling.

Charles from Riverdale and Scott from Gossip Girl

The CW

Oh, is the plot getting stale? Here’s a thought — let’s give the protagonist a brother she didn’t know about!


Money must grow on trees.

Netflix Phillipines / Via media.giphy.com

I know a lot of teen dramas have incredibly wealthy characters, but how do all these unemployed 15-years-olds have endless funds?


Everyone takes fashion REALLY seriously.

Veronica singing, next to Blair walking

The CW / Everett Collection

Each and every character has such a specific style, and their outfits are always dramatically in line with their personal “brand.” Like, damn, does no one in this universe own a pair of sweatpants?


Everyone has aggressive school spirit.

High schoolers all expressing great school spirit

Everett Collection / HBO / The CW

Every week is spirit week in these fictional high schools! The cheerleaders are always in their uniforms for some reason. Everyone has a letterman jacket. The stands are full at EVERY sporting event. There is so much *spirit*!


There’s probably gonna be a time jump.

Dan admiring Serena as she comes down the stairs in her wedding dress

The CW

“Oh shit, these characters have got to graduate high school and college at some point. Okay, let’s just skip ahead to a random point in their adult lives.” At least the actors finally get to play characters their own age.


Someone’s an imposter…but who?

Question marks all around a man and woman's heads

The CW / Everett Collection

Yeah, there’s always some creepy kid that rolls into town and pretends to be someone else. What’s your deal? I’m sorry, but there’s no way you’re getting away with this — not in the age of social media.


Student-teacher affairs are commonplace.

Student-teacher affairs in TV shows

The CW / The WB / ABC Family

This one always fucks me up. It’s just SO wrong and SO icky. Please, stop trying to make it ~a thing.~ It’s not “forbidden love” — it’s a FELONY.


Finally: Life is never mundane…like, EVER.

The CW

These characters never get any down time! They can’t so much as take a poop without some random villain showing up in town. I know it’s a show and there’s gotta be a driving force in the plot, but OMG, how do these characters have such an endless stream of life-or-death problems to address?

What are some more classic teen drama tropes? Drop ’em in the comments below!

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