On-screen students have a special place in film culture. Whether starring in a revered classic or a beloved new movie, the characters often become cultural landmarks.
There’s the nostalgia of John Hughes’ movies about high school in the eighties, and there’s National Lampoon movies with their wild college parties. There are movies where students study hard to overcome great odds, and there are others where the on-screen students seem doomed for failure.
The characters are often complex, demonstrating a blend of intelligence, grades, and hard work that doesn’t always line up the same way. For example, a top student may unexpectedly end up with bad grades, or an unlikely achiever may put in the hard work to get ahead. Even in the Pixar classic, Monsters University, we see two student types of Sully’s laziness and Mike’s lack of scariness.
To understand how on-screen students ranked, OneClass analyzed the plots and characters to develop an infographic about the Best and Worst Students in Movies. It breaks down the stats on which students studied the most, which got the best grades, and which was the smartest.
Here are selected results on how students in the movies performed in their classes.
Movies Where Students Studied the Hardest
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure: This duo didn’t resort to Cliff’s Notes for their homework. Instead, they went on a time-traveling adventure in order to get the facts right for their history class.
Legally Blonde: Another hard worker, Elle is an undergrad as a fashion major cramming for the LSATs. Her hard work earned her a 179 which gets her accepted at Harvard Law School.
Smartest Students in the Movies
Good Will Hunting: Will wasn’t a top student. In fact, he was the janitor, but he was able to solve theorems that even the MIT professors couldn’t. However, he also set fire to his homework so even though he was intelligent, his grades probably weren’t great.
Proof: Catherine is a Mathematics grad student at the University of Chicago where she developed a mathematical proof that was so groundbreaking that she’s accused of plagiarism by her colleagues.
Movie Students with the Best Grades
Revenge of the Nerds: In this classic nerd comedy, Lewis and Gilbert earn top grades in their classes, but they don’t demonstrate over-the-top intelligence. Instead the nerds face challenges of the Greek Games and Homecoming.
21: MIT student, Ben, was getting top grades as a Math major. After he started spending too much time in Vegas playing blackjack, he was lucky that he didn’t flunk out. Instead, he earned an incomplete, giving him the opportunity to finish the coursework and keep his GPA up.
Top Slackers in the Movies
Animal House: In addition to the partying, the students in Animal House got awful grades. When Dean Worner met with the Deltas, their midterm GPAs ranged from Hoover getting a 1.6 to Blutarsky earning a 0.0.
Van Wilder: The title character didn’t finish his degree in four years. Instead it took nearly twice that with the super-senior attending his seventh year in college for an advanced degree in partying.
Check out all of the best and worst students in the movies at OneClass.com.