Certain teen movies have moments that stick with you for the rest of your life. Perhaps it’s because these flicks have a way of coming into our lives when we need them most, or because it was the first suggestion of a whole bunch of super-unrealistic expectations we would create about growing up, love, and being a teen. We had to learn pretty quickly that our love interest probably won’t go on a romantic overnight scavenger hunt through Manhattan with us, or give us that *perfect* kiss that makes our foot pop, or sing a musical number in front of the whole school just to impress us. Despite the fact that our lives weren’t nearly as glamorous as we thought they would be, certain teen movie moments will be cemented in our brains forever – for better or for worse!
16. When Cady gives her crown away at prom in Mean Girls
Mean Girls as a movie definitely changed the lives of (probably) millions of people everywhere. TBH, we still have a hard time going one day without hearing a Mean Girls quote. Whether we’re just talking about our “heavy flows and wide-set vaginas” or talking about a “life ruiner! She ruins people’s lives!”, there’s no question that Mean Girls is a staple of pop culture lexicon. The whole movie is full of iconic and hilarious scenes, but the most heartwarming one is definitely the prom scene. Cady has transformed from nice girl to mean girl, and still somehow wins prom queen. However, she returns to her roots during a dramatic speech, in which she breaks apart her crown and throws the pieces to the people she thinks truly deserve it. Beaut.
15. When Mia’s foot pops in The Princess Diaries
Watching The Princess Diaries is definitely a rite of passage for tween girls. The best part is that Mia is far from perfect — she gets caught up with nasty people and her own ego while trying to figure herself out. No scene proves this better than her horrible kiss with her longtime crush and totally useless boy, Josh. However, the whole thing is made up in her redeeming kiss with Michael, her BFF’s older brother (kinda anti-girl code but whatever), and certified heartthrob/sweet boy. As Mia had always dreamed, her foot pops off the ground when he kisses her, just like a true princess. *Sigh*.
14. The final tunnel scene in The Perks of Being a Wallflower
First of all, if you haven’t read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, then you definitely should. But, the film adaptation is relatively dark as far teen movies go, making it an excellent remake of the original book. In particular, one of the most important scenes in the book occurs when Charlie, Sam, and Patrick are riding in a pickup truck through a super-long tunnel, listening to The Smiths. Talk about every indie teen’s dream moment. The movie recreated it perfectly. After all of the characters go through their hardships and trauma, seeing them fly through the tunnel one, final time was super cathartic.
13. When Juno makes a deal with Vanessa in Juno
We have to start off by saying that few teen movies are as controversial as Juno is. The whole idea that a teenage girl can get pregnant, live out the perfect ~quirky~ romance, and then move on with her totally-perfect life is a lot far-fetched. However, the movie was so witty and charming that it generated countless iconic lines and scenes. In particular, the end of the movie stuck with us. By this point, Juno has dealt with teen pregnancy, relationship troubles, and then the potential adoptive father of her baby tried to leave his wife for her (a 16-year-old). However, Vanessa (the adoptive mother) tells Juno that his ass is out, and she still wants to adopt the baby if Juno’s in. Talk about girl power.
12. When Patrick serenades Kat in 10 Things I Hate About You
Aside from the fact that Heath Ledger was one of the dreamiest actors of all time, he also was the main reason 10 Things I Hate About You was such a great movie. Something about his bad-boy charm combined with Julia Stiles playing Kat, the unapproachable feminist, was super unique as far as teen movies go. We all wanted to be as tough as Kat, but still have a hunk like Patrick fall for us. No moment proved this more than when we see Patrick (played by Ledger) ditch his aloof persona to try and woo Kat with a musical number. It’s super cheesy and unbelievably charming.
11. When Nick & Norah hook up in the recording studio in Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
I think that Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist is single-handedly responsible for many teens’ unrealistic expectations about love and dating. It made every dorky teen dude think he would find his own Kat Dennings, and made every girl think that some perfectly awkward musician would sweep us off of our feet to lead us on adventures through NYC just like Nick & Norah. However, the most notable scene in this movie was definitely when they hook up in Electric Lady Studios, which Norah’s dad also happens to own. It’s tender and adorable, and most of our horrifically-awkward first hook-ups most definitely do not measure up.
10. When Viola and Duke start sharing their feelings in She’s the Man
She’s The Man is definitely one of the more absurd teen movies from our generation. Granted, it’s based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, so it’s supposed to be pretty unrealistic. Once you put aside the fact that Viola has somehow fooled everyone into thinking that she’s her brother, Sebastian, there are tons of moments in this movie that are forever memorable. In particular, when we realize that Viola is totally falling for Duke, Sebastian’s roommate, and it weirdly seems like Duke, a “straight” dude, is falling for Sebastian/Viola.
At one point, they have a conversation in their bedroom, when “Sebastian” aka Viola gives Duke advice how to woo a girl, clearly imagining herself in the situation. It’s so tender and nice, and the whole thing is obviously ruined by a loose tarantula running through the room (if you haven’t watched the movie, get on it ASAP).
9. When Bender walks away at the end of The Breakfast Club
There are pretty much no teen movies that even compare to the legend that is The Breakfast Club. This movie was one of the first fairly-accurate coming-of-age films. It talked about things like abusive parents, addiction, depression, suicide, and all of us saw a little part of ourselves in the characters. While each of the characters didn’t get along initially because of their distinct personalities, in the end, they all relate to each other in a beautiful way despite being vastly different. The wholesomeness and feelings of personal achievement all come to a head in the last scene, when Bender throws his fist into the air as “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds plays. TBH, we dare you to name a more iconic scene.
8. When Elle Woods wins her case in Legally Blonde
Maybe it’s not technically a teen movie, but Legally Blonde was seriously empowering for teen girls everywhere. We watch Elle, a stereotypical “dumb blonde” sorority girl as she attempts to succeed at Harvard Law. At first, she only wants to go to impress her total scrub of an ex-boyfriend but realizes that she’s actually a total badass and a brilliant student on her own. She even gets to work on a real court case under one of Harvard’s best professors. Even though the professor ends up being a total creep, Elle proves everyone wrong when she single-handedly finds the evidence that wins the case. It turns out her knowledge of deactivating ammonium thioglycolate with water came in handy! She proved that no matter how much studying you do, a good lawyer needs to have some real-world experience to truly excel.
7. Olive’s musical number in Easy A
Often times, the best teen movies have musical numbers, and Easy A is just further proof of that. In a scene that’s definitely a little bit inspired by Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Olive performs an epic musical number in front of her entire high school. Of course, this is all to promote the webcast she’s about to share, explaining her side of the story regarding all the wild rumors about her. This scene was just so satisfying, because it’s not every day that you get to make a big scene and get everyone in your school to just sit down and listen to you.
6. When Hazel reads the letter in The Fault In Our Stars
If you’re looking for a movie that will rip your heart out and tapdance on it, then you should probably check out The Fault In Our Stars. Based on the novel by John Green, the movie is just as devastating and beautiful. The end of the movie, in particular, will leave you feeling… different. We quickly learn that Augustus’s cancer has relapsed, and he passes away shortly after he and Hazel Grace spend a romantic vacation in Amsterdam. Just when we’re ready to abandon this movie forever, Hazel Grace reads a note that Augustus wrote to her before he died. The end of the letter reads: “I like my choices. I hope she likes hers. Okay, Hazel Grace?” to which Hazel Grace says, “Okay.” Cue, entire movie theater sobbing.
5. When Gabriella sings “Go My Own Way” in High School Musical 2
Not only does this song slap, but Gabriella’s performance of “Go My Own Way” really stuck with many young girls forever. High School Musical was so good, it makes us wonder why all teen movies aren’t musicals. Either way, in High School Musical 2, we watch as Troy and Gabriella’s relationship starts facing some strain as they deal with things like jealousy, jobs, and upcoming decisions about their future. When Gabriella realizes that she has to take a (super temporary) break from dating Troy in order to work on herself, we felt that. Her independence was short-lived but still impactful.
4. Napoleon’s dance routine in Napoleon Dynamite
While this scene definitely wasn’t super heartwarming or dramatic, Napoleon Dynamite was one of the most memorable teen movies of our generation. It’s a movie that’s kind of about nothing, as we follow Napoleon and his bizarre friends and family through their everyday lives. Napoleon is crazy-shy and super nerdy, and the only things he really cares about are his friends — Deb and Pedro, and his tots. When Pedro totally flops during his campaign speech for class president, Napoleon saves the day. He whips out an intricate dance to “Canned Heat” by Jamiroquai. Unforgettable.
3. Sam and Austin’s kiss in A Cinderella Story
How could a movie called A Cinderella Storynot be super cliché? No one does teen movies quite like Hilary Duff, especially when you throw Chad Michael Murray into the mix as well. Sam starts as the ~relatable~ character, just your average girl who tends to get bullied and ignored by the “popular” crowd. Of course, she falls in love with the typical jock dude, Austin, who eventually falls in love with her. But they actually don’t know it’s one another because they met in a chat room. Despite all the troubles, betrayals, and heartbreak they experience along the way as their identities are revealed, Sam and Austin finally share a passionate kiss during one of Austin’s football games. “Waiting for you is like waiting for rain in this drought.” I-CON-IQUE. Kissing Chad Michael Murray in the rain in front of our entire high school? Sign us up.
2. When “Tess” gives a speech at the end of Freaky Friday
To this day, few girl characters in teen movies are as memorable or cool as Anna (played by Lindsay Lohan) in Freaky Friday. She for sure wasn’t the popular girl, but she had that DGAF attitude and ~rebellious~ thing about her that we all wanted to emulate ourselves. Plus, the whole movie is about her transformation from bratty teenager to kindhearted, mature, grown-up… while stuck in the body of her mother, of course. Her mother (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) and her fight constantly, especially when they switch bodies after falling victims to an ancient Chinese curse. The only thing that can change them back? Selfless love. And when Anna (in Tess’s body) gives her heartwarming speech at her mother’s rehearsal dinner, we all felt a little bit closer to our own moms. For like, five seconds, at least.
1. When the girls reunite after the summer in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Few teen movies compare to the legacy of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. This was more than your average, cheesy teen movie. It dealt with some dark issues and portrayed a diverse group of girls with their own unique personalities and sets of problems. They’re imperfect, and each spends their summer apart doing some serious growing up. Despite the fact that they all change significantly over vacation, seeing them finally reunite will stick with us forever. It’s difficult — they bicker and shed lots of tears, but at the end of the day they love each other. If this part didn’t make you sentimental about your childhood friends, nothing will.