Hollywood characters regularly face terrifying adversity. Killers in masks. Stormtroopers. And being a teenage girl. Body image, crushes, and post-high school plans are treacherous waters. Navigating them is always easier with a BFF who's got your back no matter what.
There is no shortage of coming-of-age stories featuring male protagonists. And they're all great. Who doesn't crack a smile at the mention of McLovin? But in recent years, the scales have begun to incrementally balance with a better representation of female onscreen friendship. These characters are well-rounded and complex, not just a trophy to be claimed on prom night. Recent hits, along with seasoned classics, show that these teenage girls can be just as raunchy, insecure, smart, and hilarious as the boys.
10 Cady & Janis (Mean Girls)
Plotting a queen bee's demise isn't the most positive way to form a friendship, but it sure is a fun one. In Mean Girls, Cady and Janis have a mutual enemy in Regina George. Janis devises the master plan of destruction and Cady plays the part of regulation hottie/Trojan horse.
At first the scheme brings the girls closer together, but things devolve when Cady goes from double agent to cold, hard Plastic. She eventually learns that making others miserable doesn't make her any happier. Cady and Janis bury the hatchet and their friendship is all the stronger. But that doesn't mean they won't get up to their old tricks if Junior Plastics decide to test them...
9 Samantha, Roberta, Chrissy & Teeny (Now and Then)
Even the tightest teenage friendships can fall by the wayside in adulthood. But a pact made by four best friends remains gospel. So in Now and Then, when Chrissy is set to give birth to her first child, the old neighborhood friends drop everything and reunite. Naturally this leads to reminiscing about the good old days of malt shops and séances.
The women recall a particular summer which was unremarkable to a casual observer, but life-changing for all of them. Samantha almost drowned trying to salvage a friendship bracelet given to her by Teeny, an act as meaningful as it was thoughtless. Back in present day, the women realize growing up doesn't mean having to lose touch with the people who used to make you feel happy and safe. A new pact is made and a friendship is restored.
8 Lindsay & Kim (Freaks and Geeks)
Some friendships are formed from jump. Others take a little finessing. On Freaks and Geeks, Lindsay and Kim initially can't stand each other. Lindsay thinks Kim is a heartless bully, while Kim thinks of Lindsay as an uptight snob. But the girls learn that strong bonds are formed over tough times. Kim begrudgingly invites Lindsay over for dinner in order to prove to her parents that she has a wholesome friend.
There, Lindsay gets a front-row seat to the dysfunciton-palooza of the Kelly house. She realizes that Kim's surly demeanor isn't a choice; it's a survival mechanism. Thus, a true friendship is formed. At the end of the series, Lindsay and Kim run off for the summer to follow the Grateful Dead tour. It's an adventure you'd only want to have with your bestie by your side.
7 Cher & Dionne (Clueless)
What do you get the Clueless California girl who has everything? A BFF who's just as fabulous. Both named after "famous singers of the past who now do infomercials", Cher and Dionne are attached at the hip. They only seem to differ when it comes to their stance on high school boys. Dionne is almost ready to lose her virginity to her steady boyfriend Murray, where Cher is saving herself for Luke Perry (RIP).
But other than that, Cher and Dionne see eye to eye on just about everything. They have a penchant for innocent teen hijinks, like giving the new girl a makeover or playing matchmaker to a pair of hopeless teachers. Their friendship may not built on a foundation of depth but when you're sixteen, sometimes all you need is someone to go with you to the Beverly Center and see the new Christian Slater.
6 Lady Bird & Julie (Lady Bird)
All relationships require a mutual amount of caring to survive. Friendships are no exception. In Lady Bird, Lady Bird and Julie do everything together, from pilfering communion wafers to auditioning for the fall musical. But Lady Bird is at a crossroads, where she decides she wants a life of excitement and adventure.
Alas, that doesn't include sweet, reliable Julie. As Lady Bird drifts away, Julie grows resentful and this leads to an emotional, albeit hilarious, public blowup. But Lady Bird soon learns that her new, cool "friends" aren't friends at all. On prom night, it clicks that there's nobody on the face of the earth Lady Bird would rather go with than her best friend. Lady Bird and Julie share a slow dance, much to the nuns' dismay and the audience's elation.
5 Amy & Molly (Booksmart)
No offense to cheerleaders and prom queens...but nerdy girls make the best friends. What are friends for if not understanding your need to get a fake I.D. to study at the library all night? In Booksmart, valedictorian Molly has a rude awakening when she discovers that her fellow hard-partying students got into Ivy League colleges, and that she and study buddy/BFF Amy wasted their entire high school experience. So what are they to do but cram it into one epic night of partying right before graduation?
Wild nights with your bestie can be some of the best moments of your life. But to make them truly great, both friends need to be all-in. Amy feels more like a sidekick, dragged along because Molly invoked the Malala clause of their friendship. More revelations come out as the girls fight. But a friendship like theirs isn't ruined overnight. The girls reconcile and make a graduation entrance neither they, nor their fellow alumni, will forget.
4 Betty & Veronica (Riverdale)
When you're in high school, changing your reputation isn't easy. For over fifty years in the Archie Comics, Betty and Veronica have been portrayed as frenemies rivaling for the affection of Archie Andrews. But all that changed with the dawn of Riverdale. In the hit TV series, the town may have gotten darker, but the B&V's friendship grew a lot stronger. Though both initially pined for the redheaded boy next door, Veronica put her feelings aside in order to keep Betty as friend. When Betty found love with Jughead, Veronica wanted to explore a romance with Archie. Being a solid friend, she cleared it with Betty first.
Betty and Veronica may have had their ups and downs—try as we might, we can't forget the illicit Barchie kiss. But they've always bounced back. The Season 3 finale saw them both willing to die for each other. The town of Riverdale may breed serial killers, gang members, and Gargoyle Kings, but it also produces some of the best friends ever.
3 Buffy & Willow (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy is the Chosen One, who comes from a long line of heroes destined to live, fight, and die alone. Most Slayers don't make it past the age of twenty-five. But Buffy learns the key to survival—friendship. Her pals fight alongside her battle after battle, risking their necks to save the world. Though Buffy has an entire Scooby Gang, her strongest friendship is with Willow.
Buffy recognized Willow as the genuine article on her first day at Sunnydale High and the two have been saving each other's lives ever since. Willow even gave up a first rate college education because more than anything, she wanted to stay in Sunnydale and fight evil with Buffy. Sure, the two friends almost killed each other at one point, but what do you expect on a Hellmouth? The Scoobies' final battle is won solely based on Buffy's faith in Willow's magical abilities. They're strong women on their own, but as BFFs, Buffy and Willow are unstoppable.
2 Julie, Kayla & Sam (Blockers)
It is the goal of many teen BFFs to want to do everything together. In Blockers, Julie tells her two best friends that she plans to have sex with her boyfriend on prom night. As this is the girls' last hurrah before college, they make a pact to all lose their virginities at the same time. The intention is sweet and speaks to how much they care for each other. But having sex for the first time is an individual decision, and the girls learn that as much as they want to honor the pact, not all of them are ready.
Each of the girls get a room with their dates, but only Julie goes through with the deed. Kayla decides she's not ready for intercourse and decides to explore other sexual activities with her boyfriend. Sam has yet to come out as gay and decides that losing her virginity to a guy just to fit in is not a good idea. When the girls reconvene, Sam bravely comes out and is immediately embraced by her friends. Shared experiences are important, but loving each other as individuals is what truly makes a friendship rock-solid.
1 Maya & Anna (Pen15)
Is there a more painfully awkward time in your life than being thirteen? On Pen15, Maya and Anna are butterfly clip-wearing sisters in arms as they reluctantly march towards puberty. They share everything from secrets to gel pens, even a thong. But Maya and Anna are forced to confront the fact that they can't do every single thing together and will always have different experiences. This leads to a rift between them, but they learn to put aside their differences in one of the sweetest friendship reunions ever. Being rejected for a slow dance is beyond traumatizing, but when your best friend is there to help you shrug it off, the impossible can happen—junior high becomes bearable. Kind of.