We’re currently right in the middle of prom season, and every high school student getting ready to attend the big dance probably has some big hopes and dreams for what will happen on prom night. Most of those dreams probably involve taking the perfect date, wearing the perfect outfit, and dancing to the perfect music, while surrounded by a solid group of friends.
Prom is supposed to be a night to remember, in the best way possible, but in TV and movies it doesn’t always end up that way. In order to maximize drama, TV and movies often put our favorite characters in the worst situations, especially on their big night. Unfortunately for these characters, their proms don’t go as well as they had planned, often resulting in heartbreak and hurt. Here are the 16 Worst Proms Ever In Movies And TV, that we are so glad our high school did't have.
Although the Friends prom ended up working out for Monica and Rachel, it didn’t go so well for Ross. The perpetually unlucky-in-love paleontologist wasn’t any luckier when he was in college, as shown by his multi-year unrequited crush on Rachel. As shown in the flashback-filled “The One With the Prom Video,” Ross got all dressed up in his dad’s tux when Rachel’s date for the prom didn’t show up, ready to sweep her off her feet and save the day. However, right as he’s coming down the stairs to surprise her, he sees her walking out the door with her very late date, crushing his hopes of finally getting some time with his longtime love. It’s all caught on his dad’s video camera - talk about an experience you don’t want to relive. Although the two ended up getting together much later in life, it was still have hard for Ross to have his hopes crushed like that.
Despite the pretty glorious fashion exhibited by Romy and Michele at their high school prom, it doesn’t go over so well for them. The Madonna twins didn’t have a great night, thanks to the machinations of mean girl Christie, who lied to Romy and said that her hot boyfriend, Billy, was going to be leaving her to get with the titular blonde. When Christie and Billy ditch the dance, Romy is left alone and dejected with her friend. However, the two end up getting their revenge at their 10-year high school reunion, showing up their whole class with an awesome dance routine set to the very popular prom song “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper. Romy also gets her revenge on Billy when he tries to hook up with her, telling him to wait for her naked in a hotel room that she never plans on going to. Now that’s how you show up the popular kids.
A horror film called Prom Night means that the school dance is obviously not going to end very well for the teens involved. Both iterations of Prom Night (a 1980 film starring Jamie Lee Curtis and a 2008 film starring one of the new scream queens, Brittany Snow) showcase one of the worst things that can go wrong on the best night of high school: a vicious killer doing anything they can to find you and kill you. In Curtis’ version, the killer is seeking revenge years after the death of Kim’s (Curtis) younger sister in a game gone wrong. In Snow’s, the villain is a former teacher with a dangerous obsession with the teen, resulting in the death of many of her classmates as he tries to track her down. Either way, anyone getting murdered by a deranged killer at prom is probably not going to make the night memorable in the way that you want it to be.
With the Mayor’s quickly approaching Ascension threating to destroy Sunnydale (and the world), everyone’s favorite vampire slayer already had quite a lot on her mind before she started getting ready for prom. However, Buffy’s relationship troubles with her much older vampire boyfriend Angel and the plot of school reject Tucker Wells to send hell hounds to kill his classmates at the big dance thrust even more problems on her, making it hard for her to look forward to her big night. Although Buffy is stressed and worried going into prom, after she takes care of Tucker and Angel shows up to accompany her (as a friend, though, no longer as her boyfriend), her prom experience ends up going from zero to sixty in just a few minutes, with the slayer even being honored for all of her hard work by her classmates awarding her the “Class Protector” award. Class of 1999, lowest mortality rate in Sunnydale history!
Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever took the idea of a horrible prom to the next level; or, to the level of flesh-eating bacteria, to be exact. In the film, a group of high schoolers see their big night ruined when the lake their town’s bottled water company gets their product from is infected. The school gym quickly turns from the site of punch bowls and awkward teen angst into a war zone after all of the students are locked in and gassed to death in order to stop the contamination from spreading outside of the dance. However, these efforts all turn out to be for naught as the disease spreads throughout the town anyway, courtesy of one of the student’s pre-prom flings with a stripper, winding up infecting the entirety of the country and beyond. I think that after getting your make-up done and getting all dressed up for prom, the last thing you want is for your skin to start sloughing off.
In this critically acclaimed Australian horror film, while the actual prom experience is pretty good, the after party gets a bit too gory. After high school student Brent rejects the invitation of his classmate Lola to attend their prom in order to attend with his girlfriend Holly, she and her father kidnap him and force him to attend their version of the party, which involves various forms of torture and even an attempted lobotomy. The pinnacle of the horrifying scene? Brent, thrown into a hole with Lola and her father’s other victims, is forced to kill them and then pile their bones on top of each other in order to crawl his way out before running away. Eventually he hits Lola with a car in order to finally stop the villainous prom princess. No, thank you, I think I’ll just take awkwardly making small talk with my high school classmates over the hors d’oeurvres.
For a show known for its comedy, the prom episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air got pretty dramatic. After Will becomes overwhelmed with sports, school and work, he is offered speed by a friend. Although he doesn’t take it, leaving it in his locker instead, his cousin Carlton ends up accidentally ingesting some, mistaking it for Vitamin E pills that would help him get rid of a pesky pimple plaguing his big night. He ends up dancing the night away, but gets a bit too into it, passing out and forcing his cousin to quickly take him to the hospital to get his stomach pumped. After Carlton is forced to spend the night as a suspected substance abuser, Will tells his uncle what happens and apologizes to the whole family for putting them in danger, crying in the process. Not exactly what he or Carlton thought would happen at the big dance.
The Pretty Little Liars gang didn’t have the best high school experience overall, with their constant blackmail at the hands of the villainous "A" putting a damper on most of their experiences. Although the Liars are told by their parents that they shouldn’t attend the prom in order to keep themselves safe from A’s latest iteration, Charles, they end up attending anyway after seeing Ali tagged in a photo at the dance. Things don’t go well for them at probably the most extravagant prom ever seen on TV, with Ali getting kidnapped by Charles and the Liars being pursued by everyone from undercover cops to men dressed in red capes. Exciting stuff, but not exactly what people who just want a nice, celebratory night with friends are looking for. Still, there are some nice beats for the Liars, with Emily’s crush Sara and Hanna’s boyfriend Caleb both showing up to the dance for their loves, even though they originally said they wouldn’t be able to attend.
Talk about awkward. Even though the whole Napoleon Dynamite film is basically designed to make you feel uncomfortable, the prom scene (or school dance; it’s never specified that it’s prom) takes that to new heights. As Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” plays, Napoleon and Deb dance the dance that all middle and high school students have experienced: arms locked and straight, guy with his hands tentatively on the girl’s hips, girl with her hand resting on his shoulders, at least a foot of space between them, awkwardly swaying back and forth, usually against the beat of the music. As the two quietly discuss Deb’s love life and her fashion choices, it’s clear that neither of them has any idea what they’re doing here, in part due to their age and in part due to their inexperience. I think we can all hope that our prom would be a little bit less awkward than that.
Kat should have held up her no prom rule, because the night ended up being nothing but bad for her. After popular boy Joey pays bad boy Patrick to take the often angry Kat to prom so that Joey can take her younger sister, Bianca, Kat and Patrick actually start to fall for each other at probably the cutest paintball date of all time. However, their romance is short lived, as Kat figures out Joey’s plot at the prom and goes off on him and Patrick. Although the night works out better for her sister, who realizes that Joey is no good for her and moves on to the much nicer Cameron, Kat is left heartbroken and upset. Of course, this is a romantic comedy, so that doesn’t last long, and she ends up reconciling with Patrick by reading him the poem that has since gone down in history as on of film’s most romantic monologues.
Okay, so for Mystic Falls, a prom where no one died or was severely injured can be classified as a win. Still, the vampire-laden town didn’t exactly have a prom for the ages, with Elena turning off her humanity switch and using her newfound lack of emotions to terrorize her friends. Elena, still reeling from her brother’s death, goes to the dance at the insistence of Stefan and Damon, but she’s not exactly in a party mood; instead, she decides that she’s going to take this time to kill her best friend, Bonnie, to prevent her from bringing her brother back from the dead and having him convince her to turn her humanity back on. After some of her carnage almost kills a couple of her classmates, Elena and Bonnie throw down, almost resulting in Elena’s death. Stefan ends up having to knock her out with vervain; not exactly the type of hangover you want to wake up after prom with.
The O.C. prom episode capitalized on all of the high school drama that the series was so well known for, showing basically all of the things that could go wrong at a (normal, non-mystical) high school prom all in one episode. First, you have the rejection of Seth by his crush Summer, who is still mad after thinking that he got together with Anna while visiting Brown. Even though he gave her an adorable pancake promposal, Summer still shot him down in favor of attending with a famous K-pop star; however, her feelings for him were clearly still there, as she ended up drinking so much to try to get over him that she ends up falling off the stage after winning prom queen. On top of that, the prom after party ends in violence when Ryan violently attacks Marissa’s date for stealing $5,000 from Taylor. Public humiliation and a knock-out fight aren’t exactly yearbook worthy.
Josie got to attend two proms in Never Been Kissed, and neither worked out very well for her. In the flashback to her first high school prom, we see that the most popular guy in school asked her to the dance, only to ditch her, leaving her all dressed up on her front porch. To add insult to injury, he and his friends drive by her house and throw things at the waiting Josie, thereby adding the icing to the cake of the horribleness of the entirety of her high school experience. At her second prom after going back to high school undercover as a student to write a story for her newspaper, Josie thinks she’s gotten everything she wanted, with the most popular guy in school escorting her. She is even voted prom queen! However, after seeing the popular kids getting ready to pull a prank on one of the school’s nerds, she snaps and reveals that she isn’t actually in high school, alienating her brother and her crush. Although it all works out for her in the end, maybe Josie should just start avoiding proms from now on.
Degrassi has had a number of proms throughout its long run as the pinnacle of high school TV dramas, and none of them have gone very well. Some of the horrible highlights? Season eleven’s “Dead and Gone” two-parter featured a school shooting at the dance courtesy of Vince, angry at Drew over Bianca, injuring Drew’s brother Adam, although it didn’t kill anyone. In season ten’s “All Falls Down,” Eli is almost stabbed by Fitz trying to fight him over Clare while at the dance, and, in some more typical high school drama, in season seven’s “We Built This City,” Emma finds out that her boyfriend cheated on her with her good friend Liberty, resulting in a huge fight between the two girls (luckily, though, they make up before graduation). With the series still continuing on Netflix, it’ll be interesting to see what prom horrors Degrassi can come up with next.
Jawbreaker’s final prom scene brought the comeuppance that the film’s main villains deserved, but that doesn’t mean that it was a prom we would want to be at. In the film, popular girls Courtney, Julie and Marcie accidentally kill their friend Liz while pulling a prank on her, resulting in Courtney coming up with elaborate stories to cover up the murder while still maintaining her status as the most popular girl in school. In the process, Courtney also takes the awkward Fern under their belt and make-over her into someone worthy of being a member of their group, kicking out Julie and letting Fern’s new alias Vylette take her place. However, this ends up backfiring for Courtney when Julie finds concrete evidence that she committed the murder and uses it to expose her in front of the whole school right after she gets crowned prom queen. Probably not the coronation that she had been dreaming of.
Carrie definitely takes the cake on bad proms. In the two notable movies based on the Stephen King novel (the 1976 version starring Sissy Spacek and the 2013 version starring Chloe Grace Moretz), as well as a couple TV movies and a stage musical, viewers get treated to some of the bloodiest prom massacres of all time. After her classmates rig the prom voting to make her prom queen and then dump pig’s blood on her head in one of the most iconic scenes in cinema, the unpopular but mysteriously powerful Carrie locks all of her classmates in the gym and kills all of them using her telekinetic powers, leaving only a few survivors. She later hunts down two of the escapees, following them away from the building and wrecking their car, before killing her own mother and then dying herself. The best proms don’t usually end with every attendee bloodily massacred.