Whenever college is depicted in pop culture, you have to take most of what is put out there with a grain of salt. You’re generally watching 25-to-30-year-olds never studying or attending class while focusing all their time on sex and social lives. Oh, and their dorms are much, much bigger and less disgusting than they should be in order to capture that authentic college grime.
That said, sometimes a movie or a television show will get it right. Or, at the very least, an endearing character will be created in the process. Enjoy this carefully crafted list of our favorite fictional college students.
1.) Fat Amy (Pitch Perfect)
Pitch Perfect may have been all about blending together as a team, but Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy is in a league all her own. Every Tasmanian-twanged word out of her mouth is hilarious, especially when she threatens to pitch slap someone so hard his man boobs will concave. Wilson is a master of physical comedy, using her entire body to make you laugh. Plus, the girl can sing. For all of the above, we declare Fat Amy (aka Fat Patricia) aca-awesome.
2.) Bluto (Animal House)
Every movie or TV show about college since 1978 has borrowed from Animal House in one way or another. Same goes for every inspiring, historically inaccurate speech when the going gets tough. You can thank the late, great John Belushi and his ultimate 70’s frat bro Bluto for that cliché. Of course, at the time, asking if it was over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor was the highest form of comedy. Delta Chi forever!
3.) Frank “The Tank” Ricard (Old School)
Poor Frank. All he wanted to do was marry Ari’s wife from Entourage and live a quiet suburban life. Then Vince Vaughn and Luke Wilson convinced him to return to his wild college days, and all hell broke loose. This was one of the first times audiences got a taste of what Will Ferrell could do beyond Saturday Night Live, and it was probably the first time they saw, umm, all of him. Let’s move on before that image gets burned into our minds forever.
4.) The Greendale Seven (Community)
How can you choose one member of one of television’s funniest casts? Before the casting shakeups, Greendale’s preeminent study group was the most lovable, quirky and mentally unstable group of people ever assembled. I refuse to choose between Jeff, Britta, Abed, Troy, Annie, Shirley and Pierce (fine, if I have to choose, Annie). These weirdoes all came from different walks of life, but came together and formed strong bonds through games of paintball that went way too far. That’s basically college in a nutshell.
5.) Denise Huxtable (The Cosby Show, A Different World)
Oh Denise. She was always Cliff Huxtable’s most frustrating child. First she dropped out of the fictional Hillman College after two years to “find herself.” Then he went overseas and came back home married with a stepdaughter (to be fair, Raven Symone was the cutest kid ever). The Cosby spinoff A Different World explored Denise’s college years, though actress Lisa Bonet only lasted a season. Classic Denise, difficult to the end.
6.) Elle Woods (Legally Blonde)
Never underestimate Elle Woods. The girl got herself into Harvard Law School, won a coveted internship and wound up becoming the valedictorian of her class, all in an effort to win back a boy’s heart. This is the rare chick flick that guys secretly enjoy (along with Mean Girls and She’s The Man). It even inspired a Broadway play with the most relentlessy peppy soundtrack since Hairspray. And it was alll made possible because of Reese Witherspoon’s unapologetically blonde spitfire.
7.) Shoshanna Shapiro (Girls)
“You guys never listen to me. You treat me like I’m a f*cking cab driver. Seriously, you have entire conversations in front me like I’m invisible. And sometimes I wonder if my social anxiety is holding me back from meeting the people who would actually be right for me instead of a bunch of f*cking whining nothings as friends.” Read that all in an upward inflection, then watch this. That’s Shoshanna Shapiro.
8.) Van Wilder (National Lampoon’s Van Wilder)
Remember when Ryan Reynolds was a thing? Yeah, neither did I, until I remembered that he actually starred in the one of the raunchiest, funniest and most TaraReidiest college comedies of all time. Reynold’s Van Wilder was the perfect college douche: he was king of Coolidge, but behind the bravado was a kid afraid of graduating and entering the real world. Oddly relatable for a movie that also featured multiple jokes about a big-balled dog.
9.) Bobby Boucher (The Waterboy)
Speaking of people who haven’t been relevant for years, there was a time when Adam Sandler movies actually mattered. One of his most enduring characters was the simple yet terrifying Bobby Boucher, who transformed into the most fearsome football player on the planet when properly motivated. As underdogs go, Bobby isn’t quite Rudy, but he’s endearing enough that you actively root for him to succeed. Sandler: if you want to be a thing again, go back to playing characters like that.
10.) Will Smith and Carlton Banks (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
Will and Carlton spent a good portion of the show attending the fictoinal University of Los Angeles (Go Peacocks!). The show remained a family affair more than anything else, but the move to a college campus definitely helped Will and Carlton grow as characters. Carlton in particular was forced out of his preppy high school bubble and forced to see a bit more of the outside world, which provided some great culture shock humor. These two did college right.
11.) Blair Waldorf (Gossip Girl)
Full disclosure: I never watched Gossip Girl, so I apologize in advance if I get anything wrong. But I know omitting the show would be criminal. Plus, that eye-rolling GIF is pretty epic. Anyway, from what I gather, Blair attended New York University for a while before transfering to Columbia. And then something emotional and shocking happened that took her away from college. Does that sound about right?
12.) Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)