CM’s Top 25 Fictional College Students

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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)

During the fourth season of Buffy, Sarah Michelle Geller's titular character took her supernatural talents to UC Sunnydale. Obviously, relocating did not end her career as a vampire slayer (Joss Whedon would never allow one of his characters to be happy, please). But Buffy remained as kick-ass as ever, doing everything in her power to juggle college life with defending the world from evil. You do you Buffy, you do you. 
13.) Schmidt and Jenko (22 Jump Street)

This may be cheating because their movie doesn't come out until next week, but whatever. If these two dysfunctional cops can make their college shenanigans half as funny as their attempt to bust a high school drug ring, then they've succeeded. Based on the original and that red band trailer, I have faith. 21 Jump Street was the first time I saw a Channing Tatum movie and thought to myself, You know, maybe this guy actually has talent. Don't let me down big guy. 
14.) Rory Gilmore (Gilmore Girls)

That GIF alone is enough of a reason to include Ms. Gilmore here. But unlike many fictional depictions of college, Rory's actually showed her getting an education along with all the more TV-friendly drama. She graduated from Yale and was even offered a job in journalism. Nevermind, maybe her college experience wasn't so realistic after all. 
15.) Sabrina Spellman (Sabrina the Teenage Witch)

God this show was stupid in all the right ways. Melissa Joan Hart was ridiculously likeable and the witchy trouble she always found herself in was always entertaining. Plus, her cat wanted to rule the world. During the fifth season, Sabrian moved out of her Aunt Hilda and Zelda's house to attend Adams College. Hormones and powers raged. It was magical. 
16.) Rachel Zane (Suits)
Rachel literally has it all. She's beautiful, strong, funny and is about to attend law school at Columbia University. She already knows more about the law than half the lawyers at Pearson Spector, so it was just a matter of making her officially better than everyone else. Along the way, she and Mike Ross became one of the best would they/won't they relationships on TV. Spoiler alert: they would. 
17.) Mike and Sully (Monsters University)
Before they were the monster world's greatest scaring duo, Mike and Sully attended Monsters University as wide-eyed students who could only dream about breaking those scaring records. The two hated each other at first; Sully was kind of a dick, and Mike needed to accept the fact he just wasn't scary. This is one of Pixar's more underrated efforts, in that it didn't get quite the critical love it deserved. I've seen much worse portrayals of college (I'm looking at you, Drake Bell and College) than this. 
18.) Bartleby Gaines (Accepted)
Despite having one of the dumbest names in cinematic history, Justin Long's shockingly ambitious slacker is kind of the man. He started his own school after being rejected by every university he applied to, and his baby grew into a full-fledged learning institution. I would attend a lecture by Lewis Black at the South Harmon Institute of Technology (S.H.I.T.). If nothing else, all that yelling would keep you awake. 
19.) Rachel Berry (Glee)
Say what you will about Glee in its current state, but of all the problems that show has, Lea Michele's Rachel was never one of them. The show actually had a noticeable upswing in quality when she and Kurt moved to New York in the fourth season to attend the fictional New York Academy of the Dramatic Arts. Besides that incredible voice, nobody wears her heart on her sleeve like Michele. If Glee had been smart, it would've ditched McKinley High and the New Directions to focus on Rachel and her New York adventures. Alas, it didn't, and Season 5 was so bad I had to stop watching. Thank god this show is getting euthanized next season. 
20.) Peter Parker (Spider-Man movies, shows, comics)
Even Marvel understands the value of a quality college education. They created Empire State University, which became a staple of the Spider-Man universe. Weirdly enough, in Spider-Man 2, Peter attended Columbia University instead of ESU. Interesting decision considering Eddie Brock, aka Venom, was a student at ESU too in the comics. Not the best planning on Sam Raimi's part, but then again everything about Spider-Man 3 was a disaser. 
21.) Teddy Sanders and Pete Regazolli (Neighbors)
Neighbors is a much smarter movie than it has any right to be. Underneath the broad comedy and breastfeeding jokes is a fascinating subplot about two college seniors. Zac Efron's Teddy is terrified of graduating and puts all his time and energy into tormenting Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne to avoid thinking about his future. Dave Franco's Pete helps him out while also planning for post-graduation life. These two not only nail the douchey frat bro vibe, but also manage to earn our sympathies. High five bros!
22.) Haley Dunphy (Modern Family)

Modern Family stopped being funny two seasons ago, but one of the bright spots was always Sarah Hyland's ditzy yet lovable Haley. Haley has had a rough collegiate road, first getting kicked out of college for freshman drinking, enrolling in community college and then starting her own fashion photography blog. She has slowly learned to take responsibility for herself and grow up beyond her high school party girl persona. Very, very slowly. 
23.) Catherine Meyer (Veep)

Catherine's lived a hard, lonely life. When your mom becomes Vice President of the United States, it means you'll be dragged to an endless number of events as proof that the Second Family is happy. Then there's the media scrutiny. The Veep's college-girl daughter is dating a boy of Iranian descent! How will that affect her mom's views of Middle East policy? It doesn't help that Selina Meyer is a hard-ass narcissist who treats her daughter like part of her team, not family. Good luck Catherine, you'll need it.
24.) Jesus Shuttlesworth (He Got Game)
This is kind of cheating, but the whole movie is about a father convincing his son to play basketball at "Big State." Besides Jesus Shuttlesworth being one of the best names ever, Spike Lee stumbled on a goldmine when he tapped NBA star Ray Allen for the role. Who knew he could act? No one, because he had never acted before. Learning from Denzel Washington probably made Allen's life a lot easier. By the end of the movie, Jesus was ready to ball at "Big State" without being embarrassed about his school's ridiculous name. 
25.) Bender (Futurama)
In one of Futurama's classic episodes, Fry, Bender and Amy enrolled in Mars University, because they could. The subplot involving Bender turning a nerdy robot fraternity into the toast of the campus was gold. Despite being a direct ripoff of Animal House, adding a sci-fi element to the mix somehow made it feel fresh. ROBOT HOUSE!!!!!

Junior > Journalism > University of Maryland

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