Top 20 Movie Prom Scenes

For this week's Ranked!, we decided to rank our twenty favorite movie prom scenes. Did your favorite make the list?

20. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
19. She's All That
18. American Pie
17. Prom Night
16. Fast Times At Ridgemont High
15. Valley Girl
14. Jawbreaker
13. Saved!
12. Just One Of The Guys
11. Napoleon Dynamite
10. Can't Buy Me Love
9. Grease
8. Not Another Teen Movie
7. Never Been Kissed
6. Romy And Michele's High School Reunion

5. Mean Girls
There are prom scenes that can stand on their own. Hell, there are prom scenes that make the whole movie. And then there are movies that make the prom scene. Mean Girls is one of the latter. If this movie wasn't so wickedly clever at poking holes into every cliche girl clique out there, complete with back stabbing, jungle metaphors, and finally destroying the queen bee herself (wish fulfillment at its finest for every poor chump who's ever been the victim of a nasty rumor, much less a Burn Book), the prom scene at the end simply wouldn't work.

The Spring Fling Prom is the culminating scene in which the main character, Cady, has a revelation about how you treat people and gives a stirring speech about how everyone is wonderful in their own way. This is pretty standard teen movie fare, even possibly a bit ho-hum. But Mean Girls goes to such depths of delicious vindictiveness for the majority of the film, dosed with well-placed pinches of outrageousness ("Made out with a hot dog!"), that it balances the standard sweetness of Cady's speech. Besides that, at this prom you've got a queen bee in traction, the prom queen in a mathlete jacket, some gender-bending in purple tuxes (was that a shout-out to Angus from Tiny Fey?), and a torn-apart tiara. I mean, wouldn't you have kind of killed to see all that at your prom? Those popular kids are going down! --The Weirdgirl

4. 10 Things I Hate About You

10 Things I Love About 10 Things I Hate About You:

  1. It introduced the world to the fabulousness of Heath Ledger. We were watching this film at home on DVD when my then-fiance leaned over to me and said "You can put Heath Ledger on your list (of celebs I can get a pass to sleep with) if you want." True story.
  2. Joseph Gordon-Levitt. That kid from Third Rock From the Sun got kinda super talented and cute right?
  3. It introduced the world to Julia Stiles. I really really love her in this.
  4. It's one of the few tolerable Shakespearean adaptations put to film in a modern day setting. It's essentially a remake of Taming Of The Shrew and it stays fairly true to the vibe of the play.
  5. Larisa Oleynik and Gabrielle Union -- Chastity: I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed? Bianca: I think you can in Europe.
  6. Allison Janney is all kinds of wrong as the romance-novel-writing guidance counselor.
  7. The line "What is it with this chick, she have beer flavored nipples?"
  8. Heath Ledger's song and dance routine to "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You." Adorable.
  9. Larry Miller - father to the girls and funny. "You're 18, you don't know what you want. And you won't know what you want 'til you're 45, and even if you get it, you'll be too old to use it."
  10. The prom scene (kinda the point of this, right?). The awkward cute guy gets the girl (ahem Pretty In Pink) and it turns that that little sis Bianca throws a hell of a right hook and defends her man. It's funny and adorable all at one. Plus, Julia's dress isn't grody to the max (ahem Pretty In Pink). --Archphoenix

3. Footloose
I have to be honest. When it came to dating in high school and college, I was pretty pathetic. I was painfully shy, so it took me a huge amount of courage to ask a girl out, and the fact that a lot of them said no almost before i could get the question out didn't make things any easier. Things at that age are awkward anyway. I did have my own car, so I didn't have to suffer the embarrassment of taking the Family Truckster on a date, but the destination choices were pretty limited. I was born just about a year too late to be grandfathered in on the drinking age thing, so bars and clubs were out. (I am not and never have been a dancer either, so clubs would have been problematic even if I could have gotten in.) Roller skating always seemed a little lame, and dinner at any decent place would have broken the bank when I was making $3.50 an hour. So that usually left the movies.

The problem there, of course, was the anxiety involved. Most movies I went to on a date during that period of my life are a blur. I can't remember them. I spent more time worrying about whether the girl wanted me to put my arm around her or hold her hand or just leave her the hell alone. I was always a wreck.

So, what does this have to do with Footloose? A lot, actually.

I asked one of the prettiest girls at work, Angie, to go to see Footloose with me and she said yes. When we got to the mall and were walking up to the door, she told me (very sweetly) that she was just getting out of a relationship and that she still had feelings for the guy, and that our "date" was actually a "just friends" outing. Had she said this when I first asked her out, I would have felt depressed for a month. But for some reason, having her say that right before we went into the theater simply removed all the pressure. I admired her honesty and was happy that she considered me a good enough friend to want to hang out with me. (She really was very pretty, definitely out of my league.)

So we watched Footloose as friends and we had a blast. Every song from that movie was a hit and was already playing on the radio at that point, and we were tapping our feet to the beat throughout. The story itself was kind of far-fetched, and the high school students at Kevin Bacon's high school were pretty far removed from anything I had ever encountered, but that didn't matter a bit. The music was great, the theme was pretty uplifting, and I was free to enjoy it without having to worry whether I should have my arm around Angie.

The thing that makes this prom scene stand out above so many others seen in films is that it is the perfect coda to the story. When Kevin Bacon says, "Hey, hey! What's this I see? I thought this was a party. LET'S DANCE!" everybody in the theater wanted to kick off their Sunday shoes and cut footloose. On the way out the the car, Angie and I were both pumped up and almost dancing as we went to the car (in spite of the fact that dancing is not my thing, as I've said before). It's the only prom scene in any movie that had that sort of visceral effect on me.

Actually, I wish my own prom had had that effect on me. What an anxiety-filled mess that was... --Dave

2. Pretty In Pink
Here’s the thing about this movie's climactic prom scene. Sure, it checks a lot of boxes: quirky girl from the wrong side of the tracks gets to walk into the dance looking like a bombshell, as everyone truly "sees" her for the first time. Hunky dude spots her, and his jaw drops in a healthy doubletake. On the sidelines, dorky best friend gets his own bonus happy ending when some nameless hot girl wordlessly motions him over to her. And over it all, perfuming the scene, a great song by OMD.

But as movie endings go, this one sort of blows. You know I'm right. It all seems to be clicking along just fine: Andie (Molly Ringwald) goes to the prom by herself in an act of plucky independence, wearing that weird pink potato sack dress that I personally never saw as fashion-forward, but I can make my peace with it. She has a touching reunion with funky best friend Duckie (Jon Cryer, sporting a righteous prom-worthy 1985 bolo tie), and then, after they enter the dance with all the regality of Prom King and Queen... she goes out to the parking lot to make out with Blane?

Seriously? Blane?

Forgetting the fact that his name is uh, Blane, can we talk about his fluffy-haired, wimpiness for a minute? The fact that he totally caved to peer pressure and dumped the girl earlier? All due respect to Andrew McCarthy, but I just never understood the ending of this movie. Andie should’ve made smarter choices.

The idea of the ending is nice. Everyone can relate to the notion of your senior prom containing The Most Important Moment of Your Young Life. It's a sweet, crystalline time, that prom night, and it's pretty cool when Blane sits up straight, sees Andie, and realize he's been a douche. He redeems himself, fine.

But I have to be honest. The whole time? I was rooting for the redhead to end up with the Duckman. --Didactic Pirate

1. Carrie
Prom is a majestic time where love is in the air. A room of perfectly dressed teens dance to perfect music in a perfectly decorated setting. At prom nothing ever goes wrong. Or at least that’s the fantasy. In reality, proms can be horrific displays of teen angst. Don’t believe me? Ask Carrie White, the telepathic introvert who went on a murderous rampage after being doused in pigs blood during her prom.

Brian DePalma, in bringing Stephen King’s classic story to the big screen, knew the horror that is proms and created the most indelible prom scene in cinematic history. While the other prom scenes on this list are lighthearted and often funny, the climactic prom scene in Carrie feels achingly real--simultaneously heartbreaking and horrifying.

So let those other movie proms deal with couples breaking up and reuniting, or lost virginity. Carrie tells it as it really is. And by the time the movie is over, it’s taught us a few stark truths: being a teen is tough, proms can be stressful, never underestimate the meek girls and pigs blood is really hard to get out of chiffon. --Daddy Geek Boy

Bonus! Not Another Teen Movie's "Prom Tonight"


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