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Top 11 Teachers’ Pets

It seems as though every class has one: the student who will top teachers petsdo anything and everything to gain the favor of the teacher, sometimes to his/her own detriment. While over-the-top student antics are rare in reality, Hollywood has no problem highlighting the efforts of chronic overachievers in television shows and films. EducationWorld has taken a look at some of the more memorable classroom sycophants and come up with the 11 best. Here you’ll find not necessarily the most beloved characters, but certainly those who have most resonated with viewers.

11.  Lisa Simpson from “The Simpsons”
Probably the least sycophantic character on this list, Lisa qualifies because of her constant desire to achieve. She doesn’t suck up to Miss Hoover as much as pester her flustered teacher about everything from extra-credit assignments to errors in the curriculum.

Despite being condescending, Hermione earns respect from
teachers and her peers.

10.  Willow Rosenburg from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”
While only in high school for the first three of the show’s seven seasons, Willow makes the cut for her ability to grow beyond her teacher’s pet status. During the show’s peak in the late 1990s, many real-life students were inspired by Willow’s transformation from meek teacher’s favorite to confident vampire killer. Apart from the vampires, this is a positive portrayal for kids.

9.  Alan Pinkard from “Head of the Class”
Every member of the cast could technically qualify as a teacher’s pet, as the show centers around the gifted students at fictional Millard Fillmore High School. The ultra-conservative Pinkard gets the nod, however, because of his ambition to become valedictorian. The devout Ronald Reagan fan was embroiled in a series-long battle with Darleen Merriman for the class’ highest grades.  

8.  Topanga Lawrence form “Boy Meets World”
Again, the bright overachiever is the apple of her teacher’s eye. What Topanga brought to audiences that was different from previous characters, apart from a ridiculous name, was social acceptance. She was pretty and popular, which was something new for this type of character.

7.  Terry Griffith from the movie Just One of the Guys
Intelligence, ability and work ethic will only get you so far in life. For Terry, that earned her the chagrin of her teachers. They were convinced that, because of her beauty, she was in no way worthy of becoming a reporter. So she did what any pretty girl in her situation would do. She cut her hair, changed her name and enrolled in school as a boy to prove her worth. That move alone trumps anyone who thought they’d get ahead by giving the teacher an apple.

6.  Arnold Horshack from “Welcome Back Kotter”
This guy certainly looked the part. Horshack all but set the aesthetic mold for all television and film nerds that came after him. Aside from his distinctive look, he also makes our list for being the only primary Sweathog to be promoted out of the remedial class.

5.  Jessie Spano from “Saved by the Bell”
Another of the atypically attractive teacher’s pets, Jessie spent at least part of every episode working on crafting the perfect report card. She was even the subject of a rare serious episode when she is caught using drugs to stay up late to do school work.

4.  Kent from the movie Real Genius
Arrogant, loathsome and a total suck-up, Kent embodied everything we hate about teacher’s pets. That he was oblivious to Professor Hathaway’s devious motives for perfecting the laser only added to our distain for him. It’s only too bad that the worst thing that happened to him was being trapped in a house full of popcorn.

3.  Martin Prince from “The Simpsons
The second entrant from the iconic animated show, Martin is the more traditional pet. Taking fashion cues from Horshack, Martin’s efforts typically result in condemnation from his peers, such as when he successfully petitioned to have the school day extended by 20 minutes. Despite seemingly constant torment from kids and adults, Martin neither changes nor makes any apologies.

2.  Carol Seaver from “Growing Pains”
Carol was the fictional embodiment of the frustrated teacher’s pet. Her frustration came from her brother Mike’s ability to skate through life, while she worked five times as hard. While she did achieve significantly better grades, she always harbored a bit of jealousy of Mike’s popularity. She’s the only character on this list to have graduated from an Ivy League school.

1.  Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series
Being the child of non-magical parents can be difficult in the wizarding world. That is the main motivation for Hermione to work as hard as she does. Because of this work ethic and her over-eagerness to please her professors, she earns the reputation of a first-rate academic. All of the Hogwarts professors, including many dodgy ones, hold her in high esteem.

Hermione’s condescending attitude towards her peers sometimes costs her socially, however. There are times when even her closest friends tire of her studious antics. That said, she is the one character who has managed to thwart an evil lord, survive a multitude of life-threatening situations and simultaneously ace all of her exams.

Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
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