21.1k voters

The Best High School TV Shows

Updated May 3, 2021 130.3k votes 21.1k voters 829.5k views133 items

List RulesVote up the best shows that frequently feature scenes inside a high school, feature high school students, and showcase themes unique to high school-age adolescents.

The best high school TV shows include fantastic dramas that highlight the ups and downs of teenagers. In some cases, these shows include elements of the supernatural or science fiction. These high school shows are also filled with many social issues that teens face while they're growing up: teen pregnancy, drug use, and, of course, the all-encompassing peer pressure. This list includes some of the greatest high school television shows from several decades, so be sure to vote. If your favorite series about teenagers in high school isn't listed here, please add it.

Any great coming of age high school TV show includes tons of teen angst—just think of shows like Degrassi or Riverdale. That's mainly why so many of the best teen TV shows listed here are dramas, because being a teenager is, well, pretty darn dramatic most of the time. The characters in these great teen drama TV shows experience the highest highs and the lowest lows - a roller coaster of emotions, and we're right there with them for the crazy ride, tissues in hand. And it isn't just American high school dramas that are great, teen shows set in secondary schools in the UK offer just as much of an emotional ride - especially if it's a boarding school.

Is it any wonder that several shows listed here are among the all-time top cult TV shows? Sadly, despite excellent reviews from critics and a loyal cult following, some of these outstanding high school television programs didn't last as long as they should have. Examples of teen TV shows canceled before their time include Freaks and Geeks, My So-Called Life, Veronica Mars, and Friday Night Lights (though thankfully the latter was picked up and had a decent series wrap-up).Enjoy voting for your favorite high school shows, and don't forget: You can add to this list and/or re-rank it accordingly.

  • 1

    Teen Wolf

    Tyler Posey, Dylan O'Brien

    PremieredJune 5, 2011

    Genres (Tv)Comedy drama, Horror

    Teen Wolf (MTV, 2011) is an American teen drama series developed by Jeff Davis, and is loosely based on the 1985 film of the same name. A teenager named Scott (Tyler Posey), is bitten by a werewolf...  more
  • 2

    One Tree Hill

    Sophia Bush, Bethany Joy Lenz

    PremieredSeptember 23, 2003

    Genres (Tv)Drama

    One Tree Hill (The WB, 2003) is an American drama television series created by Mark Schwahn. Half-brothers Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Nathan Scott (James lafferty) trade between kinship and...  more
  • 3

    The O.C.

    Peter Gallagher, Benjamin McKenzie

    PremieredAugust 5, 2003

    Genres (Tv)Drama

    The O.C. (Fox, 2003) is an American teen drama television series created by Josh Schwartz. A troubled youth (Ben McKenzie) becomes embroiled in the lives of a close-knit group of people in the...  more
  • 4

    Gossip Girl

    Blake Lively, Leighton Meester

    PremieredSeptember 19, 2007

    Genres (Tv)Drama

    Gossip Girl (The CW, 2007) is an American teen drama television series created by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, based on the book series by Cecily von Ziegesar. After a mysterious...  more
  • 5

    The Vampire Diaries

    Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder

    PremieredSeptember 10, 2009

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Fantasy

    The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 2009) is an American supernatural teen drama television series developed by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec, based on the book series by L. J. Smith. In the fictional...  more
  • 6

    Boy Meets World

    Ben Savage, William Daniels

    PremieredSeptember 24, 1993

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom

    Boy Meets World (ABC, 1993) is an American television sitcom created by Michael Jacobs and April Kelly. An adolescent (Ben Savage) with two siblings tests his various theories about life as he...  more
  • 7


    K.J. Apa, Lili Reinhart

    PremieredJanuary 26, 2017

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Thriller

    Riverdale (The CW, 2017) is an American teen drama television series developed by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, based on the characters of Archie Comics. The series follows Archie Andrews' (KJ Apa) life in...  more
  • 8

    The Fosters

    Teri Polo, Sherri Saum

    PremieredJune 3, 2013

    Genres (Tv)Drama

    The Fosters (Freeform, 2013) is an American drama television series created by Bradley Bredeweig and Peter Paige. Teenager Callie Jacob (Maia Mitchell) is placed in a foster home with a lesbian...  more
  • 9


    Lea Michele, Chris Colfer

    PremieredMay 19, 2009

    Genres (Tv)Musical comedy

    Glee (Fox, 2009) is an American musical comedy-drama television series created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan. A group of ambitious misfits try to escape the harsh realities of high...  more
  • 10

    Pretty Little Liars

    Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson

    PremieredJune 8, 2010

    Genres (Tv)Drama

    Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family, 2010) is an American teen drama mystery–thriller television series developed by I. Marlene King, loosely based on the novel series by Sara Shepard. When their best...  more
  • 11

    Kim Possible

    Christy Carlson Romano, Will Friedle

    PremieredJune 7, 2002

    Genres (Tv)Action, Adventure, Comedy, Animated, Children

    Kim Possible is an American animated television series created by Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle for Disney Channel. It centers on Kim Possible, a teenage fighter who has the task of dealing with...  more
  • 12

    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

    Will Smith, James Avery

    PremieredSeptember 10, 1990

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom

    The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is an American television sitcom that originally aired on NBC from September 10, 1990, to May 20, 1996. The show stars Will Smith as a fictionalized version of himself, a...  more
  • 13

    Full House

    John Stamos, Bob Saget

    PremieredSeptember 22, 1987

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom

    Full House (ABC, 1987) is an American sitcom created by Jeff Franklin. The show chronicles a widowed father, who enlists his best friend and his brother-in-law to help raise his three daughters....  more
  • 14

    13 Reasons Why

    Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford

    PremieredMay 14, 2015

    Genres (Tv)Community

    13 Reasons Why (Netflix, 2017) is an American teen drama mystery series based on the 2007 novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and adapted by Brian Yorkey. Told through a series of flashbacks, the...  more
  • 15

    Drake & Josh

    Drake Bell, Josh Peck

    PremieredJanuary 11, 2004

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Children

    Drake & Josh (Nickelodeon, 2004) is an American sitcom created by Dan Schneider. Despite having opposite personalities, stepbrothers Drake Parker (Drake Bell) and Josh Nichols (Josh Peck) get into...  more
  • 16

    Gilmore Girls

    Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel

    PremieredOctober 5, 2000

    Genres (Tv)Comedy drama

    Gilmore Girls (The WB, 2000) is an American comedy-drama television series created by Amy Sherman-Palladino. In the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, a thirty-something single mother...  more
  • 17

    H2O: Just Add Water

    Claire Holt, Phoebe Tonkin

    PremieredJuly 7, 2006

    Genres (Tv)Fantasy, Children

    H₂O: Just Add Water, also known as H₂O, is an Australian dramatic fantasy television programme for children and teenagers created by Jonathan M. Shiff. It first screened on Australia's Network Ten...  more
  • 18


    Shenae Grimes-Beech, Mack Wilds

    PremieredSeptember 1, 2008

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Romance

    90210 (The CW, 2008) is an American teen drama television series developed by Rob Thomas, Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, and the fourth series in the Beverly Hills, 90210 franchise created by Darren...  more
  • 19

    Zoey 101

    Jamie Lynn Spears, Craig Robert Young

    PremieredJanuary 9, 2005

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Children

    Zoey 101 (Nickelodeon, 2005) is an American teen drama comedy series created by Dan Schneider. It focuses on the lives of teenager Zoey Brooks and her friends as they attend Pacific Coast Academy, a...  more
  • 20

    The Carrie Diaries

    AnnaSophia Robb, Stefania Owen

    PremieredJanuary 14, 2013

    Genres (Tv)Drama

    The Carrie Diaries (The CW, 2013) is an American teen comedy-drama television series developed by Amy B. Harris, based on the 2010 book by Candace Bushnell. Before she became a columnist, Carrie...  more
  • 21

    Degrassi: The Next Generation

    Raymond Ablack, Charlotte Arnold

    PremieredOctober 14, 2001

    Genres (Tv)Drama

    Degrassi: The Next Generation (CTV, 2001 ) is a Canadian teen drama television series created by Yan Moore and Linda Schuyler, and the fourth series in the Degrassi franchise. The lives of the kids...  more
  • 22


    Ashley Rickards, Beau Mirchoff

    PremieredJuly 19, 2011

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom, Drama, Romance

    Awkward (MTV, 2011) is an American teen comedy series created by Lauren Iungerich. After being mistaken as a suicidal teen, social outcast Jenna Hamilton (Ashley Rickards) starts blogging about her...  more
  • 23

    The Originals

    Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gillies

    PremieredOctober 3, 2013

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Fantasy, Science fiction

    The Originals (The CW, 2013) is an American television series created by Julie Plec, and is a spinoff of The Vampire Diaries. Vampire-werewolf hybrid Klaus Mikaelson (Joseph Morgan) and his family...  more
  • 24

    That '70s Show

    Topher Grace, Mila Kunis

    PremieredAugust 23, 1998

    Genres (Tv)Sitcom

    That '70s Show (Fox, 2006) is an American teen period comedy sitcom created by Bonnie Turner, Terry Turner, and Mark Brazill. The series focused on the lives of a group of teenage friends living in...  more
  • 25

    10 Things I Hate About You

    Lindsey Shaw, Meaghan Martin

    PremieredJuly 7, 2009

    Genres (Tv)Comedy drama

    10 Things I Hate About You is an American television sitcom broadcast on ABC Family beginning in 2009. Developed by Carter Covington, the show is a half-hour, single camera series based on the 1999...  more