Movies That Capture The Feeling Of Being An High School Outcast

Over 100 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of Movies That Capture The Feeling Of Being An High School Outcast
Voting Rules
Vote up the movies that perfectly capture being an outsider.

Teen movies are an incredibly popular genre, thanks in part to varied material including comedy, drama, and even action. A lot of these are movies about outcasts, whose struggles are highlighted based on factors that make them undesirable to people around them. 

It's interesting to take a deeper look at outcast characters in movies to understand why they have trouble fitting in. These range from their inability to conform to high school standards to facing bullies who force them to exist as outcasts. It's notable how different genres all present the same subject matter to either humorous or tragic effect. 

Photo: She's All That / Miramax Films

  • What It's About: Charlie is a troubled freshman who has difficulties making friends in high school. His depression prevents him from connecting with people his age and Charlie uncovers the truth behind his depression once he befriends two seniors.

    Why The Character Is an Outcast: Charlie's mental struggles go unrecognized by his peers, who consider him something of a weirdo. His inability to pick up on social cues also ends up embarrassing him, such as when he kisses his friend instead of his girlfriend when asked to kiss the most beautiful girl he knows.

    How It Captures Being an Outcast: The Perks of Being a Wallflower is about the rejection that students similar to Charlie have to go through due to a lack of awareness of depression. Charlie doesn't get the help he needs to confront his issues, which students of his age see as a sign of him being strange rather than troubled. He's cast out of social circles because he's so severely misunderstood.

    53 votes

    Available On:

  • What It's About: Napoleon Dynamite is an awkward 16-year-old who tries to help his equally quirky friend become the class president, all the while dealing with bullies who make fun of him.

    Why The Character Is an Outcast: Napoleon behaves in a strange and dry manner that makes him an easy target, and his association with his immigrant friend Pedro and shy girl Deb makes all of the characters the loser bunch of the school.

    How It Captures Being an Outcast: The film deals with themes of rejection, as Napoleon is an outcast simply because he's different from the average student, while Pedro isn't accepted by his peers due to his status as an immigrant. Napoleon Dynamite does a good job portraying the difficulties of students feeling like they need to belong when they don't conform to high school norms.

    66 votes

    Available On:

  • What It's About: Andie comes from a lower middle-class household and only has fellow outsider Duckie as her friend. She later gains the attention of popular rich boy Blane and has to choose between Duckie and Blane.

    Why The Character Is an Outcast: Andie's poor background is exploited by the bullies in her school, who mock her for it. They routinely bring up their own privileged background to prove they are better than Andie, which leaves her feeling despondent over something she can't control. 

    How It Captures Being an Outcast: Pretty in Pink shows the class system that exists in high schools where students are judged based on their social standing. Andie feels left behind compared to her peers when they exclude her from activities she should be a part of and belittle her at every turn.

    Andie briefly shuns Duckie to avoid feeling like an outcast when around Blane, although she still feels she's living a lie.

    55 votes

    Available On:


  • 4
    59 VOTES

    What It's About: Two high school seniors and best friends, Seth and Evan, try to have a big party before they go off to separate colleges. Since they're considered losers at school, their attempts to do something cool end up causing the party to go haywire. 

    Why The Characters Are Outcasts: Seth and Evan are extremely codependent on each other, to the point where they are scared to be apart and around other people. They're considered outsiders because of their different interests and shy mannerisms.

    Unlike most other characters, the boys are interested in their love interests because of genuine feelings rather than just to hook up with them.

    How It Captures Being an Outcast: Seth and Evan's awkwardness is relatable to those who are too different to be part of any particular group in school. They are judged just for being shy and are scoffed at for wanting real relationships. They also depend on each other to avoid being left alone at school.

    59 votes

    Available On:



  • 5
    39 VOTES
    Lady Bird
    Photo: A24

    What It's About: High school senior Christine MacPherson dubs herself “Lady Bird” and repeatedly rebels against her conservative mother - she hopes to head east to university against her mother's wishes.

    Why The Character Is an Outcast: Lady Bird goes to an all-girls school but wants to mingle with boys. Her rebellious attitude doesn't align with how her household is run and the school she goes to. Lady Bird's eccentric mentality makes her something of a pariah to her peers who are all expected to conform.

    How It Captures Being an Outcast: The protagonist's unrealistic expectations for her future mean she can't connect to most people around her. Lady Bird resorts to things like hooking up with a popular boy and becoming friends with a popular girl at school to fit in.

    Lady Bird doesn't truly feel comfortable in her new environment, which also alienates her from her family. The movie shows how battling expectations comes with a price, and the protagonist receives a stern reality check once she successfully separates from her family.

    39 votes

    Available On:


  • 6
    64 VOTES

    What It's About: Four friends in high school make a pact to lose their virginity by the time the school year ends. Each succumbs to the pressure and their embarrassments make them the laughingstocks of the school. 

    Why The Characters Are Outcasts: The friends are outsiders mainly because just about everyone else in their age group has lost their virginity except them. They are ostracized further when their embarrassing moments are caught - such as when Jim is caught making love to an actual pie, and also during his botched attempt to be intimate with his foreign girlfriend.

    How It Captures Being an Outcast: American Pie is largely a comedy but captures how much pressure youngsters can be in. The main characters are seen as uncool and can only hope to turn this around if they engage in adult-oriented activities. The film shows the confusion teenagers face in such matters and why the ones who don't give in are made fun of.

    64 votes

    Available On: