14 Teen Movies Where The Stakes Get WAY Too Serious

Over 100 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of 14 Teen Movies Where The Stakes Get WAY Too Serious
Voting Rules
Vote up the teen movies that got into surprisingly serious situations.

Teenagers may think they're adults, but the truth is, no one of any age should be forced to endure the extremely high stakes of some so-called teen movies. The biggest problem a person should worry about from 13-19 is who they want to take to their senior prom.

But, on the flip side, maybe these high-stakes teen movies serve to help re-center real-life teenagers and make them think, "Wow, at least my life isn't that bad." Like, for instance, how the pain of a breakup can seem like the biggest deal in one's life... until they're sent on a ridiculously harrowing adventure across Chicago while babysitting three kids.

Vote up the best teen movies where the stakes got alarmingly high.

  • Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead may not have monsters or zombies, but the premise is still fairly far-fetched. A mother leaves her five children, including 17-year-old Sue Ellen ("Swell" for short), alone for an entire summer in the care of an elderly woman named Mrs. Sturak. However, after the (rather hateful) old woman passes peacefully in her sleep, the kids drop her off at a funeral home and live out the summer of freedom they so desperately wanted. 

    Except... they have no money. Thus, their lives quickly become very adult, with Swell drawing the short straw - meaning she has to get a job to support everyone. Swell ends up forging her resume and landing a job at a major fashion company - forging it all too well, as it turns out, as a possible receptionist job turns into an executive assistant position, in which she is woefully out of her depth. Suddenly, rather than just making money to support her siblings, she has the financial weight of an entire company on her shoulders, with her designs being the key to keeping the entire business afloat.

    131 votes

    Available On:


  • Chris Parker is a newly single 17-year-old forced by her mother to babysit three children for a night. A breakup is hard enough for most teens to handle, but that's just the start of Chris's problems. Before long, a distressing phone call from her friend sends Chris and the three kids in her care deep into the heart of Chicago on a perilous adventure. 

    Along the way, the group's car breaks down, their tow truck driver takes them on a detour to attempt to kill his cheating wife's lover, and they become stowaways in a stolen vehicle that takes them to a chop shop. Eventually, they make their way into a gang fight, where one of the kids is inadvertently stabbed in the foot.

    Sure, everyone makes it home safely in the end - but it's a long road to get there, considering their biggest problem should have been picking out what movie to watch that night.

    110 votes

    Available On:


  • 3
    117 VOTES

    Heathers begins as a tale as old as time. A high schooler named Veronica (Winona Ryder) becomes irritated with the mean yet incredibly popular clique she is a part of, and she decides to take the other girls down a few steps. In doing so, she enlists the aid of a boy named J.D. (Christian Slater), and they sneak into a girl's house to (presumably) prank her. However, instead of a harmless prank, J.D. puts drain cleaner into the girl's mug and kills her. The pair then forge a suicide note in her handwriting and flee the scene of the crime. 

    Later, after Veronica attends a double date that turns into a sexual assault on the girl she's with, Veronica and J.D. take the boys from the double date out into the woods and shoot them. Things escalate to the point that Veronica has to stop him from blowing up their entire school and killing everyone in it. After having his plan foiled, J.D. simply decides to blow himself up in front of the school

    To put it plainly, Heathers is much, much more intense than Mean Girls.

    117 votes

    Available On:



  • Many children lead safe and secure lives, thanks in no small part to the ever-present doting provided by their parents. However, when those parents are removed from the equation, out goes the safety net and forced moral compass. Thus, when high school senior Joel Goodson's parents leave him alone to go on a trip, he doesn't quite know how to handle himself. 

    Joel's problems begin when one of his friends calls him a sex worker. Joel spends the night with the woman, named Lana, but when he goes to get money from the bank, Lana robs his house and takes his mother's expensive glass egg. Eventually, Joel allows Lana to stay with him after he goes to confront her and meets her abusive pimp. It seems like Joel's problems couldn't get worse, but then Lana accidentally wrecks his father's car, so the duo decides to turn Joel's house into a brothel to earn money to pay for the damages. 

    Eventually, after yet another run-in with the pimp (not to mention a run-in with a recruiter from Princeton), Joel's problems come to an end, and he gets everything ready for his parents' return. Luckily, he is accepted to Princeton (which was his initial concern), but it's hard to imagine that's quite as big a deal to him at that point, given everything he's been through.

    79 votes

    Available On:


  • 5
    51 VOTES

    Project X is much higher stakes than the typical teen party movie. The film starts ordinarily enough, with the basic setup of the main character's parents going out of town. From there, it gets out of hand. One of the boys is worried that people won't show at the party, so he advertises it on Craigslist and local radio. The ads work way too well, and before long, the party is wildly out of control - to the point that the police are called, though the party-goers keep them at bay.

    Eventually, everyone gets high on ecstasy, and the owner of the X (which the boys accidentally stole) shows up with a flamethrower and lights the neighborhood on fire. This ends the party and prompts the SWAT team to show up. Spoiler, but this isn't the type of movie where the party is cleaned up by the time our hero's parents return. In fact, he winds up facing criminal charges.

    51 votes

    Available On:

  • The Girl Next Door begins innocently enough. A high school senior named Matthew develops a crush on a girl named Danielle who's house-sitting for his neighbor. The two begin to hang out and flirt, and before long, they're an item. Then, one of Matthew's friends informs him that Danielle is an adult film star. 

    Matthew starts to treat Danielle differently, and naturally, this upsets her. She leaves and goes back to her career, but Matthew follows her to Vegas. Matthew wins Danielle back, but this causes one of her producers to track down Matthew, abduct him from his home, assault him, and then frame him for a robbery.

    68 votes

    Available On: