The 40 Best High School Shows of All Time, from ‘Derry Girls’ to ‘All American’

Sure, it’s been a few (OK, several) years since we graduated high school. Even though our school days are behind us, we’re still suckers for teen nostalgia. Thanks to streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, there are countless must-watch shows about high school that’ll remind you of those formative years. Whether you ran the cheerleading squad or spent your time at the library, everyone can relate to the dramatized stories.

Keep reading for the 40 best high school shows of all time, from On My Block to Elite.

1. Never Have I Ever

  • Cast: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Poorna Jagannathan, Richa Moorjani, Darren Barnet
  • Rating: TV-14

Devi, a 15-year-old Indian American, is struggling to cope with the sudden death of her father. When she returns to high school, she reinvents herself and embarks on a mission to climb the social ladder. In addition to funny storylines and charming characters, the show does a fantastic job of tackling grief, identity and self-acceptance. 

2. Stranger Things 

  • Cast: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown
  • Rating: TV-14

Set in the ’80s, the hit show follows a group of high schoolers in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. When a mysterious disappearance prompts a series of strange, supernatural events, the teens realize that evil threats are lurking in a parallel world called the Upside Down. And eliminating those threats proves to be quite the challenge. Alexa, play “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush.

3. Derry Girls

  • Cast: Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Louisa Harland, Nicola Coughlan
  • Rating: TV-MA

The story takes place in the ’90s and follows the exploits of five teenagers (four girls and one boy), who attend a Catholic school in Northern Ireland. Together, they deal with teen angst, financial challenges and conflicting religious beliefs. But unlike other shows, these subjects are addressed in a lighthearted way. Philip Mutz, VP of News & Entertainment said, “From the get-go, Derry Girls delivers smart, well-crafted comedic characters, clever (and intentionally not-so-clever) one-liners and absurd storylines that are at once relatable.”  

4. Euphoria

  • Cast: Zendaya, Maude Apatow, Angus Cloud
  • Rating: TV-MA

Set in the fictional town of East Highland, California, Euphoria tells the story of Rue, a troubled 17-year-old who’s trying to navigate high school and family issues. The series also follows the lives of the people in her circle, including her transgender best friend, Jules, who struggles with depression, and Kat, who is trying to overcome her insecurities.

5. Yellowjackets

  • Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Juliette Lewis, Tawny Cypress, Christina Ricci
  • Rating: TV-MA

If you’re into creepy psychological horrors, check out Yellowjackets, which follows an all-girl high school soccer team who become stranded in the wilderness after surviving a plane crash. The story is told through two separate timelines—the immediate aftermath of the crash in 1996, and the lives of the survivors 15 years later. Expect to be on the edge of your seat.

6. Sex Education

  • Cast: Asa Butterfield, Gillian Anderson, Ncuti Gatwa, Emma Mackey
  • Rating: TV-MA

Sex Education follows Otis, a high school student who joins forces with his classmate to launch a sex clinic at the fictional Moordale Secondary School. It’s a unique and fun spin on the usual coming-of-age story, and it tackles deeper topics like peer pressure, unrequited love, slut-shaming and self-discovery. 

7. Elite

  • Cast: María Pedraza, Itzan Escamilla, Miguel Bernardeau, Mina El Hammani
  • Rating: TV-MA

Thanks to their scholarships, three working-class students—Nadia, Samuel and Christian—are enrolled at an elite school. It’s hard enough for the trio to fit in, but things get even more complicated when someone is murdered. In her review, Associate Editor Chelsea Candelario said, “The show's blame game gave me major Gossip Girl, How to Get Away with Murder or Pretty Little Liars vibes. Each character was so quick to have an alibi or point fingers about who could be the killer.”

8. All American

  • Cast: Daniel Ezra, Bre-Z, Greta Onieogou, Samantha Logan
  • Rating: TV-14

Star athlete Spencer James’s life is turned upside down when he’s recruited to play for Beverly Hills High. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity presents a whole new set of challenges as he struggles to adjust to life in Beverly Hills, while his family stays in Crenshaw. The drama series does a phenomenal job of tackling timely issues, like substance abuse, police brutality and gang violence.

9. On My Block

  • Cast: Sierra Capri, Jason Genao, Brett Gray, Diego Tinoco
  • Rating: TV-14

The show follows four teens living in Freeridge, a fictional neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles. The tight-knit group support each other as they attend high school and work to get out of their crime-ridden, poverty-stricken neighborhood. The coming-of-age comedy has some seriously funny moments, but it doesn’t shy away from controversial topics.

10. Blood & Water 

  • Cast: Ama Qamata, Khosi Ngema, Gail Mabalane
  • Rating: TV-MA

This intense mystery drama centers around a teenager named Puleng, who transfers to a top-notch high school in hopes of proving her abducted sister is still alive. Karelle McKay, Assistant Editor of News & Entertainment, said in her review, “This show has everything: drama, angst, romance, love triangles and did we mention drama? But most of all, this show will have you glued to your television screen from beginning to end.”

11. Friday Night Lights 

  • Cast: Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Gaius Charles, Zach Gilford
  • Rating: TV-14

Inspired by the 1990 book by H. G. Bissinger, Friday Night Lights revolves around Eric Taylor, the new head coach of a successful high school football team in West Texas. The show tugs at your heartstrings and expertly addresses serious issues, like racism, teen pregnancy and complicated family dynamics.

12. Pretty Little Liars

  • Cast: Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell
  • Rating: TV-14

Four best friends—Spencer, Aria, Emily and Hanna—start to grow apart when their best friend, Ali, mysteriously disappears. When they receive threatening texts from someone who calls themself “A,” they join forces to investigate. Think Gossip Girls, but with a touch of I Know What You Did Last Summer

13. Gossip Girl 

  • Cast: Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Penn Badgley
  • Rating: TV-14

Not to be confused with the Gossip Girl reboot, the series follows the lives of wealthy teens on the Upper East Side of New York. Their scandalous, drama-filled lives are publicized by a mysterious ‘Gossip Girl’ blogger, who exposes their darkest secrets.

14. Veronica Mars 

  • Cast: Kristen Bell, Enrico Colantoni, Jason Dohring
  • Rating: TV-14

Bell is Veronica Mars, a fearless, whip-smart high schooler who dedicates her life to solving mysteries after her best friend is murdered. With the help of her father and former sheriff, Keith, Veronica sets out to crack some of the toughest cases in the town of Neptune. 

15. Riverdale 

  • Cast: KJ Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse
  • Rating: TV-14

Inspired by the Archie comics, Riverdale revolves around high school athlete Archie Andrews and his group of friends. As he tries to balance school with family and romantic relationships, Archie and the gang get involved in a mystery that confirms Riverdale isn’t as innocent as it seems. 

16. Awkward. 

  • Cast: Rickards, Ashley, Mirchoff, Beau, Reed, Jillian Rose
  • Rating: TV-14

Fifteen-year-old Jenna Hamilton instantly finds herself at the top of the social ladder when her peers mistakenly assume that her freak accident was a suicide attempt. But this newfound popularity makes it even more challenging for her to figure out her identity.  

17. The O.C. 

  • Cast: Peter Gallagher, Kelly Rowan, Benjamin McKenzie
  • Rating: TV-14

When Ryan, a troubled teenager, is kicked out of his home, a wealthy couple in Newport Beach take him in. While there, he immediately bonds with their son and sets out to find his place in this picturesque, seemingly perfect community. 

18. Smallville 

  • Cast: Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, Michael Rosenbaum
  • Rating: TV-14

If you’ve ever wondered about Clark Kent’s teenage years before he donned the famous red cape, then you simply must watch Smallville. Throughout the series, teenage Clark juggles the normal challenges of high school all while developing new powers, fighting off evil threats and learning more about his true identity. And all of this takes place in a small Kansas town—where many are affected by the meteor shower.

19. Teen Wolf 

  • Cast: Tyler Posey, Crystal Reed, Dylan O'Brien, Tyler Hoechlin
  • Rating: TV-14

When Scott McCall is bitten by a werewolf in his small California town, his life is changed forever. The teenager is forced to accept his new identity as a young werewolf with supernatural abilities. He falls hard for a girl named Allison, but unfortunately for him, she comes from a family of werewolf hunters. What could possibly go wrong?

20. Degrassi: The Next Generation

  • Cast: Luke Bilyk, Stefan Brogren, Munro Chambers
  • Rating: TV-PG

Nothing beats a high school show that tackles taboo topics head-on, from self-injury and date rape to suicide. Set 14 years after the hit show Degrassi Junior High, this drama series follows the challenging lives of teenagers who attend the fictional Degrassi Community School. It’s safe to say the show is way (way) ahead of its time. 

21. The Vampire Diaries

  • Cast: Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Steven Mcqueen
  • Rating: TV-14

Fans of the show can agree that Elena, Damon and Stefan’s love triangle is one for the ages. The supernatural drama centers on Elena Gilbert, a teenage girl who’s navigating life after losing both of her parents. She meets and falls for a charming guy named Stefan, but she’s unaware that he’s a 162-year-old vampire. Things get even more chaotic when Stefan’s brother, Damon, enters the picture.  

22. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 

  • Cast: Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, Lucy Davis
  • Rating: TV-14

While it's technically a reboot of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, it's nothing like the original show. In this coming-of-age tale, Sabrina Spellman struggles to come to terms with her nature as a half-witch, half-human while battling against the evil forces who threaten her loved ones. Expect plenty of suspense and dark magic. 

23. 13 Reasons Why

  • Cast: Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Christian Navarro
  • Rating: TV-MA

Inspired by Jay Asher's YA book of the same name, this dark and unsettling drama tells the story of Hannah Baker, a teenager from Liberty High who commits suicide. Before she dies, she leaves behind a box of cassette tapes, where she explains why she chose to end her life and exposes all the people she holds responsible. 

24. Glee

  • Cast: Jane Lynch, Dianna Agron, Jessalyn Gilsig, Chris Colfer
  • Rating: TV-PG

High school drama, relatable characters and seriously catchy musical numbers are just a few things that make this show so great. It follows Will Schuester, a Spanish teacher who’s on a mission to reinvent McKinley High’s Glee club. This is a challenge…until he recruits the school’s star quarterback. Can they make it to nationals?

25. Beverly Hills, 90210 

  • Cast: Ian Ziering, Jennie Garth, Brian Austin Green, Tori Spelling
  • Rating: TV-PG

After moving from Minnesota to Beverly Hills, teen siblings Brandon and Brenda enroll at West Beverly Hills High School, where they become fast friends with several classmates. Together, they endure the ups and downs of high school and help each other navigate big life transitions, from entering college to experiencing the adult world.

26. Dawson’s Creek

  • Cast: James Van Der Beek, Michelle Williams, Joshua Jackson
  • Rating: TV-14

Dawson Leery is a teenager and aspiring filmmaker who lives in a small town in Capeside, Massachusetts. In addition to high school drama, he becomes involved in a love triangle with his childhood bestie, Joey, and his underachieving best friend, Pacey. The classic series addresses issues like divorce, homophobia and class differences.   

27. Freaks and Geeks

  • Cast: Linda Cardellini, John Daley, James Franco
  • Rating: TV-14

The series follows Lindsay Weir, a McKinley High student who befriends a group of fellow teens known as "freaks." Meanwhile, her little brother, Sam, is one of the school’s "geeks." With its honest portrayal of adolescence and high school drama, we’re still not over the fact that this show was canceled after one season.  

28. Daria

  • Cast: Tracy Grandstaff, Wendy Hoopes, Julián Rebolledo
  • Rating: TV-PG

Set in the fictional town of Lawndale, the show focuses on our favorite cynical teen, Daria Morgendorffer, as she balances her personal life with school. The sitcom offers a satirical take on high school life, complete with spot-on social commentary.

29. One Tree Hill

  • Cast: Chad Michael Murray, James Lafferty, Hilarie Burton, Sophia Bush
  • Rating: TV-14

One Tree Hill follows the evolving relationship between two estranged half-brothers who couldn’t be more different. As they navigate their high school years, they deal with relationship drama, sibling rivalry and betrayal. (Does anyone else have a major crush on Lucas Scott, or is it just us?)  

30. Saved by the Bell 

  • Cast: Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani Thiessen, Mario Lopez
  • Rating: TV-PG

It’s safe to say that Saved by the Bell is one of the O.G. teen shows. The ’90s classic follows the misadventures of a group of friends who attend Bayside High School. Although it maintains a feel-good tone, the show also touches on key issues like homelessness, drug addiction and bullying. 

31. High School Musical: The Musical: The Series

  • Cast: Olivia Rodrigo, Joshua Bassett, Matt Cornett, Sofia Wylie
  • Rating: TV-PG

If you enjoyed the High School Musical movies, then you need to watch this spin-off. The documentary-style series follows the drama club at East High (the same school where the original movies were filmed). Together, they prepare to perform their school's first-ever production of High School Musical.

32. My So-Called Life

  • Cast: Bess Armstrong, Wilson Cruz, Claire Danes
  • Rating: TV-14

Going through adolescence is no walk in the park, and Angela Chase knows this all too well. My So-Called Life follows her complicated journey as a high school student dealing with more than enough drama. Her main goal is to find herself and to figure out where she belongs.

33. Kyle XY

  • Cast: Matt Dallas, Marguerite MacIntyre, Bruce Thomas
  • Rating: TV-14

It’s one thing for a family to adopt an orphan, but it’s another when said orphan has no past, no family and no belly button. When the Trager family takes in Kyle, they make some shocking discoveries about his origin and discover that he has special abilities. 

34. The Wilds

  • Cast: Charles Alexander, Sophia Ali, Shannon Berry
  • Rating: 18+

The Wilds follows a group of teenage girls who are led to believe that they're going on a special retreat. But in reality, they’re unknowingly participating in an elaborate experiment. It’s essentially a cross between Yellowjackets and Lord of the Flies, and it’s filled with compelling characters, bizarre twists and plenty of thought-provoking themes, from grief to mental health.

35. Drake & Josh

  • Cast: Drake Bell, Josh Peck, Miranda Cosgrove
  • Rating: TV-G

Few things are as entertaining as watching step brothers get into hilariously messy situations. The sitcom follows Drake and Josh as they navigate high school (and deal with their little sister’s merciless pranks) while living in San Diego, California.

36. That’s So Raven

  • Cast: Raven-Symoné, Orlando Brown, Anneliese van der Pol, Kyle Massey
  • Rating: TV-G

Meet Raven Baxter. She’s a teen fashionista who can predict the future, but whenever she tries to follow her visions, she and her BFFs, Chelsea and Eddie, wind up in the most chaotic situations. Expect plenty of laughs (and possibly some fashion inspo) from this Disney Channel classic.

37. Julie and the Phantoms 

  • Cast: Madison Reyes, Charlie Gillespie, Owen Patrick Joyner
  • Rating: TV-G

Following the death of her mom, Julie, a high school musician, inadvertently summons the spirits of a '90s band after playing a CD. As a result, Julie rediscovers her passion for music and joins forces with the group as their lead singer. Produced by Kenny Ortega, this family-friendly show features several funny moments and catchy pop tunes.

38. My Mad Fat Diary

  • Cast: Sharon Rooney, Jodie Comer, Jordan Murphy
  • Rating: TV-MA

The British series follows the life of Rae, a troubled and overweight teen who spends four months in a psychiatric hospital after attempting suicide in ’90s Lincolnshire. Following her release, Rae reconnects with her friends and tries to resume her life, even though none of her friends are aware of her mental health issues.

39. I Am Not Okay with This

  • Cast: Sophia Lillis, Wyatt Oleff, Sofia Bryant
  • Rating: TV-MA

Lillis is Sydney Novak, a 17-year-old girl whose high school experience becomes more interesting when she learns that she has telekinetic powers. While figuring out her mysterious new abilities, Sydney must also deal with family issues, her budding sexuality and an unrequited crush.

40. Betty

  • Cast: Dede Lovelace, Moonbear, Nina Moran, Ajani Russell
  • Rating: TV-MA

It’s always rewarding to see a group of fierce young girls break into a male-dominated sport. This underrated gem revolves around a group of female skaters as they navigate the world of skateboarding, deal with adolescence and maintain their friendships.

nakeisha campbell bio

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...