16 Life Lessons We Learned From Fictional Movie Teachers


By Claire Downs

October 5th is World Teachers’ Day, and we’re sure you’ve got a great educator who made an impact on your life that you’ve gotta thank! But some teachers weren’t just the ones we had at school. They were totally fictional teachers brought to life in cinema. It doesn’t matter that we didn’t have them for homeroom, or even turn in a single assignment to them! These educators taught us not to let our education get in the way of our learning, and to follow our passions!

  • 1 Professor Snape, Harry Potter
    Warner Bros.
    Snape taught us that sometimes teachers who give us the “tough love” approach end up making the biggest impact on our lives.

  • 2 LouAnne Johnson, Dangerous Minds
    When the former Marine-turned-teacher told her students “There are no victims in this classroom” we all felt like it was our obligation to turn that B-minus into an A-plus.

  • 3 Ms. Honey, Matilda
    TriStar Pictures
    Ms. Honey never gave up on her students, even on the first day when only a couple of them could spell “cat.” By the end of the week, she even had Prudence (and us) spelling “difficulty.” Just goes to show, with a little hard work, you can learn a lot in a small time.

  • 4 Dr. Sean Maguire, Good Will Hunting
    A good teacher listens to you and helps you find your true purpose. Dr. Sean Maguire did all that, and even issued some serious relationship advice. “The only feeling of real loss is when you love someone more than you love yourself.”

  • 5 Mr. Hall and Ms. Geist, Clueless
    Paramount Pictures
    Mr. Hall and Ms. Geist reminded us all that teachers are just like us. They don’t sleep under their desks at night. They’re human beings with regular needs like romance!

  • 6 John Keating, Dead Poets Society
    John Keating is the most quotable movie teacher. It’s hard not to be motivated when your teach says, “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”

  • 7 Ms. Norbury, Mean Girls
    Paramount Pictures
    When Tina Fey’s character demanded that the girls at North Shore High stop calling each other “sluts and whores.” This is an important feminist lesson to cool it on the girl-on-girl hate.

  • 8 Sister Delores, Sister Act
    If we had Whoopi as our teacher, we’d all be able to sing like Lauryn Hill by the time we graduated! After watching this movie, we could belt out more bars of “Joyful, Joyful” than ever before!

  • 9 Sam Coulson, Never Been Kissed
    On Josie’s first day of school, hottie teach, Mr. Coulson, calls Josie out, “Are you sure you’re really seventeen?” This movie taught us that teachers have a sixth sense and always know your business.

  • 10 Melvin B. Tolson, The Great Debaters
    Woke teach alert! When Denzel said, “I am here to help you to find, take back, and keep your righteous mind,” he taught us to go out in the world and get the respect we deserve.

  • 11 Dave Jennings, Animal House
    Pot-smoking Professor Jennings taught us that the lesson shouldn’t be defined by the syllabus when he admitted he found the reading boring. Gotta love it when teach keeps it real.

  • 12 Mr. Holland, Mr. Holland’s Opus
    Mr. Holland made us all want to take up the oboe back in the day. His commitment to preserving arts education is so strong, he ends up changing the lives of his students. As Gertrude Lang says at the end of the film, “There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each of us is a better person because of you.”

  • 13 Dewey Finn, School of Rock
    Even though Dewey Finn is a parent’s nightmare, he’s every kid’s dream teacher. He taught us about giving and receiving constructive criticism. He also reminded us that, “You’re not hardcore unless you live hardcore!”

  • 14 Ms. Vaughn, Billy Madison
    Paramount Pictures
    Veronica Vaughn taught us that all the best teachers have patients. So much patience that she didn’t even flinch when 27-year-old Billy Madison asked her if she wanted “some of this milk.” Thanks for putting up with all of our immature BS, teachers!

  • 15 John Kimble, Kindergarten Cop
    Detective John Kimble taught us that all the best things come to those who are quiet and well behaved. In Kindergarten Cop, the best behaved kid got to hold Arnold’s ferret during the fire alarm.

  • 16 The Economics Teacher, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
    Paramount Pictures
    Sure he’s pretty monotonous, but if Ben Stein taught us anything, it’s that you’ve gotta do you. It doesn’t matter if the kids are blowing bubbles or just plain absent – their education is their responsibility! Bueller?