High school is a nightmare no matter how you slice it. However, if you’re as unlucky as the characters in these stories, you might literally find yourself in a high school where you’re being hunted by ghosts, chased by demons, or just fighting for your life against your classmates. Today, in honor of the looming return to school, we’re looking at some of the worst fictional schools in popular culture.
It’s no surprise that a school introduced in the Series of Unfortunate Events book franchise is truly horrible to be enrolled in. Prufrock Preparatory School is the kind of place that punishes children for being late to class by having them eat their lunch like dogs, has an “Orphan Shack” for all of the children with no parents to live in, and even has the grim motto “Memento Mori”.
As much of the series focuses on the worst possible versions of any given experience, Prufrock Prep is made to be the most inane and boring school you could imagine. Students are forced to study extremely bland information and are given no education that could be helpful in a real-world setting.
At first glance, you might think Hogwarts would be a great school to enroll in. After all, Harry Potter and his friends seem to love it!
However, this isn’t actually the case. Hogwarts is an extremely dangerous place for anyone to be, magical or otherwise. If you don’t get slapped by a sentient tree on your way in, you could run afoul of an ill-tempered ghost inside. Or, you could get lost thanks to the ever-rotating staircases and find yourself in a dangerous dungeon inhabited by mythological monsters.
Because, you know, those are totally safe to keep directly below sleeping children.
Of course, this is also all before Voldemort and his evil wizards show up to wage war on the place.
Sunnydale High School
It’s a good thing for the students of Sunnydale High that Buffy Summers has recently transferred in. Buffy has the power of the legendary Slayer, a warrior who must battle evil and keep the world safe from the supernatural. Since Sunnydale High was literally built on top of a portal to hell, it’s easy to say that it’s the poster child for “high school as hell” in media.
Between the various demons, ghosts, werewolves, vampires, and other monsters who routinely try to take over the school and defeat Buffy, it’s a wonder anyone is even still enrolled in Sunnydale. Of course, after the series finale, it’s unlikely anyone would be returning to where the school used to be…
The unfortunately-named “Crunchem Hall” in Matilda is another perfect example of a nightmare boarding school. Anyone who saw the 1996 film or read the 1988 novel Matilda surely remembers Crunchem. While not a high school, Crunchem is among the worst places a child could be enrolled. The principal, Agatha Trunchbull, is extremely abusive to the students, often grabbing the girls by their pigtails to throw them into the air.
The film’s depiction of cruelty directed at children struck a nerve, in spite of its cartoonish tone, and made Matilda a champion for misunderstood gifted kids everywhere.