101 Cliches for Teen 80’s book Series

Every book genre has it’s set of cliche’s
and series fiction is no exception. Because certain
series went on so long – SVH , BSC they could almost
have their own set! A cliche is almost like a foot
in the path  it pops up and kills the spontaneity , makes
the story predictable – cause you’ve seen it all
before. It becomes a pattern , a template for other
authors to pick up ( even accidently)and weave them
into their story hence making the
cliche even more cliche.

Here’s a movie cliche example – in a
war movie the guy who mentions his sweetheart
back home is the first to get killed – Now heres a series
cliche – every fiercely feminist girl will naturally
be saddled with a macho boyfriend. ( i.e. Katie &
Tony in Fabulous Five ) I’ve picked at random 101 choices
their are probably more and if I’ve missed any please
let me know!

1. When Liz acts like Jessica it’s only cause Jessica’s
acting like her – i.e. Dear Sister , A Night
to Remember , Slam Book Fever , Playing For Keeps ,

2. Every instructor Jessica comes in contact with is young
and hunky.-

3. When the heroine sees the dress / outfit of her dreams
it is a. always in her size b. affordable( or if not somebody;
mom or dad , buys it ‘special’ for her ) c. it’s always the last one
on the rack d. it always looks like it was made specifically
for our heroine or e. All of the above.

4. The heroine always has a best friend that
is quiet and slightly nerdy. She usually has
uninteresting story plots and is merely there
to build up the heroine.

5. If the heroine has a ‘pushy’ liberated friend
she usually strikes out in the love department.

6. Each ‘zone’ has their own cliche -i.e. – California
girls are always laid back , blonde , vegans ,
with earthy names. ( Hope – Sleepover Friends ,
Dawn – BSC , ), New Yorkers are always street wise
and trendy ( and never let you forget it! )

7. Girls in Boarding school can disappear without
any adults noticing.

8. Junk food doesn’t create zits – it’s only a
caution ( as in careful you’ll get zits ) – but zits don’t
actually appear. Jessica and Liz have never had a pimple!

9. Or if zits appear they’re a major huge colossal event. I.e.
Beth in Fabulous Five.

10. Punks always wear dog collars. ( i.e Jessica in SVH –
#33 – her escuse for buying Prince Albert’s collar , Andy
in Junior High )

11. Most series’ usually have two villains – the
obvious bad girl and the friend/sibling who is like the villain 
 – Jessica ( SVH ) , Erin ( Camp Sunnyside Friends ) ,
Cat ( Three of a Kind )

11. Though Liz is always furious with Jessica for
blackmailing others,  she usually has to use blackmail
herself, to stop her.

12. The rich are always self centered , careless
with money , stuck up , beautiful/handsome ,
influential , and capable of getting any hard
to get concert tickets ( without waiting in line),
 the latest album before it hits the
shelf, and any expensive outfit
that catches their eye.

13. On the flip side the average heroine
can always one up the rich girl by somehow
snagging the rich girls coveted dress by layaway.
( i.e Cat – Three of a Kind )

14. Middle class kids seemingly have endless
allowances accept when the plot calls for it.

15. Cafeterias in school ruin food but Camp
food is mysteriously superior. i.e. Camp Sunnyside Friends ,

16. Princess’s or Princes’ traveling to America
always want to be seen as average kids with
average interests – cue the baseball games and hot dogs.

17. Characters – human or animal –
introduced into a series can fade into oblivion
later on -SVH’s Prince Albert ,SVT’s Ginny Lou ,
SVH Susan Stewart , etc.

18. In Teen romances, Good Looking, assertive,
popular boys are rarely picked over average likable boys.

19. Popularity is synonymous with
group conformity ,narrow mindedness ,
cruelty, bullying ,self centeredness,
ambition, money, power and
manipulation. Plus sometimes
stupid rules ( you must wear
your hair in side ponytail ( i.e. Fifth
Grade Stars ) , you must wear purple
( Svt’s ) , no talking to anyone outside
of the group. 

20. All rich girls are gorgeous ,
well groomed , have great wardrobes ,
 great figures, and are extremely sexy –
a great old movie star name like Nadia
or Lila helps too.

21. All pompous rich kids are only surface bluff ,
underneath they’re misunderstood and lonely
due to inattentive parents.

22. Average kids wouldn’t trade lives with
rich kids – specifically because of the parents
( even if that ‘average’ kid has proved themselves
to be greedy , self centered , narrow minded ,
and manipulative which would make an in
attentive parent a bonus in their schemes. )

23. If a teacher is not directly strict
( The Hairnet – SvT’s ) she or he
 is directly strange ( i.e. Mr. Dracovitch – Fabulous
Five ) , or directly nerdy ( ie. Mr. Trout – BSC ) or
directly wonderful ( i.e. Miss Dickenson – Fabulous Five )
– there is never just an average teacher. Same goes
for teacher-like role models – like Canby Hall’s
dorm head Allison , or Camp Sunnyside’s counselor
– Carolyn.

24. In a group of characters there is always a
sporty tomboy , a bossy type , a trendy
fashionista , a shy one , a dreamer , a brain
– all of these can be mixed up or added to
for instance a fashionista can be an artist ,
a sporty type can be a dreamer – or
bossy ,  a shy one can be brainy
well you get the idea.
Every character is sharply defined
by an attitude of what they do (
Very much the mentality of cocktail talk
and what do you do – supossabley
defining who you are )

25. Kids are never discussed doing homework
unless it’s essential to the plot or in an act
of interruption ( as in Liz is interrupted by
Jessica while working on such and such assignment. )

26. Previously thought dumb characters can be
shown to have a secret genius quality
allowing them the option of changing classes.

27. If anyone gets glasses it’s only temporary.

28. If anyone gets braces it’s never a main

29. All heroines are healthy , slim , beautiful ,
or average , with no unsightly marks blemishes
or worries. In fact characters never rag about their
looks. ( even if Jessica harps in book no #1 it’s only to
show how melodramatic Jess is , even Jess doesn’t
believe her own harping – she knows she’s a doll! )

30. Heroines or heros usually only feel
inadequate about a. Money & possessions
( they don’t drive fancy cars and can’t afford
fancy dresses ) and b. status – what does ( a. my group
of friends , b. this boy I’m into ) really think about me.

31. No matter if a girl goes to the wilderness to
toughen up – there will be a point when
she is rescued by a boy.

32. Good looking boys always have a nerdy best
friend. If the girl plays her cards right she is
always nice to him scoring points with the
hunk on how kind she can be.

33. Twins ( with the exception of Elizabeth
and Jessica ) always have lame or unharmonious
names ( Christine and Susan – the Pratt twins
aren’t too bad but Susan seems misplaced
with Christine ) – i.e. Marilyn & Carolyn ( BSC ) Cathy & Casey ( Homeroom )

34. No matter the odds any competition between the
heros and the villains the hero
will always win -i.e. the Babysitters Club vs
the Babysitting Agency.

35. Beauty pageants are never shown in a good light.

36. At some point in the series the author will
have a character move away but don’t worry it’s
basically a boomerang effect they’ll be back -i.e
Stacey , Dawn ( and if it had continued longer
Mallory ) the BSC ,  Lisa – Pen Pals , Molly –
Friends 4-Ever.
Best Friends decided not to beat about
the bush the first book starts off with Sonya returning
to her old gang!

37. Friends who have divorced parents can and
will, if plot permits, suddenly become siblings.
Oddly enough no enemies have ever found
themselves in this pickle though it
would be more interesting.

38. Girls with glasses are always studious
nerds who love to read books.

39. No matter class distinction , age etc.
all heroines always depart for the local hangout and
gorge on a sundae.

40. Parents are always reasonable ,
understanding , cooperative , kind ,
attentive until plots make them
stubborn , deaf , and unreasonable.

41. Not to leave out the heroine – she can
always be counted on to be reasonable until
the plot dictates otherwise. ( i.e. Liz’s stubborn
plan of moving to Switzerland , the friends
of All that Glitters – Shana and Katie taking
turns turning on each other in each book! )

42. Most romantic problems can be solved
in one simple discussion. A revelation that
clears up a misunderstanding – usuall
something the boy was hiding ( some act of
kindness consumming his time) for which
the girl can squirm with embarrassment
for having been so suspicious.

43. High school girls are capable of blackmail ,
lying , cheating ( on boys , tests , competitions ) ,
ostracizing the unappealing , spreading rumors ,
name calling , manipulation , all without
seemingly anyone from the adult world noticing.

44. Parents with high paying , demanding jobs
make time to start every breakfast with
pancakes or eggs.

45. Kids with no ambition in school and
who seem to flounder in bad grades always
make it into the next grade ( and even
ahem go onto college.) Only secondary
characters fail grades ( if Claudia is the
exception to the rule this is null and void
when like the boomerang of a moving away
character is brought back then so is Claudia –
it’s only a plot device )

46. In romances a blonde is usually sporty ,
flighty ( or thought to be ) , fun and quickwitted.
A brunette even keeled , quieter an average
type, a redhead spunky and or gently
romantic somehow special – a real beauty.

47. African Americans seem to be the only
ones to feel that they might be prejudice
against or worry that maybe they don’t
fit into their group ( which is predominately
white ) as well as they assume.

48. City girls no matter where they’re
living now are always beautiful and trendy.

49. The past only lasts ,oh,  perhaps , three
or four books – after that grudges are
healed  , promises are forgotten, storylines
start fresh – if somebody dies that’s old
news , rarely to herd or mentioned again.

50. Teen witches always learn they were
better off not performing a spell.

51. Grandparents usually come into a
kids life and either spoil them
as in Sleepover Friends’ Stephanie’s Nana
or Party Line’s Julie’s Goldie or SVH’s grandparents
( hot air balloon rides! ) or they interfere with the
characters life making them temporarily miserable –
( Melanie – Fabulous Five , Enid – SVH )

52. Irresponsibility is rarely punished directly
but usually indirectly a character
gets her ‘just desserts’ rather than grounded.

53. The mildly bad characters the Jessica’s , Erin’s , Caitlin’s
are never punished, though perhaps momentarily
defeated ( usually a minor reprieve -summed up
in a paragraph –  for the lengthy torture she put
her friend , sibling , rival to ) hardly equals
their nasty deeds.

54. Junior year can last a decade literally –
Senior not so long. ( ie. SVH , vs Seniors )

55. Rest assured if there is a competition if
the heroine doesn’t win she gains something
the author tells us is more ‘fruitful’ – the hunky
boy , her self respect , the joy of knowing
she did her best.

56. Spunky characters usually have names ending
in ie or y – Kristy , Terri , Katie , Angie , Kathy , Melanie.

57. Tomboys always have boys names – i.e. Stevie
( The Saddle Club & Friends Forever) , Terri ( Best Friends ) ,
Toby ( Girls of Canby Hall. )

59. Your best friends fridge always has good
food to snack on.( ie. Sleepover Friends )

60. Nobody ( with the exception of the death of a
character) is hurt for keeps -( i.e. Ken Matthews
temporary blindness , Enid bedridden after the plane
crash. Claudia hospitalized for a broken leg.)

61. A bad character ( as in Jessica or Erin – Camp
Sunnyside Friends ) never learns from her mistakes
their is never any – I didn’t do so well the last time
I tried this.

62. Boys show their tender sides usually
by a. being kind to animals , b. helping
a younger sibling with a project c. having
an interest that is usually assigned to a
girl – cooking , dress designing , doll house
furniture making. ( the last is from Camp
Sunnyside Friends )

63. At some point in a series their will be a girls
against boys competition usually asserting
whatever guys can do so can girls ( usually a baseball
game ) it’s always stopped before a decision can be made.

64. When a gang finds themselves with a surplus of
money they a. throw a party b. Take a trip or c. give it to
some never-before mentioned charity without
prompting of adults ( who are never mentioned
as being active in such activities themselves )

65. If a good/bad girl ( think Jessica ) takes a
job , slacks off and is fired rest assured whatever
funds she needed ( for new dress , etc. ) will
magically come about.

66. It’s 99 % probable that if a celebrity comes to town
the heroine that admires him/her the most will a. be
dragged on stage ( during a rock concert ) , b.
find some momento of hers/his in her
possesion c. will not only meet the star
but have a special moment. or d. will never
set eyes on the star – of course it’s not

67. In order to allow for such liberties
a star mentioned in a teen series is
usually a phony fake/star
– however real stars
are peppered among the duds.

68. An older sister is always yelling at you
to get off the phone ( exception to the rule – Janine! )

69. The tough surly new kid ( at camp or school ) is
usually discovered to be acting up because of her
parents impending divorce.

70. Fat kids in a group never stay fat – Angela ( Best Friends ) ,
Sarah ( Camp Sunnyside Friends ) , fat kids on their own
always stay the fat kid ( to show how mean the mean kids are )
or they become slim and gorgeous in a screw-ya-all
vengeful way.

71. If a school did a musical it was usually Grease ,
if they put on a play it was usually Macbeth.

72. A boy will always come between two friends
till the last chapter of the book. When they
come to their senses and by then the boy is
usually history.

73. Trips are usually about something else – finding lost
luggage , getting crushes on older boys , finding out
old friends aren’t as groovy as you remember.

74. If their is any place left worth going a
Super Edition will magically send your
favorite characters there under the
most preposterous circumstances –
lottery wins , rich step dads , class
trips ( yeah every one can afford
a trip to London )

75. A new kid coming into the heroine & bad
girls turf is always a. beautiful/handsome –
competiton or someone to chase after or
b. a strange sterotype ( i.e. witchlike – Camp
Sunnyside Friends & SVT or a hillbilly SVT
or a hippie – BSC & Sleepover Friends )
which makes the kid instanteous dogmeat
as far as the bullies are concerned.

76. A vegetarian or sugar-hater never keeps
her opions to herself. ( p.s. we rarely if ever
have seen a guy vegetarian )

77.  The girls who are usually most into boys 
are usually the ones without the steady
boyfriend – i.e Tracy – Junior High , Claudia

78. If the Hero or Heroine finds himself or
herself in danger of being arrested for a crime
he/she didn’t commit rest assured they
will never be found guilty – the one
responsible can never cool his heels
long enough for even the trial to begin!

79. Characters in series fiction rarely have odd
nicknames unless they belong to a rock group
or are an eccentric soon to be long gone guest

80. Titles are usually recycled cliched phrases
themselves – Teachers Pet , Head over Heels ,
( Best Friends merrily breaks this with a super
long dilly of a title – Sonia begonia and the eleventh 
birthday blues. Of course one could argue birthday
blues is kinda cliche but we’ll give the author props for
the Sonia Begonia bit. )

81. The only shot a brainy girl has for the local
athlete is to tutor him cause he’s usually dumb as
bricks in some subject.

82. Sorority girls are always seen as vindictive
, petty , exclusive , restrictive, glamorous
and materialistic with a couple of good
girls thrown in to show not all the
apples are rotten, just most.

83. Even if a hero wants to drastically change
their image it will never last long – perhaps
not even into the next book.

84. The mystery boy – this is the boy that
appears aloof and unapproachable until some
heroine cracks his secret – funniest reveal
( Sleepover Friends Kate’s Crush – Keith – he
had braces so he kept his mouth shut –
to which Stephanie slams – Braces how boring! )

85. The gate crasher – the new kid that squeezes
into the tight knit group or attempts to make
friends with just one  of the tightly knit friends
and stirs up a hornets nest – i.e. Ashley the BSC ,
Ginger – Sleepover Friends ,

86. Titles as cliched phrases usually are a pun/hint
for the subject – hence Two’s a Crowd features
rival food caterers who fall in love , Programmed
for Love – yup theirs a computer in the mix and
Thin ice – skaters of course.

87. Younger siblings are always full of spunky
fun , older siblings are either wise , romantic ,
intelligent the achetype role model or punkish
nitwits whose only status in a book is to have
good looking boyfriends or girlfriends
and scream at the heroine
to get off the phone.

88. A parents only role in a series book is to
be around to give out advice – rarely does a
hero or heroine spend any time in either
parents presence unless it benefits them
or the story.

89. Parents always seem oblivious to
the good/bad girls behavior even
when it’s going on under their nose.
(i.e. any of Jessica’s constant manipulations –
especially disturbing in SVT’s when Jess and Liz
are just 12 and most schemes take place during
mealtime in the presence of both parents!)

90. A pushover will always have an assertive
moment when nobody can push her around.

91. The heroine will never cheat on a test but
may come into contact with someone who
does and then usually will be themselves
accused of cheating.

92. The moral of the story can be about as subtle as
a baseball bat to the noggin. ( ie. Camp Sunnyside Friends #6
Katie Steals the Show )

93. Bad girl villains are never
ostracized but somehow always
manage to be within the in
crowds circle – enough anyway
to overhear juicy tidbits.

94. Loser/geeks never have a chance
at the good/bad girl ( not even the
good good girl ) even when they are
assigned on a project together – which
they end up doing all the work on –
to add insult to injury.

95. Rich kids are so rich and their parents
so lenient – they can have a sumptuous
party every weekend.

96. Whatever new thing Liz decides to do she’ll
be great at it – her talents have no

97. A character known only for one trait
can become grating – i.e. Jackie – the walking
disaster. Jenny the brat ( who in book four
was at least more complex wistfully admiring
Mary Anne’s simple outfit. )

98. Kids always band together to stop a
physical bully but nobody tries to stop a
good/bad girl on her emotional warpath.

99. Losers/geeks/unappealing types always
have their dogday to be the hero and for a
moment shine in the eyes of the good/bad girl
but just for a moment.

100. If the heroine gets notes from a
secret admirer they are probably
from her worst enemy trying to
make a fool out of her.

101. Social class split cliches are concrete – the working
class is always efficient thoughtful , kind , the rich
girls are always frivolous and thoughtless – i.e
Merivale Mall – Lori worker bee vs Danielle grasshopper
in search of some killer suede.


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1 Response to 101 Cliches for Teen 80’s book Series

  1. Isabel E. says:

    Another one that I noticed in a lot of books was that the main characters who are 10-13 almost always get to the mall/local hangout/shopping centers by riding their bikes or walking. Rarely do we see their parents drive them… even to school, they usually walk or ride their bikes.
    It’s interesting to read this list because I’ve started writing a YA fiction series… inspired by the series books I would read in my childhood and have re-discovered in the library of the school where I work… so I’ll know which ones to avoid and which ones aren’t very avoidable.

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