At this point, teacher-student relationships are a well-worn trope, as evidenced by the buzz surrounding The Boy Next Door. But most times, the creators of these torrid love affairs do their best to evade too much scrutiny by providing deserved consequences for the predator involved—or in the case of The Boy Next Door, make the student a 20-year-old high schooler, so it’s totally okay. We did, however, find 17 instances where pop-culture gave these inappropriate educators a hall pass to engage intimately with students to little or no consequence.


1. You get promoted: Mr. Fitz, Pretty Little Liars

In Pretty Little Liars, corruption of a minor is as normal as breathing—which is why the ultimate love story going from the pilot on is one between 16-year-old high school student and fashion renegade Aria Montgomery (Lucy Hale) and her (at least) 23-year-old (given his master’s in education) English teacher Ezra Fitz (Ian Harding). They initially hook up in a bar bathroom under false pretenses, with Aria claiming to be a college student, but that doesn’t stop the relationship from continuing (even after the show retroactively made it so Ezra was perfectly aware of who and how old Aria was upon their first meeting), even when a classmate of Aria’s finds out about the relationship and tries to use it to his advantage. That classmate only ends up being framed for cheating by the series’ omniscient cyberbully, “A,” making his word no longer worth a damn. Then, when Aria’s parents finally find out about the affair, they do what any questionable parent would do: disagree on whether or not to take legal action and eventually get Ezra a professorship in Louisiana. He doesn’t take it, and instead remains in Rosewood, dating Aria. [LaToya Ferguson]


2. You convince your half sister-in-law to have your triplets: Ms. Knight, Friends

There are two things that Friends knew about Frank (Giovanni Ribisi), Phoebe’s half-brother: He loved melting things, and he loved his former home economics teacher Alice Knight (Debra Jo Rupp). While the May-December couple never explicitly say that they hooked up while Frank was one of Ms. Knight’s best pupils, it’s strongly implied. When Ms. Knight breaks up with Frank in “The One With The Hypnosis Tape,” he tells Phoebe, “She said I was too young, which is confusing because I’m older than when we got together.” But their love conquered any differences in age, eventually leading Phoebe to carry the couple’s triplets: Leslie, Frank Jr. Jr., and Chandler. [Molly Eichel]

3. You flourish in your book club: Mrs. Drummond, The Jane Austen Book Club

Following six characters and book club members who discuss the six novels of Jane Austen, this film finds each woman dealing with experiences that parallel her reading. In Prudie Drummond’s (Emily Blunt) case that includes a torrid flirtation between the French teacher and one of her students à la Persuasion. At 28, Mrs. Drummond spurns her husband Dean (Marc Blucas) in favor of the underage and extremely forward Trey (Kevin Zegers), who she thinks will allow her to explore her emotions more honestly… by making out in the parking lot until Trey has an erection. Mrs. Drummond eventually ends the fling by refusing to ride into the sunset on the back of Trey’s motorcycle and instead returns home to Dean to explain the importance of Jane Austen, which she later relays to her book club as well. [Becca James]


4. You clumsily make out in a club bathroom, and leave it at that: Mr. Elinsky, The 25th Hour

Right in the middle of Montgomery Brogan (Edward Norton) trying to live it up at a nightclub during his last evening as a free man, his good friend Jacob Elinsky (Philip Seymour Hoffman) decides the prudent thing to do would be to act on his attraction to his poetry student. After Mary (Anna Paquin), the 17-year-old who’s been flirting with him all night (possibly all semester), heads into the bathroom, Mr. Elinsky follows her in, where they exchange a drunken, sloppy kiss. Mary seems stunned, afterward, as does Mr. Elinsky, and without another word, they part. It’s uncomfortable, it’s weird, and all parties—including the viewer—would probably just as soon forget it ever happened. [Alex McCown]

5. You cause a massive catfight among the school’s Asian student population: Coach Carr, Mean Girls

Sleeping with one student is a bad idea. Sleeping with two is a nightmare, especially when they’re friends. That’s the lesson learned by Mean Girls’ Coach Carr, who’s apparently been two-timing “Cool Asians” Trang Pak and Sun Jin Dinh in between wrestling practice and awkwardly teaching sex ed. The sleazy behavior comes to a head when the girls realize they’ve been wronged, kicking off an all-girl catfight that gets downright animalistic. [Marah Eakin]


6. You try to break up your teen tryst’s new, age-appropriate relationship: Ms. Young, Life As We Know It

There must be something about English teachers specifically and their sophomore high school students (a writer’s youthful fantasy, perhaps), because we’ve got ourselves another one in the case of 25-year-old Monica Young (Marguerite Moreau) and 16-year-old Ben Connor (Jon Foster). When the two begin their secret relationship, it’s like a dream come true for Ben, who’s so used to being mocked by his friends and girls his age for being an “old soul.” However, it all happens to coincide with him coming into his own and the high school girl of his dreams, Sue Miller (Jessica Lucas), finally seeing him as an attractive member of the opposite sex. After Homecoming turns from a “group thing” to an actual date between Ben and Sue, Ben dumps Monica for her, feeling more from a single dance with his age-appropriate crush than all of the secret broom closet hook-ups with his fantasy woman. Monica doesn’t take it well at all. Even after she’s able to seduce Ben back, Monica spitefully gives one of Sue’s papers a failing grade, and then dates Ben’s older brother Sam (Josh Meyers) to make Ben jealous. Eventually, Monica leaves town after getting an ultimatum from Sue’s dad, a fellow teacher, and manages to have one of the more poignant scenes of the series’ short run as she says goodbye and apologizes to Ben. [LaToya Ferguson]

7. You find your own age-appropriate relationship by cheating on your student: Mr. Chavez, One Tree Hill

Similar to Mr. Fitz and Aria from Pretty Little Liars, Nick Chavez (Rey Valentin), a former model, meets Brooke Davis (Sophia Bush), who lies to Mr. Chavez about being a former cheerleader. The two take a liking to one another on a blind date, in which Brooke lies about her age, and share a passionate kiss at Tree Hill High School, unaware they will both be there the following day as student and English teacher. Once Brooke discovers her mistake, she runs out the classroom, later apologizing to Mr. Chavez for disguising her age. He, however, insist they continue the affair, yet he can’t commit and Brooke soon walks in on him with another woman, slaps him twice, and leaves. Nick skips town afterward with two intact career options. [Becca James]


8-9. You quietly leave town, because you’re no match for your own moral compass: Angie, Skins and Mr. Daniels, Life Unexpected

For some television teachers, having affairs with students means having to skip town. On the first season of Skins, psychology teacher Angie (Siwan Morris) fell into bed with 16-year-old Chris (Game Of Thrones’ Joe Dempsie), and while they had to sneak around a bit, their relationship was less tortured than it was convenient—that is, until Angie got bored and decided she needed to get some literal space. Life Unexpected threw teacher Eric Daniels (Shaun Sipos) with Lux (Britt Robertson), and their relationship went through all the sturm und drang one might expect until it finally blew up in their faces, with Lux’s parents finding out and insisting Mr. Daniels either face the cops or leave. Mr. Daniels, in the grand tradition of television teachers with student relationships, didn’t think it was any of the cops’ business, and chose option B, and everyone seems to think that’s fine. [Caroline Framke]

10-11. You quietly leave town with your student’s virginity in tow: Ms. Jacobs, Dawson’s Creek and Mr. Ivey, Big Love

Making off with a 15-year-old’s virginity was enough to get these TV characters banished from their fictional universes, though they still avoid jail time. Pacey (Joshua Jackson) meets sexy teacher Tamara Jacobs (Leann Hunley) at a video store on the very first episode of Dawson’s Creek. She immediately drops an anvil-like Graduate reference. For some reason, Ms. Jacobs is drawn to Pacey, a self-described “young, virile boy,” and his unfortunate season-one haircut, especially after he taunts her with “the best sex you’ll never have” before their first kiss on the dock. This leads to a series of sneaky sex sessions—one even occurs during a hurricane—until the guilt-ridden Ms. Jacobs eventually slinks away from Capeside onto her next Benjamin Braddock. Big Love’s Greg (Christian Campbell) fares even worse, as he gets physically attacked by Nicki (Chloë Sevigny), the mom of Cara Lynn (Cassi Thomson), when she discovers her daughter’s disturbing dalliance with her teacher. The taboo couple appeals to Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) for help, since as a polygamist she knows unconventional relationships, but Greg and Cara Lynn are too weird even for her. In the end, a mostly empty threat to contact the authorities sees Greg out of town. [Gwen Ihnat]


12. You confess as a preemptive strike against blackmail and escape punishment: Mr. Senate, Boston Public

Boston Public started off with a series of bangs, including the literal bang of a gun fired off by maverick teacher Harry Senate (Nicky Katt) in a classroom to make some kind of maverick point in the first episode. Amazingly, Senate keeps his job after this incident, only to maverick his way into more trouble in the show’s second episode, where in a moment of weakness he shares a brief kiss with troublemaking student Dana Poole (Sarah Thompson). When she attempts to blackmail him over the incident, a guilt-wracked Mr. Senate curtails her by telling his boss about the whole thing. Double-amazingly, he is still not fired, or even suspended; Dana Poole gets sent to counseling while Mr. Senate goes on to have a variety of maverick-teacher adventures (including several relationships with fellow teachers) before leaving the show in its third season. Chalk it up to the skills of one Nicky Katt, whose simmering brew of sarcasm, arrogance, and deep-down sincerity made Mr. Senate the show’s best character and therefore impervious to the normal consequences of student kissing. [Jesse Hassenger]

13. You fail to preemptively confess and are thus blackmailed: Mr. Hess, The O.C.

Fulfilling his obvious role as a mustache-twirling (without the mustache) cartoon villain (without the animation), Harbor School’s new Dean Of Discipline, Jack Hess (Eric Mabius), has it out for The O.C.’s doomed lovers, Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie) and Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton), from moment one. He does everything in his power to keep them both out of school, to the point where it feels personal, especially in the case of Marissa. That’s because it is, and it becomes clear why once Summer (Rachel Bilson) and Seth (Adam Brody) find out that he’s been sleeping with Taylor Townsend (Autumn Reeser), a student who sees Marissa as an academic and extracurricular threat. With the help of ace attorney and world’s greatest dad Sandy Cohen (Peter Gallagher), they’re able to blackmail Dean Hess with bluffs of photographic proof of the affair, having him leave town in order to give Marissa a fighting chance of getting back into school. [LaToya Ferguson]


14. You shoot yourself in the leg: Mr. Anderson, Daydream Nation

At 17, Caroline Wexler (Kat Dennings) is the new girl at school and she’s taken a liking to Barry Anderson (Josh Lucas), her (you guessed it) English teacher. The two quickly begin an affair, but it’s not long before Caroline realizes any grown man willing to date his student is deeply disturbed. She breaks the relationship off, but refuses to turn him in even after he does everything in his power to sabotage her new relationship, which includes an attempted suicide. Mr. Anderson fails both to win back his student and to kill himself, incurring only a minor injury to his leg. Its also worth mentioning that there is a serial killer running rampant throughout the film until Caroline accidentally kills him with her car, because anything goes in Daydream Nation, not just creepy teacher-student relationships. [Becca James]


15. Your television show is canceled and the only resolution available is found in fan fiction: Mr. Stephens, Swingtown

Swingtown was a summer replacement series that called CBS its home for only one season. Detailing the the impact of sexual liberation in the suburbia of the ’70s, it followed three couples as they decided whether open marriages and key parties were for them. But those weren’t the most taboo relationships the program had to offer. Doug Stephens (Michael Rady) and Laurie Miller’s (Shanna Collins) summer tryst attempts to further steam up this sex-driven show, but fails because Mr. Stephens is actually Laurie’s summer-school philosophy teacher. In a world where the adults are as confused about intimacy as their teenage children are, no one seems to have time to put an end to the relationship before the show was canceled. Fans, however, have imagined a life in which the 17-year-old student becomes pregnant with her teacher’s child. [Becca James]

16.You die: Ms. Watson, Bates Motel

Sensing a deep disturbance in one of her pupils, Blaire Watson (Keegan Connor Tracy), does what any high school language arts teacher would do and offers to help. But in a twisted turn of events her assistance somehow includes inviting the underage boy to her house and changing in front of him. As expected, this leads to sex, but what Ms. Watson didn’t see coming was Norman Bates’ (Freddie Highmore) idea of a climax, which involves a knife to the neck and one hell of a bloody mess. [Becca James]


17. You die, but wait, there’s more: Ms. Newman, Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Battles with the undead are virtually an everyday occurrence in Sunnydale, but Buffy and the Scooby gang have to deal with a situation in the present day that first began in 1955, when Grace Newman, a teacher at Sunnydale High School, came to her senses and realized that she needed to end the inappropriate relationship she’d fallen into with her student, James Stanley. Unfortunately, James decided he’d rather kill Ms. Newman than have her break things off, resulting in a situation where both of their souls were left to haunt the school in perpetuity, or at least until they possessed Buffy and Angel—or, more specifically, Angelus—and managed to find peace at last. [Will Harris]