For most TV shows about being a teenager, a prom-themed episode is a must. Proms are a great chance for writers to address important topics often associated with proms. From what is “supposed” to happen during prom night to dealing with stress, drugs, and even drinking, it is a great time for the main characters to learn an important life lesson. According to History, proms were originally more for college-aged students, but by the 1950s, they made their way to high schools.
Throughout the years, most popular TV shows have included a prom episode. Popular 90s sitcoms like Boy Meets World and Full House used the episode to touch on some expectations young couples have for prom night. Other shows like Glee used the episode to help shed light on LGBTQ+ issues that Kurt had to face when he was, as a prank, crowned Prom Queen. Popular shows such as Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill took a lighter approach to prom and focused on the fun one can have during the night while Dawson’s Creek gave us an “anti-prom”. Regardless of which version of the prom the show focused on, they all showed us how great proms can be. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and revisit prom night for some of our old favorite TV shows.
9 Gilmore Girls — “Rory's Dance”
Gilmore Girls is best known for the unique mother-daughter relationship between the two main actresses. In the prom episode, we see a tiff between mother and daughter when the daughter, Rory, accidentally stays out all night with her boyfriend Dean. It was an accident that was used to show viewers more about parenting a teenager, even one as kind and innocent as Rory. It's no secret that Loralei had Rory when she was 16, which is the same age as Rory during the prom episode. Though nothing happened between Rory and Dean, because she spent the night out with him, it was implied that's what could have happened.
8 That '70s Show — “Prom Night”
Similar to Gilmore Girlsin That '70s ShowEric and Donna are thinking about what is “supposed” to happen during prom night, or more specifically what most couples do after prom. Eric goes so far as to rent a hotel room for the night for the two of them, but true to sitcoms, the night is ruined by howling children next door. Outside of Donna and Eric's prom, the other friends of the group have their own prom issues including Fez, who doesn't have a date, and the triangle of Jackie, Kelso, and easy Pam Macy. The horror film Carrie is also spoofed when Hyde's mom says “They're all going to laugh at you,” which is the same phrase Carrie's mom said to her daughter before the iconic prom.
7 Friends — “The One with the Prom Video”
In Friendstheir version of the prom comes in the form of a flashback via a videotape. The gang has all gathered in at Monica's apartment and relives history thanks to an old VHS of their high school prom. Rachel's date is late and Ross, who is home from college, is pushed by his parents to offer to take Rachel to the prom. Rachel's date ends up showing up, and they all leave as Ross is coming down the stairs dressed in a tux with flowers in hand. Back in real time, Rachel watches the scene for the first time having never known of Ross' grand gesture. Touched by his kindness, Rachel gets up and kisses Ross for the pair's first on-screen kiss.
6 Full House — “Prom Night”
At this point in Full Housethe oldest daughter, DJ, and her boyfriend Steve's relationship is tested as the prom approaches. DJ begins to worry that Steve may have feelings for an old girlfriend. With her being only a sophomore to Steve's senior, her insecurities get the best of her. When dress shopping, she tries the same dress as Steve's old girlfriend, with Steve praising the dress on his ex over how it looked on DJ. Her fears become seemingly more real when the old girlfriend tries to convince Steve to escort her to an after-party at the hotel and leave DJ after the two were named Prom King and Queen. Becky and Jesse step in to help the fighting couple realize their true feelings for one another.
5 Grey’s Anatomy — “Losing My Religion”
This episode is one of the best in Grey's Anatomy history as it brings together a few storylines. After the then-interns cut Denny Duquette's LVAD wire in the previous episode, Chief Webber punishes them by forcing them to plan a prom for his niece after she missed hers due to illness. It was at this prom that a few things happened, including Meredith and Derek coming back together, Denny Duquette dying before getting to see Izzy in her dress, and Callie and George fighting over their feelings.
4 Gossip Girl — “Valley Girls”
Gossip Girl has given viewers many things, including the rollercoaster relationship that was Chuck and Blair. True to their nature, this episode was nothing short of that. Blair's dreams for the prom have always been grand, a fact that Chuck knows full well, but as prom day approaches, more details of Blair's perfect prom seem to go awry. It isn't until the night of prom that we learn Chuck was behind all of these mishaps, but for a good reason. He knew how special prom was to Blair, so he made sure it was the perfect night for her all the way down to rigging Prom Queen in Blair's favor.
3 Dawson’s Creek — “The Anti-Prom”
The “Anti-Prom” episode in season three of Dawson's Creek was an important episode for the cast. Dawson, Joey, and Andie plan their own prom after Jack's male date was scrutinized by the committee. Dawson and Joey end up going to prom together as part of Dawson's plan to win her back and make Pacey jealous. Pacey and Andie go together, but Andie spends more time consoling Pacey about his love life than enjoying the prom. Jen and Henry fight about the upcoming summer and Gail and Mitch celebrate their new romance.
2 One Tree Hill — “It Gets Worse at Night”
One Tree Hill has two prom episodes, one that includes Peyton and Brooke fighting off the deranged stalker Derek and one where the gang ends up in Honey Grove to rescue mouth. While the first included a crazier prom experience for the group, the latter was a happier ending. The main group of friends takes a road trip to rescue Mouth after a weird text is sent to Skills. They end up getting rescued by Chris Keller and find themselves in the small town of Honey Grove. Haley suggests crashing the town's prom as theirs was ruined. The group goes to a thrift store to find appropriate attire and finally enjoys their prom.
1 Glee — “Prom Queen”
In Glee‘s prom episode, New Directions is asked to perform for the school's junior prom. The members of the group are all at odds with one another over relationships, dates, and the battle for Prom King and Queen. Kurt asks Blaine to the prom, with Blaine reluctantly agreeing despite a terrible experience at his old school. As prom night arrives, Kurt is dressed in a handmaid costume, which also makes Blaine uncomfortable and elicits some concern over prospective bullying. Prom King and Queen are announced to be David, a closeted gay who used to bully Kurt, and Kurt. Kurt flees the gym only to come back after being comforted by Blaine to show that the bullies cannot win. David refuses to dance with Kurt despite Kurt knowing the truth about him, but is saved by Blaine who offers Kurt the dance.