Lots of people talk about their horrible high school experiences, but let's face it, these "Degrassi" kids, past and present, have certainly had some of the worst times ever. In some circles, it's known as "The Degrassi Curse."
Set for its 13th season winter premiere tonight on MTV in Canada and Teen Nick in the United States, the hallowed halls of Degrassi have never been more chaotic, but that's not to say that the "Degrassi" kids of yore didn't suffer too. In fact, nearly every student has had some horrible fate befall them -- obviously, some are worse than others -- and many alumni barely survived. Literally.
To honour the return of Canada's beloved high-school drama, we here at HuffPost Canada TV have decided to look back (way back) to the '80s characters of "Degrassi Junior High" and "Degrassi High," in combination with the modern "Degrassi" kids, to see if anyone had a bearable existence at the school. The short answer is: no.
"Degrassi" Season 14 premieres on MTV on Tuesday, January 28 at 9 p.m. EST.
NOTE: We couldn't get to every single character, but we certainly have a lot of them! If we've left someone important out, please let us know in the comments below! Also, this slideshow has many spoilers if you haven't caught up with "Degrassi," so peruse at your own risk! A big thank you to the Degrassi Wiki for helping us fill in the blanks.
So happy, so fearless, so optimistic. It only took a few episodes for these bright-eyed teens to understand the rigours of life. Same goes for the generations of kids who followed in their footsteps down the hallowed halls of Degrassi.
Snake ("Degrassi Junior High," "Degrassi High," "Degrassi: TNG," "Degrassi")
All things considered, Snake got off pretty easy. Aside from much personal anguish about his height and his inability to talk to women, his worst experience had to have been finding the body of a guy who committed suicide in the school bathroom. As we all know, he's now Mr. Simpson, principal of Degrassi. As an adult on "The Next Generation," Principal Simpson also battled cancer.
Joey ("Degrassi Junior High," "Degrassi High," "Degrassi: TNG," "Degrassi")
Oh, Joey. So nerdy and irritating. Above all, Joey just wanted to be cool, and he failed almost every single time. From buying condoms for the first time to losing his virginity to walking naked through the cafeteria on a dare, Joey was involved in almost every major plotline. He ended up cheating on long-term love Caitlin, and he accidentally got Tessa (the girl he cheated with) pregnant. In the next generation of "Degrassi," Joey has a daughter and runs his own car dealership. Hey, that's better than what most people thought he'd achieve.
Wheels ("Degrassi Junior High," "Degrassi High")
Probably the most tragic character ever on "Degrassi," everything bad happened to Wheels: his parents gave him up for adoption, his adoptive parents died in a horrible car crash with a drunk driver, he was sexually abused, he did poorly at school, and then he himself was the drunk driver in a car accident that killed a baby and severely injured a dear friend. Last we saw Wheels, he was being taken to prison in the back of a police car. Even sadder is the real-life mirroring of these tragedies: Neil Hope, the actor who played Wheels, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/16/neil-hope-wheels-dead-degrassi_n_1282133.html" target="_blank">died alone and unnoticed in 2007</a>, allegedly a drifter in southern Ontario.
Caitlin ("Degrassi Junior High," "Degrassi High," "Degrassi: TNG," "Degrassi")
Caitlin was the obvious crush for so many guys at Degrassi, and she got into some rough predicaments because of it. When she dated Claude, she got arrested for trespassing at a chemical plant, and then when he bailed on her, she cut him out of her life. Then he committed suicide and blamed her in a suicide note. Caitlin also got burned by "real" first love Joey Jeremiah, who treated her like gold, but then proceeded to cheat on her while Caitlin worked all summer. She and Joey reconnected as adults, but nothing ever lasted between them. She ended up becoming a journalist.
Dwayne ("Degrassi Junior High," "Degrassi High")
In a contentious plotline (especially for the '80s), Dwayne was infected with HIV after having unprotected sex. At the time, it was a popular misconception that only gay men contracted the virus, so Dwayne was subjected to ceaseless teasing and ostracization, which is ironic considering he was the bully on the show. Dwayne takes out his anger on Joey Jeremiah, who doesn't understand what's going on. After Dwayne admits his HIV status, Joey ends up being one of the more supportive people at Degrassi. We don't see much of Dwayne after his admission, but he was definitely a groundbreaking character.
LD ("Degrassi Junior High," "Degrassi High")
Poor LD. High school as a tomboy can't be easy. In a cruel twist of fate, LD's mother died when she was very young, so she was raised by her father and thus adopted a lot of male habits. She developed leukemia and was forced to stay in the hospital. She lost all of her hair, and eventually we didn't see any more of her.
Lucy ("Degrassi Junior High," "Degrassi High")
Lucy <em>almost</em> made it out. Almost. Aside from a lecherous teacher who inappropriately touched her and a boyfriend who mistreated her, Lucy's Degrassi experience was one of success. Lucy's semi-luck came to an end when a drunken Wheels got in a car crash -- she was a passenger in the car -- and she suffered serious eye damage.
Spike ("Degrassi Junior High," "Degrassi High," "Degrassi: TNG")
Spike (a.k.a. Christine) was the best. Her hair is basically impossible to imitate -- not that you'd want to -- but Spike was also one of the first-ever pregnant teenagers on TV. She was a groundbreaker in that she refused to transfer to another school when the teachers found out she was pregnant. She gave birth to her child (who you all know and love -- Emma) and remained at Degrassi. Spike was an outspoken feminist, and was notably against animal experimentation. Think of her as the badass Canadian Jesse Spano ("Saved By The Bell").
Stephanie K. ("Degrassi Junior High," "Degrassi High")
Any Canadian kid who grew up in the '80s and early '90s will know the phrase: "All the way with Stephanie K!" All Stephanie wanted was to have male attention, so she went above and beyond, changing out of her modest clothing into ... erm ... revealing outfits in the girls' bathroom. As a result, everyone at Degrassi thought she was "easy," and that became her rep, hence the catchphrase. Poor Stephanie never really recovered, and we never heard from her much after her brief tenure as school student body president.
The Twins (Erica and Heather) ("Degrassi Junior High," "Degrassi High")
Oh, the twins. So classic. Always interfering in other people's business, the twins' lives weren't easy (of course). Erica famously underwent the first-ever abortion in "Degrassi" history, resulting in an episode that was banned in the U.S. when it first aired. After that, their problems were mostly minor, but they addressed "twin" issues, like "Can I have a boyfriend and still share time with my sister?" Oh, and that episode where one of the twins makes out with Wheels is still an epic one.
Adam ("Degrassi: TNG")
Degrassi's first "out" transgender student, Adam went through a powerful arc, from coming out to finding a girlfriend to dealing with peer abuse. He was also accidentally shot at the prom, and his life was cut short in a car accident, the result of him checking his phone for a text message.
Cam ("Degrassi: TNG")
Poor, sweet little Cam. The hockey player -- who ironically disliked hockey -- was a master on the ice, but not so great off the rink. He also moved to Toronto from Kapuskasing, which caused him considerable homesickness. Weighed down by depression and pressure on the ice, Cam committed suicide in the Degrassi greenhouse.
Craig ("Degrassi: TNG")
Craig was the rock star of "Degrassi." He cheated on Ashley with Manny and ended up getting her pregnant. Then Manny had an abortion, dashing any hopes Craig had of having a family with her. He exited the series when he landed a record deal, but his trip to the big time got him hooked on cocaine. He also suffered from bipolar disorder. The last time we saw Craig, he seemed to be on the straight and narrow.
Ashley ("Degrassi: TNG")
Ashley is one of the few characters who got out relatively unscathed. After popping ecstasy and becoming the black sheep of Degrassi, she experimented by becoming a Goth (c'mon, who <em>didn't</em> try that out in the '90s?). She was also Jimmy's GF for a while, as well as Craig's. Eventually Ashley came into her own and settled for a more "regular" look, as seen in the picture. She ended her time at Degrassi by travelling to Europe for her music career.
Darcy ("Degrassi: TNG")
Darcy started off as the straight-laced Christian girl, who eventually descended into the vice-laden world of popularity when she became a cheerleader. She was slipped a roofie, raped at a party, and contracted chlamydia. Unable to deal with the trauma, Darcy headed down a promiscuous path, even accusing the sweet Principal Simpson of sexual harassment. To solve her problems, she went to Brat Camp, and ended up leaving for Kenya -- her real-life departure from the show.
Ellie ("Degrassi: TNG")
Ellie was also a Goth for a period of time, but then she slowly softened. Ellie had a lot of problems at home, including an absent father and an alcoholic mother. She engaged in self-harm and tried to kill herself by walking into the water when she was drunk.
Emma ("Degrassi: TNG")
Spike's child Emma -- of course -- went on to be a major "Degrassi" character, and a lot of stuff happened to her. She was an outspoken environmentalist (just like Mom!), though she suffered from anorexia. She also flashed her boobs to the entire school (kind of like Joey and his naked walk through the caf). Oh, and she also contracted gonorrhea after performing oral sex on Jay. After dating a string of bad boys, Emma eventually settled down and continued to be the "reliable" one of the bunch.
Hazel ("Degrassi: TNG")
Hazel, born in Somalia, fled from the civil war in the early '90s with her mother to Canada. She deals with a few issues -- one not so serious, the other really serious -- in her time at Degrassi. She was sent to detention for surfing porn at school, but then also dealt with racist students who stereotyped Muslims (her religion). Hazel is generally regarded as a "safe" character, and she escaped Degrassi with very little trauma.
Jimmy ("Degrassi: TNG")
Most notably, James "Jimmy" Brooks character was shot at the end of Season 4. One of Degrassi's most memorable plotlines, Jimmy was bound to a wheelchair until the end of his time on the show. On top of dealing with a disability and reshaping his friendship with Spinner, we also saw Jimmy struggling with his sex life (the erection episode!) and relationships. Now we all know him as Drake, so don't feel <em>too</em> bad for him.
J.T. ("Degrassi: TNG")
J.T. was a sweet class clown, sometimes reminiscent of Joey Jeremiah, his predecessor. He accidentally got his girlfriend (Liberty) at the time pregnant, who then eventually gave up the baby for adoption. Sadly, his life was cut short at 17, when he was stabbed to death outside of Liberty's party.
Liberty ("Degrassi: TNG")
J.T.'s girlfriend for a time, Liberty was the brainy overachiever. After a lifelong crush on J.T., the teen couple accidentally gets pregnant, and they're ultimately forced to give the child up for adoption. J.T. is stabbed to death outside Liberty's party at the age of 17, leaving Liberty heartbroken.
Manny ("Degrassi: TNG")
Viewed as one of the most popular characters in the "Degrassi" universe, Manny certainly didn't get out scot-free. Similar to Emma (who was her best friend), Manny started off innocent and ended up becoming somewhat promiscuous. She got pregnant and had an abortion, experimented with drugs, and was basically a walking disaster while trying to navigate her teen years.
Marco ("Degrassi: TNG")
Marco's main storyline revolved around the fact that he was openly gay. Arguably, he was Degrassi's first real "out" gay character, though it took him a while to come out. He deals with one of his best friends, Spinner, not being able to handle his homosexuality, and has to contend with constant harassment and anti-gay sentiment from his Degrassi schoolmates.
Mia ("Degrassi: TNG")
Mia's big issue was her teen pregnancy and birth of her daughter, Isabella, whom she delivered when she was 13. She struggled to maintain her schoolwork while balancing her social life, and had to deal with ostracization about being a mom. Eventually Mia left Degrassi to pursue a career in modelling (a.k.a hit it big with "The Vampire Diaries").
Paige ("Degrassi: TNG")
Paige is the "mean girl" of "Degrassi" -- or at least she was in the beginning. Sometimes cruel, definitely diva, Paige grew on us as the show went on. At 15, she was raped by a boy from another school, and he was never found guilty. She also had an inappropriate relationship with a T.A. at Degrassi. She went to university post-Degrassi and subsequently suffered such severe panic attacks that she had to drop out. Paige was also involved in the first-ever bisexual storyline: she dated Alex (a female) after dating Spinner for quite a while.
Peter ("Degrassi: TNG")
Peter's demons were many: besides a major drinking and drugs problem (meth), he also almost killed a man while drag-racing with Sean. He was then placed under house arrest. On the minor end of the spectrum, he videotaped Manny stripping at a party, and then he sent it out to the whole school.
Rick ("Degrassi: TNG")
Above all, we can never forgive Rick for his biggest sin: shooting, and then paralyzing, Jimmy. His close second was his outright physical abuse of one-time girlfriend, Terri. When she tried to leave him, he hit her on the head with a cinder block, leaving her in a coma. Rick was accidentally shot and killed in the tussle to get the gun after shooting Jimmy, never to terrorize anyone again.
Sean ("Degrassi: TNG")
Sean was the bad boy of "Degrassi" for a time. That is, until he got together with Emma -- who inspired him to become a better person. He fought a lot with Jimmy, as well as some other boys at Degrassi. As mentioned earlier, he drag-raced with Peter and almost killed a man, resulting in some jail time. In the end, Sean shipped off to Afghanistan with the Canadian military.
Spinner ("Degrassi: TNG," "Degrassi")
At first, Spinner was the school bully, but over time he softened into more of a jock. After Jimmy was shot and paralyzed, Spinner felt guilty, and had a tough time getting over it. He struggled with ADHD, and was stricken with testicular cancer. Eventually he went into remission. He and Emma eventually got married in a super-sweet ceremony. Phew, thankfully happy endings <em>do</em> exist at Degrassi!
Terri ("Degrassi: TNG")
Ugh, just looking at poor Terri makes us want to cry. She had a rough experience at Degrassi, right from the start. Insecure about her weight, she tried to mask it with alcohol, and ended up puking at the school dance. Once she started dating Rick, things went to hell, and he continually abused her from start to finish. Eventually, things escalated, and he hit her in the head with a cinder block. She is left in a coma for a brief period of time, and is eventually sent to private school. (Bet none of this stuff happens <em>there</em>.)
Clare ("Degrassi: TNG," "Degrassi")
What <em>doesn't</em> Clare experience? She's a sister to Darcy (Shenae Grimes), which is drama in and of itself. She started off on "Degrassi" as little nerdy Clare, and slowly grew into a confident woman (she was even VP of the student council). But her personal life was a mess: she was on and off with Eli so many times it was hard to gauge how long they'd been together. While she Eli, she rebelled against her parents, who fought all the time. One of her last battles on "Degrassi" was with cancer, specifically rhabdomyosarcoma. She was in remission the last time we saw her.
Eli ("Degrassi: TNG," "Degrassi")
Meet the resident "hot guy" at Degrassi: Eli. As he went through Degrassi, he left his Goth phase, excelling in theatre and more artsy media. He suffered from bipolar disorder, and even though he was a good writer, he sometimes had difficulty getting it down on paper. Eli was the king of dealing with death: his BFF Adam died in a car crash, his first love Julia died, his hockey buddy Cam killed himself, and his on-off GF Clare struggled with cancer.
Bianca ("Degrassi: TNG," "Degrassi")
Bianca certainly cleaned up her act, but at the start of her Degrassi stint, she dressed provocatively, skipped class frequently and caused a lot of trouble. She even had a probation officer! Women at Degrassi hated Bianca, and her story was hard to believe: she was abused, forced to sell drugs and have sex with Vince in order to keep herself alive after she accidentally murdered Anson when he attempted to rape her and kill her boyfriend. Got all that?
Fiona ("Degrassi: TNG," "Degrassi")
Fiona has so many problems, they're hard to recount. She was a socialite, loved to party, drank to excess, and her mother was put under house arrest for fraud. She was also abused by her boyfriend. One of the worst things Fiona did was kiss her own brother (!!) to make Holly J. jealous.Yikes. At least she eventually went to rehab.