Top 10 Proms Gone Wrong


Prom night – a rite of passage that sometimes goes terribly wrong, especially in the movies.  Sometimes a dance floor isn’t just a dance floor.  It can be a place for first love to blossom or for old friendships to break.

In the top ten movie proms gone wrong, it’s often an arena for revenge, where all your closest friends and your worst enemies have a ringside seat to witness your social death.  Will it be the time of your life or are they all gonna laugh at you?

10.  It’s A Wonderful Life (1943)

ed. note – it was either this video or one that someone took a video of whilst watching it on their ancient television. Sorry.

Revenge is a dish best served cold – and dripping wet – in It’s a Wonderful Life.  If you’re going to tick off any member of The Little Rascals, it shouldn’t be Alfalfa, and it shouldn’t be around a pool.  Luckily for George Bailey (James Stewart), the Bedford Falls High School prom is decades before prom-night vengeance takes a bloody turn.  Everyone even looks like they’re having a blast ruining their formal wear.  Better a chlorine bath than a blood bath!

9.  Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997)

Two Madonnas walk into a prom…no, it’s not the beginning of a joke, it’s Romy (Mira Sorvino) and Michele (Lisa Kudrow) at their Senior prom.  Time didn’t soften any harsh memories of that night for the outsiders, especially when the Prom King was a royal jerk.

Romy missed out on dancing with the king, but at least she looked totally great with blonde hair and black roots.  Plus she lost all the weight from having Mono (aka “the best diet ever”).

8.  The Karate Kid (1984)

Okay, so it’s not really a prom, but the Halloween dance gave Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) the chance to get a little revenge and a lot of butt kicking in The Karate Kid.  Too bad his own butt was the one being kicked.

If you’re going to avoid your worst nemesis and his “skeleton crew,” dressing up as a shower isn’t a bad idea as long as you’re smart about it.  The gang was too stupid to wonder who was behind the polka-dotted curtain, so Daniel probably could have hidden in plain sight and avoided a thorough beating.  But, then again, it was worth it to see Mr. Miyagi show off his mad skills.

7.  Never Been Kissed (1999)

With a nickname like Josie Grossie (Drew Barrymore), your high school life is pretty much destined to be Hell.  Unfortunately, not only doesn’t Josie have the looks, but she doesn’t always have the brains, either.  Intelligence goes out the window when a chance to become popular flies in.

The only thing worse than being alone on prom night is being alone on your porch in a bodacious pink dress with egg, literally, on your face.

6.  Just One of the Guys (1985)

What happens when “one of the guys” is really a girl?  Terry Griffith (Joyce Hyser) may “dress like Elvis Costello and look like The Karate Kid,” but he has two big secrets to reveal at prom, and they come in double-Ds.

Losing your pretend manhood and your real best friend all in one night is hard for any girl to endure, especially when it’s prom night and in front of the whole school.

5.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)


If you listen quietly, you can still hear Molly Ringwald cheering in the distance.  Making out with Andrew McCarthy wasn’t enough to wipe out the memory of the hand-crafted monstrosity she had to don for Pretty in Pink‘s prom, but Kristy Swanson mercifully took the title for worst prom dress in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

It was all fun and games slamming Buffy’s frou-frou swan dress until the vampires showed up.  Nineties’ bloodsuckers played by different rules, which were no rules at all.  No Volturi threatened to keep this bunch from trashing Buffy’s prom.

4.  Back to the Future (1985)

When your mother tries to make out with you in the school parking lot and then nearly gets raped by a volatile bully, the night can only go up from there.  Unless you’re Marty McFly.

But the “Enchantment Under the Sea” dance went wrong for all the right reasons.  Chuck Berry found “that new sound he’s been lookin’ for,” Lorraine got over her icky crush on her own son, George got a boost of confidence, and Marty got to exist in the future.  The key to a successful life?  Get your dad to knock out a bully at prom.

3.  Grosse Point Blank (1997)

Debi Newberry (Minnie Driver) has been waiting ten years for her prom date to show up.  Martin Blank (John Cusack) would kill for a chance to redeem himself.  After all, he does it for a living.

If prom night is about first love, then high school reunions are about second chances.  This time around, Martin and Debi will create the prom night they never had.  It’s too bad Martin can’t leave his work at home.

2.  Prom Night (1980)

By the hundredth chorus of “prom night, everything is all right,” everything is all wrong.

A glittering “Disco Madness” theme, an ultra-hip dance-off with Jamie Lee Curtis at the height of her “Scream Queen” fame, and a stoic Leslie Nielsen trying to get his groove on are all unintentional horrors that make for a bad prom.  Oh, yeah, and there’s that masked murderer lurking about.

1.  Carrie (1976)

“They’re all gonna laugh at you!”  It’s hard to take your mom’s advice when she’s a raving lunatic, but that nut wasn’t totally cracked, yet.  When your nickname is “Creepy Carrie,” girls throw tampons at you, guys ignore you, and even the teachers mock you when you speak up, why wouldn’t the most popular guy in school want to take you to the prom?  Yes, Carrie, they are gonna laugh at you.

Carrie is the obvious choice for number one worst prom, because it was catastrophic for everyone involved.  Despite her rage issues, Carrie (Sissy Spacek) was a sweet girl who didn’t deserve the torment she received at school or at home.  That’s what makes her revenge so terrifying, because it was a knee-jerk reaction, unplanned and unstoppable.  In Stephen King’s novel, Carrie’s blood-lust wasn’t quenched until she destroyed the whole town.

So whether you’re stood up or beat up, take consolation that you’re prom couldn’t be any worse than Carrie’s, and do yourself a favor…don’t vote for yourself for Prom Queen.

By Amanda Flinner

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  1. I know you only used movies.. but prom night at Seattle Grace Hospital was the night Denny died right before Izzy walked into room in prom splendor. It will always be my favorite episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

  2. The dance in Back to the Future takes place in November. I don’t think it’s the prom, as they are usually in April. It’s more likely a homecoming dance.

  3. I’d have thrown in ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’. Aside from the top few on the list, especially Carrie, can you imagine a worse prom than thinking you see a psycho everywhere, SEEING the psycho, watch him murder your friend by stabbing him with an ice hook, have no one believe your story, AND the psycho killed your friend because you hid his body when you ran him over Last Summer and didn’t say anything to anyone.