updated 04/16/2014 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 04/16/2014 AT 4:00 PM ET
The myth. The legend. The prom.
It’s said to be the best night of a high schooler’s life, so there’s pressure to get the evening just right. Thankfully, movies and TV are here to guide befuddled youngsters through this rite of passage.
Need to learn some showstopping dance steps? She’s All That has the moves. Caught in a confusing prom-time love triangle? Dawson’s Creek will help sort it out – maybe.
Almost any show or film about high school has a monumental prom moment full of drama, grand romantic gestures and taffeta. Before the real thing hits a gymnasium near you, reflect on the bizarre magic of the big dance with these memorable pop culture proms.
WARNING: Prom Plot Spoilers Ahead!
Pretty in Pink
Moment of the Night: Blane learns to believe in himself and gets a steamy smooch from Andie as a reward.
Prom Soundtrack: “If You Leave” by OMD
10 Things I Hate About You
Moment of the Night: As in any good Shakespeare adaptation, all the secrets come crashing down at once.
Prom Soundtrack: “Cruel to Be Kind” by Letters to Cleo
Moment of the Night: Wiping out your entire senior class in a fit of blood-fueled rage is as unforgettable as it gets.
Prom Soundtrack: Violins and teenage screams
Moment of the Night: Instead of watching the throne, Cady shares the Prom Queen glory with her classmates.
Prom Soundtrack: Lindsay Lohan’s monologue backed by the crunch of a breaking tiara
Moment of the Night: The show’s iconic love triangle strikes again when Dawson confesses his feelings to Joey, after seeing her share a romantic dance with Pacey.
Prom Soundtrack: “My Invitation” by Sarah Slean
Moment of the Night: Blair owns prom. Chuck proves he owns a heart.
Prom Soundtrack: Kristen Bell’s omnipresent voice
Never Been Kissed
Moment of the Night: Josie reveals her true identity to save her friend from a cruel and Carrie-esque dog food prank.
Prom Soundtrack: The shrill cry of popular girls
She’s All That
Moment of the Night: Did your prom have a school-wide dance battle of the sexes? With Usher as DJ? Didn’t think so.
Prom Soundtrack: “The Rockafeller Skank” by Fatboy Slim
Moment of the Night: It’s Fat Monica’s debut.
Prom Soundtrack: Ross’s stellar keyboard skills and a laugh track
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Moment of the Night: Buffy wins the newly created Class Protector award and a dance with her vampire beau Angel.
Prom Soundtrack: “Wild Horses” by Blind
Moment of the Night: Reagan High’s killer Prom Queen is foiled by a recordable greeting card.
Prom Soundtrack: “I killed Liz. I killed the teen dream. Deal with it!” Over and over again.
Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion
Moment of the Night: Before Romy and Michelle tear up their reunion, the best friends stop by prom in perfect ’80s Madonna style.
Prom Soundtrack: “Addicted to Love” by Robert Palmer
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Moment of the Night: Carlton accidentally takes speed and Carltons like he’s never Carltoned before.
Prom Soundtrack: Generic ’90s hip-hop sample
Moment of the Night: Seth picks spending the dance with Summer over dinner with George Lucas.
Prom Soundtrack: “Fix You” by Coldplay
Moment of the Night: At Logan’s alterna-prom, the love story between Veronica and the show’s resident bad boy finally gets the “epic” definition it deserves.
Prom Soundtrack: “I Hear the Bells” by Mike Doughty
Honorable Mention: Grease
Moment of the Night: While Danny and Sandy’s televised school dance isn’t a prom, you can’t deny this sock hop has some of the best moves in high school movie history.
Prom Soundtrack: “Born to Hand Jive” by Sha Na Na
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