The 25 meanest high school girls in the movies

Feature Louisa Mellor Caroline Preece
28 Aug 2012 - 07:34

High school, as Buffy The Vampire Slayer literally reminds us, can be hell. Here then, are the top 25 movie mean girls who make it so...

Some are smart and conniving, some as dumb as a bag of hammers, some are literally evil, some just high school evil, but they all share three things: they're girls, they're mean, and they go to high school. Join us as we count down the top 25 meanest high school girls in the movies...

25. Betty Rizzo - Grease 

Ah Grease, with your insidious message that taking up smoking and dressing like a massive-haired figure skater was the way to your true love's heart, you truly are a classic amongst teen movies.

Even after seven seasons playing the First Lady in The West Wing, Stockard Channing is still best known as spunky Rizzo, the girl with an acid tongue and a quick, if not always intelligible, comeback for everything ("Peachy keen jellybean" being a personal favourite). 

Rizzo hardly made newcomer Sandy feel welcome at Rydell High, mocking her ingénue attitudes and virginity with typical mean girl aplomb. We find out in song form however that the pink lady behind the dark glasses isn’t really bad at heart, hence Rizzo coming in at a not-very-mean number 25 on this list.

Sample line: I've got so many hickies people will think I’m a leper 

Meanest moment: Parading acne-pitted Scorpion leader Leo around at the school dance under poor stupid Kenickie’s nose. Though, on balance, we suppose there are worse things she could do.

24. Sharpay Evans - High School Musical 

The High School Musical franchise is camp and colourful, but that doesn't mean it's void of any conflict. That conflict comes in the form of pink-loving Sharpay Evans, a mean girl who's as nasty as you can be on the kid-friendly Disney Channel. Its origins as a TV movie also mean that the blonde starlet also has to learn her lesson at the end of each story (as well as join Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens in the final number), but she's a classic queen bee all the same.

Sample line: We need to save our show from people who don't know the difference between a Tony Award and Tony Hawk. 

Meanest moment: Attempting to sabotage Troy and Gabriella's friendship for her own selfish ends. Oh Sharpay, didn't you pay any attention to the lyrics of All in this Together? Tsk Tsk.

23. Jody Long - Tamara Drewe 

Jody and friend Casey are hands-down the best thing about Stephen Frears’ 2010 adaptation comedy of countryside manners Tamara Drewe. The pair spend their days spitting bile in bus shelters, reading trashy mags, and looking down on man, woman and beast with the kind of disdain only high school girls can muster.

Jody (Jessica Barden) is clearly the alpha in the friendship, and it’s her meddling (and Fatal Attraction-style obsession with rock drummer Ben Sergeant) that drives the film’s gentle rom-com plot forward. From her west country twang to her way with words, we’re not afraid to say that Jody Long is one mean girl we love.

Sample line: “I want to be her, in that dress, with him licking my teapot lids” 

Meanest moment: Some light breaking and entering, then sending a - how should we put this - frank email invitation to Tamara's lusty married admirer and ex-boyfriends which gets the writer some unwanted attention.

22. Jordana Bevan - Submarine 

A sometime bully who doesn’t mince her words, dresses like the knife-wielding little person in Don’t Look Now, and enjoys singeing other people’s leg hair with a lighter, Submarine’s Jordana Bevan is well deserving of a place on this list.

Of course, even eczematous pyromaniac Jordana is no match for the ego of her boyfriend narrator Oliver Tate, whose self-involvement is practically a pathology. Underneath the red duffle coat, Jordana’s just an ordinary girl with family problems whose boyfriend’s a bit of a wanker.

Sample line: (on seeing Oliver’s sedutive lovemaking pose) “Fucking hell, you’re a serial killer”

Meanest moment: She’s pretty badass as a Swansea femme fatale blackmailing Oliver under the bridge, but joyfully bullying Zoe Preece until she leaves school has to top her list.

21. Christy Masters - Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion 

Who hasn't always wanted to go back to high school and show the popular girls exactly what you made of your life? That's the question addressed in Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion, as two dippy blondes attend their high school reunions in full business costume, outlandishly claiming to have invented the post-it note. It's an hilariously bizarre feel-good movie, with a brilliantly devious mean girl at its centre. Now pregnant and married to her 'sweetheart,' Christy is the poster girl for peaking at 16 and becoming stuck in the past.

Sample line: Sandy, hi! You look so rich! I mean, great!

Meanest moment:  Driving off with jock boyfriend Billy Christiansen while Romy is left waiting for him at the school dance.

20. Gibby, Kirsten & Kristen - Never Been Kissed 

In seminal 90s rom-com, Never Been Kissed, Josie 'Grossie' Geller (Drew Barrymore) gets to experience high school all over again. The only trouble is that, the first time around, she was ridiculed and outcast, leaving scars well into her adult life. Of course, when she returns on a undercover job, nothing has changed, and she quickly encounters the school's modern-day queen bees (Jordan Ladd, Jessica Alba, Marley Shelton). Their plan to ruin the prom of nerdy girl Aldys finally causes Josie to reveal herself, and condemn the girls for their behaviour. 

Sample line (Gibby): I don't think you're supposed to wear white jeans after 1983. 

Meanest moment: The trio's Carrie-inspired dog food at the prom plan. Just horrible.

19. Tris - Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist 

The best boy-meets-girl stories have an awful ex-girlfriend in the mix, and as unsuited girls go, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist hits the nail on the head with mean girl Tris. She's the girl who's completely wrong for sweet, sensitive Nick (Michael Cera), throwing away his mix CDs and dumping him on his birthday. It's a good job he finds Norah (Kat Dennings), who's having some relationship troubles of her own, but their meeting prompts Tris to see her ex in a whole new light. Thankfully, this girl gets her just desserts, and Nick abandons her mid-seduction attempt. 

Sample line: Norah (unconvincing concerned face) alone again? 

Meanest moment: Throwing Nick's painstakingly prepared mix CDs away is probably Norah at her most heartless, though her sexy dance in a riverside car park is her at her most scheming.

18. Lux Lisbon - The Virgin Suicides 

Aside from their blonde locks, Lux (Kirsten Dunst) and her sisters from Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides are not your typical high school mean girls, but they do conspire in one remarkably cruel deception on a group of adoring neighbourhood boys which merits them a place on this list.

Suffocated by their overprotective parents, all five Lisbon sisters seek to escape their suburban lives, but Lux is the one who, hurt by callous treatment from boyfriend Trip, takes an odd kind of revenge on the men in her neighbourhood. Not mean so much as troubled then, the Lisbon girls’ behaviour nevertheless is the cause of pain to many around them.

Sample line: Do you like to wrestle?

Meanest moment: That would be a major spoiler, but suffice to say, it’s pretty cruel.

17. Courtney Alice Shayne - Jawbreaker 

The 90s were a hotbed for teen movies, and the sheer amount of them was bound to inspire a Heathers homage sooner or later. That film was Jawbreaker, in which three queen bees play a prank on the group's fourth member, only to accidently kill her with a jawbreaker. Their crime is uncovered by the school's resident geek, and they offer to upgrade her from zero to hero in exchange for their silence. It's silly, and a pretty terrible film, but these mean girls actually live up to the name, especially Courtney (Rose McGowan).

Sample line: I don't believe we've met, what with the cruel politics of high school and all. 

Meanest moment: How to decide? The jawbreaker, the cover-up, framing an innocent man for rape, the list goes on...

16. Heather Chandler - Heathers 

Tired of the popular girls' continued reign over her school, Veronica (Winona Ryder) enlists the help of Jason Dean (Christian Slater) to teach them a lesson, only to end up killing them and covering the deaths up as suicides. Heathers is about a twisted as a teen movie can get, and it contains some of the most evil and conniving mean girl tactics committed to screen. The film made Winona Ryder a star, but it was the manipulative and troubled leader of the group, portrayed by Kim Walker, who created the definitive mean girl of the genre.

Sample line: Transfer to Washington. Transfer to Jefferson. No one at Westerberg is going to let you play their reindeer games. 

Meanest moment: Threatening to destroy Veronica's reputation for embarassing her at a frat party. She does get her comeuppance more or less the next morning though.

15. Regina George - Mean Girls 

Mean Girls will forever be remembered as the cherry on top of Lindsey Lohan's now flatlining career, but the real star of the show was Rachel McAdams' Regina George, head of the 'plastics' and self-appointed queen bee of her high school. Taking its lead from every high school movie before it, the film re-energised the genre and taught us how warped 'girl world' can become. Cue backstabbing, social climbing and a whole load of bitching. 

Sample line: Boo, you whore.

Meanest moment: Creating and curating the burn book, a collection of malicious rumours about the Plastics' classmates and teachers.

14. The Big Red - Bring It On 

Picking the meanest girl from this bunch of movie cheerleaders is something like trying to decide who’s the most vapid member of Jedward: it’s all much of a muchness. Big Red (Lindsay Stone) won out though, chiefly because she puts the itch in bitch (whatever that means? She has cystitis maybe?) and for the cardinal sin of plagiarising cheerleading routines.

Kirsten Dunst’s peppy Torrance may have made everything right eventually, but she inherited a poisoned chalice from cheer squad captain Big Red. Spirit fingers at the ready people!

Sample line: I’m sexy, I’m cute, I’m popular to boot… 

Meanest moment: Years of plagiarising cheer routines from a much less privileged school.

13. Enid Coleslaw - Ghost World 

She may only be a high school student for minutes in the film version of Daniel Clowes’ cult comic, but Enid Coleslaw (Thora Birch) makes enough of a mean girl impression in that short space of time.

Caustic, bitter and generally unimpressed with life, Enid spends her first summer away from high school tinkering with the love life of lonely Seymour (Steve Buscemi) and growing apart from best friend Becky (Scarlett Johansson).

Terry Swigoff’s paean to adolescence shows the horribly enjoyable Enid not being able to keep her mean mouth closed long enough to hold down a job, and raising an eyebrow at just about everything and everyone she encounters. 

Sample line: (About her fellow high school graduands) God, what a bunch of retards. 

Meanest moment: We’re thinking that pulling a phone prank on pathetic Seymour, getting him fired, then breaking up his relationship probably won’t win Enid any medals for valour or kindness. 

12. Tamsin - My Summer Of Love 

Emily Blunt is fantastic as privileged, manipulative teen Tamsin in Pawel Pawilowski’s My Summer of Love. Her true meanness doesn’t become clear until fairly late in proceedings, but suffice to say that Tamsin’s not the kindest, nor the most truthful of girls.

Suspended from her expensive boarding school for bad behaviour, Tamsin meets Mona (Natalie Press) and the two spend a Yorkshire summer falling in love and escaping their respective lives. Like most young love affairs however, it can’t last forever, and Tamsin’s mean girl streak is largely the cause.

Sample line: Apparently I'm a bad influence on people. 

Meanest moment: Lying remorselessly to the girl who loves her.

11. Tracy Flick - Election 

Overachiever Tracy Flick is a brilliant example of anyone who'd happily dance over their grandmother’s corpse on their way to the finish line if it meant getting what they wanted. She’s a masterwork, conceived by novelist Tom Perrotta and brought to life by director Alexander Payne and Reese Witherspoon in 1999’s Election.

It’s Tracy’s single-minded, deceitful and manipulative approach to winning her student body election that gets her a place on this list (we can only assume she’d be frustrated not being at the top, where she's used to sitting).

Sample line:  It's like my mom says, "The weak are always trying to sabatoge the strong". 

Meanest moment: Destroying fellow campaigner Paul's posters in a fit of primal rage, then letting his sister take the blame.

10. Jacy Farrow - The Last Picture Show 

Entitled Southern princess Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepherd) is in many ways an archetype for the mean beauties on this list. Gorgeous, blonde, privileged and heartless, Jacy cuts a swathe through her fifties southern town, seducing and using boys to her own end. Worst of all, one of those boys is the Dude himself, Jeff Bridges. Shame on you Jacy. 

Sample line: (after having sex for the first time with her boyfriend) Oh, quit prissing, I don’t think you done it right, anyway.

Meanest moment: Getting between friends Duane and Sonny, sleeping with her mother’s lover, setting up Sonny and using Duane. You name it, beautiful Jacy did it.

9. Tania Degano - Muriel's Wedding 

There are few moments of girl-on-girl meanness quite so cruel as the one in which Muriel Heslop (Toni Collette) is unceremoniously dumped by Tania Degano (Sophie Lee) and her gaggle of overly made-up personality vacuums in Muriel's Wedding. Nor many so satisfying in fact, as the moment Tania is told what hubbie Chook really got up to on their wedding day and where to stick her patronising offer of a drink by the brilliant Rachel Griffiths as Rhonda.

We might meet Tania - like Young Adult’s Mavis Geary - and her cronies after their high school years are behind them, but all three are clearly still as dumb and bigoted as a sack of racist hammers. We suppose it must be difficult to leave behind the glory of being the most popular girl at Porpoise Spit High.

Sample line: You can’t talk to me like that! I’m married! I’m beautiful! 

Meanest moment: Tossing Muriel aside from the clique before the poor girl even had the chance to finish her Orgasm (it's a cocktail, for anyone who hasn't seen the film).

8. Marianne Bryant - Easy A 

Will Gluck’s sharp high school comedy Easy A takes a refreshingly caustic look into high school sexual mores, taking to task the double standards that divide promiscuous boys and girls into ‘studs’ and ‘sluts’. It features the very lovable Emma Stone, tons of 80s teen movie references, and a really awesome musical number for no apparent reason. In short, we’re big fans.

Bert V. Royal’s Easy A script satirises the shortcomings of conservative Christian teen groups by presenting their leader Marianne as a mean, misguided bigot. Amanda Bynes is great as the pious, chastity-preaching, gossip-spreading Marianne, a devil in an Alice band with much to learn about Christian forgiveness. 

Sample lineJesus tells us to love everyone, even the whores and the homosexuals, but it's just so hard because they keep doing it. 

Meanest moment: Organising a Phelps-family style protest to harass Olive out of school.

7. Mavis Geary - Young Adult 

Despite never seeing her in her high school glory days in Young Adult, as Mavis (Charlize Theron) was the inspiration for this very list, it seemed churlish not to include her ex post.

What Jason Reitman, Diablo Cody and Charlize Theron have done in bringing Mavis to life is reveal the damaged side of high school mean girls, and the damage popularity can do to a psyche. Mavis is monstrous in Young Adult, a 37 year old prom queen more narcissistic even than the mirror-obsessed Wicked Queen Theron plays in Snow White and the Huntsman. It’s a brilliant, uncomfortable, and nastily enjoyable performance.

Sample line: (After being told her ex-boyfriend’s new baby is just darling) “Have you seen it? Up close?” 

Meanest moment: Returning to her home town to seduce her married ex-boyfriend.

6. Dedee Truitt - The Opposite Of Sex 

Dedee Truitt (Christina Ricci in one of many mean girl roles) is a piece of work such as is rarely seen on screen. As a sixteen year old girl, she’s of high school age, although she spends her time on more dastardly activities than actually attending class.

Seducing her brother’s boyfriend, passing off her baby as his and then accidentally shooting him, Dedee’s not what exactly what you’d call a catch. Her heavily cynical narration makes 1998 comedy The Opposite Of Sex something of a joy, even if the film’s increasingly outlandish plot unravels somewhere around the mid-point mark. 

Sample line: If you think I'm just plucky and scrappy and all I need is love, you're in over your heads. I don't have a heart of gold and I don't grow one later, OK? But relax. There's other people a lot nicer coming up - we call them "losers." 

Meanest moment: Holding her brother’s dead boyfriend’s ashes to ransom. That's harsh.

5. Amber Von Tussle - Hairspray 

The bratty, racist dance queen knocked off her pedestal by chubby Tracy Turnblad (Ricky Lake) in John Waters’ 1988 Hairspray (and a 2007 remake which we have to admit never having bothered with), Amber Von Tussle (Colleen Fitzpatrick) is one of the meanest girls on screen.

A product of her dreadful pro-segregation mother (played first by Deborah Harry, then Michelle Pfeiffer), Amber’s bigotry is matched only by her self-interest, and like Election’s Tracy Flick, she’ll stop at nothing to get what she wants namely, the Miss Auto Show 1963 crown.

Sample line: Tracy Turnblad is a human roach nest.

Meanest moment: Knocking Tracy out in a game of dodge ball.

4. Nancy Downs - The Craft 

Return to Oz star Fairuza Balk plays Nancy in teen horror The Craft, the high school witch who gets a bit carried away with the dark magic long before Buffy’s Willow went all mean and veiny. Fittingly, as Dorothy starts off in an asylum in Return to Oz, that’s just where Nancy ends up after her sojourn on the dark side.

We still can’t decide what’s scarier about Nancy, her dark power, her enormous mouth, or her make-up. Whichever it is, there’s no denying she’s mean.

Sample line: You know, if I were as pathetic as you are, I would have killed myself ages ago. You should get on with it.

Meanest moment: Using black magic to fake Sarah’s suicide definitely puts Nancy on the naughty list.

3. Chris Hargensen - Carrie 

With her enormously buoyant seventies hair, high-waisted netball shorts, and utter disregard for the feelings of her fellow classmate Carrie White, Chris from Brian de Palma’s 1976 horror is amongst the worst of this bunch of bullying teens. It’s Chris’ mean girl antics that spark the most famous prom queen coronation of them all.

After using some feminine persuasion to get thuggish boyfriend Billy (John Travolta) to do her dirty work, Chris pulls the rope that dumps pig blood all over our telekinetically powered titular teen. Big mistake, Chris. Big mistake. Even Danny from Grease can’t save you now…

Sample line: (to Carrie) You eat shit!

Meanest moment: The prom night bucket ‘o’ blood plan, there’s no doubt about it.

2. Jennifer Check - Jennifer's Body 

Megan Fox’s character in the Diablo Cody-penned comedy horror Jennifer’s Body is a fairly typical mean girl (albeit one with sparkier one-liners than most) even before she becomes possessed by a heart-eating demon. She’s cruel, manipulative and walks all over nerdy long-time pal Needy, played by Amanda Seyfried. 

With a storyline that would work nicely as an R-rated episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Jennifer becomes a ritual sacrifice victim whose non-virgin status messes things up somewhat. It’s post-transformation that Jennifer goes from high school evil to actual evil. 

Sample line: I'm going to rip out your heart, eat it... and shit it out!

Meanest moment: Eating sensitive Goth boy Colin. That was an act of pure evil.

1. Kathryn Merteuil - Cruel Intentions 

Based on the character of the Marquise de Merteuil in the Laclos novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses memorably incarnated by Glenn Close in the 1988 film adaptation, Kathryn brings dastardly sexual scheming to an exclusive private school in Cruel Intentions.

Kathryn (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is a coke-snorting bulimic hypocrite majoring in manipulation. Via a series of wagers made with her lascivious step brother, she blazes a destructive trail. What makes her deserve the number one spot on this list? Her hypocrisy. Kathryn may only be as mean as some of our other entries, but at least they don’t all try to hide it. Kathryn’s reign eventually crumbles when the truth about her less-than-angelic ways is made public by newcomer Annette (Reese Witherspoon).

Sample line: “I love you”? My God. You are completely pussy-whipped.

Meanest moment: Revealing to recently reformed bad boy Sebastian she manipulated him into breaking his true love’s heart. Talk about cruel intentions. 

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