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The 40 Best Fictional Teachers | Best Movie Teachers | Best TV Teachers

From Mr. Kotter to Mr. Miyagi, from Dewey Finn to Dumbledore.

By Andrea Zimmerman |

Remember your favorite teacher? The one that inspired you to dissect a frog/understand Shakespeare/try out for the Mathletes? The teacher whose class you wanted to attend? We’d give ‘em all gold stars if we could. But today, we celebrate the next best thing: a round-up of 40 kick-ass fictional teachers. From ruler-wielding disciplinarians who demand respect to nurturing mentors who instill worldly wisdom to nutball professors who ignore the syllabus; these teachers get our shiny red apple of approval. — Andrea Zimmerman

Ms. Norbury, Mean Girls

Ms. Norbury ushers Cady away from the cliquey Plastics and into the Mathletes, but her finest moment may be telling the female student body to lay off the sexist insults.


Miss Honey, Matilda

After bonding over their disastrous childhoods, Miss Honey adopts Matilda as her own, in an idyllic student-teacher happily-ever-after.


Miss Crabtree, Little Rascals

Her name may have been crabby, but beautiful Miss Crabtree has the patience of a saint. Who else could put up with the Rascals’ pranks — like the time they swapped their history books for joke books?

Dumbledore, Harry Potter

The head of Gryffindor House; the Headmaster of Hogwarts; the greatest wizard in the world: is there anything Albus Dumbledore can’t do?

Mr. Collins, Wonder Years

After inspiring Kevin to strive for an A in math class, strict Mr. Collins dies tragically from a hidden illness, leaving a life-shaping impression on young Kev.


William Forrester, Finding Forrester

Recluse author William Forrester mentors smart-but-lazy Jamal in his writing, spurring an overly-quoted catchphrase: ‘You’re the man now, dog!’

Miss Nelson, Miss Nelson Is Missing!

Nicey-nice Miss Nelson goes incognito as strict Viola Swamp to teach her students a lesson in appreciation.


Miss Bliss, Saved by the Bell

Did you know Saved by the Bell was originally titled Good Morning, Miss Bliss and starred Miss Bliss, the loveable and sensible English teacher of Bayside High? Neither did we.

Mr. Miyagi, Karate Kid

Only Mr. Miyagi could turn the mundane task of car-waxing (“wax on, wax off”) into an invaluable karate lesson for his young prot’g’.

Sam Coulson, Never Been Kissed

Dreamy Mr. Coulson teaches nerdy under-cover reporter Josie the big high school lesson: popularity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Melvin B. Tolson, The Great Debaters

In an effort to gain equal rights for his historically-black debate team, strict Melvin Tolson exhausts all resources in the name of his students.

Mr. Feeny, Boy Meets World

Despite Feeny’s hard exterior and biting sarcasm, he has a soft spot for troublesome trio Corey, Shawn, and Eric. And for that, we have a soft spot for him.

Miss Canfield, Leave it to Beaver

Despite Beaver’s antics, Miss Canfield always remained calm and collected. Sadly, the pretty teacher left after only four episodes; better salary perhaps?

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About Andrea Zimmerman


Andrea Zimmerman

Andrea Zimmerman is from Chicago, IL, home of the Cubs and deep-dish pizza. Before coming to Babble, Andrea worked for, and many of Meredith's custom publications. She graduated from Drake University and lives in the Upper East Side. Follow her on Twitter @azimm (she announces blogger openings!), Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+.

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6 thoughts on “The 40 Best Fictional Teachers | Best Movie Teachers | Best TV Teachers

  1. HPfan says:

    Not to be nitpicky, but Dumbledore isn’t the head of Gryffindor- that’s Prof. McGonagall.

  2. AZforaPulitzer says:

    You are being nitpicky, and if you were as big a fan as you claim to be, you would know that the author,Andrea, was just listing Dumbledore’s accomplishments. He was Head of Gryffindor House before he was headmaster, while Armando Dippet was headmaster.
    Also, great article, almost thought you were going to leave out Dead Poet’s Society. Might have also mentioned Robin Williams’ other teacher character from Good Will Hunting. And Jon Lovitz from High School High!?! Come on Andrea! The guy plays a game of cliff chicken in place of one of his students, ends corruption and graft in his school, and sends some of his once hopeless students to college.

  3. Sanskrit says:

    So glad to see Stand and Deliver represented. Been one of my favorite films since my own high school calculus class and easily my favorite Edward James Olmos role (suck it, Battlestar Galactica and The West Wing, even though you’re both great too!)

  4. Babydragons Mom says:

    Love the list! Ironically, Ben Stein was (& maybe still) a Law Prof at Pepperdine University in CA!!

  5. TooLazyToRegister says:

    I’m disappointed that the list doesn’t include Prof. Charles W. Kingsfield, Jr., from The Paper Chase.  Although cold and demanding, he achieves what few others could ever do; he takes groups of self-centered and undisciplined college graduates, and teaches them to actually think.

  6. CouldntBeBothered says:

    Miss Cra-bapple!

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