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?