39 Of The Most Shocking Teen Drama Moments Of All Time

1 year ago 142

I think Pretty Little Liars wins for most shocking moments, but One Tree Hill's a close second.

Hi, my name's Hannah, and I'm the queen of teen dramas.

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I didn't have a life as a teenager, so I decided to live vicariously through literally every teen drama I could get my hands on. And the few I hadn't seen I've watched in the years since, with only a few exceptions.

I love teen dramas for a lot of reasons — the fashion, the nostalgia, the soapiness, and of course, the drama. In fact, as a teenager I used to bookmark my favorite dramatic moments on my 2000s pink Dell so I could munch Eelio's pizza and watch them in succession on a wild Friday night and mouth along to the words.


*I also did this with romantic and heartbreaking teen drama scenes. The ones I watched depended on the vibe of that particular night.

While I don't still have those bookmarks, the best and most dramatic moments of teen dramas have stuck with me to this day. Here's a masterlist of 39 of the best shocking teen drama moments and plot twists!

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Note: For shows that go on super long and follow characters in their adult lives, I'm only using seasons that still qualify as "teen/high school drama" — both to keep this list from getting too long and also because I feel like some of the fun of shocking moments on teen dramas are that they're happening to teenagers, making a lot of them even more unrealistic. 

1. When Nathan and Haley got MARRIED in HIGH SCHOOL on One Tree Hill:

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Not as dramatic as the other OTH nods on this list, but it's one of OTH's first truly shocking moments, and it's something that I feel like no teen drama has topped. It's so wildly out of pocket and unrealistic (especially 'cause like, this isn't a Ross/Rachel Vegas wedding situation...they stay married THE ENTIRE REST OF THE SHOW), and that's why I love it.

2. When Serena told Blair she'd killed someone on Gossip Girl:

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I LOVE THIS SCENE SO MUCH. It's SO unexpected, and the music drop is ON POINT. The new Gossip Girl WISHES it could have a moment this truly shocking and intense.

3. When Fez beat up Nate on Euphoria:


I still watch newer teen dramas, y'all!! This was shocking, yes, but also really satisfying (even though it was super violent). Nate is an abhorrent person and it was kind of nice to see somebody act against him.

4. When Marissa shot Trey on The O.C.:


Also one of the most off-kilter music choices of our time, spawning a giant meme and an SNL skit. MMM WATCHA SAY!!!! 

5. When Marissa died on The O.C.:


Still one of the most shocking teen drama deaths, tbh. Marissa deserved better.

6. When Abby fell in the water and drowned on Dawson's Creek:

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Dawson's Creek was super melodramatic, but a lot of things were drawn out rather than being sudden and shocking — except Abby's death. It happened so quickly and almost randomly, literally giving viewers everywhere trust issues.

7. When Dan shot and killed Keith on One Tree Hill:

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"With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept" is a super dramatic and shocking episode of television — even for One Tree Hill — but the most shocking moment comes at the end, when villain Dan Scott becomes Shakespearian-level evil by murdering his brother in cold blood. It's a moment that changes the show forever.

What the scene here (Warning: besides obviously featuring a murder, the below clip starts with a suicide — neither are graphic, but just to let you know):

View this video on YouTube

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8. When "Elena" revealed herself to be Katherine on The Vampire Diaries:

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This is one of my favorite season finale endings EVER. After hyping up Katherine and her villainy all season, we finally meet her in the present day in a truly fantastic twist ending.

9. When Rachel and Cooper's limo went off the bridge on One Tree Hill, then Nathan jumped in to save them and got stuck in the car:

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Not to mention that in the same CODA, we discover someone knows Dan's a murderer, Karen is pregnant, and either Haley, Brooke, or Rachel are ALSO pregnant. This has seriously got to be one of the best ending five minutes to a finale of all time.

10. When Haley (who was pregnant) got hit by a car, Nathan seemingly killed the guy who did it and Dan took the blame, then Lucas had a heart attack on One Tree Hill:

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Sorry to include so many OTH moments, but come on, could I really just not include this? This almost beats the Season 3 finale mentioned above because it all happens in two minutes instead of five. Wild.

11. When Elena became a vampire on The Vampire Diaries:

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Another great season finale reveal. Elena dies, and we have no idea she has vampire blood in her system until seconds before we flash to her waking up. And then we had to wait a whole summer to see what happened next! 

12. When Hanna was hit by a car on Pretty Little Liars:


There are so many shocking PLL moments, I didn't even know which ones to include on this list. But I feel like this was the first truly shocking moment, and it's such a good, creepy one that I have to include it.

13. When Quinn got in a car crash while texting on Glee:


Glee was often shocking for being problematic and tackling literally every teen issue, but I think this is the only moment where my jaw literally dropped. Yes, she's texting, but it's still really surprising and almost harrowing to watch. Of course, it's even more dramatic because it happens when she's on her way to Rachel and Finn's wedding, which is then delayed due to this.

14. When the bus crashed on Veronica Mars:


Personally, I think this is the most messed up and disturbing thing to EVER happen on a teen show, and it doesn't even happen in a season finale. It spurs a great season of TV, but a schoolbus of kids going off a cliff is almost too far for me, even for a teen drama. Still, it'd be a major oversight to not include it on this list.

15. And when it was revealed Beaver was responsible — and also that he was the one who'd raped Veronica:


A chilling, super dramatic conclusion to a chilling, super dramatic season. The roof scene is just great.

16. When John B figured out Ward killed his father in Outer Banks:


I love a good villain reveal, especially when the villain's been right in front of our eyes all along. We also get a nice intense fight scene here for good measure.

17. And then in Season 2, when it was revealed John B.'s father was alive:


WHAT WAS THE POINT OF SEASON 1 THEN??? Still, they sure shocked us.

18. When Ruby and Olivia were shot at Olivia's quinceañera on On My Block:


This isn't quite as bad as the bus crash, but it's up there. Ruby and Olivia are literally kids and it's supposed to be a happy occasion. The drastic tone shift here makes it extra gut-wrenching.

19. When JT was stabbed and died on Degrassi:


I'll be honest, Degrassi is one of the only teen dramas (I feel like I have to call it a teen franchise now) I've never seen. BUT, I know it well enough to know that this was the most dramatic and heartbreaking moment to a lot of people. Poor JT. :(

20. When Angel lost his soul on Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

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One of the best plot twists of all time, tbh. It's so fun to watch brooding, romantic, heroic Angel turn into the delightfully evil Angelus. 

21. And then Buffy had to send him to hell:

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Also one of the most heartbreaking teen drama scenes. Angel finally gets his soul back and is himself again, but it's too late — Buffy has to sacrifice him to save everyone. I'll never stop being mad at Xander for not telling Buffy that Willow was doing a spell to give Angel his soul back.

22. When Allison died on Teen Wolf:


I really thought Isaac was going to die in this scene. They faked us out so hard, gave us a little hope by having Allison kill one of the Oni, then drove the knife in hard (kind of like the pole in Allison's stomach...too soon?) by quickly killing her. Oof. I'm still not over this death. 

23. When it was revealed that Peter was the alpha on Teen Wolf:


Teen Wolf Season 1 may be extra campy, but damnit, is it good. I truly did not expect Derek's catatonic uncle to be the alpha, and the reveal is the perfect amount of creepy, especially because Stiles is the one to witness it and not one of the other werewolves, like Scott.

24. And then he attacked Lydia:


25. When Effy's psychiatrist killed Freddie on Skins:


This death makes me so mad. Freddie deserved so much better, and so did Effy. She was just barely healing then her psychiatrist kills her boyfriend?? And we don't even see the aftermath!

26. When Chris died in Skins after it seemed like he'd be okay:


Why must every Skins generation include a horribly shocking death of a beloved main character??? This was the first one, and it really got me. RIP Chris. :(

27. When Matty, Liv and Grace's car flipped in Skins (eventually leading to Grace's death):


Of course, they had to have a shocking death in Generation 3, too. Poor Grace. :(

28. When Annie hit someone with her car then drove away on 90210:

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It was especially out of character for nice Midwestern girl Annie, and I'm honestly kind of impressed 90210 went there. I can't believe Annie didn't get in more trouble for this, though it did lead to a season of guilt and angst.

29. When James killed the professor on The End of the F***ing World:


Look, we knew this was a show about a teenager who wanted to commit murder. But it was still pretty shocking to see him actually kill someone (albeit, someone who probably deserved it). 

30. When Toby was "revealed" as A:


This also came right after Emily and Paige almost died, Emily killed Nate, and Caleb was shot. And it still overshadowed those! Sure, he was only on the team to help Spencer, but we didn't know that at the time.

31. And when Spencer found him "dead":


I kind of knew this wasn't for real, but it was still really shocking. Spencer really went through it that season.

32. When the girls were kidnapped from their prison van and woke up in a life-size dollhouse with perfect replicas of their rooms on Pretty Little Liars:


I think this is my favorite shocking/messed-up thing to happen in a TV show EVER. Unlike the bus crash on Veronica Mars, this is disturbing in a kind of fun way. It's unlike anything we've seen on a teen drama, and it's honestly very creative and makes sense with the rising stakes of the show over five seasons.

33. When Cheryl's dad was revealed as Jason's killer on Riverdale:

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Ah, back when Riverdale wasn't completely bonkers. That actually ended up giving wild scenes and reveals like the above more weight, because these moments didn't have to compete with batshit storylines like the gargoyle king. It's a bit of a classic mystery wrap-up, but it's still shocking and damn good. What happened to you, Riverdale??

34. When The Farm was revealed to be an organ farm on Riverdale:

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Okay, this is far after Riverdale started getting batshit, but as one of the most batshit things to happen in the high school seasons of the show (remember I'm not including post-HS stuff here, so no Rivervale stuff for ya), I still wanted to include this. Betty joins a cult and realizes they're literally harvesting organs from their members...there's little else that could be more shocking

35. When Adrian revealed she could be pregnant on The Secret Life of The American Teenager:


This was especially wild considering the entire show was about Amy being pregnant and becoming a teen mom. They were really gonna get another main character pregnant a season later? Not only that, but Adrian was Amy's baby daddy's ex, and she was pregnant with Amy's ex-boyfriend's child. 

I can't find the scene on YouTube, but it comes at the end of episode 23 of Season 2. You can watch the show on Freeform or Hulu.

36. And then when she lost the baby a season later:


Not only was this one of the most shocking teen drama moments, it was also one of the most heartbreaking. I literally cried just screen-capping this scene. 

37. When Katherine (essentially) killed Jeremy on The Vampire Diaries while disguised as Elena:

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Yep, we got another Kat/Elena switch on the list. Silas did the killing, but Katherine was to blame here. It was so quick and sudden that even though Jeremy had died before (lol), it was still shocking. Especially because we knew this would awaken Silas, and we'd spent a whole season building him up.

38. And then Elena turned off her humanity because of it:

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Elena was supposed to be the moral center of the show, with her empathy and kindness being her greatest gift — so her turning her emotions off was SUPER dramatic and wild. I have to say, it was kind of fun to watch Elena be bad.

39. And finally, a BUNCH of 13 Reasons Why moments that I'm not going to name or link because they're super triggering and felt irresponsibly done for shock value, but if you know, you know:


I literally had to stop watching the show after the above scene.

What teen show moments did you find shocking? Let us know in the comments below!

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