Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

The 10 Best English Teachers on Film & TV

Jeff O'Neal

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Jeff O'Neal is the executive editor of Book Riot and Panels. He also co-hosts The Book Riot Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @thejeffoneal.

Now that school is in session, the air is getting crisp, and the leaves are turning, it’s the time of year when going to class can seem downright romantic. And part of the romance is the figure of the great, inspiring teacher.

So together with Word and Film, we’re running through the 10 Best English Teachers in Film and TV.

Once you’re through with these five, head over there to see what they did with their half of the list.

In alphabetical order:


bill anderson1. Bill Anderson from The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Each of the English teachers listed here captures some quality of the ideal teacher. In Bill Anderson, we have the version of the English teacher that sees that we’re special and gives us secret knowledge. Anderson gives Charlie books outside of class and gives him customized assignments and consultation. Anderson, in the end, becomes a figure of possibility; he’s a kind of adult that a smart, loner kid might be OK turning into someday.




1995_Dangerous_Minds_0362. LouAnne Johnson from Dangerous Minds

Dangerous Minds is based on the true story of retired Marine Corps officer LouAnne Johnson and her experience teaching in tough LA high school. The iconic image from the movie is Johnson showing up in leather jacket to show the kids that she’s tough, but it’s her hard-nosed motivational work that presents her as a savior to these kids–and a fantasy of the ability of teachers to counteract the most unfair educational circumstances.




reverend maclean3. Reverend Maclean from A River Runs Through It

The good Reverend homeschools his young sons in only two subjects: English composition and fly-fishing. And for each, his values are the same: thrift, practice, and perfection. He asks for the best and is tough until he gets it, but when he does, his approval and admiration are worth the grind.




max medina gilmore girls4. Max Medina from Gilmore Girls

When Rory Gilmore transfers from her middle-of-the-road public school to the elite Chilton Academy, she expects a better education and that “better education” takes the form of Max Medina. While Medina’s role in the show turns out to be more love-interest for Rory’s mom, in his first few episodes he is excellence personified: worldy, charming, debonair, smart, and demanding. The message is clear: if you can please Mr. Medina, you can make it here.




grady tripp5. Grady Tripp from Wonder Boys

If you’re really lucky, you get to have a teacher like Grady Tripp. And I don’t mean a stoned, bad-at-relationships, aging adulterer. I mean the kind of teacher who not only gets you to be a better student, but lets you get to be a part of their life. Tripp is a mess, sure, but he’s the kind of mess that makes you feel good if you get to be a part of his mess, and by extension shows you that living a life that is a bit of a mess is part of the fun.

Alright, there’s our five. Check out the other five at Word and Film (they’ve got the all-timer over there. I bet you can guess who it is).


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