This Friday (July 22), "Degrassi" will finally drop its sixteenth season on Netflix.
The virtually indestructible teen drama is like nothing else on television. Its reliance on character types, soapy melodrama, and Very Special Episodes doesn't *exactly* seem like a winning formula, yet the show has managed to survive (and even thrive) for nearly two decades, bouncing back from multiple network changes and even a cancellation.
Last season — its fifteenth overall, and the first in its newest "Degrassi: Next Class" incarnation — introduced us to a slew of fresh faces and ushered off a few older ones, thanks to the show’s now-characteristic high turnover rate. And so, in honor of the show's return, we're taking a look back at the best (and worst) main cast characters who graced and/or tormented Degrassi Community School's halls and ranking them accordingly. This is high school, after all:
Derek was, at first, just an annoying prankster (alongside his BFF Danny). But once he joined the football team, he became a legit menace. Most memorably, he was one of the players who violently beat up Jane after she joined the all-male team. Disgusting.
Bruce the Moose
Bruce, who didn’t even earn a last name, was a one-dimensional bully. He somehow managed to hang around for three entire seasons as Johnny DiMarco's perpetual shadow, but showed virtually no redeeming qualities during that time. He was also one of the players who beat up Jane when she joined the football team. Take a hike, Moose.
Raditch was the WORST principal. He allowed the obviously-unhinged Rick Murray back into Degrassi, and then turned a blind eye when the student body bullied him. Raditch inadvertently set in motion the events that would lead to Rick’s school shooting. For that, he's one of the worst.
Remember that time an obviously white dude was supposed to be playing an Inuit character? Yeah. Kelly was around for only a handful of episodes and essentially only served as a “College Years” love interest for Emma. And the college years were kind of terrible in general.
Blue was Holly J’s Kelly — hot, but 100% useless. My beloved Holly J was way too good for him. Also, his name was Blue fucking Chessex. He didn’t last long on the show, understandably.
Damian completes the hot-but-useless-guy trifecta. This dude somehow managed to get with Manny, Liberty, and Emma in the span of nine episodes. Nine. That alone is impressive, but beyond it, he was mostly memorable for cheating on Emma with Liberty at prom. So pretty, but so dumb.
Wesley was possibly the least memorable character to ever grace the school's halls. I honestly can't call to mind a single thing he ever did. He was a generic nerd stereotype and eventually vanished completely in mid-Season 11, as a sophomore, without even a proper send-off. Yikes.
Leia was another forgettable character. She was best remembered for pathologically lying about knowing Pete Wentz *personally* and being Mia’s boring, tag-a-long friend during the atrocious “Mia is a model” arc. She LARP'd with Anya that one time, which was probably the most interesting thing that Leia ever did.
We know almost nothing about Baaz yet, other than that he's one-fourth of the gamer club and went along with Hunter's truly despicable online harassment of Maya in Season 15. So everything we know about him is terrible, basically.
Yael, girl, what were you thinking getting so wrapped up in Hunter’s meninist nonsense quest? Girl gamers are an underrepresented group, so it was hugely disappointing to see her so heavily under Hunter’s thumb, turning a blind eye to his overt sexism, for as long as she was.
Caitlyn was awful. Her relationship with fellow OG Degrassi alum Joey Jeremiah devolved into a huge mess during their time on "TNG." Then she slept with Ellie’s gross boyfriend Jesse — at the newspaper office where they all worked. Not a good look, Caitlyn.
Like the other gamer club members, we know little about Vijay. But his attempt at forming a relationship with oblivious Tristan was adorable and heartbreaking, so Vijay gets a bit of a boost above the other three gamers.
Peter did so many terrible and/or cringeworthy things. He framed Sean for drug possession, he manipulated and filmed drunk Manny flashing him (though that “I’m gonna be FAMOUS!” moment is truly iconic), and he was addicted to meth for one full weekend. Peter’s eventual redemption arc only sort of worked — his later behavior and relationships with Mia and Darcy never outweighed his earlier nonsense. And Stüdz was better minus Peter. #SorryNotSorry
Poor Terri. She had that plus size modeling storyline, which was cool, but then she got tangled up with obvious-creep Rick. She was around for the first three seasons, but she’s mostly known for falling into a coma after Rick pushed her down and accidentally made her hit her head on a cinderblock. So while she wasn’t actively terrible, we didn’t really get to know her all that well before she was unceremoniously shipped off to “private school” post-coma.
Who makes out with a guy when he's got a girlfriend and a newborn? Marisol does — and KC was very much not worth it. On top of that, she was the worst friend ever, blabbing about Katie's bulimia and using it against her. Marisol's later relationship with Mo was cute, but not enough to redeem her truly awful behavior.
Jake was cute and funny, but his one big storyline (the love triangle with his stepsister Clare and Clare's obvious one true love Eli) was snooze-central. Jake's later romance with Katie was only marginally more interesting.
Who? Oh, right. She was the one who dated Imogen and wasn’t Fiona. That was nice and all, but Jack didn't actually do anything else. Imogen and Jack were certainly cute together, and she wasn’t bad, per se — she was just yet another pointless love interest character.
Danny Van Zandt
Liberty's little bro was fine after he chilled out with the pranking, but not particularly memorable.
Peter's mom (and the former Degrassi science teacher) was the principal for a few years when Raditch was forced to resign after fucking things up at the school. She was the best principal Degrassi ever had, but she made out with the very married Snake Simpson one time and that was terrible.
Joey was an OG character, from way back in the Degrassi Junior High days. His fatherly relationship with my beloved Craig was great, but he sort of fell off the radar very unceremoniously towards the end, when his portrayer no longer wanted to play the character.
Winston is adorable, and his support of Miles' coming out during his relationship with Tristan was great, but cheating on Frankie with Lola was very not okay. Points off for that.
Lola is stylish AF and has cool hair, but she's got a penchant for kissing and/or dating her friends' love interests. You're on notice, Lola.
She hooked up with Sav! She was his teacher! I don't care that Sav was 18 or whatever; the whole thing was weird. I suspect it was a time-filler to give Sav something to do through graduation, albeit a terrible one.
Esme is a far more interesting antagonist than Season 15’s other villain, Hunter. Her manipulation of Miles (and her drug-pushing) was downright sociopathic. Faking a suicide attempt to keep him around? That’s some next level deviousness. The fact that all of this bad behavior is hidden beneath a prim and proper exterior is extra-eerie. She’s awful, but she gets points for being legitimately terrifying and psychologically intriguing.
The gang storyline and Tiny's brother Vince's arrest were both sad, but Tiny himself tends to be really underutilized. He basically did nothing at all in Season 15 except be a love interest for both Shay and Lola, which wasn't particularly enthralling.
His hair is bad, and he should feel bad about that. But actually, as a character, he’s not terrible. Stealing money from Becky while they dated was super shady, but his burgeoning Season 15 relationship with Frankie was actually amazing. "Degrassi" isn’t usually any good at taking its time with slow-burn romance (everyone falls in love in about two episodes), but Fronah (Jankie?) was excellent. He needs to stay far away from Maya, though, because I don’t trust these writers to keep male-female friendships platonic.
Frankie is the second best Hollingsworth sibling. She and Winston were cute, but she and Jonah have definite "Degrassi" supercouple potential. Beyond that, and beyond her body image issues, we don't know much about her just yet.
Goldi is a super cool, no-nonsense feminist, which is awesome. But beyond that we don't really know her yet.
Grace is OK. Her friendships with Maya and (formerly) Zoe are cute, and the reveal of her cystic fibrosis was really sad. She's got that inexplicable crush on Zig though, which docks her more than a few points.
Emma’s mom was a character in her own right on the earlier pre-“TNG” series, but she never amounted to much in the later series. Aside from being Emma’s mother and Snake’s wife, we never learned anything interesting about her, beyond that she owned a vibrator for like a minute before Clare and Alli creepily stole it.
This dude has seen some shit. In his many, many years at Degrassi (both in the original series and the “TNG” reboot), he’s been privy to school shootings, teen pregnancy scares, sexual assault admissions, and (most horrifyingly; thanks, Darcy) sexual assault accusations. He’s definitely not as good of a principal as Hatzilakos, but he’s mostly a cool dude, despite the fact that he cheated on Spike with Hatzilakos that one time.
I admittedly have a soft spot for Jay, despite his indirectly getting Jimmy shot. He was a big ol' cheater at first, cheating on Alex with both Emma and that random chick Amy. But the unintentional hilarity of Emma confronting Jay with "You gave me a social disease!" cannot possibly be overstated, and Jay's relationship with Manny was amazing and transformative for both of them.
Mike Dallas (aka "Dallas")
The boy was fine as heck. His storyline in the aftermath of Cam’s suicide was amazing and heartbreaking, and his relationship with Alli ended up being surprisingly great.
Zoe hasn’t been around as long as characters like Bianca, Holly J, and Paige, but I sense that we’re going to get a similar complex and well-developed character arc from her. I adored the way the show handled the aftermath of her rape and her eventual coming out storyline. It was also an interesting choice to not completely redeem her — she’s still kind of a horrorshow in Season 15, when she hooks up with Zig to “punish” Grace for not loving her back, it’s a bit bonkers. She’s not all good or all bad. She’s complicated and, so far, one of the most intriguing characters the show has had. More please!