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"Suddenly he's the bad guy. [...] Ooooh but he's an underpaid civil servant trying to ensure the spoiled corrupt moronic youth of this country gets a proper education. Truly a villain such as this deserves to be punished and humiliated!"
A subtrope of Determinator, this is an educator (often a principal, though sometimes just a teacher) who, by all gods, swears that you will get an education, by all means necessary. This teacher will thus spend time hunting down students who try to skip school, to drag them back to class. If played with restraint, this means the principal spends his days patrolling the corridors of the school (rather than knee-deep in paper work and meetings as they would be IRL), maintaining a vigil for children roaming the halls without a hall pass, or worst, those that are late for class. The more serious examples of this trope will practically go on a quest when they learn that a student is not in class, tracking them across the city or even the country. They will brave the elements and the law, resorting to breaking and entering if they have to, all to make sure you go back to school. Often a Designated Antagonist (how dare they want to teach our kids!), which is usually partially justified by making the character a Jerkass into the bargain. May also be a Sadist Teacher who takes pleasure in the hunt and punishing his absconding students.
If the character in question is a principal, he may also be Dean Bitterman if he is doing out of a sense of authority or obsession with order - though not always, as sometime they may be doing it out genuine concern for their charges. Depending on how determined Non-Giving-Up-School Guy is, he may prove to be a Badass Teacher with his determination to track his charge down.
More Fridge Logic occurs when one considers how apparently negative consequences for non-attendance only occur if Non-Giving-Up-School Guy finds the main character. Not actually showing up to class multiple times really results in F's, phone calls, letters to parents, etc. (Usually Handwaved by the hero being tricky enough to forge excuses, but in Real Life this can only go so far.)
Anime & Manga
- Parodied in Ranma ½ - The Principal is The Determinator...when it comes to enforcing haircuts.
- Ultimate Teacher provides the perfect way to create a teacher that will never give up: cockroach DNA.
- A comic version of the cartoon where Donald Duck was a truant officer. His nephews tricked him into thinking there was class in that day. Carl Barks didn't like the idea of a comic story where kids defy the law and get away with that, so he had Donald use the school keys to open it and his authority as the nephews' uncle to force them in and write at the blackboard "Crime doesn't pay". He even corrected one of the nephews on how to write "crime".
- The Dean of Students in Ferris Buellers Day Off spends half the movie hunting down Ferris. To enforce his Designated Antagonist status, this tendency seems to be limited only to Ferris (it's implied that no one even realized Cameron was missing, and when Jeannie ditches school later on, it only gets a brief acknowledgement from the secretary), and that he's motivated more out of a personal vendetta against Ferris than any desire to give an education -- he merely wants to prove Ferris is skipping school (as opposed to being genuinely sick) so that he can expel him.
- Mr. Hand in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. On the night of the graduation dance he comes to Spicoli's house.
According to my calculations, Mr. Spicoli, you wasted a total of eight hours of my time this year. And rest assured that is a kind estimate. Now, Mr. Spicoli, comes a rare moment for me. Now I have the unique pleasure of squaring our account. Tonight, you and I are going to talk in great detail about the Davis Agreement, all the associated treaties, and the American Revolution in particular. Now if you can just turn to Chapter 47 of Lord of Truth And Liberty.
- Mr. Strickland in Back to The Future. It is shown that in the 30 years he's been working at the school, he spent most of it patrolling the corridors, watching for late students whom he calls "slackers".
- Turns out Mr. Strickland's job is a real thing called a "Disciplinarian." Many schools have them to help keep order and cut down on delinquency.
- Zhang Yimou's film Not One Less. Wei Minzhi is told not to lose any students. When one of the boys takes off in search of work in the big city, she goes looking for him.
Live Action Television
- Principal Snyder on Buffy the Vampire Slayer fits this trope, except that he doesn't actually care if they get educated.
- Principal Blackman on Strangers with Candy is a parody example. He's more obsessed with himself than his students, but when crossed, he blows up the entire school.
- If Waterloo Road wasn't half full of these, most of the students wouldn't be in the school. Rachel Mason was a prominent example, as is Chris Mead.
- In one Pogo strip, Pogo is taking the Pup-Dog and the Rackedy-Coon Child fishing, and Deacon Mushrat shows up to tell them they ought to be in school. In his own words, "I'm everything from truant officer to principal."
- The teachers and prefects in Bully turn into this if they see you truanting or breaking curfew.
- Similar to the Ranma parody, the Moperville North Principal in El Goonish Shive is fanatical about his new uniforms (right up until parents complain), and the importance of murals. He seems to think everything else will follow naturally from that.
- Perry Bible Fellowship has a truancy bot collect children on the spring break.
- Principal Skinner in The Simpsons who tracked Bart across Springfield (even climbing a cliff and walking through a river after Bart cut the rope bridge over it) to get Bart back to class. Bart, upon seeing this, gives us the Buffy-Speak Trope Namer line.
- Mr. Lancer in Danny Phantom is hellbent that his students focus on the Northwestern Nine standardized testing that he calls SWAT teams on them when they get distracted by a popular singer so they can all be house arrested (and presumably, study in preparation). Not to mention both Lancer and the principal installed advanced tutoring computers in order to get all the students to pass.
- In some of the older Disney cartoons, Donald Duck was often seen playing an implacable truant officer trying to get his nephews to school (sort of ironic considering Donald himself had a truancy problem in an earlier short, and had to have his good angel literally boot him in the butt to be well behaved).
- Once he finally took his nephews to school, he learned the school wouldn't open that day.
- Like in the above case, Little Audrey spent most of an episode trying to avoid a truant officer. Once he finally caught her, he learned the school was closed for a holiday. To make up for it, he helped Audrey with her fishing.
- Truant Officer Shallowgrave goes to whatever length to ensure kids go to school. But the principal has to pay extra to bring them back alive. Shallowgrave appeared in two episodes so far. In the first, he spent most of it chasing Timmy Turner, only to learn Timmy was with Adam West and that Timmy's parents don't mind it. In the second episode, it was revealed the incident cost Shallowgrave his job as a truant officer and he became a drill sergeant at F.U.N. (For Unruly Ne'er-do-well) Academy.
- Ricochet Rabbit and his deputy once acted as truant officers to take Dastardly Dolton to school. (He's a suspected criminal as well but nothing has been proven). Once they caught him, the teacher read the records and found out they also hasn't finished school.
- Huckleberry Hound spent most of an episode trying to catch a pair of twin truants. In the end, his efforts paid off and the principal comments that it should have been no problem for someone who went to school. Huck said he's never been to school and was forced to attend.
- In the non-silent era of Pink Panther, there was a story where Pink was a teacher and the Principal ordered him to make a troublemaker interested in school. Pink took the boy to a park and the Principal followed them to get proof to convince his superior to fire Pink. In the end, not only an accident destroyed his proof but his superior, who was the boy's grandmother, fired him.