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It's your freshman year and you're gonna be here
—Taylor Swift, "Fifteen"
There's something about the Big Man on Campus that drives all the girls wild... even the ones that know he is sooo out of their league. If the dorky girl wants the most popular guy at school, it usually happens in two ways: the two end up together, or she finds out that he's actually a huge jerk. Sometimes all it takes is a makeover to get the guy to notice the girl. If he ends up returning her feelings, often his ex-girlfriend the Alpha Bitch will get jealous. Classmates will wonder what the quarterback is doing with the nerd. This version is common Wish Fulfillment often seen in shows aimed at tweens and in chick flicks. If it doesn't work out between them, expect there to be An Aesop, usually something like "Don't change yourself for a jerk" or "Popularity isn't everything".
All Guys Want Cheerleaders is often the gender-flipped version of this trope.
Anime and Manga
- Extremely common in Shojo anime and manga. Some examples:
- In Charisma Doll, Sara likes Hayase, who's the most popular guy. He's also a huge popstar, so that's why he's so popular. He actually likes Sara's alter ego popstar personality Sala.
- Sadako likes Kazehaya in Kimi ni Todoke. This is actually played with in the series because her love is requited by him, but because she's a loner.
- In ION, Ion has a huge crush on the most popular guy and Student Council President, Koki.
- In Himekei Doll, Ayumu is obsessed with Renji, who's not only popular, but a fashion designer as well.
- In a Shonen example, Sakura (of Naruto), has an infatuation with Sasuke, which is one of her defining traits, particularly at the beginning. It is also totally unrequited, with Sasuke often calling Sakura out for being average. Of course, this is often Played for Laughs, as almost every girl in Naruto is obsessed with Sasuke, particularly while they're still in the Academy. The competition over Sasuke has had such results as ending friendships, causing fights in classrooms, and trampling innocent bystanders.
- Most of Tohru's homeroom think this is going on between her and the very popular Yuki. Subverted in the end, as he does hook up with the shy and usually-overlooked Machi, but he is the one who falls for her first.
- Gabriella liking Troy in High School Musical. She's a total Hollywood Nerd though and her love is requited.
- Sleepover has this with Julie liking the most popular guy, even though he's "out of her league".
- Played straight in A Cinderella Story. Supposedly dorky and unattractive Sam (Hilary Duff in a baseball cap) likes the Big Man on Campus and quarterback.
- Except that Sam doesn't like Austin because everyone else does. At the beginning she seems to think he's just another Jerk Jock, and she doesn't spare him any real thought until she finds out that he's Nomad.
- In Thirteen Going On Thirty, Jenna Rink wants to be with the most popular guy. She gets put in the closet with him playing "Seven Minutes In Heaven", and it turns out to be a mean prank. When she magically becomes 30 years old, she finds out that he becomes a fat taxi driver.
- In the movie Teen Witch, the nerdy girl Louise wants the most popular guy. She uses her magically gained popularity to try to fall in love with him.
- The obnoxiousness of this was pointed out many a time by The Nostalgia Chick.
- Sixteen Candles, Sam has a crush on Jake Ryan the whole movie. He's curious about her, and then comes to like her back.
- In the Disney Channel movie Read It and Weep, the dorky protagonist likes Marco Vega, the most popular and hot guy in school.
- In another Disney Channel movie, Suzie Q, the girl tries to change herself so the popular guy likes her.
- In Never Been Kissed, the sweet but dorky Josie likes the Big Man on Campus but gets humiliated by him.
- Similar to Thirteen Going On Thirty, Romy of Romy and Michele's High School Reunion crushed hard on the popular guy in high school who supurned her affections at the prom. At the reunion we find he's a loser unhappily married to the Alpha Bitch.
- Hairspray, in all incarnations, features this, though Link Larkin is genuinely nice in the end and it doesn't take a makeover to get him to notice Tracy.
- In the goofy film adaptation of The Brady Bunch, Marcia single-mindedly pursues the very cute but jerkish Doug specifically because "he's the Big Man on Campus." This has a different result than the similar situation in the original show (see below).
- Carter, in Princess Protection Program, had a crush on Donny since third grade. Everyone who knows her, even her enemies, knows about it. At the dance, when She Cleans Up Nicely and he finally notices her, she turns him down flat. "Before I put on this dress, you couldn't even remember my name." (She's right. His inability to remember her name was actually a running gag throughout the movie.)
- In Bras and Broomsticks, Rachel likes the hottest guy. She uses her sister's new witch powers to try to get him to fall in love with her.
- In The Princess Diaries, Mia has a huge crush on Josh, the most popular guy (who's a huge jerk). He only pretends to like her once she finds out she's a princess.
- Deconstructed in Carrie, where it does not end well for anybody involved.
- Amy liking Ian near the start of The 39 Clues series.
- In The House Of The Night, Zoey catches the eye of Erik, who's repeatedly referred to as "the hottest guy in the school" and makes practically all girls swoon while thinking about how gorgeous he is. True to this trope's description, his ex-girlfriend is the Alpha Bitch Aphrodite who is not amused when she finds out about his relationship with Zoey. They eventually break up, though, mainly because of Zoey's utter inability to not throw herself at every hot guy who crosses her path.
- Awkward: Played straight with both of Jenna's love interests
- The Brady Bunch: Marcia gets a crush on Doug Simpson, the Big Man on Campus. She actually manages to get a date with him but he ditches the date once he sees her bruised, broken nose.
- Glee does this, with Rachel's crush on Finn. He seems to like her, but doesn't like that he gets ostracized by his friends for being with her.
- Lizzie McGuire: Lizzie likes Ethan Kraft for the entire series. Her love is unrequited.
- Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: Level-headed Moze surprisingly does fall for Seth, the Big Man on Campus Brainless Beauty who doesn't do much but spin a basketball on his hand. He does end up liking her, but she realises he's a waste of time.
- Never Have I Ever: Zig-Zagged with Devi and Paxton.
- Riverdale: Played with for Archie and Betty, as Archie wasn't the most popular guy in school/BMOC when Betty fell for him, but he becomes this when they return to school in their sophomore year.
- Robin Hood: Half the outlaws have a crush on Kate, but she only has eyes for Robin Hood.
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Sabrina for Harvey, obviously.
- Only in the 1996 live-action show. He is a regular guy in the comics (and its more faithful adaptions.)
- Sonadoras: In this Mexican telenovela, nerdy Lucia falls for popular Gerardo. But Gerardo pines for beautiful dancer Emilia, who loves somebody else. Subverted in that Lucia does get Gerardo in the end- after a makeover involving creating Lucia into an alter ego cousin named Adriana goes wrong!
- Unfabulous: Addy has a crush on Jake, the coolest guy at school. It comes as a shock to everyone when he and she actually end up dating.
- The speaker in "You Belong With Me", that Taylor Swift song that we all love.
- Subverted in that the nerdy girl and the popular guy are actually close friends. The song actually gives the impression that it had been a case of Single Guy Seeks Most Popular Girl, with the newly not-single guy's friend being left behind. Which makes you wonder why she still likes him, honestly, as apparently he's dating a pretty, popular girl because she looks good in short skirts and high heels, even though they apparently have nothing in common at all.
- Also applies to Teardrops On My Guitar. Also subverted in that the speaker and the object of her affections (Drew) are good friends but she wishes that he would break up with his girlfriend and start dating her instead.
- Riley in The Replacements, on Yandere levels.
- My Little Pony Tales had Starlight crushing on Ace. Unfortunately for her, Ace was a massive Jerkass who was often the closest thing this incarnation of the series had to an antagonist. No matter how badly he treated her, however, she continued to pine after him... uselessly, since he had his own hopeless crush on her friend Melody.
- Spinelli for T.J. in Recess, as hinted in a few episodes. Various episodes show that he likes her as well.
- Singer Katy Perry went back and performed at her old high school, and took the time to single out the football star she had a big crush on, who never noticed her. Shane Lopes is a football coach at his old high school now, and Katy kind of rubbed it in. A ton. Class act.