If you find yourself still admiring teen movie characters as an adult, don't worry — in the case of some teen movie characters, this is not only normal, it's recommended. Because it just so happens that characters like Clueless' Cher, Ferris Bueller's Day Off's Ferris Bueller, and The Princess Diaries' Mia Thermopolis imparted numerous life lessons that proved they were wise beyond their years. Also, they appeared on the scene when we were all at the most impressionable stage of our lives. These teen movie icons had it all: style, wisdom, adventures, and the ability to learn from their mistakes that most people would not develop until years after high school. They were built to stand the test of time and, as a result, they should never stop giving you life goals. The nine teens on this list are still majorly influencing adults and teens alike today.
From the majestic John Hughes era of the '80s straight through to the teenage romcom trend of the late '90s/early '00s and beyond, these characters had their priorities in order, and they were cool in ways I will probably only ever dream about. From the joys of making the most of a day off to learning how to rule a small country, they knew what was up.
The best thing you can do is learn from their inspiring examples, and embrace your inner youngster one more time.
1. Cher, Clueless (1995)
Cher was based on Jane Austen's Emma, so it is no wonder the charming matchmaker is still giving everyone major life envy. It's a combination of style, confidence, and killer vocab that make Cher such a shining example of cool. If I had to narrow her awesomeness down to one attribute it would be her phrase-turning prowess. When a character changes how an entire generation speaks, she is definitely someone to admire.
2. Jess, Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
Going after your dreams is hard at any age, but to know what you want to do as a teenager and to stick to it — even if it means defying your strict parents — takes serious guts. That is exactly what Jess did when she decided she didn't want to choose between her culture and her passion for soccer. Her courage will never stop making me want to strive to make my goals a reality.
3. Ferris, Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
Sure, you can look at Ferris as an advocate for truancy, but I (and, I hope, pretty much everyone else on the planet) prefer to see him as someone who makes the most out of life. Ferris taught his friends an important lesson about being free, seeing the world around you, and stopping long enough to actually have a good time. Those lessons are even more important once you reach adulthood.
4. Mia, The Princess Diaries (2001)
Most people lead ordinary lives, but that doesn't mean every single person isn't special. Mia is a "normal" girl before she finds out she is a princess, and she tries to change herself to fit the royal mode. In truth, Mia was already extraordinary, kind, and brave — she had to learn the lesson that she was already exceptional, with or without a title. Some people go their whole lives without realizing just how amazing they are.
5. Kat, 10 Things About You (1999)
Being fierce, a little angry, and full of passion is never a bad thing. Kat knew where she stood on all the big subjects: feminism, environmentalism, and how much high school sucked — but she was also super guarded. Over the course of the movie, she learns the value of taking chances and allowing herself to be vulnerable. These are scary lessons to learn, but they should be on everyone's list of life goals.
6. Isis, Bring It On (2000)
It seemed like the whole world was working against Isis during Bring It On, but she stood up for her team, crafted flawless cheers, and got to the regionals on her own terms. She was the ultimate leader, and her unwillingness to give up led to victory. Add in the part where she was a graceful winner, and you have someone so well-rounded she makes everyone else around her look like a total mess.
7. Andie, Pretty in Pink (1986)
Nothing was easy about Andie's life, but her refusal to let a bunch of popular kids make her feel like she was somehow lesser than them will always be inspiring. Andie was resourceful and resilient, which only made her look all the stronger when she got her happy ending.
8. Fat Amy, Pitch Perfect (2012)
Fat Amy completely owns who she is: She is secure in herself and her abilities. In addition to that, she is also naturally hilarious and quick on her feet. I envy everything about her basically.
9. Olive, Easy A (2010)
Not only does Olive take control of her own narrative and embrace a label that most people use as a slur, she does it all on her terms — including ending her own charade. Olive is herself a product of teen movies and they taught her well. She is a fully self-possessed heroine with a snarky, smart awesomeness everyone should aspire to have.
With teen characters this cool is it any wonder they are still giving everyone life goals?
Images: Paramount Pictures; Giphy (9)