Degrassi may have jumped ship from traditional TV to Netflix streaming, but its TV legacy can never be forgotten. The Canadian teen-centric TV show is one part after school special, one part scandalous drama and all parts awesome. Throughout its 15 year run (and that’s not even counting the ’80s show it was based on with the same title) the series covered hard-to-tackle topics like self-injury, suicide, homosexuality and teen pregnancy.
With all these hard-hitting issues — including banned episodes — it’s hard to pick which ones encompass the best parts of the series. Everyone has a favorite Degrassi moment, but here are the 10 episodes that standout the most to us.
10. Weird Science (Season 2, Episode 5)
This is the one where Spinner gets random boners. It’s a classic for that reason alone, and also the only humorous episode on our list.
9. Pride (Season 3, Episodes 4 & 5)
“Pride” is the iconic two-part episode where Marco finally comes out as gay. In this episode, Ellie has had enough with pretending to be Marco’s girlfriend, and Marco has to decide on whether or not to come out. Marco secretly comes out to Spinner, who can’t handle the fact that he’s gay. Spinner writes slurs on the wall which The N actually edited out in the American version to be less offensive (the other f-word is really terrible).
Marco struggles with the decision to tell more of his friends, and on the way to a hockey game, he is attacked by a group of homophobic guys who beat him up and smash his phone. Jimmy is worried after Marco doesn’t answer his phone and goes to look for him. After Jimmy finds Marco with a police officer, he shows his support, and Marco realizes that the good people in his life will be there for him. Jimmy says, “It’s okay, Marco… I’m here, buddy. I’m right here, and I’m not going anywhere. ” Drake has always been so sensitive!
8. Rock This Town (Season 6, Episode 11)
In this tragic episode, JT is murdered at Liberty’s birthday party when a group of kids from a rival school stab him. Not only is it tragic because JT was one of the most goofy, kind-hearted characters on the show, but Liberty, who finds him after he was stabbed and screams for help, already had an immense loss earlier in the series when she had to give up their baby for adoption. In this episode, he rejects her again even though he still has feelings for her. She’ll never know he loved her. Tears. Literal tears.
7. Shout (Season 2, Episodes 7 & 8)
This episode deals with the difficult topic of date rape. In this two-parter, Paige comes to terms with the fact that she was date raped at a party by a guy she thought was really, really cute. It’s particularly important because Degrassi does an excellent job at showing what it’s actually like without ever seeming overtly cheesy or cliche (and a cheerleader getting assaulted at a house party can easily tread that line).
In the episode, Paige tells Hazel she had sex with Dean. When Hazel confronts her about it in the bathroom, she says she didn’t even want to have sex. Hazel tells her she was raped, though Paige still feels like it’s her fault. Paige keeps the rape a secret until she is performing in a battle of the bands with her band PMS. She battles with the idea of singing a song about the incident, an ultimately sings the lyrics in question when she spots Dean at the battle of the bands. Eventually, she seeks counseling.
6. Live To Tell (Season 7, Episode 12)
“Live To Tell” is another episode that deals with rape. Though this episode airs later than some of the more classic Degrassi episodes, it’s important because it shows a different side than “Shout.” Where Paige dealt with her rape in a healthy, rational way, Darcy struggles to cope. Darcy is self destructive and goes down a path of promiscuity, lies and suicidal behavior.
In this episode, Darcy finds a confidant in Mr. Simpson but continuously makes sexual advances towards him. Of course, Mr. Simpson tells her stop, but during the confrontation, she becomes suicidal. He holds a meeting with her mom, the principal and a counselor, in hopes that she will admit to the rape and get the help she needs. Instead, she accuses Mr. Simpson of making sexual advances towards her, and he loses his job. She later attempts to jump off a roof after Peter refuses to have sex with her, but Manny talks her down.
5. Our Lips Are Sealed (Season 5, Episodes 15 & 16)
In this dramatic episode, Emma deals with anorexia. Emma’s parents are having relationship problems and she feels like she’s lacking control in her life. When Manny asks for help losing some weight, Emma’s diet plan becomes an obsession. The episode ends with Manny, Emma’s parents and her boyfriend holding an intervention. Emma has a panic attack and collapses. She ends up in the hospital, and Manny tells Emma that she’s going to die if she doesn’t stop doing what she’s doing. Emma swears that she’s going to overcome her illness.
4. My Body Is A Cage (Season 10, Episodes 15 & 16)
In this important episode, Degrassi introduces their first transgender character, Adam Torres. Prior to this groundbreaking episode, there was virtually no transgender visibility on teen-centered TV shows. This two-part episode shows Adam struggle with his gender identity. Adam deals with hiding the fact that he has his period and binds his breasts. When his crush finds out, she gets angry and rips open his shirt in front of the whole school. Adam also is harassed in school once students find out, though he does have a group of supportive friends.
3. Secret (Season 4, Episodes 14 & 15)
This episode has long been held as one of Degrassi’s most iconic. “Secret” is the first time Emma, who was a relatively one-dimensional goody-two-shoes, lets out a little bit of her wild side. Of course, because it’s Degrassi, it ends very poorly.
In the episode, Emma is sick of people feeling sorry for her after the school shooting. To shake things up, she meets Jay at the ravine and gives him oral sex in a van. She gets a much-coveted sex bracelet (making her teen royalty) and also a (not-so-coveted) STI.
This episode also deals with Craig’s bipolar disorder, making it an important one for real-life teen issues all around.
2. Accidents Will Happen (Season 3, Episodes 14 & 15)
“Accidents Will Happen” is one of the most controversial episodes of the entire series. When it originally aired in 2004, it was banned in the United States before airing on The N in 2006.
In the two-part episode, Manny realizes she’s pregnant with Craig’s baby. She turns to Emma’s mother for support and decides to get an abortion. Emma is wildly unsupportive about her decision and shockingly, so is Craig, who wants to raise the baby with her. Emma eventually steps in and tells Manny to do what feels best. Manny tells her mom and they go to the abortion clinic.
1. Time Stands Still (Season 4, Episodes 7 & 8)
Champagne Papi wasn’t always a rap super star. Before he was Drake, Aubrey Graham played Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi. This is perhaps the most iconic episode of the entire show, in part because of Drake’s popularity.
In this two-parter, Spinner and Jimmy bully Rick, who had previously been physically abusive to his girlfriend Terri (he put her in a coma — WTF Degrassi!). It all comes to a head during a quiz show between Degrassi and another school named Northern. Spinner and Jay had planned a Carrie-esque prank, and when Rick wins the quiz show, a bucket of yellow paint and feathers falls on him while the entire auditorium laughs. Rick goes home, realizes his parents aren’t there, steals a gun and returns to school — dramatically still covered in the paint and feathers. He ends up shooting Jimmy in the back before killing himself. Jimmy becomes paralyzed from his injuries and spends the rest of the series in a wheelchair.
Did we miss an episode? Tell us in the comments!