23 TV Shows and Movies to Watch Before Graduating

Seniors, graduation is only a few weeks away, and what is left of our high school career can be spent celebrating our departure from high school. What’s better than watching TV shows and movies that prompt us to do so?


Kamille Simon

Graduating high school has been at the forefront of seniors’ minds since the third quarter. And in just a few short weeks, the day will finally arrive.

Kamille Simon and Alyssa Yoon

Watching our favorite television show characters turn their tassels for their on-screen graduations usually signaled the end of the season or the series. Witnessing these graduations felt bittersweet at the time, but those feelings don’t compare to how deep they resonate as we approach our own graduation in a few short weeks. We have compiled a list ranking of our top 23 quintessential graduation television show episodes and movies that we encourage graduating seniors to watch before walking across the graduation stage. 

“High School Musical 3: Senior Year”

This film is the final movie from the “High School Musical” trilogy. The familiar faces of Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay, Chad, Ryan, and Taylor reappear on screen for their final hurrah at East High before graduating. With the help of an exceedingly hefty budget, this film features greatly crafted songs and choreography that tell an engaging story that comes to a bittersweet end. This movie beautifully captures what it feels like to make tough decisions about college, say goodbye to longtime friends and partners, and open the doors to the future. Senior Shruta Thum has spent the majority of her childhood watching the “High School Musical” franchise, but she revisits it for her last few weeks of high school. “High School Musical 3 is such a feel-good movie,” Thum said. “As a kid, we all look up to these high schoolers and that is what they expect their high school experience to be like. So watching it again, as a high schooler is a very big full circle moment.” “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” can be streamed on Disney Plus. 

“Gilmore Girls” – Season 3, Episode 22 “Those Are Strings, Pinocchio” 

This episode features the high school graduation of Rory Gilmore, an only-child to a single-mother who was a teen mom, as she prepares to go to Yale University. In this episode, viewers may get teary-eyed watching Rory deliver her valedictorian speech to a large audience and her packed row of supportive friends and family. This episode can be streamed on Netflix. 

“Hannah Montana” – Season 4, Episode 12 “I Am Mamaw, Hear Me Roar!”

In this episode of the final season of “Hannah Montana,” Miley graduates surrounded by friends and family. This episode captures the actual graduation from high school; however, the rest of the following episodes are centered around new beginnings. The last few episodes of this series are quite emotional and feature two of the saddest songs: “I’ll Always Remember You” and “Wherever I Go;” both of which emphasize the sentiment of not forgetting those who are most important, even when you are leaving them for good. These episodes can be streamed on Disney Plus. 

Boy Meets World” – Season 5, Episode 24 “Graduation”

This episode can be enjoyed by the show’s fans and those who have never even watched the show. To the surprise of everyone, the Yale-bound valedictorian, Topanga Lawrence gives up her spot on stage for her speech to her lesser-achieving classmate Shawn Hunter. Hunter expresses how the end of high school comes with some conflicting feelings. This episode can be streamed on Disney Plus. 

“College Road Trip”

James is an overprotective father who is soon sending and driving his daughter Melanie off to college, halfway across the country. This trip is full of absolutely hysterical hiccups, and everything that could go wrong, goes wrong. However, all of it ends up to be worth it, and James and Melanie share a tender send-off. This scene is an absolute tear-jerker, and resonates so deeply with seniors who will do the same in just a few short months. “College Road Trip” can be streamed on Disney Plus. 

“Gossip Girl” – Season 2, Episode 25 “The Goodbye Gossip Girl”

After learning about the unrealistic but entertaining high school experience that characters Blair, Chuck, Serena, Nate, and Dan have endured, this episode features their graduation from the Constance Billard School. But in this town, a graduation can never be executed perfectly. “Gossip Girl” shakes things up by sending out a damaging email blast during the commencement ceremony as they say their goodbyes to their high school classmates. This episode can be streamed on HBO Max.

“The O.C.” – Season 3, Episode 25 “The Graduates” 

It’s graduation day for Seth, Ryan, Marissa, and Summer as they say goodbye to Harbor High School. This episode is filled with happiness, celebration, and an abundance of graduation gifts. With Ryan’s new car, Seth getting into Rhode Island School of Design, Marissa off to her boat journey with her father, and Summer off to Brown University, the future is looking bright for these fresh high school graduates. This episode can be streamed on HBO Max. 

“Glee” – Season 3, Episode 22 “Goodbye” 

This episode features the graduation of the McKinley High Class of 2012, and with it, eight members of the New Directions Glee Club. This includes Rachel, Finn, Quin, Michael, Mercedes, Santana, Puck, and Kurt. With a special performance of Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” by Finn and Puck, the Glee Club says goodbye to the school that started it all. This episode can be streamed on Hulu Premium and Disney Plus. 


Two best friends, Seth and Evan, are invited to their very last high school party and want to make the experience memorable. These boys are on a mission to acquire certain beverages and make romantic advances on girls at the party, all for the sake of going out on a high note before graduation. Viewer discretion is advised as it is R-rated. “Superbad” can be purchased on YouTube, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV. 


This film picks up the night before the main characters, Molly and Amy, graduate high school. Their overachieving in high school caused them to miss out on a variety of rebellious experiences. In order to avoid FOMO, the girls embark on a quest to do it all in one night. This movie is a feel-good comedy that is painfully relatable. Viewer discretion is advised as it is R-rated. “Booksmart” can be streamed on Peacock. 

“The Amazing Spider-Man 2”

Almost missing his own graduation, Peter Parker swings in right on time to walk across the stage and, to the delight of the audience, he locks lips with his girlfriend Gwen Stacy. Unfortunately, he missed Gwen’s inspiring speech about how “time is luck, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” Although the graduation is a small part of this film, it adds an element of suspense that keeps the audience on their toes. This film can be streamed on Hulu premium. 

“One Tree Hill” – Season 4, Episode 20 “The Birth and Death of Day”

It’s finally graduation day in Tree Hill! Brooke, Lucas, and Peyton are getting ready alongside 9-month-pregnant Haley, who is preparing for her valedictorian speech. Alongside her is also her husband, Nathan, who is preparing for the next chapter of his life without basketball. This episode can be streamed on Hulu Premium.

“Riverdale” – Season 5, Episode 3 “Chapter Seventy-Nine: Graduation” 

After witnessing these characters overcome extreme circumstances throughout their high school career, those who are still alive finally made it to graduation. For some of these characters, graduation serves as a harsh reminder of how different their lives were just a few years ago. Betty Cooper’s emotional speech on the graduation stage reminds those in the audience and viewers to “stay young for as long as you can, even if it is only for one more moment.” This episode stresses how difficult it can be to exit the comfort of the present and enter the uncertain future far away from friends and family. This episode can be streamed on Netflix. 

“Wizards of Waverly Place” – Season 4, Episode 18 “Wizards Vs. Asteroids” 

There is an asteroid headed for Earth just in time for Alex Russo’s graduation, and she decides to not let it get in the way of her final days as a high school student. Despite the wreckage, Alex, alongside her best friend Harper, have a quaint and exclusive graduation right inside fallen walls of Tribeca Prep. This episode can be streamed on Disney Plus. 

“Austin & Ally” – Season 4, Episode 17 “Cap and Gown & Can’t be Found” 

It’s time to graduate from Marino High School! Austin, Trish, and Dez are ready, but because of her missing library book, graduation is not looking good for Ally. The team all drop their duties to help Ally find the missing book while Trish spends her last moments staging new memories to add to her yearbook appearances. This episode can be streamed on Disney Plus. 

“Liv and Maddie” – Season 3, Episode 19 “SkyVolt-A-Rooney”

It is graduation day at Ridgewood High as Liv and Maddie say hello to pursuing their future dreams. Maddie is on her way to play basketball at Beloit College, but Liv has to decide whether she wants to give up Skyvolt, the character she plays on her TV show, “Voltage,” or move across the country to pursue her acting career in Los Angeles. At the same time, Joey has finally realized his feelings for Willow, and they live out their entire high school relationship before she leaves for Southern California State University. This episode can be streamed on Disney Plus. 

“Dawson’s Creek” – Season 4, Episode 22 “The Graduate” 

The crew of kids that have been around for four seasons are finally graduating from Capeside High. All of their high school careers have been filled with hardship, sadness, and loss. Some who they expected to be sitting by them at graduation weren’t there to witness it or be a part of it. Joey Potter’s speech reminds her classmates of the whirlwind that was high school. This episode can be streamed on HBO Max. 

“Suite Life on Deck” – Season 3, Episode 22 “Graduation on Deck” 

To close out this six-year-long series, the characters finally graduate high school on board the SS Tipton. With a comedic amount of interruptions, the ship’s sweetest couple, Bailey and Cody, deliver their sentimental speech about moving into the future. Regardless of physical distance, the characters plan to cherish their memories together forever. This episode can be streamed on Disney Plus.  

“That 70s Show” – Season 5, Episode 25 “Celebration Day (a.k.a. Graduation)”

The group we know and love will be heading their separate ways as they say goodbye to Point Place  High School. Eris and Donna are ready to move into their apartment, Hyde and Kelso are waiting on indecisive Jackie as she decides who she wants to be with, and Fez is about to be deported. This episode can be streamed on Peacock or Amazon Prime Video. 

“Modern Family” – Season 2, Episode 23 “See You Next Fall”

It is Alex’s middle school graduation day so the entire family is preparing to attend. But, as per usual, there is chaos in the Pritchett, Dunphy, and Tucker household. While Jay is trying to hide his botox mishap, Haley is trying to convince Alex to not make an anger-filled valedictorian speech, and Cam is also mad at Mitchell for his judgemental actions. In the end, Alex’s speech is flawless, leaving not a single dry-eye in the audience. This episode can be streamed on Hulu Premium or Peacock. 

 “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”

The teens of the saga graduate high school in this movie. Even though it is a minor part of the movie, the graduation scene still hits home for some. Senior Bella Fouladi has watched this movie multiple times, but the graduation scene is different this time around. “I grew up watching Twilight about 100 times,” Fouladi said. “Seeing Anna [Kendrick’s character] give her graduation speech, knowing I’ll be sitting in an audience similar to that in a few weeks, is really heartwarming. It’s surreal; time really flies.” “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” can be rented or purchased on YouTube, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime. 

“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”

As the top of her class, Donna delivers a joyful graduation speech reminiscing about her college experiences and lessons. But, in true Donna fashion, she brings out her Dynamos to deliver an extravagant performance of ABBA’s “When I Kissed The Teacher” as a way to celebrate and congratulate her fellow classmates. This movie can be streamed on Hulu Premium.

“Legally Blonde” 

Coming in last is “Legally Blonde.” Considering the graduation isn’t necessarily relevant to high schoolers, it ranks low on the list. But this movie is a cult classic that everyone should see at some point in their lifetime. Elle Woods is heartbroken over a breakup with her ex-boyfriend Warner. In an attempt to get him back, Elle applies to Harvard Law School. Surprisingly enough, Elle makes it all the way to graduation where she delivers an excellent speech to her fellow graduates.