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67 Truly Iconic "Degrassi" Moments

There's a reason it keeps coming back. Warning: some topics mentioned may be distressing for some readers.

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The Degrassi franchise began in 1979 with The Kids Of Degrassi Street, and over its lengthy time on air (which has been extended thanks to Netflix and the Family Channel), the program has tackled a range of issues with honesty and sensitivity. Here's just a snapshot of some of the most iconic moments to grace the halls of Degrassi.

1. When Stephanie Kaye started swapping kisses for votes during her campaign for president.

CBC Television

The slogan and chant "All the way with Stephanie Kaye" eventually became a catchphrase for the show, along with one of the more enduring lines. This was also the first episode of Degrassi Junior High and Stephanie's kissing campaign really set the tone for the rest of the series.

2. When Arthur and Yick first met.

CBC Television

Before Emma and Manny there was Arthur and Yick, the original BFF's who probably helped you understand the trials and tribulations of friendship. You wanted your own Yick or Arthur by your side in some way, even if they weren't always suave.

3. When Joey sold Kathleen and Melanie vitamin pills and pretended they were drugs.

"No pills no thrills". Joey, please. You couldn't help but laugh at how they both fell for the fake pills and how ridiculous Joey looked in those glasses.

4. When Spike found out she was pregnant at 14 and used Eggbert to help prepare her.

CBC Television

Teen pregnancy was still a little taboo at this time (after all, it was the '80s), but Degrassi Junior High really nailed this storyline, so much so that the show even won an Emmy Award for "It's Late," the episode about Spike's pregnancy.

8. When Caitlin had an epileptic seizure at a sleepover.

Caitlin writhing on the floor was a confronting and standout scene for the season and the writers should be applauded for how they dealt with it without any dramatic music or cheesy lines. Caitlin’s acceptance of herself also played a huge part and learning she has nothing to be ashamed about was another winning element.

9. When Michelle's racist parents told her she couldn't see B.L.T.

CBC Television

It was really infuriating to watch such racism play out and it undoubtedly made your blood boil. It was probably the first time you were exposed to the potential challenges of an inter-racial relationship and the intolerance that's often attached.

10. When Caitlin starts having ~dreams~ about her teacher, Ms. Avery.

This could have played out like a cheesy soap opera scenario, but it actually turned out to be an accurate depiction of teenage hormones and confusion.

11. When Kathleen struggled with an eating disorder which resulted in her fainting at school.

CBC Television

Before magazines and other shows were openly discussing eating disorders, Degrassi was shedding light on how harmful they truly are. This cut the bullshit and really hit the nail on the head.

12. When Snake's big brother Glen told him he's gay.

Plenty of students have opened up about their sexuality on Degrassi, but Glen was the first gay character to appear on the entire franchise. Also, props to Glen for refusing to return home until his family could accept him. You were rooting for his acceptance.

13. When Wheels' adoptive parents died in a drunk driving collision.

CBC Television

This was completely upsetting on so many levels. You wanted to hug your own parent or guardian twice as much after seeing this because the funeral scene was just so emotional.

14. When Dwayne found out he was HIV positive and Joey respected his privacy by keeping it a secret despite the pair being enemies.

To this day, HIV still isn't widely covered in the media, so for Degrassi to sensitively, yet honestly shed light on it all those years ago really says a lot about the maturity and progressiveness of the program.

15. When Snake found Claude's body in the school bathroom.

CBC Television

Friendly reminder that this was a children's program and yet it still tackled the tough, confronting issues. As a child or an adult, this is still incredibly hard to watch but it's easy to appreciate the strong storyline and writing. Snake would later go on to reference this moment as an adult and school principal in season 12 of Degrassi: The Next Generation.

16. When L.D. developed leukemia and wanted to keep it a secret.

It really opened up your eyes and made you feel for L.D., and on top of that, it was a really frightening concept. You just don't even consider this type of outcome when you're young. L.D. was also the first character in the entire franchise to be diagnosed with leukemia (Snake was the second).

17. When Erica made the decision to have an abortion and became a target for bullying.

CBC Television

This expertly dealt with the issue of abortion in an objective way and showed what people can experience and feel while dealing with a such a challenging decision.

19. When Kathleen was the victim of an abusive relationship.

CBC Television

There was a strong sense of authenticity to this relationship which made the scenes between these two hard to watch. This taught you about emotional manipulation and that it's not as simple as just leaving.

20. When Caitlin asked fiancé Joey if he was "fucking Tessa Campanelli".

Spoiler: He was, and it broke your damn heart. Also iconic because Stacie Mistysyn, who played Caitlin, became the second person to say "fuck" on Canadian television just seconds after Snake became the first.

21. When Next Generation started and you got to see your old favourites again, plus a whole new cast.

This whole episode was a perfect transition to the new Degrassi universe. The writers included beloved characters from the original generation while also introducing a fresh cast. It was like seeing old friends again with Joey, Lucy, Snake, Caitlin and Spike all back together.

24. When Emma channeled her mother by wearing her classic hairdo.

SO ADORABLE. It was literally history repeating and it was too cute. Every Degrassi fan has either attempted or wondered how this hairstyle was even possible and it was sweet to see the show pay tribute to Spike's famous hair.

26. When Ashley took ecstasy and called her best friend a "hag" and cheated on her boyfriend, Jimmy.

CTV

This was the beginning of some huge character development for Ashley and it's what launched her "emo/goth" phase which was actually pretty iconic too tbh. This was one of the last times we ever saw Ashley as her "old self" because once she entered the second season of Next Gen, she was almost a different person.

27. When Spinner got an erection in class and you couldn't help but laugh about it.

CTV

The embarrassment. The laughter. The boner. This had it all. Also probably the first time you ever saw a boner on TV which is important.

28. When Terri realised how beautiful she was and stood up for herself after a stranger tried to comment on her weight.

CTV

A body positive moment on a HUGE show which could influence thousands of over people? Yassss, you wanted to punch the air in VICTORY.

29. When Caitlin and Joey rekindled their legendary romance as adults.

Caitlin and Joey were always epic and you have to thank the writers for appreciating the fan base enough to bring these two back as a couple, even if it didn't exactly work out. Longtime franchise fans were flooded with nostalgia because honestly, this couple has spanned generations.

31. When Emma got her period for the first time and shut down anyone who wanted to embarrass her for it.

This was the perfect burn which empowered every young woman and probably unleashed a few young feminists too.

32. When it was revealed Craig's father was physically abusive.

CTV

You really just wanted to hug Craig and tell him to find a safe place because he was so fragile in these scenes. Thankfully, he eventually did that on his own.

34. When Spinner acted homophobic towards Marco and it broke your heart.

Dealing with homophobic strangers is difficult enough, but dealing with a homophobic friend is next level. This sparked an important conversation even though it shattered your soul.

35. And when Marco was attacked by a group of homophobic strangers and Jimmy rushed to be by his side.

Marco was always a sweet, honest character and this was just an unfair, awful moment. The only positive is that it exposed you to what a hate crime is, and aimed to teach a lesson about tolerance and equality.

36. When J.T. and Liberty FINALLY kissed.

CTV

FINALLLYYYYYYYYY. Liberty wanted J.T. for so long and she GOT HIM. Even though she was annoying at times, you really loved Liberty for literally never giving up on her boy crush.

37. When Emma finally met her father and Degrassi alumni, Shane.

This was iconic for two reasons: The writers brought back Shane and also gave a perspective on a different family structure. Not everyone has a father present, and Emma grew to accept that.

38. When Manny told Craig she was pregnant with his child.

The regret in Manny's eyes, the look on Craig's face. Degrassi dealt with this beautifully, and let's never forget when Manny later defended herself by pointing out that Craig cheated on his girlfriend, "but no one ever talks about that".

39. And when she eventually chose to terminate the pregnancy.

Before this, Degrassi had already dealt with abortion and pregnancy, but this introduced the topics to a new generation. The two-part episode "Accidents Will Happen" was even viewed as so controversial that the story line was either edited or went un-aired in some countries.

40. When Ellie opened up to Paige about her struggle with self harm.

It was a raw moment and truly made you feel for Ellie, but ultimately it also gave some exposure to the issue of self harm, which up until this time, wasn't given much limelight.

41. When Hell Hath No Fury made you want to join a girl band.

CTV

You really wanted to buy a shirt with Craig Manning's face on it. Also one of the best Degrassi bands, which were always such a big part of the franchise.

42. When Manny flashed Peter on camera and declared she was "gonna be famous".

CTV

Another one of Manny's defining moments as a character. You 100% wanted to slap Peter because she was drunk and totally took advantage of her.

46. When Paige found the strength to deliver this speech after struggling with her sexual assault.

The writers didn't just throw away this storyline, instead they carefully continued it for many episodes, emphasizing the seriousness. Another example of the franchise treading delicately and really pulling things off.

47. When Terri was forcefully pushed by Rick and cut her head open on a rock.

CTV Television

You didn't see this coming and the blood really freaked you out. This is what started the chain of events that would lead to arguably the most memorable Degrassi moment, or at the very least, the biggest moment in season four: the shooting.

48. When Rick brought a gun to Degrassi and shot Jimmy before being fatally wounded.

It's hard to pick the ultimate iconic moment, but if fans absolutely had to, this would easily be a contender. This wasn't just a random event and although it could have come across as some kind of soap TV moment, it didn't. There was something about the vulnerability of it all which made it so memorable.

49. When Jimmy had to adjust to life in a wheelchair and give up his dream of playing basketball.

CTV

Although this was hard to accept, it was an important way of exploring disability. Jimmy not only had to face rehabilitation, but he also eventually had to deal with disrespect and ignorance from able-bodied individuals.

51. When Emma ripped her dress off to protest Purple Dragon.

CTV

Emma was no stranger to protests but this was easily her biggest and you didn't know if you should cheer or cringe because her stepdad Snake was in the audience.

52. When Craig suffered a nosebleed on stage after using cocaine, causing him to realise he had a drug addiction.

Ellie also played a big part in this moment because her unrequited feelings for Craig made it so hard to watch this happen. You wanted to root for Craig but he made it so hard at times. How could he just repeatedly lie to his friends?

53. When J.T. died and you didn't even know you could feel so many emotions.

What can you even say about this? It hurt. It was awful. You probably cried. J.T. had been on the show for so long that you even witnessed him grow up. To see him ripped away in the dark was horrible.

54. When Spinner and Emma got married and literally all you could think was WHAT ABOUT SEAN?

Teen Nick

Emma and Sean should've been endgame and this was weird for every fan on so many levels. It was mostly just so random because these two had barely even interacted on the show, like, WTF???

55. When Paige and Alex kissed for the first time and you probably squealed with joy.

CTV

Two iconic characters and one iconic relationship. You probably still ship this because of how damn sweet it was.

56. When Ellie called Caitlin Ryan a "slut" in front of a huge crowd and you literally couldn't believe it.

CTV

Ellie was a great character, but no one gets to slut shame THE Caitlin Ryan (or, you know, slut shame anyone in general).

57. When Degrassi introduced Adam and you fell in love instantly.

Adam was the first transgender teen character to appear as a series regular on a scripted television show and that is truly iconic.

59. When Eli and Clare first met.

Teen Nick

This was literally the beginning of the next big Degrassi romance and you could even feel it coming at the time. Love it or hate it, Eclare is easily up there with Joey and Caitlin and Emma and Sean.

60. When Cam took his own life and you were once again reminded of how intense Degrassi can be.

Degrassi dealt with death and suicide before Cam but like always, they put a fresh perspective on it and didn't just spend one episode on the issue. They gave the storyline respect and attention and also looked at the aftermath and people affected.

61. When Jenna and K.C. gave their baby up for adoption because they knew they couldn't give him the life he deserved.

Teen Nick

Unlike other pregnancy and adoption story lines, this one had the parents bond with their baby first which just made it harder to watch. You questioned how they could do it but also knew it was ultimately the right thing.

63. When Bianca ended her engagement with Drew despite everything they went through.

Teen Nick

No, really, they went through A LOT. There was literally a gang involved at some point. You were angry the show just seemed to abruptly end their relationship and it doesn't seem fair that these two didn't last.

64. When Spinner randomly popped up at The Dot four years after his last appearance.

Teen Nick

It's always the best when characters return and you can't deny you squealed with joy. Also, he had no wedding ring, did his marriage with Emma disintegrate?

65. When Clare and Eli found out they lost their baby.

MTV

You didn't even need to hear them speak about what had just happened, you could see on their faces exactly how they felt and it almost killed you.

66. When the school honored Adam at graduation.

MTV

You probably weren't expecting to see Adam pop up again in the series and it basically ripped your heart out. You still want a solid reason why the writers had to kill him off.