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Updated on Jul 1, 2020. Posted on Jun 28, 2020

22 Times Teen Dramas Reallyyyy Stepped Out Of Their Lane

I didn't hate all these, but...did they need to happen?

Teen dramas are campy, overdramatic, and fun.

The CW

And that's how they're supposed to be.

But every once in a while they step out of their lane and do something that's just...odd.

The CW

1. Like when One Tree Hill pretended it was It's a Wonderful Life.

The CW

AKA, Keith (who was dead, BTW) showed up and presented to Lucas what Tree Hill would be like if he was a dick. Peyton was dead, Brooke was goth, and Karen was the worst. I think the most awkward part of this was that...Lucas kind of was a dick in real life.

2. Or when it gave Nathan a coma dream about what would've happened if Dan had chosen Karen and not Deb.

The WB

Ah, yes. The first of many AU coma dreams. I really don't think these happen in real life?

3. Similarly, when The O.C. gave Ryan a coma dream where he'd never moved in with the Cohens.

Fox

What is it with teen shows and having their characters dream up alternate universes while in a coma?? The entire premise of the show is Ryan coming to the O.C. — that's what makes it interesting! Does it really matter what would've happened if he hadn't??

4. When One Tree Hill had a couple episodes in a weird dream state where ghost Clay and Quinn watched themselves struggling to live.

The CW

Why did they make these poor teen drama actors pretend they were in a mix of The Invisible and Just Like Heaven?

5. And when it had an episode inexplicably set in the 1920s.

The CW

Why do teen dramas want to be old movies so badly??

6. Similarly, when Pretty Little Liars had a "noir" episode in black and white.

Freeform

What is it with teen dramas and dream episodes?? I have never had a dream this vivid!!

7. When Pretty Little Liars had Ali get haunted by Mona's ghost.

Freeform

Was It's a Wonderful Life a good movie? Yes. Does it need to be brought into every teen drama??? No! Also, Mona turned out to not actually be dead!

8. And randomly had the ghostly twin from one of Ali's stories show up at Hanna's house??

Freeform

And then she just disappeared and was never spoken of again??

9. When Pretty Little Liars decided to introduce psychic visions and a haunted town.

Freeform

This was basically the backdoor pilot for the show's weird ghost spinoff with Caleb — need I say more? Between the 19th century costumes, Mrs. Grunwald's psychic visions, and Caleb seeing his own grave, this episode was just so odd. We did get to see Alison alive for the first time though, which was fun.

10. Similarly, when Riverdale dabbled in the supernatural in Season 3.

The CW

They later explained away the baby levitation as a hallucination, and the gargoyle king ended up being human, but I still feel like some of this HAD to be supernatural.

11. When Riverdale had Archie kill himself in a dream world.

The CW

This is by far the weirdest thing that has ever happened on Riverdale. Archie got mauled by a bear and then spent an episode in a dream state where his friends turned against him and he had to beat a version of himself with a baseball bat to "kill his past self." Even for Riverdale, this was too much.

12. When Riverdale turned into a musical without actually putting on a musical.

The CW

I know a lot of people feel some type of way about Riverdale's musical episodes, but I actually liked both the Carrie and Heathers episodes. Both were centered around a school play so (some of) the singing made sense, and both carried the plot forward. However, the Hedwig and the Angry Inch episode really fell flat. The season already kind of felt over and it didn't add anything plot-wise, and the whole talent show angle was weak.

13. When Riverdale ripped off The Breakfast Club.

The CW

It was kind of fun to see the actors play younger versions of their parents, but the Gryphons and Gargoyles plotline was already campy and ridiculous enough without this weird flashback (which, by the way, revealed that Penelope was adopted by the Blossoms in order to marry their son???).

14. And when Gossip Girl ripped off Valley Girl.

The CW

This weird flashback to the '80s was cute, but it was basically just Valley Girl. Why did Gossip Girl think we cared enough about Carol (and even Lily) to see this?? Plus, the New York setting was half of Gossip Girl — going to 1980s Los Angeles was just so out of place.

15. When Gossip Girl put on a Lady Gaga musical.

Lady Gaga performing on a stage in a red dress
The CW

I could really do a whole post on this episode. I really thought the threesome episode would be the strangest of Season 3, but then the next episode featured Tisch putting on a modern Snow White to Lady Gaga's songs. It was VERY cringey until Lady Gaga herself inexplicably showed up (how did Blair accomplish this???). Overall, VERY out of place and random.

16. And when Gossip Girl thought it was a Hitchcock film.

The CW

The episode before the series finale was super overdramatic, but the last scene took the cake. Inexplicably, period music started playing over a scene with Chuck and Bart fighting, and then SOMEHOW Bart ended up dangling off the side of a building. The whole thing was very North by Northwest, and it just...did not work.

17. When the The Vampire Diaries turned into Groundhog Day.

The CW

Flashbacks to the 1800s were not uncommon in The Vampire Diaries, so at first I didn't think anything of this. But then it turned out Damon was basically stuck in a hellish time loop he had to fight to get out of. It didn't advance the plot and it was pointless. Next!

18. When The Vampire Diaries flashed back to Ancient Greece.

The CW

The Vampire Diaries flashbacks were always fun — sure, the 1800s may not have seemed entirely realistic, but it was recent enough that we all bought it. But...then they decided to flash back 2,000 years. And I'm sorry, but putting CW actors with modern-day makeup in Ancient Greece was just...so odd.

19. When Teen Wolf brought back Crystal Reed to play her ancestor in flashbacks to the 1700s.

MTV

Look, I was stoked to see Crystal Reed back. But...do we really believe Allison's ancestor looked exactly like her? (Before you come at me saying you were supposed to suspend disbelief here and assume they didn't look the same, the Beast itself thought he saw Marie-Jeanne when he saw Allison in Scott's memories.) It was always just kind of weird when Teen Wolf got all ~historical~.

20. When Buffy the Vampire Slayer showed what would've happened if Buffy hadn't moved to Sunnydale.

The WB

Look, we get it — Sunnydale needed Buffy. I don't think we needed an entire episode in which the main cast all killed each other to establish that. At least this wasn't a dream episode!

21. And when Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a demon that made them all act like the show was a musical.

The WB

Look, I know some people love this one. But...it ends with a DANCE-OFF. Buffy was campy, but this was too far.

Did I miss any? What were other teen drama episodes or storylines that were just so out of place and random? Let me know in the comments!

If you'd like to check out more alternate universe episodes, TV Tropes helped remind me of a few!

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