The Best TV Prom Moments of the Last 20 Years

We’ve already covered the most unforgettable prom dresses on the big screen, but honestly, sometimes it’s those formative high school moments on the s
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We’ve already covered the most unforgettable prom dresses on the big screen, but honestly, sometimes it’s those formative high school moments on the s
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We’ve already covered the most unforgettable prom dresses on the big screen, but honestly, sometimes it’s those formative high school moments on the small screen that really stay with you. From Buffy’s surprisingly timeless strapless gown (post-demon hunting, no less) at Sunnydale High to Blair’s dreamy haute couture dress on Gossip Girl’s Upper East Side, we take a look at some of the seminal sartorial TV moments from the last 20 years. Sure, they’re pretty dresses, but there are real stories behind the fashion. So let’s take a trip down memory lane — prom style — shall we? It’ll be fun!

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Beverly Hills, 90210: Spring Dance, circa 1991

We’re kind of cheating here because the seminal dance that everyone remembers wasn’t actually the prom. That was the non-event during season three when a post-Dylan Brenda’s last minute date was star football player Tony Miller (who’s now a grumbly cop on TNT’s Southland). It was season one’s Spring Dance that people are still talking about. First, it was the benchmark moment when Brenda lost her v-card to Dylan McKay (hey, it was a big deal back then, OK?). But the major highlight: The unforgettable “Bitch Stole My Look” sitch when Brenda and frenemy Kelly Taylor both showed up in the same awesomely ‘90s off-the-shoulder black and white mega-bowed mini-dress.

{Photo: GoFugYourself}

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Prom, circa 1999

The cult favorite has endured the past decade, plus some (we so miss how demons and monsters were perfect, clever metaphors for teen angst, with Sarah Michelle Gellar kicking some serious butt as the Slayer) and, wow, so did Buffy’s prom dress.

We kind of can’t tell if the pic of an apparently ageless SMG (um, is she a vampire?!) in the subtly iridescent lilac column gown is recent or from Sunnydale’s prom back in ‘99. She looks so refreshed and non-fussed after vanquishing four killer hounds (trained to annihilate anything in a tux — rented presumably). If memory serves us correctly, hunky vampire-with-feelings Angel looked pretty dishy when he showed up, too.

{Photo: 20th Century Fox via InStyle}

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Dawson’s Creek: The Anti-Prom, circa 2000

Remember when Katie Holmes wasn’t Mrs. Tom Cruise and Michelle Williams wasn’t every girl’s fashion crush? Back during the turn of the century, they were just teens in the faux town of Capeside, MA dealing with the usual drama and transitional sartorial tastes. Being the progressive-thinking (and hyper-articulate) group of kids that they are, the Capeside-gang plans an Anti-Prom to protest the homophobic reaction to Jack’s intended date to the Capeside High prom.

Pacey brings emotionally unstable Andie who looks pretty and fashionably inoffensive in a bridesmaid dress-esque shiny lavender confection (late 90s customary pashmina, check!), a baby-faced Joey looks almost red carpet-ready in her minimalist black and (by the way, these pics were located deep within the Interwebs) Jen was presciently channeling a young Marilyn Monroe in a 50s sleeveless dress and curled blonde bob.

{Photos: Dawsonscreek.com, Michelle-Williams.net}

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Veronica Mars: Look Who’s Stalking, circa 2006

For those who didn’t watch Veronica Mars on the no longer existing UPN--for shame! This is when an irresistible Kristen Bell first hit the radar (and Amanda Seyfried played the murdered girl!). We’re still holding out for the movie. It was amazing both for its intriguing storylines and early aughts casual teen fashion: low-rider denim, baby tees and all.

In season two, the principal cancels the official school prom, so poor-little-rich/bad-boy Logan Echolls throws an Alterna-Prom (homage to Anti-Prom?) in presumably the only luxury hotel in fictional Neptune, California. Veronica looks positively lovely in a textured black strapless and wide-belted cocktail dress — especially when Logan gives his heartstring-pulling confession about how their “story was epic, you know?” *Sigh* gets us every time.

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The O.C.: The Party Favor, circa 2006

It was a comedy of errors and an evening full of bad decisions in a way only The O.C. brings it. Angry at Seth (again) Summer ends up taking an emo-coiffed K-Pop star as a date and Marissa brings bad boy/future unintentional killer, Volchek. Even though Summer ends up wasted on illicit booze and falls off the pirate ship-themed stage while accepting her prom queen crown, she still looked amazing in her beautifully tiered and belted white lace Vera Wang Lavender gown. While being an all-around hot mess per usual, Marissa still looked gorge in a creamy giant rosette-adorned Chanel confection.

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{Photo: JustJared}

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Gossip Girl: The Valley, circa 2009

It feels like a lifetime ago — when Blair was on round two with Nate, Serena and Dan weren’t too annoying yet and there was the possibility of an 80s-themed Gossip Girl spin-off (which was thankfully nipped in the bud). The fashion was as dramatic as the storylines and just as rich as the real and fictional teens on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Naturally, Serena was decked out in a $20,000 glistening chiffon halter gown by Christian Dior and Blair looked positively prom queen-majestic in a black and gold Marchesa corset creation — one-of-a-kind couture, of course.

{Photo: USWeekly via TVFanatic}

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Glee: Prom Queen, circa 2011

The episode had all elements of a true teen show prom episode: Cutthroat prom queen competition, a love triangle (quadrangle?), a surprise appearance by a bad boy ex (hello, Jesse St. James) and even a decade later — gay controversy (haven’t we progressed since the Anti-Prom on Dawson’s?). Oh and there was singing, too.

The fashion really fit for the low-key (but high drama) Lima, Ohio backdrop — everything was available later on at the mall. Misunderstood mean girl Quinn’s sequined icy blue poof gown was from David’s Bridal and Rachel’s bubble gum pink tulle strapless confection was by none-other than Betsey Johnson .

{Photo: Cliqueclack}

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90210: The Prom Before the Storm, circa 2011

Now we’re not going to try and fake it. We don’t watch the current 90210 religiously like we did with the O.G. 90210, but we tune in every once in a while because we love pretty young things going through the dramz and we’re happy to see The Wire’s Michael Lee living the good life in Beverly Hills (that would be Tristan Wild’s Dixon). Plus Shenae Grimes is always so cute and bubbly when we see her at fashion-y events.

We do like how the new West Beverly gang dressed the part with the queen bee (yotch) Naomi going ice queen in all white, Midwest transplant Annie (Grimes) channeling cute and girly in a wine and black belted mini, and surfer girl Ivy going all boho in a 70s-ish off the shoulder peasant gown.

{Photo: Fanpop}