As students across the country don their caps and gowns, we can't help but think back on our own graduations. But admittedly, some of the commencement speeches that stick in our minds most are those from pop culture.
Whether you need inspiration to write a killer valedictorian speech, or simply want to walk down memory lane with some beloved TV and movie characters, here are seven must-watch graduation scenes.
1. 'Beverly Hills, 90210'
Although West Beverly High's class of '93 rallies to see Donna Martin graduate, valedictorian Andrea Zuckerman steals the show at the gang's commencement with her heartfelt speech. "We haven't just learned facts and figures, logic and reasoning skills," she tells the crowd. "But we have learned the value of friendship ... friendship, loyalty and love, which will not be diminished just because we may not end up together. The memories that we have shared will not go away, simply because we do."
2. 'Gilmore Girls'
When Rory Gilmore addresses Chilton's graduating class, she fittingly pays tribute to her love of literature, but most touching are her words for her mom, Lorelai. "My mother never gave me any idea that I couldn't do whatever I wanted to do or be whomever I wanted to be," she says. "She filled our house with love and fun and books and music, unflagging in her efforts to give me role models from Jane Austen to Eudora Welty to Patti Smith. As she guided me through these incredible 18 years, I don't know if she ever realized that the person I most wanted to be was her."
3. 'Reality Bites'
The Gen-X classic opens with valedictorian Lelaina (Winona Ryder) taking down her parents' generation in an anti-consumerist diatribe. "And they wonder why those of us in our 20s refuse to work an 80-hour week just so we can afford to buy their BMWs," she proclaims in her commencement speech. "Why we aren't interested in the counterculture they invented, as if we did not see them disembowel their revolution for a pair of running shoes. But the question remains: What are we going to do now?"
4. 'Dawson's Creek'
Joey takes inspiration from a letter from her late mom in her poignant speech to Capeside's class of 2001: "I wanted to share something personal and tell you that there are people in my life who are gone now, people I miss very much and people who I am haunted by in different ways, but whether we're separated by death or merely distance, I know that they're still with me because I keep them in my heart."
5. 'She's All That'
The hilarious ending of this '90s teen flick reveals the terms of a bet that popular jock Zack (Freddie Prinze Jr.) makes earlier in the film, claiming he can turn nerdy wallflower Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook) into a prom queen. Zack and Laney wind up together, but not before Zack is seen at graduation sporting only a cap and a strategically placed soccer ball.
6. 'Boy Meets World'
Valedictorian Topanga invites C student Shawn to give a candid speech in her place, in which he tells his peers, "I'm sorry. I could have done better. Congratulations to those who did." Then, most memorably, she proposes to Cory.
7. 'Legally Blonde'
Ancient Greek philosophers are no match for Elle Woods, who nails her law-school graduation speech. "On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle: 'The law is reason free from passion.' Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard I have come to find that passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law — and of life," she says. "It is with passion, courage of conviction, and strong sense of self that we take our next steps into the world, remembering that first impressions are not always correct. You must always have faith in people. And most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself."
This post was originally published on May 21, 2015.