15 Things You Won't Actually Believe Happened On Degrassi

Photo: Courtesy of Epitome Pictures.
Long ago, before Drake bemoaned how you used to call him on his cell phone in "Hotline Bling," he was simply known as Jimmy Brooks. And while Jimmy Brooks was many things — school jock, expert wearer of track suits — he was not a star. He was part of something bigger: an ensemble cast of preteen characters on the Canadian drama Degrassi: The Next Generation.

Degrassi premiered in 2001 and remained on the air for 15 seasons before being cancelled. It's returning this year as the rebranded Degrassi: Next Class, with a new generation of characters.

During its tenure, Degrassi became famous for pushing the envelope, or being "100% intense" as it often emphasized in its promos. The show tackled everything from drug use to rape to school shootings. Degrassi also brought fans the first transgender teen character to appear as a series regular on a scripted show.

Yes, it was awful to watch the original cast (from the era better known as "The Drake Years") go off to college, or disappear from the show with no explanation. Yes, Degrassi Goes Hollywood and Degrassi Takes Manhattan were terrible. And yes, Emma and Spinner never should have gotten married (seriously, what were they thinking? Emma & Sean forever, am I right?).

But, at the end of the day, this show was a must-watch for every kid who hit puberty between 2001 and 2015.

In a shocking twist (is there any other kind when Degrassi is involved?), the first season of Degrassi: The Next Generation is available on the show's official YouTube channel. And the entire show is available on YouTube right here. That means you can watch full episodes and relive all the drama.

In honor of Degrassi's return, and the endless binge-watching possibilities, we're taking a look at some of the craziest, most intense, heartbreaking, and all-around "go there" moments from Degrassi's time on air.
1 of 15
Emma Meets Her Cyberstalker

The very first episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation — called "Mother and Daughter Reunion" — ends with a 12-year-old Emma nearly being raped after meeting an internet predator at a hotel. If that seems like a pretty heavy story line for the first episode of a children's show, brace yourself for every other plot that Degrassi conjures during its tenure. Emma thinks that she's been emailing a young boy named Jordan for the last eight months about saving the planet and social activism. It turns out that Jordan is really a grown man — and "repeat offender" — who molests children he meets online. It's a scary moment when Emma is forced to sit on the bed next to "Jordan," who has set up a camera for whatever he plans to do to her. With this episode, Degrassi lets its viewers know from the get-go just how intense this show is going to be.
2 of 15
Rick Pushes Terri — & Puts Her In A Coma

Rick and Terri's entire relationship is gruesome. Rick takes out his frustrations on Terri by physically abusing her. At first, Terri realizes that not having a boyfriend is better than having an abusive one, and she decides to steer clear of Rick (he also has major creeper vibes). But unfortunately, all it takes is one Paige Michalchuk-sponsored road trip in "Don't Dream It's Over" for Rick to get back into Terri's good graces. Well, right up until the moment that he loses his mind, painfully twists her wrist, and pushes her to the ground. Terri hits her head on a concrete block and spends almost the entire remainder of season 3 in a coma. She leaves Degrassi forever once she wakes up.
3 of 15
Marco Comes Out

The final two minutes of "Pride (Part 1)" are raw and intense. Marco is basically forced to come out after a date gone wrong. Up until this point, Marco has only confessed his sexuality to one person: Ellie, who pretended to be his girlfriend. But midway through season 3, Ellie is tired of the girlfriend charade and announces to their friends that they've broken up. Spinner — who is weirdly invested in Marco's love life — pesters him until he agrees to go on a date with Hazel. The end result? A terse confrontation that ends with Marco nearly in tears, shouting, "Because I'm gay!" He loses Spinner as a friend (for this season anyway) — which is made terribly clear with some of Spinner's homophobic taunts in the episodes that follow. Marco is the first character to come out on Degrassi, and this episode leads to the show's first GLAAD Award nomination.
4 of 15
Craig Is Abused — & Tries To Kill Himself

Craig Manning is known as rock 'n' roller, heartthrob, and former photographer. But when Craig first appears on Degrassi in season 2, we learn about his grim home life. Turns out that Craig's rich father abuses him. We see just how horrible the abuse is in "When Doves Cry," when Craig's father kicks him and later threatens to hit him with a golf club. Craig is covered in purple and blue bruises that he keeps hidden. It isn't until after a failed runaway attempt with his little stepsister that Craig (who is diagnosed as bipolar a few seasons later) decides he's had enough. While hanging out with Sean on the train tracks, Craig decides to play chicken with an oncoming train. Sean saves his life — and tells Craig's stepfather (Joey Jeremiah, from the original Degrassi) everything. The moment when Craig finally breaks down and tells Joey the truth is heart-wrenching.
5 of 15
Manny Gets Pregnant — & Then Has An Abortion

How intense and groundbreaking was the two-part episode "Accidents Will Happen" from season 3? So intense and groundbreaking that the U.S. would not air the episode. It took an "Every Episode Ever" marathon on The N — just ahead of the show's season 6 premiere— for the network to finally air the episode in 2006. So, what was all the fuss about? In the episode, Manny finds out that she's pregnant with the child of her on-again-off-again boyfriend Craig. Frightened of the reaction from her super conservative parents, she turns to Spike (who had Emma as a teenager) for advice. By Part 2, a very brave 14-year-old Manny Santos realizes she's not ready for a baby — despite Craig's protests — and has an abortion. This isn't the last time a girl on Degrassi gets pregnant (please see Liberty, for example), but it's the first time it happens on TNG, and they handle it so well.
6 of 15
Ellie Cuts Herself

Ellie Nash is Degrassi's goth queen. We know little about her, other than about her strong relationship with Marco. That's until season 3's "Whisper To A Scream" gives a glimpse into Ellie's home life. Her father is an officer in the Canadian army who has been sent on a peacekeeping trip to Afghanistan. Her mother deals with the loneliness by turning to alcoholism. But the thing that catches us all by surprise is that Ellie cuts herself to deal with all the stress of day-to-day life. Throughout the course of the episode, Ellie's cutting habit gets worse and worse. One of the episode's most powerful moments is when Paige confronts Ellie and shouts, "Show me your arm!" Ellie reveals the angry cuts stretching from her forearm to her bicep. It's hard to look at, but this moment helps forge a bond between Paige and Ellie, who were once the worst of enemies.
7 of 15
Marco Is The Victim Of A Hate Crime

After Marco tells Spinner he's gay, Spinner decides to behave like a homophobic jerk. He excludes Marco from a hockey game and bullies him in their classes. His douchey behavior doesn't go unnoticed — and eventually their friends start asking questions. When they find out that Marco is gay, they're completely unfazed. While Spinner writes "Marco is a fag" on the bathroom wall, Jimmy asks what he's going to write next, "something about me being Black?" It all reaches a fever pitch during the hockey game. Marco walks to meet his friends at the arena, but he's assaulted by a group of guys in a park. The reason? They suspect he's gay. It's Jimmy who finds Marco, bloodied and bruised. And it's Jimmy who hugs him. The episode ends with an emotional confrontation between Marco and Spinner.
8 of 15
J.T. Gets Stabbed

J.T. Yorke was a fan favorite since the beginning of Degrassi's launch. He was the eternal school mascot, always silly, forever in love with Liberty, and taken from us too soon! In what is probably the most shocking character death from this class, J.T. is randomly stabbed in the back, outside of a house party, by a kid from a rival high school in the final five minutes of the episode, "Rock This Town." J.T. is rushed to the hospital, but the doctors reveal that they can't do anything to save him: J.T. is dead. After six seasons, our loveable little goof was gone. Emma, Manny, Tobey, Sean, and Liberty's reactions to the news — as well as their touching group hug — were enough to make any die-hard Degrassi fan break down.
9 of 15
Adam Reveals That He's Transgender

By season 10, almost all your favorites from the original cast are gone. We have a new class of teens at Degrassi Community School. One character, who becomes a fan favorite, is Adam Torres. In "My Body Is A Cage," we learn that Adam is a female-to-male transgender teen, struggling for acceptance by his family, who mixes pronouns and still requires him to dress up as "Gracie" when his grandparents visit. During the episode, we see Adam wrap his breasts in gauze. This episode is the first time Adam tells his friends that he's an FTM — and they accept him. But his identity is later revealed to the whole school when his crush rips open his shirt, showing the gauze, and calls him a "freak." Adam becomes the victim of physical and verbal abuse shortly after. His journey becomes a longstanding, emotional arc on the show. In 2011, "My Body is a Cage" received a Peabody Award, and was nominated for GLAAD and Emmy awards.
10 of 15
Paige Is Raped

Paige Michalchuk is the resident Regina George of Degrassi. And she's also one of the most confident young women on the show. So the moment when she's raped at a high school party in "Shout," is incredibly scary. Despite her attempts to pry Dean off of her, and her shouts of "No!" he goes on anyway, in a scene that is extremely difficult to watch. This happens in the show's second season, but Degrassi is able to build on this terrible moment and use it to shape Paige's character development for years ahead — including her fear of intimacy with later boyfriend Spinner. Sadly, Paige isn't the last character to be raped on the show (Darcy is drugged and raped in season 7, and Zoe is raped in season 13 in an episode that mirrors the infamous Steubenville case).
11 of 15
Paige's Court Appearance

It's equally important to include Paige's day in court — two seasons after she is raped. It's an incredible scene because it highlights the all- too-real experiences so many rape survivors face. Paige is asked why she chose to go upstairs with her rapist, if she's sexually attracted to him, and then, finally, how many sexual partners she's had. It's a standout Paige Michalchuk moment when she ignores her attorney's objections and says, "Actually, I'd like to answer that. That was my only experience, and I certainly would not have chosen to lose my virginity upstairs at a house party with a guy I'd known for an hour!" She lost the case, but won our hearts.
12 of 15
Darcy Lies About A Relationship With Snake — & Tries To Kill Herself

Early in season 7, Darcy is drugged and raped at a party. And she spends the rest of the season grappling with the aftermath. In "Live To Tell" Darcy becomes erratic. One minute, she's trying to have sex with Peter on the roof; the next, she's flirting with Mr. Simpson. Her behavior is so outrageous, that when Mr. Simpson tries to tell her to see a counselor, she grabs a pair of scissors and threatens to take her own life. (Instead she chops off a piece of her hair for good measure.) Things become worse when Mr. Simpson brings Darcy's mom and the principal in to talk about Darcy. Her response? She claims that Mr. Simpson has been making sexual advances towards her, and inappropriately touching her! Snake almost loses his job. When Manny confronts Darcy about her behavior and the allegations, she tries to jump off the roof. Can you say, "poor Darcy?"
13 of 15
Cam Commits Suicide

Season 12 introduces us to Campbell Saunders, an amazing hockey player and fairly popular student who gets along with almost everyone. Cam is shy, sweet, and a little awkward around girls. But Cam also suffers from depression. There are several moments during season 12 when Cam has erratic behavior — when he cuts himself or jumps off the catwalk at school and breaks his arm. But no one was prepared for "Bitter Sweet Symphony." Cam kills himself in the Degrassi High greenhouse. It's Eli and Clare who discover his body early one morning. The student body — just like Degrassi fans were — was shocked. How did we miss the signs? Why didn't anyone know what was really going on? Years later, Cam's death still has many fans confused and upset.
14 of 15
Adam Dies After Texting While Driving

No one saw this one coming. And that's why it was probably one of Degrassi's last major plot twists. Fan favorite Adam Torres is killed off the show in season 13's "Cannonball." Despite surviving physical abuse, and being shot, Adam dies while texting and driving, like thousands of teenagers every year. The scene is especially sad because Adam is racing to reconcile with Becky. It's Becky who texts Adam, "I'm sorry. We should talk." While navigating through a backroad in the woods at night, Adam starts to text back, "I <3 you Becky." But he doesn't finish the message or see the truck ahead. At the last minute, he veers off the road. Adam's death was especially upsetting given the fact that his very existence on the show was groundbreaking. Degrassi fans still agree that Adam was gone too soon.
15 of 15
The School Shooting

Whenever you're putting together a Degrassi list — whether it's the most intense, saddest, or scariest moments in the franchise — it's essential to include "Time Stands Still" from season 4. The two-part episode basically made Degrassi the show that would take on any issue, no matter how dark. It's also, famously, the episode when Drake's character Jimmy was shot—and later revealed to be paralyzed from the waist down. Rick has faced an endless barrage of bullying since he hurt Terri, and Spinner takes one prank too far. It pushes Rick to the edge. He comes to school with a gun and shoots Jimmy (who he mistakenly thinks played the horrible prank), and then he tries to shoot Emma, too, before Sean manages to save the day. This episode may have premiered way back in 2004, but it still haunts every Degrassi kid 12 years later.

More from TV


R29 Original Series

Watch Now
Five love stories behind diverse, multicultural marriages.
Watch Now
Life experiments, 5 days at a time.
Watch Now
The style of subculture.
Watch Now
Viral trends, tried and tested.
Watch Now
From vibrators to lipstick, learn how your favorite products are made.
Watch Now
Extraordinary, one-of-a-kind individuals
Watch Now
The latest stories to watch.
Watch Now
Inside the homes of millennial women — & what they paid for them
Watch Now
Let's talk about sex, baby.
Watch Now
Female artisans around the world
Watch Now
Made by and for smart, opinionated women.
Watch Now
We helped 12 female directors claim their power.