At what point does it become acceptable for a student to date a teacher? It’s obviously a no-no if the student is underage, but some colleges have banned student-teacher sex completely, even between consenting adults. For years, the topic has fascinated filmmakers and viewers alike. Some are particularly racy takes on these scandals, like the film A Teacher, while other affairs are explained more easily — Drew Barrymore is an undercover reporter in Never Been Kissed, therefore technically fair game ( . . . still a little shady). Here are student-teacher liaisons that cross the line from cute to questionable.
1 The Power Struggle
In the satirical Election, civics teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) wants to take down conniving overachiever Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) in the high school election, after Flick seduces a fellow teacher and causes him to lose his job.
2 The Blackmail-Worthy Affair
Art teacher Sheba (Cate Blanchett) falls for a charming 15-year-old student and into a sordid affair in Notes on a Scandal — but a fellow teacher (Judi Dench) uses her knowledge of their liaisons to blackmail Sheba into a friendship.
3 The Unrequited Crush
Prof. Tripp (Michael Douglas) tempts fate by allowing his student Hannah (Katie Holmes) to rent a room in his house, but he successfully rebuffs her advances in Wonder Boys. Meanwhile, his prize pupil James (Tobey Maguire) ends up in the sack with Tripp’s book editor (Robert Downey Jr.).
4 The Multigenerational Love Triangle
In the coming-of-age comedy Rushmore, Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) starts pining for teacher Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams) around the time he befriends a father figure named Herman Blume (Bill Murray), who also develops a crush on Ms. Cross.
5 The Second Chance
As an admissions officer at Columbia University in P.S., Louise Harrington (Laura Linney) meets a man many years her junior (Topher Grace), who happens to have the same face, talents, and even name as her deceased high school sweetheart. True love reincarnate?