School Spirits follows the mysterious death of Maddie Nears, who woke up dead with no memory of how she died. Maddie’s case is unique, as this is the first time a spirit has arrived without a true understanding that led them there, and it is the catalyst for many questions Maddie has about who really killed her, and why she would not be able to remember it. Maddie’s main storyline follows her trying to unravel the mystery surrounding the time leading up to her death that can help piece together what really happened, and lead to revealed secrets that she had not anticipated.
Release Date March 9, 2023
CreatorMegan Trinrud, Nate Trinrud
The show keeps its mysteries together like shows such as Pretty Little Liars, which loves an overly convoluted mystery storyline that keeps audiences guessing, or Riverdale, which slowly works its way through potential candidates before landing on the truth. However, given that the storyline of School Spirits is so much about the afterlife and questioning what it takes to move on, there are many other television shows and movies that offer storylines about discovering the experience of living only after death, and trying to contemplate what it really takes to be willing to move on from the living world.
10 Boo, Bitch
When Erika Vu wakes up dead one day, she struggles to understand how she ended up that way and questions how to move on. There are certain things that confuse her, such as that she still feels very much alive, everyone can see her, and that nothing about her is particularly ghostly. Still, she embarks on a journey to embrace her life to the fullest at the request of her best friend, Gia, only to discover a very shocking reality.
Boo, Bitch Features a Surprising Plot Twist
Erika, to her own surprise, had never died that night. Instead, it was her best friend, Gia, who was killed and staged everything to make it look like Erika was dead. Gia wanted Erika to truly live, rather than hide. The show’s mystery has Erika desperate to understand how to move on and understand what really happened, only to realize that her real goal was to help her friend do those things. Boo, Bitch allows the audience to understand the truth surrounding Gia’s circumstances and that her motivation, even in death, was to put her friend first, even if she did not go about trying to help Erika the right way. Gia’s conclusion has her finally be noticed by her peers after years of being ignored. When she crosses over, she does so, having made things right with Erika.
9 Darby and the Dead
Darby is a living girl who spends her time trying to help ghosts move on. She does not really have human friends. But that all changes after Capri, a popular girl in school, dies. Now, Darby must help Capri move on, but only after being forced into a more involved role in school, which shows her the benefits of human friends her own age. Still, Darby must discover how to balance that life with helping the ghosts who have grown to rely on her.
Capri Struggles With Her Death
Being too young when she died, Capri struggles to fully embrace death. Meanwhile, her impact on Darby’s life is growing by the minute, leading to an unexpected friendship between the two girls. But Darby and the Dead is not just about Capri’s struggle to acknowledge her early demise. The movie also discusses Darby’s struggle to move forward from her mother’s death and embrace her own life and enjoyment. Darby’s desperation to communicate with her mother again is a massive part of Darby’s backstory. This coming-of-age film portrays Capri and Darby’s different perspectives on life and death, which allows them to help each other move on. However, being open to new things also helps Darby embrace life.
8 Julie and the Phantoms
Julie is still grieving her mother’s death when their shared connection to music results in the unexpected arrival of three ghosts, Luke, Alex, and Reggie. The dead aspiring band had lost their lives in the 1990s after eating bad hotdogs, and their desire to pick up where they left off and play music has them encourage Julie to join their band, and they discover that people can see them when they play music.
Julie, Luke, Alex, and Reggie Help Each Other Move on
In this case, all four main characters need help moving on from something. For Luke, Alex, and Reggie, it is a fairly obvious approach. How do they move on from being ghosts to the afterlife? Their belief that playing the show they intended to do before they died is a good guess of what it could mean to move on. But, when they do not disappear, it leaves questions about how long the trio could remain for. However, Luke, Alex, and Reggie’s encouragement to have Julie jump into music again, as well as helping the boys move forward, allow her to grieve her mother in a healthier way and begin taking control of her life and love of music again. While the trio of ghosts helps Julie find her love of music again, they also give her an unexpected chosen family, and she helps them in other ways, such as helping Luke get closure from the strained relationship he had with his parents before he died.
7 Zombies Trilogy
The Zombies trilogy follows Zedd and Addison’s journeys as a zombie and human in a town that enjoys perfection and frowns upon anything they do not deem acceptable. Zedd and Addison’s relationship allows them each to see what Seabrook and Zombietown have to offer, and broadens the perspectives of the residents of both towns.
Milo Manheim Brings Charisma
If you liked Milo Manheim as Wally in School Spirits, he brings that same charismatic energy to Zedd. Zedd and Wally each embody a sense of hope and excitement towards things that make them easily likable people. While Wally’s situation of being a ghost makes his existence a bit more dramatic, especially as he considers the family he left behind, Zedd understands a different type of hardship that comes with the prejudice against him about being a zombie. Milo Manheim’s performance in both roles, even if the storylines themselves are not that similar, shows him offering an upbeat and happy attitude that allows each character moments of vulnerability.
6 Cobra Kai
Cobra Kai is a sequel television series to The Karate Kid. Following multiple dojos, which eventually grow out to be Cobra Kai, Miyagi-Do, and Eagle Fang, the story develops the remaining conflict between Daniel and Johnny while introducing various new characters to the mix and discusses how history can repeat itself, as well as how to avoid those mistakes.
Peyton List Portrays Familial Struggles
In both Cobra Kai and School Spirits, Peyton Lists’ characters are involved in familial issues regarding their mothers. For Tory, her mother’s medical condition forced Tory to be the adult in the house, leaving her with holding a job and growing bitter towards people who had it easier than she did. Meanwhile, Maddie’s mother is an alcoholic whom Maddie could never trust to get things done. Both characters have to step up and be adults far too soon in their lives and end up taking on a more adult role, whereas they should each have a parent taking care of them.
Although the central storylines of School Spirits and Cobra Kai are nothing alike, the coming-of-age elements and Tory and Maddie’s shared struggle toward feeling responsible for taking care of their mothers, even for drastically different reasons, allow Peyton List to portray her grounded understanding of a teenager with far too much on her shoulders.
5 Prom Pact
Mandy and Ben have avoided most high school activities, but plenty of that comes from that, for the most part, they have only a few friends outside each other. Their friendship brings them to go to prom together. But, Mandy’s desire to attend Harvard has her attempt to get close to Graham, to get a recommendation letter from his father.
High School Is at the Center
High school and the dynamics that occur, such as friendships and romances, are integral to both stories. Similarly to Zombies and School Spirits, Milo Manheim portrays an excitable and upbeat teenager. In School Spirits, Wally’s friendship turned potential romance with Maddie allows him to be honest about his feelings about death and football. In Prom Pact, Ben is emotionally connected to Mandy as his best friend and is comically socially awkward when speaking with his crush, LaToya Reynolds. The living characters in School Spirits have various teenage-related issues going on as well, such as relationships unraveling and friendships being questioned. High School is a prime amount of time to try and understand yourself and those around you, which both School Spirits and Prom Pact offer.
4 Not Dead Yet
Nell’s life hit an unexpected bump when she finds herself back home after her romance fell apart. Now, she realizes that she can not walk her way back into her old job and takes on the role of writing obituaries. But, the job is not without the odd side effect of communicating with the late person she is writing about.
Nell Gains a Better Understanding of Her Subject and Herself
Rather than writing an emotionless obituary and moving on, getting the opportunity to interact with the ghosts themselves and sometimes their loved ones offers Nell a unique perspective of offering a sense of closure that she could not have otherwise. Nell’s interactions with the ghosts do have comical moments, such as her clearly speaking to someone that no one else can see. However, this show also portrays the value of finding family and how Nell is creating her own sense of identity and family as she understands the significance of a real goodbye.
3 The Swap
Ellie has a difficult time with her helicopter mother and dealing with her absent father. But, when she changes places with Jack, it gives her an entirely new perspective on her life and his. But what does it take to switch back to their own bodies?
Ellie Shares Maddie’s Trouble Moving on
While Maddie can not move beyond wanting to know what really happened to her and the issues she has with her mother, The Swap’s Ellie latches onto her childhood best friend, even after it appears their friendship has grown apart. Ellie refuses to allow her friendship to fall apart, in part because that is all she has left from the time her father was around. By the film’s conclusion, Ellie has figured out that she can move forward in a healthy way and that, regarding her old friendship, they can keep the good memories and acknowledge that they have grown apart.
2 Afterlife of the Party
When Cassie wakes up dead after a night of partying, she must go back to help her best friend move on a year after her death. Cassie must face how she was not a good friend to Lisa, and how her brief return can help both Cassie and Lisa move on.
Cassie and Lisa Must Help Each Other
Ultimately, this movie is about friendship, family, and moving on. Cassie’s cause of death is not necessarily a secret to her. She seems to remember fairly quickly how she passed away. Instead, the mystery follows Cassie trying to unravel the truth about what she meant to others, what they meant to her, and how they can all begin the healing process and move forward. Cassie and Lisa’s friendship had not been at its best when Cassie died, and this is the opportunity to fix it and leave Lisa with better memories of her best friend as she starts to move forward from Cassie’s death. Afterlife of the Party gives both main characters a better second chance at a goodbye that offers a chance at closure they never had before.
1 Ghost Whisperer
Melinda Gordon can see ghosts, and one of her biggest hobbies is helping spirits complete their unfinished business and move on. Along the way, Melinda must unravel the mysteries behind their deaths and help everyone involved get to the truth about what happened.
Ghost Whisperer Is All About Unfinished Business
Ghost Whisperer thrives on emotional moments, as the series thoroughly figures out a way to have the characters communicate in as much an emotional way as possible. The unfinished business between characters can be a misunderstanding, never getting to say goodbye, or trying to unravel a mystery about their lives that they never could while alive. Melinda Gordon is the key to this, as she and her friends help uncover the mysteries of the ghosts, who can not fully communicate until their unfinished business has been resolved. Unfortunately, Ghost Whisperer was canceled before its time, and the show itself was never able to offer the type of closure to its characters and audience that they deserved.