It can take weeks, months, or even years for someone to build up their reputation. When that happens, it feels pretty good. They've reached their goal of becoming the person they want to be and are ready to enjoy their new rep. But, a person's reputation is never really safe. It's a difficult climb to the top, but it's even more difficult to stay there.
People on Quora and Reddit share how the popular kid became unpopular. Content has been edited for clarity.
If Only He Looked A Little Bit Closer
“There was one kid in my class who was the son of the math teacher. He was crazy popular because he was able to help everyone out with their homework for that class; turns out he was actually snooping through his dad’s notes to get the answers. The teacher naturally got super suspicious after a while, so he deliberately made a fake answer sheet. Of course, the kid grabbed it and noted it all down.
It was full of wrong answers so blatant that anyone who even slightly paid attention in class would know they were way off base. The kid handed out the answers anyway, and in an instant made about half the class bomb. His popularity dropped like a rock as they all accused him of deliberately making them fail the test. They moved him to another class and they never had an incident of cheating again.”
“He Was Not Well-Received When He Returned”
“I hated this kid, but apparently the rest of the school loved him. He was freshman class president, and legit looked and acted like a politician even at 18.
Then he got wasted one night and ran over two girls walking back from a party. The icing on top of the cake was he stopped and called the cops himself, but then started fighting the EMTs when they arrived. Somehow he only did 2 years and came back to school (his family had a lot of money).
But we all knew by then how it went down, and he was not well-received when he returned to campus. I don’t think he has a future in politics, I think he even ended up transferring schools because even the professors hated him when he came back.”
A “Friend” Would Never Say That
“I was relatively ‘popular’, I was in JV basketball, marching band, mathletes, and track. I was pretty friends with everyone. That is until my best friend at the time claimed I pushed her down the stairs and caused her to have surgery on both legs.
Thing is, I was at my grandmother’s funeral in another state the entire week she claimed it happened.
While the teachers kept us apart and understood my side, none of the others really believed me. Except for the Anime club. They believed me.”
“He Was Absolutely Ostracized”
“This very popular football player was at a party one weekend. Also in attendance was a kid lovingly nicknamed ‘Beans,’ whom everyone knew and loved.
The football player tried to get Beans to try some party substance or other. Beans, being a good kid, declined. The football player did not like this answer, so he spiked Beans’ drink.
Beans had a bad reaction to this substance. He died. The entire town banded together and raised money for the family. About 15 years later someone put up a memorial billboard, probably on his birthday or the anniversary of his death.
I honestly don’t know who did it, I wasn’t part of that social circle. I do know he was absolutely ostracized and had to transfer schools.”
He Went From Hero To Zero
“One of the most popular kids in my high school was named Greg. He was tall and handsome, with dark hair and big brown eyes. He actually looked a little like Michael Schoeffling, who played Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles:
Greg was also a phenom on the football field (American football). When I met him, he was the only sophomore on the varsity team.
Being from a small town, the football players were pretty revered, and some of them were absolute egotistical nightmares.
But not Greg. He was one of the nicest kids you could meet. I was an outsider, who hung with the metalheads, punks, goths, hippies, and freaks — definitely not the jocks. Greg and I weren’t friends, either, but we had one class together, and he never failed to smile and say hello in the hallway, even though most of the popular kids would never have deigned to even acknowledge a kid like me unless it was to pick on me.
So what happened to Greg? His senior year he was the star running back, almost a shoo-in to land an athletic scholarship… until he injured his knee badly enough that his football career was over.
Everyone forgot about him. Overnight, he went from a hero to a nobody. He lost his athletic ability through no fault of his own, yet suddenly he was cast aside, as if not being able to play the game he loved so much any more wasn’t enough.
Teenagers can be really cruel, and the reverence for high school sports in the U.S. — especially football — is definitely over the top.”
“Didn’t Matter What He Was Going Through”
“In Year 10 of secondary school, a girl named ‘Cathy’ spent months physically abusing a kid named ‘Jim.’ Cathy was always slapping Jim, kicking him, punching him, and throwing things at him while screaming at him. Sometimes, she did this even in the middle of class but no one would do anything about it. Not even the teachers
His little sister had recently passed away, so I guess he just wasn’t going to deal with anything. Cathy swung at him, but Jim dodged and got her good with a right hook. Knocked her to the ground in one bit. Her nose started bleeding and blood came from her mouth. Cathy started crying and howling. Three teachers jumped in and pinned Jim down to the ground
Didn’t matter what he was going through, how hard his life had been. As soon as he swung back at his abuser, he was outcast from all of his friend groups at school. He eventually transferred out of course but not after he went through a complete social phasing
Nothing happened to Cathy after either. Everyone saw her as the victim after all so nothing was done about it. Some people knew she was the one in the wrong, but anyone that spoke out about it got the same treatment as Jim did.”
He Was Almost In The Clear
“A popular guy in my year peed himself during an exam in our gym hall. Unfortunately for him, the worst guy in our year was sitting directly behind him.
He immediately stood up and yelled, ‘This guy just peed himself!’
He proceeded to get teary-eyed and say, ‘It’s my energy drink, it spilled!’ over and over before the exam supervisor literally dragged him out of the hall.
Two weeks later, he returned to school as the unpopular kid and kept a low profile for a while until it eventually died down and he climbed the social ranks once more.
That is until an episode of The Inbetweeners (a popular TV show in the UK) aired in which one of the main characters soils himself in the exam hall. The episode reminded everyone of what happened, effectively nuking his popularity all over again.”
“I Didn’t Know Better”
“I was that ‘popular kid.’ While I was growing up, I was super shy. Even though I have never really been bullied growing up, I still was super shy and awkward. When I was in elementary school, I was labeled as weird and quiet. When middle school came everything changed.
I suddenly became that one girl everyone knew and liked. I was known for being funny, outgoing, and the sweetheart named Hailey. I am saying this with all humbleness, but I was that one girl all the girls wanted to be friends with due to everyone liking me so much. I was that one girl all the boys had a crush on (because I was so down to earth and adorable as a teen). I felt so young, full of life, and loved. I can honestly say middle school was the best time of my life so far.
Then came the summer of 8th grade, a month before high-school. I fell into a bad depression and started smoking weed heavily at the age of 13. I lost all my friends and was known as a ‘crackhead’ all around the city that I live in. People I grew up with were saying I changed, and that I turned into a bad person. I lost all my childhood friends but of course, I made new friends and memories in high school. I don’t remember a lot of the moments I had because I was on a lot of substances and had a bad memory.
Not too long after, I was introduced to pills by the crowd I was hanging around. I grew up being the only child, and my mom and dad both were addicted to narcotics, so I guess I fell into that hole as well. My grandma adopted me when I was six, and raised me with her being a single parent. She was always at work so I was always out with friends getting high because I had no one at home to guide me. I didn’t know better I was 13. I just wanted to numb the pain.”
He Did The Right Thing In The End
“I wasn’t ‘the popular kid’, but I was generally liked towards the end of high school. The Senior prank at my school was cool in concept but created hours of unnecessary work for the custodians. I reported it to a certain teacher who I know now she was actually apparently a piece of trash who sold Vicodin to students and even slept with one of the prior year seniors at a grad event.
She knew exactly who did the prank and told them I told her. I received numerous calls with death threats from several of the more popular students on my last day. One of them, hilariously, had his phone number public on Facebook, and I had my FB contacts synced to my phone back when that was a common-ish thing.
So after he said his piece, I was just like ‘Hey, know it’s you, dude.’
He hung up.”
“He Lost Absolutely Everything”
“I went to school from fourth grade to high school with a kid my age whose father was a prominent city official in our town. Even though we lived only a few blocks from one another, we were in different worlds. My background was much more blue-collar and unfortunately, I lived in a physically violent household.
For these and other reasons I never understood, his mother despised me and she wanted her son to have nothing to do with me. She actually called my mother once to ‘suggest’ that she keep me away from her son since our class in life was so very different. I found him smart and funny and fascinating and we palled around. He wore slacks while I wore jeans, and his suede shoes were much ‘better’ than my sneakers.
By our high school years, he was a football letterman while I was a band geek, and he was in college prep while I took vocational courses. We still knew each other but he was on a college track and I was living day by day. As graduation approached, we learned that his parents had worked with the local Congressman for his appointment to West Point. Wow.
Tragically on the night of graduation, he and his girlfriend went out with him driving trashed on a country road. He hit an oak tree and she was killed. That’s the last I ever heard of him, but I’ve heard he lost absolutely everything.”
It Was Like Steve Was Never There
“I swam competitively through high school, but just wasn’t quite good enough to continue in college. But, to stay connected to aquatics, I became a lifeguard and swim instructor for our university pool and all their school and community events.
Many of the swimmers and water polo players were lifeguards/instructors themselves on the off-seasons. Our head guard was the polo team’s ‘Big Man on Campus.’ He was a beast in the pool, he was cool, witty, handsome, the whole shebang. We’ll call him ‘Steve.’ Anyway, we get to work one morning and our big boss was out of his office (already a rare occurrence) and called us all together.
I arrived a little late so I only caught the end where he kept saying, ‘No one talks about Steve in front of the guests; I don’t even want to hear his name.’
Once we split to start the day, I was trying to find out what happened. Someone pulled out their phone and there he was. Steve’s mugshot after being arrested for statutory assault. Turns out, he had a part-time job as a high school coach; and you can complete the picture.
I have never seen someone disappear so fast. His name was removed from team rosters, media promotions, his position as a guard vacated and refilled. It was a weird time.”
“No One Was Sitting Next To Her”
“This was 10 years ago when I was in year 12. For some reason, we had a bunch of exchange students in the midst of everyone dating and partying. I wouldn’t know, I was doing work.
Anyway, the popular girls were a group of maybe 10 girls that were human rakes with platinum or chocolate dyed hair and a fascination with designer brands. They had cars too because I remember they drove past me at a bus stop screaming at me to die. So, basically, a hot Swiss girl shows up and the pettiest of them didn’t like her having the popular guys like her.
Apparently, one day this happened in CAFS (Community and Family Studies) class; the popular girl in question shows up on a Monday, and no one was talking to her or sitting next to her. So, I ask someone.
On the prior weekend, they were having a house party and Kelsey (the popular girl) started texting people that she’d stolen her parent’s credit card to buy a dress to wear for about $300. When the Swiss girl showed up, she had called the girl a peasant for not having a wardrobe of clothes to wear to their blowout party. There were rumors that she slept around for cash, did tricks, that her friends were extorting her for cash.
We graduated four months later, only a few people spoke to her and she was smashed at the formal – and most of them have gone off to work in real estate.”
He Had A “Friend” With Him
“My grades got bad in 4th grade, so my mom came to school with me all week. She sat next to me all day every day in an attempt to scare me into improving them
After that week all my friends changed. Nobody I was friends with wanted to play during recess, they all thought my mom was crazy after that so they stopped coming over after school to play. I got teased for it until 6th grade started by my former friends. Anytime I’d try to make friends with a new kid, they’d be friendly at first but eventually just join in on the teasing and thinking I was weird.
But I did make new friends eventually. And people did leave me alone and we all moved on. I don’t hold grudges on a bunch of kids about it. Whatever.”
“Some People Knew Already What Happened”
“This was at the private school in my town (I went to the public) This guy had a video of his girlfriend in the shower. I don’t know if they broke up and it was revenge or if they were still together at the time, but he shared the video around a bit. After a while, the whole school either had a copy or had seen it and it made its way around my school too.
The police got involved because she was underage, and he was threatened with charges of ‘distributing child photos.’ The only reason the charges didn’t stick was that they would have had to charge her too, even if she only intended for him to see it.
The police did talks at our schools about sending undressed pictures, videos, and flirty messages. The school notified all parents and advised them to monitor the content of their kid’s phones. Most people deleted it pretty quickly after we were informed at the assembly that it was considered illegal.
But people had already seen the footage and the girl was being bullied mercilessly. Not just because of the fact she was in a widespread undressed video, but because she had quite a bit of ungroomed hair in the southern region. People kept offering her razors, and some nasty girls bought a bunch of wax strips to their school. They stuck some on her locker and bag and would try to stick them to her without her noticing.
Anyway, a week or so later, we weren’t hearing much about it any more from our school. Then one afternoon we had an impromptu assembly and got the whole ‘Don’t make or keep undressed videos of yourself or other students on your phones’ talk again. Some people knew already what happened, but some of us were super confused; it turns out that the girl had made another video of herself showering and sent it to a bunch of people herself. Except for this time, in the new video, she was completely shaved.”
Always A Good Idea To Keep Proof
“Popular girl in junior high got in a bunch of trouble when she accused a couple of guys of stalking her. One guy lived a block away from her, so she told everyone at school that he was a creep and was looking in her window at night.
Unfortunately for her, the guy she accused of peeping on her was out of town during the time she said everything happened. He had mountains of proof, and she had absolutely nothing to back up what she was saying.
She and her family got into big trouble for a false police report. Since her dad was still active duty military, they got booted out of base housing and she got moved to another middle school.”
“Not A Good Parenting Strategy”
“I was technically considered ‘popular’ in high school. I was a starting player on many sports teams and was the lead in several plays, but that actually caused a lot of problems for me. Many students and parents that thought I wasn’t as good as they are, or their kid would spread rumors about me being involved in illegal substances, bribing coaches, the whole nine yards.
By my senior year, I was probably one of the most hated people for simply existing. No one ever sat near me at lunch, I was alone the whole night at the prom, and I was never invited to any dinners/parties after winning a big game. Looking back, I honestly blame the parents more than anything for trying to make their kids feel better by tearing me down. Not a good parenting strategy.”
He Started Off So Strong
“We had this one guy in middle school who people generally liked, but over became this complete loser. He was aspiring to be a pilot and always talked about how he and his dad would fly together on weekends. For the most part, he was a pretty cool kid. And then high school hit. During high school, he became this complete sociopathic loser who did everything he could to try and come off as cool. He got into bikes, and would always come to school decked out in biker gear. Fair enough if he didn’t walk around like a weirdo with his chest puffed out and bike helmet in his left hand. He was very obviously trying to seem super cool, but nobody took him seriously because he was a joke. He always acted super pretentious around people, talking like he everything about cars and bikes. But every car mechanic in our school knew he was full of it.
Our school had this video production program where every Friday, we would broadcast an episode of skits we worked on over the week. Apparently one week this kid hijacked the entire program just to put a 4-minute montage of him driving around the school parking lot on his bike. He struggled to keep jobs because he for some reason thought it was cool to get fired with a bang.
One job, in particular, he got fired for eating ice cream toppings with a spoon in front of customers. He did dumb things like this nine times in one year and still thought he was being funny despite destroying his reputation. The last thing I remember is him losing it and dropping out senior year and moving to Nashville to live in this guy’s garage. He currently works as a prison guard and I genuinely fear for his life.”
“The Double Standard Was Amazing”
“The head of the soccer team was one of the most popular guys in school, but he couldn’t keep it in his pants. Originally he was quite popular for this as he slept with many girls(most of whom were also popular). However, he slipped up and slept with the school easy girl instead. Now because he slept with a girl who had a reputation, he became unpopular. The double standard was amazing to me then and it still is today.
Worst of all, we found out after the fact, was that he assaulted her on the gymnasium floating track during school. They both got expelled, though she was allowed back after a long suspension when they found out it wasn’t consensual. But because she didn’t press charges, they allowed him back in the school as well. He later was finally expelled after he was caught sleeping with another girl in his car during school, which was parked in the student lot.”
That Is Not How Things Should Have Happened
“There was this really awful kid in my school in tenth grade, Jake. He used to pick on this one particular kid, Brian, all the time. Over nothing, really, just because the kid was extremely smart and a bit small for our age group.
I was walking home one day after school and came upon a fight in some bushes, surrounded by kids cheering. I realized it was Jake kicking the beans out of Brian. Seeing this made me so mad, so I ran over and pulled Jake off him, and told everyone they should be ashamed and to get the heck out of there.
The next day I got to school to find out I had become a pariah overnight. Even my boyfriend dumped me. The only people who would talk to me were my two closest girlfriends and Brian. It was really messed up. I moved and changed schools about two weeks later, and people already knew me as ‘that girl,’ so I was absolutely dreading it.
On my first day, I found out these kids didn’t think I was horrible for doing that. Instead they were super supportive. It was so unexpected, and I suddenly wasn’t the unpopular one anymore.”