High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: Ranking The Main Characters, Based On Intelligence

The characters on Disney+ breakout hit, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, are profoundly endearing. While they are each sweet and talented in their own ways, they also possess varying degrees of intelligence. Although no character has proven to be as academically gifted as Gabriella, that’s not to say they don’t possess an intellectual prowess befitting of their characters.

After just one season of the show, it seems like the characters from HSM can be accurately ranked based on their intelligence. Season two might wind up providing some interesting wrinkles, but for now, this is how they shone during the series.

Updated on August 22nd, 2022 by Amanda Bruce: Measuring intelligence in fictional characters can be a difficult task. After all, characters excel in different areas. In the High School Musical series, everyone has different talents and different areas of focus, but they’re all incredibly intelligent when it comes to the arts. When it comes to academics and emotional intelligence, however, some characters are definitely ahead of the pack. That’s true of new characters introduced when some of the Wildcats head to Camp Shallow Lake in Season 3 as well.


15 E.J.

Being the least intelligent main character on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series does not mean that one is dumb. It just means that there’s some stiff competition faced by E.J. among the series’ characters.

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After all, E.J. does embody the jock stereotypes for a good portion of the season. And his inability to stop himself from cheating during a Thanksgiving trivia game hammers home the growth potential within him.

14 Big Red

It’s hard to compare the intelligence of these characters when they are all geared towards certain abilities. But when considering intelligence in the most traditional sense, Big Red would probably rank closer to the bottom.

He’s pretty deft at manning electronic panels, tap dancing, and video gaming. But after an entire semester on stage crew, he wasn’t prepared for the show’s opening night. And instead of “hanging lights,” he remarks that he only knows how to “hang out.” Not a good look for Big Red and his hopefully big brain.

13 Natalie

Natalie isn’t among the core group of characters in the first two seasons, and she’s completely absent when some of the Wildcats go to camp. Her role in the first two seasons is as stage manager for the big shows that the group puts on. That means she’s got to handle a lot of responsibility and be ready every time Miss Jen, Courtney, or Carlos change their minds about staging, costumes, and choreography.

Natalie has to be quick thinking to be able to keep up with everyone else. Fans might not see how she does in a classroom, or whether she can memorize the entire script the way most of the drama club members can, but they do see proof of her analytical skills in action.

12 Jet

Jet is revealed to be something of a musical prodigy in Season 3, but being pushed so hard to perfect his craft leaves him wanting to abandon everything he’s good at. Not seeing him in a classroom means that the audience doesn’t get an idea of his academic intelligence, but they do get to see his emotional intelligence.

Jet is immediately aware when he does something that is going to hurt someone else. He catches social cues that others might not think he does; he just often ignores them because he’s unhappy and acting out. He also is able to keep up with music and scripts with very little preparation, showing he’s got some pretty great memorization skills.

11 Gina

Gina is an absurdly ambitious character on the show, but the ways in which she initially pursues her plans are hardly intelligent. Not one path Gina uses in an attempt to get ahead makes an ounce of sense.

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Is she emotionally intelligent? Yes. She first uses this knowledge to pit people against one another and manipulate them. That’s hardly the smart thing to do in any instance, meaning Gina does not quite rank in the top half of intelligent characters. She does, however, show immense growth in this regard in the second and third seasons. She’s the only person at camp, for example, who sees that Kourtney is truly having a hard time and feeling anxious away from home, and she knows exactly how to help her feel more comfortable.

10 Ricky

While Gina has immense emotional intelligence, Ricky seems to have none. He’s intelligent when it comes to his hobbies and picking up new skills. But when Ricky is handling relationships or friendships? He is not too bright.

After all, what kind of person would tell his girlfriend that he wants to go on a break and then expect things to carry on as they were before a few weeks later? Ricky is capable of flexing his academic muscles when he needs to, but he’s got some work to do on the emotional intelligence side of things. He also has a habit of trying to fake his way through situations where he has no knowledge base instead of just admitting that he needs help and taking the time to learn.

9 Kourtney

Kourtney is the first character in this list that brings it closer to the top tier of intelligent characters on the show. Kourtney is quite smart, especially when it comes to having an eye for design and aesthetics.

However, her intelligence also extends to the people in her life. After all, Kourtney is the one who invites the Performing Arts school dean to the performance so she can help Nini follow her dreams. That might be the cleverest move made by any character.

8 Lilly

Lilly initially comes across as very intelligent in the second season because she’s very creative. She is, however, at her most creative when she’s trying to sabotage other people.

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Lilly has a great mind for creating social media content and thinking outside of the box to get back at her competition, but that seems to be where most of her intelligence is concentrated. She lacks some of the emotional intelligence that others have, not understanding why Ricky can’t get past her mean streak.

7 Maddox

Maddox is one of the most experienced Camp Shallow Lake campers, which is why she’s a counselor in training alongside EJ in Season 3. She’s very knowledgeable when it comes to theater, but she’s also got a surprisingly good read on people she just met and astrology. She understands Ashlyn from the moment she interacts with her, which does initially rub Ashlyn the wrong way.

While Maddox might be a little awkward in social situations, that doesn’t mean she’s not emotionally intelligent. She picks up on tension between some of the campers right away, and she tries her best to make camp the best time for everyone while still dealing with her own loneliness.

6 Carlos

Carlos, of course, is one such example of a student whose intelligence applies to numerous fields on the show. He may not be the star of the show, but he’s basically responsible for the show existing at all.

In the same way that Kelsi was accepted to Julliard over Troy Bolton in the original trilogy, Carlos also has the potential to eclipse many of his peers. His choreography skills are unparalleled and he can always intuit the intentions behind his friends’ actions. He also has a great head for pop culture knowledge and seems to be the only person who notices when other people get their references wrong, which is a nice skill to have in his back pocket when he’s surrounded by other performers.

5 Val

Val is the only teen introduced in the series (as of Season 3) to graduate and be pursuing the art full time. She’s attending a university program geared towards the performing arts, though her introductory rant would indicate it isn’t as easy for her as she might have liked.

Despite that, Val is able to help EJ stage a musical with minimal preparation as well as make plans for costumes and sets, all the while leading camp activities as well. She also, like Maddox, is great at reading people and dispensing advice, understanding every problem EJ has before he voices it, and getting a good read on all of the ensemble members as she casts their stage version of Frozen.

4 Nini

As an essential stand-in for the “Gabriella” role in the High School Musical universe, one might expect Nini to rank higher. It’s entirely possible that by the end of her time on the show, she might turn out to be the wisest character of them all.

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Of course, Nini is a gifted musical theater student and her wherewithal in that department is unchallenged across the show’s cast of characters. It just remains to be seen what else she is capable of. Already, she’s proven that she’s smart enough to know when an opportunity isn’t right for her as she walked away from a school that would have allowed her to improve her technical skills, but would stifle her creativity.

3 Miss Jenn

Certainly, Carlos and Nini even seem close to topping their mentor, Miss Jenn, when it comes to intelligence on the show. But her experience gives her the advantage on this, ultimately.

Although some of the decisions made by Miss Jenn are absolutely irrational (the lying gets out of hand pretty quickly), she has proven that she is still a capable teacher who knows what’s best for her students. It takes immense intelligence to be a teacher.

2 Ashlyn

Ashlyn is an underrated character on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, both in terms of her talents and her intelligence. She’s the unsung glue of the show they put on, but there’s also something remarkable she achieves.

The original song she writes for the show, “Wondering,” is so clearly the best song in the program. It’s an act of musical genius, doubly so when considering that Ashlyn is only in high school. Ashlyn is truly gifted on this streaming show.

1 Mr. Mazzara

It wouldn’t come as a surprise to see that Mr. Mazzara was the most intelligent character on the show. In fact, Mr. Mazzara may be too intelligent. It would probably be hard to find a character who could knock him off the perch given his credentials.

He can figure out any problem on the show (except for one that Miss Jenn solves) and he leads a clearly high-achieving robotics organization. The things Mr. Mazzara knows are beyond what most characters on the show understand, demonstrating his immaculate intelligence.

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