1. Drake. Toronto-born Aubrey Graham had a great run on Degrassi: The Next Generation. His storyline as a popular jock-turned paraplegic was iconic. After his character, Jimmy Brooks, is shot by bullied outcast Rick in season four (2004-05) ratings were boosted and the show gained national attention for their careful and realistic depiction of a school shooting.
Though Graham’s Brooks had musical aspirations and attempted to showcase his rapping skills on television, no one could have predicted that he would become a platinum-selling megastar, onetime Rihanna love interest, musical guest on Saturday Night Live and close personal friend and Cash Money labelmate of Nicki Minaj and Lil’ Wayne. [Season 1-8]
2. Nina Dobrev. Bulgarian-born Dobrev first appeared on the show in 2006. She is discouraged to join the cheerleading squad by Darcy, played by fellow CW star Shenae Grimes, because she’s a teen mom.
Her character, Mia Jones, later becomes a model with soaring aspirations. Many fans were put off by her pushy behavior and sexualized plot lines.
As Elena on the 2009 breakout Kevin Williamson-developed Vampire Diaries, the constant damsel in distress and woman sandwiched between two hunky undead brothers (Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder) she is a much easier pill to swallow. [Season 6-8]
3. Shenae Grimes. Though Degrassi had/has a barrel full of memorable stars, only a few were able to reach American audiences. Grimes did just that, portraying Darcy Edwards, the complex Christian who memorably began struggling with her religion after a heartbreaking rape episode.
Her run concluded after four years on Yan Moore and Linda Schuyler’s hit Canadian drama. Shenae left to pursue a career in L.A. on the Beverly Hills 90210 remake, 90210. She also made a cameo in Scream 4, a cheeky casualty of Ghostface in the intro scene that also starred Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell. [Season 5-8]
4. Landon Liboiron. Landon was one part of the notorious brother/sister duo Fiona and Declan Coyne who went so far as to kiss each other in the inappropriate-to-the-max film Degrassi Takes Manhattan. He first appeared in 2009 as a privileged New York transplant whose main hobby seems to be troublemaking/girlfriend-thievery.
Last year he was cast as Josh Shannon on the prehistoric time travel show Terra Nova, on Fox and has completed a film with Eva Mendes and Patricia Arquette called Girl In Progress, set for a 2012 release. [Seasons: 9-10]
5. Stefan Brogren. Brogren (as Archibald “Snake” Simpson) may not have the international success of Drake or Nina Dobrev but as far as Degrassi legacies go he’s the sturdiest not to mention tallest (6’4″) cast member. Snake debuted in 1987’s Degrassi Junior High as a “good guy” musician and swim team member.
As current principal of the school his onscreen time has deteriorated but he makes up for it by serving as a producer and part-time director. He also contributes commentary to the DVDs.