High School Musical 3: Senior Year is a 2008 American teen romantic comedy musical film and the third installment in the High School Musical series. Produced and released on October 24, 2008 by Walt Disney Pictures, it was the only film in the series to be released theatrically. Kenny Ortega returned as director and choreographer, as did all six primary actors.
The movie begins with the Wildcats trailing the West High Knights, with the Wildcats entering the locker room for the final quarter feeling bitter. Team captain Troy rallies the team's spirit ("Now or Never") and, thanks to new transfer Jimmie "The Rocket" Zara, the Wildcats win the championship game which is the last one for the seniors on the squad at East High. Later, at Troy's after-match party at his house, Troy and Gabriella are seen thinking about their future and wishing that their last few months at East High would not end ("Right Here, Right Now").
Sharpay meets Tiara Gold, a British exchange student whom she hires to be her personal assistant. When drama teacher Ms. Darbus notices that there were so few sign-ups for the spring musical, Sharpay suggests she could do a one-woman show. This alarms Kelsi, who is writing the show, so she immediately signs up everyone in their homeroom for it instead. This results in Ms. Darbus announcing they will create a play about their final days at East High, called Senior Year. In addition, she reveals that Sharpay, Ryan, Kelsi, and Troy have all been considered for a scholarship at Juilliard School, but only one of them is to be chosen. Troy is confused, because he did not apply to Juilliard. Seeing his friends laughing, he believes they gave his name to Juilliard. Sharpay becomes desperate to win the scholarship, and knowing that Kelsi will give the best songs to Troy and Gabriella in the musical, she gets Ryan to try to persuade Kelsi to give them a song, by predicting her (and Ryan's) future ("I Want It All").
The very next day, Troy asks Gabriella to the dance while on the rooftop (seen previously in the first film as The Garden Club, a place where Troy goes seeking some quiet). She then teaches him how to waltz ("Can I Have This Dance?"). After that, Troy and Chad steal Jimmie and Donny's clothes, thus leading through a big chase and Mrs. Darbus forced them to volunteer as understudies. Chad then asks Taylor to go to prom with him with a cheesy pick-up line. She initially refuses, but later agrees when Chad proves he can put in some effort and asks again in front of everyone in school. The group rehearses for the musical, a scene about their prom night ("A Night to Remember"). The next day, Ryan walks in on Kelsi composing in the music room and they start to sing ("Just Wanna Be with You") which leads to Ryan asking Kelsi to prom. While Troy and Chad reminisce about their past ("The Boys Are Back"), Sharpay and Tiara discover that Gabriella has a chance to go to college early to Stanford and Sharpay convinces Troy that he is the only thing keeping Gabriella from her dream. Troy talks to Gabriella about this and after sharing an awkward goodnight, Gabriella sings ("Walk Away") and leaves for college the next day.
Troy's father, Jack, talks to him about his academic future, which he expects will be in the University of Albuquerque. This assumption makes Troy become angry and confused, and he runs away, storming around East High bewildered until he finally screams at the top of his lungs in the theater ("Scream"). Ms. Darbus is secretly watching and reveals that she sent in his application for Juilliard. Troy later gets a call from Gabriella saying that although she loves him, she will not return to Albuquerque for prom or graduation. However, on the day of the prom, Troy visits Gabriella at Stanford University and convinces her to return and they kiss during the lunch break (Can I Have This Dance? (Reprise)"). Back at East High, Sharpay is prepared for the last musical at East High and Troy's fellow basketball player Jimmie receives a text from Troy to tell him to cover for him onstage because he is going to be late. The Juilliard representatives are there, and watch as the show seems to go well.
Kelsi and Ryan start out the show followed by a couple other numbers; Jimmie then performs with Sharpay and embarrasses her, although the audience applauds the performance. Troy and Gabriella appear during the second half of the show and sing their duet together. Tiara then betrays Sharpay and tells her how she is going to take over next year in the drama department. Sharpay finally learns how it feels to be manipulated and humiliated, but nevertheless does not wish to go down. While Tiara performs, Sharpay immediately crashes her performance and upstages her ("Senior Year Spring Musical").
At the end of the musical, Ms. Darbus reveals that both Kelsi and Ryan have won the Juilliard scholarship and tells about everyone's future plans, in which Troy reveals he's chosen Berkeley so he can be close to Gabriella where he can play basketball and perform in theater ("We're All in This Together ("Graduation Mix").
At the graduation ceremony, Troy gives the class speech after being selected by Ms. Darbus. Throwing their caps in the air, the graduates form a giant Wildcat before breaking out into song and dance (High School Musical). As the film ends, the graduates run across the field, the curtain falls, and they appear on the East High stage. The main cast then perform the High School Musical song, before jumping and bowing when the curtain falls.
- Despite early speculation that Vanessa Hudgens would be dropped from the film due to her nude photo scandal, The Walt Disney Company denied the reports, saying, "Vanessa has apologized for what was obviously a lapse in judgment. We hope she's learned a valuable lesson."
- They were going to replace Vanessa with Adrienne Bailon because of the nude scandal
- Hudgens will not, however, reprise her role for High School Musical 4.