The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club

Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Hughes
Produced by John Hughes
Michelle Manning
Ned Tanen
Written by John Hughes
Starring Emilio Estevez
Paul Gleason
Anthony Michael Hall
John Kapelos
Judd Nelson
Molly Ringwald
Ally Sheedy
Music by Keith Forsey
Editing by Carol Littleton
Distributed by Universal Studios
Release date(s) February 15, 1985 (1985-02-15)
Running time 97 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $45,875,171

The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American teen drama film written and directed by John Hughes. The storyline follows five teenagers (each a member of a different high school clique) as they spend a Saturday in detention together and come to realize that they are all deeper than their respective stereotypes.



The plot follows five students at fictional Shermer High School in the fictitious Chicago suburb of Shermer, Illinois as they report for Saturday detention on March 24, 1984. While not complete strangers, the five teenagers are each from a different clique or social group.

The five students - Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy), Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez), John Bender (Judd Nelson), Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall), and Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald) - who seem to have nothing in common at first, come together at the high school library, where they are harangued and ordered not to speak or move from their seats by the antagonistic teacher supervising them, Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason). They are to remain for a period of eight hours, fifty-four minutes (from 7:06 A.M. to 4 P.M., the only indication of time being on a clock that is 20 minutes fast). He assigns a 1,000 word essay (in which each student must write about who he or she thinks they are) and then leaves them mostly unsupervised, returning only occasionally to check on them. Bender, who has a particularly negative relationship with Mr. Vernon, disregards the rules and riles the other students; mocking Brian and Andrew, and sexually harassing Claire. Allison remains oddly quiet except for the occasional random outburst.

The students pass the hours in a variety of ways. Gradually they open up to each other and reveal their inner secrets (for example, Allison is a compulsive liar, Bender comes from an abusive household and Brian and Claire are ashamed of their virginity). They also discover that they all have strained relationships with their parents and are afraid of making the same mistakes as the adults around them. However, despite these developing friendships the students are afraid that once the detention is over, they will return to their very different cliques and never speak to each other again.

At the request and consensus of the students, Brian is asked to write the essay Mr. Vernon assigned earlier (the subject of which was to be a synopsis by each student detailing "who you think you are" (sic)), which challenges Mr. Vernon and his preconceived judgments about all of them. Brian does so, but instead of writing about the assigned topic, he writes a very motivating letter that is, in essence, the main point of the story: that each of them (or any person, in that matter) is a bit of everything and not the whole of what people see in them. He signs the essay as "The Breakfast Club" and leaves it at the table for Mr. Vernon to read when they leave. There are two versions of this letter, one read at the beginning and one at the end, which are slightly different; illustrating the change in the students' judgments of one another and their realization that they truly have things in common.

The beginning letter is as follows:

Brian Johnson (although that is unknown at this point): Saturday, March 24, 1984. Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois. 60062.
Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was that we did wrong...and what we did was wrong, but we think you're crazy to make us write this essay telling you who we think we are. What do you care? You see us as you want to see us... in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That's the way we saw each other at seven o'clock this morning. We were brainwashed.

The end letter is as follows:

Brian Johnson: Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong...but we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who (sic) we think we are. You see us as you want to see us... In the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain...
Andrew Clark: ...and an athlete...
Allison Reynolds: ...and a basket case...
Claire Standish: ...a princess...
John Bender: ...and a criminal...
Brian Johnson: Does that answer your question?
Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.

The film ends with the students walking down the hallway to leave the school. Outside, Allison and Andrew are shown kissing, as well as Claire and Bender. Claire gives Bender her earring, which he puts on after she leaves. Bender pumps his fist into the air, and freeze framed the scene.

Cast of characters

  • Judd Nelson as John Bender - The Criminal... He gets detention for setting off a false fire alarm. Bender mostly annoys and insults everyone at first, but most of his angst is directed at Claire. Later on, he reveals the reason for his angry behavior is that he has an abusive, alcoholic father who once burned a cigar on his arm for spilling paint in the garage. Andrew thinks that he's lying for it's all a part of his image, realizing only when he shows the scar from the burn is he telling the truth. At the end of the film, he and Claire become attracted to each other and she gives him one of her earrings.
  • Emilio Estevez as Andrew "Andy" Clark - The Athlete... He gets detention for taping teammate Larry Lester's "buns" together. He did the deed to earn the respect of his stern father, whom he hates, but admits that he deeply regrets doing it later in the movie, in tears. His father is a former high school football player who wants him to do well and be number one at all times. He starts having a curiosity for Allison and her wild behavior. It seems that he finds Allison attractive when Claire gives her a makeover. Also at the end of the film we see Andrew and Allison kissing.
  • Anthony Michael Hall as Brian Johnson - The Brain... He gets detention for having a flare gun in his locker that went off by accident. He has trouble adapting to the others at first and tries to maintain peace, with little to no success. Johnson has a more troubled home life because his stern parents want him to do well academically and he has thought about committing suicide, the main reason that he had the gun in the first place. At the end, he writes the essay for Mr. Vernon on how he sees the group, thus giving them the name "the Breakfast Club".
  • Molly Ringwald as Claire Standish - The Princess... She gets detention for skipping school to go shopping at the mall. She becomes the target of Bender's endless insults, mainly because she is too popular and supposedly has a perfect life. It is revealed that she thinks her parents use her as a bargaining chip so they can get back at each other.
  • Ally Sheedy as Allison Reynolds - The Basketcase... She did nothing to get detention. She goes to detention simply because she has "nothing better to do." She later says that her neglectful parents ignore her all the time, and thinks about running away whenever she feels like it. Her first word is "HA", she tries to open up her problems out to them at the beginning; they don't care but soon do. Andrew starts to find her interesting and is the first to talk to her seriously. At the end of the film, Claire gives her a makeover and Andrew shows interest in her.
  • Paul Gleason as Richard "Dick" Vernon - a teacher at Shermer High and the main antagonist of the film, is a strict and stern person and does not take kindly to jokes around him. After Bender insults him numerous times, he gives him two months of detention. When Bender and the others go to the hall so he can retrieve marijuana from his locker, Bender takes the fall for everyone, allowing them to go back without getting caught. Vernon locks him in a storage closet for the remainder of the day and threatens him, making Bender think that he's not all tough. He also starts to wonder on how the kids will turn out in the future and shows serious concern about what will happen.
  • John Kapelos as Carl Reed - the janitor of the school, when he catches Vernon viewing the confidential records of the school staff, he blackmails him. He seems to know Brian very well. In the opening scene, Carl's picture is placed on a plaque that reads, "Man of the Year" in 1969.



Emilio Estevez originally auditioned for the role of John Bender. However, when John Hughes was unable to find someone to play Andrew Clark, Estevez was recast. Nicolas Cage was considered for the role of John Bender. Bender was the last role to be cast, and it was between John Cusack and Judd Nelson. Hughes eventually cast Cusack to play John Bender, but Hughes decided to replace Cusack with Nelson before shooting began because Cusack didn't look threatening enough for the role.[1] Molly Ringwald wanted to play Allison Reynolds, but Ally Sheedy had already been promised the part. Rick Moranis was originally cast as the janitor; he left due to creative differences and was replaced by John Kapelos. Ringwald and Hall dated briefly after filming ended.[2]

John Hughes nearly fired Judd Nelson because he was constantly bullying co-star Molly Ringwald off camera.[3] Finally Paul Gleason stood up for Nelson because he was staying in character.


In a piece about the film in a October 1999 issue of Premiere Magazine, John Hughes stated that due to his lack of experience as a filmmaker, his appeal to direct was met with resistance and skepticism. Hughes won the investors over with his argument that due to the film's low budget of one million dollars and its single-location shoot, the risks involved were minimal.

Shooting began on 28 March 1984 and ended in May of that year.

Filming took place at Maine North High School in Des Plaines, Illinois, the same school used for some of the school-based scenes in John Hughes's Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which was released just a year after The Breakfast Club. Maine North High School was closed in 1981 before John Hughes stepped in and used it as a filming location. At the end of the movie, John Bender walks through Northbrook's Glenbrook North High School's football field, where Hughes himself went to high school.

Some of the posters on the walls during filming of The Breakfast Club were still there when Ferris Bueller was filmed. On the Ferris Bueller's Day Off DVD commentary (featured on the 2004 DVD version), John Hughes reveals that he shot the two films back to back to save time and money, and some outtakes of both films feature elements of the film crews working on the other film in each case. Hughes never disclosed, however, whether Ferris Bueller was intended to be a student at the same school as The Breakfast Club students a year later.


The film holds a 91% "Certified Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 42 reviews, with an average score of 7.5/10. The critical consensus is "The Breakfast Club is a warm, insightful, and very funny look into the inner lives of teenagers".[4] Review aggregator Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 62% based on 11 reviews from mainstream critics, considered to be "generally favorable reviews".[5]

In 2008, the film was selected by Empire magazine as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.[6] Similarly, The New York Times placed the film on its Best 1000 Movies Ever list.[7] The film ranked number 1 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies.[8][9] It also debuted at #3 behind Beverly Hills Cop and Witness.[10]

Deleted scenes

John Hughes' first draft of the film was originally scripted to be a 2½ hours long. However, many of the scenes were cut and the negatives destroyed. He stated that he had the only complete version of The Breakfast Club, a VHS copy, which he showed to the staff of Premiere magazine for an article.[11] The current whereabouts of this tape are unknown. Among the cut scenes from the movie (some filmed, some only written) are:[11]

  • The janitor Carl talks with Vernon about where the five kids will be in the future. According to Vernon, Bender will have killed himself, Claire will have had "two boob jobs and a face lift," Brian will have become very successful in a computer software company but will die of a heart attack due to the stress of the high paying job. Allison will be a great poet but no one will care and wait tables for the rest of her life, and Andy will marry an airline stewardess who will become ugly and fat after turning 30 and having kids. This was cut after producers found it to be too sadistic sounding.
  • In a dream, Allison imagines Andy as a gluttonous Viking, Bender as a prisoner, Claire as a bride, Brian as an astronaut and herself as a vampire. In an unfilmed alternative to this dream, all five kids imagine random things, including cars, naked women, Godzilla, beer and fighter planes, and these things end up filling the room until Vernon interrupts.
  • When the five kids are walking through the halls, there is a scene where Vernon is getting coffee, and Allison almost gets caught. On network TV airings of the film, this scene replaces the scene where Bender gets marijuana out of his locker.
  • John Bender was not going to walk to school in the original script. He was going to be driven by his dad in a rusty tow truck, and have a brief fight with him before his dad drives off. Bender is also tossed a bagged lunch, his father saying "You are a waste of lunch-meat!"
  • After Bender demonstrates "Life at Big Bri's house" Brian stops Bender and corrects him with a much more pessimistic version of the skit. Claire then proceeds to act out her life before asking Bender to demonstrate his version. Bender's routine changes as well here. After Bender mimics his mom, he stops, commenting that "then they make me work to pay off the dentist for the teeth HE busts."
  • In the scene where Bender is inspecting Brian's lunch, there is a note in the lunch from his mom and John reads it.
  • The scene where Andy and Allison are walking to get the sodas is extended to a point where Allison pulls out a pack of cigarettes and smokes one.
  • After getting the sodas, Bender shakes his can violently and places it among the five to see who gets the rigged one. Allison ends up getting it, and when she opens the can, all the soda squirts directly into her mouth.
  • After Vernon asks who has to use the lavatory, the five go to the bathroom. Vernon gives the boys two minutes and the girls three minutes. Claire catches Allison in a stall eating a bag of chips, repulsing her. Bender mocks Brian for sitting down to urinate instead of using a urinal.
  • When Allison says, "I can write with my toes", she actually does so. This was filmed.
  • Several staff members were cut out of the script before filming. Dr. Lange, a social studies teacher who dresses oddly, Andre a sociopathic Film Studies teacher, Brian a neurotic PE Teacher, Ed the mute cafeteria worker who shouldn't be at the school on a Saturday, and Robin, a gym teacher. Robin helps Vernon on a few workout machines until Vernon injures his back, and she eventually visits the students while they are in their circle in the library. Robin initially replaced many of Carl's scenes and Carl was originally set to be a minor character with only two scenes.
  • John and Claire's kissing scene in the closet was shortened because Hughes felt that "screen kissing wears thin very quickly." Molly Ringwald described it as a "great kiss".[12]


The Breakfast Club
Soundtrack album by various artists
Released February 19, 1985
Genre Rock, New Wave
Length 38:02
Label A&M

Keith Forsey

Music sample
"Simple Minds - Don't You (Forget About Me)"
  1. "Don't You (Forget About Me)" – Simple Minds
  2. "Waiting" – E.G. Daily
  3. "Fire in the Twilight" – Wang Chung
  4. "I'm the Dude" (instrumental) – Keith Forsey
  5. "Heart Too Hot to Hold" – Jesse Johnson, Stephanie Spruill
  6. "Dream Montage" (instrumental) – Gary Chang
  7. "We Are Not Alone" – Karla DeVito
  8. "Reggae" (instrumental) – Keith Forsey
  9. "Didn't I Tell You?" – Joyce Kennedy
  10. "Love Theme" (instrumental) – Keith Forsey


In 2005 MTV announced that the film would be rewarded with the Silver Bucket of Excellence Award in honor of its 20th anniversary at the MTV Movie Awards. To coincide with the event, MTV attempted to reunite the original cast. Sheedy, Ringwald and Hall appeared together on stage, with Kapelos in the audience; Gleason personally gave the award to his former castmates. Estevez could not attend the reunion because of other commitments, and Nelson appeared earlier in the show but left before the on-stage reunion for reasons unknown, prompting Hall to joke that the two were "in Africa with Dave Chappelle." Pop-punk band Yellowcard performed a version of the movie's anthem, "Don't You Forget About Me." This show was taped on May 28, 2005, and aired on June 9.

At the 82nd Academy Awards Sheedy, Hall, Ringwald and Nelson all appeared in a tribute to John Hughes, along with other actors who had worked with Hughes including Jon Cryer from Pretty in Pink, Matthew Broderick from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and Uncle Buck.

Cultural impact

  • The Breakfast Club was ranked No. 1 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies.[13]
  • The character "Bender" in Futurama is named after Judd Nelson's Breakfast Club character, John Bender.[14] An LP record of the film's soundtrack appears in the Futurama episode "The Luck of the Fryrish", and "Don't You (Forget About Me)" is played over the same episode's end credits.
  • A JC Penney commercial aired on TV and in theaters beginning in June 2008 pays homage to the film. Several scenes are reenacted at a similar library by the commercial's actors, to the tune of a cover of "Don't You" by New Found Glory. The commercial shows a shot of the school with the name Shermer High School on the exterior of the building.[15]

In popular culture

USA Network's Psych's season 3 episode 2, "Murder? … Anyone? … Anyone? … Bueller?" references The Breakfast Club in several ways. Shawn (James Roday) has a picture of Judd Nelson as his photo nametag for the class reunion; he imitates several of the dance moves from the movie in a rooftop scene; and the episode ends with Gus (Dule Hill) giving a speech narration very similar to Anthony Michael Hall's in The Breakfast Club, including a final freeze shot of Shawn fist-pumping on a football field, wearing a trenchcoat.

In episode 2.5, "And Down the Stretch Comes Murder," Henry Spencer (Corbin Bernsen) and his friend both wear overly-loud 'lucky' shirts to a horse race, and Shawn declares, "I think your shirt, and his shirt, should get together and go bowling," the same comment Judd Nelson makes of his and Emilio Estevez' character's fathers.

In the Simpsons season 23; episode 2, Breakfast Club was referred.

Abed in the "Pilot" episode of Community refers to the group as something similar to the group in "Breakfast Club."

An upcoming episode of Victorious has been confirmed to be based on The Breakfast Club. [16]


  1. ^ "Trivia & Little Known Facts - The Breakfast Club". Retrieved 2010-07-18. 
  2. ^ Biography for Anthony Michael Hall
  3. ^ Dave Itzkoff (September 17, 2010). "She Won’t Forget About Him: Molly Ringwald Remembers John Hughes". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-09-04. 
  4. ^ "The Breakfast Club Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 17, 2010. 
  5. ^ "The Breakfast Club, Movie Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved July 14, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Empire's The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time". Empire. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  7. ^ "The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made". The New York Times. April 29, 2003. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Entertainment Weekly's The 50 Best High School Movies". AMC Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Entertainment Weekly's 50 Best High School Movies (25-1)". Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Weekend Box Office: February 15-18, 1985 - 4-day President's Day Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-09-03. 
  11. ^ a b Trivia for The Breakfast Club
  12. ^ "Molly Ringwald Interviews John Hughes". Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  13. ^ "50 Best High School Movies". 2006-09-15. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  14. ^ "Intellectual Names". Sci-Fi Baby Names: 500 Out-of-this-world Baby Names from Anakin to Zardoz. p. 119. 
  15. ^ Bachman, Katy. "J.C. Penney Joins 'The Breakfast Club'". Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  16. ^

External links

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