Characters / The Breakfast Club

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The Breakfast Club

    In General

A group of five wildly different teens who spend a day in detention together.
  • Abusive Parents: Every single one of them have parents who treat them horribly.
    • Bender — His father is a physically abusive alcoholic, who also beats his wife, who isn't a good parent either.
    • Claire — Psychologically abusive, with a side of neglect. Her parents use her as a weapon to get back at each other.
    • Andrew — His scumbag father lives vicariously off of his athletic achievements.
    • Brian — His parents guilt trip, intimidate, and generally emotionally abuse him to make straight A's. Like Andy's dad, it's insinuated that they're living through him as well.
    • Allison — You're probably noticing a theme here. Though Allison's parents are more neglectful than outright abusive, it still ties into the topic of conversation.
  • Broken Bird: All of them are cynical (except Brian), unhappy with themselves and their lives, and full of angst. And all of them have abusive parents and a horrible home life.
  • Character Development: All of them learn to embrace who they really are, as well as accepting other people.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Each of them wear a different color. Bender is red, Andy is blue, Brian is green, Claire is pink, and Allison is black and later, white.
  • Deconstructed Trope: This film takes a very good look at what many of the "stock" characters of teen movies (the Jerk Jock, the Alpha Bitch, the nerd, the delinquent, the crazy loner) would be like if they existed in real life, and what their real motivations would be like.
  • Freudian Excuse: All of them, villain or not, have Parental Issues and a reason behind their behavior. Bender's parents despise him (and they burnt his arm with a cigar for spilling paint in the garage), Claire's parents pamper her to get back at each other, Allison's parents ignore her, Andrew's dad is a Stage Mom who is obsessed with his winning, and Brian's parents coddle him too much and are obsessed with him getting good marks to the point that he considers committing suicide because he got an F.
  • Hidden Depths: Their outside appearances are totally different from how they feel on the inside.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: None of them exactly inspire optimism, but they try to handle their lives and try to escape the cycle of abuse and complete misery that happened to their abusive parents.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Allison and Claire.

    John Bender
Played by: Judd Nelson

" couldn't ignore me if you tried."

John Bender is the stereotypical reckless out of control "criminal" of the group.
  • Anti-Hero: An Unscrupulous Hero at best or a Nominal Hero at his worst.
  • Attention Whore: Will seemingly do anything to attract your attention.
  • Ax-Crazy: On display, such as in the "I want to be an Airborne Ranger" scene, and threatening Andy with a knife. Over the course of the film, it becomes clear that it's only an image he cultivates for himself.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Claire.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Accusing him of lying about his abusive life at home.
    • Talking about his friends will piss him off.
  • Boisterous Weakling: Slowly revealed to be this. Bender talks tough but once Andy turns out to be a good deal tougher than him he tries to look tough while backing away from the fight. Later when Vernon challenges him to an outright fist-fight, even offering him a free shot right to the face, Bender is too spooked to do anything.
  • Book Dumb: Downplayed. For someone who's made out to have plenty of school trouble, Bender is scarily articulate and intelligent.
  • Byronic Hero: Rather street smart instead of book smart, but he's also extremely hostile to everyone.
  • Color Motif: Red.
  • Cool Loser: Bender is an outcast in the school, but looks like a cool guy to hang out with when he isn't being psycho.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Often makes snide remarks towards Vernon and the other kids in detention.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Andy's speech about how he regrets bullying a weaker student and how much he resents his dad for pushing him so hard gets to Bender so much he can't even look anyone in the eye during it.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine.
  • Freudian Excuse: His violent behavior comes from his dad, as deep down, he's unhappy about life in general.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Towards Claire, eventually. Although Bender is more an Anti-Hero, he's probably the main character, since he gets more focus than everyone else.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Straddles the line between this and a Sociopathic Hero.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Bender draws the attention of Vernon after the Club runs into a dead-end during their hallway jaunt, allowing the other four to get back to the library undetected.
  • Ineffectual Loner: In the beginning, he comes off as an antisocial and loudmouthed Jerkass, but once you understand his backstory, he becomes more sympathetic.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: An asshole he may be, Bender isn't wrong in some of the deductions he makes about the others (see Smarter Than You Look).
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He spends much of his time verbally taunting the other kids, acts obnoxiously just to get attention, makes heinous sexual comments about Claire, and doesn't cut Vernon a break. Later on, it's revealed that his sympathetic qualities are buried so deeply under so much antisocial behavior and cynicism that it comes off as a Hidden Heart of Gold at times.
  • Large Ham: He's pretty bombastic.
  • Last Name Basis: Note how the other kids refer to him simply as "Bender".
  • Loving Bully: Possibly the reason why Claire is the main target of his endless insults (even more than everyone else), since he actually has a crush on her.
  • Miles Gloriosus: He puts out an image of toughness but Andy is able to take him down with ease. Even when Bender pulls a knife and casually talks about killing Andy, he's slowly backing away from the fight.
  • Misery Poker: Growing up with two physically abusive parents means that Bender doesn't have a lot of sympathy for the other kids complaining about their home lives. This seems to be the main reason he enjoys tormenting Claire and Brian. He seems to grow out of this toward the end of the film, looking sympathetic when Brian admits he's considered suicide due to how his parents treat him and even joking with Andy that their abusive fathers aren't all that different.
    "I think your old man and my old man oughta go bowling."
  • Mouthy Kid: When Vernon attempts to find a solution to keep the door open. Bender's comments are both hilarious and true.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: "That was great, Claire. My image of you is totally blown."
  • Smarter Than You Look: While he isn't book smart, he is able to cleverly deduce things about the others. He was the first to tell that Claire is a virgin before Allison made her admit it and was the first to notice that Andrew didn't like his parents before Andrew tearfully admitted it in the end.
  • Sociopathic Hero: At first, then he warms up to the four others he's spending detention with.
  • Skunk Stripe: He has a white streak in the front of his hair.
  • Stepford Snarker: What he really is behind his cruel and sarcastic attitude, due to an abusive home life.
  • Token Evil Teammate: He is easily the meanest person in detention, though he cools down later in the film.
  • Troubled, but Cute: An antisocial "bad boy" with numerous girlfriends, or so he claims, though it's possible he was exaggerating.

    Claire Standish
Played by: Molly Ringwald

"Excuse me sir, I think there's been a mistake. I know it's detention, but I don't think I belong in here."

Claire Standish is the stereotypical rich, popular "princess" of the group.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: She hooks up with Bender in the end.
  • Alpha Bitch: She's a rich Daddy's girl that lives up to the stereotype.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Bender.
  • Boobs of Steel: Very downplayed, but her special talent turns out to be holding a tube of lipstick with her chest and applying it to her face.
  • Brutal Honesty: Claire doesn't mince words when stating her opinions, like postulating that no one in the Breakfast Club would speak to each other come Monday due to fear of breaking the status quo.
  • Color Motif: Pink.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Eventually warms up to the others, showing she can be really nice.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Claire stomps on Bender's hands and hits him when he crosses the line by sticking his face in her panties. She also later calls him out for constantly being a complete bully to her.
  • Fiery Redhead: Has flaming auburn hair and does lose it a few times during the film.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Choleric.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Towards Brian.
  • Jerkass Façade: She acts mean towards others because she's afraid of being rejected by her other popular friends. Though underneath it all, she really is a kind person.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Snobbish as she is, she has every right to act disgusted toward Bender, who harasses her through the whole movie.
  • Large Ham: She's played by Molly Ringwald. It's a must.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Deep down, she does show a soft side to the others.
  • Nominal Hero: She only came to detention to protect her reputation, as well as her father's.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Early on, she reassures Brian that there is nothing wrong with being a virgin.
    • Telling Brian that suicide is never the answer.
    • Giving Allison a makeover.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Wears a pink shirt, which fits her girly "princess" status.
  • Shipper on Deck: Decides to give Allison a makeover after noticing that she and Andrew are sharing Longing Looks to each other.
  • The Tease: Deconstructed. She doesn't want to admit to neither being a virgin nor not being one, and seems to be subconsciously aware of the "trap" that as Allison points out lays in that question.
  • Uptown Girl: Rich spoiled princess Claire falls for troubled delinquent Bender at the end.
  • With Friends Like These...: It's implied that the other girls she skipped class with weaseled, bribed, or cajoled the powers that be into getting out of detention.

    Andrew "Andy" Clark
Played by: Emilio Estevez

"We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all."

Andrew Clark is the stereotypical popular, good looking "athlete" of the group.
  • Angry Dance: He's a surprisingly good dancer. Oddly enough, it's his reaction to getting stoned.
  • Big Eater: His lunch consists of a bag of chips, three sandwiches, an apple, a banana, a bag of cookies, and an entire carton of milk. Being he's on the wrestling team, his diet is probably calculated to help him stay in a specific weight class.
  • Big Man on Campus: He's a big wrestling star. Consequently, he's used to acting this way.
  • Blue Is Heroic: While Andy can be cynical, he stands up for both Brian and Claire when Bender tries to pick on them. He also wears blue; but noticeably becomes bluer as he takes layers of his clothes off as the film progresses.
  • Broken Ace: A popular talented athlete with daddy issues.
  • Color Motif: Blue.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mostly in reaction to Bender's insults.
  • Everyone Has Standards: One of the reasons he hates his father. He may be a jock, but there are lines he refuses to cross, and he's not a sell-out.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic.
  • I Know Madden Kombat: Bender makes fun of Andy for being on the wrestling team, but once pushed into a confrontation, Andy is able to use his wrestling techniques to take him down with ease.
  • Jerkass Façade: As seen below, he clearly doesn't like to be a Jerk Jock, but he feels like he has to be a bully to the weaker students because his father expects that behavior out of him. When he plays a humiliating and painful prank on another kid, he feels terrible about it afterward.
  • Jerk Jock: Deconstructed. Andy only acts this way because his father essentially makes him act that way, obsessed with winning and living through his son. And Andy is painfully aware of it.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Possesses a gruff, sour exterior, but has a big heart.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Second type. He's a natural cynic, and in any other movie, he'd just be a stereotypical Jerk Jock. However, he holds on to a code of conduct, which leads his father and, possibly, his fellow athletes to see him as soft.
  • Longing Look: One hint about his crush on Allison is that he stares meaningfully at her when she doesn't notice.
  • Lovable Jock: The Trope Codifier. He's deeply ashamed of his father's behavior and what he did to earn his said father's love.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Goes by "Andy" instead of his full name.
  • Two First Names: His last name, Clark, can also be used as a first name.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Andy outright states in an emotional breakdown that all his dad cares about is his son's win-loss ratio.

    Brian Johnson
Played by: Anthony Michael Hall

"Your middle name is Ralph, as in puke, your birth date's March 12th, you're 5'9 and a half, you weigh 130 pounds and your social security number is 049380913."
Allison Reynolds

Brian Johnson is the stereotypical geeky, smart "brain" of the group.
  • Adorkable: He's the brainiest of the kinds in detention, and is rather socially awkward.
  • Alone Among the Couples: He's the only one who is not romantically paired with anyone by the end of the film.
  • Berserk Button: The first time Brian actually becomes very angry throughout detention is when Claire told him, he doesn't know what it's like to feel pressure.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: His response to Claire's claim that he and his friends want to be like her and the "cooler kids", and that he doesn't know what pressure feels like, is a direct "fuck you!" to her.
  • Bungled Suicide: He tried to commit suicide because of the intense pressure his parents put on him.
  • Butt Monkey: Mother of God. The things he goes through at home and at school would make Franz Kafka proud.
  • Classical Anti-Hero: In the truly classical sense. He's a neurotic, shy, but ultimately polite and gifted young man who's cracking under ungodly pressure and generally being trodden on by virtually everyone around.
  • Color Motif: Green.
  • Cosmic Plaything: If something appears to be going his way, it really isn't. Life doesn't let up on this poor guy.
  • Covert Pervert: Can be seen adjusting his trousers at one point.
  • The Cutie: Behaves the most childlike out of all the kids in detention.
  • Deadpan Snarker: On occasion.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: "Ralph".
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: Brian claims to have a girlfriend living up in Niagara Falls, in addition to having had sex with several other girls. When pressed, he admits he made the whole thing up because he's embarrassed to admit he's a virgin.
  • The Heart: Of the Breakfast Club. He is the only one who attempts to keep Bender and Andy from trying to fight each other and also writes the letter voicing the kids' opinions to Vernon in the end.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: He grows rather cynical late in the film, especially after Claire pushes his Berserk Button. But he's better by the end.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: He's stereotypically unpopular.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses
  • Meaningful Name: If the letters of his name were switched around, "Brian" would spell "brain". It should be noted that "Johnson" is a slang term for penis, or "dick". He's literally a "brain" in a family of assholes.
  • Nice Guy: The nicest character in the entire film - notably, he's the only character in the film who's nice to the janitor. This being The Breakfast Club, he gets put through hell for it.
  • The Pollyanna: It takes a lot to put him in a bad mood.
  • Sad Clown: He's a bit of a goofball (sticking a pen in his nose to pretend he's a walrus), but has a less than stellar life at home.
  • Shrinking Violet: Brian retains a shy, soft-spoken demeanor.
  • Teen Genius: Deconstructed. His parents enforce the idea that he has to get straight A's in order to be anything in his life, and as smart as he is, he still doesn't meet their insane standards.
  • Two First Names: His last name, Johnson, can also be used as a first name.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Especially early in film; he is sweet, innocent, and unspoiled.

    Allison Reynolds
Click here  to see her makeover
Played by: Ally Sheedy

"When you grow up, your heart dies."

Allison Reynolds is the stereotypical weird, quiet "basket case" of the group.
  • Adorkable: While her odd behavior creeps out her fellow detentionees, there is just something strangely charming about a girl who tries to hide under her hooded jacket when frightened or uses her own dandruff as makeshift snow in a drawing.
  • Attention Whore: Inverted. Due to the amount of neglect from her folks - Allison uses her withdrawn and quirky persona in order to get people to acknowledge her; though she'd never admit it. Unlike Bender, who gets all up in the others' faces with callous remarks and annoying behavior. When it doesn't prove to be effective, she slowly begins dropping the act.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: She sits the furthest away from the other students in detention, but like Bender, she is smarter than she looks. Allison quickly debunks Andy's false reason for being in detention early in the film. It's also shown when she tricks Claire into admitting she's a virgin with a phony nymphomaniac story.
  • Character Tic: It's subtle, but Allison squeaks when she's nervous or surprised.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Exhibits a lot of spastic behavior, as one may think she's mentally ill.
  • Color Motif: Black. Also, in the end, white.
  • Cool Loser: She is cute, a skilled pickpocket, cool under pressure, and a talented artist. All while being unpopular in school. In a deleted scene, Claire even lampshades it.
    Claire: (giddily) She's nuts, but she's cool.
  • Crazy Consumption: Allison lets her soda spill out, and licks it off the table. Then she throws away the baloney from her sandwich, and replaces it with Pixy Stix (powdered candy) and Cap'n Crunch cereal.
  • The Fatalist: Allison believes and fully accepts that when the kids grow up, they'll become abusive and uncaring just like their parents no matter how hard they try not to. She seems to have become more optimistic near the end of the film though.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Leukine.
  • Girliness Upgrade: Following her makeover.
  • Handy Feet: She claims she has them. In the uncut version of the movie, the only copy of which was on a VHS tape lost after John Hughes' death, this claim was followed with her actually writing with her toes, completely filmed.
  • It Amused Me: She comes to detention just because she can.
  • Loners Are Freaks: She's often ignored by everyone, including her own parents, causing her to do bizarre thing.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Yes, she can come off as aloof and catty, but it's shown that she's just really lonely and socially inept. Allison is usually harmless and actually somewhat noble when interacting with the others. She waits for Bender when the kids are running through the halls, stands up for Claire when Bender dismisses her talent, kindly thanks Brian after he silently compliments her makeover, and finally, there's her relationship with Andy.
  • Nerves of Steel: When the kids are running around the school to avoid Vernon catching them, a single shot of Allison is shown leaning against a locker looking hilariously composed.
  • No Social Skills: She doesn't seem to be particularly good at making conversation, like when she tries to chime in on Brian and Andy's chat session - by revealing that she stole Brian's wallet earlier.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: She's perfectly able to act like a normal person, so her spastic "basket case" behavior early in the movie was definitely just an act.
  • Parental Neglect: The only information she ever volunteers about her parents is when Andy asks her what her parents did to her. She replies with a simple but pained "they ignore me".
  • The Quiet One: Being the outcast/loner, in the first half of the movie she is just a quiet observer and doesn't talk or interact with the others.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Her hair is chestnut and she has creamy skin. It's enough to make Andy fall for her, even before she gets a restyling.
  • Self-Proclaimed Liar: According to her, she's in detention because she had nothing better to do. She also admits she lies and makes things up for fun.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: After Claire gives her a makeover. Andy and Brian's expressions say it all.
  • Silent Snarker: Allison is responsible for more than one Funny Background Event. A straightforward example is when she's eating her powdered sugar and cereal sandwich, and everyone turns to look at her. She pauses, begins chewing louder, and gives them a quick wink.
  • Sticky Fingers: Allison steals the lock to Bender's locker, his knife, Brian's wallet and a patch from Andrew's jacket. Her bag is full of things she's taken in the past. It turns out she does this in case she ever decides to run away from home.
  • Sweet Tooth: See Crazy Consumption above for elaboration.
  • Woman in Black: Allison's wardrobe mainly consists of the color black. However, after she learns to open up, she becomes a Woman in White

Shermer High Faculty and Staff

    Richard "Dick" Vernon
Played by: Paul Gleason

The principal of the school and the one who is in charge of watching over the main characters.
  • Anti-Hero: Depending on who you ask, he may be a Type V.
  • Anti-Villain: He's a jerk to the main characters and tried to start a fight with Bender, but he is a stressed principal.
  • Dean Bitterman: Although it's deconstructed somewhat in his conversation with Carl.
    Vernon: Carl, I've been teaching for twenty-two years. And, each year, these kids get more and more arrogant.
    Carl: Aw, bullshit, man. Come on, Vern, the kids haven't changed; you have. You took a teaching position because you thought it'd be fun, right? Thought you'd have summer vacations off. And then you found out it was actually work, and that really bummed you out.
    Vernon: These kids turned on me. They think I'm a big fucking joke.
    Carl: C'mon…listen, Vern, if you were sixteen, what would you think of you, huh?
    Vernon: Hey, Carl. You think I give one rat's ass what these kids think of me?
    Carl: Yes, I do.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: He is frustrated that his students (especially Bender) don't show him any respect whatsoever, and as a result he comes down pretty hard on them.
  • Jerkass: Vernon just seems to be in a perpetually foul mood. He treats the kids like dirt throughout the film.
  • Knight Templar: He might have good intentions with why he wants the students to write an essay, or to set them on the right path in life. But, he goes so far in his pursuits, and acts like such a colossal jerk to everyone, it's impossible to sympathize with him.
  • Meaningful Name: There's a reason why his name is Dick. Have a guess.
  • Nominal Hero: He didn't become a principal out of altruism.
  • Non-Giving-Up School Guy: He'll do whatever it takes to make sure the students have a good education. Though it's implied in the conversation with Carl that he hates his job, and only goes so far because it's the only way he can exert any control.
  • Two First Names: His last name, Vernon, can also be used as a first name.

    Carl Reed
Played by: John Kapelos

The janitor of the school.
  • Almighty Janitor: He tells off Principal Vernon to his face when he complains about them.
  • Badass Boast: He makes one when Bender makes a crack at his job. It's so awesome, this troper never wants to make fun of Janitors again.
    Carl: You guys think I'm just some untouchable peasant? Serf? Peon? Well, maybe so. But following a broom around after shitheads like you for the last 8 years, I've learned a couple of things. I look through your letters. I look through your lockers. I listen to your conversations, you don't know that but I do. I am the eyes and ears of this institution, my friends.
  • The Cynic
  • Deadpan Snarker: Has a dry, sardonic sense of humor.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Carl was Man of the Year in 1969, and in his own words, aspired to be like John Lennon, implying he wanted to go become a musician. Now, for whatever reason, he's working a wage-slave job as a custodian at the same school he graduated from, and it's clear he isn't a happy man.
  • Jaded Washout: He's a former Man of the Year turned destitute janitor.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: In spite of his cynical attitude, he's quite possibly the only adult in the film that wants to do the right thing.
  • The Last DJ: Seems to favor his job as a janitor over advancement.
  • Token Good Teammate: He's the only adult that treats the kids with some degree of civility.

The Parents

    As a whole 
  • Dysfunction Junction: Like parents, like kids.
  • Greater Scope Villain: Though Vernon is the main antagonist of the film, they cast a pall over the story by being the authors of many of their kids problems.
  • Hate Sink: Justified and possibly deconstructed. A majority of their children's issues can be attributed to them, so it makes sense to show how self-centered, irresponsible, and abusive they are in their limited time on screen. However, it can be argued that they're not simply mean for the sake of it, but rather driven by their own failings or vices.

    Mr. Standish
Played by: Tim Gamble

Claire's father.
  • Abusive Parent: Psychologically. He uses Claire to get payback on his wife, who is no saint either.
  • Rich Bastard: Naturally.
  • Slave to PR: He drops Claire off at detention not because it's the right thing to do, but because he has a reputation to uphold.
  • Slimeball: He has a pretty reptilian, two-faced demeanor.
  • Sugary Malice: Never loses his fatherly façade.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Possibly a man of some importance in the town of Shermer.

    Mrs. Johnson
Played by: Mercedes Hall

Brian's mother.
  • '80s Hair: Just look at the pic.
  • Abusive Parent: Probably the nastiest parent we see in the film, next to Andy's dad. In addition to putting a metric ton of pressure on her son to get straight A's, she has the audacity to verbally abuse him as she's dropping him off at detention. In front of her younger daughter.
  • Because I Said So: When Brian rightly points out that they're not allowed to study in detention, she barks at him "figure out a way".
  • Education Mama: A particularly nasty variant, and quite possibly one of the earliest deconstructions of this trope. It's strongly implied that, like Andy's dad, she's just living vicariously through Brian.
  • Entitled Bitch: She treats her son little better than pond scum, yet still expects him to do her bidding.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Easily enraged and very volatile.
  • Jerkass: Holy shit.
  • Lack of Empathy: It's strongly implied she knew about Brian's suicidal tendencies, but doesn't give a rat's ass.
  • Misery Builds Character: This appears to be her whole philosophy towards parenting and education. To her, happiness is abject hardship.
  • Stage Mom: An academic example.
  • Straw Character: Possesses an "up-by-the-bootstraps" attitude towards success, implying a conservative or libertarian mindset.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: It she had any gratitude for Brian's efforts, she definitely doesn't show it.

    Mr. Clark
Played by: Ron Dean

Andy's father.