YMMV: Ferris Bueller's Day Off

  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Ferris is a sociopathic Manipulative Bastard who only cares about toying with others. The Spoony Experiment has fun with this one. As far as sociopathy goes, if you look at the The Sociopath analysis page, you'll notice that Ferris ticks a lot of boxes; superficially charming, extremely manipulative (for example hitting Cameron and then managing to guilt-trip him immediately afterwards), no concern at all with making other people's lives miserable (with the one exception of when he offers to take the heat when Cameron kills the car), no long term plans, totally impulsive and with no real appreciation for the consequences of his actions, trusts his own ability to make up lie after lie on the spot, contemptuous of other people's emotional states (notice his mockery of Cameron's deep-rooted fears and insecurities), and truly struggling to understand the way normal people's minds can work (look at his genuine confusion when he suggests Sloane marry him and she, quite rightly, shoots him down).
    • Another interpretation is that the entire movie is Cameron's fantasy, and that Ferris is someone he'd like to be. If you watch the movie under this assumption, things suddenly make a lot more sense. Or less sense given that Cameron would be fantasizing long stretches as both Principal Rooney and Jeanie Bueller. Unless they're simply the lingering shreds of his conscience, performing self-sabotage as try and prevent Cameron from fully embracing the fantasy that his sociopathic tendencies would bring him?
    • Conversely, another popular theory is that Cameron is the hallucination in Ferris's head. This allows the plot to remain mostly intact while adding insight on him. This is why Ferris is so confident, assured,and suave (i.e. unlike the vast majority of teenagers); he takes all his fears, doubts, and insecurities and shoves into this alternate personality he calls Cameron. This also explains why everything works out and he's universally revered; it's Through the Eyes of Madness though not to a severe degree. This is why Cameron's tenderness with Sloane is allowed, because Ferris wants to be honest with her and show her this other, more real side of himself.
    • Likewise, Jeannie is The Chew Toy. She tells the Cassandra Truth that Ferris isn't sick and is called heartless by fellow students. She tries to prove that Ferris snuck out of school (and in a manner not nearly as outrageous as the principal's) and ends up arrested and grounded by her parents. By that point she just goes with it, and to many modern viewers (particularly girls and people who understand rules) she's just been through so much that she's clearly given up. The only thing she did wrong was cut school, which Ferris also did in addition to many, many other wrong things, and yet she was the only one punished for anything, including stuff that she didn't do. Quite a few modern teens have even said they wanted her to "win" and turn in Ferris to be punished. She managed to not come off as a bad person like Rooney (or Ferris) and her giving in at the end (supposedly a sort of Heel-Face Turn) was seen as someone standing up for what they believed in being forced to cave to someone more popular. It also might have had something to do with finding Rooney's wallet and figuring she's ok with Ferris going unpunished if it means Rooney gets his for scaring her into thinking there was a rapist in her house.
    • One Alternate Character Explanation has Ferris as a kid who's good at heart and genuinely wants to help Cameron and other classmates, but goes about it the way he does because he's, well, a teenager. Sort of like a Knight Templar, but not evil, just egotistical. And really lucky.
    • Or maybe Ferris has sociopatic tendencies he does-as stated above-shown a lot of signs of sociopathy, but the movie also shows he does generally care for Cameron as he was willing to take the fall for Cameron which is something that a real sociopath is unlikely to do.
      • But then, Ferris didn't exactly beg to take the fall for Cameron, either, and quite quickly went back to being his smarmy old self once he left Cameron's place.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The "Twist and Shout" musical number, where seemingly everybody in the city of Chicago starts dancing along.
  • Canon Sue: Ferris gets away with everything and EVERYONE loves him to a ridiculous degree, (although it's slightly justified because he also gets other students out of trouble) except for the villain characters who are treated unsympathetically. He shares many traits with a Black Hole Sue, as the universe seems to revolve around him in a decidedly unrealistic (though entertaining) way.
    "...Everything works for him. There's nothing he can't handle. I can't handle anything. School, parents, future; Ferris can do anything."
  • Designated Hero: Alternate Character Interpretation holds that Ferris is spoiled, immature, selfish, obnoxious, and manipulates close friends and family for no reason beyond his own amusement. Despite his near lack of redeeming qualities, his name's in the title, so you're supposed to root for him.
  • Designated Villain / Informed Wrongness: Rooney is depicted as a Dean Bitterman-type who's seemingly trying to stop Ferris and his friends from having fun for no good reason. Except he does have good reason: it's his job to enforce school regulations, and Ferris has been breaking said regs by skipping school at least nine times before he hacks into the school computer to alter the records, and does so by blatantly exploiting the good will of everyone around him, including his parents. Yet, the movie turns the audience against him by having him go way too far in trying to catch Ferris; breaking into his house and assaulting his dog and having him act as though he's trying to catch Ferris out of spite instead of trying to enforce the rules.
  • Ear Worm: The aforementioned "Oh Yeah" by Yello.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: The economics teacher played by Ben Stein is easily the film's most iconic character, even though he only has a minute or two of screen time, and he serves no plot purpose whatsoever. His signature line ("Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?") has approached almost memetic levels, and it's often jokingly quoted in everyday conversation when someone asks a question that fails to get a response.note 
  • Epileptic Trees: The "it's all in Cameron's head" theory, anyone?
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Living life to the fullest means defying people who refuse to do so. This can mean lying, cheating and stealing.
    • Jean's character arc comes down to letting Ferris get away with his behavior by accepting who he is and moving on with her life, because all of her attempts to expose him have only given her more grief than Ferris ever did to her personally. It's a stark contrast to other aesops that make you think you are only validated if you can achieve an unreachable goal.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Jeffery Jones as Ed Rooney is kind of uncomfortable to watch today.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Alternate Character Interpretation paints Rooney as this. His crusade to take down the rulebreaking Ferris for the sake of enforcing the rules causes him to commit some morally questionable acts himself, and he abandons his own post for the day to do so. See Designated Villain above for more info.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The biker Jeannie meets at the police station is played by a very young Charlie Sheen, whose first three lines include the word "drugs"; the first and third lines simply are the word "drugs".
    • Jeannie's scream before she runs after kicking Rooney looks similar to Kevin's scream and run during Home Alone.
  • Inferred Holocaust: When Ferris drops Sloane off at her house, she says pretty much what the audience is thinking at that point: "Do you really think Cameron's going to be okay?"
  • Magnificent Bastard: Ferris, if one believes him to be a villain.
  • Memetic Mutation: How many tropers have had a class where the teacher didn't say "Bueller? Bueller?" at least once during attendance? Ben Stein has said he wants it on his tombstone.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Ben Stein as the economics professor. (Technically two)
    • "Bueller? Bueller"?
    • Charlie Sheen as the druggie in the police station.
    Druggie: You oughta spend a little more time worryin' 'bout yourself, and a little less time worryin' 'bout what your brother does...
  • Ron the Death Eater: Skipping school to have fun with his friends? Ferris Bueller is a monster!
  • Strawman Has a Point: Rooney's quest to prove that Bueller is ditching school is a legitimate concern. Most schools in America are legally required to maintain student attendance, or they face the possibility of having their funding cut.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The Ferris Bueller TV series employed a little musical riff that seems awfully similar to Yello's "Oh Yeah". (F-F-F-Ferris B-B-B-Bueller hee hoo!)
  • Recycled: The Series: Lasted barely a season.
  • They Just Didn't Care: The aforementioned TV series on NBC, bordering on In Name Only. Virtually everything that made the film so memorable was stripped away — the setting was changed from Chicago to L.A., the soundtrack consisted of a near-endless loop of Casio riffs fit to make one's ears bleed, Ferris was now an obnoxious nerd who only believed he was wildly popular (and attended school without complaint!), Cameron was still neurotic but lacked the tragic backstory from the film, thus making him a figure of fun, Sloane was now catty and shallow note , Ferris's parents were now named Bill and Barbara instead of Tom and Katie, and the list goes on and on. Not surprisingly, it lasted a grand total of 13 episodes. Not even a very young Jennifer Aniston (as Jeannie) could save it. John Hughes actually did not like the series, himself, and actually tried to block its release. Unfortunately, he failed miserably to do so, and the best that he could do was to demand that NBC and Paramount, which produced both the series and the original film, not use his name to promote the series.
  • The Woobie: Cameron.
    • Jerkass Woobie: Jeannie have her moments too, though its more of this trope, given how she reacts to her problems by being a spiteful, bitter Jerk Ass to everyone around her.
      • Not too much though. A lot of modern teens (especially ones who understand rules) saw her as more The Chew Toy. She could either A) right a wrong (her brother manipulating her parents and the whole school, which he had done before—9 times) and stand up for what she saw as right and wrong or B) give up. Her giving up was supposed to be a good thing.