Follow TV Tropes


Characters / The Breakfast Club

Go To

    open/close all folders 

The Breakfast Club


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 father is an overgrown Jerk Jock who 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.
  • All-Stereotype Cast: Deconstructed. Each of the students in detention fulfills a high school stereotype of The '80s: specifically, jocks, brainiacs, princesses, criminals, and basket cases — and yet is about showing how they're much more than those stereotypes.
  • 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 Character Archetype: 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.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Freudian Excuse: All the kids have this. A major theme in the movie is how adults can shape their kids for better or worse, intentionally or not. Bender grew up learning how to be tough because his dad beats him, Andrew is driven to compete and bullies another kid because his dad is always pushing him and going off on the wild things he did as a teen, Allison acts like she's nuts for attention because her parents ignore her, Brian is a socially-inept nerd because his parents are always forcing him to study, and Claire is a shallow popular girl because she feels empty inside due to her parents using her as a weapon.
  • Hidden Depths: Their outside appearances are totally different from how they feel on the inside.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: Out of the boys, we have nerdy harmless Brian (nice), abrasive and spiteful Jerkass Bender (mean), and Andy who is remorseful for his Jerk Jock actions (in-between).
  • 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. He is easily the meanest person in detention, though he cools down later in the film.
  • Attention Whore: He's always insulting somebody (whether it be the principal, the janitor or his peers), and it's obviously for attention. There's also his thorough, speculative impression of Brian's household, and the way he announces it out of nowhere without being asked and just assumes (correctly) they'll all watch.
  • 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: 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.
  • Everyone 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.
    • He also draws the line at avoiding his friends just to avoid being laughed at by others. Shown when he flips out at Claire.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine.
  • Freudian Excuse: His violent behavior comes from his dad, as deep down, he's unhappy about life in general.
  • The Gadfly: Likes to screw with the others for his own entertainment, but which is actually supposed to be entertaining.
  • 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.
  • Meaningful Name: His last name is Bender and he bends/breaks rules.
  • 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.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: He makes quite a few sexist comments toward Claire, and casually uses the word "fag."
  • 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.
  • The Unfettered: No matter how many detentions Vernon threatens him with, Bender completely refuses to drop his tough guy demeanor as he makes it clear to Vernon that he couldn’t care less if he gives so many detentions, not that it stumps Vernon however.
  • Unfortunate Names: His surname is derogatory British slang for a male homosexual.
  • Villainous BSoD:
    • After Andy hits his Berserk Button, Bender flips out, ape-flings himself up a statue and some railings, and cowers alone in an emotional heap.
    • Later, after Principal Vernon explicitly promises to one day find Bender and beat the shit out of him, Bender is left frozen with fear.

    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: Deconstructed. She both covets and resents the attention she gets and feels extremely burdened by it.
  • Anti-Hero: Type V.
  • Authority in Name Only: Just because she's at the top of the social food chain in her high school hierarchy, that doesn't mean the other popular kids hold her in any regard; on the contrary, Claire is little more than a glorified slave to peer pressure.
  • 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.
  • The Chick: The group's "princess".
  • Color Motif: Pink.
  • Condescending Compassion: Her drama partially stems from the fact that her friends pressure her to be unkind to the unpopular kids.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Eventually warms up to the others, showing she can be really nice.
  • Expert in Underwater Basket Weaving: Claire demonstrates her ability to apply lip color by tucking into her bra and rubbing her mouth against it.
  • Fiery Redhead: Has flaming auburn hair and does ham it up a few times during the film.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: 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.
  • Innocently Insensitive: She tends to be rather insulting towards Brian without meaning to be.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Snobbish as she is, she has every right to act disgusted toward Bender, who harasses her through the whole movie. She calls him out near the end of the movie for constantly being a complete bully to her.
  • Large Ham: She's played by Molly Ringwald. It's a must.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Claire is one deep down. Whilst she is initially rude to Allison, she is fairly kind to Brian right off the bat (sort-of comforting him about being a virgin), and later gives Allison a makeover, being nice to her "because you're letting me".
  • Meaningful Name: As her last name indicates, she's initially standoffish.
  • 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.
  • Promotion to Parent: Implies her older brother to serve this role for her when asked which parent she would choose to live with if her parents finally divorce.
  • 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.
  • The Big Guy: The physically strongest one in the group.
  • Big Man on Campus: He's a big wrestling star trying to emulate his father who demands that Andy always be at the top. 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.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: 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.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Seems to be this for Claire in the beginning. He seems noticeably annoyed by her interaction with John.
  • 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.
  • Jerk Jock: Deconstructed. He feels like he has to be an asshole and 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, but his dad is only upset that he got caught. Before revealing why he's in detention he is possibly the kindest of the characters, sticking up for Claire and Brian when Bender picks on them, showing real concern for Alison when she is upset, and even regrets accusing John of lying about his abuse and he sees how angry it made him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Possesses a gruff, sour exterior, but has a big heart.
  • Knight In Sour Armor: Second type. He is a natural cynic, but 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: What he is deep down. He's deeply ashamed of his father's behavior and what he did to earn his said father's love. When he reveals to the others why he got detention for taping another student's butt cheeks together, Brian, who knows the victim as well the details of incident aside from the perpetrator, is shocked that Andy was the one who did it.
  • Meaningful Name: Andrew is Greek for "manly and strong."
  • 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
"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 kids 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.
  • Annoying Younger Siblings: Has one in the first scene of the movie.
  • Berserk Button: The first time Brian actually becomes very angry throughout detention is when Claire tells 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.
  • The B Grade: Gets a low mark in shop class, meaning he can't get the perfect A's he was striving for.
  • Break the Cutie: His entire existence.
  • 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. He's on the receiving end of Kick the Dog throughout much of the film.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Four-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 BSoD: 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.
  • Ironic Name: While Brian himself is a nice, polite young man, his name can be interpreted to mean "dickhead".
  • Jaded Washout: Of all the kids in detention, Brian is perhaps the one most likely to become this in adulthood. Though undeniably intelligent, he lacks the confidence, willpower, social skills, and possesses a paralyzing fear of imperfection, all of which doom him once he gets out of high school.
  • 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. Unfortunately, that means he's a "dickhead".
  • Minor with Fake I.D.: He has one so he can vote.
  • 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.
  • The Smart Guy: The group's "brain".
  • 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: Invoked with Allison, who never specifically states as such, but explains at one point that her parents ignore her, making her attention-seeking behaviour increasingly understandable when she's basically locked in for the morning with people who have to keep her company. At one point, she actively reveals that she didn't even have to come in to detention - she simply chose to. The principal never even questions this. This, along with her designation as the 'basket case' of the group, suggests something of a darker slant on the trope and her loneliness. 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.
    Bender: She doesn't talk, sir.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Exhibits a lot of spastic behavior, as one may think she's mentally ill.
  • Color Motif: Black. Also, in the end, white.
  • Compulsive Liar: After tricking Claire into revealing her virgin status, Allison admits that she's a virgin too, coupled with describing herself as this.
  • 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 bologna from her sandwich, and replaces it with Pixy Stix (powdered candy) and Cap'n Crunch cereal.
  • Everyone Has Standards: She's the first to cuss out Bender for going back on his promise not to laugh at Claire's talent.
  • Expert in Underwater Basket Weaving: Without ever demonstrating it, Allison claims that she can write, eat, brush her teeth, and play "Heart and Soul" on the piano with her toes.
  • 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.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Leukine.
  • Friendless Background: Reveals that she doesn't have any friends.
  • Girliness Upgrade: Following her makeover.
  • Hidden Depths: She is quite an accomplished pickpocket, and is quite talented at drawing. A deleted scene from the now-lost uncut version reveals that she can play the piano with her feet.
  • 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 things.
  • Messy Hair: She starts out with this, and even shakes dandruff out of it to use as snow on a landscape drawing.
  • 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.
  • Really Gets Around: She proclaims that she's a nypmhomaniac who will do anything sexual, and not even for money; when she told her shrink, he slept with her right there. Then she admits that she made the whole thing up and is still a virgin.
  • 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.
  • Shrinking Violet: She sits there quietly for the first half-hour, not interacting with the other students.
  • Silent Snarker: She 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: 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.

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.

  • Angry White Man: He definitely has shades of this.
  • Anti-Villain: He's a jerk to the main characters and tried to start a fight with Bender, but he is a stressed principal.
  • Apathetic Teacher: Of the principal variety.
  • Big Bad: The closest thing this film has to one, anyway.
  • Dean Bitterman: As Carl points out, he wanted an easy job where children respected him, but couldn't handle the reality and lashed out against the children. At the same time, his mannerisms and facial expressions in many of his individual scenes indicate that he himself doesn't like co-ordinating the gang's Saturday detention. 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.
  • A Dick in Name: His name is Dick, and he's not a very pleasant guy.
  • Hobbes Was Right: His philosophy towards his treatment of the kids.
  • 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.
  • Jaded Washout: It's implied that Vernon had higher expectations for his life, but years of being underpaid and disrespected by the youth in his charge seems to have finally gotten to him. At this point, he just doesn't care.
  • Jerkass: Vernon just seems to be in a perpetually foul mood. He treats the kids like dirt throughout the film.
  • Kick the Dog: When he intimidates Bender (a physically abused minor) with a beatdown when the two of them are alone behind closed doors, and then rubs it in his face he can just say Bender attacked him and nobody will question it. Vernon is a grown-ass man and yet here he behaves like little more than the childish schoolyard bully that he would have Bender think he is.
  • 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.
  • Never My Fault: After Bender steals the screw that is holding the library door open, Vernon orders Andrew to help him move a magazine rack in front of the door to hold it open, only for Bender to point out that it's a potential fire hazard. Then Vernon turns around and gets mad at Andrew for engaging in such an embarrassing, risky idea, in spite of the fact that it was actually his own idea and which the boy only did since he commanded him to do it in the first place.
  • 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 catches Vernon snooping through Bender's personal files and blackmails him. And earlier, he notices that the hands on the library clock have been moved twenty minutes ahead.
    • Also, in the beginning of the movie, different shots of the school hallways and classrooms are shown. There is a picture of a former Shermer High School student "Man of the Year". The guy in the picture is Carl Reed.
  • Badass Boast: He makes one when Bender makes a crack at his job.
    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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Has a dry, sardonic sense of humor.
  • Foil: To Vernon; they're both incredibly jaded and cynical, but whereas Vernon is self-important and lords his power over the students, Carl is humble and at least wants to do the right thing.
  • 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, though unlike Vernon, he displays a stronger work ethic.
  • 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.
  • Only Sane Man: When compared to the rest of the characters Carl is probably the character with the least emotional baggage.
  • Token Good Teammate: He's the only adult that treats the kids with some degree of kindness, although in an extended version of his Badass Boast scene on the Criterion release he shows some flat-out Jerkass when he predicts where the kids would be in the future, for example Allison (whom he just mercilessly shits on anyway even though it's obvious she's gotten enough of it already and dubs as 'Miss Sensitive' to top it all off) would be a 'pretty fuckin' good' poet, but nobody would give a shit, while Brian would be somewhat successful but die of a heart attack early, complete with laughter. If this had made it into the movie, Carl would be just as equally bad as every other adult in the film and it'd be enough to dislike him like Vernon and the parents. If you're not sympathizing with the kids' point of view, you might see this as a Refuge in Audacity moment.


The Parents

    As a whole 

    George Standish
Played by: Tim Gamble

Claire's father, a slippery rich guy butting heads with his wife.

  • Abusive Parent: Psychologically. He uses Claire to get payback on his wife, who is no saint either.
  • All There in the Manual: His first name is revealed by Claire in a deleted scene on the Criterion release.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: To the public, he portrays himself as loving husband and all-around family man. In truth, he's a conniver and backstabber who gladly throw his own daughter under the bus just to spite his wife.
  • Dirty Coward: He's okay with using Claire as a shield in his constant quarrels with his wife rather than owning up to his faults.
  • Rich Bastard: Financially well-off and a sleaze.
  • 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: His attempts at fatherly charm are forced and transparent. You can practically see the slime oozing from his pores when he hands Claire her lunch.
  • Smug Snake: Has a reptilian, two-faced demeanor.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: He's implied to be a man of some importance in Shermer.

    Mrs. Johnson
Played by: Mercedes Hall

Brian's mother, an Education Mama who's impossible to please.

  • '80s Hair: Just look at the pic.
  • Abusive Parent: Probably the nastiest parent we see in the film. In addition to putting a metric ton of pressure on her son to get straight A's, she verbally abuses him as she's dropping him off at detention. In front of her younger daughter.
  • Ax-Crazy: Had Brian not gotten out of her car quicker, she'd have probably castrated him.
  • 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".
  • Bitch Alert: Doesn't attempt to hide her nastiness one bit.
  • Cosmetic Horror: John Hughes seemed to have went out of his way to give Mercedes Hall the most unflattering appearance possible.
  • Death Glare: She scares Brian off with one of these.
  • 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 Brian little better than pond scum, yet still expects him to do her bidding.
  • Evil Matriarch: Just look at the other entries in this folder.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Easily enraged and very volatile.
  • Jerkass: She's rude, snippy, short-tempered, and has effectively destroyed Brian's life by forcing him to conform to her damn-near impossible standards of perfection, all in the name of a selfish desire to live vicariously through a successful child.
  • Lack of Empathy: It's strongly implied she knows 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.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: If she had any gratitude or pride for Brian's efforts, she definitely doesn't show it.
  • Vanity License Plate: The front license plate on her car has Einstein's theory of relativity.

    Mr. Clark
Played by: Ron Dean

Andy's father, a former Jerk Jock trying to relive his Glory Days through his son.

  • Abusive Parent: Psychologically.
  • Bald of Evil: Well, balding, to be precise.
  • The Bully: Heavily implied to have been one in his past, and proud of it.
  • The Corrupter: He just seems to like bringing out the worst in Andy.
  • Covert Pervert: Eyes up Allison as he pulls out of the parking lot at the end with Andy.
  • Do Wrong, Right: He chastises Andy not because he taped Larry Lester's buttocks, but because he was caught doing it.
  • Evil Counterpart: In many ways, to his own son.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He seems cool and understanding at first, but it's all a façade.
  • Fat Bastard: For a guy who's big on athletics, he doesn't appear in the best physical shape.
  • Fratbro: Of the grown-up, Jaded Washout variety. It's very unlikely he's ever been to college, either.
  • Hypocrite: For starters, he calls Andrew a "discipline case" despite encouraging him into being a Jerk Jock in the first place.
  • Jaded Washout: It's strongly implied that he's a former Jerk Jock that didn't get anywhere in life, and seems stuck in a nostalgia bubble of his own making. It's clear to both Andy and the viewers that his Glory Days weren't as significant as he remembers.
  • Jerkass: He wears his Jerk Jock status on his sleeve.
  • Jerk Jock: He was most likely this in his past, and probably still thinks he is.
  • Lower-Class Lout: A coarse blue-collar thug.
  • Miles Gloriosus: One gets this vibe from him; he's noticeably fat despite claiming to have high athletic standards, and his encouragement of Andy to pick on "weaker" kids imply that he only picked on kids too small to fight back when he was a school bully.
  • Parents as People: He's given a teeny bit of characterization such as "failed Jerk Jock" and "stuck in the past" to give him some depth. It still doesn't excuse him, though.
  • Parental Neglect: On top of being a dick to Andy, he's also pretty lazy and irresponsible.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: A line cut from the film implies he's a racist.
  • Retired Monster: It's strongly implied that he's done much worse things than taping nerd's buns together.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Imagine a Jerk Jock who never matured beyond high school, and you'll get the idea.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Mr. Clark considers himself a legendary "winner" in his own mind. It's obvious that he's full of shit.
  • The Social Darwinist: Despises any form of weakness and espouses a "winner takes all" philosophy.
  • Stage Dad: He relives his so-called glory days vicariously through his son.
    Andrew: (imitating his dad): "Andrew, you've got to be NUMBER ONE! I won't tolerate any losers in this family! WIN, WIN, WIN!" (cries)
  • Testosterone Poisoning: His ideas of what constitutes masculinity are hopelessly, comically immature and out of touch with reality.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: