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Film / Ferris Bueller's Day Off

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"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
Ferris Bueller

Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a 1986 teen comedy movie written and directed by the legendary John Hughes, and produced and distributed by Paramount. It's considered one of the most influential films of The '80s.

The film follows Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), a high school senior in suburban Chicago who pretends to be sick and skips school one beautiful spring day. He convinces his neurotic best friend Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck) and his carefree girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara) to come along with him. The three of them "borrow" Cameron's father's prized vintage sports car, heading into the city to share one more day of fun together before graduation. Meanwhile, the school's Dean of Students Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) and Ferris's resentful sister Jeannie (Jennifer Grey) are both hot on his trail, eager to catch him skipping school.

In 1990, a TV sitcom based on the film began to air on NBC (which can now be viewed in its entirety on YouTube), with Charlie Schlatter replacing Broderick in the title role. Due to poor ratings, it was cancelled during its first season. Meanwhile, dueling show Parker Lewis Can't Lose was the film's more successful Spiritual Successor (and some say was the real TV adaptation).

La La Land Records finally released a Paramount-sanctioned soundtrack album in 2016; see the Trivia tab for why it took so long.

Also happens to be movie critic Richard Roeper's favorite film.

This film provides examples of...? Anyone? Anyone?

  • The '80s
  • '80s Hair: And clothes, and music.
  • Absurdly Powerful School Jurisdiction: Rooney scours the city looking for Ferris to punish him, despite the fact that (in this case) he does have an excused absence according to his parents, thus meaning there should be nothing Rooney can do.
  • Abusive Parents: Cameron has these of the emotional variety; his father cares more about restoring a classic car than his own son.
  • The Ace: Ferris has a bizarre, Mary Poppins-like ability to come out on top in any situation.
  • Action Girl: Jeannie Bueller's reaction to facing a possible burglar/rapist (actually Rooney, who just broke into the house to catch Ferris) in her kitchen? Kick him three times in the mouth and run all the way upstairs before he has even hit the ground.
  • Actor Allusion: Ferris hacks into the school's system from his computer to change the number of absences he's had. That's not the first time Broderick hacked into his school's system. Though Bueller is less enthusiastic about it:
    Ferris: I asked for a car, I got a computer. How's that for being born under a bad sign?
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Jeanie explains to a boy in the police station that she's "in" because she hates her brother. When the boy asks if she shot him, despite still being irate about the situation she can't help but laugh.
  • Adults Are Useless: Multiple examples:
    • Both Tom and Katie Bueller are completely preoccupied with their careers to notice that Ferris is basically walking all over them and getting away with anything he wants to. The few times that it's all but obvious they should be catching him in the act of truancy they completely miss out on the clues.
    • Most of the teachers at Ferris' school are dull, dry, ineffective and likely bad instructors who use outdated – especially by 1980s ... and heck, even 1960s standards – teaching methods, and whose main method of instruction is hopelessly boring, rote lectures emphasizing memorization rather than actually engaging the students in relevant material. (Ben Stein has his role nailed down perfectly.) Little wonder that truancy and apathy are major problems at this (unnamed) high school.
    • Poor teachers at the high school and his absurd level of preoccupation with trying to incriminate Ferris are just one reason why Rooney has no control over his school and that truancy is (likely) a major issue. Given the students' complete lack of interest in academics and his overall asshole personality, this has likely been a recurring problem for many years.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys:
    • Jeannie hooks up with the handsome drug addict at the police station.
    • Kindly, sweet-natured Sloane is dating rebellious scamp Ferris Bueller.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Ferris is dating Sloane, who is a cheerleader.
  • All There in the Script:
    • Charlie Sheen's stoner character is named Garth Volbeck. The film doesn't mention this. Also, a deleted backstory shows that he and Ferris were friends in the eighth grade. Garth's family's pretty messed up, and Ferris tried to help him and be his friend, but Garth eventually dropped out of high school and wound up in the police station next to Jeannie. That's why Ferris is so intent on giving Cameron a good time — he blames himself for not helping Garth enough when he could — and why Garth knows who Ferris is when he talks with Jeannie.
    • According to the original script, Sloane has a brother and her father left the family for a twenty-five year old bimbo.
  • The Alleged Car: Cameron's car is a piece of shit, according to Ferris. Though as Ferris himself admits, "Don't worry about it, I don't have a piece of shit, I have to envy yours."
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Ferris and Jeannie were certainly not meant to be interpreted this way (their parents are as WASP-y as they come). But the fact is that they're both played by actors who both are Jewish and "look" very Jewish (until Jennifer Grey got her nose job, of course). Matthew Broderick's accent sounds less Chicagoan than New York Jewish, and the name "Bueller" is German, which could go either way.
  • Angry Guard Dog: The Buellers' family Rottweiler, which foils Rooney's attempts - twice.
  • Angst Coma: Cameron goes into one after finding out how much the odometer has been run up on his father's precious car. He only snaps out of it when he almost drowns.
  • Answer Cut:
    Ferris: I'm so disappointed in Cameron. Twenty bucks says he's sitting in his car right now debating about whether or not he should go out.
    (cut to Cameron sitting in his car)
    Cameron: (sniffs loudly) He'll keep calling me. He'll keep calling me until I come over. He'll make me feel guilty...
  • Anti-Hero: Ferris is a nice guy, but he lies to his parents so he can ditch school, and persuades Cameron to steal his dad's fancy car.
  • Apathetic Teacher: The economics teacher is one of the most well-known examples in film. The English teacher isn't as well-known but isn't far behind in terms of this trope either.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    Cameron: It could get wrecked, scratched, stolen, breathed on wrong, a pigeon could shit on it...
  • Artistic License – Cars:
    • Cameron's dad's Ferrari has a back seat, while the real 250 GT Spyder California was a two seater. They did use a real one for the film, but only for closeups, and the rest of the photography was done in a fiberglass replica.
    • The Ferrari's odometer is unable to turn back when put in reverse. The mechanism to prevent that was not mandated or even available until the 1970s, meaning the odometer on a 1961 model would roll back when driven in reverse (or, better yet, disconnect the odometer cable and roll it back with an electric drill, though this is probably beyond most high-schoolers' abilities). Given that Cameron's dad spent three years restoring it, he may have also modified it to add the anti-rollback mechanism.
  • Aside Comment: Repeatedly done until the end, when Ferris tells the audience to go home, the show's over.
  • Aside Glance: When Ferris isn't directly addressing the audience, he's constantly doing this.
  • Asleep in Class: Everyone in Ben Stein's economics class is either asleep or close to it.
  • Author Appeal: John Hughes freely admitted that the museum scene was self-indulgent on his part.
  • Awful Wedded Life: When Ferris asks for a reason why he and Sloane can't get married, Cameron gives two - his mother and his father. They're married and they can't stand each other.
  • Awkward Stoplight Moment: Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane at a stoplight in a taxi, right next to Ferris' dad while he's reading a newspaper in another taxi. His dad glances at them once and when he looks at them again, Sloane takes Ferris's spot and wears sunglasses to disguise herself while Ferris and Cameron hide below their seat.
  • Batman Gambit: Ferris has his doorbell rigged to play a recorded message, just in case Rooney comes round. Not to mention the mannequin in bed and the snoring SFX. Ferris left no stone unturned in planning for his day off. Rooney still figures it out when he attempts to ring the doorbell more than once.
    Sloane: You knew what you were doing when you woke up this morning, didn't you?
  • Bavarian Fire Drill:
    • Cameron attempts this while on the phone to Rooney, claiming to be Sloane's father and that her grandmother has died. Rooney assumes it's Ferris and abuses him over the phone, just as Ferris calls in on another line to talk to him.
    • They also use this as a trio at an upmarket club to have lunch pretending to be a preexisting booking, with Ferris using a phone from another room to trick the head waiter.
    • Then there's the famous "Twist and Shout" scene. How he got onto a parade float with a group of Bavarian girls is left unexplained, but by that point in the movie, he'd previously demonstrated his aptitude with Bavarian Fire Drills.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: At the police station, Jeannie spends her time bickering with the male druggie (played by Charlie Sheen) she dislikes before taking a shine to him and eventually making out with him.
  • Berserk Button: The car, for Cameron, who blows his gasket twice. Ferris lampshades the first incident.
    Ferris: Here's where Cameron goes berserk.
  • Bifauxnen: Mr. Rooney finds who he believes is Ferris at the pizza parlor, but turns out to be a girl (with some Pepsi), who proceeds to spit on him. See Mistaken from Behind below.
  • Big Bad: Dean of Students Edward Rooney does his best to ruin Ferris' day off and drag him back to school. Though he's rather bad at it, barely posing a real threat to Ferris.
  • Big "NO!": Where Cameron goes berserk. See also: Skyward Scream, Eat the Camera, Overly Long Scream, The Scream.
  • Book Ends: The movie starts and ends with Ferris in bed.
  • Born Lucky: Ferris Bueller (for those who view him unfavorably) undeniably accomplishes some of his achievements through his own cleverness, but he had a hell of a lot of luck with some of them.
  • Bowdlerise: The original script for the movie was quite a bit edgier than the finished film.
    • Ferris was going to be a smoker, the gang was going to visit a local strip club, and (perhaps most crucially) Ferris was going to be revealed to have stolen money from his parents for his titular "day off." These ideas were dropped once John Hughes decided they would make the characters seem like juvenile delinquents, making this movie a good example of bowdlerization being for the better.
    • In some TV edits of the film, Grace's infamous but hilarious line, "Mmm-mmm-mmm, what a little asshole" is replaced with "Mmm-mmm-mmm, motorhead."
    • Early in the film, Ferris says the line, "Pardon my French, but Cameron is so tight that if you stuck a lump of coal up his ass, in two weeks you'd have a diamond." One of the TV edits replaced "up his ass" with "in his fist." He still says "Pardon my French," but now it makes no sense.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • At many points (most specifically the beginning and the end) Ferris talks directly to the audience while setting up the stereo and moving model in his bed.
    • Rooney also gives the audience a withering look at the very end.
  • Brick Joke: At the beginning, we see Ferris preparing something with his trophy, and start singing "Danke Schoen." He then sings "Twist and Shout" during his shower. Later, we see that he has used his trophy as part of a Rube Goldberg Device to deceive his parents, and even later, he sings "Danke Schoen" in one of the great scenes of the movie (followed by... "Twist and Shout"). Rooney is even humming "Danke Schoen" when at Ferris' home.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Cameron puts on a ridiculous "prep" accent when posing as Sloane's father on the phone. Since Sloane's family is quite rich, it's probably not too far-fetched that Rooney bought it (at least after he realized that Ferris was on Line 2).
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: This is the dynamic Cameron and Sloane appear to have, despite not actually being a couple.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: If Ferris put half the effort into school that he puts into avoiding school...
  • Broken Record: Say it with me:
    Economics Teacher: Bueller?... Bueller?... Bueller?...
  • Butt-Monkey: Both Rooney and Jeannie. Rooney gets the worst of it, though, being humiliated and ending the film with Jeannie having blackmail material on him, as well as no car. Jeannie ends up spending the whole afternoon on a police precinct courtesy of The Lopsided Arm of the Law.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Inverted with Ferris, played straight with Jeannie.
  • Cassandra Truth: Jeannie simply cannot get adults to believe her about anything, even to the point where she is arrested for making a genuine 911 call to report a home intruder. Her all-round Jerkass attitude is most probably the reason for this, which is in direct contrast to her much more likable Karma Houdini brother who gets away with everything.
  • Casual Sports Jersey: Cameron wears a Gordie Howe Detroit Red Wings jersey. Considered as iconic as Ferris' patterned jacket. Alan Ruck said the reason Cameron doesn't wear a Chicago Blackhawks jersey is because Cameron's grandfather in Detroit used to take him to Red Wings games.
  • Caught on the Jumbotron: Ferris catches a foul ball at Wrigley Field. It's shown on national TV, although Rooney looks at the television a second too late and misses seeing Ferris.
  • Central Theme: You won't be able to enjoy life if you keep stressing about the specifics: let loose and seek out the joys instead.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The scene at the pizza parlor where Rooney mistakes a girl for Ferris; Ferris is actually on the TV in a baseball game, catching a baseball on camera. Much later (at the end of the movie) in order to turn off the snoring sound effects playing on his stereo while he's still in bed, he retrieves the baseball from his pocket and throws it at the stereo's "off" button.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: The allegedly-catatonic Cameron, just pulled up from the bottom of a pool after keeling over into it face first, broke into one of these when Ferris and Sloane realize he wasn't really drowning. Cameron's ensuing hysterical laughter led to further dunkings by Ferris.
  • Chewing the Scenery: When Cameron realizes 100 miles have been added to the car, he lets out an epic scream. Take it here for the deliciously bitten off scene!
  • Chez Restaurant: The French restaurant that Ferris Bueller and company crash is "Chez Quis", which is a pun on "Shakeys", the pizza chain.
  • Clint Squint: Referenced when an angry diatribe by Ed Rooney impresses his secretary Grace, who claims he sounded like Dirty Harry. Ed follows up with the squint.
  • Clique Tour: A list of cliques is recited by the secretary Grace to denote how universally loved Ferris is in his school:
    Grace: Oh, he's very popular, Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads - they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude.
  • Closer to Earth: Ferris is the High-School Hustler, Cameron is a hypochondriac. Sloane is definitely the most adjusted of the three.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: The nerdy girl Rooney sits next to on the bus. She asks if he's ever smelled the inside of a real school bus before, and then offers him warm jellybears that she keeps in her pocket.
  • Cold Ham: Ben Stein's role as the... anyone? Anyone? Anyone?... The boring economics teacher; one of his most memorable moments.
  • Comical Nap Drool: At least one student sleeping in Ben Stein's class has a visible trail of drool on his desk.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Rooney is chewing over the fact that the title character is absent from school yet again, and he mutters, "I don't trust that kid any further than I can throw him." This prompts the cheerful secretary to respond, "Well, with your bad knee, Ed, you shouldn't throw anybody." He's somewhat less than calmed by her concern.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: As part of his Humiliation Conga, Rooney splits his pants when attempting to break into the Bueller's home.
  • Coming of Age Story: The film takes place toward the end of the kids' senior year. They talk about how their lives will soon be changing as they finish school and join the adult world. Cameron is really the only character we see change, however. Through the course of the story he goes from a depressed hypochondriac to a more assertive adult who plans on having it out with his emotionally distant father.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: The scene in the art gallery brilliantly uses this trope in regards to Cameron, who has been worrying about nearly every detail of their journey. As his gaze zooms in on the pointillistnote  Seurat painting to find the details within it, he sees less and less of those details, finding only contextless dots. The realization to let go and enjoy his journey shows up in his eyes, and works — at least until he notices the odometer on the car.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The gang leaves the fancy French restaurant and are horrified to see Ferris's father on the sidewalk, directly in front of and below them. Lampshaded by Ferris himself, who says "Four thousand restaurants in the downtown area and I pick the one my father goes to."
  • Cool Car: "The 1961 Ferrari 250GT California.". The car featured in the film is actually a fiberglass replica built on a custom chassis, though a real one was used for extreme closeups at the beginning. Today, a real version would cost upwards of $10 million, almost the entire budget in 1986 dollars.
  • Cool People Rebel Against Authority: Ferris Bueller is the coolest cat in Chicago and has skipped school nine times, to not mention God-only-knows how many scams off-screen.
  • Cool Shades: Nope; the juxtaposition of stereotypical detective music and Rooney's sleazy character, combined with cheesy flip-up aviators clearly point out these are the least-cool shades in the movie.
  • Crashing Through the Harem: The finale Ferris leaping through several suburban backyards to beat someone else home; after dashing through a yard with two ladies sunbathing, he walks back and introduces himself.
  • Creative Closing Credits: A screen alongside the credits reel shows the now-humiliated Rooney get on a standard school bus (because he illegally parked in front of the Buellers' near a fire hydrant and his car was towed) and meet a bunch of students, almost all of whom give him a Death Glare (there's also a Take That! directed towards Rooney scribbled on the roof of the bus).
  • Crowd Song: Not only does everybody in Chicago sing along to "Twist and Shout", but many of them dance in unison too. Somewhat justified, as it's a well-known song/dance.
  • Curse Cut Short: When Jeannie answers the door and there's a "nurse telegram".
    I heard that you were feeling ill
    Headache, fever and a chill
    I've come to help restore your pluck
    Cause I'm the nurse who likes to [door slams]
  • Dean Bitterman: Rooney. He's a pretty strict disciplinarian and has declared Ferris his Arch-Enemy because the kid is the local High-School Hustler with nine absent days (before Ferris hacked the computer). Take note that Cameron is also home sick and Rooney doesn't decide to personally visit him to make sure he's actually sick. And from what we can infer from Ferris' comments about Cameron, he probably takes a lot of sick days as well.
  • Death Glare: In Hughes' commentary, he notes one of the girls in Ben Stein's class and says, "She's gonna kill him".
  • Description Cut: When Ferris' mother assures the dean on the phone that Ferris is indeed sick, we cut to his room where Ferris is all well playing the clarinet.
  • Description Porn:
    Cameron: The 1961 Ferrari 250GT California. Less than a hundred were made. It has a market value of $265,000. My father spent three years restoring it. It is his joy, it is his love, it is his passion.
    Ferris: It is his fault he didn't lock the garage.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Ferris. Even if the idea of him being a full-blown sociopath is strictly in the realm of fanon, he still is a pretty big jerk (even bigger in the original screenplay) and can convince most grown-ups he's an angel with immense ease.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Jeannie should've waited instead of telling Rooney to get out of her house or the police will get him. Otherwise, she wouldn't have been mistaken for a phone call prankster and taken into police custody.
    • Ferris' recording hooked up to the doorbell hinged on the idea that someone (namely Rooney) wouldn't just ring the doorbell a second time.
  • Distant Reaction Shot: Starting with an extreme close-up of his screaming mouth, the shot pulls back to the car, then the block, then the whole city of Chicago, to punctuate Cameron's reaction to reading of the odometer of his father's Ferrari.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: During Ferris and Cameron's argument after Cameron dupes Rooney over the phone.
    Ferris: I didn't hit you. I lightly slapped you.
    Cameron: You. Hit. Me.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Ferris might have only five minutes to run home from Sloane's, but that doesn't mean he won't stop to flirt with a couple of swimsuit-clad blondes.
  • Eat the Camera: Inverted when Cameron has his screaming moment when he notices how much mileage is on his father's Ferrari after he and Ferris pick it up from the garage.
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: Averted. Ferris threatens to do this in the fancy restaurant since the maître d doesn't believe his lie that he is Abe Froman "the sausage king of Chicago".
    Ferris: Touch me and I'll yell "rat"!
  • Environmental Symbolism: A very subtle one that you probably won't notice on first watch. In the class that Sloan is pulled out of, the teacher is discussing prison in fiction, and the background behind Sloan is patterned in vertical stripes; that is, prison-like bars.
  • Erudite Stoner: Charlie Sheen's one scene at the police station. He nails Jeannie's problem in less than a minute, and is halfway towards nailing her when her mother shows up.
  • Establishing Character Music: After Ferris reveals his ruse to the audience, he plays "Love Missile F1-11" by Sigue Sigue Sputnik on his hi-fi.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Ferris uses his sound synthesizer, which had coughing noises on it, to play "The Blue Danube".
  • Evil Gloating: When Ferris tries to sneak in the back door but discovers the key is missing from under the mat, at which point Rooney puts his foot down and shows he has the key:
    Rooney: Looking for this? I got ya, Ferris. I have dreamed about this, and this time, you little bastard, I've got you right where I want you. So, how would you feel about another year at my school? Under my close personal supervision?
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The whole movie takes place over the course of a single day, starting in the early morning and ending in the late afternoon.
  • Foil: Rooney and Jeannie hate that Ferris gets away with everything and want to see him punished. When Jeannie realizes how pointless her vendetta against Ferris is she offers him a last minute reprieve when he gets caught by Rooney.
  • Foot Popping: Seen and Played Straight when Ferris greets Sloane.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: Ferris regularly comments directly to the audience about the film's plot, about the other characters, about being in High School, and so on. At the end of the film, after the credits, he even says to the audience, "You're still here? It's over! Go home! Go."
  • French Cuisine Is Haughty: The upscale French restaurant that Ferris and company visit has the requisite snooty maître d'. Also parodied, in that the restaurant is named Chez Quis note , as a pun on the pizza chain Shakey's.
  • Freudian Trio: Ferris (id, the leader of the group and hustling mastermind), Sloane (ego, the Only Sane Man), Cameron (superego, the poor fella that is dragged along and really doesn't wants to be there).
  • Friendly Address Privileges:
    Criminal Kid: You didn't tell me your name.
    Jeannie: It's Jean, but a lot of guys call me Shauna.
    Criminal Kid: Okay, Jean.
  • Funny Background Event: Several:
    • When they go to pick up Cameron's dad's 1961 Ferrari 250GT California at the end of the day, they stand outside the parking garage talking... while, in the corner of the screen, we see the garage attendants bringing the car in through a different entrance after having spent the day joyriding in it.
    • You can also see the car pulling out of the garage right after the gang has dropped it off, and the second attendant jumps in and shouts "Go! Go!"
    • Audio example: Earlier in the film, when Ed waits for Sloan's "father" to pick her up, the action is briefly shot from inside the school, where the economics teacher (Ben Stein) is still heard droning on and on.
    • After a scene where it looked like Jeannie will punch the stoner guy out at the police station, we have her mom talking with a police officer while in the background we see Jeannie and the stoner guy starting to kiss each other.
  • Fun with Subtitles: When Ferris is explaining to the camera the best way to fake an illness to get out of school, they appear on screen.
  • The Ghost: Morris Frye (Cameron's dad), as well as Abe Froman, Sausage King of Chicago, never appear on screen.
  • Good-Times Montage: Used to show Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane having fun in various Chicago institutions.
  • Gossip Evolution: The reports of Ferris' "illness" grow more and more dire as the school day wears on. "Save Ferris!"
  • Gossipy Hens: Simone Adamley, a student that starts the whole "Ferris Bueller is sick and may be dying" rumor that then catapults the Running Gag of "Save Ferris" graffiti being everywhere in Chicago. Grace (Rooney's secretary) is also a bit of this.
  • Gratuitous French: "Les jeux sont faits."note 
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Jeannie is jealous of the fact that Ferris can do whatever he wants, and get away with it, while she ends up getting in trouble for something she didn't even do.
  • Gretzky Has the Ball: Rooney notices the Cubs game on TV at the pizza joint:
    Rooney: What's the score?
    Cook: Nothing-nothing.
    Rooney: Who's winning?
    Cook: (sarcastically, after a Beat) The Bears.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Ferris is a con artist without much empathy for other people (or at least a warped sense of empathy that sees manipulation as compassion), and Rooney is on a personal vendetta that involves assaulting a student's dog, not to mention breaking and entering. Neither of them are particularly great people.
  • HA HA HA—No: Cameron does this in response to Ferris' suggestion that they take the miles off his dad's Ferrari by driving home backwards, only to be followed by a Big "NO!" when he realizes My God, You Are Serious!.
  • Hammerspace Hair: Grace pulls like three pencils from her fluffy curls and goes back for another! This wasn't a special effect — the actress and director, between takes, wondered how many pencils she could hide in her hair... apparently the answer was "more than 4".
  • Hand Wave: For years, viewers (especially those who enjoy hockey) wondered why Cameron wears a Detroit Red Wings jersey in the middle of downtown Chicago where the rival Blackhawks play. Alan Ruck revealed in an interview 30 years later that Cameron's grandfather in Detroit, whom he actually has a great relationship with, took him to Red Wings games when he visited him.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Paralleling Ferris' adventures is both his sister Jeannie and Dean Rooney trying to find evidence of his deceitful behavior and convince others that he is really a delinquent charming his way around people. Jeannie ends up learning (from a guy at the police station arrested for drugs) that her problems with Ferris was not about anything he has done to her, so her resentment was more about her. She learns to let it go and her life and demeanor immediately improves, while Rooney never lets it go and ends the movie as miserable as he could be. Even though Ferris would be in trouble once exposed, pursuing vendettas out of spite is not a healthy way to live.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Jeannie responds to an offer of drugs with "I'm straight." "Straight" is still sometimes used to mean drug-free or more of a "no thanks, I'm okay", but more often refers to sexual orientation. The term clean would be more common and specific.
  • Heel–Face Turn: When Rooney finally nails Ferris at the end, it's Jeannie of all people who bails him out (part of this could be because Rooney broke into the Buellers' to catch Ferris and met Jeannie in the kitchen).
  • "Hell, Yes!" Moment: All hope looks lost for Ferris at the end when Rooney corners him by the back door, then Jeannie appears from the kitchen. Cue this trope for Ferris when Jeannie winks at him.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Ferris and Cameron, possibly. They've been best friends since at least the fifth grade, and when Sloane jumps into the car with him she looks down where Cameron is crouched and says cheerfully, "Hi, Cameron, are you comfortable?" as if this sort of thing has happened before. ("Hi, Sloane. No.")
  • Heroic BSoD: Cameron undergoes one when, after thinking that maybe things won't go so bad after all, and maybe he's just being a worry wart, he notices the "slightly" increased mileage on the odometer on his dad's car, and proceeds to go catatonic.
  • High-School Hustler: Ferris is a classic example, and is probably the (modern) Trope Codifier. It's not clear how much hustling he does in the day to day, but he's apparently well-liked by all the cliques at school and has worked out scams on his parents and school down to an artform.
  • Humiliation Conga: The entire film is one for both Rooney and Ferris' sister Jeannie. Jeannie at least manages to learn to Know When to Fold Them, and even may get the last laugh in the long term.
  • I Can See My House from Here: Ferris, Sloane, and Cameron are at the top of the Sears Tower. Cameron says: "I can see my Dad."
  • Iconic Outfit: Ferris Bueller's ugly orange-and-black sweater vest, worn over a plain white T-shirt. His friends also have iconic items of clothing — Cameron has his Red Wings jersey, and Sloane has her white fringed jacket.
  • Impairment Shot: Despite the fact that the audience knows Ferris is faking, Jeannie knows Ferris is faking, and Ferris is lampshading that Jeannie knows Ferris is faking — the camera still gives an out-of-focus view of Jeanie as she walks in to complain their parents are letting Ferris stay home.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Cameron has them, a perfect representation of being a Shrinking Violet. Sad, sweet, and so, so beautiful that John Hughes saw fit to give them a few close-ups on the museum scene.
  • Insert Cameo: In Cameron's first scene, we see his hand press a button on his speakerphone. The hand was actually that of John Hughes; Alan Ruck didn't get the movement quite right, so Hughes did it himself after everyone else had left for the day.
  • Inspector Javert: Dean Rooney. Say what you will about Ferris being manipulative, but dropping a flowerpot on a dog's head and breaking into a student's house is taking things too far. In retrospect, even if Rooney's plan had succeeded, he wouldn't have been holding Ferris back under his "personal supervision" - he'd have been fired for breaking and entering into Ferris's house, and probably faced Criminal Trespass charges. (At least in any real life situation.)
  • Invisible Backup Band: "When Cameron was in Egypt's land ... let my Cameron goooooooo!"
  • Iris Out: What ends the movie... before Ferris telling the audience to go home.
  • It Amused Me: Why Ferris does anything. Ferris says he's doing it to give Cameron a fun day.
  • It's All About Me: "They could be fascist anarchists and that still wouldn't change the fact that I don't have a car."
  • Jerkass: Rooney and Jeannie. The latter becomes more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold by the end.
    Jeannie: Do you know anything? [hangs up phone]
  • Jerkass Has a Point: while there are numerous jerks in the movie, they also make some good points.
    • Jeannie has extremely valid points fueling her resentment toward Ferris and the degree of favoritism their parents show him- exemplified when she gets arrested by the police for making a legitimate call about an actual intruder in her house and her mother is furious at her for interrupting her day.
    • Ferris wasn't wrong about Cameron needing to take control of his own life and stand up to his father's abuse, even if his attempted solution is bullying him into a skip day where they do a bunch of things Ferris wants to do.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ferris is pretty much this. He's manipulative, selfish, and keeps pressuring Cameron into doing things he doesn't want to do, among other things. However, he genuinely cares about Cameron and his girlfriend. He's surprisingly well-meaning despite how troublemaking he is, as he genuinely believes he's helping Cameron by forcing him to have fun with him on their day off and does feel bad when Cameron kicks the car over the glass, even offering to take the blame for it.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Ferris's plot to get Sloane out of school: he has Cameron pose as her father and call Rooney, asking for him to excuse her because her grandmother just died. Rooney doesn't buy it, but thinks the fake Peterson is Ferris himself and tries to set a trap for him. Then Ferris calls on the other line and the rest is history.
  • Karma Houdini: Subverted in Ferris' case. Although he never gets caught by his parents or punished by Dean Rooney, Mrs. Bueller tells Jeanie that had she been able to close the Vermont deal, which she lost due to having to pick Jeanie up from the police station, she would have used the money she earned from the commission to buy Ferris a car.
  • Key Under the Doormat: Subverted. Ferris looks for the key, but Rooney has already taken it.
  • Know When to Fold Them: Jeannie's day starts to go better once she finally learns that doggedly pursuing her vendetta on Ferris is wrong (and not in the sense of "it's morally wrong" but rather in the sense of "why wreck her life trying to wreck his?"). She even delivers karma to Rooney (who is a very visual representation of that lesson) and may even get the last laugh in the long term considering that her parents won't be able to buy Ferris a car as soon as they wanted thanks to the events of the day.
  • Knows a Guy Who Knows a Guy: "My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy that knows this girl who's going with a guy that saw Ferris passed out at 31 flavors last night. I guess its pretty serious".
  • Kubrick Stare: One girl in Ben Stein's economics class does this. In his commentary, Hughes notes her resemblance to Alex DeLarge.
  • Landline Eavesdropping: When Ferris attempts to bluff his way into a fancy restaurant by using someone else's reservation, the waiter attempts to listen in on Ferris's phone call to verify what he's been told by Ferris and his girlfriend. The person he's on the phone with is Cameron pretending to be the police.
  • Large Ham: Del Close as Sloane's teacher really tries his best to engage a terrifyingly apathetic class.
  • Last of His Kind: Along with Pretty in Pink, which was released in the same year, and Some Kind of Wonderful, which was released a year later, this film pretty much marked the end of an era for John Hughes. After making those three films, Hughes decided that it was time for him to grow up cinematically, and thus he began cranking out films that were more oriented towards adults, such as Planes, Trains and Automobiles and The Great Outdoors. On the other hand, in the 1990s he turned toward slapstick children's movies he wrote and produced but did not direct, starting with Home Alone.
  • The Last Straw: A furious Cameron kicks in the front grill of his father's car, breaking the grill, denting the fender, and shattering the headlights—and at the same time causing the jack holding the spinning rear wheels up to tilt dangerously backwards, which the kids don't notice. Cameron almost kicks the car one more time, then calms down. He casually leans on the bumper, and that's what causes the jack to fall over, sending the car flying out of the garage and crashing into the gully below.
  • Left Hanging: Looks like we'll never know how Cameron's "little chat" with his father went, despite all the post-credits scenes.
  • Leitmotif: It's kind of a subtle hint to the author's intentions when the sidekick, not the title character, gets his own theme music.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Kind, innocent Sloane (light) and angry, sassy Jeanie (dark). Kind of played with, as Sloane has dark hair and wears a strongly blue shirt, though with a white jacket, while Jeanie has lighter hair than Sloane, and wears light-colored clothes other than her black pants.
  • Listing the Forms of Degenerates: Edie "Grace" McClurg's line...
    Grace: Oh, he's very popular Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads — they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude.
  • Literal-Minded: Grace.
    Rooney: I don't trust this kid any further than I can throw him.
    Grace: Well, with your bad knee Ed, you shouldn't throw anybody... It's true.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Add "neglected" and "emotionally abused" to "lonely", and you've got Cameron Frye.
  • Lovable Rogue: Ferris. Although time has made many people really deliberate whether or not "lovable" truly fits with him. At the very least he says he wants to give his friends a good time, and succeeds after a fashion. He even tries to take the heat for trashing the Ferrari, and considering how neurotic Cameron was up until that exact point, he had no reason to believe Cameron would turn him down.
  • Love Triangle: Does Cameron have a crush on Sloane or not?
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: A male version. Ferris does get Cameron to finally stand up for himself.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Ferris Bueller is intended to be this and something of a sociopath, according to the Director's commentary.
  • Meaningful Name: With Ferris, every day is a carnival.
  • Michael Jackson's Thriller Parody: During the "Twist & Shout" dance sequence a group of Afro-American people are seen dancing in a similar style.
  • Minnesota Nice: Grace talks with the standard Minnesota Nice accent and may well be a native Minnesotan, as the movie is set in Chicago, Illinois (a mere two states away). However, she also exhibits the dark side of this trope by secretly being mean and nasty, saying rude things about people when they aren't around (though Jeannie, at least, deserved it).
  • Missed Him by That Much: Ferris was saved multiple times by this trope:
    • Rooney happened to be watching the ball game Ferris was attending, but had his head turned away when Ferris was on screen.
    • Jeannie sees Ferris running home in her side-mirror, but he's gone before she can show her mother.
    • Before that, he actually ran into the car. The papers Mrs. Bueller is holding fly into her face, preventing her from seeing him.
    • Ferris' dad sees him. Twice. Each time he looks back Ferris is gone (the first time replaced by Sloane in a Paper-Thin Disguise) and he decides it was nothing.
  • Mistaken for Incest: Ferris poses as his girlfriend's father (distantly, wearing a disguise) in order to get her out of school. Then they make out in front of Rooney, to his disgust.
    Rooney: So that's how it works in their family...
  • Mistaken for Prank Call: Rooney gets a phone call from Sloane's father saying that her grandmother has died. Knowing that Sloane is Ferris Bueller's girlfriend, and that Ferris is skipping out on school, Rooney assumes that Ferris is pranking him. So he insults the "father", demanding that he bring the grandmother's body up to the school for confirmation. Then Ferris calls line two. Then, as Rooney stammers an apology to Sloane's father, a subversion occurs: we discover that it was Ferris' buddy Cameron who was making the phone call. So it's a prank call mistaken for Mistaken for Prank Call.
    • Played straight when Jeannie calls 911 after she finds Rooney snooping around her house. When the police arrive, Rooney is gone, so they assume Jeannie was prank calling and arrest her.
  • Mistaken from Behind: While Rooney is searching for Ferris, he mistakes a woman at a pizza parlor for Bueller from behind and yells "Your ass is mine!". She reacts by spitting her soda at him.
  • Monochrome Casting: As was ever the case with John Hughes films, everyone's white except for a few incidental characters.
  • Mood Whiplash: Despite being a pinhead, Grace acts differently around Jeannie.
  • Motor Mouth: "My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with a girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night!" (Slower than most examples, but still impressive as it indicates that the character has an excellent memory.)
  • The Name Is Bond, James Bond: Parodied:
    Cameron: (on the phone with Rooney) And you just mind your Ps and Qs, buster, and remember who you're dealing with.
    Ferris: Bueller. Ferris Bueller.note 
  • Naughty Nurse Outfit: The singing nurse. Justified in that she is a performer, and is supposed to dress according to this trope, not reality.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When Jeannie phones the police of Rooney's intrusion in her home, she tells Rooney over the intercom to get out or the police will get him. She didn't stop to think that having her intruder leave her home would result in the police thinking that Jeannie pranked them with a phone call and have her come in for questioning.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Inverted at Chez Quis, moreso after Ferris pulls off the trick, and partially justified as the maitre'd is a bit of a French Jerk (well, at least, it's a French restaurant). To be fair, Ferris started by trying to be nice, but that got nowhere.
    • Subverted with the parking lot staff. Ferris attempts to treat them well to get special treatment for the car, and they go and do the exact opposite.
      • Though perhaps they were just as insulted at being slipped a mere "fin" as the maitre d' was.
    • Played straight with the Chez Quis bathroom attendant. Ferris slips him a nice tip, and the attendant gives him a very happy thank you.
  • Non-Giving-Up School Guy: Rooney. It's a bit of a Deconstructed Trope though, since his single-minded mission to bring back Ferris led him to commit things like breaking and entering. Also subverted in that Rooney doesn't care about Ferris's future like how this trope usually plays; Rooney says himself that he wants revenge. In fact, he is determined to destroy Ferris's life, and says so.
  • Not on the List: Bueller and friends try to get into a fancy restaurant but they're not on the reservation list; eventually they pretend they're someone who is on the list.
  • Not So Above It All: Even Ferris' dad takes a little break during work and does a little boogie to the parade down below playing "Twist and Shout" by the Beatles.
  • Not So Stoic: Sloane's defining trait is her relaxed demeanor, with all her time spent with Ferris meaning that she's used to taking his antics in stride. However, even she freaks out when she sees him on the Parade Float.
  • Obviously Evil: The parking attendant who took Cameron's car for a joyride.
    Attendant: Please, I'm a professional.
  • Oh, Crap!: Rooney, when Grace tells him that Ferris is on Line 2, having previously thought he was just talking to him.
    • Also when he confronts "Ferris" in the pizza parlor, but actually a short-haired girl. Enjoy your Pepsi, Ed!
    • Ferris, when Rooney confronts him. He gets a "Hell, Yes!" Moment when Jeannie appears and bails him out.
    • Again Rooney, when he sees the Buellers' dog.
    • Again Rooney, when Jeannie produces his wallet.
    • Cameron, and to a lesser extent Ferris and Sloane, when the car gets kicked off the stand.
    • The trio come within an eyelash of getting caught by Ferris's dad, TWICE.
    • And, of course, when "Cameron goes berserk."
  • Ordinary High-School Student: What Ferris and his friends are supposed to be.
  • Overly-Long Gag: Ferris' teacher taking role. "Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?"
  • Overly Long Scream: Cameron's scream when he realizes how much mileage is on his father's Ferrari when he and Ferris pick it up from the garage.
  • Pac Man Fever: There's a Karate Champ arcade game with Pac-Man sound effects.
  • Parental Favoritism: Jeannie complains that her brother can get away with anything, and their parents will believe him. Since her brother is Ferris Bueller, she's right. On the other hand, Ferris wanted a car, which she got.
  • Parking Garage: After the attendant promises he will not touch the Ferrari until Ferris, Cameron and Sloane, return, we see him in the background getting into it with a coworker as the trip leave.
  • Parking Problems: Rooney parks his car in front of a fire hydrant in front of the Bueller house. His car then gets towed.
  • Pick on Someone Your Own Size: Ed Rooney's disproportionate obsession with taking down Ferris Bueller is pretty much the only thing that makes him a proper villain; if he stayed within his jurisdiction as Ferris's principal and just punished Ferris for constantly skipping school and breaking rules, you'd have to side with him.
  • Pietà Plagiarism: Ferris cradles Cameron this way after rescuing him from the bottom of a swimming pool.
  • Playing Sick: The whole movie is kicked off by Ferris pretending to be sick to get the day off and go out on the town. Neither Rooney nor Jeannie buy this, and try to catch him.
  • Police Are Useless: They arrest Jeanie when she calls to report a "prowler" in her home and they find no one there. Perhaps they are suspicious since she's skipping school, but a halfhearted search would have immediately turned up Rooney's wallet...
    Jeannie: SPEAK-A DE ENGLISH?! (slams phone down) DICK-HEAD!
    • Also odd in that they didn't check in on Ferris to make sure he was okay... and didn't realize that someone had left their wallet in the house. It would have vindicated Jeannie and gotten Rooney in serious trouble. The fact that Jeannie finds it and returns it to Rooney shows that she is well-aware of this fact.
  • Poster-Gallery Bedroom: We can tell Ferris Bueller is cool (as if there was ever any doubt), because he has a Cabaret Voltaire poster.
  • The Precious, Precious Car: "The 1961 Ferrari 250GT California" drives the final act. Cameron's father treasures the vintage Ferrari more than anything, including his own family. Cameron spends much of the movie fearing his father's fury once he figures out Cameron, Sloane and Ferris borrowed the vehicle for a day. Cameron finding a meaningful way to confront his father regarding the vehicle's unexpected additional mileage and destruction is the actual point of the movie.
    Cameron Frye: Less than a hundred were made. My father spent three years restoring this car. It is his love. It is his passion.
    Ferris Bueller: It is his fault he didn't lock the garage.
  • Product Placement: Ferris watches MTV early in the film. The year it came out was also the year media conglomerate Viacom bought the networknote , who made sure to place its logo in every film they could find. You can also see an early example of product placement when Ferris is seen drinking Pepsi not once, but twice, with the label shown prominently each time. A Jingle for real-life radio station WLS, along with some DJ banter also plays at the beginning to help identify where the film takes place.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • Cameron doesn't want to leave his dad's prized Ferrari at a garage in the care of a sleazy-looking attendant. He does so only after some persuasion by Ferris. It turns out his worries were absolutely justified as the attendant and his friend take the car on a joyride only seconds after they leave, adding dozens of miles onto the car.
    • Also Rooney, about Ferris. And vice-versa.
    • Jeannie leaves school early to check to see if Ferris is faking being sick and is proven to be right when she bursts into Ferris' room to find a dummy and a recording of his snoring.
    Jeannie: (Suddenly Shouting) I KNEW IT!!
  • Protagonist-Centred Morality: Ferris is hard-core hustler and many film viewers believe him to showcase the signs of being a sociopath. Not that Rooney is a saint either.
  • Quieter Than Silence: During the filming, director John Hughes told the sound editor that he wanted the scene in which Rooney and Jeannie sneak up on each other to be completely silent. When he got the finished footage back, he asked why a fly was buzzing. The editor said "If it was really quiet, you could hear a fly buzzing."
  • Race Against the Clock: The ending involves Ferris running through a series of obstacles as he tries to beat his family back to his house.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Several plot elements in the film appeared to be inspired by two people John Hughes knew in high school, including one who had a habit of playing hooky to the point of being pursued by the dean, even taking a fancy car into Chicago, and another friend who was sick all the time.
  • Recorded Audio Alibi: Ferris rigs up a recording of himself snoring as part of his elaborate Sleeping Dummy, with the recording triggered if anyone opens the bedroom door to look in. He also sets up a prerecorded message to trigger when the doorbell is rung to trick outsiders into thinking he's sick in bed. Rooney catches on that Bueller isn't home the second time he rings the doorbell.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Personable, adventurous Ferris Bueller and cautious, fearful Cameron Frye.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Performed by Ferris at the restaurant. When the waiter calls his bluff, the only way to make his "crime" work is to make it so hilariously ostentatious as to leave the waiter dumbfounded.
    • Really, you could apply this trope to the whole movie.
  • Repeat Cut: A rare Western feature film example is a moment in which we see Rooney getting kicked in the face from three different angles, followed by a double repeat cut of Rooney hitting the floor.
  • The Resenter: This is Jeannie's entire motivation. Her brother gets away with everything, while she Can't Get Away with Nuthin' and can't even convince others of her brother's con when she unravels it. Understandable, as even when she's being completely truthful (about an intruder in her house), she isn't believed and gets in trouble.
  • Running Gag: Ferris speaking directly to the audience, Edward Rooney suffering mishaps while trying to get Ferris, Ferris narrowly avoiding his father in Chicago, "Save Ferris." Also, people singing "Danke Schoen", starting with Ferris Singing in the Shower.
  • Sadist Teacher: Rooney. Technically he's a dean, but still hits the same notes.
  • Say My Name: Ed Rooney calls his secretary when he sees that Ferris' absence count has dropped from 9 to 2 because Ferris hacked his computer.
  • School Grade Hacking: Ferris hacks into the school's system from his home computer to change the number of absences he's had.
  • School Idol: Ferris is so much this that the rumor of him being terminally ill triggers a Running Gag of "Save Ferris!" graffiti being on the weirdest places all throughout Chicago.
  • School Is for Losers: The film consists entirely of a character with this philosophy putting it into action by treating every authority he runs into with caustic dismissal.
  • Scenery Porn: The extended shots of Chicago. A joke in the MAD magazine parody had it that one of the places "Fearless Buller" and his entourage went that day was the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, to pick up a check for making the movie into one long travelogue of Chicago.
  • The Scream: Cameron does one of these.
    Ferris: Here's where Cameron goes berserk.
  • Scream Discretion Shot: Combined with a Skyward Scream to intensify Cameron's reaction to the high mileage count on his father's car.
  • Secret Message Wink: Twice, at pivotal moments:
    • When Ferris fakes being sick in front of his parents, he gives Jeanie a wink after she sees right through him.
    • At the end of Ferris' day off, Rooney is about to punish him with another year of high school, but Jeanie steps in and acts concerned for him as if he's sick, giving him a wink to let him know she's helping him avoid punishment.
  • Selective Enforcement: Jeannie is a victim of this from her and Ferris' parents, who seem completely oblivious to Ferris' antics.
  • Self-Inflicted Hell: A lot of what Jeanie does to herself. Among other things she's ticked about why people seem to love Ferris and hate her... while Ferris treats everyone like his closest friend and she treats them all like dirt.
    • Also Rooney's fate. That bus becomes a symbolic hell for him.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Ferris' comparing Cameron's house to a museum - "It's very beautiful and very cold and you're not allowed to touch anything" - originally appeared in The Breakfast Club, where Allison described her house as such.
  • Senior Year Struggles: One of the reasons Ferris takes Cameron and Sloane to Chicago with him is because as seniors it's probably going to be the last big adventure they'll have together; he knows that he and Cameron will be going their separate ways after they graduate so he wants to make the most of that day off.
  • Shave And A Haircut: A florist truck continually blows its horn at Rooney, trying to get him to move out of Ferris' driveway. The flower deliveryman playfully honks the first five notes of "Shave and a Haircut", and Rooney gives the driver the finger in time to the last two notes.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Beatles receive several.
    • Ferris has a Cabaret Voltaire poster in his room.
    • The Star Wars theme blares as the Ferrari flies over the camera, similar to the opening shot of the Star Destroyer.
    • The fancy French restaurant looks like the same layout as the one in The Blues Brothers (The scene in The Blues Brothers was filmed at famous (at the time; it's since been closed) Chicago restaurant Chez Paul. The one used in this film was designed to look similar, since it is also based in Chicago. Also, the dance sequence at the end of the Parade Scene was taken from the people dancing in front of Ray's Music Exchange, and when Cameron "Goes Berserk", the same statues seen when the Bluesmobile falls apart are shown again.
    • Ferris using his computer to hack his school attendance records is a call back to Broderick's previous role in WarGames where one of his earliest acts is to hack the school computer to give himself a passing grade.
  • Shrinking Violet: Cameron. All of the film's plot (at least so Ferris says) is to get his friend to stop being this.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Jeannie hates the fact that Ferris can get away with everything and be adored by all. Ferris, for his part, doesn't bear her any ill-will.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Ferris is charming, easy-going and fun-loving. Jeannie is temperamental, aggressive and grumpy. The former is beloved, while the latter isn't.
  • Singing in the Shower: Ferris starts singing "Danke Schoen" in the shower, using the showerhead as a mike. This of course foreshadows his performance when he hijacks a float in a parade later on that day.
  • Singing Telegram: One arrives at the Bueller household in the form of a nurse while Jeannie's looking for Ferris.
    Singing Nurse: I heard that you were feeling ill. Headache, fever, and a chill. I came to help restore your pluck, cause I'm the nurse who likes to... (Jeannie slams the door)
  • Skewed Priorities: Lampshaded:
    Cameron: Ferris, my father loves this car more than life itself.
    Ferris: A man with priorities so far out of whack doesn't deserve such a fine automobile.
  • Sleeping Dummy: Ferris uses a very elaborate version of this, complete with a recording of himself snoring and an elaborate pulley system to make said dummy roll slightly in its sleep. His mother falls for it; Jeannie doesn't.
  • Slo-Mo Big Air:
    • Parodied with the garage attendants joyride.
    • And more famously with Ferris leaping from a trampoline in his last dash home.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: The snazzy restaurant scene, from the incredibly snooty maitre d', to Cameron crunching on the ice from his water. However, this is more a case of age and attitude than class, since all the main characters come from wealthy families.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Ed Rooney. He takes one student being a chronic class-dodger with all the seriousness of some kind of grand criminal mastermind (although Bueller pulls off some very elaborate cons, in Rooney's defense).
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Simone Adamley is responsible for (unintentionally) kicking off the "Save Ferris" social movement in her only scene in the movie.
  • Smug Smiler: Ferris in the movie posters. It seems to be one of his standard facial expressions.
  • Snowball Lie: The lie starts when Ferris fakes an illness to get out of school. Some of his friends call to check on him and he uses sound recordings to continue the deception. From there, it spreads through the school, mutating into Ferris having a life-threatening condition, followed by numerous get well gifts delivered to his home, a fund raising campaign to pay for life-saving surgery, and having "Save Ferris" painted on the side of a water tower. Ferris's sister Jeannie and Dean Rooney aren't fooled, but the former thwarts the latter's attempt to Pull the Thread after pulling a Heel–Face Turn at the end of the movie.
  • Spiteful Spit: At the pizza joint, when Rooney accosts a young woman from behind (mistaking her for Ferris) and tells her "Your ass is mine", she draws a strawful of soda and spits it into his face.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: Ferris manages to get an entire street dancing to "Twist and Shout".
  • Staggered Zoom: Used in the museum scene of Cameron staring at Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
  • Stealth Pun: "Chez Quis" pronounced aloud is "Shakey's". without the s, "Qui" translates to "Who?"
  • Sting: Played for Laughs when Grace tells Mr. Rooney that Ferris Bueller is on line two.
  • The Stinger: Used to show us John Hughes' troll side: first, the film hooks us back into our seats by having one last scene with Ed Rooney all the way through the credits, and then after the Iris Out, it cuts back in to the Buellers' hallway, where Ferris walks in and tells the audience to go home because the movie is over.
  • Stopped Caring: After his freakout, Cameron decides he's going to let his Dad see that they took his precious Ferrari out for a joyride. He doubles down on that when they wreck it.
  • Summer School Sucks: One student mentions that Ferris is getting him out of summer school.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Though Ferris is the main character, Jeannie and Cameron ultimately experience the most development, with Jeannie moving beyond her jealousy of Ferris and Cameron learning to have fun and stand up to his father.
  • Symbolic Glass House: Cameron lives in an all-glass house, which mirrors his bully of a father who makes him miserable.
  • Symbolic Serene Submersion: Played with. Cameron is too anxious to swim and sits poised by the side of the pool. However, he eventually lets himself drop into the pool on Ferris's urging...only to keep sinking and sinking until Ferris jumps in and grabs him. Cameron seems serene, but he is actually bordering on catatonic due to being overwhelmed by his own anxiety and fear. But the pool shows how much Cameron needs Ferris and how desperately he also needs to loosen up.
  • Taking the Heat: Ferris offers to do this for Cameron, who has just destroyed his father's Ferrari in protest of his father loving it more than his family, but Cameron refuses to let him.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Narrating is a free action for Ferris, and none of the other characters are aware that he's doing it.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That:
    • Ferris prepares one to answer the intercom if anyone rings the doorbell at his house. The responses are keyed to the intercom, so he gets around the awkward pauses, and his responses are vague enough to work for nearly any response. The plan falls through when Rooney keeps ringing the doorbell, cycling back to the first message and betraying the ruse.
    • Earlier in the movie after a bedridden Cameron gets off the phone with Ferris:
    Cameron: I'm dying.
    (phone rings)
    Ferris: You're not dying, you just can't think of anything good to do.
  • Television Geography: The characters visit almost every landmark in Chicago in the span of a few hours and make it home in time for their parents to get back from work. Even if one were to assume they only spent a few minutes at the Cubs' game, a few minutes at the Sears Tower, etc., traffic and distance would stop them from visiting all of those places during a 9-5 workday.
  • That's All, Folks!: At the very end, Ferris asks the audience why they are still watching when the movie has ended. (To see if he'd do something funny, of course! And he did!)
  • This Is the Part Where...: When Cameron figures out that the car's been taken on a joyride while it was supposed to be parked and it now has like three or four hundred extra miles on the odometer...
    Ferris: Here's where Cameron goes berserk. (Cut to Cameron's Skyward Scream).
  • Threesome Subtext: Ferris Bueller is terrified of the idea of being separated from his girlfriend Sloane… and his best friend Cameron, who he is very dedicated to. As for Cameron and Sloane, there's some chemistry between them.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: When Grace mentions that Rooney sounded like Dirty Harry, he was actually taken aback by it. Even following with a Clint Squint, before thanking her.
  • Time Stands Still: Inverted for Ferris, whose landing off the trampoline is in excruciatingly slow motion, meanwhile Jeanie is racing home and rushing into the house in real time.
  • Totally Radical: Grace, Rooney's secretary, attempting to explain popular perception of Ferris, says "The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads - they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude."
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Ferris springs instantly to mind. Cameron must have the patience of a saint.
  • True Blue Femininity: Sloane, the kinder and gentler of the two female leads, wears blue and white.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Cameron, Ferris and, Ferris' girlfriend (also Cameron's friend) Sloane.
  • The Un Favourite: Jeannie complains that their parents let Ferris get away with everything, while she can't.
  • Unusual Euphemism: The VH-1 broadcast changes the line "Pardon my French, but you're an asshole!" to "Pardon my French, but you're an idiot!" (Since when was "idiot" a cuss word? It can be taken as rude and insulting since it denotes lack of intelligence, but it's not a curse word!) Likewise, in the AMC version it cuts to the next scene before Cameron can finish his sentence.
  • Vanity License Plate: The license plate on Mr. Frye's Ferrari says "NRVOUS", which perfectly describes Cameron throughout the movie.
  • Villain Has a Point: Yes, Dean of Students Ed Rooney had gone too far by breaking into the Bueller home, but that doesn't change the fact that Ferris is skipping school, has done so at least nine times before (even hacking into the school computer to change the records), and has done so by blatantly exploiting the good will of everyone around him.
  • Villainy-Free Villain: Jeannie never does anything immoral; rather, she counters several of Ferris' immoral acts. However, being entirely motivated by spite launches her straight into antagonist territory. And she does experience a Heel–Face Turn of sorts.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Cameron and Ferris are best friends, but completely opposite in personality, which prompts them to argue.
  • Watch the Paint Job: The 1961 Ferrari 250GT California. ("Less than a hundred were made. My father spent three years restoring this car. It is his love, it is his passion." = "this car will be horrifically damaged beyond repair for comedy/pathos purposes.") Of course, in a mild subversion, the car is not totaled by Wacky Fratboy Hijinx. All that did was suspiciously increase the odometer. What actually caused it was Cameron deliberately kicking it in anger, causing it to crash right out of the showroom and off a ledge.
  • What Are You in For?:
    Boy in Police Station: Drugs?
    Jeannie: Thank you, no, I'm straight.
    Boy in Police Station: I meant, are you in here for drugs?
    Jeannie: Why are you here?
    Boy in Police Station: Drugs.
  • Wham Line: Ed is insulting "Mr. Peterson" on the phone, thinking it's Ferris. He thinks that, until his secretary comes in and says, "Ferris Bueller's on line 2." Subverted, though, because it's Cameron. But the sheer look on the dean and the secretary's faces as Ed goes on line 2, then back, is hilarious to watch, whether or not you've seen this before.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's a good thing the real Abe Frohman never showed up to claim his reservation...
  • Wisdom from the Gutter: The delinquent at the police station, whose advice helps Jeannie to entirely change her attitude toward her brother.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Ferris. Conventional wisdom would tell us that he should be studying, preparing for his future, but he knows that the future is now; it's today. He's not going to spend his whole life wishing he had done something, he just does it. He also helps give Cameron the confidence to move beyond his Parental Issues and take control of his own life, all while thwarting the attempts of Rooney to bring him down and imprison him in yet another year of high school.
  • You Don't Want to Catch This: Jeannie, thinking that Rooney is an intruder and fearing for her virtue, tells him via intercom that she has her father's gun and "a scorching case of herpes."
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: The look on Jeannie's face when the "naughty nurse" shows up instead of the police.

"...You're still here? It's over! Go home.....go."note 


Video Example(s):


Ferris' Dad Spots Them

Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane are at a stoplight in a taxi, right next to Ferris' dad while he's reading a newspaper in another taxi. His dad glances at them once and when he looks at them again, Sloane takes Ferris's spot and wears sunglasses to disguise herself while Ferris and Cameron hide below their seat.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / AwkwardStoplightMoment

Media sources: