10 Harsh Realties Of Rewatching The Breakfast Club, 39 Years Later


  • The Breakfast Club has some problematic elements that don’t hold up well today, such as the use of slurs and derogatory terms.
  • Bender’s behavior towards Claire in The Breakfast Club, including sexual harassment, is deplorable and uncomfortable for viewers to watch.
  • Despite its iconic status, The Breakfast Club’s romance storylines undermine the message of not letting presumptions about others stop you from befriending them.



The Breakfast Club was first released in theaters on February 7, 1985, and almost 40 years later, it’s seen as a treasured classic with some pretty big flaws. There are some wild details behind the making of The Breakfast Club, so it isn’t entirely shocking that some of the material that made it to the big screen has been viewed as problematic. The Breakfast Club followed Sixteen Candles, another John Hughes and Molly Ringwald movie. Though The Breakfast Club is generally regarded as less controversial than Sixteen Candles, it doesn’t mean it’s without its issues.

The Breakfast Club tells the story of five high school students from varying cliques and popularity levels who spend the day together in Saturday detention and realize they aren’t so different. The Breakfast Club has some great messages and lessons, reminding people not to judge someone by what they see on the outside or what they’ve heard from others. The best Breakfast Club quotes that are still remembered fondly highlight its legacy and importance. Yet, it’s also a product of its time, meaning much of the film doesn’t work well today.

10 The Use Of Slurs & Derogatory Terms Didn’t Age Well

Multiple John Hughes Movies Have This Problem


As shown in the harsh realities of rewatching Sixteen Candles, the use of slurs in John Hughes’ 1980s coming-of-age movies hasn’t aged well. However, this wasn’t just a problem with his films. Hughes is a highly-celebrated writer and director, as he should be, as he’s the mastermind behind films like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Planes Trains and Automobiles, and Home Alone. With his premature death in 2009, audiences will never get to see the films Hughes might have made if he were alive in this more modern and progressive society.

Hughes was 35 when he made The Breakfast Club, and he took his coming-of-age high school films very seriously. He had The Breakfast Club cast go undercover in a high school to ensure accuracy in his script and their performance. Unfortunately, some of that accuracy included the casual use of homophobic slurs, typically when one student was bullying another. Today, this can make viewers uncomfortable, but in the 1980s, it was generally accepted behavior.

9 The Nine-Hour Detention Didn’t Make Sense

The Detention Was Longer Than A Typical School Day


The students in The Breakfast Club receive detention for various reasons. Bender (Judd Nelson) pulled the fire alarm; Claire (Ringwald) skipped class to go shopping; Brian (Anthony Michael Hall) brought a flare gun to school; and Andrew (Emilio Estevez) duct-taped a student’s butt cheeks together, which led to some of his skin being ripped off. Only Allison (Ally Sheedy) didn’t earn detention, later confessing she showed up because she had nothing better to do.

The strict Vice Principal Vernon ran the detention, locking the school doors from the inside and instructing them to stay in the library and write essays. This might not have been so bad if the detention wasn’t 9 hours. As many viewers have noted, a typical Saturday detention is around 2 hours long and a typical school day is only around 6 or 7 hours long. The excessive detention may be unrealistic, but it allowed for many antics and deep bonding.

8 Bender Sexually Harassed Claire

Bender Crossed A Line Too Many Times


Throughout The Breakfast Club, Bender sexually harassed Claire. His behavior was frequently criticized by the other students, namely Andrew, who protected his fellow popular classmate whenever possible. He wasn’t nice to the other students until the end, and even that could be seen as a generous interpretation. However, Bender treated Claire the worst of all The Breakfast Club members.

He frequently judged her, assuming she had a perfect life because she was pretty and popular. This might have been forgivable, or even justified, given his own home life and Claire’s somewhat stuck-up attitude, but he crossed a line into sexual harassment far too many times. One of Bender’s first lines is him making a “joke” about “[impregnating] the prom queen” against her will. His worst offense is when he puts his head under her skirt while hiding under the desk. Bender is an interesting character, but his behavior towards Claire is deplorable.

7 Bender’s Backstory Shouldn’t Excuse His Actions

Bender’s Backstory Just Explained His Behavior


Despite Bender’s sexual harassment of Claire and his general bullying towards everyone else in The Breakfast Club, his behavior is often excused because of his home life. When the other students finally had enough of his treatment of them, they started to give him a taste of his own medicine. Then, Bender revealed his parents were always fighting and his father abused him.

Almost instantly, everyone feels bad for Bender, which is understandable, as nobody should be abused, no matter how awful they can be to others. However, The Breakfast Club scene frames it as though they should feel guilty for their assumptions. Yet, there isn’t a scene where Bender seems to express true remorse for his behavior. While Bender’s The Breakfast Club backstory may explain why he acts the way he does, it should never justify or excuse it.

6 The Adult Storylines Are Underrated

The Breakfast Club Isn’t Just About Teenagers


There are two main adult characters in The Breakfast Club, Carl Reed, the janitor, and Richard Vernon, the vice principal. Vice Principal Vernon is remembered as a cruel and bitter man who always had it out for Bender, which is a fair description. Carl is a minor character, but his monologue about being a janitor is well remembered.

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Bender tries to make fun of Carl, telling him he wants to learn more about becoming a janitor because Andrew was “interested in pursuing a career in the custodial arts.” Bender wanted to embarrass and shame Carl for being a janitor, but Carl didn’t take the bait. Instead, he reminded them that what he does is important, and it makes him “the eyes and ears of [the] institution.”

However, there’s one underrated scene in The Breakfast Club that makes the adult storyline so well done and important. Vernon and Carl talked about getting older and Vernon said he felt the kids were getting “more and more arrogant” after teaching for 22 years. Carl keeps Vernon, who believes the kids “turned on him,” in line by telling him:

The kids haven’t changed, you have.You took a teaching position because you thought it’d be fun right? … Then you found out it was actually work. That really bummed you out.

Carl tries to make Vernon put himself in his students’ shoes, but Vernon lies and says he doesn’t care what they think. This reminds viewers and Vernon that they were once teenagers too. It’s also a sad commentary on what can happen when people’s lives don’t go as expected. When Vernon says he’s kept awake in the middle of the night thinking about these students one day running the country and taking care of him when he’s older, Carl says he “wouldn’t count on it.” Carl believes you must show respect and care to earn it, regardless of age, which is an important lesson.

5 The Breakfast Club Features A Controversial Flag

The Confederate Flag Is Hanging In The Library


One of the most famous scenes in The Breakfast Club is when Andrew unexpectedly and wildly dances in the library to “We Are Not Alone” by Karla DeVito. It’s a very fun scene that sees the students let loose, with the other students eventually joining him. When Andrew runs through the library, he passes a bunch of flags, including the controversial Confederate flag, which has been seen as racist against African Americans.

Technically, it’s not a true Confederate flag, as it was the Georgia state flag. According to New Georgia Encyclopedia, Georgia added the Confederate flag to their state flag in 1956, in protest of the Brown v. Board of Education decision to integrate schools. Thus, the school in The Breakfast Club was simply hanging up the flags of all the states with no intention of being controversial. In 2001, after a long campaign by African Americans in Georgia, the state flag removed the Confederate flag portion.

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4 Allison’s Lie Was Considered Rape

Allison Claims It Wasn’t Rape In The Breakfast Club


One of the most heartbreaking moments in a John Hughes movie is when the students confess their secrets to each other in The Breakfast Club. They talk about how they ended up in detention, and Allison confesses she never got detention but showed up because she doesn’t have any friends or anything better to do on a Saturday. Allison also shares that she’s a pathological liar.

Before this, she makes up a fake scenario about her seeing a therapist for sex addiction and then having sex with her therapist. She comments that it can’t be rape because she paid for the sessions. Claire is indignant, arguing that he’s still a grown man taking advantage of her. It ends up being a lie and The Breakfast Club frames it as Claire being upset over nothing. Yet, she was right and rightfully upset at Allison’s story.

3 Brian Shouldn’t Have Been In Detention

Brian Should’ve Been Receiving Treatment


During The Breakfast Club’s library confession scene, also known as the “group therapy” scene, Brian shares he’s in detention because he took a gun to school intending to die by suicide. Brian is a stereotypical nice guy nerd in The Breakfast Club. He’s an easy target to pick on because he won’t fight back, and the boy that Andrew bullied to land himself in detention was one of Brian’s friends.

Being a “nerd” comes with good grades and pressure to keep those good grades. When Brian received an F in shop class, he feared what his parents and others would think of him, and tried to die by suicide. However, he had a flare gun, not a handgun. This made the other students laugh, and Brian eventually laughed too, but he should have been receiving treatment, not detention. Mental health awareness has grown greatly since the 1980s, and if The Breakfast Club was remade today, Brian’s storyline might have been different.

2 The Romance Undermines The Breakfast Club’s Message

The Breakfast Club Should Have Just Stayed Friends


One of the biggest questions The Breakfast Club characters ask each other is if they’ll stay friends after their detention. After all, they’re in different cliques. Outside Andrew and Claire, who are both popular, without getting detention, they’d probably never have spoken to each other, let alone started to bond. Yet, the main question and the message about not letting your presumptions about people stop you from befriending them is somewhat hampered by the movie’s romances.

The Breakfast Club has two love stories within the five-student group. Allison and Andrew kiss, as do Bender and Claire, at the end of The Breakfast Club. Andrew and Allison’s kiss came after a controversial makeover scene where Allison was transformed into a stereotypical 80s prom queen. Claire then kisses Bender, despite his sexual harassment of her. While this is problematic enough, having them get together while Brian is alone undermines the story of friendship.

1 The Breakfast Club Probably Aren’t Going To Stay Friends

The Breakfast Club Ended When It Needed To


The Breakfast Club has one of the most famous endings in film history. After Claire kisses Bender and gives him one of her earrings, he walks across the football field. With “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds playing in the background, Bender pumps his fist for the iconic final shot. A voiceover of Brian’s essay to Vice Principal Vernon also plays, where he claims they were “brainwashed” to see each other as simple stereotypes.

Everyone in The Breakfast Club learns important lessons, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stay friends after the film’s end. Not only are they in different cliques, but they’re teenagers who struggle with pressure from their peers and parents. They may see past the stereotypes, but they know not everyone around them will. The Breakfast Club never had a sequel, which was for the best, as a subsequent film may have proven their tentative friendship was only temporary.

Source: New Georgia Encyclopedia

The Breakfast Club

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After receiving detention, a group of five high-school students bonds as they realize they have quite a bit in common despite being from different friend groups. Despite being over 35 years old, The Breakfast Club still stands as one of the quintessential movies of the ‘80s and one of director John Hughes standout films.

Director John Hughes Release Date February 15, 1985 Writers John Hughes Cast Molly Ringwald , Ally Sheedy , Anthony Michael Hall , Judd Nelson , Emilio Estevez Runtime 97 minutes

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