It may be thirty years later, don't you forget about The Breakfast Club

Credit: Universal/Everett

The Breakfast Club opened in theaters on Feb. 15, 1985. It has since become a classic, celebrated not only for capturing the decade from which it originated but also for nailing the hapless, yet hopeful angst of teenage life in any decade.

Even thirty years later, there’s a lot to learn from this story of five disparate teens – Andy the Jock (Emilio Estevez), Brian the Brain (Anthony Michael Hall), Bender the Criminal (Judd Nelson), Claire the Princess (Molly Ringwald) and Allison the Basket Case (Ally Sheedy) – forced to spend Saturday detention together. Here’s our take on the thirty best lessons.

(Language Warning: Lest you forget, this teen classic was actually rated R. These video clips feature teenagers talking like teenagers.)

1. You can learn a lot about a person by observing the various ways they cope with utter boredom.

2. The quickest way to unite a group of people is to give them a common enemy.

3. Using variations on the phrase “Don’t mess with the bull. You’ll get the horns” will only invite comparisons to The Breakfast Club‘s villain.

4. Sometimes the most interesting person in the room is initially the quietest.

5. Dandruff + wet ink = a winter snowscape.

6. Don’t ever put down the janitor. He knows more about you than you think.

7. Success in high school doesn’t necessarily translate to success later in life. In fact, you see that the very same man who’s now the Shermer High School janitor was his graduating class’s man of the year not that long ago.

8. Bad boys and good girls can be a winning combination.

9. Hall monitors were wrong to stop you; running through the halls is one of the most fun things you can do at school.

10. No, scratch that. The most fun you can have at school is dancing in the library to “We Are Not Alone.”

11. Smoking marijuana may have unexpected acrobatic effects on high school jocks.

12. The absolute height of high school sophistication is Molly Ringwald’s character Claire eating sushi out of a bento box – in 1985, no less. And the absolute height of high-school weird is Ally Sheedy’s Allison making a Pixie Stix-and-cereal sandwich.

13. In thirty years, little has changed about the double standard women face regarding sex.


14. Even the good girl might have a party trick or two up her sleeve.

15. Insecure? Own it.

16. Some people will say things just for attention.

17. And when someone claims to be a compulsive liar, it’s really unclear whether you should believe her or not. Wouldn’t a compulsive liar claim not to be one?


18. The difference between a pretty, popular girl and the class weirdo may be a simple makeover.

19. However, don’t forget that the weird girl might actually like the way she looks. She might think you look weird.

20. Body hair and duct tape are a dangerous combo.

21. Ceiling tiles are not strong enough to support a grown man – or a teenaged Judd Nelson, for that matter.

22. Jocks don’t cry – even jocks that tape other people’s butt cheeks together.

23. When the basket case is calling you out, perhaps it’s time for some introspection.

24. The grown-ups haven’t figured it out any better than the kids.

25. This is perhaps the greatest truth of the entire movie.

26. Though this one is a close second – and a pretty good metaphor for a burnout who probably doesn’t pay attention in English class.

27. Also worth pondering, by teenagers and adults alike: No matter how peachy-keen someone’s life seems, it’s probably not as great as you imagine it.

28. You’re better off defining yourself rather than letting everyone else decide who you are and allowing them to treat you accordingly.

29. Raise your fist in triumph even when no one is looking.

30. And finally, three decades later, there’s still no better rock anthem for the highs and lows of being a teenager than Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”

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