Study Guide

The Breakfast Club Summary

The Breakfast Club Summary

Five students meet for detention on a Saturday at Shermer High School outside Chicago.

Meet Brian Johnson, Andrew Clark, Allison Reynolds, Claire Standish, and John Bender—respectively, "a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal."

The smug supervising teacher, Richard Vernon, assigns them an essay on "who you think you are," and verbally spars with Bender. Yeah, this is gonna be a verbally sparring kind of a flick. As soon as Vernon leaves, the teen drama begins: Bender bothers Claire with inappropriate sexual jokes, majorly gets on Andrew's nerves, and casually insults Brian, to boot.

This is sure to be a fun day.

The bickering goes back and forth for a surprisingly long time—like, a significant chunk of the movie. Bender continues the shenanigans: He pulls a switchblade on Andrew, removes a screw that keeps the library door open, and gets himself into more detentions after he tells Vernon to "eat my shorts."

Don't you just love the '80s?

Around lunchtime, things start to change. Instead of viewing each other as stereotypes, they begin to... listen.

  • Bender reveals that he's abused at home, showing Andrew the scar from where his dad burned him with a cigar. (He leads them all out into the hall, where he recovers a bag of marijuana from his locker. After stashing it in Brian's underwear, Bender gets caught in the hall by Vernon, who locks him in a closet for the rest of detention. Bender escapes and returns to the library, where he smokes with all the other students, except for Allison.)
  • It comes out that Allison's parents ignore her.
  • Andrew's in detention for bullying a kid by taping his butt cheeks together—something he deeply regrets. 
  • Brian's in detention because he brought a flare gun into school, and he was thinking of shooting himself with it after failing shop class.

Oh hey, turns out they're going through something tough. Whodathunk?

In the end, Andrew winds up with Allison, and Bender and Claire get together. 

Brian alone writes the essay on "who you think you are," explaining that they've all learned to identify with each other. Each one of them is, all together, a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. 

And in one of the most iconic images from '80s cinema, Bender raises his fist in triumph as he walks across the football field.