At the beginning of the movie, there are some shots of the school building right before the kids show up for detention. Written on a wall is, "I don't like Mondays". This refers to a school shooting in 1979, committed by sixteen-year-old Brenda Spencer. Brenda's father gave her a rifle for Christmas in 1978. On January 29, 1979, she used her new rifle to shoot ten children and staff at Clevelend Elementary School in San Diego, California. The school was across the street from her house, where she was during the incident. She killed the school's Principal, and one of the custodians, and injured eight children. After six hours, she was apprehended by Police. When asked why she did it, she said "I don't like Mondays. This livens up the day." As for selecting her targets, she said "I like red and blue jackets." As of April, 2009, she is serving a life sentence, and has been denied parole four times. At her 2005 parole hearing, she claimed that her father had sexually abused her as a child, and that she was drunk, and on PCP at the time of the shooting. According to her, the authorities, and her attorney, conspired to hide the drug test results. As for remorse, she said at the time, "I had no reason for it, and it was just a lot of fun", "It was just like shooting ducks in a pond", and "(The children) looked like a herd of cows standing around. It was really easy pickings." The incident, and Spencer's lack of remorse also inspired The Boomtown Rats' hit "I Don't Like Mondays".
The scene in which all characters sit in a circle on the floor in the library and tell stories about why they were in detention was not scripted. Writer and Director John Hughes told them all to ad-lib.
It was originally suggested that there would be several sequels to this movie, occurring every ten years, in which "The Breakfast Club" would get back together. This did not come to pass, due to the volatile relationship between John Hughes and Judd Nelson. Hughes stated that he would never work with Nelson again. Also, it was unclear whether or not Hughes still held ill will against his oft-cast starlet, Molly Ringwald. They had a falling out in the late eighties, after Ringwald decided to move on from the teen film genre to pursue more adult roles, thus severing her relationship with Hughes.
Judd Nelson improvised the part at the closing of the film where Bender raises his fist in defiance. He was supposed to just walk into the sunset, so to speak, and John Hughes asked him to play around with a few actions. When he was done and they were finishing up, Nelson threw his fist up without running it by anyone. Everyone loved it, and it has also become an iconic symbol of the 1980s.
In 2010, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall told Vanity Fair magazine that John Hughes was receptive to actors' and actresses' improvisations, and some of them (including Brian's reason for having a fake ID, "so I can vote") made it into the final film.
The David Bowie quote at the beginning of the movie is pulled from his song "Changes". It can be found on his 1971 album, "Hunky Dory". Ally Sheedy suggested the quote to John Hughes, who liked it, and thus included it in the opening.
Judd Nelson went undercover at a local high school outside Chicago near where the film was shooting, and convinced the teenagers that he was a legitimate student. After buying beer for them with his "fake ID" (he was twenty-four at the time), Nelson told them to drop him off at the hotel where the actors were staying. Years later, reflecting on his antics, Nelson said, "They would ask me why I was staying there, and I told them my dad was in jail. I'm staying at the Westin O'Hare while my dad's incarcerated."
John Kapelos jokingly warned the young actors to not overdo their intensity, laughingly noting that Martin Sheen once suffered a serious heart attack while filming Apocalypse Now (1979). Emilio Estevez was enraged by the remark, and Kapelos was then stunned to learn that Martin was Estevez's father. While Estevez accepted Kapelos' apology and filming was unaffected, Kapelos said years later he still felt terrible about what he said, even though he hadn't had any idea about the connection between Sheen and Estevez, and had offended Estevez completely inadvertently. When Kapelos guest-starred on The West Wing (1999), he told Martin Sheen this story. Sheen thought it was very funny, which provided Kapelos a small amount of relief from the chagrin he had felt about the incident since it happened.
The joke that Bender tells (while crawling through the ceiling), but never finishes, actually has no punchline. According to Judd Nelson, he ad-libbed the line. Originally, he was supposed to tell a joke that would end when he came back into the library and said, "Forgot my pencil", but no one could come up with a punchline for the joke.
The theme song, "Don't You (Forget About Me)", was written for the film by Keith Forsey. It was a number one hit for Simple Minds, and Billy Idol and Bryan Ferry turned down offers to record it first (although in 2001, Billy Idol recorded Don't You (Forget About Me) as a bonus track for his Greatest Hits album). The song was also turned down by Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, who then suggested they offer it to the band, fronted by her husband at the time, Simple Minds.
John Cusack auditioned several times for John Bender, even travelling between Chicago and Los Angeles before being cast. However, John Hughes went in a different direction, and dropped Cusack in favor of Judd Nelson, which was heavily influenced by the Casting Director.
John Hughes originally wanted "The Breakfast Club" to be a two and a half hour movie. However, many of the scenes were cut out and the negatives destroyed. John Hughes said in Première that he had the only complete copy of The Breakfast Club on film. Among the cut scenes from the movie (some filmed, some only written) are: -Carl predicts where the five kids will be in thirty years. Bender will have killed himself, Claire will have had "two boob jobs and a face lift", Brian will have become very successful, but die of a heart attack, due to the stress of the high paying job. Allison will be a great poet, but no one will care, and Andrew will marry a gorgeous airline stewardess, who will become fat after having kids. -In a dream sequence, Allison imagines Andrew as a gluttonous Viking, Bender as a prisoner, Claire as a bride, Brian as an astronaut, and herself as a vampire. In an unfilmed alternative to this dream sequence, all five kids imagine random things, including cars, naked women, Godzilla, beer, and fighter planes, and these things end up filling the room until Vernon interrupts. -John Bender was not going to walk to school in the original script. He was going to be driven by his dad in a rusty tow truck, and have a brief fight with him before his dad drives off. Bender was also tossed a bagged lunch, with his father saying "You are a waste of lunch meat!" -After Bender demonstrates "Life at Big Bri's house" Brian stops Bender, and corrects him with a much more pessimistic version of the skit. Claire then proceeds to act out her life before asking Bender to demonstrate his version. Bender's routine changes as well here. After Bender mimics his mom, he stops, commenting that "then they make me work to pay off the dentist for the teeth HE busts." -The scene where Andrew and Allison are walking to get the sodas is extended to a point, where Allison pulls out a pack of cigarettes, and smokes one. -After getting the sodas, Bender shakes his can violently and places it among the five to see who gets the rigged one. Allison ends up getting it, and when she opens the can, all the soda squirts directly into her mouth. -After Vernon asks who has to use the lavatory, the five go to the bathroom. Vernon gives the boys two minutes, and the girls three minutes. Claire catches Allison in a stall eating a bag of chips, repulsing her. Bender mocks Brian for sitting down to pee instead of using a urinal. -When the group is sitting in the circle and Allison mentions that she can write (and do other things) with her toes, she was going to follow up with an actual demonstration. -Several staff members were cut out of the script before filming. Dr. Lange, a Social Studies teacher, who dresses oddly, and Robin, a gym teacher. Robin helps Vernon on a few workout machines until Vernon injures his back, and she eventually visits the students while they are in their circle in the library. Robin initially replaced many of Carl's scenes, and Carl was originally set to be a minor character, with only two scenes. -During a cast reunion in honor of the film's 25th anniversary, Ally Sheedy revealed that a Director's Cut existed, but Hughes' widow did not disclose any details concerning its whereabouts.
John Hughes said that before filming began, the cast rehearsed the entire movie a few times as if it were a play. After the film became a hit, Hughes was asked to write the script as a play, so high schoolers could perform it.
The library, in which this movie takes place, was constructed in the gymnasium of Maine North High School specifically for the film. The school closed down in 1982, two years before filming began. The building had been used for park district purposes and the Chicago Blitz, before the Illinois State Police bought it, turning it into a Police Station, which it still is to this day.
Ally Sheedy had first auditioned for the part of Samantha Baker in Sixteen Candles (1984), which went to Molly Ringwald. When Sheedy auditioned, she had two black eyes from a set building accident. The black eyes gave her a dark, gothic image, which stayed with John Hughes. When it was time to cast the part of Allison, Hughes remembered, and called Sheedy.
Claire's entire ensemble was purchased, specially for the character, from a Ralph Lauren store, the only one in Chicago at the time. John Hughes had rejected the original costume, on the grounds that it wasn't sophisticated enough.
Nicolas Cage was originally considered for the role of John Bender, but the production could not afford his salary at the time. John Cusack was originally cast as John Bender, but John Hughes decided to replace him with Judd Nelson before shooting began.
The film's title comes from the nickname invented by students and staff, for detention, at New Trier High School, the school attended by the son of one of John Hughes' friends. Thus, those who were sent to detention were designated members of "The Breakfast Club". "The Breakfast Club" at that school probably took its name in turn from the title of American radio's longest running network entertainment show, broadcast from Chicago, 1933 to 1968.
As most people know, Shermer, Illinois is a fictitious suburb of Chicago in several John Hughes films such as this film, as well as Weird Science (1985), Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), Sixteen Candles (1984), Pretty in Pink (1986), and National Lampoon's Vacation (1983). But, the zip code that Brian states in the opening of the film, 60062, is to an actual town. It belongs to Northbrook, Illinois, a town about thirty miles north of Chicago. Northbrook was originally incorporated as "Shermerville" (it changed its name in 1923), and one of the main roads through the town is still named Shermer Road. Glenbrook North High School, on which the film is based, is located on Shermer Road. John Hughes graduated from Glenbrook High School, and based his movies on the school and students. "The Breakfast Club" was the nickname for Saturday detentions.
Rick Moranis was originally cast as the janitor. He grew a thick beard, and decided to play the character with a Russian accent. John Hughes planned to let Moranis reinterpret the character, but Producer Ned Tanen so vehemently opposed Moranis' comical creative liberties, that he had Rick replaced with John Kapelos.
Additional cut content includes an extended version of the pot smoking scene, in which Brian and Claire are seen singing "All My Lovin'" by The Beatles, and a new scene in which Allison breaks into the teachers' lockers using a switchblade, where she finds a copy of the Prince album "1999", remarking, "You know what this means? They're human." Several other differences between the definitive, and uncut versions of the film, have been noted, chiefly an extended make out scene, in which not only Bender and Claire are seen kissing, but also Andy and Allison. Lastly, during John Hughes' small cameo as Brian's dad in the final scene (a performance which he later criticized), he was originally given the short line "buckle up".
Karen Leigh Hopkins was cast as Robin, a gym teacher who gives the teens advice. But after one day of filming, Hopkins was fired and her scenes were re-written for Carl, the janitor. According to the book "John Hughes: A Life in Film", Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy objected to a scene, in which Robin was seen nude in the locker room, so John Hughes deleted her character.
When Bender is distracting Vernon while the others make their way back to the library, part of the song he sings is a few lines from "Turning Japanese" by The Vapors. The other part he sings while running down the hallway, are lines from a U.S. Military cadence: "I wanna be an Airborne Ranger".
Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy) never speaks to Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason) despite him being the authority in the film. The closest she ever did to communicating with Vernon was squeaking and chuckling at him.
While Maine North High School was no longer a fully-functioning high school at the time of filming, the school was in use as the Alternative Resource Center (A.R.C.) for High Schools Maine West (also in Des Plaines), Maine South, and Maine East (both of Park Ridge, Illinois). Students that were a chronic disciplinary problem, considered to be unruly or disruptive to the learning process of others, would find themselves at Maine North every day, as an alternative to expulsion, or other disciplinary measures. Maine Township still conducts the A.R.C., now in Morton Grove, Illinois, with a goal of providing a structured environment with positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior.
The song which Judd Nelson hums the guitar riff to at the beginning of the movie is the opening of "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream. Cream's song "Badge" also features in Fandango (1985). Nelson also starred in this movie.
The large sculpture in the library, which Allison adorns with lunch meat, and Bender rides like a mechanical bronco, bears an astounding resemblance to a bronze work by famed British Artist Henry Moore titled "Standing Figure, Knife Edge" (or, in a larger version, "Large Standing Figure, Knife Edge"). These are editioned works (and there's one in Arkansas), so John Hughes either borrowed it for the movie, or used it as the model for a set piece.
Alison says that she can play "Heart and Soul" on the piano with her feet. This is the song that Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia played, using their feet, on the giant piano in the toy store in Big (1988). They also played chopsticks on the piano.
What they ate for lunch: Andrew: a bag of chips, chocolate cookies, three sandwiches, milk, a banana, and an apple. Claire: sushi (rice, raw fish, and seaweed). Allison: a sandwich with Pixie Stix and Cap'n Crunch cereal. John: nothing. Brian: soup, sandwich with peanut butter and jam, and apple juice.
In 2018, Molly Ringwald wrote a piece in The New Yorker in which she described watching the film with her 10-year-old daughter. Although she was bothered by scenes of sexual abuse and harassment in this film and other films and material by John Hughes, she stood by the work, recognizing that these issues were a product of the times and that Hughes's films were still beneficial in helping teens assert their independence and identity.
The Breakfast Club (1985) was one of two films realeased in that year, that starred Judd Nelson and he also worked with a director who also wrote the screenplay. Here it was John Hughes, for Fandango (1985) it was Kevin Reynolds. Incidentally Thomas Del Ruth was the cinematographer on both films.
Emilio Estevez's father, Martin Sheen, appeared in the film The Dead Zone. Anthony Michael Hall later played the lead role on the television series, while Ally Sheedy and John Kapelos made guest appearances.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In the beginning of the movie, you see different shots of the school hallways and classrooms, you can see what the flare gun did to Brian's locker. Also, there is a picture of a former Shermer High School student "Man of the Year". The guy in the picture is the janitor, Carl Reed.
The following are the reasons each character is in detention on Saturday: Andrew: taped a guy's butt cheeks together in the locker room. Brian: flare gun went off in his locker, Bender: pulled a false fire alarm. Claire: ditched class to go shopping. Allison: didn't do anything, she didn't have anything better to do on a Saturday (however, this claim is most likely untrue, and is part of Allison's compulsive lying).
Bender continuously provokes Principal Vernon into giving him extra Saturday detentions early on in the film. It is later implied during lunch by the burn mark on his forearm, that he may have done that intentionally, because he'd rather be alone with Vernon at school on a Saturday, instead of being stuck at home with his constantly bickering parents, especially his violent and abusive father. It's also implied during the scene where Vernon escorts him to the closet, and proceeds to rip into him, that he only acts the way he does, because he'd rather have people think he's a tough troublemaking delinquent-type, instead of a troubled and abused victim. Overall, it shows that he has more tolerance (and possibly more respect) to deal with Vernon, than his parents.
The theatrical trailer shows brief footage that was ultimately never used. One shot shows Allison sitting by herself in a small room (presumably while the rest of the kids are getting high). Another brief clip shows Allison (post makeover) exclaiming to Andrew that she doesn't wanna be alone anymore, to which he responds that she doesn't have to be.
When aired on television, there are often one of two (very rarely both) additional scenes shown to fill the time and content gap: Right after Mr. Vernon excuses Andrew and Allison to go to the teacher's lounge to use the soda machine, there is additional footage of Allison walking past Andrew, and going straight towards the door while he collects change from Brian. The whole time, Vernon is telling them to get a move on. Bender then holds his hand out towards Brian, who thinks he wants a high five and proceeds to give him one. Bender then makes a face and Brian realizes he needs change too, so he takes more change out of his pocket and hands it to Andrew. Claire then asks Mr. Vernon if he can break a (presumably five dollar or ten dollar) bill she has, to which he gives a disgusted groan. - There's an additional scene after they sneak out of the library, but before they reach Bender's locker. They walk up to the faculty lounge, where Vernon is having a hard time with one of the vending machines. They each creep by quickly (Bender goes first, followed by Claire, Andrew, and Brian) except for Allison, who not only brings up the rear, but she purposely stops and stands in the doorway for a few seconds facing Vernon, as if daring him to look her way. Claire then comments, "she's nuts, but she's cool." Then she passes the doorway, and they continue towards Bender's locker. Vernon then finally looks towards the door, just as the machine finally dispenses his candy purchase.
The beginning monologue is slightly different from the ending monologue. The difference shows the goal of the movie and the transformation the characters go through. From being each one for themselves and not caring about others to becoming a strong group that supports each other
In 2018 Molly Ringwald wrote an article for "The New Yorker" magazine in which she criticised this film for the fact that Bender sexually harasses, sexually assaults, and bullies Claire and that, despite this, they end up in a romantic relationship at the end.