The Breakfast Club is one of the greatest coming-of-age films of all time. The movie’s characters, dialogue, and organic conflict come together in a way that keeps audiences engaged, even when nothing much is happening. Because that’s the thing: Nothing really happens in The Breakfast Club.
Beyond its nostalgic value, why is The Breakfast Club so widely studied and celebrated? Let’s find out by tearing down its screenplay.
The Breakfast Club Script
Click to view and download the entire The Breakfast Club script PDF below.
WHO WROTE THE Breakfast Club SCRIPT?
Written by John Hughes
He was so prolific that fellow filmmakers claim he would sometimes write full scripts in the span of one weekend.
The Breakfast Club PLOT
Story beats in The Breakfast Club script
Here is the story structure for the The Breakfast Club screenplay:
Breakfast Club Plot Summary
STRUCTURE OF THE BREAKFAST CLUB SCREENPLAY
Here's the structure for The Breakfast Club screenplay:
Breakfast Club Opening Scene: The story is set at an Illinois high school in the ’80s where five students are sentenced to Saturday detention. All of the standard stereotypes are accounted for:
- “The brain,” Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall)
- “The athlete,” Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez)
- “The basket case,” Ally Sheedy (Allison Reynolds)
- “The princess,” Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald)
- “The criminal,” John Bender (Judd Nelson)
When the students arrive for detention, Mr. Vernon (Paul Gleason), the principal, makes them write an essay on who they are and why they did what they did to get to where they are now.
Plot Point One
Personalities clash and nobody gets along. John consistently taunts each one of them—especially Claire. (At one point, he suggests to Brian that he shut the door and “impregnate the prom queen.”) No one finds this funny and Claire, Andrew, Brian, and Allison all form a gross opinion of John. John takes a screw out from the door to try and close it. Vernon eventually comes back in due to the noise but everybody covers for John. This is their first sign of unity.
John continues mocking his schoolmates. Andrew sticks up for Brian and Claire, wrestling John down to the ground. When they both stand back up, John reminds them why he’s “the criminal” by pulling out a switchblade. In The Breakfast Club lunch scene, John makes fun of Brian’s nutritious meal, mimicking what he imagines to be his perfect life at home. Andrew sticks up for Brian and forces John to imitate his own family. John does and reveals how abusive his father is. Andrew doesn’t believe him, so John shows him a burn mark on his arm.
The kids leave the library and head to John’s locker. John grabs some pot, unbeknownst to the crew. They try to sneak back to the library before Mr. Vernon notices. John distracts Vernon so the rest of them can make it back undetected (but not before he shoves the weed in Brian’s pants).
Plot Point Two
Mr. Vernon brings John back and embarrasses him in front of everybody. He attacks John’s character, saying he’ll probably be imprisoned in five years, and continues to scream in his face. He then takes him out of the library and locks him in a closet for the rest of detention. The principal attempts to start a physical fight with John, but he doesn’t take the bait.
John escapes by climbing through a vent, but very loudly falls through the ceiling. Vernon runs back to the library to see what’s going on. John hides under Claire’s table; no one gives him up. All of the kids except for Allison smoke weed together. A dance sequence with absurd air-punching from Emilio Estevez ensues.
The kids divulge their darkest secrets to one another. Brian confesses his desire to commit suicide because of mounting pressure. They all talk about how much pressure they experience from their parents, and how terrified they are to end up just like them.
The kids discover how much they have in common, and all initial judgement is gone. Claire and John kiss, Andrew and Allison kiss: the unlikeliest of pairings. They all leave detention with a better understanding of themselves and each other.
The Breakfast Club Script Takeaway #1
The Breakfast Club Quotes
On its face, what happens in The Breakfast Club script—five people sit in a room and talk about their feelings—doesn’t exactly seem like the best idea for a movie. But each line is so uniquely attached to its character that it can’t help but push the story forward. Very few, if any, lines are wasted. The conversations between characters push the film’s narrative forward till the end.
Take this scene, for example. Not much happens in it at all, yet it teaches us so much about each character. All Andrew says is “You’re just feeling sorry for yourself,” and so it begins...
The clash of identities, here, yields raw conflict. Everything feels like a debate, because it is. And even though John is usually the instigator, they all disagree with each other.
If you need a refresher, watch the scene below:
Whether it’s due to the age of the characters or to Hughes’ theatrical approach to the material, one thing is clear: The Breakfast Club monologues never feel forced. John’s monologue in particular establishes a clear motive for why he behaves the way he does.
Here’s a list of the best quotes in The Breakfast Club:
- “Dork, you are a parent’s wet dream, okay?”
- “I’ve laid lots of times.”
- “Why do you have to insult everyone?”
- “I’m being honest, asshole!”
- “Claire? It’s a fat girl’s name.”
- “You think I’d speak for you? I don’t even know your language.”
- “Well everyone’s homelife is unsatisfying. If it wasn’t, people would live with their parents forever.”
- “He can’t think for himself. She’s right.”
- “The kids haven’t changed, you have.”
- “You do everything everybody tells you to do.”
- “When you grow up, your heart dies.”
- “If he gets up, we’ll all get up, it’ll be anarchy!”
- “Well I don’t know any lepers either, but I’m not gonna go out and join one of their f*cking clubs.”
- “Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?”
- “Do you think I'd speak for you? I don't even know your language.”
- “You ought to spend a little more time trying to make something of yourself and a little less time trying to impress people.”
- “I hate it. I hate having to go along with everything my friends say.”
- “Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.”
- “Don’t mess with the bull or you’ll get the horns.”
- “Could you describe the ruckus, sir?”
- “Dick. Excuse me, Rich. Will milk be made available to us?”
- “We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all.”
- “Like, when I step outside myself kinda, and when I, when I look in at myself, you know? And I see me and I don't like what I see, I really don't.”
- “Well, if you say you haven't [had sex], you're a prude. If you say you have, you're a slut. It's a trap. You want to but you can't, and when you do you wish you didn't, right?”
- “You see us as you want to see us—in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain...and an athlete...and a basket case...a princess...and a criminal. Does that answer your question?”
The Breakfast Club Script
The Breakfast Club Characters
Another reason why the dialogue works so well is because the characters are fully realized. Their individualized pain is what carries the story. In The Breakfast Club, the characters are the movie.
They come to detention with preconceived notions of each other and their own identity.
Even though John may be considered the central protagonist, they all are protagonists with significant character arcs. They also exist as antagonists to one another, which is perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the script.
And in the film’s therapy session scene, each character ultimately helps the other shake the confines of their respective stereotypes:
The Breakfast Club Last Scene
The Breakfast Club Ending
Is it even possible to forget the ending scene of The Breakfast Club? Its soundtrack alone will forever remind us (Don’t worry, we won’t “forget about you,” Simple Minds).
In The Breakfast Club last scene, Claire and John kiss, as do Andrew and Allison, bringing a strange catharsis to their intense teen angst.
The scene is a must-read. Click below (or here) to read the entire scene:
The two unlikely couples leave detention together. Claire gives John her diamond earring and he puts it on, symbolizing his transformation and shattering the limitations of cliques and stereotypes. Although no one is necessarily living happily ever after, here, The Breakfast Club last scene is indeed hopeful.
Pulp Fiction Script Analysis
Want to learn from a script with a little more punch? Let’s move to one with equally incredible dialogue, but with a little—alright, a lot—more action. Pulp Fiction is next.