The plot follows five students at fictional Shermer High School in the widely used John Hughes setting of Shermer, Illinois as they report for Saturday detention on March 24, 1984. While not complete strangers, the five teenagers are all from a different clique or social group: John Bender (Judd Nelson) "The Criminal"; Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald) "The Princess"; Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall) "The Brain"; Andy Clark (Emilio Estévez) "The Athlete"; and Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy) "The Basket Case".
At the start of detention the students are given an assignment by the principal, Mr. Vernon. They are each asked to write a 1000 word essay detailing "who you think you are". Starting out the day the students are mostly silent, as the day progresses they gradually open up to each other and pass the hours in a variety of ways: they dance, harass each other, harass the principal, Mr. Vernon, tell personal stories, argue, draw, smoke marijuana, and put on makeup. Their deep conversations reveal their inner secrets (for example, that Allison is a compulsive liar and Brian and Claire are ashamed of their virginity). They also discover something that they all have in common - strained relationships with their parents and are all afraid of making the same mistakes as the adults around them. However, despite these developing friendships, the students are afraid that back in school on Monday, they will return to their very different cliques and never speak to each other again.
At the request and consensus of the students, Brian is asked to write the essay Mr. Vernon assigned which challenges Mr. Vernon and his preconceived judgments about all of them. Brian does so, but instead of writing about the actual topic he writes a very motivating letter that is, in essence, the main point of the story. He signs the essay as "The Breakfast Club" and leaves it on the table for Mr. Vernon to read when they leave.
It is commonly believed that there are two "versions" of the letter, because the voice over is different between the beginning of the movie and the end. However, this is not the case. It's just the voice over at the beginning of the movie leaves out the ending of the letter, and the ending voice over simply skips over the middle of the letter to get to the point. Over all it's still the same one letter. The beginning of the letter acknowledges that each student also saw themselves as they know the vice principal sees them, and this is refered to as being "brainwashed". The end of the letter informs Mr. Vernon that the students have now realized, over the course of spending this day together, that they each have something of the others in them. Their attitudes and perspectives have changed and are now completely different.
The movie ends as the characters leave detention.
Contribute to the wiki
This text does not match the ending essay.
Where I’ve marked [ERROR], you have included the following which is NOT present – “What we did was wrong.” This is not there – you can view the film, and with 2 minutes and 45 seconds remaining – see where you have added this non existent phrase.
“Dear Mr. Vernon:
We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong, [ERROR] but we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms and 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? Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.
The line of “What we did was wrong” is from the essay at the BEGINNING of the film… however not at the ending essay.
Sincerely yours, the correction man….