The Breakfast Club Ending Explained



The Breakfast Club has a much more profound, ambiguous, and thought-provoking ending than the average teen comedy, with storylines left unresolved and questions left unanswered. Released in 1985 to critical acclaim and box office success, The Breakfast Club revolves around a group of high school misfits in Saturday detention under the watchful eye of their totalitarian vice principal. One of John Hughes’ most iconic high school movies, The Breakfast Club marked the peak of the “Brat Pack” era, with such stars as Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, and Anthony Michael Hall giving some of the best performances of their career.

Decades after its release, The Breakfast Club remains a celebrated classic and a staple of popular culture. With some of the most memorable quotes, characters, and cinematic moments of its decade, it’s a cornerstone of the ‘80s movie aesthetic. The Breakfast Club was also chosen for preservation in the National Film Registry alongside the greatest American movies ever made. Its unforgettable final scene leaves a lot of crucial questions unanswered, though. Most coming-of-age movies reveal the fate of their characters, but The Breakfast Club subverts expectations of the genre by leaving its players’ fates uncertain.

RELATED: 17 Best Quotes From The Breakfast Club

Why Claire Gives Bender One Of Her Earrings

Bender and Claire embrace at the end of The Breakfast Club

At the end of The Breakfast Club, when Claire kisses Bender and bids him farewell, she gives him one of her diamond earrings. It’s not immediately clear why she’s only giving him one and not both, or why she’s giving him an earring at all. Claire gives John one of her earrings as a symbolic gesture to say she can meet him halfway. By pursuing a relationship with each other, enemies-turned-lovers Claire and Bender are both stepping out of their comfort zones. The olive branch of the earring proposes that they meet in the middle, and Bender accepts.

Why The Characters Refer To Themselves As “The Breakfast Club”

The kids leave detention at the end of The Breakfast Club

Brian’s essay to Mr. Vernon ends with the iconic sign-off, “Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club,” the last line in the movie. This nickname isn’t explicitly explained in the movie, but there was a real-world reason for John Hughes’s use of this moniker. He originally titled his script Detention, a wholly unexciting name for a movie, before he overheard a friend’s teenage son refer to Saturday morning detention as “the breakfast club.” After learning this phrase, Hughes changed the title of his movie and its final line to reflect it (via the American Film Institute). The rest is film history.

What’s The Punchline To Bender’s Joke?

Judd Nelson smiles in The Breakfast Club

When Bender, the most quotable Breakfast Club character, is crawling through the air ducts, he starts telling a joke, but he falls through the vent before getting to the punchline. The setup goes like this: “A naked blonde walks into a bar with a poodle under one arm and a two-foot salami under the other…the bartender says, ‘So, I don’t suppose you’d be needing a drink?’ The naked lady says…” The joke is never finished and the punchline is never revealed. There’s been plenty of speculation online about what it could be, but the seemingly dirty joke was ad-libbed by Bender actor Judd Nelson and no punchline ever actually existed.

Why Allison’s Ending Is So Controversial

Ally Sheedy looking off-screen in The Breakfast Club

Every character in The Breakfast Club gets a resolution to their story arc, but one person’s ending has garnered controversy over the years. Claire abandons her goody-two-shoes persona; Andrew stops being defined by what his dad wants; Brian writes the essay that closes out the movie. Almost ruining The Breakfast Club, Allison’s ending is by far the most rushed and unbefitting of her character. Claire gives her a makeover, which suddenly attracts romantic interest from Andrew. This plot turn sends the wrong message. By giving the artsy “basket case” a makeover and a boyfriend, The Breakfast Club tells audiences they have to be conventionally physically attractive to have any value.

RELATED: The Breakfast Club’s Most Important Scene Was Completely Ad-Libbed

Why Bender Pumps His Fist In The Air

Bender in the final shot of The Breakfast Club

In the final moments of The Breakfast Club, Bender walks across the football field and pumps his fist in the air. This gesture is a symbolic celebration of his growth as a person. Of all the characters in The Breakfast Club, Bender is the one who is most profoundly changed by making friends with kids outside his social circle and escaping his stereotype. He pumps his fist in the air, one of the most memorable pop culture references originating in The Breakfast Club, to show that he’s realized he doesn’t have to be defined by his father’s abuse; he’s embraced kindness and opened his heart to his new friends.

What “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” Means

The kids in the hallway in The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club ends with one of the most memorable soundtrack needle-drops of all time. As the kids leave Saturday detention as totally changed people, Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” kicks in on the soundtrack. John Hughes uses this song to close the movie because its lyrics tie into the five characters’ motivations. The Simple Minds song at the end of the movie refers to the characters hoping to remain friends instead of habitually returning to their pre-established high school social structures. As they’ve opened up to each other, they’ve felt more seen and heard than ever before; now, they want to be remembered.

What Happens On Monday?

The kids sit in detention in The Breakfast Club

In one of the best teen movie endings, The Breakfast Club is deliberately ambiguous about what could happen to its main characters when they return to school on Monday. After their soul-searching Saturday, their next steps could go either way. They could ignore each other and resume their comfortable positions in the established social order, or they could start hanging out together on a regular basis, upending that hierarchy. The real answer is probably somewhere in the middle. They might have remained separate during school hours to keep up appearances, then gotten themselves sent to Saturday detention every week so that they could have that time together again.

What Was The Premise Of The Unmade Sequel?

The kids sit in the library in The Breakfast Club

While a sequel to The Breakfast Club was never produced, John Hughes did have an idea to explore the same existential themes in a different stage of the characters’ lives. Anthony Michael Hall explained, “[Hughes] did mention the potential of doing a sequel to The Breakfast Club. It would have been all of us in our middle age. His idea was to pick up with them in their 20s or 30s” (via MovieWeb). Since Hughes died in 2009, it’s unlikely The Breakfast Club 2 will ever get made. After the success of Top Gun: Maverick proved ‘80s nostalgia is stronger than ever, though, a Breakfast Club sequel isn’t an impossibility.

RELATED: 10 Best Times A Movie Character Said The Title Of The Movie

The Real Meaning Of The Breakfast Club’s Ending

Vernon reads the essay in The Breakfast Club

Thematically, The Breakfast Club is about American teenagers’ struggle with identity in a world where parents and educators like to box kids in with presumptuous labels. Brian’s essay reflects the group’s bonding and their realization that they’re not as different as they thought. No one falls into a stereotypical category like “a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.” Human beings are more complex and three-dimensional than that, but people have a tendency to underestimate other people’s depth. Brian’s essay outlines why the characters of The Breakfast Club refuse to allow Mr. Vernon to generalize them based on those labels.

MORE: 10 Best Movies Like The Breakfast Club


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  • Denis Ava

    Denis Ava is mainly a business blogger who writes for Biz Grows. Rather than business blogs he loves to write and explore his talents in other niches such as fashion, technology, travelling, finance, etc.

Denis Ava
Denis Ava
Denis Ava is mainly a business blogger who writes for Biz Grows. Rather than business blogs he loves to write and explore his talents in other niches such as fashion, technology, travelling, finance, etc.

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