Workplace Lessons Learned from “The Breakfast Club”

“We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.” – Andrew Clark, The Breakfast Club

On February 15, 1985, a movie about a group of misfit teens in detention debuted. Many critics still consider it one of the greatest films of all time. The film explored our tendency to judge others based on appearances and who we think they are, as opposed to getting to know them.

You probably recognize that film as The Breakfast Club. But did you know the coming-of-age flick has plenty of lessons that apply to your adult working life? Here’s what the characters of The Breakfast Club can teach us about the workplace.

Brian Johnson, The Brain—Portrayed by Anthony Michael Hall

The Brain prioritizes doing their job well above everything else. They’re a bit of a loner, and don’t talk much. They don’t participate in social activities outside of work. It’s almost like they think they’re too smart to hang out with their co-workers.

But that’s not true at all. They hold themselves to an incredibly high standard, and apply that same standard to everyone else. Once you get to know them you’ll be able to work together and create some truly awesome projects.

Andrew Clark, The Athlete—Portrayed by Emilio Estevez

The Athlete is incredibly social. He’s the sort to pat you on the back with a “hey man” and ask you about your kids and parents. He might miss deadlines or turn projects in late, but never gets in hot water with the bosses because he’s such a cool guy. This can be infuriating when you’re trying to get things done, and nobody seems to care.

The Athlete’s social abilities are their main strength, but that doesn’t mean they want to miss those deadlines. They aren’t the most organized. You need to inform them of how their behavior affects you and they’ll take care of it right away.

Allison Reynolds, The Basket Case—Portrayed by Ally Sheedy

There’s usually at least one co-worker that isn’t very popular. They wear all black, wear the same t-shirt every day, or do some other counter-cultural thing that just makes them a Basket Case.

Their work might be solid. They might be a good employee. But they’re just SO WEIRD. It’s hard to get over the fact they collect frogs or eat bean dip with every meal. Even breakfast.

Yes, they’re a bit different. But who are we to decide what weird is? They’re a person, just like you. Those unique interests don’t affect how they do their job, so why care? Let them do their thing.

Claire Standish, The Princess—Portrayed by Molly Ringwald

The Princess (or Prince) is perfect. She color coordinates her folders, gets up extra early to do her hair and makeup, and never misses a deadline. She’s been promoted quickly more than once, and seems to have her life together.

It’s easy for co-workers to be jealous of her, or to think she looks down on everyone else for not achieving the same level of perfection. She’s intimidating.

But guess what. Nobody is perfect. Princesses face trouble in their life like everyone else. They just don’t let anybody know about it. Once you really talk to her you’ll realize how similar you both really are.

John Bender, The Criminal—Portrayed by Judd Nelson

Why hasn’t this guy been fired yet? He doesn’t meet deadlines, never comes up with project ideas, and hardly ever shows up to work. When he does show up he spends most of his time making fun of co-workers or stealing pens.

Okay. This one is harder to apply to the working world. If you don’t do your job and harass people you’ll probably be fired. But we can stretch it a bit by saying if you have issues with a co-worker, talk to your manager. It might be possible to sit down with the Criminal to figure out just what their problem is.

Let’s wrap things up with that famous closing narration, because there’s more to all of us than meets the eye:

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? Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.”


  1. Jerra

    I am LOVING all these articles. They are HELPFUL..but open and DIRECTIONAL!
    I can share them with a variety of people and it relates to many levels in the workplace.
    Thank you.

    1. Post

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