The Breakfast Club Wiki
John Bender


John Bender




Student at Shermer High School


The Criminal


Mr. Bender (Father)
Mrs. Bender (Mother)

Significant Other:

Claire Standish


Allison Reynolds, Brian Johnson, Claire Standish, Andrew Clark

Reason for detention:

Pulling a false fire alarm, and showing disrespect/impertinence to the Vice Principal

Responsible for causing his detention:

Mr. Bender and Mrs. Bender

Portrayed by:

Judd Nelson

John Bender is one of the main characters in The Breakfast Club, serving as the anti-hero. Initially, he shows no respect towards anyone; especially the teachers and the school property. But by the end of the film he begins to accept the idea of kindness, and starts showing it towards the others; in particular, Claire. He loved claire in the film but at the start hated her.

Initially, Bender takes great pleasure in making the others uncomfortable, such as ridiculing Andrew for wrestling, using Brian as a target for bullying, and sexually harassing Claire on multiple occasions. Though he always retaliates if provoked, he is neither rude or unkind to the quiet Allison because of how distant and detached she was from the others. On the contrary, he only shows obnoxious reactions towards her disturbing, awkward, and quirky behavior. Bender has the most rivalry with Andrew and Claire, as they come from complete opposites of the "high-school spectrum."

Most of his interactions (both positive and negative) happened with Claire. He drives her to tears repeatedly. At the start, Bender seems to inadvertently show her some kindness, by asking her who she would prefer to live with if her parents divorced, but is interrupted when Allison shouts "HA!" Due to Allison's exclamation, he is somewhat startled out of his thoughts, and becomes more cutting—thus showing that he is not as cruel or sarcastic as one might initially think.

In the beginning, Claire, in particular, has the shortest patience towards Bender. She is often cutting in her judgments of him and loses her temper with him several times. However, she shows sympathy towards him after Mr. Vernon "awards" Bender seven more weeks' detention. This doesn't stop Bender from taunting her though. When she shows the group her trick of applying lipstick from her cleavage, she makes them swear not to laugh, and they don't. They are all impressed, but Bender insults her, which prompts defensive insults from the others and Claire to cry again.

When allowing each other to rifle through their things, Bender uses one of Claire's cosmetic brushes as a toothbrush and plays with her perfume.

As she flicks through what is implied to be several pictures of girls, Claire asks Bender if he believes in "one guy, one girl." He states that he does not. When asked why he doesn't, he immediately becomes defensive, as he does not want to answer.

Though Bender conflicts with Claire the most, he eventually becomes closest to her, and at the end of the film, the couple shares a kiss, and Claire even goes as far as to give Bender one of her diamond earrings.

After Claire, Bender definitely buts heads the most with Andrew. Shortly after meeting in detention, Andrew snaps at Bender and belittles him for having no goals.

Bender clearly hates his father as much as Andrew does his and becomes very upset when Andrew assumes that Bender's reenactment of his home life—which involves his father abusing him—is all an act. Determined to prove that he's not lying about the abusive nature of his home life, Bender rolls up his sleeve to reveal a cigar burn that was left there by his father as punishment for spilling paint in the garage. Bender then knocks books to the floor and gruffly climbs up the outside of the freestanding staircase, ape-style. Andrew appears to show remorse after this, but not so much as to admit his mistake; for when Claire calls him out for it "You shouldn't have said that.", Andrew shrugs it off while snarkily replying "Well, how was I supposed to know?"

After listening to what Andrew did in order to merit his detention, Bender proclaims that he thinks his father and Andrew's father should get together and go bowling. This is Bender's way of saying that Andrew and he aren't so different after all.

Not a huge amount is known about Bender, aside from his abusive home life and his dislike of authority. When Vernon separates him from the group and is yelling at him in the closet, he shrinks in on himself, taking up less space and avoiding eye contact; this suggests that he fears older men or men that resemble his abusive father. When Vernon leaves, he looks like he's quite relieved and on the verge of tears.

Bender shows little to no interest in pursuing any extracurriculars activities and doesn't apply himself in school. He "could care less about trigonometry" but takes shop, and it's implied that he is quite good at it. He is quite athletic in many aspects and demonstrates this by not only easily climbing the stairs in the library but also easily scoring a basket when playing around in the gym.

When Allison states that "when you grow up your heart dies," Bender responds rudely by saying, "who cares?" But he seems slightly upset about it and this insinuates that he doesn't appear to care about his future but he may actually care deeply.

Physical Appearance[]

Bender has dark and handsome features, such as being a 5 foot 9 ½ inch (176.5 in cm), Jewish-American teenager with a mid-legnth, feathered-hairstyle that is dark-brown with a bluish-silver streak on his right bang; He also has an olive skin complexion, and brown eyes that would sometimes be worn with aviator sunglasses; and other accessories such as ear-piercings on each ear. In terms of bodily appearance, he is portrayed by a then-25-year-old Judd Nelson.

Bender's dress code is much different from the other students due to coming from a sub-cultured background, as he wears multiple layers and ragged clothing. His outfit consists of a long trench-coat with a few pins on the collar and a blue denim-jacket under it that he would wear for warmth; a white sweater as a great warm base to his arms and torso as well as hiding his scars from his abusive household; a red-plaided flannel button-up with lapels, as another layer which he has cut off both sleeves to give his style more personality; Bender also pairs his many top layers with a simple bottom one, preferring an unmatched pair of dark grey, wide-legged, regular-fit pants with wallet chains dangling from the pockets; as well as biker/punker-like attire such as black fingerless gloves with one pin on the right glove, and black motorcycle boots with a red paisley bandanna tied around his right ankle; a red scarf that he would tie around either his neck or his head; completed with a switchblade.


“'Young man, have you finished your paper?'” (mockingly impersonating Vernon)

“You're right. It's wrong to destroy literature. It's such fun to read. And [examines title] Moe-Lay really pumps my nads.”

“You won't accept a guy's tongue in your mouth, and you're going to eat that?”

“Sue me.”

“Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.”

“Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?”

“You know how you said before, how your parents use you to get back at each other? Wouldn't I be outstanding in that capacity?”

“I'm being honest, asshole. I would expect you to know the difference.”


“So you just stick to the things you know. Shopping, nail polish, your father's BMW & your poor, rich drunk mother in Caribbean!”

“God! You're so pathetic. Don't you ever, ever compare yourself to me, okay! You got everything, and I got shit. Fucking' Repunzel, right? School would probably, fucken' shut down if you didn't show up. Queenie, isn't here? I like those earrings, Claire. Are those real diamonds Claire? I bet they are. Did you work for the money for those earrings? Or did your daddy buy those for you? I'll bet he bought those for you. I bet those were a Christmas gift. Right? You know what I got for Christmas? Oh, it was a better fucking year at the old Bender family. I got a carton of cigarettes. The old man grabbed me and said, "Hey, smoke up Johnny." All right? So go home and cry to your Daddy. Don't cry here, okay?"

“Uh, Dick? Excuse me; Rich. Will milk be made available to us?”

“Well, Brian, this is a very nutritious lunch. All the food groups are represented. Did your mom marry Mr. Rogers?”

“You're an idiot anyway! But if you say that you get along with your parents, then you're a liar too.”


Trivia and allusions[]

  • John Bender drops the f-bomb (fuck) the most times out of any other character in the movie. Namely, out of the 26 f-bombs in the movie, 12 of them (about 47%) came from Bender's mouth.
  • Bender is the only student to not cry a single time in the film.
    • However, he does replace crying with verbal abuse towards others.
  • John Bender can be compared to the following characters:
    • Flash Thompson from the Marvel and MCU works:
      • Both come from an abusive household, where he (either of the two compared characters) has an alcoholic father who physically abuses him, leading to his own aggressive behavior:
        • Unlike Flash, however, we get more insight of Bender's abusive background, including a cigarette burn scar the latter received, as punishment for spilling paint in the garage; we only hear a little bit about Flash's abusive household.
        • Unlike Flash, Bender's life is eventually spilled out to the group [and the audience]; Flash's life remains largely unknown to the other characters, and the audience.
          • It is also easier to pity Bender, than to pity Flash.
      • Both exhibit bullying, especially towards those who represent everything they cannot have--Bender ravages Claire and Brian, who supposedly "have everything" [money, a wealthy background, and loving parents]; Flash mercilessly tortures Peter Parker, who seems to "have everything". All in all, both exhibit bullying:
        • Unlike Flash, Bender drastically improves, atoning for his damage, and shedding his bully personality, when he finds love in an unlikely place; Flash just remains a bully, and continues torturing Parker, despite the latter saving his life.
          • Flash also shows little to no redeemable qualities, unlike Bender, who demonstrated the latter.
          • Also, Bender does not exhibit as much bullying as Flash does.
        • Flash and Bender also are shown with different styles of bullying:
    • Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) from The Karate Kid saga:
      • Both exhibit bullying and aggression towards the protagonist(s), but atone for their behavior at the end.
        • However, Johnny atones vocally and outright, while Bender atones implicitly.
        • Another difference is the style(s) of bullying: Bender is shown doing more emotional and verbal harm, while Johnny is mostly shown physically harming his victim(s).
      • Both live with an abusive father, leading to his own aggressive nature:
        • Bender lived with an alcoholic father who physically abused him, leading to the former having a mean and aggressive nature.
        • Johnny lived with an abusive step-father, who heckled and bullied him daily, leading to the former becoming a bully.
          • This makes a difference, as Bender was mostly physically abused (while also being emotionally/verbally abused), while Johnny was only shown being emotionally/verbally abused.
          • Another difference is that it was Bender's biological father, while it was Johnny's step-father.
          • Another difference is that based on his clothing, Bender comes from a less-fortunate background; Johnny lived with a rich step-father.
    • Nelson Muntz from The Simpsons (1989-present):
      • Both come from a broken and dysfunctional home, leading to their own aggression and bullying nature:
        • Bender comes from a broken household, where his father is an alcoholic, who physically abuses him, including a cigarette burn, as a punishment for spilling paint in the garage.
        • Nelson story has inconsistent events:
          • Nelson lives in a dilapidated house, with a negligent mother, who works as a waitress at Hooters or a topless bar.
          • Nelson's father abandoned the family multiple times, but for a long time, after the latter suffered a near-death allergic reaction and did not return.
          • Nelson's parents divorced.
      • Both exhibit bullying, but at some point, atone for it:
        • Bender, at the end of the film, drastically and permanently atones for his damage to the other four, especially to Claire.
        • After being adopted by the Simpsons, Nelson's father and mother return to pick him up, and atone for the past. Upon returning, Nelson is relieved, and he promises to respect Bart.
          • However, the atonement is seemingly permanent for Bender, whereas the atonement was only temporary for Nelson.
      • Both have a similar appearance and outfit.
    • Bart Simpson from The Simpsons:
      • Both exhibit "bad-boy"/punk behavior, and enjoy the discomfort of others.
        • However, Bender seemingly shed this behavior, when he found love from the group; Bart seems to continue this behavior.
      • Both have said, "eat my shorts".
      • Both have a disrespect towards authority.
    • Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) from the Back to the Future trilogy (1985-1990):
      • Both are owned by Universal Studios and have exhibited bullying towards someone who seems "nerdy":
        • Bender was mean to Brian, as the latter seemed to have everything the former did not/can never have.
        • Biff mercilessly bullied George McFly (Crispin Glover) all the way through childhood and into middle age.
          • However, Bender atoned, stopping this and making friends with Brian; At least in the original timeline, Biff continued bullying George.
      • Both have exhibited sexual misconduct/abuse towards a female figure:
        • On many occasions, Bender has been shown sexually harassing Claire, such as the interrogation, the dirty jokes, and what he did to her under the table.
        • Biff sexually abused Lorraine Baines (Lea Thompson) at least 2 times in the trilogy, most notably sexually abusing Lorraine in the car she was in.
          • A difference is that even though it is less frequent, Biff's sexual abuse is more serious, whereas Bender's did not reach the point that Biff's did.
          • Another difference is that Bender stopped, and atoned.
      • Both were portrayed by actors who were born in 1959:
        • Judd Nelson, Bender's actor, was born on November 28th, 1959, making him 25, during the film's release.
        • Thomas F. Wilson, Biff's actor, was born on April 15th, 1959, making him 26, during the release of Back to the Future (1985).
      • Henry Bowers from the It franchise (2017-2019):
        • Both come from an abusive household, where he (either of the two compared characters) has an alcoholic father who physically abuses him, leading to his own aggressive behavior:
          • Henry was physically abused by his father Oscar "Butch" Bowers, a mentally unstable cop (Marine in the original books), who due to the stress and trauma of the job, turns to alcoholism, which unfortunately makes him drunk and as a result, physically abusive towards Henry. This is what makes Henry bully other kids, especially the "losers' club".
            • Butch Bowers is racist, mentally insane, psychotic, and abusive, so Henry is mimicking his father's behavior.
          • Bender lived with an alcoholic father who physically abused him (including a cigarette burn for spilling paint in the garage), leading to the former having a mean and aggressive nature.
        • Both exhibit bullying, especially towards those who represent everything they cannot have:
          • Bender exhibits bullying especially towards Claire and Brian; the aforementioned two represent everything Bender cannot have, as the latter comes from a broken and abusive home.
          • Henry lashes out at the "losers' club", as they possibly represent everything he (Henry) cannot have.
            • However, unlike Henry, Bender atones for his behavior; Henry remains a bully.
            • Another difference is that Bender never went as far as Henry, in terms of bullying; Henry actually got to the point of murdering others.
              • Even though Bender threatened to kill Andrew with a switchblade, the former stabs it into a chair (and Allison steals it just seconds after), instead of using it.
      • Lynn Jr from The Loud House:
        • Both wear red clothing, are aggressive and constantly bully someone who is associated with Orange (Lincoln Loud and Claire Standish).
        • We later learn that both of their bullyings come from themselves being bullied. Lynn at middle school and Bender with his alcoholic father.
          • However, unlike Bender who gradually tones down his bullying throughout the film, Lynn continues to bully her siblings (especially Lincoln). Also, Bender does verbal bullying while Lynn roughhouses Lincoln.
  • Psychology/psychiatry fact: Psychoanalytically, John Bender is an accurate example of the most popularly believed cause of bullying and/or aggressive behavior--Someone is only being a bully, to cover up his/her own vulnerabilities. Bender is also exhibiting what is called projection--a psychological defense mechanism, where one takes unwanted emotions, and displaces/takes it out on others--Bender is displacing his aggression from being abused onto the other teens.
  • When Bender mockingly called Claire "Rapunzel", that was an allusion to a popular fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, about a beautiful princess with long and golden hair--Therefore, "Rapunzel" is here being used as a derogatory term for someone who is overly popular and/or beautiful.
  • He got eight detentions
  • Judd Nelson was 25 years old when he played the character, making him the oldest of the five kids.