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The Brat Pack is a nickname given to a group of young actors and actresses who frequently appeared together in teen-oriented coming-of-age films in the 1980s.

The term, a play on the Rat Pack from the 1950s and 1960s, was first popularized in a 1985 New York magazine cover story, which described a group of roughly interchangeable, but already highly successful and rich teen stars.[1] The group has been characterized by the excessive partying of core members such as Rob Lowe, Robert Downey, Jr., Judd Nelson and Emilio Estevez,[2] while their films have been described as representative of "the socially apathetic, cynical, money-possessed and ideologically barren eighties generation."[3][4] The movies made frequent use of adolescent archetypes, were often set in the suburbs surrounding Chicago, and focused on white, middle-class teenage angst.[5][6]

The "Brat Pack" moniker, often considered in a pejorative sense,[7][8] was not known to be used by members of the group.[9][10]



Appearance in one, or both, of the ensemble casts of John Hughes' The Breakfast Club and Joel Schumacher's St. Elmo's Fire is often cited as a prerequisite for being a core Brat Pack member.[10][11][12] With this criterion, the most commonly cited members include Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy.[5][6][13][14][15] Conspicuously absent from most lists is Mare Winningham, the only principal member of either cast who never starred in any other films with any other cast members.[9]

The initial New York magazine article covered a group of actors much greater than the currently understood meaning of the term "Brat Pack". For example, most of the cast of The Outsiders were mentioned, including Tom Cruise, C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, and Patrick Swayze, but none of whom starred in any other 1980s movies with any "core" Brat Packers.[1] (As a matter of record, the New York article is in error. Note that Patrick Swayze did co-star with Rob Lowe in the 1986 film Youngblood.) Charlie Sheen appears in several lists - more for his family relationship to Brat Pack leader Emilio Estevez and his partying than for his collaborative film work with other members.[9] James Spader and Robert Downey, Jr. have also been considered members and appeared in several films alongside other Brat Packers, most notably together with Andrew McCarthy in Less Than Zero[3] (Downey was also in two eighties films with Anthony Michael Hall - Weird Science and Johnny Be Good, as well as The Pick-up Artist with Ringwald). Other actors who have been linked with the group include Jon Cryer, John Cusack, Kevin Bacon, Jami Gertz, Mary Stuart Masterson, Matthew Broderick, Sean Penn, and Kiefer Sutherland.[5][13] In her autobiography, Melissa Gilbert implies that she was a member of the Brat Pack. Although she was a television actress, her social life centered on Brat Pack members Estevez and Lowe (the latter of whom she was engaged to). Through frequent collaborative work, actor Harry Dean Stanton, then in his late 50s, became a mentor for the group of young actors.[2]


Beyond the two primary films, the list of movies that are considered "Brat Pack" movies is as fluid as its list of members. While Blum's article credits Taps, a 1981 sleeper starring Timothy Hutton with Cruise and Penn, as the first Brat Pack movie,[1] the list of movies below represents the more traditional filmography, with each movie including at least two core members in starring roles:

Actor →
↓ Movie
Emilio Estevez Anthony Michael Hall Rob Lowe Andrew McCarthy Demi Moore Judd Nelson Molly Ringwald Ally Sheedy Close contributors
The Outsiders
Keith "Two-Bit" Mathews Sodapop Patrick Curtis Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio
Franklin 'Skip' Burroughs IV Jonathan Ogner John Cusack
Sixteen Candles
"Farmer Ted" (credited as "the Geek") Samantha Baker John Cusack, Jami Gertz
Oxford Blues
Nick De Angelo Rona
The Breakfast Club
Andrew Clark Brian Johnson John Bender Claire Standish Allison Reynolds
St. Elmo's Fire
Kirby Keger Billy Hicks Kevin Dolenz Jules Jacoby Alec Newbury Leslie Hunter Mare Winningham
Pretty in Pink
Blane McDonnagh Andie Walsh Jon Cryer, James Spader
Blue City
Billy Turner Annie Rayford
About Last Night...
Danny Martin Debbie Sullivan
John Wisdom Karen Simmons Charlie Sheen (uncredited cameo)
Fresh Horses
Matt Larkin Jewel

Some films have been dubbed "Brat Pack movies" despite having no stars from the core membership, including 1984's Red Dawn[16] (with close contributors C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Grey, Charlie Sheen, Harry Dean Stanton, Patrick Swayze, and Lea Thompson), and 1986's Ferris Bueller's Day Off[9] (also with Grey and Sheen in supporting roles, and starring close contributor Matthew Broderick). Many would include 1985's Weird Science, starring Brat Packer Anthony Michael Hall and close contributor Robert Downey, Jr., because it was directed by John Hughes[17] and is included in a Universal Studios "Brat Pack" box set.[18] Other 1980s films, many with similar coming-of-age themes, that starred only one core Brat Pack actor with one or more close contributors include:

  • WarGames (1983) with Ally Sheedy and Matthew Broderick.
  • Bad Boys (1983) with Ally Sheedy and Sean Penn.
  • No Small Affair (1984) with Demi Moore and Jon Cryer.
  • Heaven Help Us (1985) with Andrew McCarthy and Mary Stuart Masterson.
  • One Crazy Summer (1986) with Demi Moore and John Cusack.
  • Youngblood (1986) with Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze.
  • The Pick-up Artist (1987) with Molly Ringwald and Robert Downey Jr.
  • Less Than Zero (1987) with Andrew McCarthy, Robert Downey Jr., James Spader, and Jami Gertz.
  • Mannequin (1987) with Andrew McCarthy and James Spader.
  • Johnny Be Good (1988) with Anthony Michael Hall and Robert Downey Jr.
  • Young Guns (1988) with Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen, and Kiefer Sutherland.
  • Kansas (1988) with Andrew McCarthy and Matt Dillon.
  • We're No Angels (1989) with Demi Moore and Sean Penn.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Blum, David (1985-06-10). "Hollywood's Brat Pack". New York: 40–47. 
  2. ^ a b Pulver, Andrew; Steven Paul Davies (2000-12-15). "The year of the brat". The Guardian.,,411528,00.html. Retrieved 2008-03-19. 
  3. ^ a b Manning, Jason (2000). "13. The Brat Pack". Material Things. The Eighties Club. Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
  4. ^ Bullock, Saxon (September 2004). "Don't You Forget About Me". Originally published in DVD Review.'t%20you%20forget%20about%20me.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-15. "...ended up representing both the best and worst of the ambitious, materialistic 'Me' generation." 
  5. ^ a b c Lurie, Karen (2002). "Brat Pack". St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture (Gale Group). 
  6. ^ a b Horwitz, Laura (2005). "The Brat Pack: 80's Icons". 6 Degrees Film. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  7. ^ Skow, John (1986-05-26). "Greetings to the Class of '86". Time Magazine.,9171,961446,00.html. Retrieved 2007-08-31. "...the group of kinda talented, kinda famous young actors somewhat unfairly called the Brat Pack.". 
  8. ^ Blum, David (1987-06-21). "The Brat Pack Strikes Back Why One Writer Is Weary of His Words". Los Angeles Times: p. 8. "All it is, is a condescending load of..." 
  9. ^ a b c d Pulver, Andrew; Davies, Steven Paul. "Brat Pack Confidential: The Players". Brat Pack Confidential. Retrieved 2008-03-19. 
  10. ^ a b Fine, Marshall (1993-10-24). "Remember the Brat Pack? Well, Now That They're Grown Up...". Los Angeles Times: p. 20. 
  11. ^ Pulver, Andrew; Steven Paul Davies (2000). Brat Pack: Confidential. B T Batsford. ISBN 0713486856. 
  12. ^ Eaton, Andrew (2007-01-20). For a short time they were on fire, then they vanished into obscurity. Whatever happened to the Brat Pack of the 1980s?. The Scotsman. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  13. ^ a b Currie, Jamie (2003). "The Brat Pack Site". The Brat Pack Site. Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
  14. ^ "The Brat Pack". The E! True Hollywood Story. Retrieved on 2008-03-18.
  15. ^ Earnshaw, Helen (2008-07-18). "What Happened to the Brat Pack?". Teen First. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  16. ^ Bullock, Saxon (September 2004). "Don't You Forget About Me". Originally published in DVD Review.'t%20you%20forget%20about%20me.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  17. ^ Perrotta, Tom (2008-09-26). "Brat pack blues". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  18. ^ "Brat Pack Collection (The Breakfast Club/ Sixteen Candles/ Weird Science) (1984)". Retrieved 2008-12-20. 


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