Writer and director John Hughes has made a lot of iconic and beloved teen comedies, but the genre-defining time capsule that is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off stands out as one of his comedic masterpieces. Set during the last days of senior year, Ferris (Matthew Broderick) brings his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) and girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) on a day off they and the audience will never forget.
But as with anything made decades ago, Ferris Bueller's cinematic hijinks don’t really measure up to modern standards. Retrospective analyses has driven up a debate between those who revere it as a classic and those who think it’s an overrated piece of ‘80s fluff. In lieu of this, here are 10 things from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that didn’t age well.
10 The TV Prequel
Believe it or not, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has a prequel. The show Ferris Bueller aired in 1990 on NBC and chronicled the character’s early high school days. John Hughes and the original cast had nothing to do with the series, which was canceled after one season.
The only thing worth noting is that it had a gag where Ferris (played by Charlie Schlatter) really hated being portrayed by Matthew Broderick. He vents out by taking a chainsaw to a life-size standee of the actor, showing just how superior a forgotten TV show was compared to an irreplaceable hallmark of the ‘80s.
9 Ferris’ Hacking Skills
Much to his disappointment, Ferris gets a computer for his birthday after he asked for a car. He does find some use for it, specifically when he hacks into the school’s servers to decrease his number of absences.
Not only is Ferris’ hacking obviously unethical but it’s laughably easy – as is tradition in ‘80s movies. Like WarGames before it, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off features an outdated and inaccurately quick version of hacking when in reality it’s a lot more boring yet devastating. Ferris, a teenager, obviously uses such skills to give himself a good school record.
8 The Save Ferris Movement
Thanks to miscommunication, Ferris’ supposed sickness is exaggerated and his hometown actually sets up a fundraiser for him. At first, the townspeople think Ferris just got the flu but by the end, they believe that he needs a kidney transplant.
This lie blown out of proportion could’ve been a fun subplot but it’s barely acknowledged. Minus for some visual gags and characters off-handedly mentioning it, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off never directly addresses the Save Ferris campaign, turning it into a decades-old dangling thread. One can only imagine what lies Ferris will spew to get out of the ensuing confusion.
7 Jeanie’s “Prank” Call
When Rooney barges into the Bueller’s home, Jeanie understandably freaks out and kicks the principal in the face before calling 911. Problem is, the operator who answered seemed more concerned about Ferris than Jeanie’s actual emergency.
Making matters worse is that the police brought Jeanie in for questioning, ending with her mom scolding her on the way home. Jeanie literally did nothing wrong and yet she gets unfairly punished for calling for help when she felt that her life was in danger. This happens while Ferris goofs off in the city with some company.
6 Charlie Sheen’s Cameo
When she’s brought in for making “fake” prank calls, Jeanie chats with another teenager named Garth (according to the script) in the police station, who was apparently taken in because of drugs. Garth is also portrayed by none other than Charlie Sheen.
For obvious reasons, any old joke about Charlie Sheen and drugs won’t look good in hindsight thanks to his past of uncontrollable partying, drug habit, and a very public meltdown. What he tells Jeanie later, however, arguably aged worse than the cracks about his drug charges.
5 Ferris and Cameron's Friendship
According to Cameron, he and Ferris have been friends since the fifth grave. Given Ferris’ horrible treatment of Cameron, one has to wonder how they stuck by each other for so long. Even if the two share a heartwarming moment after Cameron trashes his father’s beloved Ferrari, their partnership can only be described as subtly toxic.
Ferris consistently talks over Cameron, overriding his genuine concerns and guilting him into complying with whatever mischief he has planned. Worse, Ferris makes Cameron feel bad for being reasonable while making it seem like everything is his fault.
4 Jeanie’s Redemption Arc
Understandably fed up with Ferris’ trickery, the perpetually annoyed Jeanie tries to bust her brother and expose his lies. But when push comes to shove, she sides with him and saves the day. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off portrays this as her redemption… even if Jeanie has nothing to apologize for.
Jeanie’s frustrations are depicted as a mix of envy and insecurities because according to Charlie Sheen, she would rather lash out on Ferris instead of trying to fix herself. Not only is this bad reasoning on Charlie’s part, but it’s a condescending way of brushing off her anger.
3 Rooney’s Mistreatment
Being a teen movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off appropriately casts Principal Rooney as an antagonistic nuisance who gets in the way of the characters’ fun. The problem is that when he’s compared to other villainous school authorities, Rooney didn’t deserve what befell him.
Because Rooney justifiably threatened disciplinary action on Ferris for repeatedly skipping school, he’s humiliated and injured throughout the movie. Even the extreme actions he does (i.e. breaking and entering into the Bueller residence) during the second act only happen thanks to his ill-timed investigation and bad luck, not malevolence.
2 The Day Off’s End
At the end of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Ferris drops some words of wisdom about how quickly life can pass you by. On its own, this reflective moment is touching and nostalgic but it feels unearned after everything that happened.
Earlier, Ferris was enjoying his day off (i.e. skipping school for the 9th time) while being insensitive and self-absorbed. The fact that everything goes his way and he avoids punishment only makes matters more aggravating. It’s not that Ferris should’ve been arrested or worse (after all, he’s just a teenager), but he should’ve been at least knocked down a peg.
1 Ferris Bueller
Ferris Bueller may very well be one of (if not) the most famous and influential teenager to ever grace the big screen thanks to his quick thinking, sense of fun, and cool rebellious attitude. He’s also the worst part of his own movie.
While his antics and fourth-wall breaks may be fun, Ferris is an insufferably smug and inconsiderate kid who lies and manipulates to get what he wants. Sure, this shouldn’t be too surprising since he is a teenager but like any adult looking back at their adolescent shenanigans, watching Ferris today only induces cringing and regrets.