Inside: Best 80s teen movies that are a must see to build character.

Ah, the 80s, a decade of neon colors, big hair, and unforgettable teen movies that continue to captivate audiences to this day. As I journey back to this nostalgic era, memories flood my mind with the infectious charm of John Hughes’ iconic characters, the delightful absurdity of high school adventures, and the heartwarming coming-of-age stories that shaped an entire generation.

Join me as I embark on a thrilling trip down memory lane, exploring the very best 80s teen movies that left an indelible mark on the world of cinema and our hearts forever.

Not to be too dramatic, but I figure a bit of drama was called for…it is the 80s, after all!

Photo of 80s VHS tapes with bright blue background

Let’s dust off our VHS tapes and hit play at a time when teen angst was at its peak, and laughter, romance, and the joy of being young was expertly captured on the silver screen. If you love these movies but are looking for something a little more spooky, check out this list of Halloween movies teens will love!

Best 80s Teen Movies To Build Character

You have probably already heard of most of these movies on this list because they are elite. This list of the best 80s teen movies will never change, so you better get to watching! These movies should be the short term goals students in film classes make!

Best 80s Teen Movies – The Breakfast Club (1985)

Directed by John Hughes, this iconic film brings together a group of high school students from different social cliques who find themselves in detention on a Saturday. As they spend the day together, they break down barriers and discover that they are not so different after all. The Breakfast Club is a heartfelt exploration of teenage angst, identity, and the power of friendship.

I cried at the end of this one.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Ferris Bueller, played by Matthew Broderick, epitomizes the carefree spirit of youth in this cult classic. The film follows Ferris as he embarks on an epic adventure, ditching school and outsmarting his principal while creating unforgettable moments. With its infectious energy and memorable quotes, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off remains an enduring favorite.

My favorite quote from this movie is the iconic line, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you just might miss it.”

Photo of 4 different 80s movie covers

Back to the Future (1985)

This beloved sci-fi adventure transcends generational boundaries and remains a staple of 80s cinema. Michael J. Fox stars as Marty McFly, a teenager who travels back in time in a DeLorean time machine invented by his eccentric friend, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). With its perfect blend of humor, action, and a nostalgic soundtrack, Back to the Future continues to captivate audiences of all ages.

I remember watching this with my brother while we ate day old Chinese food, this movie is peak entertainment.

Best 80s Teen Movies – Sixteen Candles (1984)

Written and directed by John Hughes, this coming-of-age comedy follows Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwald) as she navigates the trials and tribulations of turning sixteen while dealing with her family’s forgetfulness and an unrequited crush. Sixteen Candles encapsulates the awkwardness, romance, and humor of teenage life, making it a quintessential 80s teen movie.

Molly Ringwald truly had a chokehold on the 80s.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

This ensemble comedy-drama, based on Cameron Crowe’s book, takes a humorous and honest look at the lives of high school students in Southern California. With its memorable characters, including Sean Penn as the iconic Jeff Spicoli, Fast Times at Ridgemont High explores the joys and challenges of adolescence with a refreshing dose of realism.

This is another classic that I believe is a MUST SEE.

Say Anything… (1989)

Directed by Cameron Crowe, this romantic comedy-drama tells the story of Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) and Diane Court (Ione Skye), two contrasting personalities who fall in love during their last summer before college. Say Anything… is known for its heartfelt moments, memorable boombox serenade, and its genuine portrayal of young love.

Okay, John Cusack in this movie is just swoon-worthy.

Pretty in Pink (1986)

Molly Ringwald stars in another John Hughes classic that delves into the complexities of high school social dynamics. Pretty in Pink follows Andie, a teenager from a working-class background, as she navigates romance, friendship, and societal pressures. This film is a quintessential representation of 80s teen culture, complete with iconic fashion moments.

Again, Molly Ringwald…I told you!

Best 80s Teen Movies – Risky Business (1983)

Tom Cruise’s breakout role came in this stylish coming-of-age comedy. Risky Business follows Joel Goodsen, a high school student who turns his parents’ house into a brothel while they are away. The film explores themes of sexuality, entrepreneurship, and the consequences of risky behavior, all set against a backdrop of 80s excess and decadence.

You have to see the movie that made Tom Cruise, Tom Cruise!

Photo of girl sitting on her bed, watching her laptop

Dirty Dancing (1987)

This dance-filled romance set in the summer of 1963 became a cultural phenomenon. Starring Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, Dirty Dancing tells the story of Frances “Baby” Houseman, who falls in love with her dance instructor at a resort. The film’s memorable soundtrack and electrifying dance sequences, including the iconic lift, have made it an enduring favorite.

My mom and I used to watch this everytime I went through a breakup.

Best 80s Teen Movies – Footloose (1984)

Footloose combines dance, rebellion, and a small-town setting to create a powerful story of self-expression. Kevin Bacon stars as Ren McCormack, a city teenager who moves to a conservative town where dancing and rock music are banned. Ren challenges the status quo and inspires his peers to fight for their freedom to dance. The film’s energetic choreography and catchy soundtrack make it an instant crowd-pleaser.

I swear, if you are not dancing by the end of this movie, then you have missed the point.

Honorable Mentions

I couldn’t create this list and leave out these last 10. I am going to leave the plots for you to discover, but I can promise you that these movies will create a movie lover out of you in no time! From the Goonies to The Karate Kid…these movies made me who I am today. Oh, and my parents helped with that, too, obviously.

1. Heathers (1988)

2. The Karate Kid (1984)

3. The Goonies (1985)

4. Stand by Me (1986)

5. Can’t Buy Me Love (1987)

6. Adventures in Babysitting (1987)

7. Weird Science (1985)

8. The Princess Bride (1987)

9. Teen Wolf (1985)

10. Dead Poets Society (1989)

best 80s teen movies

Oof, I am feeling seriously nostalgic after going through the best 80s teen movies. These films were not just a collection of celluloid reels; they were a profound part of our youth, shaping our perceptions of love, friendship, and the vibrant essence of adolescence.

From heartfelt coming-of-age tales to hilarious misadventures, the 80s teen movie genre left an indelible mark on cinema history and our lives. I am not crying…you are!

So, let’s raise a neon-colored soda and celebrate the legacy of these films that continue to inspire and captivate generations, reminding us that, in the end, the true essence of being a teenager lies in embracing the joy, heartache and camaraderie that define this magical chapter of our lives. Long live the spirit of the 80s teen movie!

If you are interested, check out some more movies to watch with teens.