The 22 Most Iconic Teen Movies Of The ’80s

The 1980s gave birth to the teen films, validating the angst, freedom and lives of a younger generation on the cusp of adulthood. At the helm of many of these fantastic film was writer/director John Hughes and ’80s teen queen Molly Ringwald; a partnership that could perfectly vocalized the final years of adolescence. From Pretty in Pink to The Breakfast Club here are the 22 most iconic teen movies of the ’80s.

Can't Buy Me Love
If you want to see Patrick Dempsey before he was McDreamy, then you must absolutely watch Can't Buy Me Love. Demspey stars as the nerdy Ronald, who pays a popular girl $1,000 to pretend to be his girlfriend. The movie is a great geek-to-chic flick, and was even remade in 2003 as Love Don't Cost a Thing, starring Nick Cannon. However, the real highlight of the film is a prepubescent Seth Green who stars as Ronald's annoying little brother.
Revenge of the Nerds
Every underdog has his day; at least in a perfect world that would be the case. In Revenge of the Nerds, that's exactly what goes down. This 1984 comedy chronicles a group of nerdy college kids, who strike back at a relentlessly cruel fraternity. This revenge fantasy film will keep you laughing until the very end.
Heathers is one of those epic films that was super unappreciated at the time of its release, but lives on as a pop culture obsession today. Winona Ryder's character Veronica Sawyer got revenge against some mean girls that went well beyond a burn book. It's a pretty kick ass to watch.
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Teen Wolf
If you're a fan of the MTV series, Teen Wolf then you should certainly check out the 1985 original film staring Michael J. Fox to see where it all began. This comedic film follows Scott whom after discovering that he is a werewolf, becomes the most popular guy in school. The best part about the film is seeing how far special effects have come in the past 30 years.
Fast Times At Ridgemont High
Amy Heckerling's  directorial debut, Fast Times At Ridgemont High proves that teens from the 1980's are just like millennials. From Sean Penn's hilarious performance as stoner/surfer Jeff Spicoli, to Phoebe Cates's character Linda's slow motion emergence from a swimming pool, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, proves just how quickly you have to grow up on high school. The film is also fantastic because you get to see Nicolas Cage and Forest Whitaker before they were super famous.
If there was ever a repressed decade in American history, it was the 1950's. However that doesn't stop Porky's from flipping this time period on it's head. This '80s teen sex comedy reminds us all that teenagers have been curious about sex since the beginning of time. On a quest to lose their virginity, a group of high school kids go out to a sketchy nightclub hoping to hire a prostitute for their escapades. Instead, they set off a chain of hilarious events. If you haven't seen Porky's iconic locker room scene, then you really haven't lived.
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Sometime the original is the only film that you need, as is the case the classic dance flick Footloose. It's Kevin Bacon exactly how we like him; raging against the machine. Footloose is a drama about the carefree days of youth and the willingness to do what feels right despite what others may think.
The Goonies
While The Goonies is a film that focuses on preteens, it's still a story that will make anyone nostalgic for more innocent times. The kids in this story happen upon a treasure map when they are trying to save their home from being demolished. If you ever wanted to escape from some of life's harsh realities, then The Goonies will certainly strike a cord with you. The film is also a fantastic opportunity to see Sean Astin before became a hobbit and he ventured to Middle Earth.
The Sure Thing
The Sure Thing is a teen romantic comedy that's nearly the opposite of the crass sex comedy Porky's. The 1985 film stars John Cusack and Nicollette Sheridan in the title roleand it's one of those rare teen films that looks beyond sex for something just a bit deeper.
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The Outsiders
This 1950s period drama by Francis Ford Coppola is not typical of the '80s teen flicks, but The Outsiders is still a film worth watching. The movie stars a number of accomplished actors in their more youthful days including, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise and Diane Lane among others. This gritty drama reflects on choices, circumstances and quiet rage.
Sixteen Candles
One of the most influential directors of the '80s and early '90s, John Hughes made his directorial debut with his coming of age film, Sixteen Candles. '80s dream girl Molly Ringwald is perfection as Samantha, the suburban teen who desperately wants to be noticed not just by her family, but by the guy of her dreams. Anthony Michael Hall is also epic here as The Geek, who hovers around Sam like an annoying mosquito. From the opening sequence to the closing credits where Ringwald and co-star Michael Schoeffling share a kiss on her sixteenth birthday, Sixteen Candles is 80's teen perfection.
Some Kind of Wonderful
Though Some Kind of Wonderful was written and produced by John Hughes, it was directed by someone else, which might account for why it often doesn't get the same recognition as Pretty in Pink.  The film has a ridiculously good love triangle and unlike Pretty and Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful has a perfect ending. Also if you're a One Tree Hill fan it's the perfect opportunity to see a Craig Sheffer in all of his youthful glory.
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Weird Science
If you've worn a bra on your head in your life, and thought it was one of the most hilarious things ever, then Weird Science is a film that you can definitely get in to. Though its more obscure than the rest of John Hughes' teen flicks, Weird Science definitely deserves its props. As a result of a computer error, Anthony Michael Hall's character Gary and his other nerd friends accidentally bring their dream woman to life. Obviously a lot of insane chaos ensues shortly thereafter. Also, It's one of Anthony Michael Hall's last films before he became kind of a hunk.
Risky Business
Some of the best teen movies involve epic house parties when adults are away, and Tom Cruise did just that in the film that launched his career, Risky Business. Cruise stars as Joel Goodson, a high school senior who uses his parents' vacation as an opportunity to get into all kinds of shenanigans. From dancing around in his underwear, to having insane amounts of sex with a prostitute, Risky Business is a film about the best times of your life.
The Karate Kid
Adjusting to a new environment is something nearly everyone has had to deal with at some point in their adolescence. Unfortunately, not everyone transitions so smoothly. Ralph Macchio stars in The Karate Kid as Daniel LaRusso, a high school senior who has a terrible time adjusting to his new life in Los Angeles. After facing bullies, LaRusso turns to a quiet handyman Kesuke Miyagi, to learn the art of karate. The Karate Kid a super smart film that still holds up after all of this time.
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Stand By Me
Everyone has that one summer that is ingrained in their memory, with moments that you recall so vividly, it's like they just happened yesterday. Stand By Me is a film about this particular sort of summer. Though its not strictly a teen film, it's a story about friendship and determination as the boys ban together to walk across the country side to recover a body of a lost boy. It's a fantastic film that reminds us that certain moments in life remain timeless forever.
Say Anything
If you haven't seen the iconic scene of John Cusack holding a boom box over his head in declaration of his love, then you certainly haven't lived. Cusack stars as Lloyd Dobler, a misfit who falls in love with  class valedictorian Diane, the summer after high school. Cameron Crowe's directorial debut, Say Anything is a film about first love and the confusing beginnings of adulthood. If nothing else, you will gain a strong desire to listen to Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" on repeat.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
John Hughes totally understood what it was like to be a teen during the '80s. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is an iconic piece of cinema because it encompassed everything you wished you were doing, instead of being stuck in a dull high school lecture. Matthew Broderick's charismatic Bueller had the day we all dreamt about as teens (and adults), and you can have it again and again by watching this epic teen film as many times as you want.
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Pretty in Pink
Pretty in Pink will forever been a timeless Cinderella story from the '80s. Teen queen Molly Ringwald is perfect as Andie, the hard working girl who gets asked to prom by Blain; the most popular boy in school. From the mind of John Hughes and directed by Howard Deutch, Pretty in Pink is one of those iconic teen films that set the bar for everything that came after it. Despite the highly debated ending, this is a must see film. After all, who can pass up a young James Spader?!
Dirty Dancing
If there was ever a movie that made you feel things that you never thought you could feel, it's Dirty Dancing. Set in 1963, it's a film about the loss of innocence, and choosing what's right for you despite naysayers. Oh and of course there is the late-Patrick Swayze, and those amazingly sexy dance moves. This is definitely an '80s teen flick to watch. If nothing else you'll learn that, "No one puts Baby in a corner!"
Back to the Future
This year marked the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future which is fantastic because it's still one of  the best time travel film ever made. It's one of those rare time traveling films that makes total sense from beginning to end, which is insanely rare. The plot is super cute as well, as a teenager many of us probably spent a great deal of time annoyed with our parents, but Michael J. Fox's character Marty McFly is tasking with returning to the past to make sure his parents end up together.
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The Breakfast Club
In what is still called his best work, John Hughes' The Breakfast Club epitomized high school teens in the '80s. The brilliant film is a character study of what happens when kids from different cliques are forced together. (Dawson's Creek and many other '90s teen shows would pay homage to this film with their own episodes mirroring the film's plot.) Hughes' golden girl Molly Ringwald stars with teen sensations Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, and Anthony Michael Hall. The Breakfast Club is a film that proves high school is simply a moment in time, and people are often much more than they appear to be.