Five Defining Characteristics of ’80s Movie High School or College Villains


I’m specifically talking about 80’s comedies or pseudo dramas that take place in college or high school. You know, your Pretty in Pink’s of the world and your Some Kind of Wonderful’s. Most of these movies have some kind of enemy or villain that just gets under your skin.  Nowadays it’s just high comedy for me. And whether or not they have funny hair or drive a Corvette, all these guys have a defining quality that bonds them all. Put it this way, you will inevitably see at least one of these characteristics on a high school or college villain in an 80’s movie.  I’m not saying you’ll see them all in every guy, but these 5 are pretty static.

1.  The name generally stands out and stays with you

Here are some notable names:  Hardy Jennz with two “n’s,” in Some Kind of Wonderful,  Steff in Pretty in Pink, Johnny Lawrence in Karate Kid, Stan Gable in Revenge of the Nerds,  Roy Stalin in Better off Dead, Chet in Weird Science, Buddy Revell in Three O’Clock High. Put it this way, if I were to ask you the names of the villains in these movies, you’d probably know them.  In some way, these names stick out.

2.  The Social Status

In your preppy movies of the 80’s I felt that the villain was either really rich or really poor.  In Some Kind of Wonderful it was a rich vs. poor theme the entire movie.  Same goes for Pretty in Pink.  Hell even Karate Kid shows that Johnny Lawrence is a country club boy at heart.  Even Chet in Weird Science is from a wealthy family. On the flip side you have your poor villains.  In Breakfast Club, Vernon is depicted as not wealthy, Ed Rooney is a disheveled loser principal,  and Buddy Revell seems poor (I think). Either way, the social status is clearly defined.

3.  The “Uniform”

In the preppy movies, he has to wear a sports jacket with at least 2 top buttons unbuttoned and preferably shoulder pads.  In some of your other flicks, he might be a football player or bully, in which case the sleeveless shirt and jeans apply.  Also dark boots.  (Think Buddy Revell in Three O’Clock High)

Put it this way, if I asked you what the 80’s villains wore in these movies you’d probably remember.  That in itself is proof of a uniform.

Quick quiz:

What did Roy Stalin wear in Better off Dead?
What did Chet wear in Weird Science?
What did Steff wear in Pretty in Pink?

I’m guessing you guys could answer these or at least come very close.

4.  The Hairstyle

Some guys are spiky and it somehow makes them look meaner (Chet in Weird Science), whereas others are feathered.  I happen to be a fan of the feathered villain ‘doo from the pretty boy 80’s movies. And sometimes it’s a hair color.  Johnny Lawrence had that memorable blond all-American feathered hairstyle.

5.  The Supporting Cast

There are exceptions here.  Some villains are loners like Buddy Revell.  But most seem to come equipped with their own posses.  Hardy Jennz and his boys were gonna beat up Keith in Some Kind of Wonderful.  Johnny Lawrence has his Cobra Kai’s.   Even Steff had his preppy entourage  And of course Stan Gable had the Betas.  There’s usually some kind of contingent that sucks up to the villain.


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