The Girls of the Brat Pack: Becoming Overnight Brats

Spoilers

In the 1980s, a group of young actors gained popularity through a collection of coming-of-age movies that became classics.

These movies have aged like fine wine, immortalizing the group forever as teen idols despite the passing of decades.

Who are these infamous actors, and why do we love them so?

Fans call them the Brat Pack, a group of eight — five males and three females.

While the world adored the Brats, the group hated the association with the name and each other.

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Who Is the Brat Pack?

These days, fans consider the Brat Pack to be a group of popular ’80s actors who appeared in most of the movies made at the time.

The men in the group include Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Judd Nelson, Andrew McCarthy, and Anthony Michael Hall.

And rounding out the group are powerhouse female leads Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, and Demi Moore.

The Breakfast Club Floor Scene

But that wasn’t always the case.

Originally, the Brat Pack name went to a group of eight male actors who one reporter labeled as good-time party boys after a night on the town with three actors: Lowe, Estevez, and Nelson.

The Female Brat Trio

While fans see the Brat Pack as a kickass group of teen icons that captured the woes of teenagedom, the members themselves were not as thrilled with the association.

Not only did the term brat have different nuances at the time, but by lumping the actors into a group, it seemed like they were a tight-knit group of friends.

Backstage at 2005 MTV Movie Awards

Movie promos and magazines always had them looking chummy with each other.

In reality, they barely knew each other, working together only a few times—if at all. Some of the members were young enough to still be in school, while others were old enough to party.

Related: Rob Lowe: Brat Pack to Backpacks

Becoming associated with the Brat Pack might seem like great advertising to launch the group’s careers.

But it did the opposite for several of the pack — especially the females.

Molly Ringwald

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Molly Ringwald appeared as the lead female in several ’80s films that fans still consider classics, including Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Breakfast Club, and For Keeps.

These John Hughes films featured other Pack members, such as Anthony Michael Hall, Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson, and fellow Bratette Ally Sheedy.

Ringwald was only 16 when her name landed among the party-going Brats, and the association did not help her career.

She and Anthony Michael Hall were the two youngest actors in the group.

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They did not party like the older members, so she struggled with being connected to a group known for its risque behaviors.

Given that she and Anthony Michael Hall were of similar age and did several movies together, it’s no surprise that they became an ’80s power couple for a short time.

Related: Top TV Couples from the 1980s

She recently appeared on a podcast, WTF with Marc Maron, ahead of Andrew McCarthy’s Brats documentary’s release.

She revealed that, like many others, she was also taken advantage of as a young actor.

After getting typecast as the teen heartthrob girl next door, Molly struggled to find jobs where she would appear as anything else.

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Ringwald received so much attention as America’s sweetheart that she left the country to move to France after her last film, For Keeps, in 1988.

While away, she had a successful career as a French jazz singer, which gave her a start as a French literature translator and novelist.

We didn’t see her back on screen until 1996, when she did a brief stint in a TV series, Townies.

She returned big time when she scored a recurring role in The Secret Life of an American Teenager from 2008 to 2013.

Molly Ringwald Image

More recently, she had a long-term role on Riverdale, the modern remake of the classic comic book from 2017 to 2023, and Feud: Capote vs The Swans in 2024.

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Ally Sheedy

Ally is best known for her role as the oddball, all-in-black weirdo in Breakfast Club, who made us non-popular people feel less strange.

She also starred in another Brat Pack film, St. Elmo’s Fire, which landed her as the second female on the pack list.

Allison Slurps an Erupting Coke

Much like Ringwald, Sheedy did not like having a negative association with a group that had a reputation — unjustly — as entitled and wild.

Because she ended up connected with the Brats, she struggled with her acting career after the Brat Pack movies.

She had a few roles in movies by female filmmakers over the years, preferring to work with women filmmakers.

But she turned down bigger roles like Short Circuit 2 because they didn’t want to pay her a higher salary.

As her fame started to fade, Hollywood tried getting Sheedy to change so she could compete with other leading actresses.

Annie Rayford Confronts Billy Turner

Throughout her early career, she dealt with addiction, depression, and an eating disorder. She published a poetry book in 1991 recounting her struggles and recovery.

Fellow Bratlette Demi Moore helped Sheedy get into rehab.

Related: The Brat Pack: Dissension in the Ranks

After struggling to find acting jobs, she landed her dream role with High Art in 1998, which earned her an Independent Spirit Award.

She’s done multiple independent films over the years before declaring that she was done acting in 2018.

Ally Sheedy Pic

Demi Moore

Demi Moore might have been most successful after getting linked with the Brats. Her association was dual entry.

She started in several roles before appearing in the 1985 Brat Pack film St. Elmo’s Fire. Before that, she was a regular on General Hospital for two years.

Demi’s engagement to head Brat, Emilio Estevez is the second reason for her Brat pack association.

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They never married.

But she did marry Freddy Moore, Bruce Willis, and Ashton Kutcher.

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Demi also struggled with addiction, once getting kicked off the set of St. Elmo’s for being high. Through tough love, Moore was able to recover and continue acting.

Her career took off, leading her to greatness four decades strong and still going.

Along with appearing in the Brats documentary, Demi will be starring with fellow Bratlette Molly Ringwald in Feud.

Demi Moore Pic

As with the other Brats, Demi didn’t approve of the name or its implications.

In a recent interview with Good Morning America, she stated that the nickname insulted them as professionals, as it had nothing to do with their careers.

It was just a good headline.

Brat-Adjacent Female Actors

While the fan-based Brat Pack only had three females, a few other actresses could have rightfully been included based on the premise of being in a Brat Pack movie.

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Mare Winningham appeared in St. Elmo’s Fire with Demi Moore, Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, and Andrew McCarthy.

She’s been in over 100 roles, starting her career a good decade sooner than the rest of the Brat Pack. Despite being in St. Elmo’s, she stayed as a brat adjacent actor.

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Andie MacDowell was also in St. Elmo’s Fire. She felt awkward during filming because she was an outsider among an ensemble of actors who had worked together before.

She was also doing romantic scenes with Estevez while he was engaged to Demi, who was on site while they were filming.

Despite those connections, MacDowell never made it to Brat Pack status. But she’s been in many things, with her trademark curls and dimples.

Andie MacDowell attends L.A. Dance Project Annual Gala

Lea Thompson is a third Brat adjacent who never ascended to belonging to the pack. She certainly saw similar success from her work on the series Some Kind of Wonderful.

She was in several prominent ’80s movies, like the Back to the Future franchise and Red Dawn — the original, not the remake with Chris Hemsworth and Josh Peck.

The Brat Pack Label – Legend or Curse?

If you were to ask fans what they thought of the brat pack, you’d likely hear a lot of love, respect, and appreciation for their part in changing movies for young people.

But if you asked any of the group — especially the ladies — it was a burden.

We get it. It must suck to be labeled, judged, and treated a certain way without cause or reason.

The Brat Pack at the Oscars

Most of us still can’t figure out how the three women — Demi, Molly, and Ally — became part of a group that never actually existed.

All we can say is that we’re glad they did! This is one ’80s lady who will never forget the impact that group of unassociated celebs had on my childhood and subsequent adulthood.

Related: Why Has Gen Z Produced So Few Prominent TV Stars?

How about you? What is your favorite Brat Pack movie featuring one of our three stunning lady loves?

Do you think it’s fair that they ended up labeled as part of a group of actors that originally stood for spoilt, self-indulgent good-timers?

Drop your thoughts in the comments and pass this piece on to your Brat Pack and ’80s-loving friends!

Sara Trimble is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow her on X.

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