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Things You Forgot Happened In Ferris Bueller's Day Off

In 1986, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, written and directed by beloved filmmaker John Hughes, became the tenth highest-grossing film at the domestic box office. In the 20-plus years since its release, it's become a cultural touchstone and has more than cemented itself in the pop culture catalog. The Washington Post called it "an almost perfectly executed comedy: energetic, well-paced, and tinged with the suspense generated by our assumption that at some point, Ferris will get caught."

Except, he never gets caught. If you aren't familiar with the story, the film follows its titular character, Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), as he skips school for the day in favor of activities like visiting the Art Institute of Chicago, attending a Chicago Cubs game and even participating in the Von Steuben Day parade. He convinces his girl friend, Sloane (Mia Sara), and his best friend, Cameron (Alan Ruck), to come along, but the three must avoid the school principal, Mr. Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), and Ferris' sister, Jeanie (Jennifer Grey), both of whom are trying to catch them.

Needless to say, Ferris and company pack a whole lot into a single day, and the film contains a ton of iconic moments, from Ferris' lip-sync performance to the fate of the the 1961 Ferrari 250GT California. And with so much happening, there could be a couple of details about this '80s comedy you might not remember. Here's a breakdown of all the things you forgot happened in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Ferris' plan is more extensive than it seems

In order to make sure he doesn't get caught (by either his parents or the school administration), Ferris goes out of his way to make sure his fellow classmates also think he's sick. This is done primarily by talking to students over the phone and using sound effects — of sneezing, coughing, etc. — to initiate word of mouth.

However, in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, it's hinted that Ferris' plan actually started the night before. In one of his classes, a teacher is taking roll and (famously) repeats "Bueller" to no response. Another student interjects, informing the teacher that Ferris is sick. She continues, "My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy, who knows this kid, who's going with a girl that saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night."

The story has such a convoluted source that it's difficult to focus on the point at first, but it suggests that Ferris made a point of being seen fainting in public in front of classmates who would talk about it. Anyone who's seen the movie and knows Ferris can definitely picture him pretending to pass out in front of the ice cream display case. It's a brief, passing line, but it's telling to both the character of Ferris and the humor of the film.

Ferris doesn't buy Cameron's sickness

We first see the character of Cameron, Ferris' best friend, under a mountain of blankets, talking to Ferris on speakerphone because he's seemingly too sick to pick up the phone. When Ferris asks how he's feeling, Cameron replies, "Shredded."

Cameron turns down Ferris' request to join him on his day off, insisting his sickness is too intense. Ferris, in return, continuously disputes this, claiming it's all in Cameron's head. Ferris then says, "You're not dying, you just can't think of anything good to do." After hanging up, Cameron — in one of the, arguably, funniest moments in the film — spends several minutes trying to decide whether or not to join Ferris, going from his car and then back to his house, repeatedly.

Of course, Cameron does join Ferris for the day and doesn't mention his sickness again, nor does he ever act too weak to be engaging in all of the activities of the day. He does, occasionally, attempt to reject Ferris' ideas, but that's because he's worried about potential consequences, not his own health. Cameron's behavior does actually beg the question of whether Ferris was onto something when he insisted Cameron wasn't actually sick (whereas, initially, it may have come across as if Ferris only needed Cameron to come along because he's the one with the car). This makes more sense when Ferris explains to the audience how affected Cameron is by his tumultuous family life. Ferris declares, "He's the only guy I know who feels better when he's sick."

Mr. Rooney demands to see the dead body of Sloane's grandmother

Mr. Rooney is suspicious of Ferris from the get-go, mostly because Ferris has been "sick" nine times in a semester. So, when he gets a call from Sloane's "father," claiming that Sloane's grandmother has died, he's immediately skeptical. Certain that Ferris is pretending to be the father, Rooney demands to see the dead body of Sloane's grandmother. "You just produce a corpse, and I'll release Sloane."

Except, Ferris has prepared for this, and it's not actually him on the phone — it's Cameron. Ferris then calls in as himself to prove he's not pretending to be the dad. Needless to say, Mr. Rooney is immediately freaked out after his secretary informs him that the real Ferris is on line two. Mortified over what he's just said to who he thinks is the father of a student, Mr. Rooney likely would've done anything her "dad" asked, including Cameron's initial demand of having Sloane wait in front of the school by herself.

Ferris immediately reacts to this demand by hitting Cameron and telling him that sounds too suspicious. Cameron overcompensates by saying he wants Mr. Rooney out front with Sloane, prompting another punch from Ferris as that makes it too difficult for them to get away with their plan. But Mr. Rooney is still so distraught that he likely doesn't think of either plan as suspicious or not. 

Mr. Rooney thinks Sloane makes out with her 'father'

After borrowing the Ferrari that belongs to Cameron's dad, Ferris and Cameron show up at the school to pick up Sloane, parking a safe enough distance from the entrance to hopefully get away with it. Cameron hides in the backseat, while Ferris — disguised as Sloane's dad with a trench coat, sunglasses, and a hat — stands by the car to greet Sloane and Mr. Rooney.

Mr. Rooney watches from the steps by the school entrance as Sloane approaches her "father" at the car. Ferris asks her, "Do you have a kiss for daddy?" and then the two proceed to make out while Mr. Rooney watches. Mr. Rooney is visibly taken aback and grossed out, then saying, "So, that's how it is in their family."

It's a hilarious yet cringeworthy moment, and it's somewhat surprising that Mr. Rooney takes it as face value instead of suspecting Ferris' involvement again. Well, that is until he sees Sloane yell out in happiness as the car screeches away, and Mr. Rooney, finally catching on, returns to his plan to catch Ferris.

Ferris proposes marriage to Sloane, and he's serious

Ferris is obviously a major jokester who gets as much fun out of every situation that he possibly can. Which is why, while the trio is above the trading floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, Sloane thinks Ferris must be kidding when he asks her to marry him. Not even blinking an eye, she responds, "Sure."

Then, Ferris continues, "Today? I'm serious." At this, Sloane perks up and begins to take him more at his word, saying that there's no way she's getting married. Ferris says that besides their being too young and having no place to live, that there's no good reason not to. This conversation gets set aside when Cameron brings things back around to his bad family life and, specifically, his parents' estranged marriage. With so much going on — and Cameron's problems being especially sympathetic — it's easy to move past Ferris' proposal. At this point, you aren't even sure if he was being serious or taking his bit too far.

But the marriage thing comes back around. Later, Ferris laments to the viewer that he doesn't know how he's going to deal with Sloane having another year of high school while he goes off to college. Then he insists, "I was serious when I said I would marry her." And because Ferris is talking directly to the audience and not to Sloane, it becomes more clear that he isn't just joking. Sloane comes around to the idea, too, as the last line she has in the film is, "He's gonna marry me."

Ferris is almost caught by his father three times

Ferris planned to keep his parents in the dark. In fact, he set up a fake body in his bed, equipped with snoring sound effects, in case one of them came home to check on him. But he doesn't think about running into his father (Lyman Ward) around the city — which happens on three separate occasions. 

First, Ferris and his friends decide to dine at a swanky restaurant, not knowing Ferris' dad made the same decision. In the bathroom, his father is in a stall while Ferris is washing his hands, and the two barely miss each other. Then, they have to sneak past him to get to a taxi, which turns out to be fairly easy, as his father is distracted talking to a business associates.

Second, they later end up stopped at a light right next to a car his father is in. Just as the three of them look over in horror, so does Ferris' father. But his dad doesn't immediately catch on, giving Ferris and Cameron time to bend down and hide, leaving Sloane in sunglasses as seemingly the only person in the back of the cab. Although why Ferris' father doesn't recognize his son's girlfriend is another question.

And finally, with minutes to get back to his house, Ferris is sprinting home when he ends up running right alongside his dad's car. Similarly, his dad glances at him but looks away, and Ferris manages to get out of sight before his dad looks over again. Ferris may be cunning, but these three instances prove that Ferris' dad being oblivious is the main reason his son keeps getting away with these close calls.

Mr. Rooney's erratic behavior gets extreme

Mr. Rooney is determined to catch Ferris, so much so that he abandons his principal job for the day to track him down. In the process, his behavior becomes pretty outrageous. In one instance, he looks for Ferris at a pizza parlor, and when he spots someone who resembles the wayward student at an arcade game, he says, "Your a** is mine." When the person turns around, it's actually woman with short hair ... who Mr. Rooney has just accidentally harassed. She retaliates by shooting soda through a straw at him.

Mr. Rooney then resorts to looking for Ferris at his house. There, he discovers the recorded message Ferris has set up to play anytime someone rings the doorbell. But he then decides to sneak around to the side of the house to peer in, and it's here that his erratic behavior really increases. After peeking through the windows and falling into the mud, he discovers a doggy door and pokes his head inside. In fact, he totally plans on crawling through, but that's when he spots the family dog, who's not happy to see the intruder. 

The canine chases Mr. Rooney around the perimeter of the house, and the principal yells and runs for his life. And yet, this still doesn't deter him from trying to sneak in the house.

Jeanie kicks Mr. Rooney in the face — three times

Jeanie comes home after school, irritated at Ferris and looking to confront him about his little charade. After discovering the fake body in his bed, she tries to contact their mother to rat on him. But then, she hears someone enter the house and assumes it's her brother. Except, it's actually Mr. Rooney, who snuck inside after Jeanie left the door unlocked. 

Both thinking that the other is Ferris, they almost simultaneously jump out from behind separate corners to ambush the notorious jokester, only to get quite the surprise. But, Jeanie, not recognizing the school principal — presumably from shock — screams and immediately begins defending herself. She does so by kicking Mr. Rooney right in the face, not once, not twice, but three times. That's some impressive Bruce Lee stuff right there. 

Jeanie then runs off while Mr. Rooney falls to the ground. Hiding in her room, she then calls the cops on him, but for some unknown reason, they don't believe her and accuse her of making a phony call. Still, Jeanie's description of Mr. Rooney is spot on, ending with "certainly weird."

Someone sends Ferris a stripper

Ferris has so thoroughly convinced his classmates that he's sick that they actually think he's on the verge of dying, like in need of a kidney transplant and barely holding on. So when his parents finally arrive home, the audience gets a clear shot of the house's entryway, which is now filled with flowers and whatnot, all sent to Ferris. However, someone evidently decided to send this high school student a much more, uh, adult gift.

Before the parents get home, Jeanie is the only one in the house (after Mr. Rooney leaves and has to chase down his car, which is being towed). Someone rings the bell and Jeanie, thinking it's the cops she called on the home-invading principal, rushes to open the door. But it turns out not to be the police. Instead, it's a woman in a revealing nurse costume, trailed by men carrying balloons and flowers. The "nurse" begins singing: "I heard that you were feeling ill / Headache, fever and a chill / I came to help restore your pluck/ 'cause I'm the nurse who likes to —"

And Jeanie slams the door in their faces before she finishes, but the audience can definitely finish her sentence.

Cameron pranks Ferris

After Ferris discovers that the parking attendants they left the Ferrari with took it for a joyride — and subsequently added a ton of miles to Cameron's father's precious car — Cameron just about has a breakdown. After a hefty scream, he then goes silent and blank-faced for multiple scenes. And while Ferris and Sloane lounge in a jacuzzi, Cameron sits in a chair on the edge of a diving board, still with that blank stare on his face. Then, suddenly, Cameron plunges himself forward, somersaulting into the pool.

Ferris freaks out and jumps in after him. After pulling him out, Ferris, clearly scared, hits Cameron's face and yells at him to wake up. But then, Cameron begins to smile, and Ferris' face turns from concern to confusion.

Cameron, taking his own turn at the jokes, has pranked Ferris. He then hilariously says, "Ferris Bueller, you're my hero." Ferris admits it was impressive and then pushes him into the pool in jest. After seeing Cameron protest much of the day's activities and acting as the group's voice of reason, it's refreshing, as an audience member, to witness a moment of Cameron not only letting loose but giving Ferris a taste of his own medicine.

Cameron just meant to dent his father's car

After getting his father's car back to the garage, Cameron announces that the miles aren't coming off with Ferris' plan to lock the car in place and then put it in reverse. Ferris expects Cameron to freak out again, but Cameron says to "forget it" and then launches into a speech about how he has to "take a stand" against his father, who he says is constantly pushing him around. Getting increasingly angry, Cameron begins to kick the car, with the full intention of denting it. Cameron explains, "I can't stand him, and I hate this g*d*** car!" as he continues to kick it with more and more force.

However, the car is still risen on a stand and set in reverse from Ferris' plan. And with each of Cameron's kicks, it becomes closer and closer to being knocked off the stand. At the end of his act of anger, Cameron talks about accepting that he'll just have to confront his dad. And as he says, "I can't wait to see the look on the b******'s face," he leans his foot gently on the car ... and the Ferrari is knocked off the stand and goes flying backward. It crashes through the glass window and falls off the ledge, into the trees surrounding the garage. Ferris may get away with his plan, but Cameron certainly isn't getting out of this one.