Most of the times the trickster is perceived as a light-hearted fool or simply a person
who likes to play pranks on others. However, this is a simplistic view of a trickster. It is thus
important to fully understand the character of the trickster in order to understand the role they
play and their value in the society. Consequently, the trickster archetype validates the idea
that the society is fluid in regards to good and evil and as such, there can be no clear
distinction between a hero and a villain. Rather, tricksters mock and question authority
through chaos and unrest while at the same time encouraging enthusiasm and impulse to find
new ideologies and experiences that seek to eradicate conformity. Ferris Bueller from the
movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, is by the above description a trickster in that he is not only a
liminal figure but he facilitates the duality between the need of the young generation to
succeed while emphasizing the idea that success does not require a strict adherence to the
Ferris Bueller, portrayed by John Hughes, depicts the realistic notion of a teenage
experience. Like most movies released at that time, the movie which was released in 1986
spoke to the young generation and it further promoted the spirit of rebellion through such
characters as Ferris Bueller. In this regard, Ferris is a trickster in that he is a prankster and a
deceiver. This is evident as he deceives his parents into thinking he is sick so as not to go to
school and also deceives his classmates into thinking he requires a kidney transplant.
Furthermore, Ferris hacks the school’s database to reduce his absences and he also convinces
his best friend to help him get his (Ferris) girlfriend to skip school (Hughes).
To Ferris, nothing is sacred, as a result, he is a situation inverter. Ferris does not care
about material things. He is indifferent about his best friend father’s Ferrari. Throughout the
movie, it is made abundantly clear that his best friend’s father cherishes this particular car
more that he loves his wife. And true to the nature of a trickster, Ferris sees it fit to use it in
getting his girlfriend from school. Furthermore, Ferris does not have any problem
impersonating people in order to get his way. This form of shape shifting also reinforces his
trickster nature. For instance, he impersonates Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago in
order to get a table at a restaurant where he and his friends did not have a reservation
Tricksters rarely use force to get what they want, rather they rely on deceit and
cleverness to achieve their end goals (Waddel 110). Ferris is a representation of the non-
violent tricksters. He does not make use of violence; rather he utilizes only his wit and charm
to get his way. Ferris’s trickster nature is facilitated by his only objective as a bored teenager
to survive through the boredoms of school while avoiding trading in his own passions and
dreams for acceptance by the society. He has complete confidence in himself and is fully
committed to rewrite the societal rules in a way that help him get what he wants without
getting anyone hurt. His sense of adventure and mischief is relatable to many who have gone
through every day routine of high school and know that a change of pace is required in life.
Through his charm, Ferris and his friends have an extremely adventurous day by
breaking all the values and rules in the society that have been deemed necessary to become a
successful and wholesome individual. Furthermore, Ferris inspires the community with his
noncompliance to societal norms to such a degree that the audience roots for his success
despite his mischievous nature. When his schoolmates and the community at large start a
petition to “save Ferris”, it can be seen as an attempt to save the spirit of individualism that
Ferris represents. Ferris represents the hidden desire in everyone; the desire to step outside of
ourselves and be a unique individual that embraces and cherishes not only their own flaws but
the flaws of others. Ferris’s trickster nature is reinforced by his diverse following as “he's very
popular. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads.
They all adore him! They think he's a righteous dude” (Hughes).
According to Hyde, a trickster is a cultural hero. Although the trickster may have selfish
tendencies and be irrational at times, he does offer lessons that facilitate the advancement of
the human civilization (Dillingham and Hyde 102). In this regard, the youth of Ferris’s period,
both in the movie and in real life, were subject to extreme materialism. Ferris, despite being a
trickster, also helps his friend Cameron by pointing out to him that all people are important
and that the best way to make people feel important is by disregarding and profaning the
In conclusion, Ferris is a true trickster who shows that anything is possible if only
people are willing not to conform. Ferris, like other tricksters such as Loki, displays
amorality, shape shifting (disguises) and mediation characteristics. As such, through such
actions, he clearly shows that success is not what the society perceives rather it is a personal
Dillingham, Thomas F., and Lewis Hyde. "Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and
Art." (1999): 101-103.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Dir. John Hughes. Perf. Matthew Broderick, Allan Ruck and Mia
Sara. 1986. DVD.
Waddell, Terrie. Mis/takes: Archetype, myth and identity in screen fiction. Routledge, 2012.