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Beavis and Butt-head

Beavis and Butt-head, as seen on the show's opening sequence.
Genre Animated television series
Running time 18-20 minutes
Creator(s) Mike Judge
Starring Mike Judge
Tracy Grandstaff
Adam Welsh
Country of origin USA
Original network/channel MTV
Original run March 4, 1993 - November 28, 1997
No. of episodes 199 (65 shows)
IMDb profile

Beavis and Butt-head is an American animated television series that originally aired on the cable television channel MTV from 1993 to 1997, and can now be seen in re-runs on MTV2.

Each show contains short cartoons centering on a pair of post-pubescent teenagers by the names of Beavis and Butt-head who live and go to school in the fictional town of Highland, California (as stated in the film Beavis and Butt-head Do America). These cartoons are broken up by short breaks in which Beavis and Butt-head watch music videos and poke fun at them.

Contents

Origins

The Beavis and Butt-head characters were created by Mike Judge. Judge has said that he imagined Beavis and Butt-head as slacker students at the real-life Highland High School on Coal Avenue in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he lived. Specifically, he first created Butt-head as his idea of the archetypal slacker high school student, incorporating the look, name, and voice of a friend who invited anyone to kick him in the rear-end, calling himself "Iron-butt."

When attempting to conceive the look for a companion to Butt-head, it is rumoured that Judge combined the look of a nerdy classmate he knew from high school and his own bad artistic rendering of Barry Manilow. He named him "Beavis," and modeled the voice after his own interpretation of what a typical "frybrained teenager" would sound like, incorporating the raspy laugh of the aforementioned classmate.

It is a popular myth at the University of California, San Diego (where Judge attended college) that the appearances of Beavis and Butt-head were modeled on faculty at its Department of Physics. Their real-life models are said to be David Kleinfeld and James Branson.

The characters

Beavis and Butt-head are high school freshmen whose lifestyles revolve around TV, nachos, Fruity Whips, shopping malls, heavy metal music, and trying to "score with chicks". Beavis wears a blue Metallica T-shirt (in some earlier episodes, a Slayer T-shirt), while Butt-head wears a gray AC/DC T-shirt (on some merchandising items these were changed to shirts saying "Skull" and "Death Rock" due to trademark and licensing legalities). Both Beavis and Butt-head constantly snicker.

Their full names are never mentioned on the show. However it was suggested, in the feature-length film Beavis and Butt-head Do America, that Butt-head's name is actually "Butt Head". When one of the elderly female characters asks him his last name, he tells her it's "Head", adding "My first name's Butt". In an episode of the TV show, he mentions having a cousin named Richard Head (aka "Dick Head"), a play off of the term 'Dick Head.' In the episode 'Pregnant Pause' during a musical segment, Butt-head says he has an Uncle Mike. In another episode, he forges his mom's signature on a permission slip as "Mrs. Butt-head."

Picture Name Description
Beavis Has an underbite and a fixated stare on his face which almost never looks straight but to the side. Beavis grunts when he laughs and his voice is reminiscent of horror film characters played by actor Peter Lorre. The more slapstick and excitable of the two leads; he is oblivious of the obvious, has a well documented pyromania obsession, and a more passive demeanor that contrasts with Butt-head's more dominant personality. Though the designated "dumber" of the two, he has a tendency to be witty and, ironically, when discussing various subjects that neither of them understand, it's Beavis who is more likely to guess the truer mechanisms at work. Beavis also has an alter-ego named Cornholio which usually surfaces after consuming large quantities of caffeine or sugar.
Butt-head Wears dental braces and has squinted eyes. His top gums are often exposed and he speaks nasally with a deep voice and a slight lisp, repeatedly punctuating his speech with "uhh.". Calmer, cockier, and marginally more intelligent than Beavis, Butt-head is oblivious of subtleties, but is usually 100% confident in everything he says and does - no matter how ridiculous or inane it is. The designated "leader" of the duo, he also derives pleasure from being regularly abusive to Beavis.
Image:BB-TomAnderson.jpg Tom Anderson The near-sighted, elderly neighbour of Beavis and Butt-head. Most often, he hires them to do odd jobs, which results in them destroying his yard, home, or personal belongings. Due to his poor eyesight and mild senility, he never recognizes the two when they return for more chaos. He served in World War II and in the Korean War as part of the Navy. This character would be re-tooled as the basis for Hank Hill in Judge's next show, King of the Hill.
Image:BB-VanDriessen.jpg David Van Driessen A teacher at Highland High School, and arguably the only person who cares about Beavis and Butt-head. Van Driessen is a hippie with a forgiving nature and gentle demeanour. His attempts to teach Beavis and Butt-head useful life lessons typically ends in disaster, as they almost always deduce the wrong message. He has been shown teaching classes on Biology, Art, Animation, Economics, Health, History, Literature, etc.
Image:BB-Buzzcut.jpg Bradley Buzzcut Another of the duo's high school teachers, and the antithesis of Van Driessen. Loud-mouthed, angry and volatile; Buzzcut is a former Marine and, with the possible exception of Principal McVicker, hates the duo more than any other character. He is often charged with administering discipline. Like Mr. Van Driessen, he teaches a number of classes, including P.E., Health, and Math.
Image:BB-PrincipalMcVicker.jpg Principal McVicker Principal of Highland High and, arguably, Beavis and Butt-head's biggest enemy. The two have unintentionally ruined his life, and have driven him so far to the edge of sanity that he has a drawer of stress medication, drinks while at school, and occasionally wets his pants. He often stutters, stammers and shakes, and regularly schemes with Buzzcut to come up with ways to either humiliate and/or eradicate the pair from their lives. Many episodes begin with Beavis and Butt-head in his office. They refer to him as "McDicker." He is possibly deceased, due to a heart attack during the final episode.
Image:Beavis Butthead Daria.jpg Daria Morgendorffer Daria is a sarcastic, vaguely alt-rockerish, nerdy girl who attends Highland High with Beavis and Butt-head. She is one of the few people who sees the two for what they truly are and doesn't naively believe that they just need to be reached, nor does she get frustrated by their idiocy. While not above taking jabs at them for their lack of intelligence, she also offers help and advice from time to time, and probably respects them a little more than most do. The duo nicknamed her "Diarrhea." She eventually went on to star in her own spin-off series, Daria, though in style and content had almost no similarities to the Beavis and Butt-head series.
Image:BB-Todd.jpg Todd Ianuzzi Todd is a twenty-something thug who is rude, arrogant, and violent. Because of this, Beavis and Butt-head look up to him and aspire to be included in his gang. Todd despises the two, but will take advantage of them when he needs something: such as money, or a place to hide from other gangs or the police. Todd's face is covered with acne and he always wears mirrored sunglasses. He drives a primer patched green hotrod, often onto lawns, through garbage cans and over Beavis and Butt-head's bikes. He wears a mechanic's shirt with the sleeves torn off and his name on it. His blond hair is cut in a mullet hairstyle.
Image:BB-Stewart.jpg Stewart Stevenson A nerdy, short kid who looks up to Beavis and Butt-head and thinks they are his best friends. In actuality, Beavis and Butt-head think little of Stewart, are only willing to hang out with him on their own terms, and don't usually appreciate it when he imposes himself on them. Stewart wears a shirt with the logo for Winger on the front. May be the inspiration for Clark Peters or Andy Maynard on King of the Hill.
Image:BB-Stevensen.jpg Mr. Stevenson Father of Stewart. He hates Beavis and Butt-head, but occasionally becomes side-stepped by exasperating situations that subsequently render him more tolerant of them for the moment. His love of pornography provides Beavis and Butt-head with most of their access to naked women while they pillage through the Stevenson home. Mr. Stevenson was, at one point, shown as a teacher at Highland High, but later was no longer depicted in this position.

Minor characters

  • Mrs. Stevenson. Stewart's mother and good-natured housewife, who is depicted as something of an airhead. She believes that Beavis and Butt-head are good friends with her son but is oblivious to their antics and cheerfully welcomes them in the door. The duo pay her little respect or attention except in regard to her large breasts. In the season 2 episode Stewart's House, she had a Southern accent, but for the rest of the series she possesses a thick Midwestern accent.
  • Lolita and Tanqueray. Two trailer-trash vamps. They usually exploited their sexuality in order to manipulate the duo out of their money, concert tickets, or some other thing that they wanted. They almost made out with Beavis and Butt-head on the set of a youth talk show because "they were feelin' horny" but ended up making out with stagehands instead (to Beavis' dismay) when the duo were momentarily distracted. It is also implied that the two once appeared in a sexually explicit video of some sort.
  • Clark Cobb. Cobb is the owner of Cobb's Family Hardware and a card-carrying member of the Christian Businessmen's Association. He has a sock puppet named Socko, which he uses to try to teach evangelical lessons.
  • Burger World Manager. The duo refer to him as "that manager dude." He shows more patience with the two than some of the other characters, but he often gets tired of their incompetence and goofing off on the job. The fact that he hasn't fired them yet either points out that he holds sympathy for the boys' stupidity, or that he is as incompetent as they are.
  • Maxi Mart Owner. This working stiff wears a "butt cut" hairstyle, has an ornery nature, and is one of the local business owners habitually annoyed by Beavis and Butt-head. The duo often loiter in his convenience store, Maxi Mart, while trying to pick up chicks. He occasionally gets back at them by selling Butt-head old, stale, bug-infested nachos in one episode, and by selling both Beavis and Butt-head used forks and stale donuts in another.
  • Mr. Manners/Mr. Candy. Mr. Manners was an educational speaker who initially came to Highland High to teach the kids proper manners; he later returns as Mr. Candy, promoting a candy-bar-selling drive for the school. During his instructional sessions, he instantly clashes with Beavis and Butt-head. Beavis dislikes him immediately and exacts revenge by accusing the man of sexually molesting him. When he fights back, he winds up getting into confrontations with Mr. Van Driessen and Mr. Buzzcut. This character was voiced by actor David Spade.
  • PATSIES. The group P.A.T. (Positive Acting Teens) consists of goody-goody honor-student caricatures, who also interact positively with Stewart. The two most prominent members are "good versions" of Beavis and Butt-head.
  • Janitor/crazy farmer. The janitor of Highland High is shown in different contexts. At times, he is simply a janitor. Other times, he is portrayed as a slow-witted, bluish grey skinned farmer who is dangerously senile. In the episode "Cow Tipping", he attempts to decapitate Beavis with a chainsaw. The Janitor and the Farmer may be the same person, or may simply be related. There is likely no explanation for the unusual nature of the Farmer, and is most likely meant to provide a creepy effect. The janitor was also once shown as the janitor for the local mall.
  • Gina. Todd's girlfriend appears several times. She works in a beauty salon and has a heavily hairsprayed 80's metalhead appearance. On a few occasions she was depicted as an upperclassman at Highland High.
  • Kimberly. A pretty girl who is often the object of unwanted physical attention from Beavis and Butt-head. She refused to practice CPR on them during Buzzcut's swimming class. The duo filed an unsuccessful sexual harassment suit against her for turning them on (or giving them "stiffies").
  • Cassandra. Like Kimberly and Daria, a female classmate of Beavis and Butt-head. She wears glasses, Dr. Martens boots, and a shapeless blue dress. She usually has no direct interaction with Beavis and Butt-head, appearing mainly as the show's other parody (besides Mr. Van Driessen) of hippie or New Age thought.
  • Billy Bob. Billy Bob was an earlier recurring character who stopped appearing in the later seasons. Depicted as an obese redneck, Billy Bob does not wear clothes for some reason, and is often shown in only a cowboy hat and briefs. He often smokes a cigar. He is not to be confused with Bob, a heavyset cowboy who owns Bob's Fancy Skeet.
  • Mrs. Dickie. One of the few female teachers at Highland, and occasional customer at Burger World. Like everyone else, she too is annoyed by Beavis and Butt-head.
  • President Bill Clinton. President Clinton appeared in a two-part episode, as well as the movie. Both times, he met Beavis and Butt-head and befriended them.
  • Redneck woman. This woman has never been named, but appeared a number of times, most notably in an episode where Beavis and Butt-head dial a phone-sex hotline. She is a stereotypical "Yo Mama" woman usually depicted in a messy trailer with a husband who silently watches TV in the background. She is sometimes seen driving the bus to the high school as well. Her husband is a skinny middle aged man in his underwear with a gut, a cap, sunglasses and a cigarette who appears to be a prototype for Dale Gribble from King of the Hill.
  • Earl. A fellow student, he has buzzcut hair, a tough angular face, and a black shirt buttoned tightly at the collar. He often sits in the front row of class, usually looking at pictures of nude women in a men's magazine, and prefers to remain silent. Earl was a central character in an episode that involved him trying to kill Beavis and Butt-head. In the end, he was punished by Mr. Van Driessen, who confiscated his pistol, which made him cry.
  • Spanish Teacher. Highland High's Spanish teacher is a middle-aged Hispanic man who hates Beavis and Butt-head, much like the other teachers. He had a number of early appearances, but has since faded into the background.
  • Bill. An old man who owns the bar that Tom Anderson frequents. Both of them were in the military. Although he never meets Beavis and Butt-head face to face, he once unwittingly contributed to their antics. When Bill asked Anderson to watch the bar for a few hours, Anderson put Beavis and Butt-head in charge of a yard sale he was holding at the time. While he was gone, the two sold everything inside his house for almost a hundred dollars.
  • Collette. Tom Anderson's poodle. She appeared in a few episodes, but the most well known was when the duo attempt to give her a bath by putting her in a clothes dryer. The duo broke all of her teeth when they made her fetch a plate.
  • Thor. Appeared a few times in some of the earliest episodes. His physical stature represented that of a gorilla, and he was often summoned to deal with Beavis and Butt-head if they were being disruptive at a place of business. This involved him grabbing the duo by their ankles and repeatedly slamming them onto the ground.
  • Doctor. Highland's unnamed town doctor appears several times, a testament to the number of times Beavis & Butt-head have injured themselves with their antics. Like several other characters, he has been portrayed differently a few times. In one of his earlier appearances, he was shown as a shadowy, demented individual who gave Beavis unnecessary rabies medication. All of his subsequent appearances, however, he has been portrayed as a normal doctor.
  • Vinnie and Frankie. Slicker drawn parallel versions of Beavis and Butt-head that, occasionally, show up on television or in educational film strips that the two are watching. While Vinnie and Frankie are depicted as being every bit as reckless as Beavis and Butt-head, they come off as older and less silly. They are also, reportedly, Judge's early sketches of Beavis and Butt-head themselves.
  • Attorney Joe Adler. Joe Adler is a sleazy Highland lawyer specializing in frivolous lawsuits and personal injury cases. Beavis and Butt-head hired him in one episode to sue their classmate Kimberly for sexually "harassing" them. In another episode, the boys (influenced by an Adler TV ad) staged an accident with a school bus in order to "get rich" by claiming a whiplash injury. The name Joe Adler may be influenced by the name of an actual trial lawyer in Texas, named Jim Adler.

Memorable one-offs

  • Killer. An unnamed serial killer who once escaped from the local prison. He has a jailhouse tattoo of the word "killer" on his forehead, which Beavis and Butt-head misread and assume is his name, "Kyler". After being diverted from killing the two by having a confusing conversation about tattoos, he gives them tattoos on their butts, of a picture of a butt with a picture of a butt on it.
  • Rabid Ron. A local radio host for a station called KTSA whose show was ruined after Beavis and Butt-head won a guest DJ spot and gained popularity with his audience by tactlessly ridiculing Ron on air for being a 40'ish Heavy Metal poser. He would subsequently retool his on-air persona as an imitation of the two youths.
  • Madame Blavatsky. Madame Blavatsky was a fortune teller who spoke in a faux-Romanian accent. She attempted to tell Butt-head's future once, only to have Beavis seize her crystal ball and give predictions of a war, which turned out to be the reflection of a news broadcast from the TV behind him. Her character is based on a real person of Russian origin, Elena Blavatsky.
  • Gus Baker. A parody of Rush Limbaugh, Baker mistakenly believed Beavis & Butt-head to be positive young role models and brought them on his talk show to discuss "immoral music videos." Beavis and Butt-head enjoyed Baker's television program, particularly his advocacy of the death penalty for criminals, with Beavis exclaiming "Give 'em the chair! The chair!" Baker's show, along with his Grassroots Presidential campaign, was ruined when Beavis shouted "Peek-a-boo!!!" and mooned him on live TV.

Beavis's pyromania

Beavis has a fascination with fire which was kept under wraps for censor reasons. The show was blamed for child deaths as the result of fire and dangerous stunts, particularly the incident in Ohio in 1993 in which a five year old boy set fire to his parents' house, killing his two year old sister. The houseowners blamed the show (despite not having a cable TV subscription).

The writers tried to subtly reference this censorship by having Beavis either say words sounding like 'fire' or stopping just before he would say the actual word. Beavis, in his job at Burger World, would say "Fryer Fryer!", not "fire, fire". In another episode, where the duo were accused of stealing money from the cash register at their job, Beavis starts saying the nursery rhyme "Liar, Liar, pants on..." He stops abruptly and says "Whoa!" while his eyes flare wide open and he follows the gesture with a chuckle. He also screamed "Water! Water!" during a video segment. Another memorable video segment had Butt-head comment that they should take the batteries out of the smoke detector, to which Beavis says "Yeah, but what if there's a....um, never mind."

Butt-head and his gums

Butt-head seems to not be aware of his gums showing. He even denied it, but his claim was commented upon by Beavis during the Beavis and Butt-head Thanksgiving Special with Kurt Loder (which can be seen on the third DVD of the DVD Box Set Beavis and Butt-head: The Mike Judge Collection.) A balloon of Beavis and Butt-head sitting on their infamous couch began the discussion. Butt-head commented on the balloon saying, "Huh? Wait a minute, that doesn't look like me. It's like it has my gums all showing and stuff. I don't look like that!" Beavis counters with, "Heh heh, yes you do, Butt-head, heh heh. Your gums are always showing, heh heh, you look like a horse." Butt-head took offense to this and blurted out "Shut up, Beavis, my gums don't show, see?", and covered his gums with his lips, finishing with "This is what I look like." This somehow manages to trick Beavis into believing Butt-head.

Recurring themes

The series has a number of recurring elements.

They cause havoc at their place of employment, Burger World. Beavis and Butt-head spend little time working, and when they try to work, they are often too incompetent to even take a customer's order. They often enjoy frying things other than food such as earthworms, dead mice, and their own fingers. The boys have also unintentionally had brief stints as secretaries and telemarketers.

They cause trouble at school. They are usually pitted against their teachers and other school officials. Principal McVicker, whom they occasionally refer to as "McDicker", is visibly agitated by the duo's antics. At the end of the final episode, Beavis and Butt-head's antics exasperate McVicker to the point where he suffers a heart attack.

One of their most prominent goals in life is to "score" with chicks. Throughout the series neither of them meets with any success. They occasionally spend Friday nights at the local Maxi-Mart, attempting to flirt with any female they encounter. This continues until the manager runs them off.

Beavis often transforms into his alter ego, the Great Cornholio. Beavis's transformation into Cornholio is indicated by pulling the back of his t-shirt over the top of his head, holding both arms up, pacing back and forth, proclaiming largely nonsensical utterances in an exaggerated Spanish-sounding accent, such as "I am the great cornholio! I need TP for my bunghole! Are you threatening me?" This transformation is prompted when Beavis rapidly consumes a large amount of sugar, caffeine, or other stimulants. In one episode, the duo wanders into a bohemian coffeehouse, where an open-mic poetry slam is in session. Beavis takes a turn at the mic after ingesting a large amount of cappuccino, and the audience hails his antics as performance art. In another episode he transforms into Cornholio while at Burger World, as an INS official visits for a surprise inspection, searching for illegal aliens. Beavis' pseudo-Hispanic ramblings prompt the INS officer into thinking he is from México, and Beavis is deported. Beavis also assumes the Great Cornholio persona for the climactic scenes of Beavis and Butt-head Do America. In a scene archetypical of the Great Cornholio's manic genius, he finds himself alone in the White House, confronting a portrait of Richard Nixon in his famous 2-armed "V for Victory" pose. His response epitomises a first impression of President Nixon, boldly, respectfully, and with high alertness for how President Nixon might respond.

Locations

There are several prime locations featured in the series. All these locations are located within the fictional town of Highland, which is alluded to be located somewhere in Texas.

  • Living room. Located at Butt-head's house, much of the action, and all of the video segments, take place or begin here, with the two sitting on the couch, watching TV.
  • Highland High School. Probably the most visited location in the series. Based on a real Highland High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • Burger World. The fast food restaurant where Beavis and Butt-head assume grill and drive-through/front register duties. It is regularly damaged or completely demolished by the duo. Aside from the manager, it seems that Beavis and Butt-head are the only employees.
  • Tom Anderson's house. Anderson's house is continually vandalized and destroyed by Beavis and Butt-head. It is a typical middle class suburban home.
  • Maxi-Mart. An obvious parody of 7-Eleven and similar outlets. In contradiction to the continuity of the series, it has been shown as being called "Qwik-Mart" in a few episodes.
  • Open field. A grassy field backdropped by a large water tower. This is where Beavis and Butt-head can be found carrying out destructive experiments or setting things on fire.
  • Turbo Mall 2000. A preferred loitering spot for the duo.
  • Stewart's House. Beavis and Butt-head occasionally visit Stewart's house. Their visits often entail damaging something in the house.

Holiday specials

At least three holiday specials were produced -- one for Halloween and two for Christmas.

The Halloween special involved them attempting to trick-or-treat, in ridiculous costumes. Butt-head pours melted cheese on his head and becomes "nachos", while Beavis wears a pair of underwear on his head and is a "nad". After eating all of Tom Anderson's beggars' candy, Beavis turns into his alter ego the Great Cornholio, at which point he wanders away from Butt-head and goes on another hyperactive rampage, threatening trick-or-treaters for their candy and, in the case of some Halloween pranksters, their toilet paper. Butt-head attempts to follow Beavis, but is stuffed into a car trunk, taken to the country and deserted by Todd and his gang, where he is confronted by a crazy farmer. The Great Cornholio also encounters Todd, standing in the middle of the road Todd takes after ditching Butt-head. Todd threatens Cornholio, but the bluster and seeming confidence of Beavis' alter ego is enough to get Todd to back down and drive off. Eventually Beavis wakes up after his sugar high to find himself hanging in the farmer's barn. At the end of the episode it is implied that he is killed by a now blue-skinned Butt-head and the farmer who are both wielding chainsaws.

The first Christmas special featured the pair sitting in front of the television providing crude commentary on various aspects of Christmas.

The second Christmas special consists of two segments that parodied popular Christmas stories. The first was a parody of A Christmas Carol, featuring Beavis as Ebeneezer Scrooge. The second was a send up of It's A Wonderful Life, with an angel named Charlie trying to convince Butt-head to kill himself for the good of all mankind. The special also contained short segments where Butt-head dressed as Santa and read letters from viewers, while Beavis was dressed as a reindeer whom Butt-head occasionally struck with a bullwhip. The running joke during these segments was that in every letter written by a girl, she wants Beavis, which pisses off Butt-head and leads him to hit Beavis even more with the bullwhip.

All of the letters read by Santa Butt-head were actually sent in by MTV viewers, as several months before the special aired, MTV had a commercial encouraging viewers to write letters to Santa Butt-head, and provided an address to which they could be sent.

Music videos

For a full list of musical artists on Beavis and Butt-head, see List of musicians appearing on Beavis and Butt-head.

One of the most well-known aspects of the series was the inclusion of music videos, which occurred between animated segments. The duo would watch and make humorous observations, or simply engage in nonsensical dialogue.

They showed a particular disdain for many generic '80s hair bands. Upon seeing a video by Def Leppard, Butt-head remarks that "Spinal Tap really sucks lately". Their epitome of "wuss bands" was Winger, which their friend Stewart was a big fan of. They've also continuously said that Grim Reaper sucks.

Sometimes the pair responded to a song's lyrics, as with Men Without Hats' Safety Dance: "Why does that guy keep saying he can dance? His dancing sucks!" At other times, they repsonded to the visuals; while watching a Grace Jones video, Beavis objected, "That isn't Manute Bol! Manute Bol sings better than this!" They had no tolerance for new wave or electronic music; as Butt-head says, "I heard 'Depeche Mode' is French for 'we're wusses'!" They were fans of Nine Inch Nails, however.

Bands they liked were also mocked. They were disappointed by an AC/DC video, despite the fact that they were fans of the group. Midway through viewing Judas Priest's cheesy "Breaking The Law" video, Butt-head remarks, "I like Priest and everything, but this sucks!" A video by KISS received the backhanded compliment, "These guys are cool for a bunch of mimes."

At times, the criticism reflects their young age and ignorance of music history. Upon seeing a video by Black Sabbath, they decide that the band's vocalist can't be Ozzy Osbourne, because "Ozzy's an old fart!" (Ozzy was around 20-25 when the video was recorded in 1970, but the pair thinks the video is new). Butt-head mistakes their raw sound for grunge and inquires if they are from Seattle, Beavis replies "No, they're American," even though Seattle is located in the United States and Black Sabbath is from England. Similarly, the pair described Paul Simon as "that old dude from Africa who used to be in the Beatles." However, at other times they seemed almost respectful and willing to learn about music. A Led Zeppelin video was dismissed with the remark, "This sounds like folk music." "Yeah," came the reply, "but it gets cool later." After Butt-head purposely misidentifies another video by Stone Temple Pilots, Beavis objects, "That's not Pearl Jam, dumbass!" (Scott Weiland's voice resembles Eddie Vedder's at times.) A smug Butt-head shows a teacher's approval: "I'm glad to see you're learning, Beavis."

Beavis and Butt-head rarely expressed complete enjoyment about any video. Nirvana's Kurt Cobain is said to have been ecstatic at having the video for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" praised by Beavis and Butt-head, and deemed it a great compliment. Hum appeared to be responsible for their favourite video ever when they mistakenly thought the song "Stars" was over long before the actual end of the song. Beavis became hyper with joy saying "Yeah!, Megadeth!" while watching the video "Sweating Bullets" and Butt-head told Beavis that Dave Mustaine's singing voice was similar to Beavis's speaking voice. During the video for Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's Dang, Butt-head laughed so hysterically with both humour and joy to the point of almost losing his breath (the punchline being that he and Beavis were (or thought they were) high on nutmeg). White Zombie, Type O Negative, Onyx, the Violent Femmes, the Beastie Boys, Suicidal Tendencies and Pantera were also among the few groups for whom Beavis and Butt-head expressed appreciation, and the two groups that earn their fondest reviews are GWAR and the Butthole Surfers. Beavis voiced his estimation that every video should be like a GWAR video.

The video which the duo declared to be officially the 'best ever' was Ministry's 'Just One Fix'. During William S. Burroughs' appearance in that video, Beavis declares 'Even the old guy is cool!' Ironically, a large number of fans of the group Army of Lovers attest to having discovered the group from the appearance of a video of theirs on Beavis and Butt-head, in which both of the boys expressed frustration with the frequent shifts between scenes they deeply enjoyed and scenes they found disturbing. Beavis and Butt-head treat Lemmy Kilmister, of Motörhead fame, like a V.I.P. whenever he appears. One occasion of this was when Lemmy walked into a Ramones video and Beavis says to Butt-head, "Whoa! Butt-head, look! It's Lemmy! It's Lemmy! What's he doing there?!" Butt-head responded, "He's Lemmy, dumbass. He can walk into any video he wants." They also once expressed if not love, a deep respect for "Weird Al" Yankovic. During the Stray Cats video for "Rock This Town", a guy who looks an awful lot like Yankovic appears, making Beavis scream in delight "Hey, It's Weird Al!" and Butt-head concurring "Cool, Weird Al!". As the Yankovic lookalike is dancing with a woman, Beavis declares "Cool, he's gonna get some!", Butt-head responds "Of course he is, dumbass! He's Weird Al!"

Beavis and Butt-head had especially severe reactions when confronted with videos they found particularly awful. As soon as Butt-head realized he was watching a Michael Bolton video, he announced that he had soiled his pants. The ultimate put-down was to simply look at each other, each with a look of horror and then switch the channel without saying a word. Only Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" and Milli Vanilli were considered so egregious as to deserve this fate. (Although in a later episode, they did watch another Vanilla Ice video, giving it the full round of criticism.)

The duo would occasionally engage in physical humour during the videos. These antics ranged from simple comic violence, such as slapping, punching, and kicking one another, to the duo's memorable dances, which ranged from a few simple arm motions, to one dance where Butt-head jumps back and forth across the room.

Controversial content

Mike Judge created the Beavis and Butt-head characters for an animated short for the Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation. This short, named "Frog Baseball", was aired on MTV's independent animation showcase Liquid Television, and featured the two playing baseball with a living frog as the ball.

The duo lent popularity to slang terms including "buttmunch", "fartknocker", "bunghole", "choad", "ass munch", "TP", "spank the monkey" and others. Early episodes gave them a juvenile obsession with fire and dangerous behaviour. The show was blamed for child deaths as the result of fire and dangerous stunts, particularly the one in Ohio in 1993 in which a five year old boy set fire to his parent's house killing his two year old sister. The houseowners blamed the show (despite not having a cable TV subscription) which sparked the ire of media watchdog groups. As a result, the references were excised from further broadcastings, being replaced to some extent with simply silly stunts, bad pick-up lines, etc. References to fire were cut from earlier episodes in reruns. Other episodes MTV opted to not rerun.

In the following February, Morality in Media, a watchdog group, pointed an episode which Beavis and Butt-head loaded a bowling ball with explosives and dropped it from a rooftop, for the death of an eight year-old girl, when she was struck by a bowling ball, which had been thrown from an overpass onto a New Jersey highway and struck her familiy's car which she was travelling in. Like the Ohio house fire, it turned out, the eighteen year old boy arrested for throwing the bowling ball did not have access to cable, either. The show was eventually cleared of blame.

Jabs at the controversy were made in subsequent episodes.

  • Beavis tries to light a cigarette but cannot get the lighter to work.
  • In the episode "Lie Detector", Beavis chants "liar, liar", saying it as "liar, liar, pants on...heh...woah!"
  • Beavis shouts "water" in the same manner as that in which he would shout "fire".
  • Beavis watches the video "California" by the punk rock band Wax. It includes slow-motion footage of a man running while covered in flames. Beavis remains sublimely transfixed throughout the video, capable of uttering nothing more than "Oooooh. Aaaaaah."
  • When the song "Great Balls of Fire" by Jerry Lee Lewis came up during a video, Beavis could not resist saying the last word for the title in his signature style.

The original disclaimer in the first and second seasons shown before each episode was:

Beavis and Butt-head are not real. They are stupid cartoon people completly [sic] made up by this Texas guy who we hardly even know. Beavis and Butt-head are dumb, crude, ugly, thoughtless, sexist self-destructive fools. But for some reason the little wienerheads make us laugh.

Early episodes with the controversial content intact are rare, and are traded on home-made tapes made from the original broadcasts. In an interview included with the recent Mike Judge Collection DVD set, Judge says he is unsure if some of the earlier episodes still exist in their uncensored form.

MTV also responded by broadcasting the program after 11:00 P.M., and changing the original disclaimer to a new one, reminding viewers that:

Beavis and Butt-head are not role models. They're not even human, they're cartoons. Some of the things they do could cause a person to get hurt, expelled, arrested... possibly deported. To put it another way, don't try this at home.

This disclaimer also appears before the opening of their Sega Genesis game.

Beavis and Butt-head, along with Ren and Stimpy and The Simpsons, pushed the boundaries of cartoons away from clean material for small children. They were famously lambasted by Democratic senator Fritz Hollings as "Buffcoat and Beaver" which would subsequently become a running gag on the show of adults mis-pronouncing their names (i.e. Rush Limbaugh's parody "Gus Baker" in the episode "Right On"). Such an example is a reporter calling them "Brevis and Headbutt". Critics, though split upon the cultural merits of the cartoon, often compared the dialogue to that of Samuel Beckett. Social commentary was a recurrent theme throughout the series.

Beavis and Butt-head have been compared to idiot savants, because of their creative and subversively intelligent observations of music videos. This part of the show was mostly improvised by Mike Judge and is considered by many to be the show's highlight. With regard to criticisms of Beavis and Butt-head as "idiots", Judge has responded that a show about straight-A students just wouldn't be funny. However, Daria, who academically excelled, then proceeded to star in her own critically acclaimed series.

Beavis and Butt-head Do America

Poster for Beavis and Butt-head Do America
Poster for Beavis and Butt-head Do America

Beavis and Butt-head Do America was released in 1996. The movie features the voices of Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Cloris Leachman, Robert Stack, Eric Bogosian, Richard Linklater, Greg Kinnear (in an uncredited role), and David Letterman (credited as Earl Hofert). The film's plot follows Beavis and Butt-head on a journey to retrieve their stolen television set. They travel across the United States and become involved in a biological weapon smuggling scheme that they remain unaware of throughout the film. The journey takes them to Washington, D.C. where they meet President Clinton (voiced by Dale Reeves). Tom Anderson, David Van Driessen and Principal McVicker have cameos.

In the film, Beavis and Butt-head befriend two characters who are older look-alikes of themselves. A scene that follows shows the FBI, running 'samples' left by Beavis and Butt-head in Mr. Anderson's camper through a national prison sperm bank, establishing these characters as possible fathers of the duo (the show alluded to Beavis and Butt-head being illegitimate and having never known their fathers). In the next scene, one of the older look-alike characters (voiced by Letterman) tells Beavis and Butt-head a story about how "he scored with these two chicks" fifteen years ago when they were in Beavis & Butt-head's hometown of Highland as roadies for Mötley Crüe. He then dismisses the other look-alike's claim of having sex with either woman, and is met with no rebuttal. This scene leads to some debate as to whether or not it is revealed that Beavis and Butt-head are actually biological half-brothers, and that the two have lived their entire lives unaware of this fact. Nevertheless, Beavis and Butt-head appear oblivious to these clues that point out that they have finally met their father(s).

Despite the initial claims of many skeptics, the film was quite popular, and was quite well received by critics. Siskel and Ebert gave the movie "two thumbs up." Thr film may have became a cult classic.

The Beavis and Butt-head Experience album

A CD appeared, named The Beavis and Butt-head Experience featuring many hard rock and heavy metal bands, such as Megadeth and Nirvana. Moreover, Beavis and Butt-head do a duet with Cher on "I Got You Babe" and a track by themselves named "Come to Butt-head". The track with Cher also resulted in a music video, which hints strongly at the end that Butt-head "scored" with Cher (after telling Beavis to leave).

Other appearances

Beavis and Butt-head reading a Beavis and Butt-head comic.
Beavis and Butt-head reading a Beavis and Butt-head comic.
Two characters resembling the duo on Step By Step. Some like to consider this a live-version cameo of the "actual" characters.
Two characters resembling the duo on Step By Step. Some like to consider this a live-version cameo of the "actual" characters.
Grandpa Simpson, and Jasper laughing like Beavis and Butt-head
Grandpa Simpson, and Jasper laughing like Beavis and Butt-head
  • Beavis and Butt-head made an "appearance" on the Late Show with Dave Letterman. Prior to this, creator Mike Judge was a guest on the same show, and showed Dave a brief short in which Beavis & Butt-head were drawn with the physical characteristics of Paul Shaffer and Letterman.
  • The characters were presenters during the 1997 Academy Awards telecast.
  • Beavis and Butt-head have also appeared in a comic book series released by Marvel Comics, and many video games, like Virtual Stupidity, Bunghole in One and Beavis and Butt-head Do U.
  • They appear in voice only in the live-action film Airheads. When a radio DJ is taking call-ins, Beavis and Butt-head call. Mike Judge supplied the voices himself for the movie.
  • In two episodes of the ABC sitcom Step by Step, there are two male actors who resemble Beavis and Butt-head and act in the same manner, even wearing AC/DC and Metallica t-shirts.
  • On a Christmas-themed episode of Saturday Night Live, the characters appeared on the show's Weekend Update sketch and conversed with Norm MacDonald. Situated outside of Rockefeller Center, Butt-head was dressed to resemble Santa Claus while Beavis donned a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer costume.
  • In the 1999 Hugh Grant film Notting Hill, Beavis and Butt-head's image is seen on a stained glass window.
  • Butt-head made a brief cameo in the MTV animated series The Head.
  • Beavis & Butt-head appeared on the MTV series Celebrity Deathmatch, in which both boys fought each other. Beavis wins the fight when he becomes Cornholio. Their voices were not performed by Mike Judge.
  • On the Adult Swim sketch show Robot Chicken, a featured parody of the Cartoon Network animated series Teen Titans has Beavis and Butt-head joining the team. Their attitude lands them and the team in trouble. They are misogynistic to Starfire and insult Raven's gothic nature. They also sing the theme song from the Batman television series when Robin is around. Mike Judge did not voice the duo in this parody and for unknown reasons this parody was cut from the Robot Chicken season 1 DVD but it Is still shown on television in reruns.
  • On the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards, Beavis and Butt-head appeared in a couple of Viewers Choice award skits, pleading to "Vote to put Beavis and Butt-head back on MTV!". The duo have made appearances at other VMAs during the series' run.
  • In an episode of the TV show Friends, Joey Tribbiani and Chandler Bing dedicate themselves to not leaving two overstuffed recliners situated in front of a large TV, they are shown at one point watching Beavis and Butt-head and inadvertently imitating them.
  • Beavis and Butt-head also appear in an episode of Saturday Night Live's TV Funhouse, where Colin Powell is depicted fielding questions from teens on a MTV talk show. As he becomes increasingly irritated by the teenagers he begins to imagine that the whole audience has morphed into dozens of chuckling Beavis and Butt-heads.
  • Beavis and Butt-head appear in the movie Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, when Dr. Evil has threatened the United Nations and attempts to end transmission, but has trouble ending it, so he accidentally switches an episode of Beavis and Butt-head. Beavis shouts "Check it out Butt-head, this chick has 3 boobs!" Butt-head replies "How many butts does she have?"
  • A similar pair of characters, named "Porkhead and Wiener", appeared on the fictional network MVT (Music Video Television) in some episodes of Night Stand with Dick Dietrick.
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures Spring Break Special, furry versions of Beavis and Butt-head called Beaver and Bighead appear at the beginning and end of the special. Beaver, as his name implies, is a beaver, while Bighead appears to be a pig. When the Tiny Toons head for Florida at the beginning, Beaver and Bighead appear for the first time, hitchhiking. Beaver assumes that their ride is coming, but Bighead corrects him, and goes on to say that the Tiny Toons "stink". Beaver and Bighead are then flattened by the bus. They again appear at the end, warning parody versions of Ren and Stimpy that they're about to be hit by the Tiny Toons bus, which is returning to Acme Acres. They ignore the warning and are promptly ran over. Beaver and Bighead laugh at their misfortune before once again joining the roadkill by the same bus. Beaver and Bighead are voiced by Rob Paulsen and Jeff Glen Bennett.

Spin-offs

A spin-off show based on their classmate Daria Morgendorffer, Daria, was also created. Mike Judge was not credited as a producer of this series and said he was not only not involved with it at all except to give permission for the use of the character. It is said that he has never even seen more than three minutes of the show. The Daria character had been created for Beavis and Butt-head by Glenn Eichler, who became a producer for Daria. In the first episode of Daria, Daria and her family move from Beavis and Butt-head's hometown of Highland to Lawndale. None of the other characters from Beavis and Butt-head ever appear on Daria, although the title of episode 412, "Fire!", may be a reference to B&B.

King of the Hill was created by Mike Judge and at least owes its start to the success of Beavis and Butt-head. Lending credence to its status as a spinoff, the main character, Hank Hill, sounds just like and looks rather similar to Mr. Anderson. Indeed, the show was preceded by rumours, before Beavis and Butt-head stopped airing, that Judge was going to do a spin-off show about Mr. Anderson.

Video and DVD

The First official home video releases of Beavis and Butt-head were two VHS tapes entitled There Goes The Neighbourhood and Work Sucks!, distributed by Sony Music Video and MTV Home Video in 1994. The VHS tapes contained approximately 8 episodes of Beavis and Butt-head, drawn from the first 4 seasons. Although most of the episodes were presented complete (but without Music Video segments-see below), a handful of episodes from Seasons 2 and 3 were edited for content similar to their broadcast runs. 9 More VHS compilations were released from 1995 to 1999 for a total of 11, containing episodes from every season of the show except the first.

The Contents of the Work Sucks! and There Goes The Neighbourhood VHS compilations were combined into a single LaserDisc compilation entitled Beavis and Butt-head: The Essential Collection, which was also released by Sony Music Video in 1994.

All VHS collections of episodes are out of print. They were compiled into two sets of three multi-episode Time-Life DVD releases called The Best of Beavis and Butt-head, which are also no longer available. A set of three DVDs from Time-Life containing the same content as 6 of the VHS editions was released in December 2002. The remaining 5 VHS programs were also released on DVD soon afterwards but were not equally advertised (if at all) and are subsequently rarer.

A two-disc DVD set titled The History of Beavis and Butt-head was scheduled for release in September 2002, but was cancelled at the last moment. Many copies were mistakenly put on store shelves on the scheduled release date, only to be immediately recalled. The set started selling on eBay at very high prices, sometimes over $300 USD. According to creator Mike Judge, the History set was made up of episodes that Judge had previously rejected for home video release and was prepared without his knowledge or consent. Judge said in an interview, "it was basically all the worst episodes, with some exceptions." Judge owns approval rights for video releases of the series, and the History DVD set was recalled at his demand.

On November 8th, 2005, MTV and Paramount Home Entertainment released a three-disc DVD compilation titled Beavis and Butt-head: The Mike Judge Collection, Volume 1. The DVD set includes approximately 40 Episodes and eleven music video segments from the original shows. All prior VHS and DVD releases have lacked these segments except for the VHS release of Beavis and Butt-head Do Christmas, and the last disc of the second and last Time-Life set, presumably due to the difficulty involved in acquiring music rights for the videos. This last disc, entitled Hard Cash, appeared to have made room for four music videos since it contained half the episodes (one VHS worth) of most of the other volumes (typically the combination of content formerly occupying two VHS tapes).

23 of the 40 Episodes included on the Mike Judge Collection were advertised to have been director's cuts containing "previously censored material". However, shortly prior to the DVDs' retail date, a member of the DVD Talk Forums discovered that the majority of the "Director's Cut" episodes were actually missing footage from their original broadcast versions, although two episodes ("Home Improvement" and "Lawn and Garden") did indeed have excised footage reinstated. The reason for these edits is unknown, although it has been speculated that the edits in question were made to adjust timing issues in the individual episodes. Lending credence to the speculation is a Houston Chronicle article on the DVDs in which Mike Judge states that he corrected certain animation mistakes on the DVD that he found to be troublesome. The edited episodes nonetheless angered many fans of the show, which led to the set being unfavourably compared to the similarly edited Ren and Stimpy DVDs and George Lucas' updated Star Wars DVDs on many websites and on Amazon.com. However, it should be noted that many of the affected episodes were previously released on the Time-Life and History DVDs complete and unedited.

A second Mike Judge Collection is planned for June 13, 2006 as well as a third Mike Judge Collection planned for August 2006. According to TVShowsonDVD.com, the sets will also contain 40 episodes (including 17 DVD debuts), 13 Music Videos, "previously unaired segments", and other bonus features that have yet to be announced.

On January 26th, 2006, MTV and Apple Computer released Beavis and Butt-head, Vol. 1 on iTunes Music Store.

Books

"Beavis and Butt-head This Book Sucks".
"Beavis and Butt-head Ensucklopedia". Published December 1994.
"Beavis and Butt-head Huh Huh for Hollywood". Published November 1996.
"Beavis and Butt-head The Butt-Files: Beavis and Butt-head's Guide To Sci-Fi And The Unknown". Published August 1997.
"Beavis and Butt-head Travel Log". Published December 1997.
"Beavis and Butt-head Chicken Soup for the Butt". Published November 1998.
"Beavis and Butt-head Reading Sucks: The Collected Works of Beavis and Butt-head". Published December 2005. This collection is a bundle of the four books listed above which are no longer in print separately.

Social influence

The show became the focus of criticism from social conservatives, such as Michael Medved, who depicted it as "the epitome of mindless and amoral entertainment," while others, such as David Letterman, and the conservative magazine National Review, defended it as a cleverly subversive vehicle for social criticism and a particularly creative and intelligent comedy.

ESPN Classic's series Cheap Seats updated the B&B formula in 2003 with a sports theme, with two misfit characters wisecracking on campy old sports broadcasts from the vantage point of their battered sofa. Cheap Seats is also widely seen as kin to Mystery Science Theater 3000 and has featured a cameo their famous wisecracking robots. The robots wisecracking and violent antics predates B&B's TV run.

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