|Beavis and Butt-Head|
|Created by||Mike Judge|
|Directed by||Mike Judge|
|Voices of||Mike Judge|
|Theme music composer||Mike Judge|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||222|
|Producers||John Andrews |
|Original network||MTV (S1-8)|
Comedy Central (S9-)
|Original release||Original series:|
March 8, 1993 -
November 28, 1997
October 27 - December 29, 2011
|Preceded by||Liquid Television|
Beavis and Butt-Head is an American adult animated comedy television series created by Mike Judge for MTV and later Comedy Central. The series originated from Frog Baseball, a 1992 short film by Judge originally aired on Liquid Television. After seeing the short, MTV signed Judge to develop the short into a full series. The series originally ran for seven seasons from March 8, 1993, to November 28, 1997.
During its initial run, Beavis and Butt-Head received widespread critical acclaim, particularly for its satirical, scathing commentary on society. It was also a subject of controversy for its violent content. A theatrical feature-length film based on the series titled Beavis and Butt-Head Do America was released in 1996 by Paramount Pictures.
Fourteen years following the end of the series, the series was revived for an eighth season airing from October 27 to December 29, 2011. A second revival consisting of two seasons was announced by Comedy Central on July 1, 2020. On February 24, 2021, a second movie based on the series was also announced for streaming service Paramount+.
The series centers on two unintelligent teenage delinquent couch potatoes named Beavis and Butt-Head (both voiced by Judge) who lack social skills. They attend school at Highland High in a town named Highland, located somewhere in the southwestern United States. If they are not at school or out causing mayhem, they're at home watching TV or eating nachos and other junk food. Beavis and Butt-Head have little to no adult supervision and are barely literate. Both lack any empathy or moral scruples even when regarding each other, and have no hesitance to inflict serious physical harm to each other. They will usually deem their encounters as "cool" if they are associated with heavy metal, violence, sex, destruction, or the macabre. While inexperienced with women, they share an obsession with sex and tend to chuckle whenever they hear words or phrases that could be even vaguely interpreted as sexual or scatological. Butt-Head tends to be very emotionless and lackadaisical with regard to his conduct, whereas Beavis tends to be more "over-the-top" and extroverted (he is also shown to be somewhat more aware of social norms and certain morals than Butt-Head is, though Butt-Head seems to be somewhat more intelligent at reading and planning ahead).
Each episode features frequent interstitial scenes in which they critique music videos using commentary improvised by Judge (much in the same way as Mystery Science Theater 3000; in season eight, they also commented on clips from other MTV shows such as Jersey Shore and True Life, plus shows from other Viacom-owned networks such as Spike). The remainder of the episodes depict the duo embarking on a scheme or adventure. The staff at Highland High are often at a loss as to how to deal with them, and, in many episodes, Beavis and Butt-Head skip school altogether. Their actions sometimes result in serious consequences, sometimes for themselves but often for others in which they themselves do not express any remorse.
|First aired||Last aired|
|Shorts||2||September 22, 1992||November 17, 1992|
|1||3||March 8, 1993||March 25, 1993|
|2||25||May 17, 1993||July 15, 1993|
|3||31||September 6, 1993||March 5, 1994|
|4||32||March 14, 1994||July 15, 1994|
|5||50||October 31, 1994||October 12, 1995|
|6||20||October 31, 1995||March 7, 1996|
|7||41||January 26, 1997||November 28, 1997|
|8||22||October 27, 2011||December 29, 2011|
Over its run, Beavis and Butt-Head received both positive and negative reactions from the public with its combination of lewd humor and implied criticism of society. It became the focus of criticism from some social critics, such as Michael Medved while others such as David Letterman and the National Review defended it as a cleverly subversive vehicle for social criticism and a particularly creative and intelligent comedy. Either way, the show captured the attention of many young television viewers and is often considered a classic piece of 1990s youth culture and Generation X. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park, cite the series as an influence and compared it to the blues.
In 1997, Dan Tobin of The Boston Phoenix commented on the series' humor, saying it transformed "stupidity into a crusade, forcing us to acknowledge how little it really takes to make us laugh." In 1997, Ted Drozdowski of The Boston Phoenix described the 1997 Beavis and Butt-Head state as "reduced to self-parody of their self-parody." In December 2005, TV Guide ranked the duo's distinct laughing at #66 on their list of the 100 Greatest TV Quotes and Catchphrases. In 2012, TV Guide ranked Beavis and Butt-Head as one of the top 60 Greatest TV Cartoons of All Time.
Mike Judge himself is highly critical of the animation and quality of earlier episodes, in particular the first two--"Give Blood/Blood Drive" and "Door to Door"--which he described as "awful, I don't know why anybody liked it... I was burying my head in the sand."
The show was blamed for the death of two-year-old Jessica Messner in Moraine, Ohio, in October 1993. The girl's five-year-old brother, Austin, set fire to his mother's mobile home with a cigarette lighter, killing the two-year-old. The mother later claimed that her son watched an episode in which the characters said "fire was fun". However, the neighbors stated that the family did not even have cable television and would thus be unable to view the show.
As a result, all references to fire were removed from subsequent airings and prompted the show to a later time slot. The creators found a censorship loophole and took delight in sometimes making Beavis scream things that sounded very similar to his previous "Fire! Fire!" (such as "Fryer! Fryer!" when he and Butt-Head are working the late shift at Burger World) and also having him almost say the forbidden word (such as one time when he sang "Liar, liar, pants on..." and pausing before "fire"). There was also a music video where a man runs on fire in slow motion ("California" by Wax). Beavis is hypnotized by it and can barely say "fire". However, MTV eventually removed the episode entirely. References to fire were cut from earlier episodes--even the original master tapes were altered permanently. Other episodes MTV opted not to rerun included "Stewart's House" and "Way Down Mexico Way". Copies of early episodes with the controversial content intact are rare, and the copies that exist are made from home video recordings of the original broadcasts, typically on VCR. In an interview included with the Mike Judge Collection DVD set, Judge said he is uncertain whether some of the earlier episodes still exist in their original, uncensored form.
When the series returned in 2011, MTV allowed Beavis to use the word "fire" once again uncensored. During the first video segment, "Werewolves of Highland", the first new episode of the revival, Beavis utters the word "fire" a total of seven times within 28 seconds, with Butt-Head saying it once as well.
In February 1994, watchdog group Morality in Media claimed that the death of eight-month-old Natalia Rivera, struck by a bowling ball thrown from an overpass onto a highway in Jersey City, New Jersey, near the Holland Tunnel by 18-year-old Calvin J. Settle, was partially inspired by Beavis and Butt-Head. The group said that Settle was influenced by the episode "Ball Breakers", in which Beavis and Butt-Head load a bowling ball with explosives and drop it from a rooftop. While Morality in Media claimed that the show inspired Settle's actions, the case's prosecutors did not. It was later revealed by both prosecutors and the defendant that Settle did not have cable TV, nor did he watch the show.
In "Lightning Strikes", the show parodies the desire to blame things on youth culture. When a reporter asks the duo why they had been flying a kite in a thunderstorm, they explain that they had been inspired by a documentary about "some old dude with long hair and glasses". The interview continues until they mention having watched rock music videos earlier in the day; the reporter concludes (on the air) that the videos are to blame for their actions.
MTV also responded by broadcasting the program after 11:00 p.m. and included a disclaimer, reminding viewers:
Beavis and Butt-Head are not real. They are stupid cartoon people completely made up by this Texas guy whom we hardly even know. Beavis and Butt-Head are dumb, crude, thoughtless, ugly, sexist, self-destructive fools. But for some reason, the little wienerheads make us laugh.
This was later changed to:
Beavis and Butt-Head are not role models. They're not even human. They're cartoons. Some of the things they do would cause a person to get hurt, expelled, arrested, possibly deported. To put it another way: don't try this at home.
They were famously lambasted by Democratic South Carolina Senator Fritz Hollings as "Buffcoat and Beaver". This subsequently became a running gag on the show where adults mispronounced their names. For example, one character on the show, Tom Anderson, originally called them "Butthole" and "Joe" and believed the two to be of Asian ethnicity (describing them to the police as "Oriental"). In later episodes, Anderson uses the Hollings mispronunciation once and, on at least one occasion, refers to them as "Penis and Butt-Munch". President Clinton called them "Beavis and Bum-head" in "Citizen Butt-head", as well as in the movie, where an old lady (voiced by Cloris Leachman) consistently calls them "Travis" and "Bob-head". In "Incognito", when another student threatens to kill them, the duo uses this to their advantage, pretending to be exchange students named "Crevis and Bung-Head". The bully, seeing through the disguises, calls them "Beaver and Butt-Plug". In "Right On!", when the duo appear on the Gus Baker Show, host Gus Baker (a caricature of Rush Limbaugh) introduces them as "Beavis and Buffcoat".
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. With regard to criticisms of the two as "idiots", Judge responded that a show about straight-A students would not be funny.
In 1996, a full-length film featuring the duo titled Beavis and Butt-Head Do America was released in theaters by Paramount Pictures. The film 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). It gained mostly positive reviews from film critics and a "two thumbs up" from Siskel and Ebert. The film earned over $60 million at the domestic box office, a strong return for a film that cost only $12 million to produce.
In the years following, many fans rumored the possibility of a sequel or follow-up to the film, tentatively titled Beavis and Butt-Head: The Sequel or Beavis and Butt-Head 2. On August 31, 2009, during the promotion of Extract, Mike Judge said he would like to see Beavis and Butt-Head on the big screen again.
In March 2018, Judge told Rotten Tomatoes that the idea of doing a second Beavis and Butt-Head movie had been brought up two months prior, saying "It's just a matter of coming up with an idea that feels like it's worth doing." In July 2019, Judge again reiterated interest in a potential Beavis and Butt-Head movie further revealing, "I've got some ideas. I think it would have to be something that makes it relevant today. I think I might've figured out a way to do that." He further stated that he would probably direct it.
In interviews, Judge has stated his interest in producing a live-action film and Johnny Depp has expressed interest in the role of Beavis. In May 2008, Judge said that he previously hated the idea, but now believes "maybe there's something there." During an interview for Collider on August 25, 2008, Judge said, "I like to keep the door open on Beavis and Butt-Head, because it's my favorite thing that I've ever done. It's the thing I'm most proud of." However, he also added, "Another movie... the problem is it takes a year and half, two years, two and a half years--maybe--to do that right. And that's a pretty strong level of commitment. I'm going to look at that again. That comes up every three years." One of his ideas is bringing back the characters as old men, instead of teenagers. "I kind of think of them as being either 15 or in their 60s", he said. "I wouldn't mind doing something with them as these two dirty old men sitting on the couch."
On July 28, 2016, it was reported that VH1 Classic was to be rebranded as MTV Classic on August 1, 2016 on the 35th anniversary of the original MTV. With a focus on 1990s programming, Beavis and Butt-Head were a major part of this alongside Daria and Æon Flux at the launch; they were also a major focus in the promotion of the re-brand.
On July 14, 2010, a spokesperson for MTV Networks informed a New York Post reporter that Mike Judge was creating a new Beavis and Butt-Head series, that Judge would reprise his voice-acting roles for the show, and that the animation would be hand-drawn. According to TMZ, MTV had not asked Tracy Grandstaff to reprise her role as Daria Morgendorffer. Later, in a Rolling Stone interview, Judge was asked if Daria was coming back, and he said: "No. There's sort of a cameo in one episode. That'll be a surprise."
As in the old series, Beavis and Butt-Head are high school students who, among other things, criticize contemporary music videos. In an interview with Rolling Stone, MTV president Van Toffler said the duo will also watch Jersey Shore, Ultimate Fighting Championship matches, and amateur videos from YouTube, as well as give movie reviews. "The biggest change is obviously the references are updated, it's set in modern day, and there's going to be a movie review segment," Linn said, "Otherwise they're still true to their prior passions."
John Altschuler, formerly a writer for King of the Hill, told a Rolling Stone reporter that he saw signs that Mike Judge was thinking of reviving Beavis and Butt-Head. On more than one occasion, Judge told the writers that one of their ideas for an episode of King of the Hill would work well for Beavis and Butt-Head; eventually he concluded, "Maybe we should just actually make some good Beavis and Butt-Head episodes." Later, a Lady Gaga video convinced Van Toffler of the tenability of a Beavis and Butt-Head revival: "I felt like there was a whole crop of new artists--and what the world sorely missed was the point of view that only Beavis and Butt-Head could bring."
As part of a promotional campaign for the new series, cinemas screening Jackass 3D opened the feature film with a 3-D Beavis and Butt-Head short subject. Months later, in a media presentation on February 2, 2011, MTV announced that the series would premiere in mid-2011. On July 21, 2011, Mike Judge spoke and fielded questions on a panel at Comic-Con International. A preview of the episode "Holy Cornholio" was also shown. Judge told Rolling Stone that at least 24 episodes (12 half-hour programs) will definitely air. It was initially rumored that Judge was working on 30 new episodes for the network.
The new episodes debuted in the United States and Canada on October 27, 2011. The premiere was dubbed a ratings hit with an audience of 3.3 million total viewers. This number eventually dwindled to 900,000 by the season's end, mainly due to its challenging time slot pitted against regular prime time shows on other networks. From April 24, 2012, to May 1, 2013, the show remained on the bubble for renewal, with no official decision being made. According to Mike Judge, MTV's modern demographic are females 12-14 years old, and the network is looking for other networks to ship the show to.
The main title card displays the title as Mike Judge's Beavis and Butt-Head with Judge's name replacing the MTV logo.
Comedy Central aired the show as part of their animation block over Christmas in December 2011 but was not picked up for a new season nor syndication. This would be the second time the show has aired on Comedy Central, the first being between subsequent airings in 2004 and 2005.
On January 10, 2014, Mike Judge announced that, while he is busy working on Silicon Valley, there is a chance of his pitching Beavis and Butt-Head to another network and that he would not mind making more episodes. While giving an interview to Howard Stern on May 6, 2014, Judge mentioned that the show's ratings on MTV were second only to Jersey Shore, but the show did not fit MTV's target demographic of young women, which is why the revived series has not been brought back on MTV. He also said that MTV was close to selling it to another network, but it became "lost in deal stuff".(37m)
On July 1, 2020, Comedy Central announced it had ordered a second revival of the series consisting of two new seasons along with spin-offs and specials. In the new series, Beavis and Butt-Head will enter a "whole new Gen Z world" with meta-themes that are said to be relatable to both new fans who may be unfamiliar with the original series and old. Mike Judge will return as the writer, producer and voice actor for the series. It is expected to premiere sometime during the third-quarter of 2021.
On February 25, 2021, Comedy Central released an exclusive teaser trailer for a new movie which would be exclusive for Paramount+. The teaser featured Beavis and Butt-Head in a Zoom call with the characters revealing "We're making a movie and it's going to be on Paramount+" before laughing at one another and saying: "You said 'mount'." A release date has yet to be revealed.
MTV Home Video, in collaboration with Sony Music Entertainment, released several episodes of the show on VHS from 1995 through 1999. A total of eleven VHS compilation tapes were released in the U.S., U.K. and Australia, each containing around eight episodes, but without the music video segments from the original broadcastings. These include the "Beavis and Butt-Head Do Christmas" and "Butt-O-Ween" specials, which were given stand-alone releases.
The Beavis and Butt-Head home video releases did very well in the UK often charting on the official TV video chart. Some weeks would have various releases simultaneously chart and would spend several consecutive weeks on the official TV home video charts.
The series continued in Australia and U.K., with a further ten volumes being issued between 1999 and 2001.
When the series ended in the U.K., a further seven volumes were issued exclusively in Australia, meaning that, overall 28 volumes, all 200 original episodes were released on VHS except "Heroes", "Incognito", "Cow Tipping", "Canoe" and "True Crime".
A single LaserDisc volume titled Beavis and Butt-Head: The Essential Collection was released on June 27, 1995. It contains all the episodes from Work Sucks! on one side and the episodes from There Goes the Neighborhood on the other side. The volumes The Final Judgment and Beavis & Butt-Head Do Christmas were also released on DVD during the early days of the format.
All of the U.S. VHS Volumes were later issued on DVD in five two-disc sets through the Time Life organization. The DVD releases were titled The Best of Beavis and Butt-Head. The third DVD release of Beavis and Butt-Head was two series of three-disc sets released by Time-Life in December 2002.
The first set in the series contained the same program content of six of the Beavis and Butt-Head VHS compilations previously released by Sony Music Video from 1994 to 1999: "Butt-O-Ween", "Beavis and Butt-Head Do Christmas", "Innocence Lost", "Chicks 'n' Stuff", "Feel Our Pain" and "Troubled Youth", with two VHS compilations combined into a single disc. The set was advertised considerably on networks such as Comedy Central and on the Time-Life website.
Sometime after the first release, a second set of Time-Life Beavis and Butt-Head DVDs was released. This set contained the programs of the remaining SMV VHS compilations: "Work Sucks", "There Goes the Neighborhood", "The Final Judgement", "Law-Abiding Citizens" and "Hard Cash". Two of the discs in the set once again contained the program content of two of the VHS tapes, while the last disc ("Hard Cash") contained only the content of the final VHS program, but did additionally include four of the music video segments from the original broadcasts with Beavis and Butt-Head commentating. The second Time-Life set was not advertised, and subsequently became rarer. They also released a VHS version of the Time Life collection.
Paramount announced the release of a two-disc DVD set titled The History of Beavis and Butt-Head which was scheduled for release in September 2002 in the United States. However, its release was cancelled at the last moment at the demand of Judge, who owned approval rights for video releases of the series. According to Judge, the History set was made up of episodes that he had previously rejected for home video release and had been prepared without his knowledge or consent. In all, half of the 32 episodes on The History of Beavis and Butt-Head were not included on later releases of the series, including all but two episodes on the first disc.
Many copies were mistakenly put on store shelves on the scheduled release date, only to be immediately recalled. The set is currently selling on eBay and Amazon for very high prices. Some brand new copies are being sold for over $300.
MTV and Paramount Home Entertainment released on November 8, 2005, a three-disc DVD compilation titled Beavis and Butt-Head: The Mike Judge Collection, Volume 1. The DVD set includes 40 episodes and 11 music video segments from the original shows. The set was followed by Volume2 and Volume3. On January 27, 2008, MTV and Apple made all three collections available on the iTunes Store. A Blu-ray and DVD release of Season 8, titled Beavis and Butt-Head - Volume 4, was released on February 15, 2012, in the U.S.
On February 14, 2017, MTV released Beavis and Butt-Head - The Complete Collection, a 12-disc set containing all four previously released volumes of The Mike Judge Collection, along with a special collector's edition of Beavis and Butt-Head Do America.
Many music video segments and content from other third parties were never released due to licensing issues with the rights holders. Early episodes featuring Beavis and Butt-Head engaging in unusually cruel and criminal activities were never released due to Mike Judge and MTV's dislike of them.
A DVD set featuring Mike Judge's favorite episodes. The set includes 20 episodes plus "The Taint of Greatness: The Journey of Beavis and Butt-Head"; it also features the original "Frog Baseball" and scenes from season 8.
From 1994 to 1996, Marvel Comics published a monthly Beavis and Butt-Head comic under the Marvel Absurd imprint by a variety of writers, but with each issue drawn by artist Rick Parker. It was also reprinted by Marvel UK, which created new editorial material.
The letters page was answered by Beavis and Butt-Head or one of their supporting characters. As a comic counterpart to the cartoon's music-video riffing segments, they reviewed (custom-made) pages from other Marvel Comics. In their review of a Ghost Rider comic, Beavis tries to avoid using the word "fire" to describe the character's fiery skull.
In the comic, minor characters like Earl, Billy Bob, Clark Cobb, and Mistress Cora Anthrax would get repeated appearances; Earl was quite regular, and Anthrax was in two issues and got to answer a letters page.
In 1996 Beavis and Butt-Head were featured in AC/DC's Ballbreaker World Tour for the album of the same name. In it both are backstage trying to meet the band and score some chicks. Both bang on the rehearsal door. A cartoony version of lead guitarist Angus Young appears behind the door and whistles for the Ballbreaker dominatrix featured on some of the promotional posters. She licks a mechanical drill and throws her cape to obscure the screen. Both Beavis and Butt-Head are heard screaming moments before the band appear on stage. The promotional film can be found on AC/DC's DVD box set Plug Me In.
A spin-off based on classmate Daria Morgendorffer premiered in 1997. Mike Judge was not involved at all except to give permission for use of the character (created by Glenn Eichler and designed by Bill Peckmann). The only reference to the original show is Daria's mentioning that Lawndale cannot be a second Highland "unless there's uranium in the drinking water here too".
A CD, The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience, was released featuring many hard rock and heavy metal bands such as Megadeth, Primus, Nirvana and White Zombie. Moreover, Beavis and Butt-Head do a duet with Cher on "I Got You Babe" and a track by themselves called "Come to Butt-Head". The track with Cher also resulted in a music video directed by Tamra Davis and Yvette Kaplan.
The Beavis and Butt-Head duet with Cher on "I Got You Babe" was released as a single in the UK, Australia, Europe and the US, the UK CD had a special limited edition sticker to promote The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience available with the release. On January 15, 1994, the song charted at number 35 in the UK charts and stayed on the charts for 4 weeks. On December 4, 1993, the song charted on the official Billboard charts in the US peaking at number 8.
The single also charted at number 69 in Australia, 19 in Belgium, 18 in Denmark, 69 on the European Hot 100, 9 on the Netherlands Dutch Top 40, 10 on the Netherlands top 100 and number 40 in Sweden.
The branded game was among the 10 most exposed slot games in UK online casinos days after its release in late May 2019.