Beavis and Butt-Head is an American adult animation series created and designed by Mike Judge. The series originated from “Frog Baseball”, a 1992 short film by Judge. After seeing the short, MTV signed Judge to develop the concept.Beavis and Butt-Head originally aired from March 8, 1993 to November 28, 1997. It was revived in 2011 and new episodes began airing on MTV on October 27, 2011 to December 29, 2011. The series has retained a cult following. Later, reruns aired on other Viacom properties, including MTV2, Comedy Central and UPN. In 1996, the series was adapted into the animated feature film Beavis and Butt-Head Do America.
The show centers on two socially awkward, rock-loving teenage delinquents, Beavis and Butt-Head (both voiced by Judge), who live in the town of Highland. They have no apparent adult supervision at home, and in one episode (Scientific Stuff) they say that they’re not sure if they have the same father or not. They are dim-witted, under-educated, and barely literate, and they both lack any empathy or moral scruples, even regarding each other. Their most common shared activity is watching music videos, which they tend to judge by deeming them “cool,” or by claiming, “This sucks!” They also apply these judgments to other things that they encounter, and will usually deem something “cool” if it is associated with violence, sex or themacabre. Despite having no experience with women, their other signature traits are a shared obsession with sex, and their tendency to chuckle and giggle whenever they hear words or phrases that can even remotely be construed as sexual or scatological.
- Beavis (Mike Judge) – an underbite and a fixed countenance, which is almost always shown in 3/4 view. Like Butt-head, Beavis compulsively laughs and grunts. He also has a habit of picking his nose. He is the more excitable of the two; despite his obliviousness to what should be obvious, he is prone to moments of insight. He is more polite and more optimistic than Butt-Head. He often suffers physically in the show, either at the hands of Butt-Head or various other characters or situations. He usually takes the beating and screams in pain before quickly reverting to his trademark laugh. Before controversy erupted (see below) he exhibited an obsession with fire and his trademark phrase was “FIRE! FIRE!” which he would utter with a maniacal gaze in his eye. One episode depicted him as having voices in his head, which told him to engage in destructive activities; however, generally he has a passive demeanor in contrast to Butt-Head’s more dominant personality. Beavis also wears a blue Metallica shirt with gray shorts. (Beavis’s shirt in trademark posters, T shirts and other merchandise reads “Death Rock.”) When Beavis consumes large amounts of caffeine or sugar, he transforms into his hyperactive alter-ego, Cornholio. Beavis’s laugh was based on a “straight A” classmate of creator Mike Judge who had a guttural laugh.
- Butt-head (Mike Judge) – Has squinty eyes and a drooping nose with prominent nostrils. His top gums are often exposed due to a small upper lip and he speaks nasally with a deep voice and a slight lisp. He begins almost every statement with “Uhhhhhh…” and ends with his short trademark laugh, “Uh huh huh huh.” Calmer, though cockier, older and marginally more intelligent than Beavis, Butt-Head is oblivious to subtlety of any sort and is usually completely confident in everything he says and does, no matter how ridiculous or frivolous it is—unless it has to do with girls, in which case he either wavers or comes on too strongly. His trademark phrase when approaching women is “Hey baby.” As the more dominant personality of the duo, he seems to derive pleasure from regularly abusing Beavis. Butt-Head rarely gets perceptibly angry about anything, his usual expression of dissatisfaction being a resigned “This sucks! huh huh huh.” He also frequently has to try to calm the more mercurial Beavis down, either telling him to “settle down, Beavis! huh huh huh,” or in more drastic cases, slap him. Butt-Head also wears a gray AC/DC shirt with red shorts. (Butt-Head’s shirt in other media reads “Skull.”) Judge has stated he got the idea for the name “Butt-Head” from two people he knew during his childhood called “Iron Butt” (who encouraged people to kick him in the butt to demonstrate his strength) and “Head-Butt.”
- Tom Anderson (Mike Judge) – The nearsighted, elderly neighbor of Beavis and Butt-Head. He often hires them to do chores which involve both of them destroying his yard, home, or personal belongings. Due to his poor eyesight and mild senility, he never seems to recognize either of them and he never seems to even remember their names. (In one episode the two wore horn rimmed glasses in an absurd disguise which Anderson did not notice.) He served in the Navy during World War II and the Korean War. His character is similar in look and voice to the Hank Hill character from Judge’s subsequent series, King of the Hill since both were based on the same collection of elderly men from Judge’s youth.
- David Van Driessen (Mike Judge) – A teacher at Highland High School and arguably the only person who cares about Beavis and Butt-Head. Ever the idealist, he never gives up on educating and enlightening the duo no matter how disastrous his attempts to do so turn out. But not only are his efforts with the two always total failures, they laugh at him and are completely oblivious to his genuine concern for them. Van Driessen is a devoted hippie with a forgiving nature and gentle demeanor. His repeated attempts to teach the duo useful life lessons typically end in disaster as they almost always deduce the wrong message. He often plays songs on his acoustic guitar which typically end in him being severely hurt and in some cases almost killed. He has been shown teaching classes on biology, art, animation, economics, health, history, math, and literature, among others. Van Driessen is fired from his job in School Test by Principal McVicker, who blames him for Beavis and Butt-Head being “so damn stupid.” He also owns a substantial 8-track tape collection, which is ruined inCleaning House by Beavis and Butt-Head. His voice and personality are similar to and may serve as a basis of sort for the character of Gerald Goode in Judge’s latest animated seriesThe Goode Family. Mike Judge has stated Van Driessen was his favorite character, after Beavis, to voice. He based it on an interviewer he overheard during his time in a band.
- Coach Bradley Buzzcut (Mike Judge) – Another of the duo’s high school teachers and the antithesis of Van Driessen. Angry, impatient and short-tempered, Buzzcut is a Vietnam War veteran who served in the Marine Corps and, with the possible exception of Principal McVicker, hates the duo more than any other character. He is shown substitute-teaching regular classes, but usually teaches physical education. It is implied that he has on occasion committed assault and battery against the duo. Coach Buzzcut drives a Jeep Grand Wagoneer. Although Buzzcut’s first name was never given in the series, it was revealed in This Book Sucks.
- Principal McVicker (Mike Judge) – the principal of Highland High School and hates the duo. The two have unintentionally ruined his life. Many episodes begin with Beavis and Butt-Head in his office. They refer to him as “McDicker.” He is constantly stressed out due to having to deal with Beavis and Butt-Head: he shakes when he speaks, he frequently rummages through his desk for prescription medications, and in No Laughing, he is shown guzzling a bottle ofOld Crow bourbon whiskey. In the original series finale, when McVicker thinks that Beavis and Butt-Head are dead, he immediately stops shaking and he becomes calmer and more cheerful. It is revealed in Dumb Design that he survived his heart attack. The spelling of his name was changed after the beginning of the series; his nameplate and office door spells his surname “McVicar” in early episodes. His voice and mannerisms are based upon a band director Mike Judge had in ninth grade. He stated that he was always wound up, angry, and smelled like liquor in the morning. He also stuttered and made the noises that McVicker makes when talking.
- Daria Morgendorffer (Tracy Grandstaff) – a sarcastic, vaguely alt-rockerish, nerdy girl who attends Highland High with Beavis and Butt-Head and she is one of the few people who sees the two for what they truly are. While not above taking jabs at them for their lack of intelligence, she also offers occasional help and advice. The duo nicknamed her “Diarrhea” but once said she was cool after she asked President Clinton a pointed and pertinent question during a school assembly (Citizen Butt-head). She eventually starred in her own spin-off series, Daria. Daria is not featured in the newer episodes, but made a cameo of sorts, according to an August 2011 Rolling Stone interview with Mike Judge. In the episode “Drones” while watching a deadmau5 video, Butt-Head asks Beavis if he remembers “That kid at school who died?” and Beavis mentions “I know Daria killed herself”. Butt-head then incredulously tells him that Daria did not die but merely moved to a different city. She was the only character created at the request of MTV, who wanted a female character who could tolerate and handle the duo. Judge agreed with the idea, and worked on her with series writer David Felton.
- Todd Ianuzzi (Mike Judge in “The Crush”, later by Rottilio Michieli, and Toby Huss in 2011) – a trashy deadbeat and a violent criminal. Although Beavis and Butt-Head greatly admire him and aspire to join his “gang,” Todd despises the two and frequently beats them up and takes advantage of them when he needs something, such as money, food or a place to hide from other gangs or the police. However, in “A Great Day” Todd does thank the duo for giving him some gas money, and he allows them to watch him beat up someone who bumped into his car. In “Lord of the Harvest,” Todd refrains from beating up Beavis as Cornholio, citing that as being “messed up,” showing that even he does have some standards. Beavis and Butt-head seem to be to Todd what Stewart is to them. In the episode “Steamroller” it is said that Todd had dropped out of school two years before. Though Todd’s last name has never been mentioned in the series, it was revealed in This Book Sucks. Writers Sam Johnson and Chris Marcil suggested the idea of a character that the lads idolize even though he beats them up; Judge based Todd on a teenaged bully who lived near him and terrified him as a kid.
- Stewart Stevenson (Adam Welsh from 1993 to 1997 and by Mike Judge in 2011) – A nerdy, wimpy, obese boy who admires Beavis and Butt-Head and mistakenly believes they are his best friends. Beavis and Butt-Head relate to him mostly as Todd relates to them. They bully Stewart and take advantage of his attempts to befriend them, which usually results in him getting in trouble for something actually done by Beavis and Butt-Head. Stewart wears a blackWinger t-shirt as a not-so-subtle reinforcement of his wimpiness (as opposed to the “coolness” of Beavis and Butt-Head wearing Metallica and AC/DC t-shirts). It is implied he lost his virginity in Holy Cornholio. Beavis, who was being worshipped by a group of fanatics at the time, passed on his followers to Stewart, who took him to have sex with the women of the cult.