17 Facts About Beavis and Butt-head
Soon after Beavis and Butt-head made its debut on MTV, my parents were among the many who forbid their children from watching it (Married...With Children was the other show I made sure to not recite any lines from in front of the two). While some people considered it the end of the civilized world, Time’s respected critic Kurt Andersen lauded its irreverence and famously wrote that it “may be the bravest show ever run on national television.” Its over 200 original episodes, books (yes, plural), movie, and soundtrack were enjoyed by millions from its debut on March 8, 1993, through its original end in 1997, and again during its brief return in 2011.
1. BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD GOT THEIR START ON LIQUID TELEVISION.
Mike Judge went from teaching himself animation and playing bass for Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets to having one of his cartoons played on MTV’s animation showcase program Liquid Television in one year’s time. Cartoon short Milton, the origin of the character from his live-action cult classic Office Space, appeared in a 1991 episode. In 1992, Beavis and Butt-head made their loud, violent first impression in his short Frog Baseball. MTV then paid Judge for the rights to the two characters and ordered 65 four-minute cartoons.
2. MTV PULLED THE SHOW SOON AFTER IT BEGAN.
Not due to any controversies, but because Mike Judge and the animation staff couldn’t keep up with the demand for new material, forcing MTV to stop airing the show entirely two weeks after it premiered. It made its return over six weeks later on May 17th with “Scientific Stuff” and “Good Credit.”
3. MIKE JUDGE IMPROVISED MOST OF THE DIALOGUE DURING THE MUSIC VIDEOS.
Judge voiced virtually all of the characters on the show besides Daria and Stewart, and was one of the handful that made up the writing staff. He opted to add to his workload by winging it when it came to Beavis and Butt-head's taste-making opinions on music. Time was saved on the animation for the music video commentaries by having an editor take footage from earlier episodes and sync it up with new mouth positions.
4. BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD WERE NAMED AFTER KIDS THAT LIVED IN MIKE JUDGE’S NEIGHBORHOOD.
Bobby Beavis was “kind of an athletic kid” that lived three blocks from Judge while he was in college, and not similar to the character with the Metallica shirt christened with his surname. There was also a 12 year old who called himself “Iron Butt” (because he claimed to never get injured from a kick to the posterior) who had a friend called “Butt-head.”
5. ALL REFERENCES TO FIRE WERE REMOVED PERMANENTLY AFTER THE SHOW WAS BLAMED FOR A DEATH.
In October 1993, a 5-year-old boy set fire to his Ohio home which killed his 2-year-old sister. Their mother claimed Beavis’ fire-making and blatant spoken love of arson was responsible. MTV’s quick response was to only air the show after 10:30pm and to wipe all fire references from all of the previous episodes—only fans who taped the offending episodes on their VCRs have proof that the word was ever uttered. “Fire” was banned for the rest of the series’ original run, but it was allowed again in 2011.
6. PRISON OFFICIALS IN OKLAHOMA BANNED THE SHOW.
There were also documented reports of South Dakota schools outlawing Beavis and Butt-head-related clothing.
7. A SENATOR REFERRED TO BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD AS ‘BUFFCOAT AND BEAVER.’
Soon after the fatal fire accident, Senator Ernest F. Hollings, a Democrat from South Carolina, spoke at a Senate hearing as chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Hollings attempted to argue that TV broadcasters needed to be forced to clamp down on their offensive programming and used the most controversial show at the time as a specific example. Or at least tried to.
8. MARLON BRANDO WATCHED THE SHOW.
According to Mike Judge, Johnny Depp told him that Depp and Marlon Brando would imitate Beavis and Butt-head, with Depp as Beavis, and Brando as Butt-head. This occurred when the two worked together during 1994’s Don Juan DeMarco.
9. DAVID LETTERMAN WAS THE VOICE OF THE MOTLEY CRUE ROADIE THAT MIGHT BE BUTT-HEAD’S FATHER IN 'BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD DO AMERICA' .
10. MATT GROENING WAS ALSO A FAN.
The creator of The Simpsons claimed that he liked the show because it took “the heat off Bart Simpson being responsible for the downfall of western civilization.”
11. BEAVIS ALMOST SAID SOMETHING TOO CLEVER.
Judge told The New York Times in 1993 that one of the big challenges of the show was to keep the two in character and, therefore, dumb. An original line had Beavis telling his classmates that they had “Beavis envy” because he received a school pass. It was cut because it almost made the 14-year-old with the underbite too smart. In 2011, Judge admitted to “cheating” and probably making them smarter than they are during the music video commentaries.
12. THEY WERE AT BUTT-HEAD’S HOUSE.
While it isn’t officially canon, Judge responded to a reporter’s assumption that the two were always at Butt-head’s abode by saying he “always imagined” that to be the case.
13. DARIA WAS CREATED WITH JANEANE GAROFALO AND DARLENE CONNOR IN MIND.
The character was created after then MTV President Judy McGrath expressed concern about the show’s lack of smart or female characters. Garofalo and Sara Gilbert’s Roseanne character were the models for Daria. Morgendorffer was the maiden name of the show writer David Felton's mother, and was deemed perfect for the new character.
14. BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD WERE ON THE COVER OF ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE THREE TIMES.
Their first appearance in 1993 ended up being the best-selling issue of the magazine that year.
15. THE TWO STARRED IN THEIR OWN LIVE-ACTION THANKSGIVING SPECIAL WITH KURT LODER.
The night before their (first) series finale, “Beavis and Butt-head Are Dead," MTV put Beavis and Butt-head in charge of broadcasting the Thanksgiving Day Parade, then later put them at a dinner table with the veteran MTV News broadcaster. The one hour special only aired on television once.
16. THE SHOW ENDED DUE TO CREATIVE BURNOUT.
Mike Judge ran on empty towards the end of the show’s original run in 1997, admitting to going home to his wife and kids instead of staying in the studio to fix a script that he thought wasn’t any good. Judge had co-created King of the Hill with Greg Daniels and had begun work on the Fox animated series during this time.
17. KANYE WEST WANTED TO BE ON THE SHOW, BUT IT WASN’T ALLOWED TO HAPPEN.
In contrast to the more innocent nineties, Mike Judge and staff had to get authorization from all of the parties involved in a music video to have it appear on a 2011 Beavis and Butt-head episode. West himself wanted to have a video of his featured on the show, but another credited songwriter on the undisclosed track declined immortality.