L-r, Butt-Head and Beavis play their favorite instrument, the air guitar.


Original medium: TV animation
Seen on: MTV
First appeared: 1992
Creator: Mike Judge
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There was a time when you couldn't say "butt-head" on television. Now, there's a TV character known and perhaps even loved by millions, who is named Butt-Head.

Butt-Head and his partner, Beavis, were first seen in …

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… a cartoon short titled Frog Baseball, which was shown on the cable channel MTV on Sept. 4, 1992. There, they were identified as Bobby and Billy, and who's to say those aren't their real first names? It concerned a pair of 15-year-old social dropouts experimenting on a frog with a baseball bat. It apparently wasn't intended as the opening shot of a series, just an entry in MTV's Liquid Television. But on May 17, 1993, the two were back, headlining a show of their own. Over the next few years, more than 200 episodes were made.

Unlike most TV cartoons of the previous couple of decades, when parent action groups were at the peak of their power, this one went in for anti-social themes. Beavis and Butt-Head would make extremely juvenile comments, far too puerile to be as lewd as intended, about the music videos they constantly watched. They'd do stupid, dangerous things like set fires and play with live hand grenades, to the point where they were severely criticized early on for demonstrating "imitatable behavior" to children (which led to advisories that kids weren't their target audience). They'd occasionally slip a french-fried dead rat into the food at the Burger World where they worked. They were bored and apathetic in school, and not much different anywhere else. They lacked strength, intelligence, heroism, and just about every other positive character trait.

The MTV audience thought they were hilarious. Theirs weren't the kind of cartoons the '90s MTV generation had watched in their earlier years, like Care Bears, The Get Along Gang and My Little Pony, but had much in common, thematically at least, with South Park and Ren & Stimpy.

The characters were created and designed by Mike Judge, who also did both protagonists' voices. Judge was later responsible for the animated sitcom King of the Hill and several animated segments on Saturday Night Live.

Aside from the many, many episodes of the regular TV series, Beavis and Butt-Head starred in five video games, the first of which came out in 1994. Their Christmas special, Beavis & Butt-Head Do Christmas, was first shown on December 19, 1995. Their feature-length film, Beavis & Butt-Head Do America, came out December 20, 1996. There was a comic book version, which Marvel published for 28 issues between 1994 and '96. There, unlike most animated characters Marvel licensed, they entertained guest stars such as Spider-Man, The Punisher, The Black Widow and Devil Dinosaur. They even had a spin-off — one of their classmates, Daria Morgendorffer (voiced by Tracy Grandstaff), got her own show in 1997 and a feature-length film in 2002.

Fans of Beavis & Butt-Head seem to have attention spans longer than those of the two "heroes", but not infinite ones. The final episode of the TV show, titled Beavis & Butt-Head Are Dead, was shown November 28, 1997, and the last video game, Beavis & Butt-Head: Bunghole in One, was released Feb. 5, 1999. They had a very good run, but not much new material about them has been seen in recent years.


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