A Look Back At Beavis & Butt-Head And The Failed Revival

Beavis & Butt-Head Retrospective

Before we had cartoons like “South Park” and “Family Guy”, there was another cartoon that parents did not want their children watching. This cartoon first premiered in 1993 and it was called “Beavis And Butt-Head.”

The show was about two uneducated high school students getting into all kinds of trouble. Most of the trouble they found themselves in was because of the poor decisions they made.

The Origins Of Beavis & Butt-Head

The original run of the show was between 1993-1997 and every episode had between 7-8.5 million viewers watching. Beavis and Butt-Head almost ended as soon as it began because two weeks after it premiered in 1993, it was taken off MTV.

It wasn’t due to offensive content or low ratings. The reason production had to take a break is because Mike Judge could not keep up with the demand. Two weeks after getting greenlit, it took a six-week break before a new episode premiered.

Mike Judge, Creator of Beavis and Butthead
American animator, Mike Judge.

The first few episodes involved Beavis and Butt-Head collecting for charity, donating blood then while visiting an aquarium on a field trip, Beavis and Butt-Head get the idea to fill the holes of a dolphin with balloons.

Judge himself has claimed that he doesn’t understand why anyone likes the first two episodes because he isn’t happy with the animation.

The Simple Recipe For A Beavis & Butthead Episode

Each episode consisted of two different segments. One part featured Beavis & Butt-Head watching music videos at home providing commentary during the music videos.

Mike Judge who did the voices for Beavis & Butt-Head didn’t have a planned script for when they commented on videos. Mike Judge came up with that commentary off the top of his head. They saved time by using older animations and worked on the lip-syncing to match what Mike Judge was saying.

The second part involved Beavis & Butt-Head getting into some kind of trouble.

Popularity Of The Show Quickly Led To A Movie

In 1996 during the height of Beavis & Butt-Head’s popularity, Beavis & Butt-Head had their movie in theaters called Beavis & Butt-Head Do America. The movie had a $12 million budget for production.

Beavis And Butt-Head Do America

The weekend this movie came out, it debuted at #1 and made over $20 million. While in theaters it grossed over $63 million.

The movie also won the BMI Film & Music Award from BMI Film & TV Awards.  It was nominated for three other awards but did not win any of them. On Rotten Tomatoes, The movie has a 72% rating and many professional movie reviewers have had favorable opinions of it.

Beavis & Butt-Head Spin-Offs?

Beavis and Butt-Head were responsible for the spinoff show: Daria. Daria was the smartest girl in Beavis and Butt-Head’s class and also thought Beavis and Butt-Head didn’t deserve to be in the same world as her.

Some people claim King Of The Hill was also a spin-off. While there is no evidence to suggest it was an official spin-off, it was the next project Mike Judge worked on after Beavis and Butt-Head. King Of The Hill is the reason Mike Judge had nothing to do with the production of Daria.

The End Of The Show

So what was the reason behind Beavis and Butt-Head ending in 1997? Mike Judge had an interview with the Los Angeles Times and Judge said that he was burned out creatively which is why the show ended. In the same interview: Mike Judge admits that he kept the show running longer than he wanted. He would have ended it sooner if it was up to him.

The Failed Return of Beavis & Butt-Head

In 2011 rumors started circulating that Beavis and Butt-Head were returning to television, and they were true. It came back in October of 2011 under the title “Mike Judge’s Beavis & Butt-Head”. Unfortunately, the show was only on the air for two months before being taken off and never returning.

What were the reasons behind this revival lasting two months and not getting a second season? There were a few that could have contributed to the failed reboot

One factor may have been the ratings. At first, Beavis and Butt-Head had promising ratings after a 14-year absence when the new season premiere brought in 3.3 million viewers.

In the advertising demographic of people between 18-49, Beavis and Butt-Head’s new premier scored 1.8. No other show on the same night scored that high in the demographics.

Unfortunately, the fans did not stick around because the final episode of the 2011 season only had 919,000 viewers and getting a 0.5 in the 18-49 demographic.

But was the cancellation due to ratings alone? Perhaps. However, there had to be a reason that people who were originally hyped for the show stopped supporting the show. 

Some people claim that Beavis and Butt-Head lost their edge. Beavis and Butt-Head seemed to not be pushing the envelope and some people thought this was an easy cash grab for Mike Judge.

The Real Problem With The 2011 Version

The real problem with the attempted resurrection was the things that offended people in the 1990s didn’t offend people in 2011. In some cases, they could even be considered tame.

While the show came back in 2011, it still looked like the show was operating with a 1990’s mindset. Beavis and Butt-Head were still promoting Metallica and AC/DC on their shirts which fell in popularity since the last time Beavis and Butt-Head were on the air.

The antics that Beavis and Butt-Head got into also seemed old and they weren’t going to be grabbing the same attention they did because we now had shows like “South Park” and “Family Guy.” So the same things that got Beavis & Butt-Head noticed weren’t going to work in 2011.

MTV had Also Changed

The show also lacked some of its original formula as, during the commentary segments, Beavis and Butt-Head commented on only a few music videos. In the 1990’s MTV was known for showing music videos. 

By 2011, MTV had become a reality show channel with programs like Jersey Shore, True Life, and 16 & Pregnant. When Beavis and Butt-Head came back in 2011, they spent a lot of time watching MTV’s current shows and while the writers tried, that is not what fans were hoping to see.

The show might not even be at fault at all. In 2014, Mike Judge said

“That kind of caught up in some kind of changeover of the top brass of MTV. I’m kind of trying to sell it to another network, and I haven’t [yet]. I’m just happy doing this one right now.”

So it does sound that Judge had a definite interest in the continued success of the show.

Sometimes when executives come in, the old shows no longer have a network to show new episodes. In 2001, the AOL/Time Warner merger is what killed WCW because the new executives wanted nothing to do with professional wrestling and didn’t want it on their TV networks. Beavis and Butt-Head could have been taken off MTV due to similar circumstances.

Will Beavis & Butt-Head Get Another Chance?

Well, Yes! After the failed revival, it looked like Beavis and Butt-Head were dead forever. However, there might be hope for fans because Comedy Central is planning to revive the show again.

Mike Judge wants to imagine the show going in a different direction so it doesn’t get the same low ratings it did in 2011. Mike Judge also said the world will be a Gen-Z world but he wants the show to include subjects that would relate to both Gen-X adults and Gen-Z kids.

Will this reimaging of the show bring back the older fans and attract new ones? The date these new seasons will air on television has not been announced. However Comedy Central said they plan to release two seasons of the show so fans of Beavis and Butt-Head will be getting more soon.

Fingers crossed.

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