Beetlejuice (TV series)

This article is about the TV series. For the film, see Beetlejuice. For the video game, see Beetlejuice (video game).

The show's title card, depicting Lydia Deetz (left) and Beetlejuice (right)
Based on The screen story by Michael McDowell and Larry Wilson
Developed by Tim Burton
Directed by Robin Budd
Voices of
Theme music composer Danny Elfman
Opening theme "Beetlejuice Title Theme" by Danny Elfman
Ending theme "Beetlejuice Ending Theme" by Danny Elfman
Composer(s) Tom Szczesniak
Country of origin
  • Canada
  • United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 94 (109 segments) (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor Warner Bros. Television
Original network
Original release September 9, 1989 – December 6, 1991

Beetlejuice is an American-Canadian animated television series which ran from September 9, 1989, to October 26, 1991, on ABC and, on Fox from September 9, 1991, to December 6, 1991. Loosely based on the 1988 film of the same name, it was developed and executive-produced by the film's director, Tim Burton. The series focus on the life of Goth girl Lydia Deetz and her undead friend Beetlejuice as they explore The Neitherworld, a wacky afterlife realm inhabited by monsters, ghosts, ghouls and zombies. Danny Elfman's theme for the film was arranged for the cartoon by Elfman himself.


Episode formula

Episodes generally centered on the ghostly con-man Beetlejuice, his best (and only true) friend Lydia, and their adventures together in both the Neitherworld and the "real world", a fictional New England town called Peaceful Pines ("Winter River" in the film). As in the film, Lydia could summon Beetlejuice out of the Neitherworld (or go there herself) by calling his name three times, sometimes as part of a set chant:

"Though I know I should be wary,
Still I venture someplace scary;
Ghostly hauntings I turn loose ...
Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!"

Occasionally, there are other effects from that chant, such as Lydia's room changing to a gothic castle. On a few occasions, other people and ghosts went to the Neitherworld or the living world, either when Lydia takes them with her by chanting Beetlejuice's name, or presumably through a door that connects Lydia's and Beetlejuice's homes.

In only a very few episodes is Lydia not present, those being wholly escapades of Beetlejuice in the Neitherworld.

The series' humor relied heavily on sight gags, wordplay, and allusiveness. Many episodes, especially towards the end of the run, were parodies of famous films (such as Brigadoon, Shane, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Wizard of Oz, It's a Wonderful Life, and Moby Dick), books, and TV shows (such as Masterpiece Theatre, Pee-wee's Playhouse and The Twilight Zone). The episode "Brides of Funkenstein" was based on an idea submitted by a then-teenage girl, who was a fan of the show.[2]

Throughout the series, Beetlejuice would often try to scam residents of the Neitherworld — and, sometimes, the "real world" as well (Lydia's parents were occasional unwitting victims of his pranks) — by various means, from "baby-sitting" (in which he literally sits on the grotesque Neitherworld babies) to trying to beat them in an auto race.

Series run

The series was a breakout hit for ABC in its initial season, and later became one of the first animated series to air on Fox's weekday afternoon children's lineup. This led to a situation whereby Beetlejuice was being seen Monday through Friday on Fox while still remaining on ABC's Saturday morning schedule, making it one of the few shows in American television history to be aired concurrently on two different broadcast networks. Beetlejuice has aired in re-runs on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network (where the film was a frequent presence), and aired on Warner Bros. and AOL's new broadband internet channel Toontopia TV. The series aired on Teletoon Retro in Canada from fall 2009 until June 2011, but came back in April 2013.


Main characters


A ghost and the main and title character of the show. He enjoys eating bugs and is known throughout the Neitherworld as a prankster. He is the oldest son of Gnat and Bee Juice (who nag him to get a job and to keep clean), and he has a "disgustingly cheerful" younger brother, called Donny Juice, who whether he realizes it or not gets on his older brother's nerves. Beetlejuice takes more after his mother in looks, (but he is taller than her), and inherits his crooked teeth from his father. Beetlejuice's usual attire consists of a matching suit with vertical black-&-white stripes, a magenta-colored shirt and a black tie, and a pair of beatle boots.

Beetlejuice, (often addressed as Beej or BJ by Lydia), is able to change shape, transform and conjure objects, teleport, and perform other feats of magic, although his powers can be reduced by various circumstances, such as encounters with Sandworms (despite the fact that he has enough power to subdue or repel them with ease) or when his head becomes separated from his body. At times, he must pause to think of exactly how to use his powers to escape a precarious situation unscathed. His name derives from the star, Betelgeuse, which – coincidentally, given Beetlejuice's love of foul odors and "armpit music" – is the armpit of the constellation Orion.

Due to what is later described in the series as his "juice" (his inborn source of magic), whenever Beetlejuice utters aloud a figure of speech, he or his surroundings change to act on the pun (for example, if he says he is tired, he will transform into a tire; if he says he is flat broke, he transforms into a flat disc that falls to the ground and shatters; on one occasion, in reference to his own power, he declares "This literal translation stuff slays me!" and giant letters reading "Literal Translation Stuff" then fall from the sky to crush him). Almost all of his transformations maintain the black-and-white striped pattern he wears on his suit, although sometimes the stripes are coloured depending on the transformation.

Though many Neitherworld denizens have some magic, it is Beetlejuice's greatly superior power (no real cause for it is ever given) that affords him the title—albeit mostly self-asserted—of "The Ghost With The Most" (another line borrowed from the movie); in fact, on multiple occasions Beetlejuice was able to effortlessly subdue a number of supernatural beings, and his dis-corporeal, self-sentient brain once claims that Beetlejuice's power is more than enough to conquer the whole Neitherworld. Because of that power, almost everyone in the Neitherworld is fair game for his pranks, though no more so than he himself, since he is not immune to careless use of his power; for example, he was once tricked by his enemies into saying "I'm coming apart at the seams!" which caused him to break into several pieces, which his enemies then stole and scattered to different places in the Neitherworld rendering him helpless (as Beetlejuice can only use his powers when all of his body parts are together). Also, if all of his body parts are not reassembled by sundown, he will "melt away". Thankfully, with Lydia's help, he soon gathered all of his body parts and was able to "pull himself together". Sometimes Beetlejuice will mix up one of his transformations, due to homophone-based confusion (when Lydia told him to turn into a stake to fight off Count Me-In, he turned into a flank steak).

At times, various of his body parts (including his feet and his entire torso) manifested minds of their own, independent of Beetlejuice's control, with his brain and even his entire skeletal system having abandoning him once. Beetlejuice's main pastime is pulling various pranks on the other denizens of the Neitherworld such as Jacques, Ginger, The Monster Across the Street, Poopsie, the Mayor and in the Living World it is Lydia's rival Claire Brewster, Lydia's parents or sometimes Lydia herself. In the episode "Scary Fools Day", Beetlejuice and Lydia had a Scare War with each of them playing pranks on each other throughout the episode. Lydia only succeeded in scaring Beetlejuice once with the prank that his mother was coming to stay with him for a month, but Beetlejuice successfully pranked Lydia at least four times using his much more effective powers. These pranks included popping out of her desk drawer as a jack-in-the-box, pretending to shred her school essay, disguising himself as Claire Brewster who would be staying with her while her parents were on a six-month holiday, and using a sock puppet and a lamp to create the illusion of a Sandworm. Beetlejuice's pranks on many seem to cause them great embarrassment or damage, but for Lydia however, his pranks are only done to tease her, not to cause harm which shows his care for her. Lydia in fact, seems to be the only person who has any control over Beetlejuice. He even said in one episode he would do anything for her, and she in turn reciprocates his feelings.

Beetlejuice is also constantly coming up with get-rich-quick con schemes to get money, as he dreads having to get a job, and in later episodes (particularly in the second half of the fourth season), Beetlejuice's greediness becomes so intense that he starts to overlook his friends and family, and even when Lydia openly scolds him, Beetlejuice shows unbelievable reluctance or unwillingness to give up of his schemes. His favourite foods are insects of various types, especially beetles, and worms. In one episode, however, he gets a job as a scarecrow on a beetle farm. When he finally gets his chance to eat the beetles one is cheering his name in admiration and Beetlejuice, overcome with guilt finds he cannot eat them. Acts like this prove that Beetlejuice has more of a heart than he likes to think. Beetlejuice also loves causing mayhem in the Neitherworld and being filthy, and this last makes Beetlejuice have a pathological and psychotic hatred of baths (at one point, when Poopsie once waters him (Beetlejuice) with a hose, Beetlejuice went berserk with fury and was nearly going to eat Poopsie). Despite this cynical and childish attitude, Beetlejuice prove to be a profound and insightful person, frequently reciting quotes of philosophical and humanitarian importance (but of course, Beetlejuice rarely follow his own lessons and lectures).

The things he hates include Sandworms, cleanliness, and anything "cute". He expresses his likes and dislikes via variations on a single catchphrase, as in "Nerd know I love it!" or " know I hate 'em!"

Beetlejuice's origins are rather fuzzy. On one hand, he frequently claims to be dead, a ghost, (having died centuries before—though his references are often hundreds of years apart), which implies a prior life in the "real world". Yet some episodes show his parents residing in the Neitherworld, and it is apparently there that he was born to and raised by them: there are, for example, photos of him in the Neitherworld as a baby—-showing him with his stock ghostly complexion and bizarre snake-like tongue—-and tales of his youth already manifesting his trademark personality. One possible explanation may relate to his saying something about his parents "making him feel like a kid again" and being unsure how to fix it without his growing up all over again; another is that continuity was not a key importance in the series. He have in fact have been 'reborn' in the Neitherworld after his death in the real world. More likely, the creators probably changed it to avoid scaring off viewers; (in later airings, he is shown in new animation in the opening leaving his grave as a corpse; the original opening for the first three seasons featured him producing stripes on his clothes), or the writers simply were not keeping track of plot details.

A number of times, Beetlejuice interacted with Lydia's parents in the "real world" of Peaceful Pines, always under the name of "Mr. Beetleman", and in a couple of instances, he performed a gender change on himself to become a teenage girl about Lydia's age at Lydia's school as "Mr. Beetleman's" younger female relative "Betty Juice", along with once or twice appearing as the male gender "Cousin BJ" claiming to be on Delia's side of the family. In "Out of My Mind" it's revealed that Beetlejuice loves to pull pranks with spaghetti. In one fourth-season episode ("Substitute Creature"), he appeared at Lydia's school as visiting teacher "Professor Beetleberg".

Lydia Deetz

A Goth girl in her preteens at the start of the series, (she was in the seventh grade, as mentioned in "The Big Face Off", and Lydia's sixth grade graduation speech is mentioned in "Laugh of the Party") and early teens later in the series, (at one point she expressly states that she is 14). Lydia (often addressed as Lyds or Babes by Beetlejuice) is established as being a creative, bright, lively, sharp, yet eccentric young girl, but otherwise Lydia's unique outlook on life makes her stand out from most of the other school-girls, which leaves her feeling out of place and alone in the real world, finding it difficult to fit in well with most of her classmates—leading her to frequently visit and seek out reassurance with her closest best friend, Beetlejuice, in the Neitherworld, where she is accepted and loved for who she is as a person. Her regular outfit at home is a long dark purple top, a pair of black leggings, a light purple and pink sash tied around her waist and black slipper-shoes. Her Neitherworld attire consists of a large spiderweb pattern red poncho, over a full-body black leotard, (the ends of the sleeves are like finger-less gloves, and the bottom of the legs double as footwear).

Lydia is an amateur but nonetheless talented photographer, entomologist, seamstress, and sketch artist with an innate affinity and love for all things gross, scary, weird, surreal and macabre, and who celebrates all that is (in the words of her film incarnation) 'strange and unusual'. Despite her love of all things 'strange and unusual', Lydia is also a positive, well-mannered, friendly and patient girl (being best friends with Beetlejuice is a testament towards Lydia's saint-like patience), and aside from also being emotionally mature for her age (given what her best friend and her parents are like), Lydia can be accredited as being very responsible for a girl in her age group. Lydia is also shown to be a naturalist, shown to feel very strongly about environmental issues (in Spooky Tree, Lydia cut school and chained herself to a tree in protest of the workmen who were about to chop it down). She has also shown that she is extremely gifted with anything mechanical and understands a lot about cars (she knew what to do to build Doomie, while "Bee-gor" Beetlejuice did not know very much, such as what a carburetor is).

In the series, Lydia attends "Miss Shannon's School for Girls" and is in the seventh grade. Lydia is Beetlejuice's best friend; in the events of the pilot episode, Critter Sitters, both she and Beetlejuice have already known each other for a year, as they are celebrating their first anniversary of friendship. Beetlejuice frequently addresses her as "Lyds" or "Babes" rather than "Lydia" though he does use her full name from time to time, like when he is scared, amused, or worried about her; for example: in "Worm Welcome" when Beetlejuice found out that "Worm Your Way" deodorant, causes baby Sandworms to go crazy, he was scared Lydia would be eaten by the baby Sandworm thus in turn, makes himself shout her name. Lydia knows how to summon Beetlejuice to her presence or make her own way to his: by calling his name aloud three times. Occasionally she is shown making use of a longer, more elaborate ritual using the aforementioned four-line chant to bring him out of the Neitherworld or send herself into it, but that seems not to be a necessity.) Unlike Beetlejuice himself, Lydia is almost universally loved by the Neitherworld cast of the show (although some of them are amazed that she hangs out with Beetlejuice of her own free will), and she once won a Neitherworld award for Cutest Mortal to Ever Visit the Neitherworld.

In the pilot episode, Critter Sitters, she is shown summoning him through the longer ritual; as part of the ritual, the colour of her clothing changes, possibly merely by her choice. (Her invariable Neitherworld costume—unless she is in disguise—is a full-length red spiderweb-patterned poncho worn over a black, form-fitting body suit). She is not the only person capable of summoning Beetlejuice — apparently the calling of his name would work for anyone (in one episode, Claire Brewster accidentally summons him) - but Lydia is the only person he will heed (because she is his friend, not because she summons him). Having found herself a kindred spirit in Beetlejuice, Lydia looks up to Beetlejuice in certain ways, admiring his outrageous sense of humour (as she would constantly be seen laughing at his jokes or gags). In one episode, Beetlejuice lent Lydia his funny bone so she could be funny as part of a school show, but without his funny bone Beetlejuice became much more serious and normal; this change in him even disappoints Jacques and Ginger. When Beetlejuice gets his funny bone back however, he becomes his abnormal self again much to Lydia's delight as she hugs him.

In some respects, Lydia sometimes has been seen virtually parenting Beetlejuice. It is frequently made clear that Beetlejuice's dedication to her is a source of Lydia's own self-confidence. Although most of Beetlejuice's antics are motivated by self-amusement rather than malice, he can become genuinely hostile if Lydia is threatened, and any who might conceivably threaten their relationship (such as Prince Vince) are the objects of Beetlejuice's profound jealousy and resentment. In the episode "Out of My Mind", it is learned that Beetlejuice actually has a working shrine to Lydia in his mind. Lydia never shows any romantic interest in anyone else except Prince Vince, and that quickly turns into a straight-out friendship. She has hugged Beetlejuice a few times (if in a sisterly manner), and frequently goes on dates with him (such as to movies) --always, of course, in the Neitherworld (although they did spend Halloween together in the real world in one episode). Also, when she was inside Beetlejuice's head, she gave a donation towards the maintenance of his shrine to her. Her main hobbies, aside from photographing every sort of strange thing and hanging out with Beetlejuice, are drawing, customising dolls and reading literary classics such the collective works of writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King and others.

Supporting characters

Voice cast



Daytime Emmy Awards


Much as with the original 1988 film, various merchandise was released for the Beetlejuice animated series in 1990. This included trading cards by Dart, a sticker album and sticker/activity book by Panini, a jigsaw puzzle by Golden, a coloring book, a lunchbox and thermos set, Valentine's, a party centerpiece by Party Creations, a PC game by Hi Tech Expressions, and six PVC figures available with Burger King Kids' Meals. Kenner, the company behind the film's action figures, had begun developing figures for the animated series, but the project did not come to fruition (at least one prototype for that ill-fated collection has been showcased online).[5]

Home media releases

Warner Bros. released most of the first season of the show on six video-cassettes by December 21, 1993. On September 16, 2008, three episodes ("A-ha", "Skeletons in the Closet", and "Spooky Boo-Tique") were released as bonus features on the film's 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition DVD.[6]

On November 5, 2012, it was announced that Shout! Factory had acquired the rights to the series and planned to release it on DVD in 2013.[7] On May 28, 2013, Shout! Factory released Beetlejuice - The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time as an Amazon exclusive.[8] They also released Season 1 on the same day to retail stores.[9] Seasons 2 & 3 was released on March 18, 2014.[10]

See also


  1. "ABC Adds 'Gummi Bears,' 'Beetlejuice'". The Los Angeles Times. April 25, 1989. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
  2. Gagnon, Dawn (September 25, 1991). "'Beetlejuice' Buys A Madawaska Teen's Idea". Bangor Daily News. USA. pp. 17, 18. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  3. Damian Inwood. "Pi Theatre, Independent Vancouver Theatre >> The Baroness and the Pig". Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved October 30, 2011. That's what Vancouver actresses Diane Brown and Tabitha St. Germain do with the delightful black comedy, The Baroness and the Pig. (...) St. Germain – better known to Vancouver audiences as Paulina Gillis – plays the Baroness as a naïve gentlewoman, full of prissy mannerisms and twittering, bird-like movements.
  4. "Tabitha St. Germain resume" (PDF). Retrieved October 21, 2011. BEETLEJUICE – Prudence/Ensemble – Nelvana
  5. Bickmore, Alex STA: Beetlejuice: Jacque Hardcopy Head (June 1, 2004). A Beetlejuice cartoon shirt was released into stores such as Hot Topic for sale in 2008
  6. "Film @ The Digital Fix - Beetlejuice R1 AE in September". Film @ The Digital Fix.
  7. "Beetlejuice DVD news: DVD Plans for animated Beetlejuice -".
  8. "Beetlejuice DVD news: Press Release for Beetlejuice - The Complete Series -".
  9. "Beetlejuice DVD news: Box Art for Beetlejuice - Season 1 -".
  10. "Beetlejuice DVD news: Announcement for Beetlejuice - Seasons 2 and 3 -".

External links

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