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Meet Lydia Deetz, a Perky Goth girl attending a private school in a sleepy little Connecticut town while trying to deal with her well-meaning but eccentric parents. One day she comes across Beetlejuice, the manic self-described "Ghost With the Most", who befriends her and whisks her off from her ordinary life into frequent adventures in the Cloudcuckooland world of the afterlife. Hilarity Ensues.
Based on the hit movie of the same name, the animated series was produced by Nelvana and aired for several years on ABC and Fox Kids. Its original run lasted from September, 1989 to May, 1992. A total of 65 episodes. It bore only a passing resemblence to the movie: Barbara and Adam Maitland, the straight-laced protagonists of the movie, were eliminated entirely, the title character's name was changed from Betelgeuse to "Beetlejuice", he and Lydia were best friends rather than enemies, and the stories largely took place in Beetlejuice's ghostly home dimension, the Neitherworld.
However, it kept a lot of the same manic energy and clever visuals as the movie. Also, Tim Burton remained involved as a producer, and Danny Elfman did the theme music. Therefore, it's generally considered one of the better film-to-TV translations. Beetlejuice remained largely a Jerkass, though now a family-friendly, usually well-meaning Jerkass.
The Animated Adaptation TV series provides examples of:
- Achilles Heel: Beetlejuice's powers won't work unless his body is whole. If he's missing his head or his feet (to name but two examples), he's all but helpless. Cleanliness is also like Kryptonite to him.
- A Day in the Limelight: Some of the other characters in the show occasionally have episodes that focus on them, although Beetlejuice and Lydia are still involved.
- All Just a Dream: Subverted in one episode with a The Wizard of Oz parody. After apparently clicking her heels (repeating "Ripple dissolve to scene 326" instead of "There's no place like home") and returning home, Lydia wakes up and realizes what a sappy dream she had. Beetlejuice then appears to tease her about it. The subversion comes when Lydia asks how Beetlejuice could know what she dreamed about, and why everything was still in black and white. It then turns out that Beetlejuice was the one who was dreaming. Needless to say, he's mortified to have dreamt about a lot of the "cute" stuff that occurred in the Neitherworld's version of Oz.
- Alpha Bitch: Claire Brewster.
- Alternate Continuity: From the movie, starting with Beetlejuice not being a complete jerk.
- Anti-Hero: Beetlejuice is a type III.
- Author Appeal: Tim Burton's love of spirals and stripes has been noted in his entry on this trope's main page, and he indulges it here. While Beetlejuice wore a variety of outfits in the film, here he almost exclusively wears his black-and-white-striped suit in the cartoon. Almost all of his disguises and transformations involve stripes in one form or another. The sandworms are also colored with purple and blue stripes.
- Berserk Button: Beetlejuice gets very, very angry when Prince Vince starts monopolizing Lydia's time and ultimately asks her to be his Princess. Fortunately, nothing comes of it when Lydia turns the Prince down.
- Pretty much anything in the series that threatens either Lydia's welfare or her relationship to Beetlejuice presses his Berserk Button, really.
- Berserker Tears: "I CAN'T GET HER OUTTA MY MIND!!"
- Big Damn Heroes: Beetlejuice pulls this off every now and again when Lydia is in real danger.
- Bizarro Universe: "Dr. Beetle and Mr. Juice".
- Black Sheep: Beetlejuice qualifies as this, as proven in the episodes where Lydia meets his parents—pleasant, hard-working clean freaks.
- Blah Blah Blah
- Butt Monkey: Ginger the Spider, Jacques (the French skeleton), and The Monster Across the Street (and his dog, Poopsie) are often tricked or screwed over a lot by Beetlejuice.
- Catch Phrase: It's SHOWTIME!
- Examples. You know I hate 'em.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The cartoon adaptation doesn't have Juno or the Maitland couple (the couple played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) like the movie version did.
- Clingy Jealous Guy: A platonic(ish) variant. Beetlejuice definitely has shades of this, whenever anyone else wants to seriously occupy Lydia's time (Prince Vince being a notable example).
- Cloudcuckoolander: Lydia's mother Delia borders on this trope. She actually seems to like the Neitherworld, and her bizarre art is extremely popular there.
- Cool Car: The Dragster of Doom, a.k.a. "Doomie."
- Convicted by Public Opinion: Subverted when Beetlejuice is framed for some sort of crime and everyone automatically assumes he's guilty. The subversion comes when you remember that Beetlejuice has already pulled so many pranks that it's a lot easier to understand just why the rest of the Neitherworld immediately blames him whenever something goes wrong.
- Cross Dresser: Beetlejuice, who often disguises himself as "Betty Juice" to pass off as one of Lydia's girlfriends.
- Curse Cut Short: In the episode "Robbin Juice of Sherweird Forest", the minstrel character Alan Airedale sings songs about Beetlejuice that alternate from praise to a type of "The Villain Sucks" Song. One particular verse:
"Robin Hood he can't be trusted, Robin Hood, his heart is rusted. Robin Hood he's got no class, Robin Hood is such an..."
*BJ breaks his lute over his head*
- Dark Is Not Evil: Beetlejuice is a troublemaker, but his pranks mainly center around pulling some sort of con scheme or otherwise driving the other residents of the Neitherworld crazy (he even has a license to drive people crazy). The rest of the Neitherworld ranges from freaky to downright bizarre, but it's otherwise a pretty fun place.
- Do It Yourself Plumbing Project: Charles insists on trying-and failing-to fix a leaky faucet in one episode. To earn money to buy one of Lydia's photos, Beetlejuice disguises himself as a repairman named Mr. Beetleman, and offers to fix it himself. Of course, he's even worse at it than Charles.
Mr. Beetleman: Where's the drip?
Delia: In the kitchen, trying to fix the leak.
- Don't Try This At Home: When he's about to jump into a small glass of water from 15,000 feet in the air, Beetlejuice takes a moment to warn the kids watching at home about his stunt:
Beetlejuice: Whatever you do, don't try this at home, because I Have No Idea What I'm Doing.
- Doomy Dooms of Doom: The Dragster of Doom.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Beetlejuice loves playing pranks on Lydia's parents, but he'll only go so far. Boris Todeath didn't have that problem, and Beetlejuice ended up actually protecting Lydia's father when one of Boris's pranks threatened to make him a ghost.
- Every Proper Lady Should Curtsy: Lydia at the end of the Fox series opening.
- Evil Laugh: Beetlejuice does this every now and again. Lydia did it along with him when they turned into Mad Scientists while building Doomie.
- Evil Twin: Actually, Beetlejuice is the "evil" twin; it's his brother who is cheerful, polite, and good-natured to a fault. Beetlejuice doesn't like him very much.
- Expy: Prince Vince is based off of Vincent Malloy from Tim Burton's short film Vincent.
- Face Heel Revolving Door/Heel Face Revolving Door: In a Robin Hood parody, BJ steals from the corrupt Sheriff of Rotting-Ham and gives to the poor, but begins to keep more for himself, until he is the wealthiest person in the village. The sheriff, now destitute, becomes a vigilante to steal from BJ and give to the poor.
- Fantastic Voyage
- Flanderization: Lydia's dad. "Large crowds make me nervous! Being nervous makes me nervous!"
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: And lots of it.
- Gory Discretion Shot: A humorous variant occurs whenever Beetlejuice eats a bug.
- Hanging Judge: Judge Mental
- Hartman Hips: Delia
- Hidden Heart of Gold: Beetlejuice has one of these, although the absolute last thing he wants is for anyone but Lydia to find out about it.
- Hostage for Macguffin: Lydia was once held as "collateral" to make Beetlejuice pay his credit card bills.
- Hurricane of Puns: Lots of that too.
- Inconvenient Summons: Beetlejuice is a rock-star so famous that fans can't stop chanting his name...which proves problematic when Lydia is in a bind.
- Intergenerational Friendship: Lydia and Beetlejuice.
- In the Name of the Moon: Lydia has a magical incantation she recites to summon Beetlejuice and change her own clothing. Usually, however, she skips the long version and just says his name three times. She uses the full incantation multiple times throughout the series:
Lydia: Though I know I must be wary
Still I venture someplace scary
Ghostly haunting I turn loose
Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!
- Presumably, this full incantation is unnecessary, and just serves to remind us that Lydia has a flair for the dramatic.
- Involuntary Shapeshifting: Beetlejuice, based on wordplay in his dialogue.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Beetlejuice borders on this trope, although he'd probably say he has a heart of mold instead. Aside from his affection for Lydia, he also seems to have a soft spot for Lydia's parents, and also likes Jacques, which mortifies Beetlejuice when Jacques finds out.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: Although several episodes were distributed on VHS, only three have ever been released on DVD, and there is still no confirmed plan to release the series.
- Kick The Bitch: Claire Brewster is Beetlejuice's most common target, but she usually has it coming.
- Kid with the Leash: Lydia is the only person Beetlejuice will willingly listen to.
- Large Ham: Beetlejuice as a general rule, but in some episodes more than others. The episode where he becomes a rock star by making armpit noises is a particularly strong example.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Beetlejuice delivers this to Claire Brewster on a regular basis.
- Let's Get Dangerous: Most of the time, Beetlejuice is a lazy, conniving prankster. But if Lydia is ever in any real danger, or if someone like Claire Brewster has insulted her, BJ will show just how he got the title of Ghost With The Most.
- Let's Meet the Meat/Raising the Steaks
- Lighter and Softer
- Light Is Not Good/Sugar Bowl: The Neitherworld's prison system consists of a Candyland-like environment run by an Expy of Little Bo Peep, where malcontents are "rehabiliated" into cute, sweet and playful things. Needless to say, Beetlejuice is absolutely terrified of the place.
- Literal Genie: Beetlejuice's Involuntary Shapeshifting.
- Mad Scientist: Beetlejuice occasionally becomes this, such as when he made his "New U" cologne and when he built Doomie. Lydia became a female version when she helped BJ build Doomie.
- Magic Spiderweb Poncho
- Media Watchdog
- Medium Awareness
- Medium Blending: Television commercials are CGI animated.
- Monster Clown: Scuzzo the Clown, as well as his brother Fuzzo.
- Morality Chain: Lydia is this for Beetlejuice on occasion.
- Mythology Gag: Several scenes and in-jokes from the movie, including Beetlejuice singing Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat Song" in the debut and in one episode, he hocks into his jacket.
- Lydia sings "Day Oh" in the debut episode as well.
- She also rode her bike pass the bridge where the Maitlands crashed.
- Nephewism: Beetlejuice sometimes disguises himself as Lydia's nonexistent cousin B.J. in order to tag along on Deetz family outings. Her parents, though mildly confused, never seem to outright object or question this. Charles and Delia apparently each consider "Cousin B.J." to be the other's nephew.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Aside from shapeshifting according to what he says, Beetlejuice sometimes displays other bizarre powers, such as controlling inanimate objects, using his shapeshifting power on other ghosts, and making Claire grow a thick black moustache, among other things.
- The Not-So-Harmless Punishment: In one episode, Beej and Lydia (and others) are playing baseball in the Neitherworld. At some point it is announced that the game has changed to "Sudden Death", meaning that the losers will have to stand in the "Losers' Circle", an area enclosed by a rope. Beej is unimpressed (as he's been dorking around the entire game anyway) until the "circle" opens up into a fang-lined maw that belches a fireball into his face.
- Overly Long Gag: All throughout the episode "Beauty and the Beetle": "Grim-diana BOOOOOOOOONNNNEESSSSS! *Cue the giant boulder* This happens a grand total of six times over the course of one episode. Beetlejuice lampshades it, too, the last time it happens:
Beetlejuice: Talk about a running gag.
- Papa Wolf: Picking on Lydia is a bad idea. A very bad idea. And when she's in real danger, Beetlejuice will do whatever it takes to rescue her.
- Parental Bonus: The Shakespeare and Poe episodes, among others.
- Perky Goth: Lydia
- The Pig Pen: Beetlejuice himself.
- Rich Bitch: Claire Brewster, again.
- Shotgun Wedding: Gender Flipped when Bully the Crud attempts to force Lydia to marry him. Naturally, she's not too keen on the idea, but she's forced to give in when Bully pulls his guns on her.
- Shout-Out: While training for a fitness contest, Jacques -- who is himself a shout out to Jack LaLanne -- copies a scene out of the Rocky franchise. This is just the tip of the iceberg, mind you.
- Standard Snippet: Also Sprach Zarathustra appears frequently.
- Recycled: the Series
- Running Gag: Several.
- "Grimdiana Boooooooooooones!" (Is run over by a boulder)
- And a one-episode gag - "Brink-a-doom!"
- Screwed by the Network: Subverted in real life, as both ABC and FOX aired this show simultaneously in the 1991-92 season (FOX aired it on weekdays and ABC aired it on weekends), making it the first Saturday morning cartoon to do so. The show's end in 1992 is normal, considering that most cartoons based on popular movies don't last very long (The Real Ghostbusters is the only exception). On the show, some of the episodes were thin metaphors about Executive Meddling and Moral Guardians trying to make Beetlejuice's life (aka the show) Lighter and Softer for audiences.
- Fox's first-run of the show was very scattered, running all new episodes for the first month, then throwing in repeats up until November when it went into all repeats until February 1992. New episodes plus repeats aired through February sweeps, then the final four new episodes aired the first week of May.
- The Slacker: Beetlejuice dreads the idea of having to get a job, preferring to play pranks on people and con them out of their money. It's subverted in one episode when he gets a job as a scarecrow on a beetle farm and proves to be very good at it. In part, it was because he wanted to eat the beetles himself, but also because he had a lot of fun using his powers to screw around with the birds who were trying to eat the beetles first.
- Stalker Shrine: A humorously innocent variation on the trope. Beetlejuice's adoration of Lydia extends so far that he's built her a shrine... in his head.
Will Power: He thinks about you all the time! See? *pointing* His shrine to Lydia!
- Sugar Bowl: Nether-nether Land, the only place the ghouls truly dread.
- Take That: "Uncle B.J.'s Roadhouse", a parody of Pee Wee's Playhouse. See also Goody Two Shoes, who represents the Neitherworld Bureau of Sweetness and Prissiness, or BS&P for short.
- Three Shorts: Some episodes were made up of two eleven-minute shorts, while others were full-length twenty-two minute stories. The episode with Uncle B.J.'s Roadhouse was the first and only episode to screen three shorts. The other shorts that episode contained were Scarecrow and The Son Dad Never Had.
- Transformation Sequence: Lydia
- True Art Is Incomprehensible: Delia's weird sculpture art makes her a laughingstock in the real world, but the residents of the Neitherworld love it.
- Twenty-Four-Hour Party People: In the Neitherworld, you can buy them in cans.
- Useless Superpowers: Beetlejuice's powers are only good for "juicing" (pranking) people. This is good when Acceptable Targets are present. It is not good when one, say... needs stock for a bake sale.
Beetlejuice: "Do not dunk?" (dunks Neitherworld cookie in milk) "Instant Monster, Just Add Milk!"
- Vanishing Village: The episode "Brinkadoom."
- Villain Team-Up: Several antagonists from past episodes team up to get revenge on Beetlejuice by tricking him into making himself fall apart, at which point his powers won't work and he's easy prey.
- They form the Society of Neitherworld Outlaws, Thugs, Rogues and Goons (if memory serves.) Or, S.N.O.T.R.a.G!
- Visual Pun: Beetlejuice's Involuntary Shapeshifting.
- Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Subverted in one episode. Charles Deetz genuinely loves Lydia, but it's clear that there are times when he wishes he had a son to play with. Beetlejuice uses this opportunity to appear as Cousin B.J., and offers to spend time with Charles. After a few hours with Cousin B.J., Chuck realizes just how good he has it with Lydia.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Or SandWorms, in Beetlejuice's case.
- Wonderful Life: A rare example of being both subverted and played straight when it seems like everyone in the Neitherworld is better off without Beetlejuice, but it turns out that Lydia is miserable in the real world. BJ immediately thinks that he can just become part of her life and make her happy again, but is informed by his guide that he's allowed no contact with her. Cue the demand to have everything put back the way it was.
- Writer's Block: In one episode, William Shakespeare shows up suffering from this.