Thanks to the popular TikTok craze, the majority of people nowadays are familiar with Beetlejuice. Back in 2021, that was a big deal. Beetlejuice became highly popular, and content producers have used the phrases to create outrageous makeup transitions and cosplays.
The majority of people are familiar with the film Beetlejuice, in which Michael Keaton plays the famous ghost. But today, we are here to discuss the Emmy Award-winning animation that was based on the early 1990s film that is creepy, weird, and hilarious. The main characters of Beetlejuice: The Animated Series are him and Lydia, his closest friend among humans. Let us start our voyage through the “Neitherworld” now without further ado, shall we?
Beetlejuice: The Animated Series
The cartoon series was created by Patsi Cameron and Tedd Anasti and was based on Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. The series was executive produced by Tim Burton, and his distinctive gothic horror content is clearly evident. Both ABC and Fox Kids carried the show from September 9, 1989, to October 26, 1991, and from September 9, 1991, to December 6, 1991. It had four seasons, totaling 94 episodes (109 segments). Contrary to the movie’s focus on the Deetz family and Beetlejuice helping them evict tenants from their former home after their deaths, the show hardly features the married pair who served as the film’s central characters.
The adventures of Beetlejuice and his best buddy Lydia in the Neitherworld and occasionally in the mortal world—a town in New England named Peaceful Pines—are the focus of the animated series’ episodes. After yelling Beetlejuice’s name three times, Lydia can call him up just like in the movie. Beetlejuice frequently attempted to trick and con the citizens of the mortal world and the Neitherworld by pulling various bizarre pranks on them.
As Beetlejuice loved to refer to himself, “The Ghost With The Most,” he frequently broke the fourth wall and asked the audience for me, as it did at the start of the first episode. The series had puns for days. Sometimes I wonder if the series was made just so they could put in all these puns, which are hilarious but also make you want to roll your eyes.
While the Beetlejuice from the movie didn’t have too many powers, the now kid-friendly Beetlejuice of the animated series could do so many things, most of which he employed just the prank others. He would shapeshift into almost anything, often leading to some hilarious results due to his careless use of powers. Lydia often tends to travel to the Neitherworld herself and is quite the quirky goth girl keeping Beetlejuice in line. It isn’t surprising that the series won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program in 1990.
Exploring the first few episodes and the story of Beetlejuice
The series premiere is titled “Critter Sitters” It starts with both Beetlejuice and Lydia singing the “Day-O” song in their respective worlds, which is a reference to the live-action movie. Lydia summons Beetlejuice by reciting a special incantation and informs him that she will be babysitting Little Arnlow.
This gives Beetlejuice the idea to start babysitting himself, as it was a good chance for him to make money so he could buy a present for Lydia. Back in the Neitherworld, he is given the responsibility of babysitting the Neither-babies, Little Gooey, Porcupine Baby, and Great Huge Baby.
In a very Beetlejuice humor style, he actually sits on the babies-Beetlejuice Babysitting 101. But we all know Beetlejuice might be a great prankster, but he definitely isn’t a great babysitter. Soon, he has to enlist Lydia to help him, and Lydia and Arnlow go to the Neitherworld with Beetlejuice. And as if things couldn’t get worse, Beetlejuice casually says, “I was a baby,” and his powers turn him into an actual baby.
Baby Beetlejuice and the Neither-babies play together and decide to run off to the “Shocking” Mall and cause a lot of trouble and mess. Lydia tries very hard to make Beetlejuice say the words “Beetlejuice is an adult again,” After numerous failed attempts, she manages to succeed. Beetlejuice is finally back to his old self, but the Neither-Police arrives, and Beetlejuice is taken to trial at the Neithercourt for all the mischief he caused.
Unsurprisingly, Beetlejuice is found guilty, and just as Mr. Neithertorture is about to pull the “Guilty” lever, Lydia and Arnlow arrive, and Lydia manages to prove Beetlejuice’s innocence. The Judge rules Beetlejuice innocent, and Mr. Neithertorture pulls the “Innocent” lever. A happy Beetlejuice tap dances as he’s now a free man again. But noticing that the Judge is unhappy, he decides to tell the truth about the incident and the Neither-babies. Mr. Neithertorture pulls the “Guilty” lever, and Beetlejuice hangs onto the cage bars to avoid being eaten by the sandworms below.
Lydia calls out to the Great Huge Baby, and it lifts the Neithercourt ceiling and pulls Beetlejuice’s cage to safety. One of the sandworms burrows through the floor, but the Great Huge Baby takes the Judge’s gravel and hits the sandworm, causing it to run away. Lydia yet again vouches for Beetlejuice and asks for him to be given a second chance. The Judge releases Beetlejuice, and he is free.
The Neither-Attorney orders Beetlejuice to pay for all the mischief he caused, but he just snaps his fingers, and the Neither-babies arrive to cause mischief for Neither-Attorney. Beetlejuice and Lydia finally celebrate and hug each other as Beetlejuice spins his head and Lydia laughs.
The next episode, titled “The Big Face-Off,” follows Lydia and Beetlejuice on another adventure as they try to win a game show. It all began when one fine day; Beetlejuice is lounging in Lydia’s room and planning to savor a bug when Lydia jumps on the bed and causes the bug to fall out of Beetlejuice’s hand. The resulting commotion wakes Lydia’s father, Charles, who comes to check up on her.
Beetlejuice decides to make a scary face, but Charles does not notice, thinking that he might be having a strange dream, and walks away. This incident causes Beetlejuice to be disappointed that Charles wasn’t scared of his face. He decides to return to Neitherworld and sulks before Lydia arrives and suggests that they take part in the 24-hour Gross-out gameshow. Beetlejuice is reluctant to enter as he believes he’s not scary anymore and doesn’t even smell as bad, to which Lydia assures him that he really does.
The duo finally enters the show, and their opponents are returning champions Humphrey and Hanna Scuzzymoto. The host, Barf Biffman, spins the gross-out category wheel, and the first round is Synchronized Slime Swimming. Humphrey and Hanna are the first to go, but their routine doesn’t go well, and they fail to impress the audience.
Beetlejuice and Lydia are kicked into the pool, and the audience is impressed by a sprout of slime coming out of Beetlejuice’s mouth, which earns them the gross-out. The next round is Muck-Sucking, where the contestants have to drink a massive glass of muck through a straw.
As the race begins, Humphrey quickly takes the lead, and as Lydia urges Beetlejuice to do something, he discreetly kicks Hanna to the bottom of the glass, causing her to be sucked into the straw. Somehow Humphrey gets sucked in as well, and the straw explodes, spewing muck everywhere, including the audience, and surprisingly, this earns Humphrey and Hanna a gross-out. The game goes on for a long time, and the teams are tied after 8 rounds of grossness. The final round begins, and much to Beetlejuice’s bad luck, the category is funny faces.
The grand prize for the winning team is announced, which is a two-week “scream vacation” to The Geek Islands. The two teams prepare for the final round as Beetlejuice and Humphrey step into a boxing ring. Beetlejuice goes first and makes his Peeper creeper face, but Humphrey is unaffected as he makes an even bigger face, which makes his eyes explode, called the bloodshot beachball face.
Lydia encourages Beetlejuice to make his best scary face, the one he had made in her bedroom, called the lung tosser. This scheme also fails as Humphrey makes an even bigger and uglier face. Finally, Lydia whispers an idea to Beetlejuice, and he makes the final face, which we can’t see, but it scares everyone, including the host, and grosses out the crowd, earning Lydia and Beetlejuice the win. As the duo exit, it is finally revealed that the face Beetlejuice made was Charles’ half sleepy and ragged, unshaven face, as he admits he had help from a friend.
Episode 3, titled “Skeletons in a Closet,” brings another adventure for our enigmatic duo. On a stormy day, a baby skunk ends up in Lydia’s bedroom. Beetlejuice likes the little stinker, and although Lydia doesn’t, she still decides to give him shelter from the storm. Beetlejuice reminds her of what her mother, Delia, had mentioned about not bringing any worms or animals into the house.
At that very moment, Delia and Charles knock on Lydia’s door. She hides Beetlejuice and the skunk in her closet. Her parents notice the terrible smell, but she plays it off as trying perfume for her father. Deciding that the skunk, who is now dubbed Stinky, can’t be kept a secret very long, the duo decides to take it to Neitherworld. More problems arise, as when Neitherworld denizens lie, they get skeletons in their closets.
Beetlejuice’s closet is overflowing at this point. He tells a few too many, and his closet bursts, releasing all the skeletons. The skeletons immediately run away and start disclosing the truth behind Beetlejuice’s lies, making many people angry with him. One skeleton escapes to the mortal world, to tell the truth to Lydia’s parents. The only way to stop the skeleton is, to tell the truth about something.
Lydia simply asks Beetlejuice who his best friend is, and he answers with her name; the skeletons disappear. The episode ends with Lydia and Beetlejuice releasing Stinky back into the world. This episode was also one of the three episodes featured on the movie’s 20th anniversary DVD and Blu-ray.
Similarly, further episodes of the series showcase various adventures, big and small, extremely hilarious, which happen in Beetlejuice and Lydia’s life. From pranking Lydia’s parents to Lydia’s cat, Percy being kidnapped by witches, and much more. The duo is a joy to watch, especially Beetlejuice, who makes hilarious puns and pulls god-awful pranks on everybody, most of them on himself.
Looking at the major protagonists of the series
Lydia and Beetlejuice are the series’ main protagonists, with Beetlejuice being the titular character. They are accompanied by many supporting characters like Lydia’s parents and the other residents of the Neitherworld.
Beetlejuice is a ghost and one-half of the enigmatic duo of the show. He is renowned as a prankster in the Neitherworld and is often seen asking for money from the audience. He is the oldest son of Gnat and Bee Juice and has a cheerful younger brother called Donny Juice. Beetlejuice’s personality is quite different from his parents, as his mother is a neat freak and his father is a workaholic, and they constantly nag him to get a job and be clean. Beetlejuice was named after the star Betelgeuse, the tenth-brightest star in the sky.
Beetlejuice describes his source of magic as his “juice.” He has the power to change shape, transform into anything, conjure objects, teleport to other places, etc. Although, these powers don’t always work out in his favor. Whenever Beetlejuice utters a phrase out loud, he or his surroundings can change because of his erratic powers. In all his transformations, the patent black and white pattern of the suit he wears is present.
Beetlejuice is considered to have the most power among the Neitherworld denizens and is titled the “Ghost With The Most,” which is another reference from the movie. He does not hesitate to prank anyone, and everyone is fair game. His pranks usually cause a lot of embarrassment or mess, but his jokes on Lydia are only to tease her and never harm her. Beetlejuice cares a great deal for Lydia and even mentions he would do anything for her, a sentiment that Lydia reciprocates. The duo is truly the best of friends.
Lydia also had a great deal of influence on Beetlejuice. Unlike the Beetlejuice in the movie, which was something of a perv and characterized as a villain, the cartoon Beetlejuice is just mischievous and hilarious, without any evil intent. Sometimes, Beetlejuice’s body parts gain control of themselves and tend to abandon him and do random things Beetlejuice has no control over.
Beetlejuice can be described as a conman who comes with get-rich-quick schemes instead of getting a job. He is often scolded by Lydia, but his greediness makes him not want to give up his schemes. He loves eating all sorts of insects, especially beetles and worms. He abhors baths and loves being filthy. Even though he has a childish attitude, he is pretty philosophical as he often recites quotes of humanitarian importance.
He hates anything cute or clean. He is terrified of Sandworms to the extent that he can’t even use his powers when he encounters them. He usually expresses his likes or dislikes by using variations of a single catchphrase like “Nerd humor, you know I love it!” or “rules, you know I hate them!”.
Despite his fear of sandworms, he manages to overcome them and fight them if someone is in danger. Thanks to his powers of transformation, he is able to interact with Lydia’s parents on various occasions under the guise of “Mr. Beetleman,” and even able to transform his gender and becomes a teenage girl named “Betty Juice,” and sometimes a male “Cousin BJ,” all related to “Mr. Beetleman’. He is voiced by Stephen Ouimette.
Lydia Deetz is a goth girl and Beetlejuice’s best friend in her teens. She is the more rational half of the duo. She loves reading classic books by authors like Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen King, and more. She is very lively and bright and has a unique outlook on life. She is very different from other schoolgirls, making her stand out, resulting in her being alone in the world and without any friends.
She finds solace in her closest friend, Beetlejuice, and often spends time with him in the Neitherworld, where they go on fun adventures, and she is accepted as she is and never discriminated against. Her regular outfit includes a long purple top, black leggings, and black shoes.
When she visits the Neitherworld, she dons a spider web pattern poncho over a black unitard. Lydia is also a talented photographer and artist. She has a natural love and affinity for scary and weird things and celebrates all things “strange and unusual,” making her fit right in with the denizens of Neitherworld. She is an amiable and well-mannered girl who cares immensely for others, especially Beetlejuice, whom she always encourages when he’s down.
She is pretty responsible and mature for her age. She cares deeply about environmental issues and even chained herself to a tree to save it from being cut down. She is also shown to be knowledgeable about mechanical things and cars. She attends Miss Shannon’s School for Girls and is in the seventh grade.
The pilot episode reveals that Beetlejuice and Lydia have already known each other for a year. Beetlejuice often uses nicknames like “Lyds” or “Babes” rather than calling her Lydia and only uses her full name sometimes. Lydia is loved by almost everyone in Neitherworld and even received the award for the Cutest Mortal to ever visit the Neitherworld.
Lydia cares for Beetlejuice and even greatly admires his sense of humor. Lydia credits Beetlejuice for her current personality and believes that if they hadn’t met, she would probably be a social recluse and not have the guts to stand up to her school bully, Claire Brewster. In one of the episodes, Lydia is transported into Beetlejuice’s mind and finds that he has a working shrine in her honor inside his head; she even gives a donation to the maintenance of the shrine. She has only ever shown romantic interest in Prince Vince, but it soon turned into a friendship. She is voiced by Alyson Court.
Beetlejuice and Lydia are often accompanied by supporting characters like Charles and Delia. They are Lydia’s parents and Neitherworld denizens like Jacques LaLean, a French skeleton, Ginger the tap-dancing spider, Poopsie, and more.
My love for Beetlejuice began as a 12-year-old when I watched the movie starring Michael Keaton. The movie hooked me so much that when I later learned about the cartoon, I wasted no time watching it. The film and the cartoon hardly have any similarities, but that doesn’t make the cartoon any less lovable. Beetlejuice and Lydia’s friendship is practically so wholesome that you tend to forget that Beetlejuice is a filthy ghost conman. Tim Burton’s influence shines through in the animated series, and fans love that fact.
The animation quality is excellent, especially considering this was the late eighties/early nineties cartoon. When compared to other Saturday morning shows at the time, the animation quality was outstanding. They even used CGI years before it became widespread. The writing has also been splendid, and the episodes keep the watchers hooked. True, the comedy focuses heavily on puns and sight gags, so if you’re not like that, this isn’t for you. They are, nevertheless, excellent puns and sight gags.
The show is a worthy successor to the movie, and there are plenty of parodies and pop culture references that you’ve got to love. The character design is splendid, and they all look adorable, especially Lydia, who looks much different from her movie version. Every episode has a different adventure that takes the viewers around various aspects of Lydia and Beetlejuice’s lives. The show is meant for children and adults alike, and no one would be bored watching Beetlejuice’s antics. If Beetlejuice is the “Ghost with the most,” then the animated series can definitely be called the “Cartoon with the most”!
I can keep gushing about my love for Beetlejuice and his pranks for a long time. But what the audience really wants is a comeback. There have been talks of a sequel for years now without any concrete information. But the good news for the fans is there is a sequel in the negotiations, with Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B boarding Beetlejuice 2, with a deadline being confirmed as well.
Winona Ryder and Michael Keaton are said to be returning to reprise their roles as Lydia and Beetlejuice, and a possible appearance of Johnny Depp. With some positive news for the movie, one can indeed pray they bring back the much-loved animated series because today’s animation can give Beetlejuice’s adventures a whole new level, and they would be a delight to watch.