"Ecce homo qui est faba" translation: Mr. Bean
(1990-1995) is an incredibly well-loved British comedy by writer Richard Curtis and writer-star Rowan Atkinson
The show is about a very odd man about whom we know nothing except his last name, who basically wanders around, getting into trouble, finding unique solutions to predicaments, and both wittingly and unwittingly causing mayhem. Mr. Bean is perhaps the ultimate example of No Social Skills
. Not only does he seem to be unfamiliar with all social conventions and standard methods for doing anything, he never even demonstrates normal human thought processes — witness his strategy for protecting his furniture and possessions when painting his flat, which is to wrap every single item in newspaper right down to individual grapes, not to mention that his method of painting the flat includes a stick of dynamite.
Considering the mixture of stupidity and inspiration in his way of doing things, Mr. Bean may have inspired the aphorism, "Nothing can be made foolproof because fools are so ingenious".
All the humor is visual, to the point that the character says perhaps a couple dozen words throughout the entire run of the series. Pretty much every plot is based around how Mr. Bean handles an everyday situation, such as going to a department store, going to church, sitting for an exam, etc. In essence, it was a Sketch Show
in disguise, especially considering the way that the "plot" was only maintained throughout a few of the episodes. Because of its largely visual and disconnected nature, it is still Rowan Atkinson
's most lucrative and recognized work, mainly because airlines bought it to avoid having to do translations, which means it is big pretty much everywhere.
It was followed by an animated series version
, which was obviously less well-received by the fans, as Mr. Bean's charm is that he is an actual person doing embarrassing things for real.
There are two film adaptations, Bean
(1997) and Mr. Bean's Holiday
In 2006, the Mythbusters
tried to reproduce Mr. Bean's "dynamite in a paint bucket" method of painting his flat, with no luck.
Speaking greatly to the popularity of the character, Mr. Bean was part of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games
in London, via a skit in which he's part of the orchestra playing the theme from Chariots of Fire
. That turned out to be Mr. Bean's farewell, as Atkinson said in November 2012 that he was retiring the character, citing among other reasons the problem of playing a childlike man as he continues to age.
However, in October 2014, the character returned in an ad for the chocolate bar "Snickers" as part of their "You're Not You When You're Hungry" campaign, where he plays the alter-ego of a Chinese assassin and blunders across rooftops, making a complete ass of himself... until he's told to "eat his Snickers" and reverts to assassin mode. Watch it here
Atkinson also revived the character to take part in Comic Relief 2015, a fund raising event for the similarly named UK charity (founded by Curtis and Lenny Henry). In the short, Mr Bean gets into hijinks... at a funeral.Not to Be Confused with
Mr. Bean the Postman from The Comic Strip Presents: Dirty Movie
This program provides examples of:
- The Alleged Car:
- Bean's BMC Mini is a small econo-car with character, and Bean makes occasional eccentric modifications to it. Depending on your taste, it could qualify as a Cool Car.
- The Reliant Regal, Bean's nemesis, is often the butt of jokes.
- All There in the Manual: The tie-in books Mr. Bean's Diary and Mr. Bean's Scrapbook provided a lot of background information that would later be used in the animated series.
- Altum Videtur: The theme tune. "Ecce homo qui est faba: Behold the man who is (a) bean."
- Amusement Park: "Mind the Baby, Mr. Bean" takes place at one.
- Anti-Sneeze Finger: The church skit in the first episode has one of these, albeit without the actual finger.
- Aside Glance: The last thing Mr. Bean does in "Do-It-Yourself Mr. Bean".
- Ass Shove: Mr. Bean uses Teddy as a paintbrush this way in "Do-It-Yourself Mr. Bean".
- Audible Gleam: The American Express card in "The Return of Mr. Bean", and the engagement ring in "Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean".
- Awesome but Impractical: Many of Mr. Bean's plans are this.
- Balloonacy: A baby and his carriage are lifted into the air by an absurdly small amount of balloons in "Mind the Baby, Mr. Bean".
- Big Blackout: In "Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean", he pulls an electric cord out of its socket to test a string of Christmas lights while shopping at Harrods and cuts out all the power to the store.
- Plus, the time he was out clubbing with his girlfriend and she leaves him for another man, he pulls the fuses on the disco's lights before making a hasty exit.
- Bits of Me Keep Passing Out: Mr. Bean's dentist keeps accidentally injecting himself with Novocaine until he passes out completely, forcing Bean to do his own dental work.
- Bizarre and Improbable Golf Game: Mr. Bean finds himself playing one in "Tee Off, Mr. Bean", in which he accidentally knocks a ball out of the miniture golf park, but continues to play the golden rule: "Always play the ball where it lies." And doesn't matter where the ball goes, even if it's down the sewers or into the dump truck, he will continue his game.
- Bootstrapped Theme: Inversion. The original theme song (used throughout the first episode) was reused as the Reliant Regal's leitmotif for its appearance in "Tee Off, Mr. Bean".
- British Brevity: The original TV show consisted of only 13 episodes, airing gradually from 1990 through 1995.
- British Royal Guards: In "Goodnight Mr. Bean", Bean does an assortment of increasingly pesky things to a guard in preparation for a posed photograph, all while the guard remains perfectly still. It all basically amounts to one hell of a Motionless Makeover. Among the things Bean does to the guard, he polishes the trigger of his gun, trims the guard's mustache to resemble Hitler's, and decorates him with flowers. At the end, the guard receives his orders to march to his next post, just before the picture could be taken.
- Canon Immigrant: Mrs. Wicket, Mr. Bean's crotchety old landlady, first appeared in "Mr. Bean's Diary" (a tie-in to the TV series).
- Cartoon Conductor: Done in "Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean".
- Catapult Nightmare: Mr. Bean dreams of a bad oyster dinner in "Mr. Bean in Room 426".
- Cats Are Mean: Scrapper, Mrs. Wicket's cat.
- Chekhov's Gag: In The Best Bits of Mr. Bean, after the church scene from the first episode, Mr. Bean throws a boomerang away, but it comes back to him. He throws it away again, and we see the "meeting royalty" skit from "The Return of Mr Bean". After that, the boomerang comes back again, and Mr. Bean, frustrated, throws the boomerang out the attic window. In the end, Mr. Bean reopens the window to discover that it stopped raining, and, inconvenienced, shuts the window again, and the boomerang comes back to rest on the roof.
- Cherubic Choir: The opening sequence has a choir chanting Ecce homo qui est faba, which literally translates to "Behold the man who is a bean".
- Chorus-Only Song: In the first episode, Mr. Bean is in church when the congregation begins to sing the hymn "All Creatures of Our God and King". He doesn't know any of the lyrics save for the repeated "Alleluia" chorus, which he happily sings at the top of his lungs.
- Christmas Episode: "Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean".
- Chronically Crashed Car: The Reliant Regal, Bean's nemesis, which gets tipped over or crashed every time it shows up.
- Clip Show: The Best Bits of Mr. Bean is a direct-to-video example.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Mr. Bean seems to exist in his own private universe of eccentricity.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Bean occasionally demonstrates this. In the first few minutes of "Good Night, Mr. Bean", for instance, he blocks an ambulance by parking directly in back of it, cuts in line at the hospital, grabs the last empty seat in a waiting area just ahead of an old man, mocks a wheelchair-bound patient in a neck brace by moving around in his seat and then swipes her number ticket so he can be seen ahead of her.
- Companion Cube: Teddy, and possibly Mr Bean's car.
- Contrived Coincidence: In "Mind the Baby, Mr. Bean", the titular character somehow ends up with somebody else's baby. In an effort to get it to stop crying, he ties balloon after balloon to its pram, with predictable results. He rescues it by shooting out the balloons with a bow and arrow from a carnival stall from earlier in the episode. And of course, it floats down directly in front of its panicking mother.
- Counting Sheep: "Good Night, Mr. Bean". Bean tries to get to sleep by literally counting the sheep in a large photograph. When he gets frustrated that he keeps losing count, he counts the sheep along two adjoining sides and then multiplies the results in a calculator. After marveling at the tally, he instantly falls unconscious.
- Cringe Comedy: frequently.
- Dinner Order Flub: Mr Bean orders Steak tartare, believing it was just a fancy steak, and the rest of the episode revolved around him trying to get rid of all the raw beef.
- Disaster Dominoes: several, including the ending from his infamous rooftop-drive.
- Drives Like Crazy
- Foreign Remake: Pakistani Mr. Bean. Tired of the constant barrage of death, violence, and tragedy in his home country, a Pakistani man took on the persona of Mr. Bean so that he could get people laughing and having fun. Apparently, Rowan Atkinson himself loves it.
- Free Wheel: Every time Mr. Bean crashes the Reliant Robin offscreen.
- Genius Ditz: Bean seems to have great difficulty handling everyday problems, but comes up with quite intricate and ingenious ways to navigate them.
- Genre-Busting: The Snickers ad is an absurdist comedy Wuxia parody.
- One example involves him attempting to get changed into a pair of swimming trunks without exposing himself. He succeeds.
- Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: In "The Curse of Mr. Bean", he falls into a pool so hard his trunks get blown off, and unfortunately someone picks them up and leaves with them.
- Highly-Visible Ninja: Bean in the Snickers ad is so incompetent at parkour that he smashes through a tiled roof.
- Hot Librarian: Bean has a secret crush on one in the tie-in book Mr. Bean's Diary.
- His Name Really Is Barkeep: Upon being specifically asked what his first name is, he simply replies "mister", until its subversion in Mr. Bean's Holiday, of course (see No Name Given below).
- Iconic Outfit: While Bean will dress differently for certain occasions—pajamas in bed, a swimsuit at the pool—when he is normally out and about he will always be wearing a brown tweed sport coat, a thin red tie, a white shirt, and dark pants.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode of the series includes "Mr. Bean" in its title.
- Improbable Parking Skills: Mr Bean thrives on these.
- Jerk Ass: Throughtout the series, Mr. Bean often comes off as not only bumbling and eccentric, but also mean-spirited.
- Karma Houdini: Though he occasionally gets a small dose of Laser-Guided Karma, Bean always escapes any serious consequences for his actions.
- Large Ham: Mr Bean himself.
- Laugh Track
- Lethally Stupid: Bean can be destructive at times, though he never hurts people too seriously.
- Limited Wardrobe: Mr. Bean is almost always attired in his trademark ensemble of dark brown trousers, white shirt, red tie, and brown tweed sportcoat.
- Man Child: Mr. Bean sleeps with a teddy bear. In the first episode, he puts two dolls on the table when he sits down to take an examination. In general he is of the more common, Fish out of Water type, although his strangeness goes beyond childlike and into the realm of truly bizarre.
- Mister Strangenoun: The titular protagonist. There was also a Mr. Sprout in the first episode.
- Naked People Are Funny: Mr. Bean is stripped naked in "The Curse of Mr. Bean", "Mr. Bean Goes to Town", and "Mr. Bean in Room 426".
- Naked People Trapped Outside: He locks himself out of his hotel room in "Mr. Bean in Room 426".
- New Year Has Come: He hosts a party in "Do-It-Yourself Mr. Bean".
- Nightmare Sequence: A dream about bad oysters in "Mr. Bean in Room 426".
- No Ending: "Mr. Bean Rides Again" ended at the exact moment Bean pops a barf bag filled with puke on a plane. The Movie reuses this gag, except it actually shows the immediate results.
- No Name Given: Bean is never given a first name.
- Bean his passport has his surname as "Bean" and his first name as just "Mr."
- However, in Mr. Bean's Holiday, his passport reveals it to be Rowan.
- Bean's girlfriend is simply billed as "The Girlfriend" in her first couple appearances, although she's eventually identified as one Irma Gobb.
- No Peripheral Vision: Literally any extra character in any episode of Mr. Bean. One would think he could do anything and get away with it, because no other character ever seems to notice anything he does unless he's directly in front of them, and, maybe not even then.
- No Social Skills: The starting point for much of the humour—in fact, Atkinson's original concept for the character was "the most embarrassing man in the world", both to himself and to others.
- Not What It Looks Like: Occasionally, as when Bean attempts to retrieve his trousers from the man in the bathroom stall in "Back to School, Mr. Bean" and the drill instructor walks in on them.
- Offscreen Crash: The ending of the first episode. "The Trouble with Mr. Bean" has what could be called an Offscreen Splash.
- One-Person Birthday Party: In "The Return of Mr. Bean", Mr Bean goes to a restaurant on his own for his birthday, and gives himself a birthday card.
- Police Lineup: "Mr. Bean Goes to Town".
- Please Put Some Clothes On: Mr. Bean feels uncomfortable in the presence of nudity and the show has him disapproving not only of nude models but also nudist art. So whenever he sees a nude statue or a painting of a nude he uses the closest piece of cloth or paper to hide the 'offending area.' With the nude model, he crafts a makeshift bra out of clay and gets it on her without his instructor noticing.
- Power-Up Food: In the Snickers ad, natch. Eating a Snickers turns Mr. Bean into a highly skilled Chinese assassin named Cheung.
- Properly Paranoid: Mr Bean often goes to ridiculous lengths to secure his property. He's right to do it. (A carjacker tries to steal his Mini only to discover that there is no steering wheel.)
- Removable Steering Wheel: Present in "The Trouble with Mr. Bean" and "Mr. Bean in Room 426".
- Running Gag: When driving about, Mr. Bean is continually having unfortunate encounters with a three-wheeled blue Reliant. The Reliant often gets tipped over.
- The postie van kiddie ride in "Mind the Baby, Mr. Bean" plays the Postman Pat theme.
- In "Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean", when Bean is playing with the Nativity figurines, he pulls out a group of toy drummers and starts humming "The British Grenadiers", which had been used in the intro to Blackadder Goes Forth. (In the same scene, he has a toy dinosaur "threaten" baby Jesus, then fights it using toy tanks and a Dalek.)
- Shrunk In The Wash: Teddy was shrunk in the wash in Tee Off, Mr. Bean. Of course he's back to normal again next episode.
- Signature Team Transport: His compact Mini, which keeps coming back despite being trashed every odd episode.
- Six Is Nine: In "Goodnight, Mr. Bean" he is waiting in a doctor's office. Bean has ticket #52. He realizes that on the digital display #25 and #52 are the same number flipped upside down, so he flips the counter over after #24 is called, causing his number to be called next.
- Silence Is Golden: Much of the show's international success has been attributed to its reliance on physical comedy over dialogue.
- The title character is pretty much The Voiceless in the TV show apart from some wordless grumbling, or the very occasional comment. This is averted in the first film, which climaxes with the character giving a big speech about Whistler's mother.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Bean is an inexplicable feud with a light-blue Reliant Regal, which he runs off the road practically every time he encounters it. In "Tee Off, Mr. Bean", he's hitchhiking and when the Reliant stops to offer him a lift, Bean refuses. Because the driver is never seen, Bean seems to object to the car itself.
- Slippery Swimsuit: In front of a group of schoolchildren.
- Special Guest: The late female impersonator Danny LaRue in "Mr. Bean in Room 426".
- Status Quo Is God: Poor Teddy gets decapitated in "Mr. Bean in Room 426", used as a paintbrush in "Do-It-Yourself, Mr. Bean", and shrunk in the wash in "Tee Off, Mr. Bean", but is back to normal at the beginning of the next episode.
- Stuff Blowing Up: His method of repainting his entire flat in one fell swoop basically consisted of putting some fireworks into a tin of paint, lighting the fuse and running. This was actually busted by Mythbusters.
- Take a Number: Mr. Bean does any number of nasty things to get a lower number. He gets his comeuppance in the end, though.
- Title Drop: Take a wild guess what Mr. Bean says at the end of "Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean".
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: It's a bit complicated. On occasion he can be casually cruel, as when he torments the calligrapher in "Back to School, Mr. Bean." On the whole, however, his misdeeds are the result of childish selfishness, curiosity, or misunderstanding, and when Laser-Guided Karma catches up with him it's hard not to feel bad for him.
- Vacation Episode: "Mr. Bean in Room 426". Also, both movies feature this, each taking Mr. Bean to a different country.
- Vertigo Effect: Used in "Mr. Bean in Room 426", when he realizes he's just consumed a bunch of rotten oysters.
- Video Inside, Film Outside: Not totally consistent, as some inside scenes are shot with film when on location, but it's fairly obvious when one is used versus the other.
- You Look Familiar: Matilda Ziegler, who later starred in four episodes as Bean's girlfriend Irma, first appears in the second episode as a maid waiting to greet the Queen.
- Zany Scheme: A lot of the humour comes from the fact that Bean approaches the same problems as everyone else using his own improvised plans along these lines. And quite often, they work.