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Film / Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

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"Strange things are afoot at the Circle K..."

"EXCELLENT!" (air guitar riff)

Premiering in 1989, the first Bill & Ted film features Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) and Ted Theodore Logan (Keanu Reeves) as two air-headed rocker kids from San Dimas, California. They're so focused on their wannabe rock band Wyld Stallyns — not to mention so stupid- that they're in danger of failing history class and being held back. To make matters worse, Ted's authoritarian police chief father says that if that happens, Ted will be shipped off to a military academy in Alaska, breaking up the band.

Things look bleak for the two until help literally drops from the sky. The time traveler Rufus (George Carlin) lives in a utopian future built upon the peace-bringing philosophies popularized by the music that these two good-natured dunderheads will eventually create. Rufus offers them the use of his time machine — disguised as an ordinary phone booth — so they can do the research needed to create a final report for their history class that will let them scrape by with a D. When a brief trip to France causes Napoleon to follow them back to the present, Bill and Ted decide to stage the ultimate oral report by getting famous historical figures themselves to present it. Their carefree jaunt through time gives them the passing grade they need to stay together... and the mental focus they need to create the music that will produce the philosophy that will lead to the future that... well, you get the idea.

The film was followed by two sequels, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey in 1991 and (much later) Bill & Ted Face the Music in 2020.

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure demonstrates these most triumphant tropes:

  • Air Guitar: Bill and Ted do this whenever something delights them, accompanied by a sweet guitar lick in the soundtrack.
  • All Part of the Show: The faculty and students roll with the extreme special effects and historical figures presented at the history final. This is probably why the place doesn't clear out when Billy the Kid starts shooting.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: Played straight, for obvious reasons. Notice that in almost every scene Freud appears in, he's holding some kind of phallic object — a cigar, a corndog, etc. And then there's Bill's attraction to his "Mom."
  • Arc Symbol: Bill and Ted's Air Guitar riff they do with each other turns out to also be a symbol of their impact on the future, as their album shows the two of them in a mock strumming motion, and when they visit the future the people there perform the same act in reverence.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: In this case, Royal Ugly Dudes Are Bogus.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • Napoleon is depicted as being very short, which is a myth.
    • There's no solid evidence that iron maidens were ever actually used in the middle ages as torture devices; stories about them were likely concocted in the 19th century to support the narrative that the middle ages were an uncivilized age of barbarism and violence (most supposed iron maidens are modern curios created purely for display).
  • Bar Brawl: Billy the Kid starts a bar brawl when the other players suspect of him of cheating in poker just after Bill looks at his cards and exclaims, "Woah, three aces!".
  • Bar Slide: Bill is slid across the bar during a Bar Brawl when they pick up Billy the Kid.
  • "Begone" Bribe: Early in the film, Bill's dad gives Bill and Ted some money and tells them to take a break from studying. They exit, and it's clear that Bill's dad is about to get it on with Missy (I mean, Bill's mom) in his bedroom.
    Ted: Now your dad's going for it, in your own room!
    Bill: Shut up, Ted.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When Bill and Ted are about to be executed in the medieval times, it turns out that Billy the Kid and Socrates switched places with the executioners, freeing the duo so they can make an escape.
  • Big Eater: Napoleon packs away a whole Ziggy Pig, a massive ice cream sundae, topping it off with a contended belch. This earns him the unwanted commendation from the staff as a "Ziggy Piggy."
  • Big "SHUT UP!":
    Ted: Now your dad's going for it... in your own room!
    Bill: Shut up, Ted.
    Ted: Your stepmom is cute, though.
    Bill: Shut up, Ted.
    Ted: Hey, remember when I asked her to the prom?
    Bill: SHUT UP, TED!
  • Bland-Name Product: "Waterloo" stands in for the Real Life water park in San Dimas, Raging Waters.
  • Book Dumb: Bill and Ted are idiots when it comes to studying. To Mr. Ryan's exasperation, the only thing they've learned in class all year is that Caesar was "a salad dressing dude." But when the chips are down, the boys are clever and resourceful. They repair the time machine's antennae with only pudding cans and chewed gum, kidnap or convince historical figures, many of whom don't speak English, to get into a strange metal box with them, and learn how to manipulate time to produce the solutions to obstacles that are right in front of them.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Rufus addresses the audience directly at the start of the film to explain the situation, and again at the end to reassure us that Bill and Ted "do get better" vis-a-vis their terrible music skills.
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: Bill keeps accidentally calling his stepmom Missy before correcting himself (though the first time, she corrects him).
  • Catch-22 Dilemma: Played for Laughs at the beginning of the movie. Bill and Ted argue that they need a "triumphant" music video to get Eddie Van Halen to join their band, but also say the best way to make a triumphant video is to have Eddie Van Halen on guitar. They enjoy the paradox.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Ted's dad lost his keys before the movie because Ted came back after the events of the movie to steal them.
    • Bill and Ted had just gotten a lot of snacks from a convenience store before Rufus arrived to send them on their adventure. They use these snacks throughout the movie, from luring Genghis Khan in with a twinkie to using soda cans and bubble gum to repair the phone booth antenna.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Napoleon when he flubs a shot in bowling: he screams, "Merde, merde, merde, merde!" ("Shit, shit, shit, shit...!") practically nonstop.
  • The Comically Serious: Many of the historical figures maintain a straight face through all the Fish out of Water shenanigans, Napoleon especially. This does makes some of their moments of breaking character even funnier, with Abraham Lincoln proclaiming Bill and Ted's motto of "Be excellent to each other" with authoritative power before exuberantly saying "Party on, dudes!"
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: DC produced an adaptation to coincide with the movie's release on video.
  • Creator Cameo: Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, who created the characters and wrote the script, appear as the annoying waiters serving ice cream to Napoleon. They're credited as "Ugly Waiter" and "Stupid Waiter".
  • Critical Psychoanalysis Failure: The police interrogator assigned to Sigmund Freud gets progressively more irritated as he talks to him. (One probably wouldn't go so far as to say he's going crazy.)
    Policeman: What makes you think that you are Sigmund Freud?
    Sigmund Freud: What makes you think I'm not Sigmund Freud?
    Policeman [exasperated] Why do you keep asking me these questions?
    Sigmund Freud: [leans in closer] Tell me about your mother.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: This is the future after the Wyld Stallyns have eradicated war and poverty with their music.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Napoleon gives a large and satisfied belch after polishing off his Ziggy Pig, which disgusts the 1980s kids around him. In times gone by, belching was seen as an acceptable sign of approval for food.
  • Deus ex Machina: Bill and Ted do this for themselves when they realize that, with a time machine at their disposal, they can go back afterward and set up everything they need to succeed. Items start magically appearing out of thin air at the exact moment they need them.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • Bill and Ted are in Bill's room studying. Bill's stepmom Missy brings them some snacks. Bill's dad sees them and comes in, asking how the studying is going. Bill straight up tells his dad that they're going to fail. Bill's dad, looking at Missy's butt, can only respond, "Great!" Then he pays Bill and Ted to leave the room so he and Missy can get it on.
    • There's also seeing the princesses. The guys have a matter of hours to put together a report that will decide the course of Earth's whole future. Bill even tries to keep Ted on-track, reminding him, "It's a history report, not a babe report", but they still drop everything to try to meet those girls they saw, almost getting beheaded and the booth getting broken for it.
  • Dumb Blonde: Missy, Bill's stepmother, is a ditzy but attractive trophy wife who is only three years older than Bill. She never questions what Bill is doing, even when he's teleporting into their backyard with several historical figure in tow.
  • Epic Fail:
    • At the beginning of the movie, Bill and Ted aren't just ignorant of history — their heads are filled with incorrect history.
      Mr. Ryan: As far as I can tell, all you've learned is that Caesar... was 'a salad dressing dude.'
    • Then there's Napoleon's gutterball at the bowling rink. He doesn't just miss the pins, he falls down and slides into the lane like an ass.
  • Eternal English:
    • A minor example, in that the people of England in 1501 speak in modern English, but would actually be speaking Early Modern English, which would be mostly intelligible but sound quite archaic and have a completely different accent than modern British English.
    • In a French version, Joan of Arc's lines are in standard modern French, when she actually spoke the somewhat different Limousin dialect.
  • Exty Years from Publication: Rufus dates the future scenes to 2688, exactly 699 years after the movie came out (but 700 years after its modern-day setting).
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Ted's dad tries to put an end to his aspiring rock stardom by enrolling him in military school.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: All of the historical figures whom Bill and Ted pick up. Surprisingly, they all seem pretty content to gallivant through the future for a few hours. Yet more surprisingly, even the ones who the duo straight up abducted seem to forget about that and join in the fun.
  • Five-Aces Cheater: Downplayed; Billy the Kid enlists Bill and Ted to help win more money in a poker game. (He gets all their winnings as well as his own.) The game goes wrong a few minutes in when Bill reveals that he has three aces, causing the other cowboys to suspect (correctly) that Billy cheated somehow.
  • Flipping the Table: Billy the Kid does this when accused of cheating at a poker game, kicking off a massive brawl.
  • Fooled by the Sound: Ted uses a tape recording of his voice to distract his father at the police station.
  • French Jerk: Napoleon Bonaparte. Aside from his acts of imperialism recorded in history, he's a manchild who cuts in line at the waterpark and treats Bill's family (and everyone else) disdainfully. When he throws a gutterball at the bowling rink, he throws a screaming, vulgar tantrum. During the final report, when Ted tells him that his Waterloo strategy won't work, he sweeps all his pieces off the map in a huff and declares himself the victor.
  • Freudian Excuse: In-universe, invoked by Freud himself, as an explanation as to why Ted's dad is so harsh with discipline. He is terrified of failing and has displaced all his anxiety about himself onto his slacker son.
  • Fruit Cart: The high-speed cart chase in medieval times includes one of the carts ploughing into a road-side pottery stall.
  • The Full Name Adventures: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • Ted hands his backpack to Billy the Kid when they arrive in Medieval England. When they're seeing the princesses, Billy pulls a football out of the backpack and starts a game of catch with Socrates.
    • In something of a Funny Foreground Event, Napoleon begins to sidle closer to Missy (likely intending to hit on her) in her car while Bill and Ted make their way back to it. Napoleon promptly pulls back when they appear beside the passenger's side window.
    • Similar to the above, when Bill and Ted learn from Deacon that he ditched Napoleon, they speak to him through a fence while he's playing in a baseball game. A wider shot reveals that the fence ends two feet to their right and they could have easily walked past it to speak to him.
    • During the bar fight, one of the bar patrons can be seen behind the bar grabbing bottles and chugging them.
    • When Bill, Ted, and Billy the Kid escape from the Wild West saloon, a cowboy is carrying a sack and moonwalking as they run to the phone booth.
    • When Bill and Ted leave Napoleon with Deacon, a balloon in the background says "Party On Dude".
  • Gambling Brawl: Billy the Kid gets accused of cheating at poker. Offended, he flips the table over and kicks off a bar-room brawl.
  • Gay Moment: Bill and Ted hug after Ted turns out to have not been killed by that "medieval dickweed," then awkwardly call each other "fag" before cheering back up again.
  • Gotta Pass the Class: The titular duo are on the verge of failing history, and Ted's father threatens to send him to military school if that happens, threatening to end their friendship and their band the Wyld Stallyns. This kicks off the plot, as a time-traveler from the future shows up to prevent this by giving them access to time travel that will allow them to pass their final.
  • Gratuitous Princess: Bill and Ted have a time machine in which they can bag any historical babe they want. They pick up two generic princesses who don't really do anything but look hot.
  • Hammerspace:
    • This seems to be a common ability here. Where did Billy the Kid get the lariat he used on Freud? Kind of hard to say. Genghis Khan enters the booth carrying only a club, which he later discards; in an even later scene, he has a pole-axe weapon, with no explanation where it came from. Also, Joan of Arc is somehow able to change out of her armor before she and the others are arrested, and then change back into it after the duo spring them, with no explanation of where she put it. Hammerspace is really the only explanation.
    • Of course, there's also the booth itself. Not exactly something that could fit nine (and later ten) people easily (although Ted does say they're "running out of room" when there were only nine). They eventually have to tilt the booth onto its back and travel through time standing up through the open door in order to fit everyone comfortably.
  • Hand Wave: When Ted falls down the stairs while messing around with the suits of armor, Bill reaches the bottom just in time to see a guard stab Ted through the heart. He goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, until Ted clocks the guard Bill is fighting from behind. When Bill exclaims that he watched Ted die, Ted shrugs and says that when he hit the kitchen floor, he fell out of his armor and hid while the guard stabbed an empty suit.
  • Heel Realization: It's not dwelt on, but Freud's analysis of Ted seems to have helped Ted's father realize he was being too hard on his boy. After that scene, the threat of being sent to military school disappears.
  • Help Yourself in the Future: As part of the Stable Time Loop of the movie's plot, Bill and Ted meet their future selves at the Circle K, who try to give them advice about their upcoming excellent adventure. Of course, most of it flies right over their past selves' heads, but at least they tried...
  • Historical Domain Character: Including Abraham Lincoln, Ludwig van Beethoven, Billy the Kid, Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, Napoléon Bonaparte, Sigmund Freud, So-crates...
  • Historical In-Joke: Napoleon has a great day at Water Loops in San Dimas, which seems to affect his strategy for the taking of Waterloo. After he explains his plans, in which he mentions a "water slide" to attack Russia, Ted tells him that he doesn't think it's going to work, referencing Napoleon's famous defeat there.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: Well, Napoleon is rude, egotistical, and pompous, while Genghis Khan is aggressive, but here those traits are all Played for Laughs.
  • Hollywood History: Consciously and unashamedly done.
  • Honking Arriving Car: Outside the high school, as it occurs to Bill that he and Ted are "in danger of flunking most heinously," Bill's stepmom, Missy, pulls up and honks her car horn to offer Bill and Ted a ride.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When Bill and Ted get drafted into Billy the Kid's poker game, Bill gently admonishes Ted to "have a poker face, like me." He then looks at his cards and immediately exclaims, "Whoa, three aces, dude!"
  • Improbable Weapon User: Genghis Khan is impressed by the military potential of modern sporting equipment. He dons some football armor, arms himself with an aluminum baseball bat, and charges off on a skateboard. And he proves adept enough with the bat and skateboard that the mall guards only manage to subdue him because he falls down in the ice rink.
  • Informed Ability: Played for laughs. Bill and Ted are supposed to be the greatest musicians of all time, but they don't even know how to play their instruments. In the end, when Bill and Ted and their girlfriends make horrific noise trying to put on a show, this is lampshaded by Rufus, who assures us that "they do get better".
  • I Owe You My Life: Billy the Kid for Bill and Ted saving him from the bar brawl, and he later returns the favor.
  • Iron Maiden: The Royal Ugly Dude threatens to put Bill and Ted in the iron maiden, which they confuse with the heavy metal group.
    Bill and Ted: Iron Maiden? Excellent!
    Royal Ugly Dude: Execute them.
    Bill and Ted: Bogus...
  • It Makes Sense in Context: This happens at least twice in the film.
    • The first time is Rufus claiming that these two dumb kids will be important in the future, ending with, "Don't worry, it'll all make sense. I'm a professional."
    • The second time is when Bill and Ted go back to the moment of their first encounter with Rufus to meet themselves and Ted notes afterward, "That conversation made more sense this time."
  • It's Been Done: Amusingly Double Subverted in the film's production. The time machine was originally going to be a 1969 Chevrolet van, but when they realized the similarities to another time travel science fiction film, they decided to change it... to a phone booth. As Doctor Who was not very well known in America at the time, this was a complete accident.
  • Lazy Alias: The names Bill comes up with for the historical figures when Missy asks him to introduce them. She accepts them at face value, presumably because the possibility that "Bob Genghiskhan" is actually the famous historical figure Genghis Khan is too ludicrous to consider.
  • Like a Duck Takes to Water:
    • Most of the historical people adapt pretty quickly to the twentieth century, such as Beethoven mastering electronic synthesizers. This helps at the end with the "Explain what historical people would think of modern San Dimas" part of the report.
    • Billy the Kid picks up the intricacies of time travel (and late 20th century slang) pretty much immediately, for which the boys praise him when they arrive in ancient Greece. As the story progresses, Billy becomes the duo's chief helper.
  • Likes Older Men: It turns out Missy has a thing for older guys, which is obvious from her marrying Bill's dad, but she also remembers the history teacher fondly.
  • A Little Something We Call "Rock and Roll": Beethoven enjoys what he hears of rock music.
  • LOL, 69: Bill and Ted seem to have an affinity for this number.
    • As a Trust Password, Bill and Ted ask their future selves what number they're thinking of, and they reply, "69, dudes".
    • Bill says they went back to the year 1269 to pick up a Genghis Khan, though Khan actually died in 1227. (The subtitles have them picking up Genghis Khan in 1209.)
    • An early version of the script had them time-traveling using a 1969 Chevrolet van, though the writers decided this too closely resembled Back to the Future.
  • MacGyvering: The phone booth antenna takes some damage from a knight's mace, which makes the time travel ride a lot more bumpy and diverts them to the wrong places. After landing in 1 million BC, Bill manages to repair the antenna with a soda can and bubblegum.
  • Malaproper: When first meeting Socrates, Ted speaks about the philosopher while using the accepted pronunciation for his name but then turns to Bill and tells his friend to look Socrates up under "So-Crates". This ends up being a running gag for various historical figures with foreign names (Beethoven as "Beeth-Oven", Sigmund Freud as "Sigmund Frood", etc.)
  • Man Hug: Bill and Ted exchange a hug when Ted turns out to be alive, then immediately feel awkward and call each other "fag" before cheering up again.
  • May–December Romance: Bill's father married a woman whose high school career overlapped Bill's.
  • Meaningful Background Event: When Bill is in grief over witnessing what he thinks is Ted being stabbed within a suit of armor, the actual Ted can be seen hiding under the table behind him.
  • Mega Meal Challenge: Apparently, an ice cream dish called the Ziggy Pig is one of these. After Napoleon Bonaparte finishes it, the garishly dressed employees make pig noises and give him a sticker. In spite of his initial annoyance, he wears the sticker prominently alongside his medals for the rest of the movie.
  • Midair Bobbing: Rufus' bosses float like this in a sitting position.
  • The Middle Ages: The only stop where the boys fail dismally to acquire a historical figure. On the other hand, babes.
  • Mistaken for Profound:
    • Socrates mistakes song lyrics for wisdom. Double points, given the lyrics were recited to him in a language that he doesn't (yet) understand.
    • It's unclear whether Wyld Stallyns actually have something to say or if future generations are just mistaking their "be excellent to each other" message as profound.
  • Mood Whiplash: When Bill believes that Ted has been killed by medieval knights, the scene is played for maximum drama, and Bill acts extremely heartbroken/vengeful. There are no jokes in this scene other than his Buffy Speak, but even then it's drenched in anguish. Ted is then revealed to be alive, and the movie returns to being the comedy-romp that it is, but for that moment, the laughs came to a screeching halt.
  • Morton's Fork: Said by Billy the Kid before a poker match.
    Billy the Kid: What I win, I keep; what you win, I keep.
    Bill and Ted: Sounds good, Mr. The Kid!
  • Mundane Utility:
    • The boys note that the Old West would be a good place to "remember" for future time travel, because beer is handed out without requiring ID.
    • They discover that San Dimas Time doesn't prevent you from leaving cached items for your past self to use.
    • Not only can the phone booth travel through time... it can also make phone calls, like the one "Deputy Van Halen" uses to lure Ted's dad out of the house.
  • My Future Self and Me: Future versions of the boys stop in the recent past to give themselves a pep talk, including the line from Future Ted, in response to Ted's, "No way!": "Yes way, Ted!"
  • Napoleon Delusion: Ted's dad clearly thinks the historic figures are suffering from this, even though they are authentic. Curiously enough, Napoleon himself avoids being arrested.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: Defied. Hell, them encountering their future selves near the start of the film is actually a plot point in advance.
  • The Not-So-Harmless Punishment: The guys enthusiastically embrace the king's order to "put them in the Iron Maiden" with a positive "EXCELLENT!"
    King: Execute them!
    Bill and Ted: BOGUS!
  • Odd Friendship: Of the historical figures brought together by Bill and Ted, the ones who get the most focus as friends are... Socrates and Billy the Kid?
  • Oh, Crap!: Several moments in the film.
  • Once More, with Clarity: The scene outside the Circle K. First time we see it, it's the past Bill and Ted meeting with their future selves, and not understanding half of what they say. Second time we see it, it's with their future selves meeting with the past Bill and Ted, at which point everything they say and do makes a lot more sense.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted with lead character Bill S. Preston, Esq. and major supporting character Billy the Kid.
  • Paid Harem: In Outer Mongolia, Genghis Khan was surrounded by beautiful slave girls. One of them hand-feeds him, and he pulls her to him as she does. Then the two start to make out, right before Bill and Ted shows up.
  • The Power of Rock: The music of Wyld Stallyns will someday usher in a worldwide golden age of peace, harmony, and awesomeness.
    Rufus: San Dimas, California, 2688. And I'm telling you, it's great here. The air is clean, the water's clean... even the dirt, it's clean. Bowling averages are way up, mini-golf scores are way down. And we have more excellent water slides than any other planet we communicate with.
  • Profound by Pop Song: Bill and Ted meet Socrates, and try to impress him with their philosophical knowledge by quoting Kansas's "Dust in the Wind". But they don't speak Greek, and English as a language doesn't exist in Socrates's time, so he doesn't speak their language. So they try to pantomime it. Socrates is impressed with their revelation... but completely misinterprets it as the opening lines of Days of Our Lives.
    Ted: "All we are is dust in the wind", Dude.
    Socrates: (Blank stare)
    Bill: (dips his hand in the sand Socrates was using) Dust. (let's sand fall from his hands and blows them clear) Wind.
    Ted: (points at Socrates) Dude.
    Socrates: (Amazed, speaking Greek) Yes! Yes! Like the sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives!
  • The Quiet One: Joan d'Arc speaks in prayer, but otherwise doesn't address anyone. Not that anybody speaks French (except Napoleon, and events keep those two characters apart).
  • Reality Is Unrealistic:
    • Zigzagged in the Old West bar, where Bill and Ted, who are obviously teenagers, are given beer at the saloon, which is lampshaded by Ted. At that time, pretty much anyone older than ten could drink, especially out in the outer regions like the New Mexico Territory. However, a bartender most certainly would never give beer to two strangers without getting money first.
    • Billy turns over the table and starts a fight rather quickly, just after the other guys suspect he's cheating. To modern eyes, this comes across as Disproportionate Retribution. But in the Old West, cheating at cards was a grave accusation, one that could easily provoke a brutal beating, if not an outright shooting.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Bill and Ted's history teacher Mr. Ryan is strict, but fair. They've failed at every section of the class, but he's offering them one last chance.
    Mr. Ryan: Guys: this report had better be something very special.
  • Retroactive Preparation: How to break historical figures out of jail 101: distract the guard with a recording played from a hidden tape recorder, find the key to the jail, do the jailbreak... and after all is said and done and you have all the time in the world, create the tape recording, then go back in time to plant it in the right place at the right time, and also steal the key and hide it where your past self will find it.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Bill lapses into one when he thinks a medieval dude killed Ted.
    • Ultimately averted, since Bill's not nearly as good at fighting as an actual castle guard, and a thankfully still-alive Ted saves him by coldcocking the guy.
  • Rule of Cool: Do high school history classes usually present final reports to the full student body in the auditorium? Nah, probably not. Does it nevertheless set us up for the most triumphant history report of all time? Yeah, definitely.
  • San Dimas Time: The Trope Namer. To create a "ticking clock" for the plot, it's established that the boys only have one night of their subjective time to get their report done. They can't spend years gallivanting through time before getting around to it.
  • Shout-Out: Numerous references to 80s culture.
    • Bill and Ted dress up in knightly armor and swordfight to mock lightsaber noises.
      Ted: I'm Darth Ted!
      Bill: Oh, yeah? Well, I'm Luke Bill, and you're not my father! You!
    • After they tell Socrates that "All we are is dust in the wind, dude", he quotes the tagline for Days of Our Lives.
    • Bill also says, "Let's reach out and touch someone" before they use the booth for the first time, an old slogan for Bell System Phone Company.
    • Although it seems like the time travelling phone booth is a massive shout out to Doctor Who, it is actually just a coincidence. Doctor Who was huge in the UK (and in fact the classic series was on its last season at the time of this film), but since the internet was not a thing yet, it had a very niche audience in the US, to the point where most Americans weren't aware it even existed.
    • Apparently, Ancient Greece "looks like Houses of the Holy, dude."
    • Deacon has a poster for King Kong (1976) in his room. This film was originally intended to be distributed by that film's producer Dino de Laurentis until financial issues with his company DEG forced the movie to be shelved until Orion and Nelson came in.
  • Single-Precept Religion: The (future) Church of Bill and Ted has but one single commandment: "Be excellent to each other and party on, dudes."
  • Something Else Also Rises: Freud attempts to chat up an attractive woman while holding an erect corndog, which sags when the conversation comes to a disappointing conclusion.
  • Sore Loser: Napolean does not take losing at bowling very well, and he flips the table when Ted questions his military strategy.
  • Stable Time Loop:
    • Rufus comes from the future to ensure that the future comes into existence.
    • Rufus never divulges his name. Bill and Ted learn it from their future selves, who learned it from their future selves, etc.
    • Ted's dad is scouring for his keys in an early scene, even blaming Ted for losing them. Bill and Ted later use the phone booth to go into the past to steal the keys so they could use them to rescue the historical figures, and they realize that's why the keys were missing in the first place.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Seriously. None of the historical figures seem to mind being abducted by two nutty teenagers.
  • Stylistic Suck: Bill and Ted's guitar skills, even by the end of the film. Rufus assures us, "They do get better."
  • Sweet Tooth: Napoleon takes an instant liking to ice cream, and Genghis Khan to Twinkies.
  • Surfer Dude: Though they're more about rock-and-roll than surfing, the titular duo certainly speak in the stereotypical manner. San Dimas itself, however, is actually about 30 miles from the coast, which means that Bill and Ted are considerably less likely to have ever been surfing in their lives than the typical '80s California teen movie protagonists.
  • Tagline: "History is about to be rewritten by two guys who can't spell."
  • Take Our Word for It: Wyld Stallyns' music is supposed to be so good that it changed the world into a utopia, so we never actually hear it. The boys still haven't even learned how to play their instruments yet.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Parodied like everything else. Okay, the boys have to leave on their journey, but their time moves at the same pace as them, so they can't just spend comparatively weeks worth of preparation using time travel when they have to accomplish their history report by the next day. And when they are in a jam trying to get that accomplished, they figure out that they can use the time booth to manipulate things to their advantage now, which they will have to recreate after they finish their history report... And it works.
  • Title Drop: Abraham Lincoln refers to Bill and Ted bringing them on "a most excellent adventure." Earlier at the Circle K, Future Ted tells Present Ted that they're about to "embark on an excellent adventure through time."
  • Totally Radical: Tongue-in-cheek about it, and subverted in that it actually caught on.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Billy the Kid, of all people. He quickly comes to terms with the fact that time travel exists, and soon after being whisked away from his original time period (although he certainly would have been happy to be anywhere other than being chased by an angry mob), he not only is perfectly friendly with Bill and Ted, but even picks up on their Surfer Dude slang.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Missy is watering the flower bed in the back yard when there's a clap of thunder, a phone booth lands on the hose, and half a dozen extremely recognizable historical figures emerge from it. She welcomes them, offers them soda, and reminds Bill that he has to do his chores.
  • Villainy-Free Villain: Ted's strict father is just trying to straighten up his slacker of a son and round up a bunch of crazies who claim to be historical figures, although he does arrange for Ted to go to military school before his big chance to redeem himself at the history presentation.
  • Visual Pun: When Sigmund Freud tries to chat up the girls at the mall and gets shot down in the process, you can see the corndog he's holding go from being 'erect' at the beginning of the conversation to being 'limp' at the end. It's an appropriately "Freudian" symbol.
  • Weirdness Search and Rescue: Rufus gives Bill and Ted the time machine, shows them how to use it, and tends to turn up for advice when the boys find themselves in trouble. He is from the future of prosperity, peace, and excellence that they ushered in, and has a vested interest in helping them because without them his future would not exist.
  • We Will All Fly in the Future: The Three Most Important People In The World sit in midair, complete with Midair Bobbing.
  • What's Up, King Dude?: Deconstructed. Bill and Ted learn firsthand why you shouldn't assume this trope is in action with real royalty.
    Bill: How's it going, royal ugly dudes? (Beat) I am the Earl of Preston.
    Ted: And I am the Duke of Ted.
    King: Put them in the iron maiden.
    Bill and Ted: Iron Maiden? Excellent! (Air Guitar)
    King: (infuriated) Execute them!
    Bill and Ted: Bogus!
  • The Wild West: Where the boys abduct Billy the Kid from.
  • Ye Goode Olde Days: Our heroes travel to — and pick up hitchhikers from — ancient Greece, ancient Mongolia, and medieval Europe (among other eras), yet any and all unpleasant hygienic issues are ignored.
  • You Already Changed the Past: One of the signs that Bill and Ted are clever, just not book-smart, is their recognition of this trope; they realize that to solve a problem in the present, they can use their time machine to plant helpful items in the past, and then they'll be there for their present selves to discover — and they keep reminding each other that once this is over, they have to go back and place all that stuff!
  • Your Costume Needs Work: The mall photographer mistakes Abraham Lincoln for a Lincoln impersonator, asking for his hat and beard back, which leads to a minor scuffle between them.
  • You Didn't Ask: Meta example. The boys want Eddie Van Halen to join their band. The real life Van Halen said he would have appeared in the movie if he was asked.

Dude, you made it through the first film's tropes! Excellent!


Video Example(s):


Philosophizing with Socrates

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure: Bill and Ted meet Socrates, and try to impress him with their philosophical knowledge by quoting Kansas's "Dust in the Wind". But they don't speak Greek, and English as a language doesn't exist in Socrates's time, so he doesn't speak their language. So they try to pantomime it. Socrates is impressed with their revelation... but completely misinterprets it as the opening lines of Days of Our Lives.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / ProfoundByPopSong

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