Bill & Ted is a series of comedy movies featuring Keanu Reeves as Theodore Logan and Alex Winter as William S. Preston, two dimwitted though good-natured rock fans who are apparently the future messiahs, and have to go on adventures to help preserve that future and, in turn, help to create that future to begin with. The first film deals with them having to recruit historical figures in order to pass their history class (otherwise Ted would be separated from Bill and sent to military school). The second film has a villain from the future attempt to kill them and rewrite the future, which leads them on a journey fighting evil robot duplicates and traversing through both heaven and hell.
The first film was followed by an Animated Adaptation by Hanna-Barbera, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures, that was fairly faithful (and even had Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves, and George Carlin reprising their roles). After the second film, the franchise was spun into a live-action series that didn't feature any of the original cast. This new cast voiced the characters when the animated edition moved from CBS to Fox and DiC took over production).
Other spin-offs of the franchise include an Eisner-nominated Comic-Book Adaptation, Bill & Ted's Excellent Comic Book, written and drawn by Evan Dorkin for Marvel Comics, several video games, a toyline from Kenner, and even a short-lived stage musical. There was also a cereal based on the TV show and a Video Game for the Atari Lynx loosely based on the first film.
From 1992 to 2017, the Universal Studios theme parks in Orlando and Hollywood used Bill and Ted in their annual Halloween Horror Nights event as Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure, parodying that year's pop culture and entertainment. The 2009 event, for example, featured Twilight, Megan Fox (well, a male impersonator), Watchmen, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Star Trek (2009), and G.I. Joe, among many others.
In 2020, a final film in the franchise was released, more than 30 years after the original film's debut. The film reunited the first two films' authors, Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, with both Winter and Reeves as well as a few additional members of the first two films' cast. The film finds Bill and Ted as washed-out, middle-aged failures who are given one last chance to adventure through time and space and save the world.
Bill & Ted media:
- Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)
- Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)
- Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020)
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures (1990-1991), the animated series.
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures (1992), the live-action series.
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure (1992-2017)
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Musical Adventure (1998)
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)
- Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Comic Book (1991-1992)
- Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return (2015)
- Bill & Ted Go To Hell (2016)
- Bill & Ted Save The Universe (2017)
- Bill and Ted Are Doomed (2020)
- Bill & Ted Roll The Dice (2022)
- Bill & Ted Present: Death (2022)
- Bill & Ted's Day of the Dead (2022)
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Holiday Special (2022)
- Bill & Ted: The Princesses (2023)
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure: The Guide to a Bodacious Life (2020)
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure: Where Are We, Dudes?: Seek & Find Through Time (2020)
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Game Boy Adventure: A Bogus Journey (1991)
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1991)
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure (1991)
- Bill and Ted's Wyld Stallyns (2018)
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Boardgame (2016)
- Bill & Ted's Riff in Time (2020)
The following most triumphant tropes appear in multiple Bill & Ted works:
- Adaptation Name Change: In the script for The Musical, Princess Joanna is renamed "Princess Mary," possibly to avoid confusion with Joan of Arc. On the cast album, she's "Sarah."
- Air Guitar:
- Bill and Ted celebrate by playing air guitar, which is accompanied by a real guitar lick in the soundtrack. In the first two films, air guitar is the only instrument they know how to play.
- In the second film, the evil B&T develop a "stealth" version (twiddling their fingers as if strumming) after Chuck De Nomolos shoots them a Death Glare for doing the real thing. They continue to use it throughout the movie.
- Aliens Steal Cable;
- In Bill and Ted's Excellent Comic Book says that a broadcast from the concert in Bogus Journey got accidentally transmitted to The Dimension Of Utter Boredom, making the native aliens kidnap the princesses and their sons hoping Bill and Ted will rescue them with the aliens intending to ask the duo to play a concert.
- Bill and Ted Save The Universe reveals that the boys' mothers have been spreading Wyld Stallyns' music throughout the universe.
- Bald of Evil: Chuck De Nomolos is bald and the nemesis of the pair in the second movie.
- Bare Your Midriff: Male version. Bill's customized sweatshirt.
- Book Dumb: Bill and Ted are no good at academia and are in serious danger of flunking history, but they're quite intelligent, as evidenced by their brilliant exploitation of time loops and their impressive vocabulary.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Both Bill and Ted are Book Dumb, but are far smarter than anyone gives them credit for (even themselves), but would rather slack off and play rock music (poorly). Part of their development is them growing out of it.
- Buffy Speak: Bill and Ted have a rather unique vocabulary and speaking style.
- "Excellent!" often followed by an Air Guitar duet.
- The two will gasp "Bogus!" when something bad happens.
- Also, Bill's "Shut up, Ted!" whenever Ted makes a comment about Missy's attractiveness.
- "I am Bill S. Preston, Esq.!" "And I am Ted 'Theodore' Logan!" "Together, we are Wyld Stallyns!!" This is to the point of being Once an Episode in the cartoon series.
- They also have "Catch you later, (X)!" spoken in unison.
- Cluster S-Bomb: Napoleon after a gutter ball. In French, obviously.
- Contrasting Sequel Antagonist;
- The closest thing to an antagonist in Excellent Adventure is Ted's dad who threatens to send him to military school and arrests the historical figures that the boys need for their history report.
- While Bogus Journey introduces De Nomolos, a terrorist from the future who sends robot duplicates to Kill and Replace the duo and change history.
- In Face The Music the new leader of the organisation that gave Bill and Ted the time machine in the first place is trying to kill them because she thinks their deaths will bring about utopia. Though she does send another robot assassin after them. Ted's dad is still being a Fantasy-Forbidding Father but he's in no position to send his adult son to military school.
- Covers Always Lie:
- In Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return, the final issue's cover promises a brawl between Bill and Ted in a Humongous Mecha shaped like Station, against De Nomolos in his own, two headed robot. The story does feature giant robots, but not the ones depicted, nor do they fight.
- In-Universe example in Bogus Journey. The boys complain that Hell does not resemble their album covers.
- Crashing Through the Harem: In Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, the duo get knocked through the wall of an Old West tavern... and into the back room, where the Soiled Doves are making up their faces at a large vanity. Billy the Kid yanks them away while they're still enjoying the view.
- Creator Cameo: Writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson cameo in all three movies. They play waiters in an ice cream parlor in the first, two of Missy's friends at the seance in the second and two demons that Bill and Ted ask for directions in Hell. The credits of all three films specify that Solomon is the stupid one and Matheson is the ugly one.
- Death Takes a Holiday;
- Twice in Bill And Ted's Excellent Comic Book. The first has Death getting annoyed and stealing the time machine for a vacation. The dead start rising as zombies until the duo persuade Death to come back.
- A later issue has Death getting fired and a new Replacement Scrappy Death showing up claiming he'd been waiting for the job for centuries even though he wasn't mentioned the first time Death retired.
- In Bill And Ted's Most Triumphant Return, De Nomolos wins several games of Chess with Death and gives the job of Death to his brother who can't be bothered doing it. This leads to a Bad future where De Nomolos rules most of the universe thousands of years from now and the main cast are all still alive.
- Demoted to Extra:
- Despite having a number of lines in the first film, Bill's dad only has a single reaction, silent shot, looking forlornly at Missy in the sequel.
- Ted's little brother Deacon had a substantial sideplot in the first film, but never shows up in the sequel. He's acknowledged only in Ted's personal Hell, when Ted steals an Easter basket with Deacon's name on it.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Ted claims his full name is Ted "Theodore" Logan. Ted is the shortened name of the name Theodore.
- The Dividual:
- Bill and Ted are of the Twindividual variation; even if they're not actually related and look completely different, they have almost the exact same personality (Bill seems to be slightly more intelligent and practical-minded and Ted slightly more carefree and sociable, but the differences are minimal) and in the plots they're important as a duo, not as individuals. They frequently Speak in Unison.
- Joanna and Elizabeth are even more of an example; they're never seen apart and don't seem to have separate personalities at all.
- And then there's Station, who is literally one mind in two bodies, with the ability to merge back into one being when needed.
- Dork Knight: Bill and Ted use a lot of pop culture references in their chatter. They even dress up as knights and have a mock sword fight while quoting Star Wars.
- The '80s: Excellent Adventure takes place in 1988 and the titular duo make plenty of use of trendy fashion and slang of the era and location.
- Either/Or Title: The Hanna-Barbera animated episode "The Birth Of Rock And Roll, or: Too Hip For The Womb."
- Fandisservice: While Napoleon is at Waterloo, his swimsuit (really just his era underwear) becomes somewhat see-through.
- Fanservice: Most times we see Missy, she's in some fairly tight and/or revealing clothing.
- Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Ted's dad, Captain Logan.
- In the first movie he's trying to send Ted to military school which will stop his band saving the future.
- In the third he refuses to believe the boys' stories about time travel and the afterlife and tells them to get jobs instead of working on a song that'll save the world. He later apologizes when he meets them in Hell.
- The Fool: Bill and Ted are flippant about their schoolwork and can't even take their music seriously in spite of their passion for it.
- Full-Name Basis: Bill and Ted always introduce themselves as "Bill S. Preston, Esquire and 'Ted' Theodore Logan".
- Garage Band: Wyld Stallyns is just the two of them jamming on guitars in Bill's garage initially.
- Garfunkel: Alex Winter, though this is largely because he retired from acting in 1993 to begin a directing career.
- Genius Ditz: In addition to being Book Dumb, Bill and Ted are pretty ditzy, but:
- They grasp time travel well enough to make some Retroactive Preparation.
- Bill not only knows what an Oedipal Complex is, he can recognize he has a minor case.
- Bill and Ted can communicate with and translate for people who speak French, Mongolian, and Ancient Greek.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Bill and Ted do everything together. Including proposing to their girlfriends.
- Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: A fairly mild example, but the energy tendril/claws that emerge and drag the booth into the time circuits don't exactly come across as benevolent.
- Idiot Hero: While they have an intuitive understanding of San Dimas Time, their basic response to everything is almost always (a) tell a dumb joke, (b) make a rock music reference, (c) going along with what someone smarter suggests, or (d) some combination of the above.
- Lethal Chef: Missy can't even prepare grilled cheese sandwiches without torching them.
- Lighter and Softer: Both movies are this for George Carlin, definitely. He doesn't cuss even once in either movie.
- MayDecember Romance: Missy definitely seems to have a thing for men who are old enough to be her father; first marrying Bill's dad, and later Ted's dad. A newspaper headline suggests she later marries Chuck DeNomolos.
- Missing Mom: Neither of the boys' mothers are ever so much as mentioned, let alone explaining where they went. Possibly because digging into that would take the funny out of the running gag with Missy.
- Myspeld Rökband/Xtreme Kool Letterz: WYLD STALLYNS! [air guitar]
- Next Sunday A.D.;
- In Bill And Ted's Bogus Journey Ted mentions the princesses are celebrating their fifth year in the 20th century. They arrived in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure which was set in 1988 so Bogus Journey must be set in 1993 when it was released in 1991.
- In Bill And Ted Face The Music the Great Leader mentions that the concert from Bogus Journey happened 25 years ago, implying the movie was set in 1995.
- Also in Face The Music the duo travel forward to meet their future selves in various years up to 2067. All of these look the same as modern day.
- In Most Triumphant Return Ted complains about 2645 looking the same as 1991 before realising their apartment has been preserved as a museum.
- Nice Guys: Stupid as Bill and Ted may both be, it's hard to deny that they are both sincere, decent and kind-hearted kids when push comes to shove.
- Parody Sue: The founders of a Utopian future are these guys.
- Really Gets Around: Missy, though she seems to stick solely to older men.
- Retroactive Preparation: As dumb as the pair can be, they have an intuitive understanding of this. In the first film, the two realize that since they have a time machine, they can do things like go back in time later to steal a key yesterday to get into a locked building now. This is practically elevated to a martial art in the second film, where the duo and the Big Bad try to out-prepare each other before pointing out that only the winner of the showdown can actually make use of it.
- Ridiculously Successful Future Self: In the present, Bill and Ted are just two dopey fools, but they're destined to create a global utopia.
- Rule of Funny: Much of the films runs on this, not the least of which in the first movie of a bunch of historical figures going along for the ride without much internal conflict.
- San Dimas Time: Trope Namer as time seems to pass in their "home" time at the same rate as their journey in the past does.
- Satellite Love Interest: Joanna and Elizabeth, the Royal Princess Babes. While this was somewhat justified in the first movie due to their brief screen time, they remain featureless in the second movie, even with their more prominent role in the heroes' lives.
- Saving the World With Art: The future is apparently built on the rock and roll of Wyld Stallyns. In this utopia, the air is clean, the water is clean, even the dirt is clean, bowling scores are way up, and mini golf scores are way down.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: For as stupid as the two are, they have a remarkable vocabulary. It's been suggested that Bill and Ted aren't nearly as dumb as they appear, they're just slackers.
- Severed Head Sports;
- In the first movie Ghengis Khan swings a baseball bat at a mannequin in a sports store and sends the head flying through a basketball net.
- In Bogus Journey the evil robot duplicates remove their heads and play basketball with them.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: All three films are far on the Idealistic End, even if 2 is Darker and Edgier, in their belief that love and friendship and make the world a nicer place.
- Stacy's Mom: Bill (and later Ted's) stepmom, Missy. It helps that she's only three years older than Bill and Ted. Ted even asked her to the prom. It's lampshaded in the first movie, when Freud offers to psychoanalyze Bill during the history report, and he responds, "Nah, just got a minor Oedipal complex."
- Stern Teacher: Mr. Ryan believes that Bill and Ted are capable of more, but lack proper motivation.
- Surfer Dude: Bill and Ted are from Southern California, so their speech includes a lot of So-Cal surfer slang even though they're not surfers and San Dimas is a fair distance inland.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Yes, Bill and Ted will eventually usher in a Utopia with their music. However, they are presently two dumb teenagers who are failing schoolwork, so their musical abilities at the time leaves for a lot to be desired.Rufus: They do get better.
- Take That!: In the Hanna-Barbera cartoon, Bill and Ted run into Rufus at a record store, where a Take That to then-hot teenybopper group New Kids On The Block (who had a cartoon show then as well) is delivered:Rufus: I was just checking out this new album by New Boys On The Corner.
Bill, Ted: And?
Rufus: They stink.
- Terminator Impersonator;
- Bogus Journey has robot duplicates of Bill and Ted coming back to Kill and Replace them.
- Face The Music has a robot assassin called Dennis sent back to kill Bill and Ted.
- Terminator Twosome;
- Bogus Journey has Rufus grabbing into the time machine to follow the robots back and save Bill and Ted.
- Face The Music has Rufus' daughter, Kelly go back to save the duo from Dennis.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: The "time game" is circular. 'After you win'', you'll grab what you need to win in the first place? It makes sense - relatively - that only the winners can play the game, but we're never told what Bill and Ted did to make them the winners, ie why Chuck De Nomolos couldn't say "no, I set up the key and the gag gun just to give you false hope before I vanquish you".
- Translation Convention: Averted. The quick and convenient time travel in the series does not include instant translation, with characters from non-English speaking cultures like Socrates, Napoleon, and Ling Lun speaking in their native tongues and having to make do with gestures to communicate with the protagonists. The exception is Freud, who knew eight languages and thus speaks in English rather than German.
- Trophy Wife: In Excellent Adventure, Bill's dad has divorced his mother and gotten married to Missy, who is only three years older than his son. In Bogus Journey, they have split up and now Ted's dad is the one married to Missy.
- Utopia: The duo use The Power of Rock to turn the world into one.
- Waxing Lyrical:
- What Happened to the Mouse?: In Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, Chuck DeNomolos has a band of rebels along with the evil robots Bill & Ted. The evil robots are destroyed and Chuck goes back trying to kill Bill & Ted again. Chuck's human henchmen just simply vanished. It's expected they'd be arrested and maybe Chuck's entire army is redeemed. There are Bill & Ted comic books by Boom Comics that pick up from the movie to alternate timelines. There might and might not be or maybe both new henchmen to chuck as his soldiers. In Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return 6 parts there are Chuck's troops and his brother Richie joined his band. Richie and Chuck are both redeemed as are his troops seen in the comics. It's got to be his entire army redeemed as there's never a chance to kill Bill & Ted forever. In issue 5 Grim Reaper chops up the guns of six of Chuck's troops. One of them is a woman. He then clobbers them on the hand of his ax. Also with the other half of Station brainwashed there are 3 men and 1 woman in issue 6 with that other guy.
- Writers Cannot Do Math;
- In Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey Ted mentions the princesses are celebrating their fifth year of living in the 20th century. They arrived in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure which was set in 1988 so Bogus Journey must be set in 1993 instead of 1991 when the movie was released. Most of the newspaper and magazine articles shown in the credits are dated 1991 (a few are dated 2691 so they must be future reprints.)
- In Bill & Ted Face the Music (set in 2020), the Great Leader says Bill and Ted won The Battle of The Bands 25 years ago. Which would mean that Bogus Journey would have to be set in 1995 rather than '91 or '93.
- The Rufus hologram in Face The Music mentions first meeting Bill and Ted in 1989. Though Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure was released in '89, it was explicitly set in 1988.
- The Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return comic has both movies being set in the years they were released.
Catch ya later, troper dudes!