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Headscratchers / Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

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  • Why was the photographer's reaction to Lincoln claiming that he was the real Lincoln when he was asked to take off the "hat and sideburns" to lunge at him and try to grab his hat away instead of making himself more clear or actually checking the costume room himself, and why did the cops not check when they showed up?
  • What even were Sigmund and Socrates doing wrong? They were nowhere near the other historical figures, but they find themselves chased up an escalator.

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  • When Captain Logan finds the tape recorder, why does he immediately assume that it has something to do with his detainees, rather than another dumb prank such as his son and his friend must have pulled before?

  • How did the boys know how the tape that distracted Ted's father ended? They were clearly listening to the tape to find out what it said during the first part, but by the time it ended they had left the room.
    • They were probably ad libbing it at that point. Didn't they mention not remembering how it ended on the tape?
    • Even if they didn't remember a single word of what they'd heard, they'd ultimately make the exact same tape, because it already happened.

  • Bill and Ted pass their history presentation with flying colors, but a large portion of the presentation was delivered by the historical figures. How would your high-school history teacher react if you brought in a Lincoln impersonator to deliver your final presentation on your behalf?
    • Well depending on how accurate the report is I'd probably pass them. Besides for all we know the teacher could have also been from the future.
    • I would find it sufficiently awesome. Definite A+. Remember that they brought in the hot stepmom to help, shall we say, "influence" the teacher's decision as well.
    • They probably gave them extra points for effort for the whole 'show' aspect of it. Plus, it was probably assumed the "impersonators" were acting off of Bill and Ted's direction. Also consider, for the ones that didn't speak English, the two of them did participate in the presentation.
      • If memory serves, there's also a section when Joan of Arc is sword-fighting with one of the two while the other is delivering part of the presentation, suggesting that both are involved. In any case, since we only see little bits of each historical figure's 'contribution', it's likely that Bill and Ted presented some linking material between each figure's part of the presentation.
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    • It's suggested that their assignment only required three or four historical personages — after getting Napoleon, Billy the Kid, and Socrates, Bill and Ted were ready to get a medieval serf and then wrap things up. It's only after they accidentally landed in Austria that Bill decides to snag Sigmund Freud and more historical dudes for extra credit.
      Ted: "Dude, it's Sigmund Frood."
      Bill: "How much time we got left?"
      Ted: "Tons. Why?"
      Bill (grins): "Extra credit, dude."
    • I find it a bit more troubling that Billy the Kid fired a real gun in a crowded theater and nobody seemed to really care.
      • Nobody knew that it was a real gun. They probably thought it was a prop.
      • A "prop" that shoots out light bulbs?
      • not unrealistic at all. In films guns loaded with blanks are treated as magical harmless guns, in reality blanks are still dangerous and even deadly at close range. I can’t remember the distance between the gun and light, but if Bill and Ted were asked, they could make that excuse somewhat realistically.
      • Sure. Consider, in the movie, it probably was a prop that "shot out" a lightbulb. Everyone would have figured Bill & Ted had managed to get ahold of the same special effects they use in movies, considering they get in a phone booth and disappear at the end.
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    • Compare the presentations given by other students: the girl who says Marie Antoinette in our day might say "Let them eat fast food," and the guy whose presentation ends with "San Dimas High School football rules!" I think their teacher has adjusted his expectations accordingly.
    • Had it been me, they would have at least lost some points for Socrates, whose section of the presentation consisted of telling people that he loves baseball and San Dimas.
      • It's not just a history report, it's a presentation on how historical personalities would respond to modern-day San Dimas. Besides, the editing makes it seem like Socrates had more of a contribution than what was shown.
    • Very few impersonators (except maybe Elvis ones) know everything there is to know about the person they portray and their lives, at least not to the extent and detail as the one who actually lived it. The same goes for actors, unless you are speaking of ones who totally immerse themselves in their characters or who are just devoted to doing a good job. But Bill and Ted wouldn't be able to afford such people, or even be able to find them and convince them to perform in their school report (as it is, the fact they were accepted as actors at all must be because of their living in SoCal and thus able to find and pay cheap actors). Ergo, the teacher would have to assume that the "actors" were given their scripts and coached by Bill and Ted, so that all the information given and its verisimilitude/accuracy would be ascribed to them as well. Thus, the A.
    • The teacher's grade is Truth in Television. This troper recalls a Real Life project assigned by a teacher involving researching a career, in which points were awarded (mostly double-digits) for various aspects of the project, with a Golden Snitch rule — awarding triple-digit points — for having someone who actually has the job come and talk to the class. Combine this with the duo's showmanship and (as said above), the fact that they are interacting with the historical figures, and an A is realistic.

  • Why are Lincoln, Beethoven, and Freud so blase about being kidnapped?? Especially Lincoln. I'll grant that it would be relatively easy for someone with a time machine to be able to kidnap the president, but not without his objecting. I mean, the man has a country and a war to oversee to and none of these folks, from what I know of them, would take very kindly to being abducted by a couple of jerkoffs who want help with a school project. Maybe when they heard what was at stake, but Beethoven couldn't even understand English. (The movie's Beethoven: I don't know whether the real one could or not.)
    • Well Lincoln did put up a fight at first.Besides the Secret service wasn't created until after Lincolns assassination. Besides back then they probably figured that no one would try and kidnap or assassinate the president. Beethoven was at least mostly deaf at that point if not completely. Beethoven was also absorbed in his performance. Freud thought he was hallucinating and after a brief fight went along with it to see how it ended. Billy the kid was grateful that they saved his life. Socrates didn't understand anyone and probably figured that the gods sent them or something. Joan thought they were angels sent by god because of how they appeared before her. Genghis figured that it would be a new land to conquer.
    • I think the logic of the movie is, more or less, "Lincoln was a good dude; he'd quickly recognize that our heroes are basically good dudes." If you're not satisfied with that level of logic, I think you've got the wrong movie.
      • Not to mention, wouldn't you want to know what the future was like? He was probably pissed at first, but decided this was a golden opportunity to see what life would be like. Let's hope he didn't ask anyone how his presidency ended...
      • Funny story: About 2 weeks before his assassination, Lincoln had a dream where he saw himself dead. He believed that dreams were windows to the future, but that is was wrong to try and change the future. If he did find out about his death, he would have probably been OK with it, seeing as how he kept the union together and ended slavery.
      • Knowing that he'd be considered a great president by future generations, rather than blamed for letting the war get started in the first place, was probably very vindicating also.
    • As for Beethoven, Freud could have translated for him.
      • Also, as a point of interest, Beethoven was, in real life and as it is implied in the movie, totally deaf. So no, I don't think either version understood English.
      • Beethoven became deaf in his late 20s. He was not deaf his entire life (although he did pretty much compose the entirety of his Ninth Symphony while deaf).
      • It's a moot point, since he was well past his late 20s in the movie.
      • And then there's the Rule of Funny: the guys drag him off while he's playing, and he still thinks he is playing. C'mon. He was deaf, not blind. But hey, ROF. So one can possibly let it slide.
      • The boys claim Beethoven liked Bon Jovi music. Presumably he still has some hearing left when they booth-knap him; his hair looks gray because it was powdered as per 18th century fashion, not because he's an old man.
    • Don't know about the others, but Joan of Arc probably thought Bill and Ted were angels and would be quite willing to do whatever they wanted. She would've excused their odd language as being the language of Heaven, which she would consider herself not yet worthy to understand.
      • So a woman who'd dedicated her life to expelling the English from her homeland didn't notice or care that angels were speaking the language of her enemies?
      • considering her time period English was either Anglo-Saxon or at the least Olde English so she probably didn't think they were English.
      • Middle English by Joan's time, but the point still holds.
      • "Joan of Arc probably thought Bill and Ted were angels and would be quite willing to do whatever they wanted." It's probably good then that Bill and Ted had already met their future wives by the time they picked up Joan or those three similarly-aged teenagers may have raised the rating on the film.
      • Modern American English and the English that Joan would have known are considerably different. She may even have had a revelation that "Angels can speak in English", which led to her becoming a pacifist and revealing herself as a girl, causing a stable time-loop.
      • This is supported by how exactly their approach to her was handled—she was praying in church, the booth landed right in front of her as if in response to her prayer, and they didn't even speak, simply extending their hands to her. By the time she found out who they really were (and that they spoke English) she was already on her way, and could be convinced that the mission was necessary to save the world or some such. Just knowing her story was set down and remembered, that she had fulfilled God's mission well enough for that, would be enough for her. Not to mention the whole time travel thing would seem like something divine to her anyway.
      • People, in case you didn't notice, Joan wasn't even speaking the right dialect of French in this movie. I think we can chalk it all up to Rule of Funny.
      • Not to mention that, even by "modern day" standards, Bill and Ted had a very unconventional way of speaking - so it would sound even more strange to someone from Joan's time.
      • Joan's enemies did not spoke English, they spoke French like her. The Hundred Years War was not a war between countries in the modern sense (as they didn't existed at the time) but between Feudal houses, both of which spoke French. Yes, maybe the English soldiers spoke some variant of English but how much contact she had with them is another matter. The contact she had with her enemies if any at that point would be with the French-speaking elite.
    • Blase? Where did you get that impression? Lincoln protested rather vehemently when they grabbed him, and so did Freud (they had to have Billy the Kid lasso him and drag him in!). The only one who didn't was Beethoven and that was, as stated, due to the Rule of Funny regarding his deafness. Also note that when the booth first landed, Freud eyed it very closely and curiously; he likely thought he was hallucinating or otherwise having a delusion, and was thus trying to analyze it to figure out what was going on in his psyche. By the time they all get to the future, everything would have been explained to them; even aside from what was at stake, Lincoln would see it as a noble endeavor supporting the study of history, Beethoven would surely appreciate the chance to show off his music where he knows it is appreciated, and Freud might have still believed it all to be a dream or psychological disorder and thus played along with it to study it, because he found it fascinating. (Similarly, imagine Socrates trying to philosophically contemplate what was happening to him and why!) The others, again, would either have been concerned with saving the future, or have enjoyed showing off their prowess/knowledge for the benefit of posterity. (Except Genghis Khan, who just seemed to enjoy showing off period.)

  • When Napoleon was being watched over by the family, why did he not cut the boy's throat when he called the proud Emperor a dick? I would not have allowed that were I Napoleon. I'd execute him and his entire family.
    • Because he was not even there to hear the kid call him that.
    • Napolean was in a strange land in a strange time. Besides if he executed everyone who insulted him there would be no one around to rule over, or an army to conquer much of Europe.
    • Did Napoleon speak English either? Would he have known the modern meaning of "dick"?
    • Yeah, all Napoleon would've had to do was give one order and his army—Oh, wait, right. He was just an unarmed, overdressed man who didn't speak the language he was being insulted in. Napoleon was a leader; even if he was going to order an execution, he wouldn't be the one doing it, and he had no army to do it with.
      • Plus, he had no power at all. Were they in his royal court of France in his proper time, then yes he could've had them arrested and did to them what he pleased. Since he wasn't...
      • Unarmed? He had a sword on his person.
      • But he's not Ax-Crazy. Even if he could understand the boy (which, as said, is pretty doubtful anyway), it's a stretch to say Napoleon, while lost in a strange new world surrounded by people speaking a foreign language, would suddenly just grab his sword and start killing people. Even if he'd like to, he's smart enough to know that he doesn't have any sort of authority in this situation. Remember, Napoleon didn't inherit the title of Emperor, he earned it through military conquest and political skill.
      • Plus, it's a bratty kid who called him that. Is he supposed to be so petty as to dignify a child's rudeness with Disproportionate Retribution? Give the guy some credit for having a bit of honor.
      • And for not being an Ax-Crazy psychopath who personally butchers children if they insult him.
      • Is there any historical record that Napoleon would've done something like arrange the execution of an entire family? If you want to have an emperor do something like that, then you go make your own movie. Don't think I'll be rooting for the emperor, though...
      • Quite the contrary, in fact; Napoleon's rule saw the introduction of the Napoleonic Code to France, one of the most influential civil codes ever and which (with modernizations and modications over time) is still a fundamental part of the French legal system, and which basically was one of the key elements that helped France transform from a near-feudal society where the people in charge basically could execute entire families at a whim to one where the rule of law applied. Make no mistake, Napoleon was hardly a nice guy, but despite the title he was no Caligula.

  • Shouldn't Napoleon have freaked out six ways from Sunday when he met Joan of Arc? She's only the literal patron saint of his empire, for cryin' out loud!
    • Maybe Napoleon didn't place much emphasis on Joan until the meeting. Or it could have been seen as celebrating the saint. Also, she was canonized in 1920, while Napoleon's reign ended in 1814 (although he'd have a three-month second tenure the following year), and he died in 1821, so she wasn't yet even a saint. It should also be pointed out that Napolean spent most of his time with Ted's younger brother and his friends. He didn't meet Joan until the end when it came time to do the presentation.
    • That said, why didn't Billy the Kid freak out when meeting a former president? Why didn't Freud freak out when meeting Beethoven? Wouldn't all of the Western historical figures be impressed to meet Socrates? Wouldn't most of them be scared of Genghis Kahn? There isn't enough time in the movie to deal with all of that. Besides, since it was a movie aimed as mostly teens, they would probably find such scenes boring and confusing.
    • If anything, wonder the opposite: Joan had dedicated her life to ensuring that the ancient Capetian dynasty remained on the throne of France, and now it turns out that, a few hundred years later, they got overthrown anyway, and here's the usurper. All things considered, she took it surprisingly well.

  • I'm just wondering at the viability of our future Messiahs if they are so quick to abduct a quasi-cannibalistic sociopathic warlord like Genghis Kahn and then release him into a crowded California mall. He attacked a mannequin with a metal bat... let's consider ourselves lucky he didn't defile and/or murder any of the children in the play area. Why didn't they pick up Hitler? At least he never killed anyone with his own hands... except himself... and his dog... :(
    • Well, he did sign with his own hands the documents that allowed The Final Solution to take place. So...Yeah.
      • Bill and Ted probably didn't want to pick up Hitler because even they knew he was a totally bogus dude dickweed.
    • Genghis Khan gets a pretty bad reputation. While his armies were certainly composed of barbarians, he himself was quite an intelligent and capable leader. Life in the Mongol Empire was actually pretty okay — local elections, rather than a feudal system; the first postal service; women treated comparatively better than they were in Europe; etc.
      • Pretty much this. And if you don't accept that Bill and Ted knew about his qualifications as a leader consider this: Hitler, in addition to being a total dickweed, was a tiny little failed painter. Genghis Khan, on the other hand, is f***ing metal!
      • Actually, I'd be willing to argue that Khan actually being a pretty cool dude makes their decision to set him loose even more confusing. Surely Bill and Ted, just barely being acquainted with Hollywood History let alone the real thing, would think he's a horrible, violent person?

  • If dialing the phone number for San Dimas one number lower takes them into last night, then why should Bill and Ted worry about the clock in San Dimas "always running"? They should be able to have complete control over when they get back. Hell, Ted has a trash can materialize out of thin air at the precise moment he needs it, and they're worried about missing the report.
    • They have to worry about the clock because they're getting older. That means that if they travel back in time for a year, when they show up for the presentation, they are a year older. If they travel around for 50 years, they will show up at the same moment - 50 years older. They also need to sleep, eat, etc, they aren't simply in a place where time doesn't affect them
    • Rufus explaining that "the clock in San Dimas is always running" gives their adventures a deadline; considering how much time they spend goofing off BEFORE they get a time machine, they'd probably spend a couple of years using the booth to see vintage Sabbath and Maiden concerts, or getting drunk in the Old West. The deadline is basically a semi-lampshaded excuse to move the plot forward in a time travel movie. And Rufus giving no justification to it can be lumped in with what Bill and Ted simply don't know about time travel technology. "How?". "Modern Technology, William..."
    • And speaking of the trash can, Bill and Ted broke out a bunch of people from jail. Forget that they're historical figures; no one is going to buy that story. They committed a federal offense. Just because Ted's dad realizes that they're part of Ted's report does not mean they're off the hook; they should have faced some serious jail time themselves...unless someone from the future came back to change their minds.
      • Considering that the future people were willing to give two complete bozos like Bill and Ted a time machine in order to preserve the future society, this is almost certainly what happened.
      • Ted's father is obviously pretty influential in the police department, and the fact that he's clearly impressed and happy about Ted actually buckling down and studying and doing so well in the presentation probably turned him around from looking for any excuse to bust Ted's balls and instead had him doing something supportive (like making the issue of a jail break go away).

  • Why was Beethoven arrested along with the other historical figures? I mean, he didn't do anything wrong, aside from possibly hogging the piano, and even then the music store owner could have just thrown him out.
    • It seemed like the music store owner was trying to throw him out, and probably called the cops when that didn't work.
    • On the subject of Beethoven, why would he be impressed with a synthesizer keyboard? The man was at least partially deaf when he composed Fur Elise (He was playing it when Bill and Ted kidnapped him- and he didn't seem to notice a phone booth landed just behind him.) and wouldn't even feel much of a vibration from a modern sound synthesizer, unless it had one hell of a bass boost.
      • Possibly he'd stopped by a shop that sold hearing aids first?
      • My understanding is that Beethoven was stone deaf, so a hearing aid wouldn't have helped. I have to admit, this bugged the hell out of me the last time I saw the movie.
      • The answer's mostly just Rule of Cool, but maybe it was the lack of vibration rather than the sound that intrigued him about the keyboard. Perhaps he felt just enough vibration from the speakers to realize it's working, but since the keys don't use strings he could play it a whole lot faster than an ordinary piano.
      • Beethoven didn't go completely deaf until about 1814, and could still hear (although poorly) as late as 1812. Fur Elise was composed between 1810 and 1812. Beethoven probably figured out how to turn the volume on the keyboards all the way up, which is why he was having such a good time playing. ("I can hear the music! This is awesome!") Although why anybody would object to the Maestro playing as loud as he damn well wanted is beyond me.
    • He was playing the music obnoxiously loud, in order to let him hear. This most likely annoyed the store-owner who (after asking for him to leave) called the police.
    • I also wondered this. It seems to me that any reasonable shopkeep would have loved the free publicity Beethoven was bringing to his store. Seriously, look at that crowd!
      • Free publicity is only good if the crowds actually buy something. If not, they're just a bunch of rubberneckers cluttering up his store listening to some crazy-dressed guy perform an impromptu concert for free.
      • Not quite true. Even if they do not buy anything today, the store's profile and memorability has been boosted and positive associations between the store and potential customers' minds have been created which greatly enhances the probability of many members of that crowd coming in in the future. Reducing it to a case of not buying anything on that visit so not a valuable activity undervalues the long term benefits of publicity.
      • Yes, but the store owner has to consider the present as well as any hypothetical future. That a few of those people might possibly come back at some hypothetical point in the future doesn't change the fact that he's not getting any actual business done now become some jerk has decided to use one of his keyboards (without asking or paying him, let us note) to throw an impromptu concert that is clogging up his store with people who aren't paying for anything. His store isn't a free concert venue, and only a handful of those people are likely to come back and buy something. There's publicity, and then there's some guy essentially taking over his place of business and shutting it down without getting his permission to do so or giving him any money to compensate for the interruption.
      • Running on that:
  • Why did mall security hand Joan over to the city police?
    • Because she's been causing trouble (from their perspective) and they're not actually cops; they don't have the power to arrest and detain people indefinitely, they only have the authority to do so until an official law enforcement agent arrives.

  • Why did Joan of Arc hijack the exercise class? I understood everyone else's actions, but that just seemed random.
    • Maybe she took it for military training and was getting them ready to fight the English?
    • Yeah, I think her thought process was "oh, they're in combat training! But I've never seen this style before. Hey, it looks like fun!" ...and then her being a natural leader who's used to rallying troops just kinda took over.

  • Anyone else find it a little sad that Bill and Ted befriend all of these historical figures... most of whom died in tragic and sometimes violent ways? Lincoln: assassinated. Socrates: unjustly executed. Joan of Arc: burnt at the stake. Beethoven: possibly poisoned. Billy the Kid: likely shot to death (although his status as a criminal is debateable so it's either a justifiable death or an unjustifiable death depending on what accounts you subscribe to). Kahn and Napolean weren't exactly the nicest guys so maybe their deaths aren't as much of a Tear Jerker as the others.
    • Depends on who you ask; both Napoleon and Gengis are considered national heroes in their respective countries. Try to insult Napoleon or Temudjin near a French or a Mongol respectively, if you feel lucky.
    • One of the Wild Mass Guessings here suggests that Bill and Ted's interactions with those folks caused their untimely deaths, in some Timey Wimey way. Sorry if that made you cry some more! (Also, you forgot Freud's death, perhaps the saddest of them all.) Meanwhile, in terms of Real Life, it doesn't seems like a stretch to suppose that there's a strong correlation between lasting historical fame and getting killed; if you stick your head out far enough it'll be chopped off. (At least, when it comes to political/military leaders, which four of those folks were.)
      • Oh yes, Frued suffered from Cancer, then asked his friend to kill him via morphine overdose. They really did get some tragic figures, didn't they?
    • Bill and Ted idolize rock stars. I'm sure they're used to the concept of people they like and admire dying badly.
    • This is actually Played for Laughs in one of the comic books. Bill and Ted need guidance, so they go to visit the wisest person they know; Socrates. Who is just about to drink the hemlock that will end his life. After annoying the hell out of him (he can apparently understand them in this continuity), he is actually quite enthusiastic about drinking the stuff.
    • It occurs to me that most of those figures could be the Ur-Example on how to Face Death with Dignity. All of them are remembered centuries (or millennia) after they die. Knowing this, they'd probably feel better about their inevitable deaths. After all, everybody dies sooner or later, and somebody like Lincoln would probably take comfort knowing that he won the war, freed the slaves, and was rememberd as one of the greatest Presidents in history.
      • That would be even truer in the cases of Socrates and Joan of Arc. Both were condemned by a tyrannical justice system and sentenced to death after rejecting the equivalents of plea bargains which would have required both to revoke every belief they stood for. Now consider this: What better motive do you have to defy your oppressors and Face Death with Dignity than to know that you'd not only be Vindicated by History, but the government who convicted you would become universally reviled?

  • Just a small nitpick, but how did Napoleon wearing his full outfit not attract attention? I mean, if you saw a guy in a full Napoleon outfit walking around, people would think strangely. Yet neither the waiters or the bowling alley manager comment on it.
    • He could've been walking home from a play or something for all anyone else knows.
    • It's Southern California. Shit like that happens.

  • If such influential people in history had learned and accepted Bill and Ted's philosophy, then shouldn't the golden age have started a lot sooner?
    • Maybe this is simply how their golden age got kickstarted.
    • They went from the world of the nineties to basically old-school Gallifrey in a couple of hundred years. That's actually a pretty quick achieving of uber-technological utopia, if you extrapolate from our previous development.
      • Eh, not quite. The Wright brotheres flew for the first time in 1903, and 66 years later a man was walking on the moon.

  • Assuming Bill & Ted woke up at 6 AM the first day, then from when they woke up to the end of their report, they've been awake for 33 hours, and show no signs of fatigue.
    • The shock and constant adrenaline rush of the movie's plots could have kept them going. It's likely that as soon as they got home afterwards, they just completely collapsed for a solid twelve hours.
    • Plua, y'know... teenagers.


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