Betelgeuse (also known as Beetlejuice) is a trickster and mischievous ghost. He is the main antagonist of his own live-action movie.
Betelgeuse is a very rude, crude, and womanizing ghost. He also gets a little crazy at times. Though he seems fun on screen, it is clear he is not a pleasant person to have around in real life, as he constantly invades people's personal space, does disgusting things like spitting in his own coat and makes rather rude gestures. Also, he likes to use, well, unpopular words. Not only that, he seems to love to scare people out of their pants and pull pranks on them. He also seems to be quite selfish, as his main goal in the movie is to lift his curse and escape no matter who gets hurt in the process. He has the attitude of a sleazy used car salesman. Ironically, he is a corpse who eats insects, including flies and beetles. Beetlejuice could be 600 years old as derived from his line after scaring the Deetzes as a snake implied “I'm feeling a little anxious, if you know what I mean, It's been about 600 years.” Although his age has never been officially confirmed this line could be the best approximation of his age, which would make his birth at the time of the movie somewhere around mid 1300 A.D if he died in his 30’s.
Though there was no attempt to hide the fact that Betelgeuse was not meant to be a nice character, even the heroes who summoned him knew that he was, pretty much, a demon.
Despite his malicious nature, Betelgeuse also acted as a benefactor of sorts to the heroes. He was still used as a force of (relative) good, as his chaos was directed largely at a group of human antagonists, though he was still rude, obnoxious, and hostile towards the heroes as well.
He shows an interest in Lydia during most of the movie, and at nearly the end of this movie, he tries to force her into marrying him to fulfill a contract. He almost succeeds until he is stopped by Adam and Barbara Maitland, as well as a sandworm.
According to Betelgeuse, he attended Julliard, is a graduate of the Harvard Business School, traveled quite extensively, lived through the Black Plague (and had a pretty good time during that), and has seen "The Exorcist" about 167 times (and it keeps getting funnier every single time he's seen it, not to mention the fact they're talking to the dead guy). Parts of his qualifications including attending Julliard, graduating from Harvard, and extensive travel are all real life accomplishments. This and other lines were improvised during filming and it is possible that the character of Betelgeuse was lying about certain elements of his past for comedic effect with the Maitlands.
What is known for certain, per Juno's warning to the Maitlands, is that Betelgeuse was once Juno's assistant (which implies he committed suicide in life since working for her counts as being a civil servant. The explanation of his suicide by hanging was left out of the film) but he was a troublemaker. He went out on his own as a freelance bio-exorcist, claiming he could get rid of the living, and got into more trouble. Also ironically, he is "Living-Buster"--a ghost who exterminates the living by scaring them away.
Betelgeuse used advertisements (such as flyers, business cards and a commercial, where he said some questionable things about chewing and swallowing) to get the Maitlands to hire him as a "bio-exorcist" to rid their house of the Deetzes. They thought it was odd that the business card and flyers contained no address or phone number. The Maitlands summon him when they learn that he can be summoned if his name is said 3 times in a row.
Things go bad when Betelgeuse starts scaring the Deetzes in ways that seriously harm them, and even worse, plans to marry Lydia as his way of "escaping" the Neitherworld so he can wreak further havoc. Fortunately, saying his name 3 times can also be used to get rid of him.
In the end, Betelgeuse ends up in the waiting room for the deceased, where he is last in a long line. Betelgeuse gets his comeuppance when he steals the Witch Doctor's ticket, then makes a boastful remark. The Witch Doctor sprinkles some powder on Betelgeuse, which causes his head to shrink. However, Betelgeuse, with his higher voice on account of this, remarks this may look good for him in a supposed underwear modeling gig.
In early drafts of the script, Betelgeuse was supposed to assume a variety of forms, with his true form being that of a winged demon (the filthy pale man wearing black and white stripes was originally going to be one of the many forms he assumed). Instead of being stuck in a waiting room, Betelgeuse was going to be destroyed at first.
Betelgeuse's name is often spelled phonetically as "Beetlejuice", as in the title. However, during the film his name spelled Betelgeuse (like the star of Orion, Betelgeuse) during his ad on TV, and everywhere in the grave scene.
There has been great debate over which spelling of his name is correct. Some say that because his name is the same as the introduction, this is proof that they meant it as Beetlejuice while others claim that was an error as the credits of the film spell his name "Betelgeuse". Nowhere during the film is his name spelled "Beetlejuice", unless watched with subtitles on, in which it is said from Lydia's interpretation from playing charades with him. Yes there is spelling of "Beetlejuice" in the film. The begining credits title the film "Beetlejuice". The Maitlands used the astrological spelling... after several mispronunciations.
Some also argue that he may not have been permitted to write his name the way it should, much like he can't say his own name. However, it is just as likely that he cannot misspell his own name any more than a mispronunciation of it can summon him, a condition which compounds his curse since his name is not spelled phonetically. It is also worth noting that there are hints of a greater meaning in several of the names in the movie, since Betelgeuse means "the hand of Orion" and Betelgeuse's former master was named Juno, a character clearly named after the Queen of the Roman gods, protector and special councilor of the state.
Powers and abilities
- Reality warping
- Levitation / Flight
- Teleportation (Himself and others)
- Can conjure / summon objects
- Can mimic people's voices
Beetlejuice from the Animated Series
In the animated series, Beetlejuice was depicted as being slightly more heroic (though he'd still be a bit dishonest and selfish sometimes). The Netherworld generally considers him to be an unwelcome pest. He is often referred to as "BJ" for short. A recurring gag has him using figures of speech and idioms and then changing himself and / or his surroundings to match the pun (e.g., if he says something bugs him, he'll turn into an insect). His relationship with Lydia is more like him being a crazy uncle and friend to her.
For more information of the animated version of this character, go to the animated article.
- Betelgeuse had his own attraction at the Universal Studios theme park called Betelgeuse's Rock 'n' Roll Graveyard Revue. The attraction was eventually shut down, but it has been recently revived. It was permanently closed in early 2016. There were also some skits where Betelgeuse met the Ghostbusters, most of which had him possess the boys in gray and humiliate them by singing songs, such as "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "I'm Too Handsome." Some of these skits ended with the Ghostbusters busting Betelgeuse.
- Originally it was going to be mentioned that Betelgeuse committed suicide when he hung himself over a woman when he was drunk - and that he botched the job and ended up suffocating painfully instead of a quick snapped neck. There's not much time for it.
- It's implied he was involved before as there's a severed finger with a ring in his pocket. He remarks, "I'm tellin' ya', honey! She meant nothing to me! Nothing at all!" We understand that those who commit suicide are civil-servants in the afterlife. In an earlier draft, we hear Betelgeuse committed suicide over losing a woman he loved. And he was a civil-servant--Juno's assistant. Until he caused trouble and was exiled into a model town in one of the graves to scale with his powers greatly reduced.
- His signature black-and-white striped suit he wears is meant to resemble a two-bit hustler/salesman's wardrobe and to represent that he is a prisoner.
- The scene where Betelgeuse terrorizes the Maitlands as a snake was originally going to have him look more like an actual snake. A stop motion model of the snake head was constructed before the decision to make his head look more Keaton like.
- Kenner made an action figure line based on the movie. It featured Adam, Otho, Harry the Haunted Hunter and several different versions of Betelgeuse. Most of the figures of the first wave featured a swappable head and a minifigure of Betelgeuse in the guise of some small creature like a snake or Beetle. However throughout the line he's referred to in the phoenetic "Beetlejuice" spelling. Betelgeuse had figures on him from the movie in his groom outfit, his carousel outfit and his spiked form. He also had two non-canonical figures, and exploding one with an inner beetle body weating a blur and yellow version of his wedding suit, and one in a lifejacket where snakes could pop up out of his head.
- Betelgeuse made an appearance in LEGO Dimensions.