If you haven’t seen Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, please first watch the trailer. Actually everyone just watch it because it’s amazing.
Okay so very quick synopsis: Bill and Ted are in danger of failing history, and this is an enormous problem for Rufus. Rufus lives quite far in the future, and it turns out Bill and Ted formed an amazing band named Wyld Stallyns...and their music forever changed the world for good and peace and harmony. But remember, our guys are in serious danger of failing history, and if THAT happens, Ted has to go to military school and Wyld Stallyns will never be. Basic math then tells you that if Wyld Stallyns never form, Rufus’s future is doomed! Therefore Rufus is ordered to take a time-traveling phone booth back to San Dimas, current day, and make sure Bill and Ted pass history.
The time-travel rules in this movie aren’t the worst I’ve ever seen, but they’re pretty hilariously awful, and the entire movie is amazing. Rufus teaches Bill and Ted how to use the booth, and he encourages them to use the booth to go get actual historical figures to speak at their history presentation. (If they don’t get an A+ on the oral history report the following afternoon, Ted flunks and is headed to Alaska.) Due to some other confusing time travel rules, B&T only have a few hours of actual time to get what they need!
Over the next 80 hilarious minutes, they travel back in time to abduct/collect/euphemism for kidnap Billy the Kid, Napoleon, Socrates, Genghis Khan, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Sigmund Freud, and Beethoven, shepherd them around San Dimas for most of a day (during which Napoleon wanders off), and put on one hell of a high school history report. They get an A+, Ted gets to stay, and Wyld Stallyns lives on to save the future. Here’s a lengthy synopsis.
In my favorite scene, a bunch of the famous historical figures emerge from the phone booth in front of Bill’s stepmom, Missy. Needing to remain incognito, B&T introduce each history person using a fake name, and Missy totally buys it. For each of the characters listed below, I included the given nickname, where applicable.
Finally, I haven’t seen this movie in at least fifteen years, and I didn’t watch it to prepare for this poll. I did, however, along with three of my friends, serve as emcee for the high school talent show my senior year. For each of our introductions/bits, we just acted out our favorite scenes from either Wayne’s World or Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, slightly rewritten to incorporate the name of the upcoming act. TL;DR: We had to prep and write our intros so we watched Bill & Ted a dozen times that year and I still remember a shocking amount about the movie.
Michigan (#1)—Bill S. Preston, Esquire
High: 1 Low: 1 First-Place Votes: 16 (224 points)
You did it, Michigan! For the first time in what’s gotta be 10+ years, you’re at the top of the OTE Power Poll! And as would happen, your award is being the first-named person in the title of the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure—Bill.
A co-founder of the Wyld Stallyns, when people think of this movie, you’re absolutely one of the Big 2. As the smarter of the two main characters (right? maybe not…), you keep that phone booth on the move, driving the plot of the movie and giving ample opportunities for your best bud Ted to thrive. Even more, Michigan football—much like “Bill” actor Alex Winter’s career—started really strong way back when, but the other half of your Big 2—Keanu Reeves—has had much, much, much, much, insanely much more recent success. Finally, of COURSE you add “Esquire” to your name, because of course you do.
Really the best part of Bill S. Preston, Esquire is the weird ongoing awkwardness that is his dad’s marriage to Missy. It’s hard enough having to call your dad’s new wife “Mom,” but it’s even harder when she was a senior when you were a freshman. Plus, Bill’s dad absolutely knows it’s weird, and he rubs his hot, young, daughter-aged wife in Bill’s face throughout.
Iowa (#2)—Abraham Lincoln
H: 2 L: 4 (196 points)
During my personal favorite part of the movie, Bill and Ted have landed the time-traveling phone booth in Bill’s backyard where Missy is watering the grass or flowers or something. Instructed by Rufus to keep what they were doing on the DL (I think? I can’t remember), Bill and Ted suddenly have to explain to Missy who all these famous historical figures are. Taking it in turns, Ted and Bill manage to come up with a fake name for everyone who steps out of the phone booth, until the very end of the line. Out steps Lincoln, looking exactly how everyone would expect him to look, and he’s introduced as “and….Ab…ra…ham…Lincoln.”
Is there anything more Kirk Ferentz and Iowa than being the only historical figure with his plain ol’ regular name, no fancy attempt to conceal exactly who he is? I mean, I guess punting from the opponent’s 32-yard line is more KF and Iowa than that…but it’s a photo finish between those two.
Honestly, you may be my favorite character in the movie (but lol, Iowa punt return team). Your abduction is a low-key affair, but you get the fun no-nickname intro, you get to explain to Ted’s dad how to spell “Lincoln” (“That’s L-i-n C o-l-n”), and you get to close out the San Dimas oral history report...assembly? show? (side note: Why are there SO many people in the audience?) with an awesome speech:
Abraham Lincoln: Fourscore and... [looks at his pocket watch] ...seven minutes ago... we, your forefathers, were brought forth upon a most excellent adventure conceived by our new friends, Bill... and Ted. These two great gentlemen are dedicated to a proposition which was true in my time, just as it’s true today. Be excellent to each other. And... PARTY ON, DUDES!
Ohio State (#3)—Ted Theodore Logan
H: 2 L: 4 (195 points)
You’re the “Ted” in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” a.k.a. the other half of the Big 2. You’re Keanu Reeves! a.k.a. character’s actor who has actually accomplished something since this movie long ago. When people think of this movie, they think of you saying “Strange things are afoot at the Circle K,” getting your mind blown and forever creating the Whoa.gif, and for giving Bill ENDLESS shit about Bill’s dad banging Bill’s young stepmom.
Missy: Hi, Bill. Want a ride?
Bill: Sure, Missy. I mean, Mom.
Ted: Your stepmom’s cute.
Bill: Shut up, Ted.
Ted: Remember when she was a senior and we were freshman?
Bill: Shut up, Ted!
(After Bill’s dad boots them from the room for Missy sexy time)
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: Remember when I asked her to the prom?
Bill: SHUT UP, TED!
Ted Theodore Logan: Absolute legend.
Wisconsin (#4)—Genghis Khan/Bob Genghis Khan
H: 2 L:6 (176 points)
As pictured above, you were lured into the phone booth by a Twinkie. What were you doing just before the phone booth showed up?
You were being fed gigantic pieces of meat while wearing your winter coat. Seems exactly like something that might work on a Wisconsinite…per stereotypes. You’re a big, burly dude who just rolls over and crushes whatever is in front of you. You get one awesome scene in the movie, and you use it to grab a baseball bat and absolutely bludgeon a sporting goods store as if it were a non-con opponent’s rushing defense in the second half of a Week 2 matchup.
Despite inflicting a lot of destruction, you’re eventually taken down by a more talented, sophisticated, and obviously athletic group of security officers—just before you can escape the store, completely victorious destruction in hand. The analogy here is Wisconsin beats up on weaklings, gets “close” to winning it all in the CCG...and then gets arrested, which is basically like losing but with crimes.
Penn State (#5)—Missy/I mean Mom/Bill’s step-mom
H: 2 L: 7 (162 points)
Missy is a relative newcomer to the Bill and Ted relationship, seeing as she’s only three years older than them, and at most she was out of high school for three years before marrying Bill’s dad. Missy insists that Bill treat her and act like she’s his mother, which only compounds the oddness of the whole marriage/family arrangement. You don’t get to do a lot during the movie, but everything you do chips away at an undermines Bill just a little bit more, an honorable task that Bill’s dad and Ted are happy to join in on.
Beyond being a straight hottie, you’re also either surprisingly friendly or disappointingly dumb. Your gullibility permits our heroes and all of their figures of historical significance to step out of a time-traveling phone booth, introduce themselves with what are obviously fake names, and carry on with their future-world-saving task of helping with a history report. You’re definitely 2nd or 3rd fiddle in the movie, but you’re critical in so many significant, perky ways.
(Side note: This analogy worked better when Michigan’s recent history sucked a little more)
Billy the Kid: (seeing Missy from inside the phone booth) Whoa, who’s the senorita? She’s cute.
Ted: It’s his mom, dude.
Purdue (#6)—Ludwig van Beethoven/Dave Beeth Oven
H: 5 L:7 (148 points)
You’re abducted from your original time in the middle of a performance for a small, admiring crowd. Our heroes are able to sneak up on you and abduct you because you didn’t hear the coming. At the mall on the day of the history report, you draw a HUGE crowd while you play approximately five different electronic keyboards simultaneously.
You’re stopped without being able to flee after security guards you didn’t hear coming put you under arrest. You are awesome at music, but you keep getting sneaked up on!
You’re still Purdue, so you’re still getting a lot of condescension from the big names in the conference, despite your recent flashy success.
That look on your face, Mr. Beeth Oven. That’s Jeff Brohm about to tell you, Mr. Suit Guy Who Hates Flashy Gimmicks, that he’s gonna run you all over the field, sprinting up and down on offense, faking field goals, and running jet sweeps. Mr. Stuffy Guy can’t possibly know what’s coming.
Unfortunately, as Beethoven had to pair his musical genius with his deafness, Purdue is pairing its offensive genius with defensive….not-genius. At least you get the chance to put on a beautiful concert for all those in attendance at San Dimas High School.
Bill: Beethoven’s favorite works includes Mozart’s ‘Requiem,’ Handel’s ‘Messiah,” and Bon Jovi’s ‘Slippery When Wet.’
Michigan State (#7)—Bill’s dad
H:6 L:8 (128 points)
That picture is everything you need to know about Bill’s dad. I don’t even remember his name, but he’s a total boss when it comes to embarrassing Bill (this analogy made more sense for MSU-UM before this past weekend). I mean, the boys are just sitting there, actually working on their project, when Missy/Mom comes to make sure they don’t go hungry. In comes Bill’s dad, getting in the way of what Bill and Ted are trying to do, and paying Bill off so they’ll leave the room. Dad knows that Bill thinks the whole “stepmom is my age” thing is weird, knows that Ted will dunk on Bill for it repeatedly, and just does it anyway. Why? Because screw you, MSU and PSU are going to try to get under Bill’s skin.
Plus, is there anything more smirky, cold, and calculating, a la Mark Dantonio, than this final power move?
Northwestern (#8)—Socrates/So-krates Johnson
H: 7 L: 10 (106 points)
You’re one of the great thinkers of your time…or all time, I suppose. You taught someone important, and he taught someone important, and so on. The point is, NERD! Really though, as this movie reveals, you learned some important philosophical lessons from Bill and Ted:
Now you know: Day of Our Lives was really about Socrates.
You’re one of the best characters in the entire movie. You don’t say much, but you get to goof off with Billy the Kid all afternoon, shoot your squirt gun into the air, hit on mall girls, and even call Sigmund Freud a geek!
I don’t really have anything to tie this to football, but of course Northwestern is going to be the smartest/nerdiest/most intellectual character in the movie. If you have a hilarious tie-in, talk about it in the comments! So I can steal it, delete your comment, and edit this column.
Maryland (#9)—Sigmund Freud/Dennis Freud
H: 7 L: 11 (96 points)
To Freud, we all look like we like football and talk like we’re here to talk about football. But Freud knows the truth—we all REALLY like basketball; we all REALLY want to talk about basketball. We may deny it, but Freud’s whole deal was revealing what our subconscious wanted, or id or something. And it usually revealed to be sex-with-mother related. Or maybe it wasn’t. Haven’t taken a single psychology class.
Speaking of analysis:
Police Psychiatrist: I don’t know why you claim to be Sigmund Freud.
Sigmund Freud: Why do you claim I’m not Sigmund Freud?
Police Psychiatrist: Why do you keep asking me these questions?
Sigmund Freud: Tell me about your mother.
(Later, during the final oral history presentation)
Freud: (addresses the audience) Therefore, Ted’s father’s own fear of failure has caused him to make his son the embodiment of all of his own deepest anxieties about himself, and hence his aggression transference onto Ted.
Ted: (sitting up from couch)
Freud: (gestures for Bill to lie on the couch)
Bill: No, just got a minor oedipal complex.
H: 8 L: 12 (75 points)
Mr. Ryan: So, Bill, what you’re telling me, essentially, is that Napoleon was a short…dead…dude.
Bill: Well, yeah.
Ted: You totally blew it, dude.
Absolutely everyone knows who you are, and as the first historical figure gathered by our pair (albeit accidentally), you expect a lot of respect. The thing is, your arrival is significant and brings fanfare and then…you just get lost in San Dimas for the entire movie, the rest of the characters having no idea where you are. Well, you didn’t so much get lost as your teenage babysitters purposely ran out on you. Why?
Bill: You ditched Napoleon!
Ted: Deacon, do you realize you have just stranded one of Europe’s greatest leaders in San Dimas?
Deacon: He was a dick!
From the minute you showed up, you were so competitive about everything, you cheated while bowling…you just sucked. You got really grumpy about how bad things had gotten.
Eventually you stopped caring about how awful you were, and just lived and loved life once you discovered Waterloo! Unlike the cold military version that ultimately doomed you historically, this version was just an awesome waterslide park—so amazing that it helped form the basis of your new offensive strategy.
Does Scott Frost have the offensive genius of Napoleon, fresh off a life-changing waterslide experience? Will Nebraska fans find their own personal Waterloo and rediscover joy and happiness? Or was moving to the BigTen/B1G Nebraska’s version of Napoleon’s Waterloo (the one where all those people died)?
Indiana (#11)—Joan of Arc/Maxine of Arc
H: 9 L: 13 (74 points)
When first we meet you, you’re praying in France, on a date and in a location I assume is historically significant. You don’t get to do much beyond walk into the phone booth, as you’re part of the “extra credit” montage scene, but you do eventually take over an aerobics class at the mall (was this a thing???), vowing to institute a full-scale aerobics program for you military units when you got back to France.
You also get to show off your swordfighting skills, getting to beat on Bill...for a while.
But despite being a cool part of the movie, getting to fake fight against Bill, and your unplanned aerobics takeover, you’re still f-ing Joan of Arc. Which means your fate is sealed—you’re obviously going back to be burned at the stake eventually. What an absolute, last-second gut punch. Right, Hoosiers?
Minnesota (#12)—Ox Robbins
H: 11 L: 13 (44 points)
You’re a student, just like Bill and Ted. You had the same exact history assignment as them. Your only job is to give a good history report, and despite your awesome haircut, letterman’s jacket, and football physique, this is all you can come up with?
[Delivering a history report]
Ox : Everything is different, but the same... things are more moderner than before... bigger, and yet smaller... it’s computers... San Dimas High School football rules!
If you’ve never seen the movie, you really need to go find a clip of this scene to understand just how awkward and horrible Ox’s attempt and giving a report is.
Not to worry, Minnesota. Not to worry. Ox has a trick up his sleeve:
PJ Fleck is Ox. They both know exactly what to say to get the crowd fired up (“San Dimas High School Football Rules!”), and they’re both terrible at actually accomplishing what they’re there to do. PJ Fleck is great at exciting, bad at winning football. There’s really nothing more to this character or this analogy, but at least Minnesota gets to be compared to a human.
Illinois (#13)—The Circle K
H: 11 L: 13 (40 points)
Look, you get to be the subject (object? I never learned sentence diagramming) of the best line in the entire movie. Strange things are afoot at you!!! The guy from Speed and The Matrix and uhhh some sort of romantic comedy at some point I’d imagine? mentioned you BY NAME in the movie. But other than that…you’re just a location where the other characters do exciting things. We all know you’re there, you get the briefest of moments to shine, but uhhh you’re not exactly a “character.” Sorry, but you’re just really, really bad at football this season.
At least you’re not a wad of chewed gum or something.
Rutgers (#14)—Wad of Chewed Gum
H: 14 L: 14 LPV: 16 (16 points)
As Bill, Ted, and the figures of historical significance are rushing to escape from the hell that was their visit to some sort of medieval time, the phone booth is juuuuust dropping through the time hole when the metal antenna on top of the booth is struck by the spinning flail of the knight sent to retrieve Bill and Ted (following their escape from a dungeon). The flail bends and breaks the antenna, sending the booth off to a random time in history. If I’m remembering correctly, they end up back in some sort of prehistoric time.
When there, our heroes set to fixing the antenna. In trying to bend the antenna back into place, Bill accidentally breaks off a piece of the antenna. Does this mean our heroes are stuck forever? Of course not, because our guys have a solution.
Each historical figure, Bill, and Ted get a piece of gum and start chewing. Once everyone has gotten to chew nice and long on their piece of gum, they spit it onto the ever-growing ball of gum. Finally, it gets back to Bill who, after adding his own piece of gum to the ball, squishes the entire wad of gum together and re-adheres the antenna and the booth works again, with the help of some now-empty tin pudding cans (don’t think too hard about the science here). The booth wouldn’t have worked again without the Wad of Chewed Gum, but come on. It’s still just a bunch of chewed gum.
You left out Rufus! that was a ____________ choice
This poll is closed
Smart. No one deserves to be Carlin
Smart. But only because no one team stands out enough
Dumb. Just put Michigan as Rufus and bump everyone down one.
Dumb. Just put Michigan as Ruf....wait... Smart!