Daria’s cameo in Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe is a solid gag but could have potentially been used to further flesh out the world.
The following contains spoilers for Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe, now streaming on Paramount+.
Debuting in 1992 and quickly becoming some of MTV’s biggest characters, it really shouldn’t be surprising that the animated series ended up spawning a spin-off like Daria. With the characters’ return in the Paramount+ feature-length film, Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe, the creators even found a way to reference the second series to come from that take on mid-1990s Texas.
Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe features a quick (but pretty great) cameo appearance from everyone’s favorite MTV misanthrope, Daria. But while it’s a solid little shout-out that doesn’t disrupt the film, it does raise the prospect of some missed opportunities for a deeper revisit to the character.
In the film, Beavis and Butt-Head quickly disrupt a science fair that promises to take the winners to NASA Space Camp. In doing so — turning a robotic leg set to kick a football into an easy way to send Beavis flying through the air from a particularly brutal shot to the groin — the duo cause massive damage to the building and destroy almost all of the other experiments. This quickly gets them arrested and set before a judge, who seemingly is set to give them an incredibly harsh punishment. This overjoys some of the audience in the courthouse, including frequent antagonists from the original series Coach Buzzcut and Principal McVicker. Among the group can be spotted Daria — who flashes a smile at their pending punishment and appears just as disappointed as the rest of the group when the pair are instead sent to Space Camp as their “punishment.”
This is actually a pretty solid reference to Daria’s history with Beavis and Butt-Head as the character was originally conceived as a recurring character in the duo’s show before becoming a breakout star in her own right. A quiet and clever young woman whose perpetual stoic nature contrasted against the loud idiocy of the show’s title characters, Daria quickly became a fan favorite part of the show. As Beavis and Butt-Head reached its original ending in 1997, Daria was given her own spin-off series — simply titled Daria — that became a critically-acclaimed hit and wound up running for five seasons (with two feature-length specials sprinkled throughout). It’s a brief cameo for the character, but one that makes sense given her history with the characters.
However, it’s a shame that Daria couldn’t play a larger role in the film. Overall, Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe is almost comedically uninterested in the fates of the rest of the supporting cast. Even one of the film’s potentially biggest lore dumps about what befell the main cast after Beavis and Butt-Head were flung into the present day is upended as a gag — when the pair return to Beavis’ old house and discover it’s being sold, the realtor tries to explain what befell Beavis’ mother. But the pair are so distracted destroying stuff with the garbage disposal that not even the audience can make out what actually happened to her. Similarly, the film seems uninterested in introducing the 2022 versions of other mainstay characters of the original series, including Daria.
This is honestly a shame. Daria’s growth outside of Beavis and Butt-Head makes her an inherently interesting character to throw against them once again. The fact that she’d have aged realistically while the pair were still the same morons as before could have provided some solid opportunity to poke fun at how comedy has changed (and not changed) over the years. There’s even an easy way to include her within the context of the plot — as Beavis and Butt-Head could have encountered the grown Daria while briefly making their way through a local college, either as a teacher or guest speaker. While this might have upended the uniquely unrelenting nature of the film’s actual plot progression, it could have been a sweet moment and a chance for fans of Daria to get a clue as to what her life has become decades after her series ended.
To catch the Daria cameo, Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe is streaming on Paramount+ now.
Brandon Zachary is an Associate Writer with Comic Book Resources and has written for CBR since 2018. He covers breakouts on comics, film, television, video games, and anime. He also conducts industry interviews, is a Rotten Tomatoes certified film critic, and knows SO MUCH about the X-Men. For requests, comments, or to hear his pitch for a third Avatar series that incorporates robots, you can contact him through email@example.com.