Mr. Bean

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Mr. Bean (1990-1995) is an incredibly well-loved British comedy by writer Richard Curtis and writer-star Rowan Atkinson.

The show is about a very odd man about whom we know nothing except his last name, who basically wanders around, getting into trouble, finding unique solutions to predicaments, and wilfully causing mayhem. Mr. Bean is perhaps the ultimate example of No Social Skills. Not only does he seem to be unfamiliar with all social conventions and standard methods for doing anything, he never even demonstrates normal human thought processes -- witness his strategy for protecting his furniture and possessions when painting his flat, which is to wrap every single item in newspaper right down to individual grapes.

All the humor is visual, to the point that the character says perhaps a couple dozen words throughout the entire run of the series. Pretty much every plot is based around how Mr. Bean handles an everyday situation, such as going to a department store, going to church, sitting for an exam, etc. In essence, it was a Sketch Show in disguise, especially considering the way that the "plot" was only maintained throughout a few of the episodes.

A theatrical film (simply titled Bean) came out in 1997, and had a number of brilliantly-executed moments -- many of them recycled gags from the TV show -- but suffered from a Hollywood treatment which gave Mr. Bean too much backstory (we now knew his job) and too much dialogue. Nonetheless, it was a smash hit in Britain and throughout Europe and also fared somewhat well in the U.S.

A second movie, Mr. Bean's Holiday, was released in 2007 and has the character traveling to France. It was less Hollywood-sy than the first and Bean hardly says a word.

Followed by an animated series version, which was obviously less well-received by the fans, as Mr. Bean's charm is that he is an actual person doing embarrassing things for real.

In 2006, the MythBusters tried to reproduce Mr. Bean's "dynamite in a paint bucket" method of painting his flat, with no luck.

Not to Be Confused With Mr. Bean the Postman from The Comic Strip Presents: Dirty Movie.

The entire series can be seen on YouTube here.

Tropes used in Mr. Bean include:


  • Adult Child
  • The Alleged Car: Bean's BMC Mini is a small econo-car with character, and Bean makes occasional eccentric modifications to it. Depending on your taste, it could qualify as a Cool Car.
  • All There in the Manual: The tie-in books Mr. Bean's Diary and Mr. Bean's Scrapbook provided a lot of background information that would later be used in the animated series.
  • Altum Videtur: The theme tune. "Ecce homo qui est faba: Behold the man who is (a) bean."
  • Amusement Park: "Mind the Baby, Mr. Bean" takes place at one.
  • Animated Adaptation
  • Aside Glance: The last thing Mr. Bean does in "Do-It-Yourself Mr. Bean".
  • Audible Gleam: The American Express card in "The Return of Mr. Bean", and the engagement ring in "Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean".
  • Big Blackout: In "Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean", he pulls an electric cord out of its socket to test a string of Christmas lights while shopping at Harrods and cuts out all the power to the store.
    • Plus, the time he was out clubbing with his girlfriend and she leaves him for another man, he pulls the fuses on the disco's lights before making a hasty exit.
  • Bits of Me Keep Passing Out: Mr. Bean's dentist keeps accidentally injecting himself with Novocaine until he passes out completely, forcing Bean to do his own dental work.
  • Bizarre and Improbable Golf Game: Mr. Bean finds himself playing one in Tee Off, Mr. Bean, in which he accidentally knocks a ball out of the miniture golf park, but continues to play the golden rule: "Always play the ball where it lies."
  • Bootstrapped Theme: The original theme song (used throughout the first episode) was reused as the Reliant Regal's Leitmotif for its appearance in "Tee Off, Mr. Bean".
  • British Brevity: The original TV show consisted of only 13 episodes, airing gradually from 1990 through 1995.
  • British Royal Guards: Bean once did an assortment of increasingly pesky things to a guard in preparation for a posed photograph, all while the guard remains perfectly still. It all basically amounts to one hell of a Motionless Makeover. Among the things Bean does to the guard, he polishes the trigger of his gun, trims the guard's mustache to resemble Hitler's, and decorates him with flowers. At the end, the guard receives his orders to march to his next post, just before the picture could be taken.
  • Canon Immigrant: Mrs. Wicket, Mr. Bean's crotchety old landlady, first appeared in "Mr. Bean's Diary" (a tie-in to the TV series) and later appeared as a major character in the animated series.
  • Cartoon Conductor: Done in Merry Christmas, Mr Bean.
  • Cats Are Mean: Scrapper, Mrs. Wicket's cat.
  • Chekhov's Gag: In The Best Bits of Mr. Bean, after the church scene from the first episode, Mr. Bean throws a boomerang away, but it comes back to him. He throws it away again, and we see the "meeting royalty" skit from "The Return of Mr Bean". After that, the boomerang comes back again, and Mr. Bean, frustrated, throws the boomerang out the attic window. In the end, Mr. Bean reopens the window to discover that it stopped raining, and, inconvenienced, shuts the window again, and the boomerang comes back to rest on the roof.
  • Cherubic Choir: The opening sequence has a choir chanting Ecce homo qui est faba, which literally translates to "Behold the man who is a bean".
  • Christmas Episode: "Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean".
  • Chronically Crashed Car: The Reliant Regal driven by Bean's nemesis, which gets tipped over or crashed every time it shows up.
  • Clip Show: The Best Bits of Mr. Bean is a direct-to-video example.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Mr. Bean seems to exist in his own private universe of eccentricity.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Bean occasionally demonstrates this. In the first few minutes of "Good Night, Mr. Bean", for instance, he blocks an ambulance by parking directly in back of it, cuts in line at the hospital, grabs the last empty seat in a waiting area just ahead of an old man, mocks a wheelchair-bound patient in a neck brace by moving around in his seat and then swipes her number ticket so he can be seen ahead of her.
  • Companion Cube: Teddy, and possibly Mr Bean's car.
  • Contrived Coincidence: In "Mind the Baby, Mr. Bean", the titular character somehow ends up with somebody else's baby. In an effort to get it to stop crying, he ties balloon after balloon to its pram, with predictable results. He rescues it by shooting out the balloons with a bow and arrow from a carnival stall from earlier in the episode. And of course, it floats down directly in front of its panicking mother.
  • Counting Sheep: "Good Night, Mr. Bean"
  • Criminal Doppelganger: Mr. Bean was mistaken for an escaped convict in the Animated Adaptation. The two ended up switching places for a short time, and the convict decided to break back into his jail cell after he couldn't stand Bean's landlady.
  • Cringe Comedy: frequently.
  • Defictionalization: When the show became popular in the 'States, a company produced faithful (if larger than screen-accurate) replicas of Teddy.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Surprisingly averted in the first film, where Mr. Bean is forced to give an improvised speech on the Whistler's Mother painting, and he handles the speech quite well.
    • The speech is very confident, but lacks any meaningful content. The characters who might have been offended take it as dryly comical Take That at their earlier request not to have a boring lecture of art history, and maybe insert a joke or two into the speech, since they assumed Bean to be a stereotypical British academic.
  • Dinner Order Flub: Mr Bean orders Steak tartare, believing it was just a fancy steak and the rest of the episode revolved around him trying to get rid if all the raw beef.
  • Disaster Dominoes: several, including the ending from his infamous rooftop-drive.
  • Drives Like Crazy
  • Free Wheel: Every time Mr. Bean crashes the Reliant Robin offscreen.
  • Funny Character, Boring Actor: Atkinson doesn't regard himself spontaneously witty. A "making of" video of Mr. Bean's Holiday shows how meticulous Atkinson is in planning all of the gags.
  • Genius Ditz: Bean seems to have great difficulty handling everyday problems, but comes up with quite intricate and ingenious ways to navigate them.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Victor Meldrew is the dentist.
    • A young Angus Deayton plays the lifeguard.
    • Stephen Frost is the guy on the train laughing while reading his book.
  • Hot Librarian: Bean has a secret crush on one in the tie-in book Mr. Bean's Diary.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode of the series includes "Mr. Bean" in its title.
  • I Am Not Spock: Atkinson often grumbles about being associated with the character.
  • Improbable Parking Skills: Mr Bean thrives on these.
  • It Got Worse: The Library episode.
  • Large Ham: Mr Bean himself.
  • Laugh Track
  • Limited Wardrobe: Mr. Bean is almost always attired in his trademark ensemble of dark brown trousers, white shirt, red tie, and brown tweed sportcoat.
  • Mister Strangenoun: The titular protagonist.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Mr. Bean is stripped naked in "The Curse of Mr. Bean", "Mr. Bean Goes to Town", and "Mr. Bean in Room 426".
  • Nightmare Sequence: A dream about bad oysters in "Mr. Bean in Room 426".
  • No Ending: "Mr. Bean Rides Again" ended at the exact moment Bean pops a barf bag filled with puke on a plane. The Movie reuses this gag, except it actually shows the immediate results.
  • No Name Given: Bean is never given a first name.
    • In Bean his passport has his surname as 'Bean' and his first name as just 'Mr'.
    • However, in Mr. Bean's Holiday, in which his passport reveals it to be Rowan.
    • Bean's girlfriend is simply billed as "The Girlfriend" in her first couple appearances, although she's eventually identified as one Irma Gobb.
  • No Social Skills: The starting point for much of the humour--in fact, Atkinson's original concept for the character was "the most embarrassing man in the world", both to himself and to others. To be fair, he is implied to be an alien or angel by the opening and closing credits, which show him falling from and being sucked back into the sky, respectively. Word of God claims that the opening credits were meant to imply that Bean is "an ordinary man cast into the spotlight," although the "he's an alien" opinion is held by basically everyone, even Atkinson himself. And this is actually canonical in the animated series.
He does seem to be familiar with at least a few social conventions, which leads to some of the hilarity (such as not wanting to appear picky in "The Return of Mr. Bean" or not wanting to appear cowardly in "The Curse of Mr. Bean").
  • Not What It Looks Like: Occasionally, as when Bean attempts to retrieve his trousers from the man in the bathroom stall in "Back to School, Mr. Bean" and the drill sergeant walks in on them.
  • Offscreen Crash: The ending of the first episode. "The Trouble with Mr. Bean" has what could be called an Offscreen Splash.
  • Police Lineup: "Mr. Bean Goes to Town".
  • Playing Against Type: Atkinson is otherwise renowned for his Deadpan Snarker roles, most notably Blackadder. Except in countries that don't know Blackadder. Brazil for example.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: Mr. Bean feels uncomfortable in the presence of nudity and the show has him disapproving not only of nude models but also nudist art. So whenever he sees a nude statue or a painting of a nude he uses the closest piece of cloth or paper to hide the 'offending area.' With the nude model, he crafts a makeshift bra out of clay and gets it on her without his instructor noticing.
  • Properly Paranoid: Mr Bean often goes to ridiculous lengths to secure his property. He's right to do it. (A carjacker tries to steal his Mini only to discover that there is no steering wheel.)
  • Removable Steering Wheel: Present in "The Trouble with Mr. Bean" and "Mr. Bean in Room 426".
  • Shout-Out: Fellow prisoners seen when Mr. Bean is accidentally sent to jail in the Animated Adaptation include Hannibal Lecter and Steve McQueen's character from The Great Escape.
    • The postie van kiddie ride in the episode "Mind The Baby, Mr. Bean" plays the Postman Pat theme.
  • Silence Is Golden: Much of the show's international success has been attributed to its reliance on physical comedy over dialogue.
    • The title character is pretty much The Voiceless in the TV show apart from some wordless grumbling, or the very occasional comment. This is averted in the first film, which climaxes with the character giving a big speech about Whistler's mother.
  • Sitcom Arch Nemesis: Bean has an inexplicable feud with the unseen driver of a light-blue Reliant Regal, which he occasionally runs off the road practically every time he encounters it.
    • In "Tee Off, Mr. Bean", he's hitchhiking and when the Reliant stops to offer him a lift, Bean refuses.
  • Slippery Swimsuit: In front of a group of schoolchildren.
  • Special Guest: The late female impersonator Danny LaRue in "Mr. Bean in Room 426".
  • Star-Making Role: For Atkinson in the States. He was already a star in the UK when this show came about.
  • Status Quo Is God: Poor Teddy gets decapitated in "Mr. Bean in Room 426", used as a paintbrush in "Do-It-Yourself, Mr. Bean", and shrunk in the wash in "Tee Off, Mr. Bean", but is back to normal at the beginning of the next episode.
    • Possibly explained in the final episode of the animated series, in which it's revealed that Teddy is possibly of alien origin, because Mr. Bean is from a race of human-like aliens.
    • We do see Teddy receive a new pair of eyes in "Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean" which he retains throughout the series, his head is shrunk while at the laundry which stays for at least one episode, and Teddy's decapitated head shows up a few times (not that sewing a head back onto a stuffed animal is hard to do) so it is averted in some cases.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: His method of repainting his entire flat in one fell swoop basically consisted of putting some fireworks into a tin of paint, lighting the fuse and running. This was actually busted by Mythbusters.
  • Sudden Musical Ending: In Mr. Bean's Holiday.
  • Take a Number: Mr. Bean does any number of nasty things to get a lower number. He gets his comeuppance in the end, though.
  • Technology Marches On: In one episode Mr. Bean goes on a date, but when he wants to check his hair it turns out he forgot to take his mirror, so he uses photo booth instead. Today, when every cell phone has a digital camera, taking a picture of yourself instead of looking in a mirror doesn't seem so ridiculous anymore.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: an episode of the animated series has a former classmate from the early grades show up uninvited, eat all the food in Mr. Bean's fridge in one night and not leave until Mr. Bean devises a plan to get rid of him.
  • Title Drop: Take a wild guess what Mr. Bean says at the end of "Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean".
  • Too Soon: "Mind the Baby, Mr. Bean" was going to be aired on February 17th 1993. However, due to the much-publicized abduction and murder of 3-year-old James Bulger, "Mr. Bean in Room 426" took its place.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: It's a bit complicated. On occasion he can be casually cruel, as when he torments the calligrapher in "Back to School, Mr. Bean." On the whole, however, his misdeeds are the result of childish selfishness, curiosity, or misunderstanding, and when Laser-Guided Karma catches up with him it's hard not to feel bad for him.
  • Vacation Episode: "Mr. Bean in Room 426". Also, both movies feature this, each taking Mr. Bean to a different country.
  • Vertigo Effect: Used in "Mr. Bean in Room 426", when he realizes he's just consumed a bunch of rotten oysters.
  • Video Credits: Mr. Bean's Holiday
  • Video Inside, Film Outside: Not totally consistent, as some inside scenes are shot with film when on location, but it's fairly obvious when one is used versus the other.
  • Wild Mass Guessing: Interpretations of the meaning of the opening title screen vary from showing that he's innocently naive (based on the Cherubic Choir music, suggesting he's being dropped from Heaven), or that he's an alien that even Martians find too weird so they dump him on Earth as if to say, "Screw this, he's your problem now."
    • Finally explained in the final episode of the animated series, where Mr. Bean is dropped back down to Earth after being abducted by a race of aliens that all look like him and all have stuffed animals, similar to Mr. Bean's Teddy.
  • What Could Have Been: According to rumour there were going to be references to a couple of Rowan Atkinson's previous roles: namely, the leader of the Mr Bean-aliens was going to be Blackadder, or at least resemble him. Also, Mr Bean passes a prominent red telephone box while following Irman and Mr Pod to the spaceship; if the show had git clearence, the telephone box would have been a police box instead, and after Mr Bean would drive past, Rowan Atkinson's Doctor would have stepped out.
  • Zany Scheme: A lot of the humour comes from the fact that Bean approaches the same problems as everyone else using his own improvised plans along these lines. And quite often, they work.

The 1997 movie provides examples of:[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Brick Joke: At the hospital, Bean runs into the security guard he had drugged earlier.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: A variation. Upon seeing that Bean totally destroyed Whistler's Mother while he was gone, David lets out a horrified torrent of "Jesus", "Oh God", and other religious incantations/curse words.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After Bean destroyed Whistler's Mother, he and David start frequenting L.A. bars to drown their sorrows.
  • Hope Spot: Inverted. Just after it seems Bean and David have resolved the Whistler’s Mother fiasco, Detective Brutus appears, leading them to think the police discovered what they did to the painting. He's actually there because David's daughter got caught in a motorcycle accident.
  • Laxative Prank: Mr. Bean does this to a security guard, along with mixing up the key to the bathroom with a bunch of other keys, giving him a chance to fix the painting of Whistler's Mother that he accidentally screwed up.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Exaggerated. While standing around waiting in the hospital, Bean is dragged along by a nurse to perform a surgery after she notices the "Dr. Bean" label on his suit. Bean is too taken aback to correct her, but then again, he's not even a non-medical Doctor.
  • Oven Logic: Bean and David try to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey (which normally takes about five hours) for an impromptu dinner with some guests by stuffing it into a microwave, and setting it at about 20 minutes at the highest setting. It explodes.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Mr. Bean is sent away to the unveiling of Whistler's Mother in the United States at the urging of most of the British Royal Gallery's board. This is done as an alternative to firing him because they want to see him gone, but can't actually let him go because the chairman of the board is the one person who likes him enough to let him keep his job, and threatens to resign if they go anywhere near Bean's job security.
  • The Stinger: After the end credits, Mr. Bean passes by to state that it is now the end of the movie, and tells the audience to leave.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Bean with David Langley. Discussed by David while talking to Allison, his wife:

David: I don't know what to say about Bean. He is clearly a force ten disaster area...but God help me, I like him.


Mr. Bean's Holiday provides example of:[edit | hide]

  • Earn Your Happy Ending: A more mundane case. All Bean wants to do is go to the beach at Cannes, France, but he had to go through a lot of stuff in order to do so.
  • Rare Guns: Of all the franchises for this trope to apply, Mr. Bean's Holiday shows one of the commercial actors playing a Nazi soldier holding the very rare MP-41 submachine gun. About the only other movie this gun has appeared in is Enemy at the Gates.
  • The Stinger: After the end credits, Mr. Bean records his feet writing the word 'FIN' in the sand. As he finishes, the video camera battery dies out.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Mr. Bean went through one that lasted for at least a third of the movie.