Beetlejuice 2’s Story Update Makes Missing Original Characters’ Absence More Absurd


  • Beetlejuice 2 is finally happening after 35 years of anticipation and will be released on September 6, 2024, with some original cast members returning.
  • Cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos has revealed that the story of Beetlejuice 2 revolves around family themes and explores the complexities of keeping the Deetz family together after the events of the original film.
  • The absence of the characters Barbara and Adam Maitland, who played crucial roles in the first film, is challenging to understand given the family-centric story of Beetlejuice 2.

Beetlejuice 2’s new tease about what the long-awaited sequel’s story will involve is exciting, but also undermines the absences of two original characters. After 35 years of anticipation, Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice 2 is finally happening, with the horror-comedy movie slated to hit theaters on September 6, 2024. In addition to bringing aboard new faces such as Jenna Ortega, Willem Dafoe, and Justin Theroux, Beetlejuice 2 is bringing back some cast members from the original 1988 movie, including Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, and Catherine O’Hara.

While most of the details about the upcoming sequel’s story have been kept under wraps, cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos has teased that Beetlejuice 2’s story revolves around family themes. The cinematographer noted that “at its heart, Beetlejuice 2 is a story about family,” exploring the “intricacies” of keeping the Deetz family together for the past 30 years after the original film’s bizarre events. Beetlejuice 2’s family theme bodes well for the story of Winona Ryder’s Lydia Deetz and her daughter, portrayed by Jenna Ortega, but simultaneously makes the missing returns of two classic characters more challenging to understand.

Beetlejuice 2’s Family Themes Make Adam & Barbara’s Absences More Bizarre

Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Geena Davis, and Alec Baldwin in Beetlejuice

In addition to Charles Deetz, the only main original characters missing from Beetlejuice 2 are Barbara and Adam Maitland (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin). The two ghosts were the main protagonists of 1988’s Beetlejuice, as the couple died in the opening sequence before being tasked with haunting the living Deetz family out of their home. Throughout the wild events of Beetlejuice, Adam and Barbara form a close familial bond with Winona Ryder’s goth teenager Lydia Deetz. The movie essentially establishes Barbara and Adam as Lydia’s surrogate parents given her unaffectionate relationship with Charles and Delia, while Lydia becomes the ghosts’ surrogate child after the film’s implication that the Maitlands couldn’t have kids.

Given the fact that Lydia, Adam, and Barbara become a family of their own in Beetlejuice’s original ending, it’s odd that the two ghosts won’t be returning for Beetlejuice 2’s family-centric story. Geena Davis has previously remarked that she isn’t involved in Beetlejuice 2, which was already a disappointing update regarding the beloved characters’ returns. Considering the Maitlands must remain in their house for 125 years after death, set photos have teased the return of the Maitland/Deetz home, and the sequel is a family story at its core, Adam and Barbara being missing from Beetlejuice 2 is difficult to explain.

How Beetlejuice 2 Can Still Explain Adam & Barbara Not Returning

Beetlejuice Adam and Barbara Maitland

If the Deetz/Maitland home is back in Beetlejuice 2, then explaining Barbara and Adam’s absences becomes significantly more complicated. The ghostly couple is now only about 35 years into the afterlife, so they still have 90 years remaining in their house. As such, one of the few plausible ways to explain Adam and Barbara being gone during Beetlejuice 2’s events is that they’re in the Neitherworld waiting room. The couple’s first trip to the afterlife office revealed that the wait time is excruciating, and even a short wait time in the Neitherworld could equate to months in the world of the living. Consequently, if the Maitlands are back in the waiting room, then they could reasonably be missing for the entire duration of Beetlejuice 2.

A more upsetting option for Barbara and Adam’s absences would be that the ghosts were accidentally exorcised. The couple nearly disappeared in Beetlejuice when Otho accidentally performed an exorcism instead of a séance, so it’s possible that this mistake was made twice over the past 30 years. It would be difficult to remove Adam and Barbara from a story that is centered on Lydia Deetz’s family and her own journey as the mother of a teenager, so Beetlejuice 2 must provide a compelling in-universe reason for their disappearance.

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