The film was rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for adult situations, language, and violence.
Beetlejuice was a critical and commercial success and spawned a spin-off animated series. A sequel was planned but never made it past the drawing board until 2012, when a new sequel was announced to be in the works.
Adam and Barbara Maitland live in a large house in a small New England town. One morning, while returning home in their car, they swerve to avoid hitting a dog and crash through a covered bridge. They are surprised to suddenly find themselves back home and seemingly uninjured after their car accident. They gradually realize that they are dead when notice that they do not have reflections in the mirror and that there is a book called Handbook for the Recently Deceased on their table. They discover that they are unable to leave their house, when they attempt to step outside they find themselves in a strange world inhabited by monstrous sandworms.
The Maitlands are extremely unhappy when a family move into their former home. The Deetz family from New York, Charles, his second wife Delia and Lydia, Charles' goth-like teenage daughter from his first marriage, soon begin to make changes to the house and the Maitlands decide that they are not their kind of people. The Maitlands realize that people in their situation are called ghosts and attempt to scare the Deetz family out of their house. However, Charles and Lydia do not even seen them. The Maitlands contact their afterlife case-worker Juno, she tells them that they are stuck in the house for one hundred and twenty-five years and that if they want to remove the Deetzes, they will have to scare them away themselves. She warns them not to contact Betelgeuse, the freelance bio-exist who promises to exorcise the living.
Charles and Lydia do not notice the Maitlands when they attempt to scare them again. However, Lydia meets and befriends them. Having failed to drive the Deetzes out of their house, the Maitlands contact Betelgeuse. They soon discover that they do not like him, when he tries to look up Barbara's skirt and do not want the sleazy ghost to go anywhere near Lydia. Betelgeuse initially tries to scare off the Deetzes anyway, almost killing Charles Deetz, but then concentrates on trying to get Lydia Deetz to marry him, so that he can stop being dead and return to the land of the living.
The Deetzes and the Maitlands are forced to join forces to defeat Betelgeuse. Eventually, the dead couple and the living family are able to share the house in harmony.
Sequels and spin-offs
An animated series based on Beetlejuice was first broadcast on American television between 1989 and 1992. The cartoon series differs significantly from the movie. The Maitlands do not appear in it at all. In the animated series, Lydia, the victim of Betelgeuse's scheme to return to the land of the living in the movie, is the best friend of Beetlejuice (his name is spelt that way in the cartoon series' credits). Lydia is a misfit in the normal world and enjoys spending her free time in the Underworld. The land of the dead is depicted as a place ruled by stifling bureaucracy in the movie but in the animated series it is a fun inversion of the living world.
A script for a movie sequel to Beetlejuice, called Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian, was written but never filmed. However, in 2015 it was announced that a new script for a sequel had been finished that the writer and Tim Burton hoped to start filming soon. Both Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder will be reprising their original roles.