|“||In this world you can either do things the easy way or the right way. You take a boat from here to New York. You gonna go round the horn like a gentleman, or cut through the Panama Canal like some kinda Democrat?||”|
—Butterscotch Horseman, BoJack Hates the Troops
Butterscotch Horseman is the deceased verbally and physically abusive father of BoJack Horseman, the biological father of Hollyhock Manheim-Mannheim-Guerrero-Robinson-Zilberschlag-Hsung-Fonzerelli-McQuack, and the husband of Beatrice Horseman. He is a recurring character (through flashbacks) throughout Seasons 1 and 4.
Butterscotch was a draft horse with grey fur, a black mane, a straight white streak covering the entire top of his snout, and a pale pink spot on his nose. According to model sheets, he was about 6'6, the same height as BoJack.
In flashbacks to BoJack’s childhood in the early 1970s, he is seen wearing suits with a white collared shirt and a white and dark grey striped tie.
In one flashback in BoJack Hates the Troops he wore a red and navy blue smoking jacket over his white shirt. When working at the fish cannery he wore a light blue collared shirt, a black apron, grey pants, brown shoes, a red beanie, and yellow gloves. He had bags under his eyes.
From the late 1970s until his death, his mane had become very thin, with his bangs having receded to his ears, and had gone dark grey at the top with light and medium grey streaks along the back of it. The wrinkles under his eyes had also gotten bigger and had dark circles under them. He wore a navy blue suit with the jacket opened, a white shirt, and brown shoes.
As a young adult in 1963-1964, he had a slightly thicker, scruffier mane with longer bangs in it, and he wore a light blue and green plaid shirt, a brown jacket, a brown belt, blue-grey jeans, and brown shoes.
Butterscotch Horseman hailed from a working-class background, and is presented as a aspiring novelist whom admired the beatniks. He had a brother, as revealed in Horse Majeure, and his mother died apparently when he a little kid. He lived in the state of Michigan, and was likely born in the mid or late 1930s.
He is shown to be impulsive, smart, bold, and charismatic, at least to a young Beatrice Sugarman who is pressured by her father to be in a relationship with the shy and awkward Corbin Creamerman due to being the heir of a creamery.
The two met in June 1963, when Butterscotch crashes Beatrice's debutante party. Butterscotch tells her about his plan to join the beatniks in California and book idea, which Beatrice makes fun of. In return, Butterscotch nails her dissatisfaction with high-society life.
He also compares her to his mother, who died when he was little, saying she had a diamond on her head just like hers, he saw it in a picture once.
The entrance of Butterscotch in Beatrice's life is refreshing to her-he provides an escape from a stuffy high-society life she didn't know was possible
. When he begins to leave, Beatrice catches up to him in the parking lot, and he tells her to leave with him. He then bates her with a dare she can't resist-"But I suppose daddy wouldn't like that now, would he?"
Beatrice, enticed and seduced by Butterscotch, and wanting to rebel, leaves the party, thrown by her father, "for" her, and the two engage in a one night stand in Butterscotch’s car at the top of a lookout point.
The two believed it was just a simple fling, but two weeks later Beatrice arrives at a set of apartments and finds Butterscotch after having to look up his real phone number, as the one he gave her was for a pizza parlor in Brownsburgh and she reveals she’s pregnant. She discovers this after her second date with Corbin, where she threw up on him, and right after she started to feel an emotional connection with him.
Butterscotch initially begins to freak out, and he asks if she could get an abortion, but she cannot due to childhood trauma of her baby doll being burned as a child due to her catching scarlet fever. After a short discussion they decide to move to San Francisco to start their family, and for Butterscotch to write his novel.
They are happy together throughout Beatrice’s pregnancy. Their son, BoJack F. Horseman, is born January 2nd, 1964.
However, shortly after BoJack is born their relationship begins to fall apart. Butterscotch had not yet started his novel by the time BoJack was born, and he was working at a fish cannery for low income despite being offered a high paying job by Beatrice's father, Joseph Sugarman, for his company. He also turned against the beatniks he once admired due to his writings being rejected. Additionally, the baby cries late at night, and the stress of the baby in general takes a toll on both him and Beatrice. He resented Beatrice's family's wealth, his inability to provide for her, and the fact she wanted to keep the baby (telling her "You wanted that baby. Never forget that").
Beatrice resented Butterscotch for not accepting her father's job offer, making little money at the job he had, and his treatment of her. This caused their marriage to become highly dysfunctional, loveless, and joyless. Beatrice and Butterscotch were two people who came together not out of love, or their child, though they did go through a short-lived honeymoon phase, but together out of spite for the world around them.
The two gradually began to despise each other more and more, which affected how they treated BoJack during his formative years, openly showing their hatred for him and verbally and even sometimes physically abusing him. They also became alcoholics and heavy smokers. Beatrice also began to claim later on that pregnancy ruined her beauty and figure, and she would openly say this to her son. In 1970, Butterscotch finally agreed to work for Beatrice's father Joseph Sugarman , and they became wealthier-but not happier.
In flashbacks, Butterscotch is often seen yelling nonsensical ultra-conservative hyperbole, usually to cover up his failures, and "easy comings" in the world (such as Canals, and Imaginary Friends), typically blaming it on Democrats, Jews, or Communists.
It is revealed that Butterscotch and Beatrice would commonly fight with each other, due to blaming each other for their failures, Butterscotch's adultery, and their alcoholism. Typically these fights would become volatile enough that plates and other objects would start being destroyed. He also "frittered away" any money that came from Beatrice's family.
Butterscotch and his wife first appear in flashbacks in BoJack Hates the Troops. Beatrice makes Butterscotch an omelette and implies that he is having an affair with his secretary. Butterscotch himself implies that the only reason he married Beatrice was that she got pregnant and wouldn't get an abortion.
Later, another flashback shows young BoJack giving Butterscotch (who is working on a ship in a bottle while smoking) a Father's Day card. Butterscotch originally thinks it's a Lima Bean and then berates his son's work on the card as "some shoddy craftsmanship". BoJack says he did his best, Butterscotch says he didn't and he slacked off and took the easy way out, and then rants about the "hard way" versus the "easy way".
He asks his son if he were to take a boat from their location to New York, would he go around the Horn “like a gentleman“ or go through the Panama Canal "like some kind of Democrat". BoJack timidly replies “canal”, to which Butterscotch slaps him for, and shouts “You go around the Horn, the way God intended!".
At the end of the episode, in the present day, BoJack reveals to Diane that Butterscotch used to make him cry with him while listening to Cole Porter records, and at one point, Butterscotch made him build his own tree-house, and when he was away at summer camp he (Butterscotch) tore it down, because instead of using nails, he used screws, which, according to Butterscotch, were “fancy Jew nails”.
A flashback in Live Fast, Diane Nguyen shows a young BoJack asking his father if he wants to meet his imaginary friend. Butterscotch claims imaginary friends are made up by communists so they can rip off welfare. He then tells his son to "bang his head against the wall" to get rid of his "stupidity".
In a flashback to 1973 at the beginning of Brand New Couch, Butterscotch is heard arriving home, and Beatrice begins to berate him for "running out to gallivanting with his fillies”. The two then begin to have a loud argument and start smashing plates. This is heard and seen in shadows in the kitchen as we see young BoJack in the living room trying to listen to Secretariat on a talk show answer his question in a letter he sent him, “Sometimes I get sad. What do you do when you are sad?”.
The argument ends with Butterscotch angrily leaving, slamming the door on his way out. After Beatrice goes into the living room and berates her son for “ruining her”, and that he better become successful to make up for all he’s done, she says she’s going to go hide Butterscotch’s heart medication.
BoJack left home in the mid-1980s to be a comedian in Los Angeles, eventually making it big as the star of Horsin' Around starting in 1987 and ending in 1996.
In 1999, Butterscotch cheated on Beatrice with their maid Henrietta Platchkey and he gets her pregnant with a baby girl horse. He reveals this to Beatrice and asks her to talk to Henrietta for him, saying he can’t talk her out of it. Beatrice is apathetic towards this, and Butterscotch angrily says its not easy for him to grovel to his own wife, and begins to blame her for not doing her “wifely duties”.
Beatrice quickly shoots down this argument, saying “Don’t you dare”, which leads Butterscotch to beg her to fix the situation for him, and he breaks down crying over it, much to the shock of Beatrice. He pleads "I know you hate me, Bea, but please just think of the poor girl". She reluctantly agrees to talk with Henrietta .
As the two sit in the kitchen, Henrietta apologizes to Beatrice, saying Butterscotch was kind to her. Beatrice interrupts her and says “Lemme guess, he said you reminded him of his dead mother”. Henrietta says he told her she had hair like hers, he saw it in a picture once, which is nearly identical to how Butterscotch flirted with Beatrice years ago. Henrietta is struggling with nursing school tuition but believes if she can get a job still be ok. However, Beatrice shoots this down and questions her who will watch the baby, because Butterscotch certainly won’t.
Henrietta starts crying, not knowing what to do. Beatrice proposes a deal with her; they’ll pay her nursing school tuition, and she’ll give the baby up for adoption. Henrietta rejects this, but Beatrice told her she doesn’t really want this, to get her degree and become a nurse, and to find a good man and not let Butterscotch poison her life like he did to her. She did not want Henrietta to make the same mistakes she made, and she tells her this, saying “Don’t do what I did”. Henrietta agrees to her deal.
The baby is born September 24, 2000. Butterscotch did not show up for her birth, but Beatrice is with Henrietta through her labor and her giving birth, holding her hand all the way through. It is shown Henrietta did not want to actually give the infant up for adoption, as she screams and sobs when the tiny foal is snatched away from her and she is denied by Beatrice to hold her, saying it’s for her own good. The baby was eventually adopted by eight gay men and named Hollyhock Manheim-Mannheim-Guerrero-Robinson-Zilberschlag-Hsung-Fonzerelli-McQuack.
Butterscotch passed away on Halloween in 2009 as revealed in a flashback in Thoughts and Prayers and Mr. Peanutbutter's Boos. Free Churro reveals Butterscotch, mad that no newspaper would write a review on his book, except one that wrote a bad review, wrote to said paper challenging anyone who didn’t like his book to a duel at dawn, he’d even pay for airfare and a hotel. Somebody in Montana accepted this challenge. The two met at Golden Gate Park and agreed to take ten paces, and then shoot. However, midway through the ten paces, Butterscotch turned his head around and asked the man if he really read his book, and what he thought of it. Butterscotch then tripped and bashed his head in a rock, killing him.
At Butterscotch’s funeral, Beatrice gave a eulogy, where she said "My husband is dead, and everything is worse now ", which was the first time BoJack ever heard his mother say something positive about his father. However, by that time, Butterscotch had frittered away all of Beatrice's family inheritance, leaving her in debt. According to BoJack, she had to sell all of her fancy jewelry and moved into Walnut Springs Nursing Home in Santa Barbara.
In late 2017, Hollyhock came to Los Angeles and looked for her biological father, who she believed to be BoJack, because everyone always told her she looked like him. A DNA test with hair samples reveals they are related. They looked for her mom, but none of the people BoJack slept with in 1999 had gotten pregnant, except one, who had a abortion. It is also revealed Beatrice has succumbed to dementia. In What Time Is It Right Now, BoJack finds out Butterscotch is her dad from an envelope Beatrice had in a box, meaning she and BoJack are half-siblings. Hollyhock also finds out who her mom is and flies to Minneapolis to meet Henrietta, who became a nurse.
From what has been shown from Butterscotch Horseman in his initial appearances, he is an alcoholic, run down mess who, similarly to his wife, commonly abuses his son many times as a "punishment" for ruining his life, presumably because he might not have been ready to father a child and his failure as a writer.
In flashbacks, Butterscotch is often seen yelling nonsensical patriarchal, ultra-conservative hyperbole, usually to cover up his failures, and "easy comings" in the world, typically blaming it on Democrats, Jews, or Communists. He even used this against concepts such as the Panama Canal or Imaginary Friends.
Butterscotch was egotistical, delusional, and stubborn when it came to his writing. He had dreamed of becoming a beatnik and publishing the next “great American novel". However, Butterscotch had barely started working on it by the time of BoJack’s birth, he didn’t even have a plot or characters develope, only a vague idea that involved and this would continue for the next thirty-five years.
During this time, Butterscotch would claim he was working on it, and blamed the beatniks that rejected him for being "Comme-Liberal-Jew loving rejects" and not recognizing good talent because of it. He even refused a good job for Beatrice's father for Sugarman West and worked a low income job at a fish cannery because he believed working at the former was "slavery" and that being in working class would make his writing better.
He did release his novel, titled The Horse Who Couldn’t Be Broken, sometime in the early 2000s, although its implied it wasn’t successful, more just him accomplishing a pipe dream, which was all his "talent" and "ideals" around his writing broke down to, although it’s blatantly obviously he had no talent and nonsensical ideas, and his spite and narcissism for the world around him is what fueled his ego and made him delusional about his faith in them.
He is shown to be resentful and bitter towards his wife for her financial independence, and the fact she refused to get an abortion, but particularly due to their marriage, and having to look after a son he wanted little to do with. It is also implied Butterscotch was also sometimes physically abusive to Beatrice, as in a flashback in "Thoughts and Prayers" shows Beatrice telling BoJack, who joined the football team, that if he wants to get knocked around for an afternoon he should read his father's manuscript and call his prose pedestrian and derivative, because it works for her everytime.
Shown in Time's Arrow, Butterscotch as a young adult in 1963 is shown to initially be a somewhat suave, sarcastic, witty, somewhat impulsive and somewhat charismatic aspiring writer, who wishes to move to San Francisco to join the beatniks and become the next great American author.
During the late 1990's, an older Butterscotch is shown to have become egotistically weaker, and to an extent emotionally broken, but still maintains an adulterous life, seducing a maid, Henrietta Platchkey, who was in nursing school, whom he is attracted to her due to her similar appearance to his deceased mother, and who he ends up impregnating.
Time's Arrow also depicts Butterscotch as refusing to take responsibility for his actions, as when he got Henrietta pregnant, he states she "got herself pregnant", and then tries to berate Beatrice for refusing to help him talk her out of it and says she was being "neglectful in her wifely duties”. However, after she shoots down this argument, Butterscotch quickly apologizes and starts stammering, before he breaks down crying, to the shock of Beatrice, as he admits she’s justified in hating him and pleads to help him and, most of all, Henrietta ("I know you hate me Bea, but please just think of the poor girl"), which furthers how emotionally broken and weaker he is at this point in his life.
It is suggested that Butterscotch is easily attracted to woman and that he has committed adultery with a secretary he wanted to marry, a maid, and various other "fillies" as described by Beatrice. He apparently also compares women he's attracted to his dead mother, telling them they have similar features to her, he saw it in a picture once.
It can also be noted that, compared to Beatrice, the abusive parent side of Butterscotch is somewhat downplayed. While he was definitely a horrible parent, Beatrice appears to be the bigger influence in BoJack’s abusive childhood, as her actions seem to have scarred him more than Butterscotch's, which may be why BoJack’s hatred for his parents is more directed at his mother more than his father, the latter of whom he seems to be more apathetic to.
- “Well, maybe if my secretary also refused to get an abortion I would be!”
- “What is this supposed to be, a Lima bean?!
- "That's some shoddy craftsmanship son".
- "No you didn't! You slacked off and took the easy way out! In this world you can either do things the easy way or the right way. You take a boat from here to New York. You gonna go round the horn like a gentleman, or cut through the Panama Canal like some kinda Democrat?"
- "You go around the horn the way God intended!'"
- "Imaginary friends are freeloaders invented by Communists to rip off welfare. Why don't you do something productive like bang your head against the wall until your brain isn't so stupid?"
- “That’s supposed to impress me?! Cuz I can smash a dinner plate too!
- “What?! I thought THESE were the salad plates!”
- “Why do we even have saucers?! We don’t drink tea!”
- “Oh yeah?! Well I'm EXIT-taining. DO YOU GET IT?!"
- "Nope. Just crashing some dumb debutante’s party. Heh heh."
- "You’re the dumb debutante aren’t you?"
- "Butterscotch Horseman. Charmed I’m sure."
- Brand New Couch (silhouette only)
- The Old Sugarman Place (Photographed)
- Will Arnett voices both Butterscotch and BoJack Horseman. At times, Butterscotch's voice is almost identical to BoJack's voice.
- Butterscotch's tendency to compare women that attract him to his dead mother implies that he had an Oedipus complex.
- He and Beatrice do not appear at all in Season 3
- Butterscotch describes his mother as having brown hair and a white diamond mark between her eyes. His biological daughter, Hollyhock, also has brown hair and a diamond between her eyes, which suggests that Butterscotch was not making up details to impress Beatrice and Henrietta.
- Butterscotch did eventually finish his novel, which was titled "The Horse That Couldn’t Be Broken”. It is unknown when the book was published, or if it gained any success.
- Seeing that he was obsessed with writing his novel his speech also sounds very verbose and as though he is speaking from a novel.
- In BoJack’s early years as a comedian (and occasionally in the present day) he would tell a joke and asks the audience/other person if the got it. Brand New Couch shows that BoJack got this from Butterscotch from something he said before storming out after a fight with Beatrice: "We’ll I’m exit-taining! DO YOU GET IT?!
- Season 4 has BoJack being confronted by Marcie and a doctor at Beatrice's nursing home, with the two claiming they tried to contact him but the number he gave them was to restaurants in random cities. Butterscotch did this to Beatrice after their one night stand; when she finds his real address in the phone book, she tells him the number he gave her was to a pizza parlor in Brownsburgh.
- He is shown to have resentment toward democrats, using it as a insult toward BoJack when he was a kid. This may be due to his novel having been rejected by Squirrelinghetti and the Beats in the 60's, as he refers to them as "commie, liberal, Jew-loving rejects".