In 1988 San Dimas, California, slackers Bill (Winter) and Ted (Reeves) would rather pursue their band the Wyld Stallyns than schoolwork. Ted’s father, the local police chief, threatens to send Ted to military school if they should flunk their history class, ruining their dreams of success. The two struggle to assemble a final report for the class, which is to describe how historical figures would see modern-day San Dimas.
In 2688, humanity has built a utopia thanks to the music of Wyld Stallyns. The supreme beings of this world instruct Rufus (Carlin) to travel back in time by a time machine disguised as a phone booth to give aid to Bill and Ted to ensure they pass their class. Rufus lands by the two as they work on their report near a Circle K. As he introduces himself, a second phone booth lands nearby and future versions of Bill and Ted come out, proving their identity to their younger selves and telling them to trust Rufus before they leave. Rufus offers to show the teens how the machine works, taking them to Austria in 1805 where Napoleon Bonaparte is commanding the French army. Assured the machine works, Rufus, Bill and Ted return to the present, though Napoleon, knocked back by an explosion, is caught in the phone booth’s wake and dragged with them. Back at Ted’s house, Rufus provides the teens additional instructions and then leaves. The two find Napoleon nearby, and come upon an idea of taking historical figures from the past to bring them to the present to complete their report. They leave Napoleon with Ted’s younger brother Deacon and set out.
Separately, they gain the trust of Billy the Kid from 1879 and Socrates from 410 BC and bring them along. They next land in 14th century medieval England and see two princesses who flirt with them. In their attempt to see the princesses, they are caught by their father, the local duke, and ordered to be beheaded, but they are rescued by Billy and Socrates. Ted suggests that since they still have time before their report is due, they go for extra credit and set out to obtain more historical figures, including Sigmund Freud, Ludwig van Beethoven, Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan and Abraham Lincoln. With no more space in the booth, they decide to return home, but end up at the Circle K, witnessing their younger selves on the night before the report. They repeat their advice to them about Rufus, and then ask Rufus how to get to their present time.
Back in their current timeframe, with hours before the report presentation, Bill and Ted leave the historical figures at the local mall to experience San Dimas, while they try to track down Napoleon, whom Deacon had ditched the previous night. They find Napoleon at the Waterloo water park, but by the time they return to the mall, the historical figures have caused a commotion and are now in jail under Ted’s dad’s watch. They develop a plan to use the time machine to plant elements to help free the historical figures, and make their way to the school, barely arriving in time for their presentation. With the help of the historical figures, the two give an impressive presentation that assures they pass the course.
After returning the historical figures, Bill and Ted return to practice, when Rufus shows up with the two princesses in tow, having rescued them himself since he knows they will be their wives and bandmates in the future. As the band starts to play, terribly, Rufus explains to the audience “They do get better.”
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a 1989 American science fiction comedy film directed by Stephen Herek and written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon. It stars Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves, and George Carlin. The plot follows slackers Bill (Winter) and Ted (Reeves), who travel through time to assemble historical figures for their high school history presentation.