|“||It's just that...you can't depend on women. You can't depend on anyone. Sooner or later, you need to learn that no one else is gonna take care of you. That's what I learned when I had to make my own sandwich. You can't rely on other people, BoJack.||”|
—Butterscotch, Free Churro
He was an alcoholic failed novelist who appears as a recurring character (through flashbacks) throughout the series.
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 dark-colored suits with a white collared shirt, black suspenders, and a white and dark grey striped tie. He had bags under his eyes.
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.
From the late 1970s until his death, his mane is thinner and shorter, 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 was a bit slimmer and 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.
From what has been shown from Butterscotch Horseman in his initial appearances, he was 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, his failure as a writer, and his own delusions.
In flashbacks, Butterscotch was 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 developed. He had only a vague idea that involved the theme of the great American dream, promised by society, 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, and his wife and son for "distracting" him. He even initially 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 That Couldn't Be Broken, sometime in the early 2000s, although it's more than implied it wasn't successful, more just him accomplishing a pipe dream—which was all his "talent" and "ideals" around his writing broke down too. It's blatantly obvious he had no talent and nonsensical ideas. His spite and narcissism for the world around him are 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, and is one of the many factors that turned Beatrice into the bitter, abusive woman BoJack had the misfortune of having as a mother.
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 every time.
Shown in Time's Arrow, Butterscotch as a young adult in 1963 is shown to initially be a somewhat suave, sarcastic, idealistic, 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.
Seeing that he was obsessed with writing his novel, his speech also sounds very verbose as though he is speaking from a novel, although this may have been done to compensate for his lack of talent.
During the late 1990s, an older Butterscotch was shown to have become egotistically weaker, and to an extent emotionally broken, but still maintains an adulterous life. An example of this is seducing a much younger maid, Henrietta Platchkey, who was in nursing school—whom he was attracted to due to her similar appearance to his deceased mother, and who he ends up getting pregnant.
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, shocking 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 women and that he has committed adultery with a secretary he wanted to marry, a maid, and various other "fillies" as described by Beatrice. This is further shown through Butterscotch giving Beatrice a phone number to a pizza parlor in Brownsburgh after their one-night stand (a trick his son BoJack would also pull in his adult life).
He apparently also compares women he's attracted to his dead mother, telling them they have similar features to her, and that he "saw it in a picture once." He tells Beatrice she had a diamond marking, and he later tells Henrietta she had brown hair like hers.
This hints he may have an Oedipus complex, that likely could have been caused by his unresolved issue with his mother dying when he was very young and not remembering much about her.
Despite all this, Butterscotch is implied to have had less of an impact on BoJack than Beatrice, as in The View from Halfway Down, the entirety of the episode being BoJack's interactions with people in his life who have died in a dream he’s having while drowning. Butterscotch is represented by Secretariat, who has both Butterscotch’s memories and personality and Secretariat’s history. This may imply BoJack saw Secretariat as a better role model and father figure than Butterscotch.
Butterscotch may have had less of an influence on BoJack, as in he was less emotionally abusive to BoJack. This may be why, despite actively hating his mother, BoJack does not have any opinion about his father.
Overall Butterscotch was a delusional, stubborn, abusive father and husband, due to his obsession with making a legacy for himself by writing the “next great American novel." Everyone except him saw that he had no talent. These traits only led Butterscotch to continue to live as a nobody and to die an untimely but pathetic death.
In The View from Halfway Down, Butterscotch/Secretariat says that he truly did care for both BoJack and Beatrice and wanted them to be proud of him, but was afraid of BoJack knowing that. However, this was said by a version of Butterscotch that existed only in BoJack's mind.
Butterscotch Horseman hailed from a working-class background and is presented as an aspiring novelist who admired the beatniks.
He had a brother, as revealed in Horse Majeure, and his mother died apparently when he was 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, idealistic, 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 write "the next great American novel."
Something which Beatrice makes fun of, as all he has so far is a vague idea of what the book is about. 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 by her father 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 on January 2, 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 tells red 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. He tells 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 overall stubborn, delusional, and egotistical attitude and 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.
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, but together out of mutual spite for the world around them.
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. Being a novelist he would often talk in a verbose way as if talking out of a novel.
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.
However, when he was away at summer camp Butterscotch tore it down because instead of using nails, young BoJack 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.
A flashback at the beginning of Free Churro shows Butterscotch begrudgingly picking BoJack up very late from soccer practice, where during the car ride home Butterscotch says Beatrice is having another episode, as she saw A Doll's House her girlfriends the other night, and locked herself in the bedroom to loudly weep, which disgusts Butterscotch as he thinks a woman would only do this for attention.
Butterscotch rants how because of this she neglected to make him lunch, so he had to make himself a sandwich, and how he had a good run on his novel, where he was writing a sentence that went on for several pages, when he realized Beatrice didn't pick their son, leaving him to have to do her job again.
He goes on a lengthy misogyny-laden speech and tells BoJack to not let this incident give him mixed up ideas about gender. He says Sundays are his writing days and tells BoJack he and his mother ruined the day for him. He then apologizes for Beatrice, saying she's trying her best, but you still can't depend on women or anyone in that matter.
He tells BoJack he's lucky that he has a good mother to teach him that. BoJack for the entire time sits in terrified silence, being held as a captive audience, and doesn't respond to this. Butterscotch, thinking he is showing his son a form of kindness, is offended and obnoxiously shouts in his son's face "THANNNK YOOOUUUU!!!???"
A flashback in A Horse Walks into a Rehab shows one time where BoJack went to his dad's office when he failed to come home from dinner, and walked in on Butterscotch having an affair with his secretary. Once the two were alone, Butterscotch uncharacteristically acts nice towards his song and makes him drink a rum and coke for their first drink as father and son. BoJack passes out after drinking it, and when he comes to in his dad’s car while feeling sick, Butterscotch informs him he "went a little wild" and made a mess on the carpet. He says his mother would be disappointed in him, so it’s best if he doesn’t bring up anything that happened, successfully manipulating BoJack, even saying "Okay, buddy?" with a smile to further manipulate his son into trusting him.
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 it's 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.
She would later find a good man and not let Butterscotch poison her life as 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 being naive and young she did not see any other option.
The baby is born on 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, originally named Girl Horse was eventually adopted by eight gay men in Wichita, Kansas, 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. In the episode Free Churro, BoJack reveals that Butterscotch died in a duel. Apparently, Butterscotch was upset that no newspaper would write a review on his book. Until one paper finally wrote a review of his book, in which he was torn to shreds. Seeing the criticism as a besmirchment of his honor, Butterscotch wrote a letter to the paper that said he would challenge anyone who didn't like his book to a duel at dawn, he'd even pay for airfare to San Francisco and a night in a hotel.
Eventually, his message reached a random lunatic in Montana who accepted his 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 actually read his book, and what he thought of it, which caused Butterscotch to not look where he was going, resulting in him tripping over an exposed root and bashing 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 an 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 paternal half-siblings. Hollyhock also finds out who her mom is and flies to Minneapolis to meet Henrietta, who became a nurse.
Butterscotch later appears, though pictured and voice only, in the body of Secretariat. He shows up late for the dinner party as he did when he was alive and has eggs and coffee mixed with bourbon.
Secretariat says that he wouldn’t have cared so much about everything. Secretariat, speaking in Butterscotch's voice tells BoJack that he did care. BoJack brushes off this sentiment saying that all he cared about was his book, getting drunk, and telling people how miserable he was. Secretariat insists that he cared a great deal about BoJack and Beatrice and he wanted BoJack to love him and respect him but he was so afraid of BoJack knowing that.
- BoJack Hates the Troops (flashback)
- Live Fast, Diane Nguyen (flashback)
- Downer Ending (photographed, flashback)
- Brand New Couch (silhouette only)
- The Old Sugarman Place (Photographed)
- Thoughts and Prayers (Mentioned)
- Time's Arrow (flashback, only major role)
- What Time Is It Right Now (Mentioned)
- Will Arnett voices both Butterscotch and BoJack Horseman. At times, Butterscotch's voice is almost identical to BoJack's voice (especially a younger Butterscotch).
- Butterscotch's tendency to compare women that attract him to his dead mother implies that he had an Oedipus complex.
- Butterscotch describes his mother as having brown hair and a white diamond mark between her eyes, two features Henrietta and Beatrice have, respectively. Hollyhock, who is revealed to be BoJack's half-sister, also has brown hair and a diamond mark between her eyes, which suggests that Butterscotch was not making up details to impress the birth mothers of his biological children, and explains how she has a diamond marking like BoJack, who she originally thought was her father.
- Butterscotch did eventually finish and publish his novel, which was titled The Horse That Couldn’t Be Broken. Free Churro reveals that the book gained almost no attention, and the one review it received "tore [the work] to shreds", which implies that Butterscotch was not the talented writer he believed himself to be.
- In BoJack's early years as a comedian, (and occasionally in the present day) he would tell a joke and asks the audience/another 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: "Well I’m EXIT-taining! DO YOU GET IT?!"
- Season 4 has BoJack being confronted by Marcy 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 a sandwich shop in Temecula. Butterscotch did this to Beatrice after their one night stand; when she finds him after finding his real number and 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 an 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 60s, as he refers to them as "commie, liberal, Jew-loving rejects."
- In the episode Horse Majeure, BoJack mentions his "Rosebud" being a three-breasted woman in a porn magazine his uncle once showed him. As Beatrice's only brother, Crackerjack, died long before BoJack was born, this line reveals that Butterscotch was also not an only child.
- In The View From Halfway Down, during the dinner, Zach Braff serves Butterscotch in Secretariat's body some whiskey and eggs. Since everyone's meals are what they ate or encountered right before they died, Secretariat's is served whiskey and eggs since that is presumably what Beatrice Horseman fed him for breakfast on the day he died.
- The other character's meals are; Sarah Lynn's burger and fries (The only one with no connection to her meal), Herb Kazzaz's peanuts, BoJack's pills, Crackerjack's rations, Beatrice's nursery home meal, and Corduroy's lemon.