Characters / Calvin and Hobbes

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Main Characters

This picture is as big as his imagination. And ego.

Nothing spoils fun like finding out it builds character.

The star of the strip named after 16th Century theologian John Calvin, he's a 6 year old with an unusually large vocabulary and grown-up sense of humor.
  • A Boy and His X: A Boy And His Tiger Which May Or May Not Be Imaginary.
  • Allergic to Routine: To the point where he once tried to walk out the door without any clothes on. Calvinball operates on this principle, as well.
  • Anime Hair: Constantly lampshaded, though he also got the front part matted down and Hobbes suggested curling the back once. Another time, he made his hair a giant swirl with Crisco, his mom made him wash it out, but there was still some that Hobbes used to style his hair like Astro Boy, which made it hair from an actual anime.
  • Annoying Patient: Provides the trope page image. He hates going to the doctor for checkups, and always tries to make those visits as difficult as possible. However, on one occasion, he was so sick that he didn't even have the energy to annoy the doctor, who commented that Calvin was a good patient that time.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: He's very easily distracted, especially from things that don't interest him much in the first place (like school, homework and chores.) Most often, as part of his Cloudcuckoolander nature, it's his own mind that provides the distractions — but he has been known to suddenly get distracted by external things as well.
  • Attention Whore: Provides that trope page image, too.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Anytime Hobbes implies that he has a crush on Susie. He also gets angry when Hobbes explains or mentions the Noodle Incident and, in one strip, asks him why he's wearing short pants.
    • At one point, he also throws a fussy fit when Hobbes beats him at checkers. Heck, said "fussy fit" is the page quote for Sore Loser!
    "You win? Aaugghh! You won last time! I hate it when you win! Aarrggh! Mff! Gnnk! I hate this game! I hate the whole world! Aghhh! What a stupid game! You must have cheated! You must have used some sneaky, underhanded mindmeld to make me lose! I hate you! I didn't want to play this idiotic game in the first place! I knew you'd cheat! I knew you'd win! Oh! Oh! Aaaargh!"
  • Book Dumb: He's not stupid by any means — he especially seems to have a gift for philosophy and social commentary — but he's terrible wherever school is concerned, especially math.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Calvin knows he's often a jerk, especially to his parents, but he does it anyway.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: He's unusually cultured in vocabulary and philosophy, is very knowledgeable about dinosaurs, and has an advanced sense of irony. But since school often teaches things he doesn't like to learn, he just doesn't bother. Calvin could easily succeed in school if he applied himself — in one strip, he gets a good grade, but feels that it isn't worth the effort. On the other hand, he is impossibly bad at basic math. More than one strip suggested that his grades at math are bad simply because he finds the subject incomprehensibly boring.
    • It's also indicated that he doesn't like learning things that don't interest him. In one strip, when his dad asks him why he isn't doing better, since he likes to read, he says "We don't read about dinosaurs." In another Sunday strip, he becomes fascinated by a snake and decides to learn more about it, but briefly hesitates upon realizing that he's learning something until Hobbes says no one is making him do it.
  • Bullying a Dragon: One single-panel strip showed him taping a note to Moe's back that said, "Heave a Rock at Me".
  • Butt-Monkey: Although it's usually justified because of his general attitude, sometimes he gets treated unfairly; in the baseball arc, he signs up because people look down on him for not participating, gets berated for accidentally catching the ball for the other team, and gets called a "quitter" when he quits the team under the pressure.
  • Byronic Hero: Despite being a 6-year-old kid in a newspaper strip, he qualifies for this sub-type. Calvin is passionate about what he believes in, quite intelligent for his age, and unusually witty. But he's also bratty, spiteful, and willfully ignorant of anything that doesn't concern him or his interests.
  • Brats with Slingshots: Sometimes.
  • Catch-Phrase: "I'M HOME!"
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Can never seem to avoid punishment for anything he does.
  • The Chew Toy: Quite literally to Hobbes at times. Plus... Well, let's just say that he's not physically strong.
  • Children Are Innocent: Despite his cynicism, he can be naïve at times.
  • Child Prodigy: Somewhat — he has a larger vocabulary than most adults, and has seriously deep philosophical and existential discussions with Hobbes, but doesn't know (or perhaps care) what 11 + 7 is.
  • Class Clown: When he's not daydreaming or trying to stay awake, he'll act up for the heck of it or ask odd questions (sincerely or otherwise). His classmates always seem to find his antics more bizarre or annoying than funny.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Spends a lot of time wrapped up in his imagination.
    "You know why birds don't write their memoirs? Because birds don't lead epic lives, that's why! Who'd want to read what a bird does? Nobody, that's who! (beat) This is changing the subject, but have you ever noticed how somebody can say something totally loony and not be aware of it? What are you supposed to do, just let it slide??"
  • Cool Loser: How hapless he is is why we love him so much.
  • Creepy Child: Some strips (such as the ones featuring his snowmen) cast him in this light, though played for laughs rather than horror.
    • The one where he imagines himself as a vengeful God applies too.
  • Critical Research Failure: invoked The infamous 'report on bats' was an in-universe example. In addition to claiming that bats are bugs when they're actually mammals... Then again, he was none too willing to do the research.
    Calvin: [Mrs. Wormwood] says I obviously did no research whatsoever on bats and that my scientific illustration just looks like I traced the Batman logo and added fangs!
    Hobbes: She's pretty perceptive.
  • Curious as a Monkey: Falling off in later strips, when it was harder to pass him off as childishly naïve.
  • Deadpan Snarker: It's clear that he got this from his father.
  • Depending on the Writer: Quite a few strips depict Calvin as incapable of suppressing his natural exuberance and being willing to ditch "boring" tasks for the chance to play outside, but there are just as many strips that make a punchline out of him being a complete vegetable who hates doing anything but loafing in front of the TV.
  • Didn't Think This Through: He always seems to act without thinking it through first. On one occasion, after throwing several water balloons in the air in an attempt to catch them (and getting soaked in the process), he commented, "How can something seem so plausible at the time and so idiotic in retrospect?"
  • Ditzy Genius: He has his moments of brilliance despite being not very good in school.
  • Dub Name Change: Is called Tommy in Norway and Steen in Denmark.
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics: As referenced above, although he's not fond of any school subject, he almost treats math like it's a supervillain.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Calvin may enjoy tormenting Susie, but he always feels guilt whenever it becomes clear his antics really hurt her. He actually apologized on one occasion when he thought he had knocked out her eye with a snowball.
    • Despite his love for violent comic books, he was visibly shocked when he read a page where a woman shot a supervillain in the chest with a blaster powerful enough to shatter his spine.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: In one strip, he sees his mom taking a bath early and realizes it means she's going out tonight...and because she hasn't told him to get cleaned up, he's staying home...and if he's staying home, they've hired a babysitter...which means they've probably hired Rosalyn! Cue Overly Long Scream.
  • Girls Have Cooties: Calvin's primary attitude when it comes to the opposite sex. The G.R.O.S.S. club has its name for a reason.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: "What's the point of wearing your favorite rocket ship underpants if nobody ever asks to see 'em?"
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: He uses minced oaths, because he doesn't know any swearing words.
  • Hates Baths: A few week-long arcs and several individual strips are dedicated to his attempts to get out of baths.
  • Hot-Blooded: He can get really riled up a lot of the time.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Quite a few gags involve Calvin complaining about the state of the world in which he lives, only to have Hobbes point out that Calvin doesn't apply the same standards to himself.
  • Innocent Prodigy: He can use "evanescence," "ichthyoid," and "visceral" in the proper context, yet still throws tantrums over losing checkers games and adamantly resists doing his homework like any other 6-year-old.
  • It's All About Me: Claims that the purpose of history was to produce him. Also, as much as he complains about the state of things, he seems to think he's above it all, or that the universe should just bend to his whims.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Underneath all his curmudgeonly layers and troublemaking side is still an innocent kid who really does care about fairness.
  • Kids Are Cruel: He alternates between being a victim and an instigator of this trope.
  • Kids Prefer Boxes: The Propeller Beanie arc concluded this way. Despite his disappointment that his long-awaited propeller beanie couldnt fly, he's happy it came in a cardboard box he and Hobbes could play with.
  • Lack of Empathy: He expects everyone to bend over backward to accommodate his whims, yet refuses to do any work that doesn't have immediate benefits for himself. Moreover, he deliberately annoys people around him yet is incensed when someone else deliberately slights him. This isn't just hypocrisy; he genuinely believes that he is the most important person in the world, and that different standards of behavior apply to him. This is all pretty standard for a small child, the difference being that Calvin has the ability to cleverly articulate his worldview without ever seeing the inconsistencies within it.
  • Large Ham: Especially when his imagination runs wild. He was born to live in pulp fiction.
  • Last-Second Showoff: Parodied. Calvin is supposed to write a story for school, but he tells Hobbes that first he needs to be in the right mood - last-minute panic.
  • Lazy Bum: Always acts incredibly put-upon when asked to do chores or roped into something that "builds character."
    • It should be noted that all of the "builds character" moments are basically anything that Calvin's dad deems to be as such, like going camping in horrendous weather and enduring mosquito bites. The point being that life both sucks and doesn't suck and you have to take all of these moments in hand.
  • Limited Wardrobe: He always wears the same shirt and pants combo. He does have other clothes, as seen in one strip when the clothes in his wardrobe came alive and forced him to wear an incredibly gaudy set.
  • Literal-Minded: When he feels extra rebellious.
  • The Masochism Tango: With Susie.
    Calvin: It's shameless the way we flirt.
  • The McCoy: To Hobbes' The Spock.
  • Meaningful Name: He's named after theologian John Calvin, who believed that humanity was not inherently good, human salvation was preordained, and only the "elect" were good enough to get into Heaven. Watterson suggests that this explains Calvin's misanthropy and his attitude that nothing is ever his responsibility.
  • The Millstone:
    • In any sort of group activity, Calvin drags down everyone else. He significantly slowed down his troop of Boy Scouts during his imagination running away with him. Also, in an arc where Calvin tried to learn how to play baseball, he not only didn't realize that his team had switched from defense to offense, but he caught a flyball, getting his own teammate out.
    • In a report he wrote with Suzie about Mercury — both the planet and the Roman god — Calvin barely did any research, and ended up significantly lowering their grade.
  • Mouthy Kid: In certain comics, he just seems to go on and on about certain subjects.
  • Mr. Imagination: Calvin provides the page image. A good half of all strips involve his weird imagination in some way.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Sloth and Pride. The former because he's Brilliant, but Lazy and unwilling to do anything to better himself, and the latter because he thinks he's the most important person in the world.
  • The Napoleon: Tends to become insecure about his height whenever it gets too obvious, such as in comparison to Hobbes, Moe, or his parents. One strip makes a punchline out of the fact that because he's so short, short pants touch his feet the way long pants would.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Calvin's biggest character flaw. This is a kid who will invent entirely new realities rather than admit he made a mistake in this one.
    • While appropriately concerned about environmental issues, he also fails to realize that his behavior might be contributing to them. After a spiel about how adults are causing global warming, which his generation will have to live with, his mom wryly says that this is from a kid who wants to be chauffeured more than a block away. The Mars arc has him realize the error of his ways when he ends up littering.
  • Nice Hat: He wears a beanie in the winter strips.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Thoroughly enjoys violent comic books.
    Calvin: Captain Steroid is getting his kidneys punched out with an I-beam!
  • No Indoor Voice: The volume of his yelling is inversely proportional to his height.
    "If you can't win by reason, go for volume."
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Shamelessly used to try to get away with stuff.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: If he's not his bratty self, something is usually wrong. When he got sick with the flu, and didnt even make a fuss about being sick on a weekend, his mom ran to call the doctor. Other notable OOC moments include the injured racoon storyline, and the burglary storyline.
  • Pain-Powered Leap: Has done this on more than one occasion when stung by a bee (or, in one case, a hornet).
  • The Pig Pen: Hobbes will occasionally drop hints that he doesn't smell so good, probably because he Hates Baths. In one strip, Calvin bribed Susie with a quarter to go to the front door of his house and yell, "I'm home!" Hobbes didn't pounce on her, she walked away with the quarter, and a frustrated Calvin came up to the door, only for Hobbes to pounce him.
    Calvin: Never, never, never, NEVER trust a tiger.
    Hobbes: I can always tell when it's you by the bad smell! Hoo hoo hoo!
  • Ping-Pong Na´vetÚ: Especially in the first year of the strip. He watches a trashy soap opera about two adulterous - and murderous - lovers and buys a violent and sexually explicit Heavy Metal album just to anger his parents... but also thinks that when you put bread in a toaster, the bread disappears and toast replaces it.
  • Pint-Sized Kid: Lampshaded in one strip where he looks up at his parents and realizes he only comes up to their knees, and constructs a tiny two-ball snowman so that he can have someone to look down on.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red Oni to Hobbes' Blue.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: A running gag. The author liked how he could precisely articulate stupid ideas.
  • Slasher Smile: Sports this in several strips or whenever he's feeling particularly devious.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: He likes to go on about what a talented genius he is. On one occasion when he got an A on a paper, the rest of the strip was devoted to his fantasy of a huge "Calvin Day" celebration being held in his honor, with a massive "Boy Genius" statue of him being built and jubilant crowds cheering him on as he rode through in a limousine carrying the key to the city.
  • Sore Loser: He doesn't handle losing very well. When Hobbes once defeated him in a game of checkers, Calvin through a huge tantrum, and accused him of cheating, before an annoyed Hobbes finally said, "Look, it's just a game." Calvin responded: I know, you should see me when I lose in real life." Later, when Calvin entered in a safety poster contest and lost to Susie, he claimed the whole contest was rigged and wanted his dad to call the school and declare fraud.
    Hobbes: Well, the important thing is that we tried our best.
    Calvin: The important thing is that we lost!
  • Spiky Hair: Lampshaded by Hobbes.
  • Sweet Tooth: He loves candy, popsicles, cookies, and, of course, his Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs, but he doesn't enjoy his mom's cooking in the slightest. Once, he even made a bunch of sickened snowmen to signal his dislike of some eggplant casserole.
  • Too Dumb to Live: He has his moments, like throwing a rock at a bee's nest or sticking an insulting note to Moe's back. After getting roughed up by Hobbes for jump-scaring him when he was about to pounce, he commented, "I've got to start listening to these quiet, nagging doubts."
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Trope Namer for Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs, and cookies.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Played for laughs in a series of strips when he asks Hobbes to cut his hair, and ends up getting his head shaved bald.
    Hobbes: Nothing a little tonic and combing can't fix.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Of his own imagination.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Subverted. He is a lazy, mischievous delinquent, but it's hard not to like him.
  • Walking Disaster Area: There goes the resale value of that house.
  • Warrior Poet: With snowball fights. This backfired on him once when, after giving a speech about the importance of craftsmanship while meticulously assembling a single snowball from just the right kinds of snow (and signing it), he was creamed by Susie, who had used the same time had to amass a massive snowball arsenal. Another time, he stated that he only throws consecrated snowballs. To wit:
    Oh lovely snowball, packed with care,
    Smack a head that's unaware!
    Then with freezing ice to spare,
    Melt and soak through underwear!
    Fly straight and true, hit hard and square!
    This, oh snowball, is my prayer.
  • Would Hit a Girl: One of his favorite hobbies is tormenting Susie with water balloons and snowballs, and he'll often threaten her when angry. He also wrestled Rosalyn as Stupendous Man, and put up a pretty good fight.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Zigzagged. He's amazingly articulate for a six-year-old kid, and has a pretty firm grasp of philosophizing what he wants. However, most of what he wants or thinks about are the things normally desired by six-year-old kids, like wanting the whole universe to acknowledge that he's amazing.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: In one Sunday strip, he received a letter from Santa Claus encouraging him to be as naughty as he wanted, because the naughty-nice laws were being reversed and presents were now being given to bad children instead of good children. And then he woke up.
    I hate being good
    (or trying to fake it).
    Six days 'til Christmas!
    I don't think I'll make it.


Live and don't learn, that's us.

Calvin's stuffed tiger doll... Or maybe his Not-So-Imaginary Friend. Named after Thomas Hobbes, he's usually seen through Calvin's eyes as an actual tiger while everyone else sees a doll. He's a proud tiger nonetheless and ultimately Calvin's best friend.
  • Art Evolution: In his initial design, he had pads on his paws and was only about a head taller than Calvin in his "animate" form. As the strip went on, he became taller and the pads were removed.
  • Badass Boast: My snowballs go faster than the speed of sound!
  • Berserk Button: Do not interrupt his naps. He's beaten up Calvin several times for doing so.
    Calvin: (after Hobbes shreds him for waking him up by popping a gum bubble) A little high-strung, are we?
    Hobbes: We tigers have lightning-quick reflexes.
  • Big Eater: He's always hungry and will eat pretty much anything, though salmon and canned tuna are the clear favorites.
  • Big Ol' Unibrow: Has a stripe above his eyes that looks like a unibrow.
  • Book Dumb: Not much better at math than Calvin is. Not that he'll admit it.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Mostly towards Susie.
  • Cats Are Mean: Played with. Hobbes has much stronger moral integrity than Calvin, calls him out on various misdeeds, and often tries to convince him to seek happiness from virtue instead of playing pranks, but he also greatly enjoys roughhousing at Calvin's expense, getting under his skin, or freaking him out.
    • Also, he only tries to talk Calvin out of pranks half the time (usually when they're obviously going to explode in his face,) the other half of the time, he's a willing accomplice.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Calvin's straight man.
  • Cats Are Superior: Frequently invoked when quibbling with Calvin.
  • Characterization Marches On: In the early years, Hobbes really wasn't all that much of a snarker, and was frequently just as immature as Calvin. In later years he also became a lot more feline — not only in looks and movement, but in behavior and outlook.
  • The Conscience: Although he won't try too hard, Calvin's the one who'll have to suffer the consequences after all.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Sometimes.
  • Companion Cube: Seen as this by everyone else.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Especially in the later years.
  • Depending on the Writer: Just how mature, active, and friendly he is tends to vary depending on the individual strip (or the era of the strip as a whole). In particular, he can range from being Calvin's absolute best buddy to being little better than Moe.
  • Deuteragonist: Hobbes qualifies as this, since there are many strips and even story arcs where he doesn't appear at all or only plays a minor role.
  • Dub Name Change: to ''Tigern'' ("The Tiger") in Norway.
  • Food as Bribe: The only surefire way of getting him to agree on coming along on whatever wacky adventure you've got planned, is to tell him you've brought snacks. Calvin exploits this on occasion.
  • From a Certain Point of View: Hobbes' true nature. Watterson was deliberately as vague as possible about whether Hobbes' interactions with Calvin were in his head, or if he actually did come to life when only Calvin was around. This is the reason for why Watterson regretted the first few strips, which showed that Calvin had found Hobbes in the woods using tuna fish as bait for a snare. He felt this undermined the ambiguous nature of Hobbes too much.
    Watterson: Calvin and Hobbes is more about the subjective nature of reality than about dolls coming to life.
  • Furry Reminder: We get various reminders that he is a tiger: He sleeps a lot, chases his tail and enjoys pouncing, among other things.
  • The Gadfly: He never passes up a chance to annoy, frustrate or freak out Calvin, purely for his own amusement. Most of the fights or arguments between the two seem to ultimately be started by Hobbes pouncing, teasing or pranking Calvin in some way (though Calvin is by no means innocent and often gives as good as he gets.)
  • The Glomp: A Running Gag, where he pounces Calvin at full speed when Calvin comes home from school.
  • Handsome Lech: While Calvin believes Girls Have Cooties, Hobbes has a thing for "babes."
    • And yet, he's a proud member of Get Rid Of Slimy girlS
      • *in a list of what girls are good for* "Number four, they're good for smooching!"
      • A lot of G.R.O.S.S.'s plans fail because of Hobbes. One story arc ends with Calvin yelling at Hobbes "GOOD GRAVY, WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?!?"
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Ever notice how he always hits Calvin?
  • Intellectual Animal: Heavy on the Intellectual.
  • Invisible to Normals: Everyone but Calvin sees him as just a stuffed animal.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He does really care about Calvin despite how he messes with him a lot.
  • Karma Houdini: He constantly beats Calvin up without being provoked (and he enjoys it) and almost always gets away with it. Also, when some things, which are partially or wholly Hobbes' fault, get blamed on Calvin due to being Invisible to Normals.
    • To be fair, Hobbes' pouncing is not very injurious and is a display of affection, and it is implied that Calvin realizes this deep down (one Sunday strip from 1990 shows Calvin, having gone through a very bad day, comment that it's getting better when being pounced by Hobbes); some strips, such as this one, show him rather miffed when he doesn't get pounced.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Hobbes is apparently quite cynical, but often does good deeds he doesn't expect to be rewarded for. (i.e. Trying to preach virtue to Calvin. You know, the same guy who tries to pin things on Hobbes when caught.)
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: When it comes to math, at any rate.
  • The Lancer: To Calvin.
  • Lazy Bum: He loves to take naps and lounge around in the sun. When Calvin asked him about the latter, he said, "Tigers' tummies are solar cells."
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The widely popular debate about him being either a figment of Calvin's imagination or a real character who pretends to be stuffed whenever anyone else than Calvin is present. Word of God himself believes it's up to the reader's interpretation and refuses to give a straight answer.
    • Then there's the fact that Calvin has no objections to his mom putting Hobbes in the washing machine. Watterson admits this is "one of the stranger blurrings of what Hobbes is."
  • Meaningful Name: He's named after Thomas Hobbes, a philosopher who at times had a poor outlook on life and human nature, which explains his cynicism rather well.
  • Not So Above It All: Even though he usually acts as an Only Sane Man to Calvin, he sometimes takes part of mischief caused by Calvin.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Or is he?
  • No Sympathy: Quite often to Calvin. In his defense, he's more aware than anyone that Calvin causes a lot of his own problems and will advise him against doing things that will obviously blow up in his face. When he's inevitably ignored, Hobbes will switch toward instigating things and making Calvin suffer, though he does offer affection when Calvin's clearly upset (and again, if it's not something that's his own fault).
  • The Obi-Wannabe: While he gives good advice most of the time, some of it doesn't take into account the fact that Calvin is not a tiger.
  • Older Sidekick: Some comics hint that he was around before Calvin was born.
    Calvin: No fair. Mom always takes your side!
    Hobbes: That's because she wanted another tiger, not you!
  • Only Sane Man: Somewhat more calm than Calvin, and acts as a voice of reason at times. However, half the time he joins in on Calvin's antics.
  • Panthera Awesome: As a tiger, he's the epitome of grace, power, and beauty—according to himself, at least.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Well, replace "Warrior Race" with "Tiger." He's very proud of being a tiger, and Calvin pokes fun at him when he displays qualities more commonly associated with housecats such as lounging in the sun or being lazy.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blue Oni to Calvin's Red.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Is he actually a Living Toy or is his sentience a product of Calvin's imagination? The world may never know.
  • Right-Hand Cat: For Calvin. Or rather, a "Right Hand Tiger".
  • Running Gag: Pouncing on Calvin as soon as he walks in the door and yells, "I'M HOME!"
  • Sanity Ball: When he's not encouraging Calvin to be even worse.
  • Shipper on Deck: For Calvin/Susie, much to Calvin's annoyance.
  • The Spock: A bit less emotional than Calvin.
  • Straight Man: He usually displays more common sense than Calvin, lampshades some of the sillier points of Calvin's schemes, and notes the obvious solution only to be shot down by Calvin's ego.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Tuna fish. He switched to salmon in later strips, then went back to tuna.
  • Trickster Mentor: Sometimes he comes across as this, his pranks and snide remarks seeming intended to teach Calvin a lesson. Of course, it never works.
  • Undying Loyalty: Towards Calvin.
  • Victory Is Boring: "The thrill of the chase is so diminished when one's prey has little legs." (Calvin: "OH, I'M REAL SORRY!")
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Calvin, meaning that despite fighting over the silliest of reasons they are the best of friends.
  • The Watson: Although not from ignorance, but out of curiosity.

Secondary Characters

    Susie Derkins
I'd ask you to play House, but you'd be a weird example for our kids.

The neighbor girl and one of the few people Calvin actually interacts with his age. She's a constant target of Calvin's pranks but seems to handle her own quite well.
  • Badass Adorable: She can be a badass if Calvin gets her angry enough.
  • Berserk Button: Don't throw a snowball at her, do not throw a water balloon at her, don't try to gross her out with whatever you have for lunch, and never call her fat.
    Calvin: I'm still learning [my lines]. Being an onion is difficult, you know? What are you?
    Susie: I'm 'Fat.'
    Calvin: No, I mean in the play.
    (brief moment of between-panel violence: ends with Calvin lying on his back and surrounded by stars of pain)
    Susie: Anyone ELSE want to say it?!
    Calvin: Aacccckk! Understudy! Understudy!
  • Beware the Nice Ones: She has a sweet demeanor overall, but she can be ruthless if you get on her bad side — which Calvin tends to do more often than not.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Seemingly with Calvin.
  • Boyish Short Hair: She sports a neat bob cut and can easily match Calvin in a fight blow for blow.
  • Brainy Brunette: Though not smart enough to realize that cheating off of Calvin during a test is a pretty stupid idea...
  • Bullying a Dragon: Regularly sends Calvin's ass to the cleaners in a fight. Word of God says this just encourages Calvin to be even more annoying.
  • Butt-Monkey: A frequent target of Calvin's pranks and insults, though she gives as good as she receives.
    • She does have a limit, though. Calvin once called her a "booger-brain", which sent her home crying, and made Calvin feel bad. He actually has to chase her down to apologize.
  • Catch-Phrase: Whenever Calvin grosses her out with disgusting descriptions of his lunch, her reaction is nearly always a big, "MISS WORMWOOD!!!"
  • Characterization Marches On: One early strip had Susie attempting to cheat off Calvin, with predictably disastrous results. Later on, he would be the one continually hitting her up for test answers, only be rebuffed on the grounds that cheating is wrong.
  • Child Prodigy: While not shown as often as Calvin's, her vocabulary is well above that of a real-life first grader. Example: "stupidity produces antibodies."
  • Cute Bruiser: Most prominent during the wintertime. Whenever Calvin hits her with a snowball, she basically goes "all-out" on him. Calvin is often seen all beaten afterwards.
  • Fille Fatale: She repeatedly "charms" Hobbes into helping her or at least not harming her, despite all of Calvin's urgings.
  • Genius Bruiser: She's a good student, but she isn't afraid to get her hands dirty when Calvin deserves it.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: She's occasionally seen with a stuffed bunny named Mr. Bun, and fawns over Hobbes on more than one occasion.
    Susie: Look at your stuffed tiger! He's wearing a tie! That's so cute!
  • Go-Getter Girl: Susie exemplifies this, making her the perfect foil for Brilliant, but Lazy Calvin.
  • Hair Decorations: She once wore a bow in her hair for class picture day.
  • Hero Antagonist: Especially if you look at things from Calvin's perspective.
  • Hypocrite: It's okay if she throws snowballs at Calvin. When he does it her, she goes ballistic.
  • Housewife: Occasionally what she likes to act as when playing house with Calvin when she isn't "the high-powered executive wife."
  • Little Miss Badass: She can put up a fight pretty good for somebody who's only Calvin's age.
  • Little Miss Snarker: She often gives as good as she gets when she and Calvin meet. After Calvin smugly notes how boys are superior to girls, and asks what would make it worth living as one, Susie says they'll be asking her for dates to the prom when they're 17.
  • Not So Above It All: Susie was genuinely impressed with Calvin's idea to style his hair with Crisco for School Picture Day, even admitting out loud that she wished she had some Crisco.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Calvin fails to learn that no matter how big a water balloon, pine cone, or snowball he ambushes Susie with, it won't stop her from immediately popping up and kicking the stuffing out of him.
  • The Rival: To Calvin.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Quite capable of being as diabolical as Calvin. Led to more than one Hoist by His Own Petard moment.
  • Similar Squad: Herself and Mr. Bun.
    • However, Hobbes comments that Mr. Bun appears "comatose." Whether this is due to Susie not having as vivid an imagination as Calvin, or because Mr. Bun is a Not-So-Imaginary Friend, of course, depends on what Hobbes actually is.
  • Teacher's Pet: Or at least, an extremely committed student.
  • Tsundere: Word of God says she and Calvin sort of have a love/hate relationship.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: She and Calvin spend an awful lot of time together, even if they can't stand one another.
    • It's also implied that she doesn't have many friends outside of Calvin.

    Calvin's Mom
I haven't seen Calvin for about 15 minutes now. That probably means he's getting in trouble.

Calvin's mom.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Although she usually has little patience for Calvin's antics, he did manage to make her laugh hysterically when he put on Dad's glasses, imitated his hairstyle, and said, "Calvin, go do something you hate! Being miserable builds character!"
  • Deadpan Snarker: She has her moments.
    Calvin: (pointing happily to three grotesque melted snowmen holding signs that read "Repent Sinners," "The End is Near," and "Spring is Coming") They're snowmen prophets of doom.
    Mom: You certainly take the pleasure out of waiting for daffodils.
  • Former Teen Rebel: Along with her husband.
  • Generation Xerox: It's implied that she was a problem child herself.
  • Happily Married: Until Calvin strained the relationship. Word of God is that he couldn't picture a family that wouldn't have some moments of ambivalence about a kid like Calvin, and concludes, "They do a better job [raising Calvin] than I would."
  • Housewife: Though Calvin doesn't make her job easy.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She can appear unsympathetic when she is stressed, but she clearly loves Calvin with all her heart. While her relationship with her husband can be somewhat strained when it comes to raising their son, they are Happily Married.
  • Lethal Chef: Calvin thinks she is, to the point where he imagines her putting weed killer, gasoline, Shrunken Heads, paint and a live octopus into one meal.
  • Mama Bear: When his father's teasing about a Christmas without presents or a tree goes too far and genuinely upsets Calvin, she makes it clear to him that he'll be paying dearly for it.
  • No Name Given: Since her purpose in the story is just to be Calvin's Mom, Watterson made a point of never naming her.
  • Not So Different: It's mentioned in one comic that Calvin's mother was apparently as bad as him as a child. In addition to this, on two occasions, she's even interacted with Hobbes — or at least attempted to speak to him as if he wasn't a stuffed toy!
    Mom: (after a disastrous doctor appointment) Someday I hope you have a kid that puts you what I've gone through.
    Calvin: Yeah, that's what Grandma says she used to tell you.
  • Pet the Dog: Many moments. She constantly has to put up with Calvin but ultimately cares for his well being, showing genuine concern for him at times and sometimes just acting nice to him.
    Calvin: "Mom is awesome."
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Although she's the disciplinarian of the family more often than not.
  • Tsundere: Type B over Calvin's dad.
  • Tough Love: Calvin once asked his mom if he could smoke cigarettes. She gave him some his grandfather left over, surprisingly enough. He threw a huge whooping cough, causing his mom to walk over and say: "I guess we learned a little lesson here."
  • Unnamed Parent: She is known only as "Mom".
  • Women Are Wiser: Inverted on a few occasions when dealing with Hobbes. She once confessed some of her fears to him when Calvin wasn't around, and on another occasion she called out for him when she and Dad were in the woods looking for him at night.
    • Then again, depending on how you interpret Hobbes' reality and with a little dash of Wild Mass Guessing, this could be played straight.

    Calvin's Dad

Calvin's dad.
  • A Day in the Limelight: His cycling strips usually don't feature Calvin.
  • Angrish: "Slippin-rippin-dang-fang-rotten-zarg-barg-a-ding-dong!"
  • Author Avatar: Played with, he's actually based on Watterson's own father, right down to the profession, but Watterson relates more to him than he does to Calvin.
    • Ink-Suit Actor: Basically Bill Watterson without a mustache. Note that Calvin's uncle Max does have a mustache (but is missing Watterson's glasses).
  • Berserk Button: Don't break his stuff.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Dislikes modern technology and other recent developments, like the gradual decline of people's manners.
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: Dad eventually became a walking Author Tract, making speeches about commercialism and materialism and the horror of our age and the fulfillment that comes only with being miserable in the great outdoors. For all that, though, he still enjoys Boomer pop culture - much to Calvin's chagrin.
  • Catchphrase: "(insert something unpleasant) builds character!"
  • Composite Character: Calvin's Dad combines traits of both Bill Watterson's father, and Watterson himself.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Obvious where Calvin got this from.
  • Death Glare: In one strip, when Calvin tries to go outside without doing his homework, his dad gives him "the evil eye," and is transformed into a giant eyeball.
  • The Gadfly: Not generally, but something about Calvin's earnest questions sets off this side of his dad's nature.
    Calvin: Dad, what causes the wind?
    Dad: Trees sneezing.
  • Former Teen Rebel: While he seems borderline reactionary in the strip's present, he apparently partied quite a bit in his youth, and proves himself to be quite knowledgeable regarding '60s hippie slang in one strip.
    Calvin: (while looking through an old yearbook) Is this you with the keg and the "Party Naked" t-shirt?
    Dad: (snatching the yearbook) Give me that!
  • Happily Married: Calvin strains the relationship. He does love his wife, however, and they go out for evenings alone often.
  • Henpecked Husband: "I just live here"
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: A perfect morning for him is a long hike in the falling snow, followed by a big bowl of oatmeal, and doesn't understand why the rest of his family doesn't share his enthusiasm for Horrible Camping Trips. May cross over to Macho Masochism.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He can be rather unsympathetic to Calvin at times, stating that Misery Builds Character. However, there is no doubt he is a normal, caring father who loves his wife and son deeply. He just gets irritated by Calvin's troublemaking antics. He is the more down-to-earth member of the family who just tries to keep them in tact.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: He doesn't know nearly as much as he wants Calvin to think he does. He gave up trying to explain how things work to Calvin, instead coming up with lies.
    • Some have pointed out, however, that in at least one early strip, he gave Calvin the right answer, only to be rebuffed. Perhaps that explains it...
  • Lies to Children: Constantly. In commentary on one such strip, Watterson simply observed, "I suspect it must be a great temptation to abuse one's parental authority for private jokes."
  • Ludd Was Right: Many strips show that he looks down on modern technology. He views most television as "preachy" and encouraging consumerism, and when Calvin asked him why they don't have an Internet connection, he replied "Because it's bad enough that we have a telephone." In one strip, he got in trouble when he started complaining loudly about the wide variety of peanut butter at the grocery store, and it's hinted that this has happened before. There's also his yearly camping trips, which imply that he believes "building character" during a vacation is more important than actually enjoying it.
  • Mad Libs Catch Phrase: "X builds character."
  • Misery Builds Character: Trope Namer. He'll often give Calvin some menial task to do, such as shoveling snow off the driveway, and rebuff Calvin's objections with something along the lines of "Hard work builds character." Not helped by the fact that his hobbies, things he does for fun, like jogging, biking and camping, are miserable for Mom and Calvin.
  • No Name Given: His real name is never stated, since his in-story purpose is just to be Calvin's Dad.
  • One-Note Cook: If you could even call him that, prior to marrying Calvin's Mom, he lived on his on for two years, where according to Mom, he ate nothing but canned soup and frozen waffles three meals a day.
  • Pet the Dog: Stopped working to play with Calvin until his bed time, causing Calvin to actually give him a kiss. Then he had to work into the night.
    • He also takes the time to read Calvin a bedtime story every night. Even if it's Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie, which he hates. Or at least hates as the same one every single night.
  • The Scrooge: Not directly, but teases Calvin by pretending to be this. Notably by suggesting getting a Christmas Tree sometime after New Year's, so they can just grab a tree off the street, possibly with tinsel still on it, to save time and money. If Mom's reaction is anything to go by, he may be paying for it dearly.
  • Standard '50s Father: Well, he tries to fit the archetype, but Calvin, being anything but a sitcom kid, makes it difficult. He's also not afraid to show a mischievous side, and it's implied he wasn't always so straight and narrow. Of course, unlike the original version of this trope, Dad was actually a Boomer, and thus had a somewhat different experience growing up.
  • Unnamed Parent: He is known only as "Dad" to Calvin.
  • Volumetric Mouth: Occasionally in older strips while yelling at Calvin.

    Miss Wormwood
It's not enough that we have to be disciplinarians, now we need to be psychologists.

Calvin's first-grade teacher. Miss Wormwood struggles mightily to be patient with Calvin and yearns for retirement. Watterson named her, somewhat obscurely, after a low-ranking demon in The Screwtape Letters.
  • Designated Villain: In-universe, from Calvin's point of view.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Non-alcoholic example. If Calvin says something really inane, she'll drink Maalox straight from the bottle.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Calvin doesn't consider her one of his sworn archenemies for nothing.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure; She acted like this when Calvin suffered a Freak Out! about being trapped inside on a beautiful day, as opposed to simply misbehaving:
    Miss Wormwood: Next time, take a drink of water and a few deep breaths.
  • Sadist Teacher: Again, Calvin views her as this. In truth, she isn't one, she's just very boring, which makes her classes hard for Calvin to sit through.
  • Stern Teacher: In reality.
    • Then again, she seems to give much harder questions than a first grader is expected to know. An especially egregious example (besides the insect collection) involves a word problem that requires knowledge of multiplication and algebra!
      • Not to mention, the class projects she gives include having to collect FIFTY different leaves/insects and labeling them with their scientific Latin names over the course of two weeks. No wonder Calvin views school as comparable to forced labor.
      • She even has her students read about the Byzantine Empire, which is a subject most kids won't be taught about until high school, if even then!
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Until he learned otherwise, Calvin 'sort of assumed' that his teacher slept in a coffin all summer.
  • Shout-Out: Word of God has confirmed that her name is a reference to the apprentice demon in The Screwtape Letters.
  • So Proud of You: Downplayed, but in one Sunday strip, she seems genuinely impressed for a moment when Calvin gets an A.
  • Survival Mantra: "Five years until retirement, five years until retirement, five years until retirement..."
  • Would Hurt a Child: She has no problem scraping and dragging Calvin after he comes in the classroom as Stupendous Man.


The class bully who got held back in school multiple times and often takes Calvin's money. He's the only kid Calvin knows that shaves.
  • Blinding Bangs: His hairdo grows right over his eyes.
  • The Brute: Big, mean, strong, and stupid. Yep, we've got The Brute.
  • The Bully: 100% explosive, 0% fuse.
  • The Ditz: Gets quite a few moments of this, especially when Calvin says things that go over his head.
  • Dumb Muscle: Big an brawny as a six-year-old can be, but he has serious trouble understanding words with more than two or three syllables.
  • Dumbass Has a Point / Jerkass Has a Point: Says he doesn't pick on people his own size because they hit back.
    Calvin: I guess that has a certain unethical logic to it...
    • After Calvin tells him that to get his kicks in while he can because when he's an adult he can't go beating people up for no reason, Moe agrees and decides to beat up Calvin more.
  • Fat Bastard: Described as such by Hobbes, and he is noticeably heftier than the other six-year-olds.
  • Flat Character: Unlike most other characters in the series, who have sympathetic sides and are open to various interpretations, Moe solely exists just to be a jerk to Calvin.
  • Hate Sink: See Flat Character. Moe's only characterization is to be as unpleasant as humanly possible.
  • Jerkass: No denying it. He's nothing more than a complete and total hoodlum.
  • Jerk Jock: The thug never ceases to intimidate Calvin when it comes to sports in gym class.
  • Karma Houdini: Torments and beats up Calvin without provocation, and never really receives any punishment or payback. Though Calvin did appear to get the better of him when he introduced him to Hobbes, an act that confused Moe so much that he practically begged that Calvin leave him alone. (Calvin assumed he was scared of Hobbes, but Moe saw only a stuffed toy and assumed Calvin was trying to frame him by inviting him to play with the "teddy" and then claiming he stole it.)
  • The Nicknamer: He calls Calvin "Twinky".
  • Painting the Medium: He is the only character who speaks in mixed caps instead of all caps, and his speech appears to have been written with a pencil.
  • Vocal Dissonance: From how his dialogue is done via grade-school-style handwriting instead of the neat letters of everyone else. presumably he sounds like a big, mean bully in Bill Watterson's imagination. note 
  • Younger Than They Look: How Calvin saw him in the first strip that features him. It's more likely that he is much older than Calvin and got held back multiple times.
    Calvin: Never argue with a six-year-old who shaves.

For eight bucks a night, I don't put up with much.

Calvin's babysitter. She's often the only one in the neighborhood willing to babysit Calvin for his parents, provided she gets paid extra of course.
  • Archenemy: Word of God says that she's the only person Calvin truly fears.
  • Ascended Extra: Watterson created her for just one story arc, but quickly realized having a character Calvin was actually intimidated by could provide a lot of material, so she appeared several more times.
  • Babysitter from Hell: Calvin certainly views her as such.
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: Usually is on the receiving end of Calvin's mischief.
  • Batman Gambit: In her final appearance in the strip, Rosalyn uses this to get Calvin to behave. She makes him want to do his homework and clean his room by offering to play Calvinball with him, and then actually has fun with the game and wins when they play it, having learned about the (lack of) rules in the course of it.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: As the only babysitter in town who will agree to babysit Calvin, she's in a primo bargaining position. College tuition, y'know.
  • Child Hater: From Calvin's point of view.
    Calvin: She'll probably stick my head on a stake as a warning to other kids she babysits!!
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Disappeared for a few years, but ultimately subverted this in the final months of the strip where she came back for one final story arc.
  • Crazy-Prepared: One one occasion Calvin tried to sneak out of the house again. As he's sprinting across the backyard, she jumps out the window behind him, and, well...
    Calvin: Aw man! She's wearing CLEATS!!!
    Hobbes: Outta my WAY! Outta my WAY!
  • Designated Villain: In-universe; from Calvin's perspective.
    • Although in her final appearance towards the end of the strip she finally figures out how to deal with Calvin in a way no one else does and the two of them reach an understanding.
    • Rosalyn's first night with Calvin goes relatively smoothly. It's only after Calvin chafes at the enforced bedtimes and her continued presence that he starts causing trouble.
  • The Dreaded: Not a lot of people can strike fear into Calvin's heart quite like Rosalyn. Even Hobbes is terrified of her.
  • Guile Hero: In her final story arc, Rosalyn figures out how to deal with Calvin. By playing Calvinball with him, she engages with Calvin on his own terms. Not only does she get Calvin to behave, she gets him to do his homework.
    Mom: How was Calvin?
    Rosalyn: Pretty good. Calvin did his homework, we played a game, and Calvin went to bed.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: It doesn't take much for Calvin to annoy her. Once she sent him to bed early because he shot two Nerf darts at her.
  • Hero Antagonist: Portrayed as a hero in actuality, but she does occasionally resort to violence to deal with Calvin.
  • Hey, You!: When talking to Calvin, she will sometimes derisively refer to him as something along the lines of "you little creep", or simply "you."
  • Invisible Parents: Charlie, actually an Invisible Boyfriend. Although her parents are never mentioned either.
  • Not So Different: In her last appearance, she bonds with Calvin in a game of Calvinball. And learns how to exploit its "make-it-up-as-you-along" nature very quickly.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: She's usually pretty fair until Calvin antagonizes her.
  • Serial Escalation: Watterson commented that every Rosalyn arc had to be more extreme than the last one, at one point causing him to resort to involving Stupendous Man.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: To Calvin.
  • Teens Are Monsters: At least, Calvin thinks so.

Minor Characters

    Calvin's Good Side
Hobbes: The ethicator must've done some deep digging to extract him.

A duplicate Calvin made of himself, who only has Calvin's good qualities and none of his bad ones.

    Uncle Max 

Calvin's uncle, on his father's side, who lives far enough away that he hardly ever sees Calvin and his family.

    Galaxoid and Nebular

A couple of aliens who think they bought the world from Calvin.
  • Back for the Finale: They're set up as oneshot characters like Calvin's good side or the Snow Goons, but they reappear one more time pretty close to the end of the strip's run, in the last story arc.
  • Ditzy Genius: They are more intelligent than most humans, but think that Calvin is ruler of the Earth.
  • Those Two Guys: They are never seen apart.
  • Starfish Aliens: They can barely pass for humanoid squids.
  • You Get What You Pay For: They bought the Earth for 50 alien leaves, which were worthless to them. They got a planet that annually tilts away from the sun and gets cold during the winter. ("Let the buyer beware," Calvin snaps at them.)

Calvin's Alter Egos

    In General 

There are several of these, due to Calvin's rampant imagination, including Wonga-Taa, King of Jungle (an obvious Captain Ersatz of Tarzan) and an unnamed, enormous carnosaur known to science only as the Calvinosaur. The most common personae, however, have their own folders below.

    Stupendous Man

Calvin as a superhero; an Expy of Superman with the Large Ham qualities turned Up to Eleven.
  • The Adjectival Man: The Stupendous one, to be precise.
  • Characterization Marches On: He first appears in a one-off strip roughly a year before Calvin begins wearing a cape and hood to "disguise" himself, and his original appearance in Calvin's fantasy simply consists of a Domino Mask and a cape as opposed to the full superhero costume Calvin imagines himself wearing later on. He also apparently cannot fly in his first appearance, as it shows him worried about getting off a high building (in real life, Calvin is on a slide at the playground and is reluctant to go down it.)
  • Clark Kenting: Calvin's imaginary superhero self.
  • Expressive Mask: During his fantasy sequences.
  • Failure Hero: Lampshaded when Hobbes asks if Stupendous Man has ever won a battle.
  • Flying Brick: He has the classic combo of flight and super strength in a normal human body.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "S" for Stupendous! "T" for Tiger, ferocity of! "U" for Underwear, red! Unfortunately, despite his immense vocabulary, Calvin isn't good at actually spelling things, so he never finishes the acronym.
  • Large Ham: Like you wouldn't believe. Nearly everything he says is some form of hammy bragging about how awesome he is.
  • Minimalist Cast: Stupendous Man is the only visible character in these daydreams. Other characters are alluded to (Mom Lady, Babysitter Girl, Crab Teacher,) but we only see them when the POV switches back to the real world.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Mom Lady, Babysitter Girl, and Crab Teacher are all bigger than him - and he hates them for it.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Subverted. Calvin thinks his hood and cape hide his identity, when they actually don't.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Heavily implied, as all the "supervillains" he fights are women.
  • Superheroes Wear Capes: A flowing red one longer than he's tall.
  • Super Intelligence: In one story arc, Calvin bought his costume to school in order to use Stupendous Man's intelligence to pass a test. He flunks it anyway.
  • Super Strength: Such so that one strip, he returns the planet to a previous point in its orbit to basically extend the year by one day.

    Spaceman Spiff

"It never fails. I just washed and waxed this thing..."

A space adventurer and hero who explores strange planets and unknown parts of space, and fights all kinds of alien monsters (who tend to want to kill him, or capture and interrogate him.)
  • A Planet Named Zok: Most planets Spiff visits are named something like Zorg, Bog, Quorg, Zortak, or, yes, Zok.
  • Art Shift: The Spiff fantasies have more realistic landscapes. The fact that Calvin sees real life as cartoonish by comparison really says something about how he thinks.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: One short shows him exiting his ship to fix it, with no Explosive Decompression or air being sucked out of him.
  • Bold Explorer: Spiff is a bold interstellar explorer, who constantly gets captured by bizarre alien life forms (usually Calvin's parents or his teacher.)
  • Captain Crash: Many Spaceman Spiff episodes involve his ship getting hit by alien death ray fire and crash-landing on some unknown alien planet.
    • "SPACEMAN SPIFF IS GOING DOWN!!!" is practically his Catch-Phrase.
  • Captain Space, Defender of Earth!: An obvious send up of this archetype, Spiff is an intrepid space explorer.
  • Defiant to the End: Spiff never breaks... except once.
    Torturer Dad: "Let's see how you withstand a calm discussion of wholesome principles!
  • Expressive Mask: His goggles change shape to reflect his facial expressions.
  • Failure Hero: Most of his stories start with him crashing his spaceship onto A Planet Named Zok and end with him captured by aliens.
  • Fantastic Racism: Many of Spiff's adventures show him preparing to kill aliens - even ones who haven't attacked him or don't even know he's there. At one point, he prepared to execute a lower life-form In the Back because it was so stupid he felt pity for it.
  • Guns Are Worthless: You could probably count the number of times his gun hasn't backfired on him or proven ineffective against his target on your one hand. Then again, considering Calvin's Weapon of Choice in reality is a suction dart pistol, and the aliens often represent his real life enemies, it's clear that his imaginary weapon's effectiveness is equivalent to his real weapon's.
  • Large Ham: Hams it up a lot, an example being Large Ham Title.
  • Large Ham Title: Interplanetary Explorer Extraordinaire!
  • No Indoor Voice: At times, he is pretty loud. One comic consisted of him doing nothing but screaming.
  • Planet of Hats: Where he frequently travels to. Generally, the hat seems to be that of an evil alien conqueror.
  • Shout-Out: Watterson has said that Spiff's narration is a spoof on Flash Gordon.
  • Single-Biome Planet: More like Single Biome Galaxy. Every single planet that Spiff visits (with only two exceptions) is a rocky desert based on the deserts of Utah.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: After Calvin escapes from school, Spaceman Spiff escapes from his dungeon, but when Calvin's mother finds out, Spiff's ship comes under attack.

    Tracer Bullet
"I got eight slugs in me. One's lead, and the rest are bourbon..."

A hard-boiled private investigator in an unnamed big city.

  • "Awesome McCool" Name: Tracer Bullet.
  • Art Shift: Noir art, which is almost completely black with some white so you know what's going on. Watterson mentions he did it purposely to make it harder to look at, as the eye, being lazy, favors blank white spaces.
  • Butt-Monkey: Gets beaten up near the end of both of his arcs.
  • City Noir: The unnamed city where his adventures take place: it seems to be entirely made of alleys and overbearing skyscrapers, it's always raining, and the strips it appears in are drawn in a photo-realistic style that emphasizes shadows.
  • Complexity Addiction: Tracer Bullet in the first arc results in this. Calvin is asked to solve a basic math problem, but Bullet "solves" the case as though the numbers are people (that is, that he was solving a "numbers racket" a la gangster movies). He ends up blaming it on "Mr. Billion" and answering the problem as "1,000,000,000."
  • Crapsack World: From what little we see of it, Tracer's world ain't a friendly or happy place. Pretty par for the course for noir, really.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He stays calm a lot, even when he snarks.
  • The Faceless: Everybody except Tracer was like this in his strips.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Averted. He has an actual gun that shoots actual bullets on-panel.
  • A Friend in Need: The ending of the second arc, where he doesn't admit the truth to the authorities because the culprit is a friend of his, i.e. Hobbes.
  • Functional Addict: He's a heavy drinker and smoker, but it doesn't seam to affect his ability to solve cases.
    "I have two magnums in my desk, one's a gun and I keep it loaded. The other's a bottle and it keeps me loaded."
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Both times he gets beaten up. His shooting the dame in the second arc.
  • Hardboiled Detective: Or an exaggeration/parody thereof.
  • Nice Hat: No special powers, but definitely appropriate. And hey, it helps protect him from rain! Score! In fact, his hat is the entire reason why the character was created, Calvin first donned the fedora in an arc where Hobbes gave him a terrible haircut.
  • Noir Episode: Although Watterson admitted he wasn't a big fan of noir, he actually got the look and feel of the genre down surprisingly well.
  • Not-So-Badass Longcoat: Though he definitely sees himself as a badass.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Never cracks a smile. His face is set in a perpetual, hard-boiled grimace.
  • Private Eye Monologue: The only actual text in his strips is his lengthy internal monologues, which Calvin is shown thinking "aloud" when the strip switches back to the real world.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Watterson says that the main reason Tracer made so few appearances was simply because the Noir-ish art took too long to finish. If it hadn't, we might've been given more Tracer Bullet cases to enjoy.
    • In-universe, Calvin is first seen using the Tracer Bullet fantasy when he is covering up a bad haircut with a fedora.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Constantly puffing cigarettes, and is a hero (or at least in Calvin's imagination he is).
  • Talks Like a Simile
    ''I didn't like the way this story was shaping up, so I decided to write a new ending with my .45 automatic as co-author... My friend made three profound arguments while I excused myself. I always leave when the talk gets philosophical. Just as I finished putting all the puzzle pieces together, the dame's hired goon jumped out of nowhere and practiced for his chiropractic degree."
  • This Is Gonna Suck: What he thinks when something bad is about to happen, or when he gets a case when he had something else planned at the time.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The second arc, where Tracer Bullet is hired to investigate a broken lamp. Calvin's mom thinks he did it when it was actually Hobbes, so Bullet's POV depicts it as "the dame" just getting him at the crime scene so she could blame the crime on him.
    • Detective Patsy: As stated above, he was hired solely for "the Dame" to have someone to pin her crime on.
  • Would Hit a Girl: In the second arc, after Tracer realizes that the dame that hired him just wanted to pin the crime on him, he has no problem taking out his gun and shooting at her.