Characters: Calvin and Hobbes
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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 six year old with an unusually large vocabulary and grown-up sense of humor.
- Allergic to Routine: To the point where he rejects wearing clothes. 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.
- 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: Also provides the trope page image.
- 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!"
- A Boy and His Tiger
- Bratty Half-Pint: Hoo boy. 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, philosophies, very knowledgeable about dinosaurs, and has an advanced sense of irony, but since school often teaches everything he doesn't like to learn, he just doesn't bother. He could easily succeed in school if he applied himself - in one strip, he gets a good grade, but feels that it just isn't worth the effort. On the other hand, he is just impossibly bad at basic math.
- Book Dumb
- Ditzy Genius
- More than one strip suggested that his grades at math were simply because he found the subject incomprehensibly boring.
- 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 six-year-old kid in a newspaper strip, he qualifies for this sub-type.
- Brats with Slingshots: Sometimes.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : Always.
- The Chew Toy: Quite literally to Hobbes at times. Plus... well, let's just say that he's not physically strong.
- 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.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Spends a lot of time wrapped up in his imagination.
- Creepy Child: Some strips (such as the ones featuring his snowmen) cast him in this light, though played for laughs rather than horror.
- Critical Research Failure: 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 naive.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Didn't Think This Through: He always seems to act without thinking it through first.
- Dub Name Change: Is called Tommy in Norway and Steen in Denmark.
- Enfant Terrible: Sometimes.
- Everybody Hates Mathematics: As referenced above, although he's not fond of any school subject, he almost treats math like it's a supervillain.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 six-year-old.
- It's All About Calvin: Calvin claims that the purpose of history was to produce him.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Underneath all his curmudgeonly layers is someone who really does care about fairness and all the ugliness in the world.
- Kids Are Cruel: He alternated between being the victim and the instigator of this trope.
- Large Ham: Especially when his imagination runs wild. He was born to live in pulp fiction.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- Pint-Sized Kid: Lampshaded in one strip where he looks up at his parents and realizes he only comes up to their knees, constructs a tiny two-ball snowman, and says, "Shrimp."
- 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.
- Sore Loser: Shown whenever he loses to Hobbes in checkers.
- Spiky Hair: Lampshaded by Hobbes.
- Sweet Tooth: He loves candy, popsicles, 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.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Trope Namer for Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs, and cookies.
- Unreliable Narrator: Of his own imagination.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: He's a lazy, mischievous delinquent, and it's hard not to like him.
- Walking Disaster Area: There goes the resale value of that house.
- Warrior Poet: With snowball fights.
- 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.
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.
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.
- Berserk Button: Don't throw a snowball at her, do not throw a water balloon at her, 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 prone and surrounded by stars of pain)
Susie: Anyone ELSE want to say it?!
- 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.
- 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.
- The Chick
- 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.
- Go-Getter Girl: She may be only six, but Susie exemplifies this, making her the perfect foil for Brilliant but Lazy Calvin.
- Hero Antagonist: Especially if you look at things from Calvin's perspective.
- Housewife: Occasionally what she likes to act as when playing house with Calvin when she isn't "the high-powered executive wife".
- The Kirk
- Little Miss Badass
- Little Miss Snarker
- Pintsized Powerhouse: Calvin fails to learn that no matter how big a water balloon or snowball he ambushes Susie with, it won't stop her from immediately popping up and kicking the stuffing out of him.
- The Rival
- Silk Hiding Steel: Quite capable of being as diabolical as Calvin, if not moreso.
- 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, or course, depends on what Hobbes actually is.
- Teacher's Pet: Or at least, an extremely committed student.
- Tsundere: Word of God says they 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.
I haven't seen Calvin for about 15 minutes now. That probably means he's getting in trouble.
- 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.
- Happily Married: Until Calvin strained the relationship. Word of God is that he didn't see the need to give Calvin loving parents.
- 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: Will turn into this if her husband goes too far in his teasing Calvin.
- No Name Given
- 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: 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
- 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.
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
The class bully who often takes Calvin's money. He's the only kid Calvin knows that 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.
Calvin's Good Side
Hobbes: The ethicator must've done some deep digging to extract
A duplicate Calvin made of himself, who only has Calvin's good qualities and none of his bad ones.
Calvin's uncle, on his father's side, who lives far enough away that he hardly ever sees Calvin and his family.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Essentially the reverse Rosalyn; he was intended to be a recurring character, but after the arc Watterson realized he didn't have much personality, didn't bring out anything new in Calvin, and also required some awkward writing to avoid having him call his brother and sister-in-law by their names.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Put on a Bus: Or rather, a plane.
Galaxoid and Nebular
Calvin's Alter Egos
There are several of these, due to Calvin's rampant imagination, including Wonga-Taa (King of Jungle) and an unnamed, enormous carnosaur known to science only as the Calvinosaur. The most common personae, however, have their own folders below.
Calvin as a superhero; pretty much an Expy
with the Large Ham
qualities turned Up to Eleven
- The Adjectival Superhero
- 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
- Expressive Mask: During his fantasy sequences.
- Failure Hero: Lampshaded when Hobbes asks if Stupendous Man has ever won a battle.
- Flying Brick
- Fun with Acronyms: "U" for Underwear, red!
- Unfortunately, despite his immense vocabulary, Calvin isn't good at actually spelling, so he never finishes the acronym.
- 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.
- Large Ham
- 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.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Subverted. Calvin thinks his hood and cape hide his identity, when they actually don't.
- Superheroes Wear Capes
- Super Strength: Such so that one strip, in a Shout-Out to the first Superman movie, has him reverse time by spinning the Earth backwards.
"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).
"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 McCoolname
- 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.
- Badass Longcoat
- Butt Monkey: Gets beaten up near the end of both of his arcs.
- 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
- The Faceless: Everybody except Tracer was like this in his strips.
- Family-Friendly Firearms: Averted.
- A Friend in Need: The ending of the second arc.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Both times he gets beaten up. His shooting the dame in the second arc.
- Hardboiled Detective
- Nice Hat: No special powers, but definitely appropriate. And hey, it helps protect him from rain! Score!
- Noir Episode
- Perpetual Frowner
- Private Eye Monologue
- 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
- 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
- Unwitting Pawn: The second arc.
- Would Shoot a Dame