A mainstream comic about parenting shown in many newspapers. Features the typical "nuclear family" set-up, but treats it with a much more realistic tone than most. Usually gag-a-day type four-panel strip with a few running jokes.Was made into an animated prime-time series that debuted on The WB, was canceled after 13 episodes, and wound up as a rerun on [adult swim].
A Boy a Girl and a Baby Family: Didn't start out that way, but unless Darryl and Wanda have a fourth baby, the family will have a boy (Hammie), a girl (Zoe), and a baby (Wren).
All Just a Dream: Zig-zagged in one story arc. Zoe and Hammie both want extravagant amounts of gifts for Christmas. Darryl then tells them how, when he was a kid, he wanted so badly to have a toy airplane for Christmas but tired of it within a day. Zoe and Hammie then dream that they receive a ridiculous amount of Christmas gifts, and upon finding themselves overwhelmed, try to get a letter to Santa (via toy airplane) asking for the excess gifts to be returned. Wanda compliments Darryl on the poignancy of his story on the airplane, which he admits he made up — just as a toy airplane is visible on the roof behind him.
Also inverted in one Sunday strip, in which Wanda wakes up in the middle of the night, screaming in terror from a dream in which she had no free time, a wreck of a house, terminally flabbly thighs and a pair of ungrateful kids. "It all seemed so real!"
Brick Joke: Wanda attempts to wean Hammie off the pacifier because she read a survey that babies if not weaned from them soon will be too attached to them. A much later strip has Hammie, no longer a baby, still sucking on his pacifier in secret.
Christmas Special: (Would this count if it's not on TV?) They always have a strip mentioning Christmas, but an actual story was made in 2006. The story's true start was actually in November, when Wanda mentions what Zoe and Hammie called "The Perfect Christmas," in which there would be no end to the presents Santa brings. Zoe and Hammie start to write their Christmas lists, when Zoe has a brilliant idea; Santa brings them every present in the world! When they do get all the presents in the world, they realize they've been greedy and decide to write another letter asking to return all the presents to Santa.
Class Clown: Zoe in first grade. Whether or not it was intentional it could be debated on, but everything she said either made the class laugh or give Mr. Doyle a headache. Or both.
Comic Book Time: Word Of God says that the strip goes at roughly a 2:1 time frame (i.e., Zoe is 10 after 20 years of being in the strip).
Keesha is a good example. Yolanda gave birth to her when Zoe was one year old, (they had a past strip that refers to Zoe as "a one year old") so Keesha would be a year younger than Zoe throughout the strip, right? Nope! When Zoe was about three, they stopped mentioning Keesha being younger, and when Zoe was about seven years old, Keesha was no longer shorter than Zoe. Over time, they made it easy to forget Keesha is a year younger, and even hint in present strips that Keesha is in Zoe's class.
On the other hand, many children's relative heights don't correspond with their relative ages and Zoe could have started school late.
Hammie: Can I watch TV while we eat? Wanda: No. Let's just have a conversation. Hammie: Okay. I'll have a conversation with Dad. Wanda: Perfect. Hammie: Hey dad. Wouldn't it be great if we could watch TV while we ate dinner?
When Hammie is first shown, his penis is barely visible. The authors lampshaded this in an anthology book.
One early gag involved Wanda squirting breast milk into Darryl's coffee. Jerry sketched out the strip as a joke on Rick, who got even by actually drawing and finishing it. They then decided to submit it as a joke on their editor, thinking that she'd laugh and ask them for a replacement — only to have it printed, as their regular editor was out that week.
Green Eyes: It's impossible to tell the character's eye color in the drawings, since the drawings just show their eyes as dots. But one strip mentions Zoe and Hammie have green eyes (see "Green-eyed Redhead").
I Ate What?: In the Easter 2012 Sunday Strip, Darryl is continuously asking Hammie, Zoe, and Wren if they are certain if they found all of the easter eggs in the area while trying to heavily hint at the egg on the porch lamp. The kids continuously attempt to insist that they have found every single one, before Hammie points out just as Darryl is about to eat the egg that the one on the porch light didn't count, as that was there since last year. Cue Darryl rushing inside to locate a restroom, presumably to vomit up the egg he just ate. It can be seen here.
Imaginary Friend: Zoe had Nadine (Not that Nadine), her "invisible friend," who wore polka-dots and pigtails and only ate cheese. Later, Nadine became Zoe's invisible sister. And Truth in Television, the idea for Zoe's imaginary friend was based on Rick Kirkman's daughter's imaginary friends, one of which was from Neptune.
I Take Offense to That Last One: One strip has Zoe walking Wren around the living room, saying things like "this is our pretty lamp" and "this is our comfy couch." When they pass Hammie, Zoe says "This is our gross, creepy, germy, wormy brother." In the next panel, Zoe is continuing to walk Wren around as Hammie shouts after her "Who are you calling creepy?"
The most common one is Rhonda, Wanda's little sister. Her parents are always complaining about how she doesn't have kids or a husband.
This only happened once, since Darryl and Wanda have three children now, but in an early strip Darryl and Wanda invited both sets of their parents to spend Christmas with them. In the middle of the night, Mac, Hugh, and Maggie are in a line waiting for Pauline to be finished rocking baby Zoe, and Pauline says to Darryl "This wouldn't happen if you had another baby."
Lethal Chef: One strip had Wanda asking Zoe to ask Darryl if he needed any help cooking dinner. Zoe then asks while Darryl was using a fire extinguisher on a burning pan while shouting repeatedly "OH NO!" Zoe misinterpreted it as him just saying "oh no" to her question.
Middle Child Syndrome: This happened to Hammie a couple of times. He is the middle child, but it only happened in circumstances where he is jealous of baby Wren.
Mistaken for Aliens: Darryl was mistaken for an alien once when Zoe and Hammie heard him walking around the house and thought it was "Two headed brain sucking alien burglars with ray guns."
Mr. Seahorse: Played with. When watching a nature DVD which (correctly) explains male seahorse anatomy, Wanda simplifies it by telling Zoe that the male seahorse basically has the baby. Wanda then offhandedly asks if male seahorses do household chores as well.
Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: After being handed down a pair of Zoe's pink monkey pajamas, Hammie draws on them to make them into pink vampire scorpion ninja monkeys.
Not so Above It All: In one strip, Darryl questions Butch how he and Bunny are always so perfect, when Darryl and Wanda always look like a wreck. He asks Butch, "How do you guys do it?" and Butch replies, "I was going to ask you the same thing."
Parental Abandonment: Spoofed in one strip as the family tries to find a kids movie to rent. "Do you have any family movies that have families in them?"
Wasn't That Fun?: A Running Gag with Hammie. More than once this trope was the final panel, after Hammie got himself into trouble, and back out of it with the help of Wanda or Darryl. One strip had him falling off of the backrest of a chair he was trying to reach the candy at the top of the fridge from, and after Wanda caught him he cheerfully cried, "Again!"
Water Guns and Balloons: A week-long storyline involved Zoe and Hammie competing against Darryl in a water fight with giant water guns.
Another strip had Darryl using squirt guns as a way to give the kids their anti-pinkeye drops without it turning into a battle.
Wildlife Commentary Spoof: Averted. One arc had Wanda, Darryl, and Zoe watching a Wildlife Documentary about a family of Meerkats, only to see the Meerkats eaten one by one by Hyenas, a snake, and even a hawk.
Worth It: When Daryl points out to Hammie (who has a water hose trained on an unsuspecting Zoe) that he's facing serious time out time if he goes through with squirting Zoe, Hammie considers this and declares it's worth it.
You Never Did That for Me: Though in most cases, it would be a sibling trope, this one happened comparing the children and their parents. Darryl's parents and Wanda's parents were invited for Christmas, and on Christmas day Darryl and Wanda look at their small number of presents as baby Zoe sits beside her large pile.
Darryl and Wanda: "Why didn't you give us that many presents when we were little?"