Comic Strip / Baby Blues
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. It also serves as a sister to Animaniacs, due to its similarity and personalities.
It was made into an animated prime-time series
on The WB
, but 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).
- Acquainted with Emergency Services: In one strip, Wanda and Darryl are rushing Zoe to the doctor after thinking she may have swallowed a battery. Wanda mentions how they were there just last week after Darryl stepped on Zoe's hand and says that if this continues, the staff will know them by name. Darryl dismisses this, but the next panel (focusing on the staff) shows she was right.
- Actually Pretty Funny: In one Sunday strip, Zoe avoided punishment for spilling a bag of flour on her head because Wanda was laughing too hard at the scene. In another weekly strip, Wanda sent Zoe and Hammie to their rooms for covering their faces in makeup... only to let them out once she had stopped laughing.
- Adult Fear: Zoe goes missing in a department store when Wanda looks away for one second. Thankfully she's found but Wanda (and later Darryl when he's told the story) are both in tears.
- Lampshaded by Jerry Scott in the 20th Anniversary book:
Jerry Scott: I can't read this series without getting sweaty palms.
- Afraid of Needles: Zoe and Hammie have both shown fear of getting a shot.
- When Zoe gets her first shot, Wanda was the one in tears rather than Zoe.
- Alliterative Name: Wanda's maiden name was Wanda Wizowski.
- All Girls Like Ponies: Zoe is the big example of this. She likes unicorns too.
- 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 flabby thighs and a pair of ungrateful kids. "It all seemed so real!"
- All Women Love Shoes: A one-week storyline involved Zoe practically falling in love with a pair of pink cowgirl boots.
- Animated Adaptation: It didn't last long.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Hammie and Wren to Zoe.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When asked what three things she would change about herself if she could, Wanda chooses her insecurity, her impatience and her hair.
- Art Evolution: The strip was much looser and more sketchy in the first few years, looking more like pencil work than inking. Over time, it became much more streamlined.
- Artifact Title: Zoe was always the primary focus, and she is no longer a baby. Even Hammie is grade-school age now.
- But Wren, the third child, was a baby, and is now a toddler. So new fans would probably assume Wren was the reason for the title.
- Babies Make Everything Better: It's even in the name, so of course Baby Blues has babies. Started with Zoe, and later Hammie and Wren. Somewhat subverted, in that while Darryl and Wanda are clearly happy having children, the strip doesn't shy away from how incredibly hard it is taking care of kids.
- Baby Talk: So far it's Wren, since she's now a toddler.
- Hammie used a little more Baby Talk than Zoe, which was mostly the third example mentioned by pronouncing "r" with "w" ("twuck")
- Zoe with similar baby talk to Hammie, but she usually pronounced more words correctly. Although, when she did use it, she mispronounced a lot of words like this example
- And there was a story (back when Zoe was a baby) with Darryl actually STUCK in Baby Talk.
- Baby Language: Used frequently in the series.
- Badass Adorable: Zoe and Wren.
- Bad Liar: Zoe in this example. Funny thing is, there is a similar strip which used the same joke, but was an old one.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: The plot of the Christmas story.
- Big Sister Bully: Zoe to Hammie sometimes. On more than one occasion, she's told Hammie stories mainly for the purpose of scaring him.
- Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...: The beginning of this strip.
- Blatant Lies: Much like an older comic strip... Darryl told Zoe that the sun is yellow because it's made of mustard. Wanda then tells Darryl that it takes her all week to un-teach her his "weekend teachings."
- Brand X: The MacPhersons' minivan is a model called the Oxymoron.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Zoe and/or Hammie on different occasions.
- 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.
- Brother–Sister Team: Zoe and Hammie. Sometimes they fight to the extreme, but other times they work together to drive their parents crazy. In the new comics, it's Hammie and Wren, but without the fighting.
- Bumbling Dad: Averted, as Darryl is shown as being fairly competent at parenting. He even changed a diaper in the men's room at the mall.
- Butt-Monkey: Hammie when Zoe kept pulling his teeth out.
- Cain and Abel: Zoe says the Halverson boys' Mom calls them Cain and Abel, due to their Big Ball of Violence.
- Censor Decoy: Done unintentionally as described in Getting Crap Past the Radar below.
- Christmas Special: 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 3:1 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.
- Comically Missing the Point:
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.
Hammie: Hey dad. Wouldn't it be great if we could watch TV while we ate dinner?
- Conjoined Eyes: Wanda
- Curious as a Monkey: Hammie on some occasions. And Zoe as a toddler.
- Curse Cut Short: This one
- Dead Guy Junior: Hammie was named after his great-great-grandfather, Hamish.
- Deep-Fried Whatever: More like fried in this example.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: The kids watch a show starring "Whistling Monkey Cowboys."
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Princess High N' Mighty Big Shot Told-You-So Boss of the World (or "Zoe.") is a parody of Dot's full name from Animaniacs.
- Family Versus Career: Rhonda's big dilemma, and the page image.
- Fear of Thunder: All three kids are scared by lightning.
- Fiery Redhead: Zoe is very spirited and precocious with a temper that Hammie has a knack for flaring up.
- First Snowflakes: In 2000, when Hammie was still a baby, Zoe taught him how to catch snowflakes on his tongue.
Zoe: (after Hammie cringes at the taste) "Nope, they only come in one flavor."
- Funetik Aksent: This was how Zoe, Hammie and Wren's baby-talk was represented.
- Gag Nose: Darryl.
- Gasshole: Hammie, who is mostly a belch variant. He still does belch jokes, but not a lot as he used to. He now does both burp jokes and fart jokes. Now, it's Wren (because she taught herself to produce loud belches), to the point where she belches like a man to impress her brother. The example can be seen here.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- 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 from off-panel ("Bulls-eye!"). 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. Predictably, it's one of the more popular strips.
- This strip. Calvin and Hobbes did it first.
- Getting the Baby to Sleep: Zoe has often been the subject of this, even as she's gotten older. Her numerous attempts to stall bedtime include tying her shoelaces into large knots, refusing to go to sleep until she had all her stuffed animals with her, and even literally latching onto Darryl's face while she was kissing him goodnight.
- Girlish Pigtails: Zoe's hair in preschool. And Wanda's hair as a kid.
- Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Present-day Zoe might not care for them anymore, but there was once a week-long story line where Zoe used her toys in an attempt to stall bedtime. And boy did she have a lot of them!
- 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").
- Hypocritical Humor: Back when Wanda was still nursing Hammie, two different strips had a similar punchline relating to this. In one instance, a male passenger sitting next to Wanda on an airplane protested to her feeding Hammie in public, calling it "disgusting"... while he's clearly looking at a Playboy centerfold. In another series, a male lifeguard tried to kick Wanda out of a public pool, claiming her breastfeeding Hammie violated decency standards... only to stop mid-sentence in order to ogle at a nearby woman in a barely-there bikini.
- 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.
- There have been a few strips where this joke was the punchline, more often than not involving Darryl. One strip had him eating French Fries at a fast-food joint, only to find out Zoe had been getting them from under the table. In another, Darryl takes a bite of a then-toddler Zoe's toast, only to spit it out when Wanda says to Zoe "You usually stop after you lick all the peanut butter off!"
- 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.
- Invisible to Adults: Played backwards and forwards in this series. Instead of the kids, it's the Mac Phersons that can see things that the other adults can't see, since it is told by the family's perspective. Since it's ONLY the Mac Phersons who can see their children (except Wren) as animals or creatures, the adults (sometimes children) rarely see Zoe (mostly) or Hammie in unusual form. An example is this comic: 
- Invisible to Normals: ONLY Wanda and Darryl can see their children's (as babies) reactions, the weird and unusual things they do and the children as animals. Even the bugs, but much bigger.
- 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?"
- I Want Grandkids: Two examples actually:
- 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 and feeding baby Zoe, and Pauline says to Darryl "This wouldn't happen if you had another baby."
- Kids Prefer Boxes: This strip as well as this one.
- Another example was a Sunday strip when Zoe was a toddler; Darryl had attempted to get Zoe to play with all her new Christmas toys, but Zoe ended up having a blast with two toilet paper rolls and a wooden spoon.
- Large Ham Announcer: Zoe, for a lot of examples. Here's an old one.
- Last-Minute Baby Naming: Baby Wren was named after she was born; Wanda came up with the name when a bird smacked into the window while she was eating breakfast. Hammie, Keesha, and Bunny's twins (Wendell Jon and Wendell John) weren't named until after they were brought home; in the case of the latter, Bunny initially identified them as "Puce" and "Teal," based on the colors of their hospital wristbands.
- 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.
- Let's Have Another Baby: Wanda swings in and out of this one all the time.
- Mama Bear: Wanda; not just to her own kids, but kids in general. In different strips, she's snapped at another mom who yanked on her little boy's arm too hard, berated a woman for smoking while pregnant (by apparently "stubbing out her cigarette and sticking it in her ear"), and in one week-long story, came to the rescue of a little boy whose mom had lost her temper and started hitting him in the grocery store.
- 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.
- Name's the Same: Played for drama; when Zoe was in preschool, she was the target of a bully she knew only as "The Golden-Haired Girl." As it turns out, The Golden-Haired Girl's real name was also Zoe, to Wanda's horror.
- Nightmare Fuel: This strip is an in-universe example.
- 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."
- Oh, Crap!: When Zoe goes missing in a department store, a frantic Wanda asks a clerk for help. The clerk's attempt at reassuring Wanda doesn't have the desired effect.
Clerk: Don't worry, ma'am. This happens all the time. If she's still in the building, we'll find her.
- Overprotective Dad: Darryl, especially toward Zoe. One set of strips had Darryl freaking out because Zoe had developed a crush on an "older man." Zoe was two at the time; the "older man" was a three-year-old.
- Paranoia Gambit: In one Sunday strip, Zoe goes to take a shower and warns Hammie not to try and scare her. In fact, just to make sure, she announces that she intends to lock the door. Hammie says, "Good," which convinces Zoe he must have rigged the doorknob somehow. She announces she won't touch it to prevent his trick from working, but then realizes that means he can come in and scare her like always.
Hammie: Don't you think it's cool when I can drive Zoe crazy by not doing anything at all?
- 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?"
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Zoe's a master at these. Darryl falls for it every single time (he refers to them as "Bambi Eyes" in one strip).
- Punny Name: Hammie's name is sometimes used as a pun for "ham," the food, and Wren was actually named after a bird that smacked into the window.
- Reverse Psychology Backfire: This strip.
- Road Trip Across the Street: One strip has Zoe and Hammie getting excited about going out to get the mail... and climbing in the van to do so.
- Screaming Plane Baby: Played straight during Darryl and Wanda's first trip to visit the latter's parents with Zoe. Wanda's method of apologizing for this was to stand up and shout "HEY! Count your blessings! I COULD have had TWINS!" Subverted when Wanda took Hammie with her to visit her father after his heart attack; the only fuss he caused was spilling Wanda's drink.
- Secret Keeper: Zoe for Hammie's pacifier (see Security Blanket below) and when Hammie swore.
- Security Blanket: When Zoe was a baby, she had Boo-Boo Bankie.
- Hammie slept with toy trucks, and then a pacifier. Which he still has.
- With Wren, it's her stuffed teddy bear.
- Shout-Out: One of the crocodiles from Pearls Before Swine appears on a box of cereal. Most likely a reference to Pearls featuring a Baby Blues-centric storyline around the same time.
- After a Pearls Before Swine storyline about the characters babysitting the Baby Blues kids finished up, one Baby Blues strip afterwards featured one of the kids chewing on one of the crocodiles.
- The fact that the series is similar to Animaniacs, but with more adult jokes. Even the characters are parodies of the characters in the series. For example, Zoe is a parody of Yakko Warner, Hammie is a parody of Wakko Warner, Wren is a parody of Dot Warner, etc.
- Sibling Rivalry: A lot of it.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Shortly after Hammie was born, Wanda noted that he acted completely differently from Zoe when she was that age. Namely, while Zoe had colic and didn't sleep much, Hammie was much calmer and slept for most of the day.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Darryl does a lot of swearing, particularly when frustrated or after injuring himself.
- Something Blues
- Souvenir Land: Whistling Cowboy Monkey Land.
- So What Do We Do Now?: The first strip began this way.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Hammie's name has been spelled "Hammy" and Zoe's name has been spelled "Zoey." And these are adult fans. And the names are SPELLED in the strip on a regular basis.
- Spiky Hair: Hammie, even on the strip where he was born.
- Symbol Swearing: Used frequently by Darryl. When being asked if he "swears" to be on his best behavior at his in-laws', his response is, "Oh, [grawlix], we're here!" Also a Stealth Pun on his part.
- Tagalong Kid: Hammie as Prince Bobo
- The Ghost: Zoe had a crush on Bryan Barge, who has never been seen or heard of in the strip. Unless he's Bryan the Dinosaur.
- The Quiet One: Wren. Darryl's dad, Mac, was described as this in his first appearance, with Darryl and Wanda surprised that he was willing to greet them with a "H'lo" when he and his wife came for a visit. Being able to dote on his grandchildren seemed to help him come out of his shell. In the TV series, Mac was completely silent, but he did open up his mouth sometimes. Now, he's completely silent and sometimes talks.
- The Swear Jar: Darryl having to put money into the Swearing Jar numerous times.
- Theme Twin Naming: Bunny's twin boys are Wendell John and Wendell Jon.
- Tinkle in the Eye: Provider of the page quote.
- Toilet Humor: Many, many jokes about dirty diapers, burping and farting. Somewhat justified, as babies do (a lot of!) that.
- Too Dumb to Live: Hammie. Ever since he turned about six, and stayed that way for a few years, he's been performing dangerous stunts nearly every time he appears! Wanda even told him once the many things that could go wrong and he acted like they were reasons to go along with it!
- 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.
- We Didn't Start the Billy Joel Parodies: An early Sunday strip has "We Didn't Start Out Tired".
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Because they were expecting a girl, it took Darryl and Wanda some time to find a name for their son until they finally decided on Hamish (Ham for short), after one of Darryl's relatives. It took a few family members some time to get used to the name; Wanda's mother burst out laughing when she was told, and Rhonda declared "Ham? That's not a name... it's an entree!"
- Darryl and Wanda also had this reaction to the names of Butch and Bunny's kids: Bogart (who got his name because his parents watched "The African Queen" the night he was conceived), and twins Wendell John and Wendell Jon (who were originally called "Puce" and "Teal," based on their hospital wristband colors).
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Despite becoming more tolerant of gross things since having kids, medical procedures in general (such as surgery or shots) make Darryl squeamish. When Wren (as a toddler) had to get tubes in her ears, just hearing the word "surgery" caused Darryl to faint; he also fainted when Zoe's umbilical cord fell out. Wanda fainted one time when she saw how big the tick in Hammie's hair was, due to her overactive imagination.
- 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 Darryl 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.
- Written Roar: "AIEEEEEEEE!" is very common.
- X-Ray Sparks: In one strip, Hammie does it to his older sister.
- You Didn't Ask: This can happen sometimes. Here's one of them from when Hammie was being potty-trained. and a later one with Zoe and Hammie on a walk with Darryl and Wren.
- 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?"
All grandparents: "We didn't want to spoil you."
- Youthful Freckles: Hammie.