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Comic Strip: Dennis the Menace (US)
Dennis and his dog, Ruff.

Dennis the Menace is a long-running newspaper comic created by Hank Ketcham that first appeared in March 1951. It features the adventures of mischievous blond boy Dennis Mitchell, often at the expense of his parents or of his neighbor, Mr. Wilson.

It has inspired a live-action series, an animated Saturday Morning Series, and a few a live-action films.

Dennis was also the mascot of Dairy Queen from 1971 to 2001. DQ dropped him because they felt children didn't relate to him anymore.

Dennis had his own comic book series for a time. In them, Dennis was depicted as just a normal small boy, realistically thoughtless and reckless for his age. His status as a "menace" was entirely due to the unforeseen consequences of his adventures and Dennis was usually responsible and mature enough to own up when he realised he'd done something wrong.

In the comic books, Dennis was occasionally the victim of his own menacing, such as the time his father accidentally gives him $10 instead of $1 (in the 1960's when money was worth a lot more) to buy food at a food fair and Dennis spends it all. Two words: Stomach Ache!

In Britain, the Cartoon and Film based on the Comic Book is simply called Dennis! due to the character mentioned below.

Not to be confused with the British comic book character also called Dennis the Menace, which is a completely different and unrelated strip which also coincidentally debuted in March of 1951.


The comic strip provides examples of:

  • The All-American Boy: Despite the name, Dennis is a pretty good example of this trope.
  • Animal Athlete Loophole: There ain't no rule that says a dog can't play football! There is, however, a rule that says plays cannot be made with a player's mouth, so sadly Ruff is disqualified.
  • Balloon-Bursting Bird: A variation happened in one episode of the animated series. Mr. Wilson parachutes from a plane, but a bird pecks at his parachute - leading to a long drop.
    • It happened again in another cartoon episode when Dennis gets accidentally caught up in a hot-air balloon race. A flock of birds burst one of the hot-air balloons.
  • Black Bead Eyes
  • Brats with Slingshots: Trope Codifier.
  • Broken Glass Penalty: Dennis and his friends frequently do this to the Wilson house.
  • Catapult Nightmare: In the June 10th 2012 comic, Dennis has a nightmare where his father, Mr. Wilson and his dog Ruff have all been sentenced by his mother to sitting in the Corner of Shame with him.
  • Competition Coupon Madness: In the comic book story "Dennis vs. Television", Dennis collects cereal box tops without actually buying the cereal, hoping to win a big prize.
  • Cranky Neighbor: Mr. Wilson — to be fair, you'd be cranky too if Dennis was your neighbor.
  • Curious as a Monkey: Dennis
  • Depending on the Artist: The current two artists have very different styles. Marcus Hamilton, the Monday—Saturday artist, draws the strip in a very close approximation of Hank Ketcham's style in his later years, while Sunday artist Ron Ferdinand has a far looser and sketchier style compared to Ketcham or Hamilton.
  • Doting Grandparent: Grampa Johnson, Dennis's maternal grandfather.
  • Drop-In Character: Dennis, to the Wilsons. Mrs. Wilson doesn't object to this, but her husband certainly does.
  • Franchise Zombie: Since Hank Ketcham handed the strip off to his successors, it has lost most of what made it unique, and has pretty much degenerated into Dennis making inoffensively cute remarks, much like The Family Circus. The Comic Strip Doctor did a whole column on the strip's descent into lameness.
  • Girls Have Cooties
  • Grumpy Old Man: Mr. Wilson again, and for the same reason.
    • However, it's implied that he likes Dennis more than he is willing to let on.
  • Hates Baths: Dennis
  • Informed Ability
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Dennis has one with Mrs. Wilson. He thinks he has one with Mr. Wilson.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Dennis always wears either his striped shirt and red overalls, except in church scenes where he's seen with a white button-down shirt, a tie, and a blue jacket and slacks.
  • Love Triangle: Dennis, Gina and Margaret
  • Menace Decay (the Trope Namer)
  • Nephewism: Inverted — Dennis treats the Wilsons like his grandparents.
  • One Head Taller: In some installments of the comic strip Margaret has been drawn as noticeably taller than Dennis or Joey, even in flats.
  • Panty Shot: Margaret had a couple of these early on.
  • Print Long Runners: Six decades and counting.
  • Regal Ringlets: Margaret has this hairstyle.
  • Retraux: The strip retains a 1950s drawing style, despite always being set in the present day.
  • Shout-Out: The character Gina was named after Gina Lollobrigida (the character's Italian ancestry is also a reference to her).
  • Soap Punishment: In one strip, Dennis comes outside, with bubbles coming out of his mouth, and he tells his friend that he was "right about that word."
  • Time Out
  • Tomboy: Gina Gilloti (who was IS actually quite a cutie).
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Gina and Margaret.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Without a doubt, pizza ... to the point where (he thinks) he practically can live on it. On the exact opposite of the spectrum: vegetables, especially when they were served as part of a meal that had no pizza in sight. Especially carrots at any time.
    • In the comic books, it was ice cream.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Henry and Alice. Once Dennis referred to this situation:
    Dennis (to Henry): How come everybody says you were lucky to marry Mom and nobody says she was lucky to marry you?
  • Uncle Tomfoolery / Ethnic Scrappy: An African-American kid named Jackson.note 


DeflockedNewspaper ComicsDick Tracy
Dawson's CreekCreator/Columbia PicturesDesigning Women
Archive PanicPrint Long RunnersDetective Comics
Treehouse of FunImageSource/Comic StripsCranky Neighbor
Rasmus KlumpThe FiftiesMarmaduke

alternative title(s): Dennis The Menace US
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