"To take a blank piece of paper and draw characters that people love and worry about is extremely satisfying. It really does not matter what you are called, or where your work is placed, as long as it brings some kind of joy to some person some place."
— Charles M. Schulz
Charles M. Schulz, the only child of a St. Paul, Minnesota barber, wrote and drew Peanuts for 49 years, 3 months and 1 day (1950-2000). The stars of the strip are a boy named Charlie Brown, whom Schulz named for a fellow instructor at the Art School of Minneapolis, and his dog Snoopy.The strip originated as Li'l Folks, a feature Schulz drew for his hometown newspaper. The strip's cast grew as time went on - well, sort of; consensus is their age topped out at about 6 (Linus and Sally) to 8 (Charlie Brown, Lucy et al.) - but adults were always conspicuous by their absence, famously represented by unintelligible offscreen 'wah-whah' noises in the TV specials. (This was originally due to the editor's restrictions on the strip: to fit the kids in at a decent size in the small panels, he put the "camera" at their height and did away with anyone taller.)When the kids aren't in school, they're usually playing baseball or having amazingly sophisticated intellectual conversations while leaning on a brick wall. Over the years, the strip became famous for its psychological realism, bordering on an all-out satire of more typically sentimental kiddie comics, though it arguably took a turn away from the philosophical toward more direct comedy relatively early in its run (around 1970). Charlie Brown developed from a standard 'lovable loser' into a sensitive and intelligent Everyman, whose relentless track record of failure meant he struggled perpetually with the Really Big Questions. Alternately aiding and exasperating him in his quest were his best friend Linus, a philosopher who sucked his thumb and carried a security blanket, and Linus' big sister Lucy, a bossy, brassy self-described 'fussbudget' who already knew what the universe's problem was: It never asked her what to do.Supporting cast included Charlie's little sister Sally, a ditz-in-embryo whose literal streak was only equalled by her crush on an appalled Linus; Schroeder, a handsome neighbor boy who - much to Lucy's chagrin - lived only to play Beethoven on his toy piano (with painted-on black keys), and Franklin, the smart black kid who quietly integrated the strip in the late 1960s. 'Peppermint' Patty, the tough tomboy from across town, and Marcie, her meek bespectacled acolyte, were frequent visitors.One unique character, The Little Red-Haired Girl, was never seen and never heard (except in certain TV specials, but as Schulz made very clear, those don't count). She was Charlie Brown's Ideal, and thus in a sense everyone's, so Schulz wisely let each of those readers envision her for themselves.Then there was Snoopy, beagle extraordinaire. Nominally Charlie Brown's pet, he actually lived in an incredibly rich world of his own imagination, acknowledging the existence of 'that round-headed kid' only when hungry. Over the years Snoopy would invent literally dozens of alternate personae, the most famous of which is the WWI Flying Ace, perpetually locked in combat with the Red Baron. Attending and often abetting Snoopy in his fantasies was his little yellow bird buddy Woodstock, who took to hanging out at the doghouse while he failed to get the knack of the whole 'migrating' deal.The strip spawned about 50 animated TV specials over 40 years (starting with A Charlie Brown Christmas and continuing through installments such as It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown; It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown; and so on, ending with He's a Bully, Charlie Brown), as well as four feature films (A Boy Named Charlie Brown; Snoopy Come Home; Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown; and Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!)), a Saturday Morning Cartoon series (The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show), not one but two stage musicals (You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Snoopy!!!), a few direct-to-video movies, and an eight-episode Mini Series (This Is America, Charlie Brown). The Peanuts characters also appeared in TV commercials for the Ford Motor Company, Cheerios and Chex cereals, Dolly Madison snack cakes, a few regional brands of bread and Met Life Insurance, and believe it or not, aVideo Gameseries. Since Schulz's death (the night before his final strip was published), the comic has kept a place in many newspapers by way of reruns. Specials occasionally keep being produced, such as a series of Flash shorts in 2009, the hand-drawn Happiness Is A Warm Blanket Charlie Brown in 2011, and an upcoming anime adaptation by Madhouse.As of 2011, Boom! Studios produced a few comics books of the series (part of the KaBOOM! Comics line) with both new content as well as old strips.The complete Peanuts comic strip archive can be viewed at GoComics.com. See also the official Peanuts web site.Blue Sky Studiosis slated to bring the gang back to the big screen in 2015 with a CGI film after a 35 year hiatus. Paul Feig will produce and oversee the film. Here's the first teaser.
During the arc in which Charlie is seriously ill in the hospital (see under Littlest Cancer Patient below), Lucy vows that if he recovers she'll let him kick the ball for real. Come time to make good, she indeed doesn't pull the football away... but in true Charlie Brown fashion, he kicks her arm instead.
In the very last football strip, Lucy is called in for lunch and entrusts the ball to Rerun, who goes outside and enacts the ritual off-stage. When Lucy later asked him whether he pulled it away, the answer is: "You'll never know..."
Also, Snoopy never shoots down the Red Baron, Linus never sees the Great Pumpkin rise from the pumpkin patch, all the love is unrequited, etc...
Lucy and her "Psychiatric Help 5 Cents" booth (a parody of a lemonade stand). Charlie Brown went through a lot of nickels.
Franklin: Are you a real psychiatrist?
Lucy: Was the lemonade ever any good?
Charlie Brown's unrequited admiration of the Little Red-Haired Girl...well, not exactly unrequited, as on no recorded occasion did he get himself under enough control to speak to her in the first place.note In the 1967 TV special You're In Love, Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown accidentally confesses his love for her — in front of his entire class. Later, he finds a note pinned on him from the Little Red-Haired Girl herself, where she confesses she also likes him a lot. However, as noted above, Charles Schulz considered this Canon Discontinuity.
Various attempts to separate Linus and his blanket, by either Lucy or his "blanket-hating grandmother."
Or a certain beagle.
Sally's...creative...school reports: "Butterflies are free. What does this mean? This means you can have as many of them as you want."
Sally: So much for higher thought.
Lucy leaning on Schroeder's piano, trying to get his attention. Or sometimes Snoopy and/or Woodstock playing around with the notes coming from the piano.
Peppermint Patty in class, trying and failing hopelessly to figure out what's going on. This sometimes extends to her misunderstanding some concept so completely, and ignoring all rational warnings from Marcie, that she would find herself publicly humiliated.
For a long time, she didn't realize that Snoopy was a dog and just called him "The funny looking kid with the big nose."
Aborted Arc: Frieda's cat Faron only appeared for a few strips before Schulz realized that since Snoopy didn't speak in words, the only way to have him interact with Faron would be to have them think at each other. (Also, by his own admission, Schulz looked at his drawings of Faron and realized uncomfortably that he couldn't draw cats very well.) When he got rid of the cat, his only regret was naming it after Faron Young, his favorite country singer. In the 1970s, Schulz would introduce the unseen, unnamed "The Cat Next Door", and was much more pleased with the results.
What had been intended as a lengthy — possibly months-long — arc with Linus and Lucy's family moving away came to a very sudden end because fans objected.
Accidental Athlete: Discussed Trope. One strip has Charlie Brown recounting his fantasy of catching a wild foul ball while watching a baseball game, prompting the manager to declare, "Sign that kid up!" Linus responds that many millions of other kids have had the exact same daydream.
The Ace: Peppermint Patty was introduced as baseball phenom who manages five home runs in her first game, after offering her services to Charlie Brown's team. But she quickly became a Small Name, Big Ego with subsequent appearances.
Acid Reflux Nightmare: The special What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown is all about one of these suffered by Snoopy.
There was one animated special, Snoopy's Reunion, where there are not only adults seen, they can be heard. It's the one where Charlie Brown gets Snoopy for the first time. We see the puppy farm owner and he even talks.
Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown! had a couple of adult characters who appeared on camera and spoke normally: the cab driver who took Snoopy to Wimbledon, and the teacher at the French school.
There is also a London waiter who speaks in a thick Cockney accent that the kids can't comprehend, and Violette's uncle, "The Baron," who speaks normally but appears only in silhouette.
And more background adults (or possibly teenagers) at the club in Flashbeagle.
Adults are heard, but not seen, in She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown, but that's due to the storyline requiring intelligible adults for once (most notably, the rink announcer).
The adults in This Is America, Charlie Brown. They were everywhere; again, this was needed for the concept - a look at famous American historical events, inventions, and music - to work, plugging in the kids as a Commedia Dell Arte Troupe of sorts.
There's also the live-action title character in It's the Girl in the Red Truck, Charlie Brown (played, incidentally, by Charles Schulz's daughter, Jill).
Occasionally in the first decade or so of the strip, there was offstage dialogue from parents - usually Linus and Lucy's - but only once did Schulz even try to draw adults, in a handful of Sunday strips in 1954. Even then it's distant crowd and overhead shots (as part of a storyline involving Lucy participating in a golf tournament). Notably, those four Sunday strips were never reprinted in any Peanuts collection until Fantagraphics put out the 1953-1954 edition of The Complete Peanuts.
The strips where Rerun was carried along with his mom when she went bike riding showed her, though admittedly they only showed her back, and she never said anything.
Charlie Brown does go to his father's barber shop and comments on how great his father is for showing him affection.
Violet always took unseemly pride in comparing her father's accomplishments with those of the other kids'.
Off-screen, there had to be a whole townful of adults giving Halloween trick-or-treaters treats, and rocks to Charlie Brown.
Adult Fear: One '70s storyline involved Peppermint Patty's house being robbed while her dad was out of town. Also, Charlie Brown frequently worries for Snoopy when the dog goes off on his own with no real idea where he's supposed to be going.
All Love Is Unrequited: Lucy's unrequited crush on Schroeder, Sally's unrequited crush on Linus, Linus's unrequited crush on Miss Othmar, Charlie Brown's unrequited crush on the Little Red-Haired Girl, Peppermint Patty's and Marcie's unrequited crush on Charlie Brown...
Alpha Bitch: Violet and Patty had traits of this trope in the early years. But the reigning champ is Lucy.
Aluminum Christmas Trees: Besides the trope naming artifacts in A Charlie Brown Christmas, there's an early strip where Lucy tries to make Schroeder jealous by claiming she prefers more modern music and Snoopy comes in with an accordion to play "polkas, schottisches and waltzes." At the time this was a straight reference, while in reprints it looks as though it's a gag on how Lucy and/or Snoopy are out of touch.
The character José Peterson represented a Melting Pot Nomenclature joke at the time, as the idea of someone with a Swedish father and Mexican mother seemed like a bizarrely unlikely combination - it wouldn't be seen as that remarkable in the modern US.
And This Is for...: In Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown, when Linus is unable to give his candy to Miss Othmar because she left with her boyfriend, he feels so upset that he goes up onto a bridge and starts throwing off the candies one by one (Snoopy and Woodstock both catch the candies in their mouths and eat them). As he throws each piece of candy off the bridge, he says things that start with this trope:
Linus: This one is for love! And this one is for Valentine's! This one is for romance! This one is for Elizabeth Barrett Browning! This is for "How do I love thee!" This is for...
Lucy: I got it! We'll demand full-page ads in every newspaper!
Linus: We'll start a chain of Beethoven superstores!
Sally: We'll build a Beethoven theme park!
Charlie Brown: We can have a BAKE SALE!
Art Evolution: The earliest strips have much cleaner, more three dimensional artwork...which admittedly, looks really weird compared to the later strips we've all grown up with.
And then in the final years, the art became scratchy and squiggly due to Schulz's decreasing motor skills.
Artistic License - History: An in-universe example occurs in Snoopy!!! The Musical, in the song "Edgar Allan Poe". Everything Charlie Brown says about Poe is utterly incorrect. Linus gets almost everything right, only he inexplicably spells the man's middle name wrong— it's "Allan", with two As.
Numerous school reports by Peppermint Patty and Sally. Here are some of them:
Peppermint Patty: This is my report on Washington, D.C. "D.C." stands for Doctor. Dr. Washington was an ophthalmologist. His best friend was named Bunker Hill. One day on the battlefield Dr. Washington looked at Bunker Hill and said, "There's something wrong with the whites of your eyes!" As a reward for saving his friend's vision, the people voted to make Dr. Washington their coach.
Sally: Britain was invaded in the year 43 by Roman Numerals.
Sally: Abraham Lincoln was our sixteenth king and he was the father of Lot's wife.
Sally: This is my report on Columbus Day. Columbus Day was a very brave man. He wanted to sail around the world. "I can give you three ships, Mr. Day," said the Queen.
Aside Glance: Occasionally a character will give one of these to the reader.
Asleep in Class: Peppermint Patty is always falling asleep in class. Marcie, who sits behind her, will either try to wake her up or play tricks on her while Peppermint Patty is asleep.
Marcie herself has fallen asleep in class on a few occasions. In one instance, she had to get up early to be at her school patrol post on time, but fell asleep at her classroom desk.
As the Good Book Says: Linus is frequently given to quoting Scripture. Sometimes other characters also do it.
In one strip Sally asks Charlie what all the "John 3:16" signs people are holding up at a football game mean. When he tells her about the reference she says, "Oh. I always thought it was a reference to John Madden."
Another strip had a baseball game devolving into a extended discussion on the book of Job, with each character offering up interpretations that fit with their personality.
Author Avatar: Charlie Brown, apparently, to at least a certain extent.
Actually, all the characters to a certain extent. Charlie Brown was the main one, but Schroeder is another good candidate because of his devotion to art. As for the others, Schulz once said that Linus was based on the "weird thoughts" he had from time to time, Lucy was based on his selfishness, and Snoopy was based on the happier and more romantic side of his personality.
Awesomeness Induced Amnesia: The special It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown has Charlie Brown giving the Little Red-Haired Girl the customary kiss... and after a state of euphoria, he wakes up in bed the next morning with no memory of what happened after. Linus tells him later that he was the life of the homecoming dance, which Charlie can't recall.
Linus and Lucy are practically the sibling Trope Codifier, as perhaps best illustrated in the strip where Linus encourages a gloomy Lucy to count her blessings. When she demands to know what blessings he thinks she has, he replies, "Well, for one thing, you have a little brother who loves you." She stares at him for a beat panel, then hugs him and bursts into tears.
This goes for the whole gang. If something happens to Charlie Brown, Lucy's a nervous wreck. If something happens to Lucy, it's Schroeder who suffers. And, though Snoopy drives the kids up the wall, everyone is sad when he's not around. Schulz himself probably said it best:
"I think all the characters in the strip are really very fond of each other, but they are also very hard on each other."
One series of strips had Charlie Brown sent to the hospital for unknown reasons and Lucy was a complete nervous wreck the whole time, so much so that she actually swore that she'd let Chuck kick the football the next time around. And she actually did. Partly due to Linus's telling her that you can't break a promise you've made to a sick person, but nonetheless. Unfortunately, Charlie Brown fails to actually hit the ball and accidentally kicks Lucy in hand so hard that she ends up needing a cast for it.
Linus, upon being referred to as Sally's 'Sweet Babboo'. Also, when a bully makes fun of a bald girl after he takes her hat (she has leukemia), he flips out and whips the bully into submission with his blanket.
Some others include: suggesting Linus should get rid of his security blanket; calling Snoopy "Banana Nose"; insulting Beethoven in front of Schroeder.
Big "NO!": Whenever any of the gang is really frustrated, they are prone to scream, "AAUUGH!"
Bigger on the Inside: Snoopy's doghouse. Its interior was never shown (except in the cartoon where it appears to be an Elaborate Underground Base), but we know it contains a Van Gogh painting (later replaced with an Andrew Wyeth after the doghouse burned down and was rebuilt), a pool table, a bridge room, a swimming pool, a postage meter, etc...
Black Comedy: No, there's no death, but laughing at the pathetic tragedy of Charlie's life is still Black Comedy.
Taken to the furthest extent in the play Dog Sees God, which is a story of a teenage Charlie Brown and his friends.
Blind Without 'Em: Marcie was once told by Peppermint Patty that she would look more sophisticated with her glasses up on her forehead, resulting in her bumping into walls, a lamppost, etc. Marcie noted that "Before I became sophisticated, I almost never had headaches."
Averted with Linus, who occasionally donned glasses for a time in the early '60s but seemed to see all right without them, and eventually discarded them entirely.
Blunder Correcting Impulse: In this Peanutsstrip. Linus has taken over for Charlie Brown as the pitcher for their baseball team. When Charlie Brown sees that Linus is trying to pitch while wearing his blanket over his head, he comes out and takes over the pitching again.
Made even more confusing when there actually is a song called "Charlie Brown Theme" out there, and a few of the specials actually used it. "Linus and Lucy"'s Ear Worm powers are so mighty that they can just usurp the name.
Bowdlerise: Yes, not even Peanuts were immune to censorship. At least on the television, and namely It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown. Twice during the story's central football game, Lucy pulls the ball away from Charlie Brown, as per the usual, causing the play to fail...and Peppermint Patty blames CB in both of these instances. Viewers protested because it was Lucy's fault, so future airings and releases of the special to this day censor those two instances (but miss others!) of PP's blame. This, however, could add Nightmare Fuel to the special because the "offending" lines were backmasked. Incidentally, you can hear the original lines here and here.
Brick Joke: The first strip about kicking the football had Violet (not Lucy) moving the ball because she was afraid Charlie would kick her arm. Decades later, Lucy promises to let Charlie kick the football if he got out of the hospital. When he does, he misses and kicks Lucy's arm.
Breakout Character: Snoopy, in the mid-'60s. There's a reason the official name of their website was "snoopy.com" for much of the internet era.
Break the Cutie: Poor Charlie Brown can barely go a day without being miserable.
Break the Haughty: Sometimes Charlie Brown will get a few small victories, making him cocky, only to fail due to his overconfidence.
Bubble Pipe: Snoopy uses one of these in a special where he's playing a detective trying to find Woodstock's nest.
Call Back: One arc in the late 90s has Rerun patting birds on the head, much to the annoyance of Lucy, who comments how Linus did the same thing back in the 60s in a similar arc.
Cannot Spit It Out: Linus once told one of the gang about how he'd met a really nice girl who he liked a lot, and he'd wanted to say something to her to introduce himself, but he couldn't really find the words. His solution? "So I hit her."
Canon Discontinuity: Provoked by the appearance of the Little Red-Haired Girl, Schulz firmly insisted that the animated specials "don't count."
Similarly, the existence of Charlotte Braun was denied until the '00s, when Schulz's estate FINALLY agreed to reprint the strips in which the character appeared.
Cash Lure: According to a strip from 1985, this is Spike's favorite April Fools' Day joke, with a purse on a string. Because he's in the desert, however, no victims come by.
Spike: I'll wait for ten more hours, but then that's it.
Catchphrase: "Good grief!" "You blockhead!" "AUUGHH!" "I just can't stand it!" "Rats!" "I don't even know what's going on!" "Stop calling me 'Sir'!" and Snoopy's intro to each new fantasy: "Here's the World-Famous [insert persona here]..."
And in the early years, "We're having a party, Charlie Brown, and you're not invited!"
Also in the early years, Lucy's "I'll probably never get married" (after failing to get Schroeder's attention).
Peppermint Patty's "You kind of like me, don't you, Chuck?"
And "I hate talking to you, Chuck!" when she's talking with Charlie Brown and he doesn't tell her what she wants to hear.
"Isn't he the cutest thing?" - Sally's usual response to the above as well as other attempts to resist her advances
"Why can't I have a normal dog like everyone else?"
One series of summer-camp strips has Charlie Brown attempting to befriend a kid who's always depicted with his face turned toward the wall, and who never says anything other than, "Shut up and leave me alone!"
Cats Are Mean: The cat who lives next door, known as "World War II", has been known to slice vast chunks out of Snoopy's doghouse and beat up Snoopy and Peppermint Patty simultaneously - always off-panel. Though to be fair, a lot of the time Snoopy provokes the cat.
Christmas Creep: They joked about this concept a lot. The Halloween-Thanksgiving period was the usual victim of the creep, but in the special It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown, an entire scene takes place in a Christmas display when the gang go to buy eggs.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Many. Shermy, Charlotte Braun, Frieda, Eudora, and 5, to name a few. And there's also Violet and Patty, who were both there from the first year, but were Demoted to Extra sometime in the '70s, only appearing in crowd scenes or as generic kids. Schulz admitted himself that many of these were deliberate; he'd just run out of interesting material for some of the kids.
Clumsy Copyright Censorship: There were a few product placements for Coca-Cola in A Charlie Brown Christmas. While a scene where the kids throw snowballs at Coca-Cola cans was subsequently reanimated to have non-descript cans instead, the credits end right before the kids finish singing "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" because an announcer chimed in at that point to plug the soda, and the opening ends up getting a case of What Happened to the Mouse? as Linus landed on a Coca-Cola sign after being flung along with Charlie Brown by Snoopy.
The Coconut Effect: The characters were originally voiced in the animated specials by actual kids - young kids who couldn't even read well and so had to learn their lines phonetically and recite them one line at a time, giving their readings a curiously stilted quality. This unique style became part of the Peanuts tradition, and continued even as the voice actors grew older (and were eventually replaced by a new set of kids).
Collective AUGGH!!!: From Linus' campaign team, Charlie Brown & Lucy. He is almost about to be elected Class President, when the day before the election, he addresses the student body...
Linus: ...Now I'd like to take a moment to talk to you about the Great Pumpkin...
Then in A Boy Named Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown loses the big spelling bee when he misspells "beagle," Snoopy's breed. Even Charlie reacts, instantly realizing he misspelled it.
Lucy, occasionally Peppermint Patty, earlier characters Patty and Violet, and every adult in the strip's world. In order for Charlie Brown to get a bag full of rocks on Halloween, there has to be a town full of adults who would give a child a rock.
He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown! deals in this. Highlights include Snoopy actually physically attacking Charlie Brown, Schroeder, and Linus, Peppermint Patty treating Snoopy as a slave, and even Charlie Brown himself at one point nearly strangling Snoopy with a leash!
Comic Book Adaptation: From 1960 to 1964 Dell (then Gold Key) put out a Peanuts comic book. Schulz only drew the first story, with the rest done by assistants Jim Sasseville and Dale Hale. Then in 2011 a new comic book mini-series began under KaBoom!.
Comic Book Time: As mentioned, characters grow up, but reach a certain cap. Schroeder, Lucy, Linus, and then Sally and Rerun are all introduced as babies, growing up and eventually becoming closer to Charlie Brown's age.
The strip makes fifty years worth of contemporary cultural references, running the gamut from Patti Page in 1953 to Harry Potter in 1999, all without anyone reaching their ninth birthday.
The strip eventually stopped mentioning specific years, but this went on long enough that it started to get weird: for example, in the late sixties Lucy is still referring back to events in 1954 and naming the year, yet the characters clearly haven't aged in time with it.
Comically Missing the Point: Lucy takes this to an extreme in Why, Charlie Brown, Why? in which the plot involves Linus's friend, Janice, being diagnosed with leukemia. Linus tells Lucy who at first doesn't care, then becomes afraid that she will catch cancer from Linus because he was in contact with her. After Linus points out her ignorance, she suggests Janice "probably got cancer because she's a creepy kid." Even after Linus continues to explain otherwise, she still doesn't get it and demands that he takes back the glass of milk she asked him to get, only to have Linus verbally own her: "I don't want to catch your crabbiness!"
Those arguments sounds suspiciously like people's initial reactions to AIDS in the 1980s. Consider that the special came out in 1990.
This video breaks down the whole scene and explains why Lucy can be forgiven for her remarks.
Crapsack World: It's hard not to conclude that the characters, and Charlie Brown in particular, inhabit a Lighter and Softer one of these. Everything seems to fail, but they're all okay...
For Charlie Brown it's a Crapsack Universe.
The blog 3eanuts reveals that, simply by removing the punch line from the comic, the Peanuts universe is actually rather startlingly bleak.
Daddy's Girl: Peppermint Patty has a close relationship with her father. Her mother is rarely mentioned - a Mother's Day strip has her state she doesn't have one, and she wants to give a Mother's Day gift to her dad instead.
Darker and Edgier: It's nothing special today, but when you consider the types of comics that were around when Peanuts first starting being published in the early 1950s, a little boy reflecting on how depressed he is about his life was unheard of.
Dark Horse Victory: In You're in the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown, Melody-Melody ends up coming out of the stands to beat Linus in the Punt, Pass & Kick competition. In the process she wins a bike and Super Bowl tickets.
Deadpan Snarker: Lucy, Linus, Schroeder (usually to Lucy's attempts to flirt with him), but Snoopy most of all.
Destined Bystander: In a 1968 sequence Peppermint Patty serves as a summer camp tent monitor for three younger girls named Clara, Sophie and Shirley. Clara has dark hair and glasses. Three years later Marcie made her official debut, also in a summer camp sequence. The only real difference between Marcie and Clara besides their names is that Clara's glasses aren't opaque. The name Clara got re-used for the overenthusiastic animal lover in Snoopy Come Home.
Determinator: No matter how many times he loses, Charlie Brown simply refuses to give up.
Charlie Brown didn't keep trying to kick Lucy's football out of some inner strength and Horatio Alger resolve we were supposed to admire. He did it because he was weak. He was flawed, and he couldn't help himself. But that's exactly why we love him.
Peppermint Patty: I spent a week on my grandfather's ranch...well, it isn't exactly a ranch...he lives sort of in the country...kind of on the edge of town...actually, he has an apartment over a drugstore.
Does Not Like Spam: Schulz hated anything coconut-flavoured, and as a result none of the characters like it either.
Don't Call Me Sir: Peppermint Patty (though more commonly the exact line was "Stop calling me 'sir'!"
Early-Bird Cameo: Inverted. Frieda appeared in The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show (and got name-checked in its opening theme song) despite having disappeared from the strip at least ten years prior. Similarly, Violet, who was Demoted to Extra in the '70s, got an appearance in the 2006 TV special He's a Bully, Charlie Brown.
The art was different, the humor was far lighter and often came from kids being kids, instead of acting like adults.
Charlie Brown was a lot more confident and aggressive.
Snoopy was a normal dog, and he wasn't Charlie Brown's pet.
Aside from Charlie Brown and Snoopy, the most important cast members were Shermy, Patty and Violet, who were later phased out.
Lucy was a wide-eyed, cute little Cloudcuckoolander, almost nothing like her later bossy, crabby, mean self.
Linus and Schroeder first appeared as babies.
The first pulling-the-football-away strip had Violet instead of Lucy, and she pulled it away from Charlie Brown out of fear he'd kick her hand rather than malice. A later strip had Shermy holding the ball for Charlie Brown, who actually kicked it; albeit not very far.
Another Easter Egg was when Snoopy was dictating to Woodstock, who snickered, and Snoopy said "Never dictate a love letter". The shorthand that appeared in the first panel read "To my dearest darling precious sweetie."
Patty isn't immune to this either. In a strip from December of 1989, she's getting ready to throw around a football with Marcie. It's very cold, but that's no problem, because Patty has a hoodie to keep her warm! Telling Marcie to kick the ball to her as soon as she gets it on, she puts it on backwards and then pulls the hood up, yes, over her face. Not able to see a thing, she misses the catch and gets hit in the head with the football a moment later.
Eskimos Aren't Real: Lucy once spent several strips mocking Charlie Brown for telling her that birds fly south for the winter: "In all my life, Charlie Brown, I have never met anyone with an imagination like yours!" When Chuck insisted, and also added that they fly north during the summer, Lucy sarcastically retorted that they must fly east during the spring and west during the fall. Then she pressed the issue further with "Chickens are birds, aren't they?! You never see a chicken flying south for the winter, do you?! CHICKENS ARE BIRDS, AREN'T THEY?!" Eventually Lucy learned (from a third party) that Charlie Brown was right about (some) birds flying south for the winter, and had to eat crow.
F Minus Minus: Frequently invoked. Peppermint Patty frequently received Z's for a time in the mid-1970s strips, and the teacher sarcastically admitted her to the "D Minus Hall of Fame" in 2000. After Sally rehearsed her report on Abraham Lincoln:
Felony Misdemeanor: A 1959 storyline has Charlie Brown losing a book from the library, leading to Lucy accusing him of having "stolen" it and Charlie Brown working himself up to a state of stark terror at the imagined consequences.
Used a couple of times in later years with Sally.
In a 1967 storyline, Sally took a crayon home from school and broke it, and, afraid that her teacher would "give her a judo chop" if she confessed to the truth, lied to her teacher about it; Charlie Brown finally shamed her into feeling guilty about it by yelling "GEORGE WASHINGTON!!!!" at her.
And in a 1978 storyline, Sally borrowed a ruler from one of her classmates. After the ruler ended up broken when Sally tried to measure the width of the street in front of the school (with a 12-inch ruler), she again put off dealing with the issue (despite admitting she was afraid that the ruler's owner would retaliate). However, this time she did the right thing in the end and bought the kid a new ruler.
Four Girl Ensemble: While the four main female characters aren't really that much of an ensemble, they still fit this trope with Sally (the sweet, naive one), Peppermint Patty (the mannish one), Marcie (the smart one) and Lucy (the glamorous, bossy one... kind of).
They weren't an ensemble in the strip itself, but merchandising sometimes paints them as such, probably due to this trope.
They did become an ensemble or sorts in Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown, though Peppermint Patty grabbed the leadership position and the others (even Lucy!) sort of faded into the background.
Free Prize at the Bottom: One story arc concerned getting one free marble in a box of Snicker-Snacks cereal. In one strip Charlie Brown found that the packing center made an error - there were 400 marbles and one Snicker-Snack.
Full-Name Basis: Charlie Brown, obviously, to everyone except Peppermint Patty (who calls him "Chuck"), Marcie ("Charles"), and Snoopy ("the round-headed kid", because he doesn't remember Charlie Brown's name). Since you don't call your own family members by by your own last name, Sally calls him "big brother."
Peppermint Patty is also unusual in calling Lucy "Lucille."
Subverted in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Lucy, for the first and only time, calls Charlie Brown "Charlie" when she gives her theory on how Christmas is a racket controlled by a syndicate.
The Funday Pawpet Show: The show got the word 'Pawpet' from the little puppet shows that Snoopy would present from atop his doghouse from time to time (usually in Sunday strips).
Funny Animal: Over time Snoopy developed into a non-talking version of this.
Girl Posse: Lucy, Patty, Violet, and occasionally Frieda.
Girlish Pigtails: In the early '50s strips, Violet often wore her hair in pigtails - and the pigtails made a return in Violet's cameo appearance in one 1989 strip.
Hair Decorations: The original Patty wore a bow in her hair. So did Sally early in the strip.
Hair Flip: Done by Frieda, whenever she needed to show off her "naturally curly hair". And no, she doesn't have Regal Ringlets.
He/She Who Must Not Be Seen: The adult characters, plus The Little Red-Haired Girl (in the strip, although she did appear onscreen — much to Schulz' vocal dismay — in the special It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown).
Snoopy's nemesis World War II, aka "that stupid cat next door."
Charlie Brown's pen/pencil pal.
Sally wasn't seen until about three months after her birth.
Any and every adult in the strip. Occasionally, especially in the strip's early years, adults would be given speech bubbles and address the kids from off-screen, though more often only the kids' reactions and answers are shown and the adults are neither shown nor directly heard from. In the animated adaptation, this was recreated by the famous "muted trumpet" sound that played whenever adults were talking.
Some of the animated specials/movies avert this, though. Adults appear on-screen and speak with distinct voices in he movie Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!!) and its television sequel What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown?, as well as the mini-series This is America, Charlie Brown and the TV specials It's the Girl in the Red Truck, Charlie Brown, Snoopy's Reunion and It's the Pied Piper, Charlie Brown.
Headdesk: Charlie Brown does this in You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, during the song "Little Known Facts".
Heroic BSOD: Happens twice to Charlie Brown in two of the movies; once after coming home after losing the spelling bee in A Boy Named Charlie Brown, and once again after Snoopy leaves Charlie Brown for Lila in Snoopy Come Home.
Heterosexual Life-Partners: Marcie and Peppermint Patty. Not too surprisingly, comedians and wiseacres like to inflate this to Les Yay (even though they both have a crush on Charlie Brown).
Hidden Badass: Linus, of all people. When Charlie Brown was crying a bully was attacking The Little Red-Haired Girl, then we see Linus using his blanket as a whip in the air, he goes off-panel and we see the same sound effect of the blanket-whip. Poor bully...
I Am Not Weasel: For a long time, Peppermint Patty thought that Snoopy was a human, and called him the "Funny-looking kid with the big nose."
"I Am" Song / "I Want" Song: A few have cropped up over the years. "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" gives Charlie Brown the title song, which is both, Lucy has an I Want song ("Schroeder"), and Snoopy gets one of each ("Snoopy" and "Suppertime"). It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown has "Lucy Says", which serves both purposes for Lucy, and Someday You'll Find Her, Charlie Brown has the heartbreaking "Alone", an I Want song for Charlie Brown (although he doesn't sing it, it plays in the background and obviously represents his perspective).
Iconic Outfit: Charlie Brown's yellow shirt with the black zigzag, and to a lesser degree, Lucy's blue dress and saddle shoes. Snoopy's goggles and scarf, when he pretends to be the WWI Flying Ace, may also count.
Idiosyncratic Special Naming: Schulz always hated the name "Peanuts," so virtually every single TV special ever made has the name "Charlie Brown" in its title somewhere, as do three of the four films. Extra points if it looks something like this: "(insert-thing-here), Charlie Brown".
This was also the case with most of the strip's book collections, although Snoopy sometimes got title billing rather than Charlie Brown.
If It Was Funny The First Time: Averted with the "Lucy holding the football" gag. Schulz made a point of keeping it fresh by doing it just once a year, and giving it a slightly different variation each time.
In one Sunday Strip, Linus and Lucy drew pictures for their grandmother. Linus had Lucy take the drawings and ask which one Grandma liked better. He successfully predicted that Grandma would like both drawings equally.
Linus predicts to Lucy that if an adult is asked, "We have Mother's Day and Father's Day....why isn't there a Children's Day?" the adult will answer, "Every day is Children's Day." When Lucy tries it, Linus is proved right.
Informed Flaw: Peppermint Patty is always complaining that she has a big nose, but it's really no bigger than anyone else's.
Insistent Terminology: Snoopy's fantasy alter egos are always "The world-famous X", even if it's absurd. (For example, if he gets roped into being a golf caddy, his Internal Monologue cuts to "Here's the world-famous Caddy stepping out on the green...")
Lampshaded with "Actually, there are fewer than a half-dozen world famous grocery clerks."
Instrumental Theme Tune: Technically called "Linus and Lucy," but rumors that someone out of the production crew called it anything other than the "Charlie Brown Theme" turned out to be exaggerated.
Jerkass: Lucy. As well as, in the early strips, (original) Patty and Violet.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lucy. Despite her bossiness and crabbiness, she actually has shown to have a nicer, caring side on a number of occasions. For example, when Charlie Brown has to go to the hospital, Lucy is distressed, and eventually promises that if he gets better, she won't pull the football away. She keeps her promise but Charlie Brown accidentally kicks her hand.
Lucy also has a good relationship with her youngest brother Rerun. Charles M. Schulz himself commented on how this came as a surprise to him.
In It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Lucy wakes up in the middle of the night, and - finding that Linus hasn't come home - puts on a coat over her nightgown, goes out to the pumpkin patch, brings her exhausted and shivering brother back to the house, takes off his shoes and socks, and carefully tucks him into bed.
Back when she was in the strip, Frieda was always pushy and pressuring toward Snoopy, whom she wanted to be a "real dog" by hunting rabbits instead of being lazy, but it was evident that she liked Snoopy and it was concern for his well-being, no matter how misguided, that motivated her.
Karma Houdini: Lucy, in It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown. Pulling the football away from Charlie Brown is one thing. Causing their football team to lose the game because of it, then managing to convince everyone it was Charlie Brown's fault, is another.
Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Lucy often makes wild, ridiculous claims and then laughs Charlie Brown to scorn for talking sense. This bothers him to the point of feeling terribly ill.
The song "Little Known Facts" from "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" covers how seemingly uneducated Lucy is.
Snoopy, especially when he lectures the Beagle Scouts about nature.
Large Ham: Sally Brown. SHE'S BEEN ROBBED!! SHE'S BEEN CHEATED!! CALL HER LAWYER!! SHE DEMANDS THAT WE ACKNOWLEDGE HER HAMMINESS!!
Lets See You Do Better: During the animation process of one of the animated specials, Charles Schulz oversaw Bill Melendez's animation process and constantly objected to his decisions. After Melendez handed a pen to him and said this phrase, Schulz never interfered with the animators again.
Schulz did get his way on one thing that stays constant in the specials. Just like in the strip, the audience never sees any of the characters faces or bodies at an angle.
Lighter and Softer: Surprisingly, Lucy resorted less to physical violence and became more self-conscious in the later strips. She's still snarky and crabby, though.
Limited Wardrobe: Most of the characters have these, with Charlie Brown's yellow-and-black zig-zag sweater, in particular, becoming iconic. Although the wardrobes used to be much more limited; Linus became famous in a red-and-black striped tee, Peppermint Patty in a green one (plus flip-flops), and the other girls in color-coded dresses with puffed sleeves and a bow sash. As shown by the picture above, Schulz dropped this 'girls in dresses, boys/tomboys in shorts or pants' meme somewhere around the '80s.
Actually, Sally started wearing a T-shirt and pants as early as 1969. There was also an incident where Peppermint Patty's school forced her to wear a dress to comply with the Dress Code but apparently that didn't last long as she was back to wearing the shirt, shorts and sandals within a year.
Enforced almost absurdly in It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown. The kids are in their default outfits during the football game; the only concessions to football are the helmets, puffier shoulders suggesting pads, and cleats. Then again, this school obviously couldn't afford other football luxuries, like coaches, or any officials ... or a team doctor ... and apparently a band member called in sick ... there's a cheerleader missing, too ...
Little Known Facts: When Linus was younger, a running gag was for Lucy to fill him up with her "knowledge", which was invariably of the "Artistic License" variety.
Lucy: (showing Linus leaves falling off a tree in the autumn) See these leaves, Linus? They're flying south for the winter. (She then proceeded to justify this to Charlie Brown, who had witnessed the exchange, by saying, "When you look at a map, north is up and south is down, isn't it?")
There's actually a song called "Little Known Facts" in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
Linus has done this himself to Sally on at least one occasion, when he tricked her into delivering a lecture about the dangers of "rock snakes" in class.
I'm not so sure that he tricked her here. Linus had a tendency in previous strips to be afraid of imaginary creatures such as "Queen Snakes" and "Gully Cats" (who, he claimed, liked to bite people on the arm so they couldn't play tennis since tennis rackets were made with "gully cat gut"). I believe he actually believed in rock snakes.
In a late run of strips, Sally had to teach Sunday school classes to younger kids, one of whom persistently confused the details of the Christmas story (and every other Biblical story) with The Great Gatsby.
Little Miss Snarker: Most of the female characters have traits of this at some time or another.
Charlie Brown himself in a series of strips. While it's not made clear exactly what lands him in the hospital (he takes himself to the emergency room after a ball game, complaining only of 'feeling kinda woozy...'), he spends an implied several weeks there, while all of the other characters fret about his survival. Lucy even vows never to pull the football away again, if only he gets better. The series of strips also resulted in hundreds of thousands of "Please get well" cards from fans around the world.
The Musical adaptation You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown largely worked from the early era of the comic, and included Patty - not Peppermint Patty, but another cast member, actually one of the first - as a character. She became a minor character as the years passed thanks to this trope, so when the show was revived on Broadway in the late 1990s, a rewrite dropped her and brought in Sally instead.
Loophole Abuse: Whenever Lucy promises not to pull the football away, she always comes up with some loophole making the promise invalid.
Medium Awareness: In one strip's story about Linus warning everyone not to look directly into an upcoming eclipse, Lucy tells Charlie Brown that she's going to heed her brother's advice and not do so to protect her "beautiful eyes". She then asks CB what he thinks of her eyes.
Lucy: Do you think my eyes are beautiful, Charlie Brown? Charlie Brown: Yes, they look like little round dots of India ink!
Also, in one very early strip, when Schroeder ran to Charlie Brown excited that he had "perfect pitch," and Charlie Brown replied, "You mean a perfect pitch. Besides, who cares? The baseball season is over!"
Schroeder: Sometimes I think I should put in for a transfer to a new comic strip!
Missing Mom: Peppermint Patty lives alone with her father.
Mondegreen: Subverted. Sally prepares for a Christmas pageant in which "I come out and say, 'Hark!', then Harold Angel starts to sing." Everyone assumes that she's simply confused by the name of the song...until a kid named Harold Angel actually shows up.
Also played straight a fair bit with Sally, such as a sequence where she believes that Santa Claus wears a yellow sou'wester and rubber boots (having misheard 'reindeer' as 'rain gear'), or her description of Arbor Day as "the day the ships come sailing into the 'arbor".
Throw the Hypotenuse Into a Tree: Lucy, wanting Schroeder's attention, once threw his toy piano into a tree. That she happened to throw it into one of the neighborhood's many kite-eating trees was complete coincidence on her part. After a period of mourning, he ordered a new piano, which Lucy would later throw down the sewer, where it would be washed out to sea, believing the piano was "too much competition" for her. Schroeder would once again order a new piano.
Schroeder: How do you explain to an insurance company that your piano was eaten by a tree?
Musical Special: The mid-1980s specials (which coincided with Stacy Ferguson's tenure as Sally).
Also, the first movie, A Boy Named Charlie Brown. The later movies also had insert songs, but they weren't performed by the kids themselves. Plus the animated version of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown.
My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad: Violet was very prone to bragging about her father, and got shot out of the saddle for it just as frequently.
Mythology Gag: The iPhone game "Snoopy's Street Fair" reintroduces Faron (Frieda has a cat-petting booth), depicts Lydia running a "Guess the Name" game, and shows Emily selling dance supplies and Shermy selling root beer as in this extremely early strip. All of these jokes probably won't be picked up on by casual Snoopy fans.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The (possibly nick) name of the "stupid" cat next door that's been known to take out 98% of Snoopy's doghouse with one swipe? World War II.
Neologism: The term "security blanket", which is now listed in Webster's Dictionary.
Also "fussbudget," which Schulz inserted into the strip after one of his daughters described herself this way.
Never My Fault: In It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown, during an important football game Lucy pulls the ball from Charlie's kick — losing the game. She proceeds to blame him - and the others go along with her.
Peppermint Patty also tends to dominate her conversations with Charlie Brown, never letting him get a word in edgewise as he attempts to object to or correct her. Then she yells at him when things don't live up to her expectations (though Marcie usually tries to talk her down). "I hate talking to you, Chuck!"
Patty will also shift the blame onto Charlie Brown for things that are really her fault - such as failing a test because she talked with him on the phone instead of studying, when she's the one who called him. In a 1984 strip, she tries to blame him for her being sent to the principal's office for attacking a classmate, and her rationale is, "You're my friend, right, Chuck? You should have been a better influence on me!"
Nice Hat: Minor characters Roy (a friend of Peppermint Patty's) and Eudora (a friend of Sally's) are always depicted wearing hats. Linus occasionally wore a cowboy hat in the 1950s strips, and some early '60s strips have the male characters donning replica Civil War infantry caps (mirroring a real-world fad inspired by the war's centennial).
Not to mention Snoopy's WW1 flight helmet.
No Antagonist: Since even Lucy's bullying is offset by her usual good intentions, there isn't really a villain per se for most of the time, and the ones that exist are all mental. The Red Baron is an antagonist in Snoopy's imagination, the kite-eating tree seems to be how Charlie Brown's mind is able to accept so much bad luck with kites, and that was it for a number of years. The animated special Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown! broke tradition and added a team of no-good bullies from parts unknown to torment the gang.
No Ending: The last true strip (the actual last strip is just a letter from Schulz to his fans accompanied by recycled artwork) has Charlie Brown explaining his vast knowledge of love letters to Sally; when she notes his expertise, the punchline has him saying "If I ever got one, I don't know what I'd do." A very poignant kind of No Ending.
No Matter How Much I Beg: Linus enlists Snoopy in this trope to kick his blanket habit (Snoopy eventually resorts to having it made into sport coats for himself and Woodstock).
Several years earlier he tried the same thing with Charlie Brown. The first time he asked to have the blanket back Charlie Brown promptly obliged. (Linus, in disgust: "You're weaker than I am!")
No Name Given: Unnamed characters include the Little Red-Haired Girl (though in one or two specials she was given the name Heather), Charlie Brown's pencil-pal, all the parents, and "Pig-Pen" (though one play version names him Matt). Most characters are referred to as one name, except for Charlie and Sally Brown; Linus, Lucy and "Rerun" van Pelt; Violet Gray; Patricia "Peppermint Patty" Reichardt; Charlotte Braun; and 555 95472. The state and town they live in is never named, nor is their school or baseball team.
In A Boy Named Charlie Brown, they take a bus trip to New York City, which suggests that they possibly reside in the mid-Atlantic region.
There's also that girl in Linus's class who makes a point of changing her name every day. (Her real name seems to be Lydia, however.)
Non-Indicative Name: No, none of the characters is named "Peanuts." The name was assigned due to Executive Meddling, apparently by someone who assumed it was a slang term for kids. Schulz originally wanted to call it "Lil' Folks," and was none too happy with the title change. note Though he wrote later that "Lil' Folks" was "admittedly not much better."
Not Allowed to Grow Up: Slightly averted, mostly played-straight. Most characters started out really young, gradually grew up to a certain age, and then remained that age for the remainder of the strip. For example, Charlie Brown was originally 4, then gradually became older, eventually stopping at the age of 8. Alternatively, they might well have been introduced as 8-9 year olds and simply not aged at all (Peppermint Patty, for instance).
To be fair, by the time Peppermint Patty was introduced, Patty's character was already in decline...note Schulz later admitted that he created the character so he could use the name before someone else could beat him to it.
Only Known by Their Nickname: "Pig-Pen" (for his messiness) and "Rerun" (after Lucy compared having a second little brother to watching television repeats - though it's actually Linus that made the nickname stick)
Only Six Faces: All the human characters have almost identical faces and the exact same body shape. This also resulted in a bit of Generic Cuteness, as in a few strips, Peppermint Patty worries about how she has a "big nose" and is "plain looking", but she doesn't really look too different from anyone else.
Out of Focus: This started to happen to Schroeder sometime in the '80s. Also, Sally and Linus fell victim of this trope in the '90s, when Rerun gained more prominence.
Painting the Medium: In one late '80s strip, Lucy, frustrated over Schroeder's lack of interest in her, grabbed the musical notation, crumpled it up into a ball, and threw it on the ground before storming away. Schroeder un-crumpled the notation and placed it back in its proper place. Charlie Brown then commented as he was listening to Schroeder play, "Maybe it's none of my business, but your music sounds kind of wrinkled."
Panty Shot: Lucy, Violet and Patty in early strips; Peppermint Patty(!) in She's A Good Skate, Charlie Brown.
The Piano Player: Schroeder fits this trope to a tee, except for the fact the the characters aren't in a bar.
Plank Gag: Peppermint Patty does this to Marcie in one strip; accidentally beaning her with a loaf of French bread she brought back from her trip to Paris.
Please Keep Your Hat On: Happens in one strip when Peppermint Patty wears her ski cap into class. Her teacher tells her to take it off, but when she does, her hair is so wild and unruly that she is immediately told to put it back on.
The Pratfall: The famous sequence where Lucy would pull away the football at the last second always resulted in Charlie Brown landing on his backside.
The same goes for baseball strips, where he would get zinged by a line drive and get sent flying, often getting half his clothes knocked off in the process.
Pun: Schulz wasn't above making these now and then. Sally would often use her school presentations to set up a punchline, but she was by no means the only one to make puns that other characters disapproved of.
Also quite often occur in Snoopy's writings.
Puni Plush: Well, as close as you can get with American comics, anyway.
Raw Eggs Make You Stronger: In one strip, Charlie Brown adds a raw egg to Snoopy's dog food to give him a shiny coat. Snoopy doesn't like this.
Snoopy: BLAH!! So much for suppertime!
Readings Blew Up the Scale: In one strip, Snoopy adds the number of pizzas he and Woodstock ate before midnight to the number of pizzas they ate after midnight. The result blows up his pocket calculator.
Reality Is Unrealistic: Considering how manyholiday specials have been done, one might assume upon first hearing that It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown is a parody title that somebody made up. Then they check out the Easter special's DVD ...
Real Life Writes the Plot: For a man who preferred his privacy, Schulz put much of his personal life subtly in the script. For one thing, the mean, restless Lucy is based on his first wife, and after their divorce (represented in the strip as Lucy getting kicked off the baseball team), Lucy became Lighter and Softer to reflect Schulz's happier second marriage. He even revealed his affair with another woman during his first marriage, through Snoopy falling in love with another beagle and sending love notes and getting scolded for making long-distance phone calls.
A 1966 storyline, involving Snoopy's doghouse catching fire and burning to the ground, was inspired by a fire at Schulz's studio in Sebastopol, CA earlier that year.
A story arc about Charlie Brown ending up in hospital for weeks on an end was based on Schulz going through a bypass surgery that included a similarly lengthy recovery period.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: A story arc from July 1969 has the Little Red-Haired Girl moving away with her parents. Linus urges Charlie Brown to talk to her while he still has the chance, but when the moment comes he, as usual, freezes in panic. After she's gone for good, Linus flips out and tears into Charlie Brown for his wishy-washiness:
Linus: She's gone! You didn't do anything! You just stood there! You never do anything! All you ever do is just stand there! You drive everybody crazy, Charlie Brown! I'm so mad I could scream! I AM screaming!!! (to Lucy) And don't YOU give me any trouble!!!!
The special Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown has an amusing subversion of this. On the morning after Valentine's Day, Charlie Brown's female classmates approach him, explain that they feel bad he didn't get a single valentine card, and offer him one of their own cards with the original name scratched off and his penciled in. Seeing this, an outraged Schroeder tears into them for their hypocritical gesture:
Schroeder: Hold on there! What do you think you're doing? Who do you think you are? Where were you yesterday, when everyone else was giving out valentines? Is kindness and thoughtfulness something you can make retroactive? Don't you think he has any feelings? You and your friends are the most thoughtless bunch I've ever known! You don't care anything about Charlie Brown, you just hate to feel guilty! And now you have the nerve to come around one day later and offer him a used valentine, just to ease your conscience! Well, let me tell you something! Charlie Brown doesn't need your...
Charlie Brown (shoving him aside): Don't listen to him! I'll take it!
Refrain from Assuming: The iconic instrumental theme song isn't called "Peanuts" or "Charlie Brown". It's actually called "Linus and Lucy".
Retirony: Schulz died the day before the strip announcing his retirement was released.
Schulz even predicted this. He said years before that he would continue drawing Peanuts as long as he was able. He had also predicted that the strip would outlive him, specifically citing the several-weeks delay from finished strip to newspaper.
Right Out of My Clothes: A Running Gag is that whenever Charlie Brown pitches for his baseball team, the opposing batter hits the ball so hard it knocks Charlie Brown out of his clothes.
There's an arc that implies he's doing this on purpose. He gets hit by a ball and is actually injured by it, forcing the team to find another pitcher (who is actually much better) and causing Charlie Brown to worry that he's losing his reflexes. He's nervous during his first game back, but on his very first pitch he's bowled over with his socks, shoes, etc. flying like normal, and when people come over to see if he's okay, he smiles up from the ground "See? I've got my old reflexes back!"
Ripped from the Headlines: A lot of the strips, especially the earlier ones, were very topical — because of this, they have often not been reprinted until recently. Some examples:
Charlie Brown being obsessed with Davy Crockett merchandise in the 1950s. Schroeder's Beethoven obsession was originally intended as a parody of this (i.e. why is it normal for one historical character to be a famous institution popular with kids and yet absurd for another one from the same era to be). Ironically, Schroeder's Beethoven fandom became so iconic that it survived as a joke long after the Davy Crockett craze was forgotten.
The kids going space crazy after the Sputnik launch in 1957.
Snoopy landing on the moon in the 1960s. (The Apollo 10 Command and Landing modules were named Charlie Brown and Snoopy, and the black and white balaclavas worn by space shuttle crew are known as 'Snoopy hats.')
Snoopy wanting to compete in figure skating at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble.
Rerun being suspended for flirting with a girl was ripped from the headlines of crazy school rules about sexual harassment and zero tolerance policies.
Linus and Lucy's experiment with "Stereophonic Fussing" in the late 1950s, at a time when stereophonic sound was just becoming common for record albums.
Snoopy going in for his dog license renewal. In the process he ends up with a fishing and driving license from mixups, but is told he doesn't need a license for 'that'. Cue assault rifle.
Snoopy challenging Hank Aaron for Babe Ruth's career home run record in 1973 (and getting hate mail similar to that received by Aaron in real life).
About two months after the 1962 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees, Schulz— a Giants fan— published a strip that had Charlie and Linus sitting silently for three panels, only for Charlie to exclaim in the last, "Why couldn't McCovey have hit the ball just three feet higher?!" (the series ended with a Yankee victory in the final game when Giants first baseman Willie McCovey hit what would have scored the winning runs directly to the Yankees' second baseman). About a month later, an identical strip was published, instead ending with Charlie exclaiming, "Or why couldn't McCovey have hit the ball even two feet higher?!"
Roger Rabbit Effect: It's the Girl In the Red Truck, Charlie Brown. In fact, it debuted a couple months after Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released, making it falsely appear to be a case of Follow the Leader (it had been in production for a few years). Inevitably reviewers compared the two (a bit unfair since Schulz didn't have anywhere near the budget to work with).
Runaway Bride: In the cartoon special Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown, Snoopy is all set to get married to a dog named Genevieve when Lucy soon arrives with news that the bride-to-be has just run off with a golden retriever. Snoopy is heartbroken at first, but soon lightens up at the prospect of remaining a bachelor, and enjoys the wedding cake with Woodstock.
Running Gag: Charlie Brown and Lucy's football. Could it get any more classic?
Snoopy and his imaginary fantasies, especially the accursed dogfights with the Red Baron.
In the 90s, there were many strips that used the setup of Charlie lying in bed at night saying "Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask X...Then a voice comes to me out of the dark and says Y."
In the early years there was: "Everyone is (engaging in some fad)"..."everyone?"...show Snoopy engaging in the fad..."everyone!"
For a while in the late 50s:
Lucy or Violet or Patty: Hey Charlie Brown! Look at my new hi-fi (non-audio item)!
Charlie Brown (to us): How can a (non-audio item) be hi-fi?
Sadist Show: Very subjective. There are some folks out there who think the whole world is just too cruel to Charlie Brown, and to a lesser extent, everybody else.
Sadist Teacher: Charlie Brown's teacher makes him read War and Peace over the Christmas break in the New Year's special. For those of you currently blank-faced, this is a novel of old Russia that's over a thousand pages long in most editions. And good ol' Charlie Brown is 8.
What's even worse is that nobody else seems to have to read it. Even Linus, who is explicitly in the same class (and was sitting behind Charlie Brown when the assignment was given) is never shown so much as picking up the book. Either the teacher is such a sadist she only gave Charlie Brown that assignment, or he's the only one who bothered to actually do it (and got a D-).
In the original comic, the book is Gullivers Travels - which is around a fifth of the size but still fairly scary for an eight-year-old. However, everyone else finishes the assignment early in the break where as Charlie Brown does it at three in the morning the day it's due. The fact that his paper was a last-minute rush job (and probably done while sleep-deprived, if the look on his face on the way to school is an indicator) whereas everyone else got it done properly was probably the determining factor in his just-above-failing grade.
Peppermint Patty had a couple of scary assignments also. One test: "Explain World War II." Patty (incredulous): "Explain World War II!?" Last panel, the rest of the assignment: "Use both sides of the paper, if necessary."
In one strip from 1988, Patty's teacher assigns the class to read the first 35 chapters of Anna Karenina by the end of the week. However, all it takes is Patty yelling, "What? WHAT? WHAT?!" progressively louder to make the teacher change her mind.
Sally was once asked to factor a pretty scary math problem that shouldn't show up until Algebra I in 1974.
Sarcasm Mode: Schulz had a unique way of showing this, with characters' eyes changing from dots to quote mark shapes to imply eye-rolling.
Schroeder also falls somewhat into this trope, considering that 90% of his personality is based off his sarcastic replies to Lucy's attempts to flirt with him. The other 10% is his obsession with Beethoven and his piano.
It later became something of a Running Gag to have a character keeping track of how many times he/she had seen Citizen Kane. And then there was Schroeder's response to Lucy asking him if his grandfather had fought in World War I - "No, but he's seen Victory At Sea twelve times!"
Self-Deprecation: The strip of January 1, 1974 has Lucy watching the Rose Parade. When Linus comes in and asks if the Grand Marshal has gone by yet, Lucy replies, "Yeah, you missed him...but he wasn't anyone you ever heard of!" (That's right, the Grand Marshal that year was Charles Schulz.)
Serious Business: The kids' baseball games, spelling bees, school elections, etc.
One series of strips involved the kids' wintertime snowman-building efforts being organized by parents into actual leagues with championship trophies, referees, sponsors, and so forth.
Linus' annual vigils for the Great Pumpkin.
Beethoven's birthday, for Schroeder. In the rare years he forgot about it, he was beside himself with guilt.
Snoopy's assignments from the "Head Beagle," and the arc in which Frieda reported him to said Head Beagle for refusing to chase rabbits.
Lucy has been shown to have many trophies, including one bigger than her, for being a "fussbudget."
And these are all justified. Snoopy's Serious Businesses are justified because, well... he's Snoopy, and the others are because the strip is from the viewpoint of kids who are about six or seven years old. At that age, those things are Serious Business.
She's a Man in Japan: In the Norwegian translation, Woodstock is a girl named Fredrikke (a female name over there).
Interestingly, this trope was flipped with Sally herself rejecting several possible suitors, including Harold Angel and, later on, a minor character named Cormac. ("Forget it, Cormac... my heart belongs to my Sweet Babboo.")
Shipper on Deck: Sally, to Charlie Brown and Marcie. Alhough she does it with her usual lack of grace and sensitivity:
"KISS HER, YOU BLOCKHEAD!"
Linus ships Charlie Brown and the Little Red-Haired Girl, resulting in him having an utter Freak Out at Charlie Brown for not having the courage to speak to her before she moves away. However, his own penchant for the Red-Haired Girl has occasionally caused him to sabotage his own ship.
Peppermint Patty shipped Snoopy/Marcie for a while, since she thought Snoopy was a human being.
Marcie used to ship Charlie Brown/Peppermint Patty. It was later revealed that she liked Charlie Brown herself, but figured he'd never go for her because she wore glasses.
In the TV special "You're In Love, Charlie Brown," Peppermint Patty tried to set Charlie Brown and Lucy up on a blind date. Charlie Brown assumed Patty was trying to get him together with the Little Red-Haired Girl; we don't know for sure but we could assume Lucy assumed Patty was setting her up with Schroeder. When Charlie Brown and Lucy saw each other, they immediately shouted in unison, "YOU??? BLECCHHH!!!"
Shocking Swerve: In-Universe, Snoopy's story "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" includes one of these. A shot rings out, a door slams, and the maid screams. Up to that point, it reads like a murder mystery. But then Snoopy writes that a pirate ship shows up! With an Aside Glance and a grin, Snoopy thinks "This twist in the plot will baffle my readers..."
Shown Their Work: The music notation that appeared when Schroeder played was always accurate.
Parodied with the Snoopy as WWI Flying Ace strips, in which on two occasions Snoopy himself (after describing in great detail the operation of a Sopwith Camel) comments on how good his research is.
Show Within a Show: In the animated specials, at least, Snoopy was a fan of The Bunnies, apparently a series of children's books about the comedic adventures of a family of hyperactive rabbits that were also adapted into animated shorts.
In the strip the book series is called 'The Six Bunnie-Wunnies', and is written by Miss Helen Sweetstory. Snoopy develops a raging crush on her at one point, until he learns she's a cat person.
Signature Sound Effect: The 'wah-wah' sound that represented adult speech was a muted trombone, in case you were curious.
Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Charles Schulz himself with MAD magazine. The friendly feud started when Mad complained about Peanuts` use of Comic Book Time and started drawing their own strips showing the characters growing up; Mad also ran a series of strips depicting the Red Baron drawn in Peanuts style in which other German pilots tease him because his Worthy Opponent is a dog, and others. Eventually the crossover was returned when Schulz climaxed a 1970s story about Charlie Brown hallucinating baseballs everywhere with a cameo by Mad mascot Alfred E Neuman.
They had a little fun afterwards, too. A later (90s-era) Mad back cover featured a parody of Metropolitan Life insurance ads featuring Snoopy, as an evil 'Mutt Life' representative. Sparky's reply? A sketch of Snoopy going door to door, claiming he wasn't the guy on the cover of the magazine.
Schroeder, introduced in early 1951 as an infant, within a year became first a toddler piano prodigy, and then not only fully verbal but apparently the same age as Charlie Brown, Shermy and friends.
Lucy was a crib-bound toddler in her first appearances, and aged until she reached a point where she's apparently slightly older than Charlie Brown (based on the fact that Charlie Brown and her little brother, Linus, are usually depicted as being in the same class).
Linus, introduced in late 1952, was somewhere between infant and toddler for two years, and a typical preschooler for the next year or two. Then, in 1957, he rapidly became the precocious Christian theologian he would remain ever after. (He never gave up his security blanket, however.)
Sally Brown was the first character born into the strip, in 1959 (Snoopy mentions waiting "until her eyes are open" to go visit her). Theoretically, this should make her at least several years younger than the rest of the cast. But by the early 70s she was more or less the same age as Linus. Similarly, almost overnight in the 90s, Rerun Van Pelt went from a toddler to kindergarten age.
Sore Loser: Snoopy in You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown; after losing a tennis match, he goes on a tirade that would make John McEnroe blush.
The Speechless: The characters first introduced as infants (Schroeder, Lucy, Linus, Sally, Rerun) were justifiable examples of this, although their thoughts were frequently "verbalized" via thought balloons a la Snoopy.
Spell My Name with an S: His name is Charles Schulz, not Schultz. The fact that people still get it so wrong so often, even on this very wiki, is appalling.
Squee: Snoopy's usual reaction, in both the strip and the animated tales, to The Six Bunnie-Wunnies.
Straw Feminist: Peppermint Patty occasionally shows a mild straw feminist streak. Lucy and Sally sometimes do, too.
In the early '70s, Lucy went so far as to withdraw from Charlie Brown's baseball team because she felt baseball was degrading to women as a male-dominated game. Also an example of Ripped from the Headlines.
Sometimes they did voice Schulz's own concerns, as in the Sunday strip where Peppermint goes on a rant about TV sports news neglecting women's sports (rattling off the names of twenty sportswomen of the time in the process). Charles M. Schulz was a great admirer and personal friend of Billie Jean King and hosted a women's tennis tournament himself.
Straw Misogynist: In TV special #2 (Charlie Brown's All-Stars, 1966), a local businessman offers to sponsor the team and give them uniforms and everything. The kids are excited and start practicing really hard, making great plays. Charlie calls off the deal - because the businessman wanted him to cut Snoopy and the girls from the team and have only boy players.
Strong Family Resemblance: Having half-circles around their eyes all the time seems to be a common trait in the Van Pelt family.
Suddenly Voiced: In most of the animated specials and films, Snoopy was The Speechless (though his thoughts could be read in the comic strip). However, in the adaptations of the two Broadway musicals and during some segments of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, he actually gained a voice for his internal monologues. This, however, had a blacklash effect to fans who felt it didn't fit him. Thus subsequent animated adaptions left Snoopy voiceless once again.
Surprise Jump: Charlie Brown and Sally are walking to school. While waiting for the bus, Charlie Brown tells Lucy that Sally is so scared about her first day of kindergarten that if someone even mentions kindergarten while she's around, she'd jump 30 feet in the air. Putting this theory to the test, Lucy says "Kindergarten" to Sally, who then promptly jumps up into the air in fear. Lucy then muses, "Only 10 feet. I knew you were exaggerating."
That Was the Last Entry: In a 1990s arc, Snoopy and Woodstock find a tiny book inside a dented cage. The book is a diary that supposedly belonged to Woodstock's grandfather.
Snoopy: (reading diary) "Once a week, they put my cage outside in the sun. Sooner or later they're going to leave that little door open. Anyway, this is a stupid life sitting here alone, waiting for that to …" (turning to Woodstock) "And that's it! The diary ends right there! [Your grandfather] probably got out, and is sitting on a telephone wire right now looking down at us…
Those Two Guys: Patty and Violet. Although they were originally the primary female characters in the strip, both of their personalities were fairly generic. Once Lucy arrived their role became limited to tormenting Charlie Brown (and occasionally others) for sport. The two were generally seen as a pair, and when seen apart, they were usually playing Straight Man to another character. Not much was seen of them after the 1970s. Patty ironically started out as part another "those two guys" pair, as far as as Patty and Shermy being a couple in the first couple months of the strip.
The Three Certainties in Life: One Sunday strip where Lucy, holding a football, challenged Charlie Brown to name three things that are certain. Charlie Brown guessed Death and Taxes but drew a blank at the third...until Lucy pulled the football away. "It was so obvious, Charlie Brown."
Throw the Dog a Bone: People who complain about Charlie Brown always getting the short end of the stick and never being able to kick the dang football probably never saw the 1980s TV special, It's Magic, Charlie Brown.
As many problems as Charlie Brown has, parental issues aren't one of them; as he occasionally talks about how great his dad is for making time for him.
Through a Face Full of Fur: Snoopy is often shown blushing. In one 1950s strip, Charlie Brown wonders, "How can anyone blush through a face full of hair?" (thus becoming the Trope Namer).
Token Minority: Franklin. Albeit Schulz, with his usual uncanny grace, forbore to make any more of a point of it than necessary; Franklin (and later Swedish-Mexican character José Peterson) speak the same amusingly hyper-correct English the white characters do.
Schulz's depicting Peppermint Patty and Franklin in the same class got him some letters from readers who asked him to stop showing a black and a white child in the same class as school integration was still very much a sensitive issue in the early '70s. Schulz ignored these letters - good for him.
Most of the leading characters also seem to come from non-Anglo groups, with German (Schroeder, Patricia 'Peppermint Patty' Reichardt, Miss Othmar, probably Frieda), Dutch (Van Pelt) and Swedish (Peterson) names, which is not that surprising given Schulz's own Minnesotan roots.
Also Sally, although arguably she is not so much stupid as mixed up, and she doesn't obsess about her poor grades as much as Patty does.
Tree Cover: One story arc has Charlie Brown hiding behind a tree in front of the home of the Little Red-Haired Girl, trying to muster up enough courage to knock on her door and talk to her.
True Meaning Of Christmas: Linus reads off part of the Gospel of Luke in the Christmas special. Yes, folks, the original meaning gets used.
Similarly, the Thanksgiving special has Marcie giving a brief lecture on the True Meaning of Thanksgiving.
Tsundere/Yandere: Lucy is sweet ("deredere") when it comes to Schroeder, her love interest, but she's mean and crabby ("tsuntsun") when it comes to everybody else. And when it comes to her "competition" for Schroeder (namely, his piano), then it's a completely different story.
Umpteenth Customer: In one Sunday strip, Charlie Brown goes to the movie theater because they're offering free candy bars to the first 500 children in line. He lets Lucy ahead of him, and she's the 500th child.
This was based off of something that really did happen to Schulz himself as a child; his neighborhood bijou was offering free popcorn for the first hundred kids. He was the hundred-and-first.
Undesirable Prize: In "Good Sport", Charlie Brown finally wins something (A motocross event where everyone else broke down before the finish), but instead of getting tickets to the Pro Bowl (as the promised prize), he gets a gift certificate for five haircuts...which is useless to him because his dad's a barber.
Not to mention his lack of hair.
Unintentional Period Piece: Many strips refer to real world events, but these were rarely reprinted (precisely because they were dated) until The Complete Peanuts. Occasionally some slipped through when the reference was sufficiently obscure: for example, a series of strips in which Snoopy observes birds having furious (but unintelligible) political arguments while holding signs depicting different punctuation marks. This accompanied the bitter polarised political discourse in the US in the run-up to the 1964 election.
An exception: Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back) had two intelligible adults, for plot reasons, but it was toyed with earlier in the movie when British people talking to the kids speak a language that is intelligible to the audience but not to the main characters.
Also, You're in the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown has an intelligible announcer/narrator. As did She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown.Snoopy's Reunion featured the appearance of the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm owner, and It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown had a number of teenagers/adults in the disco where Snoopy goes.
Woodstock's chirpings are unintelligible to the reader/viewer, but apparently not to Snoopy.
Also, the "polkas, schottisches and waltzes" strip mentioned above. Snoopy's accordion playing was captioned with those words.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Nobody (except Charlie Brown) ever seems to think it odd that a beagle is riding atop his doghouse in full WWI Flying Ace getup, among many other things (Marcie even participates in the WWI fantasy on occasion, as a 'simple French lass' with whom he shares wistful root beers in little cafes). A running gag was that Peppermint Patty thinks Snoopy is a "funny-looking kid with [a] big nose." In fact, Snoopy provokes most of the moments like these.
Vandalism Backfire: In an early strip, Lucy takes a blanket away from Linus and tears it apart. Linus says, "That wasn't my blanket. It was yours." Cue Lucy pounding the floor in frustration.
Where The Hell Is Springfield?: The name and location of the town the characters live in is never specified. However, the look of the houses is based on those in Schulz's own birthplace of St Paul, Minnesota, and an early strip has Lucy winning a trophy for "Outstanding Fussbudget of Hennepin County" (real-life location of Minneapolis).
The character "5" is established to live inside ZIP code 95472, which is Sebastopol, California.
The school that Charlie Brown, Sally, et al. attend is variously referred to as James Street Elementary and Pinecrest Elementary.
If you look closely at a letter envelope in Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales, it lists the town as "Sparkyville, USA". ("Sparky" was Schulz's nickname.)
If A Boy Named Charlie Brown is to be believed, the gang live about a day's bus drive from New York City.
Wolverine Publicity: The special It's the Girl in the Red Truck, Charlie Brown stars Snoopy's brother, Spike, and Charlie Brown himself only gets a small cameo.
Similarly, What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown! centers around Snoopy, with Charlie Brown only appearing at the beginning and end.
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Used (and subverted) a few times in the early days of the strip. Explained more on the trope page.
Writers Cannot Do Math: In one strip Peppermint Patty is asked to solve a (word) algebra problem involving relative ages. Peppermint Patty gives up without trying, but if you actually work out the problem, you'll discover that the father is only 12 years older than his daughter!
X Must Not Win: Whenever Charlie Brown has any real chance of winning something, someone has to be around specifically to prevent him from achieving the victory, usually Snoopy.
The most prominent case is in A Boy Named Charlie Brown, where he is one of the two remaining contestants on a winner-takes-all national spelling bee. Charlie Brown screws up spelling "beagle" due to a combination of Snoopy (who is a beagle) following him along and worry over Linus getting angry at Charlie Brown for a trivial reason.
Averted in "You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown". He actually wins a motocross race, but the victory is somewhat dampened by the Undesirable Prize. (above)
Yank the Dog's Chain: One cartoon had Charlie Brown's baseball team win their first game ever (with Charlie Brown, that is - with him absent they won a few)...then have to forfeit because Lucy's baby brother Rerun had broken a rule. Ironically, Rerun had also been the chief reason they had won the game in the first place.
You Are Number Six: 555 95472 ("5" for short) and his sisters 3 and 4 (and, presumably, parents 1 and 2); 5 explains that his father is commenting on the prevalence of numbers in our lives: not as a sign of protest, but of surrender.
You Said You Couldn't Dance: In It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown, after the titular event, Charlie Brown can suddenly dance, and does so with all the girls... and can't remember it the next morning.
You Wouldn't Hit A Guy With Glasses: Linus, who wore glasses for a short time in the early '60s. Lucy got mad at him for eating the last apple and snapped that if it not for the fact that Linus were wearing glasses, she would slug him, leading Linus to remark, "Glasses are good for your eyes. They keep you from getting punched in them!"