Comic Strip / Sherman's Lagoon
Sherman's Lagoon is a newspaper comic strip by Jim Toomey. Starting in 1991, it is about the adventures of a cast of sea animals in the eponymous lagoon. Sherman is a dimwitted shark who is also a Big Eater of epic proportions, and he has a control-freak wife named Megan. They have a son named Herman. There is Sherman's friend Fillmore, an intelligent but socially awkward turtle who can't seem to find a mate, and his adoptive son Clayton.

Other denizens include Hawthorne, an easily-angered hermit crab who used to wear a beer can but now goes au naturel, and Ernest, a bespectacled teenage fish who is also a computer geek. Up on shore, there's a polar bear named Thornton who hibernates down on the beach. They are ruled over by a deific Moai statue named Kahuna, who occasionally transforms the characters into other things.

Human characters include Captain Quigley, who has it out for Sherman, and an assortment of "hairless beach apes" who often get eaten by Sherman or pinched by Hawthorne.

Unusually for a comic strip, Toomey (with the exception of most Sunday strips) eschews the typical gag-a-day format and prefers longer story-arcs that last at least a week.

This comic shows examples of:

  • Animal Nemesis: A recurring character is the fisherman Captain Quigley, whose leg was eaten by Sherman. He has a Captain Ahab level of determination to catch Sherman.
  • Bank Toaster: In one strip, an octopus is seen thinking about the various options and account choices banks provide, ending his inner monologue with the remark that getting a free toaster used to be so much easier.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Averted with Thornton as all he ever does is sleep and lounge on the beach while drinking martinis.
  • Big Eater: Sherman.
    Fillmore: You would enjoy pain if it were edible!
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The characters are well aware that they are in a comic strip and sometime refer to the passage of time in numbers of panels.
    • Once, Sherman tries to tag along on a trip Hawthorne is taking because "the readers expect it." Hawthorne replies, "Ha! What have the readers ever done for me?"
    • Sherman also once referred to himself as a cartoon character, specifically "A roly-poly cartoon shark suitable for plush toys!"
    • Sherman was once put back on hold by a customer service hotline because although he'd been waiting for days worth of strips, he'd only been waiting for a few hours of story time.
  • Butt-Monkey: Fillmore.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Averted, big time. Sherman and Megan have no qualms eating other talking fish. They don't eat friends, but that's not to say they haven't been tempted...
  • Casanova Wannabe: Fillmore and Hawthorne, although Hawthorne is more than happy to give Fillmore a hard time about it.
  • The Cracker: Ernest uses his computer skills to launch a Mars rover, steal underwear from Baby Gap, and start an 86-minute war between Vermont and Canada.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: In the beginning, there was a seahorse character named Broderick. Now...there isn't. Another example is Jean-Claude the pirate ghost.
  • Eenie, Meenie, Miny Moai: Kahuna.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Sherman has eaten hundreds of fish, hundreds of humans, lots of human food (some of it rotten), a pizza box, a chili pepper that killed 1000 vegetarian piranhas, a bomb, and even a Twinkie!
  • Fat Idiot: Sherman is not only the biggest character in the strip, but also the dumbest.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Flipper Fingers: All of the characters who have flippers or fins, most prominently Fillmore.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: Sherman goes here after being hit with a speedboat.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Ernest
  • Gasshole: In one storyline where Sherman is making a lagoon militia, Bob the Bottom Dweller tries to sign up. When asked what sort of ability he has, Bob responds with a large belch. Sherman comments "Wow! Weapons grade!"
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • A strip in the early 2000s had Sherman say "slut".
    • One story arc involves the characters being embarrassed by a mermaid who doesn't wear a top. Hawthorne even suggests taking pictures of her and putting them online.
  • Green Aesop: Many story arcs involve the conservation of marine life.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Parodied when Megan's necklace was stolen. She screamed about she was now naked, and the others obliged by not looking at her. Megan responded "You could at least act like you want to peek."
  • Humanlike Foot Anatomy: Thornton.
  • Interspecies Friendship: One of the central themes of the strip, although Megan blatantly hints that the only reason why she and Sherman haven't eaten their friends is because other options are plentiful in the lagoon.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Hawthorne may be rude and self-centered, but when the chips are down, he is always there for Sherman.
  • Kids Prefer Boxes: One Sunday strip has Sherman give his son Herman an expensive robot toy, and goes on about how 'Santa' waited hours in line to get one. When he sees Herman playing with the box, he's understandably upset.
  • Kitchen Sink Included: In a battle between Kahuna and fellow deity Apu-Ko-Hai, Apu-Ko-Hai throws a kitchen sink at Kahuna.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: One arc where Hawthorne gets a pair of mind-reading antennae.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Thornton the polar bear, oh so very much. Freshwater animals often pop up in the lagoon, and the characters sometimes swim in freshwater.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Hawthorne frequently wanders around in the nude for the shock factor. Fillmore also occasionally takes off his shell, although he does it to get the shell cleaned or to indulge in a spa day.
  • Parental Abandonment: Ernest doesn't have parents anywhere. This gets lampshaded once by Fillmore.
  • Penny-Pinching Crab: Hawthorne is a greedy and unethical hermit crab who is constantly coming up with questionable schemes to make money. He also gets angry easily (irritable/crabby).
  • Petting Zoo Person: Thornton.
  • Ridiculously Long Phone Hold: There's a storyline where Sherman is on hold for days.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The strip ran a three week story arc where the gang visits the Gulf of Mexico to aid their fellow animals in the Oil Distaster. [1]
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Several obscure animals such as manatees and box jellyfish appear in the series.
    • Though that won't stop Sherman from eating one, if motivated. When visiting the Ganges river, he comes across a Ganges river dolphin, who takes advantage of its protected species status to be as obnoxious as possible. Sherman's response at the end of the strip? "They'll get by with 99. (Burp)"
  • Sewer Gator: A strip had Sherman and Megan lost in New York while on vacation. They get directions from an alligator in the sewer and comment that New York gets a bad rap since the alligator was very polite.
  • Shown Their Work: Many facts about marine life gets thrown in. For example, in one arc Filmore deals with a box jellyfish by cooking it in a casserole and isn't poisoned upon eating it since sea turtles are natural predators of the jellyfish and immune to the effects of the venom.
  • Sphere Eyes
  • Talking Animal
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Megan's pearl necklace.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Sherman and Ernest occasionally have Kahuna transform them into different species when going on vacation together.
  • Weirdness Magnet: The entire lagoon; it's been attacked by swarms of obscure sea-life, a James Bond villain once tried to blow it up, not to mention that the Loch Ness Monster has used it as a vacation site once or twice. At one point, Filmore, in the face of another attack, asks what drives most of these things to "head their way."