Comic Book / Iznogoud

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/iznogoud_english.jpg
Iznogoud and his Catch-Phrase.

There was in Baghdad the Magnificent a grand vizier (5 feet tall in his pointy slippers) named Iznogoud. He was truly nasty and had only one goal...
Iznogoud: I WANT TO BE CALIPH INSTEAD OF THE CALIPH!

Iznogoud (1962-) is a Franco-Belgian Comic book series created by René Goscinny of Astérix fame and illustrated by Jean Tabary (who took over writing the stories after Goscinny's death in 1977; following his retirement, his son Nicolas took over the art while the stories were penned by various writers, including Nicolas' brother Stéphane and sister Muriel). The title character is the scheming, ambitious and power-hungry Grand Vizier of the fictional Caliph Haroun El-Poussah (Haroun El-Plassid in English). His obsession is to depose the Caliph by hook or by crook, and to set himself up as the new Caliph in his stead.

In order to achieve this goal, he tries every dirty trick, but fails every single time due to either uncommonly bad luck or his own greed and incompetence. He is "assisted" by his long-suffering henchman, Dilat Laraht (Wa'at Alahf in the English translations of the comics, Adulahf Alot in the translation of the Animated Adaptation).

The comic was given a 52 episode Animated Adaptation in 1995, along with a live-action film entitled Iznogoud: Calife A La Place Du Califenote  starring Michaël Youn and Jacques Villeret in 2005.


Iznogoud provides examples of the following tropes:

  • 0% Approval Rating:
    • In "Chop and Change", Iznogoud actually manages to become the Caliph by changing bodies with him. However, due to his tyranny, he's overthrown by the people of Baghdad, who think that "everything's been worse since he threw the Grand Vizier in jail". After overthrowing him, the "Grand Vizier" (really the imprisoned Caliph in Iznogoud's body) becomes the new Caliph, thus restoring everything to normal (except the two now have swapped bodies and Iznogoud is in jail, together with Wa'at Alahf, who now has the body of the Caliph's food taster).
    • In Iznogoud Finally Caliph, a conspiracy is formed by the inhabitants of Baghdad to get rid of him. When asked who is in this conspiracy, Wa'at replies to Iznogoud that everyone in Baghdad is, since except for the Caliph, they all hate him.
    • In "Mirror Image", the vizier travels to a Mirror Universe (literally on the other side of a mirror where everything is reversed) and is delighted that every single citizen wants the Caliph's head... except that in the Mirror Universe he is the Caliph.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Although the French version of the 1995 cartoon kept the original names from the comics, the English translation changed several of them. Iznogoud's henchman Wa'at Alahf was re-named Adulahf Alot (still an ironic name for a Deadpan Snarker), while the neighbouring sultan was called Streetcar instead of Pullmankar (Pullman cars being less familiar to younger viewers thanks to the decline of long-distance rail travel), and many of the one-shot characters had their names changed, generally from one play on words to another (the Midas touch-afflicted recluse was called Ghoudas Gho'ld in the comics and Karat in the cartoon).
  • Adipose Rex: Caliph Haroun El-Plassid, the jovial and benign ruler, is a Big Eater and spends most of his days sleeping, making him quite obese.
  • Anachronism Stew:
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba:
    • In the animated version of the story "Incognito", Iznogoud persuades the sultan to go out dressed as a beggar to satisfy his desire to see what his subjects think of him, then orders the palace guards to arrest any beggars who arrive at the gates, whoever they say they are. However, the sultan gets lost on the way back, and Iznogoud and his henchman Adulahf disguise themselves as beggars to go out and look for him. The sultan ends up returning while the guard is changing and so slips past them unnoticed, while when Iznogoud returns and insists he's the grand vizier, the guard on duty chuckles, "And I'm the Queen of Sheba!"
    • "Nuts' Day", the animated version of the comic "The Day of Misrule", sees servants become masters and masters become servants for a day; Iznogoud, in a bid to make his temporary promotion to sultan permanent, tries to rouse the people into making Nuts' Day a year-round event, but they insist he is too rich to lead a people's revolt. So he gives his fortune to Adulahf and sells himself into slavery for free, only to discover that midnight has struck and Nuts' Day is over, whereupon he is arrested as a runaway slave. He protests that he is really the grand vizier, and the two guards transporting him fire back, "And we're Solomon and the Queen of Sheba!"
    • In the animated version of "The Labyrinth", Iznogoud is about to paint a sign on the magic labyrinth in which he plans to permanently trap the sultan (who keeps getting distracted by other games and activities) when a policeman walks up and fines him for vandalism. Iznogoud tries to explain to the policeman that he is the grand vizier, and so outranks the policeman; the unimpressed policeman retorts, "And I'm the Queen of Sheba!"
  • Animated Adaptation: In 1995, fifty-two of the Goscinny-penned stories from 1962-77 were turned into 11-minute shorts for a TV cartoon series that ran for one season.
  • Arabian Nights/Days: The Baghdad in which the series is set owes more to an Affectionate Parody of Arabian Nights than to historical accuracy.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Played for laughs with Wa'at, who outright says in "Iznogoud on Thin Ice" that while flying carpets and magicians are perfectly acceptable facts to him, a woman able to freeze people with her face is ridiculous.
  • Artifact of Doom: Once per Episode, Iznogoud acquires a bizarre magical artifact which the vendor assures will arrange a Fate Worse Than Death for a victim of his choice. No points for guessing ahead of time that it will backfire horribly on Iznogoud himself. Just to name a few examples:
    • In "Dark Designs", Inzogoud acquires a magic pencil; when he draws a picture of someone or something and then tears the paper in half, the subject of the picture is banished to an alternate dimension. He can't get the spell to work until he takes art classes, and during an idle moment, his teacher sketches Iznogoud. When Iznogoud's art skills have finally improved, he sketches the Caliph and tears the page in half... unaware his teacher's sketch of him is on the other side of the page, so that they are both banished, and the Caliph ends up as sovereign of the island to which they were sent.
    • "The Box of Souvenirs" sees the title object, a camera, sold to Iznogoud by Japanese tourist Judoka Karate; when he takes a picture of someone or something with the camera, that someone or something is trapped forever in the photograph that results. Every time Iznogoud tries to take the Caliph's picture, someone or something gets in the way and disappears instead, and when he finally gets the Caliph alone, he is standing in front of a mirror and bends down at the crucial moment, causing Iznogoud to take a picture of his own reflection and disappear.
    • The title character in "The Merchant of Forgetfulness", Mumbaijumbo, sells Iznogoud a perfume which, when sniffed, causes instant and total amnesia in the victim. Iznogoud sprinkles it on the Caliph's flowers and food and finally puts it in an atomiser, but they are all sniffed by other people before the Caliph can get to them, and inevitably, the final victim is Iznogoud himself, who is left an empty shell.
    • In "The Jigsaw Turk", Iznogoud buys a 10,000 piece jigsaw from joke shop merchant Dokodah Bey; when the last piece is put in, the person of whom the puzzler is thinking will disintegrate into 10,000 pieces. There's one problem: there's a piece missing, which Iznogoud and Wa'at Alahf have to retrieve from the factory, several days' journey away. After several further failed attempts to finish the puzzle, Iznogoud is forced to retrieve the missing piece from the palace bins; meanwhile, Dokodah Bey has found the missing piece in his shop, but the Caliph is the one who takes delivery of it, and Iznogoud returns with his own copy of the missing piece... just in time to see the Caliph put the last piece in, beaming that he's always thinking of Iznogoud. The luckless vizier disintegrates immediately.
  • Bad Boss: Iznogoud routinely mistreats Wa'at Alahf, using him as a guinea pig for every potion or spell he plans to use to get rid of the Caliph, in which capacity the hapless henchman has been turned invisible, turned into a frog, turned into a walking disaster magnet, shrunk down to a height of mere inches, made so light that he floats away unless he is carrying a boulder, trapped in an inescapable magic maze, rendered catatonic, rendered an amnesiac shell, and repeatedly banished to alternate dimensions.
  • Bad Luck Charm:
    • The title object in "The Unlucky Diamond" brings very bad luck (your chair collapses, the doorknob snaps off in your hand, rooftiles fall on you in the middle of the desert) to the holder; Iznogoud takes it from the beggar desperately trying to get rid of it, intending to present it as a gift to the caliph. Of course, it's a Clingy MacGuffin, and things only get worse.
    • In another episode he buys a lucky charm medal from a vendor who has suffered horribly mutilating bad luck streaks, claiming "only his medal could save him!" Thinking the vendor out of his mind, he buys one from him to give the caliph as a gift... not realizing that the medal does work exactly as advertised (the vendor got all his mutilations before he was given his medal) and the Caliph has already been wearing one for years!
  • Baleful Polymorph: One of Iznogoud's favourite types of scheme involves using a magic spell or object to transform the Caliph into an animal or object. Invariably, the spell will backfire and transform him instead. Just to give a few examples:
    • "Likhwid's Bottle, or the Bottle of Likhwid" has Iznogoud buying an elixir, one drop of which will turn the drinker into a woodlouse. What he doesn't learn until the sale is complete is that it's the last drop in a gigantic jug, and the disgusting elixir itself must be consumed undiluted. The vizier finds various ways to trick/force the Caliph into drinking endless bowls of the stuff, but when there is one drop left, inevitably it is Iznogoud who drinks it and turns into a woodlouse after he faints and the well-meaning Caliph tries to revive him with it.
    • "Kissmet" features one of the classic examples of a Baleful Polymorph: a frog curse that can only be reversed by a kiss which turns the kisser into a frog. Iznogoud is surprised when it takes no subterfuge whatever to get the Caliph to kiss the frog suffering from the curse, whereupon the Caliph turns into a frog and the frog turns into a prince... who decides to claim the throne for himself and have the vizier executed. But the spell has a wrinkle: if a cursed frog kisses a human, both will turn into frogs. By the end of the story, Iznogoud has had to get himself a stay of execution by kissing the frog Caliph, leaving himself, Wa'at Alahf, and the prince all stuck as frogs.
    • "The Doggy Flute" sees the title object used by a Chinese wizard to turn rude people into dogs, so Iznogoud gets hold of it to use on the Caliph. But when he can't remember the tune he needs to play to turn him into a dog, his practising causes polymorphic chaos all over Baghdad, doubly so when he turns the animals back into humans (who are not happy to have been transformed). Unsurprisingly, the story ends with the flute being used to turn Iznogoud himself into a dog.
    • In "Fairy Tale", Iznogoud contracts apprentice fairy Blunderbell to turn him into the Caliph, but she gets it wrong and turns the Caliph into Iznogoud instead, then both Iznogouds into Caliphs, and finally she ends up turning Iznogoud and his (accidentally created) clone into clothes irons.
  • Barely Missed Cushion: In "Good Sports in the Caliphate", Iznogoud and the Caliph both wind up on a sled, descending a slope at high speed towards a building.
    Narrator: Fortunately, there is a door. And fortunately, it is open.
    [next panel: sled crashes to the right of the door, Iznogoud cushioning for the Caliph]
    Narrator: Unfortunately, it's a little to the left.
  • Beard of Evil: Iznogoud is the only one of the three primary characters to have a beard (Wa'at Alahf has a moustache and stubble, the Caliph is clean shaven), and is by far the most evil of the three.
  • Big Shadow, Little Creature: The opening of the Animated Adaptation of shows a large, menacing shadowy figure climbing the steps of the sultan's (yes, he's a caliph in the comics, but a sultan in the cartoon) palace while a voice says 'Good... Good... Good'. Then when it reaches the top, it is finally shown that the figure is actually the short but menacing titular Grand Vizier, and the voice finishes by saying 'Iz No Goud'.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Iznogoud tries to be this toward the Caliph. He is terrible at it, but the Caliph is so oblivious it still works anyway.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The characters, Iznogoud and Wa'at Alahf especially, regularly turn to address the reader directly or have conversations with the narration or otherwise acknowledge that they are comic book characters. For example, at the end of "The Caliph's Sceptre", Iznogoud is left trapped in the password-protected chamber containing the title object, unable to remember the correct password. He finally turns to the readers and asks if they remember it - "And no turning back pages!"
  • Captain Oblivious: The Caliph. A well-meaning and debonair ruler, he never suspects a thing.
  • Catch-Phrase: "I want to be Caliph instead of the Caliph!" This has even become a common phrase in France to refer to someone who is overly ambitious. Iznogoud would occasionally turn this into a Mad Libs Catch Phrase; for example, in "The Giants' Island", when he and Wa'at Alahf become, respectively, a bishop and a knight in a game of Human Chess, the vizier grumbles that he wants to be king instead of the king.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: When the series was taken over by Tabary after Goscinny's death; while the stories remained mostly comical, they switched from eight to twelve page vignettes to 40+ page adventures more akin to Astérix, with Iznogoud occasionally switching from Villain Protagonist to Anti-Hero.
  • Characterization Marches On: The Caliph's chamberlain introduced in Iznogoud's Birthday was initially not specifically aggressive to Iznogoud and starts acting antagonistic toward him as a reaction to his anger and obnoxiousness. When the same chamberlain is reintroduced in later comics, he is portrayed as being basically Iznogoud's Arch-Enemy who is trying to protect the Caliph against his overthrowing attempts. Being jailed at the end of Iznogoud's Birthday didn't help as well (although Iznogoud had good reasons to do that, to be fair).
  • The Chew Toy: Iznogoud's scheming makes him a magnet for comic disaster, usually thanks to his schemes backfiring on him. Whatever trap he tries to set for the Caliph - a one-way rocket into space, a portal to an alternate dimension, a potion to turn him into a Baleful Polymorph - he'll end up falling into it himself.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Iznogoud's cruelty and Mean Boss tendencies towards Wa'at Alahf are entirely played for laughs.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Iznogoud's attempt to convince a meteorologist into helping him.
    Iznogoud: I'll shower you with gold... (shows a coin) that much gold!
  • Creator Cameo: Goscinny and especially Tabary made occasional cameo appearances in the series.
    • In "The Time Machine", the time-travelling scientist who suddenly appears in the palace is drawn to look like Jean Tabary.
    • The title object in "The Magic Calendar" transports Iznogoud forward through time when he tears off pages; he tears off too many and ends up in Tabary's studio in the 20th century.
    • In "Dark Designs", when Iznogoud's art skills are not good enough to trigger a magic pencil and paper that makes anyone drawn with it disappear when the paper is torn in half, he takes art lessons from Tahbari al-Tardi (Tabary being noted for his inability to keep to a schedule).
    • Jean Tabary is one of the unfortunate victims of the title object in "The Box of Souvenirs", a camera that traps people and objects in its photographs, as we discover when Wa'at Alahf presents an exhibition of the camera's output after his boss inevitably gets himself trapped in a photograph.
  • Crossover: In "The Magic Carpet", Captain Haddock reminds the readers that Iznogoud wants to be Caliph instead of the Caliph.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Comically inverted; Iznogoud looks, acts and IS definitely Obviously Evil, and people of Baghdad are perfectly aware of his desire to overthrow the Caliph... but the Caliph himself never suspects a thing, instead seeing Iznogoud as a devoted, good, trustworthy friend. He even once admitted he often received anonymous letters trying to warn him about it, but never believed them. Ironically, the Caliph is the only person Iznogoud bothers acting good with.
  • Eureka Moment: Evil characters also can have this, as Iznogoud proves:
    Iznogoud: Do you have an idea how I could get rid of the Caliph, Wa'at Alahf?
    Wa'at Alahf: Sir, I'd rather feed my tongue to a cat!
    Iznogoud: [thinking] Tongue to a cat... the cat is a predator... the tiger is also a predator... the tiger is a man-eater... the Caliph is a man... so the tiger is a Caliph-eater!`
    Iznogoud: [aloud] That's a great idea of you, organizing a tiger hunt!
    Wa'at Alahf: A tiger hunt? Me? What?
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Iznogoud might be a cruel, petty, greedy and ambitious Evil Chancellor, but he is disgusted when he catches his executioner trying to get himself paid for mercy, and delivers a speech saying mercy should never be bought.
  • Evil Chancellor: Iznogoud is a quintessential example of this trope. Second only to the Caliph himself in the ruling hierarchy, and determined to get rid of the Caliph so that he can be second to nobody. The kind but dim-witted Caliph never suspects a thing.
  • Evil Is Petty: When Iznogoud first sees the current owner of the title object in "The Unlucky Diamond" seemingly begging on a street corner, he is not amused:
    Iznogoud: A beggar!? I thought I'd outlawed begging, it encourages charity!
  • Exotic Extended Marriage: The practice of polygyny is carried over from some real life Islamic cultures into the world of Iznogoud; Caliph Haroun el-Plassid has multiple wives and dozens of children (so many that he can't reliably remember all of their names), as does Sultan Pullmankar. In "A Calculated Risk", the Caliph and Sultan Pullmankar sign a marriage contract engaging the Caliph's 37th son to the Sultan's 42nd daughter.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Iznogoud's schemes to depose the Caliph are destined always to end in failure, usually with the vizier himself much worse off than before. It even gets lampshaded in the theme song for the animated adaptation.
    Iznogoud the Grand Vizier. He never wins, this much is clear.
  • Fat Idiot: Haroun El-Plassid eats many large meals and gets almost no exercise, preferring to spend his days sleeping, and is clueless enough to trust the Obviously Evil Iznogoud absolutely with any and all decisions about how to run the country. He displays occasional evidence of having a good memory and knowledge base, but he has no common sense whatsoever.
  • Flat Joy: In the animated episode "State Visit", the "enthusiastic crowd" assembled to acclaim the visiting sultan sound thoroughly bored as they say, "Hurray. Hurray. Long live Haroun el-Plassid. Hurray. Hurray. Long live Iznogoud." Similarly, the "ruthless crowd" watching the imprisoned Iznogoud on public display at the end of the episode are almost as listless as they say, "Boo. Boo. Get rid of Grand Vizier Iznogoud."
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: The artist himself was killed or petrified several times while drawing the magical effect of that week's Artifact of Doom.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: In "Chop and Change", a wizard invents a magic bowl: whenever two people drink consecutively from it, they exchange souls. Hilarity Ensues when this new invention gets tested by several patrons in an inn, just for fun. One of the catches is that it doesn't have to be actually people who drink: animals count too. (The wizard himself ends up in the body of a parrot.) Or even inanimate objects, for that matter.
  • Genie in a Bottle: The title character in "The Genie" lives in a pair of slippers, actually. And a pretty shoddy genie he is too.
  • Genre Blindness: How long will it take for Iznogoud to understand that the problem in his quest for power is not Wa'at Alahf, but himself?
  • Gone Horribly Right: In the story "Scandal in Baghdad", Iznogoud hires scandalmonger Leguenn Scandales to discredit the Caliph by planting a fake story in the newspapers that he has an illegitimate child whom he abandoned at birth, and soon, the whole country (except, inevitably, for the Caliph himself) has heard the news. The plan backfires when over three hundred people come forward claiming to be the Caliph's illegitimate child, including Wa'at Alahf and a woman old enough to be the Caliph's mother, and the kindly Caliph adopts them all.
  • Good Is Dumb: The Caliph. He might be the nicest person on Earth, but God is he stupid.
  • Gratuitous English
    • "Iznogoud" = English "is no good". Also a Meaningful Name and a Punny Name.
    • In Les Cauchemars d'Iznogoud, he has a son named "Izveribad".
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The Guards ARE Crazy!
  • Heavy Sleeper: The Caliph spends much of his time contentedly asleep. His advisors know he's worried when he turns in his sleep more than twice a day.
  • Helping Granny Cross the Street: The Caliph encounters an old man who wants to get to the other side of the street. The Caliph helps him, then the old man wants to get back to the starting point because that's now the other side of the street.
  • He Went That Way: "The Sinister Liquidator" features a variant in which Iznogoud tries to use the cursed water of a swamp djinn to become Caliph instead of the Caliph; anyone who touches the water disappears into it. Of course, while trying to get the water to the Caliph, more and more people (and a camel) touch or even drink the water, and Iznogoud keeps repeating the name of this trope when people wonder where they went. Finally, the Caliph's goldfish keeper tries putting his charge in the water, and when he wonders where the goldfish went... Actually, both Iznogoud and his henchman say this. While pointing in the opposite directions. Of course, this being Iznogoud, no one notices.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Iznogoud could be considered one of the historical and legendary figure Ja'far ibn Yahya al-Barmaki, vizier to the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid (notice the similarity with the Caliph's name). Far from being a scheming Evil Chancellor, the real Ja'far al-Barmaki was a patron of the sciences who introduced new ideas from India and China into Baghdad and persuaded the caliph to open the Middle East's first paper mill in the late 8th/early 9th centuries, and was actually a heroic protagonist in several of the Arabian Nights tales. He eventually fell out of favour with the caliph and was beheaded in 803, a turn of events that would be unthinkable in the world of Iznogoud in which the Caliph trusts his vizier absolutely despite all evidence that he should not.note 
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Almost every story ends this way. Whatever magical object or scheme Iznogoud concocts to get rid of the Caliph, he'll end up falling victim to the scheme himself (leaving him imprisoned, Taken for Granite, turned into a Baleful Polymorph, trapped in another dimension, etc.). As if to add insult to injury, sometimes the Caliph will also fall into the trap - and quickly find a way out (often by accident) that won't work for Iznogoud.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: In "The Magic Doll", the sorcerer of a visiting African king gives Iznogoud a clay doll which, when a hair from the intended target is placed in it, can be used to make the target experience whatever the doll experiences. The initial demonstrations simply involve tickling the doll (reducing the usual guinea pig, Wa'at Alahf, to helpless laughter), but Iznogoud wants to put one of the Caliph's hairs in the doll before smashing it. Unsurprisingly, when the doll is thrown high into the air and shatters on the ground during a squabble between Iznogoud and the sorcerer, it is wearing Iznogoud's own hair, and the luckless vizier ends up in a full body cast.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: The Caliph has Iznogoud - a man who tries to carry out an evil scheme to get rid of him on any day ending in "Y" - as his grand vizier and most trusted adviser. You do the math.
  • How We Got Here: The story "Iznogoud Rockets to Stardom" starts with Iznogoud being a "strange satellite in orbit". Then the readers get to see how it happened.
  • Human Chess: In "The Giants' Island", Iznogoud hears the title place is inhabited by two man-eating giants. He tricks the Caliph into coming with him to the island, and they find out that the giants are vegetarians. Then Iznogoud asks the giants what they did to the thirty sailors of the man who told him about the island. The giants reply that with Iznogoud, Wa'at Alahf, and the Caliph's arrival, their set is complete, although they have one extra, so the Caliph is sent home as Iznogoud, Wa'at, and the thirty sailors are put to work as a living chess set.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Iznogoud, by the same writer as Astérix, has an even higher pun-to-panel ratio, starting with the title of the comic (and main character). That's only the tip of the iceberg; the comic is full of puns in almost every page, which is often lampshaded by Iznogoud, who cannot stand them.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Wa'at Alahf, Iznogoud's henchman. While he acts and looks dumb most of the time, he tends to have sudden Let's Get Dangerous! moments where he reveals he can be very competent when needed. He's also far more lucid than his master about the fact they can't win.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: "Mesmer-Eyezed" sees Iznogoud contracting a stage hypnotist who can make anyone think they are anything (usually an animal) by looking into his eyes. However, clapping breaks the spell, so when the vizier tries to get the hypnotist to make the Caliph think he is a donkey, suddenly they are unable to get away from people making clapping noises. Frustrated that Iznogoud refuses to pay him, the hypnotist makes him think he is a rattlesnake - a deaf rattlesnake who cannot hear the clapping that would break the spell...
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • In a beach story, Iznogoud falls into a hole covered by a towel and sprains an ankle. The hole turns out to be a prank pulled by a boy whose father berates Iznogoud for not liking "childish pranks". Inspired by the prank, Iznogoud tries to get rid of the Caliph with a similar hole but instead gets the boy's father, who angrily shouts "I'LL TEACH YOU TO PLAY STUPID PRACTICAL JOKES!".
    • As part of a plan to become Caliph instead of the Caliph, Iznogoud tricks a porter whose role as Iznogoud's Unwitting Pawn will get him decapitated if the plan works. The porter turns out to be Sultan Pullmankar's long-lost daughter under a spell cast by a magician she refused to marry. Sultan Pullmankar changes from being amused at the idea of decapitating someone to wanting to behead Iznogoud for trying to do it to his daughter.
  • Identical Stranger: "The Lookalike" revolves around Iznogoud attempting to use Aristides Kingsizos, a merchant who looks just like the Caliph, to replace the potentate and announce his abdication in favour of the vizier, only for the lookalike and the genuine article to meet and befriend each other over a game of cards (or boules - more precisely, petanque - in the cartoon). At the end of the story, the merchant's partner comes looking for him, and he looks exactly like Iznogoud.
  • Impossibly Compact Folding: In Iznogoud's Birthday, he opens a very small box and extracts a small piece of paper and proceeds to unfold it (it's so small that he needs a magnifying glass to start to unfold it). When completely unfolded, the paper is several metres large. Of course, the box had been given to him by the guild of mages...
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Iznogoud the Infamous, the ever-scheming but hapless Grand Vizier to the Caliph, who merely wants "to become Caliph instead of the Caliph."
  • Ironic Name: To quote Wa'at Alahf's mini-biography from the beginning of each book, "This fellow, despite his name, didn't laugh very often."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk:
    • Often played for laughs, where the title character, an Evil Chancellor trying to overthrow his Caliph and possessing seemingly no redeeming qualities, often willingly saves his assistant Wa'at Alahf from certain death, only to reveal when thanked by him that he did so because he required his help for things such as carrying important files or cleaning his shoes. In contrast, he often is willing to use Wa'at as a lab rat for his various plans.
    • In "Iznogoud's Childhood", Wa'at Alahf asks him his motivations for being Caliph in the place of the Caliph:
      Iznogoud: To make reforms! For example, this law to cut off a fruits thief's hand is totally absurd! That will never stop him from stealing fruits: we need to cut off both of his hands!
    • During "Who Killed the Caliph", Iznogoud seems to actually care for Wa'at and saves him from execution after he has been mistaken for a spy. He catches the Executioner trying to get Wa'at to pay him for mercy, and angrily states that mercy should not be bought. He then notices a tortured prisoner and orders the Executioner to release him, causing Wa'at to wonder if he's having pity after all... then he appoints the prisoner new Executioner, and orders him to torture the former one.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch:
    • The three Caliph's brothers that Iznogoud made disappear. While Troiround wasn't really developed enough to say if he was evil or not, Dheround was truly a bully that kept making deadly pranks to Iznogoud and mocking him for his small size and big nose. Katround was even worse, being a crazy man obsessed with making people disappear and attempting to literally erase Baghdad (including his well-intentioned older brother).
    • A more obvious example in Who Killed the Caliph, where he has the Executioner (a greedy, sadistic man asking his childhood friend Wa'at Alahf a bribe for his mercy) tortured by his own previous victim.
  • King Incognito: This is the premise of "Incognito"; Iznogoud has been taxing the citizens of Baghdad into poverty, and persuades the Caliph to go out dressed as a beggar to learn what his people think of him. While he is gone, Iznogoud orders the guards to arrest all beggars trying to enter the palace, whatever reason they give. The Caliph is horrified to learn of how much his people are suffering from the excessive taxes and decides to make immediate reforms when he returns to the palace, but he gets lost trying to return. The impatient Iznogoud disguises himself and Wa'at Alahf as beggars to go looking for the Caliph... who gets the idea to ask passers-by to direct him to the palace and returns while the guard is changing, thus escaping detection. The Caliph resumes his position as ruler and makes good on his promise of immediate reforms, while Iznogoud and Wa'at Alahf are arrested trying to re-enter the palace thanks to Iznogoud's own decree.
  • Klatchian Coffee: In "The Send-away Bed", the Caliph, who doesn't usually drink coffee, is forced to share a cup of Turkish coffee with the new ambassador or face war between their countries, and ends up with a severe case of insomnia. This scuppers Iznogoud's plans to get him to lie down on the title piece of furniture (which will send him away to an alternate dimension), even after barraging the Caliph with lullabies and a very boring book.
  • Klingon Promotion: This is Iznogoud's entire motivation and modus operandi: as Grand Vizier, he'll take over if the Caliph dies, hence his oft-repeated Catch-Phrase "I want to be Caliph instead of the Caliph!".
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Happens to Iznogoud in almost every episode. Whatever trap he's trying to set for the Caliph, he's the one who will fall into it, so that he ends up blasted into space, trapped in the Stone Age or the 20th century or an alternate dimension, turned into a dog or a frog or a woodlouse or a gold-plated statue or a photograph, turned invisible, and so on and so forth. One particularly memorable example happens in "Scandal in Baghdad" when he has a scandalmonger who can literally sniff out scandals plant a fake story in the papers about the Caliph having an abandoned illegitimate child. When the plan backfires, Iznogoud jails the scandalmonger... who sniffs out that Iznogoud himself has three secret children whom he had imprisoned so that he didn't have to deal with them - and when Iznogoud is jailed for being a deadbeat dad, the family reunion is far from happy...
  • Leader Wannabe: Iznogoud and his "I want to be caliph in the caliph's place!"
  • Legacy Vessel Naming: "The Caliph's Cruise" starts with a sailor whose ship is named Shipwreck XXVII, the first 26 having been, well, shipwrecked. Iznogound books a cruise on the ship for the Caliph the next day, by which time the sailor has already had to move on to the Shipwreck XXVIII.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Unless he makes a point of wearing a disguise, Iznogoud is always depicted in the same outfit.
  • Literal Genie: The title character in "The Genie" is summoned by rubbing a pair of slippers. He fulfills not only every wish, but every statement that the summoning character pronounces. Hilarity Ensues, especially if the statement is a curse of surprise.
  • Literal Metaphor: In "Incognito", Iznogoud is said to be "cold and calculating". He mentally calculates that 5,763,257*312,418=1,800,545,225,426.
  • Lost in Translation:
    • As with most René Goscinny-scripted comics, the dialogue in Iznogoud relies heavily on puns and wordplay which don't translate well into other languages, forcing the translators to either come up with puns that do make sense in their language or change the dialogue so that the density of jokes is the same but they don't happen in the same place. For example, the title story in the album Des astres pour Iznogoud translates as "Stars for Iznogoud", but is a homophone of "Désastres pour Iznogoud", meaning "Disasters for Iznogoud". The title was rendered in English as "Iznogoud Rockets to Stardom".note 
    • One of the wax statues Iznogoud brings to life in "The Wax Museum" is real life Bluebeard Henri Landru; he is uninterested in bumping off the Caliph since he specialises in killing women, so he brings a waxwork of Lucrezia Borgia to life instead, and they go off together, each plotting the other's demise. In the English translation of the Animated Adaptation, the waxwork is identified instead as Jack the Ripper (with the number of his victims changed from 11 to 5 accordingly), since Landru is not as well-known in the English-speaking world, but the waxwork still looks like Landru, and since Jack the Ripper's identity - and appearance - are a mystery, we have no idea if it looks like him.
    • Oddly played straight and averted in Finland. Finland being possibly one of three countries that changed Iznogoud's name (the other ones are Poland - where he was named as Wezyr Nic-po-nim, but this translation was used only in Polish dub of the comic's Animated Adaptation - and Italy, where he was named Gran Bailam, again only in the cartoon), plenty of jokes about his name (is no good) instantly become void, and the tone of the whole series is somewhat changed around his Finnish name - Ahmed Ahne (lit. "Ahmed Greedy").
  • Magic Carpet: Such a common means of transportation that the Caliphate has an entire air force of 'em.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Iznogoud is a phonetic spelling of "is no good" in French.
    • Wa'at Alahf, a.k.a. Dilat Laraht, i.e. "dilate la rate", refers to laughing uproariously in French — for an extremely Deadpan Snarker character.
    • The Caliph's brothers Dheround, Troiround and Katround translate to "Two-round", "Three-round" and "Four-round" respectively. Note that the Caliph's first name is "Haroun" (the Arabic version of "Aaron"); since you don't pronounce the "H" in French, it sounds like "a-roun(d)" and is also an example of Family Theme Naming.
    • In the German translation, the henchman is named Tunichgud (do-no-good).
  • Misleading Package Size: In Iznogoud's Birthday, Iznogoud is given a box that contains a chain of boxes, the key point being that each box is bigger than the one containing it.
  • The Napoleon: Iznogoud is vertically challenged ("5 feet tall in his pointy slippers", to quote the characters page that opens each volume), and overcompensates with his ambition and bad temper.
  • Negative Continuity: Many, many stories end with Iznogoud seemingly irrevocably ruined, like being thrown into the dungeons, trapped in the far East, erased from existence or sent to another planet. It never stops him from trying again. In a notable exception, the album Les Retours d'Iznogoud (Iznogoud's Returns) tries to explain how things returned to normal after some of the vizier's most infamous adventures. It does not always work, as many of those returns end with Iznogoud in an equally uncomfortable situation. That just raises further questions!
  • Nepotism: As "Scandal in Baghdad" opens, the scandalmonger who offers his services to Iznogoud demonstrates his abilities by sniffing out the fact that the guard on duty got his job through family connections. It quickly emerges that almost all of the palace guards are related to each other somehow, and all got their jobs that way!
  • Noble Demon: Sultan Pullmankar is mostly known as a ruthless conquerer and a terrifying enemy, but he has a lot of rules (including always sparing his enemy's generals), is very affable to the Caliph when they are allied, and is shown to be a pretty good father.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Several stories see Iznogoud's downfall resulting from his decision to ignore someone (usually the Caliph) who is trying to tell him something important while he tries to carry out his latest scheme to become Caliph instead of the Caliph.
    • In "The Mysterious Billposter", in attempting to trap the Caliph in a magic poster advertising holidays on a tropical island, Iznogoud has got himself trapped in the poster as well, and he keeps sending the Caliph away on walks so that he can escape unnoticed. As each escape plan fails, the Caliph keeps returning to tell Iznogoud about the strange things he has seen, and the increasingly angry Iznogoud keeps dismissing him. Eventually, the Caliph takes the hint and leaves, surprised that Iznogoud doesn't want to hear that he's found another person in the poster world: the billposter who created the magic poster to begin with, and who is now putting up a second poster of the Caliph's bedroom which he tries out on the Caliph. Sure enough, the Caliph re-appears in his own world, while Iznogoud is reduced to ordering Wa'at Alahf to shove him backwards repeatedly in the hope that he'll fall out of the poster again.
    • In "The Strong-Arm Men", Iznogoud hires two men to take the Caliph away but it takes a long time before they have a chance to do it without any witnesses around. When the time arrives, the Caliph tries to tell Iznogoud something but is completely ignored. It turns out the Caliph borrowed Iznogoud's money for a fundraiser and Iznogoud can't pay the strong-arm men. In retaliation, they take him instead of the Caliph away.
    • In "The Merchant of Forgetfulness", when Iznogoud tries to spray an amnesia scent on the Caliph, he ignores the latter's complaints about the open window. A gust of wind blows the potion on Iznogoud's face, wiping his mind and memory completely.
  • Not Right in the Bed: A guy who can impersonate others (he changes his face whenever he puts on one of his magical masks). Subverted because the wife of the real guy actually prefers him.
  • "Not Wearing Pants" Dream: In "The Tartar's Talisman", the title object makes the wearer's dreams come true, so naturally, Iznogoud has a naked dream while wearing it. And then, the irascible sultan Pullmankar enters.
  • Obviously Evil: He has a Sinister Schnoz, Beard of Evil, permanent angry scowl, and primarily red and black wardrobe. The only way Iznogoud could make it more obvious that he's evil is to wear a big neon sign saying "EVIL". (And even that wouldn't be enough to tip off the Caliph.)
  • Oh, Crap!: Iznogoud gets this look in several stories when he realises the scheme he has concocted to get rid of the Caliph is about to backfire on him, and he has no way to stop it. For example, in "The Jigsaw Turk", joke shop owner Dokodah Bey sells Iznogoud a magic jigsaw puzzle which, when the last piece is put in, causes the object of the puzzler's thoughts to disintegrate into 10,000 pieces. However, there is a piece missing, and Iznogoud has to retrieve a new one from the factory; several further misunderstandings lead the replacement to be thrown away as rubbish. While the vizier is rooting through the palace dustbins, Dokodah Bey delivers the missing piece, which he found in his shop, to the Caliph. Iznogoud finds the replacement missing piece and returns triumphant to his bedroom - where he finds the Caliph, about to put in the original missing piece and benevolently remarking that he's always thinking of Iznogoud. The vizier can only stare in panicked horror as the Caliph completes the puzzle and causes Iznogoud to disintegrate into a pile of jigsaw puzzle pieces.
  • Opposite Day: In "The Day of Misrule" (and its cartoon version, "Nuts' Day"), masters become servants and servants become masters for a day, which makes Iznogoud Caliph until midnight. He scrambles to make the inversion permanent before then, but when he gives Wa'at Alahf his fortune and sells himself into slavery to persuade the people to rally behind him, midnight strikes and he is arrested as a runaway slave.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Tahbari al-Tardi is described as the best artist in the Caliphate. It's also stated he's the only artist in the Caliphate.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Iznogoud's idea of disguising himself as a pumpkin seller is to carry a pumpkin around. And it works, too. It works so well his own guards won't let him back into the palace until he drops the pumpkin!
  • Pillow Pistol: One story has Iznogoud buy a set containing a pair of magic shoes, a gun that makes their wearer run in a straight line when fired, and a "finish" flag that is the only thing that can stop the shoes. The night before the big day, Iznogoud sleeps with the gun under his pillow, bound with a wrist strap. This doesn't stop a vengeful character from hiding the magic shoes within Iznogoud's baggy regular shoes.
  • Pinball Zone: Extremely rare comic book example: one chapter has Iznogoud trapped in a pinball-machine wasteland.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Wa'at Alahf only goes along with Iznogoud's schemes because he's employed by him; he's indifferent to the question of who actually rules Baghdad, and has long since realised that his boss' plans to become Caliph instead of the Caliph are doomed to failure.
  • Punny Name: René Goscinny was able to let his fondness for puns run more rampant in Iznogoud than in any other comic for which he wrote the scripts (artist Jean Tabary was just as fond of puns as Goscinny), and the names were no exception; the title character's name is even already a pun in English. Then there's his deadpan lackey, Dilat Laraht (a homonym of "dilate la rate", an idiom roughly meaning "burst into laughter"), or Wa'at Alahf as he's known in English. Other punny names in English include the Caliph, Haroun El-Plassid (and a more placid person is hard to imagine), inventor Ahstroh Nautikahl (inventor of the rocket that Iznogoud tries to use to send the Caliph into space), and elixir merchant Likhwid (who sells Iznogoud a foul-tasting likhwid - er, liquid - one drop of which turns the drinker into a woodlouse; a pity the drop in question is the last drop in a three-gallon jug).
  • Regent for Life: In "The Malefic Hopscotch Grid", Iznogoud plans to use the titular grid to turn the Caliph into a kid so he can rule Baghdad as a regent.
  • Riches to Rags: When "The Unlucky Diamond" opens, the diamond's current owner was once a rich man, but after being given the cursed diamond for refusing to give food to a magician disguised as a beggar, he lost his house, his family, his money, everything. After he palms off the diamond on Iznogoud (who plans to give the jewel to the Caliph, only to discover it is a Clingy MacGuffin), his fortunes are restored almost immediately - as is his original haughty, "I've done my good deed for the day!" personality.
  • Rule of Three: Iznogoud once bought a magic catalogue that allows him to obtain items from the future but cannot use it more than three times.
  • Selective Enforcement: In "Official Trip", Iznogoud tries repeatedly to have the Caliph commit a diplomatic faux-pas with the Sultan Pulmankar which would force him to either step down, resign his position or possibly even be killed on the spot by the outraged sultan. Everything the vizier suggests, however, results in the Caliph getting a cheerful, happy response for somehow following some bizarre and obscure tradition of his visiting guests. Then Iznogoud says "drat" in response to the last one, which results in the sultan angrily taking offense to that word and demanding the vizier's life in slavery lest war be declared on the spot. The Caliph gleefully agrees, insisting that "his good vizier would surely agree in the interest of peace." Gilligan Cut to Iznogoud jailed and angrily trying to escape.
  • Shout-Out: In "The Wax Museum", Iznogoud brings a wax statue of Marcus Junius Brutus to life to bump off the Caliph, but the famous assassin of Caesar falls afoul of a caveman whom Iznogoud previously brought to life. When Brutus begins arguing with Iznogoud, Wa'at Alahf turns to the readers and twirls his finger around his head while muttering, "These Romans are crazy!", the Catch-Phrase of fellow Goscinny creation Obelix the Gaul.
  • Sinister Schnoz: Just look at him. The most evil character in the comics, and he has the longest nose of any character.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: When the comics debuted in the Franco-Belgian magazine Record in 1962, they were titled The Adventures of Caliph Haroun el Poussah. It was quickly realised that Iznogoud was a much more interesting central character, and the comic's focus, and title, were transferred to him.
  • The Starscream: Grand Vizier Iznogoud, who wants to become "Caliph instead of the Caliph" (although the Caliph isn't really that much of a Big Bad, more of a Big Naive).
  • Status Quo Is God: Whatever happens to Iznogoud — even being blasted into orbit — he's back safe and sound in the next story. The album "The Returns of Iznogoud" adds via Retcon epilogues to many of the "bad endings" of past stories, explaining how Iznogoud each time manages to return to the normal status quo, with some exceptions; some of these epilogues have him trying to escape the bad situation and ending in a worse situation. For example, Iznogoud escapes the complex maze only to end up in the inescapable dungeons. Iznogoud has been there before (in a much older story) but doesn't remember the way out. While there he meets an older incarnation of himself, still searching for the way out after all these years.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: When Iznogoud decides to learn to draw, Wa'at Alahf says "it's a difficult art for beginners to master. Many try, but few succeed, and the standards required of young people these days are...". Later on, Iznogoud's art instructor Tahbari al-Tardi says the same thing word by word. The narrator later says the same thing.
  • Stupid Evil: Iznogoud, while generally intelligent (and much smarter than both most people around him and the Caliph), occasionally falls into this trope: a lot of his plans backfire precisely because he made idiotic mistakes, or couldn't resist the temptation to Kick the Dog at the wrong time.
  • Super Smoke: Various genies use this to enter/exit a bottle. Or a lamp. Or a shoe, in one case.
  • Superstition Episode: In one comic, Wa'at Alahf breaks a mirror over his head to free a guy from a curse. As a result, the guy is blessed with seven years of good luck and Wa'at is cursed with seven years of bad luck (that only last for the remainder of the comic).
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Or, more often than not, by crazies. Special mention to the palace guards. Iznogoud even lampshades this several times:
    Iznogoud: Can't we just fire all crazy people from this palace?!
    Wa'at Alahf: Sure, boss, but who would be in charge of doing this?
  • Symbol Swearing: A story had him asking Wa'at Alahf for a rope, when he was down a cliff. Wa'at dropped the entire length of rope. Iznogoud began cursing, with bombs, bones, axes etc. Then a lot of these items began falling from above, seemingly dropped by Wa'at who thought Iznogoud was asking for them.
  • Taken for Granite: Several stories involve Iznogoud getting turned into a statue at the end.
    • "The Golden Handshake" features Ghoudas Gho'ld, descendant of King Midas, who can only turn things into gold-plated versions of their original forms. Close enough, thinks Iznogoud, and he tries to get the unfortunate curse victim to shake the hand of the Caliph. But all manner of other things and people are turned into gold-plated statues instead, and finally Ghoudas and Iznogoud share a farewell handshake. Wa'at Alahf can see how this will end up as soon as Iznogoud announces the plan, and has a commemorative plaque ready for the statue as soon as the transformation happens.
    • The vizier is told in "The Wax Museum" that all of the waxworks of past and future villains he is bringing to life - from Marcus Junius Brutus to Al Capone - must be back in the museum when it closes for the day at 7pm, or he will be turned into a waxwork instead, and no spell will bring him to life. Inevitably, he fails and is turned into a statue (and once again, Wa'at Alahf can see this coming a mile away and prepares accordingly by buying a feather duster).
  • Take That, Audience!: The passworded dungeon in "The Magic Sceptre". Of course it ends with Iznogoud forgetting the password, being trapped in there, desperately testing all permutations and snapping at the reader: "So do YOU remember it? And no turning back pages!"
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: In Iznogoud's Childhood, Iznogoud experiments a type of time travel in which the present and the past happen at the same time for a while, which he tries to exploit by attempting to get rid of the Caliph's younger self. The whole thing eventually end up being a Stable Time Loop, in which Iznogoud's time travel is what causes his younger self (who Used to Be a Sweet Kid) to transform into the Jerk Ass we're familiar with. However, earlier in the comic, Iznogoud stabs younger Wa'at Alahf to test the time travelling nature, and that case works on a Ripple Effect basis, in which adult Wa'at Alahf shows up with a scar he'd never had.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Iznogoud in some stories.
  • Two-Headed Coin: Subverted: all the coins are two-headed. Iznogoud forgets it, ridiculing himself.
  • Unknown Rival: Everyone knows that Iznogoud wants to be Caliph instead of the Caliph... everyone, that is, except the Caliph.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Iznogoud verges from this to an Anti-Hero.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Amazingly, Iznogoud. Iznogoud's Childhood reveals that he actually once was an adorable, good tempered, sweet kid who got along pretty well with Haroun and Wa'at.
  • Use Your Head: Once, when he tells this to his lackey... he didn't mean it literally, but Wa'at Alahf did.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Like all villains created by Goscinny, Iznogoud is particularly susceptible to it; generally, if a story doesn't end with him suffering a Fate Worse Than Death, it will end with him sobbing or gibbering with insanity. The fact he lives in a Palace where he (a megalomaniac aggressive Evil Chancellor) seems to be the only one with some degree of sanity doesn't really help.
    • In "Tried and Tse-tsed", after the tsetse fly Iznogoud plans to use to get the Caliph to go to sleep permanently is sedated by the Caliph's cup of herbal tea and adopted as a pet by the genial ruler, the vizier is reduced to a babbling wreck whom Wa'at Alahf is forced to have committed.
    • At the end of "The Lookalike", the Caliph and his doppelganger, Aristides Kingsizos, have met and bonded over a game of cards, and the formerly grouchy lookalike now talks and acts like the Caliph. On the palace steps, Iznogoud sobs to Wa'at Alahf that he tried to get rid of one Caliph and now he's stuck with two. Then Aristides' business partner comes looking for him... and he turns out to be a dead ringer for Iznogoud, who goes catatonic with shock.
  • Villain Protagonist: Iznogoud is a thoroughly despicable character who cares for no-one but himself and nothing but his ambition to become Caliph instead of the Caliph; he's also the main character of the stories.
  • We Didn't Start the Führer: The comic has Hitler be an emissary of the Devil who was sent to our world to create destruction and terror.
  • Wretched Hive: Baghdad, especially from the Tabary era onwards, but already in the Goscinny era. Not only is it governed by the oblivious Caliph and the evil Iznogoud, but Humans Are Bastards in that city, and most citizens are hypocrites who complain all the time about Iznogoud's ruthlessness but are willing to help him for a few bucks, despite knowing the consequences if he's ever successful. In "Chop and Change", after Iznogoud becomes the Caliph for a short time by changing bodies with him and starts unleashing his tyranny, one guy berates the wizard who helped him, but the latter doesn't seem to regret it.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Iznogoud occasionally wins... very briefly.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Comicbook/Iznogoud