Karma Houdini: Newspaper Comics

  • Lucy Van Pelt from Peanuts is perhaps the oldest and most well known example of this trope in this particular medium. From bullying her younger brother, to her generally selfish demeanor, not to mention the infamous "football" running gag; it's little wonder why so many parodies involve her getting a surprisingly violent yet not entirely undeserving comeuppance.
  • Dogbert from Dilbert and Rat from Pearls Before Swine frequently do terrible things for their own gain and/or amusement and rarely suffer any punishment for their actions. This is played for laughs.
    • Lampshaded, justified and/or generally played with by Dogbert himself at least once, in the Aug. 6, 2005 strip.
    Dogbert: I believe in karma. That means I can do bad things to people all day long and I assume they deserve it.
  • Garfield is a constant offender of this trope. He regularly bullies Odie and makes Jon's life hell, yet almost never receives comeuppance.
    • It's subverted in The Garfield Show however, where Garfield (who's actually kinder in that series) loses a lot. Instead it's Nermal who's the Karma Houdini.
    • Once, when Garfield was stuck in a body cast for a week, Odie did give back some of his own, but just on the level of mild teasing.
      • Sadly for Odie, it ended up boomeranging on him when Garfield got out of the cast and used it to whack him in the head.
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Moe the bully never got his comeuppance, primarily because Calvin never told anyone about what was being done to him. His mother did once find out and called the school, though Calvin begged her not to, fearing retaliation. About the closest Moe got to getting what he deserved was when he stole a toy truck from Calvin. Calvin tried to steal the truck back, but then chickened out at the last minute.
      • He actually still got told to return the quarter he took from Calvin back when his mom called school. Course that was ONCE.
      • When Calvin brought Hobbes to school so he could eat Moe, he appeared suspiciously willing to let Moe have Hobbes, and Moe assumed he was being set up, and chickened out. It was hinted that Moe left Calvin alone after this.
    • Calvin himself is usually the exact opposite of this trope. Whether he's tormenting girl-next-door Susie Derkins, humiliating his babysitter, or making his parents miserable, he hardly ever comes out on top, being sent to his room or getting a painful spanking. This makes him an interesting contrast to Dennis Mitchell of Dennis the Menace (US) , who irritates everyone around him but usually doesn't get punished for it, except for occasional periods of being forced to sit in a corner.
    • And then there's "homicidal psycho jungle cat" Hobbes, who frequently pounces on Calvin (sometimes playfully and sometimes viciously) and hardly ever gets any payback for it. He and Calvin are Vitriolic Best Buds, but even if they were bitter enemies there would be little Calvin could do to get back at Hobbes, since Calvin doesn't own a gun and Hobbes may or may not exist only to him.
  • The titular character of Crankshaft is a classic example. A terror of a school bus driver, he deliberately causes kids to miss the bus, causes repeated property damage, and breaks every rule in the book For the Evulz. The worst he ever seems to get is a reprimand from the principal, who seems powerless to actually do anything about him. Sure, he's gotten his occasional comeuppance (such as losing a million dollars on a game show), but the idea that he still has his job after half the stuff he's pulled puts him in this category.
  • The aversion of this in For Better or for Worse is notable in that the fans demanded it. When Howard Bunt attempted to sexually assault Elizabeth Patterson, and he was foiled by the Creator's Pet Anthony, writer Lynn Johnston was content to leave it there and move on to the next plot. She was surprised when fan demand for Howard to be brought to justice came in. In her eyes, he fulfilled his role in the story, and what should it matter what he did after as long as he left Liz alone?
    • Anthony tends to play it straight, mainly because he's a Creator's Pet, and the story likes to side with him even when he's being an asshole.
  • Curtis's Annoying Younger Sibling in Curtis is this. He usually provokes Curtis into wanting to hurt him, then gets away with it. Let's just say many people find Barry to be Unintentionally Unsympathetic for this.
    • In one instance, Curtis finally gets to tell his mother what he did: put toenail clippings in his sandwich.