Follow TV Tropes


Comic Book / Gaston Lagaffe

Go To
The most iconic goofball of Franco-Belgian comics.

Gaston Lagaffe is arguably one of the best-known and most well-liked characters of the Franco-Belgian Comics school. The character first appeared in Spirou #985 (February 28, 1957). The creation of André Franquin, who wanted to come up with an Anti-Hero Spin-Off series after working for years on the series Spirou & Fantasio, Gaston Lagaffe is an office drone and errand boy employed by a fictional version of the Dupuis publishing company.

But the point is that he never gets any work done, instead preferring to spend his work days cobbling together mad contraptions, playing music on Bizarre Instruments, keeping a range of animals and plants, conducting chemical experiments that usually end with the explosion of his makeshift lab or simply sleeping. This frequently leads to him butting heads with his neurotic boss Fantasio note , who is charged with the impossible task of getting Gaston to work. Later in the comic's run, Fantasio's role was taken over by the equally hot-tempered Léon Prunelle. Gaston has a presumably platonic but reciprocated relationship with fellow Dupuis employee Mademoiselle "'Moiselle" Jeanne.

While Gaston's misadventures have been popular all over Europe, the comic never saw an official English translation until 2017, when Cinebook started publishing the albums, under the name "Gomer Goof."

Despite André Franquin's refusal to let his beloved work be adapted into film, a French movie was made in 1981, Fais gaffe à la gaffe! (Watch out the goof!), which was Gaston Lagaffe in all but name. Another French Live-Action Adaptation movie was made and released in April 2018, this time without rights issues.

The comic also received an Animated Adaptation series in 2009, named Gaston. It also had an obscure short-lived live-action/puppet TV series in 1989, called Merci Gaston! ("Thank you Gaston!").

In 2023, the Gaston comic series was officially announced to be reprised, with a new album coming out in November titled Le Retour de Lagaffe (Lagaffe's Return) with art by French-Canadian cartoonist Delaf, best known for Les Nombrils.

Gaston Lagaffe provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Allergy: Gaston is such a slacker he's allergic to effort, and sneezes violently whenever anyone uses the word "effort" near him.
  • Accidental Aiming Skills: Gaston aims for the pipes, hits a target and wins the prize.
  • Acquainted with Emergency Services: The firefighters are so used to Gaston's explosive experiments, floods, and noxious gasses they try to beat their own records for time taken to get to his office building. One strip has Fantasio calling them and saying "the usual address".
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • Prunelle breaks down in hysteric laughter when Gaston demonstrates an air freshener — which ate De Mesmaeker's suit, so he is suddenly standing in his underwear.
    • In turn, it's De Mesmaeker who laughs uproariously when Gaston's mini-gaffophone destroys Prunelle's model for a new office building.
      De Mesmaeker: Thanks for this vision of the future... BWAAAHAHAHA!
  • Adaptation Name Change: The characters in the 1981 Fais gaffe à la gaffe! film. Gaston is renamed "G" (just "G"), Prunelle becomes "Prunus", Mesmaeker becomes "Mercantilos" and Jeanne becomes "Penelope". Franquin himself said he was okay with adapting the jokes, but not the characters.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Some of the French titles of the books use either words beginning with G (such as Gare aux gaffes du gars gonflénote  or Le Géant de la Gaffenote ) or consonances around the syllable "ga" (La saga des gaffesnote , Des gaffes et des dégâtsnote ). His English name of Gomer Goof also fits here.
  • Adoring the Pests: Gaston keeps an entire family of mice in the workplace's "important documents and contracts" filing cabinet (or rather, he didn't have the heart to remove them once he saw the newly-born litter nesting in the shredded papers). Of course, he's blind to their faults, given that he also keeps a goldfish, a seagull, a cat, turtles and other animals around, to his coworkers' chagrin.
  • Agitated Item Stomping: De Mesmaeker did it once to a phone, after unsuccessfully trying to call the Dupuis office for hours.
  • Agony of the Feet: Gaston's bowling ball has a tendency to fall on the feet of unsuspecting co-workers.
  • Alas, Poor Yorick: Referenced as a joke in a strip that start with Gaston holding a coconut in his hand while looking confused. When Fantasio sees him, he can't help but quote Hamlet's "To be, or not to be." Gaston doesn't get the joke, and when Fantasio tells Gaston that he reminded him of "some Hamlet guy", Gaston assumes that Hamlet is a random person he never met, but that Fantasio personally knows.
  • The Alleged Car: Gaston's car is an old jalopy Fiat 509 that barely holds together and can be outraced by pedestrians. It also emits more thick black smoke than a coal-fueled locomotive and on one occasion loses enough oil that someone can waterski while being pulled by it. On another occasion, Gaston's homemade fuel additive turns that smoke blue and occasional engine backfires left behind something that looks like the result of the explosion of a water balloon filled with blue paint. It also breaks down so often that once Gaston returns from a holiday with only his legs showing a tan. He also sometimes complains about having to find a part, which are apparently hard to come by. Lebrac once quips, "You don't find any parts in the junkyards, and the antiquarians charge too much."
  • Alliterative Name: Gaston, Jules and Bertrand made a music group called "Moon Module Mecs".
  • Amusing Injuries: A lot of characters ended up with black eyes, most due to a bowling ball accident.
  • Angrish: A standard reaction to Gaston's antics. Prunelle's "Rogntudjûû!" (see Catchphrase, below)
  • Animal Wrongs Group: Gaston is a one-man version, accidentally putting the needs of animals above those of his fellow humans. Examples include rerouting the building's radiators to the outside so the birds would have somewhere warm to stay in winter while his coworkers were freezing inside, or setting up a floor-wide network of aquariums so his goldfish can move around as he pleases while his coworkers have to deal with water leaks.
  • The Animated Series: Was made with scanning directly the comic's art and animating the movements on computer.
  • Anti-Interference Lock Up: One episode has three of the magazine staff gang up on Lagaffe to throw him bound and gagged in a supply closet, with one of them guarding the door. Prunelle then goes to get De Mesmaeker to sign the contracts with Lagaffe safely out of the way... which of course fails because he hadn't seen Lagaffe's cat sleeping in De Mesmaeker's chair. The cat woke up furious, scratching up De Mesmaeker, who left without signing the contracts. As usual.
  • Anti-Villain:
    • Agent Longtarin, the closest thing Gaston has to an archenemy, is just a regular traffic cop charged with enforcing the law, which Gaston often breaks openly. However, there are times when he gets a bit vindictive, giving Gaston a ticket for his car on a no-parking zone, then another for the soapbox racer he was unloading, then a third one for the roller-skate that fell out of the racer, doing a Happy Dance as he writes the ticket. Once, he stopped Gaston in the street to ticket him for various faults on the car, and then added a parking ticket because the car was parked in the street. Considering that Gaston loves tormenting him with practical jokes revolving around parking meters that occasionally seem to drive him on borders of neurosis, he probably deserves a little payback. Although Longtarin isn't that nice toward other civilian and borderline harasses De Mesmaeker for an alcotest (saying he didn't blow properly in it). And even then, De Mesmaeker wasn't very polite or cooperative either.
    • Prunelle, Gaston's "mean" boss, is often an antagonist and sometimes uses physical violence against Gaston. But he's just trying to keep the publishing company running and to force Gaston to do the work he's paid for, instead of slacking off or doing something else. Gaston's experiments also regularly disturb everyone else in their work, sometimes even endangering them.
  • Art Evolution: Gaston basically becomes increasingly Super-Deformed throughout the series, his nose gets bigger, and his eyes acquire whites (having previously just been little dots), and the art style becomes a bit more detailed.
  • Ascended Extra: Prunelle and Lebrac were originally only two unnamed fellow employees of Gaston.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: While we don't get to hear the question ourselves, it's quite clear that when Gaston is buying a plunger, he is asking the shopkeeper stupidly obvious questions based on the latter's answers. Gaston needs the shopkeeper's confirmation to know the bigger plunger is more expensive than the smaller one, and that the plunger will be easier to see in daylight.
  • Attack the Tail: Gaston is once hurt by someone stepping on the tail of a kangaroo costume he is wearing. There is no official explanation, but a character speculates that the seamstress forgot a needle in an unfortunate place when sewing the tail on.
  • Author Tract:
    • Several of the strips expound Franquin's position on such issues as warfare, pollution and whaling. Gaston has also appeared in a promotional ad strip for Amnesty International in which Gaston has a nightmare of being a tortured political prisoner. It's as awful as you think. Given that Franquin is also the creator of the extremely depressing Idées Noires (Dark Thoughts), this isn't really surprising.
    • Franquin utterly hated parking meters. He believed parking should be free for everyone. Needless to say, this explains why they were constantly targeted by Gaston's destructive antics.
    • The military tends to be portrayed as not very bright or straight bastards, as Franquin was a pacifist.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Gaston's suitcase-on-wheels, which actually works as designed but consumes so much power that most of the suitcase is filled with batteries, leaving almost no space for actual baggage. When Jules finds out that he has effectively been carrying all of Gaston's stuff in addition to his own, he is not amused.
    • Gaston's costumes whenever he goes to a party are very well-made, but come with quite the caveat. Examples include a knight's armor that clanked so loudly someone thought the kitchen's cabinets fell apart when Gaston passed in front of his house, a robot costume that can barely move (and realistic enough to make De Mesmaeker faint) or a Marsupilami costume with a whole garden hose as the tail (Longtarin gets tangled inside and dragged behind Gaston's car). They are also not very convenient for dancing.
    • His monorail system for carrying documents across the floor is pretty nifty in the pre-Internet era... Except said monorail is basically a steel tray racing across the hallways, whacking in the head of anybody on its path.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Gaston has these moments with Fantasio sometimes, despite their constant conflicts. Fantasio especially doesn't always see Gaston as a nuisance, and can be forgiving and caring when it matters. On rare occasions, the two even see each other outside of work, such as in a series of gags about them camping at the beach.
  • Ball-Balancing Seal: One strip has Gaston trying to act like a seal by balancing a ball on his nose, only to end up falling into a fountain. Fantasio then snarks that now Gaston is being like a seal.
  • Balloonacy:
    • One gag as Fantasio asking Gaston to cut off a giant balloon attached to the building's roof, Gaston then climb the balloon's rope and cut it below him, making the balloon fly away while he's still hanging on it.
    • Gaston once left a leaking helium bottle in his car. The gas filled up the car, caused the canvas roof to bulge... and up into the air went the car.
  • Balloon-Bursting Bird: Gaston's pet laughing gull hates balloons with a passion. At one point it crosses paths with a hot-air balloon, and the next panel has the now grounded occupant saying "I don't know, there was a kind of sadistic laughter and the next thing I knew, pffffft!"
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Though a lazy and sometimes Innocently Insensitive Manchild, Gaston is a friendly, compassionate, caring and helpful soul who does his best to look after people and animals alike... even if they might not want him to. But, as people repeatedly discover, get him riled up for real, and the normal everyday chaos he spreads pales to what he can unleash at people he's actually angry at.
    • Yves Lebrac is usually the Nice Guy among Gaston's co-workers, but he can get violent if you push his Berserk Buttons.
  • Beak Attack: Gaston's pet laughing gull is notorious for this, to the point that his coworkers have developed a duck and cover routine when they hear its distinctive screech. At one point it is seen using its beak as a can opener.
  • Big Blackout: Gaston's inventions occasionally cause a city-level blackout. Special mentions go to a device supposed to save energy and a blinking Christmas light that switches off every light in the city every time it blinks.
  • Bizarre Instrument: The Gaffophone and a number of other instruments of Gaston's own design. Lagaffe even has a band, whose only instruments are akin to the Gaffophone. The results of them playing can be imagined as a terrible disaster; in fact, after they tried to play "Good Vibrations" in the attic of Gaston's workplace, the floor fell apart and crushed the whole level under it after playing for two seconds. Quite often, when someone plays the Gaffophone (or merely touches the strings), something near will be obliterated (mostly glass panes, windows and anything made of glass, although it destroyed at least once the ceilings of a whole office floor and a truck).
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: It is a bit difficult to know who is the victim between Longtarin and Gaston because both seem to take a sadistic pleasure in ruining the life of his opponent.
  • Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: Gaston once made a hot sauce that burned through the cup he kept it in, and sent the cartoonist Yves Lebrac screaming up the walls after a little taste. A later attempt resulted in the sauce bursting out of the jar it was kept in and crawling forth like protoplasm, dissolving the carpeting as it slithered on it.
  • Blinding Camera Flash: Gaston's home-made flash is strong enough to not only blind Fantasio and De Mesmaeker, but also blacken their skin, scorch their clothes, vaporize the champagne they were about to drink, and burn the signed contracts to ashes.
  • Blowing Smoke Rings:
    • In a early book, Gaston blow a smoke ring so big he could pretend it was a hula hoop.
    • He also made a machine so non-smokers wouldn't be denied the fun of blowing smoke rings.
  • Boomerang Comeback:
    • Parodied in volume R5, page 14: Gaston's boomerang shatters a window. An angry neighbor brings back the boomerang to Fantasio thinking he's the one who threw it, Fantasio then throw it at Gaston's head while saying, "Gaston! It always comes back to the one who throws it!"
    • Also in volume 14, page 24: Prunelle throws through a window a wooden coat hanger which lost its hook (and happens to be shaped exactly like a boomerang) and it comes back in his face, to Gaston's hilarity.
      Gaston: You just reinvented one of the oldest jokes in the world!
    • On another occasion, Gaston attempted to launch a boomerang from a crossbow, with predictable results.
      Prunelle: [to a bandaged Gaston] Now you know why you should never launch a boomerang with a crossbow.
  • Borrowed Without Permission: One strip starts with Fantasio angrily taking his typewriter back from Prunelle's hands and complaining that people always take his typewriter without asking first.
  • Bound and Gagged: Prunelle has it done to Gaston a few times, when he expects De Mesmaeker.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Several times, notably to address the issue of the missing fifth album in the series.
  • Brown Note:
    • Gaston once re-tuned a violin to the point that playing it paralyzes the listeners out.
    • His Gaffophone has this result as well, making animals manically depressed and driving plants to suicide.
    • When Gaston's cat falls into a tuba and claws the metal instrument while trying to climb out, the resulting sound is like fingernails on a blackboard turned up to eleven, driving everyone in the office nuts.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Gaston considers himself this, but those rare inventions that would benefit his company have a 100% backfire rate, as opposed to the 95% backfire rate of his other inventions. And the backfire is often quite literal, and in the office building, so... Later albums show he is very skilled at computer programming (think engineer level). Of course, seeing him writing Fortran or BASIC would be quite unfunny, so...
  • The Bus Came Back: Sonia, the dark-haired glasses-wearing secretary of Fantasio, disappeared from the comic alongside the latter. In Delaf's reboot, she is back, forming a trio with Jeanne and the nameless secretary.
  • The Cameo: Raoul Cauvin, a real-life artist, appears in some strips.
  • Catchphrase:
    • De Mesmaeker's is "Les signerai jamais !" which means "I'll never sign them!" (i.e., the contracts).
    • In Le Journal De Spirou, he also had "C'est la dernière fois que je présente une première page !" ("It's the last time I appear on the first page!") whenever said first page depicts him in an uncomfortable situation.
  • Cats Are Mean: Subverted. Gaston's cat, besides the obvious tendency to cause trouble inherent to anything that comes into contact with Gaston, has nothing as far as foulness of character goes, on the guy's "domesticated" seagull.
  • Characterization Marches On: Bertrand Labévue is at first just another Gaston that flops around, hence the last name. Afterward he became The Eeyore.
  • Character Title: The French albums of the comic are simply titled Gaston.
  • The Chew Toy: Both Gaston's manager Prunelle and businessman De Mesmaeker often end up injured as a consequence of Gaston's ideas. Not to mention the poor Longtarin.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Fantasio stopped appearing around the time Franquin gave up on writing Spirou. He did make a guest appearance in a later episode, but it took Gaston only five minutes to make him leave again, red with anger. (Gaston had painted his whole office green, including his desk, his typewriter and his pipe.)
    • Fantasio appeared once again later on, when Gaston came all the way to Champignac to show off the snow plow he had added to his car. Fantasio being completely wrapped up in warm clothing is difficult to identify.
    • There was also a cartoonist who was friend with Gaston, who disappeared after a few appearances.
    • Female secretaries Sonia, Suzanne and Yvonne. The latter seems to have appeared only once, the second was quickly Demoted to Extra and the former progressively disappeared.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety:
    • Occurs with a Panicky Expectant Father.
    • While he usually doesn't smoke out of stress and more out of habit, one comic starts with Fantasio lighting up a pipe while thinking to himself that it helps him forget about his worries.
  • Classical Anti-Hero: Gaston is a textbook example.
  • Clothes Make the Legend: Gaston's green sweater. His blue espadrilles (with red socks) could also count, as they were orange in the beginning but their color was changed by the readers' wishes.
  • Clothing Damage:
    • Happens regularly every time one of Gaston's experiments goes awry.
    • In one instance, Jeanne's clothes are all ripped off in a sideswipe with a cactus.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Especially in older comics, Gaston is often horrified that, say, his bowling ball may have been damaged in a collision with a coworker's skull.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Gaston sometimes misses important points when making his inventions:
    • A notable episode has Gaston wanting to install a wood gas generator note  on his car, "to save resources and pollute less" note . But when his first design doesn't work, he then invents a gasoline-powered wood gas generator, even claiming that "It's as if I had a huge carburator!".
    • In one strip, he proudly presents his invention of the elastic safety belt, which allows him to avoid having to fasten and unfasten it every time he has to get out of the car to post a letter. He adds that he always fastens it because security is no laughing matter, not realising that if the seatbelt is that elastic, it's completely useless from the standpoint of safety.
  • The Comically Serious: Most of Gaston's fellow employees are serious people who just want to do their jobs. At the far end of the scale, Mr. Boulier is the dapper, persnickety accountant who resents Gaston as a massive source of unplanned expenditures.
  • Compressed Vice: In the strip where Gaston goes to an anti-war manifestation, Prunelle seems to dislike the idea of a manifestation in the name of peace and does not want Gaston to tell anyone in public that he's working for Spirou, because some readers are soldiers and children of weapon sellers. This is the only time Prunelle displays an anti-pacifism mentality, and it seems to just serves to give a foil to Gaston for that strip.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: After Fantasio finishes painstakingly sorting a mountain of letters in alphabetical order, he asks Gaston to bring them to another room. Gaston lumps them all in a large jute bag, undoing Fantasio's work. When Fantasio sees this, he makes Gaston sort them again... while tied up to his neck in the bag and only using a tiny pair of tweezers that he holds in his mouth. Gaston's only comment is that Fantasio must have something against practical solutions.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Gaston's custom recipes are so weird, just hearing him describe them is enough to induce nausea. Strangely enough, some people are actually curious to taste his cooking (such as strawberry cod, whose main problem is apparently the cooking odors). One recipe starts with browning six onions in a liter of orange juice and goes downhill from there.
  • Cosmetic Catastrophe: When Gaston invents a few beauty products and hands them over to Moiselle Jeanne, it turns out she's colorblind... The result? "Purple cheeks, teal lips and a nauseating pink around her eyes."
  • Couch Gag: In the later books, Franquin's signature at the bottom of the page is always decorated with a reference to the story. One such signature eventually features someone commenting that he's fed up with those decorated signatures.
  • Coup de Grâce: A horrified Longtarin almost delivers it to the motor of Gaston's shifty car, after the front-engine comes out of the back of the car.
    Longtarin: Aaaaah! I can't watch! Something must be done! I... I'm shooting it!
  • Crashing Dreams: Happens repeatedly to Gaston during a dream he has of being stranded on a desert island with Moiselle Jeanne. Office chores keep intruding into the dream in the strangest ways.
  • Creator Cameo:
  • Cry into Chest: Prunelle once broke down crying onto Lebrac's shoulder after having to listen to aunt Hortense's awful records at maximum volume all day.
    Lebrac: [entering the office and hearing the records being blasted] What is that!?
    Prunelle: That's Lagaffe. He's repairing his aunt Hortense's record player, and he's playing his aunt Hortense's records... and his aunt Hortense and I have DIFFERENT TAAAAASTES! [breaks down]
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The amateur football match in which Gaston takes part, as a guardian replacement. Spirou journal team suffers a humiliating defeat to the score of 15-1, with the only goal scored by Lebrac being thanks to the unending laughter of the opposite team caused by Gaston's gaffes (such as deserting his goal to fetch an umbrella, fetching his hat blown away by the wind, climbing on the goal to see if Jeanne is here, getting in heated talks with spectators after destroying their property, etc.). After one last goal suffered due to Gaston scoring against his own goal, by tripping on one of his own food cans, Prunelle snaps and ends up punching him.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Odd nonvillain example. Some of Gaston's gadgets are dangerous disasters, while others are just used at the wrong time. But when Gaston demonstrates his new invention can turn printed paper into blank paper and functional ink, even if Gaston just erased important contracts, De Mesmaeker should realize this device is worth billions more than whatever the contracts are.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Cartoonist Yves Lebrac, with a heavy accent on the Pun.
    • Prunelle has his moments, especially when teamed up with Lebrac.
  • Demoted to Extra: Spirou had a much larger role in the comic's earliest days, to the point where he was the third most important character after Gaston and Fantasio. It wasn't long, however, before Spirou was phased out and became a very minor character, only making the very occasional cameo, before he was finally Put on a Bus along with Fantasio as Franquin left Spirou & Fantasio to Fournier.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Happens a lot with Gaston. The best example is when, as a way to exercise while doing his favorite hobby, he made a cup-and-bowling-ball.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: One gag is set up to look like Fantasio was going to literally kill Gaston for bringing a huge drum kit into the office. Once Fantasio and Spirou see Gaston walk past with the drum kit, Fantasio snaps and goes after him with a knife, while a horrified Spirou tries to stop him. Then a terrible scream is heard. When we see what happened it is revealed that Gaston is fine, Fantasio just slashed the skins of his drum kit.
  • D.I.Y. Disaster: Whenever Gaston attempts to "fix" or merely "study" something in the office.
    • He turned a fridge into a pressure cooker, made a motorcycle ride in reverse, switched around all the keys on a typewriter and once launched a boiler into orbit!note 
    • He also once redid the plumbing so he could use a spare pipe to discreetly communicate with Moiselle Jeanne a floor below (linking Boulier's gas stove with a water pipe in the process) or turned up the heaters so that he could make toast with them, so high that his co-workers started to pass out from heat stroke and dehydration.
    • He once made a radio-controlled model plane from Russian transistor parts. The plane worked fine, it's just that he somehow also managed to make a Russian space station pull off the exact same stunts as the plane....
    • His attempt to maintain the fire extinguishers of the building resulted in setting them on fire. Every single one of them. He later managed to fill one with whipped cream.
    • Averted when he somehow managed to get a beer tap go from the basement up to his office, and modified the heaters in order to use them as coffeemakers. The narrator states that it worked, save for the coffee having a slight aftertaste of oil.
  • The Door Slams You:
    • Featured in a number of gags, the most prominent one being when Gaston invents a system that slams all other doors shut whenever one is opened. Queue Prunelle, Lebrac and De Mesmaeker all getting a door to the face.
    • The very cover of the rebooted album, Lagaffe's Return, features Gaston slamming a door into Prunelle's face.
  • Dreadful Musician: Gaston's music, when played on his homemade instruments, typically result in serious structural damage to buildings. Even playing a mere guitar does not fail to arouse unexpected consequences.
    • A particularly hilarious story had Gaston hook his guitar up to a radio emitter, to play a song for Jeanne at home. Unfortunately, the bridge-building company next door was using a computer to plan out a bridge that turned out like an LSD nightmare.
    • His homemade harp-like Gaffophone seems to be the source of the damage rather than Gaston's lack of skill, as Fantasio once did serious structural damage after shoving Gaston in and playing like a madman. Fantasio stated that Gaston's body lodged in gave the instrument "exceptional sonority".
    • In another, he retunes a friend's violin. Playing it knocks out all who hear it except him (it is even referred to as a Kiai).
  • Dream Sequence:
    • Gaston gets several, most of them interrupted by the sudden intrusion of Real Life; and on one occasion, he gets a shared dream with Moiselle Jeanne. On one dream sequence, Gaston falls asleep listening to the sports results, and in his dream sees himself punching out a boxer, get simultaneously tackled by an entire rugby team and still scoring, etc.
    • Longtarin also gets his own Nightmare Sequence, in which parking meters are destroyed in various creative ways.
    • One promotional comic for the drink Orange Piedboeuf is set up as one of these. Gaston has a dream in which an elf-like, color-changing version of Fantasio guides him to a spring of Orange Piedboeuf. Gaston is woken up before he can drink from it and is not happy about it.
  • Dream Sue: After falling asleep with the radio on a sports program, Lagaffe dreams himself punching out a heavyweight boxer, scoring with an entire rugby team tackling him, setting a land speed record, etc.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Good thing that Gaston's car is so slow.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: On one occasion, Gaston caused Prunelle to end up entangled in duct tape when he unwound an entire roll to see how long it was. On another occasion, a roll of heavy-duty tape stuck to his leg caused him to trail behind him assorted office implements, as well as Prunelle sitting on his wheeled office chair. But Gaston's most catastrophic use of duct tape (more exactly, surgical tape bought from an out of business hospital) was when he tried to seal a leaking gas pipe with it, causing his office to blow up.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Gaston was originally introduced as a meta character who existed somehow outside comics and would loiter on the pages. He was meant to be a pest, a "hero without a job" (héros sans emploi), a comic book protagonist who was too stupid and lazy to deserve to have his own comic adventure. Him crashing in the Spirou magazine headquarters was meant to be analogous to him crashing in the pages of the magazine. This was progressively made more "grounded"/"realistic" into him being a lazy ineffectual employee at an editorial office.
    • In an early strip, Gaston builds a rocket and later in the same day, receives officers of different military sections who want to buy his rocket, to which he shows no objection. Later strips establish Gaston as being fully anti-war, going along with Franquin's opinion on the subject.
    • Gaston is mostly stoic in early strips and the humor mostly comes from Fantasio reacting to Gaston's antics and lack of common sense (like building a water sprinkler in his office to make it prettier). This trait was quickly dropped and more characters were introduced, giving more people for Gaston to interact with to diversify the gags.
    • Gaston was called "Gaston-la-gaffe" by an angry Fantasio as a negative nickname for his clumsiness before this became his actual surname.
  • The Eeyore: Gaston's other buddy, Bertrand. Since Franquin himself also dealt with depressions, also a case of Write What You Know.
  • Epic Fail: Plenty during the series, not all of them by Gaston.
    • Gaston apparently once tried to do a tap-dancing act... in soft shoes.
    • Lebrac tried to destroy the Gaffophone by shoving termites in it. The Gaffophone is the only thing they didn't eat on the whole floor. Gaston theorizes that the varnish on the instrument disgusted them.
    • Gaston managed to somehow set fire to fire extinguishers when asked to take care of them.
  • Exact Words: One strip has Lagaffe try out his hovercraft (based on a lawnmower engine) indoors, with Boulier warning him that if there's so much a single oil patch he's paying to replace the entire 6th floor's carpeting. Afer the test, Lebrac wonders if a three-foot circle cut out of the carpeting (lawnmower engine, remember?) counts as an oil patch, with Boulier coming around the corner with a magnifying glass...
  • Exploding Closet: Justified — if Gaston bothers to clean up his office at all, he does so by putting a filing cabinet on the ground and literally shoveling all the junk in. When Prunelle opens the cabinet to inspect... well, you can see the trope's illustration.
  • Explosive Cigar: One strip has Gaston's coworkers deciding to prank him as a retaliation for all the trouble he regularly causes them by giving him an explosive cigarette. Too bad a stressed-out Prunelle decided to light his own cigarette from Gaston's, and inhaled so hard he pulled the explosive inside his own...
  • The Faceless: Mr. Dupuis, owner of the publishing company, may be heard on the phone or at best briefly glimpsed, but his face is never shown. But that is probably because he is an actual person....
  • Failure Is the Only Option:
  • Feathered Fiend: Gaston's seagull is sadistic at best, and downright dangerous when in a really foul mood. Being pecked with a beak strong enough to be used as a can opener hurts.
  • Flanderization: Originally, Longtarin was just a normal cop who giving tickets when Gaston parked wrong. At the end, he loves giving tickets to Gaston. Though it could also be considered Character Development: Longtarin fines Gaston, Gaston retaliates with his practical jokes, and soon Longtarin is seeking revenge in return.
  • Floorboard Failure:
    • A chainsaw that Gaston has "repaired" revs itself and starts cutting wildly through the floors in one episode.
    • After Lebrac's attempt to destroy the Gaffophone with termites backfires, Prunelles chews him out while stomping his foot on the (wooden) floor, which promptly gives way.
    • Another time, Gaston's homemade fast-drying paint completely dissolves the floor of his office, leaving him stranded on a tiny corner.
  • Follow That Car: Played with when Fantasio asks a cab driver to "follow that coat!" Fantasio left the office in a hurry forgetting his coat. Gaston tries to throw it from the window, but forgets about the wind...
  • The Fool: Gaston, in his earlier adventures in particular.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: Prunelle gives one to cartoonist Yves Lebrac after his attempt to destroy the Gaffophone with termite backfires, infecting the whole building with the termites after they ignore the instrument entirely and leaving it as the only intact piece of wood in the entire company.
  • Gag Nose: Gaston's is the most noticeable: he once fell asleep on his typewriter, and on waking up half a dozen of letters had left marks on his nose.
  • Gas-Cylinder Rocket: Gaston once converted his car to be gas-powered, with three gas cylinders strapped on top as fuel. During the first test they all rocketed off, one blowing a hole in a nearby building, the other two totaling a passing armored police van whose occupants assumed it was a highly prepared attack.
  • Geek Physique: Gaston used to be really lanky.
  • The Generic Guy: Bertje and Jef Van Schrijfboek.
  • Genius Ditz: Gaston is actually quite good at tinkering (and computer programming, according to one episode) but lacking in everything else, including common sense.
  • Getting Hot in Here: In one strip, the whole office suffers from inexplicable, blistering heat, forcing everybody to shed off their clothes. The culprit, as usual, proves to be Gaston, who pushed the heating to the max to see if you could toast bread with the radiators alone. He's delighted to see it works; his coworkers, not so much.
  • The Ghost: Gaston's Aunt Hortense is often alluded to but never seen in person.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: A result of the Gaffophone. Gaston also once shattered the windows of a whole city block by playing at maximum volume a magnetic tape of a jet airplane breaking the sound barrier. In return, his Gaffophone also cracked all the glass on a passing fighter jet.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: One gag has Lebrac trying to get rid of the gaffophone by putting termites in it. It turns out Gaston treated the instrument with a special varnish protecting it, which resulted in the termites attacking everything in the office except the gaffophone.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: De Mesmaeker. While it is true that his visits for contact signing usually ends poorly for him he needs very little to leave screaming "I'll never sign them!"
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Mademoiselle Jeanne is a redhead.
  • Hollywood Acid: Most of Gaston's experiments that don't blow up end up in this trope. His moisturizing skin lotion behaved exactly like xenomorph blood, a single drop eating a hole through the floor several stories down. He once created a hot sauce that was, essentially, alive, though fortunately it was locked up in a filing cabinet before it could hurt anyone. A filing cabinet containing the office keys and the contracts...
  • Hollywood Chameleons: There is one gag in which Gaston puts color-painted sheets behind a chameleon to force it to change its skin color, which works, to said chameleon's annoyance. The chameleon decides to dip a bucket of paint over Gaston using his tongue as revenge.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Common enough between Gaston and Fantasio. In one comic, Gaston accidentally swallows the prize inside a box of snack food and has to be taken to the hospital. Fantasio waits outside and acts just like a Panicky Expectant Father, complete with chain-smoking and a nurse cheerfully telling him that it's an airplane.
  • Hope Spot: Occasionally, De Mesmaeker's contracts do get signed. It's usually not long before something destroys them though. De Mesmaeker once manages to successfully sign and leave without something destroying the papers, and this is when Gaston is the only Dupuis employee present! Except it later turns out that Gaston accidentally made De Mesmaeker sign a sports article instead of the contracts.
  • Hurt Foot Hop: Gaston Lagaffe once tries to crack an especially hard nut (a Running Gag) by stepping on it... while wearing his usual soft shoes. Cue the "OULALALALA!!", hopping, and Fantasio laughing.
  • The Hyena: Gaston's laughing gull, though the laughter doubles as a Battle Cry and a Roar Before Beating.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Gaston is a militant ecologist and pacifist, but his cars emits more exhaust than a truck race and he oftens assembles working military-themed models (tanks and bombers) to demonstrate what they can do in Real Life. Hilariously, he once put a giant balloon at the end of his exhaust pipe to catch all the gases, but afterwards he thought nothing of just emptying the balloon in the middle of a street! In result everybody in the general vicinity lost consciousness from carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • One time, Gaston falls asleep at his desk and doesn't wake up until it's the middle of the night and everyone is gone. Angry that nobody woke him up, he complains about having to work for someone with "no sense of responsibility" and calls up Fantasio to yell at him for being lazy.
    • Prunelle frequently complains about his superiors using the same tactics on him that he uses on Gaston. For instance, he gets thoroughly yelled at by his boss through the phone, complains after hanging up that yelling at people is not the way to go, then proceed to holler at Gaston. On other occasions, he gleefully plans to make a surprise inspection to Gaston's office, only to encounter De Mesmaeker who decided to drop by without warning, and complains in a thought bubble that De Mesmaeker should have called first.
  • I Have Nothing to Say to That: Prunelle has some work to give to Gaston, only to find the lazybones with his cat sleeping on his lap, whispering that he can't work right now because he doesn't dare waking up the poor cat. To which Prunelle roars, making the cat jump awake in fright, before pushing a busload of stuff in Gaston's arms.
    Prunelle: If everybody in this redaction had a sleeping cat on their lap, the Spirou journal wouldn't publish very often!
    Gaston: Oh yeah? Well, if every general and head of state, whatever their flags, had a cat on their lap, then I'd feel much better, myself!
    Prunelle: [thinking] How can you respond to a guy who's right?
  • I Resemble That Remark!: A gag starts with a montage of panels where Gaston is scolded by various characters because of his usual immature behaviour. In the penultimate panel, Gaston complains he's fed up of being treated like a child. In the last panel, he's sulking in his office, which is filled with toys.
  • Indestructibility Montage: A drawn-out gag has Gaston wanting to crack a walnut that proves to be incredibly tough. After clenching a nutcracker with all his strength, to no avail, Gaston tries stomping on it — only to hurt his foot. Then he attempts cutting it with a saw, which ends with several bandaged fingers. He even drops a bowling ball on it, making the whole floor shakes, for sole result to have the nut stuck in one of the holes. In a later strip, Gaston makes one last attempt by putting the walnut on the rail of a tramway — leading to the tramway car derailing.
    Gaston: Never seen a walnut that hard!
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Freddy "Fingers". Even the office staff sees him as this, treating his burglaries as friendly visits in the morning when they inevitably find him captured (accidentally) by Gaston's inventions. Sometime they even give him free comics for the pain.
    Employee: Naww, we aren't gonna call the cops.
  • In Name Only: The first movie. Actually, it's not even in name only, because Franquin didn't want the names of the characters to be used.
  • Iron Butt-Monkey: Gaston, Fantasio and Prunelle have been victims of serious injuries several times.
  • Irony: In one strip, Gaston who is notorious for sleeping at work, says that he suffers from insomnia.
  • Jerkass
    • Mr. Boulier is a pretty humorless accountant that can come up as rude.
    • Agent Longtarin enjoys giving tickets and yelling at people for breaking traffic laws or just regular control. One gag has him wait twenty minutes next to the parking meter and gloating about giving Gaston a ticket when it runs out.
    • There's a strip where Gaston is in a park and decides to collect some leaves he finds pretty, bringing them to his office to make a herbarium. A leaf picker follows him all the way to his office to take the leaves back under the pretext that the leaves are the park's property. Not only it is a jerkass move by the leaf picker since fallen leaves don't belong to anyone, but he interrupted his work to be a jerk to someone who technically simplified his job.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: One wonders how Gaston manages to keep his work despite him causing so much disasters that being fired would be the very, very least thing to do (it actually happened just once, and he got it back thanks to tons of letters sent by In-Universe Spirou readers who wanted him back).
  • Karma Houdini: Gaston was fired just once (for bringing a cow in the office), then was rehired. For some reason, despite becoming more and more destructive and useless to the redaction with years, nobody ever thought of firing him again. To be fair, Gaston is often injured and unlucky, so he gets some form of karma.
  • Klatchian Coffee:
    • Gaston's homemade coffee. It is so strong that Prunelle claims smelling it is enough to give him a sleepless night, and one tiny cup gets Gaston so jittery that he is pulled over for drunk driving.
    • In one strip, Gaston offers a cup of coffee to De Mesmaeker. A single sip is enough to make him so energetic that he accidentally crushes his pen while trying to write. Gaston then says that he puts several spoonfuls (with a spoon made for soup) of coffee powder in each cup.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: One gag has Gaston walk in on Fantasio tossing knives at something. Fantasio sadly informs Gaston that due to the amount of mail Gaston hasn't sorted out and filed, they have no choice but to head into a new career, revealing that he's been tossing knives at Gaston's life-sized latex dummy of himself, with very few misses. Gaston suddenly feels an urge to organize mail.
  • Laborious Laziness: One gag has Prunelle really determined to find Gaston and to force him to work, while Gaston do every possible efforts to hide and avoid him. In the end, Gaston, with a defeated expression, directly ask Prunelle to give him the work because doing it will be less exhausting than avoiding it.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Several of Gaston's inventions turn against him.
  • Latex Perfection: Or Latex Perfection Dolls... Gaston owns a life-sized rubber doll of himself that gets repeatedly mistaken for him, or vice versa. In the most extreme cases, Fantasio once almost throws the real Gaston out of the window, mistaking him for the puppet, and another time he gets arrested for murder in the act of disposing it, and it takes the coroner hours to notice that something is amiss.
  • Lethally Stupid: Gaston loves making scientific experiences. But with all the disasters he causes, it's a miracle everyone around him is still alive... One of the best examples happens where, after too much tin can-related antics, Fantasio brings a mine detector to the office and finds a live World War II landmine. Gaston just wanted to open it to see how "that funny-looking hot water bottle" works.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Gaston's one and only outfit is a green turtleneck sweater, jeans, and frayed espadrille shoes.
  • Literal Ass-Kicking:
    • Both Fantasio and Prunelle have done this to Gaston on occasion. Prunelle once kicks Gaston so hard that he crashes head-first into the ceiling with enough force to send the contents of a paper bin on the upper floor flying.
    • Gaston himself, after having a lovely dream involving Mam'zelle Jeanne interrupted by the arrival of De Mesmaeker, is riled up enough, still half-awake, to kick the businessman in the bottom, ruining once again the contracts.
  • Literal Metaphor: Franquin is very fond of this.
    • De Mesmaeker will typically say one relating to the way the contract-signing (or the contracts themselves) is ruined. Fantasio and Prunelle also frequently react like this to Gaston's antics. For examples, after Gaston launches a dart that flies out the window and catches the freshly signed contracts before sticking them to a truck marked "International transport", which is departing for Copenhagen:
      De Mesmaeker: This time, the farce is going too far!
    • One gag has Fantasio giving Gaston instructions on the phone, but constant crackle on the phone meant he has to go there personally, complaining about the crackle... Only to find out that Gaston has been frying a meal while on the phone. "Friture" (frying, as in frying food with frying oil) being a slang term for the crackle from bad phone reception.
  • Literal-Minded: After Gaston receives letters calling him the "da Vinci of the twentieth century", he tries to imitates him as much as possible, up to painting Jeanne while she's posing like the Mona Lisa.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: For Jeanne, Gaston is a genius.
  • Loves Me Not: There's a strip where Gaston offers a cactus to Jeanne and finds out the next day that it lost its needles. Gaston then offers her a second cactus, which also loses its needles, prompting a confused Gaston to give her a third cactus. The last panel reveals that Jeanne plays "Loves me, loves me not" by plucking her cactus' needles.
  • MacGuffin: De Mesmaeker's contracts. We never learn what's in them (though it's implied advertising is involved), only that Gaston accidentally prevents them from being signed (or destroys them after the fact).
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Gaston once accidentally turns a chimney into a surface to air missile silo by using what is implied to be explosives to clean it, ripping a fighter jet that is passing above to shreds.
  • Manchild:
    • Gaston; sometimes Lebrac. One comic lampshades Gaston's childishness when after a day of everyone at the office complaining about his messiness, he feels like he's being treated like a child and angrily slams the door. In his office, we see his desk full with toys.
    • When Gaston have to be taken to an hospital because he ate a miniature plane, one surgeon play with it while another one ask him to give it to him.
  • The Maze: Whose bright idea was it to put Gaston in charge of the library anyway? Two months later, the place is in such a mess than Fantasio needs spelunking equipment, complete with food and radio, to go fetch a book. In a later story, Gaston has turned it into a literal maze for his coworkers to enjoy (they do, until Prunelle comes along).
  • Mean Boss: Fantasio and Prunelle. But considering how lazy and unproductive Gaston is, they pretty much have to be. Prunelle quickly realized that he cannot win, but the few times he does get back at Gaston, he shows that he is not without a sense of humor.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Lagaffe is a transparent enough name even in English. Fun fact: He started as simply "Gaston". Then, one day, he made a goof, so Fantasio nicknamed him "Gaston-la-gaffe". Then, Lagaffe became his official surname.
    • As for Labévue, it literally means "the blunder".
    • In the same vein, De Mesmaeker is another "mess-maker". This one is a coincidence: De Mesmaeker is named after fellow comic book artist Jidéhem's father, because when Franquin introduced him, everybody thought the character looked like said father. Jidéhem is the French pronunciation of the letters J-D-M — Jean De Mesmaekernote .
    • Longtarin is slang for "long nose".
    • Mr. Boulier (abacus), the accountant.
  • Meddlesome Patrolman: Joseph Longtarin is Gaston's nemesis, forever looking for a reason to give him a fine for this or that alleged traffic violation. Gaston retaliates with various practical jokes that often involve vandalizing parking meters.
  • The Millstone: Gaston always causes trouble with his ideas. Boulier's conclusion when he saw why his co-workers were less productive was that they are massively underpaid for working on the same floor as Gaston.
  • Misblamed: Nearly every time Gaston's gaffes involve authority figures such as policemen (except when it's Longtarin), firefighters or Mr. Dupuis, or very strong men it's others such as Fantasio, Prunelle, De Mesmaeker or Longtarin who will take the blame and sometimes even be assaulted for it.
  • Mona Lisa Smile: When Gaston receives a letter from someone calling him the modern Da Vinci, he decides to make his own version of the Mona Lisa and uses Jeanne as a model.
  • The Movie:
    • There was a live-action film based on the comic, called Fais gaffe à la gaffe ! It was an utter failure.
    • A new live-action film adaptation, simply titled Gaston Lagaffe, was released in early 2018. It was also a failure.
  • Never My Fault: Gaston seldom takes responsibilities for his actions (and when he does, he tries to escape it). For instance, he very rarely acknowledges how destructive the Gaffophone is and seems to think that his co-workers forbidding him to play it or complaining about the instrument destroying the plaster from the ceiling are just being petty.
  • No Antagonist: There are tensions between Gaston and his co-workers and Officer Longtarin, but no real villains.
  • No Can Opener: Gaston sneaks can-openers in at work after Fantasio refuses to let him eat when he's supposed to be working. Then he graduates to opening cans with office equipment, including a paper cutter and a vice (which worked, kind of, shame about the open window).
    Fantasio: You won the bet, Gaston, you managed to open your can of frankfurters. Alas, that big black dog in the street down there got to eat them.
  • No Name Given: A few examples:
    • A cartoonist seen in some gags.
    • A female secretary with long black hair who is Lebrac's love interest. Franquin said he once found a very fitting name for her, but forgot to note it down and then he couldn't remember it again. A supplementary illustrated article seems to confirm the secretary's name as "Solange", as the illustration makes her look like this recurring character, but it wasn't drawn or written by Franquin, so its canonicity is very dubious. That nameless secretary tends to be erroneously called "Sonia" which is actually the name of a different dark-haired lady secretary who stopped appearing in the comic before the nameless secretary appeared. The Delaf comic reboot seems to continue keeping her anonymous.
    • Subverted with Jef. He is unnamed in the comics, but his identity is confirmed on the official website. The Delaf comic reboot finally names him in-universe.
    • Although Gaston's cat and seagull become his most recurring pets once they were introduced, they're never given names, unlike several of his others pets. The cat has been called "Chat Dingue" (Crazy Cat) in some material, but it's very doubtful that's its actual given name.
    • A man with glasses and a chinstrap beard, with light brown hair, who looks a bit like Prunelle. He notably appeared on the back of the comic saying there'll never be a fifth album, and tends to be shown looking clueless.
  • Not in Front of the Parrot!: In one storyline, Gaston brought a parrot to office. After just one day of hard work, bird had already learned to imitate loud snoring.
  • Not Me This Time:
    • One gag has the workplace suddenly filled with a loud, repetitive, and absolutely nerve-wrecking sound, so everyone rushes to Gaston's office to order him to stop... Except it wasn't him, he is as confused as his coworkers, and then takes part in the search for its source. Turns out it was caused by Gaston's cat, who fell inside Gaston's tuba, and was clawing the metal instrument in an useless attempt at climbing out.
    • Another has the redaction working overtime, when suddenly the power fails. Everybody immediately looks at Gaston, but Prunelle vouches that it couldn't have been him, as he was right next to him and playing with his cat. The others remain skeptical, even when it turns out their office is not the only building affected, as they know from experience that Gaston is very well capable of causing a city-wide Big Blackout. In the end, the cause of the power failure is never revealed.
  • Not So Above It All:
    • Prunelle shows sometimes interest in Gaston's inventions. It usually ends badly for him, such as when he decided to jump on a Gaston-designed couch that looked irresistibly comfortable, not knowing it was a proof of concept built of concrete.
    • Even Boulier, the stern accountant, cannot resist playing with Gaston's smoke ring machine while Gaston is away. Of course he gets caught by his boss.
    • De Mesmaeker once trolled Fantasio with a latex imitation of himself; Fantasio didn't realise it so he spent the entire day trying to get the attention of the fake De Mesmaeker. De Mesmaeker is also sometime interested in Gaston's inventions and found his astronaut clock funny and made a contract with Gaston to mass product them. In another story, Gaston gives De Mesmaaker some soup he just cooked, and De Mesmaeker likes it so much he decides to get rid of the contracts he was supposed to sign... to make a contract with Gaston concerning the soup recipe!
  • Not the Intended Use: There is a gag in which Gaston melts glaze ice covering the street with a flamethrower.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Mr. Boulier, who is a stickler by the rules and etiquette, especially with Gaston.
  • Ocular Gushers: Whenever someone cries, it's usually in the form of large amounts of droplets spraying out in all directions. However, more subtle forms of crying are just as common.
  • Office Lady: Mam'zelle Jeanne. Her first appearance was when Gaston went around the office looking for a secretary to take to a costume party: he passed over the pretty ones and chose Jeanne, the plainest of the lot, because of her long ponytail (which ended up as part of his centaur outfit). note  However, this portrayal of Jeanne is Early-Installment Weirdness; Art Evolution will make her prettier.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Chemistry, cooking, botany, rocket science (he once built one that had members of the US Army, Air Force, Navy, and representatives from other armies fighting over whose branch would get it), model building... Subverted in that he only has enough knowledge in each field to make spectacular explosions.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted.
    • Longtarin and Boulier both have Joseph has their first name.
    • Jules-de-chez-Smith-en-face share his first name with the redaction's janitor.
  • Only One Name: Fantasio is an interesting example, as he's referred to as "Fantasio" by both characters he's on a First-Name Basis with (such as by his family) and those he's on a Last-Name Basis with (who refer to him as "Mr. Fantasio").
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: One strip has Boulier personally investigate why the 6th floor is perpetually late and unproductive. After a series of mishaps ("Oh, that? That Lagaffe's cat in a good mood" "That was Lagaffe's gull, she gets foul moods sometimes" "Hey guys, I'm going to start an experiment with a product that doesn't smell too good" "M'enfin?"), he calls the big boss to recommend an immediate massive pay raise for everyone who works there.
    M. Dupuis: You, M. Boulier, are asking me to—?
  • Overly Polite Pals: In one strip, Fantasio encourages Gaston to be more polite. This leads to a major traffic jam when he and another car driver refuse to go first into a street, blocking up every car behind them.
  • Pain to the Ass:
    • Whenever Gaston leaves something sharp, hot or otherwise dangerous on a chair, someone (usually Fantasio) will inevitably not see it when trying to sit down, resulting in this trope combined with Pain-Powered Leap. It doesn't help that Gaston tends to leave these dangerous objects on the chairs at people's desk.
    • There's also Gaston's cat, who loves to take naps on comfortable chairs, but doesn't appreciate being sit on, as De Mesmaeker painfully finds out when a whirlwind of claws reduce his pants to tatters.
  • Perpetual Motion Machine: Gaston invents one of the "weak" type. It doesn't do anything; it just hops around and gets on his co-workers' nerves.
  • Pet the Dog: Mr. Boulier has one in one strip when he inspects Gaston's floor to find out why productivity is so low. After dealing with the cat's joyous mood, Gaston experimenting with a malodorant product, the seagull being angry, and Gaston's experiment blowing up, he gets on the phone with Mr. Dupuis, clothes still in tatters, to recommend a massive raise for all his coworkers.
  • Pink Elephants:
    • Played with. Gaston once borrows an elephant from the local zoo and gives him a pink paint job, in order to play a practical joke on a friend who drinks too much. The original edition of the gag failed due to a colorist's error: the elephant is red in the album.
    • In another episode, Gaston is on his way to a costumed party dressed up as an eldritch alien creature, when Longtarin pulls him over for an alcootest. Longtarin, who had secretly been drinking while on duty, screams in horror at seeing Gaston's costume and the last panel sees him applying the alcootest to himself, while planning to take time off for a detox.
  • Plank Gag: Used in a few gags, with the eponymous klutzy character obviously being the one accidentally smashing the items into his unfortunate working colleagues' faces.
  • Powder Trail: Gaston once leaves one with a leaking bag of homemade rocket fuel. It ends up torching De Mesmaeker's contracts.
  • Product Placement: During the comic's run, there were two series of strips serving as advertisements.
    • In the early comics, there are a series of strips where the orange juice brand "Piedboeuf" becomes Gaston and Fantasio's trademark favorite drink to exaggerated levels. Fantasio can even convince the notoriously lazy Gaston to work just by promising him a single glass of orange juice.
    • The later comics have a series of strips advertising the "Bidule" batteries. These strips use a running gag where Gaston would put said batteries in various electronics, only for things to go horribly right because the batteries make electronics too powerful. A notable example include a strip where Jeanne uses a flashlight on the beach at night, only to be confused by a lighthouse by an angry sailor. These strips always end with Gaston saying, "This is Bidule's fault. They make batteries too powerful."
  • Professional Slacker: Gaston is the quintessential slacker in Franco-Belgian Comics.
  • Progressively Prettier: Jeanne was originally meant to be homely and quite grotesque-looking (her first appearance had her homeliness as a punchline), but she has evolved into becoming rather pretty. Franquin never intended to make her permanent at first, but since all the (admittedly pretty) other office ladies either quit their jobs or had other romantic interests and she was the only one left, he decided to have her mature. She's more or less the same age as Gaston, and Franquin always said that his character was never older than 18.
  • Pun: Lame ones, courtesy of Lebrac:
    Prunelle: They do really interesting experiments: it seems that rats respond to music.
    Lebrac: Indeed! Especially to ratpsodies.
    Prunelle: Rogntudju! That's the worst joke of the week!
  • Required Spinoff Crossover:
    • Spirou and Fantasio have made recurring appearances in the series, while Gaston has had cameos in a couple of Spirou & Fantasio adventures. Understandable, as he works in the same place they do — Franquin did decide to make Spirou and Fantasio less present in the journal before handing the characters off to Fournier.
    • Gaston is referred to later on, by Tome and Janry notably. He appears in a flashback from Fantasio in Le Groom du Sniper Alley, and Spip compares one of Fantasio's failed inventions to Gaston's in La Mort de Spirou. De Mesmaeker also appears in La Colère du Marsupilami, negotiating some contracts with Fantasio. It doesn't go well. Lebrac and Jeanne show up at the start of La Mort de Spirou.
  • Riddle for the Ages: What are those contracts about that M. De Mesmaeker is always trying to sign?
  • Roar Before Beating: Or Screech Before Attacking... the gull's distinctive "Hi-hi-hi-hi-HIARRRRRRRR!!!" is the only warning people get before a beak-divebombing.
  • Robinsonade: There's a series of strips where Gaston dreams about him and Jeanne being castaways on an island and deciding to live there. He compares their situation to Robinson Crusoe's.
  • Rugby Is Slaughter: Gaston briefly gives rugby a try but gives up after getting repeatedly and violently tackled. He decides to go home to the quietness of his beloved pets... who promptly proceed to wrestle a can of food off him, rugby-style.
  • Rule of Funny: Why Gaston never gets fired after he causes yet another destructive disaster.
  • Running Gag:
    • After more than 40 years, De Mesmaeker NEVER manages to successfully sign those goddamn contracts, as every single attempt has been thwarted by Lagaffe's antics.
      • On the few occasion when he has, he either actually signed something else, or Gaston destroyed them after the fact.
      • Once he took liking in one of Gaston's gastronomical experiments (a chicken-fish soup), and abandoned the intended contract for one about the rights to its recipe.
      • Almost the same thing happened another time, when Gaston had made a funny cuckoo-clock that looked like a space capsule, and had an astronaut instead of a cuckoo. De Mesmaeker found it hilarious, and immediately bought rights to manufacturing them.
    • Another common gag is Gaston being in charge of "ordering" the documentation room... Effectively turning it into a cavern made of books, which people are afraid to get near to without spelunking equipment "because of rockfall".
    • Gaston being ordered to deal with the late mail, which he usually avoids by hiding it or, in one case, (accidentally) destroying it.
    • Yet another returning gag was the office being burglarized by Freddy "Fingers". It is always Gaston's antics that get him caught, and he is usually found in such a dismal state the next morning (stuck in a giant cactus, buried under an avalanche of books, etc.) that the other characters take pity on him and send him home with some comics for his kids instead of handing him to the police.
    • Gaston's accidental tampering with the mail, resulting in foreign publishers getting upset about how they received anything but what they expected (usually food).
    • Gaston's project of "wax that shines without slipping", progressively more slippery in each iteration until he creates a perfect zero friction material.
    • The perpetual motion gizmo, once invented, is occasionally seen bouncing around in the background in later strips.
    • The "Parking Meter War" between Gaston and agent Longtarin.
    • Every time Gaston ends up crashing De Mesmaeker's car with another vehicle or anything with wheels (such as a radio-guided lawnmower or a statue on a wheeled plank), the cops will tell De Mesmaeker that he didn't had the right of way at the moment of the crash (usually angering him even more).
    • Longtarin's colleagues remarking that he's really not suited for being a traffic cop after being sent rolling or flying away by Gaston's inventions or mishaps.
    • A common gag involves Gaston showing off a hand-made costume to his colleagues. He often tells them who designed or imagined the costume and always remarks in the end that while the costume is original, it's not very convenient for dancing.
    • Another early gag was to have Fantasio trying to have a phone call with someone important, only to be interrupted by Gaston's (or one of his animals') antics, which leads him to yell at him and then having to profusely apologize to the person on the other end of the line, because they thinks he is cursing at them instead of Gaston.
  • Scale Model Destruction: Prunelle has an office building model destroyed by Lagaffe with a miniature model of the Gaffophone.
    De Mesmaeker: Thanks for this glimpse into the future... BWAAHAHAHAHAH!
  • Scary Shadow Fakeout: Featured several times, when the eponymous character's car, instrument or other materials create a frightening illusion in a low visibility area.
  • Security Cling: Lebrac's love interest is seen doing this to him in the final panel of the chainsaw incident. Despite the dangerous situation, he seems to rather appreciate it.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Gaston's friend Jules-de-chez-Smith-en-face (Jules-from-Smith's-across-the-street) is a guy named Jules, who "works" (just like Gaston "works") at Smith's Import & Export on the other side of the street.
    Prunelle: You're Jules from Smith's? Why aren't you across the street?
  • Shipper on Deck: People in the redaction seem to ship Gaston and Jeanne. At one point, they even trick them into going under some mistletoe.
  • Short-Distance Phone Call: Entering Gaston's office, Fantasio takes what he thinks is a call from the Ducran & Lapoigne note , managers of the bridge-building company in the next building. In fact, the phone is out of order, and he doesn't realize they're actually talking to him through a gaping hole in the wall.
    Fantasio: Hello? Yes, one of my colleagues has been playing around with a chemistry set, but I forbade him from using it any longer.
    Ducran: We have reasons to believe that you have not been...
    Lapoigne: ... thoroughly obeyed...
  • Silent Treatment: Gaston do this to Lebrac for two weeks after he tried to destroy his Gaffophone with termites.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Fantasio and Prunelle. While Prunelle has his signature ''"Rogntudju!"', Fantasio's language is censored out by Symbol Swearing.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Longtarin, the police officer constantly on the lookout for Gaston's traffic law infringements. There are quite a few instances where Gaston actively trolls the poor man.
  • Skewed Priorities:
    • Gaston is usually more concerned with the possible damage inflicted to his pets or possessions than to his fellow co-workers, even when it's clear the damage is inflicted the other way round. For instance he complains that his bowling ball will be smudged when it smashes into heads or feet.
    • One gag start with Longtarin scolding two kids for sledding on the road because if they get hit by a car they might damage it.
  • Sleepyhead: One of Gaston's defining traits. He's asleep most of the time when he's not causing disasters.
  • Slower Than a Snail:
    • One strip has Gaston getting angry at Fantasio for saying his car is slower than a turtle with asthma. Gaston then stop and tell Fantasio to continue on foot with Fantasio telling him he didn't need to stop for him to get out of the car. Then it's shown that Fantasio goes faster than Gaston's car by walking.
    • Another strip has Gaston's Alleged Car being outpaced by, among others, two rabbits and a group of hikers, and later still Prunelle has Gaston pull over (without stopping) so he can pick a few flowers.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Changed over time. Gaston started out as a casual smoker, which was quite normal for a young European male in the 1950s. But as Franquin wised up to the dangers of smoking, he had Gaston quit and eventually become something of an anti-tobacco activist. He once tampered with the Dupuis company's fire sprinklers so they drenched anyone who lit up indoors.
  • Spell My Name With An S: Is De Mesmaeker or Demesmaeker? Canonically, it's De Mesmaeker (Jidéhem — Jean De Mesmaeker). But since the speech bubbles are always written in all caps, and by hand, the lettering can get a bit crowded.
  • Spinoff Babies: Gastoon is a comic published in 2011, about Gaston's young nephew and his elementary-school-aged friends Jeanne, Jules, Bertrand and De Mesmaeker. It only lasted two books. Gastoon himself previously appeared unnamed in advertising-exclusive comics Franquin drew for Philips batteries.
  • Spontaneous Skeet Shooting:
    • One strip has Gaston subject the office to his record collection. When he tries to improve the record player, he instead makes it sling the record into the air. The final panel is a wild-eyed Prunelle gunning down the records as they fly up, continuously laughing that Gaston finally had a good idea.
    • Another strip has Gaston and a few coworkers go skeet shooting, when Gaston accidentally gets his foot caught in the machine. Fortunately, he manages to yell at the others to hold their fire as he's hurled upwards.
  • Sticky Situation: Gaston has once a Dream Sequence where he uses an old WWII bomber against a whaler boat — dropping a glue bomb of his invention on the crew, leaving them stuck together and unable to hunt any whale, to be freed at the end of the hunting season.
  • Strawberry Shorthand: One of Gaston's "famous" food dishes is cod with strawberries. Most people find it disgusting, but a few people are willing to try it.
  • Stuff Blowing Up:
    • Usually the result of Gaston's experiments, especially with chemistry. Of course cartoon physics apply so they are all Non-Fatal Explosions. Non-fatal (usually results in Ash Face), but a trip to the hospital is quite frequent.
    • Later he builds a miniature spark-throwing tank for his nephew, sending it straight towards a gas leak.
    • Once, Gaston and two unnamed workmen laying a new floor conduct a chemistry experiment that ends up tearing the entire building to shreds in a massive explosion. The last panel shows them lying on nearby rooftops with little more than Ash Faces and Clothing Damage, congratulating each other on the "greatest chemistry experiment ever".
  • Superficial Suggestion Box:
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Prunelle replaced Fantasio as the "mean boss" role. This was because Franquin didn't want Fantasio to be appearing both in the Gaston series and the Spirou series when he stopped writing Spirou. Played with as Prunelle is visually very different from Fantasio (Fantasio was clean-shaven, blond and always wearing a suit; Prunelle has dark hair and a beard, dresses more casually and is more vulgar and more prone to harm Gaston).
  • Swivel-Chair Antics: Various occurrences.
    • On one occasion, Gaston steps on one to put away a model aircraft's engine, and turns it on by mistake. He turns the chair into a propeller-driven vehicle.
    • He and Jules-de-chez-Smith-en-face hold a Chariot Race in swivel chairs once.
    • He once tries to take revenge on Fantasio by tying a firecracker to his chair, causing it to spin wildly. The plan works, as Fantasio is left so dizzy that he can barely walk.
  • Symbol Swearing: Mostly provoked by Gaston.
  • Take That!: In one comic, Gaston is building a model of a WWII-era bomber (at his desk, during his worktime, of course), and he has a thought bubble saying "those with swastika markings are said to be very popular... for morons."
  • Tan Lines: Gaston goes in vacation, but he needs to repair his car so often that only his legs end up tanned, because he stayed most of the time with his upper-body under his car.
  • Tears of Joy: Prunelle is often seen shedding a few tears on the rare occasion that De Mesmaeker actually manages to sign the contracts. Unfortunately for him, those hopeful moments never last long before the contracts are destroyed somehow.
  • Tear Up the Contract: A Running Gag is contracts being destroyed both intentionally and unintentionally, before or after being signed.
  • "Test Your Strength" Game: In one comic, Gaston finds a boxer-shaped machine at a junkyard and takes it home. Predictably, it gets away from him wheeling down a slope and rams De Mesmaeker's new car. The last panel has a cop writing a ticket for De Mesmaeker (the punch machine had right-of-way), while Gaston notes that the needle reads "Champion".
  • There Are No Therapists: De Mesmaeker really, really needs to see a therapist, and fast, considering how much any hindrance leads him to refuse to sign the contracts and literally turning red with anger. (He probably needs to see a heart surgeon soon enough, in any case.)
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The firemen uses this approach the moment they get a call about suspicious smoke or smell going on in the office. This backfires when Gaston is working on a new soap and they end up turning the whole place in a bubble bath by accident.
  • Those Two Guys:
    • Lebrac and Prunelle in their early appearances. Whenever they showed up, it would very often be together. Even after they became Ascended Extras, they would interact a lot, and generally seem to be pretty good friends.
    • The Van Schrijfboek twin brothers, Bertje and Jef, remained this. In addition, they're almost perfect twins (Jef is clean-shaven, Bertje has a thin beard).
  • Throw the Dog a Bone:
    • Fantasio and Prunelle sometimes manage to make Gaston work, usually by tricking or scaring him. He once works straight a whole day, being under constant surveillance by Mr. Boulier. As the day closes, he is called away for a doping test....
    • Officer Longtarin managing to give Gaston some pretty spicy parking tickets.
  • Toasted Buns: Gaston ends up burning his butt after testing a homemade jetpack with a badly angled propulsor.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Gaston in some comics. For example, once he decides to play at cup and ball with his bowling ball.
  • Troll: The gull. One strip has it fly around looking dejected, managing to get Prunelle and De Mesmaeker to mutually give up on the contracts, getting Lebrac to rip up his work... and then it starts laughing.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Just how Gaston's destructive antics and utter disregard for the company haven't gotten him fired yet is anyone's guess. Prunelle certainly wouldn't be opposed to terminating Gaston's contract if only to get him out his hair once and for all.
  • Understatement: This dialogue happens one time De Mesmaeker is here to sign the contract:
    Prunelle: If you find [Gaston], you knock him up, you bind him, you gag him and you hide the body in a closet...
    Lebrac: If I understand well, you'd prefer to not see him for the moment...
  • Under the Mistletoe: In one gag, Prunelle and Lebrac make Gaston and Jeanne go under some mistletoe. When Gaston kisses Jeanne, her ponytail raises under the excitement and her hair get tangled-up in the mistletoe so Gaston have to painfully separate them.
  • Unusual Chapter Numbers: The album numbers go as follows: R1, R2, R3, R4, 6, 7 and so on. There used to be no fifth album. This is because the original album printing was done in half-sized softcovers, five of them specifically, the sixth being the first hardcover. When the original five were reprinted (the four "R" albums), only three-and-a-half albums' worth of material could be obtained from the softcovers, the fourth album using humorous text filler and character logs to round up to a full album, leaving the fifth album gap and turning this into a Mythology Gag. After a while, a fifth album was compiled from gags that hadn't been published outside the journal yet, or that had been made for advertisement purposes. It was numbered R5. There's also an official parody titled Baston Labaffenote , a one-shot numbered 5 in its own series.
  • Vague Age: Gaston is obviously in his late teens or early twenties, as he has a job, a car, and his own place, but his age is indeterminate beyond that, and he often acts younger. Franquin, the creator of the series, admitted to neither knowing nor wanting to know Gaston's age. He mentioned that Gaston, in his mind, is a teenager.
  • Vulgar Humor: In-Universe, one of Gaston's anti-parking meter robots takes the form of a small dog cocking a leg against the meters. Longtarin feels it's beneath his dignity to respond, meaning he turns around and doesn't see that the dog is pissing super-concentrated acid...
  • Walking Disaster Area: Gaston really doesn't want to harm anyone, but due to his total lack of common sense he causes huge disasters no matter what he does. Even when he IS careful and DOES demonstrate common sense, he's unlucky — or someone or something else triggers a disaster. On one occasion, Prunelle claims he actually blew all the fuses in the building simply by looking at the fuse box (it is implied it was actually due to an ongoing experiment of Gaston going wrong elsewhere).
  • What the Hell, Hero?: When Gaston built a model World War II airplane that threw real bombs on Prunelle, as a Take That! on said warplanes being depicted in the magazine. Learning nothing from his mistake, he stated that for his next project he was building a tank "with realistic flame thrower."
  • William Telling: Played with. Fantasio puts on a sleeping Gaston's head an apple already pierced by an arrow, then stands with a bow on the other side and screams in joy, waking Gaston up...
    Fantasio: Every time you fall asleep, I'm training. You see, the hardest part of this beautiful sport is to find a partner that doesn't shake in fear when I'm about to shoot.
    [beat, followed by Gaston working intensively]
    Fantasio: Sudden insomnia, huh?
  • Year's Supply Prize: In the final "Piedboeuf" sponsored strip, Gaston uses the sponsorship money to buy a lifetime supply of "Piedboeuf" orange juice.