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Comic Book / Groo the Wanderer

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Groo the Wanderer is a Comic Book created and drawn by Sergio Aragonés and written by him and Mark Evanier (with Stan Sakai lettering). It started off as a parody of Barbarian Heroes, most notably Conan, making fun of fantasy tropes along the way. As the series continued, however, the stories shifted to general comedy, with occasional commentary on Real Life social events and situations. Over the last twenty-five years, more than 150 issues have been printed by five different publishers, most recently by Dark Horse Comics.

Befitting his comedic roots, Groo is an uncomplicated character: he wanders the land with his loyal canine companion Rufferto, performing various odd jobs that almost inevitably involve fighting. Although well-intentioned, Groo is also reliably slow of mind, and his frequent errors lead to disaster.

As a long-running series, he has built up a vast repertoire of supporting characters, most notably the Sage and the Minstrel. These characters appear more frequently when Groo runs as a regular ongoing series, but tend to disappear in stand-alone limited series.

Expect lots of Running Gags about cheese dip and mulchnote .

The numerous Groo series contain examples of the following tropes:

  • Abandon Ship: Almost always happens whenever Groo gets on board a boat.
    • His ability to sink ships has actually been exaggerated over time. Originally he would often do something idiotic, like take wood from the bottom of the ship to fix a hole in the side. Eventually it got to the point that as soon as he steps on board the ship spontaneously springs a leak and goes to the bottom of the sea. The only way he can safely board a ship now is when he is with Rufferto.
    • Invoking this trope for material gain doesn't work either, as demonstrated in the Friends and Foes arc. Captain Ahax concocts a scheme to get Groo to sink his ship so that he can claim the insurance money. However, the ship arrives safely at port, leading to Ahax's arrest and financial ruin. Only afterwards does Groo accidentally sink the ship.
  • Abhorrent Admirer:
    • Groo is strongly attracted to the beautiful swordswoman Chakaal. She's not interested... although his Dogged Nice Guy approach has at least reduced her abhorrence.
    • Groo got one himself at one point, a woman called Macha (with her dog Buffas being one to Rufferto). This lasted until Groo and Rufferto realize that the best way to get rid of their abhorrent admirers is to act like cowards.
  • Action Girl: Chakaal.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Not any of the characters, but for some bizarre reason, Groo's Trademark Favorite Food, cheese dip, is changed to mayonnaise in Sweden.
  • An Aesop: Most Groo stories have a moral at the end, usually not very serious.
  • Alliterative Family: Though it's never explicitly stated, "Groo" appears to be a family name of sorts — Groo's sister is named "Grooella", and his grandmother is Granny Groo. In The Life of Groo, Groo's father does refer to it as the family name and the Sage calls Groo's father "Groo" (which would not be confusing at all). Apparently it means "The cattle are dying".
  • Always Accurate Attack: Groo was trained to be this with his katanas. Unfortunately, he still can't fight nearly as effectively without them; he's still a borderline-unstoppable force with anything remotely sword-like, he's just not an army-slaying whirlwind of death.
  • Amazon Brigade: Both Groo and Chakaal fought a few, notably the Sirenas from issue 50 of the Marvel run (With Chakaal killing their leader) and Queen Nada from the Friends and Foes issue 7.
  • Ascended Extra: When Rufferto first appeared in a story about a royal family that had lost their beloved dog and his incredibly valuable jeweled collar, nobody expected the dog to still be around after the story was over. Astoundingly, he survived his meeting with Groo and went on to become Groo's inseperable companion and only in-universe fan.
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: Done for drama in "The Death of Groo" graphic novel. Groo goes to his own funeral expecting there to be much sadness at his demise. There isn't; everybody at that funeral had endless trouble from him, and they are all delighted at his "death."
    Grooella: Today I have become something I have always wanted to be... an only child!
    Drumm: I will say the nicest thing I can about Groo. He is dead. Thank you.
  • Author Tract: Aragones, having escaped fascist Spain as a child when Franco and his jackboot thugs were getting insufferable, has little patience for authoritarians of any kind, secular or religious. This is not lost in the comics.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: One story ends with the villain, a drug kingpin, overthrowing the king and replacing his old Fantastic Drug operation with the more mundane coffee and nicotine. Also notably one of the few stories to avoid having a Spoof Aesop.
  • Barbarian Longhair: The title character is a barbarian with long hair. He is very stupid and exceptionally skilled with a sword.
  • Barefoot Sage: The Sage actually; granted, all of the setting's characters are barefoot with a handful of exceptions. Even stories set in the Arctic have the characters barefoot, even if they're wearing heavy furs everywhere else.
  • Berserk Button: Groo is not a mendicant. Started in the second issue ever, where it was kind of justified because he had just lost all his money, and continued for years even some time after he learned to read and found out what it meant.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: Pipil Khan's three sons: a large, burly warrior (Etrufio), a powerful magician (Ogamio), and the scheming, weaselly runt of the family (Relmihio), who ironically is the son who physically resembles Pipil Khan the most.
  • Black Blood: When there's blood at all, it's depicted this way. Even though no attempt is made at all to pretend the people being gored aren't human.
  • Blood Knight: Groo.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Averted originally, but as the series progressed Mark Evanier joked that "red ink is too expensive."
  • Brick Joke: Wait... what does TV Tropes mean "slow of mind"? (This was a brick joke the first time it occurred, but it quickly became a Running Gag.)
  • Bullying a Dragon: Despite knowing full well how violent and short-tempered Groo is, many people mock his lack of brains and laugh at him, often right in front of him, and that's not even touching on the characters who try to take advantage of Groo and end up badly injured or dead for it.
  • Buried Alive: Happens in issue 110 of the Marvel run. A greedy king fakes his death via a potion to leave the city because he hates how poor it is and because the people keep whining about Isagul (an undead monster that terrorizes the city every night), even reminding his advisor that only he knows where the royal treasury is. Unfortunately for him Groo used all the caskets to trap Isagul, resulting in him being buried in the desert. The royal advisor begins digging through the desert to find the king since only he knew the location of the royal treasury, with the aforementioned king wondering what's taking them so long...
  • Calling Me a Logarithm: Groo becomes violently enraged whenever someone calls him a "mendicant," even though he has no idea what the word means. Even compliments outside his limited vocabulary (such as "a true gourmand" or "Samaritan") can have the same effect.
  • Canine Companion: Rufferto to Groo, and Mulch to the Sage.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Many.
      "Now Groo does what Groo does best!"
      "Did I err?"
      "What pirates?"
    • "I will mulch you!" Mark Evanier lamented that he should've known after getting mailed cheese dip by hundreds of fans every month what this catch phrase would lead to...
      • That is one of many ways the word was used. The tradition started with a story where Groo wandered into a village where all the women had been abducted by Sky Pirates. Any mention of what the women were needed for made the villagers list several tasks, always ending with a reference to mulching (some times accompanied by a shoveling motion). A number of readers asked what the word meant, and in the next issue the editor filled the letter column with their notes and his answers - which all consisted of the dictionary definition of the term. The rest is history.
      • The phrase also crept into other comics, such as Usagi Yojimbo (including an overexpository "I will cut you into fertilizer or mulch!")
      • "Mulch" was also revealed to be the name of the Sage's dog — at the end of a Running Gag where everyone who mentioned the Sage in any context would also mention his dog ... and then be interrupted or interrupt himself with the question, "Say, what's that dog's name, anyway?"
      • The joke itself came from the letters page, where it was a running gag to ask what the dog's name was (strangely, no one ever asked what The SAGE's actual name was). They combined the gags and made it canon.
    • Another catch phrase is 'I am the Prince of Chichester!' whenever Groo can't think of anything to say. At one time he was was forced to memorize that line for one of Granny Groo's cons. He couldn't remember it when it was needed, and now says it at random, usually when asked by another character, "Do you know what you must remember?"
      • Chichester itself was an in-joke; it was the last name of their editor at the time.
    • Also "I can drink eight beers! Bring me eight beers!" (Drumm is a font of these, although Taranto said it first).
  • Chain of Deals: Appeared in the Epic Comics run: to save the Sage from imprisonment, Groo makes a deal with the King to fetch a prized MacGuffin. He traveled for weeks, only to find the owner of that item would only trade it for another. This went on for months and carried him all around the continent. When he finally returned, he learned that the King had died, and his replacement didn't care about the original MacGuffin: instead, he wanted every other object that had been through Groo's hands... and a prune danish. (Groo didn't take it well.)
  • Characterization Marches On: Megatheos and the other gods in Groo's world. When they are introduced in the Wager of the Gods arc, they are generally a childish and petty lot who are mostly interested in bragging about their respective heroes. Megatheos is also this, in addition to being lazier than the other gods, with Chakaal refusing to do his bidding on account of him being "a lazy god who neglects the people who call to him until he needs them for his own amusement," to quote her. Much later, in Fray of the Gods and Play of the Gods, their personalities are very different, with all of them looking upon the events on earth with much concern, and with Megatheos in particular standing out as a level-headed and prescient god.
  • Chess with Death: Groo once bested Death in a swordfight.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder:
    • Taranto. Whenever Groo meets him, he asks, "Taranto, am I not mad at you for trying to have me killed?" Taranto talks him out of it easily... then betrays him again.
    • Groo's been known to do this, himself - not out of malice, but from forgetfulness or sheer enthusiasm.
      Groo: Sometimes, when people hire me to slay, I slay the people they hired me to slay, and then I slay the people who hired me to slay the people I slayed for them!"
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: In Groo: Fray of the Gods and Groo: Play of the Gods it is shown that the gods in Groo's world need people's belief and worship to exist, very much like the gods in Discworld. Indeed, as a result of the shenanigans in Play of the Gods, Groo ends up becoming the god of cheese dip and mindless fraying, much to the horror of all the other gods.
  • Con Man: The partners Pal and Drumm (say it out loud), and Groo's gypsy grandmother, Granny Groo. They both have the incredibly foolish habit of including Groo in their schemes.
  • Cool Boat: From issue 57 of the Marvel run we got the ship Chinampa, which is big enough to be a island in its own right. What makes it more epic is that Groo was captain for a time and was able to accidentally help the crew immensely, even when he took the plank and made it look like the ship sank (which was impossible due to Rufferto.) It was close enough to land that it legimately turned the massive ship into its own island. Groo never knew that the inhabitants were extremely grateful and not only saw him as their hero, but also were ready to name their new island after him.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Chakaal comes up with one for the music-hating King Debar, who banned music in his kingdom under pain of imprisonment: He is forced to listen to the same musicians he once imprisoned play music non-stop.
  • Crossover:
  • Court Jester: The Minstrel certainly dresses the part.
  • Delayed Reaction:
    • Sometimes delayed for months.
      Someone: Groo, you can not understand this, since you are slow of mind.
      Groo: [pages later] ...What he mean "slow of mind"?
    • In one extreme case, he utters this phrase in response to a childhood flashback.
  • Culture Chop Suey: And then some! Groo world is comprise of various medieval culture that basically mixes matches one another.
  • Destructive Saviour: Groo often falls into this role. Part of the series premise is that he often causes more damage than whatever danger he's fighting.
  • Dirty Coward: Emperor Sakisama, who faints at the sight of blood, but has no trouble taking credit for his doppleganger Groo's victories in his name.
  • The Ditz: Groo.
  • Doom Magnet: There are a few, a few, people who haven't suffered from being in the same general area as Groo:
    • Just about everyone who really suffers from encountering Groo deserves it to some degree. And those few people who look beyond Groo's faults and show true heart and/or kindness are generally better off for having met him... even if it's mostly by accident.
    • He once did once help a free a group of slaves by exposing veins of gems by causing a block of rock they were excavating to fall off and shatter (which had taken them 20 years to get that far, and even Groo realized he'd screwed up massively this time). But as the slaves came to thank Groo, he thought that they were chasing him off (as so many other crowds have). Groo ran away without ever learning the truth.
    • Played with in The Most Intelligent Man in the World. Most people, in and out of universe, assume that Groo's status as one is due to his stupidity and fightlust, and indeed when cured of both Groo proves every bit the folk hero that Chakaal is... until the reader looks at the bigger picture and realize that everything Groo has done has accidentally been to the effect of protecting and consolidating the power of the local mafia.
  • The Dreaded: Almost everyone has heard of Groo, and everyone is absolutely terrified of him. A Running Gag in the series has one of the one-shot characters remark on the danger they're facing, and that the person who showed up to stop it is Groo, then remark that they were better off with the original threat.
  • The Drifter: Groo travels through an endless series of villages, kingdoms, and cities, all of whom are glad to see him move on. Many of the other characters are more welcome wanderers.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Groo was in the right when he pointed out that gurus can easily manipulate people into believing their words by saying things they want to hear.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The original Eclipse run through the first few years of Marvel/Epic:
    • Groo was certainly dim, but not cartoonishly stupid.
    • While many disliked him and many knew of him, he wasn't a universally hated person nor known to everyone. In fact, he's shown to have a few friends here and there.
    • Rufferto didn't appear until issue #29 of the Epic run (and only became a permanent cast member in #36).
    • While the series was always comedic, it had a bit of a darker and more mature tone, with graphic, bloody fights and occasional nudity (tho somewhat muted by Sergio's cartoony style).
    • While the art is always recognizably Sergio, it hadn't gelled to the more cartoony style universally recognized.
  • Easy Amnesia: Taken to its extreme in a story where some characters need Groo to keep his memory while others need him to forget. They literally turn Groo's memory on and off by hitting him repeatedly on the head.
  • Elephant Graveyard: An early comic plays this for laughs, with Groo following a wheezing, doddery old elephant in the hope of a meal, and finding a huge field of elephant bones. Groo is excited at finding tons of ivory, but his celebration is cut short when the dying elephant falls on him.
  • Emergency Food Supply Animal: Subverted; when Groo first meets Rufferto, Rufferto thinks he's found a caring new master, but what he sees as Groo's affection is really just hunger. Soon afterward Groo thinks he has eaten Rufferto and becomes overwhelmed with guilt. When Rufferto finally shows up alive and well, Groo genuinely becomes a caring master.
  • The End... Or Is It?: In "The Aranja", Groo and Chakaal are hired to kill a giant spider that is terrorizing a village. Stumbling drunkenly around the spider's cave, Groo notices something he figures is important and tries to tell Chakaal, who is unfortunately too busy to listen. Soon after, Groo has forgotten the whole thing. As the heroes depart at the end of the story, the readers are shown what Groo discovered: The aranja was a female, and it had laid several eggs, which are just starting to hatch.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: As shown in The Life of Groo, when Groo's mother chastises the mercenaries hired to kidnap her son, the mercenaries start remembering their own mothers, tearfully handing Groo back to his mom before chasing the guy who hired them for the job.
    • In fact it was Groo's mother (who honestly does love her son) that fostered his more heroic traits (just like the sage tried to tell Groo's father a long time ago).
  • Everyone Chasing You: A frequent ending, especially in the Marvel/Epic series.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Sage and The Minstrel.
  • Exact Words: In one issue, Groo is hired by a kingdom at war to "guard this bridge" against an invading army. Groo takes up his position before the bridge, and the army approaches slowly, seeing Groo there. They cross the bridge under his watchful eyes unmolested. After the invaders overthrow the kingdom, the fleeing King demands of Groo why he didn't guard the bridge, Groo is confused:
    Groo: But I did guard the bridge! No one damaged the bridge! No one stole the bridge! No one soiled the bridge! When Groo guards a bridge, Groo guards a bridge!
  • The Exile: Pal is this as he was apparently banished by the Queen of Onovid for scamming.
  • Expressive Accessory: The head of the Minstrel's lute changes into a different object in every panel.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Groo.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Idiocy rather than evil, but while Groo is a sell sword through and through, and has no compunctions about theft or killing, he balks at slavery.
    • He also refused an order to invade a country because it had no army, and its inhabitants had no swords.
    • In a flashback scene in The Death of Groo, he is shown to be vaguely uncomfortable about King Krag's tactic of attacking and overrunning unsuspecting neighbouring cities under a false flag of surrender, though his stupidity prevents him from further articulating his anxiety. Fittingly enough, at the next city Groo unwittingly ruins Krag's scheme.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Granny Groo once had Groo take part in her "fake wedding scheme" for him to marry the very ugly daughter of a rich farmer. Granny and the farmer both told their respective relatives that the looks of their future spouse didn't matter. Regardless, Groo (not exactly a looker himself) and the daughter took one look at each other, then ran away screaming. It doesn't get any better at the actual wedding, as the two are too horrified by each other to kiss.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Because Groo causes trouble everywhere he goes, he has to keep wandering.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Arcadio. Whenever Groo manages to somehow get something right, Arcadio is always there to step in and take the credit. Mind you, Arcadio is a powerful hero in his own right (he once killed a thousand dragons by himself, a situation Groo put him in), he's just not as stubborn or dedicated as Groo, who'll happily travel to the far corners of the Earth for even the most minor of tasks. Arcadio is just better at maintaining the image of a fantasy hero.
  • Fictional Currency: Kopins are the universal currency. When Groo travelled to a far off land to escape his reputation he ended being unable to pay for his meal because the local currency were "Varos".
  • Flanderization: In the early stories, Groo was just...pretty stupid. He later became so stupid it defies belief, at which point his stupidity also became a central premise of the comic. Groo may actually be too dumb to die.
  • The Fool: Groo is probably the biggest example of them all. Barely capable of feeding himself, Groo brings bad luck wherever he goes and has a bad habit of decimating whole towns and cities, often as a result of trying to help the local residents. Nearly every comic ends with him being chased by an angry mob while he tries to figure out why.
  • Forced Transformation: Witches and wizards in Groo's world enjoy doing this to their enemies (ducks being especially popular); sometimes if really angry they will transform them into the most horrible thing they can think of... Groo! Sadly, having multiple Groos bumbling about usually results in even greater catastrophe.
  • Forged by the Gods: In a Groo special (WAY back when he was in Eclipse) the one who handed Groo his pair of katanas, they revealed a myth where both swords were forged by the gods and with them the gods severed the island he was on from the main land. In fact to this day even though they existed for a long time they are still as sharp as of the modern day. (Have to stress that he had to train himself to wield them at first).
  • Friendlessness Insult: In one story, Groo gains the ability to make all his wishes come true. He wishes all his friends to appear on the spot he is, so he'll fulfill their dreams. The only one who shows up is the Sage, who twists the knife by saying that HE is Groo's only real friend!
  • The Gods Must Be Lazy: In one of the Sage's stories, the gods are described as the lazy sort who brag about their favored heroes and create quests to show off the heroes' abilities.
  • Hated by All: Due to causing disaster wherever he goes, Groo is unwelcome anywhere that has heard of him.
  • Hidden Depths: Groo CAN in fact make some pretty decent non-violent plans when properly motivated, or confronted with obstacles even he can't take down by brute force, it's just that these plans tend to backfire or bite him in the ass later, so he prefers relying entirely on his sword skill.
    • Turns out Groo has the skills necessary to create functional musical equipment thanks to the Sage.
  • History Repeats: In the first issue of the Image continuity, after Groo (in a rare moment of success) was able to bring a group of refugees into a new land, even telling Rufferto that they can turn that spot into paradise since they know what it is like to be oppressed... they then meet the natives.
    Native 1: You are welcome to any lands that our people do not inhabit. There is plenty for all! We know you will not spoil the water or slay all the antelope!
    Native 2: There will always be enough, so long as we respect one anothers culture and rights! We can all live forever in harmony
    Groo: (Thinking) That is true... So why do I hear ugly music in my head?.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Rufferto thinks that Groo is a great, intellectual hero and that his idiotic bumblings are really subtle, ingenious strategies. He also thinks that everyone else loves and respects Groo as much as he does, while in reality, they're just scared shitless of him.
  • I Can't Believe I'm Saying This: In one mini-series, Groo became hyper-intelligent, and everyone who knew him was shocked by this. When the witches Arba and Dakarba saw him reason out a solution to a problem, Arba exclaimed, "Groo, you are brilliant!" and then thought, "There is a sentence I never thought I would say."
  • Idiot Hero: Really, Groo's picture should be on the page.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: "What do you mean slow of mind?" said several pages after someone calls says slow of mind (once even to a flashback).
  • I Surrender, Suckers: In The Death of Groo, this was King Krag's preferred battle tactic...until Groo mucked it up (by accidentally soiling the white flag).
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: Due to Sergio's art style, this is a virtually universal characteristic of young women in Groo's world.
  • Insult Backfire: In the Day of the Pig arc, the main villain, a demagogue who has gathered a large following by telling people what they want to hear, falls victim of this when he tries to insult a man by asking him "Who died and made you king?" The man being asked is none other than the city's king himself. Predictably, his answer is a deadpan "My father."
  • The Jinx: Groo. Among other things, any ship he's on will sink unless Rufferto is also onboard.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Groo fights with two, one in each hand.
  • Lizard Folk: In contrast to a lot of fantasy settings, lizard-folk in Groo aren't inherently evil.
  • Loved by All: Chakaal's legend is deservedly great, and she is hailed as a great hero wherever she goes. So is Arcadio, but in his case, it's because he looks the part, not because he did all the things he took credit for.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Whenever Groo walks into a village, expect a large panel of villagers going "Groo?!"
  • Ms. Fanservice: A consequence of Sergio's art style - there tend to be a lot of beautiful maidens in the crowd scenes. Not to mention Dakarba and Chakaal among the recurring characters.
  • Never Learned to Read: The 100th issue of the Marvel run is about Groo finally learning to read. It's handled with more pathos and drama than most of Groo's adventures.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Whenever Groo sets out to do good, the people he's assisting are in trouble.
    • The Sage tries to give good advice but it does get misinterpreted or causes more damage than good. He once told a king to build a wall to keep Groo out: this notion escalated REALLY quickly and ended in the kingdom destroyed.
    • zigzagged in 'The Music of Murkos'.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Rufferto. Evanier once claimed he couldn't give Groo a human sidekick because he'd have to be even stupider than Groo, but a dog would be unquestioningly loyal and wouldn't notice Groo's stupidity anyway.
  • Oblivious to His Own Description: Groo, on numerous occasions, especially with synonyms of "stupid".
    Groo: What did he mean, "slow of mind"?
  • Oh, Crap!: The usual reaction to Groo... sometimes before he's even done anything.
  • Origins Episode:
    • One story shows Groo early in his life as a warrior, as well as where he got his iconic swords, beginning as a soldier for the warlord Fuchikaka, and, after blowing a major battle singlehandedly in an Establishing Character Moment, is captured by the forces of the cowardly Emperor Sakisama, whom he is a dead ringer for. He is trained to replace Sakisama on the battlefield to make it appear as if the emperor has become a skilled warrior, and is given his swords as part of the deal. By the time the story is over, Groo has not only managed to screw up the assignment, but also caused the entire village to be massacred, and escapes the carnage to begin Walking the Earth.
    • The graphic novel The Life of Groo showed his birth and his early years. As it turns out, his stupidity is the result of a curse placed on his father for insulting the wizard who ruled their kingdom.
    • The Minstrel gets his in the final chapter of Friends & Foes, where it's revealed he was once an ordinary man with a wife and daughter who was forcefully recruited into the army. After he was kicked out for being a terrible soldier (though not as terrible as Groo) he rushed back home, only to find his home city destroyed by the war and his family missing. Since that day he's walked the earth, constantly performing while searching for his loved ones. He finally manages to be reunited with his daughter Kayli.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Groo's world is inhabited by dragons of many different sub-species. Although almost all are fire-breathing, they are flightless (and usually wingless), and have animal-level intelligence. Most are green, have a therapod-like body shape and a ceratopsian neck frill, and have plates or spikes running down their spine. They are pretty foul-tempered and can't be domesticated, although there are a few examples of dragons being semi-tame.
  • Overt Operative: Proof of the "Greater Fool" theory: Groo was once employed as a spy.
    Groo: [to the people he's spying on] No one must know that I am a spy! Make sure everybody knows that!
  • Perpetual Poverty: Groo has occasionally come into money. It's strictly a temporary thing.
  • Pet the Dog: Groo does get these at times, as seen here in Death of Groo The Wanderer
  • Princeling Rivalry: To see who gets named as the ruler after Pipil Khan dies, his sons (Etrufio, Ogamio and Relmihio) are given the task of killing Groo.
  • Prefers Going Barefoot: Most characters (including Groo) footgear seems reserved to royalty, priests, and the wealthy.
  • Propaganda Machine: To make sure he gets to be Pipil Khan's heir, Relmihio uses the earliest form of news format to his advantage. His plans begin to unravel, however, due to various reasons, a major one being when the editor of the newspaper refuses to print his propoganda any further.
  • Proverbial Wisdom: The Sage is a perfect example: every single sentence he says in the entire run of the comic is immediately followed by a saying of some kind, most of them made up. Many are truly wise, but a few are worthy of Groo himself...
  • Psychic Block Defense : Done for laughs in one story, where an evil wizard is attempting to read Groo's mind... and fails spectacularly, because there's nothing to read. In-context, it also counts as a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • "Reading Is Cool" Aesop: Played with, but not actually averted, in the 100th issue. Trapped with a wise old man in a cave with no exits (except for one on the roof), Groo gets bored enough to pay attention to the old man's teachings. Having learned to read, he manages to escape and got a job at a village library. Eventually a group of greedy treasure-hunters hearing about 'the treasure' intrude into the village, and in their search for gold and jewels set the library on fire. Taranto and Pal were among the looters, and their usual attempts to trick Groo into helping them only led to a sound pummeling. The series' usual Status Quo Is God was given an exception: Groo remained literate (not intelligent, just literate).
    Taranto: Watch this! I can handle him! Groo, do you not remember me? Your old friend Taranto?
    Groo: I remember you... [begins to attack Taranto and his forces]... And I remember I am very mad at you—!
    [after Taranto and his men are thrashed or running, Groo sees Drumm cheerfully standing by, holding a sign reading "YOU ARE A MENDICANT"]
    Groo: Drumm... do you know what it says on that paper?
    Drumm: [curiously] No. [Groo turns his attention to Pal]
    Pal: Uhh, Groo... I was kidding! It was a joke, would you harm a person for a joke? [Groo beats Pal senseless]
    Pal: [thinking] Apparently, he would.
    Groo: Learn to read, Drumm. It makes it harder for people to fool you.
  • Reformed Criminal: In Issue #103, Groo when he hear three crooks bemoaning their lot in life) decide to give them a fresh start in a village (That luckily hadn't heard of him) he was able to get two into a apprenticeship and one into having a home. Unlike most other instances, this plan DOESN'T backfire on Groo.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The Minstrel. Sergio apparently dislikes writing dialogue for the character since English is his second language. Truthfully, Evanier writes the Minstrel's rhymes, but he does hate it, because it's time consuming to think them all up.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: During Groo’s crossover with Conan the Barbarian.
  • Running Gag: Lots, often Lampshaded by scribe Mark Evanier.
    • The comic even has a running gag that there is only one joke - yes, a running gag about a running gag. It's even supposedly caused people not to read the comic because they heard it has only one joke.
    • "You take me for the fool that I am!"
    • " any fool can plainly see." (To which Groo always replies, "I can plainly see that!")
    • I am the Prince of Chichester!
    • "What pirates?"
    • "What do you mean slow of mind?" (Brick Joke after someone calls Groo this, not responded to till the end of the issue and often not until they meet again many issues later)
    • Groo getting upset at someone calling him a mendicant, while also not knowing what it means (until he learned to read... then he forgot again).
    • Groo being pretty sure he's mad at Taranto, and Taranto talking him out of it.
    • No matter what, if Ajax is captaining a ship, Groo will eventually sink it...even if he's not aboard.
    • Groo's love of cheese dip.
    • Any cartoon depicting the creators always has Sergio's English much worse than it actually is (Rule of Funny), Mark heavier than he actually was (though that stopped being an exaggeration after a while... Mark since has trimmed down), and Tom Luth being overwhelmed and stressed trying to color in all of Serigio's ridiculously detailed backgrounds. The letterer Stan Sakai seems to get off the hook (other than being the basis for Scribe to Mark's Weaver in the comic).
    • For a while, calling every issue #1 in the opening creator's comic by Sergio (during the great comic book speculation of the 90s).
    • The letter's pages themselves, which took on a life of their own of people writing in silly, bizarre letters and Mark's snarky answers to them.
      • Before they went bizarro, asking the same questions over and over to get different responses out of Mark (besides What Mulch Means, which always got the same standard answer):
      • What was the blue thing on Groo's chest (popular answer was a videotape Groo kept meaning to return; later, Mark revealed the true tragedy of it; it was a Beta. In reality it's just a decorative buckle).
      • What was Sage's dog's name (finally revealed to be Mulch, a tie in with the gag of the same name)
      • Why does The Minsterel's lute head change panel to panel (getting tired of this one, Mark gave an eloquent speech on That's Just How Things Are In Comics Sometimes)
      • Who Kim Yeoman was (a fan wrote a letter in that took on a life of its own and she took years writing back after repeated requests from Mark...she finally wrote back and these days she's a member of the About As Official As It Gets Groo Mailing List (The Groop)).
    • What Mark's actual job on the comic was (he is the co-plotter/scripter, but that's not as funny as the titles he gave himself on the mastheads). Until the modern Dark Horse era mini-series (where he's often credited properly, although they will still stick in the occasional mast head joke), the only time he received a true (and sole) writing credit in the masthead was for the issue where Rufferto became human.
    • Mark lamenting that Sergio keeps forgetting to pay him (for whatever it is he does), or Sergio joking "I'll even pay you this time!" along the same lines.
    • Groo not only sinks ships, but comic book companies (Eclipse folded after 12 issues of Groo, they moved to another company and did one special for them and then folded soon after, at which point they jumped to Marvel's Epic imprint, which folded during its still impressive 112 issue run, with Groo being Marvel's last creator-owned comic before jumping to Image, which technically still exists, but began splintering greatly during the Groo's time there. Dark Horse so far is still standing).
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Groo does it himself to a creature called a Isagul. He tried killing it but it came back to life, he tried trapping it in a nailed shut wooden casket (It broke free). So he went overkill with trying to trap it in the matryoshka doll of sealed evil stuff
    Groo: Ah... He is dead again! This time I am making it permanent! first I wrap you in the cloth of the dead... then I put you in a casket... [starts hammering] But since you escape from one casket, I put the casket in another casket... And then that casket in another casket... and so on and on... (finally) I do not know how many that is but he is inside the many coffins we made for the king... Now, we put all those coffins into the sarcophagus.
  • Schmuck Bait: Groo himself is seemingly irresistible Schmuck Bait for anyone who needs a dupe for their cunning plan: it almost always ends up back-firing. Except when the manipulating character counted on it backfiring - for instance, taking out a loan to buy a massive insurance policy on a ship and then inviting Groo aboard will result in the vessel not sinking - with catastrophic results for the would-be insurance fraud. In another example, Drumm cannot resist calling Groo a mendicant despite being beaten up for it every time.
  • Show Some Leg: Invoked. One story has the witches Arba and Dakarba thrown into the dungeon. The witches transform most of their cellmates into ducks in a pique of irritation. Pal (who is also one of their cellmates, but not a duck) suggests that a cell full of ducks is unlikely to aid in escape, but a cell full of beautiful women...
  • Shrouded in Myth:
    • In one story, the tyrant Pipil Khan keeps hearing stories about all of the battles Groo has won and the carnage he has inflicted on his forces, and imagines that Groo must be a huge, fierce warrior with demonic powers. Then the real Groo finally shows up — a rather short, scruffy, plump guy with a broken nose and stick legs — and Pipil Khan dies from shock.
    • In Groo vs. Conan, Conan's subjects, having no knowledge of Groo outside of his being characterized as a monster, make him into an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: See Con Man: Granny Groo and Pal both run schemes of this sort on a pretty regular basis.
  • Speech Impediment: Pipil Khan suffers from this (should stress that it's only him and not his three sons).
  • Springtime for Hitler: Groo is usually trying to do what's right (emphasis on 'trying'.) Whenever he attempts crime or villainy, somehow, it winds up benefiting his 'victims'. In The Death of Groo, his attempt to become public enemy number one ends with the townspeople carrying him through the streets, while onlookers cheer and scatter flowers before him.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: In one issue, Groo asks a passerby whether he has seen the man who was standing next to where Groo was standing a while back.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: King Krag's reaction when hearing of Groo's appearance in his kingdom.
    Derelict: Sire— Groo was spotted in town...
    King Krag: "Groo?" Kill him! Kill him dead! Then kill him again and again! Then kill him four more times! Then keep killing him for six hours! Then do you know what you must do?
    Derelict: What, sire?
    King Krag: KILL GROO AGAIN!
  • Too Dumb to Fool: Some people have tried to con Groo, only to find that he's too stupid to follow their reasoning.
  • Torture First, Ask Questions Later: Groo is very good at slaying, not so good at questioning.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Cheese dip. Yes. Cheese dip. When he acquired a magical wish, his choice was a mountain of the stuff, unfortunately for everybody within several hundred feet.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: Done darkly in an early comic. Groo trains a peaceful village to fight against a horde of bandits. In the process, the village and all its crops are destroyed. Having no other way to make a living now, the villagers and the bandits unite into a giant bandit army that overruns nearby cities.
  • The Uriah Gambit: Those who encounter Groo keep sending the titular character against impossible odds with little support both to get rid of Groo and sometimes serve as a distraction (This includes his family and "friends"). But since he's a One-Man Army and has the element of surprise (since no one would be stupid enough to attack, except Groo) he succeeds, with unintended consequences for those who sent him.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Well best buds be stretching it but the ones who can tolerate Groo the most are Sage, The Mistral and (eventually) Chakaal mostly due to the fact they know Groo means well but his stupidity is quite dangerous.
  • Walking Disaster Area: Aside from the usual consequences (viz. your army slaughtered and your food reserves devoured), Groo is disastrous to have near any large device, ornate structure, delicate object, retaining dam, avalanche zone, or... well, pretty much anything you value or admire.
  • Walking the Earth: Because Groo causes trouble everywhere he goes, he has to keep wandering.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: During the Magic Talisman arc, one of the wishes Groo makes is for the Minstrel to lose his ability to rhyme, leaving him unable to sing and plunging him into a depression. At first Groo is happy about it, since most of the Minstrel's songs were about how stupid Groo is, but Rufferto gives him such a disappointed glare that Groo eventually feels guilty and seeks out the Magic Talisman again just to restore the Minstrel's ability.
  • What, Exactly, Is His Job?: A running gag is what, exactly, does Mark Evanier do (besides answer the letters page). Even his job description on the masthead changes every issue to something silly or bizarre. In reality, he is essentially the comic's co-plotter and script writer/editor.
  • With Friends Like These...: Out of all the people Groo thinks of as "friends", only Sage and the Minstrel are actual friends (and even they lose patience with him on occasion). Pal and Drumm shamelessly exploit him, Grooella hates him and tries to kill him, Arcadio takes credit for his work, Taranto sets him up to get killed, the list goes on. Chakaal is one of his few aquintances who does not wish him any specific harm.
  • The World Mocks Your Loss: When Groo thought his dog Rufferto was dead and that Groo had eaten him he kept seeing objects that reminded him of Rufferto's coloring.

"What do you mean, 'slow of mind'?"