Iznogoud: I WANT TO BE CALIPH INSTEAD OF THE CALIPH!
Iznogoud (1962-) is a Franco-Belgian Comic book series created by René Goscinny and illustrated by Jean Tabary, who took over writing the stories after Goscinny's death in 1977; following his retirement, his son Nicolas took over the art while the stories were penned by various writers, including Nicolas' brother Stéphane and sister Muriel. The title character is the scheming, ambitious and power-hungry Grand Vizier of the fictional Caliph Haroun El-Poussah (Haroun El-Plassid in English). His obsession is to depose the Caliph by hook or by crook, and to set himself up as the new Caliph in his stead.
In order to achieve this goal, he tries every dirty trick, but fails every single time due to either uncommonly bad luck or his own greed and incompetence. He is "assisted" by his long-suffering henchman, Dilat Laraht (Wa'at Alahf in the English translations of the comics, Adulahf Alot in the translation of the Animated Adaptation).
Interestingly, during the 1997-1998 TV season in Greece, a rather successful series called The Bad Vizier loosely based on the comic was created, with the caliph becoming a minister and his general secretary (the eponymous bad vizier, his surname being so,) being the one to wish to replace him and take his position. it even had the catchphrase!
A live-action Iznogoud film came out in 2005, starring Michaël Youn as Iznogoud and Jacques Villeret as the Caliph.
Now has a Recap page.
Iznogoud provides examples of the following tropes:
- 0% Approval Rating:
- In "Chop and Change", Iznogoud actually manages to become the Caliph by changing bodies with him. However, due to his tyranny, he's overthrown by the people of Baghdad, who think that "everything's been worse since he threw the Grand Vizier in jail". After overthrowing him, the "Grand Vizier" (really the imprisoned Caliph in Iznogoud's body) becomes the new Caliph, thus restoring everything to normal (except the two now have swapped bodies and Iznogoud is in jail, together with Wa'at Alahf, who now has the body of the Caliph's food taster).
- In Caliph at Last, a conspiracy is formed by the inhabitants of Baghdad to get rid of him. When asked who is in this conspiracy, Wa'at replies to Iznogoud that everyone in Baghdad is, since except for the Caliph, they all hate him. Later in the same album, he sends Wa'at to do a poll around Baghdad about what he could do to please them. The answers turn out to be almost entirely to ask him to either commit suicide or let them kill him.
- In "Mirror Image", the vizier travels to a Mirror Universe (literally on the other side of a mirror where everything is reversed) and is delighted that every single citizen wants the Caliph's head... except that in the Mirror Universe he is the Caliph.
- Adaptation Distillation: Some of the longer stories from the Goscinny era had subplots cut in the interest of time for the Animated Adaptation. For example, the printed version of "The Jigsaw Turk" includes a strike by Baghdad's binmen (who, when they see Iznogoud carrying one of the palace dustbins in his search for the missing piece of his magic jigsaw, beat him up for being a scab) and Iznogoud accidentally giving an entrepreneur the idea to start a seaside resort in the middle of the desert for people who like the beach but hate the water, resulting in him being surrounded by hundreds of holidaymakers while trying to work on his jigsaw. Neither subplot features in the animated version, "The Magic Puzzle"; instead, Iznogoud's attempt to finish the jigsaw in the desert is briefly disrupted when he accidentally sets up camp in the middle of a caravan route.
- Adaptation Name Change:
- Although the French version of the 1995 cartoon kept the original names from the comics, the English translation changed several of them.
- Among the regular cast, Iznogoud's henchman Wa'at Alahf was re-named Adulahf Alot (still an ironic name for a Deadpan Snarker), while the neighbouring sultan was called Streetcar instead of Pullmankar (Pullman cars being less familiar to younger viewers thanks to the decline of long-distance rail travel).
- Many of the one-shot characters had their names changed, generally from one play on words to another. For example, the Midas touch-afflicted recluse from "The Golden Handshake" was called Ghoudas Gho'ld in the comics and Karat in the cartoon, while the purveyor of the title object in "The Magic Catalogue" goes from introducing himself as "Uatsdadha, mage" ("What's the damage?") to "the wizard Avahz" (The Wizard of Oz).
- The Finnish translation uses Ahmed Ahne as the name of the main protagonist (Ahmed being a stereotypically recognisable Oriental name, while his last name/sobriquet means "avaricious" or "greedy"). His henchman is named Saunabad (sauna-bath, if you take the "bath" from Swedish) while the caliph is Harun El Pullah ("pulla" means a kind of bun and has connotations of a fat, lazy person).
- In the Polish version of the cartoon Iznogoud's name is changed to Nicponim ("Nic Po Nim" being meaning more or less "Good for nothing").
- Although the French version of the 1995 cartoon kept the original names from the comics, the English translation changed several of them.
- Adipose Rex: Caliph Haroun El-Plassid, the jovial and benign ruler, is a Big Eater and spends most of his days sleeping, making him quite obese.
- Anachronism Stew:
- The stories are nominally set in the 9th century, but feature all sorts of 20th century technology whenever the Rule of Funny requires it - "Iznogoud Rockets to Stardom" focuses on a space rocket, "The Box of Souvenirs" revolves around a camera, "The Mysterious Ointment" includes modern toothpaste and deodorant, "Tiger Hunt" has a throwaway gag about a tigerskin rug being 100% polyester, and so on.
- The story "Calculated Risk" features a magical computer invented by a character named I-Bee'Em.
- And I'm the Queen of Sheba:
- In the animated version of the story "Incognito", Iznogoud persuades the sultan to go out dressed as a beggar to satisfy his desire to see what his subjects think of him, then orders the palace guards to arrest any beggars who arrive at the gates, whoever they say they are. However, the sultan gets lost on the way back, and Iznogoud and his henchman Adulahf disguise themselves as beggars to go out and look for him. The sultan ends up returning while the guard is changing and so slips past them unnoticed, while when Iznogoud returns and insists he's the grand vizier, the guard on duty chuckles, "And I'm the Queen of Sheba!"
- "Nuts' Day", the animated version of the comic "The Day of Misrule", sees servants become masters and masters become servants for a day; Iznogoud, in a bid to make his temporary promotion to sultan permanent, tries to rouse the people into making Nuts' Day a year-round event, but they insist he is too rich to lead a people's revolt. So he gives his fortune to Adulahf and sells himself into slavery for free, only to discover that midnight has struck and Nuts' Day is over, whereupon he is arrested as a runaway slave. He protests that he is really the grand vizier, and the two guards transporting him fire back, "And we're Solomon and the Queen of Sheba!"
- In the animated version of "The Labyrinth", when the sultan keeps getting distracted by games and activities during Iznogoud's attempts to trap him in a magic maze, while other people enter the maze and get trapped instead, he decides to paint a sign over the entrance declaring that only the sultan may enter the maze. A policeman promptly walks up and fines him for vandalism. Iznogoud tries to explain that he is the grand vizier, and so outranks the policeman; the unimpressed policeman retorts, "And I'm the Queen of Sheba!"
- And Then What?: Something of a recurring problem for our dear vizier. For all he is happy to pronounce his desire to "BE CALIPH INSTEAD OF THE CALIPH!" to anyone who isn't the Caliph, he seems to forget at times that his ambitions would require a few things for a happy aftermath - such as a city to rule over. Take, for instance, one of his favorite tactics of infuriating an outsider - generally the Sultan Pullmankar, but there are a few other Unwitting Pawns for flavor, including Genghis Khan - into declaring war on Baghdad. The Plan is that the invaders would claim a swift victory and place the Caliph in chains as a prisoner of war, leaving Iznogoud in charge! And then those great warlords would merrily leave with their prisoner, without taking Iznogoud, the second in command to the Caliph, and without looting or destroying enough of the city to interfere with Iznogoud’s fantasies of hedonism and power. Luckily for him, his schemes never actually reach that point.
- Animated Adaptation: In 1995, fifty-two of the Goscinny-penned stories from 1962-77 were turned into 11-minute shorts for a TV cartoon series that ran for one season.
- "Arabian Nights" Days: The Baghdad in which the series is set owes more to an Affectionate Parody of Arabian Nights than to historical accuracy.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Played for laughs with Wa'at, who outright says in "My Hat!" that while flying carpets and magicians are perfectly acceptable facts to him, a hat that causes its wearer to instantly go completely insane is ridiculous.
- Artifact of Doom: Once per Episode, Iznogoud acquires a bizarre magical artifact which the vendor assures will arrange a Fate Worse than Death for a victim of his choice. No points for guessing ahead of time that it will backfire horribly on Iznogoud himself. Just to name a few examples:
- In "Dark Designs", Iznogoud acquires a magic pencil; when he draws a picture of someone or something and then tears the paper in half, the subject of the picture is banished to an alternate dimension. He can't get the spell to work until he takes art classes, and during an idle moment, his teacher sketches Iznogoud. When Iznogoud's art skills have finally improved, he sketches the Caliph and tears the page in half... unaware his teacher's sketch of him is on the other side of the page, so that they are both banished, and the Caliph ends up as sovereign of the island to which they were sent.
- "The Box of Souvenirs" sees the title object, a camera, sold to Iznogoud by Japanese tourist Judoka Karate; when he takes a picture of someone or something with the camera, that someone or something is trapped forever in the photograph that results. Every time Iznogoud tries to take the Caliph's picture, someone or something gets in the way and disappears instead, and when he finally gets the Caliph alone, he is standing in front of a mirror and bends down at the crucial moment, causing Iznogoud to take a picture of his own reflection and disappear.
- The title character in "The Merchant of Forgetfulness", Mumbaijumbo, sells Iznogoud a perfume which, when sniffed, causes instant and total amnesia in the victim. Iznogoud sprinkles it on the Caliph's flowers and food and finally puts it in an atomiser, but they are all sniffed by other people (or, in one case, a bumblebee) before the Caliph can get to them, and inevitably, the final victim is Iznogoud himself, who is left an empty shell.
- In "The Jigsaw Turk", Iznogoud buys a 10,000 piece jigsaw from joke shop merchant Dokodah Bey; when the last piece is put in, the person of whom the puzzler is thinking will disintegrate into 10,000 pieces. There's one problem: there's a piece missing, which Iznogoud and Wa'at Alahf have to retrieve from the factory, several days' journey away. After several further failed attempts to finish the puzzle, Iznogoud is forced to retrieve the missing piece from the palace bins; meanwhile, Dokodah Bey has found the missing piece in his shop, but the Caliph is the one who takes delivery of it, and Iznogoud returns with his own copy of the missing piece... just in time to see the Caliph put the last piece in, beaming that he's always thinking of Iznogoud. The luckless vizier's fate is implied by the shattering of the words "THE END" in the final panel.
- Artistic License – History: In real life, the Grand Vizier was already the head of government while the Caliph's role was being the religious leader of Muslims, a role that was passed on to related successors, similar to a royal family. Iznogoud would not need to be Caliph for high political power - or ever be accepted as Caliph. In spite of this, many of the stories present Iznogoud as the next successor in line to the Caliph were he to disappear. This would be akin to the Prime Minister of Italy trying to take over the Pope's position or the Prime Minister of the UK trying to take over the Queen of England.
- Bad Boss: Iznogoud routinely mistreats Wa'at Alahf, using him as a guinea pig for every potion or spell he plans to use to get rid of the Caliph, in which capacity the hapless henchman has been turned invisible ("The Invisible Menace"), turned into a frog ("Kissmet"), turned into a walking disaster magnet ("The Unlucky Diamond"), shrunk down to a height of mere inches ("The Sheik's Potion"), made so light that he floats away unless he is carrying a boulder ("The Occidental Philtre"), trapped in an inescapable magic maze ("The Labyrinth"), rendered catatonic ("My Hat!"), rendered an amnesiac shell ("The Merchant of Forgetfulness"), and repeatedly banished to alternate dimensions ("The Mysterious Billposter", "The Send-Away Bed", "The Black Chalk").
- Bad Luck Charm:
- The title object in "The Unlucky Diamond" brings very bad luck (your chair collapses, the doorknob snaps off in your hand, rooftiles fall on you in the middle of the desert) to the holder; Iznogoud takes it from the beggar desperately trying to get rid of it, intending to present it as a gift to the caliph. Of course, it's a Clingy MacGuffin, and things only get worse.
- In The Nightmarish Birthday of Iznogoud, he buys a lucky charm medal from a vendor who has suffered horribly mutilating bad luck streaks, claiming "only his medal could save him!" Thinking the vendor out of his mind, he buys one from him to give the caliph as a gift... not realizing that the medal does work exactly as advertised (the vendor got all his mutilations before he was given his medal) and the Caliph has already been wearing one for years!
- Barely Missed Cushion: In "Good Sports in the Caliphate", Iznogoud and the Caliph both wind up on a sled, descending a slope at high speed towards a building.Narrator: Fortunately... there's a door... an open door!
[next panel: sled crashes to the right of the door, Iznogoud cushioning for the Caliph]
Narrator: Unfortunately... this door is too far to the left...
- Beard of Evil: Iznogoud is the only one of the three primary characters to have a beard (Wa'at Alahf has a moustache and stubble, the Caliph is clean shaven), and is by far the most evil of the three.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: In "The Caliph's Cruise", Iznogoud gets dragged along on with the Caliph and Wa'at Alahf on the Catastrophe XXVIII, captained by disaster magnet Simp'l the Sailor, after the gangplank snaps in half while he is trying to disembark, the only available rope to pull him to safety is the mooring, the wind and tide carry them out to sea, and the rudder breaks off when Simp'l tries to steer. Iznogoud orders Simp'l to make a U-turn. So he does: a vertical U-turn, which leaves the ship upside-down and the four passengers in the water.Simp'l: [to a scowling Iznogoud] HEY! WHAT ARE YOU COMPLAINING ABOUT? I MADE A U TURN, DIDN'T I?
- Belly Dancer:
- The opening credits of the show feature a brief scene of the Caliph being entertained by an entourage of dancers, even though their shadows are the only indicators shown.
- In "Hat's Off!", the animated version of "My Hat!", two dancers perform for the Caliph before revealing the new "bookshelf" the Caliph uses, with Iznogoud and Adulahf Alot as the bookends.
- Big Shadow, Little Creature: The opening of the Animated Adaptation of shows a large, menacing shadowy figure climbing the steps of the sultan's (yes, he's a caliph in the comics, but a sultan in the cartoon) palace while a voice says 'Good... Good... Good'. Then when it reaches the top, it is finally shown that the figure is actually the short but menacing titular Grand Vizier, and the voice finishes by saying 'Iz No Goud'.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Iznogoud tries to be this toward the Caliph. He is terrible at it, but the Caliph is so oblivious it still works anyway.
- Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: One of Iznogoud's ploys to spark a war between the Caliph and Sultan Pullmankar in "Official Trip" involves spiking the sultan's chicken with red pepper when he makes a reciprocal visit to Baghdad. However, the sultan has caught a cold from his 58th son and can't taste anything, so he has no reaction at all to the spicy chicken. Iznogoud is not so lucky when he tests some to see if Wa'at Alahf made a mistake - and runs through the palace screaming, mouth on fire, before dunking his head in a bucket of water.
- Bookends: The first and last panels of "The Malefic Hopscotch Grid" feature different groups of characters, but in nearly the same positions, including a group of children playing hopscotch, a boy sulking on the right-hand edge of the picture, a girl chasing after a boy, and the only adult in the panel leaning out of an upstairs window and yelling that he's trying to sleep. The first panel is set in the 20th century, the last in Iznogoud's Baghdad (with Wa'at Alahf among the children playing hopscotch, Iznogoud sulking on the right-hand edge of the picture, and the Caliph as the only adult in the panel).
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: The characters, Iznogoud and Wa'at Alahf especially, regularly turn to address the reader directly or have conversations with the narration or otherwise acknowledge that they are comic book characters. For example, at the end of "The Caliph's Sceptre", Iznogoud is left trapped in the password-protected chamber containing the title object, unable to remember the correct password. He finally turns to the readers and asks if they remember it - "And no turning back pages!"
- Brick Joke:
- Rather than pay the merchant Mede Indjapahn for the pair of slippers containing the title character in "The Genie", Iznogoud tells the genie to turn the merchant into a hammer. At the end of the story, the Caliph inadvertently prompts the genie to turn Iznogoud into a nail, and in the final panel, Wa'at Alahf tells his boss that a hammer has come to see him...
- A visual gag six pages into "The Day of Misrule" sees a mouse chasing a cat through the streets of Baghdad as Iznogoud returns from having purchased a magic lamp. On the final page, with the Day of Misrule having ended, the cat and mouse return, with the cat now chasing the mouse.
- In "The Jigsaw Turk", when Iznogoud returns from an extended journey with a duplicate copy of the missing piece from his 10,000 piece magic jigsaw, he finds that a palace slave has put the jigsaw back in its box, and after spending several days re-assembling it, he finds there is still a piece missing, as the slave used it to prop up the wobbly table on which Iznogoud is assembling the puzzle. At the end of the story, Dokodah Bey, the merchant who sold him the puzzle, shows up at the palace with the missing piece; he tells the Caliph, who takes delivery of the piece, that his wife had been using it to prop up a wobbly table in their house.
- Brown Note: In "Iznogoud on Thin Ice", drinks seller Gehtorehd is so hideous that one look at her face causes people to freeze solid. She simply stacks the frozen victims in a room in her shop that serves as a freezer.
- The Cameo: Captain Haddock makes a brief appearance at the beginning of "The Magic Carpet", as does Snowy.
- Captain Oblivious: The Caliph. A well-meaning and debonair ruler, he never suspects a thing.
- Cardboard Prison: Klepto Maniaq, the master thief in "The Caliph's Sceptre", treats Baghdad's top prison as one of these. He is so good at escaping that he comes and goes as he pleases, mostly returning to prison to take advantage of the free room and board. The guards have resigned to this state of affairs.
- Catchphrase: "I want to be Caliph instead of the Caliph!" This has even become a common phrase in France to refer to someone who is overly ambitious. In the Animated Adaptation, Iznogoud would occasionally turn this into a Mad Libs Catch Phrase; for example, in "The Giants' Island", when he and Adulahf Alot become, respectively, a bishop and a knight in a game of Human Chess, the vizier grumbles that he wants to be king instead of the king.note
- Cerebus Syndrome: When the series was taken over by Tabary after Goscinny's death; while the stories remained mostly comical, they switched from eight to twelve page vignettes to 40+ page adventures more akin to Asterix, with Iznogoud occasionally switching from Villain Protagonist to Anti-Hero.
- Characterization Marches On:
- The Caliph's chamberlain introduced in Iznogoud's Birthday was initially not specifically aggressive to Iznogoud and starts acting antagonistic toward him as a reaction to his anger and obnoxiousness. When the same chamberlain is reintroduced in later comics, he is portrayed as being basically Iznogoud's Arch-Enemy who is trying to protect the Caliph against his overthrowing attempts. Being jailed at the end of Iznogoud's Birthday didn't help as well (although Iznogoud had good reasons to do that, to be fair). In some of the longer stories, the Chamberlain is involved in conspiracies to depose, execute, or otherwise assassinate Iznogoud. And he seems to have a similar cruel streak to Iznogoud himself.
- Wa'at Alahf was initially a rather humble servant with no agendas of his own, executing his boss's misdeeds in the name of his friendship and loyalty (in addition to threats to impale him). Later stories (like The Nighmarish Birthday of Iznogoud) reveal that he has his own wicked schemes, including taking his own cut from everything that goes in or out of the palace, and making corrupt deals. One episode has Iznogood finding out that Wa'at Alahf is actually equally wealthy (or even wealthier) than Iznogoud himself.
- The Caliph was initially depicted as incompetent, but good-natured and rather harmless. Later episodes reveal him to have a cruel streak of his own. In Iznogoud's Childhood, he instructs the executioner to cut off a watermelon thief's left hand instead of his right hand. He had three younger brothers who could pose threats to the throne in Caliph at Last, so he eliminated them from the order of succession (and seemingly allowed Iznogoud to exile them). Despite his friendliness to Iznogoud, he has threatened to execute him several times. In Who Killed the Caliph?, he has the bad idea to hire a starving man as a food taster. When the Taster ends up eating all of the Caliph's food, the Caliph has him imprisoned (and, it is implied, tortured).
- Sultan Pullmankar, a recurring character, often plays the role of a military threat to Baghdad. He is aggressive, short-tempered, warlike, and reportedly undefeated in every war he has fought. Who Killed the Caliph?, depicting a war between the Caliph and the Sultan, reveals that he does not rely on his army alone to win battles. He has actually established an espionage network in foreign countries, and Pullmankar's spies were serving in Baghdad's palace for years, without Iznogoud noticing them. Iznogoud is even disturbed to learn that one of the spies had been impersonating Iznogoud himself, and had access to Iznogoud's private quarters.
- The Chew Toy: Iznogoud's scheming makes him a magnet for comic disaster, usually thanks to his schemes backfiring on him. Whatever trap he tries to set for the Caliph - a one-way rocket into space in "Iznogoud Rockets to Stardom", a portal to an alternate dimension as in "The Black Chalk", a potion to subject him to a Forced Transformation as in "Likhwid's Bottle or The Bottle of Likhwid" - he'll end up falling into it himself.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Iznogoud's cruelty and Mean Boss tendencies towards Wa'at Alahf are entirely played for laughs.
- Comically Small Bribe: Iznogoud's attempt to convince a meteorologist in "Good Sports in the Caliphate" into helping him.Iznogoud: I'll shower you with gold... (shows a coin) that much gold!
- Comic-Book Time: None of the main characters ever age, although there is one episode where they temporarily de-age the characters, but as Status Quo Is God is in effect, it has no effect on the plot later.
- Con Man: Notsobad the sailor from "The Mysterious Ointment" is a huckster who, upon returning from a journey to the Occident, regularly grabs the first thing that comes to hand to offer as a gift to Iznogoud with the claim that it can help him get rid of the Caliph. The "deadly poison" from his latest journey is a simple tube of toothpaste, but he tells Iznogoud that it is fatal when applied to the teeth, leading Iznogoud to persuade the Caliph that he needs to smear the paste on his teeth to clean them and freshen his breath (all the while, none of the characters have any idea that this really is how toothpaste works). When Wa'at Alahf accidentally swallows the entire contents of the tube (fortunately, without letting it touch his teeth), Iznogoud waits for Notsobad's return, this time with a mysterious substance called "deodorant"...
- Continuity Nod:
- In "The Occidental Philtre", the Caliph brings a tent on the picnic on which Iznogoud plans to feed him the title concoction. He explains that it always seems to rain when he and his vizier go on picnics together, a reference to "The Picnic", in which Iznogoud tried to lead the Caliph into the desert to die of thirst.
- "A Carrot for Iznogoud" opens with a Continuity Cavalcade in which we see the outcomes of previous schemes, in which Iznogoud was turned into a bookend ("My Hat!"), a frog ("Kissmet"), a dog ("The Doggy Flute"), a nail ("The Genie"), and a souvenir shell ("The Caliph's Cruise").
- Continuity Snarl: Among other things, the attempt at Canon Welding with Asterix (in Asterix and the Magic Carpet, the villainous guru Hoodunnit refers to Iznogoud as his "cousin", while Redbeard and his pirates show up in "A Carrot for Iznogoud") cannot help creating issues since Iznogoud looks like it ought to take place several centuries later than 50 B.C.
- Creator Cameo: Goscinny and especially Tabary made occasional cameo appearances in the series.
- In "The Time Machine", the time-travelling artist who suddenly appears in the palace is drawn to look like Jean Tabary.note
- The title object in "The Magic Calendar" transports Iznogoud forward through time when he tears off pages; he tears off too many and ends up in Tabary's studio in the 20th century.
- In "Dark Designs", when Iznogoud's art skills are not good enough to trigger a magic pencil and paper that makes anyone drawn with it disappear when the paper is torn in half, he takes art lessons from Tahbari al-Tardi.
- Jean Tabary is one of the unfortunate victims of the title object in "The Box of Souvenirs", a camera that traps people and objects in its photographs. At the end of the story, the curious Caliph picks up the camera after Iznogoud accidentally traps himself in a photograph, points it at the fourth wall, and presses the button; the final panel is a photograph of Tabary with a massive Oh, Crap! expression.
- In "A Carrot for Iznogoud", the boat on which the Caliph has booked passage while disguised as an insurance salesman is boarded by Redbeard and his pirates, crossing over from fellow René Goscinny creation Asterix. The pirates fare much better in Iznogoud than they do in Asterix, with no magic potion-enhanced Gauls to beat them senseless.
- In "The Magic Carpet", Captain Haddock reminds the readers that Iznogoud wants to be Caliph instead of the Caliph. This results in a Borrowed Catchphrase as Iznogoud orders him out while yelling, "Blistering blue barnacles! Ten thousand thundering typhoons! Mind your own business!"
- A Day in the Limelight: The story "A Carrot for Iznogoud" has Iznogoud himself in a cameo role, while the protagonist is the Caliph. He finally finds out that Iznogoud is evil, and is heart-broken about it. The Caliph goes on a solitary quest for a magic carrot, which will supposedly turn anyone eating it to a saintly person. When the Caliph returns with the carrot, he arranges for it to be fed to Iznogoud and is then convinced that Iznogoud is finally the kind person that he always thought he was. What the Caliph does not know is that the magic carrot was accidentally eaten by an animal, and Iznogoud (who did not find out about the Caliph's plan) has not changed a bit.
- Devil in Plain Sight: Comically inverted; Iznogoud looks, acts and IS definitely Obviously Evil, and people of Baghdad are perfectly aware of his desire to overthrow the Caliph... but the Caliph himself never suspects a thing, instead seeing Iznogoud as a devoted, good, trustworthy friend. He even once admitted he often received anonymous letters trying to warn him about it, but never believed them in Who Killed the Caliph?. Ironically, the Caliph is the only person Iznogoud bothers acting good with.
- Dumb Blonde: The apprentice fairy Blunderbell in "Fairy Tale" is a young blonde woman and hopelessly inept at getting magic right (even ending up in Baghdad was the result of a fumbled magical teleportation, and while trying to turn Wa'at Alahf into a slug, she turns him into first a rooster and then a donkey). She claims she's only bad at her job because didn't study hard in her first term due to being a "bit ill" but given she mistakes Iznogoud for a lumberjack it is implied she wasn't bursting with brains to begin with.
- The Eeyore: Wa'at Alahf is deeply pessimistic about every single one of his master's schemes (with good reason). His placid demeanor frequently borders on apathetic resignation.
- "Eureka!" Moment: Evil characters also can have this, as Iznogoud proves in "The Tiger Hunt":Iznogoud: Wa'at Alahf, my faithful strong-arm man, do you have any ideas for getting rid of the Caliph? Well? Cat got your tongue?
Wa'at Alahf: A cat may look at a Caliph, master, but...
Iznogoud: [thinking] Cat's got his tongue... cat looking at Caliph... big cats... tiger's a big cat... tiger is a man-eater... Caliph is a man... so the tiger is a Caliph-eater. Q.E.D.
Iznogoud: [aloud] That idea of yours about organising a tiger hunt is excellent, Wa'at Alahf!
Wa'at Alahf: Idea? Tiger hunt?
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- Iznogoud might be a cruel, petty, greedy and ambitious Evil Chancellor, but he is disgusted when he catches his executioner trying to get himself paid for mercy, and delivers a speech saying mercy should never be bought.
- Some stories describe Iznogoud as unwilling to kill the Caliph like "Lihkwid's Bottle or the Bottle of Likhwid". Most blatant in A Likable Monster, where Wa'at Alahf tries to convince him not to poison the Caliph (though this is because he has a hidden agenda), and Iznogoud himself seems deeply disturbed by his own scheme.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Exploited in Caliph at Last, where the conspiracy formed against Iznogoud manages to get him sentenced to death, but the Caliph decides the sentence will be cancelled if Iznogoud manages to do a specific thing. The members of the conspiracy convince the Caliph to make that specific thing a "good deed", realizing that Iznogoud, being his usual evil self, would never be able to do such a thing.
- Evil Chancellor: Iznogoud is a quintessential example of this trope. Second only to the Caliph himself in the ruling hierarchy, and determined to get rid of the Caliph so that he can be second to nobody. The kind but dim-witted Caliph never suspects a thing.
- Evil Is Petty: When Iznogoud first sees the current owner of the title object in "The Unlucky Diamond" seemingly begging on a street corner, he is not amused:Iznogoud: A beggar!? I thought I'd outlawed begging, it encourages charity!
- Exotic Extended Marriage: The practice of polygyny is carried over from some real life Islamic cultures into the world of Iznogoud; Caliph Haroun el-Plassid has multiple wives and dozens of children (so many that he can't reliably remember all of their names), as does Sultan Pullmankar. In "A Calculated Risk", the Caliph and Sultan Pullmankar sign a marriage contract engaging the Caliph's 37th son to the Sultan's 42nd daughter.note
- Failure Is the Only Option: Iznogoud's schemes to depose the Caliph are destined always to end in failure, usually with the vizier himself much worse off than before. It even gets lampshaded in the theme song for the animated adaptation.Iznogoud the Grand Vizier. He never wins, this much is clear.
- Fat Idiot: Haroun al-Plassid eats many large meals and gets almost no exercise, preferring to spend his days sleeping, and is clueless enough to trust the Obviously Evil Iznogoud absolutely with any and all decisions about how to run the country. He displays occasional evidence of having a good memory and knowledge base, but he has no common sense whatsoever.
- Flat Joy: In the animated episode "State Visit", the "enthusiastic crowd" assembled to acclaim the visiting sultan sound thoroughly bored as they say, "Hurray. Hurray. Long live Haroun al-Plassid. Hurray. Hurray. Long live Iznogoud." Similarly, the "ruthless crowd" watching the imprisoned Iznogoud on public display at the end of the episode are almost as listless as they say, "Boo. Boo. Get rid of Grand Vizier Iznogoud."note
- Flock of Wolves: Sultan Pullmankar has an extensive network of spies in Baghdad, including two spies who pose as Iznogoud and Wa'at Alahf as revealed in Who Killed the Caliph?. Unfortunately, even the spies cannot distinguish between the genuine articles and the impostors, and they end up trying to con information out of each other.
- Forced Transformation: One of Iznogoud's favourite types of scheme involves using a magic spell or object to transform the Caliph into an animal or object. Invariably, the spell will backfire and transform him instead. Just to give a few examples:
- "Likhwid's Bottle, or the Bottle of Likhwid" has Iznogoud buying an elixir, one drop of which will turn the drinker into a louse. What he doesn't learn until the sale is complete is that it's the last drop in a gigantic jug, and the disgusting elixir itself must be consumed undiluted. The vizier finds various ways to trick/force the Caliph into drinking endless bowls of the stuff, but when there is one drop left, inevitably it is Iznogoud who drinks it and turns into a woodlouse after he faints and the well-meaning Caliph tries to revive him with it.
- "Kissmet" features one of the classic examples of a Forced Transformation: a frog curse that can only be reversed by a kiss which turns the kisser into a frog. Iznogoud is surprised when it takes no subterfuge whatever to get the Caliph to kiss the frog suffering from the curse, whereupon the Caliph turns into a frog and the frog turns into a prince... who decides to claim the throne for himself and have the vizier executed. But the spell has a wrinkle: if a cursed frog kisses a human, both will turn into frogs. By the end of the story, Iznogoud has had to get himself a stay of execution by kissing the frog Caliph, leaving himself and Wa'at Alahf stuck as frogs, while the prince - the son of the Caliph's good friend Fattih al Midrif - exchanges greetings with his father's friend, and says he has a hankering for frog's legs...
- The title character in "The Genie" grants one wish to the person who polishes the slippers in which he resides; although he then returns to the slippers, he can be summoned repeatedly to grant new wishes. Most of the wishes he grants over the course of the story involve turning people into inanimate objects; Iznogoud first instructs him to turn the merchant who sells him the slippers into a hammer, then to turn a crowd of people into footstools, then to turn a palace guard into a wardrobe. Carelessly worded instructions lead him to accidentally transform Iznogoud into a worm; while Wa'at Alahf is able to get the genie to reverse the spell, he loses track of the slippers, which lead to a slave getting himself turned into a pumpkin and, on the final page, to the Caliph accidentally getting Iznogoud turned into a nail.
- "The Doggy Flute" sees the title object used by a Chinese wizard to turn rude people into dogs, so Iznogoud buys it to use on the Caliph. He first transforms the wizard into a dog as practice, then returns to the palace, playing the melody all the while so he doesn't forget it and turning everyone he passes into a dog. But when he tries to perform in front of the Caliph, a competing flautist causes him to forget the melody, so he rounds up all the dogs he has transformed and plays the melody that undoes the transformation, one dog at a time (in each case, getting beaten up by the irate victims of his spell), until he finds the wizard - who delivers Laser-Guided Karma to Iznogoud by grabbing the flute and turning him into a dog.
- In "Fairy Tale", Iznogoud contracts apprentice fairy Blunderbell to turn him into the Caliph, but she gets it wrong and turns the Caliph into Iznogoud instead, then both Iznogouds into Caliphs, and finally she ends up turning Iznogoud and his (accidentally created) clone into clothes irons.
- Caliph at Last reveals in a flashback that he did manage to make it work in his favor once in a really weird way: back when he was being bullied by the Caliph's brother Dheround, he once met an attractive fairy who had been turned into a hideous hunchback hag after mocking her own hunchback boss; the curse was so whoever mocked her hunch would inherit the curse, reverting her back to normal, but should she mock that person herself, she would get it back immediately - and since she couldn't stop herself from mocking any hunchback she met, she always ended up getting it back. Iznogoud solved the issue by tricking Dheround into mocking her; due to Dheround being already so much like a Camel that all he was lacking was a hunch, the curse turned him into a camel instead of a hunchback, and the fairy, seeing a camel with a hunch as perfectly normal, didn't feel the usual urge to mock.
- Fortune Teller: "The Magic Calendar" sees Iznogoud and Wa'at Alahf crossing paths with Kmeer the seer, who is drawn to look like a stereotypical Romani traveller (complete with caravan) with an anachronistic pair of horn-rimmed glasses to emphasise her ability to see into the future. She anticipates everything Iznogoud says before he says it (to his ever-growing frustration), and once she agrees to sell him a calendar that allows him to travel forward and backward through time by tearing off pages and gluing them back on, she hands him three dirhems in change, telling him that their haggling session will result in their agreeing on a price of 500,397 dirhems, and he will hand over 500,400. Iznogoud decides not to argue and simply hands over 500,400 dirhems.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Tabary himself was killed or petrified several times while drawing the magical effect of that week's Artifact of Doom.
- At the end of "The Box of Souvenirs", Iznogoud has accidentally taken a picture of his own reflection with a magic camera that traps people or things in photographs. The puzzled Caliph picks up the camera, points it at the fourth wall, and presses the button. The final panel is a photograph of Tabary, his face practically screaming "Oh, Crap!".
- Tabary is implied to have been frozen by the hideous face of Gehtorehd the drinks vendor at the end of "Iznogoud on Thin Ice" before he could draw the story's final panel (which would have revealed her face for the first time); the narration says this was the state in which the story was left when the editors collected it (and got a "cold reception" from Tabary).
- "Freaky Friday" Flip: In "Chop and Change", a wizard invents a magic bowl: whenever two people drink consecutively from it, they exchange souls. Hilarity Ensues when this new invention gets tested by several patrons in an inn, just for fun. One of the catches is that it doesn't have to be actually people who drink: animals count too. (The wizard himself ends up in the body of a parrot.) As do inanimate objects, for that matter.
- Funetik Aksent: The fakir Khaledonyahn in "The Magic Carpet", as befits a character whose name is a homonym of "Caledonian" (Caledonia being the Roman name for Scotland), speaks with a stereotypical Scottish accent and vocabulary, rendered phonetically. The narrator helpfully informs us that he was born in the far north of his homeland and sometimes lapses into the dialect.Khaledonyahn: It's nae just your common flyin' carpet, mon. Och, aye, 'tis a magic carpet. Hoots, aye, mon!
- Genie in a Bottle: The title character in "The Genie" lives in a pair of slippers. And a pretty shoddy genie he is too.
- The Genie in the Machine: In "A Calculated Risk", Iznogoud buys a magical computer from the "magicocrat" I-Bee'Em, who tells him a genie lives inside it and answers every question. Unfortunately for Iznogoud, she's a very sensitive genie, so that when I-Bee'Em asks her to multiply 2,437,978 by 975,213 and Wa'at Alahf immediately gives the correct answer of 2,377,547,839,314 before the computer, she spends most of the rest of the story sulking rather than answering Iznogoud's question of how to become Caliph instead of the Caliph, and when she finally does answer a question... it turns out to be the multiplication question her "programmer" gave her.
- Genre Blindness: How long will it take for Iznogoud to understand that the problem in his quest for power is not Wa'at Alahf, but himself?
- Gone Horribly Right: In the story "Scandal in Baghdad", Iznogoud hires scandalmonger Leguenn Scandales to discredit the Caliph by planting a fake story in the newspapers that he has an illegitimate child whom he abandoned at birth, and soon, the whole country (except, inevitably, for the Caliph himself) has heard the news. The plan backfires when over three hundred people come forward claiming to be the Caliph's illegitimate child, including Wa'at Alahf and a woman old enough to be the Caliph's mother, and the kindly Caliph adopts them all.
- Good Is Dumb: The Caliph. He might be the nicest person on Earth, but God is he stupid.
- Gossip Evolution: The first panel of "Iznogoud's Pupil" sees the Caliph receiving a letter from Sultan Pullmankar, and word is passed down a line of guards, but each slightly mishears the one before him, until, by the last guard, the message has been completely mangled:Guard 1: First-class post for the Caliph!
Guard 2: First past the post for the Caliph!
Guard 3: First nasty roast for the Caliph!
Guard 4: Worst ghastly ghost for the Caliph!
Guard 5: Burst beans on toast for the Caliph!
Guard 6: [talking to the Caliph directly] Host with the toast for the Caliph, O Commander of the Faithful!
Guard 6: [talking to Iznogoud] O Grand Vizier, the Commander of the Faithful would like to see you about the hostess with the mostest.
- Gratuitous English
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: The Guards ARE Crazy!
- Heavy Sleeper: The Caliph spends much of his time contentedly asleep. His advisors know he's worried when he turns in his sleep more than twice a day.
- Helping Granny Cross the Street: The Caliph encounters an old man who wants to get to the other side of the street in "A Carrot for Iznogoud". The Caliph helps him, then the old man wants to get back to the starting point because that's now the other side of the street.
- He Went That Way: "The Sinister Liquidator" features a variant in which Iznogoud tries to use the cursed water of a swamp djinn to become Caliph instead of the Caliph; anyone who touches the water disappears into it. Of course, while trying to get the water to the Caliph, more and more people or animals touch or even drink the water, causing them to dissolve and reducing the available amount of water. When a camel rider guides his camel to take a drink from the bucket and the camel vanishes, he demands to know where his steed went; Iznogoud and Wa'at Alahf say "He went that way!" while pointing in opposite directions. The gag repeats itself when a palace slave finds a goldfish lying on the ground and returns it to its bowl - unaware that Wa'at Alahf emptied out the bowl to begin with so that he could put the swamp djinn in there. Once again, when the slave asks where the fish went, Iznogoud and Wa'at Alahf point in opposite directions while saying "He went that way!" This being Iznogoud, neither character finds these contradictory statements the least bit strange.
- Historical Domain Character: "The Horde" features a "guest" appearance by Genghis Khan as he sends the Mongol hordes to march on Baghdad. However, his (fictional) lieutenant, Blujin, aspires to become Khan instead of the Khan, so when he meets Iznogoud, he tries to surrender so that his boss will be taken prisoner - which is exactly what Iznogoud is trying to do. Both plans backfire, with Blujin becoming a prisoner of the Caliph and Iznogoud becoming a prisoner of Genghis Khan.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Iznogoud is a fictionalised, villainous version of the historical and legendary figure Ja'far ibn Yahya al-Barmaki, vizier to the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid (notice the similarity with the Caliph's name). Far from being a scheming Evil Chancellor, the real Ja'far al-Barmaki was a patron of the sciences who introduced new ideas from India and China into Baghdad and persuaded the caliph to open the Middle East's first paper mill in the late 8th/early 9th centuries, and was actually a heroic protagonist in several of the Arabian Nights tales. He eventually fell out of favour with the caliph and was beheaded in 803, a turn of events that would be unthinkable in the world of Iznogoud in which the Caliph trusts his vizier absolutely despite all evidence that he should not.note
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Almost every story ends this way. Whatever magical object or scheme Iznogoud concocts to get rid of the Caliph, he'll end up falling victim to the scheme himself (leaving him imprisoned, Taken for Granite, turned into a Forced Transformation, trapped in another dimension, etc.). As if to add insult to injury, sometimes the Caliph will also fall into the trap - and quickly find a way out (often by accident) that won't work for Iznogoud.
- Hollywood Voodoo: In "The Magic Doll", Mumbo Jumbo, the witch doctor and premier of a visiting African king, shows Iznogoud a clay doll which, when a hair from the intended target is placed in it, can be used to make the target experience whatever the doll experiences - but only when Mumbo Jumbo is the one using the doll. The initial demonstrations involve the usual "stab the doll with a pin" trope (causing the usual guinea pig, Wa'at Alahf, to yell in pain), but Iznogoud wants to put one of the Caliph's hairs in the doll before smashing it. Every time he has what he thinks is one of the Caliph's hairs, it turns out to belong to someone else, and when he gets Mumbo Jumbo to throw the doll out of a window just before he and his sovereign leave Baghdad, it is wearing Iznogoud's own hair, so that the vizier ends the story in a full body cast.
- Horrible Judge of Character: The Caliph has Iznogoud - a man who tries to carry out an evil scheme to get rid of him on any day ending in "Y" - as his grand vizier and most trusted adviser. You do the math.
- How We Got Here: The story "Iznogoud Rockets to Stardom" starts with Iznogoud being a "strange satellite in orbit". Then the readers get to see how it happened.
- Human Chess: In "The Giants' Island", Iznogoud hears the title place is inhabited by two man-eating giants. He tricks the Caliph into coming with him to the island, and they find out that the giants are vegetarians. Then Iznogoud asks the giants what they did to the thirty sailors of the man who told him about the island. The giants reply that with Iznogoud, Wa'at Alahf, and the Caliph's arrival, their set is complete, although they have one extra, so the Caliph is sent home as Iznogoud, Wa'at, and the thirty sailors are put to work as a living chess set.
- Hurricane of Puns: Iznogoud, by the same writer as Asterix, has an even higher pun-to-panel ratio, starting with the title of the comic (and main character). That's only the tip of the iceberg; the comic is full of puns in almost every page, which is often lampshaded by Iznogoud, who cannot stand them.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Wa'at Alahf, Iznogoud's henchman. While he acts and looks dumb most of the time, he tends to have sudden Let's Get Dangerous! moments where he reveals he can be very competent when needed. He's also far more lucid than his master about the fact they can't win.
- Hypnotic Eyes: "Mesmer-Eyezed" sees Iznogoud contracting stage hypnotist Whottoman, who can make anyone think they are anything (usually an animal) by looking into his eyes. However, clapping breaks the spell, so when the vizier tries to get Whottoman to make the Caliph think he is a donkey, suddenly they are unable to get away from people making clapping noises. Frustrated that Iznogoud refuses to pay him, the hypnotist makes him think he is a post - as in, "deaf as a post", leaving him unable to hear Wa'at Alahf's attempts to break the spell.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- In the beach story "Summer Vacation or Never Say Die", Iznogoud falls into a hole covered by a towel and sprains an ankle. The hole turns out to be a prank pulled by a boy whose father berates Iznogoud for not liking "childish pranks". Inspired by the prank, Iznogoud tries to get rid of the Caliph with a similar hole but instead gets the boy's father, who angrily shouts, "I'LL TEACH YOU TO PLAY STUPID PRACTICAL JOKES!".
- As part of a plan to become Caliph instead of the Caliph in "The Challenge", Iznogoud tricks a porter whose role as Iznogoud's Unwitting Pawn will get him decapitated if the plan works. The porter turns out to be Sultan Pullmankar's long-lost daughter Orinj'ade under a spell cast by a magician she refused to marry. Sultan Pullmankar changes from being amused at the idea of decapitating someone to wanting to behead Iznogoud for trying to do it to his daughter.
- Identical Stranger: "A Lookalike" revolves around Iznogoud attempting to use Aristides Kingsizos, a merchant who looks just like the Caliph, to replace the potentate and announce his abdication in favour of the vizier, only for the lookalike and the genuine article to meet and befriend each other over a game of cards (or boules - more precisely, petanque - in the cartoon). At the end of the story, the merchant's partner comes looking for him, and he looks exactly like Iznogoud.
- Impossibly-Compact Folding: In Iznogoud's Birthday, he opens a very small box and extracts a small piece of paper and proceeds to unfold it (it's so small that he needs a magnifying glass to start to unfold it). When completely unfolded, the paper is several metres large. Of course, the box had been given to him by the guild of mages...
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Iznogoud the Infamous, the ever-scheming but hapless Grand Vizier to the Caliph, who merely wants "to become Caliph instead of the Caliph."
- Ironic Name: To quote Wa'at Alahf's mini-biography from the beginning of each book, "This fellow, despite his name, didn't laugh very often."
- I Warned You: Several stories end with Wa'at Alahf telling his boss that he knew the latest scheme to become Caliph instead of the Caliph would end in failure, and tried to warn him. Iznogoud invariably either ignores him or tells him to shut up. For example, in "The Giants' Island", Iznogoud buys a map to an island which, he is told, is populated by cannibalistic giants, and ignores Wa'at Alahf's doubts that the plan will work. Sure enough, the giants are vegetarians, but they decide to keep Iznogoud and Wa'at Alahf to complete their Human Chess set and send the Caliph back home. The resulting dialogue forms a Brick Joke...Iznogoud: Heh heh! Here's a sure-fire way to get rid of the Caliph! Time to see big: giants!
Wa'at Alahf: Master, I fear your plans will once again be held in check!
[in the final panel, with Iznogoud and Wa'at Alahf as the white queen's side bishop and knight on the giants' chessboard]note
Wa'at Alahf: Do you remember what I said, Master?
Iznogoud: ONE MORE WORD AND I'LL STRANGLE YOU!
- Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk:
- Often played for laughs, where the title character, an Evil Chancellor trying to overthrow his Caliph and possessing seemingly no redeeming qualities, often willingly saves his assistant Wa'at Alahf from certain death, only to reveal when thanked by him that he did so because he required his help for things such as carrying important files or cleaning his shoes. In contrast, he often is willing to use Wa'at as a lab rat for his various plans.
- In Iznogoud's Childhood, Wa'at Alahf asks him his motivations for being Caliph in the place of the Caliph:Iznogoud: To make reforms! For example, this law to cut off a fruits thief's hand is totally absurd! That will never stop him from stealing fruits: we need to cut off both of his hands!
- During Who Killed the Caliph?, Iznogoud seems to actually care for Wa'at and saves him from execution after he has been mistaken for a spy. He catches the Executioner trying to get Wa'at to pay him for mercy, and angrily states that mercy should not be bought. He then notices a tortured prisoner and orders the Executioner to release him, causing Wa'at to wonder if he's having pity after all... then he appoints the prisoner new Executioner, and orders him to torture the former one.
- The Jinx: Simp'l from "The Caliph's Cruise" is a chronically unlucky sailor whose every voyage ends in catastrophe - which is apt, since this is the name he has given every ship he has captained. When Iznogoud tries to put the Caliph on a one-person cruise with Simp'l on the Catastrophe XXVIII, the gangplank breaks in half as he walks back to shore; he yells at Simp'l to throw him a rope, which he does... but the only available rope is the one tying the ship to the dock, and the wind and tide promptly blow them out to sea. When Simp'l tries to steer, the rudder breaks, and finally, when Iznogoud orders him to perform a U turn, the ship flips upside-down.
- Kick the Dog: "The Doggy Flute" features a literal example; when Iznogoud tries the flute he has just purchased on the Chinese wizard who sold it to him, transforming him into a dog, he proceeds to kick him down the road rather than restoring him to human form, as he believes the magician is no longer useful to him. This comes back to bite him (in several senses) when he cannot remember the correct melody once he is in front of the Caliph; he eventually finds the transformed magician and plays the melody that reverses the spell, whereupon the magician grabs the flute and turns Iznogoud into a dog.
- King Incognito: This is the premise of "Incognito"; Iznogoud has been taxing the citizens of Baghdad into poverty, and persuades the Caliph to go out dressed as a beggar to learn what his people think of him. While he is gone, Iznogoud orders the guards to arrest all beggars trying to enter the palace, whatever reason they give. The Caliph is horrified to learn of how much his people are suffering from the excessive taxes and decides to make immediate reforms when he returns to the palace, but he gets lost trying to return. The impatient Iznogoud disguises himself and Wa'at Alahf as beggars to go looking for the Caliph... who gets the idea to ask passers-by to direct him to the palace and returns while the guard is changing, thus escaping detection. The Caliph resumes his position as ruler and makes good on his promise of immediate reforms, while Iznogoud and Wa'at Alahf are arrested trying to re-enter the palace thanks to Iznogoud's own decree.
- Klatchian Coffee: In "The Send-away Bed", the Caliph, who doesn't usually drink coffee, is forced to share a cup of Turkish coffee with the new ambassador or face war between their countries, and ends up with a severe case of insomnia. This scuppers Iznogoud's plans to get him to lie down on the title piece of furniture (which will send him away to an alternate dimension), even after barraging the Caliph with lullabies and a very boring book.
- Klingon Promotion: This is Iznogoud's entire motivation and modus operandi: as Grand Vizier, he'll take over if the Caliph dies, hence his oft-repeated Catchphrase "I want to be Caliph instead of the Caliph!".
- Laser-Guided Karma: Happens to Iznogoud in almost every episode. Whatever trap he's trying to set for the Caliph, he's the one who will fall into it, so that he ends up blasted into space in "Iznogoud Rockets to Stardom", trapped in the Stone Age in "The Time Machine" or the 20th century in "Magic-Fiction" or an alternate dimension like "Souvenir Island", turned into a dog in "The Doggy Flute" or a frog in "Kissmet" or a louse in "Likhwid's Bottle or The Bottle of Likhwid" or a gold-plated statue in "The Golden Handshake" or a photograph in "The Box of Souvenirs", turned invisible in "The Invisible Menace", and so on and so forth. One particularly memorable example happens in the "Scandal in Baghdad" adaptation "Tall Tales" when he has a scandalmonger who can literally sniff out scandals plant a fake story in the papers about the Caliph having an abandoned illegitimate child. When the plan backfires, Iznogoud jails the scandalmonger... who sniffs out that Iznogoud himself has three secret children whom he had imprisoned so that he didn't have to deal with them - and when Iznogoud is jailed for being a deadbeat dad, the family reunion is far from happy...
- Leader Wannabe: Iznogoud and his "I want to be caliph instead of the caliph!"
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "The Magic Calendar", when Iznogoud tears off too many pages of the title artifact and ends up in Jean Tabary's studio in the 20th century, Tabary mistakes Iznogoud for a courier sent to pick up the latest Iznogoud story and apologises for the delaysnote but says he only has ten panels left of the current story. Sure enough, this exchange happens ten panels before the end of "The Magic Calendar", and when Tabary tries to help Iznogoud by gluing pages back on the calendar (thereby trapping Iznogoud in the timestream), he is stunned to see his nearly-finished story turn into blank pages. He shrugs it off and starts over - drawing the title panel of a story called "The Magic Calendar"...
- Legacy Vessel Naming: "The Caliph's Cruise" starts with a sailor whose ship is named Catastrophe XXVII, the first 26 having met with various catastrophes. Iznogound books a cruise on the ship for the Caliph the next day, by which time the sailor has already had to move on to the Catastrophe XXVIII after a quick sail around the harbour ended in, well...
- Limited Wardrobe: Unless he makes a point of wearing a disguise, Iznogoud is always depicted in the same outfit.
- Literal Genie: The title character in "The Genie" is summoned by rubbing a pair of slippers. He fulfills not only every wish, but every statement that the summoning character pronounces. Hilarity Ensues, especially if the statement is a curse of surprise.Genie: [appears in a puff of smoke as a slave polishes the shoes in which he lives] Yeah?
Slave: [stunned] Well, I'll be a pumpkin!
[in the next panel, the genie has turned the slave into a pumpkin]
- Literal Metaphor: In "Incognito", Iznogoud is said to be "cold and calculating". He mentally calculates that 5,763,257*312,418=1,800,545,225,426.
- Literal-Minded: In "The Malefic Hopscotch Grid", Iznogoud is trying to silence the ever-growing number of children who have hopped across the title object and been transformed into 12-year-old versions of themselves, so he summons the palace guards. Unfortunately, when they hear him yell "HOP TO IT!", they all come racing out on one foot, hopping across the grid... and soon, every one of them has been de-aged into a child.
- Lost in Translation:
- As with most René Goscinny-scripted comics, the dialogue in Iznogoud relies heavily on puns and wordplay which don't translate well into other languages, forcing the translators to either come up with puns that do make sense in their language or change the dialogue so that the density of jokes is the same but they don't happen in the same place.note
- The title story in the album Des astres pour Iznogoud translates as "Stars for Iznogoud", but is a homophone of "Désastres pour Iznogoud", meaning "Disasters for Iznogoud". The title was rendered in English as "Iznogoud Rockets to Stardom".
- A Running Gag in "The Horde" sees the words "yourte" (yurt) and "yaourt" (yoghurt) repeatedly confused by one of the Great Khan's foot soldiers. While the pronunciation of the words is similar enough in French that the confusion is believable, in English, "yoghurt" has an extra three letters and an extra syllable compared to "yurt". Since the confusion is visual as well as verbal, the translators had no choice but to make the dialogue fit the confusion of "yurt" and "yoghurt" as best they could.
- One of the wax statues Iznogoud brings to life in "The Wax Museum" is real life Bluebeard Henri Landru; he is uninterested in bumping off the Caliph since he specialises in killing women, so he brings a waxwork of Lucrezia Borgia to life instead, and they go off together, each plotting the other's demise. In the English translation of the Animated Adaptation, the waxwork is identified instead as Jack the Ripper (with the number of his victims changed from 11 to 5 accordingly), since Landru is not as well-known in the English-speaking world, but the waxwork still looks like Landru, and since Jack the Ripper's identity - and appearance - are a mystery, we have no idea if it looks like him.
- Oddly played straight and averted in Finland. Finland being possibly one of three countries that changed Iznogoud's name (the other ones are Poland - where he was named as Wezyr Nic-po-nim, but this translation was used only in Polish dub of the comic's Animated Adaptation - and Italy, where he was named Gran Bailam, again only in the cartoon), plenty of jokes about his name (is no good) instantly become void, and the tone of the whole series is somewhat changed around his Finnish name - Ahmed Ahne (lit. "Ahmed Greedy").
- As with most René Goscinny-scripted comics, the dialogue in Iznogoud relies heavily on puns and wordplay which don't translate well into other languages, forcing the translators to either come up with puns that do make sense in their language or change the dialogue so that the density of jokes is the same but they don't happen in the same place.note
- Magic Carpet: Such a common means of transportation that the Caliphate has an entire air force of 'em in "The Horde".
- Meaningful Name:
- Iznogoud is a phonetic spelling of "is no good" in French.
- Wa'at Alahf, a.k.a. Dilat Laraht, i.e. "dilate la rate", refers to laughing uproariously in French — for an extremely Deadpan Snarker character.
- The Caliph's brothers Dheround, Troiround and Katround translate to "Two-round", "Three-round" and "Four-round" respectively. Note that the Caliph's first name is "Haroun" (the Arabic version of "Aaron"); since you don't pronounce the "H" in French, it sounds like "a-roun(d)" and is also an example of Family Theme Naming.
- In the German translation, the henchman is named Tunichgud (do-no-good).
- Midas Touch: "The Golden Handshake" revolves around Iznogoud meeting Ghoudas Gho'ld of the Black Mountains, a distant descendant of King Midas. He still carries the curse of his ancestor, but over the course of many generations it has degraded from turning everything into solid gold to merely covering it with a layer of fake gold. Iznogoud tries to get Ghoudas to turn the Caliph into a gold-plated statue, but in the end Iznogoud himself suffers this fate when he unthinkingly shakes Ghoudas' hand.
- Misleading Package Size: In Iznogoud's Birthday, Iznogoud is given a box that contains a chain of boxes, the key point being that each box is bigger than the one containing it.
- The Napoleon: Iznogoud is vertically challenged ("5 feet tall in his pointy slippers", to quote the characters page that opens each volume), and overcompensates with his ambition and bad temper.
- Negative Continuity: Many, many stories end with Iznogoud seemingly irrevocably ruined, like being thrown into the dungeons in "Chop and Change", trapped in the far East in "The Magic Carpet", erased from existence in "The Magic Calendar", sent to another planet in "Iznogoud Rockets to Stardom" or outright killed in "The Jigsaw Turk." It never stops him from trying again. In a notable exception, the album Les Retours d'Iznogoud (Iznogoud's Returns) tries to explain how things returned to normal after some of the vizier's most infamous adventures. It does not always work, as many of those returns end with Iznogoud in an equally uncomfortable situation. That just raises further questions!
- As "Scandal in Baghdad" opens, Leguenn Scandales the scandalmonger demonstrates his abilities by sniffing out the fact that the guard on duty got his job through family connections. It quickly emerges that almost all of the palace guards are related to each other somehow, and all got their jobs that way!
- A running gag in "Good Sports in the Caliphate" involves nepotism. The Caliph, Iznogoud, and Wa'at Alahf each get one palace guard who greets them in far friendlier ways than the other guards. Each of the characters explains that the friendly guard is his cousin. The implication is that all three of them managed to appoint their own relatives in government positions.
- Noble Demon: Sultan Pullmankar is mostly known as a ruthless conquerer and a terrifying enemy, but he has a lot of rules (including always sparing his enemy's generals), is very affable to the Caliph when they are allied, and is shown to be a pretty good father.
- Not Now, Kiddo: Several stories see Iznogoud's downfall resulting from his decision to ignore someone (usually the Caliph) who is trying to tell him something important while he tries to carry out his latest scheme to become Caliph instead of the Caliph.
- In "The Mysterious Billposter", in attempting to trap the Caliph in a magic poster advertising holidays on a tropical island, Iznogoud has got himself trapped in the poster as well, and he keeps sending the Caliph away on walks so that he can escape unnoticed. As each escape plan fails, the Caliph keeps returning to tell Iznogoud about the strange things he has seen, and the increasingly angry Iznogoud keeps dismissing him. Eventually, the Caliph takes the hint and leaves, surprised that Iznogoud doesn't want to hear that he's found another person in the poster world: the billposter who created the magic poster to begin with, and who is now putting up a second poster of the Caliph's bedroom which he tries out on the Caliph. Sure enough, the Caliph re-appears in his own world, while Iznogoud is reduced to ordering Wa'at Alahf to shove him backwards repeatedly in the hope that he'll fall out of the poster again.
- In "The Strong-Arm Men", Iznogoud hires two men to take the Caliph away but it takes a long time before they have a chance to do it without any witnesses around. When the time arrives, the Caliph tries to tell Iznogoud something but is completely ignored. It turns out the Caliph borrowed Iznogoud's money for a fundraiser and Iznogoud can't pay the strong-arm men. In retaliation, they take him instead of the Caliph away.
- In "The Merchant of Forgetfulness", when Iznogoud tries to spray an amnesia scent on the Caliph, he ignores the latter's complaints about the open window. A gust of wind blows the potion on Iznogoud's face, wiping his mind and memory completely.
- Not Right in the Bed: A guy who can impersonate others in "The Accomplice of Iznogoud" (he changes his face whenever he puts on one of his magical masks). Subverted because the wife of the real guy actually prefers him.
- "Not Wearing Pants" Dream: In "The Tartar's Talisman", the title object makes the wearer's dreams come true, so naturally, Iznogoud has a naked dream while wearing it. And then, the irascible sultan Pullmankar enters.
- Obviously Evil: He has a Sinister Schnoz, Beard of Evil, permanent angry scowl, and primarily red and black wardrobe. The only way Iznogoud could make it more obvious that he's evil is to wear a big neon sign saying "EVIL". (And even that wouldn't be enough to tip off the Caliph.)
- Oh, Crap!:
- Iznogoud gets this look in several stories when he realises the scheme he has concocted to get rid of the Caliph is about to backfire on him, and he has no way to stop it.
- Iznogoud has a very narrow escape in "The Invisible Menace" when the wizard Omar Aythinkthereforeayyam teaches him a spell that can turn its object invisible; by covering his eyes and reciting "Abracadabra, I don't want to see you, I don't want to see you, I don't want to see you", he can make any person or thing turn invisible - as long as they're standing completely still while he recites. The Caliph, inevitably, won't stand still for long enough for the spell to work, and at one point, Iznogoud tries the spell while the Caliph is at his dressing table. But before he can finish, the amused Caliph holds up a mirror and says, "See how funny you look!" He thinks nothing of Iznogoud suddenly going very pale and staggering out of the room in a daze.
- In "The Jigsaw Turk", joke shop owner Dokodah Bey sells Iznogoud a magic jigsaw puzzle which, when the last piece is put in, causes the object of the puzzler's thoughts to disintegrate into 10,000 pieces. However, there is a piece missing, and Iznogoud has to retrieve a new one from the factory; several further misunderstandings lead the replacement to be thrown away as rubbish. While the vizier is rooting through the palace dustbins, Dokodah Bey delivers the missing piece, which he found in his home, to the Caliph. Iznogoud finds the replacement missing piece and returns triumphant to his bedroom - where he finds the Caliph, about to put in the original missing piece and benevolently remarking that he's always thinking of Iznogoud. The vizier can only stare in panicked horror as the Caliph completes the puzzle, his fate hinted at by the words "THE END" shattering into jigsaw pieces.note
- The Creator Cameo at the end of "The Box of Souvenirs" features a photograph of Jean Tabary wearing this expression after the Caliph picks up a magic camera that traps people in the photographs it takes and, not knowing what it does, points it at the fourth wall and takes a photograph.
- Iznogoud gets this look in several stories when he realises the scheme he has concocted to get rid of the Caliph is about to backfire on him, and he has no way to stop it.
- Only in It for the Money: Many Iznogoud stories involve him paying someone with magic powers or a special skillset who can help him get rid of the Caliph: while they might initially refuse, he will eventually persuade them to name their price. But they really don't like when Iznogoud, a notorious skinflint, refuses to pay...
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When the title armies of Genghis Khan in "The Horde" are on the doorstep of the Caliphate of Baghdad, the Caliph's advisers know he must be worried when he turns over twice while sleeping.
- Opposite Day: In "The Day of Misrule" (and its cartoon version, "Nuts' Day"), masters become servants and servants become masters for a day, which makes Iznogoud Caliph until midnight. He scrambles to make the inversion permanent before then, but when he gives Wa'at Alahf his fortune and sells himself into slavery to persuade the people to rally behind him, midnight strikes and he is arrested as a runaway slave.
- Overly Narrow Superlative: Tahbari al-Tardi from "Dark Designs" is described as the best artist in the Caliphate. It's also stated he's the only artist in the Caliphate.
- Painting the Medium: The first and last panels of "The Road to Nowhere" are set at the same crossroads, with a road mender sitting in the middle of the road. As Iznogoud and Wa'at Alahf are approaching him from the opposite direction at the end to the one from which they approached at the beginning, the sky contains a mirror image of the words "THE ROAD TO NOWHERE".
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Iznogoud's idea of disguising himself as a pumpkin seller is to carry a pumpkin around in "The Strong-Arm Men". And it works, too. It works so well his own guards won't let him back into the palace until he drops the pumpkin!
- Pay Evil unto Evil:
- The three Caliph's brothers that Iznogoud made disappear in Caliph at Last. While Troiround wasn't really developed enough to say if he was evil or not, Dheround was truly a bully that kept making deadly pranks to Iznogoud and mocking him for his small size and big nose. Katround was even worse, being a crazy man obsessed with making people disappear and attempting to literally erase Baghdad (including his well-intentioned older brother).
- A more obvious example in Who Killed the Caliph?, where he has the Executioner (a greedy, sadistic man asking his childhood friend Wa'at Alahf a bribe for his mercy) tortured by his own previous victim.
- Pillow Pistol: One story has Iznogoud buy a set containing a pair of magic shoes, a gun that makes their wearer run in a straight line when fired, and a "finish" flag that is the only thing that can stop the shoes in "The Turkish Slippers of Iznogoud". The night before the big day, Iznogoud sleeps with the gun under his pillow, bound with a wrist strap. This doesn't stop a vengeful character from hiding the magic shoes within Iznogoud's baggy regular shoes.
- Pinball Zone: Extremely rare comic book example: one chapter has Iznogoud trapped in a pinball-machine wasteland in "The Magic Minarets".
- Punch-Clock Villain:
- Wa'at Alahf only goes along with Iznogoud's schemes because he's employed by him; he's indifferent to the question of who actually rules Baghdad, and has long since realised that his boss' plans to become Caliph instead of the Caliph are doomed to failure. In fact, he is alternatively described as "Iznogoud's Strong-Arm Man", which is basically slang for "Hired Muscle".
- In "The Strong-Arm Men", where Wa'at Alahf is taking his annual leave, he hires two burly and strong "strong-arm men" in order to capture the Caliph and sell him as a slave. While they are rather competent, they are Only in It for the Money and when it turns out Iznogoud can't pay them, they immediately take him.
- Overall, nearly a third of his schemes involve hiring accomplices with magical abilities or special skills who are more than eager to help him dispose of the Caliph for a hefty price. But when the schemes inevitably fail (either because of Iznogoud's own greed or impatience or the Caliph's uncommonly good luck) and Iznogoud refuses to pay them, they immediately turn on him.
- Punny Name: René Goscinny was able to let his fondness for puns run more rampant in Iznogoud than in any other comic for which he wrote the scripts (artist Jean Tabary was just as fond of puns as Goscinny), and the names were no exception; the title character's name is even already a pun in English. Then there's his deadpan lackey, Dilat Laraht (a homonym of "dilate la rate", an idiom roughly meaning "burst into laughter"), or Wa'at Alahf as he's known in English. Other punny names in English include the Caliph, Haroun El-Plassid (and a more placid person is hard to imagine), inventor Ahstroh Nautikahl in "Iznogoud Rockets To Stardom" (inventor of the rocket that Iznogoud tries to use to send the Caliph into space), and elixir merchant Likhwid from "Likhwid's Bottle or the Bottle of Likhwid" (who sells Iznogoud a foul-tasting likhwid - er, liquid - one drop of which turns the drinker into a woodlouse; a pity the drop in question is the last drop in a three-gallon carboy/demijohn).
- Regent for Life: In "The Malefic Hopscotch Grid", Iznogoud plans to use the titular grid to turn the Caliph into a kid so he can rule Baghdad as a regent.
- Repeated Rehearsal Failure: The title object in "The Doggy Flute", as its name suggests, transforms people into dogs when a particular melody is played on it. After first turning the wizard who gives him the flute into a dog so he doesn't have to pay him, Iznogoud spends the entire journey back to the palace playing the tune over and over so he doesn't forget it, thinking nothing of all the people he is turning into dogs. But when he finally gets to the palace throne room to use the spell on the Caliph, there is another flautist there; the two begin arguing over their relative skill levels, and this causes Iznogoud to forget the tune. He can only remember the tune to reverse the spell, and has to play it on every transformed dog in Baghdad in the hope of finding the wizard so that he can re-learn the tune.
- Riches to Rags: When "The Unlucky Diamond" opens, the diamond's current owner was once a rich man, but after being given the cursed diamond for refusing to give food to a magician disguised as a beggar, he lost his house, his family, his money, everything. After he palms off the diamond on Iznogoud (who plans to give the jewel to the Caliph, only to discover it is a Clingy MacGuffin), his fortunes are restored almost immediately - as is his original haughty, "I gave at the office!" personality.
- Rule of Three: Iznogoud once bought a magic catalogue in the eponymous story that allows him to obtain items from the future but cannot use it more than three times.
- Rump Roast: In "The Invisible Threat", the animated version of "The Invisible Menace", the wizard who teaches Iznogoud the invisibility spell invites him to sit down, but as all of his furniture is invisible (except to the wizard himself), Iznogoud inadvertently sits on a brazier and lights his backside on fire.
- Selective Enforcement: In "Official Trip", Iznogoud tries repeatedly to have the Caliph commit a diplomatic faux-pas with the Sultan Pulmankar which would force him to either step down, resign his position or possibly even be killed on the spot by the outraged sultan. Everything the vizier suggests, however, results in the Caliph getting a cheerful, happy response for somehow following some bizarre and obscure tradition of his visiting guests. Then Iznogoud says "Nuts!" in response to the last one, which results in the sultan angrily taking offense to that word and demanding the vizier's life in slavery lest war be declared on the spot. The Caliph gleefully agrees, insisting that "his good vizier would surely agree in the interest of peace." Gilligan Cut to Iznogoud jailed and angrily trying to escape.
- Several stories, including "Summer Vacation or Never Say Die" and "Mesmer-Eyezed", feature characters having cliché-laden or pun-saturated exchanges, during which another character will look at the reader and mutter that they won't be winning the Nobel Prize for Literature/the Pulitzer Prize with dialogue like this.
- Jean Tabary was a notorious procrastinator, and several of his Creator Cameos poke fun at his utter hopelessness at meeting deadlines (and the frustration it causes for his editors).
- "The Time Machine" sees a comic artist who looks remarkably like Tabary trying to use a time machine to go back just far enough to meet a looming deadline, only to go back too far and end up in Iznogoud's Baghdad. When Iznogoud threatens to impale him if he doesn't like his explanation of how he arrived in Baghdad, the artist muses that he appears to have wound up in an editor's office.
- Iznogoud is caught off guard in "The Day of Misrule" when it emerges that the hourglass he is using to mark time during the Day of Misrule is an hour slow - because the artist, "Tahbari the Great", used his watch to set it, and his watch always runs slow.
- In "The Magic Calendar", when Iznogoud accidentally tears off too many pages of the title artifact and ends up in Tabary's studio in the 20th century, Tabary assumes he is a courier from the publisher and apologises for the delay in finishing his latest story - which happens to be about a magic calendar...
- "Dark Designs" sees Iznogoud taking drawing lessons from Tahbari al-Tardi, the caliphate's best (and only) artist. He is implied to be just as tardy when it comes to keeping to a schedule as his real life counterpart; he says his clients regularly threaten to impale him when he fails to deliver a commission on time, and at one point, he tells Iznogoud he needs to step out to complete some drawings for a calendar - for the previous year.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: "A Carrot for Iznogoud" gives A Day in the Limelight to Haroun al-Plassid, who discovers just how evil Iznogoud really is and goes on a globetrotting quest for a magic vegetable known as a "carrot" that can make even the most wicked person turn good. Unfortunately, when he finally brings a carrot back to Baghdad and gives it to the palace cook to turn into soup, the cook makes soup from the leaves and throws the root out of the window, where it is eaten by a camel. The camel becomes the nicest creature ever to sport humps on its back, but Iznogoud remains as cruel and ambitious as ever - and the Caliph is none the wiser.
- Several stories feature Wa'at Alahf invoking the Catchphrase of fellow Goscinny creation Obelix the Gaul.
- In "The Road to Nowhere", Iznogoud and Wa'at Alahf are confused to run across a hitchhiker pointing a thumb in either direction. He explains that he's from Rome, and since all roads lead to Rome, it doesn't matter which way he goes. As Iznogoud speeds his and Wa'at Alahf's camel on its way, Wa'at Alahf mutters, "These Romans are crazy!"
- In "The Wax Museum", Iznogoud brings a wax statue of Marcus Junius Brutus to life to bump off the Caliph, but the famous assassin of Caesar falls afoul of a caveman whom Iznogoud previously brought to life. When Brutus begins arguing with Iznogoud, Wa'at Alahf turns to the readers and twirls his finger around his head while saying, "These Romans are crazy!"
- One of the attempts to hypnotise the Caliph in "Mesemer-Eyezed" fails because of a palace slave who has been clapping his hands in an attempt to kill mosquitos. He explains to Iznogoud that he is a "mosquiteer", and there are three or four of them around the palace, a reference to The Three Musketeers (or four, if one counts D'Artagnan). Another attempt fails because the palace washerwomen are slapping wet clothes with laundry paddles while singing "Dashing Away with the Smoothing Iron" (with "eye-on" in place of "iron"), a 19th century English folk song.
- The European sorcerer who sells Iznogoud the title concoction in "The Occidental Philtre" is named Geoffrey Saucer, and at one point mentions that he has written a knight's tale, a reference to one of The Canterbury Tales.
- In "The Mysterious Billposter", when Iznogoud has accidentally followed the Caliph and Wa'at Alahf into the seemingly inescapable holiday poster, he repeatedly sends the Caliph away so that he can attempt to escape behind his back. Each time the Caliph returns, he describes sights that readers may recognise as other advertisements: a laughing cow (mascot of the cheese of the same name), a bottle that goes "Sssssch" (a reference to Schweppes tonic water), and breaded fish with fingers (likely a reference specifically to Bird's Eye fish fingers). When he returns to tell Iznogoud about his final discovery (the billposter, who has put up a second poster they can use to get out again), Iznogoud cuts him off while referencing the Jolly Green Giant, Tony the Tiger, and the Pillsbury Doughboy.
- Several stories feature Wa'at Alahf invoking the Catchphrase of fellow Goscinny creation Obelix the Gaul.
- Sinister Schnoz: Just look at him. The most evil character in the comics, and he has the longest nose of any character.
- Speech Impediment: In "The Strong-Arm Men", one of the attempts by the title characters to kidnap the Caliph at Iznogoud's behest is foiled by the arrival of Rashid the Miner, whom the Caliph likes for his amusing stories. Unfortunately for Iznogoud, Rashid has a very severe stutter, and it takes him four hours to tell a single joke.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: When the comics debuted in the Franco-Belgian magazine Record in 1962, they were titled The Adventures of Caliph Haroun el Poussah. It was quickly realised that Iznogoud was a much more interesting central character, and the comic's focus, and title, were transferred to him.
- Spot the Imposter: In "Fairy Tale", Iznogoud recruits clumsy apprentice fairy Blunderbell to transform him into the Caliph. However, she starts by transforming the Caliph into Iznogoud - in personality as well as appearance. The two clones promptly get into a fistfight over which of them is the real Iznogoud. Blunderbell tries to resolve things with another spell - only to turn both Iznogouds into copies of the Caliph. Then she turns one of the copies of the Caliph into two copies of Iznogoud.
- The Starscream: Grand Vizier Iznogoud, who wants to become "Caliph instead of the Caliph" (although the Caliph isn't really that much of a Big Bad, more of a Big Naive). And various one-shot characters show that his behaviour is contagious...
- "The Horde" features an appearance by Genghis Khan's lieutenant Blujin, who aspires to be "Khan instead of the Khan" and so tries to surrender the Mongol armies to Baghdad so that his boss will be taken prisoner. If only Iznogoud wasn't trying to do the same thing...
- In "Iznogoud's Pupil", Iznogoud tries to provoke a war between the Caliphate and Sultan Pullmankar by being a Sadist Teacher to Pullmankar's son B'Oufaykhar, but what really gets the lad's interest is the subject of becoming Caliph instead of the Caliph. Days later, Sultan Pullmankar shows up after Iznogoud's head - his son has already deposed him!
- After the Martians in "Magic-Fiction" return to their home planet, Zloub, one of the visitors, is evidently inspired by Iznogoud's ambition. When he reports to the Martian head of state, he points his spatial-temporaliser at him and fires, sending him to the same hippie protest concert in the 1960s to which he had previously sent Wa'at Alahf (who has happily joined in the singing) and Iznogoud (who has not).
- Status Quo Is God: Whatever happens to Iznogoud — even being blasted into orbit in "Iznogoud Rockets to Stardom" — he's back safe and sound in the next story. The album The Returns of Iznogoud adds epilogues via Retcon to many of the "bad endings" of past stories, explaining how Iznogoud each time manages to return to the normal status quo, with some exceptions; some of these epilogues have him trying to escape the bad situation and ending in a worse situation. For example, Iznogoud escapes the complex maze in "The Labyrinth" only to end up in the inescapable dungeons. Iznogoud has been there before (in a much older story like "The Caliph's Scepter") but doesn't remember the way out. While there he meets an older incarnation of himself, still searching for the way out after all these years.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: When Iznogoud decides to learn to draw in "Dark Designs", Wa'at Alahf says "it's a difficult art for beginners to master. Many try, but few succeed, and the standards required of young people these days are...". Later on, Iznogoud's art instructor Tahbari al-Tardi says the same thing word by word. The narrator later says the same thing.
- Stupid Evil: Iznogoud, while generally intelligent (and much smarter than both most people around him and the Caliph), occasionally falls into this trope: a lot of his plans backfire precisely because he made idiotic mistakes, or couldn't resist the temptation to Kick the Dog at the wrong time.
- Super Smoke: Various genies use this to enter/exit a bottle. Or a lamp. Or a shoe, in one case.
- Superstition Episode: In The Nightmarish Birthday of Iznogoud, Wa'at Alahf breaks a mirror over his head to free a guy from a curse. As a result, the guy is blessed with seven years of good luck and Wa'at is cursed with seven years of bad luck (that only last for the remainder of the comic).
- Surrounded by Idiots: Or, more often than not, by crazies. Special mention to the palace guards. Iznogoud even lampshades this several times as in Who Killed the Caliph? for example:Iznogoud: Can't we just fire all crazy people from this palace?!
Wa'at Alahf: Sure, boss, but who would be in charge of doing this?
- Symbol Swearing:
- Who Killed the Caliph? has Iznogoud asking Wa'at Alahf for a rope when he is down a cliff. Wa'at drops the entire length of rope. Iznogoud begins cursing, with bombs, bones, axes etc. Then a lot of these items fall from above, seemingly dropped by Wa'at, who thought Iznogoud was asking for them.
- In "The Jigsaw Turk", Iznogoud inadvertently gives an entrepreneur the idea to set up a beach resort in the middle of the desert where he is trying to put together a 10,000 piece jigsaw, and soon the area is as packed as the beaches of the Côte d'Azur during peak holiday season. When one boy's wayward beach ball bounces off another man's stomach, the boy's father gets involved, and we get this gem:Beachgoer: MAYBE YOU SHOULD KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR BRAT!
Boy's Father: D'YOU KNOW WHAT MY BRAT SAYS TO YOU?
Boy: [cheerfully] He says #@%!
Boy's Father: [backhanding his son] WASH YOUR MOUTH, YOU!
- Taken for Granite: Several stories involve Iznogoud getting turned into a statue at the end.
- "The Golden Handshake" features Ghoudas Gho'ld, descendant of King Midas, who can only turn things into gold-plated versions of their original forms. Close enough, thinks Iznogoud, and he tries to get the unfortunate curse victim to shake the hand of the Caliph. But all manner of other things and people are turned into gold-plated statues instead, and finally Ghoudas and Iznogoud share a farewell handshake. Wa'at Alahf can see how this will end up as soon as Iznogoud announces the plan, and has a commemorative plaque and a wreath of flowers ready for the statue as soon as the transformation happens. In The Returns of Iznogoud, it was revealed that Ghoudas' victims don't actually transform into statues, but are only covered in a metallic coating, and this is what saves Iznogoud.
- In "Iznogoud on Thin Ice", Iznogoud meets drinks seller Gehtorehd, who is so ugly that unless she wears a veil, everyone who looks at her face is literally frozen with shock - in a block of ice. He takes her to the palace to look at the Caliph, but she explains that her powers do not work on someone with an elevated temperature, and her visit coincides with the Caliph suffering from a severe fever. Inevitably, Iznogoud gets a glimpse of Gehtorehd's face when she accidentally looks at him without replacing her veil after yet another failed attempt to freeze the Caliph, and the unfortunate vizier is encased in ice. As her face has been obscured throughout the story, on the final page, the narrator surprises Gehtorehd by declaring that she will now unveil her face, so she obliges; the last panel is blank, with an editor's note explaining the publishers were given a "cold reception" from the artist upon collecting the story, which was left unfinished.
- The vizier is told in "The Wax Museum" that all of the waxworks of past and future villains he is bringing to life - from Marcus Junius Brutus to Al Capone - must be back in the museum when it closes for the day at 7pm, or he will be turned into a waxwork instead, and no spell will bring him to life. Inevitably, he fails and is turned into a statue (and once again, Wa'at Alahf can see this coming a mile away and prepares accordingly by buying a feather duster).
- "The Freezing Song" sees Iznogoud encountering the siren Waharning, whose song freezes all who hear it (Crawdad, the captain of the ship that brought her back to Basra, is deaf as a post and so was unaffected). She is taken back to Baghdad in a bathtub (a strange new contraption in the caliphate), but every time Iznogoud tries to get her to sing for the Caliph, she finds new reasons why he cannot hear her song. Finally, insistent that she be returned to the sea that day, she is taken to a clifftop and the Caliph is brought before her... but when he reveals himself to be tone deaf, she refuses to perform once more, and an enraged Iznogoud kicks her bathtub over the cliff as she bursts into a song intended to freeze him. He covers his ears, and waits until she hits the water to uncover them, assuming he is safe from her song. Unfortunately, as Wa'at Alahf explains to the reader as he carries the catatonic Iznogoud back home, he happened to be standing at the top of Echo Cliff...
- Take That, Audience!: The passworded dungeon in "The Caliph's Sceptre". Of course it ends with Iznogoud forgetting the password ("zymurgy", the last word in the dictionary), being trapped in there, desperately testing all permutations. When Wa'at Alahf says he has a feeling people are laughing at them, the furious vizier turns to the reader:Iznogoud: Oh, are they? Well, I'd like to know just how many of them can become Caliph instead of the Caliph... for start, let's see how many of you can remember the magic word to let us out of this secret room! Come on, now... and no cheating!
- Time Travel Episode: A number of stories have Iznogoud traveling into the past or future, and trying to return to his own time.
- "The Time Machine" sees an artist from the 20th century who looks uncannily like Jean Tabary stranded in Iznogoud's Baghdad after he enters a time cabinet to go back just far enough to meet a pending deadline and the door closes behind him. Iznogoud gets a brilliant idea to use the time machine to strand the Caliph in the Stone Age, but a series of misunderstandings leads to Iznogoud and Wa'at Alahf getting stranded in the Stone Age instead and attracting unwanted attention from a caveman, while Tabary is unable to get them back after he suddenly returns to the 20th century when the original time cabinet is opened by a representative from his publishers who chides him for trying to hide rather than admit to having missed his deadline.
- The title artifact in "The Magic Calendar" allows the user to travel forward through time by tearing off pages, and back again by gluing the pages back on. Iznogoud's plan is to Make Wrong What Once Went Right by setting traps for the Caliph in the future, then going back to the past to guide him toward them. However, before he can put this plan into action, he gets sidetracked tearing pages off the calendar to move past a sudden rainstorm, or to move ahead to a day when the taverns are open (by which time the narrator has given up trying to keep track of which way Iznogoud is moving through time), and eventually starts tearing off giant handfuls of pages in a rage, ending up in the 20th century in Jean Tabary's studio. As Iznogoud has lost the glue to put the pages back on the calendar, Tabary offers to glue them back on for him - travelling back several days in time himself and stranding Iznogoud in the timestream. Tabary shrugs off the experience and turns his attention to re-drawing the suddenly blank pages of his latest comic, "The Magic Calendar".
- A memorable one was one of the subplots in Caliph at Last. Iznogoud is trying to retrieve one of the Caliph's brothers, who he had exiled into a different time period. The problem is that the period was the early 20th century, and the brother serves as a soldier in World War I. When Iznogoud travels forward in time, he finds himself wearing a military uniform and serving in a battlefield. He has to deal with nasty officers on his own side, and incoming bullets and snipers from the other side. Unsurprisingly, Iznogoud wants to get the hell out of this era.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: In Iznogoud's Childhood, Iznogoud experiments a type of time travel in which the present and the past happen at the same time for a while, which he tries to exploit by attempting to get rid of the Caliph's younger self. The whole thing eventually end up being a Stable Time Loop, in which Iznogoud's time travel is what causes his younger self (who Used to Be a Sweet Kid) to transform into the Jerkass we're familiar with. However, earlier in the comic, Iznogoud stabs younger Wa'at Alahf to test the time travelling nature, and that case works on a Ripple Effect basis, in which adult Wa'at Alahf shows up with a scar he'd never had.
- Too Dumb to Live: Iznogoud in some stories.
- Transferred Transformation: One story had a foreign prince cursed into a frog, and kissing the frog would transfer the curse to the kisser. At some point the curse was copied instead of transferred (no explanation for was given in the comic, but the Animated Adaptation had it happen when the frog kisses someone instead of the reverse).
- Two-Headed Coin: Subverted: all the coins are two-headed. Iznogoud forgets it, ridiculing himself.
- Undying Loyalty: Wa'at Alahf spends a lot of time trying to dissuade his master from trying any new plan, but ultimately never considers quitting.
- Unknown Rival: It's pretty obvious in "The Magic Catalogue": everyone in Bagdad knows that Iznogoud wants to be Caliph instead of the Caliph... everyone, that is, except the Caliph.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Iznogoud verges from this to an Anti-Hero.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Amazingly, Iznogoud. Iznogoud's Childhood reveals that he actually once was an adorable, good-tempered, sweet kid who got along pretty well with Haroun and Wa'at.
- Use Your Head: Once, when he tells this to his lackey... he didn't mean it literally, but Wa'at Alahf did.
- Villainous Breakdown: Like all villains created by Goscinny, Iznogoud is particularly susceptible to it; generally, if a story doesn't end with him suffering a Fate Worse than Death, it will end with him sobbing or gibbering with insanity. The fact he lives in a Palace where he (a megalomaniac aggressive Evil Chancellor) seems to be the only one with some degree of sanity doesn't really help.
- "Summer Vacation or Never Say Die" ends with Iznogoud, having seen his every attempt to off the Caliph during a beach holiday end in failure, reduced to a bedridden nervous wreck; the palace doctor recommends to the Caliph that his vizier be sent away on holiday to recuperate.
- In "Tried and Tse-tsed", after the tsetse fly Iznogoud plans to use to get the Caliph to go to sleep permanently is sedated by the Caliph's cup of herbal tea and adopted as a pet by the genial ruler, the vizier is reduced to a babbling wreck whom Wa'at Alahf is presenting to a doctor (in the animated version, "Watch Out! There's a Fly About", Iznogoud loses his marbles and is committed to an asylum).
- At the end of "A Lookalike", the Caliph and his doppelganger, Aristides Kingsizos, have met and bonded over a game of War (the card game), and the formerly grouchy lookalike now talks and acts like the Caliph. On the palace steps, Iznogoud sobs to Wa'at Alahf that he tried to get rid of one Caliph and now he's stuck with two. The animated version, "The Sultan's Double", furthers Iznogoud's breakdown when Aristides' business partner comes looking for him... and he turns out to be a dead ringer for Iznogoud, who goes catatonic with shock.note
- At the end of "The Wonderful Machine", the animated version of "A Calculated Risk", Iznogoud has run out of options to stall the signing of the marriage contract between the Sultan's 37th son and Sultan Streetcar's 42nd daughter until the computer he has purchased can tell him how to be Sultan instead of the Sultan, but The Genie in the Machine finally produces an answer... to the multiplication question her "programmer" asked her during the sale. Distraught at the failure of yet another scheme, Iznogoud faints dead away as a gong sounds to indicate the contract has been signed.note
- Villain Protagonist: Iznogoud is a thoroughly despicable character who cares for no-one but himself and nothing but his ambition to become Caliph instead of the Caliph; he's also the main character of the stories.
- We Didn't Start the Führer: The comic has Adolf Hitler be an emissary of the Devil who was sent to our world to create destruction and terror as we discover in The Accomplice of Iznogoud, where he has the temporary name of "H.1889" (but physically he looks nothing like Hitler, perhaps not to offend Jewish readers).
- World of Jerkass: Baghdad, especially from the Tabary era onwards, but already in the Goscinny era. Not only is it governed by the oblivious Caliph and the evil Iznogoud, but Humans Are Bastards in that city, and most citizens are hypocrites who complain all the time about Iznogoud's ruthlessness but are willing to help him for a few bucks, despite knowing the consequences if he's ever successful. In "Chop and Change", after Iznogoud becomes the Caliph for a short time by changing bodies with him and starts unleashing his tyranny, one guy berates the wizard who helped him, but the latter doesn't seem to regret it.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Iznogoud occasionally wins... very briefly. He managed to become caliph four times:note one time temporarily ("The Day of Misrule"), one time interim (A Likable Monster), one time by resignation of the Caliph ("The Inspector Spectre") and one time by coup d'etat ("Chop and Change"), and this time he remained caliph for a long time.