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Comic Book / The Thing

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Benjamin "Ben" Jacob Grimm, also known as The Thing, is a Marvel Comics character created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, first appearing in Fantastic Four #1 (dated Nov. 1961).

A quintessential tough guy and Ace Pilot, Ben was part of an outer space expedition led by Dr. Reed Richards, alongside Susan Storm, and Johnny Storm. A classic example of the Silver Age in science fiction, the group was hit by a wave of cosmic rays, resulting in Ben's skin mutating into a rock-like substance, granting him with superhuman levels of strength, stamina, and durability.

Naturally, Ben is not happy with his new appearance, though eventually grows comfortable with his new-found role as an "idol o' millions".

A founding member of Marvel's first family, Ben is known to show up frequently in other comic books. Most notably, however, he has appeared in the 2005 Fantastic Four film (and its 2007 sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer), as portrayed by Michael Chiklis. Ben also features in the 2015 Fantastic Four reboot, portrayed there by Jamie Bell.


The Thing appears in:

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    Comic Books 
  • Fantastic Four (various runs):
    • vol. 1 (1961 — 1996, 2002 — 2012, 2015)
    • vol. 2 (1996 — 1997)
    • vol. 3 (1998 — 2003)
    • vol. 4 (2013 — 2014)
    • vol. 5 (2014 — 2015)
    • vol. 6 (2018)
  • Marvel Two-in-One (various runs):
    • vol. 1 (1974 — 1983)
    • vol. 2 (2017 — present)
  • The Thing (various runs):
    • vol. 1 (1983 — 1986)
    • vol. 2 (2006)
  • FF vol. 1 (2011 — 2012)
  • Secret Wars vol. 2 (2015 — 2016)
  • Uncanny Inhumans (2015 — 2016)
  • Uncanny Avengers vol. 3 (2015 — 2017)



    Video Games 

The Thing provides examples of:

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Other than possibly Captain America, Ben is the most beloved hero in the entire Marvel superhero community. He may be scary to look at, but every civilian in the Marvel U still loves and respect Ben for his incorruptible heroism, and every single superhero worthy of the name loves, respects and supports Ben. He may not see himself as a leader, but if Ben ever needed help fighting a threat, he has Avengers Mansion, Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, and many a powerful superhero's numbers on speed dial, and all of them would respond IMMEDIATELY. This is perhaps best shown in Jonathan Hickman's X-Men when, despite the X-Men having become decidedly unfriendly to most non-mutants and a tense jurisdiction stand-off between the X-Men (through Cyclops) and the Fantastic Four over the disposition of Sabretooth, Cyclops takes a moment to congratulate Ben on his recent marriage.
  • Ace Pilot: The reason Reed wanted him flying the rocket.
  • Action Hero: A cosmic empowered rock superhuman who can fight crime, travel dimensions, and save the day.
  • Always Second Best: Ben is one of the physically strongest heroes on earth, only outdone by the company of those on the level of Thor, but he's always shown as just a bit behind where the Hulk is concerned. Hulk is just that bit stronger and faster while Ben can usually only equal him with a mixture of wit, skill, and sheer determination. This is a very big point of contention for Ben as a proud bruiser who hates losing to someone who he should be able to match.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Until it became canon. His full name is Benjamin Jacob Grimm.
  • Author Avatar: Jack Kirby suggested that Grimm was something of an alter-ego for himself, and the two seem to have a lot in common - grumpy, blue-collar, kindhearted, cigar-smoking, Jewish, and from the Lower East Side.
  • Badass Adorable: The Marvel Universe's best example. No other character has such a perfect balance between being completely lovable and completely awesome.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: He can go for a spacewalk without a suit, needing only a air supply to keep him from suffocating
  • Battle Strip: Ben Grimm, in the very first issue, had the habit of ripping off a trench coat, pair of pants, sunglasses, and a fedora every time he went into battle. This has continued right down to the present day, off and on. In his role as one of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Ben seems to wear jackets and flight suits specifically so he has something to tear off when Clobberin' Time rolls around.
  • Beast and Beauty: The Beast to Alicia Masters Beauty.
  • Beauty to Beast: Depending on the Artist, Ben Grimm was anywhere from average to ruggedly handsome in looks to start with. Now he... is not.
  • The Big Guy: In every version of the team.
  • Blessed with Suck: While most of the Fantastic Four embrace their powers, the Thing genuinely believes that his superpower is a curse, and who can blame him? Even though he possesses super strength and near invulnerability, it doesn't change the fact that he's been turned into a hideous rock monster that scares the shit out of anybody who sees him, and destroys his chances of living a normal life. He was also forced to quit his job as a test pilot because he was too big and heavy to fit in a plane. Oh yeah, and did we mention that he was turned into a hideous rock monster?
    • As Reed said once, "He has his good days and his bad." Ben will never really be at peace with his monstrous form. For every writer who gives him a break from the angst, there's one who brings it back because it's so central to his character. Mark Waid's run is a good example of the latter, with it even being speculated by Reed in a meta sort of way that he remains the way he is because he's more 'satisfying' (on a narrative level) that way.
    • In Hickman's run, he's given a serum that makes him human again. An unforeseen side-effect is that it will apparently slow his aging so that he only ages while human. And therefore he'll outlive all his friends and family (save Franklin) by thousands of years.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: He used to play this trope in earlier comics and traces of it still show up now and again.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: He's taken a fair number of such lessons, making him an experienced boxer and wrestler. In fact, this is what let him go three rounds with the Champion of the Universe; everyone else was too weak (Colossus, Sasquatch), too unskilled (Doc Samson, Wonder Man), or unable to abide by the rules (Namor, Incredible Hulk, The Mighty Thor).
  • Breakout Character: Even though Johnny was the first one to get a series (likely catapulting off his Golden Age counterpart), Ben is both the most popular member and the one who shows up most consistently in other books, including multiple stints on the Avengers, several solo series, and Marvel Two-In-One, a series that was essentially 100 issues of other heroes getting to team up with him.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: His first fight against the Immortal Hulk ended with him slugging him in the face so hard that it literally ripped the rock off of his arm. Reed puts his arm in an vibranium cast so it can heal. Worse off, he was out like a light for a week, missing his honeymoon vacation.
  • Brooklyn Rage: Even talks with a Brooklyn accent.
  • Brought Down to Badass: Ben's regained his humanity on a couple of occasions. Not that it keeps him from contributing to the Four's efforts.
  • Can't Catch Up: His win/loss record against The Incredible Hulk is shaky, and while he technically managed to beat him the first time they clashed, Banner's monstrous alter ego has only gotten even more freakishly strong over the years whereas Ben has (at best) grown at a linear pace. Unfortunately, due to the popularity of their increasingly one-side rivalry, Ben is often the initial line of defense against the Green Goliath when he goes on a rampage.
  • Can't Stay Normal: Ben has been reverted to human form many times over the years, but for one reason or another (the cure wearing off, or Ben choosing to change back to help his friends), he always returns to being the Thing. Reed speculates that there's a cosmic reason behind this, and that he is more 'satisfying' this way.
  • Captain Colorbeard: Thanks to a very weird Stable Time Loop, The Thing was the famed pirate Blackbeard. Yes, that one.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "It's CLOBBERIN' TIME!"
    • Other ones include, "My sweet aunt Petunia" and "Whotta revoltin' development!"
  • Characterization Marches On: Early Ben was much more temperamental and melancholy, rather than the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing he is these days. Curiously enough, the first issue has Ben as a human speaking in the manner he's most known for, then being a stoic snarker after becoming the Thing.
  • Cursed With Awesome: He's had persistent issues with his powers and the ugly appearance it gives him (along with the general effects on his life), but one can't deny, being able to lift hundreds of tons is a pretty good deal.
  • Custom Uniform: In the team costumes' first appearance in issue 3, Ben ripped his up until only shorts were left, because according to him he couldn't move in the full bodysuit. Since then he's usually worn just the trunks, but he's alternated with a belted singlet, full pants with no top, pants with a tank top, and yes, even a full bodysuit.
  • Dagwood Sandwich: Ben loves these.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He is also often sarcastic, quick to throw a wise crack.
  • Determinator: The Champion declared him Earth's greatest hero, because even if he's not the most powerful, he will not yield.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Ben has had two: She-Thing (Sharon Ventura, who transformed via cosmic rays) and Miss Thing (Darla Deering, who wears a modified version of the Thing exosuit).
  • Dub Name Change: While Spanish-speaking translations vary, his name is known as "La cosa" in Spain, which is a fairly direct translation of his original name. In Mexico and Latin America, however, this wasn't "cool enough", so it was changed to "La Mole" (An archaic synonim). This name proved to be very popular, and has inspired a popular Mexican convention for geeks and the otaku crowd.
  • Elemental Baggage: The Thing's rocky exterior makes him incredibly heavy, to the point where he has to use an elevator by himself to avoid overcoming the max lift weight and everything meant to accommodate him has to be built very large and reinforced. And, if you take the Ultimate Universe into consideration, his toilet arrangements apparently requires a rock grinder.
  • Facial Horror: During Tom DeFalco's Fantastic Four, Wolverine mauled Ben's face and Ben wad forced to don a helmet he briefly wore early on to protect his face as it healed — resulting in a red splotch for scar tissue until Hyperstorm undid the damage.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: One of his nicknames is "The Ever Lovin' Blue-Eyed Thing".
  • Genius Bruiser: Although his smarts are usually overshadowed by super-genius Reed, and assumptions are usually made because of his appearance, strength, and voice, he is very clever in his own right. Ben lampshades this as he assembles a cosmic ray device, musing that he's watched Reed long enough to play Mad Scientist himself. Furthermore, he is something of an unofficial translator for Reed whenever he goes too deep into Technobabble territory, and while he can't do a lot of what Reed does, he absolutely understands the principles behind it and can pick out the salient aspects right away. There is also the fact that Grimm was a highly qualified test pilot before he became The Thing; no mean feat brain-wise. And he's also a fully qualified aerospace engineer and founded a successful aeronautical R&D company, Grimm Aeronautics, again before becoming the Thing. The idea of The Thing being simultaneously physically strong, ugly, and smart was seen as revolutionary in comics.
  • Gentle Giant: As long as you don't make him mad.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: He's very much in the "good cigar-smoker" category; a rough-and-tumble strongman. He doesn't do it as much now, though.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Could be considered his Fatal Flaw; every time he gets angry he gets physical. His anger at Akhenaten led him to lash out and it ended the superhero community in an Alternate Universe.
  • Happily Married: In Dan Slott's run, Ben is officially married to Alicia Masters.
  • Heroic Spirit: Perhaps one of the greatest in the Marvel Universe, his tremendous spirit even ended up gaining the respect of the Champion of the Universe.
  • Honorary Uncle: Isn't related to either Reed or Sue, but both the Richard kids call him their uncle. He's lived with them since before they were born and took part in raising them, so he might as well be a blood relative at this point.
    Franklin: My middle name's Benjamin... Does that mean we're related, Unca Ben?
    Ben: ...Works fer me, kid. Works fer me.
  • Hope Spot: During the early days of the series' run, Ben would periodically revert back to his old human self for a few minutes before turning back into The Thing again. Not only did this give Ben hope that the power of the cosmic rays were weakening on him, but it gave the rest of the four hope it might do the same for their powers.
  • Hot-Blooded: Very passionate and willful towards whatever he's up against, whether it's the daily struggles of looking like a monster or the next two-bit bad guy. You can rely on him to put his all into it.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: He is the poster boy for this trope. Despite his complaints about being an orange rock monster, every time he's been "cured", he finds a reason to become The Thing again. He actually enjoys being the FF's strong man and "The Idol of Millions", but just wishes he could walk down the street without being stared at.
    • Which by this point is probably more because of the whole "Idol of Millions" thing than because of his appearance, so he's got nothing to complain about. Apart from having non-reinforced floors give way under him, that is.
    • In Ben's case, while he does enjoy being the idol and helping out his friends, it does mean the everyday normal moments of his life are a lot more difficult because of his powers. Presumably, it does add up over time.
  • Ignored Expert: He warned Reed about the threat of cosmic radiation, and refused to fly the ship at first. Mark Waid's run has Reed note that the Four's transformations were his fault, and as a result, he made them celebrities to try and make up for it.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: The only thing that remains of his original human body, hence the nickname "The Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Thing".
  • Interspecies Adoption: As of the conclusion of Empyre, the Thing and Alicia have been given official custody of Kree and Skrull children named Jo-Venn and N'Kalla, who the Fantastic Four had rescued from the exploitation of the Profiteer.
  • Kavorka Man: Though not to the extent of Wolverine, Ben has had women find him very attractive, not because of his looks, but because of his personality and the fact that he's quite a gentleman.
  • Large Ham: Especially when he and Johnny are bickering or arguing.
  • Layman's Terms: Ben usually dumbs down the complex explanations Reed Richards comes up with for the people around him. When Reed starts speaking too Star-Trek even for him, it's also Ben who normally snaps at him to "Speak English, Stretcho!"
  • Lightning Bruiser: Another thing that's often overlooked is that he's just as fast and agile as he was as a human. He's studied multiple martial arts and has even tutored other members of the team in them, the only thing that's suffered is his manual dexterity due to his fingers being the size of sausages.
  • Mark of Shame: During the 90s, the Thing hid his face behind a silver helmet (the same one Sue made for him back when she originally created the team's uniforms) after a battle between the Fantastic Four and the "All-New" Fantastic Four (Spider-Man, Hulk, Wolverine and Ghost Rider assembled as Dr. Strange's latest iteration of the Secret Defenders) lead to Wolverine taking a huge hunk of Ben's face with his adamantium claws. Thankfully, the scar healed over time, but Ben was quite horrified by it.
  • Military Superhero: An oft-overlooked in adaptations fact about Reed and Ben is that they served in the army. In the early comics, it was World War II until Comic-Book Time made that impossible and it spent decades dropped. In 2019, it was reinstated as part of the Siancong War. In Ben's case, an earlier attempt to update this was Heroes Reborn making Ben a vet of The Gulf War.
  • Monster Modesty: Despite his issues with his appearance, he wears the least of the 4 - his standard "costume" is a pair of pants/shorts. At present, he's upgraded to a Sleeves Are for Wimps version of the "Future Foundation" suit.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: On his worse days, he can be self-focused and self-pitying. However, his heart is always in the right place. He is a lovable, kind soul who is a Gentle Giant and a Nice Guy.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: "Grimm". Averted, however, in that Ben's a sweetie otherwise. However, while he is vastly respected by practically all the heroes in the Marvel Universe, most if not all of the villains regard him as someone who is simply not to be trifled with, and best steered clear of. One scene had a large number of the villains in Spider-Man's rogues gallery at a bar drinking beer. The subject of the Fantastic Four came up, and no one argued when one bad guy observed that Grimm was a powerhouse to be avoided.
  • The Nicknamer: Some of his nicknames include "Stretcho" for Reed, "Bic-head" and "Matchstick" for Johnny, "Suzie-Q" for Susan, "Jade-Jaws" for Hulk, "Webs" for Spider-Man, etc.
  • Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!: The start of the Fantastic Four, and all of Ben's problems, came when he refused to fly Reed's rocket into space, and Sue called him a coward. That proved enough to get Ben on board.
  • The One Who Made It Out: And oh, do the Yancy Street Gang resent him for it.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Downplayed in the sense that he talks and acts like a brawler who came up in the rough part of the Lower East Side because he is one... but if people forget he is a test pilot with multiple post-graduate degrees and can least catch the gist of things when Reed lapses into Highest Academic, it often suits his purposes.
  • Organ Autonomy: In a bizarre case of Status Quo Is God, Ben's ability to switch between human and Thing form had to be removed at one time because of a bizarre reaction that caused his rocky skin to bud off into violent duplicates of himself. Apparently sentience is a potential evolution of his hide that this ability accelerated.
  • Papa Wolf: Again, the Richards children, who are his godchildren. Messing with them is a good way to get your face turned into goo by a large, rocky, orange fist.
  • Personality Powers: Ben is very solid and stubborn and, appropriately, Ben as The Thing is made of rock and stone.
  • Power Creep: One of the most severe cases in Marvel, actually. Originally Grimm could lift around 5 tons (which was more or less Spider-Man's maximum limit at the time, though Grimm was always tougher), but he got stronger and stronger until he could press about 90 tons. However he often displays feats of superhuman strength way beyond this theoretical limits (hauling skyscrapers, anchoring spaceships taking off from Earth) even though Marvel still swears up and down he can only do 90 tons - though at this point, the ton scale is generally taken as more for comparative purposes versus other characters than as an absolute limit. A future version of Ben managed to easily overpower him, stating "We keep getting stronger for the rest of our life."
  • Powered Armor: At one point, Ben was turned back into a human and lost his powers as the Thing. Since he still wanted to help the rest of the team out, Reed constructed an Iron Man-like suit of armor for him that resembles his rocky Thing form. The suit allowed Ben to simulate the strength and durability he had when he was the actual Thing, albeit not quite on the same level.
  • Properly Paranoid: Ben was vocally worried about the cosmic rays that would empower the team, which was one reason he didn't want to fly it up to begin with. That he wound up completely right due to becoming a Rock Monster has come up as an issue between him and Reed, and why Reed has tried so hard to cure him and, failing that, at least make him (and the rest of the Four) famous to compensate.
  • Pro Wrestling Is Real: The Thing, as well as several other super strong characters are a part of a superhuman wrestling federation called Unlimited Championship Wrestling.
  • The Rival: To Incredible Hulk, which is an amusing case given that the Hulk is usually portrayed as vastly stronger than the Thing physically, though they were originally depicted with equal strength, and Thing usually balances the power gap out with superior fighting skills.
  • Rock Monster: The Thing looks like he's made of rocks (even though he isn't) and many who don't know who he is think he's a monster.
  • Running Gag: Ben's never-ending war against the Yancy Street Gang, a group of off-screen Harmless Villain street youths he sometimes obsesses over.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Ben Grimm is much smarter than most folks give him credit. A college graduate and former marine, he was a test pilot and astronaut (which requires two Master's degrees or a PhD to be even considered for that kind of duty) as well as a gifted mechanic before his transformation. He might not be a scientific genius like Reed or Doctor Doom, but he more than makes up for it with the street smarts he earned growing up in a rough lower-class neighborhood. Not only is he a college graduate (a fairly common thing nowadays) but he's a graduate of the same college that Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom (the two smartest people on the planet) went to—probably a pretty good school. It's a trait that comes up several times in the comics when he manages to outsmart several villains who think he's an idiot. Sadly this is something that's lost in many adaptations, the live-action movie kept it in though.
  • Status Quo Is God: The Thing gets turned into a human about once every few years, but always gets turned back, usually because he needs to help someone out.
    • It's something of a running gag. Sometimes when it happens he actively tries to regain his powers as he feels useless and naked without them.
      • In one story arc, Reed tried to remove Ben's mutation and add it to his own elasticity, but Ben refused to let him. "You're you an' I'm me, an' that's the cosmic plan."
    • Cruelly played with in the "Three" storyline, where Ben is given a formula that allows him to become human for one day a year. It just so happens that the day he chose is the day Annihilus tries to invade via the Baxter Building, meaning Ben has to watch as Johnny sacrifices himself to save the Earth.
  • Super Strength: The Thing's primary superhuman power is his great physical strength. His strength has continued to increase over the years due to a combination of further mutation and special exercise equipment designed for him by Reed Richards. His feats include successfully holding back a giant alien spacecraft from jettisoning from Earth, lifting an oil rig and stopping a multiple story building (weighing roughly 30,000 tons) from falling over and lifting it back into place.
  • Super Toughness: Being transformed into the Thing sucks in a number of ways, but it does come in mighty handy when you end up fighting guys like the Incredible Hulk and he punches you with a blow that would reduce any ordinary human to paste.
  • Survivor's Guilt: Developed this because of the aforementioned events of the "Three" storyline. It clears up once Johnny comes back.
  • There Was a Door: In the very first issue, Ben's covered up in the first page he appears. He doesn't appear in all his rocky glory until he sees Reed's signal and smashes through a nearby wall, bemoaning "why must they build doors so narrow?"
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: His skills as a pilot sometimes get a chance to shine when a superhero vehicle (many of which, including the Fantasticar, drive themselves) has its guidance system taken out for one reason or another.
  • Translator Buddy: For Reed. Ben is usually the first to ask his friend to dumb down for everyone else.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Johnny. They spend most of their time either sniping and snarking at each other, planning increasingly elaborate practical jokes on each other, or lambasting each other with creatively brutal threats about what they'll do to the other (which are hardly ever followed through) after said practical jokes. They are, of course, practically inseparable - Ben missed him horribly (and had an awful case of Survivor's Guilt after Johnny died in the "Three" storyline), and they both heavily relied on each other for support when Sue and Reed appeared to be dead after Secret Wars (2015).
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Ben typically goes without shirts, since they either get ripped or damaged or shredded in the course of a typical adventure. His usual outfit consists of briefs... and nothing else, though this isn't meant to be played for fanservice.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Compared to the Hulk, Ben's a more skilled fighter, generally smarter, and a competent martial artist. This contrasts with Hulk being Unskilled, but Strong.
  • What Have I Become?: In the first few issues of the series back in the 1960s, Ben didn't take being transformed into a living pile of orange rocks too well. He's still not all that happy about it, but he's mostly come to terms with it.
    • As Reed says "He has his good days and his bad days."
  • Will They or Won't They?: With Alicia Masters. Over, and over again. In Dan Slott's run, they finally get married for the first time.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Briefly, when he was a member of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers simultaneously, plus appearing in FF. Not so much after Avengers vs. X-Men.
  • Yiddish as a Second Language: To be fair, he's a). Jewish and b). from Lower East Side. Comes with the territory.


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