Follow TV Tropes


Comic Strip / Hägar the Horrible

Go To

Hägar the Horrible is a classic comic strip about a red-bearded Viking, created by Dik Browne (Hi and Lois) in 1973.

Hägar is married to Helga, who is a formidable woman with bigger horns on her helmet than he has on his. The rest of Hägar's family consists of his young son Hamlet (a book-lover with no interest in violence, much to Hägar's chagrin), and a daughter called Honi who is just old enough to be The Ingenue. His best friend is a klutz called Lucky Eddie. This is a gag-a-day Strip set in Dark Age Europe covering both Viking invasions and sieges (he regularly harasses castles) and Hägar's home life.

Not to be confused with Haggis Is Horrible.


Hägar the Horrible contains examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: The strips mix Scandinavian names (Helga), Germanic words used as names (Kvack), and those with English origins (Lucky Eddie, Hamlet).
  • Action Girl: Honi. who has has difficulty deciding whether she wants to be a housewife or a warrior.
  • Anachronism Stew: Hagar has encountered King Arthur, Robin Hood, Attila the Hun, Richard III, and Lady Godiva in various strips.
  • Animated Adaptation: Hanna-Barbera released one with a half-hour special on CBS in 1989 with Peter Cullen voicing Hägar.
  • Apron Matron: Helga is usually (but not always) seen in an apron, especially when doing housework.
  • Artistic License – History: Inevitable in a comic strip with this premise. For one thing, Attila the Hun keeps making appearances (and is referred to even more), even though he died three hundred years before the Vikings began to sail around Europe. Browne stretched this trope even further once, when Hägar met Nostradamus!!
  • Advertisement:
  • Author Avatar: Hägar bears a striking resemblance to his creator, Dik Browne, as well as his son, Chris, who currently draws the strip.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Hägar, despite him not being all that "horrible".
  • Bankruptcy Barrel: Happens often when someone gets looted.
  • Battle Ballgown: Honi wears one. Some strips have even shown her having a blacksmith making adjustments to her dress instead of a seamstress doing so.
  • Big Eater: As evidenced by his body shape, Hagar tends to eat a lot and has been guilty of gags such as Cut a Slice, Take the Rest.
  • Brawn Hilda: Helga resembles this archetype.
  • Britain Is Only England: In one strip, after being blown off course and shipwrecked, Hägar thinks he has landed in England and sends Lucky Eddie ashore proclaiming he loves the English. Turns out they have actually landed in Scotland, and Violence Ensues.
  • Buffet Buffoonery: Hagar carries away the entire contents of a smorgasbord.
  • Catapult to Glory: In one strip Hagar uses this tactic to get some of his men over a castle wall.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Hernia acts like one toward Hamlet despite them not being together in the first place, and always gets melodramatically sad when he rejects her.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like:
    • Hägar once saved a screaming woman from a rack. Only to learn later that The Brute he had killed was really her chiropractor.
    • An earlier strip had Hägar rescue a woman from a tower who complained so much, Hägar put her back.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Hägar normally doesn't seem too impressive, but his job is raiding castles and sacking towns, and he shows off some pretty badass stunts while doing so. One three-panel strip has the catapult break down on a raid. So he successfully fills in for it by shotputting boulders at the enemy castle.
  • Delivery Stork: Hamlet asks his mother The Question. She answers that the stork brought him. He wants to know about his big sister, and Helga gives the same answer. Then he asks about his dad, and Helga says: "Four big storks."
  • Dub Name Change:
    • In the Norwegian translation, all the main characters are named after people from Snorri Sturluson's Norse Kings' sagas. Hägar is named Hårek after The Viking Age chieftain Hårek of Tjøtta (965-1036).
    • The Swedish translation names Hägar Hagbard Handfaste, his son Loke, his daughter Brynhilde and his best friend Tur-Ture (roughly "Lucky Ture").
    • In Spanish-speaking countries, the strip is known as "Olafo el Vikingo" ("Olaf the Viking"). Hägar becomes Olafo, Lucky Eddie is named Chiripa and Honi is Astrid.
    • The French translation calls him Hägar Dünor, meaning Hagar of the North, but also an Asterix-style pun on one of Paris' train stations (Gare du Nord). His wife is Hildegarde, his daughter is Ingrid and his son Homlet.
    • The Finnish name of the strip is Harald Hirmuinen (Harald the Horrible)—Harald is a genuine Viking name. His best pal is Orm Onnekas (Orm the Lucky) in Finnish. Orm is also a genuine Viking name.
  • Ear Trumpet: Hägar once was trying to communicate with an old Viking. The problem: The Ear Trumpet was full of letters.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Hagar occasionally encounters dragons and other fantastic creatures like trolls and such (one strip has him and Snert running from an angry tree, Hagar telling Snert that "you never do that in the Haunted Forest!") He also occasionally comes across fairy tale characters, like Puss in Boots and The Gingerbread Man.
  • "Far Side" Island: Hägar and Lucky Eddie often get stranded on that kind of island.
  • Girly Bruiser: Honi. She is very pretty, the object of male attention, wears a metal dress, wields a sword or spear and is very strong. In fact, Honi is strong enough that she has been shown arm-wrestling her suitors!
  • Hates Baths: Hägar hates his yearly bath note .
  • Henpecked Husband: Hägar may be a raider, but he is still usually at his wife Helga's beck and call at home... Unless he really doesn't want to help her out with something.
  • Horns of Barbarism: Exaggerated, with not only the Vikings wearing horned helmets but their pets as well. If a Viking lies, his horns fall off; Hägar tends to go through a lot of helmets because of this. The horns also show the wearer's emotional state, somehow, pointing upward normally but pointing downward when Hagar is sad.
  • Horny Vikings: The classic portrayal of Vikings as horned helmet-wearing marauders whose only major pastime is sacking and pillaging their way through Europe.
  • Hypocritical Humour: One strip has Helga lecturing Honi about how she must not "throw herself at" men. Then a rich, handsome prince walks by, and Helga bodily picks Honi up and flings her at him, yelling "Catch!"
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: Hägar once ordered his men to the life boats. When told they didn't have any, he explained he always wanted to say that.
  • Interspecies Romance: Lucky Eddie's romantic interest in - and sometime success with - mermaids has become a Running Gag.
  • Ironic Nickname: Lucky Eddie, who's more of a Butt-Monkey in the present day. One longer story does explain he used to be extremely lucky until he was cursed.
  • Italians Talk with Hands: In one comic about cities in Europe to plunder, Lucky Eddie demonstrates it.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Helga apparently used to be beautiful, according to some snarky comments by her husband — it also explains where Honi came from. One strip has Hägar trying to compliment Honi by saying her mother used to look just like her, which causes her to declare her whole life ruined.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Hägar. He is a buffonish viking who pillages other people's property. However, he is also shown to be a lovable and well-meaning family man who really does love his wife, children, and does have a childlike and adorable innocence to his character.
  • Jock Dad, Nerd Son: Parodied with Book Dumb Hägar, who has virtually no education skills, yet frequently goes raiding other countries to bring home the goods, and his studious son Hamlet, who is much more literate than Hägar and has no tendencies to follow in his father's footsteps.
  • Leeroy Jenkins:
    • When Lucky Eddie learns that the first step to becoming a Viking is to "do something incredibly brave" he marches straight up to Helga and pulls a face at her. One beatdown later Hägar tells him, "Sorry, we don't take crazy people."
    • Hägar has his moments, too.
  • Long Runner: Since 1973!
  • Loves Me Not: Hernia does this at one point, but decides to stop at "loves me" before she has reached the last petal.
  • The Low Middle Ages: The setting.
  • The Magnificent: Inverted with Hägar's epithet, "the Horrible". These are actually his real middle and last names; see Who's on First?.
  • Manchild: Hägar has many child-like qualities and frequently comes off as less mature than his own children. It's highly situational, though - when at home, he is usually this trope, but when leading his crew, he frequently has to be the responsible one.
  • The Meaning of Life: Subverted. We see the old wise man sitting on his mountaintop meditating. Suddenly, he has an epiphany. He stands up and announces "The meaning of life is..." He's interrupted by a loud buzzer and a voice from the sky says "I'm sorry. Your answer must be phrased in the form of a question.''
  • Negative Continuity:
    • Hagar and family's house is usually shown in a wide-open space... except one time it was shown to be on the edge of a cliff, with Hagar's boat docked in the water below.
  • Never Bareheaded: Hägar even sleeps wearing his helmet.
  • Never Learned to Read:
    • Hagar, and he regrets it, except when Helga needs help with bookshelf assembly instructions.
    • Averted with Hägar's son Hamlet, a bookworm who prefers reading to fighting.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Hägar and his mother-in-law do NOT get along. In one strip, Hägar gives a long spiel to Hamlet about the roles of various family members. His entry on in-laws? "Don't ask."
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Barkeeping: In the strip for July 16th 2014, Hagar and Lucky Eddie are talking in a bar. The bartender is behind the counter polishing a glass.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: They seem drawn to Lucky Eddie, oddly enough.
  • The Pig-Pen:
    • Hagar's occasional ally Dirty Dirk.
    • Hagar himself hates baths; a Running Gag of the strip is that he only takes one once a year. (In truth, Vikings were known for their personal hygiene at home — on shipboard was another matter; they INVENTED the sauna, after all!)
  • Ping-Pong Naïveté: Lute, Honi's boyfriend, as to how tough he is. Depending on the Writer, he has been shown as both a Non-Action Guy and a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass.
  • Print Long-Runners: Since 1974, which is practically still baby years for a comic strip.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Hagar and his crew pillage a lot, and occasionally they burn the place and carry away women for unspecified purposes. There are a lot of jokes about this; for example, in a strip, Hagar is leading an army with siege engines and a battering ram against a castle, but it has a sign that says, "No looting and pillaging allowed!" Hagar says, "Gee, I kinda hate to turn back now..."
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: Hägar is looking for men willing to sail to the end of the world. The jester character answers: "Do I look like a fool?" And Hägar has his first volunteer.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Dragons aren't nearly as common in Scandinavian myths as this comic strip would have you believe. It might just be a case of Rule of Cool and Author Appeal, though, since Dik Browne really liked drawing dragons.
  • Saw a Woman in Half: Subverted in one strip. The woman in the act tells him it was her fault to say that "there was no magic left in their marriage" (the magician is her husband, and it's hinted at that this won't end well).
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Hooray, Hooray! It's the third of May! Outdoor gardening starts today!!"
    • The Swedish translation only occasionally translates Hägar's epithet "the horrible" literally; instead it often opts to give him the epithet Handfaste (roughly "the steady") after the 1946 film Harald Handfaste.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Three sensitive guys - Hamlet, Lucky Eddie and Lute - to Hägar's manly man.
  • Signature Instrument: This comic has the wandering minstrel Lute, who routinely has a lute on hand. Lute likes to serenade Hagar's daughter Honi with it; Hagar thinks Lute is too effeminate for a Viking warrior's daughter.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: One strip has Hägar and Helga trying with increasingly unsubtle hints to get rid of the last remaining pair of guests after a party. In the end, they give up on budging them and move out, letting the unwelcome guests keep the house.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Honi is thin and gorgeous compared to the lumpy, hairy Hägar. Apparently this is due to Helga's looks in her youth.
  • The Unpronounceable: In an early strip, Lucky Eddie gave as his real name a string of letters loaded with random diacritical marks.
  • Unwilling Suspension: Tax evaders get this, for instance.
  • Western Zodiac: Parodied. Helga rants how she made a mistake when she married the Leo Hägar and claims she would have done better if she had married a Virgo instead. Lucky Eddie applauds her — because he's a Virgo. She gives up on astrology.
  • When I Was Your Age...: Also parodied.
    • Hamlet is 12, and his grandfather tells him that in his time, kids had to grow up faster, and he himself had been 20 at Hamlet's age.
    • Also another relative of them who claims that he had to work 24 hours a day and got nothing to eat but stones and was grateful for them, when he was young. And then Helga comments how much he has mellowed...
  • "Where? Where?": Hägar and his crew once met a panicked Frenchman shouting "Les barbariens viennent!" (The barbarians are coming!) Turning and looking back, the bewildered Hägar commented that he couldn't see any barbarians.
  • Who's on First?: Since Hägar's middle and last names are literally The and Horrible, this was inevitable: "Surname?" "It's Horrible." (with hands over ears) "S-surname?"