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Comic Strip / Little Orphan Annie

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Little Orphan Annie is a comic strip created by Harold Gray in 1924. The original version ran through 1974 (with everything after Gray's death in 1968 done by other authors), then went into reruns for several years; Leonard Starr resurrected it in 1979 with the title simplified to Annie, following the success of the Broadway musical (see below).

In the strip, plucky redheaded orphan Annie is taken in by self-made millionaire Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks, the world's richest bald person. Most of the starting plots were Annie and Daddy dealing with thieves trying to steal the Warbucks millions. Either that, or people who'd try to kidnap Annie and hold her for ransom so they can get their hands on the Warbucks millions.

But since there's only so many ways of doing those kinds of plots, Annie would often be separated from her protector for months at a time, living on the streets again and bringing sunshine into the lives of struggling small-businessmen, honest laborers, and little old ladies with evil bank-managers.

The strip spun off two films: one in 1932 by RKO Pictures, starring Mitzi Green as Annie, and the other in 1938 by Paramount, starring Ann Gillis. Both flopped big time at the box office.

A radio show titled Little Orphan Annie also was spun off from the comic strip. From 1930 to 1943, children were able to join Annie's secret society and encouraged to drink their Ovaltine (even in their Secret Society Decoder Pins!). Shirley Bell did the voice of the popular orphan for most of the show's run, until Janice Gilbert took over the role in the last year or two of the radio shows run.

In 1972, Martin Charnin bought the rights to the comic strip. With Thomas Meehan and Charles Strouse, he created the Broadway musical Annie in 1977. The musical has itself been adapted as a 1982 film, a 1999 TV movie, and a 2014 film.

In 1995, Annie: A Royal Adventure!, a Made-for-TV Movie starring Ashley Johnson, aired on ABC. Also released in 1995 was a relatively little-known animated special entitled Little Orphan Annie's A Very Animated Christmas produced by Gaiam and distributed by Freemantle Media, which is by far the only animated adaptation apart from a 1990s Hanna-Barbera animated series that never took off the drawing board for whatever reason.

The strip ended its 86-year run in June 2010. However, Dick Tracy ended up solving this cliffhanger!

(When quoting the strip, we've changed the punctuation to conform with today's standards. In the original strip, there was no dot after the sentences. Instead, there was a hyphen between sentences. That doesn't look good on the web, so we're using standard punctuation here.)

Provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Catchphrase: Annie had a catchphrase of "Hot alligator!" that was eventually dropped, in favor of the more familiar "Leapin' lizards!"
  • AB Negative: When he's shot, a gambler by the moniker of "Bindle Al" needs a blood tranfusion badly. Unfortunately, his blood group is really rare. Luckily, Jack's got the same blood group despite the odds.
  • Action Girl: Annie can fight as well as any boy. April 7, 1936, she decks the toughest kid in school with one punch.
  • Adjective Noun Fred: Before any anime example.
  • Alliterative Name:
    • Abigail Alden.
    • Trixie Tinkle.
    • Claude Claptrap.
    • George Gamble.
    • Hunterdon H. Halk.
    • A whole bunch of others, too numerous to list.
  • Amoral Attorney: A few.
    • Mr. Busard.
    • J. Preston Slime.
    • Mr. Silverfish.
  • Anti-Villain: In late February, 1936, a robber seeing Annie walking along the road makes her get into his car. The reason he gives is that he wants to give her a ride, but it's really in order to use her as protection. If the police sees him they won't shoot at him if there's a risk of killing an innocent girl. He's impressed by the way Annie won't accept the stolen money he tries to give her, and says that he "could have been that way once, maybe... But it's too late now..." In the end, he tells her to leave him even though he knows that it will vastly increase the risk that the police kills him.
    The robber: I'm not going to take any more chances o' letting you get hurt. I'm not that bad. I'm still man enough to meet my finish alone.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Or as we call it, eonite.
  • Art Evolution: The reason why Annie no longer sports an afro and Sandy no longer looks like Snowy.
  • Artifact Title: She was an orphan at first, but she met her good old "Daddy" Warbucks after less than two months. Time spent as an orphan: Less than sixty strips. Time spent not being an orphan: Thousands of strips. Later strips do drop the Little Orphan prefix, however.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Mr. Am tells Annie about how, millions of years ago, humans had to watch out for pterodactyls that wanted to eat them. And a lot of other things he says are factually inaccurate too, according to both the scientific knowledge of the time when it was published and today. This is justified — the entire point is that Mr. Am was around back then and knows the truth about what it was like, unlike modern science.
  • Artistic License – Law: Warbucks uses a hidden camera to film Phil O. Bluster, Busard and their cronies when they're discussing their evil doings. Then, he presents this as evidence against them during their trial. This wouldn't really work in real life, (mostly because Warbucks would either have to admit that he filmed people secretly and without their permission, or present the movie as faked,) but later Warbucks admits that it won't work as evidence — the real purpose of the footage is to turn people against Bluster & co, which will increase the odds that they'll be convicted. In other words, this is a subversion.
  • Author Tract: The strips are infamous for being a platform where Harold Gray expresses his libertarian Republican viewsnote . This was eventually downplayed in later adaptations and the post-Gray strips, however.
  • Back from the Dead: Warbucks.
  • Bad Boss: Pete at the lunch restaurant where Annie gets a job. At one point, he even refuses to pay her for several days' work, claiming she wasn't worth anything. When Annie hears that, she quits.
  • Benevolent Boss: When Annie's quit her job at Pete's lunch restaurant, she gets it back when Mike, a former policeman, buys the restaurant. He's a much nicer boss than Pete.
  • Big Damn Heroes: "Daddy" Warbucks pulls one when he saves Annie from the Ghost Gang.
  • Big Fancy House: A reliable way of telling how well off "Daddy" Warbucks is at the moment is by if he currently lives in one.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Mrs. Bottle seems nice. She's not.
  • Blackface: Annie dons it to play an African princess in a movie.
  • Blank White Eyes: Annie, constantly and once-famously.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • February 8, 1931, a robber tries to steal the jewelry Annie's wearing. She beats him to a pulp while chewing him out for picking on "a defenseless, helpless little girl."
    • When Mrs. Yelp catches her husband Bert sleeping, she wakes him up and yells at him for not working like he should.
    Bert: Wasn't sleepin'. Just thinkin'. Gotta plan my work, ain't I?
  • Blind Musician: "Uncle" Dan might not be able to see, but he sure can play that violin!
  • Butt-Monkey: Trixie Tinkle is the butt of many a joke.
  • Callback: In the Hollywood arc of 1935, Annie's time working in the circus is mentioned several times, even though Gray usually didn't mention old story arcs once they were over.
  • Canine Companion: Sandy.
  • Can't See a Damn Thing: In May 1931, Warbucks lost his eyesight in a truck accident.
  • Catchphrase: "Leapin' lizards!" is Annie's, and Sandy's is "Arf!"
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The strip got noticeably more serious after a while. Let's put it this way: in the March 4 strip 1925, Annie went to a store with Mrs. Silo. In the March 4 strip 1938, Shanghai Peg throws an an axe straight into a bandit's head. So yeah, things got darker. Other factors in the Cerebus Syndrome is the way characters started getting Killed Off for Real, Warbucks found himself bankrupted in the depression and unable to get a job, and overall the problems Annie faced got both more relatable and serious.
  • Characterization Marches On: Warbucks started out as an uncouth down-to-earth sort, but later he became much more sophisticated (while remaining down-to-earth).
  • The Chessmaster: Annie has some traits of this when she wants to, coming up with some pretty good plans to catch the bad guys.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Subverted with Trixie Tinkle. When Warbucks returns from his and Trixie's boat trip without Trixie, nobody mentions her. But after a while, a rich couple asks Warbucks what happened to her, and he doesn't bother to answer them.
  • Clear My Name: When Edgar Filch frames Annie, she tries to prove that she didn't steal the money that she's accused of taking.
  • Comic-Book Time: Eighty years on, she's still little. And not in a Miniature Senior Citizens way either. To her credit, she seems to have made it into the late teen years. There is actually a canon explanation for this: Annie was born on leap year day, so she only ages one year for every four years that pass. Though that would still make her at least thirty.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Subverted. She gets adopted fairly quickly. Sure, she might have no idea where her biological parents are, but she's no more an orphan than any other adopted child.
  • Cool Old Guy: Jack Boot might not look like a fighter, but he can take out a hired killer that's armed with a knife. Using his bare hands. When he's attacked from behind. And is out of practice.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Not Warbucks, but many of the villains. Mr. Slugg is a good example.
  • Cowardly Lion: The Sheriff from the Rose Chance arc from 1938 is pretty darn yellow, but he won't let that stop him when it really counts.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: When a robber tries to steal Annie's jewelry February 8, 1931, she kicks his keister.
  • Denied Food as Punishment:
    • The first strip has an "excluded from the reward" variation, when all the orphans are getting ice cream except Annie because she didn't make her bed properly, so she gets to eat milk and mush in the kitchen.
    • Mrs. Bottle, who Annie lived with and worked for for a while, sent Annie to her room without dinner once. "You're not worth your salt" is all the explanation she gives.
  • Denser and Wackier: It goes from being completely realistic story-wise to including obviously unrealistic things like Mr. Am.
  • Deserted Island: Annie and Spike Marlin are stuck on one for a number of weeks.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Pretty much every story line ends with a sudden negative twist that prevents Annie from settling down to live happily ever after, and sets up the next arc: an old stand-by is that Annie is reunited with Warbucks after being kidnapped, but Warbucks loses all his money in the process. The next arc would then deal with him getting his fortune back. One of Harold Gray's mandates to his successors was that no storyline should ever end happily.
  • Disguised in Drag: "Blinkey."
  • Dreaming of a White Christmas: As Christmas arrives, so does the snow.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": The first time Annie meets Warbucks, she calls him "Mr. Warbucks."
    Warbucks: Listen here, don't you ever dare to call me Mr. Warbucks again.
    Annie: Yes sir!
    Warbucks lifts Annie up with a smile on his face
    Warbucks: You call me Daddy — see?
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off!: When Warbucks finds out that Edgar Filch framed Annie, he gives the boy a good spanking.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: Averted when Rose Chance and Annie start selling extremely yummy donuts and get a lot of happy customers, none of which are policemen.
  • Downer Ending:
    • The comic strip ends with Annie, having survived being fed to sharks by drug dealers, being taken in by a war criminal on the run from The Hague. He tells her that her "new life" with him will consist of hiding from the authorities in a South American slum. Her beloved "Daddy" Warbucks meanwhile, has had a Heroic BSoD upon learning of Annie's apparent demise with it implied that he truly believes that she's dead. Ultimately subverted with the Fully Absorbed Finale in Dick Tracy, where Tracy reunites her with Warbucks (presumably for good).
    • The eonite arc can't be said to end all that happily either, although it could have been worse.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Whoo boy, where to start?
    • "Daddy" Warbucks had a slightly pointier head, and was an old man with a big nose, once he did appear which didn't happen right away. Personality-wise, he was very uncouth but a really friendly guy.
    • Annie was more innocent and naïve.
    • Sandy wasn't even there to start with. And when he appeared, he looked like Snowy.
    • Annie had a beloved doll named Emily Marie. Later on, she wasn't exactly the kind of girl who'd cherish a doll, though she didn't dislike them exactly.
    • Annie had a second catchphrase: "Hot alligator!" She used it about as often as "Leapin' lizards!"
  • Easy Evangelism: If you're not convinced by Annie after hearing her speak about something, you're not a good person.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Cuthbert Jones doesn't like being named Cuthbert Jones.
  • Enemy Mine: Annie decides that while she might not like the corrupt Phil O. Bluster, she needs to work with him to help "Daddy" Warbucks.
  • Evil Debt Collector: Multiple:
    • Mr. Pinchpenny, who has his sights set on the Futiles.
    • Mr. Gudge, who wants to make Mrs. Alden homeless.
  • Extra! Extra! Read All About It!: Annie says this kind of thing during the period when she works as a newspaper salesperson.
  • Fall Guy: When Z.Z. Hare steals Warbucks' money that was going to be used to pay off Warbucks' debts, people assume that Warbucks had Hare hide the money, even though poor old Warbucks is really the Fall Guy chosen by Hare's partner in crime, who knew Warbucks would be blamed.
  • Fancy Dinner: When she's new at the Warbucks home, Annie gets to attend some, neither knowing proper manners nor caring in the slightest.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: When Annie and an Italian-American immigrant friend of hers named Tony are watching a parade, Tony asks a man next to him to take his hat off when the American flag is passing by. The man in the hat refuses, so Tony hits him in the head. For wearing a hat.
  • Fiery Redhead: Annie's got spirit.
  • Fish out of Water: When Annie was adopted by Mrs. Warbucks, she didn't know how to fit in all that well among the rich.
  • Forced Transformation: As punishment for their evil, Boris Sirob and his two closest men are turned into monkeys by Mr. Am.
  • Fowl-Mouthed Parrot: When Annie, Sandy and Spike Marlin are living on the Deserted Island, they find one.
  • Frame-Up: Edgar Filch makes it seem as if Annie stole ten dollars. He doesn't get away with it.
  • French Maid: Warbucks has one working for him, complete with accent.
  • From Stray to Pet: Annie finds a stray dog who won't leave her alone. She takes him in and names him "Sandy" to avoid him being sent to the pound.
  • Fully Absorbed Finale: The strip's cliffhanger ending was resolved when Annie, Daddy Warbucks and her friends made a guest appearance in Dick Tracy.
  • Funetik Aksent: Angus Flint speaks with one, as well as several policemen and lots of gangsters. In short, it's a very common trope.
  • Genre Shift: At one point the plot is about "Daddy" Warbucks and Annie trying to make ends meet during the depression. At a later point, it's about a million-year-old man who uses a magic box to turn gangsters into monkeys. So... yeah.
  • The Great Depression: It hits "Daddy" Warbucks as hard as anyone.
  • Gold Digger: Trixie Tinkle.
  • Gossipy Hens: Oh yes. Annie encounters a lot of them.
  • Handicapped Badass: When Warbucks is blinded, he's far from helpless. When Shark tries to shoot him, he uses his fists to show that he's got other plans.
  • Hand Signals: Count de Tour and Selby Adlebert Piffleberry use them to communicate without Warbucks' knowledge. Too bad for them that Annie notices.
  • Happily Adopted
  • Harmless Lady Disguise: "Blinkey" turns out to be wearing one.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Multiple:
    • In a September 1937 strip, where Annie tells her foster parents, the Brittlewits, about three criminals who tried to kidnap her and two of her classmates. What makes it extra funny is the way Mr. Brittlewit seems to know what it sounds like to the readers.
    Annie: It was a snatch, all right. They tried to grab us all.
    Mr. Brittlewit: What language! Is that what you learn in school?
    • And here's what Arunah Blade has to say about money:
    Arunah: This money is, shall we say, a charm or fetish — an evil fetish for evil men.
  • Heartwarming Orphan
  • Heel–Face Turn: Mrs. Warbucks pulls one eventually.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In the Sunday page for December 13, 1936, a couple of criminals called "Slugger" Jake and "Bomber" Mike have sent a mail bomb to kill Annie and her friend Ginger. When Annie sees the package she understands that there's a bomb inside. She throws it out the window, almost straight at Jake and Mike.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Warbucks loses his fortune (and goes on to earn a new one) several times. At one point, he's reduced to a blind beggar.
  • Idle Rich: Mrs. Warbucks doesn't need to go to work in the morning. Or ever.
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: All the people who try Rose Chance's donuts agree that they're the best donuts they've ever tasted.
  • Informed Ability: Z.Z. Hare's reliability. He betrays people in the strip several times, but never shows any signs of being reliable. And we're told that he's stood by Warbucks in good times and bad, but we've seen Warbucks be in a lot of trouble over the years, and Hare was nowhere to be seen.
  • Inspirationally Disabled: Averted with Flophouse Bill. Even though he's a little person, Gray never uses him for some sort of "heartwarming lesson" about how we're all basically the same. He's just another character, who happens to be shorter than the average person.
  • Insurance Fraud: Mr. Brittlewit takes out life insurance on Annie so that he can kill her and get the money.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Jack is prepared to give up a chance at true happiness in order to keep Rose Chance happy. When her husband, Ace Chance, shoots a man called "Bindle Al," it looks like Al is going to die from the gunshot wound, which will make Ace a murderer and most likely get him the chair. But since that would be bad for Rose, Jack gives blood to enable a transfusion that saves the life of "Bindle Al." This makes sure that Ace at least doesn't get the chair. And then, he pays for a lawyer and puts up the bond for Ace, so that Ace is released.
  • Jerkass: The comic has featured several, but Miss Asthma stands out. Partly because she's a reoccurring one, which is very uncommon in this comic, but also because she's such a jerk.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ma Green. "Daddy" Warbucks was one at first too, but characterization marched on.
  • Karma Houdini: Mrs. Warbucks takes the glory for foiling the plans of a bunch of burglars who were trying to steal valuables from her home. There's even an article about her in the newspaper. The person who really took care of the burglars is Annie, but she never gets any article about her, and the public never learns that Mrs. Warbucks lied to the newspaper.
  • Keep the Reward: Shanghai Peg doesn't need any reward money for saving the Sheriff's daughter from being hit by a bus.
    Shanghai Peg: Who wants pay for doing what any decent man would try to do?
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Trixie Tinkle does it literally. Poor Sandy.
    • At first, Nelson Brittlewit just seems lazy and rude. It's not until he gets his kick-the-dog moment, or rather put-glass-shards-in-the-dog's-food moment, that we understand how bad he truly is.
  • Kid Detective: She's dabbled in it.
  • Killed Off for Real: Here are the dearly departed:
    • Eli Eon.
    • Ginger.
    • Nelson Brittlewit.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In January 1930, Jack Pepper, the man who Warbucks tells to start a search for Annie, just so happens to be living in the same town as she is.
    Jack Pepper: In a novel it would be thought too impossible. Yet here it is.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The first time that "Daddy" Warbucks and Annie are separated, any modern-day reader knows that they'll be reunited.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Multiple:
    • Warbucks in his tuxedo.
    • Annie in her red dress. Lampshaded in a strip in which Annie, in direct address to the readers, informs them that she wears that dress because she likes red, that she has a lot of dresses, and they're all red.
  • Loyal Animal Companion: Sandy, of course.
  • Loophole Abuse: George Gamble, who's working on a movie in Hollywood in which Annie plays a native princess (using the pseudonym "Inkey"), decides to make Annie the star of the movie instead of the intended star, Tootsie Snoots. Tootsie's parents complain that Tootsie's name is in smaller letters than "Inkey's", and that they'll sue Gamble for what he's done.
    Gamble: Keep your shirt on, little man. Read your contract again. Your lawyer wrote it. He knows what's in it. Tootsie was paid what the contract calls for. She appeared in the picture in the part you insisted she play. As to billing — her name is in exactly the size letters the contract calls for, on the screen and out front. If you don't believe me, go and measure 'em. There's nothing in your contract that says "Inkey" can't be in bigger letters, or any clause that can keep a kid with real ability from being a bigger star than Tootsie. Think that over.
  • Manipulative Bastard: When Warbucks offers the Bleeks a Big Fancy House where they can raise Annie, they reply that something humbler would be much more fitting. Warbucks takes this as a sign that they're not just trying to take his money by claiming to be Annie's parents, which is of course exactly how they wanted him to react.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • When Punjab uses his amazing skills to get rid of J. Gordon Slugg, you can't be sure about whether he did it through supernatural means.
    • Are there really ghosts in Arunah Blade's house or just gusts of wind?
  • Meaningful Name: There are lots of them. Here are a few examples:
    • Mr. Busard, that vulture of a lawyer.
    • "Daddy" Warbucks, who's got bucks earned in the war.
    • Mr. Futile, who considers effort pointless since you're sure to fail anyway.
    • The stingy Mr. Pinchpenny.
    • Miss Treat, who does that to all the children in the reformatory where she works.
    • Chizzler, who cheats Annie and Dan of their earnings.
    • Mr. Am has no other name than the word "Am." If you've read The Bible, you'll know of an immortal guy whose name is something along those lines.
  • Miles Gloriosus: When Annie scares off a burglar from the Warbucks home, Mrs. Warbucks makes sure that she, and not Annie, gets all the glory.
  • Million to One Chance: When Warbucks considers getting surgery to regain his lost eyesight, Doc Lens tells him that the odds that the surgery will fail are a hundred to one, and that if it fails Warbucks won't even survive. Warbucks decides to go through with it anyway. Guess if it works. Go on, guess.
  • Morally Bankrupt Banker: Old John Blunder.
  • Mugging the Monster: February 8, 1931, a robber tries to steal the jewelry Annie's wearing. She beats him up.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Mr. Trance, who ruins what would have been Annie's big movie and break-through as an actress, is based on David O. Selznick, a director who Gray felt ruined the RKO Little Orphan Annie movie. And to be fair, it was Selznick who slashed the movie's budget.
    • Claude Claptrap, the orator and rabble-rouser from the eonite arc, was based on George Norris, a senator who often worked with the Roosevelt administration.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Jack Chance picks up a hitchhiker and takes him to Abigail Alden's house to treat him to some coffee and doughnuts. Turns out, the hitchhiker in question is Rose Chance's long-lost husband. In other words, Jack just reunited his beloved Rose with his rival for her affections.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Warbucks works hard for his money.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Edgar Filch falls in love with Annie, but she's not interested. He doesn't take it well.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Annie tries to tell Mrs. Warbucks something, but is shushed so that Mrs. Warbucks can continue lecturing Annie about her behavior. Once she's done, she lets Annie talk, just in time for Annie to inform her that her dress has caught fire.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Annie's way of keeping Mr. Bleek from the fact that she knows that he's the leader of the Ghost Gang.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Eli Eon isn't mentally ill, but he doesn't mind it if people assume that he is.
  • Officer O'Hara: Annie gets to know several Irish-American policemen.
  • Omniglot: Mr. Am.
    Annie: W-w-where does he come from? What language does he speak?
    Warbucks: Hm-m... Am seems to come from all countries, and he speaks all languages and dialects, perfectly.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. There's lots of people named Jack.
  • One-Word Title: Not initially, but the comic's Protagonist Title was eventually shortened to "Annie", as the "Little Orphan" bit was making it an Artifact Title.
  • Only One Name: Multiple:
    • Punjab.
    • Sandy.
    • Annie herself.
    Annie: You see I haven't any other name cause I'm an orphan.
  • Orphanage of Fear: It's where Annie lives in the early days of the strip.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: The aforementioned scenes of Annie separated from "Daddy" Warbucks, living on the streets.
  • Parental Abandonment: Multiple:
    • Zig-zagged with Annie. She's an orphan. Except now she's adopted. Except now "Daddy" Warbucks is dead. Except he isn't. And so on.
    • Subverted with little Pat.
  • The Pollyanna: Averted with Annie, who's generally positive but still feels down when things go badly.
  • Put on a Bus: Multiple:
    • Warbucks, very frequently. Always brought back.
    • When Annie first went to live with "Daddy" Warbucks, he had a wife, but after a while she was in a boat accident with him. Having woken up alone after the accident he went to search for her, leaving Annie behind, and when he returned to the strip he spent all his energy on finding Annie, and his wife was never mentioned again.
    • Trixie Tinkle.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Within a week of Gray's wife's death, Warbucks was left by his wife.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Mr. Am is millions of years old, but looks like a normal senior citizen, though bigger than most.
  • Remember the New Guy?: After several years with many trials and tribulations for Annie and "Daddy" Warbucks, we're introduced to Z.Z. Hare, who apparently has always stood by Warbucks, in good times and hard. Even though Warbucks had been in a lot of trouble several times by then, and Hare hadn't been around.
  • Resentful Guardian: Mrs. Crawfish doesn't like having to raise little Ellen, her stepdaughter.
  • Rich Bitch: Mrs. Warbucks, before her Heel–Face Turn.
  • The Runaway: In November 1925, Annie hears Mrs. Warbucks tell "Daddy" that she'll leave him if he keeps Annie, so Annie runs away from home to save his marriage.
  • Scary Black Man: Warbucks' bodyguard, Punjab.
  • Self-Made Man: Warbucks got where he is thanks to hard work.
  • Smug Snake: Mr. Brittlewit.
  • Spin-Off: Ma Green got her own comic strip after a while.
  • Socialite:
    • Mrs. Warbucks is one; it's her most distinguishing characteristic.
    • Trixie Tinkle certainly wants to be one.
  • Soap Opera Disease: On the Deserted Island, Annie comes down with a bad case.
  • Spoiled Brat:
    • Selby Adlebert Piffleberry.
    • Movie star Tootsie Snoots.
  • Street Musician: Annie and "Uncle" Dan work as this for a while in the summer of 1933.
  • Sword Cane: Arunah Blade's cane contains a hidden rapier that's tipped with poison.
  • Take That!: Gray was fond of them.
    • One particularly interesting case is the several times that people who are cheating "Daddy" Warbucks sing "Happy Days Are Here Again," which was FDR's signature song from the 1932 election. It was a subtle jab at the New Deal. Gray absolutely hated the New Deal. Take note, reader: good people never sing that song in Little Orphan Annie. When we hear it, it's always somebody evil who's singing.
    • In one strip, Annie's reading a letter to the editor in a newspaper. It's a complaint about how comic strips should stick to being funny. (There had been real-life complaints about how Little Oprhan Annie was too serious.) Annie comments that there's nothing wrong with a comic that doesn't just try to deliver another stale gag every day.
  • Tempting Fate: One strip begins by showing us a man on a liner who complains that he's bored and that there's "no slightest spot of excitement." Then, the head of a sea serpent appears from out of the water. (It's actually Mr. Am's submarine, but the man doesn't know that.)
  • This Is Reality: When Annie is held prisoner by a bunch of gangsters, here's what she says:
    Annie: One thing I notice in all these stories. When th' hero is in a tight spot he never gives an inch. He knows justice is going to triumph, just in th' nick o' time... Or at least th' author knows it. It's a cinch for these story book heroes to be brave and bold... But there's no author goin' to rescue me at the last second. This is no fairy tale. This is th' real McCoy.
  • Time Abyss: Mr. Am is very old.
  • True Meaning of Christmas: To Annie and her "Daddy", in 1930, it was to give a whole lot of Christmas presents to a whole lot of poor people.
  • Uncle Pennybags: Warbucks. Rich enough for Forbes to once list him as the wealthiest man in fiction.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: A welcome economic break for "Uncle" Dan.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Miss Gilt makes Annie help her play a joke on a friend. Except what Annie's actually helping her to do is steal a 100,000 dollar necklace.
  • Villainous Crush: Jerkass Edgar Filch likes Annie.
    Edgar: She's different from the rubes in this town. She's class. I can pick 'em. Yeah. She doesn't know it yet, but she's going to be my girl.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Hunterdon Halk is a pretty nasty sort, but almost all the people in the town of Butternut, where he lives, consider him to be not only the cat's pajamas but also the bee's knees.
  • Wall of Text: Early strips had word balloons crammed full of dialogue, but pretty quickly that stopped.
  • Wealth's in a Name: Oliver Warbucks, self-made millionaire.
  • Wealthy Ever After
  • What Happened To Emily Marie?: Duing a 1926 storyline where Annie was staying with the Silos, Annie's doll Emily Marie stops appearing altogether for no real reason.
  • Wham Episode: The January 17 1934 strip.
  • Wham Line: "Is it kidnaping for a man and wife to speak to their own daughter? from January 17, 1934.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Mrs. Crawfish is a nasty sort who's stuck with raising her stepdaughter Ellen on her own, and makes no secret of the fact that she doesn't like the girl.
    Annie: I've known step-mothers that were swell. It's not just 'cause she's a step-mother makes her like that. She'd be a pain-in-th'-neck no matter what she was.
    • Mrs. Warbucks was originally this to Annie.
  • Writer on Board: Gray had strong right-wing political and economic opinions that were frequently visible in the strip. To the point where Annie is happy to stay out of the government-sponsored orphanages and suffer on the streets, so she doesn't "sponge off taxpayer money". Somewhat ironically, the musical is something of a Homage to the New Deal-as-period-set-dressing.
  • Yellow Peril: Averted with Wun Wey, who's a good friend of Warbucks.
  • You Just Told Me: Annie wants to find out if Jack Boot is the one who gave the Jones family the money they needed to keep their farm. This is how she does it:
    Annie: It sure was nice of you, "Uncle" Jack, helping the Joneses save their farm.
    "Uncle" Jack: Eh? Hm-m... Well, they're deserving people. They don't seem to figure the world owes them anything they don't work for.
    Annie: Then you did do it. I knew it! I knew it!