The Wizard of Id is a daily newspaper comic strip created by American cartoonists Johnny Hart (B.C.) and Brant Parker. Launched in 1964, the strip follows the antics of a large cast of characters in a shabby medieval kingdom called "Id". From time to time, the King refers to his subjects as "Idiots". (The title is a play on The Wizard of Oz, combined with the Freudian psychological term Id, which represents the instinctive and primal part of the human psyche.)
The Wizard of Id deals with the goings-on of the run-down and oppressed mythical kingdom of Id. It follows people from all corners of the kingdom, but concentrates on the court of a tyrannical dwarfish monarch known only as "the King". The cast is large for a daily cartoon strip, and there are recurring jokes for a variety of continuing characters and for the kingdom itself.
While it's set a thousand years ago, the strip's humor occasionally satirizes modern American culture, and deliberate anachronisms are rampant. Technology changes to suit whatever a gag requires; a battle with spears and arrows might be followed by a peasant using an ATM. The general trend is that even though the personalities of the characters are well known, their surroundings will morph to allow a good joke. For instance, in some strips the King is curiously elected to his monarchial position (albeit through rigged ballots), no thanks to the Duke suggesting while drunk the first time it happened that they hold an election which became an annual event. The aspects that stay the same, however, are that Id is in the middle of nowhere, home to a large castle surrounded by a moat. The King and his subjects run an inept army perpetually at war with "the Huns", while the unhappy, overtaxed peasants (or Idiots) make little money as farmers and stablehands to keep modest lifestyles.
The strip contains examples of:
- The Alcoholic: Bung, the court jester, is almost perpetually drunk, although that apparently doesn't (usually) stop him doing his job competently. In one strip, the King describes the most remarkable part of Bung's act as, "he sobered up."
- Anachronism Stew: Many things pop up from time to time. For instance: At one point the Wizard invents a Television set.
- Animated Adaptation: In The '70s, Abe Levitow and Chuck Jones produced a five-minute long animated short with the Wizard of Id characters. Voices were done by Bob Holt, Don Messick and Paul Winchell. Watch it on Youtube.
- Asian Buck Teeth: One strip features a stereotypical Asian person (in order to do a Japanese Ranguage joke); he has the big teeth.
- Aside Glance: In seemingly every single strip.
- Bad News in a Good Way: The King, aware that his useless knight Sir Rodney is bringing news of his defeat, reminds him of the old Roman custom in which the bearer of bad tidings was put to death. A sweating Rodney replies with the 'joyous' news that one of the King's more awful provinces with its rebellious peasants, stinking swamps (etc, etc) has been given to the Huns to worry about.
- Balcony Speech: The King normally addresses his subjects from his balcony.
- Bearer of Bad News: See Bad News in a Good Way
- Berserk Button: Cursing the Kingnote or drawing attention to the fact that he is comically short are surefire ways to earn a stint in his dungeon, or worse.
- Bewitched Amphibians: Several different variations over the years, including one that goes something like this:Frog: Alas! A wicked witch has turned me into a frog!
Passerby: You used to be a prince?
Frog: No, a tadpole.
- Blowing Smoke Rings: One strip had the Turnkey blowing smoke rings. When the Spook compliments him on his, he comments that he had an uncle who could triangles and squares, but that his face exploded trying to do a parallelogram.
- Book Safe: The lawyer uses his thick lawbooks to store drink.
- Break Out the Museum Piece: A group of the King's soldiers dashes into an old war museum.Guards: We need that catapult over there!Curator: More budget cuts?
- Chain Letter
- Deadpan Snarker: Rodney has become one in recent years, accompanied by an increase in intelligence (but still not much luck in battle).
- Disproportionate Retribution: The King is known to throw people into dungeon (or even execute them) for relatively minor crimes, but it's especially the case whenever you call him a fink, or that he's short (see Berserk Button above).
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The King (the back of one of the books calls him King Id), the Wizard, the Duke, Turnkey, Lackey, and many others.
- Exact Words: This example:Man: I want a potion that will add forty years to my life!Wizard: Try this.(Drinks it - flash - man is now old and bent)Old Man: ...Let me rephrase that.
Rodney: Give me a potion that will make me hit the bull's eye.Wizard: Here. [Gives potion][Rodney Drinks potion and proceeds to take his shot][BAM][Cut to Rodney now impaled halfway through the target].
- And another instance where Sir Rodney is participating in an archery tournament.
- Frankenstein's Monster: Abra Cadaver
- Gag Nose: Although almost every male character in the strip (except for the Wizard, the King, and the Duke) is drawn with an absurdly large nose, only Rodney's is typically commented on in-universe.
- Go Ye Heroes, Go and Die
- Greasy Spoon
- Happy Harlequin Hat: Bung always wears one.
- Hot Guy, Ugly Wife: The Wizard and Blanch; Subverted since the Wizard who happens to be the kingdom's resident old, bearded Mad Scientist of a wizard that brews magic potions isn't exactly handsome himself.
- I Ate WHAT?!: One strip had the King touring the kitchens. He tastes something in a pot, spits out and yells "You call that soup?!". One of the chefs replies "No, I call it dishwater".
- Jail Bake
- Japanese Ranguage: A stereotypical Asian gets tossed into the prison, and strikes up a conversation with perennial inmate Spook. The Asian remarks that he's hungry, and would "rike big dish of flied lice". Spook tells him the food's bad enough already, don't go giving them ideas...
- Just Like Robin Hood: Robbing Hood carries this to absurdity. The ex-poor he gives to can expect him to come back and rob THEM now that they are rich.
- Longer-Than-Life Sentence: The Spook is serving one, although the exact details vary depending on what is needed for the joke.
- In a story arc from the early years, when Spook asked Turnkey the jailer why he was in the dungeon, Turnkey mentions that the Spook insulted the King when he called him a "two-bit, four-flushing, dirty, rotten, low down, indiscriminate clod."
- Lovable Coward: Sir Rodney
- Meaningful Name: Bung, the almost perpetually drunk court jester, is named for a wine cask's stopper.
- Mister Big: The King is comically short, but is also a ruthless tyrant whose word is law.
- The Napoleon: The King is comically short, and is very sensitive about his height. Casting real or perceived aspersions on it is one of the most efficient ways to draw his potentially deadly wrath.
- Ninja Prop
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Larsen E. Pettifogger is a caricature of W.C. Fields, with the character's name derived from the Larsen E. Whipsnade character from You Can't Cheat an Honest Man.
- Overly Long Name: Spook's full name is Wellington J. Farnsworth Spookingdorf the Third.
- Parody Magic Spell: The Wizard's signature all-purpose spell is "Frammin' on the jim-jam, frippin' at the krotz!" Cartoonists Parker and Hart derived this from the Chris Sharp jazz instrumental, "Frimmin' on the Jim-Jam."
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: An old strip had the King of Id threatening to imprison anyone caught telling ethnic jokes. When Rodney quips, "We don't have a Chinaman's chance of making that stick," the next panel shows Rodney in the dungeon.
- Prison Escape Artist: The Spook is always escaping, but he's always caught again soon afterwards, usually because his plan backfired on him.
- Real Joke Name: The former Trope Namer with the unfortunately named Mulligan the Headsman.
- Road Apples: The primary duty of the stablehands is a Running Gag.
- Saint-Bernard Rescue
- Shark Pool: The moat around the castle filled with Stock Ness Monsters.
- Shout-Out: Trouble with bandits? Cast Summon Bigger Fish.
- Smithical Marriage: Subverted. The couple are married and named Smith, and the wife suggests using a different name because they always get sniggered at.
- Splitting the Arrow: In one strip, Sir Rodney puts an arrow in the bulls-eye during a tournament. The King asks him if he can do it again. Rodney responds by splitting the arrow. When the King congratulates him, Rodney mutters that he had been aiming at the apple in the King's hand.
- Stealth Pun: A visitor to the untrustworthy King's castle notices that the King's flag consists of a pair of black X's on a white background. The visitor asks for the name of this emblem. The king moves on to another pun before it mentioned the king is represented by Double Crosses.
- Stock Ness Monster: The moat monsters.
- Suicide Dare: Played for Laughs. The Friar comes across a crowd of people chanting, "Jump! Jump! Jump!" at a suicidal man on a ledge.Friar: What's the matter with you people? Can't you see this poor man needs help?
Crowd: Push him! Push him! Push him!
- Time for Plan B: The King asks his knight Rodney why the battle plan is called Plan B instead of Plan A. Rodney replies that they always end up having to go to Plan B anyway.
- Trashcan Bonfire: In the comic for September 10th, 2011.
- Tunnel King: The Spook. He can tunnel out of prison relatively easy, he just can't keep from getting caught again
- Unsound Effect
- Unwilling Suspension: Usually a prisoner ends up hanging from his wrist chains.
- Vote Early, Vote Often