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Literature / Captain Underpants

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That's a pretty tiny building.
Faster than a speeding waistband! More powerful than boxer shorts! Able to leap tall buildings without getting a wedgie!

A series of EPIC NOVELS written by Dav Pilkey.

George Beard and Harold Hutchins are two mischievous kids at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, who enjoy pulling off practical jokes and making comic books to brighten the lives of their fellow students. One day, their evil principal, Mr. Benny Krupp, manages to record a video of them pulling off a series of pranks that causes their football team to forfeit a game, and blackmails the boys by threatening to show the video to the football team unless they give up their mischief-making ways and do all sorts of hard labor.

Not wanting to go through with this, George and Harold order a hypnotic ring and use it to hypnotize Mr. Krupp into giving them the tape. Then, for laughs, they hypnotize him into believing he is their comic book creation, Captain Underpants. But as a result of their inability to handle the ring properly (and pouring water over his head, which they weren't supposed to do), Mr. Krupp now transforms into Captain Underpants whenever he hears the sound of fingers snapping, and only turns back with water poured onto his head. George and Harold now have the responsibility to keep Mr. Krupp/Captain Underpants in-line as any snap sends him off performing very dangerous and destructive "superheroics".

Initially, Mr. Krupp as Captain Underpants was powerless (aside from being a mean shot with underwear), as opposed to his comic incarnation, who was a classic Flying Brick. However, as of the third book, he ends up gaining legitimate superpowers, making George and Harold's job of watching over him even harder.

There are also three Spin-Off titles: the Super Diaper Baby series, The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future, and the Dog Man series. These books are presented as graphic novels written by George and Harold, with Super Diaper Baby featuring a Crossover with their Captain Underpants comic.

The books are:

  1. The Adventures of Captain Underpants (1997)
  2. Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets (1999)
  3. Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds) (1999)
  4. Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants (2000)
  5. Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman (2001)
  6. Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 1: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets (2003)
  7. Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 2: The Revenge of the Ridiculous Robo-Boogers (2003)
  8. Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People (2006)
  9. Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers (2012)
  10. Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers (2013)
  11. Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo-Toilet 2000 (2014)
  12. Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot (2015)

DreamWorks Animation produced an animated film based on the book series titled Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, which released in 2017. There's also an animated series based on both the books and the film, The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants, on Netflix.

Dog Man, Super Diaper Baby, Ook and Gluk have their own pages.

The main Captain Underpants books contain examples of:

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  • The Ace: George is established as this in The Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers. In the span of five minutes, he outwits an auto mechanic who mocks a bullying victim, then intimidates the bullies into submission using only a tie — on his first day of kindergarten. He later masterminds the plan to humiliate and scare Kipper Krupp and his gang into reforming, and is only slightly fazed when he has to adapt his plans due to some lucky guesswork from Kipper.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal:
    • When listing scientific institutions Pippy Poopypants has been laughed out of, the narration states he was "giggled out of Georgetown, howled out of Harvard, yuk-yukked out of Yale, snickered out of Stanford, and chuckled out of Chattanooga State Technical Community College."
    • And the fifth book:
      The creamy candied carrots clobbered the kindergarteners. The fatty fried fish fritters flipped onto the first graders. The sweet-n-sour spaghetti squash splattered the second graders. Three thousand thawing thimbleberries thudded the third graders. Five hundred frosted fudgy fruitcakes flogged the fourth graders. And fifty-five fistfuls of fancy French-fried frankfurters flattened the fifth graders.
  • Adults Are Useless: Mr. Krupp is usually competent as a principal when it comes to punishing George and Harold, but allows his nephew Kipper Krupp and his friends to bully and terrorize kindergartners.
  • Advanced Tech 2000: Many machines in this series are named like this, such as the Turbo Toilet 2000, the Shrinky-Pig 2000, and the Goosy-Grow 4000.
  • Aerith and Bob: The three aliens in the third book: Zork, Klax, and Jennifer. Also, in the sixth and seventh books, Carl, Trixie, and Frankenbooger.
  • Affectionate Parody: Captain Underpants is very much one of Superman - he is first described in the same manner of Superman's own "More powerful than a locomotive..." way. His costume is a takeoff of Superman's spandex and Badass Cape. Within his comics inside the universe, he shares Superman's Flying Brick powers. Then, outside the comics, he actually gets the powers. For a bonus, he's also one of Batman - inside his comics, he has a 'waistband utility belt' which is just as Crazy-Prepared as Batman's. He even once says "To the underwear cave!", though he actually lacks such a place. As a bonus, his in-comic origin story is identical to Superman's—doomed planet, only survivor, adopted by rural folk, father appearing in a dream sequence, et cetera.
  • Afro Asskicker: Five-year-old George had an afro, and he beat up some older bullies with his necktie.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: The books are set in Piqua, Ohio, once known as the Underwear Capital of the World.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Exaggerated and parodied. In a comic they make about Melvin in the sixth book, he becomes mayor and passes countless ridiculous laws, jailing people for things like "stopping to smell the roses" and "reading signs" (that the rules are written on).
  • Alliterative Name: Harold Hutchins.
  • Alliterative List: Always the three R's: Reading, (w)Riting, and Rithmetic. When you're Ms. Ribble, however, there's also the three S's—"Sit down, Shut your pie holes, and Stop driving me crazy!"
  • Alliterative Title: Starting with the fourth book, everything after the "Captain Underpants and the..." part tries to cram each word into starting with the same letter as much as possible.
  • Alternate Personality Punishment: In Book 7, Melvin and Mr. Krupp go through a "Freaky Friday" Flip, which results in Krupp being rude to Miss Anthrope and causing trouble as Captain Underpants, while in Melvin's body. When Melvin gets back into his own body, an angry mob arrives to chase after him, believing him to be responsible for the actions done by his flipped version.
  • Ambulance Cut: In Book 6, in an attempt to complete Ms. Ribble's assignment, Stephanie Yarkoff and Jessica Gordon attempt to demonstrate how to cook lasagna using a toaster. The next scene cuts to firemen leaving the school.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The final fate of the original incarnations of George and Harold is them traveling through space and time in an attempt to rescue Crackers and Sulu.
  • Animesque: Old Harold's art style develops into this, as shown by the Dog Man graphic novel.
  • An Alien Named "Bob": In the third book, the three aliens that come to Earth and disguise themselves as cafeteria ladies are named Zorx, Klax, and Jennifer.
  • Answer Cut: After his Bionic Booger Boy transformation, it's said that Melvin now has his own personal drinking fountain, and the explanation as to why is simply the narrator asking "would you use a drinking fountain after a Bionic Booger Boy had globbered all over it?" preceded by an illustration of the fountain dripping from top to bottom with snot.
    Narrator: I didn't think so.
  • Anti-Climax: Parodied Once an Episode. Near the end, there's some climactic event that gets its own chapter (the Robo-Plunger rebuilding the school, George and Harold attempting a Heel–Face Brainwashing on Ms. Ribble, Tippy Tinkletrousers getting stepped on by Zombie Nerd Harold, etc.). The chapter in question, or the one immediately following, is always called "To Make a Long Story Short" and simply says something like "they did" or "it worked".
  • Apathetic Pet: In "Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers", Kipper and his goons read a comic book made by younger George and Harold. In the comic, several bullies get cursed by Wedgie Magee's haunted pants. One of them comments that his armpits are burning, and his cat dryly comments that he's been haunted. The pants appear just then and eat the boy alive, and his cat just shrugs it off and goes to sleep.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • In the fifth book when Wedgie Woman starts giving the officers that attempt to stop her wedgies:
      Police Officer: Call the Army, call the Marines, call a HAIRSTYLIST!!!
    • In book 6, Melvin's new killer robot has the power to punch through cinder blocks, crush steel in its vice-like grasp, plow mercilessly through poorly written run-on sentences, and slice bagels.
  • Art Evolution: In the first three books, the illustrations have a very flat and much cruder look. However, by the end of the third book, the art started to look noticeably crisper and more three-dimensional.
  • Artifact Title: Captain Underpants, the Title Character, gets much less focus in the later installments.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Sulu and Crackers are able to produce offspring, even though Crackers is a pterosaur and Sulu is a mammal. This is handwaved by saying that Sulu being part bionic robot may have affected his DNA. Also, in George's own words about this situation, there's really no need to think too hard about these books, because "whaddya think this is, Shakespeare?"
  • Artistic License – Space:
    • The Incredible Robo-Plunger and the toilets he defeated are sent to Uranus, and they land on its surface... which is impossible, as Uranus is a gaseous planet. It doesn't have a surface.
    • The astronauts also stick their bare heads out the window of the spaceship, showing no ill effects or issues talking and breathing upon being exposed to outer space.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • For the first four books, Ms. Ribble was just George and Harold's teacher and had no role besides that, but in book 5 she was the main villain.
    • Melvin. His debut in book 2 was a relatively minor role, and all his appearances in books 3-5 were (mainly nonspeaking) background cameos. However, his focus was massively upgraded in books 6 and 7, with the conflict predominantly revolving around him.
  • Ass Shove: In book 10, Tippy Tinkletrousers' Robo-Trousers are equipped with a thermonuclear bomb, which is activated by having a robotic tentacle pull it out through the nether regions.
  • Atrocious Alias: Professor Poopypants' nation has this as their Hat. His first appearance as a villain has him attempting to give everyone else stupid names after being sick of being laughed at for his.
  • Author Avatar: George and Harold are basically Dav Pilkey split into two kids: Dav also had many cruel teachers, who were always punishing him for acting outnote  and drawing "silly books."
  • Author's Saving Throw: In-universe - Captain Underpants' origin story is made to make him invulnerable to starching.
  • Author Tract:
    • In book 8 and onwards, most books had a segment at the start where the narration would voice what were clearly the author's opinions about things such as the schooling system and society. Most of them had little to no connection to the rest of the book.
    • In book 11, after George and Harold realize that Crackers and Sulu mated together, Harold wonders how that's possible, because different species can't interbreed. George then explicitly tells Harold there's no need to think too deeply about the logic behind these stories and that these books aren't exactly Shakespeare, with his response clearly being Pilkey's response to certain criticism.
  • Bad Future: As Tippy Tinkertrousers appeared before the already-traumatized Kipper and his gang with a giant pair of robotic pants, he inadvertently causes them to go insane from the terror, and Mr. Krupp was blamed for his crime. Mr. Krupp was then fired from being the principal of Jerome Horwitz Elementary School. As a result, Mr. Krupp didn't become Captain Underpants, and the first three villains from the first three novels succeeded in accomplishing their goals. This means that the moon was blown up, and there are two separate invasions of the earth- one by talking, flesh-eating toilets, and the other by giant zombies under the control of aliens. It's not pretty.
    • In the tenth book, George and Harold decide to swear off pranks and comic books and become model students after witnessing all of the chaos brought about by their time traveling. They meet themselves thirty years in the future, having become jerkass teachers themselves and working for an elderly Mr. Krupp. However, this becomes subverted when the young George and Harold finally defeat Slightly Younger Tippy Tinkletrousers by summoning the elderly Captain Underpants to assist his younger time-shifted self in the fight.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When George and Harold go to the future and their future selves don't remember the event happening in their pasts, the characters chalk it up to bad writing. Given that this series lives and breathes on Better than a Bare Bulb, this would probably be true in any other book. However, it's actually foreshadowing for the fact that the pair from the future is actually the Yesterday Pair from the present, and that George and Harold Prime will continue to adventure through time to try and save Crackers and Sulu.
  • Bait-and-Switch Compassion: A Running Gag in the comics George and Harold make. When a disaster strikes that prompts the call for the titular superhero, oftentimes a bystander will recount that the monster destroyed some inanimate objects and brought harm to the gym teacher. Cue the "Oh no! Not the [inanimate objects]!"
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: When Ms. Ribble finally admits that she doesn't want to marry Mr. Krupp in book 5, she tells Mr. Krupp that he's a "mean, cruel, and vicious man"...and that she respects that, and that that fact has nothing to do with why she doesn't want to marry him.
  • Bankruptcy Barrel: In the first book, Captain Underpants defeats Dr. Diaper by flinging a pair of underwear at him, which turns out to be the pair he was currently wearing. The accompanying illustration shows Captain Underpants wearing a barrel now that he has no underwear on.
  • Better than a Bare Bulb: George and Harold frequently lampshade whatever Contrived Coincidence or convoluted plot they're currently involved with.
  • Big Bad: Melvin Sneedly is the Disc-One Final Boss and everyone thinks he is the main antagonist of the book series. But he turns out to be The Dragon to the series' true main antagonist, Tippy Tinkertrousers (formerly Professor Poopypants).
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Each book has its main antagonist. The third book in particular has the aliens and the Dandelion of Doom, who work independently of each other.
  • Bilingual Bonus: While Wedgie Woman is announcing her new regime, her hair-tentacle-hands are using ASL to spell out "WEDGIE POWER".
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Grand Finale Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot ends with Mr. Meaner (AKA Sir Stinks-A-Lot) defeated, the day being saved, and Captain Underpants permanently reverting into Mr. Krupp, while Yesterday George and Yesterday Harold decide to retire the Captain Underpants comics (meaning that the world will likely forget him). However, the Yesterday pair end up making a Dog Man comic instead and are implied to be the ones who grow up to be the ones who get married. This means that Yesterday George and Harold get to live relatively normal lives while the original pair continue to go on awesome new adventures (first trying to rescue Crackers and Sulu), fulfilling both their callings at the same time.
  • Bizarro Universe: George and Harold end up in one in Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People. The good news is that the entire school staff are nice to students and the "villains" are nice guys performing community service. The bad news is that George and Harold are evil—and then there's Captain Blunderpants.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Every single character is drawn with these.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: In the 12th book's introductory comic book, George at first wrote that they stole Melvin's time machine, but then he crosses it out and writes "borrowed".
  • Blatant Lies: In book 7, Melvin orders George and Harold to make a comic where he has a cool name and doesn't look stupid. George and Harold do the exact opposite of this, and then try to claim they thought Melvin told them to give him a stupid name and to not make him look cool, and then say that it was an "honest mistake."
  • Body Horror: Melvin in book 6. He tries to combine himself with a robot, but sneezes at the last second, combing himself with the robot and boogers. This transforms his body into a disgusting mass of snot and robotic parts, with the narrator going into such extensive detail of how nauseating he looks that George has to yell at him to stop.
  • Bones Do Not Belong There: In the end of the seventh book and the beginning of the eighth, George and Harold are shown as skeletons due to the X-rays produced by them using the Purple Porta-Potty time machine without letting it cool down. Their skulls have each boy's characteristic hairstyle, but as bone: Harold's unruly poof and George's super-straight flat-top. Strangely enough, they also both have shirts, but no pants.
  • Book Ends: The first book begins with George and Harold happily running towards their treehouse to make new comics of Captain Underpants, while the twelfth and final book concludes with Yesterday Harold and George already inside the treehouse to make comics of Dog Man.
  • Borrowed Without Permission: In the recap from "Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000", George and Harold "borrowed" a time machine from Melvin Sneedly without his permission. They used it to go back in time to take their exam, in which they missed.
  • Brains Evil, Brawn Good: Captain Underpants vs Professor Poopypants and Wedgie Woman.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: All the time.
    • "A huge cloud of mist filled the air, covering everything in sight, and making these two pages incredibly easy to draw."
  • Breakout Character: Professor Pippy P. Poopypants, later renamed to Tippy Tinkletrousers. Originally just the Villain of the Week in Book 4, he later became the main villain of both Books 9 & 10, establishing himself as the franchise's most recurring villain. (Not to mention being the main antagonist of the first movie)
  • Brick Joke: Several examples:
    • In one of the later books, George and Harold tell everyone how to make a squishy prank, which is to put ketchup packets under a toilet seat. Halfway through the book, Melvin sits on a toilet and gets ketchup on his legs.
    • Book 3 has the narrator mention that if you don't want to see the "incredibly graphic violence" in a Flip-o-Rama chapter, you should run to the shoe store and order a cheeseburger. Later in the book, Harold asks Captain Underpants where he was when they needed him and he replies, "I was at the shoe store ordering a cheeseburger."
    • In book 6, Harold and George change the sign in the bathroom to read "Please wash your hands in the toilet." Melvin Sneedly sees this and follows it. Later in the book, Melvin returns to the bathroom, and it's mentioned that he once again washed his hands in the toilet.
    • In book9, during the Whole Episode Flashback, Mr. Krupp asks why none of the kindergarteners are having lunch. The real reason is that all their lunch money was stolen, but Harold lies and tells him that it's because they're on diets. Later, George and Harold order pizza for the kindergarteners, but Mr. Krupp catches the delivery man and tells him the kindergarteners can't have it because "those kids are on diets."
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: George and Harold have lots and lots of potential and are very smart boys, but are horribly lazy and tend to use their potential in the form of pranks and comic books rather than in their schoolwork.
  • Brown Note: Parodied in Book 4, where George and Harold's comic is about Professor Poopypants turning an army of gerbils evil by making them listen to Cher.
  • Buffy Speak: The three aliens in book 3 are consistently called "the evil alien space guys."
  • The Bully/Jerk Jock: Mr. Krupp's nephew, Kipper Krupp, and his gang in book nine. They're members of the school wrestling team and extort kindergarteners for lunch money because they can.
  • Bungled Hypnotism:
    • The premise of the series revolves around protagonists George Beard and Harold Hutchins hypnotizing their Dean Bitterman principal to be nicer. The whole issue about him believing he's a superhero every time someone snaps their fingers was a very unwanted side-effect.
    • The fifth book reveals the Hypno Ring has the unintended effect on women of compelling them to do the opposite of what their hypnosis orders. Thus George and Harold's attempt to hypnotize their teacher into being nicer causes her to turn into a monstrous supervillain. In the end, when they hypnotize her again, they have to reword all their orders to state the opposite of what they want, so that she actually turns nice this time.
    • This happens again in Purple Potty People, where Evil George and Harold use their own Hypno Ring to turn the main universe's Sulu and Crackers into their slaves. This works with Sulu, but has the opposite intended effect on Crackers due to the aforementioned opposite effect on females, who instead goes to help George and Harold.
  • The Cameo: In one of George and Harold's comic books that were clearly a Take That! on the school's tattletale Melvin, among the people going to jail was Super Diaper Baby and Diaper Dog from the spin-off titles. They show up again when Captain Underpants releases everyone from their cells.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: In the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman, George and Harold prank Mr. Krupp by tricking him into singing a birthday for Ms. Ribble, which contains a marriage proposal. He is so shocked and stupefied when she reads it out, an actual marriage happens until Ms. Ribble breaks it off just before the vows happen, and only then does Mr. Krupp say he didn't want to marry her either, the entire thing happening due to George and Harold tricking them.
  • Canon Immigrant: Petey the Cat first appeared in the spinoff book "Super Diaper Baby 2", but he appeared in the series proper in book 9 in George and Harold's Dog Man comic book.
  • Captain Superhero: The titular character, Captain Underpants.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Evil George and Harold from the mirror universe in Book 8, who open their comic with the line "Once upon a time, there were two evil children named George and Harold."
    Evil George: I am bad.
    Evil Harold: I am bad as well.
  • Cassandra Truth: Once a book, a little boy tells his oblivious mother about what's happening and she brushes him off. In book ten, it's the mother who tells the kid that she saw something odd, and he too swears it off.
  • Casual Interplanetary Travel: Book 7 has a group of astronauts about to land on Uranus, but after seeing the Robo-Plunger there, they decide to cancel the trip last minute and head back to Earth. Even ignoring the fact that humans have never been any further than the Moon, Uranus is about 1.8 billion miles away. Going off the speed of Apollo 11 note , hypothetically getting anyone there would take 130 years. However, the trip back to Earth apparently only took the astronauts a couple of days, as the Robo-Boogers are able to arrive in time for the climax.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Surprisingly. After the first five books, the series slowly gets more continuity-intensive, and a bit Darker and Edgier too.
  • Character Catchphrase:
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: The title of every single book except for the first one.
  • Chekhov's Army: In book 7, Captain Underpants (while in Melvin's body) accidentally annoys a bunch of people. When Melvin returns to his body, the angry people come back, and Melvin gets his Laser-Guided Karma.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang:
    • After the Hypno-Ring being used in book one and again in book 5, it returns in book 8 in which Evil George and Harold hypnotize Crackers and Sulu.
    • The Super-Power Juice is used in book three and also book 5, and returns again in book 8 when George and Harold's grandparents drink it.
  • Chekhov's Gag:
    • In book 3, there's a quick gag where George and Harold make their science teacher believe he's going crazy by imitating cat meows. But in book 4, it's progressed to the point where the teacher quits his job because he believes he's crazy and Professor Poopypants steps in.
    • Squishies. First used as a seemingly throwaway gag in the sixth book, and later makes a surprise reappearance in the seventh book, cleverly used by Captain Underpants to dispatch Trixie and Frankenbooger at the same time.
    • After being sent to school in George and Harold's places, the robot George and Harold play kickball and end up sending a kickball into space by accident. It eventually lands on Uranus several books later, accidentally causing the revival of the Turbo-Toilet 2000.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • In the first book, George and Harold decide to take a fake dog poop with them when going to search for the hypnotized Mr. Krupp. Later, George uses the poop to distract Dr. Diaper by making him think he made it.
    • The 3-D Hypno-Ring was originally just a(n extremely silly) plot device in The Adventures of Captain Underpants and was only brought up in passing in most of the sequels if it was mentioned at all. In Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman, however, the ring made a full reappearance and the trouble using it causes became a plot point.
    • Book 5 also features the reappearance of the Super-Power Juice, when it falls on Ms. Ribble's hair and gives her hair superpowers.
    • In book 6, George tells Melvin he should just flip the batteries around in the Combine-O-Thingy to reverse his Bionic Booger transformation. Melvin dismisses it as "the dumbest thing he's ever heard", but surely enough, once George begrudgingly convinces Melvin's father to test it at the end, it works.
    • Professor Poopypants'/Tippy Tinkletrousers' various inventions from book 4 become this in books 9 and 10, and are ultimately directly or indirectly responsible for the ice age, the extinction of the dinosaurs, and the Big Bang itself.note 
    • Dog Man, the first comic that Harold and George made together eventually becomes a bestselling graphic novel by Harold and George as adults. Book 12 ends with Harold and George deciding to move on from Captain Underpants and make more comics about the character.
  • Clark Kenting: The Captain is completely bald, while Mr. Krupp seems to be wearing a Dodgy Toupee.
  • Cliffhanger Cop Out: Tippy Tinkletrousers was apparently killed at the end of Book 9 after the giant zombified Harold squished him underfoot. Book 10 reveals the former left out a scene between, in which it turns out Harold was so incredibly slow Tippy had time to scream three times, go shopping, then buy a giant novelty ketchup pack and place it beneath the foot.
  • Comic Books Are Real: Happens a lot, first starting with George and Harold hypnotising their principal into becoming their own creation of Captain Underpants, followed with a souped-up photocopier which turns whatever it scans into real objects, be it mice or killer toilets.
  • Conforming OOC Moment: In "The Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants", all the students laugh at the eponymous professor's Unfortunate Name. Melvin laughs too, despite the fact that he's known for looking down on the other kids for their immature sense of humor.
  • Continuity Creep: The first five books are basically one-off adventures that aren't all too connected. However, starting from book six, the series became heavily serialized, with the plot of each book being directly caused by the events of the previous book, and an overarching story that eventually reached a conclusion.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The field trip to the pizza place (Piqua Pizza Palace) in book 4 actually first appeared in book 2 (it was one of the stands at the carnival).
      • Piqua Pizza Palace makes several more appearances in the series after that, appearing in both book 9 and 11.
    • Dr. Diaper is arrested (offscreen) at the end of book one. In book four when Tippy Tinkletrousers is in jail, you can see him in one of the windows at the jail.
    • George and Harold reach the roof of the school in Book Four with the same convenient ladder in the cafeteria they used in Book Three.
    • Prior to book 6, Melvin was nothing more than a character who had a minor role in book 2, but in books 3-5 he could usually be seen in the background as one of the students in George and Harold's class.
    • Harold having a little sister was mentioned once in the first book. It was never brought up again until book 8, where she appears for the first time.
    • At the end of Book two, George and Harold tell the robot they created to take the dead toilets out to Uranus. Then in book 4 if you notice a newspaper, they're apparently found on Uranus. This once again shows up in Book 7, when Major Tomski and his crew make an expedition to Uranus and find the dead toilets and the Robo-Plunger. Finally, Book 11 opens with the softball from Book 5 arriving at Uranus and decapitating the Robo-Plunger, freeing the Turbo Toilet 2000.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • This is how Captain Underpants frequently sources his red with black dots curtain-capes:
      • Most of the time, they come from the curtains in Mr. Krupp's office.
      • In Book 6, George, Harold, and Krupp were hiding behind one of these curtains when George turned Krupp into Captain Underpants. (The coincidence was lampshaded here.)
      • In Book 9, the Everything Except Fabric Softener store happens to be selling superhero capes at 100% off, as part of their 'Lazy Storytelling' sale.
      • In Book 10, Krupp was holding a box of curtains when he was accidentally sent back in time with George and Harold.
      • In Book 12, Captain Underpants's cape is a towel he was using to dry his face.
    • It also often happens when Captain Underpants gets water on his face and turns back into Mr. Krupp. Note that many things can qualify as "water".
      • In Book 2, the Talking Toilet swallows Captain Underpants and he gets water on his head.
      • In Book 3, George and Harold pour the Anti-Zombie Nerd Juice on Captain Underpants.
      • In Book 6, Ms. Anthrope kisses Captain Underpants, and the saliva is similar enough to water to make him turn back.
      • In Book 8, it starts raining right at the climatic battle, instantly turning him back into Krupp.
    • There are also a few contrived coincidences to make Mr. Krupp (and ergo Captain Underpants) be included in the climatic battle.
      • In Book 6, Ms. Ribble is sick on the day of the field trip, and Mr. Krupp is the substitute.
      • In Book 10, Mr. Krupp chases after George and Harold when they return to the school to use the Purple Porta Potty, and gets too close to the machine and is taken back in time with them.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Professor Poopypants tries to get his revenge by forcing everyone to have a silly-sounding name that uses the same pattern as his name.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot:
    • After Professor Poopypants is arrested for trying to make everyone change their name to a silly name so he wouldn't stand out, George and Harold ask him why he didn't just change his name. Professor Poppypants sheepishly admits that they're right and that he wished he had thought of that before. If only he also asked about the naming conventions of America.
    • In Book 7, Melvin specifically warns George and Harold that should they not give the Purple Potty one day to cool down, it'll come with severe consequences. At the end of the book, when trying to get Crackers back to her home time, they forgo Melvin's warnings and get transported to a Bizarro Universe, which kicks off the events of Book 8 and leads to their subsequent arrest in Book 9.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • "The Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers" contains only three scenes with Tippy himself: one at the very beginning and two at the very end. The actual plot of the book is one big flashback to George and Harold's younger days.
    • Despite being the titular character, books 9 and 12 have barely any Captain Underpants in them. In book 9, it's one fight scene at the start, then the rest of the book is a Whole Episode Flashback to before Captain Underpants even existed. In book 12, he appears for just one scene, and it's mainly just so Krupp can get his powers and hypno spell erased.
  • Crazy Consumption: In Book 3, as punishment for them pulling a prank on the lunch ladies that caused them to quit, Mr. Krupp forces George and Harold to brown bag their lunch and eat with him in his office from then on. It backfires on him when he sees what the two of them are eating.
    George: I'll trade you half of my peanut-butter-and-gummy-worm sandwich for half of your tuna-salad-with-chocolate-chips-and-miniature-marshmallows sandwich.
    Harold: Sure. Y'want some barbecue sauce on that?
    Krupp: You kids are disgusting!
    • Soon, they're munching on potato chips with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. And then guess what's next?
      George: Hard-boiled eggs dipped in hot fudge and Skittles!
      Krupp: AAAUGH! I can't stand it anymore!
  • Create Your Own Villain: With the notable exception of the first book's antagonist, every subsequent major villain has either had their plans facilitation or can contribute their descent into evil to George and Harold's callous actions.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Captain Underpants (who, at this point, has no superpowers and is just an overweight, middle-aged man) versus the Turbo Toilet 2000 goes about as well as you'd expect. Another one happens a few chapters later when the Robo-Plunger shows up, this time with Turbo Toilet on the receiving end.
  • Dangled by a Giant: In "The Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People", George and Harold tricked their evil alternate selves by using the Shrinky Pig backwards and got shrunken. Harold picks them up by their shirts by his finger and thumb, while George spanks their evil selves with his index finger
  • Dean Bitterman: Mr. Krupp is the cruel and sadistic principal of Jerome Horwitz Elementary School who hates children.
  • December–December Romance: George's great-grandmother and Harold's grandfather hook up around the end of the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People. George and Harold were suitably squicked in-universe from being present to them passionately kissing before going off to find a restaurant for a date.
  • Deep Sleep: In book 11, when George and Harold are too exhausted to attend school due to them hardly getting any sleep (they are forced to attend due to complaints from their parents about truancy reports from the school), they plan on taking a quick nap. This results in them sleeping until 4:41 p.m., and missing school entirely.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: In The Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman, one of the comics George and Harold draw includes "Onse there was a really mean teacher named ms. Ribble who was very mean."
  • De-power: The final book has Mr. Krupp losing the Super Power Juice and the hypno spell, basically removing all traces of Captain Underpants.
  • Detonation Moon: Dr. Diaper's plot. The new timeline created in Book 9 shows an aversion to No Endor Holocaust, with the remains of the destroyed moon scattered across the ruined landscape.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In Book 3, after discovering the wonders of baking soda and vinegar volcanos, George and Harold get an idea for a new prank: send a letter to the lunch ladies, claiming to be from Mr. Krupp, saying that the latter's birthday is coming up, and he'd like cupcakes for the school to be made, with a recipe that contains baking soda and vinegar. Unfortunately, they never considered that, due to how many students there are, the lunch ladies might multiply the recipe, resulting in a bigger mess than they intended.
  • Disability Immunity: In the 12th book, George and Harold are unaffected by the Rid-O-Kid spray because they have stuffy noses due to a cold.
  • Disappeared Dad: Implied to be the case with Harold in book 8; his and George's families meet up for dinner, and Harold's sister, mom, and grandfather are there, yet his dad is absent with no explanation. This is confirmed in the next book, where it's revealed Harold's parents divorced when he was in kindergarten and his dad ditched them to live in Nevada.
  • Disney Death: Parodied when George and Harold nearly fall to their doom due to Captain Underpants using toilet paper to escape an alien spaceship. Also doubles as a Disney Villain Death.
  • Double Entendre: The title of the third book could be referencing both the fact that the aliens are evil and their ...appendages.
  • Downer Ending: Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers ends with Kipper Krupp and his thugs having mental breakdowns in response to seeing Tippy appear before them in his time-travelling pants machine (long story) and Mr. Krupp being fired. Because of that, there was no Captain Underpants to save the world and when Tippy returns to the 'present day', he finds it to be a Bad Present where the world was destroyed and all the students were turned into giant zombie nerds from the alien invasion that should have been thwarted in Book 3.
    • Luckily, there are some Timey-Wimey Ball shenanigans involved as the Tippy that appeared before George and Harold were sentenced to juvie was from the future, and the story focused on what happened when Tippy didn't appear before then.
  • Dream Deception:
  • Dropped in the Toilet: In "Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000", when Melvin becomes a superhero called Big Melvin, the townspeople begin to take advantage of his help and ask him to do menial tasks for them. One guy even asks him to fish his wallet out of a toilet.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe. After Professor Poopypants is defeated in Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants, George exclaims "Let's all give Captain Underpants a big hand!" Harold, whose hand was accidentally enlarged a few chapters prior, glares at George who apologizes.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: In Book 11, Melvin becomes a superhero to fight back against the Turbo Toilet 2000. He soon finds himself doing less of his lab work more of helping people out with trivial needs. He finally gets fed up with this and brings George and Harold back from the future to deal with the Turbo Toilet 2000.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The first book is the only book where the villain (Dr. Diaper) has no intrinsic connection to George and Harold.
    • In the first two books, the Once an Episode Incredibly Graphic Violence Chapter(s) were called the Extremely Graphic Violence Chapter(s). The first three books each had a chapter titled "Busted" as well.
    • The first three books in which Captain Underpants didn't have superpowers are a bit odd to look back on, considering it became a staple of his character.
  • Ectoplasm: In Book 9, Young Geroge and Herold pulled a prank on a Gang of Bullies that involves with a ghost they made up. They used shaving cream to make it look like foamy white ectoplasm and put it in the bullies' lockers. When the bullies saw the ectoplasm in their lockers, they scream and ran.
  • Epic Fail: In the first book, after Captain Underpants "foils" a robbery, the police arrive, and upon seeing a weird man wearing nothing, but his underwear and a cape standing at the scene of a crime, they quickly try to place him under arrest.
  • Episode of the Dead: The third book involves aliens infiltrating the school as cafeteria ladies, and feeding all the students and teachers a concoction that turns them into 'zombie nerds'. While the zombie nerds don't exhibit The Virus, the fact that the entire school has been turned effectively spells the same result. Unlike typical zombies, they don't hunger for flesh or brains, but they do exhibit all the other stereotypical zombie traits. They also very much pose a danger for the heroes, as they are completely obedient to the aliens and are commanded to destroy the heroes.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Happens in almost every book, like when principal Krupp sees his secretary eating a desk.
  • Every Episode Ending: The first five books end with everything going back to normal until someone snaps their fingers and Mr. Krupp runs off to become Captain Underpants, with George and Harold running after him, yelling "Oh no!" and "Here We Go Again!!" The later books end with Sequel Hooks instead, although they still involve George yelling "Oh no!" and Harold going "Here We Go Again!". The only exception is book 12, which makes sense as it's the last book in the series, ergo they're not going again.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • George and Harold have no less than three sets of Evil Counterparts—Robo-George and the Harold 2000, created by Wedgie Woman in Book 5, Evil George and Evil Harold from the mirror universe in Book 8, and their future adult selves who are Sadist Teachers working for Mr. Krupp in Book 10.
    • The Captain himself has three: Dr. Diaper, Wedgie Womannote , and Captain Blunderpants.
  • Evil Me Scares Me: In Book 8, George and Harold come across their evil mirror universe counterparts. They are understandably disturbed by their counterparts' villainy.
  • Evil vs. Evil: The three Tippies in book 10 are all antagonistic to each other, even though they are all the main villains of the book.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The book titles and villain names in general, probably as an Affectionate Parody. To name two examples, the twenty-third chapter of Book 3 and the twenty-second chapter of Book 4 are respectively called "The Twenty-Third Chapter" and "The Twenty-Second Chapter".
  • Exact Words:
    • A rare non-verbal example in the fifth book. Ms. Ribble writes a poem on the blackboard she wants her students to copy and finishes with "Signed, your name here". She then makes all the students write the poem, but they write "your name here" instead of their names.
    • In the tenth book, the heroes know that Tippy Tinkletrousers is their only hope for returning from the Pleistocene epoch, as he is the only one with a time machine. Tippy tells the heroes, "I bet you all want a ride back to the future." The keyword being future.
    • In the climax of the eleventh book, the hamsterdactyls lift the Turbo Toilet 2000 half a mile into the air. When the TT 2000 tells them to let him go, guess what they do.
  • Exhaustion-Induced Idiocy: In book 11, George and Harold have to stay up all night to study for exams, and in the morning they're so tired that they can't even form a coherent sentence.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: The premise of Book 12 relies on an alternate Earth populated with smart people getting destroyed (granted, it was their fault, but still...).
  • Expy: In-universe example; the aliens seen in George and Harold's "The Adventures of Great-Granny Girdle and Boxer Boy" during the events of Book 8 are clearly based on Zork, Klax, and Jennifer from the third book.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: In book 9, it's revealed that the first few books took place literally one week apart from each other. As in, the story of one book happened during one week, and then the story of the next book happened the week directly after it. George and Harold just couldn't catch a break...
  • Eye Glasses: Melvin and his family are all depicted this way in the illustrations.
  • F--: In the fifth book, Ms. Ribble is infuriated with George and Harold's prank that nearly got her married to Mr. Krupp. So she gives them both "G" grades, a grade specially made just for them.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • In book 3, while they're very sad about it, George and Harold willfully and quickly decide to make a Heroic Sacrifice to save the world by blowing up the space ship, even though they'll be killed as well.
    • In book 6, right before Melvin is about to eat them and all hope seems loss, George and Harold shake hands and calmly tell each other goodbye.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Tippy being squished to death by a giant zombie nerd Harold at the conclusion to Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers. The narrator even describes what's left of him as a "red squishy stain". This was lampshaded at the beginning of the next book, of course.
    • Subverted: The zombie nerds actually squashed a pack of ketchup, as they were too slow to actually crush Tippy.
  • Fantastic Aesop: "But what George and Harold forgot was the other moral, that is, never, ever, EVER hypnotize your principal. Because if you do, your life may go from bad to worse at the snap of a finger!"
  • Fantastic Naming Convention: Played with in the novel Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants. The antagonist comes from a country named New Swissland, where everyone has a silly name. His is Professor Pippy Pee-Pee Poopypants. He later changes it to...Tippy T. Tinkletrousers, naturally solving nothing for him.
  • Fat Bastard: Pretty much all the teachers and staff at Jerome Horwitz are depicted to be overweight Sadist Teachers.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Warden Gordon B. Schmorden, the guardian and chief jailer of Piqua State Penitentiary, was mentioned to have a reputation for making mountains out of molehills when it came to "crimes".
    Warden Schmorden was known far and wide for his cruelty and strictness. He once sentenced a prisoner to a year of solitary confinement just for ending a sentence with a preposition.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing:
    • In The Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman, when Wedgie Woman's hairdo grabs the "spray starch" bottles she (thinks) she needs to win, the illustration shows that they are actually hair-removing spray bottles, which are exactly what George and Harold need to defeat her.
    • In book 10, even when you can only see the backs of the two mean teachers from thirty years in the future, you can notice they look very similar to George and Harold.
  • Flying Brick: Captain Underpants after drinking the superpower juice has all the typical superpower things such as flying and super strength.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • A multi-book one. In book 8, Evil George and Evil Harold hypnotize Crackers and Sulu into also being evil. It works on Sulu, but not on Crackers, who noticeably does the opposite of what he was requested to do. As mentioned in book 5, the hypno-ring being used on a woman will make her do the opposite of what she was hypnotized to do, and in book 10 it's revealed that Crackers is actually female.
    • In book 12, George and Harold go to the future and meet their future selves. Their adult selves question why they don't remember doing this. It's revealed at the end that the adult versions of George and Harold that were shown were actually the adult versions of Yesterday George and Harold.
  • Foul Cafeteria Food:
    • The Adventures of Captain Underpants: George and Harold make a comic about the lunch being so disgusting that it comes alive and chooses to be evil.
    • Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets: The way George and Harold get rid of some of the talking toilets is by feeding them tomorrow's lunch, which is so revolting it kills them.
    • Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds): Three aliens disguise themselves as humans in order to become lunch ladies, where they put Evil Zombie Nerd Milkshakes on the menu to turn the kids into evil zombie nerds.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: In the illustrations in the books, everyone is drawn with these.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In Book 5, Wedgie Woman creates robot replicas of George and Harold using Leonardo da Vinci-Esque drawings and notes for reference. The notes consist of the lyrics to Dem Bones written backwards with all instances of "bone" replaced with "bolt" ("The foot bolt connected to the ankle bolt"... etc.).
  • Funny Background Event: Oftentimes, a joke or gag will be happening in the illustrations even if the narration makes no mention of it.
    • In Book 5, Ms. Ribble orders the class to copy a poem from the blackboard onto their retirement party cards for her that ends with "Signed, Your Name Here". Looking at the illustrations reveals that the children have literally signed their cards "Your Name Here".
    • In book 6, Melvin's parents are mentioned to be doing a top-secret government experiment. The illustration shows that this experiment is putting pop rocks into a bottle of soda.
    • In book 7, Mr. Krupp (who is in Melvin's body) tries to sit at his desk, but he's now so short that he can barely see above it.
    • Also in book 7, an angry crowd chases after Melvin when he returns to his body. Later, when George and Harold go to use the time machine, you can see Melvin still being chased by the crowd in the window.
    • In Book 9, in the original timeline where George and Harold got sent to juvie for crimes their Evil selves from an Alternate Universe committed, Director Hector Schmector gives them up to Tippy Tinkletrousers after he broke out of prison with Mr. Krupp in his giant Robo-Suit, as revenge for "putting hair remover in [his] shampoo". While Tippy was gloating about the two meeting a familiar face, though, Hector is seen 'updating' the "No Children Left Behind" poster right behind the glass doors to "2 Children Left Behind" with a pencil. Even funnier is that he ran out of room on the poster for the word change and wrote the 'en' in 'children' onto the wall. With a pencil.
    • In book 12, after the teachers realize the kids have pulled a bunch of pranks on them, one of the teachers rushes to the mirror and, upon seeing her reflection, concludes that she got off scot-free. However, the illustration shows that the back of her clothes and hair was cut off.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • In Book 2, Melvin's invention, the PATSY 2000, is short for Photo-Atomic Trans-Somgobulating Yectofantriplutoniczanziptomiser.
      Harold: I'm sorry I asked.
    • Piqua has its space force which is named POOPSIE: The Piqua Order Of Professional Space and Interplanetary Explorers.
  • Future Me Scares Me: At one point in the 10th book, George and Harold resolve to start taking their lives more seriously. Later, they end up traveling to the future that by following this resolution, they have grown up to become sadistic teachers. They can prevent this by breaking the resolution.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: All twelve books have been reprinted in color, with small changes from the original release.
  • Genius Serum: Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman has George and Harold's school teacher, Ms. Ribble (who they accidentally hypnotized to become the titular villain), granted Super-Intelligence when the Super Power Juice ended up poured onto her hair, also soaking into her brain.

  • Genre Savvy: Both George and Harold know that they exist in a series of books, and love lampshading tropes.
    George and Harold are tied up, with a candle burning through a rope that when burnt through will launch an axe at them.
    George: Well, it looks like this is the end.
    Harold: Maybe not. Maybe the blade will fall and slice through our ropes and not harm us at all.
    George: I doubt it. That kind of thing only happens in really lame adventure stories.
    Suddenly the blade fell and sliced through the ropes, not harming George or Harold at all. The two boys looked at each other and decided it was best not to comment on the situation.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    • Book 2:
      • After they get suspended, George says he hopes things won't get any worse. The title of Chapter 12, which immediately proceeds that line, is "Things Get Worse."
      • George says they need to stop Mr. Krupp from turning into Captain Underpants before it's not too late. The next chapter is titled "It's too late."
      • When Captain Underpants fights the Turbo Toilet 2000, George and Harold say they hope this doesn't lead to extremely graphic violence. Cue the Flip-O-Rama section, which is of course titled, "The Extremely Graphic Violence Chapter."
  • Glad I Thought of It:
    • In Book 6, After Melvin's defeat as the Bionic Booger Boy, Mr. Sneedly mentions that it'll take a few months to create a machine to reverse the effects of the Combine-O-Tron 2000, the machine that turned Melvin into the Bionic Booger Boy in the first place. George suggests switching around the Combine-O-Tron 2000's batteries, theorizing that it'll reverse the effects. Mr. Sneedly at first dismisses this idea as childish but decides to do it anyway to prove them wrong. When this actually does reverse the effects, Mr. Sneedly exclaims, "Well, what do you know? My idea worked." George and Harold simply roll their eyes in annoyance.
    • In book 7, George and Harold suggest that Melvin build a time machine to retrieve the Combine-O-Tron 2000. He immediately takes credit for it.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The entire school staff undergoes this in Book 11 when George and Harold try to sneak into the school while their time-travel duplicates were in attendance, only to be caught. Mr. Krupp ends up being committed.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The whole premise. George and Harold hypnotized their principal into believing he was an underwear-themed superhero. It worked too well.
    • In the third book, George reluctantly gives Captain Underpants "Extra-Strength Superpower Juice" to save his life before he could get eaten. Now, not only does he believe he's Captain Underpants, he has superpowers.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: In book 6, Melvin tries to combine himself with a bionic robot, and had it worked, it would have made him the most powerful boy to ever live. But during the combination process, he accidentally sneezes at the last second, and the machine automatically calculates his boogers as being a third element and Melvin's body is fused with the robot and his own snot.
  • Gorn: Parodied by the Flip-o-Rama chapters, which self-describe the (clearly bloodless) fights consisting of two related panels which the reader flips between quickly to make it look animated as "incredibly graphic violence".
  • Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death: Book 3 parodies this, being titled "''Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds)".
  • Grand Finale: Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-a-Lot ends with Mr. Krupp's Captain Underpants identity and powers erased, George and Harold going on time-traveling adventures, and Yesterday George and Yesterday Harold moving on from making Captain Underpants comics and returning to their first creation, Dog Man.
  • Grin of Rage: After she is humiliated by George and Harold in a practical joke, Ms. Ribble is seen the next day by the two with angry eyes and a teeth barring smiles, which they could see meant that she was more furious then she usually was.
  • Gross-Out Show: Lampshaded by issuing a warning before a nauseating starting bit of a chapter inside the Bionic Booger Boy, and having George yell at the narrator for his disgusting descriptions right after it.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing:
    • Mr. Krupp is the resident Dean Bitterman of the school, but is brainwashed into becoming the friendly and benevolent Captain Underpants, a superhero who saves the world on a semi-regular basis.
    • Ms. Ribble starts out as one of the Sadist Teachers of the school, but in order to reverse the effects of the Wedgie Woman saga, is hypnotized into becoming a nice teacher.
  • Here We Go Again!: The Trope Codifier. It even provides the page image for this trope. The first eleven books all end with George screaming "Oh no!" and Harold screaming this trope's name. The only exception is book 12, which makes sense as it's the last book in the series, ergo they're not going again.
  • Hero of Another Story: Old George and Old Harold getting back the Hamsterdactyls at the end of Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-a-Lot.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: When George and Harold are imprisoned inside the UFO in book 3, they switch out the labels on the jugs and fuel tanks so the aliens unknowingly pour Self-Destruct Juice into the fuel tank. This will kill the aliens and save the world, but it'll also kill them too since they have no way to escape. However, thanks to some quick thinking by Captain Underpants, they survive.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: George and Harold are the main protagonists of the books, and are best friends who are rarely seen without the other. Though Harold isn't heterosexual.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Several examples in Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman:
    • In the comic George and Harold make for Ms. Ribble, she assigns a huge amount of book reports only to get crushed by the pile. When she's rebuilt as Wedgie Woman, she's defeated when her Robo-wedgie-claw grabs her underwear.
    • Harold 2000 and Robo-George get beaten up by their rocket arms.
    • Happens to the real Ms. Ribble when she's hypnotized into thinking she's Wedgie Woman. That stolen Extra-Strength Spray Starch? It's actually Hair Remover, and her powers are all in her hair.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Implied with Sulu the Bionic Hamster and Crackers the pterodactyl at the end of book 11, and grossly lampshaded by the boys.
    Harold: "But that doesn't make sense!"
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • When Ms. Ribble says she could never marry Mr. Krupp because of his stupid-looking nose, the scene is drawn in close-up to emphasize the fact that their noses are drawn identically.
    • George and Harold read their evil counterparts' book on Captain Blunderpants (which has great handwriting plus no words are misspelled), then they say that the handwriting is bad and that words were spelled wrong. And we all know how awful their penmanship and spelling are...
    • In the final book, George gets excited when learning he became an author when he grew up. Harold tells him to have self-control, but when he hears he became an illustrator, Harold also gets excited despite having told George not to. George lampshades this.
    • Mr. Meaner constantly makes fun of the overweight kids even though he is fat too.
    • This exchange from the fourth book:
      Harold: From now on you must call yourself "Buttercup Chickenfanny". The guy in the gerbil suit says so!
      Captain Underpants: Hey! I don't take orders from anybody!
      George: Great. Now fly out that window and bring back that big machine.
      Captain Underpants: Yes, sir.
    • Once everyone gets their names back, Ms. Ribble and Mr. Rected says they're glad they don't have silly names anymore, with the jokes being that their names were rather silly to begin with.
    • In book 5, George mentions that teachers have very stressful jobs. Harold, who he and George go out of their way to pull pranks and torment their teachers at every possible moment, asks "I wonder why?"

  • Informed Judaism: We learn that Mr. Krupp is Jewish at his wedding thanks to there being a rabbi there. Of course, he's only there so that he can tell George and Harold not to pull any tricks, leading to:
  • Insufferable Genius: Melvin Sneedly is one of the smartest students in the school, but he is a notorious tattletale and egomaniac.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • In book 8, George and Harold question why Crackers did the opposite of what he was hypnotized to do. To anyone who has any recollection of the fifth book, it should become blatantly obvious that Crackers is actually female, and given that it's even lampshaded that Crackers' pronouns are getting italicized, this is clearly intended. However, it's not confirmed until book 10, when Crackers lays eggs.
    • Also in book 8, George and Harold's grandparents drink the Super Power Juice without anyone noticing. This fact wasn't exactly meant to be a secret, with them quite clearly being shown pouring themselves a glass, but George and Harold don't realize it until the end.
  • In Spite of a Nail: The Talking Toilets and Robo-Boogers appear in the mirror universe, despite Melvin being an idiot here and therefore unable to invent the devices that created them.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: In the opening of book 6, it's mentioned that "Perhaps [George and Harold's] grammar weren't no good either."
  • Ironic Echo: In the fourth book, Mr. Krupp catches George and Harold switching the signs. Mr. Krupp tells them that that's rude and offensive to which George replies "That's why it's funny." Mr. Krupp then tells them they're banned from the pizza party field trip. They say that that's cruel and unusual punishment, to which Mr. Krupp replies "That's why it's funny."
  • Irony: Oh so much. Especially in Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman where Harold and George head to a newly-opened store to buy fabric softener to help Captain Underpants... only to find the store literally sells everything except fabric softener.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Tippy. Once he saves Captain Underpants from disappearing, he goes back to being evil.
  • Joke and Receive: In the first book, George and Harold's comic advertises that their next issue will be titled "Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets." Guess what the sequel was called?
  • Juvenile Hell: Subverted in a way that's Played for Laughs. George and Harold get arrested for crimes their Evil Twins committed in Book 9, yet their time served in juvenile hall proved surprisingly pleasant, at least compared to the Sucky School they regularly attended.
  • Karmic Butt-Monkey:
    • Kipper, Loogie, Bugg and Finkstein are bullies to the kindergartners and revel in hurting them. George and Harold get their revenge by pranking them. At first, Kipper gets the worst of it when George and Harold make it look like he has an Unmanly Secret (which he doesn't have), but then his friends begin to get the brunt of it as well when George and Harold trick them into thinking that the nonexistent ghost Wedgie Magee is after them.
    • Mr. Krupp tends to be on the receiving end of George and Harold's pranks, directly and indirectly. Besides that, he's had his share of embarrassing situations. Considering that he's a Dean Bitterman who bullies his students, it's safe to say that it's all karmic.
  • Kids Are Cruel: In book 4, when Professor Poopypants shows up as the new science teacher and introduces himself, the whole 4th-grade class laughs at him.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Zorx, Klax, and Jennifer were in their ship when it exploded.
    • Sulu, Crackers and Tippy Tinkletrousers die at the end of Book 10. We were warned.
  • Kryptonite Factor/Placebo Effect/Weaksauce Weakness: Captain Underpants loses his power when sprayed with spray starch. At least, he thinks he does, because that was what George and Harold wrote in their comic. Played straight, as Captain Underpants reverts to Mr. Krupp with a little water. Tippy even lampshades how easy this weakness is to exploit.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The books are chock-full of these, especially considering there is No Fourth Wall. Most notably, the main protagonists are not just Genre Savvy, they are well aware that they are in a book, being seen referencing previous chapters and calling out the narrator on more than one occasion.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Professor Poopypants attempts to give everyone this for laughing at his name, by forcing them to change their names to silly-sounding ones with similar patterns.
    • In Book 6, Mr. Snoddy, the owner of a tissue factory, gives Melvin-who has transformed into a giant snot monster-tissue samples, which causes him to grow three times his current size, and destroy the factory while screaming his head off, and Mr. Snoddy, for his troubles, gets glued to the floor with snot.
    • In Book 7, Captain Underpants (while in Melvin's body) unintentionally annoys a bunch of people. When Melvin returns to his body, the people angrily chase after him. While Melvin is getting punished for something he didn't do, considering how much of a jerk he acted in that book, it feels more than justified.
  • Last-Second Joke Problem: As a Running Gag, the early books always end with someone snapping their fingers near Mr. Krupp, making him transform into Captain Underpants and run away screaming "TRA-LA-LAA!", while George and Harold comment on it. Subverted from the sixth book onwards, when the gag is replaced with a more straightforward Sequel Hook.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: The last 5 books are longer and have more depth than the other books.
  • Lazily Gender-Flipped Name: The three aliens Zorx, Klax, and Jennifer disguise as humans to pose as new cafeteria ladies, gender-bending their names as part of the guise by adding "-ette" (Zorxette, Klaxette, and Jenniferette) at the end. Played for Laughs in that Jennifer is already a female name by Earth standards.
  • Lead In: Several of the books often have a mini-plot that eventually kicks off the major events of the book, preceded by the line "But before I can tell you this story, I have to tell you this one..." In the case of the ninth and tenth books, the ninth book ends up being a book-long Lead Into the tenth book.
  • Limited Wardrobe:
    • Played with. George and Harold always wear the same type of clothes (George always wearing a tie and Harold always wearing a t-shirt is brought up at the start of every book), but the covers actually show the colors of their clothes changing.
    • Pretty much averted in the full-color adaptations, however. Not only George and Harold, but pretty much every character (such as Mr. Krupp and Melvin) are shown wearing a different colored version of their outfit at pretty much every opportunity they realistically would.
  • Loophole Abuse: Inverted. The Jerome Horwitz "Big Book o' Rules" has rules about EVERYTHING, including kicking a softball into outer space, students turning into giant flying robots, etc.
  • Lovable Rogue: George and Harold are pranksters and rulebreakers, but are very likeable.
  • Luxury Prison Suite: Although not intended as such in-universe, George and Harold find that they don't mind being in juvenile hall in Book 10, because it's almost exactly like their old elementary school, except with library books, a music teacher, and an art teacher.
  • Madness-Induced Omnivore: In "The Terrifying Return of Tippy TinkleTrousers", when a Gang of Bullies see Tippy TinkleTrousers' Ro Bo pants, they freak out and go insane. One of the bullies named Loogie starts eating some dirt and earthworms.
  • Madness Mantra: Mr. Krupp tends to say "B-b-bubba bobba hob hob hobo wah wah!" whenever he comes across something mind screwy.
  • Magic Countdown: In book 6 when Melvin uses the Combine-O-Tron 2000 on himself and, at the last second, he sneezes and the machine then tells him there's one second left until it combines three elements. In the course of this single second, Melvin has enough time to make two horrified exclamations, frantically search around the room for the third element, make another horrified exclamation, and then realize what the third element is with enough time to react and say "Uh-oh." (Granted, since this is a book it can be hard to determine how long things take, but it remains highly unlikely that Melvin could have done all that was described in a single second.)
  • Manchurian Agent: Mr. Krupp becomes Captain Underpants when he hears fingers snapping, and returns to normal when water is poured on his head.
  • May It Never Happen Again: George and Harold made a ton of Captain Underpants comics which some of them made fun of their teachers and a classmate named Melvin Sneedly. It also made the boys to hypnotize their mean principal into Captain Underpants and were forced to help him out. At the end of "The Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot", George and Harold quit making Captain Underpants comics due to the fact that the character has caused them enough trouble already. So they created DogMan comics instead.
  • Meaningful Background Event: In book 3, George and Harold have to pour Super-Evil Rapid Growth Juice out the window and into the grass, which includes a dandelion. Later, you can see that the dandelion has reached the height of the window, and by the end it's towering over the school.
  • Measuring the Marigolds: A meta one in book 11, in which George tells the reader that if, you think too hard about these books, you'll realize they make hardly any logical sense. These books operate purely on Rule of Cool and Rule of Funny, so, if you want to get any enjoyment out of them, it's best to just roll with it.
  • Medium Awareness: Due to the No Fourth Wall nature of the book, George and Harold are known to repeatedly lampshade events throughout the books.
  • Merging Machine: The Combine-o-tron 2000, which can bond things like humans and robots together at the cellular level. Its effects can be reversed by putting the batteries in backwards.
  • Merging Mistake: In The Big Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Melvin attempts to fuse himself with an advanced robot of his own making, intending to turn himself into a bionic super-boy. But just as the fusion process is commencing, Melvin's cat allergies are triggered and he sneezes boogers out his nose, causing them to be fused as well and turning him into the Bionic Booger Boy.
  • Mind-Control Music: In the comic in The Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants, the professor plays Cher's greatest hits to the gerbils to make them turn evil.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Melvin starts acting like a Frankenstein-esque monster after he becomes the Bionic Booger Boy.
  • Minimalist Cast: While there are several Monster of the Week, there are actually only a few recurring characters (or at least, recurring characters who have an impact on the plot). Melvin is the only student at Jerome Horwitz who is ever important to the books, for instance.
  • Mirror Universe: "The Preposterous Plight Of The Purple Potty People" has one, where the mean teachers (and the villains) are nice, George and Harold are evil, and Captain Underpants is the evil Captain Blunderpants.
  • "Miss X" Pun: All the teachers in Jerome Horwitz Elementary have names that follow the "title + fragment" format that forms a punny name when read out: Ms. Ribble ("miserable"), Mr. Fyde ("mystified"), Mr. Meaner ("misdemeanor"), Mr. Rected ("misdirected"), etc. As a bonus, the teachers' full names also form a different, equally unflattering, pun.
  • Mistaken for Insane:
    • The teachers at Jerome Horwitz Elementary aren't insane, they're just cruel, but in "Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000", they mistakenly think they're dreamingnote  and start running around in their underwear now that they can supposedly do whatever they want. They are all sent to the asylum.
    • In "Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants", Mr. Fyde tells Mr. Krupp that he will resign from his job because he fears he's lost his mind after having witnessed the results of George and Harold's mischief. Mr. Krupp tells him that what he's seen is all George and Harold's doing, and when Mr. Fyde says he's seen a bald man in his underwear jumping out a windownote , Mr. Krupp is convinced that Mr. Fyde really is crazy.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: From The Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo-Toilet 2000, there's Tony, Orlando, and Dawn, the hamsterdactyl offspring of Sulu the Bionic Hamster and Crackers the pterodactyl.
  • Monster of the Week: Each book has its own villain that is defeated by the end of the novel. The only villains who appeared twice were the Turbo Toilet 2000 and Professor Poopypants/Tippy Tinkletrousers.
  • My Future Self and Me: Abused all over the place in books 10, 11, and 12, which include various characters traveling through time, meeting their past/future selves, and then teaming up with and/or betraying themselves in various ways.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Tippy Tinkletrousers has this reaction when he realizes he essentially destroyed the timeline in Book 9.
  • My Grandma Can Do Better Than You: Mr. Meaner says this at one point.
    "My grandma can run faster than you guys!"
  • Nerd Glasses:
    • Melvin Sneedly is the school brainiac and wears glasses, and so do both of his equally-brainiac parents.
    • Professor Poopypants, a ridiculously smart scientist, wears glasses.
    • The zombie nerds all wear glasses.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Oftentimes, the villains actions are often caused by George and Harold pulling a prank or some other shenanigan.
    • In book 2, they literally create the Talking Toilet army with PATSY.
    • In book 3, they give the Lunch Ladies a fake cupcake recipe that wrecks the school and makes them so mad they quit their jobs. This causes the aliens to step in.
    • In book 4, Professor Poopypants is pushed off the edge due to George and Harold's relentless teasing.
    • Book 5, George and Harold accidentally hypnotize Ms. Ribble into believing she's Wedgie Woman.
    • Book 6, Melvin gets enraged by a comic book George and Harold wrote about him, which inspires him to try and combine himself with a robot, only to accidentally become the Bionic Booger Boy.
    • Book 7, George and Harold once again make an insulting comic about Melvin. In the climax, Melvin refuses to help Captain Underpants or give him back his superpowers until they change the comic.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Near the end of book 9, Tippy Tinkletrousers prevented the creation of Captain Underpants.
  • No Fourth Wall: Characters frequently comment on how contrived their situation is and reference specific chaper numbers, and green goop can fow down a school's hallways and cover the text on the page.
  • Nobody Likes a Tattletale: Melvin Sneedly is hated by most of the students for being a notorious snitch (as well as for being a rude egomaniac). In "Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets", he is stuck Writing Lines on the chalkboard with the other teachers for ratting on George and Harold for ruining the Invention Convention, and he writes, "I will not be a tattletale."
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Near the end of "Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers", George and Harold decide to resolve becoming model students and stop misbehaving in an effort to avoid more chaotic misadventures. After Tippy takes everyone to 30 years into the future to check a theory, George and Harold are horrified to learn that because they resolved to behave, they became Sadist Teachers much like the ones that tormented them on a daily basis and it's heavily implied by future events that both also threw away highly successful careers as comic book co-creators. They quickly un-resolve everything and instead resolve to misbehave even more.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Sulu (a bionic hamster) and Crackers (a pterodactyl) in books 6-10 and 7-10 respectively, and Dawn, Orlando, and Tony (hybrids between a bionic hamster and a pterodactyl, created because Crackers and Sulu mated) in book 11 and onwards.
  • No-Respect Guy: A Running Gag in George and Harold's comics that overlaps with Skewed Priorities, where a kid tells an adult that the Villain of the Week has done something horrible to a set of products and the gym teacher, and of course, the adults are more concerned about the products' well-being than the gym teacher. Likely meant to be a Take That! towards George and Harold's own sadist gym teacher, Mr. Meaner.
  • Now Do It Again, Backwards: In book 6, Melvin says it'll take him six months to build a new machine that will reverse the effect of his Bionic Booger transformation. George suggests he should just flip the batteries around in his Combine-O-Thingy to switch back, to which Melvin dismisses that as "The dumbest thing he's ever heard." Later, George suggests the same thing to Mr. Sneedly, who once again dismisses it as stupid, but agrees to test it out on his son solely to show that it won't work. Sure enough, it works.
  • Oblivious Transformation: In book 7, Mr. Krupp and Melvin switch bodies, but neither of them realize it until they look in a mirror.
  • Obliviously Superpowered: Played with. For the first two books, Mr. Krupp's hypnotized persona Captain Underpants believed he had superpowers even though the former was just a normal man. He does gain actual superpowers starting in the third book, but since Mr. Krupp isn't aware of his alter-ego, he's completely unaware that he actually has superpowers.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • George and Harold, whenever someone snaps their fingers and Mr. Krupp's nearby.
    • Whenever someone busts them. The worst time this happened was when Mr. Krupp caught them pranking the football game on tape. This is the event that kicks off the whole series.
    • Another example was when they tricked Mr. Krupp and Ms. Ribble into marrying each other. When Mr. Krupp finally said he didn't want to marry her and that George and Harold set them up, George had one thing to say. "Time to go."
  • Old People are Nonsexual: In Book 8, George and Harold are both horrified by their grandparents' Big Damn Kiss.
  • Once an Episode: Indulged and occasionally played with by changing the pattern a bit.
    • Typically the books introduce George and Harold at the beginning. "George is the one with the tie and flat-top. Harold is the one with the striped shirt and bad haircut. Remember that now." Parodied in the kids' graphic novels: each one has a panel introducing two characters in the same fashion with one of the two saying, "Remember that now."
      • Also parodied in the fourth book, in which after Professor Poopypants changes everyone's names, the following chapter begins just like the first one, only calling George and Harold by their new names.
      • In the eighth book, the Mirror Universe George and Harold's introduction is slightly different, since they have the same hairstyles but their shirts are switched.
    • Also in George and Harold's comic books, when the Monster of the Week begins its rampage, a kid shows up to announce what terrible things just happened, with one of them always being the gym teacher being injured and the other some unimportant thing, such as knocking over a tray of cupcakes. An adult will always show concern for the less important one.
      Kids: Help! The Tattle-Tron 2000 just ran across the soccer field and squished the gym teacher!
      Prinsiple: OH NO! We just planted that grass!
    • Every book includes the line "But before I tell you that story, I have to tell you this one."
    • There is always a chapter called "To Make A Long Story-Short." One book had a chapter called "To Make a Longer Story Even Shorter."
    • There's always a "Flip-O-Rama" section for the action sequences. Usually with someone telling the reader not to do it and that they will be punished if they do.
    • In books 2-5, the reader will be told to do some silly thing, usually involving making your own sound effects. At the back of each book, Harold and George apologize for potentially getting the reader in trouble for following this instruction, and offer to send them "something fun" to make up for it.
  • Once More, with Clarity: In book 9, in the original timeline where Kipper and his gang run away from the school, the page next to them is noticeably without any text. Later, when shown the altered timeline, Tippy Tinkletrousers appears in the formally blank page.
  • One-Paragraph Chapter: A Running Gag in the books is a chapter consisting only of a two- to four-word sentence confirming that the sequence of events that needed to happen, as explained at the end of the previous chapter, happened.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: When George and Harold are replaced by robots, Mr. Krupp suspects something is wrong solely because the boys aren't misbehaving. He says he knows they are up to something and that if they don't stop following all the rules at once they will be in big trouble.
  • Overly Literal Transcription: In Book 5, Ms. Ribble makes every student in her class write goodbye cards for her retirement by copying the poem she wrote on the chalkboard, which ends with a "your name here" fill-in. Most of the students are shown copying verbatim the "your name here" part.
  • Overly Long Scream: At the beginning of Book 10, when Tippy Tinkletrousers was about to be stepped on, he screamed in terror. And screamed... and screamed... and checked his watch and screamed some more.
  • Overly Pre-Prepared Gag: In one of the later novels, Mr. Krupp is getting married, whereupon it is revealed that he is Jewish. George and Harold are invited to the wedding, and the Rabbi warns them not to pull any of their usual tricks on Mr. Krupp during his big day. The sole purpose of this character in the narrative is so that George and Harold can respond to him by saying "Silly rabbi, tricks are for kids!"
  • Page-Turn Surprise:
    • Captain Underpants, George, and Harold jump out of the UFO in book 3. Captain Underpants believes that he can zipline with the toilet paper, but the narration then states that the toilet paper of course snapped and the three heroes were killed instantly. Then you turn the page and it says "Just kidding."
    • Book 6 really builds up to Melvin's Bionic Booger Boy form, with the page before its debut being a straight up warning that the reader must prepare themselves for the unfathomably disgusting thing they will witness once they turn the page.
    • The end of Book 9 expresses some End-of-Series Awareness and says "There are no more Captain Underpants books..." The next page is nothing but a silent two-page spread of Scenery Gorn. The page after that, however, is a teaser for the actual final book, accompanied with the text, "...except for this one:"
  • Painting the Medium: When George and Harold tricked the cafeteria ladies into making a baking-soda-and-vinegar explosion, the resulting tidal wave of foam obscured most of the text on the page; the reader is prompted to make their own special effects for the explosion by shaking the book and yelling "KABLOOOOOOSH!" The back of the book even has an apology and address for you to send a letter to if you got in trouble for yelling that, with the promise that "we'll send you something fun!" note 
  • Parental Bonus: If you read these books as an adult, you'll probably be surprised to see that most of the jokes that aren't just Toilet Humor are actually pretty clever. A lot of them are ones that the kids will skip right over and have the parents guffawing, especially over ones that were set up many chapters before the punchlines were delivered.
    • One particularly good gag has George and Harold getting sent to juvie hall in Book 9, and find it surprisingly similar to elementary school, except that unlike elementary school, juvenile hall actually has music teachers, art class, and a well-stocked library.
    • A conversation between Mr. Krupp and the three aliens he's interviewing in Book 3, who have disguised themselves as lunch ladies.
      Mr. Krupp: Do you have any experience?
      Alien: No.
      Mr. Krupp: Do you have any credentials?
      Alien: No.
      Mr. Krupp: Do you have any references?
      Alien: No.
      Mr. Krupp: You're hired!
    • Book 12 always blatantly makes fun of the Republican Party (AKA the Grand Old Party, which is often abbreviated to the GOP), by having a council of Grouchy Old People who all watch the Fox News Channel and want to get rid of all the violence in the Captain Underpants books...and their acronym is also GOP. Now, what kid would even get that?
    • In Book 12, all of the explosions sound like celebrities' names. CHEFF-GOAL'D BLOOOM!
  • Parents as People: Melvin's parents are shown to be too busy to spend time with their son. Melvin is, however, shown to still love them. This is one of his redeeming qualities.
  • Partially-Concealed-Label Gag: In George and Harold's comic about the lunch ladies, a teacher accidentally creates zombies by burying the dead lunch ladies on a hill with a sign saying "bury dead stuff here". After he leaves, lightning strikes a tree covering the sign, revealing it said: "Warning: this hill is haunted. Whatever you do, DON'T bury dead stuff here."
  • Person as Verb: In Book 9, George saved Harold from the bullies by taking off his tie and proceeding to "Indiana Jones" them (i.e. whip their butts).
  • Pineapple Ruins Pizza: A subtle variation in Book 8. Evil George and Evil Harold explain in their origin comic that they had Captain Blunderpants steal them a pizza (which is apparently the worst crime in the world), but then ask where the pineapple is. Cue Blunderpants stealing them a single pineapple and slicing it onto their pizza.
  • Pint-Sized Kid: The kids are portrayed as extremely small, to the point that George and Harold don't reach much (if any) higher than the average adult's legs.
  • Prisoner Performance: In the Piqua State Penitentiary, on the night of the unveiling of Warden Schmorden's giant statue, the prison band plays a deeply moving rendition of "Whoomp! (There It Is)".
  • Proportional Article Importance: A running gag in the first few books was that a kid would notice whatever bizarre events were befalling Captain Underpants, only that when he tried to point them out to his mother, she'd ask him how she was expected to believe that-while reading something that was nearly as strange, such as a tabloid newspaper with the headline "Bigfoot gives birth to 200 pound UFO baby". The fourth book had the pair appear twice—the second time, the kid decided not to tell his mother about the giant robot fighting a giant man in his underwear.
  • Power-Up Food:
  • Punny Name: The school teachers and staff — Benny Krupp (bankrupt), Ms. Edith Anthrope (Eat it and throw up and misanthrope), Ms. Tara Ribble (miserable and terrible), Mrs. DePoint (misses the point), Miss Creant (miscreant), Mr. Rected (misdirected), Mr. Morty Fyde (mystified and mortified), Miss Singerbrains (missing her brains), Ms. Anita Calculator (miscalculator, I need a calculator), Mr. Kenny B. Meaner (misdemeanor, can he be meaner?), Miss Labeler (mislabeler), Ms. Guided (misguided), Miss Fitt (misfit), Ms. Zurry (misery), and Mr. Rustworthy (mistrustworthy).

  • Read the Freaking Manual: George and Harold misplace the manual to the 3D Hypno-Ring, so they don't know how to dehypnotize Mr. Krupp. They end up dumping water on his head. At the end of the book, they find the manual and throw it away, since they figure they'll never need it again. As it's going into the trash can, the reader sees that it warns against doing exactly what they just did with the water, since this will make Mr. Krupp turn back into Captain Underpants whenever he hears a finger snap.
  • Real Event, Fictional Cause: Several examples in book 10.
    • The dinosuars went extinct when Tippy Tinkletrousers was plummented to the Yucatan Peninsula.
    • The Ice Age was caused when Tippy's freeze ray gun malfunctioned.
    • The Big Bang occurred because Crackers and Sulu transported Tippy's ginormous bomb 13.7 billion years into the past, and when it exploded it caused the universe to form.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: At the end of the first book, the school football team changes the team's name to the Purple Dragon Sing-Along Friends after a video they saw. In-universe fans were stated to have disliked it, but no one actually argued with the team in front of their faces — for obvious reasons.
    Who would want to argue with a bunch of linebackers?
  • Recurring Extra: In books 3-5, Melvin has no plot relevance whatsoever, but he's featured as a background character in all those books.
  • Relax-o-Vision: The Incredibly Graphic Violence Flip-O-Rama chapters begin with a warning that the reader is advised to avoid them if they dislike very graphic violence. Book 5 takes this even further by stating that the chapter is so violent it is mandatory to skip it or the reader faces prosecution.
  • Repeat After Me: In the fifth book, Ms. Ribble writes a poem on the blackboard and finishes with "Signed, Your Name Here". She then makes all the students write the poem. But instead of writing their names, the students write "Your Name Here".
  • Revenge via Storytelling: In Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy - Part 1: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets, George and Harold get fed up with Melvin's constant tattling. So they create a Captain Underpants comic featuring Melvin as the villain: a tattletale kid who becomes the mayor and jails everyone for incredibly minor violations. After the jails get full, Melvin creates a hybrid giant robot suit/prison and imprisons people. Captain Underpants saves the day and defeats Melvin, sending him to his jail while freeing the others. Melvin himself gets angry after reading the comic and swears to get revenge on them both.
  • Rewriting Reality: In Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman, Captain Underpants falls to the effects of 'spray starch'... because that was what was in George and Harold's latest comic book. Later, to cure him, they write another comic telling him he can be freed from it by summoning the power of 'Underpanty World'. It works.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: A young George and Harold come up with a scheme to swap the locks of the school bully Kippy Krupp in order to take and put things into his locker. Later on, he realizes that it's just a prank and not the work of a poltergeist after suspecting that it's his lock that's the problem; assuming that someone's picking it instead of swapping it outright and gets a new lock. This throws a wrench into George and Harold's plans as he changed his habits as well by not letting go of his new lock.
  • Robot Me: In Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman, the titular antagonist builds evil robot copies of George and Harold: Robo-George and Harold 2000.
  • Running Gag:
    • Whenever a ridiculous suggestion comes up, a character will almost always say something along the lines of, "That can only happen in dumb children's books." Then they try the suggestion out anyway and it works!
    • Somehow, somewhere, a sign will always get its letters rearranged or knocked off to spell something ridiculous.
  • Running Gagged: The first four books have a Running Gag of the same little boy trying to tell his mom about the craziness he sees regarding the Captain Underpants adventures, yet his mom always being distracted and not believing him. After the fourth book, however, all their appearances are a twist on the original premise. Their next appearance at the end of the eighth book is exaggerated to the point where when the entire world is turned into an apocalyptic wasteland the mother is still so distracted reading her magazine that she doesn't notice. In books 10 and 12, it's flipped around so the mother is the one who sees the crazy thing, yet her son is distracted and doesn't believe her.
  • Sadist Teacher: Pretty much the whole staff of Jerome Horwitz Elementary School. With teachers like that, who needs bullies? However, in the fifth book, George and Harold turn Ms. Ribble into a subversion of this via Heel–Face Brainwashing. Also, Book 9 reveals that Harold's father walked out on the family when he was six, and Harold created Captain Underpants comics as a coping mechanism. Mr. Krupp in his Captain Underpants identity is a kind of Bumbling Dad Parental Substitute for both of the boys, but particularly Harold.
  • San Dimas Time: The fifth and tenth books play this one completely straight. The entire plot of the tenth book depends upon at least three nested time loops resulting in the extinction of the dinosaurs, the Ice Age, and the creation of the universe respectively!
  • Scare 'Em Straight: To stop Kipper Krupp and his gang from bullying the kindergarteners, George and Harold staged an elaborate prank about a ghost called Wedgie Magee. This results in Kipper and his gang turning over a new leaf and allowing the kindergarteners to bully them in retribution.
  • Secondary Character Title: George and Harold are the main characters. Captain Underpants is just their hypnotized principal.
  • Self-Deprecation: The Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People's Mirror Universe plot, when realized by George and Harold, was remarked by them as something "That only happens in children's book where the author is clearly running out of ideas."
  • Sequel Hook:
    • Book one ends with it being revealed for the first time that Mr. Krupp will turn back into Captain Underpants every time he hears finger snapping; meaning there are much more Captain Underpants adventures yet to come.
    • Starting with book six, these happened every book:
      • Bionic Booger Boy Part 1: Nasty Nostril Nuggets: Melvin and Mr. Krupp have their minds swapped, and the Robo-Boogers destroy the Combine-O-Tron 2000 and chase everyone.
      • Bionic Booger Boy Part 2: Ridiculous Robo-Boogers: George and Harold attempt to travel in time for the second day in a row.
      • Purple Potty People: Tippy Tinkletrousers returns seeking revenge.
      • Tippy Tinkletrousers: Tippy apparently dies.
      • Radioactive Robo-Boxers: Melvin Sneedly returns to bring the gang back to the present. The next book revealed he did this so George and Harold could deal with the Turbo Toilet 2000.
      • Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000: Lampshaded big time. While the Turbo Toilet 2000 was permanently stopped, there are still two Georges and Harolds as a result of time travel shenanigans, the town is in ruins from the rampage, the mutant babies of Sulu and Crackers have hatched, and think the boys are their parents and most if not all the teachers of their school have been sent to jail and or the loony bin.
      "I guess there are a lot of loose ends in this story."
      "Uh-oh. That can only mean one thing!"
      "Another SEQUEL!!"
  • Series Fauxnale: The Tenth book was advertised as the last Captain Underpants book ever. You can guess what happened. At the time it was intended to be the last book, but while writing it Pilkey realized that there were still unresolved plot threads he had been unable to address, and thus wrote two more books to resolve all loose ends.
    • Although this turned out to not be the case, there's also this message from Dav Pilkey:
      Dav Pilkey: Even though I have stated that the next book, Captain Underpants #12 will be the LAST Captain Underpants book, you probably shouldn't believe me. I wouldn't.
  • Severely Specialized Store: Inverted in Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman: To help Captain Underpants regain his powers, George and Harold need to get some fabric softener to counteract the spray starch that took them away. They run to a new store that opened nearby, which turns out to be "Everything EXCEPT Fabric Softener".
  • Shout-Out:
  • Show Within a Show: In-universe, "Captain Underpants" is a comic George and Harold make and pass out to their classmates.
  • Shrink Ray: the Shrinky-Pig 2000, invented by Professor Poopypants. He also invented the Goosy-Grow 4000, the inverse.
  • Signs of Disrepair: Every book opens with George and Harold rearranging the letters around on a sign to say something silly. The boys also use this trope as a running gag in their comic books.
  • Skewed Priorities: George and Harold are so dedicated to doing the Signs of Disrepair gag at the start of every book that even when they're being chased by three robot boogers, they have to stop to screw with a sign.
  • Snap Back: At the end of book 5, George and Harold become bald, but by the next book their hair has fully grown back, even though it definitely hasn't been long enough for that to happen. This may also apply to Ms. Ribble, but she could still be wearing the wig she had on at the end of book 5.
  • Sneeze of Doom: In book 6, Melvin tries to combine himself with a bionic robot, but accidentally sneezes during the five-second-preparation period, turning himself into the Bionic Booger Boy.
  • Something Only They Would Say: When Melvin comes to class after being transformed into the Bionic Booger Boy, it's only when he gargles "You are so immature" do his classmates realize it's him.
  • Space Whale Aesop: The moral of Professor Poopypants is: Don't make fun of people's names, or they'll shrink you to the size of a bug and make YOU change your name to something ridiculous to make themselves feel better. Although this could also be interpreted as "Don't make fun of people, because what goes around comes around."
  • Spaghetti Kiss: Parodied in The All-New Captain Underpants Extra-Crunchy Book o' Fun 2's "The Night of the Terror of the Revenge of the Curse of the Bride of Hairy Potty", complete with Hairy Potty rolling a urinal cake with his nose.
  • Spandex, Latex, or Leather: This trope is played with by George and Harold while conceiving the concept of Captain Underpants - as such spandex wearers end up looking like they're in their underwear, they made Captain Underpants' costume Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Sparse List of Rules: In the fifth book, the school reveals it has the Big Book O' Rules, with nearly 8000 rules. We only hear two: "Rule 411: Don't kick school property into space", and "Rule 7,734: Don't transform into big, flying robots during afternoon recess." One has to wonder what exactly happened in the past of Jerome Horwitz Elementary that made them include those.
  • Spin-Off: Three as of this writing — Super Diaper Baby, Ook and Gluk, and Dog Man.
  • Spiteful Gluttony: In "The Terrifying Re-Turn of Tippy Tinkletrousers", when Kipper and his gang of bullies steal pizza from the kindergarteners, George and Harold buy a new pizza - with ghost peppers. After the bullies steal the second pizza, Kipper and his pals eat in front of the kids, bragging about how they can't have any of it. And then they have to run for water for their burning mouths.
  • Split-Personality Switch Trigger: Mr. Krupp turns into Captain Underpants whenever he hears someone snap their fingers, and Captain Underpants turns back into Mr. Krupp whenever he gets water poured on his head.
  • Spoiler Cover: In book 6. Before Melvin's Bionic Booger Boy form was shown, the page before it was straight up a warning about how unfathomably disgusting Melvin will look, and how the reader must prepare themselves before turning the page... except the warning is a tad bit redundant considering we already know exactly what Melvin's Bionic Booger form looks like, as it was shown on the cover.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Title: Despite Captain Underpants being in the name of every book and usually front and center on the cover, George and Harold are the real protagonists. The most egregious being the cover of Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People — Captain Underpants is front and center on the cover and yet only appears in the book itself for about 12 pages.
    • In the books themselves, The Terrifying Revenge of Tippy Tinkletrousers. Captain Underpants and Tippy Tinkletrousers are important on the cover, and yet 90% of the book focuses on young George and Harold redeeming their school bully.
      • To put it in perspective, the first eight chapters focused on Tippy escaping from jail and discovering Captain Underpants's secret. Then, the focus switches to the bully story and Tippy doesn't return until the thirty-first chapter of this thirty-four-chapter book.
    • The Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People originally had the sub-title The Clash of the Colossal Kung-Fu Monkeys from Beyond Infinity. Said titular creatures were going to appear in the book's proposed second part, which later became its own book and then went into Development Hell and changed entirely.
  • Square-Cube Law: Played with in Books 9 and 10 — in Book 9, the giant zombie nerds appeared to have crushed Tippy Tinkletrousers in the ending. The following book explains how the square-cube law works before revealing that the giants were moving slow enough to allow Tippy to fake his death.
  • Staring Kid: A recurring character who always tries to point out the titular superhero's antics to his mom, but she never believes him.
    • He and his mother make an appearance in Book 9 as the people who tell Tippy Tinkletrousers about what happened since he changed the past.
    • They make a cameo in book 10, in which their roles are reversed — the mother is the one who sees something strange, and her son doesn't believe her.
  • Stylistic Suck: George and Harold's comic books look like they were drawn by actual fourth-graders, with messy handwriting and drawings, misspelled words, and spacing issues.
    • Inverted by their Evil Twins' in Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People, whose comics have clean drawings with proper spelling and neat handwriting. George and Harold see their comics and comment that it looks bad with some misspelled words.
    • Exaggerated with Kindergartener!George and Harold's comic books. The pictures are even cruder and the words are much larger, that they take up so much space.
    • In The Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000, chapters 6 and 7 are illustrated by Timmy Swanson, age four, whose characters resemble misshaped blobs with stick-figure fingers and limbs.
  • Sucky School: Jerome Horwitz Elementary. It's badly funded, discourages individuality and creativity, and the staff are all idiots, jerks, or idiotic jerks. It even provides the page image for this trope.
  • Superheroes Wear Tights: Parodied by the titular Captain Underpants, who instead of wearing skin-hugging tights with Underwear of Power, is simply unclothed aside from a pair of underpants.
  • Super Serum: Extra Strength Super Power Juice.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: In book 11, George and Harold figure out a way that they can achieve the common childhood dream of skipping school without anyone noticing. The first night, it works out great, with them enjoying food delivery and staying up and sleeping late. Except, when they wake up, they realize the impractical consequences of not going to school. Firstly, both their moms work from home, and since they believe their sons are at school, the boys have essentially imprisoned themselves inside their treehouse, not being able to leave to even use the bathroom. They figure out they can pee in soda bottles and dump the urine out the window, but, with a surprising amount of common sense, they both understand that that isn't really a good long-term solution. Also, since they're fourth graders, that one delivery already cost them all their money and they don't have any food left. Skipping school causes so many problems they actually have to go back there, albeit briefly to get more money by selling a comic book.
  • Take That!:
    • In response to the Captain Underpants books being constantly challenged by self-appointed Moral Guardians, later books depict the school library as being almost completely devoid of books, with Ms. Singerbrains discouraging reading and posting anti-reading signs on the shelves encouraging mindless conformity. Furthermore, Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People features a trip to an alternate universe where the school library is stocked with books and the librarian encourages creativity and non-conformity.
    • Boomer the Purple Dragon is watched by Harold's younger sister, and eventually became Harold's school team's mascot after they got inspired.
    • In-universe example: George and Harold have gerbils being driven into homicidal maniacs because they were being forced to listen to Cher in one of their comics. In the Spanish prints, Cher was replaced by Julio Iglesias.
      Captain Underpants: This would make anybody turn evil.
    • The ENTIRE SERIES is easily a huge jab to the author's teachers, particularly memorable ones like the one who told him to grow up and stop making silly comic books, or the principal who told him he would never make a living as an artist. This is also a large reason for the "death to the gym teacher" Running Gag.
    • The chapters which take place in prison early in Book 9 enjoy drawing parallels between prison and elementary school, the primary difference being that prison has better funding.
    • The 10th book's first chapter is dedicated to explaining to the child readers why adults are so mean to them and why they would rather blame other people or things (like the kids) for problems that are their fault.
    • The 12th book's second chapter is dedicated to not offending older people (called "grouchy old people", or the "GOP"), by eliminating words like "poop", and constantly referencing things they like, such as Bob Evans Restaurants, and FOX News. The next chapter then goes on to criticize how human evolution led to annoying things like car alarms, leaf blowers, and spray-on hair, and how we built dangerous weapons like nuclear warheads and then had the codes controlled by politicians.
    • The warning before the Flip-O-Rama of the fourth book says, "If you are easily offended, or if you tend to blame all of society's evils on TV shows and cartoon characters, please run to your nearest supermarket and get a life."
    • In the fourth book, When Professor Poopypants tests the Shrinky Pig 2000 on a pile of garbage, among said garbage is a copy of Love You Forever.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • This is what kicks off the initial conflict in the very first book. After they prank the school football game, Harold worries that they might get caught, to which George replies, "Don't worry. We covered our tracks really well. There's no way we'll get busted!" The title of the very next chapter? "Busted".
    • At the end of Book 8, Harold asks "What could be worse than going to jail for the rest of our lives?". Then Tippy Tinkletrousers returns for revenge against the world again.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: George and Harold's pets are Crackers the pterodactyl and Sulu the bionic hamster.
  • Title Drop:
    • In books one, two, and five, the title of the comic book that George and Harold write is the same as the novel itself.
    • In the twelfth chapter of book three, the evil aliens are described as "incredibly naughty cafeteria ladies from outer space", and the sixteenth chapter is called "The Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds".
    • The fourteenth chapter of the fourth book is called "The Perilous Plot".
    • In the eighth book, the comic book that Evil George and Harold write is called "The Preposterous Plight of Captain Blunderpants", and Evil George and Harold and Captain Blunderpants's bank robbery are called a "preposterous plight".
    • In the eleventh book, the Turbo Toilet tells George and Harold, who is disguised as Talking Toilets, "my tyrannical retaliation is at hand!"
  • Toilet Humour: Pretty much the entire point of the series. For one, the titular superhero runs around wearing nothing but a cape and his undergarments, the main villains of Books 2 and 11 are evil toilets, and the main antagonist of Book 6 has a snot-and-boogers theme.
  • Trilogy Creep: Parodied by the end of the eleventh novel, since the tenth was marketed as the "final book"
    Not another sequel!
  • Underwear of Power: The very concept of the title character, even in-universe, is a parody of superheroes that look like they're flying around in their underwear by being a superhero that actually flies around in his underwear.
  • Undignified Death: Discussed in the third book. When it seems like George and Harold will inevitably die from being eaten by a mutated dandelion, they lament how ridiculous that sounds and speculate that people would giggle at their funeral.
  • Unfortunate Names: In the fourth book, everyone in the country of New Swissland has a silly name, most notably Professor Poopypants. When he comes to America, everyone laughs at his ridiculous name. After reaching his breaking point, the professor creates the Name Change-O-Chart, which he forces everyone on earth to use to take an unfortunate name.
    • For example, Mr. Krupp is shocked at his new name (Lumpy Pottybiscuits), while George and Harold (Fluffy Toiletnose and Cheeseball Wafflefanny) frown with embarrassment.
    • After he's defeated, Professor Poopypants changes his name to Tippy Tinkletrousers, which is just as embarrassing.
  • Unholy Ground: The third book, the one with the long title about the lunch ladies, had a very good page image about the hill where they buried the lunch ladies being haunted.
  • Unusual Chapter Numbers: Book 3 has a Chapter 6½, while Book 5 has a Chapter 14½ and a Chapter 14¾.
  • Villain Decay: Mr. Krupp goes from being a Knight of Cerebus to being an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain once George and Harold brainwash him into being Captain Underpants.
  • A Villain Named "Z__rg": The aliens in the third book are called Zorx, Klax and Jennifer.
  • Water-Triggered Change: Mr. Krupp, who has been hypnotized to think he is Captain Underpants, snaps out of the hypnosis and reverts to his normal personality when he touches water.
  • Weaksauce Weakness:
    • Captain Underpants loses his power whenever someone pours water over his head. Likewise, his evil counterpart turns back to normal when someone snaps their fingers. For the record, this means that the only thing that can remove the Captain's powers is a substance that covers seventy percent of the planet's surface, and his counterpart can be defeated by a poetry slam.
      Tippy Tinkletrousers: You've got to be the easiest superhero to defeat!
    • In Book 5, Captain Underpants loses his powers from starch. Downplayed example, in that due it being established as his weakness in a previous comic book, he only thinks he's been depowered. After a hasty illustration of his origins and in turn giving him the ability to undo said weakness by "summoning the Power Of Underpantyworld", he recovers immediately through simply saying those words.
  • Wedgie: Captain Underpants uses Wedgie Power in most of his comics.
  • We Interrupt This Program: Occurs midway through book five. Right when George and Harold are about to hypnotize Ms. Ribble, the chapter is literally interrupted by a news report saying that the Hypno rings have just been recalled because they make a woman do the opposite of what she has been hypnotized into doing.
  • Wham Episode: Book 3. Captain Underpants gets superpowers for real!
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: ("Every time you say something like that, something bad happens!")
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Discussed in Pilkey's first Flip-o-Rama Workshop, where Dav mentions how parents would be quick to object if your Flip-o-Rama depicted a human being attacked, and offers making the attacked subject a robot or monster as a quick work-around.
  • When Elders Attack: Geezer Powers - ACTIVATE!!
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers. Most of the books showcases how George and Harold first met in preschool.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Professor Poopypants. He sets out to cause mayhem and destruction, all because he has a terrible name and is constantly teased because of it.
  • World of Jerkass: Pretty much every adult in the series (especially the teachers) is portrayed as a horrible, cruel person.
  • Worst News Judgement Ever: The resigning of Jerome Horwitz Elementary School's science teacher somehow becomes the top story in US Today.
  • Worst Wedding Ever: Parodied in Book 5. During their wedding ceremony that was secretly set up as a prank by George and Harold, Mr. Krupp and Ms. Ribble finally come to the realization that they were played for fools by two of their own students and call the wedding off, but not before Ms. Ribble smashes the concessions stand out of anger, causing all the students in the wedding ceremony to get coated and stained with snacks.
  • Writing Lines: George and Harold had to do this in detention for pranking the school's Invention Convention in Book 2 after they were banned from participating — Mr. Krupp told them to copy the long sentence "I will never do anything which angers my handsome and charming Principal, Mr. Krupp, ever, ever again" for two hours a day after school in the detention room until every chalkboard in the room was filled completely. Since the punishment was "nothing new" to the two troublemakers, they were long prepared for this and used some homemade wooden chalk-holder poles to complete the required task in "about three and a half minutes". This becomes a Brick Joke at the end of the book, where the teachers and Mr. Krupp were forced to write sentences in the detention room while the students they tormented had fun outside under George and Harold's Principals for the Day policy.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: In the third book, Captain Underpants thinks a roll of double-ply toilet paper can support his, George's, and Harold's weights at the same time, as his comic-book counterpart swung from a roll-on toilet paper in the book the lunch ladies showed Mr. Krupp earlier in the novel. Guess what happens.
  • Wrong Restaurant: In one book, the author suggests ordering a cheeseburger at a shoe store. This becomes a Brick Joke later on when Captain Underpants returns after a short absence and explains that he was at a shoe store, ordering a cheeseburger.
  • You Just Had to Say It: At the end of The Proposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People Harold claims everything worked out well nicely.
    George: Haven't you paid attention in these books? Whenever someone says something like that, a bunch of bad stuff happens!
    Harold: But what could possibly go wrong now?
    [the police show up]
    Police: Freeze! You guys are under arrest for robbing the bank!note  Looks like you're going to jail for the rest of your lives!
    George: You gotta stop saying stuff like that.
  • You Look Like You've Seen a Ghost: Tippy Tinkletrousers says this to the bullies right after (a) the bullies have been scared away by a fake ghost, and (b) Tippy materializes before them.
  • Younger Than They Look: Kipper, Loogie, Finkstein, and Bugg are only sixth graders, but they could easily pass off as high schoolers.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Bionic Booger Boy, Part 1 appears to have a happy ending (taken even further by the chapter name), but it just leads to a Sequel Hook.
  • Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: George and Harold don't realize that Crackers is female until she lays eggs.

George: Oh no!
Harold: Here We Go Again!