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  • Accent Depundent:
    • Calvin writes for a homework assignment that lords and vassals lived in a "futile" system, only for Hobbes to point out that it's spelled "feudal". These two words are usually pronounced the same in American English, but it doesn't work if "futile" is pronounced as "few-tile".
    • One of Calvin's poems rhymes "macabre" with "job", which only works in dialects that have the father-bother merger and drop the "r" sound (which is retained in British English).
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  • Accidentally Correct Writing: One early Sunday strip has Calvin's dad reading him Little Red Riding Hood, with Calvin repeatedly insisting the wolf be a tiger instead, leading to Calvin's dad angrily ending the story with the wolf/tiger eating Red and living happily ever after, which Calvin and Hobbes both prefer to the real ending. Not only is there a very similar story in East Asia ("Grandaunt Tiger") that features a tiger as the antagonist instead of a wolf and may have been inspiration for the western Red Riding Hood story, but the original Charles Perrault version of Little Red Riding Hood lacked a happy ending and ended with the wolf eating Red, with the Huntsman ending being added by The Brothers Grimm in their Lighter and Softer version, making Dad's ending Truer to the Text.
  • Accidentally Correct Zoology: This strip has the "Calvinosaurus", a monstrous giant carnosaur which eats sauropods... and happens to bear resemblance to a sauropod-hunting carnosaur that would be discovered a few years later and become well-known for usurping T. rex in size, known as Giganotosaurus. Though this is canceled out by the fact that Giganotosaurus lived in the Cretaceous and is actually not much bigger than Tyrannosaurus itself, while Calvinosaurus lived in the Jurassic and is ridiculously enormous to the point of eating the largest sauropods in a single bitenote .
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!:
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    • In no strip did Calvin ever say "God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I am so far behind that I will never die."
    • There exists a bootleg T-shirt of Calvin scowling and saying: "Every day, I'm forced to add another name to the list of people who piss me off." For obvious reasons, this quote never appeared in the strip.
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: One Sunday strip where Calvin imagines he's Godzilla refers to Megalon as "his arch-rival". Megalon is actually one of Godzilla's lesser foes and has only appeared in one movie total out of thirty-plus; he's fought Mothra, generally considered one of his allies, more often than he's fought Megalon.note  This can possibly be justified by Calvin just having watched the one movie that afternoon and made up facts himself afterwards.
  • Creator Backlash:
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    • Bill has admitted that he wasn't always satisfied with the results of certain strips, such as the Sunday comic where Calvin imagined himself as a capricious or even malevolent god, mainly because the artwork was hampered by Sunday panel restrictions, forcing him to clutter up smaller panels and waste space in others.
    • In The Calvin and Hobbes 10th Anniversary Book, Bill admitted that the title story arc in Weirdos from Another Planet was a little too preachy and heavy handed in its environmental message for his liking. He also wasn't pleased with how the backgrounds on Mars came out, considering them too cartoony and overdone.
    • In the same book, he admitted the dinosaur artwork in early Calvin and Hobbes comics does not stack up compared to how he depicted them later, mainly because he got the anatomy and specific behavior of the creatures all wrong. (In another context, though, he observed that it was convenient that he didn't actually need any more scientific knowledge than a lazy six-year-old.)
    • He also stated that the story arc in Scientific Progress Goes "Boink" where Calvin's gravity reverses, then he begins growing uncontrollably wasn't very good in retrospective, because the concept wasn't very interesting as a story and it was just silly nonsense with little point.
    • Watterson expressed some regret at insisting he get to lay out Sunday strips however he pleased. It was difficult to come up with ideas that didn't use the syndicate-standard layouts but still provided a logical path for the eye. The new Sunday strips also took two or three times longer to for him to draw than the old ones did.
    • He has also openly expressed regret for the way he depicted Calvin's parents, mainly showing their reactions to Calvin's antics. This mainly came from fan mail criticizing them for being unloving and uncaring. The strip ran at a time before audiences accepted parents being portrayed as flawed human beings. However, he admits that they've done a better job trying to raise Calvin than he probably would have.
  • Creator Breakdown: The combination of fighting Universal Press Syndicate over his refusal to merchandise the strip and his drawing additional stories and poems for the book collections in addition to the regularly scheduled strips was so grueling for Watterson that he had to take two sabbatical breaks and nearly quit producing the strip altogether halfway through its run.
  • Creator's Favorite: A non-character example. Watterson's favorite collection was Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat, simply because he loved the title name so much.
  • Creator's Favorite Episode:
    • Watterson loved the arc where Hobbes cuts Calvin's hair. He rarely laughed while drawing, but he did when he showed the results of Calvin's haircut. The story also introduced Tracer Bullet. As Watterson said, "would that I could write like this more often."
    • The first duplicate arc, where Calvin creates five duplicates who all frame him for the chaos they cause, is one of Watterson's favorites because of how much it spun out of control and surprised him.
  • Creator's Pest: Watterson regretted creating the short lived character of Uncle Max for the strip, feeling it was a failed attempt to bring something new out of Calvin, but it just went nowhere because he had no real chemistry with Calvin, and it was awkward for him to not being able to call Calvin's parents by their names. After a brief story arc with him, Max was put on a plane and permanently vanished from the comic.
  • Defictionalization:
    • There actually is a band called Le Scrambled Debutante. They're kinda... out there.
    • The strip in which Calvin provides: "Yakka foob mog. Grug pubbawup zink wattoom gazork. Chumble spuzz." as Newton's First Law "in his own words" inspired a comic book called Chumble Spuzz, by the artist of Axe Cop.
    • Someone actually wrote a book called ''Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie". The Author claims that it has nothing to do with Calvin and Hobbes, but she has the exact same first name as the fictional author of the book, so... Needless to say, most Calvin and Hobbes fans were not amused.
    • A decade after the series where Calvin and Hobbes traveled to Mars, NASA landed the Pathfinder probe on Mars. Scientists gave nicknames to the various rocks in the pictures that were sent back. Two of the rocks were called "Calvin" and "Hobbes."
    • Despite Watterson's merchandising ban on the series, Regit the Tiger is a stuffed tiger produced and sold by the company Attatoy that looks very similar to Hobbes. There's even a thinly-veiled Take That! to Calvin and Hobbes, saying that Regit is "better than an imaginary friend!"
    • In the Tenth Anniversary Book, Watterson discussed this idea when outlining his position against merchandising Calvin and Hobbes. In particular, he noted that a real toy of Hobbes would never work since it can't properly reflect Hobbes's subjective reality.
  • Doing It for the Art:
    • Watterson was notorious for resisting every attempt to have his creations merchandised. This has had a two-edged effect on fans, depriving them of many bits of memorabilia that they'd love to have but at the same time preventing possible commercial oversaturation that has happened to other famous comic strips. Watterson's stance also made it much harder for him to sue bootleg merchandisers for copyright violations since it was more difficult to argue that he was being financially hurt by their actions. On the other hand, Watterson joked that the "peeing Calvin" stickers were his ticket to immortality, so he seems mildly amused by the bootleg merchandise at worst.
    • He also got into trouble with newspapers and syndicates for his strips, in particular his new Sunday strip layout which began following his first sabbatical. Usually, Sunday strips are 3 rows of panels. The first row contains the title, and usually a little panel that either contributes nothing or has its own "throwaway gag" that most newspapers remove, leaving the second two rows. He felt very constrained, and so he made use of the entire space with wild layouts of panels going all over the place, even having the entire thing be one panel, just so they'll be forced to run the whole strip. Although Watterson was criticised by other cartoonists for perceived arrogance and not abiding by the industry's normal practices, and some editors requested his syndicate reconsider the deal they had negotiated with Watterson to allow him to produce the nonstandard strips, only a very small number of newspapers cancelled the strip in response.
    • In the tenth anniversary commentary, Watterson stated that he put extra-long bonus stories in the treasuries because he personally felt they were otherwise redundant, as all the comics had already been printed in the annual books. He also chose to fully paint them with watercolours, just because he could, but it proved an insane amount of work together with having to draw and write more new comics every day and contributed to him going on an eventual hiatus.
  • Executive Veto: According to Watterson, the syndicate asked that he refrain from being overtly political with the strip. He complied by touching on social issues while not taking a heavy-handed approach to them; Calvin is very intelligent for his age and often raises questions about such things, but being a 6-year-old child, he doesn't have all the answers himself. This worked very well in the long run; Watterson's creation was thought-provoking without ever telling the reader what to think, and as such is beloved by audiences all across the ideological spectrum even today.
  • Fan-Work Ban:
    • Watterson has been quite clear: No Calvin and Hobbes merchandise, of any kind, EVER! Infamously, neither he nor the syndicate have cracked down on the ubiquitous, unauthorized Calvin-peeing-on-things stickers in any effective way...because, since there is no REAL merchandise, there is no profit in trying to stop it.
    • The lack of enforcement also works in favor of fans, too, since those who've always wanted their very own stuffed Hobbes can find loads of unofficial toys and patterns to create one online.
  • Half-Remembered Homage: Calvin's adventures as his alter-ego Tracer Bullet read like loving parodies of the film noir genre—except Watterson admitted in the 10th Anniversary retrospective book that he hadn't seen any noir films or read any hardboiled crime fiction beforehand. He was basically just riffing on genre tropes he'd picked up from seeing other noir parodies.
  • Inspiration for the Work:
    • The idea came from a rejected strip from Bill Watterson, whose cast included a younger brother with a stuffed tiger. He was told these two were the strip's strongest characters and to develop them. Watterson thus cut the rest of the cast and reworked the strip to star those two.
    • Spaceman Spiff, Calvin's space man fantasy, came from an earlier comic idea by Watterson, where Spiff was an obnoxious space adventurer who traveled around space with his dumb assistant Fargle in a dirigible. That concept traced itself to an earlier two page comic he wrote while bored in college German class.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes:
    • Since Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons (the last strip compilation in the original "square" format) was never reprinted in a treasury (which compiled comics from the previous two anthologies, and included the Sunday strips in color with bonus material), this was the only way to see the color versions of the Sunday strips between July 8, 1990 and April 10, 1991 until the release of the complete anthology.
    • Teaching with Calvin and Hobbes, a licensed textbook which also serves as one of the only pieces of official Calvin and Hobbes merchandise ever made, is described by Nevin Martell in his book Looking for Calvin and Hobbes as "perhaps the most difficult piece of official Calvin and Hobbes memorabilia to find", a fitting description given that its asking prices run up into five figures on websites like eBay. (There was a very limited print run of 2,500 copies, and it was strictly for sale to schools.)
  • Missing Episode:
    • A strip from November 28, 1985, involving Calvin trying to bathe in a washing machine, only appeared in a few papers. It did not show up in any of the anthologies, which had an alternate strip (Calvin saying dinner tastes like bat barf, being told to go to his room, then ordering a pizza); it's likely the change was out of concern that child audiences might try to bathe in a washing machine, which, for the uninitiated, would be lethal.
    • The original version of the August 28, 1988 strip was unprinted for many years, as the books used a specially redrawn version to fit the template of the books at the time. The original was eventually published in the Sunday Pages catalog.
  • No Adaptations Allowed: Unusually for such a popular comic strip, it has never had an Animated Adaptation. Official merchandise is also exceedingly rare (though bootleg material is common, such as the infamous "Peeing Calvin" decals). Bill Watterson won't allow adaptations for various reasons, including fear of loss of control over his work and a dislike for other comic strips getting adapted and marketed to the point of growing stale, such as Garfield and Peanuts.
  • Pop Culture Urban Legends:
    • There is a persistent rumor that the final strip has Calvin being on medication and no longer wanting to play with Hobbes, who turns back into a plush toy. The strip widely circulated online is a parody created by someone to make an anti-medication point, and has fooled a lot of people despite the font not looking like Watterson's handwriting, though the actual artist is unknown. The actual final strip adopts an And the Adventure Continues perspective.
    • During the late nineties, there was a rumor on a forum that there were plans to adapt an animated series featuring the voices of Charlie Adler as Hobbes, Tress MacNeille as Ms. Wormwood, and Bill Watterson himself as both Calvin and his dad.
  • Reality Subtext: Countless strips, were based on exchanges between Watterson and his syndicate. Notable examples include the Neo-Cubist and black-and-white Sunday strips, where the Art Shift was a metaphor for the two sides of the debates.
  • Reclusive Artist: Watterson always valued his privacy and rarely gave interviews when Calvin and Hobbes was running and would not allow journalists to take his photo note  or record his voice. He's spoken to exactly one journalist since the strip ended, in a short interview on Watterson's doorstep after the journalist was able to track him down and badgered him for the opportunity. People's speculation about his reclusiveness may have been blown out of proportion, however. He now paints landscapes and lives in suburban Cleveland and locals say that he is out and about and occasionally sneaks autographed copies of Calvin and Hobbes collections onto the local bookstore's shelves for fans to findnote , giving the impression of someone who simply prefers keeping to himself rather than shutting out the world altogether.
    • The only piece of art that he has released since ending the strip was an oil painting sold to charity in 2011, and he's only heard from every 2 or 3 years, whenever he writes a very brief review of a book or gives a very brief interview. His audio-only appearance in the 2014 documentary Stripped (which he also drew the poster for) marked the first time his voice had ever been publicly recorded!
    • During his political cartooning years, he did the same, as well as skipping award presentations in his honor and ignoring the demands of his superiors, no matter how minor. This reclusive nature seems to point to a personal issue with people rather than concern for the well-being of his craft.
    • He resurfaced in June 2014, collaborating with Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine on a short story arc.
    • The year before that he had produced an oil portrait of Petey Otterloop from Cul de Sac, for which he also has written a compilation foreword.
    • He's actually very friendly and verbose when corresponding via e-mail and he had a good-natured rivalry with Berkeley Breathed (of Bloom County) that consisted of them drawing lewd pictures and sending them to one another. This eventually culminated in a canonical crossover arc in 2021 where Opus helps Hobbes find a now-adult Calvin.
  • Science Marches On:
    • Several of Calvin's dinosaur fantasies featured a dinosaur called the "ultrasaur", which was a brachiosaur-type sauropod known as Ultrasauros that was getting buzz in pop science at the time as the "biggest dinosaur ever". Subsequently, Ultrasauros was found to be a probable chimera of Brachiosaurus and a diplodocid sauropod known as Supersaurus, and is now considered synonymous with the latter. Supersaurus, as a diplodocid (known for being very long and thin, rather than brachiosaurs' tendency to be tall and wide), is nowhere near the weight necessary to be in the running for "biggest dinosaur ever" to boot, though it may well have been among the longest.
    • One Sunday comic has Calvin narrating a story he wrote where Susie is eaten by a pack of Deinonychus. They're very accurate for their time and even predate Jurassic Park's iconic raptors, but just like Jurassic Park, they've since fallen under Raptor Attack with time, being depicted as both featherless and sophisticated pack-hunters.
    • In one arc, Calvin decides to do an assignment on the debate over whether Tyrannosaurus rex was an active predator or a scavenger. At the time, this was a serious question in the paleontological community; today, pretty much everyone agrees that the whole debate is a False Dichotomy since virtually no land carnivore only does one or the other (though T-rex was almost certainly more of a hunter than a scavenger; incidentally, Calvin also comes to the conclusion that it was a hunter, not that it helps him). He also refers to Tyrannosaurus as a carnosaur, which was the belief of the time that all large theropods were carnosaurs, but tyrannosaurs have subsequently been reclassified as coelurosaurs.
    • There are also a few minor anatomical mistakes in some of its depictions of prehistoric animals, such as sauropods depicted with nostrils on top of their foreheads, Stegosaurus with vertical tail spikes, and a Quetzalcoatlus with outdated proportions.
  • Screwed by the Network: A variation. Universal Press Syndicate was happy to keep running Calvin And Hobbes, but their inflexibility in accommodating Watterson, especially with alternate strip layouts, was a major contributing factor to his decision to kill the strip.
  • Series Hiatus: Watterson took two sabbaticals during the original run of the comic. The first lasted from May 6, 1991 until February 1, 1992. The second began on April 4, 1994 and lasted through the end of that year. After the first sabbatical, the format of the Sunday strips changed to the expanded and more dynamic format, and after the second sabbatical, Watterson made the decision to conclude the strip at the end of 1995. At the time, Watterson was one of the very few newspaper cartoonists popular enough to be encouraged to take breaks by his syndication (the only others being the creators of The Far Side and Doonesbury).
  • Short-Lived, Big Impact: Only had a run of 10 years, or technically 8 and a half years when Watterson's sabbaticals are taken into account. This is surprisingly short for such a successful comic strip, and absolutely no new strips or supplemental material (barring collections) have been made since — but it has still remained one of the most well-regarded, influential comic strips in the medium's entire history.
  • Shrug of God: Watterson's been very ambiguous with regards to Hobbes' true nature. He is real to Calvin, and a toy to everyone else, and which view is correct is entirely up to the reader. Part of the reason he never moved forward with an animated series was because he was afraid he'd have to provide a definitive answer on the matter.
  • Technology Marches On: Enough to get its own page.
  • Tribute to Fido: Hobbes was inspired by one of Bill Watterson's cats. He explains in the 10th Anniversary Book:
    "Hobbes was very much inspired by one of our cats, a gray tabby named Sprite. Sprite not only provided the long body and facial characteristics for Hobbes, she was also the model for his personality. She was good-natured, intelligent, friendly, and enthusiastic in a sneaking-up-and-pouncing sort of way."
  • Trope Namer:
    • Calvinball: A sport Calvin invented where all the rules are made up on the fly, because Calvin hates having to follow the strict rules of organized sports.
    • Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs: Calvin's favorite breakfast cereal, of which he proudly eats multiple bowls a day (occasionally with cola instead of milk), even though it makes him hyperactive as a result.
    • Cool, but Stupid: Indirectly, from the line "This is so cool!" "This is so stupid!"
    • Fuzz Therapy: How Calvin describes the mutual pleasure both he and Hobbes incur when he rubs the tiger's belly after a "rotten day."
    • Misery Builds Character: Often invoked by Calvin's Dad whenever he forces Calvin (or the family) to do something unpleasant. The line below is said by Calvin himself, parodying his own Dad. His mom nearly dies laughing. Dad scowls in reply, but admits that's pretty good.
      "Calvin, go do something you hate! Being miserable builds character!"
    • Most Common Super Power: The world of the strip itself does not contain examples; it's derived from Calvin and Hobbes discussing comic books:
      Hobbes: Is Amazon Girl's super power the ability to squeeze that figure into that suit?
      Calvin: Nah, they can all do that.
    • Noodle Incident: The mysterious "Noodle Incident." The story is just as fragmented and impenetrable in-universe; not even Santa Claus can piece it together. Calvin himself claims he was framed (on the few occasions he can even think about the event without having a panic attack.) Word Of God has said that he never actually went into detail about the Noodle Incident on purpose. Watterson had plans to before he ended the comic, but he then figured that no matter what he came up with, it would never be as hilarious as the many things that the readers could have thought about it.
    • Noodle Implements: By association from Noodle Incident.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Calvin was originally conceptualized with bangs and Hobbes' magical nature was just a very slight bit more explicit (as he was shown being sentient outside of Calvin's presence). He was also portrayed as a Cub Scout, a character trait which was present in the very earliest strips but quickly phased out.
    • Watterson wrestled, for many years, with the idea of creating an Animated Adaptation of the strip. Although he rejected all other merchandising immediately, he has great respect for animation and considers it to have potential and possibilities that comics simply can't have. In the end, though, he decided against it; he was proud of the strip being his creation alone with no other hands involved, he found it scary to think of his characters being given voices (which would inevitably fail to match the ones in his or his readers' heads), and he decided that, regardless of animation's possibilities, Calvin was designed to be a comic strip and a comic strip only, and would inevitably lose something if adapted. For what it's worth, Calvin and Hobbes did appear in a Robot Chicken skit in 2006, "Happy Birthday, Calvin".
    • Both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas personally called Watterson to ask about doing a film adaptation. Watterson refused both.
    • In his interview for Exploring Calvin and Hobbes, Watterson recollects a storyline that he scrapped involving Calvin meeting a kid on the playground who was supposed to be even weirder than him. The story never clicked with either himself or his wife, and he ended up tossing it (a rare occurrence, given the lost time rewriting material to keep ahead of deadlines); later, he realized that the character essentially changed Calvin's role in the strip, making him seem more normal and less of an outsider.
  • Why the Fandom Can't Have Nice Things: Watterson has reportedly either stopped signing printed collections in his local bookstores or severely dialed back the practice after some of the copies he signed were turning up on eBay.
  • The Wiki Rule: You betcha.
  • Write What You Know:
    • Calvin's Dad hobby of bicycling and the Chewing bubblegum magazine Calvin obsesses over are both based on Watterson's own love of bicycling and a Take That! towards the specialist bicycling magazines he came across. He was always careful to keep the strips from being only about cycling to prevent them from being too niche for a general audience, however.
    • The story arc where Calvin finds a dying baby raccoon was inspired by Watterson's wife finding a dead kitten. Similarly, the Sunday strip where Calvin and Hobbes find and grouse over a dead bird was based directly on Watterson finding a dead bird (with the sketch in the strip being the very same bird).
    • Calvin's camping trips are loosely based on Watterson's own childhood camping trips with his family (although the actual stories are mostly invented).
    • The story arc where Calvin tries and fails to build a miniature model airplane was inspired by Watterson, on a whim, buying a model airplane kit and similarly attempting to build it. He found it very frustrating, but he managed to get a few jokes from it.
    • Calvin wandering alone with Hobbes in the woods behind his house was based on Watterson's own childhood home, which opened up into a big forest where he used to explore as a kid. However, he notes his forest was more of a brambly swamp, while Calvin's woodlands are more like a national park.
    • Watterson has stated the story arc where Calvin tries to join the school baseball team was very much based on his own childhood memories and his ambivalence towards organized sports in general.
    • Calvin's treehouse G.R.O.S.S. adventures are stated to be based on a similar club Watterson and a neighbourhood friend had as children where they bugged the neighbourhood girls or Watterson's brother. However, he notes that their adventures often had boring, anticlimactic conclusions, so he made Calvin's much more entertaining.
    • The story arc where Calvin enters a poster contest at school was directly based on Watterson doing the same at school while he was a kid. Watterson got disqualified for plagiarism, because his poster was a drawing of Snoopy, but Calvin has the opposite problem of being too original.
    • Numerous examples of Calvin's Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness were based on Watterson's readings of New Age texts which he considered to be absurdly obtuse and pompous psychobabble, so he copied some of the worst of it down to make fun of in his strip.
  • Write Who You Know:
    • Calvin's dad is heavily based on Bill Watterson's father, though his appearance is based on Bill himself (minus the mustache).
    • Uncle Max looks exactly like that, minus the glasses. (Max was the brother of Calvin's dad, so family resemblance is justifiable.)
    • As noted in the tenth anniversary commentary, Susie Derkins has all the personality traits of Watterson's wife (although he says the name "Derkins" came from a friend's pet beagle).
    • It's also stated that, despite common assumption, Calvin himself was not based on Watterson himself as a kid, nor on one of his own children (because he didn't have any). If anything, it's inverted, because Watterson wrote Calvin to be basically the opposite of what he was like as a kid.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: Bill Watterson noted in commentary that when writing out a multi-part story, he doesn't think of an ending in conception because he prefers the story to flow organically. Sometimes it would create a storyline and resolution which would pleasantly surprise himself (such as the arc where Calvin decides to duplicate himself), but other times he would write himself into a corner.

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