Charlie Brown: Yes. You know how I always dread the whole year? Well, this time I'm only going to dread one day at a time.
Over Christmas break, Charlie Brown is assigned to read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. When Peppermint Patty invites him to a New Years party, he's torn between continuing to struggle with the Doorstopper and attending the party with everyone else. He particularly would like to go with the Little Red-Haired Girl, much to the annoyance and jealousy of Peppermint Patty.
Happy New Year, Charlie Brown contains examples of:
- Achievements in Ignorance: Rerun manages to blow up balloons to be cube-shaped, supposedly because he doesn't know that they're meant to be round.
- Appeal to Worse Problems: When Charlie Brown complains about how hard it is to read War and Peace, Linus replies by talking at length about how difficult it must have been for Tolstoy's wife to copy it seven times by candlelight, finishing with, "And you're telling me you can't even read it once?"
- All Love Is Unrequited: As usual for Peanuts. Charlie Brown fell asleep reading War and Peace, thus missing his opportunity to dance with the Little Red-Haired Girl at midnight. This also left Peppermint Patty without a dance partner. And because Linus danced with the Little Red-Haired Girl instead, Sally didn't get to dance with her "sweet baboo." At least Marcie got to kiss Charlie Brown at the end.
- Artistic License Education: No school would assign a book as long and complex as War and Peace to an eight-year-old, certainly not over winter break.
- The Ghost: Averted. The Little Red-Haired Girl is shown. She has the same name ("Heather") and appearance that she had in 1977's It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown.
- Help, I'm Stuck!: Charlie Brown's hand gets stuck in the Little Red-Haired Girl's mail slot while delivering Peppermint Patty's party invitation.
- Here We Go Again!: At the end, it turns out that they're reading Crime and Punishment next.
- Last Minute Project: Charlie Brown finished reading War and Peace at 3 AM on the day school resumed. He then wrote his book report, on which he got a D-minus.Charlie Brown: The teacher said it looked like the sort of report that was written after midnight on the last day of Christmas vacation.
Linus: What did you say?
Charlie Brown: What could I say? I congratulated her on her remarkable insight.
- New Year Has Come: Obviously. This is a New Years special, as evidenced by the title.
- New Year's Resolution: See page quote. Also, Charlie Brown earlier told Lucy that he was going to be "strong and firm" in the new year. After she replied that he would always be wishy-washy, he amended it to him being, "wishy one day and washy the next."
- One Steve Limit: A subtle aversion. Peanuts fans will recognize the girl operating the record player during musical chairs as the original Patty. This may be her most prominent appearance in a special featuring Peppermint Patty.
- Recycled Soundtrack: Some source music from The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show is used here.
- Sadist Teacher: Surely, any teacher who assigns War and Peace to an eight-year-old qualifies. And weirdly, Charlie Brown seems to be the only student who was given this ridiculous assignment.
- Tempting Fate: Charlie Brown worries about getting his hand caught in the Little Red-Haired Girl's mail slot and then someone opening the door on him. Linus tells him that he worries about "the most impossible things." Guess what happens next.
- Terrified of Germs: As always, Lucy is terrified of "dog germs." This time, she thinks she can see them with binoculars of all things.