It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles Schulz, first aired on CBS in 1966. It was the second of the holiday-themed Peanuts specials following the sensation that was A Charlie Brown Christmas, and is nearly as beloved today.
As night falls on Halloween, Linus is headed for the local pumpkin patch and, he hopes, the arrival of the Great Pumpkin — a Halloween analogue to Santa Claus that only he believes in. While he and Charlie Brown's sister Sally (who has a crush on him) wait on the Great Pumpkin, the other kids go trick-or-treating and attend a party. Meanwhile, Snoopy is off on his own pretending to be a World War I flying ace.
Followed (somewhat) by You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown, a 1972 special focusing on Linus' election campaign for class president, where he directly brings up the Great Pumpkin at a key moment. The two specials are paired together on some DVD releases, and since 2006 current TV rights holder ABC has followed its annual re-airings of It's the Great Pumpkin... with an edited version of You're Not Elected... to make a full hour-long block; this also works nicely as a tie-in to fall elections in the United States, which come about a week after Halloween.
It's the Great Trope, Charlie Brown:
- All Hallows' Eve: That being the holiday the gang is celebrating.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: After Lucy warns Linus to knock it off with his letter to the Great Pumpkin:Linus: There's three things I've learned never to discuss with people: politics, religion, and the Great Pumpkin.
- Bedsheet Ghost: Several kids go as one, including Charlie Brown, who had trouble with the scissors and cut out too many eyeholes.
- Berserk Button:
- At the end of the special, Charlie Brown tries to console Linus by relating, "I've also done a lot of stupid things in my life," causing Linus to angrily berate him through all of the Closing Credits.
- Sally after realizing that they've wasted Halloween night in a pumpkin patch (see Woman Scorned below).
- After Snoopy starts laughing when Linus writes a letter to the Great Pumpkin, Lucy threatens to pound Linus because his persistent belief in the Great Pumpkin embarrasses her reputation.
- Black and Grey Morality: As with Peanuts in general, everyone in the cartoon is mean to everyone around them or ends up getting hurt or angry in some way.note
- Bookends: The show starts with Linus and Lucy going out to the pumpkin patch in the daylight to get a pumpkin, and ends with Lucy going out to the patch in the middle of the night to retrieve Linus.
- Bootstrapped Theme: The music from the Cold Open, "Linus and Lucy," is often considered the Peanuts theme song.
- Bowdlerize: Recent ABC airings inexplicably mute Linus uttering the word "sucker". Presumably because of what it rhymes with, even though Linus is using it to describe a lollipop and isn't using it as an insult.
"Thank you, Charlie Brown, you were a very good model.""I got a rock."
- Take a wild guess.
- Linus too, perhaps even more so than Charlie Brown usually is. While Charlie may have gotten a bag full of rocks instead of candy, he at least somewhat participated in Halloween activities. Linus (and by extension Sally) spent the whole Halloween waiting in a pumpkin patch only for nothing to happen (unless you count Snoopy's appearance).
- Cheap Costume: Charlie Brown fails even at making a good "ghost" costume.
- Civilized Animal: Played with. When Snoopy cries during Schroeder's rendition of "Roses of Picardy", he starts howling, then quickly stops himself and looks embarrassed for allowing himself to behave like a dog.
- Comedic Sociopathy: As noted elsewhere, in order for Charlie Brown to get a bagful of rocks while trick-or-treating there has to be an entire neighborhood full of adults who would give a kid a rock. Or, more to the point, who would give one specific kid a rock, while all the others get what sounds like great candy. Simple answer: his costume sucks.
- Creative Closing Credits: The credits are interspersed during Linus' rant at the end. Doubles as an Overly Long Gag.
- Crisis of Faith: "Oh, Great Pumpkin! Where are you?!?"
- A Day in the Limelight: Despite the title, it's Linus who's the biggest focus of this one.
- Disney Acid Sequence: The opening credits, consisting of the characters in their costumes running in fright from various typical Halloween monsters before ending up in a pumpkin patch.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Linus' B-plot is basically one for blind faith akin to Millerism and The Great Disappointment.
- Downer Ending: Charlie Brown gets nothing but rocks. Sally misses out on trick-or-treating. Linus spends the night in the pumpkin patch, waiting in vain, but learns nothing, and vows that the Great Pumpkin will come next year.
- Eat the Camera: The hooting owl in the opening sequence, though in recent years that part is often faded out of network broadcasts.
- Expressive Mask:
- Face Doodling: Sort of. Violet draws a face on the back of Charlie Brown's head as a model for Lucy's Jack-o'-Lantern.
- Fainting: Linus faints when he thinks he sees the Great Pumpkin coming (it's actually Snoopy).
- Fantasy Sequence: "Here's the World War I Flying Ace climbing into the cockpit of his Sopwith Camel..." Then after he's shot down: "Here's the World War I Flying Ace imagining he's down behind enemy lines, making his way across the French countryside."
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Viewers can actually see rocks dropping into Charlie Brown's bag as the gang goes trick-or-treating.
- Howl of Sorrow: Snoopy almost blows his cover when he howls during the Halloween Party.
- Hypocritical Humor:
Lucy: A person should always choose a costume which is in direct contrast to her own personality. (puts witch hat and mask on)
- Lucy and her witch costume...
Charlie Brown: Who are you writing to, Linus?
- Linus fervently believes in the Great Pumpkin, yet berates Charlie Brown for still believing in Santa Claus. Conversely, Charlie Brown still believes in Santa, while rolling his eyes at Linus' earnest belief in the Great Pumpkin:
Linus: This is the time of year to write to the Great Pumpkin. On Halloween night, the Great Pumpkin rises out of his pumpkin patch and flies through the air with his bag of toys for all the children!
Charlie Brown: You must be crazy. When are you going to stop believing in something that isn't true?
Linus: When you stop believing in that fellow with a red suit and the white beard who goes, "Ho, ho, ho!"
Charlie Brown: We're obviously separated by denominational differences.
- I Got a Rock: The Trope Namer.
- Jerkass: Every single neighbor who gave poor Charlie Brown a rock.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lucy is her usual crabby self here, mocking Linus for believing in the Great Pumpkin. However, she does ask for candy for him, too, when she goes trick-or-treating (albeit begrudgingly), and when he does not return home from the pumpkin patch by 4 a.m., she gets out of bed, walks out to the pumpkin patch, leads her brother home and puts him to bed. More than that - it wasn't that he just wasn't home, she set her alarm specifically to get up and check on him.
- Kick the Dog: Again, the neighbors that give all the kids candy but keep giving Charlie Brown rocks.
- Loophole Abuse: Lucy gets Charlie Brown to kick the football by showing him a document saying she won't pull it away when he kicks. Turns out the document wasn't notarized.
- Love Makes You Dumb: Sally loves Linus so much that she's willing to stay the night in the Pumpkin patch to wait the Great Pumpkin with him. In the end, she realizes that she missed all the candy for nothing. She was not pleased with her sweet baboo.
- Mood Whiplash: Zigzagged with Schroeder, whose playlist alternates between happy and sad songs ("It's a Long, Long Way to Tipperary", "There's a Long, Long Trail a-Winding", "Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag", and "Roses of Picardy".)
- Not on the List: Lucy believes Charlie Brown got invited to the Halloween party by mistake, being put on the list of people to invite rather than the one of people not to invite. Most likely, Violet's parents found out about that list and made her invite everyone on that list.
- Off-Model: Like its predecessor, this special was produced cheaply and quickly; the animation suffered as a result.
- Open Mouth, Insert Foot: As soon as Charlie Brown accidentally calls Linus stupid for waiting out in the pumpkin patch, he feels even more foolish when Linus launches into a tirade for next year's Halloween.
- Overly Long Gag: Linus launching into a tirade in the ending sequence, due to Charlie Brown accidentally calling him stupid for waiting for the Great Pumpkin, which continues throughout the entire end credits.
- Product Displacement: The opening credits sequence originally ended with two references to the special's original sponsors: the kids running past a scarecrow holding a sign with the Coca-Cola logo, and Snoopy dancing next to a scarecrow with a Dolly Madison sign on its post. Modern broadcasts and home video releases remove these references by ending the main title right when the owl flies towards the camera.
- Pumpkin Person: The episode features Charlie Brown being asked to model for a Halloween party. By this, we mean Violet draws a Jack-o'-Lantern face on the back of his head for reference.
- Recursive Canon: At one point Lucy is shown reading an issue of TV Guide with her own picture on the cover.
- Selective Obliviousness:Linus: STUPID? WHAT DO YOU MEAN STUPID? Just wait 'til next year, Charlie Brown. You'll see! Next year at this same time, I'll find a pumpkin patch that is real sincere! And I'll sit in that pumpkin patch until the Great Pumpkin appears! He'll rise out of that pumpkin patch and he'll fly through the air with his bag of toys! The Great Pumpkin will appear! And I'll be waiting for him! I'll be there! I'll be sitting there in that pumpkin patch... And I'll see the Great Pumpkin! Just wait and see, Charlie Brown! I'll see that Great Pumpkin! I'll SEE the Great Pumpkin! Just you wait, Charlie Brown! The Great Pumpkin will appear and I'll be waiting for him! I'll be there! I'll be sitting there in that pumpkin patch... and I'll see the Great Pumpkin! Just wait and see!
- Snoopy's imagination sequence about being shot down and trekking to the Halloween party references Wings.
- Writing to the Great Pumpkin, Linus notes that not as many people believe in him as Santa Claus, then adds, "But being number two, perhaps you try harder." This is a reference to an advertising slogan used by Avis Rent-a-Car in the '60s.
- The Speechless: Snoopy may be a dog who can't talk, but he seems to be treated as good as human by the rest of the cast.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Charlie Brown gets invited to Violet's Halloween party after repeatedly being on the snubbed list.
- Trapped Behind Enemy Lines: Snoopy in his Flying Ace fantasy.
- The Unseen: The Red Baron, as well as all adults. And, of course, the Great Pumpkin himself.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: How many watching the show realize that when Snoopy smiles, smiles, smiles as Schroeder is playing "Pack Up Your Troubles", he is doing so in response to the lyrics of the song? Well, perhaps the parents did at the time. Or grandparents, at least.
- Windmill Crusader: Linus' insistence that the Great Pumpkin is real likely makes him this.
- Woman Scorned: Parodied when Sally flips out at Linus for convincing her that the Great Pumpkin exists and having her waste the whole Halloween waiting for it to appear:Linus: You've heard about fury and a woman scorned, haven't you?Charlie Brown: Yes, I guess I have.Linus: Well, that's nothing compared to the fury of a woman who has been cheated out of tricks-or-treats.