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So, these are the characters.
Nothing spoils fun like finding out it builds character.
The star of the strip named after 16th Century theologian Jean Calvin, he's a six year old with an unusually large vocabulary and grown-up sense of humor.
- Allergic to Routine: To the point where he rejects wearing clothes. Calvinball operates on this principle, as well.
- Ambiguous Disorder: No attention span yet has an advanced grasp on a variety of esoteric and/or specialized subjects that would put college students to shame.
- Annoying Patient
- Anti-Hero: Type I
- Byronic Hero: Despite being a six-year-old kid in a newspaper strip, he qualifies for this sub-type.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Susie.
- Blond Guys Are Evil: The kid puts nuclear missiles on his Christmas list.
- A Boy and His Tiger
- Brilliant but Lazy: He's unusually cultured in vocabulary, philosophies, very knowledgeable about dinosaurs, and has an advanced sense of irony, but since school often teaches everything he doesn't like to learn, he just doesn't bother.
- Butt Monkey: Although it's usually justified because of his general attitude.
- The Chew Toy: Quite literally to Hobbes at times.
- Cloudcuckoolander: This guy operates on a completely different wavelength than most people.
- Curious as a Monkey
- Enfant Terrible: Sometimes.
- Girls Have Cooties: Calvin's primary attitude when it comes to the opposite sex. The G.R.O.S.S. club has its name for a reason.
- Hates Baths
- Hot-Blooded: He can get really riled up a lot of the time.
- Innocent Prodigy
- It's All About Me
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold
- Large Ham
- Lazy Bum
- Limited Wardrobe: He always wears the same shirt and pants combo.
- Literal Minded: When he feels extra rebellious.
- The Masochism Tango: With Susie.
Calvin: It's shameless the way we flirt.
- The McCoy
- Meaningful Name: He's named after John Calvin who believed that humans were not inherently good and only a select few would go to Heaven. Explains his sour viewpoint on his race.
- Mr. Imagination
- Mr. Vice Guy
- Never My Fault: His Fatal Flaw. He cannot ever admit that he was in the wrong.
- Nightmare Fetishist
- No Indoor Voice: "If you can't win by reason, go for volume."
- Obfuscating Stupidity
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red Oni to Hobbes' Blue.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness
- Small Name, Big Ego: He likes to go on about what a talented genius he is.
- Spiky Hair: Lampshaded by Hobbes.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs and cookies.
- Unreliable Narrator
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist
- Villain Protagonist
- Walking Disaster Area: There goes the resale value of that house. If Susie is to be believed, then he's the reason why no one on their street can sell a house.
- Wants a Prize For Basic Decency: Constantly.
- Warrior Poet: With snowball fights.
Live and don't learn, that's us.
Calvin's stuffed tiger doll... or maybe his Not-So-Imaginary Friend. Named after Thomas Hobbes, he's usually seen through Calvin's eyes as an actual tiger while everyone else sees a doll. He's a proud tiger nonetheless and ultimately Calvin's best friend.
- Anti-Hero: Type II.
- Badass Boast: "My snowballs go faster than the speed of sound!"
- Big Eater
- Cats Are Mean: Inverted. Hobbes has much stronger moral integrity than Calvin, calls him out on various misdeeds, and often tries to convince him to seek happiness from virtue instead of playing pranks. On the other hand, he also likes to pull mean tricks on Calvin.
- Cats Are Snarkers
- Cats Are Superior
- Characterization Marches On: In the early years, Hobbes really wasn't all that much of a snarker, and was frequently just as immature as Calvin.
- Companion Cube: Seen as this by everyone else.
- Deadpan Snarker
- The Glomp
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Ever notice how he always hits Calvin?
- Handsome Lech: While Calvin believes Girls Have Cooties, Hobbes has a thing for "babes".
- Intellectual Animal
- Invisible to Normals
- Knight in Sour Armor: Hobbes is apparently quite cynical, but often does good deeds he doesn't expect to be rewarded for. (Ie. Trying to preach virtue to Calvin. You know, the same guy who tries to pin things on Hobbes when caught.)
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: When it comes to math, at any rate.
- The Lancer
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Is he a figment of Calvin's overactive imagination or a real individual? There's enough evidence for both sides and Watterson refuses to give a straight answer.
- Meaningful Name: He's named after Thomas Hobbes, a philosopher who at times had a poor outlook on life and human nature, which explains his cynicism rather well.
- Not So Above It All: Tries to be the Only Sane Man but is often just as petty and hypocritical as Calvin.
- Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Or is he?
- The Obi-Wannabe: While he gives good advice most of the time, some of it doesn't take into account the fact that Calvin is not a tiger.
- Only Sane Man
- Proud Warrior Race Guy
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blue Oni to Calvin's Red.
- Running Gag: Pouncing on Calvin as soon as soon as he walks in the door and yells, "I'M HOME!"
- Sanity Ball
- Shipper on Deck: For Calvin/Susie, much to Calvin's annoyance.
- The Spock
- Straight Man: He's the Brian to Calvin's Stewie.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Tuna fish (salmon in earlier strips).
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Type B with Calvin.
- The Watson: Although not from ignorance, but out of curiosity.
- Would Hurt a Child: Attacks Calvin regularly.
I'd ask you to play House, but you'd be a weird example for our kids.
The neighbor girl and one of the few people Calvin actually interacts with his age. She's a constant target of Calvin's pranks but seems to handle her own quite well.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Calvin.
- Beware the Nice Ones: She has a sweet demeanor overall, but she can be ruthless if you get on her bad side -- which Calvin tends to do more often than not.
- Brainy Brunette
- Bullying a Dragon: Regularly sends Calvin's ass to the cleaners in a fight. Word of God says this just encourages Calvin to be even more annoying.
- The Chick
- Cute Bruiser
- Distaff Counterpart: Sometimes hinted to be one to Calvin.
- Genius Bruiser
- Girls Love Stuffed Animals
- Hero Antagonist: Especially if you look at things from Calvin's perspective.
- Housewife: Occasionally what she likes to act as when playing house with Calvin when she isn't "the high-powered executive wife".
- The Kirk
- Little Miss Badass
- Little Miss Snarker
- Moral Myopia: She can throw snowballs at Calvin or otherwise antagonize him. When he does it to her? Oh he's crossed all the lines.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Calvin fails to learn that no matter how big a water balloon or snowball he ambushes Susie with, it won't stop here from immediately popping up and kicking the stuffing out of him.
- The Rival
- Silk Hiding Steel: Quite capable of being as diabolical as Calvin, if not moreso.
- Similar Squad: Herself and Mr. Bun.
- Teacher's Pet: Or at least, an extremely committed student.
- Tsundere: Word of God says they sort of have a love/hate relationship.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: She and Calvin spend an awful lot of time together, even if they can't stand one another.
I haven't seen Calvin for about 15 minutes now. That probably means he's getting in trouble.
- Actually Pretty Funny: Sometimes, Calvin can really make her laugh.
- Happily Married
- Lethal Chef: Calvin thinks she is.
- Mama Bear: Will turn into this if her husband goes too far in his teasing Calvin.
- No Name Given
- Not So Different: If Calvin's account of his grandmother is to be believed, then Mom was just like him once upon a time.
- Reasonable Authority Figure
- Tsundere: Type B over Calvin's dad.
- Unnamed Parent
- Women Are Wiser: Inverted on a few occasions when dealing with Hobbes. She once confessed some of her fears to him when Calvin wasn't around, and on another occasion she called out for him when she and Dad were in the woods looking for him at night.
- Abusive Parents: He really wanted a dog, instead.
- Enjoys feeding "facts" to Calvin, such as the origin of black and white photographs.
- A Day in the Limelight: His cycling strips usually don't feature Calvin.
- Angrish: "Slippin-rippin-dang-fang-rotten-zarg-barg-a-ding-dong!"
- Author Avatar: Played with, he's actually based on Watterson's own father, right down to the profession, but Waterson relates more to him than he does with Calvin.
- Ink Suit Actor: Basically Bill Watterson without a mustache. Note that Calvin's uncle Max does have a mustache.
- Badass Biker: Hilariously subverted. He routinely gets himself seriously injured when he goes cycling, but keeps an absurdly cheerful demeanour.
- Berserk Button: Don't break his stuff.
- Born in the Wrong Century: Dislikes modern technology and other recent developments, like the gradual decline of people's mannners.
- Bourgeois Bohemian: Dad eventually became a walking Author Tract, making speeches about commercialism and materialism and the horror of our age and the fulfillment that comes only with being miserable in the great outdoors.
- Catch Phrase: "(insert something unpleasant) builds character!"
- Composite Character: Calvin's Dad combines traits of both Bill Watterson's father, and Watterson himself.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Happily Married
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Like father, like son.
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: He doesn't know nearly as much as he wants Calvin to think he does. He gave up trying to explain how things work to Calvin, instead coming up with lies.
- Lies to Children: Constantly.
- Misery Builds Character: Trope namer.
- Never My Fault: No one in the house has a sense of humour. It's not that he sucks at telling jokes.
- No Name Given
- Not So Different: To Calvin. He shares his son's distaste for human greed and consumerism and is sometimes hinted to be a Former Teen Rebel who indulged his imagination.
- Unnamed Parent
It's not enough that we have to be disciplinarians, now we need to be psychologists.
Calvin's first-grade teacher, she's barely patient with Calvin and can't wait for retirement. Named after a demon.
- The Alcoholic: Drinks Maalox straight from the bottle.
- Beleaguered Bureaucrat
- Brawn Hilda
- Designated Villain: In-Universe, from Calvin's point of view.
- Madness Mantra: "Five years until retirement, five years until retirement, five years until retirement..."
- Reasonable Authority Figure: She acted like this when Calvin suffered a Freak-Out about being trapped inside on a beautiful day, as opposed to simply misbehaving:
Miss Wormwood: Next time, take a drink of water and a few deep breaths.
- Sadist Teacher: Again, Calvin views her as this. In truth, she's probably a good teacher, she's just very boring, which makes her classes hard for Calvin to sit through.
- Shout-Out: Word of God has confirmed that her name is a reference to the apprentice demon in The Screwtape Letters.
- Stern Teacher: In reality.
The class bully who often takes Calvin's money. He's the only kid Calvin knows that shaves.
- Blinding Bangs
- The Brute
- The Bully
- The Ditz: Gets quite a few moments of this, especially when Calvin says things that go over his head.
- Dumb Muscle
- Dumbass Has a Point / Jerkass Has a Point: Says he doesn't pick on people his own size because they hit back. Calvin admits that he can't really argue with that.
- Flat Character: Unlike most other characters in the series, who have sympathetic sides and are open to various interpretations, Moe pretty much exists just to be a jerk to Calvin.
- Jerk Jock
- Karma Houdini: Torments and beats up Calvin without provocation, and never really receives any punishment or payback.
- Super Strength
- Painting the Medium: He is the only character who speaks in mixed caps instead of all caps, and his speech appears to have been written with a pencil.
For eight bucks a night, I don't put up with much.
Calvin's babysitter. She's often the only one in the neighborhood willing to babysit Calvin for his parents, provided she gets paid extra of course.
- Arch Enemy: Word of God says that she's the only person Calvin truly fears.
- Ascended Extra: Only ever meant to appear once.
- Batman Gambit: In her final appearance in the strip, Rosalyn uses this to get Calvin to behave. She makes him want to do his homework and clean his room by offering to play Calvinball with him, and then actually wins the game when they play it.
- Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word: As the only babysitter in town who will agree to babysit Calvin, she's in a primo bargaining position. College tuition, y'know.
- Child-Hater: From Calvin's point of view.
- Designated Villain: In-Universe; In Calvin's perspective. She's actually pretty reasonable until he sets her off.
- Although in her final appearance towards the end of the strip she finally figures out how to deal with Calvin in a way no one else does and the two of them reach an understanding.
- Invisible Boyfriend: Charlie.
- Not So Different: In her last appearance, she bonds with Calvin in a game of Calvinball. And learns how to cheat very quickly.
- Sitcom Arch Nemesis
Calvin's Good Side
A duplicate Calvin made of himself.
- AI Is a Crapshoot
- Beware the Nice Ones: Too bad he vanished because of it.
- Heroic BSOD: But he gets better fairly quickly.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Because he IS Calvin, he'll do something bad eventually.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: To the point where he will spontaneously cease to exist the instant he gives in to corruption.
- Killed Off for Real
- Logic Bomb: He disappears after he thinks an evil thought.
- Never Heard That One Before: See Phrase Catcher
- Phrase Catcher: "If you're Calvin's good side, you should be a lot smaller."
- The Reveal: Calvin's mother initially thinks Calvin has turned over a new leaf, but when he leaves for school, Calvin and Hobbes are seen hiding under the bed, commenting on their success.
- Shadow Archetype: More like Light Archetype. He contains many qualities Calvin would like to ignore, such as helpfulness, diligence, and a crush on Susie
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Essentially the reverse Rosalyn; he was intended to be a recurring character, but after the arc Watterson realized he didn't have much personality, didn't bring out anything new in Calvin, and also required some awkward writing to avoid having him call his brother and sister-in-law by their names.
- Put on a Bus: Or rather, a plane.
Galaxoid and Nebular
A pair of not particularly intelligent aliens who think that they bought the world from Calvin.
- Back for the Finale
- Ditzy Genius: They are more intelligent than most humans, but think that Calvin is ruler of the Earth
- Those Two Guys
Calvin's Alter Egos
- Affectionate Parodies
- God Is Evil: In one Sunday strip, Calvin reimagined himself as such.
- Power Fantasy
- Third Person Person: All of them.
- The Adjectival Superhero
- Clark Kenting
- Disproportionate Retribution: Asked to read three pages? Vaporize the school!
- Expressive Mask: During his fantasy sequences.
- Failure Hero: Lampshaded when Hobbes asks if Stupendous Man has ever won a battle.
"Well, they're moral victories."
- Flying Brick
- Fun with Acronyms: "U" for Underwear, red!
- Large Ham
- Minimalist Cast: Stupendous Man is the only visible character in these daydreams. Other characters are alluded to (Mom Lady, Babysitter Girl, Crab Teacher), but we only see them when the POV switches back to the real world.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Calvin isn't very good at keeping a Secret Identity.
- Superheroes Wear Capes
- Super Strength: Such so that one strip, in a Shout-Out to the first Superman movie, has him reverse time by spinning the Earth backwards.
"It never fails. I just washed and waxed this thing..."
- Aliens Are Bastards: Has yet to meet one nice alien on his travels.
- Captain Crash: Many Spaceman Spiff episodes involve his ship getting hit by alien death ray fire and crash-landing on some unknown alien planet.
- Captain Space, Defender of Earth!
- Defiant to the End: Spiff never breaks... except once.
- Expressive Mask
- Failure Hero: Spiff is captured in every outing.
- Flying Saucer: Travels in one. It's usually red but has been green, blue, or purple on occassion.
- Guns Are Worthless: You could probably count the number of times his gun hasn't backfired on him or proven ineffective against his target on your one hand. Then again, considering Calvin's Weapon of Choice in reality is a suction dart pistol...
- Large Ham
- No Indoor Voice
- Planet of Hats: Where he frequently travels to.
- Single Biome Galaxy: Every single planet that Spiff visits (with only two exceptions) is a rocky desert based on the deserts of Utah.
- Spiff Can Breathe In Space: One short shows him exiting his ship to fix it, with no Explosive Decompression or air being sucked out of him.
- To Serve Man: Everyone who captures him seems to want to eat him, after torturing him anyway.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: After Calvin escapes from school, Spaceman Spiff escapes from his dungeon, but when Calvin's mother finds out, Spiff's ship comes under attack.
"I got eight slugs in me. One's a lead and the rest are bourbon. The drink packs a wallop and I pack a revolver."
- Badass Longcoat
- Butt Monkey: Gets beaten up near the end of both of his arcs.
- Crapsack World: From what little we see of it, Tracer's world ain't a friendly or happy place. Pretty par for the course for noir, really.
- Deadpan Snarker
- The Faceless: Everybody except Tracer was like this in his strips.
- Family-Friendly Firearms: Averted.
- A Friend in Need: The ending of the second arc.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Both times he gets beaten up. His shooting the dame in the second arc.
- Hardboiled Detective
- Nice Hat: No special powers, but definitely appropriate. And hey, it helps protect him from rain! Score!
- Noir Episode
- Perpetual Frowner
- Private Eye Monologue: The only text in his scripts.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Watterson says that the main reason Tracer made so few appearances was simply because the Noir-ish art took too long to finish. If it hadn't, we might've been given more Tracer Bullet cases to enjoy.
- In-universe, Calvin is first seen using the Tracer Bullet fantasy when he is covering up a bad haircut with a fedora.
- Smoking Is Cool
- Talks Like a Simile
- Third Person Person: Out of Calvin's fantasy alter-egos (all of them, not just the main 3), Tracer is the only one who averts this.
- This Is Gonna Suck
- Unwitting Pawn: The second arc.
- Would Shoot a Dame