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File:Groo the wanderer 132.jpg

Groo the Wanderer is a Comic Book created and drawn by Sergio Aragones and written by Mark Evanier. It started off as a parody of Barbarian Heroes, most notably Conan, making fun of fantasy tropes along the way. As the series continued, however, the stories have shifted to general comedy, with occasional commentary on Real Life social events and situations. Over the last twenty-five years, more than 150 issues have been printed by five different publishers, most recently by Dark Horse Comics.

Befitting his comedic roots, Groo is an uncomplicated character: he wanders the land with his loyal canine companion Rufferto, performing various odd jobs that almost inevitably involve fighting. With the exception of Chakaal, no one can out-fight him, and most encounters with Groo are brief and fatal. Although well-intentioned, Groo is also reliably slow of mind, and his frequent errors lead to disaster.

As a long-running series, he has built up a vast repertoire of supporting characters, most notably the Sage and the Minstrel. These characters appear more frequently when Groo runs as a regular ongoing series, but tend to disappear in stand-alone limited series.

Expect lots of Running Gags about cheese dip and mulch[1].


The numerous Groo series contain examples of the following tropes:

  • Abandon Ship: Almost always happens whenever Groo gets on board a boat.
    • His ability to sink ships actually been exaggerated over time originally he would often do something idiotic (like take wood from the bottom of the ship) to sink the ship it then got to the point as soon as he steps on board the the ship spontaneously springs a leak and goes to the bottom of the sea. The only way he can safely board a ship now is when he is with Rufferto.
  • Action Girl: Chakaal.
  • An Aesop: Most Groo stories have a moral at the end, usually not very serious.
  • Alliterative Family: Though it's never explicitly stated, "Groo" appears to be a family name of sorts -- Groo's sister is named "Grooella", and his grandmother is Granny Groo.
    • In the Life of Groo, Groo's father does refer to as the family name and the Sage calls Groo's father "Groo" (would not be confusing at all). Apparently it means "The cattle are dying".
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: Done for drama in "The Death of Groo" graphic novel. Groo goes to his own funeral expecting there to be much sadness at his demise. There isn't; everybody at that funeral had endless trouble from him, and they were all delighted at his "death."

 Grooella: "Today I have become something I have always wanted to be... an only child!"

  • Baleful Polymorph: Witch and wizards in Groo's world enjoy doing this to their enemies sometimes if really angry they will transform into the most horrible thing they can think of Groo!
  • Berserk Button: Groo is not a mendicant. Started in the second issue ever, where it was kind of justified because he had just lost all his money, and continued for years even some time after he learned to read and found out what it meant.
  • Blood Knight: Groo.
  • Bloodless Carnage
    • Averted originally, but as the series progressed Mark Evanier joked that "red ink is too expensive."
  • Brick Joke: Wait... what does TV Tropes mean "slow of mind"?
    • This was a brick joke the first time it occurred, but it quickly became a Running Gag.
  • Calling Me a Logarithm: Groo becomes violently enraged whenever someone calls him a "mendicant," even though he has no idea what the word means.
  • Canine Companion: Rufferto to Groo, and Mulch to the Sage.
  • Catch Phrase: Many.

 "Groo will now do what Groo does best!"

"Did I err?"

"What pirates?"

    • "I will mulch you!" Mark Evanier lamented that he should've known after getting mailed cheese dip by hundreds of fans every month what this catch phrase would lead to...
      • That is one of many ways the word was used. Incidentally, the tradition started with a story where Groo wandered (duh) into a village where all the women had been abducted by air pirates. Any mention of what the women were needed for made the villagers list several tasks, always ending with a reference to mulching (some times accompanied by a shoveling motion). A number of readers asked what the word meant, and in the next issue the editor filled the letter column with their notes and his answers - which all consisted of the dictionary definition of the term. The rest is history.
      • The phrase also crept into other comics, such as Usagi Yojimbo (including an overexpository "I will cut you into fertilizer or mulch!")
      • "Mulch" was also revealed to be the name of the Sage's dog -- at the end of a Running Gag where everyone who mentioned the Sage in any context would also mention his dog ... and then be interrupted or interrupt himself with the question, "Say, what's that dog's name, anyway?"
    • I am the Prince of Chichester (when ever Groo can't think of anything to say, the gag being he was forced to memorized as for one of Granny Groo's cons, couldn't remember it when it was needed and now say's whenever it's not needed). Also "I can drink Eight Beers" (Drumm is a font of these).
  • Chess with Death: Groo once bested Death in a swordfight.
  • Crossover: Groo had a cameo in the Normalman/MegatonMan special.
    • And now a miniseries with Conan
  • Con Man: Pal And Drumm (say it out loud), Granny Groo. They both have the bad habit of including Groo in their schemes, dooming them from the start.
  • Destructive Saviour: Groo often falls into this role.
  • The Ditz: Groo.
  • Doom Magnet: Has anyone ever encountered Groo and never suffered as a result?.
    • Actually yes. Just about everyone who really suffers from encountering Groo deserves it to some degree, And those few people who look beyond Groo's faults and show true heart and/or kindness are generally better off for having met him.. even if it's generally by accident.
      • Mark Evanier played around with this in a letters column when a reader asked if Groo would ever team up with any Marvel characters. Evanier said that the reason that Groo did not end up meeting Wolverine, for instance is that it would be a very short issue -- Panel 1: Groo and Wolvie meet. Panel 2: Groo kills Wolvie. End of story. [2].
    • He once did once help a free a group of slaves by exposing veins of gems by causing a block of rock the were excavating to fall off and shatter. But as the slaves came to thank Groo, he thought that they were chasing him off (again). Groo ran away without ever learning the truth.
  • The Drifter
  • Easy Amnesia: Taken to its logical extreme in a story where some characters need Groo to keep his memory while others need him to forget. They literally turns Groo's memory on and off by hitting him repeatedly on the head.
  • Eat the Dog: Subverted; when Groo first meets Rufferto, Rufferto thinks he's found a caring new master, but what he sees as Groo's affection is really just hunger. Soon afterward Groo thinks he has eaten Rufferto and becomes overwhelmed with guilt. When Rufferto finally shows up alive and well, Groo genuinely become a caring master.
  • Elephant Graveyard: An early comic plays this for laughs, with Groo following a wheezing, doddery old elephant in the hope of a meal, and finding a huge field of elephant bones. Groo is excited at finding tons of ivory, but his celebration is cut short when the dying elephant falls on him.
  • The End - or Is It?: In "The Aranja", Groo and Chakaal are hired to kill a giant spider that is terrorizing a village. Stumbling drunkenly around the spider's cave, Groo notices something he figures is important and tries to tell Chakaal, who is unfortunately too busy to listen. Soon after, Groo has forgotten the whole thing. As the heroes depart at the end of the story, the readers are shown what Groo discovered: The aranja was a female, and it had laid several eggs, which are just starting to hatch.
  • Everyone Chasing You: A frequent ending, especially in the Marvel/Epic series.
  • Exact Words: In one issue, Groo is hired by a kingdom at war to "Guard the bridge". Against an invading army. Groo takes up position, and the army approaches slowly, seeing Groo there. They cross the bridge under his watchful eyes unmolested. When the King demands of Groo why he didn't guard the bridge, Groo is confused, as the bridge is completely intact.
  • Expressive Accessory: The head of the Minstrel's lute changes into a different object in every panel.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Groo.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Because Groo causes trouble everywhere he goes, he has to keep wandering.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Arcadio. Whenever Groo manages to somehow get something right, Arcadio is always there to step in and take the credit.
  • Fictional Currency: Kopins are the universal currency.
    • When Groo travelled to a far off land to escape his reputation he ended being unable to pay for his meal because the local currency were "Varos".
  • Flanderization: In the early stories, Groo was just...pretty stupid. He later became so stupid it defies belief, at which point his stupidity also became a central premise of the comic.
    • Groo may actually be too dumb to die.
  • The Fool: Groo is probably the biggest example of them all. Barely capable of feeding himself, Groo brings bad luck wherever he goes and has a bad habit of decimating whole towns and cities, often as a result of trying to help the local residents. Nearly every comic ends with him being chased by an angry mob while he tries to figure out why.
  • I Can't Believe I'm Saying This: In one mini-series, Groo became hyper-intelligent, and everyone who knew him was shocked by this. When the witches Arba and Dakarba saw him reason out a solution to a problem, Arba exclaimed, "Groo, you are brilliant!" and then thought, "There is a sentence I never thought I would say."
  • Idiot Hero: Really, Groo's picture should be on the page.
  • I Resemble That Remark: "What do you mean slow of mind?" said several pages after someone calls says slow of mind (once even to a flashback).
  • The Jester: The Minstrel.
  • The Jinx: Groo. Among other things, any ship he's on will sink unless Rufferto is also onboard.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Groo fights with two, one in each hand.
  • Lizard Folk: In contrast to a lot of fantasy settings, lizard-folk in Groo aren't inherently evil.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Rufferto.
  • Oblivious to His Own Description: Groo, on numerous occasions, especially with synonyms of "stupid".

 What did he mean, "slow of mind"?

  • Our Dragons Are Different The Dragons in Groo have some combination of the below:
    • The dragons in Groo have a Theropod body shape with a frill around the neck.
    • They have plates and spikes down the back similar to a Stegosaurus.
    • They also have droopy parts of flesh often around the head.
    • Dragons in Groo can often breathe fire
    • In contrast to the depiction of most western dragons they do not have wings and can't fly even if they do.
    • They are mostly green but other colors have been depicted (there doesn't seem to be any difference between them).
  • Overt Operative: Proof of the "Greater Fool" theory: Groo was once employed as a spy.
  • Psychic Block Defense : Done for laughs in one story, where an evil wizard is attempting to read Groo's mind... and fails spectacularly, because there's nothing to read.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The Minstrel, Sergio apparently dislikes writing dialogue character since English is his second language.
  • Running Gag: Lots, often Lampshaded by scribe Mark Evanier.
    • The comic even has a running gag that there is only one joke, yes a running gag about a running gag. It's even supposedly caused people not to read the comic because they heard it has only one joke.
  • Schmuck Bait: Groo for anyone that wants to use him for the own plans, it almost always ends up back-firing. Also Drumm cannot resist calling Groo a mendicant despite being beaten up for it every time.
  • Shrouded in Myth: In one story, the tyrant Pipil Khan keeps hearing stories about all of the battles Groo has won and the carnage he has caused, and imagines that Groo must be a huge, fierce warrior with demonic powers. Then the real Groo finally shows up -- a rather short, scruffy, plump guy with a broken nose and stick legs -- and Pipil Khan dies from shock.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: In one issue, Groo asks a passerby whether he has seen the man who was standing next to where Groo was standing a while back.
  • The Uriah Gambit: Those who encounter Groo keep sending the titular character against impossible odds with little support both to get rid of Groo and sometimes serve as a distraction (This includes his family and "friends"). But since he's a One-Man Army and has the element of surprise (since no one would be stupid enough to attack, except Groo) he succeeds with the unintended consequences on those who sent him.
  • Thud and Blunder: The genre the whole comic parodies.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: Some people have tried to con Groo, only to find that he's too stupid to follow their reasoning.
  • Torture First, Ask Questions Later: Groo is very good at slaying, not so good at questioning.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: Done darkly in an early comic. Groo trains a peaceful village to fight against a horde of bandits. In the process, the village and all it's crops are destroyed. Having no other way to make a living now, the villagers and the bandits unite into a giant bandit army that overruns nearby cities.
  • Walking Disaster Area
  • Walking the Earth: Because Groo causes trouble everywhere he goes, he has to keep wandering.
  • What Exactly Is His Job?: A running gag is what, exactly, does Mark Evanier do (besides answer the letters page). Even his job description on the masthead changes every issue to something silly or bizarre. In reality, he is essentially the comic's co-plotter and script writer/editor.
  • The World Mocks Your Loss: When Groo thought his dog Rufferto was dead and that Groo had eaten him he kept seeing objects that reminded him of Rufferto's coloring.
  • Write Who You Know:
    • Groo's faithful dog Rufferto is based on... Sergio Aragones' faithful dog Rufferto. The "real" Rufferto occasionally appears in Sergio's autobiographical cartoons, and is drawn exactly like Groo's dog.
    • In these autobiographical cartoons, Sergio's wife Charlene is drawn exactly like Chakaal.
    • The characters of Weaver and Scribe are based on Mark Evanier and letterer Stan Sakai, respectively.

"What do you mean, 'slow of mind'?"

Notes

  1. Mulching is a process of inbred fertilization which employs certain decomposed organic materials -- including, but not limited to animal sediment -- to blanket an area in which vegetation is desired. The procedure enriches the soil for stimulated plant development while, at the same time, preventing erosion and decreasing the evaporation of moisture from the ground.
  2. The genuine reason is that Groo had zero to do with Marvel continuity other than being published by Marvel's creator-owned Epic imprint at the time -- the character was owned lock, stock and barrel by Sergio Aragones (the reason he did not publish Groo for years was that he wanted complete creative control and ownership and had been told by the Bigs that it just wasn't done in the industry, until Pacific Comics offered him just that.)
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