Charles "Charlie" Brown (called Chuck by Peppermint Patty and sometimes referred to as Charles by Marcie) is the central and main protagonist in the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. He has been hailed as one of the best cartoon characters of all time, and he has become one of the great American archetypes and the only Peanuts character to have done so.
Personality-wise, he is gentle, insecure, and lovable. Charlie Brown possesses significant determination and hope, but frequently fails because of his insecurities. While he can be smart, he over-thinks things and this often gives him a tendency to procrastinate.
While all of the permanent characters are his friends, he is often ostracized by them, and three of his friends even bully him. Many of them (including the bullies), however, follow him as the manager of a baseball team, and that is where Charlie Brown's greatest skill, good leadership, is displayed. He leads the baseball team and keeps hoping for a victory despite their numerous failures and painful letdowns, yelling words of admirable encouragement to his players, leading them to the next game. Charlie Brown has many more traits, and his character is very deep.
Charlie Brown inherited a massive number of traits from Schulz, right down to his first name. His nickname "Charlie" and his last name "Brown" were given for Charlie Brown, one of Schulz's co-workers at the Art Instruction Inc.
He and Snoopy are the only characters to appear in every TV special and movie.
Charlie Brown first appeared in 1948, two years before Peanuts started, in a comic strip by Charles M. Schulz called Li'l Folks. He later appeared in the first Peanuts comic strip on October 2, 1950. He is one of the most well known characters in Peanuts and is considered to be the main character in the strip.
Charlie Brown states in the strip from November, 3, 1950, that he is "only four years old", but he aged over the next two decades. He says he is six in the strip from November 17, 1957. In the strip from April 3, 1971, he says that he will be twenty-one in thirteen years time, making him eight years old in that strip. He says that he is eight-and-a-half years old in the strip from July 11, 1979. Later references continue to peg Charlie Brown as being approximately eight years old.
Charlie Brown is an avid kite-flyer, but his kites keep landing in a "Kite-Eating Tree" or suffering even worse fates. In one strip from 1958, he finally gets the kite to fly before it spontaneously combusts in the air.
Every autumn Lucy van Pelt promises to hold a football for Charlie Brown to kick, and every year she pulls it away as he follows through, causing him to fly in the air and land painfully on his back. Charlie Brown was never shown as succeeding to kick the football in the comic strip. In a strip from 1979, in which Charlie Brown is in the hospital, Lucy promises she will never pull the football away again. She does not pull the football away when Charlie Brown tries to kick it after he gets well, but he misses the football and kicks her hand. However, he kicks it in a 1981 TV special, It's Magic, Charlie Brown when he was invisible. In a strip from 1999, Lucy delegates the task of holding the ball to her brother Rerun van Pelt. Rerun does not reveal whether Charlie Brown kicks the ball or not. Charlie Brown is the only character to appear in the first Peanuts comic strip from October 2, 1950 and the last one from February 13, 2000. According to a 1950 comic strip, his birthday is on October 30 but no strips from October 30 in subsequent years make reference to this.
In a comic strip from July 11, 1979, Charlie Brown's age is confirmed to be 8 and a half.
Charlie Brown's first name 'Charles' wasn't revealed until March 17, 1977.
Charlie Brown is drawn with only a small curl of hair at the front of his head, and a little in the back. Though this is often interpreted as him being bald, Charles M. Schulz claimed that he saw Charlie Brown as having hair that was so light, and cut so short, that it could not be seen very easily. However, this is contradicted by the July 17, 1955 Sunday strip, in which Charlie Brown tells Schroeder that he does not have yellow hair, as well as by the TV special You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown, in which he says that he does not have much hair to cut, although, the latter is not canon to the strip.
The roundness of Charlie Brown's head is often commented on by other characters in the strip. Snoopy thinks of his owner as "the round-headed kid".
Charlie Brown almost always wears black shorts and a polo shirt with a black zig-zag stripe around the middle. In the animated TV specials, his shirt is colored yellow. In the past, his shirt was colored red in the Sunday comic strips but it now usually appears as yellow in all media. For most of the first two months of the Peanuts comic strip's run, until December 21, 1950 Charlie Brown wore a plain tee-shirt without a zig-zag. He, like most male characters, wears brown leather shoes, and yellow socks. In The Peanuts Movie, he wears long, black pants.
Peanuts Sunday strips were often titled Peanuts featuring Good Ol' Charlie Brown. Schulz later stated that he had wanted to name the strip Good Ol' Charlie Brown but that the name Peanuts was chosen by the cartoon syndicate instead; as a result, some people inferred that Charlie Brown's nickname was "Peanuts". Schulz suggested the Sunday title as a clarification device.
Charlie Brown is almost always addressed by his full name by other characters in the strip. Two of the exceptions to this are Peppermint Patty, who calls him "Chuck" most of the time. Her friend Marcie usually calls him "Charles" but occasionally calls him "Chuck". Some readers interpret this as an indication of the portrayed crushes that both girls have on him , which they both admit to each other in a strip from 1979. His sister Sally usually calls him "Big Brother", probably because it would be awkward for a member of his own family to use their surname when addressing him. A minor character named Peggy Jean from the early 1990s calls him "Brownie Charles". Charlie Brown, in his typical nervous and awkward fashion, flubs his own name when he introduces himself to Peggy Jean and cannot bring himself to correct the mistake.
It is eventually revealed that the first person to have called him "Charlie Brown" was Poochie, a girl who played with Snoopy as a pup, and who first appeared in the strip on January 7, 1973. This can imply, that before this, people used to refer to him as Charlie.
In the very earliest strips, Charlie Brown was more assertive and playful than his character would later become: He would play tricks on other cast members, and some strips had romantic overtones between Charlie Brown, Patty and Violet. Sometimes, he would bother adults. As the strip progressed, Charlie Brown became the "lovable loser" that everyone knows and loves. He is a meek, gentle, innocent, polite, and kind-hearted child, who always means well and cares deeply about his friends and family. He is often victimized and abused by the other characters, usually getting blamed when something goes wrong even though he is obviously not the one at fault.
Charlie Brown emotionally swings between being negatively pessimistic and being heroically optimistic. He fails at most things and is often insulted by Lucy and Violet and Patty, resulting in his depression and often pessimistic view of life; an example is his reluctance to get up and start a day because he might spoil it. He also hates himself. Contradicting this negativity is an optimistic side; no matter how bad a day might be, he often looks forward for tomorrow. He also has a positive attitude on life, hoping for good things to happen; one such case is his attitude about his baseball team, and no matter how the game looks, even if it looks like his team has no chance of winning, Charlie Brown is always confident that his team still has a chance of winning. Common elements in the strip's storylines include Charlie Brown stubbornly refusing to give in even when all is lost from the outset (e.g., standing on the pitcher's mound alone, refusing to let a torrential downpour interrupt his beloved baseball game), or suddenly displaying a skill and rising within a field, only to suffer a humiliating loss just when he is about to win it all (most famously, Charlie Brown's efforts to win a national Spelling Bee in the feature-length film A Boy Named Charlie Brown). He hates losing, and he does not let his frequent failures get in the way of becoming great; he wants people to praise him, and he tries to achieve that goal by working hard and improving any skill he has on some fields whilst trying to find more fields he has skill at. He despairs because he suffers so much that each day might likely end badly for him, but he is positive enough to hope for the best, hating the notion of being doomed to suffer, and he always works hard to achieve anything that he wishes to. Charlie Brown is very ambitious.
Despite what Lucy or Violet may think of him, Charlie Brown is actually smart and intelligent, with a somewhat above-average vocabulary (though not as high as Linus'), and is philosophical and deep-thinking; this has often led him to talk to himself about his problems, what others may be saying about him, and philosophy in general.
Charlie Brown often feels like people are picking on him, even if in reality they are not. For instance, in one strip, from May 9, 1951, Charlie Brown says his raincoat is too small. Patty tries to explain that the problem is not that the raincoat is too small, but that Charlie Brown is too big. However, Charlie Brown takes offence at that, and says "Always blaming me for everything". Charlie Brown also often feels that nobody likes him, or that people are constantly laughing at him, except for when he is trying to be funny, of course.
Charlie Brown has stated that he is very fond of books. Despite this, he often procrastinates book report writing.
Charlie Brown is also notable for being a budding cartoonist, creating his own comic strips; he would show these strips to the other characters; this trait is likely to have been inspired by Schulz's own early childhood beginnings at cartooning. Being an admirer of comics, he also owns his own comic book collection; he has a taste for comic books like "Revolutionary War Comics", "Civil War Comics", and "World War I Comics".
Charlie Brown never receives cards on Valentine's Day or Christmas and only gets rocks when he goes trick or treating on Halloween but never loses hope that he will. His misfortunes garnered so much sympathy from the audience that many young viewers of the Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown TV specials in North America have sent Valentine cards and Halloween candy respectively to the broadcasting television networks in an effort to show Charlie Brown they cared for him.
Charlie Brown's run of bad luck continued until the strip ended its run in 2000. He did have occasional victories, though, such as hitting a game-winning home run off a pitch by Royanne, on March 30, 1993 and soundly defeating Joe Agate in a game of marbles on April 11, 1995. Usually, Charlie Brown was a representative for everyone going through a time when they feel like nothing ever goes right for them. However, Charlie Brown refuses to give up. In the final weeks of the strip, determined to finally have a winning baseball season at least, Charlie Brown tried to channel Joe Torre, which made his sister think he was cracking up.
While he fails in many things, he has shown skill on some: he has been shown as a carpenter in his own right, as he was shown redesigning Snoopy's doghouse (which is bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside) on its third rebuilding, and he has also occasionally built birdhouses. He can also play the guitar, as seen in the TV special Play It Again, Charlie Brown.
Charlie Brown is generally generous: for instance, on April 15, 1953, Lucy tries to steal all of Charlie Brown's caramels when he offers her one. When Charlie Brown notices that she took all of the caramels, he easily forgives her and offers her the sack he was carrying the caramels in.
Charlie Brown also tends to fall in love very easily. He fell for many girls, most famously the Little Red-Haired Girl. He also fell in love with Peggy Jean, his Pen-pal, a girl named Emily, and a few more in the strip and the TV specials. In the strip from July 24, 1990, in the storyline with Peggy Jean, Linus tells Charlie Brown he is always in love. And in the TV special, Someday You'll Find Her, Charlie Brown, Linus tells Charlie Brown that he gets a new true love every week.
Charlie Brown has accumulated many memorable catch phrases and quotes:
- "Good grief!"
- "I can't stand it! I just can't stand it!"
- "Why can't I have a normal/ordinary dog like everyone else?"
- "I got a rock".
- (To Patty, about security and Linus' blanket): "Sure, but most people find security in only one or two places...here we have something infinitely greater...portable security!"
- (To Violet, about why she cannot like him because he is "not perfect"): "But I'm pretty perfect..."
- To himself, about Patty and Violet's gossiping): "I'll bet those girls are talking about me; I wonder what they're saying about me...gee...I was feeling so good too...now I'm all depressed...why does someone always have to spoil my day?!"
- (To Patty, about the definition of "beautiful" color): "'Beautiful' is only a relative term...as a matter of fact, so is 'blue'...color, you know is beautiful only when it is good color...of course, then you come up with the question,'just what is good color?'"
- (To Snoopy and Sally Brown): "She likes to dance."
- (To Lucy when she visits the pitcher's mound during baseball games): "Why don't you go back to center field where you belong?"