For 50 years, a round-headed boy in a yellow and black shirt and his loveable pet beagle brought smiles to the faces of millions of readers around the globe each day. The world was introduced to Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang on Oct. 2, 1950, when the first comic strip debuted in nine newspapers around the U.S. Peanuts quickly became one of the most popular comic strips of all time and influenced movie, television, book and theater spin-offs. Most people can relate in some way to the charismatic Peanuts characters and simple-yet-profound situations in which they find themselves. Here are the 10 most iconic Peanuts comic strips of all time.
The First Strip—Oct. 2, 1950
Charlie Brown, Peanuts’ main character, is introduced for the first time, along with the characters of Shermy and Patty. Although he’s not yet wearing his iconic striped shirt, Charlie Brown’s round head and naive smile are instantly recognizable. This is the first time he is called “Good Ol’ Charlie Brown,” a nickname that continues to haunt him throughout the strip.
“Here Comes Snoopy”—Oct. 4, 1950
Snoopy, Charlie Brown’s pet beagle, appeared for the first time as an ownerless dog on the street. It was only later that Snoopy would be identified as Charlie Brown’s loyal sidekick, although he quickly became one of the most recognizable characters in the comic strip. In Peanuts’ early years, Snoopy behaved like an average dog, his human characteristics evolving over time.
“Football Gag”—Nov. 16, 1952
Every year without fail, Charlie Brown falls for the football gag when Lucy tells him that she’ll hold a football for him to kick. Although Charlie Brown does not trust Lucy at first, she persuades him to kick the ball, then pulls it away at the last second, just in time for him to fall to the ground. Although Lucy made this prank famous, Violet was actually the first one to pull the ball away from Charlie Brown, not to spite him, but in fear that he would kick her hand.
“Good Grief”—June 6, 1952
The first time Charlie Brown says, “good grief,” is in reaction to more of Lucy’s mischief—this time, it’s her misunderstood attempt to show him a large bug. This becomes Charlie Brown’s catchphrase and part of the worldwide Charlie Brown lexicon.
“Snoopy Walks”—June 28, 1957
Snoopy did not walk on two legs for the first seven years of the comic strip, instead behaving like a normal dog and walking on all fours. Snoopy’s transition to two legs completes his image as a partly human characters. Snoopy appears to be a dog who often forgets he’s a dog, instead walking, talking and interacting with others as if he’s a human.
“The Doctor Is In”—March 27, 1959
Lucy’s psychiatry booth is another running gag in the comic strip. Instead of running a lemonade stand, Lucy has a psychiatry business where other characters pay to tell her their problems. The price of her (generally unhelpful) advice normally runs at five cents. Charlie Brown frequently visits Lucy’s booth where she answers in snarky quips like, “Snap out of it!”
“The Great Pumpkin”—Oct. 26, 1959
The Great Pumpkin is an imaginary character created by Linus, who believes that on Halloween the Great Pumpkin rises from the pumpkin patch and delivers toys to good children around the world. Linus spends every Halloween waiting in a pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin while everyone else goes trick-or-treating, and he tries in vain to make the other characters believe in the Great Pumpkin. The Great Pumpkin became a recurring feature of the comic strip and led to a popular television special, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
“Snoopy Writes”—July 12, 1965
Snoopy often puts a large typewriter on the roof of his doghouse and writes under the pseudonym, “World Famous Author.” Each of his stories starts with the cliched phrase, “It was a dark and stormy night.” Despite his claims to be a world famous author, many of Snoopy’s stories remain unfinished and his work is often rejected by publishers.
“WWI Flying Ace”—Oct. 10 1965
Snoopy has many alter egos, the most famous of which is the World War I Flying Ace. As the Flying Ace, Snoopy holds imaginary battles with the Red Baron, using his doghouse as a biplane. Snoopy’s other alter egos include college student Joe Cool, a lawyer and impressions of various animals and Peanuts characters.
“Farewell”—Feb. 13, 2000
After 50 years, Schulz announced his retirement from Peanuts. This final Peanuts comic strip was published the day after Schultz’s death. Major characters and moments from the comic strips past appear in the final comic, surrounding Schultz’s letter to his readers and giving the comic strip a nostalgic and fitting farewell.