- This article is about Charlie Brown, the lead character in the Peanuts comic strip. There is a separate article about Charlie Brown, the member of the hip-hop crew Leaders of the New School. There is also a Charles Brown blues singer, and aviator Charles Brown with the same nickname.
Charlie Brown was inspired by Schulz' own life. A third-grade student, Charlie Brown is a lovable loser, possessed of endless determination and stubbornness, but who is ultimately dominated by his anxieties and shortcomings, and is often dominated and taken advantage of by his peers. The best-known example of this is his Little League baseball team: Charlie Brown is the organizer of the team and its pitcher, but the team consistently loses (their all-time record is 2 - 930) . Charlie Brown is a terrible pitcher, often giving up tremendous hits which knock him off the mound. The team itself is poor, with only Charlie Brown's dog Snoopy being particularly competent.
Charlie Brown is also an avid kite-flyer, but his kites keep landing in a "kite-eating tree" or suffering even worse fates. Every Fall his friend Lucy 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. He was only allowed to kick the football once, in the early 1990s.
Despite all this, and despite the abuse he often received, Charlie Brown has many friends, the best being Lucy's brother Linus, who may occasionally admonish Charlie Brown, but stands by him. Charlie Brown is also in love with a character known as "the Little Red-haired Girl", though he rarely has the courage to talk to her, and when he does (encounters which always occur off-panel) it always goes badly.
Charlie Brown is generally referred to as "Charlie Brown" by other characters in the strip, never as "Charlie". The exceptions to this are Peppermint Patty, who calls him "Chuck", and her friend Marcie, who calls him "Charles". Some readers interpret this as an indication of the portrayed crushes that both girls have on him. Due to Charlie Brown's preoccupation with "the Little Red-haired Girl", he remains oblivious to their occasional attentions. In particular, he has a tendency to say the wrong thing, at the wrong time, to Peppermint Patty (who often seeks reassurance over her "big nose" and her femininity).
Charlie Brown is mostly bald, with a small curl of hair at the front of his head, and a little in the back. Snoopy thinks of his owner as "that round-headed kid". He almost always wears a yellow T-shirt with a black jagged stripe around the middle.
Charlie Brown often utters the catch-phrase "Good grief!" when astonished or dismayed.
Peanuts Sunday strips were often (unofficially) titled Peanuts featuring Good Ol' Charlie Brown. Schulz suggested that as a result, some people inferred that Charlie Brown's name was "Peanuts". 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.
Charlie Brown was one of the original cast members of Peanuts when it debuted in 1950, and the butt of the first joke in the strip. Aside from some stylistic differences in Schulz' art style at the time, Charlie Brown looked much the same. He did, however, wear an unadorned T-shirt; the stripe was added within the first year of strips.
Initially 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 and Patty and Violet. He would cause headaches for adults (knocking all the comic books off their stand at a newsstand, for instance), though he was from the start not especially competent at any skill.
Charlie Brown soon evolved into the sad sack character he's best known as: Feeling enslaved to the care of Snoopy, beset by comments from everyone around him. Common approaches to the strip's storylines included Charlie Brown stubbornly refusing to give in even when all is lost from the outset (e.g., standing on the pitcher's mound alone on the ballfield, refusing to let a torrential downpour interrupt his beloved game), or suddenly displaying a skill and rising within a field, only to suffer a humiliating loss just when he's about to win it all (most famously, Charlie Brown's efforts to win the statewide spelling bee in the short film A Boy Named Charlie Brown).
Linus initially appeared as an infant, but as he aged (and Charlie Brown did not) he became a profound philosopher and Charlie Brown's best friend, often supporting each other in small ways when the other's foibles had been painfully exposed. Linus was himself a sort of loser like Charlie Brown, due to his inability to let go of his superstitions (his security blanket, belief in the Great Pumpkin, paralyzing stage fright, etc.), so the two had much in common.
In 1959 Charlie Brown's parents produced a girl, Sally, who resembled Charlie Brown in some ways, but with a shock of blonde hair. Initially Charlie Brown doted on her, though she too became a thorn in his side as she would pester him for help with her homework, and berate him for misunderstanding certain concepts (despite herself being the one in the wrong). Charlie Brown would stoically and guiltily bear this, although sometimes he was able to let Sally dig her own holes without pulling him in with her.
Charlie Brown maintained this demeanor until the strip ended its run in 2000. He did have occasional victories, though, such as hitting a game-winning home run on March 30, 1993. But by-and-large Charlie Brown was a representative for everyone going through a time when they feel like nothing ever goes right for them. Charlie Brown, however, refuses to give up.