There's this image in people's heads that all comic strips abide by the greeting card sensibility. Draw a simple character. Make a simple joke. Let people go on with their day. It's a pity too considering that there are several cartoonists throughout history who strove to make comic strips of actual substance. Bill Watterson's Calvin & Hobbes was a showcase of pure imagination. Aaron McGruder's The Boondocks still resonates with modern fans. Perhaps, best of all, one cartoonist in particular managed to resonate with a variety of people with just two simple words: "Good grief!"
Yes, Charles Schulz' Peanuts is one of the most successful and critically acclaimed comic strips around and for good reason. Schulz didn't just aim to make simple greeting card jokes but wrote sincerely out of issues and anxieties within his own life, such as his childhood issues in school, complications in relationships, and his ongoing rivalry with happiness. As the Peanuts gang returns to theaters, this list will be in honor of that sincerity, as it will run down the saddest quotes from Charlie Brown.
10 "Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, 'Where have I gone wrong'. Then a voice says to me, 'This is going to take more than one night.'"
Acting as one of blockhead's most famous lines, this quote speaks so much to Charlie Brown's levels of anxiety and self-deprecation. On one level, it suggests that there's just something in the world conspiring against him. On another, it suggests that Charlie Brown is just failing at life itself. Just the notion of the "Sometimes I lie awake at night..." strips (this really isn't the only one) hint at Charlie Brown's own restlessness and obsessive behavior. If anything, this really pulls at the heartstrings of the reader, as child and adult alike just wish for Charlie Brown to get a good night's sleep.
9 "I think I'm afraid of being happy because whenever I get too happy, something bad always happens."
Peanuts and the story of Charlie Brown are all very much about the woes of childhood trauma, stemming from repeated mistakes, inherent awkwardness, the inability to handle it all, and the insecurity to think that one should. What really separates Peanuts from other coming-of-age-esque stories is that it doesn't try to appeal to its direct age group.
It's about children with childlike issues talking about them like adults. Case in point: the quote above is not just about being unhappy but living an entire a life of unhappiness via routine, trial-and-error, experience, etc. It's a learned trait that Charlie Brown learned way too early.
8 "I've developed a new philosophy. I only dread one day at a time!"
As opposed to #2's point on consistency and habit, Charlie Brown's little gem here speaks to moderation and restraint. It suggests that on any occasion prior, Charlie Brown had spent his days worrying about other days, days yet to come, yet to exist, or have come and by. It's an interesting lesson within its own right to just try and handle every day as it comes, though ole Chuck does put an interesting spin on it, stating that just "dreading" one day at a time is an improvement for him.
7 "What can you do when you don't fit in?"
It's no secret to any Peanuts fan that Charlie Brown has a bit of an issue fitting in, making friends, or finding his way in the world. But, perhaps, if you're new, here's the run down: Peanuts is not so much about the little adventures of kids as it is about their failures, with Charlie Brown being the most consistent.
Movies like "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" or "Charlie Brown's All Stars" are dedicated to Chuck's delusions of grandeur and insecurities inevitably leading to bigger falls, further alienating him from the rest of the Peanuts gang. This quote pretty much summarizes the trial-and-error of Charlie Brown's life, as he struggles to find that certain X factor.
6 "I'm even too tired to cry."
There's an energy to this one that speaks levels to exhaustion and the Sisyphus-like repetition of failure and sadness. To dull the blade a bit, Charlie Brown isn't exactly breaking down here but gesturing to another failed baseball game (another among a litany of them), but it's still sad to consider the sheer consistency of it all and how it wears down the boy. Charlie Brown will always try to win the ball game. He'll always try to fix up another kite. He'll always try to kick the football. Every season, we know he won't.
5 "My anxieties have anxieties."
To add a little more perspective that is Peanut's world of childhood depression, how many "Psychiatric Help" stands does one think actually exist in the world? It'd be neat if there were (and for 5 cents a pop), but there really isn't that much demand in the real world as there is for Lemonade stands or Girl Scout Cookies. In the Peanuts world, however, Charlie Brown is all the demand anyone needs, as the quote here personifies the multiplicity of his issues. Hiding within Charlie Brown's own head is an entire breeding ground of anxieties.
4 "Last night, I dreamt that somebody loved me."
Now, this one just really hits home. Who can't connect with wanting somebody to love, let alone the lovelorn issues of a lonely, grade school kid? There are plenty of Charlie Brown strips that have him just sitting in bed, contemplating the existence of life (eat your heart out, Garfield), but this one really speaks to Charlie Brown's actual wants and desires out of his life, not just his worries. Personifying all of his exploits throughout the series, Charlie Brown is a character that just wants to love and be loved.
3 "I thought being in love was supposed to make you happy..."
Adding on to Charlie Brown's growing list of love and relationship woes, even getting to love someone has caused the boy immense amounts of distress. However, as Alfred Lord Tennyson once said, " 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." Charlie Brown on any given day can speak to the sadness of futility.
However, it is on his better ones that he helps readers remember the duality of happiness, something that gives proportionate amount of pain as it does joy. In the case of Charlie Brown, once he's found new purpose in life, so does he find new worries.
2 "There must be millions of people all over the world who never get any love letters...I could be their leader."
Finishing this list's trend of Charlie Brown's odd fixation with love, his quote hear really shapes him up to be the king of fools. Always one to check his mailbox, Charlie Brown sets himself up for disappointment once again, as it is less than surprisingly vacant of any love letters. There is an air of belonging and camaraderie, though, as this quote speaks not only to Charlie Brown's love life but that of millions of unlucky, lovelorn people. One should be so fortunate as to have such a recognizable mascot for lonely Saturday nights.
1 "Of course, sometimes, mornings aren't so pleasant either. Waking up and wondering if anyone would really miss me if I never got out of bed. Then there's the night, too. Lying there and thinking about all the stupid things I've done during the day. And all those hours in between when I do all those stupid things."
Finishing off this list is a loaded monologue from Peanut's own broadway hit "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." While not exactly written by Charles Schulz himself, it's interesting to see the kind of attitudes and sensibilities that Schulz inspires. In the case of what one thinks a Charlie Brown might say, this entire love letter to sleepless nights and lonely mornings is born. It's sad to think about all the sadness that is synonomous with Charlie Brown. However, coming from that, it's even more wondrous to consider how he connects with the deeper feelings of fans and inspires interesting discussion pieces like this musical.