7 Times Charlie Brown Was Straight-Up Bullied by His Friends

The Big Picture

  • Charlie Brown’s friends consistently mistreat him, giving him stress and anxiety during the holidays, which makes the Peanuts specials much darker than they seem.
  • Charlie is often made the butt of jokes and embarrassments, like being used as a pumpkin carving “model” or being duped by Lucy’s football prank.
  • Charlie’s friends exclude him from parties, treat him poorly during trick-or-treating, and verbally abuse him, causing him feelings of hopelessness and depression.

Poor Charlie Brown. For someone as optimistic and persevering as he tries to be, he sure doesn’t get the same kindness shown to him in return. In a way, that’s the whole point of the long-running (and beloved) Peanuts comic strip that was created by Charles M. Schulz and debuted in 1950. No matter how selfish or mean, critical or insulting, his friends are to him, or how he never succeeds in just about anything he does (like picking out the perfect Christmas decorations or untangling his kite from that pesky Kite-Eating Tree), he doesn’t let that stop him from trying to reach his goals and being the best person he can be. But over thousands of comic strips and countless holiday television specials, there have been some moments that rise above the rest in terms of just how awful he is treated by his peers.

The Peanuts television specials (with a new one on the way) have taken on an almost universal status as an iconic piece of Americana — especially at the holidays — so it’s easy to forget just how darn depressing they are. Whether Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, despite Charlie Brown’s optimism surrounding the holidays, he is continually treated poorly by his friends who give him stress, anxiety, and make him feel badly about himself. Charlie was mistreated in the original comic strip, too, but his friends’ nastiness during the holidays takes it to a whole other level. Here are the seven most savage insults, injuries, and humiliations his so-called “friends” have delivered, making us wish we could give ‘ol Chuck a hug to make it all feel better.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving poster
Image via Apple TV+

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Peppermint Patty invites everyone to Charlie Brown’s for Thanksgiving, even though he’s going to see his grandmother; Snoopy decides to cook his own version of a Thanksgiving meal with help from his friends.

Release Date
November 20, 1973

Bill Melendez, Phil Roman

Todd Barbee, Robin Kohn, Stephen Shea, Hilary Momberger, Christopher DeFaria, Jimmy Ahrens

50 minutes

Charlie’s Role as a Pumpkin Carving “Model”

‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’

Charlie being used as a model for pumpkin carving in It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Image via CBS

Charlie thinks he’s being given a great honor when Lucy wants to use him as a model for her jack o’lantern at Violet’s party. “Me?” he says, clearly shocked. “You want me to model?” It’s only when Violet begins drawing on the back of his bald head with a black marker that Charlie realizes that he has been made the butt of the joke yet again. His mouth scrunches into an angered grimace as his face turns red with cartoon embarrassment. As if being duped by his supposed friends wasn’t enough, Lucy rubs salt into the wound after completing her pumpkin. “Thank you, Charlie Brown. You were a perfect model,” she says, showing that it was her intent to use and embarrass him all along. After this humiliating episode, it’s a small miracle that Charlie Brown doesn’t go full Carrie at the end of Violet’s party.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Lucy pranking Charlie with the football in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Image via CBS

For some reason, Charlie feels like this is the year he’s finally going to kick Lucy’s football. After all, Lucy claims, “the biggest, most important tradition of all is the kicking off of the football.” Charlie is wise to how Lucy has treated him in the past and makes her promise not to pull away the football when he goes to kick it. He charges determinedly forward, reaches the ball and…kicks nothing but air. Lucy swiftly pulls the football away at the last second (yet again), seeming to take great pleasure in both lying to Charlie and potentially causing him serious physical harm when he flies into the air and falls directly on his back. It’s extra crushing that Charlie is basically punished for his seemingly endless supply of optimism…not to mention that Lucy doesn’t feel compelled to show any remorse for nearly shattering her so-called friend’s spine.

His Mistaken Halloween Party Invitation

‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’


It happened! Charlie finally got invited to a Halloween party! He even does a little happy dance to show his jubilation. Of course, it doesn’t last long. Lucy quickly kills his joy, along with his feelings of belonging and acceptance from his peers. “If you got an invitation, it was a mistake,” she warns. “There were two lists, Charlie Brown: one to invite, and one not to invite.” As if that wasn’t disappointing and degrading enough, Lucy feels the need to make things worse by surmising aloud that Charlie “must have been put on the wrong list.” This isn’t the first time Charlie has been excluded from a party, but it’s extra heartbreaking to imagine the nasty scenario of Lucy, Violet, and the rest of his peers sitting down and making it a point to formally write down that Charlie isn’t invited to Violet’s party. Talk about taking bullying and exclusion to the next level.

His Poor Treatment During Trick-or-treating

‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’

Charlie going trick-or-treating with a rock in It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Image via CBS

Charlie couldn’t be more excited to go trick-or-treating with his friends. His night quickly turns disastrous when he has a “little trouble with the scissors” in making his ghost costume, turning his white sheet into a many-holed mess. Unfortunately, things only get worse. During trick-or-treating, every member of the Peanuts gang gets handfuls of candy tossed into their bags…except for Charlie Brown, who gets nothing but a sack full of rocks and disappointment. Each house’s occupant offers the same “treat” of a gray stone followed by Charlie uttering his pitiful phrase, “I got a rock.” As targeted and shamed as Charlie must feel, it’s even more despicable that not one of his friends offered to share their candy stash with him to make up for his sad little haul. Instead, they gleefully exclaim all the good treats they scored like candy, gum, and popcorn balls. Some friends you have there, Charlie.

Peppermint Patty’s Verbal Abuse at Thanksgiving

‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’

Peppermint Patty's thanksgiving dinner in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Image via CBS

Charlie and Sally already have plans to attend Thanksgiving dinner at their grandmother’s house. But all bets are off when Peppermint Patty invites herself (along with Marcie, Franklin, and Linus) to his house for a feast that he’s expected to cook. Not only is Peppermint Patty’s self-invitation extremely rude and selfish, but it causes Charlie to be filled with stress and anxiety over the unexpected guests and “another holiday to worry about,” especially since the only thing he can make is “cold cereal and maybe toast.” But he gives it the ol’ Charlie Brown try when he, along with Linus and Snoopy, manage to throw together a carb-lover’s feast of popcorn, buttered toast, pretzel sticks, and jelly beans. He’s pretty pleased with himself. After all, he did the impossible! He created a meal for his friends out of the goodness of his heart, sure that the gang will be grateful for his efforts.

But the wrath of Peppermint Patty is soon upon him. “What’s this? A piece of toast? A pretzel stick? Popcorn? What blockhead cooked all this?” she says with a disgusted grimace. “Is this what you call a Thanksgiving day dinner? Did we come across town for this?” Not only does she invite herself to Charlie’s house and guilt him into cooking her a meal, but she has the nerve to berate him when she decides it’s not good enough. After that display of awfulness, if there’s anyone who doesn’t deserve dessert after dinner, it’s Peppermint Patty.

His Christmas Depression

‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’

Charlie struggling with depression in A Charlie Brown Christmas
Image via CBS

The holidays are supposed to bring feelings of peace and joy, but Charlie’s not feeling any of that. Instead, he’s wrestling with feelings of hopelessness and depression regarding the Christmas season and the commercialization of the holiday. As he confides in Linus, “I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.” This is one of the times where Charlie openly acknowledges that he’s an outsider and unliked by his peers, which makes it all the more gut-wrenching that none of his friends recognize his feelings and offer a listening ear or helping hand. “I know nobody likes me,” he says. “Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?” No matter what he tries to do in order to lift his spirits, he still feels down in the dumps and goes so far as to visit Lucy for psychiatric help. It’s pretty bad that he feels unwanted and unloved, but even worse that he looks for help from the very people tormenting him and who are the root cause of his negative feelings. If only someone had offered him a cup of cocoa instead of stoking his depression and “fear of everything,” maybe he’d feel a little more jolly.

When He Ruins Christmas

‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’

Charlie holding his twig tree in It's a Charlie Brown Christmas
Image via CBS

Charlie is finally given some responsibility and an opportunity to prove his worth to his friends when Lucy tasks him with selecting a Christmas tree for their play. Charlie doesn’t like the selection of artificial trees with their metallic sheen and neon coloring that “fit the modern spirit,” so he picks one that’s a little more…traditional. The only problem? It’s basically a twig with a handful of pine needles barely hanging onto it. Still, Charlie is proud of it and can’t wait to show Lucy. When he does, he doesn’t get the warm reception he was hoping for. His friends surround him and the tree and, after giving both disgusted looks, take turns using him as a verbal punching bag. Violet and Patty call him “stupid” and “completely hopeless,” while Lucy herself hurls the most awful, personal, and degrading insult of all: “You’ve been dumb before, Charlie Brown, but this time, you really did it.” Even worse is that they completely destroy his self-esteem, so much so that he descends into a depressive tailspin, believing that he ruined Christmas and desperately seeking “anyone who knows what Christmas is all about.” Here, Lucy, Violet, and Patty deliver some of the most vicious insults in all the Peanuts holiday specials, earning them nothing but coal in their stockings.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is now streaming on Apple TV+ in the U.S.

Watch on Apple TV+

#Times #Charlie #Brown #StraightUp #Bullied #Friends

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