10 Peanuts Characters You’ve Probably Forgotten
Everyone knows Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus. But do you recall these less-celebrated members of the Peanuts gang?
1. 555 95472
One of the most bizarre characters in the Peanuts universe was “555 95472,” or “5” for short. Introduced in September 1963, 5 explained that his father was so upset about people being seen as “just a number,” he renamed the entire family as a series of digits. The family's last name is taken from their ZIP Code, though when spoken, 5 insists there's an accent on the 4. The ZIP Code, by the way, is the real one for Sebastopol, California, where Charles Schulz lived at the time.
5’s sisters 3 and 4 made a few appearances in the strip before disappearing, but 5 was occasionally a background character until 1981. You've probably seen 3, 4, and 5 already and didn't even know it—all three appear in the famous dance sequence in A Charlie Brown Christmas. 3 and 4 are the twin girls in purple dresses, while 5 is the spiky-haired kid in orange.
2. Charlotte Braun
Charlotte Braun was written as a female version of Charlie Brown.
In fact, she looked just like him, except she had curly hair. She, too, was ostracized by her peers, but it was because she was loud and obnoxious, a fact she constantly pointed out during her appearances in the comic strip.
Shortly after her introduction in 1954, Schulz received a letter from Elizabeth Swain, a young fan in Pittsburgh, who told him to get rid of Braun because Swain found the character annoying and unfunny. Schulz wrote Swain a letter (which is now in the Library of Congress) saying that he would soon “discard” Braun as requested. He added a touch of dark humor by saying that Swain would “have the death of an innocent child on your conscience. Are you prepared to accept such responsibility?” Next to his signature, he included a sketch of Charlotte Braun with an ax stuck in her head. Braun showed up in the comic one more time, but then never returned.
3. Snoopy's Fiancée (Genevieve)
After disappearing one night, Snoopy returns in the morning to say he has met the “beagle of his dreams” and he’s getting married. But on the day of the nuptials, Snoopy’s fiancée runs off with Snoopy’s brother, Spike, who was set to be the Best Beagle at the ceremony. Soon after, a heartbroken Snoopy receives a letter from Spike saying that his ex-fiancée ran off with a coyote.
Snoopy's fiancée was never seen in the comic strip. But when the storyline became the basis for the 1985 TV special, Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown, she's both seen and given a name—Genevieve. A few other changes were made as well - instead of a beagle she’s a poodle, and she doesn't run off with Spike, but with a golden retriever.
4. Tapioca Pudding
When Tapioca Pudding was introduced in September 1986, she said that, with her blond hair, smile, and catchy name, her father believes they could make a million dollars by licensing her image for products like t-shirts, lunch boxes, and greeting cards. It's all she ever talked about.
Tapioca was a jab at the many cartoon characters in the 1980s created purely to be licensed for use on products. Her name, as well as other hints throughout the storyline, suggest that the real target of Schulz’s satire was probably Strawberry Shortcake, a character originally featured on a line of greeting cards. When the cards became big sellers, 32 similar food-themed cartoon friends were created and appeared on everything from toys to clothing to a Saturday morning cartoon.
5. Shut Up and Leave Me Alone
When the Peanuts gang attended summer camp in 1971, Charlie Brown introduced himself to his tentmate, a boy sitting on a cot, with his back to the reader. “Shut up and leave me alone,” he responded. Throughout this series of summer camp strips, Charlie Brown repeatedly tried to get his tentmate to come to lunch, to join him at an astronomy lesson, or to meet Peppermint Patty. But the kid never moved, and all he ever says is, “Shut up and leave me alone.”
Despite the cold shoulder, Charlie Brown writes to his tentmate after camp is over. He's surprised to get a letter back, but the single sentence reply is entirely predictable.
6. The Goose Eggs
After Charlie Brown took a bite out of his old nemesis, the Kite-Eating Tree, he received a stern letter from the Environmental Protection Agency. Convinced he’s headed to jail, Charlie Brown went on the lam. He met a group of Little Leaguers—Austin, Ruby, Leland and Milo—who asked him to coach their team, The Goose Eggs.
The kids are young and small—the catcher's mask completely covers Leland's head, Milo can't even lift the bat to swing it, and Austin asks how he's supposed to get down from the pitcher's mound—so they're underdogs to be sure. Of course their first game is against Charlie Brown's friends, who refuse to play because they're afraid they'll step on the little kids. It's here that Charlie Brown learns he can go back home, as the evidence against him was destroyed when the Kite-Eating Tree blew over in a storm.
While hunting for truffles in the countryside, Snoopy and Linus found the next best thing—a young girl named Truffles, who was visiting her grandfather's farm. Linus instantly likes her, but he can’t find his way back to the farm to see her again. They talk on the phone a few times, but Truffles soon goes back home and they lose touch.
Then, in 1977, Linus went back to the farm where he met Truffles, and the two picked up where they left off. Sally was jealous and the girls start arguing. Unwilling to be part of the squabble, Linus climbed to the roof of the barn, but was too scared to come down. So Sally hired Woodstock and Snoopy—who can fly by spinning his ears like helicopter blades—to rescue her “Sweet Babboo.”
Sadly, Truffles was never seen again.
In February 1995, Charlie Brown met a girl named Emily who asked him to be her partner in a dance class. After they shared an “enchanted afternoon,” Charlie Brown was smitten.
But at the next class, Emily was absent. When Charlie Brown asked the instructor where Emily is, he's told there's no one by that name in the class. It turns out Charlie Brown was dancing alone and talking to himself the whole time; Emily was merely a figment of his lonely imagination.
Emily and Charlie Brown danced again in 1996 and 1999. There was never any mention of her being imaginary, and in one instance, Snoopy even joins them. But with no other characters meeting her – and Snoopy having a pretty wild imagination himself – many fans believe that Emily never actually existed.
9. Peggy Jean
Charlie Brown and his girlfriend, Peggy Jean, met on the boat docks at summer camp in 1990. Peggy Jean gave Charlie Brown his first kiss, said she loved him, and wrote letters to him after camp was over. Sadly, he never received those letters. That's because upon meeting her, he was so nervous that he introduced himself as “Brownie Charles,” a mistake he was too embarrassed to correct. So when the mailman tried to deliver Peggy Jean's letters, Sally turned them away, saying no one by that name lived at the address.
After appearing periodically for many years, the last Peggy Jean comic was on July 11, 1999, when the two met on the docks at summer camp once again. But this time, Peggy Jean told Charlie Brown she can't stay because she had to go meet her boyfriend. Devastated, Charlie Brown used a pay phone to call the one friend he could always count on—Snoopy.
10. Joe Shlabotnik
It’s fitting that Charlie Brown's favorite baseball player would be a guy whose career was anything but spectacular. After batting .004 in one season in the majors, Joe Shlabotnik was sent back down to the minor leagues, where his most notable highlight was throwing out a runner who'd fallen down between first and second base.
When Shlabotnik became the manager for the Waffletown Syrups, Charlie Brown finally got to meet his hero. While in the stands, Charlie Brown snagged a foul ball, and he wanted Shlabotnik to sign it. Unfortunately, Shlabotnik had been fired in the middle of the game.
By the way, don't bother looking for pictures of Shlabotnik. Like all adults, he's never actually seen in Peanuts.
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What other little-known members of the Peanuts gang deserve a mention?