Growing up, I, like pretty much everyone else, always associated the world of Charlie Brown with comfort. It makes sense, as the universe of the Peanuts gang seems like a soothing place when you’re a kid, where children get to roam free, celebrate holidays together, dance and sing, and generally have a good time. Rewatching the specials now, however, there’s quite a few strange things about Charlie Brown I never noticed are actually pretty weird when viewed through the eyes of an adult. Trust me: from a mature perspective, there’s a lot about this fictional universe that is actually frankly disconcerting, and isn’t as kid-friendly as you remember.
In rewatching the series, you see that Charlie and his friends have quite a few experiences that just don’t sit as well as they did when you were a child. Maybe it’s because you weren’t fully aware of their implications, or that when you’re young it’s easier to brush off weird stuff in general. Regardless, having rewatched the specials with my fully-formed brain, I now see Charlie Brown and his friends in a completely different light. The strangest part, I think, is that unlike Disney movies and other animated series you grew up with, the Peanuts gang had some pretty surprisingly heavy stuff going on, serving up some emotions that are quite the opposite of what you feel when you listen to the familiar piano of that Christmas soundtrack or see Happiness Is a Warm Puppy on your shelf. There’s a lot about Charlie Brown that shouldn’t give you the warm fuzzies, and portions of their story that get clouded over by nostalgia once you pass into adulthood. Here are a 11 off-kilter things about the Peanuts world that you’ll definitely start noticing now that you’re no longer a kid; things that may just change your perspective on this beloved series as you know it.
1. Charlie Brown Is Constantly Bullied
And not in a way that even makes sense. Charlie’s always trying to do right by his friends, and they constantly belittle his efforts. Whether he’s arranging a Thanksgiving meal or trying to buy a tree for the Christmas play, someone always finds something wrong with what he does, which is more than a little baffling. We get little kids are mean, but geez, can’t they just be happy with him for once?
2. Charlie Takes Advice From Lucy, The Biggest Bully Of All
Lucy’s psychiatric help booth (which is another strange part of the show) is cute in theory, but then you remember that Lucy is Charlie’s biggest bully. So why would he go to her, of all people, for help? I suppose you could equate some of her wisdom to “tough love,” but I don’t know if I (or any adult, really) would buy that.
3. There's An Unhealthy Amount of Unrequited Love
Sally and Linus, Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty, Lucy and Schroeder. There are several cases of one character longing for another, and the other one constantly shutting them down. In all these relationships, the other side is fully aware of their crush, but chooses to either ignore it (as Linus does with the blanket over his head) or to acknowledge it and use it to their advantage (Peppermint Patty, who gets Charlie Brown to throw her and her friends an entire Thanksgiving meal because she knows he will.) As adults, we get to witness a lot more spurned lovers than I remember as a kid, I'll tell you that much.
4. There's No Adult Supervision
This is perhaps one of the most well-known aspects of the Peanuts universe, but it’s still worth mentioning. Except for the occasional "WAH-WAH" phone call, we never see any adults anywhere. For Charlie Brown and his friends, grown ups are barely on the periphery of their day-to-day lives. Rather than depending on adults to understand the world around them, the Peanuts gang navigates it completely by themselves and adults are just standing by on the sidelines. (Which, when you think about it, there could be some truth to, but then we’d be getting super philosophical here and that’s the subject another article altogether.)
5. They Dance Very Strangely
OK, this may not be super disturbing, but come on? The dance moves of the Peanuts gang are based on zero recognizable motions that people use to move to music in the real world.
6. Let's Not Forget Snoopy's Dancing
Adorable, yes, but also so, so weird.
7. Snoopy's Dream World Is Such a Departure From The Story
From pretending to be a famous fighter to writing novels on his typewriter, these sequences now strike me as very strange. I don’t have any problem with anthropomorphism and making a dog into a character that can cook food and set up tables and do all sorts of things for the gang. But Snoopy’s little side plots are vivid and surreal, and in the context of the larger universe, definitely odd.
8. Snoopy and Woodstock's Relationship Is Quite Fraught
Rewatch the series, and you’ll see that their antics were actually not as nice and friendly as you imagined. This pair always struck me as the two that got along most in the series — the animal companions that stuck together in spite of the shenanigans that went down with the rest of the gang, but it turns out I was wrong. There’s something weird about the fact that these cute little animal friends are always fighting. What are children supposed to glean from this?
9. Charlie Has A Pretty Depressing Tone
It goes beyond Charlie’s famous catchphrase, “Good grief." A lot of the characters express their unhappiness in a variety of ways throughout the series, which ends up making for a much sadder watch in adulthood. How did we not notice this as kids?
10. That Freakin' Football Gag Is Awful
As a kid, you might have seen this prank as funny and laughed at its slapstick humor. But, when you really think about it, why does Lucy constantly pull the football away? And why does Charlie fall for it so many times? What’s going on in this exchange, and why do we remember it so fondly? Watching it again today, it just feels wrong.
11. At The Same Time, 'Charlie Brown' Is Also Deep And Contemplative
You’ll remember Linus and Charlie leaning on their wall, discussing life together. But what they discussed is not something I picked up very well as a kid (and if you did, you must have years ahead of your time.) Their thoughts extend beyond silly kid stuff and venture into full-on adult territory, where they wonder about their place in life and what it all means. It’s the kind of stuff that in a kid’s universe just doesn’t seem to belong, but that you can completely appreciate through a mature lens. It’s what gives Charlie Brown a lot of its appeal to adults, and makes it possible to keep rewatching the series well into your later years, unlike the rest of the stuff you outgrew.