Peanuts: Why Lucy is Actually Charlie Brown’s Friend, Not Bully
Lucy is usually interpreted as Charlie Brown’s bully. This can be true, but some forgotten comic strips prove she’s actually one of his best friends.
It’s understandable why one might think Lucy Van Pelt is Charlie Brown’s bully in Charles Schulz’s Peanuts. In most TV and movie adaptations, Lucy is either the antagonist or a straight-up bully to Charlie Brown. However, in the original comic strips, which remain as one of the longest-running comic storylines today, there are several moments where Lucy confides in Charlie Brown and vice versa.
If people were to look back at the first Peanuts animated adaptation, A Charlie Brown Christmas, they would see Lucy and Charlie Brown’s relationship as it most closely resembles the comic strips. Most fans know the iconic story: Charlie Brown admits to Linus that he feels depressed. He eventually visits Lucy’s iconic psychiatric booth, and some might think Lucy is uncharacteristically kind to Charlie Brown. Of course, the special ends with Lucy making fun of his poor excuse for a tree with her friends, Violet, Patty, and even Snoopy. Lucy’s attitude, however, like her ability to empathize with her patient earlier on and coming up with his position as the Christmas play’s director, rings true to many of Peanuts’ most enduring comic strips.
In the comics, not only does Charlie Brown frequent the psychiatric booth a lot more, but Lucy also commonly leans on Charlie Brown for emotional support. Charlie Brown and Linus tend to have many philosophical conversations while leaning on a brick wall. In the comics, Lucy also has deep talks with Charlie Brown on that same wall. The key to understanding Lucy in the comics is knowing she’s a social chameleon. While hanging out with other girls like Violet, Patty, and Frieda, Lucy pretends to despise Charlie Brown and make fun of him. Although she still pretends to hate him while alone, Lucy treats Charlie Brown much better in private. It’s clear that Lucy, although unquestionably aggressive, always wants to help Charlie Brown. She may be a toxic one, but she certainly at least qualifies as Good ol’ Charlie Brown’s friend.
Schulz didn’t make any of his characters one-dimensional. In a series with 17,897 comic strips, that was almost impossible. With so many stories in existence, Lucy ends up starring in a few strips of her own. Even if Schulz’s daily strips are only four panels, they do a great job ensuring an empathetic relationship with every single one of his characters at one point or another. In a 1997 interview with PBS, Schulz states, “Lucy relieves all the sarcastic things [Schulz] might say.”
Furthermore, in “Good Ol’ Charles Schulz,” his first biographic documentary by American Masters, it’s evident that Schulz’s marriage with Joyce Halverson influenced the creation of Lucy. Perhaps this is why Lucy is initially more empathetic and supportive towards Charlie Brown. After Schulz and Halverson’s divorce in 1972, Peppermint Patty, the character Schulz created based on his second wife, takes the role of having similar profound and emotional conversations with Charlie Brown. It’s interesting to examine Schulz’s personal history next to Lucy and Peppermint Patty. Even still, Lucy occasionally helps Charlie Brown as her psychiatric patient after these events.
Lucy is usually interpreted as Charlie Brown’s bully. This can be true, but some forgotten comic strips prove she’s actually one of his best friends. It’s understandable why one might think Lucy Van Pelt is Charlie Brown’s bully in Charles Schulz’s Peanuts. In most TV and movie adaptations, Lucy is either the antagonist or a…