- Calvin and Hobbes taught readers to appreciate the beauty of the natural world and not disrupt it for personal gain.
- The strip addressed timeless social issues, such as the destructive potential of nuclear waste, to highlight the importance of addressing current problems for the future.
- Calvin’s bond with Hobbes brought excitement and joy to his life, showing the importance of meaningful connections in making life less difficult.
Fans everywhere fell in love with the wit and charm found in Calvin and Hobbes. The musings of the precocious six-year-old and his anthropomorphic tiger friend would have readers laughing and thinking deeply over Calvin’s surprisingly thoughtful observations. But as humorous and insightful as Calvin and Hobbes was, every so often, the strip could be surprisingly emotional.
Though generally a comedic series, Calvin and Hobbes examined all facets of life and creator Bill Watterson never shied away from moments that absolutely tugged at readers’ heartstrings. But even in the strip’s more heavy points, some elements showed just how emotionally intelligent Calvin and Hobbes really was.
In this strip, Calvin catches a butterfly and shows it off to his buddy. Hobbes isn’t impressed and comments on humanity’s desire to capture and contain natural elements, leading Calvin to let the butterfly go. It’s a bit sad to see Hobbes ruin Calvin’s fun, but it shows that Calvin understands the beauty of the world around him and that it’s not his place to mess with it.
14 Nuclear Waste
Calvin and Hobbes often brought up timeless social issues. Here, an innocent game of make-believe turns into Calvin commenting on the destructive potential of nuclear waste, to the point it terrifies Hobbes. Though this game takes a phenomenally grim turn, it makes it abundantly clear that the problems of today will absolutely have consequences in the future if nothing is done about them.
13 Another Big Day
Many Calvin and Hobbes strips show the titular duo together. But this Sunday strip sees Calvin go through an entire day on his lonesome. He suffers through school, bullies, chores, and daily responsibilities, all without the assistance of his tiger pal. It really showcases why Calvin relies on Hobbes so much. Without him, Calvin is devoid of the excitement and joy that Hobbes brings to Calvin’s life.
12 “Refuse to Inherit the World”
Calvin is a bright kid, but that often leads to unfortunate realizations. Here, Calvin sees a leveled forest and laments at the waning natural environments. Most people don’t realize the fragility of nature in their youth. But Calvin recognizes the problem of deforestation and wonders what it means for his future. Though he feels cynical at the world he’s being handed, at least he understands the value of the natural world.
11 “I’m Sorry I Did It”
Calvin often came into conflict with his neighbor, Susie Derkins, but one collection of strips sees him take it too far. After calling her names, Calvin discovers he feels guilty for hurting Susie’s feelings. Calvin is pretty introspective for his age, and to see him own up to his mistakes and find the best way of repairing a friendship shows true character for someone usually ignorant of how others feel.
10 Speck of Dust
Calvin and Hobbes’ central characters are named after philosophers, so it makes sense one of the series’ most thought-provoking strips shows the immense nature of the universe. Calvin shouts to the heavens that he’s important but knows all too well that he’s actually just a small piece of a greater whole. At a tender age, he’s already accepted that his actions, though important to him, are utterly meaningless on the cosmic stage.
9 “A Pretty Mean Place”
Despite Calvin’s many adventures with Hobbes, life isn’t perfect for him. Calvin learned that life wasn’t fair when his bigger and stronger bully, Moe, stole Calvin’s favorite toy truck. After contemplating the greedy aspects of human nature, Hobbes consoles his friend with a hug. The world isn’t a fair place, but Calvin and Hobbes reminds readers that the bonds they share with others makes the world a little less rough.
Calvin’s parents are often Calvin and Hobbes’ comedic foils, but in one strip, Calvin is chewed out by his father for breaking his dad’s binoculars before a teary-eyed and contrite Calvin tells his father he feels horrible about it. Calvin is often seen as a hellion, but this strip reveals he’s actually respectful of his parents and doesn’t want to disappoint them.
7 “You Can’t Please Anyone”
In one story arc, Calvin is browbeaten into joining a baseball team. But all he gets for his trouble is being bullied and being called a ‘quitter’ when he wants to stop. Hobbes tries to make things better by telling Calvin to please himself. Peer pressure is hard for kids, so being reminded that people don’t have to do things they don’t want to do is a good message.
6 “He’s Not Gone Inside Me”
One of the most heartbreaking Calvin and Hobbes arcs is Calvin’s attempt to rescue an injured baby raccoon. Unfortunately, the raccoon dies and gives Calvin his first real brush with death. Calvin’s last line in this strip is a painfully relatable quote for anyone who has lost anything or anyone they loved. Even in the midst of tragedy, Calvin continues making observations that cut anyone to the core.
5 Calvin Loses Hobbes
Hobbes is Calvin’s best friend and the primary focus of his intense imagination. So one arc that sees Calvin lose his best pal hits harder than most. Calvin has a worldly personality and often seems older than he is. But this strip is a harsh reminder that the perceptive protagonist is just a child, and his world can easily fall apart due to the loss of his favorite toy.
Calvin’s father gets a moment to himself for a couple of strips after the family’s house is broken into by a robber. Though the family is secure, Calvin’s father thinks about the safety of his family now that their illusion of security is gone. Though Calvin is the star of the strip, his father gets a moment to communicate a very real fear adults have to deal with.
3 Dead Bird
Calvin and Hobbes often wax poetic about life. Upon discovering a dead bird outside their house, Calvin discusses the confusing nature of death and humanity’s inability to truly understand it. Calvin isn’t as emotionally affected as when he lost the baby raccoon, but it manages to make the normally excitable boy pause and reflect on what life truly means to him.
2 “It’s a Magical World”
Like everything else, Calvin and Hobbes came to an end. The strip doesn’t bemoan itsending, nor does it come off as sardonic or embittered. It simply features two friends going on yet another adventure. Fans were almost certainly sad to see the iconic comic strip go. But Bill Watterson leaves fans on a high note, reminding readers that “it’s a magical world”, suggesting it’s time to put the strip down and see it for themselves.
1 “Don’t You Go Anywhere”
The baby raccoon arc came to an end with Calvin and Hobbes memorializing the poor creature. Calvin has accepted that death is a part of life but implores Hobbes to not go anywhere, something the tiger easily assures his friend. The tearjerker arc makes it clear that death is a certainty and that every moment is a gift that people should share with others.
Even when Calvin and Hobbes was at its most serious, these 15 strips prove the series couldn’t help but impart wisdom when readers needed it most.