"Lucy comes from that part of me that’s capable of saying mean and sarcastic things, which is not a good trait to have, so Lucy gives me a good outlet. But each character has a weakness and Lucy’s weakness is Schroeder."
Charles M. Schulz on Lucy van Pelt
Lucy van Pelt (sometimes referred to as Lucille) is a major female character in the Peanuts comic strip and the animated TV specials and movies based on it. She is the older sister of Linus and Rerun.
Lucy has the third most appearances in the TV specials, ranking below Linus, who appears in all but two specials, and Charlie Brown and Snoopy, who appear on every special and movie. Lucy is absent from What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown, What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown?, Snoopy's Reunion and It's the Girl in the Red Truck, Charlie Brown.
Lucy was introduced into the strip on March 3, 1952 as a wide-eyed baby who constantly tormented her parents. Very early on, Schulz eliminated the circles around her eyes and allowed her to mature to the age of the other characters. She soon grew into the familiar bossy, crabby, selfish girl known to Peanuts readers today.
Lucy usually wears white and black saddle shoes and a dress. In the television specials the dress is colored blue. However, sometime in the early 1980s (definitely by 1984), she was seen more often in a sweatshirt and pants, and was seen in a dress only in strips where she flirted with Schroeder for a few more years. Her dress was phased out completely by the 1990s.
Perhaps Lucy's most iconic joke in her long existence as a character is the one in which she pulls the football away from Charlie Brown right as he is about to kick it. The first occasion on which she did this was November 16, 1952, taking over from Violet, who had previously subjected Charlie Brown to this on November 14, 1951 in the worries he would kick her hands. Lucy at first pulled the ball away because she was afraid Charlie Brown's shoes were dirty, and she did not want to get her new ball dirty. When Charlie Brown asked her to hold it still again she held it down so tight Charlie Brown tripped over it. Afterwards, Lucy would always intentionally pull the football away from Charles Brown to trick him. The most infamous example of this gag is in the animated special It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown, where her actions cost the football team the Homecoming game, Charlie Brown is blamed by the other players even though he is clearly not at fault. Many viewers wrote to complain about Charlie Brown's unfair treatment in the special. As a result, some scenes of other players criticizing Charlie Brown were edited out in later screenings of the special. Lucy herself cannot kick a football.
Another thing Lucy is very well known for his her psychiatry booth, where she gives people lousy advice for a nickel.
For all her crabbiness and bad temper, Lucy does have a romantic side: she is in love with Schroeder, but he does not return her affection. Lucy seems secretly insecure about her apperance, as she shows a need for assurance from Schroeder and Charlie Brown that she is pretty (constantly asking them for their opinion of her appearance), and is known to react harshly when she receives an unfavorable, or even hesitant, answer; this shows her extreme vanity. Indeed, Lucy seems to be rather thin-skinned when it comes to being insulted herself. In one strip, Linus counters her statement that he is a terrible brother by saying that she is not such a great sister either, which makes Lucy burst into tears. In another time, her reaction to Charlie Brown telling her that she is not perfect is to storm off angrily without even a word, leaving Charlie Brown to comment, "I've never seen anyone so insulted!"
Lucy appears to be horrible when it comes to playing on Charlie Brown's baseball team. She plays right field and always misses easy catches when the ball comes to her in the outfield. Then she will give Charlie Brown a lame excuse why she missed it, for instance "The moons of Saturn got in my eyes", or "I think there were toxic substances coming from my glove, and they made me dizzy", or "I was having my quiet time." Other times, she finds an excuse to have one-sided conversations with Charlie Brown at the pitcher's mound, often over some trivial thing she noticed, which usually results in Charlie Brown blowing his top and yelling at her to "Get back in center field where you belong!" (despite her being the right fielder). In one strip, Charlie Brown berates her for letting fly balls drop, and tells her he will not brook any more excuses such as the grass getting in her eyes; Lucy catches the ball cleanly, and tosses it back to him on the mound silently, after which he admits he was actually looking forward to her next excuse.
In many strips, Lucy gets "bonked" on the head with the fly ball. In a 1983 Sunday strip, the ball hits every outfielder's head and most of the infield. Schroeder says to Charlie Brown, "You're right, I think six bonks is a new record." In a series of strips that later became part of the 2003 TV special Lucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown trades Lucy to Peppermint Patty's baseball team for Marcie (and a pizza), but once Patty discovers what a terrible player Lucy really is, she trades her back. Even on the diamond, Lucy flirts with Schroeder, who plays catcher on Charlie Brown's team. In one strip, she calls for a "squeeze play...I'll squeeze the catcher!" and walks away happily while Schroeder and Charlie Brown look on.
In the early days, Lucy was introduced as a baby who would deliberately annoy her father, asking for a drink of water at the worst times. She was shown to have a slight crush on Charlie Brown and wondered if they would ever get married, and she liked to annoy him too by asking him to read her stories among other things. In 1953, Lucy started to become known as a "fussbudget" as she fussed a lot, a name which Lucy took as a compliment. Lucy was able to complain about anything, even dumb things, for instance in the strip from October 28, 1954 she is upset when she receives a Halloween pumpkin that is not blue.
As the years went on, Lucy would become one of the most complex and commonly recurring characters. Her personality became more stubborn, crabby, selfish, egotistical, temperamental and even violent, turning her into the most antagonistic character in the strip. Most of the strips she appears in show her threatening, complaining and/or taunting. She is easy to anger when she does not get what she wants. Occasionally, she is shown doing something selfless and caring to others when she is calmer, especially to Linus, the keyword being occasionally.
Lucy is rather creative at throwing insults that are completely uncalled for in both subtle and outright offensive ways, usually to Charlie Brown, but her general knowledge and common sense remained at the bottom of the ocean after her personality change: she is dumb enough to say things like "I hate it when I'm not around!" and "Snow comes up from the ground!". She also lost her baseball skills (she was initially a good player) and turned into the weak, terrible baseball player she would remain as for the rest of the strip's run, but would still show up for almost every game just because Schroeder does the same.
Lucy often prefers to do things in brute force ways, attempting to cure Linus' need for his security blanket by simply taking it from him, and giving nothing but brutal and obvious advice from her psychiatry booth (which she opened in March 27, 1959). Like Charlie brown, Lucy does not tend to quit, especially when it comes to her unrequited love for Schroeder, whom she is very confident and openly flirtatious around without realizing or caring much that she is rudely interrupting his piano practice.
Charles M. Schulz described Lucy as an outlet to his darker personality.
In the later years of the strip, after the birth of Rerun van Pelt, Lucy begins to soften up and become nicer, without completely abandoning her tendency to moan.
See main article: Lucy and Linus' relationship
Lucy abuses her little brother Linus for no reason, and often bosses him around or calls him a blockhead. She often treats him like a servant by telling him to get her something to eat or drink while they are both watching television. She also hates many of his habits, and frequently tries to get him to give them up. Though, sometimes, she apologizes for her behavior like when she upset Linus by saying she wanted a sister, not the "stupid" brother she got. Linus cried, until Lucy apologized.
See main article: Charlie Brown and Lucy's relationship
Lucy treats Charlie Brown worse than she does anyone else. Aside from her infamous football prank, Lucy often just walks right up to him unprovoked to call him different insults, such as "dumb" and "weak". Lucy is often unable to realize she is hurting Charlie Brown even though it is completely obvious (an example is the above strip). Sometimes she also teases him on purpose, she gives "psychiatric advice" by insulting and belittling him. When Charlie Brown fails at something, Lucy is quick to point it out, as illustrated by the series of strips from January and February 1964 (later adapted into the script of A Boy Named Charlie Brown) in which she puts together a slide presentation of all of Charlie Brown's faults, and subsequently demands that he pay her a sum of $143 for her services.
In the early days of the strip, however, Lucy is shown to have an innocent crush on Charlie Brown. And even later in the strip she gives hints to marriage with Charlie Brown. For instance, in the strip from October 5, 1957, Lucy mentions to Charlie Brown that she may someday be the mother of his children, and in the strip from June 8, 1960, she mentions to Charlie Brown that if he were to become the President of the United States, she would make a good First Lady.
In strips from the later years of Peanuts, however, Lucy began to soften up to Charlie Brown. For example, the two occasionally talk about life at the brick wall.
See main article: Lucy and Schroeder's relationship
Lucy is madly in love with Schroeder. She has even said that the only reason that she joined Charlie Brown's baseball team is because Schroeder also plays on the team as the catcher. There are some strips in which it appears that Schroeder has some feelings for Lucy but, on the whole, Lucy's love for Schroeder goes unrequited, for the love of Schroeder's life is his music and his piano. Schroeder seeks to emulate his idol, Ludwig van Beethoven who never married, in every way. Schroeder's rejection of her sometimes causes Lucy to lose her temper. She has taken her anger out on Schroeder's piano, throwing it into the Kite-Eating Tree and throwing it down a sewer, but each time Schroeder orders a replacement piano. In one strip, she smashes the bust of Beethoven that sits on top of the piano but it is then revealed that Schroeder has a closet full of identical busts.
Lucy seems to have a rocky, or at least competitive relationship with Violet Gray, they are sometimes seen fighting each other, verbally in the strip. The two seem to have a friend-enemy relationship, although they both like to harass Charlie Brown, along with Patty.
By contrast, Lucy's relationship with her youngest brother, Rerun (who entered the strip as a baby in the early 1970s but did not become a major character until the mid 1990s), is much less turbulent. Despite her initial dismay over his birth (lamenting that she was experiencing a "rerun" with another baby brother, thus giving him his nickname), Lucy in fact took on something of a mentor role for Rerun, teaching him important things he needs to survive in life, such as how to tie his shoes. In the later years of the strip, Rerun was often shown returning home from kindergarten and reporting on the day's events to Lucy. In his Schulz biography, Schulz and Peanuts, David Michaelis comments that Rerun eventually became "more of a young son to Lucy than a younger brother."
Rerun often shows a knack for getting around Lucy and weakening her defenses, whereas Linus is apt to give up and just let Lucy dominate him. In one strip, Lucy walks up to Rerun building a sand castle in a sandbox, and asks him what he would do if she kicked it down. Rerun responds; "Oh, nothing I guess. But years from now, when you and your husband come over to my house, and ask me to co-sign for a loan for you, I might remember it". Lucy appears to think this over for a moment, and then walks away grinding her teeth in frustration, while Rerun smugly continues building his sand castle.
Lucy is terrified of being licked or kissed by Snoopy, and usually runs off screaming whenever he does kiss her. Snoopy is naturally infatuated with her and likes to tease her about it. On several occasions, her flirting with Schroeder has inadvertently resulted in a kiss from Snoopy - Schroeder walks away as soon as Lucy begins flirting, but then Snoopy appears, hears Lucy talking about a kiss, and kisses her, which inevitably results in Lucy running off in hysterics. Schroeder also once had Snoopy kiss Lucy to get out of kissing her himself, by having Snoopy act as his "representative" to deliver a kiss on Beethoven's birthday.
Lucy and Snoopy have also occasionally found themselves in not-so-friendly competition. In a series of strips from February 1967, the two face off in an arm-wrestling tournament. The competition ends abruptly after Snoopy kisses Lucy on the nose and she recoils in horror. More than once in the course of the strip they have resorted to fist-fighting, Snoopy often wins by default by trying to kiss or lick Lucy's face.
On several occasions, Charlie Brown has had Snoopy stay at Lucy's house while he and his family go on vacation, and Lucy usually treats her canine house guest inhospitably (i.e. forcing him to sleep outside in one of her old doll beds).
However, the strip from April 25, 1960 shows a rare moment of Lucy showing affection towards Snoopy by hugging him and then saying one of the most famous quotes in the strip's history, "Happiness is a warm puppy." Lucy herself acknowledged in another strip that although there were times when Snoopy drove her crazy, there were also times when she felt like hugging him, which she then proceeded to do.
Lucy is often shown reading Snoopy, the World Famous Author's stories, and offering him critical advice on how to improve his writings. Her criticism is often insulting, but sometimes constructive; either way, Lucy can never give sufficient-enough advice to him.
In the bed scene in Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown, Lucy admits that when she usually goes to bed, her mother kisses her goodnight first. Marcie adds that it is hard to go to sleep without a kiss goodnight from someone. Seconds later, Snoopy comes bursting through the door and kisses all the girls except Peppermint Patty. When he kisses Lucy, she does not resist by doing anything and does not react after he kisses her. This is one exception, but normally, Lucy will never let Snoopy kiss her.
- Tracy Stratford (1965)
- Sally Dryer (1966-1968)
- Pamelyn Ferdin (1969-1971)
- Robin Kohn (1972-1973)
- Melanie Kohn (1974-1977)
- Lynn Mortensen (1976)
- Sarah Beach (1976)
- Michelle Muller (1977-1979)
- Kirsten Fullerton (1980-1981)
- Sydney Penny (1981)
- Angela Lee (1983)
- Heather Stoneman (1985)
- Jessica Lee Smith (1984-1985)
- Melissa Guzzi (1985)
- Tiffany Billings (1986-1988)
- Ami Foster (1988)
- Jennifer Banko (1990)
- Marnette Patterson (1992)
- Molly Dunham (1993)
- Jamie Cronin (1995-1997)
- Rachel Davey (2000)
- Lauren Schaffel (2002)
- Serena Berman (2002-2003)
- Ashley Rose Orr (2003)
- Stephanie Patton (2006)
- Michelle Creber (2008)
- Grace Rolek (2011)
- Hadley Miller (2015)
The Broadway musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown featured Reva Rose as Lucy in the 1967 version, and Ilana Levine in the 1999 version.
- (To Charlie Brown) "You blockhead!"
- (After having eaten a couple of Charlie Brown's records in front of him) "Lucy eat th' three mice mice!"
- "One, one, one, one, one, one..." (Lucy's only words as she jumps rope in her first appearance because she is unable to count up to two)
- "Charles Brown! You! You make me mad!" (from A Boy Named Charlie Brown)
- "I hate it when I get paid in dog food!" (following Snoopy's payment after telling Lucy as the "psychiatrist" of his disappointing family reunion).
- "I'd always get up real early for you." (Schroeder: For what possible reason?) "To fry your coffee!"
- (After Linus' failure in You're Not Elected Charlie Brown) "Oh you blockhead!"