- For the one-off character from the movie Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!!), see Violette
“[Violet represents] the worst side of myself.”
—Charles M. Schulz on Violet Gray
One of the strip's earlier characters dating from 1951, Violet was seen less frequently after other female characters such as Lucy, Sally, and Peppermint Patty were introduced and developed in the 1950s and 60s. Post-1970s appearances by Violet are rare, and after that she was usually seen only as a background character. Her last appearance was in 1997.
Violet made her debut on February 7, 1951, making her the first major character to join the cast of the original four Peanuts characters (which consisted of Charlie Brown, Patty, Shermy, and Snoopy). She is best friends with Patty and they would often appear together as a duo. In the early strips, Violet was often portrayed as a preschool-aged Suzy Homemaker: making mud pies, playing "house," and imagining romantic scenarios involving her and Charlie Brown. On rare occasions, Violet was shown walking and keeping company with Shermy. She also collects stamps as a hobby and plays left field (and sometimes third base) on Charlie Brown's baseball team, usually popping up in that capacity from time to time in later strips.
Notably, Violet was the first character ever not to let Charlie Brown kick a football. However, her reason for pulling away was for fear of him kicking her hand, whereas Lucy's motivation is usually sheer malice.
Violet never really developed a strong personality, especially when compared to the three characters who are introduced right after her (Schroeder, Lucy, and Linus). She would eventually be utilized as a straight woman to set up a punchline, almost similiar to that of Patty's role in the strip. However, while Violet first appeared a few months after Patty, Violet would go on to become a much more prominent character. In later years, it became rare for Violet to appear in the same strip as Patty. After Patty disappeared in 1976, Violet kept on appearing, mostly hanging around with her other friend Lucy, and often was left with very little to do besides antagonizing Charlie Brown. Schulz spoke of such characters in a 1988 interview. "Some characters just don't seem to have enough personality to carry out ideas," he said, referring to Violet, Patty and Shermy. "They're just almost born straight men."
A good example has Violet setting up a toy farmyard, including a house, barn, tractor and tree which is suddenly hit by Charlie Brown's kite. Charlie Brown looks embarrassed but not so worried as he was when his kite had hit Lucy's hand in a previous strip and, as the cast of characters grew, Violet was left with very little to do besides antagonizing Charlie Brown.
Her birthday is unofficially celebrated by Peanuts fans on June 17. Charlie Brown and "Pig-Pen" attend her birthday party on that date in 1962 (although in the February 22, 1951 strip, she mentions that her birthday was "a month ago", and in the January 29, 1955, strip, Charlie Brown claims her birthday was "yesterday"). Her surname, Gray, was mentioned only once, on April 4, 1953.
Violet is drawn with shoulder-length dark hair and is usually seen wearing a dress (although in later strips she is often shown wearing pants) and Mary Jane shoes.
Schulz originally alternated her hairstyle between braids and a ponytail, but within a few years she appeared exclusively with the ponytail look (her braids made a return in the January 10, 1989 strip). In fact, it became so rare to see her without a ponytail that in the strip from November 23, 1962, Linus is startled enough to ask why she is wearing her hair down on her way to school. She yells that it is because her mother did not have time to comb her hair, since she was in such a hurry to go to Linus' house to play pool with his mother.
Violet's dress is colored green in the animated TV specials and the films A Boy Named Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Come Home, Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown and Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!!) In other media, including The Peanuts Movie, Violet's dress has been shown colored purple.
Violet's most consistent personality trait is that she tends to be a bit of a snob, oftentimes being very self-conscious of her appearance and status. It is implied that her family enjoys a considerably higher class standing than the other characters. Both of her parents are college graduates and her father earns more money than Charlie Brown's (although the latter is not much of a claim since Mr. Brown is a barber). In one strip, she orders Linus to dress more stylishly, whereupon he quickly transforms his blanket into an ascot. She also frequently criticizes "Pig-Pen" for his inability to keep himself clean. Violet often looks down on people who fail to meet her elevated social standards, especially towards Charlie Brown, to whom she flatly states in one strip, "It simply goes without saying that you are an inferior human being." His adroit reply to that was, "If it goes without saying, why did you have to say it?!".
Being supposedly of an upper-class upbringing, Violet also makes it a point to frequently brag about her father. This sometimes leads driving Charlie Brown to the point of aggravation, to which Violet's boastings to him are always comparative; to wit, she says, "My dad is taller than your dad", or "My dad has more credit cards than your dad". But in a Father's Day strip, her boasts are quelled for a moment when Charlie Brown takes her to his dad's barber shop. After telling her about how his dad always smiles at him no matter how bad of a workday he is having, an overwhelmed Violet walks away, but not before quietly wishing Charlie Brown a Happy Father's Day. Her bragging on her dad backfires again in another strip when "5" fires back, "My dad goes to PTA meetings!". Charlie Brown once managed to deflate her with the comeback: "My dad has a son."
Violet and Patty are best friends and they would often appear as a duo. They mostly talked about how much they disliked Charlie Brown, although in the early days, they talked about how much they liked him. They also ganged up against him and abused him verbally, sometimes under the lead of the more commonly seen Lucy.
In the early years of the strip, Violet's relationship with Charlie Brown seem to change day to day. In some strips, Violet would tell Charlie Brown how much she likes him, and be concerned about whether or not he liked her back. On other occasions, she would be mean and rude to Charlie Brown, and try to annoy him and hurt his feelings. As her appearances became less frequent in the later years of the strip, her mercurial nature was, however, unchanged: sometimes she would use any excuse to bring Charlie Brown down or elevate herself above him; while other times the two were quite cordial, often spending the day together chatting.
In the strip from March 17, 1963 Violet offers Charlie Brown a valentine in person, explaining that she felt bad about not having done so in the past, only to be upbraided by Schroeder, who happened to be nearby, for giving the valentine merely to ease her own conscience. In the end, however, Charlie Brown still accepts the valentine.
It may come as a surprise to many that Charlie Brown has himself initiated very unfriendly acts against Violet before without any apparent provocation. Thus in the strip dated June 14, 1953 Violet offers Charlie Brown an ice cream cone for being ‘so nice to me’, but he answers in embarrassment that he has not in fact been nice to her, and then recalls that in the two previous days he did such things as pushing her off her tricycle and throwing an object at her. Violet decides she would still like to give him the cone anyway – stubbed onto his head.
Violet and Lucy are close friends, although they are sometimes seen verbally fighting each other in the strip. Back in the earlier years of the strip, Violet was sort of a motherhen to Lucy, similar to Patty. In later years, Lucy is shown leading Violet and Patty in something of a mean girl clique, as the three girls are shown to make fun of other characters, especially Charlie Brown, although more often, Violet is shown bullying others almost exclusively with Patty (though later more frequently with Lucy, as Patty became less of a frequent character), while Lucy usually acted alone. They have also mocked Charlie Brown in the TV specials, most notably in You're in Love, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Violet always mocks and insults "Pig-Pen". In one strip, Violet attempts to shame "Pig-Pen" by making him look in a mirror. She asks him, "Aren't you ashamed?" to which "Pig-Pen" replies, "On the contrary. I didn't think I looked this good." He has also told Violet "I forgot to rake my hair" when she criticized him for having leaves in his hair in the November 16, 1984 strip. In the Peanuts computer game, It's the Big Game, Charlie Brown, "Pig-Pen" says that he is in love with Violet, due to her habit of making mud pies. However, this has never been stated in the comic strip, and therefore cannot be considered canon. But it has been hinted in the strip, for example, in one early strip, "Pig-Pen" cleans up after seeing Violet hug Snoopy, complaining that no one ever hugged him this way, to impress her and possibly get a hug.
Violet has a good relationship with Snoopy and unlike Lucy, she is not afraid to be licked or kissed by him. In one strip, Lucy lashes out at the dog, but Violet comforts him and hugs him. Violet can frequently be seen cuddling with Snoopy, especially in the 50's.
Her abuse of Charlie Brown
Violet's verbal assaults on Charlie Brown (usually in tandem with Patty, although it is clear that Violet is the dominating force in this) can be quite cruel—sometimes exceeding even the severity of Lucy's insults.
Violet makes it clear that she does not like Charlie Brown and will sometimes go out of her way to verbally abuse him. Most often, she shows no remorse for what she does. In fact, she makes no bones about her hatred of Charlie Brown.
A classic example of this is in the strip from May 3, 1961, in which Violet is seen lashing out at Charlie Brown, finishing him off with the line, "And I don't care if I ever see you again, do you hear me?!" Linus walks in and notices that Charlie Brown is really hurt. Charlie Brown then points out that Violet has not taken all the life out of him, lamenting "but you can number me among the walking wounded."
Another example shows Patty and Violet reciting a very mean-spirited poem, pointing out that "Boys are rotten filled with cotton" and that "Girls are dandy filled with candy!" They then walk away smugly, where Charlie Brown retaliates with the phrase, "Generalities!!!"
Still another involves the two berating Charlie Brown (in front of Linus) about a wrong answer Charlie Brown gave to a teacher's question, both going so far as to call him "stupid" and then walking off laughing at him.
Her verbal abuse was not only confined to Charlie Brown. At one point, during the October 25, 1961 Violet berated Linus for liking the Great Pumpkin. She called him "just plain stupid crazy," said he was talking "like someone who had just fallen out of a tree" and also called him "stark raving stupid!"
"We're having a party, and you're not invited!"
While Lucy's insults tend to be fairly blunt—calling Charlie Brown names like "blockhead" and making sarcastic remarks at his expense—Patty and Violet prefer to use social exclusion as their weapon, sometimes going to the extremes of making him feel like an outcast. This can be seen as a caricature of the "in crowd" that exists at many elementary and secondary schools—a lording of their own status over peers who are not members of the "in." For example, in one strip from February 3, 1952 they invite him to join their "secret club," and then immediately reject him after he accepts. In an early Sunday strip, Patty and Violet put Charlie Brown and Shermy to work building a clubhouse for them, only to hang a "No Boys Allowed" sign on the clubhouse door after it is finished.
On several other occasions, especially in the early years of the strip, Patty and Violet go out of their way—sometimes with unconcealed glee—to make sure Charlie Brown knows that they are throwing a party and he is not invited. However, Charlie Brown manages to get back at them on several occasions:
- In one strip from November 23, 1951, when they mention excluding Charlie Brown from their party, he lets it roll off his back saying he does not want to go to their "dumb ol' party" anyway. After he leaves, they wonder whether he meant it. Violet is convinced he did, so Patty suggests "In that case, maybe we'd better invite him."
- In another similar situation, he replies to them saying if they do not like him they are better off not inviting him. Stunned to silence, the girls simply walk away, with Charlie Brown smiling after them.
- In the strip from September 1, from 1954, Charlie Brown uncharacteristically threatens to strafe, then bomb their house if he is not invited, to which both girls state "Okay, you're invited."
- In another strip from October 15, 1952 , he tells the girls that he does not care and runs off laughing, only to become disappointed at being rejected when he is out of sight from them.
Violet also differs from Lucy in that she is less often prone to using physical violence against Charlie Brown. In one Sunday strip from August 4, 1963 an angry Violet is seen chasing Charlie Brown, threatening to "knock (his) block off". Before she can throw a punch, Charlie Brown stops her and tries to reason with her, saying that there are better ways to solve problems than with violence. Unfazed, Violet ends up punching him in the middle of his speech, and in the final panel admits to Patty, "I had to hit him quick. He was beginning to make sense!"
Film and TV appearances
Violet appears in numerous animated Peanuts television specials and all five feature films. Voice actors who played Violet over the years include Ann Altieri (who also voiced Frieda) from 1965–1969 and Linda Ercoli (who also voiced Peppermint Patty) from 1972–1975.
Violet's TV and film appearances are as follows:
- A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) [debut appearance]
- Charlie Brown's All-Stars (1966)
- It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
- You're in Love, Charlie Brown (1967)
- He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown (1968)
- It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown (1969)
- A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969)
- Snoopy, Come Home (1972) [silent]
- You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown (1972)
- There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown (1973) [silent]
- Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975)
- You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown (1975) [silent]
- Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown (1976) [silent]
- It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown (1976) [silent]
- Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977) [silent]
- It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown (1977) [silent]
- Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!!) (1980) [silent]
- Is This Goodbye, Charlie Brown? (1983) [silent]
- The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show (1983) [silent]
- Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown (1985)
- Happy New Year, Charlie Brown (1986) [silent]
- Snoopy!!! The Musical (TV special) (1988) [archival footage]
- Why, Charlie Brown, Why? (1990) [silent]
- It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown (1992)
- It's the Pied Piper, Charlie Brown (2000) [silent]
- I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown (2003)
- He's a Bully, Charlie Brown (2006)
- Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown (2011)
- The Peanuts Movie (2015)
Violet was a prominent character in Peanuts until the late-1960's, where her appearances began gradually decreasing. Not much was seen of her after 1984, and she had virtually disappeared from the strip by that year. But even after that, Violet kept on making occasional cameo appearances as a minor character throughout the 1980's and into the 1990's. She last appeared in the November 27, 1997 strip, along with Patty.
Violet's appearances from 1984 until 1999
- November 16, 1984
- November 15, 1985
- November 19, 1985
- January 10, 1989
- July 8, 1989
- January 27, 1990
- April 13, 1990
- July 15, 1990
- September 28, 1990
- January 21, 1991
- February 12, 1991
- June 29, 1991
- September 3, 1991
- December 5, 1991
- May 10, 1992
- November 25, 1992 (reprinted on November 25, 1997)
- February 9, 1993
- April 26, 1993
- April 17, 1995
- September 9, 1996
- November 12, 1996
- Violet is one of the many Peanut characters to appear in the video game Snoopy's Street Fair, in which, she owns a cookie booth. She is much nicer to Charlie Brown in the game, and even offers him a free cookie when he walks over to her stand.
- Violet is one of the few characters in the strip whose birthday is mentioned, along with Charlie Brown, Lucy van Pelt, Sally Brown, Linus van Pelt, Peppermint Patty, Schroeder, Patty, Snoopy, and Rerun van Pelt.
- ↑ Peanuts comic strip from August, 16, 1951
- ↑ Peanuts comic strip from February 3, 1952
- ↑ Peanuts comic strip from November 23, 1951
- ↑ Peanuts comic strip from September 1, 1954
- ↑ Peanuts comic strip from October 15, 1952