It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a critically-acclaimed and very popular animated television special, based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz.
It was the third Peanuts special (and first Halloween special) to be produced and animated by Bill Meléndez. Its initial broadcast took place on October 27th, 1966 on the CBS network, preemptimg My Three Sons; CBS re-aired the special annually through 2000, with ABC picking up the rights beginning in 2001. The program was nominated for an Emmy award. It has been issued on home video several times, including a Remastered Deluxe Edition of the special released by Warner Home Video on September 2, 2008.
To celebrate its 40th Anniversary, a retrospective book was published in 2006 entitled, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: The Making of a Television Classic with the entire script, never-before-seen photographs, storyboard excerpts, and interviews with the original child actors who provided the voices of the Peanuts gang.
The story opens with Linus
going out into a nearby pumpkin patch to find a pumpkin
. After a couple of smaller choices by Linus, Lucy points to the biggest pumpkin in the bunch, which Linus clumsily rolls back home. When they get home, Lucy takes a big knife and slices into the pumpkin to gut it, at which point a mortified Linus says "Ohhhh, you didn't tell me you were going to kill
it!", and starts wailing.
With autumn already in full swing, Charlie Brown is busy raking leaves with Snoopy's help. Linus sees the pile and jumps right in the middle of it, forgetting he had a wet sucker in his possession. Moments later Lucy comes with a football for Charlie Brown to kick, but he initially refuses. Lucy shows him a letter, but for the first time she pulls it away when Charlie Brown is about to kick the ball, which sends him landing flat on his back, like always.
Later, Linus writes a letter to The Great Pumpkin, to Charlie Brown's disbelief, Snoopy's laughter, Patty's assurance that the Great Pumpkin is a fake, and even to Lucy's violent threat to make Linus stop ("You better cut it out right now or I'll pound you!"). Linus laments in the letter that "more people believe in Santa Claus than in you (The Great Pumpkin), but let's face it; Santa Claus has had more publicity. But being number two, perhaps you try harder" (a tongue-in-cheek jab at Avis Rent-A-Car's popular slogan of the day).
After Linus mails his letter to the Great Pumpkin (using his blanket to open the mailbox after Lucy refuses to help him open it), Charlie Brown dances when he receives through the mail an invitation to go to Violet's Halloween party, but his bubble is quickly burst by Lucy who mentions there were two lists, people to invite and people not to invite; Lucy is certain Charlie Brown's name was on wrong list.
On Halloween night, the gang gets their costumes ready. Lucy dresses as a witch (blindly contradicting her statement that "A person should always choose a costume which is in direct contrast to her own personality"), while most of the other kids (possibly Frieda and Schroeder) dress up as ghosts, using old bed sheets with eyeholes cut out as well as a coonskin cap and a goblin mask. Pig-Pen is a ghostly ball of dust (everyone recognizes him as he walks in), and Charlie Brown has eyeholes cut out all over his sheet, matter-of-factly stating he had a little trouble with the scissors.
Before going trick-or-treating, the gang stops off at the pumpkin patch to make fun of Linus's missing out on all the fun as last year (especially when he asks if they came to sing "pumpkin carols"). But Linus is convinced that the Great Pumpkin will indeed come because he thinks the patch he's in IS sincere enough and even convinces Sally to stick around to wait with him. So the rest of the gang go off leaving Sally and Linus behind. Earlier, Sally was making a ghost costume, which meant that she initially wanted to go along with the gang but suddenly had a change of heart with Linus's story of the Great Pumpkin, due to the fact that she was obviously in love with him.
During trick-or-treating, everyone else is getting assorted candy, gum, apples, cookies, popcorn balls, and even money. But at every house, Charlie Brown gets the same thing — a rock. When everyone compares what they get at a particular house, Charlie Brown reaches into his bag saying "I got a rock." After tricks-or-treats, and another quick stop at the pumpkin patch to rib Linus and Sally again, the gang all go off to Violet's Halloween party.
Meanwhile, Charlie Brown's dog Snoopy, wearing his flying ace gear, travels back in time to World War I to do battle with Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron); he is shot down for the first time. When his Sopwith Camel (his dog house) crashes, Snoopy makes his way across France while hiding from a group of spies, he briefly crashes the Halloween party, and then unknowingly makes his way to the pumpkin patch where Linus and Sally are still waiting for the Great Pumpkin to show up. Linus hears Snoopy's rustling, and believes it's really the Great Pumpkin, and when Snoopy (still hidden in the shadows) rises above the pumpkins, Linus promptly faints. When Sally sees it's only Snoopy, she becomes outraged over missing tricks-or-treats AND the Halloween Party, and threatens to "sue" Linus. She storms out of the pumpkin patch with the other kids, leaving Linus by himself, still convinced the Great Pumpkin will come.
When 4:00 a.m. rolls around November the 1st, Lucy checks up on Linus and, seeing his bed unslept in, goes out to the pumpkin patch to find him lying on the ground shivering, covered in his security blanket futilely trying to sleep. Lucy grudgingly walks him home, removing his shoes and he passes out in his own bed as she puts the covers on him and angrily walks out of his room.
The next day, Linus and Charlie Brown are at the rock wall talking about last night's events. When Charlie Brown tries to console Linus saying "I've done a lot of stupid things in my life, too", Linus blows a fuse and angrily vows to Charlie Brown that the Great Pumpkin will come next year, his ranting continuing as the end credits roll.
- Linus': Ohh! You didn't tell me you were going to KILL it. (starts sobbing)
- Linus (writing): Dear Great Pumpkin, I am looking forward to your arrival on Halloween night. I hope you will bring me lots of presents.
- Charlie Brown (to Linus): You must be crazy. When are you going to stop believing in something that isn't true?
- Linus: When you stop believing in that fellow with the red suit and the white beard who goes "Ho Ho Ho!"
- Charlie Brown: We are obviously separated by denominational differences.
- Lucy (to Linus, grabbing and shaking him by his shirt collar): Not again! Writing a letter to a stupid pumpkin! You make me the laughingstock of the neighborhood! All they talk about is my little brother, who always writes to the Great Pumpkin. You better cut it out right now or I'll pound you!
- Linus: There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.
- Charlie Brown (when the kids announce what they got in their trick-or-treat bags): I got a rock.
- Sally (to Linus): If you try to hold my hand, I'll slug you.
- Schroeder (to Lucy, who's about to bob for apples): Yeah, Lucy, you should be good at this, you've got the perfect mouth for it.
- Sally (to Linus, after missing Halloween): I was robbed! I spent the whole night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, when I could've been out for Tricks or Treats! (gasps at what she just said) Halloween is over and I missed it! You blockhead. You kept me up all night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, and all that came was a beagle! I didn't get a chance to go out for Tricks or Treats! And it was all your fault! I'll sue! What a fool I was. I could've had candy, apples, and gum,and cookies and money and all sorts of things. But no! I had to listen to you! You blockhead. What a fool I was. Trick or Treats come only once a year, and I missed it by sitting in a pumpkin patch with a blockhead! You owe me restitution! (shaking him by the collar of his shirt)
- Linus: You heard about fury and a woman scorned, haven't you?"
- Charlie Brown: Yes, I guess I have.
- Linus: Well, that's nothing compared to the fury of a woman who's been cheated out of tricks or treats.
- Linus (to Sally and the rest of the gang as they head home): Hey, aren't you going to wait and greet the Great Pumpkin? Huh? It won't be long now! If the Great Pumpkin comes, I'll still put in a good word for you! Good grief, I said IF! I MEANT WHEN HE COMES! I'm doomed..One little slip like that can cause the Great Pumpkin to pass you by. OH, GREAT PUMPKIN, WHERE ARE YOU?!
- Charlie Brown (to Linus, towards the end of the show): Well, another Halloween has come and gone.
- Linus: Yes, Charlie Brown.
- Charlie Brown: I don’t understand it. I went trick-or-treating and all I got was a bag full of rocks! I suppose you spent all night in the Pumpkin Patch. And the Great Pumpkin never showed up?
- Linus: Nope.
- Charlie Brown: Well, don’t take it too hard, Linus. I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life too.
- Linus (furious): STUPID? What do you mean "stupid"? Just wait 'til next year, Charlie Brown. You'll see! Next year at this same time, I'll find a pumpkin patch that is real sincere! And I'll sit in that pumpkin patch until the Great Pumpkin appears. He'll rise out of that pumpkin patch and he'll fly through the air with his bag of toys. The Great Pumpkin will appear! And I'll be waiting for him! I'll be there! I'll be sitting there in that pumpkin patch..and I'll see the Great Pumpkin. Just wait and see, Charlie Brown. I'll see that Great Pumpkin. I'll SEE the Great Pumpkin! Just you wait, Charlie Brown. The Great Pumpkin will appear and I'll be waiting for him...
- If you pause the show near the beginning of the party you can see that one of the characters grows a third hand.
- This is the first time in the specials that has Lucy pulling the ball away from Charlie Brown, Although like in the first strip of this trick Charlie says that Lucy pulling the ball away has happened before, The first time Lucy did this was shown in This is America, Charlie Brown: The Birth of the Constitution.
- In the scene where Snoopy runs by Lucy who is in front of the television, she is holding a copy of TV Guide which features herself on the cover.
- The World War I songs played by Schroeder on his toy piano while Snoopy dances are:
- The "Happy" Songs:
- It's a Long Way to Tipperary
- Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag
- The "Sad" Songs:
- There's a Long, Long Trail A-Winding
- Roses of Picardy
- When Schultz drew the "Great Pumpkin" in the daily comic strip, Charlie Brown, not Sally, was with Linus when Snoopy appears as the "Great Pumpkin". Also, in a 1956 Peanuts comic strip of Halloween, it was Linus who had the over-cut costume, not Charlie Brown.
In popular culture
- In the episode "All the Way" of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike says it is coming on TV.
- In the opening to The Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror II", the Peanuts gang, wearing their costumes from the special, runs in front of the Simpsons house.
- At the beginning of A Pinky and the Brain Halloween, three kids are shown comparing what they just got. One kid, wearing Charlie Brown's costume, laments, "I got a bowl of soup."
- At the beginning of the Family Guy episode "E. Peterbus Unum", when Peter's friends brag about what they got with their tax refunds, Charlie Brown appears, in his ghost costume, holding out his bag and saying "I got a rock."
- In the Detention episode "What Did You Séance?", Shelley laments her frustration over having to wait for aliens to land on the school roof with Emmitt by quoting most of Sally's outburst.
- At the beginning of the 2006 Homestar Runner cartoon "Happy Hallow-Day", Strong Bad attempts to scare Marzipan while wearing a witch mask identical to the one Lucy wears in this special. An earlier Halloween cartoon, "The House That Gave Sucky Treats", has the characters trick-or-treating and the player can pick the treats to give. One of the treats the player can give to Strong Mad and The Cheat is a pile of rocks.
- MADtv parodied the special as "It's the Bigass Pumpkin, Charlie Brown", which shows the Peanuts characters as African-Americans in an inner city neighborhood. MAD TV did another parody when Kiss guest starred as themselves and had received trinkets, and one of the members exclaims "I got a rock".
- In the 1997 PC kids' computer software "Mercer Mayer's The Smelly Mystery" (featuring Little Monster), the first page takes place at a sleepover in Yally's bedroom with his guests. Clicking on the door has the lights go out, and the door opens to reveal two trick-or-treaters (a ghost and a witch that resembles Lucy's Halloween costume). They say "Trick-or-treat!" and Yally tosses two items into the bags. The witch says "Wow! I got cinnamon bon-gugus!", but the ghost says (in a deep male voice), "Hey! All I got was a rock."
- In the Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy episode "Grim or Gregory", Billy says Charlie Brown's line, "I got a rock."
- The Halloween episode of The Life and Times of Juniper Lee is a titular spoof of the Peanuts special; "It's the Great Pumpkin, Juniper Lee".
- In the Robot Chicken episode Vegetable Funfest, Linus uses dark magic to summon the Great Pumpkin, but it soon kills him. It later kills the rest of the "Peanuts" gang one by one. Charlie Brown, the last remaining survivor, is spared when the Kite-Eating Tree eats the Great Pumpkin.
- In the song "Halloween" by German power metal band Helloween, there is a reference to Charlie Brown's rock scene and Linus' belief about big pumpkin traveling around the world.
- With the Lyrics
"Someone's sitting in a field,
Never giving yield.
Sitting there with gleaming eyes,
Waiting for big pumpkin to arise.
Bad luck if you get a stone,
Like the good old Charlie Brown.
You think Linus could be right
The kids will say it's just a stupid lie"
- A small part of the episode "Have Yourself a Joyful Little Animas" in the Cartoon Network series My Gym Partner's a Monkey spoofs the Great Pumpkin in the scene where Horace is in the pumpkin patch with Coach Gills holding a sign that says "Welcome Great Gourd".
- In a World of Warcraft Halloween audio play, one of the characters (a gnome named Wimpy J. McWiddle) receives a rock every time the group receives gifts from the people they encounter, upon which he says dejectedly, "I got a rock..."
- In the City of Heroes annual Halloween event, where players can click on doors to spawn Tricks (game monsters) or Treats (Inspirations, costume pieces), one Treat is a Rock (a one-shot attack that causes minor damage).
- In the webcomic Sluggy Freelance on October 22, 2007 one of the main characters (Torg) is wearing Charlie Brown's costume.
- In the DC Infinite Halloween Special, one of the stories was called "It's the Pumpkin Sinister, Blue Devil". Two men, named Harley and Lennis, summon a powerful pumpkin demon called the Pumpkin Sinister (a nod to the Robot Chicken sketch). Harley orders the Pumpkin Sinister to kill Daniel Cassidy, a.k.a. Blue Devil, as revenge for him stealing Harley's one love many years ago, the red-headed girl.
- Season 4 Episode 7 of the show Supernatural (TV series) is called 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester' Aired October 30th, 2008.