Captain Underpants is a children's novel series by American author and illustrator, Dav Pilkey. The series revolves around two fourth graders, George Beard and Harold Hutchins, and Captain Underpants, an aptly named superhero from one of George & Harold's comic books, that accidentally becomes real when George and Harold hypnotize their megalomaniacal principal, Mr. Krupp.
The book series includes 10 books and 3 spin-offs, and won a Disney Adventures Kids' Choice Award in 2007. As of 2013, the series had been translated in over 20 languages, with more than 70 million books sold worldwide, of that, over 50 million in the United States.DreamWorks Animation acquired rights to the series to make an animated feature film adaptation.
George Beard and Harold Hutchins - Two 4th grade pranksters, who are best friends and next-door neighbors. They started a comic book company called "Treehouse Comix Inc.", and every so often at school they go to the secretary's office to make copies of their latest comic book and sell them on the playground. George is identified by his tie and flat top haircut, while Harold is recognizable by his T-shirt and bad haircut, a gag that always starts every book. George is 93⁄4 years old while Harold is 10 years old, identified in the Super Diaper Baby book. They are considered the 4th grade class clowns at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, a school which discourages imagination and fun, located in Piqua, Ohio. (Ironically, Jerome Horwitz is the birth name of Curly Howard of the Three Stooges.) It is revealed in the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman that their grades range from B to C. They often get in trouble with Mr. Krupp.
Principal Benjamin Krupp - The overweight and extremely cruel principal of Jerome Horwitz Elementary School and the main antagonist (at least when no real dangers are present). For unexplained reasons, Mr. Krupp has a very deep hatred of children, and also tries to protect Jerome Horwitz Elementary from George and Harold's antics. Why he is so mean to children in general is unknown. In the first book, he gets hypnotized by George and Harold for being so mean to them and becomes the superhero Captain Underpants, with a flaw in their attempt to return him to normal resulting in him alternating between Captain Underpants and Mr. Krupp whenever someone snaps their fingers (As Mr. Krupp) and pours water on him (Captain Underpants). He does not know of his superhero identity, though in the ninth book it's revealed that he does know of the real Captain Underpants's existence. His first name is revealed as "Benny" in Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants and his favorite book from his childhood is revealed as How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (with the last seven pages torn out of the book) in Super Diaper Baby 2. In Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Re-Turn of Tippy Tinkletrousers, his full first name is revealed to be Benjamin.
Captain Underpants - The alter ego of Mr. Krupp, when he is hypnotized to think he is "Captain Underpants," a character created by George and Harold. He always wears underpants and a red cape with black polka-dots. Whenever Mr. Krupp hears the sound of fingers snapping, he turns into Captain Underpants, and turns back into Mr. Krupp when he is soaked with water. Originally, he did not have any real superpowers (even though he believed he did), so George and Harold would have to follow Mr. Krupp every time he transformed into Captain Underpants to make sure he did not get hurt. He gained his superpowers in the third book by drinking some "Extra Strength Super Power Juice" found on an alien spaceship. Captain Underpants is considered to be the 'light side' of Mr. Krupp himself, as he is nice and kind to everyone, especially children. In his Captain Underpants form, Mr. Krupp seems to know everything about Captain Underpants from George and Harold's comic books. This may be due to the fact that he actually read all the comic books made by the two boys, which he confiscated by the hundreds over the years.
Melvin Sneedly - George and Harold's nerdy nemesis. He is an annoying snitch, mechanical genius, the school brainiac, and tattletale. He was first introduced in the book Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets, where he invents the "PATSY-2000" for the science fair. In book 4, he has a silly name, "Pinky Pizzabrains". He is described as "the kid with the bowtie and the eyeglasses". He becomes the main villain of book 6, Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 1: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets, after accidentally transforming himself into the Bionic Booger Boy. In Bionic Booger Boy, Part 2: Revenge of the Ridiculous Robo-Boogers, Melvin switches bodies with Mr. Krupp and gains his powers, but loses them once they are given back to Captain Underpants. In Purple Potty People, the alternate Melvin was not at all intelligent. In book 7, at the end he was chased because of the trouble he caused. In book 9 on the front of newspaper it says 'Melvin spoke about George and Harold in court but Melvin does not appear in the book. At the end of book 10 he appears in a suit with tentacles and says he comes from the past using time travel. His further fate is unknown.
Sulu and Crackers - George and Harold's pets. Sulu was Melvin's abandoned pet bionic hamster after he yelled at Sulu which offended him, but afterward was adopted by George and Harold. Crackers is their pet Quetzalcoatlus they got when they traveled back in time with Melvin Sneedly's time machine. Sulu first appeared in The Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 1. Crackers first appeared in The Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 2. Sulu was briefly a villain after being hypnotized by Evil George and Evil Harold in The Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People. Crackers was hypnotized as well, but did not turn evil because "he" was a female, and as shown in Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman, hypnosis does the opposite effect for women than what the hypnotizer says (Crackers was in an alternate universe at the time, but the hypnosis ring came from the original universe). Sulu and Crackers accompanied George, Harold, and Mr. Krupp on their time-traveling battles with Tippy Tinkletrousers, and after he turned giant and activated a nuclear bomb, they sent him back 13.8 billion years and were presumably blown up along with him in the explosion that caused the Big Bang (or Big Ka-Bloosh) that created the universe - but not before Crackers laid three eggs.
Ms. Tara Ribble - George and Harold's mean 4th grade teacher, introduced in the first book as unnamed. In book 5, she turned evil after George and Harold accidentally made her think she was "Wedgie Woman," one of the characters in their comic books. Afterward, the two made her change her behavior to be nicer and happier with their 3D Hypno-Ring, including making her serve freshly baked cookies to the class every day of school. Ms. Ribble's favorite ice cream flavor is chunky tofu, as revealed in the fifth book. She also almost marries Mr. Krupp, but refuses because he has a "silly nose" (Ironically, they have the same nose). She made an appearance in the 6th book and becomes sick. She doen't appear in books 7 and 8. She appeared in the 9th book at a meeting with Mr. Krupp and Mr. Fyde. The name Ms. Ribble is a pun on "miserable" while Tara Ribble is a pun on "terrible."
Mr. Meaner - Jerome Horwitz Elementary School's gym teacher. He is depicted as being a very fat man, and with a personality similar to Mr. Krupp's. Like him, he is very cruel to students and often yells at them. His name is a reference to the word "misdemeanor". George and Harold express their dislike for him by constantly having gym teachers being attacked or killed by various monsters in their comics, but no one ever cares.
Miss Edith Anthrope - The school secretary who is often shown to be in a bad mood. Like all the other teachers at the school, she is unkind to children. Also like most of the school's teachers, she is overweight, although only slightly in comparison to many of the other ones, which are grossly obese. She helped set up Ms. Ribble and Mr. Krupp's marriage. Her name is a reference to the word "misanthrope" while her full name is a pun on the phrase "Eat it and throw up" and in the seventh book she proved to be unkind as shown she hanged Mr. Krupp(who looked like Melvin)by his underwear.
Mr. Morty Fyde - Mr. Fyde is the science teacher at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School. He quit in the book Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants. He is not cruel like all the other grown ups in the school but rather dorky and stupid. Mr. Fyde is a pun on the word "mystified" and Morty Fyde is a pun on the word "mortified". Mr. Fyde quit in book 4 because he thought that he was dreaming thinking that he had been eaten by a talking toilet, imagined that the school got flooded with sticky green goop, thought he saw a group of abominable snowmen chasing George and Harold down the hallway and he saw a big, fat, bald guy in his underwear fly out the window. He appeared in book 9 at a meeting and was in court to talk about George, Harold and Mr. Krupp as seen in the newspaper. Mr. Fyde, thinking he had obtained madness, "Left Jerome Horowitz Elementary School for the greener pastures of The Piqua Valley Home for the Reality-Challenged."
Mr. Rected - Mr. Rected is a teacher at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School. He is the school guidance counselor. His name is a pun on the word "misdirected". He appears in books 4 and 5. He is shown pictures but speaks no lines in book 8.
Ms. Guided - Ms. Guided is a teacher at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School. It is unknown what subject she teaches. Her name is a pun on the word "misguided". She appears in book 5, and is seen in pictures in books 4 and 8.
Boxer Boy and Great Granny Girdle - Appearing in the eighth book, Boxer Boy and Great Granny Girdle are Harold's grandfather and George's great-grandmother. They battled Captain Blunderpants to save their grandchildren. George and Harold accidentally gave them Super Power Juice while showing them a new comic in a two-family dinner during Grandparents' Day.
The Lunch Ladies - The lunch ladies do not play large roles in most of the books, but are essential to the plot of the third book. Two of the ladies' names are given; they are: Ms. Creant and Mrs. DePoint, which are puns on "miscreant" and "misses the point", respectively. The third lady's name is unknown. The lunch ladies quit because they can't stand the awful things that George and Harold been doing to them in the same book they were in one of George and Harold's comic books: Captain Underpants and the Night of the Living Lunch Ladies. Zorx, Klax and Jennifer then take their jobs and try to take over the world.
Miss Singerbrains - Miss Singerbrains is the librarian at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School who banned all but one of the books in the library and eventually closed down the library. Her name is a pun on "missing her brains". She gets fired in book 7 and shown an opposite of her in book 8.
Dr. Diaper - A mad scientist resembling a baby whose plan was to blow up the moon with the Lasermatic 2000: all the big chunks of it would come crashing down on every major city in the world. This chaos would allow him to take over the earth. He made a brief appearance at the end of the fourth book, where he met Professor Poopypants in jail and, along with all the other inmates, laughed at his name, much to Poopypants' annoyance and anger. When Poopypants, now called Tippy Tinkletrousers, alters history, Dr. Diaper succeeds in blowing up the moon, but is eaten by the Talking Toilets. This was reversed when Tippy restored history to the way it was. He was the main villain of the first book.
Dr. Diaper's Evil Robots - They were robots created by Dr. Diaper, and assigned to steal a diamond, the power source to Dr. Diaper's Lasermatic 2000 and kidnapped Mr. Krupp (who was hypnotized to think he was Captain Underpants). They were destroyed by George and Harold. They were the secondary villains in the first book.
The Turbo-Toilet 2000 - A giant toilet created by George and Harold, who was accidentally brought into the real world with a modified photocopier. His plan was to devour Captain Underpants and conquer the world with his army of vicious Talking Toilets, but he was defeated and flown to Uranus; in the fourth book, in the newspaper Professor Poopypants was holding, one of the articles states that there were talking toilets found on Uranus and the "Piqua Order Of Professional Space Interplanetary Explorers" (POOPSIE) later discovered the talking toilets on Uranus yet again In Book 7. It is also a running gag in the book series that bad guys get sent to Uranus. He was the main villain of the second book and will return in the eleventh book.
The Talking Toilets - Ferocious sharp-fanged toilets who worked for the Turbo Toilet 2000. They ate all the teachers in the school, but after being fed food from the school cafeteria they vomited the unconscious-but-unharmed teachers before dying. When Tippy Tinkletrousers alters history, they take over the world and eat Dr. Diaper before they are killed presumably by the zombie nerds. History's original events were later restored. They are the secondary villains of the second book.
Zorx, Klax and Jennifer - Three space aliens who had the head of a frog, the face of a snake, the tentacles of an octopus and the legless body of a slug who planned to create an army of gargantuan zombies from the school's students and teachers to take over the world. They were later blown up in a horrific UFO explosion. In the alternate dimension, they are firemen with Professor Poopypants. When Tippy Tinkletrousers alters history, they are presumably spared from their fate as they are shown to have grown the zombie nerds to incredible size, but Tippy would later restore history to the way it was. They were the main villains of the third book.
The Dandelion Of Doom - A dandelion that drank alien rapid-growth juice, causing it to grow into a giant, evil monster. Because Captain Underpants had to drink alien superpower juice in order to defeat it, it could be considered responsible for giving Captain Underpants his superpowers. It is the secondary villain of the book.
The Lunchroom Zombie Nerds of the Zombi Juice - After being fed the lunches, zombie nerd milkshakes served by Zorx, Klax and Jennifer the students and teachers transformed into mindless, dangerous zombie nerds. The aliens intended to use rapid-growth juice to make the zombies grow to a gigantic size, allowing the aliens to use them to conquer the world. After the aliens' defeat, George and harold returned the zombie nerds to normal by anti-zombie-nerd root beer. When Tippy Tinkletrousers alters history, they are shown to currently be in control of the world, grown to gigantic size. This is reversed when Tippy restores history.
Professor Pippy Pee-Pee Poopypants (Later known as Tippy Tinkletrousers) - A brilliant scientist who unfortunately comes from a foreign culture in which everyone has a silly name. Because of his name he was never taken seriously by any of the American universities, so he decided to go into teaching science at the school after Mr. Fyde quit - however he was eventually driven insane by being constantly made fun of and his plan was to give everyone on the planet a silly name. He was defeated by a giant Captain Underpants and was taken to jail. George and Harold convince him to change his name but it is still silly.
Tiny Tippy (later known as Supa Mega Tippy) - When Tippy Tinkletrousers traveled back in time, he shrank him from the past, nicknaming him: "Tiny Tippy". Tippy tucked him in his shirt pocket, keeping him for a while without nothing to see. When Mr. Krupp and George, Harold, Sulu, and Crackers escaped back in time, Tippy gave Tiny Tippy the task of spying on the five ten minutes before they escaped. Then, when Tiny Tippy encounters Tippy again, he explains that he was ten minutes older than the Tiny Tippy in his pocket, and that the five escaped to the Mesozoic era. When the three Tippys went back in time, Tippy was rather mean with his two tiny twins, saying: "This is a job for a MAN, not two little twerps like you!". Tiny Tippy and his ten minutes younger self traveled back to the time when they were fighting Captain Underpants and he removed the top half of the Robo-Suit, with intent to take the Goosy-Grow 4000 and enlarge themselves and get back at their huge identical. Slightly Younger Tiny Tippy zaps Tiny Tippy two times, making him grow sixty feet. Supa Mega Tippy betrays his younger twin, saying: "This is a job for a MAN, not a little twerp like you!". Supa Mega Tippy then went to the past to kill his twin from the future. Supa Mega Tippy escapes from the huge waves, along with the five. Supa Mega Tippy had traveled them to the time of the cavemen, and the four use this as a way to escape. The cavemen later stand up to Supa Mega Tippy, defeating him. Supa Mega Tippy's intent to freeze the cavemen resulted in freezing himself and creating the Ice age for some strange reason.
Slightly Younger Tiny Tippy - When Tippy sent Tiny Tippy to the past, he caused ANOTHER Tippy. Tippy was really rude with him and his older self, and he and Tiny Tippy devise a plan to get back at Tippy. However, Supa Mega Tippy betrays him, and to get back at him, Slightly Younger Tiny Tippy rigged the Robo-Pants system. This is what caused the Ice Age. Slightly Younger Tiny Tippy then tried to enlarge himself, but stopped at 120 feet when the Goosy-Grow fell and expanded the ice. Slightly Younger Tiny Tippy took the five thirty years in the future, but Captain Underpants and his older self defeated him. His intents to blow up the universe was ruined when Crackers and Sulu took him and his bomb 13 billion years ago, killing him, Crackers, and Sulu. This also created the universe as the Big Ka-Bloosh! Theory.
Wedgie Woman - A villain originally created by George and Harold who was based on their teacher, Ms. Ribble. After a second mishap with the 3D Hypno-Ring the real Ms. Ribble becomes convinced that she really is Wedgie Woman - at first she has no superpowers, but after her hairstyle gets splattered with the superpower juice from the third book her hair transforms into arms and she gains super-intelligence. She is later changed back to normal by George and Harold, where she becomes nice and bakes chocolate chip cookies everyday for the class. She is the main villain of the fifth book.
Robo-George and The Harold 2000 - Two giant robots built by Wedgie Woman based on George and Harold. They were totally obedient to Wedgie Woman, each had a vast arsenal of powerful weapons and gadgets and were programmed to destroy Captain Underpants once they heard him say "Tra-la-laaa!" They were completely destroyed by Captain Underpants when he used the Harold 2000's own hands against them. They are the secondary villains of the fifth book.
The Bionic Booger Boy (Melvin Sneedly) - A mix of Melvin Sneedly, snot and a robot in an invention test. He went crazy after an idiotic, fat person named Mr. Snoddy threw tissues at him, the thing he hates the most. He grew bigger and more annoyed, and plotted to get revenge. He is later broken down by Sulu, George, Harold, and Mr. Sneedly, but in the process Melvin and Mr. Krupp switched bodies. He is the main villain of the sixth book.
Carl, Trixie and Frankenbooger (The Three Robo-Boogers) - Boogers that planned to destroy Captain Underpants. They all came from the Bionic Booger Boy. They all share a weakness to oranges, which Captain Underpants successfully used to destroy the rampaging trio of living mucus. Carl had the Bionic Booger Boy's legs, Trixie had the tentacles, and Frankenbooger had the arms. Whenever they eat, they become bigger and more evil. They are the main villains of the seventh book.
Captain Blunderpants - The opposite of Captain Underpants from an alternate dimension who plots on taking over the world and destroying Captain Underpants. Captain Blunderpants has a toupee and looks and acts more like Mr. Krupp, while the alternate Mr. Krupp is nice. He was defeated by Boxer Boy and Great-Granny Girdle. Also his transformation is opposite; when water is splashed on him, he becomes the evil Captain Blunderpants and when someone snaps their fingers, he becomes nice Mr. Krupp.
Evil George and Evil Harold - Evil versions of George and Harold from an alternate dimension who are both intelligent and evil. They helped Captain Blunderpants and unlike the sketchy, amateurish George and Harold they are actually good authors and illustrators (ironically the main George and Harold consider the alternative George and Harold's work inferior). Additionally, they also tended to correct the spelling on signs (while their counterparts often change the signs into funny words). They were shrunk and sent back to their universe by George and Harold.
Kipper Krupp - A sixth-grade bully and Mr. Krupp's nephew who would bully George and Harold when they were in kindergarten. He appears in Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Re-Turn of Tippy Tinkletrousers. After George and Harold make him think he is being haunted by a ghost, he changes his ways. When Tippy Tinkletrousers alters history by traveling to this scene with a robot resembling the ghost, Kipper and his friends go insane and are sent to Piqua Valley Home for the Reality Challenged. Mr. Krupp is blamed and is fired, resulting in the destruction of Earth, but all this is reversed when Tippy of the future goes back in time and freezes them so they never see the Robo-Pants and lose their minds, thus restoring history.
The Bullies (Finkstien, Bugg and Loogie) - are Kipper's friends and also bully George and Harold. They appear in the ninth book. George and Harold get revenge on the bullies and their boss by tricking them into thinking a ghost is coming to curse them, immediately changing their ways. When Tippy Tinkletrousers alters the timeline, Kipper and his friends run into him as they are leaving school, and are scared so badly, they reach the point of insanity and are taken to a mental hospital. This is reversed when Tippy goes back to the night when the bullies encounter him. He freezes the boys, so they don't see the Robo-Pants and the flow of events is restored.
The main series of Captain Underpants novels has developed a pattern of alliteration from the second book on - with the exception of the third book, whose "annoyingly long" title becomes a running joke in future books.
Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets (2014)
The Captain Underpants books were reported by the American Library Association to be the most frequently challenged books in the year 2012.Dav Pilkey also mentioned this in his website. According to the American Library Association, Pilkey's Captain Underpants series was banned in some schools for insensitivity and being unsuited to age group, as well as encouraging children to disobey authority.
In 2006, Captain Underpants Halloween costumes created controversy at Long Beach High School in Long Island, New York. Three female students dressed up as Captain Underpants causing the principal, Nicholas Restivo, to enact a costume ban for all students. The three girls put on beige leotards and nude stockings under white briefs and red capes. According to Principal Restivo, "the appearance was that they were naked."
Although the first few books came out on a regular basis, the 9th book, Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers (advertised in a teaser at the end of the 8th book), wasn't released until 2012, after a six-year wait. During this time, Dav Pilkey was caring for his terminally ill father, who died in 2008. In 2009, he signed a deal with Scholastic for four new books, the first of which was The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future, released on August 10, 2010. The second was Super Diaper Baby 2: The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers, released on June 28, 2011. The third book, Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers, was released on August 28, 2012. The fourth book, Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers, was released on January 16, 2013.
In October 2011, it was reported that DreamWorks Animation has acquired rights to make an animated feature film based on the Captain Underpants series. In October 2013, it was reported that Rob Letterman will direct the film, while Nicholas Stoller will write the script. It will be the second film to have Letterman and Stoller working together, first was Gulliver's Travels. In January 2014, the cast was announced, with Ed Helms joining as Mr. Krupp/Captain Underpants, Kevin Hart as George Beard, Thomas Middleditch as Harold Hutchins, Nick Kroll as the insidious villain, Professor Poopypants, and Jordan Peele as Melvin, the nerdy nemesis of George and Harold.
Censors in the United States have targeted the Captain Underpants books after the first one was released in 1997. The Office of Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association reported that in the United States, Captain Underpants as the most banned book in libraries in 2012. Several parents accused the book of having language inappropriate for the book's target audience, children enrolled in elementary schools.
Jessica Roake, in an article published in Slate, argued that the books are well suited for young readers. She wrote that "They're drawn to them because for the first time in their reading lives they are understood, entertained, and catered to all at once. It is theirs, not ours, and that feeling of exclusive ownership forges the kind of connection everyone should have with at least one book in their life. For that, most every English teacher of my acquaintance will be more than happy to take the shot to the ego the Captain provides."
Distribution outside the USA
Brazil: Cosac & Naify
Canada, Argentina, Mexico, UK, Ireland, Hong Kong, India, Australia, New Zealand: Scholastic
Catalan: Editorial Cruilla, a division of Ediciones SM, Barcelona
^ abRoake, Jessica. "One Nation, Underpants." (also "Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants books: Why kids love them, and parents should make peace with them.:") Slate. September 7, 2012. Retrieved on October 25, 2013.