August 29, 2001
Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants
The story begins with the narrator once again introducing the reader to George Beard and Harold Hutchins. At most schools, the teachers try to emphasize "the three Rs", Reading, 'Riting, and 'Ritmetic. However, George and Harold's nasty English teacher, Ms. Ribble, is more concerned with enforcing what she called "the three Ss", which were "Sit down", "Shut your pieholes", and STOP DRIVING ME CRAZY!" While this is unfortunate for nearly all of her students, it was especially bad for George and Harold since they had a very good imagination. Sadly for George and Harold, imagination was discouraged and would only give them a one-way ticket to the principal, Mr. Krupp's office.
One fine day, Ms. Ribble walks into George and Harold's classroom and announces she is planning on retiring at the end of the school year. She forces everyone to make happy retirement cards for her. The boys make a Captain Underpants versus Wedgie Woman comic book instead. In the comic book, Captain Underpants is stopped by spray starch, which makes his underwear stiff and uncomfortable, and so he loses his powers until he gets some fabric softener from some passing kids. When Ms. Ribble finds the comic George and Harold made, she becomes furious and sends them to the principal's office. George protests that all they did was use their imaginations, but Ms. Ribble reminds them that using their imagination is no longer allowed in this school.
Once inside the office with all their things, Ms. Anthrope, the school secretary, tells them that Mr. Krupp is on the phone and orders them to copy the "Friday Memo" for her and makes the boys run some errands by letting them pass out "Friday Memo" (a weekly newsletter that shows the events of the upcoming week) to the entire school while she goes out to lunch. George moans and Ms. Anthrope tells them to deal with it. Before that, they made their own Friday Memo by using Ms. Anthrope's computer (since it was still on) to change a few events. They begin handing out copies of this memo when Mr. Krupp sees them, but they are able to avoid any suspicions without saying that Ms. Anthrope told them to give out the memos. Harold then tricks Mr. Krupp into signing the card claiming they are going to give it to Ms. Ribble. Mr. Krupp sees nothing wrong there and writes "Signed Mr. Krupp" on the inside of the card.
Later on, when Mr. Krupp learns about them changing letters on the sign and their comic book that they made about Ms. Ribble, he puts them in detention. They defiantly say they won't give Ms. Ribble her card. Mr. Krupp steals the card and says he'll give it to her personally. The boys secretly smile at how effective their use of reverse psychology was.
Meanwhile, Ms. Ribble's retirement party gets off to a bad start and only gets worse. She makes the whole class sing a song about her and later eat chunky tofu ice cream (by which time it has melted as she was preoccupied screaming at the boys for singing out of tune). She then receives the cards that the children made for her and several are torn to pieces (Ms. Ribble asked the students to draw a butterfly on their cards; some of the students accidentally drew polka dots on their butterflies and one boy drew a smiling sun on his card, resulting in him having to stand in the corner). Mr. Krupp gives Ms. Ribble the card, which reads "Your one hot mama! on the front and inside it reads "Will you marry me? Signed, Mr. Krupp." The other teachers assume that Ms. Ribble agrees, and on Saturday, the wedding is to be held in the school auditorium. For the 5 days before the wedding, each day ends up with something weird going on on that day (On Monday, the students do not turn up because of a "lack of interest"; on Tuesday, they turn up in their pajamas and picking their noses; on Wednesday, the students wear expired egg sandwiches on their heads and mustaches drawn on their faces in permanent marker; on Thursday, the students engage in a food fight while the football team lay waste to the teacher's lounge; on Friday, the students turn up for their class photos dressed as bees). Mr. Krupp is too shocked by the whole wedding thing to admit the truth that he doesn't want to marry her. George and Harold insist that the wedding should be in their math test schedule, which is on Monday.
At the wedding, while the orchestra is playing music, the rabbi of the wedding approaches the duo and states he already heard about them and warns that he doesn't want them doing any pranks at the wedding. George and Harold have made it official to him they have no tricks planned (for once). On the altar, just before they get married, Ms. Ribble breaks up with Mr. Krupp, saying that despite liking all of his cruelty she couldn't marry him because he has a funny-looking nose (the joke is that the two of them have identical noses). Mr. Krupp is angry and says he never wanted to marry her anyway; it was just a trick of George and Harold's. Due to that, Miss Ribble totally goes berserk and ruins the wedding. Ribble tries to attack the boys, but they luckily escape when the cake splats on Ms. Ribble.
When school restarts, Ms. Ribble privately tells them that she has dropped their B's and C's to F's and G's (grade lower than an F; in Harold's opinion, there is no such thing as a G in the grading system; see below), so they will flunk the fourth grade now. George states that's not fair, but Ms. Ribble claims to get used to it as life isn't fair.
Later that afternoon, George says Ms. Ribble can't get away with what she did. He says they need to tell someone about this to justify this wrongdoing. Harold says nobody will believe them. George says there is something they can do as he starts looking through the drawers and finds the 3-D Hypno-Ring. A shocked Harold claims he thought they threw that away, but George says they only threw the instruction manual away, but he remembers how it works. They decide to use their 3-D Hypno-Ring to hypnotize Ms. Ribble into changing their grades back to normal. Harold reminds George they fooled around with it last time, but George notes this time they'll be serious about it this time.
The next day, George and Harold wait until the other kids have left for home at the end of the day The duo try to be safe about this when they hypnotize her, giving her instructions not to do anything weird like turn into Wedgie Woman and try to take over the world. Unfortunately, it turns out that the 3-D Hypno-Ring, when used on a woman, accidentally causes her to do the opposite of what she is hypnotized to do (as noted in a news message that interrupts the chapter for a brief moment). After believing they gave her everything they needed her to do, Harold snaps his fingers.
Ms. Ribble declares herself to be Wedgie Woman and attacks George and Harold in their clubhouse. Their container of super-power juice (from book 3) accidentally lands on her head, so she now has super-powered intelligence and hair. Her hair forms into several tiny hands, which can extend great distances, which is ideal for giving someone a wedgie and holding them hostage in midair.
Wedgie Woman kidnaps the boys and uses her super-powered intelligence to build robot copies of the two boys, Robo-George and The Harold 2000. George thinks the Extra Strength Super Power Juice must have soaked into her brain. The robots are equipped with Spray Starch to take away Captain Underpants's powers. They are then sent to Jerome Horwitz Elementary School.
The robots pose as George and Harold, except the two of them behave perfectly much to Mr. Krupp's dismay because he assumed the boys were faking good behavior as a prank on the teachers. During soccer practice, Harold 2000 kicks the ball through the page of the book and gets in trouble by Mr. Krupp but when Mr. Krupp snaps (literally) at Harold 2000, he turns himself into Captain Underpants. He thought that the Robots were the real George and Harold and asked them to help (he stated that he's surprised that they were larger and can fly). He is then defeated by the two robots and their spray starch. He falls from the sky before the robots hang him by the underwear onto a wooden pole. Meanwhile, George and Harold were watching the action on Wedgie Woman's TV (built with a fish tank and an electric toothbrush), and manage to escape from Wedgie Woman's deathtrap to find Captain Underpants.
Wedgie Woman then gives wedgies to all the police officers in town and hangs them from traffic signs, aided by her two robots, which have expanded to gigantic size. The Chief calls for reinforcements, but Wedgie Woman's robots take care of them. George and Harold find Captain Underpants, who is convinced the spray starch took away his powers (it actually didn't) thanks to the placebo effect (mistakenly called the placenta effect by George and Harold) and needs fabric softener to get his powers back. George hears of a store nearby that just recently opened, but it turns out they sell anything but fabric softener, so the duo must come up with a new plan.
George and Harold make a comic book about how Captain Underpants is impervious to spray starch if he says, "I summon the power of Underpantyworld!” Captain Underpants reads the book, say the words, and regains his powers. He then defeats the two robots.
At the showdown between Captain Underpants and Wedgie Woman, Harold returns with the 3-D Hypno Ring. George returns with a large box. Harold asks what is he going to do that. George shouts to Harold that he's going to get rid of this box of extra-strength spray starch. Hearing this, Wedgie Woman steals all the bottles in the box and sprays them everywhere.
When the smoke clears, everyone is bald (except Captain Underpants, who was already bald). It turns out the box didn't contain extra-strength spray starch and that the box was actually full of hair remover. George reveals that he had used reverse psychology to get Wedgie Woman to use it. With her hair gone, Wedgie Woman can no longer harm anyone. Harold freaks out on his bald head, but George tells him to relax as their hair will grow back.
Captain Underpants is about to send Wedgie Woman to jail, but George and Harold tell him they can handle her. They then tell him to go put some clothes on and splash water on his face and Captain Underpants complies. The boys then hypnotize Ms. Ribble, and by using reverse reverse psychology (they tell her to do the opposite of everything they want her to do, like a double negative), they get her to lose her superpowers, forget everything that happened in the last few weeks, become the nicest teacher in the history of the school and bake fresh cookies for the class every day (If you look closely you can see that Ms. Ribble has a wig and that the boys are wearing backward baseball caps).
The next day, Ms. Ribble enters the classroom looking quite friendlier than usual. She tells the class that she has good news for them and the class cheers. However, when she tells them it's time for then has George and Harold teach the kids how to make their own comic books while she passes out cookies to the class. George and Harold note that since she is happier now, she will probably live longer. They also note how hypnosis is fun and helpful sometimes, but then again as we all know sometimes it isn't. In speech bubbles, a girl asks Ms. Ribble if the cookies were hard to make, and Ms. Ribble says they were a snap and snaps her fingers to demonstrate while Mr. Krupp is walking down the hallway. The book ends as Mr. Krupp (now Captain Underpants again) flies out the window with George and Harold holding onto his cape shouting their repetitive lines of "OH, NO!" and "Here we go again!"
- The Trouble with Captain Underpants (intro comic)
- Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman (comic)
- The Origin of Captain Underpants
Breaking the fourth wall
- Page 31: After Ms. Ribble reads the comic book George and Harold make, George explains that all they did was use their imaginations, and Ms. Ribble snaps "You're not allowed to do that in this school! Didn't you read chapter 1?"
- Page 91: When the EXTRA-STRENGTH SUPER POWER JUICE pours into Wedgie Woman's hair, Harold grabs the juice carton and yells "NOOO! This is the juice we got from that spaceship back in our third book!"
- Page 101: After the Harold 2000 kicks the kickball into the air, it makes a hole at the top right corner of the page, which is also shown on page 102.
- Page 138: The police officers that are being hanged from two stop signs speak directly to the reader.
- Page 159 and Page 160: The text says "A huge cloud of mist filled the air, covering everything in sight, and making these two pages incredibly easy to draw."
- In some college grading systems, there really is a "G" grade, equivalent to -1 in the GPA calculations. In general, this is only given for extremely poor performance in class, or for academic dishonesty.
- On the back page, there is an apology targeted at whoever was forced to give themselves eleven spankings and a timeout for not following the Flip-O-Rama instructions on page 137.
- The number of Wedgie Woman's hair arms changes throughout the book.
- Wedgie Woman's hair is similar to that of Medusa.
- The story about the destruction of Captain Underpants's homeworld was a joke on the destruction of Superman's homeworld.
- The Japanese monster movie shown on the television in the treehouse is a reference to the Gamera movies.
- There were 3 rules in the book: There was a parody of "The 3 R's" (known as The Three S's). That was Sit Down, Shut your pieholes, and STOP DRIVING ME CRAZY!.
- There were two rules mentioned in the Big Book O' Rules book that Mr. Krupp had. They were rule 411: Don't kick school property into space, and rule 7,734: Don't transform into big, flying Robots during afternoon recess.
- On page 55, George says, "Silly Rabbi, tricks are for kids!" This is a reference to the catchphrase of the Trix TV advertisements.
- In the intro comic, Captain Underpants states, "Diapers, Toilets, and Poop? Oh My!". This is a parody of the "Lions, Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!" quote from "The Wizard of Oz".
- The song that Ms. Ribble makes the class sing for her retirement party parodies the song "We Love You Conrad" from the musical "Bye Bye Birdie".
- On pages 118 and 119, Wedgie Woman's hair spells out "Wedgie Power" in sign language.
- Wedgie Woman is a parody of Wonder Woman. But acts more like Superwoman (evil alternate universe counterpart to Wonder Woman).
- While Wedgie Woman is building Robo-George and the Harold 2000, one of her hair arms draws a sketch of the fully-clothed Robo-George that is doing the same poses as Leonardo da Vinci's drawing, Vitruvian Man.
- The comic on page 126 states "A far time ago in a galaxy long, long away ...", which is a spoof of the Star Wars starter text line, "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away." which appears at the beginning of every movie.
- The Starch Ship Enterprise from The Origin of Captain Underpants is a parody of the Star Ship Enterprise from Star Trek. They both have the same build.
- Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman is mentioned in an episode of Arthur called "Fernkenstien's Monster."
- At the wedding, George and Harold ask themselves why couldn't the wedding be during Monday's math test, despite there being no school on Monday. However, it could be possible the same test that was supposed to be done on Monday was done on one of the other four days.
- In the comic, when the doctors rebuilt Ms. Ribble, it is a spoof of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman.in page 108.
- Mr. Krupp is apparently Jewish. (the wedding having a rabbi and Mr. Krupp wearing a Yarmulke)
- This is the first time someone else besides George and Harold appears in the introduction to Flip-O-Rama chapter. This wouldn't happen again until Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000.
- Even though George and Harold have been pulling pranks and causing trouble and being disruptive in class so much, we learn that Mr. Krupp couldn't even trust them if they were to do the opposite by doing good behavior in which Mr. Krupp and the staff would assume that the boys would be faking good behavior for some kind of unknown prank. However, Mr. Krupp doesn't realize that the boys he thought were them were actually robots.