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In the Captain Underpants series, there are numerous running gags which vary from chapter titles to catchphrases.

List of running gags[]

  • Each book begins with "This is George Beard and Harold Hutchins. George is the kid on the left with the tie and the flat-top. Harold is the one on the right with the T-shirt and the bad haircut. Remember that now." Books eight, ten and twelve feature slightly different variations of this.
  • The first chapter always features the same transition to the second chapter: "But before I tell you that story, I have to tell you this story..."
  • Every book (except the tenth) has George and Harold rearrange the letters of a sign to say something ridiculous (example: "Don't underestimate our good teachers" becomes "Our teachers don't use deodorant").
  • At the end of every book except the twelth, either Harold or George will say "Oh no!" and the other will say "Here we go again!". In the first five books, Harold will say "Oh no!" and George will say "Here we go again!". Beginning with the sixth book, it is reversed with George saying "Oh no!" and Harold saying "Here we go again!".
  • The fourth wall is broken on numerous occasions. The characters in the series all seem to be highly aware that they are inside a book, frequently referencing pages, chapters and other books in the series.
  • Every book has a chapter titled "To Make a Long Story Short," which consists of just a few words. The usual phrase in the chapter is "It did." Book eight includes another chapter titled "To Make An Even Longer Story Even Shorter."
  • Every book has two comics; one at the beginning (a short recap of the previous books) and one in the middle (for humor, and someone often complains about it afterward). The exceptions are books five, eight and nine, where there are three comics.
  • Every book has a chapter known as "The Incredibly Graphic Violence Chapter," which uses an animation technique known as Flip-O-Rama. There is a notice before the Flip-O-Rama warning the reader of how graphic the scenes are, however the notices are replaced with title card pictures beginning with the eighth book.
  • In many of George and Harold's comics, the gym teacher or some inanimate object are attacked and/or destroyed somehow by the antagonist(s), and the principal expresses more concern for the inanimate object than the gym teacher. For example, in book two, when a child reports that the Talking Toilets scratched someone's car and ate the gym teacher, the principal says, "Lord have mercy! Was it MY car?"
  • All of George and Harold's comics (except for the Dog Man ones; not the old ones, like this one) have bad spelling and fractured grammar (save for the introductory comic in book twelve, which contains no spelling errors, showing that George and Harold have improved over time). In the 8th book, it shows one of Evil George and Evil Harold's comic books about Captain Blunderpants. In it, it has correct spelling, grammar and better artwork. George and Harold ironically mention later that they thought some words were spelled wrong in it, and that the pictures looked horrible.
  • There are many references to The Three Stooges in the series:
    • Four of Harold's goldfish are named "Moe", "Larry", "Curly" and "Dr. Howard."
    • The school the boys attend is called Jerome Horwitz Elementary.
    • The initial team name is the Knuckleheads.
    • George and Harold get their 3D Hypno-Ring from the "Li'l Wise Guy Novelty Company."
    • In book nine, there are references to the Three Stooges in the second chapter: a chubby bald guy (a Curly lookalike) teases a waitress and says "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!", to which a Moe lookalike responds by poking him in the eyes.
    • In the introductory comic in book ten, Mr. Krupp says "I'm a victim of soycumstance!", which is another one of Curly's catchphrases.
  • In almost every book in the novel series, there is a little boy along with his mother, who witness Captain Underpants fighting the antagonist. The boy tries to tell his mother what is happening, but she doesn't believe him.
  • George and Harold often note that the fate of the world is in their hands, which is often said in a dire situation. The only times they have not said this were in the 6th and 7th books.
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