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

List of running gags

  • Every book begins with the sentence "This is George Beard and Harold Hutchins. George is the one 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."
  • At the end of each book (except book 12), Harold says "Oh no!" and George says "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." The eighth book put a spin on this joke and added 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 has an animation technique known as Flip-O-Rama.There is a warning or notice right before the Flip-O-Rama occurs describing how graphic the scenes are.
  • In George and Harold's comics, the gym teacher and some inanimate object are always attacked/destroyed somehow by the antagonist, and the principal expresses more concern for the inanimate object than the gym teacher. In the second book's comic, for example, when a kid says 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 have bad spelling and fractured grammar. 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. Two of Harold's hamsters are named "Dr. Fine" and "Dr. Howard," the school the boys attend is called Jerome Horwitz Elementary, the initial team name is the Knuckleheads, and George and Harold get their hypnotic ring from the "Li'l Wise Guy Novelty Company."
  • 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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