Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! is the thirtieth animated television special based on the Peanuts comic strip created by Charles M. Schulz. It first aired on CBS on January 1, 1986. The special is currently available on the I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown DVD.
Christmas vacation is only a few minutes away, and Charlie Brown is excited about it. However, his feelings change when his teacher assigns a book report on War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy. As school lets out, Charlie Brown and Linus decide to let out their anger over the teacher's decision. Linus decides to take his anger out by throwing a snowball at his sister Lucy and Patty, but it flies past both, and hits the trunk of a nearby tree. Lucy, knowing her brother would try this kind of trick, packs a big snowball and rolls it like a bowling ball, knocking both Linus and Charlie Brown down to the sound of bowling pins crashing (see title card).
Charlie Brown complains to Linus he will never be able to finish the book and write a paper on it over vacation, but Linus tries to convince him to read it. Just then, the phone rings, and it is Peppermint Patty inviting Charlie Brown to her New Year's party, but Charlie Brown says he has to read his book. Peppermint Patty says it is a boy-ask-girl party, but Charlie Brown keeps insisting he has to read his book. Sally wants Linus to take her to the party, and Lucy expects a certain piano player to take her, and she also announces she has enrolled everyone else in a dance class.
In the hope of learning the plot of War and Peace faster, Charlie Brown goes to a store and asks if they have War and Peace in the form of a comic book, a record, a tape or cassette, a computer game or a film strip, but the store does not have any of those things.
Charlie Brown goes back home to read his book, but suddenly remembers the dance class. When Charlie Brown arrives there, he gets distracted by Peppermint Patty and starts dancing with her. ("Slow, Slow, Quick! Quick! (Doin' the Foxtrot)) Back home, Sally asks Charlie Brown again when Linus will take her to the party. He and Lucy are busy blowing up balloons for the party, but their little brother Rerun blows square balloons. He tries teaching Rerun how to properly to blow up balloons, but to no avail.
Meanwhile, Lucy asks Schroeder if he's taking her to the party or not. He then replies, "Musicians don't dance. Anyway, I'll be playing the piano at the party," which means "no." Charlie Brown then decides he is making too much of a fuss over his book, that he will be able to come to Peppermint Patty's party after all, and will take the Little Red-Haired Girl.
He then goes over to the Little Red-Haired Girl's house with Linus to put an invitation in her mail slot, inviting her to the party. He gets his hand stuck in the mail slot but she does not respond to all the noise he makes, so he assumes she does not want to come with him.
Charlie Brown takes his book to the party, so he can read it during the evening. The children play musical chairs. Peppermint Patty sings a musical chairs song during the game. Eventually, she and Charlie Brown are the only ones left, but at the very last second, she beats him.
Charlie Brown goes outside to read his book after sharing root bear with Lucy. He starts reading, then falls asleep as it begins snowing. Everyone else is watching the Times Square Ball drop on TV, when there is a knock on the door. It is Heather, the Little Red-Haired Girl, who Linus greets then asks her to dance with him.
Charlie Brown wakes up at midnight, due to everyone singing "Auld Lang Syne". Peppermint Patty then yells at Charlie Brown, saying due to him sleeping, she was the only one standing alone at midnight. Before Charlie Brown can explain, Sally comes over and yells at him, too, that she did not get to dance with Linus, her Sweet Babboo, like she wanted to; because Linus was dancing with the Little Red-Haired Girl on purpose. This shocks Charlie Brown, who discovers that the Little Red Haired Girl was at the party and he missed her. Charlie Brown then goes out the door to see if he can still see her, but he cannot (because she left before, at, or after midnight). Marcie comes over to him, kisses him, and wishes him a happy new year. Snoopy's bird friends come in with signs that read "New", "Happy", and "Year!" Snoopy growls at them to get the phrase right and they put the words into their proper positions.
At the end of the special, Charlie Brown gets back his report on War and Peace. He receives a grade of D-minus, because the teacher said "it looked like the sort of report that was written after midnight on the last day of Christmas vacation", which it was. Linus then alerts Charlie Brown for their next assignment, reading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, causing him to faint in dismay under his desk, but Linus wishes him a Happy New Year.
- Chad Allen – Charlie Brown
- Jeremy Miller – Linus van Pelt
- Melissa Guzzi – Lucy van Pelt
- Kristie Baker – Peppermint Patty
- Jason Mendelson – Marcie
- Elizabeth Lyn Fraser – Sally Brown
- Aron Mandelbaum – Schroeder
- This is the second special in which the Little Red-Haired Girl appears, after first appearing in It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown. In both specials she is given the name Heather and looks the same.
- War and Peace was Schulz's favorite book.
- The special is dedicated, "To The Loving Memory of Bernie Gruver", a designer on various Peanuts specials who died of pneumonia prior to its release.
- Despite the special airing in 1986, the copyright date is 1985.
- Despite having no speaking parts, Rerun appears in the special, mainly in the scene where he helps Linus and Lucy blow up balloons for the New Year's party. All attempts fail, as he ends up blowing the balloons to where they resemble cubes instead of spheres.
- The part where Linus teaches Rerun how to blow up balloons is inspired by the comic strip storyline that originally ran from December 20 through December 24, 1954.
- Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! on the Internet Movie Database.
- Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! on the Big Cartoon Database.
- Happy New Year, Charlie Brown on AllMovie.