Life Is a Circus, Charlie Brown is the twentieth animated television special based on the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. It was first broadcast on CBS on October 24, 1980 and won an Emmy for "Outstanding Animated Program".
The special opens with Snoopy hearing some music. He follows it and finds a circus unpacking. He notices three poodles and immediately falls in love with the white one, named Fifi. The dogs' trainer, a girl named Polly, sees the beagle and pulls him inside the circus tent.
The following day, Peppermint Patty telephones Charlie Brown and tells him that all the students at her school have been given the next day off to see the circus. Charlie Brown tells her that he won't be going to school the next day either and they decide to see the circus together.
At the circus the children see Snoopy perform as part of the dog act. They recognize him immediately. Most of the children enjoy the show, although the untrained Snoopy doesn't perform very well. However, Charlie Brown is upset, protesting that Snoopy is his dog. Later that evening, Charlie Brown notices that Snoopy hasn't returned home. He goes to the site where the circus was and sees Snoopy follow Fifi onto a train. The door closes and the train pulls away. Charlie Brown feels sickened that his dog is in love.
Polly gives Snoopy the name of "Hugo the Great" and trains him to become part of the dog act. The beagle learns to do a backflip and how to ride a unicycle, first on the ground and then on a highwire.
Back in Charlie Brown's neighborhood, Lucy has declared that Snoopy just isn't coming back. She boards up his doghouse and places a "premises condemned" sign on it. Charlie Brown tells Linus that his parents gave him Snoopy the day after another child poured a bucket of sand over his head (an anecdote which also features in the January 30 1972 comic strip and the movie Snoopy Come Home).
Polly decides to improve the dog act by teaching Snoopy and Fifi how to use the trapeze. Their act is a great success, but Colonel Strong, the owner of the circus, tells Polly that the two dogs need to be dyed pink. Polly manages to push Snoopy into a tub of pink food dye, but when she tries to do the same thing to Fifi, Snoopy fights her off, having decided that life in the circus isn't for him. He escapes with Fifi and takes her to a bus stop, but the poodle decides that she wants to return to the circus, leaving Snoopy heartbroken.
Charlie Brown is woken up by the sound of running water, Snoopy has returned home and is washing off the pink food dye in the shower. Charlie Brown sees the beagle leave the shower but does not say anything. Snoopy prepares some supper for himself (a big sandwich and a glass of milk, instead of dog food), and after finishing his meal, goes to his doghouse, only to discover the sign and boards that Lucy nailed to it. Enraged, Snoopy tears them off and goes to the rooftop to sleep, but not before putting on a large flashing neon sign, which reads "Hugo the Great", ending the special.
- This special was one of the very first two Peanuts specials released on VHS, on a set released by Media Home Entertainment in June 1984 with You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown.
- Michael Mandy – Charlie Brown
- Brent Hauer – Peppermint Patty
- Shannon Cohn – Marcie
- Kristen Fullerton – Lucy van Pelt
- Rocky Reilly – Linus van Pelt
- Christopher Donohoe – Schroeder
- Casey Carlson – Polly
- Bill Melendez – Snoopy
- Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown on the Internet Movie Database.
- Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown on the Big Cartoon Database.
- Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown on AllMovie.