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Front cover of a book adaptation of Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown.

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.


Voice cast




Life Is A Circus, Charlie Brown and It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Promo 1980

External links

Peanuts Animated Features
TV Specials A Charlie Brown ChristmasCharlie Brown's All-StarsIt's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie BrownYou're in Love, Charlie BrownHe's Your Dog, Charlie BrownIt Was a Short Summer, Charlie BrownPlay It Again, Charlie BrownYou're Not Elected, Charlie BrownThere's No Time for Love, Charlie BrownA Charlie Brown ThanksgivingIt's a Mystery, Charlie BrownIt's the Easter Beagle, Charlie BrownBe My Valentine, Charlie BrownYou're a Good Sport, Charlie BrownIt's Arbor Day, Charlie BrownIt's Your First Kiss, Charlie BrownWhat a Nightmare, Charlie BrownYou're the Greatest, Charlie BrownShe's a Good Skate, Charlie BrownLife Is a Circus, Charlie BrownIt's Magic, Charlie BrownSomeday You'll Find Her, Charlie BrownA Charlie Brown CelebrationIs This Goodbye, Charlie Brown?It's an Adventure, Charlie BrownWhat Have We Learned, Charlie Brown?It's Flashbeagle, Charlie BrownSnoopy's Getting Married, Charlie BrownYou're a Good Man, Charlie BrownHappy New Year, Charlie Brown!Snoopy!!! The MusicalIt's the Girl in the Red Truck, Charlie BrownWhy, Charlie Brown, Why?Snoopy's ReunionIt's Spring Training, Charlie BrownIt's Christmastime Again, Charlie BrownYou're in the Super Bowl, Charlie BrownIt Was My Best Birthday Ever, Charlie BrownIt's the Pied Piper, Charlie BrownA Charlie Brown ValentineCharlie Brown's Christmas TalesLucy Must Be Traded, Charlie BrownI Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie BrownHe's a Bully, Charlie BrownHappiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie BrownSnoopy Presents: For Auld Lang SyneSnoopy Presents: It's the Small Things, Charlie BrownSnoopy Presents: To Mom (and Dad), With LoveSnoopy Presents: Lucy's School
Movies A Boy Named Charlie BrownSnoopy, Come HomeRace for Your Life, Charlie BrownBon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!!)The Peanuts Movie
The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show "Snoopy's Cat Fight" • "Snoopy: Team Manager" • "Linus and Lucy" • "Lucy vs. the World" • "Linus' Security Blanket" • "Snoopy: Man's Best Friend" • "Snoopy the Psychiatrist" • "You Can't Win, Charlie Brown" • "The Lost Ballpark" • "Snoopy's Football Career" • "Chaos in the Classroom" • "It's That Team Spirit, Charlie Brown" • "Lucy Loves Schroeder" • "Snoopy and the Giant" • "Snoopy's Brother Spike" • "Snoopy's Robot" • "Peppermint Patty's School Days" • "Sally's Sweet Babboo"
This Is America, Charlie Brown "The Mayflower Voyagers" • "The Birth of the Constitution" • "The Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk" • "The NASA Space Station" • "The Building of the Transcontinental Railroad" • "The Great Inventors" • "The Smithsonian and the Presidency" • "The Music and Heroes of America"
Snoopy in Space "The Application" • "Training" • "The Graduation" • "Welcome to the ISS" • "I Never Promised You a Space Garden" • "Space Sleepwalking" • "The Journey on Orion" • "Crater Crash" • "Searching for Moon Rocks" • "You're a Good Moon, Charlie Brown" • "The Next Mission" • "Mars or Bust"
Others Peanuts (2014 TV series) • Peanuts Motion ComicsThe Snoopy Show