“Lucy and Linus are the ones who named their baby brother Rerun. He doesn't hold it against them!”
—Charles M. Schulz on Rerun
Rerun van Pelt is a supporting male character in the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. He is the younger brother of Linus and Lucy. Rerun is the youngest permanent character in Peanuts. One of his most well-known traits was his mother carrying him on the back of a bike.
When Lucy compared having a second brother to television reruns, Linus thought "Rerun" would be a perfect name for the baby (or possibly nickname; his name is shown in quotation marks in some strips, but the first panel of the September 11, 1996 strip suggests that he does not know any other name for himself).
Rerun's first actual appearance was on March 26, 1973. He joined Charlie Brown's baseball team on March 29, 1973. A few weeks later, the team won their first ever game, only to forfeit the game in a gambling scandal. It was revealed on April 19, 1973, that Rerun had bet on the game with Snoopy.
At first, Rerun was only a minor character, appearing mostly on the back of his mother's bicycle, terrified. By the early 1980s, Schulz said he had "run out of ideas" on how to use Rerun. In a documentary, Sibling Rivalry: Growing Up Van Pelt, Schulz's widow recalled that he even admitted that, at that time, he regretted creating Rerun because he could not think of any further way to use the character, and yet he could not eliminate him altogether, as his siblings were main characters.
Rerun's appearances became rare. On occasion, he was simply shown sitting in the background, silently observing other characters. In one strip, he sits silently as Lucy declares that nothing that happened that day was her fault, then lifts his baby bottle to declare, "I'll drink to that." In another strip, he sits silently in his sandbox as Snoopy and his bird friends, acting out their French Foreign Legion fantasy, march past. In one ongoing storyline from March 1992, there is no mention of Rerun at all when Snoopy stays with Linus and Lucy while Charlie Brown's family goes away on a trip.
Infant Rerun appeared in several strips in November 1992, again riding on the back of his mother's bike, and unsuccessfully being taught by Lucy to count fingers. Starting in 1993, he started appearing more frequently, having grown beyond infancy, and as Schulz said, Rerun "took over" the comic by the mid-1990s. Initially, toddler Rerun was shown playing cards with an equally confused Snoopy and learning to tie his shoes from Lucy.
By 1996, Rerun had aged to 5 years old and reluctantly entered kindergarten, so he was still younger than the other characters in the Peanuts gang. Schulz's widow speculated that Rerun's new-found prominence was likely due to the emergence of grandchildren in Schulz's life.
A running gag featuring Rerun has him being too scared to go to kindergarten on some days, so he hides under his bed. Lucy tries to get him to move, but Rerun rarely does. Another running gag is that Rerun wants a pet dog. He frequently borrows Snoopy from Charlie Brown. In one storyline, starting May 16, 1996, Rerun convinces Snoopy to invite Spike to move into the van Pelt house as a pet. Rerun changes his mind when he sees how skinny Spike is.
In strips from the final years of Peanuts, Rerun is often shown drawing "underground comics" at school against his teacher's instructions to draw pictures of flowers. Other characters often inform Rerun that his drawings do not resemble his intended subjects. At other times, Rerun tries to sell his drawings, including ones of Snoopy, door to door. In Sibling Rivalry: Growing Up Van Pelt, it is suggested that Schulz's storylines about Rerun's cartoonist aspirations were autobiographical.
Schulz sometimes used Rerun as a successor to Linus in revisiting old storylines. In a 1973 strip, Lucy ruined Linus' first viewing of the movie Citizen Kane by revealing that "Rosebud" was the title character's sled, greatly upsetting Linus. A 1995 strip showed Lucy similarly beginning to ruin Rerun's first viewing of Citizen Kane, only to be stopped by an angry Linus. In another strip from 1999, Lucy is shown chastising Rerun for patting birds on the head, just as she had similarly chastised Linus in several strips over the previous decades.
Perhaps the most common joke used about Rerun refers to his poor basketball skills. Linus first introduces Rerun to
basketball in the strip from July 28, 1994. In subsequent strips, Rerun is often seen on the basketball court, but he is not very good. He is often shown kicking the ball in frustration, only to have it bounce back at him. In one strip he keeps missing the basket, puts the basketball in a closet and closes the door, saying, "You can come out when you learn to behave."
Rerun also yearns to play baseball on Charlie Brown's team. Despite having been allowed to join the team as an infant, leading to the gambling scandal that cost the team a rare win, strips from the 1990s often show Rerun's request being rejected by Charlie Brown. After Charlie Brown bluntly refuses to let Rerun play because he is too young and too small, Rerun accuses him of discrimination and obtains a court order, signed by Snoopy the World Famous Attorney, allowing him to play.
Rerun bears a strong physical resemblance to Linus. In appearances from the 1970s and 1980s, Rerun is virtually identical to Linus, though he is smaller, wore a plain T-shirt (it appears that he got many hand-me-downs from Linus, as he wore a long-sleeved shirt with Linus's shirt design), and his hair sprang up. Rerun's appearance evolved in the 1990s, as he aged beyond infancy. Rerun was mostly shown wearing overalls, and his hair was shown as shorter and flatter. While he continued to share Linus' facial features, Rerun's head also grew rounder and larger in proportion to his body. In his early TV appearances, he wears a green or white shirt with black shorts and saddle shoes. In I Want A Dog For Christmas, Charlie Brown, he wears an orange striped shirt under light blue overalls.
In the 1986 special Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!, when he is helping his siblings blow up balloons for the New Year's party, he actually blows them until they look like ice cubes. Linus convinces him to blow slower, but to no avail; and even an attempt to blow an elongated balloon fails.
Due to the infrequency of his appearances between the early 1970s and early 1990s, Rerun was somewhat inconsistently depicted at times.
As one significant example, Rerun is shown walking on his own in the spring of 1973. In a series of strips
from March and April, in which Lucy shows Rerun the outside world for the first time, and then convinces Charlie Brown to let Rerun join his baseball team, Rerun is shown both walking and even running on his own.
After almost fifteen years in which Rerun was only shown sitting on the back of his mother's bicycle, or on the floor, a comic strip from May 9, 1987 showed that Rerun had reverted to crawling. After Lucy tried to teach Rerun to snap his fingers while walking, Rerun proved unable to snap his fingers because he could only crawl.
Yet another continuity error involved Rerun being taught to tie his own shoes. He was first shown being congratulated by Lucy for tying his own shoes on February 26, 1994.
Four months later, on June 30, 1994, Rerun was again shown having just been taught to tie his own shoes by Lucy (Nevertheless, it is possible that he forgot).
Almost three years later, on April 18, 1997, Rerun is shown proudly informing Lucy that he had learned to tie his own shoes at school that day.
Rerun seems to get along with Linus for the most part, but they each have significantly less interaction with each other than with their sister, Lucy. Like Lucy, Rerun can sometimes be embarrassed by Linus' habits, like his security blanket, and how he waits for the Great Pumpkin every October. Rerun has admitted to Snoopy that he is unable to look up to Linus as a role model because of his thumb-sucking and blanket.
When Rerun became a main character in the 1990s, most of his sibling contact was with Lucy, only interacting with Linus to express embarrassment at his thumb-sucking, security blanket, and Great Pumpkin beliefs.
It was Linus that introduced Rerun to Basketball in 1994.
Lucy definitely shows a softer side to Rerun than she does to Linus. She is generally nice to Rerun, but still somewhat crabby, and often acts as a mentor to him. In his first appearance in the strip, on March 26, 1973, Lucy is seen taking the infant Rerun outside for the first time. A few days later, she convinces a reluctant Charlie Brown to let Rerun play on their baseball team.
In strips from the early 1990s, when Rerun was reintroduced as a toddler, Lucy is shown teaching him how to tie his shoes. In the later years of Peanuts' run, Lucy is seen playing board games with Rerun, trying to lure Rerun out from under the bed for school, and even listening to Rerun's accounts of his day in kindergarten. Unable to play on Charlie Brown's baseball team one day, she sends Rerun in her place, having trained him to yell "Throw the ball over the plate, you blockhead!" at Charlie Brown.
Lucy shows particular concern when Rerun appears to be at risk of adopting Linus' habits, telling him, "Your brother is a blockhead." This is demonstrated when Rerun is seen patting birds on the head in the same manner that Linus had done in previous years, and again when Linus tried to convert Rerun into a Great Pumpkin believer.
Whereas Linus is apt to give up and just let Lucy dominate him, Rerun often shows a knack for getting around Lucy and weakening her defenses. In the TV special I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown, Lucy walks up to Rerun building a tower from blocks, and asks him what he would do if she kicked it down. Rerun responds; "Probably nothing at the moment. But years from now after you're married and you and your husband want me to co-sign a note so you can buy a new house, I'll refuse." Lucy leaves. Rerun continues constructing his tower of building blocks and adds, "Younger brothers learn to think fast."
Little Pigtailed Girl
Rerun seems to have an innocent crush on the Little Pigtailed Girl, who sits next to him in their kindergarten class. He always talks to her in a flirty way, and she is often seen pointing out problems with his classroom drawings. In one strip he takes her to one of Charlie Brown's baseball games. One series of strips sees Rerun jokingly says she should run away to Paris. The girl believes Rerun, and she tells her mother about the joke. She tells her mother, followed by her mother who tells the teacher, followed by the teacher who tells the principal, and followed by the principal who calls in and tells Rerun's parents. Then Rerun is suspended from school for one day, on the grounds of harassment.
Snoopy and Rerun were first shown in the same strip on March 27, 1973, when Snoopy greets the infant Rerun in his sandbox by licking his face. Snoopy then turns away, observing that Rerun "tastes terrible."
In strips from the later years of Peanuts, Rerun repeatedly asks Charlie Brown if he can borrow Snoopy, as his mother will not let him have a dog of his own. Snoopy and Rerun are often seen together in later strips, playing card games, throwing and chasing balls and frolicking in the snow. Rerun, younger than the other children in the strip, even treats Snoopy as a confidant at times, sharing his anxieties and thoughts with the beagle, who often responds with exasperated or sarcastic thoughts.
Charlie Brown and Rerun have little interaction with each other in strips from the 1970s and 1980s. The main exception being the storyline from 1973 in which Lucy convinces a reluctant Charlie Brown to let infant Rerun join his baseball team. After Rerun is instrumental in the team's win, Charlie Brown is later infuriated when the win is stripped from the team because Rerun had bet on the game.
There is significantly more contact between the two in strips from the 1990s after Rerun grew beyond infancy. Rerun is often shown asking to be allowed to play on the baseball team and to borrow Snoopy. Charlie Brown is usually unwilling to let Rerun play on his team but is usually willing to let him play with Snoopy.
Unlike the other children, Rerun comes to admire Charlie Brown. While watching Charlie Brown warm up on his pitcher's mound on one occasion, Rerun refers to him as "the Master." Charlie Brown becomes somewhat of a mentor to Rerun, teaching him how to feed a dog, how to deliver newspapers, and how to play marbles. When the bully Joe Agate tricks Rerun into losing all of his marbles, Charlie Brown wins them back for Rerun.
Rerun's TV and film appearances
Rerun only appears in five television specials, four episodes of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, and none of the movies (with the minor exception of a picture of him in the credits for The Peanuts Movie), but he is the main character in I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown. Surprisingly, he does not appear in the most recent special Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown, despite being a major character in the strip's last decade. Ironically, he didn't appear in any of the specials released during the 1990s in which was the peak of him popularity in the comic strip (This may have been so he wouldn't overshadow his brother such as in the said strip).
Rerun appears in:
- It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown (1976)
- "Snoopy: Team Manager" (an episode of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show) (1983)
- "You Can't Win, Charlie Brown" (an episode of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show) (1983)
- "It's That Team Spirit, Charlie Brown" (an episode of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show) (1983)
- Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown (1985) [mentioned]
- "Snoopy and the Giant" (an episode of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show) (1985)
- Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! (1986) [silent]
- Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales (2002)
- I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown (2003)
- He's a Bully, Charlie Brown (2006)
- Peanuts (2014)
- The Snoopy Show (2021)
- Rerun is one of the many Peanuts characters to appear in the game Snoopy's Street Fair, in which, he owns a face painting booth.
- Rerun outlasts Lucy and Linus in the comic strip, appearing in two of the last Sunday strips.
- He and Eudora are absent from The Peanuts Movie. They also do not appear in previous Peanuts films.
- Rerun was the fifth baby to be seen in the strip, behind Schroeder, Lucy van Pelt, Linus van Pelt, and Sally Brown.
- Like Marcie and Eudora, Rerun refers to Charlie Brown as "Charles", especially in strips from the late 1990s.