What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? is the twenty-sixth prime-time animated television special based upon the strip cartoon Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz who introduced the special. It aired on the CBS network on two occasions: originally on May 30, 1983 (Memorial Day), and last aired on May 26, 1984 (the Saturday before Memorial Day and ten days before the 40th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion).
The special is a sequel to the movie Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!!). It depicts Charlie Brown, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Marcie, Snoopy, and Woodstock traveling through France and Belgium, visiting sites associated with World War II and World War I. The title is a rhetorical question asked by Linus, meaning, "What has mankind learned from war?"
The special opens with Charlie Brown back home, assembling a photo album of pictures taken from his trip. His younger sister Sally approaches and asks him how the trip went. From there, it is shown in a flashback:
As they begin to head back from the chateau to the train station for the return trip to London (where they would return to the US by airplane), their problematic rented car (a Citroen 2CV) slows their progress, before breaking down entirely in a small French town. They ask to rent a car from a French lady (who immediately accepts the offer realizing Snoopy is, in fact, a World War I Flying Ace) the group soon becomes lost and camps at a nearby beach for the night. Linus, however, wakes up shortly before daybreak and walks along the beach, realizing they are at Omaha Beach.
Linus then tells the battle of D-Day, leading the group to the nearby cemetery for all of the American soldiers. The voice of General Dwight D. Eisenhower is also heard, reminiscing about the experiences of the battle. Archival news footage is also used, in some cases with the characters inserted through rotoscoping.
While preceding up north, the group heads toward Ypres, which Linus recognizes as the site of a series of battles during World War I. They arrive at a field of red poppies, which grew through the wastelands of battles fought during the war, and which serve as a marker for the Ypres battle site. Linus then recites the poem, "In Flanders Fields", after directing the group to the British field dressing station where McCrae was inspired to write the poem.
They come away realizing what the impact of the war was and how important the sacrifice of the soldiers was. Standing among the field of red poppies, Linus then turns and asks, "What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown?". The scene then flashes back to Charlie Brown and Sally. Sally then tells Charlie Brown that he is pasting the pictures in the album upside down.
- Brad Kesten – Charlie Brown
- Stacy Heather Tolkin – Sally Brown
- Jeremy Schoenberg – Linus van Pelt
- Victoria Vargas – Peppermint Patty
- Michael Dockery – Marcie
- Bill Melendez – Snoopy/Woodstock
- Monica Parker – Frenchwoman
- Dwight D. Eisenhower - himself (archive audio)
- This is the only special to link to a previous special or movie.
- Stock footages from Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!!) are used.
- This special was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (as was Is This Goodbye, Charlie Brown?).
- This special has a plot hole in which the car never had an ignition lever in the events of the previous movie, and Peppermint Patty even criticizes Charlie Brown in pain.
- The last two digits on the license plates on the car that the Peanuts gang rent show that it is registered in France's Marche Department, where Omaha Beach is located.
- This is one of the few specials that have adults visible on screen.
- Charles M. Schulz was a World War II veteran but was not deployed until after the war ended and D-Day was complete. Also, the gang is in the same town and chateau that he was stationed at.
- This is the first Peanuts special to tackle a serious issue, which is war. The second was Why, Charlie Brown, Why?, which discusses cancer and the third was He's a Bully, Charlie Brown, which explains bullying.
- When Charlie Brown gets in the car after he first injures his hand while cranking the car at the rent-a-car place, Linus is in the back seat, but when they leave the rent-a-car place and run into the French girl on the bike, Linus is in the front seat.
- During the opening credits, the title of the book about King Arthur is misspelled "Arther."
- What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? on the Internet Movie Database.
- What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? on the Big Cartoon Database.
- What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? on AllMovie.