So this question got me thinking that, except for pure Calvin fantasy (i.e. Spaceman Spiff, where nothing is real), is there ever a comic where Calvin claims Hobbes did something that Calvin could not have possibly performed himself? This one comes close, but Calvin could have tied himself up

Note that we don't have to see Hobbes having done it, just that it would have been very difficult or impossible for Calvin to have done it.

  • 32
    does having tea w/ Suzy count?
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 19:28
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    @Machavity - Putting mom's shoes on a high shelf; i.sstatic.net/TSEAw.png
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 20:08
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    Leaving Hobbes's true nature purposely ambiguous cuts both ways: Just as Bill Watterson never wrote in anything proving Hobbes was only a stuffed animal, he also never wrote in anything proving he was something more. Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 21:06
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    Calvin doing things which seem to be impossible to pull off alone are not necessarily proof that Hobbes is real. It can be a joke of how many surprising and unexplained things a 5 year old child can do. I've seen small children find hidden things and crawl into places I wouldn't have thought possible before.
    – vsz
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 21:45
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    @Valorum That's actually a much better answer than the current one.
    – Drew
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 21:56

5 Answers 5


A pretty compelling one is this strip, where Calvin had no opportunity to take the cookies without Susie noticing:

enter image description here

I also find it interesting that "real" Hobbes appears in the second pane.

Then there's this one, where Calvin would probably have some serious difficulty getting that high up a tree while holding a water balloon on his own, but more convincingly, Calvin is shown leaving the water balloon at the base of the tree before he climbs:

enter image description here

There's also a few where it's unlikely Calvin did something. There's the tied up one in the OP, for example. There's also this one, where Hobbes probably stole a piece of cake:

enter image description here

There's this one, too, which, assuming it happened as shown, would be very strange if Hobbes wasn't involved:

enter image description here

There's some honorable mentions as well, although I didn't feel they were strong enough to explicitly mention above. They hint at things done by Hobbes to Calvin but one could imagine Calvin doing them to himself:

But Watterson left it intentionally vague, so as with all questions related to Hobbes' existence, we can never be 100% sure.

  • 62
    I also find it interesting that "real" Hobbes appears in the second pane. At that instant Susie is actually looking away from Hobbes. He's a stuffed toy in pane 3 where he's arguably within her field of view again. : ) Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 9:13
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    Well, I'd argue that in your 2nd example, anything between "C+H+ballon on the ground" and "C+H+ballon on the branch" could be Calvin's imagination. Still, it does not explain how he climbed that high with two things in his hands. Also, in the 3rd one, it could be Calvin eating a piece, so I believe this one does not qualify.
    – yo'
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 10:34
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    I'd argue that there's a minute or two not shown between panels 3 & 4 of the first example, and the fourth example is Calvin blaming a wipeout on Hobbes (and blowing it out of proportion in his imagination). Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 15:27
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    In fact, I'd go so far as to claim that if you ever found a Calvin & Hobbes strip that showed, without a doubt, Hobbes doing something that could not be explained with any number of assumptions (barring the catch-all that the comic itself is fiction, of course), then this would have been a rare mistake on Watterson's part that we could almost just discount as an error. Even in my examples in this answer, I could not definitively argue that Hobbes must have intervened / performed an action, I can only argue that it strongly appears as such within the confines of the panes.
    – Jason C
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 15:36


In the examples provided, as well as every other strip that I can find, there's nothing inconsistent with a young child who has a very vivid imagination. My personal opinion is that when Hobbes does many of the things that Calvin credits (or blames) him for, Calvin is actually pretending that he's Hobbes.

The issue in the comic strips is that, when we see the "living" Hobbes, we're either seeing the other reality that nobody else sees (in which case Hobbes really is alive and is Calvin's active co-conspirator), or we're inside Calvin's imagination, in which case, how much of the rest of the scene is also his imagination? Note that the fact that it's his imagination doesn't make it any less real, but it's a subjective reality, rather than an objective one.


We don't know that Calvin didn't have the opportunity to take the cookies; he could just be very very sneaky.


I've watched children, while pretending, do things equally as elaborate to set up a simple scenario and then maintain that their imaginary friend helped them, they "flew up here," or given any of a dozen other explanations. Again - if Hobbes is real, then he helped. If Hobbes is pretend, then what else is pretend in the scene?


Simple deflection. Who's to say that Calvin didn't sneak in for a piece of cake earlier and then pretend (even to himself) that Hobbes did it.


Somebody else commented that this could just be an elaborate explanation for a wipeout. Makes sense.


Rationalization for falling down, or what he imagined (wished?) would happen to Suzy.

  • 1
    It would be tricky for Calvin to tie himself up.
    – Molag Bal
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 19:16
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    Agreed. But not impossible. When I was around 10, I used to manage to do it to try to teach myself how to be an escape artist. Not quite THAT elaborately, of course. Note that I'm not saying that Calvin ISN'T real, just asking whether,if Calvin is pretending, what else in the scene is pretend?
    – Deacon
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 19:23
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    I like this counter-analysis very much. See this comment and the following ones for discussion precisely along these lines. As I mentioned there, the best we can do is essentially rank them by the amount of out-of-pane assumptions we need to make about the universe to explain them. All the strips have potential explanations if you make assumptions, worse case you can default to "Calvin imagined the whole thing". This was part of Watterson's magic.
    – Jason C
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 3:15

In the following cartoon strip Hobbes presses the button on the outside of Calvin's Duplicator.

Given the position of the button, there's simply no way that Calvin could have pushed it himself, from inside the machine.

enter image description here

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    ^_^ Ah, but was the button actually pushed?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 19:04
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    @FuzzyBoots - Of course it was. Or else how could the Duplicator have worked?
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 19:06
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    An interesting spin on Schrodinger's Paradox -- the cat is outside the box for once!
    – Wossname
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 20:30
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    I think this falls in the realm of "pure fantasy" that is explicitly to be ignored per OP. Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 21:11
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    Sorry Mr Valorum, but Hobbes pushing a drawn-on button doesn't answer the question for me. It's all in Calvin's mind. What we need is something more physical, like Hobbes lifting Calvin into a tree, and then others wondering how he got up there. Savvy?
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 3:41

Eating Tommy Chesnutt:

enter image description here

Calvin could not have eaten his classmate.

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    Since this cartoon describes an event that clearly didn't happen, I think it would be ruled out by the "except for pure Calvin fantasy" clause in the question. Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 1:56
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    @HarryJohnston it seems to me that a great deal of the point of Calvin and Hobbes is that the distinction between made up and real is blurry to nonexistent at best.
    – Leliel
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 2:28
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    Suffered amnesia? He's playing make-believe. As for the blurred line between make-believe and reality, that's a reasonable interpretation, but not really compatible with the premise of this particular question. You're welcome (as far as I'm concerned) to directly attack that premise, but it seems to me that your answer just ignores it. Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 3:08
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    The problem I have with this strip is that it's not evident that anybody ate Tommy Chestnut. He could be just fine.
    – Jason C
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 3:29
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    I mean obviously Calvin really ate Tommy Chestnut, the little weirdo. But it's okay, Tommy Chestnut never existed.
    – fluffy
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 5:26

Yes. Hobbes unlocks the front door of the house and leaves without Calvin's mom noticing.

comic strip from http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1992/03/29

Notice the last panel - Calvin sneaks home from school and does not enter the house, as evidenced that his mother has not yet noticed him. It is strongly implied from the wording as well that Calvin has just arrived back from school and has not yet entered the house. Yet, HOBBES IS OUTSIDE.

  • It's not outside the realm of possibility that he sneaked in and his mom didn't notice him. Teenagers manage to sneak both out and in the house without their parents noticing. When he was younger, there were a few times that one of my sons walked right past me and went to play outside without me noticing. Again - not saying you're wrong, just saying it's certainly possible.
    – Deacon
    Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 15:17

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