I have always wondered: why do adults in Peanuts not really talk?

Why do they only make that wah wah wah noise? (By the way, what was it? That sounds like a trombone or a trumpet with a mute.)

  • 4
    Is this about the Peanuts movie specifically or about the whole of Peanuts?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Aug 8, 2016 at 11:42
  • 13
    I always thought that it was because of the way that kids heard adults. Whenever adults are speaking kids just hear "wah wah wah" Aug 8, 2016 at 12:55
  • 3
    @steelerfan but did you think that because of Peanuts or did Peanuts do it cause that's what we think? mind blown
    – cde
    Aug 8, 2016 at 14:03
  • 2
    I remember being about the same age as Charlie Brown and wondering about this. It was really weird and confusing especially since Charlie Brown clearly understood the garbled speach perfectly.
    – David42
    Aug 8, 2016 at 16:03
  • 4
    In the whole Peanuts comics, adults are never shown and never heard. You must be talking about the movies only.
    – edc65
    Aug 8, 2016 at 19:50

2 Answers 2


Television producer Lee Mendelson was already a few years into his collaboration with Peanuts creator Charles Schulz when he was faced with an unusual problem: How do you depict adults in an animated special for a comic strip that never features adults?

Mendelson told Mashable, “We chose not to show the adult. So I asked our music director, Vince Guaraldi, ‘Would there be some instrument we could use as a sound to emulate what an adult might sound like to a kid?’”

Guaraldi, who first collaborated with Schulz and Mendelson on a 1963 documentary about the comic strip legend, didn’t hesitate. He brought in a trombone player. (mashable)

  • 24
    For the sake of completeness, you may want to add that it was created by speaking lines into a trombone with a mute that was opened and closed.
    – alex_d
    Aug 8, 2016 at 13:23
  • 3
    @alex_d - Agreed. Admittedly, the mute was obvious (well, to anyone who's ever heard a muted horn live anyway). What I wasn't sure about was what kind of horn was used.
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 8, 2016 at 13:28
  • 14
    It may be worth mentioning that in a comic strip the reader can fill in what the adult would presumably have said, but a television show or movie will need to do something to fill in the time. Silence would suggest that nobody is speaking (which isn't true), so the noise is used to indicate that someone is speaking but it doesn't matter what they're saying. BTW, Charlie Chaplin's movie City Lights used a kazoo for IIRC a mayor's speech, for similar reasons.
    – supercat
    Aug 8, 2016 at 23:10

I know that this is a question posted regarding the TV Show and, potentially, the recent movie but in regards to adults in Schulz work, the Peanuts Wiki site states:

Schulz said that grown-ups just did not interest him. The absence of adults also gives Peanuts a unique point of view, bringing the comic down to the level of children, and not children from an adult's viewpoint.

A few years or so ago I wondered this same question. I can't recall where but I do seem to recall that I managed to find a reasonably reliable or "official" source expressing these thoughts nearly verbatim. Likewise, you can find similar mentioning's of Schulz perspective on adults in his strips throughout the web.

The bottomline from what I've gathered in my research is that having adults express themselves within his comics would have provided a form of "noise" that would have detracted from the many adult moments that were being communicated through the experiences of the children within the strip. Peanuts resinates with so many people because through the simplicity of children, we often experience very deep and emotional observations of life, ourselves and others.

If this was legitimately Schulz intent then having adult dialog would have degraded the essence of the messages he was trying to express.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .