A game of Calvinball

Calvinball is a game invented by Calvin and Hobbes in which you make the rules up as you go along. Rules cannot be used twice (except for the rule that rules cannot be used twice). No Calvinball game is like another. The game may involve wickets, mallets, volleyballs, and additional equipment as well as masks.

There is only one permanent rule in Calvinball: You can't play it in the same way twice. (But another seems to be that you have to wear a mask.) For example, in one game of Calvinball, the goal was to capture your opponent's flag, whereas in a different game of Calvinball, the goal was to score points by hitting badminton shuttlecocks against trees using a croquet mallet. An apparent rule in Calvinball is that you must wear a black mask and that you aren't allowed to question the mask. Another apparent rule is that any new rule made up by each player must be accepted. A third apparent rule is that you cannot make any plays you made in a previous game.


Calvin created the game when he first became tired of organized sports. Although the first depicted game of Calvinball followed Calvin's failure to join the baseball team [1], the game appears in such a complete form there that it is likely Calvin and Hobbes had been playing the game for a long time beforehand.

The only hint at the true creation of the game comes from the last Calvinball strip, in which a game of football quickly changes into a game of Calvinball. Calvin remarks, "Sooner or later, all our games turn into Calvinball," suggesting that a similar scenario led directly to the creation of the sport..


Although all games of Calvinball are different, (you make up the rules as you go), many of them seem to involve a volleyball (the Calvinball), masks, and pickets with numbers printed on them.

Key features of various games have included (in approximate order of appearance):

  • Wickets (Referred to as "time-fracture wickets" in one strip)
  • Soccer balls
  • Flags
  • Masks
  • Small signs with numbers
  • Songs
  • Zones/Sectors
  • The "Opposite Pole"
  • The no song zone
  • The very sorry song (see below)
  • The "Bonus Box"
  • Croquet mallets
  • Badminton shuttlecocks
  • "Vortex spots"
  • The "Boomerang Zone"
  • A volleyball (the "Calvinball")
  • Trees (as goalposts)
  • Buckets
  • Poems
  • Sacks
  • Odd Scoring (Q to 12, Oogy to Boogy, etc.)
  • The Calvinball theme song (see below)
  • Decrees
  • Water balloons
  • Hobby horse
  • The "Pernicious Poem Place"
  • The Bag Flag Zone
  • The Secret Base
  • Slow Motion
  • The Perimeter of Wisdom
  • The Corollary Zone
  • The Baby Sitter Flag

Calvinball theme song

The Calvinball theme song made its only appearance in the penultimate Calvinball storyline. Calvin sings the lead while Hobbes sings backup with "Rumma-Tum-Tums."

"Other kids' games are all such a bore!
They've gotta have rules and they gotta keep score!
Calvinball is better by far!
It's never the same! It's always bizarre!
You don't need a team or a referee!
You know that it's great, 'cause it's named after me!"

After that, Calvin tells Rosalyn to "feel free to harmonize with Hobbes on the 'rumma-tum-tums'".


No sport is less organized than Calvinball.


Sooner or later, all our games turn into Calvinball.


The only permanent rule in Calvinball is that you can never play it the same way twice!


The score is oogy to boogy!


The score is still Q to 12!


The "Pernicious Poem"

The poem that must be recited when one lands on the Pernicious Poem place is the following:

"This is a poem! Please do what you're told! And here is a bucket of water, ice-cold! Please take this water, and dump it on me! Don't hesitate, do it A.S.A.P.!

The Very Sorry Song

In one strip, Calvin and Hobbes are playing Calvinball, and Calvin "[steals]" Hobbes' flag, and Hobbes hits him with the Calvinball. As a result, Calvin is required to put the flag back and sing the Very Sorry Song.


The "Very Sorry Song" has two parts, one sung by the one who did the action (the "offender"), and one sung by the person whom the action was done to (the "victim").

Offender Victim
"Here's the 'Very Sorry Songg.' Won't you help and sing alongg?" "Bum bum bum"
"I blew it!" "He's sorry!"
"I knew it!" "So sorry!"
"I'm very very sorry that I took your precious flaaggg!" "Just don't do it any more, you scurvy scalawaaggg!"

Obscure Point System

Nobody knows how to score in Calvinball. The only known point values are Q and 12 in one game between Calvin and Hobbes and oogy and boogy in another.


  • Bill Watterson once said, "People have asked how to play Calvinball. It's pretty simple: you make up the rules as you go."
  • In one strip, Calvin and Hobbes are seen playing an obscure combination of croquet, cricket, and baseball. It is unknown whether or not this is a variation of Calvinball, a predecessor to Calvinball, or just another (albeit obscure) game.
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