Generally, the strip had week-long story arcs for the first couple of years and had its longest arcs in the middle of the its life. Later on, the arcs became fewer and farther between as Bill Watterson focused more on Sunday strips.
Story arcs are used mainly to develop characters, introduce new devices, or investigate new artistic directions.
Calvin traps Hobbes in the backyard with a sandwich-baited rope. When Calvin asks his father what to do with his new tiger, he suggests "stuffing" it. Calvin interprets this as meaning overfeeding Hobbes. This was the very first story arc and contained the very first strip of the series. It somewhat explains how Calvin and Hobbes got together, if only until later strips indicated otherwise.
Note: Arc may include November 20-22 strips as well.
Susie is introduced to the strip as a new girl in Calvin's class.
Calvin and Susie are sent to Principal Spittle's office for passing notes. Susie is concerned that they will be paddled. However, Principal Spittle just tells them to pay better attention and sends them back to class. Calvin stays behind, though, to take part in a Spaceman Spiff fantasy.
Note: Only story arc that refers to Principal Spittle by name.
January 30 - February 1:
Moe is introduced as the class bully.
Calvin makes a valentine for Susie. However, he sends a hate-mail valentine and flowers from the florist's dumpster. Susie gives Calvin a "valentine" in the form of a snowball to the head. However, Susie is actually flattered that Calvin took the time, and Calvin is glad that she noticed.
March - April
Calvin's mother and father leave Calvin and Hobbes alone for an an evening because they cannot locate a babysitter. The two rent a scary movie and a VCR while Calvin's parents are out and as a result rig up traps in Calvin's room.
March 31-April 1:
Calvin goes fishing.
Calvin the Human Insect appears.
Hobbes goes missing after a big dog knocks down Calvin and runs off with his tiger. Calvin tries writing posters to help people find Hobbes, but to no avail. Susie later finds Hobbes and brings him to her house to take part in a tea party. Calvin comes across Susie, retrieves his companion and thanks her, but before Calvin found Hobbes, Hobbes stole all the cookies at the party.
Calvin and his parents go on vacation. Although Calvin's father enjoys himself, his wife fails to appreciate the rustic atmosphere and his son complains of boredom.
Note: Here the family stayed at a cabin, so this does not count as a camping trip.
When Calvin grimaces, his mother claims that his face might freeze like that someday. He and Hobbes endeavour to get their faces frozen in a hideous expression but the strain of doing so gets to them, as well as Susie insulting them, and they drop the project.
Calvin uses a magic elixir to turn himself invisible.
September - October - November
Calvin gets his bicycle and tries to ride it. However, it starts attacking him.
September 29 - October 1:
October 29 - November 1:
Calvin's mother becomes ill, and the difficulty of caring for her gets to Calvin and his father.
Hobbes gets an invitation which turns out to be for Susie's birthday party. Calvin reluctantly tags along with his stuffed partner, and gets Susie a bicycle horn for a present. He manages to enjoy himself with the food and games at the party.
Calvin models his hair with shortening for Picture Day. His mother makes him comb it out, but Hobbes remodels his hair as Astro Boy at the bus stop. When the time comes for his picture, Calvin also removes his shirt, revealing a face painted on his stomach. In the end, Calvin and Hobbes look at the pictures and burst out laughing.
Note: This may have been a setup by Hobbes and Calvin himself, due to when they wink at each other when Calvin is sent to bed.
March 23 - April 3:
Calvin gets a substitute teacher, who can't stand him.
Calvin gives a 5-minute oral report on the human brain.
- Note: Since he brings noodles as a visual aid to school, this could be the explanation of the Noodle Incident.
Note: Introduces Tracer Bullet.
Four consecutive pouncing gags.
Calvin tries to get cookies.
Note: This story arc contains a Sunday strip.
August 31 - September 11:
Calvin invents a time machine. He and Hobbes attempt to travel to the future, but wind up 144 million years ago in the Jurassic. After a near-miss with a dinosaur, they go back to their own time and Hobbes vows to quit time travel.
The "cover story" of Yukon Ho! When his mother forces him to clean his room, Calvin gets fed up and decides to secede from the family and move to the Yukon with Hobbes. Along the way the two break up over leadership conflicts, and Calvin goes home while Hobbes marches on. When Hobbes doesn't return, Calvin and his father search for him. Calvin's father finds his son's companion and places it in Calvin's bed. The next day Hobbes claims he made it back himself, but Calvin soon finds out he was lying.
Note: This is the only story arc that includes two Sunday comics.
Calvin's mother and father go out to a movie, and hire Rosalyn to babysit. Calvin and Hobbes attempt to make a run for it, but Rosalyn catches them. Calvin is sent to bed, and when his parents come home, a police officer arrives with two hostage reports doubtlessly made by Calvin.
November - December
Calvin's father's polls take a dip after the exhuming of college-era evidence.
Calvin notices the changing weather, and thinks the sun is going out.
November 30 - December 5:
December 30 - January 1
January - February - March
January 25 - February 4:
Calvin invents the Transmogrifier Gun, a portable version of the Transmogrifier, and asks Hobbes to turn him into a pterodactyl. A series of mishaps occur, until the gun malfunctions and Calvin is stuck as an owl. Calvin is dismayed until he realizes that owls don't go to school. However, the transmogrification wears off overnight and he becomes regular Calvin.
Note: This story arc includes a Sunday strip.
February 22 - March 2:
Calvin is fed up with being a kid and having to fill out demands so, for a change, he tries living like a tiger. However, it turns out to be nothing like Calvin expected it to be. He goes back to being a boy when he uncovers that tigers are an endangered species.
Two consecutive pouncing gags.
May 30 - June 2:
A bee lands on Calvin's back, forcing him to stand still. Hobbes takes advantage of Calvin by reading his comics. Calvin later wonders if the bee is still there, and Hobbes says it isn't. But the bee is still there (Hobbes says it's opposite day), and when he moves, the bee stings him.
The family goes camping yet again. This time it doesn't rain, but Calvin drops luggage into the lake and his father breaks his glasses. For the rest of the trip, Calvin's father is grouchy and irritable (not to mention vision impaired). They stay for two weeks before returning home.
Calvin floats away on a balloon. He ascends higher and higher, dodging hazards in his way until the balloon pops. As he falls, Calvin finds his Transmogrifier Gun. He uses it and gets home in time for dinner.
Calvin's family goes to the zoo. Calvin follows someone he mistakes for his mother, and leaves Hobbes behind on a bench. Upon seeing the empty bench, his father correctly surmises that he went to the tiger pit, and they find him.
Calvin decides to fix the dripping bathroom faucet. Foreseeably, he worsens things, and water sprays everywhere. Eventually his father heads up to the bathroom and finds out what is happening; Calvin unsuccessfully tries to place the blame on Hobbes.
Calvin is sour due to school being back in session.
September 12 - October 1:
The "cover story" of Weirdos From Another Planet!. Calvin and Hobbes head to Mars, leaving the polluted Earth behind. However, the scarcity of the red planet gets to them, and they find an alien that scares them. Deciding not to pollute Mars like Earth, they head back home before the day is out.
Calvin laments having to go to school for 11 1/2 more years.
Note: Not Stupendous Man's first appearance; he was first seen on October 30, 1987.
Calvin is in a bad mood, but no one respects it.
Calvin protests regarding school, and makes so much trouble the authorities seemingly had to intervene.
Note: May be the Noodle Incident.
February - March - April - May - June
The "cover story" of The Revenge of the Baby-Sat. Rosalyn babysits but she has to study for a science test. Calvin steals her notes, locks himself in the bathroom and threatens to flush them down the toilet unless she meets his demands. It keeps her at bay for some time, but she tricks Calvin out of the bathroom and sends him to bed.
February 27 - March 18:
Calvin collects coupons from his cereal boxes and sends away for a beanie hat that he believes will make him fly. When he gets it, it turns out that it has to be assembled. Calvin manages to build it (though he broke the motor, and had his father fix it for him), but is disappointed when he finds out the beanie doesn't make him fly. He then decides to just play with the box it came in.
March 20 - April 7:
At the bus stop, Calvin realizes that he forgot to do his bug collection assignment. He tries to wrap up the project right before school, but fails. During class he gets Susie in trouble for talking in class and writing notes, so she is sent to Principal Spittle's office. She squeals on Calvin and he gets in trouble. His last-minute collection gets a so-called D--.
April 24 - May 13:
Calvin and his family go on a trip to a wedding and forget Hobbes. When they return, they find their house broken into. Calvin frantically searches for Hobbes, who it turns out he left in his room. Their TV had been stolen, along with some jewelry. The parents are heavily shaken by the robbery, and have trouble sleeping while discussing how it affected them, but initially Calvin is excited by the events. Ultimately, with the TV gone, Calvin gets very disappointed about it, since he's going to miss his favorite TV shows.
May 15 - June 10:
Calvin and Hobbes decide to start a club, which they name G.R.O.S.S. (Get Rid Of Slimy girlS). While they try to move the car out of the garage to make room for a club meeting spot, the car runs down a hill and crashes into a ditch. Terrifed about what his mother would think, Calvin runs off into the woods with Hobbes. His mother tracks them down however, and it turns out the car was not damaged.
Note: This was the longest story arc in the strip's run, lasting for four full weeks instead of two or three.
The family go camping again on "Itchy Island, Home of the Nuclear Mosquitoes" (as Calvin calls it). Calvin's father is the only one who enjoys himself, until his family's lack of enthusiasm finally got to him. This is likely the last time they ever went camping.
The family goes to the Natural History Museum.
August 28 - September 2:
Calvin has a hard time going back to school.
September 25 - October 7:
Calvin's parents go out again and hire Rosalyn. She sends Calvin to bed right away. However, Calvin tricks Rosalyn into going outside, and locks her out. Calvin and Hobbes stay up very late, but get in trouble when his parents come home.
Calvin's father addresses his son about homework.
October 27 - November 4:
November 13 - December 2:
Calvin's personal gravity reverses. He creates a ruckus that draws his mother, and when she sets him down his normal gravity resumes. However, as soon as his mother is out of sight, Calvin gets much larger, so large that he almost outgrows the galaxy. However, an unexplained phenomenon sends him back to his room, normal-sized and unscathed. He then gets chastised by his mother for failing to do his homework.
Calvin starts a household paper.
January - February
January 8 - February 1:
"Cover story" of Scientific Progress Goes "Boink". Calvin creates the Duplicator and makes a clone of himself. However, the duplicate makes more clones and Calvin has to hide them. Unable to keep a lid on the duplicates' existence, he finally gets rid of them by tricking them into the Transmogrifier.
Calvin works on his snow art.
March 26 - April 11:
Calvin's parents go out again and hire Rosalyn to babysit. Calvin is naturally horrified (and after having just been pounced on by Hobbes, and having to take a bath because of it.) Calvin becomes Stupendous Man and attempts to attack Rosalyn, then tries fooling her by sneaking back into his room and taking off his costume. Rosalyn does not fall for it, and makes Calvin write a full confession to his parents for what he did.
April 16 - May 5:
Calvin is bullied by Moe into signing up for the school baseball team. His father trains him, but he gets injured. On his first day he accidentally makes an out against his own team; his teammates threaten him and he quits. This story arc ends with the debut of Calvinball.
Calvin gets the chicken pox.
Calvin wants to watch a TV show at dinnertime but his father won't let him, and he is told to go outside. Although he has fun, he fakes otherwise just to try and prove his father wrong.
June 25 - July 7:
Calvin goes back in time on a photo safari, where he comes across dinosaurs.
Calvin's Killer Bicycle torments him.
August - September
August 20 - September 8:
Calvin and Hobbes, in their G.R.O.S.S club, kidnap Susie's doll and hold it for a ransom of 100 dollars. However, Susie retaliates by kidnapping Hobbes. Calvin becomes furious as Susie refuses to give Hobbes back. Calvin then decides to gives Susie her doll back (along with 25 cents) to get Hobbes. However, Hobbes acts like a moron to Calvin, so they get into a fight, with Calvin saying that they are through with the club until Hobbes claimed that he read Susie's diary.
Calvin's parents decide their son must work on his homework more after a parent-teacher conference. After getting some help from his father, he is confident enough to bet on a math quiz with Susie. Calvin daydreams and ends up doing only the first question (and getting it wrong). The worst part is that Calvin has to pay Susie 25 cents since she got a perfect score, but "cheats" her by giving her three dimes.
Calvin holds up a piece of cardboard to his face and pretends that he's on TV.
Calvin wears a false face on the back of his head to avoid getting pounced on.
October 31 - November 3:
Calvin is outraged by how his teacher objects to his drawings of dinosaurs.
Calvin works on a school project, a diorama of a desert landscape.
December 1990-January 1991
Calvin has to be good for Santa so he hires Hobbes as his lawyer and heads to the north pole. However, on the way he has to resist snowballing Susie. He manages to suppress the urge, but lies to his mother about what happened, invalidating his efforts to be good.
December 31 1990 - January 19, 1991:
The "Cover Story" for Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons. Calvin performs a ritual to bring a snowman to life, and the snowman turns out to be evil. Calvin and Hobbes try to snowball him, but it fails. The snowman packs more snow onto him, turning himself into a "Snow Goon." The goon starts making more goons, and they surround the house. Calvin sneaks out at night and freezes the snowmen over using the garden hose. However, his parents are woken up (Calvin makes so much noise while he works) and he gets in trouble the next morning. Ultimately, Calvin decides that "snow goons are bad news."
Note: Only trans-annual story arc.
Calvin insists that his spirit is unavailable even if his body is there.
Calvin dresses up as Stupendous Man and drops a giant snowball on Susie, which results in him getting his costume taken away again.
February 25 - March 2:
Calvin becomes Tracer Bullet to solve the mystery of the broken lamp in the living room, which it turns out was Hobbes' fault. This is the last appearance of Tracer Bullet in the comic.
March 18 - April 3:
Calvin modulates his Duplicator to make a clone of his 'good side' that will go to school and do his chores, but his good side falls in love with Susie. Calvin holds him back and they finally confront each other; however the clone vanishes due to the Moral Compromise Spectral Release Phantasmatron.
Calvin demands to be addressed as 'Calvin the Bold', but his entourage will have none of it.
April 22 - May 1:
Calvin and Hobbes have a G.R.O.S.S. meeting, but Hobbes interrupts saying they didn't sing the G.R.O.S.S. anthem. The anthem is sung at the end of meetings, but Hobbes starts singing it anyway. The two members of G.R.O.S.S. fight over this until Susie comes along, and they unite to throw their stash of mushy apples at her. Susie narcs to their mother who scolds the two, but Calvin and Hobbes are undettered.
Note: Last arc before first sabbatical.
Calvin puts off his homework.
Calvin makes "avant-garde" snowmen.
Calvin plays with mud.
Calvin wants to be called "Calvin, Boy of Destiny."
Calvin has to summarize Lewis and Clark's expedition.
Calvin's dad fixes his bike and rides it.
Calvin gets into astrology. However, the predictions do not come true, frustrating him. One of them, "Opposite sex (gender) finds you irresistible" scares Calvin, who then does everything possible to stay on Susie's bad side. It works, and Calvin gets over astrology.
Calvin subscribes to a magazine for gum chewers called Chewing, and Hobbes points out its blatant commercialism.
May 20-June 6:
Calvin has to write and illustrate a story for the next day. Although he doesn't get any inspiration, he does get an idea: to go forward in time to get the story from the future. Hobbes, sick of time travel, reluctantly tags along. Calvin and Hobbes go forward to 8:30 PM to meet their 8:30 selves. Unfortunately, 8:30 Calvin doesn't have the story because 6:30 Calvin didn't write it. They then realize that if the 7:30 Calvin wrote the story then the 8:30 Calvin would have it. So the 6:30 and 8:30 Calvin leave behind their respective Hobbes and go to 7:30 PM, where the three Calvins get into an argument. Meanwhile, the 6:30 and 8:30 Hobbes write a story about the time travelers squabbling amongst each other. The 6:30 and 8:30 Calvins go back to 8:30 where the two Hobbeses give their story to the two Calvins, who accept it. The 6:30 Calvin and Hobbes go back to their time and turn in. At school, Calvin realizes that the story is unfavorable to him, but the teacher gives it an A+, reconciling Calvin and Hobbes.
Calvin sets up a "Great Ideas $1" booth (at the end they only cost a quarter) on the sidewalk. See Sale stand.
Calvin gets some modeling clay. He and Hobbes each make their own sculptures: Hobbes' is a prone tiger that Calvin insists is worthless, while the latter's consists of a hundred shrunken heads modeled after popular cartoon characters.
Calvin sees a cloud that looks like him.
Calvin discusses his superhero comic books.
Calvin deals with the monsters under his bed. He tries ignoring them, staying awake while the lights are on, and feeding the monsters trash to keep them quiet.
Calvin starts a journal of his thoughts.
Calvin exploits the manipulativity of photography to create a record of a fake childhood.
Calvin complains about school.
Calvin employs denial to shirk his responsibilities.
Calvin's recess routine is exhibited.
Calvin and Hobbes play football.
Calvin plays football again.
Calvin gets a letter with no return adress. Calvin and Hobbes at first think it's from a girl, but it turns out to be a letter from a spy. Calvin gets excited about the next letter, but it turns out to be an insult. Calvin gets more hate mail later on. His mother inadvertently informs him that the insults are coming from their house when mentioning her cut-up magazines. Calvin deduces that Hobbes was the secret insulter all along, and chases him around, furious. Calvin forgives Hobbes, though, when he suggests he send similar hate mail to Susie.
Calvin writes to Santa Claus.
Once again Calvin tries to be good to impress Santa Claus and get more presents.
Calvin is displeased by having to go to school in the cold weather.
February 22-March 6:
Calvin has a history test at school. During a bathroom break, he heads to his locker. From a bag he brought, he draws his Stupendous Man costume and changes into it. Miss Wormwood looks by Calvin's locker when his bathroom break drags on. A now super-powered Calvin emerges from the locker, races to the classroom, finishes his test with random answers (only to eventually flunk) and escapes. Miss Wormwood heads back to the classroom and soon enough, Calvin enters class and denies changing into the costume. Miss Wormwood, unconvinced, sends him to Principal Spittle's office. Calvin's mother is also called, and she takes away Calvin's costume.
Note: Stupendous Man's final appearance in a story arc, but not in the strip altogether; his absolute final appearance is August 31, 1995.
April 26-May 8:
Calvin enters a traffic safety poster contest for school. First, he asks for a slogan from his parents and Hobbes, but Calvin casts them aside in favor of his own slogan: "Be careful or be roadkill!" Hobbes then starts drawing and coloring the poster. They quarrel over how the proceeds from winning the contest should be shared, and agree on 50-50. The poster completed, Calvin is adamant about his chances of winning. However, Susie wins, leading Calvin to think the contest was rigged.
Calvin sets out to eat 5 worms and earn a nickel from Susie, but his mom comes across him and puts an end to it.
Calvin talks about how people ignore the "big picture".
Calvin's mother considers geting an answering machine after Calvin dismisses another caller and breaks the phone.
Calvin pretends to be the World's Most Powerful Computer to his mother and Hobbes. The computer is a cardboard box with drawn-on facial features and interfaces.
Calvin initiates a G.R.O.S.S. operation to trick Susie into a water-balloon ambush. However, their target picks up on their plan and, anticipating their move, sprays them with their own hose.
August 30-September 2:
Calvin's Killer Bicycle acts up.
Calvin talks about how commercials correlate products with attitude.
Calvin becomes dissatisfied with "mere" happiness and seeks outright euphoria.
Calvin tries to get his enemies (specifically: Moe, his dad, Miss Wormwood and Susie), and his friends (Hobbes) to sign forms, documents and contracts officializing their relationship with Calvin. Out of the five, however, only Susie signs the contract she was given.
October 30-November 1:
Calvin and his father discuss a manual that tells one everything once he becomes a father.
Note: Only story arc that is interrupted by a Sunday, yet only contains two strips.
November 15-December 4:
Calvin has to prepare an oral report for school, and his topic is whether or not Tyrannosaurus rex scavenged or hunted. To write the report, he invents the Cerebral Enhance-O-Tron. As a result his forehead became swollen, and he hides this from his parents. The machine's effects wear out, though, and Calvin is unable to do the report properly. Even so, he earns a passable "D" for the difficulty of his topic and the effort invested.
Calvin writes to Santa.
Calvin has to resist snowballing Susie when it snows.
Calvin hoards snowballs.
Calvin takes a history/geography test about Plymouth Rock.
Calvin starts repeating everything Hobbes says to annoy him, but he is tricked out of it.
Calvin has a nightmare in which his homework assignment bursts into flames, Miss Wormwood becomes an alien and Calvin dies. Calvin wakes up and realizes he forgot to do his math homework and gets up to do it at 2 AM, much to a sleepy Hobbes's displeasure. Seeing all the snowfall, he suspects the school will close. The next day is a snow day, but Calvin and Hobbes go play outside instead of catching up. Calvin regrets goofing off, but the next day is saved by the bell and does not have to turn in his homework. Calvin then states he will put work before pleasure. However, he lawyers his way around by asserting that working on a snowman is work and finishing his math homework is relief and so pleasure.
Note: Last arc before second sabbatical.
Calvin complains about having to go to school on both gray and sunny days.
Calvin loses a tooth.
Hobbes describes scents.
Calvin is attacked by the vicious baseball.
March 20-April 1:
Susie's mother is away, and so she has to stay at Calvin's house. Calvin tries to trick Susie into getting mauled by Hobbes, but the tiger has a soft spot for her that holds him back. Calvin and Hobbes then hold an emergency G.R.O.S.S. meeting in the Box of Secrecy. The plan they think up is to use a tape recorder to lure Susie to the closet and lock her in. The operation is successful, but Calvin's mother finds out. This was the last story arc to feature G.R.O.S.S.
Calvin writes and sends letters to his future self.
Calvin discusses Chewing magazine alongside Hobbes.
Calvin blows bubbles. The second slowly deflates before popping.
Calvin's vicious baseball acts up.
Calvin and Susie discuss their new substitute teacher, Mr. Kneecapper.
Calvin's dad tries to teach Calvin how to ride his bike, which he is terrified of.
Calvin's mom gets Calvin a library book, and he gives it to Hobbes. Calvin sees him enjoying himself then reads the book himself. Despite enjoying it, he asks his mom not to get him any more, as the themes in the book were "complicating [his] life".
Calvin discusses art, calling himself a "suburban post-modernist".
Calvin discusses popular culture.
Calvin tries to hide water balloons first from Susie, then from Hobbes.
Calvin's parents go out for dinner. They hire Rosylan to baby-sit for the last time. Calvin is initially terrified by this, naturally.
Calvin and Hobbes wind up playing Calvinball with Rosalyn, and have lots of fun doing so. This marks the only time Calvin actually behaved while Rosalyn was watching him.
Calvin's dad goes grocery shopping and makes trouble for the patrons.
Calvin has to assemble a collection of 50 different tree leaves in 2 weeks for school. Calvin unwisely puts it off until the last minute and exhausts any easy ways out. While Calvin and Hobbes are hurriedly collecting leaves in the yard on the last day of the assignment, a UFO appears, driven by Galaxoid and Nebular. Calvin claims to be the leader of Earth and trades his planet for 50 properly labeled and identified alien leaves brought by 8 PM. The aliens arrive late and Calvin gets caught by his dad at night. At school the next day, his leaf collection gets a bad grade because everybody thought Calvin had faked the specimens at the last minute.
Calvin writes to Santa and tries to be good.
Calvin boasts about his snowball hoard.
(Last story arc of the series, continued from the story arc from the last 2 months) Galaxoid and Nebular return to Calvin's house and protest because they weren't informed of Earth's cyclical climate. Hobbes suggests refunding the aliens, but Calvin had gotten rid of his leaf collection. Hobbes then thinks about using the Christmas stockings to keep the aliens warm. Calvin complains of the loss of the stockings, but Hobbes reminds Calvin that Santa Claus will view it as an act of kindness, which gets Calvin's spirits back up.
- The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin needs to study for a test, and so turns himself into an elephant (they are supposed to have an excellent memory).
- The Calvin and Hobbes Lazy Sunday Book: Spaceman Spiff crash-lands on another planet while trying to evade hostile aliens in Spaceman Spiff: Interplanetary Explorer Extraordinaire!