Hobbes: Real when nobody is around or just imagined to real by Calvin?

In the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, what do you think is the case?
And yes, I realize that it’s (even admitted by the cartoonist–Bill Watterson, himself) to be a “deliberately left open-ended so that each reader can make his/her own conclusion” type of situation.

Be that as it may, what IS YOUR own, personal conclusion?
I think I have to fall more on the side of “He’s just a stuffed, toy tiger and Calvin only imagines him being real”, much like he imagines many other things over the course of the comic strip…
…although I’ve read some debates where Calvin apparently does SOME things (in some strips) that actually require two people to do (such as one where he’s found in a chair with his hands tied behind his back in knots or one where he couldn’t have built a snowman so close to the door that his mom finds (in the attack of the snow goons story arc) due to the positioning of it.
Not to mention one kid (in the same story arc) making hundreds of snowmen in only a few hours…but I digress over this one since it has to do with snowmen and not Hobbes).

I’m sure all of the stuff could still be done by one person in easy explanations, but–for me–none are needed anyway, as I already said I believe Hobbes to be a figment of Calvin’s imagination.

Do you think it’s the same? What personal conclusion did you reach?

Calvin imagines him to be real, just like he does Spaceman Spiff, the transmorgrafier etc.

Hobbes, as much as I wish it weren’t true, isn’t really real, IMHO.

I agree. He’s an imaginative little boy living a life of fantasy, not in a world of actual magic where stuffed tigers become real.

Hobbes was real. His mom even tried calling for him when he got lost that one time. Something real must have been bowling Calvin over all those days he got home from school.

***Life is a little better if Hobbes was real. ***

For me it’s the other way around. Life is a little better if Hobbes is NOT real and Calvin just has such a vivid imagination. I get to participate a little bit in that magical part of childhood when imagination/reality are all mashed together. Bittersweet that it will end.

Hobbes is a real tiger in the jungle, who daydreams of living with a human named Calvin.

From Calvin’s point of view (and so mine since he’s our perspective), it doesn’t matter really, either way.

The final paragraphs of an answer written after a letter was sent to the editor of the New York Sun in 1897;

*You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Calvin, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Hobbes! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Calvin, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.*

I believe it’s deliberately left up to the reader to decide. There are times when he seems like he’s real, and others when it seems like he’s just Calvin’s imagination.

It strikes me that Hobbes has a deep inner patience and wisdom that Calvin never exhibits. If those are, in fact, traits that Calvin has, then that bodes good for him when he finally grows up and accesses them.

(This is also sometimes hinted at when he shows resignation in the face of getting beaten up by Moe. Instead of writhing in helpless fury, he makes a quip. There are depths to that lad!)

Yep, I mentioned this in the OP…and as a way to get out of giving that sort of answer, I tried to change it to be: Okay, Guinastasia, if it’s left up to the reader to decide, what have you, personally, decided? Real or imaginary?

I can think of a third option – Hobbes is a stuffed toy when nobody is around, or when someone other than Calvin is around, but magically comes to life when Calvin is playing with him.

Calvin is actually a member of a powerful alien race of reality-warpers. His irresponsible behavior forced his people to impose a period of reeducation upon him. His powers and memories have been suppressed, but break out for brief periods, particularly when he is feeling rebellious.

Hobbes is his therapist.

To me, it’s a cartoon, and follows cartoon existence laws, so Hobbes is cartoon real.

Hobbes is real, I am real…what are you? :dubious:



If Hobbes isn’t real, then who the hell did I read in Moral Philosophy 101?

Both Calvin and the adults are right. Hobbes is real to one of them but not to the others. Whether he’s “real” in an objective way free from the perspective of any one individual is beside the point of the strip, I think.

Aren’t there panels where Hobbes is left by himself and he says stuff? Like sometimes Calvin goes down the hill on the sled and Hobbes remains up top, and as Calvin is long gon, screaming going down the hill, Hobbes is left remarking about something or other? That would prove it to me, Hobbes is real- Calvin is not taking the time to imagine some witty remark that Hobbes is saying while he is screaming going over a cliff.

Hobbes is real and Calvin straddles a parallel universe. Of course from the perspective of Calvin’s parents (and Susie and all of Calvin’s classmates), Hobbes is just a stuffed toy.

Most of his hair loved off? No.
Eye(s) missing? No.
Loose in the joints? Maybe.
Very shabby? No.

Therefore, only one quarter real at most! :wink: