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File:Dennis the MenaceUS 868.jpg

Dennis and his dog, Ruff.

Dennis the Menace is a long-running newspaper comic created by Hank Ketcham that first appeared in March 1951. It features the adventures of mischievous blond boy Dennis Mitchell, often at the expense of his parents or of his neighbor, Mr. Wilson.

It has inspired a live-action series, an animated Saturday Morning Series, and a live-action film.

Dennis was also the mascot of Dairy Queen from 1971 to 2001. DQ dropped him because they felt children didn't relate to him anymore.

In Britain, the Cartoon and Film based on the Comic Book is simply called Dennis! due to the character mentioned below.

(Not to be confused with the British comic book character also called Dennis the Menace, which is a completely different and unrelated strip which also coincidentally debuted in March of 1951.)

The comic strip provides examples of:

  • The All-American Boy: Despite the name, Dennis is a pretty good example of this trope.
  • Animal Athlete Loophole: There ain't no rule that says a dog can't play football! There is, however, a rule that says plays cannot be made with a player's mouth, so sadly Ruff is disqualified.
  • Black Bead Eyes
  • Brats with Slingshots: Trope Codifier.
  • Broken Glass Penalty: Dennis and his friends frequently do this to the Wilson house.
  • Competition Coupon Madness: In "Dennis vs. Television", Dennis collects cereal box tops without actually buying the cereal, hoping to win a big prize.
  • Cranky Neighbor: Mr. Wilson — to be fair, you'd be cranky too if Dennis was your neighbor.
  • Curious as a Monkey: Dennis
  • Depending on the Artist: The current two artists have very different styles. Marcus Hamilton, the Monday--Saturday artist draws the strip in a very close approximation of Hank Ketcham's style in his later years, while the Sunday artist, Ron Ferdinand has a far looser and sketchier style compared to Ketcham or Hamilton.
  • Drop in Character: Dennis, to the Wilsons. Mrs. Wilson doesn't object to this, but her husband certainly does.
  • Girls Have Cooties
  • Grumpy Old Man: Mr. Wilson again, and for the same reason.
    • However, it's implied that he likes Dennis more than he is willing to let on.
  • Hates Baths: Dennis
  • Hot Mom
  • Informed Ability
  • Panty Shot: Margaret had a couple of these early on.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Dennis has one with Mrs. Wilson. He thinks he has one with Mr. Wilson.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Dennis always wears either his striped shirt and red overalls, except in church scenes where he's seen with a white button-down shirt, a tie, and a blue jacket and slacks.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Gina Gillotti's last name was inspired by Joseph Gillott's, Hank Ketcham's favorite brand of fine-point fountain pen. (Gillott's was later absorbed by British Pens in 1961, then acquired by William Mitchell Ltd. in 1982).
  • Love Triangle: Dennis, Gina and Margaret
  • Menace Decay (the Trope Namer)
  • Nephewism: Inverted — Dennis treats the Wilsons like his grandparents.
  • One Head Taller: In some installments of the comic strip Margaret has been drawn as noticeably taller than Dennis or Joey, even in flats. She's supposed to be 7 years old, two years older than Dennis and Gina and three years older than Joey.
  • Outlived Its Creator
  • Put on a Bus: The early character of Tommy Anderson, an older boy Margaret's age who Dennis looked up to, was discontinued because Ketcham didn't know what to do with him. Joey McDonald and Gina Gillotti replaced him. The ethnic characters of Jackson (a stereotypically-drawn Black boy who angered readers) and Ben (a Jewish boy who was a rare supporting character) were also retired.
  • Regal Ringlets: Margaret has this hairstyle.
  • Retraux: The strip retains a 1950s drawing style, despite always being set in the present day.
  • Shout-Out: The character Gina Gillotti was named after Gina Lollobrigida (the character's Italian ancestry is also a reference to her).
  • Time Out
  • Tomboy: Gina Gillotti (who was IS actually quite a cutie).
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Gina and Margaret.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Without a doubt, pizza ... to the point where (he thinks) he practically can live on it. On the exact opposite of the spectrum: vegetables, especially when they were served as part of a meal that had no pizza in sight. Especially carrots at any time.
  • Uncle Tomfoolery / Ethnic Scrappy: An African-American kid named Jackson.