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Captain Underpants Summary
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics. This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey.
Dav Pilkey’s children’s book The Adventures of Captain Underpants (1997), targeted to young boys, it proved very popular, spawning a long list of sequels and adaptations in other media.
The story begins with the introduction of two best friends, George and Harold. They love to pull pranks and play tricks on others. They also write their own comic book about a crime-fighting superhero named Captain Underpants. They chose the name because superheroes always look like they are wearing underwear. They sell photocopies of each issue for fifty cents at school.
At an important school football game, they plan a series of pranks that result in the school being forced to forfeit the game: they put pepper in the cheerleaders’ pom-poms, making everyone sneeze; helium in the football, causing it to float away; bubble solution in the marching band’s instruments; and itching powder in the muscle rub. The next day, Harold and George are called into Principal Krupp’s office, where Krupp reveals he has a videotape of them pulling the pranks. He tells the boys that from now on they must do exactly as he tells them or he will show the tape to the football team, who are very angry.
Harold and George are forced by Krupp to wake up at 6 a.m. every day to do chores for Mr. Krupp. They also must never smile during class, and they get extra homework. Desperate to escape these grueling punishments, one day, George thinks he sees a solution when he orders a “3-D Hypno Ring” from a catalog. The ring takes weeks to arrive, during which time they continue doing chores and extra homework. When the ring finally arrives, they use it to hypnotize Mr. Krupp, replacing the video with one of Harold’s little sister’s videotapes.
With Mr. Krupp hypnotized, the boys fall back into their pranking ways, having the principal act like a chicken, then a monkey. Then, they get creative, ordering him to behave like Captain Underpants. The principal takes off his pants and ties a curtain around his neck, making the boys break into laughter, but before they can stop him, he jumps out the window to fight crime.
The boys chase him on their skateboards to a bank robbery, where he confronts two mystified robbers. The police arrive and start to arrest Krupp along with the criminals, but the boys get him away. As they are trying to get Krupp back to school to change him back into the principal, they come across two robots stealing a mysterious crystal. Captain Underpants’s cape gets caught in the van’s door as it speeds away, dragging him behind it. The boys grab on and are taken with him to an abandoned warehouse, where they discover that the evil Dr. Diaper is planning to use the crystal to destroy the moon, destroying all the cities on Earth, allowing him to become Earth’s ruler.
The boys hide, but Captain Underpants is tied up. The boys hatch a plan; they use fake doggie poop they find in the warehouse and a slingshot to make Dr. Diaper think he needs to be changed. While he is distracted, George and Harold destroy the robots and untie Captain Underpants. They examine the machine Dr. Diaper has built to destroy the moon and pull a level, thinking it is an off switch. It is a “self-destruct” switch.
Dr. Diaper returns, producing a ray gun. Angry, he intends to use it on the boys, but Captain Underpants begins shooting underwear at his face. They capture Dr. Diaper and escape the warehouse as it is destroyed. Leaving Dr. Diaper tied up outside the police station, they return to the school, deciding it is time to bring back Principal Krupp—but they have lost the Hypno Ring’s instruction manual and have no idea how to do it. George finds a vase of water and dumps it on Principal Krupp’s head, breaking the spell.
Angry, Principal Krupp decides to give the videotape to the football team, not knowing that the boys switched it. George then finds the instruction manual for the ring, where he reads that the one thing you should never do is pour water over a hypnotized person’s head because it will cause him to go in and out of a trance at the sound of snapping fingers. He throws the manual away.
The football team watches the video, the Boomer the Purple Dragon sing-along tape, and they love it. They rename the team the “Purple Dragon Sing-a-Long Friends.”
George and Harold go back to their normal lives, making comics and playing pranks, but one day, they see someone snap their fingers in front of Principal Krupp, and he instantly becomes Captain Underpants. The boys watch him running across the football field in his underwear, the curtain tied around his neck again, to go fight crime.