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Dilbert

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Dilbert is a satirical comic strip about a micro-managed office environment featuring the eponymous software engineer. The strip, created by Scott Adams, has run in newspapers since April 16, 1989, spawning several books, an animated television series, and numerous tie-in products ranging from stuffed dolls to ice cream.

Dilbert's success can be traced to its all-too-accurate portrayal of corporate culture as a Kafkaesqueesque world of bureaucracy for its own sake: the boss has power, but no skill; the workers have skills, but no power — and as they learn that their skills are not rewarded, they become mere placeholders who see innovation as dangerous and count anonymity as success.

The humor emerges as we see the characters making obviously ridiculous decisions, and we realize that the artificial roles assigned to each member of the corporate culture often require us to do exactly the same thing.

Terms invented by Adams in relation to the strip, and sometimes used by fans in describing their own office environments, include "Induhvidual." This term is based on an American English expression "duh!". The conscious misspelling of individual as induhvidual is a pejorative term for people who are not in the DNRC (Dogbert's New Ruling Class). Its coining is explained in Dilbert Newsletter #6.

The strip has also popularized the usage "cow-orker".

In 2001 Adams collaborated with IDEO, a design company, to come up with the "perfect cubicle". This was fitting since many of the Dilbert strips make fun of the standard Cubicle desk and the environment it creates. The result was both whimsical and practical.

Table of contents
1 Characters
2 Dilbert in popular culture
3 List of Dilbert books
4 Dilbert animated series episode guide
5 See also
6 External links

Characters

Dilbert

Dilbert is the main character in the comic strip. He graduated from MIT and works in engineering. Although his ideas are typically sensible and revolutionary, they are seldom carried out because of his powerlessness. Dilbert often has no visible mouth or eyes, and his tie usually points upward. Scott Adams offers no explanation for this, other than "it looks right". In more recent strips, though, the mouth has been drawn on occasion when Dilbert is eating, surprised, or nervous. Many of the other -berts look very much like he does, with glasses and no mouth (with the exception of Ratbert).

Dogbert

Although he is Dilbert's dog, Dogbert rarely acts like a pet. One of his dreams is to conquer the world and enslave all humans, and he has achieved this status several times through methods like hypnosis. However, he often quickly relinquishes his post due to boredom or his position that people do not deserve to have him as leader.

Dogbert has made many ventures into the business world, often as a consultant who hypes new trends to the Pointy-Haired Boss. In these positions, he typically takes advantage of stupidity and gullibility.

Ratbert

Ratbert was not originally intended to be a regular, instead being part of a series of strips featuring a lab scientist's cruel experiments. Ratbert soon realized that he was the subject of a hideous macaroni-and-cheese experiment (the scientist made him eat huge amounts of it; he writes in his notebook that it causes paranoia in rats) and escaped, eventually finding a refuge in Dilbert's house. He was not initially accepted by the residents, especially Dilbert, who was highly prejudiced against rats. However, he finally allowed Ratbert to become a permanent member of the household.

As a simple rat, Ratbert is very gullible and innocent. Sometimes, his actions can become quite annoying. Like Dogbert, he has made inroads into business, once working as an intern and applying for a position in marketing.

Pointy-Haired Boss (PHB)

see PHB

Catbert

As with Ratbert, Catbert was not a planned regular. In this case, he was introduced for a series involving an attack on Ratbert, who was acting as an optimist. When the two got home, Catbert rebooted Dilbert's computer. Dogbert eventually forced him to leave.

Readers of Dilbert enjoyed the character so much that they spontaneously named him "Catbert," encouraging Adams to bring him back. He was reintroduced as the human resources manager, who comes up with sadistic and illogical policies to annoy the employees. He often works in tandem with the PHB.

Wally

Inspired by a co-worker of Adams' at Pacific Bell, Wally is a lazy employee always trying to work the system, although he is very capable at his occupation. His idea of "work" is simply carrying around a coffee cup due to his obsession with the beverage, which he drinks hundreds of cups of a day. He also has a notable lack of hygiene.

Alice

Alice is a constantly on-edge coworker of Dilbert's who is well known for her "fist of death." She highly resents gender discrimination in the workplace. Performance reviews often make Alice nervous and irritable, and she has been known to throw the boss great distances out of the office during the review cycle.

Asok

see Asok

Phil, the Prince of Insufficient Light

Phil serves as ruler of heck and punishes people for minor infractions not worthy of damnation, such as using copier paper for the printer or stealing a chair from another cubicle, both of which Dilbert has done. He also serves as manager of limbo, which in the strip is a subsidiary of heck, and is the PHB's brother.

Originally, Scott Adams planned to have Satan become a regular member of the Dilbert cast, but eventually softened the character after suggestions by his editor. Instead of a pitchfork, he carries a spoon, and has a tail with a rounded end (although Adams has "forgotten" about this once or twice). Instead of damning people to eternal flames he darns them, as in "I darn you to heck". On occasion, he also wears a cape.

Elbonians

The Elbonians are the residents of a fictional fourth-world country that appears in the comic strip, named Elbonia. Most of the nation is covered with waist-deep mud, although the coloration occasionally leads people to believe that it is snow. Adams created the country in order to allow for a "foreign" aspect in Dilbert without using any specific location, in order to avoid a backlash by readers who may be from that region.

Many of the Elbonians have beards (even the females), tall hats, and left-handedness. Their technology is very outdated, which includes phones that are actually cans attached to the ends of strings. Elbonians are commonly portrayed as idiotic and backward.

A spinoff comic strip called Plop follows the life of an Elbonian with no hair, which is a rare trait.

Other characters

Dilbert in popular culture

The popularity of the comic strip within the corporate sector has led to the character of Dilbert being used in many business magazines and publications (he has made several appearances on the cover of
Fortune).

It is the basis of a popular (though unproven) theory suggesting that the morale at a given workplace is the inverse of the number of Dilbert comic strips taped and posted at various desks and cubicles. A larger number of Dilbert comic strips reflects general frustration with the bureaucratic administration at the company; whereas a generally satisfied workforce sees less identification with the character of Dilbert, and consequently fewer Dilbert comic strips are displayed as mementoes.

The adoption of Dilbert as an icon for corporate America has led to Scott Adams being criticized in some circles for allowing his creation to be adopted and embraced by the very same corporate world he was rebelling against when he created the strip.

List of Dilbert books

Compilations of newspaper strips

Special compilations

Business books

Dilbert animated series episode guide

Production numbers are in bold.

Season 1 Season 2
  1. The Name - 101
  2. The Competition - 103
  3. The Prototype - 102
  4. The Takeover - 106
  5. Testing - 104
  6. Elbonian Trip - 105
  7. Tower of Babel - 108
  8. Little People - 107
  9. The Knack - 110
  10. Y2K - 109
  11. Charity - 111
  12. Holiday - 112
  13. The Infomercial - 113
  1. The Gift - 201
  2. The Shroud of Wally - 202
  3. Art - 203
  4. The Trial - 204
  5. The Dupey - 205
  6. The Security Guard - 206
  7. The Merger - 207
  8. Hunger - 208
  9. The Off-Site Meeting - 209
  10. The Assistant - 210
  11. The Return - 211
  12. The Virtual Employee - 212
  13. Pregnancy - part 1 - 213
  14. The Delivery - part 2 of Pregnancy - 214
  15. Company Picnic - 215
  16. The Fact - 216
  17. Ethics - 217

See also

External links