15 Funniest Far Side Comics That Make Fun of Real People
14 mins read

15 Funniest Far Side Comics That Make Fun of Real People


  • The Far Side often took aim at real people, including Madonna, Stephen King, Donald Trump, and Albert Einstein.
  • The comics ranged from silly visual gags to political satire, showcasing Larson’s ability to parody and mock various celebrities, historical figures, and icons.
  • Larson even turned the humor on himself, admitting that one comic mocking a fitness buff’s mistake was inspired by his own personal experience.

Gary Larson’s The Far Side is known for its surreal sense of humor and often morbid subject matter. However, over its decades of success, the strip has sometimes deigned to comment on the real world, targeting celebrities, politicians, and historical figures for its unique form of mockery.

Here are the ten funniest comics where The Far Side took aim at real people, including one of the most controversial strips Larson ever published, and one with an incredibly embarrassing inspiration.

15 Sigmund Freud Plays Baseball

Fans Just Witnessed an Incredible “Freudian Slide

Gary Larson comic featuring Sigmund Freud

The humor of this Sigmund Freud-centric strip lies in the clever play on words and the unexpected juxtaposition of Sigmund Freud, the famous psychoanalyst, and the sport of baseball. Freudian psychology often delves into the subconscious mind and hidden motivations behind human behavior, with the “Freudian slip” being a well-known concept referring to an unintentional error that reveals one’s true thoughts or desires. By depicting Freud engaged in a baseball slide with the punny caption “Freudian Slide,” Larson humorously combines Freud’s psychoanalytic theories with a classic baseball maneuver.

14 Elvis Presley Visits Bates Motel

Larson Joins the Wild Elvis Death Conspiracy Theories

Gary Larson Comic featuring Elvis and Bates Motel

In this strip, Larson cleverly incorporates two cultural icons: Elvis Presley and the Bates Motel from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Elvis Presley’s demise has sparked various conspiracy theories and urban legends over the years. By titling the comic “What really happened to Elvis” and portraying the Bates Motel, Larson humorously proposes a surprising explanation for Presley’s death, implying that Elvis met his fate at the hands of the notorious Norman Bates. Hence ironically adding to the wild conspiracy theories already surrounding the American icon’s death.

13 Issac Newton’s Law of Gravity

Cause of Death: Giant Apple to the Head

Gary Larson comic featuring Issac Newton Law of Gravity

Here, Larson gives a playful reinterpretation of the famous story of Isaac Newton and the falling apple, a pivotal moment in the history of science that is accredited with the inspiration and science behind Newton’s famous law of universal gravitation. By exaggerating the size of the apple to comically gigantic proportions, Larson creates an absurd scenario. The exaggerated apple looming over Newton’s head adds a humorous visual element and subverts the viewer’s expectations, turning a well-known scientific anecdote into a whimsical and surreal scene.

12 Jack Kevorkian Steals Death’s Girl

Larson’s Dark Humor Shines in Kevorkian-Inspired Strip

Jack Kevorkian and Death in Gary larson comic-1

In a classic display of Larson’s dark humor, his Kevorkian-inspired comic portrays Death, personified, stumbling upon his girlfriend cheating on him with Dr. Jack Kevorkian, renowned for his advocacy of assisted suicide. Through this absurd scenario, Larson cleverly highlights the irony that Death finds himself in competition with the deaths “caused” by Dr. Kevorkian. By intertwining Death’s personal relationships with the controversial figure of Dr. Kevorkian, Larson prompts reflection on the nature of mortality and the ethics surrounding assisted suicide.

11 The Rare Jackie Onassis

Jackie O Lives on in Far Side

Gary larson Jackie Onasis comic featuring rare creatures

In this comic, Larson employs a character named Dale who encounters the mythical creatures of the Loch Ness monster and Bigfoot standing alongside Jackie Onassis. But Dale is prevented from capturing the extraordinary sight when his camera jams. The comedic effect lies in juxtaposing mundane elements, such as a camera malfunction, with the presence of legendary and fictional beings. By including Jackie Onassis among the mythical creatures, Larson adds an extra layer of absurdity and whimsy to the scene, implying that she, too, has achieved legendary status akin to the Loch Ness monster and Bigfoot in the public imagination.

10 Madonna Sinks the Lifeboat

Madonna’s Blond Ambition Cone Bra Gets the Far Side Treatment

the far side madonna

Designed by Jean Paul Gaultier, Madonna’s iconic cone bra is firmly fixed in pop culture, worn for her 1990 Blond Ambition tour. Here, The Far Side pairs Madonna’s style with its own indelible contribution to pop culture – the now-ubiquitous image of comic-strip characters lost at sea, usually in a rescue boat or surviving on a tiny island with a single palm tree. This strip falls into the category of The Far Side‘s silly visual gags, while Madonna’s inclusion in the comic shows just how big she was in the ’90s – Larson’s work is generally timeless, focusing on icons who fans will still know decades later.

9 Stephen King’s Childhood Ant Farm

The Horror Icon Is a Major Fan of The Far Side

the far side stephen king

This strip imagines a macabre childhood for Stephen King, though Larson is likely projecting here. Larson has blamed his brother for his morbid sense of humor – in The Far Side Gallery 1, Larson reveals how his brother’s teasing convinced him there were monsters everywhere, expanding his imagination. However, whether Larson was on-target or not, Stephen King doesn’t seem to have minded, providing the foreword for The Far Side Gallery 2​ and praising Larson’s work in the strongest terms, saying:

I like Gary Larson a lot, partly because he turns the world as I know it inside out like a sock, partly because he turns the world as I know it into a funhouse mirror, but mostly because he does what artists and humorists are supposed to do: he sees what I could see if I could have his eyes. I don’t have them, but thank God they are on loan.​​​​​​


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8 Donald Trump’s Single Tear Exhibit

The Far Side As Political Satire

the far side donald trump

While The Far Side‘s original run lasted from 1979 to 1996, Larson returned from retirement in 2020, tempted by the new possibilities of digital art. No longer on any kind of schedule, The Far Side‘s newer entries saw Larson experimenting with new techniques, but also – as in this strip – being inspired by current events. Larson depicts a single tear from Donald Trump among other immensely rare oddities, suggesting a habitual lack of remorse in the 45th President of the United States.

7 Edgar Allan Poe Gets Writer’s Block

Larson Has It In for Horror Writers

the far side edgar allen poe

Not content with taking on Stephen King, Larson’s Edgar Allan Poe comic sees the iconic horror writer experiencing writer’s block over the title of his 1843 short story ‘The Tell-Tale Heart,’ and rejecting the spleen, duodenum, bladder and stomach as the story’s fateful organs. One of The Far Side‘s favorite jokes is exploring the false origins of famous sayings (as the next entry also proves), and here the joke is the ridiculousness of using a different organ in a story where a killer is plagued by the beating of his victim’s heart.

Interestingly, like Poe, Larson is also a short story writer. In The Pre-History of The Far Side, Larson reveals that he sometimes thinks up flash fiction stories of only a few sentences, often using them as inspiration for comic strips. While funny, these stories often have their own macabre tone, for example Larson’s ‘Zoology’:

The bear and Carl lived together in the cave for several years until, one day, the true savagery of Nature being unleashed, Carl killed and ate him.

6 The Founding Fathers: Washington, Lincoln, and More!

Take That, Patrick Henry!

While we’ve chosen a breakdancing George Washington as the best of Larson’s Founding Father strips here, there’s also another example of the ‘origin of a famous piece of writing’ gag, which itself seems to be a rework of an earlier strip starring Abraham Lincoln (also included above.) Another great gag sees Patrick Henry’s “give me liberty, or give me death!” quote undermined when it turns out he used the phrase constantly, including to ask for potatoes at dinner.

However, the Washington strip wins out for one simple reason – the violinist defeatedly reflecting “There he goes again,” making it clear that Washington doesn’t just enjoy breakdancing, but engages in it so often that his staff are beginning to get sick of the spectacle.

5 Charles Darwin and Lizard City

A Surprisingly Cute Origin to On the Origin of Species

the far side darwin galapagos

Sometimes The Far Side is dark, sometimes it’s witty, but other times it has a purely silly sense of humor that can catch you off guard. That’s the effect here, as noted naturalist Charles Darwin arrives for his research on the Galapagos and exclaims, “Oo! Wow!.. Lizard City!” like an excited 12-year-old. Larson’s keen interest in the animal kingdom comes in clutch here, as Darwin’s work with iguanas actually resulted in a lizard species being named after him: diplolaemus darwinii, aka Darwin’s iguana – the perfect ending to this sweet strip.

Like Darwin, Larson has had multiple species named after him, including strigiphilus garylarsoni – a species of louse discovered by biologist Dale H. Clayton, who named it after Larson due to “the enormous contribution that my colleagues and I feel you have made to biology through your cartoons.”


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4 Pablo Picasso Gets an “F” in Art

Gary Larson Takes a Shot at the Founder of Cubism

the far side picasso comic

A simple but perfectly formed gag, this strip reveals that Pablo Picasso’s Cubist portraits weren’t an artistic choice, but rather the result of his family’s unique looks. The comic works for several reasons – the presence of a Cubist baby helps push the visual gag past the finish line, while Picasso essentially being reimagined as an American school kid creates the low-stakes ‘in trouble with teacher’ misunderstanding.

3 Albert Einstein Is a Larson Favorite

Einstein Was Made for Far Side Parody

With his iconic hairstyle and genius accomplishments, Einstein was always destined to be targeted by The Far Side, and he appears in multiple comics by Larson. One of the best of Larson’s Einstein strips reveals his basketball career prior to becoming a scientist (though Larson preferred his first draft, with Einstein warning his son off a life of science), but our pick is the hilarious ‘origin’ of the E=mc² equation.

Not only does this joke put Einstein in the hilarious position of having tried every other option before inspiration strikes, but the strip also copies a common cliché where biopic movies simplify the work or inspiration behind a major accomplishment. The look on Einstein’s face – staring off into the distance, just about to realize what he’s missing – is a great example of how much Larson can do with his minimalist, stylized depictions of humans.

2 Jane Goodall’s Monkey Business

The Jane Goodall Institute Called This Strip ‘An Atrocity’

Gary Larson's Far Side, Jane Goodall reference.

In this comic mocking Jane Goodall, her years studying chimpanzees are given another, amorous purpose. While Larson always respected Goodall’s work, the comic wasn’t well-received. The Jane Goodall Institute wrote to Larson’s editors, questioning “the editorial judgment of running such an atrocity in a newspaper,” and Larson later chose not to reprint the comic due to the reaction. That is, until Jane Goodall actually saw it.

After the National Geographic Society brought the comic to Goodall’s personal attention, it turned out she loved it. Larson visited Goodall’s research station in Tanzania and even helped raise funds for her work, and Goodall even wrote the foreword for The Far Side Gallery 5.

1 Gary Larson Is Self Aware

One Far Side Comic Secretly Mocks Larson’s Own Mistake

far side chin-up bar

No-one can call Gary Larson a hypocrite in making fun of the foibles of celebrities, since he’s just as happy to mock himself. In The Pre-History of The Far Side, Larson admits that this comic – in which an over-enthusiastic fitness buff brains himself while trying to use a chin-up bar – “came directly from my own personal experience.” Thankfully, Larson saw the funny side of the real life error, and even included his own broken glasses in the doorway.

While The Far Side‘s bread and butter may be self-serious cows and murderous chickens, it got some great comics out of mocking real people, with many rightly proud to have been welcomed into the weird world of Gary Larson.

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