Dilbert (character)

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Dilbert character
Dilbert (character).png
First appearanceApril 16, 1989 in Dilbert
Created byScott Adams
Voiced byKelly Connell (Dilbert's Desktop Games)
Daniel Stern (TV series)
FamilyDilmom (mother), Dadbert (father)

Dilbert is a fictional character and the main character and protagonist of the comic strip of the same name. The character has ideas which are typically sensible and occasionally even revolutionary, but they are rarely pursued because he is powerless. He is frustrated by the incompetence and malevolence of his co-workers (most often the Pointy-Haired Boss) and often is sarcastic and snide.

Dilbert's unusual name was suggested to Scott Adams by a co-worker; Adams later found that the name likely came from a cartoon character, Dilbert Groundloop, an inept aviator used by the United States Navy during World War II.[1][2] In an interview with The New York Times Adams said that he based Dilbert's character on someone he knew, saying: "I worked around engineers for most of my 16 years of corporate life. Dilbert is actually designed after one person in particular. Interestingly, that person is not aware that he is the model for Dilbert. I didn’t know him well and never mentioned it to him."[3]

Relationship with other characters[edit]

Dilbert lives with his pets, Dogbert and Ratbert, and the three dinosaurs Bob, Rex, and Dawn, in an unnamed American suburb, probably in Iowa [4] (though in the animated TV series, during Dilbert's pregnancy saga, aliens on the highway following Dilbert along with a host of others crash into a sign that says "Townbert", and in episode 3, Lena's car has a license plate with Minnesota on it), although only Dogbert is regularly seen (as well as Ratbert to a lesser degree). Dilbert often interacts with his co-workers, most commonly including Alice, Wally and Asok (and in the TV series, Loud Howard). He is single and has few friends as a result of his poor social skills, although he has been on many dates and was in a relationship with a woman named Liz for two years between 1994 and 1996, and appears to be on decent-enough terms with most of the aforementioned co-workers. Dilbert also had a girlfriend named Amber for a short stretch in 2001, after Amber stated that she wanted to date a "homely" smart man. However, they broke up quickly after she presented Dilbert with unrealistic required changes to his appearance and evaded his attempt to make out by turning off the lights and allowing Dilbert to kiss Bob instead. While he is frequently seen having dates with eligible women, the dates almost invariably end in disaster, usually in surreal and bizarre ways. Dilbert has only two notable friends, Dogbert and Wally, though Wally once told him "don't flatter yourself" when Dilbert referred to him as a friend and Dogbert has alluded to staying around Dilbert out of amusement concerning Dilbert's suffering (and because the coffee is good). Dogbert will play jokes on and even be cruel to Dilbert, but like all faithful dogs, he will not tolerate anyone else doing this to him. Dilbert treats the Pointy-Haired Boss like the plague and has very little loyalty towards him or the company for obvious reasons. Dilbert can often predict exactly how and when the boss will doom the current assignment. Dilbert loves computers and technology, and will spend much of his free time playing with such things. Most of his relationships with his co-workers and family are affected by his extreme sincerity, his endless but justifiable complaining, and his humorless dry wit. Although he is an excellent worker, and does not stop trying, he acknowledges that this will get him nowhere.


Dilbert's mother appears once in a while in the comic and the animated series. While apparently a great Scrabble player, she has been accused of cheating in many strips (and in the animated series) with "counterfeit vowels". In the series, she dances on the tabletop when she wins a game. She often misinterprets what Dilbert's job is, sometimes thinking he works at a railroad or that he is in the typewriter repair business and often degrading his achievements. She occasionally reveals herself to have surprisingly detailed knowledge about computer technology[5], further belittling Dilbert. Several fans have dubbed her "Dilmom", but she is only referenced as this in the TV series episode "Hunger". Dilbert's father never appears in the strip, as he has spent his life since Christmas 1992[6] (1979 in the TV series) at a 24-hour "All-You-Can-Eat" restaurant in the mall (he will not leave until it is all he can eat.) He can be seen in the episode "The Gift" in the animated series; although his face is never shown, he appears to be overweight, with a gray fishing hat and a sweatshirt, also gray. In that same episode, the restaurant is revealed to be a seafood diner named "The Red Oyster" (a play on Red Lobster).

In the animated series, Dilbert became pregnant via a disastrous science experiment and gave birth to a hillbilly-robot-alien-bovine-billionaire-engineer hybrid baby. The baby seems to immediately have clothes that resemble Dilbert's (including his tie). He was then rocketed to Krypton, where Jor-El and Lara await the baby's arrival (Krypton had not exploded, it was merely an incorrect weather forecast), thanks to mail by Dogbert, which Dogbert refers to as a "student exchange program".

Physical appearance[edit]

Dilbert usually has no visible mouth or eyes. In more recent strips the mouth has been drawn on occasions when Dilbert is eating, furious, nervous, or in agony. On October 10, 2013, Dilbert's mouth was drawn for the first time as he was speaking normally.[7] In the television series (where he is voiced by Daniel Stern), his mouth is drawn only when he is speaking. Dogbert looks very much like Dilbert, with glasses and no mouth; his mouth likewise appears when he is speaking in the animated series. In several episodes, he is shown taking off his glasses to go to bed, but his head is out of the frame, and is immediately seen wearing a sleep mask right after.

In nearly every strip, Dilbert's tie is curved upward. While Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, has offered no definitive explanation for this, he has explained the tie at least as a further example of Dilbert's lack of power over his environment. A second explanation given by Adams in the Dilbert FAQ is that "he is just glad to see you". Adams has also hinted that the tie may be displaying an aversion to him (one series of strips had Dogbert attempt to find out: he tries having Ratbert eat one of the ties, theorizes that it has an aversion to him, and eventually gives up after a discussion with the garbageman). Additionally, in Seven Years of Highly Defective People, Adams wrote: "Many readers asked me to allow Dilbert to lose his innocence with Liz, so to speak. But I didn't see any way I could do that in a comic strip and get it past the editors. So I developed a secret sign. I told the people who receive the Dilbert newsletter that if Dilbert ever got lucky with Liz, I would draw his normally upturned necktie flat one day."

The flat-necktie strip was printed on August 9, 1994, in which Dogbert suspected that Dilbert had gotten lucky; ironically, the tie was shown flattened after Liz stated she did not believe in fornication (Dogbert wondered if Dilbert, who was acting oddly serene, had discovered religion; Dilbert said he "thought he was Unitarian").[8] In another strip, Dilbert met Antina, an overly masculine female coworker who caused his tie to flatten and point downward,[9] strengthening the idea of the tie being a phallic symbol (Adams himself has said that he does not know what it means). On January 11, 2011, Dilbert was diagnosed with pon farr which caused an irresistible urge to mate[10]. His tie was straight for the next two strips. Sometimes when Dilbert is surprised, scared, or has been beaten up, his tie goes straight.

In the strip published October 13, 2014,[11] Dilbert announced to Dogbert that his company had a new dress code, "Business Dorky". Dilbert's white shirt and striped tie were replaced with a red polo shirt and a badge on a lanyard. Subsequent strips published Monday through Saturday show all of the company employees wearing this same outfit, with the polo shirts varying in color between blue, green, yellow, red, orange, and purple. The Sunday strips continued to show the characters in their original outfits, until November 9, 2014.[12][13]


In a story arc spanning from September 17, 1990 to October 9, 1990, Dilbert is killed by a wild deer and Mother Nature[14] (although he is seen alive in an unrelated September 23, 1990 strip[15]), but is cloned back to life by the garbage man on October 5, 1990.[16]

Dilbert also momentarily dies twice in the TV series episode "The Shroud of Wally".


  1. ^ Adams, Scott. Seven Years of Highly Defective People.
  2. ^ Adams, Scott (March 2, 2007). "The Dilbert Blog: Most Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved March 10, 2007.
  3. ^ "Scott Adams Answers Your Dilbert Questions, and More". Freakomonics. New York Times. October 31, 2007.
  4. ^ "Dilbert comic strip on 1991-07-03". Dilbert.com. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  5. ^ "Dilbert Comic Strip on 2014-08-05". Dilbert. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 26, 2014. Retrieved May 11, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Dilbert comic strip on 2013-10-10". Dilbert.com. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  8. ^ "Dilbert 1994". dribibu.xs4all.nl. Archived from the original on August 15, 2011. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
  9. ^ "Dilbert comic strip on 1996-01-02". Dilbert.com. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
  10. ^ "Dilbert gets Pon Farr". Dilbert.com. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  11. ^ "Dilbert comic strip on 2014-10-13". Dilbert.com. Retrieved November 3, 2014.
  12. ^ "Dilbert comic strip on 2014-10-26". Dilbert.com. Retrieved November 3, 2014.
  13. ^ "Dilbert comic strip on 2014-11-09". Dilbert.com. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  14. ^ "Dilbert comic strip on 1990-09-21". Dilbert.com. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
  15. ^ "Dilbert comic strip on 1990-09-23". Dilbert.com. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
  16. ^ "Dilbert comic strip on 1990-10-05". Dilbert.com. Retrieved August 20, 2011.

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