Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants is the fourth book in the Captain Underpants series written by Dav Pilkey. It is the first book to have Captain Underpants to fully use his superpowers. In 2012, the ninth book, Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Re-Turn of Tippy Tinkletrousers had the main villain, Professor Poopypants (then known as Tippy Tinkletrousers), have his revenge and be the main villain yet again.
This book is dedicated to fellow children's book writer Cynthia Rylant (Buttercup Gizzardsniffer).
Professor Poopypants, a scientist from a country where everyone has a silly name, New Swissland, has just invented a shrinking machine, the Shrinky-Pig 2000 and an enlarging machine, the Goosy-Grow 4000. He goes to America so he can show these inventions to everyone and help the world by using his machines to shrink the world's garbage and increase the world's food supply.
Meanwhile, the kids in Jerome Horwitz Elementary School are going on a field trip to a pizza place. While George and Harold are waiting to get on the bus, they decide to change the school sign, until Mr. Krupp catches them "red-handed" since he has been hiding in the bushes next to the sign. As the boys' punishment, they are banned from the field trip and have to spend the whole afternoon cleaning up the teachers' lounge. The teachers laugh at them. Harold becomes saddened they won't get any fun, however George claims they can still have fun and comes up with an idea involving a ladder, a bag of powdered paste and a box of styrofoam packing pellets.
The two boys start to create a prank as payback against the teachers. First, they tape the water nozzle of the sink, to make it on when the water runs, second they fill powder of paste on the wings of the ceiling fan. Finally, they fill the fridge with millions of foam pellets.
When the students finally come back and go home, the teachers except Mr. Fyde (who is on bus duty) spend their time taunting at George and Harold. Mr. Meaner says that he was going to bring back a pizza, but, he ate it on the bus. When the teachers finish taunting the boys, they go off to the teachers' lounge. When the teachers go into the lounge to relax, they fall into George and Harold's trap. The teachers end up looking like abominable snowmen (they are covered with foam pellets that are stuck to their bodies due to them being wet and covered in powdered paste) and they run, scream, and chase George and Harold down the hall.
Their old science teacher, Morty Fyde quits because he thought he had cracked up. First, he says a toilet ate him. Then he says that later he started hearing dogs and cats in his classroom, then he imagined the school got flooded with sticky green goo, and finally, he saw the other teachers chase George and Harold down the hall as "abominable snowmen". Mr. Krupp says that can all be explained as George and Harold's doing, but Mr. Fyde also insists that he saw some fat bald man in his underwear fly out a window (obviously Captain Underpants) which makes Mr. Krupp realize he has gone crazy since he has no proof that is George and Harold's doing. As Mr. Fyde dances in joy, Mr. Krupp wonders where he is going to find a new science teacher on such short notice.
Meanwhile Professor Poopypants has been trying to demonstrate his new inventions to the world, but nobody takes him seriously due to laughing at his silly name. Eventually he begins running out of money to become a teacher at a school. He then goes to a New York coffee shop and after finding an ad, he decides to become an elementary school science teacher. He is convinced that the innocence and sweetness of children will let them pay attention to him, but they all laugh at his name instead after he declares what it is.
A week later, Professor Poopypants manages to get the children interested in science by building a machine called the Gerbil-Jogger 2000 that allows gerbils to jog alongside their masters. However, this interest is short-lived (thanks to George), as he reveals his middle name to be Pee-Pee, causing the children to start laughing again. Ms. Ribble reads the story of The Pied Piper from Hamelin. This inspires George and Harold to make a comic book about the Professor inventing an army of gerbil joggers to destroy the world, which destroys the last of Professor Poopypants' credibility with the students and drives him crazy (after he found a copy of the comic in the hallway). The gerbils listen to music by Cher.
Using his enlarging machine, he makes the gerbil machine as large as a tall building and then gets inside. He then shrinks the school and holds them hostage. He then unveils his plan to force everyone in the world to change their names so everyone will have a silly name instead of a normal one, and anyone who refuses will be shrunk. Professor Poopypants does this first on Mr. Krupp. As a result, Mr. Krupp becomes Lumpy Pottybiscuits. All the children find this funny, until Professor Poopypants forces them to use the chart to change their names as well. This leaves the students and staff to be quite shocked and almost horrified at their new names.
George and Harold (now Fluffy and Cheeseball) get Captain Underpants (now Buttercup Chickenfanny, but Captain Underpants refuses to change his name) to steal Professor Poopypants' enlarging machine, but unfortunately he gets caught and both him and the machine are shrunk in the process.
Fluffy and Cheeseball try to enlarge the school back to normal size by getting onto the roof, but they get flicked off the school by the Professor. Cheeseball makes a paper airplane that Fluffy enlarges. The plane flies into many threats, yet Captain Underpants rescues them and they end up in an abandoned alley.
Fluffy tries to enlarge Captain Underpants, but he accidentally enlarges Cheeseball's right hand in the process, however Captain Underpants does become visible, George zaps C.U. until he is the size of Professor Poopypants' gerbil machine. Captain Underpants then fights and defeats Professor Poopypants. Once Professor Poopypants is defeated, everyone gets their names back. The boys use the shrinking and enlarging machines to get themselves, the school and Captain Underpants back to normal size. Then Captain Underpants gets dressed back up like Mr. Krupp before being soaked with water, turning him back to his old nasty self again.
Professor Poopypants is then hauled off to jail. George then questions Professor Poopypants wouldn't it have been smarter to try changing his own name instead of forcing the rest of the world to change theirs. The surprised professor notes he never thought of that. As per George's advice, Professor Poopypants changes his name so no one will make fun of it anymore. Sadly, he chooses his grandfather's name (on his mother's side), Tippy Tinkletrousers, which the people at jail make fun of (including the guards).
The moral of the story ("I think this is the first time one of our stories had a moral," notes George) is that it's not nice to make fun of people.
George and Harold unfortunately forgot another moral in the story which was do not hypnotize the school principal because anything can go from bad to worse at the snap of a finger. Mr. Krupp then turns back into Captain Underpants (thanks to Ms. Anthrope) with George and Harold holding onto his cape saying "Oh No!" and "Here we go again!".
How Pilkey got the idea was from actor Martin Short.
- The Top-Secret Truth about Captain Underpants (intro comic)
- Captain Underpants and the Pied Pooper of Piqua
Characters who first appear in this book are:
- Chunkles Jingleberry McMonkeyburger Jr.
- Stinky McMonkeyburger
- Jiggles T. Chunkyskunks
- Tipper Q. Zipperdripper
- Ivana Goda De' Bafroom
- Professor Poopypants/Tippy Tinkletrousers
- Porkbelly Funkyskunk
- Connor Mancini/ Buttercup Bananalips
- Ingrid Ashley/ Chim Chim Diaperbrains
- Larry Zarrow/ Booger Stinkersquirt
- Stephanie Yarkoff/Snotty Gorillabreath
- Robbie Stienburg/Loopy Pizzapants
- Janet Warwick/Poopsie Chucklebutt
- Mr. Rected
- There is an apology and a giveaway at the end of the book, aimed at people who were "traumatized" by the new names inflicted on them by Professor Poopypants.
- In the color hardcover version of this book, there are five bonus fun facts at the end and an introduction to an upcoming comic created by George and Harold.
- Professor Poopypants is loosely modeled on Albert Einstein, despite a large height difference.
- In the Spanish version of this book, the gerbils listen to music by Julio Iglesias.
- The two news reporters, Ingrid Ashley and Larry Zarrow, appeared in the fifth novel as well. They used the names that Professor Poopypants made for them in this book, possibly because they are getting used to it.
- On the inside of the cover it shows Professor Poopypants crossing out Dav Pilkey's name and writing the silly equivalent (Gidget Hamsterbrains).
- Near the end, Dr. Diaper makes a cameo appearance in the jail where the professor is sent to at the very end. He, along with many others in the jail, are seen laughing at Professor Poopypants's unbearably funny new name.
- We learn Mr. Krupp's first name, and Mr. Fyde's first name. Mr. Krupp's name is Benny, and Mr. Fyde's is Morty.
- The small print newspaper Professor Poopypants reads contains an article about robots and toilets on Uranus (a reference to the second book), and an article about how reading small print is bad for people's eyes which is probably telling the reader not to read the newspaper on the page or its just a bit of irony put in by Dav Pilkey.
- In the original edition of this book, the logo for Piqua State Penitentiary on page 145 contained an error. The abbreviation Penn is used. Dav claims this was not his fault.
- In reference to their names, the Shrinky-Pig 2000 looks like a pig, and the Goosy-Grow 4000 resembles a goose.
- When Professor Poopypants is extolling the kindness and innocence of children, a boy can be seen, ironically, pouring salt into his tea.
- When the teachers (covered with foam packets) chased George and Harold, Morty Fyde could be seen on the other side of the window. Fyde later hands in his resignition, stating facts that involved George and Harold's odd experiences that he believed himself to have imagined.
- Professor Poppypants has been literally laughed out of several famous colleges when he tried to present the Goosy-Grow and the Shrinky-Pig (some of those colleges include Harvard, Georgetown, Yale, Stanford, and Chattanooga State Tech Community College).
- A student named Robbie Staenburg is mentioned as a student whose name was changed; Robbie Staenburg is the son of Dav Pilkey's agent.
- When Professor PoopyPants gets in the big Gerbil Jogger he is bigger than he was before.
- Connor Mancini is the name of Dav Pilkey's nephew.
- Poutine is on the Canadian French Name Change-O-Chart.
- This is the first time George is shown alone.
- This is the first book where the cover shows Captain Underpants with his mouth open which is how it is for all books starting this one.
- This is the only book where a character says a religious exclamation. In this case in the last page of the comic book that Professor Poopypants was holding, one of the children is shown saying "Please God! Make it stop!".
- Chapter Thirteen's name is a parody of the movie Honey I shrunk the Kids.
- Professer Poopypants' new name Tippy Tinkletrousers is, according to the letter he wrote at the end, his grandfather's name on his mother's side.
- The kid and his mother from the first and second book appear twice in this book.
- One of Dav's picture-book characters makes a special guest appearance in this book.
- Fluffy Toiletnose and Cheeseball Wafflefanny (George Beard and Harold Hutchins)
- Mr. Lumpy Pottybiscuits (Mr. Benny Krupp)
- Buttercup Chickenfanny (Captain Underpants - he refused to change his name because "he doesn't take orders from anybody", yet he said "Yes Sir!" as a response to George's request)
- Pinky Pizzabrains (Melvin Sneedly)
- Ms. Falafel Gizzardtush (Ms. Ribble)
- Miss Crusty Diapertush (Miss Edith Anthrope)
- Mr. Bananabuns (Mr. Meaner)
- Mr. Gizzardnose (Mr. Rected)
- Mr. Pinky Barfnose (Mr. Morty Fyde)
- Miss Liverbuns (Miss Labler)
- Miss Gigglesniffer, Mrs. Bubblesniffer, and Miss/Mrs./Ms______ (Miss Creant, Mrs. DePoint, and Miss/Mrs./Ms.______; The lunch ladies)
- Mr. Gizzardbrains (Mr. Rustworthy)
- Miss Bubblechunks (Miss Dayken)
- Miss Barfsniffer (Miss Fitt)
- Ms. Lizardnose (Ms. Guided)
- Buttercup Bananalips (Connor Mancini)
- Snotty Gorillabreath (Stephanie Yarkoff)
- Loopy Pizzapants (Robbie Staenburg)
- Poopsie Chucklebutt (Janet Warwick)
- Dr. Bubblebuns (Dr. Diaper)
- Tippy Tinkletrousers (Professor Pippy Pee-Pee Poopypants; he changed his name after he went to jail, not by the chart)
- Chim-Chim Diaperbrains and Booger Stinkersquirt (Ingrid Ashley and Larry Zarrow)
- (Crackers, Wedgie Woman, Robo-George, Mecha-Melvin, The Harold 2000, The Bionic Booger Boy, Carl, Trixie, and Frankenbooger didn't exist at this time, so their names had not been changed and people's names from the alternate universe in Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People would be exactly the same)
- Gidget Hamsterbrains (Dav Pilkey) (As seen in the third page of the book.)