In 1975, he became the first comic strip artist to win a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. The award was controversial at the time, since it is traditionally awarded to editorial page cartoonists.
He was made a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1993. Wiley Miller, fellow comic strip artist responsible for Non Sequitur, called Trudeau "far and away the most influential editorial cartoonist in the last 25 years."
Trudeau maintains a low personal profile. A rare and early appearance on television was as a guest on To Tell the Truth in 1971, where all but one of the panelists failed to guess his identity.