Originally a minor character in Elzie Segar's newspaper comic strip ''Thimble Theater'', Popeye the Sailor quickly took over the series, edging out Ham Gravy as the principal suitor of Olive Oyl. He made his animation debut in a 1933 Betty Boop short produced by Fleischer Studios, and continued appearing in cartoons throughout the 1940s and 1950s, when Famous Studios produced the series, and even continued on into several made-for-tv cartoons. Despite his sailor moniker, Popeye rarely ventured out to sea, instead spending his days romancing Olive Oyl and competed with Bluto for her affections.He starred in an impressive 232 note Discounting all the remake and clip show shorts, the number is "merely" 200 theatrical cartoons during The Golden Age of Animation, lasting from 1933 to 1957, his most noteworthy short being the first of the three two-reeler, 20 minute long, full-color Technicolor specials: specifically, "Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor". This iconic short, being a precursor even to Disney's Snow White, was extremely popular and was even billed along with the feature of the theater, above the main feature of the theater that played it, or even billed as the main feature of the theater itself. While it failed to win an Oscar (losing to the now obscure Walt DisneySilly Symphonies short "The Country Cousin"), it is still considered to this day to be one of The 50 Greatest Cartoons ever made, influencing even filmmakers like Ray Harryhausen, especially on his film The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.Television syndication packages of Popeye cartoons tend toward a mixture of theatrical shorts and the 1960s shorts produced by Al Brodax. In the late 1970s, Hanna-Barbera produced a new series of Popeye cartoons for CBS. This was followed by Popeye And Son in 1987.The Movie, released in 1980 and starring a young Robin Williams in one of his first film roles, is a Cult Classic. Sony Pictures has made a deal to develop an All-CGI CartoonPopeye feature film, directed by Genndy Tartakovsky.
I Eats My Spinach: First Popeye short with Mae Questel voicing Olive Oyl. Only Popeye short to bear the NRA (National Recovery Association) logo.
I Yam What I Yam: The first solo Popeye short. Renamed "The Indian Fighter" in reissued prints. Wimpy makes his debut here.
Popeye the Sailor: Billed as a Betty Boop cartoon, but is really a Poorly Disguised Pilot for the Popeye cartoons. Betty herself recieves barely a minute of screentime, with almost all of her animation recycled from "Betty Boop's Bamboo Isle". The series formula is established right out of the starting gate with this cartoon, with Bluto kidnapping Olive and Popeye having to chase him down and beat him into submission before Olive gets run over by a train.
Let's Sing With Popeye: A Screen Song short featuring a sing-along version of the Popeye song. Recycles footage from the very first Popeye short.
Let's You and Him Fight
The Man on the Flying Trapeze: Sole animated appearance of Olive Oyl's mother, in the opening. Bluto does not appear here, although the eponymous man on the flying trapeze is an obvious stand-in for him.
Shiver Me Timbers
Sock-a-Bye Baby: First Popeye short with neither Olive Oyl nor Bluto. Features Popeye caring for Betty Boop's baby brother.
Strong to the Finich
The Two Alarm Fire
We Aim To Please
Adventures of Popeye: A cheater short, recycling footage from "Popeye the Sailor", "Wild Elephinks" and "Axe Me Another". It is interesting for its Framing Device, with some brief Roger Rabbit Effect moments.
Be Kind to Aminals: A bizarre short, if just because the Fleischers opted for a completely unsolicited change in voice, with Popeye's radio voice (Floyd Buckley) playing the role here (who sounds absolutely nothing like Popeye).
Beward of Barnacle Bill
Choose Your "Weppins"
For Better of Worser: First Popeye short to use the 3-Dimensional Setback, which was a giant stop-motion turntable with a model set mounted on top, with cels superimposed seamlessly over it, to create a startling illusion of depth.
King of the Mardi Gras: First Popeye cartoon to have Jack Mercer voicing the character. Uses the 3-Dimensional Setback.
Pleased to Meet Cha!
The Spinach Overture: Cameo appearance by Castor Oil.
You Gotta Be A Football Hero: Last Popeye short with William Costello as the Popeye voice.
Bridge Ahoy!: Uses the 3-D Setback.
A Clean Shaven Man: Notable for having artist Jack Kirby working on it as an Assistant animator, during his extremely brief tenure at Fleischer Studios.
Customers Wanted: Clip show episode, reuses footage from "Let's Get Movin'" and "The Twisker Pitcher." Public Domain. First Popeye where Pinto Colvig (formerly the voice of Goofy at Disney) voices Bluto. Public Domain.
Pip-eye, Pup-eye, Poop-eye and Peep-eye: Introduces Popeye's eponymous four nephews.
Scrap the Japs
You're a Sap, Mr. Jap: The first of the Famous Studios Popeye cartoons. It has gained notoriety for its racist stereotyping of japanese soldiers.
Cartoons Ain't Human: Last black and white Popeye cartoons.
Happy Birthdaze - First appearance of Shorty, a Navy-serviceman bespectacled sidekick who did not last long.
Her Honor the Mare: The series permanently upgrades to color from here on out.
The Hungry Goat: An odd, pseudo Tex Avery like short centered around the eponymous trickster goat, "Billy the Kid", with Popeye serving as his hapless adversary.
A Jolly Good Furlough
The Marry-Go-Round - Second appearance of Shorty ; in this he ends up being another rare non-Bluto rival for Olive's skinny hand.
Ration for the Duration
Seein' Red, White n' Blue
Spinach fer Britain
Too Weak to Work
The Anvil Chorus Girl: Remake of Shoein' Hooses.
Moving Aweigh: Remake of Cops is Always Right. - Final appearance of Shorty. Notably, this is the only one of his 3 appearances where Arnold Stang did his voice, the first two times he was done by Popeye's Voice Actor Jack Mercer.
Were on the way to Rio: first of Two Famous Studios Popeye Cartoons to use a special Intro.
For Better or Nurse: Semi-Remake of Hospitaliky.
Pop-Pie a La Mode: the first of 3 Famous Studios Color Popeye Cartoons Banned due to racist content.
Tops in the Big Top: Last of Two Famous Studios Popeye Cartoons to use a special intro.
The Fistic Mystic: Modern airings edit out a scene in the beginning featuring a Blackface Chauffer escorting Popeye and Olive Oyl. Even with the edit it is very rarely aired.
House Tricks?: Color remake of "The House Builder-Upper".
The Island Fling: Herman the Mouse from Herman And Katnip makes a cameo. Second of 3 Famous Studios Color Popeye cartoons banned for racist content, though some airings of this cartoon have tried making it "acceptable" by editing out all scenes with the Blackface native.
Peep In the Deep: Semi-remake of "Dizzy Divers"
Rocket to Mars: Modern airings cut out a brief scene depicting a racist WWII Japanese caricature.
Service with a Guile
All's Fair at the Fair: Similarly named, but other no relation to another Fleischer Color Classics short of the same name.
I'll Be Skiing Ya
Popeye and the Pirates
The Royal-Four Flusher
Safari So Good
Wotta Knight: A couple scenes depicting a blackface child have been edited out of modern day airings.
Olive Oyl For President: Semi-remake of "Betty Boop For President."
Popeye Meets Hercules
Snow Place Like Home
Spinach vs. Hamburgers: Yet another clip show episode, recycling footage from "The Anvil Chorus Girl", "Pop-Pie A La Mode" and "She-Sick Sailors". Modern airings edit out the scenes for "Pop-Pie A La Mode" due to its racist content.
Symphony in Spinach
A Wolf In Sheik's Clothing
A Balmy Swami: Color remake of "The Hyp-Nut-Tist".
Barking Dogs Don't Fite: Remake of "Protek The Weakerist".
The Fly's Last Flight: Color remake of "Flies Ain't Human"
Hot Air Aces
Lumberjack and Jill
Popeye's Premiere: A clip show episode, using condensed footage of "Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp" with a Framing Device wrapped around it.
Tar with a Star
Baby Wants Spinach: Semi-remake of "Little Swee'Pea".
The Farmer and the Belle
Gym Jam: Color remake of "Vim, Vigor and Vitaliky".
How Green is My Spinach
Popeye Makes a Movie: Clip show episode that reuses footage from "Popeye Meets Ali Baba", with new animation and a Framing Device wrapped around it.
The Crystal Brawl: Reuses footage from "Quick on the Vigor" and "Alpine for You". Public Domain.
Nearlyweds: Last Popeye short to bear the Famous Studios name before it changed its name to "Paramount Cartoon Studios". Public Domain.
Patriotic Popeye: Last short to have Popeye's nephews appear. Public Domain.
Spooky Swabs: The last of the theatrical Popeye cartoons. Public Domain. Semi-remake of "Shiver Me Timbers".
Spree Lunch: Final theatrical appearances of Bluto and Wimpy. Public Domain.
This series provides examples of:
Adaptation Distillation: The Fleischer Popeye's played up Popeye's strength much more, gave him his Reality Warping powers, his love of spinach, and made Bluto and his rivalry with Popeye much more prominent.
Adult Fear: "Lost and Foundry" had Swee'Pea wandering off into a dangerous factory. Although he ends up having to rescue Popeye and Olive Oyl instead of the other way around.
Ambiguous Gender: So, is the Goon male or female? The original comics actually suggested female, but later strips implied male, possibly due to the lack of torso coverage in the character.
Elzie Segar named the original Goon "Alice". She worked for the Sea Hag under duress.
Both male and female Goons have been seen over the years, especially on Goon Island. Maybe the two sexes prefer to dwell apart.
Amusing Injuries: Notably, the injured are almost always humans who get beaten up in relatively realistic ways, even accounting for the usual comedic flattening. When talking about cartoon violence on the audio commentary track of the Futurama episode "A Tale of Two Santas", Matt Groening said, "But Popeye kills people."
April Fools' Plot: An episode focuses on Bluto playing pranks on Popeye during April 1.
Ass Kicks You: Popeye does this as an attack on the Hypnotist in "The Hyp-Nut-Tist", and also uses this in the climax of "You Gotta Be A Football Hero".
Asteroids Monster: "Sock-a-bye Baby" sees Popeye punch out a cellist who was playing his instrument, only for the cello to start playing itself. He then punches the cello, only for it to split into 4 violins. He then decides to just scare the violins into their cello case.
Beam-O-War: Done with water from fire hoses in "The Two-Alarm Fire".
Beastly Bloodsports: "Bulldozing the Bull" has Popeye in the ring with the bull. Throughout the whole cartoon Popeye protests that bullfighting is "inhumink to dumb anamals" and while he'll down his spinach to defend himself from an irate bull, he breaks a sword over his knee rather than deliver a killing blow, ultimately winning the bull's friendship.
Big Eater: Wimpy, who loves hamburgers so much that he is often just incidental to the plot at hand, and only wants to eat.
Popeye has his moments when a lot of spinach is involved.
Book Ends: The first scene "Popeye the Sailor" is Popeye on a ship singing his theme song. The last scene in "Spooky Swabs" is Popeye on a ship singing his theme song.
Bottomless Magazines: Bluto's six shooter in "Blow Me Down!" is capable of firing lots of bullets without reloading.
Brother Chuck: The entire Oyl family other than Olive (Castor, Cole and Nana), Ham Gravy, and all the rest of the original main characters from Thimble Theater, save Olive Oyl and Wimpy, became markedly less important when the comic strip was retooled around Popeye. Ham Gravy in particular disappeared for decades.
Canon Immigrant: Bluto was created in 1932 for a particular story in the comic strip, but quickly started to appear in the cartoons. So quickly, in fact, that the comic strip owners later forgot they had created him, and briefly replaced him with Brutus to hedge their bets. Later writers speculated that Bluto and Brutus were twins.
Captain Ersatz: Superman fought (and befriended) a sailor named Captain Strong who resembled a realistic-looking Popeye and became superstrong from eating shaunta, an alien seaweed. Just to confirm the homage, he was revealed to have a girlfriend, Olivia, who resembled Olive.
In the story's sequel, Captain Strong, his girlfriend and a glutton friend (a Wimpy lookalike) invite Clark Kent and Lois Lane to a boat trip. When a disaster forces Clark to dive and use his powers to save the day, he quickly wraps canned spinach around himself and claims he got superpowers after he accidentally swallowed it, making Captain Strong believe it was the same seaweed that gave him powers in the previous story (and thus, explaining how mild-mannered Clark Kent could emulate Superman)
Unfortunately (for Clark Kent) some weird natural disasters kept attacking their boat and Captain Strong (truly believing he had a new cache of "Alien Seaweed") insisted on dealing with them all by himself in a completely over the top fashion (like for example, rowing a boat through the air) much like in Popeye's classic shorts. Of course, Clark Kent was secretly behind all of Strong's awesome feats but let the captain be the hero, thus keeping the seaweed charade intact. The story is way, way better (and funnier)than how it sounds.
Similarly, one of the early Popeye cartoons had Bluto disguising himself as Superman to try to woo Olive. (And since Popeye was a Fleischer cartoon, that episode borrowed the theme music from the Fleischer Superman cartoons of the era.)
Cash Cow Franchise: Originally. With decade-upon-decade of comic strips, countless comic books, and hundreds of animated shorts shown in movie theaters and TV, not to mention the live-action movie, Popeye was one of the heavy hitters in his heyday, but has since become much less popular, aside from baby boomer nostalgia. The "Popeye's Fried Chicken" restaurant chain? Used to be Popeye's very own eatery, but not anymore.
Actually, the claim is that the chain is named for The French Connection's Popeye Doyle — but the sailor was used in the advertising for a while.
Cast of Snowflakes: Hoo boy...first, we have a one eyed, balding, big chinned toothless sailor with bulging arms, super strength and reality warping powers, who is ignorant but noble and is a force of good who eats terrible tasting spinach to aid himself, his girlfriend is a walking pipe-cleaner who is very fickle and as a result keeps switching between Popeye and Bluto, depending on who has the advantage of the other, Bluto, a hulking bully we've all known and met in life, and Wimpy, a intelligent but extremely manipulative glutton who would sell out his friends for a hamburger (which he will surely not pay back on Tuesday) and has a obsession with burgers in general. Elzie Segar, the creator of Thimble Theater, invented dozens if not hundreds of unique characters. Even the "bit players" have unique appearances and personalities.
Not to mention: "HEEEEEEEEELP!!!", "Unhand me, you brute!" (with variations), Don't you dare 'reproach' me!", "Oh, Popeye!", etc.
Wimpy: "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today," and (particularly in the comics) "I would gladly mow your lawn for you, if you had a lawn to mow!"
In one strip, Popeye was so frustrated with Wimpy that he bought a vacant lot just to force Wimpy to mow its grass.
Don't forget "I want you to come up to the house for a duck dinner. You bring the ducks." This is made fun of by Popeye in the Plunder Island storyline in the comics when Wimpy tries to cut Popeye's head off (long story) and complains when he ducks. Popeye replies, "Yeah, I'll furnish the ducks".
In one strip he actually has duck and the punch line is, "You bring the tartar sauce."
Cereal Induced Superpowers: In this infamous Quaker Oats commercial, Popeye chose oatmeal over spinach for super strength. The ad was quickly pulled when people (especially the nonviolent Quakers) complained.
In the mid-1930s radio series, it was Wheatena.
In one of the early strips, he has a temporary dearth of spinach so he temporarily partially replaces his strength boost with milk.
On the other hand, Popeye has been credited for saving the spinach industry in the 1930's by convincing more kids to eat it, invoking this trope without it being an official advertisement.
Crystal City, Texas, an agricultural town that was based around spinach growing, actually erected a statue of Popeye in the town square.
Cerebus Syndrome: In what is sure to surprise many people, Thimble Theater went from gag strip parodying vaudeville and overwrought film serials, to an adventure/comedy strip in the tradition of Roy Crane's Wash Tubbs, and was quite popular. Created in 1919, it had been running (mostly in Hearst papers) for ten years when Popeye showed up. His appearance only served to make it more successful.
Chaste Toons: Swee'Pea, who just appeared on a doorstep one day, and Pipeye, Peepeye, Pupeye and Poopeye, Popeye's quadruplet nephews, who dressed just like him and got into various misadventures alongside him.
It's not like Popeye had a choice. Just look at his girlfriend; Olive Oyl would have exploded if she tried to make a baby!
Olive Oyl was once shown with twin sons she'd had with Popeye, who were indistinguishable from Pipeye/Peepeye/Poopeye — but this was in a Dream Sequence. And her sons in the dream were so obnoxious that after she woke up she never wanted to see Popeye again.
"There's no ifs, ands or maybes, I'll never have babies, I'm Popeye the Sailor Man!"
Chubby Chaser: Bluto in "Weight for Me", although you'd never think the trope could apply to Olive, of all people (she gained weight while the boys were at sea). The short contains some pretty massive Values Dissonance, too, as the heroic Popeye tries to make Olive thin down before he can be attracted to her, and Bluto is completely accepting of it.
Clip Show: At least 14 shorts consisted of stock footage from from previous shorts, with a framing device always wrapped around them. The Fleischers only made 4 clip show episodes, but Famous produced 10.
Cock Fight: Whenever Olive Oyl shows up, Bluto and Popeye immediately start a competition to win her affections.
Cross-Dressing Voices: Popeye's voice actor Jack Mercer had to briefly leave the studio to serve a tour of duty during WWII. In his absence, Mae Questel voiced Olive Oyl and Popeye, and you can't tell the difference.note Back in her Vaudville days, one of Mae Questel's talents was as a vocal impressionist who could mimic the likes of Maurice Chevalier and Eddie Cantor, among others.
Crushing Handshake: Bluto/Brutus does this to Popeye in several cartoons, followed by a shot of Popeye's red, crushed hand and a "wrumph-wrumph" sound effect.
Disproportionate Retribution: "Sock-A-Bye Baby" has Popeye beating up people, demolishing a building under construction, smashing cars and sinking a cruise liner, all because they're making noise and he's afraid they'll wake a baby he's taking care of (which happens anyway, courtesy of a tiny pin hitting the ground).
Early-Installment Weirdness: Popeye was a much rougher personality in his early appearances (both in the comics and in the theatrical shorts), and he had a remarkably different appearance. Also, he gained his powers not from eating spinach, but from rubbing the head of a magical whiffle hen. The comics also lacked the visual metaphors and reality warping powers that would become hallmarks of the Popeye cartoons. And Bluto, his infamous nemesis, only appeared once in the original Segar comics, and didn't become a mainstay of the comics until later on.
Executive Meddling: At the height of his popularity, Popeye developed a strong following among children. King Features Syndicate, as a result, force the character to be a better role model for kids. Poopdeck Pappy was soon created as an outlet for some of Popeye's old vices.
Expy: Brutus replacing Bluto (or Sindbad or whoever)
Extreme Omni Goat: Billy the Kid, the eponymous goat from "The Hungry Goat"; an oddly Avery-esqueScrewy Squirrel character who ended up eating the entire ship Popeye was on. A Bizarro Episode if there ever was one, since the character seemed as if it had stepped into the wrong cartoon series.
Flexing Those Non-Biceps: Curiously averted, in that when Popeye has his spinach, they become huge, with objects inside like a battleship firing to show how powerful they are.
Played straight in one short where Bluto has killed all the spinach in the world. After eating some broccoli ("That's almost the same as spinach!") Popeye flexes, and his upper arm droops into a U-shape.
In that particular episode, Popeye gave Bluto his half because Popeye was living up to an agreement they'd made at the start of the episode, and even after Bluto had been a total Jerk Ass throughout the episode trying to steal all the treasure for himself. Though because of that, Popeye knocks both Bluto and his share of the treasure into the sea.
And, as an infamous Minute Maid commercial showed, once they've had their orange juice, they're downright affectionate.
Not to mention the entirety of the cartoon "Fightin Pals" is focused around Popeye going into Darkest Africa to find Bluto. And when he finds Bluto (surrounded by wine, woman and coconuts, no less) and faints, being on the verge of death after finding Bluto, Bluto and his girls rush over to him, Bluto telling them that their efforts won't work as he pulls out a can of spinach, from his own shirt, and gives it to Popeye - sure, they start fighting at the end, but it comes off as a sort of friendly game. If that ain't a friendship, what is?
Funetik Aksent: Ever wonder why Popeye talks that way? During his first appearances, his bizarre speech was Seger's written approximation of how sailors—possibly BRITISH sailors—really talked.
Gainax Ending: In Al Brodax cartoon "Coach Popeye", Popeye and Brutus were arguing over who's the best to teach Swee'Pea and Diesel how to play sports. As usual, Popeye and Brutus ended up fighting. Near the end, they generated a fight cloud and, when it disappeared, it revealed them playing amicably as if they weren't just fighting.
Gender Flip: "Never Kick a Woman" features a variation on the traditional formula, with Olive having to overcome a voluptuous adversary to win back Popeye's affections, and eating spinach to do so.
Gentle Giant: Alice the Goon. While her inital appearances subverted this, it was only because the Sea Hag was holding her child hostage; she became more amiable when she was freed from her servitude.
Image Song: Sort of. At the end of every short, Popeye sings some variation of the "Popeye the Sailor Man" song, depending on the situation or setting of that particular short, and always ending with the trademark "Toot, Toot!" whistle. For instance, in a short where Popeye is a sculptor and Bluto is a painter and the two fight over who gets to use Olive as a model, he sings, "A painting won't match you / it must be a statue / I'm Popeye the Sailor Man / Toot, toot!"
As mentioned elsewhere, Olive was originally conceived as a flapper, which, in 2010, is a fashion now almost a century out of date, but in general the flapper ideal was, indeed, something like Olive Oyl: skinny as a rail, with as little of a figure as a girl can possibly manage, and sort of tomboyish of attitude. They tended to be party people.
It Runs in the Family: Poopdeck Pappy, Popeye's nephews, and Swee' Pea all behave just like Popeye, more or less.
Junior, from Popeye & Son metabolizes spinach no less than his famous father, although the boy hates the taste of it.
Jabba Table Manners: Bluto Abu Hassan when he's eating a large meal in his cave. Complete with improvised hamming, as he makes amusing chewing and gobbling noises as he devours his meal.
That may be a Viewers Are Geniuses reference to the real story of Abu Hassan in the Arabian Nights... a man who enjoyed all the good things in life a bit too much. Doubtful that Bluto would have been that embarrassed, though.
Bluto in We Aim to Please orders half a dozen sandwiches (with no intent of paying for them) and, flipping them in the air, gobbles them down like a dog.
Just So Story: Popeye's story of why the sea is salty from one of the 60's TV cartoons, played straight, then promptly lampshaded by Swee'Pea's response.
Kick the Dog: The short "Seasons Greetinks" literally has Bluto whipping a dog.
And Be Kind to 'Aminals' is centered around his mistreating the horse who pulls his cart.
Kidnapping Bird Of Prey: The Witch in the comics has a giant vulture who is able to lift up people and bring them to her.
Sindbad the Sailor has the Roc who destroys Popeye's boat and carries Olive off.
Large Ham: Bluto, and any variation on him (Abu Hassan, Sindbad, etc.)
Love Triangle: Popeye, Olive and Bluto. Depending on the Writer Olive's feelings toward Bluto vary from hatred to lust, and she sometimes gets tired of Popeye. In some episodes Popeye really deserves better than her.
Lull Destruction: Popeye tends to mutter to himself under his breath when he's just ambling along without much of a goal in mind.
Made of Iron: Cripes, the things Popeye and Bluto have survived!
In the comics, this verges on Nigh-Invulnerability — Mafia bosses will invite Popeye to sit at the table with them in a restaurant, because he makes for such a good bulletproof shield.
In the early Fleischer cartoons, too. He's thrown into an iron maiden ("Can You Take It?"), walks into a buzzsaw (ditto), is pounded by a pile-driver ("I Eats Me Spinach"), and is even shot in the back of the head ("Blow Me Down"), and he doesn't even flinch. And this is without spinach.
In fact, Popeye's indestructibility was his main "superpower" in the original comic strip, and spinach had nothing to do with it. In his initial adventure he was shot several times, and survived by repeatedly rubbing the head of an African whiffle hen — Castor had brought her along because rubbing her head brings good luck, and he was going to an island of gambling casinos. The whiffle hen is also indestructible, and although Segar never made this explicit, Popeye had apparently managed to permanently infuse himself with these qualities.
Mad Libs Theme Song: When singing his iconic tune at the end of an episode, Popeye frequently inserts episode-specific references in lines three and four.
Magical Native American: If one's definition of this trope is broad enough, the indians from the very early short "I Yam What I Yam" (AKA "The Indian Fighter") feature a tribe of hostile indians who are capable of shapeshifting into nearby foliage (and in one's case, a miniature house) in order to sneak up on Olive and Wimpy's cabin.
Musical Nod: One scene in "A Dream Walking" where Popeye is swinging between girders uses a bit of the same melody that played throughout "The Man on the Flying Trapeze."
Never Wake Up A Sleepwalker: Bluto and Popeye have to join forces to save Olive Oyl from herself in the short "A Dream Walking", especially once she wanders into a construction site.
No OSHA Compliance: True, Popeye predates OSHA by a long shot, and started back when A-list stars in the movies still did stunts without the benefit of a Stunt Double or safety nets, but you still wouldn't want to work in, say, a factory with Everything Trying to Kill You, right? Well, it's clearly nothing for the world's strongest sailor to worry about in "Lost and Foundry".
Once an Episode: Popeye gets in a life-threatening situation, pulls out a can of spinach, and summons the strength necessary to save himself — and, probably, Olive. Occasional variations cropped up, such as Olive Oyl saving Popeye from a hillbilly giantess in Hill-Billing and Cooing, but even these variations nearly always involved the strategic use of spinach.
One Extra Member: "Jeopardy Sheriff" in which Popeye starts to read Swee'Pee the story of the Three Bears: Moe, Sam, Lefty, and George. Also referred to as "The three bears of which there were four".
Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: Used in an infamous storyline in the comic strip; A woman overhears Olive Oyl talking about getting rid of a baby robot a home shopping channel had mistakenly sent her and assumes she's talking about getting rid of her (unborn) baby and quickly assembles a crew of her cohorts to talk her out of it. Although there was little negative feedback from readers or newspapers, the artist behind this strip was soon fired (The official reason being that the artist had gone too far in trying to include modern elements into such a legacy strip. The "abortion" strip was merely the last straw).
Overly Long Name: Again Swee'pea, who's full name is Scooner Seawell Georgia Washenting Christiffer Columbia Daniel Boom.
Painting the Medium: In "The Ace of Space" after Popeye has been captured by the aliens, when subtitles of what the aliens are saying pop up, Popeye himself takes a moment to read some of them.
Panty Shot: A rare moment for Olive Oyl in "Abusement Park", when a rope (or seat belt) in the back seat of the roller coaster cart is tied to her ankle by Bluto and she's dangled, and dragged across the whole way. A frontal shot of her white unmentionables exposed to the audience occurs after a turn is made and just before she crashes into a tower.
Olive has another in "Popeye, The Ace Of Space." She's yanked out of the window bay of a suddenly propelled rocket ship and hanging outside the bay by her knees, stretched out. Her thigh-length pantaloons are in total view.
The first time we see Olive's unmentionables is in the very first Popeye cartoon simply titled "Popeye the Sailor" (which was billed as a Betty Boop cartoon) when Bluto lifts her into the air and she tries kicking him.
That would explain why he's initially reluctant about using his Power-Up Food.
In "Seein' Red, White and Blue," Popeye administers spinach to both Bluto and himself so they can both open a can of whoopass on some Japanese agents who had gotten the best of them (as well as Hirohito and Hitler). Ends with Bluto joining the Navy, which he tried to avoid earlier in the cartoon.
At least one story from Al Brodax's Popeye has Brutus willingly eating spinach and it not forcing him to hit Popeye.
Power-Up: He's strong to the finich 'cause he eats his spinach, remember?
Hard to believe, but there was a time when Popeye didn't get his strength from spinach! Segar had him simply as a very tough sailor. He put the spinach business in later, but never with the inevitable focus that the cartoons had.
The spinach also has other uncanny abilities besides merely granting excess strength. It also grants Popeye Reality Warper powers, and can even reverse odd effects that have occurred to Popeye (i.e. being squished down into a midget in "Popeye Meets Rip Van Winkle", being aged to 125 years old and later being turned invisible in "The Ace of Space")
Primal Fear: Slapstick as they are, "A Dream Walking" and "The Paneless Window Washer" involve the fear of heights.
Public Domain Animation: a fair amount of Popeye cartoons have fallen into the Public Domain, including the 3 two-reel color specials so they're commonl found of public domain VHS tapes or DVDs.
Public Domain Character: Not in the US, where Popeye falls under the "work for hire" provisions of US copyright law. However, this is the case in many other countries, including the EU. See here for a more complete explanation.
Punny Name: Olive Oyl, and everyone from the original comic's cast
Rapid Aging: In "The Ace of Space", the aliens use such a device to age Popeye into being 125 years old. Eating spinach reverses the effect, but to the point of where Popeye becomes two years old. Quickly spitting out some of the spinach reverts him back to his normal age of 40 years old.
Reality Warper: Big time. Popeye has altered the forms of the things he's punched, punching tigers into leopard skin coats — that's right, tigers into leopard skin coats — as well as punching Indians into nickels, Bluto into bologna, a trapeze artist into a light fixture, and breaking the very film he was printed on at one point.
Not to mention punching a big Native American chief and turning him into GANDHI!
In one short, Popeye punched The Sun and changed day into night. Or killed the sun, depending who you ask.
Satellite Love Interest: Olive Oyl, sometimes. She's always fiercely devoted to Popeye, but her ability to be charmed by Bluto and how she acts when Popeye isn't around can change greatly depending on the short.
Scenery Porn: Had some very elaborate architecture backgrounds, all done in perfect perspective. "A Dream Walking" and "The Paneless Window Washer" take full advantage of this.
Sealed Good in a Can: Spinach grants super strength to any character who consumes it, not just Popeye.
Shout-Out: "She-Sick Sailors" is a shout-out to Superman, the other major property of Fleischer/Famous Studios. Bluto impersonates Superman in order to woo Olive, who is obsessed with the comic book hero.
Sliding Scale of Realistic Versus Fantastic: Surreal. Aside from characterization, the only truly consistent thing about the cartoons is that Popeye gets stronger when he eats spinach. Otherwise, pretty much anything goes as far as what can happen in each short.
Slippery Swimsuit: In the short Alona of the Sarong Seas, this happens first to Olive, then to Popeye and Bluto.
Spinoff: Popeye first appeared in animated form in the Betty Boop cartoon Popeye the Sailor (1933).
Spin-Offspring: Popeye & Son. (Though fans have complained that except for the sporadic, usually brief usage of spinach once in a while, there really wasn't much connecting this to the classic series, it could've been -anybody- & -any- son.)
Standard Snippet: Whenever "The Stars and Stripes Forever" cues up, it means Bluto's about to take a beating.
Stock Footage: 13 shorts were clip show episodes consisting of older footage, but even normal episodes occasionally reuse footage. For instance "With Poopdeck Pappy" in the scene where Pappy scats off to the bar after tying up Popeye, is partially recycled from an earlier short "The Dance Contest". The mini-short "Lets Sing With Popeye" reuses all of its animation from the very first Popeye short.
Story Arc: As mentioned above, the original comic strip began to use these.
Strawman Political: The short Olive Oyl for President presents Congress as a room full of arguing donkeys and elephants (Democrats and Republicans, respectively) — for every proposal that Olive presents, the donkeys say, "We accept it!" in unison, and the elephants scream, "We reject it!" in response. Political polarization is Older Than They Think.
It was a remake of Betty Boop for President (1932), complete with the "We accept it! We reject it!" from elephants and donkeys, and Oyl imitating politicians of the day.
Succession Crisis: One story arc in the comics featured King Blozo of Spinachia being pressured into marrying because his subjects were fearing this trope. He didn't like the idea of having a wife but was reconsidering because the people of Spinachia was threatening to depose him and elect a President.
Theme Music Power-Up: "Popeye the Sailor Man" plays in the background of every "spinach strength" scene.
Some could argue that the original shorts were among the earliest innovators of this trope.
Three Shorts: In TV syndication packages. On the Boomerang network, there is a half-hour block consisting of four unedited shorts, and sometimes airs the early black-and-white Fleischer Studios shorts during Late Night Black and White.
In previous decades, when the cartoons were syndicated, local stations would create their own Popeye programs, where the classic shorts were sandwiched by live-action hosts.
Through a Face Full of Fur: In "Abusement Park", Olive Oyl's face turns pale with petrification and panic when she and Bluto take a huge, long drop from the highest height of a roller coaster in the cart, and she screams on the way down it.
In "Lunch With A Punch", a young Bluto's (seen in a flashback of a story that Popeye tells his nephews about how spinach has aided in his super strength) face turns red with ire and his hair forms devil's horns, as he devises a way to get back at young Popeye for stealing young Olive Oyl away from him.
Tiny-Headed Behemoth: Alice the Goon (and all other Goons). Their heads are about the same size as their shoulders (which admittedly are larger than average).
Another case of Have a Gay Old Time, as back then the word "poop" hadn't yet come to mean what it means today.
It's a nautical series; he's named after the poop deck.
Ungrateful Bastard: Popeye's nephews. There are at least 2 shorts where they won't eat their spinache. Popeye is finally able to talk them into it. The nephews then use their newfound strenght to beat the ever-living CRAP out of their kindly uncle!
Villain Song: Sometimes the villains have one. For example, Sindbad and Abu Hassan have them in the colour features.
The Walls Are Closing In: Popeye and his friends were once trapped in a pit with the walls closing in. Desperately, Popeye throws his can of spinach to jam in the edge of the walls on top. The walls crush the can, causing the spinach to fall into Popeye's mouth. Now strong to the finish, Popeye easily forces the walls back and the gang escapes.
Wild Take: Olive Oyl's eyes bulging out when she notices just how high she and Bluto are on the roller coaster as she looks down in "Abusement Park".
William Telling: "William Won't Tell" has Popeye as William Tell forced to shoot a very tiny apple off Olive Oyl's head for refusing to remove his hat before the king. Popeye uses a trick arrow to spear the tiny apple but it boomerangs around and removes his hat to reveal what he did not intend—a kiss on his forehead, bestowed upon him by the Queen for helping her in a time of need.
In one episode, Popeye dreamed he'd lost a boxing match by knockout, and that Olive Oyl dumped him because he was therefore now a "weakling." When he awoke, he ran over to Olive's house to prove himself, and lifted the entire house into the air. Without eating spinach first!
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Humorously subverted. While Popeye is too much of a gentleman to hit a woman, that doesn't prevent Olive Oyl from fighting a female villain for him. One notable incident had Popeye and Olive Oyl both consuming spinach at the same time to fight Bluto and the Sea Hag, respectively.
In another episode Bluto dresses as a woman specifically because he knows Popeye won't fight back, and proceeds to try to humiliate Popeye at the woman's gym he's working at by out-doing him and taking cheap shots at him. But once Popeye finds out it's Bluto and not a woman doing this to him, it's on.
Subverted by Popeye at the ends of "Wild Elephinks", "Shiver Me Timbers", "Brotherly Love", and "Ghosks Is The Bunk" though those were only accidents. The same goes in one early Sunday strip where Popeye was asleep and thought Olive was an enemy of his and slapped Olive in the "Clint Gore" story arc for saying bad things to him. Of course, that was before he was toned down in 1934.
Also subverted by Pappy in one strip.
During the arc that introduced Alice the Goon, Popeye beats her up during the fight, however this happens before he learns her gender.