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Franchise: Barbie
An iconic doll in her iconic pink.
"Barbie's small and so petite
Her clothes and figure look so neat
Her dazzling outfit rings a bell
At parties she will cast a spell
A purse and hats and gloves galore
And all the gadgets gals adore!"
—The jingle to the first Barbie commercial.

A popular doll line, manufactured by Mattel, that has been around since 1959. Partly a revolution in doll design, because until then most fashion dolls were made to look like little girls. Barbie was made to look like a young woman. When she was first created, her figure was more akin to that of a normal young woman, but later adjustments changed her dimensions in different ways so that she would maintain a more natural figure under the thickly hemmed clothes.

Barbie is also the subject of controversy, due to her figure being stylized and therefore impossible in Real Life, and thereby supposedly giving girls an "unrealistic" role model, though her figure was slightly modified in the late 1990s in response to these complaints. Mattel is careful to make sure Barbie's image remains "wholesome" and getting dolls into roles that were once seen as unsuitable for women. Mattel featured a NASA Astronaut Barbie just two years after Valentina Tereshkova (from the Soviet Union) became the first woman to go into space and Mattel has been releasing "Barbie for President" dolls since 1992.

The original storyline attached to the dolls was that of Barbie Roberts, a teenager and the oldest of many sisters, and her career as a model. Her surname and age have now been long since forgotten, and she generally plays adult characters, being showcased in various careers. Barbie has also been featured in a series of animated direct-to-video features since 2001 (each with a tie-in toy line), most of them based on Fairy Tales, but also including originals like the Fairytopia series. They tend to be accused of Tasting Like Diabetes, especially the newer ones, but have surprisingly strong, positive portrayals of women: i.e., the girls help each other without second intention and don't always bond only over guys.

Barbie has become a stock parody over the years; The Simpsons has Malibu Stacy (Lisa's frustration with a talking model that had the personality of The Ditz was the focus of a whole episode, inspired by a real controversy over a talking Barbie which could say, "Math class is tough!"), and Rugrats had Angelica's favorite toy, the Cynthia doll. Then she's finally parodied herself in Pixar's Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3.

Barbie got her own webseries called Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse in 2012, which features her and her family and friends in a Reality Show Sitcom with a wide demographic appeal.

In April 2014, news broke that Columbia Pictures and Mattel would collaborate on a live-action Barbie movie.


Currently the Barbie line has two main categories:

The Playline:

  • The dolls who are usually seen in stores, this line has a few sub-categories:

The Fashionistas

  • The most poseable dolls in the entire playline, these dolls are No Name Given, with the name on the box being the style of the doll, though the most recent set (Swapping Styles) have had a webseries similar to Mattels other line, Monster High, on the Barbie Web site.
    • As of 2011, the line has been reverted to a sort of Fashion Fever line, with Barbie, Teresa, Raquelle and Nikki taking over and eliminating the No Name Given element. It was also the first line to include Ryan

The So in Style girls:

  • A set of all black dolls featuring Barbie's friend Grace who has moved to Chicago, she meets two best friends (Trichelle and Kara) and participate in a pseudo-tutoring program (The Little Sibling program, featuring Dajh's clone as the first little brother).

My Scene:

The Collector line:

  • Barbie has a huge Periphery Demographic who are in it for the fashion and wit, so Mattel invokedcreated this half of the Barbie line specifically for them. The dolls are usually not sold in stores (unless it's a store exclusive) but on the Barbie collector Web site. Sub-categories include:

The Dolls of the World line:

The Basics line:

There have been a number of animated productions starring Barbie, including:


This toy line provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Raquelle, who debuted as a strawberry blonde girl, is a darker haired brunette in every other appearance.
  • Animated Actor: Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale features the actress Barbie.
  • Action Girl: In Barbie and the Three Musketeers, and Toy Story 3.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Ken has a long history of accidentally appealing to other crowds than young girls. Toy Story 3 finally embraced it with all its heart.
  • Background Halo: The cape worn by Barbie as "Fantasy Goddess of the Arctic" has what appears to be a hood, but acts more like this.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Now the Trope Namer, as the dolls are infamous for it, especially poor Ken. More recent iterations have modeled patterns over their featureless groins to resemble underwear.
  • The Bechdel Test: Surprisingly, all of the movies pass this, along with several installments of Life in the Dreamhouse. The girls discuss guys once in a while, but they more often talk about friendship and their own goals.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: A common aspect in the movies. Do not threaten Barbie's friends if you know what's good for you.
  • Bleached Underpants: The original Barbie doll was inspired by a German doll toy line (later taken over by Mattel and shut down) called "Bild Lilli". Lilli was originally merchandising for the central character of a Newspaper Comic strip that included a lot of cheesecake and suggestive humour, and the dolls were marketed initially to adult men.
  • Breast Expansion: Inverted. Ever since the 1990s. The original Barbie was much more well-endowed, something still commonly seen in parodies; Barbie is still somewhere in D-cup range, but realistically so.
  • Canon Discontinuity: When Mattel resumed production of Midge dolls in 2013, they seemed to disregard her getting married and having two children, to make her Younger and Hipper.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Stacie and Krissy.
    • Stacie was brought back & incorporated into the newest 'Barbie & her sisters' lines/media. Stacie's twin brother Todd however....
    • Kelly disappeared, with Chelsea taking her place.
    • Ken's younger brother Tommy also vanished.
    • Barbie at one point had a younger sister named Tutti, who was the original twin of Todd. She was effectively replaced with Stacie.
    • Skipper's friends (Courtney, Nikki) and her boyfriends (Kevin, Scott) were phased out over time, along with all of Kelly's friends once she was replaced with Chelsea.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Teresa's latest movie roles tend to be this since Diamond Castle.
  • Costume Porn: All of the specialty dresses are pretty detailed.
  • The Dandy: Ken in Toy Story 3.
  • Deadly Fireworks Display: Toward the end of Barbie & The Diamond Castle, Vain Sorceress Lydia tries to cast a spell on the protagonists, but it backfires and hits her instead, surrounding her with swirling green sparkles until she disappears in a flash of light. Though she turns out to be Not Quite Dead...
    • Also, in two of the three Barbie movies which are set in Fairytopia (respectively the first part, Fairytopia, and the third part, Magic of the Rainbow), where the Big Bad of several movies gets hit by the Power of the Rainbow and (after getting swirled about in the first movie) "explodes" in a rain of rainbow-colored sparkles.
  • Ermine Cape Effect: When it involves the royalty-related tropes mentioned here.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: A lot of her dolls and films.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Barbie is a blonde, as are her sisters (usually), and they are pretty well liked.
  • Everything's Better With Sparkles: Glitter is a fairly common part of the Barbie toyes. Sparkles are also often present in the films when something magical happens.
  • Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry: The dolls have plenty of jewelry, as well as some jewelry themed dolls.
  • Fairytale Wedding Dress: Some of the dolls are Barbie in a wedding dress.
  • The Fashionista: Barbie herself and Nikki are the most obvious examples.
  • Five-Token Band: Teresa's the Hispanic one, Raquelle's the Asian one, Nikki took over Christie's role as the black one, Summer's the Irish one, and Barbie's the white one, though you can get her in any ethnicity. This turned out to be a problem when Mattel released Oreo Barbie with the African-American option. Oops.
  • Fleeting Demographic Rule: Barbie as the Princess and the Popstar comes seven years after the first Princess and Pauper movie.
    • Barbie and the Pink Shoes has a part in which Barbie visit the world of Swan Lake, a story that her franchise adapted 10 years earlier.
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: Many of her outfits have feather trim. The "Angel Princess" doll wears a dress with shoulder straps of white feathers, as does the life-sized version for girls to wear.
  • Follow the Leader: The Disney Princess line.
  • Framing Device: Several movies, especially her earlier ones, had Barbie telling the story to Kelly, and then it would cut to the actual story, and then Barbie would take up the narration again as the story ended.
  • Gem-Encrusted: Many of her dresses have jewels sewn into them.
  • Genius Ditz: Barbie is portrayed as a borderline Dumb Blonde in Toy Story 3 (albeit with redeeming qualities). And then wham, democratic philosophy out of nowhere:
    "Authority should derive from the consent of the governed, not from threat of force!"
  • Giant Poofy Sleeves: A few of her fancy dresses have large sleeves.
  • Gold Makes Everything Shiny: Many outfits, including her 1994 holiday dress (a gold lame dress with fur trim).
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: Plenty of her outfits are purple.
  • Green Aesop: Barbie Presents Thumbelina.
  • Happy Holidays Dress: The "Happy Holidays" line is the Trope Namer, and the dresses in that line, and following holiday lines, are some of the fanciest of the franchise (as well as being festive).
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Barbie and her little sisters, usually. In the animated films, they are portrayed this way.
    • Except Skipper, who is brunette in the films. She's still got a heart of gold though.
  • Held Gaze: This happens several times in her movies, notably Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper after Dominik and Erika's love duet.
  • Hidden Depths: See Genius Ditz above. Other Barbie movies and shows can reveal things about Barbie that aren't apparent on the surface.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Despite the fact that Barbie is technically an adult. One of her "talking" lines drew a lot of criticism for having phrases like "Let's go shopping!", "Math is hard!" and "Will we ever have enough clothes?" A group called Barbie Liberation decided to do something about that, swapping out Barbie's voice boxes with those from G.I. Joe, so Barbie instead said things like "Vengeance is mine!"
  • It's Fake Fur, It's Fine: Officially, she wears fake fur. Of course, the fur actually is fake, but in the early years, that was likely for economic reasons.
  • "I Want" Song: Several of her movies feature this, often as duets between the leads. An example is "I Need to Know" from Barbie as the Island Princess, amongst the more usual "I Want" Songs like "Free" from her first movie musical, Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: Even her more practical outfits can still be impractically fancy.
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: tweaked around 2000 to be at least somewhat realistic.
  • Nice Girl: Barbie.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: See Barbie Collector above.
  • Official Cosplay Gear: So young girls can try on the outfits.
  • Only One Female Mold: Most of Barbie's friends have exactly the same body shape as she does.
  • Opera Gloves: These don't appear on the dolls that often, but can appear when the outfit is based on fashions when those were popular.
  • Peacock Girl: In The Island Princess, Ro wears a peacock tail her peacock friend loans her. And a couple of her dolls have had this as an accessory.
  • Pimped Out Cape: A few dolls had some, notably the "Fantasy Goddess of the Arctic" doll.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: She's been given loads of elaborate dresses over the years, although the fanciest ones come from the specialty lines.
  • Pink Means Feminine / Pink Product Ploy: Barbie is all about piiiink. Her logo is pink. Her Dream Car and Dream House are pink. Packaging for most of the dolls and accessories are pink. One of her first outfits, "Enchanted Evening", has a pink evening gown.
    • Her signature color is "Barbie Pink" and can't be used by another company without getting permission from Mattel. Therefor, when other products try to do the Pink Product Ploy, it's usually a very close comparison to Barbie pink (just a hair lighter or darker). It is very much the Gold (Pink) Standard to which other pink products aspire to.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Barbie in the Nutcracker and stories like Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper could count as this.
  • Pretty in Mink: Loads of her outfits (officially being fake is the only nod to that trope, so the rest count as this) have fur, either as trim or fur garments.
    • This started as early as the white fur wraps she wears in the "Enchanted Evening" and "Gay Parisienne" dolls, and the white fur jacket she wears for the "Icebreaker" doll.
    • For that matter, it seems 90% of the time when one of her outfits has fur, it's white (which goes nicely with the bright colors motif of the franchise).
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: Some of the movies have princesses wearing pink clothes, especially if Barbie is playing a princess.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Even when she isn't actually Rapunzel, she'll often have hair that goes below her waist.
  • Retraux: Mattel revived Barbie's original cursive logo in 2000, and again in 2009.
  • The Rival: The recent movies have Raquelle in this role.
  • Rule of Glamorous: Why are her outfits, houses, and many other things, more pretty than practical? This trope.
  • Sexy Santa Dress: Even she has worn some of those, like the "Festive Seasons" outfit.
  • Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: Guess which end Barbie is on.
  • Stylish Protection Gear: A few, like her astronaut suit, which is pink and gold.
  • Sweater Girl: A number of her outfits over the years. The early 80s set "Fashion Jeans" included a pink, fuzzy sweater, even though a doll with that name could have included any kind of top.
  • Thememobile: Her Dream Car.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: A Double Subversion in one of her fairy tale movies, where Barbie's character actually tried to kill the villain. Then it turned out that her newfound magical powers couldn't be used to harm anyone.
  • Toyless Toyline Character: The villains from the movies rarely have toys made of them.
  • True Blue Femininity: Blue is also a common color for her outfits. The very first Winter princess doll wore a blue dress.
  • Trans Atlantic Equivalent: Sindy, which first emerged in 1963.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: One of the most of any fictional character ever.
  • Vague Age: Barbie is constantly changing from someone in her early to mid-20s to a teenager (sometimes even a high schooler).
    • And considering she (and all her friends) run for President every four years, it seems that she's at least 35, too.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: Some of the games include this at least as an option.
  • Winter Royal Lady: Her line of "Winter Princess" dolls, among others.
  • Workaholic: She's had loads of careers that her dolls have covered.

American Girls CollectionToysBakugan
American Girls CollectionCreator/MattelFisher-Price
Back to the FutureFranchise IndexBattlestar Galactica
Law of Chromatic SuperiorityImageSource/OtherBarbie Doll Anatomy
BambiAnimated FilmsBarbie: A Fashion Fairytale

alternative title(s): Barbie
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