Franchise: Marsupilami

Marsupilami coming running through the jungle,
Tales to tell we having the swinging good time,
Singing HOUBA! (HOUBA?) HOOOOOUUUUUBBAAAA! (HOUBA!) Oooh Marsupilami!
Marsupilami coming climbing through the trees,
He's so co-co nutty, We go bananas,
Singing HOUBA! (HOUBA?) HOOOOOUUUUUBBAAAA! (HOUBA!) Oooh Marsupilami!
HOUBA! Co-co nutty! HOOOOOUUUUBBAAAA!
Marsupilami coming always dropping by,
Just to hang around and have a swinging good time,
Singing HOUBA! (HOUBA?) HOOOOOUUUUUBBAAA! (HOUBA!) Oooh Marsupilami!
Opening Theme from the Disney animated seriesnote 

The Marsupilami is a fictional animal species starring in two Belgian comic book series that got adapted twice into an animated series. Marsupilamis are monkeylike, black-spotted yellow creatures with an insanely long prehensile tail, from the Banana Republic of Palombia.

Marsupilamis were created by André Franquin for the Spirou and Fantasio album Spirou et les héritiers (Spirou and the Heirs) in 1956. Capturing one of these elusive and fictional critters was the goal of one the trials the title heirs were tasked to do to receive their inheritance. The captured marsupilami (nicknamed "the Marsupilami") became a Team Pet for the duration of Franquin's run, serving as Plucky Comic Relief, Big Guy and Deus ex Machina, thanks to his ever-expanding list of anatomical peculiarities. When Franquin left the series, he kept the rights to the species, and the appearances of the Marsupilami dwindled in his birth series, before finally stopping in 1970. He remains one of the most popular characters of the series.

In 1987, Franquin decided to create his own publishing company, Marsu Production, and launched a spin-off comic about a family of marsupilamis, unrelated to Spirou's pet. They too started in Spirou and Fantasio, being the subject of a documentary within the series in the album Le nid des marsupilamis (The Marsupilamis' Nest). Mainly drawn by Franquin's assistant, Batem (Luc Collin), the series counts 22 albums in 2009 and is geared toward a younger readership than Spirou and Fantasio.

In 1992, a first Animated Adaptation was launched. Produced by Disney and aired originally as a segment on Raw Toonage, it only lasted a season and had little in common with the original, beside the name and the general appearance of the hero. The title Marsupilami could talk and was a laid-back smartass rather than a volatile Papa Wolf. All of the supporting cast was original. He was accompanied by his buddy, a big ape named Maurice, and met a lot of African animals. It was first aired on NBC Saturday Mornings. Then it was later reran on the Disney Channel and later, on Toon Disney.

A second cartoon was created in 2000 by a French production company. Much closer to the original than the Disney one in the first season, it was rechristened My Friend Marsupilami for the second season and centered upon a French human family that came to live in the middle of the Amazonian forest to study the marsupilamis.

In 2012, a French live-action movie, Sur la piste du Marsupilami (On the trail of the Marsupilami) was released. Loosely based on the Franquin comics, it tells the story of a French reporter and his guide, who stumble upon the legendary Marsupilami.

And yes, that's two characters, one comic, one film, two cartoons and a publishing house all named Marsupilami.


The Marsupilami provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Applied Phlebotinum: Is there anything the Marsupilamis' tails are not good for? They can use it as a lasso, as a fist, as a big spring they can jump on... In fact, the Marsupilami himself can be categorized as an Applied Phlebotinum in the Spirou series. How many times has he conveniently revealed New Powers as the Plot Demands?
  • Breakout Character: As explained above, the Marsupilami started out as the Team Pet of Spirou and Fantasio.
  • Badass: Marsu eats piranhas and killer ants, rips trees out of the ground, and punches out lions and crocodiles, to the point where he is the most feared creature in the jungle. Yeah, he qualifies. And he savagely beats up a martial arts master who he saw as a threat to his masters, the two of them stopping him just shortly before he killed him.
  • Banana Republic: The marsupilamis live in the jungles of Palombia, a Latin-American country with a chronically unstable government.
  • Cartoon Creature: The title characters.
  • Cartoony Tail: Of course.
  • Catchphrase: "Houba!" (the full phrase is "houba houba hop!"), present in both comic and animated series. Female marsupilamies go "Houbi!" and juveniles "Bi!" It's a big deal when they graduate to the adult versions. It's nearly the only syllables they can ever utter, although it depends on the material. Franquin's work on Spirou has the Marsupilami growling, roaring and making all sorts of noises beside "Houba!" He could even mimic human speech like a parrot, a trait rarely used in other adaptation. In the Disney series, His other phrase besides "HOUBA!" is "I'm Marsupilami, And this is my gorilla pal, Maurice!"
  • Distaff Counterpart: The Marsupilamie
  • Flower in Her Hair: The main Tertiary Sexual Characteristic of Marsupilamies.
  • Green Aesop: Destroying the Amazonian rainforest is bad, mmkay?
  • The Kiddie Ride: From the makers of the offensive Donald Duck ride, in the same offensive pose. Pass the Brain Bleach, please!
  • Natural Weapon: The Marsupilami's tail is as good as one.
  • Portmanteau: "Marsupilami" is one of the words "marsupial", Pilou-Pilou (the French name for Eugene the Jeep, a character Franquin loved as a kid) and "ami", French for "friend".

Tropes specific to the Marsupilami comics and the French cartoon:

  • Animal Talk: Very rare in the earlier albums — In Franquin's short comics, he would occasionally have animals make comments to one another for the sake of a gag, but this tendency vanished in the album series proper, and for the first twenty-odd albums it stayed that way (bar the odd parrot). In more recent albums, though, animals get a lot more dialogue, though the Marsupilamis are an exception: They're clearly communicating and usually you can get the general gist of what they're saying from context and body language, but their "houba" cries are never directly translated.
  • Ascended Extra: To some degree, the Marsupilami family themselves, since these particular Marsupilamis only appeared in one Spirou story, mainly to show that Spirou and Fantasio's Marsupilami wasn't the only one in existence. One recent Marsupilami comic reveals that Spirou and Fantasio's Marsupilami is in fact the brother of the Marsupilami from this comic.
    • Noé, the clown and animal tamer, was a one-shot character from a Spirou story who went on to be a recurring character in this comic.
  • The Chew Toy: Bring M. Backalive
  • Expy: Colin and Remi, the two journalists who house the Marsupilami family for a few albums, are pretty much Spirou and Fantasio with different looks and names.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Noé, the clown/animal tamer. While he is Not Good with People, he gets along famously with any and all animals.
  • Great White Hunter: Backalive only wishes he could be one.
  • Jungle Japes: The deep Palombian jungle where the Marsupilamis live.
  • Meaningful Name: Bring M. Backalive is a hunter whose obsession is to capture a living marsupilami. Counts as a Bilingual Bonus as well, for its French readers.
  • Papa Wolf: You do not wanna touch Marsu's babies. In fact, harming babies of any species, including human children, is a bad idea when he's around.
  • Panda-ing to the Audience: One adventure is about a baby panda.
  • Piranha Problem: Marsu eats them.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The baby marsupilamis, Bibu, Bibi and Bobo, especially in the animated series.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Bring M. Backalive, in his stories, swings between this and Villain Protagonist.

Tropes specific to the Disney cartoon:

  • Badly Battered Babysitter: Marsupilami and Maurice babysat the Three Baby Monkeys in the episode: "Hey, Hey, They're the Monkeys!"
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Maurice and Marsupilami respectively.
  • The Cameo: Disney had the character show up in commercial bumpers on The Disney Afternoon in the 1991-92 season, a year prior to the premiere of Raw Toonage.
  • Canon Immigrant: All the characters (besides Marsupilami) from the Disney series.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Marsupilami, sometimes leads to Snark-to-Snark Combat between him and Norman.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Maurice the gorilla.
  • Logo Joke: In the episode "Toucan Always Get What You want", Maurice grabs the Rainbow Tail Peacock of NBC-TV Network to hide himself from Eduardo as Marsupilami hides from a tree. note 
    Eduardo: I don't feel like no stinking bird today, My stomach craves the little spotted guy with the tail.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: The Disney series has this a lot.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • Shout-Out: In the Disney Series, Four jungle men who sound like The Beatles are based on the four cavemen from the classic Disney short Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom.
  • Sick Episode: Jungle Fever (where Marsupilami tries to cure Maurice from his cold).
  • The Speechless: Maurice from the Disney series, who grunts.
  • Talking Animal: In the Disney version, Marsupilami can talk and not just say "Houba!"
  • Voice Over Translation: In Russia, A Russian male voice actor translate the dialog and keeps the English soundtrack as background noises.
  • Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Norman, the Antagonist of the Disney series.