"The greatest fairy tale never told."
A CGI-animated tetralogy by Dreamworks Animation
loosely based on a 1990 book about an ogre in a fairy tale land who just wants to live in his swamp undisturbed, but is dragged against his will into fighting for the fate of entire kingdoms.
Overall there have been four movies:
Notorious for its humor, both witty and slapstick, for turning everything we knew from fairy tales upside-down, and for a ridiculously modern feel of its medieval fantasy setting. The first film's huge success (combined with it easily outdrawing the Disney Animated Canon
entry Atlantis The Lost Empire
, which opened a month later) convinced Dreamworks that 2D is dead, and scrapped their 2D films all together, "apologized" for them, and even convinced other executives in the same idea, paving the way for all films thereafter — it is unclear if 2D films will regain top priority again. Shrek
was the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Shrek
and its sequels are Dreamworks' defining hits, "Fiona's Theme" plays during the studio's Vanity Plate
in all their animated films now, and the character of Shrek is now their unofficial mascot.
Other works in the Shrek franchise include:
- Shrek The Musical: a stage musical that opened on Broadway in 2008.
- Puss in Boots (2011): an "ogre-less" film set before the events of Shrek 2, which chronicles the backstory of Puss in Boots.
There is also a Christmas Special
, Shrek the Halls
, and a Halloween Special
, Scared Shrekless
. Universal Studios
features Shrek 4D
(titled as The Ghost of Lord Farquaad
on some video releases), which is set immediately after Shrek and Fiona's wedding and details a ghostly Lord Farquaad's attempt to get Fiona back. Finally, there's an extensive series of tie-in games
of varying quality
A fifth film is being planned according to Jeffrey Katzenberg, as the series was originally planned to be a Pentalogy. The company has yet to officially announce what it will be about or who will be involved.
Now has a fledgling character sheet
and a Fanfic recs page
The series as a whole commonly provides examples of the following tropes:
- Cultural Translation: The Polish dub of the Shrek movies are full of Polish pop-culture references. For example Donkey sings the theme song of a Polish TV drama when Shrek decides to go to the Potion Factory in Shrek 2. Donkey also generates much Actor Allusion to the known actor voicing him.
- Cute Kitten: Repeatedly invoked by Puss-In-Boots, using his cute kitten eyes.
- Cute Monster Girl: Fiona. Considering how much she resembles her mother, Felicia looks likely to grow up to be one of these too.
- Dark Reprise: The Duloc puppet song in Scared Shrekless, which manages to be less creepy than the original (though Gingy would say otherwise).
- Dance Party Ending: All the Shrek films love this trope. Taken to even greater levels in the DVD releases, which include bonus 'dance party' epilogues such as the first film's 'Swamp Karaoke Party' and the second's parody of American Idol.
- Deadpan Snarker: Shrek, big time. Often lost on Donkey, much to his irritation.
- Rumpelstiltskin in the fourth movie, soooo much.
- Deconstruction: Of the entire Fairy Tale genre. The Ogre is the hero, the nobleman is a Prince Charmless, and the princess grows out of her dependence on stereotypes and settles happily into the life of an ogress. She also knows martial arts. And that's just from one movie.
- Disney Creatures of the Farce:
- Fiona looks like she'll have a typical 'Snow White' moment... but the bird explodes because she hit a high note (or rather, missed the high note). She then cooks its eggs for breakfast.
- Snow White herself starts to have a 'Snow White' moment in the third movie. She then sends the mob of animals she gathered charging after some guards, by changing her la-la-ing into Immigrant Song.
- Dissimile: Shrek's attempted "Ogres are like onions" simile in the first film.
- Distressed Damsel: Subverted with Fiona, lampshaded with the other Fairytale Princesses.
- Double Entendre:
- The running gag in the first movie — "Do you think maybe he's compensating for something?" Kids think it refers to his height. Adults think it refers to his... length.
- The constant use of the word "ass" to mean a literal donkey but in phrases where it usually means the human buttocks. "Nobody likes a kissass." "I have to save my ass." "You still look like an ass to me."
- Dragon Hoard: Dragon sleeps on-top of a mountain of treasure. She doesn't seem that bothered by the collection of treasure in the sequels, though.
- Dub Name Change: In some languages that don't have an equivalent for the word "ogre", Shrek gets a Dub Species Change and is a "troll" instead. Curiously averted in the Dutch version, where "ogre" became "oger".
- Everything's Better with Sparkles: The crew called them Disney Sparkles.
- The Evil Prince: Prince Charming in Shrek the Third.
- Expressive Ears: Many characters have these.
- Face-Heel Turn: The whole series is about this - stereotypically bad characters turning into heroes and secondary heroes, dropping their facades of jerkishness and so on.
- Fairy in a Bottle: They're used for lights.
- Fantasy Counterpart Appliance: The Magic Mirror doubles as a television set.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Modern-day America.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink
- Fartillery: Shrek jumps into a pond, naked, and farts. three fish in the pond who died from the fart rise up and Shrek smirks as he takes one of the fart-killed fish out of the pond.
- Flippant Forgiveness: "All right, Donkey. I forgive you...for stabbing me in the back!"
- Follow the Leader: Several other fractured fairytale- based films, such as Hoodwinked, Chicken Little and Happily Never After.
- Fractured Fairy Tale
- Friend to All Living Things: Two of them, both parodied.
- Gasshole: Shrek, Fiona, and to all appearances, all ogres.
- Genre Savvy: "This is the part where you run away."
- Gentle Giant: Shrek, kind of.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: All Dreamworks films are fond of this.
- Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have: Fiona's mother looks pretty good for being in, presumably, her sixties. And if the we go off what the Fairy Godmother looks like now, one can only imagine how attractive she must have looked in her younger years
- Gratuitous French: Robin Hood, who ,despite being a British folklore character, speaks with a French accent for no particular reason.
- Gratuitous Spanish: Puss in Boots.
- The Grinch: Shrek in Shrek the Halls.
- Groin Attack: Happens to Shrek once a movie.
- Hair Flip: Prince Charming does this on multiple occasions.
- Half Empty Two Shot: Used twice to show how alone Shrek and Fiona feel after their big fight. Fiona is shown sitting at an otherwise unoccupied table, with the table in the center of the shot. This is immediately followed by Shrek sitting at his table, on the opposite side (from the camera's perspective).
- Happily Married: It's not always smooth sailing, but Shrek and Fiona definitely love each other. The same goes for Donkey and Dragon.
- Headless Horseman: One of the patrons of the Poisoned Apple in the second film, and part of Charming's army of villains in the third.
- He also got a DUI during the second movie. Shrek and Co. plow into him while he's taking a field sobriety test. Touching the nose he doesn't have.
- The Hermit: Shrek in the first film, due to society's views of ogres.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Fiona.
- High On Catnip: In Shrek 2, guards capture Shrek and friends and one finds a bag of catnip on Puss-In-Boots' person. Puss denies that it's his.
- Hollywood Kiss: Shrek and Fiona.
- Horseback Heroism: Spoofed with Prince Charming.
- Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Donkey and Dragon, which leads to some of the most adorable mutant babies in film history.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Shrek & human!Fiona in the first film and inverted with Dragon & Donkey, Fiona & Farquaad. The second has Charming and his mum, inverted with Harold and Lillian even BEFORE he's changed back...
- Still as both ogres or humans, Fiona is quite petite compared to Shrek.
- I Just Want to Have Friends: Which is partly why Donkey follows Shrek around.
Donkey: (Singing) But you gotta have friends...!
- It's hinted that Shrek wants this too, but his hermit persona hides it, because deep down he has realized he can never have friends, thus at least requiring privacy.
- Iconic Sequel Character: Puss in Boots was introduced on the second film, and became popular enough to get his own movie.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Frequent from Shrek, but Donkey never gets them. Also a lot of the names of shops.
- Informed Attractiveness: Shrek when he becomes a human in the second film. He's definitely handsome, but not quite at the level where every female characters start fawning over him.
- Interspecies Romance: Donkey and Dragon. Also Queen Lillian and King Harold in 2. And, depending on which you think Fiona's original race is (human or ogre), her relationship with Shrek may or may not be this.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Although this has become attributed to DreamWorks movies in general. See the picture on the trope page.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Dragon likes to pull the Big Damn Heroics.
- Insult Friendly Fire: Particularly in the first film - Shrek is crushed to hear Fiona asking Donkey who could love a "hideous beast". He only finds out that Fiona was talking about herself later.
- I Taste Delicious: In a recent advertising campaign.
- Jerkass: Lord Farquaad in Shrek and Lancelot as well as his friends in Shrek the Third.
- It becomes revealed after her first scene that Fairy Godmother herself without a single doubt is.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Shrek.
- Snow White in Third seems stubborn and lazy, but is genuinely loyal.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Charming and Lancelot, both subverted.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Shrek is crude, hot-tempered and cynical, but nearly always manages to do the right thing, especially for people (and donkeys) that have proven they're able to see past the idea of "big, stupid, ugly ogres".
- Lady and Knight: Subverted.
- Large Ham:
- Lord Farquaad and Prince Charming also have their moments (Charming especially during the climax of Shrek the Third: "With soft and bouncy haaaaaaaaiiiiiiir!")
- Puss in Boots has his moments. Witness this immortal line from the fourth movie: "Feed Me...if you dare!"
- A non-talking example in Shrek 2: As a troupe of trumpeters from Far Far Away make their grand entrance into Shrek and Fiona's swamp, concluding their performance as they reach Shrek's hut, one of the trumpeters within the troupe decides to continue on, giving an over-the-top, show-stopping performance that sounds like the Hawaii Five-O theme that leaves Shrek, Fiona and Donkey confused and the herald that has an invitation for the two quite clearly annoyed.
- Larynx Dissonance: Larry King and Regis Philbin as Evil Stepsisters. Yes, these two.
- Licensed Pinball Table: Released by Stern Pinball, it is based on the first three films, and was a rethemed Family Guy game. Click here for details.
- Lost in Translation: In some versions, like the norwegian one, Shrek is called a "troll". This is because of there not being an equivalent to the word "ogre" in their vocabularies.
- Magitek: Shrek's magical TV-mirror, among many other examples.
- Man Child: Prince Charming in Shrek 2.
- Massive Multiplayer Crossover
- Match Cut: A number of complex CGI-aided examples.
- Meaningful Name:
- "Shrek" is the Yiddish word for "monster", derived from the German word "Schreck", meaning "terror" or "fright".
- Also, "Farquaad" is a slightly-slurred mispronunciation of an obscene term for an unpleasant person.
- This one gets a lampshade in a FoxTrot comic, where Paige tries to convince Peter (who works at the theater) to let her into the movie for free. She starts describing the cast ("Shrek and Fiona and the evil Prince..."); Peter interrupts, saying there's no way he'll let her do that, and in the last panel she finishes her sentence ("...Farquaad.") while shooting him a death glare.
- Farquaad was actually named after one of the quadrangles in Notre Dame University, where many of the filmmakers graduated - allusions to it can be found throughout the movies. The quadrangle was situated far away, i.e. a "far quad".
- Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Shrek both uses and subverts this trope. On the one hand, he turns out to have a heart of gold. On the other hand, he's still an ogre, and proud of it.
- The Mockbuster: Not one of the movies themselves (though it wouldn't be surprising if one was floating around), but the characters star in Gameloft's iOS game Shrek Kart.
- The Napoleon: Lord Farquaad in Shrek.
- Neutral Female: Subverted.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Farquaad inadvertently greatly upset the plans of all three villains who came after him by sending Shrek to rescue Fiona.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed:
- Non-Human Sidekick: Technically, Shrek himself is non-human, but Donkey and Puss qualify nonetheless.
- Non Sequitur Thud: After the Queen headbutts her second wall.
- Numbered Sequels: Played with for the third and fourth ones.
- Odd Couple: Shrek and Donkey, later Shrek and Fiona, and later still Shrek and Arthur.
- Odd Name Out: According to Word of God, the dronkeys' names are Eclair, Bananas, Peanut, Parfait, Coco and... Debbie...
- Official Couple: Shrek and Fiona.
- Precision F-Strike: Notably for a kids' film - Donkey's "Chicks dig that romantic crap!" in the first movie.
- Prince Charmless: Prince Charming in Shrek 2.
- Psychopathic Man Child: Prince Charming in Shrek the Third.
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Puss-in-Boots. Spoofed in the third film when Puss tries this while in Donkey's body and fails to do anything.
- Redhead In Green: Fiona. The fact that at the end of the first movie she becomes an ogress permanently and gains green skin as well doesn't help matters.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Donkey.
- Sapient Steed: Donkey! Who only functions as a steed for half of the second movie and a part of the fourth, but still.
- Schizo Tech
- Sequel Reset: The first movie ended with Happily Ever After, but the sequels have been putting that off ever since. The second film reveals there was in fact an actual Prince Charming that was supposed to break the curse on Fiona, and that her royal parents are still around; the action picks up after the lovers' honeymoon as they're forced to meet her parents, causing another go-round of problems regarding Shrek's self-esteem. The amusing new characters as well as ones who got expanded roles helped mitigate this for audiences, but reaction to the third film (where Shrek now has to get out of being king if he ever hopes to live out his life in the swamp, and the loose end of 2 involving Prince Charming's fate is brought up) suggests the formula is wearing thin. And the fourth movie does a total reset with time travel.
- Serkis Folk: The entire cast.
- Shutting Up Now
- Shout-Out: Lots of them, mostly to Disney, though the giant gingerbread man is named "Mongo" as a tribute to Blazing Saddles and there's a lot to other fantasy stories and films.
- The sequel numbering of the first three films reference Blackadder. Shrek Goes Forth was actually a working title for the fourth film.
- Left the Background Music On: This happens 3 times in Shrek the Third. The first is when the music during the king's funeral turns out to be singing frogs. The second is when Shrek and Artie are about to have a heart-to-heart talk, and Merlin turns on the music for mood. Finally, the dramatic music during a fight scene is actually Captain Hook playing on the piano.
- Inverted, kinda, in Shrek 2. The Fairy Godmother starts singing "Holding Out for a Hero", then the dramatic rescue begins, with the song as BGM. But she's still singing throughout as it switches between dance and rescue.
- The Christmas Special Shrek the Halls does with a sound effect: the "squealing kettle" noise that accompanies Shrek losing his temper is revealed to be an actual squealing kettle.
- It even shows up in the original film: When Shrek's rescued Fiona and the group is journeying back to Lord Farquaad's castle, they get waylaid by Robin Hood. Cue fight scene. A lively accordion piece quickly starts up, holds a note during a Matrix-style Orbital Shot (where (mostly) everything stops in place), and stops again as Fiona knocks out Friar Tuck, who was playing the instrument.
- The first film also has Fiona's Theme playing while Farquaad is admiring Fiona's image. It then turns out the music is coming from the Magic Mirror itself.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: King Harold in Shrek 2 has a good example of a non-death Heroic Sacrifice, as he throws himself in the path of the Fairy Godmother's wand to save Shrek and Fiona. The result is that his previous 'happy ending' is removed and he is turned back to the frog he was. But he's still alive at the end of the movie, and his wife doesn't mind his being a frog at all. Unfortunately, within the first act of Shrek the Third, King Harold, well, croaks.
- Summon Backup Dancers: The furniture song in Shrek 2.
- Tag Along Kid: Donkey.
- Take That: Some see the film as Jeffrey Katzenberg's Take That to Disney, after being fired.
- The Genie Knows Jack Nicholson: Explains why Hooters can exist in a pseudo-fairy tale environment, as well as a vast majority of the Schizo Tech.
- Those Two Guys: Puss and Donkey, Shrek's two hangers-on.
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Fiona and Farquaard, before she marries Shrek.
- Torches and Pitchforks: In the opening scene of Shrek, the ogre is obviously used to angry mobs coming to drive him out of his hut, as he easily scares one of them off, even prompting them at one point, "This is the part where you run." He later hangs a lampshade on it when speaking to Donkey.
Shrek: I'm an ogre! You know, 'Grab your torch and pitchfork!' Doesn't that bother you?
- Also lampshaded in the sequel, when Shrek and Fiona step out of their carriage in Far Far Away and are revealed to be ogres. Shrek sees some pitchforks in the crowd and gets nervous, commenting "Let's go before they light the torches."
- And in the fourth movie, Shrek and family are celebrities, so people mob now to ask him to sign their torches and pitchforks.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Donkey loves waffles, which is based on an off-hand comment from the first film. Also, parfaits.
- True Beauty Is on the Inside
- True Love's Kiss: Subverted twice.
- The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: A rare gender reversal with the stout, homely looking Fairy Godmother being mother to the handsome Prince Charming.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Famously averted with Shrek and Fiona; parodied with Donkey and Dragon. Cos she breathes fire, geddit?
- Ugly Hero, Good-Looking Villain: This trope is used in the first two movies: While Lord Farquaad isn't exactly good looking, he does play upon Shrek's ugliness to try to incite villagers against him. The second provides a better example, with the Fairy Godmother and her son Charming as good-looking villains opposing Shrek.
- Villain Song: Shrek subverts it every way it can. The main villain of Shrek 2 gets not one, but two songs: The first one is the self-titled "Fairy Godmother Song", a cheerful upbeat ditty about how she wants to help everyone; the second comes complete with an ominous orchestra and backing choir... except the song in question is "Holding Out for a Hero".
- Prince Charming also gets a song in Shrek the Third, set to a musical that was set up as an excuse to publicly execute Shrek. Lord Farquaad didn't have a bona fide villain "song" (except in The Musical), but he has a menacing leitmotif in the first movie, played upon his first appearance.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: From Pinocchio in Scared Shrekless, all over Shrek, no less.
- Yandere: The Bride of Gingy in Scared Shrekless.
- You Didn't Ask
Other Shrek media provides examples of:
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