The Adventures of Tintin, originally titled The Adventures of Tintin and Snowy, is a seminal Belgian comic series and has had considerable influence on the development of graphic narratives in Europe and around the world.Briefly, Tintin was invented by Georges Remi (AKA Hergé, from his initials backwards, R.G., spelt phonetically in French) as a cartoon character for Le Petit Vingtième, the children's supplement to Le Vingtième Siècle (The Twentieth Century), a conservative, Catholic newspaper in Belgium. The character was developed from Totor, a boy scout character Hergé had previously drawn for Le Boy-Scout Belge. When the German occupation ended the publication of Le Vingtième Siècle, the feature moved to the Brussels daily Le Soir, where it became a daily newspaper strip until the Liberation in 1944. After World War 2 Tintin appeared in the new weekly comic magazine Tintin. The series ran from 1929 to 1976; the incomplete Tintin and Alph-Art was released in 1986 after Hergé's death.Most of the adventures concerned the (eternally) young hero investigating some event or trying to do someone a good turn and, as a result, falling into adventure. The adventures range from thwarting criminals to treasure hunts, from spy stories to a voyage to the moon.The real world frequently impinges upon the stories, with many identifiable events from real life being presented with only a few slight changes of name, for example the Grand Chapo (real life, Gran Chaco) war in The Broken Ear, and the Sino-Japanese war in The Blue Lotus. World War II was hinted at less as Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. In this period, Hergé's stories are fanciful high-adventure yarns with no reference to war at all.The third Indiana Jones film's story was adapted from a Tintin script Steven Spielberg was writing.There were two animated series:
In the 1960s, a Télé-Hachette and Belvision production
In the early 1990s, a French-Canadian series (coproduced by Ellipse and Nelvana)
...four animated films...:
The Crab With The Golden Claws (1947)
Tintin and the Sun Temple (1969), by Belvision and made from the combined storyline of The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun.
Tintin and the Lake of Sharks (1972), by Belvision with an original storyline.
Tintin and the Golden Fleece (1961), with an original storyline. Starred Jean-Pierre Talbot as Tintin.
Tintin and the Blue Oranges (1964), also an original storyline. A plot based on French poet Paul Eluard's line "Earth is blue like an orange".
...as well as:...two radio series by the BBC in 1992-93, a Dutch musical in 2001, a theatre adaptation of Tintin in Tibet in 2007/2008, and a French documentary series Sur les traces de Tintin in 2010, which recaps the stories while mixing comic panels with live-action imagery and providing lots of commentary.A Recap page for the individual stories is under construction here.
Bianca Castafiore gets people's names wrong, especially Haddock's
Often Haddock gets his own back by referring to her as "Castoroili", or (behind her back) "Catastrofiore".
"The name's Harrock, ma'am. Captain Harrock'n'roll!"
There's also a Running Gag about Marlinspike Hall receiving phone calls intended for a "Mr. Cutts the butcher", due to a similarity in phone numbers.
Actor Allusion: Of sorts. Professor Calculus' look is based on Professor Auguste Piccard, famous physicist and balloonist at the University of Brussels. When Bianca Castafiore is introduced to Calculus she mistakes him for a famous balloonist.
The Ace: This was Tintin's original character concept.
Adaptation Distillation: The Nelvana from The Nineties animated series is considered of superior quality to the Belvision series and more well known nowadays. It's also often well known because it would sometimes air on Nick Jr. or Nickelodeon. How many cartoons would teach the kids about drug-smuggling?
Adaptation Expansion: The Belvision animation adaptations added more plot elements, some of them which could actually be considered an improvement to the original stories, such as the Bird brothers returning to interfere with the Red Rackham treasure hunt.
Calculus: I can see our hosts have a true sense of hospitality. That's what I just said to him... And he entirely agrees with me. Haddock: WHO agrees with you? And about WHAT?! Calculus: Exactly, and what's more, he'll tell you so himself! Tintin: Buenos dias, Captain!
Animated Adaptation: Two animated series, as noted above, as well as the spin-off film The Lake of Sharks. Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson's new trilogy is a computer-animated adaptation.
Art Evolution: It's especially obvious with the first two, but you can spot some from The Blue Lotus onwards, wherein his art became less caricaturish. Originally this was a gradual change, but readers of the color editions are unlikely to notice much of a difference, because Hergé eventually went back and redrew all the volumes except Soviets.
Artistic License - Biology: While Herge usually did his research, once he made a blatant mistake: Tintin, the captain and Skut are shipwrecked on the ocean, and Tintin suggests that they drink sea water to survive. Yes, Tintin, who usually knows everything. And to make things worse, the captain only objects to the taste, not the fact that drinking salt water would only make them more thirsty. Haddock of all people should know this due to being an experienced sailor. However, they do refer to the studies Dr. Alain Bombard did on a sea water diet so it may just be that Science Marches On.
In The Broken Ear, Hergé drew the bananas on a banana tree upside-down.
Asian Speekee Engrish: Mitsuhirato talks like this, notable because he follows all the Japanese stereotypes - buck teeth, glasses, big ears, untrustworthy, uses bad pronunciation - in a comic series that is notable for being very ahead of its time in terms of racial attitudes (well, except that one nobody ever mentions). The Crab with the Golden Claws has a distinctly more PC portrayal of the Japanese, as Bunji Kuraki from Yokohama is a key character there, 100% on the side of justice.
As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Many of the made-up languages like Bordurian and Arumbaya are actually phonetic renditions of a local Belgian patois, completely indecipherable even to some Belgians.
Author Avatar: Tintin was originally created to embody the qualities Herge most admired, although in later years he came to identify more with Haddock - in particular Haddock had Herge's dress sense and love of the sea, and his ability to lose his temper and really let rip with his feelings was something the timid Herge wished he could do.
Author Existence Failure: Hergé died partway through his work on Tintin and Alph-Art; the unfinished draft has been published as part of the regular series of Tintin albums.
It was planned to feature an international sect led by Rastapopulous, who survived somehow (according to recently found drafts) whom Castafiore joins, and its infamous last drawn panel (Page 52) has a vicious Cliff Hanger where Tintin is going to be turned alive into a Glass Statue.
Author Phobia: Author Hergé was forced to listen to his aunt singing opera arias when he was a child. It led to a strong dislike of opera music, exemplified in the character Bianca Castafiore, whose singing usually scares away Tintin and Haddock or makes glass break.
Badass Bookworm: Although he is a short, wiry reporter without muscles, Tintin is rarely (if ever) bested in a fair fight, even when his enemy is twice his size. He is also an excellent shot. During his visit to America he single-handedly laid waste to crowds. During his visit to India he subdued an attacking tiger and restrained it in a straitjacket despite being caught by surprise. During his visit to Russia he killed a bear with his bare hands. And in China he took on three burly prison guards at once and sent all three of them to the hospital. It has been stated that he has at least a working knowledge of judo and western boxing.
Professor Calculus is also a force to be reckoned with when he is enraged, most notably in Flight 714 where Carreidas makes the mistake of arousing his ire and it then takes two men to subdue him.
Bad Habits: The bad guy in Congo dresses as a missionary to get Tintin's trust.
Banana Republic: San Theodoros, Nuevo Rico and Sao Rico. In Tintin and the Picaros, it is even stated that General Alcazar's titular faction is financed by a...banana company.
Banned in China: Surprisingly averted with Tintin in Tibet, likely because it's politically neutral. Played straight in a number of markets when publishing Tintin in the Congo, however...
Red Sea Sharks is specifically banned from importation in Egypt, and only Egypt, for political correctness issues. Both its comic and animated versions, along with those of those for L'Or Noir and Tintin in Congo were skipped as well from the Arabic dubs, although they are still available in markets in their original versions.
There were a number of historical examples too. The Black Island and Tintin in America were banned in Nazi Germany due to the perception that they were sympathetic to Britain and America, respectively. Of course, the Nazi censors were not too thorough in analyzing which books to ban, as they did not ban King Ottokar's Sceptre, which involves the hero undermining a fascist coup.
Bears Are Bad News: Tintin has an unfortunate encounter with bears in Destination Moon. At first, he is covered with cuddly bear cubs who want to get their paws on his lunch (sandwiches with honey), but he goes Oh Crap when he sees the mean-looking parents coming.
Because You Were Nice to Me: A number of characters adopt this attitude towards Tintin — most notably Captain Haddock (though he'd never say it outright).
Captain Haddock's difficulties with sticking plaster in The Calculus Affair are briefly referenced in Flight 714.
In Destination Moon, Thompson/Thomson believe there to be a skeleton sneaking around the moon project, due to a misunderstanding involving an x-ray machine. In Explorers on the Moon, when The Mole has been revealed and is being interrogated, they break in with a vital question: "The skeleton, Wolff. Was that you?"
King Muskar XII of Syldavia, who is inexplicably absent from later stories involving that country, even when his appearance would be expected (Destination Moon and/or Explorers on the Moon) or useful (The Calculus Affair). This is possibly a reflection of Real Life politics in Eastern Europe before and after WWII: Former monarchies were replaced with communist governments.
The Maharajah of Gaipajama never shows up nor is referred to again after The Blue Lotus.
Busman's Holiday: These guys can't go anywhere without falling into adventure. This was lampshaded in Cigars of the Pharaoh when Tintin said "This was supposed to be my vacation."
In the original French, Captain Haddock's catchphrases were "Tonnerre de Brest!" and "Mille sabords!" (literally, "Thunder of Brest!" and "A thousand portholes!").
In the Dutch translations, Captain Haddock's full catchphrase was "Honderdduizend bommen en granaten!" (literally, "A hundred thousand bombs and grenades!").
Even the German one can be re-translated nicely into Hundred thousand howling hounds of hell!
And in each translation, the phrase can be extended indefinitely, giving rise to such beauties as "Billions of bilious blue boiled and barbecued barnacles!" or "Mille milliards de mille millions de mille sabords!"
The Thompsons' catchphrase is for one of them to state something and then the other to say "To be precise:" and repeat it, but often not quite get it right. For example:
Thompson: You forget, my friend, in our job there's nothing we don't know!
Thomson: To be precise: we know nothing in our job!
Another catchphrase of theirs is for one of them to say they have to be secretive about what they're currently investigating ("Mum's the word"), the other to repeat it but say "Dumb's the word", instead, and then for them to inadvertently let slip what it is to Tintin anyway in an I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You fashion.
In the original French, Calculus is known for his use of "sapristi!" and "saperlipopette!"
In fact, Snowy (in the original Belgian) is named Milou, which was the name of the teenage girl to whom the teenage Herge lost his virginity. Since he obviously couldn't give Tintin a girlfriend because of the awkward questions that it may raise, Milou became a male dog.
Cerebus Syndrome: The first two Tintin adventures (Tintin in the Land of the Soviets and Tintin in the Congo) are outright comedies where the action is often completely surreal and played for laughs (for instance Tintin killing a rhino by drilling into its hide and dropping in a stick of dynamite). The third adventure (Tintin in America) was transitional with a lot of off-the-wall comedy still mixing with the plot before the series finally found its familiar mood of realistic action-adventure with Cigars of the Pharaoh. There was still comedy but it was far more down-to-earth and character-driven.
The Thompson and Thomson duo provided a bit of slapstick but weren't comedically incompetent in their first appearance in Cigars of the Pharaoh, later on they become the main source of slapstick and visual humour in the series.
Tintin himself was very cruel to animals and condescending to natives in his earliest adventures, in contrast to his more humane attitude in the rest of the series.
Character Signature Song: Bianca Castafiore is usually seen and heard performing the Jewel aria from Charles Gounod's opera "Faust".
Cliffhanger: Lots! Especially during the period when the stories appeared in newspapers. Hergé was a firm proponent of the "suspense en bas de page", stating that each page should end in a cliffhanger. It was later (lovingly) lampooned by humoristic authors of the French/Belgian school.
Clingy MacGuffin: The piece of sticking plaster in The Calculus Affair. When Captain Haddock tosses it off, it sticks to someone else, who in turn shakes it off. And so it goes all over the bus, before coming to the Captain's cap. It then follows him aboard the plane, eventually makes its way to the cockpit (causing the pilots to momentarily lose control), lands on the Captain again by the end of the flight, is thrown away at the police station, only to return yet again on the captain's clothes in the hotel room!!
Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Professor Calculus in Red Rackham's Treasure. In the other books, they toned it down considerably.
Cold War: Syldavia and Borduria are used as a No Real Countries Were Harmed version of this. And, of course, the real thing was going on in the background.
Continuity Nod: Several in the books, a number of which were cut from the animated version.
Contrived Coincidence: These happen constantly. A classic example occurs in Cigars of the Pharaoh: as it turns out, the gang which Tintin has been tracking down is based in India. At this stage Tintin has not had any inkling of an Indian connection, but when he makes his escape by plane from an Arabian town he fortuitously chooses to fly in that direction, and crash-lands right outside the town where they have their headquarters. In India.
Lampshaded in The Red Sea Sharks, in which Tintin and Haddock go and see a film which, coincidentally, stars Tintin's friend General Alcazar under a pseudonym. Haddock complains about how contrived the coincidences in the film seemed, shortly before bumping into Alcazar himself in the street.
A Crack In The Ice: In Tintin in Tibet, Tintin falls into a crevasse during a blinding snowstorm. He climbs his way out two hours later, after having found in the ice cave below a stone on which Chang had carved his name.
America in Tintin in America. Crime runs rampant, and meat producers put dogs, cats and rats in the meat.
The Soviet Union in Tintin in the Land of the Soviets.
Creator Breakdown: Tintin in Tibet, though it ended up being one of his best stories anyway. See the Heartwarming page.
Creator Cameo: Several brief scenes. He never says or does anything besides sometimes drawing on a sketch pad. He's also apparently Tintin's neighbor in this version of the stories, as his name appears on the mailbox next to Tintin's in their apartment building.
Crushing Handshake: Tintin and Captain Haddock get their hands crushed upon meeting a Boisterous Bruiser type archeologist. It's noted that he's not being competitive or mean spirited, he just has a very strong grip.
Culture Equals Costume: The Thompsons' 'disguises', are the worst possible mismatches that can ever be considered for camouflage, since they are in the habit of travelling through countries in ludicrously outdated/sterotypical traditional costume.
Nowhere more hilarious than The Blue Lotus, where they come wearing 17th century Manchu era clothes, complete with pigtails and fans!
Thompson: [with nearly the entire town parading behind them laughing] Don't look now, but something tells me we're being followed.
In Destination: Moon they even wear costumes from the wrong country:
Thomson: Greek costumes? But we specifically ordered the tailor to make us Syldavian ones...
Death Glare: Captain Haddock attempts one on a llama. Unfortunately for him, it counters by chewing his beard off.
Deconstruction: The Castafiore Emerald, Flight 714, and Tintin and the Picaros are deconstructions of the series in general.
The Castafiore Emerald is a intentional Random Events Plot where Tintin and Haddock stay at Marlinspike Hall for nearly the entirety of the story. It's full of anticlimaxes such as how Haddock's attempt to escape Castafiore by going to Italy is foiled by an accident, the Roma community plight is immediately solved by Haddock’s generosity, Haddock never has the chance to make An Aesop about tolerance because of little distractions and the emerald’s thief turned to be a harmless magpie.
Flight 714 has Tintin and Haddock involved by a Contrived Coincidence into a plot to blackmail a millionaire, recurring villains Rastapopoulus and Allan suffer intentional Villain Decay by being depicted as ridiculous and stupid, all of them would have died in an eruption but are saved by aliens, and only Snowy remembers how they were rescued. For everyone else, it was a Shaggy Dog Story.
Dem Bones: The Thompsons suspect a living skeleton is hanging around in Destination Moon because they saw each other through an X-ray panel and they end up arresting a real (non-living) skeleton in a doctor's office. Much later in Explorers on the Moon, they interrupt Wolff's dramatic interrogation by asking him "vital questions": "The skeleton, Wolff. Was that you?" and "To be precise, were you the Wolff, Skeleton?"
Deus ex Machina: All the time, though much more predominant in the first three books than later on, as they were defined by their episodic format and reliance on CliffHangers. This ranges from jumping off of a cliff to find a ledge to having the mooks mistakenly use knockout gas instead of poison gas. Hergé used to say "I was often thinking all the week about the way I could get Tintin out of the trap I had thrown him into on previous Wednesday".
Many of the comics written in The Thirties reflected the many political upheavals that the world was going through at the time, giving the general feeling of Gathering Storm leading up to World War II. The political references ended when the Nazis invaded Belgium and the comics were subject to censorship, at which point they became largely escapist adventure stories.
The Blue Lotus provides a thinly-veiled account of the Mukden Incident and the Japanese invasion of Manchuria.
King Ottakar's Sceptre has a fascist-sounding group called the Iron Guard planning on overthrowing the government of an Eastern European monarchy. And their leader is called Müsstler.
As a later example, San Theodoros, a South American country whose main political officers (e.g. the Bordurian Colonel Sponsz) are all from a European dictatorship led by a man with a mustache and delusions of grandeur. Hmmmmm, where haveI seen that before?
Doesn't Like Guns: Tintin, although he doesn't hesitate to use them where necessary, and is very proficient.
Doting Parent: Emir Mohammed Ben Kalish Ezab of Khemed is this to his son, Abdullah. He even threatens to cancel Arabair's flight route to his country, and expose their owner's involvement in slave trading, because they refused to heed his son's request... to have Arabair planes perform aerobatics before landing in Khemed.
The Dragon: Allan (his last name was Thompson in the French version) to Omar Ben Salaad (initially) and Rastapopoulos later.
Dream Sequence: Many and surreal! Sometimes scary, other times amusing moments - sometimes both at the same time...
Tintin's name is the same in the original French, but pronounced differently, but is known as Kuifje (lit. 'little quiff') in Dutch and Tim in German.
Thompson & Thomson's names are generally real names in the relevant language with a difference of only a letter or two between them.
French: Dupond & Dupont.
Dutch: Janssen & Jansen.
German: Schulze and Schultze.
Spanish: Hernandez y Fernandez (also used in Basque).
Afrikaans: Uys & Buys.
Snowy was originally Milou in French, after an ex-girlfriend of Hergé's, and becomes Struppi in German and Bobbie in Dutch.
Calculus's original name is Tournesol, or "Sunflower" — the English translators decided that this sounded silly and gave him a Punny Name instead. He's called Zonnebloem in Dutch, which also means Sunflower.
Tournesol's first name Tryphon alliterates with his surname and has long gone out of fashion. This pattern tends to be emulated in most translations, thus it's Cuthbert Calculus in English, Balduin Bienlein in German, Teofilus Tuhatkauno in Finnish. In Dutch it is Trifonius Zonnebloem though.
Snowy can talk and Tintin can understand him in Tintin in the Land of Soviets, Tintin in the Congo and Tintin in America. As for a long time the third one was the only one of the three available in print, and it only happens in a few panels, it seems all the more a Big Lipped Alligator Moment.
The Thompsons are quite competent in their first appearance in Cigars of the Pharaoh. Their comedic ineptitude seems to set in as soon as they go over to Tintin's side.
Easily Forgiven: Tintin never mentions the fact that General Alcazár tried to have him executed in The Broken Ear in any of their subsequent encounters. Yes, he was set up, but Tintin didn't know that.
Both inverted and subverted in Red Rackham's Treasure, Haddock almost gets his hand bitten off by a shark and then we discover the famous shark submarine designed by Calculus. Later Tintin ventures underwater in his seadiving suit and has to face a shark who swallows a valuable chest and then the rum bottle that Tintin had been using as a Improvised Weapon.
Likewise, the Lake of Sharks animated movie (although this wasn't written by Hergé) only features one shark, which is seen in an aquarium tank at the very beginning of the movie.
Evil Colonialist: The villains of several stories, specially the ones set in Africa, Middle East and China.
Eviler than Thou: Between Rastapopoulos and Carreidas in Flight 714 while they are under the effect of the truth serum.
Evil Twin: in King Ottokar's Scepter, Alembick's twin brother takes his place to steal the sceptre.
Executive Meddling: The earliest adventures, which appear out of place when one knows the entire series, were the product of Hergé just doing what he was told by his boss at Le Petit Vingtième, the Abbé Norbert Wallez, who was quite intent on using the comic strip as propaganda. After the first adventure, Hergé wanted to send Tintin to America immediately because he really wanted to write about Indians. Abbé Wallez however insisted he first write a story that would encourage readers to emigrate to the Belgian Congo. Wallez also liked to meddle in the private lives of his employees, setting up Hergé with his secretary and officiating at their wedding!
The Black Island was completely redrawn and In the Land of Black Gold redrawn and rewritten on the insistence of Tintin's British publishers Methuen.
Framed for Heroism: In The Crab with the Golden Claws, Captain Haddock charges a whole band of desert raiders alone. They flee, and he believes for a moment that they did because they were scared of him. In fact, reinforcements were arriving behind him.
Franchise Zombie: author Hergé eventually got quite tired of writing Tintin's adventures.
Frothy Mugs of Water: Averted; Haddock is shown drinking whiskey and characters are frequently shown being intoxicated.
Full Body Disguise: Done in The Broken Ear, where Tintin successfully disguises himself as a waiter. A black waiter.
Before that, in The Blue Lotus, he successfully disguises himself as a Japanese general.
Full-Circle Revolution: Tintin and the Picaros. Although that's the only time we see it firsthand, earlier stories showing that Alcazar and Tapioca were mutually ousting each other for years.
Funetik Aksent: Played straight, and also a variation where some languages (especially the native one in The Broken Ear/Tintin and the Picaros) are phoneticised versions of strong dialects - Marollien in the original, and Cockney or Yorkshire in the English translation.
Funny Background Event: Not humorous, per se, but every episode of the Nelvana cartoon would have an animated version of Hergé in the background, usually as part of a crowd scene or just simply walking by.
The Generalissimo: Tintin has encountered several of these, notably General Alcazar (although he becomes relatively more heroic later) and General Tapioca.
George Lucas Altered Version: Many early Tintin albums of the 1930s have been redrawn, updated and too dated references have been removed to appeal to modern audiences. The original unaltered stories are still available, but only in a special album series.
Gilded Cage: Tintin and the Picaros. Also the Bordurian hotel in The Calculus Affair.
Good Hair, Evil Hair: Plenty of textbook examples, from Haddock's full beard to Thompson & Thomson's trademark "cop thick mustache", plus a long collection of typical villain-ish hairdos and beards, especially with Borduria where the curvy moustache is very recurrent, to the name of the dictator and the country flag. Averted with Professor Calculus, who is a rare example of good goatee (though a bushy one).
Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Several recurring villains (Dr. Müller, Allen, etc.) have been seen smoking, usually cigarettes. On the other hand, there's Captain Haddock and his ever-present pipe.
And Tintin himself never smokes and regularly turns down cigarettes when he is offered one.
Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Averted and at the same time not even played. The characters almost never swear, save for a few old slangs or stuff that's "Rude" but not necessarily a curse word. There is a "Damn" in the english version of "Castafiore Emerald". However, Captain Haddock's swearing tirades of "Billions of Blue Blistering Barnacles" were never a cover-up for swearing...it's just funny.
Handcar Pursuit: Tintin does this in Tintin in the Land of the Soviets. The handcar breaks just as he is about to catch up.
Have a Gay Old Time: There are a few old slangs that might get a few chuckles today. notably one instance where a character says "Clever dick", in reference to a police officer. While the series doesn't shy away from depicting drug smuggling and use, these days readers are likely to raise an eyebrow when a ship's captain claims to only be carrying "coke."
Marshal Kûrvi-Tasch, the dictator of Borduria. Being the ultimate higher-up of such villains as Colonel Sponsz and Musstler, he could be considered the realBig Bad of King Ottokar's Sceptre, The Calculus Affair and Tintin and the Picaros, but never throws in a personal appearance — all we ever see of him is the occasional statue.
General Tapioca barely manages to avert this status. Despite being an apparently brutal dictator and the enemy of General Alcazar, he wasn't actually seen in The Broken Ear or The Red Sea Sharks. He finally appeared in person in the last completed book, Tintin and the Picaros.
Hollywood Healing: You can't keep these guys down! Tintin is more than enough proof. He has survived big falls, several gunshots and hits to the head, chloroform, near-drowning and too many fights to count..
How Unscientific!: While most Tintin stories don't feature any sort of supernatural elements there are a few times this trope pops up. A yeti and floating monks appear in Tintin in Tibet, aliens are present in Flight 714 and an unusual substance found on a meteorite defies physics in The Shooting Star. Both Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun also contain elements that are supposedly magic in origin such as a psychic's vision and a curse, as well as a fireball that appears out of nowhere and vanishes along with an Incan mummy.
Hurricane of Euphemisms: Hergé wasn't allowed to have cursing in the books, so he had Captain Haddock do this instead. It repeated itself so many times that it became not only a Running Gag, but a character trait.
Hypocritical Humour: We will NOT add this one to the tropes on this page...... Er, I mean, it would be absolute hypocrisy to claim we don't need a separate page to list some of the examples.
Tintin in Tibet - Every time Captain Haddock tells Tintin he's not going to come with him...he goes.
In The Shooting Star, Captain Haddock is the President of the Society of Sober Sailors.
I Want My Jetpack: The space hardware used on the Moon mission is in many ways more advanced than any equipment that has ever been taken to space in Real Life: a nuclear fission-powered rocket engine that provides constant acceleration (and deceleration) at 1 G for the entire trip, hard-shelled spacesuits, and a pressurized three-person tank.
Insane Equals Violent: Zig-zagged - An important plot point is that the enemies of the drug-smuggling gang from the Cigars of the Phraoah&Blue Lotus arc are disposed of by poisoning by the Rajijah Juice. Victims of the Rajijah juice aren't typically violent, but rather, total Cloud Cuckoo Lander-types - though two of them are violent: Sarcophagus, who is influenced by a hypnotist, and Didi.
Inspector Javert: In some episodes Thompson and Thomson embody a particularly incompetent example of this trope.
Insulted Awake: Captain Haddock awoke Professor Calculus from amnesia by hitting that Berserk Button. The insults weren't even directed at him, which makes it even funnier (the Professor apologises later).
Kitsch Collection: The Kleptomaniac in The Secret of the Unicorn keeps a collection of stolen wallets, alphabetically sorted, along with date of theft, which he proudly boasts of assembling in 3 months!! To show the magnitude of how often they've been pickpocketed, every single one of the 3 dozen or so wallets under the letter T belongs to the Thompsons! Actually saves the day when he pinches Max Bird's wallet with the two parchments in it
Lantern Jaw of Justice: Subverted by General Alcazar, who has a particularly magnificent case of Perma Stubble on a prow-like chin, but isn't very heroic or strong-willed (especially once we meet his wife).
Late Arrival Spoiler: The revelation that Rastapopoulos in The Blue Lotus is the bad guy is pretty lame if you have read the albums where he later appears.
Laughably Evil: In Flight 714, both Allan and Rastapopoulos are less serious and more funny. The latter also has funny scenes in Tintin and the Lake of Sharks.
Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Al Capone appears in person (the only person to do so), and Hergé has several Creator Cameos (particularly in the Animated Adaptation. Numerous other real people appear thinly disguised (such as Jacques Bergier in Flight 714) or in the background. Other well-known thinly disguised real life persons are gun-runner Henry de Monfreid (who saves Tintin in The Cigars of the Pharaoh) and arms dealer Sir Basil Zaharoff (here called Bazaroff), who sells guns to both sides in The Broken Ear.
Lost in Translation: Many of the names and "foreign" words are from Brussels dialect (Flemish) and so don't make sense in English, e.g. Bagarre (brawl), Kalish Ben Ezab (licorice water). Bab El Ehr (babbler) still works, as does Wadesdah ("What is there?").
Mistaken Confession: In Flight 714, the millionaire Laszlo Carreidas is injected with a truth serum in an attempt to force him to reveal the details of his Swiss Bank Account. But instead of revealing the relevant details, Carreidas engages in boastful rants about his underhanded exploits, much to the annoyance of his captors. Hilarity Ensues when Rastapopoulos, the mastermind behind Carreidas' capture, is accidentally injected with the serum in a struggle.
Mistaken for Badass: Not that they aren't, but In a deadly game of cat and mouse between the protagonist's ship and a submarine, Captain Haddock accidentally gets the ship stuck going astern (backwards). When this results in a torpedo barely missing the ship, the villains marvel at the captain's tactical genius.
Mood Whiplash: Done deliberately a few times. For example, in "Land of Black Gold", Dr Mueller makes a dramatic "they'll never take me alive" comment, turns the gun he took from Abdullah on himself - cut to Tintin looking horrified and shouting "don't do it" - then back to Mueller whose face is now covered in ink, Abdullah's gun turning out to be a realistic-looking water pistol for one of his pranks.
The Movie: Tintin and the Lake of Sharks, The Secret of the Unicorn and the next as-yet-unamed upcoming Peter Jackson film.
The Namesake: The titular sharks only show up at the end of The Red Sea Sharks, which may explain why the English title translation is an outlier for an adventure everyone else knows roughly as "Coke on Board". The significance of the title in The Broken Ear also takes a while to come into focus.
A Nazi by Any Other Name: While it later became an analogy for Commie Land, pre-war Borduria (King Ottokar's Sceptre) is clearly a fascist dictatorship, right down to using German built Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter planes. Dr. Müller (The Black Island and others) and Dr. Krollspell (Flight 714) have also been suggested to be Nazis/ex-Nazis. Ironically, when the real Nazis occupied Belgium, they banned The Black Island because it was set in Britain, their enemy, while King Ottokar's Sceptre was still allowed, despite having an almost obvious Nazi-analogue.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: While deputising for the ill General Alcazar in The Broken Ear, Tintin turns down an offer from an American oil company on the grounds that it would require starting a war with a neighboring country. Later, after Alcazar turns on him, Tintin flees to the country in question using a stolen armored car... and ends up causing the war with that country, after they mistake it for an act of aggression by Alcazar's government.
No Hugging, No Kissing: There is hardly any romance or a hint of sexuality of any sort in the whole series beyond chaste crushes. Word of God states that he wanted to avoid Shipping in his stories. The fact that there is only one recurring major female character also plays a role.
No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Revealed to be the case with the moon rocket in Destination Moon, which becomes more than a little problematic when its inventor, Professor Calculus, gets amnesia.
Nothing Is the Same Anymore: At the end of Red Rackham's Treasure, Capt. Haddock and Tintin buy Haddock's ancestral home, the luxurious Marlinspike Hall, with Prof. Calculus' help and find Sir Francis' treasure. From this point on Haddock and Calculus live there as wealthy gentleman, with Tintin visiting them so often that Marlinspike starts to operate as home base during adventures.
Odd Couple: Tintin and Haddock. The former is a neat, organized teenaged/young adult, chaste hero and morally upright. The latter is a bad-tempered, middle aged sailor, an alcoholic (while not always drunk, he's incapable of drinking water or non-alcoholic drinks), prone to spouting (made up) profanities at the slightest provocation. They Fight Crime!
General Alcazar and Peggy Alcazar. The former is a South American revolutionary with a long string of victories followed by defeats. The latter is a domineering, all-American virago with haircurlers. They're married.
Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: The earliest albums went: Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, Tintin in the Congo, Tintin in America and... Cigars of the Pharaoh. From that point on, though, the "Tintin in Geographic Location" formula was discarded for many years until Tintin in Tibet.
Off Model: A big problem with the Belvision series; the animation director apparently took a lot of liberties with Hergé's character designs, often giving the characters a bizarre and overly cute look. Some of the animators worked against this, however, meaning that occasionally you see sequences that look almost as if they could be taken directly from the books. Fortunately, Tintin and the Sun Temple and Tintin and the Lake of Sharks (which both had higher budgets and a better director) don't suffer this problem nearly as badly.
The helicopter pilots rescuing Tintin and the other people on the raft in Flight 714. Making this even more frustrating, the rescue scene was actually drawn: however, Hergé noticed Flight 714 had two more pages than usual and thus decided to remove the two pages showing the rescue.
Spoofed in Land of Black Gold. We never learn what happened to Haddock on his mission or how he arrived in Khemed... other than that it's "simple and complicated" at the same time.
The Blue Lotus: As mentioned above, Tintin is imprisoned after accidentally knocking off a guard. Three guards, the smaller of them something like thrice his size entered the cell to take revenge. Cue a scene with fighting noises followed by a haste trip to the hospital, where three said guards lie heavily battered.
Older than They Look: This applies to Herge's character design, because Tintin doesn't even look old enough to drink, yet he's in his early 20's.
Old Shame: Hergé considered the first two Tintin stories, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets and Tintin in the Congo, to be this. Given that they're essentially anti-communist/colonialist propaganda, it's easy to see why. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, is so badly written and drawn that even the most eager anti-communist would have difficulty enjoying it. It's the only one not updated to colour. Many of the printers agree with this, as Tintin in the Congo is rarely published; and Tintin in the Land of the Soviets is rather rare. In the UK they're the only Tintin books not sold in the children's section, and Tintin in the Congo comes with a foreword about the racial stereotypes.
Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Calculus. Almost all the Tintin books he appears in depict him as a physicist, though admittedly he has unrealistically wide array of knowledge in various specialist fields.
Justified in that making his fortune in Red Rackham's Treasure would have allowed him to move from inventing to larger projects.
One Degree of Separation: The unfinished Tintin and Alph-Art was poised to bring back some one-off characters as well, such as the Bird Brothers and Ivan Sakharine, although Hergé passed away before the plot was developed enough to explain why.
One-Hour Work Week: Tintin is supposedly a journalist. This is rarely mentioned, and the only time he is ever seen writing an article or explicitly doing actual journalism is in Tintin in the Land of the Soviets. See Literary Agent Hypothesis above, though.
The Other Darrin: In the BBC radio Productions, Haddock is voiced by Leo McKern (yes, THAT Leo McKern) in the first 6 episodes and by Lionel Jeffries for the remaining 6. Nestor changes to a new actor in the second half as well, and Castafiore changes actresses every time she appears.
Outdated Outfit: The Thompsons have tried a few times to blend in when investigating in a foreign country... but their outfits were often too "folkloric", and on at least one occasion, the national dress of the wrong country. Far from blending in, they've been known to attract crowds come to laugh at them. Nowhere more hilarious than The Blue Lotus, where they come wearing 17th century Manchu era clothes, down to the pigtails and fans! The result...
Thompson (with nearly the entire town parading behind them): Don't look now, but something tells me we're being followed...
Paper-Thin Disguise: Tintin. This was subverted a few times (The Broken Ear, The Blue Lotus) by when the suspiciously-dressed person wasn't Tintin.
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Tintin is nominally a reporter, but after Land of the Soviets is never seen to do any actual reporting. The closest is a contemporary advert for the then-upcoming Secret Of The Unicorn, in which Tintin is seen calling his editor to ask for time off.
Thomson and Thompson are the two standout examples.
The chief of police in Temple of the Sun, although it's more a case of his being unable to do anything against the Inca.
Dawson in The Blue Lotus is useless, corrupt and racist.
Postscript Season: Hergé apparently considered Tintin in Tibet to be the true finale of the series, with the following three books mostly being vehicles to experiment with his characters. Tintin and Alph-Art may have gotten things back on track somewhat, judging by the preliminary work Hergé did.
Rapid Hair Growth: In the comic book Land of Black Gold, Thomson and Thompson find tablets and swallow them, thinking them to be aspirin, causing them to belch continuously, and grow long hair and beards that change colour. The beards grow so fast that they have to be cut multiple times each day.
Real Dreams Are Weirder: The dream and nightmare sequences in "Tintin" are notoriously surreal and downright creepy:
In "The Cigars Of The Pharao" Tintin is locked inside an Egyptian tomb and put to sleep with sleeping gas. He then dreams several strange images combining recent people he met and Egyptian artwork.
In "The Crab With The Golden Claws" Tintin dreams he is turned into a bottle, which Haddock is planning to uncork.
In "The Shooting Star" Tintin dreams he is visited by Philippulus the prophet who then shows him a picture of a gigantic spider, claiming it is life size!
In "The Seven Crystal Balls" Tintin and his companions all have the same nightmare: that they are visited by the Inca mummy Rascar Capac who enters their bedroom by night and then throws a crystal ball on the floor.
In "Prisoners of the Sun" Tintin questions Haddock, dressed in native wear, on whether he has a licence for his gun. Haddock transforms into an Inca and rages at this insolence, ordering a beam of light from the Sun to strike him down with vengeance, which is what wakes Tintin up in a much more mundane fashion.
In "Tintin in Tibet" Haddock dreams he meets Professor Calculus, who claims he has lost his umbrella. Haddock then tells him he's got a lot of umbrella's with him, but has no idea where they came from. Calculus is angried by his answer and tells him: "You lie! It's red pepper." Then Haddock suddenly wears Calculus' clothes, while Calculus wears those of Haddock. Now grown to enormous size Calculus hits Haddock on the head with an umbrella, claiming it's "Checkmate!"
Meta-example: one of the symptoms of Herge's Creator Breakdown was a recurring nightmare in which everything faded into a blank, white space. This was a major source of inspiration for Tintin In Tibet.
In "The Castafiore Emerald" Captain Haddock dreams he is listening to an opera singing parrot while he is seated completely nude in an audience consisting of nothing but parrots dressed in evening suits.
"Tintin and Alph-Art" begins with one, where a parrot with Bianca Castafiore's face berates Haddock for not drinking his "medicine" (which is whisky), and in the Yves Rodier version, has one in the climax where Tintin hallucinates he's in his old outfit, complete with tie - which Endaddine Akass, with Snowy's head proceeds to strangle him by. It's Tintin crying out "SNOWY!" that spurs Snowy into action.
Reality Subtext: The political situations in various parts of the world often loom heavily over the fictional storylines. This is especially prevalent in the books written just prior to the Second World War and the Nazi occupation.
This trope re-emerges (albeit very subtly) in Tintin in Tibet, where Tintin's friends from The Blue Lotus inexplicably no longer live in Shanghai (which had become part of a communist state between the events of the two books), but in Hong Kong.
Also in The Calculus Affair, which features Borduria as a Soviet satellite state.
Done a few times with the redrawn versions of the color stories. For instance, the Thompsons are inserted into the first panel of Tintin in the Congo, while a previously anonymous smuggler is turned into Allan in Cigars of the Pharaoh. The original version of Land of Black Gold didn't occur in a generic-looking fictional Arabic country, but in British Mandate Palestine.
The Belvision cartoon series did this numerous times, inserting characters into stories where they had not yet appeared in the original albums. To wit, Professor Phostle is deleted from The Shooting Star and replaced by Professor Calculus, who had not been introduced yet in the book.
Rogues Gallery: Even though he isn't necessarily known for having a Rogues Gallery in the way of e.g. American superheroes, there are a surprising number of antagonists who show up for at least two outings in the series:
Al Capone (Tintin in the Congo; Tintin in America)
Rastapopoulos (Retconned cameo into "Tintin in America"; Cigars of the Pharaoh; The Blue Lotus; The Red Sea Sharks; Flight 714; possibly "Tintin and the Alph-Art")
Allan (retconned into Cigars of the Pharaoh; The Crab with the Golden Claws; The Red Sea Sharks; Flight 714)
Additionally, both Gibbons (The Blue Lotus) and Trickler (The Broken Ear) were slated to reappear in the unfinished Tintin and Alph-Art, though there's little to suggest they were to return in anything more than cameo roles.
The Castafiore Emerald. This is deliberate as Hergé created the story as an experiment to see if he could maintain suspense in a story where not much happens.
The Calculus Affair is about Syldavians and Bordurians trying to kidnap Calculus to get their hands on the micrographs of his plans for a sonic weapon, while Tintin and Haddock try to rescue him from both groups. In the end, it turns out Calculus forgot and left the micrographs on his dressing table before leaving Marlinspike Hall, and they were there all along.
If you are a criminal mastermind and, by some stroke of luck, Tintin hasn't come there specifically to foil your plan, he will still manage to unknowingly do the one thing that will either derail your intricate plot or reveal the existence of that plot so that he can start intentionally derailing it. Basically, if you're running a criminal enterprise and you hear that Tintin is within a hundred miles, just shut everything down and leave the country for a few months. It's all you can do.
The pickpocket in The Secret of the Unicorn also qualifies.
Simultaneously lampshaded when Haddock tries to tell that they are already around but is interrupted by Calculus. But to be exact, Super-Calcacolour actually is something new, a process that converts black-and-white pictures into colour (or it would, if it worked).
Played more straight in The Black Island. In the 1930s, when it first appeared, to have a television set in a private home was extremely rare and an example of cutting-edge technology. In the redrawn version it is a lot more commonplace.
The Door Slams You: Happens to Nestor in The Seven Crystal Balls, the Thompsons in The Broken Ear and Tintin himself in Flight 714.
The Theme Park Version: In-universe, this is how the Thompsons see the world, dressing up in the most ridiculous folkloric disguises thinking they'll blend in.
Thou Shalt Not Kill: More than one villain gets accidentally shot during a Gun Struggle. Tintin makes several absolute rulers promise to give their enemies fair trials, much to their annoyance. Played for laughs in one scene where the deposed dictator of a Banana Republic and his successor are in tears over Tintin's lack of respect for "tradition" in not allowing one to put the other in front of a firing squad.
Translation Convention: The translators of the English version in particular went to a lot of effort to nativise the setting to Britain, and altered, among other things, a Merovingian burial ground to a Saxon one. Since a lot of the humour was derived from Punny Names, this was pretty much necessary. Of course, it clashed terribly with cars driving on the right-hand side of the road, policemen in Belgian uniforms etc.
And in the '90s Animated Adaptation, the English (well, Canadian) language track clashes even more so with how nearly every sign, magazine, book etc on screen is in French!
Ultimate Job Security: Thomson and Thompson. Their incompetence varies from "harmless and amusing" to "screwing up big time" (especially in the Moon arc). Nobody but Captain Haddock seems to realize they are the worst detectives in the galaxy, and they are consistently given important cases all over the world.
Unmoving Plaid: Tintin's overcoat in the earliest, more crudely drawn, newspaper strips.
Unstoppable Rage: Break Captain Haddock's whiskey bottle or claim Professor Calculus is acting the goat at your own risk.
Unusual Euphemism: A large amount courtesy of Captain Haddock's very wide and colourful vocabulary; but the best is probably "Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles!" (Would you like a "thundering typhoon" with that?)
Updated Re-release: Hergé redid Tintin in the Congo later, excising as many Unfortunate Implications as he could. Most other titles had this treatment when colorized, although The Black Island, The Cigars of the Pharaoh and Land of Black Gold were completely redone (and in the case of the latter, the story was rewrittern to excise mentions about Arabic and Israeli extremist groups, instead featuring an international organized crime group). Tintin in the Land of the Soviets particulary stands out for not having one.
Villain Ball: In "Flight 714", the villainous Spalding makes a call while Tintin, in a rare subversion of what he normally does, is tying his shoes. Believing that Tintin was spying on him, he makes up a lie about calling his grandmother, which gets Tintin suspicious. If he hadn't have lied, Tintin would've never suspected anything.
Villain Team-Up: The Red Sea Sharks brings us Rastapopoulos, Allan, Muller and Dawson, together with mention of Bab El Ehr.note Rastapopoulos and his dragon Allan "encouraged" Bab El Ehr's revolution when the Emir threatened to reveal their slave trade; Dawson sold the Mosquitos to Bab El Ehr and Muller worked directly for him. There are even return appearances for Abdullah and Jolyon Wagg, though those are more annoyances than villains.
In Red Rackham's Treasure Captain Haddock buys the Daily Reporter and is alarmed to see that word has leaked out on his treasure hunt. Just then he bumps into a large pole featuring an ad that reads "Read the Daily Reporter, for news which hits you".
In The Calculus Affair, Captain Haddock yells at the Bordurian spies saying "I've got my eye on you", before bumping into a pole and having a spectacles shaped signboard fall on him that reads, "See Clearly with Bettaspecs"
Visual puns tend to fall on Haddock a lot. In The Shooting Star, Haddock is storming out of an oil agency in Reykjavik after being told there's no fuel for his ship available anywhere in Iceland; he shouts "On your own head be it!", slams the door, and jars the company's signboard loose — which promptly falls on his head.
What Could Have Been: Herge talked about writing a Tintin story set entirely in an airport departure lounge. The volume Tintin and Alph-Art includes a number of ideas that, due to Author Existence Failure and the general process of developing the story, were never used - including having Captain Haddock become a pot-smoking hippie.
Write Who You Know: For The Blue Lotus Hergé created a young Chinese boy Chang Chong-Chen (Zhang Zhongren in modern pinyin) inspired by his real-life friend Chang Chong-jen (Zhang Chongren) who he consulted on Chinese language and culture for the story. Chang also appears in Tintin in Tibet.
Alternately averted and played straight in The Blue Lotus. The Chinese are depicted in a sympathetic fashion, but the Japanese are caricatured warmongers with huge eyeglasses and horse-like teeth. At the time the Japanese were engaged in an extremely brutal occupation of China and Hergé did not disguise his sympathies. Nor did he pull his punches in depicting the Western-run Shanghai International Settlement as brutal, corrupt, and racist.
Averted later on. The Crab with the Golden Claws features a non-caricatured Japanese Interpol agent trying to bust an opium ring. Tintin in Tibet is also free of Yellow Peril.
You Didn't Ask: In the Ellipse-Nelvana animated version of The Calculus Affair:
Haddock: You didn't tell me you couldn't drive a tank!
Tintin: You didn't ask!
You Just Told Me: Used as a Batman Gambit in The Red Sea Sharks. Tintin has run into General Alcazar and the latter lost his wallet, and when Tintin tries to return it he finds Alcazar lied about what hotel he was staying at. The Thompsons then visit him and Tintin finds out the right one by recounting the story and saying "He said he was staying at the Hotel, ah, the Hotel..." "Excelsior, yes, we know".