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Headscratchers: Tintin


  • Why does Haddock seem to hate parrots? Yes, the one that Bianca gave him in "The Castafiore Emerald" was an annoying and agressive bird but he doesn´t seem terribly happy about receiving a parrot as a pet. It could be that he simply doesn´t enjoy receiving pets out of the blue but in other stories he doesn´t seem very fond of the birds.
    • Perhaps the real question is, why did Hergé seem to hate parrots? Besides the irascible Iago in "The Castafiore Emerald," there was a parrot in "Tintin in the Congo" who bit Snowy's tail, causing it to become infected. "The Broken Ear" had an even more vicious and cantankerous bird ("GRRREAT GREEDY-GUTS!") who bit Tintin's nose and practically massacred poor Snowy in a fight. So my guess is that the Captain reacted to being presented with Iago the same way Hergé himself would have reacted if someone had given him a parrot.
  • So how did Rastapopoulos survive his fall near the end of Cigars of the Pharoh?
    • It's left to the reader's interpretation. Either he caught on something, someone caught him, or he fell into a plothole and came out in a car in Shanghai.
      • That's not the kind of answer we are expecting in this section, do we?
      • The same way Sherlock Holmes survived the fall in "The Final Problem".
    • The same way Tintin always does. Something occurs.
    • He fell into a Plot Hole and appeared in China.
  • If Calculus knows that he is hard of hearing, why does he still act like the words he thinks he hears are still what the people really say to him?
    • He seems to be in denial about how severe his hearing problem really is, constantly claiming that he's "slightly deaf in one ear" despite the fact that it's obviously way worse than that. Consequently, he never considers that he might be mishearing what other people are saying.
      • Truth in Televison – my partially-deaf father does this all the time.
      • So does my gets really really annoying because he says he only has a minor mishearing problem yet all the time he acts confused about mishearings.
    • This troper is of the opinion that he has selective hearing or has realised that his hearing problem is often advantageous. For instance his misinterpreting or mishearing allows him to ignore anyone who refuses him (Red Rackam's Treasure when he joins Tintin and Haddock despite their objections), to helpfully misinform people (The Calculus Affair when he gets rid of Joylon Wagg), or deflate awkward social situations (Tintin and the Picaros when he surprises Alcazar's wife and ends her tirade). Yes I am aware that this probably falls under the category of Fan Wank
  • Why does Calculus not have his hearing device anymore after Explorers on the Moon? Didn't he realize how much more convenient his life got with it? And even if Status Quo Is God, why don't they just give a Lampshade Hanging?
    • Because it's all part of a game he plays with possibly the only person in the world he considers a friend (Captain Haddock). They playfully niggle each other, Haddock calls him names, Cuthbert just pretends to be deaf.
    • Given that we know he's also a little scatterbrained, he could just forget to wear the hearing aid (this troper's grandmother certainly does).
    • Calculus always insists that he's not as deaf as he actually is, and seems serenely convinced that what he thinks people say is what's been said. He says he needs the hearing aid for the Moon expedition because his hearing must be perfect under those circumstances, but this troper always assumed that once the expedition is over, he is quite content to go back to his regular auditory existence, being after all "only a little hard of hearing in one ear".
  • In The Castafiore Emerald, why don't they just keep the broken piece of stair somewhere else instead of PUTTING IT BACK ON ITS BROKEN SPOT WHERE IT MAKES PEOPLE CONSTANTLY SLIP?
    • They either never get around to putting it away since they're all so busy (And Haddock is stuck in a wheelchair) or they don't want to lose it. Besides...the Rule of Funny states that since the repairman is taking his time getting his arse over there, they have to keep slipping on it for the running gag. (It's implied nearly everyone in Marlinspike has fallen down the stairs at one point)
      • They don't want to lose it? Does it take so much time and effort to just pick it up and put it on a table that is near? Rule of Funny has its limits, and this one, strains too much on my Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
      • This troper was under the impression that the loose piece wasn't the problem - they just didn't look and stepped on the hole out of habit.
    • Speaking of this episode, what the hell was the point? Seriously, throughout the whole episode we are given numerous possible thieves, and in the end it turns out it was a bird.
      • This was deliberate: Hérge wanted to see if he could maintain suspense throughout sixty-two pages in which not much happens.
    • We have a trope for this: Rule of Funny.
  • So in the final Tintin, the Alph Art, the last panels drawn shows that Tintin is going to be covered in liquid polyester and sold as a work of art by an artist named Cesar. Specifically the last panel ever drawn just shows a person with a gun leading Tintin out saying, "Let's go, it's time to be turned into a Cesar". What do you think Herge intended to happen after that?
    • It was a draft, after all.
      • Just because it was a draft doesn't mean you can't wonder what Herge intended to happen. Yves Rodier definitely wondered what'd happen.
    • According to the notes, Herge didn't really know what would happen next either.
    • Optimist answer: If past experience is any guide, Tintin is saved by some unlikely turn of events, possibly involving Snowy. Or by an ally he made earlier in the story. Or (less likely) he pulls off some badass feat of getting the drop on someone who's holding him at gunpoint; this has been known to happen.
      • Pessimist answer: If past experience isn't a guide, then there's a reason this is the very last panel of Tintin ever drawn. Tintin's luck has finally run out after decades of improbable good fortune, and this is how he dies.
      • Possibly, he might have been bought by an agent of one of the Warehouse's at the time. seeing as how Tintin has never died, has been just about everywhere and seems utterly morally upright, don't you think the Regents just might wanted to have him "on ice" who knows? Ceasar might have been a Warehouse agent.
  • What happened to Rastapopoulos, Spaulding, and the others who got kidnapped by aliens in Flight 714? Did the people who he hired to help escape from the volcanic island in time?
    • In the "finished" version by Quebecker artist Yves Rodier, Rastapopoulos says that he just remembers ending on an island with no memories. Apparently, the aliens thought they were above sentencing human criminals and just brainwashed them after returning them to Earth. It is definitely not canon, but several fans consider Rodier's Alpha Art finished version the best.
    • Late in the book, Allan mentions that the Sondonesian nationalists fled at the first sign of volcanic activity, well before the actual eruption happened. If the explosives that Rastapopoulos put in their boats were supposed to be remotely triggered, then they probably survived; otherwise, they were likely blown to shreds off-panel.
    • No, Allan was sent to get the plastic explosives to blow up the cave. The Sondonesians stampeded him, but he came back with the explosives, so they probably survived.
    • In "Alph Art" Rastopopolous is (probably) Akass who is living as a mystical guru. Could this be an identity that was given to him by Kanrokitoff with his memory partially erased?
  • In the earlier albums featuring Alcazar, he is in a perpetual struggle for power with Tapioca, "both men claiming leadership of the country with comedic frequency" (from The Other Wiki). But in Picaros, it is clearly stated as a San Theodoros tradition that, upon a coup, the defeated leader be executed. How come neither of them is dead?
    • Or else why he's always seen in Brussels? He always got to leave with the help of his half of loyalists. Probably every time either of them stormed the Presidential Palace in Los Dopicos, it's already empty.
      • This. Neither of them is particularly talented, and San Theodoros is a very comic-opera sort of country. There's no obvious reason
    • Odds are Tapioca and Alcazar were extremely wary and constantly on the move during times of civil strife, hence why neither man was ever able to catch each other. Tapioca's eventual capture by Alcazar's came about through a combination of his own overconfidence, and Alcazar's rather unusual method of gaining access to the presidential palace.
  • What kind of a name is "Tintin" anyway? Maybe that's just a nickname for "Martin", but still... Everyone in the series has a first and last name except for him. This troper is bugged by the fact that no one seems to be bugged by this.
    • Franco-Belgian comics' heroes with just a nickname weren't uncommon, by this time. And the Thompsons are in the same case.
      • Tintin may be his last name. One of the characters in 1912 book La Guerre des Boutons (adapted to the screen in France in the 1960s and in Ireland in the 1990s) is called Tintin, and his sister is Marie Tintin.
    • What kind of name is it, you ask? Answer: A Swedish one. There are people in Sweden named Tintin, though they're not that many. (And it's not certain how many of them are named after a certain popular comics hero.)
    • The name is deliberately bland; it means "nothing" in dialectal French. It goes together with his lack of family, profession and relatives: he is a blank character that anyone can relate to.
  • This troper just realised, literally while at my fridge looking for food, that the Incans in Temple of the Sun speak French. ...WTH? They've hung around a mountaintop inaccessible to visitors for thousands of years, and yet they're somehow able to communicate perfectly with a pair of random strangers that waltz into their main hall of worship out of nowhere? I mean, sure if all the other foreigners (Tchang, the Emir, Oliviera) are able to speak easily as they could've learned French or English etc, but the Incas? Just bugs me.
    • In fact, now that I think of it, the only person that's shown to have an accent is Szut, the Estonian pilot... or is it just a case of selective memory on this troper's part? Still doesn't explain the Incas though...
    • It can be explained through Fan Wank : Haddock is a sailor and probably knows several languages. Tintin is a polyglot genius (he probably speaks chinese, arab, spanish, english, etc...). In Temple of the Sun, it's just Translation Convention. Everybody actually speaks spanish.
      • Wouldn't isolated Incas be more likely to speak Quechua, which is much more obscure?
      • You forget that they do keep in contact with the outside world. They are able to get to other countries to follow the archeologists and the high priest hangs round the streets of one of the cities.
      • It's a more sophisticated Translation Convention. We see very few Incas speaking. They speak Quechua between one other; two characters can speak with Tintin in proper Spanish: the Inca himself who has to be the better educated and wise person of his people, and the sacrifice priest; and there are a soldier and a servant who talk to Tintin in a pidgin, probably a mix of their own language and two or three Spanish words, plus Huascar who infiltrated himself in the Peruvian society.
  • So if General Alcazar was down and out in Seven Crystal Balls how does he have enough money to buy aircraft in The Red Sea Sharks?
    • This is just a guess but maybe he earned money as a film actor.In the beginning of The Red Sea Sharks when Tintin remarks on the resemblance between the star of the western and the General he is actually noticing that its the same person. We know that Alcazar does odd jobs when he's not starting revolutions so maybe he found his way to Hollywood and landed a contract with a studio. He's a politician and knife throwing is a kind of performance art so acting would probably come naturally to him.
    • Another possiblilty. In an early draft of Tintin and the Picaros Alcazar explains that he met Peggy in New York when he was doing his knife throwing act and that she is the daughter of arms dealer Basil Bazarov as well as being very wealthy. So if we accept that about the two then we could assume that the General is either married or engaged in Red Sea Sharks and Peggy is bankrolling his coup (she wants that palace after all)
    • Also remember that Tintin found a lottery ticket from San Theodoros in Alcazar's wallet. This might be a clever way on Herge's part of telling us that he won the lottery and that's where he got the money
      • But if Tapioca was in power, how would Alcazar have been allowed to claim the money? I'm assuming that when Tapioca's in power Alcazar is persona non grata in San Theodoros
      • How about a Belgian ticket?
      • Nope it was definitely from San Theodoros
    • In Tintin and the Picaros we're told that Alcazar is being funded by a banana company.
  • Whatever happened to Ahmed? I might have missed something, but I think Tintin got to him and the latter managed to impersonate him to get close to Muller. So he's just left in the desert?
    • I've always wondered this. I assumed Tintin left him Bound and Gagged to be killed by the fire from the pipeline, but that seems unlikely.
  • Tintin learned what actually happened between then and when the comic was printed, probably. Alcazar, for his part, was probably happier not mentioning that event when they met again in The Seven Crystal Balls.
  • Sir Francis Haddock sinks The Unicorn with treaure aboard, then hides documents to the location of the ship in three models. But on board The Unicorn are a series of documents that say the treasure is actually inside Marlinspike Hall hidden there by Francis. Why would the documents in the models lead to a place where the treasue isn't when Haddock had it in his possesion the whole time? And how could there be documents aboard The Unicorn pointing to Marlinspike Hall if the treasure wasn't put there until AFTER The Unicorn sank?
    • What the heck are you talking about? There were no documents on The Unicorn saying the treasure was in Marlinspike. Tintin and Haddock found the treasure in the globe completely by accident, when they came across the statue and the globe in the cellar and Tintin figured it out.
      • Sorry, that was one change made in the animated series. As soon as Tintin learns that Marlinspike Hall once belonged to the Haddocks he immediatly deduced the treasure must be there. In the original book he does indeed find it by accident.
      • If i can remember correctly, Tintin didn't find it completely by accident. He fell into the basement and looked around, finding a sculpture with a eagle on its shoulder, with a stone globe under it, pressing the button where the island is opened the globe, showing the treasure inside it. Showing how the messages in the models were pointing to the Marlinspike Hall all along.

2011 movie

  • From the film — so, in the scene where the Milanese Nightingale sings and breaks every glass in the building, why doesn't Sakharine's glasses break as well?
    • Possibly his glasses were clear plastic or some other non-glass material, or somehow altered to survive shockwaves. He did have the opportunity to prepare for it.
    • Yes, Sakharine's glasses were not actual glass (darker and irregularly shaped compared to all the other glass in the scene), which is what tipped Tin Tin off to Sakharine's plan.
  • From that same scene in the film — Is it even possible for Castafiore's singing to break the bullet proof glass that was protecting the model?
    • Yes. it is, it was shown by Mythbusters that this is possible, but only if, and I mean (IF) the singer can sing that high.
    • Not exactly. Mythbuster's results were the results of testing with your basic run-of-the-mill wine glass, which is built in one piece and is thus easy to deform, versus bulletproof glass, which is built in a webbed structure and thus would be much stronger. So it's possible in theory, but the film over-simplifies it.
    • There's also a point in one of the comics (Ottokar's Sceptre?) where Castafiore sings in a car and Tintin remarks something along the lines of "good job it's safety glass", If her voice can't break that how can it break the bullet proof glass?
  • Also from the film: In the comic, Tintin and Haddock discover Rackham's treasure in the basement of Marlinspike hall after Haddock and Calculus have bought the place. But in the film, they haven't bought it, and Haddock even tells Nestor he can't afford it. So doesn't the treasure legally belong to Sakharine, then?
    • Sakharine may have been stripped of the right to own it due to his criminal activities - who knows, after his arrest they may have discovered that he acquired the mansion, or the money to buy it, by illegal means. And the small treasure found by Tintin and Haddock in the basement may be enough to buy the mansion back (and considering its state of disrepair, it may be relatively cheap).
    • Sakharine had been arrested, and due to several counts of attempted murder and kidnapping will most likely spend the rest of his life in prison and be stripped of his estates. The butler mentions how nice it would be to have a Haddock in charge of the place again.
    • Even if the treasure does legally belong to Sakharine, they found a map which leads to more treasure in international waters, with which they could just buy the house. So either way, it works out.
  • From the movie, Haddock figures out that Sakarine is really a Rackham because he "remembers" that Red Rackham looked exactly like him. Problem: how can he remember something like that when it was his ancestor, not him, that actually met the original Rackham?
    • Francis might have shown Haddock some sort of documentation of Rackham's appearance while he was alive, like an illustrated "wanted" poster or something. Alternatively, Francis is just really good at giving descriptions.
    • The possibility of reincarnation was mentioned briefly by Haddock. Maybe he inherited Sir Francis' memories, too. That's why he's the only Haddock that survived- because he IS Sir Francis.
  • As soon as the singer breaks the glass Sakharine immediately yells for everyone to grab Tintin since he's "obviously" trying to steal the boat. So in the whole flurry of the crowd to stop Tintin from taking it, nobody thinks of running to protect the boat itself? (where a single glance would tell them: "Hey, some hawk is trying to take the boat as well!")
    • Sakharine is basically an esteemed person at the event whom everyone seems to respect. Considering they're all mostly hoity-toity types and servants, would you immediately go against him?
    • Yeah, but that's not the problem. The problem is that everyone knew that someone was trying to steal the boat, but nobody tried to run to protect the boat itself, or even looked it.
      • Three words: Bavarian Fire Drill.
      • The way you're phrasing it is like "someone is trying to steal the boat! It could be anyone!" But that's not the impression everyone has - they have no worries about the boat until Sakharine calls out Tintin as a thief. They're not going to suddenly go on full alert like "oh no, thieves all around" just because of one troublemaker. Most of the people there probably don't even know the boat is special, since it's been in the guy's collection for some time now.
  • The reason why Tintin would not sell the Unicorn model he bought to those desperate bidders in the book, The Secret of the Unicorn is because he got for Capt. Haddock as a gift and is too loyal to suddenly sell it for a quick buck. However, in the film, this happens before Tintin meets Capt. Haddock at all, so there is no real explanation in the film of why Tintin is so adamant to keeping the model when he could turn a quick profit.
    • The film's version of Tintin is apparently very interested in ships, if his detailed knowledge and awed tone of voice when describing the Unicorn are anything to go by.
    • The fact that Barnaby and Sakharine are so eager to get their hands on the model tips Tintin off that there's more to the ship than it seems.
    • Word of God says that Tintin is also naturally interested in interesting antiques. Anybody who's watched Antiques Roadshow knows that many old items and knick-knacks have good stories behind them, and Tintin, being a journalist, is always on the lookout for a good story as part of his natural drive.
  • Why does the beat-up old freighter Karaboudjan have a catapult-launched seaplane? If the villain installed it, how is it part of his plan?
    • So he can be Crazy-Prepared. It served some use in hunting down stowaways.
    • I'd hazard a guess that the future films are going to feature the plot (or part of the plot) of The Shooting Star which featured the research ship Aurora, complete with seaplane, but they also plan for Haddock to get the Karaboudjan back.
  • Captain Haddock is from a long line of English sea-dogs. So why does he have a broad Scots accent?
    • I kind of tend to assume the accent is really just Translation Convention and that he's really speaking French in-universe. In the comic, at least, we're explicitly told that Sir Francis served in the navy under King Louis XIV.
    • Hergé based Tintin's hometown on Brussels. Marlinspike is about half of a château in France, but set in the environs of Brussels. However, in the English translation it all was transferred to England. The world of Tintin is thus a mix of Belgium, with bits of France and England.
  • Let me get this straight: Haddock is sailing with a load of treasure, but pirates attack. Eventually he blows up his own ship, grabs a bit of the gold for himself, and somehow gets to shore (picked up by another ship? I don't know). He fathers 3 sons (or had fathered them already.) Then he creates 3 replicas of his ship, writes 3 cryptic scrolls, hides the scrolls in the ships and sets it up so that the three scrolls held together will reveal the coordinates of...his house. And in the basement of the house, he has hidden the treasure. He tells his 3 sons cryptic things about this treasure, so their descendents can eventually recover it. Um....why did Haddock bother with all this?. Why even hide the treasure at all? He already had it, why not just spend it? And if he didn't want to spend it, why did he need all the creepy clues? Why didn't he just tell his sons "Hey, there's some treasure in the basement"? It seems like he invented the most roundabout way possible of doing things, just so Tintin could have an adventure.
    • Maybe it was to protect the treasure from Red Rackam's descendants.
    • I don't think it is said, but the insinuation is, I think, that the three sons had a horrible falling-out, so they were each given a clue that would not work without the other two. They would have to work together to get their inheritance. Unfortunately, none of them ever figured out the clues, so the final wish of Haddock was never fulfilled.
    • It was also a Secret Test of Character; merely finding the basement wouldn't really help. The real test was being enough of a sea dog to spot what was wrong with the globe. Which is why he needed to over-complicate it somewhat; if he had simply said "there's something secret about that globe in the basement", then it'd only be a matter of time before someone simply cracked it open. His sons would need to work together to find the right spot, but only a true Haddock (an experienced sailor), could find the treasure.
  • Along with the small fortune in gold, Haddock leaves a note which provides a clue as to the coordinates of the ship when it sank. Um...why would he do that? The ship is at the bottom of the ocean. There's no way to recover the gold unless you have a submarine, and I seriously doubt that a 17th-century sea captain anticipated the eventual development of submarines. (Also see the previous bit asking why Haddock had to keep this information secret from his own sons).
    • Tintin says that Haddock did that because "he couldn't let it lie". Presumably Haddock left the clues so that one day, one of his descendants would be able to recover it somehow.
  • Modern!Haddock's grandfather walled off part of the basement before he died. Why? Was it to protect the treasure? But if he knew that the treasure was there, why wouldn't he just take it and use it?
    • Probably because he couldn't figure out how to access the treasure; if Sir Francis Haddock considered only a true Haddock to be worthy of having the treasure, not being able to figure out where it is means he wasn't worthy of having it. Therefore, before losing the estate, he walls off part of the cellar so that hopefully another Haddock will be able to figure it out, which winds up being his grandson.
  • Remember that one guy who was shot on Tintin's doorstep? Thompson and Thompson say he was working for Interpol, but they don't know what he was working on. How is that possible? Didn't the guy fill out some paperwork or something before he began the case?
    • It was obviously classified information. Interpol did, in fact know what Dawes was working on, they just felt like keeping it a secret from local police, most likely because it involved sensitive information or something.
    • If people getting shot on his apartment's doorstep is a common occurrence, why doesn't Tintin move?
      • It's not so much the apartment itself that's the problem. Tintin's own Amateur Sleuth and Gentleman Adventurer tendancies mean that a lot of people would end up shot on his doorstep no matter where he lived.
  • That one guy uses the newspaper to spell out "Karaboudjan". (Quite convenient that there was a newspaper nearby and that it had all the letters in the proper order). Tintin remarks "Karaboudjan, that's an American word!". In what way is that word even vaguely American?
    • He said Armenian.
  • So Barnaby Dawes marked out the letters to the Karaboudjan in blood. How did Tintin know what order to put the letters in?
    • Presumably Barnaby had the good sense to mark the letters in the correct order. Otherwise, it'd be a pretty useless clue.
  • Isn't the captain supposed to go down with the ship?
    • Not if you're Francesco Schettino.
    • I think the idea is that the captain should be the last person onboard, because he's responsible for everyone else on the ship, so he should make sure everyone else gets out of the sinking ship safely before he leaves it. But Hadoque's entire crew had already been slaughtered, and obviously he felt no such obligations to the pirates who killed them.
  • Isn't it somewhat out of character for Tintin (who, at least in later albums, seemed to be something of a Technical Pacifist) to own a handgun? Yes, he does use guns in the comics, but only occassionally and usually he either has a good reason to be carrying them (such as in Prisoners of the Sun, where he's making his way through jungle/mountain terrain populated by dangerous animals) or he takes them off of people who are trying to kill him in the first place. Him actually owning a gun seems incongruious with his goody-good image, even if it does indicate him to be somewhat Genre Savvy. Admittedly, Movie-Tintin just might be more pragmatic than Comic-Tintin and even when he does use guns in the movie, he never actually shoots any living people with them, but still.
    • It may just be the animated adaptation, but the line "it's him or us" while Tintin is wielding a machine gun and being attacked by a plane shows that he is willing to kill if it's the only option left. And considering how often Tintin gets shot in the animation, carrying a gun himself just makes sense.
    • Tintin seems to just use it for intimidation most of the time. He never shoots to kill and always uses a melee fist-fight approach when it would be much easier to use the gun. Even when he does fire whilst escaping the Karaboudjan, it's again only for intimidation rather than actually for killing his opponents, or for saving time doing something (moving the lever on the spotlight or cutting the lifeboat ropes). The possession of the pistol early in the film is likely to be for intimidation purposes so that the other person feels that he means business (as shown in the seaplane scene where Tintin threatens the pilots with a gun that's out of ammo).

Tex WillerHeadscratchers/Comic BooksTransformers Generation One
ThumbelinaHeadscratchers/FilmTitanic: The Legend Goes On

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