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Western Animation: Alfred J. Kwak

Alfred J. Kwak is the name and protagonist of a variety of Dutch media, most famously a cartoon, which was popular in several European countries, especially its native Netherlands, Germany, Finland and the United Kingdom. Created by multi-talent Herman van Veen, Alfred was originally a theatre piece in the 1970s, then a comic strip, and finally a cartoon in the late 1980s. The series lasted for 52 episodes, broadcast between 1989 and 1991.

The cartoon has endured in the minds of many current twenty-somethings because of the dark and often depressing themes it handled, with great maturity and respect for the young viewers. It's also notable for avoiding Comic-Book Time: we first meet Alfred just after hatching, and by the time the series ends, he's a grown man deeply involved in politics.

To an adult viewer, the show may come off as a string of Anvilicious Aesops, including a fascist dictator called 'Dolf' and a land of black ducks and white geese where the latter oppress the former. However, Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped.

The protagonist is a duck, Alfred Jodocus (Jonathan in English) Kwak, whose parents have tragically died in a road accident when Alfred was a tiny hatchling. Raised by foster father Henk, a mole, Alfred grows up into an adventurous, brave duck who travels the world. The setting is an obvious allegory of the Netherlands called Great Waterland, full of dikes, polders and canals and populated by anthropomorphic animals, especially birds.

A sequel series is in the works, focusing on Alfred's son with his wife Winnie. Unfortunately, as of 2014, nothing more has been heard of it.


Tropes:

  • Action Mom: Mrs. Bee.
  • Adult Fear: All of Alfred's adventures often cause Henk to fear for his life, especially after what happened to the rest of the Kwak family.
  • An Aesop: It even has the animals.
  • Alcoholic Parent: It's heavily implied that Dolf's father frequently gets drunk on beer following the death of his wife. This, of course, does not contribute at all to his son's self-esteem.
  • All Germans Are Nazis: Sort of; Dolf's parents are rather obviously German expies, and incredibly racist. Subverted with their Hitler-esque son Dolf has no obvious German traits of his own, and professor Paljas, one of Alfred's best friends, has German traits without being a Nazi.
  • All Myths Are True: Many times when Alfred and professor Paljas end up chasing after some old legend, it turns out to be exactly true. Averted in Atlantis' case; its inhabitants have been around for so long that even they're not sure whether the legend of their city's creation is true or not.
  • All Just a Dream: Several episodes.
    • Most notably the one where Alfred dreams he is a gunslinger in the Wild West.
    • "The White Queen" is unique in that another character (Dolf) is the one that figures out that they're actually in one of Alfred's dreams. For some reason, Dolf and several others are sharing the dream with Alfred. Then the Queen shows up again after Alfred wakes up.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The show had different theme songs in the different countries that it aired.
  • Anachronism Stew: The time setting is considerably vague. In general it seems to take place somewhere during the 20th century, but among other things Professor Paljas has access to advanced supertech. The king seems to suggest a more medieval/baroque setting, but in the first season Alfred learns about the Middle Ages during history lessons, so that period is clearly over. In another episode a medieval Middle Eastern kingdom also seems to exist. Dolf takes power in a Hitler inspired manner, but wears a Napoleon outfit. An explorer called Dr. Livingston, named after the 19th century explorer David Livingstone, doesn't make things less complicated either.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: A rare gender-reversal when a Wicked Witch tries to force Alfred to marry her. The witch actualy succeeds, but it thankfully turns out to a nightmare Alfred was having.
  • Ancient Egypt: Appears in the form of the "Land of Pyramids", which is clearly Egypt in all but name, complete with mummies, pharaohs, and, well, pyramids. It even has a sphinx, which despite appearing in a world populated by anthropomorphic animals, still has a human face.
  • Animal Stereotypes: Dolf the crow is evil, Alfred is a funny duck, Pikkie is a thieving magpie, Dolf the mole wears shades because he apparently can't stand daylight that well, the king is a lion,...
  • Animate Inanimate Object: The White Queen in Alfred's chess game is able to come to life and grow to human size. Somehow. Possibly. Later, Alfred brings all of the other white pieces to life to help get back the White Queen's crown when Dolf steals it. The Queen also implies that the characters depicted on playing cards could potentially come to life as well.
  • The Apartheid Era: Alfred's girlfriend Winnie, a black duck, is from a country taken over by white geese.
  • Artifact of Doom: Several:
    • The Genie's bottle. The genie within tries to tempt people into releasing him by promising them to give them whatever they desire, but promptly tries to eat them when he does get out.
    • The storybook that apparently contains an evil witch. Except that it was All Just a Dream.
    • The Pot of Gold. Since it apparently causes rainbows to appear in the sky, taking it from its hiding place causes the entire world to slowly lose its color until it's returned.
  • Atlantis: Visited by Alfred, and it's inhabited by Dodos, long thought extinct after a massive flood. Its technology and architecture are apparently based entirely on glass-blowing, as well.
  • Bad Butt: Despite generally being a well-mannered, peace-loving, happy-go-lucky duck, Alfred is not afraid to get physical when the situation calls for it, especially when it comes to standing up to Dolf.
  • Badass Adorable: Alfred himself, as well as several of his allies: a sparrow spy, a rat who throws cheese in Dolf's face, and a Badass Family of bees who manage to sting the entire Royal Court into submission.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Pierrot can breathe on the moon. Assuming he breathes at all.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animals: Henk Mole, Krabnagel (aka Scratchypaws) and Dolf.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Most of the king's staff, but most prominently Sir Poen, the king's right-hand man, who often has to help remind the king that he actually has a country to run and shouldn't just be lounging in the bath all day long.
  • Big Bad: Dolf, natch. Nearly every bad thing that happens in the series, barring the deaths of Alfred's family, can be traced back directly to him.
  • Big "NO!": Dolf, as he is cornered by the police during the finale right after it looks like he gets away scot-free from Alfred.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: Played with in the case of the aliens in episode 17, who completely lack a sense of smell.
  • Bizarre and Improbable Golf Game: Happens in one episode where Alfred has to face off against a Jipponese businessman on a golf course. The two proceed to completely wreck the place by shooting their balls against trees, out of a lake (completely surrounded by identical balls), and at one point, Alfred even asks a mother eagle to kindly move out of her nest for a moment so he can reach his ball that fell in.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Done in episode 14, as Alfred wonders what the sawfish they're looking for actually looks like.
    Parmezanidas: What, you don't know?
    Alfred: Well, I'm sure I'm not the only one who doesn't! [glances at the camera]
    • The audience is then treated to a still shot of said sawfish, with Alfred and Henk commenting over it despite having no logical way of actually being able to see it.
  • Call Back: When Alfred first meets Winnie, he's so embarrassed and nervous that he completely flubs his own introduction, much like his father did when he met his wife to be.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Evil Genie Of Darkness. It's right there in his name.
  • Carnivore Confusion:
    • The King of Great Waterland is a lion, who in one of the early episodes is shown hunting in the forest. With a rifle. In a land full of talking animals. His servants are later shown taking dead pheasants with them.
    • Even the fish talk, and at one point ask Alfred for help because they are afraid that they'll be hunted to extinction by a new high-tech fishing boat.
    • The character Krabnagel is a dangerous criminal and known to eat others (including little children). He is never charged for this, when he ends up in prison it's for other crimes.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • Alfred has a few: "Pico bello!" when things go his way; "Jeetje Mina!" ("Jeez Louise!") when surprised or shocked; and "Tuurlijk, tuurlijk!" ("Of course, of course!") when reassuring somebody.
    • Dolf likes to tell people to "kras op!" ("bug off!").
    • Henk has "Alle molshopen!" ("Great molehills!"),
    • Captain Stoppel has "Alle walrussen!" ("Great walruses!").
  • Cats Are Mean:
    • Krabnagel. He has no objections whatsoever to eating other animals, especially children, if it means satisfying his boundless hunger.
    • Averted with Professor Ramses and the cat people of the Land of Pyramids.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the episode where Alfred and Henk meet a race of aliens on a tropical island, they are given a capsule of special food for space travelers. This comes in handy the next episode, when they offer it to a hungry squid to avoid being eaten themselves.
  • Chess Motifs: The White Queen feels constrained on the chessboard, despite being the only piece able to move in any direction, and so asks Alfred to show her the world outside.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Krabnagel disappears from the series entirely after episode 13, barring one final appearance in Alfred's Western-themed dream.
    • Snel also disappears early on. He does come back during the birthday party in the final episode.
    • Despite being one half of Dolf's main duo of henchmen, Hannes disappears at some point as well, while Wannes goes on to become a minor villain in his own right.
    • King Franz Ferdinand's father, Radboud, is never seen again after his son ascends to the throne. Since his son is the new King after the Time Skip he probably died in the interim, but it's never mentioned.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Done almost literally when Alfred and Henk encounter the Polar Star. She says she can show them the way to the South Pole, but only if they clap and applaud her, as stars like herself thrive on the adoration of others.
  • Clear My Name: Alfred is wrongfully accused of crimes numerous times, leading to him getting Locked In The Dungeon, and often resulting in him screaming that he's innocent.
  • Comic-Book Time: Completly averted. Time progresses somewhat normally, Alfred enters and finishes school, everybody visibly ages and so on.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: The protagonist, obviously.
  • Cool Starship: Professor Paljas' flying windmill, which is able to transform into a submarine and is later equipped with a rocket engine for space travel.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: K. Rokodil, a recurring villain who tries to make loads of money off the misery of others. Naturally, he's also responsible for driving Alfred's family from their home, and promptly killing most of them by accident by driving over them with his car.
  • Damsel out of Distress: When Dolf kidnaps Winnie, she manages to wiggle out of her bindings and pick up a chair to bash Dolf's head in - except that Alfred gets there first.
  • Defeat by Modesty: Alfred and Dolf get into a fight after school, and in the process Alfred discovers Dolf's beak is actually covered in shoe polish to hide the fact that it's yellow; Dolf is so embarrassed to reveal his greatest secret that he runs away crying.
  • A Dog Named Dog: In the Finnish dub, Dolf is known as Korppi, which is the Finnish word for raven (even though Dolf is a crow-blackbird hybrid, not a raven).
  • The Dragon:
    • When he becomes dictator of all of Great Waterland, Dolf gets one in the form of his right-hand hippo, Geppe. He remains fiercely loyal to Dolf even when his regime comes crumbling down, to the point where Geppe helps Dolf escape from prison in the final episode.
    • Dolf himself sometimes acts as The Dragon to Rokodil.
  • Drives Like Crazy:
    • When Alfred needs the king's help in getting Winnie's parents out of jail by making them legal citizens, he takes a taxi to the castle. The driver promptly drives headfirst towards a river, bouncing off a boat along the way and barely makes it to the other side. Later, on the way back, he proceeds to launch the car off a cliff, and the last we see of it is a shot of the car flying through the air as Alfred is heard screaming in terror.
    • Professor Paljas also has some trouble getting the flying windmill to land properly, much to Alfred's chagrin. He eventually fixes this by installing a reusable parachute.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Alfred's entire family gets offed out of the blue just a few minutes into the second episode.
  • Dub Species Change:
    • In the Finnish dub, Dolf's name is Korppi (Finnish for raven) and the National Crows Party is Kansallinen Korppipuolue (Finnish for National Raven Party).
    • In the Hebrew dub, Alfred is Shealtiel, Henk is Khefi, Pikkie is Ruby, and Great Waterland is Maimonia (which is a bit awkward; ‘mayim’ is Hebrew for ‘water’, but Maimon is a typical Moroccan last name).
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Wannes tries to soothe his guilty conscience with alcohol before his Heel Realization, as described below.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Hannibal has no problems inventing devices for K. Rokodil's money-making schemes. However, when a group of protesting fishermen on the back of a giant whale block the way out of a harbor to stop their new, highly advanced fishing boat, Hannibal is shocked when Rokodil intends to harpoon them.
  • Everything's Worse with Bees: The bee family that Alfred befriends are generally nice people. Just don't get on their bad side.
  • Evil Laugh: Dolf does this when things are going his way exceptionally well.
  • Fantastic Racism. The land of Atrique, where the native black ducks are oppressed by an elite class of white geese. Also Dolf's parents. ("At some level, you have to pity other birds for being so disgusting.")
    • Whenever Pikkie steals something, it's shrugged off as inevitble because he's a magpie.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Great Waterland is a copy of the creator's native Netherlands, with windmills, polders, canals, dikes and the main character whose parents lived in a big clog. Atrique, where Winnie is from is a copy of South Africa.
  • Feather Fingers: Flip-flopped. Most of the duck/bird characters usually fold up their wings when they don't need them, only to reveal human-like fingered hands when they need them for something.
  • Final Solution: To complete Dolf's resemblance to Adolf Hitler, he resolves to kill every mouse (mice have long been used as an analogy for the Jews, see Maus for instance) on the planet because they (actually a rat, but Dolf seemkingly makes no difference between them) angered him.
  • Foreshadowing: In one of the first scenes in the very first episode, Johan crosses a trafficked road and narrowly avoids being hit by a car, foreshadowing the accident in the second episode.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: In the western dream sequence episode, Henk steps into a saloon only selling milk.
    • Subverted by Captain Stoppel, who drinks rum.
  • Freudian Excuse: Sort of; Dolf had a rather crappy childhood. It's made relatively clear though that a crappy childhood excuses nothing. After all, Alfred himself had a relatively crappy childhood too.
  • Forgot I Could Fly: The eagle in episode 1, first out of carelessness, then out of humiliation at being beaten up by Henk.
  • Full-Name Basis: Alfred commonly introduces himself, or is introduced, by his full name, Alfred Jodokus Kwak.
  • Funny Animal: The entire cast of characters.
  • Furry Confusion: There's several occurrences of regular animals appearing alongside the anthropomorphic ones; noticeably, the circus has trained horses, as well as an anthropomorphic horse who's the resident human trainer.
  • G-Rated Drug / Psycho Serum: The elephant pills that Dolf slips to Hannes in one episode. To elephants, they apparently provide them with a little extra energy, while the effect is a great deal more extreme for other, smaller animals like ducks. Unfortunately for Hannes, excessive use by non-elephants also has some interesting side effects...
  • Gag Boobs: The witch, when transforming herself into a gorgeous duck to seduce Alfred, becomes rather... exceptionally well-endowed.
  • Ghibli Hills: Most of Great Waterland outside the suburban areas is rife with natural beauty, including around Alfred's home.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Used when Alfred's family is run over, with the camera focusing on the clog-shaped bed hurtling through the air over a red background instead.
  • Grand Finale: The final episode, even named "Happily Ever After" in the original Dutch, features Dolf finally being thrown into prison for his crimes, only to escape, steal professor Paljas' plans for a Death Ray, kidnap Winnie, and hold her hostage in a final desperate attempt at revenge against Alfred for foiling his plans time and again. Alfred eventually tracks him down, rescues Winnie, and has Dolf arrested one last time before returning home to celebrate his birthday with all his friends and family.
  • Green Aesop: Numerous examples.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Alfred, whenever he sees another male bird (Michael Duckson, the golf instructor, even the happily married Ollie) getting close to Winnie.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Alfred only wears a red scarf most of the time. Some characters wear even less, some wear more.
  • Harmless Freezing: Krabnagel turns into an ice cube the moment he falls into a frozen lake. He's perfectly fine just a few episodes later. In a later episode, Dolf hides from Alfred in a freezer. As soon as Alfred opens the door, a solid-frozen Dolf comes tumbling out.
  • Heel Realization: When Dolf deliberately breaches a dike as part of a scheme to increase his popularity in the upcoming presidential elections, Wannes, who normally hangs on his every word, becomes increasingly unable to handle his guilty conscience after having assisted him, and eventually confesses and turns himself in.
  • Hero Ball: If there's something - anything - bad going on, expect Alfred to be drawn into it.
  • Imagine Spot: Alfred has these a LOT, as his imagination has a tendency to run away with him at times.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Everybody in Alfred's western dream, especially in the climax where Alfred faces off with Dolf's gang all by himself. Nobody manages to hit anything except the scenery.
  • Impossibly-Low Neckline: The Chess Queen, one of the few human-looking characters in the series who can pull this off.
  • Indy Ploy: Alfred admits when sneaking aboard a whaler ship that he's making up the plan to put it out of commission as he goes along.
  • Informed Ability: The Hebrew dub for the series renamed Alfred ‘Shealtiel’, or ‘Shalti’ for short, and as the name is derived from the same root used by the words ‘question’ or ‘asking’, he was said to be very curious in the opening segment. This doesn’t seem to show up much in the series itself.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons / Our Dragons Are Different: An extinct volcano that's suddenly become active again turns out to contain a dragon from outer space, who got himself trapped by having a giant boulder pin down his tail. Curiously, he breathes cold fire.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Played painfully straight with a few Asian-inspired characters that appear throughout the show, who have slanted, narrow eyes, speak in squeaky voices, and substitute R's for L's.
  • Innocent Aliens: The aliens Alfred and Henk meet on their journey to the South Pole. They're a friendly, helpful bunch who periodically visit Earth to collect the rare "marbo" fruits, which is a delicacy to them. Later on, a friendly dragon from outer space shows up as well.
  • Karma Houdini: Dolf is the king of these. Even after becoming the fascist dictator of all of Great Waterland, he's not persecuted for his crimes, and even comes back later to legally run for presidency in the elections.
    • Rokodil remains Mayor no matter how much he exploits the town.
  • King of Beasts: The king is a lion, though initially he prefers his lemonade baths to actual monarching.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: Played with. While a human does show up he's in fact the least human of any creature; he's a beastlike caveman shown for entertainment to the talking animals in circus shows, and presumably zoos.
  • Locked In The Dungeon: Happens to Alfred far too many times to count, most commonly after being wrongfully accused of a crime, to the point that you could make a drinking game out of it. It even gets lampshaded in the song "In De Val" ("Trapped") on one of the soundtrack albums, where Herman van Veen wonders "do barred windows like ducks, perhaps?"
  • Magic Music / Musical Assassin:
    • The magical violin owned by the clown on the moon, which, among other things, is able to make things disappear. Alfred uses it to destroy the deadly Mozons virus.
    • On a more humorous note, Alfred's piano playing is apparently so catastrophically bad that it causes Henk physical pain to listen to, and at one point he is even blown away by an onslaught of musical notes when he opens the door to Alfred's house
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Many of the villains like to dress well, and even wear monocles.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The king is named after Austro-Hungarian archduke Franz Ferdinand, who had a great fondness for hunting. Though it's actually his father, Radboud, we see hunting in the second episode.
    • Also, Dolf.
    • Invoked with Alfred: his middle name "Jodokus" apparently means "jokester"; his father gave him the name due to his natural curiosity and tendency to wander off from home.
    • Pikkie/Grabbie has a habit of stealing things, due to being a magpie.
    • Snel the rabbit, "snel" being the Dutch word for "fast".
    • Professor Paljas. "Paljas" means "buffoon", which fits with his eccentric, absent-minded nature.
    • Lispel, named for the Dutch word for "lisping". Being a squishy jellyfish, he obviously does this a lot.
    • K. Rokodil. His name can literally be translated as C. Rocodile.
    • Captain Stoppel/Stubble. As a walrus, he obviously has a lot of facial hair.
    • Winnie, named for the wife of Nelson Mandela.
  • Medium Awareness: Characters often hum or even sing along with the background music.
  • Mind Screw:
    • The Chess Queen two-parter, due to leaving it ambiguous whether the events were just a dream, really happened, or if dream and reality somehow blended together.
    • The circus that Alfred joins in one episode has a wild human as one of its star attractions, indicating that Alfred's world is some bizarre role-reversal of ours. Even more bizarrely, the guy has a tail. (Assuming that's a real tail and not part of his costume.)
  • Mood Whiplash: Many episodes have Downer Endings, followed immediately by the relentlessly upbeat end credits song: "Alfred's so merry, so very, very merry..."
  • Mind-Control Eyes / Red Eyes, Take Warning: Pikkie gets them whenever he sees something shiny. The first time it happens is even accompanied by a Disney Acid Sequence in which the shiny object calls out to him, begging him to steal it.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Alfred and Henk have a moment like this after they get a sawfish to sabotage K. Rokodil's new advanced fishing boat, which results in a massive explosion that sinks the ship, and the sailors on board to barely escape alive. Worse, Captain Stoppel has a minor Heroic BSOD at the sight of his beautiful new ship sinking, and the situation only gets worse when Rokodil announces that he's going to build an even more advanced ship as a result.
  • Naďve Newcomer: Despite being clever overall, the Chess Queen knows very little of the world outside the chessboard, and she ends up being robbed of her crown by Dolf.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Dolf is named after Adolf Hitler, Dr. Livingston after David Livingstone. Winnie, Alfred's girlfriend, was named after Winnie Mandela.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast:
    • Dolf, which is essentially a Dutch form of Adolf.note 
    • There's also Pikkie, translated as "Grabbie", a friend of Alfred's who's affable and easy-going, but due to being a magpie has an unfortunate penchant for taking/stealing shiny stuff, which usually results in a lot of trouble for everyone involved. A better translation for his name would be "Pecker", which actually conveys all three possible Dutch meanings: "to peck with a beak", "to steal something away" and "tiny penis".
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: A half-breed crow named Dolf founds the National Crows Party and takes over Great Waterland in a fascist coup. He also likes to constantly talk about how much superior crows are.
  • Nice Hat:
    • Igor wears a stylish, sparrow-sized fedora as part of his standard outfit.
    • Professor Paljas' standard look also includes a Nice Hat of his own.
    • As a reward for dealing with the Evil Genie Of Darkness, Alfred is given a fancy turban complete with a sparkling diamond.
    • Inspector Holmes wears a sweet hat of his own as part of the grizzled detective look he has going on.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: One episode centers around a pop singer whom Winnie completely fawns over. His name? Michael Duckson. Dolf is clearly based on Hitler and Napoleon. Another episode has a pop singer clearly modelled after Bob Geldof. The pierrot character on the moon is a Creator Cameo of the series' creator Herman Van Veen.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Several episode titles in the original Dutch version don't really have any significant bearing on the actual episode's plot.
    • Episode 10 is titled "The Sacred Turban", when said turban doesn't appear until the last minute of the episode, where Alfred gets it as a reward for overcoming the genie. It's not mentioned to be particularly sacred, either.
    • Episode 16, "Rangpang", refers to Colonel Rangpang, who also only makes an appearance near the end of the episode. The episode itself mostly focuses on Alfred and Henk as they get underway on their journey to the South Pole.
    • Episode 18, "The Polar Star", is a Random Events Plot where Alfred and Henk meet a hungry squid who proceeds to force Alfred to listen to his music, while elsewhere we're introduced to Professor Paljas as he works on his whale translator. The titular star doesn't appear until the last few minutes of the episode, where it shows Alfred and Henk the way to the South Pole.
    • Episode 21, "The Bees": Alfred lends his money to King Franz Ferdinand, not knowing that the royal family is flat broke and unable to pay him back. The titular bees join Alfred as he goes to the castle to demand his money back, and later assist him in dealing with the castle guards.
    • Episode 23, "The Battle For Polderstad": No actual battle ever happens; instead Alfred and crew escape captivity after Dolf takes over and flee the country.
    • Episode 35, "The Snake": The titular serpent only appears briefly at the beginning, and has no bearing on the rest of the plot.
    • Episode 51, "The Rainforest", is probably the worst offender, as nowhere in the entire episode does an actual rainforest appear, nor is one mentioned. Presumably, it has some relation to the episode's Green Aesop, but it's still rather baffling.
    • Note that most of this examples only go for the english speaking version, since the episodes have more fitting names in the original. However "The Snake" and "The Rainforest" are literally translated titles, so they are just as strange in the original.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Appear in several places, though not always consistent; egregiously, Winnie's mother clearly has breasts under her clothes, while Winnie, despite supposedly being an adult, does not. Then, of course, there's the witch who wants to marry Alfred, and transforms herself into a rather well-endowed duck.
  • Omni Disciplinary Scientist: Professor Paljas, adult Alfred's friend and ally, who is apparently an expert in mechanical engineering, rocket science, Egyptology, and linguistics, among other things. Slightly averted when he mentions that global warming is not his field, but played completely straight otherwise.
  • Only in It for the Money: Hannibal is happy to design whatever K. Rokodil needs, regardless of its intended purpose. Likewise, Lispel will spy on anybody and sell the information to whoever pays him the most. He even objects when asked to perform sabotage, and only agrees to do it when threatened.
  • Or Was It a Dream?:
    • Alfred's adventure with the Chess pieces were all just dreams... or so it seems, until the White Queen talks to him after she's put back on the board at the end.
    • After Alfred's experience with a witch trying to marry him turns out to be a nightmare, he takes Winnie out for an evening walk. He almost gets a Heroic BSOD (he snaps out of it pretty quickly) when he briefly spots the witch flying on her broom.
  • Pachelbel's Canon Progression: The title song.
  • Parental Issues: A significant reason why Dolf is so messed up: his mother was a blackbird, which greatly shames him since he wants to be a full-blood crow. Worse, she apparently dies while Dolf is still young, resulting in Dolf's father becoming an alcoholic.
  • Parental Substitute: Henk (a mole) functions as this to Alfred (a duck) after Alfred’s parents and siblings were killed in a car accident. Discussed by Dolf, who thinks Alfred is weird or even inferior for having been raised by someone not his own species.
  • Phrase Catcher: People are prone to comment on the fact that Alfred's house looks just like a giant clog.
  • Poirot Speak:
    • Professor Paljas has a habit of mixing random German words into his sentences, to the point where some of what he says becomes absolutely incomprehensible.
    • Colombo, the circus clown in episode 11, does this as well.
    • The female French poodle accompanying K. Rokodil's business partner Duizendberg in episode 26 does this with Gratuitous French.
  • Pokémon Speak: Dolf's name in the German dub is Kra ("Caw"), the sound crows make, and his catch phrase when startled or annoyed.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • While most of the cursing in the series falls under Gosh Dang It to Heck!, Alfred has one moment where he angrily shouts out "DAMN IT!" when Dolf gets away with the dragon in order to put it on display in K. Rokodil's theme park. Dolf even lampshades it by saying "Alfred, you can't say that!"
    • Combined with Bilingual Bonus in a near-literal case of Getting Crap Past the Radar - when professor Paljas witnesses a whaler ship approaching one of the whales he's trying to communicate with, he lets out an angry "scheisse!".
  • Predators Are Mean: While most characters are from omnivorous or carnivorous species, they appear to be omnivores and do not hunt. The ones who do hunt other animals, with Krabnagel the cat being the only recurring one, are villains, with the exception of the king in the second episode, who enjoys hunting but seems quite reasonable. A noticeable exception happens during one arc, when Captain Stoppel was supposed to hunt fish and had no problem with it until he learnt that it would drive them to extinction. While the fish in question were sapient and talking all the time.
  • Rapid Aging: The fate of those infected by the Mozons virus, provided they can survive the initial symptons. Being cured of the virus instantly reverses the effects, however.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Parmezanidas, the wise old hermit crab, claims to have been around for hundreds of years.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Many of Alfred's friends and allies, including professor Paljas, captain Stoppel, colonel Rangpang, and king Franz Ferdinand.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: In addition to Pikkie, as mentioned above under Mind-Control Eyes, Dolf also gets these when he is in a particularly nasty mood; most prominently when he tries to kill Lispel so he can't tell anybody about Dolf breaching the dike. It's also said red eyes are a common trait in witches, although this rarely ever shows up.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: K. Rokodil. One episode features a snake that tries to kill Paljas and Alfred while exploring a pyramid. Averted (as usual) with turtles, as well as with a reptilian lake monster and the reptile-like alien dragons.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: The aliens that Alfred and Henk meet on their way to the South Pole look like multi-colored, polka-dotted ducks with human feet, lizard tails and antennae.
  • Run for the Border: Alfred and his friends flee to neighbouring Broad Reedland when their home Great Waterland is turned into a fascist dictatorship by Dolf and his National Crows Party.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Evil Genie of Darkness, an ancient spirit who caused so much torment and destruction that God locked him inside a magic bottle.
  • Scenery Porn: Oh so much of it, from the Ghibli Hills of Great Waterland to some of the sights that Alfred and Henk see on their journey to the South Pole.
  • Schizo Tech: The setting freely combines technology, costumes and politics from any point between 1800 and the 1980s. And then there are Professor Paljas' inventions.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Dolf starts out as a simple schoolyard bully, but he quickly ascends through the ranks of villainy.
  • Shapeshifting Seducer: In one episode, Alfred is pursued by a Wicked Witch who wants to marry him. Alfred protests, so she transforms herself into a beautiful duck to make it easier for him. Alfred still refuses, since he's engaged to Winnie.
  • She's a Man in Japan:
    • Bizarrely, in the same country. Ollie the stork starts out female in the Dutch version, and halfway through the show is suddenly referred to as a man, despite looking and sounding exactly the same. He even gets a wife and kids. Word of God confirms this as canon, with the creator of the series stating that this happens in the real world too after all.
    • Ollie was renamed "Lolly" and turned into a female for the Israeli dub.
    • Pikkie is female in the German dub.
  • Shout-Out: The scene of Alfred flying through the night sky with the Chess Queen seems to be directly referencing the famous "Can You Read My Mind?" scene from the first Superman movie, right down to Alfred letting go, falling, and being caught by the Queen.
    • The Mozons Virus story arc has Alfred in the role of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, using Pierrot's violin first to save the country and then to punish its selfish rulers.
  • Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism: Bird characters seem to have a less humanoid anatomy than mammal characters. Since birds are bipedal, this is seldom particularly striking - except when Alfred is swimming the way real ducks do!
  • Space Does Not Work That Way: When floating around in zero gravity, professor Paljas points out to Alfred that he can simply swim around as if he were underwater. Also, the professor's flying windmill, while equipped with a rocket engine, also makes use of the helicopter blades on top to maneuver in space.
  • Space Is Noisy: The violin of the clown on the moon can be heard even in space, despite the fact that there shouldn't be any sound due to a lack of air. Probably justified in that the violin is magic.
  • Stealth Pun: Alfred has a dream where he rides a horse, who promptly drops him off in a desolate, dry country where he nearly dies of thirst. Clearly, the animal was a night-mare.
  • Storming the Castle: Alfred does this three times, two of them literal. First he storms Dolf's home with an entire army of living chess pieces in tow to get back the White Queen's crown. The second time he goes to get back the money he loaned to the king after he won't pay him back, where he ends up driving the entire royal family out of the castle with the help of some bees. Lastly, Alfred tries to slip past the guards to get the king to give the Wana family a residence permit and make them legal citizens.
  • Taken for Granite: The witch threatens to turn Alfred into stone if he doesn't marry her. When he tries to escape during their wedding, she actually does it to his lower half so he can't run away.
  • Take Over the World: Because of an innate fear of being perceived as weak by others, when he's still a child Dolf decides that one day he will simply rule over everyone and everything. Moreover, when he stages his coup he outright declares that he simply wants power for its own sake. A dream he has in the final episode reveals that despite many years having passed he still harbours this desire.
  • Techno Babble: Pretty common with professors Paljas and Hannibal. A memorable instance of this is when Hannibal claims that K. Rokodil's fancy, computer-controlled fishing boat is prone to explode if "the silicon chip makes contact with the guidance system", which is of course pure nonsense as any guidance system worth its salt would obviously contain more than a few chips (which are, naturally made from silicon to begin with, so saying "silicon chip" is rather redundant as well).
  • The Trope without a Title: In the original Dutch version, Winnie's family's native country is only ever referred to as "the homeland".
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Under Dolf's rule, citizens are punished for referring to him as anything but "President Dolf".
    • Lispel to his chauffeur: "That's Mr. Jellyfish to you."
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Hannes and Wannes, Dolf's sluggish henchmen, though they're not together all that often, and eventually go their separate ways when Hannes disappears entirely.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: A pretty effective one in the second episode when Henk witnesses Alfred's parents and siblings get run over by a car.
  • Threatening Shark: When Alfred, Henk, and Pikkie go into a diving bell to investigate the drilling site of an oil platform, they're attacked by a shark that easily dwarfs their craft.
  • Time Skip:
    • After episode 8, the story suddenly skips ahead a few years, with Alfred and all his friends now as adults.
    • A more subtle one happens somwhere between episode 25 and episode 27. Ollie, last seen in 25 as a university student is a successfull lawyer in 27 and in the same arc we learn that Wannes now has a nephew in Atrique.
  • Time Stands Still: In the finale, Dolf dreams about bulldozing a massive, multi-story hourglass, and promptly presents an ultimatum to the world that everything will stop unless he is named the ruler of the world.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Wannes starts out as one half of Dolf's duo of mostly harmless, dim-witted henchmen. Following a Time Skip, he becomes a well-dressed, wealthy goose who is openly racist against black ducks, to the point where he relentlessly hounds the Wana family and tries to get them arrested.
  • Toothy Bird: Even though he obviously doesn't normally have teeth, Alfred occasionally bares them when he's angry. In one episode, he even brushes his teeth after getting out of bed.
  • Tricking the Shapeshifter: Played straight and subverted with the Evil Genie of Darkness.
    • The genie was defeated hundreds of years ago by a traveller who tricked him into going back into his bottle, and then sealed him shut.
    • When Alfred tries the same thing later on it almost works, but the genie then remembers the details of how he was resealed again, and stops halfway through. Alfred only succeeds when he realizes that the Evil Genie can be hurt by light, and forces him back in.
  • Turtle Island: A tropical island turns out to be carried on the back on of a giant turtle. Exploited by the characters using the turtle to take the entire island out of the path of a dangerous tropical storm, saving all the inhabitants.
  • Unexplained Accent: In the German dub, Alfred speaks with an heavy Dutch accent, despite supposedly speaking his native country's language most of the time. (Granted, Great Waterland IS the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the Netherlands, but all other characters speak without any audible accent.) The real world reason is that Alfred's German voice is Ryan van den Akker, the same woman who also provides his voice in the original Dutch version.
  • Unwitting Pawn: King Franz Ferdinand's negligence leads to Dolf being able to take over all of Great Waterland and usurp him without any resistance. However, this does lead the king to realize what a fool he's been all along.
  • Unfortunate Names: Pikkie. His name is a pun on "pikken", a Dutch slang term for stealing (because he can't resist stealing shiny objects). Unfortunately, Pikkie is also a Dutch slang term for a small penis.
  • Vague Age: Whether Alfred is still a school kid or a young (?) adult who has a girlfriend and travels around the world: He always looks exactly the same.
  • Verbal Tic: Professor Paljas has a tendency to end his sentences with "ja, ja!" ("yes, yes!").
  • Villain Ball: Dolf has one of these implanted in his skull. You may have noticed he is really not a nice person.
  • Villain Song:
    • "Miauw" ("Meow"), Krabnagel's ominous Villain Song from episode 3 where he sings about the things he'd like to have to quell his insatiable appetite.
    • "De Kraaienmars" ("The Crow's March") serves as a Villain Song for the Crow's Party as a whole, as they pledge their loyalty to their leader, Dolf.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Dolf, both times that he tries to become president of Great Waterland. The second time is especially egregious considering he staged what amounted to a fascist coup the first time.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Dolf, at several occasions when his plans are foiled. Especially prominent is when he loses the presidential elections to Ollie, and walks off into the sunset with crazy eyes while muttering to himself how he's the only one fit to rule, and later when he gets arrested after stealing Professor Paljas' formula for a clean automobile fuel.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Dolf's last villanous occupation is a combination of arms dealer and warmonger.
  • We Can Rule Together:
    • Dolf twice offers this to Alfred, first when he's looking for money to fund a political party, second when he's found the money elsewhere and is already in the process of seizing power in the entire country.
    • After the second time Alfred himself inverts it when he barges into Dolf's office, demands that Dolf (a Card-Carrying Villain) stop his evil plans and immediately step down. Dolf laughs in his face and just summarily imprisons him.
  • We Have Forgotten the Phlebotinum: Invoked. During a trip to the South Pole to find the whales, Alfred and Henk encounter a race of aliens who possess special translator collars. One episode later, Alfred bemoans the fact that they forgot to ask them to borrow one of the devices, as they'd be immensely useful in translating the language of the whales.
  • Weird Moon: Apparently, a clown playing a magical violin lives up there.
  • We Will Meet Again: After Alfred destroys Dolf's fascisct coup, Dolf and his associates are forced to flee. Just before he does that, he shows up at Alfred's door, and warns him that he may have won this time, but that one day he'll come back and be powerful again.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Alfred and Winnie. They Do in episode 39.
  • What, Exactly, Is His Job?:
    • Although Alfred starts harvesting duckweed at one point, he always reiterates that the proceeds for it go to charity, and so it's unclear if he does actually have a paying job. The way Alfred is constantly ready to go on long trips at the drop of a hat suggests that he doesn't. Kind of glaring considering that most of his friends are shown to have jobs once they grow up.
    • Henk is never explicitly stated to have a job either, but it's reasonable to assume that he makes a living mining coal in the mine next to his house.
  • Wheel 'o Tentacles: Lispel while running away from Alfred in one episode.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: The Genie's bottle can only be opened after midnight.
  • Whole Costume Reference: Dolf's Napoleon attire.
  • Wicked Witch: The witch from the eponymous episode "The Witch" is teleported from her appearance in Hansel and Gretel. She's basically a checklist of the typical portrayal: fat, ancient, monstrous appearance, tattered clothes, eats children, cackles and flies around on a broom (although she has bat wings...) She also tries to force Alfred to marry her.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: Dolf makes repeated mentions of how breaking his wing when falling down a well messed it up for life, and how it still aches periodically.
  • You Are What You Hate: Dolf is actually half-blackbird, though he darkens his beak to hide it.
  • You Dirty Rat: Subverted; Alfred is friends with rats, and they prove incidental in bringing Dolf down.
  • You Keep Using That Word: Hannibal has two separate inventions that he refers to as a "sonar system"; neither of them actually does what a sonar's supposed to do.


    Dutch SeriesBaantjer
ALFWestern Animation of the 1980sAlias the Jester
Albert the Fifth MusketeerWestern AnimationAlias the Jester
Het Zonnetje in HuisDutch Media    

alternative title(s): Alfred Jodokus Kwak; Alfred J Kwak
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