Western Animation: Dora the Explorer

Vámonos! Now tell us which direction we're supposed to go; we've forgotten!

Dora the Explorer (2000–2015) is an animated television series. This program on Nick Jr. is produced in the style of a mid-1990s CD-ROM game. Dora, a cute 7-year-old explorer girl, and her monkey friend, Boots, teach young viewers, in both English and Spanish, how to observe situations and solve problems.

Dora the Explorer is, at present, one of Nickelodeon's most heavily merchandised characters. In March 2009, Mattel raised a minor furor with its new "Tween Dora" doll, mentioned below.

This series is the Trope Namer for Swiper, No Swiping!.

This series provides examples of:

  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: Japanese Dora the Explorer uses "Sound Space Scope" as its Japanese ending theme song. It also uses a remixed version of the opening.
  • The Artifact: The idea of the events of the series being a CD-ROM game is increasingly feeling like this. The computer and the other CD-ROM-like elements were dropped from the opening of the program around the time that the Explorer Stars first showed up. As such, the only remnant of this idea is the click/beep mouse arrow that is used to indicate the Fake Interactivity aspect of the program.
    • As of 2013, the click/beep mouse arrow seems to have been abandoned as well. The things that the show wants kids to pay attention to simply light up, with an accompanying musical chime, but the mouse arrow is gone.
  • Art Evolution: As already mentioned, the program was designed originally to mimic the feel of mid-90s CD-ROM game and it looked like it. As the program has moved away from this, the overall look of the program has improved with more vibrant colors, better animation quality overall and eventually episodes presented in widescreen HD with CGI elements.
  • Bad Future: Seen in Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure. Due to getting put on the naughty list, Swiper completely stops caring about others at all and becomes a true thief, stealing so much stuff that the future Dora outright tells the present Swiper, in a rather bitter fashion, there's nothing left for him to steal and he's ruined Christmas. Thankfully, this future is changed at the end of the episode.
  • Bag of Holding: Dora's appropriately named Backpack was shown in the last Dora/Diego crossover special to have bear milk inside it. Cue blatant lolwut reaction from parents.
    • "Anything that you might need, I've got inside for you." She says it in her song, people.
  • Balloonacy: In at least one episode they ride in a hot air balloon not powered by fire. So how does it fly? Why, they pump it up with a bicycle pump before taking off of course!
  • Bilingual Bonus: Dora the Explorer translated to Spanish is Dora la Exploradora, which rhymes!
    • And the theme song, which has a few words in Spanish, uses it.
  • Big Bad: The series itself really doesn't have a main villain (unless you count Swiper), but most of the movies have their own Big Bad. These villains are typically far more difficult to deal with than Swiper and several are truly evil.
  • Big Eater: Dora's backpack, hence her catch phrase, "Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum! Delicioso!".
  • Blatant Item Placement: OH SO MUCH.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Petunia, the Grumpy Old Troll's wife.
  • Broken Record: "I'm the map! I'm the map! I'm the map! I'm the map! I'm the map! I'm the map! I'm the map! I'm the map! I'm the map!" In the newest episodes, this is dropped almost entirely.
  • Captain Obvious: "The ocean is a rough sea, mates. And it's full of water!"
  • Chekhov's Gun: Swiper's new swiping technique in Swiper's Favorite Things.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Diego had an older sister, Daisy, who completely disappeared after her quinceñera (15th birthday party) and was basically replaced with another older sister, Alicia, upon the launch of Go, Diego, Go!. Daisy does appear in a few other Dora and Diego episodes, including "The Bobo's Mother's Day!" where she looks older than Alicia and is said to be visiting from college.
  • Competition Freak: The Ice Witch, who's convinced she's the best at skating—and steals everyone's ice skates when they can't match her.
  • Conspicuous CG: The entire program is possibly computer-animated, at least in its latter seasons, but the Backpack and Map segments stand out with both as conspicuously CG elements. True also for the updated opening sequence used beginning around 2013.
  • Continuity Porn: The "Dora's Birthday" special.
  • Cool Old Lady: Both Dora and Swiper's grandmothers.
  • Could Have Avoided This Plot: Usually invoked when Swiper swipes something and has no idea what it's for, or tries to swipe something he really wants when he could just ask. A lot of the trouble Swiper ends up in/causing could easily be avoided if he would just ask.
  • Cousin Oliver: The introduction of Dora's twin younger siblings.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Backpack always has everything Dora needs. Even bear milk.
  • Demoted to Extra: It seems like Boots may be headed this way. He used to accompany Dora on all of her adventures, but in at least a couple of latter episodes, he's just someone that she's encountered along the way, like most of the other characters.
  • Disembodied Eyebrows: Both Swiper and the Map, but only when they raise them. A number of other characters as well, including one of the members of the Fiesta Trio and a talking kite that Dora gives her father as a present in "Feliz Dia de Los Padres." Additionally, any random animal seen within the series may have these.
  • Distressed Dude: Swiper in Dance to the Rescue.
  • Do They Know It's Christmas Time?: Boots wonders out loud whether Swiper would swipe on Christmas, and - give Dora credit - Dora doesn't put it past him.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Dora and Swiper have to work their asses off to help him get off the naughty list in Christmas Carol Adventure.
  • Endless Winter: An episode had Dora and her friends trying to find Mother Nature and end winter.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Swiper's conscience often gets the better of him. He won't swipe gifts for people he cares about. If he swipes something and then learns it's for somebody, like Santa or a Puppy, he'll immediately give it back, no strings attached.
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: Dora, Boots, Tico, Isa, Benny, and Swiper all met in one episode. Which is strange, as in Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure, it's shown that they had known each other since they were babies.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Boots.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Two of the double-length specials, "Dora's Fairytale Adventure" and "Dora Saves the Snow Princess".
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Guess what the Big Red Chicken is.
    • Guess what Boots wears.
    • Guess what Dora does.
    • Guess what Benny The Bull eats.
    • Guess what Isa The Iguana plants.
    • Guess what Tico The Squirrel drives.
    • Swiper, well...
  • Fantasy Helmet Enforcement: Dora is a spokesperson for a St. Jude's program promoting bike safety. Additionally, she is always shown buckling up in the car.
  • Free-Range Children: Where the hell are Dora's parents?
    • They are there in one episode at least, to help retrieve the twins who've wandered off, but most of the time, yes, they appear absent and perfectly willing to let their daughter roam through all sorts of dangers.
    • Dora's mother is shown to be an archeologist. Her parents don't hesitate to encourage her.
    • Though Dora and Boots' parents are perfectly fine with letting them sleep over with Swiper, you know, the person who repeatedly steals from everyone in the entire rainforest...
  • Friend to All Living Things: And inanimate objects.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: There's an episode about a "Best Friends Day". One pair of best friends is a talking lock and key. And yes, the key is inserted and turned. And before you ask, the moment of penetration is offscreen. Guess they couldn't get it completely past the radar.
    • Another instance of this trope was in a Diego/Dora crossover, where they help a giant tortoise find a mate. Though they used the term "a friend" instead of mate, they explicitly state that it was in order to save the species.
    • The "Crocodile Rock" song on the Diego & Dora: Animal Jamboree album. It's a cover of an old Elton John song, but it's still weird to hear singing about "an old gold Chevy and a place of my own" and "long nights crying by the record machine." The song can be heard for free, officially, on MySpace, here.
  • Girliness Upgrade:
    • Tween Dora.
    • The franchise itself has gotten more feminine compared to the early days.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Dora and Boots have a sleepover with Swiper at the end of Swiper's Favorite Things.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: Swiper.
  • Gratuitous Spanish:
    • Spoofed in the Saturday Night Live parody in which the Dora Expy, among other things, randomly speaks in various languages.
    • Adélie Penguins, explicitly identified as such, and encountered in the Antarctic, apparently speak Gratuitous Spanish.
    • The Spanish-language version of Dora, the book releases at least, plays this exactly as you would expect. It has gratuitous English.
    "Dora, Boots, come quick!" les dijo Conejo a sus amigos. — Dora Salva el Bosque Encantado (Dora Saves the Enchanted Forest)
  • Guest Star Party Member: From time to time characters will join Dora on her quest, from random characters to even Swiper. In Catch The Babies though, Dora's entire family joins in.
  • Harmless Villain: Swiper the Fox does want to steal from them, but can be stopped if you chant "Swiper, no swiping!" three times fast enough. On occasion, he actually does manage to grab stuff before you can. (Or, he's been known to say that "you're too late.") What does he do with it? He doesn't keep it. No, he chucks it into the bushes, chuckles about how you'll never find it, and runs off. Dora manages to spot it within three guesses from the various MacGuffin lookalikes in the bushes, and they're back in business. And thanks to Take Your Time, they don't even lose ground in their quest.
    • He did take a stolen item to his home, the Blueberry Bush. Dora did manage to retrieve it.
    • In Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure, they try "Swiper, no swiping!" on the elderly Swiper when they travel to the future. He states that that doesn't work on him anymore and steals the object anyway. He also keeps everything he swipes in his new castle home. This is explained that, because he ended up on the Naughty List, he just stopped caring about others.
    • And in one of the specials, he actually ends up going on a globetrotting trip with Dora to return friendship bracelets he stole, fending off various other animals with his own sticky fingered traits.
  • "I Am Great!" Song: The Ice Witch sings this kind of song.
  • I Know Your True Name: Saying "Swiper, no swiping" enough times prevents Swiper from stealing objects. In a few episodes there's also an asshole rain cloud who is forcefully repelled by singing the "Rain, Rain, Go Away" song.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Swiper is obviously the show's main antagonist. While he steals from people, it rarely does any harm to them, and even though he's stolen from everyone for years, they still see him as a friend. This often comes in handy for Swiper's sake, as there are a few cases where he ends up in trouble and needs help himself. As of now, Swiper's probably teetering on the line of Anti-Villain, or he's turning into a Heel-Face Revolving Door.
  • Instant Costume Change: In Dora's World Adventure, Dora seems to magically change into the clothing that suits each country that she visits in an instant. We don't see it happening - she just passes behind things and emerges in the new outfit, even though she couldn't possibly have had time to change into it. Averted, however, in the computer game version, in which dressing Dora for the countries is part of the tasks.
  • Kawaisa: Dora is already designed to be rather cute, but the My Best Friend Dora board books take this to a new level with soft pastel colors, even bigger eyes, soft edges and two little hairs sticking out from the top of Dora's head.
  • Keep It Foreign: The Spanish dub reverses the languages.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The film's Big Bads are normally, if not genuinely evil, at least far more threatening than the villains in a typical episode. Several are truly evil.
    • Future!Swiper in the Bad Future in the Christmas Special. Unlike the present Swiper, he really steals from people and the Swiper, no swiping trick doesn't work on him anymore. The moment he shows up the tone suddenly becomes a good bit more serious as well.
  • The Merch: You betcha. Toys and games? Check. Books and videos. Check. Want Dora and her friends in your bath or shower? They've got body wash, shampoo, conditioner (and at least one that's all three in one), bubble bath, washcloths, towels and more.
  • Misplaced Vegetation: As the example noted below, Dora and boots sometimes picks wild blueberries. But this show is implied to take place in Mexico, where blueberries never grow.
  • Moral Dissonance: So Swiper the Fox is there to teach us that stealing is bad, mmmkay? But then in the Blueberry Hunt episode, Dora and Boots sneak onto a hill to pick blueberries. They discuss in advance how Swiper lives on that hill (in fact, his hole is directly behind the blueberry bush!) and they take extra care to be quiet so they don't alert him to their presence. And then they get angry eyebrows when they think about how Swiper might try to swipe their blueberries.
  • MST3K Mantra: Invoked in Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure when the current Dora travels into the future and meets her tween counterpart.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Swiper, unless it's an episode where he's set as an actual protagonist, always gets this treatment. If Dora has to help him along with her other friends, he'll always come last. A good example is in the episode The Lost City, where Dora needs to find everyone's lost possessions. Swiper's the last person to be helped. unless you count Boots finding his lost blankie, but he didn't actually need help.
  • No Fourth Wall: Done regularly whenever she addresses the viewer. This then leads into a creepy ten second pause during which she stares directly at you waiting for a "response from the viewer."
    • Parodied in College Humor's "gritty live-action reboot" Dora the Explorer and the Infinity Orb:
      Diego: (pointing a gun) Swiper, he's right behind you.
      Dora: Where?
      Diego: Right behind you!
      Dora: (looking right at the camera) Do you see Swiper?
      Diego: (exasperated sigh)
  • No Indoor Voice: Dora's voice is probably better known than she is.
    • Then again, she does spend a lot of time outdoors.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Boots the monkey.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: For any of Swiper's gadgets in "Dora's Got a Puppy"
  • Outdoorsy Gal: Dora the Explorer embarks on a trip in every episode, where she uses her map to travel anywhere from through the jungle to over a mountain.
  • Plot-Induced Stupidity: Why the hell doesn't Dora simply go around the obstacles her Map shows her, instead of wasting time moving through them? Simple answer: Because then, the writers wouldn't have a show.
    • Justified with bridges and rivers, since you can't exactly go around them. Also justified with large obstacles. In reality, it would take twice as long to go around something like a lake, rather than just go across it.
  • Pokémon Speak: The ants and spiders say what they are, as do the crabs in "Beaches" and "Best Friends Day", and the snowmen, snowballs, and storm clouds in the fairy tale episode. almost everything in the show that doesn't speak say their names.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: "Meet Diego!", who got his own series.
  • The Power of Friendship: Pops up every now and then, but becomes a part of the main plot in Dora's World Adventure.
  • Precious Puppies: Dora's puppy, Perrito. Even Swiper has a weakness for puppies and won't keep a gift once he learns that it's for Perrito. Swiper also has a book about puppies that his Grandmother reads to him whenever he sleeps at her house.
  • Prehensile Tail: Boots.
  • Reading Is Cool Aesop: Used in "Dora's Royal Rescue," which is essentially a Whole Plot Reference of Don Quixote, save the more adult bits about Quixote being crazy. At one point, after Swiper is stopped, he sees some books, including one about puppies that he'd like to read, and Dora's steed tells him "No one can be all bad if he likes to read." Oh, and by the way, the love of reading is ultimately what defeats the villain, making his magic wand go away as the characters declare "I love to read!" and encouraging the viewers to do so also. It turns out that the reason he wants to stop everyone from reading is because he himself can't read. He never learned. In the end, Don Quixote agrees to teach him read, at Dora's suggestion.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Santa, all the time, and Elf and Cane in Dance To The Rescue.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Map knows where everything is even before it's gets there.
  • Sequel Episode: In one episode, Boots retrieves his favorite toy for a sleepover with Dora. The next episode has Dora and Boots helping a little rooster to wake up the sun the next morning.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Phrases like "Stormy Storm" are not uncommon here.
  • She's All Grown Up: Well, not quite, but the toy maker is producing a 'Tween Dora' to appeal to older kids. Parents were expecting Bratz Dora. And they got it. And on August 7, 2011, the first episode of Tween Dora aired.
  • Similar Squad: As Dora and Swiper travel to France, Tanzania, Russia and China in Dora's World Adventure, they discover equivalents of themselves in each country. They also meet a cranky troll in Russia.
  • Smelly Skunk: In "Dora's Got A Puppy", Dora and Boots come across one and wisely leave it alone. However, Swiper's attempt to steal from them results in him grabbing it. He doesn't get skunked, but it still sends him running.
    • Fifi the Skunk from "Dora's World Adventure" averts this. She doesn't stink, they just don't want her to swipe from them.
  • Spin-Off: Go, Diego, Go! and Dora's Explorer Girls.
  • Subverted Kids Show: College Humor created the parody ConquistaDora The Explorer, in which ConquistaDora teaches kids how to conquer and enslave the tribes of the New World for the royal kingdom of Spain.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: The witch in Dora's Fairytale Adventure. Her minions don't seem to be capable of doing anything quite right and at one point actually get so caught up in one of Dora's accomplishments on her path to becoming a true princess that they cheer for her.
  • Swiper, No Swiping!: As already mentioned in the show intro, the show is the trope namer for this. If Dora/friends (and the viewers) are able to successfully say "Swiper, no swiping!" three times before he's able to swipe something, then Swiper is stopped. If not, then he declares "you're too late!" Also, in "Dora's Royal Rescue," Dora is able to stop obstacles such as dragons simply by declaring "Stop! I'm a knight!"
  • Take Your Time: So their friend Benny is being swept away in a hot air balloon, headed straight for Crocodile Lake! Oh no! They need to fix the hole in his balloon before the balloon dips so low that the crocs eat him! But c'mon, it's not like they need to hurry. They stroll along at their usual beat (to the walking song they always use), even pause to dance out the musical portions. It's only once they get very close to Crocodile Lake that they start sprinting toward their doomed friend. It's like they manufacture their own cliffhanger moments. In another episode, "We All Scream For Ice Cream", Dora and Boots really want ice cream, but they need to go to Coney Island to get it. But even though they REALLY want it badly, they have no need to hurry. They just take their time and walk slowly.
  • Tempting Fate: Invoked on several occasions, usually involving Swiper. "I hope Swiper doesn't try to swipe <object>!" *Cue Swiper's signature whisking sound* "Oh no! That sounds like Swiper!"
  • Troll Bridge: The grumpy old troll who lives under the briiiiiiidge...
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: The Big Bad of "Dora Saves The Enchanted Forest", Owl.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: When the viewers are asked to shout commands, Dora pretends she can't hear them. "Say arriba! Louder! Say arriba! Louder!"
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: A few of the villains from the specials are genuinely threatening. Of note is the witch from "Dora's Fairytale Adventure", who was not only truly evil, but had absolutely no qualms about putting Boots into a never ending sleep For the Evulz.
  • Villain Song: Depends if you consider him a "villain", but the Grumpy Old Troll's song.
    • Owl, the Big Bad of "Dora Saves The Enchanted Forest", has "I've Got A Rule For That", about all the unfair rules he's put in place to make him able to do whatever he wants to.
    • The Witch from "Dora's Fairy Tale Adventure" has a short one.
    • The Ice Witch has one in "Dora's Ice Skating Spectacular."
  • Watch It Stoned: If you believe Kevin Smith.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: You only have to say "Swiper, no swiping!" three times to make him go away.
    • In a Bad Future (for this show anyway), this doesn't work anymore.
  • Wedding Day: "The Grumpy Old Troll Gets Married"
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: It's somewhere in a Spanish-speaking rainforest. Diego episodes seem to confirm that the setting is in South America, anyway.
  • Winter Royal Lady: The snow princess.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: Swiper is placed on Santa's naughty list in Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure. He and Dora have to travel to the past and future in order for Swiper to get off the list. Although why they would do such a thing is unclear.
    • Nobody wants to be on the naughty list at Christmas. Not even Swiper.

Alternative Title(s):

Dora The Explorer