Western Animation: Madagascar
is a successful 2005 computer-animated comedy
produced by DreamWorks Animation
. The movie is about four friends- Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo and Melman the giraffe - who live in New York's Central Park Zoo. Since they have lived their whole life in the zoo, they are unaware of what the wilderness is like or the fact that Alex is their natural predator (he believes the natural role of lions is to perform song-and-dance numbers). After they are shipped off to a wildlife reserve for escaping, they become shipwrecked on the coast of Madagascar. There they meet a society of lemurs and Alex's true nature starts to emerge.
In late 2008 a sequel titled Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
came out. The sequel takes place shortly after the first movie. The penguins fix a crashed airplane and the zoo animals (plus King Julien and Maurice) try to fly back to New York but run out of fuel (or perhaps more accurately, run out of plane) and crash. They land in a wildlife reserve and discover not only that there are others like them, but the lion pride in charge is Alex's family.
A third film titled Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
came out June 8, 2012. The animals are still trying to find a way back to New York, and end up journeying to Europe, where they find help in a traveling circus. While dodging a fanatical animal control officer, they help make the circus a spectacular success as a means to an end of getting to America.
The Madagascar series has received mixed to positive reception when it comes to critics and fans alike.note
With each film, the critical reviews became considerably better (although the second one is a bit of a Contested Sequel
within the fanbase), ending with the third one as the best reviewed of the series. It should be noted that Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
narrowly beat out Pixar's Brave
on the Tomato-Meter
in 2012 with a solid 79%.
There have also been two Christmas Specials
: the short film A Christmas Caper
(set before the first movie
) and the TV special Merry Madagascar
(set between the first and second movies
). A Valentine's Day TV special, Madly Madagascar
, has been announced as well. Like with many animation properties, a series of tie-in games exists.
The series is notable for featuring the voices of comedians Chris Rock
and Ben Stiller
, as well as Friends
alumnus David Schwimmer. On March 29, 2009 a Spinoff
called The Penguins of Madagascar
premiered on Nickelodeon
. It takes place in Central Park Zoo and most notably features the penguins, lemurs, and chimps, and is not canonically related to the films. The main cast do not make appearances in the series though Alex has a cameo in one of the specials as Skipper's spirit guide
In November 2014, a spinoff film, Penguins of Madagascar
, was released. As its name implies, it centralizes on the penguins, although it is still in canon with the movies instead of the TV series, taking place after the third film. On December 19, 2014 another spinoff series All Hail King Julien
premiered on Netflix
, this time taking place on Madagascar prior to the events of the first film.
The Madagascar films provide examples of the following tropes:
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- Accidental Misnaming:
- No, Makunga, his name's Bob, not Shirley.
- Stefano keeps calling Alex "Alice".
- Alter Kocker: The old lady, complete with Vampire Vords.
- Ambiguously Gay: King Julien, especially in the second film, when he's in drag before his subjects and asks which one of them is attracted to him. The third film confirms him as at least bisexual when he falls in love with a female bear.
- Animal Talk
- Anthropomorphic Zig Zag: The animal characters go between walking on all fours to walking like human beings like it's nobody's business.
- Artifact Title: The second film starts in Madagascar, and has nothing else to do with it.
- The third film seems to have nothing to do with Madagascar, but at the end of the film, Captain Chantel, along with three officers, are sent to Madagascar.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Skipper, the penguin's leader.
- Axe Crazy: The penguins are a well-oiled comedic killing machine.
- Badass Bystander
- Bamboo Technology: Marty's house in the first movie, and the plane in the second movie does it twice.
- The (rebuilt) plane (more like an autogyro) reappears in the third film but ends up completely totaled with no hope for repair.
- Breakout Character: The Penguins, who got their own short, and later an animated series.
- Butt Monkey: Mort. Even more so in the television spinoff.
- Call Back:
- In Europe's Most Wanted, the circus animals realise Alex had been lying to them about "Trapeze Americano", whereupon Stefano even says "you're name's not really Alex!". Which is technically true according to Escape 2 Africa.
- Actually Stefano is saying "Alice", as part of his Italian accent gag. So yes, Alex is not really Alice.
- Carnivore Confusion: Invoked in the first film, where Alex' nature as a lion comes out the longer he goes without food, eventually causing him to turn on his herbivore friends. In the sequels the issue is never brought up again, as Alex finds out he can get by on seafood.
- Chekhov's Gun: "When we need water, we build a dam!"
- Not to mention the bite marks on Marty's butt from the first film, which Alex uses to tell the difference between him and the rest of the herd of identical zebras in the second.
- The diamonds and gold found in the second movie become more useful in the third movie.
- "Trapeze Americano".
- The Chew Toy: Alex and Melman have their moments, especially in the first movie.
- Christmas Special: A Christmas Caper and Merry Madagascar.
- Cloudcuckoolander: King Julien, ever so much.
- Cool Old Lady: The little old woman from the first movie, who beats up a lion while everyone else is running in terror. She returns in the second, and actually contrives to become even more dangerous. She is present in the penguins' special, too, but lacking Alex she has no fighting scene.
- Denser and Wackier: Goes further in this direction with every new movie.
- Disney Acid Sequence: In the third movie. Lampshaded with a Shout-Out to another one.
- Alex's Mushroom Samba from the first movie, when he's hit by a tranquilizing dart (set to the Sammy Davis, Jr. cover of "The Candy Man").
- Elderly Blue-Haired Lady: Not literally, but the Penguins identify that old woman by the codename 'Bluehair'.
- Escaped Animal Rampage: The first movie is about a gang of zoo animals who escape in the city because one of them - Marty the zebra - is bored of his zoo life, and the others follow him. They are then re-captured and released into the wild.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: So much so that it crosses with Ensemble Dark Horse and eventually spawned a spin-off.
- Fat and Skinny: King Julien and Maurice. Somewhat inverted because the fat one is the Straight Man.
- Gloria and Melman count as well.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Marty (the zebra), Gloria (the hippo) and Skipper (the penguin) all manage to get crap past the radar over the course of the movies.
- The HELP message having the "p" fall down to spell out HELL.
- When 'landing' the plane in the second movie, Skipper has this exchange with Rico:
Skipper: Rico, you've had your fun. Pull up. Gear down. Gently. You just want to kiss the ground. Just a peck, a smooch, like you'd kiss your sister.
(Rico slams the landing wheel into the ground so hard that it snaps off)
Skipper: (irritated) I said kiss it!
- During the Meadow Run scene, when Marty realizes that Alex is livid, he says "oh" followed by a drawn out "sh" sound, which turns into "sugar". This appears to merely be something of a Last-Second Word Swap, unless you notice that he says "Sugar Honey Ice Tea."
- In the third movie, Vitaly gets a moment that is this, Unusual Euphemism, and Parental Bonus all at once: "Bolshevik!"
- "I was flyin'! I was F'ing-'ell-yin'!"
- King Julien and the she-bear have a hilariously Does This Remind You of Anything? sequence involving the words "No means no!"
- Don't forget the fact that Gloria's rear end is shown multiple times. In the open. Without any clothes on. It gets even worse in Madagascar 3, where the only clothing she gets for the circus scene is a tutu.
- In one scene in the third movie an elephant is being hit by a kid with a slingshot, then gets frightened and (after losing grip on his partner) rolls backwards. Guess who he runs into.
- When the monkeys unionize in the second film, they demand maternity leave benefits, which confuses Skipper who looks under the table to verify that the monkeys are in fact all male.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Alex in the first film: "Darn you! Darn you all to heck!"
- Done again by Vitaly in the third film: "That's bolshevik!"
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Maurice.
- Interquel: Merry Madagascar takes place between the first and second movies.
- Interspecies Romance: In the sequel, Melman reveals he has feelings for Gloria. By the end of the movie, it's mutual. In third movie we get Julien and Sonya, and Alex and Gia.
- At least, Alex and Gia are both felines.
- In Merry Madagascar there is Private and Cupid.
- Jive Turkey: Marty the Zebra is the only one of the group to use street slang.
- Keet: Alex is really hyperactive, especially in the first one. So much that Skipper refers to him as "that psychotic lion". This is probably a gag on that Alex called the penguins psychotic earlier.
- Large Ham: King Julien XIII.
- Leitmotif: Several of the characters/character groups seem to have their own theme:
- King Julien has "I Like To Move It Move It" (also the series's theme).
- Mort has this dorky "La La La La La" song.
- Moto Moto has "I Like Them Big, I Like Them Chunky".
- Alex has "Alex The Lion" & "The Traveling Song". He also shares a Love Theme with Gia the Jaguar, "Love Comes As A Surprise".
- The Penguins as a theme done in the style of Mission: Impossible, James Bond, or spy flicks in general.
- The Chimps have a goofy, bouncy theme that can only be described as "fun-loving mayhem".
- Makunga has a throbbing, dark, ominous, villainous bad guy theme.
- Nana has the theme from The Good The Bad And The Ugly....polka-style (being a stereotypical Jewish granny Alter Kocker and all).
- Vitaly has this cool, deep, Russian choir of deep, manly voices.
- Chantell DuBois has this really swanky & vampish tango music.
- Male Gaze/ Female Gaze: Done quite disturbingly in Moto Moto's entrance.
- The way the camera lingers on Vitaly as he douses himself in oil/mane conditioner for his act is...suggestive.
- When DuBois is sniffing out the animals in Monte Carlo, one of her men can't help but get a good look at her as she's crawling around. Another officer notices this and smacks him.
- Done alot with Gloria. They don't even try to hide her rear end!
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Gloria and Melman.
- Meaningful Echo: Alex says to Marty, "I'm thinking of a song. It's a wonderful song. I think you're familiar with it." Then after singing, the first verse of New York, New York, Alex says, "C'mon, you know the words. Two little words." Later, Marty says and does the same thing after he tells Alex, who is on the fossa side of the island so that he can protect Marty and the others from himself, that he's not leaving without him.
- It becomes a Tranqed Mid Sentence, and he hams it up with an imitation Russian accent, but it's still pretty meaningful when Alex echoes Vitaly's Badass Boast: "We go back and we show them how wrong we were...and if we go down in flames...so be it!" (The first part also echoes Alex's intended rebuke for the penguins in Monte Carlo, "show them how wrong they were (for leaving us)".)
- Meaningful Name: According to the November 2008 issue of National Geographic Kids, "Moto Moto" in an African language (they didn't say which one, possibly Swahili) does mean "hot hot".
- Vitaly's name is one letter away from "vital" and he is The Heart of the circus. "As Vitaly goes, so does the circus."
- Mundane Made Awesome: Good God, the Penguins are so full of this it's ridiculous. Wait, that was the whole point, wasn't it?
- Mushroom Samba: Alex has two of them when he is shot in the hand by a tranquilizer dart.
- Musical Foreshadowing: The first time Gia appears at the door of the boxcar (when Alex says they're circus), a musical snippet of their love theme, "Love Always Comes As a Surprise", plays, and just before this when Alex is trying to convince Vitaly to let them on, a snatch of his theme song "Light the Hoop on Fire" which is heard in its entirety during his Backstory scene, plays.
- Musical Slapstick Montage
- Never Say "Die": Averted across the first two movies, though principally (if not always) with Ineffectual Death Threats.
- Nice Hat: King Julien consistently makes himself bigger and more garish crowns with leaves, small animals, carved wood, flamingo feathers... anything. What he does with the old ones is unknown. In the first movie he has two different crowns and in the second he changes between three different crowns.
- No Cartoon Fish: The fish are the only non-anthropomorphic animals in the entire first film, and thus the only things predators can eat without feeling guilty.
- Averted in the second film, with the screaming fish at the watering hole.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Melman the giraffe seems to be a parody of Woody Allen, if being nerdy, neurotic, and Ambiguously Jewish is any indication.
- Non-Mammal Mammaries: Surprising averted in a film where hippos can walk on their back legs.
- In the third film, however, Gia the jaguar has a body shape that certainly suggests breasts.
- Officer and a Gentleman: Skipper.
- Official Couple: By the end of the second movie, Melman and Gloria. This carries over into the third movie, though very little is done with it, aside from a few pet names and their duo tightrope act.
- Older Than They Look: Mort. Word of God says that Mort is actually 35. The scene revealing this was cut out. This takes him from cute, to downright creepy.
- Only Sane Man: Maurice - although not by a whole lot. He has a tendency to agree with King Julien on a lot of his majesty's crazy ideas.
- Out of Focus:
- Melman and Gloria have a substantial amount of lines and screen time in the third film, but the story mostly focuses on Alex and the circus folk, with the Penguins, Julien, and the police having their own subplots.
- Overly Long Gag: Anything Julien says feels like this.
Talking to crowd: What does that do? Excellent question. First, my sacrifice goes in the volcano. Then, the friendly gods eat up my sacrifice.
As water god: Mmm, very nice. Thank you for the sacrifice.
As Julien: Here, have another sacrifice.
As water god: No, I've had enough for today.
As Julien: Listen, I'm going to be very insulted if you don't take another.
As water god: I don't want another sacrifice, okay?
As Julien: But look at you! You look skinny!
As water god: No! I've had enough! Is that clear?
- Gia's shooting down of Alex's somewhat delusional belief the circus animals saw him as an intimidating leader partakes of this too.
- Overly Long Name: King Julien's full name.
- Parental Bonus:
- Prequel: A Christmas Caper takes place before the first movie.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Mort the lemur.
- Rule of Funny: More and more with the series. WHY can Marty soar through the air in the 3rd move?! Because it's hilarious.
- Running on All Fours: Lampshaded by Marty.
- Sassy Black Woman: Gloria is voiced to sound like one.
- Saving Christmas: Merry Madagascar.
- Scenery Porn
- Sequel Hook: The penguins decide not to tell the gang that the ship has no fuel and that they're still stuck on the island, perfectly setting up the next film.
- "You maniac! You burned it up! Darn you! Darn you to heck!"
- Again to Planet of the Apes in the second movie, Skipper says he's so happy at the monkey he could kiss him. Monkey: All right, but you're just so darned ugly." and casually smooches him, to Skipper's surprise.
- "It's a cookbook! IT'S A COOKBOOK!!!''
- Marty graciously reminds zoogoers to "NEVER spay or neuter their pets."
- Mort acting like a gremlin on the plane's wing, and initially identified as one.
- "Move over, Miss Daisy!"
- Mention is made of a Canadian-French circus which got rid of all its animals to make a big show — Cirque du Soleil, in other words.
- This could be coincidental, but looking at the designs of the elephants in the circus, the drawings of them by Craig Kellman are reminiscent of the elephants from The Jungle Book.
- Dubois 'awakens' her team with "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien".
- The plan to break into the casino has resemblance to Mission: Impossible, complete with Alex using his nails to cut glass and using rope for "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop
- Plus Dubois apparently channeling Major Kusanagi when trying to hold back the plane.
- When the British dogs are fighting at one point, one can be heard to say "I'll have your guts for garters!"
- In the first movie, Gloria asks the penguins where the people on the boat have gone; they tell her, "We killed them and ate their livers."
- Small Annoying Creature: Mort.
- Soft Glass: The old lady flying through the jeep's windscreen. Though this is the same woman who can hold her own against lions, and survived the same jeep knocking her over.
- The Zoosters also fall unscathed through a skylight in Europe's Most Wanted.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: "What a Wonderful World" plays while Alex flees his friends and his friends (elsewhere) see various animals getting eaten as they take a walk.
- Somewhat justified in that the music itself is more melancholic than you would anticipate from the text.
- Another during the second movie. While Alex is fighting the old lady, a fast polka version of The Good The Bad And The Ugly's theme is played.
- It's reprised at the end when Nana (the old lady) beats up Makunga.
- Also in Escape 2 Africa, the plane rescue of Alex has "Copacabana" playing.
- And in Escape 2 Africa, the jeep the penguins steal has a tape that plays "More Than A Feeling".
- In the third film, Enya's Watermark plays during Sonya and Julien's Falling in Love Montage.
- Spell My Name with an "S": King Julien, not Julian.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: In A Christmas Caper, after Private runs off, Skipper tells his men to think about the Penguin Credo. Kowalski thinks that he is referring to "Never bathe in hot oil and bisquick." Later, when the penguins find Private again, Skipper tells him to remember the Penguin Credo, and he replies "What does swimming in bisquick have to do with anything?"
- In the third movie, both DuBois and Vitaly comment on Alex's "glossy mane".
- Take That
Hmm, New York. It's kind of a dump. Are you sure we're not in New Jersey
Alex: What?! I'm a New Yorker, I don't drive!
- Tastes Like Chicken: The little old lady says lions do.
- Those Two Guys: King Julien and Maurice.
- Maurice and Mort in the third film.
- Also, the chimpanzee duo.
- When Elders Attack: The little old lady.
- Ascended Extra: The little old lady from the first movie plays an important role in the second.
- Black Comedy: In the first film, Marty, Melman, and Gloria try to save a duckling after witnessing a mouse get attacked by a snake and carried off by a hawk. When they take the duckling to a nearby lake, a crocodile swoops up and swallows him whole.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: "The fossa. They're always annoying us by trespassing, interrupting our parties, and ripping our limbs off."
- Carnivore Confusion: Alex's arc in the first movie is an interesting take on this - Alex grew up in the zoo and has eaten steak his entire life, so he never learned to hunt and never realized Marty was "made of steak", so to speak. When he hasn't eaten for a couple days, his instincts kick in and he has a hard time coming to terms with his predatory nature. He eventually deals with it by having the penguins make him sushi - apparently fish aren't sentient. (In the second film this is ignored.)
- Cassandra Truth: Maurice is constantly dismissed when trying to explain that Alex's odd behavior around Marty is because of his carnivorous nature.
- Curse Cut Short: Combined with Getting Crap Past the Radar & Thermometer Gag concerning a birthday gift from Melman to Marty...cue Marty going, "MOTHER-F..*Phhbbllaaghht*!"
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: "I'm going to strangle you! And bury you! Then dig you up and clone you, and then kill all your clones! And then, I'm never talking to you again!"
- Cuteness Proximity: Invoked (unintentionally) when Julien first tests the New York animals by throwing Mort to them.
Gloria: I just wanna dunk him in my coffee!
- Fun with Acronyms: "Oh, '''S'''ugar '''H'''oney '''I'''ce '''T'''ea!"
- Horror Hunger: Lions are carnivores, and Alex's friends are made of meat...
- Hulkspeak: The fossa.
- I Am a Monster: Alex says this once his lion instincts start kicking in out of hunger, and his friends start turning into Meat-O-Vision steaks.
- I'll Kill You!:
I'm gonna kill you, Marty! I'm gonna strangle you! Then bury you! Then dig you up and clone you! Then I'm gonna kill all your clones! Then, I'm never talking to you again!
- Implausible Deniability: Alex, when he first loses it and attacks Marty.
Marty: Excuse me, you're biting my butt!
Alex: (teeth clamped on Marty's butt) ...No I'm not.
- Island Help Message: They were trying to say "HELP", but it ended up "HELL".
- It Has Been an Honor: When it looks like the fossa will overwhelm them, Skipper has a few parting words for his crew.
Skipper: It's been a real pleasure serving with you boys.
- I Was Just Joking: In the first movie Skipper knows perfectly well that everybody thinks he and his team are crazy. He doesn't seem to care.
Gloria: Where are the people?
Skipper: We killed 'em and ate their livers. (Gloria looks horrified. Skipper just grins) Gotcha, didn't I?
- Meadow Run: Played with. Nothing like realizing halfway through a Meadow Run that one of the duo is really, really furious...
- Meat-O-Vision: An interesting twist, in that the character in question (a lion) is looking this way at a zebra, which in the wild would have been among its prey.
- Mood Whiplash: The first half of the movie is your typical animated comedy. But during the third act, after Alex bites Marty and tries to eat him, the movie becomes rather dark and depressing. But everything is back to normal at the end.
- Mouth Cam: The sequence where Alex is trying to be friendly with Mort, with a Mouth Cam shot used to show just how threatening he is unintentionally being.
- Mushroom Samba: Alex has two of them after being shot in the hand by a tranquilizer dart. Both have "The Candy Man" playing in the background, but the second samba is sped up.
- Noisy Nature: Played with: The main characters are animals in a New York City zoo. Fair enough - but in the background are generic jungle noises. The cast go to bed... and Alex yells that someone left the ambiance on. When that happens, a generic New York City background noise replaces it, complete with sirens. Alex the lion then yawns and relaxes and goes to sleep. Surprisingly, this is Truth in Television, since many zoos do have random jungle white noise played throughout the park to make the guests (and animals) feel more immersed.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: The ending of the first film implies this may be the case for Julien. May.
- Parachute in a Tree: When Alex demands to meet the people, King Julien points to the skeleton of a parachuter on a tree.
- Parodies of Fire: The Chariots of Fire theme music is played when Alex and Marty find each other after getting shipwrecked in Madagascar, and run towards each other in slow motion. Then Alex gets angry and starts chasing Marty... still in slow motion.
- Parrot Expo-what?:
King Julien: Welcome to Madagascar!
King Julien: No, not who-ha. As-car.
- Seldom Seen Species: The lemurs. Also their far more obscure predator, the fossa.
- Yes, it's spelled "F-O-S-S-A".
- Shown Their Work: There's a scene in the first film where Melman sits in a hole in the ground and waits to die, with his will written in the sand. The commentary notes that someone went and researched it, so what was written in the sand was a legally binding will in the State of New York. Also, Phil's sign language is genuine.
- The mountain range Alex exiles himself to is based on the Tsigny De Bamaraha national park, which is covered in razor sharp rocks.
- Spit Take: In the scene where Alex finally comes to the "Fun Side" of the island, Marty offers him a coconut full of seawater.
Marty: Oh, you don't swallow it, it's just temporary until the plumbing's done.
- Superpowered Evil Side: More like a "Superpowered wild side" in the first movie.
- Tailor-Made Prison: Alex in the first movie. His Heroic BSOD leads to him building his own enclosure.
- This Is My Side: During Alex's feud with Marty during the first movie.
- Warm Bloodbags Are Everywhere: Alex, starving, starts seeing his friends as walking steak.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Alex gets really mad at Marty for causing them to get caught by the authorities and get shipped. On the island, he still doesn't let it go until he loosens up.
- Marty gives Alex one after the latter bit him on the butt.
Escape 2 Africa
- Adult Fear: The opening. All of it. While his father Zuba is distracted for a minute, cub!Alex wanders off and is kidnapped by poachers. When Zuba realizes what's happened, he chases after the poachers' truck, desperately trying to save his son. Alex's crate is knocked off the truck and into the river, where it ends up floating to New York. Zuba, however, doesn't notice, and continues to chase the truck. Until a grown Alex winds up back in Africa and reunited with them, Zuba and his wife believed their son was dead. Imagine how guilty Zuba must have felt for all those years, thinking that it was his fault his child was dead because he failed to protect him.
- The Alleged Plane: So much so, that one of the visual signs of its malfunctioning is that one of the engines isn't on fire. In Madagascar 2, the plane also has at least three skeletons still on board from its last flight - one in second class, one in first class, and one in the cockpit. A fourth skeleton was left behind in Madagascar hanging from a parachute trapped in a tree.
- American Accents: The tourists in Escape 2 Africa all have New York accents.
- Annoying Laugh: Melman finds Gloria's laugh "amazing", but nobody else does.
- Artistic License – Biology: When the little old lady and Alex fight, he's punched in the mouth and spits out a tooth. Said tooth looks exactly like a human molar, but lions' back teeth are shearing carnassials, not grinding molars.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Marty's dream of being with thousands of his own kind goes from being cool to depressing for him.
- Big Beautiful Man: Moto Moto.
- Brick Joke: The shark that chases Mort.
- Chubby Chaser: Moto Moto. He likes 'em big, he likes 'em chunky. Justified, as he's a hippopotamus.
- Compressed Vice: Melman's crush on Gloria flat out didn't exist in the first movie. It was, however, shown in a flashback in the second movie as having existed for years.
- Gossip Evolution: The monkeys' relaying of Alex's message changed "Get out of here, as fast as we can" to "We must blow up the dam" and "There must be another way than killing me" to "Kill me. It's the only way." And "pass it on" was "basset hound".
- Gullible Lemmings: Melman. In the second movie. Julien didn't help matters either.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: When Melman sees Gloria on her date with Moto Moto, he says something like, "You don't know how lucky you are. You've found the perfect woman, so you better treat her like a princess." Then he goes on to describe in depth what he would do if he were in Moto Moto's shoes.
- This becomes his reason for a planned Heroic Sacrifice when Melman offers himself up for Julien's crazy plan to sacrifice to the Rain Gods.
- There's also the fact that Melman thinks he's dying.
- A Minor Kidroduction: As a tribute, "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" starts off with Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman as kids.
- Pec Flex: Moto Moto does this a few times in Escape 2 Africa.
- Planet of Copyhats: Apparently, all hippos are sassy like Gloria, all giraffes are neurotic and hypochondria-prone like Melman, and all zebras are laid-back and wise-cracking like Marty (as well as look and sound exactly like him). Averted with Alex, who's an odd one out of his species with his flamboyant mannerisms and love of dancing.
- Planet of Steves: Every zebra in the sequel acts and nearly looks the same as Marty. Alex is only able to tell Marty apart from the others because of the teeth marks on his butt from the previous film.
- Pop-Star Composer: will.i.am co-wrote and performed the songs and music of Escape 2 Africa.
- Savage Piercings: Spoofed in the second film. When the other giraffes make Melman their Witch Doctor, they present him with the requisite nose bone. "Don't worry, it's a clip-on."
- Smug Snake: Makunga.
- Soul Brotha: Moto Moto.
- Stupid Question Bait: Subverted when Skipper is organizing the newly recruited (by Phil & Mason) monkeys to repair their plane.
Skipper: (addressing the Monkeys) Stop Lollygagging, and let's get to work. We'll divide into three groups. Group Alpha, you're in charge of sheet metal fabrication. Group Bronson, you'll handle assembly. Group George Peppard, you'll handle craft services. Any questions?''
Mason: (about to say something) Skipper: (interrupts him)
Good! Now let's get to work!
- Summon Bigger Fish: How Alex and Zuba ultimately dispose of Makunga. Specifically, they sic 'Bluehair' on him.
- Super Not-Drowning Skills: the fish in the dried up water hole in Madagascar II.
- This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Alex, on his quest to save the watering hole in the second movie. Marty disagrees.
- Trailers Always Spoil: In the teaser to Escape 2 Africa, Melman admits that he loves Gloria. At first, this seems to be a gag based on the fact that their plane is falling out of the sky, but it turns out that it's the driving point of Melman's plotline in the movie.
- Wedding Day: About at the end of the sequel, we're lead to believe that Melman and Gloria are getting hitched. Then it pans down to reveal that its really Skipper marrying Lola, a bobble-head doll, which was an even weirder coupling.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Julien in the second movie. "Which of you is attracted to me?"
- Wiper Start: The penguins' first attempt at Rico hotwiring the safari jeep results in this.
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: The gold and diamonds the animals dig up at the watering hole in Escape 2 Africa while desperately looking for water. The penguins, who are from New York and are well aware what gold is worth to humans, take it all for themselves (the loot comes back in the third film, although the trope is no longer in play).
- You No Take Candle: Alex, while trying to explain his plane crash to the animals in Africa.
Europe's Most Wanted
- Artistic License – Geography: Monaco is not part of France, so DuBois shouldn't have any jurisdiction there as a French Gendarme.
- Ass Shove: One of the kids in the audience starts pelting an elephant with spitballs. He loses his balance. No prize for guessing where the kid ends up.
- Badass Boast:
Vitaly: I once was a brave tiger... and if I go down in flames, (laughing) so be it!
- Book End: Following in line with Shrek Forever After, the third movie ends with Chantel Du Bois and her lackeys getting shipped in a crate to Madagascar much like the gang in the first movie.
- Captain Obvious: There's an Italian one in charge of incarcerating DuBois (not for long though) in Europe's Most Wanted.
- Chase Scene: With the Zoosters (and Julien, Maurice, and Mort) fleeing from Capitaine DuBois in Monte Carlo (and eventually joined by the penguins and monkeys). And it is absolutely madcap and insane.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Totally averted with regards to Captain DuBois and her equally determined and indestructible sidekicks. However, they do get a jab in at the French labour laws only requiring employees to work "two weeks a year".
- Chekhov's Skill: Alex's ability to cut things with his claw (like the glass, or DuBois's harness loop) comes in handy later when he needs to teach Vitaly how to safely resume his act.
- Everything the characters come up with for their circus act in the third film.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Alex's parents do not appear and are not even mentioned in the third film. In Zuba's case this may be due to Actor Existence Failure on the part of Bernie Mac and not wishing to recast out of respect, but it's odd they aren't even mentioned in dialogue.
- Clown Car: As the monkeys make a deal with the ringmaster to buy the circus, you can see a large number of clowns piling into a Clown Car, with the Ringmaster getting in as well.
- Comically Missing the Point: The penguins, thinking someone should tear down the Coliseum to build a bigger and better arena.
- Cool Airship: The 'Afro Circus' used in the finale.
- Cool Train: The circus train◊, a colorful Art Deco steam engine.
- Creepy Children Singing: Parodied in the third film. The lemurs discover Sonya the bear's trailer, and when it shows the sharp weapons, you hear what appears to be this trope. But then it turns out it was just Mort singing.
- Dark Reprise: "Alex, the lion!" of the first film in Europe's Most Wanted, complete with subdued colors, night sky, and the characters being less lively. Also noticeable in comparison to Alex's memory of it at the start of the movie, when viewing the mud model of New York.
- Defictionalization: In-universe, Trapeze Americano. Something completely made up out of wholecloth, with each of the Zoosters trying to outdo the others to impress the circus animals, ends up coming completely true in a Grand Finale ending for Alex to take out the Big Bad. And it is awesome.
- The Determinator: Capitaine DuBois. Between chasing animals miles out of her jurisdiction and nation and ramming through office walls and windows like they are paper while chasing the gang, you'll understand what one critic meant saying "she makes Cruella De Vil look like a quitter."
- The determination is so strong, she can instantly heal her partners through the sheer inspirational force of her singing.
- Eagleland: The American promoter.
- Epic Fail: Circus Zaragoza's performance in Rome; made even worse for our heroes considering that the penguins had just blown most of their money purchasing that circus.
- Everything's Better with Rainbows: The rainbow Marty flies through after being shot from the cannon. May also have served as an inspiration for the neon circus act in London.
- Face-Heel Turn: Played for Laughs. When it's revealed that the Zoosters lied about being circus animals, the Penguins act like they were lying to them too.
- False Teeth Tomfoolery: With the last of the money from buying the circus, Skipper buys himself false teeth. Then he has them capped in gold. Now he can eat apples!
Skipper: (mouth full of teeth) Then I discovered I don't really like apples...
- Funny Afro: Need we bring up "Afro Circus"?
- Funny Background Event: You can see Bluehair's poodle and the duckling that got gobbled by the crocodile on Dubois' trophy wall in Europe's Most Wanted.
- There's a bunch of them, actually. There's King Julien's gecko, Steve and a few other Dreamworks/Madagascar critters.
- During the scene when Alex is giving his Rousing Speech to Vitaly, a Chalk Outline of the lion can be seen on the wall, with knives sticking out of it from target practice.
- Fun with Foreign Languages: Played with in Vitaly's case. At first it seems he is falling prone to the Malaproper aspect of the Funny Foreigner, since he makes the inadvertent puns "Wipe that Smirnoff your face and Popov!" with an absolutely straight face and no indication he knows he got the words wrong. This is subverted later though with his Getting Crap Past the Radar (literally!)/Unusual Euphemism moment, since he most certainly knew what word he should have said instead of "bolshevik"...
- Furry Reminder: In the scene where Vitaly the tiger and Alex the lion are arguing about the former's leaving, Alex tries to tear out some of Vitaly's things, he droppes ball of yarn and they both spontaneously start to throw it up like regular cats.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: Aside from the one in charge being Captain Obvious, the cop who holds DuBois in prison thinks he is Genre Savvy by checking on the Concealing Poster and looking for a Ceiling Cling, but in the end he falls prey to Fakeout Escape and Decoy Hiding Place.
- He's Back: Vitaly lost his passion after being burned in his ring-jumping act. With help from Alex, he regains his confidence and becomes a star again.
- Historical In-Joke:
Alex, in the Coliseum: You know, my ancestors used to perform here.
Marty: You don't say?
Alex: Yup, they had a captive audience for every show.
Alex: They say they really killed.
- I Choose to Stay/You Can't Go Home Again: Alex and the gang finally make it back to Central Park Zoo in New York City, but realize that they have grown to prefer being free after all, and so decide to become a part of the circus permanently.
- Impact Silhouette: Gloria leaves one in the casino's steel lockdown door after her Negated Moment of Awesome.
- Irony: The very thing Vitaly made fun of, Alex's glossy fur and mane, ends up being what helps him survive the fiery hoop unscathed, via the non-flammable hair conditioner. And then gives him back the glossy fur he used to have.
- It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: Inverted with Kowalski's special invention for the getaway car... Gloria certainly knows how to pronounce the word, but Skipper knows what it really is...
Skipper: We need more power! Time to fire up Kowalski's nucular reactor.
Gloria: That's a nuclear reactor?!
Skipper: (correcting her) Nuke-ular.
- As if that makes it any better...
- Jumping Out of a Cake: Though the animals that do so are small enough that an actual cake is used, and Mort ate a fair portion of it from the inside.
- Killer Rabbit: The toy dogs in Europe's Most Wanted. One of them is voiced by Vinnie Jones!
- Laser-Guided Karma/Humiliation Conga: Done to DuBois: shot with her own tranq dart, made to pose on Alex's rock just the way he used to do, made to lie down and roll over, and eventually shipped off to Madagascar.
- Leitmotif: DuBois has one whenever she makes an appearance.
- Love Theme: "Love Always Comes As A Surprise" for the relationship between Alex and Gia.
- Meaningful Echo: Complete with accent.
Alex: And if we go down in flames? So be it!
- Misfit Mobilization Moment: When the circus resolves to save their zoo animal friends.
- Monumental Damage: Happens to some of the ruins in Rome during Sonya and Julien's Falling in Love Montage.
- Mood Whiplash: Amidst all the colorful wackiness of the third movie there's a quiet drama scene with Alex the lion and Vitaly the tiger. In the middle of it, for no apparent reason, the two cats have a brief slap fight over a ball of yarn.
- Mother Russia Makes You Strong: Vitaly.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: If the series continues beyond the third film, it will have to take on a different focus since Alex and the gang finally make it back to Central Park Zoo in New York City and realize that they prefer being free after all.
- Not What It Looks Like: When Alex leans on the pulley, ends up dragged up by the rope, and dropped into Gia's arms...just in time for the tarp to drop and reveal them to everyone else, complete with a Dramatic Drop by one of the elephants.
- Ominous Russian Chanting: Accompanies Vitaly's more threatening moments.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Martin Short's Italian accent as Stefano drops when he strains his voice, like when crying for help.
- Out of the Inferno: DuBois's appearance at the casino is this, thanks to a car the penguins' SUV ran over.
- Parasol Parachute: DuBois does this during the finale.
- Plot Tailored to the Party: The completely awesome rescue of the Zoosters by the circus animals during the finale of Madagascar 3 makes use of everyone's abilities and acts—from Stefano's cannon act shooting the line across the park, to Gloria and Melman's dancing, to Gia's trapeze act pulling Alex out of the line of fire, to Vitaly's hoop jump getting Marty out of his cage through the keyhole, to Julien and Sonya's bike act, all of it made possible by the penguins and the monkeys rebuilding a flying machine to carry the circus into battle. Even Mort gets to tranq DuBois. Alex's Defictionalization of Trapeze Americano also makes use of multiple characters: Marty, Gia, the dogs' rocket boots, even Dubois as she accidentally frees the 'aquatic' cobras!
- As a Visual Gag this also occurs in a lesser form during the infiltration of the casino, where the four vents on the roof are each shaped like one of the Zoosters.
- Product Placement: All over the place, but the third movie in particular has this gem:
Italian prison guard
: (stuck in his own cell as DuBois uses his PC) "Is that the sound of my HP printer printing?"
- Reveal Shot/Right Behind Me: Melman, wondering how he and the others are going to escape from the cops when the circus boxcar is right behind him.
- Rousing Speech: To rally the circus animals, courtesy of Alex.
- Rule of Cool: Vitaly's ring jumping act. It is explicitly noted to be in total defiance of the laws of physics, but not only is he capable of slipping through impossibly small holes, he can carry Marty with him. Through a keyhole.
- Saving the Circus/Hey Lets Put On A Show: A major part of the plot of the third movie, with both the future of the circus animals and the Zoosters getting back to New York depending on turning Circus Zaragoza into a success so they can win the contract from the American buyer. And despite the cliche, it's carried off beautifully.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Skipper mentions he wants to invoke this in regards to the laws of PHYSICS, specifically he wants to be so rich he can fly a solid gold airplane. Fortunately this never actually happens.
- Self-Deprecation: In the second advert for the third film against the mash-up between I Like To Move It and Afro Circus.
"Some good news: this song is almost over."
"Well That's music to my ears."
- Shout-Out: More of an extended and deliberate love-letter to "those French-Canadian guys" who made circuses awesome again by breaking with tradition, getting rid of the animals, and deciding that the laws of physics don't apply to them.
- A Simple Plan: The four Zoosters will slip into the casino through the air ducts; Julien, Maurice, and Mort will shut off the power; and then Alex will be lowered down through the skylight he and Marty got open so he can snatch the King of Versailles and they can make their escape. Naturally it all goes wrong: Alex and Marty get into an argument over who should lead and why which ends with Gloria accidentally smashing through the skylight so they all drop in full view of the people, and Julien, who had been constantly demanding to know if it was time to shut off the power is suddenly too "busy" stuffing pencils in his mouth, nose, and ears to bother with it until it's almost too late. The whole thing ends with the penguins bringing in their SUV, the casino being wrecked, and DuBois being called in to capture them.
- Spent Shells Shower: Parodied with the banana machine guns, which shoots the banana and ejects the peel.
- Stepping Stone Knives: Vitaly throws his knives to be this for Stefano when he's trying to escape DuBois.
- Theme Music Power-Up: The French animal control people recover from their hospitalization miraculously once Chantel starts singing.
- That Tiger is Dead: Despite his overall aggressiveness, Vitaly gives the second kind of response (regretful) to Alex when the lion asks where "the other Vitaly" went, which is what lets him end up proving he isn't gone after all.
- Third-Act Misunderstanding: It's only after their successful London show that the truth of the Zoosters not being circus animals is revealed (courtesy of a flyer DuBois brings with her)...by which point, of course, the Zoosters had not only established close bonds with the circus animals and vice versa for two of them, but had realized they enjoyed being in the circus and didn't really belong in the zoo any more or want to go back to it. It's actually rather heartbreaking.
- Took a Level in Badass: Alex, when facing off with DuBois.
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: When the circus arrives in New York City, the completed One World Trade Center (a.k.a. "Freedom Tower") can be seen in the background, indicating that the events of the film take place at least a year after its film's release in 2012, when the tower was still under construction.
- Up, Up and Away!: Vitaly assumes this position when leaping through the ring.
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The Foosa from the first film are just trying to survive and Mukunga from the second film is more of a Jerkass than a villain. Captain DuBois on the other hand, is out to murder Alex. As in literal, first-degree, premeditated murder. Even after Alex is re-contained in the zoo (at which point her warrant expires, and Alex becomes zoo property), she makes it very clear that she won't be satisfied while Alex still draws breath.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: When Julien & Mort burst from the cake early in the film, Mort says "My tummy is speaking to me". Cue a river of pink oozing from the tiny deranged critter's mouth.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Lola, the abovementioned bobble-head doll, is neither seen nor referred to in the third film. This strikes one as a little odd, considering the trip to Monte Carlo was supposed to be her's and Skipper's honeymoon. Melman did note he didn't expect it to last, however...
- Where It All Began: The climax takes place in the Central Park Zoo. Though this time, all of the heroes are trying to escape it, having decided to remain free.
- Younger Than They Look / Furry Reminder:
Gia: Show me!
Alex: Pfft, 'show me'. What are we, five?
Gia: I am five!
- Your Makeup Is Running: Captain DuBois at the end of her rendition of "Non, Je ne Regrette Rien", as well as her male subordinates.