Western Animation: Madeline

"If you believe you must be big in order to be tough
then you should get to know me. I'll teach you other stuff!"
"I'm Madeline", the theme song of the TV specials and first series

Although critically acclaimed animated versions of the Madeline books were produced throughout The Fifties (the first was even nominated for an Academy Award), it wasn't until 1988 that CINAR and DiC created the widely remembered TV special based on the first book for HBO. It gave names to three of Madeline's friends (Nicole, Danielle, and Chloe) who would be present in later TV showings. The special was a success, so CINAR and DiC created more specials based on the rest of the books. The project also saw a soundtrack CD, "Madeline's Favorite Songs", with music from the specials released.

In 1993, after their partnership with CINAR had ended, DiC decided to make a Madeline TV series. Reusing the character designs, some of the talents (Christopher Plummer was held back by DiC as the narrator), and the Title Theme Tune from the old specials, Madeline's other friends were given names, and had various adventures that were not present in the books. Similar to the specials, the show was filled with Ear Worm music. It premiered on The Family Channel. Some notable differences between the CINAR-DiC Partnership version and this version were new voice actors, some girls hair colors were changed, the animation was much better, and various supporting book characters made more appearances as well. In 1995, more episodes premiered on ABC Saturday mornings, under the title The New Adventures of Madeline. Following a second Soundtrack CD release ("Hats Off To Madeline"), the franchise went into a 4-year hiatus.

The silence ended when DiC made a direct-to-video movie, known as Madeline: Lost in Paris. The plot was a man posing as Madeline's uncle came to take her to a finishing school in Vienna, but it was actually a lace factory that put orphan girls to labor. This movie had a slightly different color palette than the 1993 version, and different voice actors. Released by Disney in 1999, the movie was later re-released by Shout! Factory on DVD, but removing all Disney idents.

This was immediately followed by the 3rd series, in 2000, when DiC made more episodes, also under the title The New Adventures of Madeline, with improved animation (to follow up with the direct-to-video movie). Also, the color palette changed again for a few of the girls. Many of the voice talents also changed in this version. This version of the cartoon premiered on the Playhouse Disney block of Disney Channel. A third soundtrack CD was released shortly after, "Sing-A-Long with Madeline", after which the franchise once again fell silent.

The latest and possibly final project involving everyone's favorite redhead is the direct-to-video movie My Fair Madeline (although it did air on Nickelodeon once), which was released silently in 2002, one year after the regular cartoon ended. The plot was Madeline and her friends going to stop a gang of thieves. There have been no new episodes of the show produced since.

The show focuses on a group of twelve girls who live at a boarding school with a nun named Miss Clavel in Paris, France. They live next door to the Spanish ambassador, who also has a young son named Pepito who is about the same age as the girls. Together, they all often end up on adventures, led by the bubbly red-haired Madeline. Though small, she never lets it get her down and is filled with courage, telling tigers "poo-poo" and finding courage no matter how tough things might seem. Whether it's becoming a famous artist, traveling with gypsies, or solving adventures, Madeline's adventures are rarely ordinary, and sure to be a lot of fun. The English language version of the cartoon is often peppered with French words and phrases, such as mes enfants and oui oui.


In addition to the tropes carried over from the books, the Madeline cartoons provide examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: The DiC series changed up a few of the girls' hair colors between seasons:
    • Janine was a blonde, up until season 3 where her hair suddenly became dark brown.
    • Sylvie (or Simone) had greenish-colored hair while Monique's appeared to be a pink color. Both of them received brown hair in season 3.
    • Ellie also had greenish hair early on, but it was darkened to black by season 2.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Many of the cartoon stories, particularly the earlier ones, are highly extended versions of Madeline books. However, given that the cartoon series ended up running four seasons, with a total of 65 episodes, including the original specials, it was inevitable that most of the material would end up being new.
  • Adaptational Heroism: The gypsies from Madeline and the Gypsies seem like kidnappers who take Madeline and Pepito into their circus, and eventually hide them in a lion's suit so that Miss Clavel can't find them. The TV special instead had the gypsies tell Madeline and Pepito to go home after they come down from being stuck on the Ferris Wheel, only for the two of them to express a desire to join their circus. They also don't make Madeline and Pepito wear the lion's suit until after their own lion becomes too sick to perform.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Miss Clavel noticing Madeline's empty bed in Madeline and the Gypsies, then quickly realizing that Madeline got left behind at the circus. The cartoon also shows Pepito's parents (who were apparently off on a business trip in the book) worrying about him also getting left behind.
    • Why, hello there, Lost In Paris.
    • The original "Something is Not Right" sequence. Especially the ending.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Pepito's cousins return in "Madeline and the Mummy" and seem to have completely forgotten why they stopped being brats in the last episode.
  • Animated Adaptation: The specials are adaptations of the books.
  • Animation Bump: Madeline: Lost in Paris has better animation from the specials and TV series.
  • Anywhere but Their Lips: Pepito gets a kiss on the cheek from Madeline after he gives her a new parasol in "Madeline's Birthday at the Zoo."
  • Art Evolution: Went a long way from the original books to the last special, My Fair Madeline. And it's still evolving, but thankfully now at a slower pace.
  • Author Avatar: Sort of. There's an artist named Ludwig in the TV series who is friends with the girls and is even seen working on the original picture book in one episode.
  • Award Bait Song: The song "Wishes" from the Madeline's Christmas special stands out as this because of its pop-like quality and sound despite not being sung by someone famous. Nonetheless, this doesn't lose the syrupy nature of most Madeline songs, and it fits.
  • Banister Slide: This is a fairly frequent occurrence on the series. Madeline is usually the culprit.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Generous doses of it, considering that the girls are speaking untranslated French through half of everything. Lost in Paris springs to mind.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Seen on all of the characters.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: "I'm Madeline". Also counts as an "I Am" Song.
  • Chekhov's Army: At the start of Madeline and the Forty Thieves, we see a pair of magpies fly briefly across the screen. It turns out that they are the 40 thieves.
  • Christmas Episode: The Madeline's Christmas special.
  • Cinderella Circumstances: The lace shop girls in Madeline: Lost in Paris.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Nicole in the cartoon, and Cloe in the first special.
  • Cool Big Sis: Tatiana the prima ballerina from Madeline at the Ballet. She might have the most important role, but she makes sure all of her co-stars are treated fairly, including Madeline, who was initially left out of the production because the dance teacher thought she was too short. Even after Madeline botches the first rehearsal, Tatiana finds her backstage, comforts her and still allows her to dance in the production, and they pull it off flawlessly.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compare Lost in Paris and My Fair Madeline to the rest of the franchise.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Chloe gets one in "Madeline and the Old Violin." It turns out that she has talent when it comes to the violin.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Used in every song, but much, much more in the DiC version (ironic since they used to be with Disney). Unsurprisingly, this show airs on the Disney channel in regions outside the US.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Pepito's cousins, by their own admittance, are even worse brats than him, but they still get chased and nearly gored by an angry full-grown bull.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Fifi in Lost in Paris, due to her lack of sunlight.
  • Even the Dog Is Ashamed: In the opening of "Madeline and the Treasure Hunt," Genevieve whimpers and whines each time the girls give obviously wrong answer to questions being asked of them regarding geography.
  • Every Episode Ending: Each episode of the cartoon ends with the narrator saying, "And that's all there is. There isn't any more." Those lines originally appeared at the end of the first Madeline book.
  • For Science!: In "Madeline and the Dinosaur Bone," this is the stated reason why a group of paleontologists is allowed to wreck the garden of the old house, digging a giant mess, and then taking away the dinosaur bone that Genevieve dug up to a museum.
  • Freudian Excuse: LaCroque of Lost in Paris has one. Downplayed in that it's she lost her entire cabaret career after tripping, falling offstage, and exposing her underwear. She was forced to sell her hair to make lace, and perhaps out of revenge, began a lace-making sweatshop that imprisoned little girls.
  • Heartwarming Orphan:
    • Madeline in the second DiC series. All other adaptions have her parents alive and well (the old house is a Catholic boarding school, not an orphanage).
    • And the orphans in Lost in Paris.
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door: Pepito is a mild version. When the writers need someone to taunt and tease the girls, he's usually the one they pass the Villain Ball to.
  • Heel-Face Turn:
    • Mr. Grump in "Madeline's Holiday With Mr. Grump"
    • Sugar Dimples in "Madeline in Hollywood."
  • Ill Girl: Fifi in Lost in Paris.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Again, Fifi. Of course, by the end, it goes away.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Of course, Madeline speaks English with a French accent. The others characters also speak English with a French accent, except for the ones with voice actors who are Not Even Bothering with the Accent. In the movie, everyone has British accents. The characters, however, particularly Miss Clavel, do occasionally speak a bit of French here and there, in fact, enough that if you watch through the entire series you can probably pick a fair few French phrases.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Zigzagged. In "Madeline and the Costume Party," the girls contract chicken pox and Pepito laughs every time he sees them. Of course, on the eve of the party, Pepito has caught the illness from the girls and fully expects them to laugh at him too. They spend the evening with him to watch the fireworks instead.
  • Lampshade Wearing: In Madeline and the Big Cheese. See CMOF page for details.
  • Licensed Games / Edutainment Games: Tons of edutainment titles came out for PC/Macs between the 90s and the turn of the century. Chances are if you studied grade school in the US during the 90s, you would've played one of the titles in the classroom.
  • Limited Animation: It was produced by DiC in the late '80s to the beginning of the 2000s, after all. Though it's extremely evident in the original specials.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Chloe, Nicole, Danielle, Yvette, Nona, Lulu, Anne, Ellie, Monique, Janine, and Sylvie/Simone
  • No Antagonist: Played straight most of the time. The only places where antagonists show up are in the two direct-to-DVD movies and in Madeline and the Singing Dog.
    • Zig-zagged through all the adaptations themselves. Pepito starts out as an antagonist, but is then redeemed a little later on.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Genevieve, the dog.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: This is the ending of "Madeline in the Magic Carpet," in which Madeline is told that the adventure she had of riding on a magic carpet and rescuing a genie with Pepito and Pancho was just a dream. That evening, she finds under her bed the magic lamp that had been thrown in Pepito's garbage.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: When Madeline sings Without You in Madeline And The Science Project. If you're able to refrain yourself from crying, you'll notice that Madeline has suddenly lost her French accent.
  • Race Lift: Nona originally had light skin, but it was changed to be dark brown in season 2 of the DiC series. Anne and Janine also had their skintones darkened. This may have been done to add more diversity to the show.
  • Running Gag: When Pepito accompanies the girls on a trip, the taxi always leaves him behind at first.
  • Sick Episode: Madeline and the Costume Party has Madeline and all her friends catch the chicken pox.
    • Also Madeline's Christmas (The book and TV special).
  • Slasher Smile: Pepito gets a few in the "Bad Bat Hat" song.
  • Title Sequence Replacement:
    • Disney Channel tacked the theme song of The New Adventures of Madeline onto the original specials and Family Channel-era episodes.
    • The post-Lost-in-Paris episodes of the show broadcast Asia had the theme song of Hats off to Madeline, the second series theme song, replacing Oh Madeline, the third series theme song.
  • Trail Of Breadcrumbs: In "Lost in Paris", Madeline drops beads so that her friends can follow her to wherever her "uncle" is taking her.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Downplayed. LaCroque threatens the lace shop girls with this all the time because lace is supposedly made from human hair. But when she finally cuts Madeline's hair, it's a few strands on one side; this is treated as if the poor girl has been shorn. Her 11 schoolmates later copy the cut in solidarity. However, Fifi's haircut is much more ragged and unattractive, thus playing the trope a little straighter.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Mr. Grump in "Madeline's Holiday With Mr. Grump."
  • The Villain Sucks Song: "A Bad Bad Hat," describing Pepito's mischievous period.

It's time to go, au revoir,
Though you may shout, "Encore!"
That's all there is,
There isn't any more!