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Western Animation: Pingu

"Pingu!"
—Pingu

Pingu was a Swiss stop-motion Claymation children's television series created by Otmar Gutmann, produced by The Pygos Group, and distributed by Hit Entertainment and Hot Animation. The series depicted the adventures of the titular Pingu, a Bratty Half-Pint little boy penguin somewhat echoing Dennis The Menace (US) living at the south pole.

Episodes of the series lasted for five minutes and consequently were fairly bare-bones in terms of plot; the general trend in them was of Pingu encountering a problem or getting into trouble in some way and then the issue being resolved. A typical plot of an episode would be Pingu having his ball stolen by one of his friends, getting upset about it, and then the friend feeling sorry for him, making up with him, and them then sharing the ball.

Characters aside from Pingu in the series included his aforementioned friends, Pingg and Pingos; a seal named Robby, whom was his best friend; Pingi, his girlfriend; Pingu's mother and father; and his little sister Pinga.

By far the most notable aspect of the show was its lack of coherent speech; rather than German, English or some other real European language, characters spoke a nonsensical babble that was a composite of bits and pieces of many different languages that on the DVD and video cases is sometimes dubbed "Penguinese". However, owing to the simple plots and some thoroughly entertaining tongue-in-cheek body language, one hardly needed dialogue in order to discern what was happening.

Another notable aspect of the show was many episodes of it being decided as containing objectionable subject matter (predominantly in the form of Nightmare Fuel) and consequently being banned in some countries. See below for more details...

The series lasted for six seasons constituting 156 episodes between 1986 and 2005. The original series lasted from 1986 to 1998, was then on hiatus for six years, and then had a reboot in 2004 lasting til 2005. Said short later run was due to the even more bare-bones plots than the old seasons and an unfortunate extraction of all witty cleverness that had permeated said old ones. Cute and entertaining as it was, it looks like the last nail in the coffin has been hammered for this show...

Pretty much the entire show is on YouTube, if you haven't seen this and wanna check it out. Due to the dialogue consisting of babble, there are many videos of it with Gag Subs.


This show provides examples of:

  • Absentee Actor: Some or all of Pingu's family doesn't appear in many episodes. In addition, one of Pingu's friends, Pingg (the penguin with the long, pointed beak), is missing in Pingu's Birthday, Pingu's Dad is missing in Grandpa is Ill, and Pinga is missing in Runs Away.
  • Abusive Parents: In one episode, Pingu's mother slaps Pingu in the face for insubordination.
  • Ageless Birthday Episode: Pingu's Birthday in 1992.
  • An Aesop: Most episodes have one.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Pinga, in some episodes. In other episodes, however, they appear to be best of friends.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version has "Pingu Rap" for the opening theme and "Seeds of Happiness" as the ending theme.
  • Banned In Most Of The World: See Nightmare Fuel and Toilet Humour, below. While the show itself is not banned proper, several episodes are withheld from broadcast in many countries.
  • Berserk Button: Do. Not. Ignore. Pingu's. Dad. It. Won't. Be. Pretty.
  • Bigger on the Inside The igloos in the series are much bigger inside than out.
  • Bilingual Bonus: in Episode 28, "Pingu's Admirer", Pingu and his new girlfriend say goodbye at a signpost with one sign saying "PERESTROYKA" and the other "GLASNOST" — in Cyrillic, which looks a little but not quite like the random Pingu script used throughout the series.
  • Blooper: The first UK VHS releases state that Pingu was first broadcast in 1991, but it was really first broadcast in 1985.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Pingu, obviously, and to a lesser degree all of the children characters in the show.
  • Brown Note: In Has Music Lessons from his Grandfather, the protagnist, plays his dad's accordion very noisily and untelligibly outside while a group of penguins are talking to each other. Hilarity Ensues!
  • Catch Phrase: Pingu!
    • "Noot noot!"
  • Extreme Omnivore: The leopard seal eats a mattress. He seems to like it.
  • Evil Laugh: The Walrus/Leopard Seal.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins
  • Furry Reminder: The episode portraying Pinga's birth is chock-full of these, such as both parents sitting on the egg and a midwife arriving with a medical-grade spoon to gently crack the shell.
  • Gainax Ending: "Pingu Takes Revenge" and "Pingu the King"
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Enough to have its own page.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Pingu's Dad has an evil face in the 1999 videogame.
  • I Am Not Walrus: The evil walrus from Pingu's Dream is actually a leopard seal. He's probably mistaken as a walrus because of his mustache.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Half of the series has not been shown in America, though some advertisements on Cartoon Network feature footage from the episodes that were never broadcast in America.
    • Pingu's Dream and Mother Bird were not licensed to VHS. Dream was too scary to be put on home video. Mother Bird was probably a Black Sheep Hit that The BBC wanted to leave out.
  • The Kiddie Ride: A Pingu ride was made by British ride maker OMC Electronics in the early 90s. It was a strange looking ride in the shape of a half-barrel/sled-like thing with Pingu and Robby on it.
  • Licensed Game: With respect to the Gameboy game in 1994 and the PlayStation game in 1999, there were also 2 edutainment games released worldwide. The first is a Barrel of Fun in 1997, and the second is Pingu and Friends in 1999. Both games run on the Macromedia Director engine.
  • Limited Animation: The mutant walrus/leopard seal in Pingu's Dream. There are scenes where he slides in a very flat, two-dimensional manner.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Pingu appeared on 3 compliation tapes not made by The BBC. First Delivers the Mail in NSPCC Children's TV Favourites Volume 2 (complete with the wrong year) in 1993, Circus (some sort of Old Shame, since the characters don't talk in this episode) in My Best Friends, also in 1993, and Goes Cross Country in Calling all Toddlers in 1999.
  • Men Are Uncultured: In the episode Pingu and Pinga at Home, mum and dad go to the opera. Dad falls asleep.
  • Multi-Part Episode: Actually it wasn't advertised or aired as such. The episodes Pingu Helps With Incubating and Pinga is Born revolved around Pinga, in egg form, first wrecking havoc in the igloo, and in the latter episode finally hatching from the egg. Somehow the episodes had different subjects, despite the same story the episodes are telling.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: The Leopard Seal is much more realistic looking than the more simple characters in addition in having human like teeth.
  • Narrator: In the PC videogames, because the characters, as well as Pingu himself, can't speak English. In Canada, The Pingu Show also had one. Ditto for the version released in the UK and other British colonies. Understandably, the fans who've seen the original hated the narration.
  • Never Learned to Read: In the 1997 videogame, the narrator tells the player that Pingu loves drawing, but is not very good at spelling.
  • Oh Crap: Quite a few. One noted example is "Pingu Takes Revenge", when Pingu realizes that a fake bridge is made is about to fall just as he tries to stop his Grandfather from crossing it. By the time he realizes this, it's too late...
  • Parental Bonus: Lots of them in the first three seasons. To a lesser degree, this was the closest thing to The Mr. Men Show before the Mr. Men Show itself!
  • Rubber Man: Pingu (and oddly, seemingly no one else) seems to be able to bend and stretch and squash himself into any shape he desires.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Pingu is Jealous. Watch it above.
  • Somewhere, an Ornithologist Is Crying: The penguins in the show have teeth. In actual fact, this is a semi-aversion. Penguins do not have teeth, but they do have toothy plates under their beaks to help them swallow fish. At first glance, those do somewhat resemble teeth[1].
  • Speaking Simlish: Similar to Teletubbies, this trope concerned parents as it felt that the Penguinese language might be hurting the vocal development of their young-uns, though that can be blamed on us, since Carlo Bonomi speaks Italian.
  • Species Surname: Species first name, really. All the penguins are named variations of 'Pinguin', and 'Robbe' is German for 'seal'.
  • Stock Yuck: The very first episode, Hello Pingu, involves Pingu getting annoyed at having to eat his spinach. This would be lampshaded again in Grandfather Comes to Visit.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Female characters such as Pingi are identified by exaggerated eyelashes.
  • Toilet Humour/Potty Emergency: By far the most controversial and widely banned episode of the show is Pingu's Lavatory Story. The episode depicts Pingu drinking too much lemonade at the local pub and rushing home only to find the toilet occupied by his father. Pingu rings the doorbell so his father has to come out and answer it and he then rushes into the bathroom himself. Unfortunately, the toilet is too high, so he urinates on the floor...
    • Another episode (no controversy about this one though), Pingu and the Seagull, involves a seagull crapping on Pingu repeatedly.
  • Treasure Map: Pingu and the Message in a Bottle. Pingu is fishing; Pingo joins him and they fish out a bottle. Smashing it, they find a map. Following it, they find a cave, with a chest with a shell in it inside. Pingu takes the shell, and inside is found a pearl.
  • Unfortunate Names: Pinga. And to add salt to the wound, Pinga's a female. The character was created long before Pinga became a mainstream slang word, though, and long before Sonic the Hedgehog was released. (Pingu - 1985, Sonic - 1990) Also, see Youtube Poop.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The leopard seal of "Pingu's Dream." In a series where penguin predators are absent, its presence made the episode scary enough to lead to its censorship.
  • Widget Series: It's a weird Swiss thing.
  • The Wiki Rule: Here. It may not be well done, but still...
  • Youtube Poop: Actually a somewhat popular source, enough that HiT Entertainment took them off Youtube at one point. Plenty of jokes have been made about their names sounding like "Pingas."

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alternative title(s): Pingu
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