Western Animation / 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 barebones 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. In several market, the shortness of episode is normally compensated by airing three to four different episodes back-to-back (along with a heaping dose of commercials in between).

Characters aside from Pingu in the series included his aforementioned friends, Pingg and Pingo; 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. However, a English-speaking narrator was slapped onto the show when it was exported to Canada, and subsequently the British imported the Canadian episodes and bowdlerized it even further.

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.

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.
    • In another, she spanks him for causing trouble at the dinner table.
  • Adult Fear: "Pingu Runs Away."
  • 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.
  • Berserk Button: Do. Not. Ignore. Pingu's. Dad. It. Won't. Be. Pretty.
  • Be the Ball: Pingu and Pinga can roll into balls for many purposes, for instance; cheating on a bowling game.
  • 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.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Pingu, obviously, and to a lesser degree all of the children characters in the show.
  • Break the Cutie: Pinga in "Pingu Gets a Bicycle".
  • 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!"
  • Ding-Dong-Ditch Distraction: Pingu rings the doorbell, waits for his father to come outside, and then sneaks right into his house so that he can use the bathroom in "Pingu's Lavatory Story"
  • Extreme Omnivore: The leopard seal eats a mattress. He seems to like it.
  • Evil Laugh: The Walrus/Leopard Seal.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The original 1980 prototype short featured a polar bear, of which its species is never seen in the real show. (And Pingu was called "Hugo")
  • Everything's Better with Penguins
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: In the infamous "Pingu's Lavatory Story", Pingu loses control of his bladder after drinking several glasses of coloured lemonade at a bar. Riiiight.
  • 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.
  • 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. [1]
  • 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 compilation 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.
  • Meaningful Name: Robby's name is derived from Robbe, the German word for Seal.
  • 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.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Pingu's mother shows this through expression after slapping Pingu across the face in Pingu Quarrels With His Mother.
    • Pingu's father has this in "Pingu Gets a Bicycle" when he accidentally drives over Pinga's toys and destroys them, leaving her in tears.
  • 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... Laser-Guided Karma usually causes this, such as when a penguin refusing to help an old cobbler falls into water from looking up at the sky.note 
  • 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, albeit with Pinga being able to turn into a ball) 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[2].
  • 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.
  • Sweet Seal: Robby The Seal, who is Pingu's best friend. Robby first meets Pingu when he decides to go ice fishing and Robby decides to play tricks on him and steal some of his fish. After Pingu gets annoyed with Robby's tricks he decides to chase him back onto thin ice. Robby attempts to escape by trying to slip through the crack. When Pingu yells at him it causes him to lose his grip and sprain his flipper, causing him to cry after he injures his hand. Pingu comforts him and gives him some food before returning home.
  • 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.
    • Farting was featured in two revived series episodes "Stinky Pingu" (where Pinga farts in the bath) and "Pingu's Bedtime Shadows" where Pingu farts on the toilet.
  • 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.
  • Toothy Bird: The penguins are sometimes shown with teeth.
  • 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.
    • However, it appears that Pinga has always been a Spanish slang word for dick...
  • 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.
  • What an Idiot: In Pingu Quarrels With His Mother, Pingu gets a splinter in his foot (or stubs his toe? flipper?) after continually angering his mother with his repeated pratfalls and misbehaviour. What does Pingu do to try and solve the situation? Kick the table as hard as he can with the affected foot, breaking the crockery neatly arranged on top, then continue to run around the room hollering like a loon. Pingu only breaks out of the stupidity (and straight into tears) when his mother slaps him hard across his face.
  • Widget Series: It's a weird Swiss thing.
  • Wily Walrus: A Nightmare Sequence has Pingu being hunted by a giant walrus/leopard seal hybrid. Aside from his creepy appearance, said character first traps Pingu inside an igloo, and then it squashes and stratches the poor penguin like a doll. Finally, it takes the matress of Pingu's animated bed and eats it as if it were a chocolate bar. This scene was considered so scary that the entire episode got banned from US television since its first airing.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • Pingu's mom is okay with slapping or spanking Pingu if he's acting up.
    • The leopard seal from "Pingu's Dream" almost eats Pingu.
  • 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 Pingu's sister's name being "Pinga."