Western Animation: Shrek

Shrek is a Dreamworks Animation CGI film very loosely based on the 1990's book of the same name. The film features Shrek (Mike Myers), a grumpy ogre living happily alone in his swamp, where he regularly frightens off villagers and lives the lazily luxurious life of an ogre. However, his perfect world is rocked when his loving home is invaded by fairy tale creatures simply seeking refuge after being cast into exile by the cruel-hearted Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow). When Shrek confronts Farquaad, he agrees to let the ogre live in peace if he can rescue the Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) from a dragon guarded castle so that Farquaad can marry her and become a true king. With the aid of his new and obnoxious self-proclaimed best friend, a talking Donkey named Donkey (Eddie Murphy), Shrek sets off on his quest to restore balance to the delicate fairy tale world he's living in.

Notorious for its modern twist on the Fairy Tale genre, Shrek was a smashing success at the time of its release. The film became the first installment of the Shrek tetralogy, receiving three theatrical sequels. It ushered in a new era of computer animated films to Dreamworks Animation, and the titular Shrek became the company's unofficial mascot.

Shrek became the first recipient of an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

Shrek provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Academy Award: The film won the first ever Oscar for Best Animated Feature, and was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Lord Farquaad in bed ordering a disgusted magic mirror to show him the princess... again!
  • Affably Evil: Dragon when she meets Donkey.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Adapted from a children's book approximately 500 words long; almost nothing in the movie other than the characters of Shrek and Donkey — who appeared for only one page as a random encounter — actually came from the book.
    • As did Princess Fiona since at the end of the book Shrek meets a princess ogre (Fiona) who is even uglier than he is.
    • Also, the dragon made a brief appearance under different circumstances, and the role of the Knight from the book and Lord Farquaad from the film are suspiciously similar — both are Jerkass versions of characters who would usually be the good guy in fairy tales, who end up acting as the primary villain.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: Duloc.
  • Arc Words: Really really!
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Given the source, one of the lines from one of the Three Little Pigs.
    Pig: He Huffed, and he Puffed, and he...signed an eviction notice.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption
  • Award Bait Song: Played straight, though somewhat out of place in a movie that took the mickey out of tropes popularized by the Disney Animated Canon, with It Is You (I Have Loved) by Dana Glover, the only non-instrumental song on the soundtrack written specifically for the movie.
  • Beast and Beauty: Shrek and Fiona in the first movie, subverted.
  • Berserk Button: Shrek whistles for Dragon to give Lord Farquaad his Just Desserts just one second after Fiona got threatened.
  • Black Best Friend: Donkey, who plays this trope remarkably straight despite not actually being black. Being voiced by Eddie Murphy certainly helps, though.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The dragon. Checkhov's Gunwoman, in fact, making it two spoilers in one.
  • Compensating for Something: The first movie includes this as a Parental Bonus joke with Shrek saying this to Donkey.
    Shrek: (while looking at Lord Farquaad's huge castle) "Do you think he's maybe compensating for something?"
  • Comedic Sociopathy:
    • Shrek and Fiona making nearby animals into balloons for each other and then letting them float away, and allowing a tree Donkey is walking on to snap back and fling him away.
    • In addition to the balloon animals, Fiona also causes a bird to spontaneously combust when it tries to hold a note as long and loud as the one Fiona sings... then, she cooks the birds' eggs.
    • Notice at the end of the movie, only two of the three bears - Papa Bear, and Baby Bear, specifically - are freed with the other fairy tale creatures... because if you look closely, Farquaad made a rug out of Mama Bear. For some, this would also qualify as an instance of Fridge Horror.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Fiona is this trope for a lot of the first movie. Shrek didn't slay the dragon first. Shrek can't recite a poem. Shrek needs to save his ass. Shrek won't take off his helmet. And the worst part, to Fiona: Shrek was sent to rescue her for someone else.
  • Constellations: Shrek tells Donkey the names the ogres give to several constellations.
  • Cry Cute: Possibly the only instance of this trope being applied to a gigantic fire-breathing dragon. A few sobs in front of a lakeshore while pining for Donkey are pretty much all it takes to make the dragon a sympathetic character.
  • Curse Cut Short/Last-Second Word Swap: From the Robin Hood song:
    "I like an honest fight and a saucy little maid"
    What he's basically saying is that he likes to get—PAID!
    • The Disney-esque "Welcome to Duloc" song.
    "Please keep off of the grass"
    "Shine your shoes, wipe your—(bend over and turn around, exposing butt-cracks) FACE!"
  • Curse Escape Clause: Fiona was cursed to be an ogre at night and a human during the day. The curse was broken by True Love's Kiss. Good thing it wasn't just any true love...
    • The second implies it was supposed to make her permanently human. The phrasing is "love's true form".
  • Does That Sound Like Fun to You?:
    Donkey: I don't get it, Shrek. Why didn't you just pull some of that ogre stuff on him? You know, throttle him, lay siege to his fortress, grind his bones to make your bread? You know, the whole ogre trip.
    Shrek: Oh, I know. Maybe I could have decapitated an entire village, put their heads on a pike, gotten a knife, cut open their spleens and drink their fluids. Does that sound good to you?
    Donkey: Uh, no, not really, no.
  • Double Entendre: Shrek makes this when he remarks on the short Lord Farquaad's tall castle, when saying "Do you think maybe he's compensating for something?"
  • Engagement Challenge: Shrek saved princess Fiona from a castle situated over a smoldering volcano in the first movie. She was O.K. with marrying him until finding out he was an Ogre, and he was just working as a champion for Lord Farquaad. In keeping with the whole theme of subverting fairy tales in the movies, she turns into an ogre as well and marries Shrek anyway. On top of that, the (female) dragon who was guarding the princess ends up with Shrek's sidekick Donkey.
  • Face Palm: Farquaad when he sees Shrek beating his knights.
  • Fantastic Nature Reserve: Shrek's swamp, very much against his wishes.
  • Fantastic Racism: Farquaad. The trope's name has never been so appropriate: Farquaad hates all "fairy tale creatures" and has them evicted and forced into Shrek's swamp. His "perfect kingdom" would have nobody but (non-magical) humans.
  • Female Monster Surprise: Donkey realizes as Dragon moves out of the shadows that she's a female dragon, thanks to her eyelashes and lipstick. He's surprised for a moment, but uses this to keep flattering her so she won't kill him.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Makes an appearance during the wedding scene. The eponymous ogre and Fiona find themselves beset by Mooks; Shrek starts 'wading' through them, throwing them off as necessary. They manage to slow him, but we never get to find out the ending thanks to a Gunship Rescue moment.
  • Foreshadowing: The mirror tries to warn Farquaad of something that happens to Fiona after the sun goes down. As he discovers later due to his refusal to listen, it is her curse that turns her into an ogre at night. Shrek finds out at the same time, but has quite a different reaction to Farquaad's.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: A definitive example.
  • French Jerk/Just a Stupid Accent: Although in most retellings, Robin Hood is an English Saxon fighting the tyranny of French-descended Normans; in Shrek he inexplicably has a French accent. And is a jerk to boot.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • "Farquaad", natch.
    • The aforementioned diminutive lord asking a disgusted magic mirror to show him Princess Fiona... again.
      • Even better: pay attention to the bedsheets at his waist when he says that she's perfect. A tent forms...
    • Arguable example: When Dragon has Donkey wrapped in the coils of her tail and flirts with him, she at one point lowers her snout below the level of his waist. Donkey objects to her apparently petting his tail... but her head is placed in front of him, not behind...
    • The inclusion of the Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah." The lyrics to that song are highly sexual, and, despite sounding like a love song, it's actually a song that compares the Jews losing their covenant with God with a man breaking up with a woman he really loved.
  • Girl in the Tower: Lampshaded
  • Go Look at the Distraction: Fiona sending Donkey to get a specific flower while she treats Shrek's arrow wound.
  • Gunship Rescue: Dragon swoops in to take out Lord Farquaad just in time to rescue Fiona. See Berserk Button, above.
  • Heroic Neutral: Shrek at first - he just wants his swamp back!
  • I Just Want to Be Beautiful: Fiona's motivation throughout the movie is to quit switching between human and ogre; naturally, she assumes that she'll be human when she "takes love's true form." So she is rather taken aback when she is permanently fixed in ogre form.
    Fiona: I don't understand; I'm supposed to be beautiful.
    Shrek: But you are beautiful. (Fiona smiles.)
  • Induced Hypochondria: Shrek and Fiona psych Donkey into feeling ill so they can spend one more day together.
  • Insult Misfire: Upon seeing Shrek for the first time...
    Farquaad: Ugh, it's hideous!
    Shrek: Well, that's not very nice. It's just a donkey.
    Donkey: Huh?
    Farquaad: Indeed.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Happens twice in the film.
    • It first occurs during an exchange between Farquaad and Fiona, after Shrek and Fiona have their falling out.
    Farquaad: "You don't have to waste good manners on the ogre. It's not as if it has feelings."
    Fiona: "No. You're right." (pointedly at Shrek, in anger) "It doesn't."
    • Later, right at the climax, when Fiona reveals her ogress form, Farquaad is appalled by her appearance, yelling "It's disgusting!"
  • It's All Upstairs from Here: Lampshaded, Shrek points out that Fiona will be at the top of the highest tower. Donkey asks how he knows and Shrek says he "read it in a book".
  • It's Quiet... Too Quiet: Shrek says this when he and Donkey first enter Duloc.
  • I've Got an X and I'm Not Afraid to Use It: "I'm a donkey on the edge!"
  • Jerkass: Lord Farquaad.
  • Just Desserts: Lord Farquaad's demise.
  • Kill It with Fire: Played with at the beginning: One member of the angry mob waves a torch in Shrek's face, hoping to scare him. Shrek snuffs the flame out with his fingers.
  • Kissing Discretion Shot: Done at the end of the movie, combined with Breaking the Fourth Wall. Also subverted, as Shrek covering up the camera leads to an Idiosyncratic Wipe to Shrek and Fiona kissing in their own wedding.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Farquaad gets what he deserves at the wedding and gets eaten by Dragon. Dragon burps out his crown a few seconds later.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Didn't know Fiona was turned into an ogress? Then don't look at the covers of any of the sequels.
  • Loves Me Not: Fiona does this with a sunflower Shrek left at her doorstop, but to decide whether she should tell Shrek her deep, dark secret: "I tell him, I tell him not..." She plucks the last petal on a "I tell him!" but the sun rises just then and she returns to human form before she can find Shrek.
  • Major Injury Underreaction:
    Fiona: There's an arrow in your butt!
    Shrek: Huh? Oh, would you look at that.
  • Minsky Pickup: Robin Hood's song.
  • Moonwalk Dance: Pinocchio performs it near the end of Shrek Two while imitating Jackson.
  • Moral Dissonance: see "Comedic Sociopathy" above.
  • Mistaken for Own Murderer: Donkey, unaware of Fiona's curse, thinks that an ogre ate her when he finds one in her room. She manages to calm him enough to explain.
  • Mirror-Cracking Ugly: Shrek's mirror can't withstand his smile.
  • Mutilation Interrogation: Played for laughs when the Gingerbread Man gets both of his legs broken of and his head dipped into a glass with milk. Lord Farquaad then crushes one of the legs in his hands, but the other leg is later reattached with frosting, making it neccessary for Gingy to walk with a candy cane. (He gets the other leg reattached by the sequel.)
  • Noodle Incident: When going into hero worship mode of Shrek shortly after Shrek unwittingly saved Donkey's butt from Farquaad's men, Donkey mentions another time before meeting Shrek that he nearly had his nosehairs burned off. However, Shrek tried to muffle his mouth, to no avail. The only thing that was revealed was that it had something to do with eating rotten berries and his undergoing indigestion.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Twice involving Dragon. First is when she shows up at the swamp just before the climax, with no explanation for how she broke her chain. The second time she arrives at Duloc, and Donkey lets her run off to have some fun attacking the knights while he and Shrek sort out the main plot.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Rather subtle because the distances involved were so small, but in the scene where Donkey and Shrek are arguing underneath the moon, Donkey demonstrates an unusual knack for getting in Shrek's face no matter which way the ogre turns.
  • One Side of the Story: The movie pulled off a two-sided version of this. Shrek half-overhears a conversation between Fiona and Donkey, but misses the most significant part: that Fiona turns into an ogre at night. The next day Shrek and Fiona both assume that Shrek heard the whole conversation and each jump to a false conclusion: Shrek jumps to the conclusion that Fiona was talking about him when she said "who could love a beast so hideous and ugly", and "ugly and princess don't go together", and when Shrek confronts her about this the next morning, Fiona jumps to the conclusion that Shrek is disgusted with the fact that she becomes an ugly ogre at night. This crushes both their romantic feelings for each other, and Fiona goes to Duloc with Farquaad and Shrek goes back to his swamp.
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: As mentioned under One Side of the Story, Shrek is about to confess his love to Fiona, when he overhears Fiona talking to Donkey, saying that no-one could love a monster like an ogre. Of course, he is unaware that she is talking about the curse that turns her into an ogre, which she conveniently doesn't explicitly mention again until just after Shrek gets disgusted and leaves.
  • Outrun the Fireball: In the first movie, Shrek, Donkey, and Fiona use this trope as they reach the bridge leading away from the dragon's castle, and the dragon takes one last shot at them with her fiery breath.
  • Parental Bonus: Farquaad is a caricature of Disney CEO Michael Eisner; see also Meaningful Name and Double Entendre above.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Ogres. Are not. Like cakes!"
    • "I live alone! My swamp! Me! Nobody else, understand?! Nobody! Especially useless! Pathetic! Annoying! Talking DONKEYS!!!"
  • Radial Ass Kicking: Happens with Fiona and the Merry Men as well as the wrestling scene in the arena.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Fiona in the first film, upon seeing her ogre reflection in a bucket of water.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    Donkey: (to Shrek) You know, with you, it's always "Me, me, me!" Well, guess what?! Now it's my turn! So you just shut up and pay attention! You are mean to me, you insult me, you don't appreciate anything that I do! You're always pushing me around or pushing me away!
    Shrek: Yeah? Well, if I treated ya' so bad, why did you come back?
    Donkey: 'Cause that's what friends do. They forgive each other!
    Shrek: Alright, Donkey, I forgive you... for stabbing me in the back!
  • Reference Overdosed
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Subverted. The dragon seems evil and ferocious at first, but then she falls for Donkey and it's shown she has a softer side.
  • Rescue Introduction: Shrek and Donkey meet Fiona when rescuing her from the tower.
  • Rope Bridge: A thin rickety one leads to the castle where Fiona is imprisoned. Donkey naturally is quite terrified to walk across it over "a boiling lake of lava!!"
  • Royal Decree: When Shrek first encounters the soldiers, they try to read him the prince's decree outlawing all fairy-tale creatures, but get intimidated by him looming over them.
  • Shipper on Deck: Donkey to Shrek and Fiona.
  • Snipe Hunt: Donkey is sent off to find a blue flower with red thorns to keep him from distracting Fiona and Shrek while they dealt with the arrow in Shrek's behind. Taken further as Donkey turns out to be colorblind. Donkey actually finds the flower, too, so it's uncertain Fiona was sending him to find something she expected he'd fail to find. She does say explicitly, though, that the flowers are "for getting rid of Donkey".
    • He doesn't just find the flower, he wanders through a whole copse of them, complaining that his task would be infinitely easier if he could discern colornote , and he only brings back the right flower because he grabs one - any one - in a panic when he hears Shrek yell. The other characters don't even react weirdly, making it a relatively subtle sight gag.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Spoofed in the first movie. Shrek goes to interrupt the wedding of Fiona and Farquaad, but Donkey, suggests him to wait for the priest to say his "speak now or forever hold your peace" bit before before barging in and shouting "I object!". On further investigation, they find they missed that part, so Shrek barges in anyway.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: After showing impeccable fighting skills early in the movie, Fiona can only call helplessly for Shrek when grabbed this way at her wedding. Granted, Farquaad does eventually put a knife to her throat but only after 20 seconds or so of her doing nothing while Shrek, who is also grabbed, actually fights back.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: "Please keep off of the grass,/shine your shoes, wipe your.../...Face!"
    • Which technically does rhyme with the line that follows: "Duloc is, Duloc is, Duloc is a perfect place!"
  • Sudden Musical Ending
  • Taking A Third Option: When Donkey is cut off on a small bridge segment by Dragon, he has two apparent options, neither of them good: He can jump (or fall) off into the lava, or be eaten. Instead, he seduces the dragon, which actually works.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Halfway through the wrestling match in Duloc, Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" kicks in, and both Shrek AND Donkey start to kick ass and take names.
  • This Is My Side: Shrek and Donkey, at one point.
  • Tree Buchet: Shrek does this to Donkey in the first movie.
  • Turn Your Head and Cough: When Donkey learns that Shrek has been hit by an arrow, Donkey panics at the thought of Shrek dying from it and shouts irrelevant medical advice, including "keep your feet elevated", a plea for somebody to perform the Heimlich Maneuver, and "turn your head and cough."
  • You Monster!: The Gingerbread Man to Farquaad: "You're a monster!"
    • Farquaad: "I'm not the monster here, you are! You and that fairy tale trash poisoning my perfect world!"
  • Wedding Deadline: Subverted.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: So, um, what happened to Farquaad's kingdom?
    • And the refugees in the swamp?
      • In the Halloween Episode, they go back to Farquaad's kingdom to find it's now a ghost town.
      • Some of the refugees would reappear in later films (Pinocchio, the Three Little Pigs, Big Bad Wolf, Pied Piper).
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Fiona uses this early in the movie, especially just after the escape from the dragon's castle. It doesn't last.
    Fiona: The battle is won. You may remove your helmet, good Sir Knight.
    Shrek: Uh, no.
    Fiona: Why?
    Fiona: Please, I would'st look upon the face of my rescuer.
    Shrek: No, no you wouldn't...'st.
  • You and What Army?: Inverted. Shrek says this to the leader of a group of soldiers, who turns around and sees that the rest of his troops had run away, leaving a lot of their weapons behind.