Western Animation: The Penguins of Madagascar aka: Penguins Of Madagascar
"Cute and cuddly, boys!"
A spin-off of the Madagascar films currently airing on Nickelodeon. It is an All-CGI Cartoon featuring the penguins of the Madagascar film series (Skipper, Rico, Kowalski, Private), as well as the lemurs (King Julien, Maurice and Mort) and chimpanzees Mason and Phil. A new character, Marlene the otter, is placed in several episodes, and various other characters appear, while the main cast from the films are not shown at all (save for Alex who cameos in one of the TV specials and even then it's only a hallucinations of Skipper's). Private, Kowalski, Maurice and King Julien have all had their voice actors replaced with some names you might recognize just the same.In it, the penguins and other aforementioned characters are all residents of the Central Park Zoo. Led by Skipper, the penguins deal with various missions within the zoo. At times, they are at odds with Incidental Villain King Julien, but at other times, he and the other two lemurs are needed to help in the missions.The show is very much in an Alternate Continuity, but as its own vehicle it manages to stand up rather well. The series premiere drew 6.1 million viewers, setting a new record for viewership on the network.A featurefilm penned by the writers of Megamind is currently in the works.Now with a character sheet and a Ho Yay page.
All Just a Dream: The ending of "Wishful Thinking" makes it seem like the events of the episode were just that, until Bert the Elephant is seen holding a french bread and wearing a beret.
All That Glitters: Subverted. The Lost Treasure of the Golden Squirrel is in fact a room full of gold.
Julien: This is real treasure, right? Not one of those "friendship is the greatest treasure of all" deals? Because you can't trade friendship for, you know, the goods and the services.
All Your Powers Combined: Eggy the duck was cared for by the penguins as an egg, which involved training. As a result after hatching, the duckling possessed all of the penguins' skills and personality traits. At the end, King Julien teaches Eggy how to dance, which also results in him mimicking Julien's Buffy Speak.
Alternate Continuity: This is how producer Tom McGrath (who is also Skipper's VA) sees this series in association with the films. It's been established that the lemurs are still from Madagascar, and that the penguins have been there, but it's never explained how or why they returned.
Ambiguously Gay: King Julien is this incarnate, complete with imaginary girlfriends. He also declared that he was given a diamond necklace by the Sky Spirits for "kicking up the fabulous, baby!" Complete with air-humping.
Julien: To impress this girly monkey, you must sweep her off her feet. That is how I got my many girlfriends.
Maurice: What girlfriends?
Julien: You don't know them, they're all in Canada, but trust me when I tell you that they are made up... I mean with lipstick and powders and such, but you know, tastefully.
An Aesop: Like adult-oriented cartoons, the show plays with this; it may genuinely bring out some sound Aesops, but it very much brings out subversions to this by mostly throwing the Aesop away, especially at the last minute. They're not Lost Aesops, mind you, since they are done intentionally, and for fun.
Private: But, Skipper, doesn't violence beget more violence?
Skipper: It sure does, Private. It's a win-win!
An Ass Kicking Christmas: "The All Nighter Before X-Mas". Pummeled Fake Santas! Stolen trees, including big car chase! Generic mayhem! Spirit of Christmas, only slightly lampshaded!
Everyone but Mort is unusually small for their species — no one seems to be over 2 feet tall.
The gorillas, on the other hand, are about the same size as the rhinoceros - so it's either extremely big gorillas or an extremely small rhinoceros.
Especially blatant when the (scaled-up) gorillas and the (scaled-down) chimpanzees share a screen. While in Real Life, chimpanzees are only slightly smaller (although much more gracile) than gorillas, in this show a chimp could fit into a gorilla's hand.
Anti-Hero: Type II - they're the good guys but all four of them show some morally ambiguous traits.
Appease the Volcano God: Referenced in "Huffin and Puffin." One of the characters ties up the penguins and attempts to trap them in a hollow plastic volcano in the lemur exhibit so that he can cause mayhem. Maurice notices and wonders aloud what is going on. Julien replies: "Someone is sacrificing penguins to the volcano...eh, these things happen."
In "Fit to Print", the penguins are concerned over a picture of the lemurs that also has the penguins doing their secret things in the background... but Skipper's even more concerned that the picture also shows him with toilet paper stuck to his foot.
In "The Hoboken Surprise" when Skipper learned that the deranged zookeeper of the Hoboken Zoo would be working at the Central Park Zoo, he realized that everyone there would be replaced with bio-androids and imagined Marlene being thrown off a cliff by her double, Phil and Mason's doubles throwing them in a underground chamber, and...Julien's double using him as a punching bag, to which he stated "Eh, I could live with that one".
Artifact of Attraction: The key and the treasure itself, in the episode, "The Lost Treasure of the Golden Squirrel".
Baby Carriage: In "Cradle&All". Of course they manage to save it, but of course the baby escapes again, of course to a wrecking site, giving rise to a nod to Buster Keatons famous window-over-man scene and some (lampshaded) ScoobyDoobyDoors.
Badass Adorable: Mort, who is usually rather cute and pathetic, but he has been known to beat Skipper at arm-wrestling, uproot whole trees and smash things with them, and beat up gorillas (though the last one was a result of one of Kowalski's experiments accidentally making him extremely large and muscular). Private may also qualify. Despite being very "cute and cuddly" he's been shown to be an excellent fighter, able to fend off Skipper's attacks while training blindfolded in one episode. And all without breaking a sweat. Then there's Eggy the duckling, who possesses the fighting skills of all the penguins before he gave it up for dancing.
Badass Fingersnap: This turns out to be how The Red Squirrel activates his mind control of Buck Rotgut. Kowalski realizes that they can do the same to break his control... but then realizes that the penguins lack the necessary digits.
Bad Impressionists: Julien tries to imitate Mason, which results in "Ook ook! I sure do love the tire swing!"). When asked to do one of Private, Julien says, "Ook ook! I sure do love a stinky fish!" Private himself copies Julien's imitation of Mason spot on while luring out Savio.
Balloon Belly: Skipper in "Action Reaction" Where whenever he gets stressed, he swells up like a balloon meeting this example accordingly.
Julien also unfortunately gets in on the ballooning at the end of the episode.
Kowalski also gets one in "The Big Move" When he accidentally zaps himself small with a body altering ray gun and leaves it to Burt to zap him back to his original size and shape. He becomes big, small, fat, thin and poka doted.
King Julien in "Time Out" where he eats a hot dog whole and becomes quite round.
Bamboo Technology: Considering what he has to work with, Kowalski has come up with some amazing inventions. Also played literally in "Untouchable", where Skipper reveals that one of Kowalski's ultimate inventions is a six-foot bamboo whacking pole.
Big Red Button: Played with in "Tagged." The lemurs have to hit the right-colored one to prevent the heat/air conditioning system (which Kowalski doctored) from blowing up, but all seven are virtually indiscernible shades of red (brick, crimson, scarlet etc.). Mort finally hits the right one, but they've installed the pressure mechanism on the air conditioning system instead of the heater by mistake.
In the first episode, Kowalski is suggested to have a crush on a dolphin named Doris. About 70 episodes later, a sleep-talking Skipper mutters, "No, no Doris, Kowalski must never know..." It's now become somewhat of a Running Gag, as she's been mentioned twice afterwards.
During the official series premier episode, Skipper mentions that he can't set foot in Denmark. Again nearly 70 episodes later, we meet Hans, who was involved with Skipper in the Copenhagen Incident. "You're the reason Skipper can't go to Denmark?!"
Most of the stuff Skipper's paranoid about is always brought up again. During the episode with a lemur robot, Skipper brings up "space squids". I Know Why The Cage Bird Goes Insane shows that Space Squids do exist. And they came to Earth for Kowalski's inventions.
Actually, the Space Squid already catches that robot at the end of the episode.
Bullet Seed: Rico uses popcorn kernels to (literally) shoot out the lights in "Popcorn Panic."
Bullet Time: Done in "Untouchable" when Barry the poison dart frog tries to touch King Julien.
But for Me, It Was Tuesday: In the episode "Arch-enemy", a snail shows up looking for revenge on Private, who he claims stepped on him. Private doesn't recall. Funny enough, it actually did happen on a Tuesday.
To elaborate, Private is often the receiving end of abuse from the other penguins. Kowalski, however, probably has the worst luck of the four, getting countless Amusing Injuries, Sanity Slippages and his inventions frequently backfiring in his face.
Kowalski's "Graveyard Eight" song lets Jeff Bennett show off his singing ability.
"The Return of the Revenge of Dr Blowhole" seems made to allow the cast to show off. Kowalski even gets a duet with Dr. Blowhole. Blowhole even gets two songs to himself afterwards.
Cerebus Syndrome / Darker and Edgier: Starting with "Dr. Blowhole's Revenge", the show began playing up the science-fiction and spy-like aspects more, and the overall feel is a little less cartoonish.
Reverse Cerebus Syndrome / Lighter and Softer: But the trend has reversed somewhat in the latter half of season 2. Strangely, some practices that were abandoned or greatly downplayed by the end of season 1 (e.g. "Kowalski, options", "MY CAR!", Manfredi and Johnson) have also returned.
Chekhov's Gun: Rico's "mushy love sensitivity" in "All Choked Up." At the beginning of the episode, Rico swallows a time bomb, but is given anti-reguritation medicine. After several unsuccessful attempts to make him cough up the bomb, the other penguins tearful farewells repulse him enough to make him gag.
Chronically Crashed Car: Every time something is thrown off screen with an explosion, you can hear the same guy scream "My Car!!!".
Civilized Animal: The animals may not be able to talk to humans, don't exactly live in houses, and usually don't wear clothes, but they do fit this trope a lot of the time.
Class Trip: The point of the episode "Field Tripped."
Cloning Blues: In "Endangered Species", the penguins kept having to reclone Dode the Dodo due to his extreme stunts getting him killed each time.
Coincidental Accidental Disguise: In "I Was a Penguin Zombie," Skipper escapes from the vet after breaking his wing, and through a combination of green topical ointment (which numbs his mouth, making him unable to speak), tangled gauze, talcum powder, and a sprained ankle, ends up looking and acting like the living dead.
After Mort is accidentally made into a towering, muscular lemur in "Mort Unbound," Maurice takes note of this transformation immediately and asks King Julien, "Do you, uh, notice anything different about Mort?" Julien responds, "Well yes, he's obviously doing something different with his hair! It's nice, actually."
Julien when attempting to demotivate the penguins' sewer-rat opponents before a hockey game:
"You probably can't even get the ball into the hoopy thingy!"
"It's called a puck."
"Oh, thanks ... You probably can't even get the ball into the puck thingy!"
In "Field Tripped," Madagascar is mentioned several times.
The entire "It's About Time" episode may be a Continuity Nod to a remark that Kowalski made in "Two Feet High and Rising" about inventing a time machine.
"I Was a Penguin Zombie" gives a slight Continuity Nod to "Needle Point," in that the doctor acknowledges Skipper's fear of needles and gives him a topical application instead.
It pops up again in "King Me," apparently worse than before because said needles were just sewing needles.
"Tangled in the Web" and "Go Fish" mention a video of an old lady beating up a lion.
"Hard Boiled Eggy" is a sequel episode to "Paternal Egg-Stinct", with several flashbacks.
In "Badger Pride", Marlene goes feral when she's outside the zoo, like in "Otter Gone Wild".
In "The All Nighter Before Christmas", Santa greets Julien, to which he says they go back, a nod to Merry Madagascar.
Roger, the Alligator, is first introduced in the episode that Marlene believes he's a monster living underneath her habitat. Later, in "Gator Watch", Roger is caught and moved to the zoo. When Roger shows up again in subsequent episodes he always appears in the zoo.
Max the cat is first met when the penguins believe they've traveled to the moon. Later, the penguins greet him as "Moon Cat", and he's seen in cameo in a later episode.
Barry the poison dart frog, first seen in the episode "Can't Touch This", is seen in the reptile habitats in "The Big Squeeze".
In "Launchtime", Private holds up a tour guide map of the zoo with him on the cover. Many episodes later it's a plot point that Private has always been on the cover of the zoo's tour guide.
The Russian repairman from "Work Order" shows up again in "Kanga Management".
Convenient Eclipse: The monkeys use it to trick Julien into "being nice". You can guess where this ends.
Conveyor Belt-O-Doom: Occurs in "Operation Plush and Cover." The conveyor belt leads to a Nightmare Fuel-ing chomping machine of doom, from which the penguins, as well as Maurice and Mort, are rescued at the last second by King Julien. At the end, it turns out that Private is somehow on the conveyor belt still.
Cool Toy: "Hello Dollface" has the Chatty Ms. Perky, so popular that crowds snap up the inventory everywhere the penguins attempt to get one.
Counting Sheep: In "Two Feet High and Rising," Mort tries to do this but the sheep turn into King Julien's feet.
Defeat Means Friendship: Tyke Bomb Eggy fails to defeat Julien when he uses his dancing skills to dodge attacks. Eggy decides to drop the commando routine and take up dancing lessons with Julien instead.
Demolitions Expert: Rico, to the point where "Kaboom!" is one of the few intelligible words you can get out of him.
Deus Exit Machina: Happens in "Snakehead!" when Skipper gets eaten by a snakehead, leaving his crew to face the beast by themselves...
Dinky Drivers: Occurs any time the penguins need to operate a vehicle.
Doomsday Device: "Blowhole's Revenge," Dr. Blowhole creates a Doomsday machine that draws heat from the earth's core to melt the polar ice-caps and therefore raise the sea-level and destroy all life on earth that cannot swim.
Drama Queen: Ma the Opossum from "Smotherly Love" who always plays dead at the slightest hint of trouble. (Justified, since this is natural opossum habit - or so they said.)
Eleventy Zillion: when Kowalski is asked about a number that's less than nothing, he comes up with "neg-finity".
Embarrassing Slide: Kowalski attempts to show the security footage to the other penguins, but puts in the wrong DVD and shows a film of himself crying and reciting bad poetry devoted to Doris the dolphin. There's even an Oh Crap zoom on his face. In another episode, Private shows slides of their holiday vacation with Skipper sunburnt, and is slapped several times.
Evil Gloating: King Julien gets a round of this in "Kaboom and Kabust".
Exact Words: King Julien asks Burt to paint him. Cue Julien getting the paintbrush dragged across him. (And then subverted when he's smashed onto the canvas, leaving a likeness that Julien actually likes.)
Exotic Equipment: Not shown onscreen, but apparently the penguins are built like actual penguins with no external equipment, given that they can't tell their own sexes without a DNA test.
Skipper has apparently been involved in every major conflict since World War II, and more then few minor conflicts as well. Even though that is a biological impossibility, but then again, Skipper's never been one to let a little thing like reality stand in his way. He also believes in (and may have been to) Atlantis.
Dr. Blowhole seemed to be a one-off gag... until the viewers meet one of his agents reporting in. He then appears himself in "Operation: Blowhole".
Expy: Marlene the Otter is one for Gloria the Hippo. She also exhibits some behavior similar to Alex the Lion (arguably). In fact, one could argue she's meant as an Expy for the entire original cast of the movies.
Fake Rabies: The penguins decide We Need a Distraction when their friend Max the cat is being chased by Officer X of Animal Control, and use cream and fake ears to disguise Mort the mouse lemur as a rabid chihuahua. It works fine until he eats the cream. "I like diseases!"
Skipper occasionally makes less-than-complimentary comments about mammals.
The closest thing to religion in this show (the lemurs' belief in spirits) is generally scoffed at by the other characters.
In "Hard Boiled Eggy", one of Skipper's main arguments against Eggy joining the team is that he isn't a penguin. However, he later makes a comment along the lines of "That boy will make a darn fine penguin" after being impressed by his skills.
This is why every penguin but Private is against helping the young leopard seal, Hunter, in "Operation: Antarctica".
Fartillery: This is how Rico tries to win the car race in "Little Zoo Coupe."
King Julien has become a bit more of a Jerk Ass in comparison to the movies, but he still has his moments (such as saving Skipper's life in one episode).
Kowalski and Rico didn't escape this either. Kowalski went from Skipper's right hand man to a super genius egomaniac. Rico went from puking up a paperclip, to being able to contain absolutely anything within his gut. Most fans of both the films and the show seem to take this flanderization as Rule of Funny, thus proving that Tropes Are Not Bad.
The penguins slap each other frequently in the films, like The Three Stooges, whereas it's a rare occurrence in the show. This is probably abiding by childrens' network regulations so kids don't try to imitate it.
In the movies and the series, the penguins have gone from secretly escaping from the zoo using spoons to coming and going as they please, and doing whatever the hell they like, though still caring if anyone notices.
Mort once had his foot fetish cured, only to regain it while rescuing King Julien.
In an inversion, the penguins once lowered their intelligence down to Mort's level (see Disability Immunity above), but then became their smart old selves again (well, "smart" is a bit of an overstatement for Rico).
For Science!: Kowalski justifies more of his dangerous and questionable inventions with this trope.
Four-Fingered Hands: Averted with humans, chimpanzees and gorillas. Played straight with non-primates and lemurs except Maurice.
Four-Man Band: Too many roles are doubled up on for this to be a Five-Man Band - but the smaller comedy-based group dymanic works well.
The Normal Guy: Skipper. Of course, that doesn't mean he's normal; just that he's the basis for normal within the group.
Friendly Enemy: Skipper and Julien. They spend most of their shared screentime arguing and generally being annoyed by the other, but Skipper will go out of his way to help Julien, and Julien has gone to Skipper to have his problems fixed. It was to the point that they were actually mistaken as 'BFF's by Skipper's Arch Nemesis Dr. Blowhole... and the other penguins agreed with him.
Julien: So I face danger and the adventure of a lifetime and nobody will ever know about it?!
Skipper: Welcome to my world. That makes you an honorary penguin.
GASP: In one episode, everyone gasps upon hearing that Mort had been kidnapped. Everyone, that is, except King Julien, who momentarily forgets who Mort is, then reassures them that "I too am gasping in horror, but on the inside."
Skipper: They had the initial advantage, but this time we are prepared, it won't happen twice.
[cut to the team being chased by hornets yet again]
Skipper: It happened twice!
And again in "King Julien for a Day". Just as Marlene says that she thinks Skipper and Julien's Swapped Roles will help them gain an understanding for each other, the show cuts to the two arguing all over again.
Girlfriend in Canada: King Julien claims he has girlfriends in Canada, but you can trust him that they are made up... with lipstick and mascara, he means, but tastefully.
Girls Have Cooties: Played with in "Operation: Cooties". Julien sees girls chasing after boys and "spreading" cooties throughout the zoo, right after Marlene has offered leaves of poison ivy to the penguins. The penguins then conclude that Marlene has given them cooties once the poison ivy kicks in.
Going Cold Turkey: This is how the penguins try to break Mort free from his foot fetish.
Hands Go Down: "Launchtime": Skipper wants to go on vacation and Private suggests going to a zoo (which is shot down because they already live in one). Later...
Skipper: Gentlemen, we are going to the moon!
(Private raises his hand)
Skipper: And no, there's no zoo on the moon.
(Private's hand goes down)
Hand Signals: While infiltrating a plush toy factory, Skipper gives King Julien hand signals to go ahead and keep a lookout. Julien doesn't understand the signals, obviously, so Skipper simply screams the instructions to him, who responds with "Why didn't you just say so?"
Hard Work Montage: Parodied in "Lemur See, Lemur Do," where they decide to fix a broken robot. After the montage, Skipper says, "Well, now that we fixed the coffee machine, let's get working on that robot."
The common "duty"/"doody" variant occurs in "All King, No Kingdom." Maurice says that he has duties, and Mort starts giggling about Maurice saying "doody."
After a scene where the penguins rub Max's butt against a tree to leave his scent and fool Agent X, they move off to the side to watch Agent X. Private starts snickering when Agent X starts saying things like "no ifs, ands or buts," "get to the bottom of this," etc., and then loses it when Skipper remarks that he hasn't seen Private laugh so much since the time that they were in Butztown, Pennsylvania.
Happened again in "Herring Impaired" when Skipper remarked about the 'poop deck' of his model ship.
He Who Must Not Be Seen: Skipper's arch-nemesis Dr. Blowhole started as this, only to avert it in "Dr. Blowhole's Revenge (Operation: Blowhole)".
Hoist by His Own Petard: A non-fatal version occurs in "Jiggles" when the cube absorbs Kowalski right after he hugs it, because he's been handling so much fruit to feed it. Cue the My God, What Have I Done?, and the immediate Lampshading by Julien.
At the end of "Return of the Revenge of Dr. Blowhole (Blowhole Strikes Back)" Skipper uses the device Blowhole used to steal his memories at the beginning, then puts him in a habitat at the zoo where he jumps through flaming hoops as he did before.
Hollywood Chameleons: The chameleons that appear in one episode use their colors as a means of communication.
Hollywood Hacking: In one episode, the penguins hacked into a computer by literally hacking the CPU with a chainsaw.
Hurricane of Euphemisms: In "Field Tripped", Julien is forcing the other lemurs (and Fred) to imitate the penguins. Eventually he tells Maurice to throw up something useful, a request that confuses him.
You know, spew. Hork. Blow chunkies. Laugh at the carpet. Rainbow yawn. Yell at your shoes. I don't care what you do, but give me something useful from your gut!
Hypocritical Humor: When Skipper learns about Private's past in "Mr. Tux", he states he doesn't like it and prefers that his men be one-dimensional, yet he has a Multiple Choice Past. Looks like he feels he's the only one who should have a complex past.
Julien: Ah! Thank goodiness you are here to help my chunky monkey to carry me.
Maurice: I'm big boned!
I Come in Peace: Occurs in "Launchtime" when greeting Max the stray cat, whom they think is a "moon cat": "We come in peace. For now."
Idiosyncratic Wipes: Some early episodes used a wipe that comprised silhouettes of the penguins running against a striped background. "Mask of the Raccoon" used a wipe that showed a silhouette of Skipper holding a butter knife.
I Have This Friend: Occurs in "Monkey Love." Mason and Phil get a female named Lulu staying in her habitat; Phil falls in love with her and asks Mason to speak on his behalf. Lulu thinks Mason is speaking of himself when he talks about his "friend", and the rest of the episode is spent trying to get her to fall in love with Phil instead, with disastrous results.
I Know You Know I Know: Things get out of hand when Skipper tries to get back real fish instead of the tasteless fish cakes the penguins have been forced to eat. Julien tried to sabotage the operation.
Julien: So you see, we have the crates with the real fish, while yours are filled with only the phony fish cake. So hahaha-ing.
Skipper: Oh, nice try, Ringtail. But I know how much you hate the smell of fish. I was expecting a move like that, which is why I switched the crates before you even got back to the zoo.
Julien: Ah, but I was expecting you to be expecting that, so we switcheroo-ed the crates on the pier before the fish got loading on to the truck. Ha ha!
Skipper: Doesn't really matter, because I just switched these crates during your last flashback.
Julien: Well I switched them while you were saying you switched them.
Skipper: And I switched them last the time you blinked.
Julien: Yes, but I pretended to switch them so you actually switched them back.
Skipper: Oh, but I double switched.
Julien: And I triple switched.
Skipper: I million zillion switched.
Julien: And I switched them to infinity! So you have to shut up a little bit.
Skipper: Ah, but what you didn't see coming is that... [reveals that he's really Julien] I am actually you!
Julien: Okay, nicely played. But if you are me, then by processing of elimination, [reveals that he's really Skipper] I must be you!
Skipper who is really Julien: Maybe, maybe. But if you are me, and I am you, then we must both be?
Private: So, after Rico trounces the rats inside Roger's body, we switch them back?
Skipper: Exactly. It's 100% fool-proof.
Kowalski: More precisely, it's 2.7% foolproof. There's a 97.3% chance that this will backfire and result in a horrific abomination that will be an affront to the most elemental laws of nature and the universe.
Incidental Villain: King Julien. Being a spoiled ego-maniacal control freak, he's the most common antagonist on the show, with his schemes often being the catalyst for larger plots or being the main threat of the episode. But, despite being something of a Jerk Ass, he is only casually disliked by the rest of the cast. The other characters tolerate him when he's not doing anything antagonistic, since he's not generally a bad guy, just a spoiled jerk who occasionally screws with people to get his own way.
Insane Troll Logic: In the episode "The Red Squirrel", Buck Rockgut thinks that if any animal likes nuts, likes drawings of red squirrels, has a bushy tail, or reads a book with a red cover, they automatically work for the Red Squirrel. Private somewhat calls him out on the last one.
Buck: (to Phil and Mason) Read any good books lately? Read? Red...THE RED SQUIRREL!
Played with in "Otter Things Have Happened". Kowalski invented a device which can locate the ideal mate for someone. When he tested it on Marlene, it turned out that her ideal partner is Fred the squirrel. However, their relationship didn't work out, and it was hinted in the end of episode that her real ideal one is a male otter who lives near Fred's
In another episode, it's strongly hinted that Kowalski once had a love affair with a dolphin named Doris.
The Knights Who Say Squee: In "The Red Squirrel," Skipper, Kowalski, and Rico all squee over meeting and working with the legendary Special Agent Buck Rockgut. Skipper even claims to have "patterned his whole life" after Rockgut. Their enthusiasm fades when he accuses first Private then Kowalski of being the villainous Red Squirrel.
Loads and Loads of Characters: Eight characters comprise the primary cast: the penguins, the lemurs and Marlene, who is prominent enough to appear in the intro. Among the large cast of recurring characters are Alice the zookeeper, Mason and Phil the chimps, Roger the alligator, Fred the squirrel, Bada and Bing the gorillas, Joey the kangaroo, Max the stray cat, Burt the elephant, and a few one-shots.
MacGuffin: In "It's About Time", the key component Kowalski needs to finish his time machine is an isotope called MacGuffium-239.note 239 as in Plutonium-239 Could also be considered an example of Unobtainium.
Mad Scientist: Kowalski always showed hints, but in "Jiggles" he really was going bonkers.
Malaproper: King Julien has shades of this. "These stitions are very super!"
Manly Tears: Skipper cries one "very small, very MANLY" tear when he realizes just how much of his life he's wasted —er, spent— with Julien. (The tear is needed to "defuse" the S.T.A.N.K. machine of selfsame episode.)
Meaningful Name: Joey. ("Joey" is the Australian word for a baby kangaroo.)
Missing Episode: Several episodes appeared on DVD and/or Nickelodeon's website well before they made it to air. The last two episodes to be considered "missing" were "Truth Ache" and "Command Crisis", which appeared on the show's first DVD compilation but didn't air until November 2010.
Multiple Choice Past: More like Multiple Choice Deaths. What the hell happened to Manfridi and Johnson anyway?
The Music Meister: In "The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr. Blowhole", Dr. Blowhole's new device accidentally fuses with an experimental power cell and an MP3 player to form a machine capable of doing this. Blowhole himself becomes this when he takes control of it. No surprise there, since he's voiced bytheTrope Namer.
Mushroom Samba Tree frog venom is implied to cause this, with Kowalski commenting that he "could taste sound".
My Car Hates Me: Literally, in "Driven to the Brink". Rico accidentally destroys the car, and when he rebuilds it it comes to life and starts violently attacking him.
Nano Technology: Kowalski created a bunch of nanites capable of animating any machine. In an attempt to keep them from ending up like his other creations, Kowalski programmed them to never allow harm to come to the penguins. Unfortunately, considering their commando lifestyle, the nanites naturally took their programming too far.
Kowalski: They're taking him straight to the gray-bar hotel.
Private: Oh, a hotel? Well, that'll solve his housing problem. I wonder if he'll find a mint on his pillow?
(the others stare; after a beat, Skipper reaches over and pats Private lightly on the head)
Never the Selves Shall Meet: Kowalski invents a Time Machine, but a future Kowalski has come to get Private to stop him, warning him that if both Kowalskis were to ever meet, it would cause a rip in the space-time continuum. Also, a third Kowalski has come to get Skipper to keep the time machine from being destroyed. When the two future Kowaslkis meet, they reassure the others that it's okay, as long as the original Kowalski doesn't see them. And that's when original Kowalski sees them, causing the space-time rupture that led them all here in the first place.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Professor Blowhole even says "Thank you Kowalski!" when Kowalski accidentally activated his machine to melt the polar ice caps.
The Nicknamer: Skipper has a few shades of this, referring to King Julien exclusively as "Ringtail" and Mort as "Sad Eyes." And "Moon Cat" for Max. And "Sstingtail" for the leader of a hornet hive. And "Big Grey"/"Long Trunks" for Burt.
Nightmare Fetishist: Rico is perfectly happy with things that give the other penguins nightmares. Like serenely munching away on popcorn while watching a Brutal Nature Documentary with penguins getting gobbled up by leopard seals. And when Kowalski and Private are clearly horrified/nauseated at Skipper's broken flipper in "I Was a Penguin Zombie," Rico looks... a little too interested and in "Roger Dodger", as Roger is being pummeled offscreen by the rats, Rico stares at said beatdown, a blank smile on his face, his left eye twitching, and licks his beak at the end.
The giant, carnivorous death machine of a fish in "Snakehead!" Lampshaded in-universe by how it terrifies most of the cast, who go on and on about its various nightmare-fueling features. The penguins (minus Skipper) are also terrified by Kowalski's crudely drawn picture of the beast.
In-Show example: In "Sting Operation", after their minds are put back, Kowalski claims that he got some of Rico's thoughts. His words: "So... horrible," while cringing. Rico merely shrugs at this.
Though not shown, the aforementioned Brutal Nature Documentary in "All Choked Up" serves as this for... three of the penguins.
No Flow in CGI: Compared to the films, the lemurs aren't visibly fuzzy, instead they're textured to merely look like they are. Similarly, the penguins' feathers have a lot less sheen to them then they do in the movies. Noticeably subverted however with the leaves on King Julien's crown, which realistically sway when he moves around.
Alice: X, eh? Is that the name your mommy gave you?
Agent X: Mother never told me my real name. Said it was classified.
Non Sequitur Thud: In "Miracle on Ice," Kowalski gets knocked out during a hockey game and starts babbling in an oddly erudite manner, since he's the Cunning Linguist of the group. "Flibbery-gibbit, man! I'm as juxtaposed as the next hamburger!"
In "Kaboom and Kabust", King Julien pieces together one of the penguins' shredded, highly-classified documents:
King Julien: This one makes a penguin!... But why is he shaking hands with a Sasquatch and the King of Sweden?
Occurs again in "Hot Ice", After Julien concludes that the "sky spirits" are mad at him for something Mort did, Mort asks the "sky spirits" if it was for the "you know what" in Maurice's oatmeal.
When a Truth Serum-addled Private exposes the secrets of the zoo-dwellers, Marlene has two; first he reveals to everyone that she performs imaginary pop concerts in her room, which the viewers actually saw her do earlier in the episode, and later:
Marlene: Okay, all I wanna know is, do you know about-?
Marlene: And how I like to-?
Marlene: With the-?
He also mentions that she thought that was embarrassing, she should see what Kowalski does when he thinks no one is looking.
Manfredi and Johnson. Actually, they have suffered many Noodle Incidents, all vaguely alluded to as terrible warnings from the past, but none ever fully explained.
Nose Nuggets: Trope Namer. In one episode, King Julien gets trapped in Burt the Elephant's trunk. When he finally gets out, he says that his life "and many nose nuggets" flashed before his eyes.
Oh Crap: A very common and familiar facial expression for the cast. Especially the penguins, who even get one during the title sequence.
Older Than They Look/Vague Age: The writers seem to delight in providing implausibly high ages for the characters. According to her Nickelodeon profile, Marlene was born in 1952, and Word of God is that Mort is actually thirty-five. Private, despite appearing to be a teenager and occasionally acting like a small child, is old enough to have had at least one previous identity, as shown in "Mr Tux".
Private treads into this during episodes like "The Red Squirrel."
Maurice and Marlene fit this trope as well.
Rico, of all people, becomes this in "Herring Impaired" when the others came down with a disease that made them just about as crazy for fish as him.
Organ Autonomy: In "Mort Unbound," Julien gets into a squabble with his own brain while congratulating himself on using the suddenly muscle-bound Mort to intimidate the other zoo animals to giving their stuff to him. He even turns from side to side to pantomime speaking to somebody else.
Julien: That was a great idea I just had. I must compliment my brain. Good idea, brain.
His brain: Thanks, I think it was nice that you had an idea that you didn't pull out of your booty.
Julien: Hey, do not speak ill of the booty!
His brain: Oh, booty, booty, booty! Shut up about the booty!
Julien: You shut up about the shutting up!
His brain: Fine, then I am not talking to you!
Julien: And I am not talking to you! Stupid brain.
The Other Darrin: Among the eight voiced characters common to the films and the TV series (as mentioned, Phil doesn't talk), four have the same voice actors across the board: Tom McGrath (Skipper), John DiMaggio (Rico), Andy Richter (Mort) and Conrad Vernon (Mason). DreamWorks staff members Chris Miller (Kowalski) and Chris Knights (Private) were respectively replaced by Jeff Bennett and James Patrick Stuart; Kevin Michael Richardson took over Maurice's role from Cedric the Entertainer; and Danny Jacobs replaced Sacha Baron Cohen as King Julien.
Operation Blank: All of the penguins' missions are dubbed "Operation _____." There is also a DVD compilation titled Operation: DVD Premiere, and one episode is titled "Operation: Plush and Cover."
Papa Wolf: "Paternal Egg-Stinct" shows Private to be one. Private is so horrified by the other penguins' rough handling of the egg that he steals it and snaps at Skipper. Also, Kowalski towards Jiggles the goo monster.
Julian towards the baby Fusa once he realizes it thinks Julian is its daddy.
Playing Pictionary: Julien and Marlene are missing and Kowalski shows a picture he drew of them to Fred the squirrel.
Fred: Which one's the otter? Kowalski: This one, obviously. Note the whiskers? Fred: Oh, I thought that was a cat. Kowalski: Did I ask "have you seen this lemur and cat?" Fred: No, that's why I thought it was odd that you drew a cat. Kowalski: It's not a cat. Fred: Then why does it have whiskers? Kowalski: You know what? Forget the otter. Fred: Cat. Kowalski: Whatever!
Portmanteau: King Julien coins "skorca" in reference to the "sky orca" (really an inflatable in a parade) and then lampshades it by saying that it's popular to put two words together that way. In a later episode, he acquires a "neck decoration" (a diamond necklace), which he renames a "neckoration."
Potty Dance: King Julien remarks in "Friend In A Box" that he never learned "that dance." Being the king, he just goes wherever he is. Kowalski takes two steps away from Julien upon hearing that.
Potty Emergency: Utilized as a weapon by Kowalski and Julien during "Friend-In-A-Box" to try and distract Mort long enough for Kowalski to snatch the circuit board from the game Mort was playing.
There was also an episode where Skipper told the penguins not to move a muscle in front of the camera for something (forgot what it was) and Private told Skipper he had to go to the bathroom so Skipper told him to go, so Private walks away somewhere. (Meanwhile Kowalski and Rico look slightly uncomfortable.) When Private comes back, he thanks Skipper. Then Rico spewed a newspaper and walked away and Kowalski did the same, and Skipper was getting ticked off.
Potty Failure: Played with in "Operation: Antarctica". When Private meets Hunter's dad, a yellow puddle appears at his feet. He then steps to the side, revealing a tipped-over styrofoam cup.
Alice in "Popcorn Panic," upon catching a boy feeding popcorn to the animals: "Do! Not! Feed! The! Animals!" It's punctuated with her slapping up a "Do Not Feed the Animals" sign on some object with each word.
Lampshaded in "In the Line of Doody," with a sting and a zoom-in on each word.
Skipper: The clock... is... ticking.
Kowalski: So were the dramatic pauses really necessary, then?
Skipper: (another sting, camera zooms in closer) Yes.
Puppy-Dog Eyes: Attempted by Rico in "Driven to the Brink". Skipper tells him it won't work this time, though.
Rasputinian Death: Marlene wants to do this to King Julien at the end of "Otter Things Have Happened": "When I find Julien, I'm gonna rip him limb from limb, sew him back together, then rip him apart all over again!"
Readings Are Off the Scale: When Kowalski mentions that readings of spectral activity are off the charts, Skipper suggests getting bigger charts.
Also, the Cute-O-Meter which prompty explodes when Private overloads it with his total adorableness.
Kowalski: It appears Private has discovered some sort of "Quantum Hyper Cute!" 132% adorability!
Recycled: The Series : it is in fact an unplanned TV series adapted from a movie. However, it gets around most of the problems inherent in this by taking sort a Negative Continuity approach to the events of the films, and otherwise really shuffling up the characters and setting. Sort of a "In Name Mostly" reboot.
The penguins' car's headlights took on a red glow in "Driven to the Brink" after it targeted Rico.
Each of the lemurs' eyes turned a near-red after they became crazy and dangerous from eating lychee nuts.
From "Dr. Blowhole's Revenge":
Skipper: Glowing red eyes? That's almost never good.
Red Scare: "The Red Squirrel" had fun with this; Special Agent Buck Rockgut has become paranoid in his hunt for the Red Squirrel. He starts accusing and detaining everyone for things that have nothing to do with the Red Squirrel. Private laments that Rockgut has spent decades going after a threat that may no longer exist. Then we get to see the Red Squirrel who is still scheming and has been spying on Rockgut all along.
RidiculouslyProsimianRobots: Argueably Lem-R, who shall learn the "moves" from Julien to be able to roam the Mars terrain. note The name is a pun with lemur, Lunar Excursion Module and possibly also SF author Stanislaw Lem too, who made the LEM/Lem pun himself.
Road Apples: Mason occasionally talks about flinging poo.
Mort's foot fetish for Julien's feet, as well as his status as The Chew Toy. "Hooray! I'm expendable!"
Skipper warning his men against certain cicrumstances by saying some variation of "Just ask Manfridi and Johnson. Except you can't, because they fell for [situation]. We had to [horrible description]." This might also be a shout out, since Manfridi and Johnson were the two guys machine gunned at the start of Stalag 17.
Skipper's hatred of hippies.
A character will do something destructive, such as cause an explosion, and a voice off camera screams, "My car!"
If a bag is needed for something, it will invariably say "trail mix" on it.
Sanity Ball: Private held it in episodes such as "The Red Squirrel," whereas it was in the flippers of the other three penguins in "Skorca!"
Sapient Cetaceans: Dr. Blowhole, arch-enemy of the penguins of Madagascar, is an Evil Genius bent on having his revenge on humanity for the humiliation he has suffered jumping through flaming hoops on Coney Island. Definitely not friendly or heroic.
Say My Name: "Driven to the Brink" has Skipper crying "RIIIIICCCCOOOO!"
Shaggy Dog Story: The episode "Crown Fools." The penguins and Marlene go on a wild goose chase trying to recover King Julien's crown, but it turns out that he had a spare crown all along and just didn't tell them that.
What Kitka's debut tried to do to Skipper/Marlene. It didn't work. Possibly lampshaded in that even Skipper acknowledged that it wasn't working out.
Almost every time Fred appears, one or more ships are sunk. Skipper/Kitka, Julien/Marlene, Fred/Marlene and Marlene/Antonio... And usually, it happens due to Fred's stupidity.
Ship Tease: Lots of it, in all sorts of directions.
Otter Gone Wild has Marlene showing interest in King Julien (although she was in a feral state at the time), and "Otter Things Have Happened" has him interested in courting Marlene while she's dating Fred the Squirrel (a relationship that, in itself, looked like it was going to work out but didn't).
Kaboom and Kabust is basically one big Julien/Rico Ship Tease. Seriously, just watch their montage.
It's very easy to interpret the penguins' dialogue as ship-worthy. For instance, all the poetry they recite to Rico when they think he's going to die in "All Choked Up".
The Otter Woman, SO MUCH for almost ANY pairing, but especially Skilene.
Skipper and Marlene hug in Miss Understanding, in a rather suggestive manner. While most of their interactions are usually exaggerated by the fans, this particular one is hard to miss or dispute.
Shock and Awe: Skipper uses a static electricity charge to knock out a bunch of Danish secret agents.
Interviews state that they hired a consultant to make sure that all of Phil's sign language is accurate. They also go as far as to make sure that he makes the appropriate facial expression while signing.
In a lesser example, the penguins incubate an egg in "Paternal Egg-Stinct" by holding it between their feet. Hardly an obscure animal fact, but it's certainly a notable example for a cartoon.
Kowalski points out in "Badger Pride" that the two badgers who appear in that episode are "cousins" of Marlene, even going so far as to say that both are in the family mustelidae.
In "Brain Drain", the fish that restore Kowalski's brain actually DO contain omega fatty acids, even the drawing is correct!
The one-shot character dodo bird is depicted as a Fearless Fool who gets himself killed multiple times simply because he's not afraid of anything. This was Truth in Television (and even mentioned on the show), as part of the reason dodos went extinct is because there were next to no predators on their island, and therefore they evolved no defenses and were oblivious to how dangerous humans were when they first showed up.
Shout-Out: In "A Kipper for Skipper", Kowalski enters a subway train and reads a "The Flintstones" comic. Upside-down. (The comic, not Kowalski.)
Smoke Out: Occurs regularly, usually from a bomb that Rico has spit up.
The Smurfette Principle: Aside from Alice (who is a minor adversarial character), Marlene is the only main female character. Even then, she isn't featured in every episode.
Sniff Sniff Nom: Kowalski tends to do this to evidence. He's done it to chameleon footprints and a strand of Julien's hair, among other things.
Some Kind of Force Field: In "Skorca!", when the penguins attack the killer whale balloon (thinking it's a real whale) and bounce off it, Kowalski remarks that "the creature appears to be protected by some kind of blubbery force field. Also, Whee-hee-hee-hee!"
Soul Jar: In one episode, the baboons use "backwoods magic" to steal King Julien's "groove" and seal it in a jar until he gives them an apology. Julien, of course, refuses, and a fight for the jar ensues. It falls and breaks at Skipper's feet; Skipper has remained skeptical about the whole "groove in a jar" thing until he starts dancing uncontrollably.
Spikes of Doom: Seen in "Popcorn Panic" when the birds are getting pushed towards the ceiling by a wave of popcorn:
Skipper: I knew I shouldn't have installed those decorative spikes.
Spirit Advisor: Alex in Dr. Blowhole's Revenge who Skipper's mind dreams up to help him.
Spit Take: Kowalski does five in "Mr. Tux". He even lampshades it twice: first by saying that maybe he should set his cup down, and later on by spit-taking on the security keypad to see if it would fix it.
The Starscream: Clemson the lemur is a non-fatal example in "Right Hand Man".
Status Quo Is God: Averted in "The Penguin Stays in the Picture", which ends with Mort's picture on the new zoo brochures instead of Private's.
Stay in the Kitchen: A rare self-inflicted example in "Miss Understanding"; when Skipper thinks he's actually female, he promptly starts acting out the stereotype, much to Marlene's frustration. The remaining penguins encourage this, complete with Dashing Hero poses and "Don't worry, ladies— Just let us handle things."
The penguins are suspicious of a walrus named Rhonda who moves into Marlene's habitat. They think that the walrus a spy bent on stealing their invention, but Marlene thinks she will be nice once she gets to know her. Once Marlene is upset about Rhonda's messiness, they have her Put on a Bus. But, they realize that the bus is taking her to a polar bear reserve, and take the bus back and put her on a different one. It is then that they realize she has stolen the penguins' invention.
In the episode "Red Squirrel", the penguins meet Rockgut, an old penguin who has spent his life hunting the Red Squirrel, a notorious enemy from forty years ago. Eventually, they realize that Rockgut has become deluded and paranoid after he imprisons all of their friends, accusing them of being agents of the Red Squirrel. So they send him on a Snipe Hunt to get rid of him, and Private feels sorry for him for chasing someone who may not even exist. In fact, the Red Squirrel does exist, and had been waiting for Rockgut to exit so that he could put his plans in motion.
Sugar Apocalypse: Almost literally, at the end of "It's About Time", Kowalski has managed to bury the world (or at least New York) in shaved ice.
Superstition Episode: A sort of version. Rico gets a fortune saying he will meet a foul end. Skipper assures him that it's just a superstition. Julien, wanting Rico to believe the fortune, sets up a bunch of incidents to make Rico believe he's having bad luck.
Kowalksi: [shows picture of Marlene and King Juilen] You there. Have you seen this otter and lemur? Fred: Which one's the otter? Kowalski: This one, obviously. Note the whiskers? Fred: Oh, I thought that was a cat. Kowalski: Did I say "have you seen this lemur and cat"? Fred: No. That's why I thought it was odd that you drew a cat. Kowalski: It's not a cat. Fred: Then why does it have whiskers? Kowalski: You know what, forget the otter. Fred: Cat. Kowalski: Whatever! Have you seen the lemur? Fred: What's a lemur? Kowalski: I think we're done here.
Swallowed Whole: By Savio the boa. In "The Hoboken Surprise", even voluntarily during a wacky escape plan.
Swapped Roles: In "King Julien for a Day", Skipper and King Julien swap roles. Interestingly, Julien manages to complete that episode's mission successfully (even if by accident) to Skipper's praise, but there's no praise for Skipper on the other side. And then they go back to being Friendly Enemy at the end of the episode.
Sweet Tooth: Private and Kowalski. Actually, most of the cast likes to indulge, but those two particularly love their sweets. Kowalski loves candy so much he's horrified at the prospect of a visit to the dentist despite not having any teeth.
Tailfin Walking: Dr. Blowhole stands on his tailfins in an electric scooter.
The Talk: Maurice had to give it to Julien to explain that mammal babies don't come from eggs. Julien didn't believe him.
Third Law of Gender Bending: A faulty DNA test has Skipper convinced he's a female. At first he thinks it won't interfere with his job, but then he does things like wait for the others to open the door for him and ask for directions. So he quits the team, puts on a piiiink bow and moves in with Marlene, who is not amused with his outdated ideas of femininity.
Third-Person Person: Joey the kangaroo almost always refers to himself in the third person. Leonard the koala lampshades this in "Kanga Management".
Subverted in "Two Feet High and Rising." The episode opens with some farting noises, but it turns out it's actually a helium tank inflating balloons.
Played straight and subverted in "An Elephant Never Forgets." Early in the episode, Burt stinks up the zoo's restroom after eating a cabbage and broccoli burrito, but the result is never heard or seen. Later on, he pins down a human with his butt, but instead of gassing him, he just offers the human a kazoo that was lost several years ago.
Lampshaded in "In the Line of Doody," where Private calls the pigeon's fate "poo-etic justice." Skipper is not amused, even calling Private out on his toilet humor.
Literally in "The Big S.T.A.N.K." which is Kowalskis newest invention, which looks exactly like a giant toilet bowl.
Trailers Always Spoil: Most of the ads for "The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr Blowhole" trumpted the fact that Alex the Lion would appear and help Skipper. While they didn't spoil the exact context, anyone who saw them could easily figure out Skipper's first two spirit guides wouldn't be sticking around long.
Lampshaded in "Work Order"; Skipper's eyes keep twitching when he realizes how tenacious a worker is on repairing a water main close to their habitat. After a few twitches, he asks the other penguins if the twitching eye looks weird.
Private also has a tendency to do this (in a more subtle manner) when out of his comfort zone.
Unsound Effect: In "Danger wears a Cape", Maurice is holding up signs with standard sound effects like "Blam!" and "Pow!" as Skipper beats up Julien (not yet this trope, although this already plays with the concept). When Julien has enough, Maurice holds up a sign of an old man, meaning "Retirement".
"Operation: Plush and Cover" with Rico as he is about to tape up King Julien upside down
"Misfortune Cookie" near the end with a brown duck landing on Rico
"Antics on Ice" with Roy the Rhinoceros landing on Skipper
Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: When Rico's destructive habits get too out of control, the penguins decide to make a deal involving a jar of marbles. For every bad action Rico does they'll take one out, and add one for every good action. When the jar is full, they'll let him buy a bunch of accessories for his doll. Private objects to rewarding him just for not doing bad things, and Skipper responds "That's America, baby!"
Warts and All: Buck Rockgut, as introduced in "The Red Squirrel."
We Only Have One Chance: In "Wishful Thinking" when the Penguins are being taken away after their secret has been exposed, Skipper tells Private that he has only shot at making his wish that none of it ever happened.
We Want Our Jerk Back: Occurs in "Eclipsed." King Julien is led to believe that the eclipse is caused by him being a jerk to everyone so he decides to be nice but he becomes very annoying trying to help everyone. An annoyed group of penguins and a made up "sign from the sky spirits" later he's back to normal.
Julien: But what is this feeling I am feeling? It is not a happiness. It is a feeling that I have not done all I should have done. I do not like it! How do I make it go away?
What the Hell, Hero?: Kowalski gets an interesting one after confessing to the others where he got the parts he needed for his mind reading machine. Nobody says anything, but their expressions — and the mind reader — make it clear.
You Monster!: In "Arch-Enemy", a series of mishaps involving a snail causes the entire zoo to think that Private is a vicious brute. Julien asks Private why everyone is acting so strange, and he tells him that he stepped on a snail. Julien doesn't see the big deal, since accidents happen. Private then tells him that he accidently sat on him too. Yeah okay, sometimes accidents happen twice. But when Private tells him that he stepped on him again, he yells "What is wrong with you?! You monster!"
You Say Tomato: Dr. Blowhole pronounces "penguins" as "pen-gyu-ins". Kowalski theorizes that he does it just "to tick us off". In Blowhole Strikes Back, Kowalski responds by calling Blowhole a "dolph-er-in".