YMMV / Popeye

The cartoons

  • Adaptation Displacement: Of the comic strip, which continues to this day.
  • Archive Panic: 232 theatrical cartoons, an equally large number of made-for-tv cartoons, and decades worth of newspaper comics and comic books. Good luck.
  • Awesome Music: The basic theme music has been the same since the 1930's, and it's never lost its awesomeness.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: In "Morning, Noon and Night Club," Bluto is going around punching out Popeye's face in posters of him and Olive's nightclub routine. He does yet another one after Olive turns down his date offer — and as he walks away, a goat suddenly sticks its head out of the hole and bleats as Bluto tells it off. What a goat was doing behind that wall is never explained, and the goat never appears again in the short.
  • Bizarro Episode: Several.
    • The short It's the Natural Thing to Do, as well as the later Famous Studios short The Hungry Goat, which feels more like a Tex Avery cartoon with Popeye thrown in as an afterthought.
    • The short Wotta Nitemare, although the bulk of that short was one big Dream Sequence.
    • There's also "Popeye meets William Tell", which for no discernable reason decides to throw our hero into medieval europe and have him encounter William Tell. And it only gets stranger from there.
    • Similar applies to the episode "Popeye Meets Rip Van Winkle", "Sinbad The Sailor" and "Ali Baba's Forty Thieves".
    • "Be Kind to Aminals" would have been a standard Popeye outing, if not for the bizarre, one-time recasting of Popeye with his radio voice actor, Floyd Buckley, who sounds like an even older Popeye with a bad head cold.
  • Breakout Character: Popeye came out of nowhere as a oneshot character for an already long established newspaper comic, and wound up becoming so popular that he not only took over the strip as the main character (sidelining its original lead, Ham Gravy, who eventually vanished altogether) but became one of the most iconic comic and cartoon characters of all time. At his peak in the 30's, he was even more popular than Mickey Mouse, and he continued to remain that way in several countries.
  • Breakout Villain: Bluto was a minor oneshot villain in the original Segar comics, only appearing in a handful of 1932 strips, but the Fleischer cartoons turned him into the series leading antagonist, and made him as iconic as Popeye and Olive Oyl.
  • Broken Base: Some hate the 1960s shorts for relying on limited animation and not having the charisma of the Fleischer and Famous shorts, while others like it for being more faithful to the comic strip.
    • The Genndy Tartakovsky animation test for the aborted CGI movie received a positive reception from fans, but Popeye not having his pipe and tattoos really caused a stir.
    • The All New Popeye Hour is perhaps the most hated incarnation due to heavy Bowdlerization (see the main page for details), making Olive into a complete ditz and lacking the wit of the classic theatrical shorts.
  • Crazy Awesome: Popeye, given the sheer level of insanity of some of his feats.
  • Ear Worm:
    • "I'm Popeye the sailor man! *TOOT!*. Nearly a century young, it remains to be one of the most iconic songs ever composed. Everybody on earth, and we do mean everybody (that includes you), at least knows the first verse of the song.
    • The B&W cartoons are loaded with catchy songs; "We Aim To Please", "I Wanna Be A Lifeguard", "What Can I Do For You?", "The Man On the Flying Trapeze", among others.
    • "I'll do anything that you do", AKA "Whats Good For The Goose", the song number of the short "Axe Me Another".
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: In an early Segar Sunday strip, Popeye delivers a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to a nasty hot dog vendor who refused to give a dirt poor kid a hot dog on credit (and insulted Popeye to his face), tears down his shack in seconds, and gives the kid a bunch of free hotdogs. The lesson? It's okay to ruin a guy's business and steal from him because he was being a jerk.
    Popeye: "Can't ya give the boy a sandrich on credick! He's hungry on account of his dad bein' outta work."
    Vendor: "I will not! This is no charity institution. Now beat it, ya funny lookin gink, before I push your face."
    Popeye: "You can't insulk me! I'll take ya apart and yer shack too!" (slugs vendor and effortlessly demolishes the shack with his bare hands in seconds, leaving the vendor KOed under its wreckage.)
    Popeye: "I feels exter happy now on account of I done a good deed." (Popeye watches kid walk off with free hotdogs)
  • Fridge Horror: If you know a little about the chemistry of spinach. Spinach and its relatives are high in compounds called oxalates, which when ingested repeatedly over a long enough period of time, precipitate calcium from the blood to yield calcium oxalate, the main component of kidney stones. Ouch. Interestingly, the supposed reason for Popeye's super strength was the amount of iron in spinach. The oxalates would still negate this by binding to the iron to form iron(II) oxalate.
  • Foe Yay:
  • Franchise Original Sin: Zig zagged with the cliches of Popeye and Bluto's love triangle with Olive being a plot point, as well as Popeye eating his spinach as an 11th hour power up in the animated cartoons. Many fans consider them honored series traditions that make for a variety of funny situations and exciting climatic fights (and having shorts with variations on the formula certainly helped—as well as the fact that more than half of the Fleischer era Popeyes had episodes where either Bluto, the spinach, or sometimes both, were absent), while critics, particularly fans of the Segar comics (where the spinach and Bluto barely ever appeared), deride the former as tired and formulaic, and the latter as a predictable Deus ex Machina.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In one cartoon Bluto, in a rare moment of genre savvy-ness, destroys the world's spinach supply with an powerful herbicide made from DDT. What it's called in the cartoon, Drop Dead Twice, proved to be an appropriate name for the real DDT, at least with regards to birds.
  • Genius Bonus: From one of the later theatrical shorts, "Insect to Injury" (1956), one gag involves the termites eating Popeye's piano, revealing a harp hidden inside it. Music history fans will take note that the harp was in fact a direct precursor to the piano.
  • Growing the Beard: The theatrical cartoon series got off to a strong start, but the series really crystallized when Jack Mercer took over the role of Popeye from "King of the Mardi Gras" and onward.
    • For the Segar comics, Popeyes introduction was where Thimble Theatre truly found its footing, and in turn Its run with Popeye reached its creative peak with the critically acclaimed "Plunder Island" story arc.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In one cartoon (that will likely never be shown again) Popeye has a water pistol that he plans to give to Swee Pea that looks like a real gun (even he says so) and threatens Bluto with it as a joke. (Modern viewers probably know how unfunny such a joke is nowadays.) Even worse, two scenes later, Olive threatens Bluto with a real gun when he tries to hit on her, and a prophetic demonstration of why Popeye's joke wasn't funny, Bluto thinks she's pulling the same joke he did. (She isn't. Fortunately for him in this case, Cartoon Physics still apply.)
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Ink-Stain Adaptation: The animated cartoons, while beloved, get this reputation from some fans of the comics, due in part to being far more well known than the source material, in spite of being gag romps that don't have the comics story arcs or continuity, and for heavily downsizing the comics large cast in favor of the Popeye, Bluto and Olive triangle.
  • Memetic Badass: Popeye, of course! There's an image making the rounds on the Internet that describes many of the amazing feats of strength and intellect Popeye has achieved during his heyday, and several of them rival the feats of Greek Gods and even Asura. Some of the listed feats include:
    • Lifting the entire Earth, matching Atlas the titan.
    • Using a lassoo to pull the Grand Canyon together just so he could reach Bluto.
    • Punching Bluto so hard it distorts the flow of time and de-ages Bluto back into a baby.
    • Leaping to the clouds to punch out jet fighters with his bare hands.
    • Chewing up steel girders and spitting the metal fragments out as bullets, nails, and rivets.
    • Punching a mountain, utterly shattering it and reducing it into a hill, because it was obstructing his view.
    • Punching several wild animals, including alligators and leopards, so hard, they are reduced into fur coats and leather products instantly.
    • Built seven battleships from scratch in a matter of seconds.
    • Breaking the fourth wall. Once a boy in the audience threw some spinach to him through the screen. He promptly used his strength to hit Bluto so hard the poor man was sent through the Fourth Wall and landed in the audience.
  • Memetic Mutation: Everybody knows at least the first verse of Popeyes iconic theme song and its many parodies, even if they only have passing knowledge of the cartoons. Note that it was a meme well before the internet came about.
    • Popeye's love of spinach has also become a cliche that's ripe for parody and references.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The series is pretty light on the scary stuff, but there's some bits that can catch you off guard. The first appearance of a Goon in the Segar comics is legitimately scary looking, standing tall in a doorway with a pale, almost ghost like appearance, much to the shock of Popeye and co.
    • Sinbad's "Boo, and my enemies run!" close up from Popeye Meets Sindbad. It's downright gruesome!
    • "Wotta Nitemare" has some unsettling imagery too, especially the part where giant, laughing heads of Bluto and Olive pop up really close on the screen!
    • Popeye's own eponymous eye becomes a mild bit of this when you realize it's not for show or a stylized squint—he really did lose his eye, and according to the Segar comics, he deliberately allowed his opponent to gouge his eye out! The cartoons and later installments tend to overlook that, but "I Wanna Be a Lifeguard" has Popeye use his empty eye socket as a whistle, and it's as disturbing looking as it sounds.
    • In the wartime short "You're a Sap, Mr. Jap", one of the enemies Popeye fights, a japanese Naval Commander, commits suicide by downing gasoline and firecrackers in an attempt to take Popeye down with him. Popeye is visibly disturbed, and hightails it before the whole ship is blown to pieces.
    • Lost And Foundry is this for anyone familiar with how horribly a person can die in an industrial accident.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Some fans' reaction to the racist episode "Big Chief Ugh-Amugh." The Chief, though expressing his desire for a bride earlier through song, didn't actually say anything to Olive about it or make her stay. Instead, he gave her some gifts. She wanted to stay, and it was Popeye who appeared and started picking fights and insulting people.
  • The Scrappy: Popeye's four nephews, who are generally considered to be annoying and shrill, and don't have any real personality going for them other than being Popeye's bratty wards. Fortunately, their appearances are mostly exclusive to the Famous shorts (and still rather sporadic in that case) and a handful of the later Fleischer Popeyes.
    • Shorty, a botched attempt at a new buddy for Popeye in the early Famous shorts, is also disliked by fans, mainly due to him being an unlikable, annoying character and being a constant nuisance to Popeye due to his sheer incompetence. He only appeared in three shorts, and was mercifully abandoned afterwards.
  • Seasonal Rot: By the mid-1940s, the Famous Studios Popeye shorts became increasingly formulaic and stale, and the timing and animation took a hit in quality. By the 50's, the series went through such a clear budget crunch that they were forced to make an excessive amount of clip show episodes or remakes of older shorts. Roughly 17% of all Popeye theatrical cartoons from both Fleischer and Famous Studios were either remakes, semi-remakes or clip shows, that's roughly 38 cartoons in all! However roughly only 3% (4 total) of the Fleischer cartoons qualify, whereas a whopping 28% (roughly 34) qualify for Famous Studios.
  • So Bad, It's Good: The made for tv Al Brodax Popeye cartoons, which are usually regarded as being embarrassingly cheesy and cheap cartoons, even for the sixties. "Popeye and the Giant" particularly stands out, not only for its lousy animation and outrageous bloopers, but its incomprehensible story ideas and truly terrible film editing. One animator, Frank Gladstone, was even quoted saying he watched them to learn how not to make cartoons.
    "They stylized down the characters, which is ok—I actually used to watch the cartoons to figure out what not to do—how not to time, how not to handle the different levels of cels, don't cut that corner because it's gonna be too obvious, 'cause the corners they cut were unbelievable."
    • To give an idea of just how helter skelter the Al Brodax cartoons are, here's a rundown; the Paramount episodes are considered decent (considering they were done by the same staff who animated the Popeye cartoons for decades) despite the shoestring budgets, but the Jack Kinney episodes (such as the aforementioned "Popeye and the Giant") tend to be considered the absolute worst of the series. The Larry Harmon episodes are so cheap that they often have almost no animation at all. The two episodes with Ozzie Evans animating are considered the sloppiest—In one or another of the Popeyes he animated, you saw "speed lines" on stationary characters, scenes reversed left-to-right to change the direction, but forgetting it also reversed the lettering on the background, and Brutus's voice coming out of Popeye's mouth and vice versa! The Gene Deitch episodes are all over the place—for example, in "Sea No Evil", there's a blooper where Popeye is swimming to make a boat go faster, and the background isn't even moving!
  • Ugly Cute: Popeye in the later cartoons. His earthy appearance and personality never changed too drastically, but he became much more round looking and genial as time went on.
    • Popeye as an infant, of which we get a glimpse in Goonland.
  • Values Dissonance: Granted, Poopdeck Pappy's grouchy misogynism towards Olive Oyl in the original Segar comics was never portrayed in a positive light, but this aspect of his personality would never fly in a contemporary comic.
    • The short "I Yam What I Yam" portrays Native Americans in a very racist light. Popeye and Bluto are also frequently quite sexist in their treatment of Olive Oyl, who usually doesn't seem to mind.
    • The above-mentioned "You're A Sap, Mr. Jap". "Jap" itself is a horrible ethnic slur. Of course, ALL Wartime Cartoons back then had the Japanese portrayed that way.
    • Popeye's also beaten up Mexicans, Japanese, African natives, and the like — he's equal opportunity when it comes to brawling.
  • Values Resonance: Popeye's love of spinach and the way it gives him super strength to beat up baddies has been used by many a parent as a way to encourage children to eat their vegetables.
  • Willfully Weak: One theory suggests that Popeye doesn't even need spinach to use his full power, and only acts like he needs it to mess with people.
    • This would fit with Elzie Segar's original conception of Popeye as a near-indestructible sailor of immense strength long before spinach entered the plotline.
      • This seems to be all but confirmed for the Fleischer cartoons, where for example in "Can You. Take It" Popeye survives all of Blutos insane "initiation rituals" even being pressed into an iron maiden! And this is BEFORE he eats the spinach!

The movie

  • Broken Base: Popeye avoids eating spinach until he's force-fed with it and discovers it makes him super. MAD magazine's parody of the film lasted for just one page, with the cartoon Popeye putting it to a stop for sheer ridiculousness. Though Popeye's association with spinach is more due to the cartoons than the original comic strip where Popeye is super-strong and indestructible on his own.
  • Critical Research Failure: Many critics at the time lambasted this movie for being too cartoonish. Face Palm.
  • Cult Classic: It did well enough at the box office when it was released, but because it didn't live up to Paramount's hype and hopes of a world-beating blockbuster, it was mocked and forgotten for a while. Nowadays, it's seen as this. Different viewers like it for different reasons — either it's a Guilty Pleasure or a genuinely good movie on its own terms. If anything, it was ahead of its time in its faithful translation of the comics' world and characters to the big screen.
  • Ear Worm: "I Am What I Yam", anyone? Hint: It's basically Popeye meets Rap. Yeah.
    • A lot of the songs are like this. "Everything is food, food, food..."
  • Harsher in Hindsight: See Driven to Suicide — post-Robin Williams' self-inflicted death by hanging in 2014.
  • More Popular Spin-off: The Sweethaven set used in the film later became a popular Maltese tourist attraction called Popeye Village, which is still in business today.
  • Narm Charm: Popeye's singing and dancing probably couldn't be pulled off by anyone but Robin Williams without inducing frightening amounts of Narm.
  • Special Effects Failure: The octopus — the climax was shot late in production, by which time the whole movie had gone well over budget, and Paramount wasn't willing to lay out more money for more convincing practical effects work.
  • Type Casting:
    • Shelley Duvall is the only actress on Earth who could nail the role of Olive Oyl. One reviewer called her "eerily perfect". Robert Altman even told her it was the role she was born to play when he offered it to her.
    • As Ham Gravy, Bill Irwin's miming skills come in handy as he looks like he's actually getting cartoonishly pummeled by Bluto.
  • Uncanny Valley: Needless to say, Popeye's tumor arms do not transition well into live action.

The arcade game