Follow TV Tropes


Comic Strip / Popeye

Go To

I'm Popeye the Sailor Man! *TOOT!*
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man! *TOOT!*
I'm strong to the finich,
'Cause I eats me spinach,
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man!
*toot toot*
— Part of the iconic Popeye theme song.

The One Tough Gazooka. The Beater of Palookas Who Aren't On the Up and Square. The Pal of Those Who Keep Up Good Be-hav-or.

And above all, he eats his spinach!

Originally a minor character in Thimble Theater, a long-established newspaper comic strip drawn by Elzie Segar for King Features Syndicate, Popeye the Sailor quickly took over the series, edging out original protagonist Ham Gravy as the principal suitor of Olive Oyl and demoting her brother Castor Oyl to an increasingly minor role. He made his animation debut in a 1933 Betty Boop short produced by Fleischer Studios, and continued appearing in cartoons throughout the 1940s and 1950s, when Famous Studios produced the series, and even continued on into several made-for-tv cartoons. Despite his sailor moniker, Popeye rarely ventured out to sea, instead spending his days romancing Olive Oyl and competing with Bluto for her affections.

He starred in an impressive 232 note  theatrical cartoons during The Golden Age of Animation, lasting from 1933 to 1957, his most noteworthy short being the first of the three two-reeler, 20 minute long, full-color Technicolor specials: specifically, "Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor". This iconic short, being a precursor even to Disney's Snow White, was extremely popular and was even billed along with the feature of the theater, above the main feature of the theater that played it, or even billed as the main feature of the theater itself. While it failed to win an Oscar (losing to the now obscure Walt Disney Silly Symphonies short "The Country Cousin"), it still is seen as an influence to filmmakers like Ray Harryhausen, especially on his film The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.

Television syndication packages of Popeye cartoons tend toward a mixture of theatrical shorts and the 1960s shorts produced by Al Brodax. In the late 1970s, Hanna-Barbera produced a new series of Popeye cartoons for CBS. This was followed by Popeye and Son in 1987.

The Movie, released in 1980 and starring a young Robin Williams in one of his first film roles, is a Cult Classic. Sony Pictures Animation made a deal to develop an All-CGI Cartoon Popeye feature film, originally to be directed by animation legend Genndy Tartakovsky. But in March of 2015, Genndy left the project. In 2020 it was reported that Genndy has rejoined the film, which was now being set up by King Features without Sony's involvement. A complete animatic of the Sony project leaked in the summer of 2022.

Along with the above, Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges, a river rapids ride, opened with the Universal's Islands of Adventure park in 1999.

Popeye the Sailor is not directly connected to Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen note  , an American fast food chain specializing in fried chicken, though the restaurant did license him as a mascot up until 2006. In December 2018, a webseries featuring younger versions of Popeye, Olive Oyl and Bluto premiered on Youtube titled Popeye's Island Adventures. In January 2019, King Feature Syndicate launched a weekly webcomic named Popeye's Cartoon Club in order to celebrate the upcoming 90th anniversary of the character. Each installment featured a different artist. In 2020, months after the original run of Popeye's Cartoon Club had ended, the feature was relaunched as a daily strip with one of these creators, Something*Positive creator Randy Milholland, as writer and artist. Following the retirement of Hy Eisman, Randy took his place as writer and artist of the main Popeye Sunday strips.

Later Milholland and artist Emi Burdge were given the web-exclusive spin-off Olive & Popeye (Basically a continuation of Cartoon Club), where Olive and Popeye have their own canon-based adventures (mostly) separate from each other. Burdge draws the Olive-centered Tuesday strips, Milholland the Popeye-centered Thursday strips.

And also, whatever you do, don't confuse him with Popee.

For the filmography recap of the Fleischer and Famous Studios cartoons, see here.

Popeye cartoons with their own pages:

This series provides examples of:

  • Accidental Astronaut: In the short "Rocket to Mars", Popeye gets inside a rocket ship at a museum, and causes it to blast off to Mars where he must thwart a Martian invasion of Earth.
  • Action Girl: The unnamed Mae West boxer in "Never Kick A Woman." Not only is she beautiful and voluptuous, she's also taller than both Olive and Popeye, noticeably muscular and extremely good with her fists. She doesn't have much trouble making Olive look like chopped liver.
    • A spinach-charged Olive becomes an Action Girl herself after this new rival is about to steal Popeye away.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The Fleischer Popeyes played up Popeye's strength much more, gave him his Reality Warping powers, his love of spinach, and made Bluto and his rivalry with Popeye much more prominent.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In "Popeye Meets Sindbad the Sailor", Sindbad is the villain (portrayed by Bluto.)
  • An Aesop: The Aesop of the theatrical short "Be Kind To Animals" is... well, Exactly What It Says on the Tin. This lesson is repeated in the later short "Bulldozing The Bull".
    • Aesop Amnesia: In other episodes however, Popeye is perfectly willing to punch animals and transform them into meat stands, fur coats or purses.
      • Early-Installment Weirdness / Characterization Marches On: most of those examples come from earlier Popeye cartoons.
      • Generally it seems to be casual meaningless animal cruelty that he objects too. An animal that attacks him of its own free will is going to get the same treatment as anything else, but one being forced to attack him like in a bull in a bullfight is going to get softer treatment.
    • Kindness to animals but with a slightly different take is also the theme of "Leave Well Enough Alone", where Popeye buys all the puppies in Olive's pet shop because he can't stand to see them caged. He later finds them scavenging for food and threatened by a dogcatcher until he pays for all their licenses and ends up returning them to the shop.
    • "Sneaking Peeking" retells the story of Pandora's Box to keep Swee'Pea from trying to sneak a look at his birthday presents.
    • And of course, the prevailing Aesop franchise wide is the importance of eating healthy if you wanna become stronger, what with spinach being Popeye's Power-Up Food. Can verge a bit on Space Whale Aesop at times, of course.
  • Affectionate Parody:
  • All for Nothing: This tends to be a frequent twist in the theatrical cartoons:
    • "Clean Shaven Man" — Popeye and Bluto overhear Olive singing that she prefers a man who is nicely groomed, and go to the barbershop to fix themselves up. But with the barber out, they end up doing it themselves, but Bluto cheats, and sabotages Popeye's chances. After the inevitable fight, they find Olive is now going out with Geezil (a recurring character from the comics with a long, black beard). Remade years later as "Shaving Muggs."
    • "Females is Fickle" — Olive's pet goldfish jumps in the sea, and she makes Popeye go in after him. After he goes through a lot of trouble to get him back, Olive decides the fish would be happier freed and tosses him back in the sea. Outraged about how his pursuit turned out to be for nothing, Popeye then decides to give Olive her comeuppance in form of tying her up by wrapping her in ropes and tossing her over the side of the ship (but with a lifesaver on) into the water. After being tossed in a water tied up and making a huge splash, Olive starts struggling to keep herself afloat and distressingly pleads for Popeye to take the ropes off her, but Popeye completely ignores Olive's pleas to rescue her from drowning as he already returned to do his chores and sing happily.
    Olive: (after seeing that her fish pet is crying in it's aquarium) Oh, the poor little fish. Cooped up in that small bowl. I'm gonna set him free. (Olive then releases her pet fish back into the ocean)
    Popeye: (shocked and outraged) What? What? (angry) Hey. Oh, well, blow me down. (Popeye ties up Olive by wrapping her up in ropes from top of her shoulders to the bottom part of her skirt) Can you beat that?
    Olive: (yells in disbelief and panic after she is tied up with rope with a lifesaver on top of the rope)
    Popeye: (grabs and pulls Olive up while she struggles to move with rope tied up around her body and twirling around her legs, then tosses Olive from the ship into the water, Olive makes a huge splash that gets her all wet after being tossed into water while tied up with rope and having a lifesaver around her shoulders, Popeye then returns to do his chores, feeling satisfied about Olive's comeuppance)
    Olive: (starts drowning and struggles to keep herself afloat while distressingly pleading for Popeye to take the ropes off her and rescue her from drowning) Popeye, I wanna take the ropes off.
    Popeye: (ignores Olive's pleas to rescue her from drowning while happily singing and doing his chores) You can bet your last nickel that women is fickle. Says Popeye the sailorman (Popeye then whistles with his pipe).
    • "Puttin on the Act" — Popeye and Olive read in the paper that vaudeville is making a comeback, so they decide to bring back their old act, and the rest of the cartoon is about their rehearsal. At the end, after the two perform a very dangerous act, Swee'pea notices something on their newspaper and shows it to them. The paper was dated for 1898!
    • "Olive's Sweepstakes Ticket" — Olive wins first prize in a sweepstakes, but unfortunately misplaced her ticket. Thinking it might be worth millions, Popeye helps her turn her house upside down until they eventually find it, only for it blow out the window, forcing Popeye to go through all manner of hijinks chasing it across the city before finally getting back after a Bar Brawl. When Olive turns the ticket in to claim her prize, it turns out to be...a silly looking bird.
    Popeye: (Tearing his hair out) Olive, someday you're going to give me apoplexy!
    • "I'll Never Crow Again" — Olive calls Popeye to help rid her garden of a murder of crows, and he ends up completely humiliating himself every step of the way, with Olive even laughing at him! Popeye finally has enough and decides to tie Olive up like a scarecrow; which surprisingly enough works in the end!
  • All Just a Dream: A handful of shorts end up being a dream or Imagine Spot, such as "Olive Oyl For President" and "Never Sock A Baby".
  • Ambiguous Gender: So, is the Goon male or female? The original comics actually suggested female, but later strips implied male, possibly due to the lack of torso coverage in the character.
    • Elzie Segar named the original Goon "Alice". She worked for the Sea Hag under duress.
    • Both male and female Goons have been seen over the years, especially on Goon Island. Maybe the two sexes prefer to dwell apart.
  • Amusing Injuries: Notably, the injured are almost always humans who get beaten up in relatively realistic ways, even accounting for the usual comedic flattening. When talking about cartoon violence on the audio commentary track of the Futurama episode "A Tale of Two Santas", Matt Groening said, "But Popeye kills people."
  • And I Must Scream: The fate of Bluto at the end of "We Aim To Please", when Popeye transforms him into "A Lot of Bologna."
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: In the 1970s Hanna-Barbera series.
  • Animated Adaptation
  • April Fools' Plot: The 1955 short, Cookin' with Gags focuses on Bluto playing pranks on Popeye during April 1.
  • Arc Welding: While Randy Milholland wasn't able to include Popeye's nephews (as Popeye is an only child) or Popeye Jr. (as he despises the very notion of the character) in his run on the Popeye Sunday strips, he was able to include Olive Oyl's niece Deezil Oyl, by also reintroducing an obscure character from the 20's, Olive's sister-in-law Cylinda Oyl, now depicted as Deezil's mother.
  • Art Evolution: After the transition from Fleischer to Famous Studios, the style of the shorts altered accordingly. The animation and characters were more solid and conventional, lacking most of Fleischer's usual deranged stylisation. The designs also shortly became more conventional and "cute", the characters gained scleras and Olive looked more feminine for example.
    • Even within the comic itself, Popeye looked very different in his first appearance. His body was more realistically proportioned, his forearms were not as prominent, his chin was smaller, and his nose was bigger. He arguably looked even uglier than he eventually became.
    • Bluto's design also changed throughout the theatrical cartoons, starting more of a mix of fat and muscular, before looking more rotund at the Start of 1942 to becoming more muscular near the end of the year onward.
    • Toyed with in a short on YouTube called "Realistic Popeye," in which Popeye eats some tainted spinach. It has a Brodax-era Popeye, Olive from the Fleischer shorts, and Bluto from the 1978 Hanna-Barbera series.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: It's how we're first introduced to Popeye.
    Castor Oyl: Hey there! Are you a sailor?
  • Ass Kicks You: Popeye does this as an attack on the Hypnotist in "The Hyp-Nut-Tist", and also uses this in the climax of "You Gotta Be A Football Hero".
  • Asteroids Monster: Sock-a-bye Baby sees Popeye punch out a cellist who was playing his instrument, only for the cello to start playing itself. He then punches the cello, only for it to split into 4 violins. He then decides to just scare the violins into their cello case.
  • Badass Boast: The extended theme song includes this gem:
    If anyone dares to risk me fisk,
    It's boff and it's wham, understan'?
    So keep good behavior
    That's your one lifesaver
    With Popeye the Sailor Man.
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: Tends to happen whenever Sweet Pea is involved.
    • When Popeye babysits Olive's niece Diesel Oyl in "Popeye's Junior Headache", she takes his spinach and Olive clobbers an unconscious Popeye for making fun of her new hairstyle.
  • Ball-Balancing Seal: One Popeye short involves Popeye and Bluto trying to win over Olive Oyl's affection (as per usual) while at a zoo, which culminates in Bluto dropping Popeye into a seal enclosure where Popeye is mistaken as a ball by two seals and gets bounced around until he eats his spinach.
  • Beam-O-War: Done with water from fire hoses in "The Two-Alarm Fire".
  • Beast in the Building: In "Her Honor the Mare", Popeye's nephews find an old horse and sneak it into the house as a pet, trying to hide it from their uncle.
    • The Hanna-Barbera short "A Seal with Appeal" is similar, but the boys try to hide a seal from their Uncle Popeye.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: "Bulldozing the Bull" has Popeye in the ring with the bull. Throughout the whole cartoon Popeye protests that bullfighting is "inhumink to dumb anamals" and while he'll down his spinach to defend himself from an irate bull, he breaks a sword over his knee rather than deliver a killing blow, ultimately winning the bull's friendship.
  • Big Eater: Wimpy, who loves hamburgers so much that he is often just incidental to the plot at hand, and only wants to eat.
    • Popeye has his moments when a lot of spinach is involved. He once cleaned out several barrels full in one sitting, resulting in a Balloon Belly.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Dinky Dog, from The All-New Popeye Hour.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Except in the late Fleischer shorts, most of the Famous Studios shorts and all of the Al Brodax TV shorts (some characters like Swee'Pea, Wimpy and King Blozo kept them though).
  • Book Ends: The first scene "Popeye the Sailor" is Popeye on a ship singing his theme song. The last scene in "Spooky Swabs" is Popeye on a ship singing his theme song.
  • Born in the Theatre: Happens quite a few times.
    • The 1938 Fleischer cartoon short "Goonland" ends with Popeye and his long-lost father fighting the Goons together. As they fight their way down a mountain, the image suddenly shrinks, becoming much smaller in the center of the screen. It's eventually revealed to be a film strip—which cracks in half. After a live-action hand enters the camera frame and tapes up the film strip, the cartoon ends with Popeye and his dad making their escape.
    • One short has Popeye attempt to pull out a can of spinach, only to find that he misplaced it. He asks "Is there any spinach in the house?" and an audience member throws a can his way.
  • Bottled Heroic Resolve: The infamous can of spinach.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Bluto's six shooter in "Blow Me Down!" is capable of firing lots of bullets without reloading.
  • Bowdlerization:
    • The All New Popeye Hour took this to the extreme. Specifically, Popeye wasn't allowed to hit anybody (even Bluto). Instead, he would often save the day by simply bashing inanimate objects into villains. Blame network standards of the day, which specifically forbade any sort of violence that a kid could realistically imitate. Punching or hitting with objects a child could lift were no-nos. Lifting impossibly large objects in a fantastical situation, or throwing a person miles away could be shown.
      • One episode ("Popeye's High School Daze") seems to find a way around this: Popeye uses his twister punch on a motorcycle-riding Bluto (who's barreling at high speed toward Popeye). A fight cloud breaks out just as we see the punch connect; when the cloud clears, Bluto's sobbing like a little kid, as his motorcycle's been reduced to a tricycle.
      • A "Popeye's Treasure Hunt" episode ("Popeye at the Center of the Earth") shows Popeye punching several giant scorpions, to form a ladder in a cliff for himself and Olive to climb.
    • Likewise, Popeye's Island Adventures dispenses with any and all physical violence. Popeye's famous spinach gives him random abilities besides super strength, such as flying with his ears in the first short.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • In "How Green Is My Spinach", a young boy, saddened that his hero is completely helpless and getting mercilessly hammered by Bluto, reaches into his bag of groceries (the kid was on a Saturday shopping errand by his mom, no doubt!), shouts "Here, Uncle Popeye!!!", and tosses a good can of spinach to him, who downs it, and not only gives Bluto a well-needed thrashing that he deserved, but makes the jerk replant ALL of the spinach that he destroyed earlier!
    • "I Yam Love Sick": After Popeye collapses pretending to be ill, Olive panics and reaches out to the corners of the screen, addressing directly to the audience: "Is there a doctor in the house?!?"
    • "Me Feelins Is Hurt": Popeye gets a "Dear John" Letter from Olive Oil. After quickly reading it Popeye says "Cast your weather eye on this!", and holds the letter out to the camera for the audience to read.
    • "Fowl Play": Shortly after Popeye eats his spinach, he punches Bluto right out of his outlines several times.
  • Breakout Character: Popeye himself was supposed to be a generic sailor that Olive's boyfriend, Ham Gravy, and her brother, Castor Oyl, would hire to "drive" them via boat from their home in Sweethaven to the island casino, and back, once they made a fortune with Wiffle Hen, and never seen again. Instead, Popeye became the star of the strip, got the strip named after him, and stole Ham's girlfriend, Olive Oyl. Though to be fair, Popeye was always faithful to Olive, while Ham only dated her because she was wealthy, or at least well off, and would often dump her for someone who was wealthier, and would get back together with Olive after he went crawling back to her, once the other woman wised up to his act and dumped him.
  • Bullet Seed: A favorite technique of Popeye's.
  • The Bus Came Back: Olive's ex-boyfriend, Ham Gravy, returned during Bobby London's run in the 1980s. His long absence is lampshaded during the storyline, with Olive saying that the last time she saw him was nine presidents ago. Ham returns again in a 2023 story arc. Still sore over Olive leaving him for Popeye, and vowing to win her back by trying to take on Popeye's enemies. It doesn't go over well...
  • Canon Immigrant: A strange example - Bluto was created in 1932 for a particular story in the comic strip, but quickly started to appear in the cartoons. So quickly, in fact, that the comic strip owners later forgot they had created him, and briefly replaced him with Brutus to hedge their bets. Later writers have depicted Bluto and Brutus as brothers... but not before the completely bonkers storyline in which Bluto returns to discover a ton of bearded bullies who'd taken his place over the years.
    • Randy Milholland has introduced some characters from the 60's cartoon - Deezil Oyl, Sylvan Oyl, and even Gene Deitch's version of the Goons.
  • Canon Welding: Randy Milholland has introduced multiple characters from other King Features comics - Little Iodine (now a friend of Deezil's), Bunky the baby, and, in flashbacks, the Katzenjammer Kids. He's also depicted Krazy Kat and King's superhero comics - Flash Gordon, The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician - as fiction within the setting.
  • Captain Ersatz: Superman fought (and befriended) a sailor named Captain Strong who resembled a realistic-looking Popeye and became super-strong from eating shaunta, an alien seaweed. Just to confirm the homage, he was revealed to have a girlfriend, Olivia, who resembled Olive.
    • In the story's sequel, Captain Strong, his girlfriend and a glutton friend (a Wimpy lookalike) invite Clark Kent and Lois Lane to a boat trip. When a disaster forces Clark to dive and use his powers to save the day, he quickly wraps canned spinach around himself and claims he got superpowers after he accidentally swallowed it, making Captain Strong believe it was the same seaweed that gave him powers in the previous story (and thus, explaining how mild-mannered Clark Kent could emulate Superman)
    • Unfortunately (for Clark Kent) some weird natural disasters kept attacking their boat and Captain Strong (truly believing he had a new cache of "Alien Seaweed") insisted on dealing with them all by himself in a completely over the top fashion (like for example, rowing a boat through the air) much like in Popeye's classic shorts. Of course, Clark Kent was secretly behind all of Strong's awesome feats but let the captain be the hero, thus keeping the seaweed charade intact. The story is way, way better (and funnier) than how it sounds. Captain Strong would later reappear in the pages of Harley Quinn.
    • Similarly, one of the early Popeye cartoons had Bluto disguising himself as Superman to try to woo Olive. (And since Popeye was a Fleischer cartoon, that episode borrowed the theme music from the Fleischer Superman cartoons of the era.)
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Hoo boy...first, we have a one eyed, balding, big chinned toothless sailor with bulging arms, super strength and reality warping powers, who is ignorant but noble and is a force of good who eats terrible tasting spinach to aid himself, his girlfriend is a walking pipe-cleaner who is very fickle and as a result keeps switching between Popeye and Bluto, depending on who has the advantage of the other, Bluto, a hulking bully we've all known and met in life, and Wimpy, an intelligent but extremely manipulative glutton who would sell out his friends for a hamburger (which he will surely not pay back on Tuesday) and has a obsession with burgers in general. Elzie Segar, the creator of Thimble Theater, invented dozens if not hundreds of unique characters. Even the "bit players" have unique appearances and personalities.
  • Cereal-Induced Superpowers: In this infamous Quaker Oats commercial, Popeye chose oatmeal over spinach for super strength. The ad was quickly pulled when people (especially the nonviolent Quakers) complained.
    • In the mid-1930s radio series, it was Wheatena.
    • In one of the early strips, he has a temporary dearth of spinach so he temporarily partially replaces his strength boost with milk.
    • On the other hand, Popeye has been credited for saving the spinach industry in the 1930's by convincing more kids to eat it, invoking this trope without it being an official advertisement.
      • Crystal City, Texas, an agricultural town that was based around spinach growing, actually erected a statue of Popeye in the town square.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: In what is sure to surprise many people, Thimble Theater went from gag strip parodying vaudeville and overwrought film serials, to an adventure/comedy strip in the tradition of Roy Crane's Wash Tubbs, and was quite popular. Created in 1919, it had been running (mostly in Hearst papers) for ten years when Popeye showed up. His appearance only served to make it more successful.
  • Character Catchphrase
    • Popeye: The theme song above, as well as "Blow me down!" and "I yam what I yam!"
    • Olive Oyl: "Ohhhh deaaaar!"
      • Not to mention: "HEEEEEEEEELP!!!", "Unhand me, you brute!" (with variations), Don't you dare 'reproach' me!", "Oh, Popeye!", etc.
    • Wimpy: "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today," and (particularly in the comics) "I would gladly mow your lawn for you, if you had a lawn to mow!"
      • In one strip, Popeye was so frustrated with Wimpy that he bought a vacant lot just to force Wimpy to mow its grass.
      • "I want you to come up to the house for a duck dinner. You bring the ducks." This is made fun of by Popeye in the Plunder Island storyline in the comics when Wimpy tries to cut Popeye's head off (long story) and complains when he ducks. Popeye replies, "Yeah, I'll furnish the ducks."
      • In one strip he actually has duck and the punch line is, "You bring the tartar sauce."
      • "Let's You and Him Fight."
  • Chariot Pulled by Cats: In the short "Seasin's Greetinks", Bluto is introduced being drawn on a sled driven by a small dog.
  • Chaste Toons: Swee'Pea, who just appeared on a doorstep one day, and Pipeye, Peepeye, Pupeye and Poopeye, Popeye's quadruplet nephews, who dressed just like him and got into various misadventures alongside him.
    • It's not like Popeye had a choice. Just look at his girlfriend; Olive Oyl would have exploded if she tried to make a baby!
    • Olive Oyl was once shown with twin sons she'd had with Popeye, who were indistinguishable from Pipeye/Peepeye/Poopeye — but this was in a Dream Sequence. And her sons in the dream were so obnoxious that after she woke up she never wanted to see Popeye again.
    • "There's no ifs, ands or maybes, I'll never have babies, I'm Popeye the Sailor Man!"
    • Averted in Popeye & Son.
  • Cheer Up Episode: In "I Likes Babies and Infinks", Popeye and Bluto compete over who can make a crying Swee'Pea laugh. Naturally, they end up brawling, and Popeye reaches for his spinach, but he opens a can of onions by mistake. The fumes give him, Bluto and Olive Onion Tears, and it's the sight of all three crying like babies that makes Swee'Pea laugh.
  • Christmas Episode: The theatrical short Seasin's Greetinks and Spinach Greetings from the 1960 TV series. Both were made by the same studio even!
    • "Mister and Mistletoe", 1955 theatrical short in which Bluto dresses up as Santa and climbs down the chimney, as a means of getting rid of Popeye and kissing Olive.
  • Chubby Chaser: Bluto in "Weight for Me", although you'd never think the trope could apply to Olive, of all people (she gained weight while the boys were at sea). The short contains some pretty massive Values Dissonance, too, as the heroic Popeye tries to make Olive thin down before he can be attracted to her, and Bluto is completely accepting of it. However, she looks like she was morbidely obese so Popeye might have been concerned for her health rather than her looks.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The entire Oyl family other than Olive (Castor, Cole and Nana), Ham Gravy, and all the rest of the original main characters from Thimble Theater, save Olive Oyl and Wimpy, became markedly less important when the comic strip was retooled around Popeye. Ham Gravy in particular disappeared for decades.
  • Clip Show: At least 14 shorts consisted of stock footage from from previous shorts, with a framing device always wrapped around them. The Fleischers only made 4 clip show episodes, but Famous produced 10.
  • Cock Fight: Whenever Olive Oyl shows up, Bluto and Popeye immediately start a competition to win her affections. (Unless they've had Minute Maid Orange Juice.)
  • Comedic Hero
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: From 1948 to 1984 there was a comic book being published from many different publishers (Dell, Fawcett, Charlton, etc.). A new series began in 2012 through IDW.
  • Confronting Your Imposter: The premise of "Hello, How Am I?". Popeye goes over to Olive's house for a hamburger dinner, only to seemingly meet another Popeye on his way to do the same exact thing. The viewers are quickly aware that the fake Popeye is actually, no, not Bluto, but Wimpy Wait, what?!  but Popeye is not, leading to him getting very confused until he decides he's had enough and teaches Wimpy a lesson. (Making this short one of the few (if not the only) times where Wimpy was on the receiving end of one of Popeye's beat-downs.)
  • Confucian Confusion: "Bride and Gloom" uses this as its punchline.
    Popeye: Good morning, sweetheart! Your lover boy is ready to get marriaged!
    Olive Oyl: Popeye, I ain't gonna marry you! [clobbers Popeye with a chest of drawers]
    Popeye: Confucius say, "Female, she is fickle!"
  • Conspicuously Light Patch: The original black and white shorts weren't too bad about this, but the recolored versions from the 80's suffer terribly from it.
  • Construction Zone Calamity: The short "A Dream Walking" has Olive Oyl sleepwalk into a construction site, as Popeye and Bluto try to stop her from killing herself.
    • A Recycled Script short "Nix on Hypnotricks" has Olive wander into a construction site after being hypnotized.
    • And in "Mess Production" she does the same thing in a boiler factory.
    • In "Child Shockology", Popeye and Bluto chase an escaped Sweet Pea, who wanders into a construction site.
  • Cool Ship: Popeye's flying gunboat from "Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves."
  • Couldn't Find a Lighter: Popeye used a hot plate to light his pipe once.
  • Crossover: Since Randy Milholland took over the comic, he will sometimes work in characters from other comic strips that Popeye's previous artist, Hy Eisman, had worked on, such as Little Iodine or Hans and Fritz.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Even though Fleischer-era Bluto might not be the brightest bulb in the bunch, it takes a certain degree of gutsy cleverness for Famous Studios-era Bluto to concoct numerous schemes to get rid of Popeye throughout the years.
    • Even Wimpy manages to take advantage of Popeye and Bluto fighting over customers in "Customers Wanted" and its remake "Penny Antics", where he promotes the fight of the century between Popeye and Bluto, gets plenty of food for nothing as a result of a diner brawl in "Spree Lunch", and even plants a fake pearl in an oyster at Roughhouse's diner in "Wimpy the Moocher".
  • Crushing Handshake: Bluto/Brutus does this to Popeye in several cartoons, followed by a shot of Popeye's red, crushed hand and a "wrumph-wrumph" sound effect.
  • Cuckoo Clock Gag: In How Green is My Spinach, the opening montage of Popeye beating Bluto with his spinach includes a scene of him punching Bluto into a wall and making a cuckoo clock fall on his head. The doors open to reveal his face, and his tongue pokes out to reveal the bird.
  • Damsel Fight-and-Flight Response: When Olive Oyl is held captive by a gang of cowboys, she manages to hit the leader on the head... and then keeps hitting him while hysterically crying for Popeye. When Popeye finishes beating up the rest of the gang and comes for her, he has to tell Olive to calm down or she'll end up killing the boss.
  • Dark Horse Victory: The ending of "A Clean Shaven Man"note , where Popeye defeats Bluto and goes off to Olive shaved—only for both him and Bluto to find she's already gone off with another man (who, unlike them, is very hairy) prompting Popeye and Bluto to deliver a butt-kick to each other.
  • Davy Jones: Davy Jones appears in the 1941 storyline "Davy Jones and the Sea Goon". Initially presented as an evil entity even that King Neptune fears, he turns out to be pretty friendly. He's a sea spirit who looks like an old pirate wearing a Phrygian cap and who inhabits the ocean floor, living in his locker located in a wreck.
  • The Day the Music Lied: In "Cookin' with Gags", after getting fed up with Bluto's pranks, Popeye takes out his can of spinach and starts squeezing it to the usual Theme Music Power-Up... which shifts into a sting when it turns out to be variant of a snake nut can.
  • Deadpan Door Shut: In "Shiver Me Timbers!", Olive and Wimpy are looking for Popeye aboard a ghost ship. Wimpy looks behind a door and is promptly spooked by two ghosts within, then closes the door and says "There is nothing in there!".
  • Deadpan Snarker: In the 1930s shorts, this was Popeye to a tee. It mostly came about due to iconic Popeye voice actor Jack Mercer having to ad-lib many quips after the animation was done.
  • Deranged Animation: "Wotta Nite-Mare", which almost feels like a throwback to the earliest Fleischer cartoons like "Swing You Sinners" in terms of content.
  • Did Not Think This Through: In one storyline in the comic strip, the Sea Hag creates a trap for Popeye, a crying robot girl that will plead for Popeye to kiss it (she explains that a sailor can't turn down the request of a tearful woman), and the moment he kisses the robot, it'll explode, killing him. She fails to remember one important detail: Olive would never in a million years, allow for Popeye to even look at another women, let alone kiss her.
  • Did You Die?: One old cartoon features Popeye telling his nephews about one of his adventures. At one point they ask, "Did you get killed?"
  • Digital Destruction: The Warner Bros. releases of the Black-and-White Fleischer and Famous Studios cartoons almost avert this. For the most part the cartoons have been restored beautifully and are very clean with no real DVNR damage to speak of; however, damage does still show up in some cartoons, minor line thinning and erasing, though you'd have to purposely look for it to really notice. Volume 2 plays this a bit straighter as they goofed in recreating a couple of title cards and some shorts suffered digital interlacing, though this has been rectified by a DVD replacement program. The Color Specials are somewhat straighter examples, but not by much:
    • Popeye Meets Sindbad is a beautiful restoration, save for some unusual color alterations that turn up the pink, blue and turquoise, for example Sindbad's outfit was originally purple, here it's bright blue.
    • Ali Baba for the most part averts this with the colors much truer to the original 1937 colors, save for an odd glitch in the cave scenes, where the purple is turned up considerably. John K. makes note of this on his blog.
    • Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp narrowly averts this. The print is an excellent restoration with no noticeable damage or DVNR, though it seems a lot of the colors have been turned up in this release.
  • Disco Sucks: In the "Spinach Fever" episode, Popeye and Olive win a dance contest at a disco over Bluto (the disco's "star" dancer), only their prize is a year's membership there. They both swear off disco after that.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: "Sock-A-Bye Baby" has Popeye beating up people, demolishing a building under construction, smashing cars and sinking a cruise liner, all because they're making noise and he's afraid they'll wake a baby he's taking care of (which happens anyway, courtesy of a tiny pin hitting the ground).
  • Double Subversion: In "Happy Birthdaze", an iron is hovering in midar above Popeye's head, looking like it's about to come down and conk him. Olive grabs the iron before this happen... and then conks Popeye on the head with it.
  • Doorstop Baby: Swee'Pea joins the cast in this manner.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: One of the most common running gags in the pre-Popeye years was Olive punching a guy in the face, usually Hamgravy.
  • Dumb Muscle: 1930's Bluto and Brutus tend to have more brawns than brain, even though it takes a certain amount of shrewdness to come up with a plan to get rid of Popeye, many of which ultimately unravel.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In an abnormally intense example, Thimble Theatre, by the time of Popeye's introduction early in 1929, was a well-established (if only minorly successful) comic over nine years into its run. Note that, due to the length of its run pre-Popeye, the strip had endured several stages of stylistic change during this period:
    • The earliest strips, owing to the comic's original provenance as a replacement for the now-obscure strip Midget Movies, were chiefly parodies of scenarios and character archetypes from then-contemporary stage melodramas and silent cinema. The strip's two protagonists, Harold Hamgravy and Olive Oyl (yes, that one) were largely amorphous "actors" whose identities, characterization and (sporadically) ages could change drastically dependent on the satirized idioms containing them, with the supporting cast largely a revolving door of one-shot figures (save for "Willie Wormwood", a mustachoied, top-hatted parody of silent melodrama villainy initially acting as Hamgravy's primary antagonist for Olive's affections).
    • Within months of the strip's foundation, Segar relinquished the strip's reliance on silent film satire, thus eliminating Wormwood. Resultantly, Hamgravy (now simply "Ham Gravy") and Olive became the consistently-characterized protagonists of a highly episodic gag-a-day strip focalizing their daily life and dysfunctional relationship, with Ham a lethargic, self-centered slacker with a Gag Nose and Olive his neurotic-but-headstrong longtime girlfriend (whom Ham often derided for her Lethal Chef tendencies and large feet). The strip's secondary cast was virtually nonexistent, however, save for Olive's brother Castor Oyl, a CloudCuckoolander allegedly suffering from a form of "insanity".
    • Beginning with a six-month storyline (interspersed by a month of more episodic strips) starting in July 1922, Segar increasingly revamped the strip further into a comedy-adventure style focalizing Ham, Olive and Castor's typically poorly-conceived moneymaking ventures. By the end of 1923, the strip had become almost entirely serialized, while Castor, formerly a minor comic relief character, had evolved more into a scoundrel-type everyman prone to wild flights of fancy and short-sighted scheming. Owing to this more flexible characterization, Castor increasingly evolved into the strip's main character, leaving Ham Gravy more of a deutertagonist or foil to Castor by 1925.
    • In April 1926, Segar finally eliminated the gag-a-day format from the daily strip altogether (the Sunday strip, which had begun in 1925, mostly remained episodic) and penned a lengthy sequence in which Castor met (and eventually married) Cylinda, a stunning young woman eventually revealed to be the daughter of the spiteful, misanthropic billionaire I. Canniford Lotts, who immediately disapproved of Castor's working-class background and attempted to break the marriage apart. Over the following two years, the strip would increasingly center on Castor's attempts to support himself and Cylinda via a series of unsuccessful careers and moneymaking ventures while repelling Lotts' frequent attempts to deride Castor and bankrupt the couple. Ham Gravy and Olive Oyl, meanwhile, were increasingly Demoted to Extra, finally disappearing entirely by the end of 1927.
    • Upon Cylinda abruptly abandoning (albeit not officially divorcing) Castor for a film career in June 1928, however, Castor reunited with Ham and Olive, re-installing the strip's mid-1920s format (albeit with lengthier and more ambitious storylines, most notably the "Great American Desert Saga", which ran in the Sunday strip for a full two years from 1928 to 1930). This period would prove short-lived, however, after its second daily storyline introduced a certain gnarled, malapropism-spouting sailor who would rapidly gain popularity among Segar's readership, and thus become a major character, by the end of 1929. The Sunday continuity, comparatively, would not exit its "pre-Popeye" incarnation until March 1930, when Castor and Ham returned to the Oyl household at the conclusion of the "Desert Saga" and discovered Olive to have entered a romantic relationship with Popeye, heralding Ham's disappearance only weeks later.
    • Popeye was a much rougher personality in his early appearances (both in the comics and in the theatrical shorts), and he had a remarkably different appearance. Also, he gained his powers not from eating spinach (a trait first mentioned in June 1931), but from rubbing the head of a magical whiffle hen—he almost died of gunshot wounds in his first battle, until the Hen rejuvenated him. The comics also lacked the visual metaphors and reality warping powers that would become hallmarks of the Popeye cartoons. And Bluto, his infamous nemesis, only appeared once in the original Segar comics (specifically in the 1932 Eighth Sea arc) and didn't become a mainstay of the comics until later on.
    • The early Popeye shorts have a lot of the same Surreal Humor as the other Fleischer cartoons, including Funny Animals and Animate Inanimate Objects. After a couple of years, the weirder elements were toned down and the humor became more grounded.
    • Some of the Popeye shorts didn't really have a lot of dialogue. In his debut short, Popeye only sang his theme song and said his catchphrase, "Well, blow me down!". It wasn't until "Blow Me Down!" that we got the trademark ad-libbed mumblings from the characters.
    • The first two shorts did not use the sailor's iconic theme for the intro, but rather a redone version of the 1900 song "Strike Up the Band (Here Comes a Sailor)".
    • "I Eats My Spinach" is the only Popeye cartoon to be proceeded by the logo of the National Recovery Administration (NRA).
    • The first seven cartoons ("Popeye the Sailor" to "Let's You and Him Fight") use the ending logo of the Out of the Inkwell and Betty Boop cartoons (which makes sense since Popeye started out in a Betty Boop cartoon).
  • Either/Or Title: One cartoon from the Al Brodax era is titled "Voice from the Deep" or "See Here Sea Hag".
  • Elephants Never Forget: In the early cartoon "Wild Elefinks", Popeye punches an attacking elephant. The elephant chases Popeye for the rest of the cartoon, occasionally stopping to flash back to the injury via thought bubble.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Bluto/Brutus in a couple of instances:
    • In "Seein' Red, White 'an Blue," Bluto fakes an injury to keep from being conscripted into the Navy. But when he sees Japanese saboteurs beating Popeye up, he gets mad ("Dey can't do dat to da Navy!"). After a can of spinach between them, Popeye and Bluto clean house with the saboteurs and Bluto signs up.
    • A Brodax short had aliens interrupting Olive's masquerade party with the beings knocking out both Brutus and Popeye. Brutus administers Popeye's spinach to him and Popeye sets things right again.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • At the height of his popularity, Popeye developed a strong following among children. King Features Syndicate, as a result, forced the character to be a better role model for kids. Poopdeck Pappy was soon created as an outlet for some of Popeye's old vices.
    • The All New Popeye Hour by Hanna-Barbera fell victim to this as the show was under the strict FCC guidelines of the time. Popeye and Bluto could no longer punch each other in the face, nor could they fight over Olive, and Popeye had to provide some sort of lesson in each episode, usually either health or safety tips.
  • Expy: Brutus replacing Bluto (or Sindbad or whoever).
  • Extra-Long Episode: The three Arabian Nights-style cartoons were all about 20 minutes long, three times the length of a regular Popeye cartoon.
  • Extreme Omni-Goat: Billy the Kid, the eponymous goat from "The Hungry Goat"; an oddly Tex Avery-esque character who ended up eating the entire ship Popeye was on. A Bizarro Episode if there ever was one, since the character seemed as if it had stepped into the wrong cartoon series.
  • Eyes Always Shut: J. Wellington Wimpy always have this. Though in the cartoons, his eyes will open wide on occasion. Usually when he was surprised or shocked.
  • Eye Scream: The comics explain this is what happened to Popeye's right eye. He allowed himself to get beat up over a matter he felt accountable for, and lost his right eye always have this. Though in the process. However, in some cartoons, it shows his left eye being the one closed. This may have transitioned into the Fleischer cartoons, but was eventually abandoned by the Famous Studios shorts.
  • Filling the Silence: Popeye tends to mutter to himself under his breath when he's just ambling along without much of a goal in mind.
  • Finishing Move: The twister sock/punch.
  • Flashback Within a Flashback: Flashback within a dream. "Spinach Packin' Popeye" has Popeye donating blood. He passes out and dreams that he's a boxer. Within that dream—well, the cartoon is actually a Clip Show, so Popeye's dream includes flashbacks to "Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor" and "Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves".
  • Flexing Those Non-Biceps: Curiously averted, in that when Popeye has his spinach, they become huge, with objects inside like a battleship firing to show how powerful they are.
    • Played straight in one short where Bluto has killed all the spinach in the world. After eating some broccoli ("That's almost the same as spinach!") Popeye flexes, and his upper arm droops into a U-shape.
  • Fooled by the Sound: Wimpy and Popeye hear a rattling sound from a box. They think it's a rattlesnake until Popeye opens it and finds that it's Swee'Pea, who was shaking a rattle all along.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: "Ancient Fistory" is this for Cinderella.
  • Frazetta Man: In "Pre-Hysterical Popeye", Popeye stumbles into a caveman, in Yellowstone National Park of all places. The cave man is a Bluto substitute and they fight over Olive.
  • Friendly Enemy: Depending on the Writer, Popeye and Bluto often get along fine til they spot Olive Oyl, and even then, Popeye is often a very gracious winner. In one cartoon, after a fierce fight over treasure, Popeye gives half of it to Olive, and the other half to Bluto.
    • In that particular episode, Popeye gave Bluto his half because Popeye was living up to an agreement they'd made at the start of the episode, and even after Bluto had been a total Jerkass throughout the episode trying to steal all the treasure for himself. Though because of that, Popeye knocks both Bluto and his share of the treasure into the sea.
    • And, as an infamous Minute Maid commercial showed, once they've had their orange juice, they're downright affectionate.
    • Not to mention the entirety of the cartoon "Fightin Pals" is focused around Popeye going into Darkest Africa to find Bluto. And eyes will open wide on occasion. Usually when he finds Bluto (surrounded by wine, woman and coconuts, no less) and faints, being on the verge of death after finding Bluto, Bluto and his girls rush over to him, Bluto telling them that their efforts won't work as he pulls out a can of spinach, from his own shirt, and gives it to Popeye - sure, they start fighting at the end, but it comes off as a sort of friendly game. If that ain't a friendship, what is?
    • A Soaky bubble bath commercial from around 1960 had Popeye and Brutus fighting but not about Olive. They each claim to be a Soaky toy and they both are. During the jingle, Popeye and Brutus are arm around the shoulder joining Olive in singing the jingle.
  • Friends Turned Romantic Rivals: Many cartoons begin with Popeye and Bluto on friendly terms, until they meet Olive Oyl and start fighting for her affection.
  • Funetik Aksent: Ever wonder why Popeye talks that way? During his first appearances, his bizarre speech was Seger's written approximation of how sailors—possibly BRITISH sailors—really talked.
  • Gag Nose: Ham Gravy, the initial protagonist of Thimble Theatre, wields one, often acting as the subject of endless barrages of mockery from both the other characters and, on occasion, the comic artist himself. This is ultimately escalated to deliriously absurd proportions in a 1925 storyline, in which a group of alleged "spies", after inexplicably tailing and vigilantly guarding Ham for weeks, reveal him to be a distant relative (and, ultimately, the only eligible surviving member) of a royal family governing a set of islands entitled 'Nasalia', in which every member of the population possess noses equally as exaggeratedly large and unwieldy as Ham's.
  • Gainax Ending: In Al Brodax cartoon "Coach Popeye", Popeye and Brutus were arguing over who's the best to teach Swee'Pea and Diesel how to play sports. As usual, Popeye and Brutus ended up fighting. Near the end, they generated a fight cloud and, when it disappeared, it revealed them playing amicably as if they weren't just fighting.
  • Gender Flip: "Never Kick a Woman" features a variation on the traditional formula, with Olive having to overcome a voluptuous adversary to win back Popeye's affections, and eating spinach to do so.
    • "Hill-billing and Cooing" has a similar variation, in which Olive has to rescue Popeye from a much larger adversary who wants to have her wicked way with him.
  • Genre Savvy: In the Valentine's Day special, "Sweethearts at Sea," Bluto remembers that Popeye keeps his spinach in his shirt, and shakes him upside-down so that all the cans fall out, leaving the sailor man helpless as Bluto binds him to an anchor and throws him overboard.
  • Gentle Giant: Alice the Goon. While her inital appearances subverted this, it was only because the Sea Hag was holding her child hostage; she became more amiable when she was freed from her servitude.
  • Getting the Baby to Sleep: One cartoon had Popeye and Bluto trying to get a crying Swee'pea to laugh. Naturally, it leads to an Escalating War, and Popeye reaches for his spinach... only he opens a can of onions instead, causing him and Bluto to cry. Swee'pea sees them crying and laughs.
  • Going Commando: In "Shape Ahoy", it's suggested Olive Oyl is bottomless under her skirt, as she uses her white panties or short bloomers with red spots as a sail while traveling by raft to an island. Once she arrives there, she grabs her undies and gets behind a boulder to put them on.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: "A Haul in One" starts off with Popeye and Bluto as friends. This doesn't last too long, as they arrive to help Olive Oyl move, and both compete for her affections.
    • In "Fightin' Pals", Popeye gives Dr. Bluto a friendly send-off on his voyage to deepest darkest Africa, and goes on a lengthy journey to find his pal whom he imagines to be in danger, only to discover that Bluto is living it up in paradise, with Popeye and Bluto having a friendly brawl at the end.
  • Gonky Femme: Alice the Goon, a large ogre-like monster whose only clothing was a flowery hat, had a very feminine personality. That didn't stop her from trying to beat up Popeye when her boss, the Sea Hag, ordered her to.
  • Greek Chorus: Mercer's ad libs sometimes had Popeye Leaning on the Fourth Wall about the entire cartoon.
  • Growing Muscles Sequence: Every time Popeye eats his spinach, with images like cannons, warships, turbines etc. superimposed over his arm for extra imagery.
  • Guilt-Induced Nightmare:
  • Have a Gay Old Time: From the third Popeye color special: "I've never made love in Technicolor before!"
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In "How Green Is My Spinach", after realizing he's in a cartoon and destroying the worlds Spinach crops in order to rid himself of Popeye once and for all, Bluto is done in when he forgets that there is No Fourth Wall, and an audience member tosses Popeye a can of Spinach.
  • Hollywood Law: In "Assault and Flattery", Bluto’s trial against Popeye basically consists of Bluto briefly recounting two incidents out of context, Popeye describing a much longer incident and Judge Wimpy then declares Popeye not guilty.
  • Hypnotism Reversal:
    • At one point in the short "The Hyp-Nut-Tist", Bluto tries to hypnotize Popeye into thinking he's a monkey with hypnotic Eye Beams, which Popeye reflects back at him with the help of a handy mirror, causing Bluto to think he's a monkey.
    • In "The Fistic Mystic", Bluto plays a stage swami who, in a desire to be rid of Popeye once and for all, tries to hypnotize him into thinking he's a canary. Popeye reflects it in a much more Popeye-ish manner and punches his Eye Beams back at him.
  • I Am What I Am: What he says in his theme song. He's probably the Trope Codifier.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Thimble Theater ran for ten years before Popeye made his debut.
  • Image Song: Sort of. At the end of every short, Popeye sings some variation of the "Popeye the Sailor Man" song, depending on the situation or setting of that particular short, and always ending with the trademark "Toot, Toot!" whistle. For instance, in a short where Popeye is a sculptor and Bluto is a painter and the two fight over who gets to use Olive as a model, he sings, "A painting won't match you / it must be a statue / I'm Popeye the Sailor Man / Toot, toot!"
  • Imagine Spot: "Never Sock A Baby" has Popeye giving Swee' Pea a spanking for some naughty thing the little guy did off-screen, followed by Popeye fantasizing about a heartbroken Swee' Pea running away from home. During this Dream Sequence, Swee' Pea nearly falls off a collapsing rope bridge into an enormous canyon and eventually goes over an Inevitable Waterfall along with Popeye.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Whenever Swee'pea gets into something dangerous, be it wandering into a factory, sneaking aboard a battleship, or climbing into animal cages, he always comes out unscathed, either by luck or Popeye's timely interception. "Lost and Foundry" had Swee'Pea wandering off into a dangerous factory. Although he ends up having to rescue Popeye and Olive Oyl instead of the other way around.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Olive Oyl is apparently ravishingly beautiful.
    • It's more apparent in the Famous Studios shorts, however.
    • As mentioned elsewhere, Olive was originally conceived as a flapper, which, in 2010, is a fashion now almost a century out of date, but in general the flapper ideal was, indeed, something like Olive Oyl: skinny as a rail, with as little of a figure as a girl can possibly manage, and sort of tomboyish of attitude. They tended to be party people.
  • Instant Roast:
    • In the cartoon "I Eats My Spinach," Popeye's Megaton Punch turns a bull into a meat market stocked with beef hocks, steaks, and deli cuts.
    • In "Popeye Meets Sinbad the Sailor", the evil Sinbad (ie., Bluto) has his Roc carry Popeye away; Popeye fights the bird and brings it back to the villain, cooked turkey-style on a platter.
  • In One Ear, Out The Other: In "I Don't Scare" a goldfish bowl, complete with goldfish, is knocked into the air and lands on Olive's head. The goldfish happily swims into Olive's left ear and out her right without meeting any obstruction.
  • Iris Out: In "Me Musical Nephews" (remade as "Riot in Rhythm"), Popeye uses an iris out to leave the cartoon, to escape his annoying nephews.
  • Iron Maiden: The short "Can You Take It?" has Popeye enduring abuse as part of his Initiation Ceremony into the Bruiser Boys Club, ending with him encased in an iron maiden. However, the durable sailor survives and the knives in the back are bent.
  • It Runs in the Family: Poopdeck Pappy, Popeye's nephews, and Swee' Pea all behave just like Popeye, more or less.
    • Junior, from Popeye & Son metabolizes spinach no less than his famous father, although the boy hates the taste of it.
  • Jabba Table Manners: Bluto Abu Hassan when he's eating a large meal in his cave. Complete with improvised hamming, as he makes amusing chewing and gobbling noises as he devours his meal.
    • That may be a Viewers Are Geniuses reference to the real story of Abu Hassan in the Arabian Nights, a man who enjoyed all the good things in life a bit too much. Doubtful that Bluto would have been that embarrassed, though.
    • Bluto in We Aim to Please orders half a dozen sandwiches (with no intent of paying for them) and, flipping them in the air, gobbles them down like a dog.
  • "Just So" Story: Popeye's story of why the sea is salty from one of the 60's TV cartoons, played straight, then promptly lampshaded by Swee'Pea's response.
  • Karma Houdini: Wimpy in "What—No Spinach?". His obsession with scamming free food from Bluto's restaurant leads to him goading Popeye and Bluto into fighting each other over a misunderstanding, which allows Wimpy to get away with all of the food in Bluto's safe.
  • Kick the Dog: The short "Seasons Greetinks" literally has Bluto whipping a dog.
    • And Be Kind to 'Aminals' is centered around his mistreating the horse who pulls his cart.
  • The Kiddie Ride: One with Popeye on a boat by Jolly Roger. The notorious thing about the design is that the coin slot is on Popeye's crotch.
  • Kidnapping Bird of Prey: The Witch in the comics has a giant vulture who is able to lift up people and bring them to her.
    • Sindbad the Sailor has the Roc who destroys Popeye's boat and carries Olive off.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Popeye the justice defender has a huge jawline.
  • Large Ham: Bluto, and any variation on him (Abu Hassan, Sindbad, etc.)
  • Last-Name Basis:: J. Wellington Wimpy
    • The Sea Hag often calls him Wellington.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Popeye in the The Shadow Strikes comic book (1), and probably others.
    • In the Porky Pig cartoon Porky's Garden, a baby chick eats a spinach leaf and assumes Popeye's physical form and speech ("I'll lays him among da sweet peas!") as he clobbers the chicken that bullied him a moment before.
  • Legally Dead: Olive's rich uncle has been missing long enough to have it happen to him.
  • Leitmotif: Whenever Popeye grabs his spinach can, a fanfare version of "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man" is heard. Usually, the fights are accompanied by patriotic music, usually either "Stars and Stripes Forever", "Yankee Doodle", or "O Columbia the Gem of the Ocean".
    • Bluto, and later Brutus, had "Blow the Man Down" as theirs.
    • Popeye had another during several Fleischer shorts where he happily walks while humming to "Brotherly Love", a song Olive Oyl was singing in the 1936 short of the same name.
    • In the short, Barbecue For Two, after the titular sailor man eats his spinach, Swee'Pea and Wimpy, who came uninvited, hears it, and both of them wisely chose to get out of there as fast as they could!
  • Lethal Chef: Popeye's Granny, introduced during Sagendorf's run of the comic strip, is a horrible cook. Her biscuits have been used to pave driveways, and she's somehow managed to burn water. Popeye, Poopdeck Pappy and Swee'pea ended up allowing her to cook only one meal a year, during which time, they'll sneak off to Roughhouse for a hamburger.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Popeye's trademark line, "That's all I can stands, and I can't stands no more!"
    • Popeye will usually spend much of his time getting his butt kicked by Bluto. But once he gulps down a can full of spinach, the tide turns in his favor considerably.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Trope Namer; one of Wimpy's early Catch Phrases
  • Licensed Pinball Table: Popeye Saves the Earth, released in 1994 by Williams Electronics. Infamous among Pinball enthusiasts for being one of the worst tables in modern history.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Released in 1980, with Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall
  • Logo Joke: In the short "Alpine for You", Popeye punches Bluto into a mountain. The shockwave of which causes stars to appear that create the Paramount Pictures logo, thus ending the short.
  • Long-Lost Relative: One arc features Olive inheriting the fortune of a rich uncle of hers once his disappearance has lasted long enough to have him declared dead.
  • Love at First Punch: Played straight with Popeye and Olive in the original comics.
  • Love Triangle: Popeye, Olive and Bluto. Depending on the Writer Olive's feelings toward Bluto vary from hatred to lust, and she sometimes gets tired of Popeye. In some episodes Popeye really deserves better than her.
  • Made of Iron: Cripes, the things Popeye and Bluto have survived!
    • In the comics, this verges on Nigh-Invulnerability — Mafia bosses will invite Popeye to sit at the table with them in a restaurant, because he makes for such a good bulletproof shield.
    • In the early Fleischer cartoons, too. He's thrown into an iron maiden ("Can You Take It?"), walks into a buzzsaw (ditto), is pounded by a pile-driver ("I Eats Me Spinach"), and is even shot in the back of the head ("Blow Me Down"), and he doesn't even flinch. And this is without spinach.
    • In fact, Popeye's indestructibility was his main "superpower" in the original comic strip, and spinach had nothing to do with it. In his initial adventure he was shot several times, and survived by repeatedly rubbing the head of an African whiffle hen — Castor had brought her along because rubbing her head brings good luck, and he was going to an island of gambling casinos. The whiffle hen is also indestructible, and although Segar never made this explicit, Popeye had apparently managed to permanently infuse himself with these qualities.
  • Mad Libs Theme Song: When singing his iconic tune at the end of an episode, Popeye frequently inserts episode-specific references in lines three and four.
  • Magical Native American: If one's definition of this trope is broad enough, the indians from the very early short "I Yam What I Yam" (AKA "The Indian Fighter") feature a tribe of hostile indians who are capable of shapeshifting into nearby foliage (and in one's case, a miniature house) in order to sneak up on Olive and Wimpy's cabin.
  • Malingering Romance Ploy: in the short "Hospitaliky", Popeye and Bluto combine this with Deliberate Injury Gambit to get the attention of nurse Olive Oyl. After multiple failed attempts at getting hurt bad, they finally get in a fight that climaxes in Popeye force-feeting Bluto his spinach to get him strong enough to beat him to a pulp.
    "I yam the sickest, 'cause I was the quickest, I'm Popeye the Sailor Man!"
    • The same short got remade in color as "For Better or Nurse", with a twist ending: Olive throws Popeye out because she works at a cat and dog hospital, and when he and Bluto pretend to be cats and dogs they get dragged off to an insane asylum.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Wimpy
  • The Masochism Tango: Olive & Hamgravy's increasingly toxic relationship in Thimble Theater was always played for laughs, & you had to wonder why Hamgravy couldn't bring himself to leave her.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover:
    • The 1972 TV special The Man Who Hated Laughter, which teamed up virtually every popular King Features Syndicate character, even those from strips of completely different genres and art styles.
    • He was also part of the Imaginationland defense force on that episode of South Park. ("More spinach for Popeye!" <poof!>)
  • May the Farce Be with You: One episode of the Hanna-Barbera series, "Close Encounters of the Third Spinach", is a typical Star Wars parody. It featured Olive as Princess Olive-Pit, Poopdeck Pappy as Alta-Poppa and Bluto as Darth Bluto. Popeye not only rescues the Princess but discovers his long lost Pappy.
  • Medium Awareness: In "Me Musical Nephews" (remade as "Riot in Rhythm"), Popeye uses an iris out to leave the cartoon, to escape his annoying nephews. When they reappear onscreen playing their loud music, Popeye jumps off the stage and runs out of the theater.
    • In "The Natural Thing To Do", the characters get a letter from the Popeye fan club requesting they tone down the violence and act more refined and gentlemanly.
    Bluto: Gentlemanly, hmmm? Sounds like a character part.
    Popeye: I can act rough, but what's "rough-fined"?
  • Megaton Punch: Usually how he ends his spinach-boosted beatdown combos. Maybe the Falcon PAWNCH from Super Smash Bros. was based on this ultimate finisher?
  • Metal Muncher: In The Hungry Goat (1943), the eponymous goat seems to actually prefer metal, cans or otherwise, for its food. Of course, this causes no end of trouble for our hero, whose Navy ship the goat decides to eat. The single, rather small goat simply boards the ship and rapidly consumes anything it can get its teeth on, including an enormous length of chain that just vanishes into negative space.
  • Mook–Face Turn: The Sea Hag attempts to have Alice the Goon kidnap Swee'pea while Popeye is out, but when she sees Swee'pea, she instantly falls in love with him, and instead turns on the Sea Hag. She then proceeds to watch over him until Popeye returns home, much to his surprise. She since would babysit him whenever Popeye had to go off on an adventure.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: Popeye first learns of Alice the Goon's gender when a much smaller goon comes up and shouts "MAMA!" He immediately ends the fight then and there.
  • Moral Myopia: In "Cookin' with Gags," Popeye is the butt of several increasingly cruel April Fools Day pranks brought on by Bluto. Whenever Popeye got angry, Olive would accuse him of not having a sense of humor. Bluto later played a prank on Olive and set Popeye to take the blame. Suddenly, it wasn't very funny.
  • The Multiverse: Revealed, and parodied, in a Popeye's Cartoon Club strip, where it's shown that the versions of Popeye from different media are all from different alternate universes — but they tail to meet up with the Popeye of the comic strip, who thinks The Multiverse is a "lazy trope" and "no one cares anymore 'bout seein' mulkiple versions o' one guy!"
  • Musical Episode: The Fleischer cartoons, especially the earliest ones, had many musical numbers, and several of them were outright centered around the characters acting out pieces of music for the whole short, usually original (as in "Brotherly Love") or but sometimes (like in "Beware Barnacle Bill") with a preexisting tune.
  • Musical Nod: One scene in "A Dream Walking" where Popeye is swinging between girders uses a bit of the same melody that played throughout "The Man on the Flying Trapeze."
    • In several Fleischer Popeye shorts, Popeye would hum the song from "Brotherly Love".
  • Named After the Injury: In the comics and Fleischer shorts, Popeye himself lost his eye in a fight. This became averted when his supposedly missing eye was later retconned into a squint.
  • Near-Villain Victory:
    • Bluto almost successfully marries Olive Oyl in "Nearlyweds" after humiliating Popeye. But once Bluto and Olive meet the Justice of the Peace, he makes Bluto promise to do a ludicrous amount of housework and deeds for Olive as part of their marriage. Bluto immediately gets cold feet and bails on the marriage on the spot, with Olive in chase. Of course, the Justice of the Peace turns out to be Popeye in disguise.
    • Subverted In 1935's "For Better or Worser", where both Popeye and Bluto are heading to the Matrimonial Agency, where Popeye and Bluto both fight for the right to marry Olive Oyl, whom neither of them has seen yet. As soon as he eats his spinach, Popeye beats up Bluto and goes up to Wimpy, the Justice of the Peace, but as soon as he sees Olive's face all smeared with Uncanny Valley Makeup he goes back to his bachelor apartment.
    • In "How Green Is My Spinach" Bluto has successfully destroyed the worlds spinach supply and finally has Popeye cornered with nothing to stop him. If it weren't for the lack of a fourth wall, he would've succeeded in ridding himself of Popeye for good.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Spinach can do more than make Popeye strong; it seems to be able to do whatever it has to in order for him to handle a crisis. Whether he has to become smarter or a master of some discipline he knows nothing about (like art, music, science, or even stage magic) his favorite food can do it.
  • Never Wake Up a Sleepwalker: Bluto and Popeye have to join forces to save Olive Oyl from herself in the short "A Dream Walking", especially once she wanders into a construction site.
  • No Antagonist: There's about 21 shorts note  where the conflict doesn’t come from an antagonistic force like Bluto, but more Popeye's own inaction or other circumstances. Notably the short "Let's Celebrake!" has no conflict whatsoever and is about Popeye taking Olive's grandma to a New Years Eve party.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The boxing vamp in "Never Kick A Woman" seems to be a pastiche of Mae West and Sonja Henie.
  • No OSHA Compliance: True, Popeye predates OSHA by a long shot, and started back when A-list stars in the movies still did stunts without the benefit of a Stunt Double or safety nets, but you still wouldn't want to work in, say, a factory with Everything Trying to Kill You, right? Well, it's clearly nothing for the world's strongest sailor to worry about in "Lost and Foundry".
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: In "Service With A Guile", when Popeye fixes the Admiral's car, Bluto knocks Popeye out of the way and takes credit for the repair. As it turns out, Popeye did such a horrible job that the car explodes with the Admiral still inside of it. Bluto is court-martialed and forced to scrape the rust of of a whole fleet of ships.
  • No Full Name Given: Popeye. In a 1980 sequence, Olive Oyl tried to get Popeye to reveal his full name so she could register him for the U.S. Census. While Popeye managed to find out his surname during the storyline, readers didn't.
  • Not His Sled: Readers of the original Segar comics will be surprised to find out that not only was Bluto a minor oneshot villain in a 1932 story, but that Popeye did not use his spinach to defeat him, settling for the Twisker Punch instead.
  • No-Sell: Once Popeye gulps the spinach, nothing is going to hurt him. Or faze him. Nothing.
  • Not-So-Safe Harbor: Sweethaven, especially in the Live-Action Adaptation.
  • Ode to Food: In "What, No Spinach?", Wimpy sings "Hamburger Mine", an ode to his favourite food.
  • Once an Episode: Popeye gets in a life-threatening situation, pulls out a can of spinach, and summons the strength necessary to save himself — and, probably, Olive. Occasional variations cropped up, such as Olive Oyl saving Popeye from a hillbilly giantess in Hill-Billing and Cooing, but even these variations nearly always involved the strategic use of spinach. Though there were the rare shorts that didn't use spinach or even really have a threat.
  • One Extra Member: "Jeopardy Sheriff" in which Popeye starts to read Swee'Pee the story of the Three Bears: Moe, Sam, Lefty, and George. Also referred to as "The three bears of which there were four".
  • One-Word Title: Also a Protagonist Title and Portmantitle.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Scooner, generally called Swee'pea
    • In the live action movie, Swee'pea was the baby's name. This led to the following exchange:
    Olive: Well I think "Swee'pea" is the worst name ever given to a baby!
    Popeye: What would you have called him? "Baby Oyl"? I found him in Swee'haven and he's me Swee'pea.
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: Used in an infamous storyline in the comic strip; A woman overhears Olive Oyl talking about getting rid of a baby robot a home shopping channel had mistakenly sent her and assumes she's talking about getting rid of her (unborn) baby and quickly assembles a crew of her cohorts to talk her out of it. Although there was little negative feedback from readers or newspapers, the artist behind this strip was soon fired (The official reason being that the artist had gone too far in trying to include modern elements into such a legacy strip. The "abortion" strip was merely the last straw).
  • Out of Focus: As the Fleischer Popeye cartoons ran their course, Bluto became a much less prominent character than before, and he was absent from a surprisingly large number of their shorts (49, to be exact).
  • Outdated Outfit: Popeye gets a pass when wearing his Navy whites (which haven't changed much in decades) but usually he's wearing a much more dated nautical outfit that was old-fashioned even in the 1930's.
  • Overly Long Name: Again Swee'pea, whose full name is Scooner Seawell Georgia Washenting Christiffer Columbia Daniel Boom.
  • Painting the Medium: In "The Ace of Space" after Popeye has been captured by the aliens, when subtitles of what the aliens are saying pop up, Popeye himself takes a moment to read some of them.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: In one old strip, Wimpy spent some money that Popeye had given to him after he had claimed to be homeless on a large meal. When he saw Popeye coming, Wimpy quickly plucked out his whiskers and tipped his hat forward. The disguise was very short-lived. In the next strip, Popeye and the owner of the diner suspected that something was up and proved it was Wimpy by making him a new mustache out of horsehair. In the end, Wimpy had to wash dishes to pay for the large bill that he had accrued by then.
  • Perplexing Pearl Production: The 1960's cartoon "Wimpy the Moocher" plays with this. Wimpy shows up at Rough House's diner and orders an oyster with his only dime. Wimpy discovers a pearl in his oyster, and Rough House gives him 30 hamburgers for the pearl. When Rough House goes to sell the pearl, he learns that it's just one of many imitation pearls Wimpy had bought earlier—for 10 cents each.
  • Pirate Girl: The Sea Hag (although she is definitely not a Buccaneer Babe).
  • Playing Sick: In "I Yam Lovesick", Olive has fallen in love with Bluto, and gives Popeye an icy reception, so Popeye decides to fake an illness to gain her sympathy, and Olive rushes him to the hospital, where the doctors perform a number of medical tests and Popeye's pranks confuse the doctors who are trying to determine the symptoms; Olive even tries to revive him with a can of spinach, and even that appears to fail, until he reveals that it was a joke to see if she still loved him. Olive is so furious, she starts beating up Popeye.
    • "Hospitaliky" starts with Popeye and Bluto each pretending to be sick so they could be admitted by Nurse Olive. She quickly sees through their ruse and say that she can only see them if they are really sick or injured, so the two try to get themselves hurt.
  • Pocket Protector: In one episode, at the losing end of a fencing duel against Bluto, Popeye is saved from a finishing thrust by none other than a can of spinach hidden in his shirt.
    • Also, when Bluto impersonated Superman, he challenged Popeye to best him in (among other things) being bulletproof. During Bluto's turn to shoot Popeye, the can of spinach did its job again.
  • Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: One story features Popeye and Brutus as rival farmers trying to win a competition. One of the events is the tastiest hamburger contest and Brutus sprinkles Popeye's burger with red hot pepper. Popeye and Brutus constantly swap burgers behind each other's back until Popeye outsmarts Brutus by pretending to swap burgers.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: The Betty Boop short Popeye the Sailor, making this trope Older Than Television.
  • Portmantitle: Also a One-Word Title and Protagonist Title.
  • Power Incontinence: In at least three shorts ("Hospitaliky", "For Better or Nurse" and "Beaus will be Beaus") Popeye force-feeds a can of spinach to Bluto, whose body uses its new super-strength to beat Popeye senseless despite Bluto legitimately not wanting to hurt Popeye.
    • That would explain why he's initially reluctant about using his Power-Up Food.
    • In "Seein' Red, White and Blue," Popeye administers spinach to both Bluto and himself so they can both open a can of whoopass on some Japanese agents who had gotten the best of them (as well as Hirohito and Hitler). Ends with Bluto joining the Navy, which he tried to avoid earlier in the cartoon.
    • At least one story from Al Brodax's Popeye has Brutus willingly eating spinach and it not forcing him to hit Popeye.
  • Power-Up: He's strong to the finich 'cause he eats his spinach, remember?
  • Power-Up Food: Spinach, of course!
    • Hard to believe, but there was a time when Popeye didn't get his strength from spinach! Segar had him simply as a very tough sailor. He put the spinach business in later, but never with the inevitable focus that the cartoons had.
    • The spinach also has other uncanny abilities besides merely granting excess strength. It also grants Popeye Reality Warper powers, and can even reverse odd effects that have occurred to Popeye (i.e. being squished down into a midget in "Popeye Meets Rip Van Winkle", being aged to 125 years old and later being turned invisible in "The Ace of Space")
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: When Popeye says, "That's all I can stands, and I can stands no more!", beware. Asskicking, spinach or no spinach, to begin in 5... 4... 3... 2...
  • Primal Fear: Slapstick as they are, "A Dream Walking" and "The Paneless Window Washer" involve the fear of heights.
  • Protagonist Title: Also a One-Word Title and Portmantitle.
  • Public Domain Animation: a fair amount of Popeye cartoons have fallen into the Public Domain, including the 3 two-reel color specials so they're commonly found of public domain VHS tapes or DVDs.
  • Public Domain Character: Not in the US, where Popeye falls under the "work for hire" provisions of US copyright law. However, this is the case in many other countries, including the EU. See here for a more complete explanation.
    • True for Popeye himself. However, Olive Oyl (at least the original version) is public domain in the US as well as in Europe. She was introduced in 1919, a full decade before Popeye.
  • Punched Across the Room: And how. In one episode, a spinach-addled Popeye punched Bluto all the way to the moon. In another episode, Popeye actually punched him through the fourth wall and into the movie theatre.
  • Punny Name: Olive Oyl, and everyone from the original comic's cast
  • Put on a Bus: Characters from the Fleischer era such as Wimpy, Swee'Pea and Poopdeck Pappy were largely absent in the Famous era to focus more on the love triangle between Popeye, Olive and Bluto. Eugene the Jeep didn't even appear in the Famous era shorts and wouldn't return until the KFS TV shorts, which was 20 years since his last appearance. As well as several characters from the first year of Thimble Theater & eventually former male lead Harold Hamgravy.
  • Put the "Laughter" in "Slaughter": In the Brodax short "It Hurts Only When They Laugh," Olive makes Popeye and Brutus laugh while she's doing the dishes so she'll know they're not fighting. But while Olive is busy, the boys are beating the living hell out of each other while laughing and causing collateral damage to the living room in the process.
  • Quack Doctor: In the episode "The Medicine Man" from the 60's animated series, Bluto/Brutus plays the role of Doctor Quack. He deliberately sabotages Popeye's spinach medicines to get rid of a potential competitor and messes up his health with questionable treatments (scare therapy, sneezing powder, sleeping pills, and, finally, a high-speed trip downhill on a wheelchair) For the Evulz. Eventually, Popeye lets him give a taste of his own medicine by applying Quack's scare therapy on the doctor himself: after accidentally drinking genuine spinach medicine, he immediately recovers from Quack's medicines, throws the latter onto an operating room table, and shows him a dozen surgical tools ready to be used. Quack freaks out and bursts out from his office at full speed with the whole operation table.
  • Rapid Aging: In "The Ace of Space", the aliens use such a device to age Popeye into being 125 years old. Eating spinach reverses the effect, but to the point of where Popeye becomes two years old. Quickly spitting out some of the spinach reverts him back to his normal age of 40 years old.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Popeye may as well be the Trope Maker in this case, as his cartoons are the earliest examples anyone can find.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: It's obviously exaggerated on Popeye himself, but sailors and other marine workers really do end up with exceptionally strong, muscular forearms after a while; tossing thick, heavy rigging around all day will do that to you.
  • Reality Warper: Big time. Popeye has altered the forms of the things he's punched, punching tigers into leopard skin coats — that's right, tigers into leopard skin coats — as well as punching Indians into nickels, Bluto into bologna, a trapeze artist into a light fixture, and breaking the very film he was printed on at one point.
    • Not to mention punching a big Native American chief and turning him into GANDHI!
    • In one short, Popeye punched The Sun and changed day into night. Or killed the sun, depending who you ask.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!!: Especially with a lot of the later Famous Studios shorts.
  • Remake: 17 shorts in the series were remade throughout the series run.
  • Retool: The original comic strip changed drastically after Popeye's breakout popularity, dropping many regular characters.
  • Retraux: The Famous Studios short "Cartoons Ain't Human".
  • The Rival: In the animation, Bluto is Popeye's main antagonist and competition for Olive Oyl. This was a step up from his origins in the comics; he was picked for the shorts because he happened to be The Heavy of the arc that was running when Fleischer first started making the cartoon.
  • The Roaring '20s: Thimble Theater debuted in 1919, long before Popeye's first guest appearance. Most strips were domestic humor centering around Olive and the Oyl family and her boyfriend, Ham Gravy. Olive had a perfect flapper figure and often butted heads with her dad on the propriety of the latest styles, with their shorter skirts and rolled stockings.
  • Saint-Bernard Rescue: One short features a Saint Bernard rescuing Popeye. Upon recognizing him from the comics, the dog gives him spinach instead of brandy.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Olive Oyl, sometimes. She's always fiercely devoted to Popeye, but her ability to be charmed by Bluto and how she acts when Popeye isn't around can change greatly depending on the short.
  • Scenery Porn: Had some very elaborate architecture backgrounds, all done in perfect perspective. "A Dream Walking" and "The Paneless Window Washer" take full advantage of this.
    • Taken a step further with the sculpted model backgrounds set on turntables behind the cels - some quite detailed cityscapes, and some beautiful settings in their Technicolor specials.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Segar was prone to utilizing this as a plot point in the pre-Popeye incarnation of Thimble Theatre, particularly given both the fundamental bleakness of his setting and the strip's emphasis on the oft-self-absorbed motives of Ham Gravy and, more infrequently, Castor Oyl. Of particular note is the conclusion to the 1925 Nasalia storyline: on inheriting the country's throne, Ham is saddled with the kingdom's chronic bankruptcy and discordant society, culminating in him abruptly handing the crown to an attempted assassin at the moment a mob of republican political revolutionaries burst into the throne room in violent protest, implicitly leaving him for dead in the process. Ham's complete failure to resolve (or even attempt to resolve) the kingdom's deep sociopolitical cracks is never addressed in the following strips.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: Spinach grants super strength to any character who consumes it, not just Popeye.
  • Secretly Wealthy: Popeye was shown to be this in some 1972 newspaper strips; he had at least 20 chests filled with pirate treasure with more in his basement.
    • A Brodax era cartoon presented Popeye as a wealthy philanthropist sending million dollar checks to his friends...and Brutus. This was a takeoff on the CBS drama of the 50s, The Millionaire.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: "Sock-A-Bye Baby". After spending the entire cartoon going out of his way to keep the baby asleep, a tiny safety pin falling from his carriage ends up waking the baby! Fortunately, Popeye decides to literally zip up his mouth to keep him quiet.
  • Shaped Like Itself: "I yam what I am, and that's all that I yam, I'm Popeye the Sailor Man."
    • "That's all I can stands, 'cuz I can't stands no more!"
    • From a Famous cartoon, Bluto is carrying off Olive who says "Let go of me, you!"
    • From "Lost and Foundry":
    Olive: Ahhh! Swee'pea went into the factory! He'll be killed to death!
    • From "Spinach Fer Britain":
    Popeye: This pea soup is like fog!
    • From "It Hurts Only When They Laughs":
    Popeye: Er, hiya, Brutus. It's a nice day if it don't rain.
    Brutus: Yeah, Popeye. If it don't rain, it'll be a nice day.
    • In "The Natural Thing To Do," Popeye says "Conversing breaks up the monopoly of not talkin'!"
    • From "Shape Ahoy":
    Popeye: A bachelor is okay for a guy what ain't married.
    • From "The Fly's Last Flight":
    Popeye: When it comes to takin' a nap, ya can't beats sleepin'!
  • Shooting Superman: In "She Sick Sailors", Bluto impersonated Superman, he had a metal plate under the suit to make it seem he was bulletproof.
  • Shout-Out: "She-Sick Sailors" is a shout-out to Superman, the other major property of Fleischer/Famous Studios. Bluto impersonates Superman in order to woo Olive, who is obsessed with the comic book hero.
    • In "Beware of Barnacle Bill", after Popeye refuses to marry Olive Oyl, Olive sobs, "There goes the navy... but still there's the army!", in reference to the 1934 film Here Comes the Navy.
    • In Puttin' on the Act, Popeye does impersonations of Jimmy Durante, Stan Laurel and Groucho Marx.
    • Shout-outs to Popeye can be seen in a few Warner Bros. cartoons, including "Porky's Garden," "The Major Lied 'Til Dawn" and "Scrap Happy Daffy."
  • Signature Laugh: Popeye's "Ug-ug-ug-ug-ug!"
    • Before his "Ug-ug-ug-ug" laugh caught on though, it was "ARF, ARF, ARF, ARF," in the comics.
  • Signature Move: Popeye's twister punch.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss:
    • Believe it or not, that's how Popeye and Olive started out. This was no Love at First Sight; they fought for weeks (Olive's first words to Popeye were "Aww, shut up, you big bilge rat!") despite ultimately commencing a romantic relationship only a year later.
    • Prior to Popeye's introduction into Thimble Theatre, one of its primary running gags centered on the turbulence of the romance between Olive and her longtime (since the implied age of twelve or under) boyfriend Ham Gravy; while both characters are disparaging of the other's qualities (Olive is disdainful of Ham's "cheapness", lethargy and large nose and Ham of Olive's large feet and abysmal baking and singing abilities) and thus frequently break up to pursue wealthier or more attractive partners, they nonetheless almost invariably reunite afterwards, hence their relationship's baffling longevity.
  • Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: The Fleischer cartoons are a Type 3 (Pragmatic Adaptation); the characters personalities are kept intact from the comics, but none of the story material from Segar's newspaper comics was used, as many of them were story arcs that ran for months at a time, and it would have been unfeasable to properly adapt them into the theatrical cartoon format of the time period. The Famous Studios cartoons vary between a Type 2 (Recognizable Adaptation) and Type 1 (In Name Only).
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic: Surreal. Aside from characterization, the only truly consistent thing about the cartoons is that Popeye gets stronger when he eats spinach. Otherwise, pretty much anything goes as far as what can happen in each short.
  • Slippery Swimsuit: In the short Alona of the Sarong Seas, this happens first to Olive, then to Popeye and Bluto.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Anyone who has seen one of the cartoons know how he incorporates the toots of his pipe into his catchphrase and the opening music. After decades that still hasn't gone stale. He has also been known to use his pipe like a blowtorch and a periscope.
    • Popeye's corncob pipe had to be dropped in recent animation so children wouldn't smoke by imitating him.
  • Special Edition Title: The Color Specials and Famous Studios cartoons "We're on Our Way to Rio" and Tops in the Big Top had grander intros in comparison to every other short. Transitioning from the Popeye theme to instrumentals or the respective special's songs or in the case of "Tops in the Big Top", a variation of March Militarie No. 1 in D.
  • Spectacular Spinning: Popeye's classic twister punch demonstrates this.
  • Spinoff: Popeye first appeared in animated form in the Betty Boop cartoon Popeye the Sailor (1933).
  • Spin-Offspring: Popeye & Son. (Though fans have complained that except for the sporadic, usually brief usage of spinach once in a while, there really wasn't much connecting this to the classic series, it could've been -anybody- & -any- son.)
  • Split Hair: Played straight and inverted in a short where Popeye and Bluto were competing store salesmen. Bluto shows that his knives are quality with this trope, then Popeye shows how crappy they are by having the hair split the knife.
  • Springtime for Hitler: "Hospitaliky" features Popeye and Bluto trying to get themselves injured so they can be tended to by Nurse Olive, only to constantly fail due to dumb luck or simply because they're just that indestructible. Popeye eventually "wins" by forcing Bluto to eat the spinach and beat the crap out of him.
    • Averted in the Famous Studios remake "For Better or Nurse", when Olive is working at a veterinary hospital and tells Popeye and Bluto "Can't you read?" They start fighting like cats and dogs and they both end up in the psychiatric hospital.
  • Standard Snippet: Whenever "The Stars and Stripes Forever" cues up, it means Bluto's about to take a beating.
    • In "I Yam What I Yam", the Volga Boatmen folksong plays when Popeye and co. walk out of the water, with Olive still rowing the oars and dragging Wimpy with her.
  • Stock Footage: 13 shorts were clip show episodes consisting of older footage, but even normal episodes occasionally reuse footage. For instance "With Poopdeck Pappy" in the scene where Pappy scats off to the bar after tying up Popeye, is partially recycled from an earlier short "The Dance Contest". The mini-short "Lets Sing With Popeye" reuses all of its animation from the very first Popeye short.
  • Stolen Credit Backfire: In "Service with a Guile", Popeye (with help from his spinach) fixes up the admiral's car, but Bluto pushes him away before he arrives so he can take the credit. However, the car blows up and falls to pieces once it's started, leaving Bluto to get punished with rust-scraping duty while Popeye and Olive go on a date.
  • Stock "Yuck!": Some stories are about the titular character trying to convince someone to eat spinach. In the Popeye and Son cartoon, the son doesn't like spinach but will eat it on occasion since it's as much of a Power-Up Food for him as it is for his father.
  • Story Arc: As mentioned above, the original comic strip began to use these.
  • Strawman Political: The short Olive Oyl for President presents Congress as a room full of arguing donkeys and elephants (Democrats and Republicans, respectively) — for every proposal that Olive presents, the donkeys say, "We accept it!" in unison, and the elephants scream, "We reject it!" in response. Political polarization is Older Than They Think.
    • It was a remake of Betty Boop for President (1932), complete with the "We accept it! We reject it!" from elephants and donkeys, and Oyl imitating politicians of the day.
      • I'm strong to the finish/ 'Cause I vote Kucinich!
  • Straying Baby: Swee'Pea is capable of pulling this off.
  • Strictly Formula: While the Famous Studios Popeye cartoons are notorious for this, this is surprisingly not the case with the Fleischer Popeye cartoons. Despite the notoriety of the spinach cliché and the characters' love triangle, more than half of their shorts eschew the latter formula or have some clever variation of it. Out of the 108 Fleischer shorts, 21 don’t feature Olivenote  while 46 of them (close to half of them) don't feature Bluto at allnote  Even shorts that do feature both Bluto and the spinach have clever gags and unique situations built around them—one short, "Fighting Pals", twists the formula by having Popeye tearing through a jungle in search of Bluto, and when he's clearly battered and fatigued from his endless search, Bluto ends up saving his life with the spinach! "Let’s Celebrake" is completely devoid of conflict, as Popeye lets Olive and Bluto go out together so Popeye can take Olive's grandmother out for New Years Eve. And on top of that, there are 19 of the Fleischer Popeye cartoons where he doesn't eat the spinach, or spinach is absent altogether.note 
  • Succession Crisis: One story arc in the comics featured King Blozo of Spinachia being pressured into marrying because his subjects were fearing this trope. He didn't like the idea of having a wife but was reconsidering because the people of Spinachia was threatening to depose him and elect a President.
  • Super Mode: Popeye's Spinach Mode counts as this.
  • Supermodel Strut: The Mae West boxer in "Never Kick A Woman" does an over-the-top one to get Popeye's attention. It works.
  • Superstitious Sailors: In the cartoon Mutiny Ain't Nice, Popeye's crew believes that having a female aboard is bad luck, and he tries to hide Olive from them when she accidentally stows away.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: In many of the cartoons Bluto almost always has the upper hand on Popeye before he can eat his spinach. Given their size and weight difference this makes perfect sense. The few times Bluto actually cuts Popeye off from his spinach? It’s always a MAJOR Ass Kicking.
    • In "Spinach Packin’ Popeye", Popeye enters a boxing match with Bluto not long after donating a large amount of blood. He naturally loses the fight in a big way due to the handicap; although in the end it’s revealed to be All Just a Dream.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Some animated cartoons feature Brutus instead of Bluto, perhaps under concern of copyright issues.
  • Temporary Bulk Change: Olive in Weight For Me.
  • Terrible Artist: In the short "Cartoons Ain't Human".
  • "Test Your Strength" Game: In their debut short, Popeye and Bluto try their hands at a ring-the-bell game to impress Olive. Bluto grabs a hammer (and the guy holding it) and hits the bell, while Popeye slams it with his fist and the puck shoots past the bell and all the way up to the sun (giving it a black eye).
  • The Bet: In the Thimble Theater comics, a common recurring gag was Olive, Castor, & Harold making cash bets the other would lose immediately.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: "Popeye the Sailor Man" plays in the background of every "spinach strength" scene.
    • Some could argue that the original shorts were among the earliest innovators of this trope.
  • This Means War!: "That's all I can stands, and I can't stands no more!"
  • Three Shorts: In TV syndication packages. On the Boomerang network, there is a half-hour block consisting of four unedited shorts, and sometimes airs the early black-and-white Fleischer Studios shorts during Late Night Black and White.
    • In previous decades, when the cartoons were syndicated, local stations would create their own Popeye programs, where the classic shorts were sandwiched by live-action hosts.
    • This is also the case for the syndicate version of The All-New Popeye Hour
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: In "Abusement Park", Olive Oyl's face turns pale with petrification and panic when she and Bluto take a huge, long drop from the highest height of a roller coaster in the cart, and she screams on the way down it.
    • In "Lunch With A Punch", a young Bluto's (seen in a flashback of a story that Popeye tells his nephews about how spinach has aided in his super strength) face turns red with ire and his hair forms devil's horns, as he devises a way to get back at young Popeye for stealing young Olive Oyl away from him.
    • In "Shape Ahoy", when Olive Oyl kisses Bluto on the nose, his whole body turns red and he becomes shaped like a rocket, launching into the sky, sky-writing the word "wow", and cooling off once he lands in the water.
    • In "Wigwam Whoopee", after Popeye gets a power-boost from eating spinach, some flames that were surrounding him turn yellow with fear, come to life, and flee before he can confront them.
    • In "Klondike Casanova", Olive Oyl's face turns ash purple when Bluto grabs her by the neck, squeezes it too tightly, strangles her, and shakes her roughly.
  • Tickle Torture: Olive Oyl has her feet tickled on four separate occasions. Twice through her shoe ("Seasin's Greetinks!" and "Be Kind to 'Aminals'") and twice barefoot ("Shiver Me Timbers!" and "Bridge Ahoy!").
  • Tiny-Headed Behemoth: Alice the Goon (and all other Goons). Their heads are about the same size as their shoulders (which admittedly are larger than average).
  • Title Reading Gag: At the beginning of The Hungry Goat, the titular goat walks past the title card before noticing what it says and bemoaning the fact that he has to be on the brink of starvation.
  • Too Dumb to Live: In a 2023 comic strip storyline, Pommy the explorer is looking for the treasure of Plaidfoot the Pirate. When Poopydeck Pappy claims that Plaidfoot died from natural causes, Pommy objects that he was stabbed ten times and shot out of a cannon. Pappy replies that this is a very natural cause of death when you've bragged about a treasure map to pirates.
  • Touched by Vorlons: In the Summer 2023 Olive & Popeye strips, after a trip to "Soulful Island"note  resulted in Olive having her soul ripped out, swapped with her friend Petunia's, and then restored, Olive is left with the ability to see and communicate with spirits.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Spinach and hamburgers for Popeye and Wimpy, respectively.
  • Transformation Trinket: In one story arc, Olive finds a headpiece from Venus, which transforms her into the superheroine Viper Velma from Venus whenever she wears it. Popeye falls in love with her Velma identity (as do Wimpy and Swee'pea), but he then starts hating her when she starts saving people before he can, and interfering with his fights. She's briefly tempted to throw it into the ocean, but ultimately decides to keep it just in case she ever needs it again.
  • Underwear Flag: In "Shape Ahoy", Popeye and Bluto, who are living on a tropical island by themselves, spot Olive Oyl on a raft using her knee-length bloomers as a flag.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: Olive inherits a missing uncle's fortune once he's declared dead. He was so long lost she didn't even remember him by the time she's informed of the inheritance. She gives it back to him once he returns.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Popeye's nephews. There are at least 2 shorts where they won't eat their spinach. Popeye is finally able to talk them into it. The nephews then use their new-found strength to beat the ever-living CRAP out of their kindly uncle! On a couple of separate occasions, Bluto was selling ice cream and Wimpy was selling hamburgers, and spinach wasn't that appealing compared to ice cream or hamburgers.
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast: The characters' roles never changed, but the shorts would shoehorn them into a wide variety of settings and personalities.
  • Ur-Example: Superman may have been the Trope Codifier for Superheroes, but Popeye the Sailor's got some astonishing heroics under his own belt.
  • Vanilla Edition: Unlike the three DVD sets of the black and white era shorts, Popeye the Sailor: The 1940's Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3 have no trailers, commentaries nor extras.
  • Verbal Ticksk
  • Villain Exclusivity Clause: Bluto appears in 90% of the shorts as the villain, and in all the adaptations too.
  • Villain Song: Sometimes the villains have one. For example, Sindbad and Abu Hassan have them in the colour features.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: Popeye and his friends were once trapped in a pit with the walls closing in. Desperately, Popeye throws his can of spinach to jam in the edge of the walls on top. The walls crush the can, causing the spinach to fall into Popeye's mouth. Now strong to the finish, Popeye easily forces the walls back and the gang escapes.
  • Wartime Cartoon: During World War II, Popeye (re)enlisted in the Navy and delivered all kinds of cartoon smackdown on stunningly racist depictions of the Japanese in the Pacific theatre.
  • Weapons Breaking Weapons:
    • "Choose Your Weppins": Popeye, after taking his spinach, duels with the villain and cuts his sword to pieces (and then some).
    • "Parlez-Vous Woo": Popeye duels a disguised Bluto for Olive's hand. Eventually, Bluto manages to split Popeye's blade with the tip of his sword, but it regains its original shape after Popeye eats his spinach.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Popeye's voice has a very distinctive accent of unclear origin.
  • Why Won't You Die?: A crook and conman shoots Popeye fifteen times, but he refuses to go down.
  • Wicked Witch: The Sea Hag, a cadaverous old woman who menaced ships and stalked Popeye. She was said to have "a face that sank a thousand ships." Her slave, Alice the Goon, was a terrifying figure who reportedly gave kids nightmares, until Segar revealed that Alice only worked for the Sea Hag because the Sea Hag was holding her baby hostage. Rescued by Popeye, Alice became Swee'Pea's babysitter. The Sea Hag had a crush on Wimpy, and among other things once made him grow to giant size.
  • Wild Take: Olive Oyl's eyes bulging out when she notices just how high she and Bluto are on the roller coaster as she looks down in "Abusement Park".
  • William Telling: "William Won't Tell" has Popeye as William Tell forced to shoot a very tiny apple off Olive Oyl's head for refusing to remove his hat before the king. Popeye uses a trick arrow to spear the tiny apple but it boomerangs around and removes his hat to reveal what he did not intend—a kiss on his forehead, bestowed upon him by the Queen for helping her in a time of need.
  • Win Her a Prize: Olive Oyl has Popeye and Bluto win her prizes on various occasions.
  • With Friends Like These...: Wimpy certainly qualifies.
  • Women Prefer Strong Men: A central trope throughout all of the cartoons, with Popeye and Bluto trying to perform greater feats of strength to impress Olive Oyl.
  • World of Jerkass: Glaringly applicable to Segar's original strip, in which the primary repository of comedy stems from the juxtaposition between Popeye's relatively consistent (if oft-impetuous and uninformed) humanitarian values and the blatant-yet-innocent narcissism of the universe he inhabits: the vast majority of the individuals surrounding him are prone to vehemently pursuing blatantly shallow aims through destructive and impulsive means; they're likewise swiftly swayed by any potential offerings of short-term monetary acquisitions or (ostensible) emotional gratification, enabling them to violently shift motives between consecutive panels. This is even more intensely exemplified by the strip's pre-Popeye run, which, lacking any defined moral center, squarely focalizes the shamelessly acquisitive Castor Oyl and the dysfunctional but inexplicably long-running romance between Olive Oyl and Ham Gravy, with the supporting and tertiary cast following suit: a 1924 storyline, most notably, features Olive losing an entire fortune acquired in colonial Africa through the president of her bank spontaneously "busting" its vaults and stealing the entirety of his own clients' wealth.
  • World's Strongest Man: Popeye: once he gets his fill of spinach, he can outpunch and outbrawl anything in the world.
    • In "Spinach Packin' Popeye", Popeye dreamed he'd lost a boxing match by knockout, and that Olive Oyl dumped him because he was therefore now a "weakling." When he awoke, he ran over to Olive's house to prove himself, and lifted the entire house into the air. Without eating spinach first!
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Humorously subverted. While Popeye is too much of a gentleman to hit a woman, that doesn't prevent Olive Oyl from fighting a female villain for him. One notable incident had Popeye and Olive Oyl both consuming spinach at the same time to fight Bluto and the Sea Hag, respectively.
    • No matter how evil the Sea Hag may be, Popeye refuses to hit her because she is a woman.
      • Somewhat subverted in the Japanese SNES game "Popeye: Ijiwaru Majo Seahag no Maki (Popeye: Tale of the Sea Hag)" where she is the final boss. After the Sea Hag turns Wimpy, Alice the Goon, Castor Oyl, Eugene the Jeep, Swee'Pea and Olive into stone statues after taking out their hearts and scattering the pieces of their hearts over five islands, Popeye faces her in a final battle. He's armed with a anchor-and-chain that he can throw to tag the Sea Hag while dodging her magic. Once she's tagged enough, she drops a can of spinach, and she loses to Popeye. Olive is returned to normal, it takes Olive to calm Popeye down, since the Sea Hag's plan was one step too far.
    • In another episode Bluto dresses as a woman specifically because he knows Popeye won't fight back, and proceeds to try to humiliate Popeye at the woman's gym he's working at by out-doing him and taking cheap shots at him. But once Popeye finds out it's Bluto and not a woman doing this to him, it's on.
    • Subverted by Popeye at the ends of "Wild Elephinks", "Shiver Me Timbers", "Brotherly Love", and "Ghosks Is The Bunk" though those were only accidents. The same goes in one early Sunday strip where Popeye was asleep and thought Olive was an enemy of his and slapped Olive in the "Clint Gore" story arc for saying bad things to him. Of course, that was before he was toned down in 1934.
    • Also subverted by Pappy in one strip.
      • During the arc that introduced Alice the Goon, Popeye beats her up during the fight, however this happens before he learns her gender.
  • Zany Scheme: Before Popeye was introduced, the strip mostly revolved around Castor's get rich quick schemes. In fact, Popeye was introduced because Castor needed a sailor to sail a ship out to a casino.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Thimble Theater


Olive Oyl for President

The short presents Congress as a room full of arguing donkeys and elephants (Democrats and Republicans, respectively) — for every proposal that Olive presents, the donkeys say, "We accept it!" in unison, and the elephants scream, "We reject it!" in response.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / StrawCharacter

Media sources: