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Franchise / Madagascar

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Madagascar is a DreamWorks Animation franchise about various Civilized Animals from New York. The main series is about a group of zoo animals who escape into the wild and accidentally end up in Madagascar.

The series has also spun-off into The Penguins of Madagascar, a series starring the breakout penguin characters.


Western Animation Shorts and Specials:

Western Animation Shows:

Video Games:


Franchise-wide Examples:

  • Accidental Misnaming:
    • No, Makunga, his name's Bob, not Shirley.
    • Stefano keeps calling Alex "Alice".
  • Alter Kocker: The old lady, Nana, complete with Vampire Vords.
  • Ambiguously Gay: King Julien up until the second film where asks all of his subjects which one is attracted to him. The third film gives him a canon girlfriend, Sonya the Bear, thus making him Ambiguously Bi.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The level of technology seen throughout the series is kept rather low, while Freeze-Frame Bonus in the second movie seem to imply the present plot is set in the '80s, another one in the third movie implies the setting is present day. Confusing things further is Penguins of Madagascar, which ditches the retro aesthetic entirely and displays futuristic looking technology.
  • Animal Gender-Bender: Lemur groups in real life are ruled by females, though Maurice pointed out that Julien's title is a self-proclaimed one.
  • Animal Talk: Oddly, it's never made clear if Alex understands the concept that humans can't understand him, as he talks to them like he expects to be heard in all three movies.
  • Anthropomorphic Zig-Zag: The animal characters go between walking on all fours to walking like human beings like it's nobody's business.
  • Art Evolution: It's a little noticeable as the films progress. The penguins have a pretty visible change in design; where their beaks and feet are a brighter color orange and brighter color white as well, as well as their black feathers are more "shinier" than in their previous appearances.
    • The shading in the first film was pretty good, but there was a minimalistic amount of motion blur, making the characters’ movements somewhat jerky. However in the second film, there's more motion blur, making them more smoother.
  • Artifact Title:
    • The second film starts in Madagascar, and has nothing else to do with it.
    • The third film has nothing to do with Madagascar, except that at the end of the film, Captain Chantel, along with three officers, are sent to Madagascar. Ditto for the spinoff movie and TV series (yes, we mean the television series, not the Netflix one).
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Skipper, the penguin's leader.
  • Ax-Crazy:
  • Bamboo Technology:
    • Marty's house in the first movie, and the plane in the second movie does it twice.
    • The (rebuilt) plane (more like an autogyro) reappears in the third film but ends up completely totaled with no hope for repair.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The Central Theme of the entire series. Marty wants to go to the Wild (aka Connecticut), the penguins want to go to Antarctica, Marty wants to belong to a herd of zebras, Gloria wants to have children and the "core four" want to return to the Central Park Zoo in the second and third films. None of it pans out for them, save for Melman carrying a torch for Gloria.
  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: In the first two films, a little elderly lady named Nana brutally beats up Alex, calling him a "bad kitty".
  • Breakout Character:
    • The Penguins, who got their own short, and later an animated series and a spinoff film.
    • King Julien, as well as Maurice and Mort by association, who manages to join the penguins in their animated series (taking Alex's place in the Zoo, no less) and later his own animated series.
  • Butt-Monkey: Mort. Even more so in the television spinoff.
  • Call-Back: Remember in the first movie when Alex said being stranded in Madagascar was the worst thing to ever happen to them? Try watching the end of the third movie.
    Alex: Leaving the zoo was the best thing to ever happen to us.
    Marty: Really?
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The plane. It appears first during the lemurs' meeting in the first film, then shows up again in the second film where it's used to get the main characters to Africa and then appears again later. It then appears a final time in the third film.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • "When we need water, we build a dam!"
    • Not to mention the bite marks on Marty's butt from the first film, which Alex uses to tell the difference between him and the rest of the herd of identical zebras in the second.
    • The diamonds and gold found in the second movie become more useful in the third movie.
    • "Trapeze Americano".
  • The Chew Toy: Alex and Melman have their moments, especially in the first movie.
  • Christmas Special: A Christmas Caper and Merry Madagascar.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: King Julien, ever so much.
  • Cloudcuckoolanguage: King Julien is a crazy, party-loving, self-obsessed lemur who has Malaproper tendencies.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Zuba and Florrie disappear from the franchise after the second film due to the death of Zuba’s actor Bernie Mac.
  • Cool Old Lady: The little old woman from the first movie, who beats up a lion while everyone else is running in terror. She returns in the second, and actually contrives to become even more dangerous. She is present in the penguins' special, too, but lacking Alex she has no fighting scene.
  • Denser and Wackier: Goes further in this direction with every new movie.
  • Shown Their Work: All of Phil's sign language throughout the franchise is accurate, American Sign Language - Mason's interpretation isn't always perfect but it is suitably close enough to count.
    • Melman's will in the sand in the first movie is an accurate, legal and binding will.
  • Disney Acid Sequence:
    • Alex's Mushroom Samba from the first movie, when he's hit by a tranquilizing dart (set to the Sammy Davis, Jr. cover of "The Candy Man").
    • In the third movie, the circus performance is very trippy, with colorful flashing lights in front of a dark background, and animals flying around in all directions. It's hard to tell what is actually happening on-stage and what is just imagination.
  • Drives Like Crazy: The Penguins, whether by land, air or sea. Of course animals can't drive, but the Penguins themselves seem to take delight in pulling this trope.
    (Madagascar 2) Skipper: "When it comes to air travel, we know you have no choice whatsoever, but thanks again for choosing Penguin Air."
    (Madagascar 3) Skipper: "No brakes?!" (Looks at Kowalski, who smiles and shrugs) "Well, way to commit, soldier!"
  • Drugs Causing Slow-Motion:
    • In the first film, when Alex the Lion gets hit in the butt with a tranquilizer dart, his voice progressively slows down as he enters a Mushroom Samba.
    • In the third film, when animal control officer Dubois shoots King Julien the Lemur in the butt with a tranquilizer dart, he starts speaking in slow-motion.
  • Elderly Blue-Haired Lady: Not literally, but the Penguins identify that old woman by the codename "Bluehair".
  • Fat and Skinny:
    • King Julien and Maurice. Somewhat inverted because the fat one is the Straight Man.
    • Gloria and Melman count as well.
  • Female Gaze:
    • Done quite disturbingly in Moto Moto's entrance.
    • The way the camera lingers on Vitaly as he douses himself in oil/mane conditioner for his act is... suggestive.
  • Foreshadowing: In Merry Madagascar, which was made after the second movie, but takes place before it, Gloria and Melman get some light Ship Tease to build up to their future relationship they start in the second one.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Spider: In the first movie, Alex finds a big hairy spider on his shoulders. The only thing the spider does is give him a big friendly smile and a cheery "Well, howdy-do", but Alex freaks out anyway.
  • Genial Giraffe: Melman the giraffe is one of the main protagonists. He's high-strung but sweet, and The Heart of the team. He even eventually hooks up with Gloria the hippo!
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!:
    • Alex in the first film: "Darn you! Darn you all to heck!"
    • Done again by Vitaly in the third film: "That's bolshevik!"
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Maurice.
  • Interquel:
    • Merry Madagascar takes place between the first and second movies.
    • Madly Madagascar takes place between the second and third movies.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • In the sequel, Melman reveals he has feelings for Gloria. By the end of the movie, it's mutual. In third movie we get Julien and Sonya, and Alex and Gia.
    • At least Alex and Gia are both felines.
    • In Merry Madagascar there is Private and Cupid.
  • Jive Turkey: Marty the Zebra is the only one of the group to use street slang.
  • Keet: Alex is really hyperactive, especially in the first one. So much that Skipper refers to him as "that psychotic lion". This is probably a gag on that Alex called the penguins psychotic earlier.
  • Large Ham: King Julien XIII.
  • Leitmotif: Several of the characters/character groups seem to have their own theme:
    • King Julien has "I Like To Move It Move It" (which is also the series's theme).
    • Mort has this dorky "La La La La La" song.
    • Moto Moto has "I Like Them Big, I Like Them Chunky".
    • Alex has "Alex The Lion" & "The Traveling Song". He also shares a Love Theme with Gia the Jaguar, "Love Comes As A Surprise".
    • The Penguins as a theme done in the style of Mission: Impossible, James Bond, or spy flicks in general.
    • The Chimps have a goofy, bouncy theme that can only be described as "fun-loving mayhem".
    • Makunga has a throbbing, dark, ominous, villainous bad guy theme.
    • Nana has the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly....polka-style (being a stereotypical Jewish granny Alter Kocker and all).
    • Vitaly has this cool, deep, Russian choir of deep, manly voices.
    • Chantell DuBois has this really swanky & vampish tango music.
  • Male Gaze:
    • When DuBois is sniffing out the animals in Monte Carlo, one of her men can't help but get a good look at her as she's crawling around. Another officer notices this and smacks him.
    • Done a lot with Gloria. They don't even try to hide her rear end!
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Gloria and Melman.
  • Meaningful Echo: Alex says to Marty, "I'm thinking of a song. It's a wonderful song. I think you're familiar with it." Then after singing, the first verse of New York, New York, Alex says, "C'mon, you know the words. Two little words." Later, Marty says and does the same thing after he tells Alex, who is on the fossa side of the island so that he can protect Marty and the others from himself, that he's not leaving without him.
    • It becomes a Tranqed Mid Sentence, and he hams it up with an imitation Russian accent, but it's still pretty meaningful when Alex echoes Vitaly's Badass Boast: "We go back and we show them how wrong we were... and if we go down in flames... so be it!" (The first part also echoes Alex's intended rebuke for the penguins in Monte Carlo, "show them how wrong they were (for leaving us)".)
  • Meaningful Name:
    • According to the November 2008 issue of National Geographic Kids, "Moto Moto" in an African language (they didn't say which one, possibly Swahili) does mean "hot hot".
    • Vitaly's name is one letter away from "vital" and he is The Heart of the circus. "As Vitaly goes, so does the circus."
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Good God, the Penguins are so full of this that it's ridiculous. Wait, that was the whole point, wasn't it?
  • Mushroom Samba: Alex has two of them when he is shot in the hand by a tranquilizer dart.
  • Musical Slapstick Montage: In the first film, a montage of Alex suffering due to the wild on the island plays, to the sound of "What a Wonderful World".
  • Never Say "Die": Averted across the first two movies, though principally (if not always) with Ineffectual Death Threats.
  • No Cartoon Fish:
    • The fish are the only non-anthropomorphic animals in the entire first film, and thus the only things predators can eat without feeling guilty.
    • Averted in the second film, with the screaming fish at the watering hole.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Melman the giraffe seems to be a parody of Woody Allen, if being nerdy, neurotic, and Ambiguously Jewish is any indication.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries:
    • Surprisingly averted in a film where hippos can walk on their back legs.
    • In the third film, however, Gia the jaguar has a body shape that certainly suggests breasts.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Skipper.
  • Official Couple: By the end of the second movie, Melman and Gloria. This carries over into the third movie, though very little is done with it, aside from a few pet names and their duo tightrope act.
  • Older Than They Look: Mort. Word of God says that Mort is actually 35. The scene revealing this was cut out. This takes him from cute to downright creepy.
  • Only Sane Man: Maurice - although not by a whole lot. He has a tendency to agree with King Julien on a lot of his majesty's crazy ideas.
  • Out of Focus: Melman and Gloria have a substantial amount of lines and screen time in the third film, but the story mostly focuses on Alex and the circus folk, with the Penguins, Julien, and the police having their own subplots. Marty also suffers from this a little, but he fares better than Melman and Gloria.
  • Overly-Long Gag: Anything Julien says feels like this.
    Talking to crowd: What does that do? Excellent question. First, my sacrifice goes in the volcano. Then, the friendly gods eat up my sacrifice.
    As water god: Mmm, very nice. Thank you for the sacrifice.
    As Julien: Here, have another sacrifice.
    As water god: No, I've had enough for today.
    As Julien: Listen, I'm going to be very insulted if you don't take another.
    As water god: I don't want another sacrifice, okay?
    As Julien: But look at you! You look skinny!
    As water god: No! I've had enough! Is that clear?
    • Gia's shooting down of Alex's somewhat delusional belief the circus animals saw him as an intimidating leader partakes of this too.
  • Overly Long Name: King Julien's full name.
  • Parental Bonus:
  • Prequel:
    • A Christmas Caper takes place shortly before the first movie.
    • All Hail King Julien is presumably set several years before the first movie. And even ends on the night Alex and co arrive on Madagascar.
  • Reference Overdosed: The first movie especially. There's an estimated average of one pop culture joke every 20 seconds.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Mort the lemur.
  • Robinsonade
  • Rule of Funny: More and more with the series. Why can Marty soar through the air in the 3rd movie? Because it's hilarious.
  • Running on All Fours: Lampshaded by Marty.
  • Sapient Eat Sapient: Not only does the first movie play with Alex's awakening carnivorous nature, the second has a group of humans nearly ready to eat Alex himself before he reveals he's a famous lion.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Gloria is voiced to sound like one.
  • Saving Christmas: Merry Madagascar.
  • Scenery Porn: Quite a lot of it, particularly the scene where Julien shows them "paradise".
  • Soft Glass:
    • The old lady flying through the jeep's windscreen. Though this is the same woman who can hold her own against lions, and survived the same jeep knocking her over.
    • The Zoosters also fall unscathed through a skylight in Europe's Most Wanted.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • In the first film, "What a Wonderful World" plays while Alex flees his friends and his friends (elsewhere) see various animals getting eaten as they take a walk.
      • This is somewhat justified in that the music itself is more melancholic than you would anticipate from the text.
    • Later, in the midst of Alex chasing Marty down to eat him, the National Geographic Fanfare is played.
    • Another during the second movie. While Alex is fighting the old lady, a fast polka version of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly's theme is played.
      • It's reprised at the end when Nana (the old lady) beats up Makunga.
    • Also in Escape 2 Africa, the plane rescue of Alex has "Copacabana" playing.
    • And in Escape 2 Africa, the jeep the penguins steal has a tape that plays "More Than A Feeling".
    • In the third film, Enya's Watermark plays during Sonya and Julien's Falling-in-Love Montage.
  • Species Subversives: The series subverts several animal tropes. Alex the Lion is hardly brave or powerful (proud on the other hand...) Marty, the Zebra is the farthest thing from elegant, noble, and hard-working (although he is really stereotypically black). Gloria is far from a lazy, slobby hippo. The Penguins are the farthest thing you'll ever get from clumsy, and they don't even like cold weather.
  • Spell My Name With An S: King Julien, not Julian.
  • Spinoff: Penguins of Madagascar, which is justified in that Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman's stories were more or less wrapped up in a neat bow.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In the third movie, both DuBois and Vitaly comment on Alex's "glossy mane".
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land:
    • The first film implies this to be the reason why the penguins didn't stay within Antarctica like what they originally wanted, especially as Penguins of Madagascar reveals they were born there.
    • By the third film, Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman finally complete The Homeward Journey. Unfortunately, their adventures throughout the series made them unfit at the Central Park Zoo. To make things worse, they're apprehended and trapped there with increased security measures, and the animal control officer who captured them still wants them dead. Fortunately, their friends come to their rescue, and in the end Alex and the gang decide they belong in a touring circus.
  • Translation Convention: See Animal Talk above.
    • In Europe's Most Wanted, American characters can't hear what Chantel DuBois is saying, and she doesn't seem to have a clue what they're saying, either.
  • Tranquillizer Dart: In the first and third movies.
  • Take That!:
    Julien: Hmm, New York. It's kind of a dump. Are you sure we're not in New Jersey?
    • In the third movie:
    Alex: Are you kidding?! I don't drive, I'm a New Yorker!
  • Tastes Like Chicken: The little old lady says lions do.
  • Those Two Guys:
    • King Julien and Maurice.
    • Maurice and Mort in the third film.
    • Also, the chimpanzee duo Phil and Mason.
  • True Companions: Over the course of the movies, the zoosters eventually form a close group throughout their travels. The group starts off with four members in Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman, and later expands to include the penguins and chimps (as of the end of the first movie), King Julian, Maurice and Mort (as of the second movie) and the circus animals (as of the third movie).
  • Walking Disaster Area: Dear God, yes. Alex, Marty and the penguins in particular can't seem to not cause widespread damage, though in the penguins' case, they really don't care (and enjoy it, too.)
  • When Elders Attack: Nana, the little old lady.
  • White-Tailed Reindeer: The reindeer in the Christmas special Merry Madagascar are designed to be small, petite, and adorable. Doesn't stop their leader, Donner, from being a tough and angry veteran with a thick Russian accent.