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Literature / The Moomins

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First created as a series of Swedish-language children's books by Finland-Swedish author Tove Jansson, Moomin is a well-loved franchise starring the hippo-like Moomins, who live in Moominvalley and have adventures with their friends. The cast of characters is varied, ranging from childlike humanoids to creatures from all over the world. The books themselves are surreal, often scary, somewhat philosophical, and very interactive. Following the success of the books, the franchise was extended into a comic strip, a string-puppet show, a live-action suit series, a stop-motion animated series, multiple stage plays, three animes, and an animated film, (Moomins on the Riviera). The most recent adaptation is Moominvalley, a CGI animated series for Sky (13 half-hour episodes, premiering in the UK over Easter of 2019, followed by 5 over Christmas 2019 and 8 over Easter 2020, making a total of 26 so far).


Moomintroll, the youthful main character, is the son of Moominmamma and Moominpappa. His friends include Sniff (a mouse/kangaroo-like creature), Snufkin (a carefree and wise wanderer, and Moomintroll's best friend), the Snork Maiden (Moomintroll's egotistical girlfriend), her brother the Snork (who became a bumbling genius in the 90s anime to make up for his complete lack of personality), Little My (the bratty and practical half-sister of Snufkin), the Mymble (her older sister, sometimes called the Mymble's daughter to distinguish her from their mother, also called the Mymble) and a cast of thousands composed of Fillyjonks, Hemulens, Park Keepers, Tofts, Hattifatteners and one big ol' Groke — the monstrous personification of winter depression.

The first few books were surreal, charming adventure stories for kids, which gradually became darker and more adult. The change culminated in the final book in which Snufkin, Mymble, Toft, Grandpa Grumble and the Fillyjonk hang around at the Moominhouse waiting for the absent Moomins (whom Moominpappa has whisked off to live in a lighthouse due to a sudden mid-life crisis). The change in genre accounts for the large cult fanbase. Today, the series is still huge in both Finland and Japan, and the franchise is still very much alive.

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    Books in this series 

Main Books

  • Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen / Moomintrolls and the Great Flood (1945) The very first entry in the series. This short, fairly-tale like story focuses on Moominamma and her tiny son Moomintroll going on a big journey in search of the long-lost Moominpappa.
  • Kometjakten / Comet in Moominland (1946) After the events of the previous book, the Moomin family happily settle down in their new Moominhouse, until a mysterious comet appears in the sky one day and sets off another adventure.
  • Trollkarlens hatt / Finn Family Moomintroll (1948) A more gentle series of events taking place across a spring and summer. The moomins awaken from hibernation and find a mysterious hat, which leads to other interesting experiences.
  • Muminpappans bravader / The Exploits of Moominpappa (1950) Written mainly from Moominpappa's point of view, telling the story of his grand youth to the children, and introduces the fathers of Sniff and Snufkin.
  • Farlig midsommar/ Moominsummer Madness (1954) After another flood sweeps the family away from Moominhouse, they turn up at floating theatre whose owner is putting on something called a "play".
  • Trollvinter / Moominland Midwinter (1957) Where the series begins to take a Cerebus Syndrome turn; Moomintroll becomes the first moomin to wake from hibernation, and finds himself in a cold, confusing, and unforgiving world of winter.
  • Det osynliga barnet / Tales from Moominvalley (1962) A series of short stories giving A Day in the Limelight to some of Moominvalley's characters. Perhaps best known for the story The Invisible Child, about a little girl who has faded away due to neglect.
  • Pappan och have / Moominpappa at Sea (1965) Dissatisfied with life, Moominpappa ups sticks and takes his family to live on an abandoned lighthouse on an island far at sea, where they adjust to their new life. The last main series story to contain the Moomins themselves.
  • Sent i november / Moominvalley in November (1970) The final book in the main series. With the Moomins away, several beasts who made their way to Moominhouse for various reasons move in, reflecting on the family and themselves.

Picture Books

As well as the main series, there were also four picture books released, which focused more on Jansson's illustrative work than the story.

  • The Book About Moomin, Mymble, and Little My (1952) On his way home from an errand, Moomintroll encounters the Mymble's Daughter, who is looking for her sister, Little My. The book is written in rhyming verse, and was given an animated adaption in 1995.
  • Who Will Comfort Toffle? (1960) A lonely toffle goes on a long search to find friendship. Similarly to above, it's also written in rhyming verse and received an animated adaptation in 1980.
  • The Dangerous Journey (1977) Instead of a resident of the valley, this story focuses instead a bored human girl named Susanna, who finds herself transported into Moominland.
  • Villian in the Moominhouse (1980) Almost every Moomin character is Back for the Finale in the last entry of the original Moomin stories, as Little My tries to find the source of a strange person in Moominhouse. The only one not translated so far, and unique in that the images are photographs of a diorama created by Jansson and her partner arranged in different scenes, rather than illustrations.

    Adaptations of The Moomins 


  • Moomin, a series of Newspaper Comics which ran from 1954 to 1975 by Tove and Lars Jansson. A total of 73 stories were written.

TV adaptations:

  • Die Muminfamilie (The Moomin Family) (1959): A German puppet show based on Finn Family Moomintroll and Moominsummer Madness.
  • Mūmin (1969-1970): The first anime adaptation of The Moomins, and part of World Masterpiece Theater. Aimed at an older audience, it diverges from the books in many ways.
  • Mumintrollet (Moomintroll) (1969): The first Live-Action Adaptation of The Moomins. It is not based on any book, and instead features an original story about a king who attempts to civilize the Moomin family, only to find himself drawn into their lifestyle. Nowadays, this series is most notable for the actors removing the heads on their suits during the second episodes, meaning that the Moomins have normal human heads for most of the show; this was due to the suits being too cumbersome, as well as to give the actors recognition.
  • Shin Mūmin (New Moomin) (1972): After Mūmin's infamously poor reception from Tove herself due to the many differences compared to the source material, a second World Masterpiece Theater series was made, this time aiming to follow the books more faithfully.
  • Mumindalen (Moominvalley) (1973): A second Live-Action Adaptation. It is the 1973 edition of the Sveriges Television's Christmas calendar, basically a televised advent calendar where one episode a day airs in December, ending on Christmas Eve. Adapts stories from Moominland Midwinter, Finn Family Moomintroll, and Tales from Moominvalley.
  • The Moomins (1977-1982): A Polish felt cutout Stop Motion adaptation. Affectionately nicknamed "The Fuzzy Felt Moomins" by fans.
  • Tanoshii Mūmin Ikka (Delightful Moomin Family) (1990-1992): The second anime adaptation, and one of the most well-known. Much more faithful than the first anime, it received a second season titled Tanoshii Mūmin Ikka: Bōken Nikki (Delightful Moomin Family: Adventure Diary).
  • Moominvalley (2019-present): A Finnish-British All-CGI Cartoon adaptation of The Moomins.

Films and short films:

  • Mumi-troll (Moomin-troll) (1978): Three short films made in the USSR, based on Comet in Moominland.
  • The Fillyjonk who Believed in Disaster (1978): A short film based on the story of the same name.
  • Who Will Comfort Toffle? (1980): A short film based on the picture book of the same name.
  • Magician's Hat (1980-1983): A three-part paper cutout Stop Motion series made in the USSR. Notable for dramatically changing the character designs (for example, giving Snufkin a beak and making Moomintroll ginger).
  • Comet in Moominland (1992): Part of the 1990 Tanoshii Mūmin Ikka anime adaptation, and based on the book of the same name.
  • The Book About Moomin, Mymble, and Little My (1993): Another short film based on the picture book.
  • Փոքրիկ տրոլների կյանքից (Life of the Little Trolls) (2008): An Armenian CG-animated short film based on the story "The Last Dragon in the World" from Tales from Moominvalley.
  • Three Compilation Movies of the "Fuzzy Felt" series, using restored footage and a redone soundtrack:
    • Moomins and Midsummer Madness (2008)
    • Moomins and the Comet Chase (2010)
    • Moomins and the Winter Wonderland (2017)
  • Moomins on the Riviera (2014): Based on a story from the comics.

Video games

  • Jidō Eiken Taiō Mūmin to Eigo: Tanjōbi no Okurimono (1995): An Edutainment Game based on the 1990 anime, which aims to teach English to Japanese children.
  • Suuri Muumijuhla ("The Great Moomin Festival", 1996): A Minigame Game developed by TATI Mixedia, released in Finnish and Swedish.
  • Moomin's Tale (Mūmin no Daibōken) (1999): A Platform Game for the Game Boy Color, based on the 1990 anime.
  • Muumipappa kalassa ("Moominpappa Fishing", early 2000's): A Flash game developed by RedLynx Interactive.
  • Moomin - Welcome to Moominvalley (2015): A Mobile Phone Game by Poppin Games where the residents of Moominvalley tend to a farm and collect items and decorations.
  • Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley (2022): A Music Adventure game starring Snufkin.
  • A series of Finland-exclusive Minigame Games for PC, developed by Norsk Strek AS:
    • Muumit piilosilla ("Moomins Playing Hide-and-Seek", 1995): A Nibling comes to visit Moonminvalley, and the player must find it in a variety of scenes.
    • Muumit meren aalloilla ("Moomins on the Waves of the Sea", 1996): The Moomins take their ship for a spin on the sea.
    • Muumit ja Taikurin hattu ("Moomins and the Hobgoblin's Hat", 1997): A continuation of Finn Family Moomintroll, in which the player must locate the nine pieces of the King's Ruby after it broke apart.
    • Muumit ja näkymätön lapsi ("Moomins and the Invisible Child", 1999): A loose adaptation of The Invisible Child.
    • Muumit ja Taikatalvi ("Moomins and the Magical Winter", 2000): A loose adaptation of Moominland Midwinter.
    • Muumit ja Taikalamppu ("Moomins and the Magical Lamp", 2001): A loose adaptation of the episode 33 "The Spirit in the Lamp" of the 1990 anime.
    • Muumit ja salaperäiset huudot ("Moomins and the Mysterious Screams", 2006): An original story, though apparently inspired by episode 39 of the 1990 anime. Was also released for the Nintendo DS in 2009.
    • Muumit ja suuri syysjuhla ("Moomins and the Great Autumn Festival", 2007): An original story in which the Moomins prepare for a festival with the help of the player. Was also released for the Nintendo DS in 2010.

    Tropes exclusive to the 1969 - 72 anime: 

Nee Mumin, kocchi muite...

The first animated adaptation of the Moomins. It debuted on Fuji Television in 1969 and ran until 1970, with 65 episodes. This was followed by a sequel series, known as "Shin Mūmin" or "New Moomin", in 1972, with a further 52 episodes.

Both versions are infamous for author Tove Jansson's less than favourable views on it, and were never aired outside of Japan as a result, but was nevertheless a big hit for the audience.

The 1969-1972 series provides examples of...

  • Adaptation Distillation: Though the 1969 series does adapt elements from the books, there is no continuity between them and a good amount of the episodes are original plots. The sequel series takes more cues from the books, but is still episodic.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • The Moomins are gray rather than white in this version — Moominmamma and Moominpappa are a darker shade of gray, while Moomin himself is a lighter shade of gray. In the 1972 revamp he's become even lighter, but still not the pure white of the original.
    • The Snorks are green, though this might be a reference to the original Comet in Moominland book where they change color based on their emotions and Snork Maiden was introduced as "pale green." This is definitely the only version where her fringe is pink, though.
    • Mymble's hair is green in this version, as opposed to other incarnations where she has the same red hair as Little My.
  • Adaptational Name Change: Rather than a direct translation, "Snorkfröken/Snorkmaiden" became "Non-non", the first of her name changes in the anime adaptations.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: Pretty much all the characters get hit with this to some extent. Their roles and basic character types remain mostly the same, but many of their traits have been drastically altered.
    • One of the most noticable ones is Little My, who has gone from a fiercely independent and cheerfully angry troublemaker to an overemotional Bratty Half-Pint. While she will sometimes depict shades of her original independence and go-getter attitude, she's played up much more as a helpless child who needs other to take care of her. She even cries frequently, which the original Little My never did.
    • The Moomins themselves are still basically the friendly, hospitable sort, but Moomin has become more of a misbehaving Bratty Half-Pint (though not to the extent of Little My), while Moominpappa and Moominmamma are stricter and not as lenient.
    • The prize for most changed character, though, has to go to the Groke, who's a fully voiced character and isn't even presented as scary.
  • Art Evolution: The series goes through four distinct styles. Firstly, there's the pilot, where the moomins are drawn very lumpy with wide, long snouts compared to their later slimmer bodies. Sniff also has smaller ears than in the series proper, and Snufkin is drawn much shorter with a dark outfit and white scarf, instead of his yellow and red one.
    • The first 26 episodes were originally produced by TMS Entertainment. Tove Jansson's criticisms of the series led to the original director being fired, and the series being passed to another studio, Mushi Productions (beginning with episode 27) , for the remainder of its run.
      • The style shifted again when the series returned in 1972, under the same studio.
  • Ascended Extra: An interesting example: while Sorry-oo is a sapient minor character seen only in Moominland Midwinter and The Dangerous Journey, this series turns him into Moomin's pet dog, with frequent appearances.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Little My, who goes from one of the older, strong-headed, and independent characters of the series, to a helpless, angry child under the care of her older sister, Mymble.
    In one episode, she accidentally burns down their house and allows Snufkin to take the blame, then cries when caught. In another, she throws a tantrum because she doesn't have a (golden) tail like Moomin's.
    • Moomin in this series is also far more brash than his book counterpart. While he retains the friendliness and curiosity of the original, he's far more impulsive, self-centred, explosive, and isn't above pranking others.
  • Cowboy Episode: In the 1969 episode "The Gunman of Deserted Mountain", when three outlaws come to Moominvalley in search of gold.
  • Darker and Edgier: One of the primary reasons for Tove's dislike of the series, which she created specifically to escape the harsh realities of the real world. In this version, everything feels a little darker, a little crueler, with the inhabitants of the valley acting noticably more petty, hasty, and intolerant. Characters even visibly bleed on multiple occasions.
  • Leitmotif: Snufkin's signature song, "Osabishiyama no Uta", which he's often introduced as singing or playing on his guitar in both series. An instrumental version is used for background music whenever appears in a scene.
  • Trip to the Moon Plot: Naturally, for a show from 1969. Snork builds a balloon for Moomin to float up to the moon in, who spends the episode exploring what looks suspiciously looks like Moominvalley.
  • The Stoic: Snufkin, even more so in the sequel series, where he rarely shows any emotions good or bad. There are only two occasions where something moves him enough to shed Manly Tears, both relating to Moomin showing him kindness.
  • You Don't Look Like You: Snufkin is usually illustrated as wearing green clothes and a matching hat, as well as being the same height as Moomin. Here, he's noticeably much taller, with a brown hat and yellow clothes. Also he plays a guitar instead of a harmonica.
    • Snork also looks distinctly different, with a large head of curly blonde hair, and no glasses.
    • Not to mention Moominmama and Moominpapa, who are now both a darker shade of grey compared to moomin's pure white.

    Tropes exclusive to the 1990 anime: 

The second anime adaptation of the Moomins, and arguably the most internationally well-known version of the series. It aired in 1990 and ran for one season of 78 episodes, and like the earlier anime, resulted in a sequel series titled 'Bouken Nikki/Adventure Diary', which ran for 26.

The show was a huge success, being dubbed in to at least 20 different languages, and frequently repeated far into the early '00s in a number of countries. Interestingly, the show never made it to the States, only broadcasting in the region of Hawaii.

The existence of this series helped create the second "Moomin Boom" through the '90s, after its initial surge of popularity in the '50s. It spawned one film, an adaptation of Comet in Moominland, and multiple video game releases based on the continuity of the show.

As of 2020, all episodes of the first series are available to watch on the official Moomin youtube channel.

The 1990 series provides examples of...

  • Accent Adaptation: In the Swedish dub, almost every character speaks in a Finnswedish dialect.
  • Adaptational Name Change: Snorkmaiden is once again given a different name, this time it's "Floren".
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the comics, Stinky is just a petty criminal who gets along with the Moomins. Here, he's the show's closest thing to a recurring antagonist, but more of the jerk variety.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Swedish opening song is much different from the Japanese opening song.
  • Badass Baritone: The countries who dubbed Comet in Moominland each tried this for the Muskrat, but none did more badassely than the Norwegian version, where he was dubbed by Harald Mæle; hear it for yourself here.
  • Barely Changed Dub Name: The late 90s dub for the former Yugoslav countries, which was done in Bosnia and Herzegovina under Finnish supervision, slightly altered the name of the species to "Mumies" (Mumijevi) to avoid running afoul of somebody confusing "Mumini" for "muslimani"invoked, which was the former ethnic name of what's now mostly considered to be the Bosniaks. Given what happened there this is no surprise.
  • Bookends: The first season both begins and ends with Moomins hibernating in the winter.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • Poland cut some scenes in Bouken Nikki:
      • In episode 80, Sniff falls in love with a girl who loves flowers very much, so he gives her a bouquet. However, she slaps him in the face and calls him out because she believes he killed the flowers; the slap was cut.
      • In episode 84, Little My was saved by the Groke from the burning forest and then is found by the Moomins, Sniff, Snork Maiden and Snufkin. After she tells them about the rescue, the screen pans up and Groke's voice can be heard; this was also removed.
    • In the original Japanese dub when the Groke first appears, Moominpappa threatens to shoot her if she won't leave, and Moomintroll and Moominmamma say that they will hit her head. Other dubs changed this to them saying that she is upsetting Thingumy and Bob and freezing Moominmamma's roses.
    • The original version of the episode "The Pirates" contains a close-up of Little My biting the pirate's hand after he kidnaps Snorkmaiden. For some reason, every other dub cuts this scene.
    • In the French dub, episodes 6,7 and 22, the Groke has a bizarre, growling voice. In episode 37 it was changed to a much milder one.
      • Similarly, in the Norwegian version, after "Tiny Guests" made parents call in to NRK, its broadcaster, complaining about the Groke being too scary, her voice actress was changed from Velte Bækkehund to Runar H. Huse, who gave her an moreso goofy voice (as heard in the winter episodes and on).
    • In the original Japanese version of the episode 17, when Stinky is caught in Moominpappa's trap prepared for a monster (that was actually made up by Stinky), there is a scene where Moominpappa aims his gun at Stinky, believing him to be the monster. Other dubs have this scene altered so he isn't pointing the gun at him anymore; however in the Finnish version you can still hear the sound of Moominpappa preparing his gun.
  • Canon Foreigner: The series added two recurring characters, The Witch and her granddaughter, Alicia, who do not appear in any of the other versions.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Moomins are stated to be only white, though this version gives Moomin, Moominmamma, and Moominpappa light blue, cream, and periwinkle shades respectively to better tell them apart.
  • Composite Character: Toft, who takes his name from one of the protagonists of Moominvalley in November, but has more in common with the Red-Haired Boy in the Lighthouse from The Great Flood.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: Episode 73 of Polish dub, with Moomintroll seeing hattifatteners and saying something like "Look at those weird creatures!", even though they have already met hattifatteners on multiple occasions before.
  • Jerkass: Stinky as part of his Adaptational Villainy, but the plan (almost) always backfires. Let's recap:
    • Abandoned and trapped Ninny in order to make her invisible again and force her into participating in a robbery. She's rescued by Moomin and his friends.
    • Stole Moomin's mechanical wings but did not know how to operate them and was blown to sea.
    • Tricked the Fillyjonk's children into almost swinging off a cliff.
    • Released animals from the zoo into the Moomins' homegrown jungle, but the animals end up befriending the Moomins.
      • Lured Moomin and Snorkmaiden to the swamp as bait for the giant snake but they befriend her as well.
  • Lighter and Softer: The series does contain some notoriously scary scenes, but is overall gentler than the books, removing the conflict and allegorical issues of war, parental death, etc. in favour of a more child-friendly slice-of-life show.
    • It's especially apparent in the episodes adapting Moominpappa at Sea, which the anime turned into another fun family adventure, whereas the entire point of the book was that it wasn't another fun family adventure, but Moominpappa dealing with a midlife crisis and the family becoming miserable. They also softened the character of the fisherman, and added Toft (from Moominvalley in November, which wasn't adapted) as a kid sidekick to make him more likeable.
      • The English dub further softens the dialogue so much that it borders on Bowdlerization. One particularly noticeable example happens in the episode The Invisible Friend, when Too-ticky tells the Moomins about Ninny's cold and sarcastic aunt. In the original version (and indeed in the original short story that the Ninny episodes were based on), Little My says that she hopes Too-ticky gave that horrible aunt a good beating. The dub changes this to "I hope you told her she hurt Ninny's feelings!"
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The English dub was British made, though with the actors doing their best to put on Southern American accents. A fair few lines or syllables have their original accents seep in.
  • Rearrange the Song: The Hawaiian broadcast has versions of the English opening and closing themes (the originals being based on the Finnish/Swedish theme) in the style of contemporary Hawaiian music. Some verses are even in Hawaiian.
  • Suicide by Sea: Subverted when Sniff gets heartbroken and the rest of the gang rushes to prevent him from what looks like trying to throw himself in the sea. It turns out he just wanted to wash his face to get over the heartache.
  • Unrelated in the Adaptation: Snufkin and Little My aren't said to be siblings. In fact, in one episode, the latter says that she wants to date the former.

The Moomin franchise provides examples of:

  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: Moominpappa and Moominmamma, with their respective top hat and apron.
  • Action Girl: Little My, especially in the books.
  • All Trolls Are Different: As Moomins are apparently meant to be trolls, despite looking like adorable chubby plush toys that vaguely resemble hippopotamuses.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: In the books and cartoons, there is no real indication to what era the Moomins live in. The technology level of Moominvalley is roughly late 19th-early 20th century, with no running water or electricity (although one story suggests that Moominpapa is aware of electic lighting, but associates electicity with the Hattifatteners and doesn't trust it). Several forms of air travel are shown, but are the creations of eccentric inventors and not standard. In the comic strip, journeys outside the valley shows that the strip takes place in the '50s and '60s.
  • Animated Adaptation: In fact, there were dozens of them. Three of them Japanese (1969, 1972 and 1990), one Polish, two Russian miniseries (Moomintroll and the Comet and The Wizard's Hat). Then there was an anime film based on the second book of the series, made by the same people behind the 2nd series and the 2nd half of the first series. There are also some short films, and Sky's CGI Moominvalley joined the fray in 2019.
  • Antlion Monster: The antlion appears in The Moomins and the Great Flood, Finn Family Moomintroll, and the '90s anime series Tanoshii Mumin Ikka. In this case the antlion is a black lion-like creature that digs Pit Traps at a beach. In the first book, it's clearly just a fanciful version of an actual antlion, since the Moomins are tiny enough to be attacked by an insect, but later on the question of its size becomes completely paradoxical.
  • Audience Participation: Invoked in the book Who Will Comfort Toffle?, when the titular Toffle tries to write a love-letter for Miffle but can't manage. The narrative suddenly addresses the readers and begs for help, tells them to find some writing paper and write the letter for him, and then leave it in a rose bush or somewhere Miffle is sure to see it. On the next page, Miffle has the letter and reads it. (The contents aren't quoted or even hinted at; it's just noted that she reads it and understands.)
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The basic Moomin philosophy in a nutshell — when faced with doing something in a mundane but practical way, or a fun but inefficient way, nine times out of ten they'll go for the fun way. The result being that they don't get much done, but at least have a good time while not getting it done. This trope its particularly prominent in the comic strip and in the 1969 live-action series — in the latter, it gets extremely bizarre when Moominmamma decides to pick hard-to-reach apples by firing at them with a shotgun instead of, say, getting a ladder.
  • Bad Mood Retreat: In 'Moominvalley in November', Mymble's Daughter reveals that the Moomin family would go and cool down between the trees at back of their garden whenever they were angry.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Happens to Moomintroll when he crawls into the Hobgoblin's magic hat and becomes turned into something, ironically, resembling a troll. After that, the Moomins test the hat by invoking this trope on the Antlion, who becomes a hedgehog.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In Finn Family Moomintroll, Moomintroll falls in love with a wooden figurehead of a beautiful woman, making Snorkmaiden jealous. When the Hobgoblin gives her a wish, she wishes for her face to look more like the figurehead. Unfortunately, those eyes on a head shaped like hers does not look flattering at all. Snork (or Moomintroll in the 90's anime) is forced to use his own wish to undo hers as a result.
  • Benevolent Genie: Trollkarlen/The Hobgoblin seems intimidating at first, but is kind to people who do him a favour, and is willing to ungrant any wishes gone wrong.
  • Berserk Button: The Moomins are shown getting very antsy about being termed as "hippos".
  • Big Bad: The comet in Comet in Moominland.
  • Big Damn Movie: Comet in Moominland.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Moominvalley in November. While none of the characters find the happiness they were looking for, they do find some closure, and in the end they all leave the valley to continue their own lives. Except for Tofte, who has come to accept that his idealized reality is not real, but still waits for the family to come home.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation:
    • The Hobgoblin. His name in Swedish is Trollkarlen, which means the wizard or, more literally, the male troll. He is a gray-bearded man in fancy suit, complete with a cape, and magical top hat, riding a flying black panther. You couldn't make someone look more like a magician if you tried.
    • The Hemulen. The -en at the end is the definite article in Swedish, so in English he's basically called The The Hemul.
  • Body Horror: In Finn Family Moomintroll (also the very first episode of the TV show) Moomintroll hides himself in the Hobgoblin's hat, which turns him into a bigger, hairless and apparently hideous creature.
  • Bookends: The first season of Moominvalley has Moomintroll trying to hibernate, but circumstances don't allow him to; the first episode is because of the Mymble family staying in the Moomin house and the finale was due to Moomintroll having difficulties of sleeping (along with his 'ancestor' barging in to his home).
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Little My is very much the trope codifier for the Scandinavian audience.
  • Canon Immigrant: Stinky doesn't appear in the original books. He first shows up in the early days of the comic strip, and after that makes appearances in various adaptations before he is finally introduced in the last Moomin story Tove Jansson wrote, An Unwanted Guest. (This particular story has not been officially translated to English, but there is an online unofficial translation here.)
  • Cerebus Syndrome: A particularly successful instance in the books; starting with Moominland Midwinter the series becomes slightly darker and much more introspective. The final two full-length novels, though still kid-friendly, are more aimed at an adult audience and end up largely deconstructing the sunnier "family adventure" tone from the earlier books — but without losing any sympathy for the characters. Moominpappa At Sea specifically shows Moominpappa's decision to move everyone to a lighthouse wasn't another fun family adventure, but Moominpappa selfishly having a midlife crisis and causing genuine stress and unhappiness to the rest of the family. This was especially obvious as it was expanded out of a much earlier newspaper comic plot arc that was just as light-hearted as usual. The final novel, Moominvalley In November, is set simultaneously with it, and is a melancholy tale about a group of lost souls travelling to Moominvalley in the hope of meeting the Moomins and having to find their own happiness when the Moomins aren't there. Tove Jansson lamented elsewhere that she'd had to end the series because she was not able to "find that happy Moominvalley" again.
  • The Chew Toy: Poor, poor Sniff.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Sniff, a main character, practically disappears from the novels after The Exploits of Moominpappa, only re-appearing in the short story collection "Tales from Moominvalley". Likewise, Snorkmaiden disappears after "Moominland Midwinter", and is only briefly referenced in passing in the aforementioned collection, and for a final time in "Moominpappa at Sea" as Moomintroll's "friend with a fringe".
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Snorkmaiden. Especially when she swaps eyes with the wooden mermaid to attract Moomin's attention. That was creepy.
  • Comet of Doom: What sets off the events of "Comet in Moominland", as the cast journey out of the valley to discover what the comet is and why it's so dangerous.
  • Cool Airship: Snork spends most of the ('90s) series working on perfecting his design for a flying ship. Moominpappa's old friend Frederickson/Hodgkins' ship the Oshun Oxtra eventually becomes this in the latter half his memoirs.
  • Cool Old Guy: Moominpappa and The Hemulen.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: In 1954, Tove Jansson began writing and drawing a Moomin comic strip, initially for the British Evening News newspaper but then internationally syndicated. The comic strip is broadly similar to the prose books in tone and setting, but has some differences in characterisation and plot. In the later 1950s, Jansson found creating a daily comic increasingly exhausting, and her brother Lars took over and continued the strip until 1975.
    • In the '90s, there was another comic book adaptation, based on and using the character designs from the anime. Mostly it told original stories, but it did occasionally adapt some of the stories from the books. In one instance they made a follow-up to the book-version of Moominsummer Madness, with a caption advising the readers to read the original book for the backstory.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: An Unwanted Guest, the last Moomin story written by Tove Jansson, despite being a short story that takes place entirely inside the Moominhouse, features tons of characters from earlier stories, both books and comics, several of which get speaking roles for the first time in decades. In picture book form, it's built around illustrations photographed from a model of the Moominhouse with handcrafted dolls for every character.
  • Darker and Edgier: The Comet Chase was certainly much darker compared to The Great Flood, as it's about the inhabitants of Moominvalley waiting for an apocalyptic event while knowing that there's absolutely nothing they can do about it. It's sometimes viewed as an allegory for the looming threat of nuclear warfare after World War II. The series got even darker with the last four books, culminating with Moominvalley in November.
    • Also, the first episodes of the '90s anime are much darker than the rest of the series.
  • Demoted to Extra: Sniff in the books. From being one of the primary characters in the first four books, he is inexplicably absent from the fifth and sixth, and after that only makes a handful of appearances. Since the last book in which he's a major character ends with him being re-united with his long lost parents, he probably went to live with them instead of with the Moomins.
  • Distressed Damsel: We first meet Snorkmaiden in Comet in Moominland, after her brother Snork rushes up to the protagonists asking for help in saving her from a carnivorous plant.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Published in 1946, the book can easily be read as an allegory of nuclear war.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": The Snork and the Snork Maiden, at least one Hemulen and both Mymbles, amongst others, are referred to only by their fictional species. Comet in Moominland implies that Snufkins are also a species, though this isn't the case in later stories.
  • Doorstop Baby: Moominpappa was left at the door of the orphanage run by the Hemulen's Aunt by unknown parents.
  • Dub Name Change: Happened with multiple different languages it was released in; way too many to list.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The very first book, Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen (AKA The Moomins and the Great Flood), is more of a fairy tale than any of the others, and tells the story of how Moominmamma and Moomintroll and Sniff try to find Moominpappa, who doesn't even appear until a good while in. In fact, that whole plot doesn't even appear until after a certain point. And in the pictures, the Moomins' noses are more like actual huge cartoon noses than in the other books. Furthermore, the Moomins and Sniff are described as very small, unlike in the other books (although later on, they still have interactions with the ant lion from this book as if they were so tiny). The place where everything is made of candy and which is exited via a rollercoaster is also a bit more random than is usual later on. The story is really short for a novel but there are more illustrations, so it's more of a children's storybook, and there isn't much of a plot.
    • The Groke made her first appearance in Finn Family Moomintroll, where she could speak and wasn't scary as much as she was a jerk.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: In Comet in Moominland, a large meteor is headed for the Earth and is predicted to cause the destruction of all life once it strikes. The predictions end up being wrong and the world does not end after all.
  • Fish out of Water: Moomins On The Riviera centers partly around this.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: In Moominpappa's Memoirs/ The Exploits of Moominpappa, Young Moominpappa is Sanguine, Frederickson (Hodgekins in some translations) is Choleric, The Muddler is Melancholic, and The Joxter is Phlegmatic.
    • Also, Moomin and his friends qualify: Moomin (Sanguine), Little My (Choleric), Sniff (Melancholic), Snuffkin (Phlegmatic) and Snork Maiden (Leukine).
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Moominmamma is ordered by Moominpappa, in the '90s anime, to use a frying pan as protection when the Groke arrives. When the cold creature arrives, Moominmamma can be seen standing on the Moominhouse veranda with a steady grip on the pan, among the rest of the family (though it was never used in action, as no fight broke out).
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The 1969 live-action TV series has ten main characters; five of them male (Moomintroll, Moominpappa, the Muddler, Sorry-Oo and the King) and five of them female (Moominmamma, Little My, Misabel, Mrs. Fillyjonk and Ms Karlsson).
  • Genius Loci: In Moominpappa at Sea, the island that the Moomins move to is constantly described as seeming to have an attitude, and by the end, they're hearing what appears to be its heartbeat. Parts of it also unambiguously move, although that seems to be more about those individual parts (trees, rocks) being afraid of the Groke. Moominpappa comes to think of the sea as being alive as well and comes to an agreement with it by the end, although that's even more Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane ambiguous than with the island.
  • Heroic Wannabe: Moomintroll, always trying to do the right thing and live up to Snufkin's example.
  • I Am Not Weasel: The Zookeepers just refuse to believe the Moomins aren't hippos, no matter how many times the Moomins repeat it.
  • An Ice Person: The Groke. Wherever she goes, air gets colder and the ground under her freezes.
    • There's also The Lady of the Cold.
  • I Feel Angry: Ninny in "The Invisible Child." The polite, timid girl gradually built up her confidence, losing her invisibility bit by bit, and shed it entirely when she finally dared to become angry.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Believe it or not, Moomin and Snorkmaiden are two different animals, but the difference is like a dog and a wolf.
    • Sniff's mom and dad are respectively an anthropomorphic animal and a humanoid.
  • It's All About Me: Moominpappa, at least in the original books.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Little My can be one sometimes. So can Sniff. And Snork Maiden.
  • Journey to Find Oneself: Snufkin definitely, with all of his going South, and to a lesser extent Moomintroll.
  • Little Miss Badass: Little My, though the 90s anime toned her down considerably.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Two "suit actor" TV series, in 1969 and 1973, both done for Swedish television. The 1973 series, which was that year's televised advent calendar, made straight-up adaptations of Moominland Midwinter, Finn Family Moomintroll and two of the short stories from Tales from Moominvalley. The 1969 series, by contrast, was an original story with an almost half-parodic approach to the Moomins and several satirical elements.
  • Lost in Translation: In The Exploits of Moominpappa, when Little My hears that the Muddler and the Fuzzy have just gotten married, she cheerfully announces that they've gone off and poisoned themselves — because in Swedish, the word for "married" is the same as the word for "poison." This pun was impossible to translate into most languages; in the English translation she just says something generic about "they're in real trouble now."
  • Love at First Sight: Tulippa and the red-haired boy in The Great Flood.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: Moominvalley In November, about a few lost souls who end up in the Moomin house while the Moomin family themselves are away experiencing the events of Moominpappa At Sea.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Little My (a tough and plucky tomboy) and Sniff (sensitive, cowardly and delicate) is a non-romantic example. In the original books they barely interact, largely because Little My was introduced in the books around the time Sniff was Demoted to Extra — the 90s anime, however, has them a Vitriolic Best Buds who are often seen together and always bickering when they are.
  • Meaningful Name: Almost the entire cast in Swedish. Most of them are Lost in Translation to English however.
  • Meddling Parents: Moominpappa and Moominmamma are a very inverted form of this. They allow their son to travel miles away from home into the path of a fast approaching comet, for instance. Moominmamma even approves smoking, saying it's "good for the stomach".
    • Of course in the other times they meddle in a different sort of way, demanding to come along for the irresponsible adventure, or dragging the younger generation along for one they themselves cooked up.
    • Apparently they were based on Jansson's own bohemian parents.
  • Hollywood Mid-Life Crisis: As noted, essentially what Mooninpappa suffers in Mooninpappa At Sea, causing him to drag his family off to live on an island as lighthouse keepers.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Despite her first two appearances, The Groke is later revealed to be a sad and lonely person who just wants friends and is not so evil after all. But that gives little to no comfort to all children who were scared to death by her. Or the fact that if she hugged anyone, they'd freeze solid.
  • Nice Hat: Moominpappa and Snufkin both.
    • And the wizard... er... Hobgoblin too.
    • Don't forget The Joxter.
  • Slice of Life: Outside the whole adventure part, there were elements of this.
  • Nasal Trauma: A hattifattener (little electric creature) zaps the Hemulan on the nose.
  • Nightmare Sequence: In one episode of 1990 series, Moomin dreams about unsuccessfully trying to outrun the Groke, who catches him in her claws in the end.
    • In the 2019 Moominvalley episode The Spring Tune, Snufkin of all people experiences this. As he dreams of returning to Moominvalley for Moomintroll, but only to be forgotten and replaced because he left for so long.
  • No Antagonist: There are quite a number of stories where its simply a day in the lives of the characters without any real opposing force, such as Stinky, the Antlion or the pirate captain.
  • No Name Given: Sniff in The Moomins and the Great Flood; he's just called "the little creature". Also the red-haired owner of the sea-tower.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Averted with Moomintroll in the books. If you read the books in chronological order, you'll notice that he is growing up, becoming more independent and self-reliant. In Moominpappa At Sea, Moominmamma even mentions to Moominpappa that their son isn't as little anymore.
    • Played straight in most of the adaptations, though.
    • And played straight with Little My, who at least in the books is very clearly shown to be older than both Moomin and Snufkin, but for unexplained reasons she stopped growing at a young age.
  • Older Sidekick: Probably Snufkin and maybe Sniff, but time doesn't really seem to apply in Moomin Valley.
    • Sniff definitely comes across as younger than Moomintroll in the books (especially Comet in Moominland), but in the various adaptations it's hard to say one way or the other.
    • If it applies to Snufkin, then it definitely applies to Little My.
  • Older Than They Look: Little My, at least in the books, is older than both Snufkin and Moomin, but still looks like a young child.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Tiny, six-legged, animal intelligence, almost extinct. Can fly and breathe fire.
  • Parental Abandonment: For the most part, the only one whose parents we see is Moomin. True, readers get a reunion of Snufkin's and Sniff's at the end of Moominpappa's Memoirs/ The Exploits of Moominpappa, but after that, there is no mention of anyone else's parents. Moominpappa himself was left on the steps of an orphanage as an infant.
  • Parents as People: Moominpappa is a romantic to a fault. He yearns for adventure and easily follows whims that take him away from home. Moominmamma does her best to be a good wife and mother and housekeeper, which can lead to her placing too high expectations on herself and becoming depressed for not living up to them. Tove Jansson based the characters heavily on her own parents.
  • Parents Know Their Children: In Finn Family Moomintroll, during a game of hide-and-seek, Moomintroll hides in the Hobgoblin's hat, unaware of its magical powers. The hat transforms him into a hideous creature, and none of his friends recognize him. He eventually pleads with his mother, saying: "Look carefully at me, mother. You must know your own Moomintroll." She looks at him and quietly says: "Yes, you are my Moomintroll." At this moment, he regains his normal shape.
  • Plant Person: The Hattifatteners, thin, ghost-like creatures indigenous to the Solitary Isle are actually plants, or more specifically, a kind of animated mushroom, that grow from spores. Despite having large, cartoonish eyes, they are mostly blind, and "see" through sensing vibrations in the ground. They also have the ability to store static electricity, which makes them incredibly dangerous during thunderstorms, when they congegrate in large groups and become supercharged.
  • Portal Picture: In Moominpappa at Sea, Moominmamma misses home, paints picture of it and is able to go into the picture.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Downplayed Trope in Moominpappa at Sea, where the room upstairs in the lighthouse bears subtle but poignant signs of Go Mad from the Isolation that the keeper underwent before vanishing: poems and tally marks. Moominmamma also begins drawing and painting flowers on the walls as she grows lonelier...
  • Sentimental Shabbiness: Cedric the plush dog is described as "love-worn".
  • She's a Man in Japan:
    • The Groke, out of all translations, is referred to as male in the Icelandic, French and Hebrew ones.
    • A gender-flipped example occurs in the narrator of the 1990 anime, as it's a woman in the original Japanese version but some dubs (English, French and Polish for example) have a male narrator instead.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: In the 2019 series we see a very blatant example of this trope in play in the last episode of the second season. This episode is adapting Moominvalley in November, the most melancholy and introspective of the books, and while the absence of the Moomin family is explained by the previous few episodes where they've gone off to the lighthouse island, it neatly gets rid of Snorkmaiden and Sniff by having Snorkmaiden go off in search of her long-lost brother and roping Sniff into coming along. The episode opens with Snufkin encountering them on their way out of the valley, with Snorkmaiden being cheerfully melodramatic and Sniff snarking about everything. This is probably the last truly lighthearted moment of the episode.
  • Shout-Out: The 2019 series has a couple of references to The Lord of the Rings.
    • In the first season Snufkin wants to throw the Hobgoblin's hat into a volcano, and when he leaves the Valley, urges Moomintroll to keep it "secret and safe", in almost direct quote from Gandalf.
    • In season 2 finale, Snorkmaiden tells Sniff to take her to the Lilac Havens, and he grumbles that they'll be just dull and grey.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Loud My vs. quiet Snufkin. Messy My and Snufkin vs. clean, presentable Mymble. Self-obsessed, idiotic, fashionable Snork Maiden vs. clever, bumbling Snork. If you have a sibling, you're going to be his or her opposite.
    • In the 1990 cartoon at least. In the books Mymble is less clean and presentable and Snork is less obviously different from his sister too.
  • Simple Solution Won't Work: When The Hobgoblin discovers that Thingumy and Bob have the King's Ruby in their possession, a jewel he has been seeking for at least three centuries, he is very willing to give them whatever they want in exchange for it. However, they refuse to give up the jewel for any price and even when frustrated, the Hobgoblin admits he can't bring himself to take it by force. Since he is at a party granting other people's wishes, he's asked why he can't simply wish for the King's Ruby for himself. As it is, the Hobgoblin is unable to use his magic to grant himself wishes based on his desires. However, this doesn't stop other people from making wishes on his behalf and so Thingumy and Bob wish for a copy of the King's Ruby to be made so they can give it to him freely as a gift.
  • Single Specimen Species: The Groke.
  • Species Title: The Moomins are trolls that vaguely resemble hippopotamuses.
  • Suicide by Sea: Subverted in the 1990s anime, when Sniff gets heartbroken and the rest of the gang rushes to prevent him from what looks like trying to throw himself in the sea. It turns out he just wanted to wash his face to get over the heartache.
  • Synchronous Episodes: Moominpappa At Sea depicts the Moomins leaving Moominvalley for a lighthouse, while the next novel, Moominvalley In November, depicts what happens there while they're away.
  • Technical Euphemism: In one book, two characters have an argument, which a third character refers to as a "quarrel". One of the arguing characters dislikes this term and insists it's a "dispute".
  • Tell Me About My Father: In Moominpappa's Memoirs/The Exploits of Moominpappa, Sniff and Snufkin are eager to hear about the Muddler and the Joxter, respectively.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Moominpappa's top hat, Moominmamma's apron and handbag, and the Snork Maiden's fringe and anklet.
  • Theme Song: The theme song of the 1969 and 1972 animes, has catchy music and flirty lyrics that play up the romantic relationship between Moomin and Snorkmaiden in the opening title sequence.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: My is the tough and plucky tomboy, Snork Maiden is the emotional and delicate girly-girl.
  • Touch of Death: The Snow Maiden, who only appears out on the ocean ice during the middle of the pitch dark winter, has a touch that instantly freezes anything it touches solid.
  • Tragic Monster: The Groke. She isn't really evil, she's just lonely. Too bad she's a Walking Wasteland.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Moomin, and most of the other characters for that matter, have an affinity for Moominmamma's pancakes and strawberry jam preserves. This is most noteable in the novels.
  • The Unreveal: Whatever it was the Hobgoblin's Hat produced that so terrified the Muskrat.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Moominvalley is, at least at a very quick glance, somewhat of a saccharine world in the early novels and some of the adaptations. The Groke on the other hand, especially in her earliest appearances, is truly horrifying.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: A seasick Sniff in The Great Flood is depicted ralphing over the boat's side.
    • And then again in Comet in Moominland, where he vomits his lemonade.
  • Walking Wasteland: The Groke. If she stays on the same spot for too long the ground she stands on becomes permanently infertile.
  • What Song Was This Again?: Most non-Japanese versions adapted the Finnish theme. (The Swedish theme has the same singer as the Finnish due to the Finn-Swedish origin of the franchise.)
  • What's Up, King Dude?: In the 1969 live-action series, the Moomin family treat the King this way. In the early episodes the King does his best to avoid interactions like this; when the family are first invited to the palace they have to be let in by guards and staff members before they are able to see the King, but as the series goes on this gets more and more lax, to the point where Moomin at one point enters the King's bedroom to say good morning before the King is even dressed. At the end of the series, the King has pretty much embraced the informal nature of their interactions and is far happier for it.
  • When She Smiles: The Groke, of all possible characters, might be a terrifying monster, but her joyful reaction when she gets the heart-shaped seashell in episode 7 is just plain adorable.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Moominmamma fits this trope perfectly - "submissive, loyal, mature, humble, but definitely not a pushover" - though, like so many other things, it's Deconstructed in the final two novels. Curiously enough, the Deconstruction is most apparent and visible in the very last novel, Moominvalley in November, in which Moominmamma doesn't even appear. She is, however, constantly referred to by the other characters and appears in the dreams and stories of the orphan Toft, who doesn't have a mother and whose expectations and hopes about her gets more exaggerated and caricature-like during the course of the novel. Finally, he has to confront the fact that the ultimate Yamato Nadeshiko that's developed in his dreams is not a real person at all and deep down he doesn't want Moominmamma to be like that.
  • You Are Number 6: During his time at the orphanage run by the Hemulen's Aunt, Moominpappa was labeled Number 13, because the Hemulen's Aunt couldn't be bothered to remember everyone's names.
  • Your Size May Vary: In the first book, the Moomins were really small. After that, they couldn't quite decide what size they were. The Ant Lion in Finn Family Moomintroll was both larger than them and small enough to be captured and carried in a jar by them.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Tanoshii Mumin Ikka


The Groke

The Groke freezes everything she touches wherever she goes.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / WalkingWasteland

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