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Cartoon Penguin

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"When I was working on the penguins for Mary Poppins, I discovered there are 26 varieties. What we wanted was what most people think a penguin is."
Frank Thomas, Disney animator

There are many different species of penguins, vastly different in appearance. However, most people don't know all of them, and some are a bit complicated to draw, so penguins in cartoons will often be a generic, simplified variety of no particular species.

The typical design includes:

  • Solid black and white plumage, with a black body and white belly. All penguins do have white bellies, and most have black feathers, but some are gray or blue instead (some cartoon penguins are blue as well, especially in Japanese or Animesque works), and a lot have additional markings. They may also have a white face, which is true of a few species. Real penguins have white underwings, but this hardly ever shows up in animation.
  • Yellow or orange bills and feet. Some penguins do have an orange bill and/or feet, but they can also come in pink, black or gray.
  • Bills are often portrayed as generic bird beaks; they can be short and pointed like a songbird or blue and rounded like that of a duck. Real penguin bills are not like this, as it wouldn't be effective for catching prey.
  • Bowties will sometimes appear, to play on their black-and-white plumage looking like a tuxedo.

In real life, no penguin looks exactly like this. The Adélie penguin comes close, being black all around with a plain white belly, but its head shape is a bit unusual, its feet are pink, and its bill is mostly covered in feathers, leaving it only visible at the tip. The Gentoo penguin also comes close, being black all around with a plain white belly, orange bill, and orange feet, but the top part of its bill has a black outline and it has a big white patch above each eye.

This trope can be justified for simplicity's sake, especially if children are the target audience.


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  • Donpen, the mascot of the Japanese supermarket chain Don Quijote (itself named after Don Quixote fed through Katagana), is an example of the blue variety, being a white-bellied penguin with otherwise blue plumage, yellow, duck-like bill and generic cartoon animal feet. His Distaff Counterpart, Donko is the same but pink.
  • Tux the Penguin, the mascot for Linux, has a white chest and solid black body, yellow, duck-like feet, and a yellow beak.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Tuxedo Gin: Ginji is usually portrayed as a stock penguin with a necktie, although it is said he's supposed to be an Adelie penguin and every once in awhile he is depicted as a more realistic penguin.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: A community of them appears in Great War in the Bizarre World episode 30, the chiefs arguing about the penguins being white or black. Weslie resolves the conflict, saying they're both.

    Comic Strips 
  • Opus the Penguin from Berkley Breathed's Bloom County (and, later, Outland) has all the right features: Black back and wings, white belly, yellow bill. Still, another character in the cartoon strip once suggested he looked more like a puffin. Unlike most real penguins, however, Opus usually wears a tie.
  • The penguins from Macanudo by Liniers have black backs and wings, white bellies and faces, and orange beaks and legs. They also have a curious fascination with a lighthouse.

    Films — Animation 
  • The penguins in Madagascar and its spin-off TV series are black with white bellies and faces, orange bills and feet.
  • The Pebble and the Penguin: While most of the cast are Adélie penguins, excluding Rocko the Rockhopper, their designs are a variation on the typical cartoon penguin with black and white faces and yellow beaks with a red tip. Actual Adélies have completely black faces, and although they do have a darker marking on their beak, it's just not red or even shaped like an Albatross beak.
  • Topper the penguin in Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town is a claymation version of the trope, with the addition of his long yellow scarf.
  • Averted in Surf's Up, where just about all the penguins have distinctive species. This also serves to make the different characters distinguishable.
  • Toy Story 2: Wheezy the penguin toy is black with a white belly, yellow bill, red bowtie, and round body.
  • Wallace & Gromit: The penguin in The Wrong Trousers, Feathers McGraw, has a round black body with a white oval on the belly and an orange, rounded bill.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • When NBC had the TV premiere of The Beatles' black-and-white film A Hard Day's Night in 1968, they substituted their peacock with an animated penguin that just stood there waving its wings.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show: Penguins on the show are a non-specific variety with a black body, white belly and orange feet. However, their beaks are black.
  • Sesame Street: Most penguins are a generic variety with black bodies, white bellies, and orange feet, similar to those in The Muppets. However, their beaks are gray.

  • One of the colors the iDog's penguin variant iCy could come in was a simple black-and-white scheme.

    Video Games 
  • The indie video game, Back Home For Christmas stars an adorable baby penguin, looking for a way home on Christmas Eve.
  • Bread & Fred: Bread, Fred, Greg, and their peers are rendered as pixelated black penguins with white bellies and orange bills and feet. The player characters wear color-coded backpacks and scarfs.
  • Club Penguin: The default penguin fits this to a T. Penguins that don't fit the color scheme still have the yellow bill, white bellies, and round bodies.
  • The default penguin variant in Let's Build a Zoo is black and white with a round head and orange beak. Averted with the other variants, though, which look like specific species.
  • In Penguins and its sequel Penguins Escape, the penguins are black with round bodies, white bellies, and yellow bills and feet.
  • Pokémon: Eiscue is the closest thing to a cartoon penguin with black-and-white coloring... wearing a giant ice-cube helmet.
  • The characters in TAGAP and its sequels all utilize the stereotypical design and colors, with some small variations between the named characters. It does help that many of the common enemies are made up of a Clone Army.

    Web Animation 
  • Lobo: The Space Penguins have blue bodies, orange beaks and white bellies. They have red eyes, though.

    Western Animation 
  • The Backyardigans: Downplayed with Pablo the penguin, who is a blue penguin with a yellow belly, blue bowtie, yellow bill, and spherical head.
  • Chilly Willy: Chilly has a black body with a white face and orange or yellow bill.
  • Family Guy: Penguins tended to be drawn like this in earlier episodes, with black feathers, orange beaks and feet, and white bellies.
  • FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman: Numerous cartoon penguins in "How to Break the Ice and Also Waddle on It" are animated like this.
  • Gravity Falls: The Show Within a Show "Duck-tective" has a penguin with this appearance, including an orange bill, black body and white belly.
  • Looney Tunes: Playboy Penguin is black (blue in his first appearance) with an orange bill and feet and a white belly.
    • Tex Avery's 1938 short "The Penguin Parade" is filled to the brim with them. Funny penguins at that.
  • The Octonauts: Peso, Pinto, and their mother are black penguins with white bellies, white faces, and yellow beaks and feet. Despite this, however, aside from the cartoony proportions the series has accurately recreated the Adelie, Chinstrap and Emperor Penguin designs in coloration.
  • PAW Patrol: The adult penguins are black with white bellies and faces, as well as orange bills and feet.
  • Pingu: The titular penguin, as well as most of the other penguins on the show, are portrayed as having round, mostly black bodies, with a white underbelly. They also have flat, orange feet and red, often duck-like beaks. Funnily enough, this only applies to the penguins of Pingu's age or older; the babies and toddlers like his little sister Pinga have the distinctive markings of Emperor penguin chicks. Downplayed in the anime spin-off Pingu in the City where rockhopper and gentoo penguins appear, though they have the overall same design as the other penguins.
  • The Simpsons: The penguins in the episode "The Aquarium" are black with yellow bills and feet and white bellies.
  • Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales: Tennessee Tuxedo himself combines this trope with Informed Species, as his body shape is nowhere near that of a penguin, and his feet are the same black as his body.
  • T.O.T.S.: All penguins seen in the series have black feathers, yellow beaks and feet, and white abdomens.