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Polar Penguins

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"This is Shiver City. It's usually completely covered with snow and ice. It's perfect for penguins."
Goombario, Paper Mario 64

Penguins are the most iconic animals from Antarctica. Since they're among the few large organisms that can survive its year-round sub-zero temperatures, they're a visual shorthand for places with cold climates in fiction, even if they're not native to said place. You won't find penguins in Alaska or Siberia for example, and please don't get us started on imaginary Arctic penguins and their polar bear friends. This association with snow and ice, as well as their generally cute and rotund physiques, may also be why they are fairly common staples in Christmas media, despite otherwise having no connection with the holiday and Santa having the same polar bear issue of living on the other side of the planet.

This is Truth in Television, but Reality Is Unrealistic. Only two species of penguins live solely in Antarctica (though a few more live on sub-Antarctic islands), and the others can be found on the coastlines of Chile and Argentina, South Africa, Oceania, or even as far north as the Galapagos Islands. However, although there are a lot of tropical species of penguins, they need to live in places with cold waters (e.g. the Humboldt Current in western South America, bringing frigid waters from Antarctica). Research indicates this being a consequence of wing-propelled birds failing to catch fish in water temperatures above 15ºC, and indeed the Arctic counterparts to penguins, auks, seldom live in warm waters either.

See also Mammoths Mean Ice Age and Snowy Sabertooths, and compare Penguins Are Ducks for other penguin inaccuracies.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Onegai! Samia-don: When the kids want to go to the Arctic but the Psammead doesn't want to take them there for obvious reasons, he uses magic to recreate it without having water nearby. It obviously includes many adorable penguins.

    Asian Animation 

    Films — Animation 
  • Madagascar:
    • In the first movie, the penguins' goal is to get to Antarctica. Subverted when they get there — they quickly get bored since there's nothing to do and head to Madagascar instead.
    • Penguins of Madagascar: Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private are first seen as children in the frozen tundra, but they spend the rest of the movie going to other places in the world.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie begins with Bowser invading the penguins' kingdom, which features a giant castle made of ice. The penguins try (and fail) to attack the Koopa Troop with snowballs.
  • Zig-zagged in Surf's Up. The main character, a penguin surfer named Cody Maverick, lives in the Antarctic town of Shiverpool, but most of the movie takes place in tropical Pengu Island, which is also inhabited by penguins and holds an annual surfing competition. There are even native Penguans that act like Hollywood Natives. No one other than Cody and his family are even stated to be from Antarctica.
  • The Three Caballeros: In the segment "Pablo the Cold-Blooded Penguin", the titular penguin lives in the South Pole, and the narrator mentions that most penguins would never think of living anywhere else. Pablo, however, is uncomfortable in the cold, and dreams of going to the Galapagos Islands in the Equator. After many difficulties, he finally makes it to the Galapagos, but now he starts missing the South Pole...

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Inai Inai Baa! song "Penguin Penguin" always takes place in a wintery setting when it's performed on the show. The cast usually don winter outfits while singing it.
  • Penguin in The Masked Singer sings "The Middle" on an iceberg backdrop. Her backup dancers are appropriately dressed in cold weather gear with goggles and stylish yellow scarves.

  • Flick-to-Stick Bungees: The European Series 1's Fritz/Fraz resembles a penguin and is in the Frotizee clan, which is themed around snow and ice.
  • The iDog toy iCy is a penguin and is named after ice.

    Video Games 
  • Several penguin villagers in Animal Crossing have cold-themed names (eg: Friga, Aurora), and almost all of them have ice furniture in their houses in New Horizons.
  • Battlefield 2042: Penguins are briefly seen in the portion of the reveal trailer set in Antarctica. How would we know where it was otherwise?
  • Cassette Beasts: The Icepeck is an Ice-type, penguin-like monster that's native to the cold mountains of New Wirral. Its bestiary entry says it can't venture into warmer climates because its beak would melt.
  • Club Penguin takes place on an island that's mostly covered in snow year-round, though it does have a tropical beach.
  • Coryoon: Penguins are minor enemies in the Arctic sea level, and attack Coryoon on sight.
  • Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back: Penguins are enemies in the Slippy-Slidey Ice World levels.
  • Cyber Nations:
    • The alliance New Polar Order uses penguins among its many other polar themes, going so far as to name a branch of its military the "Penguin Battalion".
    • The now-defunct National Alliance of Arctic Countries had a major Penguin theme.
  • Daze Before Christmas: Penguins are an enemy in the Noth Pole levels, and their attacks can hurt Santa.
  • Digimon World introduced Penguinmon to the franchise. An NPC one lives in Freeze Land and runs a curling minigame, and as the player's partner Digimon, one of its evolutions is the snowman-like Frigimon. Lore-wise, it was discovered in an Antarctic base's computer.
  • Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!: Lemguin Lunge is a snow area where penguins called Lemguins are sliding around and trying to attack the Kongs with their pointy beaks.
  • Pengulls only appear in Don't Starve during the Winter season, and were added at the same time it was added. They create nests surrounded by ice.
  • There are penguins at the North Pole in E.V.O.: Search for Eden, though penguins (well, their ancestors) actually lived that far north at the time. Gradually they moved farther south until almost all species were in the southern hemisphere.
  • Arctic Industries levels in Jetpack Joyride 2 feature plenty of penguins in the background, and one of the enemy robots was built to look like a penguin.
  • Jitsu Squad: Frosthaw Fortress begins with a wintery wasteland with dozens and dozens of penguins in the background, for no reason other than because they're cute. Some of them even seems to be cheering you on as you fight snowlems and Emaki mooks, while one of them is taunting a chained-up polar bear.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance]: The penguin-like Dream Eater Iceguin can slide on the ground to leave a long trail of ice behind it.
  • Kirby:
  • The penguins in Let's Build a Zoo prefer to live in Arctic enclosures.
  • Lord of Gun: Penguins appears in the winter stages as the only non-hostile onscreen target, occasionally crossing the screen in the midst of crossfire as you're shooting at terrorists and snowlems. Shooting them will penalize your points.
  • In Mega Man X, Chill Penguin is a reploid designed after a king penguin to operate in subzero temperatures. As a Maverick Hunter, he was assigned to the 13th Polar Unit at the South Pole, but grew bored at having nothing to do. So when Sigma began the Maverick uprising, Chill Penguin murdered his commander to join Sigma, taking up residence on a snowy mountain base to trigger avalanches and launch missiles to destroy nearby cities.
  • The Shockhopper from Monster Sanctuary is (as its name suggests) based on the rockhopper penguin. It learns many ice-based attacks and can inflict the chill status on opponents.
  • Skiing Fred, one of the sequels to Falling Fred takes place in the snowy mountains, which are inhabited by (mostly) harmless penguins.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario 64 introduces talking penguins to the franchise. They're found as friendly NPCs in both of the Slippy-Slidey Ice World levels, Cool, Cool Mountain and Snowman's Land.
    • Penguins are a common obstacle and/or background element in icy tracks in the Mario Kart series.
    • In Paper Mario 64, the penguins live in the aptly-named Shiver City, where it snows all year.
    • New Super Mario Bros. Wii introduces the Penguin Suit, a power-up which gives the characters the ability to throw ice balls and freeze their opponents, as well as improving their ability to walk on ice.
    • Mario Party 5: In the minigame Pushy Penguins, the players are standing on an arctic coast, and then a multitude of penguins (including big ones) approaches. The objective is to avoid being dragged into the cold water by the incoming penguins, which becomes increasingly difficult as more of them approach. The last player remaining wins, though more than one can win if they survive after 30 seconds.
  • Pokémon:
    • Delibird is an Ice/Flying type that resembles a rockhopper penguin, and in most games, it can be encountered in icy caves or snowy routes.
    • The Piplup line is based on the emperor penguin. They're Water-types, but they can learn many Ice-type moves and are found in cold places in spinoffs such as Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers, Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia, and New Pokémon Snap.
    • Eiscue is another Ice-type penguin. In Galar, it can be found in the icy Route 10, or at the Lake of Outrage during a snowstorm or blizzard.
  • Chilly, the fourth world in Popful Mail, is full of penguins. The boss is an evil one.
  • Prehistorik: Sliding penguins are mooks in the ice stages.
  • Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo has several penguins living in Arctic Land.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog has several robotic examples created by Dr. Eggman:
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 3 has Penguinators, robotic penguins who inhabit Ice Cap Zone. Not unlike real penguins, they waddle about and slide on their bellies for extra speed.
    • Sonic Triple Trouble has Penguin Bombers, who serve as common enemies in Robotnik Winter Zone. Penguin Bombers ski on the ice and explode upon hitting the player. The boss of Act 3 is Giga Thomas "Pen", a giant penguin robot who serves as their leader and attacks the player by tossing Penguin Bombers at them.
  • Frozen Altars from Spyro: Year of the Dragon is inhabited by penguins. While it's based on South American pyramids, it's covered in snow.
  • Subnautica: Below Zero takes place in a polar region of Planet 4546B. It includes "penglings", penguin-like animals that serve as the game's Mascot Mook.
  • The Twilight Forest: There are Penguins that live on top of the Glaciers. They don't really do anything, but they're adorable.
  • Ultima VII Part II: Naturally, lots of penguins are found in the polar regions. Your Magebane sword even gets switched out with one of their eggs. Watch out though, they'll peck you to death!
  • Viva Piñata: Trouble in Pradise has the Pengum, which is only found in the Piñarctic, and you'll need some snow in your garden in order to make them residents.
  • Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3: The boss of Sherbet Land is a spiked hat and boxing gloves-wearing penguin.

    Web Original 
  • New Life SMP: The Penguin origin, held by Jimmy in his third life, has an affinity for the cold and their abilities are affected by the climate the player is in. They can flop onto their bellies and slide around in cold biomes, and are weaker and slower in warm biomes and require 4-8 levels of the Fire Protection enchantment to function well there. They are also set aflame in the Nether and take double fire-based damage unless they have high enough levels of Fire Protection, and are slower in non-cold biomes and require the Frost Walker enchantment to maintain their walking speed.
  • Since Antarctica is considered a country in World War Bot 2020, the comments depict its army as penguins.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Penguins live exclusively in the Ice Kingdom, a frigid, snowy realm. They seem to be one of the only inhabitants besides the Ice King himself.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Otter penguins live near the Southern Water Tribe, where it is always freezing and snowing.
  • In the Bugs Bunny Builders "Snow Cap", the Looney Builders have to make newcomer Pauleen Penguin a house, which has to be made of ice and snow.
  • Chilly Willy: Defied with the titular character. Chilly typically spends his cartoons trying to find ways to warm himself up because he hates the cold.
  • In the Curious George episode "Ice Station Monkey," George and the Man with the Yellow Hat travel to Antarctica to find an entire colony of chinstrap penguins.
  • Edebits takes place in Antarctica, and naturally penguins, including chicks, are some of the animals featured there.
  • Looney Tunes: The character Playboy Penguin co-stars with Bugs Bunny in two shorts:
  • Molly of Denali: In "The Clean Up Mix Up," Travis Hightower comes to Alaska and tries to "beautify" the place by setting up lawn flamingoes. When reminded that the flamingo isn't an Arctic bird, Travis sets up a penguin lawn ornament instead, to represent Alaska's cold climate. He doesn't believe Trini when she tells him there are no penguins in Alaska.
  • My Little Pony 'n Friends: King Charlatan is a penguin who lives in an ice castle and can freeze the others with his Eye Beams.
  • The Octonauts:
    • In "The Emperor Penguins", the titular emperor penguins live in Antarctica. Tunip even comments on how cold it is there.
    • In "Operation Deep Freeze", the Octonauts go to Antarctica, which Shellington notes is the coldest place on the planet, where Adélie penguins are trekking.
  • Octonauts: Above & Beyond: "The Red Fox" opens with the Octo-Ray flying away from a bunch of penguins on a frozen continent. Later, they end up in Natquik's house in Siberia (an equally cold and snowy place).
  • PAW Patrol:
    • In "Pups Save the Penguins", penguins are seen living in Antarctica, but they end up going to Adventure Bay by mistake when an iceberg takes them there. The PAW Patrol then has to take them back home.
    • In "The New Pup", Everest has been living in the arctic alone for a long time with nobody but penguins to spend time with.
    • In "Pups Save a Stowaway", the PAW Patrol goes to the South Pole to count penguins.
    • In "Pups Save the Pop-Up Penguins", several penguins end up in Adventure Bay and it's up to the PAW Patrol to take them back to the south pole before they succumb to the heat.
  • Phineas and Ferb: In the episode "Bowl A Rama Drama" , Doofenshmirtz plans to freeze over the entire city as a means to increase the sales of his hot chocolate. The machines he has designed for this look like big penguin robots.
  • Sitting Ducks: Fred the penguin is an immigrant to Ducktown who has to live in an apartment with the air conditioning turned all the way up because he finds Ducktown too hot for him.
  • T.O.T.S.: In "Back to Cool", Freddy and Pip the penguin take Penn (who is also a penguin) to Iceberg Alley, where it is always frozen and snowing. Pip marvels over how nice the snow is.
  • What's New, Scooby-Doo?: A young penguin accompanies the gang in "Uncle Scooby and Antarctica".