Follow TV Tropes


Recap / Tintin: The Crab with the Golden Claws

Go To
One day when visiting Thomson and Thompson at their office, Tintin takes note of a scrap of paper ripped from a can of crab meat among the belongings of a recently drowned sailor. Upon examining the scrap of paper, he sees the name "Karaboudjan" written on it and is then informed that this is the name of the ship where the sailor was employed.

After an unknown Japanese man is kidnapped on his doorstep, Tintin decides to investigate the Karaboudjan, but is immediately captured. While being held captive, Tintin discovers that the ship's cargo of canned crab meat is actually a cargo of opium. Tintin confronts the ship's captain, named Haddock, but discovers that he doesn't know about the smuggling operation, and is being deceived (and supplied with a lot of whiskey) by his first mate Allan. Along with Haddock, Tintin escapes and ends up in Morocco, where they continue their investigation of the smuggling operation.

The Crab with the Golden Claws is the debut of Breakout Character Captain Haddock, who was originally intended as a one-shot character, but ended up appearing as Tintin's ally in every single story after this one, eventually eclipsing Tintin himself in popularity, even in the eyes of Hergé himself.

This is the first story that Hergé produced during the German occupation of Belgium (1940-1944) for the Brussels daily newspaper Le Soir ("The Evening"). During the occupation this leading French-language paper of Belgium had been handed over by the Germans to Belgian collaborators and thus was called Le Soir volé ("the stolen Soir") by those who weren't collaborators. At first the installments appeared in a weekly supplement for children, but the war paper-shortage meant that this kept getting smaller and smaller and by September 1941 it was discontinued entirely. From then on Tintin appeared as a small daily comic strip in the main pages of Le Soir. The Crab with the Golden Claws was collected into a color album. In the 1960s this version was reworked at the behest of the American publishers.

This book also has had the most adaptations, in addition to the Belvision and Nelvana adaptation, it has also been adapted into a stop motion animated film in 1947 and it also served 50% of the elements of the 2011 movie adaptation.


  • Adaptational Nice Guy: The Belvision and Nelvana animated series version as well as the 2011 movie adaptation changed how Tintin, Haddock and Snowy crash landed into Sahara desert. In the original book, it was due to Haddock's Alcohol-Induced Stupidity. Haddock was so drunk, he decided it was his turn to fly the plane. When Tintin refused to let him do so, he smashed a bottle of whisky on his head, knocking him out, making the plane lose her pilot and crashing into Sahara (thankfully, Tintin regained his consciouness at the last moment and managed to pull back a little bit, thus the crash was not fatal).
    • In the Belvision adaptation, the pilot broke free and he attacked both Haddock and Tintin and regained control of the plane while it is running out of fuel. Unfortunately for him, he spared Snowy who chewed through the ropes allowing Haddock to knock out him out again with a few punches. But Tintin is so badly injured he was still unconscious forcing Haddock to take control of the plane. Tintin regained consciousness at the last moment and managed to prevent a fatal crash.
    • In the Nelvana adaptation, the original pilot sent by Alan managed to untie himself and smashed the bottle on Tintin's head and jumped off the plane with a parachute.
    • In the movie, Haddock was drunk, but the crash was because the plane ran out of fuel and Tintin's backup plan was to use the alcohol (that Haddock just drank) as fuel. Haddock ends up belching into the fuel tank, giving it enough fuel in the form of fumes that, the engine started at the last moment. But the resulting crash nearly killed Tintin and Haddock managed to save his life.
  • Adapted Out: Bunji Kuraki in the Belvision adaptation.
  • Adventurer Outfit: Tintin and Haddock appear with safari hats in Bagghar.
  • The Alcoholic: Haddock suffers from crippling alcoholism when introduced, and it's weaponized by his evil first mate, who supplies him with copious whiskey to keep him out of the way. He eventually gives up alcohol by the end of the book, though he still fights his alcoholism in the future.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Most of what Haddock does.
  • Ascended Extra: Bunji Kuraki in the Nelvana episode. Whereas in the comic he only shows up for a couple of panels on one page and again on the penultimate page, the episode starts with a scene of his meeting with Herbert Dawes, and Tintin later encounters him while he's imprisoned.
  • Bedouin Rescue Service: Tintin, Snowy and Haddock are saved by one.
  • Big Bad: Omar Ben Salaad. He was the one who wired the initial order to have Tintin thrown overboard, but Tintin's escape prevented it.
  • Bowdlerization: The Belvision adaptation changes Haddock's alcoholism (instead of whiskey, he's drugged with knockout drops), and the crew are smuggling diamonds instead of opium.
  • Canon Foreigner: Ahmed the Terrible in the Belvision episode.
  • Cassandra Truth: The officials at Bagghar don't believe Haddock when he tells them that the Djebel Amilan is actually the Karaboudjan.
  • Character Development:
    • When we first meet Haddock, he is a drunk and miserable wreck without a friend in the world and when he joins Tintin, his alcoholism means he causes more trouble for Tintin than he solves. At the end of the story, he is reformed and becomes the President of the Society of Sober Sailors! In later albums, he retains a fondness for the bottle, but is never as weak or unstable as he is here.
    • The drawing of the figure for Haddock in this comic looks a bit amateurish in some cases as well, fitting this characterization. This improves a lot in later comics.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The can Snowy gets his nose stuck in turns out to be very important later on.
  • Convenient Escape Boat: Allan escapes by stealing a boat at the harbor but Tintin gets lucky as there is just another boat ready for him to use.
  • Counterfeit Cash: Thomson and Thompson are investigating counterfeit coins that they found on the drowned sailor at the beginning of the book, but this doesn't really amount to anything.
  • Crossing the Desert: Haddock and Tintin try to do so.
  • Desert Skull: The first thing Tintin and Haddock find in the desert is a camel's skeleton.
  • The Dragon: Allan to Omar ben Salaad.
  • Dragon Their Feet: Allan after Salaad is dealt with. Allan tries to escape and Tintin has to chase him down by boat.
  • Drunken Song: Tintin and Haddock sing after inhaling wine-fumes.
  • Faking the Dead: The crew of the Karaboudjan pull this off with their own ship , putting out a distress call and having the ship appear to sink with all hands. When Tintin and Haddock hear of this, they call this into question, with Haddock saying the Karaboudjan sinking without time to launch the lifeboats is a strange scenario, and sure enough she turns up in Bagghar some time later.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: When Omar Ben Salaad is about to shoot Tintin, Snowy comes from behind and bites him in the ass. Ben Salaad loses his balance and shoots in the air upon which a chandelier comes crashing down on his head.
  • False Friend: Allan to Haddock. Rather depressingly, Haddock calls him the only true friend he has when we first meet him.
  • Follow That Car: Tintin and another man both get into a cab, each insisting it's his. By the time Tintin gets the man to leave, the car he planned to follow had long since disappeared.
  • Fruit Cart: When following Tintin, Haddock bumps into a vendor with a basket with oranges.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: At the behest of his American publishers, Hergé had to alter a scene in which Captain Haddock is caned by Allan's black henchman to him being caned by a Mediterranean but white-skinned mook, to turn a black crewman of the Karaboudjan into a white one, and also to redraw some panels so that Captain Haddock would never actually be seen holding a bottle to his lips! As Hergé commented afterwards: "Everyone knows that Americans never drink whiskey [...] and that there are no blacks in America."
  • Getting the Boot: The Thom(p)sons are kicked out of a mosque this way because they left their boots on.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Haddock hits Tintin on the head with a bottle.
  • Help, I'm Stuck!: Snowy's snout gets stuck in a tin can. Tintin has to help him out.
  • Heroic BSoD: Haddock enters one when he realizes he and Tintin are stranded in the middle of Sahara and will probably die of thirst.
  • Hero of Another Story: The Japanese police agent who is kidnapped.
  • Hollywood Mirage: Haddock sees Tintin as a champagne bottle when the two are stranded in the desert.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Haddock breaks down weeping when Tintin confronts him about his alcoholism and asks him "What would your mother think?"
  • Inescapable Net: During the climactic boat chase, Tintin disables Allan by throwing a net over him.
  • Info Dump: Bunji Kuraki's explanation for earlier mysterious incidents.
  • Lighter and Softer: The animated adaptations in comparison to the original comic book story. In at least the Remastered version of the 1990s animated series, Allan's crimes are changed from smuggling opium to smuggling diamonds. But, oddly, only in the second episode; the first episode is true to the comics by having Allan be involved in drug-smuggling, and despite the fact Allan appeared as part of the opium-smuggling ring in Cigars of the Pharaoh. The Dutch version averts this and changes the smuggled goods back to opium.
  • Madness Mantra: When he enters his Heroic BSoD, Haddock can only repeat the words "land of thirst" over and over.
  • Meat-O-Vision: After wandering around in the desert with Tintin for a while, Haddock envisions Tintin as a huge bottle of champagne and nearly strangles him to death trying to uncork him.
  • The Millstone: Bumbling Haddock. He accompanies Tintin but all he causes is trouble due to his Alcohol-Induced Idiocy, e.g. he slips and thus prevents Tintin from capturing the villains.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Tintin dreams that he has turned into a bottle of wine Haddock plans to uncork with a Nightmare Face so scary that we used it as the image on the Nightmare Fuel page for Tintin.
  • Pet the Dog: After the Japanese appeared solely as villains in The Blue Lotus, here we get a heroic Japanese character, albeit mostly off-camera.
  • Pictorial Letter Substitution: The logo title has the "o" of "Golden" ("Or" in the original French comic) replaced by a circle with a crab logo inside.
  • Punny Name: Omar Ben Salaad's name sounds like homard salade, which is French for "lobster salad", and the city of Bagghar sounds like bagarre, which is French for "fight" or "brawl".
  • Red Herring: The Counterfeit Cash subplot at the beginning of the story basically amounts to this.
  • Scared of What's Behind You: Captain Haddock is pinned down behind a sand dune by enemy troops. When they shoot his bottle of whiskey, he charges their position screaming at the top of his lungs and spinning his rifle around his head like a club. The enemy flees. Haddock calms down, turns around, and discovers that they were fleeing because The Cavalry has finally arrived, not because they were afraid of him.
  • Secret Passage: A huge barrel acts as a doorway to the cellar where the villains keep the tins of crab.
  • Shoot the Messenger: Non-lethal punching variation with Allan.
  • Stock Femur Bone: Snowy gets a big one as a present at the end.
  • Thirsty Desert: Tintin and Haddock cross a desert while being extremely thirsty because of their lack of water.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Haddock gets truly pissed off when a band of Bedouin raiders firing at him shatter his bottle of whiskey. When Alan's men find Haddock and Tintin drunk and helpless (they were trapped in a wine cellar, and bullets had holed the wine vats) all it takes is another broken bottle to turn the tables.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Omar Ben Salaad, the leader of the smuggling ring, is a very rich trader who is described as "the most respected man in all Bagghar".
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It is never revealed what happens to the pilots of the plane after they escape. Considering they were still far into the desert and the Lieutenant's men didn't find them, likely they died in the desert. This also applies to the animated episode with the Pilot. Considering he caused the crash by knocking out Tintin before parachuting out of the plane this could have been Karma.
  • You Don't Want to Catch This: Tintin claims that Snowy has rabies in order to scare a man out of his cab.