Follow TV Tropes


Recap / Tintin - Tintin in the Congo

Go To

Tintin and Snowy go on a trip to the Belgian Congo to hunt lions. While there, Tintin finds himself the target of a mysterious hired killer who follows him on his travels around the country. And as for actual plot, that's pretty much it. The bulk of the story is about Tintin's Random Encounters with the African wildlife and the childishly naive natives.

Today, Tintin in the Congo is rather infamous in some countries for its racist portrayal of the Congolese natives, its pro-colonialist themes and its utter disregard for animal welfare. It is notable that Hergé himself originally had not planned the story; he had wished to send Tintin to the United States (this would eventually happen in the next story, Tintin in America), but Norbert Wallez, the chief-in-editor of Le Petit Vingtième in which Tintin was serialized, wanted to inspire support for the Belgian colonial administration and Christian mission in Congo, and so some Executive Meddling took place and Hergé was convinced to do a story about Congo instead.

Hergé would later look back at the story with embarrassment and cited it as "bourgeois" and "paternalistic". Attempts have been made to ban the book entirely at times in some countries. It currently tends to be sold with a foreword informing potential readers about the controversial content and providing historical context (at least in Anglophone countries). It was also actually reprinted by a Congolese newspaper in the Seventies.


  • Adapted Out: The Ellipse / Nelvana animated series didn't adapt this album, for obvious reasons.
  • Animal Disguise: Tintin kills and skins a monkey so he can use his skin as a disguise to rescue Snowy from another monkey. Seriously.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • A boa snake (which are New World snakes, Africa has pythons) swallows Snowy alive, tail first.
    • In real life, it's not that easy to cut a snake's belly open and sew it back shut without it dying in the process.
    • Tintin is unable to shoot a rhinoceros in the original black-and-white story, because its skin is so strong that bullets just bounce off of it. While this is technically possible in real-life, it would require you to be using something barely stronger than a pellet gun. In most cases, a rhino's hide would at best only be strong enough to slow the bullets down enough to prevent serious injury, and a shot from any halfway decent hunting rifle would tear through its skin like tissue paper.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Hergé never did any research for this story and based his idea of Africa mostly on the general stereotypical image of the country and what most Europeans thought it was like.
  • Author Tract: Like with The Soviets, this was more of a command from Hergé's boss than a free choice. Things only began to change with Tintin in America.
  • Big Damn Hero: The colonial priest saving Tintin from the crocodiles in the nick of time.
  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: Apart from Snowy, almost every animal in this story is harmed or killed. Tintin shoots fourteen antelopes in the belief it's just one whom he missed several times. He shoots a chimpanzee just to cut off its skin and wear it as a disguise. He beats up another chimpanzee, tries to shoot an elephant, cuts a large snake open and has it swallow its own tail, shoots down another snake, has a leopard eat a sponge giving it digestive problems,... Snowy bites off a lion's tail. A priest shoots several crocodiles dead. There's a rhinoceros Tintin planned to shoot, but luckily, it escaped. In the original story, however, Tintin put a stick of dynamite inside its skin and blew the animal up. Danish publishers felt this was both too unrealistic and very harsh and asked Hergé to change it into the more animal friendly scene still found some translations of the story today.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: At one point, Tintin is captured by the hired killer, who instead of just shooting Tintin ties him up over the river and leaves him to be eaten by crocodiles. Somewhat justified in that we later find out that the guy had been instructed to make Tintin's death look like an accident, but that doesn't excuse his not sticking around to actually make sure he'd die.
  • Caught on Tape: Tom and Muganga are filmed and recorded by Tintin when they make fun of the gullibility of the tribe and desecrate the fetish.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Tintin's slaughter of the Congolese wildlife could be an unintentional example.
  • Darkest Africa: The story's setting.
  • Disney Villain Death: Both Tintin and the bad stowaway fall off a waterfall. Tintin survives, but the stowaway is eaten by crocodiles.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: The villain, Tom, is a henchman of Al Capone, who would only appear in the next adventure.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Tintin films and records Tom and Muganga when they are making fun of the gullibility of the tribe and desecrating the fetish. Later, Tintin makes to tribe listen to his recording and watch his film.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: When the album was turned into color, Thomson and Thompson were added into the scene where he is saying goodbye to everyone on the railway platform (they were not present in the original black and white edition). The pair made their first proper appearance in Cigars of the Pharaoh.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Just like many of the early Tintin stories, there's no strong story, just a Random Events Plot. Also, the good natured Tintin is seen shooting and harming almost every wild life animal.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Muganga is a conniving jerk. But after Tintin saves his life, he immediately pledges loyalty to him, citing a tribal code.
  • George Lucas Altered Version:
    • In the color version, most direct references to Belgian Congo were removed and replaced. Tintin now just visits "Africa".
    • The scene where Tintin blows up a rhinoceros has been changed in Scandinavianote  and English-speaking world to a more realistic scene where the rhino is spared such a fate and runs away. Still, many other scenes where Tintin kills or hurts other wild life animals were kept intact. Notably in the francophone world, where it's seen as too farcical and irrealistic to be worthy of indignation.
  • Great White Hunter: Tintin and even the elderly colonial priest.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: Tintin and the stowaway come across one.
  • Judgment of Solomon: Tintin settles a dispute with two Congolese over who owns a hat by cutting the hat in half and giving each half to one of the claimants.
  • Jungle Opera: Tintin's adventure in the Congolese jungle.
  • Just Desserts: The gangster who tries to kill Tintin by throwing him over a waterfall ends up going over himself, and being eaten by alligators at the bottom.
  • Lazy Bum: At first, the Africans refuse to put the train back on the rails because they are too lazy "and will get dirty."
  • Look Behind You: How Tintin at gunpoint tricks the Stowaway.
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: Tintin loses one of his shoes and a sock to a shark when he rescues Snowy from drowning.
  • Magical Negro: Muganga the witch doctor.
  • Mighty Whitey: Tintin is seen as one.
  • Misplaced Vegetation: Rubber trees, native to South America, in Africa.
  • National Stereotypes: This is basically Darkest Africa as it appeared in the native Europeans' minds in the 1930s. The black Africans are all child-like, primitive, dumb and lazy. The whites are mostly there to help them out or take advantage of them. This was typical of the Western perspective on colonial Africa back in those days.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Tintin and Snowy are almost eaten by a crocodile at one point. The hired killer who's been out to get Tintin is ultimately eaten by crocodiles.
  • Ouroboros: Tintin makes a snake eat its own tail at one point.
  • Palate Propping: Tintin uses his rifle to prop open a crocodile's mouth when out of bullets.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: When Tom wears a missionary attire, Tintin is unable to recognize him, even if he has already met him before.
  • Race Lift: In the original version, the owner of the tame leopard is a black man. In the colorized version, he's a white man.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: Tintin's car gets stuck on the railway tracks just as a train is approaching. They collide but instead of the car, it's the train that gets wrecked in the process.
  • Random Events Plot: Probably the most pronounced example of this in the series. While this trope also applied to the books either side of this one, Tintin did at least have some sort of overall goal in them (finding out about the USSR in Land of the Soviets, and cleaning up Chicago in Tintin in America). This one's essentially just about Tintin taking a trip to the Congo.
  • Rapid-Fire Interrupting: In the original version, Tintin attempts to teach native children about "their country, Belgium" with the aid of a blackboard, but is constantly interrupted so he never gets any further than the first sentence. The revised version changes the curriculum to arithmetic.
  • Revealing Cover-Up: Al Capone suspected Tintin might be wise to his diamond smuggling operation, so he tried to arrange for his assassination. If he had just left Tintin alone, Tintin would never have found out about anything.
  • Sequel Hook: Tintin is on his way to America to battle Al Capone. This is the only book in the series that isn't an actual two-parter to end in such a manner.
  • Sinister Minister: Muganga the witch doctor.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Technology: The natives turn away from their witch doctor when they discover Tintin brought a grammophone and a film projector which proves their wizard lied and desecrated the tribe's fetish.
  • Swallowed Whole: Snowy is eaten by a large snake, but is still alive inside. Tintin manages to cut the snake open and save Snowy.
  • That's No Moon: Snowy hangs on to a treetrunk in the water which turns out to be a crocodile.
  • Threatening Shark: Tintin encounters one when going overboard the ship that's taking him to Africa.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Tintin spots an antelope and tries to shoot it down several times, as it seems to be unkilleable. Then it turns out he killed it the first time around. It's just that several other antelopes happened to appear on the same spot and were mistaken by Tintin for being one and the same animal.
  • Wolverine Claws: The leopard-man's weapon.