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Series / Flipper

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Essentially Lassie WITH FINS.

This 1964 series (based on the 1963 movie) was about the eponymous bottlenose dolphin who is adopted by (or adopts, depending on your point of view) Florida park ranger Porter Ricks and his sons Sandy and Bud. Originally airing on NBC until 1967, it had a long run on Nickelodeon in the early '90s leading to increased popularity and a revival. There is also a loosely related animated series, Flipper and Lopaka, focusing on a new human companion for the now talking dolphin.

Flipper was revived both in 1995 as The New Adventures of Flipper, with a new cast of characters unrelated to the original (except for Keith, the grown-up version of Bud, in the first season) and in 1996 as a feature film starring Paul Hogan and Elijah Wood, using the original TV show's characters.

Not to be confused with the Noise Rock band Flipper.


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    Flipper (1964) 
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Flipper is just a wild dolphin who is able to protect the park and apprehend multiple criminals. In the theme song and the show itself, he's recognized as a very intelligent dolphin.
  • Expository Theme Tune: On the '60s version (the '90s version had two different instrumental ones).
  • Friendly, Playful Dolphin: Flipper is a playful, friendly dolphin, apart from being helpful.
  • Heroic Dolphin: Flipper might be the Trope Codifier as far as recent western media go.
  • Last Episode, New Character: The Series Finale involves Sandy and Bud moving away just as a new family moves in and befriends Flipper. Another season with this new family was planned, but the show was cancelled before it could be made.
  • Multi-Part Episode: This show has a lot of two- or three-part episodes, despite only having three seasons:
    • "Lady And The Dolphin" (A congresswoman tours the park trying to shut it down)
    • "Flipper and The Elephant" (Flipper, Sandy and Bud help a friend with her father's floaring zoo)
    • "Dolphin In Pursuit" (The Ricks family have their boat stolen while on vacation and Flipper goes to catch the criminal)
    • "The Ditching" (Flipper helps out Sandy, who got into a plane crash)
    • "Flipper's Odyssey" (Flipper gets kidnapped by a fisherman and the Ricks go out to save him.)
    • "Flipper Joins The Navy" (Porter and Flipper help out a troubled navy dolphin, who is worth a lot of money.)
    • "Dolphin Love" (Flipper falls in love with another dolphin, leaving Bud jealous of her.)
    • "Disaster in the Everglades" (Porter gets captured by an alligator poacher)
    • "Flipper and the Fugitive" (The Ricks take in a man, who turns out to be a bank robber, and are taken hostage once his partner arrives.)
    • "The Firing Line" (After getting a notice that say "Termination Pay", Sandy and Bud go out to get their father a new job. They almost get shot.
    • "Flipper's New Friends" (Flipper befriends the children of a new family who just moved in, while Sandy and Bud prepare to leave the park.
  • Noisy Nature: Of the misplaced cry variety: Flipper's famous chatter is a kookaburra.
  • Non-Human Sidekick
  • Oceanic Airlines: The episode "The Ditching" is about Sandy and Flipper boarding Oceanic Flight 17, which ends up crashing into the sea.
  • Timmy in a Well: Most episodes involve Bud making some kind of mistake, leaving Flipper to bail him out.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Sandy Ricks is usually shown wearing just cut-off blue jeans (mostly for fanservice, partially justified by his actor, Luke Halpin, being an expert diver and doing a lot of the water-based scenes himself.

    The New Adventures of Flipper 
  • Catchphrase: In season two of the '90s version rarely did an episode go by without at least one cast member (and in at least one case a guest star) going "I love that dolphin!" To the extent that the season two finale, the Clip Show "Reflections," ended thusly:
    Maya (Jessica Alba, in her last episode): I guess that's why we always say... (cue a montage of characters saying "I love that dolphin!")... "I love that dolphin!"
  • He's Just Hiding: In-Universe: An episode featured a man convinced that his dead son was alive and would return home "soon". He went so far as to buy a present for each birthday his son missed, saving them all for the day the boy would come back. He was rather creepily casual about the whole affair, acting as though the fact that his son has been missing for years was absolutely nothing to be concerned about. Surprisingly for a family-oriented show, the son did not turn out to be alive and the episode ended with the man learning to move on.
  • Retool: Happened to the '90s version twice. The second season dropped the entire cast of the first season, except for Jessica Marie Alba (as she was billed in the first season), and reworked the premise to revolve around search and rescue people with Flipper working for them as a kind of rescue dolphin, essentially turning it into a Cop Show IN THE OCEAN! In the third season, Jessica Alba left and the second-season protagonist married someone who had never appeared on the show before, adding her two cute children to the cast. Thus, the premise became The Brady Bunch WITH A DOLPHIN! for the remaining two seasons.
  • Staying with Friends: After it's discovered that Maya Graham is an orphan, she moves in with the family of her friend Mike Blondell rather than enter foster care.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: In the first season, Mike Blondell was this for Maya Graham. He was always talking her into performing harebrained stunts (that she went along with against her better judgement) that got them in trouble with his mother and Dr. Ricks.

    Flipper (1996)

Flipper is a 1996 family adventure film Starring Elijah Wood and Paul Hogan which is a remake of the 1963 movie of the same name.

  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: Porter is Sandy's uncle in this movie, rather than his father. Sandy is only staying with him for the summer due to his mother's divorce, but he promises to come back the next year.
  • Awesome Aussie: "Awesome" is stretching it, considering how he lives and carries himself, but Porter is, if nothing, confident, filled with conviction, and willing to stand up for what he feels is right.
  • Big Bad: Dirk Moran serves as the ultimate antagonist of the film. While the original portrayed the fish shortage as just an unfortunate consequence of nature, this remake has Moran and his fishing buddies cause toxicity levels in the ocean to skyrocket with their overfishing and dumping chemicals into the water to do their catches. His party is also the one that kills Flipper's mother and family, and tries to finish the job in the finale.
  • Decomposite Character: Bud as a character seems to be split three ways: the role of Sandy's sibling goes to this Sandy's kid sister (who is nicknamed Bud, and nevertheless only shows up at the end of the film with their mother), while the role of Sandy's partner-in-crime is shared between Kim and Marvin. Interestingly, Bud shouldn't be there at all, given it's a remake of the 1963 movie.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Just before Dirk blows up Flipper’s mother, the camera cuts to Sandy. The sound of the gun is all we need to hear to know that she's dead.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: This film's version of Porter is a man perpetually stuck in the sixties. He wears faded old clothes, only listens to The Beach Boys, and lives on a diet of Spaghettio's and hot dogs.
  • Remake Cameo: Luke Halpin, who played Sandy in the original movies and TV series, makes an appearence as one of the Bounty Fishermen.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: The show's theme song shows up during the scene where Sandy runs a one-man dolphin show, this time a rock cover.
  • Threatening Shark: Scar, a ferocious Great Hammerhead (the largest variety of hammerhead shark) who lurks in the area, is rumored to have taken out a tourist boat, and shows up during the climax to threaten Sandy. Fortunately, Flipper (with help from his pod) is able to drive him away in time.