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Western Animation / Avenger Penguins

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Penguins, bike up!
Created by Cosgrove Hall and Granada Television in 1993 and lasting for two seasons, Avenger Penguins was made as an Affectionate Parody of the Teenage Mutant Samurai Wombats trope, but with a British spin on it.

It revolved around a trio of motorcycling penguins — Marlon, the brash leader, Rocky, a large penguin lacking in brains, and Bluey, a small penguin that spoke in a nearly indechiperable language. When they weren't challenging the 'Stink Brothers' or hanging out at their favourite ice cream joint, they were trying to stop evil genius Caractacus P Doom (no relation), along with his henchman Harry Slime, from trying to Take Over the World.

This series has a distinction as being the last Cosgrove Hall production to be animated with traditional ink-and-paint methods. From Fantomcat onwards, the studio would use computers for the ink-and-paint process, with the animation drawings scanned in beforehand and then digitally coloured using Toon Boom software.

This animated series provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Doom is a Card-Carrying Villain, but is surprisingly likeable despite being a total lunatic.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Mildy subverted, an alien speaks in a strange language only Bluey can understand, but some of what it says can be recognized as a variation on English.
  • Ambiguously Human: Caractacus P.Doom may be human, but he looks slightly owlish and has graying skin, and when he has undergone a Karmic Transformation, has transformed into a snail. It's never made clear if he is human or not.
  • America Takes Over the World: Implied in the first episode, "The President is a Fish", where Doom plans to replace the President of "The United Republics of the World", who is a parody of several American Presidents rolled into one.
  • Animal Superheroes: Well, if you consider "Badass Normal" to count, then yes, the world-saving motorcycling Avenger Penguins definitely count.
  • Anti-Villain: Harry Slime is nowhere near as evil as his boss Caractacus P.Doom, and only goes along with the schemes to avoid his boss's wrath. Were he not working for him, he'd probably be on the Penguins'side.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Doom creates a huge monster made of disgusting things, then Marlon becomes large himself.
  • Badass Biker: The Avenger Penguins themselves are cool bikers.
  • Bad Boss: Caractacus P. Doom. For instance, his first instinct after testing his Shrink Ray on Harry Slime in "Big City Little City" is to threaten to step on him for no reason. In "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Penguin?", he steals Harry's teddy bear, outfits it with a concealed bomb, and gives it back to Harry, only to detonate it as Harry is cooing over having his "lost" teddy back. Why did he do this? Because he thought it'd be funny.
  • Bond Gun Barrel: In "Fishfinger", which spoofed the James Bond franchise, this was naturally used as the opening card. Rocky is shown in the gun barrel.
  • Brainless Beauty: Recurring character Delores Divine. Fittingly, she's a love interest for the equally dim-witted Rocky.
  • Brandishment Bluff: In "Computer Chaos" the penguins, about to be squished in a press by Doom, bluff that they have explosives in their shorts (in a particular Refuge in Audacity, they don't wear shorts). Doom to his credit doesn't fall for it...but Harry Slime does.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: There are a lot of comments and quips directed directly at the audience. Usually from Doom and Slime.
  • Butt-Monkey: Harry Slime, who suffers a lot of physical abuse over the course of the series.
  • Cardboard Prison: Exaggerated Trope due to Status Quo Is God. At the end of the first episode Doom and Harry Slime are in prison, and they're free again at the start of the second episode with no explanation whatsoever.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Doom makes absolutely no secret of the fact he's a world-conquering Mad Scientist.
  • Catchphrase: Marlon has "Penguins! Bike up!" Doom has several.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Subverted in the episode 'CatPig: Cat Of Iron'. Rocky buys an 'executive penguin grooming kit' (a broken used comb) at the start of the episode. Marlon rubbishes it as useless. When Rocky reveals it again later in the episode during a Death Trap as a possible means of escape, Marlon points out that it's still useless and it's of no help. 'Maybe we could...flick dandruff at them?'
  • Christmas Episode: "A Christmas Carol", which is more or less a retelling of A Christmas Carol with Caractacus P. Doom in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Avenger Penguins as the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.
  • Chromatic Arrangement: Rocky rides a red motorcycle and wears a red helmet, Marlon rides a blue motorcycle and wears a blue cap, and Bluey rides a green motorcycle and wears a green jacket.
  • City of Adventure: Big City is a played-for-laughs version of this, with its own resident Mad Scientist bent on world domination.
  • City with No Name: It's simply called "Big City". In The Future seen in "The 23rd Century", it becomes either "Mega City" (according to the signs) or "Mega-Big City" (judging from the dialogue). However, it's claimed to be an Expy of Salford. Yes, the one in Greater Manchester.
    • Salford does have some pretty wacky architecture that would not look out of place on this show.
  • Classic Villain: Caractacus P. Doom, a flamboyant, organ-playing, Card-Carrying Villain of a Mad Scientist.
  • Comical Overreacting: The episode "Beauties and the Beasts" opens with a minute long screaming fest from Doom over the fact that Harry has just asked him for a pay raise for his work.
  • Comic Trio: Marlon is The Leader, Rocky is The Fool, and Bluey might be the Straight Man.
  • Compressed Hair: You wouldn't know it because he's usually wearing his motorcycle helmet, but Rocky actually has a large, blonde Mohawk that pops out completely unharmed whenever his helmet comes off.
  • Deranged Animation: Quite a bit, especially from Doom.
  • Disorganised Outline Speech: Doom gives one at the end of the first episode as an attempted We Will Meet Again:
    Doom: No! NO! NOOOO!!! Come back! I haven't finished with you yet! I have to destroy you! Don't you understand?! Come back! COME...! ...Ruined! My laboratory is ruined! Curse you, penguins! CURSE YOU!! And remember this: I'm going to get you. As sure as the day is dark, and the night is long— er, the day is...night, and the long — er, no, the dark is OH WHATEVER!! I'LL! GET! YOOOOOOOOU!!!
    • In fact, it's something of a Running Gag that Doom's speeches tend to get away from him.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Doom has a female version of himself in the future - Lascivious Q Doom. As does Harry Slime - Harriet Slime.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: In "The Hog Jamboree", Doom does this when he says his plan will lead the Penguins "to their doom".
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: Doom not only is named "Doom", but loves to use the word as many times as possible, whenever possible.
  • Dumb Is Good: Rocky, the dumb penguin, is usually cheerful and chipper, while Marlon, who is smarter, is more cynical and grumpy. Likewise, Harry Slime, who is quite stupid, is also less evil than the genius Doom.
  • Easily Conquered World: After Marlon is disposed of in "I Married An Android", Doom takes over the world quite quickly.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Doom keeps a many-tentacled horror in his cellar called 'Drongal the Gargantuan'.
  • Enemy Mine - In 'Disgusting Or What?' the penguins and the villains have to try and work together to defeat a monster that Doom created, but cannot control.
  • Episode Title Card: Each episode opens with a title card.
  • Evil Gloating: Doom. In the first episode Marlon says he'd win the gold, silver and bronze medals if gloating was an Olympic sport.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Which transforms into a giant Drill Tank...thing.
  • Exact Words: The Atomic Warhead Fountain Pen that Doom gives the Raquels in the episode "Beauties and the Beasts"; Doom describes it as needing "one feather touched to the nib" to detonate it, which the Raquels interpret as "any attempt to use it like a pen will set it off". The reality is that Doom meant what he said literally; it works just fine as a normal pen, but touching the nib with your fingertip (or, for a penguin, with a feather-tip) will detonate it. The Raquels don't realize this until they accidentally set it off themselves.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The show takes place in 'Big City'.
  • Expository Theme Tune: Downplayed, but the theme tune does convey the basic plot of the show of the Avenger Penguins protecting Big City from Caractacus P. Doom.
  • Falling into Jail: "High Doom" features Humongously Big Mad Joe and Caractacus P. Doom's ancestor Beauregard Doom falling into a jail cell.
  • Feather Fingers: In fact, the Penguins are never shown as having "wings" at all.
  • Film Felons: "Star Struck" has Doom and Slime pretend to make a movie to lure the Avenger Penguins into a trap so they can destroy them.
  • Forced Transformation: Doom's Monstertron is quite capable of turning people into stuff against their will. In the first episode, he almost kills the penguins and the president by turning them into fish and letting them suffocate in the air, whilst in season two, he disposes of his traitorous replacement minion Miss DeMeanor by turning her into an anthropomorphic pelican, the bird she's most afraid of.
  • Freudian Excuse: An appropriately comedic case. In one monologue, Doom implies that his powerlust stems from childhood resentment over a schoolmaster calling him "least likely to succeed."
  • Glamour Failure: Due to a timing error on the Monstertron, both of the Raquels are actually hideous monsters, and whilst they can assume a beautiful form, they have a tendency to occasionally revert back to their true repulsive states.
  • Good Feels Good:
    • Harry Slime discovers how great it is to help others in "A Winter's Tale".
    • Same for The Quantum Mechanic too. Though, to be fair, QM was only pursuing the penguins because Doom convinced him they were the bad guys. He wised up eventually.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: The penguins wear jackets, helmets and gloves, but don't wear pants or boots.
  • Happy Fun Ball: Doom manufactures these in the pilot.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The Quantum Mechanic does this in his eponymous episode, turning against Doom when Bella tells him the truth that Doom's evil.
  • Honey Trap: In the episode "Beauties and the Beasts", after Harry winds up being buried alive under a mountain of garbage, Doom instead creates two (intended to be) beautiful female monsters, the Raquels, to seduce the penguins and destroy them.
  • Identical Grandson:
    • "The Wild Wild Wild West" shows that Caractacus P. Doom, Harry Slime, and the Stink Brothers have identical ancestors in the Wild West.
    • In "The 23rd Century", the penguins, Doom and Harry all have descendants who resemble them exactly.
    • "High Doom" has the Doc from Saskatoon tell the Avenger Penguins about the adventures of their Wild West ancestors, who each look exactly like the three penguins. The Wild West ancestors of Doom, Slime, and the Stink Brothers appear once more.
  • The Igor: Harry Slime serves this role to Doom.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: 'Big City, Little City' involves Doom shrinking the entirety of Big City as part of his latest plot.
  • Interspecies Romance: The Avenger Penguins are seen lusting after human women quite often.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Doom's "Monstertron" machine can turn anything (and anyone) into anything.
  • I Take Offence to That Last One:
    Rocky: Hey, garbage guts! Why don't you pick on someone your own size?
    Cecil Stink: My own?! I'm not big, fat, stupid, and ugly!
    Rocky: Hey! Less of the 'ugly', dog breath!
    Cecil Stink: Dog breath?! You guys looking for trouble?!
  • "I Want" Song: In "Rock And Roll Penguins", Harry Slime sings about wishing he had someone to love him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Quantum Mechanic, who was a one-episode character, acts like a thug, but is really a decent guy at heart.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: The Quantum Mechanic sports an impressive parody of a super-hero's jawline.
  • Large Ham: Caractacus P. Doom, and nearly everyone who's seen appearing on TV.
  • Lazy Artist: Parodied with the 'Badly Drawn Brothers', who are deliberately designed to look like poorly animated and incomplete sketches of humanoid figures.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: The majority of background characters are human or Ambiguously Human, while the Penguins and the Stink Brothers are anthro animals.
  • Literal-Minded: A common joke with Rocky, and sometimes with other characters.
  • Local Hangout: Slush City is the diner/icecream bar of choice for the penguins and their buddies.
  • Mad Libs Catchphrase: Doom's Verbal Tic of "X? I'll tell you X..."
  • Mad Scientist: Doom is a classic example of the conquest-driven, ambitious, brilliant but insane Omnidisciplinary Scientist.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Doom Tower, of course, which is also an Evil Tower of Ominousness and covered in various busts of Doom's face to boot.
  • May the Farce Be with You: Doom dresses up as Darth Vader in 'Starstruck', and 'The 23rd Century' has the 'Doom Star' and 'Bow Tie Fighters'
    • Which, however, are attacking an obvious expy of the Starship Enterprise...
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Harry Slime may have been recommended to Doom by his careers officer, but he's really not a malicious character at all. Gross, yes, but malevolent? Hardly.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: The reason why Harry keeps turning on Doom is because Doom keeps treating him like rubbish.
  • Mook–Face Turn: Harry Slime, as you really should have predicted, given all the abuse he gets:
    • In the very second episode, "The Hog Jamboree", Harry becomes so enraged by the insults dished out at his motorcycle form (It Makes Sense in Context) that he forgets about the plan and starts sincerely trying to win the titular motorcycle race.
    • In the penultimate episode of season 1, after being kicked out by Doom and befriending a magical fairy, he uses her magic to first save the Avenger Penguins' home from being repossessed by Doom, and then to exile Doom to Mars.
    • Finally, in the episode "Beauties and the Beasts", he tosses Doom into a monster-inhabited pit to apparently be Eaten Alivethe very same fate Doom had threatened Harry Slime with repeatedly throughout that episode.
  • Musical Episode: 'Rock and Roll Penguins' is just one song after another.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Caractacus P Doom; the family name is sinister enough, but even his first name sounds pretty menacing.
  • Nightmare Sequence: 'Nightmare at Tea Time' is based on this trope. Doom also has nightmares about the penguins in the episode "Mommy's Boy".
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: In "Big City, Little City" Doom unleashes a flying robot shark made of plutonium on the Penguins.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Doom is loosely based on Orson Welles and Harry Slime speaks like Peter Lorre. The President of the United Republics of the World even speaks like Richard Nixon (yet with John F. Kennedy's catchphrases and a Ronald Reagan-esque face).
  • No Fourth Wall: Characters address the audience regularly, especially Doom in his villainous monologues. In fact, in "I Married An Android," Doom activates a "scrambling cloak" and explains that this is purely to keep the audience from learning his scheme.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Bella, the female penguin that runs Slush City, has breasts.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Like many villains, Doom plays one, and it even seems to be part of his lab's control panel.
  • Once an Episode: Doom tries to take over the world and/or destroy the penguins
  • Only Sane Man: Marlon is arguably the closest thing to a straightman, albeit a snarky one.
  • Parody Episode: Where to even begin listing the examples here?
  • Pet the Dog: In "A Winter's Tale", the Stink Brothers donate money to prevent the Avenger Penguins from being evicted, stating that they respect the Avenger Penguins as worthy adversaries.
  • Punny Name: One-episode villain Miss DeMeanor is a two-fer. Not only does her title and last name come together to form "misdemeanor" (a minor criminal offense), but her full name is "Mean Demeanor" (essentially "bad attitude").
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Used and subverted with Harry Slime, who is literally a gross toad, but isn't really evil.
  • See You in Hell: Doom. Or his James Bond parody Fishfinger, said this to Marlon and Bluey while in his Death Trap. You read that right.
    • The original title for the series was going to be 'Hell's Penguins' but was changed due to Executive Meddling. They managed to sneak in the H-word in other ways throughout the series.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Harry Slime's name is a reference to Orson Welles's character in the movie The Third Man. Even better, Dr. Doom is based on Orson Welles himself.
    • "The 23rd Century" includes a sequence parodying Star Trek, including a scene where Marlon attempts to strike up a conversation with a man in a red shirt, only to be informed that that character has not been assigned a voice actor because he's going to be killed off in a minute anyway.
  • Shrink Ray: Doom invents one as the plot device of "Big City, Little City". Notably it has the reverse effect on beings made of antimatter.
  • Sickeningly Sweet:
    • Recurring character The Sweetheart Fairy Angel is based on this.
    • Also in 'Nightmare at Tea Time, Doom's worst nightmare is being trapped in 'Planet Cute' which was featured in an episode of Count Duckula.
  • Simpleton Voice: Rocky talks this way to help convey that he's the Dumb Muscle of the team.
  • Species Surname: In "The Hog Jamboree", Marlon's full name is given as Marlon Penguin.
  • The Starscream: One-episode villain Miss DeMeanor is hired by Doom to replace Harry Slime, but ultimately realises she can just steal Doom's tech and use it to conquer the world herself.
  • Status Quo Is God: The first season may have ended with Slime becoming good and Doom on Mars, but at the beginning of the second season, the former was inexplicably evil again and Doom was back on earth.
  • Stealth in Space: Parodied. In 'The 23rd Century', the Enterprise expy uses its 'cloaking device', which consists of a robotic arm coming out of the side and dropping a black tablecloth with stars painted on it over the ship. It works.
  • Stealth Insult: In "Big City, Little City," Doom tells Harry Slime that his Shrink Ray will be mounted on an 'unmanned satellite'...which will be crewed by Harry.
    • Averted. The satelitte is unmanned, which is why Doom is sending Slime there in the first place, so that he can take it over easily.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Doom has a British cousin who looks exactly like him and even has his own 'Harry Slime', whom the Penguins actually encounter in one episode.
  • Take Over the World: Doom's goal - or as he puts it "I will RUUUUULE the WOOOORLD!"
  • Take That, Audience!: Several of Doom's plans revolve around selling toys with sinister secrets to kids portrayed as stupid and materialistic.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: Used shamelessly in "Rock and Roll Penguins", where nearly every song begins when the characters notice the change in the background music, say something to the effect "That sounds like the cue for a song" and promptly start singing. Nearly every major character gets a turn at saying it.
  • They Called Me Mad!: Doom. In fact it's practically his Catchphrase.
  • Title Theme Tune: The theme-tune contains constant refrains of "Avenger Penguins!"
  • Toothy Bird: All of the Penguins have prominent teeth when called for, usually snarling toothily at Doom.
  • The Unintelligible: Bluey speaks in a weird babbling tongue that the viewers can't make heads or tails of.
  • Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey: Harry Slime is a dense Minion with an F in Evil who routinely suffers abuse from his Card-Carrying Villain boss, Caractacus P. Doom.
  • Villain Song: In "Rock 'n Roll Penguins", Caractacus P. Doom sings "Caractacus P. Doom Will Rule the World".
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: "Star Struck" has Dolores Divine sing a song to Harry Slime that consists of insulting him.
  • Violent Glaswegian Cecil Stink, the leader of the Stink Brothers, talks with a Glaswegian accent to cement his aggressive nature.
  • Visual Pun: In "The Hog Jamboree", Marlon finds a 'choke' switch on his motorcycle (actually Harry Slime transformed into a motorcycle) and it causes a pair of robot hands to come out of the dashboard and start choking him.
  • Walk This Way: Used and Lampshaded in "Surprise Fate":
    Caractacus P. Doom: "How sad. I can't believe people are still using the old 'walk this way' gag."
  • Weirdness Magnet: Slush City; Bella complains about her customers all being weirdoes in "The Hog Jamboree".
  • Who Even Needs a Brain?: Bluey experiences Type 1 of this trope in "The Quantum Mehanic" when he becomes silent and motionless after Caractacus P. Doom steals his brain.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: One-episode villain Miss DeMeanor confesses to being terrified of penguins, to the point of doing a Wild Take freakout at the mere mention of the word. Ironically, she then claims the Avenger Penguins aren't scary, because they don't look like penguins to her. Fortunately, she inadvertently admits she's actually scared of pelicans, which Doom uses to scare her into the Monstertron so he can then turn her into one.
  • The Wild West: 'The Wild Wild Wild West' and 'High Doom' are both set here, the first via a Time Travel plot, the second via a story of Big City's ancient past.
  • X-Ray Sparks: In "Surprise Fate", Harry Slime gets struck by lightning and has his skeleton made visible by it when Caractacus P. Doom orders him to fix an antenna during a thunderstorm.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: "A Christmas Carol" has the Avenger Penguins pretend to be the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future to convince Caractacus P. Doom to stop ruining everyone's Christmas by severing the city's power.