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Western Animation / Mr. Magoo

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"Oh, Magoo! You've done it again!"

Quincy Magoo, a nearsighted old gentleman voiced by character actor Jim Backus, created in the waning years of The Golden Age of Animation, is the most popular character created by the UPA animation studio. Most of the humor in Mr. Magoo's cartoons came from his visual handicap and his staunch refusal to acknowledge it. Aside from his theatrical shorts and assorted TV specials, Mr. Magoo has appeared in:

  • 1001 Arabian Nights, a 1959 feature filmnote , a version of Aladdin with Magoo as Aladdin's uncle;
  • Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, a 1962 hourlong Christmas Special, an Animated Adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (obviously);
  • The Mr. Magoo Show in the 1960s, later rerun on USA Network;
  • Inside Magoo, a 1960 Quarter Hour Short sponsored by the American Cancer Society;
  • Advertisement:
  • The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, a 1964 prime-time series on NBC, in which Magoo re-enacted famous literary works;
  • Uncle Sam Magoo, a 1970 special in which Magoo relives the major events of American history;
  • What's New, Mr. Magoo?, a 1977 Saturday Morning Cartoon on CBSnote ;
  • Mr. Magoo, a 1997 Live-Action Adaptation starring Leslie Nielsen.
  • Kung Fu Magoo, a 2010 animated film by Mexican studio Anima Estudiosnote  where Magoo and his other nephew, Justin, go evil-busting during the supervillain olympics.
  • Mr. Magoo, a 2019 French-American cartoon series featuring a younger-seeming and less curmudgeonly (but still as nearsighted as ever) Magoo, this time aided by his dog, Mr. Cat, as he inadvertently keeps thwarting the evil schemes of Fizz, a hyper-intelligent hamster with plans of global domination.

Magoo and his nephew Waldo also appeared on a 1957 LP, Magoo in Hi-Fi.

Mr. Magoo work pages on TV Tropes:

Mr. Magoo in all his varied incarnations provides examples of:

  • Accidental Ventriloquism: A typical gag involved Mr. Magoo talking to a lamp post or other object, while the actual person talking would be nearby, unaware of the confusion.
  • Actor Allusion: In-Universe. In Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol the Ghost of Christmas Present describes Scrooge (played by Magoo) as "the man too much of a skinflint to spring for a pair of glasses."
  • All Animals Are Dogs: In 1001 Arabian Nights, Magoo regards his cat, Bowser, as a dog. In the shorts, he has mistaken a panther, a tiger-skin rug, and even a person or two for a dog.
  • Animated Actors: Mr. Magoo was depicted as an actor playing a role in Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol and The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo.
  • Art Evolution: In his first cartoon, Magoo looked very different, with a barrel chest, bigger jowls and heavy eyebrows. As the character evolved, his design became simpler, and his features more baby-like.
  • Beary Funny: In "Ragtime Bear" and "Grizzly Golfer".
  • Big Fancy House: Mr. Magoo lives in an awesome mansion.
  • Blind Driving: Magoo in his Cool Car.
  • Blind Mistake: The central element of Magoo's comedy.
    • When Magoo took on the role of Don Quixote, this became the mechanism by which he identified his Dulcinea.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Not only is Magoo blind without glasses, he never had 'em in the first place. This is the cause of much of his trademark comedy, although it is toned down somewhat when he is portraying a character other than himself, such Ebenezer Scrooge. The original shorts revealed that Magoo uses a huge magnifying glass when he's reading at home and owns a pair of glasses, but refuses to wear them out of stubborn pride.
    One of the original shorts shows that Magoo's glasses (on the rare occasions when he actually does wear them) aren't prescription, but a cheap pair of cheaters he picked up at a department store sale decades ago.
  • Boxing Kangaroo: Magoo brings one home in "Kangaroo Courting", mistaking it for Waldo's girlfriend.
  • The Cameo: Gerald McBoing-Boing appeared in several of the shorts, most notably in the episode "Magoo Meets McBoingBoing" and portrayed Tiny Tim in Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. Also, Go Go Gomez from The Dick Tracy Show makes an appearance in the episode, "Requiem for a Bull."
  • Carpet-Rolled Corpse: In "Magoo's Problem Child", Magoo wanders into a house used as a hideout by criminals and finds a rolled-up rug in a closet, thinking it's a corpse, while he passes a man tied up on the floor and thinks it's a rolled-up rug.
  • Catchphrase: "Oh, Magoo! You've done it again!"
  • Comedic Hero: Magoo himself.
  • Con Man: Presley, in The Mr. Magoo Show. The theatrical shorts had their fair share of them too.
  • Construction Zone Calamity: In "Trouble Indemnity", Magoo wanders into a construction site thinking it's the office of his insurance company. The insurance agents scramble to keep him from getting killed, as he's their only client, and "if he falls, the company falls!"
  • Cool Car: Magoo drives a fancy, old fashioned car that keeps on mint condition, despite the rough treatment it keeps receiving from its driver.
  • Christmas Carolers: The Christmas Special starts with a group of kids caroling, but when they come to Scrooge and Marley's, Scrooge (Magoo) kicks their donation cup right out of their hand. All but one of them run off, with the last staring at him before walking away sadly.
  • Christmas Special: Perhaps surprisingly, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol is the Ur-Example, being "the first animated holiday program ever produced specifically for television" according to The Other Wiki.
  • Darker and Edgier: The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo still had some humor, but was otherwise played very straight, making sure to keep the tone of the original stories it adapted intact, and as a result would often feature characters dying, even some of the ones Magoo played.
  • Dark Reprise: Inverted in Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, in which the third reprise of "Ringle Ringle" has Scrooge (Magoo) giving some of his coins to the Cratchits.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Go-Go Gomez of The Dick Tracy Show appeared in a Mr. Magoo cartoon.
  • Electric Slide: One opening sequence shows him driving his car on top of power lines.
  • Exploding Cigar: In "Magoo's Express", Magoo is mistakenly given a powerful explosive "more powerful than the hydrogen bomb" by some Eastern European spies in the form of a cigar. Just as he's about to smoke it, the porter tells him that there's no smoking allowed in the car, so he tosses it out the window. It gets picked up by a hobo, who then throws it back on the train, just in time to explode on the spies' faces.
  • Expy: Magoo's Uncle Tycoon, whose voice sounds identical to Yosemite Sam, especially since he and his butler Worcestershire are both voiced by Mel Blanc.
  • The Fool: Magoo's incredible luck always saves the day for him and always ruins the day for whoever attempted to cheat or scam him.
  • Flanderization: In the original UPA cartoons, the soul of the character was not simply being almost blind, but also being so incredibly stubborn about everything that even when he realizes the truth of what he is experiencing, he will still keep at it regardless. Later cartoons drop that and just focus the humor on his poor vision.
  • Friend to All Children: Has no problem baby-sitting young children at the last minute or taking scouts out on a hike.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: The few times he's worn glasses, they actually seem to make his vision worse.
  • Grumpy Old Man
  • Here We Go Again!: The ending of many of the theatrical shorts.
  • Hidden Depths: Some old shorts and TV specials revealed that despite his poor eyesight and old age, Magoo is a very famous and still very competent actor.
  • Hot Guy, Ugly Wife: Studly Davy Crockett and his buck toothed Gonk of a sweetheart from Uncle Sam Magoo.
  • Identical Stranger: One episode of The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo has the actor Mr. Magoo asked by the police to impersonate an identical gangster in order to catch the whole gang. Just to make it all better, the person who asks Magoo to do this is Dick Tracy!
  • Impairment Shot: Most cartoons will include at least one blurred-out shot of whatever Magoo was looking at.
  • Instant Expert: The bear in "Ragtime Bear". Within seconds of getting his paws on a banjo, he's playing like a pro.
  • Joisey: Magoo is an alumnus of Rutgers University, "class of aught-three". (That would be 1903 for our younger readers.)
  • Lethal Klutz: although there's not much actual bodily harm caused.
  • Medium Blending: In "Magoo's Private War", Magoo enters a movie theater that is showing live-action Stock Footage.
  • Miniature Senior Citizen
  • Mistaken for Terrorist: In "The Explosive Mister Magoo", Magoo storms into a newspaper office demanding to speak to the editor while carrying a ticking package (which is actually a wind-up toy, although Magoo thinks it's a clock), so naturally the receptionist assumes the worst.
  • Monochrome Apparition: Marley and the Ghost of Christmas Past in "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol" are blue and orange respectively.
  • National Stereotypes: "Cholly"/"Charlie", Magoo's houseboy in The Mr. Magoo Show embodies a whole raftful of early to mid-20th-century Chinese stereotypes, but also subverts them at the same time by being intelligent and resourceful, and often rescuing Magoo from the situations he gets himself into.
  • Only a Lighter: In "Magoo's Express", Magoo flashes a gun lighter to a lady spy.
  • Photo Doodle Recognition: In the live-action adaptation, Mr. Magoo infiltrates an auction for criminals by disguising himself with black hair and a moustache. He is discovered when Austin Cloquet sees a photo of Mr. Magoo in a newspaper and draws in black hair and a moustache on his photo.
  • Pro Wrestling Episode: "Hotsy Footsy", in which Magoo wanders away from a dancing competition and into the wrestling arena next door and defeats the champion with his fancy footwork.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: Mr. Magoo has often driven on railroad tracks, mistaking them for a very bumpy road, and an oncoming speeding train as some impatient driver. He always manages to avoid getting hit in some way.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Magoo simply won't admit to needing glasses. And the few times he does, (like in "Fuddy Duddy Buddy" or "Magoo's Check-up") he simply bucks up and carries on as always.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Magoo is wealthy, but he is a really nice, law-abiding guy.
  • Shave And A Hair Cut: Happens twice in "We're Despicable (Plunderers' March)" in Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.
  • Show Within a Show: Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol is actually about Magoo performing A Christmas Carol on Broadway. This gets carried over into The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo.
  • Stock Clock Hand Hang: In the cartoon "The Explosive Mr. Magoo", Mr. Magoo steps out of a building window, thinking it was an elevator, and happens to step onto the second hand of the clock. When he finally tips over and falls, he thinks the elevator operator is being too rough. Fortunately, the awnings at the entrance break his fall.
  • Sword Cane: Magoo hides a sword inside his walking cane in the short "Barefaced Flatfoot".
  • Talking Animal: Magoo's dog McBarker in What's New, Mr. Magoo?
  • Thick-Line Animation: The Mr. Magoo shorts were some of the earliest examples of the style, although arguably examples in transition between traditional styling and the modern expression of the style/trope.
  • Thriller on the Express: "Magoo's Express".
  • Uncatty Resemblance: His dog, McBarker in What's New, Mr. Magoo? not only looked like his owner, Magoo, but he also had the same bad eyesight.
  • Uncle Pennybags: Magoo is very wealthy, very friendly... and very naive, so people trying to invoke and abuse this trope on him is the plot of several episodes. Plus, Magoo is an uncle, as he lives with his stupid nephew Waldo.
    • Magoo's rich Uncle Tycoon Magoo, who is usually planning another construction project, many of which are thwarted by Magoo causing chaos when he happens upon the scene, much to Uncle Tycoon's and Worcestershire's dismay.
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast: The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo.
  • Verbal Tic: Charlie says "bloss" instead of "boss."
  • Villain Song: "We're Despicable", sung by the graverobbers in Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.
  • Warm-Hearted Walrus: The cartoon "Fuddy Duddy Buddy" has Magoo mistake a walrus from the zoo for his old friend Bottomley and take him out for a game of tennis. When a detective takes the walrus back, Magoo is at first disheartened at the revelation, but then decides that "I don't care if he is a walrus. I like him!" At the end, Magoo is having dinner with the walrus, while Bottomley has somehow taken the walrus' place in the zoo.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol started the tradition of using cartoon characters to retell Dickens' classic.


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