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Western Animation / Papyrus

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Papyrus is the Animated Adaptation of the Belgian comic of the same name. It was created in 1998 and ran for two seasons (52 episodes). It was shown on TFOUTV in France and Radio-Canada in Quebec.

The animated series has a distinctive overarching story that borrows various characters and events from the comics. Here Papyrus, the young fisherman is chosen by the Egyptian gods to defend Egypt from the threat posed by Set, the formerly banished god of deserts and storms after the malevolent god captured and sealed the Kingdom’s protector god Horus in a magic sarcophagus and kept in the black pyramid of Ombos. Alongside Papyrus is Princess Theti, daughter of the Pharaoh and High Priestess of Isis, Tiya, the princess of robbers and Thebes and her monkey Shepsi, Imhotep, a young scribe with ambitions of being an architect and Bebo, a joyful and pacific, though clumsy former Libyan prince and his donkey Kamelot, Hapou, a boy whom is believed to have a learning disability but is actually prone to possession by various gods and Ratoufer, the High Priest of Horus who helps guide the heroes on their adventures.


  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Akhenaten and his daughters look more... normal in the adaptation of the "The Cursed Pharaoh."
  • Adaptational Heroism: Patatras is Tiya's contact and fellow thief. At end of his introduction episode, he becomes one of the royal guard. In the comics, he was a gang leader of thieves and also joined the Pharaoh's guards at the end. However, he returned to thieving later in the series and explained it didn't suited his lifestyle, but he still remained loyal to Merenptah.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The animated tv series simplify and streamlined some stories as well as creating some new ones.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Merenptah is called Merenre, not to be confused with the two Merenre from a previous dynasty.
    • The series drops the "Cheri" from Theti's name (or at least, the dub does).
    • Pouin is renamed "Bebo." His donkey Khamelot keeps his name as it is on the other hand.
    • The Great Royal Wife, named Mutnedjmet in the comics, is renamed Neferure.
    • In a particularly unusual example, Ariadne keeps her French name of "Ariane" in the English dub.
  • Ascended Extra: In "Imhotep's Transformation" Merenptah killed Chepseska by loosing an arrow at him while in the animated series he became a recurring antagonist.
  • Barefoot Poverty: This is ancient Egypt, and accordingly everybody goes barefoot with some frequency, but Tiya in particular always does, likely on account that she is a street urchin who wears rags.
  • Big Bad: Set with his servant Aker playing a more direct role. In the comics there isn't really a consistent antagonist with it varying from album to album.
  • Black-and-White Morality: Played straight for the most part. Set, Aker and their allies want to plunge Egypt in chaos For the Evulz while Papyrus, Theti, Pharaoh and their friends are all kind and benevolent. The slightest shades fo grey are the gods who can be short sighted and vindicative and Pharaoh being responsible for the destruction of Papyrus native village though he has remorse over it
  • Bottle Episode: The last three episodes consist mostly of recycled scenes from earlier episodes.
  • Canon Foreigner: Tiya does not appear in the albums and appears to have been made for the animated series.
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: At the end of "The Trial of Papyrus", Tetris, the deceased cat of Merenre's parents, shows up alive to the bewilderment of Theti. Ratoufer quotes this trope as the reason why.
  • Composite Character: Egypt's sacred bull Apis also takes the role of the Cretan Bull who killed the Cretan Prince in "The Labyrinth."
  • Compressed Adaptation: The stories adapted for the television series were shortened and some characters were even cut.
  • Cut Short: The series was cancelled before Papyrus could free Horus and restore to Egypt as promised by the opening.
  • Death by Adaptation: The Great Royal Wife is usually present with her husband the Pharaoh in the comics, yet in the animated series she died during the infancy of her daughter Theti.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Ahmes, who framed Papyrus for the robbery of his parents' tomb, betrays himself by mentionning the cat's mummy that was left behind, a detail only known by Merenre, Mesimontu and Ratoufer.
  • Lighter and Softer: The adaptation changed some elements found in the comic books:
    • In both mediums, Imhoutep walks with a crutch. He is missing one leg in the comics however.
    • The Libyans look like Europeans, had dark skin, sport blonde hair and beards, as if they came straight from pages of Asterix.
    • Papyrus freed a city where everyone was cursed into becoming ghosts. In the end, Papyrus is was actually a trick by Aker to free followers of Set. In the comics, everyone was blinded as a punishment from the gods because the inhabitants sacrificed their children. Sobek lifted the curse on the citizens and Papyrus was turned into a Beast Man for defying him. The inhabitants rejoiced and were indifferent to Papyrus' fate. Papyrus looked also more like a baboon-man while his comic book counterpart was more monstrous and feral.
    • When Theti-Cheri pleaded Papyrus' case to the gods, she didn't need to provide any kind of boon. In the comics, she wore a sexy dancer outfit and danced for the gods. Only after appeasing them that they listened to her.
  • Named by the Adaptation:
    • Sobek's daughter, the shining goddess (who doesn't exist in Egyptian mythology) is nameless in the comic while in the show she's named "Nebu" (which means "gold").
  • Oblivious to Love: Papyrus never understands why Theti gets mad every time he pays attention to another girl nor does he catch her thinly veiled confessions. In the last episode, Ratoufer outright says that he has yet to learn about girls' hearts.
  • Opening Narration: The opening narrates the conflicts between Set and Horus.
    In the beginning, Horus the falcon god of light and Set the god of evil fought to control Egypt. The council of the Gods decided, Set was sent to exile and Horus became the first pharaoh of Egypt. For two thousand years, pharaoh succeeded pharaoh. But Set had plotted his revenge, and deep inside his sinister black pyramid of Ombos, Set imprisoned Horus in a magic sarcophagus. From then on, and no longer protected by the god Horus, Egypt was at the mercy of Set and his servant Aker. So the gods chose Papyrus, a young fisherman who must find the secret entrance to Ombos, free the god Horus and restore peace to Egypt.
  • Orcus on His Throne: After Papyrus exposes the Evil Chancellor Aker in the pilot, the bad guy would lead the Set cult from their hidden temple, sending threats his way but not face Papyrus directly.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The comics has no central Big Bad and the stories were fairly self-contained. Set was made the Big Bad so a Black-and-White Morality setting could be made. Set being made the central antagonist resulted in some changes of characters such as Seth-Peribsen, a pharaoh whose patron deity was Set, replaced Menes as the antagonist of The Master of the Three Portals.
  • Recycled Animation: The series features lots of this, notably with Aker's scenes in the Pyramid. The final three episodes ("The Djed Pillar", "The Trial of Papyrus" and "The Nightmare"), however, take the cake as they almost entirely consist of entire scenes from earlier episodes awkwardly stitched together.
  • Second Episode Introduction: Hapu, Tiya, Imutep and the Evil Prince Ahmes are all introduced in the second episode "Anger of the Moon God". Bebo, however doesn't appear until the third episode.
  • Spared By Adaptation:
    • The Hittite Princess in "Tears of the Giants" and Chepseska in "Imhotep's Transformation."
    • The Cretan prince Melos was actually killed by Apis in "The Labyrinth."
  • Story Arc: While the series mostly maintains its status quo, a few episodes build up the mystery about Papyrus' origins and true name. He's eventually revealed to be the descendant of Tutankhamun, pharaoh from an old dynasty.
  • Villain Exclusivity Clause: Aker in every episodes sends demons after Papyrus and his friends and summons Set's magic to stop them.