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Pingu is a Swiss stop-motion Claymation children's television series co-created by Otmar Gutmann and Erika Brueggemann, produced by The Pygos Group, and distributed by HIT Entertainment and Cosgrove Hall. The series depicted the adventures of the titular character Pingu, a Bratty Half-Pint little boy penguin somewhat echoing Dennis the Menace (US) living at the south pole.

Each episode of the show was typically between five to six minutes in length, and were consequently fairly barebones in terms of plot; the general trend in them include Pingu encountering a problem or getting into trouble in some way, and then the issue being resolved. A typical plot of an episode would be Pingu having his ball stolen by one of his friends, getting upset about it, and then the friend feeling sorry for him, making up with him, and them then sharing the ball. Since this was the case, networks airing the show compensated by compiling three to four episodes as one block, which, if done twice more, equated to an hour's worth of Pingu airtime (excluding the numerous amount of commercial breaks).

Characters aside from Pingu in the series included his aforementioned friends, Pingg and Pingo; a seal named Robby, whom was his best friend; Pingi, his girlfriend; Pingu's mother and father; and his little sister Pinga.

A quintessential part of the show that added to its international appeal was the lack of a specific language for dialogue between characters. A nonsensical "Penguin Language", which was more or less a composite of bits and pieces of many different languages, was instead used.. This, combined with the simplistic plots and thoroughly entertaining tongue-in-cheek body language, a viewer, regardless of nationality, hardly needed dialogue in order to discern what was happening. However, there is a version of the show called The Pingu Show (formerly aired on the Canadian station APTN) which has an English-speaking voiceover interacting with Pingu between two original episodes. This version was bowdlerized when aired in the UK, thus giving the original APTN version a very bad reputation to many Pingu fans in that country.

Another notable aspect of the show was many episodes of it containing surprisingly mature or even controversial subject matter (predominantly in the form of Nightmare Fuel, but also in the form of Parental Bonus and simply being Played for Laughs) and consequently being banned (either in part or in full) in some countries. See the Trivia page for more details.

The series lasted for six seasons constituting 156 episodes between 1986 and 2006. The original series lasted from 1986 to 2000, was then on hiatus for three years, and then had a UK-produced reboot in 2003 lasting until 2006. The series had another CGI animated reboot titled Pingu in the City, premiering in Japan on October 7th, 2017 and concluded on March 30, 2019 with a total of 52 episodes.

Pingu provides examples of:

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  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Pinga, in some episodes. In other episodes however, Pingu and her appear to get on well.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version has "Pingu Rap" for the opening theme and "Seeds of Happiness" as the ending theme.
  • Art Evolution: Due to switching studios and transitioning to HD, the Uncancelled seasons of the series differ slightly aesthetically. Most visible right of the bat is that the characters are made out of polymer clay instead of standard modelling clay, giving them a more shiny appearance. The scenery is also slightly more complex than in the original series.
    • Pingu in the City goes even further, being entirely computer-made and rendered in a style to resemble the original. Being animated in Japan this time, it also takes on some Animesque traits.
  • Artistic License – Ornithology:
    • Downplayed - The penguins in the show have teeth. In actual fact, penguins do not have teeth, but they do have toothy plates under their beaks to help them swallow fish. At first glance, those do somewhat resemble teeth.
      • The episode Pingu's Lavatory Story depicts the characters urinating just like humans and many other mammals, even though penguins in real-life excrete in same way that other birds usually do.
    • The penguin chicks (such as Pinga) are obviously modeled after Emperor penguin chicks, while the adult and older child penguins (such as Pingu, his parents, and his friends) more closely resemble Adélie penguins.
  • Animesque: Used to some degree in Pingu in the City, with the slightly slower frame rate and the characters making the odd face fault. Of course, that's expected since it was made in Japan.
  • Ball-Balancing Seal: In the episode "Pingu's Circus", Robby the seal puts on an animal tamer act along with Pingu. During the act, Robby balances a ball on his nose and later jumps through hoops.
  • Berserk Button: Do not ignore Pingu's Dad. It won't be pretty.
  • Be the Ball: Pingu and Pinga can morph into balls for many purposes, for instance; cheating on a bowling game.
  • Big Brother Bully: Pingu is occasionally this to Pinga.
  • Bigger on the Inside The igloos in the series are much bigger inside than out.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In "Pingu's Admirer", Pingu and his new girlfriend say goodbye at a signpost with one sign saying "PERESTROYKA" and the other "GLASNOST" — in Cyrillic, which looks a little but not quite like the random Pingu script used throughout the series.
    • Given Otmar Gutmann's Swiss-German background, most character names in the show are derived from German. Pingu comes from Pinguin("Penguin"), while Robby is derived from Robbe ("Seal")
  • Bird-Poop Gag: A running joke is the seagulls pooping on Pingu, which he thinks is intentional.
  • Birthday Episode: "Pingu's Birthday".
  • Birthday Party Goes Wrong: "Pingu's Birthday" has a mild case. At Pingu's birthday party, the kids play "Blind Man's Bluff", with Pingu being the blindfolded one trying to find the other guests. But as he keeps playing, the others keep getting out of his way or redirecting him to something else, and after a while Pingu feels unhappy that he's not winning the game. Fortunately, when his mother comes out with the birthday cake, Pingu instantly cheers up and enjoys the rest of his birthday.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Pinga and the other penguin chicks seen on the show have these.
  • Bowdlerize:
    • On BBC airings of "Pingu Quarrels With His Mother," Pingu's mother slapping him on the cheek is censored.
    • "Hello Pingu": The scenes where Pingg smacks Pingu on his head and Pingo making Pingu trip on his ball is edited out by the BBC when released on VHS due to violence.
    • "Pingu Looks After The Egg": On the BBC VHS release of this episode, the scene where Pingu is stuffed inside the cupboard worried about how his parents will respond to what happened was removed completely, likely due to it unintentionally mirroring a self-harm attempt.
    • "Jealousy";
      • The shot where Pingu pretends to be sick was once cut in the USA because some viewers found it inappropriate.
      • There was also a similar edit to the episode as with "Pingu Looks After the Egg" for the BBC VHS, but it was more elaborate this time around, with the scene of Pingu closing himself in the toy chest being deleted and his mother walking over to comfort him being replaced by a recycled shot from "The New Arrival" of the telephone ringing, which wasn't in the original or remastered versions.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Pingu, obviously, and to a lesser degree all of the children characters in the show.
  • Break the Cutie: Pinga in "Pingu Gets a Bicycle".
  • Broken Aesop: In the episode "Pingu Steals", Pingu steals a jam biscuit from a baker's stall. When his mother finds out, she marches him back and she and the baker decide Pingu should make up for it by cleaning out the baker's chimney. When Pingu has done the job, the baker rewards him with another jam biscuit. Pingu comes home and leaves the biscuit on the table, but when he comes back into the room, Pinga has stolen it and is now eating it. Their mother decides not to help Pingu or make Pinga give it back. So basically, it's okay for Pinga to steal someone else's belongings but not when her brother does it.
  • Brown Note: In "Pingu Has Music Lessons from his Grandfather", the titular protagonist plays his dad's accordion very noisily and unintelligibly outside while a group of penguins are talking to each other. Hilarity Ensues.
  • The Bus Came Back: Pingu's grandfather, the seagulls, and Bajoo the abominable snowman return in Season 2 of Pingu in the City.
  • Cartoon Penguin: The titular penguin, as well as most of the other penguins on the show, are portrayed as having round, mostly black bodies, with a white underbelly. They also have flat, orange feet and red, often duck-like beaks.
  • Catchphrase: "Noot noot!" (Official sources state that the phrase is actually "Nug Nug!", but "Noot Noot" is the form that is used by the meme.)
  • Christmas Episode: Happened twice. Once in the second season with Pingu And His Family Celebrate Christmas and in Pingu In The City/Season 7 with Lost Santa Claus.
  • Comic Trio: Pingu, Pinga and Robby act as one in many episodes. While Pinga and Robby interchange roles, Pingu is almost consistently The Leader.
  • Criminal Doppelgänger: The In The City episode "The Great Blue Chase" has this occur when Pingu and a stout thief that has stolen another penguin's purse both get splattered with blue paint. A crowd pursues who they think is the thief, only to get worn out when one or the other appear from different far away places.
  • Death Notification: An unexpected inclusion of this trope happens in "Pingu Delivers the Mail", in which one of the letters Pingu delivers is clearly a letter of condolences, being a white envelope with a black edge. Tellingly, the penguin he delivers the letter to begins crying after he opens the envelope and reads its contents.
  • Ding-Dong-Ditch Distraction: Pingu rings the doorbell, waits for his father to come outside, and then sneaks right into his house so that he can use the bathroom in "Pingu's Lavatory Story"
  • Extreme Omnivore: The giant seal eats a mattress. He seems to like it.
  • Evil Laugh: The giant seal.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The original 1980 prototype short featured a Tom And Jerry-esque chase sequence with a polar bear, of which its species is never seen in the real show. Pingu was called "Hugo" and had a slightly different lankier design.
    • The second pilot utilised more detailed close-up shots of Pingu. While the penguins had begun talking, their unique language had not fully formed yet, instead consisting of honking noises.
    • In both the second pilot and first episode of the series proper, the penguins that would end up Pingo and Pingg are bullies rather than Pingu's friends.
    • Much of Season 1's episodes were made using modelling clay as opposed to Plasticine, giving the show a less polished, "grungier" look (e.g. slight thumbprints visible in some areas, colors clashing on setpieces, etc.). With the move to Plasticine by Season 3, this look would be gone.
    • Pingu was initially designed with a more penguin-esque look, with a more oval-shaped head and eyes spread further apart.
    • Pingu's staple "noot noot!" sound effect was initially accomplished using a kazoo.
  • Fictional Flag: At the beginning of the episode "Jealousy", we see that Pingu's igloo has a flag on top that resembles the Dominican Republic flag, albeit with a penguin in the center.
  • Fingerless Hands: All of the penguins plus Robby have these, which is justified considering they have flippers, although on rare occasions, they sprout fingers when pointing or making gestures.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: In the infamous "Pingu's Lavatory Story" episode, Pingu loses control of his bladder after drinking several glasses of coloured lemonade at a bar. Riiiight.
  • Furry Reminder: The episode portraying Pinga's birth is chock-full of these, such as both parents sitting on the egg and a midwife arriving with a medical-grade spoon to gently crack the shell.
  • Gainax Ending: "Pingu Takes Revenge" and "Pingu the King".
  • George Lucas Altered Version: In the late '90s, all episodes made before season 3 were remastered, with the side effect being that they had their soundtracks redone by redoing the music (including several songs replaced for copyright reasons) and having Carlo Bonomi redub most of the "dialogue." Some original dialogue tracks and the sound effects stayed the same, most notably with the Christmas Episode. These are the versions HIT Entertainment has used when distributing the series.
  • Giant Squid: Episode 2 of the second season of Pingu in the City features one, which turns out to be a champion at curling.
  • Groin Attack: Episode 9 of Pingu in the City "The Instinct Of Penguins" has this happen to a bad footballer Pingu is trying to teach. Unfortunately, at one moment the footballer has a football straight to his groin. Ouch. However, this causes him to revert to the natural instincts of a penguin (the football between his legs is analogous to a penguin egg), which also greatly increases his dribbling skills.
  • Human Snowball: The entire plot of Pingu and the Snowball can be described with this trope, with the titular snowball containing Pingo inside crashing through various objects while Pingu runs from it.
  • Indy Escape: See 'Human Snowball'.
  • Instant Ice: Just Add Cold!: Pingu's plan to get Pingg to fall through a sawn bridge and into the cold water in "Pingu Takes Revenge" ends up biting him in the ass when he falls into the water himself while trying to prevent his grandfather from crossing the bridge, and later he's fished out of the water, immobilized in a block of ice.
  • Interspecies Romance: Downplayed in Episode 10 of Pingu in the City. The fire chief who competes with the chef for the affections of the flower shop lady is based on a rockhopper penguin, while the other penguins are not (they somewhat resemble adelie penguins).
  • Ironic Birthday: Happens in "Pingu's Birthday," when Pingu and the others play "Blind Man's Bluff," and Pingu is not managing to find anyone and win the game. He tries to enjoy himself, but it's difficult with the others making it hard for him to win. But when Pingu's mother brings out the birthday cake, Pingu feels much better and enjoys the rest of his birthday.
  • The Kiddie Ride: A Pingu ride was made by British ride maker OMC Electronics in the early 90s. It was a strange-looking ride in the shape of a half-barrel/sled-like thing with Pingu and Robby on it. This ride references the episode "Barrel of Fun". The ride plays "Woodpeckers from Space" (with the audio taken from the episode "Pingu Looks After the Egg", sound effects included) and the original instrumental Pingu theme tune.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: The Uncancelled seventh season Pingu In The City is made in Japan and is CGI animated. While the show tries hard to replicate the aesthetics of the original series, it is visibly more Animesque, and makes use of the media change to animate more complex scenes, with the barren artic backdrop now an industrious igloo city with loads of buildings and dozens of characters regularly appearing at once.
  • Licensed Game: With respect to the Gameboy game in 1994 and the PlayStation game in 1999, there were also 2 edutainment games released worldwide. The first is a Barrel of Fun in 1997, and the second is Pingu and Friends in 1999. Both games run on the Macromedia Director engine.
  • Limited Animation: The mutant walrus/seal in Pingu's Dream. There are scenes where he slides in a very flat, two-dimensional manner.
  • A Lizard Named "Liz": All the penguins are named variations of 'Pinguin', and 'Robbe' is German for 'seal'.
  • Long Runner: The original 90s series ran for four seasons spread across the whole decade. It then got Uncancelled for two more seasons in the early 2000s, and again for another two seasons as Pingu in the City.

  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Pingu appeared on 3 compilation tapes not made by The BBC. First Delivers the Mail in NSPCC Children's TV Favourites Volume 2 in 1993, Circus in My Best Friends, also in 1993, and Goes Cross Country in Calling all Toddlers in 1999.
  • Maternity Crisis: "The New Arrival" implies that Pinga was a difficult birth. She makes small whimpering noises as she tries to break the shell, then stops, at which point Pingu's already anxious parents call for the doctor, who eventually has to break the shell with a spoon. Most notably, Pingu's mother is crying and stroking the egg while they wait for the doctor to arrive.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Pingu's name comes from the German word for "Penguin".
    • Likewise, Robby's name is derived from Robbe, the German word for Seal.
  • Men Are Uncultured: In the episode Pingu and Pinga at Home, mum and dad go to the opera. Dad falls asleep.
  • Monstrous Seal: The seal-ish creature that menaces Pingu in "Pingu Dreams" actually got the episode banned in several countries.
  • Multi-Part Episode: Actually it wasn't advertised or aired as such. The episodes "Pingu Helps With Incubating" and "Pinga is Born" revolved around Pinga, in egg form, first wrecking havoc in the igloo, and in the latter episode finally hatching from the egg. Somehow the episodes had different subjects, despite the same story the episodes are telling.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Pingu's mother shows this through expression after slapping Pingu across the face in "Pingu Quarrels With His Mother".
    • Pingu's father is clearly going through this in "Pingu Gets a Bicycle" when he accidentally drives over Pinga's toys and destroys them, leaving her in tears.
  • Mythology Gag: Pingu in the City has a few:
    • The Episode "Pingu and the Egg" has a similar plot to the original Pingu Episode "Pingu looks after the Egg" and Pingu can be seen doing the same dance sequence from the original episode in that episode.
  • New Baby Episode: "The New Arrival"note  is about Pingu's baby sister Pinga hatching from her egg while Pingu tries to see what's going on.
  • No Cartoon Fish: They are a big part of Pingu's diet.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: The giant seal is much more realistic looking than the more simple characters in addition in having human like teeth.
  • Narrator: In the PC videogames, because the characters, as well as Pingu himself, can't speak English. The Pingu Show also has one, but he just interacts with Pingu in the new scenes while leaving the older episodes alone, aside from the openings. The version of that show released in the UK and other British colonies apparently had proper narration added.
  • Never Learned to Read: In the 1997 videogame, the narrator tells the player that Pingu loves drawing, but is not very good at spelling.
  • Oh, Crap!: Quite a few. One noted example is "Pingu Takes Revenge", when Pingu realizes that a fake bridge is made is about to fall just as he tries to stop his Grandfather from crossing it. By the time he realizes this, it's too late... Laser-Guided Karma usually causes this, such as when a penguin refusing to help an old cobbler falls into water from looking up at the sky.note 
  • Parental Bonus: Lots of them in the first three seasons.
  • Penguins Are Ducks: Zig-zagged with the beaks, as sometimes the penguins are shown with pointy bills and sometimes they are shown with round ones. Their feet also don't resemble feet of any real life bird, but look more like duck feet than penguin feet.
  • Poorly Lit Pareidolia: "Pingu Runs Away". Pingu runs off into the night after his parents spank him for misbehaving, and promptly encounters three slabs of ice shaped like scary faces.
  • Put on a Bus: So far everyone except Pingu, Pinga, their parents, and Robby in Pingu in the City. Justified as Pingu and his family moved to a new settlement, while Robby's presence may be explained in that he followed them there. A handful of regulars return in the second season of the reboot.
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: Four times in fact.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: While all the penguins (and one seal) are candidates, Pinga and the other toddler penguins take the cake due to being designed after emperor penguin chicks.
  • Rubber Man: Pingu (and oddly, seemingly no one else, albeit with Pinga being able to turn into a ball) seems to be able to bend and stretch and squash himself into any shape he desires.
  • Shared Family Quirks: Pinga says "Noot noot!" like her brother in episode 7 of Pingu in the City.
  • Shout-Out: Pingu in the City introduces several new characters in addition to the established cast. One of these new additions, a Southern rockhopper penguin, is sometimes referred to in promotional material as Pen-Pen.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Pingu is Jealous.
  • Sleepless Alarm Clock: "Pinga Sleepwalks" ends with Pingu falling asleep at the breakfast table, since he got his sleepwalking sister home just before it was time to wake up.
  • Spaghetti Kiss: Done in "Pingu's Birthday" when Pingu and his girlfriend Pingi share a long thin breadstick-like snack together.
  • Speaking Simlish: Similar to Teletubbies, this trope concerned parents as it felt that the Penguinese language might be hurting the vocal development of their young-uns, though that can be blamed on us, since Carlo Bonomi speaks Italian.
  • Stock "Yuck!":
    • The very first episode, "Hello Pingu", involves Pingu getting annoyed at having to eat his spinach. This would be lampshaded again in "Grandfather Comes to Visit".
    • "Stinky Pingu" shows that Pingu absolutely loathes fish bone porridge. His disgruntled glare at the camera brought on by it has even become a meme.
    • One episode of Pingu in the City has Pinga refusing to eat canned fish. Pingu, however, likes it.
  • Stop Faux-tion: The anime reboot, Pingu in the City, is in CGI but uses textures and animation techniques that make it look like claymation like the original show.
  • Sudden Anatomy: Robby sometimes displays his seal fangs in Pingu in the City.
  • Sweet Seal: Robby The Seal, who is Pingu's best friend. Robby first meets Pingu when he decides to go ice fishing and Robby decides to play tricks on him and steal some of his fish. After Pingu gets annoyed with Robby's tricks he decides to chase him back onto thin ice. Robby attempts to escape by trying to slip through the crack. When Pingu yells at him it causes him to lose his grip and sprain his flipper, causing him to cry after he injures his hand. Pingu comforts him and gives him some food before returning home.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Female characters such as Pingi are identified by exaggerated eyelashes. Although the episode where Pingu's mother attends an opera shows that these eyelashes are only make-up.
  • Theme Tune Extended:
    • The title theme for seasons three and four (and the re-dubbed versions of one and two) is "The Pingu Dance" by David Hasselhoff. A longer excerpt is used in the redubbed version of "Pingu Helps With Incubating".
    • An extended version of the original theme with vocals added was used in some German promotional material.
  • Toilet Humour:
    • By far the most controversial and widely banned episode of the show is "Pingu's Lavatory Story". The episode depicts Pingu drinking too much lemonade at the local bar and rushing home only to find the toilet occupied by his father. Pingu rings the doorbell so his father has to come out and answer it and he then rushes into the bathroom himself. Unfortunately, the toilet is too high, so he urinates on the floor...
    • Another episode (no controversy about this one though), Pingu and the Seagull, involves a seagull crapping on Pingu repeatedly.
    • Farting was featured in two revived series episodes "Stinky Pingu" (where Pinga farts in the bath to make Pingu get out) and "Pingu's Bedtime Shadows" where Pingu farts on the toilet.
    • In the penultimate series, there is an episode entitled Stinky Pingu, which seems harmless enough. However, Pingu doesn't want to take a bath, and runs off comedically. He hides under an open window, but the inhabitant of the house tips a rubbish bin out of the window, showering Pingu in a strange, dark substance...
    • In one episode, Mother is cleaning Pinga's rear after she uses her potty, and during that moment, she wipes her mouth with the sheet she used to clean her.
  • Totally Radical: The 2003 reboot is mostly full of this, especially with the episode where Pingu goes snowboarding.
  • Trademark Favourite Food: Fish, since the cast consists of penguins and a seal. Pingu in the City adds in donuts.
  • Transformation Sequence: Played with in Pingu in the City, where Once an Episode (though not always), Pingu will spin around and don the appropriate clothes for whatever task he's doing. These include a flower apron for floristry, a soccer jersey, a hard hat and tool belt for DIY, a chef's hat and scarf for cooking and a light bulb helmet with goggles and bow tie for inventing! Season 2 adds a factory worker's uniform, a firefighter's helmet, a high-tech diving helmet, an explorer's pith helmet with binoculars and a police officer's cap with matching tie and belt.
    • Pinga and Robby sometimes join him in the sequence and in another episode, his unnamed friend tries it to help with baking but it doesn't work. Pingu provides him with a spare chef's hat anyway.
  • Treasure Map: "Pingu and the Message in a Bottle". Pingu is fishing; Pingo joins him and they fish out a bottle. Smashing it, they find a map. Following it, they find a cave, with a chest with a shell in it inside. Pingu takes the shell, and inside is found a pearl.
  • Toothy Bird: The penguins are sometimes shown with teeth.
  • Uncancelled: Twice over, both leading to a production relocation. When Hit Entertainment bought the rights to Pingu in 2003, a fifth and sixth season were produced in the UK. In 2017, a Japanese seventh and eighth season titled Pingu in the City began airing.
  • Vegetarian Carnivore:
    • Downplayed with Robby. In his debut episode he is shown eating the seaweed Pingu uses for fishing bait, but for most of the series he eats fish like a seal would.
    • Also downplayed with the penguins, who eat fruit and vegetables as well as fish throughout the series.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The seal of "Pingu's Dream." In a series where penguin predators are absent, its presence made the episode scary enough to lead to its censorship.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Pingu and Robby frequently heckle each other, but remain close and always reconcile when things go too far.
  • Wily Walrus: A Nightmare Sequence has Pingu being hunted by a giant walrus/leopard seal/sea lion hybrid. Aside from his creepy appearance, said character first traps Pingu inside an igloo, and then it squashes and stratches the poor penguin like a doll. Finally, it takes the matress of Pingu's animated bed and eats it as if it were a chocolate bar. This scene was considered so scary that the entire episode got banned from US television since its first airing.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • Pingu's mum is okay with slapping or spanking Pingu if he's acting up. Or not, as in both cases it's clear she loses her temper, immediately regrets doing it, and it only makes the situation worse.
    • The seal from "Pingu's Dream" plays with him like a toy. In the children's book adaptation, he almost eats Pingu.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Pingu In The City


Pingu and the Ghost

Pingu is send to his room by his mom for scaring Pinga and ruining the sheet that she just cleaned and ironed.

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