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Western Animation / Shrek Forever After

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"Sometimes I wish I had just one day to feel like a real ogre again."

Shrek Forever After (also known as Shrek: The Final Chapter through promotional material) is the fourth and final installment of the Shrek tetralogy released in 2010 under DreamWorks Animation.

The story follows Shrek, married and now the father of three ogre children, who finds himself in a rut, longing for the days when he was a "real ogre". It just so happens that after angrily storming out of his own children's birthday party, he gets just the opportunity he was looking for from the smooth-talking Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn). After he agrees to trade off one day from his childhood that he doesn't even remember in exchange for one day of romping and terrorizing in an alternate timeline supposedly free of consequence, Shrek realizes that Rumpelstiltskin took away the day that he was born. Now in order to restore things to the way they were, Shrek must team up with the alternate versions of his friends in order to share true love's kiss with his wife Fiona, who has become the leader of an ogre resistance against Rumpelstiltskin, who, as it turns out, was almost granted control over Far Far Away before Shrek rescued Fiona from her castle all those years ago.

Followed by Puss in Boots (2011) in production order, and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish in timeline order.

Not to be confused with Shrek 4D, a theme park attraction set after the events of the first film.

Shrek Forever After contains examples of:

  • Accidental Hero: The opening reveals that Shrek was this for Fiona's parents and their kingdom. The two were about to make a deal with Rumpelstiltskin to "make all their problems go away" in exchange for the crown, but then a messenger announced at the last moment that their daughter had been rescued. In the alternate timeline, the deal goes through, and Harold and Lillian disappear.
  • Action Girl: The alternate universe version of Fiona is far more badass compared to her regular counterpart; she had escaped Dragon's Keep on her own after waiting long enough and had become a leader of a rebellion.
  • Actor Allusion: Donkey very poorly sings the final line of Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love Of All", a reference to Eddie Murphy's role as the incredibly untalented Randy Watson in Coming to America.
    • The Pied Piper shows off his abilities by playing the riff to "Sure Shot" and making the witches break out in dance. Jeremy Steig, who performs the Pied Piper's fluting in the movie, is the artist behind the song that "Sure Shot's" main riff is sampled from. Coincidentally, he's also the son of William Steig, the author behind the original Shrek book.
  • Actually a Good Idea: Rumpelstiltskin is absolutely terrible to his witch underlings, using their vulnerability to water as a reason why they had better come up with a good plan. After a couple others make bad suggestions, one witch prposes hiring a Bounty Hunter, which prompts Rumpel to throw water in her face. Then he flippantly remarks that's actually an idea worth pursuing.
  • Advertised Extra: Alternate Gingy doesn’t play nearly as big a role as trailers and posters imply.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Defied. Shrek tries to get Donkey to track down Fiona by tracking her scent from her hankerchief, only for Donkey to call him out for treating him like a dog. It's played straight immediately afterwards when Donkey tracks down waffles in the forest by sniffing them out.
  • Alternate Universe: Due to Rumpelstiltskin's plotting, the movie takes place in a universe in which Shrek had never been born.
  • Amazon Brigade: Rumpelstiltskin's army is made entirely of witches.
  • Anaphora: After accidentally wishing he had never been born, Shrek has to convince Fiona that she's his true love. He does so by telling her everything he knows about her:
    Shrek: I know you sing so beautifully that birds explode. I know that when you sign your name, you put a heart over the i. I know that when you see a shooting star you cross your fingers on both hands, squinch up your nose, and you make a wish, I know that you don't like the covers wrapped around your feet, and I know that you sleep by candlelight because every time you close your eyes, you're afraid you're going to wake up back in that tower.
  • Annoyingly Repetitive Child: When Shrek is feeling bored and like every day is the same, one of the things he's frustrated with is his baby daughter Felicia squeaking a squeaky doll.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • When Shrek says he wants to live the life he had again.
      Fiona: Shrek, you have three beautiful children, a wife who loves you, friends who adore you. You have everything. Why is it that the only person who can't see that is you?
    • When the alternate Fiona says she no longer believes in true love after waiting long enough in the Keep.
      Shrek: But... I'm your true love.
      Fiona: Then where were you when I needed you?
  • Ate It All: Not only did the Three Pigs eat the cake that was meant for the partygoers, but they ate all the desserts too.
  • Ax-Crazy: Rumpelstiltskin. Don't be fooled by the trickster shell. Deep down, he's really a homicidal sociopath.
  • Award-Bait Song: "Darling I Do" by Landon Pigg & Lucy Schwartz.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Pretty much the theme of the movie, Shrek pines for the days before he was married and was feared by humans. When he finally gets it, he does enjoy it for a bit until he realizes the consequences of his wish and how important he truly was in the grand scheme of his world.
  • Bad Boss: Rumpelstiltskin. He seems like a good one at first, letting his witches having a rave in his castle and all that. After Shrek escapes however, he drops all the niceness and starts threatening their lives, never mind that he was the one that pushed Shrek too far. Specifically: the scene where he summons a council of witches where he first starts out as a loving patron, scolds them about letting Shrek escape and finally snaps into rage, killing one of them on screen by pouring water onto her. We all know what water does to witches... That just doesn't mark him evil, but insane Ax-Crazy.
  • Bad Future: The premise has Shrek sign away his life after mourning his past. The result: He's sent into a universe where he was never born; where he'd never met his friends Donkey or Puss or his true love Fiona.
  • Big Bad: Rumpelstiltskin is the bad guy of this movie.
  • Blunt "Yes": Played for Drama. When Fiona asks Shrek if he wishes his life could go back to the way it was before he met her, Shrek unhesitatingly says "Exactly!", much to Fiona's shock.
  • Book Ends:
    • The first film and this film have the song "I'm a Believer" at the end.
    • The first film began with Shrek opening a storybook at the beginning, and this film has Shrek closing the book and putting it away on a shelf, as he's reached the end of his story.
  • Boredom Montage: Shrek with repetitive family life near the start.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: When King Harold and Queen Lillian argue about their decision to break Fiona's curse by making a deal with Rumpelstiltskin, Lillian is right to mistrust Fairy Godmother and her plan to have Charming break the curse with a true love's kiss, while Harold highly doubts trusting Rumpelstiltskin is a good idea, and the alternate timeline proves it most certainly isn't.
  • Bounty Hunter: The Pied Piper is hired by Rumpelstiltskin as a bounty hunter to capture the ogres.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs:
    Donkey: I mean, I cry all the time. Just thinking about my grandma. Or thinking about baby kittens. Or thinking about my grandma kissing baby kittens. Or... a little baby grandma kitten.
  • Broken Bird: Fiona in the new timeline, as a result of Shrek not rescuing her, no longer believes in true love.
    Fiona: True love didn't get me out of that tower, I did. I saved myself. Don't you get it? It's all just a big fairy tale!
    Shrek: Fiona, don't say that, it does exist!
    Fiona: And how would you know? Did you grow up locked away in a dragon's keep? Did you live all alone in a miserable tower? Did you cry yourself to sleep every night waiting for a true love that never came?
  • Bullying a Dragon: A heroic example. When Shrek is captured by the witches and brought before him, Rumpelstiltskin proceeds to gloat about how he was conned—culminating in telling him his kids no longer exist and laughing about it. All Rumpelstiltskin accomplishes, though, is enraging Shrek to the point that he breaks free and escapes.
  • Call-Back:
    • The Suck E. Cheese's at the beginning is actually The Poison Apple from the second movie under new management, as the original sign is in the trash outside where Rumpelstiltskin is foraging for food.
    • When Shrek is trying to convince the alternate Fiona he knows her, he recalls she sings so beautifully that birds explode. And during the end credits, the original Fiona does the same thing to another blue bird, as well as Fifi.
    • Shrek utters to Rumpel "Next to mimes, magicians are my favorite people." A little reminder about his encounter with Merlin in Shrek the Third.
    • When several people are unsuccessfully trying to bring Shrek to Rumpel, Pinocchio arrives with Gepetto in chains and badly dressed as Shrek, referencing Gepetto selling him out to the Duloc guards in the first film.
    • The alternate Dragon is defeated when Shrek and the alternate Fiona tie her up with chains, which is how the original Dragon was defeated in the first movie.
  • Car Radio Dispute: Cars with radios of course don't exist in the world of Shrek, but it manages to use this trope anyway: in the alternate timeline created by Rumpelstiltskin, Donkey never met Shrek and is instead forced to work for two witches, pulling their wagon while also entertaining them with a song. The witch riding shotgun doesn't like the song and whips Donkey to make him sing something else, but then the witch holding the reins claims she gets to pick the music as she is driving, and whips Donkey again to make him switch to another song.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: Seen as a local hero and role model, Shrek finds himself constantly pestered by tour groups and villagers, to the extent he actually wishes humans were still afraid of him so he could have peace. He gets his wish thanks to Rumpelstiltskin, but soon realizes what exactly he gave up and comes out of the misadventure with newfound appreciation for his life.
  • Cheerful Child: The dronkeys and the ogre triplets.
  • Chekhov's Gun: One of the things Shrek and Donkey do to escape Rumpelstiltskin's castle is break off the chandelier ball. This comes back in the third act, when Donkey pretends to gift Rumpelstiltskin with a new chandelier ball, which is actually an elaborate shield formation containing the entire ogre resistance.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Fiona's way to tie knots. This is used near the end of the climax when Shrek and the alternate Fiona take down the alternate Dragon with their chains.
    "The dragon goes under the bridge, through the loop, and finally... into the castle."
  • Chirping Crickets: When Shrek meets Fiona for the first time in the alternate timeline and tries to tell her who he is, the story is so unbelievable that all the ogres are speechless, and crickets are heard chirping in the background.
  • Continuity Nod: There are plenty made towards the first film.
    • As Shrek finally gets to live out his glory days as an ogre, he tells some townspeople, "This is the part where you run away!", referencing him saying the same things to a group of rioters in the first movie's beginning.
    • When Shrek and Donkey are rushing to the dragon's keep to find Fiona, part of the wooden bridge breaks off when Donkey steps on it in a similar way to when it happened in the first movie. Donkey's shocked expression is exactly the same, too.
    • One of Shrek's attempts to woo the alternate Fiona is through inflating a live frog into a balloon, which is exactly what he did when Fiona was a human.
    • Near the end of the storybook, the supporting villains from Shrek the Thirdnote  are seen in the page of Far Far Away finally at peace, in reference to the final scene where the villains had turned a corner from Arthur Pendragon's speech.
  • Creative Closing Credits: Characters and clips from the previous three films are put together in a sequence.
  • Crying at Your Birthday Party: During the ogre triplets' first birthday party, the triplets start wailing after the Three Pigs confess that they ate all the cakes.
  • Cue the Falling Object: After Shrek smashes the birthday cake and leaves the party, everyone stares in horror while Gingy's frosting chaps fall from his legs.
  • Curse Escape Clause:
    • All of Rumpelstiltskin's contracts have one of these, but he's smart enough to hide it by making it so that you have to fold the contract a certain way in order to read it. In Shrek's case, it's a True Love's Kiss.
    • Mention is made of the original "guess my real name" clause from the original fairy tale, but Rumpelstiltskin had to abandon it after his name became too wide spread.
  • Daddy's Girl: Felicia seems to be especially close to Shrek. Finding her toy in his pocket and realizing she doesn't exist causes him to shed Manly Tears.
  • Dance Party Ending: "I'm a Believer" returns to kick off the closing credits.
  • Darker and Edgier: The first chapter was more Ruder and Cruder, while the second chapter and The Third were Lighter and Softer. With Forever After, its premise has Shrek painfully aware of just how much Lighter and Softer things have gotten, and winding up in a world where he'd never existed and Far Far Away had been run by an Ax-Crazy antagonist. Also, the alternate timeline downplays a lot of the Purely Aesthetic Era the previous movies liberally used, bringing it much closer to a straight Dark Fantasy with some comedy.
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration: Happened offscreen where Donkey gets the idea to have the ogre resistance use their shields to form a "pretty ball" similar to the one that got wrecked from Shrek and Donkey's first escape from Rumpelstiltskin's castle. While it's being set up, Rumpelstiltskin comments that "it looks a little different than the catalog", implying that the resistance pretended to be the replacement he ordered.
  • Double Entendre:
    • At the beginning of the movie, Rumpelstiltskin tears out pages from a fairytale book in Pinocchio's bookstore. How will he pay?
      Rumpelstiltskin: "Maybe we could make a deal for it, little boy."
      Pinocchio: "Oh, I'm not a real boy."
      Rumpelstiltskin: "Do you wanna be?"
    • "My donkey fell in your waffle hole."
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After everything Shrek went through (making a deal with Rumpelstiltskin, realizing he lost his love, family and life), he learned to appreciate the life he has, earned back Fiona's love, and got his life back.
  • Ear Trumpet: After signing Rumpelstiltskin's contract, Shrek goes around scaring villagers by roaring at them, but he simply whispers "roar" into an elderly woman's ear trumpet.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: A variant occurs, where Shrek finds his daughter's favorite doll apparently having fallen from one of his pockets. It has the same "Isolated doll" factor if the circumstances aren't identical to the norm.
  • Everyone Hates Mimes: "Oh, great, next to mimes, magicians are my favorite people."
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Shrek terrorizes a village, finds out his entire life has been undone, gets captured and subsequently escapes, joins the resistance, etc. all in 24 hours. Due to the Reset Button taking him back before he snapped at the birthday party, only a few seconds had passed overall.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Everything from the start to the part where Rumpelstiltskin gets kicked out of Pinocchio's bookstore and wishes Shrek was never born is both this and backstory for him.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Shrek when it looks like his time has run out. Luckily, he's still saved.
    Shrek: [to Fiona] You know what the best part of today was? I got the chance to fall in love with you all over again.
  • Fake Better Alternate Timeline: When Shrek wants to be feared again, Rumpelstiltskin puts him into another timeline. He gets to be feared again, which he likes, but then it turns out that in this timeline, he was never born and will subsequently cease to exist when the day is over. This means that his kids (naturally) don't exist, Rumpelstiltskin became king after killing Fiona's parents, Puss has become a pampered Fat Slob, and Fiona becomes a warlike leader of a rebel group of ogres.
  • Family Man: Shrek and Donkey have both become this. Shrek, to his chagrin at first, but later comes to appreciate it as he realizes how much his family and friends completed his life. Donkey loves it completely though. In the alternate universe, he's super excited to find out from Shrek that he's a father.
  • Fauxdian Slip: Rumpel to Shrek after he asked which day he'd have to give up.
    Rumpelstiltskin: Oh, I don't know, any day; a day from your past. How about a day you had the flu? A day you lost a pet? A day some meddling oaf stuck his big nose where it didn't belong, destroying your business and RUINING YOUR LIFE?! ... Just for an example.
  • Fell Asleep Crying: While telling Shrek off, Alternate Fiona says, "Did you cry yourself to sleep every night? Waiting for a true love that never came?!"
  • Fisher King: Rumpelstiltskin's luxurious palace surrounded by the barren fields and run-down city. This is likely due to simple greed as opposed to a magical connection between the king and the land though.
  • Formerly Fit: Happened to Puss in the alternate universe, as abandoning his swashbuckling activites and living a spoiled pet life led him to become very overweight. His weight is now a touchy subject.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Inside Shrek's drawer, Fiona's handkerchief can briefly be seen before Shrek's hand comes into frame, obscuring it because of his search for his "Wanted" poster.
    • During Shrek's and Fiona's argument at their triplets' birthday party, one can see that there is a sign of the Poison Apple behind them, having been taken down. It really speaks lengths towards the amount of fairytale villains deciding to change their ways after Artie's speech in Shrek the Third, putting this Bad Guy Bar out of business.
  • From Bad to Worse: Shrek starts to realize something is wrong when he finds a wanted poster with Fiona's face on it. It gets progressively worse from there.
  • Furry Confusion: Non-anthropomorphic pigs are seen in the village where Shrek is scaring people, in the same film as the anthropomorphic Three Little Pigs.
  • Good Costume Switch: The Pied Piper wears white in the Dance Party Ending. Maybe he was only evil in Rumpel's world.
  • Grand Finale: The movie was intended to act as "the final chapter" in the Shrek franchise, though a fifth one is in production as of 2023.
  • Grass is Greener: Shrek has grown tired of being a family man and celebrity among the local villagers, and longs for the days where he was a "real ogre", feared by villagers and actually had privacy. He gets his wish, and soon begins to understand the consequences of his actions and how important he was to the grand scheme of things; among other things, his children no longer exist, and Fiona's parents have been erased from existence. Best summed up in this exchange between himself and Donkey near the climax:
    Donkey: If your life was so perfect, then why'd you sign it all away to Rumpelstiltskin in the first place?
    Shrek: Because I didn't know what I had until it was gone, alright?! I didn't know what I had...
  • Groin Attack: Averted, this is the only movie of the series where Shrek doesn't get this kind of attack.
  • Heroes' Frontier Step: Shrek, when he realizes he can't get his life back. He turns himself in so he can use Rumpelstiltskin's "Deal of A Lifetime" to free Fiona and the other ogres, and when Rumpelstiltskin is defeated and Shrek starts to disappear he accepts this and is happy Fiona is safe and he had a happy life with her.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Played with. Queen Lillian never trusted the Fairy Godmother nor her plan to break Fiona's curse, yet she suggested she and Harold turn to Rumpelstiltskin's help of all people.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Shrek turns himself in to Rumpel in order to get the loophole-free wish that had been offered. He anticipated that he can't use it to break the Ogre For a Day contract, so he had a different wish in mind: setting the captured ogres free.
  • I'll Be Your Best Friend: Donkey says it to Shrek when trying to get him to do a birthday sing-a-long.
  • Involuntary Dance: The Pied Piper's flute has a dial that can be set to any known creature and makes them dance uncontrollably when he plays. The bounty hunter uses his flute to capture his quarry by forcing them to dance. He teaches some witches a lesson by forcing them to break dance. Later he singlehandedly defeats the Badass Army of Ogres with a full choreography and a conga line straight to Rumpelstiltskin's castle.
  • Irony: Rumpel, while tricking Shrek into signing his ogre for a Day contract, he claims to him that he'll "feel like a changed ogre". And by the end, Shrek accepts his current life with his friends and family after his day was up.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: A variant where Shrek physically travels and explores a timeline where he was never born instead of just looking at it from his own timeline.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Once Shrek realizes he can't just simply make Fiona love him again, his priorities change to simply trying to save her from Rumpelstiltskin.
  • Jerkass Realization: After Shrek had signed away his birth, regret hits him very hard. Even how he regrets not accepting his current life in the original timeline.
  • Just in Time: The messenger in the beginning prevents Fiona's parents from signing away their kingdom (and lives) moments before they were about to do so.
  • Kick the Dog: Shrek telling Fiona he was better off before he rescued her.
    Shrek: Look, all I want is for things to go back to the way they used to be. Back when villagers were afraid of me, and I could take a mud bath in peace, when I could do what I wanted when I wanted to do it. Back when the world made sense.
    Fiona: You mean, back before you rescued me from the dragon's keep?
    Shrek: Exactly!
  • Kryptonite Factor: The exit clause is hidden inside the contract, revealed not in the small print — which at least some people would be smart enough to read, but by refolding the paper to reveal the hidden words (knowing Rumpelstiltskin's name as per the legend isn't enough, as everyone knows Rumpelstiltskin, so he had to get clever).
  • La Résistance: Fiona runs this in the alternate timeline against Rumpelstiltskin.
  • Left the Background Music On: The end of Shrek’s day at the beginning of the movie shows Shrek and Fiona having a loving moment with a romantic song playing. The camera zooms out to show Puss is still around singing.
  • Literal Metaphor: Rumpelstiltskin makes a remark about how it's "time to pay the piper". Nothing happens. He then explains to one of the witches that he means literally pay, as he's a bounty hunter.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • Rumpelstiltskin's specialty; his contract with Shrek is to trade a day from his life he won't remember - a day when he was a baby, for instance - in exchange for a consequence free day in an alternate timeline where he will be feared again so he can have fun terrorizing people and afterwards everything will go back to normal. The day in question turns out to be the day Shrek was born, and the alternate timeline is one where Shrek was never born; so instead of reverting back to the original timeline when the day ends, the timeline where Shrek was never born will become the real timeline and Shrek will cease to exist instead.
    • In the opening it is revealed that in desperation, the king and queen had turned to Rumpelstiltskin to save Fiona from her curse. His deal to "make all their problems go away" in exchange for the crown to Far Far Away is interrupted by Shrek's actions in the first film. In the Shrek-less timeline they agree to the deal and Rumpelstiltskin makes their problems disappear by making them disappear.
    • Both Shrek and Rumpelstiltskin pull this near the end of the film. Rumpelstiltskin places a bounty on Shrek, offering a wish to the one who brings him Shrek. Shrek decides to turn himself in, with the wish being for Rumpelstiltskin to free all ogres. Rumpelstiltskin agrees, but reveals that Fiona isn't freed due to the fact that, due to her only being an ogre during the night time, she isn't "all ogre".
  • Loved by All: Deconstructed. After all of his heroic deeds in previous films, everyone has grown to love Shrek, not just his family and friends, but also people from all over the land who come to visit him in is swamp. Having to be the center of everyone's attention plus having to play many different roles from a father to a friend to a celebrity takes its toll on Shrek, as he now is denied any time he can have to himself. It makes him long for the perception he had at the start of the first movie, a fearsome hermit, which triggers his Nostalgia Filter. Rumpelstiltskin takes advantage of this, and tricks him into signing a deal that turns Far Far Away into a wasteland ruled by Rumpel.
  • Magic Countdown: Rumpelstiltskin's sand timer, that measures the 'day' Shrek has before he'll vanish away forever if he doesn't get true love's kiss. When it first appears, only a tiny bit of sand has fallen, even though Shrek must have spent a good part of the day scaring villagers, getting captured, and being carried to Far Far Away.
  • Magically-Binding Contract: Written by a malicious Literal Genie. Don't sign them. One special contract he gives out at one point promises what you want without any price at all, as long as it isn't about undoing any active contracts.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Rumpelstiltskin, who tricks people into signing his contracts to get what he wants.
  • Manly Tears: Shrek sheds a manly tear when he saw his daughter's doll when he was in the alternate reality and he realizes she and her brothers don't exist there at all. That is the first time we have ever seen Shrek cry.
  • The Music Meister: The Pied Piper is a bounty hunter who uses his flute to capture his quarry by forcing them to dance.
  • Mouthscreen: Played for Laughs. When the ogres serve Donkey a bowl of eyeballs, he makes two of them come out of his nose and we get a close-up of his mouth.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Shrek spends much of the movie seeing how his inability to appreciate what he had effectively ruined the lives of Fiona, Donkey, Puss, and virtually everyone not named Rumpelstiltskin.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • A commercial on TV (TV spot) makes it look like Donkey tries showing a trick where he shuts his eyes tight and they pop out through his nostrils. He is actually at an ogre dinner, where they eat plates of eyeballs like fruit, and the trick he does actually doesn't involve his own eyes!
    • Additionally, Army Navy's cover of "Right Back Where We Started From" doesn't actually appear in the movie (though the original version by Maxine Nightingale does play over the credits), and what is suggested to be a Disney Acid Sequence actually has an explanation.
    • In one trailer "All By Myself" plays in the background while Puss is making cute eyes. While it was meant to be clear that this was added for the trailer, the song is used in other movies when a character is feeling sad, making it seem like it would be part of the movie.
    • The first TV spots that showed in the UK almost made it seem that the fat kid at the party (named Butterpants) was a sort of main character, and also had the roar scene from the party shortened down to:
      Butterpants: Do the roar!
      Shrek: I'd rather not...
      Butterpants: Do it!
      Shrek: *Roars*
    • There was a hint somewhere that Brogan would be Shrek's rival for Fiona's love, but that never happens. It's mentioned in one of the DVD features that he was originally going to be called Gnimrahc and was indeed planned to be a love interest for Fiona, but the idea was scrapped.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The whole crisis takes place because Shrek felt dissatisfied with his life and made a deal with Rumpelstiltskin without considering the consequences or implications in full detail.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: When Shrek bursts through the trunk of the tree that used to contain his home, only to find... nothing but a few scurrying rats. That's when you really get the feeling of "Oh, my God, what has happened to the world?"
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • After enjoying his time as a scary ogre again, Shrek has a moment when he sees a wanted poster with Fiona's face on it, surrounded by more identical posters with weapons lodged into them.
    • Donkey can only utter a scared "uh-oh" after his attempt at wooing Dragon fails, right before he gets eaten. Fortunately, Puss promptly makes her spit him out.
  • Orbital Kiss: Thoroughly subverted. The Big Damn Kiss happens, with the camera orbit, colorful lights and everything, but then Fiona angrily wipes her lips off and the world reverts to dark and bleak.
  • Orphaned Punchline: Shrek when riding in Rumpelstiltskin's carriage.
    Shrek: And the centaur said, "That's not the half I'm talking about!"
  • Out-Gambitted: At the climax of the movie, Shrek uses the loophole of turning himself in to Rumpelstiltskin to get a free wish, which he uses to make Rumpel free all ogres, especially Fiona. But while it worked for every other ogre, Rumpelstiltskin presents his own loophole on why he won't set Fiona free, because her curse doesn't make her "all ogre".
    Rumpelstiltskin: Nobody smart but me!
  • Point of Divergence: In the beginning, Fiona's parents were literally seconds away from signing away their kingdom and lives for Fiona's freedom, only for a messenger to break in reporting that someone saved Fiona, causing them to tear up the contract and leave Rumpelstiltskin in the dust. In the alternate timeline where Shrek was never born, the messenger didn't arrive since Fiona wasn't rescued by anyone, causing the contract to be signed and letting Rumpelstiltskin take over.
  • Pun: Puss and Donkey manage to make a few.
    Donkey: Man, you are a cat-astrophe!
    Puss: And you are ri-donkey-lous!
    [Beat; they both start laughing]
  • Production Foreshadowing: After Shrek closes the book to his story, he places it on the shelf next to another book titled "Puss in Boots", which would tell the tale of Puss' origins.note 
  • Pun-Based Title: The film was initially announced as Shrek Goes Fourth, a pun on the word "forth" and this being the fourth Shrek film. The movie's final title can be read as a similar pun, too (Shrek four-ever after).
  • Race Against the Clock: If Shrek can't get True Love's Kiss before the hourglass runs out, the changes become permanent, and he will cease to exist.
  • Rage Breaking Point:
    • Overwhelmed by the chaos during his kids' first birthday party, Shrek vents his anger with a roar and storms off.
    • Shrek is already in one foul mood when taken to Rumpelstiltskin's castle and told what his wish has truly wrought, but then Rumpel tells him that (on top of everything else) his children no longer exist. Amid all the gloating and mocking laughter, Shrek explodes and breaks free of the chains.
  • Reset Button: When Shrek and Fiona share True Love's Kiss just as Shrek is fading from existence, the alternate-universe shatters around Rumpelstiltskin as all of the people within it disappear. When Shrek returns to the prime-universe, he was seen mid-roaring at the birthday party.
  • Ret-Gone: After Shrek is tricked by Rumpelstiltskin, the former finds himself Ret Gone. His children don't exist, and neither Donkey nor Fiona remember him.
  • Rule of Symbolism: After the Boredom Montage, Shrek quickly rummages through his drawer at night for his "Wanted" poster, which is all the way at the bottom. But if you look closely, the handkerchief that Fiona wanted to give Shrek in their first meeting is the very first thing he sees. It emphasizes how he is starting to tire of married life, and wishes to be that feared ogre from the very beginning again.
  • Running Gag: Perhaps it's a coincidence, but Rumpelstiltskin marks the third Shrek villain who is vertically challenged. This carries into Puss in Boots with Humpty Dumpty.
  • Sand In My Eyes: While holding his daughter's doll, Shrek cries. Donkey is sympathetic and says he never saw an ogre cry before, to which Shrek asserts while wiping his eye that he's not crying.
  • Scenery Gorn: The first view of the alternate-universe land of Far, Far Away— which has been transformed from a Hollywood-like, beautiful (if commercialized) oasis into a desert wasteland with Rumpelstiltskin's palace at the center. The "Far Far Away" Hollywood sign is mostly destroyed, too.
  • Schmuck Bait: Donkey just after visiting the dragon's keep. Lampshaded by Shrek.
    Shrek: There's a stack of freshly made waffles in the middle of the forest! Don't you find that a wee bit suspicious?
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • The Rumpelstiltskins in The Third and Forever After are nothing alike other than being villains. It's certainly not a Species Surname either because (thanks to a huge Art Shift) they don't even look like the same species.
    • The witches shown in this film are green skinned while in the the other films, they have regular colored skin.
    • The Pied Piper appears briefly in a throwaway gag in the first film. Again, his Shrek incarnation looks nothing like how he does here.
    • In Shrek 2, we can see it takes days to go from Shrek's swamp to Far Far Away. However, in Forever After, Shrek travels the same distance three times within less than a day.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: A completely accidental variation on the time traveler's part; once Shrek's deal with Rumpelstiltskin is undone, he's sent back to the point in the triplets' birthday party before he smashed their cake and made a deal with Rumpel. Shrek takes advantage of the fresh start and enjoys the party, neither smashing the cake nor making the deal with Rumpel.
  • Shout-Out: Shares a page with the rest of the series.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Fiona only starts warming to Shrek when they bash each other up during combat training.
  • Smart Ball: Donkey, of all people. The mule provides Shrek with his knowledge of Rumpelstiltskin's contracts, and at one point gives Shrek the answer by folding the ogre's contract, where being folded, it gives out the words "True Love's Kiss".
  • Stealth Pun: That carriage park screams "Witch Trash".
  • Suicidal "Gotcha!": In the climax Rumpelstilskin is cornered by the ogre warriors and jumps backward off the balcony, causing them all to gasp. He then appears riding Fifi, his giant pet goose and says "So long!"
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Invoked often, to the point where the entire movie is one for the series. Even in a literal fairy tale world, midlife crises happen. The most idyllic of marriages can become strained, especially when kids get involved. And no matter how hard you try, you can't just make someone fall for you on the spot.
  • Temporal Abortion: Shrek makes a deal with Rumpelstiltskin to give him 24 hours to be a proper ogre again in exchange for 1 previous day of his life. Unfortunately, this was a scam because Rumpel actually despises Shrek. The day he took was the day Shrek was born, meaning he doesn't exist anymore, leading to a Butterfly Effect that makes Rumpel the supreme dictator over Far Far Away.
  • This Cannot Be!: Rumpelstiltskin when the contract is broken at literally the last second.
  • Tinkle in the Eye: Subverted as it turns out baby Fergus in fact just took a goldfish out of its bowl and had it spit water in Shrek's face. Shrek replies to his baby son on this, sarcastically saying it was real cute.
  • Toothy Bird: Rumpel's giant goose, Fifi has teeth.
  • Tragic Keepsake: After he's initially failed to convince Donkey of the truth, Shrek takes out his daughter's doll. While cradling the doll, Shrek reflects on what he's lost and begins to cry.
  • Trashy Trailer Home: Rumpelstiltskin is introduced living in a hackneyed fantasy equivalent, a "carriage park" populated primarily by witches acting out various redneck stereotypes. The queen locks the doors when they ride through.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: Rumplestiltskin does this a few times, mainly during his message to Far Far Away regarding a bounty being placed on Shrek.
  • Unknown Rival: As a result of Shrek's actions in the first movie, Rumpelstiltskin lost out on his biggest deal ever (the chance to take over Far Far Away). Everything since then went progressively worse for him, leaving him leaving in squalor and unable to make any kind of deal with anyone. He blames Shrek for his misfortunes and can barely mask his anger towards him when they first make a deal, but Shrek is oblivious. It naturally gets very personal on Shrek's end, as the movie progresses.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Determined not to let Shrek reclaim Fiona's love for him and nullify Rumpel's contract, Rumpel becomes more and more enraged in his determination to keep the alternate timeline the dystopia it is. When Shrek succeeds in reclaiming Fiona's true love's kiss, nullifying the contract, Rumpel starts begging for more time like a hysterical baby as his whole alternate reality disappears before his very eyes.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back!: The "jerk" here is the human race. The main theme of the first two movies is how badly Shrek is treated by humans. By the beginning of the fourth film, Shrek becomes annoyed at the humans treating him nicely and longs for the days when he would run about villages scaring them.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The witches dissolve in water. Oddly, the ogre resistance never takes advantage of this; it's just used by Rumpelstiltskin in a You Have Failed Me moment. Though it is possible that the ogres aren't aware of such weakness (plus, ogres aren't exactly fond of water either).
  • Wham Shot: While enjoying performing classic ogre actions, Shrek is amused to see some wanted posters. Then he sees one with Fiona's face. Things get substantially worse from here.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Fiona gives Shrek one during the kids' birthday party for not appreciating what he has.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Shrek experiences this in the third act. After True Love's Kiss has failed and Fiona has fully rejected him, he turns himself in to Rumplestiltskin in exchange for a wish. This entire Alternate Universe only exists because of his selfishness, and he has the option to wish himself right out of the whole mess with a single signature. No one would ever know what he had done except him and Rumpelstiltskin. But instead of wishing for his own freedom, he wishes for the freedom of all the other ogres, giving up his chance at staying with Fiona for her sake and the sake of her cause despite knowing he's going to die at the end of the day if he doesn't.
  • Wheel of Pain: As Shrek as carried in the carriage to Rumpelstilskin’s castle, he sees some Ogre slaves turning a giant wheel that opens a drawbridge.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Aside from how it's loosely similar to It's a Wonderful Life, the premise also references the climax of The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause; where Jack Frost tricks Scott Calvin into giving up his life as Santa Claus, resulting in Frost taking over the title and the turning the North Pole into a tourist attraction; like how Rumpelstiltskin tricks Shrek into signing away his life so Rumpel can become king of Far Far Away, which becomes desolate and run down.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: What Rumpelstiltskin uses to meet Shrek. He's trapped under his carriage à la Wicked Witch of the East, with one of the front wheels off.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Rumpel thinks Shrek surrendered to get the loophole free wish and save himself, but Shrek had a much different idea in mind.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Shrek's reaction to seeing alternate Puss.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Shrek The Final Chapter


Shrek Forever After

Used again in Shrek Forever After, with multiple pages being ripped off in frustration by the villain, Rumpelstiltskin.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / StorybookOpening

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