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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 content) 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.


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

Shrek Forever After contains examples of:

  • 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.
  • Advertised Extra: Alternate Gingy doesn’t play nearly as big a role as trailers and posters imply.
  • Alternate Universe: Due to Rumpelstiltskin's plotting, the movie takes place in a universe in which Shrek had never been born.
  • An Aesop:
    • You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
    • Appreciate what you have.
    • If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
    • True love isn’t always love at first sight.
    • Be careful what you wish for.
  • 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?
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    • 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?
  • Ax-Crazy: Rumpelstiltskin. Don't be fooled by the trickster shell. Deep down, he's really a homicidal sociopath.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Cookie.
  • 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.
  • Badass Army: The ogres.
  • 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.
  • Big Bad: Rumplestiltskin.
  • Bounty Hunter: The Pied Piper.
  • Brick Joke: Shrek says he's not going to eat Rumpelstiltskin because he "already had curly-toed weirdo for breakfast." When Rumpel is finally caught, the ogres say exactly what they're having for breakfast.
  • Bride and Switch: Played for Laughs during a montage in which Shrek dresses as a veiled bride at a man's wedding.
  • 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 storybook at the beginning, and this film has Shrek closing the book as he's reached the end of his story.
  • Boredom Montage: Shrek with repetitive family life near the start.
  • 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. All Rumpelstiltskin accomplishes, though, is enraging Shrek to the point of breaking free and escaping.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: An evil variant in Rumpelstiltskin and his obsession with wigs.
  • Call-Back:
    • 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 film'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.
    • When Shrek is trying to convince Fiona he knows her, he recalls she sings so beautifully that birds explode.
  • 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 Skill: How to tie knots. ("The dragon goes under the bridge...")
  • 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: Shrek utters to Rumpel "Next to mimes, magicians are my favorite people." A little reminder, he had an encounter with Merlin in The Third.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: One of the witches at the beginning.
  • Creative Closing Credits: Characters and clips from the previous three films are put together in a sequence.
  • 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: Somewhat, though to be fair the last two films had gotten progressively Lighter and Softer.
  • 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.
  • 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, after 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Rumpelstiltskin.
  • Fauxdian Slip: Rumpel does this after Shrek 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.
  • For Want of a Nail: 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.
  • 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.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Now has its own page.
  • 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 recently there have been rumors about a fifth one in the works or even a reboot.
  • 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!
  • 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 Lilian 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 their 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.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: The film's plot can be neatly summed up as It's a Wonderful Life — in the Shrek universe.
  • 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 excepting his current life in the original timeline.
  • 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.
    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 now he's king, so he had to get clever).
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Brogan.
  • 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 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 go away by killing them.
    • 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".
  • Magic Countdown: Rumpelstiltskin's sand timer, that measures the 'day' Shrek has before he'll vanish away forever if he doesn't get love's true 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.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Rumpelstiltskin.
  • Manly Tears: Shrek sheds a manly tear when he saw his triplets' doll when he was in the alternate reality and he realizes they're not there at all. That is the first time we have ever see Shrek cry.
  • Moment of Weakness: What sets the plot in motion.
  • The Music Meister: The Pied Piper is a bounty hunter who uses his flute to capture his quarry by forcing them to dance.
  • 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 (the art book, maybe?) 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.
    • 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 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!"
  • Parental Bonus: Try watching the movie again and you'll notice a lot of jokes you missed as a kid.
  • 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]
  • Posthumous Character: King Harold.
  • 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.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Shrek goes crazy from all the events going on at the triplets' birthday party.
  • Reality Ensues: Invoked often, to the point where the entire movie is one for the series. Even in a literal fairy tale world, midlife crises happen. Idyllic 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Same-Sex Triplets: Subverted in that while two of Shrek and Fiona's triplets are male (Farkle and Fergus) they also have a girl (Felicia).
  • 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. 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 Pied Piper appears but for a second in a throwaway gag in the first film. Again... he looks nothing like how he does in the fourth film.
    • In Shrek 2, we can see it takes days to go from Duloc to Far Far Away. However, in Forever After, Shrek travels the same distance three times within less than a day.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Suicide Is Painless: Rumpelstiltskin jumps backwards off the balcony when cornered by the ogre warriors while saying "Foo!", but then subverts it and lands on Fifi saying "So long!"
  • 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 tells Shrek about his knowledge he knows about 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".
  • That Poor Cat: Donkey startled Puss.
  • Tinkle in the Eye: Subverted as it turns out baby Fergus in fact just took the fish out of its bowl and had it spit water in his Shrek's face. Shrek replies to his baby son on this, sarcastically saying it was real cute.
  • Toothy Bird: Rumpel's giant goose, Fifi.
  • Tsundere: Fiona.
  • Twofer Token Minority: The Black/Ambiguously Gay Ogre Cookie.
  • 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 Rumpelstilskin in a You Have Failed Me moment.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Fiona gives Shrek one during the kids' birthday party for not appreciating what he has.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: What Rumpelstiltskin uses to meet Shrek.
  • 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.


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