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Western Animation / The Adventures of Tintin (1991)

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The Adventures of Tintin (Les Aventures de Tintin) is a French-Canadian-Belgian Animated Adaptation of Hergé's famous comic books in a TV series format. It was coproduced by Ellipse Animation and Nelvana.

It debuted in 1991. 39 episodes were produced over the course of its three seasons, dividing some album adaptations in two parts. It first aired on France 3 in France, La Deux in Belgium, HBO and Nickelodeon in the USA, Global Television Network and Family Channel in Canada and Channel 4 in UK.

Not to be confused with The Adventures of Tintin, the 2011 motion capture film directed by Steven Spielberg.

For the recap, see here.

The Adventures of Tintin provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: Tintin in America ends with Tintin finishing his report, before getting a phone call about an unknown situation and leaving to solve it. In the book, he simply leaves America and returns home.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Allan Thompson shows up in the Cigars of the Pharaoh episode whereas he appeared a few albums later in the comic books for the first time, namely in The Crab with the Golden Claws. This is due to the episodes not being produced in the same order as the comic books.
  • Adaptational Explanation: In the Cigars of the Pharaoh comic book, Tintin coincidentally crash-landed outside the Indian town where the gang's headquarters are located, without even knowing it was in India. In the adaptation, he already knows their hideout is in India because he read a letter in the colonel's office.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Haddock's alcoholism is greatly downplayed compared to the comic books due to the constraints of a cartoon for children, and he stops drinking after his debut episode.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • The series turned Mitsuhirato's manservant into a Son of the Dragon who infiltrated the drug trafficking gang and saves Tintin from being injected with the Rajaijah (poison of madness). In the comic book, the agent who does so is unrelated to Mitsuhirato (he simply snuck in and out)
    • Due to Adaptation Distillation, the captain of the ship who saves Tintin at sea isn't revealed to be an arms dealer.
  • Adaptational Mundanity: In the original comic of The Broken Ear, just when Alonzo is about to shoot a tied up Tintin, the house they're in is struck by lightning, and it sends Tintin flying out of the house! In the animated series, the situation is resolved by Snowy coming in and biting the ropes to free Tintin, and then both escape the house by the window.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the comic, the Fakir steals Tintin's letter from the doctor to the asylum staff and replaces it with orders to lock Tintin up. In the animated version, he doesn't need to because the doctor himself is a member of the gang.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Emir Ben Kalish Ezab suffered from this. The comic book version of the Emir did sometimes get emotional about things regarding his son, but was otherwise a guy who you definitely wouldn't want to mess with. The animated version on the other hand is such a simpering crybaby that it is frankly amazing that Bab El Ehr hadn't managed to overthrow him already.
  • Adaptation Deviation: The series is notable for largely averting this, more closely following the comic books' plots than the 1960s Belvision adaptations, although there are still some occasional changes.
    • For instance, in Tintin in America, Bobby Smiles becomes Al Capone's main henchman — in the comic book, he is Capone's enemy in the Mob War.
    • In the same episode, Al Capone's HQ is not a castle in a city outskirt countryside but a building in downtown Chicago. And it still has medieval-looking rooms and corridors, and medieval armors as decorations.
    • The Blue Lotus: Chang lost his parents in the flood in the comic book. He is an orphan whose orphanage was destroyed by the flood in the episode.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Three albums were not adapted in the series for various reasons. A number of subplots, minor characters and situations also don't appear in the episodes that were adapted from the other albums, likely a case of Pragmatic Adaptation to fit the half-hour / twenty minutes formats. For more details, see here.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: In The Red Sea Shark, Tintin recognizes Dawson from the time he met him in The Blue Lotus. The problem is that, Tintin did not meet Dawson in the cartoon adaptation of The Blue Lotus unlike in the comic, meaning that Tintin shouldn't recognize him.
  • Adaptation Name Change: In King Ottokar's Sceptre, the Syldavian king's name was changed from King Muskar XII to King Ottokar XII.
  • Anachronic Order: This series didn't follow Herge's timeline. They started out with "The Crab With the Golden Claws", "The Secret of the Unicorn", and "Red Rhackham's Treasure" introducing Tintin's main supporting players like the Thompsons, Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus. However this meant that Tintin would randomly have adventures (the ones set before "Crab With the Golden Claws") without Haddock and Calculus that seems oddly jarring. Notably the last episode aired, "Tintin in America", was one of these.
    • "Tintin and the Picaros" was adapted before the "Seven Crystal Balls" so Alcazar shows up having been kicked out of power.
    • Flight 714" which marked Rastapopoulos becoming a joke villain, appeared a season before "The Red Sea Sharks".
  • And I Must Scream: In The Seven Crystal Balls, the seven archeologists who found the mummy of Rascar Capac go comatose just like in the comic book. But when they wake up, they are not just merely writhing about like they do in the comic book. In the series, their skin has turned blueish-grey and they scream in terror and pain.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Al Capone has a more prominent role in Tintin in America compared to the comic book where Tintin fights various gangs which are in a Mob War (everybody who's hostile to Tintin works for Al Capone in the episode), ascending to Big Bad.
    • Mitsuhirato's manservant being adapted into a Double Agent in The Blue Lotus.
    • Bunji Kuraki in The Crab with the Golden Claws. Whereas in the comic he only shows up for a couple of panels on one page and again on the penultimate page, the episode starts with a scene of his meeting with Herbert Dawes, and Tintin later encounters him while he's imprisoned onboard the Karaboudjan.
  • Composite Character: The Broken Ear combines the characters of Rodrigo Tortilla and Lopez. Rodrigo Lopez not only steals the Heart of the Jungle and hides it in the idol, but he is also the one to steal it from the museum.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The size of the Adaptation Distillation page speaks for itself. Some episodes last 40 minutes while others last 20 minutes. Those belonging to the latter case are the most compressed.
  • Creator Cameo: A posthumous version occurs with Hergé himself, who passed away eight years prior to the series. An animated version of him appears as a background character in multiple episodes, just like he did in the comic books. Fittingly, he's often showing drawing on a sketchpad.
  • Culturally Sensitive Adaptation: Implemented in some areas, but it's done enough so that it doesn't hamper the plots too much.
    • In the English dub of Tintin and the Broken Ear, the fetish is referred to as an idol, due to the term "fetish" having a VERY different meaning nowadays. There is one exception though.
    • A jostled case for the English dub of The Red Sea Sharks. The backstory of the ship full of people being sold into slavery, in order to avoid Blackface, were changed to Middle Eastern and North African looking people who were refugees instead of Muslims being tricked on their pilgrimage. In some ways it lightens it a bit, but in many other ways, it makes it even darker.
    • Tintin disguises himself as a black cabin boy in the album The Broken Ear. Since it's a rather embarrassing case of Blackface, the series turned his disguise into Wig, Dress, Accent. It becomes something of an Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole because both the comic and the episode had the antagonists being Properly Paranoid about Tintin following them and so they target two people who look like Tintin in disguise (an old, short man and a short fat man wearing a wig) but due to his very obvious disguise in the episode (similar facial features, voice and height with just a wig, glasses and a moustache), it becomes baffling that Alonso and Ramón didn't think of this guy as Tintin in disguise. Perhaps they disregard the staff, as those they suspected were passengers.
  • Divided for Adaptation: The show splits the stories into two-part episodes, excluding Red Rackham's Treasure, The Shooting Star, and Tintin In America, which were adapted as a single episode.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The Tintin in Tibet comic book doesn't quite convey how spine-chilling the Yeti's growls in the dark of the night are. invokedThe animated version does.
  • Explosive Cigar: Seen in "Land of Black Gold," with bratty prankster prince Abdullah pulling this on others, even on Captain Haddock!
  • The Ghost: Averted with Lopez in The Broken Ear, who does not appear on-panel in the book but appears during a flashback in the adaptation.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: By the time the Ellipse-Nelvana adaptation was made, everybody knew Rastapopoulos was the recurring Big Bad, so this version makes little secret that he's the one sending the written orders. He even gets a Traitor Shot!
  • Leitmotif: Several characters have their own recognizable leitmotif in the soundtrack composed by Ray Parker, Jim Morgan and Tom Szczesniak, such as Professor Calculus or Thomson & Thompson. There are also specific musics that fit the action scenes, mystery scenes and exotic settings.
  • Lighter and Softer: There's much less gun violence, alcohol and smoking in the series than in the comic books.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: As said above, some subplots, situations and characters that felt random, unnecessary or offensive were Adapted Out to fit the 20-minutes format.
  • Race Lift: The black African slaves from Coke en Stock (The Red Sea Sharks) became Middle Eastern slaves in the namesake episode.
  • Second-Person Attack: The series is fond of this when someone gets punched or knocked out with a bludgeon, usually in a surprise attack.
  • Secret Message Wink: In "The Blue Lotus (Part One)", Tintin is captured by Big Bad Mitsuhirato, who injects him with the Madness Poison. When Tintin is released, he stands stunned for a few seconds, before noticing Mitsuhirato's servant, who delivered the poison, winking at him. Tintin then proceeds to feign insanity until he gets a chance to punch Mitsuhirato out. As it turns out, the servant was one of Wang Chen-Yee's moles who switched out the poison for something harmless, which was why Tintin was stunned at noticing himself not turning crazy.
  • Setting Update: Averted in the case of The Black Island; while the comic's 1966 edition had elements of the setting updated to have a contemporary appearance, the animated version remained set in a 1930s-1950s setting (for example, the train that Tintin and Snowy jump onto in the comic is hauled by a diesel engine, but it's hauled by a steam engine in the animated version; similarly, cars have a 1930s rather than 1960s appearance).
  • Shout-Out: In the English dub of The Red Sea Sharks, Bianca Castafiore mispronounces Captain Haddock's name as "Captain Harlock".
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • There is no mention of Mitsuhirato committing Seppuku in the animated version of The Blue Lotus.
    • Villains Alonso Pérez and Ramón Bada drown and go to Hell at the end of the album The Broken Ear. In the namesake episode, Tintin saves them from drowning and they get arrested.
  • Truer to the Text: