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Western Animation / The Octonauts

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Explore! Rescue! Protect!

Octonauts is a British-American children's television series, produced by Silvergate Media for Cbeebies and animated by Brown Bag Films and Rainmaker Entertainment. The TV series is based on the children's books written by Vicki Wong and Michael C. Murphy of Meomi Design Inc. In the United States, it aired on Disney Junior until 2016. It is now exclusive to Netflix there.

Octonauts follows an underwater exploring crew made up of stylized anthropomorphic animals, a team of eight adventurers who live in an undersea base, the Octopod, from where they go on undersea adventures with the help of a fleet of aquatic vehicles. The subject matter is reminiscent of a blend of Star Trek, Thunderbirds and Jacques Cousteau. Although it is science fiction as regards to its technology, the exotic creatures and locations that the crew encounter are real marine animals in their natural habitats.

The show went on hiatus in 2017 after 4 seasons, but was later confirmed in 2018 to be renewed for additional seasons. On August 14, 2020, Netflix released a feature-length movie for the series, Octonauts & the Caves of Sac Actun. A second, Octonauts & the Great Barrier Reef, was released on October 13, 2020, and a third, Octonauts & the Ring of Fire, was released on January 8th, 2021 in China and worldwide on March 30th, 2021. On September 7th, 2021, Netflix launched a spin-off series called Octonauts: Above & Beyond.

This cartoon has examples of:

  • Accordion to Most Sailors: The Octopod is seen as a ship, and Captain Barnacles is occasionally seen playing the accordion (and sounding awful).
  • Adaptational Modesty: Captain Barnacles didn't wear a shirt or pants in the original books.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The Christmas special is this for the vegimals.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Tunip refers to Shellington as "Shellydo".
  • Alliterative Name: Barnacles Bear, Kwazii Cat, Peso Penguin, Shellington Sea Otter, and Dashi Dachshund. Averted for the other Octonauts, though.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Literally. One particular moment has Kwazii fleeing from an eel (in effort to distract it long enough for Peso to retrieve something from the eel's home), and attempting to scare the eel off with sea snakes. However, the "snakes" were a mimic octopus in disguise.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Tweak, a green bunny. Averted for everyone else.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: Non-export example: during the more recent seasons, some official artwork of Barnacles was tweaked to make him look more friendly to go along with his Character Development.
  • Animal Gender-Bender: Episode 3-10 has the baby platypus' parents make a big showing of their stingers. Only male platypi have these.
  • Animals Not to Scale: Played straight with the crew to some degree or another, especially with Barnacles the polar bear. Averted with the other animals that appear in the show, however.
  • Artistic License – Marine Biology:
    • While pretty minor, venomous animals are called poisonous throughout the show.note  Furthermore, the venomous nature of these animals is often downplayed a bit. For example, Kwazii has been stung by a Lion Fish in one of the episodes and treats it as if it were a minor sting. They're not. The same thing happens when the crew encounters a cone snail and a duck-billed platypusnote .
    • The Colossal Squid's size is shown to be far larger than it is. While the Colossal Squid is larger than the Giant Squid, the Colossal Squid is only larger in mantle size. The Colossal Squid has much shorter tentacles, with just a wider and stouter body[1].
    • All of the animals are anthropomorphized to some degree—it's a kid's cartoon, after all. It's most notable with non-chordate creatures; octopi, jellyfish, and starfish are depicted with two eyes and a mouth below it, on whatever part of their body faces outward. The giant squid even eats fish biscuits through this second mouth.
  • Avengers Assemble: The Octoalert, calling all of the Octonauts to attention, and presumably opening up comm lines for whoever activated it (generally Barnacles) to tell the others where to assemble.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In "The Electric Torpedo Rays", Sandy the Leatherback Sea Turtle comes just in time to aid Barnacles in catching up to the falling Octopod.
  • Bland-Name Product: In one episode: National Seaographic.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the episode when Kwazii is trying to find the map that belonged to Calico Jack, he can't get it because it is guarded by slime eels. He DOES eventually get it, but there are already a bunch of animals in there, so he has to leave it. And to really rub salt in the wounds, Dash took some embarrassing photos of him getting slimed. Everyone laughs, EXCEPT for Kwazii, who just looks... "angry."
  • Butt-Monkey: Downplayed, but several episodesnote  kick Shellington around for a joke.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Tweak, Once an Episode, will say something along the lines of "I'll do it faster than you can say Buncha Munchy Crunchy Carrots".
    • Shellington's is "Jumping Jellyfish!"
    • Barnacles has "Octonauts, let's do this!"
    • Peso's is "Flappity flippers!"
    • Kwazii's is "Shiver me whiskers!"
  • Camera Abuse: At the end of "Octonauts and the Barricudas", a barricuda knocks the camera off to the side, cancelling the video feed.
  • Canine Confusion: Dashi lives on a mostly vegan diet just like the other Octonauts despite being a dog. Justified, as this is a World of Funny Animals and the non-anthropomorphic animals are still shown to be sapient.
  • Cartoon Penguin: Peso, Pinto, and their mother are black penguins with white bellies, white faces, and yellow beaks and feet. That being said, the series does feature three real-life penguin species that while just as cartoony as Peso are more accurately colored, with Adelie Penguins introduced in Season 2, Emperor Penguins in Season 4, and Chinstrap Penguins in the Ring of Fire special.
  • Cartoon Whale: Sperm whales and to a lesser extent, orcas (which are technically dolphins, but still) get depicted this way due to the stylized animation. To the show's credit, it depicts its sperm whales with teeth only in their lower jaws, unlike other cartoons that show them with upper and lower dentition. Averted (as much as can be possible for a kid's cartoon) with baleen whales.
  • Character Development: Captain Barnacles loosened up and became more energetic and loud in later episodes, particularly Season Four.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: The Octonauts and The [Specific Sea Creature].
  • Carnivore Confusion: One way to avert the Predators Are Mean subtrope is to emphasize how "tiny" their prey are (e.g., krill). When a cute animal is acknowledged as prey, it is usually saved by the heroes, to the chagrin or annoyance of the predator. Predators are often placated by "fish biscuits"; the ingredients of said biscuits are never specified.
  • Cats Hate Water: Averted with Kwazii, given the nature of the show.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: Happens in the Christmas special. Shellington explains how he found the Vegimals, later, in the episode, they are given A Day in the Limelight
  • Chekhov's Gun: Dashi found a pretty seashell early in "The Hermit Crabs", and when Peso and Tweak needed to find a bigger shell for the hermit crab they helped, Dashi uses the shell she found. Also, if Tweak is shown fixing up something new early on (particularly a new GUP), expect it to be used by the end of the episode.
  • Continuity Nod: The "standing on my foot" gag from "The Narwhal" came back two seasons later in "The Duck-Billed Platypus".
  • Convection, Schmonvection: The blobfish live right at the top of a volcano's opening, and aren't in any danger until it's actively erupting.
  • Cool Boat: All of the vehicles shown - from the Octopod, an octopus-shaped underwater habitat that's capable of traversing most of the world's oceans, to the various GUP crafts, all of which are submarines with extra capabilities (from deep-sea exploration to towing).
  • Dub Pronunciation Change:
    • The French dub fudges the titular team's pronunciation from "ok-to-nots" to "ohk-to-nohts".
    • In the American dub, Peso is given a Hispanic accent and pronounces his own name like "peh-so", but everyone elsenote  pronounces it "pay-so". It's never commented on in-universe, so it seems that both pronunciations are valid.
    • In "The Scared Sperm Whale", Simon's name (which is pronounced "sai-min" in the original English dub) is pronounced "see-mohn" in the French and European Spanish dubs.
  • Edutainment Show: The goal of the show is to teach young children about sea life and responsible maintenance of the ocean while entertaining them.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Most of the episodes.
  • Every Episode Ending: The "Creature Report" at the end of every story, which is a combination of lecture, singing, and marching, with a "dance break" in the middle. This is usually absent from double-length specials though, as these generally focus on several types of creatures, rather than just one.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: It's used as a Running Gag, wherein some episodes Barnacles explains a plan to Kwazii, Peso, and Shellington, but then he sees Kwazii swimming out of the GUP.
  • Eye Patch Of Power: Kwazii, who's easily the roughest, toughest member of the Octonauts. Subverted in that it's mostly for decoration as he can see with both eyes.
  • Faint in Shock:
    • It's a Running Gag for Tunip to faint almost every time he hears bad news.
    • In "The Emperor Penguins", Tweak passes out after Barnacles informs her that the GUP-S has fallen to the bottom of an ice chasm. She is pretty quick to wake up, though.
      Barnacles: Tweak! I didn't think you'd take it that hard.
  • Fear Is Normal: A variation in the movie The Caves of Sac Actun. Barnacles reveals to Peso that he has a fear of tight spaces. Peso is confused because he thought that someone as courageous as Barnacles wasn't afraid of anything. Barnacles then tells him that even the bravest of people can get scared once in a while. This inspires Peso to help his captain get through his claustrophobia because he's always helped him stay strong.
  • Female Feline, Male Mutt: Inverted with Kwazii, a male cat and Dashi, a female dog.
  • Foreshadowing: In "The Humuhumunukunukuapua'a", a visual on the screen shows a humuhumu hiding in a hole. When it does this, its back fin goes up, locking it into place. Later in the episode, the humuhumus can't get out of the Octopod because their fins have trapped them in.
  • Funny Photo Phrase: Whenever Dashi takes a picture of someone, she tells them to "Say, 'seaweed'!" They always do so.
  • Furry Confusion: On rare occasions animals will appear that aren't anthropomorphized in any way.
    • Shellfish and starfish are portrayed in an odd manner; they have visible eyes, but don't speak or move. Rarely the latter will be fully anthropomorphized.
    • The Red Urchins in "Urchin Invasion" are faceless, voiceless and non-sapient in contrast to the urchin previously seen in "Carrier Crab".
    • By far the strangest example would be "The Hidden Lake", in which anthro and non-anthro plankton appear together.
  • Furry Reminder:
    • Tweak constantly has a carrot in her hand.
    • The first minute of "The Decorator Crab" is basically one big reminder that Kwazii is a cat.
  • Giant Squid: Helping one out was the focus of "Octonauts and the Giant Squid". Scenes from this episode are included in show openings.
  • Green Gators:
    • Salty the saltwater crocodile from "The Saltwater Crocodile" is green.
    • Nipper the little alligator from "The Baby Alligator" is dark green, but he has some lighter-green markings as well.
  • Growling Gut: Shellington's stomach rumbles in "The Bowhead Whales" due to having indigestion.
  • Hammerspace: The globe-shaped, seamless helmets disappear entirely into the wearer's collars when not in use, and there doesn't seem to be room for an entire alphabet of Gups inside the Octopod but they always have the right one on hand.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Averted. Every success is somehow related to the high amount of training each team member has in their field.
  • Height Angst: In the water bears episode, Peso wishes he was bigger and faster, despite all that he did in Season 2.
  • Hey, That's My Line!: Kwazii says this in "The Tiger Shark" when Tweak shouts "Yow!" after activating the turbo mode on one of the gups.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: See Character Name and the Noun Phrase.
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: Kwazii whispers that "It's quiet, too quiet" in "Enemy Anemones" and that he doesn't like it. Captain Barnacles then asks him that if it's too quiet, Why Are We Whispering??
  • I've Never Seen Anything Like This Before: This is Captain Barnacles's reaction to the jellyfish bloom in "Jellyfish Bloom."
  • I Want My Mommy!: In the "Baby Gator" episode, the baby alligator Nipper cries "I want my mama!" after Kwazii tries to get him above water because salt water isn't good for him, only for seagulls try to snap him up as a snack.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: How can Peso talk while holding his breath underwater? The same way all the other animals talk.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Tweak to Peso, before Peso mans up.
  • Meaningful Name: Captain Barnacles (a polar bear) has a niece named Ursa.
  • Mistaken for Brooding: In the licensed book "The Frown Fish", the Octonauts find a fish who appears to be a Perpetual Frowner, so they try to make him smile by taking him out on fun experiences such as a costume party and a concert. He still looks like he's frowning, but at the end of the book, the others find out that he's been smiling all along, he was just upside down.
  • Multinational Team: Dashi is Australian, Shellington is Scottish, and Tweak is American.
    • Peso can be added to the list in the USA version since he talks with a Spanish accent, making it seem that he's Hispanic.
  • Never Say "Die": Death is not mentioned but sometimes alluded to; e.g., "If that shark stops swimming, he won't be able to breathe!" or "You'll be sucked into that whirlpool!" or "Those are terrestrial crabs - they can't swim!" Arguably one of the best well-known quotes from this show is this quote from Boris the Narwhal:
    Boris: If we don't get air soon, we'll be right back where we started!
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Kwazii likes to speculate about a lot of the stuff the Octonauts encounter being caused by strange and scary monsters. Instead, when the Octonauts encounter strange phenomena or troublesome behavior, it's just sea creatures doing what they do normally, often as a natural defense mechanism. Examples include a snapping shrimp that knocks them all out with the loud sound he makes by snapping his claw, and slime eels protecting their territory by sliming.
  • Not So Above It All: Occasionally, Captain Barnacles drops the serious attitude and indulges in the other antics, for example, attempting to repeat Tweak's catchphrase to varying levels of success.
  • Oh, Crap!: Tweak's ears twist up when something bad happens. (Or when she's scared, mostly the former.)
  • Once per Episode: "Sound the Octoalert! Octonauts, to the (location)!" Sometimes played with, like when Shellington, flustered by the fact that he was the one who needed to activate the Octoalert, said a random location that didn't exist. Or when it was late at night and they had to use the "Silent Alarm". Another time was that Barnacles sounded the alarm... when everyone was already together!
  • Orphaned Etymology: All the sea creatures refer to themselves with names given to them by land-dwellers. The lemon shark likely hasn't seen any lemons, and the sea cucumber and sea horses likely haven't met their land-based namesakes.
  • Percussive Maintenance: In "The Great Swamp Search," Ranger Marsh tries this on a malfunctioning radio. It doesn't work, but Captain Barnacles is able to get it to work with a more delicate touch.
  • Playful Otter: Shellington. He's really playful with the Vegimals.
  • Polka-Dot Disease: In "The Mimic Octopus", all of the Vegimals are sick with Vegimal Pox. Symptoms include pink facial spots and uncontrollable sneezing.
  • Power Trio: While all of the Octonauts have their moments, Barnacles, Kwazii, and Peso are the most frequently involved in the main action of the episode's plot, and if a team is needed in the field, it's often those three.
  • Rearrange the Song: The theme music was re-arranged for "The Great Swamp Search" with the same basic tune but with eastern-sounding instruments.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The main cast in its entirety.
  • Running Gag: The Octonauts and the Ring of Fire has Captain Barnacles' training videos, which the Octonauts often end up activating at inappropriate moments and which don't always seem to have quite what they need. At the end of it, they tell him that he really needs to update them.
  • Semiaquatic Species Sailor: Three members of the crew fit this trope: Peso who is a penguin, Barnacles who is a polar bear, and Shellington who is a sea otter. The rest of the crew includes one fully-aquatic creature, Professor Inkling the octopus, and the rest are all land mammals.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: All the way on the Idealism side.
  • Sssssnaketalk: The yellow-bellied sea snakes in "Yellow-Bellied Sea Snakes" speak this way.
  • Sneaking Out at Night:
    • In "The Slime Eels", Kwazii finds a spyglass that belonged to his grandfather Calico Jack in a sunken ship, but slime eels spit slime at him, preventing him from getting it. He becomes obsessed with taking it for himself and wakes up in the middle of the night. He then set off in the GUP-B to go to the ship.
    • In "Operation Cooperation", Kwazii and Shellington sneak out in the middle of the night so that Kwazii can teach Shellington to pilot GUPs better. However, the two of them crash their GUPs and they fall apart, forcing Kwazii and Shellington to start a search to find the parts before morning.
  • Something-Nauts: The titular organization - the "octo-" portion of the name comes from its founder, Professor Inkling, who is a dumbo octopus.
  • Stock Footage: The creature report is mostly recycled animation. Several episodes use the same or similar clips for the Once per Episode Octoalert.
  • Superstitious Sailors: Kwazii is a former pirate who always believes that whatever strange phenomenon the Octonauts are facing is caused by some kind of ghost or supernatural sea monster.
  • Super-Powered Shrimp: In the episode "The Snapping Shrimp", the Octonauts encounter a Pistol Shrimp who can knock creatures as large as themselves out cold.
  • Swordfish Sabre: In the episode "The Swashbuckling Swordfish", Kwazii speaks of the legend of the "Flying Swords", which turns out to be a trio of swordfishes. Kwazii encounters them while hunting for treasure and actually engages them in swordplay for a while but ultimately ends up helping them and they all part on good terms.
  • Tagline: "Explore, rescue, protect!"
  • Took a Level in Badass: The Vegimals in "The Very Vegimal Christmas." Building a new GUP? Check. Saving the Octonauts from danger? Check. Cooking the Christmas dinner? Check. Looking cool while doing so? CHECK!
    • Peso in many Season 2 episodes.
  • Toilet Humor: In one of the episodes, the Octonauts hear something that sounds like breaking wind, then Shellington informs them that herrings communicate by blowing bubbles out of their behinds. Kwazii's reaction is PRICELESS.
    Kwazii: They blow bubbles... Out of their behinds?!
  • Underwater Base: The Octopod, which is mobile, contains a sizable garden and decent living quarters in addition to the storage and work areas everyone needs, and rarely surfaces.
  • Vampire Vords: The vampire squid Peso helps on his first solo dive into the Midnight Zone talks like this.
  • Video Call Fail: At the end of "The Great Swamp Search", Ranger Marsh attempts to video call Tweak on an Octo-Tablet. Because he's more used to doing things the old-fashioned way, he ends up turning the whole tablet upside down.
  • White-and-Grey Morality: This show features absolutely zero villains. In fact, some creatures who could be considered villains in other shows, such as sharks, can be quite friendly and are hostile only because of their need to sustain themselves, not because of actual malice.
  • Wrap-Up Song: Every episode ends with "Creature Report", which sums up all the information learned about the Creature of the Week into a catchy marching theme. Though the "Creature Report" segment and associated songs tend to be dropped in specials.
  • Wrench Wench: Tweak.



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