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Western Animation / The Penguins of Madagascar

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"Cute and cuddly, boys!"

A spin-off of the Madagascar films that aired on Nickelodeon. It is an All-CGI Cartoon featuring the penguins from the film series (Skipper, Rico, Kowalski, Private), as well as the lemurs (King Julien, Maurice and Mort) in the main cast and chimpanzees Mason and Phil as recurring characters. A new character, Marlene the otter, is part of the main cast, and while various zoo animals are introduced, the main cast from the films are not shown at all (save for Alex in one of the TV specials and even then he's only seen as a hallucination of Skipper). Private, Kowalski, Maurice and King Julien have all had their voice actors replaced with some names you might recognize just the same.

In it, the penguins and other aforementioned characters are all residents of the Central Park Zoo. Led by Skipper, the penguins deal with various missions within the zoo. At times, they are at odds with Incidental Villain King Julien, but at other times, he and the other two lemurs are needed to help in the missions.

The show is very much in an Alternate Continuity, but as its own vehicle, it manages to stand up rather well. The series premiere drew 6.1 million viewers, setting a new record for viewership on the network.

The spin-off debuted in 2008. After several years of success on Nickelodeon, the show was shafted to sister network Nicktoons in 2012, causing ratings to slide. It was announced canceled on December 23rd, 2013 after an over year long hiatus. Five episodes that were left unaired were burned off to the network two years later in 2015, with no advertising whatsoever.

A feature film given the similar title of Penguins of Madagascar draws heavy inspiration from the cartoon, but is otherwise set in the continuity of the other films, and was released in November 2014.

Tropes about specific characters can be found on this character sheet.


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    Tropes A-C 
  • Aborted Arc: At the end of one episode it's revealed that Rhonda the walrus works for Dr. Blowhole and has stolen one of Kowalski's inventions, a tool that can morph instantly into other tools as needed. She shows up again as a background character, but her role and the invention are never brought up again.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Julien repeatedly gets Rico's name wrong in Misfortune Cookie and has to be corrected every time.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: The penguins have trouble removing a hornet nest. They discover that Mort isn't hurt by the hornets because he is protected by a "halo of ignorance". Kowalski uses a machine to drain their minds of bad thoughts so that they could then deal with the hornets. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Adaptation Expansion: Sort of. The four main characters from Madagascar proper never show up, but the Penguins and the zoo have their lore expanded upon.
    • Skipper gets an archenemy in a dolphin named Dr. Blowhole, and it's revealed that he can't go back to Denmark due to an incident involving a puffin named Hans.
    • Kowalski, on the other hand, is revealed to be in love with a dolphin named Doris (who's later revealed to be Dr. Blowhole's sister). We also get to see his Mad Scientist side.
    • Rico, who had very little characterization in the movies, is established as an Ax-Crazy Penguin of Mass Destruction with a Soft Center.
    • Private has a past as a miniature golfer who goes by "Mr. Tux."
    • Mason and Phil, while not as prominent as the penguins or the lemurs, do have more personality: Mason is a Neat Freak and Phil is a laid-back slob.
    • The following zoo animals get their introduction here: Marlene the otter (who's originally from an aquarium in Northern California), Burt the elephant, Roy the rhino, Bada and Bing the gorillas, Joey the kangaroo, Leonard the koala, Pinky the flamingo, Roger the alligator, Barry the poison dart frog, and Darla the baboon. note 
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: Skipper and King Julien didn't have much of a relationship in the movies but they seemed to be in mostly cordial therms, given the Penguins had no oposition for him to join them in the airplane and even gave him a first class service. In this show they are Sitcom Arch-Nemesis, with King Julien being the most recurring problem the penguins suffer.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: Private believes that an alien is a peaceful being only to be disproven wrong many times that it is an invader and is calling its people to invade Earth.
  • Allergic to Love: Rico and his "mushy love sensitivity" is the perfect example.
  • All Just a Dream: The ending of "Wishful Thinking" makes it seem like the events of the episode were just that, until Bert the Elephant is seen holding a loaf of French bread and wearing a beret.
  • All That Glitters: Subverted. The Lost Treasure of the Golden Squirrel is in fact a room full of gold.
    Julien: This is real treasure, right? Not one of those "friendship is the greatest treasure of all" deals? Because you can't trade friendship for, you know, the goods and the services.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Eggy the duck was cared for by the penguins as an egg, which involved training. As a result after hatching, the duckling possessed all of the penguins' skills and personality traits. At the end, King Julien teaches Eggy how to dance, which also results in him mimicking Julien's Buffy Speak.
  • Alternate Continuity: This is how producer Tom McGrath (who is also Skipper's VA) sees this series in association with the films. It's been established that the lemurs are still from Madagascar, and that the penguins have been there, but it's never explained how or why they returned. Basically it's what would happen if the main cast chose to remain in Africa while the Penguins and chimps chose to return to New York.
    Alex: We used to be neighbors, and then a lot of crazy stuff happened?
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Hornets and rats.
  • Ambiguously Gay: King Julien is this incarnate, complete with imaginary girlfriends. He also declared that he was given a diamond necklace by the Sky Spirits for "kicking up the fabulous, baby!" Complete with air-humping.
    Julien: To impress this girly monkey, you must sweep her off her feet. That is how I got my many girlfriends.
    Maurice: What girlfriends?
    Julien: You don't know them, they're all in Canada, but trust me when I tell you that they are made up... I mean with lipstick and powders and such, but you know, tastefully.
    • Hans the Puffin really adores his rivalry with Skipper. He tried giving him a card of them embracing with hearts drawn on it. (Skipper was drawn much more scribbly than Hans though.) In a later episode where Skipper thinks his enemies are his friends, he treasures their connection even more and gets jealous when other characters step in.
  • Ambiguous Situation: How much of the events of the movies happened in this Alternate Continuity is never clarified. Is confirmed that The Lemurs are from Madagascar, the Penguins were there once and that Alex was living in the Central Park Zoo at some point before "a lot of crazy stuff happened". Besides that, it mostly ignores the movies.
    • "The Terror of Madagascar" makes things more confusing by revealing that King Julien suffering the attacks of the Fossas did happen.....while the Penguins have no idea what they are until Kowalski explains it.
    • Given, we never see his kingdom (in this show at least) and that he's a major Cloud Cuckoolander, is left ambiguous whatever this version of King Julien is truly the King of the Lemurs or is just something he likes to proclaim about himself.
  • Amusing Injuries: Frequent.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: "The All Nighter Before X-Mas". Pummeled Fake Santas! Stolen trees, including big car chase! Generic mayhem! Spirit of Christmas, only slightly lampshaded!
  • Animals Not to Scale:
    • Everyone but Mort is unusually small for their species — no one seems to be over 2 feet tall.
    • The gorillas, on the other hand, are about the same size as the rhinoceros - so it's either extremely big gorillas or an extremely small rhinoceros.
    • Especially blatant when the (scaled-up) gorillas and the (scaled-down) chimpanzees share a screen. While in Real Life, chimpanzees are only slightly smaller (although much more gracile) than gorillas, in this show a chimp could fit into a gorilla's hand.
  • Animal Sweet on Object: Zigzagged, where one of the eponymous penguins is in love with a doll named "Ms. Perky". It'd be pretty odd if he thought she/it was another penguin, but he doesn't seem to think she/it is a human as the penguins are usually prejudiced against humans. He doesn't seem to realise it's a doll either, though.
  • Animal Talk: Humans can't understand animals, so the Penguins have to rely on special software to communicate for them. Santa Claus, on the other hand, can understand them directly.
  • Anti-Hero: Type II - they're the good guys but all four of them show some morally ambiguous traits.
  • Appease the Volcano God: Referenced in "Huffin and Puffin." One of the characters ties up the penguins and attempts to trap them in a hollow plastic volcano in the lemur exhibit so that he can cause mayhem. Maurice notices and wonders aloud what is going on. Julien replies: "Someone is sacrificing penguins to the volcano ... eh, these things happen."
  • April Fools' Plot: "April Fools" focuses on King Julien pulling pranks even though it's not April 1st.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • In "Fit to Print", the penguins are concerned over a picture of the lemurs that also has the penguins doing their secret things in the background ... but Skipper's even more concerned that the picture also shows him with toilet paper stuck to his foot.
    • In "The Hoboken Surprise" when Skipper learned that the deranged zookeeper of the Hoboken Zoo would be working at the Central Park Zoo, he realized that everyone there would be replaced with bio-androids and imagined Marlene being thrown off a cliff by her double, Phil and Mason's doubles throwing them in a underground chamber, and ... Julien's double using him as a punching bag, to which he stated "Eh, I could live with that one".
    • Kowalski warns Skipper of the dangers of a kid's backpack, saying it's a minefield that could have firecrackers, shaken up soda cans, and sharpened number 2 pencils.
      Skipper: I know! Free arsenal, right?
  • Artifact of Attraction: The key and the treasure itself, in the episode, "The Lost Treasure of the Golden Squirrel".
  • Artifact Title: The penguins aren't in Madagascar anymore.
  • Artistic License: Biology, cloning etc. in the cloning episode. Somehow Dode the Dodo remembers everything that happens before his death despite cloning only copying the genetic code of a person/animal instead of bringing them back to life. Rule of Funny applies here.
  • Ash Face: Julien HAD to tamper with Kowalskis chemicals ... Kaboom ensues.
    • Occurs also in "Smotherly Love" (and probably a dozen other occasions when either Kowalski's inventions go haywire or Rico deals a few rocket-propelled grenades).
  • Ass Shove: Not exactly shown onscreen, but Julien's expression when Kowalski shoves a flipper under the table he's sitting at and yanks out a thermometer makes it pretty clear.
    • "Action Reaction" features Julien repeatedly falling afoul of Roy's butt. First, he gets catapulted at the Rhino by Mort, then he gets sat on after tunneling into the Rhino enclosure. The first time, he might've just smacked into Roy since it happens offscreen; but the second time, it happens on screen, the light from his mining helmet comes shining out of Roy's eyes, and Skipper landing on Roy's back causes the Rhino to "launch" Julien back into his tunnel at high velcoity.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: "Mental Hen" features a "psychic" chicken whose powers are actually a result of being so intelligent and analytical that she simply arrives to the likely outcome by deduction.
  • Baby Carriage: In "Cradle and All". Of course they manage to save it, but of course the baby escapes again, of course to a wrecking site, giving rise to a nod to Buster Keaton's famous window-over-man scene and some (lampshaded) Scooby-Dooby Doors.
  • Badass Adorable:
    • Mort, who is usually rather cute and pathetic, but he has been known to beat Skipper at arm-wrestling, uproot whole trees and smash things with them, and beat up gorillas (though the last one was a result of one of Kowalski's experiments accidentally making him extremely large and muscular). Private may also qualify. Despite being very "cute and cuddly" he's been shown to be an excellent fighter, able to fend off Skipper's attacks while training blindfolded in one episode. And all without breaking a sweat. Then there's Eggy the duckling, who possesses the fighting skills of all the penguins before he gave it up for dancing.
    • The titular characters also count, being small penguins capable of their cute moments that just so happen to be able to beat some stronger and bigger animals and get their job done every time. Private is the most obvious example.
  • Badass Boast: Occurs in "The Falcon and the Snow Job":
    Skipper: I eat fright for breakfast.
    Kowalski: With skeleton marshmallows!
  • Badass Crew: The penguins.
  • Badass Fingersnap: This turns out to be how The Red Squirrel activates his mind control of Buck Rotgut. Kowalski realizes that they can do the same to break his control ... but then realizes that the penguins lack the necessary digits.
  • Bad Impressionists: Julien tries to imitate Mason, which results in "Ook ook! I sure do love the tire swing!"). When asked to do one of Private, Julien says, "Ook ook! I sure do love a stinky fish!" Private himself copies Julien's imitation of Mason spot on while luring out Savio.
  • Ball Cannon: In "Badger Pride", the other penguins uses a tennis ball launcher as an artillery piece to blast Private and Marlene out of the zoo and into the park. Later, Private uses it to bombard the badgers, and accidentally hits Marlene again.
  • Balloon Belly:
    • Kowalski gets one in "The Big Move" When he accidentally zaps himself small with a body altering ray gun and leaves it to Burt to zap him back to his original size and shape. He becomes big, small, fat, thin and polka doted.
    • King Julien in "Time Out" where he eats a hot dog whole and becomes quite round.
    • In "Thumb Drive" Skipper gets one after eating a pile of fish, and asks Rico to move him around.
  • Bamboo Technology: Considering what he has to work with, Kowalski has come up with some amazing inventions. Also played literally in "Sting Operation" and "Untouchable", where Skipper reveals that one of Kowalski's ultimate inventions is a six-foot bamboo whacking pole. It doubles as one of Kowalski's less disastrous inventions too.
  • Be Yourself: Spoofed, King Julien tries being nicer after the Chimps pull a prank on him and the Penguins have to convince him to be a jerk again as his being nice made him MORE ANNOYING.
  • Being Watched: The entire episode "Tangled in the Web."
  • Berserk Button:
    • Never, EVER touch King Julien's feet. And if you ever decide to skate over them... well, say hello to Julienderung. "Friend-in-a-Box" suggests that a Freudian Excuse may be involved. After Mort becomes obsessed with a portable video game, Julien goes out of his way to try and force Mort upon his feet, claiming that he wants to experience the joy of kicking Mort off. Eventually, he even goes so far as to beg Maurice and the penguins to pay attention to the royal feet.
    • NEVER forget or ignore King Julien Day, for that matter... "Which forgetter is next for the whooping?! Come on, I want you to hurt LIKE I DO! UAHAHAHAHAA!"
    • Rico's berserk buttons are messing with his dolly or hurting his friends, especially Skipper.
    • Skipper has a few:
      • Okay, so he doesn't go berserk, per se, but he really doesn't like it when you call him fat, or any of its synonyms. He likes to claim it's muscle.
      • He really doesn't like Hoboken, NJ.
      • Or Denmark.
    • The two badgers Becky and Stacy hate it when someone says "badgering", or calling their games silly, or making fun of their species.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Private sometimes shows elements of this, such as his reaction to The Reveal in "Mask of the Raccoon" or "Untouchable".
    • Burt the elephant also qualifies, such as in "The Big Squeeze".
  • Big Eater: Rico doesn't just choke things up, it's been shown that he also eats almost anything too. He's also the fattest of the penguins, with something resembling a double chin.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The penguin's HQ. Outside it just looks like a small penguin exhibit; but underneath is a main room where the penguins live that somehow has space for an elevator and elaborate security systems like lasers and giant spring panels. There's also a side room that is either the bathroom, food storage, Kolwalski's lab, or an extra security room (that leads to even more rooms) depending on the gag.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: Maurice, Julien and Mort; in that order.
  • Big Red Button: Played with in "Tagged." The lemurs have to hit the right-colored one to prevent the heat/air conditioning system (which Kowalski doctored) from blowing up, but all seven are virtually indiscernible shades of red (brick, crimson, scarlet etc.). Mort finally hits the right one, but they've installed the pressure mechanism on the air conditioning system instead of the heater by mistake.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Skipper in "Skorca!" when he sees Private get carried off by the "dying" skorca.
    • Julien also lets one off in "Out of the Groove" when he finds out he can't dance anymore.
    • In "Snakehead" when Skipper gets eaten by the large fish, the other penguins let this off.
    • Skipper does yet another Big No when he discovers Rico's gone hippie on them.
    • Deconstructed by the Red Squirrel in "Our Man in Grrfurjiclestan" when he gets captured during it.
      Red Squirrel: Nooooooo - (gets caught by a lasso) I really should have run away instead of yelling.
    • See more examples at Slow "NO!".
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Mort shouts one in "Happy King Julien Day" in order to get everyone's attention.
  • Bird-Poop Gag: In "In the Line of Doody", Frankie plans to "drop one" on the city commissioner. He ends up covered in his own poop.
  • Bizarre and Improbable Golf Game: The climax of "Mr. Tux".
  • Bland-Name Product: Parodied in "Kaboom or Kabust", where a billboard advertising a drink literally called "Beverage" and sporting the tagline "Now with real liquid!" is perched right outside the lemur habitat.
  • Bloodless Carnage: "Endangerous Species" is basically 11 minutes of Dodo massacres but despite all the gruesome deaths not a drop of blood is seen.
  • Body Wipe:
    • "An Elephant Never Forgets" with Burt the elephant crushing Kid Kazoo with the "Two Cheeker"
    • "Misfortune Cookie" near the end with a brown duck landing on Rico
    • "Antics on Ice" with Roy the Rhinoceros landing on Skipper
  • Bowel-Breaking Bricks: Max the stray cat "hairballs" himself in "Cat's Cradle" upon seeing Officer X.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In "Arch Enemy", Skipper suggests a proper nemesis for Private (instead of Dale the snail) - a tiger, or a shark, or a tiger shark.
  • Break the Haughty:
    • King Julien, whenever he does something wrong, something stupid or both.
    • Once in a while, the penguins get a wake up call that they are not the invincible fighting force that they make themselves out to be like in the episode, "Fit to Print". After the Penguins make a big talk about the importance of keeping their actions hidden, the Lemurs point out to them that they unknowingly exposed themselves on camera. They try to destroy the evidence but every time they do, they just make things worse. By the episode's end, even though the evidence had indeed being destroyed, they lost their home due to their self-destruct device which they activated in their paranoia and now new evidence has been made.
  • Brick Joke: Done a lot; occasionally mixes with Continuity Nod.
    • In the first episode, Kowalski is suggested to have a crush on a dolphin named Doris. About 70 episodes later, a sleep-talking Skipper mutters, "No, no Doris, Kowalski must never know ..." It's now become somewhat of a Running Gag, as she's been mentioned twice afterwards.
    • During the official series premier episode, Skipper mentions that he can't set foot in Denmark. Again nearly 70 episodes later, we meet Hans, who was involved with Skipper in the Copenhagen Incident. "You're the reason Skipper can't go to Denmark?!"
    • Most of the stuff Skipper's paranoid about is always brought up again. During the episode with a lemur robot, Skipper brings up "space squids". "I Know Why The Cage Bird Goes Insane" shows that Space Squids do exist. And they came to Earth for Kowalski's inventions.
  • Broken Masquerade: The Penguins' secrets had been exposed to the world in "Goodnight and Good Chuck" but due to how bizzarre and outright silly their antics are, everyone thinks that its just a fake video.
  • Buffy Speak: In "Brain Drain", when Kowalski realizes that his intelligence-boosting invention has backfired and is making him dumber, he speaks like this.
    Kowalski: With my heightened... Uh... You know, intelligence... stuff... I should be more gooder at the thinking... Thing. Huh. That sounded kinda... Not-so-smartery.
  • Bullet Seed: Rico uses popcorn kernels to (literally) shoot out the lights in "Popcorn Panic."
  • Bullet Time: Done in "Untouchable" when Barry the poison dart frog tries to touch King Julien.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: In the episode "Arch-enemy", a snail shows up looking for revenge on Private, who he claims stepped on him. Private doesn't recall. Funny enough, it actually did happen on a Tuesday.
  • Butt-Monkey: When painful things happen, it usually starts with Kowalski, who has the worst luck of the four with countless Amusing Injuries, Sanity Slippages and his inventions frequently backfiring in his face.
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes:
    • Operation: Plush and Cover has this inside a hot dog cart.
    • Go Fish has this inside a truck.
    • "I Was A Penguin Zombie" has this happen when Kowalski, Private, and Rico are mourning Skipper and a bolt of lightning knocks out the electricity, before Skipper falls into their home base and Private turns on the flashlight.
  • Calvinball: One episode features the penguins playing a card game called Stomp the Wombat, which involves betting fish and placing cards on one's head.
  • Camera Spoofing: The penguins try this in "Tangled in the Web," using a crudely drawn sketch on lined paper.
  • Capture the Flag: "Penguiner Takes All" featured an high-stakes game of CTF between the penguins and the lemurs.
  • Cardboard Prison: The animals, even the dangerous ones, seem able to get out of their habitats with ridiculous ease.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • Private has problems with this while trying to warn others about the title's "Skorca!"
    • According to "Operation: Blowhole", the team's exploits outside the zoo also qualify.
    • The little boy in "Field Tripped" who keeps seeing the penguins.
    • The people who first saw Roger in the wild in "Gator Watch" get even ridiculed on a news show.
  • Casting Gag: When the celebrity voice actors were replaced in the transition from the film to the series, Sacha Baron Cohen (Julien's voice actor in the movies) was replaced by Danny Jacobs. Jacobs previously played an impersonation of Cohen's Borat character in Epic Movie.
  • Celebrity Cameo: Big Time Rush get one. In beaver form.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Starting with "Dr. Blowhole's Revenge", the show began playing up the science-fiction and spy-like aspects more, and the overall feel is a little less cartoonish.
  • Chain of Deals: The episode, "Operation: Good Deed".
  • Cheek Copy: Kowalski does this in "Fit to Print".
    • and then it gets done several more times. Julien one-ups the others by, when a copier isn't available, using a crayon.
  • Chekhov's Gag: For tons of jokes in the series. Pretty much every episode has something at the start that ends up either saving the day or showing up again as a final joke before it ends.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Rico's "mushy love sensitivity" in "All Choked Up." At the beginning of the episode, Rico swallows a time bomb, but is given anti-regurgitation medicine. After several unsuccessful attempts to make him cough up the bomb, the other penguins' tearful farewells repulse him enough to make him gag.
  • The Chessmaster: The Blue Hen tampers with the stop-clock making Skipper think he isn't fit for leaderdom anymore. And everything else in the episode she planned beforewing too in "Operation P.E.L.T.".
  • Chronically Crashed Car: Every time something is thrown off screen with an explosion, you can hear the same guy scream "My Car!!!"
  • Civilized Animal: The animals may not be able to talk to humans, don't exactly live in houses, and usually don't wear clothes, but they do fit this trope a lot of the time.
  • Class Trip: The point of the episode "Field Tripped."
  • Classified Information:
    • "Operation: Plush and Cover":
      Skipper: I'm waiting for my away team to report before declaring Defcon Red.
      Marlene: Uh-huh. Real quick: what's Defcon Red?
      Skipper: Classified. Just hope you never live to see one, sister.
    • "Otter Gone Wild", after a cage is produced from Hammerspace to capture a feral Marlene:
      King Julien: Uh, where did that cage come from?
      Kowalski: Sorry, that information is classified.
    • The Officer X/Alice exchange quoted below.
  • Claustro Phobia: Or something like that. When Kowalski is captured in Fred's tree house during the "Snowmageddon". (Probably that he is captured with Fred is the problem.)
  • Clear Their Name: "The Falcon and the Snow Job" revolves around Skipper's efforts to clear Kitka's name despite his True Companions believing that he's blinded by love.
  • Coincidental Accidental Disguise: In "I Was a Penguin Zombie," Skipper escapes from the vet after breaking his wing, and through a combination of green topical ointment (which numbs his mouth, making him unable to speak), tangled gauze, talcum powder, and a sprained ankle, ends up looking and acting like the living dead.
  • Comically Cross-Eyed: Private has outward cross-eyes, giving him a constantly goofy expression, which is in line with him being childishly naive. He's still The Heart of the team, and considered the cutest one, and is often the Only Sane Man compared to his Ax-Crazy comrades.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • After accidentally being zapped by the penguins's enhancement ray, Mort (a tiny mouse lemur) quadruples in size and strength, capable of bringing down animals larger than himself and many times taller than his bossy, but absent-minded ring-tailed lemur leader, King Julien. Julien's advisor, Maurice, takes note of this transformation immediately.
      Maurice: Do you, uh, notice anything different about Mort?
      Julien: Well yes, he's obviously doing something different with his hair! It's nice actually.
    • In another episode, Maurice takes over as king while Julien is sick, becomes mad with power after eating rotten lychee nuts, and threatens to take over the entire zoo. After hearing about this, Julien's reaction is, "I cannot believe what I am hearing. Maurice ate my lychee nuts!"
    • Julien, when mocking the rats who are playing against the penguins at hockey, sneers "You probably can't even get the ball into the hoopy-thingy!" Kowalski tells him it's called a "puck", to which Julien responds "Oh, thanks ... You probably can't even get the ball into the puck thingy!"
  • Comic Trio: The lemurs form one: King Julien (the egomaniacal leader), Mort (the ditzy Fearless Fool), and Maurice (the Only Sane Man).
  • Continuity Cavalcade: "The Hoboken Surprise" features the Penguins ending up in the Hoboken Zoo, where every minor character the penguins had gotten rid of by sending them to the Hoboken Zoo is waiting for them.
    Private: Lulu?
    Kowalski: Hans? Savio? Clemson and Rhonda too?
    Skipper: What in the name of returning guest characters? It's villain-mageddon!
    • Roger, the Alligator, is first introduced in the episode that Marlene believes he's a monster living underneath her habitat. Later, in "Gator Watch", Roger is caught and moved to the zoo. When Roger shows up again in subsequent episodes he always appears in the zoo.
    • Max the cat is first met when the penguins believe they've traveled to the moon. Later, the penguins greet him as "Moon Cat", and he's seen in cameo in a later episode.
    • Barry the poison dart frog, first seen in the episode "Untouchable", is seen in the reptile habitats in "The Big Squeeze".
    • In "Launchtime", Private holds up a tour guide map of the zoo with him on the cover. Many episodes later it's a plot point that Private has always been on the cover of the zoo's tour guide.
    • The Russian repairman from "Work Order" shows up again in "Kanga Management".
    • In the climax of "Untouchable", Private builds himself an iron penguin suit to protect him from the toxic touch of Barry. He uses the suit on several more occasions afterward, such as a super hero suit in "Danger Wears a Cape", a hazmat suit in "Siege the Day" and even as a space suit in "Operation: Big Blue Marble".
    • In a season one episode King Julien has Maurice build him a floating throne. In season 3's "Feline Fervor," when the team looks for King Julien in the city they use the throne as a vehicle to search.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The entire "It's About Time" episode may be a nod to a remark that Kowalski made in "Two Feet High and Rising" about inventing a time machine.
    • "I Was a Penguin Zombie" gives a slight one to "Needle Point," in that the doctor acknowledges Skipper's fear of needles and gives him a topical application instead. It goes horribly right.
      • It pops up again in "King Me," apparently worse than before because said needles were just sewing needles.
    • "Tangled in the Web" and "Go Fish" mention a video of an old lady beating up a lion.
    • "Hard Boiled Eggy" is a sequel episode to "Paternal Egg-Stinct", with several flashbacks.
    • In "Badger Pride", Marlene goes feral when she's outside the zoo, like in "Otter Gone Wild".
  • Convenient Eclipse: The monkeys use it to trick Julien into "being nice". You can guess where this ends.
  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: Occurs in "Operation Plush and Cover." The conveyor belt leads to a Nightmare Fuel-ing chomping machine of doom, from which the penguins, as well as Maurice and Mort, are rescued at the last second by King Julien. At the end, it turns out that Private is somehow on the conveyor belt still.
  • Cool Toy: "Hello Dollface" has the Chatty Ms. Perky, so popular that crowds snap up the inventory everywhere the penguins attempt to get one.
  • Counting Sheep: In "Two Feet High and Rising," Mort tries to do this but the sheep turn into King Julien's feet.
  • Cucumber Facial: Julien gets one while in the hospital.
  • Curse Cut Short: In "Neighbor Swap", when the penguins send the lemurs to the petting zoo, and Roger the alligator into the lemur's. They're both annoying in their new habitats.
    Randy: Yeah, last night he told me to "surrender my puffy wooliness." I just about surrendered my hoof into his-
    Kowalski: Then our goals are the same!
  • Cuteness Proximity:
    • Not even Skipper is immune from succumbing to his brooding instinct when the penguins are tasked with hatching an egg. Although he tried.
      Skipper: Monster trucks, men!
    • In "Cute-astrope", Private learns how to ramp his own cuteness factor 138%, resulting in a weaponized Cuteness Proximity that makes everyone who witnesses it faint from sheer sugar shock.

    Tropes D-I 
  • Dartboard of Hate: Officer X uses a poster for the zoo with the penguins on it as one.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The whole show, for the penguins. And the lemurs. And the chimps.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Tyke Bomb Eggy fails to defeat Julien when he uses his dancing skills to dodge attacks. Eggy decides to drop the commando routine and take up dancing lessons with Julien instead.
  • Demolitions Expert: Rico, to the point where "Kaboom!" is one of the few intelligible words you can get out of him.
  • Demonic Possession: In the episode "Operation: Lunacorn Apocalypse", Private's Lunacorn doll gets possessed by an evil spirit named Kuchikukan - the Destroyer of Worlds. Mort also gets possessed by the spirit of General Shinjin in the same episode.
  • Description Cut: In "I Was a Penguin Zombie", after believing Skipper is dead, Kowalski declares that they will honor Skipper the way he would've wanted: "by soldiering on like men." The next scene cuts to them in their home base, crying.
  • Deus Exit Machina: Happens in "Snakehead!" when Skipper gets eaten by a snakehead, leaving his crew to face the beast by themselves...
  • Dinky Drivers: Occurs any time the penguins need to operate a vehicle.
  • Disability Immunity:
    • Mort is actually too stupid to feel pain.
    • Kowalski, until it is pointed out to him, in "Brain Drain".
  • Dissimile:
    • In "Tangled in the Web".
      "They're watching us like hawks. Except for that swooping down and devouring us part."
    • In one episode, Skipper compares them to The Three Musketeers. Except there are four of them. And they're birds. And they aren't French.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • Skipper, out of sheer desperation, tries this on the other three penguins in "Needle Point." Kowalski responds, "You really don't want to get that shot, do you?"
    • Faced with a enemy that knows them so well that she can essentially predict and counter any attack they try through logical reasoning, Kowalski decides he has to use the most illogical course of attack there is, and attempts to seduce her, which works long enough for them to defeat her.
  • The Ditz: Fred the squirrel.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • "The Red Squirrel", poking fun at the post 9/11 (or generic) paranoia. Unfortunately, Rule of Funny demands a Broken Aesop - The Red Squirrel actually exists.
    • In "King Me", Clemson produces the birth certificate of Julien (if you need to know, his baby butt print) to "prove" Julien isn't born on Madagascar and thus legally unfit to rule as King. Now who would think of such a silly device?
    • "Big Blue Marble" pokes fun at Global Warming and denial thereof. Kowalski makes a fish/churro hybrid food that's addictive and delicious. The byproduct is a toxic substance that accumulates somewhere in earths orbit causing weather distortions. When it's discovered, it's suggested that they shut down the hybridization machine. Skipper doesn't want his favorite food to disappear and tries to deflect any accusations that their delicacy is to blame, calling the weather effects a hoax and questioning whether or not it was a penguin made disaster.
    • In "Miss Understanding", Skipper going through an identity crisis and trying to act like a female after Kowalski’s DNA test seemingly identified him as female is very reminiscent of a transgender person experiencing gender dysphoria and feeling pressured to act like the gender they were assigned at birth.
  • Doomsday Device: "Blowhole's Revenge," Dr. Blowhole creates a Doomsday machine that draws heat from the earth's core to melt the polar ice-caps and therefore raise the sea-level and destroy all life on earth that cannot swim.
  • Drama Queen: Ma the Opossum from "Smotherly Love" who always plays dead at the slightest hint of trouble. (Justified, since this is natural opossum habit — or so they say.)
  • Duct Tape for Everything: The penguins restrain Officer X with duct tape in "Stop Bugging Me."
    • They also use duct tape to make hockey sticks in another episode.
  • Eat the Bomb: Rico. And then he spits it up, already lit.
  • Ear Worm: When "Hard Boiled Eggy" flashes back to Julien's "Me and My JJ" song from "Paternal Egg-Stinct", Skipper invokes this trope by saying that said song will be in his head all day.
  • Eggshell Clothing: Happens with Eggy in the episode where he's introduced.
  • Elephants Are Scared of Mice: Burt the elephant is afraid of mice. Savio knows this, and uses it as a way to remove the enemy when he sends him a mouse so he'll freak panic.
  • Eleventy Zillion: when Kowalski is asked about a number that's less than nothing, he comes up with "neg-finity".
  • Embarrassing Slide: Kowalski attempts to show the security footage to the other penguins, but puts in the wrong DVD and shows a film of himself crying and reciting bad poetry devoted to Doris the dolphin. There's even an Oh, Crap! zoom on his face. In another episode, Private shows slides of their holiday vacation with Skipper sunburnt, and is slapped several times.
  • Episode Title Card
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: In "The All Nighter Before Christmas", Private mentions that Dec. 26 is also known as Boxing Day, only for Skipper to cut him off saying that they don't have time for his made-up holidays.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: In the episode where the Penguins keep losing to the lemurs in capture the flag, Skipper hits upon a realization when he remembers Kowalski's earlier words about how no land mammal can move that fast: lemurs don't travel by land, they travel by treetop. The lemurs were winning by jumping through the trees and, since the flag was always kept next to a tree, appearing directly above the end.
  • Everybody Cries: In "I Was a Penguin Zombie," Skipper gets a broken wing. In an attempt to escape the hospital room, it triggers a series of events which make Skipper sound like he's dying. When the other penguins hear this, Kowalski says they'll honor him by going on like men. Jump cut to this.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: The penguins are the embodiment of the trope.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Ze Archer until its revealed that his real name is "Archie" and that he's not really French. He's also a Rascally Raccoon.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: Skipper gets set up to appear as this to the other three penguins in "I Was a Penguin Zombie".
  • Evil Gloating: King Julien gets a round of this in "Kaboom and Kabust".
  • Exact Words: King Julien asks Burt to paint him. Cue Julien getting the paintbrush dragged across him. (And then subverted when he's smashed onto the canvas, leaving a likeness that Julien actually likes.)
  • Exotic Equipment: Not shown onscreen, but apparently the penguins are built like actual penguins with no external equipment, given that they can't tell their own sexes without a DNA test.
  • Expansion Pack Past:
    • Skipper has apparently been involved in every major conflict since World War II, and more than a few minor conflicts as well. Even though that is a biological impossibility, but then again, Skipper's never been one to let a little thing like reality stand in his way. He also believes in (and may have been to) Atlantis.
    • Dr. Blowhole seemed to be a one-off gag... until the viewers meet one of his agents reporting in. He then appears himself in "Operation: Blowhole".
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: All of them in "The Officer X Factor". They think Officer X is in the pretzel cart. They are wrong. But the reality isn't much better. He's in the umbrella, which only raises further questions.
  • Fake Rabies: The penguins decide We Need a Distraction when their friend Max the cat is being chased by Officer X of Animal Control, and use cream and fake ears to disguise Mort the mouse lemur as a rabid chihuahua. It works fine until he eats the cream. "I like diseases!"
  • Falling-in-Love Montage:
    • Skipper and Kitka have one in "The Falcon and the Snow Job."
    • Phil gets one in "Monkey Love" with the one-shot female chimp who enters their habitat.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Skipper occasionally makes less-than-complimentary comments about mammals.
    • The closest thing to religion in this show (the lemurs' belief in spirits) is generally scoffed at by the other characters.
    • In "Hard Boiled Eggy", one of Skipper's main arguments against Eggy joining the team is that he isn't a penguin. However, he later makes a comment along the lines of "That boy will make a darn fine penguin" after being impressed by his skills.
    • This is why every penguin but Private is against helping the young leopard seal, Hunter, in "Operation: Antarctica". However, this is justified as leopard seals are their natural enemies.
    • Marlene tells a couple of badgers to "stop badgering [her]", which they perceive as an unfair stereotype and a particularly nasty ethnic slur.
    • The citizens of Hoboken get this treatment too, from both the animals and the humans.
  • Fartillery: This is how Rico tries to win the car race in "Little Zoo Coupe."
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: Skipper and Kowalski do this a lot, typically when annoyed or unimpressed.
  • Fat and Skinny: Maurice and Julien, respectively.
  • Fearless Fool / Feel No Pain: Mort is stated - and in the same episode, shown - to be too stupid to feel pain. This is why he's The Chew Toy.
  • Five Stages of Grief: Skipper goes through this in the episode "Miss Understanding", when he thinks he's a girl, just immediately after Kowalski mentions each stage.
  • Flanderization:
    • King Julien has become a bit more of an idiot and a Jerkass in comparison to the movies, but he still has his moments (such as saving Skipper's life in one episode).
    • Kowalski and Rico didn't escape this either. Kowalski went from Skipper's right hand man to a super genius egomaniac. Rico went from puking up a paperclip, to being able to contain absolutely anything within his gut.
    • In the movies and the series, the penguins have gone from secretly escaping from the zoo using spoons to coming and going as they please, and doing whatever the hell they like, though still trying to remain unnoticed.
  • Flashback: Used heavily in "Hard Boiled Eggy", with at least one Lampshade Hanging from Skipper.
  • "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome:
    • Mort once had his foot fetish cured, only to regain it while rescuing King Julien.
    • In an inversion, the penguins once lowered their intelligence down to Mort's level (see Disability Immunity above), but then became their smart old selves again (well, "smart" is a bit of an overstatement for Rico).
    • In another twist on this trope, in "Brain Drain" Kowalski zaps his brain and gets super smart, but the effects are temporary and his brain shrinks down to even lower intelligence. He eats fish full of omega-3 fatty acids and gets better though.
  • For Science!: Kowalski justifies more of his dangerous and questionable inventions with this trope.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Averted with humans, chimpanzees and gorillas. Played straight with non-primates and lemurs except Maurice.
  • Four-Man Band: Too many roles are doubled up on for this to be a Five-Man Band - but the smaller comedy-based group dymanic works well.
    • Skipper is the Only Sane Man. Of course, that doesn't mean he's normal; just that he's the basis for normal within the group.
    • Kowalski is The Smart Guy.
    • Rico is the Casanova Wannabe. The other penguins constantly comment on his perverted mind.
    • Private is the Butt-Monkey who catches a lot of suffering for being the team's rookie.
    • Gets parodied when King Julien builds his own Four Man Band in "Field Tripped". Since they are only three (Julien, Mort, Maurice) they got the needed smart guy from outside - which is...Fred.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Skipper (choleric), Kowalski (melancholic), Private (phlegmatic), and Rico (sanguine).
  • Friend-or-Idol Decision: Treasure or falling into lava. Julien decides for them and dumps the treasure.
  • Friendly Enemy: Skipper and Julien. They spend most of their shared screentime arguing and generally being annoyed by the other, but Skipper will go out of his way to help Julien, and Julien has gone to Skipper to have his problems fixed. It was to the point that they were actually mistaken as 'BFF's by Skipper's Arch Nemesis Dr. Blowhole... and the other penguins agreed with him.
    Julien: So I face danger and the adventure of a lifetime and nobody will ever know about it?!
    Skipper: Welcome to my world. That makes you an honorary penguin.
    Julien: Does that mean I am your BFF?
    Skipper: Eehh... we'll keep that code on the QT.
  • Funny Background Event: At the beginning of "Antics on Ice", the penguins patrol the zoo for "ongoing evil". Too bad they overlook everything relevant...
  • Gambit Pileup: Exaggerated to the point of parody in "Go Fish."
  • Gasp!: In one episode, everyone gasps upon hearing that Mort had been kidnapped. Everyone, that is, except King Julien, who momentarily forgets who Mort is, then reassures them that "I too am gasping in horror, but on the inside."
    • In the Red Squirrel episode Skipper, Kowalski and Rico keep gasping in horror at Rockgut's accusations, much to Private's frustration.
  • Gelatinous Encasement: The titular monster in the episode Jiggles does this to Julien and Kowalski after mistaking them for fruits.
  • Gentle Giant: Roger. Big? Check! Muscular? Check! Angry Looking...ok, he's an alligator and thus kinda always smiling. But he surely is a very nice person who could as well be the cousin of long as you don't switch his brain with Rico's.
  • The Ghost: Doris the dolphin, until the episode "The Penguin Who Loved Me", where she makes her first actual appearance and is revealed to be Dr. Blowhole's sister.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: (With deep dramatic voice) CHROME CLAW.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    • In "Sting Operation".
      Skipper: They had the initial advantage, but this time we are prepared, it won't happen twice.
      [cut to the team being chased by hornets yet again]
      Skipper: It happened twice!
    • And again in "King Julien for a Day". Just as Marlene says that she thinks Skipper and Julien's Swapped Roles will help them gain an understanding for each other, the show cuts to the two arguing all over again.
    • In "The Big Squeeze".
      Marleen: "Skipper! Oh! He'll have a plan, he's always got a plan!"
      [cut to the Penguins staring down Savio]
      Kowalski: "Got a plan?"
      Skipper: "No!"
  • Girlfriend in Canada: King Julien claims he has girlfriends in Canada, but you can trust him that they are made up... with lipstick and mascara, he means, but tastefully.
  • Girls Have Cooties: Played with in "Operation: Cooties". Julien sees girls chasing after boys and "spreading" cooties throughout the zoo, right after Marlene has offered leaves of poison ivy to the penguins. The penguins then conclude that Marlene has given them cooties once the poison ivy kicks in.
  • Going Cold Turkey: This is how the penguins try to break Mort free from his foot fetish.
  • Good Behavior Points: In "Marble Jarhead", Rico drives the car to a store after spotting a poster for Princess Ms. Perky accessories, causing the thermonuclear bomb the penguins had to explode. Due to this, he is put under marble jar probation, where he receives marbles when he behaves well and has them taken out of a jar when he misbehaves. Once it's full, he'll get the accessories. While he causes mischief like destroying Private's house of cards, he soon compensates for them like building a bigger one with regurgitated cards. After he battles Julien when he believes the doll was kidnapped by the penguins, the jar is emptied, but he vomits dynamite to blow up jars of marbles in the store to fill up his and ultimately receives the reward.
  • Good-Times Montage: Rico and King Julien have one during "Kaboom And Kabust" that hews surprisingly close to a Falling-in-Love Montage.
  • Grand Finale: "The Penguin Who Loved Me", notably resolving some of the series longest running gags: Doris finally likes likes Kowalski, and Manfredi and Johnson appear. Production code wise "Goodnight and Good Chuck" is the true final episode (which aired like that in many countries as the episode following "The Penguin Who Loved Me") featuring a subtle call back to Popcorn Panic (the first episode production code wise) and actually exposing the penguins to the public in a video going global that features moments from them across the entire series.
  • Gratuitous Disco Sequence: Private suddenly starts busting moves while cleaning the lair in "Over Phil".
    • In another episode the penguins need to get past a laser-protected area in a museum. They place a disco ball on the floor that reflects the lasers away while they dance in a stack on top of it.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Toward the end of "I Was a Penguin Zombie," Private, Kowalski, and Rico tackle Skipper off a rooftop after they don't believe he was telling the truth about not being a zombie, as Kowalski says, "Nice try, zombie!" Then they all get a second to realize they're not on the roof before falling down and ending up at the vet with broken flippers.
  • Green Gators: Roger the Sewer Gator and other members of the Crocodile Kingdom are green.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: In "Mort Unbound", the muscular Mort uses Julien as a weapon to smack the penguins around.
  • Hammerspace: Rico's stomach, quite often. Kowalski also pulls notebooks and inventions out of nowhere when commenting on something.
  • Hands Go Down: "Launchtime": Skipper wants to go on vacation and Private suggests going to a zoo (which is shot down because they already live in one). Later...
    Skipper: Gentlemen, we are going to the moon!
    (Private raises his hand)
    Skipper: And no, there's no zoo on the moon.
    (Private's hand goes down)
  • Hand Signals: While infiltrating a plush toy factory, Skipper gives King Julien hand signals to go ahead and keep a lookout. Julien doesn't understand the signals, obviously, so Skipper simply screams the instructions to him, who responds with "Why didn't you just say so?"
  • Hard-Work Montage: Parodied in "Lemur See, Lemur Do," where they decide to fix a broken robot. After the montage, Skipper says, "Well, now that we fixed the coffee machine, let's get working on that robot."
  • Hates Being Touched: Again, "NO ONE MAY TOUCH THE ROYAL FEET!"
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: King Julien in the first "Blowhole" episode, though he ends up back on the side of the penguins in the end.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X":
    • The common "duty"/"doody" variant occurs in "All King, No Kingdom." Maurice says that he has duties, and Mort starts giggling about Maurice saying "doody."
    • After a scene where the penguins rub Max's butt against a tree to leave his scent and fool Officer X, they move off to the side to watch Officer X. Private starts snickering when Officer X starts saying things like "no ifs, ands or buts," "get to the bottom of this," etc., and then loses it when Skipper remarks that he hasn't seen Private laugh so much since the time that they were in Butztown, Pennsylvania.
    • Happens again in "Herring Impaired" when Skipper remarked about the 'poop deck' of his model ship.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Rico. Skipper also shows occasional tendencies... All in the name of the mission, of course.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Skipper's arch-nemesis Dr. Blowhole started as this, only to avert it in "Dr. Blowhole's Revenge (Operation: Blowhole)".
  • High-Five Left Hanging: In the first episode, when the penguins find Maurice to take him back to the zoo, they high five each other, then Skipper offers a high five to Maurice, who rejects it since he doesn't want to go back.
  • Hipster: In "Antics on Ice", Skipper fears Private would turn into Dark Phoenix... eh, a hipster (complete with Beard of Evil and ironic shades) if he disappoints him by cancelling the mission of going to "Lunacorns On Ice".
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • A non-fatal version occurs in "Jiggles" when the cube absorbs Kowalski right after he hugs it, because he's been handling so much fruit to feed it. Cue My God, What Have I Done?, and then Julien does a little snarking.
      Julien: Oh, so now it's a problem.
    • At the end of "Return of the Revenge of Dr. Blowhole (Blowhole Strikes Back)" Skipper uses the device Blowhole used to steal his memories at the beginning, then puts him in a habitat at the zoo where he jumps through flaming hoops as he did before.
    • Dale in "Arch-Enemy" intends to use Private's "Mecha" against him after the latter "uses" it to stomp on him. Dale even lampshades about the irony. But Private corrects him that it's Kowalski's invention making Dale realizes that it is Kowalski who hurt him. With that misunderstanding cleared, Dale turns his wrath onto Kowalski who runs for his life when the snails fires everything upon him.
    • In "Private and the Winky Factory", Skipper constantly pressures Private to prioritize the mission over his friends. When Skipper is in peril and begs Private for help, Private refuses to help and abandons him to procure the Winky bar box.
  • Hollywood Chameleons: The chameleons that appear in one episode use their colors as a means of communication.
  • Hollywood Hacking: In one episode, the penguins hacked into a computer by literally hacking the CPU with a chainsaw.
  • Homemade Inventions: Kowalski builds several of the things they use.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: Marlene in The Lost Treasure of the Golden Squirrel and Julien in Dr. Blowhole's Revenge.
  • How Did That Get in There?: On one occasion, the Penguins' holiday snaps got mixed in with their mission slides.
  • Humanlike Foot Anatomy: The penguins.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: The Bus Called Graveyard Eight.
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: In "Field Tripped", Julien is forcing the other lemurs (and Fred) to imitate the penguins. Eventually he tells Maurice to throw up something useful, a request that confuses him.
    You know, spew. Hork. Blow chunkies. Laugh at the carpet. Rainbow yawn. Yell at your shoes. I don't care what you do, but give me something useful from your gut!
  • Hurricane of Puns: Zookeeper X in "The Officer X Factor," which proves too much for the Penguins to bear.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Exaggerated with Rico's stomach.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When Skipper learns about Private's past in "Mr. Tux", he states he doesn't like it and prefers that his men be one-dimensional, yet he has a Multiple-Choice Past. Looks like he feels he's the only one who should have a complex past.
  • I Am Big Boned:
    Julien: Ah! Thank goodiness you are here to help my chunky monkey to carry me.
    Maurice: I'm big boned!
  • I Am Not Weasel: The lemurs are mistaken for cats on several occasions. Max even inverts this to convince a dog that he is a lemur instead of a cat.
  • I Come in Peace: Occurs in "Launchtime" when greeting Max the stray cat, whom they think is a "moon cat": "We come in peace. For now."
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: Some early episodes used a wipe that comprised silhouettes of the penguins running against a striped background. "Mask of the Raccoon" used a wipe that showed a silhouette of Skipper holding a butter knife.
  • Idiot Ball: Julien seems to have one predominantly attached to him.
    • Especially prevalent in the April Fools episode. Why in the name of heaven would anyone purposefully piss off a Rhinoceros?! It's a freaking Rhinoceros!
    • Also prevalent in 'Best Laid Plantains', where Julien decides to go eat the gorillas' new batch of plantains... despite being advised not to by Maurice before and every animals he talked to. note 
      Marlene: Don't do it.
      Kowalski: Bad idea.
      Roy: Horrible idea.
      Rico: Nuh uh.
      Burt: No way.
      Private: Are you loopy?
      Phil: shakes his head
      Skipper: Even you can't be that stupid!
      Joey: Those gorillas will rip you apart!
      Pinky: Don't even THINK about it, baby!
      Mort: It is the most, GOODEST IDEA EVER!
      King Julien: YES! Mort, you are sooo wise...
  • If You Die, I Call Your Stuff: In "Snakehead!"
    Mama duck: Be careful!
    Eggy: I'll keep an eye on the homefront, sir!
    King Julien: I'm taking your TV if you don't make it back!
  • I Have No Idea What I'm Doing: Basically one of Kowalski's Catch Phrases.
  • I Have This Friend: Occurs in "Monkey Love." Mason and Phil get a female named Lulu staying in her habitat; Phil falls in love with her and asks Mason to speak on his behalf. Lulu thinks Mason is speaking of himself when he talks about his "friend", and the rest of the episode is spent trying to get her to fall in love with Phil instead, with disastrous results.
  • I Know You Know I Know: Things get out of hand when Skipper tries to get back real fish instead of the tasteless fish cakes the penguins have been forced to eat. Julien tried to sabotage the operation.
    Julien: So you see, we have the crates with the real fish, while yours are filled with only the phony fish cake. So hahaha-ing.
    Skipper: Oh, nice try, Ringtail. But I know how much you hate the smell of fish. I was expecting a move like that, which is why I switched the crates before you even got back to the zoo.
    Julien: Ah, but I was expecting you to be expecting that, so we switcheroo-ed the crates on the pier before the fish got loading on to the truck. Ha ha!
    Skipper: Doesn't really matter, because I just switched these crates during your last flashback.
    Julien: Well I switched them while you were saying you switched them.
    Skipper: And I switched them last the time you blinked.
    Julien: Yes, but I pretended to switch them so you actually switched them back.
    Skipper: Oh, but I double switched.
    Julien: And I triple switched.
    Skipper: I million zillion switched.
    Julien: And I switched them to infinity! So you have to shut up a little bit.
    Skipper: Ah, but what you didn't see coming is that... [reveals that he's really Julien] I am actually you!
    Julien: Okay, nicely played. But if you are me, then by processing of elimination, [reveals that he's really Skipper] I must be you!
    Skipper who is really Julien: Maybe, maybe. But if you are me, and I am you, then we must both be?
  • I Like Those Odds: "Roger Dodger" has:
    Private: So, after Rico trounces the rats inside Roger's body, we switch them back?
    Skipper: Exactly. It's 100% fool-proof.
    Kowalski: More precisely, it's 2.7% foolproof. There's a 97.3% chance that this will backfire and result in a horrific abomination that will be an affront to the most elemental laws of nature and the universe.
    Skipper: I like those odds.
  • Improvised Zipline: In one episode, King Julien actually uses Mort as one. The penguins also regularly use coat hangers.
  • In-Series Nickname: "Ringtail" for Julien and "Sad Eyes" for Mort.
  • Inflating Body Gag: In "Action Reaction", Skipper gets dosed with Inflatium, which causes him to swell up like a balloon whenever he gets stressed. Julien also gets in on the ballooning at the end of the episode.
  • Incidental Villain: King Julien. Being a spoiled ego-maniacal control freak, he's the most common antagonist on the show, with his schemes often being the catalyst for larger plots or being the main threat of the episode. But, despite being something of a Jerkass, he is only casually disliked by the rest of the cast. The other characters tolerate him when he's not doing anything antagonistic, since he's not generally a bad guy, just a spoiled jerk who occasionally screws with people to get his own way.
  • Instant Chucks:
    • Rico makes some in "Whispers and Coups" by grabbing two of the chameleons by their tongues and swinging them around.
    • In a later episode, Julien and Mort get used as some by a sleep walking ninja koala.
  • Instant Web Hit: Private's accidental fall when stepping on a roller skate (It Makes Sense in Context) turns him into an internet celebrity overnight, until they turn the camera on to Alice the female zookeeper doing a silly dance while thinking she was alone.
  • Insane Troll Logic: In the episode "The Red Squirrel", Buck Rockgut thinks that if any animal likes nuts, likes drawings of red squirrels, has a bushy tail, or reads a book with a red cover, they automatically work for the Red Squirrel. Private somewhat calls him out on the last one.
    Buck: (to Phil and Mason) Read any good books lately? Read? Red...THE RED SQUIRREL!
    Skipper, Kowalski, and Rico: (collective gasp)
    Private: That one doesn't even make sense!
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: An unusual variation: a brassy, detective-like theme for the penguins, and an upbeat dance section in the middle when the lemurs appear.
  • Insubstantial Ingredients:
    Julien: That is a misfortune cookie. It's just like a regular fortune cookie, only it's full of hate and bile and sugar. And evil!
    Private: That doesn't sound very good, except for the sugar part.
    Julien: You need the sugar. Otherwise, the bile will overwhelm the flavor.
  • Intercourse with You: In episode Mental Hen, Kowalski tries to distract the titular chicken with a mating dance. The two are birds and this is pretty much how many birds, including penguins, attract their mating partners. As for the song itself, it features lyrics like "You know that you can't handle the Kowalski" and Kowalski's dance is general is quite suggestive, as he constantly shakes his hips and behind right in front of the chicken and finishes it off by lying down and giving her "a look". Don't ask how they got away with that.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Played with in "Otter Things Have Happened". Kowalski invented a device which can locate the ideal mate for someone. When he tested it on Marlene, it turned out that her ideal partner is Fred the squirrel. However, their relationship didn't work out, and it was hinted in the end of episode that her real ideal one is a male otter who lives near Fred's.
    • Kowalski often pines over a dolphin named Doris. When we meet her, she's dating a platypus.
    • Skipper dates a falcon in one episode, and has a crush on Marlene while thinking she's an arctic mink.
    • Private fell in love with Shawna, a human vet.
  • Involuntary Dance: Skipper in "Out of the Groove".
  • It Tastes Like Feet: Skipper's monkfish surprise recipe apparently tastes like elephant sweat "but everyone pretends they like it to spare Skipper's fragile ego".
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: Spoken by Skipper in "Haunted Habitat."
  • Intelligible Unintelligible: Rico can fall into this, with the other penguins translating via Repeating So the Audience Can Hear.
  • I Was Never Here:
    Skipper: (waving flippers) You didn't see anything.
  • I Will Show You X!: In "I Was A Penguin Zombie":
    Vet: Don't worry. I know you don't like the big, scary needles, so we'll use a topical cream instead.\\
Skipper: Oh, yeah? You try anything and I'll cream your topical!
  • I've Heard of That — What Is It?: Occurs in "Otter Gone Wild":
    Private: We're going for yummy snow cones, Marlene. Wanna come?
    Marlene: Snow cones? Oh, snow cones are the best! Real quick: A snow cone is…?

    Tropes J-P 
  • Jerkass Ball: The Penguins, even Private, would occasionally grab this, making them more psychotic than they already were. They could even be bigger nuisances than King Julien.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: King Julien stands out, but there are many others, including Skipper.
    • In fact, this is a good example of the penguins showing softer sides to their personalities so that they're more than just psychopaths.
  • Joke and Receive: In the episode when they get stuck in Hoboken, one of several options Kowalski brings up is that all the animals are replicants. While fighting Skipper touches them and dismisses the idea. Turns out the other animals are biosynthetic androids.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: In all of the latter episodes where the Penguins have problems sleeping because of the Lemurs making too much noise, they never re-consider using earmuffs like they did in "Assault and Batteries", the first time in the series where this was an issue. Even odder, in "Operation: Break-Speare", Rico regurgitates a pair of earmuffs just so he can ignore Private citing Shakespeare, but the penguins never consider them using them for blocking the sound of the Lemurs.
  • Just Smile and Nod: "Just smile and wave, boys."
  • Kangaroo Pouch Ride: Skipper ends up in Joey's pouch in "Assault and Batteries."
  • Kangaroos Represent Australia: Joey, mate.
  • Keet: King Julien.
  • Killer Rabbit:
    • In "Operation: Neighbor Swap", Julien sics the Petting Zoo rabbits on the penguins. To the penguins' surprise and Julien's, the rabbits are efficient, deadly fighters and they beat the penguins senseless till they dropped on the floor defeated.
    • In "Operation: Lunacorn Apocalypse", while the Big Bad of the episode is in a Lunacorn's body, Private's blabbering about the toy is what make him realize he can control an army of Lunacorns and access Reality Warper powers.
  • Kitchen Sink Included: Rico hacks one up (surprisingly, this old gag was only used in one of the last episodes, "Operation Swap-panzee").
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": In "The Red Squirrel," Skipper, Kowalski, and Rico all squee over meeting and working with the legendary Special Agent Buck Rockgut. Skipper even claims to have "patterned his whole life" after Rockgut. Their enthusiasm fades when he accuses first Private then Kowalski of being the villainous Red Squirrel.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Lampshaded.
    Skipper: Kowalski, options.
    Kowalski: I recommend a strategic retreat.
    Skipper: Explain.
    Kowalski: It's like running away, but manlier.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • In "Mort Unbound", King Julien uses the now Hulked Out Mort to strong-arm everyone in the zoo into giving him fruits. When Julien refuses to give Mort a cut of the spoils, Mort turns on him.
    • In "Operation: Neighbor Swap", the Penguins can't stand Julien's singing so they send him, Maurice and Mort to the petting zoo in hopes they suffer there and get Roger as a neighbor. Unfortunately, Roger is actually an even worst neigbor than Julien as he unintentionally gets them into trouble whenever he visits. When the Penguins tried to undo their actions, King Julien sics his new rabbit entourage upon them and they suffered the most brutal yet adorable Curb-Stomp Battle they ever had. Adding more salt to the wound, the Penguins are forced to hear Roger's singing, the very reason this whole mess started.
    • The animals at the Zoo turn on the Penguins after they learned that they spied on them to learn about their embarrassing secrets. Although Private manages to erase everyone's memories including the other Penguins, Burt sits upon the three by accident with Kowalski yelling what did they do to deserve this.
  • Latex Perfection: See I Know You Know I Know.
  • Lawful Stupid: Buck Rockgut.
  • Layman's Terms: From "Haunted Habitat":
    Kowalski: It appears that the ghostly death rattle is coming from your own respiratory system.
    Marlene: Oh, well, yeah, of course. Can somebody just spit it out in English?
    Rico simply demonstrates her loud snoring.
    • Skipper often asks Kowalski this after he gives an explanation too full of science jargon.
  • Literal Metaphor: The "punch" in Julien's Sour Mango Punch bubble gum is apparently so strong that it literally punches Julien in the face.
  • Love Dodecahedron: In "Tunnel of Love". Add four beavers (The animals! The animals!), two badger girls and Marlene, stir for a minute and you get...utter chaos. Complete with Love Chart.
    Kowalski: Wait. This is a map of the tunnel system. THIS is the love chart.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: In Otter Woman Marlene got her fur bleached due to a chlorine accident, and everyone thinks she is a new otter named Arlene. Skipper fell for her and became a Stalker with a Crush.
  • MacGuffin: In "It's About Time", the key component Kowalski needs to finish his time machine is an isotope called MacGuffium-239.note  Could also be considered an example of Unobtainium.
  • Mad Scientist: Kowalski always showed hints, but in "Jiggles" he really was going bonkers.
  • Magic Versus Science: Kowalski is highly skeptical of any supposedly 'supernatural' phenomena, like ghosts or psychics.
  • Malaproper: King Julien has shades of this. "These stitions are very super!"
  • Malingering Romance Ploy: In "Love Hurts", Private gets injured and falls in love with the zoo nurse. He then starts purposely getting injured so he can keep seeing her.
  • Manly Tears: Skipper cries one "very small, very MANLY" tear when he realizes just how much of his life he's wasted —er, spent— with Julien. (The tear is needed to "defuse" the S.T.A.N.K. machine in the episode of the same name.)
  • May It Never Happen Again: In "Truth Ache", the penguins decide to spy on their zoomates in an attempt to be Crazy-Prepared. However, this plot comes crashing down when Private accidentally consumes truth serum and reveals their plans to the other animals. After Private induces Laser-Guided Amnesia on his squad and the zoomates via a spray Kowalski had invented, he subsequently destroys the spy footage to avoid another incident like it.
  • Meaningful Name: Joey. ("Joey" is the word for a baby kangaroo.)
  • Mechanical Animals: One episode involves Julien encountering a robot lemur named Lemmy. He teaches it to dance and the penguins teach it to spy.
  • Mickey Mousing: Happens in "Operation Break-Speare", as the Penguins try to slip into a prop room, the soundtrack punctuates their light footsteps with violin plucks. And a glockenspiel, when they have to backtrack a few steps to retrieve a narcoleptic Skipper.
  • "Miss X" Pun: There's an episode called "Miss Understanding", which is about the penguins wrongly believing Skipper to be female.
  • Mistaken for Undead: Skipper in "I Was a Penguin Zombie", due to numbing medical cream (as well as the others overhearing a medical TV drama that made them think he had died).
  • Monstrous Seal: Subverted with Hunter, a friendly leopard seal pup who Private saves from a fishing net. Her family are all right too, when they aren't trying to eat the heroes.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: More like Multiple Choice Deaths. What the hell happened to Manfredi and Johnson anyway? They're part of the Seaville show now. With lost eyes and broken limbs.
  • Musical Episode: The latter half of "The Return of the Revenge of Dr Blowhole". Induced by a combination of a high-power energy cell, a Mirror Morality Machine, and a mp3 player.
  • The Music Meister: In "The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr. Blowhole", Dr. Blowhole's new device accidentally fuses with an experimental power cell and an MP3 player to form a machine capable of doing this. Blowhole himself becomes this when he takes control of it. No surprise there, since he's voiced by the Trope Namer.
  • Mushroom Samba: Tree frog venom is implied to cause this, with Kowalski commenting that he "could taste sound".
  • My Car Hates Me: Literally, in "Driven to the Brink". Rico accidentally destroys the car, and when he rebuilds it it comes to life and starts violently attacking him.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg:
    • In the cooties episode, Skipper remarks that "my men and Mort" have come down with cooties.
    • Likewise, "my men and Marlene" in "All Tied Up With a Boa", but maybe he was just being exact/courteous/politically correct/alliterative/all of the above.
  • My Future Self and Me: Kowalski meets not one but two of his future selves. It doesn't end well.
  • My Little Phony: The Show Within a Show "Lunacorns" is Private's favourite tv programme.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In the first movie, the Penguins were tunneling out of their habitat and hiding the tunnel under their food dish. Here, they've built an entire underground base of operations with the entrance hidden under their food dish.
    • King Julien has claimed the King of New York's throne as his own; Julien's throne sits on Alex's old podium, with the lion engravings covered up.
    • Iconic lines from the movie; "Smile and wave", "Cute and cuddly" and "You didn't see anything" all show up with varying frequency.
    • Rico made sushi for Alex at the end of the first movie. Whenever sushi is on the menu, it's Rico that prepares it.
    • In "Field Tripped," Madagascar is mentioned several times.
    • In "The All Nighter Before Christmas", Santa greets Julien, to which he says they go back, a nod to Merry Madagascar.
  • Nano Technology: Kowalski created a bunch of nanites capable of animating any machine. In an attempt to keep them from ending up like his other creations, Kowalski programmed them to never allow harm to come to the penguins. Unfortunately, considering their commando lifestyle, the nanites naturally took their programming too far.
  • National Animal Stereotypes: Some of the side characters.
    • Joey the Kangaroo speaks with an Australian accent.
    • Hans the Puffin is Danish. Seabirds like puffins are often associated with Nordic countries.
    • Savio, the boa constrictor, a South American species, speaks with a Hispanic accent.
  • Negative Continuity:
    • "Jiggles" has a giant gelatinous blob break a large hole in the penguins' headquarters which is replaced in the next episode.
    • "Little Zoo Coupe" has the penguins modify their car to make it "boss," but it is back to its pink, frilly self in later episodes.
    • "It's About Time" ends with Kowalski building a snowcone machine and burying New York in shaved ice. Come next episode, everything is back to normal.
    • "Kaboom and Kabust" ends with Rico completely destroying the lemur habitat, which is back to normal in the next episode.
    • Private gets left behind in the plush factory in "Operation: Plush and Cover," but is back at the zoo with no explanation in the next episode.
  • Never Learned to Read: Following the movies, Phil seems to be the only literate animal in the zoo, requiring others to consult him for translations when something needs to be read.
  • Never Say "Die": Subverted.
    Kowalski: Were it not for our failure, Julien would be... sleeping with the hot dogs.
    (the others stare)
    Kowalski: ...dead.
    • In another example, they lightly lampshade this trope but still play it straight:
      Dr. Blowhole: Just try and stop me, and your fuzzy little buddy sleeps with the fishes! (cue Evil Laugh)
      Kowalski: Uh, technically fish don't sleep so much as rest. You'd think a dolphin would know that. (Beat) Unless he means... (shudder)
    • In "Roger Dodger", Kowalski's turn of phrase makes it soar right over Private's head:
      Kowalski: They're taking him straight to the gray-bar hotel.
      Private: Oh, a hotel? Well, that'll solve his housing problem. I wonder if he'll find a mint on his pillow?
      (the others stare; after a beat, Skipper reaches over and pats Private lightly on the head)
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: Kowalski invents a Time Machine, but a future Kowalski has come to get Private to stop him, warning him that if both Kowalskis were to ever meet, it would cause a rip in the space-time continuum. Also, a third Kowalski has come to get Skipper to keep the time machine from being destroyed. When the two future Kowaslkis meet, they reassure the others that it's okay, as long as the original Kowalski doesn't see them. And that's when original Kowalski sees them, causing the space-time rupture that led them all here in the first place.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Professor Blowhole even says "Thank you Kowalski!" when Kowalski accidentally speeds up his machine to melt the polar ice caps instead of deactivating it.
  • The Nicknamer: Skipper has a few shades of this, referring to King Julien exclusively as "Ringtail" and Mort as "Sad Eyes." And "Moon Cat" for Max. And "Stingtail" for the leader of a hornet hive. And "Big Grey"/"Long Trunks" for Burt.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Rico is perfectly happy with things that give the other penguins nightmares. Like serenely munching away on popcorn while watching a Brutal Nature Documentary with penguins getting gobbled up by leopard seals. And when Kowalski and Private are clearly horrified/nauseated at Skipper's broken flipper in "I Was a Penguin Zombie," Rico looks... a little too interested and in "Roger Dodger", as Roger is being pummeled offscreen by the rats, Rico stares at said beatdown, a blank smile on his face, his left eye twitching, and licks his beak at the end.
  • No Flow in CGI: Since it's just a TV show, in order to save money, the lemurs aren't visibly fuzzy, instead they're textured to merely look like they are. Similarly, the penguins' feathers have a lot less sheen to them then they do in the movies. Noticeably subverted however with the leaves on King Julien's crown, which still realistically sway when he moves around.
  • No Name Given: Officer X.
    Alice: X? [scoffs] Is that the name your mommy gave you?
    Officer X: Mother never told me my real name. Said it was classified.
  • Non Sequitur, *Thud*: In "Miracle on Ice," Kowalski gets knocked out during a hockey game and starts babbling in an oddly erudite manner, since he's the Cunning Linguist of the group. "Flibbery-gibbit, man! I'm as juxtaposed as the next hamburger!"
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Skipper can't go back to Denmark because of the Copenhagen Incident.
    • In "Kaboom and Kabust", King Julien pieces together one of the penguins' shredded, highly-classified documents:
      King Julien: This one makes a penguin!... But why is he shaking hands with a Sasquatch and the King of Sweden?
    • Occurs again in "Hot Ice", After Julien concludes that the "sky spirits" are mad at him for something Mort did, Mort asks the "sky spirits" if it was for the "you know what" in Maurice's oatmeal.
    • When a Truth Serum-addled Private exposes the secrets of the zoo-dwellers, Marlene has two; first he reveals to everyone that she performs imaginary pop concerts in her room, which the viewers actually saw her do earlier in the episode, and later:
      Marlene: Okay, all I wanna know is, do you know about-?
      Private: Yes.
      Marlene: And how I like to-?
      Private: Yes.
      Marlene: With the-?
      Private: Yes.
    • He also mentions that she thought that was embarrassing, she should see what Kowalski does when he thinks no one is looking.
    • Manfredi and Johnson have suffered many Noodle Incidents, all vaguely alluded to as terrible warnings from the past, but none ever fully explained.
  • No-Sell: In "Littlefoot", Private is tasked to deliver an incredibly timid Marlene. Her constant fretting annoys Private so much that he decides to break his vow never to use his Hyper Cute again to knock her out and get some peace, but she is so timid that it simply scares her instead.
  • Nose Nuggets: Trope Namer. In one episode, King Julien gets trapped in Burt the Elephant's trunk. When he finally gets out, he says that his life "and many nose nuggets" flashed before his eyes.
  • Not Me This Time: In "Lemur See, Lemur Do", Julien accuses the penguins of sending a copy-cat robot to mock him, and Skipper admits they really are planning a way to mock him...but they're still working on it.
  • Not Where They Thought: In one episode, the penguins try to land on the moon, but end up on a rooftop instead. They still think they're on the moon, and refer to a cat they meet as "Moon Cat".
  • Now Do It Again Back Wards: In "Wishful Thinking", but it's hinted that Private did not really hit the Reset Button.
  • Number Two: Kowalski seems to be Skipper's Number Two.
  • Octopoid Aliens: There are giant space squid from Mars. They seem to want to invade the Earth and/or steal the most advanced technological inventions from InvExpo. They end up going for Kowalski's robotic hand instead.
  • Odd Couple: Mason and Phil. One is proper and speaks with a British accent; the other is mute and, according to one episode, is a complete slob.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Skipper has some of these qualities. He is a lot more cultured than the rest of the commando penguins, generally courteous towards ladies, and also pulls off the craziest stunts.
  • Oh, Crap!: A very common and familiar facial expression for the cast. Especially the penguins, who even get one during the title sequence.
  • Older Than They Look: The writers seem to delight in providing implausibly high ages for the characters. According to her Nickelodeon profile, Marlene was born in 1952, and Word of God is that Mort is actually thirty-five. Private, despite appearing to be a teenager and occasionally acting like a small child, is old enough to have had at least one previous identity, as shown in "Mr Tux".
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Private treads into this during episodes like "The Red Squirrel."
    • Maurice and Marlene fit this trope as well.
    • Rico, of all people, becomes this in "Herring Impaired" when the others came down with a disease that made them just about as crazy for fish as him.
  • Organ Autonomy: In "Mort Unbound," Julien gets into a squabble with his own brain while congratulating himself on using the suddenly muscle-bound Mort to intimidate the other zoo animals to giving their stuff to him. He even turns from side to side to pantomime speaking to somebody else.
    Julien: That was a great idea I just had. I must compliment my brain. Good idea, brain.
    His brain: Thanks, I think it was nice that you had an idea that you didn't pull out of your booty.
    Julien: Hey, do not speak ill of the booty!
    His brain: Oh, booty, booty, booty! Shut up about the booty!
    Julien: You shut up about the shutting up!
    His brain: Fine, then I am not talking to you!
    Julien: And I am not talking to you! Stupid brain.
  • Operation: [Blank]: All of the penguins' missions are dubbed "Operation _____." There is also a DVD compilation titled Operation: DVD Premiere, and one episode is titled "Operation: Plush and Cover."
  • Out Of Control Popcorn: In „Popcorn Panic” after getting caught Skipper and Private decided to destroy stolen popcorn bag in incinerator, which caused to poping it out so much, that it overflowed the zoo.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • "Paternal Egg-Stinct" shows Private to be one. Private is so horrified by the other penguins' rough handling of the egg that he steals it and snaps at Skipper. Also, Kowalski towards Jiggles the goo monster.
    • Julien towards the baby fossa once he realizes it thinks Julien is its daddy.
  • Painful Adhesive Removal: In "Crown Fools", when King Julien won't stop screaming after his crown falls into the sewer, Marlene shuts him up by sticking an adhesive leaf over his mouth. He rips it off and begins talking for a second before realizing how painful what he did was.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Skipper likes this. Also works magic in "Antics on Ice" (although the rhino and the gorilla technically aren't disguised, just cosplaying as Lunacorns).
  • Pass the Popcorn: When it looks like Joey and the penguins are going to have a fight in "Kanga Management", Julien and the other lemurs turn up to watch. With a carton of popcorn.
  • Penguin of Mass Destruction: Rico.
    Rico: Kaboom!
  • Percussive Maintenance: Skipper tries to smack a malfunctioning flashlight. It works...for all of about three seconds, and then fizzles out again.
  • Persona Non Grata: Denmark does not like Skipper. Nobody dares ask why.
  • Phlebotinum-Induced Stupidity:
    • "Sting Operation," the penguins use one of Kowalski's inventions to make themselves stupid so that they can't feel the hornet's stings.
    • Happens with Kowalski in "Brain Drain", owing both to a malfunction in a brain-enhancing machine and a lack of fish in the diet.
  • Phrase Catcher: If Skipper looks in Kowalski's direction, expect either "Kowalski, analysis" or "Kowalski, options."
  • Pilot Movie: The 2005 theatrical short The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper, while differing from the series in many ways, particularly in it being set before the Madagascar movies instead of after, still features many elements that would make it into The Penguins of Madagascar, including the Penguins' base and Rico's redesign.
  • Place Worse Than Death: Skipper views Hoboken as a living cesspool and has vowed to never end up there. Unfortunately, he did end up there, but the trope is subverted at first when it seems to be a nice place....then played straight again.
  • Plank Gag: King Julien challenges Fred the squirrel to a staff duel. Fred beats him without even trying, just by moving around with the staff on his shoulder.
  • Playful Otter: Marlene, the inspiration for this trope.
  • Playing Pictionary: Julien and Marlene are missing and Kowalski shows a picture he drew of them to Fred the squirrel.
    Fred: Which one's the otter?
    Kowalski: This one, obviously. Note the whiskers?
    Fred: Oh, I thought that was a cat.
    Kowalski: Did I ask "have you seen this lemur and cat?"
    Fred: No, that's why I thought it was odd that you drew a cat.
    Kowalski: It's not a cat.
    Fred: Then why does it have whiskers?
    Kowalski: You know what? Forget the otter.
    Fred: Cat.
    Kowalski: Whatever!
  • Portmanteau: King Julien coins "skorca" in reference to the "sky orca" (really an inflatable in a parade) and then lampshades it by saying that it's popular to put two words together that way. In a later episode, he acquires a "neck decoration" (a diamond necklace), which he renames a "neckoration."
  • Post-Injury Desk Job: In "Action Reaction" Skipper is forced to pick desk job to avoid stress, which could make him explode.
  • Post-Treatment Lollipop: Roger the Sewer Gator is about to have his brain switched with Rico. After Kowalski explains how painful the procedure will be, Roger asks "Do I get a lollipop?" Kowalski shows him the lollipop.
  • Potty Dance: King Julien remarks in "Friend In A Box" that he never learned "that dance." Being the king, he just goes wherever he is. Kowalski takes two steps away from Julien upon hearing that.
  • Potty Emergency: Utilized as a weapon by Kowalski and Julien during "Friend-In-A-Box" to try and distract Mort long enough for Kowalski to snatch the circuit board from the game Mort was playing.
  • Potty Failure: Played with in "Operation: Antarctica". When Hunter roars at Private, a yellow puddle appears at his feet. He then steps to the side, revealing a tipped-over styrofoam cup.
    Private: You made me spill my lemonade!
  • Power Echoes:
    • Julien declares a new law, and Maurice adds echoes for dramatic effect.
    • Also, CHROME CLAW.
  • Pounds Are Animal Prisons: Well, the zoo anyway. While the animals are treated pretty well, there's a general subtext of prison confinement and underground dealings.
  • Power of Friendship: Zig-Zagging Trope when Private builds a robot suit to hug a deadly poisonous frog who has taken over the zoo with threats.
    Private: I'd be a grumpy gus too if no-one ever hugged me.
    Barry: Hey, you know what? I never have been hugged. Maybe this is what I needed. Or maybe I'm just a jerk who enjoys bullying other animals.
    Private: Oh. Well, in that case I can just squeeze you until you pop like a grape.
    Barry: No, no, hugging's good! ... Actually I'm liking the hug.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: In one episode, Private uses a butterscotch lollipop as a boomerang.
  • Properly Paranoid: Skipper is insanely paranoid about everything. It's only logical that sometimes he's also right.
  • Protection in Mouth: In 'Operation Antarctica', Private starts a Predator-Prey Friendship with the leopard seal Hunter. A maneuver the two develop together involves her picking him up in her mouth and tossing him, mimicking her natural way of hunting penguins. While it's occasionally performed for fun, it's primarily used for locomotion, and is done one final time at the end of the episode to save Private from the rest of Hunter's kind.
  • Pun:
    • "We gotta get you otta flirty-flirt town. In a Rush. Big Time!" Said to the beaver gang voiced by Big Time Rush.
    • "I'm an otter failure."
    • The show loves using the otter pun so much they even named three episodes with it. Otter Things Have Happened, Otter Woman and Otter Gone Wild.
    • Also, Hans' reaction to Skipper's lightsaber in the Return of the Revenge of Dr. Blowhole: "What was that?! We always fish fight!"
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    • Alice in "Popcorn Panic," upon catching a boy feeding popcorn to the animals: "Do! Not! Feed! The! Animals!" It's punctuated with her slapping up a "Do Not Feed the Animals" sign on some object with each word.
    • Lampshaded in "In the Line of Doody," with a sting and a zoom-in on each word.
      Skipper: The clock... is... ticking.
      Kowalski: So were the dramatic pauses really necessary, then?
      Skipper: (another sting, camera zooms in closer) Yes.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Attempted by Rico in "Driven to the Brink". Skipper tells him it won't work this time, though.

    Tropes R-Z 
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: Skipper consistently pulls off the craziest, wildest, awesomest stunts. The Rat King also falls into this, but...
  • A Rare Sentence
    Marlene: (frantically) Guys, Barry's tongue is caught in the cotton candy machine winding up and it's going to get really ugly real soon!!
    Kowalski: Wow, never in the history of language have those words been put together in that order!
  • Rascally Raccoon: Ze Archer/Archie.
  • Rasputinian Death: Marlene wants to do this to King Julien at the end of "Otter Things Have Happened": "When I find Julien, I'm gonna rip him limb from limb, sew him back together, then rip him apart all over again!"
  • Rat King: There is a recurring antagonist named "the Rat King". He is a gigantic, muscle-bound rat in command of a gang of sewer rats.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale:
    • When Kowalski mentions that readings of spectral activity are off the charts, Skipper suggests getting bigger charts.
    • Also, the Cute-O-Meter which promptly explodes when Private overloads it with his total adorableness.
      Kowalski: It appears Private has discovered some sort of "Quantum Hyper Cute!" 132% adorability!
  • Real Men Wear Pink: The Penguins go-to vehicle is a bright pink toy car that looks like it either came with or goes with Rico's Ms. Perky doll.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Frances, the main villain of "The Hoboken Surprise" has enough money and intelligence to create almost identical biomechanical android duplicates of the animals (to the point the Skipper duplicate has some of his fighting abilities) and a DNA scanner builded in the massage chairs. What does is her major ambition to have with this technology? Become a zookeeper. You will think she could get further in other bigger areas with this amount of technological expertise.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Rico and Kowalski.
  • Reluctant Monster: Roger the alligator.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
    • The penguins' car's headlights took on a red glow in "Driven to the Brink" after it targeted Rico.
    • Each of the lemurs' eyes turned a near-red after they became crazy and dangerous from eating lychee nuts.
    • From "Dr. Blowhole's Revenge":
      Skipper: Glowing red eyes? That's almost never good.
  • Red Live Lobster: Dr. Blowhole's lobster minions (including Chrome Claw) are all bright red.
  • Red Scare: "The Red Squirrel" had fun with this; Special Agent Buck Rockgut has become paranoid in his hunt for the Red Squirrel. He starts accusing and detaining everyone for things that have nothing to do with the Red Squirrel. Private laments that Rockgut's wasted so many years chasing after a threat that may in fact no longer exist. Then we get to see the Red Squirrel who is still scheming and has been spying on Rockgut all along.
  • Revenge of the Sequel: Dr. Blowhole's Revenge and more egregiously, The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr. Blowhole.
  • Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: In the latter half of season 2, some practices that were abandoned or greatly downplayed by the end of season 1 (e.g. "Kowalski, options", "MY CAR!", Manfredi and Johnson) have returned.
  • Reverse Polarity: In Invention Intervention, Kowalski presses a series of buttons in-order to stop his invisibility ray from blowing up and making everything invisible.
  • Revolting Rescue: In one episode, Kowalski creates a sentient jello cube named Jiggles, who grows every time he eats and eats all the fruit in sight. Then, he eats Kowalski and Julien, and to get him to spit them out, Kowalski throws up because he ate fish for lunch and Jiggles hates the taste of fish.
  • Retired Gunfighter: Parodied (with mini-golf) in Mr Tux.
  • Rewind, Replay, Repeat: Blowhole orders a lackey to rewind a few times so he can catch the exact moment of Skipper's demise, including freezing his death scream.
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: Skipper calls Alice "a riddle, wrapped in mystery, and dunked in nasty sauce" in the cartoon short "All Choked Up."
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Mort, Eggy, and possibly Private.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Lem-R, who shall learn the "moves" from Julien to be able to roam the Mars terrain. note 
  • Road Apples: Mason occasionally talks about flinging poo.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: The rat king, who is musclebound and taller than the penguins.
  • Royal Decree: King Julien issued a decree forbidding touching his "royal feet," but eventually "undecreed" it later.
  • Running Gag:
    • Mort's foot fetish for Julien's feet, as well as his status as The Chew Toy. "Hooray! I'm expendable!"
    • Skipper warning his men against certain circumstances by saying some variation of "Just ask Manfredi and Johnson. Except you can't, because they fell for [situation]. We had to [horrible description]." This might also be a shout out, since Manfredi and Johnson were the two guys machine gunned at the start of Stalag 17.
    • Skipper's hatred of hippies.
    • A character will do something destructive, such as cause an explosion, and a voice off camera screams, "My car!"
      • The jokes had its variants over time, such as being shouted in a different language or someone yelling "SOMEONE ELSE'S CAR!" Once, the gorillas tossed Bert the elephant out of the zoo. He yelled "Some guy's car!"
    • If a bag is needed for something, it will invariably say "trail mix" on it.
    • Constant references to Hoboken being a Wretched Hive, and many one-shot villains being sent to the Hoboken Zoo at the end of the episode.
  • Running on All Fours: Maurice does this when he rescues King Julien in "Thumb Drive."
  • Sanity Ball: Private held it in episodes such as "The Red Squirrel," whereas it was in the flippers of the other three penguins in "Skorca!"
  • Sapient Cetaceans: Dr. Blowhole, arch-enemy of the penguins of Madagascar, is an Evil Genius bent on having his revenge on humanity for the humiliation he has suffered jumping through flaming hoops on Coney Island. Definitely not friendly or heroic.
  • Save the Villain: The Penguins relunctantly protects the Vesuvius Twins from the revenge-seeking Zoo animals since they are just children.
  • Say My Name: "Driven to the Brink" has Skipper crying "RIIIIICCCCOOOO!"
  • Scary Black Man: Officer X, complete with a beard.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: In the episode "Sting Operation", the Penguins deal with a swarm of hornets who like to sting others For the Evulz, complete with the intention to sting a group of kids.
  • Secret Message Wink: In "Kaboom and Kabust", after Rico and King Julien are told to stop making things explode, they agree but wink to each other to show they don't intend to change. Private asks why Julien winked, to which he tries to make an excuse before shoving the penguins away.
  • Secret Test: Turns out to be the whole plot of the episode "Command Crisis".
  • Seers: In "Mental Hen". Although the hen isn't mental at all, just super-intelligent, and super-informed, and thus can predict the events. But what is the difference, anyway?
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: In the episode "Truth Ache", the Penguins start collecting embarassing secrets about their zoo neighbors which they can use against them should any one of them become an enemy. They do turn on the Penguins only because Private, thanks to Kowalski's truth serum, blabbed all about what they've done causing the normally friendly zoo animals to be completely furious at them for invading their privacies.
  • Serious Business: The epic mini-golf game between Private and the armadillo in "Mr. Tux".
  • Servile Snarker: Maurice.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Kowalski's mission in "It's About Time."
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The episode "Crown Fools." The penguins and Marlene go on a wild goose chase trying to recover King Julien's crown, but it turns out that he had a spare crown all along and just didn't tell them that.
  • Ship Tease: Lots of it, in all sorts of directions.
    • Otter Gone Wild has Marlene showing interest in King Julien (although she was in a feral state at the time), and "Otter Things Have Happened" has him interested in courting Marlene while she's dating Fred the Squirrel (a relationship that, in itself, looked like it was going to work out but didn't).
    • Kaboom and Kabust is basically one big Julien/Rico Ship Tease. Seriously, just watch their montage.
    • It's very easy to interpret the penguins' dialogue as ship-worthy. For instance, all the poetry they recite to Rico when they think he's going to die in "All Choked Up".
    • The Otter Woman, SO MUCH for almost ANY pairing, but especially Skilene.
    • Skipper and Marlene hug in Miss Understanding, in a rather suggestive manner. While most of their interactions are usually exaggerated by the fans, this particular one is hard to miss or dispute.
  • Shock and Awe: Skipper uses a static electricity charge to knock out a bunch of Danish secret agents.
  • Shorter Means Smarter: Inverted with Kowalski—along with being the most intelligent of the penguins, he's also the tallest (and thinnest).
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "A Kipper for Skipper", Kowalski enters a subway train and reads a "The Flintstones" comic. Upside-down. (The comic, not Kowalski.)
    • Manfredi and Johnson, whom Skipper mentions constantly, are named after the two prisoners who are killed at the beginning of Stalag 17.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Naturally, "Operation Break-speare" features a great number, such as Private delivering a verbose insult that was mentioned by Prince Hal in Henry IV, Part 1.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Interviews state that they hired a consultant to make sure that all of Phil's sign language is accurate. They also go as far as to make sure that he makes the appropriate facial expression while signing.
    • Roger has proper teeth configuration of a real alligator: only the upper teeth are visible when his mouth is closed.
    • Parker the Platypus from "The Penguin Who Loved Me" is depicted with venomous spurs and even makes use of them.
    • A lesser (but still notable for a cartoon) example is in "Paternal Egg-Stinct," where after Skipper says he feels that the incubation process of an egg isn't "manly" after Marlene asks them to babysit an egg she found in her habitat, even Kowalski points that the incubation process is technically a "guy thing" for penguins.
    • Kowalski points out in "Badger Pride" that the two badgers who appear in that episode are "cousins" of Marlene, even going so far as to say that both are in the family mustelidae.
    • In "Brain Drain", the fish that restore Kowalski's brain actually DO contain omega fatty acids, even the drawing is correct!
    • The one-shot character dodo bird is depicted as a Fearless Fool who gets himself killed multiple times simply because he's not afraid of anything. This was Truth in Television (and even mentioned on the show), as part of the reason dodos went extinct is because there were next to no predators on their island, and therefore they evolved no defenses and were oblivious to how dangerous humans were when they first showed up.
  • Sickeningly Sweet: How everyone sees Private's favourite TV show, The Lunacorns.
    "I call rainbows upside-down colour smiles!"
  • Silly Animal Sound: The giant lobster "Chrome Claw" roars like a Tyrannosaurus rex from Jurassic Park.
  • Simple Solution Won't Work:
    • Parodied in the episode "Popcorn Panic", where Zookeeper Alice greatly enforces the "do not feed the animals" rule (much to the zoo animals' chagrin as it means that they won't be able to get popcorn anymore). To solve the problem, Julien suggests that they simply get rid of Alice, only for Skipper to shoot it down on the belief that more Alices will just take her place (forty-two more to be exact, according to Kowalski).
    • In "High Moltage" the Penguins want to leave the Zoo to catch the premiere of the new Commodore Danger movie, only to discover that the zoo has installed a new security system that shocks animals that try to leave. When several of their plans to escape fail, Kowalski points out that if worst comes to worst they could see the movie another day, only for Skipper to refuse, pointing out that the movie is so popular that unless they go today they'll almost certainly have everything spoiled, ruining the point of going.
  • Slow Motion: The writers love this trope. Nearly every third episode has at least one Slow Motion scene, even if it's for something as simple as Officer X getting hit with a doll. See below too:
  • Slow "NO!":
    • Maurice and Julien get one in "Gone in a Flash" when the camera slips out of both of their hands.
    • Skipper gets one in "Penguiner Takes All" when Julien blows his nose on the flag, and then Julien gets another one later in the same episode when Skipper gets the flag.
    • And Private gets one in "Untouchable" when Skipper gets touched by the poison dart frog.
    • Another one in "Untouchable" — Mort and Julien get one as Julien is about to be touched by the poison dart frog.
  • The Smart Guy: Kowalski.
  • Smoke Out: Occurs regularly, usually from a bomb that Rico has spit up.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Aside from Alice (who is a minor adversarial character), Marlene is the only main female character. Even then, she isn't featured in every episode.
  • Sniff Sniff Nom: Kowalski tends to do this to evidence. He's done it to chameleon footprints and a strand of Julien's hair, among other things.
  • Some Kind of Force Field: In "Skorca!", when the penguins attack the killer whale balloon (thinking it's a real whale) and bounce off it, Kowalski remarks that "the creature appears to be protected by some kind of blubbery force field. Also, Whee-hee-hee-hee!"
  • Soul Jar: In one episode, the baboons use "backwoods magic" to steal King Julien's "groove" and seal it in a jar until he gives them an apology. Julien, of course, refuses, and a fight for the jar ensues. It falls and breaks at Skipper's feet; Skipper has remained skeptical about the whole "groove in a jar" thing until he starts dancing uncontrollably.
  • The Speechless: Phil, who converses only in sign language (it's unknown if he's actually mute or he simply chooses not to speak).
  • Spikes of Doom: Seen in "Popcorn Panic" when the penguins are getting pushed towards the ceiling by a wave of popcorn:
    Skipper: I knew I shouldn't have installed those decorative spikes.
  • Spirit Advisor: Alex in Dr. Blowhole's Revenge who Skipper's mind dreams up to help him.
  • Spit Take: Kowalski does five in "Mr. Tux". He even lampshades it twice: first by saying that maybe he should set his cup down, and later on by spit-taking on the security keypad to see if it would fix it.
  • Squashed Flat: Kowalski accidentally gets crushed by a billboard in "I Know Why the Caged Bird Goes Insane", kicking off the episode's conflict.
  • Stable Time Loop: Occurs in "It's About Time." Or a few, depending on how you look. More specifically: Kowalski wants to build a time machine. During the expedition to steal necessary materials, a future version of Kowalski appears and asks Private to stop the construction to prevent Time Crash. Soon afterwards, another future Kowalski appears and asks Skipper to make sure the machine is finished for the same reason. Eventually all Kowalskis meet each other, breaking time. Original Kowalski decides to go back in time and convince Private to stop the construction - cue Kowalski!2 saying it's him. Then Private remarks that if he stops the construction, he will be unable to go back and stop the construction, prompting Kowalski!2 to go back in time to make sure the machine is built - cue Kowalski!3 saying it's him.
  • The Starscream: Clemson the lemur is a non-fatal example in "Right Hand Man".
  • Status Quo Is God: Averted in "The Penguin Stays in the Picture", which ends with Mort's picture on the new zoo brochures instead of Private's.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: A rare self-inflicted example in "Miss Understanding"; when Skipper thinks he's actually female, he promptly starts acting out the stereotype, much to Marlene's frustration. The remaining penguins encourage this, complete with Dashing Hero poses and "Don't worry, ladies—Just let us handle things."
  • Stock Scream: The aforementioned "MY CAR!" scream.
  • Stomach of Holding: Rico. So much so that an entire episode ("All Choked Up") revolves around him not being able to vomit up a ticking time bomb, thanks to some medicine that one of the zookeeper's gave him.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Kowalski, while having lost his intelligence, is reminded he's an aquatic bird, to which he responds, "I'm a beaver?!" Later, Julien rejects Kowalski as his lunch, but expresses he would like a different aquatic bird, prompting him to ask "Is the beaver fresh today?"
    • In another episode, Kowalski briefly interpets BFF as Buffalo Fire Fighters. Waaay at the end of the episode, after hearing Julien and Skipper are now BFFs Mort cries out "Yay, they're Buffalo Fire Fighters!"
  • Stuff Blowing Up: One of Rico's favorite tropes. Especially obvious in "Kaboom and Kabust".
  • Subverted Suspicion Aesop:
    • The penguins are suspicious of a walrus named Rhonda who moves into Marlene's habitat. They think that the walrus a spy bent on stealing their invention, but Marlene thinks she will be nice once she gets to know her. Once Marlene is upset about Rhonda's messiness, they have her Put on a Bus. But, they realize that the bus is taking her to a polar bear reserve, and take the bus back and put her on a different one. It is then that they realize she has stolen the penguins' invention.
    • In the episode "Red Squirrel", the penguins meet Rockgut, an old penguin who has spent his life hunting the Red Squirrel, a notorious enemy from nearly fifty years ago. Initially, Private's the only one who realizes that he's "completely mental," but the other penguins realize that Private was right after Rockgut accuses Private and then Kowalski for being the Red Squirrel. So they send him on a Snipe Hunt to get rid of him, and Private says that he feels bad for Rockgut, because of how he's wasted so many years chasing after a threat that probably doesn't even exist anymore. In fact, the Red Squirrel does exist, and had been waiting for Rockgut to exit so that he could put his plans in motion.
  • Sugar Apocalypse: Almost literally, at the end of "It's About Time", Kowalski has managed to bury the world (or at least New York City) in shaved ice.
  • Superstition Episode: A sort of version. Rico gets a fortune saying he will meet a foul end. Skipper assures him that it's just a superstition. Julien, wanting Rico to believe the fortune, sets up a bunch of incidents to make Rico believe he's having bad luck.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Because Private's the youngest, he has the most common sense.
    Skipper: Rico! Hacksaw!
    Private: Skipper? How long will it take to saw through the bracelet?
    Skipper: Bracelet? I was just going to saw off my foot. But maybe you're on to something there, Private.
  • Sustained Misunderstanding: Often done with Fred the squirrel:
    Kowalksi: [shows picture of Marlene and King Juilen] You there. Have you seen this otter and lemur?
    Fred: Which one's the otter?
    Kowalski: This one, obviously. Note the whiskers?
    Fred: Oh, I thought that was a cat.
    Kowalski: Did I say "have you seen this lemur and cat"?
    Fred: No. That's why I thought it was odd that you drew a cat.
    Kowalski: It's not a cat.
    Fred: Then why does it have whiskers?
    Kowalski: You know what, forget the otter.
    Fred: Cat.
    Kowalski: Whatever! Have you seen the lemur?
    Fred: What's a lemur?
    Kowalski: I think we're done here.
  • Swallowed Whole:
  • Swapped Roles: In "King Julien for a Day", Skipper and King Julien swap roles. Interestingly, Julien manages to complete that episode's mission successfully (even if by accident) to Skipper's praise, but there's no praise for Skipper on the other side. And then they go back to being Friendly Enemy at the end of the episode.
  • Sweet Tooth: Private and Kowalski. Most of the cast likes to indulge, but those two particularly love their sweets. Kowalski loves candy so much he's horrified at the prospect of a visit to the dentist despite not having any teeth.
  • Tailfin Walking: Dr. Blowhole stands on his tailfins in an electric scooter.
  • The Talk: Maurice had to give it to Julien to explain that mammal babies don't come from eggs. Julien didn't believe him.
  • Talking Animal: Most of the cast—but they're unable to communicate with humans.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: In "Huffin and Puffin" Hans ties up the penguins and throws them into Julien's plastic volcano to buy him some time.
    Skipper: Hans, It's a fake volcano! There's no lava down here!
    Hans: Oh, I had no plans to fry you Skipper. I only need this phony baloney volcano to hold you for precisely 38.2 seconds, in which time, I will complete my- (The penguins have already escaped) Ahhhhh!
  • Tastes Like Purple: After recovering from an attack by a poisonous frog, Kowalski says, "I could taste sound, but that's over now."
  • Team Power Walk: Parodied in "Launchtime." The penguins are shown walking in what appears to be Slow Motion, until Skipper stops them and says that they'll never get to the moon at that rate.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: When Skipper thinks he's a girl in "Miss Understanding," he promptly dons a floppy pink bow.
  • Thank the Maker: At one point in the episode "Jiggles", where Kowalski creates a Blob Monster, he says "Thank the Maker, which in this case is me."
  • Third Law of Gender-Bending: A faulty DNA test has Skipper convinced he's a female. At first he thinks it won't interfere with his job, but then he does things like wait for the others to open the door for him and ask for directions. So he quits the team, puts on a piiiink bow and moves in with Marlene, who is not amused with his outdated ideas of femininity.
  • Third-Person Person: Joey the kangaroo almost always refers to himself in the third person. Leonard the koala lampshades this in "Kanga Management."
  • Time for Plan B:
    Julien: Okay, not working, let us move to Plan H.
    Maurice: Don't you mean Plan B?
    Julien: No, no, Plans B through G are much too ridiculously dangerous.
  • Time-Freeze Trolling Spree: In the episode "Time Out", Kowalski invents a watch-like device that can freeze time in place. Julien, thinking it's a stopwatch, decides to use it for his own and eventually sticks his gum in the device, causing it to malfunction temporarily. With Kowalski and Julien being the only two people not frozen, they decide to do whatever they want and have fun, bonding in the process.
  • Time Stands Still: In "Time Out" Kowalski invents a watch that stops time. Things get a little complicated when Julien accidentally breaks it, potentially trapping the two of them in frozen time forever.
  • Time Travel: "It's About Time" plays with this with a healthy helping of Temporal Paradox and Time Crash.
  • Title Drop: Sort of. In one scene in "Field Tripped," a school kid sees the penguins hiding in an exhibit on Madagascar. His teacher says that there never have been "penguins in Madagascar."
  • Toilet Humor:
    • Subverted in "Two Feet High and Rising." The episode opens with some farting noises, but it turns out it's actually a helium tank inflating balloons.
    • Played straight and subverted in "An Elephant Never Forgets." Early in the episode, Burt stinks up the zoo's restroom after eating a cabbage and broccoli burrito, but the result is never heard or seen. Later on, he pins down a human with his butt, but instead of gassing him, he just offers the human a kazoo that was lost several years ago.
    • Lampshaded in "In the Line of Doody," where Private calls the pigeon's fate "poo-etic justice." Skipper is not amused, even calling Private out on his toilet humor.
    • Literally in "The Big S.T.A.N.K." which is Kowalskis newest invention, which looks exactly like a giant toilet bowl.
  • Toilet Teleportation: When the penguins need to break Julien out of the vet office, and Julien suggets his personal escape route, pointing at the toilet. The penguins reluctantly get in the bowl, and that's when Julien shows them the real secret exit, a hidden door over the tank. "But, who am I to keep a penguin from water?", and flushes down the penguins before they get a chance to object.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • King Julien is the king of this.
    • Dode the Dodo from "Endangerous Species" is quite literally too dumb to live, requiring to be repeatedly cloned after killing himself in a myriad of idiotic ways.
  • Total Eclipse of the Plot
  • Totem Pole Trench: An elaborate one that can fit all four penguins with the occasional extras, using grabbing toys for arms, and a modified speak and spell to communicate with humans.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Fish for the penguins, especially for Rico.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Most of the ads for "The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr Blowhole" trumpted the fact that Alex the Lion would appear and help Skipper. While they didn't spoil the exact context, anyone who saw them could easily figure out Skipper's first two spirit guides wouldn't be sticking around long.
  • Treasure Map: Complete with hidden clues and booby traps.
    Skipper: A mysterious ancient map. It's classic.
  • The Trope Kid: The Amarillo Kid, introduced in "Mr. Tux".
  • True Companions:
    • The penguins, arguably. Sometimes it seems that Skipper just keeps the others in line by means of Mind Control and open violence.
    • Julien's little kingdom, just as arguably.
  • Truth Serums: What Private eats by accident in "Truth Ache."
  • Turn Your Head and Cough: Invoked in "Needle Point."
    Skipper: Just a routine visit to the doctor. Turn and cough, boys. Turn and cough.
  • Twitchy Eye:
    • Lampshaded in "Work Order"; Skipper's eyes keep twitching when he realizes how tenacious a worker is on repairing a water main close to their habitat. After a few twitches, he asks the other penguins if the twitching eye looks weird.
    • Private also has a tendency to do this (in a more subtle manner) when out of his comfort zone.
  • Two Roads Before You
    • In the episode The Hidden, Kowalski can't decide whom to save: Private, who owes him money or Marlene, who has vital information.
    • In the episode Brush with Danger, Kowalski can't decide between saving the world or putting it in the danger of destroying it with his new future invention.
  • Tyke-Bomb: Eggy is an unintentional one, Played for Laughs — Skipper and the boys hadn't realized how effective their in-egg training was until "Hard Boiled Eggy". Leads to Defusing The Tykebomb.
  • The Unintelligible: Rico, a great deal of the time, although as the show has progressed he has gradually became easier to understand.
  • Unobtanium: MacGuffium in "It's About Time."
  • Unsound Effect: In "Danger wears a Cape", Maurice is holding up signs with standard sound effects like "Blam!" and "Pow!" as Skipper beats up Julien (not yet this trope, although this already plays with the concept). When Julien has enough, Maurice holds up a sign of an old man, meaning "Retirement".
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: King Julien.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Skipper has loads of these. Hoover Dam! Lincoln's itchy beard! Gandhi's nunchucks!
  • Valley Girl: Marlene, at least sometimes.
  • Villain Song: Dr Blowhole gets a few in "The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr Blowhole". It's Neil Patrick Harris, we don't need to say how it is.
  • Voices Are Mental: Taken to its literal extreme, when Roger the sewer alligator's singing voice becomes a delayed plot point.
  • Walk Into Camera Obstruction:
    • "Operation: Plush and Cover" with Rico as he is about to tape up King Julien upside down
    • "Misfortune Cookie" near the end with a brown duck landing on Rico
    • "Antics on Ice" with Roy the Rhinoceros landing on Skipper
  • Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: When Rico's destructive habits get too out of control, the penguins decide to make a deal involving a jar of marbles. For every bad action Rico does they'll take one out, and add one for every good action. When the jar is full, they'll let him buy a bunch of accessories for his doll. Private objects to rewarding him just for not doing bad things, and Skipper responds "That's America, baby!"
  • Warts and All: Buck Rockgut, as introduced in "The Red Squirrel."
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Hans tries...waitaminnit..."Plasma Coil! (...) Neutrino Canon! (...) Pulse Blaster! (...) Electrobeam! Ion ray! Particle phaser! Fushion turrent! Lazer wave! Bombzooka! Smash atomizer! Zapomatic 9000! Big Bertha!" note  but to no avail since Skipper is protected by inflatium. Since Hans tries his luck sequentially, averts Beam Spam, but still makes a colorful effect.
  • Weaponized Landmark: A minor landmark, but in one episode, the Red Squirrel hides a missile inside Cleopatra's Needle at Central Park.
  • We Have Reserves: Doctor Blowhole says as much while trying to rally his Mooks to take on the penguins.
  • We Only Have One Chance: In "Wishful Thinking" when the Penguins are being taken away after their secret has been exposed, Skipper tells Private that he has only shot at making his wish that none of it ever happened.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back!: Occurs in "Eclipsed." King Julien is led to believe that the eclipse is caused by him being a jerk to everyone so he decides to be nice but he becomes very annoying trying to help everyone. An annoyed group of penguins and a made up "sign from the sky spirits" later he's back to normal.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • In The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper, there are camels and two elephants living in the zoo, camels are never shown in the show and Burt is the only elephant living in the zoo.
    • Before Savio was introduced, there was a different snake living in the zoo that's nowhere to be found in later episodes.
  • What Is This Feeling?: King Julien's first feeling of guilt, in "Assault and Batteries":
    Julien: But what is this feeling I am feeling? It is not a happiness. It is a feeling that I have not done all I should have done. I do not like it! How do I make it go away?
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Kowalski gets an interesting one after confessing to the others where he got the parts he needed for his mind reading machine. Nobody says anything, but their expressions—and the mind reader—make it clear.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Dr. Blowhole has the latest expensive technology, but where he got the money for them is never mentioned.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: Inverted. When Private wishes that he was on a TV-show, Skipper replied that a show about the exploits of penguins would be too awesome for viewers to see.
  • Wild West Armadillo: The Amarillo Kid is an armadillo with a Texan accent.
  • William Telling:
    • Kowalski wishes for a plasma blaster and then uses it to shoot an apple off Rico's head.
    • In "Time Out", Kowalski chases Julien through frozen time and passes by Mason and Phil doing this. Kowalski saves them from a fatal accident by grabbing the arrow so that he has something to throw at Julien.
  • Wily Walrus: Double subverted with Rhonda the walrus. She initially appears to be a Fat Slob and the source of much Toilet Humor. Her roommate, Marlene, is disgusted by her behavior. However, because Rhonda seems oblivious to how crude she's acting, Marlene and the other animals don't tell her, not wanting to hurt her feelings. Then, at the end of the episode, it is revealed that she was Obfuscating Stupidity all along, and she's actually a competent spy for Dr. Blowhole.
  • Wire Dilemma: In "Tagged", the penguins are interrupted while upgrading the zoo's heating system and must rely on the lemurs to finish the job for them before the furnace overloads and explodes. The lemurs open the control panel to reveal seven red knobs. Kowalski says that the knobs are red, crimson, scarlet, brick, cardinal, ruby and rose. They must only twist the scarlet knob but Maurice points out they are all the same shade of red. Mort appears to twist the right knob purely by luck but then the lemurs notice they connected the machine to the zoo's air conditioner instead of the furnace. They manage to save the zoo only by opening the main water valve which relieves the pressure on the furnace preventing the explosion.
  • With Lyrics: The main theme at one point.
  • World of Ham: Skipper and Julien are the two largest hams in the series, but yelling, exaggerated gestures and wild facial expressions pretty much run rampant.
  • World's Smallest Violin: Duet for gophers in "Showdown on Fairway 18".
  • The Worf Effect:
    • The sewer rats seem to exist mainly so the cast can have moments of awesome against them.
    • Joey is a major offender.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Though it wasn't his original intent, Private pulls this in "Love Hurts", getting Hospital Hottie Shawna to think the others caused his injuries.
  • The X of Y
  • Yandere: Mort for Julien.
  • You Already Changed the Past: See Stable Time Loop Above
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Hans and Skipper engage in this during their battle in "Huffin n' Puffin".
  • You Monster!: In "Arch-Enemy", a series of mishaps involving a snail causes the entire zoo to think that Private is a vicious brute. Julien asks Private why everyone is acting so strange, and he tells him that he stepped on a snail. Julien doesn't see the big deal, since accidents happen. Private then tells him that he accidentally sat on him too. Yeah okay, sometimes accidents happen twice. But when Private tells him that he stepped on him again, he yells "What is wrong with you?! You monster!"
  • You Say Tomato: Dr. Blowhole pronounces "penguins" as "pen-gyu-ins". Kowalski theorizes that he does it just "to tick us off". In Blowhole Strikes Back, Kowalski responds by calling Blowhole a "dolph-er-in".
  • You Won't Feel a Thing!:
    • Needle Point, with several Scream Discretion Shots.
    • In the episode "Roger Dodger":
      Roger: A mind-switching machine. Is this gonna hurt?
      Kowalski: Just a slight pinch, followed by the brief sensation of a thousand suns exploding in your skull.



Jiggles the Gelatinous Cube envelops King Julien

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / GelatinousEncasement

Media sources: