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"Let's sing a little song
With eight little words
'Bout a rocket ship
And flightless birds
Zidgel! Midgel! Fidgel! Kevin!
Three! Two! One! Penguins!"
3-2-1 Penguins! Theme Song

Produced by Big Idea Productions (the guys who made VeggieTales), 3-2-1 Penguins! stars twin siblings Michelle Frances Conrad (who is older by five minutes) and Jason T. Conrad. Both have been shipped off to stay with their very British "grandmum" for the summer, while their parents go...someplace else.

In the first episode (Trouble on Planet Wait-Your-Turn), Jason mopes around because he would much rather be at Space Camp, and as evening falls on their first day at the cottage, he is bored out of his skull after their television blows a fuse. Michelle, on the other hand, has found a set of porcelain penguins and is rather enjoying herself when Jason happens upon the hidden attic. Upon investigation, the twins find a bunch of old toys and games, as well as a large telescope. When Michelle hogs the telescope, Jason stuffs her penguins into a toy spaceship and accidentally drops them both. Rather than breaking, the ship bounces around before springing to life. The now living and sapient penguins "galeezel" Jason into the toy ship and whisk off into space to deal with a distress call.


In Episode 2 (The Cheating Scales of Bullamanka), it's Michelle's turn to take a ride with the Penguins, and from then on, one or both of the twins would join the Penguins as they traveled through the stars, helping various Amusing (and less-than-amusing) Aliens with whatever the universe decided to throw at them. Astonishingly, the solution to each location's problem usually hinges on something Grandmum tried to teach the kids earlier.

Since the show is targeted at a slightly older demographic than that of VeggieTales, there's a distinct lack of musical numbers in each episode (but not Big Idea's trademark humor). However, at the end of most episodes, the Penguins attend Amateur Night at the Comet Lounge where they sing a song related to the episode's moral lesson.

The series was initially a set of six direct-to-video episodes, released between 2000 and 2003, but after a four-year hiatus, the show was picked up by NBC's Qubo block and has since gained two additional seasons.


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3-2-1 Tropes!

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    Tropes A to M 
  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal:
    • The Lizard King wears nothing more than a hat, gloves, and a belt.
    • The only articles of clothing the Bandicoot King wears are a crown and a cape.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Oh, Mercy is adapted loosely from Jesus' parable of the unforgiving servant. One of things added to it is what happened after the first servant gets imprisoned a second time.
  • Aerith and Bob: The Penguins' names are Zidgel, Midgel, Fidgel... and Kevin.
  • Aesoptinum: In Compassion Crashin, the X-Five One Behavior Modifier can change one's attitude with great ease. Fidgel planned to use it to make himself, Jason, Zidgel, Midgel, and Kevin compassionate so that they could listen to Michelle when she was feeling sad. However, thanks to Kevin breaking the modifier, Jason and the penguins became the opposite of compassionate.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: Averted, judging how the penguins just bring Jason and/or Michelle aboard their ship so nonchalantly without any regard to whatever consequences come with abducting two children from a planet that hasn't developed faster-than-light space travel.
  • Alien Sky: The planets Wait-Your-Turn, Tell-a-Lie, Rigel 13, and Cross-Your-Heart have this. Lampshaded in Lazy Daze
    Midgel: Blue grass, green skies, and no ants.
    Michelle: Don't you mean green grass and blue skies?
  • Aliens Speaking English: Played straight with most of the aliens, averted with the light-bulb aliens in "Runaway Pride at Lightstation Kilowatt" who speak in R2-D2-ish gibberish and the ear-like lobes in Compassion Crashin who communicate with "Budda, budda, budda."
  • All Animals Are Domesticated: In The Doom Funnel Rescue, Jason finds a mouse and names him Preston. Preston still acts like a mouse, but doesn't seem to mind being handled at all. Later on, Michelle even dresses him up in a bridal gown.
  • All-CGI Cartoon: Everything is CGI.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: Averted, as all of the planets differ greatly from Earth.
  • Alphabetical Theme Naming: Zidgel, Midgel, and Fidgel. Kevin is the only penguin whose name doesn't end with "idgel".
  • Alternative Calendar: Implied in "Practical Hoax" when Fidgel said that Bert Bertman was part of the class of 2222. Judging from the model of the car that Jason and Michelle rode in on their way to Grandmum's cottage, the show takes place at the dawn of the 21st century at earliest.
  • Animal Species Accent:
    • Bert Bertman has a high-pitched voice due to him being a hamster.
    • The sheep from Planet Picket in The Green-Eyed Monster have the "baaa" in their accents.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The green-eyed monster from the episode of the same name represents envy.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In the Planet Tell-a-Lie music video, "The Legend of Galaxy Gus", there is a wanted poster with this on it: "Wanted, Honcho Villa, fer bank robbery, cattle rustlin', and not makin' his bed."
  • Artificial Gravity: Even though it's never explicitly stated whether the Rockhopper has it, the characters not floating around in it is evidence enough of its existence.
  • Aside Comment: In Give and Let Give Zidgel looks straight at the camera and asks if he mentioned that he was on a peaceful mission.
    • In Oh, Mercy, the Gator King asks the audience if he knows his Bible.
  • Asteroid Miners: The Lobes from Compassion Crashin' work in the baking soda mines of an asteroid belt.
  • Asteroid Thicket: The Rockhopper crew encounters one of these in Compassion Crashin'.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Grandmum and occasionally Sol quotes from the Good Book.
  • Ate the Spoon: In the theme song, Fidgel's spoon corrodes after it was used to stir a bright blue liquid.
  • Baddie Flattery: Cavitus compliments Jason in Hogs and Kisses in order to gain access to all of the money in the Pig-O Bank Cruiser.
  • Bald of Evil: The Lizard King, that is, before he is reformed.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: The Penguins and some other characters.
  • Bar Full of Aliens: The Comet Lounge serves as this, with its variety of recurring Humanoid Aliens and Starfish Aliens, as well as its bartender, Sol.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The giant ants in Lazy Daze.
  • Big "NO!": In Comedy of Errors, Michelle does this when Jason sings the song she sings when she's scared at the Comet Lounge.
    • In Wise Guys, Jason does this twice, and both times coupled with a Skyward Scream: the first when he discovers that the batteries are not included with the time machine, and another when he is told that he and his sister are stuck in the future forever.
    • In Oh, Mercy!, Zidgel, Jason and the Gator King yell this in slo-mo when the emerald falls out of its case and smashes into many pieces.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Zidgel, Midgel, and Fidgel have these.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Michelle yells "Hey!" at a Miso Guapo convention to get the audience to shut up in Invasion of the Body Swappers.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In Wiki Tiki, the tiki king says, "Mahalo nui" to Zidgel. Mahalo nui is Hawaiian for "thank you very much."
  • Binocular Shot: Occurs in The Doom Funnel Rescue when Fidgel is looking for a gas station in space.
  • Black Bead Eyes: The human characters as well as a few aliens have these.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs:
    • In Trouble on Planet Wait-Your-Turn, how the Penguins describe how hot it is on the planet.
      Fidgel: Like a sauna.
      Midgel: Like a barbecue.
      Zidgel: Like someone's barbecuing in a sauna.
    • In Moon Menace on Planet Tell-a-Lie, how Fidgel and Midgel describe the chain reaction that could be caused by Tell-a-Lie's moon slipping out of its orbit.
      Fidgel: A flood.
      Midgel: A fire.
      Fidgel: A flood on fire.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In The Cheating Scales of Bullamanka, after Fidgel says "ombudsmen", the episode pauses with a voiceover defining the word. Since Kevin is not affected by the paused screen, he uses a marker to scribble out "men" and replace it with "penguins".
    • In the same episode, the Penguins mention that it was the Lizard King who cheated in the show.
    • In Invasion of the Body Swappers, part of Zidgel's song lyrics are, "I make them swoon, even for a cartoon!"
    • In Git Along Little Doggies, while Fidgel was correcting Jason and Michelle's behavior, Kevin passes by in the background twice and waves at the viewers his second time around.
  • Brick Joke: President No-I'm-the-President's cameo in The Cheating Scales of Bullamanka and The Amazing Carnival of Complaining.
  • The Bridge: No spaceship is complete without this, not even the Rockhopper.
  • Bucket Booby-Trap: Jason successfully uses this to prank Michelle in Practical Hoax, much to Michelle's chagrin.
  • Butt Biter: In The Green-Eyed Monster, the titular monster delivers a bite to Midgel's rear end.
  • Call-Back: The Cheating Scales of Bullamanka features many call backs to Trouble on Planet Wait your Turn. One of them is Midgel trying out the new landing gear after hearing Jason's advice and echoing his statement, "No job's too hard when you use your head."
    • This one in particular gets Lampshaded:
      Michelle: Jason was right! You guys are real!
      Midgel: Either that or you're daydreaming.
      Kevin: Whoa! Deja vu!
      (guitar riff from The Twilight Zone plays)
    • In The Amazing Carnival of Complaining, the call backs to the first episode are Jason wanting to go to Space Camp and the Turbo 3000 being busted.
  • Captain's Log: In the direct-to-video episodes, Captain Zidgel does this at the end of the episode. In the T.V. version, he does so at the beginning of the episode.
  • Catch-Phrase: The Penguins all have one.
    • Zidgel: "Doctor Fidgel, Galeezel him/her."
    • Midgel: "BON-ZAAAAAAAAAAI!"
    • Fidgel: "Sensors indicate..."
    • Kevin: "Helloooooo!"
  • Chubby Grandma Skinny Grandpa: In photos from Trouble on Planet Wait-Your-Turn, the twins' grandfather looks tiny in comparison to their grandmother.
  • Comm Links: The communicators that the Rockhopper crew uses are actually referred to as comm links.
  • Continuity Nod: In The Doom Funnel Rescue, the crew gasps towards the horror music in a similar way in which they did when they found out what would happen to Planet Wait-Your-Turn.
    • In Oh, Mercy, Zidgel screams like a little girl just like how he did in Lazy Daze.
    • In Promises, Promises, the comic book Grandmum reads at the beginning shows pictures from previous episodes, like Lazy Daze, Give and Let Give, Wiki Tiki, Invasion of the Body Swappers, and Git Along Little Doggies.
  • Counting Sheep: Played for laughs in The Green-Eyed Monster with the sheep switching sides in the courtroom ending up putting Zidgel to sleep.
  • Courtroom Episode: 12 Angry Hens.
  • Cowboy Episode: Git Along, Little Doggies is basically a Space Western.
  • Crossword Puzzle: At the beginning of Lazy Daze, Zidgel tries to figure out a 12-down word that has seven letters, refers to a ship commander, and starts with C. His guess later on? Cabbage.
  • Cute Is Evil: Bert the Hamster inside the Cavitus Suit.
  • Day in the Life: Comedy of Errors focuses on the Rockhopper crew going to see a new comedy act at the Comet Lounge.
  • Descriptively-Named Species: The titular penguins look like...well, penguins.
  • Distress Call: Sometimes, these appear in the form of papers from FAX machines. Other times, they appear in the typical audio distress signal.
  • Distressed Dude: In Do Unto Brothers, Zidgel, Midgel, and Fidgel get captured by Cavitus.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Meta example. In an early version of the Big Idea website (by early, we mean in 2000), Fidgel's bio states that his favorite color is orange. In Runaway Pride at Lightstation Kilowatt, it's established that he's red-green colorblind, meaning that he can't see the color orange.
    • The penguins' ship, the Rockhopper, was not given a name until the T.V. series first aired.
  • Ensemble Cast: The show has six main characters, the kids and the penguins. Ron Smith even stated in one episode commentary that there isn't one main protagonist.
  • Every Episode Ending: Most of the episodes ended with the Rockhopper flying off into the night after Jason and Michelle finished praying.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: This T.V. show is about penguins, in space!
  • Evil Gloating: Baron von Cavitus has a habit of doing this often.
  • Excited Show Title!: And it's not just the show itself, these episodes get in on the action.
    • The Doom Funnel Rescue!
    • Moon Menace on Planet Tell-a-Lie!
    • I Scream, You Scream!
    • Invasion of the Body Swappers!
    • Git Along, Little Doggies!
    • Oh, Mercy!
  • Expospeak Gag: In Moon Menace on Planet Tell-a-Lie, Fidgel puts "every time the darts speak, their moon drops" into words like "postulating the definitive correlation between the rate of their verbal utterances and their planet's approximate lunar distance".
  • Expository Theme Tune: Downplayed, part of the theme song says " 'Bout a rocket ship and flightless birds", which gives the viewer a little idea of what the show is about.
  • The Face Less:
    • Grandmum’s face is never actually seen, she is always shown from the neck down.
    • Admiral Strap only interacts via speakerphone with the Penguins.
  • Facepalm: In More is More, Zidgel does this when Fidgel keeps saying "Yes, captain."
  • Fainting: Zidgel does this in The Green-Eyed Monster when he discovers just how big this grass-eating monster is.
  • False Teeth Tomfoolery: In Wise Guys, Future Zidgel's false teeth fall out to show that he hasn't actually retained his youth.
  • Fantastic Ship Prefix: The Penguins' ship, the Rockhopper, uses U.F.P.S (United Federation Penguin Starship).
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: The Rockhopper can travel to distant planets in only a few hours.
  • The Federation: Who the Penguins work for. The Federation League of Planets, to be exact.
  • Five-Man Band
  • Fountain of Youth: In Wise Guys, the time machine causes Kevin to revert to a younger penguin and eventually an egg. He reverts back to his regular age in the end.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Most of the characters have either three or four fingers on each hand, including the human characters. Jason even lampshaded this in Trouble on Planet Wait-Your-Turn when he holds up all his fingers on one hand and a finger on his other hand to indicate "5".
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble:
    • Zidgel: The Optimist.
    • Midgel: The Cynic.
    • Fidgel: The Realist.
    • Kevin: The Apathetic.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Zidgel: Sanguine.
    • Midgel: Choleric.
    • Fidgel: Melancholic.
    • Kevin: Phlegmatic.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: In Invasion of the Body Swappers, Zidgel and Kevin switch bodies.
  • Free-Range Children: Averted, Jason and Michelle do have adult supervision when going on their space adventures, namely the Penguins.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Fidgel galeezels Jason and Michelle in Comedy of Errors, he can be seen briefly with his eyebrows and his glasses missing.
  • Freudian Excuse: Cavitus is mean because of how he was treated at The Academy.
  • Frictionless Reentry: Every time the Rockhopper lands on a planet, it is never on fire.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "B, I, N, G. Beneficial Imprinting Neuromatic Gizmo." "BING!"
  • Future Me Scares Me: In Wise Guys, future Zidgel scares Zidgel due to him being fat, bald, and toothless.
  • Future Spandex: The Penguins' jumpsuits. Enforced, in that the low-budget computer animation wouldn't be able to depict looser clothing.
  • Generican Empire: The Federation League of Planets.
  • Get Back to the Future: Inverted in Wise Guys, where Jason, Michelle, and the Penguins end up in the future and try to find a way to travel back to their own time.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In the commentary for The Amazing Carnival of Complaining, when Uncle Blobb escapes in an outhouse rocket, Midgel says that you can tell a lot about a man by the car he drives. Considering what an outhouse is used for, and who Uncle Blobb is, one just needs to put two and two together in order to know what that comment meant. If you don't get it, he's saying that Uncle Blobb is full of shit.
  • Gluttonous Pig: Planet Gutt's inhabitants are a bunch of gluttonous one-eyed pigs.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: An episode is actually titled The Green-Eyed Monster, and it involves a planet where a pack of sheep is jealous at another because of their pastures.
  • Group Hug: In Comedy of Errors, when Jason finished his third comedy act, Michelle and the penguins gather around him for a congratulatory hug.
  • Growling Gut: This happens to Kevin in More is More.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Jason and Michelle.
  • High Collar of Doom: Baron von Cavitus' robot suit possesses a high red collar.
  • Huddle Shot: Occurs in The Cheating Scales of Bullamanka when Michelle and the Penguins are discussing whether or not Michelle should play the LARP version of Squid-Tac-Toad.
    • In Moon Menace on Planet Tell-a-Lie, Jason and the Penguins gather around to discuss how they should find the palace tower.
    • In Oh, Mercy, Jason and the Penguins form a huddle to discuss how they should break Zidgel out of prison.
  • Human Aliens: The garden gnomes from Planet Sharalike are the closest to these due to the show's low budget.
  • Humanlike Animal Aging: The aging process is zig-zagged with Zidgel's, Midgel's, and Fidgel's future selves from Wise Guys. They have gray hair (In Future Zidgel's case, he's gone bald), but lack wrinkles. Instead, their feathers are grayer.
  • Humanoid Aliens: Thanks to the show's low budget animation, plenty of these appear in order to make up for the lack of Human Aliens and Rubber-Forehead Aliens.
    • The aliens appearing include:
      • The Penguins
      • Lizard Folks Lizard King and Wild Bill Quasar
      • Green one-eyed pigs with either blue or purple skin depending on their gender
      • Aliens wearing tiki masks
      • Pig-like aliens
      • Gator-like aliens
      • Sock monkeys with Scottish accents
  • I Come in Peace: Zidgel says "We come in peace" to Cavitus' minions in Between an Asteroid and a Hard Place, to which the first minion responds with, "Uh, piece of what, exactly?"
  • Impossible Pickle Jar: In Kennel Club Blues, Zidgel tries—and fails—to open a jar that Kevin ends up stuck in. When Michelle succeeds in opening it, he says, "I must have loosened it up for you."
  • Imprinting: In 12 Angry Hens when the chicken prince hatches, he imprints on Cavitus, thinking he's his mother.
  • In-Character Commentaries: Trouble on Planet Wait-Your-Turn, The Cheating Scales of Bullamanka, and The Amazing Carnival of Complaining have commentaries by Ron Smith, Zidgel, Midgel, Fidgel, and Kevin.
  • Informed Species: The Bandicoot King looks less like a bandicoot and more like a cross between a dog and a kangaroo.
    • Downplayed with Zidgel. He is said to be a rockhopper penguin, but he doesn't have the same hair color as Fidgel, another crested penguin.
  • Insane Admiral: Averted with Admiral Strap, who is portrayed as a reasonable authority figure.
    • Downplayed, however, in More is More, when Admiral Strap just tells Zidgel to go on a mission without allowing him to tell him that they caught Cavitus.
  • Intelligent Gerbil: The sheep from Planet Picket, the chickens from Planet Henpecked-A-Lot, and the cow captain from In the Big House.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Jason and Michelle, two seven-year-old kids, are friends with Zidgel, Midgel, Fidgel, and Kevin, who are all adults.
  • Interspecies Friendship: Jason and Michelle, two humans, are friends with Zidgel, Midgel, Fidgel, and Kevin, four alien penguins.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: From Give and Let Give:
    Flam Mingo: You pot bellied hooligans have threatened to attack us and go back on the deal!
    Jeff: Who you calling a hooligan, bird legs?
  • It Runs on Nonsensoleum: A lot of stuff.
    • The Cutting-In-Line bug moved Planet Wait-Your-Turn in front of the other planets in its solar system.
    • Lying causes the moon of Planet Tell-A-Lie to move closer.
  • Jesus Taboo: Averted, as the Bible is mentioned, albeit nicknamed "The Good Book".
  • Kids Shouldn't Watch Horror Films: In the beginning of Comedy of Errors, Michelle watches a cheesy horror T.V. show and ends up frighted by it and sings a little song to herself in order to calm down.
  • "Knock Knock" Joke: Zidgel tries to tell this to Kevin in Runaway Pride at Lightstation Kilowatt, but Kevin just didn't get it.
  • Land Downunder: Space Base Bullamanka, location of the Colossal Aussie Colosseum and where the Lizard and Bandicoot Kings live.
  • Laugh with Me!: Inverted in Kennel Club Blues when Cavitus tells his minions only he does the evil laughter when he does it.
  • Laughing at Your Own Jokes: In The Green-Eyed Monster, Zidgel laughs at his "Nice to meet ewe" pun and explains it.
    • He does this again in Git Along, Little Doggies after he says how that cow can really mooooooove.
    • He does this for a third time in Wise Guys after he remarks that he thought his crew had a heavy duty mission when it seemed rather light to him. (Light as in their next mission involves light bulbs)
  • Lean and Mean: The Lizard King.
  • Lizard Folk: The Lizard King and Wild Bill Quasar.
  • Look Behind You: In Oh, Mercy!, Zidgel says, "Hey look, it's Elvis!" in an attempt to distract the Gator king and his guards from arresting him.
    • Baron von Cavitus uses the same excuse above in In the Big House to distract Zidgel long enough for him to gain the upper hand.
  • Maybe High Tech, Maybe Mundane: It's never really specified if the kids' adventures are just daydreams or are actually happening. Both are hinted at.
  • Mister Big: Baron von Cavitus is a hamster named Bert Bertman, but he wears a robot suit to disguise it.
  • Mobile-Suit Human: The recurring villain in the T.V. version Baron von Cavitus is actually a hamster in a mechanical suit named Bert Bertman.
  • Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: For starters, the Penguins' spaceship takes only a few hours to travel from planet to planet.
  • Morality Ballad: The songs the Penguins sing at the Comet Lounge.
  • The Moral Substitute: This show serves as a Christian Moral Substitute to Science Fiction cartoons.
  • Motor Mouth: The Lizard King, although this trait disappears in his second appearance in which he speaks.

    Tropes N to Z 
  • Named After Their Planet: Planet Tell-a-Lie has its Tell-a-Liars.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: The Doom Funnels of Space Colony Double-Wide.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted twice.
    • In Trouble on Planet Wait-Your-Turn, when Jason accidentally pulls down the stairs to the attic and nearly hits Michelle, she tells him, "You almost killed me!"
    • In The Doom Funnel Rescue Zidgel exclaims that they're all gonna die.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: Kevin manages to gulp down a whole chocolate cupcake Michelle baked in Give and Let Give without suffering any ill effects.
  • No Ending: The show never ended with either Cavitus being caught, or the kids leaving their Grandmum's place for the summer.
  • No Focus on Humans: The show focuses mainly on the eponymous penguins and the various aliens whom they assist. The only important humans that appear are Jason, Michelle, and Grandmum.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: None of the main characters have any onscreen romantic relationships.
  • No Seat Belts: Averted, the Rockhopper crew always buckles up for landing.
  • Not Himself: Jason and the Penguins start acting like jerks to one another and Michelle when the Behavior Modifier is used on them in Compassion Crashin.
  • Not Their Birthday: Compassion Crashin starts off with the penguins throwing a surprise birthday party for Jason and Michelle, only for Michelle to point out that their birthday was two months ago.
  • Numbered Homeworld: Rigel 13.
  • Odd Name Out: Zidgel, Midgel, Fidgel, "keh-VEEN".
  • One-Gender Race: The Lobes are all female.
  • Only One Name: None of the Penguins' last names or even middle names, save for Zidgel's middle name, are ever revealed.
  • Orphaned Punchline: In Comedy of Errors Ventrilomatic malfunctions before he can deliver the setup to this punchline. "Two, one to eat the peanut butter, and the other to hold the cabbage!"
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: In Do Unto Brothers, a jelly wormhole makes its only appearance. It is transparent, jelly worm-like aliens use them to travel from place to place, and spaceships that enter them have been known to disappear without a trace.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: In Practical Hoax, Cavitus' and his minions' disguises consist only of Groucho Marx glasses.
  • Pain-Powered Leap: In Practical Hoax, Midgel lets out a yelp of pain and leaps into the air the minute he fell for the old thumbtack on the chair prank.
  • Penguins Can Breath In Space: Most of the characters, including the human kids.
  • Picnic Episode: Lazy Daze, ants ruining it included. And the ants are giant.
  • Pie in the Face: Fidgel receives one of these when he opens his laptop thanks to Jason and Midgel in ''Practical Hoax".
  • Planet of Hats: Subverted with the inhabitants of Planets Wait-Your-Turn, Tell-a-Lie, and Gut, as their hats were put on by outside forces. I.E. a cutting-in-line bug caused the Wait-Your-Turners' hat to be impatience, the king pressing the button that caused Tell-a-Lie's moon to fall and him telling the Tell-a-Liars to constantly lie caused the Tell-a-Liars' hat to be dishonesty, and cereal caused the one-eyed pigs' hat to be gluttony.
    • Averted with the penguins themselves, one of the only things they have in common is that they're on one ship.
  • Prompting Nudge: In Lazy Daze, Midgel nudges Zidgel in the chest roughly in order to get him to apologize for being lazy.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The music played in the action scenes from The Amazing Carnival of Complaining gets played again in the Give and Let Give action scenes.
    • The music played during Jason's speech in The Amazing Carnival of Complaining gets played in More is More and Promises Promises.
  • Reverse Telescopic Vision: This happens in The Doom Funnel Rescue to Captain Zidgel, when Fidgel tries warning the rest of the crew about a highly combustible gas tank at the gas station. Zidgel looks through the wrong end of Fidgel's binoculars and thinks that the tank is miles away, until Fidgel turns them around to which Zidgel then starts freaking out about it.
  • Revisiting the Roots: 12 Angry Hens, Kennel Club Blues, Oh, Mercy, and Promises, Promises had only one of the twins going on the mission like they did in the direct-to-video episodes instead of both of them.
  • Running Gag: Increasingly bizarre forms of landing gear.
    • "BANZAI!!!"
    • "Either that or you're daydreaming."
    • The Galeezel's exaggerated kick-back
    • "*gasp!*" "*Gasp!*" "*Gasp!*"
    • President No-I'm-the-President (the vacuum that got flung into space when the planet abruptly stopped in the first episode) flying by the ship during spaceflight segments Once an Episode.
  • Scary Flashlight Face: In Wise Guys, Kevin does this when Jason starts the time machine and the lights go out.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: In Lazy Daze, Captain Zidgel screams a scream identical to Michelle's scream when giant ants ruin a picnic.
    • He does this again in Oh, Mercy! when Cavitus attempts to fire a marshmallow blast at him.
  • Security Cling: In Compassion Crashin, Zidgel and Midgel grab onto each other when they accidentally break off the steering wheel.
  • Shout-Out: See here.
  • Shrink Ray: The galeezel, which is used to bring the kids aboard the toy-sized Rockhopper.
  • Singing in the Shower: In I Scream, You Scream, Zidgel sings a little song in the ship's shower about how it's great being a man, er, penguin.
  • Single-Biome Planet: The biomes shown on the planets include all-desert, all-pasture, and all-purple ground.
  • Space Cadet: Jason and Michelle Conrad.
  • Space Cadet Academy: The Federation Academy is implied to be this.
  • Space Friction: Whenever the Rockhopper's engines stop, so does the Rockhopper.
  • Space Whale Aesop:
    • In Trouble on Planet Wait-Your-Turn.
      Jason: Having to go first all the time only leads to trouble! Like getting burned up by the sun! Now, the consequences are not always so extreme, but good things come to those who wait.
    • If you ever complain, you'll literally turn into a seed of discontent and be used to depopulate a planet.
    • Remember, kids, it's wrong to lie. Because if you do, the moon will flatten you and your planet.
    • Don't ever feel envious, or else green eyed monsters will appear and start eating all of your shit.
    • You need to know when to say "enough", so that a giant space funnel won't threaten to consume your planet.
  • Spit Take: In Comedy of Errors, Midgel spits out his drink when Jason reveals his embarrassing secret just to make people laugh.
  • Starfish Aliens: Some of the aliens encountered include sapient vacuum cleaners, pumpkin-headed children, light bulbs with arms and legs who communicate with clicking and beeping sounds, darts who constantly lie, spring necked lawn flamingos, and ear lobes with arms and legs whose vocabulary consists of one word.
  • Starfish Language: The light bulb aliens from Runaway Pride at Lightstation Kilowatt communicate through beeping and clicking sounds. Kevin was able to understand and translate their language.
    • The Lobes' (basically walking and talking human ears) language from Compassion Crashin consists entirely of the word "Budda".
  • Streaming Stars: Averted most of the time. Played straight in The Doom Funnel Rescue when B.I.N.G. presses a button that cause the Rockhopper to travel at a speed of Warp 10.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: The Doom Funnel Rescue has a stinger of the penguins performing at a cafe, illustrating a song about space trucker Big Midge, who's in a race with another, cheating trucker. He sees several people in trouble of various kinds, but doesn't stop because he's in a hurry. At one point he turns on the radio, which is playing a song about helping others that gets more pertinent to his situation with every chorus.
  • Swivel-Chair Antics: Zidgel tends to spin around in his captain's swivel-chair. He even tries to spin around in it as many times as he can in one minute in Between an Asteroid and a Hard Place.
  • Take Me to Your Leader: Zidgel says this in Compassion Crashin to briefly trick the other crew members into thinking he's under the mind control of the x-five one behavior modifier.
  • Theme Naming: The Penguins, except for Kevin.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Averted with Jason and Michelle, as their names don't have a lot in common with one another.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: In Practical Hoax, Zidgel hums the theme song when doing his hair.
  • Theme Tune Roll Call: Half the theme song lists the names of the penguins.
  • Thumbtack on the Chair: In Practical Hoax, Baron von Cavitus' first minion places a Tell-a-Liar (a dart-like alien) on Midgel's chair.
  • Time Machine: In Wise Guys, Jason finds a time machine in pieces in the storage bay of the Rockhopper. This particular time machine was owned by Fidgel when he was little.
  • Time-Travel Episode: Wise Guys.
  • Token Human: Jason, Michelle, and Grandmum are the only humans seen in the entire series.
  • Toothy Penguin: All the penguins are shown to have teeth. Justified in that they are alien penguins, after all.
  • Top-Heavy Guy: Zidgel's and Midgel's upper bodies are longer than their legs. Justified in that they are penguins.
  • Tractor Beam: Baron von Cavitus uses this.
  • True Beauty Is on the Inside: The aesop of Invasion of the Body Swappers. Michelle is feeling bummed out because she doesn't think she looks pretty. Grandmum tells her that it's what's on the inside that matters the most.
  • Unnamed Parent: Jason and Michelle's parents are never referred to by their first names.
  • Vague Age: It's never explicitly stated or even implied how old the Penguins are. Since they're penguins, their ages can't be determined by their appearances alone. If their ages are determined by their voices and how long it's been since Bert Bertman graduated from the Federation Academy, their ages would be from late twenties to early thirties.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: A male version is implied in Invasion of the Body Swappers when Kevin-In-Zidgel's-Body talks about the time he lost his wallet between his pectorals.
  • Visual Pun: Midgel holds a picture of ham when Zidgel sings his second solo in "Fair and Square". Ergo, he's saying that Zidgel is a Large Ham.
    • In 12 Angry Hens, Midgel stops the ship due a fork in the road. Technically speaking, it's a fork floating in outer space, but it still applies.
  • Voices Are Mental: In Invasion of the Body Swappers, Zidgel's and Kevin's voices don't switch when they switch bodies.
  • Weird Moon: Tell-a-Lie's moon is controlled by the planet itself instead of its own. When it is on its own, it'll crashed down if anyone lies.
  • We Will Not Have Pockets in the Future: Fidgel's uniform is the only uniform that has pockets of any form. (Midgel's uniform doesn't have pockets, he carries two pouches on his belt.)
  • Widely Spaced Jail Bars: In Give and Let Give, the cage Jason and Michelle are in has bars far apart for them to just escape if they tried.
    • Zig-zagged in Do Unto Brothers. The bars are narrow enough to prevent the penguins from escaping, but not the kids. As Michelle puts it.
      Michelle: This cell was built to hold penguins, not kids.
  • Whoopee Cushion: Jason and Midgel use one of these to prank Michelle in Practical Hoax.
  • You Know What to Do: Bert tells this to his gnat-bot in I Scream, You Scream when he plans to distract the Rockhopper crew from stopping his dastardly plan to steal an ice cream truck.
  • Zeerust: Used intentionally in designs such as the penguins' uniforms, the exterior and interior of the Rockhopper, and the communication devices, which all take a cue from how the 1960s (and a little of the 1950s) viewed the future.


Example of: