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Western Animation / Shrek

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"Once upon a time, there was a lovely princess.
But she had an enchantment upon her of a fearful sort, which could only be broken by love's first kiss.
She was locked away in a castle, guarded by a terrible fire-breathing dragon.
Many brave knights had attempted to free her from this dreadful prison, but none prevailed.
She waited in the dragon's keep in the highest room of the tallest tower, for her true love... and true love's first kiss."

[tearing out page, chuckling] Yeah, like that's ever gonna happen! What a load of (FLUSH!)
Shrek, opening lines

Shrek is a 2001 DreamWorks Animation CGI film very loosely based on the 1990 William Steig book of the same name. It was directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson, with a script by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman and Roger S. H. Schulman. The film features Shrek (Mike Myers), a grumpy ogre living happily alone in his swamp, where he regularly frightens off villagers and lives the lazily luxurious life of an ogre. However, his perfect world is rocked when his loving home is invaded by fairy tale creatures simply seeking refuge after being cast into exile by the cruel-hearted Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow). When Shrek confronts Farquaad, he agrees to let the ogre live in peace if he can rescue the Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) from a dragon guarded castle so that Farquaad can marry her and become a true king. With the aid of his new and obnoxiously garrulous self-proclaimed best friend, a talking Donkey named Donkey (Eddie Murphy), Shrek sets off on his quest to restore balance to the delicate fairy tale world he's living in.


Notorious for its modern twist on the Fairy Tale genre, Shrek was a smashing success at the time of its release. The film became the first installment of the Shrek tetralogy, receiving three theatrical sequels. It ushered in a new era of computer animated films to DreamWorks Animation, and the titular Shrek became the company's unofficial mascot.

Shrek also was the winner of the first ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. And it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry, making it the first and thus far only animated feature not from Disney and Pixar in the registry. As it was from 2001, it also became the first piece of animation from the 21st century to have that honor as well.



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  • Accidental Hero: Donkey ends up saving the movie by charming a dragon. He realizes that the dragon about to eat him is a lady, and most castle visitors aren't nice to her. Flattered, Dragon changes course and cuddles with him instead, crying out in pain and sadness when he makes his getaway. Later, they reconcile when encountering each other by a river, and Donkey grows to like her as a romantic partner despite his initial reluctance. Donkey convinces her to help Shrek reconcile with Fiona, and she delivers the coup de grace to Farquaad when he overpowers Shrek and Fiona.
  • Accidental Truth: See Altar Diplomacy below. When Shrek has to come up with a reason as to why Fiona can't marry Farquaad when Fiona asks him during the ceremony, Shrek blurts out that Farquaad is only marrying her so he can be king. As it turns out, he's rightnote .
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Downplayed. Shrek is by no means handsome in the film, but he's certainly not as gruesome looking as he was in the William Steig book.
    • Fiona is a more interesting example. In the book, the princess is a hideous, pointy-nosed ogre. Here, she's a beautiful human being who's cursed to become an ugly ogre every night. Regardless, her ogre form is still more attractive than her book counterpart.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Believe it or not, Shrek actually has the ability to breathe fire, swallow lightning, and shoot Eye Beams in the original book. In the film, none of these powers are present.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Adapted from a children's book approximately 500 words long; almost nothing in the movie other than the characters of Shrek, Donkey, an ogre princess and a dragon actually came from the book.
  • Affably Evil: Dragon when she meets Donkey.
  • Agony of the Feet: On the way to the castle, during the Travel Montage, Shrek hurts his foot trying to stamp out what's left of the campfire, forcing Donkey to put it out by urinating on it.
  • Air Quotes: Fiona asks Shrek and Donkey about Lord Farquaad; after the two crack some jokes about Farquaad's short stature, Fiona tells them that they are just jealous because they cannot measure up to a great ruler like Farquaad. Shrek responds to this while doing the air quotes that she may do the "measuring" when she meets him tomorrow.
  • All-Natural Fire Extinguisher: It's easy to miss, but when Shrek's shoe is set alight thanks to a campfire, Donkey puts it out by peeing on it.
  • Almost Kiss:
    • Farquaad is about to kiss Fiona when Shrek barges in and yells, "I OBJECT!"
    • Shrek and Fiona have two. The first time, it's interrupted by a Moment Killer and Mood Whiplash courtesy of Donkey. The second, Shrek Breaks the Fourth Wall by covering the camera with his hand, so we don't see the kiss.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Lord Farquaad wants to marry Fiona purely so he can become king.
  • Amazon Chaser: After watching her beat up Robin Hood and his Merry Men, Shrek starts to fall in love with Fiona.
  • Analogy Backfire: The "ogres are like onions" discussion. Shrek is trying to say that, though ogres are smelly and generally considered repellent, they have Hidden Depths. Donkey completely misses the point about the repellent part and starts suggesting popular desserts such as cake and parfait that everyone loves that also has layers, infuriating Shrek, as he was also trying to imply to Donkey that not everybody liking onions is another thing they have in common with Ogres.
  • Anachronism Stew: A big source of the film's humor. While the medieval fairy tale setting is generally consistent with how low tech it is, there are pop culture anomalies inserted that fly in the face of it for laughs. These include the Magic Mirror hosting a Dating Show (and Farquaad later using him like a TV with a VCR), Disney World-style parking lots and loudspeakers at Duloc, Shrek making offhand comments like "Hold the phone!", Shrek's outhouse having modern plumbing, and Fiona being skilled in Eastern Martial Arts, right down to performing a parody of The Matrix, and the use of a modern drumset and microphone in the Dance Party Ending. The heavy use of popular music in the soundtrack also gave the film a very contemporary feel (for the early 2000s, at least).
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Farquaad's death is met by the people of Duloc with roaring approval and relief that they are finally freed from their tyrannical ruler. They then watch Shrek confess his love to Fiona and go "awww" when they kiss, at the imploring of the executioner, no less. Some are later seen at Fiona's wedding to Shrek (it's even the same minister as was preparing to marry her to Farquaad).
  • Animal Lover: Princess Fiona seems to like birds and donkeys. She's afraid of dragons, but that's understandable since she was locked in the keep of a dragon since childhood.
  • Anti-Hero: At the start, Shrek is by no means a paragon of virtue. He's selfish, antisocial and an all around cynical person who only goes to rescue Fiona so he can continue living alone in his swampbut the fact that he's a social outcast to begin with due to normal people judging him by his appearance sure gives him plenty of reasons to. It takes his love of Fiona and Donkey's friendship to bring out the best in him.
  • An Aesop:
    • Don't judge people before you get to know them, and true beauty is on the inside.
    • Happily Ever After isn't always what you think it will be, and that's OK.
    • Real love is blind and the right people will love you no matter what.
  • Apology Gift: Fiona makes breakfast for Donkey and Shrek as an apology for being an Ungrateful Bastard the day before. She tells Shrek that she made a bad first impression and that he deserves a thank-you for rescuing her.
  • Arc Words:
    • Really really!
    • Also, "perfect", or some variant. Said almost every time by Farquaad regarding himself or Duloc.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Given the source, one of the lines from one of the Three Little Pigs about Lord Farquaad.
    Pig: He huffed, und he puffed, und he... signed an eviction notice.
  • Ascended Meme: A fanon interpretation of Donkey is that waffles are his favorite food. In the Swamp Talk videos on the DreamWorks TV YouTube channel, he does say stuff that allude to that being canon. Not to mention, in Universal Studios Hollywood, he has a Waffle Wagon.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: Duloc.
  • Award-Bait Song: Played straight, though somewhat out of place in a movie that took the mickey out of tropes popularized by the Disney Animated Canon, with It Is You (I Have Loved) by Dana Glover, the only non-instrumental song on the soundtrack written specifically for the movie.
  • Bad Boss: Farquaad has a moment of this during the climax, as he calls his guards morons at one point. He also shows a blatant disregard to the knights volunteering to go rescue Fiona for him, saying some might die trying but "it's a sacrifice [he's] willing to make."
  • Beast and Beauty: Shrek and Fiona, though it's subverted when Fiona becomes an ogre full-time.
  • Beautiful Singing Voice: In a rather vicious parody of Disney Princess conventions, Princess Fiona displays one in a duet with a random least until her ability to hold a note causes the bird to explode. She then takes its orphaned eggs and cooks them for breakfast.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me:
    • Donkey becomes obsessed with breaking through Shrek's cold exterior and befriending him after the ogre stops Farquaad's knights from capturing him. He succeeds.
    • Dragon becomes smitten with Donkey because he's the only castle visitor that has showered her with compliments. Later, he starts returning her feelings.
  • Becoming the Mask: Shrek simply intended to rescue Fiona and deliver her to Farquaad to get back his home, never wanting to have a romantic relationship. He ends up falling in love with her anyways.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Dragon and Donkey save Shrek and Fiona from being captured by Farquaad's guards upon hearing Shrek whistle, Dragon even eating Farquaad for good measure.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Shrek and Fiona have two. The first breaks Fiona's enchantment after Farquaad is killed by the dragon. The second is during their wedding in the final scene. After Shrek's Break the Fourth Wall moment, we cut to them at their own wedding during the kiss.
  • Big "NO!": Shrek, a couple of times when he's angered by Donkey, such as twice during the "Ogres are like onions" scene. He also does one after three Little Nos when he sees the crowd of fairy tale creatures in his swamp.
  • Big Shadow, Little Creature: The shadows of the Three Blind Mice when Shrek first sees them on his table (and first sees that they're there) make them appear much bigger than they actually are.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Donkey has enough of Shrek putting him down and gives him one of these in the middle of a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
    Donkey: Well, guess what? Now, it's MY turn, so you just shut up and pay attention!
  • Big Word Shout:
    Shrek: At least we know where the Princess is, but where's the...
    Donkey: DRAGON!
    • Another one occurs during the castle escape sequence, where Shrek uses a sword to pin the dragon's chain, runs around the corner in slo-mo and yells "RUN!" (with an echo accompanying it) to Donkey and Fiona.
    • Shrek has another one at the end when he interrupts the wedding: "I OBJECT!"
  • Black-and-White Morality: While Shrek is in a gray area at the start, the film unambiguously paints Farquaad's treatment of the fairy tale characters as being in the wrong, and Shrek eventually comes around to being the hero in the end.
  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: During their Falling-in-Love Montage, Shrek and Fiona catch a frog and a snake, and inflate them with their breath to turn them into floating balloons.
  • Blatant Lies: Shrek heads away from the mill after Fiona goes inside, and when Donkey asks where he's going, he replies, "To get... more firewood." Donkey knows he's lying because there's still a huge stack of firewood next to the fire.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Played straight during the tournament with all the injuries the knights sustain, possibly justified since they're all wearing armor. Averted in the arrow scene, as Donkey believes he's seeing blood on the arrow after Fiona rips it out of Shrek's butt, causing him to faint.
  • Blunt "Yes": Fiona has this response after Shrek reveals his face to her.
    Shrek: Oh, you were expecting Prince Charming?
    Fiona: Well, yes, actually...
  • Bookends: Done with actual books. The storybook opening kicks off the film, and finishes with the last page of another book (the first book does not have the title on it like the second one does) before it closes, seconds before cutting to the credits.
  • Boomerang Bigot: In the DVD Commentary, the creators noted this for Farquaad. He hates fairy tale creatures for being different, not realizing that his height (or lack thereof) qualifies him as a "freak" by his own standards. Shrek: The Musical makes it even more explicit: he's half dwarf.
  • Bowdlerize:
    • When the movie is shown on the Disney Channel, the line about Snow White not being easy is taken out, as are all of the "ass" puns. However, Shrek still calls Donkey a stubborn jackass.
    • When the movie is shown on Cartoon Network, any line featuring the words "damn" or "ass" were either cut, re-dubbed to remove the words or just muted entirely (which made it obvious to the most naive viewer that something was edited). In 2017, Cartoon Network started airing a version with these words intact.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: A brief moment of this happens at the end. Shrek goes in to kiss Fiona after the curse is broken, but stops, notices the camera, and covers it with his hand.
  • Briar Patching: Shrek grabs Dragon by the tail, and she angrily flicks him away and sends him flying into Fiona's tower, where he wanted to go in the first place.
  • Broken Aesop: Appearances don't matter — unless you're really short, like Lord Farquaad. Then it's perfectly acceptable to make fun of your appearance.
  • Brutal Honesty: Donkey references the trope soon after he and Shrek first meet, after Shrek says it's no wonder he doesn't have any friends. Donkey says only a true friend would be that cruelly honest.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Shrek shows how powerful he is many times, yet guards and knights and angry mobs still attempt to murder him.
  • Burp of Finality: Combined with Spit Out a Shoe (crown) after the Dragon eats Lord Farquaad alive, she burps up his crown.
  • Cake Toppers: This film provides the trope image. Fiona looks at her wedding cake with figurines of herself and Farquaad on the top, and she pushes his figurine down into the cake to more accurately show his height (originally the two figurines were the same height). Gingy is later seen at the end of the movie attempting to completely jam Farquaad's figurine into the cake by hitting it with his cane.
  • Canon Foreigner: Shrek, Donkey, Dragon, and Fionanote  are the only characters who appeared in the original book. Lord Farquaad and the numerous fairy tale creatures were introduced specifically for the film.
  • Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them: Shrek has this happen after he rescues Fiona, when he believes she can't care for him because he's an ogre. He receives the deed to his swamp and returns to it, but feels very empty inside. Eventually, Donkey makes him realize he does love Fiona. Cue a rush to beat her Wedding Deadline to Lord Farquaad.
  • Cardboard Prison: Invoked; Fiona explains to Donkey that with her martial arts skills she could have escaped the tower and Dragon at any time. In fact, she does that in the fourth movie's Alternate Timeline when Shrek never appears to rescue her. The problem is that it wouldn't solve her actual problem, that she is cursed to become an ogress at night. Only True Love's Kiss can do that, and those tend to come from princes or knights. Hence, she stayed in the hopes of breaking the curse.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: At one point during the fight against Farquaad's knights, an old woman yells, "Give him the chair!" Shrek promptly uses a folding chair to take out one of the knights.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The mill that Shrek and Donkey approach on the hill after the "ogres are like onions" scene is where they stop at with Fiona on the way back, where we find out about Fiona's curse, where Shrek misinterprets Fiona's words and comes to think she hates him, and where Farquaad meets Fiona to bring her back to Duloc.
    • Fiona's enchantment. Described first by Fiona when she's first seen as an ogress in the mill, then comes back again during the wedding when it's revealed to Shrek and Farquaad. Farquaad's reaction leads almost directly to his own death.
    • Donkey tells Dragon he'll whistle if he needs her. During the fight with Farquaad, when all seems lost, Shrek remembers this and breaks free enough to whistle for Dragon, who promptly breaks in and eats Farquaad.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The dragon. Chekhov's Gunwoman, in fact, making it two spoilers in one.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Fiona complains that Shrek is this when he helps bust her out from the tower before slaying the dragon and tells her to find a safe hiding place while he goes to save Donkey. Shrek points out the other knights who did that got burned to a crisp. His method at least lets them escape with their lives, if a bit singed.
  • Comedic Sociopathy:
    • Shrek and Fiona making nearby animals into balloons for each other and then letting them float away, and allowing a tree Donkey is walking on to snap back and fling him away.
    • In addition to the balloon animals, Fiona also causes a bird to spontaneously combust when it tries to hold a note as long and loud as the one Fiona sings... then, she cooks the bird's eggs.
    • Notice at the end of the movie, only two of the three bears - Papa Bear, and Baby Bear, specifically - are freed with the other fairy tale creatures. If you look closely, Farquaad made a rug out of Mama Bear.
  • Compensating for Something: Included as a Parental Bonus joke. When they first see Lord Farquaad's huge castle, Shrek asks Donkey "Do you think maybe he's compensating for something?". Kids take away the meaning of compensating for being short, and adults take away the other. With all the other jokes in the movie specifically directed at Farquaad's height, viewers might reasonably have dismissed it as Accidental Innuendo were it not for this reprise:
    Fiona: That's Duloc?
    Donkey: Yeah, I know. You know, Shrek thinks Lord Farquaad is compensating for something, which I think means he has a really—[Shrek stamps on his hoof] OW!
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Fiona is this trope for a lot of the time. Shrek didn't slay the dragon first. Shrek can't recite a poem. Shrek needs to save his ass. Shrek won't take off his helmet. And the worst part, to Fiona: Shrek was sent to rescue her for someone else.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Donkey just happens to feel morose at the same shore Dragon is crying at. It's a Small World, After All!
  • Convection Schmonvection: Shrek and Donkey walk across a rickety bridge over a boiling lake of lava to reach a castle on the other side, without seeming to feel any heat. And a castle built on a pier of rock rising out the lava, which wouldn't even be stable in such conditions, as lava can erode, corrode, and often outright melt such piers. However, the bridge is eventually burnt up when Dragon breathes fire on it, trying to capture Shrek, Fiona and Donkey.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Played straight to some degree with Duloc, although we see what's wrong with it before we even learn its name, as opposed to learning what's wrong with it after its introduction as this trope normally works. Farquaad is obsessed with his idea of a perfect world, which means banishing anyone who doesn't meet his standards of perfection, namely fairy tale creatures, who end up in Shrek's swamp. See Does This Remind You of Anything? and Fridge Horror to see why this is worse than it sounds here.
  • Crash-Into Hello: Downplayed. Donkey, in running away from the guards, ends up running straight into Shrek as he puts up another "Keep Out" sign. They end up becoming friends (through Donkey's persistence) by the end of the film. Shrek later meets Fiona when he crashes through the roof of her tower after being flung by Dragon's tail.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Donkey. He may be an oddball, a Motor Mouth and a Cowardly Sidekick to Shrek, but he readily helps Shrek out in delivering a Curb-Stomp Battle to Farquaad's knights and, in the climax, threatens the knights with Dragon once Farquaad is eaten alive.
  • Cry Cute: Possibly the only instance of this trope being applied to a gigantic fire-breathing dragon. A few sobs in front of a lakeshore while pining for Donkey are pretty much all it takes to make the dragon a sympathetic character.
  • Cue Card: Attendants at Fiona and Farquaad's wedding hold up cards telling the congregation how to react to proceedings. When Fiona's curse is broken, Thelonious quickly scribbles "Awww" on the back of one of his cards for the audience to react properly.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Two.
    • Shrek almost single-handedly (Donkey helps him out) takes out all of Farquaad's knights in just over a minute with barely a scratch on him.
    • Fiona takes on Robin Hood and his Merry Men by herself and wins, unscathed. Shrek and Donkey are understandably surprised.
  • Curse Cut Short: From the Robin Hood song:
    "I like an honest fight and a saucy little maid"
    "What he's basically saying is that he likes to get—PAID!"
    • The Disney-esque "Welcome to Duloc" song.
      "Please keep off of the grass"
      "Shine your shoes, wipe your—(bend over and turn around, exposing their butt-cracks) FACE!"
    • At the very beginning, while Shrek was using his outhouse. "What a load of—" (flushes)
  • Cultural Translation: Happened in the Norwegian dub. In Norwegian, there is no direct equivalent to the word "ogre", thus Shrek became a "troll" instead, a famous mythological creature in Norway.
  • Curse Escape Clause: Fiona was cursed to be an ogre at night and a human during the day. The curse was broken by True Love's Kiss. Good thing it wasn't just any true love...
    • The second implies it was supposed to make her permanently human. The phrasing is "love's true form".
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Implied as much as possible in a PG-rated movie, as Lord Farquaad in bed orders the disgusted magic mirror to show him the princess... again!
  • Defensive "What?": The Big Bad Wolf when Shrek finds him in his bed.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen:
    • Shrek is a male example. When he and Donkey first meet, he is clearly annoyed and irritated by him and wants nothing more than to get rid of him. Of course, that changes after they spend a bit of time together, and then when he rescues Fiona...
    • Fiona too. She's not happy that Shrek rescued her, nor that he rescued her for someone else, but she soon starts warming up to him.
  • Determinator: Donkey is determined to break through Shrek's shell and become his friend. After rather annoying Shrek through his persistence, he is successful.
  • The Dinnermobile: In a parody of/homage to Cinderella's pumpkin carriage, the end of the movie sees Shrek and Fiona ride away in a carriage that was very obviously an onion prior to transformation.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: After Fiona runs her hand across Shrek's back while he's holding a tree down for her and Donkey, he follows her, completely forgetting about Donkey, who is flung backwards.
    • Fiona was distracted by a romantic moment with Shrek and forgot the sun was setting until Donkey remarked on it.
  • Does That Sound Like Fun to You?:
    Donkey: I don't get it, Shrek. Why didn't you just pull some of that ogre stuff on him? You know, throttle him, lay siege to his fortress, grind his bones to make your bread? You know, the whole ogre trip.
    Shrek: Oh, I know. Maybe I could have decapitated an entire village, put their heads on a pike, gotten a knife, cut open their spleens and drink their fluids. Does that sound good to you?
    Donkey: Uh, no, not really, no.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Farquaad's "perfect world" of Duloc means getting rid of all fairytale creatures and banishing them to Shrek's swamp. With this mindset, it makes Farquaad all the worse.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": A donkey called Donkey and a dragon named Dragon.
  • Dragons Versus Knights: Deconstructed. Shrek and Donkey are tasked with saving Fiona by Farquad in a deal for the former to get his swamp back from the fairytale creatures Farquad dumped into it. They reach the castle but naturally Shrek doesn't bother going by tradition despite donning a knight helmet, instead going straight for Fiona and just opting to run for it when the dragon catches on. When Fiona protests about doing it the usual way, Shrek points out that others who tried that ended up as scorched hunks of metal and bones. The dragon turns out to be an asset later on when Donkey finds out she's a female and ends up charming her.
  • Dramatic Shattering: Combined with Dynamic Entry. Dragon does this when she bursts through the stained glass window in the church, right before eating Farquaad alive. Also happens when the rest of the windows smash when the curse is broken. Played for Laughs when Dragon breaks the only intact pane left by punching it.
  • The Dreaded: Dragon before her Heel–Face Turn. Even Shrek, a grown ogre who can send entire mobs fleeing and can take on a dozen soldiers at once attempts to avoid the Dragon when rescuing Fiona.
  • Dub Species Change: Shrek goes through this in the Norwegian dub. There is no equivalent to the word "ogre" in Norwegian, thus he became a "troll" instead.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Seeing how Puss In Boots isn’t introduced until the sequel, this is the only film that doesn’t feature him. In addition, this film puts more emphasis on satire than the other ones and has the most adult humor. It is also the only one not to have any scenes set in Far Far Away, as it is also introduced in the sequel.
    • This is the only movie in the series that doesn't introduce the Big Bad of the next film as a minor antagonist, i.e. Prince Charming and Rumpelstiltskin.
  • Eaten Alive: Played with;Farquaad’s final comeuppance sees him get swallowed whole by Dragon, who Dragon burps out his crown a few seconds later. However, the Karaoke Dance Party short reveals that he miraculously survived and is merely trapped in her stomach. The digestion eventually does kill him, and he appears as a ghost in the Shrek 3-D short.
  • Eating the Enemy: Done by proxy to prevent Princess Fiona from being locked into a loveless marriage to the villain Lord Farquaad. Donkey arrives at the cathedral with his dragon fiance, and the dragon swallows Farquaad. This leaves Fiona free to marry Shrek.
  • Engagement Challenge: Shrek saved Fiona from a castle situated over a smoldering volcano. She was okay with marrying him until finding out he was an ogre, and he was just working as a champion for Lord Farquaad. In keeping with the whole theme of subverting fairy tales in the movies, she turns into an ogre as well and marries Shrek anyway. On top of that, the (female) dragon who was guarding the princess ends up with Shrek's sidekick Donkey.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The movie opens with a panning to a storybook, which opens and tells us a tale about a princess waiting to break her curse with a true love's first kiss. Shrek comes in, tears the page off and uses it as toilet paper. The rest of the opening scene shows his daily routine, while "All-Star" plays in the background. This not only sets up Shrek's role in the story, but also shows that the movie isn't going to be your standard fairy tale.
  • Exact Words: Fiona's curse states that she will "take love's true form" when she finds her true love. She takes this to mean that she will become a human full time, but it actually causes her to permanently assume the form that her true love — Shrek — finds beautiful, i.e. her ogre form.
  • Expy:
    • While most of the fairy tale characters are lawyer friendly takes on them that are distinct from Disney's interpretations of the fairy tales, the Magic Mirror's appearance is clearly inspired by the one from Disney's adaptation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In personality, however, he's a total 180 from the grim apparition that inspired him.
    • There's a rumor Farquad is a Take That! to Michael Eisner, especially considering who the "K" in Dreamworks SKG is.note 
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The entire plot seems to take place in the span of at least five days.
  • Eyelash Fluttering: Dragon does this to Donkey when she is flirting with him. Missing the point, Donkey says "What's the matter, you got something in your eye?".
  • Face Palm: Farquaad when he sees Shrek beating his knights.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Fiona doesn't notice the green skin of Shrek's face and neck until he removes his helmet.
  • Faint in Shock: A lady in the audience faints when Fiona reveals to Shrek that she turns into an ogre at sunset.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The first minute of the film starts with a straightforward fairy tale storybook opening. And then Shrek rips out a page of the book to use it as toilet paper.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: Shrek and Fiona fall in love on the journey back to Duloc. Set to the song "My Beloved Monster". The song "You Belong to Me" cements that they have indeed fallen in love.
  • Fantastic Nature Reserve: Shrek's swamp, very much against his wishes.
  • Fantastic Racism: Farquaad. The trope's name has never been so appropriate: Farquaad hates all "fairy tale creatures" and has them evicted and forced into Shrek's swamp. His "perfect kingdom" would have nobody but (non-magical) humans.
  • Female Monster Surprise: Donkey realizes as Dragon moves out of the shadows that she's a female dragon, thanks to her eyelashes and lipstick. He's surprised for a moment, but uses this to keep flattering her so she won't kill him. Dragon also provides the trope image.
  • Fictional Constellations: Shrek tells Donkey the names the ogres give to several constellations.
    Donkey: So, uh...are there any donkeys up there?
    Shrek: Well, there's, um...Gabby, the small, and annoying.
    Donkey: Okay, okay. I see it, I see it now, yeah. The big shiny one, right there. Right? That-That one there?
    Shrek: ...That's the moon.
  • Finger Extinguisher: Shrek puts out a torch with his bare hand. This is used to show how strong he is.
  • Flippant Forgiveness:
    Shrek [to Donkey]: Oh yeah? Well if I treated you so bad, how come you came back?
    Donkey: Because that's what friends do - they forgive each other!
    Shrek: Oh, yeah. You're right, Donkey. I forgive you - for stabbing me in the back!
  • Floorboard Failure: Fiona falls through the upper floor of the mill while trying to hide her ogress form from Donkey when he goes in to check on her.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Makes an appearance during the wedding scene. The eponymous ogre and Fiona find themselves beset by Mooks; Shrek starts 'wading' through them, throwing them off as necessary. They manage to slow him, but we never get to find out the ending thanks to a Gunship Rescue moment.
  • Forced from Their Home: The ogre protagonist's Call to Adventure comes in the form of a large number of fairy tale creatures squatting in his swamp because Lord Farquaad has forced them from their homes in his territory.
  • Forgiveness: Shrek is mad at Fiona and Donkey for seemingly calling him an ugly ogre behind his back, treating both of them nastily. This lead to all three of them being angry and hurt at each other. Donkey makes Shrek undergo a Jerkass Realization when Donkey explains they weren't insulting him and Fiona was talking about "someone else". After Shrek apologizes sincerely, Donkey forgives him and helps him get to the wedding. Shrek then confesses his love for Fiona before she can kiss Farquaad, right when she's being cold and standoffish about Shrek's boorish behavior earlier (thinking even Shrek finds her hideous). She realizes that Shrek really loves her, and willingly reveals her curse. This leads to him understanding who she called ugly, and they apologize to each other silently with gentle smiles.
  • Foreshadowing: The opening storybook sets up the appearance of Fiona, as well as where she is being held, and her curse, as well as, in a Freeze-Frame Bonus after Shrek tears the page out, the wedding at the end. Both of them, actually — Fiona and Farquaad's, then Shrek and Fiona's.
    • After the mob flees Shrek's swamp, he picks up a poster for fairy tale creatures that he then tosses away. The fairy tale creatures end up in Shrek's swamp the following night.
    • Donkey mentioning to Shrek early on that only a true friend would use Brutal Honesty towards him. By the end of the film, and after a bit of arguing, they make up and reaffirm a friendship.
    • When they first meet, Donkey says that he likes that Shrek looks like he doesn't care what people think about him. Later on, he (and the audience) find out why Shrek shuts people out; because it does bother him that people judge him.
    • The mirror tries to warn Farquaad of something that happens to Fiona after the sun goes down, but Farquaad cuts him off. As he discovers later due to his refusal to listen, it is her curse that turns her into an ogre at night. Shrek finds out at the same time, but has quite a different reaction to Farquaad's.
    • We also get a brief shot of one of Fiona's eyes at night as she listens to Shrek revealing his Freudian Excuse to Donkey.
    • After Shrek manages to rescue Fiona from the castle, Donkey asks Fiona if she thinks Shrek is her true love. Turns out he is, and their kiss at the end of the film breaks her curse.
    • The film also foreshadows Fiona's identity as something other than a normal human princess; for instance, at one point the trio walk through a bug-infested field, and Fiona uses a cobweb stretched between two branches to ensnare the bugs. She wraps the web up into a candyfloss-esque snack, which she passes to Shrek to eat. After she does this, she licks her fingers, hinting she shares Shrek's appetite for gross food not usually edible for humans. Later, she says his weed rat recipe is delicious and digs into it.
    • Fiona refers to Donkey as Shrek's "noble steed," which he transforms into for a good part of the sequel.
    • Shrek sarcastically asked Fiona if she was expecting Prince Charming to come rescue her. She bluntly replies that yes, she was. It is revealed in the sequel, that Prince Charming is real and was in fact meant to rescue her.
    • Before they reach the cave at sunset, Fiona tries to make up an excuse to Shrek and Donkey by saying "There's robbers in the woods!" She turns out to be correct the next day, for Robin Hood and the Merry Men show up.
  • For Want of a Nail: Farquaad refusing to listen to the mirror when the mirror tries to warn him about Fiona. If he had, the rest of the film would have turned out quite differently, as Fiona wouldn't have actually appeared, Shrek would still be alone, and the rest of the films in the series would also not have happened.
    • Shrek as well. Shrek agrees to this journey simply because he wants his swamp back. He meets the love of his life and marries her and the events of the rest of the series happen because of this.
  • Formula with a Twist: The film takes the typical fairy-tale kingdom that you would find in a Disney work and instead casts the ogre as the hero. Most other twists in the plot center around that singular idea, although the sequels flesh out many others.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: A definitive example, and proud of it.
  • French Jerk: Although in most retellings, Robin Hood is an English Saxon fighting the tyranny of French-descended Normans; in Shrek he inexplicably has a French accent. And is a jerk to boot.
  • From Bad to Worse: Subverted. Donkey runs from the knights after the fairy dust wears off, only to run right into Shrek, who turns around and glares at him. After being scared for a moment, Donkey takes his chance and hides behind Shrek.
  • Genre Deconstruction: The film takes a potshot at the fairytale idea of knights slaying dragons. Shrek himself points out that every knight who tried to take Dragon on in a fight just got burnt to death, as the idea of defeating a giant, fire-breathing monster with nothing but a sword and armor is very unfeasible. Indeed, Shrek and Donkey save Fiona and escape from Dragon not through strength, but through a combination of Shrek's cunning and Donkey serving as a convenient distraction.
    Fiona: But this isn't right! You were meant to charge in, sword drawn, banner flying. That's what all the other knights did.
    Shrek: Yeah, right before they burst into flame!
    Fiona: That's not the point!
  • Get Out!:
    • When Donkey asks Shrek where he's going to sleep, Shrek yells "Outside!", so Donkey exits. As soon as he's out the door, Shrek slams it shut.
    • When fairy tale creatures take refuge in Shrek's swamp, he tries to evict them. It fails, and the seven dwarves flee into his house and lock him out.
  • Gibberish of Love: Shrek slips into this when he tells Fiona that Farquaad isn't her true love, and she asks Shrek what he knows about true love. He stumbles over his words and Farquaad realizes Shrek has feelings for Fiona, much to his amusement.
  • Gigantic Moon: When Shrek and Donkey look at the night sky at their makeshift camp, the moon appears to be larger than both put together.
  • Girl in the Tower: Princess Fiona has been kept in the tallest tower of the Keep. The film provides the page's quote.
  • Good-Times Montage: Shrek in his introduction as he is spending time in his swamp.
  • Groin Attack: Happens to Shrek while sliding down the stone column during the castle escape. A raised part over just the wrong place makes him go cross-eyed when he goes over it.
  • Gunship Rescue: Dragon swoops in to take out Lord Farquaad just in time to rescue Fiona.
  • Happily Ever After: Parodied; the film ends with a storybook closing, with the last pages saying "And they lived ugly ever after. The End."
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Shrek calls his donkey an "ass" even though it now refers to a butt or a foolish person.
  • Height Insult: When Princess Fiona asks about Lord Farquaad, Shrek and Donkey respond with a series of cracks about how ridiculously short he is.
    Shrek: Well, let me put it this way, princess; men of Farquaad's stature are in... short supply?
    Donkey: There are those who think little of him. [laughs]
    Fiona: Stop that! You're just jealous that you can't possibly measure up to a great man like Lord Farquaad.
    Shrek: Maybe you're right. But we'll let you do the "measuring" yourself when you meet him tonight.
  • Heir-In-Law: Lord Farquaad is already in charge, but still wants to be able to call himself a King, which he can achieve by marrying a Princess.
  • Held Gaze: Shrek and Fiona share one by the campfire after Fiona says how she'd like to visit Shrek in his swamp. Shrek attempts to confess his feelings for her but fails and instead asks her for the other rat. They then have an Almost Kiss, which is promptly interrupted by Donkey.
  • The Hermit: Shrek is firmly this for much of the film. He hates that people tend to judge him before they properly know him, which is why he feels he's better off being on his own. Of course, this attitude is dropped by the end of the film when he befriends Donkey and realizes he's in love with Fiona.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: And villains, too, in the case of Fiona, as Farquaad solely wants her so he can become king of DuLoc, and while bringing her back to Farquaad, Shrek starts falling for her too, and Donkey tells him not to hide from his own feelings. In the middle of a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, no less.
  • Heroic Neutral: Shrek at first - he just wants his swamp back!
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: As you might expect, Shrek is this due to being an ogre. In his words, people judge him before they properly know him and assume him to be a monster, whereas he is a nice guy once you get to know him, as Donkey and Fiona find out.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters:
    Shrek: Look, I'm not the one with the problem, okay? It's the world that seems to have a problem with ME! People take one look at me and go "Aargh! Help! Run! A big stupid ugly ogre!" [sighs] They judge me before they even know me - that's why I'm better off alone...
  • Ignorant About Fire: In one of the bonus features, Donkey and Dragon sing a cover of "Burn, Baby, Burn", and Donkey's tail catches fire but he doesn't notice.
    Shrek: "You're on fire, Donkey! No, literally, you're on fire!"
  • I Just Want to Be Beautiful: Fiona's motivation throughout the movie is to quit switching between human and ogre; naturally, she assumes that she'll be human when she "takes love's true form." So she is rather taken aback when she is permanently fixed in ogre form.
    Fiona: I don't understand; I'm supposed to be beautiful.
    Shrek: But you are beautiful. (Fiona smiles.)
  • I Just Want to Be Free: Donkey is implied to be this at the start of the film, when he breaks free from the guards and runs for it, and in his later line to Shrek: "Man, it's good to be free".
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Donkey says at the beginning that he doesn't have any friends and is very persistent to become friends with Shrek.
    • Shrek is implied to be like this. Though he likes his solitude, he really only does because he's tired of being judged and treated badly for being an ogre. He does eventually open up by befriending Donkey and falling in love with Fiona.
  • Immune to Jump Scares: Not even a minute after meeting Donkey for the first time, Shrek attempts to scare him away by roaring right in his face. Donkey isn't fazed by the ogre's grimace and complains only about his unpleasant breath.
  • Indecisive Parody: The film is rather at odds with itself in tone. For the first two acts, it's a straight up fairy tale parody with some Satire of Disney thrown in. Come the third act, and while there are still gags, it almost becomes a melodrama mixed with a straight fairy tale story. And there's still room for a happy ending and a dance party at the end. The later films would follow this example and gradually dialed down on the parody and satire aspects (or at least intertwined them more consistently with the films stories), since Dreamworks knew they couldn't just rely on in-jokes about Disney forever.
  • Induced Hypochondria: Shrek and Fiona psych Donkey into feeling ill so they can spend one more day together. Since he's so paranoid anyways, he falls for it.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Shrek swigs some ale before he throws down with the knights. He and Donkey also use the barrels as a weapon.
  • Innocently Insensitive: When Donkey is giving Fiona a pep talk after he discovers her ogress form, he does rather tactlessly admit that she's ugly, but tries to soften the blow by pointing out that it only happens at night, whereas Shrek is ugly 24/7. It doesn't really help Fiona feel any better.
  • Insult Backfire: When Shrek remarks Donkey's Friendless Background.
    Shrek: STOP SINGING! Well, it's no wonder you don't have any friends!
    Donkey: Wow. Only a true friend would be that cruelly honest.
  • Insult Misfire: Upon seeing Shrek for the first time...
    Farquaad: Ugh, it's hideous!
    Shrek: Well, that's not very nice. It's just a donkey.
    Donkey: Huh?
    Farquaad: Indeed.
  • Irony: Just the opening where Shrek chuckles off the fairytale he was reading about a princess locked in a tower and guarded by a dragon to be saved by her true love. However, this would actually happen to him near the second act.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Happens twice in the film.
    • It first occurs during an exchange between Farquaad and Fiona, after Shrek and Fiona have their falling out.
      Farquaad: You don't have to waste good manners on the ogre. It's not as if it has feelings.
      Fiona: No. You're right. (pointedly at Shrek, in anger) It doesn't.
    • Later, right at the climax, when Fiona reveals her ogress form, Farquaad is appalled by her appearance, yelling "It's disgusting!"
  • It's All About Me:
    • Shrek, for much of the film. Justified in that he wants to be left alone because of how people don't tend to give him a chance and judge him before they know him.
    • Both Fiona and Farquaad have rather selfish motives for wanting to marry the other. Fiona is only doing it out of desperation to end her curse, thinking that kissing Farquaad would break the spell. Farquaad, as Shrek points out, is only doing it so he can become king. He even says afterwards that Fiona becoming an ogress changes nothing as the marriage still makes him king.
  • It's All Upstairs from Here: Lampshaded, Shrek points out that Fiona will be at the top of the highest tower. Donkey asks how he knows and Shrek says he "read it in a book".
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: Shrek says this when he and Donkey first enter DuLoc.
  • I've Got an X, and I'm Not Afraid to Use It!: "I'm a donkey on the edge!"
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Parodied in Farquaad's intro scene, where he "tortures" Gingy by dunking him in a glass of milknote , and gets him to crack by threatening to rip off his gumdrop buttons...except Gingy's answers (something about a woman and "the muffin man (who lives on Drury Lane", who are married) are completely nonsensical and never brought up again.
  • Jerkass: Lord Farquaad.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Shrek. All he wants is to be left alone, is quite moody and callous at times, and occasionally falls into It's All About Me territory, as Donkey points out during his "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Despite all that, part of the reason why Shrek is the way he is is because he hates that people judge him before they properly know him, and that he is a good guy inside, as people would find out if they gave him a chance. For example, he allows Donkey to stay with him for one night despite how annoying (at first) he finds him, agrees to get the fairy tale refugees back where they came from (even if only to get them off his own land), and despite how irritating he finds Donkey, he still saves him in the face of danger and eventually properly befriends him.
  • Just Desserts: How Lord Farquaad meets his end at the jaws of Dragon.
  • Karmic Death: Farquaad gets eaten alive by the very dragon that was guarding Fiona so that he can marry the princess.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Farquaad does this to the Gingerbread Man by taunting him with his own rhyme and his dismembered legs, before crumbling one to powder right in front of him.
    • Farquaad does this to Shrek when he realizes Shrek is in love with Fiona, laughing at him and getting the whole congregation to laugh at him too. And before that, there was this line: "Really, it's rude enough being alive when no one wants you!" Shrek cuts him off shortly after. And then, when he sees Fiona in her ogress form, what does he say? "Ugh, it's disgusting!"
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Farquaad. "I will have order! I will have perfection! I will have—"Dragon bursts in and eats Farquaad.
  • Kill It with Fire: Played with at the beginning: One member of the angry mob waves a torch in Shrek's face, hoping to scare him. Shrek snuffs the flame out with his fingers.
  • Kissing Discretion Shot: Done at the end of the movie, combined with Breaking the Fourth Wall. Also subverted, as Shrek covering up the camera leads to an Idiosyncratic Wipe to Shrek and Fiona kissing in their own wedding.
  • The Lady's Favor: Fiona gives Shrek (disguised as a knight) a handkerchief in gratitude for rescuing her. But Shrek, ignorant of chivalry, uses the handkerchief to wipe ash off his face and hands it back to her. She then holds it in disgust and prompted drops it in horror when she hears the dragon's roar.
  • Large and in Charge: Definitely inverted with Farquaad, who's possibly about a foot shorter than everyone else. The novelisation and screenplay reveal he's four and a half feet tall.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Didn't know Fiona was turned into an ogress? Then don't look at the covers of any of the sequels.
  • The Legend of Chekhov: Everything in the storybook opening turns out to be true, and comes back during the castle sequence when Shrek and Donkey have to find Fiona and rescue her. Shrek, in particular, guesses where in the castle she is thanks to the book (the highest room in the tallest tower), and he's right.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: Donkey does this when he and Shrek are walking through the sunflowers on the way to the castle.
    Donkey: OK, Let me get this straight. We're gonna go fight a dragon and rescue a princess just so Farquaad will give you back your swamp, which you only don't have 'cause he filled it full of freaks in the first place. Is that about right?
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Shrek tries to mollify the knights during the tournament by settling it over drinks. It doesn't work, so Shrek decides to do this.
  • Licked by the Dog: A non-child example with Donkey's love for Shrek, completely oblivious to Shrek's annoyance at him.
  • Literal Ass-Kissing: As Shrek goes to rescue Donkey from Dragon, he ends up stuck right above Donkey, and just as Dragon is going in to kiss Donkey, the chain Shrek is holding on to comes loose and Shrek falls on top of Donkey, resulting in this trope. Unfortunately, Dragon is not happy about it.
  • Little "No": Shrek does one when he first sees his swamp is filled with fairy tale creatures. He does two more after that, each getting louder than the one before, before it becomes a Big "NO!".
  • Logo Joke: At the end of the DreamWorks logo, the S in "DreamWorks" and "SKG" turn green and grow ogre ears.
  • Love at First Sight: Played with, with regard to Dragon towards Donkey. As you would expect, he's terrified when he first sees her, but when he first realises she's female, she blows him a heart-shaped smoke ring, having known he existed for barely five minutes. The next time we see them both, Donkey is trying to tell Dragon he doesn't want to rush things.
  • Loves Me Not: Variation. Fiona does this with a sunflower Shrek left at her doorstep to decide whether she should tell Shrek her deep, dark secret: "I tell him, I tell him not..." She plucks the last petal on a "I tell him!" but the sun rises just then and she returns to human form before she can find Shrek. Naturally, he appears seconds later, and because of his eavesdropping on her the night before and offended by some comments she made to Donkey that seemed at least very insensitive towards him (Shrek), he's not happy.
  • Made of Iron: Donkey falls from a great height three times (see Rule of Three below), and appears to sustain no injuries whatsoever. Without this trope he'd either probably be dead or have sustained some broken bones.
  • Manly Tears: When Shrek is yelling at Donkey after he supposedly heard Donkey and Fiona talking bad about him behind his back, he looks (and sounds) like he's about to cry.
  • Major Injury Underreaction:
    Fiona: There's an arrow in your butt!
    Shrek: What? Oh, would you look at that.
  • Match Cut: Several of them during the "Hallelujah" montage whenever the camera cuts back and forth between Shrek in his swamp and Fiona in Farquaad's castle.
  • Meaningful Name: Shrek comes from the German word "Schreck", which means "scare", and scaring away the villagers is one of Shrek's favorite pastimes.
  • Minsky Pickup: Robin Hood's song.
  • Mirror-Cracking Ugly: Shrek's mirror can't withstand his smile.
  • Misplaced-Names Poster: Only John Lithgow/Lord Farquaad are positioned just right.
  • Mistaken For Flatulence: When Shrek and Donkey are nearing the dragon's keep, Donkey smells brimstone and thinks that Shrek just cut one. Shrek responds "If it was me, you'd be dead."
  • Mistaken for Own Murderer: Donkey, unaware of Fiona's curse, thinks that an ogre ate her when he finds one in her room. She manages to calm him enough to explain.
  • Moment Killer: At the mill, it seems like Shrek and Fiona will have an Almost Kiss, before Donkey pops up between them and remarks on how romantic the atmosphere is, which leads to...
  • Monster Façade: Shrek puts on one in the beginning of the movie. He grew tired of people screaming at his sight and attacking him with Torches and Pitchforks, so he chases them away from his swamp. Donkey sees through his act and befriends him.
  • Mood Whiplash: Donkey interrupts Shrek and Fiona's Almost Kiss to remark on the romantic atmosphere, before pointing out the sunset behind them. Cue an Oh, Crap! from Fiona.
  • Mouth Screen: During the iconic bird song, the camera focuses on Fiona's wide open mouth and quivering uvula.
  • Musical Number Annoyance: When they first meet, Donkey offers Shrek his friendship by singing "(You Gotta Have) Friends", which quickly bugs Shrek.
    Shrek: STOP! SINGING! Well, it's no wonder you don't have any friends!
    Donkey: Wow, only a true friend would be that truly honest.
  • Mutilation Interrogation: Played for laughs when the Gingerbread Man gets both of his legs broken off and his head dipped into a glass of milk. Lord Farquaad then crushes one of the legs in his hands, but the other leg is later reattached with frosting, making it necessary for Gingy to walk with a candy cane. (He gets the other leg reattached by the sequel.)
  • Mythology Gag: The opening sequence has Shrek burp into a lit match to produce a flame in such a way that looks like he's breathing it, presumably as a nod to the book where he had the power to breath fire.

  • The Napoleon: Lord Farquaad is pretty short in height.
  • Nature Tinkling: In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, seen from afar, Donkey urinates on a campfire.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • Shrek comes to Duloc to demand his swamp back from Lord Farquaad, right when the guy is testing knights to go rescue Fiona. Lord Farquaad orders the knights instead to "kill the ogre" to win the honor. The audience is at first on the side of the knights...until some of them start to cheat and Shrek defeats them all in a Curb-Stomp Battle anyway. Then Shrek gains the adoration of the crowd, reveling in the attention as he knocks out the knights one by one. Lord Farquaad is forced to go with a new plan so as to quell a potential riot: bargain with Shrek to rescue the princess and in return he'll give him the swamp.
    • Lord Farquaad turned out to do this on a series spanning level. He sent Shrek to rescue Fiona, which messes up his own plan by allowing Fiona to meet her true love that would break the curse and allow Donkey to meet Dragon, who helps Shrek and Donkey stop his wedding and eats Farquaad. In the second movie, Prince Charming's goal to rescue Fiona and thus Fairy Godmother's intention to rule Far Far Away through him are foiled because Farquaad sent Shrek to rescue her already. Most importantly, it foiled Rumpelstiltskin's attempt to get Fiona's parents to sign a Deal with the Devil with him, letting him erase them from existence and conquer Far Far Away because Shrek rescued Fiona and rendered the deal pointless. Even further back, the only reason Shrek interfered at all in any of this was because Farquaad's deporting all the fairy tale creatures to his swamp ticked him off. Really Nice Job Fixing It, Villain.
  • Nice Kitty...: When cornered by the dragon, Donkey starts laying on the compliments. It works a little too well.
  • Nighttime Transformation: Fiona is cursed to turn into an ogre every night until she finds True Love's Kiss.
  • Nonhuman Sidekick: Donkey to Shrek. Overlaps with Cowardly Sidekick a bit, too.
  • Noodle Incident: When going into hero worship mode of Shrek shortly after Shrek unwittingly saved Donkey's butt from Farquaad's men, Donkey mentions another time before meeting Shrek that he nearly had his nosehairs burned off. However, Shrek tried to muffle his mouth, to no avail. The only thing that was revealed was that it had something to do with eating rotten berries and his undergoing indigestion.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Apparently some architect thought it was a brilliant idea to put the castle Fiona is locked up at smack in the middle of an active volcano! Lampshaded by Shrek upon seeing it.
    "Sure, it's big enough, but look at the location!"
  • Not What It Looks Like: When Donkey returns from finding the flowers, he sees Fiona on top of Shrek (who accidentally rolled on him when trying to pull out the arrow). Shrek very quickly tries to explain it isn't what it looks like. Fiona uses Shrek's distraction to finally rip out the arrow.
  • No, You: Lord Farquaad does this in his first scene:
    Gingy: You're a monster!
    Farquaad: I'm not the monster here, you are.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: In the beginning, Donkey attempts to evade being sold by his owner by refusing to talk, with the intention of making his owner look crazy in the eyes of Lord Farquaad's guards and deny her from selling him. It doesn't last.
  • Oblivious to His Own Description: Donkey, when he follows Shrek back to his hovel in the swamp, pestering and annoying him the entire way, and finds the hovel surrounded by "No Trespassers" signs:
    Donkey: I guess you don't entertain much, do you?
    Shrek: I like my privacy.
    Donkey: You know, I do too. That's another thing we have in common! Like, I hate it when you got someone in your face, you trying to give them a hint and they won't leave. And then there's that big awkward silence, you know...
    (Shrek turns around and stares at Donkey, resulting in a big awkward silence)
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Twice involving Dragon. First is when she shows up at the swamp just before the climax, with no explanation for how she broke her chain. The second time she arrives at Duloc, and Donkey lets her run off to have some fun attacking the knights while he and Shrek sort out the main plot.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Rather subtle because the distances involved were so small, but in the scene where Donkey and Shrek are arguing underneath the moon, Donkey demonstrates an unusual knack for getting in Shrek's face no matter which way the ogre turns.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Donkey has one when the pixie dust enabling him to fly wears off, before he falls to the ground.
    • Shrek has a minor one of these during the tournament scene, upon hearing Farquaad say, "The one who kills the ogre— (Oh, Crap!) will be named champion! Have at him!" Though, to be honest, it diminishes pretty quickly when he sees the knights aren't going to back down and pulls a Let's Get Dangerous!.
    • Donkey when he sees Dragon for the first time in the castle. Cue Big Word Shout and running like hell.
    • Shrek has one in the castle when he first sees the Dragon chasing Donkey.
    • Shrek has another one when sliding down the stone column in the castle and, seeing a bit of rock sticking up in just the wrong place, realises he's about to receive a Groin Attack.
    • Fiona has one when she hears she won't see Farquaad until the next day, meaning the sun will set and she'll turn into an ogress. She has another during a Mood Whiplash moment during the second sunset, for exactly the same reason.
    • Fiona again when Donkey remarks on the fact the sunset (being romantic) and she realized she was too distracted by a romantic moment with Shrek that lead to an Almost Kiss to notice.
    • Shrek towards the end when he suddenly remembers Fiona and Farquaad are getting married, and fears he and Donkey won't make it to Duloc in time. Luckily, Dragon is there to get them there.
    • Farquaad gets one when Dragon bursts into the church, accompanied with a scream, right before she eats him.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: A short, but scary pipe organ tune plays in the background during Big Bad Lord Farquaad's first scene.
  • One Side of the Story: The movie pulled off a two-sided version of this. Shrek half-overhears a conversation between Fiona and Donkey, but misses the most significant part: that Fiona turns into an ogre at night. The next day Shrek and Fiona both assume that Shrek heard the whole conversation and each jump to a false conclusion: Shrek jumps to the conclusion that Fiona was talking about him when she said "who could love a beast so hideous and ugly", and "ugly and princess don't go together", and when Shrek confronts her about this the next morning, Fiona jumps to the conclusion that Shrek is disgusted with the fact that she becomes an ugly ogre at night. This crushes both their romantic feelings for each other, and Fiona goes to Duloc with Farquaad and Shrek goes back to his swamp.
  • Only One Name: Pretty much everybody who is given a name.
  • Over Crank: When Shrek and co. are escaping Dragon, the film briefly goes into slow motion before they reach the bridge, complete with Shrek bellowing a very drawn out "RUN!"
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: As mentioned under One Side of the Story, Shrek is about to confess his love to Fiona, when he overhears Fiona talking to Donkey, saying that no-one could love a monster like an ogre. Of course, he is unaware that she is talking about the curse that turns her into an ogre, which she conveniently doesn't explicitly mention again until just after Shrek gets disgusted and leaves.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Shrek, Donkey, and Fiona use this trope as they reach the bridge leading away from the dragon's castle, and the dragon takes one last shot at them with her fiery breath. They're also shown doing this on the film poster.
  • Pair the Spares: As well as Shrek and Fiona marrying at the end, Donkey and Dragon get together too, and are shown to have mutant dragon-donkey babies in the sequels.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Shrek's knight disguise may look convincing, but it still has some blatant flaws: with the visor of the helmet open, it clearly shows his green forehead. He's also wearing fingerless gloves that expose his green fingers. Yet Fiona doesn't realize he's an ogre until after he takes the helmet off.
  • Parental Bonus: Farquaad is a caricature of Disney CEO Michael Eisner.
  • Plot Hole: Shrek and Donkey joke about Lord Farquaad's height, after having only seen him when he was sitting down with his legs hidden. It's possible that Donkey had seen him before, but Shrek is the first one to crack a joke. Though there was intended to be a scene where they meet Farquaad face-to-face as he tells them about their quest.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Shrek, Fiona and Donkey all have a nasty falling out with each other due to Shrek only hearing part of Fiona and Donkey's conversation and assuming that Fiona thought he was an ugly beast (when she was actually referring to herself). When Shrek confronts her about it (repeating her words exactly), Fiona thought Shrek finds her hideous even for him. Donkey at least tries to make amends by trailing Shrek back to his swamp and, after a heated argument, clears up that Fiona was not talking about him. Shrek apologizes and reconciles his friendship with Donkey, just in time to fly off to stop Farquaad and Fiona's wedding (where Shrek also manages to reconcile with Fiona).
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Rather than have Shrek executed by his archers, Farquaad decides to make him his champion and sends him to rescue Princess Fiona. If he succeeds, Farquaad has the princess he was looking for without having to risk any of his men; if he fails, the world will have one less ogre in it. Farquaad wins either way. He even keeps his work about returning Shrek's swamp to him in exchange, when he could easily have backstabbed him over it.
  • Production Foreshadowing: When Fiona sees that Shrek is an ogre, he asks her if she was expecting Prince Charming.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Ogres. Are not. Like cakes!"
    • "I live alone! My swamp! Me! Nobody else, understand?! Nobody! Especially useless! Pathetic! Annoying! Talking DONKEYS!!!"
  • Radial Ass Kicking: Happens with Fiona and the Merry Men as well as the wrestling scene in the arena.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Fiona in the first film, upon seeing her ogre reflection in a bucket of water.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: When Shrek misunderstands what Fiona and Donkey were talking about (thinking Fiona was calling him a hideous beast behind his back and Donkey was going along with it, when she was actually referring to herself), he immediately brings Farquaad to her and calls off their friendship after a brief spate. Donkey is shocked at this turn of events and begs Shrek to change his mind, only for Shrek, thinking his one friend had stabbed him in the back, to emotionally snap at Donkey. Making it even more tragic is that Shrek isn't just angry—he looks genuinely hurt the whole time.
    Donkey: "Shrek, what are you doing? You're letting her get away!"
    Shrek: "Yeah? So what?"
    Donkey: "Shrek, there's something about her you don't know. Look, I talked to her last night. She's—"
    Shrek: "I know you talked to her last night. You're great pals, aren't ya? Now, if you two are such good friends, why don't you follow her home?!"
    Donkey: "Shrek, I— I wanna go with you."
    Shrek: "Hey, I told you, didn't I? You're not coming home with me. I live alone! My swamp! Me! Nobody else, understand?! Nobody! Especially useless, pathetic, annoying talking donkeys!"
    Donkey: "But... I thought..."
    Shrek: "Yeah, well you know what? You thought wrong."
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Donkey calls out Shrek for his behavior and for screwing him over throughout their whole adventure.
    Donkey: You know, with you, it's always, "Me, me, me!" Well, guess what. Now it's my turn! So you just shut up and pay attention! You are mean to me, you insult me, you don't appreciate anything that I do! You're always pushing me around or pushing me away!
    Shrek: Oh, yeah? Well, if I'd treated you so bad, how come you came back?
    Donkey: Because that's what friends do. They forgive each other!
    Shrek: Oh, yeah. You're right, Donkey, I forgive you. For stabbing me in the back!
  • Red Is Heroic: Inverted with Farquaad. His outfit is mostly red, but he is a Jerkass and the film's Big Bad.
  • Reference Overdosed
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Subverted. The dragon seems evil and ferocious at first, but then she falls for Donkey and it's shown she has a softer side.
  • Rescue Introduction: Shrek and Donkey meet Fiona when rescuing her from the tower. Though unintentional, Shrek also manages to scare off the knights and save Donkey when they first met.
  • Rescue Romance: Shrek rescues Fiona from the tower. It was originally for Farquaad to marry her and become king of Duloc. However, Shrek and Fiona end up falling in love with each other.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Though Fiona was intended to marry the wealthy lord of Duloc Farquaad, she falls in love with the common ogre Shrek. At first, she accepts Farquaad's proposal but only after a falling out with Shrek. However, after Farquaad is eaten by Dragon at the wedding, she marries Shrek.
  • Romantic Ribbing: Shrek and Princess Fiona are literally ribbing each other playfully at the end of the "My Beloved Monster" sequence. They are in love.
  • Rope Bridge: A thin rickety one leads to the castle where Fiona is imprisoned. Donkey naturally is quite terrified to walk across it over "a boiling lake of lava!"
  • Royal Decree: When Shrek first encounters the soldiers, they try to read him the prince's decree outlawing all fairy-tale creatures, but get intimidated by him looming over them.
  • Ruder and Cruder: Shrek uses mild profanity, whereas the children's book upon which it's very loosely based had none. Oddly subverted, however, in that the titular character was uglier, meaner, and cruder in the book than in the film.
  • Rule of Three:
    • Donkey falls from a great height three times. The first is during his first scene, thanks to the pixie dust, which briefly causes him to fly until it wears off after about a minute. The second is much later, during the Tree Buchet moment courtesy of a seemingly oblivious Shrek. The third is near the end when Shrek is trying to see what's going on in the cathedral by throwing Donkey up to see through a window. When Donkey tells him the Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace line has already been said, Shrek barges into the cathedral, thus failing to catch Donkey.
    • Fiona is the third princess the mirror presents to Farquaad, and she is the one he chooses.
  • Sapient Eat Sapient:
    • It's gradually revealed how Dragon has a considerable level of intelligence, but, still being a dragon, she barely needs any prompting to gobble up Farquaad.
    • This is also what humans are afraid Shrek will do to them, to the point he tells them he will, just to scare them away.
  • Say My Name: Shrek and Fiona yell each other's names a few times when Farquaad orders his guards to get rid of them.
  • Secret-Keeper: After Donkey accidentally finds out that Fiona turns into an ogre at night, she makes him promise not to tell Shrek. He reluctantly agrees, but points out that she should - indeed, she does.
  • Sexy Walk: Fiona has this on occasion, most notably when crossing the tree bridge, she shakes those Hartman Hips much more than usual, showing she's taken a liking to Shrek.
  • Shades of Conflict: The film's morality is largely Black-and-White Morality. Shrek is in a gray area at the start, but gradually becomes the real hero of the film.
  • Shipper on Deck: Donkey to Shrek and Fiona.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Subverted; Donkey doesn't follow Shrek into the church, but he does appear again on Dragon's back when she crashes into the church to devour Farquaad.
  • Shot in the Ass: Implied. Shrek at some point during the fight with Robin Hood's Merry Men.
    Shrek: Huh, would you look at that?
  • Silence of Sadness: During the Sad-Times Montage set to "Hallelujah" by John Cale, Shrek, Fiona and Donkey don't say a word, devastated about the misunderstandings that have happened between each other. Donkey, however, finds some solace upon finding Dragon, and goes to console her.
  • Silence, You Fool!: Lord Farquaad silences the magic mirror, complete with raised hand. Too bad for Farquaad that the mirror was about to reveal what happens to Fiona after sunset.
  • Sleep Cute: After emerging from the cave in the morning, Fiona looks over at Shrek and Donkey, who are both still asleep like this.
  • Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: The film lands on both the Type 1 (In Name Only) and Type 3 (Pragmatic Adaptation) ends of the scale. Its story borrows very few elements from the original William Steig book save for Shrek himself and Donkey (who only appeared on one page), but the original story was only 500 words long to begin with, so some major Adaptation Expansion was needed to make the book's story viable for a feature length film.
  • Sliding Scale of Animation Elaborateness: Lands at the top of the scale, even if the animation is kind of showing its age these days.
  • Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism: Donkey falls on the Talking Animal end of the scale.
  • Sliding Scale of Animal Cast: Falls on a level 5 (Equally Human and Animal Cast) due to humans and fairytale creatures (who are made up of a variety of both human-like and animal like beings) alike getting equal screentime with each other.
  • Sliding Scale of Endings: Falls on the Happily Ever After end of it, albeit a variation of the trope.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Works in both ways. The film is cynical in its comedy, but idealistic in its true message.
  • Sliding Scale of Plot Versus Characters: Less plot than characters. The story is a basic fairy tale parody—the real meat of the film is the characters and how they interact with each other, particularly the chemistry between Shrek and Donkey.
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic: Falls on the "Fantastic" end of the scale.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: The film zigzags between both ends of the scale. The bulk of the film is a silly comedy that pokes fun at fairy tale clichés. The romance and drama scenes, however, are mostly treated very seriously in stark contrast.
  • Sliding Scale of Visuals Versus Dialogue: Definitely tips the scale in favor of dialogue. 90% of the movie is non-stop chatting between characters, even when they're not hitting a story beat.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Farquaad appears in only a handful of scenes and has very little interaction with the main characters. However, by sending the Fairytale creatures to Shrek's swamp as a resettlement facility, he causes Shrek to seek him out. Farquaad then decides to send Shrek to rescue Princess Fiona (who he picked to be his new queen). Fiona is rescued by Shrek and later falls in love with him and marries him, foiling the plans of every subsequent villain in the series. Farquaad permanently changes the fates of two kingdoms, Duloc and Far Far Away.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Princess Fiona is the only female main character. All the rest - Shrek, Donkey and Farquaad - are male.
  • Snipe Hunt: Donkey is sent off to find a blue flower with red thorns to keep him from distracting Fiona and Shrek while they dealt with the arrow in Shrek's behind. Taken further as Donkey turns out to be colorblind. Donkey actually finds the flower, too.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the Discworld book Witches Abroad, another Fractured Fairy Tale about an oppressive regime where everything in a fairytale land must go a certain way or else.
  • So Hideous, It's Terrifying: Provides the trope image. Shrek exploits this trope at the beginning of the first movie to scare off ogre hunters and protect his privacy. The All Star Smash Mouth sequence has him having a bath in a quagmire, having a shower with mud (with a clear shot of his buttocks) brushing his teeth with bug guts (the latter scene ending with his mirror cracking) and, finally, roaring at the villagers who wanted to kill him (with a close-up of his teeth and saliva). However, the trope is downplayed later in the movie and sequels because he finds a love interest with An Aesop about inner beauty, his best friends get along with him without any trace of fear (well, as long as Shrek doesn't lose it) and his ugliness is lampshaded only in gags and scenes where either his ogre physique or lifestyle are put in contrast with those of more attractive characters.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: Happens at the beginning after Shrek closes the book. "Like that's ever going to happen. What a load of—" [toilet flushes]
  • So What Do We Do Now?: Shrek and Donkey each get this when Fiona and Farquaad go back to Duloc to get married. Shrek blows up at Donkey and leaves him, going back to his swamp, which has been cleared out. He gets there but keeps thinking about Fiona and is otherwise at a loss for what to do until Donkey returns later in the day. Donkey, on the other hand, is left to just Walk the Earth, having nothing else to do and no one to go back to... until he sees Dragon on the same riverbank, crying because she misses him.
  • Spanner in the Works: If it wasn't for Farquaad's actions, nothing in the rest of the franchise would have happened and the plans of the other three villains would have been successful.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Spoofed. Shrek goes to interrupt the wedding of Fiona and Farquaad, but Donkey insists that he wait for the priest to say this line before barging in and shouting "I object!". On further investigation, they realise they missed that part, so Shrek barges in anyway.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To The Prince of Egypt, which are both DreamWorks Animation films that deal with prejudice. The 1998 Moses film is more serious and realistic, while this film is more humorous and fantasy-oriented.
  • Spit Out a Shoe: Dragon burps up Farquaad's crown after she eats him.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: After showing impeccable fighting skills early in the movie, Fiona can only call helplessly for Shrek when grabbed this way at her wedding via Zerg Rush. Granted, Farquaad does eventually put a knife to her throat but only after 20 seconds or so of her doing nothing while Shrek, who is also grabbed, actually fights back.
  • Stargazing Scene: While stopping for the night as they escort Fiona to Duloc, Shrek and Donkey stare at the night sky, as Shrek points out the constellations, all of which are about famous ogres.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye:
    • Donkey pulls this on Shrek when they first meet. When Shrek turns around to ask if Donkey is talking to him, Donkey has disappeared, then suddenly is in front of Shrek when he turns around again.
    • The crowd of fairy tale creatures does this when they appear in Shrek's swamp, having somehow appeared in the swamp and in Shrek's house without Shrek noticing until he hears his door creak open.
  • Stopped Reading Too Soon: The title character accidentally eavesdrops on Fiona talking to Donkey, and hears the part about how "'princess' and 'ugly' don't go together." Thinking that she secretly hated him and was only pretending to like him, he promptly storms away, when her very next sentence would have clued him in that she was talking about her own shapeshifting curse.
    • Farquaad while the mirror attempts to tell him what happens to Fiona after sunset. He's so into the idea of marrying her, he simply tells the mirror to silence. Because of this, he doesn't find out about her curse till it's too late, causing the rest of the franchise to happen.
  • Storybook Opening: The film starts with one, setting up the film as if it's going to be a typical fairy tale cartoon... until Shrek scoffs at the story and uses a page from it as toilet paper.
  • Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard:
    • Shrek and Donkey both have a hearty laugh when Fiona says that Shrek is her true love.
    • Farquaad laughs at Shrek for being in love with the princess, and the fact that an ogre can fall in love at all.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: "Please keep off of the grass,/shine your shoes, wipe your.../...Face!"
    • Which technically does rhyme with the line that follows: "Duloc is, Duloc is, Duloc is a perfect place!"
  • Sudden Musical Ending
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: On the second night with Fiona, Donkey says he knows what's going on when Fiona says it's late and she has to go inside, before saying that he thinks Fiona's scared of the dark. She decides to go with it.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • This film deconstructs the old fairy tale story of knights fighting dragons by showing what actually happens when a human goes up against a giant, fire-breathing monster: they get burnt to death, as the array of burnt skeletons in the castle confirm. Shrek and Donkey ultimately escape from Dragon not by defeating her in a straight fight, but by outsmarting her.
    • Shrek and Fiona are badasses, but in the finale, they are near helpless when a pissed off Farquaad sics his knights on them, causing the two to become overwhelmed by the massive army, not helping that they're in a crowded church making it easier for the knights to trap the ogres.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: The Travel Montage of Shrek and Donkey making their way to the castle is accompanied by The Proclaimers' "I'm On My Way", which works both for the Travel Montage itself but also references Shrek's character arc nicely.
  • Takes Ten to Hold: When Fiona finally reveals to Shrek her transformation into an ogre every night (courtesy of a witch's curse) after he objects to her marriage to Lord Farquaad, Lord Farquaad has both arrested. Shrek, attempting to reach Fiona, starts being dragged off by dozens of guards, several of which he manages to fight off, before Dragon smashes through the church's windows, eats Lord Farquaad and forces the remaining guards to back down.
  • Take That!: The film, made by several former Disney employees, was made as a gigantic middle-finger to the company, and more specifically then-CEO Michael Eisner (whose personality and mannerisms are reflected in the villain, Farquaad). It's not an accident that the movie itself is a Deconstructor Fleet of the classic instalments of the Disney Animated Canon as well as the Disney Renaissance films.
  • Taking a Third Option: When Donkey is cut off on a small bridge segment by Dragon, he has two apparent options, neither of them good: He can jump (or fall) off into the lava, or be eaten alive. Instead, he seduces the dragon, which actually works, since the dragon is female.
  • Talking in Your Sleep: When Fiona is cooking eggs for breakfast, Donkey is muttering to himself in his sleep before Shrek wakes him up.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: All throughout the wrestling match in Duloc, Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" kicks in, and both Shrek AND Donkey start to kick ass and take names.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Donkey is this to Shrek. He depends on, if not even feels entitled to Shrek for companionship plus shelter, aggravating Shrek even further.
  • This Is My Side: Shrek and Donkey, at one point.
  • This Is the Part Where...: When the angry mob comes to drive him out of his hut, Shrek scares them off using his Monster Façade but the mob gets so paralyzed by fear that Shrek has to prompt them to leave.
    Shrek: This is the part where you run away.
  • Thriving Ghost Town: Duloc is clearly a large kingdom, but it doesn't seem to host that big of a population in comparison, about enough to crowd an arena and church and that's it. This was due to technical limitations (the studios' crowd animation system was specifically designed for indoor settings) and to save on expensive and valuable rendering time for the film.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Twice, both cases justified. Farquaad and Fiona, and Dragon and Donkey. Farquaad is just naturally short, Fiona is average height but obviously taller than he is. Dragon is a... well, dragon, and so is naturally much bigger than Donkey.
  • Toilet Humour: There are plenty of grossout gags in the film. The very first gag in the film is Shrek using a storybook page as toilet paper in an outhouse. Heck, the entire opening is a magnificent cavalcade of scenes showing off just how gross Shrek is!
  • Tomboy Princess: Fiona in human form.
  • "Too Young to Die" Lamentation: When Fiona points out Shrek having an arrow stuck in his butt, to which Donkey begins to panic, and even exclaims, "I'm too young for you to die!"
  • Tree Buchet: Shrek does this to Donkey as Comedic Sociopathy.
  • True Companions: The Merry Men are violently protective of their man Hood.
  • True Love Is Exceptional: Fiona had expected to be rescued by a knight in shining armor and have the stereotypical fairy tale ending. However, during the journey back to Duloc, she ends up falling in love with Shrek, an ogre. After Farquaad is eaten by Dragon, she marries Shrek. This would end up having serious consequences in the sequels though.
  • True Love's Kiss: The film plays it straight as part of a larger subversion. The female lead has a curse which turns her into an ogre by night, which can only be broken by True Love's Kiss. However, when said love, the ogre Shrek, kisses her, she becomes an ogre permanently — which she preferred. Of course, there is the opening monologue, which mocks this trope lightly; you can see how seriously Shrek takes it.
  • Turn Your Head and Cough: When Donkey learns that Shrek has been hit by an arrow, Donkey panics at the thought of Shrek dying from it and shouts irrelevant medical advice, including "keep your feet elevated", a plea for somebody to perform the Heimlich Maneuver, and "turn your head and cough."
  • Underwater Fart Gag: Shrek once farts in the bath, and the smell is so bad it actually kills a fish.
  • Unexpected Kindness: Donkey is terrified when he sees Shrek for the first time, expecting to be killed and eaten, but Shrek instead saves him from the guards who were chasing him. Probably why he wasn't afraid when Shrek tried to scare him.
  • Verbal Backspace:
    • The Magic Mirror does this in his first and second lines, saying that Farquaad isn't a king, and then, after Thelonious smashes a hand mirror as a threat, he quickly says, "What I mean is, you're not a king yet." If the trailer is anything to go by, it was originally supposed to be a different one: "Well, technically, it's not perfect", with the implication being that the Mirror would then clarify that a kingdom isn't a kingdom without a king.
    • Farqauaad does this later when addressing the knights at the tournament, where he says the champion shall have the honour— no, no, the privilege— of going to rescue Fiona.
  • Violent Glaswegian: The accent part is played with due to Mike Myers' ad-libbing while being deconstructed throughout the movie:
    Donkey: I don't get it, Shrek. Why didn't you just pull some of that ogre stuff on him? You know, throttle him, lay siege to his fortress, grind his bones to make your bread? You know, the whole ogre trip.
    Shrek: Oh, I know. Maybe I could have decapitated an entire village, put their heads on a pike, gotten a knife, cut open their spleens and drink their fluids. Does that sound good to you?
    Donkey: Uh... no, not really, no.
    • During the scene where the villagers raid his cottage.
      Villager 1: There's his lair... let's get him!
      Villager 2: Do you know what that thing could do? It'll grind your bones for its bread!
      Shrek: Well, actually, that would be a giant. Now, ogres... oh, they're much, much worse! They'll make a suit from your freshly peeled skin; they'll shave your liver; squeeze the jelly from your eyes! Actually, it's quite good on toast.
      Villager 1: Back! Back, ya beast! Back! I warn ya!
      [Shrek licks his fingers and puts out the torch]
      Villager 1 [sheepishly]: Christ.
      [Shrek roars at the villagers]
      Shrek [whispering]: This Is the Part Where... you run away. [the villagers retreat] And stay out!
    • However, people frequently tend to misjudge Shrek.
      Donkey: Hey, what's your problem, Shrek, what you got against the whole world anyway, huh?
      Shrek: Look, I'm not the one with the problem, okay? It's the world that seems to have a problem with me! People take one look at me and go "Aargh! Help! Run! A big stupid ugly ogre!" They judge me before they even know me - that's why I'm better off alone...
      Donkey: You know, Shrek... when we first met, I didn't think you were a big, stupid, ugly ogre.
      Shrek: Yeah, I know.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Shrek and Donkey.
    Shrek: If I treat you so badly, then why did you come back, huh?
    Donkey: Because that's what friends do, they forgive each other!
    Shrek: Oh, yeah. You're right, Donkey. I forgive you - for stabbing me in the back!
  • Waking Non Sequitur: When Farquaad and his soldiers arrive at the mill, Donkey wakes up and says "What'd I miss? What'd I miss?" Seeing the soldiers walking past, he tries to throw his voice and make it appear like he didn't speak.
  • Wants Versus Needs: Shrek agrees to rescue Fiona from her tower and bring her to Lord Farquad in exchange for having his Swamplands to himself again, having lived feared and alone for so long that all he wants is privacy. Having been raised as a fairy tale princess, all Fiona wants is to be rescued by her own Prince Charming and to live Happily Ever After free of her curse. By the end, the both of them get what they want, but in a way that they both needed: while Shrek gets his swamp back, he learns to open himself up, marrying Fiona and finding friends among a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits he originally wanted out. While Fiona's curse is technically broken and she does live Happily Ever After with a charming man she married, it's as an ogre with a non-royal ogre for a husband in a swamp. Not that either of them mind.
  • Water Torture: Or milk torture, rather, used by Thelonius against the Gingerbread Man at Lord Farquaad's behest.
  • Wedding Deadline: Subverted. Shrek bursts in as Fiona and Farquaad are about to kiss.
  • Wedding Smashers: After the above, Farquaad sends in the guards to hold Shrek back. And then the Dragon smashes through the window and eats him in one bite.
  • Wham Line: In Universe, given what the audience knows at this point. When Shrek continues to believe that Fiona called him "ugly", Donkey sets the record straight right then and there:
    "She wasn't talking about you, okay? She was talking about... [hesitates slightly] someone else."
  • Wham Shot: Towards the climax, Donkey nervously goes to spend the night in the mill where Fiona is because he's scared of the dark. He calls for her, only to see a green figure stumbling in the dark wearing Fiona's dress. Donkey screams in alarm, until the ogress reveals she is Fiona, just bigger... and greener. Donkey needs a few minutes until he realizes that Fiona is cursed, and he's seeing what happens after the sun goes down.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The fate of Duloc after its ruler is eaten by a giant dragon is never elaborated on, and the kingdom itself never appears in any of the subsequent sequels.
    • This is answered in the Halloween special "Scared Shrekless", revealing Duloc has been completely abandoned and is now a ghost town.
  • Why Waste a Wedding?: After Farquaad is eaten, Fiona marries Shrek, in his swamp but still in her dress and even with the same cake. The same minister who performed her wedding with Farquaad also marries Shrek and Fiona.
  • Widowed at the Wedding: Fiona when Farquaad is eaten by Dragon. This leaves her free to be with Shrek.
  • Wilting Odor:
    • In the opening of the film, Shrek is seen relaxing in a pond, he farts and various fish float to the surface, one such fish he keeps for dinner.
    • When Shrek and Donkey and approaching the castle where Fiona is, Donkey asks if the brimstone he was smelling came from him.
      Shrek: Believe me, Donkey, if it was me, you'd be dead.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: When Shrek finds himself in a roped-off pen surrounded by Farquaad's knights, he busts out the pro wrestling maneuvers, even hitting one of the knights with a folding chair. Not too surprising if you realize Shrek was designed after 1940/50s wrestler "The World's Ugliest Man" The French Angel.
  • Wrong Insult Offence: Shrek is an ogre; he wouldn't grind your bones for his bread.
    Shrek: ...that would be a giant.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Fiona uses this early in the movie, especially just after the escape from the dragon's castle. It doesn't last.
    Fiona: The battle is won. You may remove your helmet, good Sir Knight.
    Shrek: Uh, no.
    Fiona: Why?
    Shrek: I...I have helmet hair.
    Fiona: Please, I would'st look upon the face of my rescuer.
    Shrek: No, no you wouldn't...'st.
    • She does this later when Shrek is carrying her on her shoulder. He pretends to try and drop her to get her to stop.
      • She does it again later after her falling out with Shrek.
        Fiona: Fair thee well ogre.
  • You and What Army?: Inverted. Shrek says this to the leader of a group of soldiers, who turns around and sees that the rest of his troops had run away, leaving a lot of their weapons behind. The leader does the same.
  • You Monster!: The Gingerbread Man to Farquaad as he's being tortured. Farquaad shoots back with this:
    Farquaad: I'm not the monster here, you are! You and that fairy tale trash poisoning my perfect world!
  • You Need a Breath Mint: The infamous scene where Shrek roars at Donkey to try and scare him off, only for Donkey to say that his breath is more terrifying.



Shrek intimidates and scares the angry mob away from his swamp.

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