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The film:

  • Acceptable Targets: New Jersey.
    "You're on the Jersey side of this cesspool!"
  • Adorkable: Melman is the lovable, awkward and clumsy dork of the foursome. This becomes a main subplot point in Escape 2 Africa.
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: The character Gloria is mainly known for her large, portly design, in addition to having a large and semi-bare butt that is frequently on display.
  • Broken Base: Mostly regarding the sequels.
    • Those who think that the series gradually gets better versus those who think it gets worse, whether or not they liked the first one.
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    • Those who felt that the first movie was either average or awful and the sequels saved it versus those who think the first movie is the only good one.
  • Covered Up: The series' various covers of "I Like to Move It" are all much more popular and well known than the original Reel 2 Real song.
  • Crazy Awesome: The penguins wouldn't be the badass heroes they are if they weren't completely insane. Trailers for the first film prominently featured Alex proclaiming "the penguins are psychotic!" — he's right, but it's not at all a bad thing.
  • Critical Dissonance: There are many Madagascar fans who prefer the first film to Escape 2 Africa, as well as those who consider Europe's Most Wanted the worst of the bunch.
  • Critical Research Failure: While the Central Park Zoo does house penguins, it does not house lions, zebras, hippos, giraffes or chimpanzees. It did feature large animals at one point, however, so the filmmakers gave New York in the first film a 60's feel. note 
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  • Crosses the Line Twice: Has its own page.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • The Penguins and King Julien XIII. The Penguins were only a sub-plot to start and keep things rolling, and King Julien was only intended to have two lines, but they became so popular that not only did they get extended roles, but they also got larger roles in the sequel, and then they got a hugely popular spin-off even though nobody knows how they got back to the Zoo in that continuity. Have we also mentioned they got their own movie?
    • Nana, due to her status as a Memetic Badass and being a great source of Black Comedy. Her popularity caused her to become the true Big Bad of the second movie.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: When the gang first washes up on the island, Melman deduces that they have arrived in San Diego, and Alex laments having to compete with Shamu and his "smug little grin". Modern audiences who have seen Black Fish would know Shamu is anything but smug.
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  • Genius Bonus: Considering how most people had probably never heard of fossa before this movie, the fact that the lemurs misspell it "foosa" is a joke that goes over most people's heads.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: A tamer example: "the wild" Marty's Arc Words. After one discovers that this was a pre-emptive ripoff of The Wild, it not only feels awkward, but kind of sleazy.
  • He Really Can Act: Ben Stiller was more known as a comedic actor before this film. However, his performance when Alex realizes he almost killed Marty during his bout of Horror Hunger is shockingly heartwrenching.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Alex threatens to clone Marty after killing him, and then kill all his clones. In the sequel, while Alex doesn't harm them, Marty encounters a herd of zebras, that are absolutely identical to him and have Marty's voice, which causes Alex to confuse Marty with other zebras.
    • Melman was originally an okapi, but was changed to a giraffe for fear of audiences not knowing what an okapi is. In 2013, in the Valentine's special Madly Madagascar, an okapi character appears as Marty's love interest.
    • During the scene with Marty ice skating at the Rockefeller Park rink, a parody of the NBC News building dubbed PDI News (a reference to Pacific Data Images, the division of DreamWorks Animation that produced the film) can be spotted in the background. NBC's parent company, NBCUniversal, would later buy DreamWorks Animation in 2016.
    • In the Korean dub, watching Alex talking to "Spaulding" (a reference to "Wilson" from Cast Away) is particularly funny once you remember that Song Kang-ho, the voice of Alex in that version, is commonly referred to as "the Korean Tom Hanks".
  • Ho Yay:
    • Alex, with his flamboyant, Broadway style dance maneuvers, overexcited personality, and suspiciously close relationship with his best friend, Marty the zebra. In the first film, he gets very upset and concerned when Marty leaves the zoo to find the wild. And when they all become stranded in Madagascar, Alex's hunger grows for meat, so with Marty being the closest thing to stake available he licks his rump in his sleep and in another scenario, bites him on the butt when he reverts to his primal instincts and in the second one, he confuses Marty with the other identical zebras multiple times, causing a strain on their friendship and finally there's their reconciliation near the end, where Alex finally manages to tell Marty from the rest of the zebra herd, by his bite mark on Marty's rear from the last film.
    • Julien's rather touchy-feely with Maurice.
      Julien: What is a simple bite on the buttocks among friends? (backs up in front of Maurice) Here, give me a nibble.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Some viewers couldn't care less about the main characters and their quest to get back to the zoo, mainly watching the movies to see the Penguins and King Julien instead. This eventually led to the creation of The Penguins of Madagascar spin-off (which focuses entirely on said characters).
  • LGBT Fanbase:
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • I like to move it move it! I like to move it move it! I like to move it move it! Ya like to...
      • MOVE IT!
    • "Kowalski. Analysis."
  • Popular with Furries: This was a given since the film stars talking animals, especially since one of them has a huge rear end.
  • Signature Line: "Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave."
  • Signature Song:
    • "I Like To Move It" for the entire series and the first film.
    • Meanwhile, the instrumental piece "Zoosters Breakout" by Hans Zimmer is the instrumental piece that is the Signature Song for the entire series.
  • Squick: Melman giving Marty his first rectal thermometer as a birthday gift. What makes it so gross is that he tells him this after Marty put it in his mouth. No wonder Marty spits it out right after hearing that.
  • Viewer Species Confusion:
    • Quite a few viewers have called Mort a squirrel, because of his buck teeth and bushy tail. He's actually a mouse lemur, which is a primate, not a rodent like a squirrel or mouse.
    • King Julien has sometimes been called a raccoon because of his ringed tail.
  • Vindicated by History: When the first film was released, it got mixed reviews from critics. Nowadays, many people consider it to be one of the better films from Dreamworks' Dork Age.
  • Woolseyism:
    • In the original English during the first film's Meadow Run scene, Marty says: "Sugar Honey Ice Tea!" (it's an acronym). In the Spanish dub, he says: "‎Miércoles!" ("Wednesday"), a common Spanish euphemism for "tercoles" (and "mierda" is Spanish for "shit", so the acronym joke is replaced with a Last Second Vowel Swap). In the Croatian dub, he straight up says "shit" (the English word, not the translation) and mixes it with "šibam ja dalje" (roughly "I'm outta here") where the first word incorporates the English word, essentially creating a bilingual pun.
    • In German they use "Himmel, Arm und Wolkenbruch (heaven, arm and cloudburts)", which everyone will be able to tell you is what adults turn "Himmel, Arsch (ass) und Wolkenbruch" into when kids are around. It's the same principal as "Scheibenkleister" and "Scheiße". You know "Schhhh...eibenkleister." "Sshhhh...eeesh."
    • In one scene, King Julien refers to the zoo animals as the New York Giants. Since American football is practically unknown in Hungary, in the Hungarian dub Julien calls them the "Gang of New York" instead, making it a Shout-Out to Gangs of New York.
    • During the scene where Alex finds himself stranded on the beach, he mumbles his friends' names before mangling them and then mumbling a couple of unrelated names out of exhaustion. In the original these names are Regis, Kelly, Matt, Katie and Al, while in the Croatian dub these were changed to Shrek and Fiona.

Franchise:

  • Awesome Music: With Hans Zimmer composing, this is bound to happen.
  • Even Better Sequel: The first movie got mixed reviews, but each sequel improved on its predecessors according to critics, especially the third movie.
  • Sequelitis: The sequels suffer from this according to some fans, though not according to critics — in fact, each sequel has a progressively higher rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • So Okay, It's Average: The franchise as a whole can be described as this. None of the movies are bad in a traditional sense, they're entertaining and inoffensive. But the stories and characters are considered to be somewhat one-dimensional, general consensus is that one can only enjoy the movies when one prefers comedy and timing over a good story.

The games:

  • Game-Breaker: Gloria in the GBA game. While not as mobile as the others (Marty has better jump height and can run, while Alex and Melman both have access to double jumps) Gloria is a lot more useful. On top of having a Shockwave Stomp that has some serious range and being the only character with Super Not-Drowning Skills, she also has a Goomba Stomp from the moment you can play as her that is absolutely broken. It starts the moment Gloria starts decending, is a One-Hit Kill on most enemies, and is the only attack in the game that can destroy the razor grass on the island. In fact you can beat most levels playing as Gloria just by walking along the bottom edge of the map, since she makes most of the danger from the levels easily avoidable while occasionally switching over to Alex or Marty when they're needed.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Right after the crashlanding and before you enter the Serengeti proper in Escape 2 Africa game, Alex gets to fight the scorpions on the way. For some reason, one ends up immortal and cannot be defeated by any means.
  • No Problem with Licensed Games: The first game is considered a perfectly fine licensed game that remains true to the source.
  • Sidetracked By The Golden Saucer: Some people mainly play the first game for the golf and shuffleboarding minigames.


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