Archive Panic: 232 theatrical cartoons, an equally large number of made-for-tv cartoons, and decades worth of newspaper comics and comic books. Good luck.
Audience-Coloring Adaptation: The animated cartoons are far more well known than the source material, in spite of being gag romps that don't have the comic's story arcs or continuity.
Awesome Music: The basic theme music has been the same since the 1930's, and it's never lost its awesomeness.
Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: In "Morning, Noon and Night Club," Bluto is going around punching out Popeye's face in posters of him and Olive's nightclub routine. He does yet another one after Olive turns down his date offer — and as he walks away, a goat suddenly sticks its head out of the hole and bleats as Bluto tells it off. What a goat was doing behind that wall is never explained, and the goat never appears again in the short.
The short It's the Natural Thing to Do, as well as the later Famous Studios short The Hungry Goat, which feels more like a Tex Avery cartoon with Popeye thrown in as an afterthought.
The short Wotta Nitemare, although the bulk of that short was one big Dream Sequence.
There's also "Popeye meets William Tell", which for no discernable reason decides to throw our hero into medieval Europe and have him encounter a William Tell who looks and acts more like a Looney Tunes character. And it only gets stranger from there.
Similar applies to the episode "Popeye Meets Rip Van Winkle", "Sinbad The Sailor" and "Ali Baba's Forty Thieves".
"Be Kind to Aminals" would have been a standard Popeye outing, if not for the bizarre, one-time recasting of Popeye with his radio voice actor, Floyd Buckley, who sounds like an even older Popeye with a bad head cold.
Broken Base: Some hate the 1960s shorts for relying on limited animation and not having the charisma of the Fleischer and Famous shorts, while others like it for being more faithful to the comic strip.
The Genndy Tartakovsky animation test for the aborted CGI movie received a positive reception from fans, but Popeye not having his pipe and tattoos really caused a stir.
The All New Popeye Hour is perhaps the most hated incarnation due to heavy Bowdlerization (see the main page for details), making Olive into a complete ditz and lacking the wit of the classic theatrical shorts.
Can't Un-Hear It: Just try reading any of the original Segar newspaper comics without hearing the voices of Jack Mercer, Mae Questel, Gus Wicke or Jackson Beck for their respective characters.
Crazy Awesome: Popeye, given the sheer level of insanity of some of his feats.
Designated Hero: In "Weight For Me", Popeye and Brutus return from a naval tour of duty to find that Olive Oil has put on a lot of weight in their absence. Popeye is openly appalled at her size and demands she loses weight immediately, even though she repeatedly tells him she doesn't want to and that she find his exercise routines exhausting. The episode presents his actions as loving but he comes off as a shallow jerk. Compare this to Brutus, who is just as, if not more, attracted to her fat as he was when she was skinny, spends the day trying to do romantic things for her and rightfully tells Popeye that if Olive didn't want to lose weight then he had no right to try and make her. That being said , no one can argue that Olive might be dangerously overweight and could have health complications if Popeye haven't force her to exercise.
Popeye: "I feels exter happy now on account of I done a good deed." (Popeye watches kid walk off with free hotdogs)
Fridge Horror: If you know a little about the chemistry of spinach. Spinach and its relatives are high in compounds called oxalates, which when ingested repeatedly over a long enough period of time, precipitate calcium from the blood to yield calcium oxalate, the main component of kidney stones. Ouch. Interestingly, the supposed reason for Popeye's super strength was the amount of iron in spinach. The oxalates would still negate this by binding to the iron to form iron(II) oxalate.
Franchise Original Sin: Zig zagged with the cliches of Popeye and Bluto's love triangle with Olive being a plot point, as well as Popeye eating his spinach as an 11th hour power up in the animated cartoons. Many fans consider them honored series traditions that make for a variety of funny situations and exciting climatic fights (and having shorts with variations on the formula certainly helped—as well as the fact that more than half of the Fleischer era Popeyes had episodes where either Bluto, the spinach, or sometimes both, were absent), while critics, particularly fans of the Segar comics (where the spinach and Bluto barely ever appeared), deride the former as tired and formulaic, and the latter as a predictable Deus ex Machina.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In one cartoon Bluto destroys the world's spinach supply with an powerful herbicide made from DDT. What it's called in the cartoon, Drop Dead Twice, proved to be an appropriate name for the real DDT, at least with regards to birds.
Genius Bonus: From one of the later theatrical shorts, "Insect to Injury" (1956), one gag involves the termites eating Popeye's piano, revealing a harp hidden inside it. Music history fans will take note that the harp was in fact a direct precursor to the piano.
The theatrical cartoon series got off to a strong start, but the series really crystallized when Jack Mercer took over the role of Popeye from "King of the Mardi Gras" and onward.
For the Segar comics, Popeyes introduction was where Thimble Theatre truly found its footing, and in turn Its run with Popeye reached its creative peak with the critically acclaimed "Plunder Island" story arc.
Harsher in Hindsight: In one cartoon (that will likely never be shown again) Popeye has a water pistol that he plans to give to Swee Pea that looks like a real gun (even he says so) and threatens Bluto with it as a joke. (Modern viewers probably know how unfunny such a joke is nowadays.) Even worse, two scenes later, Olive threatens Bluto with a real gun when he tries to hit on her, and a prophetic demonstration of why Popeye's joke wasn't funny, Bluto thinks she's pulling the same joke he did. (She isn't. Fortunately for him in this case, Cartoon Physics still apply.)
During the Fleischer era, the shorts (which began in 1933) were executive produced by "Adolph" Zukornote The founder of Paramount Pictures, the company that originally released all of the theatrical shorts. (spelled with a "ph", but still).
In "It's the Natural Thing to Do", Popeye, Olive and Bluto receive a telegram from their fan club to cut out the rough stuff every once in a while and act etiquette. They proceed so, only for them to go back to their fighting routine shortly later. Decades later, Popeye and Bluto aren't allowed to punch each other anymore.
In "Lost and Foundry", Olive, worried about Sweepea being hurt inside the factory, says "He'll be killed to death!"
In his first adventure in the comics, after Popeye had saved everyone, Olive notes to herself that she would kiss him if he wasn't so funny looking. note At the time, Popeye was never intended to be a regular character, and Olive was dating another guy named Ham Gravy Of course, she eventually does later, and the rest is history.
Lifting the entire Earth, matching Atlas the titan.
Using a lasso to pull the Grand Canyon together just so he could reach Bluto.
Punching Bluto so hard it distorts the flow of time and de-ages Bluto back into a baby.
Leaping to the clouds to punch out jet fighters with his bare hands.
Chewing up steel girders and spitting the metal fragments out as bullets, nails, and rivets.
Punching a mountain, utterly shattering it and reducing it into a hill, because it was obstructing his view.
Punching several wild animals, including alligators and leopards, so hard, they are reduced into fur coats and leather products instantly.
Built seven battleships from scratch in a matter of seconds.
Breaking the fourth wall. Once a boy in the audience threw some spinach to him through the screen. He promptly used his strength to hit Bluto so hard the poor man was sent through the Fourth Wall and landed in the audience.
Bill Blackbeard, in an essay reprinted in Dick Lupoff and Don Thompson's All In Color For A Dime, declares Popeye the first comic superhero. His main characteristic when he first appeared was his indestructibility.
The Bobby London Popeye comics take Popeye's Nigh-InvulnerabilityUp to Eleven in the "Popeye's Apocalypse" story arc, where Popeye survives all of existence being wiped out by the Supreme Jeep. His only explanation for this is "I eats me spinach."
Everybody knows at least the first verse of Popeye's iconic theme song and its many parodies, even if they only have passing knowledge of the cartoons. Note that it was a meme well before the internet came about.
Popeye's love of spinach has also become a cliche that's ripe for parody and references.
"I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
Narm: The live action segments in the 1935 short "The Adventures of Popeye", where a little boy wearing what looks like a blouse is picked on by a bully who calls him a "sissy', are unintentionally hilarious enough to make up for the fact that it's a Clip Show episode. Particularly hilarious is the badly-dubbed voice of the child bully, who sounds more like an adult. It becomes obvious that the Fleischers were much better at directing animation than live action.
Rooting for the Empire: Some fans' reaction to the racist episode "Big Chief Ugh-Amugh." The Chief, though expressing his desire for a bride earlier through song, didn't actually say anything to Olive about it or make her stay. Instead, he gave her some gifts. She wanted to stay, and it was Popeye who appeared and started picking fights and insulting people.
Popeye's four nephews, who are generally considered to be annoying and shrill, and don't have any real personality going for them other than being Popeye's bratty wards. Fortunately, their appearances are mostly exclusive to the Famous shorts (and still rather sporadic in that case) and a handful of the later Fleischer Popeyes.
Shorty, a botched attempt at a new buddy for Popeye in the early Famous shorts, is also disliked by fans, mainly due to him being an unlikable, annoying character and being a constant nuisance to Popeye due to his sheer incompetence. He only appeared in three shorts, and was mercifully abandoned afterwards.
Seasonal Rot: By the mid-1940s, the Famous Studios Popeye shorts became increasingly formulaic and stale, and the timing and animation took a hit in quality. By the 50's, the series went through such a clear budget crunch that they were forced to make an excessive amount of clip show episodes or remakes of older shorts. Roughly 17% of all Popeye theatrical cartoons from both Fleischer and Famous Studios were either remakes, semi-remakes or clip shows, that's roughly 38 cartoons in all! However roughly only 3% (4 total) of the Fleischer cartoons qualify, whereas a whopping 28% (roughly 34) qualify for Famous Studios.
Signature Scene: Any time Popeye eats a can of spinach to power up and save the day.
So Bad, It's Good: The made for tv Al Brodax Popeye cartoons, which are usually regarded as being embarrassingly cheesy and cheap cartoons, even for the sixties. "Popeye and the Giant" particularly stands out, not only for its lousy animation and outrageous bloopers, but its incomprehensible story ideas and truly terrible film editing. One animator, Frank Gladstone, was even quoted saying he watched them to learn how not to make cartoons.
"They stylized down the characters, which is okI actually used to watch the cartoons to figure out what not to dohow not to time, how not to handle the different levels of cels, don't cut that corner because it's gonna be too obvious, 'cause the corners they cut were unbelievable."
To give an idea of just how helter skelter the Al Brodax cartoons are, here's a rundown; the Paramount episodes are considered decent (considering they were done by the same staff who animated the Popeye cartoons for decades) despite the shoestring budgets, but the Jack Kinney episodes (such as the aforementioned "Popeye and the Giant") tend to be considered the absolute worst of the series. The Larry Harmon episodes are so cheap that they often have almost no animation at all. The two episodes with Ozzie Evans animating are considered the sloppiest—In one or another of the Popeyes he animated, you saw "speed lines" on stationary characters, scenes reversed left-to-right to change the direction, but forgetting it also reversed the lettering on the background, and Brutus's voice coming out of Popeye's mouth and vice versa! The Gene Deitch episodes are all over the place—for example, in "Sea No Evil", there's a blooper where Popeye is swimming to make a boat go faster, and the background isn't even moving!
Special Effect Failure: In the recoloured version of Popeye In Goonland, the scene with the film break completely removes all but the film being repaired, creating an image that looks like the film is magically knitting together. Unfortunately, the original black-and-white version has been lost.
Granted, Poopdeck Pappy's grouchy misogynism towards Olive Oyl in the original Segar comics was never portrayed in a positive light, but this aspect of his personality would never fly in a contemporary comic.
The short "I Yam What I Yam" portrays Native Americans in a very racist light. Popeye and Bluto are also frequently quite sexist in their treatment of Olive Oyl, who usually doesn't seem to mind.
"You're A Sap, Mr. Jap". "Jap" itself is a horrible ethnic slur. Of course, ALL Wartime Cartoons back then had the Japanese portrayed that way.
Popeye's also beaten up Mexicans, Japanese, African natives, and the like — he's equal opportunity when it comes to brawling.
Popeye's killing of animals can come off as more disturbing then funny today, especially when they're animals like elephants or rhinos who are endangered species now.
Values Resonance: Popeye's love of spinach and the way it gives him super strength to beat up baddies has been used by many a parent as a way to encourage children to eat their vegetables.
Anti-Climax: Considering all the abuse Bluto puts the main cast through, you'd think it would be building to an epic brawl ending (source material notwithstanding). Yet, in the final confrontation Popeye punches him... once. Just once. Its Played for Laughs but you can't help but feel underwhelmed.
Broken Base: Popeye avoids eating spinach until he's force-fed with it and discovers it makes him super. MAD magazine's parody of the film lasted for just one page, with the cartoon Popeye putting it to a stop for sheer ridiculousness. Though Popeye's association with spinach is more due to the cartoons than the original comic strip where Popeye is super-strong and indestructible on his own.
Bill Irwin as Ham Gravy in the live-action movie; he was an absolute nobody in 1980.
Also, Dennis Franz as Spike, one of the toughs in Sweethaven.
Special Effect Failure: The octopus — the climax was shot late in production, by which time the whole movie had gone well over budget, and Paramount wasn't willing to lay out more money for more convincing practical effects work.