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The First Chapter

  • Accidental Aesop:
    • A Tumblr post once pointed out that the Third-Act Misunderstanding, where Shrek assumes Fiona's disgust with her own ogre form is directed at him, works as a warning for how self-deprecating humor can be Innocently Insensitive to people similar to yourself if it's misunderstood or taken too far.
    • While Lord Farquaad is often mocked for his height, the movie also makes it clear that he's Compensating for Something. Whereas Shrek learns to love himself for who he is, Farquaad denies it until the very end. This can be taken away as "overcompensating for your flaws ironically just makes them more obvious".
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  • Adaptation Displacement: You probably won't find a lot of people who have even heard of Shrek! by William Steig (and if they did, it's likely they first heard of it by watching the credits of a Shrek film). So much was added to this little story that about the only thing it and the movies have in common is...a grumpy ogre named Shrek, a donkey (who is quickly forgotten about), a brief obstacle of a dragon, and a princess.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Sure, Monsieur Hood definitely seemed like a French Jerk, but keep in mind he didn't know Shrek was a good guy. And his men only attacked Fiona in retaliation.
  • Alternative Joke Interpretation: It's arguable if Farquaad was "compensating" for his height or the size of his penis. Or both.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Fiona has been locked in the tower since she was a child, because according to her a witch cursed her, and only a hero willing to rescue her could give her a kiss of true love. We see she's fairly adjusted, despite the fact that Shrek points out how many knights were burned alive while trying to rescue her, and unlike Shrek, they didn't try to approach her tower first. Fiona's actually more upset that her rescuer was an ogre, and she gets over that fairly quickly in one night after hearing Shrek lamenting that no one ever gets a chance to know him. The sequel has Shrek more upset about it than Fiona is, saying that it was wrong for her own parents to put her in a Gilded Cage prison with only Dragon for company. What's even weirder is that the stage play shows Fiona in Go Mad from the Isolation mode due to being locked inside for twenty-three years, and Shrek Forever After shows that Fiona made multiple scratch marks on the wall before busting out as a Broken Bird.
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  • Animation Age Ghetto: Like The Flintstones and The Muppet Show did back in their day, the first Shrek was meant to appeal to both children and adults without seemingly favoring one group over the other, with its edgy humor and pop-culture references giving it a grittier vibe than other animated movies at the time - especially the Disney Animated Canon, which had a reputation for being "squeaky-clean". However, as time went on and Shrek became a Cash Cow Franchise, marketing for the movies became more kid-focused even as the content of the movies was only slightly toned down. This caused the series to eventually gain a reputation of being "for kids", just like what happened to the Flintstones and Muppets. This is reflected in the evolution of the franchise's toyline: the first movie had a line of highly detailed collectibles by McFarlane Toysnote  that could be appreciated by both kids and adults (just like the movie), while the toylines for the sequels (by Hasbro and MGA) were far cheaper and more gimmicky, and no longer targeted the Periphery Demographic of action figure collectors.
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  • Award Snub: There was serious buzz about Eddie Murphy becoming the first voice actor to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, which seemed to be a sure thing after the acclaim and the fact his performance became the very first voice acting role nominated for a BAFTA. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.
  • Badass Decay: Fiona goes from being able to take down Robin Hood's entire band of outlaws...to being helpless against one guard and Lord Farquaad wielding only a small dagger, in the space of half a movie. To be fair, Shrek is also rendered helpless against the guard, but he at least gets some good hits in, which they could've easily let Fiona do. Luckily she gets better in the sequel.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Donkey. He's either hilarious, lovable, and part of the charm and soul of the series, or just plain annoying to the point of being The Load at times, especially in the sequels where his annoying tendencies are flanderized. Overall, the fanbase's opinion of Donkey is much like Shrek's own.
    • Fiona's human form. Some find her design to be adorable, beautiful, sexy, and more conventionally attractive than her ogre form, and wish that human Fiona would make a reappearance of some sort.note  Others find human Fiona to be unnecessarily uncanny due to dated CGI, and not as unique, iconic or endearing as ogre Fiona.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: The film intends to show Shrek's initial reclusive lifestyle as being lonely and unfulfilling, with Shrek needing companionship to find happiness. But the opening scene, by far the most iconic moment of the entire franchise, presents his simple, laid-back life in such a comfortable and fun manner, that many viewers have felt unironically inspired by how Shrek enjoys his own company.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Gingy and Pinocchio are very popular with kids and adults alike despite their secondary role, especially Gingy, whose interrogation scene is considered a highlight of the first movie. For this reason, Gingy is often an Advertised Extra and plays a major role in the TV specials and games, while Pinocchio becomes an Ascended Extra in Shrek: The Musical.
  • Franchise Original Sin: While some people point to the first movie breaking its own "appearances don't matter" message by having the characters mock Lord Farquaad's height, it was a minor thing that could easily be glossed over. Shrek: The Musical made it less minor by making him half-dwarf. Mocking his height, which is a result of him being the son of a dwarf, runs directly counter to the "let your freak flag fly" moral in a way that's significantly more difficult to ignore.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Lord Farquaad's emblem, a large white F against a blue background, predates the Facebook logo by three years.
    • After he reveals to Fiona that he's an ogre, Shrek sarcastically remarks that she must have been expecting Prince Charming. The sequel would later introduce Prince Charming, and reveal that he actually was intended to be Fiona's rescuer.
    • One of the jokes MAD made about the first movie was Donkey and Dragon having half-donkey, half-dragon babies...which is exactly what happened in the second movie.
    • Game of Thrones fans can't help but chuckle at how Jaime Lannister is a dead ringer for Prince Charming. The fun doesn't end there - Tyrion is an eccentric, red-clad Deadpan Snarker dwarf lord just like Farquaad and has a similar voice, Sansa is a redheaded princess like Fiona and even has a similar green dress and hair braid in Season 7, Syrio is a Fantasy Counterpart Culture Spaniardnote  who's proficient with a sword like Puss and compares his style to a cat...
  • Hollywood Homely:
    • Fiona as an ogress. Repeatedly told to be ugly, repulsive, disgusting, every synonym imaginable, in the first movie as well as the sequels. While she certainly looks a bit plump and more frightening, most fans think she does look pretty cute even by ogre standards, and Forever After depicts her as a borderline Amazonian Beauty.
    • How about Shrek himself? His green skin and odd ears don't make him ugly, and aside from that, he looks like an average stocky bald guy with a potbelly. Sure, he's no Prince Charming but he hardly lives up to the Mirror-Cracking Ugly hype he gets In-Universe.
  • Hype Backlash: While there are few who would call the film outright terrible, some feel that while this film has some good jokes, there are other films who did the "snarky fairy tale deconstruction" better such as The Princess Bride, The Emperor's New Groove, and even this film's own sequel, and thus see it as more So Okay, It's Average than the masterpiece of comedy many build it up to be. That said, everyone agrees the first film is much better than Shrek the Third.
  • It Was His Sled: If you've seen the other movies or other adaptations after the first film, you'd know Fiona is also an ogre and she marries Shrek.
  • Love to Hate: Lord Farquaad is possibly the most beloved villain in the series for his cool voice and for being Laughably Evil, which is only helped by his omnipresence as Shrek's antithesis in Brogre memes.
  • Memetic Badass: Brogre memes depict Shrek as a bizarre supreme deity who is able to kill and maim bullies and non-believers with ease.
  • Memetic Molester:
    • In the Brogres' copypasta stories, many of Shrek's blessings and powers are activated through intercourse of some sort, which is depicted as immensely pleasurable for his followers and painful for his enemies. By proxy, Donkey, Fiona and Puss have seen their share of this when they appear.
    • Lord Farquaad gets a fair share of this as well. Considering that he's all but straight-up stated to be jacking off to Fiona's image on the magic mirror in the bed scene, it's not exactly an unreasonable interpretation.
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own page.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The first thing that Lord Farquaad does in the film is have the poor Gingerbread Man waterboarded in milk as an interrogation technique and has his legs ripped off. A Freeze-Frame Bonus also reveals that he had Mama Bear killed and turned into his personal rug. The moment when he's truly made 100% irredeemably evil comes right at the film's climax when upon Fiona's reveal, he calls her "disgusting" and splits her from Shrek, assuring the latter that he will be sentenced to a life of torture and will be begging for death to save him, and tells Fiona that she'll be locked back in her tower for the rest of her life, all while threatening her with a knife to her throat. He truly deserved getting eaten by a dragon shortly after.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Robin Hood and his merry men get a lot of attention from fans despite their very brief screen time.
    • Donkey's original owner who tries trading him in to Lord Farquaad's men, notable for being voiced by Kathleen Freeman in her final role before her death.
  • Signature Scene: Many a meme has been made from the opening scene, showing Shrek emerging from an outhouse and going through his morning routine, all set to "All-Star" by Smash Mouth.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: When the first Shrek movie came out, it was considered a witty and refreshing break from the then-formulaic Disney Animated Canon fare, and it put DreamWorks Animation on the map. Nowadays Shrek's often blamed for killing traditional animated films and starting a trend of rather mediocre CGI fims overly reliant on Anachronism Stew, World of Snark and innuendo. It didn't help that DreamWorks would not only give Shrek three sequels, but rehash the formula for most of their other films until they Grew the Beard with Kung Fu Panda. Other studios then followed suit - instead of making Shrek ripoffs, they started more frequently producing original and well-liked CGI movies. Even Disney, the very firm Jeff Katzenberg sought to overthrow, would eventually make a return to sincere fairy tale films, having not only learned from this film but, arguably, improving on its humor and style.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The main theme, "Fairytale", bears more than a passing resemblance to "Nocturne", the 1995 Eurovision Song Contest winner. The leitmotif also sounds a lot like that of "Fire Treasure" and its variations from 1979's The Castle of Cagliostro. It's arguably most noticeable in "Variation 3"; it even plays when Lupin is rescuing a princess locked in a tower.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Human Fiona, one of the many reasons some people prefer Fiona's ogre form over her human form. The CGI for her human character model hasn't aged well, especially when you see it again in the sequel, which featured much more cartoony looking humans. This carries over to Harold and Lillian when they appear in subsequent sequels. This is downplayed in that most fans still find all three characters to be likable and endearing. Conversely, ogre Fiona can evoke this reaction in the first movie, especially in first-time viewers, due to some people being so accustomed to Fiona as a human.
    • "Shrek's Merry Fairy Tale Journey", a Theme Park Version retelling of the first movie at Motiongate Dubai, depicts the characters as giant animatronic marionettes that unironically evoke the deliberately uncanny animatronics from Five Nights at Freddy's. It's probably for the better that human Fiona (described above) and Snow White, the most realistic human characters, have unmoving faces and mouths.
    • The "technical goofs" video shows some characters with horrifyingly misshapen faces and bodies.
  • Ugly Cute: Shrek, Donkey and most of the other characters follow this design philosophy, with grotesque, exaggerated features but enough charm and personality to make them lovable. Taken Up to Eleven with ogre Fiona, who's less conventionally attractive than human Fiona but looks even cuter in spite of that fact.

Franchise-wide

  • Broken Base: How the films should be regarded for their quality and influence, especially over time. There's little doubt that Shrek was far more universally beloved in its heyday, and that most people consider more emotional and story-based animated moviesnote  to be superior. That said, there are those who consider the movies (especially the first two) to be just as fun and lovable as they were in the day, those who consider the series So Okay, It's Average, and those who find the series to be overrated and unendearing. The latter two camps generally consider the unanimous praise of the first two Shrek movies to be a product of circumstance, due to the fact that the Disney Animated Canon was running dry at the time. Members of all three camps (even those who enjoy Shrek on its own merits) bemoan how the series killed traditional animation and caused animated movies to become more crass and gag-based, but whether it retroactively ruins the series itself is a matter of debate.
  • Crack Pairing: Plenty of fans seem to enjoy shipping Donkey with Puss in Boots for some odd reason, despite Donkey already being Happily Married to Dragon.
  • Crossover Ship: Thanks to the power of memes, there's plenty of people who ship Shrek with Shadow The Hedgehog. Why, you might ask? Your guess is as good as ours.
  • Friendly Fandoms: A very strange one has popped up with Dragon Ball Z, mostly because of both series' memetic status as well as the fact that Shrek and Goku are both Memetic Badassesnote  and were frequently treated as Those Two Guys in terms of Joke Character suggestions for the Super Smash Bros. series.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: To this day, the first two movies are very popular in Poland (and, to a lesser extent, Russia), mainly due to Superlative Dubbing and Woolseyism.
  • Memetic Psychopath: Some "Shrek is Love Shrek is Life" variants depict Shrek as a blood thirsty slaughterer, almost always depicted in a positive light and pseudo-serious religious tone for Black Comedy purposes.
  • Periphery Demographic: All four films were written with family audiences in mind, meaning lots of slapstick humor for the kids and pop-culture references, innuendo and Parental Bonus for adults. And then you have the Brogres, who jokingly worship the franchise and treat it as a form of higher art (and even a religion).
  • Popularity Polynomial: At its peak, Shrek was a franchise as big as the green ogre himself. The original Shrek won the first Oscar for Best Animated Feature, and Shrek 2 became one of the highest-grossing films at the time. After that, the franchise's formula quickly grew stale as it spawned a host of mediocre imitators, which seeped back into Shrek itself with the poor reviews of Shrek the Third. This led to the downfall of Shrek-style "snarky" animated movies and the rise of more drama-based animated movies such as How to Train Your Dragon and Frozen. However, Memetic Mutation led to an upsurge of ironic popularity for the Shrek series, which eventually grew into unironic popularity as its fans grew up and revisited the movies, and were able to appreciate them anew due to their wittiness and 2000s nostalgia. As of the late new tens, while not to the level of the early noughties, the first two Shrek movies are well-liked and appreciated as modern classics, and Shrek Forever After has quite a few fans and defenders as well.
  • Recurring Fanon Character: Brogre memes frequently feature Drek, a blue Evil Knockoff of Shrek, as their equivalent of Satan. Because Lord Farquaad is also an antagonistic figure in Brogre "mythology", his relationship with Drek varies Depending on the Writer, from Drek being a disguise for Farquaad to Farquaad being The Dragon to Drek.
  • Sequelitis: This is the general consensus for Third. Fans are divided between whether Forever After is just as bad as Third or better. Reception has been much warmer for Forever After than for Third, however.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: One of the sources for fuel for the Shrek series, the general disdain directed towards Michael Eisner, was effectively cut off when Eisner was removed from Disney the year after the second Shrek movie hit theaters, along with other studios, including Disney, trying and failing at the Fractured Fairy Tale trend; Kung Fu Panda's critical and commercial success along with Disney Animation making another comeback sounded the death knell for this idea (the final Shrek film actually took itself more seriously with Rumpelstiltskin alone, and the Puss in Boots spinoff took on more of a high fantasy and adventure tone).
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: "Welcome to Duloc" has the same rhythm as "It's a Small World After All", fitting for a song welcoming you to a Disneyland pastiche.
  • So Okay, It's Average: Third and Forever After are considered this by fans and critics, with Forever After as the slightly better one of the two.
  • Superlative Dubbing: The Polish version is arguably funnier than the original, at least to Poles.
    • Same applies to the Hungarian version, with an extremely clever choice of voice actors and well-adapted cultural references.
    • Banderas does the Spanish versions (European and Latin American) too - with an Andalusian accent.
    • The Dutch version was also pretty good with the Woolseyism.
    • Zig-Zagged with the Latin American localization, as it sports heavy Mexican accents, idioms, and at times jokes a little too localized, which made the movies right down unbearable for some non-Mexicans. At the same time, however, it's extremely popular in countries such as Chile and Argentina, and has become a beloved Fountain of Memes in its own right, the change in the Waxing Lyrical interrogation scene in the first film from "The Muffin Man" to "Pin Pon"note  - culminating in Farquaad yelling at Gingerbread about Pin Pon's daily grooming habits - being one particularly remembered example.
      • The same problem occurred with the French version; while very well-localized for the French, it was considered incomprehensible by people in Quebec and some parts of France (to the point that one Québécois politician attempted to pass a bill requiring Quebec French dubbing for all movies after seeing Shrek the Third in French).
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: All four movies have this to some extent, with occasional mild cursing and direct references to adult situations such as drunkenness.

Video games:

Examples for Shrek SuperSlam go here.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • After Shrek Forever After has been released, it is rather hilarious to frequently fight witches in an adaptation of the preceding film.
    • In the first game, Humpty Dumpty and a giant mother goose appear in the same level.
    • The Big Bad of the very first game is Merlin, who becomes a supporting good guy in Shrek the Third.
  • It's Easy, So It Sucks!: Frequently the case with these games. A shame, because in Shrek The Third at least, there actually was a decent amount of effort put into the enemy design and variety, but it goes to naught because of overly powerful Regenerating Health and enemies not dealing sufficient amount of damage.
  • Polished Port: The Gamecube port of the 2001 game, Shrek: Extra Large, ironed out a number of the kinks in the Xbox original.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Many of the games have received consistently tepid reviews in the territory between low 50's and high 60's on Metacritic. Some of the earlier games, such as Shrek: Fairy Tale Freakdown (which got an abysmal 0.5/10), Shrek: Super Party, Shrek: Swamp Kart Speedway and even the very first licensed game, are considered absolutely horrid.
  • No Problem with Licensed Games:
    • The rare Shrek games that aren't considered absolutely terrible are usually considered fun licensed games in their own right. Notable examples include Shrek 2 and Shrek SuperSlam.
    • The pinball machine has also been received pretty well, being ranked 93rd overall on the Internet Pinball Database with a 7.8 average rating out of 10 and earns a good amount of money in public. It may have been a Palette Swap of Family Guy, but it had better sales too.
  • So Bad, It's Good: Because Shrek is so egregious in meme culture, watching and playing the games, even - or especially - the really bad ones can be a riot.
  • Uncanny Valley: The characters' mugshots in "Fairy Tale Freakdown" try too hard to emulate the CGI of the film, and while it could work in other consoles such as the GBA, it was released on the 8-bit Game Boy Color.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: The first Shrek game was rated T by the ESRBnote .

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