Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / Shrek

Go To

Shrek! (Book)

  • Adaptation Displacement: Few people know of its existence and those who do normally discover it via the movie.
  • Common Knowledge:
    • Shrek is Not Evil, Just Misunderstood is the takeaway from the film but in the book Shrek is every bit the monster heís said to be and proud of it.
    • In the book, Fiona is not an ogre like Shrek, and there is no curse. She's just a particularly ugly human woman.

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".
  • 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.
    • When Shrek brings Fiona to Duloc, Lord Farquaad keeps his end of the bargain by giving him the deed to his swamp and clearing out the encampment of fairy tale creatures. Was this because Farquaad, as despicable as he otherwise is, at least has some sense of honor? Was it to try and make himself look good to Fiona? Or did he think it would be unwise to pointlessly antagonize an ogre who he'd personally seen defeat a large number of skilled knights almost single-handedly?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The appearance of Robin Hood and his Merry Men in the first movie. In addition to having no bearing on the plot, the scene also turns the traditionally-English Robin Hood into a French Jerk stereotype for no clear reason, and the scene ends with Princess Fiona revealing herself to be a One-Man Army and single-handedly defeating all the Merry Men despite her never displaying anything remotely close to such skill at any other point.
  • 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.
    • Dreamworks' heavy reliance on pop-culture references for humour was already evident in both Shrek and Shrek 2, but most viewers didn't see this as a problem because they were generally cleverly written jokes and the movies still had strong stories with interesting characters. Later Dreamworks movies, including the later sequels, would come to rely more and more on references as a crutch at the expense of coherent plots or character depth, and it would come to be seen as one of their movies' greatest weaknesses. It also helped that the references in the first two movies were largely based on iconic children's stories that the target audience would easily recognize. Many later Dreamworks movies would be built around references to things that kids would be unlikely to have even seen, like Shark Tale homaging mob movies or the dialogue in Bee Movie imitating Jerry Seinfeld's stand-up, while at the same time being too juvenile to appeal to adults, leaving it unclear who the jokes were even supposed to be appealing to.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Lord Farquaad's emblem, a large white F against a blue background, predates the Facebook logo by three years. Made even funnier after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg used an extra-large cushion to appear taller during a Congressional Hearing, much like Farquaad's numerous attempts to obfuscate his short stature.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • The CGI itself also falls into this. in 2001, the animation for the movie was arguably much more visually appealing than Pixar at the time, thanks in part to making the environments and lighting more lived-in than the comparatively clean-looking Monsters, Inc. released around the same time. With PDI also managing to get the look of the various fluid and fire effects down before Pixar could achieve it in their films (PDI were, at the time anyhow, primarily a VFX company. And specialized in such effects). Flash forward to 20+ years on and almost everyone, Pixar included, has managed to do everything the film did and more to the point where even amateur hobbyists can achive similar results at home with enough practice.
  • 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.
  • Unintentional 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. Most of the human characters in general can invoke this to a new watcher given the time period the film was produced and released in (late-90s to early-2000s) and human models were still somewhat difficult to manage in CGI.
    • "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.
  • 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.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: The film has swearing and adult jokes and gruesome deaths. Yet kids seem to don't care.


  • 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.
  • Complete Monster:
  • 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.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • Forever After: The Pied Piper is a tall, dark and mysterious Bounty Hunter with an ability to control the form of anything he chooses through use of his flute. His past of overthrowing the Rat King to conquer his kingdom detailed in prequel comics, the Piper is hired in the present by Rumpelstiltskin to hunt down the Ogre rebels, to which the Piper proves himself capable of the job by humiliating Rumpelstiltskin's witch minions. Luring the Ogres into staging an ambush of Rumpelstiltskin's chariot, the Piper disguises himself as Fefe the goose to complete the trap before whipping out his flute and taking control of nearly the entire rebel army, forcing them to "fandango themselves into oblivion" as Rumpelstiltskin's captives.
    • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish:
      • The Wolf introduces himself as a Bounty Hunter come to claim Puss's life. He ends up inflicting a Curb-Stomp Battle on Puss, before letting Puss flee intending to build terror and humiliation in him. Throughout the rest of the film he appears taunting Puss with his presence and psychologically tormenting him. Finally confronting him again, he reveals himself to be Death, come to punish Puss for his arrogance and cavalierness towards his past eight lives. Puss flees again to wish for nine more lives but the Wolf confronts him. Facing his fears, he battles the Wolf and acknowledges that while he can never truly beat the bounty hunter, he'll never stop fighting for this life. Briefly throwing a tantrum, the Wolf quickly calms down, noting that he came to kill an arrogant legend, but he "doesn't see him anymore." Acknowledging they'll meet again, he walks off into the night, whistling.
      • Goldilocks is the leader of a gang of her and three bears. Hoping to find a wishing star, she tracks Puss down so he can help her steal a map to it from Jack Horner, only to find his apparent grave. Deciding to steal the map herself, she ends up there too late as Puss and Kitty have stolen it first. Following them while Jack trails close behind, she ends up in the magical forest where the wishing star resides. She proceeds to use her wits and combat skills to keep the bears on track, especially when they get into conflict with Jack or Puss and Kitty, and eventually reveals her wish is to have a real human family. Hurt by this, the bears still decide to help her, and when given the choice between saving the youngest bear or getting her wish, she chooses the bear. She then decides to help defeat Jack Horner, and afterwards leaves with the three bears to take over Jack's pie empire.
  • 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.
  • 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 (and, to a lesser extent, Shrek the Third) has quite a few fans and defenders as well. The successful release of Puss in Boots: The Last Wish at the end of 2022 also helped bring a lot of people back, especially with the film ending with a Sequel Hook to a potential continuation of the main Shrek franchise, to many a fan's delight.
  • 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 Hungarian version has an extremely clever choice of voice actors and well-adapted cultural references.
    • The voices that they've picked for each of the main characters in Latin American spanish is nothing short of iconic for there, specially in Mexico. Special mention goes for Eugenio Derbez voicing Donkey, who was often a Fountain of Memes.
      • Even the most negatively recieved Shrek The Third was better recieved in Latin America due to the voice cast still giving it their all in funny moments.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: The first Shrek game was rated T by the ESRBnote .