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  • Accidental Innuendo:
    • Given how much the writers enjoy Getting Crap Past the Radar and loading the show down with Ho Yay, this may not actually be accidental, but the slang term isn't widely known outside the fanfic community ... a wildcat known as the Red Rhodesian Slasher?
    • The episode "Time's Out" had Kowalski invent an interdimensional toothbrush. It's pretty much a giant toothbrush coming out of a wormhole, brushing the teeth of whoever stands infront of it. The toothbrush's movement in Kowalski's mouth looks rather... suggestive.
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  • Adorkable: Kowalski, being the somewhat awkward, yet endearing brains of the group. Especially pronounced when he is excited about science.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: One of the implications of how the other penguins behave around Rico is reminiscent of that of an adult with a learning or developmental disorder - when he loses control they seem just as concerned that he might hurt himself as others. Significantly, in "Kaboom And Kabust", Skipper's lines describe serious concern for Rico's safety, with the penguins all implying that he's not fully responsible for his own actions, while Julien's behaviour in this episode is highly manipulative, taking advantage of Rico for his own personal amusement. Julien even describes himself as Rico's enabler at one point. An enabler is a person who encourages or enables negative or self-destructive behaviour in another.
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  • Awesome Music: The intro music for The Penguin Who Loved Me.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Doris. Deliberate heartbreaker, or a flawed character whose fickle nature has her making the same mistakes over and over, but still likeable enough?
    • King Julien. Plenty of people find his Large Ham antics entertaining, others are somewhat annoyed by his presence and attitude, especially since his involvement in the series doesn't make any chronological sense.
  • Bellisario's Maxim: The penguins can't read and need to consult Phil and Mason to read for them. Except for all the times when they clearly can read when it's important for a joke.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Subverted in "Eclipsed." King Julien gets a big, long musical number about his "congaga." Although this musical number has all the trappings of a BLAM in its over-the-top, out-of-nowhere-ness (keep in mind the show almost never does musical numbers), it sets up the plot.
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  • Cant Unhear It: Jeff Bennett and James Patrick Stuart's performances as Kowalski and Private were so well received that many people thought they should've been brought back for Penguins of Madagascar instead of Chris Miller and Christopher Knights.
  • Cargo Ship: Julien has repeatedly flirted with Rico's Miss Perky doll and has had some slight narcissistic Ho Yay with @Lemmy', the robotic Lemur. Kowalski had a thing for Officer X's animal control van, and the sentient gel-o that is Jiggles.
  • Cliché Storm: After a while, the plots become very generic and predictable, not that it really keeps the show from being enjoyable.
  • Crazy Awesome: Rico, obviously. But rest of the penguins, except for maybe Private, count as well. How else do you call a badass military officer who is extremely paranoid about everything and a Mad Scientist who is also a Badass Bookworm?
  • Designated Villain:
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • King Julien. While certainly one of the funniest characters in the show who does have redeeming qualities, he's also a Jerkass who constantly abuses Maurice and Mort while ruining everyone else's lives at the drop of a hat for his own selfish gain or momentary satisfaction. Despite this see Launcher of a Thousand Ships below...
    • All the penguins are insane, but Rico is especially popular among Shippers, despite being the lowest intellectually, by far the most violent, and psychotic even by Skipper's standards.
  • Fandom Rivalry: When "In the Happy Little Land of Hoboken Surprise" took the Emmy Award for Best Original Song, the Brony community wasn't pleased as it won against two of FIM's songs.
  • Fanon:
    • Even though the show is confirmed to take place in an Alternate Continuity from the Madagascar movies, many argue that the events of the first and second movie are still canon, especially considering Alex's involvement in "The Revenge of Dr. Blowhole".
    • The penguins are brothers. This is never really made clear in the series, but is usually accepted in the fandom, even some fan wikias outright state it as a fact. Their movie officially goes with the idea of them being adopted brothers.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Most fans brushed "Otter Woman" under the rug, for the clear Idiot Plot and Marlene somehow being mistaken for her own murderer and getting punished for it, even though she did nothing to deserve it.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: All the jokes in "The Hoboken Surprise" about Hoboken being a terrible place are a lot less amusing after Hurricane Sandy. Or Hurricane Irene, for that matter (the episode literally aired a week before the latter storm hit).
  • Genius Bonus: In Cute-astrophe Skipper says he can "smell an anecdote from 1.6 klicks away". One klick equals one kilometer. One mile is 1.6 kilometers. Even in klicks Skipper hates the metric system.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The show is very popular in Poland, partly due to Superlative Dubbing. The fact that one of the main characters has a Polish surname likely helps.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Possibly one of the most triumphant examples in Western Animation; in "Hello Dollface", Private is berated for his love of Lunacorn toys, because it's meant to be a girl's toynote . When did this episode air? October 9, 2010. Exactly ONE day later...
      • To say nothing of the fact that Tara Strong voices the Lunacorn doll.
    • Hans mentioned that he kissed Skipper's sister but Skipper claimed that he doesn't have a sister. Given the similarities Skipper has with Clover, one would wonder what would Skipper say if he met her.
    • At one point in "The Return of the Revenge of Dr. Blowhole," Alex and Skipper sing a song called "We Are the Penguins".
    • X saying that his mom never told him his name, saying it was "Classified" becomes even funnier when the Penguins meet a character named "Classified" in the movie. Or at least, they think his name is "Classified".
    • The Penguins-and especially Skipper's-low opinion of mammals in general and humans in particular very much becomes this when you realize who and what eventually took over as DreamWorks' top agents.
  • Ho Yay Shipping: The show has its own Ho Yay page as it is, but the level of subtext between Kowalski and Rico is the highest thanks to how often they are paired.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • One episode features a poison dart frog with such potent venom that the slightest touch renders one temporarily paralytic and with a comical rash; he uses this power to keep all the other animals at his pettiest whim. Private eventually knocks up a protective suit that will allow him to give the slimy little chap a nice big hug. Barry contemplates if he's really a jerk, but decides that yes, he likes hugs more.
    • Officer X. His antagonism toward the penguins is because they thwarted him in the process of doing his job.(In their defense, they WERE protecting someone they considered a friend) While you can't blame the penguins for trying to keep themselves safe, anytime he's not opposing the penguins, he's really just doing his job, and his "reward" for this is constant public humiliation and scorn.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships:
    • King Julien, hands down. Not only do fans pair him up with Mort and Maurice, but every single penguin too. The show provides plenty of chances. It's only a matter of time before they pair him with himself.
    • As the closest thing the show has to a female lead, Marlene has been paired with every character, though pairing her off with Skipper is by far and away the most popular.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Know who else mutates memes? THE RED SQUIRREL!
    • "When [insert something here]" "Kowalski, analysis."
    • ""Skipper Stops Racism"", a bizarre fanfic which was created as a response to 4chan's banning anyone who says the n-word, became a big source of memes:
      • "Not if I have anything to say about it! And I do - I'm gonna say the N-word!"
      • "MRS. OBAMA GET DOWN!"
      • "Not if I have anything to say about it, Trump. And I do - Prepare for my civil rights beam!"
      • "Well boys, we did it! Racism is no more!"
      • "I'd like to give you the N-Word pass"
    • "Well, this sucks."
    • The scene from "Time Out" where Kowalski uses a transdimensional toothbrush is a bit of a minor one, mostly because of how... wrong it looks.
  • Moe: Private, being the youngest and nicest member of the main team, is often seen as this by the fans. He is even seen as very cute in-universe, to the point his cuteness can be literally weaponized.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Dr. Blowhole letting Skipper fall into the ocean (after erasing his memories, no less), relishing the fact he won't remember how to swim and likely drown.
    • Kuchikukan crossed it by destroying several planets For the Evulz, and trying to destroy Earth as well.
  • More Popular Spin-Off: While the Madagascar movies were somewhat of a success, they each have their own Broken Base about which one is the best/least bad one, with the series as a whole being seen as So Okay, It's Average. You won't find anyone badmouthing this series, with many praising it for it's witty humour, excellent use of pre-established characters and cohesive storytelling.
  • Older Than They Think: While some might think Rico's Flanderization for coughing up weapons originates in this series, it was used twice. First in the Christmas special where he pulls out a stick of dynamite (though even then he's struggling) and a Game Boy Advance video game called Operation Penguin, where he would casually burp out each new weapon for Private.
  • Periphery Demographic: Many teens and young adults like the show.
  • Popular with Furries: This series has a furry fanbase due to Julien, Marlene and the penguins themselves.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: "Skilene" for Skipper/Marlene, by far the most common shipping.
  • Self-Fanservice: Humanized fanart turns the penguins into attractive black-haired men of various ages. Rico is hit with it the most, while his dopey facial features, feather streaks and scar make him look somewhat Ugly Cute, humanized Rico is a case of Cute and Psycho. Or even Sexy and Psycho.
  • Shipping:
    • Despite the fact that Marlene is the only regular female character, and despite them having nothing in common, Skipper and Marlene is still far and away the most common fanfic pairing for them...
    • ... when the penguins aren't being paired with each other.
  • Ship Tease: Despite how much Ho Yay Rico has with Kowalski, he still gets some tease with Marlene, with the suggestion that Marlene actually likes how excitable he can be, such as in "Jungle Law" when he uses her as a boomerang and she finds it fun, and "The Otter Woman" when he thinks 'Arlene' is attractive. Since Rico is the only Penguin who doesn't have a canon living girlfriend, this has resulted in a small fandom for those who want to try something new.
  • Squick: In Friend-in-a-Box, Julien happily tells Kowalski that he never learned the Potty Dance, because as king he's entitled to go wherever he happens to be at the time. Kowalski backs away from him with a disturbed look.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: "Paternal Egg-Stinct" uses one of "Brahms's Lullaby."
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: Both Private and Mort tend to fall into this sometimes. Especially when they play it up.
  • Ugly Cute: Rico. While he isn't that ugly, he is designed in a slightly more cartoony manner than his already cartoony comrades and he has a flatter face, a scar, bigger beak and double chin... and yet he is absolutely adorable, mostly because of how expressive he is.
  • Uncanny Valley: While the penguins look okay, the lemurs really do not translate well into the new, lower-budget CGI art style. King Julien and Maurice barely even resemble their movie counterparts, and Mort in particular is pretty scary-looking.
  • The Woobie: Poor, poor Leonard the koala.


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