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"Cute and cuddly, boys!"—Skipper
A spin-off of the Madagascar films currently airing on Nickelodeon. It is an All CGI Cartoon featuring the penguins of the Madagascar film series (Skipper, Rico, Kowalski, Private), as well as the lemurs (King Julien, Maurice and Mort) and chimpanzees Mason and Phil. A new character, Marlene the otter, is placed in several episodes, and various other characters appear, while Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria from the films are not shown at all. Private, Kowalski, Maurice and King Julien have all had their voice actors replaced with some names you might recognize just the same.
In it, the titular penguins and other aforementioned characters are all residents of the Central Park Zoo. Led by Skipper, the penguins deal with various missions within the zoo. At times, they are at odds with Incidental Villain King Julien, but at other times, he and the other two lemurs are needed to help in the missions.
The show is very much in an Alternate Continuity, but as its own vehicle it manages to stand up rather well. The series premiere drew 6.1 million viewers, setting a new record for viewership on the network.
The Penguins of Madagascar includes examples of the following tropes:
- Acceptable Targets: In-universe, Hoboken, NJ.
Skipper: I am not vacationing in New Jersey's own Ninth Portal of Hades!
- Achievements in Ignorance: The penguins have trouble removing a hornet nest. They discover that Mort isn't hurt by the hornets because he is protected by a "halo of ignorance". Kowalski uses a machine to drain their minds of bad thoughts so that they could then deal with the hornets. Hilarity Ensues.
- Adaptation Expansion: Sort of. There are several new characters, but at the expense of four main characters from Madagascar proper.
- All CGI Cartoon
- Allergic to Love: Rico and his "mushy love sensitivity" is the perfect example.
- All Just a Dream: The ending of "Wishful Thinking" makes it seem like the events of the episode were just that, until Bert the Elephant is seen holding a french bread and wearing a beret.
- All That Glitters: Subverted. The Lost Treasure of the Golden Squirrel is in fact a room full of gold.
Julien: This is real treasure, right? Not one of those "friendship is the greatest treasure of all" deals? Because you can't trade friendship for, you know, the goods and the services.
- All Your Powers Combined: Eggy the duck was cared for by the penguins as an egg, which involved training. As a result after hatching, the duckling possessed all of the penguins' skills and personality traits. At the end, King Julien teaches Eggy how to dance, which also results in him mimicking Julien's Buffy-Speak.
- Alternate Continuity: This is how producer Tom McGrath (who is also Skipper's VA) sees this series in association with the films. It's been established that the lemurs are still from Madagascar, and that the penguins have been there, but it's never explained how or why they returned.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Hornets and rats.
- Ambiguously Gay: King Julien is this incarnate, complete with imaginary girlfriends. He also declared that he was given a diamond necklace by the Sky Spirits for "kicking up the fabulous, baby!" Complete with air-humping.
Julien: To impress this girly monkey, you must sweep her off her feet. That is how I got my many girlfriends.
Maurice: What girlfriends?
Julien: You don't know them, they're all in Canada, but trust me when I tell you that they are made up... I mean with lipstick and powders and such, but you know, tastefully.
- Amusing Injuries: Frequent.
- An Aesop: Like adult-oriented cartoons, the show plays with this; it may genuinely bring out some sound Aesops, but it very much brings out subversions to this by mostly throwing the Aesop away, especially at the last minute. They're not Lost Aesops, mind you, since they are done intentionally, and for fun.
Private: But, Skipper, doesn't violence beget more violence?
Skipper: It sure does, Private. It's a win-win!
- Animals Not to Scale:
- Everyone but Mort is unusually small for their species — no one seems to be over 2 feet tall.
- The gorillas, on the other hand, are about the same size as the rhinoceros - so it's either extremely big gorillas or an extremely small rhinoceros.
- Appease the Volcano God: Referenced in "Huffin and Puffin." One of the characters ties up the penguins and attempts to trap them in a hollow plastic volcano in the lemur exhibit so that he can cause mayhem. Maurice notices and wonders aloud what is going on. Julien replies: "Someone is sacrificing penguins to the volcano...eh, these things happen."
- Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: Occurs in "Tagged":
Skipper: Rico! Hacksaw!
Private: Skipper? How long will it take to saw through the bracelet?
Skipper: Bracelet? I was just going to saw off my foot. But maybe you're on to something there, Private.
- April Fool's Plot: "April Fools" focuses on King Julien pulling pranks even though it's not April 1st.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
- In "Fit to Print", the penguins are concerned over a picture of the lemurs that also has the penguins doing their secret things in the background... but Skipper's even more concerned that the picture also shows him with toilet paper stuck to his foot.
- In "The Hoboken Surprise" when Skipper learned that the deranged zookeeper of the Hoboken Zoo would be working at the Central Park Zoo, he realized that everyone there would be replaced with bio-androids and imagined Marlene being thrown off a cliff by her double, Phil and Mason's doubles throwing them in a underground chamber, and...Julien's double using him as a punching bag, to which he stated "Eh, I could live with that one".
- Artifact of Attraction: The key and the treasure itself, in the episode, "The Lost Treasure of the Golden Squirrel".
- Artifact Title: The penguins aren't in Madagascar anymore.
- Ass Shove: Not exactly shown onscreen, but Julien's expression when Kowalski shoves a flipper under the table he's sitting at and yanks out a thermometer makes it pretty clear.
- Australian Accent: Joey, who shares a voice actor with the British-accented Private.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Skipper consistantly pulls off the craziest, wildest, awesomest stunts. The Rat King also falls into this, but...
- Badass Adorable: Mort, who is usually rather cute and pathetic, but he has been known to beat Skipper at arm-wrestling, uproot whole trees and smash things with them, and beat up gorillas (though the last one was a result of one of Kowalski's experiments accidentally making him extremely large and muscular). Private may also qualify. Despite being very "cute and cuddly" he's been shown to be an excellent fighter, able to fend off Skipper's attacks while training blindfolded in one episode. And all without breaking a sweat. Then there's Eggy the duckling, who possesses the fighting skills of all the penguins before he gave it up for dancing.
- Badass Boast: Occurs in "The Falcon and the Snow Job":
Skipper: I eat fright for breakfast.
Kowalski: With skeleton marshmallows!
- Badass Crew: The penguins.
- Bad Impressionists: Julien tries to imitate Mason, which results in "Ook ook! I sure do love the tire swing!"). When asked to do one of Private, Julien says, "Ook ook! I sure do love a stinky fish!" Private himself copies Julien's imitation of Mason spot on while luring out Savio.
- Balloon Belly: Skipper in "Action Reaction" Where whenever he gets stressed, he swells up like a balloon meeting this example accordingly.
- But it had it's logical conclusion at the end. Luckily, Skipper was still alright because it was just a layer of him the whole time. But still, isn't it quite disturbing?
- Julien also unfortunately gets in on the ballooning at the end of the episode.
- Kowalski also gets one in "The Big Move" When he accidentally zaps himself small with a body altering ray gun and leaves it to Burt to zap him back to his original size and shape. He becomes big, small, fat, thin and poka doted.
- King Julian in "Time Out" where he eats a hot dog whole and becomes quite round.
- Bamboo Technology: Considering what he has to work with, Kowalski has come up with some amazing inventions. Also played literally in "Untouchable", where Skipper reveals that one of Kowalski's ultimate inventions is a six-foot bamboo whacking pole.
- Being Watched: The entire episode "Tangled in the Web."
- Berserk Button:
- "NO ONE MAY TOUCH THE ROYAL FEET!" (Guess who?)
- Or touching his hat. Or getting his hat lost. Or forgetting or not celebrating his birthday. And so on.
- King Julien's feet also seem to be Mort's berserk button, going off his reaction when kept from cuddling them for too long...
- Marlene accidentally hits the Berserk Button of the one-shot badgers in "Badger Pride" when she asks them to quit "badgering" her.
- Marlene hits another badger's Berserk Button by calling their games 'silly'.
- "I've rotted away in gulags, work camps, penal colonies in every dirty, flea-bitten corner of creation, but, I promised myself I would (shouting) NEVER END UP IN HOBOKEN! AT LEAST, NOT ALIVE! I will pluck out my own eyeballs, I swear to you!"
- Beware the Nice Ones:
- Private sometimes shows elements of this, such as his reaction to The Reveal in "Mask of the Raccoon" or "Untouchable".
- Burt the elephant also qualifies, such as in "The Big Squeeze".
- Be Yourself: Spoofed, King Julien tries being nicer after the Chimps pull a prank on him and the Penguins have to convince him to be a jerk again as his being nice made him MORE ANNOYING.
- Big Eater: Rico doesn't just choke things up, it's been shown that he also eats almost anything too. He's also the fattest of the penguins, with something resembling a double chin.
- Big Red Button: Played with in "Tagged." The lemurs have to hit the right-colored one to prevent the heat/air conditioning system (which Kowalski doctored) from blowing up, but all seven are virtually indiscernible shades of red (brick, crimson, scarlet etc.). Mort finally hits the right one, but they've installed the pressure mechanism on the air conditioning system instead of the heater by mistake.
- Big No:
- Skipper in "Skorca!" when he sees Private get carried off by the "dying" skorca.
- Julien also lets one off in "Out of the Groove" when he finds out he can't dance anymore.
- Skipper does yet another Big No when he discovers Rico's gone hippie on them.
- Deconstructed by the Red Squirrel in "Our Man in Grrfurjiclestan" when he gets captured during it.
Red Squirrel: Nooooooo - (gets caught by a lasso) I really should have run away instead of yelling.
- See more examples at Slow No.
- Bizarre and Improbable Golf Game: The climax of "Mr. Tux".
- Bloodless Carnage: "Endangerous Species" is basically 11 minutes of Dodo massacres but despite all the gruesome deaths not a drop of blood is seen.
- Bowel-Breaking Bricks: Max the stray cat "hairballs" himself in "Cat's Cradle" upon seeing Agent X.
- Brick Joke: Done a lot; occasionally mixes with Continuity Nod.
- In the first episode, Kowalski is suggested to have a crush on a dolphin named Doris. About 70 episodes later, a sleep-talking Skipper mutters, "No, no Doris, Kowalski must never know..." It's now become somewhat of a Running Gag, as she's been mentioned twice afterwards.
- During the official series premier episode, Skipper mentions that he can't set foot in Denmark. Again nearly 70 episodes later, we meet Hans, who was involved with Skipper in the Copenhagen Incident. "You're the reason Skipper can't go to Denmark?!"
- Most of the stuff Skipper's paranoid about is always brought up again. During the episode with a lemur robot, Skipper brings up "space squids". I Know Why The Cage Bird Goes Insane shows that Space Squids do exist. Even more? They came to Earth for Kowalski's inventions
- Bullet Seed: Rico uses popcorn kernels to (literally) shoot out the lights in "Popcorn Panic."
- Bullet Time: Done in "Untouchable" when Barry the poison dart frog tries to touch King Julien.
- Butt Monkey: Private, and occasionally Kowalski.
- By the Lights of Their Eyes: Go Fish has this inside a truck.
- And so does "I Was A Penguin Zombie."
- Calvin Ball: One episode features the penguins playing a card game called Stomp the Wombat, which involves betting fish and placing cards on one's head.
- Camera Spoofing: The penguins try this in "Tangled in the Web," using a crudely drawn sketch on lined paper.
- Capture the Flag: "Penguiner Takes All" featured a high-stakes game of CTF between the penguins and the lemurs.
- Cardboard Prison: The animals, even the dangerous ones, seem able to get out of their habitats with ridiculous ease.
- Cassandra Truth:
- Private has problems with this while trying to warn others about the titular "Skorca!"
- According to "Operation: Blowhole", the team's exploits outside the zoo also qualify.
- The little boy in "Field Tripped" who keeps seeing the penguins.
- The Cast Showoff:
- Cerebus Syndrome / Darker and Edgier: Starting with "Dr. Blowhole's Revenge", the show began playing up the science-fiction and spy-like aspects more, and the overall feel is a little less cartoonish.
- Chainsaw Good: Rico.
Private: Oh, Rico! Chainsaw's Your Answer to Everything!
- Cheek Copy: Kowalski does this in "Fit to Print".
- Chekhov's Gun: Rico's "mushy love sensitivity" in "All Choked Up." At the beginning of the episode, Rico swallows a time bomb, but is given anti-reguritation medicine. After several unsuccessful attempts to make him cough up the bomb, the other penguins tearful farewells repulse him enough to make him gag.
- Chronically Crashed Car: Every time something is thrown off screen with an explosion, you can hear the same guy scream "My Car!!!".
- Civilized Animal: The animals may not be able to talk to humans, don't exactly live in houses, and usually don't wear clothes, but they do fit this trope a lot of the time.
- Class Trip: The point of the episode "Field Tripped."
- Classified Information:
- "Operation: Plush and Cover":
Skipper: I'm waiting for my away team to report before declaring Defcon Red.
Marlene: Uh-huh. Real quick: what's Defcon Red?
Skipper: Classified. Just hope you never live to see one, sister.
- "Otter Gone Wild", after a cage is produced from Hammerspace to capture a feral Marlene:
King Julien: Uh, where did that cage come from?
Kowalski: Sorry, that information is classified.
- The Agent X/Alice exchange quoted below.
- Clear Their Name: "The Falcon and the Snow Job" revolves around Skipper's efforts to clear Kitka's name despite his Nakama believing that he's blinded by love.
- Cloning Blues: In "Endangered Species", the penguins kept having to reclone Dode the Dodo due to his extreme stunts getting him killed each time.
- Coincidental Accidental Disguise: In "I Was a Penguin Zombie," Skipper escapes from the vet after breaking his wing, and through a combination of green topical ointment (which numbs his mouth, making him unable to speak), tangled gauze, talcum powder, and a sprained ankle, ends up looking and acting like the living dead.
- Comically Missing the Point:
- After Mort is accidentally made into a towering, muscular lemur in "Mort Unbound," Maurice takes note of this transformation immediately and asks King Julien, "Do you, uh, notice anything different about Mort?" Julien responds, "Well yes, he's obviously doing something different with his hair! It's nice, actually."
- Julien when attempting to demotivate the penguins' sewer-rat opponents before a hockey game:
"You probably can't even get the ball into the hoopy thingy!"
"It's called a puck."
"Oh, thanks ... You probably can't even get the ball into the puck thingy!"
- Continuity Nod:
- In "Field Tripped," Madagascar is mentioned several times.
- The entire "It's About Time" episode may be a Continuity Nod to a remark that Kowalski made in "Two Feet High and Rising" about inventing a time machine.
- "I Was a Penguin Zombie" gives a slight Continuity Nod to "Needle Point," in that the doctor acknowledges Skipper's fear of needles and gives him a topical application instead.
- It pops up again in "King Me," apparently worse than before because said needles were just sewing needles.
- "Tangled in the Web" and "Go Fish" mention a video of an old lady beating up a lion.
- "Hard Boiled Eggy" is a sequel episode to "Paternal Egg-Stinct", with several flashbacks.
- In "Badger Pride", Marlene goes feral when she's outside the zoo, like in "Otter Gone Wild".
- In "The All Nighter Before Christmas", Santa greets Julien, to which he says they go back, a nod to Merry Madagascar.
- Roger, the Alligator, is first introduced in the episode that Marlene believes he's a monster living underneath her habitat. Later, in "Gator Watch", Roger is caught and moved to the zoo. When Roger shows up again in subsequent episodes he always appears in the zoo.
- Max the cat is first met when the penguins believe they've traveled to the moon. Later, the penguins greet him as "Moon Cat", and he's seen in cameo in a later episode.
- Barry the poison dart frog, first seen in the episode "Can't Touch This", is seen in the reptile habitats in "The Big Squeeze".
- In "Launchtime", Private holds up a tour guide map of the zoo with him on the cover. Many episodes later it's a plot point that Private has always been on the cover of the zoo's tour guide.
- The Russian repairman from "Work Order" shows up again in "Kanga Management".
- Conveyor Belt O' Doom: Occurs in "Operation Plush and Cover." The conveyor belt leads to a Nightmare Fuel-ing chomping machine of doom, from which the penguins, as well as Maurice and Mort, are rescued at the last second by King Julien. At the end, it turns out that Private is somehow on the conveyor belt still.
- Cool Toy: "Hello Dollface" has the Chatty Ms. Perky, so popular that crowds snap up the inventory everywhere the penguins attempt to get one.
- Counting Sheep: In "Two Feet High and Rising," Mort tries to do this but the sheep turn into King Julien's feet.
- Cross-Dressing Voices: Tara Strong voiced Eggy and at least one one-shot boy character. Of course, anyone familiar with more of her work would know this isn't unusual for her.
- Cucumber Facial
- Cuteness Proximity:
- Not even Skipper is immune from succumbing to his brooding instinct when the penguins are tasked with hatching an egg. Although he tried.
Skipper: Monster trucks, men!
- Dartboard of Hate: Officer X uses a poster for the zoo with the penguins on it as one.
- A Day in the Limelight: The whole show, for the penguins. And the lemurs. And the chimps.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Tyke Bomb Eggy fails to defeat Julien when he uses his dancing skills to dodge attacks. Eggy decides to drop the commando routine and take up dancing lessons with Julien instead.
- Deus Exit Machina: Happens in "Snakehead!" when Skipper gets eaten by a snakehead, leaving his crew to face the beast by themselves...
- Dinky Drivers: Occurs any time the penguins need to operate a vehicle.
- Disability Immunity:
- Mort is actually too stupid to feel pain.
- Kowalski, until it is pointed out to him, in "Brain Drain".
- Dissimile: In "Tangled in the Web".
"They're watching us like hawks. Except for that swooping down and devouring us part."
- Distracted by the Sexy: Skipper, out of sheer desperation, tries this on the other three penguins in "Needle Point." Kowalski responds, "You really don't want to get that shot, do you?"
- The Ditz: Fred the squirrel.
- Doomsday Device: "Blowhole's Revenge," Dr. Blowhole creates a Doomsday machine that draws heat from the earth's core to melt the polar ice-caps and therefore raise the sea-level and destroy all life on earth that cannot swim.
- Duct Tape for Everything: The penguins restrain Agent X with duct tape in "Stop Bugging Me."
- Eat the Bomb: Rico. And then he spits it up, already lit.
- Ear Worm:
- In-universe example, when "Hard Boiled Eggy" flashes back to Julien's "Me and My JJ" song from "Paternal Egg-Stinct", Skipper invokes this trope by saying that said song will be in his head all day.
- Practically every song in the musical episode.
- Eek! a Mouse!:
- Played straight with Burt the Elephant in "April Fools".
- Occurred again in "Tied Up With a Boa".
- Eggshell Clothing: Happens with Eggy in the episode where he's introduced.
- Eleventy-Zillion: when Kowalski is asked about a number that's less than nothing, he comes up with "neg-finity".
- Embarrassing Slide: Kowalski attempts to show the security footage to the other penguins, but puts in the wrong DVD and shows a film of himself crying and reciting bad poetry devoted to Doris the dolphin.
- Episode Title Card
- Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: The penguins are the embodiment of the trope.
- Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Ze Archer until its revealed that his real name is "Archie" and that he's not really French. He's also a Jerkass.
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: Skipper gets set up to appear as this to the other three penguins in "I Was a Penguin Zombie".
- Everything's Better with Bob: In one episode, King Julien names a piñata Bob, thinking it to be a real horse. With candy guts.
- Kangaroos Represent Australia: Joey, mate.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Three lemurs, two chimps and two gorillas.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: Um, duh.
- Evil Gloating: King Julien gets a round of this in "Kaboom and Kabust".
- Exact Words: King Julien asks Burt to paint him. Cue Julien getting the paintbrush dragged across him. (And then subverted when he's smashed onto the canvas, leaving a likeness that Julien actually likes.)
- Exotic Equipment: Not shown onscreen, but apparently the penguins are built like actual penguins with no external equipment, given that they can't tell their own sexes without a DNA test.
- Expansion Pack Past:
- Skipper has apparently been involved in every major conflict since World War Two, and more then few minor conflicts as well. Even though that is a biological impossibility, but then again, Skipper's never been one to let a little thing like reality stand in his way. He also believes in (and may have been to) Atlantis.
- Dr. Blowhole seemed to be a one-off gag... until the viewers meet one of his agents reporting in. He then appears himself in "Operation: Blowhole".
- Explain, Explain, Oh Crap: All of them in "The Officer X Factor". They think Officer X is in the pretzel cart. They are wrong. But the reality isn't much better. He's in the umbrella, which only raises further questions.
- Expy: Marlene the Otter is one for Gloria the Hippo. She also exhibits some behavior similar to Alex the Lion (arguably). In fact, one could argue she's meant as an Expy for the entire original cast of the movies.
- Fake Rabies: The penguins decide We Need a Distraction when their friend Max the cat is being chased by Officer X of Animal Control, and use cream and fake ears to disguise Mort the mouse lemur as a rabid chihuahua. It works fine until he eats the cream. "I like diseases!"
- "Falling in Love" Montage:
- Skipper and Kitka have one in "The Falcon and the Snow Job."
- Phil gets one in "Monkey Love" with the one-shot female chimp who enters their habitat.
- Fantastic Racism:
- Skipper occasionally makes less-than-complimentary comments about mammals.
- The closest thing to religion in this show (the lemurs' belief in spirits) is generally scoffed at by the other characters.
- In "Hard Boiled Eggy", one of Skipper's main arguments against Eggy joining the team is that he isn't a penguin. However, he later makes a comment along the lines of "That boy will make a darn fine penguin" after being impressed by his skills.
- Fartillery: This is how Rico tries to win the car race in "Little Zoo Coupe."
- Fat and Skinny: Maurice and Julien, respectively.
- Fearless Fool / Feel No Pain: Mort is stated - and in the same episode, shown - to be too stupid to feel pain. This is why he's The Chew Toy.
- Five Stages of Grief: Skipper goes through this in the episode "Miss Understanding", when he thinks he's a girl, just immediately after Kowalski mentions each stage.
- King Julien has become a bit more of a Jerkass in comparison to the movies, but he still has his moments (such as saving Skipper's life in one episode).
- Kowalski and Rico didn't escape this either. Kowalski went from Skipper's right hand man to a super genius. Rico went from puking up a paperclip, to being able to contain absolutely anything in his stomach. Most fans of both the films and the show seem to take this flanderization as Rule of Funny, thus proving that Tropes Are Not Bad.
- The penguins slap each other frequently in the films, like the Three Stooges, whereas it's a rare occurrence in the show. This is probably abiding by childrens' network regulations so kids don't try to imitate it.
- Flash Back: Used heavily in "Hard Boiled Eggy", with at least one Lampshade Hanging from Skipper.
- Flowers for Algernon Syndrome:
- Foot Focus:
- Mort is crazy for King Julien's feet. There's even an episode dedicated to trying to cure him ("Two Feet High and Rising"). It succeeds... And then fails. To quote Skipper from the same episode: "That's not failure, that's 'redefined mission objectives'!"
- Kowalski can't help pointing out that Marlene's foot is white in "Badger Pride" while examining it with a magnifying glass.
- Foreshadowing: When Skipper loses his memory during the second Blowhole episode, Buck Rockgut is the first Spirit guide. He explains about how someone tampered Skipper's brain. Cut to "Our Man in Grrfurjiclestan" Where it turns out that Buck's brain has been tampered with and he is now a sleeper agent.
- For Science!: Kowalski justifies more of his dangerous and questionable inventions with this trope.
- Four-Fingered Hands: Averted with humans, chimpanzees and gorillas. Played straight with non-primates and lemurs except Maurice.
- Four-Man Band: Too many roles are doubled up on for this to be a genuinely heroic Five-Man Band - but the smaller comedy-based group dymanic works well.
- The Normal Guy: Skipper. Of course, that doesn't mean he's normal; just that he's the basis for normal within the group.
- The Smart Guy: Kowalski.
- The Pervert: Rico - the other penguins constantly comment on his perverted mind.
- The Butt Monkey: Private catches a lot of suffering for being the team's rookie.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Skipper is Choleric; Kowalski combines a Phlegmatic's strengths with a Melancholic's weaknesses; Rico is Sanguine and Private is Supine.
- "Friend or Idol?" Decision: Treasure or falling into lava. Julien decides for them and dumps the treasure.
- Friendly Enemy: Skipper and Julien. They spend most of their shared screentime arguing and generally being annoyed by the other, but Skipper will go out of his way to help Julien, and Julien has gone to Skipper to have his problems fixed. It was to the point that they were actually mistaken as 'BFF's by Skipper's Arch Nemesis Dr. Blowhole... and the other penguins agreed with him.
Julien: So I face danger and the adventure of a lifetime and nobody will ever know about it?!
Skipper: Welcome to my world. That makes you an honorary penguin.
Julien: Does that mean I am your BFF?
Skipper: Eehh...we'll keep that code on the QT.
- Gambit Pileup: Exaggerated to the point of parody in "Go Fish."
- GASP: In one episode, everyone gasps upon hearing that Mort had been kidnapped. Everyone, that is, except King Julien, who momentarily forgets who Mort is, then reassures them that "I too am gasping in horror, but on the inside."
- Genre Savvy:
Skipper: Kowalski, slow this thing down, they're coming in too fast!
Kowalski: Uh, right.(looks at the buttons) Y'know, I'm not even going pretend that this is going to work.(presses random button)
Skipper: They had the initial advantage, but this time we are prepared, it won't happen twice.
[cut to the team being chased by hornets yet again]
Skipper: It happened twice!
- And again in "King Julien for a Day". Just as Marlene says that she thinks Skipper and Julien's Swapped Roles will help them gain an understanding for each other, the show cuts to the two arguing all over again.
- Girlfriend in Canada: King Julien claims he has girlfriends in Canada, but you can trust him that they are made up... with lipstick and mascara, he means, but tastefully.
- Girls Have Cooties: Played with in "Operation: Cooties". Julien sees girls chasing after boys and "spreading" cooties throughout the zoo, right after Marlene has offered leaves of poison ivy to the penguins. The penguins then conclude that Marlene has given them cooties once the poison ivy kicks in.
- Going Cold Turkey: This is how the penguins try to break Mort free from his foot fetish.
- Good Times Montage: Rico and King Julien have one during "Kaboom And Kabust" that hews surprisingly close to a "Falling in Love" Montage.
- Gosh Hornet: The subject of the episode "Sting Operation."
- Hammerspace: Rico's stomach, quite often.
- Hands Go Down: "Launchtime": Skipper wants to go on vacation and Private suggests going to a zoo (which is shot down because they already live in one). Later...
Skipper: Gentlemen, we are going to the moon!
(Private raises his hand)
Skipper: And no, there's no zoo on the moon.
(Private's hand goes down)
- Hand Signals: While infiltrating a plush toy factory, Skipper gives King Julien hand signals to go ahead and keep a lookout. Julien doesn't understand the signals, obviously, so Skipper simply screams the instructions to him, who responds with "Why didn't you just say so?"
- Hard Work Montage: Parodied in "Lemur See, Lemur Do," where they decide to fix a broken robot. After the montage, Skipper says, "Well, now that we fixed the coffee machine, let's get working on that robot."
- Hates Being Touched: Again, "NO ONE MAY TOUCH THE ROYAL FEET!"
- Heel Face Revolving Door/Reverse Mole: King Julien in the "Blowhole" episode.
- Heh, Heh, You Said "X":
- The common "duty"/"doody" variant occurs in "All King, No Kingdom." Maurice says that he has duties, and Mort starts giggling about Maurice saying "doody."
- After a scene where the penguins rub Max's butt against a tree to leave his scent and fool Agent X, they move off to the side to watch Agent X. Private starts snickering when Agent X starts saying things like "no ifs, ands or buts," "get to the bottom of this," etc., and then loses it when Skipper remarks that he hasn't seen Private laugh so much since the time that they were in Butztown, Pennsylvania.
- Happened again in "Herring Impaired" when Skipper remarked about the 'poop deck' of his model ship.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Rico. Skipper also shows occasional tendencies... All in the name of the mission, of course.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Skipper's arch-nemesis Dr. Blowhole started as this, only to avert it in "Dr. Blowhole's Revenge (Operation: Blowhole)".
- Hoist by His Own Petard: A non-fatal version occurs in "Jiggles" when the cube absorbs Kowalski right after he hugs it, because he's been handling so much fruit to feed it. Cue the My God, What Have I Done?, and the immediate Lampshading by Julien.
- At the end of "Return of the Revenge of Dr. Blowhole (Blowhole Strikes Back)" Skipper uses the device Blowhole used to steal his memories at the beginning, then puts him in a habitat at the zoo where he jumps through flaming hoops as he did before.
- Hollywood Chameleons: The chameleons that appear in one episode use their colors as a means of communication.
- Hollywood Hacking: In one episode, the penguins hacked into a computer by literally hacking the CPU with a chainsaw.
- Homemade Inventions: Kowalski builds several of the things they use.
- Hostage for Macguffin: Marlene in The Lost Treasure of the Golden Squirrel and Julien in Dr. Blowhole's Revenge.
- How Did That Get in There?: On one occasion, the Penguins' holiday snaps got mixed in with their mission slides.
- Humanlike Foot Anatomy: The penguins.
- Humans Are Cthulhu: The Bus Called Graveyard Eight.
- Hurricane of Puns: Zookeeper X in "The Officer X Factor"
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Exaggerated with Rico's stomach.
- Hypocritical Humor: When Skipper learns about Private's past in "Mr. Tux", he states he doesn't like it and prefers that his men be one-dimensional, yet he has a Multiple Choice Past. Looks like he feels he's the only one who should have a complex past.
- I Am Big Boned:
Julien: Ah! Thank goodiness you are here to help my chunky monkey to carry me.
Maurice: I'm big boned!
- I Come in Peace: Occurs in "Launchtime" when greeting Max the stray cat, whom they think is a "moon cat": "We come in peace. For now."
- Idiosyncratic Wipes: Some early episodes used a wipe that comprised silhouettes of the penguins running against a striped background. "Mask of the Raccoon" used a wipe that showed a silhouette of Skipper holding a butter knife.
- I Have No Idea What I'm Doing: Basically one of Kowalski's Catch Phrases.
- I Have This Friend: Occurs in "Monkey Love." Mason and Phil get a female named Lulu staying in her habitat; Phil falls in love with her and asks Mason to speak on his behalf. Lulu thinks Mason is speaking of himself when he talks about his "friend", and the rest of the episode is spent trying to get her to fall in love with Phil instead, with disastrous results.
- I Know You Know I Know: Things get out of hand when Skipper tries to get back real fish instead of the tasteless fish cakes the penguins have been forced to eat. Julien tried to sabotage the operation.
Julien: So you see, we have the crates with the real fish, while yours are filled with only the phony fish cake. So hahaha-ing.
Skipper: Oh, nice try, Ringtail. But I know how much you hate the smell of fish. I was expecting a move like that, which is why I switched the crates before you even got back to the zoo.
Julien: Ah, but I was expecting you to be expecting that, so we switcheroo-ed the crates on the pier before the fish got loading on to the truck. Ha ha!
Skipper: Doesn't really matter, because I just switched these crates during your last flashback.
Julien: Well I switched them while you were saying you switched them.
Skipper: And I switched them last the time you blinked.
Julien: Yes, but I pretended to switch them so you actually switched them back.
Skipper: Oh, but I double switched.
Julien: And I triple switched.
Skipper: I million zillion switched.
Julien: And I switched them to infinity! So you have to shut up a little bit.
Skipper: Ah, but what you didn't see coming is that... [reveals that he's really Julien] I am actually you!
Julien: Okay, nicely played. But if you are me, then by processing of elimination, [reveals that he's really Skipper] I must be you!
Skipper who is really Julien: Maybe, maybe. But if you are me, and I am you, then we must both be?
- I Like Those Odds: "Roger Dodger" has:
Private: So, after Rico trounces the rats inside Roger's body, we switch them back?
Skipper: Exactly. It's 100% fool-proof.
Kowalski: More precisely, it's 2.7% foolproof. There's a 97.3% chance that this will backfire and result in a horrific abomination that will be an affront to the most elemental laws of nature and the universe.
Skipper: I like those odds.
- In-Series Nickname: "Ringtail" for Julien and "Sad Eyes" for Mort.
- Incidental Villain: King Julien. Being a spoiled ego-maniacal control freak, he's the most common antagonist on the show, with his schemes often being the catalyst for larger plots or being the main threat of the episode. But, despite being something of a Jerkass, he is only casually disliked by the rest of the cast. The other characters tolerate him when he's not doing anything antagonistic, since he's not generally a bad guy, just a spoiled jerk who occasionally screws with people to get his own way.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: "I'm an otter failure."
- The show loves using the otter pun so much they even named three episodes with it. Otter Things Have Happened, Otter Woman and Otter Gone Wild.
- Also, Hans' reaction to Skipper's lightsaber in the Return of the Revenge of Dr. Blowhole: "What was that?! We always fish fight!"
- Instant Web Hit: Private's accidental fall when stepping on a roller skate (It Makes Sense in Context) turns him into an internet celebrity overnight, until they turn the camera on to Alice the female zookeeper doing a silly dance while thinking she was alone.
- Insane Troll Logic: In the episode "The Red Squirrel", Buck Rockgut thinks that if any animal likes nuts, likes drawings of red squirrels, has a bushy tail, or reads a book with a red cover, they automatically work for the Red Squirrel. Private somewhat calls him out on the last one.
- Instrumental Theme Tune: An unusual variation: a brassy, detective-like theme for the penguins, and an upbeat dance section in the middle when the lemurs appear.
- Insubstantial Ingredients:
Julien: That is a misfortune cookie. It's just like a regular fortune cookie, only it's full of hate and bile and sugar. And evil!
Private: That doesn't sound very good, except for the sugar part.
Julien: You need the sugar. Otherwise, the bile will overwhelm the flavor.
- Interspecies Romance:
- Played with in "Otter Things Have Happened". Kowalski invented device which can locate the ideal mate for someone. When he tested it on Marlene, it turned out that her ideal partner is Fred the squirrel. However, their relationship didn't work out, and it was hinted in the end of episode that her real ideal one is a male otter who lives near Fred's
- In another episode, it's strongly hinted that Kowalski once had a love affair with a dolphin named Doris.
- And Skipper once dated with the falcon.
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Doctor Blowhole insists on calling the team "pen-gyu-ins".
- It Tastes Like Feet: Skipper's monkfish surprise recipe apparently tastes like elephant sweat "but everyone pretends they like it to spare Skipper's fragile ego".
- It's Quiet... Too Quiet: Spoken by Skipper in "Haunted Habitat."
- Intelligible Unintelligible: Rico can fall into this, with the other penguins translating via Repeating So the Audience Can Hear.
- I Was Never Here:
Skipper: (waving flippers) You didn't see anything.
- I Will Show You X: In "I Was A Penguin Zombie":
Vet: Don't worry. I know you don't like the big, scary needles, so we'll use a topical cream instead.
Skipper: Oh, yeah? You try anything and I'll cream your topical!
- I've Heard of That! What Is It?: Occurs in "Otter Gone Wild":
Private: We're going for yummy snow cones, Marlene. Wanna come?
Marlene: Snow cones? Oh, snow cones are the best! Real quick: A snow cone is…?
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: King Julien.
- The Jimmy Hart Version: "Paternal Egg-Stinct" uses one of "Brahms's Lullaby."
- Just Smile and Nod: "Just smile and wave, boys."
- Kangaroo Pouch Ride: Skipper ends up in Joey's pouch in "Assault and Batteries."
- Keet: King Julien.
- The Knights Who Say Squee: In "The Red Squirrel," Skipper, Kowalski, and Rico all squee over meeting and working with the legendary Special Agent Buck Rockgut. Skipper even claims to have "patterned his whole life" after Rockgut. Their enthusiasm fades when he accuses first Private then Kowalski of being the villainous Red Squirrel.
- Know When to Fold'Em: Lampshaded.
Skipper: Kowalski, options.
Kowalski: I recommend a strategic retreat.
Kowalski: It's like running away, but manlier.
- Latex Perfection: See I Know You Know I Know.
- Lawful Stupid: Buck Rockgut.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Eight characters comprise the primary cast: the penguins, the lemurs and Marlene, who is prominent enough to appear in the intro. Among the large cast of recurring characters are Alice the zookeeper, Mason and Phil the chimps, Roger the alligator, Fred the squirrel, Bada and Bing the gorillas, Joey the kangaroo, Max the stray cat, Burt the elephant, and a few one-shots. Phil and Mason, Roger, Fred, Burt and Max have even had episodes centralizing on them, and Alice is the most notable human character in the series.
- Loves My Alter Ego: In Otter Woman Marlene got her fur bleached due to chlorine accident and everyone think she is a new otter Arlene. Skipper fell for her and became kinda Stalker with a Crush To the point, when he drew him and Arlene with a heart between them on the wall
- MacGuffin: In "It's About Time", the key component Kowalski needs to finish his time machine is an isotope called MacGuffium-239.
- Magic Versus Science: Kowalski is highly skeptical of any 'unnatural' or 'supernatural' phenomena.
- Malaproper: King Julien has shades of this. "These stitions are very super!"
- Missing Episode: Several episodes appeared on DVD and/or Nickelodeon's website well before they made it to air. The last two episodes to be considered "missing" were "Truth Ache" and "Command Crisis", which appeared on the show's first DVD compilation but didn't air until November 2010.
- Musical Episode: The latter half of "The Return of the Revenge of Dr Blowhole". Induced by a combination of a high-power energy cell, a Mirror Morality Machine, and a mp3 player.
- The Music Meister: In "The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr. Blowhole", Dr. Blowhole's new device accidentally fuses with an experimental power cell and an MP 3 player to form a machine capable of doing this. Blowhole himself becomes this when he takes control of it. No surprise there, since he's voiced by the Trope Namer.
- My Car Hates Me: Literally, in "Driven to the Brink". Rico accidentally destroys the car, and when he rebuilds it it comes to life and starts violently attacking him.
- My Friends and Zoidberg: In the cooties episode, Skipper remarks that "my men and Mort" have come down with cooties.
- My Future Self and Me: Kowalski meets not one but two of his future selves. It doesn't end well.
- Nanotechnology: Kowalski created a bunch of nanites capable of animating any machine. In an attempt to keep them from ending up like his other creations, Kowalski programmed them to never allow harm to come to the penguins. Unfortunately, considering their commando lifestyle, the nanites naturally took their programming too far.
- Negative Continuity:
- "Jiggles" has a giant gelatinous blob break a large hole in the penguins' headquarters which is replaced in the next episode.
- "Little Zoo Coupe" has the penguins modify their car to make it "boss," but it is back to its pink, frilly self in later episodes.
- "It's About Time" ends with Kowalski building a snowcone machine and burying New York in shaved ice.
- In all fairness, there's a break in between the whole episode and the last twenty seconds or so, so we have no idea if this occured immediately afterwards or far off in the future.
- "Kaboom and Kabust" ends with Rico completely destroying the lemur habitat, which is back to normal in the next episode.
- Private gets left behind in the plush factory in "Operation: Plush and Cover," but is back in the next episode.
- Nerds Are Sexy: Kowalski is arguably the penguin with the most fans.
- Never Learned to Read:
- Despite being more intelligent, Mason is illiterate while Phil is not.
- Kowalski doesn't seem to be literate, either, thus he resorts to drawing all of his options rather than writing them. Although he can use his Speak & Spell just fine and has been seen reading at least once.
- Never Say "Die": Subverted.
Kowalski: Were it not for our failure, Julien would be... sleeping with the hot dogs.
(the others stare)
- In another example, they lightly lampshade this trope but still play it straight:
- In "Roger Dodger", Kowalski's turn of phrase makes it soar right over Private's head:
Kowalski: They're taking him straight to the gray-bar hotel.
Private: Oh, a hotel? Well, that'll solve his housing problem. I wonder if he'll find a mint on his pillow?
(the others stare; after a beat, Skipper reaches over and pats Private lightly on the head)
- Never the Selves Shall Meet: Kowalski invents a Time Machine, but a future Kowalski has come to get Private to stop him, warning him that if both Kowalskis were to ever meet, it would cause a rip in the space-time continuum. Also, a third Kowalski has come to get Skipper to keep the time machine from being destroyed. When the two future Kowaslkis meet, they reassure the others that it's okay, as long as the original Kowalski doesn't see them. And that's when original Kowalski sees them, causing the space-time rupture that led them all here in the first place.
- Nice Hat: King Julien's crown.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Professor Blowhole even says "Thank you Kowalski!" when Kowalski accidentally activated his machine to melt the polar ice caps.
- The Nicknamer: Skipper has a few shades of this, referring to King Julien exclusively as "Ringtail" and Mort as "Sad Eyes." And "Moon Cat" for Max. And "Sstingtail" for the leader of a hornet hive. And "Big Grey"/"Long Trunks" for Burt.
- Nightmare Fetishist: Rico is perfectly happy with things that give the other penguins nightmares. Like serenely munching away on popcorn while watching a Brutal Nature Documentary with penguins getting gobbled up by leopard seals. And when Kowalski and Private are clearly horrified/nauseated at Skipper's broken flipper in "I Was a Penguin Zombie," Rico looks... a little too interested and in "Roger Dodger", as Roger is being pummeled offscreen by the rats, Rico stares at said beatdown, a blank smile on his face, his left eye twitching, and licks his beak at the end.
- Nightmare Fuel:
- The giant, carnivorous death machine of a fish in "Snakehead!" Lampshaded in-universe by how it terrifies most of the cast, who go on and on about its various nightmare-fueling features. The penguins (minus Skipper) are also terrified by Kowalski's crudely drawn picture of the beast.
- In-Show example: In "Sting Operation", after their minds are put back, Kowalski claims that he got some of Rico's thoughts. His words: "So... horrible," while cringing. Rico merely shrugs at this.
- Though not shown, the aforementioned Brutal Nature Documentary in "All Choked Up" serves as this for... three of the penguins.
- No Flow in CGI: Compared to the films, the lemurs aren't visibly fuzzy, instead they're textured to merely look like they are. Similarly, the penguins' feathers have a lot less sheen to them then they do in the movies. Noticeably subverted however with the leaves on King Julien's crown, which realistically sway when he moves around.
- No Name Given: Agent X.
Alice: X, eh? Is that the name your mommy gave you?
Agent X: Mother never told me my real name. Said it was classified.
- Non Sequitur Thud: In "Miracle on Ice," Kowalski gets knocked out during a hockey game and starts babbling in an oddly erudite manner, since he's the Cunning Linguist of the group. "Flibbery-gibbit, man! I'm as juxtaposed as the next hamburger!"
- Noodle Incident:
- Skipper can't go back to Denmark because of the Copenhagen Incident.
- In "Kaboom and Kabust", King Julien pieces together one of the penguins' shredded, highly-classified documents:
King Julien: This one makes a penguin!... But why is he shaking hands with a Sasquatch and the King of Sweden?
- Occurs again in "Hot Ice", After Julien concludes that the "sky spirits" are mad at him for something Mort did, Mort asks the "sky spirits" if it was for the "you know what" in Maurice's oatmeal.
- When a Truth Serum-addled Private exposes the secrets of the zoo-dwellers, Marlene has two; first he reveals to everyone that she performs imaginary pop concerts in her room, which the viewers actually saw her do earlier in the episode, and later:
Marlene: Okay, all I wanna know is, do you know about-?
Marlene: And how I like to-?
Marlene: With the-?
- He also mentions that she thought that was embarrassing, she should see what Kowalski does when he thinks no one is looking.
- Nose Nuggets: Trope Namer. In one episode, King Julien gets trapped in Burt the Elephant's trunk. When he finally gets out, he says that his life "and many nose nuggets" flashed before his eyes.
- Number Two: Kowalski seems to be Skipper's Number Two.
- Odd Couple: Mason and Phil.
- Officer and a Gentleman: Skipper.
- Oh Crap: A very common and familiar facial expression for the cast. Especially the penguins, who even get one during the title sequence.
- Older Than They Look/Vague Age: The writers seem to delight in providing implausibly high ages for the characters. According to her Nickelodeon profile, Marlene was born in 1952, and Word of God is that Mort is actually thirty-five. Private, despite appearing to be a teenager and occasionally acting like a small child, is old enough to have had at least one previous identity, as shown in "Mr Tux".
- One-Scene Wonder/Ensemble Darkhorse: The penguins and lemurs were this in the movies. That's why they have their own show and not Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman.
- Only Sane Man:
- Private treads into this during episodes like "The Red Squirrel."
- Maurice and Marlene fit this trope as well.
- Rico, of all people, becomes this in "Herring Impaired" when the others came down with a disease that made them just about as crazy for fish as him.
- Organ Autonomy: In "Mort Unbound," Julien gets into a squabble with his own brain while congratulating himself on using the suddenly muscle-bound Mort to intimidate the other zoo animals to giving their stuff to him. He even turns from side to side to pantomime speaking to somebody else.
Julien: That was a great idea I just had. I must compliment my brain. Good idea, brain.
His brain: Thanks, I think it was nice that you had an idea that you didn't pull out of your booty.
Julien: Hey, do not speak ill of the booty!
His brain: Oh, booty, booty, booty! Shut up about the booty!
Julien: You shut up about the shutting up!
His brain: Fine, then I am not talking to you!
Julien: And I am not talking to you! Stupid brain.
- The Other Darrin: Among the eight voiced characters common to the films and the TV series (as mentioned, Phil doesn't talk), four have the same voice actors across the board: Tom McGrath (Skipper), John Dimaggio (Rico), Andy Richter (Mort) and Conrad Vernon (Mason). DreamWorks staff members Chris Miller (Kowalski) and Chris Knights (Private) were respectively replaced by Jeff Bennett and James Patrick Stuart; Kevin Michael Richardson took over Maurice's role from Cedric the Entertainer; and Danny Jacobs replaced Sacha Baron Cohen as King Julien.
- Operation Blank: All of the penguins' missions are dubbed "Operation _____." There is also a DVD compilation titled Operation: DVD Premiere, and one episode is titled "Operation: Plush and Cover."
- Papa Wolf: "Paternal Egg-Stinct" shows Private to be one. Private is so horrified by the other penguins' rough handling of the egg that he steals it and snaps at Skipper. Also, Kowalski towards Jiggles the goo monster.
- Party of One: "All King, No Kingdom".
- Penguin of Mass Destruction: Rico.
- Percussive Maintenance: Skipper tries to smack a malfunctioning flashlight. It works...for all of about three seconds, and then fizzles out again.
- Persona Non Grata: Denmark does not like Skipper. Nobody dares ask why.
- Phlebotinum-Induced Stupidity:
- "Sting Operation," the penguins use one of Kowalski's inventions to make themselves stupid so that they can't feel the hornet's stings.
- Happens with Kowalski in "Brain Drain", owing both to a malfunction in a brain-enhancing machine and a lack of fish in the diet.
- Phrase Catcher: If Skipper looks in Kowalski's direction, expect either "Kowalski, analysis" or "Kowalski, options."
- Pinch Me: "Now bite me! Now slap my face and spank my right buttock!"
- Place Worse Than Death: Skipper views Hoboken as a living cesspool and has vowed to never end up there. Unfortunately, he did end up there, but the trope is subverted at first when it seems to be a nice place....then played straight again.
- Plank Gag: King Julien challenges Fred the squirrel to a duel with staffs. Fred beats him without even trying, just by moving around with the staff on his shoulder.
- Playful Otter: Marlene, the inspiration for this trope.
- Playing Pictionary: Julien and Marlene are missing and Kowalski shows a picture he drew of them to Fred the squirrel.
Fred: Which one's the otter?
Kowalski: This one, obviously. Note the whiskers?
Fred: Oh, I thought that was a cat.
Kowalski: Did I ask "have you seen this lemur and cat?"
Fred: No, that's why I thought it was odd that you drew a cat.
Kowalski: It's not a cat.
Fred: Then why does it have whiskers?
Kowalski: You know what? Forget the otter.
- Portmanteau: King Julien coins "skorca" in reference to the "sky orca" (really an inflatable in a parade) and then lampshades it by saying that it's popular to put two words together that way. In a later episode, he acquires a "neck decoration" (a diamond necklace), which he renames a "neckoration."
- Potty Dance: King Julien remarks in "Friend In A Box" that he never learned "that dance." Being the king, he just goes wherever he is. Kowalski takes two steps away from Julien upon hearing that.
- Potty Emergency: Utilized as a weapon by Kowalski and Julien during "Friend-In-A-Box" to try and distract Mort long enough for Kowalski to snatch the circuit board from the game Mort was playing.
- Power Echoes:
- Julien declares a new law, and Maurice adds echoes for dramatic effect.
- Also CHROME CLAW.
- Power Walk: Parodied in "Launchtime." The penguins are shown walking in what appears to be Slow Motion, until Skipper stops them and says that they'll never get to the moon at that rate.
- Precision-Guided Boomerang: In one episode, Private uses a butterscotch lollipop as a boomerang.
- Properly Paranoid: Skipper, but only sometimes. Other times, he wears the paranoia cap just a little too long...
- Punctuated for Emphasis:
- Alice in "Popcorn Panic," upon catching a boy feeding popcorn to the animals: "Do! Not! Feed! The! Animals!" It's punctuated with her slapping up a "Do Not Feed the Animals" sign on some object with each word.
- Lampshaded in "In the Line of Doody," with a Sting and a zoom-in on each word.
Skipper: The clock... is... ticking.
Kowalski: So were the dramatic pauses really necessary, then?
Skipper: (another sting, camera zooms in closer) Yes.
- Puppy Dog Eyes: Attempted by Rico in "Driven to the Brink". Skipper tells him it won't work this time, though.
- Puss in Boots: Maurice, sort of.
- Rapid-Fire Comedy
- Rascally Raccoon: Ze Archer/Archie.
- Rasputinian Death: Marlene wants to do this to King Julien at the end of "Otter Things Have Happened": "When I find Julien, I'm gonna rip him limb from limb, sew him back together, then rip him apart all over again!"
- Readings Are Off the Scale: When Kowalski mentions that readings of spectral activity are off the charts, Skipper suggests getting bigger charts.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Rico and Kowalski.
- Reluctant Monster: Roger the alligator.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning:
- The penguins' car's headlights took on a red glow in "Driven to the Brink" after it targeted Rico.
- Each of the lemurs' eyes turned a near-red after they became crazy and dangerous from eating lychee nuts.
- From "Dr. Blowhole's Revenge":
Skipper: Glowing red eyes? That's almost never good.
- Red Scare: "The Red Squirrel" had fun with this; Special Agent Buck Rockgut has become paranoid in his hunt for the Red Squirrel. He starts accusing and detaining everyone for things that have nothing to do with the Red Squirrel. Private laments that Rockgut has spent decades going after a threat that may no longer exist. Then we get to see the Red Squirrel who is still scheming and has been spying on Rockgut all along.
- Revenge of the Sequel: Dr. Blowhole's Revenge and more egregiously, The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr. Blowhole.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent:
- Averted. Roger is a humongous alligator who happens to be extremely friendly, to the point where he thinks the best way to deal with bullies is to bake muffins for them.
- Also the chameleons. It turns out dragging you into the dark with their tongues is just their way of inviting you to a party.
- "The Big Squeeze" plays it straight with Savio.
- Retired Gunfighter: Parodied (with mini-golf) in Mr Tux.
- Rewind, Replay, Repeat: Blowhole orders a lackey to rewind a few times so he can catch the exact moment of Skipper's demise, including freezing his death scream.
- A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside An Enigma: Skipper calls Alice "a riddle, wrapped in mystery, and dunked in nasty sauce" in the cartoon short "All Choked Up."
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Mort, Eggy, and possibly Private.
- Road Apples: Mason occasionally talks about flinging poo.
- Rodents of Unusual Size: The rat king, who is musclebound and taller than the penguins.
- Royal Decree: King Julien issued a decree forbidding touching his "royal feet," but eventually "undecreed" it later.
- Running Gag:
- Mort's foot fetish for Julien's feet, as well as his status as The Chew Toy. "Hooray! I'm expendable!"
- Skipper warning his men against certain cicrumstances by saying some variation of "Just ask Manfridi and Johnson. Except you can't, because they fell for [situation]. We had to [horrible description]." This might also be a shout out, since Manfridi and Johnson were the two guys machine gunned at the start of Stalag 17.
- Skipper's hatred of hippies.
- A character will do something destructive, such as cause an explosion, and a voice off camera screams, "My car!"
- If a bag is needed for something, it will invariably say "trail mix" on it.
- Sanity Ball: Private held it in episodes such as "The Red Squirrel," whereas it was in the flippers of the other three penguins in "Skorca!"
- Sapient Cetaceans: Dr. Blowhole, arch-enemy of the penguins of Madagascar, is an Evil Genius bent on having his revenge on humanity for the humiliation he has suffered jumping through flaming hoops on Coney Island. Definitely not friendly or heroic.
- Say My Name: "Driven to the Brink" has Skipper crying "RIIIIICCCCOOOO!"
- Scary Black Man: Agent X, complete with a Badass Beard.
- Secret Test: Turns out to be the whole plot of the epsiode "Command Crisis".
- Serious Business: The epic mini-golf game between Private and the armadillo in "Mr. Tux".
- Servile Snarker: Maurice.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Kowalski's mission in "It's About Time."
- Shaggy Dog Story: The episode "Crown Fools." The penguins and Marlene go on a wild goose chase trying to recover King Julien's crown, but it turns out that he had a spare crown all along and just didn't tell them that.
- Ship Sinking:
- What Kitka's debut tried to do to Skipper/Marlene. It didn't work. Possibly lampshaded in that even Skipper acknowledged that it wasn't working out.
- Almost every time Fred appears, one or more ships are sunk. Skipper/Kitka, Julien/Marlene, Fred/Marlene and Marlene/Antonio... And usually, it happens due to Fred's stupidity.
- Ship Tease: Lots of it, in all sorts of directions.
- Otter Gone Wild has Marlene showing interest in King Julien (although she was in a feral state at the time), and "Otter Things Have Happened" has him interested in courting Marlene while she's dating Fred the Squirrel (a relationship that, in itself, looked like it was going to work out but didn't).
- Kaboom and Kabust is basically one big Julien/Rico Ship Tease. Seriously, just watch their montage.
- It's very easy to interpret the penguins' dialogue as ship-worthy. For instance, all the poetry they recite to Rico when they think he's going to die in "All Choked Up".
- The Otter Woman, SO MUCH for almost ANY pairing, but especially Skilene.
- Skipper and Marlene hug in Miss Understanding, in a rather suggestive manner. While most of their interactions are usually exaggerated by the fans, this particular one is hard to miss or dispute.
- Shorter Means Smarter: Inverted with Kowalski being the smartest and tallest.
- Shown Their Work:
- Interviews state that they hired a consultant to make sure that all of Phil's sign language is accurate. They also go as far as to make sure that he makes the appropriate facial expression while signing.
- In a lesser example, the penguins incubate an egg in "Paternal Egg-Stinct" by holding it between their feet. Hardly an obscure animal fact, but it's certainly a notable example for a cartoon.
- Kowalski points out in "Badger Pride" that the two badgers who appear in that episode are "cousins" of Marlene, even going so far as to say that both are in the family mustelidae.
- In "Brain Drain", the fish that restore Kowalski's brain actually DO contain omega fatty acids, even the drawing is correct!
- Slow Motion: The writers love this trope. Nearly every third episode has at least one Slow Motion scene, even if it's for something as simple as Agent X getting hit with a doll. See below too:
- Slow No:
- Maurice and Julien get one in "Gone in a Flash" when the camera slips out of both of their hands.
- Skipper gets one in "Penguiner Takes All" when Julien blows his nose on the flag, and then Julien gets another one later in the same episode when Skipper gets the flag.
- And Private gets one in "Untouchable" when Skipper gets touched by the poison dart frog.
- Another one in "Untouchable" - Mort and Julien get one as Julien is about to be touched by the poison dart frog.
- The Smart Guy: Kowalski.
- Smoke Out: Occurs regularly, usually from a bomb that Rico has spit up.
- The Smurfette Principle: Aside from Alice (who is a minor adversarial character), Marlene is the only main female character. Even then, she isn't featured in every episode.
- Sniff Sniff Nom: Kowalski tends to do this to evidence. He's done it to chameleon footprints and a strand of Julien's hair, among other things.
- Some Kind of Force Field: In "Skorca!", when the penguins attack the killer whale balloon (thinking it's a real whale) and bounce off it, Kowalski remarks that "the creature appears to be protected by some kind of blubbery force field. Also, Whee-hee-hee-hee!"
- Soul Jar: In one episode, the baboons use "backwoods magic" to steal King Julien's "groove" and seal it in a jar until he gives them an apology. Julien, of course, refuses, and a fight for the jar ensues. It falls and breaks at Skipper's feet; Skipper has remained skeptical about the whole "groove in a jar" thing until he starts dancing uncontrollably.
- The Speechless: Phil, who converses only in sign language.
- Spikes of Doom: Seen in "Popcorn Panic" when the birds are getting pushed towards the ceiling by a wave of popcorn:
Skipper: I knew I shouldn't have installed those decorative spikes.
- Spit Take: Kowalski does five in "Mr. Tux". He even lampshades it twice: first by saying that maybe he should set his cup down, and later on by spit-taking on the security keypad to see if it would fix it.
- Stable Time Loop: Occurs in "It's About Time."
- Status Quo Is God: Averted in "The Penguin Stays in the Picture", which ends with Mort's picture on the new zoo brochures instead of Private's.
- Stay in the Kitchen: A rare self-inflicted example in "Miss Understanding"; when Skipper thinks he's actually female, he promptly starts acting out the stereotype, much to Marlene's frustration. The remaining penguins encourage this, complete with Dashing Hero poses and "Don't worry, ladies-- Just let us handle things."
- Stock Scream: The aforementioned "MY CAR!" scream.
- Stomach of Holding: Rico. So much so that an entire episode ("All Choked Up") revolves around him not being able to vomit up a ticking time bomb, thanks to the zookeeper's medicine.
- Stuff Blowing Up: One of Rico's favorite tropes. Especially obvious in "Kaboom and Kabust".
- Subverted Suspicion Aesop:
- The penguins are suspicious of a walrus named Rhonda who moves into Marlene's habitat. They think that the walrus a spy bent on stealing their invention, but Marlene thinks she will be nice once she gets to know her. Once Marlene is upset about Rhonda's messiness, they have her Put on a Bus. But, they realize that the bus is taking her to a polar bear reserve, and take the bus back and put her on a different one. It is then that they realize she has stolen the penguins' invention.
- In the episode "Red Squirrel", the penguins meet Rockgut, an old penguin who has spent his life hunting the Red Squirrel, a notorious enemy from forty years ago. Eventually, they realize that Rockgut has become deluded and paranoid after he imprisons all of their friends, accusing them of being agents of the Red Squirrel. So they send him on a Snipe Hunt to get rid of him, and Private feels sorry for him for chasing someone who may not even exist. In fact, the Red Squirrel does exist, and had been waiting for Rockgut to exit so that he could put his plans in motion.
- Sugar Apocalypse: Almost literally, at the end of "It's About Time", Kowalski has managed to bury the world (or at least New York) in shaved ice.
- Sustained Misunderstanding: Often done with Fred the squirrel:
Kowalksi: [shows picture of Marlene and King Juilen] You there. Have you seen this otter and lemur?
Fred: Which one's the otter?
Kowalski: This one, obviously. Note the whiskers?
Fred: Oh, I thought that was a cat.
Kowalski: Did I say "have you seen this lemur and cat"?
Fred: No. That's why I thought it was odd that you drew a cat.
Kowalski: It's not a cat.
Fred: Then why does it have whiskers?
Kowalski: You know what, forget the otter.
Kowalski: Whatever! Have you seen the lemur?
Fred: What's a lemur?
Kowalski: I think we're done here.
- Swapped Roles: In "King Julien for a Day", Skipper and King Julien swap roles. Interestingly, Julien manages to complete that episode's mission successfully (even if by accident) to Skipper's praise, but there's no praise for Skipper on the other side. And then they go back to being Friendly Enemy at the end of the episode.
- Sweet Tooth: Private and Kowalski. Actually, most of the cast likes to indulge, but those two particularly love their sweets. Kowalski loves candy so much he's horrified at the prospect of a visit to the dentist despite not having any teeth.
- Tailfin Walking: Dr. Blowhole stands on his tailfins in an electric scooter.
- The Talk: Maurice had to give it to Julien to explain that mammal babies don't come from eggs. Julien didn't believe him.
- Talking Animal: Most of the cast.
- Tastes Like Diabetes: Intentionally invoked with Private's favourite TV show, The Lunacorns.
"I call rainbows upside-down colour smiles!"
- Tastes Like Purple: After recovering from an attack by a poisonous frog, Kowalski says, "I could taste sound, but that's over now."
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: When Skipper penguins thinks he's a girl in "Miss Understanding," he promptly dons a floppy pink bow.
- Thank the Maker: At one point in the episode "Jiggles", where Kowalski creates a Blob Monster, he says "Thank the Maker, which in this case is me."
- Theme Tune Cameo: The brassy opening part of the theme occurs regularly when the penguins are about to do something epic. King Julien's short dance-music segment appears in "Out of the Groove."
- Thermometer Gag: See Ass Shove.
- Third Law of Gender Bending: A faulty DNA test has Skipper convinced he's a female. At first he thinks it won't interfere with his job, but then he does things like wait for the others to open the door for him and ask for directions. So he quits the team, puts on a piiiink bow and moves in with Marlene, who is not amused with his outdated ideas of femininity.
- Third Person Person: Joey the kangaroo almost always refers to himself in the third person. Leonard the koala lampshades this in "Kanga Management".
- Time for Plan B:
Julien: Okay, not working, let us move to Plan H.
Maurice: Don't you mean Plan B?
Julien: No, no, Plans B through G are much too ridiculously dangerous.
- Time Travel: "It's About Time" plays with this with a healthy helping of Temporal Paradox and Time Crash.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: The Chronotron in "It's About Time".
- Title Drop: Sort of. In one scene in "Field Tripped," a school kid sees the penguins hiding in an exhibit on Madagascar. His teacher says that there never have been "penguins in Madagascar."
- Toilet Humor:
- Subverted in "Two Feet High and Rising." The episode opens with some farting noises, but it turns out it's actually a helium tank inflating balloons.
- Played straight and subverted in "An Elephant Never Forgets." Early in the episode, Burt stinks up the zoo's restroom after eating a cabbage and broccoli burrito, but the result is never heard or seen. Later on, he pins down a human with his butt, but instead of gassing him, he just offers the human a kazoo that was lost several years ago.
- Lampshaded in "In the Line of Doody," where Private calls the pigeon's fate "poo-etic justice." Skipper is not amused, even calling Private out on his toilet humor.
- Too Soon: Used by Kowalski in "Snakehead!" after Skipper's Disney Death.
- Too Dumb to Live: Dode the Dodo from "Endangerous Species" is quite literally too dumb to live, requiring to be repeatedly cloned after killing himself in a myriad of idiotic ways.
- Total Eclipse of the Plot
- Trademark Favorite Food: Fish, particularly for Rico.
- Trailers Always Spoil: Most of the ads for "The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr Blowhole" trumpted the fact that Alex the Lion would appear and help Skipper. While they didn't spoil the exact context, anyone who saw them could easily figure out Skipper's first two spirit guides wouldn't be sticking around long.
- Treasure Map: Complete with hidden clues and booby traps.
Skipper: A mysterious ancient map. It's classic.
- Truth Serums: What Private eats by accident in "Truth Ache."
- Turn Your Head and Cough: Invoked in "Needle Point."
Skipper: Just a routine visit to the doctor. Turn and cough, boys. Turn and cough.
- Twitchy Eye:
- Lampshaded in "Work Order"; Skipper's eyes keep twitching when he realizes how tenacious a worker is on repairing a water main close to their habitat. After a few twitches, he asks the other penguins if the twitching eye looks weird.
- Private also has a tendency to do this (in a more subtle manner) when out of his comfort zone.
- Tyke Bomb: Eggy is an unintentional one, Played for Laughs -- Skipper and the boys hadn't realized how effective their in-egg training was until "Hard Boiled Eggy". Leads to Defusing the Tykebomb.
- The Unintelligible: Rico, a great deal of the time, although as the show has progressed he has gradually become more easy to understand.
- Unobtanium: MacGuffium in "It's About Time."
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: King Julien.
- Valley Girl: Marlene, at least sometimes.
- Villain Song: Dr Blowhole gets a few in "The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr Blowhole". It's Neil Patrick Harris, we don't need to say how it is.
- Voices Are Mental: Taken to its literal extreme, when Roger the sewer alligator's singing voice becomes a delayed plot point.
- Warts and All: Buck Rockgut, as introduced in "The Red Squirrel."
- Weaponized Landmark: A minor landmark, but in one episode, the Red Squirrel hides a missile inside Cleopatra's Needle at Central Park.
- We Have Reserves: Doctor Blowhole says as much while trying to rally his Mooks to take on the penguins.
- We Only Have One Chance: In "Wishful Thinking" when the Penguins are being taken away after their secret has been exposed, Skipper tells Private that he has only shot at making his wish that none of it ever happened.
- We Want Our Jerk Back: Occurs in "Eclipsed." King Julien is led to believe that the eclipse is caused by him being a jerk to everyone so he decides to be nice but he becomes very annoying trying to help everyone. An annoyed group of penguins and a made up "sign from the sky spirits" later he's back to normal.
- What Is This Feeling?: King Julien's first feeling of guilt, in "Assault and Batteries":
Julien: But what is this feeling I am feeling? It is not a happiness. It is a feeling that I have not done all I should have done. I do not like it! How do I make it go away?
- What the Hell, Hero?: Kowalski gets an interesting one after confessing to the others where he got the parts he needed for his mind reading machine. Nobody says anything, but their expressions -- and the mind reader -- make it clear.
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Dr. Blowhole has the latest expensive technology, but where he got the money for them is never mentioned.
- Who Would Want to Watch Us?: When Private wishes that he was on a tv show, Skipper replied that a show about the exploits of penguins would be too awesome for viewers to see.
- William Telling: Kowalski wishes for a plasma blaster and then uses it to shoot an apple off Rico's head.
- With Lyrics: The main theme at one point.
- World of Ham: Skipper and Julien are the two largest hams in the series, but yelling, exaggerated gestures and wild facial expressions pretty much run rampant.
- The Worf Effect:
- The sewer rats seem to exist mainly so the cast can have moments of awesome against them.
- Joey is a major offender.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Though it wasn't his original intent, Private pulls this in "Love Hurts", getting Hospital Hottie Shawna to think the others caused his injuries.
- The X of Y
- Yandere: Mort for Julien.
- You Already Changed the Past: See Stable Time Loop Above
- You Fight Like a Cow: Hans and Skipper engage in this during their battle in "Huffin n' Puffin".
- You Say Tomato: Dr. Blowhole pronounces "penguins" as "pen-gyu-ins". Kowalski theorizes that he does it just "to tick us off". In Blowhole Strikes Back, Kowalski responds by calling Blowhole a "dolph-er-in".
- You Won't Feel a Thing: Needle Point, with several Scream Discretion Shots.