Penguins in popular culture

Penguins in popular culture

Penguins are popular around the world primarily for their unusually upright, waddling pace, their magnificent swimming ability, and (compared to other birds) lack of fear toward humans. [ [ Why are penguins such good box office?] ] Their striking black and white plumage is often likened to a tuxedo suit and generates humorous remarks about the bird being "well dressed". [ [ March of the Penguins] ]

Penguins as figures in pop culture experienced a resurgence in the mid-2000s thanks to films like "March of the Penguins", [ [,,1120456,00.html March of the Penguins Pop Culture News] ] "Madagascar", "Happy Feet", and "Surf's Up". [Susan Glaser, [ "Penguins are pop culture's hottest thing"] , "The Seattle Times" (Tuesday, December 19, 2006).] On April 1, 2008 the BBC released a short film of penguins in flight and migrating to the South American rainforest as an April Fool's joke.


The bird is typically depicted as a friendly and comical figure, with considerable personal dignity despite its physical limitations. Perhaps in reaction to this cutesy stereotype, fictional penguins are occasionally presented as grouchy or even sinister. The popular Sanrio character Badtz Maru is an example, being cute yet somewhat surly. The 1960s television cartoon character Tennessee Tuxedo would often escape the confines of his zoo with his partner, Chumley the walrus. In the movie "Madagascar", the penguins are cast as highly trained soldiers or government agents with devious schemes and plans. The MMORPG RuneScape portrays Penguins to also be devious in nature, with a background similair to that of Russia (Their capital is Palingrad instead of Stalingrad, they have KGP agents instead of KGB agents), hence the name of the quest in which they are starred "Cold War." They have an enormous military complex with training facilities, living areas, interrogation rooms, and agility courses and are shown to have plans of domination similair to the ones in Madagascar. They are also in the animated series "Wallace and Gromit" a penguin called Feathers McGraw disguises himself as a chicken with a red rubber glove. Penguins are often portrayed as friendly and smart as well. Another example is in the anime "Neon Genesis Evangelion", which features a warm-water penguin named Pen Pen.


* Penguin, Tasmania is a town in Australia, located at coord|41|7|0|S|146|4|15|E|region:AU_type:city(2,876) ( [ Map Quest] ).

Politics and military

*The penguin (the "Liberty Penguin" [] ) is an unofficial symbol of the United States Libertarian Party.
*Nils Olav, a King Penguin living in Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland, is the mascot and Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Norwegian Guard.
*Penguin Vic was a character created to promote tourism in Victoria, Australia
*Supporters and collaborators of Argentine president Néstor Kirchner are known informally as "penguins", and "pingüino" (the Spanish for penguin) is the nickname of the President himself, alluding to his birthplace in the cold southern region of Patagonia. [Buenos Aires Herald. [ March of the Penguins.] .] [es icon Clarín. 18 January 2006. [ "Un combate entre "pingüinos" por la estratégica secretaría de Agricultura."] ]
*Penguin, a type of missile manufactured by Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace.

Sports mascots

*Penguins are the namesake of the Pittsburgh Penguins (mascot's name: "Iceburgh") of the National Hockey League, their farm team, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the sports teams of Youngstown State University (mascot's name: "Pete").
* The school mascot of New England Conservatory of Music (Boston, MA) is the Fighting Penguin.
* The mascot of North Otago RUFC is Bluey the penguin, due to two penguin colonies located in Oamaru, one of which is Blue penguins
* Diego the penguin is the mascot of the Diego Tartan Army based in Inverness. He was adopted in Lithuania by members of the Tartan Army who follow the Scotland football team abroad. [ [ Diego Tartan Army] ]

Gay couples

* In the mid-2000s, several researchers and zoo directors publicised cases of male-male penguin couples forming lasting attachments and in some cases raising chicks together. This caught the public imagination, see Homosexuality_in_animals#Penguins.
* (2006) A movie review of "Brokeback Mountain" opined that "Gay cowboys are now the new penguins," [ [] ] , a rhetorical device called a snowclone which includes a double reference to the surprise success of the love story, supplanting the previous year's dark horse, the documentary "March of the Penguins"; and to the publicity given to the gay penguin couples.

Food items

*Pingvin, Danish salted liquorice sweets. [Pingvin Salted Liquorice [ site] ]
*Penguin, chocolate biscuit manufactured by McVitie's
*Kid Cuisine, with a penguin named K.C. as its mascot
*Penguin Mints, a brand of caffeinated mints

Penguins and polar bears

Despite what commercials and other sources may show, penguins and polar bears cannot meet without human intervention. This is because the two species are found on opposite hemispheres. Polar bears inhabit the northern hemisphere, while penguins mainly inhabit the southern hemisphere. This is a misconception that is fueled by popular culture such as movies and television. A prominent example of this takes place in a holiday 2005 ad campaign by Coca-Cola featuring the partying penguins and the polar bears watching from afar. This can also be sparked by the popular joke, sometimes shown on the wrapper of a Penguin, which asks, "Why don't polar bears eat penguins? Because they can't take the wrapper off."


* Penguin books is a long-established British publishing house specialising in paperback imprints.
*"Pondus the Penguin" is the eponymous main character in a 1968 photographed Danish children's book by Ivar Myrhøj.
*The children's book "Mr. Popper's Penguins" details Mr. Popper and his 12 performing penguins.
*Three children's books by Janet Perlman --"Cinderella Penguin", "The Emperor Penguin's New Clothes", and "The Penguin and the Pea"--retell classic children's stories with a penguin twist.
*The children's book "One Hot Penguin", by Jamie Rix
*"The Penguins of Doom" by Greg R. Fishbone features Spots, Stripes, and Solids, three bow tie-wearing penguins who follow the main character around.
*"Penguin Island" by Anatole France
*"Learning to Fly" by Sebastian Meschenmoser
*H. P. Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness" features giant blind albino penguins around an underground sea in Antarctica.
*Every Russian schoolchild knows and loves Maxim Gorky's reference to the "stupid penguin" in his "Song of a Storm petrel".
*"And Tango Makes Three" by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole. "In the Zoo there are all kinds of animal families. But Tango's family is not like any of the others." (The true story of a penguin chick raised by two males at the Central Park Zoo.)
* "Gus and Waldo's Book of Love" features the eponymous gay penguins who are in love with one another.
*"Anansi Boys" by Neil Gaiman features a scene in which the two main characters find themselves briefly being pursued by approximately a million penguins.


Feature films

* In the major animated sequence of the film, "Mary Poppins", Mary and Bert are served by a group of overeager penguin waiters. Afterward, Bert has an extended dance sequence with them, soon lowering his trousers to imitate their stubby legs.
*One of the main villains of the movie "Batman Returns" was the Penguin who, in the film, was raised by penguins. In this movie he also formed an army of penguins to attack Gotham City. Their equipment included back mounted rockets and laser eye sights. He also appears in ' and '.
*"Mr Forbush and The Penguins" (imdb_title|title=Mr Forbush and The Penguins|id=0066961) starred John Hurt as a womanizing biologist who goes to the South Pole as a means of impressing his latest girlfriend.
*In the 2004 romantic comedy, "50 First Dates" Adam Sandler's character has a pet penguin named Willie.
*The movie "Billy Madison" featured a penguin that was a nemesis of Adam Sandler's character.
*Jessica Alba's character from the romantic comedy "Good Luck Chuck" worked in a zoo with penguins.


*The documentary "March of the Penguins" (2005) details a year in the life of a colony of Emperor Penguins mating, giving birth, and hunting for food in the harsh continent of Antarctica. This film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Film in 2005.
*"" features penguins in its Antarctic segment.


*"The Three Caballeros" is a Disney animated feature, within which is the short segment "The Cold-Blooded Penguin", starring Pablo the Penguin.
* The animated Don Bluth film "The Pebble and the Penguin" is centered around the mating ritual of the Adelie penguin.
* "3-2-1 Penguins!" was a series of Christian animated videos for children. The series was produced by Big Idea Productions, the makers of "VeggieTales", and its stories featured lessons from the Bible.
*Chilly Willy is the name of an animated character in Walter Lantz's series of theatrical shorts. ( [] ). It appears in "The Woody Woodpecker Show".
*The claymation animated film "The Wrong Trousers" from "Wallace & Gromit" features a ruthless criminal penguin named Feathers McGraw.
*There were four penguins (Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private) in Dreamworks' 2005 animated film "Madagascar". They were featured again as main characters in a short Christmas special, "The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper".
*The anime series "Neon Genesis Evangelion" featured Pen-Pen, a pet/mascot.
*There was a penguin character named Wheezy in Disney's "Toy Story 2". He would later make a cameo appearance at the beginning of the direct-to-video "".
*Martini the penguin is a major supporting character in the Christmas television special "Olive, the Other Reindeer". He earns his living selling fake watches.
*"The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin" is a ten minute animated film based on the story of Cinderella, featuring a cast of medieval penguins. It was directed by Janet Perlman and produced by the National Film Board of Canada.
*"Happy Feet" is a CGI-animated movie featuring penguins, released under Warner Bros. It applies a musical treatment and a modified version of the ugly duckling fable to the lifecycle of the Emperor Penguins, with an additional plotline about the impact of human fishing activities on penguin (and other Antarctic animal) food sources. The fable theme plays against the high visual similarity of penguins of the same species to one another (at least from a human perspective) in emphasizing how one individual may stand out from the crowd.*Mumble "Happy Feet" is the main character.
*"The Adventures of Scamper the Penguin" (original title "Chiisana penguin Lolo no bouken"), a 1988 Japanese animated film featuring the early life of the main penguin character. In some countries, Scamper is known as "Lolo".
*Cozy Heart Penguin a star of "The Care Bears Movie".
*The 2007 animated feature "Surf's Up" is about surfing penguins. Cody Maverick is the star.
*Peabo "Pudge" Pudgemeyer is a penguin character in Cats Don't Dance.

Other films

* The penguin is The Narrator power animal in "Fight Club".
*Farce of the Penguins is a parody of 2005's March of the Penguins that was written by Bob Saget, released January 2007.



*Penguins often make guest appearances on the Coca-Cola Polar Bear commercials, despite the fact that the species live on opposite poles in real life.
*A sinister penguin was the short lived mascot of Bud Ice, starring in commercials in 1996 themed "Beware the Penguins". The bird would appear either first in disguise, or from hiding (for example, in a hollowed out bookshelf speaker in one commercial) and take hold of an unsuspecting victim's Bud Ice, while eerily singing "Dooby Dooby Doo". One commercial even had him stealing the Stanley Cup during the 1996 NHL Playoffs. The mascot did not last long after a menswear company sued, and Budweiser soon after pulled the ads in favor of a mascot that would better tie in with their products. Many speculate who that the bird was actually referencing the line "Strangers in the Night" sung by Frank Sinatra, this has never been confirmed but is likely, as it is the closing line of the song.

Animated shows

*In the "Super Sentai" series Juken Sentai Gekiranger, Fist Sage Michelle Peng (an anthropomorphic penguin) trains Ran Uzaki/GekiYellow Fierce Beast Penguin-Fist (激獣ペンギン拳, "Gekijū Penginken"), which utilizes boardsport skills in battle. Super GekiYellow's Super GekiBeast GekiPenguin uses a jetboard to perform Gekiwazas.
*Tennessee Tuxedo - an animated cartoon airing in the early sixties on CBS.
* "Futurama" featured a whole colony of penguins in 'The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz'. Leela finds them extremely cute, like "(i)f kittens and puppies could have babies."
* An episode of "The Simpsons" featured penguins in the "Antarctica" warship when Homer steers a ship into international waters. His vessel is surrounded by ships from several places including the United States, Canada, China, and Antarctica. In the "Brake My Wife, Please", Lisa peeps into a penguin habitat closed for repair, surprising the penguins flying in the room. Once they notice her, they resume their usual "undercover" behavior. In the episode "Bart's Comet", penguins can be seen flying away once they see the comet nearing Springfield.
* The Swiss television programme "Pingu" featured the claymation adventures of a young penguin and his family in 5 minute episodes; the program proved popular in a diverse group of countries including its native Switzerland, New Zealand, Japan and the UK.
* Bugs Bunny encounters a lost penguin in the "Looney Tunes" short "8 Ball Bunny" and assists it in its travels to Antarctica. The penguin goes on to make a cameo appearance in the "Looney Tunes"-inspired film "Space Jam" in 1996.
* Tony Kornheiser performs the "Penguin Dance" frequently on the show "PTI". He likes to claim that the dance is sweeping the nation, to the dismay of his partner Michael Wilbon.
*"Count Duckula" featured penguins; one episode showed them a crew of pirates on the high seas and creating a mutiny, while another showed them all as servants and butlers for (appropriately) a bellicose walrus, who became hostile when they were not paid.
* In "King of the Hill", one of Luanne Platter's "Manger Babies" puppets, Sir Reginald Featherbottom III, is a penguin.

Live action

*Monty Python wrote two sketches about penguins. The first was about a pair of pepperpots watching one stand on top of their television. They discuss where it might have come from and before long, the penguin explodes. The other sketch involves them more directly. It has a documentary-style approach as to whether or not a penguin is smarter than a human being. It is followed by a Terry Gilliam animation about penguins replacing important figures in the world.
* A skit on the Australian show "Ronnie Johns" mentions 'A Penguin will choose a partner and mate for life. You probably don't have a girlfriend or a boyfriend. The Penguin is happier than you and the Penguin is better than you'.
* The "Red Dwarf" episode "Quarantine" featured a penguin glove puppet called "Mr. Flibble" used by Arnold Rimmer.
* In a third season episode of "Mind of Mencia", a pair of penguins are left on Carlos' doorstep. He takes them in and teaches them how to survive in LA while protecting them from Joseph, who wants to eat the "tuxedo chickens". When the penguins, on the run from the law, eventually return to Antarctica, they are followed by Joseph. However, using what Carlos taught them, they overpower him and roast him over a fire.
*The Penguin was a villain in the 1960s "Batman" TV series, played by Burguess Meredith, "", voiced by Paul Williams, and "The Batman", voiced by Tom Kenny.
*In the show "Frisky Dingo", Killface uses his pet penguin, Baby Lamont, as his mascot for his presidential campaign.


Video games

*Age of Wonders: The "Dire Penguin" is an animal unit associated with the Frostlings in the PC games "Age of Wonders" and the third game of the series, "".
*Bloody Heat: "Cronos" from "" transforms into a Penguin as his regular beast mode and into a Phoenix during his Hyper mode.
*Crash Bandicoot: Penta, a character from the "Crash Bandicoot" series, is a penguin.
*Penguins are the avatars for the online multiplayer game "Club Penguin".
*"" introduced the Prinnies, demonic penguins that use bombs and knives and explode when thrown.
*In the "Kirby series" the character King Dedede is often thought to be a penguin and in the crossover game "Super Smash Bros. Brawl", Solid Snake calls King Dedede a penguin.
*Komai:A penguin (often named Pentarou) is a main character in a number of 1980s Konami games (namely "Antarctic Adventure" and "Penguin Adventure"), and shows up as a playable character in others, notably the "Parodius" series.
*"Mega Man X" features a boss known as Chill Penguin.
*Mortal Kombat:"Scorpion" from "Mortal Kombat" can transform into a penguin as an animality
*Pengo:Sega's 1982 video-game "Pengo" stars a penguin as the main character.
*Penguins are freed from large blocks of ice in the egames "Penguin Puzzle" PC game.
*Pingus: Penguins are featured in the computer game "Pingus", similar to the classic computer game "Lemmings".
*"Pitfall": In fact, one part of the game involves fighting the protagonist as a penguin. Strangely unlike the typical South American penguins, the penguins from "Pitfall" have crests like the crested penguins.
*In the "Pokémon" series, there are three penguin-based pokemon: Piplup, Prinplup, and Empoleon. The pokemon Delibird also appears to be penguin-based, but not fully.
*In "RuneScape" penguins are NPCs found in three areas of the member's game Lumbridge, Ardougne Zoo, and an iceberg north of Relleka.
* "Sonic the Hedgehog 3" includes enemy penguin robots in Ice Cap Zone. The "Sonic" series also has penguins appear as real animals freed from machines in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2", "Sonic the Hedgehog 3", and "Sonic Adventure". "Sonic Adventure 2" has penguins spread out through levels to collect and use with Chao.
*The Nintendo 64 game "Super Mario 64" features a level in which a mother and baby penguin are prominent characters. These penguins are favorite characters of Nintendo producer Shigeru Miyamoto and go on to appear in other Nintendo titles such as "Mario Kart 64", "", "Mario Pinball Land" and "Super Mario Galaxy".
*Yetisports:Penguins feature prominently in the popular "Yetisports" series of Flash games.
*The video game "" and its predecessor "Zoo Tycoon" both depict penguins as being killers. "Extinct Animals" even includes a killer penguin, an "accident" according to the in-game encyclopedia. Killer penguins are capable of killing a "Tyrannosaurus".
*In Sims 2 expansion pack, , penguins are included.
*In Terranigma, the protagonist visits a village of penguins, named Penginea.


*The official mascot of the Linux kernel is Tux, a penguin, who features in several computer games, such as "Tux Racer". The Gentoo Linux distribution is named after the gentoo penguin.
*The icon of Tencent QQ, the IM software, is a penguin.


*Opus the penguin was a main character in Berke Breathed's comic strips "Bloom County", "Outland", and "Opus".
*Sparky is a main character in the weekly cartoon "This Modern World" by Tom Tomorrow.
*"Pokey the Penguin" is a popular webcomic which began in 1998.
*Frobisher is a penguin (actually, a shape-shifting alien who liked the penguin shape) who appeared in the "Doctor Who Monthly" comic strips in the 1980s. Despite not being strictly canon, he is considered an important part of the "Doctor Who" mythos.
*DC Comics' "Batman" contains a villain named the Penguin, who has also appeared in movies and live-action television programs as well as cartoons. While actually a human, his long nose, stout shape and love of birds have earned him the nickname.
*Ted the penguin inhabits the home of Ethan, Lucas, Scott and Lilah in the Ctrl Alt Del (webcomic), ostensibly as the pet of Scott, the web-comic's Linux guru.
*Linus the penguin, named after Linux creator Linus Torvalds, is a character in the webcomic "Nukees".
*"Wally and Osborne" (formerly "On the Rocks") stars an adelie penguin named Osborne (formerly Osbourne). The comic, set in Antarctica, features several penguins and offers facts about the species.
*"Arctic Circle" is a comic strip about three penguins who move to the North Pole.
*The tendency of penguins to form large groups feeds the stereotype that they all look exactly alike, with no discernible individuality, a popular notion exploited by cartoonists such as Gary Larson. One entry in "The Far Side" depicts such a group, with one bird standing above the others, singing, "I've Got to Be Me".


* The band Penguin Cafe Orchestra.
* Fleetwood Mac released a record in early 1973 called PENGUIN.
*Italian progressive rock band Murple's 1974 album "Io Sono Murple" tells the story of a penguin named Murple who leaves his home in Antarctica and encounters the Evil Man.
* Pigloo is a French band which base their songs on penguins. Their videos also feature animated penguins.
*The song "Sweaters for Penguins" appears on James Gordon's CD "Tune Cooties". It was written in response to a news event in 2000.
*Frobisher, the talking alien penguin from the "DWM" comics, has appeared in several of the licensed "Doctor Who" audio plays produced by Big Finish, including "The Holy Terror" and "The Maltese Penguin".
*Sack Trick's second album, "Penguins on the Moon", is the tale of four heroic penguins who journeyed to the moon in search of a more habitable climate.
*dredg's fifth album "El Cielo" features a song called "Triangle" with repetitious lyrics asking "We live like penguins in the desert, why can't we live like tribes?"
*Woob's "Woob1194" album features Emperor Penguins on the album cover.
* The band Chiodos has a song on their first album, All's Well That Ends Well, called "There's No Penguins In Alaska". Despite the title, the song itself has virtually nothing to do with penguins or Alaska.
*"Penguins" is the title and subject of the humorous tenth track of singer Lyle Lovett's 1994 album, "I Love Everybody". Why? Because "Penguins are so my needs."
* The song Penguins and Polar Bears by pop/punk band Millencolin, having to do with two completely opposite people trying to make a relationship work, as penguins are found in the South and polar bears in the North, never together.

Penguin characters not mentioned above

*Badtz-Maru - Sanrio character who is a lovable "bad boy".
*Joe & Sally - Two penguins who travelled around the world in an art project of Willy Puchner


*The traditional black-and-white apparel of Roman Catholic nuns led to the term "penguin" as a name Catholic school students would call a nun, though never to her face, of course -- as with the nun character early in the film, "The Blues Brothers".
*Ron Cey, former Major League Baseball player, was nicknamed "Penguin" due to his relatively short-legged appearance and "waddling" run.
*Original Penguin is a brand of apparel, worn by Adam Brody in the popular television show "The O.C.".
*Due to the popular association of penguins with icy sea, some ship and waterfront goods handling warning signs [ [ International Pictograph Shipping and Handling Label Series] ] show a penguin crossed out to mean "Do not freeze this item".


External links

* [ ABC News: Penguins Waddle Into the Culture Wars]
* [ Penguins in popular culture]
* [ Penguins pack pop-culture punch]
* [ The Penguin Guide Penguins in Popular Culture]
* [ The Pop Culture of Penguins]
* [ The Penguin's Longing of Willy Puchner]

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