The Smurfs are many things. At just the height of three apples each, they are an almost 99% male race, have short stubby tails, are very blue, each of them wears a similar set of clothes and yet they are remarkably smurfy...er, happy. A little over one hundred in number, they live together in mushroom houses in Smurf Village, organised under the wisdom of a 543 year-old smurf named Papa Smurf. Each smurf contributes towards keeping the village running in his or her own way.
Each smurf is truly unique - despite the limitations of almost all of them having the same colour, size and clothes as each other. They each have a defining characteristic (and usually an accessory), which is generally related to his or her name. For instance, Handy Smurf has white overalls and a pencil behind his ear, and he invents and fixes things. Poet Smurf is recognisable by a quill and parchment in his hand, and he tries to be eloquent and poetic. Guess what Baker Smurf does...
Most smurfs are about 100 years old and live in harmony (in more ways than one), with conflict only arising when the baddies seek to capture or corrupt their civilisation (boo, hiss).
A Smurfy Language
It sure is a smurfy day.
What does this phrase mean? To most people, the actual meaning may well be rather ambiguous. But those familiar with the world of the Smurfs will realise that it can mean many things - depending on how it is said and who says it. It could be 'It sure is a great day' or 'It sure is a lousy day.' It's only unfortunate that the reader can't see the context of the comment to further understand it1.
The word 'smurf' and words derived from it are usually pronouns (though not really pronouns, as they can take the place of any word from any part of speech) in the world of a race of tiny blue creatures of the same name. They have the remarkable ability to decipher what the word 'smurf' means in conversation, in a way that would make a Babel Fish2 gasp. Smurfs understand each other through subtle tones and inflections in their speech. However, we can only use context to understand them.
Smurfy is an adjective, and that's all you need to know. If Grouchy Smurf (see below) says it, it is probably a bad thing, and if one of the happier smurfs says it, it's probably a good thing.
Who are the Smurfs?
Each Smurf is unique, with his name reflecting his character. Most Smurfs also have a unique trait to make them recognisable. Here is a short guide to some of the Smurfs:
Papa Smurf is the oldest, wisest and most magical of the Smurfs. He is the leader of the village, and his responsibilities include settling disputes, making plans to rescue any of the members of the village in trouble and making magical potions and spells to protect their isolated home (with spells that make people who happen upon the village forget it). He has a laboratory, and wears a beard and red clothes.
Smurfette was the first female Smurf in the village. She has blonde hair, a dress and more feminine shoes. Gargamel, the main enemy of the Smurfs, brought the girl Smurf to the village in order to corrupt them, but Papa Smurf used his magic to make her a genuine Smurf, and she has remained one from then on.
Brainy wears black glasses and claims to be the smartest Smurf around - though he's most often wrong about what he talks about. He is often the cause of the Smurf's problems, usually because he is rather glory-hungry. Most Smurfs in the village dislike Brainy.
Dreamy daydreams a lot, of all sorts of places. The first time we see the Smurfs, Dreamy becomes Astrosmurf and wishes to go to outer space. He is always wishing and dreaming of strange things.
Hefty has a red heart tattoo and is the strongest Smurf. He is often seen lifting weights, in gym shorts and a green jersey.
Lazy is always napping, and tired. He can usually be seen in the background, yawning or snoring.
Handy is the most useful of the Smurfs, as he can repair or invent anything. His inventions make life easier for the Smurfs and sometimes solve problems. However, when his inventions malfunction, there can be serious problems. He has a pencil behind his ear and wears overalls.
Clumsy is a benign person who often trips over himself and his loose clothes. He is probably the only person in the village who is friends with Brainy.
Baker makes gourmet dishes for the Smurf village, including several special creations that he created. However, his great dishes are sometimes stolen by Greedy Smurf, and he can often be seen chasing Greedy around with a rolling pin.
Greedy manages to personify one of the Seven Deadly Sins - the one after which he is named. He steals baked items from Baker Smurf, but at one point he learns that his lifestyle isn't healthy.
Tailor designs and makes all of the clothes in the village. He wears a tape measure as a scarf and has needles around him. It's somewhat strange that he has a tape measure with him always, as all of the Smurfs are basically of the same proportion and wear basically the same clothes at all times.
Vanity, like Greedy, personifies one of the Seven Deadly Sins - Pride. He worries about his appearance more than anything else and wears a flower in his hat. Usually, he has a mirror in front of him.
Grouchy generally says nothing but 'I hate this' or 'I hate that.' He is grouchy, mean and doesn't like anything. The distinguishing thing about him is the scowl that's always on his face.
Jokey has a lot of things that explode loudly. He carries around giftboxes with fuses on them and when they explode, he lets out a big laugh.
Painter is a temperamental artist, with a French accent. He carries around brushes and a palette and is dressed in a brown jacket and tie.
Farmer plants and harvests all of the crops for Smurf Village. He wears blue overalls and a brown straw hat.
Harmony is a Smurf who is accompanied by bad trumpet music. He tries very hard to be a great musician, but people in the village find his music annoying. He carries around a yellow trumpet.
Wild wears a loincloth and also dons a green leaf for a hat. He grew up outside of the village, separately from the others. He can speak to animals.
Tracker is an outdoor Smurf with a big hiking stick.
There are also several children and various other characters-
Baby was delivered to the village by a stork. He has magical powers and speaks in a baby-speak kind of way, which is slightly less discernible than the Smurf-speak that the others use.
Snappy, Slouchy and Nat are Smurflings who were old but had the ageing process reversed. Snappy can be a bit mean and rough, Slouchy is relaxed and casual and Nat loves animals.
Sassette is a sister to the three original Smurflings, who they created. She has red hair, freckles and wears a set of pink overalls. She's something of a tomboy.
Clockwork is a wooden-looking robot created by Handy. He is a powerful and intelligent robot, who doesn't exactly live in the Smurf village, but visits often.
Grandpa is the oldest Smurf and lived outside the village for half a century. He is an active old man, with yellow clothes, a beard, a cane and glasses.
Mother Nature makes several cameo appearances with the Smurfs.
Nanny babysits the smaller Smurfs, and has a pink bunny named Smoogle. She has grey hair, reading glasses and a pink dress.
King Gerard is a very young man, on a throne. He is friends with the Smurfs, and does what he can to help them.
Puppy was a gift to the Smurfs, and belongs to Baby Smurf. He protects all of the Smurfs from their enemies, especially the younger ones.
Johan works for the King and helps the Smurfs sometimes. His companion is Peewit, who plays a lute (poorly).
Feathers is a bird who helps carry the Smurfs to where they need to go and also carries messages.
Though it can hardly be believed, there are some in the vicinity of the Smurfs who would seek to corrupt and destroy their quaint way of life. Luckily, the Smurfs manage to thwart - in one way or another - their would-be killers and captors each time.
Gargamel is a sorceror and the most prominent of the Smurf-hunters, having attempted to destroy their civilisation hundreds of times. He's done everything from creating Smurfette purely in order to corrupt them to disguising himself as a Smurf. Just about every Smurf has at some point been captured by Gargamel, only to escape time and time again. This brings in to question his motives, of course. It is hinted that not only are the Smurfs a delicacy, but they are also useful in magic and making gold. It has also been said that he wants to prove that they exist, because he is thought to be crazy by other sorcerors for his belief in Smurfs. You have to draw your own conclusions about the motives of an angry man who lives in the woods with his cat, wearing clothing of the same quality as a potato sack with nothing better to do than to hunt half-naked blue creatures all day long.
Azrael is Gargamel's loyal brown cat, who chases the Smurfs for his master. Although he is a cat without any dialogue, you get the feeling that he is truly evil and really hates the Smurfs.
Scruple is Gargamel's nephew/apprentice who joins his uncle in the forest after an incomplete term in Wizard School (he got kicked out). While not as mean as Gargamel, Scruple sometimes causes trouble to the Smurfs, but more often causes trouble to his master.
The Wartmongers are ugly, disgusting toad-like creatures who live in mud and other unsanitary conditions. Sometimes, the Smurfs find themselves captured by the Wartmongers, who, for whatever reasons, don't have the decency to release them.
Balthazar is the godfather of Gargamel, and is a meaner, colder wizard - who hates the Smurfs as much, if not more, than his godson.
The Smurfs debuted on NBC in the United States in September, 1981. It was originally created by a Belgian cartoonist named Peyo Culliford. Their original name was the Schtroumpfs. The rights were bought by NBC after the President of the network Fred Silverman saw that his daughter liked a Schtroumpf doll.
The show was very popular on Saturday mornings. In order to keep the programme fresh, the character list was constantly reinvented. In 1982, the characters Johan and Peewit - also originally by Peyo Culliford - were given their own sections of the show, but were unpopular and were discontinued.
All was well and constant in Smurf Village, for the most part, but outside of it things were happening. Due of the fear of communism at that time, and the Smurf system of government being essentially that, there was some controversy. Also, some considered the show to be sexist, because the only female smurf was Smurfette, and she was created as a tool to corrupt the village.
The show won two Emmys for Outstanding Children's Programme. There were also six specials, The Smurfs Springtime Special, The Smurfs Christmas Special, My Smurfy Valentine, The Smurfic Games, Smurfily Ever After and finally the festive 'Tis the Season to be Smurfy.
Every sort of imaginable product was made of the Smurfs. Dolls of the characters were especially popular. Since there were so many characters, and since they were easy to make up, potentially hundreds of Smurf dolls could be made. Family Smurf meals were sold, records were produced... the list is almost endless.
In 1989, the show tried one last reinvention technique with the Smurfs leaving the Smurf village. However, it wasn't quite the same, and the show was cancelled in December, 1989. Still, it lives on in syndication after 421 episodes.