The Smurfs - or as its Belgian creator called it ‘Les Schtroumpfs’ - is possibly one of the most famous comics around the world. With its colorful characters and whimsical storytelling, the tale was not only a successful comic series but also a fabulous cartoon, which you can now watch on TV5MONDEplus in French with English subtitles.
In this deep dive article into the wonderful universe of "The Smurfs", parents will find a treasure trove of information to make their children's journey in the magical forest where the smurfs live, a memorable one.
We'll touch on various aspects of The Smurfs' cartoon series including:
Where can I watch The Smurfs?
What is The Smurfs about?
Who are the main characters of The Smurfs?
10 facts you didn’t know about The Smurfs
What are the names of the Smurfs in French and in English?
You can now stream six seasons of The Smurfs animated series on TV5MONDEplus. That’s 175 episodes in total, which are available in French with English subtitles on the French streaming platform (click here for more info and how to subscribe to TV5MONDE).
The Smurfs first appeared on the small screen in 1981. The show takes place in a magical forest where the Smurfs – little troll-like blue characters – live in harmony in mushroom-shaped houses. The main character is a Smurf named Papa Smurf, who is the wise and respected leader of the Smurf community. Other important characters include the mischievous Smurfette, the bumbling inventor Handy Smurf, and the grumpy Grouchy Smurf.
Each episode on TV5MONDEplus follows the Smurfs as they face various challenges and obstacles, often at the hands of the villainous wizard Gargamel and his cat Azrael. Despite these challenges, the Smurfs always find a way to come together and overcome their problems, often with the help of Papa Smurf's wisdom and guidance
Papa Smurf (le grand Schtroumpf)
Papa Smurf is sort of a father figure for all the Smurfs - think Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. Papa Smurf is the only one with a white beard and a red Phrygian cap – unlike other Smurfs which have a white cap. He is known for his wisdom, kindness, and his ability to create magic potions. He often helps the other Smurfs solve their problems, especially when the villain Gargamel has a plan to kidnap the Smurfs. He also regularly acts as a mediator in disputes. According to the Smurfs creator Peyo, he is 542 years old.
Smurfette (la Schtroumpfette)
Smurfette is probably the most well loved character by children in the Smurfs universe. Although it’s never mentioned in the animated-series, the comic books introduced her as a creation by the evil wizard Gargamel as a means to infiltrate the Smurfs and create chaos from within. But once again Papa Smurf came to the rescue of the Smurfs. He was able to transform her into a real Smurf using his magic. Smurfette is the only female Smurf in the village, and she is easily recognizable by her blonde hair, white dress, and high heels. She is often depicted as sweet, kind, but sometimes a bit vain. In the cartoon available on TV5MONDEplus, Smurfette's character was given more depth, which was also true in the later album of The Smurfs.
Brainy Smurf (le Schtroumpf à lunettes)
Brainy Smurf is easily recognizable by his round glasses and his red pants. Brainy Smurf is known to be the smartest, which often leads him to arrogance. He is also known for his tendency to use long, complicated words and to lecture other Smurfs about their behavior. His intellect still often helps the other Smurfs, usually through making potions or inventing new tools.
Handy Smurf (le Schtroumpf bricoleur)
Handy Smurfs can be differentiated by his brown overalls and his pencil behind his ear. Handy Smurf is known for his skills as a handyman and inventor. He is often seen building or repairing various objects and devices for the other Smurfs, such as wagons, bridges, and houses.
Grouchy Smurf (Le Schtroumpf grognon)
Grouchy Smurf has a dark blue color, a unibrow, and a perpetual frown. Of course, Grouchy Smurf is… cranky and complains about everything. Despite his negative attitude, Grouchy Smurf has a good heart and often helps the other Smurfs when they need it, although he grumbles about the whole way through.
He’s the meany, the villain, the primary antagonist of the Smurfs. The character is reminiscent of Quasimodo from ‘The Hunchback of Notre-Dame’ (‘Notre-Dame de Paris’). He has a hunchbacked appearance, a very long nose, and a black robe. Just like Papa Smurf, Gargamel is a wizard but he uses his talent for evil means. His dream is to capture the Smurfs, whom he sees as a source of great power and wealth. He often uses his loyal cat, Azrael, to help him in his schemes. It is not clear why Gargamel is so mean to the Smurfs, but it is likely due to his desire for power and his jealousy of their peaceful way of life.
The Smurfs were almost pink!
Peyo had first drawn the Smurfs characters for a short animated film he was working on. In the first drawing, the Smurfs, which were just simple trolls, were pink and they all boasted a flowery hat instead of the classic white hat they have now.
Smurfs live in the Middle Ages
Because they live in an imaginary land, you may have never wondered when The Smurfs comic and TV show is supposed to take place. Well, Peyo had an idea about it. The Smurfs comic series is set in the Middle Ages, although there are obvious anachronisms like the existence of trains and potatoes!
The Smurfs almost never made it to America…
Following the massive success of Les Schtroumpfs all across Europe, American networks started gaining interest in the TV adaptation of the comic. The Smurfs were not total strangers to America. Teddy bears in the shape of the Smurfs were already being sold, after a toy representative discovered the characters during a trip to England. One of the Smurfs' soft toys ended up in the house of Fred Silverman, NBC’s director at the time. He realized that his grand-daughter was in love with her Schtroumpf teddy bear and started poking at the rights owner to bring the characters to America.
Instead of airing the 60’s French cartoon, NBC decides to create its own series tailored for the American audience. And this wasn’t an easy task; firstly because Peyo was very weary of American culture. He categorically refused for the Smurfs to have chewing-gum or to drink Coca-Cola. He would also refuse many scripts from NBC that involved money as he had created a world where money didn’t exist.
Peyo himself faced some difficulties as some characteristics of his Smurfs had to be changed, NBC being worried that some would offend its viewers. This is why the black Smurfs – which were zombie Smurfs – became purple in America to avoid any accusation of racism. The show is no longer on NBC but you can enjoy the first six seasons of The Smurfs on TV5MONDEplus.
…but the Smurfs are one of the highest rating cartoon hits ever
In its first year, The Smurfs beat record after record on NBC. When the cartoon was airing on Saturday morning, over 42% of Americans in front of their TVs were following the adventures of the Smurfs. The only animated series to achieve a higher rating in America in the 70’s and 80’s was the beloved Bugs Bunny.
Ronald Reagan was a big fan of the Smurfs
Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s great fight in the 80’s, known as “the war on drugs”, was raging in America. And what better way to get that message across to the younger generation than feature it in the highest rated cartoon on TV. Enter the Smurfs - stars of NBC’s Saturday morning. NBC wrote an episode on dependance to drugs especially for Nancy Reagan, despite the creator Peyo’s refusal. After the airing of the episode, Peyo received multiple awards from charities working towards children rights and wellbeing, including one given to Peyo by Ronald Reagan himself. Despite all the praise, Peyo refused any new scripts coming from the American screenwriters which led to NBC threatening to sue the Belgian author for not respecting the original contract. It’s only after months of negotiation that NBC and Peyo came into an agreement to continue the collaboration.
The Smurfs, like the Minions, started as side characters
The Smurfs were created in1958 by Belgian illustrator Peyo (Pierre Culliford). But at first, the Smurfs were just side characters of the comic series ‘Johan et Pirlouit’ by the same author. It’s a year later, in 1959, that Peyo decides to create six short stories focused solely on the village of Smurfs. That is where most characters made their first appearances and were named.
Schtroumpf, much like Smurf, doesn’t mean anything
Summer 1957. Peyo is enjoying a meal with his friend, the comic book writer Franquin (author of Gaston Lagaffe). Peyo wants the salt shaker but can’t remember the word for it and just asks ‘Passe-moi le Schtroumpf’ (Give me the Schtroumpf). To which his friend replied ‘Tiens voilà le Schtroumpf et quand tu auras fini de le Schtroumpfer, tu me le reschtroumpferas’ (Here is the Schtroumpf, and when you’re done Schtroumpfing, you’ll Schtroumpf it back to me). And the Schtroumpf were born. So why is it called the Smurfs in America and other English-speaking countries? It’s the work of a translator who needed to find a word both funny but also easily pronounceable in many countries. At the time, the translator was looking to adapt the name for the Dutch market. The name was in the end used for many non-French-language countries, including the USA.
Smurfs candy are very popular… in Europe
Americans might not be aware of it but Smurfs shaped candies are among the most popular candies in all of Europe. Each year, Haribo sells 60,000 tons of Smurfs candies across the world…
Smurfette (La Schtroumpfette) was modeled after a famous actress
Think about it. The Smurfette has long blond hair, sixties dresses, and is loved by every Smurf in the village. Well, according to Peyo himself, she was directly inspired by Brigitte Bardot, the sex symbol of that era.
The Smurfs live in Belgium… or France
Although it’s never clearly stated where they live, there are two theories as to where they live. In the 23rd comic book, it is mentioned that the village is in Aubenas, a town in the southern region of Ardèche in France.
But the woodsy area from the comic books doesn’t really match with Aubenas. Smurfs’ specialists assume that the little Smurf village is situated in the Luxembourg province in Belgium, an area with forest not far from where the author Peyo was from, which would match with the depiction of the forest in the books.
Schtroumpfette -> Smurfette
Grand Schtroumpf -> Papa Smurf
Schtroumpf Maladroit -> Clumsy Smurf
Schtroumpf à Lunettes -> Brainy Smurf
Schtroumpf Grognon -> Grouchy Smurf
Schtroumpf Costaud -> Hefty Smurf
Schtroumpf Gourmand -> Greedy Smurf
Schtroumpf Farceur -> Jokey Smurf
Schtroumpf Cuisinier -> Chef Smurf
Schtroumpf Coquet -> Vanity Smurf
Schtroumpf Bricoleur -> Handy Smurf
Gargamel and Azrael, the Witch Hogatha and Gargamel’s godfather Lord Balthazar have the same name in French and in English!
Watch now The Smurfs in French with English subtitles on TV5MONDEplus