And why does it give us chills every time? There is no better indicator of how entrenched Shrek has become in American pop culture than the wide array of Shrek holiday specials that has been released on broadcast television and DVD. In this conclusion, Shrek and Fiona are the parents to three ogre babies. Which of these is not one of them? Is Shrek Jewish? No, Donkeh! Nowhere is this more clear than in the scene in which Shrek and Donkey enter the Kingdom of Duloc, which packs as many Disney World potshots in as possible. The buddy-comedy dynamic between Myers’s voice performance and Eddie Murphy’s struck a brilliantly funny tone, their banter imprinting itself on kids’ brains. No, Donkeh! The movie’s twist on “true love’s kiss breaking the curse” remains Shrek’s greatest turn, the moment where its subversive wit and its surprising heart meet. So much of what we now take for granted as standard family-movie fare was, in 2001, nearly unthinkable — or at the very least, hardly popular — prior to the surprise hit about a big stinky green man and his wise-cracking donkey sidekick. Shrek 2 upped both the budget and the joke density of the first film. But at the time, it was as critically embraced as it was a commercial success. Dozens (actual, literal dozens) of Shrek-based video games have come out since the release of the first film. No, Donkeh! John Cleese and Terry Jones

Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle

Terry Gilliam and John Cleese

Eric Idle and John Cleese

Aye! Shrek introduced a generation of kids to the comedy of Eddie Murphy, to the song “Hallelujah,” to the vast artistic potential of computer-generated animation. Shrek the Halls

Scared Shrekless


Donkey’s Christmas Shrektacular

Aye! It has an extremely menacing aura. There is a photo in the official presidential archives of George W. Who didn’t voice a princess in Shrek the Third? No, Donkeh! Here, the first film’s satirical ethos was expanded upon with a Medieval fantasy-inflected send-up of Hollywood. King Arthur



Joan of Arc

Aye! Shrek directly pokes fun at Disney’s most beloved iconography: Fiona sings to birds and makes them explode with her Mariah-esque whistle tones; the lovebirds are whisked away in a magical onion coach. In 2001, Shrek ran headfirst in the opposite direction, leaning into Y2K postmodernism, pop-culture references, a precarious blend of arch irony and heart, and a genuinely staggering amount of poop and fart humor. And, of course, there’s “All Star,” by Smash Mouth, a pop-rock anthem that tied itself to Shrek’s identity as a snarky but approachable turn-of-the-millennium icon the moment he busted down that outhouse door in the film’s opening sequence. In 2009, Regis Philbin appeared on The Late Show With David Letterman dressed in full, elaborate Shrek drag, for no apparent reason other than to get a reaction out of David. Although it’s something of a punch line now, “All Star,” like Shrek, was critically acclaimed at its time of release. To a certain subset of kids born in the 1990s and 2000s, Shrek was a North Star of comedy and a shared reference point, matched in power and ubiquity only by its TV counterpart in turn-of-the-millennium animated absurdism, SpongeBob SquarePants. The role was recast with Mike Myers, and Shrek as we know him (grumpy, sarcastic, vaguely Scottish) was born. Within this underdog studio, Shrek was the underdog project. And so on. When guests enter the attraction (which closed in Hollywood in 2017, but remains in operation in Orlando), it takes place in …

A mud-based water park

A royal fair

Shrek’s swamp

Lord Farquaad’s torture chamber

Aye! Instead, Katzenberg started the fledgling DreamWorks with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, heading the animation division and (out of spite or competition — you choose) setting it up to compete with Disney and Pixar. No, Donkeh! Shrek’s stylistic opposition to the House of Mouse carried some remarkably positive messages for kids, in a delightfully unforced way. This was all well and good for toys and clothes, but proved to be a nightmare when it came to actual food that children ate. Shrek: Swamp Sports Pack

Shrek: Fairy Tale Freakdown

Shrek 2: Beg for Mercy

Shrek the Third: Arthur’s School Day Adventure

Aye! Princess Fiona is large, green, happy, confident, fulfilled, loved, and in love by the end of the film, a "happily ever after" that no other major American animated film has ever properly afforded a female protagonist who isn’t thin and pretty and doe-eyed in the years since. No, Donkeh! That original score by Harry Gregson-Williams and John Powell remains transportive and romantic, its main theme one of the most instantly recognizable of the 21st century. Against expectations, it competed for the aforementioned Palme d’Or and justified the creation of — and won — the Oscars’ Best Animated Feature category. Which two Monty Python alumni have had major roles in Shrek films? “All Star” really was everywhere in the late ’90s and early ’00s, but only one movie that it was featured in was, in turn, also featured in Smash Mouth’s music video for the song. No, Donkeh! One trademark of the character is his penchant for breaking out into adult-contemporary, extemporaneous songs, mid-conversation. Throughout the 2000s, Shrek was a merchandising hit. After seven decades of Walt Disney Animation more or less colonizing children’s animated cinema (and coming off what was arguably the House of Mouse’s strongest decade yet), DreamWorks stepped in as the new rival studio in town, a scrappy upstart ready to disrupt Disney’s monopoly. It’s a very specific calling card and we’re not mad at it. Maybe you even remember Donkey getting caught in the turnstiles and Shrek barreling through the switchback queue. Children’s literacy event

Easter Egg Roll

White House lawn trick-or-treating

Bush twins’ birthday party

Aye! In 2011, DreamWorks staged a charming premiere screening in Los Angeles featuring Antonio Banderas and an audience full of cats in 3-D glasses. Fergus




Aye! No, Donkeh! Old Knavery

Farbuck’s Coffee

Abercrombie and Witch

Pauper John’s Pizza

Aye! Which of these does Murphy not sing in the first Shrek film? Campbell’s “Swamp-ghetti” with green slug-shaped noodles

Twinkies oozing with Shrek’s “ogre-green creamy filling”

Kid Cuisine with sludgy “swamp pudding” that promised to “turn your tongue green”

Waffle Sticks with “dippin’ cups” of suspiciously viscous “green swamp syrup”

Aye! It endures as a meme and as a franchise, but it deserves celebration as a film series. There’s even a widely held rumor that Katzenberg based the following character on Michael Eisner:


Big Bad Wolf

Lord Farquaad

Ugly Stepsister

Aye! No, Donkeh! No, Donkeh! It grew up so fast. Google "Shrek wedding" and you’ll see multiple photos of happy newlyweds in green body paint. The pop- and rock-heavy soundtracks of Shrek and its sequels didn’t pander to young audiences, instead injecting the movies with emotional momentum without relying on Broadway-style “tell don’t show” lyrical storytelling. Which one of these is not a business that appears in the background of Far, Far Away? Like The Simpsons before it, Shrek supplied the nerdier among us with a crash course in 20th-century pop culture, sparking a desire to watch more, to seek out more. Shrek was a total phenomenon, making its mark on every corner of pop culture. But do you recall what themed parking area (another Disney World innovation) Shrek and Donkey enter from? DreamWorks was an underdog, betting its hopes (and fortunes) on a story about the ultimate underdog: An agoraphobic ogre who becomes a reluctant hero to a hodgepodge of rejected fairy-tale creatures, despite how much the human villagers all hate him and how much he’s internalized their hatred. No, Donkeh! Shrek and Fiona are rare body-positive icons in children’s media, and their influence on fashion is … remarkably a thing. NME


Rolling Stone


Aye! Shrek is the forever “other,” the persecuted and misunderstood outsider, the grump with a heart of gold (something something onions, something something layers). No, Donkeh! Philbin had done a voice two years prior in Shrek the Third. We Know. However, the film’s official world premiere took place …

At a cat café in Madrid

On a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

At the San Diego Zoo

At Universal Studios Orlando

Aye! No, Donkeh! There is an annual Shrekfest held every year in Wisconsin that bills itself as "a celebration of love and life," reclaiming the "Shrek Is Love Shrek Is Life" meme from its seedy 4chan origins. Being assigned to Shrek was known as getting sent to the “gulag,” with editing bays reportedly set up next to the Glendale office kitchens as a second thought. Shrek 2 was nominated for two Academy Awards in 2005. No, Donkeh! The Shrek films’ saturation with too many pop-culture references and jokes for just the parents in the audience has been criticized by some as a tiresome thorn, but to the kids whose heads those jokes flew over in 2001, it just means that Shrek was able to grow up with us. That movie was:

Inspector Gadget


Mystery Men

Rat Race

Aye! No, Donkeh! box office alone and yielding sequels, theme-park attractions, Party City birthday merchandise, video games, spinoffs, memes, and far, far too much green food. No, Donkeh! After years of Disney dominating the market with family-friendly offerings like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, not to mention problematic missteps like Pocahontas, DreamWorks gambled on fighting fire with ogre. But in the studio’s early years, prestige was the name of the game, and DreamWorks’ perceived A-team at the time was assigned to work on:

The Land Before Time


The Prince of Egypt

The Road to El Dorado

Aye! Bush of a massive Shrek mascot being escorted into the White House with the help of Secret Service members in 2007. Which of these major Shrek fashion moments is made up? "On the Road Again"


"Try a Little Tenderness"

"All by Myself"

Aye! No, Donkeh! No, Donkeh! From the Proclaimers to Counting Crows, these albums are comprehensive samplers of Y2K culture and sold millions of copies. Joan Rivers introduces Thumbelina and Sleeping Beauty on the red carpet. Take yourself to Shrek school and see how you do on this pop quiz. Captain Hook


Humpty Dumpty

Ugly Stepsister

Aye! The Shrek in the Swamp Karaoke Dance Party short at the end of the first home-video release really set the tone for decades of CGI kids’ fare to come, from Sing to Trolls, with its high-energy blend of radio hits. Both Shrek and “All Star” have enjoyed long lives as memes, a Z-llennial lingua franca for their ubiquity. Shrek later appears to crush and possibly kill the puppy, but WikiShrek lists the character as alive (a photo of it can also be seen on Fiona’s mantel in Shrek the Third.)

Coton de Tulear

Bichon Frise



Aye! The source material was a William Steig children’s book, written and published in the author’s 80s. (It wouldn’t be the first in a Spielberg-produced children’s film.) The debate rages on.Speaking of Steven Spielberg, let’s get into the studio rivalry of it all. Although Katzenberg had previously announced that the Shrek franchise would have five films, it ended its run, along with the decade, with 2010’s Shrek Forever After. No, Donkeh! Tags: Later in the movie there’s a particularly eviscerating riff on Cops where knights plant catnip on Puss in Boots and Donkey yells “police brutality” as he’s slammed to the ground. No, Donkeh! It encourages kids (between swear words and references to “The Piña Colada Song”) to be critical media consumers, and to love yourself for all your lumps, bumps, and things that make you different. The end of Shrek’s decade-long cinematic run was only just the beginning of its cultural legacy and continued relevance. No, Donkeh! Part of Shrek’s indelible, delicious uniqueness is that it is that rare sort of children’s movie, one running on the fumes of pettiness and spite. It made all of these music publications’ Best Songs of 1999 lists, except for … Shrek retained its popularity with families through home-video release, reportedly becoming the best-selling DVD of all time (at the time), with the bonus features proving especially popular. It lost the Animated Feature prize to The Incredibles, and lost the Best Original Song award for the Counting Crows’ “Accidentally in Love.” (Watch the band’s Oscars performance to see why.) Which of the other nominees won the award? Which of these Shrek tie-in green abominations was not an actual thing we fed to kids? No, Donkeh! Everyone remembers the “It’s a Small World”-inspired “Duloc is a perfect place” animatronic show. While taking an approach to its music that ran counter to Disney’s at the time, the early Shrek films managed to beat it at its own game. We know we keep name-dropping that Palme d’O(g)r(e) entry, but it’s kind of a huge deal. In 2003, Universal Studios opened its Shrek 4-D attraction, which takes place directly following the events of the first film and bridging the narrative gap before Shrek 2, which hadn’t been released yet. Totally ogrekill. What type of puppy does the Fairy Godmother create for Fiona during her Beauty and the Beast–inspired musical number? Murphy’s performance continues to be held up as a high mark of voice-over work; his was the first voice performance to ever be nominated for a BAFTA for acting. He was:

John Candy

Phil Hartman

Sam Kinison

Chris Farley

Aye! What character did he play? No, Donkeh! No, Donkeh! Looking back on Shrek 20 years later, with its legions of imitators obscuring the view, it’s easy to dismiss the movie as too crass and too catchphrase-y. No, Donkeh! Violet, Shrek, Fun Home

Shrek, Violet, Fun Home

Shrek, Fun Home, Violet

Violet, Fun Home, Shrek

Aye! "Al otro lado del río," The Motorcycle Diaries

"Believe," The Polar Express

"Learn to Be Lonely," The Phantom of the Opera

"Look to Your Path," Les Choristes

Aye! Which of these is not one of them? The Shrek 2 home-video release followed suit with Far, Far Away Idol, which featured an animated cameo by …

Paula Abdul

Simon Cowell

Clay Aiken

Ryan Seacrest

Aye! The name Shrek is based, charmingly, on the Yiddish word for:





Aye! It boasted a budget of $150 million, and seemingly every dollar of that was put onscreen in the visual-gag-filled animated setting of Far, Far Away. By the time of Shrek the Third, the voice cast had grown with an extensive roster of comic performers. So much of Shrek’s staying power is owed to its music. Why was Shrek bombarding the White House? One was a psychosexual exploration of a woman’s unstable, bifurcated identity as it manifests in a fantasy relationship, a searing indictment of the Hollywood dream factory and the promises it peddles; the other was Mulholland Drive. Jeffrey Katzenberg, known of late as Quibi’s Icarus-apparent, left Disney in 1993 after newly minted CEO Michael Eisner declined to appoint him his second-in-command, as was long assumed. In 2010, legendary photographer Ellen von Unwerth publishes a sexy Shrek fashion photo shoot in VMAN

Urban Outfitters has to recall and officially apologize for an offensive Shrek hoodie in 2013

Jeremy Scott debuts his Shrek-patterned knitwear at NYFW spring 2015

In 2018, Heidi Klum goes viral for her Princess Fiona Halloween red-carpet costume

Aye! In the years predating Shrek, Disney had reclaimed its mojo by releasing an Oscar-winning slate of now-classics that harkened back to the studio’s groundbreaking fairy-tale-movie formula, spicing up its magic touch with some Broadway-indebted grandeur and polish. Tina Fey

Maya Rudolph

Amy Poehler

Larry King

Aye! "We wanted to demystify the stereotypes which fairy tales reinforce," co-director Andrew Adamson told a news conference at Cannes when the movie was first released. The former film, of course, was Shrek. At the time, Shrek’s recipe seemed risky, but all bets paid off big time for its believers; the movie became an overnight phenomenon, grossing nearly $500 million at the U.S. The Fairy Godmother’s billboard mirrors Angelyne’s. The Fairy Godmother’s “Holding Out for a Hero” cover is as iconic a queer-coded villain musical number as anything Ursula the Sea Witch could pull out of her clamhole. Before Shrek, the last American animated feature to debut in competition at Cannes was:

Peter Pan (1953)

The Jungle Book (1967)

The Last Unicorn (1982)

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Aye! In what order did these musicals come out? By the end of the original Shrek franchise, its cinematic universe had expanded enough for Antonio Banderas’s Shrek 2 breakout character Puss in Boots to receive his own eponymous spinoff. Which one of these is not one of them? Is the villagers’ attack on his swamp near the beginning of the film meant to be a pogrom? Photo-Illustration: by Vulture; Photo by DreamWorks Pictures

In 2001, two classics of 21st-century American cinema premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Why is this a thing? Here’s a niche one: Shrek the Musical (because of course it had a Broadway musical) was composed by Jeanine Tesori, who also wrote the Broadway musicals Violet and Fun Home. In the spirit of reveling in nerdy maximalism, we figure the best way to celebrate Shrek’s legacy on its 20th birthday is in the form of a …

Big Fat Shrek Quiz
Yeah. The already challenged production faced its biggest hurdle yet when the actor who was meant to play Shrek — whom they had even modeled the character on — died tragically early. All three of these shows — yes, even Shrek — feature a female protagonist harmonizing with at least one younger version of herself, played by a child actor.