(NBC, September 12, 1981-December 2, 1989)
Don Messick – Papa Smurf, Azrael, Dreamy Smurf, Sweepy Smurf, Sickly Smurf, Editor Smurf, Chitter (season 7-8), various
Paul Winchell – Gargamel (season 1-8)
Lucille Bliss – Smurfette
Michael Bell – Grouchy Smurf, Handy Smurf, Lazy Smurf, Johan (season 2-7), various
William Callaway – Clumsy Smurf, Painter Smurf, various
Hamilton Camp – Greedy Smurf, Harmony Smurf, Cobbler Smurf, Woody, various
June Foray – Jokey Smurf, Mother Nature, Gargamel’s “mummy”, various
Danny Goldman – Brainy Smurf
Kip King – Tailor Smurf
Frank Welker – Hefty Smurf, Poet Smurf, Clockwork Smurf, Dabbler Smurf, Peewit (season 2-7), Puppy (season 5-8), Wild Smurf (season 7-9), Nemesis (season 8), Sandman, various
Alan Young – Miner Smurf, Farmer Smurf, Scaredy Smurf, Weakling Smurf, various
Joey Camen – Natural “Nat” Smurf (season 3-5)
Charlie Adler – Natural “Nat” Smurf (season 5-8)
Julie McWhirter – Baby Smurf (season 3-9), Sassette Smurfling (season 5-9)
Pat Musick – Snappy Smurfling (season 5-9)
Noelle North – Slouchy Smurfling (season 5-8), Blue Eyes
Russi Taylor – Puppy (season 5-8), Smoogle (season 8-9)
Jonathan Winters – Grandpa Smurf (season 6-9)
Brenda Vaccaro – Scruple (season 6-9), Architect Smurf, Ripple
In October of 1958, the Schrtumpfs (or Smurfs, as they were translated into by the Dutch and adopted into English) were introduced, inspired when Peyo saw his daughter playing with a dwarf figurine. The Smurfs are long-lived (aging centuries) little creatures said to be “3 apples high” (a literal translation of the description haut comme trois pommes, which was more akin to the expression “knee-high to a grasshopper”), and were virtually indistinguishable from each other as they all had the same blue skin (suggested by his wife, who worked as a colorist on some of his books) and tails and wore white trousers and a white Phrygian cap. Only their leader, Papa Smurf (or Grand Schtroumpf), initially had any differences as he wore red clothing and had a full beard. Originally, they lived in a village in a part of the world called “Le Pays Maudit” (French for “the Cursed Land”) that was peppered with dense forests, deep marshes, a desert and a high mountain range in houses that resembled large mushrooms, and relied on storks to transport them to other places. Later, their village would simply be located in the forest, concealed from discovery by magic unless led there by a Smurf. Their primary food source was sarsaparilla leaves (suggested by his Spirou editor-in-chief, partner and translator Yvan Delporte who found the name “magical”) worked into various dishes.
Their name, Schtroumpf, was said to have been a word Peyo made up when he had momentarily forgotten the word “salt” while eating with his friend, André Franquin. He asked, in French, for his friend to “pass the schtroumpf”, to which Franquin replied: “Here’s the Schtroumpf—when you are done schtroumpfing, schtroumpf it back.” This exchange led to the two men speaking that way for the remainder of the night, and also inspired a Smurf language meant to help further distinguish them from his human characters. That language often meant various words were replaced with “smurf”; however, it wasn’t arbitrary as each “smurf”, while indistinguishable to the human ear, actually carried different meanings to the Smurfs themselves—explained when Peewit attempted to speak Smurf and was corrected.
The Smurfs proved immensely popular with readers and soon got their own feature in Spirou in 1959. This led Peyo to create a studio where he would supervise the production of Smurfs adventures while he would continue to personally work on Johan and Peewit. Their stories were fairly simple, dealing with life around their village that often led to comedic situations with political and social subtext (such as one Smurf declaring himself king of the village in Papa Smurf’s absence), or put at odds against the evil wizard Gargamel and his cat, Azrael, who wanted to catch the Smurfs in order to use them as an ingredient to make gold (or to eat, depending on the story). Initially, none of the Smurfs had names beyond Papa Smurf, but as the strip continued their names and personalities (usually related to each other) began to take form, and individual flourishes were added to their appearance. For instance, Grouchy is eternally grumpy and is typically seen scowling and announcing what he doesn’t like; Clumsy is always tripping over or dropping something; Lazy is generally sleeping while others work; Vanity always had a mirror accessible to stare at his reflection; Jokey is always laughing and carrying exploding gift boxes; Brainy is the glasses-wearing know-it-all whose annoying need to be right often outpaced his good sense; Hefty is the village strongman who carried heavy loads; Chef was the village cook whose hat resembled a chef’s and also wore an apron; etc.
Notably, all of the Smurfs were male; with any new Smurfs being delivered by stork. In 1966, the first female Smurf was introduced named Smurfette (originally a designation as THE Smurfette more than a name, defying the naming convention), with long black hair and a white dress instead of trousers. She was created by Gargamel from clay to spy on the Smurfs and cause dissent among them with her feminine charms. Papa Smurf cast a spell to make her a real Smurf, symbolized by her hair becoming blonde. While she stuck around for a bit, her continued presence drove the other Smurfs mad with lust and she left of her own volition; making infrequent appearances in the years following.
The similar appearances of the Smurfs made them merchandising darlings as manufacturers had to make very little changes between the various characters. Smurf figurines have been in production since 1959, only missing two years of releases. This led to the creation of SEPP International S.A. (la Societe d’Edition, de Presse et de Publicite) by Freddy Monnickendam to manage the merchandising of the Smurfs franchise. In 1961, the first animated adaptation of the comics came from TVA Dupuis and aired on RTB (now RTBF) in Belgium for 6 years. It only featured 9 episodes—direct adaptations of the comics—and was animated using cutouts; with the final two being in color during RTB’s first year of offering colorized broadcasts. Five of the episodes would be combined into the 1965 film Les Adventures des Schtroumpfs. A more traditional animated effort came in 1976 with Belvision Studios’ film The Smurfs and the Magic Flute, adapting the Smurfs’ first appearance.
The popular account goes that American media and entertainment entrepreneur Stuart R. Ross discovered the Smurfs while he was traveling in Belgium that same year. He quickly made a deal with Dupuis and Peyo to bring the Smurfs to North America. Wallace Berrie and Co. produced various Smurf merchandise that became widely successful. NBC President Fred Silverman’s daughter was the possessor of one of those dolls, and he was convinced they would make a good television series. Despite the reservations of others at the network, Silverman pressed forward and secured the rights through Monnickendam and assigned production to his go-to studio, Hanna-Barbera. Gerard Baldwin was put in charge of overseeing and developing the series.
Baldwin worked with Peyo as directly as possible, aided by Delporte. Both wanted to keep the Smurfs as close to the source material as possible, and Peyo held veto power over anything he didn’t like and contributed designs and ideas. An early problem arose when many of the story pitches involved money in some form (inheritance, treasure, selling property, etc.). Money held no value for the Smurf as everyone had a role to fulfill in the village and did so out of nothing more than a sense of community. Monnickendam also had his own plans and wanted to make the show as widely accessible and mainstream as possible to drive merchandise sales. One of his many proposed changes was to make Jokey Smurf basically resemble Harpo Marx. When he kept meeting with resistance, Monnickendam sought out another property that would be more receptive, leading to the development of the Snorks series (which Baldwin also headed up and starred several Smurfs cast members). Baldwin received pushback from the network for his desire to include classical music in the soundtrack as “kids didn’t like it” (forgetting that generation was coming up on constant reruns of Looney Tunes).
The Smurfs debuted on NBC on September 12, 1981 and it became a tremendous hit for the network; marking it one of the few high points of Silverman’s otherwise disastrous tenure. So much so, NBC expanded it to a full hour for the second season, and then 90 minutes (until it was scaled back again in season 8), as well as several independent holiday-themed specials. Although some of that time was supplemented with reruns of previous episodes, the production soon found themselves making, as Baldwin described, “the equivalent of a feature film a week” with a six-to-eight-week turnaround after writing, storyboarding and recording. The network continued to push for the removal of the classical music, but fortunately there was no money in the budget to license anything else. The rest of the series’ music, including the simple-yet-catchy theme, was composed by Hoyt Curtin.
The show was largely adapted from the original comics—primarily using the English translations done by Random House and Hodder and Stoughton—until they exhausted the material, necessitating the creation of original plots. Minor changes for American television were made, such as having the black Smurfs—Smurfs infected with a disease that changed their color and personality—become purple Smurfs in order to avoid any racial connotations and the addition of moral lessons to the stories. To reduce instances of imitable violence, instead of Brainy Smurf being whacked in the head whenever he doled out one of his know-it-all lectures or became generally annoying, a running gag was added where he was physically thrown out of the village. The Smurfs’ personalities were also softened from mischievous to easygoing and friendly with a tendency to break out into song. Papa Smurf (Don Messick) in particular had his temper, well, tempered to be more patient and father-like to his “little Smurflings”. Their favorite food was changed to be berries they called “Smurfberries”, and modern themes began to be incorporated such as neighborhood projects, awards and modern-esque technology with a medieval flair; the latter usually courtesy of Handy Smurf (Michael Bell) in an attempt to make the Smurfs’ lives and chores a bit easier. Additionally, alterations to the stories occurred in order to have them fit into either a 22 or 11-minute format; both of which were used throughout the show’s run.
Although all of the Smurfs (99+) were depicted in group shots, the series primarily focused on a select few rotating in importance between episodes. Additionally, to help them stand out a bit more from each other, their characters were given additional physical flourishes that would eventually find their way into the comics themselves. Among them were Papa, Brainy (Danny Goldman), Clumsy (whose hat was depicted as being too big, voiced by William Callaway), Farmer (Alan Young), Greedy (who was combined with Baker and Chef from the comics and ate as much as he cooked, voiced by Hamilton Camp), Grouchy (Bell), Handy (given coveralls, a brim on his hat, and a pencil always behind his ear), Hefty (shown with a heart tattoo on his arm, voiced by Frank Welker), Jokey (June Foray), Lazy (Bell), Harmony (whose name was ironic as he played his trumpet terribly, voiced by Camp), Painter (who wore a painter’s coat, large bowtie and a drooped hat, voiced by Callaway with a French accent), Poet (Welker), Smurfette (Lucille Bliss), Tailor (generally seen with a tape measure around his neck and pins in his hat, voiced by Kip King) and Vanity (Alan Oppenheimer). Some of the adapted stories were altered to include these characters, such as Brainy being the one to become the aforementioned King Smurf.
No Smurf is an island, and despite living in relative secrecy from the rest of the world, the Smurfs managed to make a number of non-Smurf friends and allies. Among them were old friends Johan (Bell) and Peewit (Welker), who got their own adventures during the second season aiding their King (Bob Holt), Princess Sabina (Jennifer Darling) and her governess, Dame Barbara (Linda Gary), while also sometimes appearing with the Smurfs in their own; Feathers, a large stork that provided the Smurfs with air transportation and delivered messages; Enchanter Homnibus (Jack Angel), an old human wizard who was a good friends with Papa and often played games of chess with him; Mother Nature (Foray), the magical woman in charge of keeping nature running as intended; Father Time (Oppenheimer), a wise old man with a scythe who was the keeper of time; magical couple Tallulah and Selwyn, who constantly bickered and attempted to turn each other into various things, that lived in Quarrel Castle with their ghostly uncle, Fenwick, and pet gargoyle, Tharp; Gourdy (Marvin Kalplan), a genie freed from a gourd by Farmer who desires to be helpful with his magic but somehow manages to foul things up; The Pussywillow Pixies—protective leader Elderberry (Peggy Webber), clumsy Pansy (Susan Blu), vain Lilac, young Acorn (Patricia Parris), green-clad Bramble and Holly—who initially feared the Smurfs until they were rescued by them; Laconia, a mute wood elf that used sign language to communicate; Clockwork Smurf (Welker), a wooden robot built by Handy who gained sentience of his own and took up residence with the King, eventually joined by a Clockwork Smurfette; and Marina, a beautiful mermaid and Handy’s love interest, among others.
As the show went on, all-new new primary characters were added. In season 3, Baby Smurf (Julie McWhirter) was delivered by a stork to the village. For a baby, he was very bright and had a proclivity for magic; although his spellcasting often went unnoticed by the others. In season 5, three Smurfs were accidentally de-aged by one of Father Time’s clocks, turning them into the Smurflings. They were Natural, aka Nat (Joe Camen as adult, Charlie Adler as Smurfling), a nature lover who communicated with animals; Slouchy (Noelle North), a laid-back Smurf; and Snappy (Pat Musick), a rambunctious Smurf who liked to get his own way and be in the middle of the action. Slouchy and Snappy were the few Smurfs to wear a shirt; with Slouchy’s being red and Snappy’s yellow with a storm cloud. A fourth Smurfling would later be introduced: Sassette (McWhirter). She was a sassy tomboy created from the same clay and spell used by Gargamel to create Smurfette, made by the other Smurflings to give Smurfette a female friend. That season also introduced Puppy (Taylor & Welker), who wore a magic locket that contained “the key to all magic” and could only be opened by one person (which ended up being Baby). He was given to the Smurfs by Homnibus and was often seen with the Smurflings. Originally, Puppy was going to be a Smurf-sized pet for Baby, but Peyo rejected the idea and helped redesign him as a magical being that resembled a dog. In season 6, Grandpa (Jonathan Winters), Papa’s predecessor, returned to the village after a 500-year journey to find the materials needed to recharge the Long Life Stone: the object that allowed Smurfs to live a long time. He enjoyed telling stories (although his memory got fuzzy at times) and kept a cache of items inside his very long beard. In season 7, Wild (Welker) was discovered having accidentally been lost in the forest when he was delivered to and raised by a family of squirrels (a pastiche of Tarzan). Brainy took it upon himself to tutor Wild in the ways of being a Smurf to try and shed his wild habits. Wild continued to live with the squirrels, his best friend being one named Chitter (Messick).
The main antagonist of the show was Gargamel (Paul Winchell), with the aid of his cat, Azrael (Messick). As in the comics, he was always attempting to catch the Smurfs either to eat or to complete his formula to create gold and improve his lot in life from his ramshackle hovel. After season 3, his plans were aided by his Great Book of Spells, which provided him with magical schemes to use against the Smurfs; however, it could only be activated on the night of the final phase of the full moon and would only remain so until the following evening. In season 6, he was given an all-new nephew character named Scruple (Brenda Vaccaro), who was dumped on Gargamel for an apprenticeship after he constantly caused trouble at his wizard school. Gargamel, who had no tolerance for Scruple, usually just made him do chores instead of actually teaching him. Occasionally, Gargamel’s mother, called simply “Mummy” (Foray), would drop in unannounced and berate him for his inability to catch the Smurfs. While not really a malicious antagonist, both the Smurfs and Gargamel were frequently besieged by a large ogre (a giant in the comics) named Bigmouth (Lennie Weinrib) who was rude and oblivious to others’ feelings so long as it led to a chance to stuff his face with food. Not only did he frequently help himself to the Smurfs’ Smurfberry harvest, but often dropped in on Gargamel to eat him out of house and home.
Newly created was Hogatha (Janet Waldo), a portly and ugly witch whose main desire was to become attractive enough to have the man of her dreams fall in love with her. She sometimes snorted like a pig when talked or laughed and rode around on a vulture named Harold. Occasionally, her plans brought her into conflict with the Smurfs. Then there was Lord Balthazar (Keene Curtis), Gargamel’s godfather who was even more wicked and cruel and a much better wizard. Chlorhydris (Amanda McBroom), was an aging sorceress who became cold and bitter after bad personal relationships and was determined to make the entire world feel as she did. There were also several races of brutal humanoid creature—including the toad-like Wartmongers, the fish-like Water Harpies and the pig-like Truffle Trolls—and a variety of one-off villains of human, mystical and supernatural persuasions.
Despite the large cast of characters to choose from, Hanna-Barbera created several Smurfs of their own as situations required. These included Miner (Young with a Scottish accent), who always had his trusty pickaxe and a candle affixed to his hat; Architect (Vaccaro); Tracker (Henry Polic II), a red feather-wearing Smurf whose keen sense of smell helped him live up to his name; Cobbler (Camp), the resident shoemaker; the depressed introvert Dabbler (Welker) who could never stick to one vocation; Nobody, who suffered from self-esteem issues; Editor (Messick), who published the village’s newspaper; an unnamed Smurf who spoke with a Scottish accent and invented the game of golf; Pushover (Ronnie Schell), whose name says it all; Tuffy (Pat Fraley), who was quick to challenge others to fights (which he would promptly lose); and Wooly (Dick Gautier, using a Texan accent), who acquired the wool needed to make the Smurfs’ clothing and wore a fluffy hat.
Bucking the established canon of the franchise, a new female Smurf named Nanny (Blu) was introduced in the 8th season. As previously seen, Smurfs were always depicted as male when delivered by the stork, and previous female Smurfs were all the creation of magic. However, Nanny was said to have left the village with Grandpa and had been held as a prisoner in Castle Captor for over 100 years. The character’s design was recycled from the aged Smurfette in “Smurfquest” and her elderly disguise from “Smurf Van Winkle”. She was accompanied by Smoogle (Taylor), a marsupial-like animal who only said “smoogle”—however, everyone seemed to understand what he was saying—and could replicate noises. A new villain was introduced: the evil wizard Nemesis (Welker), who became a hideous hiccupping creature after a magical accident and kept his face hidden by his purple robe’s hood. He was Grandpa’s arch-enemy who sought the Long Life Stone for his own purposes. They also gained a new ally in Denisa (Katie Leigh), the niece of Lord Balthazar who befriended Sassette.
Hanna-Barbera hoped to use these new characters to eventually create spin-offs to further capitalize on the success of the show. However, Peyo wasn’t thrilled with most of them and was able to prevent any of Hanna-Barbera’s plans out of fear of overshadowing his own creations. Barbara Krueger, Julienne Gimeno, Davis Doi, Chris Otsuki, Michael Bennett, Michael Takamoto, Lance Falk, Patrick A. Ventura, Barbara Dourmaskin-Case, Ray Johnson Jr., Hillary Dunchak, Lianna Kelley, Melanie Sowell, Philo Barnhart, Alfred Gimeno, Michel Breton, Ken Helenbolt, Tony Spector, Eric Clark, Donna Zeller, William H. Frake III, Alice Hamm, Lew Ott, John Kricfalusi, Kirk Hanson, Brian Hogan, Marcus Nickerson, Bob Onorato, Tony Sgroi, Jim Stenstrum, Mario Williams, Jojo Aguilar and Salene Weatherwax handled the character designs. Animation duties were initially done in-house at Hanna-Barbera, but were moved overseas beginning with the 6th season to Wang Film Productions/Cuckoo’s Nest Studios, Toei Animation, Sunwoo Animation, Sei Young Animation Company, Saerom Animation, Jade Animation, Hung Long Animation Company, Big Star Enterprise, Daewon Media, Dong Seo Animation, Take One and Fil-Cartoons.
The Smurfs was written by Baldwin with Glenn Leopold, Frances Novier, Michael Reaves, Marc Scott Zicree, Creighton Barnes, Ted Pedersen, David Villaire, John Bonaccorsi, Alan Burnett, Sean Catherine Derek, John Bates, Ernie Contreras, Reed Robbins, Jeff Segal, William Hasley, Douglas Booth, Claire Geber, Catherine Johnson, Richard Kadrey, Bob Langhans, Bob Nesler, Joseph Neustein, Gene Ayres, Bill Matheny, Len Janson, Chuck Menville, Duane Poole, Cliff Roberts, Tom Swale, Kevin Hopps, Tedd Anasti, Mark Seidenberg, Rich Fogel, Therese Naugle, Gordon Bressack, Sharon Painter, Kristina Luckey, John Loy, John Bradford, Fred Kron, Evelyn A.R. Gabai, Charles M, Howell IV, Thomas J. Spath, Dean Stefan, Sandy Fries, Chris Jenkyns, Cynthia Friedlob, John Semper Jr., Morgan Flynn Averill, Hendrick VanLeuven, Ron Campbell, Paul Dini, LeRoy Parker, Larry Parr, William, J. Keenan, Ray Parker, Lisa Maliani, Michael Maliani, Glen Egbert, Terrie Collins, Ken Koonce, Mark McClellan, David Weimers, Craig Miller, Mark W. Nelson, Earl Kress, John Ludin, Meg McLaughlin, Jim Arnold, Haskell Barkin, Harriet Belkin, Norman Belkin, Gwen Robertshaw, Louis. F. Vipperman, David Wise, Mel Gilden, Michael Keyes, Jeff Hall, Kathleen Naugle, Tom Walla, James Barmeier, Richard Merwin, Vin Morreale Jr., J.C. Murray, Mary Beal, Chris Bunch, Allan Cole, David Geffner, John Hudock, Jeffry O’Hare, Marie Quick, Scott Shaw, Kelly Aumier, Dick Robbins and Otsuki. Janson and Menville served as the original story editors until they stepped down, forcing Baldwin to become the supervising story editor as no one else at the time was knowledgeable enough for the job. Anasti, Cameron, Derek, Fogel, Seidenberg, Novier, Hopps, Matheny, Contreras and Robbins would all step into the role at various points during the series’ run. The first two seasons featured strong elements of slapstick as the production got a feel for the tone and characters, shifting to more story-driven adventures beginning with season 3. After season 5, and the conclusion of Snorks, Baldwin left the show as, according to layout supervisor Floyd Norman, “the studio was determined to sack him”. Bob Hathcock, whom Baldwin brought on to help him with producing duties, succeeded him in his role and instituted the network’s mandate to tone down some of the darker elements that had appeared in previous episodes.
Behind the scenes, things weren’t quite so Smurfy. Monnickendam’s bid to match and possibly surpass The Smurfs resulted in failure, and his having bypassed Dupuis led to their dissolution of their relationship and the disbandment of SEPP International S.A. with licensing going over to Lafig S.A. Further, his relationship with Peyo deteriorated quickly, ending up in lawsuits about the division of rights and money over The Smurfs. Dupuis came under new management in 1985 and after fulfilling his obligations to them, Peyo left in 1988 and attempted to start his own publishing effort, Cartoon Creations. Issues also arose between Peyo and Hanna-Barbera when he learned they were making moves behind his back; such as going forward with their veiled anti-drug episode, “Lure of the Orb”, meant to support then-First Lady Nancy Reagan’s anti-drug campaign, that he had expressly vetoed. Production on the show almost ceased right there until Delporte talked him out of it.
Peyo’s hefty workload that persisted for most of his professional life began to take its toll on the artist, and his health was in steady decline. As a result, he loosened his grip on the show and allowed Hanna-Barbera more creative freedom, leading to the production of the controversial 9th and final season of The Smurfs. It was decided to move the Smurfs out of their village and to have them become stranded in time when they lost the magic key that was used to control their time crystals and Time Scrolls. As a result, they were jumping from period to period, attempting to find their way home while encountering new perils, new friends, and new foes (which were largely period-accurate versions of their established foes as their own ancestors).
The cast was also severely cut down, featuring only Papa, Smurfette, Clumsy, Brainy, Lazy, Hefty, Snappy, Sassette, Greedy, Jokey, Vanity, Painter, Grandpa, Wild, Smoogle, Baby and Handy on a rotating basis. It was at this time that Winchell left the show, allegedly being disgusted by the scripts. Any representation of Gargamel’s character was voiced by Bell for the season. Ratings, which had begun to steadily decline by this point, went into a freefall. NBC unsurprisingly cancelled it at the end of the season, leaving it with an unresolved cliffhanger. During its run, the series was nominated multiple times for Daytime Emmy Awards, winning for “Outstanding Children’s Entertainment” in 1983. Papa and Brainy would go on to appear in the anti-drug special Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue a few months after the series ended.
Each season had a unique opening sequence and ending theme. The intros all typically showed different scenes of the Smurfs engaging in their daily lives before transitioning over to Gargamel’s attempted capture of them. Prominent new characters introduced within that season were incorporated into the intro. The end of the sequence usually featured a Smurf or several Smurfs sliding down a hollow log and running over to where the show’s title was, sitting on top of a mushroom over it while other Smurfs appeared behind the letters; initially as eyeballs and later popping into full view. The 1st season’s featured an opening narration introducing the audience to the world of the Smurfs, while the 2nd season’s had the Smurfs singing actual lyrics to their theme song. The 8th season intro had more of a narrative element to it, as Hefty and Sassette were on a mission to bring Papa Smurf a book from which he would read to the other Smurfs. That book would serve as the transition to the title screen, bypassing the log sliding portion. The 9th season’s intro set up the time traveling premise and showed the Smurfs escaping from some period threats before heading towards a stone-carved version of the show’s logo. The 4th season intro is probably the most recognized out of all them as a truncated version was used for the syndicated rerun series Smurfs’ Adventures. Beginning in 1986, these half-hour episodes featured some minor edits and time-compression (which resulted in the voices sounding a bit higher than normal) in order to allow two stories to run in the allotted time. For the first four seasons of episodes the season 4 closing theme was also used over the end credits. Starting with season 5 episodes, the respective original ending themes were used. Adventures would air on various independent stations before going to USA Network in the early 1990s, and then to Cartoon Network, where it would run throughout the 90s, and Boomerang, where it remain until 2022, eventually returning in 2023. It also aired on Teletoon Retro in Canada.
If Smurfs merchandise was selling well before, it exploded during the show’s run with things like trading cards, Halloween costumes, and breakfast cereals. As with Peyo’s own comics that came out around the same time, products incorporated the cosmetic changes the cartoon introduced to various characters, such as Handy and Hefty, and new characters, such as Baby. The show’s theme was also used in a number of video games that followed. Random House, along with reprinting the original comics translated, published a series of children’s books that coincided with the show. Marvel Comics acquired the rights to publish a 3-issue mini-series featuring two stories per issue and several one-page sketches created by Peyo.
In France and Belgium, three compilation films containing three episodes apiece were released to capitalize on the popularity of The Smurfs. Despite the first, 1984’s V’la les Schtroumpfs, performing meagerly, Claude Berda, who led the initiative of their production, pushed to release 1984’s Le Bébé Schtroumpf and 1987’s P’tits Schtroumpfs. As promotion for them, Peyo agreed to produce two comic albums based on the episodes “Once in a Blue Moon” and “The Smurflings” with the aid of artists François Walthery and Marc Wasterlain. WorldVision Home Video released several episodes to VHS, which they then later collected together on a release simply called Smurfs. Warner Home Video released the complete first season across two DVD sets in 2008, a best of collection in 2013, and as a complete set in 2017 as part of the Hanna-Barbera Diamond Collection, followed by 15 episodes of season 2 across three sets in 2009. A compilation of episodes from the entire run was planned in 2011 to tie into the new Smurfs film, but it instead contained 10 more episodes from season 2. These would be re-released across three new collections in 2013. Both Christmas specials saw release at the same time on a DVD called The Smurfs Holiday Celebration, and “The Smurfs Springtime Special”, “My Smurfy Valentine” and “Smurfily Ever After” in the collection The Smurfs Springtime Specials. In the United Kingdom, Fabulous Films and Arrow Films released the first five seasons between 2010-13, as well as a collection of them in 2014. From 2011-14, they also released compilation DVDs containing episodes centered around a theme. Germany got two different release: Universum Film GmbH released most of the first three seasons across three sets in 2006, with the fourth containing bonus figurines, while Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the complete series in Germany between 2011-13. Magna Home Entertainment released several collections in Australia between 2004-11—with the ones in 2010 and 2011 containing a bonus figurine—followed by the complete series in two ultimate collections in 2011, and then in individual season sets from 2011-13. The series was made available in various configurations to stream on Boomerang and their Amazon channel, Plex, Max (and its predecessor, HBO Max), and Tubi (Spanish), and available for purchase on Apple TV, Prime Video, Google Play and Vudu. Episodes were also uploaded in various forms to the official Smurfs YouTube channel.
Peyo had overseen the production of 16 comic albums starring his Smurfs before falling to a heart attack in 1992. His son, Thierry Culliford, continued production of his comics under the name Peyo and has released 24 more albums up to 2022. In 2010, Papercutz became the new American publisher of the translated comics in both their original album forms and in a series of collected anthologies. Sony Pictures acquired the rights to produce films based on the franchise and released the first on July 29, 2011, produced by Peyo’s daughter, Véronique Culliford. Winters and Welker were the only original cast members to return, voicing Papa and Azrael, respectively. Hank Azaria led a live-action cast as Gargamel while the Smurfs were computer animated. The film ended up grossing $563.7 million despite a negative reception, resulting in a sequel released on July 31, 2013; Winters’ final performance before his death. However, that one earned $200 million less and was reviewed even worse, effectively ending plans for a trilogy. Instead, a completely CGI reboot was released on April 7, 2017 called Smurfs: The Lost Village, which introduced a hidden village entirely populated by female Smurfs. Welker was the only one retained in his role as Azrael. It only earned $197.2 million. Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon had acquired the theatrical rights and have planned a movie for 2025. In the meantime, a new Belgian CGI animated series debuted in 2021—almost 40 years since the Hanna-Barbera series—with Peyo Productions watching over it carefully to ensure it remained as faithful as possible to the original comics while allowing some creativity in updating it for the times. It aired in Beligum on La Trois before making its way to America on Nickelodeon and Netflix. Despite reportedly taking no direct influence from the previous series, its legacy continues to live on in the character designs which have become the default for the Smurfs franchise.
“The Astrosmurf” (9/12/81) – The Smurfs help Dreamy achieve his wish of traveling to the stars by dressing up as aliens and making him think he’s on another planet.
“The Smurf Who Couldn’t Say No” (9/18/82) – Pushover must learn to be assertive when he and Scaredy have to light a fire to calm a swamp monster.
“Once in a Blue Moon / All Creatures Great and Smurf” (9/17/83) – When the stork mistakenly delivers a baby Smurf, Smurfette and Grouchy protest his removal. / Natural brings Azrael to the village to treat his wounds.
“Symbols of Wisdom / Blue Eyes Returns” (9/15/84) – Brainy and Gargamel each figure something about their appearance is what prevents them from being respected. / Smurfette calls on Blue Eyes to help when Gargamel’s spell floods the forest.
“Stuck on Smurfs / Puppy” (9/21/85) – Gargamel casts a spell on Clumsy that causes anyone who touches him to become stuck to him. / Homnibus sends Puppy to the Smurfs, and Lord Balthazar is interested in his mysterious unopenable magic locket.
“Smurfquest (Parts I-IV)” (9/13/86) – Grandpa Smurf returns and several Smurfs help him restore power to the Long Life Stone, with Gargamel following close behind.
“Smurf on the Wild Side (Parts I-II)” (9/19/87) – The Smurfs discover Wild Smurf and bring him home, but he has a hard time acclimating to life in the village.
“Lost Smurf” (9/10/88) – Grandpa leads a rescue mission to save Nanny from Castle Captor before it disappears again.
“Smurfs that Time Forgot” (9/9/89) – The Smurfs go back in time to bring a baby triceratops home.
“Here Comes the Smurfs” (6/19/81) – Papa Smurf relays the story of The Smurfette, the Supersmurf and the Baby Smurf.