Smurf Reproduction

As many of you, I grew up watching The Smurfs on TV. I always wondered how do these damn things reproduce. This is a hotly debated topic out on the Internets, but hardly anyone gives this pressing question enough attention. I want to do an in-depth analysis and come up with some solid theories on the Smurf Reproductive cycle based on what we know about the species.

Almost all known Smurfs live together as a single tribe of roughly a 100 specimens. They are short, bipedal, intelligent humanoids. They walk upright, have hands with opposable thumbs and have a highly developed skill of using tools to build their mushroom carved houses, and simple garments they wear. Few members of their species also seem to have a high affinity for magic. Most smurfs wear simple white trousers with a hole for their tale, and a Phyrgian style cap. Removing the hat seems to be a taboo in their society.

Most specimens appear virtually identical, and exhibit male sexual characteristics. They all refer to themselves using masculine pronouns. Only few members of the tribe have special identifying characteristics and those seem to be special cases. One of these is Papa Smurf which seems to be the elder of the tribe, and wears an impressive gray beard while all the other smurfs do not seem to be able to grow facial hair. Another is Smurfette which exhibits female sexual characteristics. She however is not a natural member of the species. More on that later.

Smurfs seem to be sought after by alchemists because they seem to be able to function as a biological Philosopher’s Stone. I was unable to uncover whether they are a mere catalyst that enables transmutation, or whether they actively participate in the reaction. The census among researchers seems to be that the smurf is “used up” during the transmutation which may explain why they are so rare.

We also know that Smurfs don’t reproduce in captivity. All attempts to breed them for research purposes to this date have failed. Not only that, but the wild smurfs have developed advanced defense mechanisms that make if very difficult to locate their settlements. They utilize some sort of chemical or magical deterrent which makes it nearly impossible for predators and/or human researchers to locate their village. Because of these factors their reproductive cycle was never observed or documented. There are quite a few theories on their mating customs, and actual reproductive mechanisms. I would like to discuss the most popular and most probable of these.

Sexual Reproduction: Hive Queen Theory

Most people who have never really did any research on the Smurf species, naively assume that they reproduce sexually by means of the Smufette – the single member of the species who exhibits female sexual characteristics. This model of reproduction is very popular among insects, which usually have a single queen per hive and majority of their population is either male, or asexual. Considering the existing natural parallels it is easy to see why this theory seems to enjoy great deal of support.

Unfortunately this theory can’t be correct, since the Smurfette since she was artificially created by Gargamel. This prominent Smurf scholar noted that all the Smurfs in the tribe exhibited male characteristics and decided to see how they would react when a “female smurf” was introduced into their mist. It is not clear how exactly did he produce the female specimen, but it is clear that she was a man made construct and she was not a full fledged smurf. For example, she could not be used in transmutation. Smurfs initially deemed it a defective specimen, and only assimilated her into their society after Papa Smurf uplifted her into state of “full smurfdom”. After that magical ritual she theoretically became a viable Philosopher’s Stone, but she did not lose her female characteristics.

Interestingly enough, the other Smurfs seemed to accept her and even exhibited primitive courting behavior. No actual copulation was observed, and the Smurfette never became pregnant. This suggests that the smurfs were either not biologically equipped to actually mate with this particular specimen, or that due to her origins Smerfette was sterile.

Either way, she cannot function as the hive queen for the Smurf tribe because she is a man made construct and tribe itself predates her.

Sexual Reproduction: Parthenogenesis

The smurfs must have been able to reproduce before Smurfette was introduced into their midst by Gargamel. Some researchers suggest that Smurfs are a singe sex race, and that they reproduce via process similar to Parthenogenesis. Unfortunately, parthenogenesis is a reproductive process which allows to take the male part of the population out of equation. It allows the female of the species to conceive and give birth without fertilization taking place.

Since all members of the species seem to exhibit male characteristics, this mode of reproduction seems unlikely. Then again, it is actually unclear whether or not smurfs are actually male. They do have a mammalian, almost human appearance but it does not mean they are mammals and that their sexual differentiation occurs among the same lines as in humans. It is entirely possible that all smurfs are actually female, despite of their outward appearance.

We have actually seen a very similar example in the movie Enemy Mine. In the film, Dracs (an alien species of reptilian looking humanoids) appeared and sounded masculine to humans – but in fact were a race of females reproducing via Parthenogenesis.

Sexual Reproduction: Hermaphroditic Race

Continuing along with the same line of reasoning, all smurfs could also be hermaphrodites. In other words, they could all poses both male or female genitalia. Popular, but rather silly theory claims that the smurf hats actually conceal a male sexual organ, while their trousers conceal female organ. According to that theory Smurfs reproduce communally via stacking where the whole tribe gets in a circle and copulates with each other. This is rather silly.

It is actually more likely that Smurf reproductive cycle is similar to that of Gethenians from Ursula K. Le Guin novel Left Hand of Darkness. The species described in the novel was peculiar in that it’s members exhibited no sexual characteristics whatsoever during most of the year. They looked androgynous or slightly masculine most of the time. The also seemed to refer to themselves using masculine pronouns – at least when communicating with humans. Once a month however they would enter a state they dubbed Kemmer in which they would develop either male or female characteristics. Each member of the species could develop characteristics belonging to either sex and they could alternate assuming male or female roles from Kemmer to Kemmer. In fact, the sex they would assume was largely dictated by the sex of their partner. Thus if one of the “lovers” started exhibiting male characteristics, the other would automatically and reflexively start developing female traits.

This model of reproduction seems very applicable to Smurfs. Their androgynous, slightly masculine appearance could be their asexual form. Papa Smurf exhibits super-masculine traits (the beard) which might be required by his position (the elder leader, and the alpha male of the tribe). It would also explain why some Smurfs would court Smufette which was permanently exhibiting female characteristics. They were reflexively responding to her femaleness which in turn was triggering their own reproductive instincts. However, as we established before – the Smurfette might actually be sterile.

Asexual Reproduction: Spores

It is possible that Smurfs reproduce asexually. They seem to live in a strange symbiosis with various species of mushroom. My personal pet theory is that Smurfs are actually an intelligent species of fungus and that they reproduce via Spores similarly to Orks from Warhammer 40000 universe. Let me quote you some of the fluff that explains Ork reproduction from the Gorga Morka background materials:

Orks have not only survived, they have prospered and are more numerous than humanity. This at least is due in part to how they reproduce. Orks reproduce through the release of spores, which grow into a plant-like womb underground that nourishes the bodies of the various Orkoid species. This is the entire basis of the Orkoid ecosystem, producing first Squigs, then Snotlings who cultivate the Squigs and fungus, then Gretchin to build the settlements, and finally the Orks themselves. This means the Orks, where ever they go, will have an abundance of food, slaves and other resources, a moving ecosystem that supports them as they go on their Waaaghs!

Smurfs could use a very similar mechanisms. Their bodies release spores throughout their lifetime. Some of these spores grow into the giant mushrooms they use for housing. Others may be used for food. Some spores grow and gestate and produce new Smurfs. New smurfs would probably grow in fungal cocoons either underground, or inside of the big mushrooms found around their village. They would emerge from them fully formed and adult looking. This would actually explain why all Smurfs appear to be roughly the same age. Papa Smurf looks older, since he probably belongs to an older generation. He was probably born elsewhere, and the current smurf tribe might likely grown from his own spores.

No Reproduction: Homunculus

Lastly, we must consider and alternative theory. It is entirely possible that Smurfs are not able to reproduce at all. A lot of evidence such as their peculiar alchemical properties, their all male appearance, and the fact that Gargamel was able to produce faux Smurfs with relative ease suggests that they are actually an artificially created species. The Smurfs may actually be a breed of rogue Homunculi that was created by Alchemists to aid in transmutation studies, but somehow escaped into the wild and established their own society.

If this is the case, they likely have no genitals and are probably unable to reproduce since most known examples of Homunculi are sterile and asexual. It is however possible they are able to replenish their numbers via magical means. For example, Papa Smurf seemed to be able to correct Gargamels flawed design of Smufette. This suggests that he has at least functional knowledge of the magic involved in Smurf creation. It is entirely possible he would be capable of making new smurfs from scratch.

Of course it would help for us to know how exactly did Gargamel create his experimental female smurf. Unfortunately no detailed notes of that experiment have survived, and as far as we know he was unable to examine his specimen after it was transformed in the Smurf village.

Before you say anything, please take into account that I do realize that this whole article is entirely pointless. Yes, smurfs are fictional, and this whole essay is simply me, over-analyzing a kids cartoon that never really meant to be analyzed this way. Still, it amused me and I hope it was an entertaining read. Please feel free to post your own alternative theories on smurf reproduction in the comments.

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33 Responses to Smurf Reproduction

  1. mcai8sh4 UNITED KINGDOM Opera Linux Terminalist says:

    I had this conversation in the pub about 8 months ago. Admittedly, it wasn’t quite as thorough as this as we where drunk. One of the lads (who I will not name as he was embarrassed to admit to finding this in the first place) ***** WARNING NSFW / NOT PLEASANT *****
    He got out his works laptop (not a good idea), went to redtube and searched for smurf!
    Please do not try it unless you don’t mind hilarious porn (we were still laughing after last orders), but it’s still very unpleasant.

    I personally think that the smurfs arrived due to some freak condition in nature, they have lifespans of centuries – all the time when I watched them, they never seemed to age, when they do reach the end of their life (sniff), they will become extinct!

    To reiterate, do not blame me if you’re offended by the redtube vid – I mean no harm, just passing on the info.

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  2. This topic was discussed in the film Donnie Darko, which may have sparked much of the conversation online.

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  3. mcai8sh4 UNITED KINGDOM Opera Linux Terminalist says:

    aah, I wondered why he just came out with it, the rest of us where discussing the barmaids, football, sexiest cartoon character… the usual.

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  4. Steve CANADA Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Um..maybe they are immortal and don’t need to reproduce. They were created as part of the natural Intelligent Design process (screw evolution).

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  5. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @mcai8sh4: Dude, of course there is Smurf pr0n. Haven’t you heard of Rule 34? Think of something pure and innocent from your childhood – there is pr0n of it on the internet somewhere – I guarantee it. And if there is not, someone will see your post and make it. :P

    @Chris Wellons: Oh crap, really? I watched that movie like 20 times and I can’t remember that scene? What were they talking about it?

    Anyways, Donie Darko was not my inspiration here. Robot Chicken was – I watched that sketch where they go “… so we were leaving the party yesterday and Smerfette started smurfing me right in the parking lot. And I was like SMURF YEAH!” – or, you know, however it goes.

    @Steve: Yeah, if by intelligent design you mean “made by a wizard in a secret lab somewhere”. Which is my Hemonculi theory. And yeah, they could be immortal – or at least very long lived. Whatever magical property makes them sought after alchemy ingredients may also be extending their lifespans.

    If you mean that other “Itelligent Design” that involves a higher being, who may or may not be The Christian God™ (or, you know – whatever other intelligent cosmic entity – like Galactus) then no – I don’t buy that.

    It’s like this: if Smurfs are immortal, they don’t reproduce and were made by Christian God Intelligent Designer of some sort then it means they were here since the moment of creation. It means they probably knew God the Designer personally – or at least remember the creation process.

    If they knew or experienced this higher being somehow, they should probably either worship or acknowledge him/it somehow. But Smurfs seem to be completely agnostic. Not only that, but they also practice Sorcery which I believe is frowned upon by every branch of religion *finger quotes* “science” *finger quotes* that acknowledges the “Intelligent Design” theory.

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  6. Morghan UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Debian GNU/Linux says:

    Now I have to hunt down enemy mine, never seen that one.

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  7. Mart SINGAPORE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    You should submit this post to The Journal Of Cartoon Overanalyzations! There’s nothing about Smurf reproduction there.

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  8. @Luke Maciak: It is listed as the second set of quotes on the IMDB memeroable quotes page. It’s at about 35:30. They are sitting on furniture out in a field at a makeshift shooting range.

    I found a video of it on YouTube.

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  9. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @Chris Wellons: Ah, I remember that scene but I didn’t recall the Smurf conversation. :) I do now.

    Thanks for the Youtube link!

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  10. s BELGIUM Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    what about the baby smurf? and grandpa smurf? he’s got a beard as well.

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  11. Wikke BELGIUM Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Maybe grandpa smurf is from an even older generation than papa smurf?

    And wasn’t baby smurf delivered by a stork?
    The mystery deepens…

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  12. astine UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    Duh, they live in segregated colonies. Every fifty years or so, they get together for one heck of a good time. Visiting, or even discussing the other colonies is strictly taboo. Smurfette as has been established, is an exception to the rule. Male Smurfs are legitimately ignorant as to the source of children.

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  13. Mack UNITED KINGDOM Safari Mac OS says:

    My 2 cents: The Smurfs are actaully communists. The creator of the smurfs did so to introduce children to socialist thinking without doing so explicitly in the political climate of the times.

    Papa Smurf is Marx. Gagramel is a metaphor for capitalism. Brainy Smurfs arrogance is deeply reminscent of Trotsky. Each Smurf is assigned a specific duty and sticks to it, and doesn’t ask questions, and they all sing a song of Smurfy Unity. The commune the smurfs live in is a self contained city-state where noone else enters or leaves, and each individual smurf is fiercely devoted to preserving the harmony of the community.

    For more smurf/communist info, Google terms Smurf Communist

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  14. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @Mack: Well, yeah – there is that theory too though I think it is a bit far fetched. Please note that most primitive and tribal populations usually shared the same social setup with an elder at the top, division of labor and sharing of resources. Many Native American and African tribal traditions – especially ones existing in isolation, or warring with their neighbors do develop a deep sense of tribe unity – and they put the good of the whole tribe above the good of the individual. And yet, they are not necessarily communist.

    But of course this has almost nothing to do with reproduction. Last time I checked, communists reproduced the same way we do. :)

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  15. Chris K UNITED STATES Opera Mac OS says:

    What’s wrong with a simple magic theory? If Papa Smurf, being the elder shaman could “fix” smurfette, why couldn’t he also have the magic to just create new smurfs when needed? It shows he knows something about it and is a logical extension of your Homunculus argument.

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  16. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @Chris K: You are right, under the Homunculus argument the Smurfs could reproduce by means of Papa Smurf magic.

    Question is, who created Papa Smurf. Or did he evolve naturally, seeing how he has traits no other Smurfs exhibit – like facial hair.

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  17. Lone Wolf UNITED STATES Opera Windows says:

    Maybe the Smurfs naturally reproduce sexually but something happened that all but whipped out the Smurfs except Papa and Grandpa smurf. Papa Smurf used some sort of secondary asexual form of reproduction or used some sort of magic based cloning technique creating the other smurfs. All the differences in their personality are due to flaws in the cloning technique.

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  18. Lone Wolf UNITED STATES Opera Windows says:

    I apologize for the double reply but this just came to me.
    Maybe Smurfs reproduce sexually and the sex ratio is roughly 50 50 but the smurfs in the cartoon are a cult that broke away from normal Smurf society. The Cult is led by Papa Smurf. There are no natural female Smurfs in the cult because the cult members are chauvinists and think woman (I don’t know) oppress men. Papa Smurf kept Smurfette around because one female is okay and she is not a natural Smurf. or thats what he told the other Smurfs in the cult but he really keeps her around for obvious reasons.

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  19. Heatherly UNITED STATES Opera Windows says:

    Maybe they bud. Like with jellyfish–growths pop up on the body, develop into young, and then fall off and become a whole new jellyfish.

    Alternately, maybe Smurfs do live in single sex tribes that periodially meet to mate, as Astine suggested above. Similar to the reproductive symbiosis of the Amazons and the Gargareans of Greek myth, when a male child is born in the female tribe, she sends him back to live with his father. (A female Smurf from the neighboring tribe could’ve sent Baby Smurf to the male tribe on the stork, maybe?)

    Another alternative is that they ARE hive species, but Granny Smurf (from the 1981 “Smurfs” movie) is the hive queen, not Smurfette.

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  20. Shane NEW ZEALAND Internet Explorer Windows says:

    OK it is unbelievable the amount of people who do not know the fact behind smurf reproduction!!!!

    simply: Smurfs are A-sexual

    from the writter they do not even have reproductive organs under there little white pants,

    many people are keen to suggest the idea that smurfette, is either the “queen bee” of some sort, but they have over looked one important key aspect, smurfette, wasnt actually an original smurf

    what’s this you ask?

    true smurf fans will all know that smurfette was actually a spy sent by Garg to infultrate the smurf colony, (hence her specially being the only female smurf) however on arival she was overwhelmed by the smurfs goodness she inturned transformed into being one of them

    smurfs are A-sexual and as far as the story line goes, thats a fact.

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  21. Jeremiah UNITED STATES Opera Windows says:

    Baby Smurf was dropped off by a stork, and the smuflings created Sassette Smuf. Maybe all true smurfs are dropped off by the stork in some sort of magical event but it’s clear that one can make a female smurf with alchemy. Also there were a few episodes where the cap was removed, and they have bald heads. There is also a Grandpa and Granny Smurf , maybe they are the parents of all smurfs or maybe Granny was created by magic too, she was trapped in a castle that would only appear every 100 years until Papa and Grandpa Smurf rescued her. I don’t know I’m high

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  22. izzy UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    You mentioned the Draags and the Orks… Are you referring to Fantastic Planet by Rene LaLoux??

    Your article was an interesting read.

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  23. John UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    What about the chance of them not actually reproducing or needing to they could be immortal. Which would make reproduction not only unnecessary but dangerous because they would mean over population.

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  24. AceMan POLAND Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Hm, you people seem to not read the comics well. Hereby, few explanations:

    1. All smurfs except Smurfette are bald. It is shown clearly in the comics and they doesn’t seem to be afraid to take off their hats (but they indeed do it rarely).

    2. I believe they have sexual organs in the same place as humans, since in one comic, when one of the smurfs looses his pants, he says that “he’s going to walk around with a naked SMURF” :)

    3. The formula to create Smurfette is in the comics. AFAIR, it’s complicated alchemy.

    Anyway, the most probable theory IMO, is that of Heatherly – that they live(d) in single sex tribes. Or, there was once a whole bunch of smurfs, male and female breeding like us, but now they are slowly become extinct – and the Papa’s village is the last, or one of the last settlements. The lack of female members could be just a coincidence, or maybe female smurfs were wiped out by alchemists (maybe they are better source of magic or something). AFAIR, Nanny Smurf, one of three known females, is a real, biological female. And again, maybe the last one. And the baby smurf? Hmm… maybe there is another small tribe somewhere, or even an alone couple that breeded the baby smurf and sent it to the village since it’s the safest place for him.

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  25. Jay UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    I’ve been a Hive Theory supporter for some time. While the creation of Smurfette by Gargamel shows her to be an artificial creation it is not explicitly stated that her gender acted as a disqualifier for Smurfhood and the mere fact that the Smurs are able to differentiate her by gender through their attempts at courtship seem to indicate that they have some base instinct towards sexual reproduction.

    That said it’s possible that the absence of female smurfs indicates not that they don’t exist but rather that the egg laying or birthing process leads to the death of that generations female. After the re-introduction of the female smurf the smurfs even went so far as to replicate Gargamel’s evil magic to create Sassette. This seems to indicate that smurfs may have a kind of expansionary instinct indicative to hive type species to branch off into more hives once their own reaches maximum capacity.

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  26. natascha UNITED STATES Safari Mac OS says:

    there are actually three female smurfs:

    smurfette: created by gargamel to lure smurfs into his lab, was originally brunette, papa smurfs changes her and her hair to blonde.
    sassette smurfling: is created by the smurflings and is like a sister to the all.
    nany smurf: nany of the smurflings

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  27. Leilani UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    So in other words, scientifically speaking noone honestly (F**KING) knows.
    End of story.

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  28. Jeffrey Bachrach REPUBLIC OF KOREA Safari Mac OS says:

    Actually I have an exact idea. If you pay attention to the shows after Smurfette was introduce, Papa smurf often smiles directly at her and sometimes she smiles back. So in other words, they has several “happy time”. Together.

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  29. Ben NEW ZEALAND Safari Mac OS says:

    How dumb are you guys the smurfs are obviously created by mother nature who is a charcter in the comic books and the tv show da

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  30. Ted UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    smurf children are actually delivered by storks…according to the comics

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  31. Pingback: On smurfs – playing around with genetic drift in a spatially structured population | Pan loquens UNITED STATES PHP

  32. Karen UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    @ Lone Wolf:
    Smurfs are magical creatures. They reproduce magically. And for those who didn’t know, magic is a form of energy which can be manipulated as we do with electricity. The method of the manipulation is almost as elusive as the manipulation of gravity but when the right conditions are present, you get brand new shiny smurfs. :)

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