When the first Shrek movie was released in 2001, it was clear that the animation game would never be the same. With a star-studded cast featuring Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and John Lithgow, Shrek took familiar fairytales and totally turned them on their heads, adding in slapstick humor and larger than life characters you would never find in any other story, fairytale or otherwise.
The films were clearly meant to follow Mike Myers' Shrek, a misanthropic ogre who finds himself thrust into the role of a hero as he goes on familiar fairytale adventures. But while Shrek may be the lead character of the franchise, there's no way to deny that Eddie Murphy's Donkey, Shrek's devoted and hilarious sidekick, is the real star of the films. With sharp wit, pop culture commentary, and seemingly endless enthusiasm, Donkey is Shrek's secret weapon. Here, we look back at Donkey's best lines.
10 "We can stay up late, swapping manly stories, and in the morning, I'm making waffles!"
As soon as Donkey unexpectedly shows up in Shrek's life, he's a bouncing, endless ball of positivity and enthusiasm, which stands in direct conflict with Shrek's general air of grumpiness. That, of course, is what makes the two of them such a perfect comedic duo. After Donkey makes it clear that he intends to live in Shrek's swamp, he further moves inside of Shrek's own home. Right away, he's got some great plans for their future.
While Shrek isn't interested in being friends with the talkative little donkey from the get-go, Donkey is basically confirming the two of them are going to be best friends forever from that moment on. Their first night together, according to Donkey, will consist of "stay[ing] up late, swapping manly stories, and in the morning, I'm making waffles!" Sounds like pretty good friendship material to us.
9 "Don't die, Shrek. And if you see a long tunnel, stay away from the light!"
Donkey can be a real worrier, and for good reason, given the sheer amount of insane obstacles and violence that he and his friends come into contact with throughout the Shrek franchise. But one of the first times he's given real reason to worry is when his new best friend, Shrek, is punctured by an arrow, and Donkey is made to think the injury could be something serious.
While frantically starting to run away and find help elsewhere, an incredibly panicked Donkey exclaims, "Don't die, Shrek! And if you see a long tunnel, stay away from the light!" His comment just elicits further irritation from both Shrek and Fiona, but leads to a real moment of darkly snarky humor for the film that's never afraid of embracing sarcastic humor in all forms.
8 "Blue flower, red thorns, blue flower, red thorns... This would be so much easier if I wasn't colorblind!"
Donkey finds himself being quite the unlikely hero many times throughout the film franchise. One of the first time he does so is when Shrek is hurt by an arrow, and Princess Fiona gives him a quest to find a flower that he thinks will help heal the injury. Of course, little does he know, the flowers were little more than a distraction to get him out of the way so Fiona could tend to the injury herself.
But that doesn't make Donkey's attempts at heroism any less heroic - or any less hilarious. While trying to find a blue flower with red thorns, Donkey takes to reciting "blue flower, red thorns" over and over again, and ultimately reveals - when surrounded entirely by those very flowers - that he is, in fact, conveniently colorblind. The entire montage is still hilarious after all these years.
7 "I like that boulder. That is a nice boulder."
Donkey is a donkey of very simple tastes and one who is very easy to please. When he finds up in Shrek's swamp, he's just about the most positive individual Shrek has ever met, which leads to some of the hilarious moments of conflict that we've already alluded to. But it also leads to some amazing color commentary from Donkey, who takes to flattering the ogre in just about every way he can.
While wandering around the swamp grounds, Donkey begins providing hilarious observations on the home decor elements of Shrek's home: "It is lovely! Just beautiful. You know, you are quite a decorator. It's amazing what you've done with such a modest budget. I like that boulder. That is a nice boulder." But it's the boulder comment that really seals the deal, elevating his little monologue to a whole new level of hilarity.
6 "Oh man, I can't feel my toes. I don't have any toes! I think I need a hug."
Donkey can be quite the over the top character when he wants to be, and for that reason, a little bit of Donkey can go a long, long, long way. Shrek and Fiona often get quite tired of him, and as a result, they have a bit more mean-spirited fun with him than they should. In an attempt to get Donkey to leave them alone so they can go off in search of wood and food for dinner, Fiona and Shrek begin to make Donkey think something is wrong with him.
Of course, at the slightest suggestion of this fact, Donkey begins to spiral. After Shrek and Fiona both abandon him mid-spiraling, Donkey becomes totally dejected, culminating in his realization that, not only does he not feel his toes, he never had any toes to begin with. His sad little "I think I need a hug" makes for one of the film's most laugh-inducing and aww-inducing moments of them all.
5 "Well, I have a bit of a confession to make: donkeys don't have layers. We wear our fear right there on our sleeves."
Early on in the first Shrek film, Donkey fixates on the notion of ogres having layers, like onions and parfaits and countless other things. It's a metaphor that Shrek and Donkey both refer to throughout the film after that first back and forth discussion, but Donkey's cheekiest reference to it comes in a most unexpected moment.
Donkey and Shrek will go on plenty of dangerous and heroic adventures during the course of the franchise, but Shrek finds the two of them braving one of the most unenviable threats of all. In their attempts to rescue Princess Fiona from the tower, they're forced to cross a dangerous bridge surrounded by a dragon's lair and brimstone. And that's where Donkey makes the revelation that "donkeys don't have layers. We wear our fear right there on our sleeves" - since, as it turns out, he's afraid of heights.
4 "Now I'm a flyin', talkin' donkey! You might seen a housefly. Maybe even a superfly. But I bet you ain't never seen a donkey fly!"
While Donkey may reveal his fear of heights later in the film, when he's first introduced in Shrek, Donkey is, in fact, quickly shown as flying through the air. When fairytale creatures are up for auction, Donkey's previous owner tries to sell him off as a talking donkey, but a sudden burst of pixie dust makes Donkey able to fly, too.
All of the attendees at the auction are dumbfounded, including the guards and knights involved in the royal auction. But Donkey has never been happier, laughing hysterically as he floats through the air and gloats about being the first ever donkey to fly. Unfortunately, the joy is short-lived, as the pixie dust wears off in mere seconds. But it makes for a truly hilarious moment, and a great few lines, too.
3 "The position of annoying talking animal has already been taken."
Since Shrek and Donkey had really become as close to the best of friends as they could be by the end of Shrek, it was only natural for Shrek 2 to introduce yet another frenemy dynamic for the beloved donkey. That frenemy, of course, came in the form of Antonio Banderas' Puss in Boots, a pint-sized swashbuckler who would come to rival Donkey in terms of cuteness and snarkiness both.
From the moment they meet, Donkey doesn't hesitate to make his dislike for the little feline known. When Puss in Boots tries to pledge his loyalty to Shrek, the clearly jealous Donkey immediately remarks that "The position of annoying talking animal has already been taken." Of course, time will show that there's plenty of room for two annoying talking animals in Shrek's life.
2 "Don't worry. Things seem bad because it's dark and rainy and Fiona's father hired a sleazy hitman to whack you. It'll be better in the morning."
Donkey really has a unique way of putting a positive spin on things, even in the most uncomfortably depressing of situations. Of course, his innate positivity often doesn't help at all, considering the dry manner in which he delivers and recaps news. But the effort counts, just as it does in Shrek 2 when he and Shrek find themselves on the run.
After meeting Fiona's royal parents, it's apparent that Shrek is now a wanted man, as he'll never earn their approval. In fact, things become so dire that Fiona's father enlists an assassin to put an end to Shrek's life altogether. And how does Donkey summarize their situation? "Don't worry. Things seem bad because it's dark and rainy and Fiona's father hired a sleazy hitman to whack you. It'll be better in the morning." He really did make an attempt there, no matter how unsuccessful it may have been.
1 "How in the name of Hans Christian Andersen am I supposed to parade around in these goofy boots?"
Body swapping and unexpected transformations are the bread and butter of fairytales, and the Shrek franchise is certainly no different. But far and away the most unexpected and most hilarious example of this familiar trope occurs in Shrek the Third when Donkey and Puss in Boots find themselves suddenly swapping bodies as a result of Artie and Merlin's magic.
Since Donkey and Puss in Boots are still the series' resident love-hate friendship at this point, the realization that they are now inhabiting each other's bodies leads to some wonderfully snarky barbs. But none of them are more wonderfully meta and hilarious than Donkey's quip that he couldn't possibly ever walk in Puss's ridiculous boots - a remark he makes "in the name of Hans Christian Andersen," the master of fairytales himself.