A popular doll line that has been around since 1959, originally an offshoot of the earlier Bild Lilli fashion doll line which Mattel co-founder Ruth Handler came across in the mid-Fifties and eventually acquired the design and patent right in 1963. Partly a revolution in doll design, because until then most fashion dolls were made to look like little girls. Barbie was made to look like a young woman. When she was first created, her figure was more akin to a normal young woman's, but later adjustments made her dimensions were adjusted in different ways so that she would maintain a more natural figure under the thickly-hemmed clothes.
Barbie is also the subject of controversy, due to her figure being stylized and therefore impossible in Real Life, and thereby supposedly giving girls an "unrealistic" role model, though her figure was slightly modified in the late 1990s in response to these complaints. Mattel is careful to make sure Barbie's image remains "wholesome" and getting dolls into roles that were once seen as unsuitable for women. Mattel featured a NASA Astronaut Barbie just two years after Valentina Tereshkova (from the Soviet Union) became the first woman to go into space and Mattel has been releasing "Barbie for President" dolls since 1992.
The original storyline attached to the dolls was that of Barbie Roberts, a teenager and the oldest of many sisters, and her career as a model. Her surname and age have now been long since forgotten, and she generally plays adult characters, being showcased in various careers. Barbie has also been featured in a series of animated direct-to-video features since 2001 (each with a tie-in toy line), most of them based on Fairy Tales, but also including originals like the Fairytopia series. They tend to be accused of Tasting Like Diabetes, especially the newer ones, but have surprisingly strong, positive portrayals of women: i.e., the girls help each other without second intention and don't always bond only over guys.
Barbie has become a stock parody over the years; The Simpsons has Malibu Stacy (Lisa's frustration with a talking model that had the personality of The Ditz was the focus of a whole episode, inspired by a real controversy over a talking Barbie which could say "Math class is tough!"), and Rugrats had Angelica's favorite toy, the Cynthia doll. Then she's finally parodied herself in Toy Story 3.
There have been a number of movies starring Barbie, including:
Films of the 2000s:
- Barbie in the Nutcracker
- Barbie as Rapunzel
- Barbie of Swan Lake
- Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper
- Barbie: Fairytopia
- Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus
- Barbie Fairytopia: Mermaidia
- The Barbie Diaries
- Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses
- Barbie Fairytopia: Magic of the Rainbow
- Barbie as the Island Princess
- Barbie: Mariposa
- Barbie & the Diamond Castle
- Barbie in A Christmas Carol
- Barbie Presents: Thumbelina
- Barbie and the Three Musketeers
Films of the 2010s:
- Barbie in A Mermaid Tale
- Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale
- Barbie: A Fairy Secret
- Barbie: Princess Charm School
- Barbie: A Perfect Christmas
- Barbie in A Mermaid Tale 2
- Barbie: The Princess & the Popstar
- Barbie in the Pink Shoes
- Barbie: Mariposa & the Fairy Princess
- Barbie & Her Sisters in A Pony Tale
- Barbie: The Pearl Princess
- Barbie and the Secret Door
- Barbie in Princess Power
- Barbie in Rock'n Royals
- Barbie & Her Sisters in The Great Puppy Adventure
- Barbie: Spy Squad
- Barbie: Star Light Adventure
- Barbie & Her Sisters in A Puppy Chase
- Barbie: Video Game Hero
- Barbie: Dolphin Magic
Films of the 2020s:
The dolls who are usually seen in stores, this line has a few sub-categories:
- The most poseable dolls in the entire playline, these dolls are No Name Given, with the name on the box being the style of the doll, though the most recent set (Swapping Styles) have had a webseries similar to Mattel's other line, Monster High, on the Barbie website.
- As of 2011, the line has been reverted to a sort of Fashion Fever line, with Barbie, Teresa, Raquelle and Nikki taking over and eliminating the No Name Given element. It was also the first line to include Ryan.
The So In Style girls:
- A set of all black dolls featuring Barbie's friend Grace who has moved to Chicago, she meets two best friends (Trichelle and Kara) and participate in a pseudo-tutoring program (The Little Sibling program, featuring Dajh's clone as the first little brother).
- A line that was created to compete with the Bratz line, featuring Barbie with an Animesque head and living in New York with her friends Chelsea, Madison (Westley), Nolee and Delancey. The line was the first line to feature webisodes (with a nice artistic quality to them). Barbie then left the line and was replaced with Kennedy (Barbie in this line had been the tomboy and Kennedy was a girly girl. It then found a huge fanbase in Latin America; after a huge amount of Pandering to the Base, it then became No Export for You (the line is only sold in Latin America now). The webisodes also changed to a more cartoonish style and became less funny and more current.
The Collector line:
The Dolls of the World line:
The Basics line:
- One doll, one theme outfit. The first line was the Little Black Dresses, and the second was the simple jeans and Tee line (and three male dolls were included this time).
- Animated Actors: Kind of, as the films have Barbie "playing" characters.
- Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale takes this a step further: This time it's about the actress Barbie.
- Action Girl: In 'Barbie and the Three Musketeers, and Toy Story 3.
- Ambiguously Gay: Ken has a long history of accidentally appealing to other crowds than young girls. Toy Story 3 finally embraced it with all its heart.
- Background Halo: The cape that Barbie as "Fantasy Goddess of the Arctic" wears, has what appears to be a hood, but acts more like this.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Now the Trope Namers, as the dolls are infamous for it, especially poor Ken. More recent iterations have modeled patterns over their featureless groins to resemble underwear.
- The Bechdel Test: Surprisingly, several of the movies pass this. The girls discuss guys once in a while, but they more often talk about friendship and their own goals.
- Beware the Nice Ones: A common aspect in the movies. Do not threaten Barbie's friends if you know what's good for you.
- Breast Expansion: Inverted. Ever since the '90s. The original Barbie was much more well-endowed, something still commonly seen in parodies.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Stacie and Krissy.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Teresa's latest movie roles tend to be this since Diamond Castle.
- Costume Porn: All of the specialty dresses.
- The Dandy: Ken in Toy Story 3.
- Deadly Fireworks Display: Towards the end of Barbie and the Diamond Castle, Vain Sorceress Lydia tries to cast a spell on the protagonists, but it backfires and hits her instead, surrounding her with swirling green sparkles until she disappears in a flash of light. Though she turns out to be Not Quite Dead...
- Also in 2 of the 3 the Barbie Movies which are located in Fairytopia (respectively the first part; Fairytopia and the third part; Magic of the Rainbow), where the Big Bad of several movies gets hit by the Power of the Rainbow and (after getting swirled about in the first movie,) "explodes" in a rain of rainbow-colored sparkles.
- Ermine Cape Effect: When it involves the royalty-related tropes mentioned here.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: A lot of her dolls and films.
- In Barbie and the Diamond Castle, she's a peasant but still becomes princess of music at the end, just because.
- Everything's Better with Sparkles
- Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry
- Fairytale Wedding Dress
- The Fashionista
- Five-Token Band: Teresa's the Hispanic one, Raquelle's the Asian one, Nikki took over Christie's role as the black one, Summer's the Irish one, and Barbie's the white one, though you can get her in any ethnicity. This turned out to be a problem when Mattel released Oreo Barbie with the African-American option. Oops.
- Fluffy Fashion Feathers: Many of her outfits have feather trim.
- Follow the Leader: The Disney Princess line.
- Framing Device: Several movies, especially her earlier ones, had Barbie telling the story to Kelly, and then it would cut to the actual story, and then Barbie would take up the narration again as the story ended.
- Genius Ditz: Barbie is portrayed as a borderline Dumb Blonde in Toy Story 3 (albeit with redeeming qualities). And then wham, democratic philosophy out of nowhere:
"Authority should derive from the consent of the governed, not from threat of force!"
- Giant Poofy Sleeves: A few of her fancy dresses.
- Gold Makes Everything Shiny: Many outfits, including her 1994 holiday dress.
- Graceful Ladies Like Purple
- Green Aesop: Barbie Presents Thumbelina.
- "Happy Holidays" Dress: The "Happy Holidays" line is the Trope Namers.
- Hair of Gold: Barbie and her little sisters.
- Held Gaze: This happens several times in her movies, notably Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper after Dominik and Erika's love duet.
- Hidden Depths: See Genius Ditz above.
- Hormone-Addled Teenager: Despite the fact that Barbie is technically an adult. One of her "talking" lines drew a lot of criticism for having phrases like "Let's go shopping!", "Math is hard!" and "Will we ever have enough clothes?" A group called Barbie Liberation decided to do something about that, swapping out Barbie's voice boxes with those from G.I. Joe, so Barbie instead said things like "Vengeance is mine!"
- It's Fake Fur, It's Fine: Officially, she wears fake fur. Of course, the fur actually is fake, but in the early years, that was likely for economic reasons.
- "I Want" Song: Several of her movies feature this, often as duos between the leads. An example is "I Need to Know" from Barbie as the Island Princess, amongst the more usual "I Want" Songs like "Free" from her first movie musical, Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper.
- Impractically Fancy Outfit
- Lady in Red: Many of her dresses, especially her holiday dresses.
- Limited Special Collectors' Ultimate Edition: See Barbie Collector above.
- Official Cosplay Gear: So young girls can try on the outfits.
- Only One Female Mold: Most of Barbie's friends have exactly the same body shape as she does.
- Opera Gloves
- Peacock Girl: The Island Princess
- Pimped-Out Cape: A few dolls had some, notably the "Fantasy Goddess of the Arctic" doll.
- Pimped-Out Dress: She's been given loads of elaborate dresses over the years.
- Pink Means Feminine / Pink Product Ploy: Barbie is all about piiiink. Her logo is pink. Her Dream Car and Dream House are pink. Packaging for most of the dolls and accessories are pink. One of her first outfits, "Enchanted Evening", has a pink evening gown.
- Her signature color is "Barbie Pink" and can't be used by another company without getting permission from Mattel. However, it should be noted that when other products try to do the Pink Product Ploy, it's usually a very close comparison to Barbie pink (never a darker or lighter shade of pink). It is very much the Gold (Pink) Standard to which other pink products aspire to.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Barbie in the Nutcracker and stories like Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper could count as this.
- Pretty in Mink: Loads of her outfits (officially being fake is the only nod to that trope, so the rest count as this).
- This started as early as the white fur wraps she wears in the "Enchanted Evening" and "Gay Parisienne" dolls, and the white fur jacket she wears for the "Icebreaker" doll.
- For that matter, it seems 90% of the time when one of her outfits has fur, it's white.
- Princesses Prefer Pink: Some of the movies have princesses wearing pink clothes, especially if Barbie is playing a princess.
- The Rival: The recent movies have Raquelle in this role.
- Rule of Glamorous
- Sexy Santa Dress: Even she has worn some of those.
- Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: Guess which end Barbie is on.
- Stylish Protection Gear: A few, like her astronaut suit, which is pink and gold.
- Sweater Girl: A number of her outfits over the years. The early 80s set "Fashion Jeans" included a pink, fuzzy sweater, even though that name could have included any kind of top.
- Thememobile: Her Dream Car.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: A Double Subversion in one of her fairy tale movies, where Barbie's character actually tried to kill the villain. Then it turned out that her newfound magical powers couldn't be used to harm anyone.
- Toyless Toyline Character: The villains from the movies rarely have toys made of them.
- True-Blue Femininity
- Trans-Atlantic Equivalent: Sindy, which first emerged in 1963.
- Tuckerization: Mattel co-founder Ruth Handler named the Barbie and Ken dolls after her children Barbara and Kenneth respectively.
- Unlimited Wardrobe: Probably the most of any fictional character ever, perhaps.
- Vague Age: Barbie is constantly changing from someone in her early-to-mid twenties to a teenager (sometimes even a high schooler).
- And considering she (and all her friends) run for President every four years, it seems that she's at least 35 too.
- Virtual Paper Doll: Some of the games.
- Winter Royal Lady: Her line of "Winter Princess" dolls, among others.
- Workaholic: She's had loads of careers that her dolls have covered.
- Yet Another Christmas Carol: One of the 2008 videos is an adaptation of this story.