April 14th is World Dolphin Day! (Not to be confused with Japan Dolphins Day on September 1st or World Whale and Dolphin Day on July 23rd... Orcas can wait for their own list.) To help you celebrate, here are ten dolphin heavy media properties worth checking out.
NB. If documentaries are more your thing, try Dolphins (2000), The Cove (2009), or Dolphin Reef (2018).
Probably the best known of the fictional dolphins, we're starting with Flipper. The world was first introduced to Flipper in the 1963 MGM film of the same name. That was followed by a 1964 sequel Flipper's New Adventure and a TV series that aired between 1964-67. Then there was a round of remakes with a new Flipper film in 1996, a TV series running from 1995-2000, and then an animated series called Flipper & Lopaka.
Zoom the White Dolphin
Originally a 1971 French and Japanese co-produced anime series of 13 episodes, Nestlé continued using Zoom as their Galak mascot right up until 2003. The character was later resurrected for another 52 episodes in 2015.
seaQuest DSV followed the crew of a high-tech submarine in a world where humans have exhausted almost all the earth's natural resources, forcing them to search the ocean floor. Airing between 1993 and 1996, the show was set in the then distant future of 2018. So distant that we had fully cracked human-dolphin communications and had Darwin the Dolphin as a member of the ship's crew. Sadly, they didn't make him wear a little hat and jumpsuit.
Ecco the Dolphin
First released in 1992 for the Sega Mega Drive, Ecco the Dolphin has been frustrating kids around the world ever since. Seriously, I never worked out how to get beyond the very first scene, but there must be something to it - even now you can play it as an Xbox port.
The Day of the Dolphin
Unlike their cousins the orca, dolphins are very rarely cast as the villains of the story. But, where there's a will there's a way, and when Robert Merle published Un animal doué de raison (lit. A Sentient Animal) in 1967, that way forward suddenly became clear.
The Day of the Dolphin loosely adapted the story in 1973, telling the tale of a husband and wife team who train dolphins to speak English. This leads to the dolphins being kidnapped and trained to kill the president of the USA by sticking a magnetic mine to his yacht. Inevitable, really.
A Girl and a Dolphin
Де́вочка и дельфи́н is a short animated film from 1979 about a dolphin who saves a girl from drowning.
This short lived US drama combines lots of dolphin tropes - a troubled family relocates to Australia where the dad is employed to work on dolphin-human communications. His son struggles to settle, while daughter Katie doesn't get on with anyone... not until she meets the dolphins, at least. Dolphin Cove ran for eight episodes in 1989.
Barbie Dolphin Magic
If you have kids of a certain age you're probably familiar with Barbie Dolphin Magic. This CGI offering from 2017 has Barbie and clan go on holiday, only to make friends with a mermaid and help save the imaginatively named gemstone dolphins from the clutches of an unscrupulous researcher. Mattel have helpfully provided a deluge of tie-in merchandise, so none of your 1/6 scale friends need be without a dolphin to call their own.
Eye of the Dolphin
Typical family film fare, 2007's Eye of the Dolphin sees troubled 14-year-old Alyssa (Carly Schroeder) bond with the dolphin, and so brings her closer to her estranged father (Adrian Dunbar), a dolphin researcher. The movie did well enough to garner a TV Film sequel Beneath the Blue in 2010.
If you like this one, check out Bernie the Dolphin and its sequel for more family friendly dolphin fare.
Based on a true story, 2011's Dolphin Tale explores the story of a dolphin named Winter whose injured tail must be amputated. Winter needs a prosthetic to avoid putting stress on her spine, but rejects it until a lonely schoolboy comes up with a solution... There is also a sequel from 2014, Dolphin Tale 2.