How did "Papa" (presumably not the natural, biological father of all the other members of the village) Smurf become Papa (equally presumably a title for the village elder, most powerful, and thus leader)?

Little history is given of Papa Smurf and the village or Smurf history prior to the books and series produced by Peyo (to my knowledge). So I wondered if Papa had to "Earn" or "win" his title some how, or if it was he who proclaimed himself this by virtue of raising the others ( I vaguely remember a book or episode where he was taking care of many little Smurfs at once, but I can't count this as canon.)

  • 1
    smurfs.fandom.com/wiki/Papa_Smurf or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papa_Smurf? What if Papa Smurf was originally 'Papa Smurf?' Or since he was the wisest of them, and the elderly, they had to respect him. My thoughts is that he just became known as Papa Smurf to all of them.
    – user122417
    Nov 23, 2019 at 5:40
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    Like a smurf version of Thunderdome?
    – Valorum
    Nov 23, 2019 at 8:25
  • @Valorum Smurfer-dome? LOLOL......
    – Russhiro
    Nov 23, 2019 at 9:10
  • @Russhiro - Thundersmurf
    – Valorum
    Nov 23, 2019 at 10:17
  • Papa Smurf is definitely not the biological father of the other Smurfs. In the original french version by Peyo he is not called "Papa Schtroumpf" or "Père Schtroumpf", but "Grand Schtroumpf". "The adjective "grand" normally means big, large, tall. But he is the same size as all the others, so "Grand" in that context describes leadership, importance, like "Grand Roi" is a phrase meaning more or less the same thing as "King of Kings", Emperor, not a king who is particularly tall.
    – Alfred
    Dec 23, 2021 at 4:15

1 Answer 1


Papa Smurf appears to have become leader by unspoken acclamation. In his absence in King Smurf (1964), the smurfs quickly descend into anarchy. After fighting amongst themselves for a time, they eventually decide that they need leadership and several smurfs offers themselves as potential leaders; Brainy Smurf because he's the smartest, Grouchy Smurf because he's the oldest, etc. but there appears to be little agreement or consensus from the other smurfs.

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After a time, the smurfs decide that they're going to use a democratic system to decide who their leader will be. In the absence of Papa Smurf (to tell them how to vote !) they eventually vote for themselves, one vote each.

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Even after they eventually choose a new leader by vote, they don't actually respect him, viewing him as more of a figure of fun.

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And on Papa Smurf's return, he reverts his leadership with no need for a further vote, simply resuming his position as their informal ruler.

You might also want to note that we also know that Smurf Village isn't a formal gerontocracy since Papa Smurf's father (Grandpa Smurf) makes a reappearance after a long absence, but is never mentioned as a contender for leadership of the Smurfs, simply respected by them as a wise elder.

  • Well, that explains [a] his De facto leader status, and [b] that the title is not inherited via a direct bloodline. But it still doesn't answer how Papa got the title in the first place. Furthermore, the presence of Grandpa Smurf indicates there was a previous village and structure in place, so it serves to reason there was a generation or more of Smurfs before. What happened to them? Who was their leader? I can understand the other Smurfs having Papa lead if he is (essentially) their father and the wisest, but we can't assume he was just born that way from Gramp's presence, right?
    – Russhiro
    Nov 23, 2019 at 18:15
  • @Russhiro - It's not really clear if the smurfs lived in a village before Papa Smurf become their leader. They may have just lived in the wood or in/near human settlements.
    – Valorum
    Nov 23, 2019 at 19:04

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