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The Dreamworks wiki claims that Octavius Brine was

a human reality show contestant turned into an octopus.

However, I cannot find any evidence of this online, and the transcript does not mention it. Was he ever human?

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The following Wikia "tech" analysis replaces my earlier character-based analysis.

Simply put, this origin story is complete [insert expletive]. It was made up by a user who's either a troll, or completely unaware Wikias aren't their personal fanfiction sites.

The history of all Wikia pages is public, just like on Wikipedia. I browsed through the history of Dave's page, searching for the edit that added the "human turned into octopus" bit. It was made on February 16, 2016, by the user Rigby3000, along with other unsourced stuff (Dave's father is named Kristoff, and his mother is dead?). This looked iffy, so I took a look at the editor's other contributions. There are edits to Dreamworks content I don't know about, and on which I couldn't evaluate the edits' appropriateness without further investigation, but I can spot troll and fanfiction material on the content I do know:

Given the above (and there's more, but the list is long enough already), I claim rubbish on that fact.


Former answer (based on character and writing analysis):

I highly doubt this is true.

In-universe, no mention is made of it, and Dave is a quite proud person. If he used to be a human indeed, I'm having trouble imagining him from going to any type of human, to an attention-hungry octopus. I'd rather think he'd be miserable, or extremely angry at the situation, rather than cope with it and live his best life as a mollusc and never ever mention it. Unless he'd forgotten all of it, but this would be quite heavy and irrelevant as an untold-background story.

Also in-universe, while this is a kids' movie and a lot of tech stuff can be handwaved, I doubt the technology/magic to perform such a transformation exists; Dave himself was the one who built the penguin-transforming device. The other characters don't look like they've ever seen such a thing, including the North Wind team, which has supposedly been in crazy situations before.

Out-of-universe, it's a pretty heavy backstory, which as said above would be mostly irrelevant for Dave's motivations in the movie. Meta-answer, but if Googling variations of octavius brine transformed human doesn't pop anything, then maybe there's just nothing and the wikias' unreliability struck again. Note that the film's creators talk about Dave as "an octopus", consistently with what's shown in the movie:

The villain this time around is John Malkovich’s Dr. Octavius Brine. Here’s how Darnell described him: “[He] masquerades as a human being who’s a geneticist, but in fact, he is Dave the octopus who first met the penguins at the Central Park Zoo. The penguins were loved and adored by the people, and everyone stopped paying attention to the octopus. And so he was shipped off to another zoo and every zoo he went to, the same thing happened. The penguins were always loved and he was always shipped off because nobody was giving him any attention. So he broke out of the last zoo that he was in and spent a decade learning what he needed to learn, because octopuses are brilliant, to get his revenge on these penguins.”

"HOME and PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR Comic-Con Panel Recap: New Footage, Evil Scientist Octopus, 28-Second Alien Invasion and More", Perri Nemiroff for Collider

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    The fact that in 4 1/2 years, nobody's come along and removed that or even questioned it, speaks volumes as to Wikia's reliability (or lack thereof).
    – F1Krazy
    Jul 7, 2020 at 10:21

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