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In Dora the Explorer, Swiper often tries to swipe an object that Dora and Boots need to reach their destination. If they confront him and say "Swiper, no swiping!" three times before he reaches it, he'll say "Oh, man!" and leave. However, I've seen in some episodes they only manage to say it once and he grabs the item.

Is there any in-universe explanation for why they need to say this three times, or for how it prevents him from then taking the item? Clearly, simply being seen doing it is not sufficient to prevent him.

I've only seen most of seasons 1 and 3 of Dora the Explorer. I have not seen the full seven seasons or any other related canon material for Dora the Explorer, so I'm wondering if the answer appears there.

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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about Dora the Explorer. Questions regarding children's programs where the fantasy elements primarily consist of anthropomorphic talking animals have been deemed off topic in the past.
    – TGnat
    Oct 27, 2014 at 15:33
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    You are kidding, right?
    – Dima
    Oct 27, 2014 at 18:10
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    @numaroth Dora goes beyond simply having talking animals (there are trolls with their own realm under the bridge, a magical forest where Unicornio is king, etc), so I think the question it links, Are children's literature and cartoon's for children on-topic?, seems more appropriate. Oct 27, 2014 at 18:53
  • 79
    Closers, no closing! Oct 27, 2014 at 19:17
  • 15
    Seems like a candidate for migration to Movies & TV. Oct 28, 2014 at 3:41

3 Answers 3

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This is discussed at some considerable length in this article from howstuffworks. In short, his swiping is to be viewed less as a character flaw and more of a character trait:

Show co-creator Valerie Walsh gives us some further insight:

Swiper is a one-dimensional character. You don’t know why he steals, and we did that on purpose. Kids this age are learning about more complex thinking. The emotional and psychological reasons behind someone being bad have to be explained so thoroughly that we didn’t want the back-story…. We’ve had this discussion with advisors who wanted us to get into the motivation behind Swiper’s bad behavior. We decided that it’s cleaner without it. Similar to villains in fairy tales, we don’t get into the why.

By extension, his motivation for not swiping after being confronted by Dora ("no swiping!") is also intentionally unexplained.


Out of universe, the show's other co-creator Chris Gifford has described the phrase as a simple strategy to empower children in dealing with the threat posed by Swiper:

And what about Swiper, the villain?

That was pretty controversial actually at the time. There were a lot of people who asked us not to put Swiper into the show. As a matter of fact, because they kept going through how to reduce or adjust Swiper’s teeth, “Round them out!”

And I just wanted him to have sharp teeth because the more threatening Swiper was; the more powerful kids felt and be able to stop him. So now they have the strategy to keep saying, “Swiper no swiping”, and then Swiper stops. And that I think, is a big part of the Dora success because you know he is a threat.

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    "unintentionally explained" or "intentionally unexplained"?
    – DLeh
    Oct 27, 2014 at 19:05
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    "Unintentionally explained" or "intentionally unexplained"?
    – Ryan M
    Oct 27, 2014 at 19:05
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    @Dleh Wow, that's weird. If I hadn't taken the time to capitalize the U, I might have beaten you.
    – Ryan M
    Oct 27, 2014 at 19:06
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    @RyanM haha yeah, if I hadn't taken the time to bold it, I would've been even faster ^_^
    – DLeh
    Oct 27, 2014 at 19:09
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    @Richard You have way too much rep. We are not worthy to touch it.
    – KOVIKO
    Oct 27, 2014 at 19:19
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The unofficial wiki states:

It is revealed that Swiper started to steal when he saw another fox stealing a little train from a child. After that Swiper took away a witch's shoes and she punished him with a magical curse and told him "You can now be stopped by anyone who says "Swiper no swiping!" three times".

Unfortunately, the reference is uncited, and I don't believe it comes from an actual episode. In the very first episode, Dora already knows how to stop Swiper. Nor is it explained in flashback episodes like "Dora's First Trip" or Swiper-centric episodes like "Swiper's Big Adventure."

Swiper's IMDB biography also gives an uncited reference to a witch's curse.

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    The only reference I can find to this seems to be a fanfic; justliz143.weebly.com/new-character-perspective.html
    – Valorum
    Oct 27, 2014 at 19:23
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    What a world we live in where Swiper the Fox has his own IMDB biography.
    – Zibbobz
    Oct 28, 2014 at 13:38
  • @Zibbobz We live in a world where a character with millions of fans and millions of dollars in merchandising are spent on him a year. Who meeting that criteria WOULDN'T have an IMDB biopic?
    – corsiKa
    Oct 28, 2014 at 20:56
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Empirical studies seems to indicate that at least the younger kids need the three times to catch the trigger and have time to say it at least once. I guess they feel better knowing they helped stopping Swiper ;-)

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    Whilst this is a good out of universe answer, the question asks for an in-universe answer.
    – Moogle
    Oct 28, 2014 at 11:26

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