Marlene is the only prominent female animal character of The Penguins of Madagascar, and was first introduced in the third episode of the series, becoming a recurring character as the series developed. Marlene is also one of few original characters of the series, and not a character recycled from the Madagascar film series.
Marlene is covered almost entirely in smooth, chocolate-brown fur, with a large patch of white fur on her chest and a small streak of white fur on her right foot. Early promotional images featured Marlene with white eyes with a green iris, but her eyes in the television series are yellow with a brown iris.
Marlene is a Smooth-Coated Otter, who was brought to Central Park Zoo from her old aquarium in California due to an unknown scandal, although she was clearly a popular resident at her old zoo, having won that zoo's internet popularity competition three years running - as was revealed in Tangled in the Web. The episode Otter Gone Wild also revealed that Marlene had been born in captivity, and turns into a Mr Hyde-style monster if she is ever released into the wild.
In her debut episode, Haunted Habitat, it is revealed that Marlene snores heavily in sleep, and that habitat is decorated with origami figures created by Marlene, as well as paintings of her own creation.
Over the course of the series, Marlene's character is developed considerably. She is shown to become addicted to popcorn along with the other zoo animals in Popcorn Panic, and is revealed to play chess in Crown Fools. It is also revealed in Two Feet High and Rising that Marlene is not above gambling, which she frequently does with the zoo's elephant.
Marlene is shown in the series to be headstrong and occasionally prone to violence. In Haunted Habitat, she threatened Skipper after he called her "helpless", and in Crown Fools, Marlene attempted to attack King Julien with a crowbar after she tried to help him find a new crown after his old crown fell into a sewer, only to discover that he had a spare crown all along. Her temper flares again in Roomies, when she bullied Skipper and the others into getting rid of an obnoxious penmate who had arrived at the zoo.
Despite Marlene's tough attitude, she has been shown to be easily scared. In Haunted Habitat, for example, she screams at the sound of gurgling sewage in the sewer beneath her habitat, whilst in The Hidden, she was terrified by a group of chameleons who had just moved into the zoo's reptile house, and ran screaming to the penguins for help.
Relationship with Skipper
Although Marlene has been presented on the show as simply a platonic friend of the penguins, fan speculation of a possible romance between Skipper and Marlene quickly emerged, including various music videos on the subject, utilising songs by bands such as Cascada, Heart, and White Stripes. Several fan-made stories concerning the pairing have also surfaced on sites such as Fanfiction.net as well as small-scale forums.
Any such relationship, if it does exist, has yet to be confirmed officially.