When the live-action Dora the Explorer movie was first announced, I, like a lot of folks, rolled my eyes. Aren’t most of Dora’s adventures about, like, going to the park or visiting her abuelita? How are you going to get 90 minutes out of that? And then I had a kid and actually watched the show.
Sure, plenty of Dora’s adventures are of the boring “Let’s go to the store!” variety, but she’s also visited outer space and Atlantis, and hangs out with dinosaurs on a regular basis. And unlike a saner kids show, Dora never makes it clear whether any of this if imaginary or not. Stuff just happens, and I choose to believe it’s all cannon. So, with that said, here’s a few Dora adventures that would make Indiana Jones hang up his fedora…
To the South Pole (Season 3, episode 14)
Until this point in the series, most of Dora’s adventures take place in her own weird, but ultimately safe-feeling, little fantasy world. In “To the South Pole” Dora ventures into the real world when she decides to travel to friggin’ Antarctica after a baby penguin shows up at the Animal Rescue Center. No, “Hey Mom and Dad, off to the South Pole, might be late for dinner.” She just immediately jumps in a biplane and flies halfway around the world like a tiny pink-shirted Amelia Earhart (uh, minus the getting lost part). Once she gets to Antarctica, she commandeers a research ship, which she promptly crashes into an iceberg. Thankfully, she manages to call a blue whale ala Dory in Finding Nemo. You’d be surprised how often convenient whales factor into Dora’s adventures.
Journey to the Purple Planet (Season 3, episode 15)
While fiddling around with a telescope, Boots idly says he’d like to meet an alien, and because this isn’t really a show that does subtle foreshadowing, a ship full of aliens show up seconds later. The aliens need to get back to their home on the Purple Planet, but their ship is broken. Thankfully, Isa the iguana just got a rocket ship of her own from, uh, somewhere. You just have to roll with these sorts of things.
So, Dora and friends take off at, like, warp 30, because they immediately escape the bounds of the Milky Way. Along their journey they discover a ton of new planets, navigate an asteroid belt, hitch a ride on a comment, and have a pretty good intergalactic dance party. Forget Star Trek: Picard, I want to see the further intergalactic adventures of Captain Márquez.
Dora Saves the Mermaids (Season 4, episode 25)
“Dora Saves the Mermaids” depicts the environmental crisis facing our oceans in a candid, yet relatable way with a tale about [checks notes] an evil octopus who’s dumping garbage on mermaids’ heads, which makes their heads stinky. Never afraid to tackle the hard issues, that Dora. As she journeys to put an end to this mermaid head stinkiness, Dora encounters another friendly whale (I told you it was a thing), some angry palm trees, and a horrifying cow-fish hybrid. Finally, Dora reaches the Mermaid Kingdom, uses a magic crown to turn herself into a mermaid, and summons all the creatures of the sea to clean up the mess. So yeah, ocean’s actually fine everyone! Dora Aquaman-ed that shit back in, like, 2007.
Dora’s Christmas Carol Adventure (Season 5, episode 16)
In “Dora’s Christmas Carol Adventure” Swiper is finally put on the Naughty List by Latin Santa Claus after, like, 100 episodes of brazen thievery. Dora, who might not be as anti-swiping as she lets on, tries to appeal Swiper’s case, but Santa will only let the sneaky fox off the hook if he learns the True Meaning of Christmas™. This requires him to travel through time to both the past and future. Everybody’s “Wait, time travel?” and Santa’s all, “Whatever bro, I don’t really care what list you’re on.”
Anyways, Dora and Swiper get magic time capes from an angry troll (as one does), and set off to fulfill Santa’s insane request. Turns out the True Meaning of Christmas Swiper needs to learn is mostly just “don’t swipe things,” which he’s skeptical about at first. Eventually, he and Dora end up in a dystopian future where Christmas has been cancelled because Swiper won’t stop swiping things, and the little jerk finally gets the message. He agrees sharing might be okay, and Santa rewards him with a giant sack of gifts. All’s well that ends well! Note: Swiper is back to swiping in the very next episode.
The Secret of Atlantis (Season 6, episode 13)
Yeah, Dora has visited both the Mermaid Kingdom and Atlantis. Jealous? This one is packed with lore, as it turns out all the stories you might have heard about Atlantis were all bunk. Nope, it disappeared because the unicorns and dragons who lived there were engaged in such a bitter feud that it caused Atlantis’ phoenix overseer to sink the island with her tears. Hey, unless somebody can prove to me it didn’t happen that way, I’m taking Dora’s word on this one.
In order to make everything right, Dora has to negotiate a truce between King Unicornio (who she already knows from a previously adventure, naturally) and the Dragon King. This is no problem for Dora, who gets the Unicorn and Dragon Kings to awkwardly hug, thus raising Atlantis. Most people would be happy with just finding Atlantis, but Dora isn’t content until she’s moving continents.
Dora Saves King Unicornio (Season 6, episode 14)
Oh yeah, we’ve got a genuine Dora multi-ep story arc on our hands here. So, when King Unicornio was off helping raise Atlantis, his kingdom was usurped by an evil Owl voiced by Jason Alexander. Dora vs. Duckman, the animated showdown you never knew you wanted, and, in fact, may still not want. Dora quickly gets to work gathering the elves, fairies, and other refugees the Owl has banished from the Enchanted Forest, then rallies the masses with a fiery speech. The corrupt Owl monarchy is overthrown and the good (?) Unicorn monarchy is reinstalled. After this, I assume rabble rouser Dora went off to despose that monster Babar.
Dora & Diego in the Time of Dinosaurs (Season 8, episode 9)
It’s Baby Jaguar’s birthday, and while blowing out his candles he idly wishes he could see a real dinosaur, which, of course, magically sends him back in time. And he can’t wish himself back (you only get one birthday wish, duh) so he’s trapped in the Cretaceous. It should be mentioned that dinosaurs still exist in present day in the Doraverse, so Jaguar didn’t need to go back in time to see one, but I guess the cake didn’t know that. The cake is where birthday magic resides, right? This is all very confusing.
Anyways, Dora and that dweeb Diego break out the time capes from “Dora’s Christmas Carol” and head back to the age of the dinos. While there, they run across a T. rex, Spinosaurus, and various raptor-looking guys, and Dora is not fussed in the slightest. Eventually, they find Baby Jaguar and hop back to present day just as a volcano is going to explode. All worth it so they can finally cut the cake.
Dora’s Super Soccer Showdown (Season 8, episode 14)
Dora is more than an explorer, she’s also an athlete, and this is her Space Jam episode. Er, Space Jam with soccer balls. Aided by new Brazilian ringer Paola, Dora’s squad The Golden Explorers take on a gauntlet of intimidating teams, consisting of samba-dancing trees, dinosaurs, and freakish monsters. If you’re expecting Dora to talk her way out of these matches or come up with cute tricks to win the day, think again. She just straight up beats her opponents’ asses with her elite footie skills. In the final match, she takes down the monster team in front of an audience of what appears to be about 100 thousand people. And her parents are there in the audience, so this is all real. How many people did Jordan draw for the Space Jam finale? Dora doesn’t just collect stars, she is one.