The Pink Panther films are good-natured, humorous comedy flicks that have withstood the test of time. While modern audiences may be more familiar with the twenty-first century reboot starring Steve Martin, the franchise actually began back in the 1960s and there are nearly a dozen Pink Panther movies in total. So, if you’re eager to learn more, keep reading to find out all about the Pink Panther movies in order.
The History of the Pink Panther Movies
As mentioned, the movies began in the 1960s. The franchise has since grown to include comic books, an animated television series, and comedic shorts. But here we will focus on the movies as there are plenty of them available to watch.
In total there are 11 Pink Panther movies in the franchise. Eight pertain to the original actor cast in the role of Inspector Clouseau, one from the 1960s in which the titular character was recast, and then the reboot in the 2000s.
While many have come to associate the Pink Panther with the iconic animation of just that — a pink panther — in the original movie, and subsequent films, the Pink Panther actually refers to an iconic jewel.
Inspector Jacques Clouseau must find and return this gemstone to its rightful owner. But Clouseau isn’t exactly the most competent of detectives. While he wasn’t really the main character in the original 1963 film, movie-goers fell in love with his character, solidifying the Pink Panther series as a franchise surrounding Inspector Clouseau.
However, the animated pink panther did appear early on in the franchise and also became quite popular. It was first drawn to be a part of the opening credits sequence and has since featured in nearly every Pink Panther movie.
It received its own television show of animated shorts the year after the first film premiered, which aired in different iterations for decades.
The Legacy of Inspector Jacques Clouseau
Peter Sellers is the original Clouseau that fans fell in love with. However, he isn’t the only actor to have played the character by far, even in the original movies.
Somewhat controversially the actor to portray Clouseau in the 1968 film Inspector Clouseau was Alan Arkin. The film was not nearly as successful as its predecessors and saw the return of Sellers to the main role for the subsequent films until his death in 1980.
The franchise tried to continue following Sellers’s death and released Trail of the Pink Panther in 1982. This film used old deleted scenes of Sellers as Clouseau after it was decided no one could replace him in the role. Roger Moore does have a small, uncredited cameo in this film as Clouseau.
While two more films were made following Sellers legacy as Clouseau, neither were as successful as the franchise in its peak with Sellers in the main role.
Therefore, the franchise came to a slow-moving stop with the release of the final original film Son of the Pink Panther in 1993. That is until the reboot starring Steve Martin in 2006.
While multiple actors have played Clouseau there are commonalities across all the portrayals. Namely, Clouseau’s bumbling nature. As the film series evolved more to be about the detective than the eponymous diamond, so too did the films become more slapstick comedy in nature.
Clouseau bumbles his way through cases and only seems to catch the criminal in question by accident and through no hard work of his own.
Through missteps and mix-ups he aggravates those closest to him while obtaining the full credit and gratitude of those from afar, creating an entertaining dynamic to enjoy on the screen.
Will There Be Another Pink Panther Movie?
While a continuation of the original films or the reboot does not seem likely, there is new life in the franchise in the form of a brand-new reboot.
This iteration will see the iconic pink panther cartoon take on a more prominent role within the movie.
The cartoon was originally part of the opening credits scene back in the 1960s, but has since gone on to create a life and fandom of its own with multiple spin-offs. However, this would be the first time the animated animal stars in its own full-length movie.
Not many details are available, so it’s uncertain if the pink panther will remain a silent character or if this movie will again feature Inspector Clouseau. Jeff Fowler, director of the newest Sonic the Hedgehog movie, is behind this project as well, so it seems likely this will be a live-action and CGI hybrid movie.
In regards to the other films in this franchise, before Sellers death he had written another Pink Panther script with Jim Moloney that was supposed to be directed by Clive Donner: Romance of the Pink Panther.
Unfortunately, this script was never made into a movie as there were mixed feelings surrounding recasting Sellers.
Then, finally, a continuation of the 2000s reboot seems unlikely after the success, or lack thereof, of the second film: The Pink Panther 2. The second installment of a Pink Panther movie starring Steve Martin in the role of Clouseau only made $76 million worldwide on a reported $70 million budget.
While it’s still early days, the anticipated animated and live-action hybrid currently has the same producer as the Martin reboot, MGM Studios.
#1 – Pink Panther Movies in Order
If you’re looking for a straight master list of all the Pink Panther movies in order, this will be your perfect guide. The below list includes all the Pink Panther movies in order of release date.
- The Pink Panther (1963)
- A Shot in the Dark (1964)
- Inspector Clouseau (1968)
- The Return of the Pink Panther (1975)
- The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976)
- Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978)
- Trail of the Pink Panther (1982)
- Curse of the Pink Panther (1983)
- Son of the Pink Panther (1993)
- The Pink Panther (2006)
- The Pink Panther 2 (2009)
#2 – Pink Panther Movies in Order by Actor
However, if you’re looking to have a little bit more order and structure to your Pink Panther movie marathon, we would suggest organizing the franchise by actor. In the below list we will organize the movies by the actor who portrays Inspector Jacques Clouseau.
But please note there are a few exceptions to this rule for Peter Sellers. This is because he does not star in the final two movies we have listed under his name. However, he is alluded to and these movies are continuations of his legacy as Clouseau.
Peter Sellers is arguably the most iconic Inspector Jacques Clouseau. He was the first, and the longest, actor to fulfil this role. Therefore, he firmly established the role in the eyes of many.
He was born in England in 1925 and following his death in 1980 due to a heart attack the series continued with the legacy he set up. This includes Trail of the Pink Panther which used deleted scenes from previous movies, and Curse of the Pink Panther in which a new detective is searching for the missing Inspector Clouseau. Son of the Pink Panther was the final film in this era of Pink Panther movies and follows Clouseau’s illegitimate son.
- The Pink Panther
- A Shot in the Dark
- The Return of the Pink Panther
- The Pink Panther Strikes Again
- Revenge of the Pink Panther
- Trail of the Pink Panther
- Curse of the Pink Panther
- Son of the Pink Panther
There was one film within the original Pink Panther movies that stands out from the rest. This, of course, is the movie that did not star Peter Sellers or have Blake Edwards as director.
Alan Arkin only starred in one Pink Panther film entitled Inspector Clouseau. This film did not perform as well as the previous two within the franchise at the time of release. Arkin is American and born in 1934 with many other acting credits to his name.
The final actor to be credited as Inspector Jacques Clouseau and represent a different era of the Pink Panther movies is Steve Martin. He was born in 1945 and rose to prominence through his acting roles and stand-up comedy. While his first Pink Panther film garnered much interest, the second did not perform as well commercially, making it the last iteration in the series.
A Summary of the Pink Panther Movies in Order
Now that you know all about the actors who starred in this series we can delve into the summaries for each Pink Panther movie in order. We have organized the below list of summaries by actor if this is the order you wish to view the movies in.
1. The Pink Panther (1963)
The film that started it all is predominately a heist comedy film. Dashing European thief Sir Charles Lytton plans to a steal a diamond, but he’s not the only one with his eyes on the famous “Pink Panther” jewel. His nephew George also aims to make off with the gem, and plans to frame Charles for the crime.
Blundering French police inspector Jacques Clouseau travels to Rome to catch the notorious jewel thief known only as The Phantom, but finds his career — and his freedom — jeopardized.
Peter Sellers stars in this movie as Jacques Clouseau, alongside David Niven as Sir Charles Lytton and Robert Wagner as George. Blake Edwards was the director.
2. A Shot in the Dark
With the return of Inspector Jacques Clouseau the Pink Panther series becomes more slapstick comedy focused, which is what the series has become known for.
In this installment a chambermaid at the Ballon residence in Paris is accused of murdering her lover. Against the wishes of Chief Inspector Dreyfus, the infamous Clouseau is assigned to the case. Death follows the maid wherever she goes, yet Clouseau is stubbornly sure of her innocence.
Peter Sellers stars as Clouseau and Elke Sommer stars as the chambermaid Maria Gambrelli. They star alongside George Sanders as Benjamin Ballon and Herbert Lom as Charles Dreyfus. Blake Edwards was also the director for this installment.
3. The Return of the Pink Panther
After Clouseau lets a robbery transpire right under his nose, Chief Inspector Dreyfus suspends the ever-bumbling inspector. But, when the famed Pink Panther diamond is stolen from the National Museum in Lugash, the Shah requests Clouseau’s assistance and he’s brought back.
Clouseau quickly concludes that the thief must be the infamous Phantom, against whom he has a grudge, but the inspector’s instincts are, as usual, wrong.
Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom return as Clouseau and Dreyfus respectively. Joining the starring cast is Christopher Plummer as Sir Charles Lytton and Catherine Schell as Lady Claudine Lytton.
4. The Pink Panther Strikes Again
Just released from a mental hospital, Charles Dreyfus intends to off Inspector Clouseau, a former underling whose blundering drove the lawmen around the bend. Dreyfus captures a scientist, ordering him to create a weapon that will destroy the planet, and threatens world leaders with annihilation unless they hand over his nemesis.
Meanwhile, Clouseau goes to England to look for the vanished scientist, and his oblivious nature turns out to be an asset once more.
Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, and Blake Edwards all returned to reprise their roles as Clouseau, Dreyfus, and director respectively. Joining the cast were Lesley-Anne Down as Olga and Burt Kwouk as Cato Fong.
5. Revenge of the Pink Panther
To prove that he is still strong and powerful, Philippe Douvier decides to kill Jacques Clouseau. After a case of mistaken identity, Clouseau is declared dead, much to the delight of his former boss, Charles Dreyfus.
But Clouseau takes advantage of this case of mistaken identity and goes undercover with Cato to find out who tried to kill him.
Again Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom return to star as Clouseau and Dreyfus. Also, Burt Kwouk returns as Cato Fong. Robert Webber stars as Philippe Douvier, Dyan Cannon as Simone Legree, and Blake Edwards is the director.
6. Trail of the Pink Panther
This installment in the franchise was edited together following Peter Sellers’s death using deleted scenes from the previous films.
It begins with Chief Inspector Clouseau readying himself to travel to the country of Lugash to investigate another robbery of the eponymous diamond. After developing some disguises, Clouseau embarks by plane and mysteriously vanishes en route.
Hoping to solve the conundrum of the missing inspector, enterprising journalist Marie Jouvet interviews those closest to Clouseau, including his father, his boss, and his old nemesis, Sir Charles Lytton.
This is the last film to feature Peter Sellers in the role of Jacques Clouseau. Herbert Lom and David Niven returned to reprise their roles of Dreyfus and Lytton. Joining the cast were Richard Mulligan as Clouseau’s father and Joanna Lumley as Marie Jouvet. Blake Edwards was the director.
7. Curse of the Pink Panther
When legendary Inspector Clouseau goes missing, New York police officer Clifton Sleigh is enlisted to find him. But Sleigh turns out to be the only detective in the world more incompetent than Clouseau himself.
Traveling to France, Sleigh bumbles his way into and out of trouble. All the while he encounters a number of characters from Clouseau’s past. Including the charismatic jewel thief Sir Charles Lytton and his womanizing nephew.
This film features a cameo appearance by Roger Moore as Clouseau, although the inspector remains largely off-screen as he is still allegedly missing.
Ted Wass stars as Sergeant Clifton Sleigh. The director of this installment was also Blake Edwards and it features appearances by many previous cast members. David Niven as Sir Charles Lytton, Robert Wagner as George, and Herbert Lom as Dreyfus to name a few.
8. Son of the Pink Panther
When Princess Yasmin of the kingdom of Lugash is kidnapped by Hans Zarba, Police Commissioner Charles Dreyfus travels to Nice, France to supervise the rescue effort.
Clumsy policeman Jacques Gambrelli is assigned to assist him. Following which Dreyfus is appalled to learn that Jacques is the illegitimate son of his old nemesis, the late Inspector Clouseau. While Jacques pursues the princess, Dreyfus romances Jacques’s mother.
This is the last Pink Panther movie by director Blake Edwards. It stars Roberto Benigni as Jacques Gambrelli, Herbert Lom as Dreyfus, Claudia Cardinale as Maria Gambrelli, and Debrah Farentino as Princess Yasmin.
1. Inspector Clouseau
When an elusive group of thieves commits a string of robberies across Europe, the British prime minister enlists the expertise of bumbling sleuth Inspector Clouseau. To complicate matters, the crimes are suspected to be connected to a dirty Scotland Yard cop. So, Clouseau must save the day all on his own.
However, he finds himself in a tricky situation when he is kidnapped. Then, the robbers use a mask of his own face to conceal their identity while they continue to rob banks.
This is the only film to star Alan Arkin in the role of Jacques Clouseau. It also stars Frank Finlay as Superintendent Weaver, Delia Boccardo as Lisa Morrel, and Barry Foster as Addison Steele. The director was Bud Yorkin.
1. The Pink Panther (2006)
Now we move into the twenty-first century reboots starring Steve Martin. In this first installment the Pink Panther diamond makes a reappearance, but with a modern twist.
When the coach of a French soccer team is killed, his ring featuring the legendary Pink Panther diamond goes missing. Luckily, Chief Inspector Dreyfus has a plan. He will assign his most intelligent, most driven officers to track down the thieves in secret.
Meanwhile he’ll divert attention by publicly assigning the bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau as head of the case. Clouseau seems hopeless, until his various mistakes and misjudgments miraculously put him on the real killer’s trail.
Steve Martin stars as Clouseau, and he also has a screenplay writing credit. This film also stars Kevin Kline as Dreyfus, Jean Reno as Ponton, Emily Mortimer as Nicole, Kristin Chenoweth as Cherie, and Beyoncé as Xania. Shawn Levy was the director.
2. The Pink Panther 2 (2009)
When the crime spree of notorious cat burglar “The Tornado” goes global, the French government gathers an international crime-busting dream team to catch him.
Unfortunately, clueless Inspector Clouseau is heading the investigation. Cue daft disguises as Clouseau and his sidekick Ponton lead a team of international inspectors on a merry dance across Europe. These inspectors include Pepperidge, Vincenzo, Kinji, and Sonia.
Steve Martin, Jean Reno, and Emily Mortimer return in their roles as Clouseau, Ponton, and Nicole respectively. Joining the cast are Andy Garcia as Vicenzo, Alfred Molina as Pepperidge, Yuki Matsuzaki as Kenji, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as Sonia, and John Cleese as Dreyfus. The director is Harald Zwart.
Final thoughts on the Pink Panther movies in order
So there you have all of the Pink Panther movies in order. This franchise gives you plenty to watch during your next movie night.
But have you already watched these films? If so, how do you think the reboot holds up to the original? Let us know in the comments down below.
Looking for more movies in order?
Check out this list of the Mythica movies in order.