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Fly: Can a human breathe underwater? Joe: OF COURSE NOT!
~ Joe's last words before drowning.
Once, there was only silence, and not a speck of hope in sight. And every tiny bubble burst on its journey towards the light. But the spark of creation will flicker again; it's a brand new era... about to begin.
My good friend, we have a job vacancy, perfect for you. Commander of my minions, leader of this impressive group of idiot fish.
~ Joe attempting to make Fly and his family join him.
One potion. One ocean. One ruler of all.
~ Joe's singing, proclaiming himself as the ruler of the ocean.
Joe is the main antagonist of the 2000 Danish-English animated film Help! I'm a Fish. He is a pilot fish who drank some of Professor Mac Krill's potion and became highly perspicacious and intelligent before he decided to take over the seas with an army of intelligent sea creatures.
Joe was initially a normal pilot fish swimming aimlessly alongside Shark. One fated day, a young teenage boy named Fly, goes at sea with his overweight cousin Chuck and a scientist named Professor Mac Krill, searching for Fly's younger sister Stella, who got turned into a starfish by accidentally drinking Mac Krill's potion and fell into the ocean. As soon as Fly turns into a fish to look for her, a storm breaks up and the boat sinks, along with the antidote, making it appear that Mac Krill drowned, forcing Chuck to turn into a jellyfish as well as avoid drowning. Joe and Shark came near the bottle of antidote, which was opened and was spilling in the sea.
They both drink it, gaining human-like features such as personality, intelligence and the ability to speak. The pilot fish (who names himself "Joe") figures how to use the potion for his own gain. He promptly drinks more and starts "evolving" thousands of other fishes, while making sure to make them less intelligent than he is. Over the next forty hours, Joe establishes himself in a sunken Ocean Liner and starts a town-like society of evolved fishes, with him in charge. He has them build a huge statue in his likeness on the liner's deck, and organizes whale-buses trips to his lair, for the evolved fishes to come and watch his conferences.
Fly was reunited with his sister and his cousin, so he is searching for the antidote, for they need to drink it within two days, lest they stay fishes for the rest of their lives. They eventually board a whale-bus and sneak into Joe's conference room, as the villain is singing a song about granting every sea creature the gifts of speech and intelligence to lead them to greatness. Fly starts singing along, pretending loyalty to grab the bottle, but he cannot drink the antidote at the bottom of the sea, lest he drowns when he turns back to human.
Joe immediately figures out that the protagonists are more than mere evolved fishes and has them arrested. He later has them brought to the captain's cabin which he turned into his office. He asks for the formula of the antidote so as to mass-produce it, and offers to welcome them in the society he wants to build, promising them enormous influence over it, but all they want is to turn back into humans. (In fact, Joe's real motive is to feed them to Shark once they outlive their usefulness, lest they outshine him.) Shark did not understand that he was not to eat them immediately, and his blunders, as well as Joe's obvious lack of sincerity, ticks them off.
Joe refuses to believe that they are humans transformed, thinking that they are trying to deceive him. He has them caged and guarded by Crab. Fly attempts to goad Crab into cutting the bars, but the one-track-minded crustacean snaps the key instead. Fortunately, Stella's pet seahorse Sasha, whom Joe condemned to labor, manages to flee and goes to their rescue. By chasing Sasha, Crab opens the cage and they knock him out with a crate hook. They then run into Joe and Shark, but Fly tricks Crab into attacking the wicked fish and they escape.
Incensed, Joe attempts to have Shark and Crab executed, but an angry Shark devours the would-be executioner and Joe instead appoints him as his general to distract him. He orders him to lead his entire armies of crabs, sharks and swordfishes to look for them. As the protagonists are trying to gather ingredients to make an antidote themselves, Joe's armies surround them. Joe drinks the last drops of the antidote to spite them, all while growing a bit and his fins turning into hands, and takes Sasha hostage. Tired of Shark's stupidity, Joe fires him and offers once again to make the protagonists leaders of his armies, but Shark has had enough of this and turns against him. Meanwhile, Crab chases after the fleeing protagonists, wounds Fly by striking him with his claw and drinks their makeshift potion to evolve more. Overjoyed and vastly overconfident, Crab declares himself the new leader and foolishly takes on Joe and Shark, but the latter devours him.
Joe only escapes the wrath of his angry former follower when a boat piloted by Professor Mac Krill and the heroes' parents searching for them enters the fray. The whirlpool caused by the boat (looking like a hurricane under the sea) disperses Joe's army and traps Shark in the tube, while the protagonists cling for dear life.
Fly, Stella and Chuck sadly say goodbye to Sasha and find their way to Mac Krill's house and enter through the pipes connected to the sea, searching for a second bottle of antidote, but Joe follows them and chases them, only to get knocked out. They flood the house to search for it, but Joe steals the bottle once they find it and opens a tank full of carnivorous piranhas, leaving them to get eaten while he escapes through the pipes. Chuck manages to defeat all the piranhas while Fly rushes after Joe and confronts him.
Being wounded and Joe having become much bigger and stronger than he is due to the antidote, Fly challenges his foe's intelligence by asking joe many increasingly difficult questions, making Joe drink more antidote to answer each one of them, while gradually turning into a hideously deformed, mutated human/fish-like beast. After Joe becomes more human, Fly asks him a final question: "Can a human breathe underwater?" Joe answers "Of course not!", only to realize too late that he has been tricked. He eventually wheezes before he finally drowns, causing his lifeless, mutated body to be carried away by the current, never be seen again.
You got it? Good. Now get this... You're FIRED!!! You brainless-sawtoothed-seaweed sucker!
~ Joe to Shark, showing his intensive aggression.
Joe is very calm, suave, collected, loquacious and smooth-talking. He is an obsequious and polite fish who never loses his calm and remains levelheaded even when angry. Having drunk much more of the fish-into-human potion than any other fish, he is by far the smartest of them. Unfortunately for everyone, he is also completely evil, ruthless, manipulative and power-hungry. He presents a facade of business-like politeness to subordinates and potential associates, but hardly veils his scorn and often dishes out disparaging and opprobrious comments. He is also very prideful, audacious, self-satisfied, oppressive and boastful, reveling in his higher intellect and enjoying to rub his superiority in people's faces. He evidently resents the heroes for their innate intelligence, and while he wants to use them for his own gain, he strives to get rid of them and displays great delight when he manages to outsmart them.
While indeed very intelligent, able to organize an extremely developed human-like micro-society in little more than a day, to seize opportunities when they arise and skillfully adapt to the situation, Joe has yet to fully come to terms with behaving like a human, prompting him to act on impulses, to neglect facts, and to make mistakes. And like many villains, he ends up undone by his own arrogance. Joe is a highly magniloquent and persuasive orator, described as "inspiring" by the other evolved fishes, able to present himself as a benefactor to recruit them. However, people turned into fishes like Fly know better than to blindly follow him and provide an intellectual match, leading to his downfall.
In addition to his intellect, Joe also proves much stronger and tougher than his small size would make it appear. However, this is still not enough to put up with a pissed of shark.
Joe's main minions are a dimwitted great white Shark, who just thinks about food, and a military-minded Crab, who both eventually turn against him.
Shark: (after tranforming and gaining the power of speech) What happened? Whoa! What's that sound? Joe: (after tranforming and gaining the power of speech) Mmm. I believe we have acquired the power of speech, my voracious friend. Shark: Uh... Joe: I can talk. I can think. Mmm, what a delicious beverage. Can you feel the power? Can you... taste it? Shark: Taste it? (eats a fish) Ah! Food! (burps) Oi! Clean my teeth! There's stuff in the cracks. Joe: Henceforth, oral hygiene is no longer my department. Shark: What? Joe: I don't clean anymore. Try dental floss. From now on, I call the shots. Where there's brain power, I can have fame, fortune, servants.
~ Joe planning to build an army after he and Shark gain the power of speech.
Fly: I'm convinced your words are true. Joe: Who's this? Fly: Please let me follow you. Joe: What a nice young fish. Fly: I'll hold the bottle, too. Joe: Oh no, that won't be necessary. Fly: I insist, just let me hold it. Joe: The bottle stays with me. Fly: Just let me have a little sip. Chuck: No Fly, no! We're at the bottom of the sea, you'll drown! Joe: Hmm... arrest them!
~ Joe meeting Fly, Chuck and Stella for the first time and has them arrested for other uses.
Joe: Useless! The pair of you! You're not fit for sushi! I sentence you to execution! Shark: Uhh... what's that? Joe: Shark! Chew up that useless crab and eat yourself when you've finished! Shark: Yeh... uh... well... (turns to Joe angrily) Joe: Uh... I mean, um, no no, uh, that won't do, ah, my mistake. Nobody has to execute themselves in a civilized society. You! Seabass: Ah, who? Me? Joe: Yes, you! Because of your long and loyal service to me, I hereby appoint you chief executioner. Seabass: Ah! Ohh, thank you, sir. Ah, thank you, sir! Thank you, thank you, thank y- (gets eaten by Shark) Joe: Uh, on the other fin, we could just call it water under the bridge. A great leader is distinguished by his ability to forgive. Shark, I hereby appoint you offensive commander! Shark: Atten-tion! Joe: Go and get those three infuriating fish and bring them to me now!
~ Joe appointing Shark as offensive commander of his army after failing to have him executed.
Fly: Wait! Wait, come... come back here, you... you stupid fish! Joe: I'm sufficiently intelligent to kill you... if you don't stop bothering me. Fly: So what? Any brute could do that. But can you tell me what the square root of... 6,561 is? Joe: Uh, 300, divided by 40, minus 3 is... (drinks the antidote) Ah! 81! Fly: Yeah! But do you know what happens if an object travels at the speed of light? Joe: (drinks more antidote) Ah! It turns into pure energy! Fly: What came first, the... the chicken or the egg? Joe: (drinks more antidote) It depends on the relative amount of molecules in the universe! Fly: What happens to a fish if he drinks too much antidote? Joe: It... becomes... (wheezes) HUMAN! Fly: Can a human breathe underwater Joe: OF COURSE NOT! (wheezes and drowns)
~ Joe drowns after Fly tricks him into drinking too much antidote to turn more human than fish.
Joe and Shark before drinking the potion and becoming intelligent.