Created By: Griffinguy24 on October 22, 2009
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Panthera Awesome

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Let's face it: Cats are a huge part of the human experience. They make things cuter, they complement schemes to take over the world, their ears and tails are often added to the human form, but there's another class of cat altogether. Ever since the first anthropoid was dragged off and eaten by a panther, the large cats have invoked fear and awe in the hearts of humans. They've become the symbols of kings, empires, even gods and demons. Their pelts are gorgeous and carry with them a sense of awe. And, obviously, they have a profound impact on humans and the fiction they produce.

There are a number of flavors

Lions - The "king of beasts" as the stereotype goes. Lions once roamed across Europe, the Middle East, India, and the entire African continent. Now, they're relegated to sub-Saharan Africa and the Gir Forest in India. Lions are the only social cat, forming prides consisting of one male and a number of females. The main reason lions are so venerated is their image, the males are distinctive from the females with their shaggy manes and tend to be larger than said females. They live in savannas rather than jungles as commonly believed.

Tigers - The largest of the big cats, native to Asia, and not DarkestAfrica as many people believe. They're the only cat with stripes, and one of the few cats still known to eat people, and, as such, in India, people living in the jungles will wear masks on the backs of their head to prevent tigers from sneaking up on them. Mostly comes in two colors: orange and white, with an extremely rare "golden tabby" variant and rumored-but-uncomfirmed blue and black colored tigers. White tigers are somewhat common in captivity and almost unseen in the wild. The white color is a recessive trait, however, and thus captive white tigers tend to be very inbred, often suffering from eye problems, hip dysplasia, and cleft palates.

Leopards - The most common big cat, ranging through most of Africa and Asia, as well as the smallest roaring cat. Often seen as stealthy more than anything else, and with good reason.

Jaguars - Think of a leopard on steroids. The largest cat in the Americas, found from Mexico through northern Argentina. If a writer is trying to accurately write about The Amazon, this is the cat they'll use. The Mayincatec worshipped jaguars, and to this day they're held in esteem South of the Border. More often than not, however, when you hear the word jaguar, they're talking about the car company.

Black Panthers - Not a separate species. Both leopards and jaguars can be born with black coats. Expect writers to treat them as a separate species anyway. Often, especially in illustrated media, if a leopard or jaguar is used, it will be a black variant for two reasons. 1) It's easier to draw a solid black panther than a spotted one, and 2) It looks cooler that way

Mountain Lions - Also called cougar, puma, panther, catamount, painter, and about forty other names (and that's just in English). Ranges across the Americas from the Yukon to Tierra del Fuego and, thus, most likely to be used in an American setting. May be used as a source of non-sequitur subplots

Cheetahs - One of the smallest of the big cats, but is the fastest land animal on the planet. When you can reach freeway speed in a sprint, you know you're awesome.

Saber Tooth - Not actually called a saber-toothed tiger, but fits the motif. There were a large number of saber toothed cats throughout the world at various geologic periods (along with scimitar-toothed cats, dirk-toothed cats, and Thylacosmilus, a marsupial carnivore that wasn’t related to the cat family, but does slightly resemble one), but the one most familiar to people is Smilodon, and specifically Smilodon fatalis, a Pleistocene species that ranged down the west coast of the Americas as far south as Peru. Smilodon was about the size of a lion, but much more compact and muscular, kind of like a jaguar. The two enlarged canine teeth allowed the saber-tooth to hunt extremely large prey, but were very fragile and prone to breaking quite easily. If you want to make a present-day cat appear older, or just more Badass, you just need to add some overgrown fangs.

Compare Big, Badass Wolf for the canine version of this trope.

Differs from Mega Neko, because while every big cat is a Mega Neko, not every Mega Neko is a big cat.

Examples –

General

  • Thundercats, full stop.
  • Super Sentai (and by extension, Power Rangers) that have any animal theme at all will have at LEAST one big cat in the mix. Special notice goes to Wild Force/Gaoranger, which had a lion and a tiger themed ranger, and Jungle Fury/Gekiranger, in which the core three rangers were big cats (Red = Tiger, Yellow = Cheetah, Blue = Jaguar), as was the Big Bad, a lion.
  • KISS’s Peter Criss was a "Catman."

Lions

  • The Lion King
  • Kimba, the White Lion
  • Aslan. Jesus Christ is a lion, get in the car!
  • In the Disney version of Robin Hood, Prince John and King Richard are depicted as lions (Richard with a mane, John without).
  • The 1965 movie Clarence The Cross-eyed Lion and the TV show based on it in 1966, Daktari both featured Clarence, a male lion who happened to be cross-eyed. In the movie, he's captured after raiding the livestock of a village -- it's discovered that due to his crossed eyes he sees double and cannot hunt wild game. He's taken to the local vet clinic and adopted by the veterinarian's daughter. The Tv show focused more on the vet, his family, and dangers-of-the-week (often poachers or criminals trading in wild animals,) but Clarence was still a major character.
  • Born Free: book in 1960, film in 1966. A lioness, raised from a cub in captivity, is rehabilitated to life in the wild. It's worth keeping in mind that in the late 50's the idea of rehabilitating captive animals for successful life in the wold was not widely accepted or attempted. The Adamsons may have been the first to try it, I'm not sure
  • Lions (called "Numa") appeared in several of Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan stories.
  • In Usagi Yojimbo, Usagi's sensei is a lion. It also features cat-ninja.
  • Liontaurs, the official race of the land of Tarna in the third Quest for Glory. Most of them are badass warriors or mages and obsessed with honor and glory. One of the main characters of the game is Rakeesh the paladin, who is a sort of mentor to the hero.

Tigers

  • Tama from Hayate No Gotoku, an African white tiger
  • Hobbes is Calvin’s best friend, but has no reservations about stalking and pouncing him.
  • Shere Khan is a Bengal tiger that was born with a withered leg, thus lacking the "fearful symmetry" of Blake's Tyger. He regards himself as the lord of tigers (apparently the meaning of his name) but is really a coward and a bully.
  • The Jonny Quest TOS episode "The Riddle of the Gold" had a tiger hunt, where the hunters became the hunted.
  • The Hangover has four drunken guys dealing with, among other problems, a tiger in their hotel suite, and how to get it back to its owner in one piece.

Jaguars

  • Black jaguars were seen chasing Kuzco in The Emperor's New Groove
  • In The Road to El Dorado, the villain controls a giant jaguar statue to terrorize the city.
  • Chocolove (aka Joco) Mc Donnell in Shaman King has a jaguar spirit.

Leopards

Generic Black Panthers

  • Black panthers inspired Marvel Comics' Black Panther and The Black Panther Party (separately).
  • One appeared in a Jonny Quest TOS episode, and was featured in the opening credits.
  • In the first Quest for Glory, monsters called Cheetaurs roam the forests at night, which actually are more like huge panther-creatures. There's also the cute little kitty owned by the old lady in town, that turns into a giant panther if you try to harm its owner.

Mountain Lions

  • {{24}}, obviously
  • Disney's ''Charlie the Lonesome Cougar".

Cheetahs

  • Chester Cheetah would like you to know it’s not easy being cheesy
  • Gold Digger prominently features Brittany Diggers, a werecheetah
  • Harold & Kumar features a scene of the titular duo encountering an escaped cheetah. Then getting STONED with it. Then riding it.

Saber-Toothed Cats

Community Feedback Replies: 18
  • October 21, 2009
    Lee M
    The Jungle Book has two big cats with contrasting roles.

    Tiger: Shere Khan is a Bengal tiger that was born with a withered leg, thus lacking the "fearful symmetry" of Blake's Tyger. He regards himself as the lord of tigers (apparently the meaning of his name) but is really a coward and a bully.

    There's also a proto-Just So Stories tale of how the first tiger got his stripes.

    Leopard: Bagheera the black panther was born in captivity but escaped into the jungle, becoming one of its most feared and respected predators. His cunning and bravery make him one of the best teachers a young man-cub could ever want.
  • October 21, 2009
    Shrikesnest
    So the gist of this trope is that jungle cats are awesome, and by awesome you mean totally sweet?

    Naw.
  • October 21, 2009
    Madrugada
    I Think that "Big Cats as Fictional Characters or Influences" is a valid proposal.

    And to that end:

    • The 1965 movie Clarence The Cross-eyed Lion and the TV show based on it in 1966, Daktari both featured Clarence, a male lion who happened to be cross-eyed. In the movie, he's captured after raiding the livestock of a village -- it's discovered that due to his crossed eyes he sees double and cannot hunt wild game. He's taken to the local vet clinic and adopted by the veterinarian's daughter. The Tv show focused more on the vet, his family, and dangers-of-the-week (often poachers or criminals trading in wild animals,) but Clarence was still a major character.

    • Born Free: book in 1960, film in 1966. A lioness, raised from a cub in captivity, is rehabilitated to life in the wild. It's worth keeping in mind that in the late 50's the idea of rehabilitating captive animals for successful life in the wold was not widely accepted or attempted. The Adamsons may have been the first to try it, I'm not sure.
  • October 21, 2009
    random surfer
    • Black panthers inspired Marvel Comics' Black Panther and The Black Panther Party (separately).
    • KISS's Peter Criss was a "Catman."
  • October 22, 2009
    Arivne
    Black Panther
    • One appeared in a Jonny Quest TOS episode, and was featured in the opening credits.

    Lion

    Mountain Lions
    • Disney's ''Charlie the Lonesome Cougar".

    Tiger
    • The Jonny Quest TOS episode "The Riddle of the Gold" had a tiger hunt, where the hunters became the hunted.
  • October 22, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    The Hangover has four drunken guys dealing with, among other problems, a tiger in their hotel suite, and how to get it back to its owner in one piece.
  • October 22, 2009
    Amazingly Enough
    The Quest For Glory series provides several examples:

    Panther
    • In the first game, monsters called Cheetaurs roam the forests at night, which actually are more like huge panther-creatures. There's also the cute little kitty owned by the old lady in town, that turns into a giant panther if you try to harm its owner.

    Lions
    • Liontaurs, the official race of the land of Tarna in the third game. Most of them are badass warriors or mages and obsessed with honor and glory. One of the main characters of the game is Rakeesh the paladin, who is a sort of mentor to the hero.

    Leopards
    • The Leapordmen in the third game, who are a race of cunning shape changers and magic users who can make themselves appear as upright leopards and live in the dark jungle. They value intelligence and stealth and are proof that Dark Is Not Evil.
  • October 22, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    In Usagi Yojimbo, Usagi's sensei is a lion. It also features cat-ninja.
  • October 22, 2009
    RhymeBeat
    Can we claim The World Ends With You is the Trope Namer? (Yes I know that Panthera is Latin for Big Fucking Cat but still...
  • October 22, 2009
    Griffinguy24
    So, should I launch, adding examples? This is my first YKTTW and I'm not entirely sure of the appropriate length of time...
  • October 22, 2009
    polymphus
    Excellent concept, but the name is horribly vague. I thought it was going to be about Pantera. Anyone got any better ideas?
  • October 22, 2009
    Amazingly Enough
    Panthera Rex? Or (although it has a connotation more specific to lions) King Of The Jungle?
  • October 23, 2009
    Giant Space Chinchilla
    what criteria does this trope have for choosing cats? would a Lynx count? is unusual size necessary? How important is deadliness the title Feline Fatale could fit most examples unless you wanted to include the Fishing Cat which i doubt has any human fatalities to it name
  • October 23, 2009
    KirkSkywalker
    I'd call it Badass Feline ?

    Subverted, naturally, in The Wizard Of Oz via The Cowardly Lion. Also subverted in Super Chicken, where Super Chicken has a silly lion side-kick. Later campy Tarzan movies showed lions as friends of Tarzan, rather than his enemies (such as those played by Gordon Scott).
  • October 23, 2009
    dotchan
    I think this might be partially covered by Mega Neko already.
  • October 23, 2009
    PlanPony
    I've definitely seen an episode of Lassie with a mountain lion in it.
  • October 23, 2009
    Madrugada
    Mega Neko is any large-sized cat, regardless of species. In general usage, "the big cats" as a type identifier ( rather than "a big cat" meaning any cat that is relatively large, as in "My neighbor's got a big cat -- it's got to weigh at least 17 pounds!") include the lion, tiger, panther, leopard and cheetah, and their sub-species (snow leopard and clouded leopard).

    Badass Feline is too broad of a name, since it will almost certainly be misused for any cat that people think is cool.

    Feline Fatale implies that only those which are used as killers will count.

    King Of The Jungle is too narrow; that generally only used to refer to lions.

    Panthera Rex, Panthera Awesome, or Panthera Cool seem to me to be the best choices -- Cheetahs are the only ones mentioned in this trope that aren't truly Panthera.

  • October 23, 2009
    STUART
    I see this title, and I read it as one thing.

    Pantera Awesome.

    And I think, "Yes, they certainly are."
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