After-Action Healing Drama: Mid-action variation—during the Final Battle, first Monkey, then Crane have to sit out the fighting in order to treat Shifu's injuries and save his life (though the latter is also hurt himself). Played fully straight after Chao is killed when finallyMantis takes over the medical duties.
After-Action Patch-Up: Tigress resetting Tai Lung's dislocated shoulder, then bandaging the knife wound in his side while on the ledge in Chorh-Gom. Could be considered a repayment for him treating her wounded head and ankle after her disastrous encounter with Xiu in the birch forest. There's also the even more serious example of Mantis and the local doctor working to save Po's life after his throat is slit.
Alas, Poor Villain: Vachir. A character with very little characterization in the film, and shown to be a nasty, vindictive bully to the point the audience could actually root for Tai Lung to defeat him and escape, is here shown to have depth and motivation for the things he's done, and the Demonic Possession he undergoes which forces him to commit heinous acts against his will truly makes his suffering and self-loathing meaningful and sympathetic. By the time Tigress fatally wounds him so that he is able to die as himself, he's changed to become a lot more likable, brave, and even noble in his own way. Seeing him apologize to Tai Lung for his Cold-Blooded Torture and get forgiven for it, as well as asking for and receiving a Mercy Kill, is one of the more moving and powerful scenes in the whole fic, as it truly becomes a painful case of What Could Have Been, once it's clear he and Tai Lung are Not So Different and could have been friends, if matters had turned out differently. Seeing him get another chance to live life better through reincarnation is even better.
All Girls Want Bad Boys: Lampshaded by Xiu, but averted, as Tigress's desire for Tai Lung has nothing to do with his status as a former villain—in fact this is actually (and naturally) one of the main points of contention making her resist any relationship with him.
All There in the Manual: Wonderfully averted—a great deal of lost places, cut characters, backstory, and other information which only made it into The Art of Kung Fu Panda has been incorporated into the story in many different ways.
Almost Kiss: Tai Lung and Tigress get one on the ledge in Chorh-Gom, interrupted by Crane.
Ambition Is Evil: Played with. Tai Lung is just as ambitious as he was in the film, but a key theme of the fic is that what matters is what the ambition is being directed towards. His efforts to redeem himself prove to be a very noble pursuit, and he is just as fiery in his pursuit of Tigress as he was with mastering the thousand scrolls, though he has to approach it much differently in order to succeed. Chao and Xiu form a direct contrast to this, since their goals are downright horrifying.
And I Must Scream: Averted with Chao, since his spirit is still free to wander even when his body isn't, but played straight with Xiu and Vachir.
Anti-Hero: Once he makes the decision to accept Shifu's offer and try to redeem himself, Tai Lung is, for most of the story, a Type III. By the end of the story he has in most respects shifted to a Type II.
Bait and Switch: A number of chapter openings are misleading, usually in a Double Entendre fashion. The way in which Shifu misleads Tau Lung as to what the nature of his new training will be (see Mundane Made Awesome) is also a hilarious version of this.
Break the Badass: Two examples. Wu Xiu, the coldest and most black-hearted of the Wu Sisters, was both shocked and disturbed by what was found in Monkey's Room Full of Crazy, thus showing the reader just how far the Demonic Possession had gone and what the heroes were in for when Chao made him betray them. See Even Evil Has Standards. Similarly, Tai Lung tried to impress on Shifu and the Five how bad it would be to face Vachir by stressing how heartless, horrible, and implacable the rhino was—in other words, implying that he was afraid of him, and wasn't sure even he could win against Vachir. When they actually get to Chorh-Gom, this fear bears fruit during the battle, especially when Tai Lung first sees the resurrected Anvil of Heaven behind him. If Tai Lung is scared, you know something major is about to go down.
Breaking Speech: Chao is fairly good at these, and manages to demoralize a few of his opponents long enough to gain an advantage over them. Sometimes, however, he only leaves himself open to a truly righteous Shut Up, Hannibal!.
Broken Pedestal: Po, regarding Bao. Also, in a way, Tai Lung regarding Shifu and Oogway.
Po's is nicely Foreshadowed in Chapter 17, when he decides to go fetch snacks for the Truth or Dare:
Po: Don't worry, I'll leave some money down in the kitchen for the innkeeper. I may be a lotta things, but I ain't no thief.
Bucket Booby-Trap: Tai Lung used one on a snooty Imperial official when he was a cub. It also, somehow, ended up being used on Shifu.
Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: Averted. Not only does Vachir not make this as his Last Request, but when Tai Lung chooses to bury him on his own, he doesn't even have to go very far at all—just within sight of both Chorh-Gom and the Mongolian steppes that had been the rhino's home.
But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Implied when Jia confronts Heian Chao about him apparently planning to have Monkey kill Tai Lung, whom she wanted as her lover. Her You Know What You Did leads to this gem: "Before he could observe, with absolute honesty, that he had done many reprehensible, vile things and could not be expected to recall them all..." Considering he's almost a thousand years old and has been committing atrocities almost all of that time, he very well might have forgotten some of them. It wouldn't bethe first timehe's forgotten something.
Call Back: We get one to Tai Lung's line of "What are you gonna do, sit on me?" from the first movie in chapter 22, when Tai Lung unexpectedly uses his nerve strike to paralyze Po's limbs (to teach him some lessons as well as a bit of revenge), causing the panda to fall on his back and Tai Lung to sit on his belly.
Tai Lung: So what now, big guy? Now I'm sitting on you.
Calling the Old Man Out: Tai Lung to Shifu for a good deal of the first quarter of the overall story. Also, Tigress to Shifu on the way to Chorh-Gom.
Central Theme/Driving Question: Is everyone capable, or worthy, of redemption? Can it be earned? Is it even possible to truly atone, and who decides when it is achieved? Which is more important: being forgiven by others or yourself? What does it mean to be a hero, and is it something that should never be sought out, or if so only for the right reasons?
Chew Toy: Poor Tai Lung gets this a lot, but this applies to Po and Jia as well.
Chick Magnet: Tai Lung becomes this after his attitude has gotten better, as he ends up having Tigress, Jia, Mei Ling and even Viper all attracted to him to varied extents.
Emperor Chen counts as one when he reveals that, despite his age, he still keeps himself in peak physical condition.
The Chosen One/The Unchosen One: It's made perfectly clear Tai Lung was not meant to be the Dragon Warrior. Meanwhile, because of Chao's evil, because it had to be done and there was no one else to do it, Tai Lung chose on his own (albeit at Oogway's request) to stop the Big Bad and thus made his own destiny. Of course once he did, it turned out he really was The Chosen One, just not the one he thought, because Oogway had chosen Tai Lung for this task long ago. Since Tai Lung always had the choice whether or not to accept, though, he had destiny and free will at the same time.
Cliff Hanger: A large number, though the ends of Chapter 15, 19, 30, 34, 41, and 43 stand out especially.
Coitus Ensues: Averted. Not only is romance one of the main points of the story so that sex would naturally appear at some point, and not only is it in-character for Tigress and Tai Lung to do it at the points that they do, it always has a purpose in the narrative. The first time is as a result of the Hate Plague (emotions are already running high, thus making the Belligerent Sexual Tension explode) and the resultant Relationship Upgrade is one of the things that helps them resist Chao's chi manipulation. The second time is after they've finally declared their love for each other...and it sets up for both Shifu discovering them in the actand Tai Lung having to go down to the village to get birth control which leaves him on the scene and with no alibi when Zhuang is murdered. Also, the first scene ends with a Sexy Discretion Shot while the second is only oblique and suggestive without being outright explicit; the clear point of the scene is not titillation but to show Character Development as it's clear Tai Lung is in love and not just wanting to get his rocks off. (Also, seeing Tigress in this moment counts as furthering her Defrosting Ice Queen arc.)
Cold-Blooded Torture: Revealed to have happened at Chorh-Gom by Vachir's hands, which was encouraged by Chao.
Combat Pragmatist: While he is honorable when fighting heroes (which seems applicable to some extent even in the movie), Tai Lung has no compunctions in throwing aside the rules when it comes to facing truly awful opponents like Xiu, Vachir, and Chao. He also tries to instill some of this in Po, with a fair degree of success but not enough to revoke Po's Incorruptible Pure Pureness status.
Come Alone: Vachir's admonition in his note (and Chun's to Po).
Contrived Coincidence: Not as many as some stories, but a few. Zeng happens to run into a possessed Vachir while coming to warn the Weis about the killer terrorizing the Valley, and he later is freed to return to the palace just in time to interrupt Mei Ling as she's about to finally spit it out to Crane. Above all, Zhuang deciding to check on the Weis, thus coming to free them and deprive Chao of a great deal of power right as the Heroes were facing Vachir and the traitor Monkey takes the cake for fortuitous timing. However, Mei Ling happening to appear in Yunxian in time to exonerate Tai Lung is due to the fact she had been following the Wu Sisters, and they in turn had come where Chao, with his astral projection, had told them the Heroes would be. And Zhuang continually being a Spanner in the Works whenever the Sisters were targeting Ping had the simple explanation of him being both a friend and hired laborer to the goose. Even his being in the birch forest was due to his line of work.
Cool Clear Water: Played with—as in the movie, the Pool of Sacred Tears is as beautiful, pristine, and pure as can be, but this is not a sign of contamination at all, instead one of holiness and harmony, and the fact it is revealed to be a font of Pure Energy (chi) means that in fact the pool has been magically purified to make it safe to drink. By the same token, when Chao's corruption turns it into Grimy Water, the pool's tainted and poisonous appearance, as well as all the death surrounding it, is justified both by Chao's powers and by the poison the Wu Sisters poured into it beforehand.
Cool Old Guy: Emperor Chen (and to a lesser extent, Ning Guo).
Cordon Bleugh Chef: When Po was healing after his and Tai Lung's first encounter with the Wu Sisters, Tai Lung takes it upon himself to cook all of Po's meals, and it is mentioned that he most certainly fits this trope. One of the vignettes after the main story has Tai Lung go though rigorous training to learn how to cook so he can help out at Ping's restaurant, where he finally ends up averting this trope in the end after a lot of hard work.
Tai Lung also lets everyone know that Shifu fits this trope as well, and it's also heavily hinted that Tigress is even worse.
Couldn't Find a Brush: Not only does Zhuang leave a Dying Clue written in his own blood on a piece of his shirt, but Vachir/Chao leaves several such messages on the bodies of his murder victims he leaves across China and around the Valley. The very first one is particularly memorable.
Crazy-Prepared: The group arm themselves before the final battle, including Mantis bringing the Urn of Whispering Warriors. Also applies to the Wu Sisters, as they take several weapons each, and are cross-trained, thus they can use any weapon the others are carrying. And Tai Lung himself, bringing the hammer along.
Lastly, not only does he ensure Tai Lung will be imprisoned, something which after 20 years of confinement is sure to unhinge him again, but he places the snow leopard in an unwinnable situation: die for a crime he didn't commit, or break free and rampage again to save himself, thus turning everyone against him for real. And it would have worked too, if not for both the Power of Friendship and the Power of Love. And because, in the end, Evil Cannot Comprehend Good.
Dark Is Not Evil: Tai Lung still has almost every single flaw he had in the movie, even by the time the story ends. Also, Yin isn't evil despite being the black half. The story in fact goes out of its way to point out the mistake the writers made in the movie, when Oogway said Tai Lung had too much darkness in his heart. Oogway here explains what the problem really was: Tai Lung was imbalanced. His Yang overpowered his Yin (even though Yang is technically the light side of the taijitu, it symbolizes aggression), which naturally left him open to becoming as psychotic as he did. The key is to let his Yin and Yang work together in harmony, which he masters by the end.
Darker and Edgier: Like you wouldn't believe. It does end on a genuinely happy note, though.
Darkest Hour: Chapters 33 through 37—Zhuang has been murdered, with Tai Lung arrested and put on trial for it, placed in a horrible Sadistic Choice and on the verge of going mad again, going on a second rampage, and joining the Big Bad due to the trauma of being imprisoned again and, he thinks, abandoned by everyone he cares about; thanks to the corruption of the Sacred Pool and People Puppets, neither Shifu nor Mei Ling can get through to the Kangaroo Court to exonerate him. Meanwhile, Ping has been kidnapped by the Wu Sisters so that Po, Viper, and Tigress have to go to Wu Dan to rescue him, thus keeping all of them away from the Valley (and Po's staying out of the coming battle is in fact the condition for him getting his father back), while Monkey is imprisoned for seemingly killing Mantis at Chorh-Gom. Comes close to being a Near Villain Victory. Also literal since Chao's dark chi actually overshadows and eclipses the Valley with black mist and stormclouds after he corrupts the Sacred Pool and after finally defeating him, the heroes emerge at dawn.
A Date with Rosie Palms: After the "Truth or Dare" game, where Tai Lung and Tigress share their first kiss, it's stated in the next chapter that when Tai Lung got back to his room, the experience had been so intense and blissful that he'd had to...take matters in paw.
Dead Serious: Zhuang's death was intended to demonstrate just how far Xiu and Chao were willing to go just to subjugate the Valley. The death of Chang's son would also count as this, seeing as it occurred chronologically earlier. But the aversion of Infant Immortality was meant more as a proof of how bad Chao was, while the death of Zhuang, seeing as he had more Character Development and readers had come to like him a great deal, was more of the sucker punch associated with this trope.
Deus ex Machina: On a number of occasions Oogway acts as this, most notably when he spares the life of Mantis. Justified, however, because such a thing is practically necessary when going up against the Diabolus Ex Machina that is Heian Chao. At times the plot can resemble these two masters playing Xanatos Speed Chess. It's pretty much a foregone conclusion who wins, but there's plenty of nail-biting suspense, hate-worthy developments, and Oh, Crap moments to make the reader wonder.
Distressed Damsel (averted): It's perfectly clear the ladies here can dish it out as good as the men can, even going to the point that while watching Tigress fighting during the final battle, Tai Lung vows he will do his best to never anger her. None of the ladies ever get captured or made helpless, and if so it isn't for long—Mei Ling gets locked in a cell but immediately picks the lock, and the one time Tigress ends up needing a rescue it's only after the Wu Sisters cheated and nearly killed her; even then Zhuang only chases them away to bring her back to the palace and she recovers just fine, fuming all the while. She certainly wasn't helpless at Chorh-Gom—Vachir didn't know what hit him.
Double Subversion: Near the end of the story, it seems like Master Shifu is dying, in a reference to the ending of the movie—except instead of everyone being clueless like Po, he really is dying. But then Mantis succeeds in patching up his injuries so he doesn't die after all—something even Shifu didn't expect, to his chagrin.
Dramatic Irony: Happens a great deal, but notable incidents include Chao helping Xiu kill Zhuang without knowing he was the Spanner in the Works, Chang's message about Vachir, Shifu thinking Mei Ling would be able to exonerate Tai Lung through identifying the snow leopard fur, everyone thinking Monkey was just being naturally belligerent to Tai Lung when he was actually suffering from Demonic Possession, and Zeng speaking to Vachir of the grisly slayings around the Valley. There's also Situational Irony, such as the fact the Wuxi Finger Hold that purged Tai Lung of his rage and insanity also freed Heian Chao.
Extending what was revealed in the movie, Shifu reveals why he did not stand up for Tai Lung against Oogway: because the Dragon Scroll was meant for a true hero, but the very reasons Tai Lung was seeking it (to make his father proud of him and be accepted despite being an orphan) would make it impossible for him to attain it—because a true hero is selfless and does things because they are right, not because they will get him something. So not only did Shifu instill in Tai Lung the very character flaws that made him unsuitable to receive the scroll, but it was Tai Lung's own desires for acceptance and love, and the fact that he desired and sought the scroll at all (a selfless person would never consciously try to obtain it), that proved he wasn't the Dragon Warrior; in fact Tigress, Shifu, any of the Five could never have been the Dragon Warrior, because they were all actively trying to earn the scroll. Worst of all, it was Tai Lung's own great love for Shifu, which drove him to do absolutely anything to make him proud of him, that led him to seek the scroll...but when denied it (and seemingly betrayed), he then ended up almost killing the one he loved.
Another example which bit the Big Bad in the ass: the very reason he chose Vachir to be his possessed pawn, the stubbornness and viciousness that would drive him to pursue Tai Lung in vengeance, also made the rhino fight and resist him every step of the way, particularly whenever Chao made him kill innocents. This in turn caused Chao to have to focus on Vachir instead of the Wu Sisters or Monkey. So a good case could be made that Chao would have won, or at least had a much better chance for doing so, if he hadn't chosen Vachir to possess. Or to put it another way, the heroes were saved by the rhino being such a stubborn Jerkass.
Dying Clue: Zhuang leaves one of these, in his own blood since he Couldn't Find a Brush. Unlike most examples, it was neither incomplete, unclear, nor lacking knowledge—simply hidden and misplaced for a while.
Earn Your Happy Ending: The whole point of the story; it's really the only way to justify giving a former villain whom many consider irredeemable everything he ever wanted (save the Dragon Scroll) without making him a Draco in Leather Pants at the same time. The characters in fact all get put through the wringer, but everything works out just fine in the end.
The Easy Way or the Hard Way: While this could describe overall the way Tigress treats Tai Lung and his path to redemption, she actually invokes the trope name during the raising of the Thread of Hope.
Elemental Baggage: Both Tai Lung and Po learn to summon their elements from within and the air itself, respectively. They can also use fire or water that's already nearby (the braziers, the Pool of Sacred Tears). Chao also uses Po's water to form it into ice.
Elemental Powers: The story builds off of Tai Lung's fiery rampage near the end of the film, claiming that high level Kung Fu masters can use their chi to manipulate elements. Shifu uses earth, Tai Lung is fire, and Po is water. Heian Chao can manipulate ice.
The End: The fic ends with the more sophisticated "Fin". This is less likely to let the readers know it was over and more likely as an artistic flourish to go with the story's epic nature.
Engineered Heroics: Tai Lung considers this early on as a way to convince Tigress and the villagers that he has changed or is willing to; luckily he realizes the dangers of this and opts out, proving that amazingly he never suffered from being a Heroism Addict —or if he did, he grew out of it after learning the Dragon Scroll would never be his (or give him what he wanted), so why bother trying to be the center of attention?
Epiphany Therapy: Averted for the most part. Tai Lung didn't get forgiven just like that, nor did he get over his hangups about Po or his temper right away. Po didn't get over what he learns about his dad, and so on. The only moment where the trope seems to be played straight is when Xiulan gets over her anger at Tai Lung...but that is still justified because she'd just experienced Chao's evil possession so now she knows there's someone worse who was actually responsible for her losses. An unusual literal usage of A Wizard Did It to justify this! Also, Chao's possession has a rather neat side-effect in that it gives his victims an up-close and personal view of their inner monster, and it's pretty damn hard to keep hating someone once you realize just how hateworthy you are.
Establishing Character Moment: All the original characters get one, but of particular note is Tai Lung first meeting Xiulan's eyes, as well as the conversation with Zhuang at the Ghost Festival. Heian Chao also gets points for creeping the hell out of everyone who's read the story, with some even calling him the best villain they'd ever seen...except theydidn'tsee him, since his first appearance did not even identify his name or species, let alone show his face. Talk about atmospherics.
Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Played with. Chao knows exactly what gives the Dragon Warrior his power, and is well aware of The Power of Love, but he tends to be so arrogant that he thinks his own power can overcome them. He's wrong. Xiu on the other hand plays it entirely straight. Chao does have one moment where he falls prey to this, however: after killing Chang's son while possessing Vachir and trying to blame Tai Lung by saying it was all part of a trap for him, he believes The Power of Hate and a desire for Revenge will make Chang turn on the snow leopard even more and help lead a lynch mob against him. Again, he's wrong.
Exact Eavesdropping: Played with. While a number of conversations get overheard, just about every one is justifiably important and relevant—Crane listening in on Shifu and Tigress discussing Tai Lung happens precisely because Crane knew they were going to talk about him and he considered the matter important enough to eavesdrop, and Jia, in turn, had a vested interest in listening in to any conversations between Tai Lung and Tigress. This, as well as Po's two accidental examples in Chapter 16 and Mantis's in Chapter 24, also occur because the plot-relevant information in question, the status of Tai Lung and Tigress's relationship, is something very likely to be discussed on a regular basis due to the snow leopard being such a Determinator about the matter (or because the eavesdropper was extremely interested in the topic). Po hearing Tai Lung and Tigress discuss her time at Bao Gu, of course, happens because they're actually standing in said orphanage, after Tigress tried to avoid giving away her connection to it. Aside from these conversations, no critical plot information (such as, say, the Big Bad's plans) is passed on through eavesdropping.
Exact Words: Chao gives Xiu exactly what she asked for, but neglected to mention the price, and when he ages Jia it's a reversal of what she asked for. Comes close to being a Jackass Genie.
Expy: The Wu Sisters start out as this of Ozai's Angels, with Xiu standing in for Azula, Chun as Mai, and Jia as Ty Lee. They aren't exact copies, but the author does have a fair amount of fun with this, and they drop a lot of familiar lines. They also end up growing and developing as characters in their own right.
Fakeout Escape: The Wu Sisters use this on Mei Ling near the end of the story, in the "hiding out of sight, knocks out/locks in the guard" version of the trope. However, despite the mountain cat falling for it, Xiu in turn underestimates Mei Ling, who happened to have her father's lockpicks with her, which the snow leopardess likely had never known existed.
Falling in Love Montage: Chapter 25, where Tai Lung is shown following the various romance advice given by Viper in the previous chapter to woo Tigress, particularly everything following the doll scene. A shorter, more understated version occurs in Chapter 32 when they are returning from Chorh-Gom and he is trying to cheer her up after Mantis's death.
Fanservice: In-story, both Viper and Jia don't waste any opportunity to ogle at muscular Tai Lung and later on, the Emperor, who is basically what you get if you cross a bodybuilder, a tiger, and Sean Connery, without the accent.
Fastball Special: Inverted when Tai Lung hurls Po at Heian Chao for a two-fisted strike, but played straight when Po later hurls Tai Lung to kick the Golden Spear through Chao.
Fatal Flaw: All over the place. Tai Lung and Tigress still have those bad tempers, and Shifu really, really needs parenting classes. Monkey's feelings for Tigress are exploited, as is Vachir's hatred of Tai Lung—exploiting fatal flaws is what Chao does. You could also say Chao has a fatal flaw in that he's weakagainst holy.
Fate Worse Than Death: Xiu somehow manages to survive everything thrown at her to the point of making Michael Myers look bad, but she ends up catatonic and yet, very possibly, conscious, jailed with her equally psychotic mother. The Weis also experienced one of these: left suspended from grappling hooks from the ceiling of their basement, slowly and agonizingly bleeding to death, the villain living off of and growing powerful from their fear, horror, and pain, while being forced to look at their dead son, until he finally allowed them to die. Luckily, they get freed from this.
Fight Off the Kryptonite: An unusual villainous example—Heian Chao succeeds in resisting the power of Oogway's holy chi, at least long enough to mortally injure Shifu.
The Final Temptation: While Chao doesn't use an actual vision, the moment when he comes to Tai Lung in his cell, offering him freedom from prison and the false charge against him, as well as what he's always dreamed of (heroism, fame, powers which no one else has) if he will only join him very much has the same flavor. And as more proof he has truly changed, Tai Lung, though tempted, kicks him to the curb. Also doubles as a What You Are in the Dark moment.
First Name Basis: For a good portion of the story, Tai Lung refuses to call Po by his given name to his face, either referring to him as "panda" or (after accepting the truth) "Dragon Warrior". However, after a critical moment when Po is on the verge of dying in front of him, the snow leopard finally calls him by name for the first time. From then on out, while he still uses his other terms of address, Po's first name is used by Tai Lung much more frequently and willingly. Key moment of Character Development.
Flashback: A number of these occur, the majority memories of Tai Lung's from when he was in Chorh-Gom, or other events from his past, though one is to Chun's past relating how the Wu Sisters knew Po's biological parents, another is a flashback to a conversation about that very past which happened offscreen, and another is a How We Got Here after the events in Yunxian start In Medias Res (which also includes another conversation about the past).
Flashback Nightmare: Tai Lung has a recurring one about the night he rampaged across the valley after being denied the Dragon Scroll.
This was the fellow who, despite only having become the Dragon Warrior a little over three months ago, knew every detail of every kung fu legend, battle, and warrior, even things Tai Lung himself had forgotten or never bothered to learn. If anyone exemplified the philosophy Oogway had always insisted lay at the core of kung fu, it was Po, he lived and breathed it every day.
And he in turn had taught Tai Lung more things than he could ever have expected—about compassion and love, generosity and good will, forgiveness and acceptance, but most of all what was truly important in life. Fine, Po's zany humor, odd slang, and laughably child-like way of looking at the world could truly grate on his nerves...but by the same token, his innocence was something refreshing, something that made the spotted feline wonder—no, demand—why the world couldn't be as simple as the Dragon Warrior saw it.
It had been Po's mercy and friendship that saved him, in more ways than one, he had learned to release so much baggage and stressful burdens thanks to the panda. And marveling at the determination and perseverance they both had in spades, he understood that Po's words to him in his cell over his father's noodles—words he had refused to accept then—were undeniably true: they did have so much in common. Without him even realizing it, Po had become like a brother to him. At times an annoying, ridiculous little brother, one he sometimes wanted to chuck out the window and whom he felt obligated to tease and belittle as only older brothers could do. But a brother all the same.
Foreshadowing: Aside from the various Chekhov's Guns littered throughout the story, this occurs a number of times, such as the implication of what would have happened if Zhuang had seen the Wu Sisters (and they him) during his rescue of Tigress (it isn't good), Monkey getting possessed right after Po warned him about wandering spirits the night of the Ghost Festival, and Tai Lung losing his dark chi thanks to the acupuncture session pointing ahead to what happens when Vachir gets stabbed. But the two best examples, one obvious and one not, would be:
Viper, regarding the Five: Still, I think if you give them enough time, and they get to know you better, things might change.
Tai Lung: Yes, and the Emperor will arrive on his palanquin tomorrow to pardon me in person. And when the New Year arrives, I'll suddenly have more good luck and prosperity than I can shake a stick at. Oh, and all the pigs in the Valley will sprout wings, too. (Guess he'd better start looking for someone to Cue the Flying Pigs.)
And this bit from Monkey's thoughts
No, the familial love and firm, unshakable trust between them was as dead and buried as Tai Lung's cubhood, or the thousand rhinos he had killed escaping Chorh-Gom. And, Monkey privately believed, as dead as the goodness and loyalty the snow leopard had once possessed. (Night of the Living Mooks, anyone? Also, none of those things stay dead and buried, since even Tai Lung gets to meet his past self in a sort of reverse Future Me Scares Me situation. Which is never mentioned again.)
A subtle example from Chapter 11: not only is the wind which nearly costs Tai Lung his life when it knocks him from the Thread of Hope an early attempt by Chao to kill him (note the direction it blows from), but its frigid nature is a hint at Chao's ability with ice chi.
Another subtle example: in Chapter 5, when Po is teasing Tai Lung about dousing him with cold water to help wash off the stink of twenty years in Chorh-Gom, Tai Lung seems to freak at the idea—not because of the cat stereotype of cats hating water, but because it is freezing. This becomes poignant and even rather upsetting in hindsight, instead of funny, however, when you discover what was done to Tai by Vachir while he was in prison...
Chao's offhand and dryly snarky reference in his very first scene to Tai Lung having needed only "a feather's urging" to escape from Chorh-Gom turns out to be foreshadowing of it having been his doing that Zeng's feather reached Tai Lung, since he guided it there with his dark chi.
For Your Own Good: This is the reason, it turns out, that Tai Lung was a Doorstop Baby—to give him to a family who would raise him as a good and noble warrior like his father, and who could actually take care of him (due to not having too many mouths to feed and enough money).
Four Is Death: In the Wu Sisters' introductory scene, Xiu is idly rolling dice on the table; one of the numbers which comes up is four. It may also be noted that the Sisters plus Vachir gives Chao four followers, and seemingly killing off Mantis may have been an attempt to invoke bad luck in the Final Battle, with there only being the Furious Four. And Xiu actually makes the hanzi for four on Wu Dan, when discussing how she loves killing and wants Chao's chi power so she can do even more. In a meta-aversion, however, Chapter 4 in which Tigress goes storming off to Tai Lung's cell does not in fact involve the leader of the Five gutting the snow leopard.
Frameup: Chao's last major gambit before the Final Battle—possessing Xiu and influencing Xiulan with his dark chi, so as to make it look to her that it is Tai Lung killing her husband. And it would have worked if not for Zhuang, Crane, Po, and Oogway.
Tai Lung: So he's a wizard, so sodding what? He's still mortal, he's still got a body, he can still be killed if we can just get my paws—I mean, our paws, on him!
Friendship Moment: Tai Lung and Po a whole lot. To give credit, although Tai Lung has Friendship Moments with Po since fairly early on, he ends up finally saying out loud that Po is his friend in chapter 22, and his coming to save Po from Chao during the final battle surely counts as such a moment. Po and Jia also get some of these, as do Tai Lung and some others, such as Zhuang.
Furry Denial: A number of times, whether aloud or in his thoughts, Tai Lung refers to himself as human, and a few other characters do as well. This may, however, be due to the notion that in the Kung Fu Panda 'verse, anthropomorphic animals take the place of humans.
Furry Reminder: On the other hand, the fact the characters are animals is actually lampshaded a few times. Aside from the Carnivore Confusion/Just Eat Him moment mentioned above, Mei Ling's ability to identify others by scent is a plot-critical element twice, once when exonerating Tai Lung of nearly killing Po, and once when trying (but failing) to prove to the Kangaroo Court he didn't kill Zhuang. Viper's cold-bloodedness and the Black Widow tendencies of female mantises are also referenced.
Get a Room!: Vachir's response (natch) to Tai Lung and Tigress's sexual bantering.
"Get out of Jail Free" Card: Mostly averted—aside from being held prisoner until he agrees to try and atone, Tai Lung is also always haunted by what he did and so could be said to never truly be free. Neither he nor anyone influenced by Chao is allowed to be excused of their actions, either, since it was only More Than Mind Control.
Grandpa What Massive Hotness You Have: Despite being as old, if not older than Shifu, Emperor Chen is basically an anthropomorphic version of Sean Connery built like a professional bodybuilder.
Gray and Grey Morality: It becomes very difficult for the Heroes to face Vachir when it's pointed out that he is technically one of the good guys simply trying to punish Tai Lung. The fact the snow leopard still did a lot of horrible things during the rampage, he knows it, and on some level believes he deserves to be punished for it, only muddies the waters even more. A very realistic way of showing answers in life aren't always easy, and pretty much unavoidable when The Atoner has to deal with an Inspector Javert who is, on some level, right.
Groin Attack: A number of these were used on Vachir at Chorh-Gom. Xiu also pulls one on Tai Lung during the final battle, and on Po at Wu Dan.
Hall of Mirrors: During the final battle, Tigress and Chun fight amidst crystals that act like this. And Chun proves her intelligence by refusing to make the navigational mistakes most fictional characters do.
Hammy Herald: Po does this for Tai Lung during the time the latter is deciding whether or not to accept Shifu's offer, presumably to remind people of the good things he had done. However, hearing "Make way for the Master of the Thousand Scrolls!" instead makes it so, in the words of Crane of all people, the panda would be "hogtied, slashed with the Thousand Cuts of Death, and left beneath dripping water for days on end; it was just a matter of who got to him first."
Hand Behind Head: Once he's gone through Character Development (mostly of the falling-in-love sort, but also learning to be humble and to care about others besides himself), Tai Lung does this a great deal, particularly around Tigress.
Hangover Sensitivity: Monkey the morning after the Ghost Festival: wishing "Mantis didn't walk so loudly through the bunkhouse" and then later begging for a spare hat from Crane to shade his eyes.
Hidden Depths: Jia isn't just the silly girl she seems on the surface. Also Viper isn't always the civilized girl she appears to be. She can be pretty wicked too. Is demonstrated at the end of her fight with Chun at Wu Dan. Viper's words and actions do surprise Po and even her girlfriend Tigress to such an extent that they agree to tell no one else anything about what happened.
Hope Spot: Occurs at various points throughout the story, particularly during battles, but two clear ones occur at Chorh-Gom. First, when Tigress and Tai Lung have sent Vachir flying down a bridge to slam into a wall and the two cats congratulate themselves (Tai Lung even starts Tempting Fate and thinking they were going to win), only for Vachir to pull free of the wall and reveal he wasn't even injured. Second, a short time later: after horribly beating and injuring Vachir in a near (and quite deserved) Roaring Rampage of Revenge, it seems Tai Lung will win...only for Chao's dark chi to heal everything the snow leopard did to him. Oh, Crap would describe Tai Lung's reaction nicely.
Hot-Blooded: Despite going through a Heel-Face Turn, Tai Lung just seems unable to rid himself of this trope, although he does get better by the end. Tigress also counts, although in one aversion of this (and contrary to her first battle with Xiu which shows she learned her lesson), her encounter with Chun during the Final Battle is a sword fight that is described as calm, clever, and coolly calculated—which is a big part of why she wins it.
How Do I Shot Web?: Tai Lung couldn't master fire chi right away. Even aside from his initial difficulties at Wu Dan, he was also constantly struggling to control it (and his temper) during his fight with Vachir and at several other points thereafter; it isn't until the final battle, with assistance from Po, that he learns to do so. However, Po's learning of water chi also took some time, seeing as it required him to learn to give in to and express his emotions rather than be the polite and proper waiter Ping raised him to be. And even with the instruction of Tai Lung, Mei Ling, Crane, and later Tigress, it also still took him a month and a half to more skillfully and masterfully learn more advanced kung fu.
How Much Did You Hear?: Chang, when Shifu reveals he'd been standing in the palace doorway listening to him confront Tai Lung.
Hypocritical Humor: The Wu Sisters tease Tai Lung about him being old enough to be their grandfather...when in fact they aren't much younger than he is, having been in their late teens or early twenties when Crane and Mei Ling were in school twenty years ago. The teasing, of course, is merely meant to annoy and anger the snow leopard who is sensitive about his age.
For answer, Jia leaped toward him without warning. The panda only had time for a brief flail as he caught her in both arms, and then as she planted a forceful, fervent kiss on his muzzle he fell back, wind milling, right into the river shallows.
I Have Your Wife (or in this case, father): Variation. Instead of kidnapping Ping to force Po to do something nasty, the villain's plan is to enforce inaction, namely keeping the Dragon Warrior out of the Final Battle so that Tai Lung and the others will be doomed to failure. Between Po immediately breaking the rules by informing Tigress and Viper, and his choice to come to the rescue instead of sitting on his hands, things don't work out as Chao had hoped.
A less prominent example also occurs on Wu Dan, when Viper refrains from killing Chun, as that would "make her no better than the Wu Sisters."
Ignoring By Singing: Tai Lung does this in Oogway's room, as a form of Brain Bleach when they discover Oogway's love letters. He comes close to doing so again at the very end of the story, when the turtle's ghost makes reference to his thoughts on Tigress were he younger (and alive).
Implacable Man: Possessed Vachir. Not only did he continue to approach the Valley inexorably in his pursuit of Tai Lung and twisted murder spree, but during the battle at Chorh-Gom he refused to die, give up, or back down—surviving any and all injuries dealt to him thanks to the healing provided by Chao's dark chi and getting back up after countless attacks which should have killed him or knocked him unconscious.
Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Po and Viper seem pretty much immune to Chao's corruption. On the other hand, Jia is normally a very sweet and kind woman, but Xiu corrupted her into becoming an assassin out of fear and blackmail, so she averted the trope.
Informed Ability: While Mei Ling's word (and her own inherited abilities) are fairly good testimonials, it's sadly the case that the reader never gets to see her father Wu Xuan's great warrior prowess.
In the Blood: Tai Lung, Mei Ling, the Wu Sisters, and to an extent, Po. Tai Lung is afraid his darkness is in the blood, but it turns out it's his fighting ability. Interestingly the same is also true of Po. Jia and Chun are convinced being assassins is in their blood and will always make them evil and distrusted, while Mei has in fact inherited her father's fighting prowess.
Tigress and Tai Lung also count, but at least they're compatible enough to have cubs.
In Vino Veritas: Played with. Getting drunk at the Ghost Festival doesn't really bring out of Monkey anything the reader hadn't already seen, since other than a few caustic remarks he mostly keeps his resentful thoughts about Tai Lung to himself, nor does it change his personality in any way. However it does lead to the Alcohol-Induced Idiocy of wandering around alone on the night when the dead are said to walk and want the bodies of the living and lowers his inhibitions enough to make Demonic Possession easier...which could be said to have brought on a permanent distillation, inversion, and exaggeration of his feelings.
It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Implied, and averted in Tigress being a badass who can take care of herself just fine, and Tai Lung knows it. This also plays into why Tai Lung tries to leave the Five and Shifu behind when he goes to Chorh-Gom to face Vachir; naturally, they all shoot him down with the rejoinder that they can take care of themselves too—and that rather than being in danger from being near him, they can actually protect his back. (Of course, since one of them almost dies, perhaps they should have listened to him after all.)
It's Personal: Mei Ling wanting to get vengeance for her dad, Tai Lung wanting to get vengeance for his dad, Tigress and Po both wanting revenge for Zhuang and for the sisters trouncing them...
It's Quiet... Too Quiet: Employed by Tai Lung in the “where did all the birds go” sense when the Wu Sisters first show up, but actually stated in Mei Ling's thoughts when she's about to discover Po and Jia in Monkey's Room Full of Crazy.
Is That What He Told You?: Invoked but subverted, since Xiu doesn't know anything about Tai Lung's parents and neither does Shifu. Another instance of it is later played straight—except it is a hero using it, when Mei Ling convinces Jia to not believe Xiu's lies about her always being a worthless, evil assassin and so complete her Heel-Face Turn.
Juggle Fu: Tigress performs this several times during the final battle with the Ninja Weapons.
Just Between You and Me: Though not his entire plot, Chao does explain a great deal of what he plans to Tai Lung in his cell. Somewhat justified in that Chao is trying to earn Tai Lung's respect, prove to him how cleverly diabolical he is, so that the snow leopard will join him, and that a great deal of the revelations are couched as threats to ensure compliance. But since Tai Lung is merely stalling for time and fishing for information...
Kangaroo Court: A much darker use of this trope than usual, thanks in part to Chao possessing the villagers, with authentic Chinese legal practices to boot.
Keystone Army: Played with. Shifu guesses that the undead Anvil of Heaven is under the possessed Vachir's control and can only be defeated if he is killed, but dealing him a fatal injury he can't heal doesn't immediately cause them to collapse, only mill about a bit in confusion. However, this deathblow does break him free of possession, and the departure of the dark chi within him does in fact induce instant rotting/dissolving in the zombies as they lose the power that was animating them along with it. Whether this was the case for the yaoguai is unknown, since they get banished back to the underworld and the gate which let them cross over is sealed before their summoner Chao dies.
Ki Attacks: Elemental ki attacks, to be more precise.
Knew It All Along: At the very end of the story, after Tai Lung learns about his birth family from Wu Xuan's ghost, Mantis claims he knew all the time that the color of Tai Lung's pants and baby bunting meant he had an Imperial guard for a father. The narrative then snarkily notes "which he had somehow completely failed to mention before this."
Knight Templar: Chao before he fell to darkness, and most definitely Vachir.
The Lancer: Played with, as at different times, both Tai Lung and Po fit this trope. Tai Lung is Po's former enemy, The Stoic to the panda's naïve innocence (some would call it idiocy), is perceived as a Handsome Lech (and often plays up the image) while Po is definitely chaste, and is both an Ineffectual Loner and Anti-Hero to Po's All-Loving Hero. But...he is also the much-better leader. Not to mention that through training with Tai Lung, Po becomes a lot more badass, their Elemental Powers are the opposite you'd expect for The Hero and The Lancer (though not for their personalities), and over time Po gradually becomes more willing to enter moral gray areas or pull dirty tricks on his enemies. In the end, they both end up supporting each other as much as being the leader. And Tai Lung also gets to literally be a lancer in the final battle.
Mantis indulges in a bit of this too at the start of Chapter 24, when he notes that the Bait and SwitchDouble Entendre opening would "sound really bad to anybody who didn't know what you were talking about."
Lie to the Beholder: Chao's Glamour makes Xiu appear to Xiulan as Tai Lung when killing Zhuang. It isn't clear if the other Wu Sisters also saw it, but it's implied Zhuang did before seeing through it, which suggests it was intended solely to be viewed by the villagers as part of the Frameup, not a general illusion.
Lighthearted Rematch: The training in the kwoon which Tai Lung and Po undergo after the snow leopard's acupuncture session definitely feels like this, at least until Po says the wrong thing and makes Tai Lung lose his temper again. The dumpling fight on Wu Dan would be this trope played entirely (and heartwarmingly) straight, twice over, since it's a rematch for every combination of Tai Lung, Po, and Shifu as pairs, as would the nighttime training of Tai Lung and Po in Chapter 22. Emperor Chen's challenge near the end of the story has shades of this too, suggesting he and Tai Lung might have sparred more seriously once, long ago.
Light Is Not Good: "Shadows can surround us, ensnare us, make us lose our path. But when the light is brightest around us, we are just as blind." A case could also be made that, despite being stronger in the calm, cool, calculated Yin that is the dark half of the taijitu, Heian Chao also exemplified this trope, ironically, before he gained his shadow powers—because he was so convinced of his own wisdom and superiority, so steeped in the good side of Life Energy, that he believed he knew better than everyone else and had to be given all power so as to control and manage their lives, and it was this belief and pride which led him to evil.
Love Dodecahedron: Tai Lung falls in love with Tigress, Monkey is also in love with Tigress, Crane is in love with Mei Ling, Mei Ling thinks Tai Lung is hot but loves Crane who in turn thinks Mei Ling loves Tai Lung, and Jia also wants Tai Lung. Phew! Oh, and there are shades of Jia and Po getting together.