Suppose for a moment that the Wuxi Finger Hold not only didn't kill Tai Lung, it purged him of his insanity and brought his rage down to manageable levels. Suppose Shifu was then determined to restore his son to his former heroic self, coming to him afterward and offering him a deal: submit to him, learn to control his anger and atone for his sins, and he will once again have a place at the Jade Palace. Tai Lung refuses initially, but then receives a little encouragement from Po, who believes in the snow leopard and offers him forgiveness and friendship to get back on the right path. And once he begins viewing his own Moral Event Horizon as a My God, What Have I Done? moment, Tai Lung resolves to begin the long path towards redemption from the Valley of Peace, thereby finding a meaning and purpose for his life.But then suppose, meanwhile, something else has been awakened in Chorh-Gom. Something far more terrifyingly evil than the snow leopard could ever hope to be, previously sealed away by Master Oogway himself, now freed by his death; something poised to cast its terrible shadow over the land, seeking to rule and control the lives of everyone in China through possessing and manipulating the chi of Tai Lung himself, corrupting him once more into a monster—and something that can only be destroyed by all of them, even Tai Lung, putting aside their differences and banding together to stop it.Welcome to A Different Lesson.A novel-length DoorstopperFix Fic that serves as a continuation as well as an Alternate Universe where things turned out a little differently than they did in the film, and one which at times does border on a little too much Purple Prose and Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness, the story nevertheless addresses many pertinent points raised but never resolved by Kung Fu Panda, or even ignored altogether, all in a very thoughtful, complex, and human way.The story is notable for not pulling any punches when it comes to the daunting prospect of actually redeeming Tai Lung. Even he doesn't believe it possible at first. But there are no accidents, and nothing is impossible if you only believe in yourself.At the same time, even as Tai Lung is given (or shown to already possess) Marty Stu abilities, he is never allowed to be a Draco in Leather Pants as he must deal with the consequences of his actions and can never be allowed to forget them. Despite a romance with Tigress (and in fact quite the Love Dodecahedron), the story is as much concerned with mystery, horror, action, and drama, especially the very realistic progression of a Heel Face Turn. And in the end, the story turns out to be as much about Po, Crane, and the Wu Sisters as it is Tai Lung.It's not for the faint of heart, and not just due to its length: there are plenty of killer, exhausting battle sequences, a great deal of darkness, and a surprising amount of blood and gore, betrayal, and death. But there's also a lot of great humor, profound wisdom, memorable new characters, a devotion to Showing Their Work and including lost material from The Art of Kung Fu Panda, and interesting backstories.It's well worth a look, if you have a lot of time on your hands. And for those of you who might be tired of hearing of nothing but Tai Lung, Po gets just about equal weight (no pun intended), as do most of the Five. The Secrets of the Furious Five is also referenced heavily, and Mei Ling eventually becomes a supporting character in her own right.In the wake of the fic's completion, the author has started two other stories that fill in certain details and expand the universe.WARNING: Beware of Spoilers ahead!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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 Hero Syndrome—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...
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 not 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 pinyin 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.
A God Am I: One of Heian Chao's main current motivations, which results in a great deal of fury when it is thwarted. Also, Xiu after Chao possesses her briefly to kill Zhuang.
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.
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 Messiah. 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.
Malignant Plot Tumor: What starts out as a story about Tai Lung redeeming himself, making friends, learning to lighten up, and being accepted turns into a battle to take out assassins, a serial killer, and a dark chi wizard threatening all of China.
Mama Bear: Xiulan, though misguidedly so when it comes to protecting Yi from Tai Lung.
A Man Is Not a Virgin: Subverted nicely. Not only is Tai Lung an almost forty-year-old virgin, since he never bothered with romance in his single-minded pursuit of the Dragon Scroll, but he loses his virginity just before the battle at Chorh-Gom...and still loses to Vachir. And after he and Tigress finally become a couple and start frequently sharing a bed, he is still only one member of a team that helps save the day. He does defeat the Big Bad, but only with the help of Po and Tigress—so the Power of Love and the Power of Friendship trump losing your virginity.
Masochism Tango: Tai Lung and Tigress, before, during and after they hook up, though they do mellow out plenty after hooking up.
May-December Romance: Tai Lung is almost twenty years older than Tigress (and Jia is about the same age difference from Po). Xiulan is also much older than Zhuang.
Meaningful Echo: "You didn't see anything." "Sure did, every last beautiful moment." Also, with original movie dialogue, "If that's the way you want it..." "That's the way it has to be!" Said by Xiu and Po, of all people. And Crane's "Don't mention it. Ever," spoken this time to Tai Lung and in a completely different manner.
An example where an entire passage of text is echoed—the very opening lines of the fic, where Shifu first visits Tai Lung in his cell, are echoed when he visits him again later after he's been arrested for murdering Shen Zhuang. Considering the second one is an example of whether the snow leopard has truly changed due to the offer made in the first, the parallel drawn is apt.
Wu Qing, the mother of the Wu Sisters, has a name which means "Pitiless", "Merciless" and "Ruthless", while Xu Mei, the mother of Mei Ling, means "Gentle" and "Beautiful". The contradiction between them could not be more obvious.
Mommy Issues (partially averted): While Wu Qing didn't beat her children, there was more than enough verbal abuse to justify turning out badly.
Mood Whiplash: Despite some pretty tough things happening overall, everything seems to look hopeful. Then chapter 24 comes by and things get grim. Also, deliberate contrasts between horror and humor are set up in chapters 17 (a fun slumber party scene segues almost immediately into a gruesome murder) and 33, while the trial is followed up by Tai Lung's opium Mushroom Samba. And it's all done so well you can't fault any of it.
Mundane Made Awesome: The scene where Shifu builds up what Tai Lung's first new lesson will be, only for it to turn out to be repairwork (and the "amazing" weapon being a hammer) definitely partakes of this trope. The fact it's a Motif for the fic and highly symbolic doesn't hurt.
My God, What Have I Done?: Tai Lung's Moral Event Horizon from the movie, rejecting his father's apology and love and almost killing him for the Dragon Scroll, becomes this to him once he's no longer controlled by rage and hatred. To an extent, the rampage itself also becomes this, but it's mostly that act of filial impiety. Another key moment of Character Development.
My Greatest Failure: Tai Lung speaks of this during the Truth or Dare. Shifu's parenting skills might also count, and Jia considers Wu Xuan's death to be this.
Necromancer: Chao. Some Fridge Brilliance may apply in precisely how he gained this ability, since when his Backstory is eventually told, it is revealed that he was once a great healer and, had he stayed on the side of good, could have been the best doctor in the empire. I.e., as a master of chi he could already manipulate Life Energy. May also tie into how he can perform a Summoning Ritual.
Never Live It Down (invoked in-story): Played straight at first, but eventually averted. Tai Lung eventually forgives Po for humiliating him, and Tai Lung himself is eventually forgiven for his rampage, but not until after a great deal of time, soul-searching, and grudge-bearing—for the longest time it seems as if the snow leopard will never get over his final battle with Po or acknowledge the panda had done anything worthwhile as a kung fu warrior, and thanks to how terrible his rampage was it seems as if everyone will only remember Tai Lung for that and not any of his heroic deeds which preceded it.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Initially, Chao's attempt to use the murder of Zhuang to turn the People Puppet villagers of the Valley against Tai Lung was a brilliant, if Anvilicious, scheme which took advantage of the snow leopard being viewed as a Civilian Villain who would Never Live It Down. But once the truth comes out who really killed him, and Shifu and Po succeed in freeing the villagers from his control, this same plot is what sways even die-hard haters like Xiulan to Tai Lung's side, and compels Tai Lung and Shifu to seek Chao out in his lair. Oops.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Happens twice to Tai Lung, once when his working to save Po's life after the Wu Sisters' attack leads to Tigress and Monkey accusing him of the panda's murder, and a far worse one when his deciding to turn back to help Xiulan instead of returning to the palace (and establishing an alibi) gets him locked up and put on trial for Zhuang's murder. Yet Tai Lung doesn't use this as an excuse to fall back on villainy—partly because there's plenty of other good things he does that don't result in bad karma for him, partly because he knows the bad karma is actually being enforced by Heian Chao, and partly because in the end his name is cleared. Zhuang could be said to suffer from this trope too, since his death comes about due to trying to convince his wife to lay off Tai Lung, and trying to save Ping's life, but since he still succeeds in clearing Tai Lung's name and his daughter will be well looked after it's debatable whether he views what happens as a punishment—certainly not one to justify refusing to do good deeds.
No One Could Survive That: Tai Lung says this about Vachir, when trying to convince himself he'd died during the escape. And of course, it turns out he was wrong. Also, Jia regarding Po's throat-slicing and Monkey regarding Mantis.
Not a Game: Po gets this lecture from Tigress after awakening from a bad injury.
Not Me This Time: Thanks to being Reformed, But Rejected, but believed to be a Civilian Villain, Tai Lung gets this several times—first being accused of nearly killing Po, then suspected of Vachir's killings around the Valley (something Xiulan is grudgingly forced to admit wasn't him), and finally put on trial for killing Zhuang. This last one, at least, is helped along not only by his former villainy but also by the authorities and innocent villagers being under Demonic PossessionMore than Mind Control at the time.
Nothing Can Stop Us Now: Inverted and averted—it's one of the heroes who says this regarding their chances in the final battle if they all work together, and despite some hairy moments and coming close to losing Shifu, the Heroes win.
Obfuscating Stupidity: What Mei Ling thinks must be responsible for how Jia, of all people, could have killed their father yet still act so ditzy and flighty. She's wrong of course, though Jia may use it somewhat to make people underestimate her.
Odd Friendship: Tai Lung and Po become friends, as well as Tai Lung and Yi.
An Offer You Can't Refuse: Repeatedly used on Tai Lung. Vachir does it with "Come to Chorh-Gom and face me or I'll keep killing people", Xiu does it with "Join my clan or I'll kill Po", and Chao himself does it with "Join me or I'll kill you and resurrect you so you join me anyway". Averted when Tai Lung refuses the last two.
Offstage Villainy: While the reader gets to see a number of awful things the Wu Sisters do, a great deal of their history as assassins is left undisclosed. Also, their mother, Wu Qing, is terrifying enough to twist Xiu around her little finger and disturb the battle-hardened Wu Xuan, but the reader never gets to see exactly what she was truly like or was guilty of.
Oh Crap: As might be expected, a number of these moments show up:
Tai Lung, when he first encounters the Wu Sisters.
Tai Lung again, when Monkey and Tigress discover him bent over Po's wounded body.
Omniscient Morality License: While "there are no accidents," yadda yadda and so on, Oogway admits that he was wrong about many things and he feels more than a bit guilty about how things played out. Still, he did say that he believed everything worked out for the best in the end, and that he knew it would.
One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Crane and Mei. She's trying to explain to him why she is seemingly pursuing Tai Lung and not letting him in on it, he believes she is confessing to loving Tai Lung in order to help him earn Tigress's acceptance.
Only The Leads Get a Happy Ending: Played with. While it is unequivocally true that Tai Lung, Tigress, and Po all get happy endings, so does Jia, who while arguably a lead by the end of the story started off as a Punch Clock Villain, as do Crane and Mei Ling. Additionally, Monkey gets to redeem himself after his stint with Demonic Possession, and even Chang and Xiulan, despite losing his son and eyesight and her husband, find healing and seem to have a brighter future ahead of them, due to Tai Lung's carpentry apprenticeship and becoming godfather to Yi, and their families becoming friends.
A more story-wide example of this trope is that thanks to Chao's More than Mind Control, the Genre Savvy reader (or character) is able to tell that this is going on whenever someone acts out-of-character. Prime examples would be the way Monkey acts toward Tai Lung (though no one but Mantis figures this out until it's too late), Fu Xiao's personality switch from humble and friendly to arrogant and hateful which Shifu remarks upon, and the progress of the Hate Plague during Chapter 27 (particularly the usually calm and collected Crane nearly losing it on Tai Lung).
Opponent Switch: Happens on Wu Dan, but subverted in that the switch doesn't instantly result in the heroes' victory (Tigress doesn't even beat Xiu in the end, it's Po, and it's Chun's original opponent, Viper, who takes her out). Also justified in the case of Po and Jia since she really doesn't wantto fight him, and with Po and Xiu since she was focused on her Arch-Enemy Tigress at the time and had discounted him.
People Puppets: Chao does this literally, both to the villagers and his former classmates.
The Perfectionist: Tai Lung, and definitely to his detriment since it led to an all-or-nothing mentality that contributed greatly to his rampage (if he cannot master the scrolls perfectly, he cannot become the Dragon Warrior, which then makes him nothing but a poor orphan and his kung fu is all meaningless).
Pet the Dog: Chun and especially Jia got a number of these regarding Po. Chun also reveals she isn't just the Emotionless Girl she appears when she notes in her thoughts that after discovering some of Vachir/Chao's victims around the Valley rim, she made sure to anonymously report them so they would get proper burials. Tai Lung himself had one when it was revealed he not only Wouldn't Hurt a Child but had a soft spot for them, and another when it's revealed he knows how to play the flute, and does so in honor of Oogway.
Poor Communication Kills: Crane and Mei again, though it is an example in which the lack of communication is actually in-character; it was established in Secrets of the Furious Five that Crane has confidence issues, and there also seemed to be a Ship Tease between him and Mei which he was, of course, completely oblivious to. It also doesn't help when a Hate Plague is making everyone suspicious and willing to jump to the wrong conclusions.
Power of Friendship: Tai Lung and Po to the max, though Tai Lung and Zhuang also count. And thanks to the nature of the villain's powers and plans, this is played unabashedly—and justifiably—straight. Just like...
Power of Love: Explicitly stated to offer protection to Tai Lung from Chao's dark chi. This also extends to Po and Tigress, possibly others. Ends up saving our heroes at numerous points, most notably at Chorh-Gom.
Power Trio: Tai Lung, Tigress, and Po become this by the end of the story. Which, if the surmise on the Fridge Brilliance page is correct, makes this highly appropriate in an archetypal, psychological sense. (Id, superego, ego.) It also acts as a form of Anatomy Of The Soul, since Tai Lung would clearly be Body, Po is Spirit, and Tigress (despite her temper and Action Girl nature) is a clever and intelligent fighter and therefore Mind.
Precision F-Strike: Po never curses. Never. And when he finally does say a single curse word (Bitch), can of whoop-ass doesn't begin to describe it. Also, when Tigress uses foul language on Tai Lung is when the story starts taking a very serious turn. Heian Chao gets the greatest example of this, however, when he lets loose a curse so foul it had to be written in Mandarin to avoid driving up the rating (it translates as, "Fuck your ancestors to the eighteenth generation").
Pure Energy: The Pool of Sacred Tears turns out to be this, as a gathering of holy chi. Which is thoroughly corrupted by Chao's touch into a terrifyingly demonic force that lets him make People Puppets of the whole Valley.
Tai Lung: Damn it all, is that all you ever think about? Why does everything have to be about sex...why does everyone have to jump to the worst possible conclusion? For your information, you witless little stick, that blasted shell on my back made it so no one could get to my arse, even if they wanted to! But that's not the point...the point is, there's a hell of a lot of things that can happen to you in a prison with a thousand men and no women, and they don't involve violation!
Reasonable Authority Figure/The Good Emperor: Emperor Chen, who not only pardons Tai Lung and Jia, but actually challenges the former to a friendly sparring match and compliments Po's cooking. He also trusts the word of Tigress in her letter and believes everything he is told about Chao without batting an eye.
Reason You Suck Speech: Xiu to Tigress in the birch forest. Chao gives a few as well. Po also gives one, of the "tired of your friend's action/attitude" type, to Tigress.
Reconstruction: The author takes a large number of super villain tropes which, by themselves, have either nearly become Dead Horse Tropes, are usually always subverted and played for laughs, or end up becoming Narm...and shows just why they were originally so effective and, quite often, scary.
Redemption Promotion: Tai Lung still loses in battle often enough to justify needing Po and the Five as his allies, and he has issues with controllinghis temper and (not coincidentally) his Fire chi, but in all other respects he remains as powerful, incredible, and Bad Ass a fighter as he was when a villain. The fact he isn't maddened or enraged all the time (and has gotten over his Freudian Excuse) also allows him to actually make use of those thousand scrolls he learned, and use them cleverly and effectively. The Fire chi and the Golden Spear also count as power-ups for him. Jia, when she changes sides, isn't demoted either, remaining as awesome and skilled in combat as ever, as well as helpingtake outXiu.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Sort of. Tai Lung is for certain a red...Po isn't an exact blue since he's hardly calm and logical, but he is less emotional than Tai Lung so he counts.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: Monkey, though it takes a long time for anybody to notice it. Later on, the villagers. Also, Chao himself.
Reformed, But Rejected: Tai Lung is practically the poster boy for this trope. Very, very few villagers are willing to give him a chance.
Replacement Goldfish: While this appeared to some degree in the movie as well, the implications of how Tigress was meant to replace Tai Lung in Shifu's eyes are explored more in-depth here, particularly when his return, Shifu's attempts to redeem him, and the subsequent reconciliation lead to her once more feeling pushed aside and forgotten, just as she had when Po was chosen as the Dragon Warrior. Leads to Calling the Old Man Out.
The Reveal: Quite a few, like Chao finally revealing his face, and Monkey revealing he was the possessed one in the middle of a very serious situation. Also, finding out who Chao actually was, who Po's parents were, who Tai Lung's were, Mei finding out who really killed her father...
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Tai Lung almost goes into one of these during the trial. Po sorta goes into one (though he's not homicidal) against the Wu Sisters later on, particularly Xiu. Tai Lung also almost did at Chorh-Gom, as well as in the final fight with Chao. A chronic problem on his part which Po, thankfully, is able to help restrain somewhat. And when pointed at the right person...
Also invoked by name when Shifu, after revealing his Chew Out Fakeout was a Secret Test of Character, claims this is what Mantis would have said he'd do upon discovering Tai Lung and Tigress together.
Rousing Speech: Tai Lung gives a hell of a one just before the Heroes go to the final battle.
Rousseau Was Right: Oogway fully believed in Tai Lung all along, and that if he could simply be freed of Chao's influence and learn from Po's example, the goodness and heroic nature he once possessed would reassert themselves, as they were who he truly was at heart.
Hobbes Was Right: Ironically, Po thinks this after learning about his highwayman father Bao, but despite his ability to be ruthless and fierce in battle, he finds his fears are unfounded and, instead of this being In the Blood, he too has an inner goodness and heroic nature.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: Mei Ling, since she is descended from the ruling clan of Kunlun Shan and is thus a noble. Also, Emperor Chen, who not only fought on the battlefield for years alongside his men, but who became personally involved in the case of Po's parents.
Rule Of Cool: A whole lot, natch. Let's just say it starts simple with Tai Lung being ambidextrous, and it escalates to things such as an army of ghostly warriors versus an army of demons, and manipulation of elemental forces. Almost the entirety of the Final Battle seems to run on this.
Sand in My Eyes: Tai Lung and Tigress both use this excuse at different points to conceal their vulnerable sides.
Satellite Character: Several, though not as many as in most fanfics. The two most obvious would be Zhuang and Xiulan, but although it is true their story mostly revolves around their reaction to Tai Lung and his possible redemption, they also have their own subplots relating to Tigress, Ping, and Chang (another Satellite Character). Also of note is that both Xiulan and Chang are that rare form of the trope, the one full of all-consuming rage, bitterness, vengefulness, and outright hatred.
Self-Parody: The action figures scene, which makes fun of both certain elements of Taigress fics and Tai Lung redemption fics as well as the author‘s own fic. An in-story example would be one only mentioned in passing: in the Truth or Dare, when asked to praise Po, Tai Lung adds in an extra of himself speaking of Po when he faced the Five on the bridge and hams it up for good measure.
Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: It's a good idea to keep a dictionary open in another tab while reading this. That said, the...uncommon words are used correctly, and in almost all cases are actually more of a precise fit than their everyday equivalents. In-story, this also applies to Chao's speech patterns because he's from an earlier time.
Shaming The Mob: Subverted. Shifu and Mei Ling each try this, but thanks to Chao's chi manipulation, no one listens to them.
Shout Out: Far too many to count, whether to movies, books, video games, or other fics.
One particularly interesting one is a sort of meta Continuity NodShout Out: the corruption of the Sacred Pool and its cleansing which bookend Tai Lung's arrest and trial are both mirrors of Disney's Fantasia—the corruption is an almost direct parallel to Chernabog's shadowy takeover of the town to resurrect the dead in Night on Bald Mountain, while the cleansing uses imagery quite similar to the Sprite's restoration of the land in the Firebird Suite.
Shown Their Work: The author did some serious and extensive research on ancient China.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: Some truly epic ones happen during the final battle, particularly the ones given by Mantis and Po. Tai Lung gets a pretty good one in his prison cell too.
Slap-Slap-Kiss: Aside from the overall progress of Tai Lung and Tigress's relationship, this actually happens literally during Tigress and Tai Lung's confrontation in the cave.
Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: In grand kung fu tradition (see Big Trouble in Little China), the fic begins with the comedy (and action) seen in the movie, then gradually introduces horror elements as the Big Bad and his lackeys become more prominent in the story. Mood Whiplash is also deliberately invoked a few times (the Truth or Dare immediately followed by the first murder victim being found, Shifu catching Tai Lung and Tigress in bed and Tai Lung fetching birth control bookending the corruption of the Sacred Pool by Heian Chao, the Mushroom Samba following the trial). But in the end, the comedy mostly acts as effective breather moments between the most terrifying horror scenes, and taking over again completely once the Big Bad is defeated. Overall it seems mostly balanced rather than one or the other dominant.
Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped (invoked in-story): While just about everyone gets to do this in the end, Shifu, Oogway, Po, and Tigress all especially have to beat it into Tai Lung's skull repeatedly that he is not the Dragon Warrior, was never meant to be, and why—but also that this doesn't doom him to be evil or mean his life and training are now meaningless. Also, when the time comes for Tai Lung to realize and accept that he and Po are meant to be brother warriors who fight as two halves of a team, their abilities and personalities reflecting the Yin and the Yang, this fact is ground in for him by Po's fur colors.
In addition, any number of times the point was repeatedly made (whether to Tai Lung, Shifu, Tigress, or the villagers) that while powerful and terrifying, Heian Chao's dark chi was always More than Mind Control—i.e., that he was only influencing flaws and negative character traits which were already there, to make people do what they secretly wanted to on some level. Which meant that even once Chao himself was gone, these traits and flaws still must be dealt with in the usual manner to prevent tragedy and suffering in the future—and that no one he influencedcould be excused of their actions because of him. He encouraged and manipulated them, but in the end most of their choices were still theirs.
So Proud of You: Occurs a number of times, though the most notable would be Po's letter from his biological father.
Spanner in the Works: Shen Zhuang. Not only does he rescue Tigress and prevent the Wu Sisters from killing Ping, but his rescue of the Weis deprives Chao of power at a crucial moment, allowing Vachir and Monkey to be defeated and freed, respectively. And all without him even knowing he was doing it...save for leaving a message behind to name his killer, which most certainly ruined Chao's plans.
Stay in the Kitchen (averted): Not only does Tai Lung (wisely) never expect this of Tigress, but when Crane and Mei Ling get together, he follows her on a kung fu adventure across the empire. (This is contrary to some of the men Mei has known in the past, who were threatened by her Action Girl status.) And Po, of course, is the one who will stay in the kitchen when he isn't being the Dragon Warrior.
Ning Guo: Really? Well, nothing to be ashamed of, sonny, happens to all of us at the worst of times, doesn't mean anything about your masculinity. I could give you my own special brew...a certain weed I mix with something fresh from yours truly... Ning Guo is a goat.
Storming the Castle: The good guys do this first in Chorh-Gom, and later down in the Vault of Heroes.
Tell Me About My Father: Both Tai Lung and Po get to say this. One is quite happy with what he learns, the other...isn't. And it's not who you think.
Tempting Fate: Monkey really should have listened to Po, and not mentioned the possibility of spirits taking him over the night of the Ghost Festival... Crane also skirts the edges of this trope when, right before Chao first leaves Chorh-Gom to implement his plans, the bird almost thinks to himself the old Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times".
That Man Is Dead: Chao to Shifu during the final battle. Three guesses which way he says the trope name.
Thirteen Is Unlucky: Despite the story taking place in ancient China, Chapter 13 is when the Wu Sisters are first introduced and the Big Bad's villainy is made clear. On the other hand, this same chapter also includes one of the most touching and heartwarming moments in the story between Po and Tai Lung, and Tai Lung having something of a Meet Cute with his past cub self to reassure him he still has goodness in him.
This Cannot Be!: Chao several times (especially his death scene). Also Xiu at Wu Dan.
This Is Reality: Spoken by Tai Lung to convince Po they are truly facing someone like Chao.
Title Drop: Technically the title is dropped right in the fic's opening blurb ("Can a father undo his past mistakes? Perhaps, if the snow leopard can be taught...A Different Lesson"), but it is properly referenced at least three times in the fic itself—the first time during the training on Wu Dan where it emphasizes what Tai Lung has to do differently and how he should view the world and his place in it if he wants to be a hero, the last time at the very end when he is reflecting back on everything he's gone through. The second time, in a sinister variation, is spoken by the Big Bad, implying what he will offer if Tai Lung joins him.
Took a Level in Badass: At a certain point, Tai Lung shows that when cool and collected, he could defeat Po, probably easily at that. But after some time, lessons and new tricks from both Shifu and Tai Lung, combined with Po's natural talent, and... well, let's just say you also don't want to see an angry panda.
True Companions: Tai Lung eventually learns to see everyone in the Jade Palace as this.
Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: Xiu epitomizes this trope. Aside from using Trash Talk and being a Manipulative Bitch, she is not above using dirty moves or outright cheating: after fighting Tigress and losing, she proceeds to call in her sister Chun to brain Tigress from behind with her meteor hammer, and during the final battle she manages to nearly incapacitate Tai Lung, despite having just been the victim of a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, by punching him right in an arrow wound he'd previously received in his side.
Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Subverted. Shifu tells Tigress and Tai Lung exactly what he intends to do to stop Vachir. Despite this, the plan itself works perfectly—Vachir just happens to survive it is all. Also, despite Chao telling the Wu Sisters his plan for Tai Lung and the Five, it comes very close to working with only Oogway's protection preventing it. However, it is later played straight when Chao tells Tai Lung what he intends for him to do as his servant, which of course never comes to pass.
Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Aside from the way this already applies to him in the movie, the scene where Tai Lung and the others discover the portrait of him as an adorable cub in Oogway's room is the Old Shame/Played for Laughs variation of this trope. Except that instead of Tai Lung bemoaning the ruining of his Villain Cred, he's attempting to head off Badass Decay. Despite the fact he remains a badass for the rest of the story, amusingly, no one seems to believe him when he calls his cub self a hellion...except Tigress.
Utopia Justifies the Means: Chao uses this as his reason (excuse!) for murdering his friends and a group of children. Later on he still has it, just that now he's an asshole to boot.
Villains Act, Heroes React: At first played straight, then later averted. When the Big Bad first appears in the story, all of the plot-driven elements come about due to him or his lackeys, with the Heroes either trying to stop him, put an end to his crimes, or protect Tai Lung, Po, and the people of the Valley. But after one too many schemes, before Chao can recover and launch an even worse attack, Shifu decides to be proactive, learn who and what and where he is, and go take him out—and after learning of him from the Wu Sisters, the rest of the Heroes decide the same thing.
Villain Ball: While Chao is usually not found carrying one of these, he does do so in at least one respect: inflaming Jia's lusts for Tai Lung so that she comes to care for him too much, while at the same time encouraging Monkey and/or Vachir to kill him. And he doesn't expect this to cause any difficulties with Jia. Not the smartest move. Confessing his great plan to Tai Lung in his cell also counts.
Villains Out Shopping (subverted): What seemed to be the Wu Sisters out for dinner at Ping's restaurant was actually them casing the joint to get info on Po.
Vitriolic Best Buds: Variation A. Tai Lung will not miss an opportunity to snark at, poke fun at, and sometimes even threaten Po with physical harm, and Po just takes it all, except if Tai Lung insults Mr. Ping and his soup or restaurant. On occasion Po does return the teasing and snark right back, but only in a gentle, lighthearted way, naturally.
Wham Chapter: Chapter 34. Nuff said. Chapter 30 also counts. The first one is the chapter where Zhuang is murdered, Ping is kidnapped and Po informed of it, and Shifu has his frightening premonition just before the Cliff Hanger of Tai Lung's arrest. The second starts with Zhuang discovering the blinded Chang and his wife being fed off of by Chao and warned about Vachir, then has the zombie Anvil of Heaven, the fight with Vachir, the revelation that Monkey was possessed (and Disney Death of Mantis), and the stabbing of Vachir that led to the explosion of dark chi and Tai Lung and Tigress falling into the abyss. Whew!
What Is Evil?: "Cease prattling about morality and ethics, you and I both know those are simply words we use as masks, facades to present to the world to keep the weak and misguided from interfering while we do our work."
Wicked Cultured: Until he loses his temper after the failure of his plans, Chao has this trope written all over him.
A Wizard Did It: Used quite literally to explain and justify such things as why Tai Lung conveniently forgets about Chao for a while, why the Five become increasingly argumentative, why Mei Ling doesn't tell Crane about her plan to make Tigress jealous, why Poor Communication Kills, why Tai Lung thinks it's a good idea to reconcile Tigress and Shifu in the middle of a Hate Plague, and so on.
The Worf Effect: As proof of what a serious threat the villains of the story are—Exhibit A: the Wu Sisters come this close to defeating Tai Lung during their first encounter, nearly kill Po, and do succeed in beating Tigress the first time they meet her; Exhibit B: Vachir gives an absolute No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to Tai Lung at Chorh-Gom and succeeds in holding Tigress hostage; and just before the Final Battle, during Heian Chao's series of Breaking Speeches to the kung fu warriors, we see from Tigress's POV just how powerful the shadow mage's chi is, since he comes quite close to breaking her. In the end, though, all of this merely allows for multiple examples of Heroic Second Wind as Xiu is eventually defeated by first Po, then Tai Lung, Vachir is dealt a fatal blow by Tigress, and not only is Chao killed, but his army of demons is taken out by the Five, led of course by Tigress.
Worth It: Tai Lung, after his toe-touching dare to Po.
Wouldn't Hurt A Child: Brutally averted by Chao. Tai Lung plays this straight after unintentionally averting it during his rampage. As a result it's also a Berserk Button for him if you suggest that he would, as Monkey discovers.
Wronski Feint: Crane pulls one of these on Heian Chao during the final battle, except with a wall instead of the floor.
Xanatos Gambit: Chao, being Dangerously Genre Savvy, tries pulling one of these off on Tai Lung at Chorh-Gom, figuring that he'll either kill Vachir out of rage and be open to being corrupted, or get killed and serve him as a zombie; either way he would win. Similarly, no matter which way Tai Lung resolved the Sadistic Choice which Chao had set up via the murder of Zhuang and the trial, he would gain the snow leopard's service and power, and win...except for Zhuang's Dying Clue which Crane found and brought as evidence, and Po cleansing the Sacred Pool along with Shifu's use of Oogway's staff to free the villagers of their People PuppetsDemonic Possession. The fact it took so many elements to bring down this second scheme shows just how well-plotted it was, and how closeit came to succeeding.
Yin Yang Bomb: The Wuxi Finger Hold turns out to be a variation of this, since depending on the intent of the user it can either be a force for destruction (as Shifu claimed it was in the movie) or salvation (as when Po used it to take away Tai Lung's rage and insanity, purifying his soul and thus giving him the chance to change and redeem himself). The two are mutually exclusive, since the latter application also repaired the damage to the village...though it did free Heian Chao from Oogway's prison. It's entirely possible the sequels will reveal this is actually the case, based on what Po did looking and acting nothing like what Shifu described...though if so, the second application will likely be a forced Ascent To A Higher Plane Of Existence instead.
You Are Better Than You Think You Are: A number of people, but most especially Po and Oogway, insist this is the case whenever Tai Lung is ready to disparage himself and believe he is only and always a villain...and in the end, they're right. This same appeal gets turned back on Po when he starts losing faith in himself thanks to what he learns about his family, and Mei Ling most definitely appeals to it in order to get Jia to finish her Heel Face Turn.
You Can't Fight Fate: Played with. Tai Lung eventually learns/remembers that he had saved a very young Tigress from the ruins of her quake-collapsed house, suggesting he and Tigress were always meant to be together and be there for each other, but Oogway later states that their romance is something Tai Lung did all on his own. So while there may be no accidents, the future is clearly not set in stone either.
You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good: While no one actually stated the trope name aloud, let alone directly to Chao, Oogway did observe (as did Shifu in his thoughts) that the chi master could have been the best healer in the empire, perhaps even the world, had he stayed on the path of good, and that it was a shame he did not, respectively.
You Did the Right Thing: After Chao reveals that the Wuxi Finger Hold is what freed him, Viper has to appeal to this trope to help snap Po out of it.
You Fight Like a Cow: Xiu uses this tactic a lot on Tai Lung and Tigress (Is That the Best You Can Do? comes up, unsurprisingly), though at times, especially when she is angry or on the verge of losing, this degenerates into Trash Talk. Tai Lung eventually turns it back on her, and to a point so does Po to Jia.
You Fool!: Pretty much the way Chao acts constantly during all his fights.
You Have to Believe Me: Shifu makes the mistake of invoking this during Tai Lung's trial. Jia uses it on Mei Ling regarding their father's murder with much more success.
You Have Failed Me (lampshaded and averted): Chun wonders why Chao is okay with them failing to kill Po at Yunxian, until Chao reveals he's surprisingly patient for an insane Big Bad. However, he later does consider pulling this, as does Xiu, although the latter borders on You Have Outlived Your Usefulness.
You Shall Not Pass: Mei Ling pulls this on the Wu Sisters when they come for Po, though she doesn‘t die in the process. And is of course quite badass while doing it.
You Watch Too Much X: Po's thought regarding Viper, when she decides to use the Truth or Dare game to help Tai Lung and Tigress hook up. A rare example where the genre in question is not that of the work it appears in. (In this case, that she was "reading too many romance novels".)
Zombie Apocalypse: What almost happens when Chao resurrects the Anvil of Heaven using his dark chi.