Franchise / Tarzan

First created by Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912, Tarzan has since swung through dozens of books, films and TV series, both straight and parodied. Tarzan is the quintessential jungle hero; white but at home in Darkest Africa. Often seen in a leopard Loin Cloth.

In the original books, Tarzan was the son of Lord Greystoke, raised by apes after being orphaned in Africa as a baby. After meeting Jane and learning the basics of human interaction, he left the jungle in search of his true love. They married and settled in England, where they had a son, but eventually grew tired of civilization and returned to the jungle.

Most of the films omit Tarzan's English sojourn and his status as Lord Greystoke. Instead, he has often been provided with a pet chimpanzee and an adopted son — the latter because the film Tarzan never formally married Jane, and thus was not allowed by the Hays office to actually have gotten her pregnant.

Tarzan's further adventures generally have one of two plots: either Tarzan discovers a Lost World, or he defends his African friends against European villains. Along the way, Tarzan and his family became immortal, if only in the literary sense.

The quote at the top of the page was a Beam Me Up, Scotty!, as Tarzan did not say it in any of the books, or even, exactly, in any movie - he just slapped his chest and said "Tarzan," then poked Jane and said "Jane." (In the books, Tarzan was very intelligent, and by the end of the series, spoke something like thirty languages.) However, in the 2013 animated movie the phrase finally does appear.

The earlier Tarzan novels are out of copyright in the US, but not in Europe, and The Other Wiki suggests he's also trademarked by the author's company. Altogether, that explains why The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen only refers to him as "Lord Greystoke".

The Jungle Princess is his Distaff Counterpart.
For details of the novels, see Literature.Tarzan.

Adaptations of the Tarzan books include:

Film - Live Action
  • Johnny Weissmuller starred in the best known film series, starting in 1932 with Tarzan the Ape Man, followed up by eleven sequels up to 1948.
    • Tarzan the Fearless (1933) was released as both a movie and a serial. It starred Buster Crabbe, making him the only actor to play Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers. Crabbe, like Weissmuller, was an Olympic gold medalist in swimming, and a rivalry between the two was publicized. (In truth they had been friends for years.)
  • Bo Derek and Richard Harris once starred in another film titled Tarzan The Ape Man in 1981, which was a more adult look at the Tarzan mythos, focusing mostly on Jane and featuring a large supply of Fanservice. The film was a flop since children could not see it, male audience members hoping to see a naked Bo Derek were disappointed to see what was mostly a romance film with Tarzan playing a supporting role, and female audience members were turned off by the more blatant scenes of nudity (if they were interested in seeing a "Tarzan film" to begin with). Derek reportedly firing most of the cast and crew before filming ended did not help matters, either.
  • The 1984 film Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes was an attempt at both a more naturalistic and slightly more faithful adaptation of Burroughs' work, including a depiction of Tarzan's returning to England. Notable that except in the film's subtitle, the name Tarzan is never used in any dialog.
  • The Legend of Tarzan is a 2016 film directed by David Yates with Alexander Skarsgård as the lead, Margot Robbie as Jane, Christoph Waltz as the bad guy and Samuel L. Jackson as a friend of the hero. It takes place years after Tarzan went back to civilization with Jane, as adventure calls them back to Africa.

Film - Animated
  • The Disney feature-length Tarzan cartoon was relatively free of gross instances of the studio's usual Disneyfication, although it did turn Jane from an American to a Brit among other things. It also had a villain named Clayton (note that Tarzan's real name in the book was John Clayton, not to be confused with this character who was Jane's fiancé, William Clayton, as well as Tarzan's cousin). The Disney Tarzan franchise also spawned an animated Spin-Off TV series (The Legend of Tarzan) and a stage musical (Tarzan the Musical).
  • Tarzan: A 3D animated film released in 2013, featuring Tarzan defending an ancient meteor crash site from the Corrupt Corporate Executive who killed his parents.

Live-Action TV
  • Several TV series. The best known in the United States is the 1966 series Tarzan, starring Ron Ely, which lasted for two seasons on NBC.
  • Tarzán was a French-Canadian-Mexican series that ran from 1991 to 1994, set in the present day and turning Jane into a French ecologist. With 75 half-hour episodes, it's actually the longest-running Tarzan TV series to date.
  • Tarzan: The Epic Adventures ran in syndication from 1996 to 1997, and drew more from Burroughs' books than most adaptations.
  • A 2003 revision on The WB had the title character (Travis Fimmel) meet Jane (Sarah Wayne Callies) in New York City. Broadcast 8 episodes.

Newspaper Comics
  • A daily newspaper strip from 1929 to 1972 and a Sunday paper strip from 1931 to 2000, both distributed by King Features Syndicate and featuring the work of a variety of writers and artists.


Western Animation

Various adaptations provide examples of: