And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk, the Law runneth forward and back —
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack."
- The Mowgli Arc: The stories and poems covering the life and adventures of Mowgli. In the first Jungle Book alone, these make up the first six of the fourteen tales (three stories and three poems), whilst the second Jungle Book adds five more stories. A third fan-written Jungle Book is devoted entirely to more of these stories.
- Mowgli's Brothers: Also known as Night-Song in the Jungle, this is the story of how Mowgli comes to be raised as part of the Seeonee wolf pack in India, becoming a student of Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther.
- Hunting Song of the Seeonee Pack: A poem representing the viewpoint of the wolf pack that raised Mowgli.
- Kaa's Hunting: A young Mowgli is abducted by the scatterbrained monkeys, the Bandar-log, and Baloo and Bagheera must recruit Kaa the giant rock python to help them rescue the man-cub.
- Road Song of the Bandar-log: A poem representing the made-up gleeful song that the Bandar-log sing as they caper through the jungle.
- Tiger! Tiger!: Having finally grown up and left the jungle for the company of his own kind, Mowgli struggles to be accepted in such an alien environment, even as Shere Khan continues to seek his death. Finally, Mowgli leaves the village and returns to the jungle, slaying Shere Khan and returning to the pack.
- Mowgli's Song: A poem representing Mowgli's triumphant song upon returning to the wolf pack with Shere Khan's hide.
- How Fear Came: Set before Tiger! Tiger! this story details Mowgli meeting Hathi the elephant during a water truce in a drought, during which Hathi tells him the story of how tigers became.
- The Law of the Jungle: A poem covering some of the oft-mentioned law of the jungle, featured so often in the Mowgli stories.
- Letting in the Jungle: Mowgli hears that his adoptive parents from the village he tried to settle in are being threatened with death because of his "being an evil sorcerer", and so he leads his animal allies to raid the village and drive the inhabitants away.
- Mowgli's Song Against People: A poem covering Mowgli's declaration of war against the village that so persecuted him and his human family.
- The King's Ankus: Mowgli discovers a long-lost treasure hoard and learns of how men will kill for gold.
- Red Dog: The jungle is invaded by a huge pack of the red-furred dholes of India, and Mowgli rallies the animals to kill the invaders.
- The Spring Running: Mowgli, driven by urges he can't control or understand, finds the village where his adoptive mother has resettled, and considers trying to rejoin human society again. Finally, he makes his choice and departs the jungle.
- The Outsong: A poem describing the song Mowgli kept hearing during The Spring Running.
- Chil's Song: A poem about Chil, the carrion-eating kite.
- The White Seal: A Heroic Albino Northern fur seal named Kotick despairs over how his people are slaughtered by humans, and eventually leads them to a secret island where they can be safe from hunters.
- Lukannon: A poem representing the anthem song that the seals of St. Paul's beaches sing when they return to their beaches for the summer.
- Rikki-Tikki-Tavi: A mongoose washed out of his burrow and half-drowned by a torrential rainstorm is rescued by a British family living in an Indian bungalow. In gratitude, he protects them against the resident snakes, predominantly a mated pair of cobras named Nag and Nagaina.
- Darzee's Chaunt: A poem that represents the song Darzee the tailor bird began fashioning in honor of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi for his killing of Nag and Nagaina.
- Toomai of the Elephants: A young elephant handler manages to spy upon the long-fabled Dance of the Elephants, something that he has been told will ensure he will become a great elephant handler.
- Shiv and the Grasshopper: A poem that represents the nursery song sung to Toomai's little brother by their mother.
- Her Majesty's Servants/Servants of the Queen: A British soldier manages to eavesdrop on conversations between the animals of his camp the night before a big military parade.
- Parade Song of the Camp Animals: A poem parodying several well-known military songs/poems.
- The Miracle of Purun Bhagat: A formerly influential Indian politican becomes an ascetic holy man, befriends animals, and with their help saves a village from a landslide.
- A Song of Kabir: A poem about a man who becomes a baigiri.
- The Undertakers: The three most unpleasant denizens of the river — a crocodile, a stork and a jackal — spend an afternoon quarreling before some Englishmen arrive to slay the crocodile for being a man-eater.
- A Ripple Song: A short poem about how death lies beneath the rippling waters of an Indian river.
- The Song of the Little Hunter: A short poem about how fear stalks the Indian jungles and those who live there.
- Quiquern: Two Inuit teenagers, one boy and one girl, set out into the wilderness from a village dying of starvation, following what they hope is the titular spirit to find food — unbeknownst that "Quiquern" is nothing more than two escaped dogs still tied together, so they appear as a single two-headed two-tailed eight-legged beast.
- Angutivaun Taina: A poem translating the Inuit "song of the returning hunter".
The Mowgli stories provide examples of:
- The Ace: Bagheera, and to an extent Mowgli himself.
- Arch-Enemy: Shere Khan. He's been trying to kill Mowgli since he was a baby. Eventually the feeling is mutual and Mowgli vows to kill Shere Khan.
- Artifact of Attraction: The eponymous object in "The King's Ankus", a jewel-studded ivory artifact that Mowgli finds in a lost treasure chamber and then carelessly discards. He soon discovers that the Ankus causes men to kill each other for greed, and wonders why he alone is immune.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: The Bandar-log constantly talk about taking over the jungle, but can never focus on this goal long enough to do anything.
- Ax-Crazy: Tabaqui.
- Badass: Almost every main character.
- Badass Boast: When the aging Akela tries to save Mowgli's life, he says he will not fight back during the Klingon Promotion: "This will save the pack at least three lives".
- Badass Creed: For predators:Now Chil the Kite brings home the night,
That Mang the Bat sets free.
The herds are shut in byre and hut,
For loosed til dawn are we.
This is the hour of pride and power,
Of talon and tush and claw.
Now hear the call, good hunting all,
That keep the Jungle Law.
- Bears Are Bad News: Averted with Baloo.
- Berserk Button: Do not. Harm. Mowgli's. Mother. He will not kill you. He will systematically ruin your village, and send you scurrying for your life.
- Big Bad: Shere Khan the tiger.
- Big Brother Mentor: Bagheera and Baloo, especially the former. Occasionally, Kaa and Brother Wolf.
- Bittersweet Ending: In the first book, Mowgli kills Shere Khan, but after refusing to hand over his hide to a hunter, the latter convinces the village that Mowgli is a shape-shifting sorcerer, leading to the village driving Mowgli out. Mowgli is offered to rejoin the wolf pack, but refuses as they had forced him out before and decides to hunt alone, joined only by his four wolf "brothers", but it ends with a mention of him eventually getting married.
- In the second book seventeen-year-old Mowgli becomes restless for reasons he does not understand. Later he rediscovers his adopted mother Messua, now widowed and raising her infant son alone. After much soul-searching Mowgli decides he can no longer live with his animal friends and they watch sadly as he returns to Messua and human society.
- Butt Monkey: Tabaqui in many depictions tends to see his friendship with Shere Khan as something of "street cred". Since Shere Khan himself is often the butt of jokes from other animals (including his own mother), it's needless to say it doesn't quite work that way. It's also implied that he's rabid, since the book is careful to mention how prone jackals are to catching that disease.
- Casual Danger Dialog: When the villagers are turning against Mowgli, it's the wolf Akela who first recognises how much trouble Mowgli is in.The old Tower musket went off with a bang, and a young buffalo bellowed in pain.
"More sorcery!" shouted the villagers. "He can turn bullets. Buldeo, that was thy buffalo."
"Now what is this?" said Mowgli, bewildered, as the stones flew thicker.
"They are not unlike the Pack, these brothers of thine," said Akela, sitting down composedly. "It is in my head that, if bullets mean anything, they would cast thee out."
- Cats Are Mean: Zigzagged. Shere Khan the man-eating tiger is the main villain, but Bagheera the black panther is a wise and trustworthy friend.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Mowgli. In fact, he's pretty unimpressed by clothing in general.
- Dragon Hoard: It may be no mere coincidence that the lost treasure chamber of "The King's Ankus" is guarded by a very old and unusually large cobra.
- The Dreaded
- One of the things Disney's adaptations conveniently left out is the fact that Bagheera is one of the most feared (and respected) creatures in the entire jungle.
- The giant rock python Kaa (who is first an ally and later a friend of Mowgli's) is feared by many, but absolutely terrifies the monkeys. When they outnumber their enemies a hundred to one, they'll fight Baloo or Bagheera, but they will not fight Kaa - at any odds.
- Eloquent In My Native Tongue: In the prototype Mowgli story, "In the Rukh", when the German Muller is speaking English, his accent is rendered atrociously, but when he's speaking to Mowgli (presumably in Hindi) it's translated in the same archaic and poetic English Kipling uses to render most non-English languages.
- Everything's Worse with Bees: Used as a battle tactic against the dholes in the story "Red Dog."
- Exact Eavesdropping: Mowgli overhears that his adoptive human parents are to be executed, and immediately sets about saving them.
- Fantastic Caste System: Each species acts a little like an Indian caste and has parts of the law of the Jungle designed specifically for it.
- Later subverted when Mowgli lives with the humans and helps out the potter, as he didn't know the potter was an untouchable.
- Full-Frontal Assault: Just about any time Mowgli attacks, since he generally doesn't wear clothes at all.
- Godzilla Threshold: When Mowgli is kidnapped by The Bandar-log, Baloo and Bagheera are very apprehensive and reluctant about calling Kaa for aid, and afterwards Baloo swears to never do that again. Because they nearly get eaten by him.
- Growing Up Sucks: A recurring theme notable at several points: when Mowgli is first kicked out of the pack at the end of the first story; when he divorces himself from the pack and the villagers at the climax of "Tiger! Tiger!"; and when he must leave the jungle behind at the end of the second volume.
- Handicapped Badass: Shere Khan.
- Held Gaze: The Jungle Book references the direct gaze that when an animal views it that in Real Life it signals a threat to the animal; and it comes into play during the wolf-pack meeting at the beginning when Mowgli is allowed into the pack. His ingenuous, even gaze is unsettling to the animals gathered when he looks at them, meeting their gaze for only a few seconds, as most look away quickly except for ones like Bagheera, who knows something of the ways of men. And by the time Mowgli's grown up even Bagheera has to look away.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Not really avoided, but it's clear that the animals would rather just ignore humans. Mowgli himself, however, comes to feel this way about the villagers who take him in and then drive him out again, except for Messua, the woman who adopted him and the only one to oppose his expulsion.
- This has always been a big plot point, since the law of the jungle outright forbids any animals to kill any humans for food. The reason for this is the fact that humans are the only animals who would seek revenge for this kind of thing, and thus causing the jungle far more problems than it can afford to deal with.
- Hypnotic Eyes: From the reaction of the beasts, Mowgli seems to have a mild version. The trope is played full-force with Kaa.
- I Gave My Word: Mowgli's motivation in more than one story.
- The Igor: Tabaqui, the jackal who kisses up to Shere Khan.
- Immune to Mind Control: Mowgli (being human) seems to be the only creature in the jungle who's immune to Kaa's hypnosis.
- The Imp: Again Tabaqui, being a cowardly little jackal amidst a bunch of Earth's most formidable predators, his activities consist largely of teasing the wolves and spreading word of Shere Khan's wrath. Unless he's in Ax-Crazy mode, in which his activities largely consist of attacking everything he sees.
- Intellectual Animal
- Ironic Name: Shere Khan's name in Hindi means "tiger king" or "king of tigers" ("shere" means tiger, "khan" means king). But since he was born lame he's actually one of the weakest animals in the jungle.
- Lamarck Was Right:
- In "Kaa's Hunting", Mowgli is able to show the monkeys his skill at weaving sticks together because he is a woodcutter's son.
- In "Red Dog", Mowgli cuts off the leading red dog's tail and then taunts him by telling him "There will now be many litters of little tailless red dogs, yea, with raw red stumps that sting when the sand is hot." (Since a wolf ends up killing him anyway this theory is never put to the test.)
- Literary Allusion Title: "Tiger! Tiger!" may be an allusion to "The Tyger" by William Blake.
- Lonely at the Top: Referred to: the wolfpack is led by Akela, which means "Alone."
- Manly Men Can Hunt: "Remember the wolf is a hunter, go forth and get food of thine own."
- Mama Bear: Or rather, Mother Wolf.
- Maniac Monkeys: The Bandar-log.
- Manipulative Bastard: Shere Khan's plan to turn the wolf pack against Mowgli is a pretty clever one. It nearly succeeds too.
- Manly Tears: In more senses than one.
- Mass Hypnosis: Kaa does this to the Bandar-log (and Baloo and Bagheera, who were watching).
- Meaningful Name:
- Many of the animals' names are taken from the local languages of India.
- In the story "Mowgli" (a name Kipling made up) means "frog", which refers both to his hairless skin and to his "amphibious" life between the worlds of the Jungle and that of Man.
- Mighty Whitey: Subverted, Mowgli is Indian (though it's implied that he acts "whiter" than other Indians).
- Subverted in one line from 'Letting in the Jungle'. "He knew that when the Jungle moves only white men can hope to turn it aside."
- The first story he appears in, "In the Rukh", takes place after the books, and Mowgli impresses his white, British boss, Gisborne. Then the boss's German boss, Muller, with a thick Funetik Aksent pays a visit, recognizes what Mowgli is, and tells Gisborne to give him free rein.
- Naked on Arrival: Mowgli first appears as a naked baby, and goes on to spend most of his childhood and adolescence naked too.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Mother Wolf is called "the Demon" — and not just as a compliment.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Shere Khan's attacking of a human camp is what causes Mowgli to become a feral man in the first place. If not for that, Shere Khan wouldn't have been killed by Mowgli (albeit indirectly) later.
- No Name Given: Messua's husband, Mowgli's adoptive father, is never given a name, despite being the richest man in the village. (This likely reflects the fact that he and Mowgli, the point-of-view character, never really connect.) By contrast, Kipling gives names to a couple of minor characters who are never seen again.
- Noble Wolves: Mowgli's foster family is a pack of wolves that is depicted as wise, courageous and honorable.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain:
- While an Informed Attribute for the most part, Tabaqui, often an irritating coward that serves as a bigger laughing stock of the Jungle than Shere Khan, is noted for his occasion bouts of insanity (suggested to be formed from rabies), biting and attacking anything in his path, during which point the wolves and Shere Khan himself are fearful of him.
- Shere Khan himself, though considered an egotistical fool by many, he's still a great hulking tiger whose a known man-eater responsible for the deaths of many people to the point he was known amongst the people of India and the government even offered a reward for whoever killed him. The animals also did not in any way consider him harmless either, as even Bagheera had to repeatedly remind Mowgli that Khan was a very dangerous enemy.
- Old Master: Kaa, who is the oldest creature in the jungle — his sheer size only makes sense when you realise this.
- Panthera Awesome:
- Shere Khan, despite being regarded by the rest of the jungle as a bullying coward
- Bagheera, who can saunter into a wolf pack during one of their meetings and have their immediate and respectful attention
- Papa Wolf: It's generally Akela, rather than Mowgli's actual wolf dad.
- Physical Scars, Psychological Scars: Hathi the elephant has a large white scar from the time he fell into a spiked pit trap and felt humiliated enough that when he escaped he razed three villages.
- Prequel and Sequel: Kipling had first created Mowgli for the short story "In the Rukh", which was republished in 1893 in the collection Many Inventions. In that story Mowgli meets a British forestry official, marries and has a child.
- Professional Butt-Kisser: Jackals, particularly Tabaqui.
- Raised by Wolves: Mowgli is not the Trope Maker (that's probably Romulus and Remus), but he can probably be considered the Trope Codifier for modern media.
- Retired Badass: Mother Wolf is strongly implied to be this.
- Shirtless Scene: Mowgli lives in a tropical climate and has no concept of clothing: this follows.
- Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Everyone who tries to teach Mowgli sometimes takes on this role, since he's sure to die if he doesn't learn.
- Species Surname: Most of the animals of The Jungle Book are referred to by the name of that animal in Hindi. A few of the wolves are exceptions in having individual names.
- Sycophantic Servant: Tabaqui to Shere Khan.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Averted. Mowgli's plans to kill Shere Khan and defeat the Red Dogs are laid out to the reader in great detail, and both are pulled off without a hitch.
- Unusual Euphemism: A classic one:By the Red Flower Bagheera meant fire, only no creature in the jungle will call fire by its proper name. Every beast lives in deadly fear of it, and invents a hundred ways of describing it.
- Veganopia: According to the legend Hathi tells in "How Fear Came", in ancient times, all animals ate only "leaves and flowers and grass and fruit and bark".
- The Villain Makes the Plot: Shere Khan kicks off the story by attacking a campsite, causing Mowgli to wander in the jungle and be adopted by wolves.
- Who Will Bell the Cat?: When the head wolf fails to take down the prey, the pack can take him on — but, as he reminds them, it is his right that they come one by one.
- Wild Child: Mowgli.
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: In "The King's Ankus," Mowgli can't see why the ancient treasure trove is worth guarding. He later sees why it needs a guardian — not for its innate value, but for the way other humans will murder each other for it.
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe
The other stories provide examples of:
- Artistic License – Biology: The cobras in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi are implied to be King Cobras, but they are described as looking like Indian Cobras. (Five foot long adult size, a white marking on the hood, etc.)
- Badass: Almost every main character. Also the cobras in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.
- Badass Boast: The snake villains have these in spades. See Badass Creed below.
- Badass Creed:
- One is said by Karait, a minor villain."Be careful; I am Death!"
- From Nag, the cobra:"Who is Nag? I am Nag. The great God Brahm put his mark upon all our people, when the first cobra spread his hood to keep the sun off Brahm as he slept. Look, and be afraid!"
- One is said by Karait, a minor villain.
- Beast of Battle: "Parade Song of the Camp Animals"
- Big Damn Heroes: Rikki arriving to stop Nagaina from threatening the humans at the dinner table.
- Cue the Flying Pigs: At the beginning of "Toomai of the Elephants", the title character is told by Petersen Sahib that he may one day go into all elephant stockades "when thou hast seen the elephants dance"; although there is evidence that such events occur, no human has yet witnessed it, thus the statement equates to "never". Sure enough, though, by the end of the story, Little Toomai has seen the dance of the elephants.
- Exact Eavesdropping: Rikki-Tikki-Tavi the mongoose overhears the two cobras' entire plan to rid the bungalow of humans. Granted, he was warned to go listen in by another animal, but that seems a bit too convenient, no?
- Friend to All Living Things: In "The Miracle of Purun Bhagat", the title character renounces his worldly goods and becomes a holy man, befriending all of the animals that live in the hills near his shrine.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: "The White Seal" gets downright anvilicious about it.
- Intellectual Animal
- Manly Men Can Hunt:The Jackal may follow the tiger, but, cub, when thy whiskers are grown
Remember, the wolf is a hunter, go forth and get food of thine own
- More Deadly Than The Male: In "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", after killing Nag, the titular mongoose laments to himself that still leaves Nag's wife, Nagaina, who will be "worse than five Nags".
- No Name Given:
- In "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", Teddy's father isn't named, although Teddy's mother's name is Alice, as given in dialogue.
- In the Inuit story "Quiquern", there's a girl from a tribe whose womenfolk are rescued after their men die on a hunt. Despite accompanying the hero Kotuko on a dangerous mission, and eventually marrying him, she's only ever called "the girl".
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Played straight in "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi".
- Sliding Scale of Villain Threat: Averted in "Rikki-Tikki Tavi," considering Rikki's first battle was against Karait, the Dust Brown Snakeling, a small highly venomous snake whom the story notes is a deadlier threat than the cobras, with equally potent venom matched to far greater speed and reflexes that means if Rikki doesn't hit Karait in the right spot with the first bite, he will be killed by Karait's return stroke.
- Something Completely Different: Each anthology has a story that has nothing whatsoever to do with the jungle or India: in the first, it's The White Seal, set in the northern oceans; in the second, it's Quiquern, which is about huskies and Inuits.
- Unholy Matrimony: The two cobras in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi are mates who wish to assassinate all the humans in the house so that their children will have room to grow.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: In the stories, all animals have sapient intelligence like humans. But humans are still treated as objectively worth more than non-human animals. Especially in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (A mongoose goes to kill two cobras who want to kill the humans in a bungalow so that they can raise their children.) Probably justified in this case, since the cobras would also be a potential threat to Rikki Tikki as well. Plus, the humans had saved the mongoose's life and so they deserved his protection for that matter at least.
Adaptations with their own pages include:
Other adaptations provide examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: The Jungle Play is mostly based on four stories, "Mowgli's Brothers", "Tiger! Tiger!", "Letting in the Jungle", and "The Spring Running". He also created a new character, Dulia, a girl from the village, as Mowgli's love interest, and actually weaves her into the plot nicely (for instance it is she who brings news of what the villagers are doing to Mowgli's adoptive human mother to Council Rock).
- Artistic License – Biology: The cobras are portrayed far physically larger than life in both cartoon adaptations.
- Bowdlerise: On top of how animated depictions usually skip over or tone down the family unfriendly parts, this is somewhat AVERTED, in the most ironic of instances, in at least one young children rewrite of the story released in the U.S, which not only leaves in the creepy mass hallucinate and feast scene with Kaa eating a ton of simians completely intact, but even includes a lovingly drawn scene of Mowgli and the wolves killing Shere Khan.
- The Film of the Book: Not just the Disney version or the 1994 version, but there was one done in 1942 with Sabu as Mowgli. It is much closer to the original story than the Disney version obviously.
- Hero Killer: Shere Khan will sometimes kill a major character close to Mowgli to make their feud even more personal.
- Hijacked by Ganon: Shere Khan sometimes does this in television series adaptations
- Never Say "Die": Averted considerably in the Chuck Jones versions. Considering how integral death is to the plot (Rikki Tikki Tavi being a hunter of snakes who in turn want to kill him and the humans who quasi-adopted him, the main plot of the White Seal being kicked off by Kotick finding out about humans hunting and killing his kind, and constant talk of killing and dying in Mowgli's Brothers) it's fair to say that they would have had to change MUCH of the story, and not been as faithful to the stories as they at least tried to be.
- She's a Man in Japan: Bagheera is female in the Russian translation, mostly because the Russian word for "panther" is grammatically feminine.
- Same in Spanish; the word "pantera" is grammatically feminine and thus Bagheera is refered to as a "she".
- Bagheera has a female voice in Disney's Mowgli's Story as well.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Most famously Shere Khan in the Disney animated film (he survives in the later live action variant too).
- Tabaqui's death at the hands (sic) of Brother Wolf is also absent in the Russian adaptation, and is shown having a conversation with Shere Khan prior to his own death (granted whether Tabaqui survives the stampede just after is left ambiguous).
- In the 1955 Dell Comics adaptation of "The King's Ankus",note some of the men who steal the ankus survive and Mowgli has to steal it back from them.