Honorable Elephant

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Maybe monkeys can get away with lounging on the ground, but elephants must be held to a higher standard.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

Thanks to its size, the movements of an elephant tend to be slow and ponderous. While it's impossible to know whether an elephant's inner life is more somber and serious than, say, that of an otter, it certainly looks that way. The somber image of elephants is compounded by the fact that elephants are observed engaging in what appears to be reverence for their dead. It seems likely that they are aware of their own mortality. The prodigious memory of elephants also makes it seem that their lives must be more burdened by history and the past than animals with less powerful memories, which exist more "in the moment".

An anthropomorphized elephant or mammoth will typically be honorable and stoic. Young elephants may be more playful, but is unlikely to be a willful troublemaker. Ironically, while in Real Life female elephants tend to be the most involved in the complex social behaviors which make them so easily identified-with, fictitious elephantine heroes tend to be males — perhaps because something so massive and thick-skinned as an elephant seems masculine even when the beast is female.

Some aspects of Real Life elephants, such as their excellent memories, may be portrayed widely in fiction, while other aspects, such as the feeling of Unstoppable Rage and lust males feel during musth, may be played down.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 

    Audio Drama 

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 

     Eastern European Animation 

    Film — Animated 
  • The title character in Dumbo is playful but never malicious. The Matriarch plays the trope more straight: "We elephants have always walked with dignity."
  • Manny from Ice Age is an honorable mammoth. He feels morally obligated to return a human baby to his family even though he knows that the child could one day grow up to be a mammoth-killer.
  • In The Jungle Book, elephants are like honorable, respectable (if not too bright) British army officers.
  • Tantor, the African Elephant from Tarzan may be a coward, but when his friends are in danger he overcomes his fear and helps them.
  • Averted by elephant ice cream vendor Jerry Jumbeaux in Zootopia, a racist jerk who refuses service to Nick simply because he's a fox.

    Film — Live Action 

    Literature 

    Religion and Mythology 
  • Played entirely straight in Hindu Mythology, with elephants often symbolizing wisdom, grace, power and kingliness. Eight divine elephants carry the world on their backs, and a white four-tusked elephant is the mount of the storm god Indra. The elephant-headed god Ganesha, one of the most popular gods in Hinduism, removes obstacles and gives people good luck, as well as protecting children.
    • And in another Indian example, this time from Buddhism. The Buddha was an honorable elephant in several of his previous lives, and the popularity of white elephants in Thailand has to do with Buddha taking the form of a six-tusked white elephant.

    Live-Action Television 
  • Not a anthromorphized example, but Prehistoric Park features Martha the mammoth.
    • She first appears unsuccessfully trying to aid her sister, who has died falling in a pit trap made by early humans.
    • Though an outcast from the African elephant herd, it is Martha who stands up to Matilda, a young T. rex, when Matilda targets the matriarch's calf.
  • In Primeval, a Columbian mammoth saves James Lester from a Future Predator in one episode. At the beginning of the episode he'd been making jokes about selling the mammoth for ivory. At the end of the episode, he brings it treats and cements his status as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • In Walking With Beasts, honorability seems to increase in the proboscidean family tree as it gets closer to modern elephants.
    • In "Mammoth Journey", female woolly mammoths and their young live in family groups that stick together and quietly help each other when facing predators and climatic hardships. The most unprovoked aggression seen consists of an adult male on heat chasing a bison herd away with a mildly threatening trotting and an old male scaring two cave lions out of his way when he migrates south. Said lions are feeding on a human carcass.
    • Deinotheres in "Next of Kin", in contrast, are sadistic bullies that seem to revel on chasing hominids out of waterholes or because they are on heat. Bear in mind that this is as much elephantine behavior as the one exhibited by the mammoths. The series gives all positive traits to one lineage and all negative traits to the other, who also happens to be the uglier, less elephant-looking one.
    • Goofy-looking moeritheres in "Whale Killer" are perfect pacifists that don't really look or act like elephants. One is chased by the threatening Basilosaurus, but unlike most prey animals in the series it is given the chance to escape.

    Music 
  • Inverted in the comic song "The Elephant" by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, which starts, "An elephant's life is tedious, laborious, and slow. / I've been an elephant all me life, so I bloomin' well ought to know!" The elephantine narrator then describes how he avoids the dutiful life of the typical elephant by shamming amnesia. "Me mind's a perfect blank. / Now life is very much easier. Amnesier's to thank."
  • The British folk song Nellie the Elephant, which later received an Animated Adaptation.

     Video Games 
  • The Pokémon Donphan is known for clearing roads after disasters.

    Western Animation 
  • Woolie from Cats Don't Dance.
  • Subverted with Stampy from The Simpsons. As Bart's pet, he was surly and destructive, so the family sends him to a sanctuary, thinking that he would be more peaceful among his own kind. But once there, he started being the same way toward the other elephants, causing the caretaker to remark that some elephants are just jerks.
  • In Tom and Jerry cartoon "Jerry and Jumbo", an elephant loyally defends Jerry from Tom after Jerry pulls a nail from the elephant's foot.
  • Dolores from some of the Classic Disney Shorts.
  • In the Disney short Elmer Elephant, the title character is a heroic anthropomorphic elephant who saves his Love Interest Tilly Tiger from a fire.
  • The short Goliath II is about a mouse-sized elephant who wants to get the respect of his pompous father.
  • Lumpy from Winnie-the-Pooh and his mother are both kind and heroic Heffalumps (elephant-like creatures) - in stark contrast with the other, villainous Heffalumps of the franchise.
  • Raj from Camp Lazlo.
  • Mama Mirabelle and her son Max from Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies
  • Strong Sad from Homestar Runner, who isn't fully an elephant but has elephant feet which he calls "soolnds". They prevent him from being able to jump, which is true with elephants in real life.
  • Ellivan from Jungle Junction.
  • The Looney Tunes short Hobo Bobo.
  • The Elephants from the elephant village in ThunderCats (2011) . These elephants notably subvert the "elephant never forget" stereotype, since while they are wise, they have very poor memories which they are apparently infamous for. They're also pacifistic to the point that they prefer to solve their problems by meditating until the answer comes to them rather than act straight away. But that doesn't mean they're complete pushovers.
  • Lotsa Heart elephant in Care Bears
  • The Large Family, a slice of life show focusing on a town full of antropomorphic elephants.
  • Ella the Elephant, based on the books by Carmela D' Amico and Steven Henry.

    Real Life 
  • The United States Republican Party has an elephant as the mascot, perhaps to invoke an image of stability.
  • The Oakland Athletics baseball team uses an elephant as its mascot, as well as one of its alternate names.
  • Real elephants are used in Indian temple processions to carry gods, and some of them are sacred animals that bless devotees.


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