Western Animation / Jane and the Dragon


Jane and the Dragon is a CGI cartoon about the adventures of the eponymous characters and their friends, in the castle of the kingdom of Kippernia. Set in approximately the 800's, Jane is in training to become the first female knight ever. She gained the position at the age of ten when a dragon kidnapped the crown prince and she rescued him, finding out in the process that Dragon meant no harm, and thought that the prince was a key part of solving the dragon runes on his cave. After she returned with Prince Cuthbert and Dragon, King Caradoc allowed her to become a squire, which she had trained in secret for months beforehand.

The show is notable for having unusually sophisticated characters, storytelling, and dialogue for a cartoon that most sources consider suitable for five-year-olds. The CGI, developed by the same studio behind The Lord of the Rings and King Kong, utilizes motion-capture technology and is almost free of the usual clumsiness that plagues other CGI series. The characters have realistic expressions and gestures and only occasionally dip into the Uncanny Valley.

The show received some glowing reviews from parents' groups and an Annie Award nomination. Despite this, Jane's adventures with her dragon were cancelled in 2006.

Jane and the Dragon provides examples of:

  • A Boy and His X: A Girl and Her Dragon.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The TV series hasn't strayed far from the (very small) source material. There are also some nice little homages to the book, with the Jester giving Jane his armor and the Queen possibly having a hand in allowing Jane to become a knight. Also the character designs are spot on!
  • Adorkable: Jester and Rake both qualify. Jane has her moments too.
  • All There in the Manual: A lot of background information can be found at the Royal Archives.
  • Almost Kiss: Rake and Pepper in the episode "Dragon Diva."
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: The American edits add one to the end to some episodes, similarly to Sailor Moon.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Subverted with Jane and Gunther, who are always arguing but are explicitly shown in one episode to not have feelings for each other (contrary to the cast's beliefs).
  • Beta Couple: Pepper and Rake, although there isn't really an official Alpha Couple yet.
  • Bratty Half-Pint:
    • Princess Lavinia has royal blood and is therefore used to getting her way. However, she idolizes the heroine and is generally treated as a sympathetic (though often pesky) character.
    • Her brother Cuthbert also, who is regarded less highly by the main characters.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Dragon and Jane return to the castle after a self-imposed banishment to save Gunther from a collapsed wall.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Dragon. Jane also, when it comes to telling immature jokes.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Jester seems to be in the first stages of Unlucky.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of the characters, actually but special mention goes to the main two.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Dragon and Pig.
  • Dragon Rider
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Jester and Smithy. Pepper and Rake (the cook and gardener, respectively) are borderline examples, along with Gunther, which, according to Word of God was chosen because it means warrior.
  • Expository Theme Tune: A Crowning Theme of Awesome:
    Jester: There once was a lady-in-waiting, let's call her Jane, that girl wasn't ordinary.
    Jane: No way for me, a lady stuck in waiting, I'd rather battle fire-breathing dragons! I knew I could prove a girl could be a knight though my friends all laughed at me, but, I wouldn't be discouraged and trained in secret then a dragon pinched the royal prince and everyone was freakin' so I went alone to the dragon's home, to slay the dragon.
    Chorus: Hey now, hey now now, Jane and the dragon are best friends now!
    Jane: Dragon's sweet, he let me save the young prince, then the king made me a knight's apprentice.
    Chorus: Hey now, hey now now...
    Jane: With Dragon's help I'll be a knight someday!
  • Fiery Redhead: Jane
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Not in the usual sense. There are no pop culture references or naughty in-jokes for adults watching. However, the story is implied to be darker than what is normally acceptable in a children's cartoon.
    • For example, Gunther's mother is missing from the series, and his profile on the official website (where Jane and the Dragon is right next to preschool toons like Babar) states that his father reacts with anger whenever he asks about her. Gunther's absolute fear whenever his father approaches also implies he's experienced some child abuse.
    • Sir Ivon is said to be fond of drinking songs. A character also jokes about him being found "under the table" during the royal ball.
    • In one episode, Jane finds the tomb of who she believes is the real King Caradoc. She doesn't outright state it, but it can be interpreted that she suspects the current king murdered his brother and took the crown and his name. She turns out to be mistaken about this, though and it turns out he took the name from his brother who died at an early age.
    • In the episode "A Dragon's Tail" Dragon is running a fever. Jane checks his temperature to confirm this. Which leads to this exchange...
      Jane: You are so hot!
      Dragon: Thank you.
  • The Ghost: When the Queen's royal portrait is vandalized. King Carradoc states that the "Court Wizard" is in process of repairing it. This wizard is never seen, and is only mentioned with once more when they pick up fireworks; with Rake acting scared of him. It could also fall into They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character.
  • Hartman Hips: Pepper.
  • Improbable Age: Most of the royal staff ranges from age 12 to 14 with no adult mentors in sight. This is implied to be the result of most of the kingdom's adult staff having to work elsewhere after the castle fell on hard times.
    • This could also be a subtle case of Shown Their Work; in most of Medieval Europe, twelve years was the age of majority, though the lack of anyone older suggests the above.
  • Ineffectual Loner: Gunther. He is the only one who doesn't seem to be on friendly terms with anyone in the court.
    • There are a couple exceptions. In one episode, he gets fairly close to Dragon as they both share a love of lowbrow humor, but Dragon returns to disliking him at the end of the episode. In another, he is caught stealing flowers and explains that they're for a love interest, but the love interest is never seen or referred to again. It is unknown if the love interest even exists; Gunther's facial expressions when mentioning her have led to debate among some viewers, and it is a bit extreme for someone to strip entire rose/chrysanthemum bushes bare for one person.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gunther is obnoxious to Jane (and occasionally the other denizens of the castle) and often uses underhanded tactics to get his way. However, he has also gone out of his way to right his meddling father's wrongs and usually ends up doing the right thing by the end of the episode.
  • Last of His Kind: Dragon, maybe. He hopes he isn't.
  • Meaningful Name: Jane is probably the only one of her peers who doesn't fit this trope. Gunther, her fellow knight-in-training, means "warrior." Smithy is the blacksmith. Rake is the gardener. Pepper is the cook. Jester is, well...
    • Partly justified in that all of them, aside from Gunther, are nicknames.
    • Though Jane's surname—given in the book, not the series—is "Turnkey", an actual medieval profession. It's another word for "dungeon-master".
  • Middle Ages
  • Mood Motif: Several, including ones that indicate when Gunther or his father are around, and a romantic violin motif used for Rake and Pepper.
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal: For the young target audience, the show has neat 3D animation, minimal violence, good role models, and a big, friendly (usually) dragon. For their parents or curious 20-year-old parties, it has complex and realistic characters with believable problems, plots and dialogue that dodge predictability, sophisticated vocabulary, and genuine emotion with a hint of romance.
    • The series' appeal to its Periphery Demographic is obvious in the comments sections of the episodes on YouTube. Many comments are simply "I'm [age way older than the target demographic], and I love this show!"
  • My Beloved Smother: Dragon is a bit of a Mama Bear to Jane at the best of times. In one episode, where his goofing around nearly gets her splattered, he becomes Mama unBEARable.
  • Never Say "Die": Surprisingly, averted in a show that is almost violence-free and is supposed to be acceptable for kindergarteners to watch. Characters use the words "kill," "death," and "died" freely.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted; Dragon does defecate (rather abundantly too if the reactions of characters that see his leavings are any indication). Though it is never explicitly seen on camera (apart from when Gunther and Dragon have a dung-fight). Apparently, dragon manure makes very good fertilizer. Dragon isn't incredibly shy about where he does it, either. The concept of a bathroom is completely foreign to him.
    Jane: I was going to the privy, and...
    Dragon: Privy?
    Jane: Yes, the privy...the privy chamber.
    [Dragon looks confused]
    Jane: The private chamber, Dragon! Not everyone is happy squatting on a public wall to do their business!
    Dragon: Oh, that! Yes, well, [that's] the dragon way, loud and proud!
  • Orphaned Punchline: The 'joke' that Dragon wrote for Jester that ends "That isn't a cow. That's just my cave chicken". See Cannot Tell a Joke.
  • The Plan: Jane pulls off one of these for an All Fool's Day prank.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: invoked Jane adamantly refuses to wear a dress to the ball, even when her mother forbids her to go without one. The end result is Jane skipping the ball to chase after a garden thief. Though you get the feeling the animators just didn't want to render everyone in their evening attire, it's a bit of a derailment from the heroine's usual reasonable and compromising personality. Word of God is that Jane felt that if she did wear a dress, it would be seen as backsliding from her goal to be a knight, especially in the eyes of her mother.
  • Shipper on Deck: Pepper, Smithy, Dragon and Rake for Gunther and Jane before it is revealed that they do not, in fact, like each other.
    • Gunther at least teases Jane over her interactions with Jester, implying he is aware of Jester's feelings, though that may just be him behaving towards her as usual.
  • Ship Tease: Several moments between Jane and Jester could be argued as this.
  • Teens Are Short: Both played straight and averted, as most but not all of the teenage characters are shorter than the adults. Truth in Television, as the series takes place in the 800s, and even as far back as the 1860s puberty still took place at age 16 and a half or older.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Sir Ivan's response to being humiliated by Jester is to prepare every weapon he can in two days and take all of them to the duel. Then Jester derails the whole thing by declaring a duel of wits (the rules are somewhat unclear as to what a "weapon" is), the one thing Sir Ivan is somewhat lacking.
  • Toilet Humor: Dragon and Gunther have a fascination with this.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Jane and Pepper, the royal cook.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Jane and her friends use faux medieval-type curses ("Bat bladders!" and "Maggots!") and insults ("Biscuit weevil!"). Expect a string of these whenever Jane and Gunther start bickering.
  • The Voice: Wolves often feature as a threat but are never shown beyond a shadow accompanied by growling or howling.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Gunther.