All of the Other Reindeer: Tweaked a bit in that, long before the climax of the film, Po had already gone a long way towards earning the respect of most of the Furious Five, because of his Heroic Resolve facing his hopeless Training from Hell without complaint. Also, he's a genuinely Nice Guy, a good storyteller, and an excellent cook.
All That Glitters: The secret of the Dragon Scroll is revealed to be blank, and Po ultimately realizes what this means. The scroll's shiny surface is just a mirror — all it shows is the image of the person looking at it, because the power and skill is within them, not the scroll.
It's telling that Tai Lung exclaims at his own reflection that he sees nothing.
Animal Stereotypes: Played straight in some cases, subverted for all they're worth in others. Notably, Viper is the nicest member of the Furious Five.
The Anticipator: Master Shifu likely knew that the Furious Five would try to ambush him that day, but he couldn't know where or how. Nonetheless, Master Shifu easily thwarts all five forays against him, giving critique on their technique as he does so.
Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Tai Lung. Also, Tigress; there are plenty of parallels between her and Tai Lung, which is why Shifu is so harsh towards her.
Art Shift: The introduction scene uses a significantly different art style than the rest of the film.
Artistic Age: Type 2; Given that these are animals, it's hard to determine anyone's specific age. According to Secrets of the Furious Five and the sequel, Tigress and Crane are mentioned to at least be in their 30's or 40's, so it's safe to assume that other members of the Five and Po are about the same. The sequel confirms Po's age. Po was a baby when Shen massacred his home village 30 years ago, so he's 31, give or take a year
Ascended Fanboy: The whole story is built around kung fu fan Po becoming a kung fu master himself.
Ass Kicking Pose: All over the place, but a subtle, easy to miss example gives you an early glimpse of how Tigress will act towards Po. After he crashlands in the Jade Palace, the POV shot from Po shows the Furious Five all looking at him with looks that are a mix of confusion and concern... except for Tigress, who looks like she's about to cold-cock him.
Ass Kicks You: When Tai Lung and Po finally meet, Tai Lung mocks him in precisely this manner. "What are you going to do, big guy? Sit on me?" This is exactly what happens when the two are tumbling down the long stairs from the temple.
Bait and Switch: Referenced in Po's quote at the top of this page: what looks to be a moment of awesomeness instead falls flat, literally... Only to be Doubly Subverted when, just as he's about to get up and go home, the firecrackers have a delayed ignition.
Bears Are Bad News: Inverted. Po is a giant softie and thinks he'd make an incompetent fighter because he's a panda. Justified, in that Tai Lung's first response to finding out a panda is the Dragon Warrior is to mock him. Apparently, the idea is commonplace in this world.
Be Yourself: Quite possibly the most effective presentation of the moral. Instead of going the tried-and-true route of "You're perfect just the way you are!", the movie instead opts to acknowledge that while you should always strive for self-improvement, there are no shortcuts to greatness. Being the best you can be is hard work but it pays off in the end.
Big Damn Heroes: Po's arrival just when Tai Lung is about to kill Shifu. Simultaneously played straight and parodied (he arrives just in time...but is exhausted from running up the many stairs to the Jade Palace.)
Big Eater: Po, of course but Shifu is not far behind. During Po's training montage, you see him pack away a large amount of food in only a few seconds.
British Accents: Done as an awesome reveal. Tai Lung has been talked up as a legendaryOne-Leopard Army throughout the movie with his very own Tailor-Made Prison, and the scene where he escapes from said prison is spectacularly violent and ingenious. Once outside, he grabs the goose messenger, smiles, opens his mouth to speak... and out comes the smooth, cultured rumble of Ian McShane. Compare this to some dubs, where he has a deep, almost Darth Vader like voice.
Bullet Time: Played straight as often as it is parodied.
Calling the Old Man Out: Tai Lung gives Shifu one, basically saying "My life sucks and it's all your fault." Shifu apologizes for his mistakes he made raising Tai Lung but Tai Lung declares that he doesn't give a damn and proceeds to strangle his former master, claws raised.
Captain Obvious: Tai Lung fills this role nicely when he meets the Dragon Warrior and learns he's a panda.
Tai Lung:(to Shifu) He's a panda! (to Po) You're a panda!
About the only foods shown in the movie are noodles, peaches, almond cookies, soup, and dumplings — even Tigress is shown eating tofu. The subject of meat (felines are actually obligate carnivores) never comes up. According to the Word of God, all the animals are vegetarians. Think about it, if they eat the other animals, then they are regarded as cannibals/murderers.
One of the wolves in the sequel explicitly says to a rabbit: "If you are not going to cook my rice properly, I am going to cook you!"
The sequel also confirms that cannibalism still exists among mantises.
Cats Are Mean: The main villain is Tai Lung, a snow leopard, and Tigress is the rudest of the Furious Five towards Po until she chills out. Many of the villains in the opening that are not reptiles or wolves are panther-like felines.
A great example of doing the homework: in kung fu, the tiger is considered the most aggressive of the animal styles with straight forward attacks and powerful moves.
Centipede's Dilemma: Initially Po can't do the most basic kung fu maneuvers but can perform impressive feats of acrobatics while trying to get food. Fittingly, when it's pointed out to him he's ten feet off the ground in a perfect split he falls flat on his face.
Chekhov's Armoury: As the tortoise said, "There are no accidents." This comes up a lot.
Chekhov's Gun: During the acupuncture scene, Mantis points out that he can't do the procedure correctly because Po's ... fur (Po calls him out on it) keeps getting in the way. At the final battle, the exact same thing happens when Tai Lung tries to utilize a Pressure Point attack against Po and it doesn't work.
The Chessmaster: It's subtle, but it is indicated that Oogway not only knew that Tai Lung would escape but that Shifu's messenger's feather would be how he did it, making Oogway this trope. It's ambiguous though if he actually knew that it would turn out well or if he just had faith — considering his attitude ("there are no accidents" vs "you must believe"), either is possible.
Chilly Reception: Oogway's selection of Po was not initially accepted by any of the other masters and they made no secret of their disdain (Tigress especially), but Po warms up the atmosphere in due time.
The Chosen One: The Dragon Warrior is the mystical kung fu master who will bring peace to the valley (and to Shifu as well, as it turns out).
Color Motif: Word of God says the color gold was used to symbolize heroism in the film (see: Po's training sequence). Tai Lung's eyes are gold —because in his eyes, he is the hero of the story. Word of God also says that green represents wisdom (the reason why Po's eyes are green: he has the capacity for great wisdom; in the sequel, this is probably why Shifu's wardrobe now incorporates green) and red symbolizes power (made even more prominent in the sequel, with red representing Lord Shen as blue represented Tai Lung). In the film's color theory white, orange and brown represent honor, energy and dedication (the reason why Shifu's design incorporates all three, "to visually support [his] character traits").
Conveniently Empty Building: The film takes the time to justify this trope. Realising they can't help him stop Tai Lung, Shifu commands the students to do the next best thing, and organise the evacuation of the town. When Po and Tai Lung tear their way through every building in sight in the final battle, there's no collateral damage to worry about.
Creative Closing Credits: Done in the same fashion than the opening sequence. First it's the animated cast, then pictures depicting slices of their lives after the end of the movie. Some are heartwarming.
Cue the Sun: As the morning sun comes up, Shifu discovers the solution of how to train Po. It's also dawn when Po shows up to face Tai Lung and defeat him.
Cynical Mentor: Shifu after Tai Lung's turn to evil, particularly towards Po in the beginning.
Tropes D to F
Darkest Hour: All the heroes have a soul crushingly heartrending night where Master Oogway, the only one who stopped Tai Lung before and the only one who has faith in Po as the Dragon Warrior, dies, leaving Master Shifu with a seemingly impossible promise to train the fat panda, while Po now fully realizes how hopeless he truly is on top of his profound self-loathing that even Shifu cannot alleviate while Tigress feels no other choice but to defy her master and set out to stop Tai Lung herself despite his prohibition.
Deadly Fireworks Display: The Wuxi Finger Hold. Subverted in that it's never actually explained if the finger hold killed Tai Lung. Though Shifu said "The hardest part is cleaning up afterwards" implying it's a massively gory attack. But he may have just been saying that to intimidate Po.
Death Course: The training dojo includes a wide variety of deadly obstacles that the Furious Five use for their daily training.
For most of his training, Po refuses to give up no matter how badly he's beaten to a pulp, until he comes to feel that even "the greatest kung fu teacher in all of China" couldn't make him anything more than just some ordinary schmuck.
Tai Lung hasn't given up on claiming the Dragon Scroll after twenty years of imprisonment.
Deus Exit Machina: Really, the only reason Master Oogway dies is so he can't use his awesome nerve attack to KO Tai Lung in five seconds. Word of God gives an alternate explanation: Shifu won't successfully train the Dragon warrior as long as he keeps relying on Oogway.
Distant Reaction Shot: The ultimate defeat of Tai Lung isn't shown directly, but from afar people are shown as seeing a big explosion.
A Dog Named Dog: The Furious Five are only ever called Tigress, Viper, Crane, Mantis, and Monkey. Although, given that Shifu tends to call Po "Panda", they might actually have names...
Doorstop Baby: How Tai Lung was found by Shifu. And Po is revealed to be one in the second movie.
Dragons Up the Yin Yang: The Dragon Scroll, which is held in the jaws of a giant dragon statue. The taijitu also appears as The Pool of Sacred Tears, as well as the symbol on the back of Oogway's cloak.
Dramedy: For all the humor and action, there is a powerful theme about family and heroism in the story.
Dramatic Thunder: The messenger's flight to Tai-Lung's prison, and his flight back from it. Again during the fight between Tai Lung and Shifu. It was awfully stormy in ancient China.
Elephant in the Room: Po's father is a goose, but it's never even acknowledged by any of the characters in the first film. It's subtly referenced at a scene near the end: Po says he sometimes "can't believe I'm really your son!" because they're such different people. There's an awkward pause, and his father tells him there's "something he should know"... and it turns out he's just telling him the secret ingredient of his secret ingredient soup. It is a plot point in the sequel, though.
When Shifu discovers just what kind of feats Po can achieve in his pursuit of food, he finally realizes how to train him in kung fu.
The Secret Ingredient of Po's father's "Secret Ingredient Soup" causes Po to realize the significance and true meaning of the Dragon Scroll: there is no secret ingredient to make something, or someone, special.
Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: Averted: the main characters are all famous kung fu masters, while the nearby villagers are Innocent Bystanders who flee for safety when the fighting starts. Honorary mention as the song itself plays during the end credits, altered with wholesome lyrics to match with the uplifting theme of the film.
Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Tai Lung is totally unable to understand the Dragon Scroll's wisdom. If there is no secret he's been fighting for, after all, he's been destroying everything he once loved for nothing.
Expy: Tai Lung very much resembles Shan-Yu from Mulan in build, voice, attitude, and even eye color. Shan Yu could be the inspiration for Tai Lung, or the snow leopard could be a stealthy Shout-Out to the earlier animated Chinese epic.
Exactly What It Says on the Tin: For those of us who know Mandarin Chinese (as opposed to other dialects), some of the names are also this trope. Oogway, if pronounced the right way, means "turtle". Shifu means "master" and is generally used in the context of the master training a student. This also doubles up as a slight redundancy when Po calls Shifu "Master Shifu" or "Master master". Unfortunately does not apply to Po or Tai Lung, as the variation in how those names might be intoned make it impossible to confirm which particular Mandarin word they are referring to. Interestingly, Tai Lung could be translated to "Great Dragon"... so you can see why he thought he had the "Dragon Warrior" prophecy in the bag.
Fake-Out Opening: The hand-drawn opening sequence and its Buffy Speak -meets- Totally Radical narrative voiceover are revealed to be part of a dream Po is having: the rest of the film is 3D animation and much more conventionally written.
Family Business: The noodle shop. Slightly parodied: "...and then you will fulfill your destiny and take over the restaurant: just as I took it over from my father, who took it over from his father, who won it from a friend in a game of mahjong."
Fate Worse than Death: By all appearances, Tai Lung hasn't just been imprisoned for decades, but immobilized (and tormented by the guards when they had the chance) for 20 years. It may have been more humane to just kill him instead. Downplayed in this case. Since he has "gotten stronger" since his imprisonment according to Master Shifu, he may have been meditating the entire time to focus his Chi.
Finger Poke of Doom: Comes in two flavours. The Wuxi Fingerhold for Shifu and Po and a paralyzing move for Tai Lung and Oogway.
Foreshadowing: The acupuncture scene. While mostly there for comedy, it gives an early hint about Po's nerve points being hard to hit under all his blubber.
When Po plummets at the ground after being rocketed into the sky, he only loses consciousness for a few seconds, having suffered no further injuries even though falling from that height should at least have fractured some bones. This is possibly an even earlier implication of how resistant his chubby body is to damage.
When Po is serving noodle soup to the Five, they remark that it tastes great, to which Po disagrees, saying it's nothing like his dad's soup that contains a secret ingredient, but the Five insist that it's amazing. Po later finds out his dad in fact doesn't use a secret ingredient, but "to make something special, you just have to believe it is", prompting him to realize his strength lies within himself.
Freudian Excuse: Tai Lung: he feels his adoptive father turned on him and let Ogeway deny him his destiny.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Po returns to his dad's shop when the village is being evacuated to avoid Tai Lung, watch his reaction as the apron magically appears around his waist after his dad hugs him.
Po and Shifu's chopstick fight. When Shifu takes the first dumpling there's a single frame where he's looking into the camera and smiling like he's posing for a photo.
Another one when Mantis was trying to give Po an acupuncture treatment. During the shot where Po falls down after making one funny face, Crane and Monkey can be seen, peeking through the door.
Furry Confusion: The dragon statues, which for some reason are actually all not anthropomorphized.
Tropes G to M
Game Changer: The unexpected dubbing of Po as The Dragon Warrior, a clumsy giant panda who turns out be a preternaturally talented martial artist of considerable power with the right instruction who also enables his colleagues to find a happiness they did not know they needed.
Then there's the scene right after Po wakes from his Parody SueDream Sequence. He tries to get up, but has trouble due to his weight, causing a lot of banging. When Mr. Ping later demands to know what he was doing, Po has to explain, rather uncomfortably, that he was having a strange dream. Does This Remind You of Anything?
The Gift: Tai Lung, though it's to his detriment. He has a severe ego problem that prevents him from being truly receptive of the Dragon Scroll's wisdom. This is why Oogway refused to make him the Dragon Warrior. His response to this was less than cordial.
Good Morning, Crono: Done to Po at the beginning of the movie when his dad wakes him up from a dream and tells him to wait tables.
Hard Work Hardly Works: While Po works very hard during his training montage, but still probably not as hard as the Furious Five or Tai Lung in the backstory. And certainly nowhere near as long.
Heartbreak and Ice Cream: Po has a psychological need to gorge on food when he is upset, so part of his training achievements include being able to conquer that urge as he grows spiritually healthier.
Heroic BSOD: Po suffers this most prominently when he looks inside the dragon scroll to find out it was nothing. Po gets better after he finds out the true meaning with unexpected help from his father.
Heroic Resolve: As the junior novelization voiced the thoughts of most of the Five seeing Po endure Shifu's hopeless "training," without complaint "He can't be the Dragon Warrior but he's really tough!"
Hit Flash: Po gets one when he crashes into the exhibition/ceremony. Later, the Furious Five get one when Tai Lung defeats them on the bridge.
Hope Spot: Once played straight when the Furious Five seem to have sent Tai Lung to his Disney Villain Death, and the other time, inverted, in that it's Tai Lung who gets one:
Tai Lung:You're bluffing! Shifu didn't teach you that! Po:No, he didn't. * Cue Tai Lung's relieved face* I figured it out. Skadoosh! * Critical Existence Failure ensues*.
Humiliation Conga: Tai Lung and Po are evenly matched until Tai Lung fails to get the wisdom of the Dragon Scroll, even though Tai Lung is obviously focusing on the said scroll rather than his opponent. Po just takes being thrown around as good fun, while Tai Lung is obviously enraged by every setback, due to his overwhelming Pride. It can't be denied, however, that this trope is how Tai Lung views the final battle.
I Am What I Am: Yet again,"I'm not a big fat panda. I'm THE big fat panda!"
Idiot Hero: Po is of the kind-hearted, unexpectedly competent variety.
Technically the rhino guardsmen are actually pretty good shots, as shown when a single rhino guard is able to accurately hit a stick of dynamite on the ceiling of the prison. The problem is that Tai Lung is just that good.
Ineffectual Loner: Defied. Tigress decides on her own to face and defeat Tai Lung. But before she leaves the town, the four other Furious show up and say they'll go with her, rather than trying to dissuade her from it.
Insult Backfire: Tai Lung growls after being thrashed by Po, "You can't defeat me! You're just a big... fat... panda!" Po retorts, "I'm not a big, fat panda. I'm THEbig, fat panda!"
Interspecies Adoption: Po's father is a goose. The first movie manages not to bring this up at all, aside from a Bait and Switch in which his dad sits him down to tell him an important secret... the secret ingredient in the soup. The sequel provides some backstory, though.
Interspecies Romance: Played with in the credits when Viper kisses the Po doll after it's tossed to her. Considering the fact that she was the nicest one to Po during his training, this definitely has some potential.
Po: *GASP!* The Wuxi Finger Hold! Shifu: Oh you know this hold?
Repeated at the end by Po against Tai Lung.
Jerkass: Master Shifu definitely fits this for most of the movie, mistreating his disciples (yes, all of them, just look at his first appearance) and obstinately refusing to trust Oogway's judgment. Also, Tigress towards Po; even when her colleagues have warmed to him, recognizing his undeniable courage and resolve, she remains almost cruelly determined to shoot him down at every opportunity for much of the movie. By the film's end, both become Jerks With Hearts Of Gold, with a particular emphasis on "heart of gold."
Killed Off for Real: Downplayed for Oogway who ascends but has a brief apperance in the series. Tai Lung has never been truly confirmed whether he died or not. Likewise, Vachir and his rhino guards are also never confirmed if they died or not during Tai Lung's escape, but we do see at least one rhino moving after Tai Lung blows them out the prison's doors with dynamite.
Lightning Reveal: Doesn't even involve darkness. Master Shifu waits for Tai Lung on the stairs to the Jade Palace. Dramatic Thunder sounds and Shifu closes his eyes for a moment against the lightning. When he opens them, Tail Lung is standing before him having run up the thousand-odd steps without even appearing out of breath.
Made of Iron: The whole cast survives a lot of punishment but it's justisfied with Po. He can survive a whole mess of stuff, up to and including a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Tai Lung without so much as a broken bone. It's all the fur and fat.
Medium Blending: The opening and ending credits are 2D. The second film expands the concept, so several flashbacks and memories are in 2D, and the opening credits seem to be loosely based on Indian shadow puppetry.
Mentor Occupational Hazard: Played straight for Oogway, who ascends and leaves Shifu in his place, and deliciously subverted for Shifu himself.
Meteor Move: Tai Lung pulls off two of these while still airborne: first he kicks Po to the ground with enough force to create a small crater, then deepens said crater by flipping upside down and driving his fists into his fallen opponent.
Miniature Senior Citizens: Epic Kung Fu mastery aside, Master Shifu is tiny. Justified, given he's a red panda (also known as lesser panda). They're smaller than raccoons indeed, approximately the size of a big male cat.
Missing Mom: Po's adoptive father doesn't seem to be married.
]] or Tigress despite the drastic differences in body mass; kung fu skill is all that matters, even when you're holding up a rope bridge with five people standing on it. Averted with Tai Lung, however, who's considered by all of them to be the strongest fighter around and is indeed very well-muscled.
Never Say "Die": Surprisingly averted for a PG movie. The Furious Five are surprised that Tai Lung didn't kill them when he defeated them, they consider his killing Shifu to be inevitable, and Po thinks Shifu has died (and is corrected) when he closes his eyes after the battle.
Never Trust a Trailer: It's an action/comedy, but the trailer puts more emphasis on the "comedy" than the actual movie does.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Shifu allowing Tai Lung to be released, since if not for his paranoia, he wouldn't have sent Zeng to double check his holdings and allowed Tai Lung the feather he needed to escape. However he only did that because Oogway said Tai Lung would escape, therefore it could be considered Oogway's fault. Also counts as Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
Oblivious Adoption and The Unreveal: "Dad, sometimes I find it hard to believe I'm your son." "It's time to tell you something I should have long ago - The Secret Ingredient of my Secret Ingredient Soup!"
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In-universe example: the tournament to choose the Dragon Warrior is only barely seen by both the audience AND the protagonist.
One-Man Army: Tai Lung escaping from prison. To start, he unlocks the contraption and chains that bind him—a tortoise shell that was using pressure-point bindings—then dodges hundreds of arrows, ballista bolts and explosions. Then when they try to drop the entire section he was on into an abyss, Tai Lung climbs up falling debris to get to the top. Lastly, he fights his way past one thousand rhino guards (though some managed to get knocked out by explosions) and escapes. In short, he manages to escape a prison custom-built to hold a prisoner with his level of power, being the only prisoner in said place.... with a feather.
Shifu:Wow. It is as Oogway foretold: you are the Dragon Warrior. You have brought peace to this valley. And to me. Thank you. Thank you, Po. Thank you... Po:No! Master! No, no, no! Don't die, Shifu. Please... Shifu:I'm not dying, you idiot! Uh... Dragon Warrior. I am simply... at peace.
Pintsized Powerhouse: Mantis, who can hold up a rope bridge with Tai Lung AND three of his teammates on it.
Portmanteau Couple Name: The popular (potential) romantic pairing of Po and Tigress has been called by fans "Po Ti" or "Ti Po". It's also occasionally been called Pogress.
There's also Tai Lung/Tigress, which is... Taigress.
Pressure Point: One of Mantis' and Tai Lung's favorite attacks. Oogway uses this to initially stop Tai Lung in a flashback.
Priceless Ming Vase: Guess who breaks one. Deliciously inverted as the object is said to hold the "souls of 1000 warriors". When Po breaks it, the ghostly sounds of souls lamenting can be heard, as well as anytime the pieces are disturbed. Though Shifu was so pissed off that Po was chosen, that the pot breaking was the least of his concerns.
Commander Vachir, who runs Tai Lung's prison. If he had heard Shifu's message and said "Oh, okay. I'll get right on that", nothing would have happened. Instead, Vachir took it as a slight, and decided to imprint the sheer extreme of the prison on the poor goose, and inadvertently gave Tai Lung his magic feather. And that turned out badly.
Tigress isn't entirely free of this flaw; much of her treatment of Po stems from her pride being wounded over the fact that he was chosen over her. It also partially leads her to seek out and confront Tai Lung herself, a confrontation that she and her friends prove ultimately outmatched for. Ironically, it was also Pride (Tai Lung's) that saved their ass since Tai Lung wanted to rub it in (probably to Shifu) by letting them go defeated but alive to show how Badass he was and how small a threat the Furious Five (the students of Shifu after him) was compared to his awesome self. As well as Po landed right between her and Oogway so she logically assumed, if Po hadn't landed there, Oogway would have been pointing at her. Which she confronts Oogway about. "You were about to point at me, weren't you Master Oogway?"
In the Sequel Lord Shen went out and killed all the pandas just because he heard one would defeat him. This gets him exiled by his parents. He does not take it well
Race Name Basis: Shifu calls Po "Panda" almost every time they speak. Tigress, Viper, Crane, Mantis, and Monkey are only ever referred to as such. However, as mentioned above, they might have also had true names at one point, but adopted their species name because of the same reason.
Rage Against the Mentor: Tai Lung's quest to return to the Jade Palace is to do this and then take the Dragon Scroll.
Rain of Arrows: When Tai Lung is escaping prison, the guards use this to try and stop him.
Redemption Rejection: When Shifu apologizes to Tai Lung, telling him that he had always been proud of him, and that pride was what blinded him to what he was becoming, Tai Lung looks genuinely affected... and then the rage returns to his face and he says that he isn't here for apologies: he just wants the Dragon Scroll. That's when the audience realizes that he is truly beyond redemption. It's definitely a tragic moment.
Replacement Goldfish: Tigress feels overshadowed by Tai Lung, and incapable of taking the place he supposedly had in Shifu's heart. As Secrets of the Furious Five reveal, she was an orphan adopted by Shifu as well, making her Tai Lung's replacement in all aspects. She's wrong at least in the sense that Shifu did a very poor job of expressing his love and approval in time to Tai Lung as well.
Ridiculously Cute Critter: Baby Tai Lung and young Tigress and Po. Also every bunny in the entire franchise. The more you look at them throughout the movies, specials and show, the cuter they seem to get. Even their names are adorable "Wu Hop"
Right Behind Me: "If you train hard, one day you'll have ears as big as mine..."
Right Makes Might: More like confidence makes might. Those martial artists who have greater belief in themselves win unfailingly and those who lose are first defeated by a sense of their own inferiority/guilt/confusion before the exchange of punches makes their loss official. Perhaps not-coincidentially, this idea appears in The Art of War.
Running Gag: Po's difficulty climbing the long stairway to the temple and falling down it.
Shell Game: Used for a Visual Gag during the dumpling fight. Shifu hides a dumpling under an overturned bowl, then twirls the three bowls at blinding speed using his chopsticks. Po upturns the right bowl to free the dumpling. Later during his climatic fight with Tai Lung, Po does the same trick while standing on a pair of bamboo poles, with the Dragon Scroll hidden amongst some woks.
Viper seems rather friendly with Po, and she kissed a doll of him on the cheek in the (non-canon) credits sequence. She even wrapped the doll in a ribbon and cradled it as she kissed it. Given that she's the most compassionate of the five, it could be a "Motherly Love" kind of thing.
The chunk of wood Po tried to pick up as a souvenir, after Tigress's stunt, was named the Love Chunk by some producers. Make of that what you will.
Sit On The Camera: In a slow motion scene with Po sits on Tai Lung while they're falling down stairs.
Shoo Out the Clowns: Inverted for the final battle. After Shifu and Tai Lung's dark and serious duel in the rain, the sun rises and Po appears at the top of the steps, panting for air. That's when the realFinal Battle begins, demonstrating that a story's climax can be hilarious and awesome at the same time.
The Dragon Scroll (a blank, reflective piece of paper) is almost identical to the Book of Enlightenment in the 1978 film Circle Of Iron (which was co-written by Bruce Lee and James Coburn of all people).
The Furious Five share their name with one of the earliest hip-hop groups, Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five.
After Tai Lung discovers that the Dragon Scroll is blank, in the ensuing fight Po stepped on Tai Lung's feet after blocking his attacks. This is a nod to Kung Fu Hustle where Sing stomped on the baddies's feets. A lot.
Shown Their Work: The producers got ancient China depicted so well that the Chinese themselves had official conferences to explore why they can't make animated films about themselves like this.
Want to know how much work the creators showed? Check this clever little tidbit: the specific style of Kung Fu used by each character, with the specific exceptions of Oogway and Shifu, match their species. Tigress uses Tiger-style Kung Fu, Monkey uses Monkey-style Kung Fu, and so on. This seems a little obvious especially during the intial training scene in the "danger room." As each character shows their style, a Freeze-Frame Bonus scene will depict the particular animal in the stance that determines that style. For example, Monkey flies through a hoop in a straight leg kick that exactly matches how the flying kick in Monkey style should look. This is especially notable in Tigress's montage. Every stance is solid, every attack made with maximum power.
When Tai Lung berates Shifu, he says he "trained until [his] bones cracked!" This is not an exaggeration; some martial artists hit things until their bones crack, and then the cracks fill up with bone, making them harder overall. This is not recommended for casual practitioners.
In the second film, Lord Shen is a white peacock with red markings on his feathers. White is the color of death in Asian cultures, "shen" can be read as "flame" in Chinese, and in the Wu Xing red and white are the colors of fire and metal. The filmmakers clearly knew their Chinese philosophy too.
In the final battle, Po uses Dragon Style, fitting with his "Dragon Warrior" status. This style uses stances and attacks from all of the other animals. Po uses Tigress-style punches, Mantis-like dodges (when possible) and Monkey-like agility. Dragon style also uses a lot of low-high-low style attacks to keep opponents off balance, as the Dragon is thought to be masters of all elements (i.e., the sea, or low attacks to the legs and feet, coupled with the heavens, or high attacks to the head.)
Po, seconds before being Meteor Move-d by Tai Lung. Not stones, but flying fragments.
The Stinger: After a ton of montages showing the characters Character Development, the final shot of the film after the credits is Po and Shifu sharing a quiet moment with some dumplings - and a peach tree beginning to grow where Shifu and Oogway had buried the pit.
Supreme Chef: According to the Furious Five (sans Tigress of course, who appears to be eating tofu instead) Po makes "amazing" noodle soup.
Sweet and Sour Grapes: Master Shifu administers a kung fu test during a meal where he challenges the glutton Po to steal the last steamed bun from him. When Po finally manages to get the bun, he shrugs and tosses it back. "I'm not hungry." This is the best outcome because not only has his kung fu skill advanced but he has conquered his tendency to gorge when he is upset.
This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Played with. Oogway says only the Dragon Warrior (i.e. Po) can defeat Tai Lung but no one else believes this. Later Shifu changes his mind and tells the Furious Five not to fight Tai Lung. They ignore him and fight him anyways. Later Shifu himself tries fighting him. Ultimately, Po does fight Tai Lung by himself but only because everyone else has already tried.
Too Kinky to Torture: In a sense. While Po is never tortured per se, Shifu does put him through Training from Hell to get him to quit. Po enjoys learning kung fu and being around the Furious Five enough that he endures the training.
Villainous Breakdown: Tai Lung's composure really starts to fall apart once he sees the Dragon Scroll he so coveted. Instead of fighting intelligently and using the environment to his advantage, like he did in every fight before, he single-mindedly pursues the scroll, losing more and more of his cool, as Po starts to give him problems. After he obtains the Dragon Scroll and finds it to be blank, he suffers from this full out, and it just gets more intense after he discovers his pressure point technique to be ineffectual against Po, causing him to throw all semblance of strategy and martial arts mastery out the window, and even after getting beaten and barely able to get up and stumble around, he just keeps rambling and trying to fight back.
Visual Pun: As part of his Calling the Old Man Out Tai Lung asks Shifu who was it that told him he could be the Dragon Warrior and trained him brutally for that purpose. Shifu, while guarding from a sword attack, sees his reflection.
Shifu: When you focus on kung fu, when you really concentrate... you stink. But perhaps that is my fault. I cannot train you the way I have trained the Five. I now see that the way to get through to you is, with this. (pulls out a bowl of dumplings) Po: Oh great, 'cause I am hungry! Shifu:(laughs and pulls the bowl away) Good. When you have been trained, you may eat.
Weapon Twirling: Master Shifu twirls his chopsticks before his awesome fight with Po for the last dumpling.
"Well Done, Son" Guy: No actual biological sons, but if you count adopted examples and master/student relationships, there are several. Shifu to Oogway. Tigress, Po, and Tai Lung (each in different ways) to Shifu. Po even wants to prove himself to Ping in the sense that he can be more than a good cook.
Wisdom from the Gutter: As it turns out, someone other than Master Oogway knew the secret of the Dragon Scroll all along. Who? Po's noodles cook father Mr. Ping, who applied the same principle to his "secret ingredient" soup.
Wok Fu: At the end, Tai Lung throws Po into an empty restaurant during the final battle, and as a result the panda throws several woks at the snow leopard, puts the Dragon Scroll under one of them, and swaps them around so that Tai Lung will get the wrong one.
You Are Better Than You Think You Are: When Shifu at the Pool of Sacred Tears asks Po if he wants to learn kung fu, his response to the panda impassioned "Yes!" says that he knows Po can be trained after all.
You Are Not Ready: Oogway on Tai Lung receiving the Dragon Scroll, though it's implied Oogway felt Tai Lung would never be ready.
You Can't Fight Fate: Played with. Both films contain some sort of prophecy that comes true, but it only comes true specifically because people go out of their way to stop it from doing so. Shifu sends Zheng to deliver a message to Chorh-Gom Prison and which incidentally provided Tai Long a lockpick. Then Shen by attempting to wipe out the pandas thereby causing Po's parents to send him off to Mr. Ping where he would eventually be trained by Shifu. Thus, destiny is implied to have come about specifically because people tried to defy it. This is noted by Oogway, who mutters "one often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it" when Shifu sends Zheng off.
"One touch of his ivory tips could fell fifteen gorilla warriors! ...And a mid-size crocodile."
Art Shift: 3D animation is used for the present day and 2D animation for the backstories of the Furious Five.
Banana Peel: Monkey attempted this on Oogway, but the turtle manages to get past them all.
Cats Are Mean: Averted in the Crane story, where Mei Ling, a female cat, is a true blue friend who is vital in starting his martial arts calling.
Completely Missing the Point: All the bunny kids in Po's class want to learn about kung fu is the "kicking butt" part; subverted by the end when it turns out they did listen to the message of Po's stories.
Darkest Hour: More precisely, darkest seconds in Crane's with him giving up his dream of entering the martial arts academy when his application is mocked. It ends the instant he stumbles into the entrance test room and finds the confidence to pass with the very qualities for which he was mocked.
Defeat by Modesty: Monkey pulled off the belt strings of all the tough guys sent to drive him out, causing them to drop their pants and leave in shame.
The reason he did this? He was subjected to his pants dropping when he was younger; the best way for people to be humiliated would be how he was.
Defeat Means Friendship: Oogway and Monkey. That and Oogway saving his life from being crushed by a giant wooden pillar.
Orphanage of Fear: Bao Gu, where Tigress was raised and inadvertently terrorized because of her abilities as an apex predator and her temper of being so rejected. However, Master Shifu is able to fix those problems.
Playing Possum: Mantis uses this to trick the crocodile bandits into opening the cage he was trapped in.
Shown Their Work: In the sense that the producers make it clear in this short that "kung fu", when it only refers to martial arts, is really a Western misnomer when its true meaning is "Excellence of Self."
Fancy Dinner: Po has to host one for the all the Kung Fu masters when he'd rather be cooking with his dad. Mind you, Po tried to compromise by trying to get his dad to cook for it.
Food Porn: Po is tasked to pick the best chef in China, and also do some cooking himself.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: The same radish basket that plays an important part in the sequel is not in the first movie, but is present in the Holiday special, in the same location Mr. Ping pulls it out from in the second movie.
Placebo Eureka Moment: Po mumbles to a guard beside him on how to deal with his conundrum, but then realizes the solution and thanks the guard... even though the guard didn't really do anything.
Pure Is Not Good: Perfection is nice, but it's also boring and insanely stressful.
Shown Their Work: The Winter Feast resembles the traditional Chinese festival of Dong Zhi, which holds many parallels to both Thanksgiving and Christmas, such as family gatherings and feasting to celebrate the Winter Solstice.