The Legend of Tarzan is a Disney show starring the main cast from the movieTarzan. It takes place after the events of the film; Jane and Tarzan live in the jungle as husband and wife, along with his gorilla pack and her scientist father. Hijinks ensue.It adapted several characters and locations from other original Tarzan books and Edgar Rice Burroughs material such as Queen La and the hidden dinosaur world of Pellucidar. An episode even brought Burroughs himself into the action.
(listening on his self-built radio, trying to get a cricket match, as Jane had taken over the comms system from a war airplane) "Jane? What are you doing at the cricket finals?"
Adaptation Distillation: Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote a lot of Tarzan books (25!), so elements of several were occasionally combined into single stories:
Queen La (a recurring antagonist in both the books and the show) is in control of an army of Leopard Men, who are very loosely based on the villains of Tarzan and the Leopard Men- although, the novel's characters were cannibalistic humans, not literal leopard-men.
In the book, Kerchak is the villainous leader of the apes (not gorillas like in the Disney version but fictional "Mangani") who challenges Tarzan and loses, while Tublat is Kala's benevolent mate who resents Tarzan, but doesn't outright hate him. The original movie combined the two (keeping Kerchak as the leader of the tribe, but also filling Tublat's role as Kala's mate who passively dislikes Tarzan), so the series has a character named Tublat who fills the original Kerchak's role.
Averted in one episode, which features a cameo appearance by Theodore Roosevelt of all people.
Anachronism Stew: The original film was set in the 1880s, but 'Dumont's Trading Post' is established in 1912, Teddy Roosevelt shows up after his presidency (1901-09) and "Tarzan and the Flying Ace" is implied to be taking place during World War One. And Jane is able to identify Velociraptor, a dinosaur genus described in 1923. It's the easiest to assume that the series retconned the original movie's time period to the 1910-s.
Animal Talk: Subverted. Only gorillas, elephants and some monkeys seem to be talking in a language the audience hears as English. Baboons, leopards, rhinos and other animals communicate with growls, grunts and roars. The only three people who Speak Fluent Animal are Tarzan, Jane and Professor Porter, but the latter two understand only gorillas and elephants.
Anti-Villain: The Leopard Men. As Jane discovered in "Leopard Men Rebellion", it was Queen La that transformed them from normal leopards into her humanoid henchmen. They kidnap Jane so that she becomes their queen and frees them.
Arbitrary Skepticism: Being a man of science, Professor Porter tends to be more concerned with finding scientific explanations to more mystical occurrences. Nevermind that he regularly converses with apes and an elephant, and has encountered thought-to-be-extinct dinosaurs. The trope is subverted in "The All-Seeing Elephant." After doubting the concept of such a being, he is reminded of how he doubted the all-too real Mangani.
Talking Animals and living dinosaurs are, at least, not supernatural. On the other hand, there's also an evil sorceress with an army of leopardmen...
American Accents: The actress Joan has a thick New York accent (and the director sighs with relief that movies don't have sound yet).
Arch-Enemy: Professor Philander with Professor Porter. Ironic, since in the original books the two were colleagues and friends.
Artistic License - Biology: Leopards are solitary animals, never moving around in packs. Also, gorillas don't catch termites with sticks (chimpanzees do) - though they do occasionally eat insects. Also, female African elephants have tusks like the males.
The Boxing Episode: Invoked in "Tarzan and One Punch Mullargan". Subverted, since Tarzan and One Punch never actually get to fight.
Butt Sticker: A running gag with Tantor sitting on Terk. For example, in the episode "Tarzan and the City of Opar", after Terk gets Tantor unstuck from a doorway in Opar, he crashes into a wall and crushes Terk.
Cat Folk: Leopardmen. Turns out they're just ordinary leopards.
Character Development: The episode "British Invasion" has Jane realise how much she has changed for the better since leaving England. And when her friends reappear again in "New Wave", Greenlie had previously been the most superficial and spoiled of the girls but has now fallen in love with a man her friends disapprove of and has become a lot more competent.
Chekhov's Gun: Played with in "Tarzan and the Jungle Madness." Tarzan and Jane return from vacation to find the animals have gone crazy. The two assume it's because of the strange new flowers growing all over the jungle, but that's just misdirection. The "madness" is happening because the animals hear ringing coming Dumont's new communications tower, which Tarzan and Jane saw upon their return from vacation.
Chekhov's Skill: From "Tublat's Revenge": "I can't protect the family. I am not even an ape. But I can swim!"
Clip Show: "Tarzan and the Visitor" contains lots of footage from previous episodes, where various characters (such as Philander, Dumont, Hugo and Hooft) tell Edgar Rice Burroughs about the way they met Tarzan.
Comedic Underwear Exposure: In "The British Invasion", Jane and her friends Eleanor, Greenley and Hazel remove their dresses to walk or run more easily in the jungle, and they're all in their white pantalets.
Compilation Movie: Tarzan & Jane. Three then-unaired episodes ("British Invasion," "The Volcanic Diamond Mine" and "The Flying Ace") were used with a framing story about Tarzan and Jane's wedding anniversary.
Also, Nikolas Rokoff in the show is less of the Rokoff from the original Tarzan books and much more like General Zaroff from the famous short story "The Most Dangerous Game".
Robert Canler, in the meanwhile, is actually closer to the original book's William Cecil Clayton than to its Robert Canler, who had a very small and shallow role.
Fangs Are Evil: Technically all gorillas have fangs, but Tublat's are much larger and more prominent than the rest of the cast. Justified in the case of Terk or Kala, since female gorillas have smaller fangs than males. Not so much in the case of Moyo or Kerchak.
Foreshadowing: Throughout the series' run several characters from America and Europe wind up coming across their patch of jungle and begin making a sort of shanty town and port. When there wound up being practically a town now, an episode ended with Kala silently worrying that their jungle may be lost to the new humans forever.
Find the Cure: Tarzan was poisoned by a spider in one episode, and Jane and Terk had to work together to get a flower which was needed to make the antidote.
In "The Gauntlet of Vengeance", Clayton's sister poisoned Tarzan and offered him a Sadistic Choice: save his friends, whom her valet had kidnapped, or go after an antidote she had hidden on top of a mountain. Subverted, as she still possessed the antidote.
Forgiveness: Even after Lady Waltham tries to kill Tarzan and his friends for the revenge of her brother Clayton, Tarzan still saves her from being killed by a pack of leopards. Realizing that someone like Tarzan could never have killed her brother, she ended her vendetta towards Tarzan.
Fluffy the Terrible: One episode had Terk and Tantor trying to name a leopard cub. Terk likes "Fluffy" and "Doodles" while Tantor likes "Bobo". The end up deciding on "Commandor Fluffy Paws".
In "Tarzan and the Lost Cub" the aforementioned leopard cub snatches Tarzan's loincloth at one point, to his embarrassment and Jane's amusement.
Jane's English friend Hazel is a bit of a Covert Pervert. When she first meets Tarzan, she describes him as "a savage wild man" in a tone of voice that sounds like she's turned on. When Eleanor suggests putting him back in his cagenote Assuming he was one of the Professor's experiements Hazel excitedly says "he's got a cage?" - not to mention her asking Jane if Tarzan has any brothers or cousins.
Girl of the Week: Tantor gets a girlfriend called Dania in "Tarzan and the Rift". They break up because she and Terk cannot get along. Terk also gets a boyfriend named Gobu in "Tarzan and the Enemy Within". He disappears in the following episodes. It's implied that he remained the leader of his own family, while Terk remained with Tarzan.
Green Aesop: Three episodes (one of them is technically a double episode) deal with environmental issues. In "Tarzan and the Outbreak", a group of loggers release a dangerous virus that was dormant in the soil. In "Tarzan and the Seeds of Destruction", Jane plants a vine which almost destroys the jungle's ecosystem. And in "Tarzan and the Poisoned River", a group of miners release poison in a river.
Honor Before Reason: In "Tarzan and the Challenger," Tarzan only loses the leadership challenge because he saved Moyo from a deadly fall. Tarzan nonetheless concedes because he agreed to the rules.
How Unscientific!: The original film's setting, while featuring Talking Animals and a hero capable of physically impossible actions, was more or less realistic. This carries on to the series... up to the episode "Tarzan and the City of Opar", which suddenly introduces magic in the form Queen La.
Hulk Speak: Averted with Tarzan. Lampshaded in "Tarzan and the Silver Screen", where the actor playing the Nature Hero in the Show Within a Show is supposed to talk like this, which really confuses Tarzan.
Limited Wardrobe: Somewhat justified, in that over half of the main characters don't really wear clothing, and it's rather difficult for the other two to get their hands on new clothes in the middle of the jungle. Lampshaded when Dumont opens his store. Jane complains about having only one change of clothing, then comes back from Dumont's with an elephant load of Paris fashions. Though her main outfit remains the same, occasionally she changes into others afterwards.
Literary Agent Hypothesis: Similar to The Little Mermaid TV series, an episode focuses around Edgar Rice Burroughs as a struggling author traveling to Africa searching for inspiration for a book after reading a news story about Tarzan.
Loveable Rogue: Hugo and Hooft. While they don't have a problem with scamming their friends, they really are good-natured. For example, in "Tarzan and the Prison Break", they have the chance to abandon Tarzan after escaping prison (he broke in to try and rescue them, and got imprisoned himself), but instead they return to save him from being executed. Also, the reason they're fugitives in the first place is because they refused to obey Colonel Staquait when he ordered them to burn down a village of innocent civilians.
Misplaced Wildlife: Mostly averted, but there is the odd mention of tarantulas, alligators or howler monkeys. The ring-tailed lemurs from the original movie also appear in the background, as well as blue-and-yellow macaws. And in one episode, Queen La turns Dumont intoa gibbon. Other episodes had giraffes, zebras, spotted hyenas, and what looked like a lioness, which are native to Africa but live in open grasslands rather than jungles.
My God, What Have I Done?: Clayton's sister has this reaction when she realizes that Tarzan isn't the monster she thought he was and that she's been doing the truly monsterous things in seeking her revenge.
"Mangani" is the name of the species that raised Tarzan in the books.
Also, to show that La is actually Atlantean, the animators decided to give her dark skin and white hair, like the characters in Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
Tarzan and co.'s brief adoption of a leopard cub could be considered a slight nod to Jad-bal-Jah, an orphaned lion Tarzan raises in the Burroughs novels and the 70's cartoon, Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle.
Tarzan has a brief confrontation with a Triceratops in "The Hidden World", which may be a reference to Tarzan the Terrible.
Naked People Are Funny: Professor Porter losing his clothes is always Played for Laughs. The apes are always shocked to see him that way, which is a bit of Fridge Logic when you realize they aren't wearing clothes themselves. Terk gives that a Hand Wave, saying that apes are beautiful so they don't need to cover themselves, unlike Porter.
Never My Fault: Professor Philander always blames Professor Porter for his own misfortunes.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "Leopard Men Rebellion" Tarzan helps Queen La get her staff back off the leopard men when they kidnap Jane. Turns out they kidnapped her to make her their queen so she could free them.
Obvious Stunt Double: There's an episode in which a director is filming a movie about a wild man raised by monkeys in the very jungle the protagonists live in. Since the actor playing the wild man is lousy at filming the action scenes, Tarzan ends up roped into being his stunt double. Not only do Tarzan and the actor look noting alike, but their outfits are different.
Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: La has a British accent but some American pronunciations seep through, particularly with the way she says Tarzan's name.
Pimped-Out Dress: Jane wears her yellow dress in four episodes: "Tarzan and the Silver Screen," "Tarzan and One Punch Mullargan," "Tarzan and the Prison Break," and "Tarzan and the British Invasion," while she wears her blue dress in "Tarzan and the Trading Post," and "Tarzan and the Eagle's Feather."
Primal Chest-Pound: Tarzan does it in the opening credits, as well as on various occasions in the show. Other characters such as Kerchak, Tublat, Moyo and even Professor Porter do it too.
Raptor Attack: As inspired by Jurassic Park. The raptors found in Pellucidar are far larger than real velociraptors (their size actually exceeding that of the Deinonychus, edging closer to Utahraptor territory) and stronger (they easily overpower Tarzan and a single one of them makes prey of a leopard). They are also featherless and their necks are incredibly long. It could however be argued that all these features were evolved over millions of years in Pellucidar. The series takes place before the first velociraptor fossil was found and named, and yet Jane seemed to know what they are called at a glance..
Rogues Gallery: The most recurring foes are Tublat, Professor Philander and Queen La. Other villains appearing in more than one episode are Mabaya the rogue elephant, Sheeta and Nuru the black panthers, Niels and Merkus the diamond miners, and Colonel Staquait. The latter appears along with Tublat and La in the Rogues Gallery montage part of the show's intro.
Save the Villain: Tarzan saves Tublat from a pair of poachers, then the very same poachers from Tublat, in the episode "Caged Fury".
Shout-Out: In "The All Seeing Elephant" Tantor falls off a cliff and thanks to trees gets launched into the air. At one point Tarzan and Jane see him fly by and Jane comments:
Jane wears a Fur Bikini as a swimsuit in "Tarzan and the Lost Cub". She also wears La's clothes in two episodes.
Styrofoam Rocks: Used in-universe in an episode involving movie filming. Tarzan freaks out when he sees a seemingly helpless actress about to be crushed by an avalanche, and rushes to save her. However, the actors show him after the scene that the boulders were actually fake ones that are incredibly light.
Those Two Guys: Flynt and Mungo for the gorillas, Hugo and Hooft for the humans.
Terrible Ticking: In one episode, Tarzan's animal friends go crazy, complete with the Madness Mantra "Stop the ringing!" Turns out the local trading post had installed a long-range radio tower, and something in the equipment was generating an ultrasonic noise that was doing this to Tantor, Terk, and the rest. The humans couldn't hear it, but it was driving the animals nuts for miles.
Translation Convention: Tantor and Terk are shown as speaking English with each other and with Tarzan, Jane, and Professor Porter, but several episodes make it very clear that Tarzan et. al. speak their languages. In one episode, Jane has difficulties because her Baboon is a bit rusty.
Ungrateful Bastard: Tublat, after Tarzan saved him from poachers. Tarzan never even expected a "thanks" from him.