YMMV / Tarzan

The books and general franchise

  • Audience-Coloring Adaptation:
    • The Weissmuller films made Jane (and her father) British instead of American, and later films followed suit including the Disney version, which further cemented this in viewers' minds. This resulted in many people being surprised when The Legend of Tarzan portrayed Jane as an American again. It was previously only done in Greystoke.
    • The Weissmuller films are also responsible for the popular image of Tarzan speaking in Hulk Speak.
  • Fair for Its Day: The books are rife with Burroughs' well-meant ethnocentricity and sexism. Burroughs repeatedly mentions the vicious and exploitative treatment the African natives received at the hands of white men, and attributes at least part of their bloodthirst to an understandable desire for revenge. He usually finds something to praise about his various ethnic characters, even if it might be in a way that would be extremely offensive today. Jane may not be an Action Girl (let's not be ridiculous!), but she's intelligent and remains level-headed no matter how dire the emergency.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Tarzan is an icon of pop culture worldwide.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: A species of ape has been discovered in the Bili Forest of the Congo Republic that is a subspecies of chimpanzee with many gorilla-like behaviors — much like how Burroughs' Mangani mix traits of those same apes with some primitive human.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: When Tarzan first lets loose his signature yell you know the awesomeness has only begun. The best known version from the Johnny Weissmuller films was a combination of two chorus singers and a hog caller. For the Disney version, BRIAN BLESSED performed the yell.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Thanks to the Disneyfied animated adaptations, the books are sometimes mistaken for being child-friendly jungle adventure stories. In reality, Burroughs' novels present a fair amount of violence, racist and sexist content, and occasionally even Gorny torture scenes.

The Disney film

  • Accidental Innuendo: In the song "Strangers Like Me", a lyrics goes "Why do I have/This growing need to be beside her?" Then again, the entirety of the song could be considered a metaphor for Tarzan's own romantic awakening.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Did Kerchak not accept Tarzan for so long because he was different, or because he never got over the death of his first son?
    • Did Terk not want Tarzan hanging around with her and the other gorilla children because she was embarrassed by him, or because she knew they didn't like him and didn't want him to feel like any more of an outcast than he already did?
  • Audience-Coloring Adaptation: While hardly anyone would think Disney invented Tarzan, the film has had an impact on the public perception of the story. For instance, many people were shocked when The Legend of Tarzan showed Tarzan's father being killed by the apes. Again, this comes from the books and the only movie to show it prior was Greystoke. The Legend of Tarzan also notes that the apes are not peaceful gorillas, like the Disney film, but savage "Mangani", which Burroughs made up.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: "Trashing the Camp." Other than letting Jane learn that Tarzan is part of the gorilla community, all the scene does is show off a cool scat jam written by Phil Collins. The commentary reveals that the directors considered cutting it several times, but it was a big hit with kids in the test audiences, so it was kept in.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Clayton, Kala and Professor Porter are all immensely memorable characters.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • It may just be a coincidence, but Tantor freaks out when a skull is bounced between his tusks in "Trashin' the Camp"; elephants are the only other animal besides humans who recognize bones.
    • Another one that's likely unintentional, but Tarzan has no idea what Jane is doing when she kisses him. Mouth-to-mouth kissing is virtually unheard of in the animal world, outside of humans.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Thanks in no small part to the fact that the hugely popular Ákos Kovács did the songs for the Hungarian dub of the movie, this film's music is immensely popular in Hungary, enough so that Ákos regularly performs them at mainstream concerts.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Kerchak's death has been compared to the death of Harambe, a gorilla from the Cincinnati Zoo, in 2016.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Applicable to the above due to Harambe becoming a viral joke.
    • Terk is forced to dress up like Jane, which Tantor compliments her on. In an episode of the TV series, Tantor himself would have to crossdress as a distraction.
  • Moe: The design Disney used for Jane evokes a protective instinct - but then, this is one of literature's archetypal Damsel in Distress characters.
    • Tantor as a calf as well, especially since his voice actor was too young to read his lines.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Clayton from the Disney version crosses this when he shoots Kerchak, Tarzan's adoptive father, then, much like Gaston, tries to kill Tarzan after Tarzan spares him, resulting in a gruesome Karmic Death afterward.
  • No Problem with Licensed Games: The PSX/N64 game is actually really fun platformer with various difficulty settings based on the levels and it's actually quite complete. The version for GBC is also really good, having gameplay similar to that of the Donkey Kong Country games.
  • Obvious Judas: Was anyone really surprised when Clayton, the hunter turned out to be evil?
  • Signature Scene: The shot where Tarzan "surfs" across the jungle foliage at the end of the "Son of Man" sequence.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Sabor and Terk, both of whom are female, though Terk was apparently based off a male character. It doesn't help that in the stage musical Terk is now male. Terk is at least alleviated a little when you know she was voiced by a woman, but Sabor doesn't even have a voice to go by. Kingdom Hearts even falsely labelled her as a male. The animated series lampshades this and makes it something of a Running Gag.
  • Vindicated by Cable: Not to the extent of The Emperor's New Groove but it's getting there. It's slowly been recognized over the years as one of Disney's most underrated films, helped also by its soundtrack.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The hand-drawn animation is beautifully blended with CGI backgrounds in several shots, some of which move in strong perspective and constantly change angles.
  • The Woobie: Kala. One of her first scenes involves her losing her child! She then has to watch her adoptive son struggle to be accepted by the other gorillas and by her mate Kerchak. Then, at the end of the movie, she loses Kerchak too.