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Fridge / Tarzan

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As a Fridge subpage, all spoilers are unmarked as per policy. You Have Been Warned.

Fridge Brilliance

  • In Disney's Tarzan, Professor Porter says that Rudyard Kipling would be delighted to meet Tarzan; the reason why is obvious. Plus, that's actually a Shout-Out. Kipling was amused by all the takeoffs on his work, but ERB's most of all. He said it "jazzed" the original motif.
  • It wasn't until the latter half of the 20th century that the public image of "Killer Gorillas" was debunked by the works of George Schaller and Dian Fossey. In the in the early half of that same century, Jane and her Father are going on an expedition to prove this wrong. This is meant to foreshadow that they'll remain in Africa, since they never returned to civilization to share their findings on how Gorillas are not man-eaters.
  • Tarzan can communicate freely with gorillas, elephants, baboons and other jungle animals, which are conveniently anthropomorphized and makes the movie a talking animal picture. At first glance, this makes the fact that Sabor is totally inhuman and true to her nature seem somewhat strange. However, it makes perfect sense considering leopards would be an animal that Tarzan would not get chummy enough with to learn their language.
    • However, you do hear him imitate her a couple of times - he is talking to her, but what he's saying is leopard battle-talk because this is the only situation he seems to have been in with leopards - it doesn't translate to ape.
    • Somewhat undone in the cartoon series, where Jane finds an orphaned leopard cub and Tarzan is both wary of his previous leopard encounters and unfairly prejudiced against like Kerchak was with him. They end up returning the cub to its mother and she, in turn, keeps the other leopards in her territory from laying a paw on them and even brings her cub back for a friendly visit at the end of that particular episode.
  • In The Legend of Tarzan, Queen La is for some reason depicted with tanned skin and white hair. Some Arc Welding that never actually got on the air was going to give her an Atlantean heritage, and therefore she looks like the Atlanteans from Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
  • In the original books, Tarzan and Clayton were relatives. Now notice their similiar facial structures, particularly the jutting chins.
    • Could also be considered a minor case of fridge horror, seeing as they're family, fighting each other to the death.
  • Tarzan can mimic things like an elephant, Clayton's voice and a gunshot so brilliantly because of his acquired affinity for mimicry, having had to learn a good deal of it to communicate with the various animals of the African coast.
  • At one point during his youth, when floundering in the water, he 'waves' at the other young gorillas with one of his feet, as a gorilla would.
  • Why did Tantor look so freaked out by that skull in Trashin' the Camp, despite presumably never seeing one before? Because elephants can recognize bones easily, including those of humans. So to Tantor, the sight of a human/ape-like skull gives him the impression that something resembling one of his friends may have died there.
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  • After Kala comforts him, a young Tarzan vows to be "the best ape ever." Humans are apes, so mission accomplished.
  • In the prologue, Terk starts warming up to Baby!Tarzan when he starts playing with her hair. He was essentially grooming her, which is how social primates bond with each other.
  • Tarzan is seriously lucky he was found by a mother who had lost her newborn baby. When his biological mother died, she couldn't nurse him anymore, and Kala probably still had a lot of milk when she lost her biological baby, which she gave to Tarzan instead.
  • "Son of Man" contains the line "Someday you'll walk tall with pride". This isn't just a reference to Tarzan aging from a short child to a tall adult, it's a reference to Tarzan learning that he is a human and starting to walk upright, rather than on all fours like a gorilla.
  • In the Disney film, Tarzan simply killing Sabor isn't what earned him Kerchak's initial respect and care. It was the fact that Tarzan not only helped Kerchak protect their family, he unknowingly avenged the death of Kerchak's infant son, which Kerchak himself nearly failed in doing, that turned their relationship around.

Fridge Horror

  • Some people suspect that Sabor is more interested in killing her prey then eating it; partially because Tarzan's dead parents' bodies are still on the floor when she hunts down Kala and baby Tarzan. However, Sabor might've seen baby Tarzan as one of her kills; considering he's defenseless and basically immobile. Tomorrow's dinner in the fridge, if you will. That would mean that Kala was *stealing* her meal. Sabor's not ignoring her former kills, she's fighting for her catch!
  • At the start of the film we see Tarzan's father lowering the last lifeboat into the water with his wife and baby inside, the ship is on fire and sinking. It's a large ship that must have a large crew to match it yet it looks like the only survivors are the Greystokes. What happened to the rest of the crew?
    • In the original book it was a mutiny that left Tarzan's parents abandoned. It's not impossible that pirates looted much of the ship and then burned it.
  • In the final battle between Clayton and Tarzan, Tarzan instantly sees that Clayton is about to accidentally hang himself with the vines. To be able to recognize it instantly, either Tarzan has already seen some jungle animal (possibly a sentient one) hang himself before, which is horrifying, or an awkward discussion of death penalties was omitted in the montage where the Porters teach him about human society.
    • Or he just quickly deduced that someone falling down with a vine around their neck would suffocate them. Tarzan is implied to be exceptionally intelligent and good at deduction, so it's not unreasonable to think he could quickly put the two and two together.
  • In Disney's Tarzan, at the end of the movie, after Kerchak's acceptance of Tarzan as his son, Tarzan becomes the new leader of the gorillas, announcing it to all the characters by hitting his chest repeatedly, typical gorilla demonstration of power... nothing is bad with that... unless of course you know that the Leader's responsibilities are not only of protecting the group and guide them... but there's also the reproductive function of the Silverback who have the exclusive breeding rights to all the females. In reality, there are gorilla troops with more than one silverback in charge so... maybe Tarzan delegated that particular task to some male gorilla friend, but still...
    • It's not squick, but more like tragic if he didn't give that task to a male gorilla. He probably wouldn't try to reproduce with gorillas (in real life, he couldn't). His group will either begin to die off with no offspring or go off and look for males.
    • The gorillas seemed to understand that Tarzan isn't quite the same (read: an entirely different species) than them. They probably would understand that he would only possibly be breeding with Jane, if anyone.
    • In some gorilla groups there are also Blackback males - not fully grown, but already sexually mature males, usually the dominant Silverback's sons; occasionally they can also mate with the females. Maybe in Tarzan's group the Blackbacks (there's a handful of them, like Terk's buddies Flynt and Mungo) fulfill the reproductive function entirely.
    • Maybe Kago and Uto from the prequel would get that role?
    • Other males get no chance to breed because the Silverback actively warns them off if they display interest in the females. If Tarzan makes no effort to monopolize the females for himself, then the other males will be free to mate. To maintain his power and the strength of the group, he would only allow loyal and healthy males to mate.
    • At least in the TV series, there is a young silverback named Moyo who challenges Tarzan for leadership once. Although Tarzan remains the leader of the family, Moyo can still be the father of the young ones.
  • If Kala never found Tarzan when he was a baby, he would have starved to death or been eaten by Sabor.
  • When Kerchak and Kala watched their baby being eaten alive while helplessly screaming in fear and pain...
    • Well, listened, more like.
  • In the final battle scene, a hunter starts menacing Jane with a bludgeon, and she is saved by the baboon pack that stole her boot earlier in the film. Funny and all, yeah. But there was a reason the Romans would use baboons in the arenas. If the baboons did catch the hunter when they ran to him... Well... You get that. Maybe too much for a Punch-Clock Villain.
  • Tarzan's parent's bodies are just left there in the treehouse to rot.
    • Actually, I believe that large cats like Sabor have a tendency of taking their kills back to their den to eat at their leisure. Not that that particular thought is any more pleasant, but still.
    • Furthermore, it wouldn't be a stretch to believe their vermin-stripped skeletons would be lying there when Tarzan returns decades later.
      • Considering the fact that the story occurs in the Congo, the average temperature is 24.6 °C. This means that it would take 2 months for the parents bodies to completely decompose. Bones are largely a fibrous matrix of collagen fibres, impregnated with calcium phosphate. In warm, damp environments, bacteria and fungi will attack the collagen protein and the skeleton will crumble over the course of a few years. Depending on a variety of conditions (animal predation, temperature, acidity of soil, exposure to air, etc.), your skeleton could be preserved for many years or almost completely decay in as little as 1 year. If a body is exposed to water, insects, open air, or highly acidic soil, then bacteria and fungi will be able to invade that porous network, and seek out the proteins of the collagen within the bones, which causes those bones to break down and eventually crumble to dust! In a well ventilated area like the treehouse means that the skeleton would breakdown into nothing but clothes remnants. Basically, there are no bodies when Tarzan returns to the treehouse, just dust. And even then, Tarzan is able to point out where their bodies were in an episode of The Legend of Tarzan, much to the horror of Jane's friends from England.
  • Clayton, as well as his group of hunters, would have gladly raped Jane if given the chance... Did anyone notice how gleeful the hunters who grabbed her upon entering the ship were? And not only that, but the looks they were all giving her from that scene on?
    • Probably reading more into that than was actually there. Clayton's ruthless and greedy but he's not murderous until he gets pretty angry. His orders were to lock Tarzan and the Porters up, not pitch the men overboard so they could have their way with the girl.

Fridge Logic

  • Why doesn't Tarzan have any facial hair?
    • As the Disney film doesn't touch on the subject, we could reasonably fall back to the book's explanation. In the original novel, Tarzan notices from illustrations in books in his parents' cabin that many "civilized" men are clean-shaven. Wishing to distinguish himself from the hairy apes, he learns to shave using a knife he stole from a member of a local human tribe.
      • Except because in the movie he never finds his father's books or even the tree cabin until he's an adult.
      • It could be for the very opposite reason. While gorillas have tons of fur, including on their chin, it looks different compared to a human's mustache or beard. Fur on the underjaw vs hair surrounding the mouth. If anything, a gorilla's facial hair makes the chin look smaller, while a human's makes the chin look bigger.
    • Tarzan's mentioned to only be 20 years old, some teenagers can't grow facial or body; and it wouldn't be a stretch that he may have inherited his mother's genes when it came to hair. The ability to grow facial isn't determined by the father genes, it can be determined by the mother's side of the family.
  • In-Universe reason for Tarzan to wear a loincloth. Tarzan was found in a diaper, so Kala continued that (possibly because none of the male gorillas have anything visible down there and she didn't want him to stand out even more) and it turned into habit.
    • Fun fact: gorillas have the smallest penises of all the great apes, while humans have the largest. No one likes a show off.
  • How is Sabor still alive? Tarzan is in his late teens or early twenties, at minimum, and leopards live only 12-17 years in the wild. Even if Sabor was only barely full-grown when she attacked Tarzan's family, she would still be very old and probably easy to pick off by the time Tarzan grew up.
  • Jane and her father came to Africa to study gorillas, specifically the (then revolutionary) theory that they're gentle, social creatures. But since they decided to stay with Tarzan and his family, they never got to take their important research back to London. Hell, people probably assumed the gorillas ate them.
    • Except, if you consider the cartoon series as canon, there are several people who visit their neck of the woods and return home after having spent time with them and experiencing at least one of the gorillas (Terk) behaving very unlike the supposed norm for that time. That includes Jane's 3 girlfriends and Prof. Porter's female colleague. You could argue that they kept their stories to themselves for fear of not being believed, but enough word got out that a certain up-and-coming pulp author decided to see for himself if they were true.
    • Also, in the animated series, the first gorilla some people encounter is the violent and vicious Tublat. While the show treats Tublat as an exceptionally violent individual, these people may see the Killer Gorilla stereotype absolutely justified.
  • 18 years pass with Tarzan in the jungle. Therefore Terk is 18 - female Gorillas start mating at about 10, but Terk has no mate nor children. The best explanation is that Terk is either lesbian (like Rosie) asexual and doesn't really like the idea of mating. This actually means that she would be far more open to befriending Tarzan without having a sexual interest in him.
    • Adolescent female gorillas normally disperse to new groups if their natal group has only one ruling silverback, as the resident breeding male is too likely to be their father and hence, an unsuitable mate. Terk would probably have left the troop much sooner, but her friendship with Tarzan may have convinced her to stay, knowing he'd feel even more isolated from the other apes without her there.
    • There is one episode in the animated series where Terk gets attracted to a young male gorilla from a different troop. While they seem to hit it off at the end of the episode, the young male never appears again, presumably leading his own troop.


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