Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Babar

Go To

Babar is a series of popular French children's books first published in 1931, by Jean De Brunhoff, based on bedtime stories that his wife told their two children. The books feature an elephant named Babar who left the jungle as a child after his mother was killed by a hunter and came to a large city where he befriended an elderly lady known only as Madame and learned of human ways. After returning to the jungle, Babar shared what he learned with his fellow elephants, prompting them to construct a city they name Celesteville and to crown Babar as king of the elephants.

Also featured in Babar's stories are his wife Celeste (whom the city was named after); his brother-in-law Arthur; his four children Pom, Flora, Alexander, and Isabelle; his elderly advisor and prime minister Cornelius; and a monkey named Zephir who is a friend of Babar's family. There is also a neighboring kingdom of rhinoceroses ruled by the tyrannical Rataxes that shows up from time to time as the rivals of Babar and his subjects.

The books are seen by some as an allegory of French colonialism, with Babar as a young native who goes to France for education and comes back to teach the ways of civilization (defined as "the way the French do things") to his fellow countrymen. Jean de Brunhoff originally created 7 Babar books between 1931 and his death in 1937; the last two of his books were published posthumously. Eldest son Laurent de Brunhoff succeeded him as author and continued to write new Babar stories up until his passing in 2024 at age 98.

Countless record versions and stage production were released quickly after the premiere of the first book, but Babar's animated debut wasn't until 1968, with the TV special, The Story of Babar: The Little Elephant, an adaptation of its namesake book (which was the first book) as well as the second and third books, The Travels of Babar and Babar the King, which was followed by an adaptation of Babar Goes to Hollywood released in 1971. Both specials were directed by Bill Meléndez of the Peanuts specials fame and narrated by Peter Ustinov. The next TV special of Babar came out fifteen years later, with Babar and Father Christmas in 1986, a 25-minute Christmas Episode by the Canadian animation studio Atkinson Film-Arts.

A few years later, an Animated Series was produced by the world-renowned Canadian animation studio Nelvananote  with help from France's Ellipse Animation. It originally aired between 1989 and 1991 and then in 2000, airing on the CBC and then Global Television Network in Canada, and on HBO (which also aired the Christmas special annually) and later Qubo in the US (with the 2000 revival being shown on Teletoon in Canada and CBS in the US). The series ran for 6 seasons of 78 episodes and was broadcast in 30 languages in over 150 countries, making it one of the most widely distributed animated shows up to that point. The first 2 seasons mainly followed Babar's childhood and early years as king (told through his own recollections), while the remaining 4 seasons shift to his life in the present. A number of new characters were introduced in this series too, such as Babar’s uppity second advisor Pompadour. The characters' voices were provided by many familiar Canadian actors, most notably Gordon Pinsent as Babar himself. Praised for its ability to tackle serious issues with drama and nuance and treat its preschool audience with respect and maturity, the show is widely considered to be one of Nelvana's greatest series and a true icon of Canadian animation. Episodes can be seen on Youtube on the show's official channel and Treehouse Direct.

There have also been two movies. The first was Babar: The Movie released in 1989, which was The Movie for the Nelvana TV series, but with some noticeable Continuity Snarls and drastic personality changes for some characters. The second was Babar: King of the Elephants released in 1999, which was an entirely new adaptation of the original books, completely ignoring the animated series (although still produced by Nelvana and with a few of the actors from the 1989 series reprising their roles, plus Alexander's actor voicing Arthur). Sadly, both films came and went at the box office with little fanfare.

A Lighter and Softer All-CGI Cartoon sequel to the 80s Nelvana Animated Series called Babar and the Adventures of Badou (also produced by Nelvana) began airing on YTV in Canada and Disney Junior in the United States from 2010 to 2015, running for 3 seasons of 65 episodes. It focused on Babar's grandson Badou, and introduces a large number of new characters to the Babar universe while also having several voice actors from the original show reprise their roles.

Tropes featured in the original books include:

  • Animal Gender-Bender: The whole concept of elephants having a king. Elephant herds are led by an adult female or a matriarch, while adult males or bulls are solitary.
  • Anthropomorphic Shift: A central plot point in Babar the King. Once Babar returns from the human civilization, he shares his experiences with the rest of the elephants (who are at that point Talking Animals, who decide to adapt human customs such as houses, clothing and cars for themselves and become Civilized Animals, including building the city of Celesteville.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: In Babar et le Père Noël (Babar and Father Christmas), we learn that Father Christmas lives in a mountain in Bohemia near a town called PRJMNESTWE.
  • Ascended to Carnivorism: In Babar Comes To America, Babar and his family were shown eating meat. Becomes Accidentally-Correct Writing in that such behavior was observed in elephants in real life.
  • Christmas Episode: The book Babar et le Père Noël (Babar and Father Christmas), made into an animated TV special in 1986.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The very day of Babar's return from his stay with humans, the King of the Elephants had eaten a poisonous mushroom and died. Thanks to Babar's experience in the "civilized" world, the elephants select him as the old King's successor.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In Babar's Travels, Arthur plays a juvenile prank on Rataxes, tying a sparkler to the rhino's tail. In response, the rhinos declare an all-out war on Elephant Land.
  • Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal: The citizens of Celesteville wear complete clothing, including shoes.
  • The Good King: Babar is a benevolent autocrat.
  • Hollywood Natives:
    • In the 1932 book, Babar's Travels, Babar and Celeste crash their balloon on a tropical island where they are attacked by a native Cannibal Tribe. The portrayal of natives is full of politically incorrect stereotypes (they have pitch-black skin, large lips, wear grass loincloths, and attempt to kill the elephants with their spears). As a result, the book was removed from some libraries, whereas several editions of the book simply cut out the scene, making the book a few pages shorter.
    • In the 1965 book Babar Comes to America, Babar encounters some stereotypical Native Americans wearing large feathered headdresses, led by a chief named "Sitting Bull" who tells them about "the legend of the White Buffalo".
  • Karma Houdini: Unlike in the TV series, the hunter who kills Babar's mother receives no comeuppance (and only appears in the first book).
  • Kissing Cousins: In the books, Babar and Celeste were cousins. This aspect was ignored/changed for the TV series' and film, which made them unrelated to one another.
  • Limited Animation: The 1968 and 1971 special, courtesy of Bill Melendez.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Story of Babar starts like this. First, we see a gentle moment between Babar and his loving mother; then on the next page, Babar's mother get shot and Babar runs off in panic; then Babar is in the city, curiously checking out the clothes in a department store.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: In Babar and His Children, Alexander drifts away on a hat in a lake where a crocodile threatens to eat him. Babar hurls an anchor into the croc's jaws where it gets lodged, and the reptile's angry thrashings knock Alexander into the water, forcing Babar to dive in and save his son.
  • No Antagonist:
    • The book Babar the King, which is about the construction of Celesteville, has no antagonist (and not much of a conflict) at all; neither the hunter nor the rhinos make an appearance. The closest it ever gets to an antagonist is Misfortune, the personification of Babar's own misfortunes who comes in for a metaphorical conflict in a two page Nightmare Sequence towards the very end.
      • Note, however, that the nightmare sequence is precipitated in part by one antagonist, a snake which bites the Old Lady (she survives but Babar doesn't find out until the next day that she is better). Arthur immediately kills the snake by smashing it with his trumpet.
    • The book Babar and Father Christmas also lacks an antagonist, focusing on Babar's ordeals to find Father Christmas so that he can deliver toys to the elephant children. The Animated Adaptation adds Rataxes to the story, trying to foil Babar's plan so that he can get the toys for himself.
  • No Name Given: Babar's human surrogate mother is only referred to as "The Old Lady" or "Madame".
  • Product Placement: Several in Babar Comes To America.
  • Rhino Rampage: In Babar's Travels, the rhinos declare war on the elephants simply because Arthur played a prank on Rataxes. When the rhinos are proven to be too strong, Babar has the elephants outsmart the rhinos by disguising themselves as monsters to scare them off.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: At least once a book.
  • Scarecrow Solution: In the book Babar's Travels, when Rataxes and his rhinos declare a war on the elephants, Babar disguises the elephants as monsters to scare away the rhino army.
  • Token Human: The Old Lady is the only human in the Land of the Elephants, moving from the human city to Celesteville in one of the early books.
  • Unpleasant Animal Counterpart: Rhinos to elephants in Babar's Travel. Elephants are mostly gentle and benevolent, and are ruled by The Good King Babar, whereas the rhinos are violent, and declare a war on the elephants in response to a simple, juvenile prank by Arthur. However, the rhinos are also not very bright and lose the war due to being easily outsmarted by the clever elephants. The conflict is expanded upon in the animated series.

Tropes featured in the Babar animated series include:

  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: Before Babar returned to the jungle, the elephants were naked, but wore accessories like glasses, and, in the king's case, a crown.
  • Acrophobic Bird: Igor the eaglet from "Land of Mysterious Water". He gets over his fear of flying to save both Alexander from falling.
  • Action Mom:
    • Celeste when the situation calls for it.
    • To a lesser extent, Babar's mother.
    • Zola the eagle from "Land of Mysterious Water".
  • Adaptational Badass: An argument can be made for Babar's mother. In the book, she is simply shot and drops dead. In the series she warns the others, tries to carry her son to safety, gets shot, and then, presumably knowing she is about to die, charges the hunter head-on. The only reason he survives is because he shoots her a second time, and she still manages to break his gun in half as she goes down.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal
    • Pompadour's numerous 'Pachyderm Public Opinion Polls'.
    • In "My Dinner With Rataxes," after the children get lost in dark tunnel, Basil discovers a "document detailing the diverse detours within those dark, dank dungeon depths."
    Lady Rataxes: (after Babar and Celeste stare at each other) He's found the map.
  • Aerith and Bob: Exotic names like Babar, Rataxes and Zephir coexist with more common ones like Arthur, Basil and Alexander.
  • An Aesop: In the first two seasons, Babar tells stories from his youth to provide moral advice to his children facing some dilemma. Later seasons take place in the present day, but the stories still provide some kind of moral lesson.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Arthur’s robots “Bob” and “Bob Jr.”
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version uses "Graduation" by Arisa Mizuki as its theme song.
  • Anachronism Stew: Very much so. The episodes occuring in Babar's childhood appear to retain the 1930s setting of the original books, judging by the dress style, types of cars and building designs and the constant use of gramophones. In Babar's adulthood however, Celesteville runs more or less the same as a 1990s city, with television and VCRS mentioned in some episodes, but under a Monarchy, and with some Olden Day elements such as pirates and Romani men in caravans , and some of the original 1930s elements as well.
  • And That's Terrible: In "The Coin," everyone gets upset when Rataxes suggests that he might take various things of theirs... but everyone stops their complaining to Babar at once to express outrage when Isabelle reveals that he threatened to take her dolly.
  • Angry, Angry Hippos: The antagonist of "Land of Sweets" is an ill-tempered hippo prince who throws chefs in prison and shuts down their establishments whenever their dishes don't satisfy him (like adding in raisins). It turns out his bad attitude was the result of no one wishing him a happy birthday. When the cast throw him a proper birthday party, he pulls a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Animated Adaptation: Well, technically so. The series features most of the characters from the original books, as well as the setting, but the only original books adapted into episodes of the series are The History of Babar and Babar the King, which provide the basis for the first few episodes. Although the episodes Rhino War and Monkey Business borrow some concepts from The Travels of Babar, as does the movie.
  • Animation Bump: The animation in the opening sequence is much more fluid than the actual episodes.
  • Animal Gender-Bender:
    • Madmoiselle Soretoza from "The Show Must Go On" is a female ostrich with black-and-white male plumage.
    • The anglerfish pirates from "Land of Pirates" are all male, but have lures like female anglerfish.
  • Animal Stampede:
    • The rhinoceroses celebrate a holiday called "Rhino Rampage Day", during which they collectively go on a stampede. The conflict arises from the fact that elephants' peanut patch is in their way. Zigzagged example in that this was the traditional form of the ritual, but by the time of the present, it's mostly an excuse for a huge drunken party — until Lady Rataxes goads her husband into bringing back the traditional form.
    • The non-civilized elephants do this in an attempt to drive out the hunter...which somehow results in them all being caged by the hunter and his men!
  • Animals Not to Scale:
    • At least following the Anthropomorphic Shift when they start to walk bipedally, the elephants become much too small for their species, only a few heads taller than Madame, an elderly human lady, and about the same height as the rhinos, crocodiles, gorillas, lions or ostriches they interact with.
    • The rhinos are only half the height of the humans when on all fours (the two kinds of African rhinos, the white rhinoceros and the black rhinoceros, are both roughly the same height as an adult human, though the white rhino is taller when its head is raised).
  • Anthropomorphic Shift: Willingly invoked by the characters themselves. After Babar returned from the city and shared his experiences there, the rest of the elephants (plus other jungle animals, all of them being Talking Animals) found such human civilization aspects (houses, cars, books, clothes, walking upright, etc.) as highly appealing, and decided to adapt them for themselves and become Civilized Animals, including building the city of Celesteville. The others animals of the jungle also liked the idea of civilization, and adopted it for their cultures as well.
  • Are We There Yet?: "My Dinner With Rataxes" opens with Babar and Celeste's kids whining this.
  • Artifact of Doom:
    • A Mundane Fantastic example in "The Coin"; whoever possesses one of the three shards of the golden coin used as a token between Babar and the Pirate Captain Sanga can hand it in and receive anything that they want. Without question. Without compromise. The first piece is handed in by Sanga's former first mate, who demands a ship for himself. The second piece turns up in Rataxes' hands, and he uses it to claim the throne of Celesteville for himself. The final piece turns up in Cornelius' possession, who uses it to force Rataxes to hand Celesteville back to Babar.
    • "A Charmed Life" provides a magical example, an amulet that fulfills one, but only one wish of the person holding it. Babar initially doesn't believe in its powers, and exhausted from his royal duties, he jokingly wishes he never was a king - creating a Villain World where Rataxes rules over the elephants. Only another wish from Celeste can return things to normal.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • In "Babar's Triumph", Rataxes refers to an antelope's horns as antlers (although this may just be a product of Rataxes' ignorance).
    • The two cheetahs from "Tour De Celesteville" both lack the tear stripes cheetahs are known for.
    • The giant crocodile from "The Gift" is shown with an overbite like an alligator.
  • Ascended Extra: Rataxes appears only in one of the original Jean de Brunhoff books, Babar's Travels, engaging in a conflict with the elephants while Babar is away (he reappears in a handful of Laurent de Brunhoff's books). In the animated series, he becomes the most important recurring antagonist.
    • The hunter, big time. In the books, he was merely an ordinary game hunter who killed Babar's mother simply because he noticed her passing by and disappeared from the story completely after failing to do the same to Babar. The series on the other hand made him the Big Bad of the Five-Episode Pilot, being there with the intent of poaching Babar's entire herd from the beginning, with Babar's mother merely being his first victim. In fact, his threat is largely the reason Babar returns to the jungle, and despite the knowledge about humans that he and his friends acquired from the city that they use against the hunter, it still takes a great deal of effort to drive him out...only for him to return two episodes later, recovered from his shock of the discovery of talking civilized elephants, and prepared to deal with them accordingly (i.e. more mooks, more weapons and guards protecting his camp.) He's only defeated for good by an enormous forest fire that he started in the first place.
    • In the Child-Babar episodes, Babar's children were mostly Audience Surrogates, having some sort of issue which Babar would help them resolve by telling them of similar experiences he had as a child, and would only appear before and after Babar's story. When the series shifted its primary setting to the present day, the children were upgraded to main characters, with as many episodes focusing on them as their parents (maybe even more.)
  • Be Yourself: This is the aesop of the second episode, City Ways. Pom is very concerned about impressing some older kids, and that is when Babar tells him about when he came to the city and started living there for a while. The climax of the story is that he once almost screwed up a dinner party by behaving like a "sophisticated" snob, which nobody liked. When he started to act like himself, he managed to win the guests over.
  • Bears Are Bad News:
    • Ursa Major and his polar bear pack in Land of Ice, who terrorize the neighboring penguins and refuse to negotiate when Babar and his family try to reason with them.
    • While the bear in A Charmed Life is neither evil nor threatening, the magical amulet he gives Babar is an Artifact of Doom that creates a Villain World in which Rataxes rules over Celesteville.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat: Pompadour, Cornelius and Basil occasionally suffer from this.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: For the most part, Babar is one of the most coolheaded, responsible and goodhearted individuals you will ever meet, but he isn't above severely lashing out or ripping at those whose antics are exceptionally troublesome, such as Arthur and Alexander at their worst, or Rataxes almost always.
  • Beware the Skull Base: Conga the Terrible resides on an island with a mountain shaped like a human skull, appropriately named Skull Island. It's a subversion, as Conga is not really evil, just putting on a Monster Façade.
  • Big "NO!": Babar pulls a particularly heart-wrenching one when he discovers his mother's dead body.
  • Birthday Episode: Pom, Flora and Alexander celebrate their eleventh birthday in "Oh, to Be an Adult".
  • Blatant Lies: Rataxes is prone to this whenever his wrongdoings are discovered.
  • Bloodless Carnage: The dead body of Babar's mother looks like she's only unconscious with no gunshot wounds and her tusks still intact. Though with the latter makes it looks like the Hunter was just a big game hunter doing it for the thrill than a poacher looking to profit off the ivory trade.
  • Book on the Head: When Babar is learning proper etiquie from Madame, this test is one part of his training.
  • Brutal Honesty: In the final episode of the original series, Mango Madness, Flora develops a bad habit of telling fibs to cause conflict for her amusement, which quickly gets on everybody's nerve. Babar gently reprimends Flora for her behavior, emphasizing that it's important to always tell the truth. Unfortunately, Flora takes this message a little too much to heart, and develops a new bad habit of this trope. Not only does it get on everybody's nerves just as quickly as the previous habit, but she ends up ruining a deal with Rataxes because of it. Babar then humorously tries to explain to Flora the "If you've nothing nice to say, don't say anything." piece of advice.
  • Canon Foreigner: Pompadour and Troubadour on the elephants' side, Lady Rataxes, Victor and Basil on the rhinos'.
  • Cassandra Truth: When the hunter returns to the jungle in Babar's Triumph, Rataxes and the other animal leaders brush off Babar's warnings about how dangerous the hunter is and refuse to join forces to stop him. It isn't until Rhinoland (then merely a cluster of rural grasshuts) is attacked by the hunter and his men, with all the rhinos captured, that the other animals realize who they are dealing with.
  • Characterization Marches On: In Babar and Father Christmas, Rataxes is the only rhino, and he is portrayed as a petty criminal and a Manchild who wants to get toys from Father Christmas. In the animated series he is portrayed as a dictator ruling over the land of rhinos.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Babar is made king while he's still only a child, after he saved the herd from poachers.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Babar and Celeste.
  • Clip Show: The episodes "Remember When...", "Boys Will Be Boys" and "Oh, to Be an Adult" all feature flashbacks to several previous episodes. The first two are the season finale for Season 2 and 3.
  • Civilized Animal: The citizens of Celesteville became this after Babar brought them civilization. Before that, they behaved more like ordinary elephants, although they could still talk, wore accessories like glasses, and were led by a king.
  • Cool Old Guy: Cornelius is a wise and supportive elderly elephant who is something of a father figure to Babar, often resolving the conflict in the episode.
  • Covered in Mud: In "What's Mine is Mine", Rataxes and Basil look for a new mud wallow for the rhinos, as Rhinoland is hit with a mud drought which they consider a serious crisis. Truth in Television — rhinos regularly roll around in mud because it protects their skin from sunburn and biting insects.
  • Crying Wolf: The episode "Monkey Business" is very much centered on this and follows the same plot as the original story, with Zephir keeps sounding the alert for if Rhinos come to the peanut patch. Babar decides to teach Zephir the consequences of this trope by dressing up as a rhino and ordering the others not to come when he sounds the alarm. It scares him straight and he learns his lesson....but then rhinos actually do come and nobody comes since Babar had ordered them not to.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Babar whenever peeved, but especially in My Dinner with Rataxes:
    Celeste Are you sure it's a good idea for the children to play in the dungeon dear?
    Babar: Don't worry, I've been done there didn't scare me then either.
    Later when Rataxes and Babar are heading down to fetch the children for dinner
    Rataxes: You know, it's a good thing you elephants signed that peace treaty when you did. You elephants never would have survived a full fledged rhino attack!
    Babar: I believe it. I'm barely surviving dinner!
    Then when Babar and Rataxes have discovered that the chidren have ventured into labyrinth hidden behind a bookshelf,
    Rataxes: Oh I remember! I was going to use this tunnel to launch a surprise attack on...(notices Babar giving him a Death Glare)...the pelicans.
    Basil: Yes that's right! Those pesky pelicans!
    Babar: (sternly) Save it. I knew what you were up to.
    Rataxes and Basil in unison: You did?!
    Babar: (now smiling and in a more mocking tone) I also knew your men couldn't dig their way out of a sandbox!
  • Deal with the Devil: In the sense of "dealing with somebody morally shady", this is integral to the backstory of "The Coin". Years ago, shortly after Celesteville's founding, the city was struck by an epidemic of sleeping sickness; with the only cure being found on a small island far across the sea, and Celesteville having no ships, Babar is forced to recruit the assistance of the dreaded pirate Captain Sanga. The pirate agrees, but as his price, he demands Babar agree to a vow; dividing a large golden coin into three pieces, he makes Babar pledge that whoever possess one of the pieces can expect a single favor of the king that Babar must automatically agree to.
  • Death Glare: Babar gives one to the hunter every time he encounters him. A particularly funny instance of this occurs in Babar Returns. Babar plays a gramophone to lure the hunter and his men away from the imprisoned elephants, enabling them to set them free. while heading there, Babar, Celeste and Arthur all glaringly watch from behind a bush as if to say, "That's right, take the bait you bastards." Babar also gives a few in his adulthood when he's at his angriest.
  • Demoted to Extra: Madame was extremely prominent in the Child-Babar episodes, acting as a Parental Substitute for his deceased mother, but only appears in a few of the Adult-Babar episodes now that her role in the series is more or less complete, and is completely absent in the 2000 Re-Tool Season.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: A number of the reasons Rataxes causes trouble for the elephants, but the most prominent one is in The Scarlet Pacheyderm when be sets up a toolbooth for elephants passing through Rhino territory with payment being all of their possessions. The reason? Because Lady Rataxes supposedly did not receive an invitation to Queen Celeste's costume party.
  • Does Not Like Guns: All animals, due to being hunted by humans. Even when going to war (and accusing the elephants of acquiring guns), the rhinos carry no weapons, instead using their natural horns in combat.
  • Downer Beginning: The very first episode, "Babar's First Steps", is also the darkest one, with Babar's mother getting killed by an Egomaniac Hunter, and Babar getting left behind as the herd flees from the hunter. The later episodes are much Lighter and Softer in tone.
  • Drama Bomb: "The Coin". Babar is held to a promise by a pirate artifact, three shards of a gold medallion, and whoever hands him one of the pieces gets whatever they want from him, without question, without compromise. One of the shards is obtained by Rataxes, who uses his wish to take over Celesteville. It didn't last long thanks to Cornelius, but it was easily one of the darkest episodes in the series, not counting the premiere.
  • Duck Season, Rabbit Season: Victor and Alexander have one in Fathers and Sons over whether Rataxes is better than Babar. Victor is the one who pulls the switch and is the winner.
  • Egopolis: In the Villain World created by Babar's wish in "A Charmed Life" where Rataxes rules over both the rhinos and the elephants, the city in the place of Celesteville is called "Rataxesville".
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: A number of episode titles. Babar's First Steps is about the birth of Babar and the first years of his life, City Ways involves Babar learning about civilization, Babar Returns involves Babar returning to the jungle to help his herd, Babar's Triumph involves him defeating the hunter for good, Race to the Moon involves a moon race between the rhinos and elephants, King Tuttle's vote involves the elephants persuading the turtle king to vote in favor of outlawing pollution, etc etc.
  • Exploding Closet: In Fathers and Sons, Babar and Celeste bet each other breakfast on whether or not Alexander cleaned his room. When they check, the room is spotless save for one sock on the floor, and it appears as though Babar is the winner. When Babar opens the closet to put the sock away while smugly giving his breakfast request to Celeste, this trope occurs. As the actual winner, Celeste gives her breakfast request to Babar in an equally smug manner.
  • Expospeak Gag: After Rataxes refuses to allow the elephant to build a railroad through Rhinoland and Babar just cannot build it through Pleasant Valley (where he grew up).
    Rataxes: Haha, so the elephant express will not go through! No chapter in the history books for good King Babar! You lose!
    Babar: No, Rataxes. The whole jungle loses. And now you'll get that chapter in the history books!
    Rataxes: (excited) I will?!
    Pompadour: You're right, sire! "Rataxes, the rapscallion who deliberately expunged the amalgamation of the jungle!"
    Rataxes:' What does that mean?
    Basil: Loosely translated, it means: "You'll live forever in the memory of every creature in the jungle as the pigheaded barbarian who cheated them out of their railway!"
  • Expy: Pompadour is a tall, effeminate, Know-Nothing Know-It-All elephant in a yellow/golden outfit, and his companion Troubadour is a short, smart, mute elephant in a blue outfit. Now replace "elephant" with "droid"... Although the similarity may be accidental, these two specific characters were created specifically for the TV show in 1989, a decade after the first Star Wars movie, and Nelvana animated the Boba Fett segment of The Star Wars Holiday Special and the Droids and Ewoks animated series to boot.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Cornelius is willing to do this after being caught by one of the hunter's guards. Pompadour suggests they vote on it...
  • Fantastic Racism: Rataxes' contempt for all things elephantine is a running gag.
  • Feathered Fiend: The main antagonists of "Land of Mysterious Water" are a trio of bullying condors, in contrast to the good eagles.
  • Feud Episode: Two of them. The first Between Friends involves Zephir and Young Celeste crashing into each other with their model car and bike respectively. Each one blames the other and go to court, where Babar (who is filling in as judge) must help them realize that the incident was both their fault as both were equally careless while riding, but more importantly how trivial this incident was. The second was Friendly Agreement, where Cornelius and Pompadour feel they no longer see eye to eye and break ties. It takes a fire in the kitchen that they must work together to put out to bring them back to their senses.
  • Five-Episode Pilot: The first five episodes chronicle Babar's dealings with the Hunter and his attempts to bring civilization to the jungle. The status quo is achieved at the end of the fifth episode and remains for the rest of the series.
  • Foil: Rataxes to Babar. Both of them are leaders of a monarchy of Civilized Animals, but Babar is gentle, wise and always tries to do the best for his people, whereas Rataxes is violent, foolish and only cares about himself.
  • Friendly Enemy: Rataxes and Babar clash a lot, but, at the same time, there's also a certain grudging respect and even friendship between each other. They've even fought together in the past, such as when they worked together to drive out The Hunter, or when they teamed up to take down the Rhinoland General Ripper Big Bad of "Rhino War".
  • From Bad to Worse: The hunter is initially just after the elephants, but then decides to go after the whole jungle.
  • Full-Boar Action: One episode has a warthog acting like an Angry Guard Dog. It also creates Furry Confusion, as most animals in the setting are anthropomorphic.
  • Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal: The majority of the cast after discovering civilization.
  • Fun with Acronyms: In "Rhino War," Rataxes's general convinces himself that a shipment of crates containing games is actually weapons because GAMES is acronym for "Gonna Attack My Enemies Soon."
  • Furry Confusion: Most animals are anthropomorphic Civilized Animals, but non-anthropomorphic animals occasionally show up, such as Lady Rataxes' pet warthog. In one episode Babar is menaced by an uncivilized crocodile that tries to eat him, in another one he makes a deal with a group of fully anthropomorphic crocodile pirates, and there was a crocodile crook. But, it's worth noting that Babar and the inhabitants of Celesteville were once non-anthropomorphic themselves, and talk like they do, meaning these are the animals that did not adopt civilization.
  • Furry Reminder: This series makes it clear that despite being civilized, the animals still have their instincts. For example, each year the rhinos run on all fours and embark on "Rhino Rampage", because it's in their blood, and the elephants regularly use their trunks to manipulate objects (they have to use their trunks this way, because they still don't have hands). Babar and Celeste also some times intertwine their trunks to show affection to each other, which is what elephants also do in real life.
  • General Ripper: The villain of the episode "Rhino War" is one General Pameer, who gets Rhinoland into a war with Celesteville — against King Rataxes' wishes! — out of one part Fantastic Racism and one part a sheer desire to wage war. He even asks rhetorically what the point is of having an army if you never use it. By the time of Babar’s adulthood, he’s mellowed out more or less.
  • Gentle Gorilla:
    • Midge the gorilla princess from "Babar's Choice", who is much more cheerful and friendly than her grumpy father. Her father also becomes happier when Midge takes a liking to fellow simian Zephir.
    • Conga the Terrible is revealed to be a Gentle Giant who pretends to be a Killer Gorilla so people wouldn't try to capture him.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: One of Zephir's pranks in the episode Monkey Business is replacing the royal flag with Cornelius's underpants.
  • The Good King: Besides Babar, the Old King was also a pretty good-hearted and wise ruler, but his lack of knowledge in the way of botany proved fatal.
  • Good Parents: Babar and Celeste are very loving and supportive towards their children. Babar's mother was the same to him as a baby. The Old Lady is also this towards Babar.

  • Great Escape: When Babar is banned from leaving the palace unsupervised due to suspicions that someone is out to get him and his relationship with Celeste is in jeapordy, he attempts a number of common prison escape attempts to get to Celeste alone, including disguising himself, stowing away in a laundry truck, and jumping over the fence with a pole. Cornelius and Pompadour are one step ahead of him every time.
  • Happily Married: Babar and Celeste are still very much in love with each other. It is also mostly true for Rataxes and Lady Rataxes, even if they have a more dysfunctional relationship.
  • Henpecked Husband: Probably the only person Rataxes is scared of is Lady Rataxes.
    Rataxes: I could handle this job in my sleep.
    Lady Rataxes: You always have, dear.
  • High-Class Glass: Pompadour, and Babar in "City Ways" when he tries to be someone he's not.
  • Hilarity Ensues: When the well-intentioned but not accident prone Zephir and the sophisticated and beaurcratic Cornelius and Pompadour decide to switch roles as Babar's assistant and managers of the Malt Shop. All parties want them back in the original positions by the end of the episode.
  • Honorable Elephant: The elephants live in The Good Kingdom with all sorts of positive values. Babar is a good and responsible king and a loving father, Celeste is a caring wife and mother, Cornelius is a wise advisor, and even the Nervous Wreck Pompadour is well-intentioned. However, Babar's mother may have been the most honorable elephant of them all. The most her first shooting from the hunter while she was carrying Babar to safety did was injure her slightly. After reaching the herd, instead of running off like hell with them, she drops Babar off with them and then charges at the hunter, seizes his gun with her trunk and smashes it, temporarily neutralizing his threat and buying the others more time to escape. Unfortunately, she receives several more blows from the hunter in more vital spots while doing so, effectively killing her.
  • Honor Before Reason: The entire plot of "The Coin" is based on the fact that Babar insists on keeping his oath to Captain Sanga that he'll grant the wish of anybody who returns with a piece of the coin, even if it means handing over the kingdom to Rataxes.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In "The Coin", having conquered Celesteville with the second shard of Sanga's Coin, Rataxes is summarily overthrown with the aid of the final piece, having been told that as the new King of Celesteville, he's inherited the responsibility of upholding that oath to Sanga.
  • Hope Spot: After a few days of being under the threat of the hunter, Pompadour reveals that he has learned from the birds of a remote, discreet location deep in the jungle where the hunter would be unlikely to find them. Babar gets separated from his herd while they head for it, but we learn two episodes later that the determined hunter did indeed find them and has been continuing to chase them throughout the jungle during Babar's entire time at the city.
  • Humiliation Conga: General Pameer loses the war against the elephants, gets fired from his position by Rataxes, and then gets to work at Babar's amusement park in a game where the elephants toss rings on his horns.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Basil, who seems to put in more effort in running Rhinoland than his boss Rataxes.
    Rataxes: Only 4,444 forms to go. How does Basil do it? Wait a minute— I'm just supposed to sign this stuff! Nobody said anything about reading it!
  • Hyperspace Holmes Hat: In the episode The Missing Crown Affair, Zephir produces a deerstalker by turning his usual hat inside-out.
  • I Am the Noun: Mademoiselle Soretoza in "The Show Must Go On." - "I am the show."
  • I Miss Mom: Young Babar does this in some of the earlier episodes.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: Used in "The Land of the Underground" in the final season, when Babar jumps into the rushing river to save one of the mole brothers.
  • Insecurity System: Rataxes has Basil design and install one of these in the Rhinoland royal pyramid in one episode.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: A gentle tune used throughout every season except the final one. Given the unique nature of this season, it used an entirely new opening complete with an opening theme that was a livelier remix of what had always been the show's closing credits theme.
  • Irony:
    • In "Rhino War", Babar's impatience with filling out the required forms and regulations to get the supplies he needs to complete an amusement park leads to him ordering the boat to just come down the river, which entails passing through Rhinoland territory. When Pompadour points this out, Babar shrugs it off, pointing out that, A)amusement park supplies are harmless, and B)Rataxes does stuff like this all the time; he'll understand. And, truth be told, Rataxes wouldn't have cared... but a warmongering general uses this boat and Rataxes' distracted state to get Rataxes to sign off on a declaration of war.
    • In the same episode, Rataxes gets a scene of being the voice of reason, shooting down General Pameer's suspicions immediately.
    General Pameer: "They're shipping weapons through our territory, that's what! I think they're gearing up for a full-scale war!"
    Rataxes: "That's ridiculous. Babar may be an interfering pain-in-the-neck, but he's a peaceful interfering pain-in-the-neck.
  • Isle of Giant Horrors: As a Shout-Out to King Kong, Babar and his friends once end up on an island named Skull Island, home of Conga the Terrible, a giant Killer Gorilla that dwarfs even the elephants. In a subversion, the gorilla turns out to be quite friendly once they get on his good side, confessing he plays up the act because people automatically assume he's a "savage beast" because of his size.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: The episode "A Charmed Life" has the elephant king overwhelmed by work wishing never to be king while carrying a gypsy amulet. The result is a Villain World with Rataxes ruling Celesteville and having all elephants and rhinos living in misery. To make matters worse, he discovers that he cannot wish it back to the way it was, as the amulet will only grant one wish per person. It is Celeste who ultimately fixes this, by wishing that Babar was king.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Basil is often a cheerful and friendly individual, but he can be just as bad as Rataxes while assisting him in a plot against the elephants.
    • Alexander in his older years. He has a very large ego and can be rather inconsiderate of others when he's out to achieve his goals, but he dearly cares about his family and willing to help them in any dilemna they're in at any cost, bet it in need of a snake venom antidote or just encouragement when they feel they are meaningless.
  • Kaiju: The title creatures from "Conga the Terrible" and "The Unsalted Sea Serpent". One is a giant gorilla in the vein of King Kong, the other is a gigantic Stock Ness Monster. Notably, both are revealed to be nicer than they look.
  • Killed Off for Real: Babar's mother, the Old King and hunter.
  • Killer Gorilla:
    • Conga the Terrible is believed to be this. He's actually a Gentle Giant who scares people to be left alone.
    • In "Babar's Choice", Babar is worried that the Gorilla King may go furious if he doesn't choose his daughter Midge as the "belle of the ball". Fortunately, it gets avoided when Midge takes a liking towards Zephir instead.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Hunter attempts to do this to every animal in the forest. He ends up getting killed by his own fire in the end.
  • King Kong Copy: Conga the Terrible is a giant gorilla living on an Isle of Giant Horrors.
  • King of Beasts: A lion king appears in "Babar's Triumph" attending the Jungle Council. Unlike the rest of the council who are bickering with each other, he is sleeping and lazing around (just like lions do in real life).
  • Lampshade Hanging: In "Rhino War", after finding out that he's accidentally declared war on Celesteville, Rataxes receives a suggestion from a rhino guard that they should just sit back and let Babar fix this whole mess. When Rataxes questions the notion of letting Babar solve all their problems, the guard comments that it's always worked before.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: A variation in that good deeds done by the main characters tend to end up providing rewards. For example, in "The Coin", Celesteville is saved from Rataxes, who took over with the second piece of the titular artifact, by Cornelius, who was given Sanga's own piece of the coin as a thank-you for secretly nursing Sanga back to health after he caught sleeping sickness. In "Witches Potion", whilst the old hermit is emphatically not a witch, she does turn out to have an unknown antidote for the bite of a Purple Nightshadow snake, which she provides as a thank you for Alexander rescuing her cat.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: The final season was an unusual case, as it aired nine years after the previous season ended. It dropped the previous setting and instead focused on the cast travelling around the world in a balloon. It's a wonder that it was officially considered part of the same series rather than its own installment like the later Babar and the Adventures of Badou.
  • Lighter and Softer: The early episodes involving flashbacks to Babar's childhood dealt with issues such hunters threatening to capture/kill the entire jungle population, war being declared on Celesteville due to a misunderstanding, and two episodes focus on an incorrect belief that someone is out to assasinate Babar! When the episodes shifted their focus on the setting at present, the episode conflicts became considerably more tame (pun-intended), mostly dealing with family and friendship issues, such as teamwork, not scamming somebody just because they scammed you, not taking credit for somebody else's work, and not Crying Wolf.
  • Limited Animation: Though it's far less obvious than other examples.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Most of the cast, though they can often be seen sporting situation-specific costumes in various episodes (raincoats, racing jumpsuits, party costumes, fishing clothes, swimwear). Lampshaded in one episode when Zephir, temporarily acting as Babar's personal assistant, has all of Babar's trademark green suits sent to the cleaners, resulting in the King of Celesteville having to give a public address in his bathrobe.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: The Old Lady, Babar's surrogate mother from France is the only human in Celesteville, living among Civilized Animals.
  • A Lizard Named "Liz": Subverted with a thief named Al in “Object D’Arthur” who is clearly a crocodile, not an alligator (he's got interlocking teeth like a crocodile, rather than an alligator's overbite).
  • MacGuffin: The tail feather of the Weeping Wonderbird in "The Gift". Babar and Zephir go on a dangerous quest to Way Out Mountain to obtain the feather as the perfect gift to Madame, and Rataxes and Basil follow so that they can get the feather for themselves.
  • Mama Bear:
    • Babar's mother, who fiercely defends her son from the hunter before she gets shot.
    • Celeste also grows up to be this.
    • Zola in "Land of Mysterious Water" fiercely protects her son Igor from menacing condors.
  • Meaningful Name: Pompadour wears a Pompadour-style wig.
  • Mischief-Making Monkey: Zephir is quite the prankster. This became particularly troublesome in "Monkey Business", where his pranking spree had gone out of hand so Babar made him a guard for the palace's peanut garden, only for the monkey to make false alarms for the fun of it.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: The show supposedly takes place in Africa, but in "Babar's Triumph", tigers and bears are mentioned (although not shown) being invited to the Jungle Council (mostly so that Babar's kids can quote the line "Lions, tigers and bears, oh my!", and a toucan and an armadillo were seen. Bears, alligators, and kangaroos are seen throughout the show as citizens of Celesteville, though they could have come from outside Africa. The Purple Nightshadow from "Witch's Potion" is shown to be a rattlesnake, which are only found in the Americas.
  • Mock Cousteau: Babar's old friend Jacques-Yves Crouton, a French-accented bird and famous underwater explorer called in to investigate "The Unsalted Sea Serpent".
  • Modest Royalty: Babar and Celeste's everyday clothing isn't much different than that of some of their citizens, aside from the crowns they wear. Their children are even more casual, with Pom and Alexander wearing plain t-shirts and shorts.
  • Monster Façade: The eponymous giant gorilla from the episode "Conga the Terrible" lives by himself on an island, and has a fearsome reputation. When Babar and his friends get shipwrecked on his island, the ape menaces them several times. Eventually, Cornelius stands up to him and learns that he's really a Gentle Giant who acts scary because he believes people will always see him as a monster, and to drive away people who may want to capture him.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: The mother sea serpent from the episode "The Unsalted Sea Serpent" is fiercely protective of her child but is otherwise a Gentle Giant.
  • Monster-Shaped Mountain: The most conspicuous feature of Skull Island, home of the titular ape in "Conga the Terrible", is a mountain resembling a human skull.
  • Mood Whiplash: Babar's first Step starts out quite cute, mostly centering on Babar playing with Celeste and Arthur and his mother happily watching....the first blow of the hunter's rifle shatters the tone, along with the sky.
  • Music Soothes the Savage Beast: The crocodile in "The Gift" lets Babar and Zephir go when they sing him a song.
  • My Beloved Smother: "The Diaperman Cometh" starts with Lady Rataxes constantly worried for Victor's safety as he goes away on an overnight camping trip. Truth in Television, as mother rhinos are very protective of their calves and need to look out for them at all times, or else the calves wouldn't survive long
  • Naïve Newcomer: Babar when he first arrives in Paris. He mistakes a police officer blowing a whistle to direct traffic as the cry of some species he's never heard of, believes that oranges in a fruit stand are free and mistakes the police chasing him as more hunters, and has no clue what money is when asked if he can pay the fine for the damage he caused. If he hadn't met Madame, who knows what else could have happened.
  • The Napoleon: General Pameer is a very short rhinoceros who even dresses like Napoléon Bonaparte.
  • Never Say "Die": Zig-Zagged. In early episodes, death is discussed and even shown, but after the construction of Celesteville, things have become so safe that the worst thing an assassin can be said to have planned for Babar is kidnapping.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile:
    • Zigzagged with the crocodile king in "Babar's Triumph". He threatens to eat the other animals if they irritate him, but he is negotiable and helps with putting out the fire caused by the Hunter.
    • In "The Gift", Babar and Zephir encounter an enormous crocodile who attempts to eat them, but is calmed down with a song. Basil also attempts to sing to the crocodile, but Rataxes stops him, so they end up having to fight the crocodile with golf clubs instead.
    • Zigzagged in "The Coin". Captain Sanga and his two Mates are all crocodiles, and in return for retrieving the sleeping sickness medicine that Celesteville so desperately needs, they make Babar vow that should anyone provide him with a piece of a gold coin they divide as a token of this event, he will grant a single favor they ask, no matter how extreme or unreasonable. Subverted in that not only is Sanga's 1st Mate's favor cashed in for the reasonable request of a ship, but Cornelius reveals that Sanga secretly gave his piece of the coin to Cornelius as both a sign of his admiration for Babar's courage and to thank Cornelius for saving his life when he caught sleeping sickness himself, asking that Cornelius use this as a safeguard against someone making unreasonable demands with the other two pieces.
    • Played straight in "Object d' Arthur", where one of the episode's two main villains is a crocodile thief named Al.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Babar is a good and responsible king, and a loving father.
    • Celeste is a caring queen, mother, and wife.
    • Madame is a sweet old lady, and a loving parental figure for Babar.
    • Whenever he's not helping Rataxes's plot against the elephants, Basil is friendly and easy to get along with.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • As unfortunate as it is, Babar was indirectly responsible for the death of his mother. When the herd is considering leaving due to the possible threat that has arrived in their jungle (the hunter), Babar intervenes and insists that the valley is there home and they stay. The others are charmed by the kid and comply, but shortly after, the hunter arrives and begins his reign of terror on the herd by shooting Babar's mother. If they had left earlier, she probably would have lived.
    • Pompadour gets one in King Tuttle's Vote. Celesteville is looking to solve the lake's pollution problem and are attempting to persuade the other kingdoms to vote in their favor. It soon becomes landslide with the turtle king's vote being the deciding one. Celeste invites him and his wife to come and discuss the matter, only to yet again be haplessly criticized by Pompadour for her non-protocal tactics. This is the final straw for Celeste, who walks out on the project. When the Turtle king and his wife come, they reveal that it was Celeste's letter that made voting against pollution appeal to them and they wish to discuss the matter with her. Pompadour ends up receiving the task of persuading Celeste to return, while Babar watches for his own amusement.
  • No Fair Cheating: Besides being disqualified by Cornelius for his two attempts at cheating in the father-son games, Rataxes ends up sending Victor into a Heroic BSoD, shocked that his dad would do that.
  • Noble Bird of Prey: Zola the Eagle from "Land of Mysterious Water", who protects both Alexander and her son from some dangerous condors.
  • Non Sequitur, *Thud*: In the episode "Alexander the Great", after the kids and Uncle Arthur survive a plane crash, Flora and Pom run over to him and ask him if he is okay. Arthur then mutters that he thinks he'll open his presents now before thudding flat on his fat (or chubby) grey back.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up:
    • Averted somewhat with Babar and Celeste's youngest daughter, Isabelle, who goes from baby to toddler over the course of the series. Pom, Flora and Alexander also age slightly in the Adult-Babar episodes
    • Pompadour, Cornelius, Rataxes, Basil, Lady Rataxes, and the old lady all look exactly the same age as they did when Babar, Celeste and Arthur were kids.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Babar initially received this reaction from his herd when he insisted on using the modern tactics that he had learned in the city against the hunter, believing that their primitive tactics (via, stampede) will suffice perfectly. When said tactics fail miserably and Babar's work perfectly, the others realize that Babar knows what he is doing and appoint him king.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Pompadour and Basil can both throw literal mountains of paperwork at you on a moments' notice.
  • On One Condition: In "The Seabed Land", Babar and Sheldon try to stop the forced wedding between Princess Sandy and Octolunga by employing this trope on the giant octopus; Octolunga can only marry Sandy as long as he doesn't 1) angry for one small thing, 2) wave his tentacles around, and 3) pollute the water with his ink. Octolunga doesn't follow up to these conditions so Babar and Sheldon call the wedding off, but this only gets Octolunga extremely enraged that he declares he will force Sandy to marry him regardless. Later, after Octolunga has another fit of rage that results in him all tangled up and abandoned by his shark henchmen, the royal elephant family agrees to untangle him as long he calls off the forced wedding, controls his temper, and doesn't dirty the sea.
  • Only Friend: Subverted Trope in the main story of the episode "The Missing Crown Affair". Babar wakes up in the morning of his first coronation anniversary to find his crown missing. And to make things worse, almost all of his friends are suddenly acting in a strange manner. Zephir the monkey is the only one, who is the same as always. Babar believes that a coup d'etat to remove him from his throne has been set into motion, and Zephir is now his only friend. Of course, it all turns out fine. All of the other friends were planning a surprise party for Babar, and the crown was only taken from him so they could have an ingraving done inside it. But if the others hadn't decided to keep Zephir out of the loop (and we don't find out why he was never included in their secret), Babar would have thought that he suddenly had no friend at all.
  • Ostrich Head Hiding: In "The Show Must Go On", Mademoiselle Soretoza would bury her head in a sandbox whenever things don't go her way.
  • Papa Wolf: Babar won't let anything bad happen to his family. And neither will Celeste.
  • Parental Neglect: While Babar and Celeste are normally Good Parents, they go into this in one episode where they spend all their time taking care of new-born baby Isabelle and neglect their older three kids. And even though Pom and Alexander seem to take this extraordinarily well, Flora is notably upset by the neglect (especially as she's not even allowed to do anything, that may disturb the baby).
  • Permission to Speak Freely: Babar's subjects occasionally ask this of him. Though Babar is so cool-headed that they could probably just speak their minds without having to ask it.
  • Polar Bears and Penguins: "Land of Ice". Justified in that the titular land is fictional.
  • The Prima Donna: Mademoiselle Soretoza, the ostrich ballet dancer, from "The Show Must Go On". She treats everyone involved in the performance like complete crap, causing each of them to leave one by one, until only Babar and Celeste remain, the former then proceeding to give the Ostrich a well-deserved "Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Prone to Tears:
    • Flora is prone to crying quite a bit.
    • The Weeping Wonderbird in "The Gift" is called as such for a good reason.
  • Put on a Bus: The Old Lady, Pompadour, Troubadour, Basil, Lady Rataxes, and Victor in the final season. Isabelle and Cornelius only appear in the first and last episodes, and Arthur appears in the last. Rataxes makes a cameo appearance in a story told by Babar.
  • Quicksand Sucks: In "The Gift", while chasing Rataxes and Basil to get back the feather the rhinos stole from them, Babar and Zephir gets trapped in a sand trap. Rataxes initially wants to let them drown, but his guilt gets the better of him and rescues them.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: In "Between Friends," Celeste and Zephyr each tell the story of their fender bender in a way that puts all the blame on the other, complete with differing flashbacks.
  • Read the Fine Print: In "Rhino War", a tired and bored Rataxes switches from reading and signing all the documents he confronted with to just mechanically stamping them all with his seal. This bites him in the butt when General Pameer stealthily presents him with "Plan 42/H" and gets Rataxes to stamp it. As Rataxes learns later, Form 42/H is the official Declaration of War, allowing General Pameer to launch an invasion of Celesteville
  • Related in the Adaptation:
    • While Celeste and Arthur are already related in the books as they were Babar's cousins, here they are siblings. This is in contrast to the first book, where they both have separate mothers.
    • Inverted with Babar's relationship with Celeste, who goes from cousin to childhood girlfriend he ends up marrying.
  • Retool: The final season of the original series featured a major shift in direction, sending Babar and his family on a hot-air balloon through a number of Magical Lands including the Land of Toys and the Land of Mysterious Water, journeying for the great Land of Happiness. To signify this, the opening credits sequence was altered for the only time in the show's history and the opening and closing themes were changed to a remixed version of the theme that had previously been used for the closing credits. This version of the program is technically an Anime - it was made in part by Kodansha and the episodes were written by Japanese writers, as well as one episode featuring anthropomorphic tanukis or raccoon dogs.
  • Rhino Rampage: Rhinoceroses are generally portrayed as boisterous, violent animals ruled by the selfish dictator Rataxes, who often antagonize the elephants. In the earlier episodes, they sometimes fight their opponents that go on all fours to charge at them. They also celebrate a holiday named "Rhino Rampage Day" when they, traditionally, collectively go on a stampede through the jungle, stomping everything in their way.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Babar (and his family). Possibly also Lord Rataxes.
  • Scarily Specific Story: In the episode "A Tale of Two Siblings", Alexander, who is babysitting his little sister Isabelle but going through a phase of finding her annoying, tells her a scary story. He makes up a monster who only eats the younger sisters of families.
  • Sea Serpents: "The Unsalted Sea Serpent" has a big menacing sea serpent and its baby offspring living in the local lake.
  • Self-Serving Memory: This affects Celeste and Zephir's accounts of the fender-bender that lands them in court in one episode.
  • Sherlock Homage: Zephir in "The Missing Crown Affair" puts on a deerstalker hat and walks around with a magnifying glass when he helps Babar find his stolen crown.
  • Shorter Means Smarter:
    • Basil is often shown being more intelligent and more competent in running the country than Rataxes, and is a lot shorter than him.
    • Troubadour is somewhat smarter than Pompadour, too.
  • Shout-Out: Many, to everything from The War of the Worlds to The Phantom of the Opera to old Hitchcock films.
  • Skewed Priorities: In Race to the moon, Babar considers repairing the damaged community theater a far more valuable use of time than trying to beat the rhinos at the first lunar voyage in history, not once occurring to him that they could go down in history for one of the greatest historical achievements ever and have the honor of beating not only the rhinos but humankind for the feat.
  • Snakes Are Sinister:
    • The Old Lady gets bitten by a venomous snake in "The City of Elephants".
    • "Witch's Potion" has the Purple Nightshadow, a particularly deadly and feared rattlesnake.
    • Averted in "Babar's Triumph", where a snake is taking part in the Jungle Council.
  • Spoiler Title: Babar's Triumph. Try and guess whether Babar defeats the Hunter or not.
  • Stock Ness Monster: The titular creature of the episode "The Unsalted Sea Serpent".
  • Take a Third Option: Babar is uncertain whether to crown Celeste or the Gorilla king's daughter as "the belle of the ball" in Babar's Choice. Who does he crown? Madame.
  • Talking Animal: Apparently, in this universe, all animals are like this, including most non-anthropomorphic ones. The humans aren't surprised at all that Babar can talk.
  • Tanuki: Mark, his grandfather, and Dave from "The Land of Treats" are anthropomorphic raccoon dogs. This is clearly a result of the 2000 revival being produced in part by Kondasha and the episodes being written by Japanese writers.
  • Tanuki/Kitsune Contrast: A subtle one in the 2000s revival (which was partially produced in Japan). One episode "The Land of Treats" has Babar's family befriending a tanuki, while a later episode "The Land of the Treasure Hunt" features a trio of foxes as antagonists.
  • Tentacled Terror: Octolunga from "The Seabed Land" is a giant octopus who bullies other sea creatures and throws a tantrum when things don't go his way, as well as forcing the mermaid Princess Sandy to marry him. After a humiliating defeat by Babar and his family who employ the cephalopod's own anger against him, he pulls a Heel–Face Turn.
  • The Space Race: The elephants and rhinos have their own in the episode Race to the Moon, which Babar takes an immediate disliking to.
  • Theatre Phantom: One episode features a Phantom-esque character who lived in the cellars of a rundown movie house, and frightened people away so that he could be left alone. He (unnecessarily) wore a Domino Mask.
  • Threatening Shark: In "The Seabed Land", Octolunga has two hammerhead sharks as his henchmen.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Princess Midge takes a liking to Zephir. She's a huge gorilla while he's a small monkey.
  • Title Theme Drop: The opening and closing themes are regularly featured as background music.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The reason for the hunter's death. While all of his men evacuate their enflamed camp, he finds himself so consumed by his hatred and ego, that he maniacally declares (in his first and last speaking role) that he won't run and will destroy all the animals in the jungle, right before being consumed by the flames.
  • Torture Cellar: Rataxes' son Victor implies that the basement dungeon of the family pyramid was like this, until "Mom had it redecorated".
  • Underwear Flag: One episode has Zephyr the monkey pull up Cornelius's underpants on a flagpole in place of the royal flag as a prank.
  • The Unintelligible: The Gorilla King from "Babar's Choice". He speaks in a language consisting of grunts and gibberish words, and Pompadour has to use a dictionary to interpret what he says. At least until the end of the episode, where he cheers for his daughter's dance in English.
  • Two-Timer Date: The premise of "Babar's Choice": Babar wants to take Celeste to the ball, but palace protocol dictates he should take the Gorilla King's daughter. He decides to take both.
  • Unreliable Voiceover:
    • Used for laughs in "The Coin", where Rataxes describes his winning the fragment held by Captain Sanga's 2nd Mate in a "quiet, intellectual retreat" after a fair contest of skill, whilst the flashback animation shows he was slumming it in a seedy dockside tavern and he won thanks to Basil helping him to cheat via a magnet.
    • Also used by Babar in King Tuttle's vote. While Pompadour is trying to convince a stubborn Celeste to return to the Anti-Pollution project after driving her away with his constant critcisms of her nonformal tactics of doing so, Babar describes him as handling the situation with "grace, poise and dignity", none of which are aspects Pompadour uses in the slighest.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: When young Babar arrives to the city, people don't bat an eye at a baby elephant walking around, and nobody is surprised that he can talk. They practically treat him as if he was a human child.
  • Villainous Rescue: In "The Gift", Babar and Zephir fall into a sand trap, and Rataxes first wants to leave them behind, but his conscience awakens and he rescues the elephant king and the monkey. He asks them to not tell anyone about his good deed, as it would ruin his tough public image.
  • Vine Swing: In "The Gift", Zephir, Basil and Babar swing on vines as they try to snatch the feather of the Weeping Wonderbird from each other. Babar ends up bumping into a tree.
  • Vocal Evolution: In Double The Guards young Babar's voice actor sounds a tad deeper, but this strangely is the only instance of this. All subsequent episodes featuring young Babar feature his voice sounding the same as usual.
  • White Flag: Pompadour has flown one twice, one to surrender to the hunter in Babar's Triumph and the other to surrender to General Pomeer in Rhino War. Three times, if you count the time he waved one to indicate that he and Cornelius couldn't run the malt shop and wanted to give the job back to Zephir.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The episodes of the first and second seasons consist almost entirely of these, with each being introduced through the device of the adult Babar recalling some incident from his childhood to his children as a bedtime story. Later episodes take place entirely in the present, mostly focusing on the kids (Pom, Alexander and Flora}.
  • Wise Old Turtle:
    • In "Babar's Triumph", the turtle king is the first of the other animals to ally with Babar upon learning the Hunter's return.
    • In "The Seabed Land", the first sea creature to befriend Babar's family is an elderly giant sea turtle named Sheldon, who is Princess Sandy's Number Two.
  • With Due Respect: Another phrase that crops up, given the setting.
  • Women Are Wiser: Lady Rataxes plays this trope one-hundred percent straight with her husband. Celeste also occasionally has a bit more common sense than Babar, but the two are generally on par with one another in that regard.
  • You Killed My Mother: What the hunter did to Babar's mother.
  • Your Size May Vary: Correlates with the Anthropomorphic Shift. While walking on all fours, the elephants are as big as real elephants should be compared to humans, but after starting to walk on two legs and wear clothes, they become not much bigger than large humans.

Tropes featured in The Movie include:

  • Adaptational Villainy: Rataxes is far more menacing than in previous incarnations.
  • Alternate Continuity: May be the case, considering the Continuity Snarl below.
  • Animation Bump: The movie has far more fluid animation and detailed backgrounds than in the series.
  • Award-Bait Song: "The Best We Both Can Be."
  • Big Bad: Rataxes, with his plot to conquer Elephant Land and enslave all of the elephants.
  • Brutish Bulls: Cape buffalos briefly appear as mounts for the rhino soldiers during the attack on the elephant village.
  • Continuity Snarl: Celesteville (which is not referred to as such in this movie and instead called Elephant Land) seems to already be built on Babar's first day as king here, unlike the books and original TV series.
  • Cub Cues Protective Parent: As he leaves Elephant Land, Babar comes across a leopard cub that tries to scare him, to his amusement. But then he gets startled by the appearance of an adult leopard that nearly pounces on him... and carries off the cub, revealing to be its mother.
  • The Dreaded: Lord Rataxes. Just the mere mention of his name sends Zephir's troop of monkeys fleeing into hiding.
    Zephir: You must be nuts! Nobody wants to find Rataxes.
  • Evil Overlord: Lord Rataxes captures elephants from villages, enslaves them, and ultimately tries to conquer their kingdom. (A last-minute ruse from Babar sends him and his rhinos fleeing—quite literally, from his property.) This is in contrast to the television series, where he is a much more complex character and a Friendly Enemy of Babar.
  • Large Ham: Rataxes may have gotten meaner, but he's now also sporting a huge appetite for scenery.
    "Well, you'll have to excuse me, Your Majesty, BUT I'M OFF TO CRUSH YOUR PUNY KINGDOM TO A PULP!"
  • Map Stabbing: While Rataxes and his army go over their plan to invade Elephantland, he sticks a dagger on a map of the jungle precisely where the kingdom is.
  • The Movie: Technically so. It was finished before production on the tv series began, but was not released until a few months after the series premiered. Therefore, it appears to be set in an Alternate Continuity, where the elephants are already civilized when Babar becomes a king, and Rataxes being far more evil.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Croc appears to play this straight at first but turns out to be a subversion.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Cornelius and Pompadour give young Celeste this treatment when she warns them about how Rataxes and his army are after the elephants, claiming "it just isn't done." Fortunately, Babar believes her and it's his call whether to do something about it or not as king. Less fortunately, preparing his army will take too long to prepare, and decides to take matter into his own hands.
  • Protagonist Title: Just like the original books it was based off of.
  • Rescue: The goal of Babar and Celeste throughout the film. The one in question being the latter's mother.
  • Rhino Rampage: The main villains are an evil army of rhinos led by Rataxes, who capture elephants for slavery and try to take over their land. Young Celeste almost namedrops this trope when she comes to Babar's palace for help.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: A python appears to show that Babar and Celeste are near Rhinoland.
  • Visual Pun: While chasing after Babar and Celeste in Rataxes's palace, the rhino guards get covered in tar, making them black rhinoceroses.
  • Zebras Are Just Striped Horses: Zebras are used by both elephants and rhinos to pull their carriages. Apparently, these zebras are strong enough to pull the weight of elephants and rhinos.

Tropes featured in Babar: King of the Elephants include:

  • Adaptational Badass: Unlike in Babar and His Children, Celeste plays a role in saving Alexander when he drifts away in a floating hat and gets menaced by a crocodile. She dives into the water after telling Arthur to stay behind to look after her other children and Zephir, and after Babar subdues the crocodile, she lends a trunk in saving Alexander from drowning.
  • Age-Progression Song: "I Can Take Good Care of Me", which showcases Babar's life in the city from child to adult.
  • Continuity Reboot: This movie is a retelling of the original books and ignores the TV series and previous movie.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Just like in the book "The Travels of Babar", Rataxes declares war on the elephants just because Arthur played a prank on him (by tying a tree to his tail, rather than a firecracker as in the book). He does realize he went too far upon his defeat and apologizes for it.
  • Elephants Never Forget: Defied. At the beginning of the film, the marabou narrator says that the elephants had forgotten what the Ancient Song of the Elephants means. It's the birds that haven't forgotten, since they've been around for a long time always watching over things.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: A crocodile attacks Alexander only to be hit by an anchor thrown by Babar.
  • Nightmare Sequence: The film actually climaxes in one of these, adapted from the book Babar the King, where Babar's fears manifests in the forms of the Beasts of Haste and Misfortune.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Said by the general of the rhino army when Rataxes declares they mobilize.
  • Related in the Adaptation: While there is no indication that Celeste and Arthur are cousins of Babar, it is also ambiguous whether they are brother and sister like in the show.
  • Reluctant Warrior: None of the rhinos besides Rataxes seem to want to fight the elephants, even the general of his army. It's only by his insistence that they fight at all, and once he calms down, the battle ends immediately.
  • Rhino Rampage: Triggered by Arthur and two other elephants playing a prank on the rhino leader Rataxes by tying a tree to his tail. At one point, the rhinos stampede through the forest, leaving behind a trail of destruction.
  • Snakes Are Sinister:
    • A cobra threatens Babar during his journey out of the jungle. Later, Zephir gets menaced by another cobra after mistakenly grabbing it instead of his battalion and it ends up biting the Old Lady, only for Arthur to scare it away blowing his trumpet loudly at it.
    • Averted during Babar and Celeste's wedding, where a python is among the animals celebrating.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The cobra that bites the Old Lady. In Babar the King, it was killed when Arthur smashes its back with his trumpet. Here, he just blows his trumpet loudly at it, sending it fleeing.