And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk, the Law runneth forward and back —
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack."
A collection of stories published in 1894 by Rudyard Kipling, primarily about a Wild Child named Mowgli, and followed by a sequel, The Second Jungle Book, in 1895. The stories detail Mowgli's childhood and youth, of his upbringing with the wolf-pack and his battles with the great lame tiger Shere Khan, of his friendships with Bagheera the panther, Baloo the bear, and Kaa the python, of his abduction by the Bandar-Log of the Cold Lairs, and his great war against the Dhole, of his meeting with the White Cobra and his vendetta against his old people. Not all of the stories concerned Mowgli; the most well known exceptions being "Rikki Tikki Tavi" and "Toomai of the Elephants" in the first, and "The Miracle of Purun Bhagat" and "The Undertakers" in the second.
In 1900, Kipling wrote a stage adaptation of the Mowgli stories which he never published or produced. It was finally discovered among his papers and published in 2000 as The Jungle Play.
The original work is out of copyright in many countries, including the UK and the US, so Mowgli and friends are now Public Domain Characters.note
The Jungle Books were instant hits and remain popular today, more than a century after they were conceived by Kipling. There are endless debates about the quality of Kipling's prose and poetry, his politics and racial views, but the books are still considered classics.
Disney found The Jungle Book, and loved at least some of its ideas, so they chose it for one of their Animated Adaptations. The result was and is widely considered a great Disney film, the best and perhaps most original animated Disney film of the 1960s. That said, this adaptation of The Jungle Book was one of the greatest cases of Adaptation Displacement in history, so great a case that Disney felt free to use some of Mowgli's friends and foes and rivals far, far away from the books and jungles where they were conceived, and so it considers them its own. This is the probable reason why Kipling doesn't receive a credit on TaleSpin, an Animated Series that puts three of the main characters from The Jungle Book (or Disney's version, at least) into an Alternate Continuity. A second series was created using the Disney interpretations Jungle Cubs reinventing the childhood lives of the animal residents into comical stories. See Disney: The Jungle Book.
On the other hand, the great animation genius, Chuck Jones, produced three animated TV specials in the 1970s, Mowgli's Brothers, Rikki Tikki Tavi and The White Seal that were much more faithful to the original stories.
There is also a Soviet animated series called Adventures of Mowgli, that is extremely faithful to the stories and to the general mood and style. No human-like mimics in animals here. However, some of the animal characters changed their gender — most notably, Bagheera is female (since the word "panther" is always feminine in Russian) in this adaptation. Rikki Tikki Tavi has also been adapted twice in the Soviet Union: first, as a 1965 cartoon, then, in 1975, as a live action film.
An anime series based on the books was also created. Jungle Book: Shonen Mowgli, though somewhat more faithful to the original novels than the Disney adaption, takes a similar more whimsical atmosphere, as well as expanding the cast and plot line to fit its over fifty episode long run. The anime aired during the late eighties and early nineties, amusingly around the same time Disney recycled some of their concepts adapted from the books for The Disney Afternoon series TaleSpin.
There was a live-action 1994 film based on the Jungle Book, called Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. It was directed by Stephen Sommers. While taking elements from the original books and the 1967 animated film, it had a very different storyline. It mostly focused on Mowgli's (Jason Scott Lee) life after leaving the jungle: having to become accustomed to life in British-colonial India and attempting to woo upper-class love interest Katherine Anne "Kitty" Brydon (Lena Headey). See Film: The Jungle Book.
An unrelated film called The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli & Baloo (1997) was released, possibly to cash in on the popularity of the above. It featured a still pre-teen Mowgli (Jamie Williams) pursued by the recruiting agents of a circus. The film performed poorly in theaters, but proved a hit in the video market. Which explains why there was yet another live action film, Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story (1998), a straight to video production. It featured Brandon Baker as Mowgli and various voice actors speaking for the animal characters. Despite featuring well-known actors such as Clancy Brown and Nancy Cartwright, it seems to be the most obscure of the three (though ironically the nearest Disney got to a faithful rendition of the novel).
There are two film adaptations, both featuring a combination of live actors and CGI with an All-Star Cast of voice actors. One, which came out in 2016, is produced by Disney and directed by Jon Favreau. The other, due to release in 2018, is titled Jungle Book: Origins, produced by Warner Bros., and directed by Andy Serkis (who will also play Baloo via motion capture). Interestingly, both adaptations Gender Flip Kaa the python (voiced by Scarlett Johansson and Cate Blanchett, respectively).
More recently (2010), there has been an Indian-made CGI TV series comprising 15-minute episodes, very loosely based on the stories and aimed at younger viewers.
There have also been several comic book adaptations, including an issue of Classics Illustrated (1951), three issues of Dell Four-Color (1953-5), a serialisation in Marvel Fanfare (1980s), and three Second Jungle Book stories adapted by P. Craig Russell (1985-96).
Beside The Jungle Play, a high number of stage adaptations have been created, including A dzsungel könyve in Hungary.
- The Mowgli Arc: The stories and poems covering the life and adventures of Mowgli. In the first Jungle Book alone, these make up the first six of the fourteen tales (three stories and three poems), whilst the second Jungle Book adds five more stories. A third fan-written Jungle Book is devoted entirely to more of these stories.
- Mowgli's Brothers: Also known as Night-Song in the Jungle, this is the story of how Mowgli comes to be raised as part of the Seeonee wolf pack in India, becoming a student of Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther.
- Hunting Song of the Seeonee Pack: A poem representing the viewpoint of the wolf pack that raised Mowgli.
- Kaa's Hunting: A young Mowgli is abducted by the scatterbrained monkeys, the Bandar-log, and Baloo and Bagheera must recruit Kaa the giant rock python to help them rescue the man-cub.
- Road Song of the Bandar-log: A poem representing the made-up gleeful song that the Bandar-log sing as they caper through the jungle.
- Tiger! Tiger!: Having finally grown up and left the jungle for the company of his own kind, Mowgli struggles to be accepted in such an alien environment, even as Shere Khan continues to seek his death. Finally, Mowgli leaves the village and returns to the jungle, slaying Shere Khan and returning to the pack.
- Mowgli's Song: A poem representing Mowgli's triumphant song upon returning to the wolf pack with Shere Khan's hide.
- How Fear Came: Set before Tiger! Tiger! this story details Mowgli meeting Hathi the elephant during a water truce in a drought, during which Hathi tells him the story of how tigers became.
- The Law of the Jungle: A poem covering some of the oft-mentioned law of the jungle, featured so often in the Mowgli stories.
- Letting in the Jungle: Mowgli hears that his adoptive parents from the village he tried to settle in are being threatened with death because of his "being an evil sorcerer", and so he leads his animal allies to raid the village and drive the inhabitants away.
- Mowgli's Song Against People: A poem covering Mowgli's declaration of war against the village that so persecuted him and his human family.
- The King's Ankus: Mowgli discovers a long-lost treasure hoard and learns of how men will kill for gold.
- Red Dog: The jungle is invaded by a huge pack of the red-furred dholes of India, and Mowgli rallies the animals to kill the invaders.
- The Spring Running: Mowgli, driven by urges he can't control or understand, finds the village where his adoptive mother has resettled, and considers trying to rejoin human society again. Finally, he makes his choice and departs the jungle.
- The Outsong: A poem describing the song Mowgli kept hearing during The Spring Running.
- Chil's Song: A poem about Chil, the carrion-eating kite (a character from the Mowgli arc).
- The White Seal: A Heroic Albino Northern fur seal named Kotick despairs over how his people are slaughtered by humans, and eventually leads them to a secret island where they can be safe from hunters.
- Lukannon: A poem representing the anthem song that the seals of St. Paul's beaches sing when they return to their beaches for the summer.
- Rikki-Tikki-Tavi: A mongoose washed out of his burrow and half-drowned by a torrential rainstorm is rescued by a British family living in an Indian bungalow. In gratitude, he protects them against the resident snakes, predominantly a mated pair of cobras named Nag and Nagaina.
- Darzee's Chant: A poem that represents the song Darzee the tailor bird began fashioning in honor of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi for his killing of Nag and Nagaina.
- Toomai of the Elephants: A young elephant handler manages to spy upon the long-fabled Dance of the Elephants, something that he has been told will ensure he will become a great elephant handler.
- Shiv and the Grasshopper: A poem that represents the nursery song sung to Toomai's little brother by their mother.
- Her Majesty's Servants/Servants of the Queen: A British soldier manages to eavesdrop on conversations between the animals of his camp the night before a big military parade.
- Parade Song of the Camp Animals: A poem parodying several well-known military songs/poems.
- The Miracle of Purun Bhagat: A formerly influential Indian politican becomes an ascetic holy man, befriends animals, and with their help saves a village from a landslide.
- A Song of Kabir: A poem about a man who becomes a baigiri.
- The Undertakers: The three most unpleasant denizens of the river — a crocodile, a stork and a jackal — spend an afternoon quarreling before some Englishmen arrive to slay the crocodile for being a man-eater.
- A Ripple Song: A short poem about how death lies beneath the rippling waters of an Indian river.
- The Song of the Little Hunter: A short poem about how fear stalks the Indian jungles and those who live there.
- Quiquern: Two Inuit teenagers, one boy and one girl, set out into the wilderness from a village dying of starvation, following what they hope is the titular spirit to find food — unbeknownst that "Quiquern" is nothing more than two escaped dogs still tied together, so they appear as a single two-headed two-tailed eight-legged beast.
- Angutivaun Taina: A poem translating the Inuit "song of the returning hunter".
- The Ace: Bagheera, and to an extent Mowgli himself.
- Animal Stampede:
- Mowgli engineers the demise of Shere Khan by receiving news that the tiger is prowling in a canyon, hoping to surprise a herd of water buffalo. Mowgli and his wolf pack allies launch a mock attack on the herd from the opposite side, driving them into the same canyon as where Shere Khan is staying. The stampede results in a gruesome overkill.
- The dholes/Red Dog from the eponymous story also function as this, and in a much more ecologically damaging way.
- Animal Stereotypes: Played straight for everyone except for Kaa, strangely enough, who only really falls into Creepy Good territory if you're not Mowgli (who actually has a fairly positive relationship with him). That said, Kaa is still not an exception to this as he plays the much less common snake stereotype as representing wisdom and longevity, as well as the benevolent role pythons tend to get.
- Arch-Enemy: Shere Khan. He's been trying to kill Mowgli since he was a baby. Eventually the feeling is mutual and Mowgli vows to kill Shere Khan.
- Artifact of Attraction: The eponymous object in "The King's Ankus", a jewel-studded ivory artifact that Mowgli finds in a lost treasure chamber and then carelessly discards. He soon discovers that the Ankus causes men to kill each other for greed, and wonders why he alone is immune.
- Artistic License – Biology:
- The wolves in these stories live a very long time, staying young and strong by the time Mowgli is around ten years old. Only Akela is said to be getting old by this time. In real life, wild wolves have a life expectancy of around six years.
- Tabaqui has hydrophobia, better known to modern readers as rabies. It's treated as a cyclic disease, in that he succumbs to "madness" every so often before becoming his normal cowardly self again, and there's no hint that he's in any danger from it. Rabies in real life is fatal, and once the symptomatic stage is hit, it never regresses.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: The Bandar-log constantly talk about taking over the jungle, but can never focus on this goal long enough to do anything.
- Badass Boast: When the aging Akela tries to save Mowgli's life, he says he will not fight back during the Klingon Promotion: "This will save the pack at least three lives".
- Badass Creed: For predators:Now Chil the Kite brings home the night,
That Mang the Bat sets free.
The herds are shut in byre and hut,
For loosed til dawn are we.
This is the hour of pride and power,
Of talon and tush and claw.
Now hear the call, good hunting all,
That keep the Jungle Law.
- Bears Are Bad News: Averted with Baloo, who might be a stern mentor, but is one of the most loyal supporters of Mowgli. He's also not a predator, as "he eats only nuts and roots and honey".
- Bee Afraid: Used as a battle tactic against the dholes in the story "Red Dog." Mowgli provokes the dholes into chasing him, and leads them to a gorge where a number of massive beehives overhang a fast-flowing river. Mowgli, running ahead of the dhole, riles up the bees by throwing stones at the hives and then escapes both the pack and the angry swarm by diving into the river, where Kaa the python is waiting to save him from the current. The dhole are not so lucky and many are either stung to death or drown in the river.
- Berserk Button: Do not. Harm. Mowgli's. Mother. He will not kill you. He will systematically ruin your village, and send you scurrying for your life.
- Big Bad: Shere Khan the tiger.
- Big Brother Mentor: Bagheera and Baloo, especially the former. Occasionally, Kaa and Brother Wolf.
- Bittersweet Ending:
- In the first book, Mowgli kills Shere Khan, but after refusing to hand over his hide to a hunter, the latter convinces the village that Mowgli is a shape-shifting sorcerer, leading to the village driving Mowgli out. Mowgli is offered to rejoin the wolf pack, but refuses as they had forced him out before and decides to hunt alone, joined only by his four wolf "brothers", but it ends with a mention of him eventually getting married.
- Notably, the first one is the only one to have a Mowgli story end at a relatively happy ending: "Kaa's Hunting" has some dangerous spots, but all the main characters get out of the situation relatively okay, Mowgli has a new ally, and after some mild punishment for his actions all is forgiven and at peace. Every other story by itself has it's own Bittersweet Ending.
- In the second book seventeen-year-old Mowgli becomes restless for reasons he does not understand. Later he rediscovers his adopted mother Messua, now widowed and raising her infant son alone. After much soul-searching Mowgli decides he can no longer live with his animal friends and they watch sadly as he returns to Messua and human society.
- In the first book, Mowgli kills Shere Khan, but after refusing to hand over his hide to a hunter, the latter convinces the village that Mowgli is a shape-shifting sorcerer, leading to the village driving Mowgli out. Mowgli is offered to rejoin the wolf pack, but refuses as they had forced him out before and decides to hunt alone, joined only by his four wolf "brothers", but it ends with a mention of him eventually getting married.
- Butt-Monkey: Tabaqui in many depictions tends to see his friendship with Shere Khan as something of "street cred". Since Shere Khan himself is often the butt of jokes from other animals (including his own mother), it's needless to say it doesn't quite work that way. It's also implied that he's rabid, since the book is careful to mention how prone jackals are to catching that disease.
- Casual Danger Dialog: When the villagers are turning against Mowgli, it's the wolf Akela who first recognises how much trouble Mowgli is in.The old Tower musket went off with a bang, and a young buffalo bellowed in pain.
"More sorcery!" shouted the villagers. "He can turn bullets. Buldeo, that was thy buffalo."
"Now what is this?" said Mowgli, bewildered, as the stones flew thicker.
"They are not unlike the Pack, these brothers of thine," said Akela, sitting down composedly. "It is in my head that, if bullets mean anything, they would cast thee out."
- Cats Are Mean:
- Shere Khan, a man-eating tiger and the main villain.
- Averted with Bagheera. He's devious and cunning in a way neither Baloo or the wolves are, not to mention one of the most feared animals in the jungle. Yet he is wise and honorable, and firmly remains on the side of the Jungle Law.
- Cats Are Snarkers: Shere Khan and Bagheera who, despite their different alignments have a similar, rather dark sense of humor.
- Central Theme: The importance of preservation of species.
- Chekhov's Skill: At the opening of "Kaa's Hunting", Baloo is teaching Mowgli what to say to strange animals, birds and reptiles to establish cordial relations. After he is abducted by the Bandar-log, he draws on his lessons to improve his situation, asking a passing bird to let Baloo know where he's been taken and establishing a truce with the inhabitants of a snake-infested pit the monkeys drop him into.
- Child of Two Worlds: Mowgli himself, a human raised by wolves at a very young age. When he is older the younger wolves cast him out for being too much like a man, so he goes to a human village, who cast him out for being too much like the jungle, and so Mowgli resolves to live by himself. Several verses of "Mowgli's Song" describe his liminal status and the conflicting feelings he has about his nature.As Mang [the bat] flies between the beasts and birds, so fly I
between the village and the jungle. Why?
- Cub Cues Protective Parent: One of the lessons Baloo teaches to young wolves:Oppress not the cubs of the stranger, but hail them as Sister and Brother,
For though they are little and fubsy, it may be the Bear is their mother.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Mowgli. In fact, he's pretty unimpressed by clothing in general.
- A Dog Named "Dog": Most of the animals of The Jungle Book are referred to by the name of that animal in Hindi. A few of the wolves are exceptions in having individual names.
- "Double, Double" Title: "Tiger! Tiger!", the story about the final clash between Mowgli and Shere Khan. The title is an allusion to first line of the poem "The Tyger" by William Blake.
- Dragon Hoard: It may be no mere coincidence that the lost treasure chamber of "The King's Ankus" is guarded by a very old and unusually large cobra.
- The Dreaded
- Bagheera is one of the most feared (and respected) creatures in the entire jungle.
- The giant rock python Kaa (who is first an ally and later a friend of Mowgli's) is feared by many, but absolutely terrifies the monkeys. When they outnumber their enemies a hundred to one, they'll fight Baloo or Bagheera, but they will not fight Kaa — at any odds.
- The bees, called the Little People of the Rocks. The place they live is called the Place of Death and everyone avoids it.
- Shere Khan actually averts this, despite being Mowgli's most famous enemy (mostly thanks to the Disney adaptation, where he most definitely is this trope). Most of the animals make jokes at his expense and don't take him particularly seriously.
- Eaten Alive: Kaa hypnotizes the Bandar-Log monkeys into literally walking straight into his waiting maw.
- Eloquent in My Native Tongue: In the prototype Mowgli story, "In the Rukh", when the German Muller is speaking English, his accent is rendered atrociously, but when he's speaking to Mowgli (presumably in Hindi) it's translated in the same archaic and poetic English Kipling uses to render most non-English languages.
- Embarrassing First Name: Shere Khan's mother named him "Lungri", which literally translates to "the lame one". His nickname (self-given) means "tiger king". In the book he's only referred to with his proper name by two people: Raksha and Mowgli.
- Evil Albino: Subverted with White Hood, the enormous old cobra who serves as the Warden of the King's Treasure. He tries to be scary, but he's clearly seen better days, and his bark is worse than his bite (quite literally, since his venom has dried up and his fangs have withered to uselessness).
- Exact Eavesdropping: Mowgli overhears that his adoptive human parents are to be executed, and immediately sets about saving them.
- Eyes Always Averted: It is made clear that wolves and other predators avoid eye contact. Mowgli occasionally asserts dominance over them by staring them directly in the eye.
- Fantastic Caste System: Each species acts a little like an Indian caste and has parts of the law of the Jungle designed specifically for it.
- Full-Frontal Assault: Just about any time Mowgli attacks, since he generally doesn't wear clothes at all.
- Godzilla Threshold: When Mowgli is kidnapped by The Bandar-log, Baloo and Bagheera are very apprehensive and reluctant about calling Kaa for aid, and afterwards Baloo swears to never do that again. Because they nearly get eaten by him.
- Growing Up Sucks: A recurring theme notable at several points: when Mowgli is first kicked out of the pack at the end of the first story; when he divorces himself from the pack and the villagers at the climax of "Tiger! Tiger!"; and when he must leave the jungle behind at the end of the second volume.
- Grumpy Old Man: Kaa is likely the oldest creature in the jungle and often ornery, sarcastic, or dry-humored.
- Handicapped Badass: Shere Khan was born with lame hind legs, and therefore cannot run fast and is the laughing stock of the jungle - but he's still an enormous tiger and a force to be reckoned with.
- Held Gaze: The Jungle Book references the direct gaze that, when an animal views it in Real Life, signals a threat to the animal; and it comes into play during the wolf-pack meeting at the beginning when Mowgli is allowed into the pack. His ingenuous, even gaze is unsettling to the animals gathered when he looks at them, meeting their gaze for only a few seconds, as most look away quickly except for ones like Bagheera, who knows something of the ways of men. And by the time Mowgli's grown up even Bagheera has to look away.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Not really avoided, but it's clear that the animals would rather just ignore humans. Mowgli himself, however, comes to feel this way about the villagers who take him in and then drive him out again, except for Messua, the woman who adopted him and the only one to oppose his expulsion.
- This has always been a big plot point, since the law of the jungle outright forbids any animals to kill any humans for food. The reason for this is the fact that humans are the only animals who would seek revenge for this kind of thing, and thus causing the jungle far more problems than it can afford to deal with.
- The Hunter Becomes the Hunted:
- According to "When Fear Came", once in the year, as part of the bargain the first tiger made with its creator, the tables turn, and a tiger is able to hunt and kill men without being afraid of them. There's even a loophole in the law of the jungle to let them do so. Shere Khan, being a coward at heart, has eaten many people, but usually only when that day comes.
- In "Letting in the Jungle", Buldeo goes off to hunt Mowgli and the wolf pack after claiming he's a sorcerer and devil. Mowgli, the wolf pack, and Bagheera end up driving Buldeo crazy, with the wolves and Bagheera howling and roaring around him just out of sight, while Mowgli frees his adoptive parents in the village then enlists the animals to systematically destroy the village where Buldeo lived.
- Hypnotic Eyes: From the reaction of the beasts, Mowgli seems to have a mild version.
- Idiot Ball: Mowgli has this more when he's younger. Compare "Kaa's Hunting" when he's about 7, to "Letting In the Jungle" when he's around 12 or 13, and then again to "Red Dog" at about 16 or 17. Besides some mild angst showing up, Mowgli gets smarter and less inclined to do something stupid or leave a gap in his own plans. He's also quicker to recover from a setback when he's older.
- I Gave My Word: Mowgli's motivation in more than one story.
- The Igor: Tabaqui, the jackal who kisses up to Shere Khan.
- Immune to Mind Control: Mowgli (being human) seems to be the only creature in the jungle who's immune to Kaa's hypnosis.
- The Imp: Tabaqui; being a cowardly little jackal amidst a bunch of Earth's most formidable predators, his activities consist largely of teasing the wolves and spreading word of Shere Khan's wrath. Unless he's in Ax-Crazy mode, in which his activities largely consist of attacking everything he sees.
- Intellectual Animal: The animals are intelligent enough to have such abstract concepts as law, legends and poetry, but apart from this they look and behave very much like real animals.
- Ironic Name: Shere Khan's name in Hindi means "tiger king" or "king of tigers" ("shere" means tiger, "khan" means king). But since he was born lame he's actually one of the weakest animals in the jungle.
- I Was Named "My Name": Averted. Mowgli is usually called "little brother" by the other animals, at least until he gets bigger. The humans who adopt him call him Nathoo, after their long-lost son. (His new mother believes that he really is Nathoo returned at first, but it is clear that Nathoo was lost at a later age than Mowgli was — she recalls giving Nathoo shoes, but Mowgli was lost before he could walk, and she sees from how his toes are splayed that he has never worn shoes.)
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kaa is noted as often being rather moody and is sometimes easily offended, but he treats Mowgli rather well after Mowgli compliments him for his rescue and the two are rather close afterwards.
- Lamarck Was Right:
- In "Kaa's Hunting", Mowgli is able to show the monkeys his skill at weaving sticks together because he is a woodcutter's son.
- In "Red Dog", Mowgli cuts off the leading red dog's tail and then taunts him by telling him "There will now be many litters of little tailless red dogs, yea, with raw red stumps that sting when the sand is hot." (Since a wolf ends up killing him anyway this theory is never put to the test.)
- Literary Allusion Title: "Tiger! Tiger!" may be an allusion to "The Tyger" by William Blake.
- Lonely at the Top: Referred to: the wolfpack is led by Akela, which means "Alone."
- Manly Men Can Hunt: "Remember the wolf is a hunter, go forth and get food of thine own."
- Mama Bear: Raksha the Mother Wolf is arguably the hero of the first Mowgli story as she adopts an orphaned human baby and stands up to Shere Khan the Tiger as he tries to erupt into her den and snatch the baby back. Shere Khan soon learned why her nickname was "The Demoness" and had to flee from her den.
- Maniac Monkeys: The Bandar-log.
- Manipulative Bastard: Shere Khan's plan to turn the wolf pack against Mowgli is a pretty clever one. It nearly succeeds too.
- Manly Tears: In more senses than one.
- Mass Hypnosis: Kaa does this to the Bandar-log (and Baloo and Bagheera, who were watching).
- Meaningful Name:
- Akela (अकेला Akēlā), the lone grey wolf at the top is Hindi for "Alone".
- Raksha, (रक्षा Rakṣā), Mowgli's adoptive mother means "Nurturing/Protection" in Hindi. Her nickname, "The Demoness", implies a pun on rakshasa (राक्षस, rākṣasa), a monstrous creature in Hindu mythology.
- Mowgli (मोगली Maogalī) itself means "Feral Child" although why Kipling decided that it meant "frog" is up to debate. (Kipling later mentioned that he made that up). Being named Frog does refer both to his hairless skin and to his "amphibious" life between the worlds of the Jungle and that of Man.
- Mighty Whitey: Subverted, Mowgli is Indian (though it's implied that he acts "whiter" than other Indians).
- Subverted in one line from 'Letting in the Jungle'. "He knew that when the Jungle moves only white men can hope to turn it aside."
- The first story he appears in, "In the Rukh", takes place after the books, and Mowgli impresses his white, British boss, Gisborne. Then the boss's German boss, Muller, with a thick Funetik Aksent pays a visit, recognizes what Mowgli is, and tells Gisborne to give him free rein.
- Naked on Arrival: Mowgli first appears as a naked baby, and goes on to spend most of his childhood and adolescence naked too.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Mother Wolf is called "the Demon" — and not just as a compliment.
- Never Smile at a Crocodile: Jacala, the mugger crocodile.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Shere Khan's attacking of a human camp is what causes Mowgli to become a feral man in the first place. If not for that, Shere Khan wouldn't have been killed by Mowgli (albeit indirectly) later.
- No Name Given: Messua's husband, Mowgli's adoptive father, is never given a name, despite being the richest man in the village. (This likely reflects the fact that he and Mowgli, the point-of-view character, never really connect.) By contrast, Kipling gives names to a couple of minor characters who are never seen again.
- Noble Bird of Prey: Chil, a kite who is a messenger for Mowgli.
- Noble Wolves: Mowgli's foster family is a pack of wolves that is depicted as wise, courageous and honorable.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain:
- While an Informed Attribute for the most part, Tabaqui, often an irritating coward who serves as a bigger laughingstock of the Jungle than Shere Khan, is noted for his occasional bouts of insanity (suggested to be due to rabies), biting and attacking anything in his path, at which times the wolves and Shere Khan himself are fearful of him.
- Shere Khan himself; though considered an egotistical fool by many, he's still a great hulking tiger who's a known man-eater responsible for the deaths of many people, to the point that he was known amongst the people of India and the government even offered a reward for whoever killed him. The animals did not consider him harmless either, as Bagheera had to repeatedly remind Mowgli that Khan was a very dangerous enemy.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Buldeo in "Tiger! Tiger!" when Mowgli asks Akela to hold him in place while he skins the defeated Shere Khan and Akela pins him to the ground growling at him. Buldeo ends up running back to the village with tales of Mowgli as a devil-sorceror when Akela lets him go.
- Kaa has a moment in "The King's Ankus" when the cobra who inhabits the treasure horde decides he's going to bite Mowgli. Mixed with Papa Bear, as Kaa is immediately willing to defend Mowgli and implies he would have thrashed the cobra if he tried.Kaa: There was no talk of killing. How can I go to the jungle and say that I have led him to his death?
- Bagheera has one in "Letting in the Jungle" when he hears Mowgli's plan to systematically destroy the village with Hathi's help.
- Old Master: Kaa, who is the oldest creature in the jungle — his sheer size only makes sense when you realize this.
- The Omniscient: Kaa is stated to be all-knowing. Again, his age probably contributes to this.
- Opposed Mentors: Baloo and Bagheera. While teaching Mowgli the law, Baloo is very strict and beats him lightly (by bear-standards) whenever he gets something wrong, while Bagheera, who teaches Mowgli things like climbing and hunting believes more in 'learning by doing' and is a tad more relaxed. Ironically enough, when Mowgli is in danger and/or has seriously messed things up, Bagheera is the one who keeps his cool instead of Baloo who starts to panic, as well as being more strict with carrying out punishments, where Baloo urges the panther to be more lenient.
- Panthera Awesome:
- Shere Khan, despite being regarded by the rest of the jungle as a bullying coward.
- Bagheera, who can saunter into a wolf pack during one of their meetings and have their immediate and respectful attention.
- Papa Wolf: It's generally Akela, rather than Mowgli's actual wolf dad.
- Physical Scars, Psychological Scars: Hathi the elephant has a large white scar from the time he fell into a spiked pit trap and felt humiliated enough that when he escaped he razed three villages.
- Predation Is Natural: All animals follow the Law of the Jungle, which allows predators to hunt for food, but there are specific cases it forbids: hunting for pleasure, killing other animals at a watering hole during drought, and hunting Man. Shere Khan the tiger is villainous due to not respecting the Law of the Jungle.
- Prequel and Sequel: Kipling had first created Mowgli for the short story "In the Rukh", which was republished in 1893 in the collection Many Inventions. In that story Mowgli meets a British forestry official, marries and has a child.
- Professional Butt-Kisser: Jackals, particularly Tabaqui.
- Raised by Wolves: Mowgli is not the Trope Maker (that's probably Romulus and Remus), but he can probably be considered the Trope Codifier for modern media.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Rikki's eyes go hot and red when he gets angry.
- Retired Badass: Mother Wolf is strongly implied to be this.
- Scavengers Are Scum: While Shere Khan the tiger is the main villain, Tabaqui the jackal is shown as his lackey, reporting to him in the hopes of eating his leftovers and avoiding fights, in contrast to the wolves who are presented to be honorable hunters. In fact, wolves who side with Shere Khan are compared to jackals by Mowgli.
- Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Everyone who tries to teach Mowgli sometimes takes on this role, since he's sure to die if he doesn't learn.
- Smug Snake: Shere Khan, who always talks with the wolves in an insulting, condescending tone. Not Kaa, despite being literally a snake.
- Snakes Are Sinister:
- Strongly averted by Kaa the rock python. Kaa may be a little ornery and even creepy, but is almost always a heroic character when finally spurred to action.
- Cobras tend to play this trope straight, unless if they get too old to the point their venom sacs dried up.
- Stay with Me Until I Die: Akela's death in "Red Dog".
- Sycophantic Servant: Tabaqui to Shere Khan.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee:
- Averted in "Red Dog". Mowgli's plans to kill Shere Khan and defeat the Red Dogs are laid out to the reader in great detail, and both are pulled off without a hitch.
- Played with in "Letting in the Jungle". Mowgli does not tell Bagheera why he needs to call Hathi when the pather asks, but Bagheera ends up finding out when Mowgli tells Hathi what he wants to do.
- Unusual Euphemism: A classic one:By the Red Flower Bagheera meant fire, only no creature in the jungle will call fire by its proper name. Every beast lives in deadly fear of it, and invents a hundred ways of describing it.
- Veganopia: According to the legend Hathi tells in "How Fear Came", in ancient times, all animals ate only "leaves and flowers and grass and fruit and bark".
- The Villain Makes the Plot: Shere Khan kicks off the story by attacking a campsite, causing Mowgli to wander in the jungle and be adopted by wolves.
- A Villain Named Khan: Shere Khan the tiger, hunter of man and ruler of the jungle.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Mowgli lives in a tropical climate and has no concept of clothing: this follows.
- Who Will Bell the Cat?: When the head wolf fails to take down the prey, the pack can take him on — but, as he reminds them, it is his right that they come one by one.
- Wild Child: Mowgli.
- Worf Had the Flu: Shere Khan is easily dispatched by the buffalo stampede, but the key factor in his defeat was the heavy meal he consumed earlier.
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: In "The King's Ankus," Mowgli can't see why the ancient treasure trove is worth guarding. He later sees why it needs a guardian — not for its innate value, but for the way other humans will murder each other for it.
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: The characters speak like this.
- Zerg Rush: The Bandar-Log's fighting tactic when battling Baloo and Bagheera.
- Artistic License – Biology: The cobras in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi are implied to be King Cobras, but they are described as looking like Indian Cobras. (Five foot long adult size, a white marking on the hood, etc.)
- Badass Boast: Several characters in "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi".
- Rikki Tikki, who is specifically noted in story to never give in to excessive pride, is still no slouch in this department."Come then, Nagaina, come and fight with me. You shall not be a widow long."
- One is said by Karait, a minor villain."Be careful; I am Death!"
- From Nag, the cobra:"Who is Nag? I am Nag. The great God Brahm put his mark upon all our people, when the first cobra spread his hood to keep the sun off Brahm as he slept. Look, and be afraid!"
- Rikki Tikki, who is specifically noted in story to never give in to excessive pride, is still no slouch in this department.
- Beast of Battle: "Parade Song of the Camp Animals"
- Big Damn Heroes: In "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", Rikki arriving to stop Nagaina from threatening the humans at the dinner table.
- Cue the Flying Pigs: At the beginning of "Toomai of the Elephants", the title character is told by Petersen Sahib that he may one day go into all elephant stockades "when thou hast seen the elephants dance"; although there is evidence that such events occur, no human has yet witnessed it, thus the statement equates to "never". Sure enough, though, by the end of the story, Little Toomai has seen the dance of the elephants.
- Exact Eavesdropping: In "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", Rikki-Tikki-Tavi the mongoose overhears the two cobras' entire plan to rid the bungalow of humans. Granted, he was warned to go listen in by another animal, but that seems a bit too convenient, no?
- Friend to All Living Things: In "The Miracle of Purun Bhagat", the title character renounces his worldly goods and becomes a holy man, befriending all of the animals that live in the hills near his shrine.
- Heroic Albino: The protagonist of "The White Seal".
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: "The White Seal" gets downright anvilicious about it.
- Intellectual Animal: In "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is capable of reasoning that he shouldn't start eating his fallen foes, because he'll have more fights on his hands soon and being full will slow him down.
- Manly Men Can Hunt:The Jackal may follow the tiger, but, cub, when thy whiskers are grown
Remember, the wolf is a hunter, go forth and get food of thine own
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: "The Miracle of Purun Bhagat" discusses this and plays with it. The inhabitants of the village Purun Bhagat eventually settles near consider him a holy man due to his close connection to the animals of the region (magic). But the author notes Bhagat becomes friends with the animals because he doesn't startle them, doesn't intrude on them, respects their space, and shows no intent of harming them, so they trust him (mundane). Then, after the mundane side is explored, Purun Bhagat is able to round the animals up to help save the entire village from a flood, but they listen to him a little more than such wild animals normally should.
- More Deadly Than the Male: In "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", the cobra Nag is less violent and territorial than his wife. After killing Nag, the titular mongoose laments to himself that still leaves Nagaina, who will be "worse than five Nags".
- No Name Given:
- In "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", Teddy's father isn't named, although Teddy's mother's name is Alice, as given in dialogue.
- In the Inuit story "Quiquern", there's a girl from a tribe whose womenfolk are rescued after their men die on a hunt. Despite accompanying the hero Kotuko on a dangerous mission, and eventually marrying him, she's only ever called "the girl".
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: At the climax of "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", Rikki follows Nagaina into her cave. This is described as very dangerous since he gives up his open-ground advantage for pathways he doesn't know but Nagaina does. Cut to the birds believing that he went to his doom, and then Rikki pops out of the hole and says he killed Nagaina, but we're never told how he did it.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: In "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", Rikki's eyes.
- Sliding Scale of Villain Threat: Averted in "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", considering Rikki's first battle was against Karait, the Dust Brown Snakeling, a small highly venomous snake whom the story notes is a deadlier threat than the cobras, with equally potent venom matched to far greater speed and reflexes that means if Rikki doesn't hit Karait in the right spot with the first bite, he will be killed by Karait's return stroke.
- Snakes Are Sinister: In "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", Cobras are the main villains, and an Indian krait serves as another threat which is considered to be even deadlier than the cobras.
- Something Completely Different: Each anthology has a story that has nothing whatsoever to do with the jungle or India: in the first, it's The White Seal, set in the northern oceans; in the second, it's Quiquern, which is about huskies and Inuits.
- Starter Villain: Karait in "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", though muddled a bit since he's considered more dangerous than Nag or Nagaina.
- Stay with Me Until I Die: Purun Bhagat's death in "The Miracle of Purun Bhagat".
- Sweet Seal: In "The White Seal", the protagonist is Kotick, an albino fur seal. For the majority of the story, he is a cute and naive pup. However, he grows up to become a badass fighter.
- Think Nothing of It: In "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", Rikki doesn't understand why Teddy's parents praise him for killing Karait and thereby saving Teddy, since he only did what naturally comes to him. Rikki thinks that "Teddy’s mother might just as well have petted Teddy for playing in the dust."
- Unholy Matrimony: The two cobras in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi are mates who wish to assassinate all the humans in the house so that their children will have room to grow.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: In the stories, all animals have sapient intelligence like humans. But humans are still treated as objectively worth more than non-human animals.
- Especially in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (A mongoose goes to kill two cobras who want to kill the humans in a bungalow so that they can raise their children.) Probably justified in this case, since the cobras would also be a potential threat to Rikki Tikki as well. Plus, the humans had saved the mongoose's life and so they deserved his protection for that matter at least.
- "The Undertakers" (as well as some of the Mowgli stories) adapts India's caste system and has the animals apply it to themselves as well. Other stories, such as "Her Majesty's Servants" and "Toomai of the Elephants", imply the animals actually know a bit more about what's going on around them than humans think they do, with varying degrees of respect for the humans themselves.
- Wily Walrus: Downplayed in the story "The White Seal", which features an elderly, grumpy walrus called Sea Vitch who reluctantly gives some useful advice to the titular protagonist.
Adaptations with their own pages include:
- Jungle Book (1942)
- The Jungle Book (1967, the Disney version)
- Adventures of Mowgli (1967-1973)
- The Jungle Book (1994)
- A dzsungel könyve (1996)
- The Jungle Book (2016)
- Mowgli (2018)
Other adaptations provide examples of:
- Adaptational Badass: Several adaptations tend to play Shere Khan as much more fearsome and terrifying.
- Adaptational Wimp: In contrast to Shere Khan, several adaptations, usually kid-friendly ones, tend to underplay Tabaqui's Not So Harmless Ax-Crazy side in favour being the Butt-Monkey.
- Adaptation Distillation: The Jungle Play is mostly based on four stories, "Mowgli's Brothers", "Tiger! Tiger!", "Letting in the Jungle", and "The Spring Running". He also created a new character, Dulia, a girl from the village, as Mowgli's love interest, and actually weaves her into the plot nicely (for instance it is she who brings news of what the villagers are doing to Mowgli's adoptive human mother to Council Rock).
- Adaptation Expansion: The Russian live-action version of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.
- Adapted Out: In practically every Disney incarnation of The Jungle Book, Tabaqui the jackal is always left out and not included. However, the 1994 film features a human antagonist who shares both Tabaqui's name and unhinged personality.
- Artistic License – Biology:
- The cobras are portrayed far physically larger than life in both cartoon adaptations.
- Despite Rikki's claim to the contrary, mongooses do eat rats.
- The Chuck Jones version give Rikki rodent-like buck teeth. Mongooses are obligate carnivores whose teeth are all sharp.
- In the Chuck Jones adaptation of "The White Seal", Kotick is briefly chased by a hungry basking shark. Real basking sharks are peaceful filter-feeders. The basking shark in the animation also looks nothing like the real animal; it looks more like a large predatory shark and doesn't have the giant mouth basking sharks are distinguished by.
- Bowdlerise: On top of how animated depictions usually skip over or tone down the family unfriendly parts, this is somewhat AVERTED, in the most ironic of instances, in at least one young children rewrite of the story released in the U.S, which not only leaves in the creepy mass hallucination and feast scene with Kaa eating a ton of simians completely intact, but even includes a lovingly drawn scene of Mowgli and the wolves killing Shere Khan.
- The Film of the Book: Not just the Disney version or the 1994 version, but there was one done in 1942 with Sabu as Mowgli. 1967 saw 'two' animated adaptations released the well known Disney one, and a lesser known (in the West), but rather more faithful series ('67-'71) in Russia.
- Forgot About His Powers: Played for drama, but the title character of "Rikki Tikki Tavi" in the animated feature is initially afraid of Naga the snake until he suddenly remembers that he's a mongoose and built to kill snakes.
- Gender Flip: Bagheera has a female voice in Disney's Mowgli's Story.
- Hero Killer: Shere Khan will sometimes kill a major character close to Mowgli to make their feud even more personal.
- Hijacked by Ganon: Shere Khan sometimes does this in television series adaptations
- Misplaced Wildlife:
- The Chuck Jones adaptation of "The White Seal" features a basking shark, a great white shark and a (humongous) hammerhead shark in the Arctic Ocean under an ice floe. All these species are found only in warmer waters further south.
- In Riki-Tiki-Tavi what Kipling calls a muskrat is actually a House Shrew. This doesn't stop all of the illustrators from drawing a North American Muskrat in all of the pictures.
- Never Say "Die": Averted considerably in the Chuck Jones versions. Considering how integral death is to the plot (Rikki Tikki Tavi being a hunter of snakes who in turn want to kill him and the humans who quasi-adopted him, the main plot of the White Seal being kicked off by Kotick finding out about humans hunting and killing his kind, and constant talk of killing and dying in Mowgli's Brothers) it's fair to say that they would have had to change MUCH of the story, and not been as faithful to the stories as they at least tried to be.
- Race Lift: In the Soviet Rikki-Tikki-Tavi cartoon, the human family are natives.
- She's a Man in Japan: Bagheera is female in two translations:
- The Russian translation, because the Russian word for "panther" is grammatically feminine.
- In Spanish the word "pantera" is grammatically feminine and thus Bagheera is refered to as a "she".
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The first book is somewhere in the middle. The sequel however is close to near depressing.
- Spared by the Adaptation:
- Tabaqui's death at the hands (sic) of Brother Wolf is also absent in the Russian adaptation, and he is shown having a conversation with Shere Khan prior to his own death (granted whether Tabaqui survives the stampede just after is left ambiguous).
- In the 1955 Dell Comics adaptation of "The King's Ankus",note some of the men who steal the ankus survive and Mowgli has to steal it back from them.