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Literature / The Jungle Book
aka: Rikki Tikki Tavi

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"Now this is the Law of the Jungle — as old and as true as the sky;
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. Not to be confused with the novel The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.

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; and 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.

Zoltan Korda turned The Jungle Book into a live-action movie using real animals in 1942, giving the part of Mowgli to Sabu, the star of The Thief of Bagdad (1940). See Film.Jungle Book.

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, Mowglis Brothers (1976), Rikki Tikki Tavi (1975) and The White Seal (1975) 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 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).

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 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, released in 2018 on Netflix, is titled Mowgli, produced by Warner Bros., and directed by Andy Serkis (who also plays Baloo via motion capture). Interestingly, both adaptations Gender Flip Kaa the python (voiced by Scarlett Johansson and Cate Blanchett, respectively).

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).

Besides The Jungle Play, a high number of stage adaptations have been created, including A dzsungel könyve in Hungary.

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The Jungle Book stories consist of the following:
  • 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 stripped.
    • 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: An 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 Mowgli stories provide examples of: 
  • A Dog Named "Perro": Some of the animal characters' names are the Hindi words for their respective species; "bagheera" means "black panther", "baloo" means "bear", the "shere" in "Shere Khan" means "tiger", etc.
  • The Ace: Bagheera, and to an extent Mowgli himself.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: "Kaa's Hunting" makes mention of Bagheera having cubs and "Red Dog" of Shere Khan having a mate but it is not known if either case are hypothetical or not.
  • Anachronic Order: In very few cases is the actual order every specified, only Mowgli's relative age in a few spots. For example, "Kaa's Hunting", the second story, actually takes place in the middle of the first story "Mowgli's Brothers", based on how Mowgli is 7 or so in "Hunting" and 10 in the second half of "Brothers". In an even odder example, "How Fear Came" takes place before "Tiger! Tiger!" given Shere Khan is alive, and may be before even "Hunting" given Kaa's absence and Mowgli having not quite undergone his Character Development with regards to respect of Jungle Law.
  • Animals Not to Scale: The average length of the Indian python is nine feet and ten inches, while Kaa is over three times longer, being at least thirty feet long.
  • 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.
  • Animal Talk: All animals speak the same language (which they teach to Mowgli), and he can avoid attack by saying "We are of one blood, you and I".
  • Animals Respect Nature: The Law of the Jungle is a code of conduct shared by animals which among other things states that predators are allowed to hunt for food but not for pleasure.
  • 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.
    • Thuu the white cobra is revealed to have "outlived" his venom supply. Although venomous snakes do age, they don't cease to produce venom as a consequence.
  • 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".
    • Shere Khan takes over the Seeonee Wolf Pack and tries to turn them against Mowgli. Mowgli turns things around by waving fire in his face and shouting "Up, dog, or I shall set thy coat ablaze!"
  • 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.
  • Barely-Changed Dub Name: In the Hungarian translation, most characters have their names phonetically transliterated: Mowgli to Maugli, Baloo to Balú, Bagheera to Bagira, Shere Khan to Sir Kán, Hathi to Háti and Kaa to Ká, among others.
  • 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."
  • Beary Friendly: Baloo, again. Besides Mowgli, he's the only non-wolf affiliate of the Seeonee wolf pack due to his role as a teacher of the younger wolves, and his vegetarian tendencies mean that he's generally permitted to come and go as he pleases.
  • Big Bad: Shere Khan the Tiger is Mowgli’s Arch-Enemy as well as the most reoccurring villain, and his attempt to kill Mowgli as a baby leads to Mowgli being raised in the jungle in the first place.
  • 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.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Compared to the more predatory animals that populate the atmosphere in which he moves, Baloo is characterized as a "sleepy," scholarly figure who instructs young wolves in the Law of the Jungle but rarely involves himself in its fracas. Mowgli notes that he might nonetheless be moved to "strike a blow or two" if Mowgli's life were on the line.
  • 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.
  • Creepy Good: Kaa's solution to the Bandar-Log is to mass-hypnotize them down his gullet. Even Baloo and Bagheera are entranced until Mowgli snaps them out of it, and even they have the shivers for a while after.
  • 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 the 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 because he's lame in one paw.
    • Mowgli himself is able to stare down Bagheera, something Bagheera admits is unique among all animals. He also seems immune to some animal abilities like Kaa's hypnotism.
    • Mowgli's wolf mother is nicknamed The Demon. Even a pissed-off Shere Khan is not willing to take a chance against her when she stands up to him. (Granted, she did just have cubs, which would make her more protective, but it still applies considering Mowgli is a human and not her own cub.)
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Tabaqui appears in "Mowgli's Brothers" as Shere Khan's sidekick. Gray Brother kills him rather unceremoniously off-screen in "Tiger! Tiger!" after getting some information about Shere Khan's whereabouts.
  • 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.
  • 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. Even Bagheera can't withhold his stare.
  • 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.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: 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.
  • 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.
  • I Gave My Word: Mowgli's motivation in more than one story.
  • The Igor: Tabaqui, the jackal who kisses up to Shere Khan and serves as his spy and messenger.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • First book: "Kaa's Hunting" is closer to a classic adventure story rather than the mixture of adventure and emotional drama that fill "Mowgli's Brothers" and "Tiger! Tiger!".
    • Second book: "How Fear Came" is more of a "Just So Story" with no real peril or danger and the explanation of why tigers can eat humans (on one day a year, which it's noted Shere Khan flaunts and occasionally breaks). While "The Spring Running" also has no violence, no antagonist, and no peril, it is much heavier on the emotional drama.
  • 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 are a bunch of hyperactive monkeys who claim they'll conquer the jungle one day, but they keep finding more interesting things to do and forget about their plans. While other animals tend to dismiss them as scatterbrained layabouts, it's also shown that their unpredictable behavior can make them dangerous.
  • 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.
    • Shere Khan's name in Hindi means "tiger king" or "king of tigers" ("shere" means tiger, "khan" means king).
  • 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.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: A truly unusual example with Baloo. He is described as having brown fur, but has a description that is otherwise that of a sloth bear, meaning his fur colour comes from a completely different sort of bear. Outside of the appearance, his diet consisting of only roots and honey, is more in line with that of an Asian black bear.
  • 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 Learned to Talk: Mowgli, due to being raised by animals, can speak in Animal Talk, but has to be taught English (presumably Hindi to the ears of a nonspeaker) when he returns to the "man village".
  • 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.
  • Nice Mean And In Between: Of Mowgli's primary mentors, Kaa is the nice who oddly enough shows the most respect to Mowgli and is arguably the gentlest with him despite his cranky personality, Baloo is the mean who is the strictest about making sure he learns his lessons though by position as teacher more than any dislike of him, and Bagheera is the in-between who is the most relaxed about him but the sternest about punishment if he screws up.
  • 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.
  • No Off Button: A living example with the White Cobra. He's only supposed to give access to the guarded treasure in response to certain rites performed by its human masters... who have all died out centuries ago.
  • Noble Bird of Prey: Chil, a kite who is a messenger for Mowgli.
  • Noble Wolf: Mowgli's foster family is a pack of wolves who are depicted as wise, courageous and honorable. Note that not all are; anyone directly related to Mowgli is honorable with Akela and Raksha being standouts, but even Bagheera chastizes the others who side with Shere Khan as being fickle and too easily influenced.
  • 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. He also serves as Shere Khan's cunning spy and messenger, with Mowgli himself even acknowledging this fact.
    • 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 Wolf, 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.
    • From the non-Mowgli stories, the jackal in "The Undertakers" has a good third of his dialogue as flattery of a crocodile (in hopes of getting a bite to eat from him). He also tends to speak it particularly loud and elaborately, reinforcing his sucking up so that he makes sure the older crocodile can hear every word of it.
  • 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.
  • Retired Badass: Mother Wolf is strongly implied to be this.
  • Reclaimed by Nature: Mowgli decides that a human village that is home to a Miles Gloriosus needs to be eradicated. Mowgli's strategy: "Let the jungle in." He starts a rumor that the tastiest greens are found in the village's crop fields. Herbivores come to graze, wrecking the crops; then predators come to hunt the herbivores, endangering the populace, until the place is too "wild" to live in. It doesn't take many years in that climate for the surrounding jungle to reclaim that now-abandoned village.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: 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.
  • 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.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The first book is somewhere in the middle. The sequel however is close to near depressing.
  • 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 you managed to convince them not to attack or if they get too old to the point their venom sacs dried up.
  • Sssssnake Talk: Averted with Kaa, who speaks rather eloquently on par with Bagheera (reminder, Bagheera grew up in a palace; Kaa is just ancient).
  • Stay with Me Until I Die: Akela's death in "Red Dog".
  • Stern Teacher: Baloo, towards Mowgli. He's strict and often harsh, but he genuinely cares for the boy and his teachings do come in useful. It's also notable that after Mowgli has really messed up, Baloo is far more forgiving than the otherwise laid-back Bagheera.
  • Sycophantic Servant: Tabaqui to Shere Khan.
  • Teen Pregnancy: In the first Mowgli story In The Rukh, Mowgli (presumably 17) marries the thirteen-year-old daughter of his employer's butler. The following year, they have a child.
  • Translation Convention: Mowgli and the animals hear each other speak English, but normal humans can't hear them speak English and just hear animal noises. Mowgli eventually learns how to talk to humans, although it's unclear if the humans really speak English or just think they're speaking English. But it's implied that they just think they're speaking English, since in the first Mowgli story, "In the Rukh", when the German Muller is speaking to the Englishmen, his accent is rendered atrociously, but when he's speaking to Mowgli it's in the same archaic and poetic English as everyone else.
  • 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 panther 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".
  • 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's parents died in the jungle, so he's raised by a pack of wolves plus some other jungle animals. He abides by the jungle law they taught him and struggles to adapt to human life because of it.
  • Wise Serpent: Kaa is a gigantic Rock python, being over thirty feet long and over a hundred years old. He is feared and respected throughout the entire jungle, known by all as one of the wisest and most powerful beings to the point of it being claimed he is all-knowing. He serves as a key friend and mentor to Mowgli, teaching him many important lessons about the nature of the jungle.
  • 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.

    The other stories provide examples of: 
  • Animal Stereotypes: All over the place in "Her Majesty's Servants"; each idiosyncracy that makes a particular species think they're more or less important is frequently based around how they're typically portrayed, while the non-stereotypical actual use tends to balance them all out and eventually realize they're all important in their own way.
  • 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.)
    • Chuchundra in "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" is said to be a musk-rat, but muskrats are not native to India. The chuchunder is actually a species of shrew, known by several English names including Asian musk shrew.
  • Artistic License – Marine Biology: In The White Seal, Kotick is mentioned escaping from the jaws of a basking shark. Real basking sharks are peaceful filter-feeders.
  • 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, especially when he has to divert Nagaina's attention away from the humans she is threatening.
      "Come then, Nagaina, come and fight with me. You shall not be a widow long."
    • In the Chuck Jones cartoon his boast is:
      "And Nag was dead before the big man blew him up! I killed Nag!" *gets right in her face and glares into her eyes* "Come and fight with me, Nagaina!"
    • 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!"
  • Beast of Battle: "Parade Song of the Camp Animals" is about the various animals used to pull loads or carry men into battle.
  • 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.
  • The Ditherer: Chuchundra the musk-rat.
    Chuchundra is a broken-hearted little beast. He whimpers and cheeps all the night, trying to make up his mind to run into the middle of the room. But he never gets there.
  • Discussed Trope: The narrator of "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" mentions the folk tale that a mongoose can find a special herb to eat if a venomous snake bites it. The narrator firmly explains that is not true; the mongoose can only depend on his agility and speed against a snake, making each duel an all-or-nothing affair.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Kotick from "The White Seal". The word means "fur seal" in Russian.
  • Don't Look Back: When a tailor bird warns Rikki to watch out behind him, he is smart enough not to waste time doing that when he instead leaps away and thus barely misses being struck by the cobra Nagina.
  • 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?
  • Fantastic Caste System: Carried over from the main Mowgli stories, but only present in "The Undertakers"; all three main animal characters - a jackal, a crocodile, and an adjutant (a type of stork) - are fairly low on the caste levels. The fact that the jackal is even lower in the caste system than they are is a point that the adjutant and the crocodile love to point out... despite still being pretty low in the heirarchy themselves.
  • 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.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: "The White Seal" gets downright anvilicious about it.
  • Hypocrite: The mugger crocodile from "The Undertakers" is pompous and self-righteous, describing himself akin to a river god by the Indian villagers, and teases both the adjutant and the jackal for being lower-caste. This despite the fact that the crocodile himself is merely on the upper end of the lower castes due to his habit of eating humans who happen to fall into the river too close. Being particularly boistrous about it, it also gets the attention of the British railroad workers who capture and shoot him in the ending, leading the quieter jackal and stork to merely get away quietly chuckling to themselves.
  • 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.
  • Killer Rabbit: Rikki-Tikki-Tavi the mongoose; a cute fuzzy fellow who is a fearless defender of the innocent against deadly snakes.
  • 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 British officer that serves as the narrator of "Her Majesty's Servants" is only the second human in the books that can actually understand what animals are saying (the first and only other one is Mowgli), saying he learned animal-speak from native Indians and is basically translating what the varying species are saying to each other. Not even Purun Baghat has this.
    • "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.
    • Played with and deconstructed in "Quiquern"; the Inuit are portrayed as somewhat superstitious, and every supposed magical occurrence has a genuine explanation, of which the narrator is quick to give. The deconstruction comes towards the end, when the clan's sorceror says it was his magic that brought Kotuko and the girl to their find, and no one in the clan argues because they're so weak from starvation they just accept whatever reason presents itself for Kotuko's success. The lone exception that doesn't go explained is the dog-madness, nor a full explanation of how Kotuko the dog and the black second-in-command got sober again.
  • 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".
    • Nag hides himself for a surprise attack that puts no one in danger at the time of Rikki-tikki's patrol. Nagaina attacks Teddy and the family in broad daylight with no care for hiding herself, and it's only by Rikki-tikki's intervention that the family comes out unharmed.
  • 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".
  • Not So Extinct: "The White Seal" reveals that Steller's sea cow wasn't hunted to extinction after all. Some of them have found a safe home from humans on an island.
  • 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.
  • Pet Baby Wild Animal: Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is taken by a human family, but they certainly find a very good reason to keep him when he defends them from various deadly snakes. Played with, as the narrator mentions it's a goal of a mongoose to be considered a "house mongoose", which gives safety, a place to stay, and a good place to catch any snakes that intrude.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: In "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", Rikki's eyes go hot and red when he gets angry.
  • Scavengers Are Scum: The jackal and the adjutant stork in "The Undertakers" are both cowardly, cynical low-lifes.
  • Sliding Scale of Villain Threat: Inverted 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.
  • Snake Versus Mongoose: "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" is probably the Trope Codifier for modern audiences, establishing the mongoose and the snake as enemies in pop-consciousness.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: In "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", cobras are the main villains, and Karait, a dust brown snakeling, serves as another threat which is considered to be even deadlier than the cobras.
  • 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."
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Downplayed, but "Quiquern" has bits of Kotuko and the Inuit girl seeing visions in the middle of a blizzard of creatures that probably wouldn't be out of place in eldritch lore, most notably what one of them interprets to be a polar bear with two heads and ten legs. The narrator notes they're so starved they can't think straight, and the reality is it's two dogs accidentally chained together by a broken harness.
  • 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.
  • Uniformity Exception: Among the two books, "The White Seal" for the first and "Quiquern" for the second are the only stories that don't take place in southeast Asia; "The White Seal" starts up by Alaska, while "Quiquern" takes place in the areas around Greenland and the modern day Canadian province of Nunavut.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: When Rikki manages to draw Nagina's attention away from the humans, she eventually grabs her last egg and flees. Rikki chases after her, knowing that if she escapes, the terror will begin again and goes so far as to chase her right into her hole, which the narrator notes is a dangerously reckless thing to do.
  • 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.
  • Women Are Wiser: Two from "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi":
    • Protagonist example: Darzee... helps, but spends the majority of his time making up songs about Rikki-tikki's bravery. Darzee's wife actually interferes and improvises a plan that allows Rikki to attack the cobra's nest and eggs, and swoops down (in the middle of one of Darzee's songs) to waylay Nagaina enough that Rikki can catch up. The narration notes that if Darzee was paying attention and helped his wife, they might have turned Nagaina around.
    • Antagonist example: Nag's ambush plan is smart, but leaves him open and vulnerable to an attack by Rikki-tikki with almost zero collateral damage and Rikki kills him easily enough. Nagaina forces Rikki into a Sadistic Choice of either the family getting bit or himself getting bit if he tries to save them, and Rikki only gets out of that with a Take a Third Option and reveal he destroyed the egg-patch. Even then, after a bit of scuffling, Nagaina is smart enough to take the remaining egg Rikki used as bait and run, forcing Rikki-tikki to dive into the cobra's nesting-hole where she could possibly kill him if there was ever a place to turn around.

Adaptations with their own pages include:

Other adaptations provide examples of:

  • Abled in the Adaptation: Many adaptations omit Shere Khan's crippled leg in order to make him more threatening or to leave him no other excuse than hatred for preying on humans. Some on the other hand change the disability to a blind eye.
  • Adaptational Badass: Several adaptations tend to play Shere Khan as much more fearsome and terrifying.
  • Adaptational Comic Relief:
    • Often, but not always, happens to Baloo. Thanks to his immensely popular portrayal in the Disney version, several adaptations either tone down or remove his Stern Teacher characterization altogether, making him more a jovial, fun-loving Cool Teacher.
    • Tabaqui is also made much more comical in several adaptations, often bordering on or even diving headfirst into Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain.
  • Adaptational Modesty: Virtually every film adaptation ignores the fact that Mowgli is, in fact, meant to be naked.
  • 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.
  • Adaptation Species Change: Several adaptations present Tabaqui as a hyena rather than a jackal.
    • In at least one version, Kaa is a cobra instead of an Indian rock python (Kipling refers to him as a "Rock snake"). Even when remaining a python, Kaa can be portrayed in live-action adaptations by a burmese python (naturally more aggressive where rock pythons are described as "lethargic" or "timid") or by a reticulated python (bigger and heavier than the rock python).
  • Adaptational Mundanity: The 2021 BBC Setting Update has no Talking Animals, all the characters are humans who take the name of an animal in some way (the Wolves and the Monkeys are gangs, the powerful politician is named Tiger Khan, and so on.)
  • 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.
  • Age Lift: "In the Rukh" featured Mowgli's Mohammedan love interest as a thirteen-year-old girl. All future adaptations featuring similar characters make them roughly the same age as Mowgli, rather than her being his junior, due to him being at least seventeen in the story.
  • 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", not only is a basking shark portrayed attacking Kotick as in the book but it is also given large, sharp teeth and none of 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.
  • Cool Teacher: Baloo in several adaptations, where he's an amalgamation of his book counterpart and his Disney counterpart. Still the respected teacher of the jungle, but much more laid-back and carefree than the Stern Teacher of the book.
  • 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" is initially afraid of Nag the cobra upon their first meeting, until he suddenly remembers that he's a mongoose and built to kill snakes. The Chuck Jones Animated Adaptation gives this scene more emphasis, thanks to the animation and the narration from Orson Welles, but it's also present in the original story.
  • Gender Flip:
    • Since the original book had a predominantly male cast (with only two named female characters, Raksha the wolf and Messua the human), adaptations tend to turn at least one more character female, Bagheera and/or Kaa being the most common.
    • The 2022 play Jungle Book Reimagined by Akram Khan makes Mowgli a girl.
  • 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.
  • Informed Species: If an adaptation keeps Tabaqui as a jackal, it is rare that he actually resembles a golden jackal, especially when it comes to colouration. A golden jackal is a pale creamy yellow in the summer and a dark tawny beige in winter while he has a grey colouration completely with bandit mask-like eye markings in the Russian version while he is for some unfathomable reason coloured green in the Chuck Jones special.
  • 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.
    • The Russell graphic novel features zebra, a strictly African species, in one panel.
  • Race Lift: In the Soviet Rikki-Tikki-Tavi cartoon, the human family are natives.
  • Raised by the Community: Mowgli with the wolf pack.
  • Setting Update:
    • The telvision series Mowgli: The New Adventures of the Jungle Book portrayed the series in the then modern day: 1998.
    • The 2021 BBC radio adaptation is set in 21st century Mumbai.
    • The 2022 play Jungle Book Reimagined is set in something close to After the End: Mowgli is a climate refugee who finds herself in an abandoned city the animals have reclaimed.
  • 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".
  • 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.
    • In some adaptations, particularly but not always the Disney ones, Shere Khan might not end up dying like his literary counterpart.

Alternative Title(s): The Second Jungle Book, Rikki Tikki Tavi, Jungle Books, Second Jungle Book