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Honorable Elephant

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Maybe monkeys can get away with lounging on the ground, but elephants must be held to a higher standard.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

Thanks to its size, the movements of an elephant tend to be slow and ponderous. While it's impossible to know whether an elephant's inner life is more somber and dignified than, say, that of an otter, it certainly looks that way. This impression of elephants is compounded by the fact that elephants are observed engaging in what appears to be reverence for their dead. It seems likely that they are aware of their own mortality. The prodigious memory of elephants also makes it seem that their lives must be more burdened by history and the past than animals with less powerful memories, which exist more "in the moment".

An anthropomorphized elephant or mammoth will typically be honorable and stoic. A young elephant may be more playful, but is unlikely to be a willful troublemaker. Ironically, while in Real Life female elephants tend to be the most involved in the complex social behaviors which make them so easily identified-with, fictitious elephantine heroes tend to be males — perhaps because something so massive and thick-skinned as an elephant seems masculine even when the beast is female.


Some aspects of Real Life elephants, such as their excellent memories, may be portrayed widely in fiction, while other aspects, such as the feeling of Unstoppable Rage and lust males feel during musth, may be played down.

Compare Genial Giraffe, another friendly animal that is often seen together with elephants. The polar opposite of the Cruel Elephant.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Asian Animation 
  • Master Paopao from Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf is an anthropomorphic elephant who loves to advocate peace, is known for his fairness when holding court trials, and is all-around friendly.

    Audio Drama 

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 

    Eastern European Animation 

    Film — Animated 
  • The title character in Dumbo is playful but never malicious. The Matriarch seemingly plays the trope more straight: "We elephants have always walked with dignity."
    • The Matriarch would be a subversion who invokes this trope instead because she ostracizes Dumbo for his big ears.
    • Mrs. Jumbo plays it straighter, not that it helps her.
  • Manny from Ice Age is an honorable mammoth. He feels morally obligated to return a human baby to his family even though he knows that the child could one day grow up to be a mammoth-killer.
  • In The Jungle Book, elephants are like honorable, respectable (if not too bright) British army officers.
  • Tantor, the African Elephant from Tarzan may be a coward, but when his friends are in danger he overcomes his fear and helps them.

    Film — Live Action 
  • The Jungle Book (2016) has the elephants play a more important role, with them becoming Physical Gods who had shaped the jungle into its current state. They become grateful to Mowgli rescuing one of their calves, and they in turn help him put out the fire he accidentally started near the end of the movie.
  • Behemoth from Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) plays with this; he is portrayed as destructive under Ghidorah's command, but later proves to be a docile and beneficial creature once Godzilla takes charge, restoring much of the Amazon rainforest just by walking around.
  • Mowgli's incarnation of Haithi is more true to his book counterpart, being a benevolent ruler of the jungle. He saves Mowgli from a tiger pit and later gathers the other elephants to help the boy defeat Shere Khan in return for showing him the hunter who shot part of his tusk off.


    Live-Action Television 
  • Not an anthropomorphized example, but Prehistoric Park features Martha the mammoth.
    • She first appears unsuccessfully trying to aid her sister, who has died falling in a pit trap made by early humans.
    • Though an outcast from the African elephant herd, it is Martha who stands up to Matilda, a young T. Rex, when Matilda targets the matriarch's calf.
  • In Primeval, a Columbian mammoth saves James Lester from a Future Predator in one episode. At the beginning of the episode he'd been making jokes about selling the mammoth for ivory. At the end of the episode, he brings it treats and cements his status as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • In Walking with Beasts, honorability seems to increase in the proboscidean family tree as it gets closer to modern elephants.
    • In "Mammoth Journey", female woolly mammoths and their young live in family groups that stick together and quietly help each other when facing predators and climatic hardships. The most unprovoked aggression seen consists of an adult male on heat chasing a bison herd away with a mildly threatening trotting and an old male scaring two cave lions out of his way when he migrates south. Said lions are feeding on a human carcass.
    • Deinotheres in "Next of Kin", in contrast, are sadistic bullies that seem to revel on chasing hominids out of waterholes or because they are on heat. Bear in mind that this is as much elephantine behavior as the one exhibited by the mammoths. The series gives all positive traits to one lineage and all negative traits to the other, who also happens to be the uglier, less elephant-looking one.
    • Goofy-looking moeritheres in "Whale Killer" are perfect pacifists that don't really look or act like elephants. One is chased by the threatening Basilosaurus, but unlike most prey animals in the series it is given the chance to escape.

    Religion and Mythology 
  • Played entirely straight in Hindu Mythology, with elephants often symbolizing wisdom, grace, power and kingliness. Eight divine elephants carry the world on their backs, and a white four-tusked elephant is the mount of the storm god Indra. The elephant-headed god Ganesha, one of the most popular gods in Hinduism, removes obstacles and gives people good luck, as well as protecting children.
  • Another Indian example, this time from Buddhism. The Buddha was an honorable elephant in several of his previous lives, and the popularity of white elephants in Thailand has to do with Buddha taking the form of a six-tusked white elephant.
  • A likely candidate for Behemoth, a biblical creature mentioned in Book of Job, is the now extinct giant Syrian Elephant. Described or presented to Job by God as a means of showing the limits of man's power against God's nature, Behemoth is described as the most powerful land animal on the planet. In particular the wording used to describe it's greatness imply might beyond the physical but also in intelligence, echoing this trope further. It's also noted to be so big it has to use trees for shade and has giant horns or tusks it can gore its rival the Leviathan with in battle, most certainly a beast that shouldn't be trifled with. Yet it peacefully spends it days in the fields and swamps, eating grass as the smaller beasts play around it, showing its a relatively a Gentle Giant herbivore if left in peace.

  • Inverted in the comic song "The Elephant" by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, which starts, "An elephant's life is tedious, laborious, and slow. / I've been an elephant all me life, so I bloomin' well ought to know!" The elephantine narrator then describes how he avoids the dutiful life of the typical elephant by shamming amnesia. "Me mind's a perfect blank. / Now life is very much easier. Amnesier's to thank."
  • The British folk song Nellie the Elephant, which later received an Animated Adaptation.

    Video Games 
  • The Pokémon Donphan is known for clearing roads after disasters, while Cufant and Copperajah are both known to help humans with heavy lifting.
  • The title character of Elephant Quest is both stoically determined to regain his hat, and loyally prepared to undergo Side Quests for his friends while he does so. Averted with the other elephants, who are excitable Apathetic Citizens.
  • The aforementioned Ganesha in Mythology section is featured in Smite and is a guardian that shares his kill benefits even better to his nearby teammates. He's also able to slow down while granting protections to his teammates.

    Western Animation 
  • Woolie from Cats Don't Dance.
  • Subverted with Stampy from The Simpsons. As Bart's pet, he was surly and destructive, so the family sends him to a sanctuary, thinking that he would be more peaceful among his own kind. But once there, he started being the same way toward the other elephants, causing the caretaker to remark that some elephants are just jerks.
  • In Tom and Jerry cartoon "Jerry and Jumbo", an elephant loyally defends Jerry from Tom after Jerry pulls a nail from the elephant's foot.
  • Dolores from some of the Classic Disney Shorts.
  • In the Disney short Elmer Elephant, the title character is a heroic anthropomorphic elephant who saves his Love Interest Tilly Tiger from a fire.
  • The short Goliath II is about a mouse-sized elephant who wants to get the respect of his pompous father.
  • Lumpy from Winnie-the-Pooh and his mother are both kind and heroic Heffalumps (elephant-like creatures) - in stark contrast with the other, villainous Heffalumps of the franchise.
  • Raj from Camp Lazlo.
  • Mama Mirabelle and her son Max from Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies
  • Ellivan from Jungle Junction.
  • The Looney Tunes short Hobo Bobo.
  • The Elephants from the elephant village in ThunderCats (2011) . These elephants notably subvert the "elephant never forget" stereotype, since while they are wise, they have very poor memories which they are apparently infamous for. They're also pacifistic to the point that they prefer to solve their problems by meditating until the answer comes to them rather than act straight away. But that doesn't mean they're complete pushovers.
  • Lotsa Heart elephant in Care Bears
  • The Large Family, a slice of life show focusing on a town full of antropomorphic elephants.
  • Ella the Elephant, based on the books by Carmela D' Amico and Steven Henry.
  • In The Wild Thornberrys, every elephant which Eliza befriends has played this trope straight.
  • The Lion Guard has the Pride Lands' local African elephant herd which consist of these. Particularly Ma Tembo, the leader of the herd, and Mtoto, a young calf who looks up to Beshte and hopes to grow up into a hero like him.
  • In Primal, Spear and Fang hunt and kill an injured wooly mammoth for food and insulation. The rest of the herd come across the dead mammoth's remains and track down Spear and Fang to the cave where they're hiding for the night, upon which the herd attacks the two of them relentlessly. As it seems, though, what they really wanted was a tusk of the dead mammoth, which the herd leader picks up; they bring the tusk to an Elephant Graveyard to mourn him.

    Real Life 
  • The Oakland Athletics baseball team uses an elephant as its mascot, as well as one of its alternate names.
  • Real elephants are used in Indian temple processions to carry gods, and some of them are sacred animals that bless devotees.
  • Elephants are not really as noble-hearted as you might think for such intelligent organisms; adolescents have been known to kill rhinos and other animals for amusement.Note  There are even claims that elephants occasionally indulge in necrophilia both with members of their species and with other creatures. On the other hand, they are social animals and do have something similar to human empathy, especially toward their fellows or young.


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