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Tarzan Boy

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Most definitely not Tarzan.

An Expy of Tarzan, and the Spear Counterpart to Jungle Princess. A Tarzan Boy, or "Tarzanesque", is a white man who lives in the jungle, usually in the Darkest Africa. He's usually Raised by Wolves after being marooned in the jungle as a child. Expect the Nubile Savage trope to be in play, as the Tarzan Boy will always be handsome and surprisingly well-groomed and clean-shaven for a guy who lives completely isolated from civilization. Often he will have one or several animal companions and is able to communicate with them. He'll be an Earthy Barefoot Character, wear a Loincloth and no shirt, and travel around by Vine Swing.

Tarzan Boy usually finds his "Jane" in a civilized white woman he has to rescue. Sometimes, however, he will choose his Distaff Counterpart, the Jungle Princess, or occasionally the native Chief's daughter (who will inevitably be drawn in a much more attractive manner than the other natives who are seen).

This trope was popular up until The '50s. As with many pulp tropes, its popularity waned in the second part of the twentieth century, but there were still occasional attempts to revisit it, either parodic or serious. Interestingly, this trope's Distaff Counterpart, Jungle Princess, eventually surpassed it in popularity.

Subtrope of Nature Hero. Compare Handsome Heroic Caveman, the prehistoric equivalent. Contrast Frazetta Man (these are usually present as Tarzan Boy's enemies, to further emphasize the contrast between them).

Examples (excluding Tarzan himself):

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Jungle King Tar-Chan is a parody series that features a white jungle man named Tar-Chan who was raised by chimps. He also has a wife named Jane.
  • In the Pokémon: The Original Series episode "The Kangaskhan Kid", the titular kid is a human boy who got lost in the Safari Zone and was raised by a pack of Kangaskhan. He's even known as Tarsan in the Japanese version.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Taira Taizan/Damon dropped out of school for a year to live in the wild and perfect his drawing technique. When he resurfaces, he has become extremely buff and looks, acts, and talks like Tarzan. Parodied when Jaden calls him a faker because he's pretty sure one year is not enough turn someone into a Wild Child, and he indeed returns to his natural voice when he loses their duel.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Comics
    • Ka-Zar. He started as a short-lived cheap Tarzan knock-off in the '30s, described as an American kid who was raised by lions after his parents' plane crashed in the Congo jungle. Ka-Zar was revived decades later by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in an X-Men comic and given a more fleshed-out characterization. Surprisingly, they made him more similar to Tarzan. Now he was Kevin Plunder, son of a British nobleman who had discovered the tropical Lost World of Savage Land in the middle of the Antarctic. After his father got killed by a local Frazetta Man tribe, Kevin was raised by a mutant intelligent sabertooth tiger named Zabu. He eventually hooked up with Marvel's flagship Jungle Princess, Shanna the She-Devil.
    • Before the revival, Ka-Zar got his own cheap knock-off called Lo-Zar. He was also a blonde muscle man, with unknown origins. He lived in the Republic of Congo and helped local tribes and wild animals. Unlike other Tarzan Boys, Lo-Zar's enemy of choice were Dirty Communists.
    • One-time Daredevil rogue Micah Synn was a villainous example. He was a direct descendant of English settlers that lived among an East African tribe, and became chief through Asskicking Leads to Leadership. He lived by a Social Darwinist "might makes right" philosophy that resulted in him stealing food, fighting cops, and eventually becoming The Kingpin's minion. However, his body had difficulty adjusting to Western civilization and he was weakened to the point that he got beaten up by a gang of hobos and needed Daredevil to Save the Villain.
  • Kaanga, Lord of the Jungle: Not much is known about his backstory. Kaanga was left marooned in a jungle as a small kid after his parents met their death, and was raised by apes. Unlike Tarzan, he had rather short blonde hair. He later rescued a white woman from slave traders and she became his girlfriend.
  • Jo-Jo, Congo King: Jo-Jo was a guy who wore leopard skin shorts and had a Jungle Princess girlfriend named Tanee, who usually shared his adventures. Tanee had the tendency to get tied up a lot, especially on comic book covers, which was even pointed out by one Dr. Fredric Wertham who considered it an example of inappropriate bondage fetishism.
  • Thun'da, King of the Congo: Created by Frank Frazetta, who drew the whole first issue, interiors and all. Thun'da initially started in a Lost World filled with dinosaurs, but was soon relocated to Darkest Africa. Unlike most Tarzan Boys, he wasn't marooned in the jungle as a kid, but instead crashed his plane there as an adult. He was enslaved by the local Frazetta Man cavemen and escaped, and soon encountered and fell in love with a Bettie Page-esque Nubile Savage princess Pha who ruled over a white human tribe in a Forgotten City. In 2012 Dynamite Comics published a modern retelling of Thun'da's story.
  • Kalthar the Giant Man by Archie Comics: His father died protecting an African tribe called Urganas from Arab slavers. Out of gratitude, the Urganas raised the orphaned boy, and eventually made him their chief. In a superhero twist on the usual Tarzan Boy formula, Kalthar possessed magical grains that allowed him to grow in size. He could also talk to animals. Kalthar's series ended with him marrying a white woman he met earlier, despite objections from his tribe.
  • Wambi the Jungle Boy: He had the distinction of being a young kid instead of a grown-up man. His jungle also looked more like an Indian jungle than an African one. No explanation was given about his origins or backstory. Like many Tarzan Boys, he had several animal friends and could communicate with them.
  • Akim: An Italian Tarzanesque comic book character, created in The '50s. He was quite similar to Tarzan, being a son of a British consul who was raised by gorillas after his parents got killed by jungle beasts, and later got a wife and an adopted son.
  • Zembla: A French Tarzanesque comic book character, created in The '60s, spurred by the popularity of Akim. Zembla had several funny animal sidekicks (including a kangaroo and also a human stage magician friend.
  • Tarzanetto: An Italian comic book character who started as a minor parody of Tarzan, but eventually got popular enough to star in his own comic. He looks like a bald cigar-smoking boy.
  • Planetary features a modern and rather morally ambiguous take on the Tarzan Boy trope in Lord Blackstock. A scion of a shady British family of adventurers, he's considered a hero of the African continent. However, he doesn't concern himself with anything besides relieving his boredom, and prefers to think of the natives as his subjects. It's also implied he's having sex with his apes.
  • Lion Man from All-Negro Comics was a rare attempt at a black Tarzan Boy. He was a scientist employed by the United Nations who wore a loincloth and headband, and fought to protect an African uranium mine from falling into the wrong hands.
  • DC Comics: Kamandi is a young hero in a post-apocalyptic, post-Cyberpunk future. After a huge event called "The Great Disaster", humans have been reduced back to savagery in a world ruled by intelligent, highly evolved animals. Created by Jack Kirby in the time he was in DC, Kirby was asked to make something similar than Planet of the Apes comic books, resulting into this. Different from Tarzan, Kamandi is a blonde guy in a post-Cyberpunk world with similar traits as Tarzan, also known for being the grandson of O.M.A.C. and even he was part of the heroes' group during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
  • Wild Smurf of The Smurfs is a Tarzan Smurf. Introduced in the 1980s Animated Adaptation and brought into the comic books in the 1990s, Wild was a Smurf who, upon the night of his "birth" by Delivery Stork, was lost in the forest and raised by squirrels until his public discovery by the Smurfs. Although animalistic in his behaviors, Wild at least knew how to assemble a Smurf hat out of leaves, and in the comic books eventually learned how to speak in very primitive Smurf language when the Smurfs had him stay in the village during the winter.
  • The first Superboy volume featuring a two-part imaginary story (183 and 188) respectively where Superboy landed in Africa, was raised by apes and become such a character. This would be revisted for the Elseworld and crossover Superman/Tarzan: Sons of the Jungle.
  • The Phantom: As they reach adulthood, the heirs to the title of The Phantom spend time as a Tarzan Boy for training; with just a knife and a loincloth, they're left to survive completely alone in a Hungry Jungle, the final test to make them worthy of being the Phantom when the time comes. Every single member of the line passed with flying colors, which isn't exactly a surprise, since most of them grew up in (slightly less savage) jungles, raised and trained by their parents and the local Pigmy tribe. In fact, the 19th Phantom is a partial inspiration for Tarzan himself, having saved Edgar Rice Burroughs during his time in the jungle.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: In one strip, Calvin declares himself to be Wonga-Taa, King of the Jungle, after getting fed up with Suzie's make-believe dinner, and runs off in underpants to find Hobbes. He has also pretended to be Tarzan a few times.
  • The Far Side had Larry of the Lemurs, inhabitant of Madagascar, said to have not quite achieved the fame of his African counterpart.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avatar: The Way of Water: Spider grew up in the jungle (albeit Raised by Natives rather than Wolves), he's always shirtless with a Loincloth, is something of a Wild Child, adopts a Primal Stance sometimes, and manages to keep up with Na'vis when they swing and run in the canopies of Pandora's forests. And he's the son of a white human who died in the jungle.
  • The Worlds Greatest Athelete: The plot centers around a college track coach discovering a jungle man in Africa and bringing him home to give his team a boost.
  • Wild Thing is an urban twist on this trope. In this film the main character grows up wild in the city's slums after witnessing drug dealers murder his parents. The story revolves around him helping the city's residents who are being terrorized by street gangs and drug dealers.

  • The Jungle Book: Mowgli could be considered the Ur-Example, since he appeared years before Tarzan himself did. (But he is native, and for most of the stories, younger). Actually, Rudyard Kipling himself accused Tarzan of being an Expy of Mowgli, however, Edgar Rice Burroughs denied it.
  • The Son Of Tarzan (1915): In this novel Jack, the son of Tarzan and Jane, returned to Africa and became a jungle hero similar to his father, taking the name of Korak. The character was later adapted into various comic series, sometimes having solo adventures, sometimes appearing alongside Tarzan.
  • Ki-Gor was the most popular Tarzan imitator during the 40-50s. He was a blond muscular guy in leopard tights who had a gorgeous redheaded wife with a similar fashion sense. His story cycle was quite Fair for Its Day, featuring a black Massai chief who was shown to be a noble and resourceful hero in his own right, and was treated as a brother by Ki-Gor.
  • There are some terms, such as "tarzanesque" and "tarzanide" or "tarzanidi" (Italian version), coined by the French journalist Francis Lacassin, author of Tarzan ou le Chevalier crispé (1971).
  • King Dong had Marzipan was in an on again/off again gay relationship with the titular giant gorilla.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Gilligan's Island episode "Our Vines Have Tender Apes" features a Tarzan-like wild man named Tongo, who acts like an ape. He's, however, revealed to be an actor merely practicing for a role.

  • "Tarzan Boy" by Baltimora: The Trope Namer. Its lyrical hero is this type of character, who lives the "jungle life" "far away from nowhere". Those who spent a lot of time on the internet in the mid-to-late 2000s will probably know it best as the song associated with the "Gay Fuel" fad on YTMND.
    • There's also a remixed version called "Tarzan Boy 2000" by Jungle Groover ft. Mr. Z. The rather campy music video features a ditzy parody of Tarzan (somewhat similar to George of the Jungle), who is lusted upon by a Jane-esque Ms. Fanservice.
    • Wrestling fans will know this song best as the theme for Jungle Boy of All Elite Wrestling.
  • The Talking Heads song "Totally Nude" is about a person who willingly leaves modern society to live as a wild man in the forest.
    Nature boy, nature man, take me along
    Deep in the woods we're undiscovered

    Professional Wrestling 


  • Tarzan himself featured in multiple radio dramas, such as Tarzan Lord of The Jungle (1951)

  • The religious radio drama PatchThePirate has a couple of jungle adventures and two notable Tarzan Boy characters.
    • Banana Man (Not to be confused with the British superhero of the save name) is more of a parody similar to Gorge of the Jungle than John Clayton. When a sailor asked if he was like Tarzan, he replied, "Yup, me and Tarzan are almost identical twins; the only difference is that Tarzan is good at fighting apes, and I'm good at fighting Bananas" (Though he claims they look alike, in the cover art, Banana Man more resembles Captain Caveman with an enormous chin instead of a beard) Although he looks like a classic Mighty Whitey, he is actually part of an ancient culture of banana wielding warriors following what they call "Bananahood" complete with a Lost Language where characters of script are formed using tiny Bananas. When another sailor asks if he is Tarzan, he replies, "Tarzan? That wimp" Banana man tends to respond whenever someone unfortunately says the word "help", with "Help? Did I hear help? Naaa-aaa-aaa Banana Man!" and he arives via Vine Swing and forgets to Watch Out for That Tree!. He is untarnished from cartoon logic "Although I've had some freckles, I have never had a burse" in his own words, but the trees can no longer take it to the point of causing a literal ecological crisis.
    Princess Pirate (after seeing Bananaman hit a tree: "That's gotta hurt" Lily Elephant: "You'd better believe it hurts honey. We're loosing more rainforest everyday. Somehow we've got to save the trees!" Ironic considering she said, "Don't worry...the trees are used to him" in an earlier episode.
    • The trope was a Deconstructed in the episode "Kilimanjaro", where Captain Patch hires a guide named Barefoot Ben; a man who was an orphan of missionaries if Africa, who now lives in the jungle, likely carrying on his parents business. His knowledge of the jungle is so keen that he simply lives in the wilderness. "I live in the jungle. Everyday I get to work under the sun; every night I get to sleep under the stars. Who want's to live in a house when you can enjoy the beauty of God's creation" He also knows how to find food and avoid predators, sleeps in trees with hammocks he carries around and even has a pet Bush Baby. He speaks fluent English, and is implied to be fluent in Swahili as well. Although he does use modern tools and cloths, opting for an Adventurer Outfit instead of the Loincloth, he still Prefers Going Barefoot due to his keen knowledge of the jungle allowing him to avoid obstacles. According to his hilarious theme song preformed by the local monkeys for some reason, he has The Strength of Ten Men. He is also given more character in how he values godly wisdom and his faith rather than being merely a Nature Lover.

    Video Games 
  • Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland has Junglo the Jungle Hero, who used to be a strong, Tarzan-like figure who lived in the jungle. At the time of the game, he's well past his prime and even Tingle himself is stronger than him.
  • The first game of Wonder Boy series is about the titular character being a blonde good-looking caveman/jungle boy who has to travel into an island and atacking creatures to rescue his girl. Although looks more as a caveman, he looks more like a blonde Tarzan as in various comic book knockoffs.
  • The Nuka-World DLC of Fallout 4 has Cito, who was raised by "Ghoulrillas" (mutated version of gorillas) residing in the park's animal preserve.
  • Gonta Gokuhara in Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, a Gentle Giant who was raised away from society for most of his life by animals and decided to make an effort to become a gentleman after returning to human civilization. As a result, he's a Genius Ditz who's one of the world's leading experts on entomology and wilderness survival but fails to grasp simple subjects like proper grammar.

    Western Animation 
  • Beany and Cecil: "The Wild Man of Wildsville" featured Beany and Cecil meeting Go Man Van Gogh, a Tarzan parody who wore a beret with his loincloth and talked like a stereotypical Beatnik.
  • Classic Disney Shorts: The short Frank Duck Brings 'Em Back Alive features Goofy as an African wild man, with Donald Duck (as an expy of hunter Frank Buck) looking to sell him to the circus.
  • Timmy in the Count Duckula episode "Jungle Duck", who was raised by apes, and turns out to be the long lost son of a Great White Hunter called the Commodore.
  • DuckTales (1987): The episode "Jungle Duck" has Scrooge and company land in Africa and meet Jungle Duck, who Mrs. Beakley recognizes as the lost-long Prince Greydrake.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • A gag from Gorilla My Dreams has a vine-swinging gorilla pausing at a stoplight to let a Tarzan expy swing across.
    • The title characters of the 1968 short Chimp and Zee are a monkey and a jungle boy respectively.
  • Jungle Boy: Premiered as a What A Cartoon! Show short, intended to be a companion series for Johnny Bravo. He's a little boy who lives in the jungle and helps out animals.
  • George of the Jungle: The main character is a parody of Tarzan, a dumb and oblivious but good-natured Tarzan Boy who often has to save the jungle and its inhabitants from various threats. He's klutzy as well, slamming into trees and falling into the river as he's swinging on vines.
  • Peppa Pig: Pedro Pony becomes one for his holiday to the jungle in "Around the World with Peppa".
  • The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!: In "Mario of the Apes," Mario hits his head and is "adopted" by a gorilla couple. To cement the Tarzan parody, he's renamed as "Marzan" until he gets his memories back.


Video Example(s):


Cito from Nuka World

Even the Fallout series isn't immune to having Tarzan expys. While exploring Nuka-World's Safari Adventure Area, the Sole Survivor meets Cito, a jungle-man raised by gorillas. She points out the absurdity of her situation, but it goes over his head.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / TarzanBoy

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