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Tarzan Boy

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An Expy of Tarzan, and the Spear Counterpart to Jungle Princess. A Tarzan Boy 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 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 wear a Loincloth and travel around by Vine Swing.

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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 extremely 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).

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Examples (excluding Tarzan himself):

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Pokémon 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.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.

    Comic Strips 
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.

    Literature 
  • The Jungle Book: Mowgli could be considered the Ur-Example, since he appeared years before Tarzan himself did. 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 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.

    Music 
  • "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.
  • 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

    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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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.

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