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Western Animation / Jungle Cubs

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Jungle Cubs is an animated TV series spun off from the Disney movie The Jungle Book (1967). It serves as a prequel to the movie, starring the child version of the six main animal characters: Baloo the bear, Bagheera the panther, Louie the ape, Shere Khan the tiger, Hathi the elephant and Kaa the snake.

Jungle Cubs provides examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight: "Feather Brains," which focuses on Arthur and Cecil.
  • Affably Evil: Emphasized even more so with the show, where both Shere Khan and Kaa were friends with Baloo and the others in their early life (if still somewhat antagonistic). This is emphasized in "Coming Of The Wolves" in which young Kaa snatches a small bird, seemingly set on devouring it, instead pleasantly greeting it good morning before letting it go, having already had a large meal (revealing a large bulge in his tail as he slithers off).
    Kaa: 'Tis good to eat, but 'tis better to have eaten.
  • Animal Jingoism:
    • Invoked with Kaa (a python) and Mungo (a mongoose), with Bagheera outright saying that they are meant to be natural enemies, leading to their Forbidden Friendship and Kaa fearing that Mungo will turn on him. In the end, after Mungo saves Kaa from two cobras who tried to eat the latter, they decided to defy the norms and remain friends.
    • As mentioned elsewhere, canines and hyenas tend to be given antagonistic roles in this show. Coincidentally, two of the protagonists (Bagheera and Shere Khan) are big cats. The only exceptions are Akela and Leah.
    • In “Buffaloed”, while he gets tricked into doing it by Arthur and Cecil, Shere Khan is still very eager to bring down his first water buffalo, as this seems to be some kind of rite of passage for tigers, but he quickly learns that he’s bitten off more than he can chew. Subverted at the end, where he and the old buffalo team up to teach the vultures a lesson.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • In “Splendor in the Mud”, Winifred’s uncle is afraid of and then gets knocked down and injured by a mother rhinoceros. In real life, the opposite is true, as a rhino would hardly stand a chance against a full-grown bull elephant and in fact, bull elephants are known for killing rhinos (sometimes for no apparent reason).
    • White Hood, in his guest appearance in “Treasure of the Middle Jungle”, is fairly similar to his book counterpart, except for the tiny detail that he has been reimagined as a 100-foot-long giant, over twice the length of the largest known snake (the extinct Titanoboa). Though it’s acknowledged as being unusual in-universe, as other cobras that show up in the series are normal-sized.
    • The cheetah in "Hulla Baloo" roars like a tiger, which cheetahs can't do. And while cheetahs were historically native to India (as recently as the early 20th century), they always inhabited open plains, not the jungle. Living in dense rainforests defeats the purpose of being a fast-running sprinter.
    • In "Curse of the Magnificent Melon", Haithi implies elephants don't like melons. In reality, it's the total opposite; elephants LOVE melons for how juicy and sweet they are.
  • Badass Boast: Shere Khan gets one in "Nice Tiger":
    Shere Khan: Don't ever say my name and the word nice in the same sentence! There's not a speck of niceness in my entire body! Nice germs die when they get within a hundred — no, a thousand feet of me!
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: After getting a bump on the head in "Shere Bliss", Shere Kahn becomes happy and outgoing. The cubs had wished for him to loosen up at the beginning of the episode, but eventually get tired of his new personality.
  • Beary Friendly: Besides Baloo himself, there is also the one-shot character Mccoy, a Himalayan brown bear that the former befriends in “Hulla Baloo”, which makes Louie jealous. Mccoy is just as affable and laid-back as Baloo, but being older, he can also act scary by roaring and sends a vicious cheetah packing, twice.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Like in the movies, Kaa is constantly subjected to physical abuse (arguably even more so), which is Played for Laughs.
    • Arthur and Cecil don't fair any better a lot of the time, though it's usually a case of Laser-Guided Karma.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Shere Khan refers to himself as one in "Nice Tiger:"
    Shere Khan: Ah ! I've done my bad deed for the day… (and later) Don't ever say my name and the word nice in the same sentence! There's not a speck of niceness in my entire body!
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Between young Hathi and Winifred. With Hathi being the clumsy Nervous Wreck he is, he tends to unintentionally insult and/or annoy her, not helped by his friends wanting to preserve their boy’s club, prompting her to always leave in a huff. Though they seem to be on better terms in season two.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Despite being the closest thing to a Big Bad in season one, Mahra and her boys are completely absent from the second season, despite their home (the wasteland) being used again there. Likewise, all other season one characters sans Arthur and Cecil, like Winifred’s uncle, Akela and Leah, or Mungo are absent in the second season.
  • Continuity Nod: Several, including a few in the intro. Most obvious are the ruins where the cubs hang out, which are the same ruins Louie and the monkeys rule over in the movie - the biggest one might be an episode where Louie finds out he's destined to be king of the jungle, and learns he has what it takes to be the just, kind ruler that everyone needs someday. Ironically...
    • It should be mentioned that Louie is often referred to as a "Prince" in the first season, which seemed to imply that he was meant to be king from the beginning. However, in the second season this is completely ignored in favor of the whole monkey prophecy thing.
  • Deep South: Mahra and her boys, Fred, Ned and Jed, who serve as recurring antagonists in season one, talk and act like stereotypical villainous rednecks, down to living in isolation from the other jungle animals (their home is in the wasteland). Unsurprisingly, Mahra is the domineering matriarch while her boys are dim-witted momma’s boys.
  • Depending on the Writer:
    • Out of all the cubs, Shere Khan is the most prone to this.
      • Is he already a fierce predator who strikes fear into the hearts of all the other jungle animals, or is he a Bratty Half-Pint who is way in over his head and tends to bite off more than he can chew? Depending on the plot, he can be either. For emphasis, in one episode, he scares off a full-grown rhino by just roaring, while in another, he is no match for an old and decrepit water buffalo.
      • How close is he to the other cubs? Is he a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who cares about them more than he cares to admit, or is he just a self-absorbed bully who serves as their rival? The first season seems to lean more towards the former, the second towards the latter.
    • Bagheera tends to be the most mature and serious-minded of the group, and yet in episodes featuring Winifred, he tends to be just as immature and dismissive as Baloo and Louie.
    • The first season usually depicts Louie as just another jungle animal, yet certain episodes will refer to him as "Prince Louie", despite him having no apparent royal authority (or kingly parents). Furthermore, the second season's pilot has him learning for the first time that he's meant to be king of the jungle and learning how to be a proper leader, but after that, he's back to just being regular old Louie again?
  • Everyone Went to School Together: It just so happens that the six most important animals Mowgli encounters after leaving the wolf pack have been a close-knit group of friends when they were young, but went separate ways as adults. Akela the wolf, however, is already an adult, as he was an old wolf in the movie.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: In "Buffaloed", Cecil and Arthur talk about their attempts to provoke Shere Kahn and an old buffalo into fighting close toa tree where Baloo was currently eating, allowing him to overhear their plan and explain the situation to Shere Kahn.
  • Expy: Mungo, the young mongoose Kaa befriends in “Mondo Mungo”, is essentially a kid version of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. The episode even ends with him fighting (and defeating) a pair vicious cobras (ala Nag and Nagaina).
  • Flanderization: The characters personalities become more exaggerated in the second season. For example, Hathi goes from just being absentminded to more of a naive klutz, Bagheera is incredibly uptight and freaks out at the slightest bit of disorganization, and Shere Khan becomes more of a stereotypical bully.
  • Forbidden Friendship: Kaa the python and Mungo the mongoose.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The main characters' friendship peters out and dies - they all end up being not-so-close, while Shere Khan and Kaa take places as more menacing predators in the jungle and become estranged from the rest.
  • Foreshadowing: In the episode "Feather Bains" Shere Khan is shown about to pounce on a deer, just like in his introduction scene in the original film.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Baloo is phlegmatic, Bagheera is melancholic, Shere Khan is choleric, Louie is sanguine. Hathi and Kaa qualify as supine.
  • Friend Versus Lover: In “Feather Brains”, Cecil falls in love with a female vulture named Clarice and kicks Arthur out of their home. We later learn that Clarice was just using him to get free meals and left him because she was migrating, which makes Cecil crawl back to Arthur.
  • Full-Boar Action: One episode has Louie’s toddler cousins Benny and Clyde, and later Louie himself, getting attacked by a huge babirusa. The former gets rescued by Shere Khan in an Off Screen Moment Of Awesome.
  • The Ghost: Humans are frequently mentioned but unlike in the movies, they never show up on screen here, not even in Winifred’s debut episode, despite her herd’s backstory being that they were captive elephants who were left to fend for themselves after their village got destroyed during a storm and their human caretakers presumably killed. It sometimes goes into Humans Are Cthulhu territory, as humans are often referred to with dread and fear (and exaggeration).
  • Heinous Hyena: In “The Humans Must Be Crazy”, Bagheera gets hounded (twice) by a pair of particularly scary-looking striped hyenas, one of which is missing an eye. The hyenas are one of the few animals in the show who are depicted in a non-anthropomorphic manner. The episode also ends with them mauling Arthur and Cecil.
  • Identical Stranger: Winifred’s uncle looks and sounds just like adult Hathi (down to being voice by Jim Cummings), and acts as a military general, marches with his herd, and carries a pointer stick with his trunk, perhaps implying that Hathi looked up to and modeled his adult persona after him.
  • "I Want" Song: "When We Find Our Treasure".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Shere Khan, depending on the episode.
  • Lovable Coward: Kaa is a craven coward in this series. Kind of justified, since the universe seems to have it out for him, and his hypnotic powers aren't developed enough yet to be an effective defense.
  • Minor Living Alone: All of the cubs are shown to be living on their own, as several episodes show them inhabiting solitary dens, with no parents in sight, and they never deal with any adult supervision while going on their (sometimes dangerous) adventures. The one exception, oddly enough, is Shere Khan, as we hear his mother roaring for him in the pilot and meet his grandmother in another episode.
    • This is especially evident in episodes featuring Winifred, who lives with her uncle and his herd, but Hathi is not a member of it (since they were originally captive elephants) and we never see him being part of any herd period.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Mahra, a baboon, and her children. Also Louie, and orangutan. Neither primates exist in India. To say nothing of the non-Indian fauna that show up in the series such as babirusa, sloths, toucans, warthogs, squirrel monkeys and macaws. Inverted with an ostrich in one episode.
  • Mighty Roar: Shere Khan frequently utters one of those, despite only being a cub.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Since the show is set in a jungle, naturally, crocodiles frequently show up as enemies. “How The Panther Lost His Roar” and “The Great Kaadinii” are the most notable examples, the latter featuring a subplot where Bagheera is stuck in a canyon with a gigantic crocodile who tries to gobble him up.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Bagheera, Shere Khan, and Hathi all have American accents in the show. This is made all the more jarring due to "Born To Be Wild" replicating their original British voices for their adult forms.
    • Even stranger, young Winifred (Hathi’s future wife) does speak with a British accent here, despite having an American one in the film. So she and Hathi switched accents as they grew up?
  • Not Now, We're Too Busy Crying Over You: There's a long sequence of this when Baloo and Kaa were presumed dead.
    Louie: I keep thinking they'll turn up around the next bend. I tell you, animal, it's nuts. (blasely says hi to Baloo) Everywhere I look, I see their faces.
    Bagheera: Weird, now I'm seeing 'em too.
    Baloo: Hey, what's with you Lou? You look like you lost your best friend or something.
    Louie: (looking away) I did...
    Baloo: That's terrible! Who?
    Louie: You. (eyes bulge) WOAH! HANG ON A SEC! BALOO! (shakes him madly) YOU'RE ALIVE!
    Baloo: ''(dazed)' Last time I checked.
  • Only Sane Man: Bagheera is the voice of reason, possibly even more so than in the movies.
  • Panthera Awesome: Shere Khan is this, when he's written as being competent. Examples include saving the other cubs by scaring off Mahra and her boys in the pilot, saving Bagheera from a charging rhino in "How The Panther Lost His Roar" (after he himself expertly outmaneuvered the rhino and leaped over a huge gorge), and chasing off an attacking clouded leopard twice in "Shere Bliss".
  • Predation Is Natural: Kaa routinely eats or attempts to eat sapient animals around the rest of the gang, which is treated as another quirk of his. When Louie, a prey animal, jokes about switching him to a banana diet in one episode, he responds by swallowing a nearby bird.
  • Rhino Rampage: Rhinos sometimes show up as threats, like in “How The Panther Lost His Roar”, where Shere Khan ticks off a giant, foul-tempered rhino and makes it chase him and Bagheera as part of a challenge, and "Splendor in the Mud", where a mother rhino charges and injures Winifred's uncle. Subverted in other episodes, where they are shown as more mild-mannered or even friendly.
  • Running Gag: While he does so once in the first movie, this show really started the "Bagheera falls into a body of water" gag, which happens almost Once an Episode, that was used three times in the sequel.
    • The two ever-hungry vultures Arthur and Cecil always end up beaten up, crushed, mauled, etc while attempting to make a meal out of the main characters.
  • Savage Wolves:
    • There are two instances where savage canines serve as the Big Bad of two-parter episodes and in both cases, the leader of the pack is depicted as a non-nonsense, ruthless villain who has no qualms about killing the cubs. The first example are the eponymous dholes from “Red Dogs”, and the second is Kain (Akela’s evil predecessor) and his pack from “The Coming of the Wolves”.
    • In Winifred's debut episode, she gets attacked by another pack of wolves, but they get fought off by Hathi, Bagheera, and Louie.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: In “Red Dogs”, a sleepwalking Baloo follows a bee to the Honey Cliffs and, after getting stung, he and Kaa are the subjects of the hive's anger. Interestingly, this episode also averts the fact that bees are afraid of water, as when Baloo and Kaa toboggan into a river, the swarm circles the surface. The pair only escape by, supposedly, swimming away underwater.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Bagheera and Shere Khan have this dynamic, being the two token felines of the group, bordering on Bully and Wimp Pairing. Shere Khan is far more confident, capable, and athletic, as well as more skilled at hunting than the timid, nervous, and inexperienced Bagheera, and Khan sometimes rubs it in the panther’s face and makes him feel inadequate, most notably in “How The Panther Lost his Roar”.
  • Shout-Out: At the end of The Humans Must Be Crazy, Bagheera disposes of a "man thing" (actually a pocket watch) that he found after it indirectly causes a fire. But then a crocodile swallows it by accident.
  • Shown Their Work: With the show being set in India, the first season features a surprising number of obscure Asiatic wildlife. These include dholes (a.k.a. red dogs), four-horned antelopes, striped hyenas, pangolins, clouded leopards, Asiatic cheetahs, Himalayan brown bears, and babirusa.
  • Snakes Are Sinister:
    • Downplayed and mostly subverted with Kaa, which ironically makes him more in line with his book counterpart.
    • Played straight with White Hood the cobra, although it's revealed that his venom is all gone along with his fangs (just like in the book).
    • “Mondo Mungo” features two huge and roaring cobras who try and eat Kaa, but he gets saved by Mungo.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Arthur and Cecil's Leitmotif in the first season is oddly happy and cheerful despite the vultures' usually sinister intentions. The second season fixes this by adding a slightly more sinister one.
  • Spin-Off Babies: Natch.
  • Stock Beehive: Averted in one episode. Baloo finds a beehive set on a cliff while sleepwalking, and said hive looks exactly like its Real Life counterpart. Oddly, the swarming bees are dumb enough to let one huge chunk of their honeycombs to fall down and be picked up by him.
  • Stop Drowning and Stand Up: At the beginning of "Red Dog", Louie falls into a pool and thrashes frantically that he's going to drown, until Kaa sarcastically asks him "Why don't you try standing up?"
  • Token Evil Teammate: Shere Khan, at this point, is a friend of the other jungle animals, but already a Jerkass.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Happens to Arthur and Cecil of all characters in “The Great Kaadinii” after accidentally getting hypnotized by Kaa into thinking they are “great hunters” (Kaa was trying to do that to himself). They proceed to cause mayhem in the jungle and attack all the other cubs, including Hathi (an elephant) and send Shere Khan packing.
  • Vile Vulture: Downplayed with Arthur and Cecil. They are mostly just trying to eat and constantly lament about not being able to find food, but when they do try to incite “accidents” to get an easy meal, they tend to be too goofy and inept to be loathsome.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Despite the usually light-hearted tone, some one-shot villains are surprisingly menacing, notably Kain (Akela’s evil predecessor), the leader of the marauding dholes, the two striped hyenas that hunt Bagheera, and the pair of giant cobras that try to kill Kaa, who are all depicted as deadly serious killers with no comedic quirks, or issues with killing the cubs. Kain and the dhole leader also have the benefit of being voiced by Jim Cummings.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Given who the main characters are and how things end up between them as in The Jungle Book years later, Jungle Cubs could be called We Used To Be Friends: The Series.
    • The trope is actually played straight in the video release Born to Be Wild; in the flashforward cutscenes, Shere Khan ambushes and corners Mowgli, Baloo and Bagheera, leading to Baloo attempting to dissuade the tiger by reminding him of their old friendship.
      Baloo: Now look, we helped you out of some jams when we were kids. You owe us.
      Shere Khan: Oh Baloo, the past is the past.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back!: The cubs' reaction to Shere Khan becoming energetic and friendly after getting a bump on the head in "Shere Bliss".
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Judging by the episode where Shere Khan's reaction to his (off-screen) parents is shown, Shere Khan is one of these. May also be a Freudian Excuse for some of his later villainy.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: Baloo, Louie, Shere Khan, and Kaa’s reaction to finding out what the treasure of the Middle Jungle is gold and jewels, as they thought “treasure” meant something that would grant them their greatest wishes. White Hood promptly explains that this is a “man treasure” and that he’s guarding it from humans.