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Western Animation / Tarzan and Jane

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“When the Shaman’s medicine mixed with your dad’s medicine, it didn’t just save me. It changed me.”

In Tarzan & Jane a plane crash kills the infant Tarzan’s parents. He is found and raised by the ape Kala, who does not bring him back to her fellow apes but instead takes him to the nearest native village, where the Shaman there (and the modern doctor Porter) heals the injuries Tarzan sustained during the crash.

The Shaman then mixes his potions with Porter’s medicines and they then coat the baby during a fire lit ceremony with the essence of cheetah, lion and gorilla. The result? A super-human with speed, strength, agility and the handy ability to grow a set of claws. Come morning Chief Waziri tells Porter that the child has died, but in reality the Shaman and the Chief’s son Muviro has slipped the baby out of the village and entrusted him in the safety of Kala. Tarzan grows up with his superpowers and becomes best friends with Muviro. Doctor Porter makes another visit to the Wazuri village this time with his 15-year-old daughter Jane and when she gets lost in the jungle, she is saved by Tarzan.

The show's main storyline truly kicks in when Tarzan is netted and captured. Turns out the Earl of Greystoke had seen youtube footage of the jungle boy and has realised that Tarzan is his grandson. He’d hired people to infiltrate Porter’s staff and retrieve Tarzan, but when the teen-ape-man is brought to civilization, he wants no part of it.

Luckily Lord Greystoke is able to get Tarzan to understand that though Kala is his mother he did have other parents and that Greystoke is Tarzan’s family as well. The unlikely decision by Tarzan to stay in an unknown home and try fitting in is made easier by the presence of Jane. Tarzan briefly blames Jane for that whole “being captured” thing but once the two bury the hatchet they become a dynamic duo, as they find themselves caught up in animal trafficking, corporate sabotage involving pesticides and, of course, the age-old classic of bulldozers threatening to destroy trees.

Not to be confused with the Disney Direct to Video film Tarzan & Jane, which was a Compilation Movie of three episodes of The Legend of Tarzan TV series.

Tropes present in this series:

  • Adaptational Diversity: This time Jane is British-American, rather than just American as she was in the original novels, and biracial, having a white father and a black mother.
  • Adaptational Badass: Jane is much more of a fighter here than in other adaptations of the story.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Jane is British-American this time, rather than simply being American.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the novels, Clayton is Tarzan's cousin who inherits the title after Tarzan's parents are presumed dead. He is a nice English gentleman, who is willing to sacrifice his life to save Jane. Although Clayton's desire to become the next Earl Greystoke reflects William's desire to keep the truth of Tarzan's identity a secret from Jane out of fear that he would lose her.
  • Age Lift: Albeit not by much. In the original Burroughs canon Tarzan and Jane were 18 and 19 respectively when they first met. Here they are both high school age.
  • Agony of the Feet: In episode five, Tarzan runs over a metal boardwalk in a building that's on fire to save two men trapped inside. The flames heat the metal and he ends up burning his bare feet.
    Tarzan: I should've worn shoes!
  • Animal Talk: Tarzan obviously can talk to animals of the jungle, but he also shows the ability to talk to animals such as birds and his Grandfather's pet dog.
  • Badass Normal: With the exception of his powers, Jane Porter is Tarzan's equal in everything he can do because of her training with her mother's stunt doubles.
  • Big Bad: Clayton is ultimately revealed to be this as he's behind the poaching in Season 1.
  • Big Eater: Tarzan; though never mentioned, it may be due to his super powers.
  • Blue Blood: Earl Greystoke and his grandson John (Tarzan). Clayton also qualifies.
  • Bring It Back Alive: In the first episode, the unseen villain revealed to be Clayton tells his poachers to bring the 'ape boy' back to him alive.
  • Crossover: Theoretically with Kong: King of the Apes as besides Kong appearing and his place of origin being a subterranean world there is little in common.
  • Daddy's Girl: Jane and her father are very close.
  • Damsel in Distress: Jane at first. She's an example of that trope played right. She doesn't need to be saved because she's dumb or particularly weak, but because she's a Fish out of Water in a very dangerous environment.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Tarzan. His real name is John Clayton, but he prefers being called Tarzan because it is the name the Shaman bestowed upon him and the name he grew up hearing.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Nearly all of the guns (which varied between looking realistic and cartoony) that were used in the show were tranquilizer ones, though actual, bullet-firing rifles (complete with shell casings) did show up in "Showdown in the Jungle" and "Too Much Monkey Business." This is justified as much of the action takes place in the UK, which has very strict laws regarding gun control.
  • Held Gaze: A few happen between Tarzan and Jane over the course of the series.
  • Hulk Speak: Averted. When Jane first encounters Tarzan, she assumes he is an inarticulate jungle boy and she introduces herself to Tarzan with a clumsy “Me, Jane.” Now of course Muviro has schooled Tarzan since he was a little kid and so his English is close to perfect, but he still responds, “Me, Tarzan” and continues to play the dumb savage as a kind of running joke for a while.
  • Implied Love Interest: Tarzan and Jane to each other.
  • Kid Hero: Tarzan and Jane, they're only 15 years old.
  • Le Parkour
  • Lost in Imitation: Clayton as an antagonist comes from the 1999 Disney film.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Tarzan, who can seamlessly cross from being undeniably badass to just plain adorable whenever he's with Jane.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Surprisingly Tarzan's super powers invoke this trope. The series has Tarzan have the strength of a gorilla and the speed of a cheetah, in the books Tarzan is described at age 10 to be "fully as strong as the average man of thirty, and far more agile than the most practiced athlete ever becomes.”
    • Tarzan's, Kala's and Clayton's physical appearances are clearly based off Disney's adaption of Tarzan, with the appearance of Tarzan in that film having been based off of Christopher Lambert who played the character in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. Muviro's physical appearance is based off Basuli's physical appearance from Disney's Legend Of Tarzan.
    • Tarzan smashing the poachers' guns is a throwback to both the old Johnny Weissmuller films, where Tarzan developed a habit of smashing strangers' guns on sight after seeing several of his friends shot (and been shot at himself) and the Disney movie and TV series where Tarzan destroys Clayton's gun and physically disarms anyone who hold one in the TV series.
    • The name of Tarzan and Jane's school is the Burroughs Academy, while a cargo ship that shows up in several episodes is named the S.S. Edgar.
  • Nature Hero: Tarzan and Jane become this.
  • Prefers Going Barefoot: Tarzan absolutely refuses to wear shoes, even to school.
  • Race Lift: In the original novel, Jane was an American and Tarzan was the lost son of a British lord. In the series, not only is Jane Half-British, but she's also biracial.
  • Save the Villain: Tarzan and Clayton when the latter tries to retrieve his ring.
  • Setting Update: The series is set in modern times instead of being a period piece if one were to follow the books.
  • Shown Their Work
  • Signature Roar: It's Tarzan, of course.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the original novels, Tarzan's father was the Viscount Greystoke before Tarzan's cousin William Cecil Clayton and Tarzan himself. By all logic this indicates that Tarzan's paternal grandfather died before he was born. In this series, his grandfather outlived his son and is still alive by the time Tarzan is in his teens.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Tarzan; it's not just jungle animals he can speak too, but he's shown the ability to talk to London's birds and his Grandfather's pet dog Digby.
  • Super-Reflexes: Tarzan
  • Super-Senses: Tarzan
  • Super-Speed: Tarzan
  • Super-Strength: The essence of Gorilla does this to Tarzan.
  • The Nose Knows: Tarzan, though he usually uses it to detect food.
  • Vine Swing: Tarzan often does this. Surprisingly Jane is able to do this as well due to her gymnastics training.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Tarzan, Jane and Muviro.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Tarzan, prior to being taken to London, wore nothing but khaki shorts.
  • Wild Child: Tarzan, obviously.