Tarzan is the protagonist and titular character of Disney's 1999 animated feature film of the same name. Commonly known as the "Lord of the Jungle", Tarzan was rescued and raised by a colony of apes after his parents were killed by the bloodthirsty Sabor. As the years passed, he turned into an ape-man, protecting all of the apes, and never knowing the outside world, apart from the jungle.
In the 19th century, an English couple and their infant son escape a burning ship, ending up on land near uncharted rainforests off the coast of Africa. The couple craft themselves a treehouse from their ship's wreckage, but are subsequently killed by Sabor, a rogue leopardess. Kala, a female gorilla who recently lost her own child to Sabor, hears the cries of the orphaned human infant and finds him in the ruined treehouse. Though she is attacked by Sabor, Kala and the baby manage to escape. Kala takes the baby back to the gorilla troop to raise as her own, an act of which her mate, Kerchak, disapproves. Kala raises the human child, naming him Tarzan. Years later, as a child, he begins befriending the other gorillas in the troop and other animals, including the young female gorilla Terk, and the paranoid male elephant Tantor. One day, he accidentally triggers a stampede of elephants who mistakes him for a piranha. Tarzan blamed for the incident runs off, believing he finds himself unable to keep up with them, so he takes great efforts to improve himself as promised to Kala. As a young man, Tarzan is able to kill Sabor with his crude spear and protect the troop, gaining Kerchak's reluctant respect.
The gorilla troop's peaceful life is interrupted by the arrival of a team of human explorers from England, consisting of Professor Porter, his daughter Jane, and their hunter-guide Clayton. Curious, Tarzan, swings off to investigate. He spots Jane accidentally being separated from the group only to be chased by a pack of baboons. Tarzan saves her from the baboons. He recognizes that she is the same as he is: a human. Jane leads Tarzan back to the explorers' camp, where both Porter and Clayton take great interest in him — the former in terms of scientific progress while the latter hoping to have Tarzan lead him to the gorillas so that he can capture them and return with them to England. Despite Kerchak's warnings to be wary of the humans, Tarzan continues to return to the camp and be taught by Porter, Clayton, and Jane to speak English and learn of the human world, and he and Jane begin to fall in love. However, they are having a hard time convincing Tarzan to lead him to the gorillas, due to Tarzan's fear for their safety from the threat of Kerchak.
When the explorers' boat returns to retrieve them, Clayton makes Tarzan believe that Jane will stay with him forever if he reveals the gorillas. Tarzan agrees and leads the party to the nesting grounds, while Terk and Tantor lure Kerchak away to avoid having him attack the humans. Porter and Jane are excited to mingle with the gorillas, but Kerchak returns and threatens to kill them. Tarzan is forced to hold Kerchak at bay while the humans escape, and decides to leave the troop himself, now humiliated by his actions. Kala takes Tarzan to the treehouse she found him in, and shows him his true past. She tells him that she wants him to be happy whatever he decided. When Tarzan returns to the ship with Jane and Porter, they are ambushed by Clayton and his band of stowaway pirates, who reveal themselves to be poachers, intending to capture gorillas to be sold. After being detained in the brig, Tarzan flees with the help of his friends, and he races back to the gorillas' homeground. By nightfall, the gorillas are ambushed by Clayton and his men, who are stopped by the arrival of Tarzan and his friends. Clayton mortally wounds Kerchak and then engages Tarzan in a fierce battle across the vine-covered tree tops. Although Tarzan spares his life, Clayton is finally killed, when he falls with a vine around his neck, hanging him. Kerchak, in his dying breath, finally accepts Tarzan as his own and names him as leader of the gorilla troop. The rest of the gorillas are freed after scaring away the rest of Clayton's men.
The next day, as Porter and Jane prepare to leave for England, Tarzan reveals that he will stay with his gorilla troop. As the boat leaves shore, Porter encourages his daughter to stay with the man she loves, and Jane jumps overboard to return to shore; Porter shortly follows her. The Porters reunite with Tarzan and his family and embark on their new life together.
The Legend of Tarzan
Tarzan appears as the protagonist of the animated series. Since the end of the film, Tarzan assumed his role as leader of the Gorillas. He married Jane and they live happily in the jungle, residing in the old treehouse that Tarzan's parents had built before their deaths. Although Tarzan doesn't live with his mother and the other gorillas, Tarzan will still leap into action to protect them at any length, and he often returns to seek Kala's advice in dealing with situations such as the doubts of the other gorillas, and Jane wanting him to be more "civilized". While helping Jane get over her more romantic ideas about jungle life, she acts as his guide to the duplicity in human nature—and insists he eat his food from a plate. It is a never-ending growth process for both, with some startling insights into what "civilized" means, and some uproarious stumbling blocks along the way.
Many episodes revolve around his romance with Jane, interacting with the human world, as well as meeting and encountering various visitors of the jungle from England, with the rainforest having become a place of trade and port established by the recurring, Renard Dumont.
With Clayton and Sabor having been killed, a new line of enemies emerge for Tarzan to face, most notably Queen La, who fell in love with Tarzan and began an endless pursuit to eliminate Jane and have him as her mate. Another would include Tublat, a rouge gorilla and Kerchak's former rival who one does wishes to rule over the gorillas.
Tarzan's brown hair is styled in long dreadlocks. He wears almost no clothes; the only piece of clothing he wears is a tattered, brown loincloth around his waist. He wears his father's clothes once when he decides to go to England with Jane and Clayton. His eyes are blue-green in color and his muscular body is tanned from living in the jungle all his life.
Having lived in the jungle his whole life, Tarzan developed exceptional abilities that would be impossible for other humans. He was able to swing through the trees, slide across branches, hold things with his feet, and had a good sense of hearing and smell that excelled many human beings. He was an incredible fighter, being able to hold his own against some of the jungles deadliest predator. One of Tarzan's most notable accomplishments was when he managed to hold his own against Sabor, a ferocious and powerful leopard who had killed his parents many years earlier, and killed him. Tarzan often fought with a spear but would also commonly use his bare hands to defeat his opponents. He is also incredibly strong; this is seen when he pins down Kerchak and lifts at least two fully grown humans at the same time without any apparent effort. Another remarkable ability is his cleverness, as a child he made and used simple tools and weapons (a spear, a lasso, a sling) that other children his age can learn to make only when under the supervision of an adult. He also made a hammock for Zugor and a booby trap in Tarzan II. Because he knew no humans in his youth, it can be speculated that he taught himself through trial and error.
Tarzan makes occasional appearances in the Disney parks. Though an uncommon walk-around character, he does appear in the Tarzan's Treehouse attractions at Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland as well as appearing in various shows inspired by the film. At Tokyo DisneySea, Tarzan appears in that park's version ofFantasmic!, swinging on vines with Jane in projected footage during the jungle sequence.
- In the book by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan's real name is John Clayton III. In the film, Tarzan's real name is never addressed.
- Tarzan is the last male hero to be shown in his baby, child and adult ages, following Tod, Simba andHercules.
- Also in the book, Tarzan and Jane have a son named Korak, also known as Jack Clayton or John 'Jack' Paul Clayton IV. In Disney's version of Tarzan, Korak doesn't appear, and Tarzan and Jane have no children. However, Korak may be born in or prior to a new sequel or a new television series of Tarzan.
- He is one of two Disney characters to meet their author. The other is Ariel of The Little Mermaid. In both cases they meet them in their television series, made after the film they first appear in, and in each case they are unaware of the significance of the meeting.
- When Tony Goldwyn was unable to provide a satisfactory version of the Tarzan yell, Brian Blessed, the voice of Clayton, stepped in and provided the yells for the film instead. Michael T. Weiss provides both Tarzan's regular speaking voice and Tarzan yell in The Legend of Tarzan.
- Tarzan bares a striking resemblance to his late father, albeit without the beard and with longer hair.
- Despite being taught English by English people, Tarzan speaks English with an American accent. Reportedly, Tony Goldwyn was originally meant to use an American accent when speaking with the gorillas and a British accent when speaking with humans in order to differentiate gorilla language and English, but the idea was dropped when Goldwyn could not pull off a convincing English accent.
- While Tarzan called Kala "Mother", he never called Kerchak "Father", since Kerchak didn't consider him his son.
- Despite not appearing in the show itself, Tarzan was featured in some online games for the television series House of Mouse. However, Tantor made brief appearances in the show.
- When Tarzan is fighting Sabor, during the moment when Tarzan is lying on his back and Sabor is lying on top of him, Tarzan has his legs bent (he lifts his belly/waist to try to lift Sabor) but in the next shot, despite the fact that we don't see his legs, Tarzan appears to be lying firmly on his back.
- Tarzan evidently shows fear, as during his fight with Sabor, when Tarzan is backing away in the tree branches, if one listens past Tarzan grunts and the branches snapping, they can hear Tarzan let out a deep, slight whimper.
- He's also demonstrated fear in the scene that takes place on the boat, first when he realizes Clayton's men had taken the boat's crew members hostages and then went chasing after him (though this is mostly due to not expecting them to do that), and then moments after when he's holding onto the funnel's top before falling from there (probably due to being aware that he was having difficulties trying to climb it and he'd fall from unexpected heights).