Shere Khan was a tiger of the Indian jungle and the main antagonist of The Jungle Book. Shere Khan was Mowgli's archenemy.
Due to being born with a crippled leg, and derisively nicknamed Lungri (The Lame One) by his own mother, Shere Khan was arrogant and regarded himself as the rightful lord of the jungle. It seemed, however, that the only creature who looked up to him was Tabaqui, the cowardly, despised jackal.
One of Shere Khan's failed attempt to hunt humans (which ended up with him landing on a campfire, burning his front paws) caused a human "cub" to stray from his parents. By the time Shere Khan caught up with the infant it had already been adopted by the wolves Raksha and Father Wolf, who have named it Mowgli. Despite Shere Khan's bluster, Mowgli was accepted into Akela's wolf pack and protected by Bagheera and Baloo. Furious at losing his kill, the tiger swore that the cub would be his some day.
Over the next decade, while Mowgli was growing up, Shere Khan infiltrated the wolf pack by promising the younger wolves rich rewards once Akela was deposed. His plan came to a head when the young wolves maneuvered Akela into missing his kill, and the pack council met to expel him.
At the meeting Shere Khan threatened that if the wolves did not give him Mowgli he would take over their hunting territory. Having been warned by Bagheera, however, Mowgli attacked Shere Khan and his allies with a burning branch and drove them away. Akela left the pack to become a lone hunter. Mowgli returned to the human village, but swore that he would return one day with Shere Khan's skin.
After he reached the village Mowgli was adopted by Messua and her husband and learned human ways. He also learned that the villagers had heard of the lame tiger, which had a price on its head, but believed it was lame because it was the reincarnation of a money-lender who was lamed in a riot. When Mowgli scoffed at these fanciful tales the villagers decided to put him to work herding buffalo to keep him out of trouble. While he was doing so he met his wolf friend Grey Brother, who told him that Shere Khan was still planning to kill him. Grey Brother forced Tabaqui to tell him where and when Shere Khan was planning to strike, and then killed the jackal. With the help of Akela, Grey Brother and Mowgli traped Shere Khan in a narrow canyon and stampeded the buffalo, which trampled him to death.
Mowgli then set out to fulfill his promise by skinning Shere Khan, but while he was doing so he was interrupted by the village's elderly chief hunter Buldeo who wanted the tiger's hide for the reward. Mowgli called Akela, who pinned Buldeo down while Mowgli finished removing the hide.
Mowgli assumed that this would be an end of the matter, since in the jungle quarrels were usually settled quickly, but when he returned to the village with the buffalo the villagers drove him away, accusing him of witchcraft. Furious at being driven out of not one but two 'packs', Mowgli left. That night he fulfilled his pledge by laying Shere Khan's hide upon the wolf pack's council rock, and then danced upon the hide singing of his anger and confusion.
Thus Shere Khan's story came to an end, but the consequences of Mowgli's actions in defeating him continued to affect Mowgli and his adopted parents. Soon afterwards Mowgli discovered that the villagers were preparing to burn Messua and her husband to death for harbouring a witch-boy, and so he prepared to rescue them and take revenge on Buldeo and the villagers.
- Bubu/Claw the Lion from Kimba the White Lion resembles Shere Khan, except in Aryll's New World from Astro Boy Productions, who's named Chere Chan.
- Scar the Lion from The Lion King also resembles Shere Khan the Tiger, and are both Disney Villains. Scar’s character is also similar to Kipling’s Shere Khan being that while they’re not the best of fighters (Shere Khan being crippled and Scar being frail compared to Mufasa and Simba.), they are master manipulators, one being able to convince a clan of hyenas to help overthrow his brother in exchange for a multitude of prey and another convincing sub-adult wolves to overthrow their alpha with promise of easy prey. The former was actually successful in their schemes.
- In the real world, India has had at least eight actual man-eating tigers, though most of these were alive long after the stories were made.
- In the Jungle book stories the tiger is the villain, but in the real world tigers are both feared and revered by the peoples of India and it is held as the country's national animal,
- Despite being more accurate to the original source material in terms of their personalities. The Shere Khans from Mowgli’s Brothers and Shōnen Mowgli share many noticeable differences. In terms of color; instead of being orange, the Shere Khan is portrayed as a leucistic (White) tiger while the Shere Khan from Shōnen Mowgli has a yellow fur color instead of orange. Another noticeable difference is that neither version of the man eating tiger has a crippled leg. The injuries Shere Khan received includes a wolf bite on his back leg that left him limping but healed over time as opposed to being a deformity Khan was born with, a wound on his forehead caused by Mowgli throwing a sharp rock at him and later a slash over his eye once again caused by Mowgli.
The Disney versionEdit
In Disney's 1967 animated adaptation of The Jungle Book, Shere Khan is the main antagonist, entering the story about three-quarters of the way through. His seductive, purring voice was supplied by the late George Sanders, and by Carlos Petrel in the Spanish version of the movie. He was designed and animated by master animator Milt Kahl. Khan is not depicted as being lame — quite the contrary, he is extremely powerful, deadly, and sophisticated. His mere presence in the jungle compels the wolf pack to send Mowgli away, since Shere Khan will kill him just on the principle that Mowgli is human; Man's gun and Man's fire are the only things Shere Khan fears. He easily avoids falling victim to Kaa's hypnotic powers, though whether it is from experience, observation, or immunity is unclear.
In the climactic battle of the movie, he finds Mowgli and gives him a ten second head-start. Once he reaches ten, Baloo grabs his tail and holds him back. Shere Khan chases Mowgli, who is being carried away by the vultures, while dragging Baloo behind him. Baloo proves such an impediment to Khan that he turns and attacks Baloo until the vultures arrive and distract him. Mowgli finds a burning branch from a lightning-struck tree and ties it to Khan's tail. When a vulture's comment prompts Khan to notice the branch, he tries in vain to put the fire out and winds up running away frantically.
In the Disney animated television show TaleSpin, Shere Khan is a recurring character. He's been anthropomorphized and personifies the wealthy industrialist archetype, the president of a huge conglomerate called Khan Industries. Occasionally, he would engage in somewhat dishonest business practices, but, for the most part, his most consistent characterization was as a cutthroat, often ruthless, but largely honorable businessman, who seemed to hold to a personal code of integrity (though that code was never very well-defined.) His business practices occasionally put him at odds with Baloo and the other TaleSpin heroes, but he is essentially a fair-minded man and gets on reasonably well with them. In the show, he was very grim-faced and serious. He had an almost unflappable demeanor, able to maintain an icy cool exterior even while (on at least one occasion) being shot at by air pirates (not flinching even when bullets missed him by inches.) His voice in the series was provided by the late Tony Jay.
In the television series Jungle Cubs (1996-1998), a prequel to the original 1967 film, Shere Khan appears as a young tiger cub. The show reveals that he was once friends with Baloo, Bagheera, King Louie, Kaa, and Hathi and, much like Kaa, was also seen having somewhat of a less malevolent personality as a cub than as an adult, but is still arrogant and haughty. Khan often tagged along with Baloo and friends on many adventures, usually trying to prove he's braver than they are. In the series, Shere Khan is given an American accent, while in other appearances, Khan speaks with a British accent. He seems to be the oldest of the cubs. He is sometimes called Khanny by others. In spite of being a cub, Khan still holds his intimidating demeanor and continues to strike fear into the hearts of many of the jungle's inhabitants. However, his cocky attitude can get him and his friends into trouble with foes even he's frightened by, usually by bigger animals. Khan prefers to refer to the others as his followers rather than his friends, even though he obviously enjoys spending time with them. During the second season though, while still friends with the other cubs, he becomes less often seen with them and spends more time hunting. Much like an adult, Khan was sometimes found with Kaa. In one episode, the duo teamed up to take advantage of Louie, after he accidentally injured them. Acting as if they were too injured to do anything themselves, they spent the day bossing the ape around. Khan is the least physically-changed of the cubs during the second season: He is slightly taller with brighter fur, but still has the same voice actor. In Jungle Cubs: Born to Be Wild DVD, Khan, as an adult, returned to murder Mowgli yet again; however, Baloo was able to throw a beehive onto the tiger's head right before he could, having him run off in pain. He was voiced by Jason Marsden in the series and Enzo Fortuny in the Spanish version.
Shere Khan appears again as the main antagonist in the theatrical sequel to the 1967 film, The Jungle Book 2 (2003). When Mowgli returns to the jungle, the tiger seeks revenge and places Mowgli's friend Shanti in jeopardy, only to be defeated again, but not killed. Shere Khan appears again in The Jungle Book 3 (2003) After Shere Khan has escaped from the lava pit, he was captured and was sold to a Russian circus along with Baloo. Meanwhile Bagheera, Shanti, Ranjan, and Mowgli have decided to save them both. After they saved them, Shere Khan regrets his hatred against humanity due to his capture, and had changed his evil ways. He is again voiced by Tony Jay in the films. Tony Jay also provided the voice when Shere Khan was featured as a guest in House of Mouse.