Shere Khan is the main antagonist of Disney's 1967 animated feature film The Jungle Book, and its 2003 sequel The Jungle Book 2. A powerful, suave Bengal tiger, Shere Khan had nothing but disdain for his victims. His reputation was such that he needed only to show himself to intimidate the inhabitants of the jungle. His only fears are guns and fire.
As a cub, Shere Khan spoke with an American accent and was best friends with Baloo, Bagheera, King Louie, Hathi, and even Kaa. However, he was pretty egotistical and cocky, which often led to his friends bailing him out sometimes. The group went on many adventures, but at some undetermined time, Shere Khan developed a strong British accent and became a vicious predator, feared by all members of the jungle. Shere Khan then lost his friends, who would become his enemies from that moment forward.
- “Oh, please don't insult my intelligence. It makes me irritable.”
- ―Shere Khan to Kaa
Shere Khan acts as the physical embodiment of power and composure. With a dignified manner of carrying himself, and a strong sense of pride and elegance, the ruthless tiger is viewed as the uncorroborated ruler of the jungles of India; he is well aware of this reputation, as he takes advantage of it sadistically. Most, if not all residents of the jungle, are known to fear Shere Khan, and for reasons apparent: he is physically imposing, often seen with a stoic, menacing expression. The only moments where he's seen emoting otherwise is during his interrogations with potential victims, in which he speaks with a soft tone, coupled with a condescending and knowing smile, as he subtly taunts and emotionally torments his prey until he's ready to make the killing strike.
Shere Khan holds a burning hatred for mankind and vows to kill any human that steps foot within the jungle. It has been strongly implied that Shere Khan sees humans as unforgiving, soulless creatures who continuously cause havoc on nature, using narcissistic entitlement as justification for such acts. According to Bagheera, Khan hates man "with a vengeance", with both man's gun and man's fire having been involved in the creation of such hatred. Khan's fear of fire is the most dominant of the two and acts as a crippling phobia capable of driving the tiger to immediate panic. With such anger and rage, Shere Khan's normally somber and collected demeanor can become murderous, bloodthirsty, and feral in a matter of moments, as seen during his first confrontation with Mowgli in the original film, as he was willing to kill both the man-cub, and any animal who dared to protect him, without hesitation.
In the sequel, Shere Khan's personality and overall aura take a somewhat darker turn. Unlike the first film, his polite mannerisms and calm monologues are a rarity, as his bitterness and hatred towards Mowgli drive him to deeper madness, resulting in action being taken much quicker and having no comedic quirks whatsoever. He's also far more feral in this film; constantly growling, roaring, and losing his control when pestered even slightly, even going as far as viciously mauling a vulture as punishment for mocking him.
In the jungles of India, Bagheera the panther comes across an orphaned, human child lost in the jungle. The panther takes the child and delivers him to a pack of wolves–all of whom graciously accept the boy as their own. Years later, Shere Khan gets word that a man-cub is in the jungle and sets out to kill him. The word of Shere Khan's oncoming arrival spreads quickly, and the wolves assemble to discuss Mowgli's fate. It is ultimately decided that the jungle is no longer safe for the boy and that he must be returned to the Man-Village for his own good. Bagheera volunteers to escort him, and the journey begins.
Shere Khan makes his first physical appearance while stalking a deer as prey. His hunt was ruined when Colonel Hathi came marching by with his herd and scared it away, much to Shere Khan's annoyance. After Bagheera stopped them, Shere Khan eavesdropped on their conversation and was delighted when he heard about Mowgli, who had managed to escape Bagheera in hopes of staying in the jungle; without the panther at his side, the boy was now devoid of protection. After Bagheera and Hathi's herd separated to locate the man-cub, Khan began his own hunt for Mowgli.
After searching for some time, he heard Kaa seducing a victim and became suspicious. He grabbed Kaa's tail and got him to come down, subsequently questioning him about Mowgli. Kaa acted strangely while answering his questions, even attempting to hypnotize him, and his suspicious behavior prompted Shere Khan to search his coils for Mowgli. When it appeared that Kaa was truthful, Khan ordered him to act as an informative should the former come across the man-cub. Kaa agreed, and Khan took his leave.
Shere Khan's travels eventually led to the wastelands, where he overhears a flock of vultures singing. After investigating the occasion, he found Mowgli and calmly approached the group. Impressed by Mowgli's courage (being that he refused to immediately run at the sight of the tiger), Shere Khan gave the boy ten seconds to run away. Khan became more and more annoyed when he didn't, and eventually lunged for the killing strike. Baloo, Mowgli's friend, intervened by grabbing Khan's tail. As Shere Khan struggled to break free of Baloo's grip, the vultures carried Mowgli to safety.
Shere Khan then became furious, battled Baloo, and nearly killed him. The vultures intervened and stalled the tiger while Mowgli tied a burning branch to his tail. Upon noticing, Khan became terrified and frantically tried to put out the fire, but to no avail, forcing him to flee the wasteland with the burning branch still tied to his tail, greatly humiliating him in the process.
Shere Khan returned once again as the main antagonist in the second film. Unlike in the first, he appeared much earlier. He is first seen smashing a makeshift version of Mowgli's head after Baloo left the area with Bagheera in pursuit. He seeks revenge on Mowgli for humiliating him at the climax of the original film and wishes for nothing more than his death. Khan travels to the Man-Village where Mowgli dwells.
He had no luck until he heard Shanti, one of Mowgli's friends, calling him. He then found Mowgli's house and was delighted that he would now have his chance for revenge. He became impatient when Mowgli didn't appear. All at once, Mowgli appeared in the air above the house. After Shanti started screaming about a wild animal, Khan noticed it was Baloo with Mowgli and was surprised. After the villagers responded to Shanti's calls, they saw Shere Khan instead of Baloo and chased him out of the village. Khan was attacked by the villagers with torches but they had no power over him. He escaped in rage but overjoyed to hear that Mowgli is now in the jungle. He encountered Kaa afterward, who had seen Mowgli. Kaa at first insisted he didn't know where Mowgli was, but Shere Khan knew better and intimidated him, even though Kaa was telling the truth.
Out of fear, Kaa told Khan to search by the swamp. However, when Khan arrived, Mowgli is nowhere to be found and he splashes the water in fury as he says "That snake lied to me!" The vultures return and become uneasy when their newest member Lucky begins to insanely mock him. After a few "jokes", Shere Khan tricks Lucky into revealing Mowgli's whereabouts. Before Khan leaves, he viciously mauls Lucky as revenge for the annoyance and presumably kills him. Later on, he found Shanti and Ranjan and cornered them. Mowgli then appeared to find them and Khan confronted him.
Mowgli ran away and Khan pursued him to a temple in the middle of a pool of lava. After Baloo and Shanti teamed up and started to bang gongs with Mowgli, one fell down revealing Shanti. He then said he would kill her if Mowgli wouldn't come out. Mowgli did and he pursued him and Shanti after knocking Baloo aside. Mowgli and Shanti jumped onto a tiger statue right over a pit of lava with Shere Khan right behind them. Before he could kill them, the statue's head fell off towards the lava. Baloo saved Mowgli and Shanti, while Khan fell into the pit. Rather than perishing, he landed on a slab of rock and was trapped underneath the statue's head. Lucky, still alive but lost the feathers on his body and has a bruised right eye, then flew down and started to tease Khan again, much to his annoyance.
Shere Khan appeared in a more anthropomorphic form in the television series TaleSpin. Tony Jay provides his thick, British-accented voice starting from the series, until his death.
Khan is an extremely wealthy businessman who is the dominant economic force in Cape Suzette and an anti-hero. He is depicted as a selfish business man. He is sometimes accompanied by an unnamed emaciated tiger "yes-man" office aide. He takes enjoyment out of running small companies out of business (Higher for Hire is sometimes on his hit list) with a sense of ruthlessness to skirt around the law as he chooses. He also likes to feed tiny insects to the many carnivorous plants he grows in his office. He once even hired the Air Pirates to create an artificial oil shortage so he could extort higher prices from the public in "On a Wing and a Bear".
He has a well-armed air force and navy, complete with battleships. This is mainly to protect his shipping and business interests worldwide. However, he is willing to act nobly at times, such as ordering his forces into the air to protect the city from the Air Pirates, and has shown that he respects Baloo's piloting skills, most notably when he allowed Baloo to take over piloting his plane after having all pilots replaced with his own robotic pilots; his plane had been ambushed by the air pirates and the robotic pilot refused to deviate from its flight plan due to its programming causing Baloo to forcefully remove the robot and take control of the plane to evade the air pirates.
He has an extremely cool and calm personality, rarely (if ever) showing any sort of alarm or surprise regardless of the circumstances. In fact, when his plane was attacked by Don Karnage's forces in the incident detailed above, he calmly mixed himself a drink as he explained the situation to Baloo.
This version of Shere Khan also makes a cameo on a mugshot in Bonkers.
Shere Khan appeared as a young cub in the animated series Jungle Cubs. In the series, it was shown that Shere Khan was originally friends with Baloo, Bagheera, Hathi and the others. Shere Khan was more of a bully and cocky in the series rather than a dangerous predator. 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.
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. Much like an adult, Khan was sometimes found with Kaa often. 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.
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.
Shere Khan appeared in the TV series House of Mouse as a recurring guest, usually seen sitting either alone or with Kaa. In most of his pairings with Kaa, he is often seen holding Kaa by the neck, like in the movie.
In his most notable appearance in "The Mouse Who Came to Dinner", Mortimer Mouse was pretending to be the club's critic (which was really Lumière) to have Mickey and friends obey him and when he became annoying, Shere Khan became annoyed as well and quoted "Do you mind?" to which Mortimer replied, "Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do mind, Stripey! Somebody get Tigger's evil twin here a ball of yarn!"
A dish called Shere Khan's Flan, named after the villainous tiger, is mentioned by Goofy in "Rent Day".
In "Dining Goofy", Shere Khan was accidentally given broccoli by Goofy, thus angering the tiger. Soon after Goofy was replaced by advanced technology, Shere Khan's meal order was corrected.
In "Goofy's Menu Magic", when a food shortage occurred, Goofy attempted to serve Shere Khan his shoe for dinner (an apparent reference to the Goofy short "Tiger Trouble"). Shere Khan, however, was unamused.
Despite appearing in the series itself, Shere Khan never appeared in its movie Mickey's House of Villains, as Kaa is the only villain from The Jungle Book to join the Disney Villains, led by Jafar to take over the House of Mouse. However, in the opening sequence, a tiger's paw is seen on-screen as the characters are walking towards the club. So it could be possible that only Shere Khan's paw was seen once in the movie.
Shere Khan also appears in the 1994 live-action film, being portrayed by a real tiger. However, Shere Khan is presented as a more sympathetic character in this film. Khan appears rarely and instead serves as a major antagonist turned anti-hero of the film while an arrogant British captain named William Boone (played by Cary Elwes) serves as the main antagonist of the film. Unlike his animated counterpart, Khan does not kill for sport, and his sole goal is to protect the jungle from those who break its "laws", namely humans who kill animals for fun instead of food. He is described by the narrator of the film as "the jungle's royal keeper", and by Buldeo as the "king of tigers".
At the beginning of the movie, he sees two British guards and a hunter named Buldeo shooting animals for fun, and becomes enraged at this. He roars in his fury, letting the soldiers know he's returned and proceeds to follow the column of soldiers that the guards and Buldeo are part of. That night, he attacks the humans' camp in revenge for the animals' death, killing the two guards before turning on Buldeo. But before Khan can kill Buldeo, Nathoo (Mowgli's father and the soldiers' guide) shields the hunter. Although Nathoo tells Buldeo to shoot Khan, the ungrateful hunter runs away and abandons Mowgli's father to be killed. Khan's attack is also what led Mowgli to being separated from civilization and living in the jungle. Although he was heard growling when Bagheera found Mowgli, the tiger made no attempts to attack Mowgli at any point over the years (probably because Mowgli hasn't broken the jungle law).
Shere Khan is not seen again until the second half of the movie. By this time, Mowgli has fallen in love with his childhood friend Katherine "Kitty" Brydon and made an enemy in Captain Boone, who has his henchmen kidnap Kitty and her father to force Mowgli to take them to a treasure. Like before, Khan roars to announce his return, though why he started stalking the group is not revealed (it was possible to avenge Baloo's earlier shooting by Boone). Boone plans to kill Shere Khan for his skin, though Buldeo tries to convince him otherwise. Two of Boone's henchmen die before Khan catches up to the group, where he scares the villains into splitting up. Once separated, Shere Khan kills Lt. John Wilkins, a henchman of Captain Boone, while Buldeo is buried alive while trying to shoot Mowgli.
After the climactic battle between Mowgli and Boone (ending with Boone being killed by Kaa), Khan and Mowgli meet face to face for the first time. Khan is obviously distrusting of Mowgli (and all humans in general) and attempts to scare him away by roaring in his face, but Mowgli stubbornly roars back and stares Khan down. Seeing Mowgli's courage, Khan develops a newfound respect for him, and begins to see him as a fellow "creature of the jungle". Because of this and the fact that neither broke the jungle law, Shere Khan spares Mowgli and allows him and Kitty to leave peacefully.
Shere Khan is first seen attending the jungle meeting called by Hathi. He then contemplates on who he is going to eat, with his sidekick, Tabaqui, the hyena, telling jokes about it, much to the tiger's annoyance. He then decides to hunt man, claiming to have a craving for "Indian food". He and Tabaqui then ambush some humans visiting the river, but when he is shot at by hunters, he flees and is assumed dead. Years later, he reveals himself alive to the wolf pack and demands that Mowgli is given to him, but Akela refuses, and Shere Khan swears revenge. He is later seen conspiring with the wolf pack bullies about separating Mowgli from the pack, which succeeds. He and Tabaqui then conspire with the chimps about separating Mowgli from Bagheera and Baloo.
Shere Khan appears in the 2016 live-action film adaptation, voiced by Idris Elba. He is also the main antagonist, in that adaption. In this incarnation, Shere Khan sports burn scars and a blind eye on the left side of his face sustained from a fight with Mowgli's father. Idris Elba described this incarnation of Shere Khan as "a creature that reigns with fear" and that he "terrorizes everyone he encounters because he comes from a place of fear".
Shere Khan first appears during the drought, when the animals gather to drink at the Water Truce; the watering hole at which all animals drink without attacking each other. When Shere Khan smells Mowgli, he is confronted by the Seeonee wolf pack led by Akela, who states that Mowgli belongs to their pack. Shere Khan mockingly scoffs at this and wonders when man was allowed to be adopted into the jungle. When Akela defends Mowgli, Shere Khan shows the scarred side of his face to remind the animals at the Water Truce of what a grown man is capable of. He then says that the law of the jungle states that man is forbidden. Raksha, however, retorts that Shere Khan also commits deeds forbidden in the jungle, stating that he hunts for pleasure and kills for power, and firmly states that Mowgli is her cub. Shere Khan, respecting the sanctity of the Water Truce, gives them until the monsoon season to hand Mowgli over before leaving. This causes Akela and his wolf pack to debate whether to have Mowgli leave the jungle or not, resulting Mowgli to leave the wolf pack with Bagheera to head over to a near-by Man-village.
Shere Khan next appears when Bagheera is escorting Mowgli to the Man-village. He stalks them through a herd of Buffalo and attacks Mowgli, only to be attacked by Bagheera. They fight viciously, but Shere Khan easily overpowers and injures Bagheera. He then chases after Mowgli through the stampeding buffalo, but Mowgli outruns him, escaping with the herd, much to Shere Khan's fury.
Shere Khan returns to the Seeonee pack and discusses Mowgli with Akela, who states that Mowgli has left the jungle, meaning that the pack and the tiger no longer have a quarrel. However, a furious Shere Khan kills Akela by throwing him off a cliff before instating himself as the pack's alpha. He then tells the wolves to spread the word of Akela's death, hoping it will lure Mowgli to him.
During her encounter with Mowgli, Kaa reveals that Mowgli and his father were traveling from one village to another when Shere Khan encountered them. Shere Khan killed Mowgli's father but ran away after being burned by his torch, leaving Mowgli to be adopted by Bagheera and the wolf pack.
While reigning as the pack's leader, Shere Khan tells stories to the wolf pups about the other creatures of the jungle (in particular, the cuckoo, which preys upon the love of the other mother birds in order to deposit its own egg into their nest, starving them while benefiting its own chick). He directs his story at Raksha, citing her love for Mowgli as a sign of weakness. When Raksha asked why Shere Khan is doing this, he states that he wants Mowgli dead and that he'll be waiting when Mowgli returns. When King Louie informs Mowgli of Akela's death, he returns with a torch stolen from the Man-village and accidentally starts a forest fire.
Mowgli faces Shere Khan at the Water Truce, where the tiger shows the boy has become a man in his use of fire, and that all the other animals now fear him because of it. Mowgli then throws the fire away, allowing Shere Khan to attack him, only to be confronted by Baloo, Bagheera, and Raksha and her pack, who cite their code as they defy him. Shere Khan attacks regardless, saying he will have them all in his teeth, and fights Baloo, the wolves, and Bagheera, who give Mowgli enough time to run to the burning jungle. Shere Khan pursues him to an old strangler fig tree, and chases him into it, not knowing he has been lured into a trap. As he faces Mowgli, he mocks the boy, saying that he never would allow him to grow old and that he will kill him as he killed Mowgli's father and Akela, mockingly asking how much longer the man-cub thought he would last against him than they did. Mowgli replies that he is not afraid of Shere Khan and is done running from the tiger, goading him into pouncing before swinging away to safety. However, the branch Mowgli was standing on is too weak to hold Shere Khan's weight and the tiger plummets to his apparent death in a fiery pit below the tree.
Shere Khan is among the villains imprisoned on the Isle of the Lost. Apparently, he had a soft spot for Evie when she was younger, since every time she giggles he smiles.
Shere Khan is featured as a boss in the game, battling Donald Duck.
Shere Khan also appears in The Jungle Book: Rhythm N'Groove PlayStation 2 game. As the game follows the storyline of the original film, Shere Khan's goal is the same as the film. However, Khan appears much earlier in the game. In addition, during the climax of the game, Shere Khan performs "Run".
A Shere Khan costume is available to buy on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 for the Jungle Book costume pack including the world and characters based on the film.
At Disney's Animal Kingdom, Shere Khan played the role as the main antagonist in Journey into the Jungle Book and preys upon Mowgli trying to do away with him as he did in the film.
During the 2015 Halloween celebration, Shere Khan's likeness was featured alongside other Disney villains at the parks.
In France, Shere Khan can be seen poking his head out of the tree in the parade's jungle-themed float for Disney's Once Upon a Dream Parade.
In Hong Kong Disneyland's Flights of Fantasy Parade, Shere Khan makes an appearance at the very top of the jungle float.
Differences from the original character
- In the original stories, he is nicknamed "The Lame One" and has a crippled leg, but in the films, he has no lameness.
- The only animal who looks up to him in the stories is Tabaqui, but no one does in the films.
- He believes himself to be the rightful lord of the jungle in the stories, but in the film, he is called "Lord of the Jungle" by the vultures and does not see himself as the Lord of the Jungle.
- Although Shere Khan was killed off at the end of the book, he was not killed off at the end of the original film. Instead, he was humiliated and escaped alive in the original film. However, in the 2016 remake, Shere Khan is killed off like in the book.
- The word Shere (or "shir") translates as "tiger" or "lion" in Persian, Hindi, and Punjabi. While Khan translates as "sovereign", "king" or "military leader" and so forth in a number of languages influenced by the Mongols, including Pashto. In other words, Khan's name is "Tiger King".
- The Hebrew dub of both the 1967 film and it's sequel incorrectly identifies Shere Khan as a leopard.
- Shere Khan seems to be the only character (besides Kaa himself) who is immune to Kaa's hypnosis, as when Kaa attempted to do so with Shere Khan in the first film like he had with Mowgli and Bagheera, Khan simply ignored him.
- In the second film, it is revealed that Shere Khan now knows Mowgli's name. It is unknown how he learned this, although it could be that he heard Baloo mention Mowgli's name in the final battle scene in the first film.
- In the original book by Rudyard Kipling, Shere Khan had a crippled leg and was killed by a buffalo stampede organized by Mowgli and his wolf brothers. A similar buffalo stampede appears in the 2016 film.
- Compared to his 1967 incarnation, the 2016 version of Shere Khan is far less susceptible to pyrophobia (the fear of fire), as he pursued Mowgli willingly through a burning blaze.
- In some versions, the tiger's name is spelled "Shere Kahn".
- Originally, Shere Khan was actually going to die when Mowgli shoots him in the head with a shotgun belonging to the hunter, Buldeo, who Khan had just killed. It was cut when Disney figured it would be too scary. Shere Khan does die in the 2016 film, however.
- According to songwriter Richard M. Sherman, Bill Lee of The Mellomen sings Shere Khan's part in "That's What Friends are For", due to George Sanders not being available. According to the liner notes in The Jungle Book soundtrack, fellow Mellomen member Thurl Ravenscroft provides the singing for Shere Khan, not Bill Lee.
- Candy Candido supplies Shere Khan's roaring in The Jungle Book, and Frank Welker does in the sequel.
- Shere Khan is a Bengal tiger and they have been known to prey on bears, so it actually makes sense for Baloo to be one of his enemies.
- It also makes sense for Bagheera to be Shere Khan's enemy, as real tigers and leopards are natural enemies and competitors. They will also kill each other's cubs and steal food from one another when they have an opportunity.
- Animator Mit Kahl used the films Jungle Cat and A Tiger Walks as references for the way Shere Khan walks.
- Shere Khan's defined chin is actually based on George Sanders' own.
- Shere Khan's animation was used as a reference for characters from The Lion King, particularly Andreas Deja's work for Scar.
- Contrary to popular belief, Shere Khan does not have Kaa as his henchman, as the snake does none of the tiger's evil bidding, and the two dislike each other.
- Shere Khan was cited to be the inspiration of Richard Waugh's voice for Albert Wesker in the Resident Evil series.
- In the planned third installment of the Jungle Book franchise, Shere Khan was to have escaped from the statue at the beginning of the movie, and end up captured alongside Baloo and forced into a circus environment. During this time, Shere Khan will also end up regretting his actions from the previous two films and intend to reform as Mowgli and the other animals attempt to rescue them. However, due to the Jungle Book 2's poor sales, it was scrapped. Had that film came to fruition, he would also have been one of the few Disney Villains to be reformed.
- Though Bagheera, Colonel Hathi, and the Jungle Patrol are Shere Khan's enemies and knew him their whole lives, they never interact with each other in either of the films. Bagheera and Shere Khan do have scenes together in the 2016 film.
- His survival after being trapped in the sequel is questionable, as he would not be able to find any food, and is trapped near a lava pit. He could also have escaped from the stone mouth and tried to climb the wall.
- In the 2016 film, vultures follow Shere Khan as opposed to the vultures of the 1967 film being afraid of him. They also seem to indicate his presence, as all the animals look for Shere Khan when they hear the cries of vultures.
- In the original Rudyard Kipling stories, Shere Khan began influencing the younger wolves against Akela and Mowgli as a way to try to turn the wolves against the man-cub to cast him out and into his clutches. In the 2016 film, he does a similar tactic with the wolf pups as a way of punishing Raksha for raising Mowgli as her own son.
- In The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story, Shere Khan attacks and kills Raksha but it was never shown onscreen while in the 2016 version, Shere Khan attacks and kills Akela onscreen and throws him off the cliff.