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NOTE: This article is about the incarnation of Shere Khan from the 2016 movie. The mainstream version can be found here: Shere Khan (Disney).
Villain Overview
Shere Khan: Does my face not remind you of what a GROWN Man can do? Shift your hunting grounds for a few years, and everyone forgets how the law works. Well, let me remind you: a Man-cub becomes Man, and Man is FORBIDDEN!!!
Raksha: What do you know about law? Hunting for pleasure. Killing for power. You've never known law. The cub is mine! Mine to me. So, go back to where you came from, you burned beast!
~ Shere Khan showing his scars and expressing his hatred for mankind, before Raksha stands up to him by revealing the true personality of the evil tiger.

Shere Khan is the main antagonist of the 2016 live action Disney film, The Jungle Book, a remake of the 1967 animated classic.

He is a notorious, fearsome, and scarred Bengal tiger who serves as the ruler of the jungle and is hell-bent on killing the man-cub, Mowgli because of his hatred towards mankind. He also appears as Mowgli's arch-nemesis.

He was voiced by Idris Elba, who previously portrayed Colin Evans in No Good DeedRussell "Stringer" Bell in the HBO series The Wire, Roque in The Losers, Krall in Star Trek: Beyond, and Brixton Lore in Hobbs & Shaw.

Biography

Shere Khan first appears during the drought, when the animals gather to drink during the Water Truce from a watering hole where the animals maintain a truce not to attack each other while quenching their thirst. Upon scenting Mowgli, he threatens to kill him as the man is not allowed to live in the jungle. He also holds the scars on his face as proof of the man's cruel and destructive nature and issues a warning that when the Water Truce ends and the Peace Rock disappears, he will come for the boy and that the wolves should decide how many of their own kind they would be willing to sacrifice to protect a man-cub. He then leaves.

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. But Shere Khan ambushes them en route and fights Bagheera. He severely injures Bagheera and chases Mowgli, who manages to escape from him with the aid of a herd of buffalo. Shere Khan returns to confront Akela's pack and demand Mowgli be turned over to him, killing Akela by throwing him off a cliff when he learns Mowgli is on his way to the Man-village. He then assumes control of the wolf pack, deducing that Mowgli will return when he learns the news.

During Kaa's attempt to hypnotize and devour Mowgli, she reveals that Shere Khan himself is responsible for Mowgli being found by Bagheera, as he killed Mowgli's father (an event that left him with his facial scars and undying hatred for humans).

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, Mowgli returns to face Shere Khan at the Water Truce with a burning torch stolen from the Man-village. But when he sees how all the animals of the jungle cower in fear at the sight of the fire he holds, he throws away his torch into the water, allowing Shere Khan to attack him. But Baloo, Bagheera and the Wolf pack joins Mowgli in the fight. Despite their numbers and strength, Baloo, Bagheera, and the wolf pack are overpowered by Shere Khan, who then chases Mowgli in the Wood as the jungle is being engulfed in flames thanks to the torch. Mowgli cunningly lures Shere Khan onto a dead fig tree and eventually defeats him by a branch of a dead fig tree which breaks under the tiger's weight, causing him to fall into a pit of fire to his apparent death. The elephants later put out the wildfire by using an irrigation system, putting an end to Shere Khan's tyranny once and for all.

Personality

This incarnation of Shere Khan is far more ruthless, manipulative, cold, and monstrous than his original counterpart.

Shere Khan at first sight pretends to rescind the law of the jungle by demanding that Mowgli leave the jungle or kill him himself but that was obviously pure hypocrisy, because when Mowgli wanted to use a burning pelt against the tiger, Shere Khan used this same law for all the animals including the pack to turn against Mowgli, forcing even the Man-cub to abandon the torch. Instead of being impressed, Shere Khan just described with a grim smile Mowgli's gesture of stupidity, showing that Shere Khan does not care about any law and is ready to use the honor of others against themselves. Another example is when Raksha calls him out for hunting for pleasure and killing for power, he simply puts his grim smile instead of trying to defend himself and his point of view.

Despicable and ruthless individual, this tiger is known to hunt only for pleasure, to inspire fear, killing for power and to make anyone who dares to stand up to him suffer. This can be seen when he kills Akela for not doing what he says or trying to turn the cubs against Raksha with a mix of history and manipulation.

He is utterly violent, bloodthirsty, and savage, so he mostly enjoys antagonizing and harassing Mowgli by not only gloating about him being a human but also gloating about his father's death as well as Akela's demise. He is attempting to make Mowgli afraid of him, and he briefly succeeds, but it does prove that the fear of him is what gives him the stage and the power to control the animals in the jungle.

As Mowgli confronted him and said that he is no longer afraid of Shere Khan, he roared on him, most likely because this claim made him angrier as Mowgli is taunting him and his power.

Abilities

Powerful and fierce, Shere Khan is a very strong tiger both physically and mentally. In terms of physical strength, Shere Khan is undoubtedly one of the strongest creatures in the jungle, capable of defeating Baloo in a relatively short time, repelling the pack with a few powerful blows, defeating Bagheera and freeing himself from the wolves' assault successively and without getting tired.

Shere Khan also has a muscular and solid body, capable of absorbing multiple hits and bites without too much damage. One of the things that can seriously hurt Shere Khan is fire.

Like all tigers, Shere Khan has powerful fangs and claws, handy for wounding or killing. He can also climb trees thanks to his claws.

Despite his blind eye, this does not hamper his fighting skills.

Besides his physical abilities, Shere Khan's best weapons is his wicked spirit and his ability to cause fear.

Reception

This portrayal of Shere Khan by Idris Elba is heavily praised.

Cath Clarke of Time Out compared this Shere Khan to Scar from The Lion King, calling him "baddie of the year". Matt Zoller Seitz of rogerebert.com also had high praise for Elba's portrayal of Shere Khan stating: "His loping menace is envisioned so powerfully that he'd be scary no matter what, but the character becomes a great villain through imaginative empathy." "-we understand and appreciate his point-of-view even though carrying it out would mean the death of Mowgli."

Quotes

Everyone comes to peace rock, so many smells to catch up on. But, um... ...I can't help but notice there's this strange odor today. What is it? This scent that I'm on. I almost... almost think it was some kind of... Man Cub.
~ Shere Khan sensing Mowgli at the water hole. Also his first lines.
Akela: Mowgli belongs to my pack, Shere Khan.
Shere Khan: Mowgli? They've given him a name. When was it you came to adopt man into the jungle?
Akela: He's just a cub.
~ Shere Khan mocking the wolf pack about Mowgli.
Though, I'm deeply respectful of these laws to keep us safe. So here's my promise: Nothing lasts forever. The rains will return and the river will rise and when this rock disappears, the truce will end. You want to protect him, fine. But ask yourselves: How many lives is a man-cub worth?
~ Shere Khan threatening the wolf pack that when the truce ends he kill them unless they hand Mowgli over.
Shere Khan: I suppose you know why I've come?
Akela: The man-cub has left the jungle.
Shere Khan: I thought I made myself clear that I wanted him to be handed over to me.
Akela: We no longer harbor him. He's left the pack
Shere Khan: And where may I ask has he gone?
Akela: He's with his own kind now.
Shere Khan: So, the Man Cub has left the jungle.
Akela: That's right. You and I no longer have to quarrel and, most importantly, we have peace.
Shere Khan: Well, I guess it's done, then... ...unless, I can draw him BACK OUT!!!!!
~ Shere Khan learning about Mowgli's departure, moments before killing Akela.
Have I got your attention now?! I didn't want to be this way. I made it so simple. All I asked for was one thing, and you denied me! Well, that ends now! Spread the word: until I have the man-cub, these hills are my hills. You did not respond to reason! So now you will know fear.
~ Shere Khan becoming the new leader of the wolf pack after killing Akela.
But the one you have to watch out for is the cuckoo bird. Do you know how the cuckoo bird survives? By preying on a mother's weakness. The cuckoo bird is too clever to raise it's young instead, it sneaks its eggs into the nests of several birds. So when they hatch, the mother bird is fooled, she feeds them, nurtures them. And do you know what happens to her own chicks? They starve and die from neglect. All because the mother loved the chick that wasn't her own.
~ Shere Khan interrogating the wolf cubs and directing the story at Raksha.
Raksha: Why are you doing this? He's gone. Isn't that what you wanted?
Shere Khan: I want him dead. Once he gets word of what happened here, he'll come back and I'll be waiting.
~ Shere Khan and Raksha discussing Mowgli.
Mowgli: Shere Khan! I'm not afraid of you! No one has to be afraid of you any more!
Shere Khan: No... I think they're afraid of something else now. The man-cub is now a man.
Mowgli: Grey?
Shere Khan: Always a proud day... When they come of age. You can fool them, but you can't fool me. I'm the one who saw your future. I saw what you'd become. Come now, use the red flower. Use it on me like your father did. Show everyone what you really are!
~ Shere Khan uses the animals' fear against Mowgli.
Mowgli: I'M MOWGLI OF THE SEONI AND THIS IS MY HOME!!!
Shere Khan: That was the stupidest thing you could've done. Now you have nothing. No claws, no fur, no teeth... And no friends.
~ Shere Khan taunting Mowgli for choosing to abide by the Law of the Jungle by throwing the flaming torch rather than using it against him.
You fools! Fine! Rise up, all of you! You want to put yourselves between me and the man-cub?! I'll have you ALL IN MY TEETH!!
~ Shere Khan vowing to kill Baloo, Bagheera and the wolf pack for siding up with Mowgli.
It's time we put an end to this.
~ Shere Khan getting ready to finish Bagheera.
Did you think I would let you grow old? Either I'll devour you or the red flower will! It's just a matter of time. How long did you really think you'd survive against me? Longer than your father did? Longer than.... Akela?!
~ Shere Khan's last words as he attempts to kill Mowgli one last time only to fall to his death into the fire pit below.

Trivia

  • Unlike his original incarnation, this version of Shere Khan has little fear of fire, appears at the beginning instead of appearing towards the end, doesn't act like a gentleman to hide his evil nature, has no English accent, is more of a wild beast, has scenes with Bagheera and the wolf pack and has no scenes with Kaa. Plus he is also much stronger as he was able to defeat Baloo, Bagheera and the wolf pack in combat.
  • In the novelization The Strength of the Wolf is the Pack, Shere Khan goes an extra mile in his evil ways once he kills a jackal for begging for scraps of food in return for his information on Mowgli's whereabouts-despite the fact that said information turned out to be useful.
  • It is the second version of Shere Khan to have facial wounds, the first was Shere Khan Shonen who was cut to the left eye by Mowgli.
  • Although he is a Bengal Tiger, his musculature combined with his size and his imposing figure makes him more similar to a Siberian Tiger.

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