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Villain Overview
You can not be leader forever. The day you miss your kill, the man-cub's blood will run down my chin!
~ Shere Khan vowing to Akela that he will kill Mowgli.
I will taste your blood, man-cub!
~ Shere Khan threatens Mowgli.

Shere Khan is the main antagonist of the 2018 Netflix live action adventure drama film Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. He is a ruthless Bengal tiger with a crippled front leg and the murderer of Mowgli's parents, whom he is obsessed in killing.

He was voiced and motion-captured by Benedict Cumberbatch, who also played Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek: Into Darkness, Smaug and Sauron in The Hobbit trilogy, Dormammu in Doctor Strange, and The Grinch in the 2018 film of the same name.

Biography

Killing Mowgli's Parents

Shere Khan is first seen breaking jungle-law by hunting down and killing men for sport after they trespassed in the jungle, during which he killed Mowgli's parents and left him as an orphan. He then showed up at the wolves' council meeting after his hyena assistant Tabaqui told him about Mowgli. Shere Khan bragged to them that he killed the man-cub's parents and that his blood was his right. Akela and the wolf pack refused to hand Mowgli over to him, as did Bagheera and Baloo. Akela told Shere Khan that Mowgli was under protection of the pack while he was leader and that their part of the jungle was closed off to him. Shere Khan warned Akela that once he does miss his kill, he would no longer be leader of the pack and that he would come for Mowgli. Shortly after that, he then left with Tabaqui.

Hunting Mowgli

After many years, Khan returns to the jungle and knows Akela is getting weaker and more fragile in his old age. Intending on turning the pack on Akela, he starts taking man's cattle, slaughtering them and leaving them to be found. One day, Mowgli, who has been raised by the wolf pack, went swimming alone and went underwater, saw Shere Khan taking a drink after another kill. After seeing air bubbles, Khan rightfully suspects that Mowgli was in the water. After Mowgli comes out and runs, Khan chased after him. He ultimately fails to kill the man-cub when his attempted victim fell into a pit and was saved by Hathi, a benevolent Indian elephant missing a tusk. As Bagheera picks him up and takes off, Khan is seen watching them.

Later on, when Mowgli failed the wolf pack's final trial that would determine if he could become a full member of the pack thanks to the actions of an unrestrained Bagheera, he was kidnapped by the Bandar Log, a gang of Hanuman langurs, on Tabaqui's orders for Shere Khan while Baloo and Bagheera fought over the issue. Shere Khan attempted to kill Mowgli while he is unconscious, slicing his arm with a claw on his crippled paw, but was stopped by Baloo and Bagheera. During their battle with Shere Khan's monkey minions, they were overwhelmed, only for Kaa herself to appear and save Mowgli.

After Mowgli learned that Kaa has been watching him the whole time and that she believes that he has the power to change the jungle, he was then directed by the python to face Shere Khan, who was again challenging Akela for Mowgli. Mowgli stopped the tiger and Akela's challengers with fire taken from the man-village, but shamed himself in Akela's eyes and was forced to leave for the man-village.

Final Fight and Death

With Mowgli gone, Shere Khan was free to drive the wolves loyal to Akela to the edge of the jungle. Mowgli met with Baloo, Bagheera and the wolf pack, declaring that Shere Khan must die. The animals felt obligated to remain out of the conflict as it would break jungle law to fight Shere Khan, but Mowgli proceeded with his plan and lured the killer of his parents to the edge of the village, where, with the help of the bull elephants, he severely wounded his nemesis with a knife while Tabaqui fled. However, a British colonial hunter named John Lockwood accidentally injured Mowgli with a bullet while trying to kill the tiger and shot Akela when the wolf sacrificed himself to save Mowgli from Shere Khan. Lockwood was stopped and injured by Hathi, a moss covered elephant (whom he robbed of his right tusk) before he could do more harm and the other animals rallied to Mowgli upon seeing his resolve. Wounded, exhausted and outnumbered, Shere Khan retreated into the jungle.

Akela gave Mowgli his blessing to lead the jungle's creatures and the wolf pack before he died peacefully. Mowgli decided to leave the village behind and returned to the jungle, where he found a tired Shere Khan lying on the ground, seemingly dying from his wounds. Shere Khan tried to lure Mowgli in by playing dead, but Mowgli failed to let his guard down and stabbed Shere Khan with his knife as he lashed out at him, finally killing the tiger, ending his reign of terror forever and avenging the deaths of Mowgli's parents.

Personality

Shere Khan is known throughout the entire jungle as a tiger without mercy as well as being ruthless, sadistic, psychopathic, arrogant, hateful, power-hungry and hypocritical, who mainly kills for his own pleasure instead of survival. His most defining personality trait is his unbounded hatred towards mankind, possibly due to a previous encounter with them, and was willing to break the law of the jungle to satisfy his thirst for their blood. He always makes grand gestures about the ever-changing nature of the jungle, ranting to Akela how he allowed man to live among the inhabitants, but was also incapable to think that perhaps he was also one of the reasons that he are cruel towards their environment.

He becomes obsessed with Mowgli, the only human to survive his wrath after killing his parents and goes to great lengths to achieve his one mission to kill him whatever it takes. During their final fight, he would openly mock him for using a man's weapon to kill, asking what Bagheera and Baloo would think of them now; and as he attempted to kill during this, he mocked him about how he killed the boy's mother. In his final moments, he showed no signs of being sympathized with as his final attempt to kill Mowgli led him to his death.

Quotes

His parents are dead. I killed them. There is no one to come looking for him.
~ Shere Khan confronting the wolf pack in his attempt to kill Mowgli.
The cub is mine. I have already tasted its mother's blood. It is my right.
~ Shere Khan bragging to the wolves that Mowgli's blood is his right.
Careful, Akela. You do not want to challenge me.
~ Shere Khan warning Akela not to challenge his strength.
My, my, how you've grown. And how much chaos you've brought upon the pack. So much more... to come. Just a little taste...
~ Shere Khan attempting to kill Mowgli after capturing him.
But you permitted man to live among you! You pretend that he is a wolf! But we both know that is the one thing he will never be! He will always be a man! You poisoned the jungle! But you are no longer leader now, are you? You missed your kill. And by your law, your pack must challenge you.
~ Shere Khan overthrowing Akela.
Look at you, using a man's tool to do your killing. What would Baloo and Bagheera think?
~ Shere Khan mocking Mowgli during their final confrontation.
You know, I can still hear... your mother's screams... the night I took... her life!
~ Shere Khan's last words during his final fight as he taunts Mowgli about killing his mother.

Trivia

  • Like Shere Khan in Mowgli's Story, he's the master of Tabaqui, who was a golden jackal instead of a hyena.
  • Like Shere Khan in The Jungle Book, he is portrayed as being crippled with a deformed leg.
  • Despite having one lame leg, it doesn’t hinder Shere Khan’s fighting skills. Shere Khan is still shown to be fast and agile, being able to run with hardly any difficulty and at one point being able to climb a tree. According to Bagheera, Shere Khan would have been able to kill Mowgli and "tear the pack apart".

Navigation

            JungleBookTitleVillains

Books
Shere Khan | Tabaqui | Bandar Log | Nag | Nagaina | Dholes

Movies
The Jungle Book 1 & 2: Shere Khan | Kaa | Bandar Log (King Louie)
The Jungle Book (1994): William Boone | Buldeo | John Wilkins | Tabaqui | Sergeant Harley | Bandits | Sergeant Claibourne | Shere Khan | Bandar Log (King Louie & Kaa)
The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli & Baloo: Buldeo
The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story: Shere Khan | Tabaqui | Bandar Log
The Jungle Book (2016): Shere Khan | Bandar Log (King Louie) | Kaa
Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle: Shere Khan | Tabaqui | Bandar Log

Television
Jungle Book Shonen Mowgli: Shere Khan | Tabaqui | Dholes | Grizzle | Alba | Dusty & Jocko
TaleSpin: Air Pirates (Don Karnage & Mad Dog) | Shere Khan | Professor Torque | Douglas Benson | Sheriff Cleghorn & Deputy Wendell | Thaddeus E. Klang
Jungle Cubs: Cain | Mahra | Arthur & Cecil | Dholes

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