Top 10 – Elephants
Bah, we’ve been doing these Top 10’s for years – For peanuts. Nevermind, if it can make these giant gentle beasties happy, then I’m sure these peanuts must be delicious. Don’t take this out of context, because today we’re going to be celebrating the huge, floppy-eared creatures with their trunks and tusks. So buckle up, we’re in for a rampage through our Top 10 Elephants.
Please note, Mammoths count, they’re in the same family. We never said “Elephants” had to be limited to Elephants, but their whole family definitely should be on the list.
10) Elephant Man – Teen Titans
Let’s start off with a bit of a quandry, because I can’t tell you how little I know about Elephant Man. However, with how strange he is, I thought we had to include him in the list and lo and behold, he’s here. What I do know about him though, is that he’s basically a literal elephant who happens to stand and walk upright. That doesn’t really tell us much, but here’s a few more facts.
One of the Teen Titans villains, Elephant Man is part of the Brotherhood of Evil. Honestly, you don’t get any more evil than that. Other than him being evil, we know that’s he’s really strong and that’s apparent because he’s an elephant. He also joined the Brotherhood of Evil along side Goldilocks. Yeah, you know, a character inspired by Goldilocks and The Three Bears… Comics are so strange.
9) Loxodon – Magic: the Gathering
‘Ware thee who’d cross the Razorfields of New Phyrexia, who would tangle with the Selesnya druids on Ravnica, who who wander the crags of the Temur highlands on Tarkir, for you dare run afoul of loxodons…
Too dramatic? Well the elephant folk of Magic’s many worlds are an impressive breed, and rapidly gaining in popularity since they spread to D&D. Huge, placid folk who nevertheless carry enormous hammers or tree-trunk clubs. They typically tap into white mana with a tip into green, reflective of their urge to seek harmony, and balance, while still able to bring the full force of their gigantic forms to bear when that harmony is threatened.
8) Mammoths – Skyrim
Ok, so the mammoths wandering the tundra of Skyrim, herded by their giant caretakers may not have a great deal of personality compared to some of the other entries on this list, they just kind of move around, sometimes with friends. But it’s the relationship between the woolly charges and their giants that sets them apart from any other creature in the world of Skyrim, they immediately becoming enraged whenever their giant is injured, carved with the marks of possession along their great sweeping tusks, and of course, the famous mourning giant.
Wandering the salt flats of Eastmarch the curious Dragonborn will find a giant standing, never acting aggressive, no matter how close the Dragonborn gets, staring morosely down at a mammoth lying on its side in the volcanically heated water. His face is a picture of sorrow, not an extreme distortion of weeping grief, but downcast, crushed, and it’s subtle enough in a game that does a very good job of portraying emotions that the tableau is a poignant moment that makes you feel really… really bad for killing him too.
7) Crystal Beast Amber Mammoth – YuGiOh (4Kids Version)
When I thought about this list, this one kept coming up in my mind. I had to sneak him into the honourables, or number 10. As a YuGiOh! card, it’s pretty standard affair: 1700 attack, 1600 defense, so it’s not exactly a weak card. The effect looks for other Crystal Beasts that are under attack and this mammoth attacks instead. Nothing immensely incredible, but it packs a punch.
However, we’re specifically giving the entry to the 4Kids version of this creature. In the YuGiOh anime, the 4Kids version is an imitation of Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’ve actually gone out of my way, to find this exact episode and find exactly this moment – and yes, it’s not an exaggeration, this is how it is in the 4Kids edit of YuGiOh. Excellent, we need more monsters like this.
6) Manfred the Mammoth – Ice Age
Basically Ray Romano animated. No, that’s not fair, Ray isn’t that hairy.
The long suffering loner mammoth, who resents the notion of company, let alone a herd, is lumped together with a dimwitted and irritating sloth and a mancub, and some weird parental instinct is dragged from him by the torturous circumstances. Eventually he comes to terms with his circumstances, which – over several movies – includes a few new mammoths, some ferrets, and the sabertooth tiger and sloth he starts out with.
Manny is sarcastic, sardonic, surly, abrasive, the perfect “straight man” counterpart to Sid the Sloth’s “funny man”, and for all these negative attributes he’s an incredibly believable hero there’s a deep affection for life, a morality, and of course a back story that justifies his terse attitude. The CGI on Ice Age looks incredibly dated these days, but the characters have made it to four sequels, a real testament to how likeable they are.
5) Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant – Adventure Time
A divine entity from a time ages past, a god, a weapon, a flying two-headed elephant with shotgun tusks, visors over each pair of eyes, and shoots lasers from everything. He’s basically every ridiculous thing you could imagine from a child’s drawing of their perfect pet, in other words he’s a pretty average Adventure Time character, and like every Adventure Time character he has a history that is eluded to but never revealed.
How does the Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant know the ancient treebeast Darren, and in what strange era did they rule, and slumber? Why is he so obedient to his masters that he will lie and wait in a pile of treasure while he is ignored and forgotten about until his powers are needed? And what exactly became of him after the grand conclusion of the series? Eli is a prime example of subtlety in world building… even when he’s easily the least subtle design in the whole show.
4) Phanpy – Pokémon
If any of you dare say there are better elephant Pokémon out there, I swear to — Oh… Wait… Helloooo there! Please excuse my little outburst.
Yes, Phanpy had to make this list. It’s cute, it’s small, it’s everything you’d ever want from an elephant Pokémon. Whether or not it’s the best elephant in Pokémon, I mean, eh, Donphan is fantastic, but the baby form Phanpy had to win. I mean, look at how happy it is! Look at how small and round it is. Everything you’d ever want from a little baby elephant is in this bundle of joy.
So for real though, the Phanpy/Donphan tree is really cool. Not the best stats wise, but definitely has an iconic look about it. Whether you’re into competitive Pokémon battling or not, there’s always a place for Donphan with its ability, Rapid Spin. This removes weather effects like hail, so genuinely a useful Pokémon all round.
And Phanpy is just too cute, so there.
A Disney classic, Dumbo is one of those cartoons that I grew up absolutely in love with. It tells a rather serious story, whilst hiding behind a genuinely adorable artstyle. Yes, even when Dumbo gets drunk, it’s still adorable damn it. But I digress, what made us put Dumbo all the way up to the third place on this list?
First of all, I think if anyone thinks of pop culture elephants, Dumbo has to come into the conversation. One of a lot of kids first impressions of cartoons (especially of Disney cartoons), as the film was released in 1941. The seriousness of some of the discussed issues, along with the rather cute-sometimes and trippy-at-other-times artstyle, it left a lasting impression on kids for generations to come.
Also, we all remember the pink elephants on parade (in the video above).
2) Mûmakil – Lord of the Rings
Them nasty Hobbitses calls these massive beasts “Oliphants”, but their real name is the Mûmakil. These gargantuans have four tusks, with two tusks behind a larger front set. Larger than a real elephant by approximately eight times, these hulking beasts were the reason the armies of Mordor did so well – Able to erect massive war towers off the back of these beasts, giving them a huge vantage point.
The Mûmakil are the physical embodiment of unbridled power. They’re mastodons in the truest sense of the word, truly terrifying in their presence. This doesn’t seem to detract the Hobbits from calling them something so belittling and demeaning; Oliphants. Honestly, what a silly name. The Mûmakil are serious threats to those who would oppose the will of Sauron. The warriors of Harad brought the Mûmakil to play – And to kill anyone who gets in their way.
1) Tubul, Jerakeen, Berilia, Great T’Phon – Discworld
Proof that it’s not turtles all the way down, there are at least elephants somewhere in the process. Bigger by far than any elephant on our list, with moon-sized eyes, trunks that could span continents, and strong enough to bear the weight of a world on their shoulders. These are the four elephants upon whom the disc rests, and who in turn stand on the back of the world turtle, Great A’Tuin.
It is theorised that they have bones of stone and iron, and nerves of gold for great conductivity across long distances, but they are most certainly flesh and blood too, as testified by the deep fat mines in Uberwald where – as legend and fatty deposits suggest – the fifth elephant crashed into the disc following mysterious circumstances in which he or she fell off. While they rarely feature as part of a story, or particularly interact with the narrative outside of a couple of books, they’re an integral and immediately recognisable part of the Discworld mythology.
You know what’s great about writing these Top 10’s? Even as we get older, we never forget our childhoods, much like an elephant never forgets. Growing up, elephants were both amazing and terrifying… So here are two entries that’ll make you reminisce about your childhood.
Babar vs Elmer the Patchwork Elephant vs Nellie the Elephant
Mini quickfire round, and no vote on this one as these are honourable mentions, each as deserving as the other:
Babar – Nominated king of the elephants for his learnings in the “city”, Babar does what any good king does and marries his cousin! Yeah, let’s not forget that Celeste and Babar are closely related. Nevertheless, the lessons they teach their incestuous offspring are valuable lessons for any child. He borders on war with the neighbouring kingdom of Rhinoceri, but manages to prevent it by painting monster faces on the backsides of his subjects. A real role model.
Elmer – Here’s a lesson in accepting the colour you’re born to, especially if you’re already loved and appreciated the way you are. Elmer was born every colour except the colour an elephant ought to be, and goes out of his way to blend in so that he can see how the rest of the herd treat him when he looks just like everyone else. In the end it proves to be part of one of his better pranks, so good it becomes a national holiday… which is a normal thing for anyone to do.
Nellie – One of the first people to break the cliche of running away to join the circus, by deciding to leave the circus, probably because of all the animal rights violations. We could debate how she managed to pack her trunk, but probably better not to. She’s likely to be Indian, as we know she escaped the circus in Bombay, and met with the head of her old herd in Mandalay. She’s also described as intelligent, but a smart elephant wouldn’t trumpety trump after slipping her chains.
Heffalumps – Winnie the Pooh
Truly a psychedelic experience, the Heffalumps of Winnie the Pooh are effectively vivid figments of Pooh and Piglet’s imaginations. Over the years, the idea of what a Heffalump is became more and more solid, but initially they were intended to be these elephants that would occur in dreams and never be seen by either character. Indeed, they were an enigma – but as time went on, it became apparent that they wanted to do more with Heffalumps.
Whilst typically the Heffalumps are just to do with Pooh’s imagination, they are often presented as bad guys. They’re usually associated with Woozles, making them serious threats to Pooh and co. In only a few episodes or films are Heffalumps ever really encountered and usually, the cast can put their differences aside to befriend a good Heffalump.
They say that an elephant never forgets, much like how we won’t forget the entrants in this list. So whether you’re as vicious as a Mûmakil, or if you’re as friendly as Babar, there’s an elephant for you. Even if you’re one of the four supporting elephants of a whole world, elephants are fantastic – But that’s enough about that. Help us choose next week’s Top 10 list by voting in the poll below!
Now we’re going to march on through the closing statements for this list. Did you find we included the right elephants, or did we forget some important ones? Did we get the order completely wrong, or were we bang on the money? As ever, share your thoughts with us in the comments below, or on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll see you all again next week for another Top 10!