What does a Pink Panther tattoo mean? Ink spreads on TikTok

Bruno Cooke November 21, 2022
What does a Pink Panther tattoo mean? Ink spreads on TikTok
Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

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It’s panther season, but while Black Panther is gracing the silver screen, it’s pink panthers that are doing the rounds on TikTok and Facebook – what is the implicit meaning behind a tattoo of one, and what are some good examples?

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever premiered in Hollywood on October 26, 2022. It’s been in cinemas ever since.

But the character – the Black Panther – originated much earlier, in 1966. Just three years earlier, the Pink Panther made his debut.

While the young people of today may have caught wind of the Pink Panther for the first time in 2006, when the first of its reboot movies (with Steve Martin and Kevin Kline) came out, the character is actually from 1963. But its popularity has sustained it.

Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

TikTok takes on the Pink Panther

Discussing and explaining the meanings behind tattoos is a mainstay of TikTok, making the site an obvious first port of call when on the hunt for exemplars of Pink Panther ink.

The interesting thing, however, with getting a tattoo of the Pink Panther, is that it’s not actually a panther. It’s a diamond. The diamond’s nickname is the “Pink Panther” because of a flaw it supposedly contains, which forms the image of a “leaping panther” when the light shines through it in the right way.

And the diamond itself is pinkish in color, making the leaping panther pink

The Pink Panther movies are about the theft of this diamond. Inspector Clouseau, the bumbling detective, may be the franchise’s main protagonist, but his name is secondary. You might compare the way “the Pink Panther” name became synonymous with Inspector Clouseau to the way the name “Frankenstein” stuck to the monster, rather than the monster’s creator. 

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What are some good examples of Pink Panther tattoos?

As TikTok user and tattoo enthusiast Taylor Anderson explains, many of his “ridiculous tattoos” simply represent inside jokes. He has a tattoo of a pink panther. That is, a panther that is pink, rather than a diamond, although he also has a diamond.

“Traditionally, they’re black,” he says, talking about panthers. “But I made this one pink, because of the movie The Pink Panther.” 

Notably, his tattoo is of a panther that is pink, rather than of the character the Pink Panther. As in, it has the anatomical shape of a real panther, and it is pink. Other tattoos containing pink panthers take a different approach.

The iconic cartoon Pink Panther character that shows up in the opening credits of the films in the franchise also makes for a recognisable tattoo – see below.

Find another example here, from very recently. This one is covered in love hearts, and stylised in a way that’s reminiscent of artwork depicting traditional Chinese dragons.

Pink Panther tattoo possible meanings explored

Over on TikTok, the meaning of Taylor Anderson’s pink panther tattoo – to him, at least – is simply a callback to a TV show he enjoyed as a kid.

Note: it looks like a now-deleted video from a basketball player called Caleb Rolle caused a flurry of interest in pink panther tattoos. His video is no longer online.

TattMag’s suggestions for the possible meanings of a Pink Panther tattoo are simply that it represents “your love” of the original character, “all things sneaky” and “all things pink.”

Other descriptors and meanings you associate with pink panther tattoos will likely depend on which version of the character you want to hark back to – English, American, mute, chatty, humorous or hip?

Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Choose your pink panther wisely

The cartoon pink panther is iconic, but also sort of hard to pin down. Maybe this is something you want to explore in your tattoo.

Canadian-American impressionist Rich Little gave the Pink Panther a sophisticated-sounding British accent for two 1965 cartoon shorts, Sink Pink and Pink Ice. But a later incarnation, in 1993, gave him a jollier, more upbeat, American accent. The idea was apparently to appeal to children.

The films, meanwhile, are comedies, with an element of mystery. They feature an inept French detective, but the mind behind him was English comedian Peter Sellers. 

So anyone getting a tattoo of a pink panther – or of the character the Pink Panther (or indeed of a pink diamond with the hint of a panther inside) – will have to contend with all of the above, and decide which direction they want its meaning to go. Is he the smooth-talking, elusive Brit, always one step ahead in his evasion of the bumbling French detective? Or is he simply a panther that is pink? You choose.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.