February 13, 2006

a tiger does not change its stripes

Posted in Idioms at 10:18 am by Feng

a tiger does not change its stripes — a person doesn’t change his nature

In “lost”, Sawyer is a character who makes a living by conning people. For one time, Loche locke trusted him and told Sawyer his plan of moving guns. But Sawyer played him by stealing all the guns, so that he became the chief-in-command. When he was confronted by Kate on why he did this, he said, “A tiger doesn’t change its strips stripes“.



  1. Feng said,

    Actually the full sentence that Sawer said is this: “You run, I come. A tiger doesn’t change its strips.” I don’t quite get the first half of the sentence. It seems like a proverb, but I couldn’t find a reference to it. Or did I just hear it wrongly?

    • doobie said,

      Uh. It’s con. You run, I con. Kate was on the run, and Sawyer was a con man.

  2. Pavlos said,

    Same in meaning as the “tiger” saying, is “a wolf doesn’t shed its skin”. But then again, that’s a Greek saying.

  3. kevin said,


  4. There is a very similar, but more common expression that conveys the same thought: “A leopard doesn’t change its spots.”

  5. wardchoir said,

    Also, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”

  6. Toni said,

    Actually, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is a little different because it has more to do with the inability to learn a new skill. For example, my grandpa has a lot of trouble learning how to use the DVD player because he gets confused with all the menu choices and buttons on the remote.

    “A tiger doesn’t change its stripes” focuses more on the person’s personality and nature, as in your Lost example.

  7. Bob said,

    Something else… The character’s name is “Locke” with a “k” — John on “Lost” is apparently named after the 17th-18th century Oxford philosopher who wrote “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding” and many other things.

  8. Laura said,

    actually, Sawyer said: you run, i CON

  9. Feng said,

    Brilliant! I love this line. Thank you.

  10. sebb said,


    your blog looks nice, I’m actually learning english, (take my MSN address if you want, then we can improve our language better if you have contacts in your same position.

    “Tiger does not change its stripes” ; it’s right, the real proverb is “A tiger can’t change its stripes” you can have every animals you want lol

    e.g: “a leopard can’t change its spots”

    see you later homy.

    Supajox, France.

  11. M. Barış Övün said,

    Dear Feng,

    What Sawyer actually said was ‘ You run, I con’ referring to what Kate used to before ending up in the island. They are both tigers with their ususal stripes…

  12. Brian said,

    what sawyer said was…when you run i con, and when u con, i run…i’m not going to tell u why, because a magician never tell his secrets, and lions never change there stripes

    • Anne said,

      Lion got no stripes. Been to a zoo lately?

  13. Maro said,

    Habit is an iron shirt.

  14. El Tejon said,

    It came form the bible, Jeremiah 13:23 .

    Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

    It’s a play on that phrase, as is a dog can’t learn new tricks, etc.

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