Created By: Nekojin on July 22, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on January 8, 2016

Monkey King Lite

Characters that are based on The Monkey King, even when the story isn\'t an interpretation of Journey to the West

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Trope
The Monkey Kinglite is a character trope that occurs frequently in anime/manga, and occasionally in other media as well. It is, in essence, a character that is based on Son Wukong from Journey to the West, to a greater or lesser degree. There are many traits that define a Monkey King character, and most don't fit EVERY trait unless the story is expressly based on Journey to the West.

The traits include:
  1. The Monkey King is always, always, always The Hero and The Heart, and almost always The Leader and The Protagonist.
  2. Has a very high metabolism, which is reflected in having a huge appetite without getting fat.
  3. Makes friends everywhere he goes, even to the point of having former enemies admit that he's pretty cool.
  4. Has a motley troupe of characters following him around.
  5. Takes the concept of friendship very seriously, and gets upset when others threaten his friends or treat their own supposed friends poorly.
  6. Tends to be on the naive side, often having an overly simplistic view of things. As a result, he also tends to be very straightforward in his methodology.
  7. May not be the most technically proficient fighter in his group, but the character will more than make up for that by being very creative in combat, making up new tactics on the spot to try to overcome his enemy's strengths.
  8. Makes light of even dangerous situations, until someone pisses him off.
  9. Never gives up a serious fight while he's still conscious.
  10. Sometimes has a staff, frequently telescoping.

Any media that is expressly based on Journey to the West will obviously have a protagonist that fits this trope.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Dragon Ball
  • Saiyuki
  • Monkey D Luffy from One Piece is one of the purest Monkey King characters from a show that isn't a riff on Journey to the West. When his group isn't in a tense situation (and sometimes even when they are), he talks about food, and especially meat. He is fiercely loyal to his nakama (true friends), and gets pissed when he sees others casually abusing their followers, such as Captain Kuro. After being defeated by Luffy in the first episode, "Iron Mace" Alvida becomes infatuated with Luffy, and tracks him to Loguetown. He even has the "telescoping staff" - built in!
  • Naruto fits this trope very closely. He talks about eating ramen frequently (particularly in the first season). He fights much more fiercely when he's fighting to protect his friends and classmates (even when he's fighting against the classmates, such as his frequent fights against Sasuke). All of his classmates are much better ninja than Naruto (Naruto nearly flunked out of Ninja school, even!), but his massive pool of chakra from the Ninetails allows him to pull off much more impressive and powerful moves. There are numerous instances when a major foe deals a blow that they believe would kill anyone, but Naruto not only survives, but keeps fighting.

Comic Books

Literature
  • Captain Carrot of the DiscWorld series - Before character development, he's incredibly naive (he once arrested the head of the Thieves Guild for thieving, and was staying in the attic of a brothel not realizing it was a brothel; he thought they were friendly). Later he's just very simple, though 'simple' doesn't mean 'stupid'. As for his motley troupe, he's second in command of the Ankh Morpork city watch, which has dwarfs, trolls, humans, gnomes, werewolves, and a Nobby Nobbs (whose human, and has a certificate which proves it). He is The Hero and The Heart, though The Leader and The Protagonist roles are both taken by Commander Vimes. As for making friends, he has a nearly magical charisma; he once stopped two angry mobs by calling out every individual by name and shaming them into stopping. No staff, doesn't really make light of dangerous situations. Not a really proficient fighter, simply as direct an honorable there as in other things, though he has a punch that even trolls (large, living stone creatures) have to respect.

Video Games
  • League of Legends has Wukong The Monkey King as a playable character amongst its huge roster. He starts out as a super-intelligent monkey from the Plague Jungles with a drive to be the best at everything, then encounters Master Yi, the last surviving practitioner of Wuju Style martial arts. Yi agrees to show Wukong the human world in exchange for becoming his apprentice and agreeing to pass on what he learns someday. He fights with a variable length staff, can summon a nimbus cloud (and uses it in his idle animations), can create illusionary clones of himself, and turns to stone upon death.

Western Animation
  • Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Aang shows a very carefree spirit, particularly in early seasons of Avatar. He fights with a staff, preferring not to use his bending abilities in combat unless forced to. Several of his former foes (most notably Zuko) end up befriending him.
  • The Soul Series has two particular examples, who take different aspects. Killik is the much more serious hero, who takes a lot more of the loyal parts, not to mention being The Leader to his little group. Xiba on the other hand, is a much more obvious example, being a typical trickster and constantly fixated on food to the point of shouting "FOOD!" as his Death Cry. Both characters are bojutsu practitioners, with their primary weapons (the Kali-Yuga for Kilik; the Three Karmas and, later, the Kali-Yuga for Xiba) being based on Sun Wukong's Ruyi Jingu Bang (both also have extra weapons more closely inspired by the Ruyi Jingu Bang, the Jingu Staff). Kilik is known for his ability to absorb and purify evil energy via the Kali-Yuga (taught to him by his master, Edge Master), which could very well be drawn from the Monkey King's power to detect evil through his huoyan-jinjing ("fiery-eyes golden-gaze"). Kilik is a Warrior Monk who no longer has a real home to go back to and travels the land stamping out evil; one of Sun Wukong's titles was Xingzhe, meaning "ascetic" (as in a wandering monk). Xiba, however, carries more of the Monkey King imagery. Likely an orphan (as well as, according to Japanese sourcebooks, the estranged son of both Kilik and Xianghua), he is said to have been born on the Zhen Hang Mountain, suggesting that he raised himself in the wild; this matches up with accounts of Sun Wukong's early life. Xiba wears a tiger pelt around his waist which gives off the illusion of him having a tail. Several of his moves are named after monkeys and his overall style resembles the staff fighting branch of Monkey Kung Fu (Hou Gun), while his Critical Edge is named Kong's Dance of Qi Tian Da Sheng, Qitian Dasheng ("Great Sage, Equal of Heaven") being another one of Sun Wukong's titles.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Pinkie Pie is a hearty, heroic character. She's bombastic, she's full of humour, she eats like ten, she has high (though not inexhaustible) stamina, she's very friendly, has Ping-Pong Na´vetÚ but is usually just plain naive, she makes friends everywhere, she fights very creatively, she doesn't have a telescoping staff but she uses Hammer Space to great effect, she takes friendship extremely seriously and is loyal to her friends above all else, and anyone hurting her friends is in big trouble.
  • Mr. Bogus is often depicted as a heroic and versatile character, despite the fact that he is actually a gremlin. To elaborate, he is rather clumsy, has a humongous appetite (sometimes gaining a Balloon Belly from his ravenous appetite), will do good deeds most of the time, can stand his ground against any enemy that comes his way, and, like Pinkie Pie, also uses Hammerspace for the current situation that befalls him.


Community Feedback Replies: 61
  • July 22, 2012
    JonnyB
    Son Goku of the Dragonball saga, obviously.
  • July 22, 2012
    MrRuano
    The Soul Series has two particular examples, who take different aspects. Killik is the much more serious hero, who takes a lot more of the loyal parts, not to mention being The Leader to his litte group. Xiba on the other hand, is a much more obvious example, being a typical trickster and constantly fixated on food to the point of shouting "FOOD!" as his Death Cry.
  • July 22, 2012
    captainpat
    Are you sure this character usually isn't the strongest of his team because all the examples so far are characters that are the strongest in their group.

    Also see Zero Context Example, saying a character fits this trope without explain how or why isn't good enough.
  • July 22, 2012
    Nekojin
    ^ It was late last night, I wanted to get the writeup finished. Are those examples sufficient? =^_^=

    As for the "strongest," that depends on how you define it. In Luffy's case, both Chopper (in Arm Point or Monster Point modes) and Frankie are physically stronger, while Sanji and Zoro are both more skillful. That said, I rephrased that bullet point.
  • July 22, 2012
    captainpat
    Alright. Also much better with the examples.
  • July 22, 2012
    KZN02
    Hmm, I wish I could say Infernape from Pokemon, but it doesn't fit the criteria.
  • July 22, 2012
    elwoz
    American Born Chinese is probably worth mentioning here. Half of it is explicitly a retelling of (a small piece of) Journey To The West. The other half doesn't appear to be related. But there's a character who shares a lot of characterization with the first half's version of Sun Wukong...
  • July 22, 2012
    acrobox
    -
  • July 22, 2012
    acrobox
    also you might want to add that bcause of the popularity of Son Goku most Shonen action hero's are one degree of separation away from the Monkey King. Such as Naruto and Luffy.
  • July 24, 2012
    acrobox
    Thinking about it you could make two separate tropes, one for the typical shonen hero based off of Goku from Dragon Ball and one for recurring characters in fiction that based off Monkey King and other Journey to the West Characters.

    Naruto is based off of Goku, but even within the Naruto series you have the Third Hokages Summon Enma who is clearly the Monkey King, as well as the Four Tailed Ape and his host Roshi who are references to both.

    This also allows for people like Infernape and Emboar that don't necessarily have Shonen traits but are explicitly based off of Journey to the West characters
  • July 24, 2012
    DaibhidC
    Would the Teen Titans version of Robin count? I think he's got everything except the metabolism and flippant attitude (Cyborg and Beast Boy cover that).
  • July 25, 2012
    Nekojin
    I don't think that Robin would count, but I'm not as familiar with the animated Teen Titans.

    ^^ I'm not particularly interested in other Monkey King references, just the character trope. I'd be fine with someone else writing up a trope for other methods of Monkey King references, such as Enma and Infernape.
  • July 25, 2012
    surgoshan
    Captain Carrot of the Discworld seems to fit a lot of these.
  • July 25, 2012
    Nekojin
    ^ I'd add that, if you give me more data. ;)
  • July 26, 2012
    surgoshan
    ^ Before character development, he's incredibly naive (he once arrested the head of the Thieves Guild for thieving, and was staying in the attic of a brothel not realizing it was a brothel; he thought they were friendly). Later he's just very simple, though 'simple' doesn't mean 'stupid'. As for his motley troupe, he's second in command of the Ankh Morpork city watch, which has dwarfs, trolls, humans, gnomes, werewolves, and a Nobby Nobbs (whose human, and has a certificate which proves it). He is The Hero and The Heart, though The Leader and The Protagonist roles are both taken by Commander Vimes. As for making friends, he has a nearly magical charisma; he once stopped two angry mobs by calling out every individual by name and shaming them into stopping. No staff, doesn't really make light of dangerous situations. Not a really proficient fighter, simply as direct an honorable there as in other things, though he has a punch that even trolls (large, living stone creatures) have to respect.
  • July 26, 2012
    X2X
    Some points to add to MrRuano's Soul series example above: Both characters are bojutsu practitioners, with their primary weapons (the Kali-Yuga for Kilik; the Three Karmas and, later, the Kali-Yuga for Xiba) being based on Sun Wukong's Ruyi Jingu Bang (both also have extra weapons more closely inspired by the Ruyi Jingu Bang, the Jingu Staff). Kilik is known for his ability to absorb and purify evil energy via the Kali-Yuga (taught to him by his master, Edge Master), which could very well be drawn from the Monkey King's power to detect evil through his huoyan-jinjing ("fiery-eyes golden-gaze"). Kilik is a Warrior Monk who no longer has a real home to go back to and travels the land stamping out evil; one of Sun Wukong's titles was Xingzhe, meaning "ascetic" (as in a wandering monk). Xiba, however, carries more of the Monkey King imagery. Likely an orphan (as well as, according to Japanese sourcebooks, the estranged son of both Kilik and Xianghua), he is said to have been born on the Zhen Hang Mountain, suggesting that he raised himself in the wild; this matches up with accounts of Sun Wukong's early life. Xiba wears a tiger pelt around his waist which gives off the illusion of him having a tail. Several of his moves are named after monkeys and his overall style resembles the staff fighting branch of Monkey Kung Fu (Hou Gun), while his Critical Edge is named Kong's Dance of Qi Tian Da Sheng, Qitian Dasheng ("Great Sage, Equal of Heaven") being another one of Sun Wukong's titles.
  • July 26, 2012
    Nekojin
    ^ and ^^ added, although I'm still not sold on adding Carrot to the list.
  • July 26, 2012
    Surenity
  • February 5, 2013
    Prfnoff
    I agree with Acrobox. This seems to be two distinct tropes mashed together like D.P. Gumby's bouquet.
  • February 5, 2013
    StarSword
    Film:
  • February 5, 2013
    Irrisia
    Huh. Apparently Standard Shonen Hero died a death in YKTTW, and that was basically the same thing. Maybe steal the name from that and go from there?
  • February 6, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ I second that. When I saw the name The Monkey King, I immediately though this was about characters based on the Monkey King from Journey To The West.
  • February 6, 2013
    DRCEQ
    • In Jackie Chan Adventures, the Monkey King from the Journey To The West story is brought to life through magic. He's one of the most dangerous villains Jackie encounters over the whole series, strictly because he is The Trickster who takes everything as a joke. He tries to make a volcano erupt with gelatin. It is far more dangerous than it sounds.

    BTW, even Goku from Dragon Ball needs to be sufficiently explained. Just saying "obviously" isn't going to work.
  • June 18, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    • Several Digimon species refer to Journey to the West characters, and most of those show up in Digimon Xros Wars:
      • Gokuwmon and Sanzomon appear in a flashback with the hero's partner Digimon.
      • Sagomon is a Monster Of The Week that the hero defeats and captures.
      • Cho-Hakkaimon is the partner of a member of the rival team.
      • Shakamon currently only exists in the card game and represents The Buddha.
      • Shawujinmon is a Palette Swap of Sagomon who appeared earlier in Digimon Savers as the partner of a secondary character. It's also currently the only one named after the Chinese name of its respective Journey to the West character.
  • June 18, 2013
    arromdee
    A lot of these examples are really reaching. Seriously, Naruto? Note that many of the traits shown are common to shonen action heroes anyway.

    And most of the examples that aren't reaching are already covered by Journey to the West.
  • June 18, 2013
    TheHandle
    ^Naruto is totes a Sun Wukong type, complete with sealing!

    • Friendship Is Magic: Pinkie Pie is a hearty, heroic character. She's bombastic, she's full of humour, she eats like ten, she has high (though not inexhaustible) stamina, she's very friendly, has Yo Yo Naivete but is usually just plain naive, she makes friends everywhere, she fights very creatively, she doesn't have a telescoping staff but she uses Hammer Space to great effect, she takes friendship extremely seriously and is loyal to her friends above all else, and anyone hurting her friends is in big trouble.
  • June 18, 2013
    CaveCat
    Western Animation
    • Mr Bogus is often depicted as a heroic and versatile character, despite the fact that he is actually a gremlin. To elaborate, he is rather clumsy, has a humongous appetite (sometimes gaining a Balloon Belly from his ravenous appetite), will do good deeds most of the time, can stand his ground against any enemy that comes his way, and, like Pinkie Pie, also uses Hammerspace for the current situation that befalls him.
  • June 19, 2013
    Chabal2
    The French comic Ivory Doll (set in China during the late Renaissance) has a character show up who wears the iconic Monkey King outfit, uses acrobatics to get around, and has a trained monkey. It turns out he's an Italian who's there to steal silkworms for his master in Rome (hence the monkey).
  • June 19, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    Wait, what is this trope again?
  • June 19, 2013
    xanderiskander
    I'm not really sure this is tropeworthy so much as trivia. But it bothers me that the only qualification to being this is that the character have traits similar to The Monkey King. Shouldn't they be stated to be an expy by Word Of God to count? Seems like this is already being misused.

    Like Aang for example. How do we know it's not just a coincidence he has a similar personality? I've never heard of him actually being stated to be based off of the monkey king.
  • June 19, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    ^ I don't think the examples that are based on Word Of God or are explict refernces would be enough to make another Fountain Of Expies subtrope. It would be The Same But More Specific. Plus Expy seem to have unintentional examples as well.

    Also another Naruto example. the four-tailed beasts is actually named Sun Goku and is fittingly a giant ape/monkey/insert other primate here.
  • June 19, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    As can be seen from these last couple of examples, this still has the same problem of being mistaken for two different tropes: 1. Direct references to Journey To The West and 2. Character type that shares qualities with the Monkey King.

    For example, the titular character of Naruto would be number 2 and the four tailed beast, Son Goku, would be number 1.

    This draft is clearly supposed to be about number 2, but the name makes people think it's number 1. I still suggest we should split this into two different tropes, and give this one a more descriptive name.
  • June 19, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    Added the M Lp exampled and changed the Titie to Monkey King Expy. (not a good name, but at least it would cause less confusion.)
  • June 19, 2013
    heretoaddress
    In Naruto, the 3rd Hokage summons a caricature of Sun Wukong named Enma. He first appears in episode 71 of the anime/ chapter #120 of the manga. Interestingly, Enma actually transforms into the Jingu Bang rather than wielding it himself. The Hokage wields Enma, who in this form can change length and size at will. In fact, during the attack of the Kyuubi, he uses Enma's powers of extension to drive it back across the village , buying the 4th some time. He also wears tiger skin like Sun Wukong.
  • June 19, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    ^ seems Naruto loves associating Sun Wukong with the number Four
  • June 26, 2013
    aurora369
    What, no one mentioned Zidane from Final Fantasy IX?
  • June 26, 2013
    arbiter099
    League Of Legends has Wukong The Monkey King as a playable character amongst its huge roster. He starts out as a super-intelligent monkey from the Plague Jungles with a drive to be the best at everything, then encounters Master Yi, the last surviving practitioner of Wuju Style martial arts. Yi agrees to show Wukong the human world in exchange for becoming his apprentice and agreeing to pass on what he learns someday. He fights with a variable length staff, can summon a nimbus cloud (and uses it in his idle animations), can create illusionary clones of himself, and turns to stone upon death.
  • June 26, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Hoooooly crap this YKTTW needs a lot of straightening out before launch. A lot of the examples are basic Shounen Hero tropes, which could be a trope, but naming it Monkey King Expy is awful on so many fronts.
  • June 26, 2013
    Prfnoff
    @Larkmarn: I don't think Monkey Kinglite is any better.
  • June 26, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Yeah, still not good. Better, since none of these characters are even close to an expy, but still not good.
  • June 26, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    What about Monkey Kingesque. TBH I don't think we can name this trope anything with Monkey King in the title.
  • June 26, 2013
    Larkmarn
  • June 26, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    ^ That could probably work, but there are some example that aren't Shonen or Shonenesque characters but fit many of the traits described at the top. (Pinkie pie would be an example of that)
  • October 4, 2013
    DAN004
    Shonen Hero Archetype then? (It implies that the character doesn't actually have to be a shonen hero but follows most of its traits)
  • October 4, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    Wukong Clone? puns with Wu Tang Clan.


    also, him being the Shonen Hero template is highly doubtful, considering his entry in the Backstroke Of The West character page.

    btw

    Videogame
  • October 4, 2013
    DAN004
    Yeah, the reason it becoming a "shonen hero template" at all because Son Goku becomes the Trope Codifier for Idiot Hero and he happens to be an expy of Sun Wukong.
  • October 4, 2013
    Hodor
    I think that either this trope should be lost or else the shonen hero one should be, not both.

    Also, while there are some examples (Goku obviously and probably Naruto) where I can see that direct Monkey King influence, for many, its a real stretch.

    And I'm kind of uncomfortable with including Captain Carrot. While the first outing presents him as this naive guy who succeeds because he's The Ace, all of his later appearances present him as fairly cunning and suggest he has a hard, calculating edge under his Nice Guy exterior.
  • October 4, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ exactly, since it seems Journey To The West already lists shoutouts to Wukong, i think this one needs to be repurposed for Shonen Hero Template.
  • January 5, 2015
    DAN004
    Bump for potential
  • January 5, 2015
    KyleJacobs
    Holy crap, just how many things do you have flagged?
  • January 5, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ I don't flag ALL the things I bumped. Just a few of 'em.
  • January 5, 2015
    DracMonster
  • November 5, 2015
    Noah1
    • Ash Ketchum of Pokemon fame has many traits ubiquitous to this archetype. He's rather dim, and a Big Eater, but also a very talented and determined Pokemon trainer who maintains very strong, loving bonds with his Pokemon, as well as his human traveling companions. One of the Pokemon he trained was an Infernape, which just so happened to be designed in homage to Son Wukong.
  • November 5, 2015
    acrobox
    can i say again that i think there should be a difference between the Sun Wuklone who is a deliberate shout out to the Monkey King (fur, tails, flying cloud, super staff, other Journey to the West characters as teammates), and the Stock Shonen Hero who shares many traits with Dragon Ball's Goku (big eater, pure hearted, fights for his friends, loves competition, idiot hero, hot blooded).

    They're sister tropes (since the Codifier for the latter is an example of the former) but distinct.
  • November 5, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ It seems good, but I dunno if that's really needed. I'll back it up to consensus.

    Anyways, I think Sin Kiske of Guilty Gear is one, but I can't elaborate much. What I know is that he's an Idiot Hero who's wielding a staff (a flagpole, to be specific), highly spirited, a Big Eater, and follows the tutelage of and travels with Sol Badguy (just like how Sun Wukong is travelling with a mentor).
  • November 9, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    Take that Pinkie Pie example off there. I don't think she counts at all.

    • God Of High School's Jin-Mo-Ri who is revealed to be the Monkey King himself later in the webtoon. He's the main protagonist who rebelled against Heaven at some point in the past and he's really good at fighting, eating and sleeping.
  • November 10, 2015
    Arivne

    Dragonball and Saiyuki are Zero Context Examples and need more specific information to explain how they're this trope.
  • November 10, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
    ^ The main character of Son Goku in Dragonball and it's sequels is basically the Monkey King In Space, as instead of a god, he's an alien. The story itself started off as a retelling of Journey To The West per Word Of God. Goku himself has the same name as the monkey king (Son Goku is the japanese version of the name), has a monkey's tail, can turn into a giant ape, is a light-hearted hero who's basically the most powerful person in the world (later the UNIVERSE, hell the OMNIVERSE), is a Big Eater, and has a very simplistic outlook and likes to make friends. In Dragonball he also has a telescoping staff, but by DBZ it doesn't appear anymore.

    I don't know as much about Saiyuki, but I do know the character's name is also Son Goku, he uses a staff and is an exuberant Really Seven Hundred Years Old kid who is good at fighting and loves to eat. He is all but explicitly refereed to as being the Monkey King.

    Compare Trickster Archetype.
  • January 8, 2016
    ChrisX
    This YKTTW has potential. However, I'd suggest that we get rid of some things that makes them look more like a Shonen character stock. Here are the new set of criterias I would suggest:
    • They CANNOT be the actual Sun Wukong himself: Sharing the name is fine, but they must not be the actual Monkey King whenever present (for instance, if the game is about mythology and Sun Wukong is present, then this Wukong does not count). This means, Wukong as in Warriors Orochi or Smite cannot count. Goku or the League Of Legends edition of Wukong, however, still counts.
    • Monkey-motifs is almost always a must.
    • Must have reference to at least one of Wukong's repertoire:
      • A long staff for combat. Even better if they can be shrunk or elongated.
      • The nimbus cloud. A mean of transportation in form of a fast moving, ride-able cloud.
      • The ability to summon a miniature versions of himself.
    • For points 2 and 3, it's okay to not have point 2 (not having Monkey Motif) BUT must have at least two of the repertoires.

    I think those are the traits we can just include instead of the specific multiple criterias in the beginning. I could create a new YKTTW topic similar to this one, except with these criterias. What do you think? If this goes well, this trope can be one of those subtropes of Fountain Of Expies in the same vein of Char Clone.
  • January 8, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ Probs you mean that you wanna restart this whole ykttw from scratch. I'd agree with that.

    I have another example or two, but I'm waiting for that new draft to be made.
  • January 8, 2016
    Arivne
    Changed the title to Monkey King Lite because it makes more sense.
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