"...catch a seagull in the sky, if he hollers, let him fly, my mother said to pick the very best head and you are... IT!"
Moai are famous stone statues found on Easter Island
that typically depict a human's head and body and are sometimes seen with a hat called a pukao. For whatever reason, they wind up cropping up in fiction quite a bit. Very frequently their existence or history is treated as a mystery, possibly to be "explained" by some element of the plot, even though in Real Life
their significance and means of construction are known and uncontroversial.
More recently, the island is held up as a warning
what civilization may face as the predominately archeological research suggests there was a thriving population, but it was apparently so obsessed with creating the statues that they overtaxed the island's resources and made it uninhabitable with an environmental collapse
More often than not the fictional equivalent is typically just the extremely large moai head and neck, as opposed to a full-body moai; the most widely-known real-life moai are those of Rano Raraku, which are full-bodied statues buried up to their shoulders or necks in the ground. These moai were the most famous (and impressive) largely because they were the only statues that the Easter Islanders were incapable of knocking over when their civilization collapsed, though many moai have since been re-erected. The pukao (a hat- or topknot-like adornment) is rarely seen, as are the coral eyes many of the statues once possessed. The statues as a whole are far from proportional, with the heads making up a considerable portion of their overall height, which varies considerably from statue to statue.◊
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Since 1984, the distribution arm of Bandai, "Emotion," had a pair of Moai as their logo. At least some anime appearances are nods to this old logo.
- Flint the Time Detective explained the existence of Moai as summons for a moai-like monster's attack.
- The One Piece short "Jiginai Time" (or "No Respect Time") apparently takes place entirely within the dream of an incredibly bored, talking moai, much to the main characters' chagrin.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! had these appearing in random places during the Mahora Festival. The 3D Background Explanation Corner of volume 16 called them Mysterious Stone Sculptures, with the note "Why these things are around is an even bigger mystery."
- Keroro Gunsou 'solves' this 'mystery' once and for all - the Moai heads are mechanised, able to bob up and down as part of a massive Whack-A-Mole game.
- The manga has them as transformed islanders that seal away "Aku Aku". The Aku Aku fought by Fuyuki and co. turns out to be a Bacterian invader.
- Known as the Stone Heads of Moi in Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. Our heroes find them on an alien planet, implying that aliens had put them on Earth long ago.
- When other classmates build snowmen, Miyako build snow-moais.
- One episode of Pani Poni Dash! takes all of Class 1-C into resident Cloudcuckoolander Himeko's mind. More specifically, her dreams. She has Moai statues decorating the landscape, and all of them have her signature Idiot Hair cowlick.
- Batman Adventures #4 had Batman fighting Ra's al Ghul in a secret underground base on Easter Island. The base was under a field of head-and-neck moai, and when the action moved underground it was revealed that they had proportionally large bodies which formed the pillars supporting the roof of the secret base.
- Flight 714 has a moai-like idol concealing a hidden passageway.
- One of Marvel Comics's early, pre-Fantastic Four monster comics revealed the Moai to be silicon-based aliens, buried up to their necks. When the Kronans (aka the "Stone Men From Saturn") were later introduced in The Mighty Thor, they were given the same appearance, with the distinctive elongated heads, despite having no explicit connection to Easter Island. The Kronans still pop up occasionally in Marvel titles, and their heads still look like Moai.
- Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! featured a story explaining the origin of the (rabbit-shaped) moai heads on Easter Bunny Island (Earth-C's counterpart of Easter Island): centuries ago, an alien rabbit-like being was using Earth to dispose of dangerous glowing eggs from his native world. The being ordered the island's primitive natives to bury the eggs, then construct the giant stone heads to cover them. Unable to return to his native world, the alien put himself into a state of suspended animation, with the memory of the buried eggs/purpose of the giant heads eventually lost to history. The eggs (and the alien) eventually re-emerged in the present, with both threatening the world.
- A European Disney comic strip featured Mickey Mouse and Eega Beeva trying to stop an invasion from a race of extraterrestrials, who happen to be allergic to chlorophyll. Their first landed (you guessed it) on Easter Island centuries ago. The locals considered them as gods descending from the sky and built the statues to worship them. Interstellar transmitters were left inside the statues.
- One Don Martin cartoon for MAD magazine has an archeology expedition revealing that the statues are actually depictions of gigantic hockey players.
- In the French comic Anachron, the statues are actually telepathic aliens called Petramorphs.
- Godzilla vs. Megalon had a brief shot of some Easter Island Moai as part of an infodump on the lost continent of Seatopia, home of the evil monster Megalon.
- In a brief scene in Mars Attacks!, an alien saucer uses a large arm-like extension to throw a huge bowling ball at and knock over some Easter Island moai.
- A moai is among the museum exhibits that come to life in Night at the Museum. Voiced by Brad Garrett, he wants dum-dum (Larry) to give him gum-gum.
- In The Incredibles, Bob Parr very nearly knocks open a huge door with one, but it starts opening before he arrives.
- The 1994 film Rapa Nui takes place on Easter Island in the distant past, and is loosely (quite loosely) based on surviving legends of how and why the statues were erected.
- The island in Muppet Treasure Island has Moai-type stone heads. But because the island's native tribespeople are wild boars, so are the heads. They also join in two of the songs. "Boom-shakalaka!"
- In The House Bunny the sorority throws an Aztec theme party, complete with a virgin "sacrifice" (the girl slides into a vat of warm gelatin). In a (lampshaded) example of artistic license, several people are seen wearing Moai masks/costumes, and some Moai statues can be seen in the background.
- Because the rabbits are all from Easter Island we get so see some in Hop. They're apparently the secret entrances to the Easter Bunny's whole operation. Some even properly have the pukao.
- The Doctor Who Past Doctor Adventures novel Eye of Heaven reveals that, like most things in the Whoniverse, the moai were put there by Ancient Astronauts. They're alien computers that run a Transmat network.
- Kon-Tiki, as an anthropological text, goes into the details of manufacturing and placing the Moai as part of the author's theory of trans-Pacific migration.
- In one Choose Your Own Adventure book, you are abducted by aliens and taken into interstellar space. In one path, you can acquire a handheld replica of one of these. If you show it to the aliens in charge of the ship, you can command them. If you make them take you back to Earth, however, they'll only take you to Easter Island.
- In the Area 51 novel series, the moai are statues of the Airlia, a Sufficiently Advanced Alien race who created humanity as foot soldiers in their wars.
Live Action TV
- The Hipgnosis cover of the Styx album Pieces of Eight contrasts the real moai with middle aged women wearing moai earrings.
- The song "Easter Island Head" is about the narrator wanting to be one of these.
- Towards the end of the music video for "Weird Al" Yankovic's "CNR", there are natives worshipping a moai with glasses that, naturally, looks like Charles Nelson Reilly.
- Pink Floyd's The Division Bell uses pairs of moai-like impressionist sculptures facing each other as a theme. Several different variations are used in the lyric booklet, and the version included with the CD includes one pair of regular moai.
- In Sherman's Lagoon, a moai is a recurring character. He has magical powers that are usually used to transform Sherman and friends into humans for brief land-side adventures.
- Crock has Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan idol/god who speaks to some of the characters. He looks suspiciously like a Moai, despite being in the African desert and named after a Babylonian king.
- A Calvin and Hobbes strip had Calvin defending his Moai snow sculptures: "What's wrong with Easter Island? I like Easter Island!"
- A recurring character in Zippy The Pinhead has a Moai-head.
- The "Devil's Island" table of Balls of Steel has one in the upper-right corner of the playfield, named "Big Ugly Head".
- Call of Cthulhu supplement Shadows of Yog-Sothoth, adventure "The Watchers of Easter Island". Some of the moai on Easter Island were creations of the Deep Ones with the purpose of channeling magical energy. The others were created by humans in imitation of the originals.
- As part of its Shout Outs to Konami series, the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game has the cards "Chronomaly Moai", "Statue of Easter Island" and "Moai Interceptor Cannons."
- The first design of the Toa's and Matoran's unmasked faces in BIONICLE seems to be loosely based off the Moai, in keeping with the various references to Polynesian culture. There is also a Matoran named Hafu who is famous for his stone statues, and a similar large stone head can be seen overlooking the Kini-Nui temple in the story material.
- The Pokémon Nosepass and its evolution Probopass.
- Rhythm Heaven includes a game where two moai sing to each other.
- Most Konami games have moai, as a staff in-joke - one of the founding members of the company apparently resembled one:
- A staple enemy of the Gradius series, usually featured in their own exclusive level with one or more enormous ones at the end as the boss. They shoot donut-like projectiles and occasionally jump around, chasing your ship. In the latest game, Gradius Rebirth, the requisite moai stage has a massive one as a Background Boss.
- And by extension, a prominent feature in the Parodius series. Again they usually star in their own special stage that usually includes a moai head (that may or may not fire other moai heads) as a boss, as well as a gigantic battleship with moai-themed turrets. Some of them have three eyes, some of them have sunglasses, some of them smoke pipes. Stage 2 of Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius turns the cast of Tokimeki Memorial into Moai heads.
- From Castlevania:
- A secret treasure in the original NES Castlevania is one of the earliest appearances in a Konami game.
- Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow has the Bat Company, a cluster of bats that think and act like a single entity. This boss has three forms: a bat-shape that moves fast, a hand-shape that will stalk you and grab on to do damage, and a Moai head shape that retreats to one side of the room, bobs up and down and fires the typical Konami Moai Ring LasersTM. And the nifty part? Since the boss is made of red bats, the moai head only faces to the right — just like the red moai from the Gradius games.
- Castlevania: Curse Of Darkness has a moai as an Old Save Bonus which is just an inventory item that can either give a moderately large heal or can be sold for a large amount of money. Otherwise, it doesn't do anything special.
- Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia has the Rusalka boss in Somnus Reef. She herself is not a Moai, but one of her attacks involves raising her arms in a dramatic manner, calling 'Moai!' or 'Go forth, moai!'. Upon this command, three spike pillars shaped like hat-wearing Moai drop down in an attempt to impale you. The aforementioned moai can be used as shelter for two of Rusalka's water-based attacks, including an extremely damaging attack in which a wave encompassing the entire screen gets summoned into the foreground.
- In Metal Gear Solid 2, they can be found amongst pipes and so on (one of Raiden's Photography missions in Substance concerns him getting a perfect shot of one).
- In yet ANOTHER Hideo Kojima example, in Snatcher, Gillian has a choice of wearing a Moai or a Mummy mask to the Outer Heaven Nightclub
- In the DS game Magician's Quest: Mysterious Times, one of the species of fish in the game is the "Human-Faced Fish." It's a swimming Moai head with fins.
- A Super-Deformed Moai was the star of Moai-kun, a Puzzle Platformer for the Famicom.
- Moai has appeared a playable character in several Konami crossover games: Wai Wai World, Hai no Majutsushi, Konami Krazy Racers and DreamMix TV World Fighters.
- They appear in the Command & Conquer Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge expansion pack as giant laser-shooting defensive towers.
- And again in Red Alert 3. Though this time, in addition to laser-spitting turrets, some function as man-cannons.
- There are a whole series of Internet flash games made by one creator based on Moai. One such game is the "Tower of Moai," where you have to save ambling Moai heads from falling off a shaky tower.
- Some of the surface missions in X-COM: Terror From The Deep took place among moai, as if they were on islands all over the Pacific.
- In the online flash Tower Defense game Easter Island TD the towers are idols based on the moai. Seriously.
- Super Mario Land's World 3 has Moai not only in the background, but also as enemies. (They're called by other names in the manual, but come on.) Even the boss is a stone-throwing Moai. Not to mention the fact that World 3 is called Easton.
- Sam & Max: Freelance Police: Moai Better Blues includes three talking Moai.
- Moai appear as occasional Easter eggs in Final Fantasy games. Here's some examples.
- Rise of Nations includes unique resources that give certain benefits for the nation. One resource, called "relics," is depicted as a pair of moss-covered Moai, and it makes Science research cheaper.
- The main villain of the Arkanoid series (aside from those accursed gold blocks) is a giant Moai by the name of Doh.
- In the Easter Island segment of The Omega Stone, a moai must be blown up to gain access to some underground tunnels.
- Moai of various sizes are a common feature on the four elemental mountain dungeons in Golden Sun: The Lost Age. They tend to be involved with the psynergy puzzles in one way or another.
- World of Warcraft features walrus-like moai for the Tuskarr, a race of indigenous walrus-people in Northrend, whose culture is a strange mix of Polynesian and Inuit.
- Civilization IV allows you to build the "Moai Statues" National Wonder, increasing production in sea tiles in that city.
- Civilization V makes them the Unique Tile Improvement for the Polynesians, which can only be built on the coastline.
- Moai heads somehow end up in Antarctica in Tomb Raider 3, built by the Polynesians who lived there before they fled. The player is also treated to an assortment of some elaborate heads in the beginning of the second-to-last level of the game.
- StarTropics. While set in the south Pacific, it oddly has only one Moai in the entire game, the Chapter 6 mid-boss "Broken Joe".
- Lost Kingdoms 2 has a secret mission which features floating, morphing terror-inducing Maoi heads throughout the level. Eventually you place the Rune Stones on pedestals shaped like Maoi heads with their mouths open. This is all you can take a necklace that alters the storyline, allowing you to get the "good" ending.
- Kamehameha Cove in Backyard Soccer 2004 has Moai in the background.
- You can also see them during the world tour in Baseball 's ending.
- Blast Corps's Ebony Coast stage has a conspicuous Moai head sitting by some train tracks. If you put a TNT crate on the train, take the train to where the head is, then have the TNT blow it, it will reveal the J-Bomb jetpack, which you can fly to a hidden island where there are three more Moai heads.
- In Heroes of Might and Magic there is the Idol structure which looks somewhat like a moai, it gives you luck for the next battle.
- Santa Destroy from No More Heroes contains quite a few of these. Their placement suggests that they're some sort of secret but, no, they're just decoration.
- Spelunky's ice world contains a giant Moai. If you got the Ankh from the Black Market, you can die here and you'll be resurrected inside the Moai, where you can get an important item.
- In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, one of Lexaeus's joke weapons is a Moai.
- The old Capcom platformer/action RPG Magic Sword has some as enemies.
- Space Harrier features Moai fairly prominently, mostly during level 2 (Geeza) where the floor is littered with the things and the boss (Ida) is a dozen or so of them orbiting a rock that shoots fireballs at you.
- One of the enemies in Super Bomberman 2 was a moving Moai Head. It only featured in the later levels of Area 1 and took two hits to kill.
- In Dragon Quest IX, there are some enemies called Maois in both name and appearance.
- There's one in The World Ends with You, and even featured in a mission and lampshaded.
- In Blazing Lazers, the Area 5 enemies include moai.
- In Nintendogs It is possible but rare to find a Moai on a walk.
- Super Pitfall for the NES has Invincible Minor Minion moais. In the PC-88 version they are bosses that have to be shot in the mou
- Eternal Sonata has one of these as a participant in its plot irrelevant Score Piece sidequest, as well as several others who wonder where he's gotten off to.
- In Atlantis No Nazo, moai statues appear in the 20th and 74th Zones. Those of the former level are involved in the infamous "Nagoya" puzzle.
- In Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (the videogame) you have to put a handkerchief on a moai's head, which gives him the ability to talk - albeit like a Gumby - and he gives you another clue.
- New Super Mario Bros. U has them as a recurring element of the levels in World 2 (Layer-Cake Desert), as well as certain other levels such as stage 5-5. They often tilt forward, move up and down, and the like.
- In Atlantis The Lost Tales the statues are shown to have been made to appease a non-existent god, who was, in fact, another statue.
- In Darwinia two islands are decorated with similar statues — the temple in the "Temple" mission and the central island with the portal to the temple in "Biosphere" mission. Embarrassed Dr Sepulveda explains that Darwinians accidentally saw his image from the web camera and erected a lot of statues of their creator.
- In SpongeBob SquarePants, Squidward Tentacles lives in a house shaped like a moai. In one episode where Squidward wound up trapped in the literal middle of nowhere, he says "I miss my Easter Island head!"
- In another episode when he moves to an all-squid community, everyone lives in a moai house.
- In yet another, he visits his mother's house, which is a moai with curly hair.
- The multinational school in The Critic had a boy from Easter Island with a moai head.
- On Gargoyles the statues are actually based on aliens that have established an observation post here.
- In Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures, moai are based on aliens who were conducting evolutionary experiments in the area.
- In one of the Aardman Animations Rex The Runt shorts, three Moai are aliens with large heads.
- In one episode of The Simpsons set in the past, it is revealed that all the heads are busts of Chief Uglyface.
- "I keep telling you I DON'T LOOK LIKE THAT! Do another!"
- Also a case of Hollywood Atlas, since they were on Tahiti, not Easter Island.
- Another episode had the following dialogue:
Moe: I've been plannin' this vacation for years. I'm finally gonna see Easter Island.
Homer: Oh, right. With the giant heads.
Moe (confused): With the what now?
- In the Animated Adaptation of Blake and Mortimer, a multi-part episode revealed the Moai to be copies of the original one, an alien beacon allowing its makers to detect emerging civilizations and come exterminate them.
- Amusingly, the aliens are the Marcab Confederacy from Scientologist mythology.
- Histeria!! did a song about Easter Island with the second half consisting the Moai statues singing about themselves (check the quote page for their lyrics).
- One of the challenges of Total Drama World Tour was an Easter egg hunt on Easter Island. The Eggs were inside Moai heads of voted off contestants.
- Emotion Music Co. Ltd (a subsidiary of Bandai Visual) has a Moai as their logo. It shows up in their Vanity Plate.
- The Legoland Windsor theme park in the UK has a series of miniature (about 2ft high) moai heads on the slope down from the gate to the main park. Made of Lego, naturally. They also play 'We Will Rock You' as you go past.
- Waterbury, CT has a life-sized replica of a moai, for no readily apparent reason, in the parking lot of the Timexpo museum. Here it is◊, flanked by the lovely and scenic I-84, some dead bushes, and the worst ghetto in the city.
- There are quite a few on Easter Island.