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Son of an Ape
"Sad, that I must litter space with ape corpses."
Baktosh "Redclaw" nar Kiranka, Wing Commander

Generally in sci-fi/fantasy settings where there are other non-human sentient species, they will often refer pejoratively to humans as apes or monkeys. Sometimes, even a human is seen doing this. More likely to happen in settings where humans are depicted as being less intelligent or civilized than other sentient races.

The Big Bad tends to do this often if he's not human himself, or if he is not human anymore. When used by Starfish Aliens, it can sometimes raise Fridge Logic issues if there's no basis for them to know what apes or monkeys are, in the first place.

Despite this trope's use of the word "ape" as an insult, it should be noted that biologically, humans actually are a species of ape. The insult implies that the human in question is uncivilised and therefore cannot be distinguished from an ape. Compare "Neanderthal".

A subtrope of Fantastic Slur.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Freeza is very adamant about the Saiyans being "mere monkeys" even when he's getting his ass kicked by one. Indeed, having tails even when not transformed, they are technically monkeys rather than apes. Not that it reduces the Fantastic Racism any. And Freeza isn't particular. He uses all variations of "ape" and "monkey" to insult the Saiyans.
  • In Love Pistols, zoomans (humans developed from other animals than apes) use the word "monkey" sometimes neutrally, and sometimes as a slur.
  • In episode 5 of FLCL, Haruko insults Amarao with something along the lines of "primitive monkey!", to which Amarao responds that it is politically incorrect to refer to "underevolved species" that way.
  • In the first half of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Viral consistently refers to the human heroes as "naked apes", as do Generals Adaine and Cytomander. (Thymilph isn't around long enough to do it and Guame presumedly knows better.)
  • In Getter Robo, the Dinosaur Empire refers to humans as "arrogant apes."

    Comicbooks 
  • From New X-Men 130:
    Xavier[addressing human troops]: The X-Men have this deliberately engineered "emergency" under control. We've just lost one of our rescue team, do you understand? We're in no mood to play chimpanzee politics...
    • Then again, this could just as easily be an insult directed at politicians, if not more so considering Xavier's beliefs on human-mutant relations and the fact that mutant humans are just as much ape as the regular sort of humans

    Film 
  • The Black Hole aliens from Godzilla films Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Terror Of Mechagodzilla refer to earthlings as primitive apes, despite the fact that they themselves look like gorillas.
  • In Buckaroo Banzai, the Red Lectroids insultingly refer to human beings as "monkey boys".
  • Men In Black: The Bug calls humans "monkey boys", which is almost certainly a Shout-Out to Buckaroo Banzai.
  • The angels in the The Prophecy series constantly refer to humans as "talking monkeys".
  • Alluded to in an inversion of sorts in Planet of the Apes quite a few times-'human' is the insult. Notably verbalized in Zira's comments like "You know what they say, human say, human do." and "to apes, all men look alike."
    • Also, the apes have their own version-they hate to be called 'monkeys'.
  • Inherit the Wind has a version said by another human, played for cynicism. "Darwin was wrong. Man's still an ape."
  • Howard the Duck. After Howard learns about evolution, he calls humans "hairless apes."

    Literature 
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, there are several pointed references to humans being descended from apes, and more than one character addresses or refers to Arthur with some variation of "monkey man". What they're descended from isn't mentioned.
  • Mendoza, an immortal human in The Company Novels, refers to normal humans as monkeys.
  • During the Man-Kzin War period of Larry Niven's Known Space series, the Kzinti constantly referred to humans as "monkeys". By the Ringworld period, they have stopped doing that, having had their collective asses handed to them too many times by the humans to casually dismiss them anymore.
  • In Starship Troopers, the Drill Sergeant Nasty frequently refers to his recruits as apes to motivate them. This is not unknown in Earth's military history.
  • Used frequently by Mudge in reference to Jon-Tom in Spellsinger. Also on one occasion by Dorcas the hinny.
    • Given that monkeys in Mudge and Dorcas's world are fully sentient and civilized, the implication may have been that Jon-Tom is foolish or frivolous rather than primitive.
  • In Codex Alera, one of the Canim insults the human protagonist with a phrase that roughly translates to "monkey-boy". The spirit of this trope when turned on another species is also seen in that the worst insults you can offer a Cane are "dog" and especially "jackal".
  • In The Dresden Files, Ferrovax the dragon sneeringly refers to all the humanoids at Bianca's party, human or vampire, as "monkeys".
  • Played with in the Discworld series: the Librarian at Unseen University, a human transformed into an orangutan, actually prefers being an ape (well, a different kind of ape), but, as in the Planet of the Apes example, call him a "monkey" (or even say "monkey" around him) at your peril.
    • At one point in Going Postal, a bird has a malicious expression that is explained as it "remembering the days it was a giant reptile that could have taken these sons of monkeys to the cleaners." Apparently, Discworld once had dinosaurs, and they weren't dragons.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Ninth Doctor refers to humans as "stupid apes" on a couple of occasions.
    • As do the new series' Silurians, some of whom want to wipe humanity out.
  • The Xindi from Star Trek: Enterprise refer to the humans as being "ape-like". In this case it is generally intended as more descriptive than insulting, and the same term is also used for Primate Xindi.
  • Uriel on Supernatural refers to humans as "mud monkeys." Lucifer condemns humans for being "murderous hairless apes".
  • The Cat on Red Dwarf calls Lister, Rimmer, and Kochanski "monkeys" on a regular basis.
  • Kamen Rider Gaim: Helheim Overlord Deemushu refers to humans as apes or monkeys (depends on whose subs you're reading). This attitude is so ingrained, he keeps it up even while getting slaughtered by Gaim's Super Mode.
  • On Angel, one of the insectoid demons from Jasmine's dimension refers to humans as "filthy little mice" rather than monkeys. The reason it makes sense, presumably, is that for a bug creature, all mammals seem equally alien, and probably this demon is familiar with some kind of mouselike creatures that inhabit his home dimension, but he knows nothing about monkeys.

    Music 
  • Crash Test Dummies' "Superman's Song" contains the line "dumb as an ape".
  • The Tool song "Right In Two", which is sung from the perspective of angels, refers to humans as monkeys.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Sherman's Lagoon, the characters refer to humans as "hairless beach apes".
  • In one Calvin and Hobbes strip, Calvin asks whether Hobbes believes that humans evolved from apes. Hobbes' response: "I sure don't see any difference."

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer 40,000, the Eldar derisively refer to humans and other species they deem inferior as "mon-keigh". It only sounds like "monkey," though; the meaning is "those which have to be exterminated."
  • In the Shadowrun setting, a trideo program out of Tir Tairngire had an elvish title that translated as "Keeper of the Monkey House". It's a flagrantly-racist comedy about an elven landholder's dealings with idiotic, destructive, irresponsible human tenants.
  • Subverted in the Ravenloft setting's Wildlands, where the natives refer to humans as "hairless apes". The subversion is that the natives are all sentient animals, so actually approve of the "ape" part: it's the hairlessness they find objectionable.

    Theatre 
  • In Princess Ida, Lady Psyche teaches that men, as opposed to women, descended from apes and so remain apes at heart:
    For the Maiden fair, whom the monkey craved,
    Was a radiant Being,
    With a brain far-seeing—
    While a Darwinian Man, though well-behaved,
    At best is only a monkey shaved!
  • In The Hairy Ape by Eugene O'Neill, the Anti-Hero "Yank" takes being called an ape so seriously that, by the play's final scene, he wholeheartedly believes he is one.

    Videogames 
  • In Wing Commander the felinoid Kilrathi refer to the humans as "hairless apes" and similar terms.
  • In Chrono Trigger, Azala refers to humans as apes.
  • Sword of the Stars, the nickname for humans is 'ape' or 'monkey'. This nickname was originally used by the Tarka, but was adopted by most major species — including humanity itself. That said, most of the species from Sword of the Stars have similar nicknames: Tarka are 'crocs' or 'lizards', Hivers are 'bugs' and Morrigi are 'crows'. The Liir probably have one too, but it's not mentioned. As for the Zuul, they have no name for themselves. Zuul is just what the other races call them, which is a Liir term derived from the word "Suul'ka", meaning "abominable" (any further epithets would probably be redundant).
  • Sakuya does this to the heroine a few times in Hatoful Boyfriend. The heroine can return fire with poultry comments. This stops being funny in certain storylines.

    Webcomics 

    Web Originals 
  • Worm Jeff often refers to humans as apes and monkeys.

    Western Animation 
  • On Futurama, Nibbler describes Earth as being ruled by "psychotic apes".
  • On Crash Nebula, the Show Within a Show from Fairly Oddparents, the kid who will grow up to be Crash is repeatedly insulted by the other space students calling him one variation or another on "moderately evolved primate".
  • In Megas XLR, Gorrath calls humans "monkey men".
  • "Grab that rope, you hairy ape!"
  • Many times, slow-witted Homer Simpson is compared to an ape. This actually becomes a major plot point in a trial that mirrors the Scopes Trial after Ned Flanders tried to get Creationism taught in Springfield Elementary.
  • The botanical Tick villain, El Seed refers to humans as "monkeys" and human superheroes as "supermonkeys".

    Real Life 
  • "Porch monkey" and "Apefricans" are racist slurs used to insult black people.


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