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The Monolith

A large black slab of 1:4:9 proportions (there are more proportions than that if you are capable of looking at it in more than three dimensions), placed in reference to the Monoliths from 2001: A Space Odyssey. (The original monoliths were ancient, mysterious, and bizarrely powerful.) One of the Stock Parodies.

Compare Also Sprach Zarathustra.

Not to be confused with the DC Comics character, a heroic golem, or the Marvel Comics character called The Living Monolith, who's an X-Men villain.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, SEELE keeps in contact with NERV via monolith-like objects.
  • In episode 13 of A Certain Scientific Railgun, the girls went to a swimsuit photo shoot, complete with a holodeck to provide proper backgrounds for the shoot - which promptly glitched out and placed them on the Moon, complete with the Monolith and Also Sprach Zarathustra.
  • The way the Machine Emperor tablets are placed on earth in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds look similar to the monoliths. They also look like the Ka tablets from the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, which also tended to look like this.
  • Lebia Maverick of Silent Mobius owns a supercomputer named Louie that takes this form.

     Comic Books 
  • One issue of The Tick's comic-book had him and Arthur versus a town full of hick Mad Scientists who'd gained their super-intelligence from a monolith that had fallen in a local cornfield.
  • The Watchers' transport gateways look like this in Earth X. Eventually it begins being Lampshaded.
  • In the Belgian comic Le Grand Pouvoir du Chninkel, the creator god U'n appears in the form of a monolith.
    • Actually, the end hints this comic was a prequel to 2001, so U'n is the monolith.

     Fan Works 
  • In the Star Trek: Enterprise parody "Farce Contact", Hoshi Sato reaches out to touch the Monolith which promptly topples over onto Captain Archer's foot. In retaliation, his beagle takes a piss on a billion years worth of alien technology.

     Film 

     Literature 
  • In Chorus Skating, the last Spellsinger novel, two huge black rectangular objects appear on the beach when Jon-Tom is about to have his final sing-off battle with the villain. True to this trope, they were indeed sent by a mysterious alien from another level of reality ... as amplifiers to give Jon-Tom's duar a much-needed and decisive boost.
  • The Science of Discworld has a large black object that gives information to apes... but it turns out to be a chalkboard.
  • The Fablehaven series has the vault where the Translocator is kept. The preserve where said vault is located is named Obsidian Waste in its honor.

     Live Action TV 
  • A parody of 2001 (including the Monolith) appears in Monty Python's Flying Circus episode 38.
  • The Electric Company had a series of animations where the monolith either rose from the ground or floated forward through space toward the front of the screen, then crumbled to show a letter dipthong or small word, subsequently pronounced by a deistic voice.
  • The last Comedy Central episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Laserblast, ended with Dr. Forrester re-enacting the scene where an old David Bowman reaches toward the Monolith before being reborn as a Starchild; Forrester reaches for a monolithic VHS tape labeled "The Worst Movie Ever Made".
  • One Foot in the Grave parodied the "ape discovering tools" scene, with a new fridge as the monolith, and the Styrofoam packing formers at the bones being smashed by the elderly protagonist.
  • Shows up in a Spitting Image sketch, being interviewed by Barry Norman.

     Music 
  • The cover of The Who's album Who's Next shows the band standing next to a monolith-like concrete slab.
    • Actually, they're walking away from it. After having peed on it...
  • The artwork for Led Zeppelin's album Presence features photos of various people whose attention is drawn by a small black object. This was apparently inspired by the original monolith.
  • "The Statue Got Me High"... could be about this. The official story is even weirder; they claim it perfectly mirrors the ending of Don Giovanni, which neither of them knew about...
  • BT's ESCM album cover.
  • Shouting at the Ground by Zoviet France, features a half circle one, sitting in the middle of a field of dry grass.

    Roleplay 
  • Destroy The Godmodder: The Black Monolith is a look-alike of the titular monolith, and can look into one's self to grant their deepest wish. Of course, it has no sense of morality, so people who are really stupid or evil can get to the Monolith... Leading to undesirable results.

     Tabletop Games 
  • The Pylons on Cadia, although they have a clear purpose (stabilising space near a gaping scar in reality). One of the background materials has a character outline a theory that may as well be the plot of 2001.
  • Killer Bunnies And The Quest For The Magic Carrot has The Minilith, a card able to double one's weapon strength. Comes with a handy on/off switch.

     Video Games 
  • Featured in SimEarth as a tool to accelerate a species' development to sapience.
  • Similarly, The Monolith is featured as a tool to accelerate the brain and social evolution of more primitive civilizations in the Space stage of Spore. The game itself features another Shout-Out to 2001. The cut scene to the entrance of the Tribal stage was partly lifted from the introductory sequence of 2001, along with implications in the Creature and Tribal stages of extraterrestrial observation, and in the introduction to the Cell stage, parthenogenesis.
  • Duke Nukem 3D featured a monolith at one point. It contained a teleporter.
  • The video game series Xenosaga, along with Xenogears features several Monolith-like objects, dubbed Zohar(s), along with the Anima Relics.
  • LEGO Island 2 had a monolith on Ogel Island with monkeys in space suits dancing around it.
  • Army Men RTS features a monolithic PS2 in the eighth mission (to them, it's an unlimited power source). It's even introduced with Also Sprach Zarathustra.
  • The titular Ark in Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim. The cutscene where it is raised features Also Sprach Zarathustra-esque music.
  • 2001 is one of Metal Gear Solid's recurring Stock Shout-Outs, so monoliths appear a couple of times:
    • In Metal Gear Solid 2, the name of the computer on the Tanker is MONORITH. (The Tanker is called "Discovery".)
    • In Metal Gear Solid 4, GW, a computer influencing human development, is seen to be a huge, elegantly-illuminated black slab following the 1:4:9 ratio.
  • Weaponized in the second Boss Battle of Metal Slug 3, where you are constantly bombarded with falling monoliths summoned by a mysterious crashed meteorite.
  • They appear in Dungeons of Dredmor. Sometimes you get a sidequest to sacrifice an item to it.
  • An Easter Egg room in The Colony has the Monolith at the foot of a bed.
  • A very obvious parody of the opening sequence to 2001 appears in Startopia, but with the bone being replaced by a doughnut.
  • EVE Online has a Monolith in the Dead End star system; it is at Planet 5 - Moon 5.
  • In the Caveman Chapter of Live A Live, you can find one in a hidden cave provided you do a specific action. Offering a bone to it will net the player the Basic Rock which significantly boosts IQ, can scan the HP of and also disable a target's limbs (Cannot be able to move or attack with physical skills) if used as an item
  • In Monster Rancher, there are monsters called Monols. Guess what they look like.
  • Random Monolith Like structures pop in the background of the fight against Chakravartin in Asura's Wrath.
  • In Kerbal Space Program, monoliths are scattered around the main planet and its two moons. While they are not perfectly square, they are jet black mysterious objects.
  • Tread Marks' "Moon" level has an enormous, pitch black monolith in the center of the map.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy 3 has three different kinds of Monoliths that serve as elite foes. The ones that fit this trope best are the Cosmic Monoliths, which are shaped very much like the Space Odyssey Monoliths. You probably won't last long against them.

     Webcomics 

     Web Original 
  • The blog novel Fartago is about a tribe of cavemen reacting to life since the arrival of The Monolith. Features the recurring Catch Phrase, "Since monolith come, nothing make sense!"
  • Unsurprisingly, it shows up in Kingdom of Loathing.
  • Parodied in Weebl and Bob.
  • The Protectors of the Plot Continuum have a much larger version of the monolith in the Tomb of the Unknown PPC Agent; it stretches all the way up to the ceiling, and every victim of the DIS has their name written on it in ithildin. The Tomb itself used to be DIS Central, until it was destroyed and the memorial built out of the remains.
  • Geoff Ramsey's extremely tall, windowless, smooth stone house in Let's Play Minecraft has been referred to as a monolith. It originally went up from the base of Downtown Achievement City to the height limit of 128 blocks, but when the height limit was doubled to 256 blocks, the Achievement Hunters worked together so it could reach that new limit. There is a three-part sub-series of Let's Play Minecraft episodes that covered its height expansion.

     Western Animation 
  • The Monolith appeared in an episode of Mighty Mouse involving Time Travel.
  • Appears briefly in an episode of Futurama, with an "Out of Order" sign on it.
    • As well in another episode, "The Sting", it is parodied as Fry's coffin. Leela opens it and experiences the same effects as Dave Bowman in the movie.
    • Another episode, "Mobius Dick," had it floating among other familiar, wrecked spaceships (USS Enterprise, LEM module, the space ship from the cover of ELO's album 'Out of the Blue', etc.) with a bite taken out of it.
  • An episode of The Simpsons opens with a parody of the Dawn of Man sequence. While the other apes start developing tools after making contact with the monolith, the Homer Simpson ape simply reclines on it to take a nap.
  • When Animaniacs made fun of 2001, the monolith appeared first as a television set, then as a remote.
  • Tripping the Rift has a monolith installed on a primitive world. In this case it actually contained an evil empire who used the monolith as a base of operations in order to enslave the unwitting civilization.
  • A Bonkers episode in Raw Toonage'' has him flying by a monolith who says "Dave, is that you Dave?". Bonkers replies "No, wrong movie".
  • An old Cartoon Network bumper (that usually played before Cartoon Theater) had a group of monkeys (such as Magilla Gorilla, Blip and I.R. Baboon) gathering around the Cartoon Network logo while the 2001 theme plays.

     Real Life 
  • On New Year's Day of 2001, a welded-steel monolith appeared in Seattle's Magnuson Park, with no indication where it came from or how it got there. It vanished in an equally mysterious manner three days later.
  • On New Year's Day of 2010, a similar monolith (this one made of wood and fiberboard) appeared behind Denver, Colorado's Museum of Nature and Science, with a tag reading "All these worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landings there." Unlike the Seattle Monolith, though, the perpetrators documented their efforts.
  • The University of Hawaii at Manoa's physics and astronomy building has a sculpture out in front of it, a massive metal slab with the 1:4:9 ratio. For the first year it was in place, it emitted an electronically generated pulsing sound, until people started complaining of headaches.
  • The Monolith in action figure form It's made of stars!
  • The Universal Studios building in Los Angeles looks like one of these. Harlan Ellison has remarked on several occasions that the way Universal executives behave toward people actually trying to make movies, this monolith must operate in reverse: when they come in contact with it, it lowers their intelligence.


Mona Lisa SmileStock ParodiesMr. Alt Disney
Memetic MolesterImageSource/OtherPivotal Wake-up
Staggered ZoomImageSource/Live-Action Films2010: The Year We Make Contact

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