"Sometimes we do awful things in our lives, even if we don't know it. Sometimes the only proof that we've made mistakes - terrible mistakes the UNIVERSE ITSELF punishes us for - is that we look around and find we're playing...Monopoly."
Parker Brothers claims the 1930s as the creation date of its signature board game Monopoly (and says Charles Darrow, who patented it in 1935, invented the game). Players receive $1,500 in starting cash, then roll dice to move their tokens around the board, where they may land on property squares, Chance squares, Community Chest squares, and even Free Parking. The goal is to bankrupt all the other players by buying, improving, and collecting rent on various properties.Properties make up the cornerstone of the game. If a player lands on an unsold property square, they may buy the property at its listed price. If they decline, the property is sold at auction to the highest bidder. (Neglecting to do this is not only one of the most unintentionally followed House Rules, but extends the length of the game considerably.) When a player lands on a property square owned by another player, he must pay the listed rent on the property deed to whoever owns it (players face no charge for landing on their own properties). Should a player collect all the properties in a specific color group, they may build houses and hotels on those properties. Buildings dramatically increase the amount of rent players have to pay for landing on their spaces — landing on Boardwalk when it has a Hotel often bankrupts the unfortunate soul who lands there. Between turns, players have the option to broker trades for money, properties, Get Out of Jail Free cards, or any combination thereof with other players.Chance and Community Chest cards can award the player money, take it away, or whisk him off to another square (including Jail). Free Parking varies wildly based on House Rules; it either serves as a "blank" square, awards a player cash from the bank, or does something in the middle of those two extremes. Passing or landing on the starting "Go" square during a turn will award a player $200. Oh, and the Jail square exists, too. If a player lands on Jail, they don't go there (the board has "Just Visiting" printed just below the Jail cell) — but if a player rolls doubles three times in a row, lands on the "Go to Jail" square, or draws a "Go to Jail" card from Chance or Community Chest, then a player must "Go to Jail. Go Directly to Jail. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200." A player can either pay $50, use a "Get out of Jail Free" Card, or use a turn in an attempt to roll for doubles to get out of Jail (if the doubles attempt fails three times in a row, a player must pay $50 and move according to the final roll).The board also contains two utilities (Electric Company and Water Works) as well as four railroads (the B&O, the Pennsylvania, the Reading, and the Short Line). Players who own both utilities or more than one railroad can collect raised rent from players, but cannot build on these properties.The original version of Monopoly named the colored properties after streets in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Foreign versions of the game rename the properties after local features and use the local currency (London, for example, has Mayfair [a very high-end residential area] take up the £400 slot).Because of the customizable nature of the game, there is a Monopoly variant for virtually every concept you can imagine: cities, universities, sports teams, fictional properties, you name it, including Grateful Deadopoly,The Simpsons, a 'Vegas' version with a green felt board, wood paneling, and gold and silver pieces, and a "Gayopoly" with a triangular board and real-life gay bars and coffee shops from all over the US as properties. See Themed Stock Board Game.A lawsuit over the game Anti-Monopoly that lasted from 1976 to 1985 revealed inaccuracies about Parker Brothers' story behind the game's creation: Elizabeth Magie applied for the first patent on a game similar to Monopoly in 1904, at least 30 years before Charles Darrow applied for his patent on the game. When Darrow first approached game manufacturers about publishing the game, they rejected it by sending him a letter claiming "52 fundamental errors" existed in the game. Undaunted, Darrow manufactured his own sets and sold them himself — and he often sold out each run he made. Parker Brothers decided to publish Monopoly only after it had heard of the game's success.In 1990, Merv Griffin produced a twelve-episode MonopolyGame Show for ABC as a companion for Super Jeopardy!. Michael Reilly, a former Jeopardy! contestant, served as the host.Doing a pub crawl based on the London board layout has become a popular drinking activity — and a quick way to get drunk.The game only has an indirect relation to the other kind of monopoly.
This board game contains examples of the following tropes:
All There in the Script: According to The Monopoly Companion, Rich Uncle Pennybags' full name is Milburn Pennybags (Mr. Monopoly itself is a Red Baron), the guy in jail is called Jake the Jailbird, and the police officer who takes you to jail is named Officer Edgar Mallory.
Announcer Chatter: The version on the current generation's consoles has Uncle Pennybags narrating every action in the game. Not too bad, but his lines can get really repetitive. Fun fact: you can hit Y to cut him off.
Said chattering also includes a few bits of Lampshade Hanging over some things, such as the probability of landing on one set of properties:
ESPECIALLY in the Super NES version, where it is common to see a computer player willingly trade away a property from a complete set for something asinine like a railroad they don't need...and then one turn later, try to get it BACK.
Monopoly 2 (Japan only) ironed out this problem somewhat. After a few rounds, the CPU opponents start trading with each other like mad; however, the AI is more reluctant to trade a property which will grant you a monopoly. Also, there will always be one Smug Snake among the four who is a total dick.
In some versions of the game, computer players will make you the same offer EVERY TURN, no matter how many times you've refused. Or, if you place a trade offer, the PSP Mini version's AI will always alter the deal to include ALL the money you currently possess.
The NES version lets the player make offers on the AI's properties, which the AI will agree to a certain percentage of the time based on the amount of the offer. However, since there's no limit to how many times a player can make an offer per term, it's easy to get the computer to hand over properties for next to nothing.
Practically no one ever lands on Boardwalk or Park Place. Besides, you need a steady cash flow before you can even develop the blues. That being said, if they are developed at least somewhat, and a couple of players are unlucky enough to land on them, you can go from worst to first in a hurry.
The Green properties are even worse in this regard. High rents, and a powerful group if you can get them developed...but they cost more to fully develop than any other color group in the game (the Dark Blue properties cost less to fully develop because there are only two of them), and they are in the shadow of the Go To Jail space, making them less likely to be landed on than many of the lower-priced color groups before it.
It's a waste of money to buy Utilities (at least at full price). Railroads are also a money drain unless you manage to snag all four.
The earlier artwork for the "Bank pays you dividend of $50" card showed Uncle Pennybags leaning back in his chair and blowing a smoke ring with a cigar. Around the mid 90s, the cigar was changed to him tossing up a handful of money (but the pose remained the same).
In Monopoly Junior, "jail" is replaced by "lunch", or "restrooms" depending on the version. Justified in that that game is set in an amusement park.
Statistically, in a long-run scenario, the light purple, orange, and red sets have the highest chances of being landed on. Someone just coming out of jail (the most-visited square, as there are four separate ways to end up there) has a high chance of landing on at least one of these properties.
The famous "3-house" strategy used by tournament players. The value of your property jumps significantly when you reach the 3-House mark. A devious player will ignore Hotels entirely. (See "The Plan")
Cardboard Prison: Whenever you go to Jail, you can get out for just $50, or rolling a double. Or use a card.
Cherry Tapping: Can happen quite by accident and to hilarious effect. Example: You've just had a REALLY unlucky run of the board. You've landed on pretty much every rent trap the other players have lined up. ALL your properties are mortgaged. You have $1 left. You manage to end up in jail, so you're at least safe for a few turns...right? Except that on your very next turn, you roll snake eyes. You wind up on Electric Company. It isn't yours. Bye-bye!
Even more ironic if the owner of said Electric Company is on the brink of elimination himself. If your assets are depleted enough, it is possible to go bankrupt by bankrupting another player, because you inherit all their mortgaged properties and immediately owe an interest payment to the bank.
Exact Words: Used by the sneakiest of players whenever possible. Playing with the House Rule that states landing on Go nets double salary? Plan to take $400 when you get a Chance card that says "Land on Go, collect $200"? Fat chance, it specifically tells you to collect $200, not $400.
Fictional Currency: Possibly the Trope Codifier, depending on how you define the term. Spinoffs like Monopoly City use "monos" (a takeoff on Euros), making an unambiguous use of the trope; also, licensed versions for non-English-speaking countries sometimes use their own names, such as the German Spielmark ("play mark"). "Monopoly Money" is a regular euphemism for buying things with counterfeit money or simply with money you don't have.
House Rules: If you're playing by the official game rules, nothing happens on Free Parking. Coming up with a use for it is one of the more popular house rules of any board game.
Most house rules for Free Parking involve some kind of monetary reward; for example, setting aside any money lost due to the two tax spaces, Chance or Community Chest and making that the Free Parking prize. The official game rules actively discourage using Free Parking for this purpose, since the more money there is in play, the more difficult it is to force other players into bankruptcy. And games take long enough as it is. A possible solution offered by a number of online sites is to also add a win condition for reaching a certain amount of capital.
Another house rule happens to relate to the houses (or, specifically, hotels). Officially, if there is a house shortage, no property with a hotel can be mortgaged until the housing shortage is taken care of. A common house rule is to permit the skipping of houses in the building cycle in both directions, provided that the player can afford 4 houses on all properties AND THEN the hotel for each one.
The most frequently ignored official rule is this: if you decline to purchase a property that you landed on, it is supposed to be immediately put up to auction for anyone to buy. Most house rules simply declare a turn to be over if this happens, skipping the auction process.
This rule, more than any other, (even Free Parking = Cash Bonus) is responsible for Monopoly's reputation as a glacially-slow exercise in tedium. The faster the properties are bought up, the faster the real game (i.e. the trading) can get started. Ironically, most people enact this rule because the auction process sounds tedious.
There used to be rules on the web of a two-board variant called Mafia Monopoly that required four players minimum, with each board being home turf to a gang. Unfortunately Executive Meddling by Hasbro resulted in the rules being removed from the web.
There's a house rule that forbids buying property until you've completed one lap round the board (intended to Nerf the obvious massive advantages of going first), which can prove frustrating if you keep on landing in Jail and never getting anywhere.
Joisey: The default (and official tournament) board is based on Atlantic City.
Lethal Joke Weapon: Those first two properties (either purple or brown, depending on revision) are capable of getting you $450 rent, once hotels are on them. Most video game adaptations that allow the salary to be changed cap it at $400.
Metagame: Unsurprisingly, for a game of such age and popularity, it has a rather thriving one. A large part of this is due to the official rules, which state that anything can be part of a trade as long as all parties involved in the trade agree to it. The implications, in the hands of the creative, can be downright absurd, silly, or devious.
One of the first things to nail down is who gets what piece. Expect fights for the car, battleship, and top hat; while some have to settle for the iron or the thimble.
Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: Staying in Jail is actually a good late-game strategy. If you're not moving around the board, you can't land on your opponent's houses and hotels. They can still land on yours, though. That said, you get kicked out after three turns. There are some house rules built to fix this, however, by having the jailed players not able to trade, and if anyone was to land on a jailed person's space, they don't have to pay them.
Officer O'Hara: The Sega Genesis and SNES versions plays a speech-clip of an Irish policeman whenever you get out of jail: "Don'cha be comin' back here, now!"
The Plan and/or Magnificent Bastard: Another Gambit involves never upgrading houses to hotels. Each property can have up to four houses on it (which can then all be traded back to the bank for a hotel) — but there are only 32 houses in a Monopoly set. If they are all on the board, no one can build houses until someone sells the houses back or trades them in for a hotel; nor can they skip houses and go straight to hotels, for that matter. It's All There in the Manual, and called a "Housing Shortage."
In tournament play, however, if you want to break hotels down to houses to create a shortage, other players get the opportunity to buy houses before you. This is an Obvious Rule Patch implemented to make it more difficult for a player to "back into" a housing shortage. This is why not upgrading to hotels is the preferred strategy.
Poison Mushroom: The "Take a walk on the Boardwalk" card can be this. The most infamous example occurred at the 1980 tourney in New York. Read it and weep.
Playing the trope straighter are the "Go directly to Jail" and "Pay such-and-such amount of money" cards.
Ridiculous Future Inflation: Inverted, as the prices are still the same as they were in 1932. Boardwalk (Mayfair in the British version), the most expensive property, can be yours for a mere $400 (£400). This also applies to all the weird Monopoly variants mentioned in Recycled Premise.
The variant "Monopoly — Here and Now: The World (and U.S.) Edition(s)" plays this straight, though; every $100 in Monopoly money is worth M1 million "monos" (the "mono" being a Fictional Counterpart of the euro, down to the stylized letter representing the currency).
Post-2008 editions of "classic" US game upped the luxury tax from $75 to a whopping $100. They also changed Income Tax to a flat $200, as opposed to a choice between that and 10% of your assetsnote your on-hand cash, the face value of all your properties, and what you spent building houses and/or hotels. The 10% only made sense early in the game (if a player lands there on his/her first turn for instance, $150 is the payment since each player starts with $1500; on average, a player gains about $170 in assets every circuit of the board), or if a player was nearing elimination anyway.
Rouge Angles of Satin: The correct spelling of the housing area just south of Atlantic City is Marven Gardens. Monopoly's spelling is considerably better known. In 1995, Parker Brothers issued a formal apology for misspelling the name for the past sixty years, but elected to keep the "Marvin Gardens" spelling.
Rule of Symbolism: The original tokens. The car, battleship, horseman, cannon, and terrier represented the rich; the wheelbarrow, iron, thimble, and boot represented hard work.
Serious Business: At least one game of Monopoly you play in your life will devolve into an argument about the rules, and then into an argument about who lost the rule sheet. And let's not get started on Tournament Play...
It is now the turn of each player to explain their theory as to how the person who goes first should be decided. While the game rules stipulate a simple dice roll contest, anyone citing this will be told that they are wrong, and that a different rule is correct. You may see some of the following expounded, typically by the person who would benefit the most from them: Youngest goes first; oldest goes first; people born during a seasonal equinox go first; a fight; all the money is thrown in the air and whoever grabs the most goes first, like in The Crystal Maze ; the last person to kill themselves while Phil Collins’ “Sussudio” is on an infinite loop goes first.
Spin-Off: At first, there was only Star Wars Monopoly, but thanks to the USAopoly company, there are: Nintendo Monopoly, Simpsons Monopoly, Family Guy Monopoly, Pokémonopoly, John Deere Monopoly, Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl Champions Monopoly, Scooby-Doo Monopoly...
There are two main lines: Most "<blank> Monopoly" games are officially licensed by Parker Brothers, while most "<blank>opoly" games are unlicensed and made by Late For The Sky.
There's also "Make-Your-Own-Opoly," a kit which allows you to print out personalized street names and other details for a customized, one-of-a-kind game.
Unstable Equilibrium: The original game designer, Elizabeth Magie, deliberately used this to make her point. See also: the entry for An Aesop. To wit: Have you ever played someone who, once they got a lead, started swiftly and utterly annihilating his/her opponents? How that player starts making horribly one-sided deals and started charging outrageous rents? You remember how frustrated you got? How helpless you felt, knowing that you now had no chance of winning? How you wanted to flip the board over in a pique of anger and shout at the player for being so cruel? That's the whole point of the game. You're supposed to be angry at how badly those with loads of money can screw over those without.
Violation of Common Sense: Being sent to jail usually means you cannot progress on the board until you are set free, which means you can't attempt to buy unsold properties or get a chance at picking up a Chance or Community Chest card. However, most players are savvy enough to know that once someone acquires a lot of properties and starts building houses and/or hotels on them, going to jail frequently means you can waste turns sitting in jail and avoiding the risk of landing on an opponent's properties. Of course, it's not easy to get sent to jail directly due to the randomness of the dice and cards.
In tournament play, this is a very common and very advantageous strategy due to the addition of the third die: rolling triples allows you to go to any space on the board that you wish. World Championships have been won by players whose final play was voluntarily going directly to jail (presumably wearing shades with their feet up resting on the bars) and just waiting for their opponent to go bankrupt.
Whammy: Depending on the board conditions, getting the Property Assessment, "Advance to Boardwalk" or "Advance to Illinois Ave." cards can instantly cripple you, or knock you out of the game completely.
Monopoly references in various other media include:
In the Red Dwarf novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, Lister wakes up on Mimas [one of the moons of Saturn] after a Monopoly pub crawl around London, which ultimately ends up in him joining the ship.
Red Dwarf Magazine followed several groups of fans replicating the "Monopoly board pub crawl". None apparently ended up in a foreign country, though.
Tim Moore wrote a travel book called Do Not Pass GO, involving a trip around London based on the board.
Ace: Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. And you must be the Monopoly guy...(leans in, whispering) Thanks for the free parking.
In Nethack, it is (unsurprisingly) possible to die on the very first turn, without making a single move. If this happens, you are told "Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 zorkmids."
Referenced in an episode of The Simpsons where oil is found under the school and Burns wants to buy it out.
Burns: I have a monopoly to maintain. I own the Electric Company and the Water Works. Plus the hotel on Baltic Avenue!
Skinner: That hotel is a dump and your monopoly is pathetic.
The Simpson family also owns several variant Monopoly boards, including "Edna Krabappelly". Their attempt to play ends in domestic violence.
Also, in an early episode when Homer saves the plant from a meltdown, Bart plays Monopoly with Maggie in which he draws cards until he finds a "second place beauty contest" card.
One city hall meeting scene sees Uncle Pennybags sitting right next to Mr. Burns. But he soon bails, saying he's late for a ride on the Short Line [railroad].
In Snoopy Come Home, Charlie Brown, Lucy, Schroeder and Linus play Monopoly. Lucy taunts Charlie Brown because she has both Boardwalk and Park Place; Chuck ends up landing on 'Go to Jail'. Lucy then lands on one of Schroeder's Green properties—specifically, Pacific Avenue—with hotels, no less. (The rent Schroeder asks, $1275, is accurate to a hotel on Pacific.)
Tom Lehrer gets in on it, too, in "We Will All Go Together When We Go":
You will all report directly to your respective Valhallas
Go directly, do not pass "Go", do not collect 200 dollahs...
The Forbes Museum in New York houses all of Malcolm Forbes' eclectic collections, including dozens of Monopoly variants and first print editions. It also includes a special one, printed for his birthday, where all the tiles on the board correspond to the actual companies and properties he owned.
In Spin City, one of a series of questions Carter asks to see how well Stuart knows him is which playing piece he always uses in Monopoly (it's the shoe).
Real Life: The boardwalk in Atlantic City has signs shaped like the various spaces which indicate where some of the streets are. There is also a fair amount of information about Monopoly in the Atlantic City History Museum, at the north end of the boardwalk.
Calvin and Hobbes had them playing it in several strips, but with their own Calvinball-like rules. For example, Calvin once robbed the bank, causing Hobbes to dump all twelve Hotels on Baltic.
In the Gumby short "Kid Brother Kids", two of the cowboys at the ice cream salon are shown playing Monopoly just before Gumby and his band start their concert.
In the Cheers episode "The Art Of The Steal," Norm brings a copy of the game to the bar to teach Woody about economics, and it shows general elements in playing the game, such as:
Choosing who plays what (Frasier gets the racecar because he can imitate the car the best, while Cliff gets the thimble with no argument),
Properties (Woody buys a railroad, then puts a house on it),
And lost pieces (Norm is the lead pipe from Clue, there are pieces from Candyland and a Chinese Checker, and they use a giant pair of dice).
Ozy and Millie: Avery plays Monopoly to win. Timulty just enjoys reminding everyone that he's playing as the hat.
Comedian Dane Cook has a few Monopoly-related jokes.
Growing up the youngest of 7 children, he got last pick of the Monopoly pieces. Since his parents were also playing, and there are only 8 pieces, he would use the knife from Clue.
He also notes that almost every Monopoly game anyone plays usually ends like this:
"Fuck this game! It's four in the morning, grandma; YOU WIN! I'm sitting on Baltic with crap! And where did you get the pink fifties, you cheating whore? Don't touch me, grandpa, nana is a CHEATING WHORE! And I should cut your head off with this little doggy!"
According to Dinosaur Comics, Monopoly is how the universe punishes truly awful mistakes. Its object is "to fully explore the sensations of boredom, sorrow and rage." Everyone wins. (Unless you're the actual winner, in which case "your prize is watching friendships die, turn by endless turn.")
We'll make a man of him Put him to trade Teach him to play Monopoly And to sing in the rain
In the That '70s Show episode "Cat Fight Club", the characters play Monopoly. Jackie is winning, and she happily notes that it's just like real life - she's the richest.
In Irregular Webcomic!, it's joked that Monopoly is actually a weapon for the (somewhat inept) Martian invasion, intended to disrupt friendships and waste time.
In the annotations for the same strip, the creator launches into a uncharacteristically vitriolic rant about the game, expressing a deep, deep hatred for it and disbelief that something that spits in the face of good gaming design still makes so much money.
The title character in Arthur Christmas buys a Christmas-themed variant of the game as a gift for his quarrelsome family. They don't manage to play it too well, since Arthur's dad (Santa Claus), grandfather (retired Santa), and older brother (heir apparent to the Santa post) all fight over who gets to be the Santa piece.
Played in universe in Only Fools And Horses. Some jokes include Del owning everything on the board, Rodney getting annoyed and throwing the board off the table and Grandad saying he doesn't want to stay in a hotel next to a waterworks and isn't paying.
In The Brady Bunch episode where all 6 kids get the measles, there's a scene where four of them are playing Monopoly.