Donkey Kong franchise in general
- Dork Age: After Nintendo sold off Rare in 2002. The franchise struggled in finding a new identity for itself. Donkey Kong stopped starring in platform games and went into quirky spinoff titles that while they have their share of fans, were unimpressive and lacked memorability. It came to an end in 2010, when Retro Studios took over and developed Donkey Kong Country Returns, which was was released to wide acclaim and brought in a new legion of DK fans.
- Ensemble Darkhorse: Stanley has a bit of a fanbase despite his obscurity.
- My Real Daddy:
- Rare is generally considered to be the true shaper of the Donkey Kong franchise for introducing DK's unique supporting cast, setting, and enemies, as otherwise the original games would have been a footnote in the history of the Mario series.
- While the fans have not forgotten Rare even after their buyout by Microsoft, they have also embraced Retro Studios as a "second" daddy for their work on Donkey Kong Country Returns and winning back the fandom for the then-suffering franchise.
- Sequelitis: Donkey Kong 3 switched up the gameplay from a platformer to a shooter, and replaced Mario with an exterminator named Stanley. It ended up being far less popular than its predecessors, so Nintendo focused on the increasingly popular Mario Bros. game instead.
The original arcade game
- Accidental Innuendo: "HOW HIGH CAN YOU GET?"
- Cult Classic: Despite largely being overshadowed by later games in both the Mario and Donkey Kong series, the original 1981 game continues to be played competitively for world records; the latest world record as of this writing was set in May of 2016.
- Designated Villain: It's All There in the Manual that Mario is Donkey Kong's abusive master.
- Fandom Berserk Button: Go ahead and say that the girl in the original game is Peach. I dare ya. Not helped by Peach actually replacing Pauline in the Modern version of the G&W version in Game & Watch Gallery 2.
- Follow the Leader: The game was endlessly ripped off by other Japanese games companies, both straight clones and also variations - one of which, the 3D-isometric Congo Bongo, was foreshadowing-ly made by Sega. It also had home version clones, one of which was Miner 2049er.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The original appears to be more popular in the U.S. than in its home country of Japan. Nearly all of the notable world records are set by Americans, and not a single one by a Japanese player.
- More Popular Spin-off: The entire Super Mario Bros. series, and to a lesser extent but more obviously, Donkey Kong Country.
- Nightmare Fuel: In Donkey Kong 3, when Stanley loses a life, all the enemy bugs on the screen swarm his lifeless body, and when they leave, nothing is left but his spray bottle. This only appears in the arcade version.
- Porting Disaster: The Intellivision version with its blocky graphics, limited number of screens, and terrible controls. So bad that it was purposely blocked from being played on the updated Intellivision II by its hardware. Carl Mueller Jr. created an updated version with better graphics, more screens, and even additional characters you can play as.
- Sequel Displacement: Many people born in modern times think that Mario debuted with Super Mario Bros. 1. Likewise, there exists a small group of people who think, or at least once thought, that Donkey Kong made his debut in Donkey Kong Country. Technically they're right, but it was the current Donkey Kong, with the original Donkey Kong debuting as Cranky Kong.
- Spiritual Licensee: The original arcade game was created after Nintendo failed to license Popeye.
- Suspiciously Similar Song: The music played during Kong's initial climbing resembles the theme from Dragnet. The music while Mario is swinging a hammer less closely resembles Rocky's theme.