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Apes in Space

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One small step for... ape?!
Everybody loves a Silly Simian! Even space flights!

Historically, monkeys have been sent into space alone to investigate the biological effects of space travel, and fictional monkeys have been going into fictional space ever since.

Many works take this even further and make monkeys full-fledged crewmates that travel into space along with humans (and might be the most competent persons on board).

Not to be mistaken with a Killer Space Monkey, which is a monkey that comes from space, though sometimes the two overlap when the monkey in question starts out as a Monkey in Space, and winds up returning to earth as a Killer Space Monkey.

Subtrope of Animal Occupation Stereotypes.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In an early Dylan Dog issue, a mysterious Shapeshifter from space turned out to be an ape from a secret space mission, presumed lost, which had been empowered and given intelligence by passing through a Negative Space Wedgie.
  • The Fantastic Four rogue named the Red Ghost took three primates into space with him so they could all gain superpowers from cosmic rays. Only one gains super intelligence, but they're all conditioned to be loyal to him and understand his orders.
  • Dmitri-9 from The Filth is a former Soviet cosmonaut and current assassin for The Hand. Right before his death, he gets a vision of his American counterparts commending him for being "one hell of an astronaut and one hell of an ape."
  • Titano from the Superman comics started life as an ordinary Earth ape. Rocketed into space, he and his ship were bombarded with radiation, which changed him into a giant ape with incredible strength and the ability to emit beams of Kryptonite radiation from his eyes.
  • In Top 10, former cosmonaut Alexei Glushko's housemate Tanya is a chimp who was also part of the Russian space program and wound up intelligent and telepathic in a Noodle Incident.

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Escape from the Planet of the Apes opens with an unidentified space capsule falling into the ocean near San Francisco. Three figures in space suits emerge and remove their space helmets to reveal that they are chimpanzees. Specifically, intelligent future chimpanzees whom the viewer recognizes as Dr. Zira, Dr. Cornelius, and a new character called Dr. Milo, who, we later learn, had all been sent back in time by the events of the previous film.
  • Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. had Floyd the Space Chimp, an Ape In Space who was never found after he splashed down and was stuck on the island. Robin is saved by a helicopter in the end, but he makes them go back because he considers Floyd more important than him. When he gets back, he finds out everyone agrees with that.
  • In the 2005 Russian mockumentary Pervye Na Lune (First on the Moon) various animals are shown being used for space flight tests including an ape, and even a pig fired off in a mortar shell!
  • In the "reimagining" Planet of the Apes (2001), the bipedal apes are descended from the crew of trained space monkeys that landed on the planet long ago.
  • The Rise of Skywalker has Albrekh, a chimpanzee-like alien (a Symeong according to Wookieepedia) who welds together Kylo Ren's helmet after it is broken. He looks exactly like a chimpanzee except for his pointy, Yoda-like ears. Babu Frik, another alien with a much larger role in the film, looks somewhat apelike too.

  • Robinson Crusoe on Mars. The protagonist is accompanied by one.
  • Space Cowboys in the opening prologue set in 1958, after the lead characters crash the experimental plane X-2, their "Daedalus Project" is canned and NASA publicly replaces them with chimpanzees to be sent in space. Frank is humiliatingly forced to shake hands with one of those chimps, Mary-Ann, while journalists take pictures.

  • In the Graham Oakley's The Church Mice series, a couple of scientists try to launch some of the mice in a small rocket. Thanks to Sampson the cat rewiring the controls into a more aesthetically pleasing shape (a cat) the rocket goes haywire and never leaves Earth.
  • In the original book of Forrest Gump, Forrest goes into space as part of a team that also includes a gorilla and a woman.
  • The Librarian sneaks aboard the spacecraft in The Last Hero, leading to the line: "Ankh-Morpork, we have an orangutan..."
  • The Moonbeam series of children's books, about a chimp who is caught and shipped to America to take part in the early days of the US space program.
  • In the original book of Planet of the Apes, there was an ape which traveled with the astronauts to the eponymous planet. The regressed humans there killed it. The spacefarers who picked up the message in a bottle from the human astronauts were in fact evolved apes.
  • Space monkeys show up in Rendezvous with Rama. Called “simps”, short for “superchimps” despite not actually being chimpanzees, they’re genetically engineered monkey hybrids trained to do all the routine scutwork of flying a spaceship, such as housekeeping and maintenance, while the human astronauts get on with science. On the plus side, simps are smaller and have fewer supply needs than humans while doing almost three times the work, are perfectly well-behaved, and can even understand speech and communicate in sign language; on the minus side they have an IQ of 60 and are therefore useless for anything more complicated than simple, routine tasks, such as emergencies.
  • As well as Monkeys in Space, mice were also used. Parodied in Test Rocket by Jack Douglas, when a mouse is put into a Retro Rocket and launched at another planet. Six months later the inhabitants send back their own rocket with a human in it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Goodies. In "Invasion of the Moon Creatures", the Goodies send rabbits into space instead of monkeys. This turns out to be a bad idea as the rabbits breed like rabbits and a generation of super-intelligent bunnies return to take over the Earth.
  • During the host segments for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode covering The Space Children, Pearl Forrester decides to belatedly enter The Space Race using the simian Professor Bobo as an unenthusiastic "volunteer" The episode ends without Bobo actually making it to space, though - he got out of the rocket to get a snack just before the countdown started, leaving the unmanned (well, unaped) rocket to crash back onto Castle Forrester.
    Pearl: The way I figure it, I got a monkey, why not build a space program around that monkey?
  • In the Quantum Leap episode "The Wrong Stuff", Sam leaps into a prospective "chimp-onaut" named Bobo who risks being taken off the space program and used in a fatal helmet-testing experiment.


    Pro Wrestling 
  • In 2015, the high flying simian Space Monkey became the favorite wrestler of Tommaso Chiampa and favorite tag team partner of Cheeseburger.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Eclipse Phase takes place in a Colonized Solar System where all the species of great ape have been uplifted. Their hand-like feet are pretty useful in zero-gravity.
  • Rocketmen: The Mars faction are an entire race of green skinned space gorillas.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has the Jokaero, orangutang-like Gadgeteer Geniuses. Inquisitors sometimes have one on their retinue due to their skill with making concealed weapons.

    Video Games 
  • Yuri from Awesomenauts. A test monkey for the Soviet side of the space race in the 1960s, his rocket was lost to a temporal anomaly that boosted his intelligence to super levels and sent him into the future. Now he's a sadistic mad scientist with a jetpack with an A.I. that translates his screeches.
  • Fallout 3 features pre-War ads for Captain Cosmos, "co-starring Jangles, the Moon Monkey!". Given what we are told about the show and how the ads look, Jangles appears to have been the sidekick of the titular space-traveller. Jangles makes an appearance of sorts in Fallout 4 as a plush toy with a rather frightening smile/grimace.
  • Her Majesty's Spiffing: Of the two French astronauts that Captain Frank Lee English and Aled Jones meet on the planet, one of them is a gorilla in a spacesuit named Pierre.
  • The astronaut monkey Enos in JumpStart Adventures 6th Grade: Mission Earthquest. As a brief Hand Wave, the game mentions that the human astronauts are currently on strike.
  • In Kirby Mass Attack, some gorilla-like enemies haul a next level-opening switch onto a spaceship and take off with it. To retrieve the switch, the Kirbys must infiltrate the apes' terrestrial headquarters, find their super secret spaceship blueprints, and assemble their own functioning starship. The advanced technology is remarkable considering it is all researched, planned, and built by some mooks who die in one and a half seconds of pounding.
  • The background lore of Overwatch mentions an entire lunar colony of gorillas that rebelled against their human masters and took over by force. Winston is the only one of these apes to return to Earth.
  • Team Fortress 2: In the supplementary material, a monkey named Poopy Joe is sent up into space (and because this is Team Fortress 2, it didn't end well for poor Poopy). This was later turned into a game mode where both teams compete to be the one to deliver a package to Poopy Joe's doomed rocket ship.
    The Announcer: Oh no... gentlemen, this never happened.
  • The character Congar from War of the Monsters is revealed to have been one of these, before a UFO crashes into his rocket and exposes him to the alien fuel, which then mutates and grows him into a towering gorilla upon reentry.

  • Freefall mentions that chimpanzees have been uplifted, but initially none appear on screen — there weren't many of them and they were all sociopaths, so the project was canceled. As of Feb. 28th, 2014, a chimp has appeared, and he's the creator of several Uplifted Animal and robot characters.
  • Schlock Mercenary: Gorillas and Chimps have been uplifted and are full members of society. The protagonist mercenary company has several apes among their number.

    Western Animation 
  • Among the inhabitants of All Hail King Julien's Madagascar is a colony of Russian cosmonaut chimps who crashed there.
  • Boris, the Russian space chimp, from the Brandy & Mr. Whiskers episode "To the Moon, Whiskers".
  • An episode of Brandy & Mr. Whiskers had a Russian astronaut monkey named Boris crash into the jungle where the protagonists live.
  • Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys is about a test chimp who fell through a space rift and got uplifted by aliens, who then gave him a starship and abducted a few other apes and monkeys to serve as his crew.
  • Curious George has visited space at least once under the watch of Dr. Wiseman and her coworkers.
  • In an episode of Dial M For Monkey, Monkey battles Simion, supposedly the first monkey in space, who became highly intelligent after an accident during his mission exposed him to radiation.
  • In the Family Guy episode "E. Peterbus Unum", Chris is the head of Petoria's space program. When his attempt to (literally) reach the moon by climbing a tree ends in him falling quite a distance, he mutters "They should really use monkeys for this."
  • The Johnny Bravo episode "Bravo 13" sees Johnny blunder into a space mission along with a chimpanzee partner, who, naturally, subsequently is the only competent person on board.
  • Kim Possible has the episode "Monkey Ninjas in Space", in which we have NASA monkeys, ninja monkeys and monkey-human hybrids who want to Take Over the World from space due to some inaccurate prophecy.
  • This would have been played straight in The Penguins of Madagascar episode "Operation: Swap-panzee" with Phil the chimpanzee selected for a space flight to the moon, but he was swapped last minute with Private. But he's wearing a monkey suit though.
  • In Planet Sheen, Sheen befriends Nesmith, a chimp stranded on Zeenu after his ship crashed.
  • Robot Chicken has a sketch centered around this trope, complete with a backing track.
  • The basic concept of Rocket Monkeys is about two incompetent monkey astronauts being sent on space missions.
  • The Simpsons: According to "Deep Space Homer", NASA's chimp(s) came back super-intelligent, but they're pulling strings so the general public doesn't find out... partly because one of the heads of NASA is one of these chimps.
  • Space Ghost has Blip the monkey.
  • The version of Titano from Superman: The Animated Series was one of these, based on the Silver Age comic version minus the Kryptonite vision.
  • One episode of The Tick was a "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome plot focused on a chimpanzee who became super-intelligent after blasting into space.
  • In the "Space Monkey" episode of Top Cat, the feline heroes help a monkey astronaut by sending his rocket into his home Africa.
  • The very last shot of Wander over Yonder (setting up a third season that wouldn't come) heavily implies that Lord Hater was once an American ape astronaut.

    Real Life