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Curious as a Monkey

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Something caught this little monkey's attention...
"Oh, what's that? What is that? Ohh, that thing has numbers on it! Hey, look at that thing. No, that other thing."
The Curiosity Core, Portal

A character, usually a child, who is always monkeying with things to see how they fit together, or work, what they are made of, or what they can do. (Always in total innocence.) Generally found with assorted parts of a now-out-of-commission machine scattered about his feet. Or attempting to find out what the Big Red Button does. Or poking the Disaster Dominoes. Truth in Television for anyone who's seen the aftermath of a bored six-year-old with any form of tool.

Hilarity Ensues.

Even for this person, Curiosity Is a Crapshoot, but generally turns out well... for the monkey, at least. The Fool often displays these traits when he isn't an Idiot Hero: given their ability to throw a Spanner in the Works of even the most well-oiled machine, they can sometimes become an Invincible Incompetent Accidental Hero throwing the Clock King's perfectly planned scheme into smoking rubble simply by asking the wrong questions and pulling levers to see what they do. This form of the trope can sometimes be Truth in Television for gamers who accidentally discover Easy Level Tricks by poking at the scenery and AI.

Usually the Cheerful Child, and often a Wide-Eyed Idealist when given deeper character development. The Smart Guy, Gadgeteer Genius, or Wrench Wench can show signs of this in the presence of machinery although they usually do less damage. (She may even improve it!) In more cynical works or when used for plot development, a curious monkey can be an Unwitting Instigator of Doom, because they have to know what exactly IS in the box they aren't supposed to open. An excellent way to justify a Nice Job Breaking It, Hero moment, and especially common in the cosmic horror genre.

Compare with the Constantly Curious, who ask questions for the same reason. A character Curious As A Monkey tends to be a less persistent nuisance, but makes trouble on a much grander scale. Sometimes, they overlap, when the child has moments of acting like either.

Contrast Little Jimmy, who has no characterization except his ignorance. Compare/contrast Lethally Stupid and Too Dumb to Live who act out of stupidity rather than curiosity, and are far more likely to get themselves and everyone around them killed. The Lethal Klutz does the same thing by accident—God help you if this one overlaps with Curious As A Monkey. For actual monkeys fooling around, see Silly Simian and/or Mischief-Making Monkey.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Bleach, of all people, Senbonzakura, Byakuya's Zanpakuto is revealed to be this, childishly pressing any button in sight. The difference between Senbonzakura and Byakuya is noted, though it was pointed out that Byakuya acts exactly the same! Just hides that side better.
  • Yokoi from Tonari no Seki-kun is a teenager who gets involved in every game she has on sight. She wants to be a regular student, but the titular character, Seki, got enough talent to suck her in absolutely every time.

    Comic Books 
  • This is the defining trait of Beastbox in Transformers: Generation 1, who lacks a proper robot mode and instead has a gorilla as his primary form. He's naturally curious, like an ape... but he's also easily angered and frustrated. This doesn't help him in his job as an interrogator; there isn't an Autobot who has made it out of a session with Beastbox alive.
  • Calvin in several Calvin and Hobbes strips. He throws water on his dad to test his dad's reflexes, drops an expensive compass out of a tree to study gravity, and considers wetting his pants while wearing winter clothes just so he can know how astronauts feel when they go in their suits.
  • Bode from Locke & Key is constantly exploring and messing with things (and, consequently, getting into trouble). This is actually plot-relevant because the Keys seem to be actually attracted to him - he finds more Keys by himself than any other character. And he always promptly starts trying to figure out what kind of cool thing this one does.
  • Deconstructed by the minor Batman villain Humpty Dumpty, who had an obsession with dismantling and reassembling objects. This included the gears in an active clock tower, and his own abusive grandmother.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In the Beachcomber columns, this is the chief characteristic of Charlie Suet. He is invariably sacked from any job he gets because he can't resist taking things apart to see how they work, with disastrous consequences.
  • Curious George is the Trope Namer. His sense of curiosity always leads him and his caretaker, The Man in the Yellow Hat, on adventures throughout the city where they live.
  • The Vorkosigan Saga: Miles Vorkosigan as a child. Cordelia complains at one point that she didn't even know that a certain machine could come apart.
  • The protagonist of "The Caves and the Cockatrice" by E. Nesbit:
    His inquiring mind led him to take clocks to pieces to see what made them go, to take locks off doors to see what made them stick. It was Edmund who cut open the India rubber ball to see what made it bounce, and he never did see, any more than you did when you tried the same experiment.
  • In Please Don't Eat the Daisies by Jean Kerr, this is the defining trait of one of the children, a toddler who could "take apart the toaster with a wooden spoon and a drying pan".
  • Skysong (Kitten), a young dragon, from Tamora Pierce's The Immortals series can be this. While on one hand Skysong stayed at a political discussion over exploring a capital city (apparently very interested); Skysong has also been known to open locks to see what is behind them, and was describes as "like a bear in your wardrobe, except a bear doesn't have magic to open locks" if her curiosity is not satisfied.
  • Everything's Better With Elves: Sal has shades of this, especially in the prequel, "If You Give an Elf a Cookie".

  • Monkey See, Monkey Do, a song by Eddie Turner, an American blues rock guitarist.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The kender in Dragonlance want to investigate everything. Since they also don't understand the concept of personal property beyond a very superficial level, "investigating" tends to at best be easily mistaken for and at worst a be a euphemism for "stealing."
  • The Curious disadvantage in GURPS. It overlaps with Constantly Curious, but the presence of this trope — the description explicitly says that a character with the disadvantage will be the one who presses buttons to find out what they do — is the main reason why it's a disadvantage.

    Video Games 
  • The 19-year-old magician Owyn from Betrayal at Krondor, with anything concerning magic.
  • In Dicey Dungeons, the Inventor peppers Lady Luck with questions during her intro, and her gameplay revolves around her taking things apart and making them into new gadgets to play with. Her level select quotes revolve around her asking questions about how the dungeon physically works.
  • GLaDOS' Curiosity Core from Portal will constantly ask the player to investigate everything they see.
  • Sheep from Sheep, Dog 'n' Wolf just can't resist stepping on a button when they see one, just to see what happens.
  • In Star Sweep, upon hearing Funga tell her to keep out of the jungle, Tia becomes determined to see what's beyond him and challenges him to a match.


    Western Animation 
  • Dee Dee from Dexter's Laboratory. "OOOOOH! What Does This Button Do?" Her nearly suicidal behaviour around Dexter's inventions is a constant source of drama in the series.
  • Kaeloo: Violasse is a curious child who keeps getting into dangerous situations because she can't resist the urge to explore, which is made worse by the fact that she has terrible luck. In her debut episode she falls into a portal and when Stumpy goes to rescue her, he keeps begging her to just stay where she is so he can go get her and take her home, but she keeps finding new portals to jump into for the sake of exploring and has several near-death experiences from which she is only saved by her Good Luck Charm.
  • Entrapta in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is probably only still alive because she's the greatest living expert on First One technology. While rescuing Adora in "No Princess Left Behind", she keeps wandering off to look at Fright Zone robots in the middle of the battle, and once that leads to her being left behind, she breaks into Hordak's lab to find the tool she needs to continue her research and only survives because while she's there she fixes a problem Hordak was having with the machine he was working on.

    Real Life 
  • Monkeys. Never, ever leave one unattended in your house. Hence the expression, "curious as a monkey".
  • Many species of parrots and macaws are very curious, but Kea Parrots are particularly (in)famous for investigating everything they see. Known as "Clowns of the Mountains", their ability to solve puzzles and group cooperation, vital when living in a harsh environment, makes them a pest for residents as their curiosity often causes them to take apart cars with their sharp beaks or fly away with someone's passport.
  • This trope is why you should NEVER let a Gifted child get bored. They will find some way to amuse themselves, often involving expensive appliances and a screwdriver.

Oh! What's that trope about?


Video Example(s):


Dr. Havoc's Diary

Despite being a superhero, Fantasti-Girl is still just your average everyday child in more ways than one.

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Main / CuriousAsAMonkey

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