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Cymbal-Banging Monkey

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He's peering into your soul...

"Over and over and over and over, like a monkey with a miniature cymbal..."
Hot Chip, "Over and Over".

Vests are cool. Cymbals are cool. Monkeys are cool. Toys are cool. Combine all four and it should also be cool, right? WRONG. In fact, it's so creepy, that versions of this mechanical monstrosity end up in a lot of sci-fi/horror movies. Kind of the flipside of Silly Simian. If you see this one, you know the non-fun sort of weird is on the way.

Given that monkeys resemble humans (being a related species), the Unintentional Uncanny Valley might have something to do with why these toys are so unnerving. The often deranged-looking yellow and red eyes further accentuate the creepiness. Compare with Creepy Doll.

Can also be used for comedic effect, usually by having the monkey replace a person who is even more incompetent at the job in question.

Compare Maniac Monkeys.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • One shows up in episode 6 of Digimon Adventure chasing Sora in Toy Town. It later comes after Mimi who destroys it, attracting Monzaemon in the process.
  • Doraemon: Nobita and the Tin Labyrinth ends with an Affectionate Parody of kaiju films, where Doraemon and gang decides to take down Napogisutora's army with their own army of giant-sized Living Toys - one of them which is a wind-up giant monkey who smashes airplanes with cymbals while seated atop a skyscraper (doubles as a King Kong Copy spoof!).
  • In The Last: Naruto the Movie, when Naruto and Konohamaru are going through Hiruzen Sarutobi's old stuff, they find one that is dressed up as Hiruzen. The toy is a pun on his clan name, Sarutobi, which means "monkey jump".
  • Salvage King Masira's ship in One Piece has a Cymbal Banging Monkey as its figurehead, going along with Masira's monkey theme. It's also used in the actual process of salvaging ships.
    • Sugar in the Dressrosa Arc can turn people into toys and erase everyone's memories of them with a simple touch, thanks to having eaten the Hobby-Hobby Fruit. The character Sai, who resembles a monkey, is turned into one of these through her powers. As was apparently a random gorilla at some point, as seen when the toy curse is broken.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Aladdin, Non-Human Sidekick Abu is briefly turned into one of these by Jafar.
  • In the Kim Possible movie "A Sitch In Time" (pun intended), the Tempus Simia idol is a magical time-traveling stone version of one of these, broken into a body and head section. To find the head, the bad guys fly around in a jet waiting for the body to play its cymbals when they get close.
  • Played for laughs (and quite literally too) in Kung Fu Panda 2, where Monkey grabs two cymbals and bashes them on a wolf bandit's head.
  • One of Mojo Jojo's minions in The Powerpuff Girls Movie. "I, Cha-Ching Cha-Ching, symbolize chaotic calamity!" (bangs his cymbals together to make a sonic boom)
  • One appeared in The Simpsons Movie, where it poofed into Homer's mind to distract him from Marge's nagging, but eventually stops its clanging to tell Homer to focus on Marge.
  • Toy Story 3 has one who is very, very frightening to look at. When night falls on Sunnyside Daycare, he sits in the second-floor security office, watching all the screens. If a toy tries to escape, he turns on the center's P.A. system and screeches into it while banging his cymbals. Lotso and crew are on top of the poor toy in moments.
    Chatter Telephone: You can unlock doors, sneak past guards, climb the wall, but if you don't take out that monkey, you ain't going nowhere. You want to get out of here, get rid of that monkey!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The City of Lost Children opens with a child's dream of Christmas, gradually turning into a nightmare due to the influence of a Mad Scientist. A toy like this appears as one of the subtler moments of creepiness before things get really strange.
  • This was one of the toys that the aliens woke up in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
  • Mentioned briefly in The Conjuring. The paranormal investigator couple have a room full of haunted objects they've taken from past cases, including a cymbal monkey. As the husband says to a journalist: "Nothing in here is a toy. Even the toy monkey."
  • The Devil's Gift, a film which is is pretty much a shameless ripoff of The Monkey (see literature). Same concept (someone dies whenever it claps its cymbals), one scene is lifted straight from the story (when it kills the fly), and the ending is pretty much the same (sealing the monkey away while it tries to take you with it).
  • Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders, a film made mostly from repurposed clips of The Devil's Gift, wrapped around a Framing Story. When this movie was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, it inspired Pearl to make Professor Bobo dress up as one of these to scare Mike and the 'bots. They weren't impressed.
    Rock 'n' roll Martian... rock 'n' roll Martian...
  • Euro Trip featured Lucy Lawless applying one of these to the.. erm.. sensitive parts of a male lead in a club for adults.
  • In How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the Grinch has a giant version of one in his lair, and uses it to drown out the Whos' singing...along with using a jackhammer as a pogo stick and la-la-laing while riding it. He's later found by Cindy Lou with him holding his head between the clanging symbols until she gets his attention. He stops its clanging one-handed, causing the monkey to malfunction and shut down before he acknowledges her.
  • Used in The Master of Disguise, before the door to the Nest opens.
  • In the Colombian film Milagro En Roma, based on the short story "La Santa" by Gabriel García Márquez, a mechanical cymbal-playing monkey suddenly bursts into action at the wake of a seven-year-old girl, although it had not worked before that. Later, the monkey's spontaneous action at the girl's wake is cited as evidence for her being a saint. The Vatican is not impressed, however.
  • Midnight: It's a cymbal-banging rabbit, actually, that Kyung-mi has in her house, and it appears to actually be a noise sensor—Kyung-mi is deaf. It's still creepy and is appropriate for the arrival of murderous Do-shik the Serial Killer.
  • In The Phantom of the Opera musical and film thereof, the plot kicks off with a bidding war for a music box with a figurine of one of these on top. It originally belonged to the Phantom.
  • James Dean drunkenly plays with such a toy in the opening credits of Rebel Without a Cause.
  • It's almost appropriate that in the film The Return of the Living Dead, the effect of some garbage bags full of still-animate dismembered zombie pieces was created by filling them with cymbal monkeys with the cymbals removed.
  • In Road to Utopia, when Bob Hope and Bing Crosby enter a talent contest, their act follows a man with a cymbal-banging monkey. The monkey wins.
  • The children's room at the Haunted House in The Woman in Black has several toy monkeys from the Victorian era (and a real stuffed one), one of which is a spring-powered cymbal monkey.
  • A flashback scene in Zoolander finds the title character acting like one.
  • One of these is the madness-inducing Artifact of Doom in Amityville Toybox and its sequel, Amityville Clownhouse.
  • In the 2019 Aladdin, the Genie turns Abu into one when he sings the hammy version of "Friend Like Me". When he sings the song properly, Abu gets a full drum kit.

  • Discussed in Seth Grahame-Smith's How to survive a horror movie, where a cymbal monkey is named as one of the things you should never put in your child's room.
  • "The Monkey", a Stephen King short story. In a nutshell, every time it claps its cymbals, someone dies, and the main character and his younger son both describe the feeling of revulsion they have when they see and touch the doll, yet also how they almost want to wind it up even though they know what will happen when they do. The comic adaptation of this by Glenn Chadbourne from The Secretary of Dreams (Volume Two) also features a cymbal-banging monkey.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Banacek: In "The Three Million Dollar Piracy", a scene opens with a cymbal banging monkey when Banacek visits the office of the president of a toy company. The monkey has no bearing on the plot whatsoever.
  • The Captain And Tenille Variety Show in the middle 1970s featured a sketch where Darryl "The Captain" Dragon attempted to play piano with a Cymbal Banging Monkey allegedly named "Kokomo", who actively refused to cooperate.
  • Doctor Who: One appears briefly in "The Empty Child", controlled by the child in question and saying "mummy" over and over.
  • Friday The 13th: The Series: The opening sequence featured one.
  • Home Improvement: Tim finds one of these among a box of old toys in one episode.
  • Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger: Basco ta Jolokia has a pet/assistant monkey named Sally, who wields cymbals as weapons and can produce giant monsters from a hatch in her chest.
  • Midsomer Murders: There is one in the nursery where the first murder occurs in "A Christmas Haunting" It starts banging its cymbals as the body hits the floor.
  • Monk: In one episode, Stottlemeyer dons a fez and starts banging together actual cymbals in order to provoke an actual chimpanzee into firing a gun.
  • Mythbusters: Inverted on the December Holiday special when three were used in a Rube Goldberg holiday contraption. They're more comical than scary, plus they're hard to see amongst the rest of the gags.
  • Pretty Little Liars: As Spencer, Emily, and Hanna investigate a doll hospital, a cymbal monkey is among the dolls that comes to life to threaten them.
  • Stranger Things: Dustin Henderson has one of these in his bedroom. It’s seen briefly in the first episode of Season Three, where Eleven makes his toys start moving to lure him out to where she and the rest of his friends are waiting to surprise him - Eleven makes the monkey start clapping its cymbals together, seemingly by itself.
  • Supernatural had a laughing version of one of these while a repairman had his arm torn apart by a garbage disposal.
  • A Touch of Cloth: Played for laughs with Jack Cloth's intentionally Narmy flashback to his wife's tragic death by murder, which has a random shot of a cymbal-banging monkey thrown in.
  • Ultraman Taro has ‘Naughty Suzie’, a cymbal-banging monkey who acts as an assistant to the first Alien Temperor.
  • Wonder Woman (1975): In "The Deadly Toys", a monkey toy claps its cymbals as Wonder Woman fights and is defeated by her robot doppelgänger.

  • It can be seen in Roxette's video Joyride.
  • Sliver music video by Nirvana, from their album Incesticide
  • Over and Over by Hot Chip.
  • Exaggerated in Chris Cunningham's short film Monkey Drummer, which features a monstrous contraption of mechanical parts, human limbs and a chimp's head that drums to the beat of Aphex Twin's "Mt Saint Michel + Saint Michaels Mount".
  • "God's Away On Business" on Tom Waits' album Blood Money. In the context of the play it was based on.
  • In the booklet of Konstrust's album "Second Hand Wonderland", next to the lyrics of the song "Monkey Boy", which is about madness, one of these monkeys is pictured. The lyrics mention a "magic toy", but it's not clear if the monkey is meant.
  • The music video of R.E.M.'s Shiny Happy People opens with a drummer variant.

    Tabletop Games 

  • Woyzeck/ Blood Money involves one of these, and even gives it a song ("Misery is the River of the World"). It was voiced by Tom Waits.
  • The Drowsy Chaperone: The Bride's Lament — otherwise known as "The Monkey Song." In keeping with the way this musical stretches a gag, puts roller skates on it, then attaches jet engines, the climax of the song involves an entire chorus of "monkeys" in their little red vests clashing real cymbals over the final chords.
  • The Phantom of the Opera sees a music box version of this being sold at the opening auction.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Ape Escape 2: At the end of the final level, you fight Robo Kong, a giant robotic cymbal-clanging monkey piloted by Specter. When you defeat it, the fur burns away to reveal the true form: Ultra Goliath, a Humongous Mecha ape.
  • Bishi Bashi Special features one in the minigame "Stay With the Rhythm!!"
  • Call of Duty: Starting with Map Pack 3 in Call of Duty: World at War through Call of Duty: Black Ops' "FIVE" features a Cymbal-Banging Monkey strapped with C4 (called the Monkey Bomb) as a distraction device for the players to use. It is replaced by the Gersch Device in First Strike's Ascension.
    • The Annihilation DLC map "Shangri-La" features the return of the Monkey Bomb as the distraction weapon.
  • Cuphead: One of King Dice's sub-bosses (and one of the last ones before Dice himself) is Mr. Chimes, an eyeless cymbal monkey on a crane game claw.
  • Escape from Monkey Island: A version with a real monkey. The animal is initially playing an accordion that Guybrush needs, so he swaps it for a pair of tiny cymbals, which endlessly amuse the monkey for the rest of the game.
  • Fallout 4 has these disturbing things scattered all over the wasteland. Their eyes light up as soon as you get close enough, sometimes red to remind you that no benevolent God could have produced them, and they may or may not make noise. Even worse, they're frequently either the triggers for raider booby traps or loud enough to wake up a room full of previously-hidden feral ghouls. Fortunately, it's entirely possible to decapitate them either by blowing their heads up, or whacking them with a melee weapon.
  • HarmoKnight: Tyko's partner Cymbi is one.
  • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days: The "Cymbal Monkey" and the "Tricky Monkey". They're both recurring enemies that hide in fake treasure chests.
  • The Longest Journey has one (Constable Guybrush) which is used at one point to solve a puzzle.
    April Ryan: Mildly amusing.. but annoying as hell.
  • Let It Die has these strewn about the Amusement Park of Doom as background scenery, as if the place wasn't already creepy enough.
  • Kingdom of Loathing had one of these available as one of their "annual" familiars available from Mr. Store.
  • League of Legends has one in the music video for "Get Jinxed".
  • Little Nightmares: These monkey toys are inexplicably scattered about the Maw. They activate when thrown and can be used to distract the blind janitor.
  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mario can hang by the tail of a cymbal-banging monkey (called "Monchee" in the manual) to cross over a spiked pit, a long gap or some other dangerous area.
  • In Moshi Monsters, the room item "Antique Isle Monkey Cymbals" depicts character Chop Chop, complete with the outfit of the trope's image and a fez.
  • Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden: A cymbal banging monkey is the UI icon for the Draw Aggro skill "Joker."
  • Ōkami: The Hanagami are three Brush Gods who grant plant-based magic, each in the form of a monkey carrying a golden instrument. Tsutagami, the last of the three, carries cymbals.
  • There's a weapon in Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time called the Chimpinator. If you use it on a robotic enemy, they turn into this.
  • Sam & Max Episode 101: Culture Shock: A monkey serves as the form reader for Brady Culture's "Home" for Former Child Stars.
  • Space Bomber has a giant monkey mecha banging a set of cymbals as one of the various bosses. Each cymbal clang will release a circular wave of projectiles, and occasionally a bouncing ball towards the player.
  • In WET, cymbal banging monkeys act as secret collectibles, in fitting with Rubi's monkey motif.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, a cymbal gorilla toy mysteriously appears and starts causing a ruckus after Akira and company investigate the Moon Tower roof. Akira brings it along with them as evidence, and it later proves useful in the fight against the spirit Tsukuyomi.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: In "Normal Boy", Jimmy's brain drain helmet accidentally reduced his intelligence to the point of total idiocy; when it's time for one of his climactic brainstorms, the only thing left in his head is a monkey busily clanging away.
  • Arcane. Vander uses a cymbal-banging monkey toy to warn the children hiding in his basement to hide because Enforcers are upstairs looking for them. Later Powder fashions the same toy into a crude impact trigger for a hex crystal, never stopping to consider that she has no way to focus the explosion. The resulting explosion not only fails to kill her intended target but also ends up killing nearly everyone she was trying to save except for Vi.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: In one episode where the villain is an obsessive toy collector, one of the toys in his lair is a creepy-looking drum-playing monkey of similar design to the classic cymbal-playing monkey.
  • In Darkwing Duck, Quackerjack's first appearance has him take out a security guard at a rival toy company with a giant cymbal banging gorilla.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: In "Dexter's Assistant", Dexter makes Dee Dee smart enough to become the titular assistant for a Science Fair project. She eventually considers herself too good to be the assistant of someone who can't stand having their calculations questioned and gives him one of those toy monkeys to be his new assistant. In the end, Dee Dee wins the fair and Dexter blames the monkey for losing. While doing so, Dexter unwittingly places his nose in a position to be hit by the cymbals.
  • Futurama:
    • In the episode "Obsoletely Fabulous", one of the inhabitants of the island of obsolete robots is a cymbal-banging monkey.
    • There's also the episode "Reincarnation", in which the aliens in one of the three shorts (a parody of imported Japanese "action team" shows like Battle of the Planets) combined their ships to form "Gigatron", a gigantic cymbal monkey that used the shockwaves from the cymbals as weapons.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "School Raze – Part 2": As part of her plan to annoy Tirek enough that he'd help the Mane Six get out of Tartarus, Pinkie Pie dressing up as a monkey and banging her cymbals prove the last straw.
  • Pinky and the Brain has one of this as part of a Rube Goldberg Device built by The Brain.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: The Toy Monster definitely had one of these for a head.
  • The Simpsons episode "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes" has Homer awakened by such a monkey.
  • Static Shock: In "Toys in the Hood", Static and Gear find themselves facing a giant cymbal-banging monkeybot, courtesy of Toyman. Superman ends up having to help them out.
  • Superman: The Animated Series: At the end of "Mxyzpixilated", Mr. Mxyzptlk turns a Superman action figure into a cymbal banging monkey toy wearing a Superman costume.
  • Teen Titans (2003): In the particularly scary episode "Fear Itself," this trope was used to lighten the mood. The Titans hear an eerie "Help meeeee..." coming from a closet. An innocent cymbal-banging monkey falls out and says "Help me, help me, help me count! One! Two! Three! Four!...."
    • It's worth noting that Beast Boy smashes this monkey against the wall several episodes later.

    Real Life 
  • Yes, these things really exist. They're as creepy as you'd expect.
  • One of the examples in Tom Igoe's instruction book "Making Things Talk" involves wiring one of these toys up as a organic vapor warning device.
  • Z Wind-Up toys has a whole bunch of small, modern cymbal banging monkeys. Their a lot cuter then their, older, larger, battery operated counterparts.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Cymbal Clanging Monkey


Toy Story 3: The Monkey

The Monkey is the eye in the sky. He sees everything, and is the one thing keeping the toys from escaping Sunnyside.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (25 votes)

Example of:

Main / CymbalBangingMonkey

Media sources: