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Cymbal-Banging Monkey
aka: Cymbal Clanging 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 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.
  • 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.
  • One of these was used to creepy effect in the trailers and the cover art for Monkey Shines - the actual film revolves around a live homicidal monkey instead.
  • 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.
  • The opening sequence of Friday the 13th: The Series featured one.
  • Tim finds one of these among a box of old toys in an episode of Home Improvement.
  • Basco ta Jolokia of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger 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.
  • Inverted on the Mythbusters 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.
  • In 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Wonder Woman: In 'The Deadly Toys' the monkey claps its' cymbals as she fights and is defeated by her robot doppelganger.

  • 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.

    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 Bride's Lament from The Drowsy Chaperone — 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 
  • In the Game Boy Advance game 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • At the end of the final level in Ape Escape 2, you fight a giant robotic cymbal-clanging monkey. When you appear to defeat it, it falls away to reveal a Humongous Mecha ape, the real boss of the level.
  • A version with a real monkey is in Escape from Monkey Island. The monkey 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.
  • In Sam & Max Episode 101: Culture Shock, a monkey serves as the form reader for Brady Culture's "Home" for Former Child Stars.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ōkami has one of the three monkey gods be a cymbal monkey.
  • 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.
  • In Wet, cymbal banging monkeys act as secret collectibles, in fitting with Rubi's monkey motif.
  • Bishi Bashi Special features one in the minigame "Stay With the Rhythm!!"
  • In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days there are two of them: The "Cymbal Monkey" and the "Tricky Monkey". They're both recurring enemies, and hide in fake treasure chests.
  • Tyko's partner Cymbi in HarmoKnight is one.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Let It Die has these strewn about the Amusement Park of Doom as background scenery, as if the place wasn't already creepy enough.
  • Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden: A cymbal banging monkey is the UI icon for the Draw Aggro skill "Joker."

    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 
  • In the Futurama 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.
  • Also, Rugrats used one in multiple episodes...
  • The Simpsons episode "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes" has Homer awakened by such a monkey.
  • In a Teen Titans episode, 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 played for comedy though, the scene is hilarious rather than creepy.
    • It's worth note that Beast Boy smashes this monkey against the wall several episodes later.
  • In Static Shock, Static and Gear find themselves facing a giant cymbal-banging monkeybot. Superman ends up having to help them out.
  • Pinky and the Brain has one of this as part of a Rube Goldberg Device built by The Brain.
  • The Toy Monster in The Real Ghostbusters definitely had one of these for a head.
  • One episode of Jimmy Neutron had him reducing 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.
  • 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.
  • In an episode of Batman: The Animated Series 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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.

Alternative Title(s): Cymbal Clanging Monkey


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