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"Monkeys, apes, they all hold stuff with their feet, man! We're talking freaks of nature!"

Apes and monkeys with human-level intelligence, whether artificial or natural, have a recurring tendency to be antagonists in fiction. If the protagonists are humans, they might be suffering an inherent sibling rivalry with the human race, and want to either wipe it out or subdue it. If it's a story with a cast of animals, they might see themselves as "superior" to the other species and try to rule over them. Either way, these monkeys are used as signs that something bad is about to go down.

This trope is distinct from Killer Space Monkey in that these monkeys are usually Super Intelligent Mad Scientists who want to Take Over the World or at least make life difficult for humanity. Another possibility is that they are Genius Bruisers determined to both overpower and Out Gambit their fellow primates. However, often they are just highly aggressive animals that attack humans (which may be Truth in Television for some primate species).


This here is the opposite of Everything's Better with Monkeys. Compare Mischief-Making Monkey, where the trouble the monkey causes is more harmless. Killer Gorilla is a subtrope, as gorillas (and other great apes) are particularly often portrayed as malevolent, due to their great strength and menacing appearance. For the underwater equivalent, see Devious Dolphins.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Beast Titan, from Attack on Titan. It's 17 meters tall, with Creepily Long Arms, a cruel, brilliant mind, and the ability to turn humans into Titans he can control. Its appearance heralds very bad things. He's the Warchief of Marley's Titan warriors and is rather fond of baseball.
  • Etemon from Digimon Adventure. And Makuramon from Digimon Tamers.
  • The Saiyans from Dragon Ball Z are like this. They are galactic conquerors who can transform into giant apes during the full moon. Their only simian-like characteristic in their normal form is their monkey tails.
  • Jojos Bizarre Adventure: Forever from Stardust Crusaders is an orangutan who gained human-level intelligence after acquiring the Stand Strength, and antagonizes Jotaro and his comrades.
  • The apes in Princess Mononoke, who distrust and hate San.
  • In So I'm a Spider, So What? the Anogratch are a species of aggressive monkey-type monsters. They will attack anything that enters their territory and if a member of a troop is killed the rest will pursue the killer endlessly, no matter how many die in the pursuit. Given their troops can number in the thousands, the Revenge Monkeys are exceptionally dangerous. Their evolved form, the Bagragratch, is a much larger and stronger baboon-type monster but is actually considered less of a threat as it lacks the Vengeance and Wrath skills of the previous form.
  • Aozaru from The Twelve Kingdoms.
  • Ushio and Tora has two notable examples: The Namahage, a monster who skins women and devours their intestines in an attempt to turn into a human, is revealed to be the transformation of a macaque, who originally wanted to become a human for the sake of his childhood human friend but eventually lost himself in villainy. A later arc has some monstrous babboons lead by a gigantic white elder monkey, who enjoy eating young women. They are a nod to the tale of Shippeitaro.

    Asian Animation 
  • One of the rival teams faced by the Sunny Farm F.C. in Dreamkix had several spider monkeys who'd physically impede their progress, even in blatant displays like covering Roy's eyes and trying to drag George down. Yet they were apparently not committing fouls because they were deemed "too small and weak to really physically assault anyone".
  • Happy Heroes: As shown in episode 31 of Season 2, among planet Gray's graduate monsters is a giant ape that Big and Little M.'s commander describes as "ferocious".
  • Rimba Racer: OoAa the chimpanzee is never shown to speak intelligibly, unlike the other Funny Animals on the show, and tends to screech and grab people when annoyed.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The science fiction film Ad Astra features a bizarre segment when the main character played by Brad Pitt responds to a distress signal at a Dutch research station that has been overtaken by a pair of overly aggressive baboons. The implication is that the baboons were used in experimentation. One of the baboons ends up eating the face of an astronaut accompanying Pitt.
  • The gorilla in Baby's Day Out doubles as this and also an ape version of a Papa Wolf.
  • The main antagonists of Blood Monkey are a bunch of super-smart, utterly ravenous apes picking off college students in the jungles of Thailand.
  • The Killer Apes of Zinj from Congo.
  • Koba from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a vicious sadist whose hate causes him to become a genocidal tyrant.
  • The Simians from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Terror of Mechagodzilla are green chimpanzee aliens who attempt to use Mechagodzilla to Take Over the World.
  • In Jumanji, the game introduces a troop of monkeys to wreak havoc: "This will not be an easy mission. Monkeys slow the expedition". Though the monkeys aren't so much dangerous as a sheer nuisance.
    • Then in sequel Jumanji: The Next Level, the danger is very real with a huge group of mandrills who attack the protagonists (as they need to cross fragile rope bridges, no less), down to throwing one of them in the Bottomless Pit below.
  • 1986 film Link had a killer chimpanzee butler, rather similar to Ella above.
  • Ella in Monkey Shines is an assistant to a paralyzed man who develops a psychic connection with him. Whenever he lashes out at someone, she is soon out to get them.
  • A heroic example in Phenomena with Inga, a chimpanzee who helps Donald Pleasence's character (who is disabled) get around. Inga spends most of the movie as a fairly gentle, amiable primate, but in the film's climax, after her master has been killed, she goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and decapitates the villain with a straight razor. This is one of those movies where Humans Are the Real Monsters.
  • The apes from Planet of the Apes, who have replaced humanity as the superior species, although the whole point of the franchise is that they're no worse - or, despite what they think, better - than humans.
  • In Primal, the cook is killed by the pack of monkeys that have taken over his galley after he grabs one of the babies, despite Frank's warning not to.
  • A Capuchin monkey in Raiders of the Lost Ark works as a spy for Those Wacky Nazis. No, really. She ends up inadvertently helping the heroes when she eats a date and dies, tipping Sallah off that the bowl of dates is poisoned.
    Bad dates.
  • In Sands of the Kalahari, the survivors of the plane crash are menaced by a troop of baboons inhabiting the area. Initially content to holler at the intruders from the distance, the animals gradually become more aggressive as they realize the people are only a physical threat to them when they have weapons.
  • In The Shadow Of Kilimanjaro, thousands of aggressive baboons ransack villages and attack humans because a drought has depleted their natural food sources.
  • The title primate in Shakma is a genetically altered baboon with a murderous attitude.
  • A segment from the anthology horror film Terror Tract features a killer capuchin monkey named Bobo, who has a talent for stabbing people offscreen.
  • David Lynch's short film What Did Jack Do? revolves around a talking capuchin who is suspected of murdering his girlfriend's lover. Downplayed, however, in that Jack's possible motive has nothing to do with him being a monkey, and he is mostly presented as just a poor dumb schmuck who got in over his head and made some bad decisions, rather than some kind of Ax-Crazy maniac.
  • The Flying Monkeys from The Wizard of Oz. Though they're actually Punch Clock Villains.
  • In Creepshow, the monster in the segment titled "The Crate" resembles a grotesque, fanged baboon.
  • In Braindead, the Flesh-Eating Zombie outbreak is the result of the bite of a hideous critter called a Sumatran Rat-Monkey. A zookeeper mentions a folk story that the rat-monkey is the product of ship rats raping island-dwelling monkeys.

  • In After Man: A Zoology of the Future, several species of deadly predator have evolved from monkeys, including the fish-eating swimming monkey, the cheetah-like horrane, and several species of theropod-like raboon.
  • Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley uses apes to symbolize the decline and fall of human civilization.
  • In Catching Fire, the Hunger Games arena contains genetically-modified killer monkeys with claws and fangs.
  • Apes were a common monster in Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian stories, being prominent antagonists in "The Phoenix on the Sword", "Iron Shadows in the Moon", and "Rogues in the House".
  • In His Dark Materials, Mrs. Coulter's dæmon is a handsome golden monkey with long, lustrous fur. Considering how your dæmon signifies your true self, that shows that Mrs. Coulter is very intelligent, cunning, and charming; then again he also likes to pull small creatures limb from limb when he's bored. Mrs. Coulter is not good.
  • In The Enemy, the Holloway kids are attacked by diseased monkeys and apes which have escaped (or been released) from London Zoo, resulting in them losing five members of their group.
  • The Wickersham brothers from Horton Hears a Who!.
  • Journey to Chaos: Looming Shadow boasts of a monkey beastfolk who becomes a Life Drinker with necrocraft and goes on a screeching and insane rant about how he has become a god.
  • The Bandar-log (Monkey-folk) from Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book capture Mowgli so he can teach them human things and help them become masters of the jungle. It's a subversion because the Bandar-log's attention spans aren't long enough to complete their plan.
  • The Pak, in Larry Niven's Known Space, are the ancestors of mankind, and are known to Earthly science as Homo habilis—young Pak look like somewhat leggy chimpanzees. Their life-cycle is odd, consisting of an animalistic "breeder" phase followed by eating a poisonous root, Tree of Life, that mutates them into Protectors, hyper-intelligent, super-strong sociopaths concerned only with the protection of their progeny. Most of them regard human beings as competitors—and therefore as appropriate targets for genocide.
  • Last and First Men: The sapient monkeys of the Second Men's time are possessed of a large selection of unpleasant traits, including immense avarice, high aggressiveness and bellicosity, a delight in chaos and mischief and an almost sociopathic inability to process the experiences of other beings. They consequently tend to be very cruel to theie subhuman livestock, which they routinely force into humiliating, obscene or painful situations, and react with offended rage when they lash out. They also often bait, trick and harass each other in gleeful and sometimes deadly confrontations.
  • The talking ape Shift serves as an Antichrist figure in C. S. Lewis' The Last Battle.
  • Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot once faced the "Mecha-Monkeys from Mars".
  • In Daniel Pinkwater's Snarkout Boys books, the criminal mastermind Wallace Nussbaum relies on kidnapped and mind-controlled orangutans to do his bidding.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Helix, the hunt for lab monkeys infected with The Virus is critical to the CDC team's effort to figure out how to contain the outbreak at a remote research base. Though their existence is at first vociferously denied by Arctic Biosystems staff, Dr. Boyle discovers infected macaques are the source of zoonotic transfer after she's attacked by an unusually intelligent and violent escaped specimen. Balleseros later finds the rest of the infected lab monkeys frozen outside the base.
  • The third season Finale of Malcolm in the Middle entitled "Monkey" had one. After Lois' coworker Craig is injured and confined to an electric wheel chair for 6 weeks, he chooses to get a free Capuchin Monkey Butler for the permanently disabled instead of using his insurance money to pay for a nurse. At first the Monkey seems friendly and helpful, but is soon revealed to be Deranged and Homicidal as he harms Craig and attempts to murder him in cold blood. Luckily, Hal is able to stop the Monkey and Calls animal control off screen.

  • The "Monkey Mayhem" table of Extreme Pinball is all about this trope.
  • The Crazy Monkey in Stern Pinball's Family Guy; hitting him repeatedly starts "Crazy Chris" mode.
  • In The Wizard of Oz, the Flying Monkeys carry the pinball from the lower playfield to the Wicked Witch's Castle.

    Professional Wrestling 

  • Medieval bestiaries often portrayed them as allegories of the devil, and sometimes illustrated satyrs (another source of Satanic imagery) to look very ape-like. This may be where Lewis got the idea for the above example.
  • Chimpanzees are rarely depicted in African mythologies (supposedly its because they're "too close for comfort"), but when they are they're almost invariably symbols of violence and sexual depravity, with the Hemba and Gio people using them as motifs for war masks. Averted with Ghekre, however, which is a just afterlife judge depicted as a gorilla.
  • In Beti-Pahuin Mythology and culture chimpanzees were widely hated. They represented what humans would be if we lived according to basic impulses. The hero Oyono Nna slew their king Mesi Me Kot Endong, thus kicking off the great chimpanzee war.
    • Gorillas were in contrast seen as peaceful weirdos best left alone. In the legends they were used as Slave Mooks for different tribes.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has had a wide variety of ape and monkey-based monsters appear in it during its history, such as the psionic, carnivorous Su-Monsters and four-armed, carnivorous, gorilla-like Girallons.
  • Among the factions of Feng Shui are the Jammers, intelligent apes working in concert with the few humans immune to the influence of Chi. They're a faction of Mad Bombers who do not care one whit about who they blow up, so long as they get to blow up Feng Shui sites and bring about Battlechimp Potemkin's dream of a world without chi.
  • Freedom City has several, including Dr. Simian, criminal refugee from a city of intelligent apes, and Dr. Geistmann, a Nazi scientist trapped in the body of an albino ape.
  • Pathfinder features a city of evil sentient apes called Usaro. Their ruler, Ruthazek the Gorilla King, is one of the setting's major villains.
    • A swarm of less lethal but very annoying monkeys is summoned by the spell "Mad Monkeys".
    • One of the setting's major demon lords, Angazhan, appears as a huge demonic gorilla who associates himself with primates, jungles, and tyranny. The aforementioned Gorilla King is one of his worshipers.
  • Given that Terra Primate is at the least a loose shoutout to Planet of the Apes as a whole, this is quite applicable.

    Video Games 
  • The monkeys in Alundra are bloodthirsty, violent and murderous little bastards.
  • The monkeys causing havoc across time, especially Specter, from Ape Escape.
  • Gohma Howlers from Asura's Wrath, which don't hesitate to kill humans in packs.
  • In Dominions 4, the Early Age nation of Lanka is composed of various castes of different sorts of primates, from chimps to gorillas, ruled over by gluttonous demon ogres. They're heavy users of Blood Magic and one of the few nations that can benefit from increasing the Turmoil in the land.
  • Although apes are predominately the heroes of the Donkey Kong Country games, there are the occasional primate pest;
  • The Mini-Boss "Ausf A Gestell" from Einhänder is a Humongous Mecha ape. It attacks the player's ship like a deranged robot monkey would as well as having a number of dangerous weaponry. Befittingly enough, its battle theme is called "Madness".
  • Kuon: the Yang Chapter has the heroines going to the mountain shrine through a dark mountain path infested with both Yamabito (zombies) and Mashira, massive, ferocious undead monkeys which will attack Sakuya with great speed and ferocity. Their boss, a massive monster erroneously called "Yeti" in some sources, patrols a ruined hut where a plot-relevan item is kept and will later ambush Sakuya in a glade as a boss fight.
  • The Pokémon Mankey and its evolution, Primeape are characterised for their Hair-Trigger Temper and violent outbursts, making them notorious for going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge for minor slights. Various renditions of Primeape describe it as being willing to "chase you down forever" in order to give you a thorough beating if you piss it off.
  • In RuneScape the monkeys and apes of Ape Atoll form a terrifying militaristic faction bent on world domination. And during the Do No Evil quest, where the desert god of monkeys has her senses split into 3 parts, and they take the form of 3 dark and powerful gorillas.
  • Hun Batz, the Howler Monkey God of the Mayan pantheon in Smite, is a rather sinister monkey driven with vengeance of being humiliated by the Hero Twins. While at first being introduced to replace Sun Wukong, at least Wukong's old kit was meant to be silly, Hun Batz made the kit more sinister as he's more serious in cracking the enemy's skulls wide open. Also, he babbles about The End of the World as We Know It because he's Mayan.
  • Star Fox
    • Andross is an evil genius primate who leads an army of Maniac Monkeys and has two of them as his proteges, and is also the page image.
    • His nephew, Andrew Oikonny, is a highly incompetent Maniac Monkey, a character trait which is Played for Laughs.
    • His grandson Dash Bowman appears to be a subversion of this trope, as he joins the Star Fox team to clear his family name and right Andross's wrongs, but two of the possible endings of Star Fox Command have him follow in his grandfather's footsteps to become another galactic overlord. So far, there hasn't been a single ape or monkey in Star Fox who hasn't turned evil in some form.
    • There's also the Meteo Crusher pilot in Star Fox 64, yet another monkey who works for Andross. Falco even calls him a monkey in an insulting, derogatory way.
      Falco: Are you gonna listen to that monkey?
  • Morty's Cyberchimps in Super Solvers: Gizmos & Gadgets. They can steal your vehicle parts and pick up parts on the floor, making them very irritating. Feeding them a banana makes them sleep and drop their parts. Later on the slow, fat Chimps are replaced with fast, wheeled Chimps that sleep for a much shorter time.
  • System Shock 2 has screeching monkeys with cryokenitic and pyrokinetic powers, who still have their heads cut open and their brains exposed from experimentation.
  • The demon monkeys chasing you in Temple Run.
  • The Monkeymen from Thief patrol many of the later levels. They're actually easier to deal with than regular guards, due to the fact that they don't count as humans, meaning you can freely kill them even on Expert difficulty.
  • The Monkeys from TimeSplitters. They have guns!

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • In Freefall chimpanzees were uplifted a century previous, but they retained their aggressiveness and lack of impulse control. The more recently uplifted Bowman's Wolves were engineered to be much more sociable, and Florence is a little uncomfortable to discover her creator is actually a chimp.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of Back at the Barnyard dealt with a space test monkey who pretended to be friendly for awhile before revealing his true colors by somehow intending to take over the entire farm in front of the horrified animals due to his opposable thumbs (which is sort of Fridge Logic as Otis and his friends never had problems with manipulating objects before despite not having opposable thumbs), although it could all be down to playing the entire scenario for comedy.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold has all DC Gorillas team up to form G.A.S.P., Gorillas and Apes Seizing Power.
  • Dr. Wasabi's ninja chimps from Chop Socky Chooks.
  • Simian from the Dexter's Laboratory "Dial M For Monkey" shorts, though he gets a Heel–Face Turn.
  • During the first The Fairly OddParents TV movie, AJ's monkey takes a bite out of a magic muffin that grants its eater any wish, regardless of Da Rules. The monkey's wish is—you guessed it—to make apes Take Over the World. Or it could have been a banana. Cosmo always mixes those two up.
  • Evil Monkey from Family Guy, though he and Chris eventually become friends and he moves on to another boy's closet.
    • As a throwaway joke, in the episode where the family finally discovers his existence, Meg reveals she also deals with an evil monkey, this one being bigger and scarier looking.
  • Fangface had an episode where the Monster of the Week was a city of "ape men" who straddled the line between this trope and Frazetta Man. They lived in an Underground City inside a mountain on an Island of Mystery and practiced ritual Human Sacrifice to their "ape idol".
  • Literal example from Invader Zim
    The letter M: Dib's screaming like a Maniac... monkey.
  • The Monkey King from Jackie Chan Adventures.
  • Monkey Fist and his army of monkey ninjas from Kim Possible.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: Scarlemagne's a twisted, controlling Mandrill who wants to enslave all humans for his own entertainment. So he fits the "Maniac" part pretty well. He outright admits that he's insane, too. His mooks are also various species of primates.
  • Mr. Bogus: "Hipster Tripster" featured a trio of monkeys who Bogus plays around with in the first act, but in the second act, they become this after Bogus releases them from their cage. At the end of the second act, Bogus is able to corral the monkeys back into their cage by luring them away from the zoo's gift shop while hiding under a banana peel.
  • My Little Pony 'n Friends: The gizmonks, the villains from "The Great Rainbow Caper", are a pair of monkeys whose obsession with invention and technical gadgets leads them to cover the Rainbow of Light and to kidnap innocents to hold as hostage for it.
  • Onyx Equinox: Episode 5 features gorilla-sized howler monkeys that were once the gods attempt at creating people, only to turn to their base desires. Even nowadays they're highly vicious towards both humans and each other, tearing one another to pieces for whatever reason.
  • Mojo Jojo from The Powerpuff Girls is an evil genius monkey with an oversized brain and one of the girls' oldest and greatest foes. He used to be Professor Utonium's assistant helper monkey, but exposure to Chemical X caused his brain to mutate and grow, and the Professor's newfound love for the girls led to his path of villainy. In The Movie he has a whole army of Uplifted Simians, but they object to him being the one in charge and start fighting over who should rule Townsville.
  • Primal (2019): The eponymous ape-men of the episode "Rage of the Ape-Men" are a tribe of savages with a violent culture, holding some kind of fighting tournament in an arena and having a magical serum that enhances size, strength and aggression. Their champions are gorilla-like brutes, but the commoners are smaller monkey-men who Zerg Rush their opponents.
  • In one episode of The Simpsons Ned Flanders ends up in a baboon enclosure. The creatures are portrayed frighteningly straight (parodying a similiar scene from ''The Omen with violent baboons), and they almost wind up killing him.
  • Baboon and his army of monkey ninjas from Skunk Fu!.
  • Mister Smarty Smarts from Spliced, the show's resident Ineffectual Sympathetic Evil Genius, combines this trope with Devious Dolphins.
  • Addicus from Thundercats 2011. A serial murderer (with a dose of I'm a Humanitarian), rescued from the death row by Mumm-Ra's forces to serve as a Psycho for Hire.
  • In Xiaolin Showdown, Jack Spicer's favorite Shen Gong Wu is the Monkey Staff, which gives him the appearance and characteristics of a monkey.
  • Young Justice has had robotic monkeys, Cobra venom mutated monkeys, Monsieur Mallah, The Ultra-Humanite, and Joker monkeys in the tie-in comic. You can understand Conner's hatred of these buggers.

    Real Life 
  • Nonhuman primates in general are extremely dangerous animals.
    • Baboons are territorial, and they often raid human settlements to steal food. They tend to travel in groups, too.
    • Inverted with gorillas, who are generally docile and peaceful despite being more menacing in their appearance. In the wild, they’re even known to use diplomacy to resolve disputes amongst themselves and other tribes of their species. Harm them or their families, however, and you will soon learn why they have no natural predators. They also may react aggressively to a human chest pounding, smiling, or even looking them in the eye because these all are insults or threats to them. Unfortunately, these are all common things people do in front of them.
      • This silverback took particular offence at a young girl chest pounding, and quickly made the other humans laughing at him realise just who they were dealing with, courtesy of a punch that cracked the thick interior glass pane of his enclosure. Watch the reflections in the window closely, and you’ll see the exact moment everyone realises they made a serious mistake!
    • Chimpanzees are especially dangerous because the common comical and cute portrayal they get in media has led to a mass underestimation of just how violent they can be. People get them as pets for their "cuteness" and been mauled to death. Seriously, they've been known to torture other chimps, and other animals, to death in the wild. Males fight for and enforce dominance with brutal fights and aggression. They also have been known to go to "war," where two troops stay in conflict for a extended period of time until one is entirely wiped out. They also have been caught killing and cannibalizing other chimps, including infant chimps.
  • Human primates are sometimes considered the most dangerous animals on Earth.note  Which makes sense, considering we're the only ones with nukes.
  • Jeff Corwin has frequently handled venomous snakes and other reptiles, but dislikes and fears monkeys; everywhere he goes, monkeys cause him problems.


Video Example(s):


The Jungle Book

Mowgli is kidnapped by King Louie's monkey servants.

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Example of:

Main / ManiacMonkeys

Media sources:

Main / ManiacMonkeys