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L-R, top to bottom: Son Goku, Infernape, Gokuwmon, Sonson.
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Journey to the West is one of China's greatest epics and it has spawned a lot of derivative works. Amongst the most famous characters is none other than the Monkey King, Sun Wukong. As a result, this monkey king often becomes a stock figure for Eastern-based monkey fighters to be based on, often popping up in other places where they're not supposed to be a "retelling" or "derivative" of the epic story. As such, these characters often come without the counterparts of his other companions, Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing, as well as his master Xuanzang Sanzang (though he tends to be the most recurring character that pops up alongside the Wukong derivative). But if a character is based on this guy, chances are, it would be one badass monkey (yes, this even applies to female characters based on him).

These characters often come with these traits:

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  • Obviously, this character has the Animal Motifs of a monkey. Either they are a humanoid monkey or have several monkey-like traits, such as being dumb as a brick or having a big appetite. The latter trait was ironically, shared by his original companion Zhu Bajie.
  • They come with one or two or more of Sun Wukong's repertoires below. If the monkey-motif is fulfilled, then one of these will be enough. However, if the monkey-motif is NOT present, they must have at least TWO of these to count:
    • Battle Staff, often at times a Telescoping Staff. Sun Wukong fights with the Ruyi Jingu Bang (AKA Nyoi Kinko Bou in Japanese; lit. Compliant Gold-Rimmed Pole), the staff that can elongate or shrink at its owner's will, thus having a staff is a must for this trope, though one can alternate it with using something like a Sansetsukon (Three-section staff).
    • The Nimbus Cloud. Sun Wukong is known to summon a cloud that he can ride on his own, increasing his mobility, mostly known as the 'Nimbus Cloud/Flying Nimbus' or by its actual name Jindouyun/Kinto'un (lit. Somersault Cloud) which is actually also a technique that involves somersaulting through the clouds from the source material.
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    • Mini-selves. One of Sun Wukong's most renowned abilities is to pull hairs from his body then blow on them with his magic to transform them into miniature versions of himself. Alternatively, they just summon mirror images of themselves.
    • Golden Ring Headband. When Wukong becomes a disciple of Sanzang, he's forced to equip a headband so Sanzang can recite a mantra that causes him pain in case he gets too hotheaded and naughty, to make him learn some good lessons. Characters of this trope can be seen wearing this kind of headband, though the restraining order are usually absent.
  • Optional: They will occasionally be in servitude to someone else, bodyguarding them. Usually this is the Sanzang Expy, but there has been a lot of stand-alone Wukong expies but if they want a companion from the same series, the model used will usually be Sanzang. Unless there's a Sanzang Expy, don't expect an Expy of Zhu Bajie or Sha Wujing to appear, usually to showcase Wukong's unbeatable badass credentials and that he can take on everything on his own. Well, mostly.
  • Mischievous Nature. Sun Wukong is also one of the earlier trickster characters, so those who are derived from him tend to have some sort of tendency towards mischief, either to screw with the enemy, or as part of his charm and personality. Should there be a Sanzang derivative accompanying him, they may have to reel in the Wukong derivative to stop messing around if they think the situation should be taken in seriously, though never with the Golden Ring Headband.
  • And above all else, this character is not Sun Wukong himself. There are many works where the actual Sun Wukong is portrayed like this even without his compatriots, but in that case he's the real deal, not this trope.

For some reason, this trope is excessively popular in the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre of video games. If there isn't a playable character based on Sun Wukong, chances are one of them has his outfit as a skin. This can be attributed to the fact that he is a well-known character with an iconic weapon and set of abilities which lend themselves well to being made into a character's skill set. The genre is also popular in China, and including a well-known Chinese mythical hero is one way to pander to such a large crowd of potential players.

Not to be confused with expies of the specific character Son Goku from Dragon Ball (himself an example of this trope); there's another trope for that.

Also see Journey to the West's Referenced By page for works that nod to the source in other ways.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Son Goku from Dragon Ball is anime's most famous since he was originally created as being loosely based on Sun Wukong. His name is the Japanese reading of Wukong (as he basically stole his name and ran with it ever since), he had a monkey tail, fought with a staff that could extend endlessly (same Asian name as the original staff), could turn into a monstrous monkey when he looked at the full moon, and traveled on a golden cloud called the Nimbus (again, same Asian name as the original flying cloud). After Z, this becomes downplayed as he takes on more Stock Shōnen Hero characteristics, most that he invented. He does keep some of his Sun Wukong's traits like becoming an actual god, his monstrous strength, his ability to copy techniques that he sees, his mischievous personality, and he still has the Nimbus around for his family to use. He of course, also codified the Big Eater trait that as mentioned before, was originally supposed to be Zhu Bajie's.
  • Son Goku from Saiyuki as it is a "loose" interpretation of the original source, where he's a kid (that's 18 years physically though) that fights with a staff, acts like a curious monkey that often lands him being called "Stupid Monkey". He also wears the golden ring headband as a power limiter for his Superpowered Evil Side. He too, also has a Big Eater trait, though it's played a bit more darkly when you look at his past.
  • Genjou Sanzou (AKA the JPN reading of Xuanzang Sanzang) from Read or Die. Like all the antagonists, he's a clone of a historical figure. In this case, he's a clone of the man who wrote Journey to the West, and was given abilities and weapons based on Sun Wukong.
  • Digimon: Gokuwmon is a Beast Man-type Digimon based on Sun Wukong. In addition to Gokuwmon's ape-like appearance, the Digimon Reference Book states that he is on a journey throughout the Digital world seeking strong opponents to fight, is restricted by the Kinkoji golden ring headhand on his head, and also uses a magical staff as his Weapon of Choice. To take the influences of Journey to the West even further, he is also accompanied by Digimon named Sanzomon who is a gender flipped version of Sanzo.
    • Predating Gokuwmon by over ten years, Hanumon (or Apemon, if you're going by the English nomenclature) is another, slightly less blatant example. His main form of attack is the elongating bone staff carried on his back, his bio states that he flies around on a cloud-like object, and his ability to shoot off hardened strands of his hair to attack may be inspired by Sun Wukong's ability to create copies from his hair. His name is also a rather thinly-veiled reference to the god Hanuman, who served as the inspiration for Sun Wukong himself.
  • Shinzo: Given that this anime series draws much inspiration from Journey to the West, in which it is recast as a Sci-fi adventure in a post-apocalyptic world (somewhat akin to the Enslaved: Odyssey to the West example below), an example naturally shows up here. Mushra is like Sun Wukong, as he loves to fight, wields a staff, and wears a golden headband. In addition he and two other companions have to protect someone (Yakumo) much like Sun Wukong and his companions had to protect Xuanzang along his journey.
  • Chinyuki: Taro To Yukaina Nakama Tachi: This series is a darkly twisted parody of Journey to the West in which an assassin named Taro Yamada is punished by a Buddhist monk to be turned into a baby-monkey-hybrid-being and must serve and protect the monk to atone for his sins of serial murder (and also pooping on his victims' graves afterwards). However, in spite of these comical changes in comparison to its source material, it is somewhat more accurate in that Taro, in contrast to many other characters based on Sun Wukong who are morally upright heroes from the start, he is very much an Anti-Role Model who is forced to become a better person against his will much like Sun Wukong following his attempted rebellion against the Chinese pantheon (Though whereas the Monkey King did eventually become a better person over the course of the story, Taro remained a thoroughly unscrupulous person for Chinyuki's run).
  • Gintama: Shoukaku of the Harusame Space Pirates has many elements of Sun Wukong, of which include being a primate-like being (though Shoukaku is a Killer Gorilla rather than a monkey), his joy of combat, and his use of a Simple Staff as his choice of weapon. Even more coincidentally is that he's voiced by Rikiya Koyama, the voice actor who voiced the version of the OG Sun Wukong/Son Goku himself from the Warriors Orochi series.
  • Hunter × Hunter: Saiyu, the Monkey based member of the Zodiacs, is one of the highest ranking members of the Hunter Association. In addition to being based on the Monkey from the Chinese Zodiac, he is also based on Sun Wukong in that he that he enjoys battle, lacks humility (though Sun Wukong gradually became more humane and humble in the latter parts of the novel), and employs the use of a Telescoping Staff.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!: Ku Fei is a Gender Flipped version of Sun Wukong. She is a Chinese warrior who wields a Telescoping Staff, which in-story is a replica of the one used by Sun Wukong himself. Reinforcing the Sun Wukong inspiration is that Ku Fei also works as a bodyguard, much like how Sun Wukong served as the protector of Xuanzang and the other members of his group. Also can be noted is that she has blonde hair, which while her design is based on Kaolla Su from Love Hina (also made by the same author as Negima), it can also lend itself to being like the Monkey King given that many portrayals have featured him with blonde or reddish hair.
  • Naruto: The Four-Tails's real name is Son Gokū. He's a giant gorilla, and his host's name is Roshi.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog: Monkey Khan (AKA Ken Khan) is a cyborg monkey whose body was modified by the original Dr. Robotnik in an effort to create obedient super soldiers. Among the other traits he shares with Sun Wukong are his design, having superpowered martial arts skills and prowess (which in Khan's case manifests as electricity-based), using a staff as his weapon of choice, using a flying cloud for transport, and an inhibiting device in the form of a gold band around his head.
  • Marvel Comics has a character introduced in a 2011 Iron Man comic issue named Monkey King who attempts to take the extending staff Ruyi Jingu Bang from THE Sun Wukong. As he was not deemed to be Pure Of Heart in order to wield it, he was sent to the Eighth City of Heaven, a prison that housed many demons, until he escaped thanks to the Absorbing Man destroying the walls of the prison during the events of the "Fear Itself" Storyline. Monkey King has eventually become a more heroic character, even meeting up and allying with Immortal Iron Fist, the Marvel universe's top Martial Arts master.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Kung Fu Panda franchise features a Decomposite Character of Sun Wukong. Monkey is one of the martial arts masters known as the Furious Five who wields a staff in battle; he also has a brother known as Wu Kong who is a monkey who commits petty crime as his form of amusement (sharing the mischievous trickster aspects of the Monkey King).

    Literature 
  • Journey to Chaos: Eric Watley is a Guile Hero mage wielding a Magic Staff. Two of his favorite spells are Winged Feet and Air Disc to increase his mobility. Starting with Looming Shadow, Eric enjoys acting like Sun Wukong such as calling himself "the handsome metal monkey" and staging pranks.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Super Sentai:
    • Ninja Sentai Kakuranger: Sasuke (a.k.a. Ninja Red), as with all the other members, is based on a character from Journey to the West with his counterpart being Sun Wukong. Like the Monkey King, Sasuke is initially uncaring and mischievous but becomes more humble and disciplined over time, has a Doppelganger Attack ability like him, and also has a monkey based mecha. Kakuranger also tends to have the heroes subdued and tied up... but Sasuke is never the victim of it, just like how in the original book, Wukong is never the one to get caught by any demons' trick.
    • A Monkey King-style Monster of the Week will occasionally appear in the series. Two such series with them are Juken Sentai Gekiranger and Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger.
    • RyuseiOh in Gosei Sentai Dairanger also has some Monkey King-like traits, despite being a dragon mecha instead of a monkey. The season as a whole has a Chinese motif, and RyuseiOh has a staff weapon and the other Heavenly Chi Beasts can form a platform that it flies around on like Sun Wukong's cloud.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • New Japan Pro-Wrestling: YOSHI-HASHI is at least an invocation given that his outfit is modeled on that of Sun Wukong and even carries a staff with him.

    Religion & Mythology 
  • Hanuman is a character in several Hindu stories, most notably the Ramayana. Hanuman isn't the same as the Sun Wukong, but you can see the similarities. Actually, this is an Inverted Trope, because some scholars think Sun Wukong may have been influenced by Hanuman, and Monkey King Lite is about characters who were influenced by Sun Wukong. (Sun Wukong can be traced back to about 1000 years, and the Ramayana is even older.)

    Tabletop Games 
  • Infinity: Nomad Nation features Bran Do Castro, a monkey-like character with a staff and a headband. He is the only known "Triple Zero" (Zeros being standard Nomad infiltrating troops) and is predictably a beast in close combat.

    Video Games 
  • The Soul Series has two particular examples, who take different aspects. Kilik is the much more serious hero, who takes a lot more of the loyal parts, not to mention being The Leader to his little group (bonus points for being voiced by Soichiro Hoshi, the VA who voiced the Goku from Gensoumaden Saiyuki). Xiba on the other hand, is a much more obvious example, being a typical trickster and constantly fixated on food to the point of shouting "FOOD!" as his death cry. Both characters are bojutsu practitioners, with their primary weapons (the Kali-Yuga for Kilik; the Three Karmas and, later, the Kali-Yuga for Xiba) being based on Sun Wukong's Ruyi Jingu Bang (both also have extra weapons more closely inspired by the Ruyi Jingu Bang, the Jingu Staff). Kilik is known for his ability to absorb and purify evil energy via the Kali-Yuga (taught to him by his master, Edge Master), which could very well be drawn from the Monkey King's power to detect evil through his huoyan-jinjing ("fiery-eyes golden-gaze"). Kilik is a Warrior Monk who no longer has a real home to go back to and travels the land stamping out evil; one of Sun Wukong's titles was Xingzhe, meaning "ascetic" (as in a wandering monk). Xiba, however, carries more of the Monkey King imagery. Likely an orphan (as well as, according to Japanese sourcebooks, the estranged son of both Kilik and Xianghua), he is said to have been born on the Zhen Hang Mountain, suggesting that he raised himself in the wild; this matches up with accounts of Sun Wukong's early life. Xiba wears a tiger pelt around his waist which gives off the illusion of him having a tail. Several of his moves are named after monkeys and his overall style resembles the staff fighting branch of Monkey Kung Fu (Hou Gun), while his Critical Edge is named Kong's Dance of Qi Tian Da Sheng, Qitian Dasheng AKA Seiten Taisei in Japanese (lit. "Equaling Heaven Great Sage") being another one of Sun Wukong's titles.
  • League of Legends has Wukong The Monkey King as a playable character amongst its huge roster. In spite of having the same name, he's not the actual Sun Wukong (barring the Chinese servers). He starts out as a super-intelligent monkey from the Plague Jungles with a drive to be the best at everything, then encounters Master Yi, the last surviving practitioner of Wuju Style martial arts. Yi agrees to show Wukong the human world in exchange for becoming his apprentice and agreeing to pass on what he learns someday. He fights with a variable length staff, can summon a nimbus cloud (and uses it in his idle animations), can create illusionary clones of himself, and turns to stone upon death. He later is more retconned to be a species of man-monkey who happened to be a cut different from the rest of his kind, which is what lead to his adventurous side.
    • To drive the point home, he even has the same Japanese voice as the Goku from Dragon Ball, Masako Nozawa, as a straight up actor allusion (the original Sun Wukong himself via his Smite portrayal has his English voice Sean Schemmel voicing him beforehand).
  • Monkey King from Heroes of Newerth is another of the MOBA heroes that is based on Sun Wukong. Fighting differently than the aforementioned Wukong, this Monkey King uses his staff to rupture the ground that he can use to jump around for repositioning. His ultimate is merely riding his Nimbus Cloud, which increases his movement speed if he's not entering combat, which is good for travel.
  • Dota 2:
    • Azwraith, the Phantom Lancer, was originally intended to be the game's designated Monkey King Lite. The similarities are mostly limited to his Self-Duplication abilities and one item that replaces his spear with Wukong's staff.
    • Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, was later added as the first hero who wasn't in Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars. He's an Agility hero who can leap on trees and disguise himself as various objects (trees, couriers, runes) depending on the situation. His ultimate also summons multiple clones of himself that attack nearby enemies. It might look like an aversion because it was implied that it's the actual Sun Wukong since Zeus and Medusa in the same game were taken straight from Greek Mythology, however, Wukong's in-game lore imply that this is not the same Wukong, but someone with the same name and had similar life journey fitted to the Dota lore. For instance, it's not Buddha that sealed him but the three Spirits (Earth, Ember and Storm).
  • Karin Son from Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer is a female one, and because she's from a Masami Obari work, she ends up very laden with fanservice, though she still comes with the golden ring headband. She might not look like a monkey, but she's claimed to be a descendant of races similar to Wukong, the Seiten Taisei, and also is very energetic and excitable. She's armed with a staff that can elongate, can ride on her own Nimbus Cloud, and her move that can be transferred to the player is to summon a miniature version of herself.
  • SonSon from from the titular Capcom sidescroller SonSon is modelled after Wukong. Aside of his general appearance, he uses a staff that shoots out projectiles, and him respawning has him riding on a cloud. He is also accompanied by a Pig Man called TonTon. While you might remember "him" from Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes, that is actually his granddaughter as a semi-Original Generation.
  • Toyotomi Hideyoshi as portrayed in Samurai Warriors surprisingly fits the bill. He fights with a Sansetsukon, and he has a lot of monkey motifs and mannerisms without actually looking like one, and was even nicknamed "Monkey" by Oda Nobunaga. He's also a bit of a goofball in lighter times.
  • Gokuu from World Heroes, is based on Sun Wukong, surprising because the other characters in the roster are based on historical people, not mythological. Regardless, he has a very monkey-ish attitude, wears his golden ring headband, enters the battle with his nimbus cloud and his super includes summoning miniature versions of himself... as bees.
  • Two examples can be found in the Mega Man franchise:
    • Buster Rod G is a Robot Master only seen in Mega Man The Wily Wars, who is also based on Wukong, being a robot monkey that wields a staff that can elongate, or create mirror images of himself.
    • Mega Man Zero: Hanumachine, while named after the Hindu monkey god Hanuman, has a design closer to Sun Wukong - he's a monkey-based Reploid who has the golden circlet, the Telescoping Staff and is able to summon mini-clones of himself.
  • Enslaved: Odyssey to the West: Given that this game is a loose retelling of Journey to the West set in a post-apocalyptic world, Monkey is by default based on Sun Wukong including having his iconic equipment (staff, cloud, headband). It is also driven home with one of Monkey's unlockable costumes, which is a red and gold robe directly based on the robe commonly seen in other depictions of The Monkey King.
  • Anchira / Andira of Granblue Fantasy. She's got all the details to be a Monkey King Lite, namely the monkey motif, staff as a weapon, the nimbus cloud, the ability to summon copies of herself and a golden ring headband.
  • Pokémon: Infernape is a composite of two mythological figures. The gold elements in its design as well as its Japanese name are most likely linked to Son Goku, the Japanese interpretation of the character. It is also similar to the Vanara, a race of ape-like humanoids in the Hindu epic Ramayana.
  • Warframe: The aptly named Wukong Warframe, described as "A primal warrior with the heart of a trickster." His abilities include Primal Fury, which summons a variable-size staff, and Cloud Walker, which hides Wukong in clouds.
  • Project X Zone: Kogoro Tenzai is a staff-fighting 'detective ninja' whose jutsu includes self-multiplication, and his staff hides short swords. In addition, he's wearing a headband similar to Wukong's Golden Ring Headband, and Mii Kouryuuji serves as his Xuanzang counterpart, the woman he's bodyguarding and being a Supporting Protagonist for and being the Big Good of the struggles. Ironically, Kogoro was Mii's instructor instead of the other way around like Wukong and Xuanzang.
  • Heroes of the Storm became the latest MOBA to jump on this trope's train when it released a Sun Wukong skin for the blademaster hero Samuro, complete with custom voice lines. This is because Blizzard games didn't have a particularly notable example of the trope to become a full blown hero, so they had to make do with a skin, but thankfully Samuro's skins were close enough to fit with Wukong, especially his ability to create illusions.
  • Paragon is yet another MOBA with their own obligatory Wukong. However, with the developer's tendency of throwing practically anything and seeing what sticks, it's ambiguous as to whether or not he is the actual Monkey King. He has the staff (referred to by its actual name), "cloudwalking", he can duplicate himself and he has the headband.
  • Suikoden: Downplayed with the first game's protagonist Tir McDohl, who uses a three-sectioned staff, and wears a bandanna instead of circlet (the circlet instead goes to the next game's protagonist Riou, who wields a pair of tonfas instead). The game as a whole is inspired by another of China's Four Classical Novels, Water Margin.
  • Asura's Wrath: Asura is an incredibly powerful immortal that dedicates himself to Rage Against the Heavens and the gods that rule over it with an iron fist. He emerges from beneath a mountain (just as Sun Wukong was born from a stone on a mountain) and actively faces off against Chakravartan (which is essentially an evil Buddha) after toppling the Seven Deities and their armies. And let's not forget this infamous little scene.
  • Overwatch gives gorilla hero Winston a skin based on Sun Wukong for the Lunar New Year event. A comic released for LNY 2017 depicts Winston and other heroes filling the roles of the Journey to the West characters.
  • Skree of Awesomenauts has a skin based on Sun Wukong, replacing his floating sawblade with a cloud and his weapon with a staff.
  • Best Fiends has Wu the Tarsier, introduced for the Year of the Monkey New Year event. While just a standard monkey in his first three forms, his final two forms dress him in red robes with a gold headband holding his topnot, while also giving him a staff. His static art gives him a cloud to ride on, which he is missing in the game. His bios also says that he prefers brawn to brains in his fighting style.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Sun Wukong is a monkey Faunus who's mischievous, cocky, wields a staff-nunchaku hybrid (made out of shotguns) named Ruyi Bang and Jingu Bang, and has a superpower to make duplicates of himself.

    Western Animation 
  • Jackie Chan Adventures has the Monkey King in two episodes, who is portrayed as a humanoid ape-monkey hybrid with red fur. He wears a golden headband and carries a staff, and is both a proficient martial artist and sorcerer. He is a trickster who considers himself the "monkey king of comedy", but he has a twisted sense of humour and doesn't care if someone dies as a result of his jokes. Most of the time he is trapped in the form of a puppet unless someone pulls his leg, making them swap places with him and become a puppet instead.
    • The pure irony? That version of him in Japanese is voiced by Ryusei Nakao; so Frieza, how does it feel having your voice associated with a closer-to-original version of your nemesis?
  • Avatar Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender. He is a young, rambunctious boy that wields a staff, rides a flying apparatus (Sun Wukong riding a cloud, Aang riding Appa) with divine powers (as one would expect from the Avatar). Both end up entrapped for many years (Sun Wukong having been trapped beneath a mountain by the Buddha, Aang within a glacier) and would later join a group of people on a journey that would strengthen them spiritually and enrich the world around them (Sun Wukong learning the tenants of Buddhism on their search for the sacred texts, Aang learning the other bending arts to defeat Fire Lord Ozai and restoring balance).

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