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Primal Chest-Pound

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One way of demonstrating a being's wildness is for them to beat their chest while yelling. This might be combined with a Mighty Roar.

This is most often done by gorillas (killer or otherwise). When a character that is not a gorilla does it, it is usually either to show that he feels as strong and mighty as a gorilla, or that he is as brutish and uncultured as an ape. It also may be Played for Laughs, when it is done by a small and/or weak character.

Two Stock Shout Outs often include chest pounding. One is a literal Shout Out to Tarzan, where the character lets out the ape-man's Signature Roar while beating his chest; the other is "King Kong" Climb, where the creature on top of the building (which is often a King Kong Copy) pounds its chest to recreate the iconic scene from King Kong (1933).

In reality, gorillas may pound their chest for different purposes: as a display of dominance, as a release of stress, to warn neighbouring gorilla groups about their presence, and most notably, it is one of the nine phases of the ritualized fight between Silverbacks. Juvenile gorillas also beat their chest playfully. Also, it is usually inaccurately portrayed in media: real gorillas more often do it with open or cupped hands rather than clenched fists, which produces a sound that's less "thumping" and more "popping." Furthermore, they seldom vocalize while beating their chest, and when they do, it's more of a hooting or whinnying sound than a Mighty Roar.


It might be part of a Victory Pose of a savage, brutish fighter, especially when combined with a Victorious Roar. Compare Stop Hitting Yourself where it's someone else who moved the hands of the victim to hit him/herself, and Macho Masochism, when the character hurts himself in a much more painful way to show off his toughness. Contrast Breast Attack, when a character hits someone else's chest in a fight (usually a woman's as it's more painful to them).



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z: The final form of Majin Buu, Kid Buu, does this before his final fight with Goku and Vegeta. Humorously, he continues pounding his chest even as Goku kicks him in the face and sends him flying into a cliff. There's no particular reason for him doing this — he's just completely off his rocker.
  • Ape Admin from the TBS version of Aggretsuko does this when she gets upset or excited, as one of the many Furry Reminders the series uses as jokes. Commendably, she explains in one episode that she's using the palms of her hands to do it.
  • In Zoids: Chaotic Century, Iron Kong Zoids are sometimes seen pounding their chests before attacking.
  • In Pokémon, Norman's Slaking does this over the course of his battle against Ash's Grovyle. The giant mechanical Slaking in "Slaking Kong" also does it in his introduction scene.
    • Earlier on, in the short "Pikachu's Vacation" at one point Ash's Charizard is taking a nap when Pikachu and a Raichu come up running and step on his tail, startling him awake. He pounds on his chest while blowing flames before chasing after them.
  • In Toriko, this is invoked during the Rainbow Fruit arc: as they reach the Biotope where the fruit grows, the heroes hear a loud banging noise, which Toriko correctly interprets as the local "boss of the Biotope", the Troll Kong, beating his chest to intimidate intruders. Toriko simply causes a bigger noise by thumping his own chest as an answer to the Troll Kong's challenge.
  • In Kemono Friends Season 2, Western Lowland Gorilla makes her debut appearance pounding her chest to get the attention of her bickering followers. Commendably, she does this with her open hands and palms instead of her fists, and it produces a "popping" sound rather than "thumping".

    Comic Books 
  • The Marsupilami sometimes does this. One Spirou and Fantasio story also has the Marsupilami encounter a gorilla, who proceeds to do the typical chest-beating and tree-ripping intimidation display. Subverted in that the gorilla ends up too exhausted to fight back.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield does it in this strip to show he's tough enough to eat a "He-Man Burger".
  • In one U.S. Acres strip, Cody the dog pounds his chest to show he's as strong and mean as a gorilla... then stoops in pain from it.

    Films — Animation 
  • Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit: The eponymous beast does this in the forest — while howling like a wolf — which incites all the normal garden bunnies to imitate him.
  • In Tarzan, Kerchak does it on two occasions: first when getting enraged about Kala adopting Tarzan, and second when he menaces Jane in the human camp. In a rare case of Shown Their Work, he does it with open hands. Tarzan also does it in the closing shot of the movie (with clenched fists) while letting out his Signature Roar.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Tarzan is sometimes shown doing this while performing the "Tarzan Yell", as the title character does in Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981), as seen here. This is carried over from the books (see Literature).
  • King Kong, being a giant gorilla, does this from time to time; most iconically after defeating the giant reptile (Tyrannosaurus rex / giant snake / V-rex), and when fighting the planes on top of the building.
  • Multiple characters do it in in George of the Jungle, including Ape the ape when he pretends that he's an unintelligent, non-talking animal, George as part of his courtship display to Ursula, and a monkey (named Little Monkey) when fending off a lion. See the last one here.
  • Dian Fossey does this in Gorillas in the Mist when she imitates the gorillas' behavior to blend in with the group. The scene is a bit of a Fridge Logic, considering that chest-beating often means a display of dominance or a challenge to fight — probably not the best idea when you are trying to earn the trust of a 300-pound silverback.
  • Peewee does this (complete with Tarzan Yodel) to celebrate Sex as Rite-of-Passage at the end of Porky's.


    Live-Action TV 

  • Eve Minor's song "Queen of the Jungle" contains the line "Pound my chest like gorilla I keep on fighting", as a metaphor for staying strong after getting hurt. In the music video, appropriately, she pounds her chest while singing the line.
  • Bruno Mars' "Gorilla" invokes it in a somewhat inverted way: "'Cause what I got for you\I promise it's a killer\You'll be banging on my chest\Bang bang, gorilla"

    Video Games 

    Web Original 

  • This selective attention test. The viewer is asked to count how many times a basketball is passed. Halfway in the video, a person in a gorilla suit walks in, pounds his chest, and walks away.

    Western Animation 
  • Tom and Jerry both do it when caught up in the throes of their latest crush. Usually a variation of Post-Kiss Catatonia. A kiss makes them feel mighty.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In Bugs Bunny short "Rebel Rabbit", after the U.S. government puts a bounty of one million dollars on him, Bugs is overjoyed. He calls himself "Bugs Bunny, king of the beasts" and gives out a Tarzan yell while pounding his chest.
    • Bugs also thumps his chest in the short "Gorilla My Dreams" when mocking the angry Gruesome Gorilla.
  • The gorilla in SpongeBob SquarePants episode "I Had an Accident" likes to do this in-between his beatings of Sandy and Patrick.
  • Tarzan does it in the opening credits of The Legend of Tarzan, as well as on various occasions in the show. Other characters such as Kerchak, Tublat, Moyo and even Professor Porter do it too in various episodes (the first three characters are gorillas, and the Professor is pretending that he is Tarzan).
  • An old episode of Beavis and Butt-Head has Billy Bob doing this after he breaks through a whole to chase the pair for taking his scooter.
  • Candace has a treehouse robot do this while piloting it in the climactic fight of Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension.
  • Buttercup of The Powerpuff Girls does this at one point. While attempting to demonstrate her toughness by taking a hit from an unknown weapon created by Mojo Jojo, she stands in place, yelling and beating her chest while the shot is in flight. Had she not been rescued, she would have been de-powered, as her rescuer noted, was labeled on the weapon.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In episode "Triple Threat", Thorax the changeling shapeshifts into a large bear, and he immediately lets out a roar and pounds his chest — despite this intimidation gesture being more associated with gorillas than bears. Of course, he's neither.
  • In an episode of Masha and The Bear, the two title characters come up with possible scripts for a movie. One of them is King Kong with the Bear in the title role, thumping his chest on top of a skyscraper as airplanes fly towards him.
  • A Running Gag in Walter Lantz's "Pooch the Pup" cartoons is that, when Pooch's girlfriend Coonhound gets in trouble, he pounds his chest and lets out a Tarzan-esque yell before rescuing her.
  • A Terry Gilliam cartoon in Monty Python's Flying Circus presents "Charwoman", a naked, old, and ugly, but massively endowed woman "...fighting a never-ending battle against male chauvinism." Then she does a chest pounding, hitting each bouncing breast separately at first. But then she hits both breasts at the same time, and both explode like balloons, leaving her with a pair of big holes and looking mortified. The narrator groans that the cartoon is over and to go to the next sketch.
  • Mickey Mouse:
    • In the short "The Pet Shop", Beppo, the movie-loving gorilla, pounds his chest to imitate his film idol, King Kong.
    • In "Mickey's Garden", a giant beetle pounds its chest after drinking a whole bottle of bug poison. In an inversion of Four-Legged Insect, the beetle has eight limbs, and uses six of them for the chest-beating.
    • In "The Worm Turns", Mickey sprays a less anthropomorphic mouse chased by a cat with his courage elixir. As an effect of the elixir, the mouse lets out a Mighty Roar while pounding its chest, before charging at the cat.
    • In the 2013 short "New York Weenie", Mickey goes through a Sanity Slippage chasing a living hot dog. When the hot dog bounces into a zoo, Mickey pounds his chest in front of a "Beware! Wild Animals!" sign before entering the zoo himself.

    Real Life 
  • The traditional New Zealand dance "haka", traditionally performed by Maori warriors and popularized by the rugby team "All Blacks", includes slapping one's chest and yelling.


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