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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), or occasionally other primates like orangutans, chimpanzees, monkeys or ape-like cryptids. When a character that is not a gorilla does it, it is usually either to show that they feel as strong and mighty as a gorilla, or that they are 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 chests 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 gorillas can't form, since their fingers are longer than their thumbs), 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. Other primates beside gorillas (and occasionally humans) hardly ever show this behaviour.

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 themself, Macho Masochism, when the character hurts themself in a much more painful way to show off their toughness, and All Drummers Are Animals, where a savage character drums on an instrument rather than their own chest. Contrast Breast Attack, when a character hits someone else's chest in a fight.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Gohan beats on his chest at the first time he becomes oozaru (giant ape); unlike Vegeta and the other Saiyans raised in their native planet, he never was trained to keep his sentience during the transformation and is dominated by pure instinct.
    • 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.
  • 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".
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • 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 Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire, 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.
  • A Running Gag Episode 10 of Suite Pretty Cure ♪, notably once by Hibiki to entertain the children she's in charge of.
  • 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 Zoids: Chaotic Century, Iron Kong Zoids are sometimes seen pounding their chests before attacking.

    Asian Animation 
  • Boonie Bears: In Season 4 episode 4, Briar and Bramble the bears let out some roars before they chase after Logger Vick, with Briar in particular beating his chest like a gorilla with one of his roars.
  • Lamput:
    • Fat Doc and Slim Doc pound their chest while morphed into a gorilla in "Shape Shift".
    • In "Animal X", the gorilla in the cage Fat Doc brings to the lab pounds his chest at one point.
  • Wolffy does one in Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Mighty Little Defenders episode 27 when he states he would like to stay a wolf rather than be a dog, and howls to punctuate his wolf nature.

    Comic Books 
  • The Defenders: In the 2005 mini-series, after Namor beats the living daylights out of Dormammu's goons, Dr. Strange asks if he can release him "before he'll start beating his chest and bellowing like a bull ape", in a critic to Namor excessive aggression and lack of manners. It worths noting that arc was written by Keith Giffen and J. M. De Matteis, the responsibles for the Justice League's sarcastic/humoristic phase in the 80s.
  • The Marsupilami, being a monkey-like critter, sometimes does this. One Spirou & 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.
  • Monica's Gang: In a 70s story, an extra working as a gorilla in a movie gets amnesiac when a heavy bag falls on his head; a poster parodying King Kong (1976) makes him think he is King Kong. He runs from the studio, climbs on Jimmy and Smudge's club, does some chest-beating, then kidnaps Monica, taking her for Dean (Jessica Lange). Despite the attempts of Maggy and the boys to make the "gorilla" step down, the club crashes under his weight and Monica's; the fall returns his memories and he is dragged back to the movie by the director, who is impressed by the extra's feral "performance". Monica and Maggy think that everything ended up well, but Jimmy and Smudge, furious about their destroyed club, run after the girls howling and beating their chests.
  • Tintin: In "Tintin: The Black Island", an old man tells Tintin about a monster that "devours" everyone who dares set foot on the Black Island; to prove his story, they hear a distant, drumming sound at night. He eventually finds out that the "monster" is Ranko, a gorilla trained as an Attack Animal by the villains and the strange sound that terrified the villagers was Ranko beating his chest. Quite impressive that they could hear him from so far away.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin beats his bare chest in front of Susie when he's pretending to be Tarzan. She's unimpressed by him in nothing but his underpants.
  • Garfield does it in this strip to show he's tough enough to eat a "He-Man Burger".
    • Another strip had Jon claim that snowball fights are "barbaric". Garfield promptly beans him with a snowball, and then pounds his chest while letting out Tarzan's yell.
  • MAD: In a series made by Don Martin to parody Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, little Tarzan is in his "dad's" arms when a hostile ape defies the latter with a chest-beating. Daddy answers with another beating, shaking the baby.
  • 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.
  • In Rio 2, Tiago, the rambunctious parrot nestling beats his chest in excitement about going to a wild place like the Amazon.
  • In The Secret Life of Pets 2, as Snowball the rabbit engages in a fight with a circus monkey and lets out a challenging battle cry, the monkey responds to it by beating its chest like a gorilla.

    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.
  • Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams: The Spider Monkey pounds its chest like a gorilla at the end of the movie.
  • The Three Stooges: Larry does this in "Disorder In The Court" after removing a wad of gum from Moe's nose and stomping it on the ground. It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context.

  • Edgar Rice Burroughs' original Tarzan, being a man raised by apes, sometimes did this.
  • In Moving Pictures, the Librarian (an orangutan) tries this, and then has to wait for the buzzing in his ears and the flashing lights in front of his eyes to go away.
  • In the children's book The Bad Tempered Ladybird, one of the animals the titular character picks a fight with is a gorilla, who beats its chest in response to the ladybird's challenge.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Bachelor: In Season 24, during the Extreme Pillow Fight scene, Tammy is presented as an aggressive fighter, which is underlined with a clip of her ripping her shirt, pounding her chest and yelling.
  • Fawlty Towers: In "The Psychiatrist", Basil beats his chest like Tarzan, saying he is just enjoying himself. He does this in the presence of the titular psychiatrist, although Basil does not yet know this.
  • The Jack Benny Program (the TV version): Benny does a very wimpy, pathetic version in a sketch where he plays Tarzan. Jane (played by Guest Star Carol Burnett) fares much better minus the chest pound - her doing the Tarzan yell later became a Running Gag during the audience Q&A segment of The Carol Burnett Show.
  • Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger / Power Rangers Wild Force: Gao Gorilla / the Green Gorillazord does this when summoned.
  • Kamen Rider OOO: Weaponized by the titular character's Sagohzo Combo which allows them to create powerful shockwaves by shouting and banging their arms over their chest.
  • Spectreman: In the Western opening, Karras bangs on his chest before facing Spectreman. He's an alien gorilla and tries (unsucessfully) to look intimidating.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: The original script for "Amok Time" had Spock doing this and yelling "Kikki-nee klart!" Nimoy, and fans everywhere, are grateful to D.C. Fontana and Bob Justman for getting rid of that one.
  • In Walking with Beasts, when two Australopithecus troops meet and get in a squabble, a few of them beat their chest while screaming at the other troop.
  • Wonder Woman: In "Wonder Woman vs Gargantua", Gargantua pounds his chest while being displayed to the public.

  • From The Bonzo Dog Band's "The Intro and the Outro": "And specially flown in for us, a session's gorilla on Vox Humana!" (chest pound)
  • 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"
  • They Might Be Giants' "I'm Impressed" opens with the lines:
    I'm impressed, I'm impressed,
    When that gorilla beats his chest.
  • The song "ORANGATANGABANGIN" by $tatic Goonz has the following line:
    Bitch, I'm Gorilla da Spinna
    Ora, rangatangabangin on my chest.

    Tabletop Games 

    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 
  • Ben 10: Ultimate Alien: In "Fame", Ben pounds on his chest when he turns into Ultimate Spidermonkey (a gorilla with giant spider legs and four extra eyes) for the first time, before moping the floor with Bivalvan.
  • 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.
    • Spongebob does it right before lifting a stick with marshmallows in "Ripped Pants".
  • Sid does this in Hey Arnold! when he shows up for a frog-catching contest after getting over his fear of germs.
  • Optimus Primal, being a gorilla, does this on occasion in the Transformers series Beast Wars, . Most notably in the episode, "Call of the Wild".
  • The King Kong Show: The episode covers always show Kong thumping his chest at the top of a mountain.
  • 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 hole 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 (1998) 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 the 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.
  • In the Ruby Gloom episode "I'll Be Home For Misery", Misery's cavewoman cousin Mayhem does this at one point to indicate her savagery.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: Dee Dee does this during her victory over defeating Dexter in the "Primal Fighter" video game at the beginning of the episode "Game Over", declaring herself a "Primal Fighter champion".
  • Popeye: The eponymous sailor sometimes does this after consuming his spinach, to indicate that he has gained Super-Strength.
  • Primal (2019): Appropriately. In episode 4, an ape-man pounds his chest while screaming as he charges to the rescue of a tribe-mate. Episode 5 has two chest-pounding moments: first, one of the gorilla-like ape-man warriors does it before clashing with the other combatants, then Krog, the champion does it directly after transforming into a King Kong Copy.
  • Lord Hater briefly does this in the Wander over Yonder episode "The Fancy Party" as he rants that he, not Wander, should win Queen Entozoa's empire; potentially foreshadowing Season 2's eventual implication that he was a space ape from Earth before he became the Scary Skeleton we know in the show.
  • Total Drama: In "Monster Cash", Izzy Does This with a Tarzan Yell after Owen calls her Kaleidoscope after being left behind.

    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.
  • Truth in Television as gorillas do this in real life as an intimidation display. According to a 2021 study, gorillas can use this to signal their size and strength to each other, as larger gorillas' chest beats will produce lower frequency sounds compared to smaller ones. Never do this in front of a gorilla, though, as they will take it as a challenge and probably kill you. As pointed out in the description, they usually do it with open hands rather than clenched fists.
  • Harbor seals repeatedly slap their belly with their fins as a threat display toward other seals and humans that come too close. It functions the same as a gorilla's chest-beating, but from a human point of view it looks a lot less impressive due to the seals' chubby physique and general lack of mobility on land.


Video Example(s):



When the Lasagna aliens brought Spumoni home, they accidentally brought Garfield with him, which causes big trouble for these aliens, because compared to them, Garfield is like King Kong (only he's a cat).

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