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Sea Aping

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Letting kids down one generation at a time.
"Check this out. "Aqua Primates". A-Primes, Ferb. The back of the box shows them crowning the queen, fighting robots, and designing websites. Ferb, we've totally got to get this!"
Phineas, Phineas and Ferb

Sea monkeys are a hybrid breed of brine shrimp called Artemia NYOS, invented in 1957 by Harold Von Braunhut. These brine shrimp were marked as "instant life," and were sold using illustrations of anthropomorphic shrimp doing various human-like activities, although they rarely do anything on their own. The product was heavily marketed in the 1960s and 70s, especially in comic books, and remains a presence in popular culture. This is a link to the real life original ad for sea monkeys. This trope is about all of the fictional sea monkey-like brands that show up in media.

Common traits of these expies include:

  • Being advertised as some sort of primate species, like sea humans for example, but never as actual sea monkeys, as those are a brand name. They will also never be called "sea-men", unless the show goes for an intentional Double Entendre.
  • Advertisement:
  • They are often marketed as instant life where you have to add water for them to move.
  • Being advertised in comic books.
  • Being depicted as anthropomorphic shrimp doing human-like activities.
  • Sometimes actually being able to do human-like activities and starting their own society.
  • Sometimes instead of being brine-shrimp, they are depicted as being monkey-like.

Sub-trope of Bland-Name Product. See also Free Prize at the Bottom and Competition Coupon Madness, which might be where the sea monkeys came from.


Examples using fictional brand names

    open/close all folders 
    Live Action TV 
  • One Bones episode had Hodgins using “Sea Chimps” in one of his experiments

    Video Games 
  • Parodied in Journey To The Savage Planet, which has an ad for a toy called the "Micro-Mills Mall Monkeys Plaza," which, instead of brine shrimp, uses miniature (ie, "stands comfortably on a fingertip") human clones and an Arcology the size of a large coffee table.
  • The Sea Monkees of Kingdom of Loathing are humanized brine shrimp, with characters based off of Sea-Monkey ads, and live in a castle inspired by the default Sea-Monkeys tank. They're also a dual Shout-Out to The Monkees. They're a friendly tribe of Unscaled Merfolk, contrasting with the hostile Mer-Kin, who antagonise not only the player, but the sea-monkees themselves as well.
  • In Space Quest V: The Next Mutation, Roger is pressured by a salesman during his visit to a space station into buying some space-monkeys. He uses them later to create a distraction, which ends up destroying the station.

    Western Animation 
  • In the 3-2-1 Penguins! episode "Lazy Daze", Jason wants to borrow money from Michelle in order to buy some sea chimps.
  • The Adventures of Sam & Max: Freelance Police: Mack Salmon's plan in "They Came From Down There!" revolves around selling Sea Chimps (that look just like the ones on the box!) as well as growing genetically altered larger Sea Chimps to cut up for meat.
  • In Arthur, a flashback scene from "Arthur Sells Out" has a four-year-old Arthur and Buster buy Sea Squirrels after seeing a commercial for them on television. When they play with the Sea Squirrels, they turn out to be just a pink ball floating in a fishbowl. Arthur then says, "That doesn't look like a squirrel, it looks like something my baby sister spit up!" and throws the Sea Squirrels in the garbage. At the end of the episode, when Muffy buys the Dark Bunny: Revenge of the Moomies video game that Arthur was trying to buy, only to find out that the game is absolutely terrible, Buster's criticism of the game is "The Sea Squirrels were better than this!"
  • In Frankenweenie, Bob conducts electricity into his sea creatures, which turn into small monsters that resemble a cross between a monkey and the Gill-Man from Creature from the Black Lagoon.
  • Phineas and Ferb features the titular step-brothers using growth elixir to turn the "A-Primes" (short for Aqua-Primates) human-sized. Like the Sea-Monkeys, the A-Primes are depicted as having a whole civilization.
  • An episode of Rugrats had Tommy and Chuckie being sad at their "Sea Monies" being stuck in a fishbowl, so they smuggled them to the beach in Stu's cooler and helped release them into the ocean. Earlier in the episode, Didi declares them to be an educational toy, while Stu grumbles at how much money he had to pay for "a bowl full of reconstituted brine shrimp".
  • An episode of The Simpsons titled "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming" had a couch gag with the family as "Sea Monsters," which are green brine shrimp.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants Season 12 episode "King Plankton" has SpongeBob with an aquarium (despite the fact that they're already underwater) of "sea chimps" (who are depicted as actual chimps) that he wants Plankton to watch. They are actually shown to have a civilization.
  • In South Park's episode "The Simpsons Already Did It", one of the main plots focuses on Cartman's Sea People developing their own society after exposure to semen.
  • The Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "The Undersea World of Fifi" (narrated by a Mock Cousteau Fifi La Fume) features Elmyra going on a deep-diving exploration to find sea monkeys. They are shown as purple finned aquatic monkeys on par with the size of actual monkeys.

Examples using the actual Sea Monkey brand name

    Films - Animated 
  • In The Secret Life of Pets, some of the flushed pets include sea monkeys, who were flushed away because they didn’t look like the ad.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • According to Dilbert, Dogbert once tried to conquer the world using Sea Monkeys as his servants.
    Dogbert: None of them survived boot camp.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of American Dad! had Roger with his pet sea monkeys that he was proud of at first, then he kills them with alcohol.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Let’s Go to the Hop," Chris has a family of sea monkeys in a tank, who are shown eating dinner at a table and are scared of Chris.


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