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The Monolith

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A large black slab of 1:4:9 proportions,note  placed in reference to the Monoliths from 2001: A Space Odyssey. (The original monoliths were ancient, mysterious, and bizarrely powerful.) One of the Stock Parodies.

Compare Also sprach Zarathustra. See also Sinister Geometry.

Not to be confused with the DC Comics character, a heroic golem; the Marvel Comics character called The Living Monolith, who's an X-Men villain; Monolith the top-down shooter; The Monolith Monsters; Monolith Soft; or Monolith Productions.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Monster Rancher, there is a monster called 'Monol' with telepathic communication, ancient secrets, a deep voice and a story to tell.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, SEELE keeps in contact with NERV via monolith-like holograms when the organization's members want to remain concealed...or when they just want to be sinister and unnerving. By the time of Rebuild of Evangelion, in line with their Ancient Conspiracy atmosphere, the council are adapted into actual living monoliths, which makes defeating them as simple as turning them off.
  • In episode 13 of A Certain Scientific Railgun, the girls went to a swimsuit photo shoot, complete with a holodeck to provide proper backgrounds for the shoot - which promptly glitched out and placed them on the Moon, complete with the Monolith and Also sprach Zarathustra.
  • The way the Machine Emperor tablets are placed on earth in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds look similar to the monoliths. They also look like the Ka tablets from the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, which also tended to look like this.
  • Lebia Maverick of Silent Möbius owns a supercomputer named Louie that takes this form.

    Comic Books 
  • One issue of The Tick's comic-book had him and Arthur versus a town full of hick Mad Scientists who'd gained their super-intelligence from a monolith that had fallen in a local cornfield.
  • Jack Kirby briefly produced an ongoing 2001: A Space Odyssey comic book for Marvel, chronicling the Monoliths' interactions with humanity throughout history. The series is best remembered today for introducing the android hero Aaron Stack the Machine Man in its final issues. A Monolith appears to Aaron and helps guide him to stable sentience. Retellings of his origin usually omit the Monolith for licensing reasons, but it does pop up occasionally — most notably, decades later, the final issue of X-51 finally reveals that the Monolith aliens are the Celestials.
    • In homage to Aaron's origin, the Watchers' transport gateways look like this in Earth X. Eventually it begins being Lampshaded.
  • In the Belgian comic Le Grand Pouvoir du Chninkel, the creator god U'n appears in the form of a monolith. Or rather, since the end hints this comic was a prequel to 2001, U'n is the monolith.
  • Rat-Man once published a parody of 2001, where the monolith that originally made apes intelligent is rediscovered and a scientist wants to use it to make humankind Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence.
    • Another (non-canon) story narrates about two Star-Crossed Lovers (actually the author and his fiance) who meet and get separated throughout history as part of an alien experiment. In the opening scene they are cavemen and find a monolith, which turns out to be a blackboard.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one FoxTrot strip published around New Year's Day 2001, Jason invokes this by building a snow monolith and dressing in an ape suit, hoping that one of the bones he throws into the air will turn into a spaceship.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animation 
  • The animated movie of Gumby opens with the Monolith hovering in space over an alien's satellite dish, before it splits into the two slabs of clay that Gumby and Pokey are made of. They fuse back together at the end of the movie.
  • Possibly referenced in The LEGO Movie with the top of Lord Business' tower when it comes off and flies over Bricksburg.
    President Business: Don't worry about this big, black Monolith thing that's blocking out the sun.

    Film — Live-Action 

  • In Chorus Skating, the last Spellsinger novel, two huge black rectangular objects appear on the beach when Jon-Tom is about to have his final sing-off battle with the villain. True to this trope, they were indeed sent by a mysterious alien from another level of reality ... as amplifiers to give Jon-Tom's duar a much-needed and decisive boost.
  • The Science of Discworld has a large black object that gives information to apes... but it turns out to be a chalkboard.
  • The Fablehaven series has the vault where the Translocator is kept. The preserve where said vault is located is named Obsidian Waste in its honor.

    Live-Action TV 

  • BT's ESCM album cover.
  • The cover art for the 6th album of the deathgrind band Cattle Decapitation aptly named "Monolith of Inumanity" depict a monolith that have an effect quite different, if not opposite to the original.
  • The promotion video for Kai's solo album KAI (开) features a square variant of this, as a part to the video's subtle homages to 2001.
  • The artwork for Led Zeppelin's album Presence features photos of various people whose attention is drawn by a small black object. This was apparently inspired by the original monolith.
  • "The Statue Got Me High"... could be about this. The official story is even weirder; they claim it perfectly mirrors the ending of Don Giovanni, which neither of them knew about...
  • The music video for Thompson Twins' Lies is shot in a room similar to the hotel room from 2001, with the Monolith at the back, accompanied by the band and several other figures fading in and out while three people watch from the foreground in a hospital bed.
  • Twin Tribes: The cover art for "Monolith" is of the titular vertical slab of stone. It appears as the instigator of The Corruption that comes from outer space in the music video. The 2nd time the corrupted heroine touches it, she disappears.
  • The cover of The Who's album Who's Next shows the band walking away from a monolithic concrete slab. After having peed on it...
  • Shouting at the Ground by Zoviet France, features a half circle one, sitting in the middle of a field of dry grass.

  • Destroy the Godmodder: The Black Monolith is a look-alike of the titular monolith, and can look into one's self to grant their deepest wish. Of course, it has no sense of morality, so people who are really stupid or evil can get to the Monolith... Leading to undesirable results.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 has the Pylons on the world of Cadia. They have a clear purpose, stabilizing space around the nearby Eye of Terror to create the only reliable way in and out of it, but how they do that is a mystery. One of the background materials has a character outline a theory that may as well be the plot of 2001. Current canon has them as just a leftover weapon of a war the Necrons, the local Antimagical Faction, waged ages before the Eye was even there (it's not a total coincidence; the Eye of Terror occupies the space that used to be their enemy's territory until the Eldar blew themselves up).
  • Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot has The Minilith, a card able to double one's weapon strength. Comes with a handy on/off switch.

    Video Games 
  • The Army Men RTS features a monolithic PS2 in the eighth mission (to them, it's an unlimited power source). It's even introduced with Also sprach Zarathustra.
  • In Asura's Wrath, random Monolith-like structures pop in the background of the fight against Chakravartin.
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! has a monolith you can interact with in Stanton's Liver, although it requires a little bit of looking and maneuverability to get there. Running into it leads you to some nice loot chests and a a very loud Jump Scare.
  • The Bureau X Com Declassified: Titan is a mid-boss that deploys as a floating monolith, then immediately transforms into a saucer that fires death rays.
  • An Easter Egg room in The Colony has the Monolith at the foot of a bed.
  • Hidden among several sculptures in a museum, in The Day the World Broke.
  • Duke Nukem 3D featured a monolith at one point. It contained a teleporter.
  • They appear in Dungeons of Dredmor. Sometimes you get a sidequest to sacrifice an item to it.
  • The Epic Battle Fantasy series has Cosmic Monoliths, black rectangular prisms covered in Tron Lines:
  • It shows up in one of the endings of Please, Don't Touch Anything 3D.
  • EVE Online has a Monolith in the Dead End star system; it is at Planet 5 - Moon 5.
  • In Fez, solving the first half of a certain optional puzzle causes a monolith to appear and hover in the air. (This one has a square cross-section, rather than the original size ratio.) The second half of this puzzle—making the monolith disappear again—is notorious for being the most obtuse puzzle in the entire game.
  • Jurassic Park: Trespasser features a Monolith in a normally-unreachable area of the third level. Getting close via noclip causes a droning track to start playing until you head back to the regular playable parts of the level.
  • In Kerbal Space Program, monoliths are scattered around the solar system. Black ones are found around the main planet and its two moons, and one single dark green one appears at a randomized spot for each bodies. While they are not perfectly square, they are jet black mysterious objects, and finding the green monolith rewards you with the unlocking of a random technology.
  • The Black Club weapon in Kid Icarus: Uprising is basically a monolith on a stick.
  • In The Labyrinth of Time, the Monolith can be seen half-buried on the moon through a window in the Lunar Museum.
  • LEGO Island 2 had a monolith on Ogel Island with monkeys in space suits dancing around it.
  • In the Caveman Chapter of Live A Live, you can find one in a hidden cave provided you do a specific action. Offering a bone to it will net the player a smaller monolith, the Rock of Rocks which significantly boosts IQ, can scan the HP of (in the original) and also disable a target's limbs (cannot be able to move or attack with physical skills) if used as an item. Did we mention that said item's infinite-use?
  • 2001 is one of Metal Gear's recurring Stock Shout-Outs, so monoliths appear a couple of times:
  • Weaponized in the second Boss Battle of Metal Slug 3, where you are constantly bombarded with falling monoliths summoned by a mysterious crashed meteorite.
  • Mischief Makers: The Emperor usually appears in the form of a monolith with golden glyphs that vaguely resemble a human form drawn on it, as well as a single red gemstone-like eye. It's just a disguise. The Emperor is actually human.
  • In Monster Rancher, there are monsters called Monols. Guess what they look like.
  • Featured in SimEarth as a tool to accelerate a species' development to sapience.
  • Similarly, The Monolith is featured as a tool to accelerate the brain and social evolution of more primitive civilizations in the Space stage of Spore. The game itself features another Shout-Out to 2001. The cutscene to the entrance of the Tribal stage was partly lifted from the introductory sequence of 2001, along with implications in the Creature and Tribal stages of extraterrestrial observation, and in the introduction to the Cell stage, panspermia.
  • A very obvious parody of the opening sequence to 2001 appears in Startopia, but with the bone being replaced by a doughnut.
  • In Stellaris, one anomaly you might find on a planet is a strange rectangular object that when scanned gives you survey data of a distant system.
  • Tread Marks' "Moon" level has an enormous, pitch black monolith in the center of the map.
  • Xenosaga, along with Xenogears, features several Monolith-like objects, dubbed Zohar(s), along with the Anima Relics.
  • The titular Ark in Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim. The cutscene where it is raised features Also sprach Zarathustra-esque music.
  • Zombidle: One of Bob the Necromancer's allies is called "Carl the Monolith", and is pretty much based on one of these. A being who's hand-forged in the deepest layers of Hell and Made of Evil, he's also a Tagalong Kid with a goofy grin, kid's cap, and schoolbag, and is also as annoying as one. In-game, he doesn't fight, but he boosts the damage of all of Bob's minions by a factor of 3 multiplicatively per level.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Stone Trek episode "20001 BC: A Space Oddity", the sun rises over the Monolith to Also Sprach Zarathustra until Fred Flintstone has his dinosaur dump it on a rockpile. Later Captain Kirkstone falls into the other Monolith where he meets William Shatner, who tells him his future and advises him to not take this Trek stuff too seriously.

  • Cross Time Café actually has it as a Recurring Character, nicknamed Rocky.
  • Checkerboard Nightmare featured an verminous infestation of monoliths during 2002:
    Dot: It's a shame they imploded your fridge to create a new star.
    Chex: And they left a note: "All these snacks are yours except the Rice Krispies. Use them together. Use them in peace."
  • Least I Could Do uses one as a gag for the 2001st comic
  • This The Noob strip.
  • Similarly, in Kris Straub's next comic, Starslip, the members of the Consortium all have their brains transferred into telepathic monoliths.
  • A reoccurring character/phenomenon in Station V3.
  • Stone Trek episode "20001 BC: A Space Oddity". After its Also sprach Zarathustra introduction, the monolith is picked up by a dinosaur-crane piloted by the Flintstones and dumped on a rubble pile.
  • Questionable Content: A "floating black slab emitting a low hum" appears at the coffee shop. The bewildered clerks eventually decide that they should make it a latte, and it pays and leaves. Then Faye bumps into it, spilling the latte. She feels bad, buys it another one, and makes it a cup holder. It pays for that too, then zooms off into the sky, leaving everyone confused. It's a bit of a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.

    Web Original 
  • The blog novel Fartago is about a tribe of cavemen reacting to life since the arrival of The Monolith. Features the recurring catchphrase, "Since monolith come, nothing make sense!"
  • Unsurprisingly, it shows up in Kingdom of Loathing.
  • Parodied in Weebl & Bob.
  • The Protectors of the Plot Continuum have a much larger version of the monolith in the Tomb of the Unknown PPC Agent; it stretches all the way up to the ceiling, and every victim of the DIS has their name written on it in ithildin. The Tomb itself used to be DIS Central, until it was destroyed and the memorial built out of the remains.
  • Geoff Ramsey's extremely tall, windowless, smooth stone house in Let's Play Minecraft has been referred to as a monolith. It originally went up from the base of Downtown Achievement City to the height limit of 128 blocks, but when the height limit was doubled to 256 blocks, the Achievement Hunters worked together so it could reach that new limit. There is a three-part sub-series of Let's Play Minecraft episodes that covered its height expansion (and the inevitable deaths during said expansion).

    Western Animation 
  • When Animaniacs made fun of 2001, the monolith appeared first as a television set, then as a remote.
  • A Bonkers episode in Raw Toonage has him flying by a monolith who says "Dave, is that you Dave?". Bonkers replies "No, wrong movie".
  • An old Cartoon Network bumper (that usually played before Cartoon Theater) had a group of monkeys (such as Magilla Gorilla, Blip and I.R. Baboon) gathering around the Cartoon Network logo while the 2001 theme plays.
  • Appears briefly in an episode of Futurama, with an "Out of Order" sign on it.
    • As well in another episode, "The Sting", it is parodied as Fry's coffin. Leela opens it and experiences the same effects as Dave Bowman in the movie.
    • Another episode, "Mobius Dick," had it floating among other familiar, wrecked spaceships (USS Enterprise, LEM module, the space ship from the cover of ELO's album 'Out of the Blue', etc.) with a bite taken out of it.
  • The Monolith appeared in an episode of Mighty Mouse involving Time Travel.
  • The Patrick Star Show: "The Prehistoric Patrick Star Show" begins with a black monolith in the foreground. Some cave fish run up to it and start hitting it. It collapses forward like a cardboard cutout. They run away, then sit on it to watch Patrick's show.
  • An episode of The Simpsons opens with a parody of the Dawn of Man sequence. While the other apes start developing tools after making contact with the monolith, the Homer Simpson ape simply reclines on it to take a nap.
  • Tripping the Rift has a monolith installed on a primitive world. In this case it actually contained an evil empire who used the monolith as a base of operations in order to enslave the unwitting civilization.

    Real Life 
  • On New Year's Day of 2001, a welded-steel monolith appeared in Seattle's Magnuson Park, with no indication where it came from or how it got there. It vanished in an equally mysterious manner three days later. It was eventually revealed to be a guerrilla art installation by a group of Seattle artists calling themselves "Some People".
  • On New Year's Day of 2010, a similar monolith (this one made of wood and fiberboard) appeared behind Denver, Colorado's Museum of Nature and Science, with a tag reading "All these worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landings there." Unlike the Seattle Monolith, though, the perpetrators documented their efforts.
  • The University of Hawaii at Manoa's physics and astronomy building has a sculpture out in front of it, a massive metal slab with the 1:4:9 ratio. For the first year it was in place, it emitted an electronically generated pulsing sound, until people started complaining of headaches.
  • The Monolith in action figure form. It's full of stars!
  • The Comcast/NBC Universal building in Los Angeles looks like one of these, though its base is a rhomboid instead of a perfect rectangle. Harlan Ellison has remarked on several occasions that the way Universal executives behave toward people actually trying to make movies, this monolith must operate in reverse: when they come in contact with it, it lowers their intelligence.
  • In 2020, a mysterious, silvery monolith was discovered in the middle of the desert in Utah. This was then quickly followed by the appearance of similar, equally cryptic monoliths all around the world, prompting numerous jokes about an alien invasion to cap off the terrible year that was 2020. The original monolith was removed shortly after by environmentalists concerned the flood of people to see it would damage the area.
  • The Phobos Monolith. A large rock on the surface of Phobos, one of the moons of Mars, that casts an incredibly prominent shadow compared to any of the other rocks next to it. While it's assumed to be a piece of ejecta, due to it being nearby the massive Stickney crater that dominates a substantial portion of Phobos' surface, it has also been subject to plenty of speculations from conspiracy-minded individuals about it being an artificial structure of some kind.