Monkey Island (series)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
(Redirected from Monkey Island)

I'm Guybrush Threepwood, Mighty Pirate!

Originally conceived as a Serious Business pirate adventure by Ron Gilbert, but Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman began using their own Crazy Awesome jokes as dialogue placeholders. As LucasArts was actually somewhat clever and somewhat funny in those days, they had him and his gang write the rest of the dialogue. Presto changeo...

The Monkey Island series of Adventure Games from LucasArts (and one from Telltale Games) chronicles the escapades of Guybrush Threepwood, an unassuming Genius Ditz pirate who travels the Caribbean, and inevitably ends up butting heads with LeChuck, a sinister undead pirate.

The games in the series, to date, are:

Series creator Ron Gilbert left after the second game. After the long hiatus following Escape, Telltale Games took up the mantle with their episodic Tales of Monkey Island release - with Gilbert's blessing and also the involvement of many key staff members from the original two games. LucasArts has also gotten back in the game of late, finally redeeming themselves in the eyes of adventure fans by remaking both the original Secret of Monkey Island and the first sequel LeChuck's Revenge, complete with voice acting by the cast of Curse.

Note: Please put tropes related to individual games on their respective pages, and character tropes in the character page.

Tropes used in Monkey Island (series) include:
  • Adaptation Dye Job: Elaine has black hair in the original 16-color version of Secret, as well as in LeChuck's Revenge. In the older 256-color upgrade of Secret, and in Curse, she has red hair and blue eyes. In Tales she has red hair and Green Eyes. In the MI1 Special Edition remake Elaine now has brown hair and green eyes; however, in the MI2 SE she has red hair instead (but still has green eyes).
  • Adventure Game
  • Aerith and Bob: Plain common names are mixed with punny or ludicrous ones. Take the main duo; Elaine Marley and Guybrush Threepwood.
  • Anachronism Stew: Including a Lampshade Hanging on "shoddy, 17th century electrical wiring."
    • It's played with, as the second game suggests that this may be due to the entire game being the fantasy of a child lost in a theme park. Many of the supposed anachronisms were possibly subtle hints towards this. As the original creator and team left before the mystery could be answered, however, this became an Aborted Arc and the remaining games have played the trope straight.
  • Art Evolution: The first game, in its original release, utilized a very realistic art style, especially during the handful of close-up shots. Starting with the sequel, the art style became more cartoonish, where by Curse, the game looked exactly like a cartoon and the cutscenes used this art style. Subsequent games maintained the cartoony look and even retrofitted it onto the re-releases of the first two games. The discordant art styles are one of the reasons why the re-releases also included a "classic" mode that retained the original look.
  • Badass Damsel: The first game sets up a Damsel in Distress setting but then it subverts it to hell and back. Elaine is an Action Girl more than capable to defend herself and is Guybrush the one who is often The Load.
  • Beard of Evil: LeChuck's beard is different every game or has a plot significance. In Curse it's on fire. In Revenge it's vital to his resurrection.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Justified by the strong French and Spanish influences in the setting.
  • Bound and Gagged: Happens at least once per game, except for (ironically) the first game which actually centered around a kidnapping plot. As of 2009, Curse is the only game that has used gags.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Curse introduces the "self-reloading cannon", which reappears in Tales.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Guybrush talks directly to the player and refers to himself as "a lovingly inept cartoon character" in Curse.
    • He also talks to the player in each game, and LeChuck also does this.
  • But Thou Must!: Both employed against Guybrush, and by Guybrush.
  • Cardboard Prison: Guybrush often gets imprisoned and escapes in a comic fashion.
  • Catch Phrase: Many, including, "Look Behind You!, a three-headed monkey!", "How appropriate, You Fight Like a Cow", and the page quote.
  • Character Aged with the Actor: Played straight from Curse to Tales, with Dominic Armato as Guybrush, Alexandra Boyd as Elaine (even though the voice actress herself was absent in Escape), Earl Boen as LeChuck (though, of course, Boen was in semi-retirement and absent only in the PC download version of Chapter 1 of Tales), and Denny Delk as Murray. Inverted in the Special Editions of Secret and LeChuck's Revenge, however, when the now-aged Armato, Boyd and Boen return to play their characters' younger selves.
    • Also inverted is that Pat Pinney (Stan) and Neil Ross (Wally B. Feed) sounded younger only in Curse; and S. Scott Bullock (Otis), Cam Clarke (Meathook), Wally Wingert (Herman Toothrot) and Jess Harnell (Estevan) sounded younger only in Escape; while Leilani Jones-Wilmore (The Voodoo Lady) sounded younger in both games. When the actors returned to voice the characters in the Special Editions of Secret and LeChuck's Revenge, however, the characters' younger selves now sound older than they did before.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Many. If you're taught how to make something, you'd better pay attention.
  • Compressed Vice: Guybrush's fear of porcelain doesn't appear until the third game. In Revenge, he has no issues interacting with the porcelain in Elaine's room.
  • Covers Always Lie: Every game's box art has a scene that does not appear ingame.
    • Secret shows Guybrush exploring Monkey Island with a group. In the game he goes alone.
    • Revenge shows LeChuck torturing Guybrush with a voodoo doll on a ship. Ingame LeChuck tortures Guybrush in the tunnels of Dinky Island.
    • Curse shows Guybrush confronting LeChuck near the gold statue of Elaine on top of another pirate's mast with the uncursed ring. That never happens ingame.
    • The PC version of Escape just has a collage of the characters, but the PS2 version shows Guybrush and Elaine being attacked by a gang of monkeys. That does not happen ingame.
    • Tales shows Guybrush and Elaine again on top of mast, which does not happen in the game.
      • Also, the US PC DVD version of Tales has Winslow holding a map next to Morgan (holding the Blade of Dragotta), and Guybrush making a pose up front next to Elaine, with the demon LeChuck right behind the four of them, all on a background of an island in the sunset with a dark cloud above them. This does not happen in-game, though.
  • Creator Cameo: Countless shoutouts to Ron Gilbert, including "L. Ron Gilbert" in Revenge, "I thought the SCUMM Bar was owned by a guy named Ron" in Escape, and, of course, "Nor Treblig" in Tales.
  • Dem Bones: LeChuck's crew, Murray, and Guybrush's hallucinations of his parents.
  • Deserted Island: Or is it?
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Throughout the series an absurd amount of minor gags are found by using items in ways not intended in order to win the game. For example, try using the ramrod on Murray at the start of Curse, then examine the porthole in the next scene. If that made you feel bad, offer him some gum in Act 2.
  • Easter Egg: Several, including the only way to die in the entire series.
    • There's actually a way to die in each of the five games, but only the first and fourth ones count: In Secret Guybrush drowns if he stays underwater for too long after ten minutes (the rest of the games, excepting Escape, perhaps, he automatically surfaces after the ten minutes are up). Revenge is being told after the fact, so if Guybrush dies, Elaine tells him to stop screwing around and tell the real story, and in Curse, you need to fake your death to progress. The Curse example actually comes with not one, but two fourth-wall breaking lampshades; one from Guybrush, telling the kids not to try this at home, and one from the barkeep and the gravedigger, wondering how Guybrush managed to die in a LucasArts game. Escape sums up two ways to die: 1. by drowning in the second dive underwater after surfacing upon Guybrush's running out of breath in the first dive; and 2. having him kill his future self in the Mysts of Tyme and then going around and having himself get killed by his past self. Tales sums up one way to die, and surprisingly, it's not an Easter egg, but rather a part of a story to progress on from Chapter 4 to Chapter 5.
    • Guybrush himself is an Easter egg in The Force Unleashed 2, appearing as a hidden costume. Before that, he was an alternative skin in Indiana Jones and The Infernal Machine.
      • In said Indy game, the use of that cheat also replaces rocket launcher shots with slow-moving rubber chickens.
  • Everything's Better with Rubber Chickens with a Pulley in the Middle
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Monkey Island itself is a good example. And the always beloved three-headed monkey.
  • Gang Plank Galleon: The entire series.
  • Gargle Blaster: Pure grog is undrinkable, if not corrosive.
  • Get on the Boat: Every game starts with Guybrush on an island trying to get a ship to get off the island.
  • Grave Humor: In LeChuck's Revenge, Curse and chapter 5 of Tales.
  • Hammerspace: Used with a sword in the third and fifth games when it's time to fight. Used with a shovel in the fifth game when it's time to dig. Strange, considering the lengths Guybrush went to get these tools in the original game.
    • Of course, pretty much every item Guybrush picks up gets sent into hammerspace, including a live monkey. His coat and pants seem to double as Bags of Holding. In the second, a manilla envelope acting as hammerspace for all of Guybrush's confiscated items "tickles" when it is opened and dumps it's entire contents into his inventory.
  • Happily Married: Guybrush and Elaine Marley-Threepwood as of Curse. They are very cute together.
  • Hartman Hips Many female characters, but especially Morgan LeFlay (who is actually an Impossible Hourglass Figure). Somewhat justified in that she's wearing a corset.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Guybrush for the red-haired Elaine.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Surprisingly, quite a few of the dialogue options allow you to make Guybrush one of these. They're generally the least useful ones, though, since you'll usually antagonize the characters, although thanks to the fact the games are impossible to lose or make Unwinnable you can still use them for a laugh with no permanent harm done.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Regardless how it might appear, the main antagonist in all games is always LeChuck
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Happened to LeChuck a few times, particularly in the first act of Curse when his zombie body is destroyed up by the demon-fueled cannon ball he he created to blow up Elaine's fort. The trope is subverted most of the time, though, because he usually comes back even stronger. In this case, the voodoo cannon ball led to his reincarnation as the Demon Pirate LeChuck.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: In spades. Practically all of it involves the Voodoo Lady in one form or another.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Loads of them.
  • Hook Hand: Meathook has two of them. Guybrush himself gets one in chapter 2 of Tales.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Much Lampshaded, parodied and played with.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Parodied with the vegetarian cannibals.
  • It Belongs in a Museum: You can use this line a few different times as random dialogue, parodying its usage in Indiana Jones.
  • It May Help You on Your Quest: Just about every item.
  • Joker Immunity: LeChuck is too good a villain a to be out of the picture for more than a few acts.
  • Jungle Japes: Several islands have heavy jungles in them, including Booty Island in Revenge, Plunder Island in Curse, and the titular Monkey Island.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: "Pirates by principle have to steal everything that isn't nailed down (and if you can find a way to remove the nails and steal it, do so, and take the nails while you're at it)."
  • Large Ham: Most notably LeChuck ("AND MOOOOOOORE SLAWWWWWWW!!!!")
  • Leitmotif: The main theme and LeChuck's Theme are the most employed; throughout the series you'll hear variations of both, and key parts from each will leak into other songs--as in the underground tunnels climax of Revenge. Lesser examples are the themes for the Voodoo Lady, Stan, and Largo LaGrande.
  • Look Behind You!: The "Look behind you! A three-headed monkey!" running gag. Mostly used as a distraction, sometimes it actually shows up and occasionally becomes a Crying Wolf trope.
  • MacGyvering: Guybrush uses all manner of wacky items and combinations to save the day
  • The Maze
  • Meanwhile Back At The Lechuck's headquarters.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: "Chimps? There aren't any chimps in the Caribbean!" "Oh, shut up. It makes a good story."
  • My Name Is Not Durwood
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Most of the games have Guybrush's spending four chapters undoing his own actions. In Revenge he gives away Lechuck's beard, enabling his resurrection, in Curse he turns Elaine into a golden statue and in Tales he unleashes a Voodoo Pox.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Every single game features LeChuck giving one of these to Guybrush while he desperately tries to solve the final puzzle(s). It's taken to a new level in Tales, in which you can see the bruising and hear the pain in Guybrush's voice as you play the sequence.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • In the 3rd game, Guybrush reveals he has a fear of porcelain (which is something of a running gag throughout the rest of the game) and never explains why other than that it's "a long story".
    • What exactly happened between LeChuck's Revenge and Curse.
    • The entirety of Monkey Island 5 is a Noodle Incident, seeing as it hasn't actually been made but is referenced many times in Tales. According to Telltale Games, Tales is not Monkey Island 5 because the latter needs to be an epic 40-hour adventure.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: For the first three games, Elaine was practically the poster girl for this trope. She escapes from an undead pirate, carries out a plan to kill said pirate, manages to locate and travel to the elusive Dinky island without a map (Guybrush, eat your heart out), and saves Guybrush from being killed by Big Whoop. None of these four events occurs onscreen. (The last one was actually intended to be shown on-screen in a major cutscene late in Curse. The scene went as far as having the dialogue recorded, but its animation was sadly never finished due to budget concerns.)
  • Oh My Gods: The series has characters substitute "Blackbeard" and "Neptune" (and sometimes "Poseidon") for "God" ("Neptune's navel, that was a close one", "Now why in the name of Neptune's hangnails would I let you borrow this priceless artifact of a long-dead civilization?", "Neptune's beard!", "I said quit yer whimpering and grow some barnacles, for Blackbeard's sake!", "Nothing yet, thank Poseidon!"). The only exception, however, is Edward Van Helgen in Curse:

Van Helgen: You must take an oath now, before man and God, that you will never ever again sing in public.

  • Old, New, Borrowed and Blue: In Escape, the four heirlooms which are the key to finding the Ultimate Insult are something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue respectively. (They were intended as wedding gifts.)
    • Following a similar scheme in rhyme and purpose, in order to make a voodoo doll, you need Something of the Head (dandruff, hair, lice, what have you), Something of the Thread (a thread or cloth sample from the victim's clothing), Something of the Body (spit, phlegm, blood...whatever), and Something of the Dead (a bone or something from a dead relative).
  • Once Per Episode: In addition to the many running gags, the usual The Three Trials or pirate tropes and with occasional aversions; the Voodoo Lady tells Guybrush about some MacGuffin or Magnetic Plot Device needed against LeChuck, Stan has some item needed in a puzzle, several puzzles gravitate around a bar and its beverages, Guybrush will need to Fight Like A Cow somehow and commandeer or hire a ship. The quest eventually leads to Monkey Island and a confrontation against LeChuck is the climax of the game. The adventure is divided in about four/five named parts.
  • A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: Well, not the pirates, but the other anachronistic jobs like the laundromat guy, or coffee shop employees.
  • Pirates
  • Pirate Girl: All the girls in the series are pirates.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Pretty much everyone except the protagonist and the villains (the trope is often justified by the villain menace) and one crew of deranged monkeys that enjoys making people Walk the Plank.

Guybrush (in song): You say you're nasty pirates,
Scheming, thieving, bad bushwhackers?
From what I've seen I tell you,
You're not pirates! You're just slackers!

  • Plot Coupon
  • Punny Name: About half the cast.
  • Purely Aesthetic Era: Have we mentioned the grog vending machines?
  • Rainbow Speak: Throughout the entire series, Guybrush is the only character whose text is always white when he speaks, even when voices were added to the later Monkey Island games. Many characters often speak lines of dialogue in colors, with one text color attributed to each character's speech. In Tales, for example, in forming subtitles, Elaine's text is "cameo pink", while Demon LeChuck's text is "asparagus green". Similarly, the Voodoo Lady's text is "thistle" (a shade of purple), the Marquis De Singe's text is "pink lace", and Morgan LeFlay's text is "munsell red".
  • Red Herring: Both figurative and literal. Ironically there's no overlap.
  • Retcon: Has happened to the biographies of LeChuck and Horatio Torquemada "Herman Toothrot" Marley so many times that it takes several contortions of logic to form coherent backstories. See Wikipedia.
  • Running Gag: Tons of 'em.
    • Murray always shows up once per game since Curse.
    • Ditto Stan, only he goes back since the very beginning. While he was part of the story in the first game, ever since he's just been someone you know is going to turn up, always treat you simply as a customer, and always be selling something new. And his plaid jacket will stay still.
    • Guybrush asking people what the Secret of Monkey Island? is, since it's not revealed in the first game. No one has given a straight answer yet. (Flight of the Amazon Queen, a LucasArts adventure pastiche, gave a humorous joke answer to this: "Elaine is really a guy.")
The gag continues still, only flipped. Twenty years after Secret's release, series creator Ron Gilbert released a game called Death Spank, containing an old adventurer named Eubrick who claims to know the Secret of Monkey Island. Unfortunately, the game's titular hero isn't at all interested in what it might be.
  • Scenery Porn: All games in the series have lovingly drawn, detailed graphics that are mighty impressive. The Special Editions of the first two take it Up to Eleven.
  • Script Breaking: In the second game the Voodoo Lady mentions the last time she helped you, but it's actually possible to complete the first game without ever meeting her.
  • Sequel Snark: The games made a Running Gag out of referring to the franchise as having five games, even when there were only three or four. This became a Noodle Incident in Tales, which apparently skipped it over.
  • Shout-Out : Tons of them, specially to other Lucasfilm/Arts games and works. As mentioned below, exhausting every possible line of dialogue to trigger one becomes an implicit part of the gameplay. Expect many references and wordplays if there is a library or a bookshelf around.
  • Sidetrack Bonus: Bearing in mind that the main point of the games is to access as many jokes as possible, it's usually more rewarding to try dialogue options and item combinations that you know aren't going to work, just to see what happens, especially since almost nothing you do can get you killed or render the game Unwinnable.
  • Stopped Numbering Sequels: Only the second one is numbered, the ones without original creator Ron Gilbert at the helm -who had planned a trilogy- aren't.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Guybrush prides himself on being capable to hold his breath underwater for ten minutes. It's one of his less goofy feats.
  • Treasure Map: Subverted, played with, and occasionally played straight.
  • The Three Trials: Trope namer.
  • Trouser Space: Used very literally, and often lampshaded.
  • Un Installment: Tales of Monkey Island is refereed to as the sixth Monkey Island installment, and starts off at the climax of a unseen epic adventure which presumably was the events of the non-existent fifth game. Exactly what happened on this adventure is unknown, but Guybrush keeps making vague references to it throughout Tales.
  • Unwinnable: Generally averted, according to LucasArts' policy, but it is possible to make the first game unwinnable if you really try, such as by using up all your money in the vending machine. Later releases of the game will simply cause Guybrush to refuse wasting any more money on the vending machine after the first time you try it.
  • Verbal Business Card: I'm Guybrush Threepwood, Mighty Pirate™!
  • Villainous Crush: LeChuck to Elaine.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Several actions the Monkey Island adventure games require you to take are questionable in their wisdom. Over the course of the series, Guybrush has: ridden a rope across a chasm using a rubber chicken, deliberately mixed medications to put himself in a coma (twice), fired himself out of a cannon (thrice), triggered a volcanic eruption at point-blank range, soaked an irritable undead pirate with root beer... Thankfully, the games make it almost impossible to lose, no matter what you do, so the player can experiment without fear.
    • Let's face it, the Monkey Island series was one big Violation Of Common Sense. You're supposed to start the game, solve the first puzzle, realize that common sense just doesn't work in the Monkey Island world, and then gleefully throw all good judgment out the window and just try the most outlandish things you can think of. It's more fun that way.
  • Volleying Insults: A crucial part of the recurring "insult swordfighting" minigame.
  • Walk the Plank: It's a game about pirates.
  • Weapons Grade Vocabulary: You can win duels by providing snappy comebacks to your opponent's insults.
  • Welcome to the Caribbean, Mon
  • We Named the Dog Guybrush
  • Why Did It Have to Be Porcelain?
  • Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Stan, the resident Honest John's Dealership, runs a different business in each game. In order, they are: used ship salesman, used coffin salesman, life insurance salesman, time-share representative and attorney-at-law-who-makes-a-side-income-by-selling-souvenirs-based-on-his-cases. His job changes are often explained as a result of something that Guybrush did in the previous game
  • The X of Y: Out of the five games in the Monkey Island series, only three of them have these trope titles: The Secret of Monkey Island, The Curse of Monkey Island, and Tales of Monkey Island.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: The Trope Namers. The literal phrase becomes the standard Lame Comeback in many normal dialogues.
  • Zip Mode: In the third Monkey Island game, double-clicking an exit will take Guybrush there instantly, which is considerate because he walks very slowly. Later games switched to a 3D format and a corresponding change in controls, replacing the teleportation with a Dash Mode (but in Escape from Monkey Island you can leave the room you're in immediately by pressing O).