The Monolith

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Set up a few hundred more and we'll have the hugest dominoes course in the world!

A large black slab of 1:4:9 proportions,[1] 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.

Not to be confused with the DC Comics character, a heroic Golem.

Examples of The Monolith include:

The Trope Maker: 2001: A Space Odyssey

  • The 1:4:9 ratio is really only from the book; they didn't stick to it when doing the movie.
    • The book also states that the ratio continues into dimensions imperceptible to human senses.
  • In the book, it turns into a Star Gate.
  • In 2010: The Year We Make Contact, it is capable of reproducing, causing Jupiter to reach critical mass and turn into a star.
  • And by 3001, it's revealed they can do a whole lot more.
    • Though interestingly enough, it no longer works as a Star Gate.
      • The books were sequels to the movie. So, this lends support that it was never a Star Gate in the movie universe.
  • The Monoliths are known for the creepy 'EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE' noise they emit in human ears. 'Cos, you know, they're cosmic, and shit.

Anime and Manga

  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, SEELE keeps in contact with NERV via monolith-like objects.
  • 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! 5D's 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.

Comic Books

  • In the Belgian comic Le Grand Pouvoir du Chninkel, the creator God U'n appears in the form of a monolith.
    • Actually, the end hints this comic was a prequel to 2001, so U'n is the monolith.
  • Via the character of Machine Man, who originated in the 2001 Marvel comic book continuation and later in Nextwave, The Monolith exists in the Marvel Universe.
  • The Watchers' transport gateways look like this in Earth X. Eventually it begins being Lampshaded.
  • 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.



  • The Science of Discworld has a large black object that gives information to apes... which 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.
  • 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.

Live-Action TV

  • The Electric Company had a series of animations where the monolith either rose from the ground or floated forward through space toward the front of the screen, then crumbled to show a letter dipthong or small word, subsequently pronounced by a deistic voice.
  • A parody of 2001 (including the Monolith) appears in Monty Python's Flying Circus episode 38.
  • The last Comedy Central episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Laserblast, ended with Dr. Forrester re-enacting the scene where an old David Bowman reaches toward the Monolith before being reborn as a Starchild; Forrester reaches for a monolithic VHS tape labeled "The Worst Movie Ever Made".
  • One Foot In The Grave parodied the "monkey discovering tools" scene, with a new fridge as the monolith, and the styrofoam packing formers at the bones being smashed by the elderly protagonist.


  • BT's ESCM album cover.
  • 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 cover of The Who's album Who's Next shows the band standing next to a monolith-like concrete slab.
    • Actually, they're walking away from it. After having peed on it...

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • Army Men RTS features a monolithic PlayStation 2 in the eighth mission (to them, it's an unlimited power source). It's even introduced with Also Sprach Zarathustra.
  • Random Monolith-like structures pop in the background of the fight against Chakravartin in Asura's Wrath.
  • They appear in Dungeons of Dredmor. Sometimes you get a sidequest to sacrifice an item to it.
  • Duke Nukem 3D featured a monolith at one point. It contained a teleporter.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy 3 has three different kinds of Monoliths that serve as minibosses. The ones that fit this trope are the Cosmic Monoliths. You probably won't last long against them.
  • EVE Online has a Monolith in the Dead End star system; it is at Planet 5 - Moon 5.
  • Unsurprisingly, it shows up in Kingdom of Loathing.
  • Lego Island 2 had a monolith on Ogel Island with monkeys in space suits dancing around it.
  • Weaponized in the second boss-fight of Metal Slug 3, where you are constantly bombarded with falling monoliths summoned by a mysterious crashed meteorite.
  • 2001 is one of Metal Gear Solid's recurring Stock Shout-Outs, so monoliths appear a couple of times:
    • In Metal Gear Solid 2, the name of the computer on the Tanker is MONORITH. (The Tanker is called "Discovery".)
    • In Metal Gear Solid 4, GW, a computer influencing human development, is seen to be a huge, elegantly-illuminated black slab following the 1:4:9 ratio.
  • In Monster Rancher, there are monsters called Monols. Guess what they look like.
  • Featured in Sim Earth as a tool to accelerate a species' development to sapience.
  • Similiarly, 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, parthenogenesis.
  • A very obvious parody of the opening sequence to 2001 appears in Startopia, but with the bone being replaced by a doughnut.
  • Don't stand too close, they bear a great evil within...
    • The Monolith! We destroy that and THIS IS OVER!!
    • The Pylons on Cadia are a more subtle reference, although they have a clear purpose (stabilising space near a gaping scar in reality), one of the background materials has character outline a theory that may as well be the plot of 2001.
  • The video game series Xenosaga also features several Monolith-like objects.
  • The titular Ark in Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim. The cutscene where it is raised features Also Sprach Zarathustra-esque music.

Web Comics


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."


Web Original

  • The blog novel Fartago is about a tribe of cavemen reacting to life since the arrival of The Monolith. Features the recurring Catch Phrase, "Since monolith come, nothing make sense!"
  • 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.

Western Animation

  • When Animaniacs made fun of 2001, the monolith appeared first as a television set, then as a remote.
  • 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.
  • The Monolith appeared in an episode of Mighty Mouse involving Time Travel.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  1. there are more proportions than that if you are capable of looking at it in more than three dimensions