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"Sad, that I must litter space with ape corpses."
Baktosh "Redclaw" nar Kiranka, Wing Commander

Generally in sci-fi/fantasy settings where there are other non-human sentient species, they will often refer pejoratively to humans as apes or monkeys. Sometimes, even a human is seen doing this. More likely to happen in settings where humans are depicted as being less intelligent or civilized than other sentient races.

The Big Bad tends to do this often if he's not human himself, or if he is not human anymore.

Despite this trope's use of the word "ape" as an insult, it should be noted that biologically, humans actually are a species of ape. The insult implies that the human in question is uncivilised and therefore cannot be distinguished from an ape. Compare Neanderthal.

A subtrope of Fantastic Slur.

Examples of Son of an Ape include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Dragonball Z, Frieza is very adamant about the Saiyans being "mere monkeys" even when he's getting his ass kicked by one. Indeed, having tails even when not transformed, they are technically monkeys rather than apes. Not that it reduces the Fantastic Racism any. And Frieza isn't particular. He uses all variations of "ape" and "monkey" to insult the Saiyans.
  • In Love Pistols, zoomans (humans developed from other animals than apes) use the word "monkey" sometimes neutrally, and sometimes as a slur.
  • In episode 5 of FLCL, Haruko insults Amarao with something along the lines of "primitive monkey!", to which Amarao responds that it is politically incorrect to refer to "underevolved species" that way.
  • In the first half of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Viral consistently refers to the human heroes as "naked apes", as do Generals Adaine and Cytomander. (Thymilph isn't around long enough to do it and Guame presumedly knows better.)
  • In Getter Robo, the Dinosaur Empire refers to humans as "arrogant apes."

Comic Books

 Xavier[addressing human troops]: The X-Men have this deliberately engineered "emergency" under control. We've just lost one of our rescue team, do you understand? We're in no mood to play chimpanzee politics...


  • The Black Hole aliens from the Godzilla series refer to earthlings as primitive apes, despite the fact that they themselves look like gorillas.
  • In Buckaroo Banzai, the Red Lectroids insultingly refer to human beings as "monkey boys".
  • Men in Black: The Bug calls humans "monkey boys", which is almost certainly a Shout-Out to Buckaroo Banzai.
  • The angels in the The Prophecy series constantly refer to humans as "talking monkeys".
  • Alluded to in an inversion of sorts in Planet of the Apes quite a few times. Notably verbalized in Zira's comments like "You know what they say, human say, human do." and "to apes, all men look alike."


  • Used frequently by Mudge in reference to Jon-Tom in Spellsinger. Also on one occasion by Dorcas the hinny.
    • Given that monkeys in Mudge and Dorcas's world are fully sentient and civilized, the implication may have been that Jon-Tom is foolish or frivolous rather than primitive.
  • In the Codex Alera, one of the Canim insults the human protagonist with a phrase that roughly translates to "monkey-boy". The spirit of this trope when turned on another species is also seen in that the worst insults you can offer a Cane are "dog" and especially "jackal".

Live Action TV

  • The Ninth Doctor from Doctor Who refers to humans as "stupid apes" on several occasions.
    • As do the new series' Silurians, some of whom want to wipe humanity out.
  • The Xindi from Star Trek: Enterprise refer to the humans as being "ape-like". In this case it is generally intended as more descriptive than insulting, and the same term is also used for Primate Xindi.
  • Uriel on Supernatural refers to humans as "mud monkeys." Lucifer condemns humans for being "murderous hairless apes".
  • The Cat on Red Dwarf calls Lister, Rimmer, and Kochanski "monkeys" on a regular basis.


  • Crash Test Dummies' "Superman's Song" contains the line "dumb as an ape".
  • The Tool song "Right In Two", which is sung from the perspective of angels, refers to humans as monkeys.

Newspaper Comics

  • In Sherman's Lagoon, the characters refer to humans as "hairless beach apes".
  • In one Calvin and Hobbes strip, Calvin asks whether Hobbes believes that humans evolved from apes. Hobbes' response: "I sure don't see any difference."

Tabletop Games

  • In Warhammer 40000, the Eldar derisively refer to humans and other species they deem inferior as "mon-keigh". It only sounds like "monkey," though; the meaning is "those which have to be exterminated."
  • In the Shadowrun setting, a trideo program out of Tir Tairngire had an elvish title that translated as "Keeper of the Monkey House". It's a flagrantly-racist comedy about an elven landholder's dealings with idiotic, destructive, irresponsible human tenants.


 For the Maiden fair, whom the monkey craved,

Was a radiant Being,

With a brain far-seeing--

While a Darwinian Man, though well-behaved,

At best is only a monkey shaved!

  • In The Hairy Ape by Eugene O'Neill, the Anti-Hero "Yank" takes being called an ape so seriously that, by the play's final scene, he wholeheartedly believes he is one.

Video Games

  • In Wing Commander the felinoid Kilrathi refer to the humans as "hairless apes" and similar terms.
  • In Chrono Trigger, Azala refers to humans as apes.
  • Sword of the Stars, the nickname for humans is 'ape' or 'monkey'. This nickname was originally used by the Tarka, but was adopted by most major species -- including humanity itself. That said, most of the species from Sword of the Stars have similar nicknames: Tarka are 'crocs' or 'lizards', Hivers are 'bugs' and Morrigi are 'crows'. The Liir probably have one too, but it's not mentioned. As for the Zuul, they have no name for themselves. Zuul is just what the other races call them, which is a Liir term derived from the word "Suul'ka", meaning "abominable" (any further epithets would probably be redundant).
  • Sakuya does this to the heroine a few times in Hatoful Boyfriend. The heroine can return fire with poultry comments. This stops being funny in certain storylines.

Web Comics

Western Animation

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