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"Three small trials and you're a pirate like us." Fair enough. If only I could stomach the foul brew these scurvy seadogs swilled, the rest would be easy. How could I have known I'd meet a powerful and beautiful woman with a jealous suitor too stupid to realize he'd been dead for years? And how can I crawl through this great stone monkey to find a man who walks three inches above the ground and sets fire to his beard every morning?
—Excerpted from The Memoirs of Guybrush Threepwood: The Monkey Island Years
The first game in the Monkey Island series, The Secret of Monkey Island was released in 1990. The game begins as our hero Guybrush Threepwood finds himself on Mêlée Island™, with one clear objective on his mind: becoming a Mighty Pirate™. To become one, he must first pass "The Three Trials", and while doing so, he learns of Elaine Marley, the local governor, and her story with the notorious ghost pirate LeChuck, who now terrorizes the waters around Mêlée Island™ together with his undead crew. After passing the trials, Guybrush finds out Elaine have been kidnapped by LeChuck, and he must now set sail for LeChuck's lair which lies on the titular Monkey Island in order to save her.
Way later in 2009, LucasArts got back in the Adventure Game business (finally redeeming themselves in the eyes of adventure fans) by remaking the game, complete with voice acting by the cast of The Curse of Monkey Island.
- All Just a Dream: The game's littered with clues that this might be the case, as was Gilbert's original intention. They've mostly been Retconned into either Medium Awareness or Anachronism Stew. While this has never been explicitly Jossed, Gilbert has claimed that "it was all just a dream" is NOT the elusive Secret, and that the ending of the second game was always meant as a joke and a cliffhanger.
- Always Night: It's always 10 p.m. on Melee Island, even as hours pass. Can't be a good sign.
- And Now You Must Marry Me: Elaine Marley is not a smart person to try this on.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: Twice. It provides the quote for the trope's page.
- "I found the Legendary Lost Treasure of Mêlée Island™ and all I got was this stupid T-shirt!"
- "I beat the Sword Master and all I got was this stupid T-shirt."
- Art Shift: The redrawn artwork in the remake - the shift is so drastic that there is actually a petition to have Guybrush's hair changed back to how it used to be and a fan-made patch restores the good old-ways.
- Audience? What Audience?: Guybrush is confused when Herman Toothrot refers to the player.
- Boring Return Journey: Getting to Monkey Island takes up an entire chapter (and that's after you've obtained the ship and the crew); getting back again is over in a single line of narration. Lampshaded by Guybrush.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall:
- After receiving sword-fighting lessons from Captain Smirk, Guybrush says, "I can’t help but feel like I’ve been ripped off", then turns towards the screen and continues, "I’m sure you're feeling something similar."
- The hermit on Monkey Island occasionally addresses comments to the fourth wall. At one point, Guybrush asks who he's talking to, and he replies, "The people watching, of course!"... to which Guybrush reacts as if he's crazy, even though Guybrush himself occasionally does the same thing.
- One of the dialogue options the player can make when challenging a pirate to a fight is to ask "How do you guys talk so funny?" to which the pirate will reply (breaking accent in the Special Edition), "Pirate Lingo! It's how everybody talked back then. Come on Guybrush, play along."
- Cannibal Clan: They are very civil.
- Cannot Talk to Women: When Guybrush first meets Elaine, he is unable to do anything except utter random syllables. In their second meeting, he acquits himself better, but the conversation quickly turns to increasingly saccharine pet names, which in a way is worse. He relapses into gibberish in later games whenever a woman is upset with him, indicating Guybrush just cannot take a woman's scorn.
- Cardboard Prison: The cannibals imprison Guybrush in one. He escapes thanks to a loose board. As a running gag, the clueless captors throw Guybursh in jail again and upgrade the door several times up to modern technology levels if Guybrush comes back.
- Comedy as a Weapon: The results of sword fights are based entirely on insults and puns.
- Confusing Multiple Negatives: "I won't not promise to avoid refraining from harming you."
- Conveniently-Placed Sharp Thing: Parodied in the underwater sequence.
- Copy Protection: The "Dial-a-Pirate" code wheel.
- Creator Cameo: The Troll Bridge that demands a troll toll is actually George Lucas in a troll costume (this is made much clearer in the special edition, where you can even see a red plaid flannel shirt sticking out when the suit is unzipped).
- Crying Wolf: After Guybrush overuses his "Look Behind You! a three headed monkey" phrase, the cannibals of Monkey Island™ don't fall for it when a three headed monkey actually shows up.
- Cutting the Knot: The glorious underwater idol puzzle. Several sharp objects that could free Guybrush are just out of reach. If you wait long enough, two guys walk onto the pier, lengthily debate tossing a sword into the ocean directly over your head... then decide against it and walk off again. Then in a unique instance, Guybrush dies for real.
- Damsel in Distress: In the second half of the game, you are supposed to save Elaine from getting married to LeChuck. But just as you interrupt the ceremony, you find out she had freed herself a long time ago, due to LeChuck's gullibility, and was just about to complete the final step in her plan for getting rid of him, and now you have messed it up. Subverted trope, as Elaine turns out to be a Badass Damsel with an Offscreen Moment of Awesome.
- Deserted Island: The titular island, Castaway/Treasure Island varieties.
- Dirty Old Man: The shopkeeper is more than happy to go visit the Sword Master as many times as you need him to.
- Dummied Out: Played with: There's a certain stump in the woods of Mêlée Island™ with a tunnel hidden underneath it, leading into what Guybrush describes as a system of catacombs. However, it's impossible to enter it, as the game requests the player to insert several floppy disks that didn't come with the game, and Guybrush simply concludes that the catacombs are inaccessible. Many players didn't realize this was a joke, however, a fact which is referenced in the sequel (and its 2010 Special Edition).
- And many other players can only learn of the joke from the Internet, since the joke was taken out in the CD edition (where it wouldn't really have made a lot of sense, because there's only one CD to play on) and the Special Edition (which was directly based on the CD version), making the Stump joke a hilarious meta-example of a Dummied Out joke about Dummied Out content.
- Other shout-outs to the Stump Joke can be found in The Curse of Monkey Island, where you get to see the other side of the stump, as well as Grim Fandango and Psychonauts, where the respective player characters both discover "a tunnel that leads into a system of catacombs."
- In addition to the stump joke, it is said that they actually were going to let the viewer see the 'scene behind the door' in Elaine's mansion, but thought it would be funnier to leave it to the viewer's imagination. If graphics for this scene were ever programmed into the game, no one has found them.
- When listening to the CD-Rom version of the game in a CD player, a few songs can be listened to that were never used in the game.
- Everything's Better with Bob: Unless you exorcise the poor spook.
- Exact Words: Elaine rebuffs LeChuck and tells him to "drop dead". He complies.
- Fission Mailed: See Have a Nice Death below.
- Fungus Humongous: The Caverns of Meat located beneath the giant monkey head.
- Gargle Blaster: Grog, which contains one or more of the following: kerosene, propylene glycerole, artificial sweeteners, sulphuric acid, rum, acetone, red dye #2, scumm, axle grease, battery acid and/or pepperoni. It's so vile that it dissolves the mugs used to contain them, which leads into a puzzle where you have to carry a mug of grog from one location to another.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "You can swab my decks any time." Also, "Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?"
- And in the second game, you'll find a file in the jail about a gorilla who was arrested for "grinding his organ in public". (HEY, don't these games have ratings for a reason?)
- Have a Nice Death:
- Parodied where Guybrush can fall from a cliff and a Sierra adventure-game death screen appears for a moment before Guybrush reappears thanks to a "rubber tree".
- A somewhat straight (an Easter Egg since it's a very unlikely death) example with the same Sierra style and interface if Guybrush drowns after failling to solve the underwater idol puzzle within 10 minutes.
- Hook Hand: Meathook, both.
- Impersonating an Officer: In this case, Sheriff Fester Shinetop, impersonated and disguised so well by LeChuck himself.
- It Belongs in a Museum: Guybrush can claim that the Idol of Many Hands "belongs in a museum" when Sheriff Fester Shinetop catches him trying to steal it. Note that in neither case Guybrush actually means it, and it's just one of the optional lines of dialog to try to get the item for himself. However, the owner of the idol does agree with that statement.
- Jail Bake: Parodied with the carrot cake Otis apparently received from his Aunt Tillie. He doesn't even try to cut a slice himself because he hates carrot cake. Of course, Guybrush finds a use for the file hidden inside...
- Just Like Making Love: "Swordfighting is kinda like making love. It's not what you do but what you say what's important."
- Level Grinding: An unusual appearance of the trope in an adventure game. You must wander the island getting into insult fights to learn insults, then you must get into another fight in order to use the insult and learn the response.
- Love At First Sight: Guybrush for Elaine. Also, if you decide not to save the idol task for last in The Three Trials, you get to see a scene that reveals that Elaine also fell for Guybrush at first sight.
- The Maze: One in Mêlée Island™ and one inside Monkey Island™
- Meanwhile Back At The ghost pirate ship of LeChuck. Deep beneath Monkey Island™
- Megaton Punch: LeChuck sends Guybrush to the skies of Mêlée Island™ . An Astronomic Zoom out ensues to display Guybrush's ballistic trajectory.
- Multiple Endings: Did you sink your own ship with the catapult? Your crew won't take it well... Watch. Escape from Monkey Island makes it the canonical ending; the crew resents Guybrush for abandoning them.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
- It shows up late, but no Monkey Island could be exempt of this. Guybrush in the final act is a Spanner in the Works to Elaine's plan.
- There is a literal example early on when Guybrush sinks his own ship on Monkey Island™ with a catapult hit but it has no gameplay consequences and only provides a minor different ending . Watch.
- No Animals Were Harmed: In addition to the large sign, Guybrush comments on the poisoned dogs: "They're only SLEEPING!!!"
- Non Sequitur Thud: I am Bobbin, are you my mother?
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
- The two sequences in which Guybrush tries to steal the idol in the first place. Much of the action takes place automatically in a room that you can't see; all you can see is dialogue and the actions that Guybrush is doing, many of which you can't normally do in the game. The highlight is perhaps "Hypnotize quarrelsome rhinoceros". The fight between Guybrush and the Sheriff in the Governor's Mansion starts out pretty funny and then keeps getting more and more insane.
- Elaine escapes from an undead pirate, carries out a plan to kill said pirate... offscreen. Then comes Guybrush and...
- Oracular Head: A severed navigator head which guides you through hell.
- Pig Latin: When one of the Cannibals, Sharptooth, tells Guybrush that he can't go through the Caverns of Meat to get the Voodoo Antiroot without something, Red Skull (another cannibal) interrupts and tells Sharptooth, "Ixnay on the Eadhay of the Avigatornay!", but Guybrush has no clue what they're talking about (they're talking, of course, about the Head of the Navigator). It is lampshaded, of course:
Guybrush: Why are you guys talking in Pig Latin?
- Pragmatic Adaptation: While almost every single detail of the original is preserved in the Special Edition (and every detail is intact if you use the "original version" button), to sidestep the outrageous amount of voice acting it would require, rather than stating the exact number of Pieces Of Eight that he has after getting paid by the Fettuccini Brothers, Guybrush's description for his money becomes "I have enough money to buy whatever I need."
- Protagonist Without a Past: Guybrush's background prior to washing up on that beach in the first game is never elaborated on at all. Due to the serious plot contradictions though, that became one of the fans' least concerns.
- Purple Eyes: In the 256-color edition, the final portrait of Guybrush and Elaine watching the fireworks reveals they both have purple eyes (in the Special Edition, his are blue and hers are green).
- Red Herring: Subverted: the literal red herring you pick up in the game has an important use.
- Robinsonade: The Monkey Island arc. Guybrush and Herman Toothrot before him. With Go Mad From the Isolation elements, later subverted.
- Scooby-Dooby Doors: Most of the doors on Melee Island take you to a random other door in the town.
- Shaggy Dog Story: Two of the final long quests are practically rendered moot: Elaine escapes the villain's clutches on her own, and you bungle her attempt to destroy the villain. The potion which can destroy ghosts is actually root beer, which can be found in the vending machine on the very island where the story begun.
- Many to other LucasArts games, including Loom, the Indiana Jones series, and (in the Special Edition artwork) Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango.
- When you are about to crash the wedding between LeChuck and Elaine, you have a choice of dialogue for Guybrush, one of which being just shouting "Elaine!" In fact, that's actually a shout out to The Graduate. Word of God says that's where Elaine's name came from.
- Two of the idols surrounding the gigantic monkey head resemble Sam and Max, of Sam and Max Freelance Police. The Special Edition changes this to the tentacle from Day of the Tentacle.
- At one point, Guybrush can be made to walk off a cliff. The player is then shown a parody of Sierra's Have a Nice Death menus, before Guybrush bounces back into view and explains, "Rubber tree".
- In a swordfight, one of the options is: My name is Guybrush Threepwood. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
- Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Of course this is the moment when Guybrush interrupts the wedding.
- Spoof Aesop: "Never pay more than 20 bucks for a computer game."
- Spy Speak: "Excuse me, do you have a cousin named Sven?" "No, but I once had a barber named Dominique." "Close enough." Guybrush wasn't making Dominique up, as the pirate barbers in The Curse of Monkey Island mention that he used to be the fourth member of their quartet.
- Stalking Mission: Guybrush chases the storekeeper to learn the location of the Sword Master. That puzzle can be bypassed with a walkthrough, however.
- Sufficiently Advanced Bamboo Technology: Parodied. The cannibals of Monkey Island™ have state of the art security doors for no reason beyond the Rule of Funny.
- That Was the Last Entry: The Captain's log found in the Sea Monkey. It ends abruptly when the two characters described in the log leave the ship to investigate the eponymous Monkey Island, leaving their fate a mystery.
- The Three Trials: Swordplay, thievery and treasure-huntery. The Trope Namer.
- Title Drop: Shown in the Captain's log, complete with the TM suffix.
- Totem Pole Trench: With monkeys, in the wedding dress, as part of Elaine's cunning plan to defeat LeChuck that Guybrush inadvertently spoils.
- Tragic Villain/Stages of Monster Grief: LeChuck's crew were press ganged and made ghosts by force, as his first officer bitterly recalls with irony.
- Troll Bridge: Although the scary bridgekeeping troll really is George Lucas in a suit.
- Updated Rerelease: The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition, which doesn't just recreate the game... it is the game, with a new interface, graphics and voice acting built on top of the original SCUMM code.
- Villain-Beating Artifact: There's a ghost busting artifact that Guybrush needs to defeat ghosts, including LeChuck, but it requires finding some ingredients (i.e. Voodoo root, etc).
- Villainous Crush: Lechuk to Elaine.
- Walk, Don't Swim: Guybrush, when tied to the idol and thrown into the sea.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Ghosts can be killed by dousing them with root beer.
- Weird Moon: The Special Edition has an enormous moon hanging about in some of the backdrops (averted in the original version, where it's a much more reasonable size).
- The X of Y: Some items with the name similar to The Idol of Many Hands, etc.
- You Fight Like a Cow: The extended swordfighting subquest is the Trope Namer. The insults were written by Orson Scott Card.
- Your Mom:
- At one time if you let the Fettucini Flying Brothers argue over who gets to go in the cannon:
Alfredo: Your mother wears combat slippers!
- "So's your mother" is one of the options in Insult Sword Fighting that won't win, although it only appears during the training scene with Captain Smirk.