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Animation’s 17 Most Memorable Primates

by  in Lists, TV News Comment
Animation’s 17 Most Memorable Primates

Next year will see another installment in the fantastic reboot series of “Planet of the Apes,” “War for the Planet of the Apes.” The exciting trailer for the movie dropped just the other day and it obviously has high hopes of being a blockbuster hit for the summer.

RELATED: Adult Swim: 15 Shows You Forgot Existed

We’ve got a lot of time to wait before we’ll get to see the film release in theaters. Until then, we’ve taken a moment to reflect back on the coolest gorillas, chimps, monkeys and other primates in entertainment. Down below, we’ve compiled a list of the 17 greatest animated primates known to television and film. From Disney to Cartoon Network, we’ve dug through them all! Did your favorite ape make the cut?

17. Evil Monkey (Family Guy)


The Evil Monkey is a reoccurring gag and villain from the “Family Guy” series, serving as Chris Griffin’s arch-nemesis. In the episode titled “Dammit Janet!,” Evil Monkey was introduced as a vile being who lived in Chris’ closet. No one else in the Griffin family is aware of Evil Monkey’s existence and the character seems to only show up to torment Chris while he’s alone, for no apparent reason.

Since Evil Monkey’s introduction, his entire existence has just attributed toward a running gag. Appearing in various episodes, the character shows up randomly only to strike his signature pose: a simple menacing grin and finger-point. Sure, the character doesn’t really make any sense and is never used to progress the show’s plot whatsoever, but nonsensical and random humor is “Family Guy’s” entire style. The character is one of the series’ longest-running gag characters and still shows up in its later seasons.

16. Mr. Teeny (The Simpsons)


An original primate of Fox cartoon sitcom shows, Mr. Teeny is a minor character who appears in the legendary series, “The Simpsons.” He’s a heavy chainsmoker who acts as an assistant to Krusty the Clown, aiding Krusty in various visual clown gags on his television show, “The Krusty the Klown Show.” While off camera, Mr. Teeny is usually depicted as a depressed circus animal. It’s most likely from being held captive from the irresponsible Krusty, as well as the amount of cigarettes Mr. Teeny can be seen puffing.

Though Mr. Teeny is clearly a chimpanzee (lack of tail), Krusty still insists his little helper is a monkey. Krusty is completely unaware of the difference, as he has little-to-no knowledge of animals, nor does he care enough to notice. Despite Krusty usually passing off Mr. Teeny in most episodes, he’s often smarter than Krusty himself, going as far as to saving his owner from a bomb in one episode.

15. Grape Ape (The Great Grape Ape Show)


“The Great Grape Ape Show” is was a show by Hanna-Barbera Productions starring a giant 40-foot gorilla named Grape Ape. He had a childlike personality and usually responded to other characters in his show in an agreeing manner by saying his name twice, “Grape Ape, Grape Ape.” This went on to be Grape Ape’s signature catchphrase, sort of like Groot’s “I Am Groot.” His best friend was Beegle Beagle, who Grape Ape referred to as “Beegly Beagly.”

Most of the humor in “The Great Grape Ape Show” came from Grape Ape’s massive size. Other characters the gorilla would run into would run away in terror, only to find Grape Ape’s mind is too dimwitted to actually cause any trouble. The character’s cutesy show would air on ABC from 1975 through 1978, returning later on the Cartoon Network rerun channel, Boomerang, in the year 2000. Like most Hanna-Barbera shows, “The Great Grape Ape Show” featured its own laugh track.

14. Gleek (The Super Friends)


Gleek is a blue space monkey owned by Zan and Jayna, best known together as The Wonder Twins. Gleek usually appeared as a supporting character in “The Super Friends,” providing comic relief in the series and sometimes delivering goofy, slapstick-type jokes. Gleek’s power is in his tail, as he has the ability to stretch it and grab items, or humans, at will. He’s also highly intelligent.

Without Gleek, The Wonder Twins would cease being as powerful. Sure, Zan and Jayna may seem like dated heroes from the ’70s “Super Friends,” but Gleek could survive in 2016 if the character were to become modernized. With his ability to communicate via sign language and space alien monkey gibberish, and the immense strength of his tail, Gleek could rival any monkey of today. Even if he does have the very specific power of making a bucket appear out of nowhere…

13. King Gorilla (The Venture Bros.)


“The Venture Bros.” is known to have some of the oddest cartoon villains on television, and King Gorilla is no exception. He’s an English-speaking ape, similar to Gorilla Grodd, except he’s an even bigger animal in the bedroom. He’s an openly homosexual gorilla who uses his brute force to sodomize the other villains who are in prison with him. Not that such an act is ever acceptable, it becomes as funny as you would expect due to the size difference between the massive gorilla and The Monarch, as depicted in the above image.

In “The Venture Bros.,” King Gorilla doesn’t show up as often as we would’ve liked, but his screen time is always enjoyed. His presence alone is hilarious, delivering lines through a stony face and low-toned voice. Despite his actions and the fact that he’s a supervillain, deep down inside, King Gorilla is as sensitive as the butterflies The Monarch takes inspiration in from. Compared to most primates on this list, King Gorilla is definitely one of the most memorable and funniest apes as of late.

12. Dr. Zaius (Return to the Planet of the Apes)


“Return to the Planet of the Apes” is one of those campy animated television shows that few people just can’t help but love. It’s characters like Dr. Zaius that really help build a backbone for this vintage cartoon from 20th Century Fox Television. He’s an intelligent ape in a post-apocalyptic future where apes rule the word who serves to give the show a father-figure for other apes to look up to. I mean, what’s not to love?

Unfortunately, “Return to the Planet of the Apes” isn’t really a solid show at all and its cult following is fairly small. In fact, most people don’t even know the classic film franchise had an animated sequel series. Dr. Zaius is perhaps the greatest part of the show, aside from pun-driven characters like “William Apespeare.” Despite the fact that most of the characters involved in this show have never met each other in prior films or the television series, Dr. Zaius’ character stayed true to his live-action self, so the show wasn’t a total actual failure.

11. George (Curious George)


Hans Augusto Rey and Margret Rey are the two responsible for creating one of the most recognizable primates in history, Curious George. The children’s book star is nothing less of adorable, constantly getting into trouble with a naive sense of childlike wonder about him. From the character’s start in children’s books to starring in films and an animated television show on PBS, “Curious George” is one of the coolest animated primates ever produced.

His story is a simple one. “The Man with The Yellow Hat” takes a brown monkey named George home from Africa to live with him in the city. The original children’s book telling the first tale of “Curious George” was published in 1941. Since then, the character has journeyed through many adventures in and out of the city, living in a zoo, visiting the hospital and nearly getting lost out at sea after diving into the Pacific Ocean from a ship heading back from Africa. These may seem like tame stories, but these include some of the most riveting children’s novels.

10. Magilla Gorilla (The Magilla Gorilla Show)


Magilla Gorilla is the less obnoxious version of another primate from Hanna-Barbera. Unlike Grape Ape, most of the jokes involved with “The Magilla Gorilla Show” don’t depict Magilla Gorilla as a terror of massive size. Instead, he’s seen as an idiot. A naive, dumbly spoken idiot who delivered his lines as silly as possible.

In “The Magilla Gorilla Show,” Magilla Gorilla starred as the show’s title character, an anthropomorphic gorilla who hangs out in a pet shop run by Melvin Peebles. He’s for sale, but no one wants to buy him, so he spends his days helping Melvine Peebles in his pet store and often runs amok. Peebles knows Magilla is a total dimwit, while most characters Magilla interacts with treat him as if he were a child or an infuriatingly brilliant child. Either way, he holds a warm place in the hearts of those who live for old-school Hanna-Barbera cartoons.

9. Master Monkey (Kung Fu Panda)


Master Monkey is one of the famed members of “Kung Fu Panda’s” Furious Five. Voiced by Jackie Chan, Master Monkey is a skilled fighter who is a master in the Monkey Style of kung fu. He’s a Golden snub-nosed monkey, known to carry the best sense of humor compared to the rest of Furious Five’s team. He is easily one of the most memorable monkey from the “Kung Fu Panda” series and also one of the more memorable members of the Furious Five.

While the core films in the “Kung Fu Panda” series introduced the viewer to Master Monkey’s character, the franchise’s many spinoffs gave an elaborate expansion to the character’s background history. Master Monkey was once known to be a prankster and a thief, up until meeting Master Oogway. Thankfully, the character proved to be a good guy, teaming up with Po and riding off each other’s senses of humor.

8. Blip, Space Ghost


Coming to us straight from the original “Space Ghost” cartoon from the ’60s (not to be confused with “Space Ghost Coast To Coast”), Blip, the sidekick animal companion of teenage Space Ghost helpers, Jan and Jace. Produced by Hanna-Barbera and created by Alex Toth, “Space Ghost” was an action-adventure show based on a hero named Space Ghost and his battles in outer space. Most episodes revolved around Space Ghost’s sidekicks getting kidnapped and needing saving from Space Ghost himself, while others just involved Space Ghost and his team attacking various villains. Every now and again, though, Blip would make an appearance and save the day.

Blip was a character who was often ignored by villains, leaving him the perfect hero in now-cliche situations. Blip would outwit villains while Jan, Jace and Space Ghost were in trouble, coming in clutch toward the end of episodes and busting the team out of a pickle. He’s also adorable to boot.

7. Chim-Chim (Speed Racer)


In the original American “Speed Racer” cartoon, the title character has a younger brother named Spritle and a pet chimpanzee named Chim-Chim. The two aid Speed during races, becoming an essential tag team duo for the “Speed Racer” series and usually showing up to save the day. The duo take on thugs and gun-toting enemies with only a slingshot or rocks, using these mundane weapons to give Speed an upper hand during races.

They’re usually found hiding in the trunk of Speed Racer’s car, the Mach 5, popping out when necessary. Both Spritle and Chim Chim have an obsession with candy and will fight amongst themselves if they accept bribes concerning the food. They mimic each other’s physical moves and act, as well as dress, identically. Their chemistry on the show and its live-action film is charming, to say the least, focusing on their relationship as best friends who just love junk food.

6. Optimus Primal (Beast Wars: Transformers)


Serving as the protagonist in the “Transformers” spinoff series “Beast Wars: Transformers,” Optimus Primal is decades down the family line of Optimus Prime. Optimus Primal is a primate-themed Transformer, taking the looks of a buff gorilla, yet still committing to the Maximal codes of honor and moral judgment. He’s an honorable fighter, commanding his fellow Maximals in battle with an admirable attitude that focuses on friendship and values.

Some may say Optimus Primal is possibly the coolest iteration of Optimus Prime. The character spinoff was much more organic than one could’ve hoped from a show that served as a direct sequel to the original “Transformers” series. He’s a hero’s hero, always putting the safety of his friends, and even enemies, ahead of himself for the sake of a greater good. Respectful, intelligent and a highly skilled fighter for peace, Optimus Primal is one of the coolest animated primates on this list.

5. Abu (Aladdin)


Abu, from the 1992 Disney film “Aladdin,” is a character based off a 1940 film called “The Thief of Bagdad.” He’s a sidekick to Aladdin, serving as both his best friend and partner-in-crime. He aids Aladdin throughout his journey and various adventures, leaving his kleptomaniac tendencies to guide his actions and steal all things that are valuable.

Aladdin’s character can usually be found stealing in order to survive living in poverty, while Abu steals whatever he can get his paws on. That means everything, including food, jewelry or riches is Abu’s main focus when it comes to theft, making his small stature extra useful in the “Aladdin” movies and its spin-off television series of the same name. Abu serves as a loveable companion to Aladdin, helping him get out of trouble when it’s needed, helping outwit his enemies or just simply to steal for the greater good. Troublesome, sure, but he’s still an adorable best friend.

4. Monkey (Dexter’s Laboratory)


In “Dexter’s Laboratory,” Dexter, boy genius, has a pet lab monkey simply known and referred to as “Monkey.” He doesn’t really have a name, but Dexter usually tries to tamper with Monkey in various experiments. Little does Dexter know, Monkey is actually the planet’s greatest superhero, also known as “Monkey.” He starred in various “Dial M for Monkey” segments during several episodes of the original “Dexter’s Laboratory” series and fights crime with his partner Agent Honeydew and his commanding officer, who is aptly named Commander.

When seen in “Dexter’s Laboratory” as a normal monkey, Monkey puts on a facade to throw Dexter off to his true identity. He acts like a monkey, slumming around and pretending to be unintelligent. Monkey can be found usually hanging out with Dexter’s sister Dee Dee. He’s hilarious both in “Dexter’s Laboratory” and “Dial M for Monkey,” talking in simple monkey screeches and eating bananas along the way.

3. King Louie (The Jungle Book)


Disney’s classic film “The Jungle Book” is an adaption of a Rudyard Kipling book of the same name. Although Disney did produce an adaptation for the children’s novel, King Louie was never a character in the project’s source. Regardless, King Louie shows as being one of the coolest characters in all of Disney’s “Jungle Book” spin-offs, films and remakes. Voice actor Louis Prima really took the role of King Louie and made it his own.

In the film, “The Jungle Book,” King Louie performs the addicting and feel-good swing-tune “I Wanna Be Like You.” It’s an insanely catchy song that still holds up to this day. He’s also a pretty great scatter. While Christopher Walken recently took on the role of King Louie in Disney’s recently remake of “The Jungle Book,” the soul of Louie’s “I Wanna Be Like You” was missing. Rest assured , Louie is a threatening king of the jungle nonetheless, grooving through Mogwai’s head to find “man’s red fire.”

2. Rafiki (The Lion King)


Rafiki is an old, wise mandrill with a long tail and the ability to perform shaman-like rituals during “The Lion King” and its spinoff movies. Rafiki, whose name literally translates to “friend” in Swahili, is the iconic mentor figure who almost seems to be the Yoda of “The Lion King” series. He’s lovable and often serves as a narrator for the story of “The Lion King,” be it in various video games or spinoff shows.

All characters in the Pride Lands can learn a thing or two from Rafiki, and they usually do. He’s the royal adviser, giving deep wisdom to the kings of the Pride Lands. Rafiki is heavy with insights, but sometimes reveals them in the form of riddles and doesn’t mind giving his listeners a good bump on the head to drive his points home. He’s always guiding other animals to do better in a positive manner, through excitement and a high-strung personality. Rafiki is truly a solid character from Disney.

1. Mojo Jojo (The Powerpuff Girls)


A true villain of late ’90s cartoon shows, Mojo Jojo is a goofy chimpanzee-turned mad scientist. He’s smart, he’s powerful, but he’s just too funny to take seriously. He always overstates the obvious and tends to over explain what he’s doing in the moment, which sometimes causes Mojo Jojo to see his plans fail due to exposing them before actually acting. Mojo Jojo is the main antagonist of “The Powerpuff Girls” series and serves as the Powerpuff Girls’ main enemy.

Voiced by Roger L. Jackson, Mojo Jojo usually speaks with a deep, evil accent. He wears a massive white turban of clay to cover his oversized brain that was caused by an explosion. In terms of being a supervillain, he’s not that great. He’s typically foiled due to overthinking and his plans usually fall apart, but he is a solid man of manipulation, often tricking the city of Townsville and pretending to be a “good guy” numerous times.

Did we forget to include a classic cartoon ape on this list? Let us know in the comments!

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