Top-10 Monkey Island Characters (Recurring)
The Monkey Island adventure games is one of my all time favourite game series. One of the many things that make them so awesome are all the cool and quirky characters. I wanted to compile a Top-10 of my favourite characters, but I really didn’t want to exclude more established characters in favour of less frequently appearing ones. The solution: make two lists!
This time I will rank my favourite recurring characters from the franchise. The only qualification is that the characters will have had to have appeared in more than one game in the series (so sorry, but no Tales of Monkey Island characters on this one). The other list is going to focus on the one-ofs and other memorables not on this list.
On with the list…
(Carla the Swordmaster, Otis & Meathook)
Guybrush Threepwood’s original crew on his first trip to the fabled Monkey Island was marred by mutiny. After struggling to beat the Swordmaster, free Otis from jail and prove your courage to the handless Meathook, they show their respect and gratitude… by not helping at all and sunbathing.
Guybrush’s first crew is really memorable more for the things they did before becoming the crew of the Sea Monkey and that’s why they don’t rank quite so high. However, the crew returns in the fourth game of the series, Escape from Monkey Island, now extremely bitter to Guybrush for sinking the ship and leaving them stranded. Carla and the permanently traumatized Otis are unwilling to join until Guybrush promises cushy government jobs for both.
Also, on your quest to other islands, Otis gets arrested again for picking flowers and Carla gets shit-faced, having endured Mr. Cheese’s sailing three times in the game. Meathook is the only one to have made a success of himself as a painter (how a pirate with no hands can paint? You’ll have to play Escape to find out).
Lemonhead was first introduced as the third and most quiet member of the trio of Cannibals Guybrush encountered on his first trip to Monkey Island. Lemonhead also displays rather low intelligence, failing to notice an idol offered by Guybrush is actually made by him, even though his name is actually written on it.
In The Curse of Monkey Island, Lemonhead is seen again, this time as the leader of a cannibal tribe on Blood Island. Since his companions, Sharp Tooth and Red Skull, are nowhere to be seen – it seems the cannibals went their separate ways, probably due to dietary reasons as Lemonhead no longer eats humans but has gone completely vegetarian (to accommodate the dietary habits of Blood Island’s volcano god who is fed human mannequins made of fruit).
Honestly, there’s not much to Lemonhead. He’s just a guy with wearing a giant Lemon mask, but he’s such a goofy looking character that I get a kick from seeing him. He wasn’t nearly as buff in Curse as he was in his first appearance (maybe eating fruits and vegetables thinned him out), but he has some brilliant dialogue.
As a side-note: In a bit of a mess-up with the voice-direction for the first game’s Special Edition, actor S. Scott Bullock gave Lemonhead’s voice to Red Skull while Lemonhead sounds a lot more dopey and silly.
(a.k.a. Horatio Torquemada Marley)
Herman Toothrot is probably the character who has gone through more changes from game to game without ever having changed his clothes or put on a pair of pants. The creepy hermit of Monkey Island was seemingly rescued at the end of Secret but then stranded himself again in Monkey Island 2 in order to teach philosophy on Dinky Island.
Toothrot’s biggest change came in the continuity shattering plot-twist in the fourth game, where he is revealed to be Elaine’s long-lost grandfather. Despite the obvious plot-holes, Herman is just a really fun character and I think Wally Wingert’s crazy prospector voice for the character was perfect and I quite like his grumpy yet snappy old man schtick in the fourth game.
However, Toothrot has only played a significant role in the fourth game which is why I don’t really want to place him any higher. He’s a great deal of fun, but not quite my absolute favourite.
(a.k.a. Wally the Cartographer / Bloodnose the Pirate)
Poor Wally ends up from one misfortune to another regardless of the game he’s in. When introduced in Monkey Island 2 he had his monocle immediately stolen by Guybrush and once Wally decided to help him interpret the map to the legendary pirate treasure of Big Whoop, he was captured by the villains.
Wally’s luck didn’t improve much from there on out. He was caught in a deadly acid trap, rescued by Guybrush, but left behind to join LeChuck’s crew when Guybrush accidentally blew up the villains’ fortress. He was insulted to the point of tears at the beginning of the third game and locked up by the villains again by the end of it.
Wally is so utterly sympathetic because nothing he does in the games actually warrants the punishment he goes through. Even the creators of Monkey Island 2 felt so bad for Wally that they cut out a sequence from the game’s finale which showed the hapless Wally stranded on a raft and losing his monocle again when it falls overboard (leaving him blind as a bat).
(a.k.a. Governor Marley)
Elaine is not your average damsel in distress. Though she’s needed rescuing a few times, she’s usually capable of escaping on her own. After a rocky relationship with Guybrush through the first two instalments, Elaine and Guybrush finally married at the end of the third game, though that was far from the end of their troubles.
Elaine was declared dead while on honeymoon and had to run against the sly Charles L. Charles (LeChuck in disguise) for the position of governor, losing to his incredibly popular “Good Times & Free Grog” campaign. Elaine held her own until the fourth game’s finale when her grandfather returned as the governor of Mêlée so that Guybrush and her could run off on more piratey adventures.
Elaine has a nice sassy and playful attitude although she’s also tough as nails when she needs to be. She’s probably one of the best and most rounded female characters from any video-game personality wise. Sadly, her role in the first three games was rather fleeting (especially Curse, where she spends 85% of the game as a solid gold statue), but she has become more prominent in later instalments. If only she were a playable character in the next game…
Somewhat ironically, the Voodoo Lady has gone from being one of the most insignificant characters of the franchise to being finally at the centre of events by the fifth game of the series, Tales of Monkey Island. The mysterious fortune-teller only provides with predictions in the first game, but already in the second you need her help to construct a Voodoo doll and in the third game she gives Guybrush a great deal of knowledge about his quest.
In the fourth game, she’s also greatly involved, helping Guybrush uncover the mystery of the Voodoo power known as The Ultimate Insult. Her character seems to have taken a slightly dark turn in the fifth game. Although she still guides Guybrush on his quest, for the first time ever it’s hinted that the Voodoo Lady may have her own secret agenda involving Guybrush and LeChuck.
The Voodoo Lady is such a powerful fixture to the franchise that I honestly couldn’t imagine a Monkey Island game without a visit to her creepy Voodoo Shoppe, awesome music and all.
(a.k.a. Stan the Salesman / Smilin’ Stan)
Stan the Slimy Salesman has appeared in every single Monkey Island game, each time running some form of a shady business which usually somehow ties in with Guybrush’s quest. Stan first started out as the fast-talking, arm-flailing, unchanging jacket pattern wearing Used Ship Salesman on Mêlée Island. Since then he’s ran a number of businesses and tried on other professions including selling Previously Owned Coffins, Life Insurance, Time Shares, being a D.A. on Flotsam Island and selling cheaply made and potentially dangerous merchandise.
Everything about Stan just brings a smile to my face. His bizarre jacket, his flailing arms, his ridiculous boating and his uncanny ability to survive being trapped in a coffin for an undisclosed period of time. Plus, his theme song is another one of my favourites.
As a side-note: Stan actually has a completely different main theme in the first game.
Of course you can’t have a popular long-running adventure game series without a likeable main hero at its core. Guybrush is one of the most likeable and goofy heroes in video-games. Despite his desire to be a feared pirate, he’s a bit too skinny and wimpy to really live up to that role. Never the less, he’s defeated LeChuck numerous times and always finds a way to use his wits to get out of a jam.
Guybrush started off as a rather plain and wide-eyed (if at times sharp-tongued) pirate wannabe in the first game. In the second, he was a bit of a jerk and pursued his goal of finding Big Whoop with complete disregard to everyone around him. He finally calmed down by the third game and became the wimpy yet witty hero we now know him as.
Guybrush has an incredible skill of making you sympathise with him and he’s practically loaded with smart-allecky or silly comments about everything which is what makes him so relatable. You’re liable to bust a gut more than a few times just looking around and examining things in a Monkey Island game.
(a.k.a. Murray the Mighty Demonic Skull)
Murray made his debut in The Curse of Monkey Island, where Guybrush blew his body up, leaving his disembodied skull floating on a plank in the ocean. Murray was not distraught by his condition though, but instead decided to make it the big opportunity he had looked for to become a demonic overlord and conquer the land of the living.
What makes Murray so lovable is his incredible megalomania despite the fact that he is literally just a talking skull. His laugh, his pompous voice and his demonic references all make him a character you just love to go up to and talk, even in Escape from Monkey Island where he sadly didn’t play an integral part to Guybrush’s quest.
Murray is always a joy to see in any Monkey Island game and I hope he will continue making reappearances in later games.
As a side-note: Though Murray doesn’t appear in the first two games, his voice-actor Denny Delk is the voice of the narrator in the game.
(a.k.a. Captain LeChuck / Ghost Pirate LeChuck / Zombie Pirate LeChuck etc.)
What would a hero be without a villain to fight? LeChuck is the character who really keeps the Monkey Island series alive with one hair-brained maniacal scheme after another. LeChuck is actually more threatening in his earlier incarnations, but in hindsight to almost every game he tends to make idiotic fatal flaws which always backfire on him and give Guybrush the chance to save the day.
Still, LeChuck is also a great villain because he can’t ever die, he’s already dead. Also, he takes different forms in each of the games to provide some nice variety. My favourite version of the character is his “flaming demon” incarnation in the third game, but I also like his Zombie form (the most common of them) and his classic ghost form.
And of course, LeChuck has one of the best voices and best villainous laughs of any video-game bad guy, provided by the brilliant Earl Boen. (Adam Harrington was the voice of LeChuck in Tales of Monkey Island: Chapter 1 initially before Boen redid the dialogue).