Donkey Kong as seen in Donkey Kong Jungle Beat

Game series Donkey Kong/Mario
First game Donkey Kong Arcade (1981)
'Created by' Shigeru Miyamoto
Voiced by (English)
Soupy Sales (Saturday Supercade)
Gary Chalk (Captain N: The Game Master)
Richard Yearwood (TV series)
Kevin Bayliss (1994-2001)
Isaac Marshall
Voiced by (Japanese)
Takashi Nagasako (2004-present)
Kōichi Yamadera (TV series)

Donkey Kong (Donkī Kongu) is a fictional ape who first appeared in Nintendo's popular 1981 video game bearing the same name.

Creation and conceptionEdit

Donkey Kong was created by game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, along with two other characters, as an original property of Nintendo once their licensing of Popeye fell through. The three characters were supposed to mirror the love triangle that exists in the Popeye comics. Donkey Kong was cast as the antagonist, with the creator explaining that a gorilla is not "too evil or repulsive". Miyamoto believed "donkey" meant "stupid" in English, and assumed the name Donkey Kong would convey the sense "stupid ape" to an American audience. When he suggested this name to Nintendo of America, he was laughed at, but the name stuck.


Donkey Kong flier cropped

Front of Donkey Kong promotional flier from 1981 showing Mario, Donkey Kong, and Pauline.

Early historyEdit

Donkey Kong made his first appearance as the titular character of the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong alongside protagonist Mario (then known as "Jumpman") and damsel in distress, the Lady (later renamed Pauline). As Jumpman, the player must reach Donkey Kong at the top of each stage, where he is holding the Lady captive. Donkey Kong attempts to hinder the player's progress by throwing barrels, springs, and other objects towards Jumpman. The ape reappeared the following year in the sequel Donkey Kong Junior, where Donkey Kong is taken captive and locked in a cage by the re-named Mario, while Donkey Kong Junior sets out to rescue him. Donkey Kong resumed his antagonistic role in Donkey Kong 3, this time the character Stanley The Bugman taking Mario's place as the protagonist. Stanley fights Donkey Kong's attempts to invade a greenhouse along with a horde of killer bees.

After Donkey Kong, Mario went on to become Nintendo's primary mascot, while Donkey Kong and his son were relegated to supporting roles and cameos such as in the arcade version of Punch-Out!!, Super Mario Kart, and the Virtual Boy game Mario's Tennis. The 1994 Game Boy version of Donkey Kong marked his re-emergence as a major character. He was redesigned, appearing with a red necktie, which sometimes bears his initials, "DK".

Rare eraEdit

Dkc snes boxart

Donkey Kong with red necktie, on the cover of Donkey Kong Country.

The 1994 Super NES game Donkey Kong Country made by British game developer Rareware marked a turning point for Donkey Kong by creating a new setting, Donkey Kong Island, and backstory for the character.

The character is reintroduced in Donkey Kong Country as the grandson of the original Donkey Kong, who appears in the game as an elderly ape named Cranky Kong. A representative of Rare stated shortly after the release of Donkey Kong 64, however, that the current Donkey Kong was meant to be an adult version of Donkey Kong Junior. In the Rare games, Donkey Kong is portrayed as a powerful yet lazy and laid-back ape, who is interested mainly in his banana hoard. The series introduced Diddy Kong as Donkey's sidekick, and King K. Rool as his nemesis who steals the banana hoard.

Despite his name being in the titles of both games, DK is not the protagonist in the sequel Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest nor Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!. Instead he is captured by K. Rool, while the player controls different Kongs who have set out to rescue him. The Donkey Kong Country series also inspired the Donkey Kong Land trilogy and an animated television series.

Donkey Kong 64 for the Nintendo 64 was the last platform game developed by Rare starring Donkey Kong. The modern Donkey Kong supplanted Junior's role in the Mario Kart series from Mario Kart 64. With this, DK became a regular playable character in the Mario sports series and other spin-offs such as Mario Party and Super Smash Bros.

Post-Rare eraEdit

Following Rare's departure from the series, Nintendo co-produced a trilogy of rhythm games with Namco for the Nintendo GameCube known as the Donkey Konga series, which were based on Namco's own Taiko: Drum Master, though only two of the series' games made it to America. Donkey Kong Jungle Beat was released on March 14, 2005 in North America for the GameCube. It depicted DK as being more violent than his original image and also used the bongo controllers. In October 2007, Donkey Kong: Barrel Blast was released in North America for the Wii. It has been suggested that this is Nintendo's way of reviving the canceled GameCube racing game for Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Racing, which was lost after Rare's departure.

On handheld consoles, Donkey Kong was reunited with his former rival Mario in the 2004 Game Boy Advance game, Mario vs. Donkey Kong. A throwback to the Donkey Kong title for the Game Boy, Donkey Kong resumed his antagonist role from his earlier games by taking over the Mario Toy Company, upset over the lack of Mini-Mario toys available for purchase. The game was followed by a 2006 sequel titled Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis, where Donkey Kong, who is infatuated with Pauline, kidnaps her and takes her to the roof of the Super Mini-Mario World amusement park when she ignores a Mini Donkey Kong toy in favor of a Mini-Mario. Aside from those, Donkey Kong appeared in DK King of Swing on the GBA around the time of Jungle Beat, and in its sequel, DK Jungle Climber for the Nintendo DS, which was released in North America on September 10, 2007. Jungle Climber took the gameplay of its predecessor, KoS, and mixed it with the style, locations, and items of the Donkey Kong Country trilogy.

Baby Donkey KongEdit

Baby DK is the Baby version of Donkey Kong. He first appeared in Yoshi's Island DS and then appeared in Mario Super Sluggers.

Other appearancesEdit


Donkey Kong as he appears in Super Smash Bros.


Donkey Kong as he appears in Super Smash Bros. Melee.


Donkey Kong as he appears in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

In 1999, he was one of the first to appear in the successful game and eventually series Super Smash Bros. He also returned in the sequel, Super Smash Bros. Melee. His latest appearance in the series is in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. In all of the games thus far, he has been classed as a heavyweight, a character with great strength and weight, good speed, surprising agility, and low jump.

Donkey Kong is a playable character in most Mario Party games, until Mario Party 5, in which he becomes in charge of Donkey Kong spaces. In Mario Party 5 these bring a Donkey Kong related mini-game, but in Mario Party 8, landing on a Donkey Kong space gives an advantage (ie. a chance for a free star).

Donkey Kong makes an appearance in Mario Super Sluggers for the Wii.

Other MediaEdit

  • Donkey Kong appeared in the Futurama episode "Anthology of Interest II" voiced by Maurice LaMarche, identified when Fry points out "I know that monkey--his name is Donkey." He is shown to come from Nintendu 64 and kills Richard M. Nixon's head. He is later seen with Lrrr when they emerge from the final Space Invaders ship and reach a compromise to wash their laundry with Earth's.
  • On an episode of Two and a Half Men, in an effort to make Evelyn feel better, Alan tells Jake to tell Evelyn to sing Danke Schoen and Jake accidentally tells her to sing Donkey Kong.