Donkey Kong Fan Theories

Voting Rules
Vote up the theories that sound totally plausible to you.

In the '90s, Nintendo began a run of amazing Donkey Kong games that were all vaguely based on the original Donkey Kong game from 1981. In response, players have spent decades trying to construct a unified Donkey Kong fan theory to explain the franchise's wonky timeline, and why Mario and Kong seem to hate each other so much.

Theories about Donkey Kong range from plausible to absurd, but they’re all a lot of fun to consider. The best Donkey Kong theories include a layer of depth that one wouldn't expect to find in a story about a monkey who fights crocodiles to collect bananas. With the release of Super Mario Odyssey, fans were offered more clues regarding the origin of their favorite primate. Gamers immediately started trying to figure out how DK related to the New Donk City level, and how this information could be tied back to other Donkey Kong fan theories.

Did Donkey Kong Jr. kill Mario's dad? How many casualties resulted from the Mushroom Kingdom Civil War? Is the whole Donkey Kong series one big allegory for US imperialism? These are the pressing questions that diehard fans are brave enough to ask. 

Photo: Donkey Kong / Nintendo

  • 1
    692 VOTES

    Donkey Kong May Have Killed Mario And Luigi's Father

    One of the biggest questions surrounding the long-running feud between Mario and Donkey Kong is: Why does Mario hate the barrel-throwing gorilla? In an attempt to answer this question, Redditor /u/JustEmbarrassing suggests that DK's father may have murdered the Mario family patriarch, Jumpman, in Donkey Kong Jr. 

    In the original Donkey Kong, Jumpman has to save the love of his life from a wretched ape. In Donkey Kong Jr., Jumpman turns the tables on his enemy and traps him in a cage, forcing his son to fight a series of animals. At the end of the game, Donkey Kong Jr. frees his father, which causes Jumpan to fall to his death. To this day, Mario and Luigi work tirelessly to exact their revenge on the Kong family.  

    692 votes
  • 2
    484 VOTES

    Cranky Kong Could Be The Original Donkey Kong

    Over the course of three decades, the Kong family has grown by leaps and bounds. All along, one aspect of the Kong family tree has confused players: is DK is actually the same ape who kidnaps Mario's lover in the arcade game? 

    The true identity of the Donkey Kong antagonist first came into question in Donkey Kong Country, when the elderly Cranky Kong makes reference to the period of time he spent "whisking maidens and tossing barrels seven days a week." 

    The Kong's family history is so muddled that Nintendo can't even keep the timeline straight. Initially, the company stated that Cranky Kong was the original Kong from the '80s arcade game, but in the Donkey Kong Country Returns manual, it just says that Cranky Kong is Donkey Kong's grandfather. To add to the confusion, in a GBA port of Donkey Kong Country 3, the game makes it clear that Cranky Kong debuted in the fictional game Cranky Kong Country (which is definitely not Donkey Kong). 

    The whole thing wreaks of deceit, especially when one considers the fact that Mario does not age. Even though he allegedly battles three generations of Kongs, the plumber's appearance hardly changes. 

    484 votes
  • 3
    310 VOTES

    There Was (Allegedly) Once A War Fought Over Kong Island

    Redditor /u/Marhiin has some pretty grandiose theories about the world where Mario and Donkey Kong reside. Their belief is that a civil war ripped the Mushroom Kingdom apart, before spiraling outward to include Kong Island. 

    According to the theory, at the time of the Mushroom Kingdom Civil War, Kong Island was a colony controlled by the Koopa Kingdom. After the Mushroom Army eliminated the leader of the Koopas, control of Kong Island fell into the hands of K. Rool's pirates, which accounts for the compartmentalized nation-states seen in some games.

    Kong Island remained under hostile control until DK decided to stage a rebellion. At this point, the pirates joined forces with the accursed Manky Kongs (who were subsequently excommunicated from the Kong family). The resulting conflict spanned the entirety of Donkey Kong Country. 

    310 votes
  • 4
    314 VOTES

    Super Mario Odyssey Explains How Donkey Kong Got His Name (Probably)

    An interesting theory about Super Mario Odyssey suggests that the game reveals how Donkey Kong got his (admittedly silly) name. Redditor /u/Cardboard_Boxer notes that, while the rest of the Kong clan are named after their defining traits ("Chunky is big and beefy, Lanky is tall and awkward, Funky is suave and hip"), Donkey is a bit of an anomaly.

    Because so many things in New Donk City are named after members of the Kong clan, it's very likely that Mario named Donkey Kong after the city. This is a really interesting bit of retconning that actually ties up the whole Kong series. 

    314 votes
  • 5
    295 VOTES

    Pauline Might Be Named After A 1930s Film Series

    Was Pauline — the rarely seen kidnapping victim from the original Donkey Kong — given her name at random? Some Pauline truthers believe that the woman in the cage is named after a silent film character who was routinely rescued from perilous situations. 

    The Perils of Pauline was a weekly film serial that began in 1914, and that followed a young woman who was orphaned at birth. Rejecting all convention, Pauline decides to pursue a life of adventure, which often places her in harrowing situations. To make things worse, her suitor's evil assistant regularly tries to sabotage her adventures in fatal ways. The films eventually made their way over to Japan, and its believed that they influenced the naming of the pixelated damsel in distress. 

    295 votes
  • 6
    190 VOTES

    The 'Donkey Kong Country' Show Can Be Viewed As A Prequel To The Games

    On the Donkey Kong fan blog Bejungled, there's a popular theory that suggests the animated Donkey Kong Country TV show is actually a prequel to the games.

    The theory relies primarily on analysis of DK's mannerisms. On the show, he's as cool as a cucumber, but in the game, he's a manic banana hoarder.  The change in his personality likely occurred after the magic of the Crystal Coconut ran out, which forced DK and his family to move from Koko Bongo Island to Kong Island. The mad dash to build up the family's banana cache is a futile attempt to recapture the magic that was once imbued in the Crystal Coconut. 

    190 votes