The Monkey Island series has been running for many years, decades, even. It's undergone many changes as it's moved from 2D to 3D and back to 2D again, but some things remain constant, such as the compelling Guybrush Threepwood, the nefarious LeChuck, and the awe-inspiring Elaine Marley.
With six games to play, it can be a little intimidating getting into the series. There are tons of characters to remember and plot threads that go to exciting places, and that's not even mentioning the puzzles! We've got you covered, though - we'll take you through a chronological tale of Monkey Island.
Guybrush Threepwood Wants To Be A Pirate (The Secret Of Monkey Island)
We begin our story with a young man named Guybrush Threepwood. He is a simple man with one goal in mind - he wants to be a pirate. We first meet Guybrush on Melee Island, which will become one of the most important islands of the series. Here, he's instructed to meet the pirate leaders, who will point Guybrush in the right direction.
In fact, in the Scumm Bar, a chaotic den of piracy and a roaring good time, the pirate leaders give young Threepwood the three trials of piracy. If he completes them all, he will be a fully-fledged pirate in the leaders' eyes. One by one, Guybrush completes the trials:
- First, Guybrush masters the art of Insult Swordfighting, a combat art that revolves around cutting remarks and exhibitions of wit. By learning some nasty jibes, he takes on the current Swordmaster of Melee Island, Carla, and beats her handily.
- Second is the trial of Thievery, for which Guybrush sets his sights on the Idol of Many Hands. This peculiar artifact happens to bein inside the Melee Island Governor's Mansion, and it is through this quest that Guybrush meets Elaine Marley, but more about her later.
- Finally, Treasure Huntery must be mastered. Guybrush heads deep into the forests of Melee Island to find some plunder, and while it takes some doing, he eventually gets to dig up a rather disappointing treasure - a t-shirt. You can't win 'em all.
While completing the trials, Guybrush meets some very interesting characters. There's Otis, a prisoner, locked away for picking flowers, and Stan, a consummate salesman with a jazzy, reality-bending jacket. There's also Fester Shinetop, the local sheriff, who attempts to drown Guybrush by throwing him into the ocean, tied to the Idol of Many Hands. Luckily, Guybrush can hold his breath for ten whole minutes and simply picks the idol up and walks to shore.
Returning to the Scumm Bar to declare his victory over the three trials, the pirate leaders are nowhere to be found. Instead, he spies a ghostly ship leaving over the horizon and a note, telling him that the ghost pirate LeChuck has kidnapped Governor Marley, taking her to Monkey Island for a forced wedding.
Guybrush instantly resolves to form a crew, procure a boat, and pursue the undead pirate to rescue Elaine.
A short jaunt as a human cannonball left Guybrush with a hefty chunk of money, but it's not enough to purchase a ship, but some crafty dealings and some forceful haggling get Stan down to a reasonable price, and Guyrbrush becomes the proud owner of the Sea Monkey. Now all he needs is a crew - of three, to be exact.
Carla the Swordmaster is quick to join the expedition, impressed by Guybrush's Insult Swordfighting. Next is Otis, who agrees to join the crew in return for a jailbreak. The final crewmate is Meathook, a man with no hands and a secluded house on a small island off the coast of Melee. To get there, Threepwood must glide along a long rope connecting Melee to the island, and he does this using a handy rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle, obtained from the International House of Mojo, a shop on Melee where Guybrush meets the enigmatic Voodoo Lady, so full of cryptic hints and visions of the future.
Meathook signs up for the adventure once Guybrush proves his bravery by facing up to a terrifying challenge - a single parrot. With a full crew, Threepwood heads to Monkey Island.
The rescue mission suffers a hiccup on the way to Monkey Island - the crew mutinies, instead enjoying the sun and the chance to relax. Undeterred, Guybrush manages to mix up a magic potion, following some convenient instructions found in the Sea Monkey's cabin. Once the potion is mixed up, the ship magically arrives off the coast of Monkey Island. Guybrush uses his past experience as a human cannonball to get himself over to the island.
It takes only a little exploration on Monkey Island to find out that LeChuck's ship is currently docked underground, in the hellish, lava-filled tunnels hidden beneath a giant, ominous monkey head. Reaching the ship takes a lot of work - Guybrush has to deal with cannibals wearing fruity masks, a castaway named Herman Toothrot, and a monkey he teaches to pull a lever, letting him access the monkey head. Helping him reach the ship is the head of a navigator, who is unseasonably chatty for a detached head - it is his necklace that lets Guybrush board the ship filled with undead safely, as it makes him invisible to ghosts.
It is here that Guybrush learns that to kill the undead, you need some Voodoo Antiroot, and the cannibals help him make up a batch. Before he can return to LeChuck's ship, however, it departs! After learning from an abandoned crewmate that LeChuck is returning to Melee Island to marry Elaine, Guybrush pursues him with the help of Herman Toothrot, who had a ship all this time.
Back on Melee, Guybrush fights through ghosts to confront LeChuck at the church - unfortunately, he interrupts Elain's own, great plan to destroy the ghost and then proves no match for LeChuck in a fistfight and loses his seltzer bottle full of Voodoo Antiroot. Not to worry, however, as being punched all the way to Stan's shipyard puts Guybrush in close proximity to some root beer - it is using this that he's able to beat LeChuck once and for all.
A New Quest (Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge)
A few years pass after LeChuck's defeat. Guybrush and Elaine have a romantic fling, but things don't seem to go well, and when his fellow pirates start getting tired of his singular story, Guybrush sets his sights on a new quest: finding the legendary treasure of Big Whoop.
This quest takes Guybrush to Woodtick, a port town on Scabb Island. It's here that he meets Largo LaGrande, a violent bully, hated by the entire island's population. If he's to get anywhere, including off the island, Guybrush needs to deal with him.
With the help of the Voodoo Lady, now residing in Scabb Island's swamp, Guybrush is able to construct a voodoo doll of LaGrande using some specific ingredients - something of the head, something of the thread, something of the body, and something of the dead. He uses the doll to terrorize LaGrande off the island, but inadvertently reveals to the bully that he's the current owner of the only remaining piece of LeChuck, his almost-living, disgusting, ghostly beard. Before scarpering, LaGrande snatches the beard, revealing himself to be one of LeChuck's devotees.
While Guybrush sails around the Tri-Island area, picking up map pieces and telling everyone and their mother that he's on the hunt for Big Whoop, LaGrande heads to LeChuck's Fortress with the undead captain's beard. With the power of voodoo, LeChuck is revived as a zombie pirate and swears revenge on Threepwood, now his nemesis.
During his search for clues, Guybrush runs into Elaine on Booty Island. The interaction is short and quite awkward, but it's clear that there are still strong feelings between the pair - though Elaine is fed up with Guybrush's constant need for adventure and excitement.
With a fully assembled map to Big Whoop, Guybrush learns that Big Whoop is on Dinky Island. He heads there posthaste, finding the location of the buried treasure. The only way he thinks to dig a whole is by using some dynamite, and the resulting explosion leaves him trapped in a deep hole, hanging by a rope.
Luckily for Guybrush, the blast is heard all the way on Booty Island and Elaine comes to his rescue. The unlucky part arrives when he finishes giving his explanation for his predicament - the rope snaps and Guybrush falls into the chasm, right into LeChuck's clutches.
Long, metallic tunnels run beneath the islands in the area, and it's here that Guybrush is forced to craftily put together a voodoo doll of LeChuck using whatever he can find. All the while, he is pursued by his nemesis, who takes much pleasure in beating him up.
After being beaten into submission through voodoo, though, LeChuck reveals something devastating to Guybrush - the two are, in fact, brothers. Guybrush doesn't believe it, but is convinced when he finds himself a child again, walking around a carnival with his parents and, yes, his brother Chuckie. Despite coming close to victory, LeChuck manages to trap Guybrush in the Carnival of the Damned - a construction of his own making, designed to create an undead army with a rollercoaster that travels through hell itself.
Elaine, Cursed (The Curse Of Monkey Island)
An indeterminate amount of time after being left to his own devices at the Carnival of the Damned, Guybrush finds himself lost at sea in a bumper car. Close to his certain doom, the car ends up drifting towards Plunder Island. Here, he floats right between Elaine on the coast and LeChuck on his ship, locked in battle as the latter feebly attempts to romance the former. Elaine, presuming her love to be dead, is delighted to see Guybrush in the waters, but LeChuck scoops him up and imprisons him before Elaine can do anything about it.
Luckily, Guybrush has enough wit to escape the ship - he manages to smash a cannon into LeChuck's treasure room and then uses a gigantic diamond ring to break a porthole, letting water in and sinking the ship. Unfortunately, LeChuck was holding a powerful voodoo cannonball at the time, and the result is a catastrophic explosion. LeChuck the zombie pirate becomes LeChuck the demon pirate, a terrifying sight, wreathed in hellfire. Guybrush, on the other hands, floats to safety, still clutching the ring.
Unluckily, Guybrush quickly uses this ring to propose to Elaine on the beach of Plunder Island. While she accepts the ring, she also accepts the curse that goes along with it, becoming a gold statue.
Of course, this gives Guybrush a new quest - uncurse Elaine. He finds some direction very quickly - the Voodoo Lady has moved to Plunder Island's swamp. She tells Guybrush the only way to break the curse caused by a big diamond ring is to replace it with an uncursed ring of equal size or value.
The troubles mount up when logic kicks in - Plunder Island is a pirate island and Guybrush left a solid-gold statue on the beach. It is, inevitably, stolen.
Asking the Voodoo Lady for advice once more, Guybrush learns that he must travel to Blood Island - this is where he'll find a diamond ring big enough to break the curse. Now all he needs is a crew, a ship, a map, and to find Elaine.
- A trio of ex-pirate barbers ends up becoming Guybrush's crew. He convinces them by either impressing them in various tests of competency or simply by saving their life - after endangering it, of course.
- The only known map to Blood Island is, unfortunately, tattooed to the back of a man named Palido Domingo, found on the hot sands of Plunder Island's exclusive beach club. In one of the grimmest scenes of the entire series, Guybrush gives Palido such bad sunburn on his back that he's able to simply... peel the map off. Ouch.
- Guybrush finds Elaine and a ship at the same time, in Danjer Cove. They were the ones who stole the statue and, through some amusing subterfuge involving ventriloquism and disguise, manages to drive the crew of the Sea Cucumber off the ship and commandeer it for himself.
After having his map stolen, recovering it, and crash landing on Blood Island's shore, Guybrush now has only one thing left to do: find the uncursed ring of equal value to the cursed one. The ring in question belongs to Minnie Goodsoup, who is unfortunately dead and buried by the time the game starts. Guybrush has to fool his way into becoming accepted as a long-lost member of the Goodsoup family and then fake his own death by drinking a spiked hangover remedy, allowing him to wake up in the tomb.
Guybrush's adventures on Blood Island have him playing poker with a very dangerous man, reuniting with the now-vegetarian cannibals of Monkey Island, upsetting a volcano god, and reuniting the ghost of a dead woman with her true love. His reward? A very large, uncursed diamond ring.
Using the ring to uncurse Elaine, the pair have a painful reunion, with a punch begun days previous finally connecting with its target. It's a romantic moment cut short by LeChuck's minions, who kidnap them, because of course he does.
Guybrush, back at the Carnival of the Damned, goes through the confrontation with LeChuck again, faced with the possibility that the pair might be brothers. One thing leads to another, though, and Guybrush is able to combat LeChuck on his own turf, burying him under a gigantic, animatronic yeti that once served as part of the rollercoaster to hell.
Sure that they're finally safe, Guybrush and Elaine marry on the deck of the Sea Cucumber.
Elaine, Dead (Escape From Monkey Island)
The happy couple's honeymoon apparently took a significant amount of time - upon their return to Melee Island, they learn that Elaine has been declared dead and is no longer the Governor of Melee. It takes some doing, including yet another crew recruitment and ship acquisition for Guybrush, but they manage to get her declared alive once more through the power of lawyers.
This involved a trip to Lucre Island, where Guybrush met face to face with Ozzie Mandrill, an Australian business developer who keeps buying up establishments in the Tri-Island area using his mastery of Insult combat. His secret? No one can understand his Australian humor.
Upon his return to Melee, Guybrush and Elaine are met with a man who is the first person to ever go up against Elaine for election - Charles L. Charles. He deftly brings the residents of Melee over to his side with the promise of free grog and reveals in a dramatic moment that he is actually the latest form of LeChuck, now free from the mountain of snow and mechanical parts at the Carnival of the Damned.
The Ultimate Insult
LeChuck wins the election and boots the Marley-Threepwoods out of their home. Their only resort now is to find The Ultimate Insult, a voodoo weapon so powerful that it instantly breaks the ego of any pirate it's used on. They know of the Insult thanks to one of the Marley heirlooms that Guybrush picked up on Lucre Island, and so, another journey begins.
The components of The Ultimate Insult turn out to be a golden trophy won in a diving contest, a silver mug in the shape of a monkey head obtained from a cheesy restaurant, and a bronzed tricorne dug found buried on the small islet of Knuttin Atoll. When combined with the Gubernatorial Symbol of Melee Island, these objects create the Ultimate Insult... which is quickly stolen by LeChuck and Mandrill.
LeChuck maroons Guybrush on Monkey Island, hoping to be done with him. However, with the help of Herman Toothrot, Guybrush manages to construct one more Ultimate Insult, but this time on the grandest scale, using the island's giant monkey head in the process. The result is a gigantic monkey automaton that Guybrush uses to get back to Melee Island and deal with LeChuck and Mandrill.
The Voodoo Pox (Tales Of Monkey Island)
Years pass, and Guybrush and Elaine find themselves in conflict with LeChuck once more - he never stays down, it seems. This time, however, they appeared to have the upper hand - Guybrush created the Cursed Cutlass of Kaflu, a powerful voodoo weapon.
Unfortunately, Guybrush Threepwood is Guybrush Threepwood, and made the cutlass with some substitutions. Upon contact with the undead pirate, a curse was unleashed on the Caribbean: the Voodoo Pox.
Along with unsightly green splotches on the skin, the voodoo pox causes its victims to suffer uncontrollable bouts of anger and rage, eventually infecting them with the unbearable evil that drives LeChuck forwards.
A new quest emerges - the quest to find La Esponja Grande (the big sponge) that has the power to remove any voodoo curse known to man. This takes Guybrush all over the Caribbean once more, finding a new ship, making friends with a navigator called Reginald Van Winslow, and encountering Morgan LeFlay, a pirate hunter. On Flotsam Island, Guybrush also encounters the Marquis DeSings, a French-accented fop with a thing for science and hatred for piracy.
Along the way, they meet up with LeChuck again, apparently returned to life and expunged of his evil - apparently, it dissipated into the cursed pox afflicting the Caribbean.
The trio of Guybrush, Morgan, and Reginald make a decent amount of headway in their quest, despite being swallowed by a giant manatee and being troubled by an explorer called Coronado De Cava. They find La Esponja Grande at the bottom of the ocean and return to Flotsam Island, where their journey began. Morgan has secret plans, though - she betrays Guybrush, and our hero is thrown into jail on Flotsam Island, implicated in the creation of the pox.
Surprisingly, LeChuck steps in and takes the blame himself, and also implicates the Voodoo Lady and implies that she's the mastermind behind the rivalry that drives Guybrush and LeChuck into each other's paths so often. The pair are jailed instead of Guybrush, who sets off to provide La Esponja Grande a 'feast for the senses' - this will empower the sponge, enabling it to cleanse the islands of the pox.
Along the way, he finds Morgan dying in DeSinge's lab, apparently attacked by DeSinge. This makes Guybrush's eventual showdown with the Marquis all the more emotional, and the confrontation ends with DeSinge's death and Guybrush being able to finally use La Esponja Grande the cleanse the Caribbean of the pox, absorbing it all.
Unfortunately, this makes it a perfectly potent tool for LeChuck, who (surprise) hadn't actually turned over a new leaf. He promptly arrives on the scene and quickly shows his true colors, stabbing Guybrush with the very voodoo cutlass that started this mess, and absorbing the immense voodoo power contained within La Esponja Grande. Slowly, Guybrush dies.
Being dead doesn't stop Guybrush from pursuing a quest, oh no. He wakes up at the Crossroads, a sort of purgatory in the Monkey Island universe. There, he meets Morgan LeFlay once again, and the pair reconnect. Morgan laments her actions and figures that her life was a waste. Guybrush is able to convince her otherwise, and the two formulate a plan to get Guybrush back to the land of the living.
After gathering the components of a powerful spell, Guybrush is able to open a portal back to life, and is shocked to find that not only is LeChuck in possession of his body, but Elaine has agreed to become his demonic wife in unholy matrimony.
Devastated and confused, Guybrush still presses on, finding a way to disempower La Esponja Grande and use it to combat LeChuck. The resulting brawl ends when LeChuck is forced halfway into the portal to the Crossroads and is stabbed by both Elaine and Morgan at the same time, seemingly destroying him.
Shortly after, Guybrush finds that he's able to use Elaine's wedding ring as a spell component, bringing himself back to life. Morgan, on the other hand, trades LeChuck's slightest remains to the Voodoo Lady for a chance of resurrection.
Some Years Later... (Return To Monkey Island)
After all these years of adventure and danger, Guybrush has never actually found out what the mystical Secret of Monkey Island is. So when he hears that LeChuck is preparing to make his way back to Monkey Island, somehow resurrected yet again, Guybrush sets out to build a crew, find a ship, and beat his undead enemy to the punch. On Melee Island, he finds himself confronted with three new, younger pirate leaders - the old pirate leaders are opening a fish shop.
The new pirate leaders, headed by the fearsome Captain Madison, refuse to help Guybrush and don't pay him much attention. It's then that Guybrush formulates his plan - he'll piggyback onto LeChuck's expedition in disguise, commandeer his ship, and find the Secret first. The plan goes well at first - he manages to acquire a magical eyepatch that gives him the look of the undead and secures a job aboard LeChuck's ship as a swabbie. He even manages to fit into the crew well, doing favors for them and convincing them to go along with his plans to get to Monkey Island, something they're not overly fussed about (it's LeChuck's thing, not theirs). While on board, he sneakily swaps LeChuck's map to the secret with a different map he'd used earlier.
However, Guybrush accidentally reveals his disguise. LeChuck immediately punts him off the ship, and he is forced to walk to Monkey Island underwater - luckily, he can still hold his breath for a long time.
On Monkey Island, Guybrush follows the map's instructions. They lead him directly into a trap set by the new pirate leaders, ostensibly to capture LeChuck, who turns out to be the key to deciphering the true map to the Secret. The location will only reveal itself in the presence of LeChuck's theme song, catchphrase, and someone who has eaten his favorite food. For this reason, Captain Madison and co. conspired to trap him. Now, however, they're forced to work together with Guybrush, who obtains the three necessary pieces of information.
They carry the ritual out, and the true map reveals that the Secret is located all the way back on Melee Island, inside the Voodoo Lady's shop. Predictably, the pirate leaders betray Guybrush, almost fatally injuring him and dashing off back to Melee. In hot pursuit is LeChuck, who figures things out quickly.
Guybrush, meanwhile, is rescued by Elaine, serendipitously enough. Together, they fix up the shipwreck of the vessel that brought Guybrush to Monkey Island all the way back when he was still a wannabe pirate. They name it the Sea Monkey II and use it to sail back to Melee. Guybrush dashes to the Voodoo Lady's shop to find the Secret, which is revealed to be in a very large safe. What ensues, of course, is a mad dash around the Tri-Island area to find five golden keys to open the safe, which sees Guybrush springing Stan from a forced labor camp, becoming the queen of the frozen Brrr Muda Island, and meeting up with Herman Toothrot in the depths of a dank cave.
With the five keys finally acquired, Guybrush finds nothing in the safe but a locked chest to which he does not have the key. Before he can attempt to solve this predicament, LeChuck and Captain Madison burst in, having teamed up in a shaky truce that obviously does not last much longer. Following this, both parties - the evil partnership and the Marley-Threepwoods - hightail it to Monkey Island, the only place the box can be opened and the Secret revealed.
Deep beneath the giant monkey head once more, Guybrush pursues LeChuck and Madison deeper into the lava-filled cave systems until he comes upon a door. What actually happens when Guybrush walks through it is unknown. What we as players see is a theme park version of Melee Island, complete with popcorn and animatronics, but this is a story that Guybrush is telling his child. We don't know what happened behind the door for certain - whether it's actually a theme park, whether Guybrush has ended up at the Carnival of the Damned yet again, or whether the confrontation with LeChuck and Captain Madison was too violent a story to tell a small child.
We may never know, but this might not be the end of the story.