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Is Donkey Kong Related To King Kong?

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Have you ever heard about Donkey Kong and wondered if he was related to King Kong? Maybe you just finished watching King Kong and for a moment you reminisced back to playing Donkey Kong as a child. Well, in this article we will go over everything you need to know about Donkey Kong and if he is related to King Kong or not. 

So is Donkey Kong related to King Kong?

Although some people think that Donkey Kong is the animated version of King Kong, that is not correct. Donkey Kong and King Kong have similar names, but they are not actually related in any way. 

If you want to know more about Donkey Kong and King Kong, you will want to keep reading this article. You can also watch this video to learn about the entire lawsuit that surrounded Donkey Kong and King Kong. 

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Did Donkey Kong or King Kong come first?

King Kong gained popularity twice in 1900, and a third time in 2005 when Universal Studios released its game version. Prior to the game release, the King Kong character had twice appeared in movies. The movies made as much money as the game. Designed by Michel Ancel, the game went on to sell amazingly well.

Donkey Kong is a similar character that came out solely as a game character shortly after the release of the second King Kong movie. It did release long before the release of the King Kong game though. Game developer Shigeru Miyamoto created the Donkey Kong character for Nintendo games in 1981. The Kong Kong game instantly became a bestseller and sold out extremely fast. Because the names are similar as well as the characters are both gorillas, there was a giant lawsuit that happened. 

The Universal Studios and Nintendo lawsuit

Universal Studios actually ended up filing a lawsuit against Nintendo in the 1980. The basis for the lawsuit was that Nintendo had copied its King Kong character from its movies and had decided to name it Donkey Kong. The lawsuit affected not only Nintendo but also allied tech companies.

Nintendo was a new company when this lawsuit happened. The lawsuit threatened their license and the growth of the company. The case was heard in the United State where Universal Studios alleged that both the game character and storyline infringes on King Kong’s copyright. Nintendo considered settling outside of court for the amount of 7 million dollars, but decided to fight the Universal Studios instead. 

After a long discussion and both sides showing all of the facts and why they were and were not related, the court came to a decision. The court ruled in the favor of Nintendo giving them the right to not only keep the profits made, but to also keep producing the game. The court made it clear that the Nintendo company did not infringe on copyrights of Universal Studios’ King Kong as it was in the public domain.

The lawsuit was clear evidence that King Kong and Donkey Kong are two different characters from two different creators. King Kong is a Universal Studios character while Donkey Kong is a Nintendo wholly game character.

When did Donkey Kong release?

Nintendo’s Donkey Kong which translates to “stupid donkey” was created in 1981. The series continued all the way until the 2000’s. The first released game was Donkey Kong.  Later Donkey Kong land, Donkey Kong Jr with the 2015 release of tipping stars Donkey Kong versus Mario. The Donkey Kong series has sold over 48 games and remains one of the best sellers in the game world. Donkey Kong has been a huge success for Nintendo to date.

Universal’s King Kong game was released over 24 years later after Donkey Kong was in the market. The game was created and made available after the 2005 King Kong movie. The game was created by Ubisoft collaboration with the movie director and Universal Studios. The King Kong game was made available for many gaming devices and platforms.

The release date clears shows that both games and the characters are different and not related. While Donkey Kong was released in the 1980s, the King Kong game was released in 2005 by a totally different game developer.

King Kong game

The King Kong storyline is an exact copy of the movie it was based on. The game allows users to either play as Jack or King Kong himself. The main goal is to save Ann and avoid animals on the island while doing so. The use of weapons when using both characters is embedded. Guns, punches, grabbing and throwing of heavy objects to fight animals on the island are all features of the King Kong game. It is basically an adventure game.

Donkey Kong game

Donkey Kong has quite a different storyline from most modern games. The storyline was such that in its first release, Donkey Kong was the enemy and opponent while the later versions had a different storyline. An example is the 1982 version where the Donkey Kong game was renamed Donkey Kong Jr. You then had to use Donkey Kong Jr. to save  his father from a cage where he was held. He has to do so by avoiding a lot of obstacles on the way until he reaches the cage. Additional characters came along as newer versions of the story were created. Today there is an entire family of Kongs that all work together to keep the Jungle safe. 

Why do people think Donkey Kong and King Kong are related?

There are many gamers and fans alike that still believe that King Kong and Donkey Kong are related. They think this simply because the last name is Kong. The problem is that Kong literally just means a giant gorilla. Some gamers even go as far to say that King Kong is related to Donkey Kong’s grandfather Cranky Kong. 

No matter what people say though, the court ruling between Nintendo’s Donkey Kong and Universal Studios’ King Kong clears states that both characters are not related.


Now that you know about the lawsuit and other facts that we have gone over above, it is safe to say that Donkey Kong is entirely different from the King Kong character and both are not related. People who claim that they are related would mean that Nintendo would be guilty of the lawsuit filed against them over 40 years ago. The game’s storyline is also different and the same applies to the characters in each game. The release date of each game is also quite different making the games clearly not connected. Because there are many Donkey Kong games available today, you can clearly see that the two characters are not related at all. You can even see all of Donkey Kong’s family through the different Donkey Kong games. 

No matter if you believe that Donkey Kong and King Kong are related despite the court ruling, you will want to be sure to not spread false information. No matter if they are related or not, there is no denying that both the Donkey Kong game series and the King Kong game are both extremely fun to play.