- This article deals with the treasure of Big Whoop. For the amusement park of the same name, see The Carnival of the Damned.
Big Whoop is a major plot point throughout the mythology of the Monkey Island series and serves as an integral portion of LeChuck's origins and explains where his life as an undead entity officially commenced. Spread by rumor and word of mouth, it is supposedly the largest, most powerful treasure in the Seven Seas and is even rumored to contain the gateway to another world, though the exact nature and contents of such a world are initially unknown to most. However, it is eventually revealed by LeChuck to be the source of his demonic powers as it serves as a dimensional nexus to an infernal demon netherworld that is derived from its original position of Hell itself, binding the physical realm with the manifestation of evil itself; thus the rumored gateway to another world is, in actuality, Hell itself.
Passage through the portal results in the individual forming a covenant with the infernal powers of Big Whoop and being granted eternal life as an undead entity, therefore killing the individual in the process, though one whose soul is doomed to eternal damnation in the event his or her new form is destroyed. Therefore, as it names implies, the true riches of Big Whoop are worth nothing of true value to pirates who value wealth and can not only be an extreme disappointment, but a hellish nightmare for any pirate. In LeChuck's mind, however, who has an insatiable lust for voodoo and power, harnessing Big Whoop is a useful, if dangerous, prize to aid in his plans to conquer the seas, as well as death itself.
However, since Big Whoop kills the individual who passes through its gates and grants him or her unique powers as an undead entity, the person will be sent to the dimensional void of the Crossroads, the world of magic where all the voodoo energy in the world is derived from and serves as a limbo for those who just died before moving onto their appropriate place in the afterlife, like any other person who perishes. If the individual were to truly reap the full benefits of Big Whoop, that person would need to contrive a method of escape from the Crossroads and back into the world of the living to ultimately come back as an undead entity within the physical realm. This in itself can be seen as another string attached to the true treasure of the Big Whoop, furthering its aura of extreme disappointment for treasure hunters unless they crave power and have a method of returning to the living realm.
The portal to Big Whoop itself is located inside the bowels of the Caverns of Lava within the Giant Monkey Head on Monkey Island, though it was originally believed that the treasure was located within the jungles of Dinky Island. The reality is, however, that Dinky Island is an atoll off the coast of Monkey Island and contains a secrete passageway within its jungles that leads to a series of mysterious tunnels that run beneath the ocean floor, connecting Dinky and Monkey Island together. It was LeChuck who discovered such passageways during his quest to obtain Big Whoop for his own greedy purposes before Elaine's grandfather, Captain Marley, and his own crew located it first. However, when Marley and his crew learned the true nature of Big Whoop just as they witnessed LeChuck pass through its portals, they were horrified at what they saw and immediately fled the island and prepared a series of red herrings and precautions to ensure no one else would find Big Whoop and be subjected to its amoral and demonic energies.
To this end, they cemented and buried a chest containing an E-ticket over the connecting tunnels on Dinky Island to pass as the treasure of Big Whoop and then created a new map that was torn into four pieces, with one piece given to each of the four men. The crew then spread false rumors that the treasure was located on an island called Inky, and other variations of the fabricated name, while they all went on to lead their own separate lives in hopes that Big Whoop would never truly be discovered again. Tragically for all four men, LeChuck was also keen to ensure no one else knew of Big Whoop as he schemed to further use its power in his plans to build up an undead army and brutally orchestrated the deaths of the entire crew, torturing and killing Marley personally himself.
The title itself, Big Whoop, is indicative of a sarcastic phrase used to express disappointment, a fitting title for such a horrifying treasure that was previously built up to be something much more gratifying for most pirates; immense wealth in the form of gold and silver. In the third game, The Curse of Monkey Island, Guybrush translates the true meaning perfectly by describing Big Whoop as "expecting so much more, and felt so let down."
While it was initially unknown to Guybrush Threepwood at the time, the Caverns of Lava he navigates through underneath Monkey Island by entering the Giant Monkey Head are actually derived from the portals of Big Whoop itself. Since his use of the insidious treasure, LeChuck has converted the caverns into a secondary base of operations for his forces and as a hideout to plan his schemes to abduct Elaine Marley. It is important to note that while the caves are altered into a hellish domain due to the energies of Big Whoop, they are not the the exact portal that LeChuck previously used to become an undead entity and simply serve as a staging ground for the notorious treasure's powers. The exact portal to the true core of Big Whoop, Hell itself, is hinted to be hidden within the bowels of the caves, a location that only LeChuck knows, a secret he keeps with him at all times to ensure that only he and he alone knows how to tap into the true energies of Big Whoop. The lava itself in the caves, however, holds some of the horrifying power that transformed LeChuck, though to a much lesser extent, turning any who pass through it into undead skeletons as later demonstrated in the series.
In the second game, Big Whoop is described as a fabulous pirate treasure, located on the relatively unknown island of Dinky Island. While Guybrush Threepwood is initially searching for Big Whoop to simply satisfy his own greed, he later additionally seeks it after Largo LaGrande resurrects LeChuck to escape the villain's wrath once and for all as he is encouraged by the Voodoo Lady to find Big Whoop before LeChuck finds him. To do this he has to collect the four map pieces left back by Captain Marley and his crew (Rum Rogers, Rapp Scallion and Young Lindy).
Meanwhile, LeChuck scours the Caribbean in search of the brightest artists, engineers, and creative people to construct his new slaughterhouse, an insidious park known as The Carnival of the Damned, to be built around the gates of Big Whoop to boaster the ranks of his undead army. After a lengthy period of murder, abduction, and intimidation, LeChuck has thousands of men working endlessly on Monkey and Dinky Island to construct the carnival, with hundreds of men being lost to malaria, wild animals, or were murdered by LeChuck in "construction accidents".
Utilizing the mysterious tunnels that connect Monkey and Dinky Island together, LeChuck converts them as a storage facility to house plundered carnival items and abducts dozens of monkey wildlife from Monkey Island to be ruthlessly trained to serve as a power source for the rides and attractions. The main purpose of the carnival was to lure thousands of sailors to be slaughtered by the energies of Big Whoop, through a roller coaster that passes right through a river of lava, and then reanimated into undead, skeletal warriors for LeChuck's new army of the damned. Ultimately and through a number of events, Guybrush is able to get to Dinky Island after escaping LeChuck's Fortress through a massive explosion and discovers a chest by digging at the great X of Dinky Island.
Hitting concrete, Guybrush blows a hole with dynamite and finds a treasure chest, which he believes is the treasure. However, after swinging across and grabbing the chest, Guybrush's rope eventually snaps after days of helplessly hanging over the pit and, after falling into the underwater tunnel systems miles below, the chest breaks and merely reveals the mysterious E ticket that was initially left as a red herring by Captain Marley and his crew. Guybrush then has no choice but to navigate the tunnels that connect to Monkey Island, now filled with various carnival items plundered throughout the Caribbean by LeChuck, while combating the villain, who has caught up to the bumbling pirate. Using a voodoo doll on LeChuck, Guybrush has LeChuck at his mercy until LeChuck reveals his face as Guybrush's brother and both emerge on Monkey Island in the Carnival of the Damned with Guybrush under the influence of a hex of LeChuck's creation, making him believe to be a child with his parents and brother Chuckie, LeChuck's new disguise thanks to the energies of his unique hex.
The reality is that everyone within the park, including Guybrush's parents, were skeletal warriors in disguise that were previously living individuals that were slaughtered and transformed by the energies of Big Whoop, while LeChuck manipulated Guybush's state of mind to trap him within the park to prevent him from further interfering with his plans for power and Elaine's hand in marriage. The game ends with Guybrush indulging in the fantasy as Chuckie's face becomes distorted with demonic power, implying that Guybrush becomes trapped in both the hex and LeChuck's carnival.
In the third game, Guybrush is initially shown to be adrift at sea on a bumper car as an adult once again, implying that he was able to escape the effects of LeChuck's hex and then escaped his carnival using a bumper car from one of the park's insidious attractions. Towards the end of the game, Guybrush learns from LeChuck that the true nature of Big Whoop is a portal to a demon netherworld and also serves as the name for an amusement park, where he was previously trapped and under the influence of a hex of LeChuck's creation.
LeChuck goes into a lengthy explanation of the fact that the treasure of Big Whoop was actually a gate to Hell and is what turned him into a ghost; in the first game LeChuck was said to have died in a shipwreck, but the story explains that he survived and made it to Dinky Island ahead of Captain Marley and his crew. The villain goes on to explain that, during the events in which Guybrush obtained the four pieces to the map to Big Whoop, he had constructed the theme park to increase his army of the damned by creating a roller-coaster attraction that sends the participants through a river of lava that is energized by Big Whoop's demonic power, transforming them into undead, skeletal warriors for LeChuck's new army.
After Guybrush and Elaine's escape from the carnival, LeChuck is buried under a mountain of snow and ice from an explosion caused by Guybrush and the gates to Big Whoop seal up themselves as they were used to their full potential, ending the threat of Big Whoop once and for all. The carnival itself would be completely destroyed by LeChuck not too long after these events, as it no longer served a purpose without the energies of Big Whoop, after being rescued from the snow pile by Ozzie Mandrill, a new confederate of LeChucks' who join forces to obtain a different voodoo treasure, the Ultimate Insult, to assume complete control over the entire Caribbean.