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“It's moments like this that make adventuring worthwhile...”
Banjo, Banjo-Tooie

Banjo is one of the two eponymous stars of the Banjo-Kazooie series, along with Kazooie, and is a playable character in every game. Banjo is a brown Honey Bear who lives in a house on Spiral Mountain with his friend Kazooie and younger sister Tooty. He is named after the banjo, a musical instrument which he also plays. However, Banjo could possibly be named after former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi's grandchild, Banjo.[2]

Physical traits[edit]

“Is it just me or is your nose square? The fans will hate it, you butt-ugly bear!”
Gruntilda, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

Banjo is a brown, stocky honey bear with blue eyes, a large round nose and a bare chest. He is always shown wearing a pair of yellow shorts with a black belt, a shark tooth necklace and a blue backpack, even while under the spell of a transformation. The Rare logo appears on his backpack, as shown in various artworks.

In Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, Banjo was redesigned to have a more block-shaped appearance, and his fur became animated. His backpack's design was also overhauled, now opening with a zipper across the top, and having stitches. This design was worked on by Ryan Stevenson, alongside Steve Mayles.[3]

In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Banjo was redesigned with a mix of his design from Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie and official artwork. His body is now back to a rounder appearance and his body ratio has been tweaked to make his head slightly smaller. His backpack now has red accents and a bottom flap, per concept and promotional artwork from those games, and is crested with a Rare logo pin. The design was made by the same person who originally designed Banjo in Diddy Kong Racing, Paul Cunningham.[4]


“Leave sssarcasssm to bird, bear not good at it.”
Klungo, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

Banjo, in contrast to Kazooie, is a courteous, heroic bear who enjoys relaxing. He is often polite to the characters he meets and generally likes to help them out, unlike his Breegull partner. While he, most of the time, means well, Banjo sometimes comes off as a bit dimwitted and gullible. Throughout the series, many characters, including his own allies, refer to him as "stupid" and "fat," to which Banjo does not seem to mind due to his patience and manners. Banjo seems to have also picked up some of Kazooie's attitude, as he occasionally uses insults and makes sarcastic remarks (mostly in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts).

Banjo's relationship with Kazooie is tightly-knit, as the two are nearly inseparable, despite him at times feeling exasperated by her attitude and brash remarks towards others. He can sometimes get fairly annoyed by her constant heckling and lets out small bursts of temper against her, such as when he growls angrily and attempts to pull her out of her pack during an idle animation in Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, though he's always quick to forgive her and apologize or shrug it off as an accident. He is constantly either apologizing to others on Kazooie's behalf or scolding her for being insensitive, (most of these times exclaiming: "Kazooie!") such as when Kazooie remarked that Bottles wasn't the favorite character in Banjo-Kazooie after he was killed by Grunty's spell in Banjo-Tooie.


Banjo and Kazooie often perform various moves toghether, such as the Breegull Blaster in Banjo-Tooie

While Banjo often needs the help of Kazooie to perform actions such as jumping or attacking, he has many moves he can use himself when his backpack is empty, such as the Pack Whack, the Snooze Pack and the Sack Pack. Unlike Kazooie, Banjo can climb structures and stairs, and hang onto edges. When paired with her, however, the two have a much wider variety of moves at their disposal, such as the Breegull Blaster and the Rat-a-tat Rap.

In Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, Banjo and Kazooie have forgotten many of the moves they had learned in previous games and considerably gained weight due to not having any adventures for eight years. While the Lord of Games puts them in shape, he does not give the duo their moves back and instead forces them to use vehicles instead, gifting Mumbo's Wrench to Kazooie.

In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Banjo is sporting a wealth of moves he and Kazooie had learned from the Mole family, including an upside down Bill Drill to attack opponents from below. Banjo has also learned new moves not recognizable against previously learned from Banjo-Kazooie or Banjo-Tooie. These include the ability to grab a hold of enemies with his claws, a forward haymaker punch, a grounded body slam which attacks from both sides, a high-rise kick (which requires a bit of assistance from Kazooie), and the ability how to roll and dodge in the air, and guard against attacks. They utilize The Mighty Jinjonator as their Final Smash, which barrages the opponents with Jinjos and finally crashing into the Jinjonator to send them flying.


Diddy Kong Racing[edit]

Diddy Kong Racing artwork

Banjo's official debut was as one of the playable characters in Diddy Kong Racing. He was among the characters who responded to Timber's call for help in banishing Wizpig out from Timber's Island. Banjo competes in races and world challenges to decide who can ultimately compete against Wizpig. Banjo is in the heavyweight class and has slow acceleration, but compensates it with a high top speed. He also has average handling capabilities. Banjo's top speed without bananas is 57mph.

Banjo's theme instrument is the banjo, which is also his theme instrument in his own series. Banjo and Conker did not return in Diddy Kong Racing DS as a result of Microsoft's 2002 acquisition of Rare, although the remake's main theme still features his theme instrument, the banjo. Statistically, Banjo was replaced with Tiny Kong.


Banjo-Kazooie artwork

Banjo's first debut as the protagonist of the main series was in the Nintendo 64 title Banjo-Kazooie. Jealous of Banjo's younger sister, Tooty's good looks, Gruntilda steals her away, wishing to steal her beauty for herself. Banjo and Kazooie immediately head out to rescue her, but before heading out to save her, the duo stumble upon their long-time friend, Bottles, whose role is teaching abilities to the duo throughout the game. After learning a few moves in Spiral Mountain, the duo cross over a drawbridge to enter into Gruntilda's Lair, where most of the game takes place, leading into the nine levels hosted within.

Along their journey, aside from learning more moves from Bottles, the duo meet a shaman named Mumbo Jumbo, whose role is transforming Banjo into another object or creature in exchange for Mumbo Tokens. The main collectibles are Jiggys, which are required for Banjo and Kazooie to unlock later levels. They must also free five Jinjos in each level, and collect Musical Notes to access paths in Gruntilda's Lair that were previously blocked off by Note Doors.

Banjo and Kazooie slowly travel up higher into Gruntilda's Lair as they unlock new levels. After finishing all nine levels, Banjo and Kazooie engage in a final battle against Gruntilda from the tower. With the help of The Mighty Jinjonator, Gruntilda collapses from the tower, crashes into the ground, and becomes trapped beneath a large boulder.

As shown in the game intro, Banjo is capable of playing the banjo instrument.

Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge[edit]

Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge takes place two months after the events of the original game, Banjo-Kazooie. Banjo and Kazooie are setting up a barbeque, but meanwhile, after unsuccessful attempts to free Gruntilda, Klungo designs a new mechanical suit, Mecha-Grunty, transporting Gruntilda's spirit into it. Mumbo Jumbo catches wind of this plan by hiding behind a bush nearby, and immediately tells Banjo - but right before he's able to react, Mecha-Grunty kidnaps Kazooie and travels back in time, in an attempt to prevent Banjo and Kazooie from ever meeting. Mumbo Jumbo then uses his magical power to send Banjo to the same point where Gruntilda traveled, to save his friend Kazooie. Banjo would relearn his moves from Bottles' ancestor, Bozzeye, since he forgot them while traveling to the past, and travels by himself for the first world of the game.

In the second world, Breegull Beach, Banjo found Kazooie imprisoned by Mecha-Grunty. After defeating her, Banjo reunites with Kazooie, and they work together to prevent Gruntilda's scheme. The duo eventually enter Grunty's Castle, where they fight Mecha-Grunty for a last time. Collaboratively, Banjo and Kazooie destroy Mecha-Grunty's suit, causing her spirit to return back into her normal body, under the large boulder.


Two years later, in Banjo-Tooie, Gruntilda is freed from under her boulder by her sisters, Blobbelda and Mingella. Meanwhile, Banjo and his friends are playing poker. Mumbo finds out about the witches and tries warns the others to escape from Banjo's House. Gruntilda, after noticing Mumbo, starts to chase him and fires a powerful spell, destroying Banjo's House and killing Bottles.

Because Gruntilda is skeletal due to the amount of time she spent trapped under the boulder, she and her sisters use their newly-invented Big-O-Blaster to suck the life force out of the residents of the various worlds in the Isle O' Hags to restore Gruntilda to her former appearance. Banjo and Kazooie head on another adventure to stop Gruntilda. Since Bottles died, Banjo and Kazooie learn new abilities from Bottles' brother, Jamjars. They can enter new worlds by returning Jiggies to Jiggywiggy's Temple. Banjo and Kazooie also make use of the Split-Up Pads, which allow them to explore areas by themselves.

Before engaging in a final battle against Grunty, Banjo and Kazooie use the Big-O-Blaster to revive King Jingaling and Bottles. Eventually, the duo defeat Gruntilda and destroy the Hag 1 in battle. The ending shows Banjo and Kazooie celebrating at Bottles' House with the other characters.


Banjo-Pilot artwork

Banjo appears as the titular character of the racing spin-off title, Banjo-Pilot. He has arguably the most average stats in the game, aside from possibly Mumbo Jumbo. Banjo is the champion of Beehive Cup, where the player competes against him at the end, in the dogfight match "Banjo Brawl." Like the other characters, when Banjo is flying in front in a dogfight match, he drops behind a unique object that functions similarly to Ice Eggs. In his case, he leaves behind washing machines, which are each hanging from parachutes. Banjo's Top Speed is 3/5, his Acceleration is 3/5, and his Handling is 2/5.

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts[edit]

Banjo and Kazooie, as they appear in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

In the eight years leading up to Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, Banjo and Kazooie become obese, as they spend most of their days eating pizza, playing games, and sleeping. Eventually, they get in a feud with Grunty over who claims ownership over Spiral Mountain, in which L.O.G. starts a competition over. Unlike his previous adventures, Banjo would utilize vehicles for most of his adventure, instead of using the abilities he forgot over time. Banjo eventually wins the challenge and gains access to the deeds to Spiral Mountain.

Non-canonical appearances[edit]

Artwork of Banjo's Diddy Kong Racing appearance was featured in Mario Artist: Paint Studio, as well as two images of Banjo and Kazooie together.

Banjo appeared in the N-Gang comic "N-Gang vs. Nintendo," where he played on the same soccer camp team with Banjo, Wario, Yoshi, Peach, Donkey Kong, and Lanky Kong. Mario refereed the match. Kazooie remained in Banjo's backpack for the entire match.

In Conker's Bad Fur Day and its remake, Conker: Live & Reloaded, a mounted head of Banjo appears over the fireplace in The Cock and Plucker.

In Grabbed by the Ghoulies, a monstrous version of Banjo's head appears in the Trophy Room of Ghoulhaven Hall.

In Minecraft, a skin based on Banjo was added alongside 44 other skins in the Skin Pack 1 DLC released on July 16, 2012 for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One for $2.99 USD.

In Viva Piñata and Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise, there are multiple references to Banjo. An accessory called the "Breegull Carrier" is modeled after Banjo's backpack and also references Kazooie's species, the Breegull. In both games and Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise, a statue of Banjo and Kazooie holding a Jiggy called the "Bird and Bear Statue" can also be placed at the garden. In the sequel specifically, the Shark Tooth Necklace accessory also appears, referencing Banjo's own necklace, and Banjo's head appears in a mountain on the background alongside Kazooie's.

In Killer Instinct, Banjo's yellow shorts are featured in the "Rarewear" costume for Rash.

In Kinect Sports Rivals, cards featuring Banjo sometimes appear on the teleprompter.

In #IDARB, Banjo and Kazooie appear as playable characters. They are available in the "Rare Ltd." pack.

Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing with Banjo-Kazooie[edit]

Both Banjo and Kazooie appear as playable racers in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing with Banjo-Kazooie, making it their second appearance in a crossover game, after Diddy Kong Racing.

Banjo and Kazooie race together in a vehicle named the Bolt Bucket, which is based on the vehicles in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. They have an All-Star Move named "Jiggy Rain," where Kazooie pokes her head out of Banjo's backpack, pecks on Banjo, and utilizes Mumbo's Wrench to rain Jiggies down from the sky.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate[edit]

In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Banjo and Kazooie were released as the third DLC character for Fighters Pass, and the fourth DLC character overall. This is the first game since Banjo-Pilot where Banjo and Kazooie appear on a Nintendo system.

Unused appearances[edit]

Donkey Kong 64[edit]

An early screenshot of Donkey Kong 64 revealed that Banjo and Kazooie's heads would appear on a shower stall in Donkey Kong's Treehouse.

Dream: Land of Giants[edit]

Banjo was originally planned as a supporting character in the cancelled Super Nintendo Entertainment System game, Dream: Land of Giants. Shortly shifting development to the Nintendo 64, the developers felt the main character, Edson, was "losing his edge." One of their considerations for a main character was a rabbit, but they eventually decided on Banjo. Early sketches showed Banjo with a sword and another in a sleeveless shirt.

Diddy Kong Racing Adventure[edit]

Banjo, along with Mumbo Jumbo and Tiptup, were considered playable for Diddy Kong Racing Adventure, a rejected pitch made by Climax Group for the Nintendo GameCube.[5]

Statistics and flavor text[edit]

Diddy Kong Racing[edit]

  • Manual profile: "(Low acceleration, heavy weight, good handling, high top speed) Even before the start of his future partnership with Kazooie, Banjo isn't one to turn down the chance of an adventure. So when Squawks brings the message from his pal Diddy Kong, the Honey Bear stuffs a few things into his trusty backpack and takes to his heels."
  • Official Nintendo Player's Guide profile: "When Squawks brought Diddy's call for help, Banjo didn't hestitate 'n dash; he strapped on his trusty backpack and hit the road immediately. He has also agreed to take on a totally different adventure with his partner, Kazooie, so this busy bear will have a lot to keep him occupied for some time to come."
  • Weight: Heavy
  • Acceleration: 2/5
  • Turning: 2/5
  • Speed: 3.5/5
  • Color: Turquoise


  • Manual profile: "A Honey Bear with a love of sleeping, swimming and even dancing when the mood takes him, Banjo has found life to be just too interesting for it's own good since he found himself 'adopted' by Kazooie. His Breegull friend just seems to attract trouble like a magnet..."


  • Manual profile: "As quiet and polite as Kazooie is loud and rude, Banjo the Honey Bear prefers the quiet life to the thrill of adventure sought by his Breegull partner. Still, this old bear will have to learn new tricks once Kazooie leaves his backpack and goes it alone..."

Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge[edit]

  • Manual profile: "With his best friend Kazooie captured and arch-enemy Gruntilda planning to write him out of history, Banjo is landed with the task of saving the Isle of Hags from an uncertain future."


  • Top Speed: 3/5
  • Acceleration: 3/5
  • Handling: 2/5
  • Manual profile: "Our cautious hero may be getting used to the fast-paced adventuring life, but has he let his racing skills get rusty?"

Viva Piñata[edit]

  • Breegull Carrier description: "Perfect for transporting lazy Breegulls about the place, if you're daft enough in the first place to agree to it."
  • Bird and Bear Statue description: "This statue comes with a warranty - 'Guaranteed to keep witches at bay'. That isn't much of a promise, when was the last time you saw a witch? Oh, I see, that means it's already working."

Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise[edit]

  • Breegull Carrier description: "Perfect for transporting lazy Breegulls about the place, if you're daft enough in the first place to agree to it."
  • Bird and Bear Statue description: "This statue comes with a warranty - 'Guaranteed to keep witches at bay'. That isn't much of a promise, when was the last time you saw a witch? Oh, I see, that means it's already working."
  • Shark Tooth Necklace description: "A Fizzlybear once found one of these washed up on the shore of nearby Treasure Trove Cove. He told his friends he wrestled it from the jaw of a Snacker himself."

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts[edit]

  • Manual profile: "Banjo is a heroic honey bear, at least he was when he was in top shape. Kind of a sore subject, really. Banjo believes strongly in the time-honored maxim "Walk softly and carry a large bird stuffed into a backpack.""

Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing with Banjo-Kazooie[edit]

  • Manual profile (shared with Kazooie): "Banjo, the heroic Honey Bear, and Kazooie, the wisecracking red Breegull will race on their weird and wonderful wheels. Can the duo outperform Sonic and friends for the checkered flag?"
  • In-game profile (shared with Kazooie):
    • Species: Honey Bear
    • 1st appearance: Diddy Kong Racing (1997)
    • Likes: Kazooie
    • Skills: Plays the banjo
    • Vehicle: Bolt Bucket
    • All-Star Move: Jiggy Rain
    • Description: "Banjo and Kazooie are an adventurous bear and bird duo, always on hand to thwart the schemes of their nemesis, the rhyming hag Gruntilda.

Banjo himself is a big, amiable Honey Bear, polite and well-mannered—in stark contrast to the Red-Crested Breegull Kazooie who lives in his backpack. Loud, sarcastic and rude, Kazooie's inability to keep her beak shut often lands the pair in trouble...

Together they race in the Bolt Bucket, a quirky vehicle custom-built by their longstanding ally (and a real wizard in the garage) Mumbo Jumbo."

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate[edit]

  • Spirit (shared with Kazooie):
Name Image Series / game Type Class Strength / effect(s) How to obtain Spirit battle
Opponent(s) Battle conditions Stage Song
Banjo & Kazooie SSBU Banjo Kazooie Spirit.png Banjo-Kazooie Series Fighter N/A N/A Classic Mode as Banjo & Kazooie N/A N/A N/A N/A
  • Website profile (shared with Kazooie): "The missing piece of the puzzle is found as Banjo & Kazooie join Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as a playable fighter! With Banjo’s bare hands to bruise rivals up close and Kazooie’s egg-cellent shooting skills, your rivals will be singing the blues in no time. For their Final Smash, these perfect partners call upon a flock of Jinjos and the Mighty Jinjonator to deal the final blow to any “feeble jerk” that may stand in their way!"
  • amiibo (shared with Kazooie): "The stars of the classic Banjo-Kazooie series, this bear and bird duo enjoyed great critical acclaim on their quests to stop the evil witch Gruntilda, while earning the support of a generation of gamers."


For this subject's image gallery, see Gallery:Banjo.

Names in other languages[edit]

Language Name Meaning
Chinese 阿邦
Dutch Banjo -
French Banjo -
German Banjo -
Italian Banjo -
Japanese バンジョー
Korean 반조
Russian Банджо
Spanish Banjo -


  • When asked about his shorts, Banjo stated that they "are a family heirloom" and that he needs "to patch them up every so often when bits start to fall off," and as a consequence of this, "there’s not much of the original material left." [6]
  • Banjo stated he developed "a bit of a washing phobia" after being transformed into a washing machine in Banjo-Tooie.[6]