Ender gets a monitor for several years before he is accepted to Battle School. I don't recall anyone else in Battle School that it's mentioned that had a monitor before they got accepted.

  1. Are any other monitors mentioned in canon?
  2. Why doesn't everyone get monitors?

Edit: I was specifically wondering about Bean, Achilles, and Zeck, whom it doesn't mention monitors by.

  • When Ender's monitor was being removed, one of the doctors or nurses specifically mentions it being a bad idea that his was left in for so long. There is likely a negative effect of leaving it implanted for longer than the year or two that was normal, such as the body adapting to it well enough that it is deadly to remove it. Apr 22, 2017 at 2:21

2 Answers 2


OK, there are 3 separate questions here:

  1. Why didn't Bean, Achilles and Zeck have one?

    Need to look up details on Zeck, but BOTH Bean and Achilles were discovered very late in the game (close to 3rd invasion), when they didn't have time to use the monitor to see if they fit or not psychologically - they were taken on the strength of their test results and other data about them, and rushed through.

    Was that a mistake? Well Duh, they ended up taking in Achilles. Disregarding "human monitor", Sister Charlotta's data too (which to me strongly proves my previous paragraph).

  2. Why didn't the kids in Battle School wear the monitor in school, in general?

    First, there was no purpose. They (monitors) ALREADY served their main purpose, by allowing the teachers to filter the kids suited to Battle School

    Second, they didn't need them anyway. They had nearly ubiquitous monitoring, both SigInt and from teachers. They had the Mind Game, more importantly.

  3. Why didn't the kids in Battle School wear the monitor in school, for those kids who didn't have the monitor when they were kids (e.g. Bean etc...)?

    I don't know of a canon answer that would be different from the second part of my answer to #2. That was exactly why Graff was so worried that Bean didn't play the Mind Game.

As a second alternative, it's possible that @Sebastian_H's guess is correct and only those identified as possible high level leaders get to wear the monitor. I don't think this is the case, since they could't know in advance who would be a high level leader (we know that Hot Soup/Han Tzu had the monitor, from one of the IGM short stories; so did Bonzo Madrid from another. We don't have childhood details on almost any other character aside from those 2 and the 3 Wiggins, from Ender's generation. But everyone who was described aside from the 2 Amsterdamers discovered too late, DID wear one).

  • It's true that they couldn't know beforehand who would make a good leader. The Wiggin sibling where expressively chosen because of their strong genes however. They were all geniuses and stood at the end of a long process of finding gifted children. They way Graff tells it to Ender, they where others like him. As the candidates come from all around the world, there bust have been a lot more children with strong genetic potential. It's possible that those where watched primarily with a Monitor, while some late bloomers might have skipped the screening process, just like you say. Dec 10, 2013 at 8:28
  • I don't want to spoil the Shadow saga in a comment, but the circumstances of Bean's birth pretty strongly precluded fitting a monitor. And Achilles was a street child, so he may have either been born on the street or been abandoned there before he got one fitted. Also, I seem to remember something about Rotterdam being in a non-compliant state (eg. not following the population control laws, hence all the street children) so perhaps children weren't given monitors at all there. Apr 20, 2017 at 13:05

At least Peter and Valentine had a Monitor too, though not as long as Ender had his. As Graff tells Ender that there were or are others like him, it's plausible that these had Monitors too, before joining the Battle School.

The Monitor is described as a tool for screening candidates for Battle School. The way the doctor at the beginning of Ender's Game talks about it, Monitors seem to be common enough. At least he knows exactly how to take it out which indicates he did it at least a few times in the past.
The screening is most likely a pretty resource intensive process as well, because the candidates are watched 24/7 and evaluated all the time (or at least they make it sound like this). It's also possible they only watch those who are supposed to be the very best, like Ender, because of this.

As too why the Monitor is never mentioned again in Battle School, one out of universe answer might be, that it was simply a tool for the writer that served it's purpose on the initial pages and was of no use afterwards.

But there are also some possible in-universe answers.
For one, the doctor tells Ender that he will still feel the Monitor for a while, although it's gone. A phantom feeling that will go away in time. It's possible that all the kids simply no longer remember or care about their monitor. They are quite young after all and forget such things much faster then an adult would

If everyone in Battle School was indeed screened with a Monitor before they were accepted, it might also be such a common thing that they don't consider it something worth talking about.

  • Specifically in the shadow series it's not mentioned that Bean had it, nor Zeck in War of Gifts
    – ike
    Dec 9, 2013 at 20:04
  • Besides, Peter and Valentine weren't Battle School students.
    – ike
    Dec 9, 2013 at 20:05
  • 2
    @ike No, but they were candidates for the school just like Ender was when he had his Monitor. Only they were deemed not fit to take the place Ender later took. That is why their Monitors were taken before they were six and they were left to live a normal life. As I said, it's possible only the best of the best, that is, those that had the potential to lead the fleet during the Third Invasion, were given a Monitor to evaluate them. And those were maybe and handfull or two over the years. Most students, even the better ones, were far away from that. Dec 9, 2013 at 20:52
  • So you're saying that maybe only the top candidates had monitors. Can you get a canon source for that?
    – ike
    Dec 9, 2013 at 20:56
  • Top KNOWN candidates. Bean/Achilles would be top candidates, but due to low status weren't known.
    – WernerCD
    Dec 9, 2013 at 23:07

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