->''Vintery, mintery, cutery, corn,\\
Apple seed and apple thorn,\\
Wire, briar, limber lock\\
Three geese in a flock\\
One flew East\\
One flew West\\
And one flew over the cuckoo's nest''
-->-- '''IronicNurseryTune'''

'''''One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest''''' by Creator/KenKesey takes place in the early 1960s in an insane asylum run by Miss Ratched, the Big Nurse, who rules over the patients with an iron fist... and her machines of course, according to Chief Bromden, the narrator of this psychological novel.

She has so much power over them that no one dares to stand up to her, until one day when Randle Patrick [=McMurphy=] swaggers into the ward, and things are never the same again as he takes everything the Big Nurse stands for and destroys it right before everyone's eyes.

Was adapted into a critically-acclaimed 1975 movie co-produced by Creator/MichaelDouglas, directed by Miloš Forman, and starring Creator/JackNicholson as [=McMurphy=]. It became only the second movie to sweep the major [[UsefulNotes/AcademyAward Academy Awards]]--Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay--and remains one of only three, along with ''Film/ItHappenedOneNight'' and ''Literature/TheSilenceOfTheLambs''.
!!Provides examples of:

* AdaptationalAttractiveness:
** Inverted. Harding was described as looking like a film star in the book. In the film, he looks like an average man - perhaps even slightly unattractive. This may have to do with his homosexuality being toned down a lot in the movie as he was a stereotypical pretty boy in the book.
** In the book, Nurse Ratched is frequently mentioned to be overweight (the cause of her large ladybags). Louise Fletcher... isn't. She is also described, in the book, as a handsome woman who was probably quite beautiful when she was in her prime.
* AdaptationDistillation: The movie cut out a lot of stuff. Still very good.
* AdaptationalHeroism: Relatively speaking, the Nurse Ratched presented in the film is a lot less sociopathic than the one in the book. While she retains the domineering and tyrannical behavior, she seems a lot less violent than her book self. Book!Nurse Ratched is introduced as already having lobotomized and submitted to brutal shock therapy several patients before the story even begins, and has cowed every her co-workers into submission. In the film no such facts are alluded to.
* AdaptationalWimp: In the book Harding, while pompous and perhaps overly verbose, was still quite clever and insightful, coming up with excellent ideas and giving some very cutting lectures about the situation of the hospital and Mcmurphy. In the film he's more of a straight-forward ButtMonkey.
* AesopAmnesia / StatusQuoIsGod: TearJerker example. [=McMurphy=] challenges Nurse Ratched's authority and unfair rules at every turn and becomes something of a hero to the sheepish patients, leading them to explore and regain their own lost individuality...at least until [[spoiler:[=McMurphy=] attacks Ratched in order to avenge her driving Billy to suicide and is moved to another part of the hospital and lobotomized. The Chief clearly doesn't forget what [=McMurphy=] taught him, but all the other patients seem to, and when the film ends, they're all back to behaving as they did before [=McMurphy=] arrived. This doesn't happen in the book.]]
* AffectionateParody: For the longest time, ''TheSimpsons'' was rather fond of parodying this, leading to a rather severe case of PopCultureOsmosis.
* AlliterativeName: Billy Bibbit, Charles Cheswick
* AmbiguousDisorder: Of all the supporting cast that get focus, no one has an explicitly given mental illness that puts them there, putting it all up to speculation. Chief seems to have some form of schizophrenia with his visions of the mists.
* AmbiguouslyGay: Harding at first. It's confirmed when his wife shows up. He admits it, by way of euphemisms, to [=McMurphy=] prior to the story's climax.
* AntiHero: [=McMurphy=] is an UnscrupulousHero. He's racist, sexist, loud, rude, and scams the other patients out of their money regularly. He originally got busted for statutory. But he's the only thing that can get them out of their shells and remind them that they're not a bunch of worthless rabbits. Eventually he genuinely cares about them inspite of himself.
* BattleaxeNurse: Miss Ratched, one of the most famous in literature or film.
* BigBrotherIsWatching: Through her glass window... Appropriately, the Big Nurse's nickname is an allusion to Big Brother. Chief believes that The Combine is the actual Big Brother, while the nurse is just its high-ranking officer.
* BigBraToFill: Nurse Ratched in the book has large breasts, Louise Fletcher doesn't.
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler:[=McMurphy=] wins the fight against Ratched, but at the cost of part of his brain, which ultimately forces Chief Bromden to euthanize him by smothering him with a pillow before finally escaping to his ancient tribal lands.]]
* BlitheSpirit: [=McMurphy=]. He's definitely a flawed guy, but still teaches the patients not to fear Nurse Ratched or her arbitrary rules.
* BoisterousBruiser: [=McMurphy=].
* ButtMonkey: Harding and Mr. Turkle, the night orderly.
* ChekhovsGun: The Hydrotherapy Console.
* ChekhovsSkill: SubvertedTrope. [[spoiler: [=McMurphy=] is shown to fake being a vegetable earlier after the shock treatment, but [[BittersweetEnding regrettably]] wasn't faking it later on.]]
* CureYourGays: Given that Harding doesn't show any signs of mental illness but is more-than-{{ambiguously gay}}, this could very well be why he's in the institution - especially since homosexuality was still considered a mental disorder when the book was written.
* DeadpanSnarker: Harding. He surpasses deadpan so well that it's hard to tell that's what he's doing at first, but after the fishing trip it becomes much more clear.
* DemotedToExtra: Doctor Spivey has a lot fewer scenes in the adaptation, and his whole character arc is removed wholesale. [[spoiler: In the novel he spearheads the reformation of the hospital after Ratched is gone]].
* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler: Poor Billy Bibbit and old Charles Cheswick.]]
* ElectricTorture: In real life, electroshock therapy is mainly painless and quick but with varying results. For a short time after the treatment, the patient may have trouble forming new memories, but the vast majority of patients feel better and are able to use a wider range of treatments. In the past the shock could damage the body through the reaction to the shock, but modern electroconvulsive therapy is done with a muscle relaxant and a short-acting anesthetic, making it mostly painless. In this book, however, it's... well, ElectricTorture, and that portrayal had a worrying amount of impact on medicine. Doctors were shamed out of using EST for decades after the release of Cuckoo's Nest, despite its generally positive results.
* TheFilmOfTheBook: Made in 1975. Kesey didn't like it (mainly due to the massive changes), but it was critically acclaimed and became one of only three films to win all of the "Big Five" Oscars (best picture, screenplay, director, actor, and actress). Kesey's reaction was no doubt also fueled by the fact that he received no money for it.
* FirstPersonPeripheralNarrator: Chief Bromden acts as the narrator for the book.
* GagBoobs: Nurse Ratched. The book makes several references to the Big Nurse's "oversized badges of femininity", and [=McMurphy=] kids her about them multiple times, knowing that she resents having such a prominent set of breasts.
* GentleGiant: Bromden measures at a staggering 6 ft, 8in.(203 cm), but is as timid as the other inmates.[[spoiler: [[CharacterDevelopment Until he apparently finishes MacMurphy's "training program".]]]]
* HateSink: Nurse Ratched. According to the DVD extras at one point it got so bad that the actress ''herself'' stripped naked on set to "''prove she wasn't a monster.''"
* TheHeroDies: [[spoiler:[=McMurphy=] himself at the end.]]
* HookerWithAHeartOfGold: Candy and Sandy.
* HospitalHottie: Nurse Pilbow, at least in the film. In the book, the inmates comment that Nurse Ratched would be quite attractive if she weren't so emotionless and intimidating.
* InsanityDefense: That's what got [=McMurphy=] onto the wing in the first place. Deconstructs it a lot, since it becomes clear to [=McMurphy=] at several points that he's ended up in a worse spot.
* {{Irony}}: The ''entire plot'' is a large-scale example of situational irony. [[spoiler:[=McMurphy=] cons his way into being committed because he's too lazy to serve out a light sentence on the work farm for statutory rape. The fact that Murphy knows he doesn't belong there makes him chafe with the staff and ends him up not only labelled ''genuinely'' insane, but also he was ''lobotomized''... and then '''dead'''.]]
* JailBait: Why [=McMurphy=] was incarcerated to begin with.
-->'''[=McMurphy=]''': She was fifteen years old going on thirty-five, Doc, and she told me she was eighteen.
* JaywalkingWillRuinYourLife: [=McMurphy=] got into this whole jail to mental hospital [[spoiler:to lobotomy and ultimately to death]] situation because he committed statutory rape on a fifteen year old girl. At the time of the book's publication (1962) and the time of the film's release (1975) [[JailBait statutory rape of the kind involving an adult and a teenager]] [[ValuesDissonance was considered to be less of an issue than it is considered to be today.]]
* KarmicTrickster: Deconstructed with [=McMurphy=], since he [[spoiler: lacks the usual KarmicProtection]].
* LargeHam: Movie-wise, JackNicholson and ChristopherLloyd, of course.
* LastNameBasis: Compare: The patients all call each other by the last names, while the Big Nurse has them on a first-name basis.
* LeaveTheCameraRunning: Done on [=McMurphy=] for a full minute at the end of the party.
* {{Lobotomy}}:
** The patient who was an angry lunatic before he undergoes the procedure becomes an empty shell after his lobotomy. His eyes are described as being like burnt-out lightbulbs.
** After [=McMurphy=] attacks Ratched, [[spoiler:he is lobotomized and left in a vegetative state. Bromden {{mercy kill}}s him.]]
* MadBomber: Scanlon. We're never told whether or not he has ever acted on his urges, but he is the only Acute patient other than [=McMurphy=] who is committed involuntarily.
* MaliciousMisnaming: Nurse Ratched calls [=McMurphy=] "[=McMurry=]" as a power play. [=McMurphy=] lets her know (without stating it straight out) that he knows it's intentional.
* AManIsNotAVirgin:
** In the novel (though not the film) [=McMurphy=] claims to have lost his at the age of TEN. Though he may be lying to impress the others.
** As for Billy, it's implied, though never outright stated, that he was a virgin [[spoiler: until he slept with Candy.]]
* MercyKill: [[spoiler:After [=McMurphy=] gets a lobotomy, Bromden decides to put him out of his misery by [[VorpalPillow suffocating him with a pillow]].]]
* MessianicArchetype: [=McMurphy=]. Lampshaded when he and 12 other guys all go fishing. In the book, Harding compares the EST victim to Jesus on the cross. [=McMurphy=] is also friends with a prostitute called Mary. Bromden describes [=McMurphy=] as a "giant sent from the sky to save us." Billy Bibbit commits suicide after betraying him.
* MindControlConspiracy: Chief Bromden vs. the Combine.
* MindScrew: Sometimes Bromden will go off on bizarre tangents that can make things very difficult to follow if you aren't paying attention.
* MissingTheGoodStuff: [=McMurphy=] is very unhappy about being prevented by Nurse Ratched from watching the World Series on television. Subverted when he entertains himself and the other inmates by "announcing" an imaginary game while staring at the darkened TV screen.
* MyBelovedSmother: Billy Bibbit is terrified of his mother, though we don't know why as we don't even hear from her or see her.
* MyFriendsAndZoidberg: This excerpt from the fishing trip of the movie adaptation:
--> '''[=McMurphy=]''': This is Dr. Cheswick, Dr. Taber, Dr. Frederickson, Dr. Scanlon, the famous Dr. Scanlon, [[ButtMonkey Mr. Harding]], Dr. Bibbit, Dr. Martini, and Dr. Sefelt...Oh, I'm Dr. [=McMurphy=], R. P. [=McMurphy=].
* ObfuscatingStupidity: [[spoiler:Chief Bromden]].
* OrderVersusChaos: With chaos portrayed as good.
* PerspectiveFlip: TheMovie is the book told from [=McMurphy=]'s point of view.
* PorkyPigPronunciation: Billy.
* TheQuietOne: Bromden. [[spoiler: Until later]].
* RealMenWearPink: Contrast the closeted homosexual Harding (who fears showing signs of weakness) with the straight, [[RatedMForManly boisterous]] [=McMurphy=] who isn't afraid to express his softer side once in a while.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Dr. Spivey. Unfortunately, he has [[AuthorityInNameOnly no real power]].
* {{Sadist}}: Nurse Ratched is a coldly vindictive and utterly hateful ControlFreak who uses her position to bully, intimidate, torture and lobotomise the patients in her care. She accepts no challenge to her authority. [[spoiler: She is perfectly capable of intentionally driving her patients to suicide out of petty revenge. In addition, she allows the orderlies to rape the inmates in order to break them further and cement her own power.]]
* ScaryBlackMan: The three aides, Warren, Washington, and Williams, are horribly abusive to the patients. [[FreudianExcuse Warren at least has the excuse of having seen his mother raped by whites as a child.]]
* SesquipedalianLoquaciousness, SpockSpeak: Our garrulous friend, Harding.
* ShownTheirWork:
** Kesey worked at the Oregon State Hospital's mental ward (then and still notorious for its poor quality) as an orderly and stated that the Big Nurse is based off an amalgamation of several nurses he had worked with.
** He talked a fellow orderly into secretly giving him electroshock treatment as part of the research, and did a ''lot'' of acid. His hallucinations provided the basis of Bromden's schizophrenic narration.
** When Chief Bromden speaks just after [=McMurphy=] offers him a piece of gum, this is a reference to a real incident when a catatonic schizophrenic who had been silent for 19 years finally spoke after he was reinforced with chewing gum.
** When Harding describes the origins of electroconvulsive therapy, the bit about two psychiatrists visiting a slaughterhouse is not made up: those were Cerletti and Bini, who visited an abattoir in 1938 and got the idea that an epileptic fit could be induced by electricity. The idea that inducing seizures could have therapeutic effects, however, was proposed a few years earlier. Harding's BriefAccentImitation of them, however, as Germans, is false. As is evident by their names, they were Italian.
* TheSociopath: What [=McMurphy=] [[ObfuscatingInsanity pretends to be]] to get committed. Unfortunately for him, Nurse Ratched actually ''is'' one.
* SparedByTheAdaptation: [[spoiler:Charles Cheswick]] in the movie, [[spoiler:the novel has him drown in a swimming pool]]. According to WordOfGod, [[spoiler: Cheswick]] was spared to make [[spoiler: Billy Bibbit's]] death all the more shocking.
* SpeechImpediment: Billy.
* SupportingProtagonist: Bromden.
* TotallyEighteen: This is part of the reason why [=McMurphy=] is locked in a mental institution; he had sex with an underage girl whom he thought was seventeen.
* {{Troll}}: [=McMurphy=]'s main strategy in his war with the [[ControlFreak tyrannical]] Nurse Ratched is being one.
* UnreliableNarrator: Bromden is schizophrenic, and often hallucinates {{Literal Metaphor}}s and ties things into an overarching MindControlConspiracy.
* UnusualEuphemism: "Poozle."
* VisualPun: [=McMurphy's=] boxers, depicting [[MobyDick white whales]], which was given to him by a literary student because he "[[GagPenis was a symbol]]."
* WhamLine: The book being from Bromden's perspective and the movie from Mac's provides us with two contrasting reveals, both of which are provided by a single line: in the movie, [[spoiler: Mac passes supposedly deaf/mute Bromden a stick of chewing gum and Bromden says, "Thank you."]] The book's WhamLine is possibly less impactful on the story, as it is more illustrative of a character than something that fundamentally changes our perception of them, but it still comes as a shock: we know [[spoiler: Bromden is faking being deaf/mute right from the start.]] What we don't know until roughly the halfway point is that [[spoiler: Mac has him figured out quite early on: Chief reacts when Mac warns him about the black aide coming to which Mac responded with a snicker and "they told me you was deaf."]]
* WhiteMaleLead: While the original novel is narrated by Bromden, a Native American, the film makes [=McMurphy=] into the lead. Justified because [[PragmaticAdaptation the main conflict involves McMurphy and Nurse Ratched, and Chief Bromden's first-person narration in the book is completely lost in a visual medium like film]].