troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Klingons Love Shakespeare
These aren't coins, these are Oreos.
Chancellor Gorkon: I offer a toast. The undiscovered country...the future.
Everyone: The undiscovered country.
Spock: Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1.
Chancellor Gorkon: You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.

An alien character (or an entire race) who is shown to enjoy specific things relating to human culture. A direct subtrope of Alien Arts Are Appreciated, when it's the aliens who like human culture. Perhaps it's a certain food, or a certain activity. When played straight, this can be used to allow an alien character and a human to bond, showing that they are Not So Different. Or this can be Played for Laughs, when an alien who has little grasp of human culture and social conventions suddenly shows himself very aware of a certain pop culture element, or addicted to some human activity the viewer would not think him capable of grasping.

This doesn't have to be precisely limited to aliens, as the trope can also apply with any race, species, or society that have a culture which is otherwise very different from humans.

Compare Fan of the Past, which can serve a similar narrative purpose. Can sometimes lead to Going Native. Compare Alien Catnip when the subject is actually addictive.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  

  • In Death Note, the Death God Ryuk has a strange addiction to apples. Though apples do exist in the Death God world, they're just dry and taste like sand.
    • Bonus chapter 109 in volume 13 suggests that it extends to all shinigami - while Ryuk's chicanery to get a second Death Note (the one he dropped to start the plot) caused the Shinigami King to refuse to give out further Death Notes during the original 108-chapter run of the series, he suddenly changed course as of the postscript chapter and would give out additional Death Notes in exchange for two apples per Death Note.
  • Mephisto Pheles from Blue Exorcist is an otaku.
  • In Haiyore! Nyarko-san, pretty much every alien is a fan of Earth's entertainment media, to the point where the Planetary Defense Organization had to set limits on exports and treats smuggling as a serious crime. Nyarko herself is a giant Anime and Toku fangirl who loves quoting things like JoJo's Bizarre Adventure and performing Kamen Rider poses. In fact, one could easily explain all the series' pop culture references as the result of the alien characters quoting their favorite anime and video games...
  • This shows up in Sensui's backstory in YuYu Hakusho. Sensui, who believed that all demons are inherently evil, was about to execute Itsuki, a demon, but allowed him to make a last request. Itsuki asked Sensui to let him live long enough to see the finale of his favorite TV show. Sensui was so shocked to see such a human attribute in a demon that he reconsidered his Black and White Morality.

     Comic Books  

  • The Martian Manhunter is known for his love - sometimes bordering on addiction - of Oreo (or occasionally Choco) cookies. He picked up the taste from Captain Marvel (at the time, they played with Marvel having personality traits of his 10-year-old "Billy Batson" alter ego).
    "But do Martians—you know—eat?"
    "Of course we do. In fact, Martians had McDonalds and Burger King thousands of years before you had them on Earth."
    "You're joking, right?"
    "Martians never joke."
  • Xavin from Runaways has said that Starbucks is Earth's greatest achievement.
    • Not just Earth's, but the entire galaxy's. And considering that it's the Marvel Universe (so most of the planets are somewhat inhabited), that's high praise.
  • An early Fantastic Four story revealed that a bunch of shapeshifting Skrulls became so enamored with 1920s gangster culture, they themed an entire planet after it. Caused some severe Mind Screw for the heroes themselves when they visited.
  • Power Pack has Aelfyre Whitemane, who fell in love with Earth literature, and Kofi Whitemane, who is particularly fond of Earth food.

     Fan Works 

     Film  

  • In Meet Joe Black, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Death develops an intense love of peanut butter during his time as a human.
  • The Prawns in District 9 love cat food, which affects them as a drug.
  • Pretty much the entire premise of Paul. Justified though as Paul is the source of most of the late 20th century pop culture.
  • The titular alien from Starman goes into a near orgasmic joy over Dutch apple pie.
  • The entire plot of Galaxy Quest revolves around a species of aliens who became tech savvy fanboys of a Star Trek-like show (which they viewed as real), built a real model of the show's ship, and enlist the cast to help fight against a galactic tyrant.

     Literature  

  • The Hokas in stories by Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson are an ancient and noble alien race that just happen to look like teddy bears. They love human literature but can't quite seem to grasp that fiction isn't real. As a result they often act out scenes from famous books, with comically chaotic results.
  • In Poul Anderson's Polesotechnic League stories, David Falkayn's associate, the alien Adzel (who looks like a large centauroid dragon), is a Buddhist (which naturally he learned about from humans). He spent some time on Earth studying human culture.
  • In David Brin's Uplift series, poetry composed by Uplifted Dolphins is one of the most sought after artforms in the Milky Way.
  • Played for Laughs in Animorphs—Ax and other Andalites don't have a sense of taste when in their normal forms, but can become crazy trying to eat things when in human morph. In the final book it mentions that Andalites sometimes vacation on Earth just so that they can become humans for a while and try Cinnabuns. (Buns. Bunzzzz...) It's also mentioned that they start to share some of their most heavily classified technology... in exchange for the humans putting a Krispy Kreme on the Andalite homeworld.
  • In the Harry Potter series, Arthur Weasley's love for Muggle culture seems to be patterned after this trope. He is fascinated by Muggles and how they can survive without magic and desperately tries to understand how technology works by disassembling muggle devices and enchanting them.
  • The satyrs Newel and Doren in Fablehaven love TV—they're technically not supposed to watch it, but they have a portable TV and Seth smuggles them batteries. They also later fall in love with human junk food, to the point of using "FRITO-LAAAAY!" as a battle cry.
  • A terrestrial example: In The Destroyer, Master Chiun profoundly despises everything from the West anywhere but Korea, with one big exception: sappy American TV soap operas. He says to Remo it's "the only worthwhile thing your culture has ever produced".
  • In Way Station, Ulysses is a member of species that adapt to almost anything, can digest almost anything, but he considers well-prepared coffee to be the best food in the entire known universe.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's The Stars Are Cold Toys, one insectoid alien race loves art. They especially love landscapes drawn by human artists. Any landscapes. There is a huge team of artists on Earth that essentially draws the same trees in the forest, over and over and over. They try to actually put some artistic inspiration into it, but it's actually not necessary, since the aliens in question appreciate more the paint's structure, the brush strokes and so on. Selling those landscapes is a large part of Earth's income (But then again, humanity is like Indians in this setting)
  • Many alien species in the Young Wizards series love chocolate. In fact, getting chocolate is the primary reason behind most alien abductions.
    • One of the novels has two aliens enjoying a teen girl fashion magazine: the walking tree likes it because of the eye searing colors it contains, and the giant centipede enjoys the flavors of the inks and paper the magazine is made from.
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry is able to compel minor Faeries, and eventually win over an entire cadre of the little folk to become his staunch allies, largely by trading upon their passionate love of pizza.
  • In John Ringo's Troy Rising series:
    • Initially, the only product Earth has to offer that an alien species is willing to buy is maple syrup... and for the aliens in question the syrup is like a fine malt whiskey mixed with heroin.
    • Later in the series, Vernon uses his funds to buy up the rights to a lot of older movies, particularly westerns and war films, which he broadcasts to other races, with whom they prove to be popular.
  • In The Ship Who Sang there is one instance where the titular ship transported a group of Shakespeare players to perform Romeo and Juliet for an alien race who resemble methane breathing jellyfish in exchange for a new power generation technology. And did I mention that they needed to transfer their brainwaves to alien bodies to perform?
  • The entire premise of Year Zero is this: Earth music is the best in the universe. Extraterrestrials respect other planets' laws. Therefore, over the past few decades, aliens have racked up an exorbitant debt in copyright infringement fees and some of the more unscrupulous races want to wipe out the debt by wiping out the planet.
  • Transformers Cybertron: The textstory "Force of Habit," has the Decepticon sharpshooter Hardtop. He's a fan of comics, collecting many from earth, and other organic planets. When the cons are beaten at the end of the story, they're left on a planet awaiting rescue, so he starts handing them comics for them to read (though insisting they don't get skidmarks or crease them). Runamuck admits they aren't that bad.
  • In the Confederation of Valor series, the H'san apparently think humans are cool because we're the only species in the galaxy to develop cheese.

     Live Action TV  

  • Happens a few times in Star Trek, which gave us the Trope Namer:
    • Klingons in general enjoy Shakespeare. His plays, translated into Klingon, enjoy great popularity. The Klingon Big Bad of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country even spends most of the movie quoting Shakespeare, much to McCoy's annoyance. The single exception to this is Romeo and Juliet, which is actively despised by Klingons. Whereas humans see it as the tale of two tragic, star-crossed lovers doomed to die, Klingons see it as two children who act like honorless ptaq by putting "love" ahead of family loyalty and duty and thereby dishonor their parents.
    • Worf in particular is an avid drinker of prune juice, which he calls a warrior's drink.
      • This makes a certain amount of sense, as prune juice is a dark, thick beverage, rather like the native Klingon blood-wine.
    • Klingons also seem to like coffee to the point of having adapted their own version of it (which is also drunk by some humans, coming full circle).
      • In one Trek novel, it turns out that the Klingons consider ultra-violent 80's-style action movies like Rambo and The Terminator to be the funniest comedies ever made.
    • Odo enjoys Kayaking as well as Mickey Spillane novels.
    • Nog enjoys Root Beer. Quark disapproves of it, calling it a cloying, bubbly, sickly sweet force bent on corrupting the core of Ferengi culture. note 
    • One minor plot arc in DS9 has Garak exploring Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Initially, he finds it to pretty much be a farce, as his own Cardassian culture (which is much more reptilian in nature) features betrayals as a matter of course, and the fact that Caesar couldn't figure out that Brutus was the betrayer until the assassination itself bewildered Garak. He later revised his opinion, however, as he gained more understanding for the culture that produced the work.
    • Vulcans, or at least Spock, seem to have a working knowledge of Earth history. In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Spock quoted an old Vulcan proverb: "Only Nixon can go to China."
  • Saturday Night Live's Coneheads are fond of American culture, and humanity in general, to the point of pretending that Earth has an incredibly powerful defense laser network and faking their own death so as to stay here instead of invading. Their daughter, on the other hand, was born and raised here, and she absolutely hates her parent's homeworld.
    • They especially like beer, which they drink a six-pack of at a time.
    • In the film, the immigration officer's assistant ends up stranded on their homeworld as a slave. Once he's assured that Earth is no longer at risk, he's extremely enthusiastic about helping the evil alien overlord manage his schedule.
  • Teal'c of Stargate SG-1 is stoic, and easily confused by English language proverbs and metaphors and the most basic of human customs. He is also an avid fan of Star Wars, which he has watched 9 times in his first 5 years on earth. In fact, when someone mentions an immaculate conception, he immediately thinks of Darth Vader. He is also a fan of Die Hard - knowing the films well enough to recognize John McClane by name, humorously pointing this out when Daniel Jackson (Earthling, born and bred) completely misses the reference.
  • Ronnon Dex of Stargate Atlantis is shown to be initially puzzled by but later entertained by golf after being introduced to it by Sheppard.
    • He also likes movies, particularly violent ones. He expresses an interest in seeing Alien after hearing about how much it scared his Earth-born friends, although he also watched Blades of Glory due to misinterpreting the title (ice skating was apparently not a thing on his homeworld).
    • Teyla and her popcorn is another example from Stargate Atlantis.
  • Babylon 5 has some interesting examples among the alien ambassadors.
    • Ambassador Delenn reads Earther news publications because she finds it's a better source of relevant information than her own government sources, even when dealing with matters from her own home world. Admittedly, this is more a comment on the controlling and secretive Minbari culture than on her humanophilia...but then, she does end up becoming part-human and marrying John Sheridan.
    • G'Kar is shown to enjoy a smattering of human culture (especially human women), along with a smattering of pretty much everybody else's culture, too. At one point, he Stock Quotes the W.B. Yeats poem "The Second Coming" to N'Toth, commenting that "Humans are wiser than we suspected."
    • Vir becomes very fond of Shirley Temples when he is driven to drink.
    • Inverted by Ambassador Mollari, who in one scene rants about the baffling lyrics to the 'hokey pokey', and in another disses country and western music. He also despises Rebo and Zooty, but eventually comes around.
  • In Angel, Lorne is a demon who was accidentally sucked through an interdimensional portal to Earth, where he immediately fell in love with show tunes, flash, and showbiz culture. On his world, music is actually considered a kind of terrifying aberration. When he first got to our world, having never heard music before, he was so fascinated that he opened a karaoke bar. Of course, it turned out that his species could read a person's future from their singing, but he was the first to realise.
    • His species does have dancing, though. It's...not very good.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor enjoys quite a lot about Earth culture.
    • He enjoys a Spot of Tea as much as an actual Englishman.
    • He craves various Earth sweets, ranging from jelly babies to jammy dodgers. He hates pears, though.
    • He loves a number of authors, including Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and J. K. Rowling.
    • The Master, on the other hand, absolutely adores the Teletubbies. "Have you seen these things? This planet is amazing! Televisions in their stomachs, now that's evolution!"
    • In The Sarah Jane Adventures , Sarah Jane's alien computer, Mr Smith, seems to enjoy reading celebrity gossip... and looking at dating sites.
    • In the Big Finish Doctor Who story "Time of the Daleks" an alternate timeline is created where the Daleks are Shakespeare fans.
  • One of the main themes of Defiance is the integration of human and Votan cultures into a single whole. As a consequence there are several examples of individuals on one side developing an affinity for some aspect of the art or culture of the other. The most prominent example is Alak Tarr, the Castithan DJ, who spins Earth oldies every afternoon.

     Tabletop Games  

  • In Traveller the Vilani (who are Transplanted Humans rather then aliens proper but Tropes Are Flexible) learn to love Terran computer design. Vilani computers are overspecialized (their computers are designed to handle one specific task) whereas Terran computers can be used to play games, talk on the net, watch videos or play music, and do accounting, all with the same operating system.
  • In Teenagers from Outer Space, Earth is the only planet in the universe to have developed a teen culture.
  • While most different races in Warhammer 40,000 hate each other and want to kill each other, and even the comparatively multicultural Tau Empire generally maintains a certain level of segregation between different castes and client races in order to maintain the specializations required for their unique roles, some Orkz are shown to have a fondness for various aspects of human culture. The Blood Axe clan in particular have picked up such un-orky ideas as "stealth" and "tactics" instead of just shooting everything that moves. Beyond that, though, all Orkz, apart from the luddite Snakebitez, have an appreciation for human war machines and will try to capture them in working order wherever possible.

     Video Games  

  • A couple times in Mass Effect.
    • Doctor Mordin Solus is a weird case, in that he admits to having a negligible personal interest in cultural studies, but he did some Gilbert and Sullivan as part of a cross-species cultural exploration. Watch him perform his version of "Modern Major General".
    • Asari love Egyptian artifacts. Especially because their own ancestors made hieroglyphs in a similar style.
    • Inverted with Grunt, a krogan whose race is known to eat practically anything (something he himself admits to be willing to do) and be almost immune to food poisoning, is grossed out by the mere sight of ramen noodles and refuses to eat them.
    "It looks like... worms. Dead ones. Is that a human thing?"
    • Grunt does enjoy other aspects of Earth culture, though. One tidbit in the game you can uncover is a peculiar interest in classical Earth literature (particularly Hemingway), and he collects action figures and plays war with them.
    • An actual Shakespeare example starts in Mass Effect 1 as an advertisement for a performance of Hamlet with an all Elcor cast. Note that Elcor speak in a flat monotone at all times. Emotion and tone are conveyed to Elcor with pheromones and to everybody else with That Makes Me Feel Angry. This makes the play a terrifying prospect, although it's advertised in-universe as the chance to judge Hamlet "by his deeds and not his emotions". By Mass Effect 2 it becomes a runaway hit. All fourteen hours of it.
    • Cerberus Daily News revealed that there are Krogans who played American football. One of them even becoming the winning quarterback for Super Bowl CCXIX.
      • For the New York Giants, no less...
    • Some aliens have even converted to human religions; turians frequently practice Zen Buddhism and Confucian beliefs, and there are recipes for dextro-based matzoh for turians and quarians who wish to join the seder meal.
  • In The Space Bar, it's noted on a number of occasions that aliens have some odd obsession with Jerry Lewis and think all of his films are hilarious and wonderful.
  • Briefly mentioned in Sword of the Stars with the Tarka regarding Archilochus and to some extent Roman Catholicism. The Hivers also enjoy human fermented foodstuffs, though they get drunk off cheese rather than wine.
  • The Unggoy in Halo have a black market built around human soap operas, sitcoms, and the like. This probably has more to do with them being tasked to monitor UNSC communications and their superiority at learning (and therefore familiarity with human language) compared to the rest of the Covenant than any fondness of humanity.
  • The main villain of Saints Row IV is an alien conqueror with a love of English literature, particularly the works of Shakespeare and Jane Austen. He even has Jane Austen herself preserved in his personal collection of humans.

     Web Comics  

  • In Spacetrawler, Dmitri licenses a recipe for Russian tea cookies to an alien bakery. In the Framing Story, it's mentioned in passing that Russian tea cookies went on to become wildly popular on a number of planets.
  • Buck Godot: Humans were the only race in the universe to invent frozen popsicles. The idea was wildly popular, and now when humans throw a party, even their enemies will come by for dessert.
  • Homestuck: Thanks to John's influence, Vriska develops a love for B-movies. Well, those featuring Nicolas Cage anyway.
  • Melonpool / Zortic: A crossover between these comics takes place on a space station, in which the crews of both comics' Cool Ships wait in a long line of alien fanboys to see the latest Star Wars movie. Although the definition of "latest" turned out to vary.

     Western Animation  

  • In Futurama, the aliens of Omicron Perseid 8 love 20th century human sitcoms, going to war with humanity over missing the finale of Single Female Lawyer. (Then again, they go to war over lots of things...)
    • Zoidberg's species love of anchovies was so great it caused the anchovies' extinction, though the way it's presented, it seems more a full-fledged addiction.
  • Ariel from The Little Mermaid and her entire cave filled with human artifacts salvaged from shipwrecks.
  • Kid vs. Kat: the cat is an alien masquerading as a pet. He still manages to acquire an addiction for the Fishy Frisky Bits cat food, and most of his plans center around transporting as much of it as he can back to his homeworld.
  • On Young Justice, M'Gann/Miss Martian has apparently been watching a human sitcom called Hello, Megan! since it aired in the 70's. This helps to explain her Girl Next Door mannerisms and Catch Phrase.
    • One of the Forever People, Serifan likes cowboy westerns and wears a cowboy hat and poncho.
  • In Megas XLR, Earth is unintentionally renowned throughout the universe for its snack foods. Aliens from everywhere visit Earth in disguise to shop at the planet's convenience stores.
  • Knockout of Transformers Prime is a fan of human automobiles, choosing his alternate mode based off of aesthetics and performance (to paraphrase Knockout, he's not just an automobile, he's an automobile enthusiast). He even enjoys competing in human street racing; this interest in human culture is pretty rare for a Decepticon.
    • Bulkhead and Bumblebee count too. The former is a fan of human metal music and monster truck rallies, the latter of racing and cartoons.
  • Transformers Animated Jazz is fascinated with all the stuff on Earth, like rain and traffic lights.
  • Jazz would get along well with Boulder of Transformers Rescue Bots, who is likewise fascinated with pretty much everything Earth has to offer.
    • And all of the Rescue Bots seem to like movies, though they have their own preferences on genres. Blades once binged on pirate movies and then spent most of the episode talking like one.
  • Quite a few of the Autobots in Transformers Generation One like particular things about Earth. Jazz and Blaster love our music. Hound and Beachcomber love nature. Tracks loves cities. And several of the 'Bots apparently have a fondness for a TV soap opera called As The The Kitchen Sinks. This is balanced by a few like Mirage and Huffer who don't like Earth much at all.
    • This is particularly amped up in the toyline/comic characters of this series. For example, the Cassettibot, Eject, is a self-professed sports junky who adores sports so much he hopes that, one day, Autobots and Decepticons will be able to replace war with competitive sports, which would be far less lethal.
  • It gets downright meta with the Decepticon Shortround from Transformers Cybertron, who somehow actually collects Transformers action figures (specifically including never-released prototypes of Generation 2 figures).
  • To round out the list of Transformers examples, there's Dinobot, and to a lesser extent, Megatron from Beast Wars. At various points, the two of them actually quote Shakespeare.
    • In a sad bit of irony, none of the Maximals have such a reverence for human culture, because a lot of stuff on humanity has been classified.

Inscrutable AliensAlien TropesMistook the Dominant Lifeform
Klingon Scientists Get No RespectSpeculative Fiction TropesKryptonite Factor
Martian ManhunterImageSource/Comic BooksMarvel Comics

random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
59705
25