[[quoteright:350:[[Webcomic/FinalFantasyVIITheSevening http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ff7_obscure_reference_9039.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[-[[http://obstinatemelon.deviantart.com/art/Final-Fantasy-7-Page208-202630330 Next time]], make a ''VideoGame/{{Growlanser}}'' reference.-] ]]

->"''Welcome to Julie Taymor's Playhouse. (''beat'') Like five of you got that, but the five of you who got it are gonna be laughing''."
-->-- '''Creator/DougWalker''' (during his tour of Austria)

When a reference or ShoutOut is made, and it's acknowledged InUniverse to be obscure.

This isn't done all the time, because references tend to be subtle if they are obscure, so that those that don't get them can just enjoy the show. Doing it once in a while can give the audience a bit of curiosity about the reference, but not slow down the show with them wondering about every one.

A SubTrope of GeniusBonus.

Compare PopCulturalOsmosisFailure, ShownTheirWork, LateToThePunchline.

Contrast SmallReferencePools.

'''Not to be confused with characters not getting a commonly known thing.'''



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* The ReferenceOverdosed ''LightNovel/HaiyoreNyarkoSan'' pulls this on occasion, with [[OnlySaneMan Mahiro]] admonishing [[{{Otaku}} Nyarko]] for dropping references that nobody could possibly get.

* Creator/DennisMiller constantly uses obscure pop culture references in his stand-up routine. He occasionally mentions that he's doing so and that many of the people watching won't get them.
* Creator/PattonOswalt also did this after making an Creator/HPLovecraft reference.
* In ''Dressed To Kill'', Creator/EddieIzzard called out his audience for not knowing who Lafayette was. Of course, Eddie will also do this for stuff that really isn't obscure: after mentioning a few places that aren't America in front of an American audience, to minimal effect, he pauses and asks, "Do you know there's other countries?" [[note]]It gets a pretty good laugh, considering.[[/note]]
* In his HBO special ''Complaints And Grievances'', George Carlin mentioned pussy farts as something people don't talk about in public. He opened his next HBO special by saying the very same thing, adding "apparently some people don't know what a pussy fart is, because I got some inquiries." He then [[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0484855/quotes?item=qt0366489 explained the concept]].

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/TotalDrama'' story, ''[[Fanfic/LegacyTotalDrama Legacy]]'', Trent identifies ''Theatre/UtopiaLimited'' -- one of the least known of the Creator/GilbertAndSullivan operettas -- only as "some old musical" because he didn't remember the name and couldn't be bothered to look it up. The narrative expressly notes that [[http://gsarchive.net/utopia/webop/ul021.html the song]] from ''Utopia, Limited'' that became the basis for Trent's [[GriefSong tribute song]] is quite obscure.
* ''WebVideo/YuGiOhTheAbridgedSeries'' did a scene which referenced RickRoll, ''ComicBook/TheIncredibleHulk'' and ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda''. Tea said she was leaving due to getting annoyed by all the obscure references.
* ''[[LetsPlay/MarikPlaysBloodlines Marik Plays]]'': ''VideoGame/SlenderTheArrival'' includes a reference to Richard Linklater's ''Film/BeforeSunset''. Marik immediately points out it's the most cultured and obscure joke he's ever made. "Drink that in, 'cause it's never going to happen again. From now on, it's just poop and fart jokes."
* Creator/{{hbi2k}} calls some of his jokes "2 percenters" based on how much he thinks his viewers get them.
* In ''WebVideo/DragonBallZAbridged'', after they'd been talking about Raditz, Nappa asks, "But then you have to worry about the [[Series/FraggleRock Fraggles]]." Vegeta answers "Goddammit, Nappa, no one is going to get that!"
-->'''Tien:''' As a matter of fact, I did.
* In Episode 11 of ''WebVideo/TeenTitansTheAbridgedSeries'', Robin wondered who declared it obscure reference day.
* In episode 13 of ''WebVideo/CodeMENT'', Lelouch calls himself "a regular ComicStrip/DickTracy." Suzaku says back, "Five people left on the planet know who that is and I'm not one of them!"
* In ''WebVideo/ImAMarvelAndImADC'', [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=de06YM2mDlA "Ways to Screw Up the Avengers Movie"]], it's mentioned that the villain is "not [[ComicBook/TheMightyThor Loki]], but [[Film/TheAvengers1998 Sean Connery and his weather machine]]". ComicBook/{{Deadpool}} appears to say "Obscure reference for the win!"
* One of the two main villains of ''[[Fanfic/AngelOfTheBat Angel of the Bat: Times of Heresy]]'' uses the title, "Odmience." Odmience are demons in Myth/SlavicMythology, but are so rarely referenced that Batman himself claims the name tells them almost nothing about his MO.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheLEGOBatmanMovie'', the Joker forms a supervillain team including characters from entirely different franchises. He introduces his new Legion of Doom to Gotham, but when he gets to [[Series/DoctorWho the Daleks]]:
-->'''The Joker:''' British robots! (Ask your nerd friends.)
** Before that, after introducing his ''original'' Legion of Doom to the pilot of a plane he just hijacked (who accuses him of making some of them up), he states that they're [[NotMakingThisUpDisclaimer all real,]] and adds, "probably worth a [[Website/{{Google}} Google]]".
* ''Disney/{{Moana}}'': In his VillainSong "Shiny", Tamatoa sings to Maui, "You can't expect a demigod to beat a decapod (Look it up)!"

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/KissKissBangBang''. When two goons appear to accost Harry, one of them introduces himself and his colleague as "Ike, Mike, and Mustard"[[note]]Salt, Pepper, and Mustard, your standard-issue dinner condiments[[/note]]. Harry doesn't get it, and even the other goon outright agrees that it's pretty damn obscure, and the two start arguing over it.
* {{Inverted|Trope}} in ''Film/TheAvengers2012''. Almost all of the modern well-known cultural references are lost on [[ComicBook/CaptainAmerica Steve Rogers]], who had been frozen since World War II. When Nick Fury makes a reference to ''Film/TheWizardOfOz'', he's delighted to be able to point out that he actually got it. In ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier'' it's revealed he has a list of pop cultural things he has to experience, like ''Franchise/StarWars'' (or ''Series/{{Sherlock}}'' in some versions), and [[UsefulNotes/{{Thailand}} Thai food]] -- and he managed to watch ''Film/WarGames''.

* In ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' novel ''Skin Game'', Goodman Grey can't believe Harry prefaces their underworld heist with a quote from ''Film/TheBlackHole'', which he says no one even remembers (Harry, on the other hand, thinks it's a classic). [[spoiler: It also doubles as {{Foreshadowing}} via AuthorAppeal--none of the ''real'' villains ever get Harry's references.]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In the ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment'' episode "S.O.B.s", Tobias brings up someone named Freddie Wilson while talking, prompting the other characters to say they "don't get that reference". This doubled as an in-joke about how some people thought the show's inability to gain mainstream appeal was caused by its numerous and sometimes obscure jokes about pop-culture and topical references.
* Played with in an episode of ''Series/TheMiddleman'', where Middleman '69 (who has been [[HumanPopsicle in cryonic stasis for the past four decades]]) makes a ''Franchise/StarTrek'' reference and notes the [[ItWillNeverCatchOn unlikeliness]] of Wendy getting it.
* ''Series/ThirtyRock'':
** Liz tells her writers not to use Krang from ''WesternAnimation/{{Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|1987}}'' on sketches. "No one knows who Krang is! It would be a waste of time to talk about Krang on television! No more Krang!"
** Another instance, this time when Liz is having a fake argument with [[GentleGiant Dot Com]] her pretend-boyfriend to make her new roommate move out (ItMakesSenseInContext):
--->'''Dot Com:''' I feel ANGRY! Like Warren Moon must have felt back in 1995!\\
'''Liz:''' As I have told you many times in our relationship, no-one gets that reference.
* In the ''Series/{{House}}'' episode "Perils of Paranoia", House's team doubts that their PatientOfTheWeek was a victim of chlorine gas poisoning. House, however, says that there still might be a toxin involved because "[[Franchise/{{Pokemon}} Arceus]] created a universe with three states of matter and 300 solid or liquid poisons that could cause his symptoms." Puzzled, Taub asks, "Arceus?" House casually replies, "Look it up."
* In ''Series/FatherTed'', Ted makes a reference to the Jeff Bridges movie ''[[Film/Fearless1993 Fearless]]''. When Dougal remarks that he hasn't seen it, Ted replies, "Not a lot of people have, Dougal, so it's probably a bad reference."
* ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000''. The episode ''Gamera vs. Guiron'' has what is usually acknowledged as the most obscure joke in the entire show's history. Tom Servo makes a reference to head writer Mike Nelson's recent break-up with his girlfriend (and the fact that she took his Casio when she left):
-->''[a girl runs away from the camera]''\\
'''Tom Servo:''' Look out, Mike, she's got your keyboard!\\
'''Joel:''' Huh?\\
'''Tom Servo:''' Oh, it's obscure.
* In ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', "New Moon Rising", Buffy threatens to "[[PersonAsVerb pull a William Burroughs]]" on [=MacNamara=][[note]]Not a perfect analogy; the Burroughs case was WilliamTelling gone wrong and Buffy would be deliberately shooting [=MacNamara=][[/note]], earning a lot of blank looks until Xander speculates she intends to "bore him to death with free prose."
-->'''Buffy:''' Was I the only one awake in English that day? I'll ''kill him''.
* In one episode of ''Series/WhoseLineIsItAnyway'', a game of Scenes from a Hat had the cast doing Redneck versions of Shakespeare plays. Wayne Brady enters and, in a thick hillbilly accent, recites a line from ''Theatre/TwoGentlemenOfVerona''; when the audience fails to respond, he admonishes them with "Read a book, people!"
* A line about a character's Native American heritage in the ''Series/AngieTribeca'' episode ''Commissioner Bigfish'' leads to a cutaway parodying the "Crying Indian" PSA from the early 1970s. Cue Geils' remarking "Wow, that's a really old reference."
* During an episode of ''Conan'', Creator/PattonOswalt is called out for continuously making obscure, geeky movie references.
-->'''Patton:''' You guys saw the end of [[Movie/HalloweenIIISeasonOfTheWitch Halloween III]], right? Put your masks on... Wow, that was for four people.\\
'''Conan:''' Your references are getting narrower and narrower. As we get closer to me telling people to change the channel, I don't think I'm gonna have to tell them.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'': If James talks Shepard into buying some fellow marines a round, the soldiers start a toast based on Creator/RobertBurns (that was also used in the videogame ''VideoGame/ReturnToZork''). Shepard's half is based on a Renegade Interrupt -- hit it, and James admits he wasn't sure they'd know the line.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'':
** In "Fan Costumes '09", Strong Bad fails to recognize one fan costume, and Strong Sad explains that it's based on a Sketchbook drawing of a humanized version of Gunhaver of ''Cheat Commandos''.
--->'''Strong Bad:''' That is A) amazing, B) depressing, and C) [[BreadEggsBreadedEggs amazingly depressing]].
** In "Fan Costumes 2016", Strong Bad finds a fan costume so obscure ("Anonymous Contributor" from the Strong Bad Email "rock opera") he complains about having to look it up on the Homestar Runner wiki.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'':
** One comic ends with gladiators being torn apart by a giant version of Ollie from ''Kukla, Fran and Ollie''. The comic's title is [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0746.html "Ask Your Grandparents"]].
--->'''Roy:''' (''[[MediumAwareness looking at the cutaway panel]]'') ...Wow, that's, uh... that's a bit of a dated reference, don't you think?
** Not as old nor as obscure, but the SuddenVideogameMoment featuring ''VideoGame/{{Centipede}}'' is lampshaded too.
--->'''Chief:''' Man, that brought back memories.\\
'''Rookie:''' I don't get it.\\
'''Chief:''' Before your time, kid. Before your time.
* The commentary to ''Webcomic/IrregularWebcomic'' [[http://www.irregularwebcomic.net/617.html strip #617]]:
-->''Yes, to understand this joke you need to know relativity ''and'' image processing theory. No, I am unrepentant.''
* in [[http://unrealitycomic.tumblr.com/post/152784977297/what-you-think-im-going-to-tell-you-what-that-is this strip]] of ''Webcomic/{{Unreality}} Sarah explicitly states that most general audiences wouldn't understand a reference to an obscure 80's Mexican comic book called Karmatron Y Los Transformables.
* This happens occasionally in ''WebComic/WhiteDarkLife''. For instance: "[[http://comments.deviantart.com/1/391554427/3723583874 Did you get your]] "[[http://exterminatusnow.co.uk/2010-08-14/comic/voiding-your-warranty/abused-by-an-angel/ all female cats are promiscuous nymphomaniacs]]" rhetoric from WebComic/ExterminatusNow?"
* An ''Webcomic/{{xkcd}}'' comic [[https://xkcd.com/1262/ depicts a future]] where even ''Franchise/StarWars'' has been forgotten to the point where a kid admits he doesn't understand the one quote he picked up from his grandmother ("May the Force be with you").

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''Roleplay/DinoAttackRPG'', after Rockford grumbled about Dino Attack Team's code being blatant ''Franchise/StarWars'' references, Mur just remarked that he was glad it wasn't a much more obscure ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' reference instead, much to Rockford's confusion.
* WebVideo/StuartAshen has a recurring segment in his reviews, "Quincy: a caterpillar that sings obscure Beatles songs".
* ''WebVideo/TheSpoonyExperiment'':
** The Spoony One occasionally succumbs to this:
--->'''Spoony:''' Actually my first thought was that he kinda looks like Locklear from ''VideoGame/BetrayalAtKrondor''... Oh God... I just made a ''Betrayal at Krondor'' reference in Two-Thousand-and fucking-Eleven... I don't get out much...
** He also feels the need to explain to his younger viewers what things like [[TechMarchesOn floppy disks and BBS were]].
* ''Podcast/{{Psycomedia}}'' does this, often via the use of Venn diagram. Often involving the Star Wars Expanded Universe in one of the host's case.
* Linkara of ''WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall'' does this once in a while.
-->'''Linkara:''' My thanks to the three people who get that joke.
* In his "review" of ''Film/TheDarkKnight'', WebVideo/MikeJ compares the flyover establishing shots in the film to the [[Ride/DisneyThemeParks Disney attraction]] ''Soarin' Over California''.
-->'''[=MikeJ=]:''' It's like ''Soarin' Over Gotham''! (''beat'') Little uh, theme park humour for you there so uh, thanks to those three people out there who got that joke. (''whispers'') You're my favourites!"
* ''WebVideo/TheyMadeMeWatchThis'' thanked the 1% of his viewers who got one of his references.
* GuitarMasterx7's Master Chief series pulls one in the retard daycare episode, racial stereotype and all.
-->'''Ali Baba:''' Nobody would be getting a ''WesternAnimation/{{Captain Planet|AndThePlaneteers}}'' reference!
* WebVideo/DiamandaHagan's crossover review of "Zombeak" with Creator/JewWario has her make a comparison between the goth characters in the movie splitting up with Music/TarjaTurunen leaving the band Music/{{Nightwish}}. [=JewWario=] sums it up in one line:
-->'''[=JewWario=]:''' You lost me about five obscure references ago.
* ''WebAnimation/ZeroPunctuation'':
** It describes the evil alien race that wants to [[AlienInvasion invade Earth]] in ''VideoGame/DarkVoid'' as "about two parts [[VideoGame/HalfLife Combine]], to two parts [[VideoGame/{{Halo}} Covenant]], to one part VisualNovel/{{Snatcher}} (now there's an obscure reference; I'll probably bring up ''VideoGame/FlightOfTheAmazonQueen'' next)."
** Also, in his "VideoGame/EverybodysGoneToTheRapture" review, he says: "It's like Radio/TheArchers [[JustForFun/XMeetsY meets]] [[Franchise/{{Quatermass}} Quatermass and the Pit]]. Blimey, no one's going to get THAT reference"!
** At one point in his review of ''VideoGame/FatalFrameVMaidenOfBlackWater'' he mangles the name into "Fatal Frame: [[WesternAnimation/ThePiratesOfDarkWater Pirates of Dark Water]]." ("Who remembers ''that!?''")
* In WebVideo/ToddInTheShadows and [[WebVideo/BadMovieBeatdown Film Brain's]] review of ''Film/AlvinAndTheChipmunks The Squeakquel'', one of the scenes they show has Theodore being into Meerkat Manor. Matthew hopes they won't get a cameo of Aleksandr from the Compare the Meerkat commercials. Todd asks what the hell was that, and Matthew says the UK viewers will get the joke.
* In TheNostalgiaCritic's review of ''WesternAnimation/TheSwanPrincess'', he says that he hopes a scene of an arrow being shot at Prince Derek will lead to a [[http://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Sebastian Saint Sebastian]] homage. He then looks down on the audience for not knowing what that is and tells them not to Google it so they can pretend they do.
* ''Podcast/FatFrenchAndFabulous'': After a joke about the failure of Enron, "Maybe if we started making jokes that have punchlines that come after 1997, we'll start doing better."

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Animaniacs}}'' did a short where the Warner brothers (and the Warner sister) met Rasputin. They did a pun involving "Anastasia" getting mixed up with "anesthesia", and Dot said "Obscure Joke. Ask your parents." (This was years before [[WesternAnimation/{{Anastasia}} that Don Bluth film]] came out.)
* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' mentioned UsefulNotes/BenjaminDisraeli in the episode "One If by Clam, Two If by Sea" to set up a CutawayGag. It cut to Disraeli working at his desk, when he suddenly [[BreakingTheFourthWall glares at the camera and snaps]] "You don't even know who I am!"
* The ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'' GrandFinale had a character from Franchise/TheDCU appear for the first time.
-->'''Bat-Mite:''' ComicBook/AmbushBug? You're a pretty obscure hero, even for this show.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' has done this a few times.
** "In the Name of the Grandfather":
--->'''Grandpa Simpson:''' I was lonelier than Estes Kefauver at a meeting of Murder Incorporated! ''[{{beat}}]'' That actually makes sense. Look it up!
** "They Saved Lisa's Brain":
--->'''Lisa:''' (''reading Comic Book Guy's shirt'') "C:/DOS C:/DOS/RUN RUN/DOS/RUN". (''laughs'') Oh, only one person in a million would find that funny.\\
'''Frink:''' Yes, we call that the "Dennis Miller Ratio".
** "We're On The Road To D'ohwhere":
-->'''Chief Wiggum:''' Save it, Ma Peddle.\\
'''Lou:''' Ma Peddle?\\
'''Chief Wiggum:''' It's a reference to Ma Kettle, a movie character from the 1940s.\\
'''Lou:''' [[DontExplainTheJoke Chief, if you have to explain it, it's not very good.]]
* A ''WesternAnimation/RobotChicken'' sketch revolving around movie plot twists spoofed the ending to ''Film/SleepawayCamp''. At the end of the skit, the director of ''Sleepaway Camp'' suddenly shows up, ecstatic that ''someone'' remembered his movie and decided to spoof it.
* On an episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheTick'', a hand puppet compared The Tick to [[Literature/TheIliad Achilles in his tent]]. When no one, even his ventriloquist, got it he said "The Illiad?" (looks around) ''"Homer?"'' (still no reaction) "READ A BOOK!!"
* A joke from ''WesternAnimation/RockyAndBullwinkle'':
-->'''Bullwinkle:''' Twenty dollars!? That's antihistamine money!\\
'''Rocky:''' Antihistamine money?\\
'''Bullwinkle:''' Yes. It's not to be sneezed at. [[DontExplainTheJoke Get it? Not to be sneezed at?]]\\
'''Rocky:''' [[LamePunReaction I get it.]]\\
'''Bullwinkle:''' Thousands won't!
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Archer}}'': Archer is prone to making very obscure references that sail over the heads of everyone else, prompting him to call out the reference. These help show his HiddenDepths in spite of being a PsychopathicManchild.
** In season 1, when Archer is training Cyril to be a field agent, he gives him a pistol (Chekhov 9mm) and a poison pen, both of which, he warns, go off for "basically no reason". Later, when a prostitute is accidentally killed by the pen, Cyril bemoans that he figured he have to watch out for the ChekhovsGun. Archer dismisses this as "a facile argument" and Woodhouse chimes in that it's "also woefully esoteric".
** In another episode, Archer makes a reference to ''Bartleby, The Scrivener'', and is annoyed when no-one else gets it.
* Parodied in ''WesternAnimation/RickAndMorty'', where Rick makes a reference to "Redgren Grumbholdt" that his grandchildren laugh at. He then tells them that he just made it up and mocks them for not thinking for themselves.