Totally coincidental arrangement, honest...
"Okay, everyone who wants to be in the picture, go to the other side of the table. Hold it..."
Imitating Leonardo da Vinci
's painting "The Last Supper", often for promotional art. This works for a variety of different plots or events. If there is a character who is an example (or a subversion, or an ironic inversion) of a Messianic Archetype
, or otherwise has some kind of plot-related parallel with the story of the betrayal of Christ, he or she will be placed in Jesus' position, frequently complete with downcast eyes and spread arms. The scene itself often has some thematic connection to the biblical Last Supper, whether it is a group shot of the series' team with a betrayer in their midst, or a gathering of friends that is a metaphorical "last supper" (like a group of coworkers planning to go their separate ways), a leader and his/her followers or supporters, or foreshadowing the death/persecution of the character in Jesus's spot.
Since Leonardo's painting depicts the disciples' reactions to hearing that one of them will betray Jesus, the character placed in the "Judas Iscariot" slot (elbow on the table, second to the left of Jesus) may be a hint to viewers.
This is actually Truth in Television
; artists have made quite a few versions of "The Last Supper", many of which have been viewed by the public as bad taste (or worse). Technically, you can't truly accuse someone who does this of "stealing" (Leonardo's works are not copyrighted) at least in any legal way.
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Anime & Manga
- In the manga version of Haruhi Suzumiya, the S.O.S. Brigade ends their Drunken Montage during Remote Island Syndrome with this. Itsuki is John, Mikuru is Thomas, Kyon is James the Greater, and Yuki is Philip. Judas's face, as well as most of Peter's, is blocked by text. And Haruhi? Guess.
- The cover of George Carlin's "When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?"
- Trevor Turan's Discworld spoof lecture on The Da Quirm Code (Discworld Convention, 2006) involved supposed hidden messages in Leonard of Quirm's portrait of the Ecksian prophet of Offler Gordon Yermate and his followers, titled Where The Hell's Breakfast?
Films — Live-Action
- Luis Bu˝uel's Viridiana has a party of drunken, looting beggars end posed as in "The Last Supper", causing an outcry from the Vatican.
- In Mel Brooks' History of the World Part I, Jesus and Pals commission Leonardo Da Vinci to make a group portrait. They pose for a second exactly as in the painting, and Brooks holds up a plate over Christ's head as the halo. Even if there's no halo in the actual painting.
- In the film version of M*A*S*H, the "funeral" for Painless Pole has the attendees arranged in this manner. Father Mulcahy sees this and does a double-take.
- One segment in Super Size Me is a painting that shows grotesque caricatures of various fast food mascots set up like "The Last Supper".
- In the intro to Zack Snyder's Watchmen film, the Minutemen are set up to resemble "The Last Supper" when they celebrate Sally Jupiter's retirement.
- In The Dirty Dozen, the Dozen have a victory feast to celebrate humiliating Colonel Breed in the war games before they go out on their official mission. The table layout fits this trope. Magot was sitting in Judas' spot.
- Highlander: Endgame used this with the Big Bad and his posse-at the end of the scene, he proceeds to behead them all to gain all their power.
- A poster for The Expendables 2 uses it.◊
- A stoner pizza party in Inherent Vice is framed to look like The Last Supper, with Owen Wilson's Coy Harlingen, an innocent party victimized by events, in the center.
- The page image is promotional art for the last season of Battlestar Galactica. It even contains Foreshadowing, as the person who would be occupying the obvious empty space turns out to be important.
- Used in promotional material for the last season of LOST. That would be The Lost Supper. Combine that with As the Good Book Says: Entertainment Weekly Issue #1186 (January 22, 2010) says of the image that "The castaways' imbibing evokes the Bible verse: 'If the dead are not raised: Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die' [1 Corinthians 15:32b; Isaiah 22:13d, NAB]. Which is exactly what was at stake with last season's resurrection-or-bust Jughead cliffhanger."
- Done in two episodes of That '70s Show.
- A promotional photo◊ of House season 4. The Judas-hint variant is played straight, as in Finding Judas.
- The dinner scene at the end of the first series Christmas special of Shameless.
- At one point in Spin City, Michael J. Fox's character finds that a former mentor of his (played by Christopher Lloyd) believes he's the Messiah. Late in the episode, he walks into a meeting room to find that most of the higher-ups are at a table with said crazy mentor, forming a Last Supper with him as Jesus.
- In an episode of Northern Exposure Chris finds himself in one of these in a Dream Sequence.
- Community used this arrangement in the episode "Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples". Abed is Jesus.
- Done in an episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, with Penn as Jesus as he goes around the table, killing the apostles representing the myths of organic farming.
- The X-Files: In "Requiem", a very improbable group of characters appear behind one table at the FBI, discussing very pressing matters of alien abductions. There are of course agents Mulder and Scully, their boss Skinner,conspiracy theorists Lone Gunmen, Mulder's former Mysterious Informant Marita Covarrubias and triple-agent Alex Krycek.
- Aberrant used this in one of the illustrations, which depicts the meeting of the Teragen, a faction of A God Am I mutants.
- The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) has a replica of the painting with cutouts for the heads of twelve disciples. The cutouts come with labels naming the disciples, which helps because there are only two actors to play them and because audiences might not remember St. Louis or St. Bernard being among them.
- Many productions of Jesus Christ Superstar do this with the characters.
- Promotional art for Dragon Age: Inquisition depicts the Inquisitor, with their nine companions and three advisors surrounding them at the table. Interestingly, Solas stands in Judas' spot in the original painting, foreshadowing The Reveal about his true identity.
- The DVD cover of Twelve Ounce Mouse uses fan art of the characters arranged as in "The Last Supper".
- South Park:
- In the episode "Margaritaville", Kyle says he has "this feeling that one of you will totally betray me", and everyone gasps and freezes into Last Supper position.
- In "Fantastic Easter Special", which mimicks Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, Professor Teabag shows Stan and Kyle a portrait of the Last Supper, which looks the same, except that there is a colored egg next to St. Peter, whom Teabag reveals to be a rabbit.
- This was used at the end of the season 16 The Simpsons episode "Thank God It's Doomsday" (where Homer discovers a mathematical equation connected with the end of the world and is sent to Heaven to stop God from carrying out His plan). After Homer discovers that his trip to Heaven was real and Moe's isn't a Japanese restaurant anymore, Homer sits in the center of a group of drunks and the picture freezes to a Last Supper style painting.
- Happened on the Dilbert series, where they thought Wally was God.