Major General Song

The Pirates of Penzance provides a lyric most redoubtable:
The Major General's song therein is reckoned Stock Shout-Out-able,
And Mr. Gilbert's verses, as a vehicle for parody
On many varied themes, are copied with particularity.
To demonstrate the actor's elocution and acuity
For rattling through fast-paced tongue twisters with full perspicuity,
Sir Arthur's tune is catchy, too — though some can't name the latter's song,
It's still become the model of the modern Filk or Patter Song.
It's still become, etc.

Because the tune in question is so very recognizable
To make a Trope about it is a project not despisable—
And to be most laconic, any sort of Made of Win-full song
Is likely to be based upon the Modern Major Gen'ral Song.
And to be most laconic, etc.

The convention in operettas is to title songs by their first line, making the specific song being parodied actually entitled "I Am The Very Model of a Modern Major-General."

Performed by Characters:

  • A Geico commercial has a guy singing the Major General Song, dressed in costume.

Audio Play

  • In tenner's Doctor Who fanfic, "Growing Pains", Doc is captured and experimented on by alien hunters. He fights back by singing this song until they meet his demands. Over and over and over. For days.
  • In Elementals of Harmony, chapter seven has Pinkie Pie sing her own version: "I am the very model of a modern cartoon character." And yes, there is a chorus. Par for the course with ponies, pretty much a hole-in-one with Pinkie.

  • TORN has one about Gandalf here.

Live-Action TV
  • One episode of Babylon 5 has Marcus and Franklin taking a long journey to Mars in the cargo hold of a freighter. After Franklin gets tired of playing Something That Begins with "Boring" (it doesn't take long), Marcus starts singing The Major General Song to pass the time. At the end of the episode, he sings the entire song over the credits in place of the normal music. Near the end of the song, you can hear the crew trying to make him stop. No, not the freighter's crew, the production crew.
  • In the Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip episode "The Cold Open", the cast performs a sketch including a parody of the song: "We'll be the very model of a modern network TV show."
  • The Muppet Show staged a duet of the song with guest host and comedienne Gilda Radner and a seven-foot tall talking carrot. The scene bore an ironic resemblance to another scene in Pirates, as Radner had requested a six-foot tall talking parrot, but was misheard.
    • In the Award Show episode, Scooter employed the tune to list all of the guest stars that had been on the show.
  • David Hyde Pierce's monologue, as host of Saturday Night Live, was a parody of the song.
  • In the Frasier episode "Fathers and Sons", Frasier, Niles and Leland Barton sing the first verse of the song. Martin tries to join in but confuses the lyrics, singing "awful facts about the scary hippopotamus" (instead of "cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse").
  • In the Mad About You episode "Moody Blues," Paul directs a charity production of Penzance starring his father, Burt, as the Major-General. Parts of rehearsal and performance of the song are shown. When the lyrics slip Burt's mind, he improvises a few lines about his son. During The Tag, Paul and Jamie sing a verse about the show's credit roster ("Now the show is over and you can watch the credits roll").
  • Doctor Cox's "Rant Song" from the Scrubs musical episode was based on the Major General's Song according to the creators.
  • Used for Russian spies' elocution lessons in the Britcom Sleepers.
  • Geordi La Forge sings a few lines of it for Dr. Crusher when she's trying to persuade him to audition for her on-board production.
  • Spitting Image did a parody of it with Neil Kinnock, basically to mock the fact that he had a tendency to speak very fast (and whose opponents thought he was speaking a load of rubbish).
  • In a more memorable scene from Home Improvement, Al sings the first verse of it in what he thinks is a soundproof booth. It isn't, and as a result, he recieves a round of a applause when he comes out.
  • In Diagnosis: Murder, Norman Briggs tried out for the role of the Major General, and Dr. Sloan helped him rehearse the Major General song. Briggs ended up playing one of the police officers. Third police officer.

  • An old MAD featuring the Kennedy family in a musical had Dwight D. Eisenhower singing "I am the Very Model of a Modern Former President".

Video Games

Web Original

Western Animation


  • A Fan-made Sorting Hat song lyrics.
  • "I am the Very Model of a disgruntled Harmonian".
  • A rant about the Doctor's policy regarding changing time.
  • With apologies to Neil Gaiman, a version for Vastra from Doctor Who:
    I am the very model of a monster-hunter general
    Whether threats are mundane or ethereal or temporal
    Thanks to the aid of my maid I have slayed them with a katana
    And made a vow until I have repaid the debt on my honour
    I'm happy in my scaly skin, and have a tongue that's prehensile
    Though my tastes in sex and sustenance are difficult to reconcile
    For my bedmate and my breakfast are both sentient mammalians
    (Incidentally, while I'm lizardlike, I'm technically not alien)
    I've been told that I should walk the boards and play a Shakespeare vill-i-an
    But Dickens' London is not ready for an actress so reptilian
    It's a shame because the name that I would gain would be the best I can
    Victorian, Silurian, lesbian, and thespian!
  • Discworld's Rincewind is the very model of a coward fleeing gainfully.
  • Friendship Is Optimal The Law Offices Of Artemis Stella And Beat: Vibrant is the very model of a modern magic unicorn.
  • The fanmade play HMS Dumbledore has Draco Malfoy sing "I am the very model of a future evil overlord".


  • "Please Hello" from Pacific Overtures has the British Captain's part as a parody (all the captains sing in their national "hats").
    "Hello, I come with letters from Her Majesty, Victoria,"
    "Who, hearing how you're trading now, sang Hallelujah, Gloria,"
    "And sent me to convey to you her positive euphoria"
    "As well as little gifts from Britain's various emporia."
  • Dirty Little Showtunes has "I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Homosexual".

Video Games
  • The plot of Iji summarised to the tune of the song: here.
  • Khoodos has performed an eight-minute rendition of all of Pokemon's names from Pokémon to the tune of Tom Lehrer's "The Elements", that being based off of the "Modern Major-General Song".

Web Comics

Web Original