Parody of Evolution

And it took you thousands of years to notice?

Being something of a hot topic, evolution has been a popular target for satire and parody.

The easiest way to do this (Type 1) is to take Rudolph Zallinger's illustration: March of Progress and draw something else over it. Instant Parody!

The other way to do it (Type 2) is a montage of creatures morphing into each other. This type is more common in animation.

Considering what we now know of Ardipithecus ramidus, this trope is an example of Science Marches On; chimpanzees and gorillas probably developed knuckle-walking after their genetic split from human beings.

"March of Progress" rehashes

  • One of the images shown when you complete the Super Smash Bros. Melee single-player mode with Donkey Kong is four DKs and one Samus arranged like this.
  • Most covers for Darwin Awards books have spoofs on this concept, usually with the "evolved" man suffering a comically fatal injury like being crushed under a safe or falling off a cliff.
  • Seen in Ice Age, with Sid the Sloth as the apex.
  • Transhumanists, fans of the famous futurist Ray Kurzweil and other supporters of the technological singularity are often seen wearing shirts with a cyborg or robot coming after the upright human as the next logical step in evolution of mankind will be likely deliberate and a result of humans augmenting themselves with artificial biological and technological components.
  • A common piece of graffiti in Half-Life 2 shows the usual, three part progression; but a fourth part shows a human-turned-combine that looks much like the second part.
  • The Far Side did this, going from monkey to hunched ape-man to neanderthal to seven-foot-tall muscular giant-jawed shaved Rahan-type man to short wimpy Bob from Accounting-looking guy waiting at the bus stop.
  • The two "Myth Evolution" episodes of MythBusters used a cartoon of this on the initial blueprint shot.
  • A common parody has the last man sitting down at a computer, hunched over his keyboard. Variations also include being fatter and slightly smaller, but carrying a coke can instead of a spear.
  • Another common parody is to show a man slumped and wearing a backward cap, with the "evolved" human saying that humanity screwed up and that it's going backward
  • As shown in this Lab Initio.
  • The title card of an episode of Fairly OddParents has this, with the last person as Mr. Crocker.
  • The Descent of Nintendo.
  • The cover of Dumb and Dumberer.
  • The inside front cover of The Now Show Book Of Records shows Jon Holmes as hunched ape-man, Steve Punt as neanderthal and Hugh Dennis as modern man. The inside back cover shows them in reverse (obviously, Dennis has to hunch a lot more than Holmes does).
    • On an episode of Mock the Week, while the players were standing around waiting for "Scenes We'd Like To See" to start, Frankie Boyle, Hugh Dennis and Greg Davies reenacted the picture. Frankie (the shortest) was completely hunched over at the back, while the incredibly tall Greg was at the front.
  • A caricature parodying evolution in the different parts of the world, depicts Evolution in Korea using the original sequence, but including a Hydralisk at the end.
    • The same is done for Japan, but the Hydralisk is replaced with a Gundam
  • This picture about the HD remake of arcade classic Toki.
  • Used in this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal strip (and shirt.)
  • The Supertramp album cover for Brother Where You Bound is a multi-colored straight example, but the inside artwork shows an Abbey Road Crossing pose by the members of the band, all not too dissimilar to how the "man" figure is walking.
  • The the album The Evolution of Robin Thicke features this in both its cover and name.
  • Discworld:
    • The vampire-themed edition of the Discworld Diaries contains an illustration of the evolution of Igors. It starts with a normal-looking human butler and gets progressively more hunched and grotesque with each subsequent image.
    • Mentioned in The Science of Discworld where the picture is compared to someone getting out of bed in the morning. The wizards who are looking at the picture state that the ape/human's main achievement is getting from one side of the page to the other without showing any genitalia.
  • The "Ascent of Bot" from the Futurama episode "A Clockwork Origin".
  • The cover of MAD #238. The most short and simian version of Alfred E. Neuman has a thought bubble saying, "What... me furry?"
  • Cracked's #14 Science Lesson As Taught by Famous Video Games has an allusion to "March of Progress" done with game sprites from successive console generations.
  • A Fun T-Shirt (worn by one of the sign-holders in Mitch Benn's "Proud of the BBC" video - appropriately enough the one holding the sign for The Ascent Of Man) has the line of protohumans on the Abbey Road zebra crossing.
  • An advertising billboard depicted, after Homo sapiens, a silhouette of a brutish, ogre-like humanoid holding a rifle in one hand, and holding the Homo sapiens on a leash.
  • A T-shirt design for a Threadless competition to create a The Muppets shirt shows the evolution of Kermit - starting with a green coat and a couple of ping-pong balls.


  • The Simpsons did it on the season 18 episode "Homerazzi" note  parodies this (showing Homer as a single-celled organism and progressing through many pre-historic and historic eras until he enters the present and comes home to Marge, who asks him, "What took you so long?" note ) in what is now considered the longest (and, in some viewers' eyes, the most epic) Couch Gag to date.
  • The Dilbert television intro.
  • Garfield: His Nine Lives used this in the first chapter.
  • The Music Video for Fatboy Slim's "Right Here, Right Now".
  • In Howard the Duck, Phil Blumburtt presents a series of still images of the evolution of sapient ducks as a theory of Howard's origin; the first image is an egg.
  • Guinness's "Noitulove" (aka "Rhythm of Life") commercial, as the name suggests, shows backward evolution.
  • An animation short mixed the two, showing primates evolving into men in the exact position as the March of Progress image, only to revert to a hunched-over Three-point Football stance.
  • One version of Humans had an intro scene that animated evolution among the various pre-human periods. The penultimate was a tall, large creature wearing sneakers, pants, and a shirt, and took a bite from an apple in a tree. This form then morphs into a human.
  • One of the glitched creatures you can catch in the original Pokémon will result in a series of impossible evolutions.
  • The Adding Machine has a version of this in dialogue, when Charles is telling Mr. Zero what his forthcoming reincarnation means in terms of the evolutionary process:
    "For millions of years the nebulous gases swirled in space. For more millions of years the gases cooled and then through inconceivable ages they hardened into rocks. And then came life. Floating green things on the waters that covered the earth. More millions of years and a step upward—an animate organism in the ancient slime. And so on—step by step, down through the ages—a gain here, a gain there—the mollusk, the fish, the reptile, then mammal, man! And all so that you might sit in the gallery of a coal mine and operate the super-hyper-adding machine with the great toe of your right foot!"
  • Used very, very strangely in Oggy and the Cockroaches: The Movie. In the intro, Oggy evolves from a microbe into a cat. The problem? He evolved straight from a fish into a cat. However, the earlier segments are somewhat more accurate, which he evolved into a Pikaia (?) and then an early fish.