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Pop-Cultural Osmosis

"Welcome to the American Museum of Pop Culture, with artifacts dating as far, far, back... as six months ago."
Joel McHale, The Soup

Classics, almost by definition, are works that are considered to be of high quality, are influential on later works, and are widely known. However, one will often find that only scholars and enthusiasts have first-hand knowledge of the material in question, and that the masses know it either only by title or by homages, parodies, direct references and allusions found in more populist works. Essentially, various bits and pieces of high culture are most widely known through their use in pop culture. Ill-informed people might even think these bits and pieces are original to the popular work, And That's Terrible (nine times out of ten).

Pietŕ Plagiarism exists because of this phenomenon. Most artists would be copying some other usage than the sculpture.

Frequently results in Beam Me Up, Scotty!, It Was His Sled, and Covered Up.

Compare Memetic Mutation, Older Than They Think, Weird Al Effect, Seinfeld Is Unfunny, Small Reference Pools, The Theme Park Version, Repurposed Pop Song, Praising Shows You Don't Watch, Mainstream Obscurity, It Was His Sled.

Contrast Popcultural Osmosis Failure (when someone doesn't get the reference) or Wrongfully Attributed.

Compare/Contrast Pop-Culture Isolation (in which the reference is well-known in one or a few major areas, but virtually unknown elsewhere).

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime/Manga 
  • Fans of Neon Genesis Evangelion can generally sing along with "Fly Me to the Moon" without knowing the original artist, or even one of the dozens of famous American artists who covered it in the four decades before NGE came out.
  • The "Kyuubey's Face" shots - where all you see are his eyes, with the background being the color of his skin - where actually first used for Kero in Card Captor Sakura.

    Comedy 
  • ''A Night at the Opera'' has ruined Il trovatore for many people. Just try to hear the Anvil Chorus without thinking of Chico and Harpo after you've seen it...
    "A battleship in Il trovatore?!!
  • The "Mah Nŕ Mah Nŕ" song does not originate from The Muppet Show, or even Sesame Street, but rather an Italian mondo documentary film set in Sweden.
  • Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain has unfortunately become known as either the theme music for a comic nemesis, or that scene in Fantasia that scarred generations of children.
    • Hey, they stole that from Earthworm Jim!
    • The opening was used in the Maxell "Break The Sound Barrier" ad.
  • "Countin' the Beat" by the Swingers is known to a generation of Australians as the Kmart theme song.
  • Many talk shows cause this, from Rush Limbaugh with "My City Was Gone" by Pretenders, to Rachel Maddow with "Stealing the Stock" from the Oceans Twelve soundtrack.
  • The song called "The Merry Go Round Broke Down" created by Cliff Friend and Dave Franklin is better remembered as the music for the Looney Tunes theme song, Daffy Duck sings a more complete version of the song with different lyrics in "Daffy and Egghead".
  • Eddie Cantor's "Merrily We Roll Along" is better remembered as the Merrie Melodies theme.

    Comic Books 
  • This might be happening to Batman, if YouTube comments are to be believed.
    Random viewer on the Joker from Batman: The Animated Series: That's not the Joker, he doesn't even have the scars!
  • Donald Duck (& Co.). The Disneyverse is simply filled with retold classics, movie and music references and the like, providing lots of kids their first contact with Greek myths, Shakespeare's plays, classical history, etc.

    Film 
  • The 1925 Russian film Bronenosets Potyomkin, usually called Battleship Potemkin in English-language sources, is generally considered hugely influential on later cinema. There is a particular scene set on some stairs leading down to the harbour in Odessa which has been imitated several times, including in The Untouchables and one of the Naked Gun films. It is reasonable to assume that, in modern times at least, more people who are not cineasts will have seen these homages/parodies than have seen the original film.
  • By now, a notable percentage of the people who reference Citizen Kane as a cinema classic and could recognize the opening scene from any one second of footage have actually never seen the film and wouldn't be able to identify any other line, shot or sequence from the whole movie (okay, maybe one).
  • People these days seem to think that "Klaatu Barada Nikto" is that funny nonsense line from Sam Raimi's horror comedy Army of Darkness (1992) (aka The Evil Dead 3). Actually, it's from the black-and white sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), where the sentence is used to stop Gort, the powerful invincible robot of the alien Klaatu, from destroying the Earth as punishment for the humans killing his peaceful master.
  • As famous as the 1932 classic Freaks is, many more people are familiar with the parodies and allusions to its "One of us! One of us!" scene out of context. What's more, in these parodies, the phrase often comes off as threatening, the direct opposite of how it's played in the film (although the recipient sees it as such).
  • Due to his habit of pastiching rather obscure movies, Quentin Tarantino is perhaps responsible for more Popcultural Osmosis than any other mainstream filmmaker.
  • "Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!" Despite being quoted (albeit, incorrectly) and parodied in pop culture for decades, most people have no idea this line is a reference to the Humphrey Bogart film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, often attributing its origins to Blazing Saddles instead. However, without the understanding that the line in the latter film is intended to be a parody of the former, the joke itself does not make sense. (The actual, original quote from the film goes, "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!")
  • The new Star Trek movie has instantly recognizable characters, themes and objects — even for those who have never seen a Star Trek episode in their life.
  • Many people associate the line "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum." with Duke Nukem rather than with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's character in They Live!.
  • The Valkyries rode helicopters (Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries"). Also, the famous scene in Apocalypse Now where Colonel Kilgore says, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning.", is actually a lot longer than people care to remember making it a cause of Beam Me Up, Scotty!.
  • There probably aren't that many people who, thanks to Fantasia, wouldn't think of dinosaurs when listening to "Rite Of Spring".
  • That song that everybody associates with clown cars and elephants? The one that goes doot-doot-doodle-doo-dah-doot-doot-doo-dah? Enter the Gladiators.
    Hypothetical Roman announcer at the Coliseum: And now, in this corner, Brutus the Destroyer! (calliope music)
  • Any time-lapse footage of city life is likely to be a reference to Koyaanisqatsi, either directly or indirectly.
  • You know how the canonical sound of lasers firing is a sort of "pew pew pew" effect? You can thank Ben Burtt, the audio designer for Star Wars, for that. The original sound effect was created by holding a microphone up to a taut wire while hitting the other end.
  • Friday the 13th: Lots of Jason Voorhees expies and parodies have a hockey mask and a chainsaw, despite the "real" Jason not putting the mask on until the third film of the series, and never once using a chainsaw, which probably comes from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
  • Mike Myers' line "You put the wrong emPHAsis on the wrong sylLAble" is the one and only reason View From The Top has any kind of lasting pop cultural significance.
  • Casablanca: Humphrey Bogart never says "Play it again, Sam."
  • Quentin Tarantino put a Shout-Out to the French movie Band Of Outsiders when John Travolta and Uma Thurman's characters dance in Pulp Fiction - however, this has spawned other parodies and IMDb says "someone dances like Travolta" under movie connections.
  • Peter Lorre's voice is recognizable, even to those who have never seen any of his movies. This is due (aside from his unique appearance) to his caricature being used in a number of Looney Tunes shorts.
  • This article, referencing an utterly hilarious Muppet Show sketch, is all about how parodies of Ingmar Bergman films are immediately recognizable, such as Chess with Death, even by people who have never watched any of his films.
  • If you showed most people today stills from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, they'd think it was some sort of Tim Burton thing. See Looks Like Cesare.
  • The word "inception" means the beginning or creation of something. Ever since the film, it's more often used to describe something that's inside something else of the same nature.
  • Psycho - "Psycho" Shower Murder Parody.
  • Most people may recognize Pete Postlethwaite's speech at the end of Brassed Off from the start of the album version of Chumbawamba's Black Sheep Hit "Tubthumping".
  • The infamous "YOU ARE TEARING ME APART, LISA!" line from The Room was actually done as an homage to Rebel Without a Cause. Most people don't know this, and think that it originated in The Room. Additionally, the comments sections of most YouTube uploads of the Rebel Without A Cause scene are flooded with references to The Room.
  • Many people associate scarecrows in media with The Wizard of Oz. A good example is this website.
    • People tend to associate the quote "How do you like them apples?" with Good Will Hunting, when it actually was first used in The Wizard of Oz.

    Literature 
  • The Bible is the grand-daddy of this trope, with sayings like "there's nothing new under the sun" and references to Pillars of Salt and the like existing in almost every medium, though very few people have actually read the Book in question (people who go to Church will have heard excerpts). Saying religious things in Jacobean English, with lots of "thees" and "thous," comes from the King James Bible.
  • "April is the cruellest month" comes from T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land
  • Behind Shakespeare and the Bible, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is probably the biggest sufferer of this trope. The novel draws heavily on contemporary Gothic horror, feminist theories, and Paradise Lost. And yet when most people think of Frankenstein...
    • Frankenstein's monster's skin color is referred to as yellow (jaundiced) in the novel.
  • It's impossible to list all the comic books, novels, fantasy horror movies, roleplaying games, video games, fantasy/Sci-Fi art and music videos that feature blatant rip-offs, allusions, homages, parodies or additions to H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos tales.
    • Most people nowadays likely associate Arkham Asylum with Batman.
    • Problem Sleuth and Homestuck both feature monsters that clearly resemble Lovecraft's elder gods. The author, Andrew Hussie, has outright stated that he's never read a word of Lovecraft, and based his monsters entirely on secondhand references to the Cthulhu mythos.
  • You've probably encountered the tropes the Horatio Hornblower series popularized long before you ever heard of the series itself.
    • And that obscure little work of fiction got a Shout-Out in the episode "Smile Time" of Angel, with a purple stuffed thing that communicates via a horn on its face named Ratio. It's likely you didn't get the joke.
  • "Ask not for whom the bell tolls." You've heard that pithy phrase, usually said when someone else is in trouble, but who said it? How about "No man is an island" ? Well, they both came from the same paragraph of the the same essay, but missing the context.
    "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
    —Excerpted from Meditation XVII by John Donne (1623 - he was contemplating his own death at the time)
  • The Jekyll & Hyde trope is significantly more popular than The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the novel that spawned it. When many people think of Jekyll and Hyde, their notions are colored by the adaptations — including "adaptations" like The Incredible Hulk.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - 42 is the Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
  • Casabianca: "The boy stood on the burning deck/Whence all but he had fled..."
    • This reference has become somewhat coloured by various transformations into a dirty schoolyard-esque song, such as those known by Nanny Ogg in the Discworld novels. All that need be known (and is indeed given) is that the opening lines are 'The boy stood on the burning deck/His name was Henry Rollocks' and that it starts out 'harmless enough'.
  • Many associate "The game's afoot" with Sherlock Holmes, but it's actually from Henry V
  • Most of Lewis Carroll's songs and rhymes in the Alice in Wonderland books were parodies of once-common Victorian standards which, with the exception of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and the possible exception of "The Spider and the Fly", are considered obscure trivia by most modern readers.
  • Most people know the phrase "water water everywhere but not a drop to drink", but hardly anybody knows that it came from Samuel Coleridge's Rime Of The Ancient Mariner or that the original wording was "nor any drop to drink".
  • Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates: Everyone knows the tale of the little boy who prevented a flood by sticking his finger inside a dyke, except that—you know what?—it's a Story Within a Story.
  • Used for a joke in the Confederation of Valor series. The Taykan species are Space Elves. Thanks to popcultural osmosis from humans, they're well aware of their physical similarity to classical elves and apparently find the comparison amusing: Torin Kerr once met a di'Taykan named Celeborn.
  • Of Mice and Men is clearly about a big guy named Lenny and a little guy named George, and absolutely nothing else, if all the references to those characters in various sources is any indication.
  • The Satanic Verses: Most people know more about the blasphemy controversy around this novel than that they've actually read it. Including many Muslim fundamentalists who want Salman Rushdie dead.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus has done a similar takeover of John Philip Sousa's march The Liberty Bell.
  • Iron Chef fans may not realize the original theme music, and indeed much of the incidental music, was from the movie soundtrack for Back Draft.
  • Pop culture even has a habit of obscuring itself. Adam Savage of MythBusters is frequently credited for the quote, "I reject your reality and substitute my own!" Actually, the line originated from the 1985 So Bad, It's Good film The Dungeonmaster (Ragewar outside of the US).
  • More people know "The Ballad of Brisco County, Jr." from NBC's coverage of the Olympics than from the original show.
  • Most people not familiar with Power Rangers will simply refer to characters as "The Red Ranger" and "The Pink Ranger" etc. What they don't realise is that, as of February 2013, there have been no less than 26 different Red Rangers, with many more off-screen, and a few more debatable ones.
  • The Twilight Zone is better known through parodies these days to the point where many people know the endings to famous episodes without ever seeing them.

    Music 
  • Everything by John Philip Sousa has become used in commercials and TV shows without much understanding behind them. Most notably the The Washington Post March and The Stars & Stripes Forever.
  • A large proportion of British people hearing In The Hall Of The Mountain King would be surprised to find out that it wasn't, in fact, written as the Alton Towers theme song.
  • Similarly, the first movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata is better known to many 8-bit-era gamers as "the title music to Jet Set Willy".
  • Play the Russian folk song "Korobeiniki" to anyone in the world, except Russians, and they are almost certain to identify it as video game music. Specifically, the Tetris theme.
  • The song "Anything Goes" actually does not come from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It's an authentic show tune of the period (from a Cole Porter musical of the same name) and, by the way, normally sung in English.
  • Likewise, "Puttin' on the Ritz" did not originate from Young Frankenstein. Similarly, its close musical cousin, concerning the naming history of Istanbul, was not originally by They Might Be Giants.
    • For that matter, "Puttin' on the Ritz" was not originally performed by Fred Astaire he just sang it in Blue Skies.
      • In case you were wondering it was originally performed by Harry Richman in the film of "Puttin' on the Ritz" (you would think the name was a dead give away).
    • You mean, it wasn't an '80's hit by Taco?
  • Many people know the "Love Theme" from Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture only from its use in innumerable TV shows (South Park, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) and movies (Wayne's World, Clueless) to show that someone has fallen in Love at First Sight.
    • Oh! You mean the romantic kiss song from the first The Sims game?
  • Just try listening to "Hoedown" from Aaron Copland's Rodeo without thinking "Beef: It's What's For Dinner."
    • Or Emerson, Lake And Palmer.
  • The BBC's use of Booker T. & The MGs', "Soul Limbo". Also known as the Cricket music.
    • Fleetwood Mac's outro to "The Chain", otherwise known as the Formula One Racing music.
  • Singin' in the Rain did this to most of the songs in the movie, most notably the title tune which was a standard song to be sung by aspiring actors in film in the '20s, '30s and '40s.
    • Considering the film's producer, Arthur Freed, wrote or co-wrote MOST if not all of those songs for MGM in the post-sound era of film and commissioned the screenwriters to base a musical around that catalogue, it doesn't necessarily remove those songs from their original context.
  • Ke$ha's "Take it Off" is a pop version of "The Streets of Cairo" (usually associated with snake-charming in pop-culture).
    • Istanbul Not Constantinople made good use of its signature five-and-seven.
  • Like the aforementioned Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple, there are some other classic rock songs with their sound familiar to a lot of "uninitiated" people by exposure through radio, commercials etc. Tracks like Break On Through to the Other Side by The Doors, Jammin by Music/Bo Marley, Born to Be Wild (from the soundtrack of the film Easy Rider) by Steppenwolf.
  • Know what the song "Spybreak!" sounds like? What if I told you you it's the song that plays during the lobby shootout scene in The Matrix? If you already did, did you even know who the Propellerheads were before you did the research? Said movie came out two years after the song.
  • The song "Surfin' Bird" by The Trashmen has been greatly popularized through its use in other shows:
    • It was played in the Family Guy episode "I Dream of Jesus". Just take a look at this graph.
    • That small peak in 2004 coincides with the release of Battlefield Vietnam, which for a fair few gamers might be the thing they associate with the song.
    • Pee-wee Herman performed it in Back To The Beach.
    • Spanish speaking viewers however may have found out about the song earlier back when it was sometimes played during the credits of Ah, qué Kiko (a spinoff of El Chavo del ocho).
    • And the two people who watched CBS's saturday morning lineup in the 1998-99 season would know it from Birdz.
    • Exploitation Film fans would associate with an infamous scene of Pink Flamingos.
  • How many people under 25 or so can hear "The Final Countdown" without thinking of Arrested Development?
    • People from the Detroit Area have a different reaction to The Final Countdown, mostly identifying it as "The Pistons Intro Song."
    • Saints Row 2 fans will identify it as that awesome 80s song that will never, ever, ever, ever leave their head.
    • Also used in How To Kill A Mockingbird.
  • Utter the line "Right here, right now", and nearly anyone with associate it with Fat Boy Slim's song of that name, not the movie (Strange Days) it's sampled from.
  • For a certain generation in Britain, the lyrics to O Sole Mio will forever be "Just one Cornetto! Give it to meeeeee!"
  • Many Americans are undoubtedly familiar with "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here." Considerably fewer might be aware of the fact that the tune is from a Pirates of Penzance ditty called "Come, Friends Who Plow the Sea."
  • The "Polovetsian Dances" from Alexander Borodin's opera Prince Igor tend to be more commonly associated with Kismet and a certain Pine-Sol commercial these days.
  • Zillions of certain musical lines, hooks, beats and intros have been sampled and covered so much that you would be surprised to know how old these songs are.
  • The nursery tune "Pop! Goes The Weasel" was originally a piece of dance music that was popular in London dance-halls and American stage acts in the 1850s, and as a playground singing-game for kids dancing in circles. Nowadays, it's irrevocably associated with Jack-in-the-Boxes, to the point where such a toy playing any other tune feels like a Subverted Trope.
  • Also Sprach Zarathustra. Ever since 2001: A Space Odyssey it's a Standard Snippet for Mundane Made Awesome.
  • "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life" has become such a popular standard that some first time viewers of Monty Python's Life of Brian will laugh when the characters sing this song, because they assume the Pythons are simply covering a well known song. In reality it was completely written by Python member Eric Idle.
  • In Brazil, "Il Guarany" is forever associated with a statal news radio program that plays on week nights. Even if the show now uses somewhat laughable "updated versions".

    Mythology 
  • Happens to Norse Mythology. No, Loki is not Thor's brother (technically he is Thor's uncle) nor he is he the ultimate evil (his wickedness depends on where and by whom the myth was recorded) nor is he Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. Loki is not a "god of fire"; in fact, the sources does not openly state what the Norse gods actually are gods of - while the domain of certain gods like Thor is obvious, others are not. Thor is also not stated to be blonde; the closest thing to any sort of indicator of apperance is the kenning (nickname) "Red-Thor" which supposedly points to Thor being a ginger (you are screwed South Park). The terms "ice giants" or "frost giants" were never used by Norse pagans; they sometimes refered to certain giants as "Hrimthurses" (Frost thurses).

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: In the 10th Anniversary Collection, Bill Watterson admits that he's "not at all familiar with Film Noir or detective novels", so the stories featuring Calvin's Hard Boiled Detective alter ego Tracer Bullet are "just spoofs on the clichés of the genre."

    Professional Wrestling 

    Radio 
  • An example so classic, jokes about it pre-date the concept of this trope: a wit from the 1960s noted this definition of a "longhair" (a person of culture): "he can hear the William Tell Overture and not think of the Lone Ranger." The piece of music referred to is from the Rossini Opera William Tell. The dramatic fanfare and thundering string section from the overture was used as the theme music for The Lone Ranger radio drama and then in movies and on television.
  • "The Shadow knows". Yeah, great, what does that mean, exactly? The full line goes "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!". The Shadow is a psychic and fights crime by implanting the suggestion in a person's head that he's invisible, so he can eavesdrop a lot.

    Theater 
  • Various bits from the works of William Shakespeare have been quoted, parodied, imitated and plagiarized too many times to count. Particularly notable are cases in which Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy is confused with the "Alas, poor Yorick" one, leading to an actor reciting the former while holding the prop skull that belongs in the latter. There's a fair amount of Beam Me Up, Scotty! at work, too: "Alas poor Yorick, I knew him" often has a "well" added to the end in pop culture.
    • Orsino's opening line of "If music be the food of love, play on," from Twelfth Night is often assumed to be quite romantic and/or demonstrative of a love of art. Very few include the rest of the quote: "Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,/The appetite may sicken, and so die."
    • A particularly egregious example is the way in which Juliet's speech "Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" usually has a spurious comma added after the "thou", completely changing the meaning. "Wherefore" actually stands in the same relationship to "therefore" as "where" does to "there"; it doesn't mean "where", it means "why". Juliet is not wondering where Romeo is as commonly supposed, but is speaking to him and asking the reason for his name. (Sounds weird the first time you hear it, but it becomes cleat what she means: "Why did the man I fell in love with have to be Romeo Montague, probably my father's last choice on earth of son-in-law?")
      • Also, the name of the play being used to mean an ideal romance other than the ludicrously over-emotional and too-fast mess that the play portrays it as.
    • Romeo And Juliet itself is not a Shakespeare original, but based on an even older Italian novella. Few of Shakespeare's plays (possibly none) had original plots.
      • This makes it even funnier to watch the bits in Shakespeare in Love where Will is trying to work out how the story will end.
    • 'Now is the winter of our discontent' is often said as a negative rather than the happy occasion it is 'made glorious summer by this sun of York"
      • As Richard is the one who says the line, it is rather bitter/sarcastic
  • Gilbert And Sullivan's "I am the very model of a modern major general" has been spoofed in so many cartoons, movies, and what have you, that everyone recognizes it, several people don't realize this until it's referenced in Mass Effect 2.
  • How many people quote lines from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's play Faust and especially the following Faust II (Faust, der Tragödie Zweiter Teil) without knowing where it's originally from?
  • Similarly, many people have heard this line from Christopher Marlowe's The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus: "Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships." However, many people today only know it from the Star Trek episode "The Squire of Gothos", some snarky comments about metaphors in Discworld novels, and/or Shakespeare in Love.
  • Actor Gustaf Gründgens' famous performances as Mephisto, with sinister stark white make-up, black eye shadow and sharply upturned eyebrows, have definitely influenced later despictions of the devil in visual media.
  • Spring Awakening is only thought by many people to be a musical set in 1890s Germany, unless they actually look into it at all and find the original Frank Wedekind play on which it is based.
  • Look up any YouTube video for "Seasons of Love", and you will see an overwhelming number of comments about how people sang it for choir/graduation/etc. and didn't know it was from Rent.

    Video Games 
  • You've heard the Tetris theme song, right? Well, turns out it's actually a Russian folk song called "Korobeiniki", and is only really associated with Tetris outside of Russia. The association is so strong, the otherwise public domain song has become a trademark of Tetris within the video game industry.
  • World of Warcraft is absolutely the king of this, being both Troperrific and jam-packed with shout outs to damn near everything under the sun. From music/bands, novels, films and TV shows, and other video games, from the popular to the extremely obscure, if you name a piece of media, chances are pretty good that WoW has referenced it. This naturally leads to a great deal of Older Than They Think, particularly for the younger and more...culturally unaware in the fandom. This even applies to the Warcraft franchise itself, since the MMO contains many mythology gags which are shout outs to the older RTS games, and other Blizzard games. Just look at this list for examples. Beyond the references, gameplay elements themselves are victims to this, since WoW is the 800 lb gorilla of the MMO genre. Fandumb often accuses other games of "ripping off" WoW features, when those other games had them first.
    • Similarly with Starcraft when Dawn of War came out there were plenty of Starcraft fans accusing it of ripping off Starcraft.
      • Interesting example in that Dawn of War's source material is older than Starcraft, but its gameplay mechanic is not, making this Fan Dumb half of the time.
      • ...except that the mechanics they share are basic elements of the genre that were invented in Dune II by Westwood, and the two are as far apart in gameplay as two RTSs can be.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Many people didn't know what an ocarina was before this game was released. They were fairly popular in Japan before the game was released, but in 1998, ocarina makers were suddenly inundated with orders for sweet potato (aka transverse) ocarinas. No, the little four-hole wooden ones wouldn't do. They had to be the 10-hole ceramic kind. And they had to be blue. Many music stores were sold out and couldn't figure out why.
  • Many Western gamers assume that Guitar Freaks (or any long-running Japanese rhythm game) ripped off Guitar Hero. Guitar Freaks has been around since 1999; Guitar Hero wasn't released until 2005.
  • People unfamiliar with the Touhou series will automatically assume that "U.N. Owen was her?" is called "McRolled" all thanks to a viral video much to the annoyance of fans who hate that name.
    • Even worse, someone posted a remix of "U.N. Owen Was Her?" as John Stump's "Death Waltz", causing much confusion between both songsnote .
  • The main character in Pokémon Red and Blue is named Red. But he's often called Ash by people more familiar with the anime. Similarily, his rival Blue is referred to as "Gary".
  • This is pretty common in Super Mario World ROM hacks and Mario fan games in general since some of the more well known ones use resources from obscure Japanese RPGs people likely haven't heard of (Romancing SaGa, Live A Live and Seiken Densetsu 3 being some examples) and as a result some people tend to associate said resources with the fan game/hack rather than the original SNES one. Such as how many people don't know that things like the Mirage Palace and Dark Castle are from Seiken Densetsu 3 and not Brutal Mario, or that the 7 Koopalings boss is a parody of the final boss in Romancing SaGa 2. This can lead to awkwardness if people assume any resources from these games are plagarised.
  • Not everyone realises that virtually every significant character, all the enemy designs and much of the character backstories of Ōkami are taken straight from Japanese mythology.
    • And a lot of the characters and events from Samurai Warriors and its crossover spinoff Pokémon Conquest are if not actually accurate then very representative of events in real-life Sengoku-period Japan.

    Western Animation 
  • Many famous pieces of classical music have been hijacked by Disney, Looney Tunes and other (usually older) animated sequences, and are many people's only exposure to such works. Many people still have the urge to sing "Kill the Wa-bbit" along to Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries", thanks to Elmer Fudd's memorable version in the classic Bugs Bunny short What's Opera, Doc? And the use of a romanticized version of the Pilgrims' Chorus when Bugs enters on horseback, dressed as Brunnhilde, and fools Elmer/Thor (he used the same entrance, music and disguise with equal success against Hermann Goerring in a wartime cartoon).
    • 30 Rock had an episode where it's revealed Liz's cell phone ringtone is "Ride of the Valkyries", resulting in this exchange:
      Phoebe: Oh, you like Wagner.
      Liz: No, I like Elmer Fudd.
    • Looney Tunes also stole heavily from "The William Tell Overture" by Rossini, to the point where almost every major theme in the piece has been used in some cartoon. For a lot of those, it's via another reference—see below.
      • And Rossini suffers again in Rabbit of Seville, this time with the overture for the Barber of Seville.
    • How many people can listen to Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody no.2 and not be thinking of a cartoon at the same time?
      • Dance of the Reed Flutes: Are you thinking of Cadbury's Fruit and Nut or Lemmings?
      • Similar to the above with Dance of The Sugar-Plum Fairy for Tetris - although "Korobeiniki" (see further down this page) is even more strongly associated with it.
      • Before Fantasia 2000, most people would (and still do) associate "Rhapsody in Blue" as the theme song of United Airlines.
      • The Theme from Peter Gunn was composed for the TV series Peter Gunn, in 1958.
      • Felix Mendelssohn's "Spring Song" has probably been heard and remembered more from old cartoons than from the concert hall or recordings.
    • Likewise, if you've heard of the turn-of-the-century song "Hello, Ma Baby", it was probably from One Froggy Evening.
      • Or perhaps even Spaceballs, which seems to have used it in reference to One Froggy Evening. It's even the same recording of the song!
    • Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse" is inextricably linked to assembly-line montages thanks to Looney Tunes.
    • Can anyone today even hear the English title of Verdi's Coro di zingari — a.k.a. the "Anvil Chorus" — and not think of Looney Tunes characters dropping anvils on one another? The actual song is about gypsies arising at dawn for their day's work, and looking forward to wine and women later on.
    • You know the theme song to the old Road Runner cartoons? That's actually the Dance of the Comedians from Smetana's "Bartered Bride". See for yourself.
    • Wile E Coyote comes from Native American Mythology.
    • How about The Merry Go Round Broke Down for the Looney Tunes theme song?
    • The character Foghorn Leghorn was based on the character Beauregard Claghorn, from Fred Allen's Allen's Alley radio program.
  • "Sing, Sing, Sing", originally by Louis Prima, played most famously by Benny Goodman, is known to a whole generation of eighteen-to-twenty-somethings as "the Chips Ahoy song".
    • "Sing, Sing, Sing" seems to be the stock music used to evoke '30s swing jazz.
    • "Poet and Peasant Overture'' is another piece of background music used a lot in Looney Tunes. It was also used in the Animaniacs cartoon "Potty Emergency".
  • Woody Woodpecker's laugh is so universally recognized, that some people even forget where the Annoying Laugh to rule them all came from in the first place.
  • Some young adults are reminded of Hey Arnold! when they hear music from Carmen, Pagliacci, or "Ride of the Valkyries" thanks to the episode "What's Opera Arnold"?
    • The name of episode itself is a shout out to the well known Bugs Bunny episode "What's Opera Doc?", and it also contains a parody of Elmer's infamous "spear and magic helmet" line.
  • The animated Saturday morning show The Smurfs used nothing but clips of classical music for mood and theme setting.
  • Futurama has an example in the boy from the pair of Victorian dressed Street Urchin children who are recurring characters. They are clearly meant to evoke Charles Dickens, as his crutch is identical to that famously used by A Christmas Carol's Tiny Tim, although what the writers seem to have missed was that Tiny Tim was not one of Dickens' urchin characters. Then again, it's Futurama; it was probably on purpose.
    • Lampshaded again in Futurama, as the Fungineers who designed the Moon Landing 'historical' recreation with singing whale hunters as astronauts have certainly gotten their historical facts through popcultural osmosis.
      • Fungineering as a whole seems to be based on a massive foundation of Memetic Mutation.
    • Not many fans outside America (or at least some outside Nixon's generation) remember that Spiro Agnew was an actual person, let alone one of Nixon's Vice Presidents.
    • Another one from Futurama is simply the theme song. Most people associate it with the series, but it's actually just a slightly tweaked version of part of the Maurice Béjart ballet Mass for our time. The original was written back in 1967 by experimental composer Pierre Henry and is entitled "Psyche Rock".
  • Speaking of Fantasia, there's likely not a soul on Earth who doesn't associate "L'apprenti sorcier" by Paul Dukas with Mickey Mouse.
    • Or take "Dance of the Hours" from Ponchielli's ballet La Gioconda. When you hear it, you'll either think of the dancing hippos from Fantasia, or you'll start singing, "Hello Muddah, hello Fadduh, here I am at Camp Granada..." (Allan Sherman's well-known funny song). Or both.
  • The "Me Love You Long Time" from the hooker in Full Metal Jacket have been incorrectly credited to both Family Guy and South Park.
    • People of a certain age will probably first think of the 2 Live Crew song "Me So Horny".
      • Or Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back", which similarly references the line.
  • Ren and Stimpy's music for that show was made up almost entirely of classical and jazz music.
    • Ren & Stimpy closely associate Raymond Scott's "The Toy Trumpet" with the army. The tune has been heard just everywhere, but no one can even place it: [1]
  • Many kids today will hear old Hawaiian standards only to think they first came from SpongeBob SquarePants or Lilo & Stitch.
  • In the Henry and June segments on KaBlam!, kids might think that the ska background music originated from the show, but they're really just instrumental versions of songs by The Toasters.
  • As the page image shows, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will make sure every teacher talking about the Renaissance will have a joke regarding Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarotti, Donato di Niccolň di Betto Bardi, and Raphael Sanzio.;
    Narrator (after four masked turtles hop out of a sewer pipe): I'm afraid popular culture as successfully eradicated the actual identities of the true poets of art. In my opinion, it stinks!...And now for a brief reality check. Michelangelo was a brilliant artist. Not a turtle.
    • Speaking of Animaniacs, Humoreske was a romantic piano piece composed in 1839, but most 90s kids call it the "Slappy Squirrel Theme".
  • Due to the penchant most voice actors had for impersonations, many young viewers were able to recognize the voices of famous actors and celebrities long before they had any idea of who they were.
  • The slow motion walk in Monsters, Inc. is often misattributed to Armageddon, instead of The Right Stuff.
  • In one episode of South Park, Mr. Garrison is brought before a disciplinary committee for his actions from a previous episode. When they review just what he's done for the 3rd grade education, one of them notes he hasn't even taught the kids about Samuel Adams, leading a confused Garrison to ask "Well who cares about a guy who makes beer?!", referencing the fact that most people are probably more familiar with the alcohol brand over the one of the founding fathers of the country.
  • What people used to think of when they heard the phrase: "The Snow Queen": "Oh, that fairy-tale by Hans Christian Andersen." What many (especially the younger generation who never heard of the original) are starting to think of now: "Let it go, let it go..."

    Real Life: Locations 
  • Certain regions, cities and towns are only famous to the general public because of their association with a certain novel, film, song or other work of art. Some people, usually not the inhabitants of the place themselves, may even be amazed that these places actually exist!

    • Alexanderplatz, Berlin: The novel and film Berlin Alexanderplatz
    • Antwerp, Belgium: The Japanese know it for A Dog of Flanders.
    • Avignon, France: The song "Sur le pont d' Avignon".
    • Baker Street, London, Great Britain: Supposedly the address of Sherlock Holmes.
    • Barcelona, Spain: The song "Barcelona" by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé.
    • Beersel, Belgium: Has become famous in Flanders and the Netherlands for the Suske en Wiske album De schat van Beersel (The treasure of Beersel).
    • Bremen, Germany: The fairytale The Bremen Town Musicians
    • Bretagne, France: This region has a strong association with the comic strips Astérix and Bécassine.
    • Bruges/Brugge, Belgium: The film In Bruges and the Jacques Brel song Marieke where the girl Marieke is loved between the towers of Bruges (Brugge) and Gand (Gent).
    • Casablanca, Morocco: Casablanca
    • Copacabana, Brazil: The song Copacabana by Barry Manilow.
    • Corleone, Sicily, Italy: The Godfather
    • Dallas, Texas, USA: Dallas
    • Damme, Belgium: The birth place of Till Eulenspiegel
    • El Paso, USA: The song El Paso by Marty Robins.
    • Fargo: The film Fargo, which, by the way, doesn't even take place in Fargo!
    • Frankenstein Castle (Burg Frankenstein), Darmstadt, Germany: Frankenstein
    • Gand/Gent, Belgium: The Jacques Brel song Marieke where the girl Marieke is loved between the towers of Bruges (Brugge) and Gand (Gent).
    • Green Gables, Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, Canada: Anne of Green Gables.
    • Hameln, Germany: The Pied Piper of Hamelin
    • Ipanema, Brazil: The song The Girl From Ipanema.
    • Köpenick, Germany: "The Captain von Köpenick".
    • Nottingham, England: Robin Hood
    • Nürnberg, Germany: Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg
    • Olympus, Greece: Mount Olympus where, according to Greek Mythology, the gods live.
    • Penny Lane, Liverpool, Great Britain: The Beatles song Penny Lane.
    • Prague, Czech Republic: The Golem
    • Route 66, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA: The song "Route 66".
    • San José, USA: The song Do You Know The Way To San José?
    • Seville, Spain: The Barber of Seville.
    • Shaolin Temple, China: Known from countless martial arts movies.
    • Sleepy Hollow, New York, USA: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
    • South Park, Colorado USA: South Park
    • St. Louis, USA: The jazz standard St. Louis Blues.
    • Tipperary, Ireland: The song It's a long way to Tipperary.
    • Tollembeek,Belgium: Known in Flanders and the Netherlands from the comic strip Urbanus.
    • Torquay, England: Known as the location of Fawlty Towers.
    • Trannsylvania, Romania: The home province of Dracula.
    • Trenchtown, Jamaica: Immortalized in Bob Marley's song Trenchtown Rock.
    • Vermont, USA: The song Moonlight in Vermont.
    • Verona, Italy: The hometown of Romeo and Juliet
    • Vésoul, France: From the Jacques Brel song.
    • Vienna (Wien), Austria: Geschichte aus der Wienerwald (Tales from the Vienna Woods) by Johann Strauss.

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alternative title(s): Pop Culture; Popculture Osmosis
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