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.
''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...
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.
This might be happening to Batman, if YouTube comments are to be believed.
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.
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).
"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!.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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".
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.
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).
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.
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.
Worse yet, one dance remix of "In The Hall of the Mountain King" has been miscredited on file-sharing services as a remix of the Inspector Gadget theme, despite there being only a very vague similarity between the two songs.
The song was, in reality, written by Norwegian componist Edvard Grieg, to a scene in Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt.
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.
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:
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.
"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.
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."
The tropes of Hulk Hogan are familiar to millions (perhaps even billions!) of people who have never watched a single wrestling match - particularly Hogan's ultra-macho manner of speaking and shirt-ripping.
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.
On the subject of the Lone Ranger and William Tell, this commercial, which references not only The Lone Ranger but another TV ad of the day for Lark Cigarettes.
To those who were too young for The Lone Ranger but old enough to watch a certain incarnation of The Tex Avery Show, and are sadly unfamiliar with the origin of the piece, the tune could bring to mind a montage of zany animation.
"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.
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.
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.
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...culturallyunaware 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.
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 remix is merely really complex, while the actual Death Waltz is impossible to play and entirely unrelated to "U. N. Owen".
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.
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 associate Rhapsody in Blue with 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.
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.
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.
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.