troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Uncle Sam Wants You

The famous World War I-era poster of the Anthropomorphic Personification of the United States of America imploring young men to enlist in the military by Giving Someone the Pointer Finger. The famous American poster, created by J.M. Flagg (no kidding) in 1917, is actually based on a British poster from several years earlier, featuring Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener and the famous legend "Your Country Needs YOU".

It is yet another common Art Imitates Art situation, the most popular subversion of which is to use the pose as an anti-war protest instead. Other parodies substitute Uncle Sam entirely with some other character wanting you to do whatever they want, whether it is to join some other war effort, to go about with some form of community service, or simply "to shut up".

Compare Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You.

Examples:

Comic Books

Film
  • In Across the Universe, when Max goes in for his Army medical exam, the Beatles song "I Want You" is used, and he hallucinates the poster coming to life, trying to grab him.
  • From the Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical song "Tell 'Em the Truth": "Let every sir and ma'am / Obey their Uncle Sam / That famous finger's set to point / I want you to drop that joint!"
  • Right on the cover of Uncle Sam: "I want you... DEAD!"
  • In Rocky, before the final fight, as part of his all-American act, Apollo Creed is dressed like this and points to the people in the ring and the audience shouting "I want you".
  • During the USO montage in Captain America: The First Avenger, one of the posters encouraging Americans to buy war bonds features Cap replacing Uncle Sam on the iconic poster. The Uncle Sam poster itself appears during the end credits.
  • In Daybreakers, posters featuring an Uncle Sam with fangs implores citizens to "Capture Humans."

Live-Action TV
  • On The Bob Newhart Show everyone (except Mr Carlin) shows up to Howard's Bicentenial Party as Uncle Sam. Including Carol.
  • Referenced in The Young Ones episode "Boring", where Kitchener from the poster comes to life, sorta, but sits like a waxwork.
  • Frasier. Frasier is dressed as Uncle Sam in Crock Tales.
    Frasier: Dad, I bought you these headphones, so that I wouldn't be subjected to your sports drivel. Please put them on.
    Martin: All right, I will. But only if you say it.
    (Frasier sighs and points his finger at Martin.)
    Frasier: I WANT YOU... to wear those headphones!
  • One cover of American Dream has titular character replacing Uncle Sam at the poster.
  • An episode of Arrested Development featured Annyong (Lucille's adopted Korean son) taking on this role for an aggressively patriotic school pageant.
    Annyong: I do it. I play Uncle Sam. Better than the part I have now. Guy who order strike on Pearl Harbor.
  • In one episode of Boy Meets World, Cory and Shawn are riding the subway and they get freaked out when they notice that right behind them is a poster of their principal Mr. Feeny pointing at them with the text "I want you to STAY IN SCHOOL."
  • The trope is also referenced in Growing Pains when Ben Seavor, shortly after Mike Seavor's arrest for a protest to reinstate the coach of the school, tells the family that various relatives are calling him about the event, and believed they had a relative named "Uncle Sam" until his mom set him straight. It gets even more hilarious when one remembers that after his stint in the series, Mike's actor, Kirk Cameron, would later develop films and documentaries with a pro-American light to them.

Newspaper Comics

Video Games
  • Fallout 3 has aged posters showing a power-armored soldier helping Uncle Sam to his feet. The caption is something like "Help Out Uncle Sam".
  • Some sort of version of the iconic "I Want You" poster is seen in the first level of Psychonauts, with Coach Oleander dressed as Uncle Sam.
  • There's a picture of The Great Khali in this pose in the Smackdown vs Raw 2008 game.
  • Fable III's "Albion Needs YOU" posters.
  • One of Valkyria Chronicles' various promotional posters featured Alicia, the female lead, in Uncle Sam's position.
  • A Metal Gear promotional poster for recruiting engineers to develop the next game in the franchise has Big Boss in the style of Uncle Sam.
  • Frederick in Fire Emblem Awakening decides to boost troop morale by hanging "Chrom Wants You" posters in all the tents. It's particularly embarrassing news for Chrom since he's naked in them.

Web Original
  • Madness Combat has posters in some backgrounds:
    The Sheriff wants you. Do not resist. Pull his finger.
  • The Animutation Gender Neutral features an Uncle Sam poster with the text altered to match a mondegreen: "I Want You to Be a Total Yutz".
  • Referenced in the video for the IOSYS song FOE!

Western Animation
  • In a Looney Tunes Pepe LePew cartoon, an "Uncle François Wants You" poster appears in a Foreign Legion fort.
  • The opening sequence for Freakazoid! includes a parody of the poster with the eponymous character as Uncle Sam.
  • Family Guy. Neil handed Meg a note saying "I Want You". When she looked at him, he was dressed as Uncle Sam.
  • The Simpsons: When Springfield threatened to deport illegal immigrants, there was a poster with Uncle Sam saying "I want you... OUT".

Other
  • Uncle Sam is often parodied on the Internet. His lines are changed to insults like "I want you to find a girlfriend with a name that doesn't end with '.jpg'."
  • Joe Pillsbury once drove it to the obvious conclusion — the caricature depicting a poster of Grim Reaper in this pose, with a scythe in the other hand. The text below was simple "Wants You".
  • Political cartoons. Good lawd.
  • One MAD cover had a parody of the poster. Uncle Sam was given Alfred E. Neuman's face, and the caption read "Who Needs You?"

Web Comics
  • In Sinfest, one of the recurring characters is Uncle Sam, who occasionally gets put in this situation.

Real Life
  • The British equivalent, predating the American version by at least three years, is Lord Kitchener Wants You.
    • Because, it's fucking on now, chaps.
    • Unlike the US Army's version, this image was not recycled for the Second World War, for obvious reasons. In fact, anything that could even remotely be construed as a straight use of this image is discouraged rather strongly. For example, when the government floated the idea of putting the picture on the £2 coin to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, even The Daily Mail thought it was a terrible idea. It doesn't help that Lord Kitchener's other claim to fame is inventing the concentration camp and generally conducting the Boer War in a fashion that Those Wacky Nazis imitated with great enthusiasm a couple of decades later.
  • A similar poster featured a full-length picture of Britain's very own Anthropomorphic Personification, John Bull standing in front of soldiers, pointing at the viewer and demanding, "Who's missing? Is it YOU?"
  • The Russian equivalents, meanwhile, are "Motherland Calls!" (WWII) and "Did YOU volunteer?" (Civil war) (the latter one is the most reminescent of the Uncle Sam poster).
    • There's also one Russian Civil war poster of the White army, sayng "Why are you not in the army?". It is also of this style.
  • Smokey Bear copied the Uncle Sam one with, "Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires". This is occasionally parodied as "Only YOU can help me hide the body", because Smokey is holding a shovel in the poster.

Psycho SerumImageSource/OtherUnfortunate Implications
Tuxedo and MartiniStock ParodiesThe VJ Day Kiss

random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
24365
5