- In the Selfie episode "With a Little Yelp From My Friends", Henry encourages Eliza to make friends with co-worker Joan, telling her to do her research. He unknowingly (probably, given his age) quotes a Biggie song, which Eliza enthuastically finishes for him.
Henry: Do your research. If you want to connect with Joan, find out what her interests are.
Eliza: Who she be with?!
- One of the many "Sorkinisms" Aaron Sorkin uses as Running Gag, involves a character going on a tangent about themselves and their credentials—inevitably topping the mini-monologue off with "And I'm never-never sick at sea!"
- Margaret once lapses into this when she's excited about musical guest James Taylor coming to the White House.
Margaret: I've always loved "Jelly Man Kelly". He's the man who likes jelly the most. He likes it on toast. Then there's Jenny Mulhenny...
- In the episode "To Kill a Chupacabraj", of Workaholics Ders addresses the people waiting in small-claims court, initially mistaking them for the jury.
Ders: I have but one word: justice. Just-us. Its just us on this planet, Earth. We're alone, so we need to trust each other. Trust us. Rhymes, so you know that its real. Which brings me to the question, are we human, or are we dancers?"
- An ad for the TV show Bridezillas had the brides and their families getting ready for a fight and the family starts singing the song "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister.
- From Absolutely Fabulous:
Life is a mystery, we all must stand alone. I hear him call my name and it feels like home. Saffy:
That's lovely, who wrote it? Eddy: Madonna
- Doctor Who:
- In "The Smugglers", we get this exchange:
Ben: Put the kettle on.
- In "The Three Doctors", The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) tries to explain the presence of his past self (Patrick Troughton) to Jo:
Third Doctor: It's really very simple, Jo. I am he, and he is me.
Third Doctor: What?
Jo: It's a song by the Beatles.
- In "The Brain of Morbius" the Doctor is offered wine by the Sisterhood of Karn and rejects it, saying "I had a little drink about an hour ago". It's innocuous enough that it's easy not to notice it's a line from "Show Me The Way To Go Home", but if you notice you might realise the next line of the song is "and it went right to my head"...)
- "The Christmas Invasion":
- And from "The Idiot's Lantern":
It's too late. The Doctor:
It's never too late, as a wise person once said. (to himself) Kylie
, I think...
Just tell her about it. Tell her everything you feel. Dr Cox:
...Should I give her every reason to accept that I'm for real? JD:
First of all, no-one understands relationships like Billy Joel, okay? Uptown Girl
got me through high school.
- In another episode Turk starts quoting the "Safety Dance" when Carla asks how he would react if their child were to take up dance classes and be mocked by his friends for it. When she tells Elliot, Elliot chastises her for forgetting the time she told Turk the Commissar was in town.
- Another classic Turk Moment:
Dr Cox: Name a test, any test that you would use to check for Lupus.
Turk: Lupus? ...Does she live on the second floor? Does she live upstairs from you? I think you have seen her before.
- Later, JD consoled a woman whose husband was dying with the theme from Facts of Life.
- In another example of a song being disguised as a different type of song; at the Janitor's wedding in the final season, Ted sings a beautiful acoustic love song which turns out to be "Hey Ya".
- 3rd Rock from the Sun
- In one episode where Dick got called up for jury duty and was eager to go, Nina and Mary told him not to bother. Dick made a point about how he has a sense of duty and can be relied upon:
Dick: Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, all you've got to do is call, and I'll be there.
Nina: (dismissively) Yeah, yeah, yeah...
Dick: Yes I will.
- Another episode had someone asking Dick what he wanted, to which he very hammily shot back, in dead seriousness: "Fame! I want to live forever — light up the sky like a flame!"
- Another time, after a failed bank robbery which had Sally dressed like a biker, Tommy dressed like a sailor, and Harry dressed like a Native American, they greeted Don (in uniform) and Dick (dressed like a construction worker, since he had just gotten back from a gay bar). Everybody keeps saying "Hey!" back and forth to the tune of "Macho Man".
- Either Del or Rodney on Only Fools and Horses, trying to be inspiring: "You've got to have a dream. If you don't have a dream... how're you going to have a dream come true?" (The other one just gives him a look.)
- NewsRadio: Every year when the annual bonuses are delivered, Matthew gets no bonus, known around the station as "The Shaft". Naturally, the guys tease him by reciting lyrics from "Theme from Shaft".
Dave (reading card from the box): Uh, "Who's the black private dick, a sex machine to all the chicks"?
Bill: I thought we'd get a kick out of that.
- On Not Only... But Also a spoof of A Man for All Seasons had a scene with Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon delivering dialogue consisting entirely of lyrics from popular songs of the day.
- An occasional joke on Not Going Out.
Barbara: Listen. When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, what will I be? Will I be pretty? Will I be rich? Here's what she said to me.
Lee: I'm guessing it was a no.
- [in an episode in which Tim and Lee have just played a gig of very unrock songs]
Lucy: I don't think the crowd liked the Elaine Paige and Barabra Dixon number much.
- House frequently quotes "You Can't Always Get What You Want". Most notably in the first episode:
As the great philosopher Jagger
said; You can't always get what you want.
Cuddy: By the way, I checked out that philosopher you mentioned and it turns out that you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you'll get what you need.
- It should be noted that "You Can't Always Get What You Want" eventually became the theme song for House's vicodin addiction.
- Weird Science had an episode where Lisa the genie fell in love with one of the guys and became a Clingy Jealous Girl. He tells her "When you love someone, set them free", which causes Lisa to start deleting herself. Instantly his friend interrupts, saying "Don't listen to him! He's an idiot spouting bad song lyrics!"
- The season 3 finale of Battlestar Galactica has a number of characters who turn out to be Cylons start mumbling the same bits of nonsensical poetry as a sign of their mental breakdown. Towards the end of the finale, the lines come together and are revealed to be All Along the Watchtower. The effect of Season Three's finale's reveal was weakened by the fact that the song is relatively well known, since the original was by Bob Dylan, achieved huge popularity as a cover by Jimi Hendrix, and was popular again in the early Noughties following another cover by Dave Matthews Band (as well as covers by Neil Young, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, and many, many others). "There must be some way out of here" and "I can't get no relief" may be relatively unnoticeable, but dialogue that includes "Said the Joker to the Thief," even out of context, raises a few eyebrows.
- All Along the Watchtower became a kind of significant Leitmotif for the Final Five Cylons at the end of Season Three and throughout Season Four. The song actually becomes vitally important to the series overall: Hera draws a series of dots which are revealed to be the notes to the song when Kara remembers it as a song her father used to play when she was a child. Kara also uses the line "there must be some kind of way out of here" in the series finale, using the notes of the song as coordinates.
- According to the commentary, in the finale, when Adama asks Kara where the coordinates have taken them, her reply was to have been "Somewhere... all along the watchtower. Luckily, Katee Sackhoff recognized the narminess of the line and refused.
- Lampshaded on 30 Rock:
- In the third season of the Australian Thank God Youre Here, Shaun Micallef, responding to the question "Have you ever been to London?" replies "I've been to London, I've been to Birmingham, I've been to paradise, but I've never been to me."
- The 2009 series of BBC documentary Springwatch was home to a bizarre series of these. Chris Packham had taken out a bet with a friend that he could slip the name of a Smiths song into every episode. The last episode featured Kate Humble reporting that Bill Oddie had called to congratulate him on this feat, to which Chris deadpans to camera, "William, it was really nothing."
- Shows up on Mystery Science Theater 3000:
Old Sage-Type Guy: My daughter, you will find that you can't always have what you want.
Servo: But if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.
- Also this Beatles shout out:
Military officer (on phone; suddenly cut off) Hello? Hello?
Joel: I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello!
- In The Stand, Randall Flagg introduces himself, "Pleased to meet you, Lloyd. Hope you guess my name," to indicate that he is more or less the devil.
- An episode has Ross taking a phone message for Rachel from a guy named Casey. While on the phone, he asks if Casey is spelled "like '-at the bat' or '-and the Sunshine Band'?" After he hangs up:
Ross: Who's this Casey?
Phoebe: Some guy she met at the movies.
Ross: What does he want with her?
Chandler: I'm guessing he wants to do a little dance...make a little love...and, basically, get down tonight.
- There's another time when Joey tries to stall answering the question "Why?"
Joey: Because... because... because... because... because...
- Years later, as Jimmy Kimmel got all three leading ladies together, at a certain point the dialogue gets... familiar.
: It's like we always say: "So no one told you life was gonna be this way." *claps*
- Used by Mock the Week when Diana Ross was given custody of Michael Jackson's children:
Hugh: Do you think if they're naughty, she can just tell them "Stop! In the name of love!"
- A round on Whose Line Is It Anyway? involves the participants holding a conversation purely in song titles.
- In the 3D episode of Chuck, in trying to think fast, Chuck calls himself a drummer and then says: "I'm the little drummer boy... Come they told me... ba... rumpa... bombom..."
- One episode of The Goodies started off by quoting the White Rabbit's song from Disney's version of Alice in Wonderland. Bill and Graeme are sitting around the office:
Graeme: He's late.
Tim: (walking in) I'm late.
Bill: For a very important date.
Graeme: No time to say hello.
Tim: (leaving) Goodbye.
Graeme and Bill: (together) He's late, he's late, he's late, eeh eeh!
- In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:
- Will recites a few lines of the show's theme song in formal-sounding prose to a judge. "Your honour, in West Philadelphia born 'n' raised, on the playground was where I spent most of my days".
- Also when Will announces his marriage to Lisa; his Uncle Phil, Aunt Vivian and his mother ask how he manages to make a living.
Will: We're survive on love.
Vy: What's love gotta do with it?
Geoffrey: (walking past them)
Gotta do, gotta do with it.
- In an early episode Will and his uncle get in an argument and end up quoting lyrics from Smith's early hit "Parents Just Don't Understand."
Will: You'll ruin my rep!
Uncle Phil: You're only sixteen, you don't have a "rep" yet!
- This was a favorite technique of the writers of The Bob Newhart Show. In one episode, the guys get drunk and Emily offers to make them coffee. One says, "I love coffee." A second adds, "I love tea." Then Mr. Carlin says, "I love the Java Jive, and it loves me." From another episode, Bob denies being afraid of death, saying, "I am strong, I am invincible …" at which point another character cuts him off with, "You are woman. Let's hear you roar."
- In a later episode, when Jerry, who was adopted, decides to seek out his birth mother, he comments, "Why I could be a duke, or an earl!" Bob adds, "You could be the Duke of Earl."
- In a first season episode of Veronica Mars, "Lord of the Bling", Veronica explains her connection to a missing teenager with the words "We used to be friends...a long time ago." Immediately afterwards, the theme song starts playing - the opening line? "A long time ago, we used to be friends…" Also, in the second season episode "The Rapes of Graff", Veronica claims she once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.
- In the short-lived Pepper Dennis, Pepper tries to advise a would-be Runaway Bride with the lyrics to D.H.T's "Listen To Your Heart".
- In an episode of Heroes where Hiro Nakamura was put on trial by his own mind, he tried to defend his meddling with history by saying he had been 'setting right what once went wrong'
- Used in Men Behaving Badly when Tony is persuading Gary he should get back together with Dorothy.
- An episode of Home Improvement had Wilson dishing out some famous quotes about love. Tim responded with: "'Everybody... loves somebody sometimes.' Martin, comma, Dean."
- Another episode had Wilson musing, on the subject of Tim compromising with his wife, "You have to give a little, take a little..." Tim responds, sardonically, "Yeah, and let your poor heart break a little." Then, he realizes what the next line in the song is, and they figure it's not so bad an idea after all, as they sing together, "That's the story of, that's the story of love..."
- One episode of WKRP in Cincinnati has Herb recruiting staffers to sing a jingle for a funeral home client.
Herb: Bailey...sing something.
Bailey: Oh, I can't sing.
Herb: Everyone can sing.
Venus: Go on Bailey, sing. Sing a song.
Les: Sing out loud, sing out strong.
Venus: (Cutting him off) Herb!
: I can read her like a book. Daisy
: Never judge a book by its cover. Tim
: He who dares, wins. Daisy
: Look before you leap. Tim
: Do you believe in life after love
That's a song. Tim
- The DVD Commentary for LOST, "A Tale of Two Cities" (which is basically a producer and an actress cracking jokes - they even call it "our Mystery Science Theater 3000"):
Elizabeth Mitchell: Well, maybe, maybe the glass just started it. It was his impressive glass acting. It's kind of like a microwave in there, heating up... [laughs]
Damon Lindelof: ...behind the glass. Juliet might, might as well walk over and just push the popcorn button, 'cause it's getting hot up in there.
Elizabeth Mitchell:[laughing] So take off all your clothes. [Lindelof chuckles]
- Kirsty Wark's signature gag on Dead Ringers; for example: "My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, and they're like, 'It's better than yours'. Damn right it's better than yours. More on that story later."
- The Adventures of Pete & Pete. "Apocalypse Pete". A particularly hammish crossing guard orders a speeding remote-control car to "Stop in the name of love". It Makes Sense in Context.
- One episode of Skins has Freddie meeting with a guidance counselor who reveres Michael Jackson and gives lyrics from his songs as advice. Freddie catches on quickly enough; when asked what would Michael say about him, he suggests that he's "Bad" and should "Beat It". (Michael would actually tell him that he's "Gotta Be Startin' Somethin'" - not quite a Michael Jackson song (that was "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"), but close enough.) And set up for a Crowning Moment of Funny later when Freddie visits him again; he turns, stares at the Thriller cover for inspiration… and gets nothing. The guidance counselor is played by Will Young, who sung one of the greatest Michael Jackson songs ever that wasn't actually a Michael Jackson song ("Your Game").
- Deliberately invoked in-universe. The Middle Man gave us at least one conversation per episode between Wendy and Noser that consisted entirely of song lyrics.
- In Being Human, when George finds out that his dad has died, Annie tries to give a eulogy and ends up with the lyrics to Fight For This Love by Cheryl Cole.
- A running gag in Miranda involves her inability to restrain herself from doing this, and she almost always ends up lapsing into singing the rest of the song in places like a job interview, psychiatrist's office and a funeral.
- This old MTV promo, with Steve Buscemi. All the way.
- On Boy Meets World, Mr. Feeny does this with a KC And The Sunshine Band song. Oddly, the joke is not the reference, but Mr. Feeny's deadpan delivery.
Mr. Feeny: Mr. Matthews I have no idea what you're talking about, and that's the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
- Quark, talking about the Dominion War, says, "War? What is it good for? You ask me, absolutely nothing."
- In the episode "In the Cards", Jake and Nog had been collecting several things, including Dr. Bashir's teddy bear, for the senior staff in exchange for items they were giving to a man named Dr. Geiger. At one point Jake suspects that Kai Winn is up to something and plans to confront her about it, introducing Nog to the expression "beard the lion in its den." This leads to the following exchange:
Nog: Lions and Geigers and bears...
Jake: Oh, my.
- On an episode of Yes Dear, Jimmy and Christine are trying to write poems for each other. After several minutes of struggling, Jimmy starts reading his poem, which soon turns out to be Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer". As it turns out, Christine wrote the exact same thing.
- Happens occasionally on Spicks And Specks. In one memorable example, Darlene Love started telling a story about the time she almost had sex with Tom Jones. Reginald D. Hunter chimed in "From what I hear, that's not unusual."
- In the Pretty Little Liars episode "Over My Dead Body," a nearly carbon monoxide-poisoned Emily has a dream (or does she?) that she's having a conversation with the late Alison; when Emily asks who "A" is, Alison - taking a line from the show's signature tune, The Pierces' "Secrets" - tells her that "Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead."
- In The Carol Burnett Show's parody of Gone with the Wind, Rat recites the lyrics to "Dixie" to express his desires to go back to a peaceful time before the Civil War. Sissy tells Rat that his speech sounds catchy, and that he should set it to music. Three more examples from the same sketch: early on, when Starlet meets an old suitor, she announces, "Why if it isn't Billy Joe McCalister! I thought you jumped off the Tallahatchee Bridge!" Later, when Starlet learns that a Yankee soldier is approaching Terra, she exclaims, "What the heck did you do, Melody? Tie a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree?!" Brashley mentions that Rat had "stopped off at the Camptown races, and as you know, that track's five miles long. He's out there betting on a bob-tailed nag, and I put two bucks on the bey myself. Of course it only paid two-sixty to show, so, doo da, doo da..."
- Mork and Mindy, when Mork impersonated a priest, he offered this advice to a lady in church.
Mork: You can't hurry love. You just have to wait. It don't come easy, it's a game of give and take.
Woman: That's beautiful, Father. Psalms?
- Castle, at the end of the episode "Last Call", Castle insists on sharing a bottle of expensive whiskey with Beckett, Captain Montgomery, Ryan and Esposito. When Beckett insists that she still has some paperwork to file, Castle says, "C'mon, Beckett, It's nine o'clock on a Saturday...well, nine-fifteen." Castle, Ryan and Esposito start singing "Piano Man", and Beckett caves in and joins them on the second stanza ("He says 'Son can you play me a memory?'...").
- At the end of an episode of Gilligan's Island, the Skipper, following yet another failed escape plan, laments in despair, "I get the feeling we're gonna be here for a long, long time," quoting part of the closing theme tune lyrics.
- Frequently happens on The Muppet Show. Examples include:
- In an episode of Veterinarian's Hospital, the crew works without a roof on a weatherman, who constantly takes their cues to sing songs.
Nurse Piggy: Dr. Bob, it's getting worse; it's beginning to hail!
Dr. Bob: Hail?
Weatherman: The gang's all here!
- Storage Wars has Barry quote The Who at one point when describing a locker. This is pretty in-character for him, so no one else comments on it.
- On Homicide Life On The Street, Gee, trying to heal a rift between partners Pembleton and Bayliss, says, "All we are is dust in the wind." Pembleton replies, "Never figured you for a Kansas fan."
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: In the sketch "The Mouse Problem" the "growing social problem of people wanting to be mice" is discussed. At a certain point the following conversation takes place which will go over the heads of most non-English speakers who've probably never heard of the nursery songs "Hickory Dickory Dock" and "Three Blind Mice":
Mr A's Voice: "Well, er, then you steal some cheese, Brie or Camembert, or Cheddar or Gouda, if you're on the harder stuff. You might go and see one of the blue cheese films... there's a big clock in the middle of the room, and about 12:50 you climb up it and then ...eventually, it strikes one... and you all run down."
Cut to a large matron with apron and carving knife.
Linkman's Voice: "And what's that?"
Mr A's Voice: "That's the farmer's wife."
- 'Allo 'Allo!:
- In the episode "Nouvion Oars" René receives a secret message in code: "The cow is ready to jump over the moon and Jack and Jill are standing in a bucket". (For our non-English speakers: these are references to the children's nursery rhymes "Hey Diddle Diddle" and "Jack and Jill (Went Up The Hill)").
- In another episode, Rene asks what happened to the town's elderly, grey-haired mayor. Edith replies "The old grey mayor is dead!"
- In the Angel episode "I Fall to Pieces", Cordelia glumly asks Doyle what the point of falling in love is. His response gradually morphs into Barbra Streisand's "People". She's unimpressed.
- Qi: In the Season L episode "Levity", they discuss lightning. Sue Perkins comments, "Well, we do know that thunderbolt and lightning are very very frightening."