Weird Al Effect
aka: The Weird Al Effect
When a parody remains popular after the original works being parodied are no longer well known to the audience.
Named for the fact that, when listening to the earlier work of "Weird Al" Yankovic
, modern fans may be so unfamiliar with the songs being mocked as to not even realize that the Weird Al song is
a parody. For example, many people are now more familiar with "I Lost on Jeopardy!
" than with the original "Jeopardy" by the Greg Kihn Band (or even the original game show
from the sixties). Some may even have forgotten Jimmy Webbs "MacArthur Park," or Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" (or Stevie Wonder
's "Pastime Paradise
," for that matter), remembering only Weird Al's "Jurassic Park
" or "Amish Paradise" note
Often, people who are only "familiar" with a work through the parody are surprised when the subject of the parody turns out to be better than they thought.
Related to the concept of a Forgotten Trope
, except it is not tropes but works or personalities that have been forgotten. Could be an extreme expression of Rule of Funny
(The music may not have had much staying power, but at least the parody is funny). See also Adaptation Displacement
, Popcultural Osmosis
, Popcultural Osmosis Failure
, Older Than They Think
, The Coconut Effect
, Covered Up
and Revival By Commercialization
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- For those wondering how people could make such a mistake with "Weird Al" Yankovic, he does also have a lot of original humorous songs. Most of us older folks know him better for his parodies, but he's spanned a few generations since his Dr Demento days and is still going strong. Moreover, knowing that a song is a parody and knowing the song it parodies are two different things.
- Coolio was quite peeved about "Amish Paradise", for which Yankovic had obtained permission through official channels but not through Coolio himself. He felt that Weird Al's version trivialized the seriousness of the song.
- To further confuse matters, a lot of Al's original songs are "style parodies" where he parodies a band's/artist's musical style instead of a specific song. Because he does change the music a bit even with parodies, this leads to some thinking that these style parodies are a parody of a specific song. Examples follow:
- His Once-An-Album polka medleys tend to be time capsules of a particular period in music, covering both enduring hits and flashes in the pan. For instance, "Polka Your Eyes Out" from 1992 note is bookended by "Cradle of Love" and "Ice Ice Baby", but in-between has such classics as "Losing My Religion," "Love Shack" and "Enter Sandman"
- Referenced in The Flash Tub Gamescott Review (which is a parody of both 90's internet videos and internet game reviews) in the end credits, crediting Papa Roach's "Last Resort" to "Weird Al", since Weird Al did cover it in one of his medleys.
- The Energizer Bunny, Mascot for the Energizer brand of batteries for over 20 years, was originally a parody of an ad campaign by rival Duracell, in which a small and cute bunny with a small drum powered by their battery would last longer than one powered by their chief rival - which, back then, was Everlast (Energizer's ad was that its bunny, like its battery, was too large and impressive for Duracell's ad). In part due to its effectiveness as a campaign and in part due to Duracell not keeping up with the trademarks, the original bunny is all but forgotten in North America (although still active in other continents).
- The phrase, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature" has been used and re-used so often (just as often as a parody as not,) that it's approached the point where many people have no idea where it actually came from (for the record, it was from a 1970 commercial for a butter substitute called Chiffon.)
Anime and Manga
- Neon Genesis Evangelion and Martian Successor Nadesico are a Deconstruction and a parody, respectively, of the Humongous Mecha series of their day. Ten years later, who can remember their contemporaries?
- Gunbuster was actually a parody of Aim for the Ace! a tennis manga and anime series; as well as Super Robot anime programs like Mazinger Z and Getter Robo.
- Dragon Ball originally started as a parody of Journey to the West, which, while still popular in Asia, is more or less unknown in many countries Dragon Ball was released in except those that had Monkey! on their TVs.
- The speech "Sometimes I'm a..." is closely associated with Cutey Honey, so much so that the original source (Tarao Bannai) that Cutey Honey was parodying with that speech has been long forgotten
- Fandom example: At least on this wiki, it appears as if the use of the term "White Devil" in reference to Nanoha Takamachi has almost completely eclipsed its original use as a canon nickname for the RX-78 and/or Amuro Ray.
- In the Western world, Naruto has completely overtaken terms & names like Fuuma Shuriken, (Kage) Bunshin, Kawariminote ; a ninja called Sasukenote ; and a trio with the names of Tsunade, Orochimaru and Jiraiya with powers based on snails, snakes, and frogs, respectivelynote .
- Ouran High School Host Club appears to be headed this way, with more people watching the show having not seen any of the shojo it parodies. The surface humor and well-developed characters serve to attract people who don't get the joke.
- The pirates in Astérix comics are close parodies (allowing for the difference in art style) of Captain Barbe-Rouge (Redbeard) and his crew in the comic of the same name. Originally published in the same magazine as Asterix, Barbe-Rouge is almost unknown outside France. You have a shot at recognizing them if you've seen one of the 90s cartoon shows, but the parody characters have such a distinct look that it's not obvious.
- Iznogoud contained a Shout-Out to specifically to the Astérix versions of the pirates in one story. They look much more like their Asterix designs and the crow's nest pirate observes that the ship they're about to attack 'has no Gauls on it'.
- Furthermore the pirates, on yet another occasion when their ship is smashed by Asterix and Co, end up in a sequence with them parodying the now somewhat obscure painting "The Raft of the Medusa". Said painting is actually pretty famous in France, and a mainstay of school textbooks on French painting. The parody has untranslatable French puns involving the idiomatic meaning of "médusé" (stupefied). The English translation has them say "We've been framed, by Jericho!" note
- Astérix generally is packed solid with references to French politics, society, and other such in-jokes, which are funny (in their own right) to everyone else, and absolutely hilarious to the French. Well, at least to the French who are old enough (or interested in history and politics enough) to recognize said politicians. These jokes tend not to age very well. For example, the antagonist from Obelix and Co. is supposed to be a parody of Jacques Chirac. Yes, as in former President of France Jacques Chirac, though the parody was back then focused on his largely-forgotten-outside-France stint as Prime Minister.
- On the topic of comics...how many people today think of the Dalton brothers as the historical Bob, Grat and Emmet, and how many think of the Dalton Brothers as Lucky Luke's Joe, Jack, William and Averell? In Europe and the French speaking world, at least, it's not even a contest.
- Joe, Jack, William and Averell are supposed to be the Dalton cousins. The "historical" Dalton brothers were featured (caricatured) in the album Outlaw which is probably forgotten because Goscinny didn't write it, plus it's just one album vs. over 20, plus they were actually Killed Off for Real whereas Lucky Luke moved to Thou Shalt Not Kill a few albums later.
- There are others who may associate the Daltons as Dinky, Pinky, Stinky, etc. from Huckleberry Hound.
- Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday. Also, he's a zombie. If you know of Solomon Grundy, chances are you probably know him from the comics and cartoon, but not from the nursery rhyme. In Mexico, there's a wrestler known as Solomon Grundy, and people don't know about any rhyme, comic, or cartoon. The rhyme itself IS mentioned in the popular Batman series The Long Halloween. It's also briefly referenced in Justice League and Arkham City. One Justice League cartoon episode has him sacrifice himself for something (nevermind that being a zombie, he can't really die off permanently). The gravestone shown usually mentions the rhyme. The rhyme is also referenced in the Batman story "One Night in Slaughter Swamp", published in Batman: Shadow of the Bat # 39 (1995). The Crash Test Dummies also used his name for their Superman song, only because it rhymed with money. ...sorta.
- Many comic book fans didn't even realize that DC Comics had other characters besides Wesley Dodds and Morpheus who went by "The Sandman" until they saw Hector Hall make an ass of himself in volume 2 of Neil Gaiman's celebrated series.
- While the characters of Watchmen have become popular and well-known despite only being in that story, the original Charlton heroes that inspired their creation have almost faded into obscurity. The Question, Blue Beetle, and Captain Atom have managed to escape this to some extent, but Thunderbolt and the Peacemaker (Ozymandias and the Comedian's counterparts respectively) have suffered.
- In Thunderbolt's case, he isn't owned by DC anymore.
- And Peacemaker only very superficially resembled the Comedian, making any connection ridiculous on its face. (If they ever met, they would not get along.)
- Another Watchmen one: Moore and Gibbons' use of the 9-panel grid has prompted a lot of people, including comic book historians, to believe that Steve Ditko (the creator of the original Charlton characters) worked almost exclusively in the 9-panel grid format. This is not to say that Ditko didn't use it frequently, but it was hardly his "go to" layout.
- The Guy Fawkes mask is now associated more with V for Vendetta than with the guy —er, Guy— it represents. In America anyway... Bonfire Night is still a well celebrated national holiday in the UK, and kids are taught about the history behind it in school. Its meaning is shifting even beyond that, now that it's being used as a tool of 4chan/anonymous for their real-world protests (although, technically they are using it in the style in which it is portrayed in V for Vendetta) — and this applies to both the US and UK as the mask has lately appeared on the office wall of The IT Crowd. Whee!
- Indeed, in the "set tour" featurette on the 3rd series of The IT Crowd, it's actually referred to as the V For Vendetta mask, rather than a Guy Fawkes mask, by Graham Linehan himself!
- British technology news/discussion site The Register also uses the mask as the only icon available for Anonymous Coward posts.
- For that matter, the English word "guy" is itself a reference to Guy Fawkes that has evolved over the centuries be used as reference for anyone, not just an effigy of the original Guy.
- Deadpool was originally conceived by Rob Liefeld as a rather blatant ripoff of DC Comics supervillain Deathstroke. Later writers took the character and revamped him into a parody to save Marvel some face. While Deathstroke still has a strong fan following, Deadpool has pretty eclipsed him in terms of popularity.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was originally an underground comic strip parody of Daredevil; the most obvious aspects being the Turtles' master, Splinter (as opposed to Daredevil's "Stick") and their enemies, the Foot Clan (Daredevil's were the Hand). I don't even need to say which one is better known.
- Matt Murdock was hit in the eyes with chemicals in his origin story, while rescuing a blind man from an oncoming truck. In the Ninja Turtles version, the chemical canister bounced off his head, specifically "near his eyes", and a nearby boy's pet turtles took the hit instead. In some versions the second boy resembles Matt Murdock more, but originally it was a boy named Chester.
- Even with proper annotation you'll be hard pressed to identify most of the references to Victorian literature in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, with bonus points if you're even aware of the original work.
- To understand how far Alan Moore goes, there are references to Victorian porn novels that have been out of print for decades, and visual reference gags can number in the triple figures on one page. It gets even worse once he gets into the twentieth century.
- Far more people know Arkham as the asylum populated by Batman villains than know it as one of Lovecraft's fictional haunted towns in New England.
- Viz started as a parody of British children's comics and now the genre it parodies is all but dead with the exception of The Beano, which Viz even outsells.
- Kenneth Alford's 1914 tune "Colonel Bogey's March" is now best known as "that whistling tune from The Bridge on the River Kwai."
- The classic 1940s-era shorts by The Three Stooges were often parodies of contemporary films; the Stooges are still not as far off the current pop-culture radar as many of the movies they made fun of.
- In a similar case, it affected former third Stooge Joe Besser as well: While he was quite popular for various comedic roles during his time — most notably his "whiny sissy" act that he carried over to his Stooge role — today, he's known for nothing but being a replacement third Stooge (and a subpar one at that).
- Well, Joe Besser is also remembered as "Stinky" on Abbott and Costello.
- The movie Airplane! (1980) lifts, often word for word, the story of a 1950s disaster movie called Zero Hour! (itself a remake of a Canadian television movie). As a matter of fact, the Zucker brothers bought the rights to Zero Hour! so they could use its plot so closely without being sued. However, Airplane! is better remembered as a general parody of '70s disaster films, specially the Airport series, which jump-started the craze.
- In Blazing Saddles, the villain Hedley Lamarr is always correcting people who call him "Hedy." There are fewer people today who know Hedy Lamarr than who know Blazing Saddles — or who know Hedy LaRue in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, a more direct takeoff on Lamarr.
- Dr. Strangelove
- The title character is a parody of Werner von Braun, the ex-Nazi scientist who worked for NASA. Ex-Nazi scientists were also a stock character in the 50s.
- It is an adaptation of the now long forgotten dramatic Peter George novel Red Alert. Nuclear holocaust stories were popular in the 50s. The film was originally going to be a straight adaptation before getting turned into a darkly comic satire.
- Several scenes from the spy thriller Marathon Man ("Is it safe?") are arguably more famous for being parodied than the movie itself.
- The Austin Powers franchise parodies a lot in the James Bond franchise, some that everyone would get (Random Task throwing a shoe), while others are obscure enough that most viewers wouldn't get unless they were a Bond fan.
- Burt Bacharach provided music for Casino Royale (1967), which is why he makes an appearance in the first Austin Powers film.
- Far more people nowadays have seen the Indiana Jones films than the '30s adventure films that inspired them. To the point where one of the main criticisms of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was that it didn't follow the '30s adventure pastiche, even though the production team was trying to do the same thing to the '50s sci-fi shows.
- Try showing some German expressionist movies to someone who isn't already familiar with the genre, and see how long it takes for them to mention Tim Burton.
- The Flintstones used quite a few "special guest voices" of celebrities of the era given Punny Names, such as "Ann-Margrock" for actress Ann-Margaret and "Jimmy Darrock" for Jimmy Darren. Kids who grew up watching the reruns would have had no clue who these people were.
- While not a parody, Robert DeNiro's famous "You Talkin' to Me??" line from Taxi Driver was a reference to the 1953 Western Shane, where the titular character is called out.
Shane: You speakin' to me?
Chris Calloway: I don't see nobody else standin' there.
- Debatable, as other reports claim it was from Bruce Springsteen's live shows. Robert De Niro worked with Clarence Clemons (Bruce's bandmate) and learned of the line from him.
- The LOVE/HATE tattoos dangerous people have on their knuckles originated in The Night of the Hunter, has been spoofed by countless films and TV shows:
- Bruce Lee is so ubiquitously parodied that many people don't even realize who they're imitating when they do it.
- His Funny Bruce Lee Noises are practically a given in any kung fu fight.
- His yellow and black tracksuit in Game of Death is also common for parody:
- Shaolin Soccer has the goalie, a Bruce Lee lookalike, wear the tracksuit and imitate some of his mannerisms.
- Kill Bill features the Bride in a black and yellow tracksuit
- Pulp Fiction contains another iconic example in Jules' quoting of a (rather heavily modified) passage from Ezekiel. This is in fact a fairly overt reference to Sonny Chiba's character in The Bodyguard.
- Most people would recognise scenes from films such as The Great Escape or The Dam Busters than would recognise the films themselves. For example the "bouncing bombs" or the "throwing a ball against the wall in a prison cell" are widely recognised by people who have never seen either of those.
- The fact that the attack on the Death Star sequence in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope is a shot for shot homage to The Dam Busters will confuse people a bit though.
- Double that for the theme tunes. Most people will recognise the Great Escape theme or the Dam Busters march, but have no idea what film the music is from.
- Teenagers of high-school age might find their introduction to The Dam Busters via Pink Floyd: The Wall—it's what Pink watches on TV throughout.
- The Great Escape gets a bit more recognition in the UK, what with it having being a Christmas Tradition for many years.
- How many people have seen or even heard of the Dalton Trumbo war film, Johnny Got His Gun, and how many people only know it as the backdrop to Metallica's music video for "One"? (Metallica bought the rights to the film for the video, but were decent enough to release it to video as well.)
- Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Elizabeth Taylor does an exaggerated impression of Bette Davis saying a line from Beyond the Forest (1949): 'What a dump!' In an interview with Barbara Walters, Bette Davis said that in the film, she really did not deliver the line in such an exaggerated manner. She said it in a more subtle, low-key manner, but it has passed into legend that she said it the way Elizabeth Taylor's delivered it in this film. During the Barbara Walters interview, the clip of Bette Davis delivering the line from Beyond the Forest was shown to prove that Davis was correct. However, since people expected Bette Davis to deliver the line the way Elizabeth Taylor had, she always opened her in-person, one woman show by saying the line in a campy, exaggerated manner: 'WHAT ... A... DUMP!!!' It always brought down the house. 'I imitated the imitators,' Davis said."
- Many of the movies and cultural references mentioned in The Rocky Horror Picture Show opening song "Science Fiction Double Feature" (as well as references throughout) are completely lost on the younger fans of RHPS.
- Full Metal Jacket: Mention the name "Gomer Pyle" to someone. A younger person will probably think of " the fat Marine recruit who blows his brains out" instead of "the gas station worker from The Andy Griffith Show who got a spin off sitcom where he was in the Marines" (Which is where the name came from and why Gunny Hartman gives it to him).
- The dialog between Han and Leia in "Empire Strikes Back" that includes the line "I happen to like nice men" matches similar dialog from "Gone With the Wind" almost exactly:
"Scarlett, you do like me, don't you?"
That was more like what she was expecting.
"Well, sometimes," she answered cautiously. "When you aren't acting like a varmint."
He laughed again and held the palm of her hand against his hard cheek.
"I think you like me because I am a varmint. You've known so few dyed-in-the-wool varmints in your sheltered life that my very difference holds a quaint charm for you."
This was not the turn she had anticipated and she tried again without success to pull her hand free.
"That's not true! I like nice men—men you can depend on to always be gentlemanly."
- Probably more people nowadays recognize "Heeeeeere's Johnny!" as something Jack Nicholson said in The Shining than as Ed McMahon's introduction of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.
- The call and response "You remind me of the babe (what babe?)" isn't originally from Labyrinth, but instead references the 1947 Cary Grant film Bachelor Knight (apparently originally named The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer!)
- The Goonies: People are more likely to assume "Hey you guys!" is from this film rather than The Electric Company.
- Say "It's showtime!" to anyone born before 1960 and that person is likely to think of Roy Scheider in All That Jazz. But say the same line to anyone born after 1960 and that person will probably think of Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice. (Or possibly of Sting.)
- I Can See My House from Here most likely didn't originate from Hot Shots!. But, good luck finding someone who knows where it did come from...
- The afterburners on the airship from The Mummy Returns are a Call Back to the turbos from Airwolf, which in turn are a Call Back to Battlestar Galactica.
- The only thing most people today remember of the 1957 horror film Night of the Demon was the line "It's in the trees! It's coming!", which was sampled rather effectively at the beginning of the Kate Bush song Hounds of Love.
- The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue from Animal House which everyone has mimicked/spoofed was actually a parody of the epilogue of American Graffiti, made just five years earlier.
- Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will has been extensively parodied in everything from The Lion King to Star Wars to Gladiator. While most mature viewers would recognize the Nazi iconography it's doubtful they know the original source.
- Invoked by Mr. Holland's Opus. In an effort to teach his class to appreciate classical music, Mr. Holland plays a popular rock song (The Toys' "Lover's Concerto") on the piano, then transitions into Christian Petzold's "Minuet in G" from which it derives.
- "Minuet in G" is also used in the film Electric Dreams in a scene where a sentient computer uses sound synthesis to imitate a Classical violinist. It's not hard to find comments or threads on the Internet where people claim the song in Electric Dreams was plagiarized from "Lover's Concerto."
- The Sid Caesar short comedy "Sneaking Thru The Sound Barrier", which plays on a loop at the National Air and Space Museum, is, as mentioned in its introduction, a parody of films about test pilots that were popular in the 1950s. Casual museum visitors today are likely to go "What test pilot movies?"
- Melodramatically proclaiming "YOU'RE TEARING ME APART!" has been done by countless Tommy Wiseau impressionists who probably don't realise that Wiseau got it from Rebel Without a Cause, an actual good movie.
- Jessica Rabbit's appearance (and especially her hairstyle) was based on Veronica Lake, a 1940s icon who frequently showed up in the sort of noir films Who Framed Roger Rabbit was spoofing. Nowadays that look is usually associated with Jessica Rabbit rather than the real actress she was a parody of.
- "Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!" No, not from Blazing Saddles, but The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Go Figure!
- Once you seen the numerous Gag Dub spoofs of the "Hitler Rant" scene from Downfall, it's hard to take the original scene seriously.
- Most people today are far more likely to recognize the strut set to James Brown's "Get Up and Drive That Funky Soul" from Spider-Man 3 than from Slaughter's Big Rip-Off.
- People who watch Last Action Hero today may not realize that the "Hamlet" segment was a send-up of Ahnuld's fellow action star Mel Gibson, who had starred as Hamlet himself just a few years earlier.
- In the early chapters of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, when Alice is trying to "sort her head out", she recites two children's verses, which she names "How Doth the Little..." and "You Are Old, Father William." Contemporaries of Carroll would have recognised these as parodies of "Against Idleness and Mischief" by Isaac Watts and "The Old Man's Comforts and How He Gained Them" by Robert Southey. These days, while many people know Carroll's parody of Southey's verse, fewer know that it is in fact a parody, and fewer still could name or recite the original. Some verses that Carroll parodied even scholars aren't sure of because they are now so obscure. In fact the only one that hasn't caused the Weird Al Effect is "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat" ("Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star").
- Speaking of Southey, his poem "The Battle of Blenheim" originated the familiar album cover trope of the kid playing innocently with a skull.
- And few modern readers of Through the Looking-Glass would know the tune the White Knight's "A-Sitting on a Gate" is supposed to be sung to, even though Alice points out that "the tune isn't his own invention."
- There's a few with Alice in Wonderland. Much of the wording was meant to be surreal and strange, but has actually made its way into common parlance so that it seems perfectly normal to a modern reader. For instance, Alice says "Let's pretend," in the beginning. At the time, "pretend" meant "to lie or deceive", so "Let's pretend" sounded very strange. Now, thanks to Alice in Wonderland, the meaning of the word has changed quite a bit. Alice in Wonderland is rather like its own Weird Al Effect, one could say.
- In a similar vein, several words (for instance, "chortle") were completely invented by Carrol and yet very few even know that they were once considered nonsense.
- Check out the wonderful book "Annotated Alice" where famed (and recently late) mathemagician Martin Gardner takes the time to annotate virtually every cultural reference made. Suffice to say there are at least as many words in the annotations as there are in the original stories.
- One particularly in-depth aside takes up a full two-page spread, written in 8-point font. In a large-format hardback.
- Not unlike how The Bard originated, or at least popularized, a lot of words and phrases that are still part of common parlance, a lot originated with the Alice stories as well. Because of their origin they could be considered a double instance of the trope — very few people will realize they came from Alice, and further, even if they do, they won't realize that the original references in Alice were parodies themselves!
- Through the Looking-Glass has a nice example. The Walrus and the Carpenter, the poem sung by the twins, is a parody of The Dream of Eugene Aram, which is about an elementary school teacher who is convicted of murder.
- The Mad Hatter was already a trope before Carroll came along. Hatters used mercury to cure felt, and would sometimes lose cognitive function from inhaling the fumes, so mad hatters was a trope somewhat analogous to the modern trope of insane postal workers. The book is the only surviving use of the trope, so modern readers assume it's an original character concept.
- The beast in Carroll's poem "Jabberwocky" is more commonly known by that name since most works that reference it use that instead of the creature's actual name: Jabberwock.
- In Russia, the poems parodied are even less known, so one cartoon adaptation has Alice reciting a distorted This Is the House That Jack Built, which is well known in Russia due to Samuil Marshak's translation.
- An even older literary example is Cervantes' Don Quixote, which parodied a number of Chivalric Romances from the time period, especially one called Amadis of Gaul. None of these are read any more, except by scholars.
- Cervantes was the victim of a trope misunderstanding when an anonymous writer calling himself "Avellaneda" published a false sequel to Don Quixote. The sequel completely missed the cleverness of Cervantes' references that mocked tropes of the chivalric genre (the noble knight's Unlimited Knapsack, the magic Healing Potion), instead choosing to write a slapstick and completely unfunny book that no one ever reads now. The book is signed as "Alonso Fernandez de Avellaneda, born in Tordesillas", but that's a fake name, and the prologue is riffed with insults to Cervantes and unashamed flattering to his main rival, Lope de Vega. Apparently at the time the book came out the writing style was famous enough to identify the author without need of giving his real name, and given the volume of Take That in Cervantes' canon sequel it's more than likely that Cervantes knew perfectly who he was. However, precisely for this reason nobody bothered to ever write down Avellaneda's real identity. Now, 400 years later, Cervantes and Don Quixote are as famous as ever, while we only know the other as "that guy that insulted Cervantes in a Fan Fic".
- Another case of Weird Al Effect in Don Quixote is that both books were a satire and as such, contained a lot of references not only to now disappeared chivalry books (the second part contains extensive parodies of Tirant lo blanch, one of the better chivalry books and a Cervantes favorite) but to Spain's popular culture at the XVII century: (respectful) caricatures of then famous celebrities, unrespectful caricatures of contemporary writers, quotes from Cervantes's favorite poets, popular proverbs, then contemporary Urban Legends, phrases that can be taken in at least two different ways, all of them completely unknown for the modern reader if not by the notes provided in the reprints. Cervantes's book was incredibly funny when he published it, but it's very difficult to see it like this now.
- Voltaire's classic Candide is a harsh satire aimed at the optimistic teachings of Gottfried Leibniz... who would only have been remembered as a mathematician had Candide not proven so popular. And they have forgotten the more likely target of Voltaire's satire, the now still more obscure Christian Wolff, who combined views as optimistic as Leibniz's with a career nearly as random as Pangloss's.
- Agatha Christie's collection of stories starring Tommy and Tuppence, Partners in Crime, uses a device in which each story is a Homage to a different crime-writer. While many of them are still famous today, a few are now hopelessly obscure. (Anyone familiar with the blind detective Thornley Colton? Anyone?)
- Stella Gibbons's comic novel Cold Comfort Farm has outlived the rustic romances it parodied.
- Gulliver's Travels was a parody of the then-popular genre of journeys to distant lands. It's now a standalone classic. It contains innumerable digs at people and ideas of Swift's time, which go right past modern readers. This has led many people to think of Jonathan Swift as nothing more than a writer of a whimsical children's tale, when in reality he was a vicious and biting satirist who regularly savaged society in his writings. One of his other better-known works is "A Modest Proposal", where he satirically suggests that the best way to handle all the starving children in Ireland was to simply eat them, reasoning that since the British had already exploited Ireland in every other way, the only thing to do now is go humanitarian.
- Certain sections of Several Voyages to Remote Nations of the World by Lemuel Gulliver are also parodying other works. His Laputa and Balnibari are much more directly mocking Francis Bacon's New Atlantis. And, strangely, the ideas of each of the 4 places he goes may have been taken from an old Japanese story, or collection of stories, that talked about tiny people, giants, and horses. Whether this is truth or an extraordinary coincidence unclear, but considering how Japan is the only place Gulliver goes to that Swift treats with any kind of reality (in addition to being the only real place Gulliver goes, and the only place where he doesn't learn the language) there may be something to it.
- One interesting detail in The Great Divorce is that Heaven is so "solid" that souls coming directly from Earth or Hell are unable to move anything—even leaves or blades of grass. In the preface, C. S. Lewis credits a sci-fi short story for giving him the idea: the protagonist of the story time travels to the unchangeable past and finds "raindrops that would pierce him like bullets and sandwiches that no strength could bite". Lewis couldn't remember the name of the story or its author. It was probably "The Man Who Lived Backwards," by the never-famous Charles F. Hall.
- The title and purpose of The Great Divorce serve as a Take That against the now obscure-in-comparison The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake — which was itself a Take That against the doubly obscure Heaven and Hell by Emanuel Swedenborg.
- Despite the modern vampire dating back to Lord Ruthven of John William Polidori's 1819 short story "The Vampyre", Dracula is still the archtypical vampire. Even then, it's the Dracula in adaptations people think of, rather than the original book character.
- Only if they don't sparkle.
- For instance, many people reading Dracula will be surprised to see the title character walking around in daylight.
- Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey seems to be more widely studied and read than the gothic fiction of Ann Radcliffe which it parodies.
- In fact, for a long time scholars weren't even sure that the works she parodied even existed.
- A number of 18th century poets such as Colley Cibber are mainly known even to academics for being mocked and parodied by Alexander Pope in The Dunciad and other works.
- 1066 and All That, a 1930 parody of the patriotic Whiggish school history books of the early 20th century, has long outlasted the works it is parodying.
- The Harry Potter series was partially inspired by the time-honored British boarding school genre. Harry Potter is now way, way more famous than Tom Brown's Schooldays.
- While on the topic of Harry Potter: A lot of the creatures, spells, and other magical phenomena in the book have their roots in much, much older literature. Basilisks, for example, are at least Older Than Print. However, with the exception of elements used frequently in modern works (werewolves, for example), most Harry Potter fans aren't fully aware of how little of Harry's world originated with J.K. Rowling. (The exception is that if you're even vaguely aware of alchemy, then you'd know at least that Rowling did not invent the Philosopher's Stone.)
- And Nicolas Flamel was a real person, who supposedly did invent the Philosopher's Stone.
- But then Tom Brown's Schooldays also gave rise to that grand antihero Flashman.
- Few people remember that the character of C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower was an homage to and Affectionate Parody of, at the time, well-known British naval officers; particularly Lord Horatio Nelson. Many of Hornblower's adventures, as well as his career progression, closely parallel Lord Nelson's. These days, all but Nelson are largely forgotten by those who aren't historians or military strategists; and Nelson himself is little-known outside of Great Britain.
- Believe it or not, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, the Trope Maker for Dystopia, was written because the writer found so much Fridge Horror in one of H. G. Wells's later novels (written long after Wells had Jumped the Shark) that Huxley considered that novel to depict more of a dystopia than a utopia. Today, Brave New World is considered a classic, and practically no one knows or cares about Wells's book, Men Like Gods.
- In a variation of this trope, you'd be surprised to learn how many words you use each day that didn't exist until The Bard wrote them down. Addiction, advertizing, amazement, assassination, bedroom, blanket, blushing, countless, fashionable, frugal... The list goes on and on.
- Crysis: Legion does this In-Universe. When Colonel Barclay mentions The War of the Worlds in reference to the alien invaders, Nathan Gould doesn't get it. The Colonel promptly laments the ignorance of the classics.
- Ask anyone to continue "The boy stood on the burning deck/Whence all but he had fled...". They're far more likely to reply "Twit" than "The flames that lit the battle's wreck..."
- The James Bond examples elsewhere on this page are ironic, given that the Bond franchise was itself a parody of the spy thrillers of the 1950s.
- The 1966 novel Mott the Hoople by Willard Manus is only remembered now because of the band who named themselves after it.
- For a truly extreme example, The Satyricon, a satirical epic spoofing the aspiring middle-class through a group of poetry-Fan Boy criminals Walking the Earth, contains multiple occasions where characters will break into poems that are parodies of poems of the day, often with plenty of Stylistic Suck applied. Even the prose contains numerous Shout Outs to contemporary pop culture and memes. The thing is that the work was written during the Roman Empire, and almost all of the works it references are long lost. In most cases, The Satyricon is the only record that they existed at all.
Live Action TV
- The opening credits of Police Squad!! are almost a shot by shot parody of both the images and music of the little known '60s series M Squad.
- When Doctor Who started in 1963, as a budget saving measure the Doctor's possibly-infinitely-large-inside space'n'time traveling ship was disguised as an ordinary, everyday object that all viewers would be familiar with — a police box, examples of which could be seen in every town in Britain. By the time the series was revived in 2005, there hadn't been a working police box anywhere in the UK for over 20 years, and a line of expository dialogue was required in the first new episode to explain the TARDIS's appearance. Indeed, the TARDIS is usually the first thing anyone thinks of upon seeing a picture of a police box.
- Even Sarah Jane makes the mistake in one episode, where she travels back to 1950's England.
- There's a police box right out the Earl's Court tube station in London, big and blue as anything.
- This isn't an original police box though, it was built in 1997.
- IIRC, that police box was put there because tourists who'd seen Doctor Who were disappointed by the lack of police boxes in England!
- This has led to possibly the only prop-based instance of the Celebrity Paradox — in the real world, a Police Box would be anything but inconspicuous, because just about everybody in Britain would recognise it as the TARDIS. This is occasionally lampshaded, with mixed success/cringeworthiness, in UK media.
- Note that the series itself frequently points this out.
- On a similar note, there's a police box on Buchanan Street in Glasgow (though whether it's a surviving one or a replica I don't know) which is universally known as "the TARDIS".
- Possibly the only legally binding case of the Weird Al Effect: The BBC trademarked the look of the TARDIS in 1996. The Metropolitan Police challenged it, and lost, with the judge saying that it was far more recognizable as a symbol of Doctor Who than as a symbol of the police. (The fact that the police had never attempted to trademark it themselves over the course of 40 years also counted against them.)
- Nicely spoofed in one Eleventh Doctor Christmas Special when the Doctor gets his space suit helmet stuck backwards, and needs to recruit a local to help him find the TARDIS. After she follows his instructions on what to look for, he goes inside...and remembers that he's in a time period where there are still real police boxes.
- Serious and downbeat drama series Secret Army, about the Belgian resistance during WW 2, was closely parodied in knockabout comedy 'Allo 'Allo! — which went on to be much more popular and longer-running than the original. To this day, most British people are unaware that 'Allo 'Allo! began as a parody at all...
- The Batusi from Batman is far better remembered than the Watusi it was originally punned off of. The Batusi is now better known as "that dance John Travolta does on Pulp Fiction." Or from The Simpsons: "How come Batman doesn't dance anymore?"
- Speaking of Batman, most fans of the Dark Age Batman regard the 1960s series as the representative of that era's Batman, when actually it was widely regarded as an intentionally over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek parody of the comic book. According to That Other Wiki, the comic later turned up the camp because of the TV show's success.
- That didn't stop parents from taking their kids to see the later Tim Burton movies, expecting the same style as the Adam West series. Boy were they in for a surprise...
- The '60s TV series was also a parody of the '40s Batman film serials, especially the cliffhanger narrations.
- The Prisoner is, possibly, a Sequel Series to spy series Danger Man, or at least a Spiritual Successor. The cartoon Danger Mouse parodies or gives a Shout-Out to Danger Man. Both are much better remembered.
- The theme for the American release Secret Agent Man is a staple of oldies radio.
- In one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the visual similarity between Spike and Billy Idol is Lampshaded. To a large number of fans, Spike is far more recoginisable than Billy Idol.
- Get Smart parodied the various espionage TV series popular at the time such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E., I Spy and The Avengers, but has been in reruns so long that most people assume it to be a James Bond parody. (although the show did occasionally parody James Bond, they spoofed the previously mentioned shows far more than they did James Bond.)
- A more obvious example of the Weird Al effect is in the title sequence to Get Smart. Not a lot of people these days realise that the iconic "closing doors/phone box at end of corridor" is a quite deliberate parody on similar sequences in The Man from U.N.C.L.E..... many people know it better these days from Get Smart!
- Maxwell Smart's famous voice was inspired by William Powell's performance in The Thin Man. And by extension, so is Inspector Gadget.
- The TV show Blackadder is now better known than the Robert Louis Stevenson novel The Black Arrow, which the title is a Shout-Out to and which the first series parodied.
- Once upon a time, there was a UK game show called If I Ruled The World. It inspired another game show called Parlamentet. If I Ruled The World stopped after two seasons — Parlamentet, however, is still going strong. In Scandinavia, admittedly, but twenty-two seasons deserve a mention.
- Many Game Shows become an example of a variation of this trope when a revived version of the show becomes more popular than the original version. Some examples:
- The Price Is Right has been a fixture on daytime TV since 1972 and is likely the only version known to most people today—but the original version was also very popular in its time, airing in both daytime and primetime from 1956 to 1965.
- Additionally, when producer Mark Goodson updated The Price Is Right for the revival, he intended to incorporate elements of the most popular game show on TV at the time—Let's Make a Deal. The Deal connection was largely forgotten... although with a new version of that show now airing (on the same network as Price and as a companion piece, no less), the connection may become clearer once again.
- Match Game. The 1970s version is the most popular due to the funny and suggestive nature of the questions. However, the original version—despite being much more sedate and tame—also had a long run on NBC from 1962 to 1969.
- Press Your Luck, one of the most popular game shows of the 1980s, was actually based on a short-lived game show called Second Chance that aired in 1977.
- Before the still-running version with Alex Trebek started up in 1984, Jeopardy! was hosted by Art Fleming for 10 seasons (1964-1974), followed by a short-lived reboot in 1978. (Yes, children of the '80s, that's who that guy is in the Trope Namer's "I Lost On Jeopardy" video...)
- Despite what its producers would have you think, Pat Sajak and Vanna White were not the original host/hostess tandem on Wheel of Fortune — that would be Chuck Woolery and Susan Stafford. Still, Chuck ends up a subversion, since he would go on to become famous for many other popular game shows, such as Scrabble, Love Connection and Lingo.
- Saturday Night Live's The Continental recurring sketch with Christopher Walken is actually based on a real TV show. The Continential was a short-lived CBS program that aired Saturday nights during the 1952-53 season, and starred Renzo Cesana as the title character. Its target audience was lonely, dateless women (though when it moved to ABC, it aired in the daytime for lonely, bored housewives). The combination of the subjective camera angles and the Continental's charm was designed to make these women believe they were being romanced through their TV sets. The SNL version is exactly like that, except Walken's Continental has been Flanderized to a Handsome Lech-cum-Stalker with a Crush-cum-Dirty Old Man-cum-Casanova Wannabe.
- Truly, this is Poe's Law in effect.
- Similarly, more people recognize Mike Myers' "Simon" sketches than "Simon in the Land of Drawings", the British series that it spoofed.
- The ''Prose and Cons'' short, particularly Eddie Murphy's "kill my landlord" poem, is more familiar these days than the Norman Mailer/Jack Henry Abbott debacle that it was satirizing.
- The "Royal Deluxe II" car commercialnote is continuously available on Hulu while the original Lincoln-Mercury ads it spoofs, despite old car commercials as a class being rarely copyright-policed at all, are hard to find on the internet.
- When Spanish dictator Francisco Franco was on his deathbed in 1975, news programs would sometimes update his condition on slow news days. Sometimes, these reports would simply state that "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still alive." He finally died in November of that year. Then, Chevy Chase started to feature Breaking News reports that "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead." The catch phrase remained in the public consciousness long after the countdown to Franco's death.
- Horatio Hornblower had an obvious influence on Star Trek frequently acknowledged by people who worked on the series. Now Trek is arguably better known. The original series was also influenced by the TV Westerns of its day, but now more people have heard of Star Trek than Gunsmoke. Gene Roddenberry specially referenced the highly successful show Wagon Train in his original pitch and as a result the eight-season show is probably best known for being mentioned in Roddenberry's famous pitch "Wagon Train to the Stars".
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 popularized many old and obscure Sci-Fi movies simply because the old and obscure movies were the cheapest to get the rights to.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 owes a lot to a tradition of host segments on old horror movies (see Horror Host) dating back to the 1950s, and started in a similar vein—a local show on a station that needed filler. Its willingness to mock the movie not just during breaks but during the runtime, its reliance on sarcasm and wit rather than the stock campiness-and-bad-puns format of other hosts, and its heavy utilization of home video has insured that it outlasted and overshadowed most of its ancestors.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: A lot of sketches are parodies of British TV shows that were popular during the late 1960s and early 1970s. For example, "How To Do It?" is a spoof of the BBC children's program Blue Peter. "The Golden Age of Ballooning" spoofed costume drama's on the BBC.
- Referenced in the game show Beat the Geeks. The host of the show once jokingly referred to Michael Jackson as "the guy who did all those Weird Al parodies".
- Sadly, the Effect did not help music geek Andy Zax. He was unable to describe the cover of Weird Al's album "Off The Deep End", despite it being a parody of Nirvana's "Nevermind", the topic of the previous question.
- Popular and light-hearted WW2-themed TV sitcom Hogan's Heroes was considered at the time to be a rip-off of the darkly humourous 1953 movie Stalag 17 (itself an adaptation of the Broadway play of the same name), starring William Holden. While the producers of Hogan's Heroes never acknowledged the parody, the two were similar enough to inspire a successful lawsuit by the creators of Stalag 17; even down the name of the bumbling German guard "Seargent Shulz". Today, Hogan's Heroes is an icon of American pop culture; while Stalag 17 is known only to serious classic film and theatre buffs.
- Chappelle's Show made popular many things, but none of which are as readily quoted as David Chappelle's Rick James impersonation: "I'm Rick James, bitch!" If you were to ask anybody trying to imitate this catchphrase who were born after 1980, they wouldn't even know who the real Rick James is, except some funny sketch from a comedy television show.
- Kids who grew up watching Sesame Street in the early-mid 1980s were likely introduced to Charlie Chaplin's "Little Tramp" character from the shorts starring Maria (Sonia Manzano) doing a Chaplin impression (with Emilio Delgado playing the Tramp's Butt Monkey) before (or even instead of) ever seeing the original Chaplin movies.
- Either that, or they saw the original TV and print ads for the IBM PS1 computer, which adopted Chaplin as an unofficial spokesperson (four years after his death!) in 1981.
- Community An in-universe example. Britta does an impression of a bit Jon Stewart does frequently on The Daily Show, itself an impression of Johnny Carson, which comes off as a weird impersonation of Carson. When asked "Is that your Johnny Carson?" Britta is confused, and says no, it was her Jon Stewart.
- Later in the episode another in-universe example plays off the first in-universe one: when Alan does his Carson impression Troy says he's "got Britta down."
- In Spain, La Hora Chanante's sketch "Hijo de puta más" (More son of a bitch) is better known than the song that it's based on, Mr. T's "Treat Your Mother Right".
- Barney & Friends: People are now more familiar with the opening theme and the closing theme "I Love You" than the songs they were based on: "Yankee Doodle" and "This Old Man", respectively.
- The Muppet Show was originally a parody of the barely-remembered variety shows that were a staple of 70s TV.
- The syndicated talk show The Morning Show with Mike & Juliet lasted just two seasons and is largely forgotten. However, the Spaghetti Cat meme, which it unwittingly originated, is still around.
- In some Spanish-speaking countries, the song "Pluma Pluma Gay" is more popular/better known than "Dragostea din tei", the song it parodies.
- In Brazil, a cover that isn't a parody but certainly takes a Filth detour, "Festa no Apê", also obscures "Dragostea din tei";
- And in some English-speaking countries, "Dragostea din tei" itself is widely associated with the "Numa Numa Guy", a video of a man doing a silly dance to the song ("numa numa" is a soramimi of some of its lyrics) that became an early internet meme in the mid-2000s.
- A double-Weird Al Effect: What is usually referred to as "the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey" is actually a piece by the late-Romantic German composer Richard Strauss, entitled "Also Sprach Zarathustra". Considering how widely-used the song is outside of the movie that featured it, it is strange how few people know that. But fewer still know that the Strauss piece was itself an homage to the essay of the same title by Friedrich Nietzsche.
- English-speakers are probably more familiar with the beginning of The Beatles "All You Need is Love" than the beginning of France's National Anthem.
- Another Beatles song, "Back in the USSR," was originally written as a tribute to a Chuck Berry song, "Back in the USA," that is largely unremembered by comparison to the Beatles song. It was also a sarcastic response to a buy-native-made-goods ad campaign which used the slogan "I'm Backing Britain" (the refrain sounded like "I'm backin' the USSR") which no one remembers either.
- For you American kids who sang "My Country, 'Tis of Thee (America)" in 2nd grade, you probably don't know that its melody is taken off "God Save the King/Queen".
- Similarly, what US kids would call "The Graduation Song" (and is actually called "Pomp and Circumstance") contains the patriotic British anthem "Land of Hope and Glory" by Sir Edward Elgar.
- Speaking about anthems, Britain's God Save the King/Queen is (allegedly) an adaptation of an earlier French anthem (Grand Dieu sauve le Roi) that was composed to commemorate Louis XIV's recovery from some painful hemorrhoids. Indeed.
- AKA, even more esoterically, "We Wear Our Blue and White."
- You mean, it's not a cover of a Queen guitar instrumental on A Night At The Opera?! The one they played on the PA at the end of their concerts?
- Molly and Emily from the American Girls Collection fight over that very subject.
- The Merry Go 'Round Broke Down is best known as "the theme song to Looney Tunes".
- Or that one song that Roger Rabbit plays when he breaks plates against his head.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit actually helps counteract the Weird Al Effect in this instance, as a few scenes later, Judge Doom says the name of the song in a very memorable scene. It's also a Freeze-Frame Bonus, as pointed out by the DVD extras.
- Similarly, Merrily We Roll Along, from Billboard Frolics of 1935, is only known today as the Merrie Melodies tune and an incorrect alternative set of lyrics set to the tune of Mary had a Little Lamb.
- Looney Tunes has done this to other music. Thanks to "What's Opera, Doc?" many people can't hear "Ride of the Valkyries" without singing "Kill da wabbit!" And the 19th-century song "Those Endearing Young Charms" is known today mainly for its use in a recurring Looney Tunes gag where a piano or xylophone explodes—or at least it was until "Come On Eileen" came along.
- Similar to the Roger Rabbit example above, Animaniacs had Slappy Squirrel use the proper name for the song, teaching at least some viewers its real name.
- Cheech & Chong's "Basketball Jones" is much better known than the song it was originally parodying: "Love Jones" by The Brighter Side of Darkness.
- The song "Flappie", by Dutch comedian Youp van 't Hek, was originally (in 1981) intended as a parody of Christmas songs, both contemporary and the older carols, and mostly of the fake 'Christmas spirit' people felt they needed to put up. Now most people don't realize that and play this song simply for the humorous lyrics (it tells the story of how a boy finds out his father killed his rabbit (called 'Flappie') to serve at the Christmas dinner). It's even a staple of the Christmas songs played on radio and in malls.
- The Star Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the United States of America, is a poem that was set to the tune of The Anacreontic Song (a.k.a. To Anacreon in Heaven). How many Americans have ever heard (or even heard of) the original drinking song, popularized by a society of amateur musicians to the point where it was often used as a sobriety test — its melody was so tortuous that if you could actually sing a stanza, you were sober enough for another round.
- "The Anacreontic Song" was also supposed to be performed as a lively minuet. Such a performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" today would be received as irreverent and un-American.
- "The Star-Spangled Banner was performed as a lively minuet until John Philips Sousa rearranged it circa 1900 to make it sound more majestic, and added, amongst other things, the two holds and the counterpoint. Most current arrangements are based on the Sousa version. The original, more spritely version can be heard in the Ken Burns documentary The Civil War.
- The Battle Hymn of the Republic ("Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord") took its melody (and some of its lyrics) from the Civil War marching song John Brown's Body.
- ...which took its melody from Say, Brothers, Will You Meet Us.
- And which has subsequently found many new versions as summer camp songs such as "I wear my pink pajamas in the summer when it's hot..."
- "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school..." AKA "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah/Teacher hit me with a ruler..."; every UGA fan has this stuck in their heads.
- Plus the Engineers drinking song, "Lady Godiva". Many Engineering students only know this song with the words: "We are, we are, we are, we are, we are the engineers. We can, we can, we can, we can demolish forty beers!".
- National Lampoon's Deteriorata is obviously a parody of Desiderata, but the style is a parody of a hit record recording of Desiderata by Les Crane in 1971, including the narmy "You are a child of the universe" chorus.
- Allan Sherman's breakout hit Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! is more well-known than its source, Amilcare Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours.
- And nowadays the K9 Advantix commercial that uses a lyrically changed version of the song is probably more well-known to younger audiences.
- And if not either of these, there's Fantasia's version accompanying the dancing ostriches and other animals.
- What was just mentioned above gets lampshaded in an episode of Family Guy in which Peter, after visiting a 1950s-themed diner, becomes enamored with '50s and '60s novelty tunes. His absolute favorite is "Surfin' Bird" by The Trashmen, which he starts listening to ad infinitum and obsesses about to the point that the rest of the Griffin family becomes sick of the song. His old LP of Sherman's "Camp Granada" song also objects, stomping out the door in a huff while claiming (in a stereotypical upstate New York accent) that there are many "old Jews out there" who still want to listen to it.
- "Surfin' Bird", incidentally, is combination of "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" and "The Bird's the Word" by The Rivingtons, and is now better known than either of them.
- And there may be one or two in the audience who remembered when the short-lived CBS cartoon Birdz used a cover of "Surfin' Bird" as its theme song.
- "On top of Spa-ghehhhhhh-tiiiiiii, all covered with cheeeeeeeeeeeeese..." For all non-yanks in the Audience On Top of Old Smokey is an American Folk Song. And for all those Americans in the audience too young to remember any but the least obscure folk songs, the third line is "lost my true lover", not "shot my poor teacher".
- Another rendition of this for military children in Japan is "On top of Mt Fuji, all covered with sand, I shot my poor teacher, with a rubber band."
- 'On Top of Spaghetti' is a real song. Copyrighted and everything.
- The melody to the children's song "Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes" is taken from the verses of the song "There is a Tavern in the Town", a late 19th century drinking song.
- Gracie Fields' "Sing As We Go" from the 1930's is almost completely forgotten today, save for the melody—instantly recognizable as Monty Python's "Sit On My Face."
- The catchy tune "Mah NA Mah NA"note is known to most people in English-speaking countries from the first episode of The Muppet Show. It's actually from the soundtrack of an exploitative and inaccurate Italian "documentary" on Sweden.
- While it probably won't eclipse the Muppets, the ROFLMAO Song by Oxhorn is fairly well known. In fact, click on it and check under Crowning Music.
- Also, younger Muppet viewers might have originally thought the "word" was "phenomenon" and that the song came from Kermit and Sandra Bullock.
- In the UK at least, novelty group The Wurzels' song about their brand new combine harvester is better-known than the original, "Brand New Key" by Melanie.
- "I'm Looking Over My Dead Dog Rover", in its various and sundry forms (almost all of which claim to be first), started out as a parody of "I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf-Clover".
- Many tunes for prim and proper church hymns were actually co-opted from drinking songs.
- And in turn, many were co-opted as union songs, the best-known of which are "The Preacher and the Slave" ("The Sweet By and By") and "Which Side Are You On?" ("Lay the Lily Low").
- Thank you, Martin Luther; all those months spent, ahem, researching folk songs in German taverns have left behind some great pieces of music.
- Bar Form. It's a common misunderstanding on the part of people who don't know anything about music history—or church history, for that matter.
- Could be the case for "Work That Sucker To Death" by Xavier, with "Boss Theme (Japanese)", a song being much better known in the Sonic community that samples the chorus.
- The 1961 Harry Belafonte song "Monkey" is more well-known for being covered and parodied on an episode of Animaniacs.
- The classic Shaker hymn Simple Gifts has been appropriated twice: Once for another hymn (Lord of the Dance), but most people would recognize it as the first movement of Aaron Copland's ballet/suite Appalachian Spring. The tune is attributed: that section is titled Variations on a Shaker Melody.
- People who were in elementary school wind ensembles probably first knew it as an unnamed (or possibly numbered) warm-up "etude".
- Weezer's "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived", subtitled "Variations on a Shaker Hymn"—you guessed it.
- Speaking of Copland, how many people can hear the Hoedown from his "Rodeo" (itself based on an older folk tune), and not immediately think "Beef, it's what's for dinner"?
- Rap gets subjected to this All. The. Time. Play the opening of Rick James's "Super Freak" for anyone born after 1980, and I can practically guarantee you that they'll start chanting, "Can't touch this!"
- Same with "Under Pressure." It's managed to avoid this in a way though, as most people will wonder until the guitar part if it's "Under Pressure" or "Ice Ice Baby."
- This is happening to "Johnny B. Goode" in Poland. While a lot of people know the song from Back to the Future, the parody made by a famous Polish cabaret "Ani Mru Mru" is becoming more known.
- John Philip Sousa's "The Liberty Bell March" is now better known as the theme for Monty Python's Flying Circus.
- Hearing this theme played straight at the inauguration of U.S. presidents is something that amuses British people - and Python-literate Americans - immensely. A possible urban myth has it that the British dsiplomatic contingent at the inauguration of President Clinton all, without fail, blew a squelching-raspberry noise at the end of the sixteenth bar. Some things become ingrained...
- For some time after the movie Excalibur came out, the "O Fortuna" movement from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana was widely known as "that music from Excalibur".
- For those in the '80s who were unfamiliar with Excalibur, it was "the music from Conan the Barbarian" — or "that Old Spice music" (from an aftershave commercial).
- Now it's "that music in all those movie trailers."
- It's also almost unknown to all but the most hardcore orchestral music buffs, that Carl Orff's Carmina Burana is actually an adaptation of a much older collection of Latin and German songs and poems by the same name (many of them quite bawdy for their time).
- "Estuans interius ira vehementi". Odds are you're not thinking of one of the poems, or even the Orff rendition, as much as you're thinking of Final Fantasy VII. The same goes for the rest of the non-Sephiroth lyrics of that song. (In fact, "sors, immanis et inanis" comes from "O Fortuna" itself.)
- Most people will recognise Entry of the Gladiators as the Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey circus music. Even if they know better, they probably won't give a Fucik.
- The William Tell Overture is far better known as the Lone Ranger's theme music.
- A case of Tropes Are Not Good, Hervé Roy's "Lover's Theme" is known nowadays as the background music for Two Girls, One Cup. If you want to talk about intellectual vandalism...
- "Burlington Bertie" is still a well-known Music Hall song, if only from its appearance in The Muppet Show. Except that song, about a vagrant claiming to be an Upper-Class Twit, is actually called "Burlington Bertie From Bow", a parody of an earlier Music Hall song called "Burlington Bertie" that really was about an Upper-Class Twit.
- When hearing Bill Haley and the Comets music to "Rock Around the Clock," do you expect to hear: "Sunday, Monday Happy Days"?
- There was once a Russian musical piece called "Days of our life". They had to stop playing it because whenever they did, everyone was laughing at remembering the parody. Today, the music is recognizable, and most people at least remember the first lines of the parody (A large crocodile lady was walking on the streets).
- In Brazil, a certain child's song ("Criança feliz, feliz a cantar. Alegre a embalar seu sonho infantil."note ) is overshadowed by its parody version ("Criança feliz, quebrou o nariz, foi pro hospital, tomar Sonrisal..."note . A line of the latter was even used in a popular Pato Fu song.
- Even though he had a long solo career, wrote entire albums for Frank Sinatra and The 4 Seasons, and became a prolific ad jingle writer, Jake Holmes is mainly remembered now because Led Zeppelin (ahem) "borrowed" his song "Dazed and Confused".
- Fans of The Dead Milkmen might think the joke of "Watching Scotty Die" is just the fact that it's a peaceful-sounding, country-esque ballad about a young boy dying from exposure to poisonous chemicals... In fact it's a parody of the significantly sappier "Watching Scotty Grow", a Bobby Goldsboro hit released more than 15 years earlier.
- "(Theme From) Blood Orgy Of The Atomic Fern" has a bridge where Rodney Anonymous starts sing/speaking what sounds like deliberately bad angsty high school poetry (followed by a chant of "No art!"). The "poetry" is actually taken straight from the most commonly used English translation of famously morbid Hungarian ballad "Gloomy Sunday".
- Few Russians know the 1906 song On the Hills of Manchuria. However, play the melody, and everyone will be able to remember a few (mostly obscene) out of a virtually endless number of stanzas starting with "It's quite in the forest".
- The theme from Carmen has been used in so many places such as The Bad News Bears and in a musical Hamlet episode of Gilligan's Island that most people have no idea where it's from originally.
- During the 70's there was a commercial selling a classical music album base on this trope.
- "I'm sure you recognize this lovely melody as 'Stranger in Paradise.' But did you know that the original theme is from the Polovetsian Dance No. 2 by Borodin?. So many of the tunes of our well-known popular songs were actually written by the great masters—like these familiar themes... "
- "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" was written about soldiers during the American Civil War, but most today know it as the playground song "The Ants Go Marching One By One." The Civil War song was a version of the much more depressing Irish song "Johnny we hardly Knew Ye" about a soldier returning from war missing his limbs.
- People may be forgiven if they mistake these two scores but just to make things clear: This music was derived from this score. Not the other way around. (the anime series from which it came from was shown in 1990 whereas the film came out in 1989. You do the math.)
- Frank Zappa often uses high pitched or low pitched singing voices in his repertoire. Most younger Zappa fans assume his singers are just putting on funny voices, while when you listen to a lot of 1950s doowop songs you'll notice those comically sounding singing voices really aren't that far off.
- The catchphrase "Will the real [person's name] please stand up?" is now more likely to be associated with Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady" than the 1960s/70s game show To Tell the Truth.
- The line "two trailer park girls go 'round the outside" from "Without Me" is adapted from the line "two Buffalo Gals go 'round the outside" from "Buffalo Gals" by Malcolm McLaren, who was best known as The Sex Pistols' manager.
- The tune we now hear as "Hail, hail the Gangs all here" comes from "With Catlike tread" in Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance", which was a pretty obvious homage of "The Anvil Chorus" or "Gypsy Chorus" from Verdi's "Il Trovatore"
- While there's no question of precedence, Finnish people born after the 70s (and not actively into Christmas music) will be able to sing the gruesome parody versionnote of an old, sappy Christmas song (Joulupuu on rakennettu) at the drop of a hat, but struggle to remember the original lyricsnote .
- Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" is well set on the road to this trope, as it's already more well-known for its numerous parodies than for the song itself.
- "Aquarela do Brasil" ("Watercolor of Brazil") dates back to 1939, and gained initial success in the States via the Walt Disney film Saludos Amigos. However, due to being one of two songs in Terry Gilliam's Brazil, most people most commonly associate it with that, and as a result just call it "Brazil" or "the song from Brazil". The younger set will probably only remember it from the WALL•E trailer. And the lyrics (or anything beyond the initial "bum-bum-bum, bum-bum-bum-ba-bum"s) are virtually forgotten.
- Chuck Mangione is probably better-known today for his recurring role on King of the Hill than his lengthy musical career. His big hit "Feels So Good," even more so.
- You know that kids' song "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands"? Would you believe it was once called "Mademoiselle from Armentieres, Parlez-Vous?"
- The cover art for The Clash's iconic London Calling◊ album was intended as a pretty blatant homage to Elvis Presley's self-titled debut album◊. These days everyone recognizes London Calling (to the point that it itself is often paid homage to and imitated), but most young music fans couldn't tell you what inspired it.
- Every Finnish schoolchild knows "I Know A Place So Awful"note , an ode to a child's hate of school. Few know there ever was a straight version "I Know A Place So Dear"note on the loveliness of home.
- WWE fans in the 1990s probably thought that the "monster" wrestlers (Mankind, Kane, and so forth) were highly original gimmicks. They might be disappointed to learn that Gorilla Monsoon had been wrestling under the same basic shtick more than a generation earlier.
- Many of the radio parodies Bob & Ray did. Notably by spoofing the then-hit Soap Opera "Mary Noble, Backstage Wife" as "Mary Backstayge, Noble Wife". The former was a deadly-earnest story of an 'ordinary woman' married to a matinee idol; the latter... culminated, around 1970, in Mary and her family leaving showbiz altogether to open a toast-themed restaurant. The series having earlier openly mocked Senator Joseph McCarthy at the height of the Army hearings. It is still one of B&R's best-known skits.
- "Mornington Crescent" is more likely to be known in the UK as the name of one of the rounds from I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue than as a station on The London Underground.
- Many AFL clubs' theme songs are better known to Australians (at least in AFL states) than the songs they are based on. Even where those based on songs that are still widely known (Adelaide - the US Marine Corps Hymn; Brisbane - "La Marsellaise"; Geelong - Song of the Toreador from Carmen; Hawthorn - "Yankee Doodle Dandy"; St Kilda - "When the Saints Go Marching In"), people are more likely to be familiar with the club song lyrics, while once-popular songs used by other clubs (Carlton - "Lily of Laguna"; Collingwood - "Goodbye Dolly Gray"; Essendon - "Keep Your Sunny Side Up"; Melbourne - "Grand Old Flag"; North Melbourne - "Wee Doch an Dorus"; Richmond - "Row, Row, Row"; Sydney - "Notre Dame March"; Western Bulldogs - "Sons of the Sea") are now known almost exclusively as the club songs. Here are some of the original versions.
- Brian Posehn, a Weird Al fan, brings this trope up while talking about how he is unsure of the proper way to introduce Weird Al's music to his kids.
Should I make them listen to the original song first, and then go "Okay, here's Weird Al's version of it"? Or should I pretend they they are all completely original songs? That would be easier, but it might mess him up a bit, like when he's 16 and at some party and Michael Jackson
starts playing, and he goes "Wait a minute! What the hell is this?! "Beat It"?! Well it sure sounds a hell of a lot like "Eat It"! Somebody
needs to get sued."
- Hardly anyone realises that the willow song in The Mikado was actually a parody of the song Desdemona sings in Othello.
- Which itself was a well-known tune at the time, a fact that is lampshaded in the play when Desdemona accidentally starts singing the wrong verse and catches herself.
- Hamlet was written as a parody of action plays popular around Shakespeare's time, in particular the most popular play in the Elizabethan era, a simple revenge plot about the Danish prince written by Thomas Kyd. While Hamlet has become one of Shakespeare's most popular plays and the main role a key challenge for actors, the Kyd play has been lost. When referred to by scholars, it's called "Ur-Hamlet."
- Also, Amleth.
- In Shakespeare's day it was very common for writers to rewrite well known stories, telling the same tales over and over with variation. Novelty wasn't exactly prized in art. As a result, many of Shakespeare's plays are based on other stories and/or plays.
- The famous quote from Twelfth Night, "some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em" is a parody of Matthew 19:12: "For there are some eunuchs, which were so borne of their mothers belly: and there be some eunuchs, which be gelded by men: and there be some eunuchs, which have gelded themselves for the kingdom of Heaven." (From the Geneva Bible, a modernized version of the translation Shakespeare would be most likely to have read, omitting the annotations telling to take it metaphorically.) Between the Squick of this verse and Shakespeare's importance, the first quote has become far more familiar than the second.
- And many people associate it with Joseph Heller's Catch-22 rather than Shakespeare.
- Even certain video games are old enough to fall into this trope. For example: Brian Clevinger's 8-Bit Theater has permanently altered how Black Mage from Final Fantasy is perceived. Also, Clevinger recast the White Mage as The Chick in everyone's minds, even though the original character had Ambiguous Gender. Clevinger didn't alter their personalities, he created ones where there were none in the first place. Originally, one must assume, the player was supposed to fill in the characters themselves, making Final Fantasy 1 a very lonely place.
- Metal Gear's Solid Snake (and to a lesser extent, his predecessor Big Boss) has become a more popular character than Snake Plissken, the character he was originally a pastiche of.
- Hardly anyone knows the name "Korobeiniki", but almost everyone will recognize it as Tetris Theme A.
- Duke Nukem was not the first guy to make a One-Liner regarding the kicking of asses and the chewing of gum.
- Dan Hibiki from Street Fighter Alpha (and following Street Fighter games) was a parody of the two main characters from Art of Fighting: Ryo Sakazaki and Robert Garcia. This was a result of the original Street Fighter designers jumped ship to SNK and helped create Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting. Suffice it to say, Capcom was not happy, and the two companies shared a deep rivalry throughout the 90s. However, Street Fighter is much better-known in North America than the King of Fighters games and has moved much further into the mainstream due to several separate factors, so it's not uncommon for an American fan of the series to not know that Dan is a parody of anyone specific, or to assume that he's just a parody of Ryu and Ken.
- While it's very well known in Japan, not many Western fans of Touhou know that the title of the "Marisa stole the precious thing" meme is a parody of a line by Inspector Zenigata from The Castle of Cagliostro. Possibly because the original line has a slightly different wording if translated: "He (Lupin III) stole something outrageous - your heart."
- Similarly, most Western fans don't know that OVERDRIVE'S famous EASY MODO?! is a parody of the H-doujin Datsu! Doutei.
- Most people today will probably be more familiar with Morrowind, an area in The Elder Scrolls, than they will be with Morrowindl, an area in The Heritage of Shannara that it was likely based on.
- There was a popular AMV a few years ago called "Euphoria". It combined the song "Must Be Dreaming" with the anime RahXephon. Rather better-known these days is a parody from AMV Hell 3: "Osaka Must Be Dreaming". (Same visual effects, same song, but with clips of Osaka.)
- Inverted on Atop the Fourth Wall whenever 90s Kid appears. Many people assume that's Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" playing in the background, but Lovhaug actually uses the Weird Al parody "Smells Like Nirvana."
- Speaking of That Guy with the Glasses, how many people do you suppose get Doug's repeated references to the TV show One Step Beyond? Most people are far likelier to have heard of The Nostalgia Critic and therefore assume the catch phrase originated with him.
- A great many movies featured on the various shows on That Guy with the Glasses are often obscure enough for the audience not to have seen them elsewhere. This is particularly true for The Cinema Snob and his impressive collection of truly obscure and terrible movies.
- The Biting Pear of Salamanca, also known as the LOLWUT Pear.
- There's a College Humor video in which someone tells a story of Amir ordering "Gangsta's Paradise" on karaoke only to sing "Amish Paradise." The owner of the bar later said that they actually had "Amish Paradise" in the machine.
- The Kitsune^2 song, Avast Your Ass is a popular song for remixes. One such remix, Avast Fluttershy's Ass is more often searched for than the original, and has over twice as many views. The fact that it's about Fluttershy is most likely a huge contributing factor to this.
Western Animation - Looney Tunes
- Classic cartoons such as Looney Tunes are chock full of this. Caricatures of celebrities, fragments of dialog from then-contemporary movies, catchphrases from old-time radio shows, parodies of once-popular songs; all sailed right over your head if you were a kid watching on Saturday morningnote decades later.
- Bugs Bunny steals entire blocks of shtick from Red Skelton, Groucho Marx and old-time comedian Joe Besser.
- Daffy Duck's speech patterns and impediment were based on producer Leon Schlesinger — who reportedly never noticed.
- The character of Foghorn Leghorn was closely modeled on a radio character named Senator Claghorn. Catch phrases such as "That's a joke, son", now associated..."I say", associated exclusively with the loudmouthed roosternote , were appropriated wholesale from the Senator, who today is all but forgotten. Ironically, actor Kenny Delmar, who voiced Claghorn on Fred Allen's show, could do nothing about it because he hadn't copyrighted the character — copyright was not automatic at the time in the United States. But Warner Brothers did copyright Foghorn Leghorn, meaning Delmar had to get permission from WB to use his own character!
- Even more ironically, Jon Stewart has referred to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) as "Senator Foghorn Leghorn".
- From The Other Wiki:
Bugsy's nonchalant carrot-chewing stance, as explained many years later by Chuck Jones, and again by Friz Freleng and Bob Clampett, comes from the movie It Happened One Night
, from a scene where the Clark Gable character is leaning against a fence eating carrots more quickly than he is swallowing (as Bugs would later often do), giving instructions with his mouth full to the Claudette Colbert
character, during the hitch-hiking sequence. This scene was so famous at the time that most people immediately got the connection.
- People are also more familiar with Daffy Duck in Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century than with its parody target Buck Rogers in the 25th Centurynote .
- Daffy is also responsible for permanently changing the pronunciation of an English word. The word "despicable" is actually supposed to be pronounced with the accent on the first syllable: "DES-picable". Mispronouncing it was part of Daffy's Malaproper schtick. However, since the cartoons reached so many kids who were too young to have the real pronunciation in their vocabularies yet, Daffy's "You're de-SPICK-able" was the pronunciation they all learned. And it holds true still today: That Steve Carrell movie isn't called DES-picable Me. On the other hand, few people nowadays say "FORM-idable" or "LAM-entable" either, and that can hardly be blamed on Daffy.
- Conversely, Bugs Bunny is likely responsible for the term "Nimrod" as an insult. He says it to Elmer Fudd sarcastically, as Nimrod was a great hunter in the Bible. (Apparently, moviegoers in the 1940s had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Old Testament.) It is likely that anyone using the term today will be using it to say that the target of the word is foolish or stupid.
- Mel Blanc's impression of Peter Lorre in particular really took on a life of its own. The real Lorre's voice wasn't nearly as raspy as Blanc's imitation, but that imitation has inspired so many others that people raised on them might not even recognize Lorre in any of his films.
- The Dover Boys is well known as the cartoon where Chuck Jones found his voice with stylized off-the-wall slapstick. Hardly anyone remembers the Rover Boys books it spoofed.
- Pepé Le Pew is based on Charles Boyer's Pépé le Moko (from the film Algiers), with a little bit of Maurice Chevalier thrown in. Even if you've heard of these sources, they are less familiar than the amorous skunk is.
- Not quite. He is actually a parody of a (then) well known French actor named Jean Gabin who stared in "Pépé le Moko" which was re-made in English as "Algiers", making this a potential I Am Not Shazam.
- If most younger viewers watch that really thin character type, with blue, blue eyes, and a velvet voice singing and making the females faint, might not know that's a parody of a young "Franky" Sinatra. Yeah, the Blue Eyes himself.
- Lampshaded in a Gilmore Girls episode where Lorelai wonders out loud about whether anvils were so ubiquitous that they would've been so easily recognized by children watching the cartoons.
- While Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is not exactly obscure, it probably says something that the trope And Call Him George is named after a cartoon parody of it. The trope's association with Dumb Muscle cartoon characters is so much a part of comedy now that most students reading Of Mice And Men in modern times are absolutely unable to take it seriously, despite it being quite a tragic story.
- Background characters often got one-liners or mannerisms that were taken from the Fibber McGee and Molly radio show, including "That ain't the way I heered it!", "Oh, is that you, Myrt? How's every little thing?", "I bet-cha", and "Tain't funny, McGee!". One of the show's regular cast members, Arthur Q. Bryan, supplied the voice for Elmer Fudd, making him one of the three male voice actors, along with Mel Blanc and Stan Freberg, to regularly appear in the classic Looney Tunes shorts.
- The title character from the Fibber spinoff show The Great Gildersleeve was also parodied several times — Bugs even did a Lampshade Hanging for one, saying that he sounded like "that guy on the radio, The Great Gildersneeze". Many shorts also borrowed the catchphrase of Gildersleeve supporting character Mr. Peavey: "Well, now, I wouldn't say that!"
- The Road Runner was originally intended as a parody of all the chase scenes that were frequent in many cartoons from The Golden Age of Animation. Now it's almost the famous example of "chase cartoon". To be fair, at least one of the cartoons that they parodied is still very well known.
- Looney Tunes themselves started out as a parody/response to Disney's Silly Symphonies. Nowadays, Looney Tunes are considered as famous as the Classic Disney Shorts if not more so, and possibly the defacto Alternate Company Equivalent.
Western Animation - Other
- The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy, American Dad!, South Park, Robot Chicken, Dreamworks,... all suffer from this. All these series parody many aspects of pop culture like TV series, film, politics,... that are misinterpreted or not recognized by everyone, especially people who are younger than the creators of these shows.
- This is simultaneously Parodied and Lampshaded in Animaniacs when the Warners meet Rasputin. They toss him into a dentist's chair and announce that they need to give him some "Anastasia." A girl in a tiara and a poofy dress then hit Rasputin on the head with a hammer. Dot turns to the camera and deadpans, "Obscure joke. Talk to your parents." This episode predates the Don Bluth movie by several years, so the joke may have lost its obscurity on some kids after the movie came out.
- The process is still going on — consider all of the increasingly dated early '90s references in Tiny Toon Adventures.
- Likewise, Steamboat Willie, well-remembered as the first talking Mickey Mouse cartoon, is a loose parody of a contemporary Buster Keaton feature, Steamboat Bill, Jr.
- Cartoons like Mickey's Gala Premiere, Mickey's Polo Team, and the Donald Duck cartoon The Autograph Hound were full to the brim with famous celebrities of the time.
- The black and white Mickey cartoon The Klondike Kid is a mash-up of The Shooting of Dan McGrew and The Gold Rush.
- Guess who Mickey imitates in the black and white cartoon Mickey Plays Papa?
- In the cartoon The Hockey Champ Donald is seen at the beginning parodying then-famous skater/actress Sonya Henie.
- Helen "boop-a-doop" Kane is now recalled as having been like Betty Boop — which she was before Betty Boop was created.
- All of the examples quoted in Simpsons episode The Day the Violence Died fit this trope:
- The Robinson-Wiggum connection was lampshaded again in the 2008 "Treehouse of Horror" episode. A bunch of celebrities came back from the dead to get back for gratuitous use of their images after death. Robinson came after Wiggum — and they had a conversation mirroring each other exactly.
- Similarly, in "Simpsons Bible Stories", Moses's story has Wiggum playing an Egyptian foreman clearly inspired on Robinson's role as Dathan in The Ten Commandments, down to the line "Where's your Messiah NOW?"
- Professor Frink is a parody of comedian Jerry Lewis' nerdy characters, again something that is lost on younger generations.
- Bumblebee Man is a parody of El Chapulín Colorado, a Mexican comedian who dressed himself as a grasshopper.
- Major Joe Quimby's voice mimicks John F. Kennedy.
- In the DVD commentary track for the fourth season of The Simpsons, the writers doing the commentary specifically point out that the scene at the end of "Selma's Choice" where Selma is shown cradling her new pet iguana to the tune of "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman" is a reference to Murphy Brown singing to her newborn son, because they were afraid viewers wouldn't "get it".
- The Simpsons also frequently parodies "classic" horror concepts in its Halloween episodes. Most younger viewers, especially outside the United States, who never saw The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits don't realize many plots were borrowed from these TV series. Even more obscure is one segment that parodies a segment from the less known Amazing Stories fantasy/science-fiction anthology titled "Hell Toupee". Unlike its cousins, Amazing Stories didn't usually go into horror, and the original tale was fairly light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek... making it even less likely it'd be recognized more than the parody.
- The main theme from the 1991 version of Cape Fear was rather famous in its day, as it's a wonderfully atmospheric piece that evokes just the right sense of impending terror. Today, it's almost universally known as Sideshow Bob's theme music, thanks to an episode which parodied the film and played the theme from the movie whenever Bob was around.
- That theme is even older, since it's based on part of Bernard Herrmann's score for the 1962 version of Cape Fear (played once at the very end).
- Eventually the creators took notice of this and made it Bob's official leitmotif. In later seasons, a few bars of it always play whenever he shows up.
- Similarly, in a few years all the references to Frasier that tend to go hand-in-hand with Bob episodes will be meaningless.
- Another musical relation in The Simpsons shows Homer singing modified lyrics to Frank Sinatra's "It Was A Very Good Year" (when he was remembering the time he bought his first six-pack at a liquor store with an obviously fake ID — It's best not to think about how he got away with it). Anyone thinking of the song nowadays is likely to think of Homer's rendition.
- Richard Nixon is nowadays better remembered by children as the head in a jar in Futurama than an actual US president from the 1960s-1970s.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy has Dracula, a dead-on impersonation of Fred Sanford from Sanford and Son, complete with a penchant for calling people "Dummy".
- He's also drawn to look like an older version of Blacula, complete with early 70's sideburns and mustache.
- Its parody of the H. P. Lovecraft mythos, "The Crank Call of Cthulhu", must go over the heads of most young viewers as well.
- The Cuddle Buddies from Kim Possible are on the surface send-ups of Beanie Babies. But if you dig further, you'll note their unmistakable resemblance to The Wuzzles, a slightly obscure 1980's kids' show also produced by Disney. The Wuzzles was also Merchandise-Driven; when that show was current, store shelves did have boxes with stuffed Wuzzles on/in them. Disney remembers that aspect...
- Grandpa from Hey Arnold! has a photo stashed away of Hedy Lamarr. Naturally, kids had to go ask their parents.
- The "Log" song from The Ren & Stimpy Show is a parody of classic Slinky commercials.
- There's also comedian Stinky Wizzleteats from "Stimpy's Invention," a spoof of actor/musician Burl Ives. Specifically the lines about "teaching your grandmother to suck eggs" and "I told you I'd shoot but you didn't believe me!" come from The Big Country.
- The classic schtick of two characters trying to out-polite each other "After you. No I insist after you." has been done innumerable times in Goofy Gophers and Heckle And Jeckle cartoons. Both of these are parodies of a much older comic strip routine involving two guys named Alphonse and Gaston. The only way a non-historian would have heard those names would be at a baseball game. (An "Alphonse and Gaston" is when two guys chase a fly ball and simultaneously pull up so it drops between them.) And then you need an announcer who loves the classics.
- On "It's That Man Again", a wartime BBC radio show, it was "After you Claude." "After YOU, Cecil."
- The sideplot of A Goofy Movie revolves around a fictional pop singer called Powerline. Some argue that he's a twofer parody of Michael Jackson and Prince. Goofy also remarks that this Powerline fellow can't nearly be as big as Xavier Cugat, "The Mambo King."
- The sequel, An Extremely Goofy Movie has several references to '70s pop culture.
- It's just easier to say that Robot Chicken is another Weird Al Effect machine a la Alice in Wonderland, particularly when it comes to '80s cartoons and toys.
- "Oh my god! Somebody remembered this movie and made a comedy sketch about it!"
- Most younger fans may not be aware that the chickens bawking in the end is the Gonk from Dawn of the Dead and instead refer to it as the Theme Tune.
- Most American Dad! viewers don't seem to be aware that Roger's distinctive voice and mannerisms (done by Seth MacFarlane) are intended to parody Paul Lynde.
- Lynde is a frequent victim of this trope, as his voice is imitated quite often in cartoons. The result is that some animation fans think of his voice as a stock cartoon voice used for Ambiguously Gay or just plain Camp Gay male characters and aren't aware that all those voices stem from one man. He did some voice work himself, such as the Hanna-Barbera 'toons The Perils of Penelope Pitstop and Charlotte's Web. HB were so well known for using celebrity imitators in their cartoons, that even people who have heard of Mr. Lynde probably assumed it was an imitation.
- What they really aren't aware of is that Lynde stole his manner of speaking and mannerisms from Alice Ghostley, a popular Broadway star of the '50s who later became a Hollywood character actress (Lynde openly credited her, so this isn't mere gossip either).
- Interestingly, both Lynde and Ghostley each had a recurring role on the TV series Bewitched.
- For that matter, Seth McFarlane's penchant for referencing 1980s TV and movies, along with 1950s lounge music, has made his shows into a Weird Al Effect machine for people too young to remember those decades (AKA the vast majority of his audience). Family Guy is a much bigger offender than American Dad, though.
- The opening titles of Family Guy are a parody of the opening titles of All in the Family, something that is completely lost on younger viewers.
- Family Guy's penchant for obscureness runs the gamut — especially when it comes to parodies. For example, a number of people might recognize a song they play straight — such as "Shapoopi" from The Music Man — but how many people actually know that the "Fellas at the Freakin' FCC" song from the episode "PTV" is sung to the tune of a song from an obscure Broadway musical called Take Me Along?
- Seth McFarlane's love of old movies, demonstrated in the score reference to The Sea Hawk during a car chase seen that turns in to a parody of age of sail ship to ship battles.
- Go to YouTube and search for any scene or clip from a pop culture phenomenon that Family Guy has parodied or mentioned. Most of the comments will consist of, "I thought Family Guy created this!"
- With the possible exception of Star Wars. For now.
- In Rockadoodle, Pinky is to Colonel Tom Parker what Chantecleer is to Elvis Presley. Young kids who grew up in the 90's probably knew who Elvis was, but the Colonel, not so much.
- The name/character of Chanticleer himself is from one of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, who took it from the now virtually-unknown body of folk tales about him and Reynard the fox.
- The "Don't you believe it!" line in a couple of Tom and Jerry cartoons is clearly a reference to a well-known catchphrase at the time, but now no one seems to remember.
- Possibly referencing one of the openings to the NBC Radio show "The Passing Parade"
- Another episode had a small robotic mouse walking back and forth repeating "Come out and see me some time". This was a reference to an actress saying that exact line in order to promote the recent movie she was in during a news broadcast.
- Are we sure this isn't Mae West's once-notorious line "Come up and see me sometime"?
- Double example: the theme from "Recess" was a parody of the theme from Hogan's Heroes, which in turn was a parody of the march from The Great Escape.
- Snagglepuss is, so far, an aversion. While his voice is based on Bert Lahr's cowardly lion, the original is still well enough known as to avoid the Weird Al effect.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has featured a couple of Stephen Sondheim songs with new lyrics. The target audience is almost certain never to have heard the original versions of these songs before (and for that matter, neither might many of the Periphery Demographic fans), meaning that, as far as they know, these songs are the originals.
- Thanks to its very quick one scene usage as an in-joke in The Lion King, people are insistent that "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" was written by Elton John and Tim Rice for the movie, even when you explain to them it wasn't. It's not helped that the song is used briefly in the Broadway musical and on the Rhythm of the Pridelands CD.
- MEGAS XLR exists almost entirely on this trope. Giant robot anime, movies, cartoons, tv shows, literature, pop culture, obscure throw-away characters from other series, actors, conspiracy theories, theoretical physics, urban legends, real life... Everything is a source for what is likely the most awesome cartoon ever made.
- When they're parodying a certain musician, South Park will sometimes use a modified version of their existing material, resulting in a lot of viewers giving them full credit for it.
- If you're a South Park viewer who doesn't listen to popular music, you might not know that the song at the end of "Fishsticks" is a parody of the Kanye West song "Heartless". Given enough time, even those who do probably won't recognize it, leaving poor Kanye's musical career eclipsed by a song about gay fish.
- The two episodes featuring Michael Jackson—"Meet the Jeffersons" and "Dead Celebrities"—used three songs as the basis for his musical bits: "Heal the World" from Dangerous and "Childhood" and "You Are Not Alone" from HIStory. Seeing as all three were lesser known relative to his other hits, it can be easy to miss them.
- The Disney villain Phantom Blot is a parody of a character in many film serials, the main villain whose face is hidden in a cloak until the final episode reveals him to be a character already familiar to the audience. This was a recognizable stock character when the Blot was introduced in 1939. Now the serials are forgotten, but the character lives on.
- Bill Cosby did a retelling of a sketch from an old radio drama called "Lights Out" about a chicken heart that ate up New York City. Since he was a kid, he thought the chicken heart was coming to eat him, and he promptly smeared Jell-O all over his floor and set his sofa on fire to discourage the "monster." Cosby's routine is now much better known than the original sketch. Ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump...
- "Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side". Despite being used as the mascot of joke-telling, it's really a parody of other jokes. Where most jokes end with some kind of pun, "To get to the other side" is a straight answer that only works if the listener was expected something absurd. People are now conditioned to accept the answer as funny without even thinking about it.
- Plenty of modern media references "Do Not Adjust Your Set" to mean "this weirdness is real". The phrase was first used in this sense in The Outer Limits, but it originated years earlier as a warning to viewers that the station was experiencing technical difficulties. "Do Not Adjust Your Set" meant "the problem's on our end, not yours, so don't go fiddling with the antenna".
- The expression "technical difficulties" is now highly likely to be used as a euphemism for a person (or even a society) going insane, or even for something disastrous or off-color (as, most hilariously, in Problem Child 2), rather than something as mundane as a problem with a broadcaster's equipment.
- Weird Al, who loved Dr. Demento and got his start on the show, probably laments the fact that the still-running Dr. Demento show has been almost forgotten except by connection to him. (To wit, he's gone internet-only.)
- Any cartoon, video game, film, etc. made prior to The Nineties that wasn't Disney-popular that was parodied in and after The Nineties will get this effect in Eastern Europe due to that region locked away from Western pop-culture for 50 years (where only the very best of the West passed the border).
- The name "Barcalounger" (the brand of reclining chair) is a play on a the name of a type of sailing ship, the Barca-longa. No one but naval historians and readers of the Aubrey-Maturin series (which are not such distinct populations) would know that now.
- Cracked goes meta with this in "6 Things Our Kids Just Won't Get", which includes the save icon (floppy disk), time-related tv activities such as Saturday morning cartoons (thanks to cable becoming commonplace and DVRs which allow people to watch things whenever they want), and common older sitcom plots, such as plots when someone gets lost (nowadays people would just call them on a cell phone).
- Applejack was originally a potent form of distilled apple brandy. However, for the last few decades it has been more commonly known as a breakfast cereal that once counterintuitively used the fact that it doesn't taste like apples as a marketing gimmick.
- The McIntosh apple dates back to 1811. No, not an Apple Macintosh, a McIntosh apple. Apple named the computer after a type of apple. They could have named it Golden Delicious, or Granny Smith.
- Chucky, from Child's Play, is believed to have been based on a real toy called "My Buddy", which was only slightly less creepy. Other people believe that he was based on the "That Kid" doll.note
- Oh, believe me, if you were a kid in the 1980s who watched any amount of television, you remember "My Buddy" very well - as well as his Distaff Counterpart, "Kid Sister", who did not resemble the "Bride of Chucky."
- Anyone growing up in the US in the last 50 years will be more likely to recognize the name of Martin Luther King, Jr., than (s)he will to recognize the name of Martin Luther, whom Dr. King was named after.
- Any denizen of the Internet knows about demotivational posters. On the other hand, the kind of motivational posters they're based on aren't nearly as well-known, especially outside the USA.
- The term shooting brake is now making a comeback, on which the definition is generally accepted as a type of station wagon that has a coupe-like roofline, with only two doors instead of five. The common belief was that the term was just an archaic name for the more familiar station wagon or estate, but nobody realizes that term originated from roofed carriages that is normally used as hunting vehicles, complete with storage for guns and ammunition. Only after the rise of motorized vehicles did shooting brakes evolved into customized wagons used for hunting towards the present form.
- Similarly, the term brake. Unlike the apparatus that forces the vehicle to slow down, these brakes are used to refer as carriages that "break-in" spirited horses (read:tame hyper horses for carriage work). The only usage for this term is on French car companies, only because the French word for station wagon is "break."