"Billions and billions served."Did somebody say McDonald's? That's probably how you got to this page — it's probably the most common "not-a-wiki-word" that appears on the TV Tropes Wiki, since our wiki parser automatically converts CamelCase into article links. But since McDonalds is such a big part of modern culture, we may as well make the visit worth your while. (Would you like fries with that?) It all started in 1954 when Ray Kroc, a milkshake mixer salesman, found out that one of his customers brought many more mixers than usual for a business. He traveled out to San Bernardino, California, to find that two brothers, Richard and Maurice McDonald, ran their diner at an amazing rate, serving way more customers than a usual restaurant should by the simple expedient of not making each burger to order; instead of putting veggies and condiments according to each customer's preference, every burger was made to a more-or-less uniform standard to maximize efficiency while the restaurant had a condiment bar where customers could then add ketchup and mustard on their own. He pitched them the idea of creating McDonald's restaurants all over the U.S. The McDonald's Corporation was founded the next year. By 1958, McDonald's had sold 100 million hamburgers. By 1960, Kroc bought exclusive rights to the McDonald's name. 1963 saw the creation of the restaurant chain's most famous mascot, a clown called Ronald McDonald. The character was later given his own fantasy world for the commercials in the 1970s, McDonaldland. The creation of the long running advertising campaign originally involved Sid & Marty Krofft Productions using their H.R. Pufnstuf characters, only to be told by McDonald's advertising company, Needham, Harper and Steers, that the project was cancelled. With them out of the way, the agency blatantly plagiarized the Kroffts' concept using their former crew. The Kroffts noticed, and successfully sued McDonald's. Since then, McDonald's has added more than the original burgers, fries and sodas to its menu. Breakfast items are sold all day in the US since 2015; before then, they were sold until 10 A.M., 11 A.M. on Sundays, while in the UK and Ireland breakfast items are sold until 10.30 A.M. The Filet-O-Fish was created to cater to the Catholic communities that ate no meat on Fridays during Lent (fish doesn't count). The Happy Meal and corporate Mascot Ronald McDonald were created to appeal to children. McCafé items (after the café section offered in a few countries) were added in the late 2000s to compete with Starbucks and other coffee vendors. And then, of course, there's the chain's flagship burger, the Big Mac. Its ingredients made for a snappy jingle: "Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun." (That bun is a 3-part bun, making the Big Mac a double-decker burger). The Big Mac is so well known that the number of calories in one is often used as a unit of measure (as in, "(Fatty food X) has as many calories as 3 Big Macs.")note The original San Bernardino restaurant has since been re-designed into a museum dedicated to the company. The oldest McDonald's still in operation is the 4th location in Downey, California, which sports an image of Speedee the Hamburger-Head Mascot and a sign proudly proclaiming that the chain has sold 500 million hamburgersnote . By the 1970s, the company buildings began including dining rooms and drive-through windows, coinciding with the addition of the now-trademark Mansard roof. In 2008, a new "modern" store design was unveiled, dubbed "Forever Young" (or "Giant Eyebrow of Doom"). The quality and nutritional value of the food served is debatable - if nothing else, it sets the floor that everyone else has to do better than to be in the restaurant business - but no one can deny that the ubiquity of this fast food restaurant (over 30,000 in 119 countries) has a significant impact on human culture. Until the mid-2000s, McDonald's also owned Donatos Pizza and Boston Market (a "fast casual" chain specializing in rotisserie chicken), and was at one point the largest investor in Chipotle Mexican Grill, which enabled much of the latter chain's early growth. The corporation operates a fully-furnished, constantly updated to the latest store model but entirely fake restaurant in Southern California which is offered to film and TV productions as well as used for almost all of their own commercials (worldwide). Chances are when you see a McDonalds on TV, it's that one. Due to the company's wide scope, it has produced many works (most frequently advertising) with tropes of their own. For YMMV on works related to McDonald's, click here.
You deserve some tropes today!:
- Advertising Copywriters Cannot Do Math: When the UK McDonalds introduced a "Pound Saver" menu (8 items for £1 each), they promoted it as "40,312 combinations". This was presumably supposed to be the number of ways of ordering from the Pound Saver menu a meal consisting of 2-8 items once each, but for some unfathomable reason they worked it out as 8!-8. The correct calculation is 28-9, the total of all combinations minus 1 for the "combination" consisting of no items and 8 for those consisting of only one — a much less impressive 247.note
- Animated Adaptation: The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald (example here)
- Animate Inanimate Object: These show up in commercials a lot, and not just food. One commercial from the 70s had talking trash cans, while commercials from the 90s suggested everything in Ronald's house was alive, including furniture, utensils, and even his big, red clown shoes. (Which he got from the Tooth Fairy for some reason.)
- Artifact Title: The Mc10:35, a popular secret menu item, got its name back when establishments stopped serving breakfast each day around that time, opening up a brief window where one could buy both breakfast and lunch using a leftover Egg McMuffin and a McDouble. Then in 2015 breakfast began being served all day, making it possible to get this sandwich any time after lunch items become available.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Birdie, who wears only goggles and overalls.
- Black Comedy: There were a couple comercials in the 90s where the Hamburglar tried (unsuccessfully, thank goodness) to nab the talking burgers. In one of them (done inside Hamburger University), Ronald catches him and makes him write on the chalkboard as punishment.
- Blatant Burglar: The Hamburglar wears a domino mask and a costume with black-and-white horizontal stripes. (One commercial claimed he wore all-black when he first came to McDonaldland, until one of his hijinks turned it striped.) His frequent mutterings of "robble robble robble" don't exactly help hide his intentions, either.
- Boring, but Practical:
- As mentioned in the description, their entire business model was built on this, making uniform burgers to increase the restaurants' efficiency.
- Their most popular menu item for a long time has been the Filet-O-Fish sandwich, largely due to the fact that observant Catholics in the United States couldn't, at the time of the sandwich's introduction, eat meat on Fridays, and still can't during Lenten Fridays. It's little wonder that McDonald's advertises the daylights out of the Filet-O-Fish at locations near Catholic churches during Lent. The number one definition for the Filet-O-Fish on Urban Dictionary even refers to it as "the Catholic Big Mac".note It's also become popular among Muslims, due to the fact that the sandwich's ingredients just so happened to meet halal guidelines.
- Burger Fool: But of course.
- McDonald's is the Trope Codifier. In fact, Fast Food Nation accuses them of trying to make their jobs so simple that a new person could be trained in 15 minutes, making everyone wholly expendable.
- Needless to say, the company is not exactly a fan of the "McJob" slang for a badly paid nonunion fast food job with poor working conditions that a trained chimp could do. In the UK (where the term is particularly popular) their recruiting department even ran an advertising campaign with the tagline "Not bad for a McJob" in an attempt to neutralize the negative image associated with working at McDonalds has. It didn't work. When the Oxford English Dicitionary added McJob to the dictionary, the company threatened to sue the dictionary for trademark infringement and also attempted to start a petition to get the definition changed (it failed, partly because its own employees wouldn't sign it). note
- The suspicion is that companies depending on poorly paid McJobs would not welcome trained chimpanzees, as animals would have better legislation to protect their interests and welfare, and paying in peanuts would, in the long run, cost more than minimum wage.
- Captain Ersatz:
- MaDonal in Northern Iraq, as well as Matbax.
- Ronald McDonald himself. In the Washington DC area Bozo the Clown made appearances at local McDonald's bringing in massive crowds. When the show was cancelled, actor Willard Scott (yes, the weatherman) created a new costume and name while keeping the Bozo act.
- While few could deny that Captain Crook was intended to be a direct parody of Peter Pan's foe, he certainly seemed to specifically resemble Disney's version of Captain Hook.
- The other McDonaldland characters were blatantly ripped off from H.R. Pufnstuf after Sid & Marty Krofft Productions refused to license the original characters. The company sued and McDonald's ended up paying a large settlement.
- The Hamburglar's was "Robble Robble!".
- "RAN RAN RUU!" for Ronald in Japan.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
- The McDonaldland characters outside of Ronald haven't been seen in years. Even Ronald himself hasn't been seen in commercials lately.
- Mayor McCheese has almost disappeared entirely after lawsuits from the owners of H.R. Pufnstuf.
- Mac Tonight in America, as a result of an injunction filed against McDonald's by the Bobby Darin estateexplanation . His last commercial appearance altogether, in ads for Singapore and China, was in 2007.
- Covers Always Lie: The food never looks as good in real life as it does in ads. Here's why.
- Crunch Tastic: Early ads featuring Ronald McDonald called him "the world's newest, silliest and hamburger-eatingest clown!".
- Defector from Decadence: Canada's first Ronald McDonald, Geoffrey Giuliano, became a vegetarian activist and submitted testimony against the company during the McLibel case.
- A Dog Named "Dog": Birdie the Early Bird. Grimace is technically a variant, since "Grimace" was made his species' name later on.
- Dub Name Change/Japanese Ranguage: In Japan Ronald McDonald is called Donald McDonald, in deference to the lack of a clear "r" sound in Japanese. Itís quite interesting to note that the first English teacher in Japan was an American named Ranald McDonald.
- Dumb Is Good: The Grimace. Though he wasn't exactly a genius when he was evil either.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Early locations were walk-up stands with no seating. The signature Mansard roofs didn't come until the early 70s.
- The very first McDonalds opened in 1940 as a barbecue restaurant, and sold hamburgers alongside tamales, chili, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and barbecued pork, beef, and chicken sandwiches, all of which were served on china plates and with silverware. However the restaurant was not profitable and so in 1948 it was retooled into a burgers-only restaurant, with potato chips, coffee, pie, and sodas added to the menu. Fries and milkshakes joined the menu a year later.
- Feather Fingers: Birdie.
- Flawed Prototype:
- The company introduced mozarella sticks in November 2015, likely to compete with Arby's, the only other notable fast food chain on the market to sell mozarella sticks. In January 2016, the company recieved customer complaints due to the cheese sticks supposedly missing mozarella, the key ingridient. In not a long matter of time, the company was sued for allegations over the cheese sticks containing "fake" mozarella. The item was quickly discontinued, thus being a limited time offer.
- Before releasing the Filet-O-Fish, the company test-marketed the "Hulaburger" - basically a hamburger with a slice of pineapple in place of the meat. Supposedly, the target audience was strict Catholics who didn't eat meat on Friday during Lent. Well, they had little taste for a meatless sandwich that some claimed "tasted like styrofoam" either.
- In an attempt to compete with Burger King's onion rings, McDonald's introduced Onion Nuggets in the 1970s. They were pulled after poor sales in only four test markets, but McDonald's would go on to revisit the "nugget" concept in the 1980s with the much more popular Chicken McNuggets. Since then they've flirted with selling onion rings, but only during limited time offers.
- Several concepts have attempted to compete with Burger King's Whopper:
- The McDLT (1984), which came in a box that had the hot burger patty on one side and the toppings on the other (the idea being that the toppings would stay cool and fresh while the burger itself was hot). A chicken variation was also available. It was retired due to concerns over its styrofoam packaging.
- The McLean Deluxe (1991), a low-fat burger which replaced most of the fat with carrageenan but otherwise identical to the McDLT. Quietly dropped in 1996.
- Their "adult" menu (1996) included the Arch Deluxe (a "premium" burger with higher-quality toppings), a grilled chicken sandwich, a fried chicken sandwich (replacing the McChicken) and a larger fish sandwich. This whole line was intentionally targeted at adults, with ads featuring children repulsed over the food. While this burger line was one of the biggest flops in fast food history, the Filet o' Fish permanently adopted the larger size; the grilled and fried chicken sandwiches were simply renamed; and the McChicken came back. Some of the "adult" menu concepts were Re Tooled into the Big N' Tasty (2000-2011), which was also nearly identical to the McDLT, and the Angus line of burgers introduced in 2006 and phased out in 2013.
- The phase-out of the Angus Third-Pounder burgers had less to do with lack of market appeal and more to do with McDonald's need to streamline their production process; the new "Quarter Pounder Burgers" line that replaced the Angus burgers do not require an additional grill dedicated to them, since they're made with the same 1/4-pound (precooked) meat patties used in their regular and Double Quarter Pounders.
- The McAfrika (beef, cheese, tomatoes and salad in a pitta-style sandwich) was a product that wasn't exactly bad, but a victim of bad timing and a bad name. It was sold in Norway exclusively, in honor of the 2002 Winter Olympic games. Seeing as Southern Africa was undergoing a famine at the time where starvation was causing a bad death toll, a place promoting fast food sandwiches seemed incredibly poor judgement. They apologized, and tried to make amends with donation boxes in their restaurants, but they didn't learn their lesson; it returned for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and got the same response.
- They tried pitching the McSpaghetti in Italy, thinking they'd go for having one of their traditional foods served in some fast food place. America wasn't impressed either, as it took too long to prepare and wasn't all-too good, compared to "spaghetti with ketchup". (It was somewhat popular in the Philippines, however.)
- The Filet of Fish has always been a hit, but other than that, they've had no luck with seafood. Case in point, the McGratin Croquette, designed with Japanese markets in mind. It was sort of a combination of chopped shrimp, mashed potatoes, and deep fried macaroni made into a patty and fried hamburger style. Japanese consumers were clearly put off by it.
- Mighty Wings, buffalo wings they pitched in 2014 with the Super Bowl in mind, could well have been a lesson for corporations about the danger of overstocking. While consumers didn't consider them bad as far as chicken wings went, they really didn't stand out against other brands of buffalo wings, and certainly not worth the dollar a wing price tag that was slapped on them. Even after lowering the price to 60 cents a wing in order to liquidate the ten tons of wings the company had in stock, they never broke even.
- The Chopped Beefsteak Sandwich (a steak sandwich with onions and tangy steak sauce) was another idea that failed because of the price. Most critics and consumers from the 70s remember it as delicious. Thing is, the $1.29 price tag (at a time when the regular burgers were 40 cents) made it unaffordable to the average customer, and it was discontinued.
- A similar problem was the Roast Beef Sandwich, Introduced in 1968 to compete with Arby's. Though it sold well, the menu item required equipping every location with a meat-slicer, an expense that would prevent the sandwich from ever turning a profit. Executives discontinued the sandwich as soon as they realized this, and never brought it back.
- Another concept that never took off was McPizza, which was tried in only a few markets in the late 80s-early 90s. It was, however, more popular in Canada, being introduced in 1992 and continuing to be served as late as 1999.
- Salad Shakers were introduced in 2000 as a fun new way to eat salad (out of a plastic cup with a clear dome lid), Salad Shakers needed to be shaken up after adding in the dressing in order to distribute it. Though the concept worked (plenty of people do the same thing with plastic containers every day for lunch), they were replaced by Premium Salads (served in regular bowls) in 2003.
- Despite CEO Ray Kroc insisting that McDonald's never sell hot dogs (he viewed them as unhygienic), some McDonald's stores nevertheless have sold hot dogs in the past. One summer during the 2000s, for instance, they briefly sold half-smokes as part of a summer-themed line of foods; they were dropped not long after. Midwest restaurants do sell Johnsonville bratwurst as a seasonal item.
- They have also tried concept restaurants to varying degrees of success. Among these were:
- McDonald's Express (small locations with limited menus, often found in convenience stores, airports, malls, and Walmart stores). A few are still around, mainly Canadian Walmart ones.
- Various takes on drive-thru-only locations, including some built in a Retraux 1950s style. Likewise, a few still exist.
- Five "Mini Mac" locations with drive-thru and walk-up windows akin to Rally's/Checkersnote . Surprisingly for such a failed concept, three (Arlington, Texas, West Los Angeles, California and Bay City, Michigan) are still open.
- McDiner, which was obviously a diner-style restaurant. These existed in Indiana and Kentucky from 2001 to 2004, when they were converted to standard McDonald's restaurants.
- Follow the Leader: If McDonald's has done it (fish sandwich, chicken nuggets, play places, Happy Meals, salads, Angus burgers, high-end coffees), chances are that many fast food chains have copied. Even if they weren't the first to develop something (for instance, Burger Chef was actually the first chain to have kids' meals), their version is usually the example that every other chain follows.
- Going the other way, the Big Mac is a clone of Big Boy's "Big Boy" burger (two patties, extra bun in the middle, secret sauce).
- McCafe was started to cash in on the success of Starbucks.
- Burger King actually lampshaded this in one ad.
- Food Porn: McDonald's certainly pushes it hard in the commercials. Fun fact: When you see the burgers on TV, the pickles stick out the side so the viewer can see them. If you're actually working at McDonalds, the pickle goes in the center of the burger so that it can get bitten into from any direction.
- Frivolous Lawsuit:
- They're rather infamous for this, frequently taking other businesses to court for "copyright infringement", typically for including the prefix "Mc" or "Mac" in their names. They once sued a Scottish café owner called McDonald, even though the place had been in business for over a century.
- On the other side, the oft-repeated Stella Liebeck case was against McDonalds. You know, the one where the woman spilled hot coffee over herself while driving, sued, and won millions of dollars? The whole story, though, is a lot more nuanced: the coffee McDonalds served was at 180-190°F (82.2-87.8°C); Liebeck's attorneys argued is way too high and made the coffee defective because the it was just too plain hot to serve, or because it was too hot to serve without a prominent warning about the dangers, or both.note Also, Liebeck wasn't even driving the car (it was her grandson's Ford Probe, who had pulled over to let her add cream and sugar) and had the cup between her thighs because the car had no cupholders, she was wearning cotton sweatpants which absorbed the hot liquid and kept it next to her skin she ended up with 3rd-degree burns—some of which were in some very sensitive areas (think: if you spill hot coffee from a cup held between your thighs in a cramped car, where would it go?)—and needed over a week in the hospital (during which time she lost nearly 20% of her weight) and two years of further medical treatment, and they initially tried to settle for $20,000 to cover medical expenses (the company initially responded with just $800). The trial itself saw the jury award Liebeck $200,000 in compensation and $2.7 million in punitive damages, but the judge cut this down to $640,000 and they later settled out of court.
- Goggles Do Nothing: Birdie is rarely, if ever, seen with her aviator goggles over her eyes.
- Gone Horribly Wrong:
- Or right to some, depending on what happens and which side you're on. Some of their advertisement and promotions have ended up backfiring in their face over the years. Quite possibly the most (in)famous one was their promotion for the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984. The restaurant ran an "If the U.S. wins, you win!" promotion where customers were given a scratch card with an Olympic event on it; if the U.S. won a medal in that event, the customer would get a free Big Mac (for gold), fries (for silver) or drink (for bronze). To make sure they wouldn't go bankrupt, they mostly offered it for events Russia usually swept up in... however, they did all this before Russia announced they were boycotting the Olympics that yearnote . Without the Soviet Union and their allies (the U.S.'s biggest rivals), this led to the American team winning a lot more medals than they would have otherwise, including more than twice as many gold medals as they did in 1976 (83 in 1984 compared to 34 competing against Russia in 1976), and McDonald's had to give away a lot of valuable Big Macs for free.
- The notorious Hello Kitty promotion in Singapore in 2000 was another case of a promotion being a little too popular. Trying to cash in on the Japanese craze, they started giving away the toys with Extra Value meals, only to find hundreds of people lining up for them before the stores opened. Traffic jams formed leading to the restaurants. Most threw the food away simply to get the toys, and there was even a riot at one Boon Keng outfit with seven customers injured. While McDonalds' and Sanrio profited excessively from the promotion (2.8 million toys were sold during the promotion), McDonald's had to apologize to the public, make special reparations, and hire security guards until the promotion ended.
- Grandfather Clause: A handful of mostly southern California restaurants still use 1950s store designs. Their original owners' franchise agreements were with the McDonald brothers - it wasn't until Ray Kroc took over that mandatory updating was included - and those stores now qualify for spots on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Harmless Villain: Pretty much any villain who menaced McDonaldland was easily fooled and outsmarted by Ronald and his child-friends; Captain Crook, the Goblins, and the Hamburglar started off this way, before mellowing and becoming cuter and even more harmless.
- Iconic Logo: In fact, the Golden Arches are included in that Trope's image.
- It Will Never Catch On: According to the BBC documentary The Men Who Made Us Fat Ray Kroc thought super-sized meals would fail because no one at the time ate such large portions of food, especially for lunch (he figured either no one buy them or they would skip the next meal due to being full). Incidentally the idea came from the guy who created different-sized popcorn portions for movie theaters.
- Let's Meet the Meat: Played straight in many ads. Subverted by the singing fish, who isn't very happy about being made into a sandwich and the rest of his remains mounted on a wall.
- Limited Wardrobe: Ronald McDonald and the rest of the McDonaldland characters almost always wear the same outfits.
- Lint Value: This Dollar Menu commercial.
- Magical Clown: Ronald McDonald is called "The world famous magical clown". In one commercial, he uses his magic to turn the cloud above a sad girl's head into a ball of sunlight.
- Ms. Fanservice: Japan also has a female mascot, who has bright red hair and wears basically a dress version of Ronald's outfit. Head-Tiltingly Kinky to some...
- Mondegreen: Their "Food Folks and Fun" ad campaign from the 1990s. Due to the way it's said in the ads, The Nostalgia Critic pointed out that it comes off as "Food, Fucks and Fun".
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The Evil Grimace before he was retconned into the lovable two-armed good guy we know now.
- Non-Ironic Clown: The lovable Ronald McDonald.
- Open Secret: Like many other fast food chains, McDonald's has many secret menu items. One of the most popular is the "Mc10:35", an Egg McMuffin mixed with a McDouble. A similarly popular sandwich is the "McGangBang", which replaces the Egg McMuffin with a McChicken.
- Out of Focus: All of the mascots save for Ronald McDonald, though even he is starting to appear less and less. The Hamburglar was revived for an ad campaign in 2015, though.
- Overcomplicated Menu Order: The Drive Thru Rap from YouTube (made even worse when rapped at full speed):
I need a double cheeseburger and hold the lettuce don't be frontin son no seeds on the bun we be up in this dive thru order for two gotta craving for a number nine like my shoe need some chicken up in here in this dizzle for rizzle my nizzle extra salt on the frizzle Dr.Pepper my brother another for your mother double double super size and don't forget the..... FRIES.
- The 1988-89 "menu song" ad campaign, which featured a customer rattling off every item of the then-current McDonald's menu to the tune of "Life is a Rock (but the Radio Rolled Me)". A slightly different version was used in Canada, as well as a French version in Quebec.
- Product Placement: Sort of - they sponsor many major sports events, such as The World Cup and the Olympic Games.
- The Professor: An obscure McDonaldland character.
- Retraux: Many restaurants in the 1980s and 1990s were built in a faux-fifties style. Some of them were even built to have only drive-thru and walk-up service, like the earliest ones. The McDonald's near Charing Cross Station in London once had a beautiful Art Deco interior, but is now a bland modern design.
- Repurposed Pop Song:
- The '60s Lovin' Spoonful hit "Do You Believe in Magic?" was used in a few commercials featuring Ronald.
- Donna Summer's "She Works Hard For the Money" was remade into "She gets more for her money, 'Cause McDonald's treats her right."
- Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife" was rewritten as "Mac Tonight" to advertise that McDonald's was staying open at later hours. A campaign which was accompanied by this animated mascot (though in America he wasn't animated).
- (Buh-duh bah-bah-bah!) "I'm Lovin' It" (the current slogan) was originally a Justin Timberlake song.
- Reunion's "Life Is a Rock (but the Radio Rolled Me)" was used as the basis for the "menu song".
- Another jingle, "Glad You Came", comes from the eponymous song by The Wanted.
- Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: "I Like to Scare Myself" - one of multiple songs that were packed with Happy Meals in the eighties - involves this.
- Too Smart for Strangers: The second commercial seemed to be trying for this, but instead, it just comes off as incredibly creepy.
Boy: My mother told me never to talk to strangers.Ronald: Well your mother's right as always, but, I'm Ronald McDonald! Here, give me a McDonald's shake!
- Trademark Favorite Food:
- The Hamburglar has McDonald's burgers.
- The Grimace has McDonald's shakes.
- The Fry-guys. Guess what theirs is.
- Birdie represents the breakfast (i.e. until 10:30 AM) meals.
- Un-person: The company's official history gives more credit to the McDonald brothers than it did prior to Ray Kroc's death, but still glosses over things like the fact they had already begun franchising before Kroc entered the picture.
- The Unintelligible: Hamburglar's speech consists mostly of "roble-roble-roble" with the word "cheeseburger" sometimes interspaced between the robles. Originally, Captain Crook - his usual partner in crime - translated for him, but getting the "cute treatment", everyone could.
- We Don't Suck Anymore: They seem to be doing this in 2015, though a lot of it is actually more "We never really sucked, it's just you believed a lot of crap and lies about us. Here's why they're not true."
- Villain Decay: Hamburgler, Captain Crook, and the Goblins (called Fry-Guys later) were more malignant in the 70s, but later were given a "cute treatment" and became harmless. Crook was eventually dropped from the commercials.
Pop culture references to McDonald's:
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- In a story arc of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Fat Freddy finds himself in Scotland. Feeling hungry, he walks into an establishment with the name MacDonald's over the door to find, to his disgust, it doesn't serve burgers - only whiskey, beer and stale potato chips.
- In Pulp Fiction, Jules and Vincent discuss what a Quarter Pounder with cheese is called in France. It's apparently called a "Royale with Cheese" and a Big Mac is called "Le Big Mac". note
- In Coming to America, Akeem finds work at a fast food restaurant called McDowell's. Since McDonald's actually exists in the film's universe, the similarity is heavily lampshaded. Ironically, the McDowell's building was a dressed-up Wendy's.
- In Dark Shadows, Barnabas awakes in 1972 after having been buried for 196 years, and the first thing he sees is a golden arches sign. He thinks the "M" stands for "Mephistopheles".
- In the film Richie Rich, the title character has his own operating McDonald's in his family's gigantic mansion.
- The 1988 film Mac and Me is an ET-like movie that features lots of Product Placement for McDonald's. In fact, one big scene takes place in one during a birthday party! Guest starring Ronald McDonald As Himself.
- One of the kids in Space Camp talks about building a McDonald's on the moon in case an astronaut gets a "Big Mac Attack". Same kid later mentions a guy he knew who could hold his breath for a long time by thinking about eating french fries.
- Mooby's of The View Askewniverse is an obvious parody. Clerks II is set almost entirely inside one.
- An odd reference in Scotland, PA, a Black Comedy Setting Update of Macbeth in a rural fast-food restaurant in the 70's. After Joe and Pat murder Duncan and take over his restaurant, they rename it after themselves: McBeth's. They even use a giant letter M as their logo.
- The live action film version of The Flintstones has RockDonald's, where "dozens and dozens" have been served. Some McDonald's stores were even redone to RockDonald'ses to help promote the film., and RockDonald's featured heavily in TV ads for both McDonald's and the film itself.
- Sleeper - in 2173, Woody Allen's fugitive character (formerly a health food store owner) has been assimilated into society. He leaves a Mc Donalds with the sign reading "Over 795,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Served".
- Time After Time - time traveler H.G. Wells looks for food at a Mc Donalds in current-day San Francisco - unfamiliar with modern food, he parrots the order of the guy in front of him until. to his relief, he sees tea on the menu and finds out fries are 'pommes frites'. Later, on a date, he comments the food is much better than 'that Scottish place'.
- Bye Bye Love, a mid-90's comedy about divorcee fatherhood, starring Paul Reiser, Randy Quiad and Rob Reiner, and underwritten by the Golden Arches. As per Mac and Me above, Product Placement abounds, but without the Narm that makes M&M So Bad, It's Good, this film is completely unmemorable.
- The Fifth Element features two police officers getting their lunch at McDonald's in the mid-23rd Century. At least until Korben accidentally spills it over them in a sideswipe and they end up crashing into one of MickyD's garbage trucks.
- The Founder is a 2016 film starring Michael Keaton and Nick Offerman, among others, which dramatises the story of how Ray Kroc discovered McDonald's and took it over. Yes, the title is ironic.note
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: When Arthur has to come to terms with the destruction of Earth, he realizes that it's simply too big for him to comprehend. So he tries to think about the destruction of England, then McDonalds, and finally settles for being sad about never getting a Big Mac again.
- In Mostly Harmless, it is discovered that an alien race has been observing humanity for years, and building up a huge addiction to McDonalds on the way.
- Good Omens features references to Burger Lord and their mascot, McLordy the Clown. As well as what happened when Burger Lord agents tried to visit France.
- 1632: Grantville's McDonalds is taken over by the Committee of Correspondence, who use it as a headquarters for their quest to spread American-style political values across Europe. As the Committees spread across Europe, they take the "Freedom Arches" with them.
- In an episode of Red Dwarf, where the crew answer a distress call turning out to emanate from a long-dead female crew, Rimmer looks down at the skeletal remains and wails that they've got as much meat on them as a Chicken McNugget. The "Mc", though visible from Chris Barrie's lip movements is notably muted.
- "WacArnold's" on a skit from Chappelle's Show.
- McDoggles from Pizza.
- An episode of All in the Family had Archie talk about franchising the bar he recently acquired. He compares it to McDonalds, saying he'll have "The Golden Archies" and a sign that says "Over two million boopabloops served". (This was A Very Special Episode where Archie was hopped up on pills.)
- Mark Knopfler's song "Boom, Like That", is all about Ray Kroc's turning McDonald's into a franchise, and his less than nice techniques. (After he bought them out, the original McDonald brothers started a new restaurant. Kroc put a McDonald's across the street and ran them out of business.)
The competition, send them south; they're gonna drown, put a hose in their mouth.
- In one of his songs, Doctor Steel sings that he has a "Ronald McRaygun".
- Mitch Benn, in a song for The Now Show, suggests one possible reason for a fall in McDonald's share price.
- In John Conlee's "Common Man", the title character offers to take his date to McDonald's since he's not a fancy guy.
- Wesley Willis' "Rock & Roll McDonald's"
- "I'm no supermodel/I still eat at McDonald's, baby/But that's just me."
- Massacration did a song called "Grand Pedido" for a McDonald's ad.
- McArnolds is the Funky Winkerbean equivalent.
- In one Calvin and Hobbes strip, Calvin is bored from the length of time it's taking for the coals to cook burgers to heat up. His dad gives him a long inspirational speech about the importance of waiting and slowing down. Calvin just asks if he should just go to McDonalds.
- In the early 2000s The Boondocks Huey and Caesar spent many panels mocking the McDonalds hip hop marketing campaign.
- One of the main factions in Unknown Armies is the Mak Attax, a magical cabal largely composed of McDonalds employees. The sourcebook describing them is titled "Break Today" after the advertising jingle. For legal reasons, the name of the company is never mentioned in any Unknown Armies book; where necessary, it is referred to as 'the Scotsman'.
- The Onion
- McDonald's Drops 'Hammurderer' Character From Advertising.
"Stabble stabble stabble!"
- Not Quite Perfect McDonald's Opens.
- McDonald's Drops 'Hammurderer' Character From Advertising.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja begins with the "McBonald's" fast food restaurant chain.
- Originally, it actually was the actual McDonald's, with Ronald himself as the villain of the first arc. It and every subsequent reference and reappearance of the clown and restaurant were quietly replaced with Donald McBonald to prevent any possible legal issues when printing books.
- Brad Jones has tried two McDonald's Open Secret menu items on his Brad Tries... segment; the Mc10:35, a combo of the McDouble and the Egg McMuffin (which he found kind of bland), and the McGangBang, a combo of the McDouble and the McChicken (which he found pretty good, and kicked himself for not trying it sooner). He's since done a video on the McRib (which he already loves, and mostly did because it was commonly requested and to compare it to the Burger King BBQ Rib Sandwich), and made up his own secret menu item in another video: The McRibMac (replacing the beef patties in a Big Mac with a split in half McRib).
- A different segment of his, 80's Dan, discussed the McDLT. Turns out it's a bad idea to eat a burger that's been in a time capsule for twenty years.
- A Running Gag in Joe Loves Crappy Movies is replacing actors in bad movies with The Grimace to make them better. He also tends to get stabbed a lot.
- Early strips of Kevin & Kell had Lindesfarne work at a lawyer friendly version of McDonalds, McRoughage, a fast food join catering to the herbivore members of society. Rudy tried to extort money (and a year's worth of customers for him to eat) from them by cybersquatting on every possible web address McRoughage could use to force their hand. They responded by changing their name to McFiber instead.
- The McRoll. A video of Ronald doing a weird dance to the tune of Flandre Scarlet's popular theme U.N. Owen Was Her?. For some reason, it has become more popular than the original song. In fact, there are quite a lot of variations of the Mc Roll that involve songs other than Flan's theme. There's a youtube channel containing many of them here, for those interested.
- Joel Maxwell starts working at one in this strip. He sucks up so well he gets transferred to Moscow.
- During the second part of the Lovers' Arc in Vaguely Recalling JoJo, Jotaro Kujo is ordered by Steely Dan to ask for a smile from the cashier at a McDonald's.
- The Simpsons: Lots with respect to Krusty Burger, the premier fast-food chain in Springfield. It all starts with the restaurant's proprietor-founder, Krusty the Klown.
- Episodes featuring specific references to McDonald's — both at Krusty Burger and elsewhere:
- "Lisa's First Word": The 1993 episode features the Simpson family flashing back to 1983-1984. With pop culture references abounding (including one for rival chain Wendy's), the major one relating to McDonald's is a spoof of the chain's "scratch-and-win" promotion for the 1984 Olympics, where customers could win a Big Mac, french fries, a soft drink, or even a cash prize of up to $10,000 if Team USA won a medal in the visitor's listed event. Krusty Burger customers could also win food prizes or cash, but (like McDonald's in Real Life), the promotion was created and the tickets printed before the Soviet Union announced it was backing out of the Summer Games. Many of the tickets were printed to reflect events in which the USSR or another Eastern Bloc country was favored to win; with their withdrawal, the United States won many of those events, causing Krusty Burger to lose millions of dollars because they awarded more food than they had budgeted for.
- "22 Short Films About Springfield": Chief Wiggum and Springfield's "finest" are discussing the merits of Krusty Burger vs. McDonald's, much like the "Royale with Cheese" scene in Pulp Fiction. The other Springfield officers have never heard of McDonald's, though it's stated to have over 2,000 locations in the state.
- "Missionary: Impossible": Mr. Burns yells at Bart — thinking him to be Homer — for "taking the Hamburglar's birthday off as a holiday" in one scene. (Bart had taken Homer's place at the plant when his father went on a last-minute mission trip ... to avoid persecution by angry PBS celebrities for making a hasty pledge to get their fundraising campaign off his TV, thinking they wouldn't be able to track him down and actually make him pay it.)
- "I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can": Krusty Burger has a national "Ribwich Tour" to taste-test the Ribwich sandwich (a pork ribette sandwich similar to the McRib) in different markets. The "Ribwich Tour" drew its inspiration from the same campaign put on by McDonald's, and when Krusty Burger pulled the Ribwich from its menu, it caused the same kind of uproar.
- "Kiss Kiss Bang Bangalore": When Bart points out their "thermostat" is just a drawing on a wall, Homer pretends to call the repairman on a similarly-drawn telephone, and brings out a cardboard cutout of Mac Tonight to act as the "repairman".
- "The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer": It is revealed that Krusty pays local mob boss Fat Tony to keep rival restaurants, including McDonald's out of Springfield.
- Episodes featuring specific references to McDonald's — both at Krusty Burger and elsewhere:
- In Beavis and Butt-Head, the boys work at Burger World. The establishment's logo is an upside down version of the Golden Arches, a common way to parody the franchise. The restaurant itself is a parody of Whataburger, a regional chain with locations in Mike Judge's native Texas.
- "Weenie Burgers" in Tiny Toon Adventures and countless anime productions.
- "McWuncler's" in The Boondocks.
- "MacMeaties" from Invader Zim.
- Hercules has the "Over X amount of people served" sign placed over the entrance of the River Styx. Currently, over 5,000,000,000 and 1 are "served".
- Episode 3 of Clerks: The Animated Series featured early McDonaldland characters Mayor McCheese and Officer Big Mac as public officials briefing the press during an apparent virus outbreak.
- "Burger McFlipster's" in 6teen.
- In the Season 3 premier of Rick and Morty, Rick expresses a fondness for the promotional szechuan sauce sold during the release of Mulan while the Galactic Federation is probing his mind and Rick has to take them to a certain memory. It's a subtle hint that Rick was actually lying about said memory.