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Inspiration Nod

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Sometimes a story isn't a remake, but borrows themes and/or situations from an earlier story. This isn't a Whole-Plot Reference or the Serial Numbers Filed Off, but rather the normal realm of artistic inspiration and literary allusions.

When one work is inspired by another, oftentimes its creators will slip in an affectionate Shout-Out to the original as an Easter Egg. Nothing too overt—just a slight nod acknowledging the older work's influence on the newer one.

This Inspiration Nod will let people know that "Yes, we have seen the previous work" and "Yes, we do note the similarities between our works". It often appears in a very particular part of the production choices, something that would be outside of the natural course of inspiration but which unambiguously points to another work.

Say, you have the trench run in Star Wars and its connection to the The Dam Busters. So George Lucas fills in a small detail, like the background chatter, with something from Dam Busters. It doesn't affect the actual trench run (compared to the targeting computer) but gives a little nod to the original inspiration.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Love Hina has taken some flack for lifting story ideas and plot developments from Maison Ikkoku. It is probably not a coincidence that Keitaro's aunt is named Haruka, the same as Godai and Kyoko's daughter from the end of Maison. This is further suggested by vocal casting Megumi Hayashibara as Haruka (casting an A-list star in a support role); Hayashibara actually debuted in in Maison (minor characters and background voices).
  • In Ray the Animation... sort of... the story takes a lot of inspiration from Black Jack. In the manga, a character that is suspiciously similar to Black Jack shows up. The anime, though, just goes ahead and drops B.J. in there, because the studio that produced had the rights necessary to do so.

    Comic Books 
  • The Incredible Hulk:
    • Writer Peter David called these his Pink Bunny Slippers after an example of one of his storylines. He realised that there are parallels between his The Incredible Hulk story line and this other movie, Real Genius. There are similar plot points, so he makes a reference to it that doesn't involve using any more of the pre-existing connection but just throws in this shot of pink bunny slippers (as worn by both the University President and Val Kilmer in the movie) to lampshade it to anyone else who might have also spotted the similarities.
    • The Incredible Hulk vs Fin Fang Foom story "The Fin From Outer Space!" is about the titular dragon creature possessing the members of an Antarctic research team and and leaving corpses behind, creating a paranoid atmosphere. The team leader is called Dr Campbell, the first victim is called Dr Carpenter, and one of the other researchers has the first name Howard. Another scientist snaps "Who Goes There?" at Bruce Banner. There's also a poster for The Thing from Another World on the wall of the base in one scene.
  • It is a bit of a Retcon, but Batman's origin (seeing his parents killed) traditionally happened on the way back from seeing The Mark Of Zorro (an obvious inspiration for Batman himself).
  • Wolverine's Old Man Logan storyline draws many parallels to the movie Unforgiven. Likely why "Un-4-Given" is gratified on the side of the future Fantasticar in the first issue.
  • Alan Moore was either unaware of or had forgotten The Outer Limits (1963) episode, "The Architects of Fear", when he was writing Watchmen. When someone pointed out the similarity it bore to Ozymandias's Evil Plan, Moore and Gibbons had it playing on Sally's TV in one of the penultimate scenes.
  • The Sandman (1989): The concept of taking a relatively obscure DCU figure and re-interpreting it with a deeper mythology was ground well-trod by Alan Moore, in his run on the Swamp Thing series. In his first couple of arcs, Neil Gaiman throws in a ton of nods to Moore: the inclusion of the Moore-created John Constantine, the clues that Morpheus' pet Matthew is the reincarnation of the Swamp Thing character Matthew Cable, the similar plot of a formerly goofy DC universe villain taking hold of his powers to become a major threat that the Justice League can't handle, so the eponymous character must talk down (The Floronic Man/Doctor Destiny), and so forth.
    • Similarly, in Black Orchid, Gaiman gives the reinvented title character a direct connection to Swamp Thing. (Gaiman later wrote "I was creating an entire plant-based mythology, for reasons that now escape me.")
    • As part of this mythology, Gaiman was also responsible for the retcon that made Batman villainess Poison Ivy a former test subject of Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man.
  • Peter David again: X-Factor #240 is called "Run, Layla, Run" and features Layla Miller running to save someone, while her alterations to history mean that instead of seeing a single, immutable future, she sees multiple possible futures. Halfway through, she collides with Lola, who is running in the opposite direction.
  • The Grant Morrison created character Fantomex is so named as a nod to Fantômas, although he's primarily inspired by Diabolik—unusually, Diabolik was conceived of as an expy of Fantômas of the original novels/early adaptions, and in turn, inspired a conception of Fantômas in Mexican comic books as a masked Gentleman Thief and adventurer (traits shared with both Diabolik and Fantomex).
  • The creation of a female Lantern named Arisia is a nod to a planet from E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series, which was one of the inspirations behind the Green Lantern series.


    Film — Animated 
  • The Incredibles has a family of four superheroes (plus a baby) with half of the same powers as the Fantastic Four. Naturally, the final villain (right after the origin story movie) is a subterranean conqueror, "The Underminer", who is a pretty close match to the Mole Man, the villain in FF #1.
  • In Turning Red, one of the drawings in Mei's notebook is of her and her friends as the Sailor Guardians from Sailor Moon. Director Domee Shi has mentioned that the 90s anime adaptation's soft colour palette was an influence on the overall look of the film.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Demolition Man: Influenced by Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, Demolition Man draws its setting of peaceful, tightly controlled San Angeles of 2032 from the novel, and Sandra Bullock's character Lenina Huxley is named after the author and one of the book's characters as a reference.
  • The evil rich mastermind in Batman Returns is given the apparently Meaningful Name of Max Schreck (fright/scare). Actually, that was the name of the actor who played Count Orlock in the original Nosferatu. A way for director Tim Burton to tip his hat to the very 1920s German Expressionist look of his two Bat movies.
  • Throw Momma from the Train is built around the same let's-trade-murders plot as Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train. This is directly referenced in the movie, when writing teacher Larry tells his hapless student Owen to watch some Hitchcock for inspiration. Owen watches the first few minutes of Strangers, immediately recognizes the similarity to his current situation, and runs off to kill Larry's wife...
  • Star Wars:
    • The Death Star attack in A New Hope owes a lot to the climactic attack in the movie The Dam Busters, both in the way it was filmed and in the characters setting up a precise run to the target. This is made clear when much of the pilot chatter ("Say about twenty guns..." and so on) is lifted verbatim from the earlier movie.
    • Many elements are inspired by the works of Akira Kurosawa, such as the wipe transitions. In particular, A New Hope shares some notable similarities with The Hidden Fortress (especially the characters of Princess Leia and the two droids). At one point, Admiral Motti begins to refer to the Rebels' secret base as their "hidden fortress," but can't quite get the second word out before Vader starts Force-choking him.
  • Pandorum does this with 1213. Dennis Quaid even compares it to Star Wars.
  • Office Space had the main character and his friends robbing their company by rerouting the fractions of pennies that get rounded down when taxes are deducted. They comment that this is what Richard Pryor did in Superman III - when it goes haywire, they berate themselves for taking any ideas from that movie.
  • Happy Death Day is about a college student who is stuck reliving the same day over and over until she gets her life in order. At one point, she has a conversation with a friend in which she mentions that she's never seen any Bill Murray movies; Groundhog Day is mentioned by name.
  • The Austin Powers movies make several nods to the James Bond and Derek Flint movies they parody, including a casino named "Casino Royale" and Austin watching In Like Flint on TV.
  • Elf references another department store elf, named Crumpet. Crumpet was the elf name of David Sedaris when he worked as an elf at Macy's, which is the subject of his memoir The Santaland Diaries and an inspiration for the film.
  • In You've Got Mail, Meg Ryan's character's bookstore is named "The Shop Around the Corner", which is also the name of the film of the play that began the "two people hate each other in person but have a romantic relationship through correspondence" trope.
  • Fear, Inc. has the main character - a man whose friends hired the titular company to give him a really good scare - explicitly call out how similar it is to the plot of The Game (1997).
  • Zardoz actually makes this a plot point, as we see when Zed learned to read, he realized that Zardoz, the eponymous god he worshiped, was actually The Wonderful WiZard of Oz.
  • Trading Places is influenced by The Marriage of Figaro, as both stories are about a worker who's wronged by his wealthy employer before getting revenge by unraveling their former employer's schemes. The overture from The Marriage Of Figaro serves as the theme for the film, and in one scene in Trading Places, Louis Winthorpe whistles the beginning of the aria "Se vuol ballare", in which the servant reveals his plan.
  • In Labyrinth, as we pan through Sarah's bedroom, we see she has Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are and Outside Over There, along with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Through the Looking Glass, Hans Christian Andersen's Classics, The Brothers Grimm's Fairy Tales, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, as well as an M.C. Escher illustration, which all influence the plot. The end credits feature direct acknowledgements to Sendak and Escher's influences.

  • Stephen Fry's novel The Stars' Tennis Balls (aka Revenge) owes a lot to The Count of Monte Cristo. In acknowledgement of this, the major characters have names that are anagrams of or puns on the names of their equivalents in the earlier novel.
  • It's fairly obvious that the New Republic in Singularity Sky by Charles Stross is basically 19th century Prussia IN SPACE! Less obvious is that the Republic's military leader's delusion that he is pregnant with an elephant was shared by a real Prussian field marshal (Gebhard von Blucher) during The Napoleonic Wars.
  • In Mick Herron’s spy novel Dead Lions, one of the plot threads involves a skyscraper, a suspected terrorist attack and antagonists who are actually criminals, not political extremists. One MI5 agent caught in the middle of this immediately references Die Hard when she realises what’s going on.
  • In a few Sherlock Holmes stories, Edgar Allan Poe's C. Auguste Dupin (on whom Holmes is based) is mentioned. In one story Holmes explicitly does a trick that Dupin did in one of his stories: as they're walking along one evening, Holmes/Dupin responds to some unspoken thought that their walking companion had at the time (and then explains the train of reasoning behind this apparent mind-reading).
  • Dickens Of The Mounted presents itself as the memoirs of Charles Dickens' Remittance Man son, but it's actually humorous historical fiction, which takes clear inspiration from the Flashman series, as is evident in similarly designed maps and a very similar Direct Line to the Author claim by the actual author. In reference to the inspiration (and as a major "clue" the work is fictional), Flashman actually briefly appears in a Take That! cameo, wherein he's presented as an Upper-Class Twit suffering from various venereal diseases that would be the likely result of all of his womanizing.
  • Brutha, the protagonist of Small Gods is a beefy guy who has a Photographic Memory and becomes the prophet of a Crystal Dragon Jesus religion. These are traits shared with Severian, the protagonist of Book of the New Sun, and to this end, one character that Brutha encounters is named Severian. Incidentally, Small Gods is sort of an unofficial sequel or prequel to Pyramids, and in that book, one of the sections is titled "The Book of the New Son".
  • E.L. Doctorow took inspiration for the storyline for one of the characters in Ragtime from Michael Kohlhaas, and thus named the character Coalhouse.
  • Italian mystery novelist Andrea Camilleri's sleuth Inspector Montalbano is so named as a reference to his similarity to another detective character, Pepe Carvalho, written by Spanish novelist Manuel Vázquez Montalbán. In particular, both detectives are gourmets, leading to a lot of Food Porn in their respective novels.
  • Similarly to the above, the fantasy detective character Garrett, P.I. has that name as a nod to author Randall Garrett, who invented the fantasy mystery with his Lord Darcy series.
  • In the first chapter of His Dark Materials, Lyra goes into the retiring room, and overhears her uncle's discussion by hiding in the wardrobe. Most likely this is a reference to a certain other fantasy epic that began with a little girl hiding in a wardrobe.
  • The Roald Dahl story "Pig" is clearly written as a homage to Candide, including a ridiculously idealistic protagonist and a bitingly satirical tone. As a reference to this, the hero's aunt, who raised him, is named Glosspan—a Significant Anagram for Voltaire's Pangloss.
  • Outlander is to some degree Doctor Who Ascended Fanfic. The author had a crush on the character Jamie, played by actor Frazer Hines, who was an 18th century Scot transported to the future. Hence Outlander's plot wherein the heroine is transported back in time to 18th century Scotland and falls in love with a Scot named Jamie Fraser.
  • Honor Harrington is, of course, Horatio Hornblower IN SPACE! Several of the earlier books mention ships named for various of Hornblower's commands, and at one point, Honor is relaxing with a cup of hot cocoa and a Horatio Hornblower book. In a bit of an inversion, Harrington explicitly does not share Hornblower's love of coffee, unlike seemingly everyone else in the Royal Manticoran Navy.
  • Star Wars: Scoundrels, being a heist story, naturally takes inspiration from Ocean's Eleven. There are a few nods to the latter scattered throughout, ranging from the blatant (the Caper Crews both have eleven members) to the subtle (the vaults in both hold about one hundred sixty-three million dollars/credits).
  • Part of the plot of A Scholar of Magics is inspired by the 17th-century masque Comus, written for the 1st Earl of Bridgewater. A fictional contemporary Earl of Bridgewater is a significant character in the novel.
  • Sorcerer Conjurer Wizard Witch is a fantasy take on Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, with the head of England's magical secret service being warned by a possibly-unreliable agent that one of four highly-placed people is a double agent for the Other Side. One of the lieutenant heads of the service is named Tarr, which in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is the name of the agent who brings the warning.
  • In Castle Hangnail, a comic fantasy novel for children, one of the first books Molly looks at in the castle library is by "A. Nesbit", a homage to E. Nesbit, one of the pioneers of this style of children's fantasy.
  • Carmilla: In the last chapter, Laura names several of the books in Baron Vordenburg's vampire library, one of them being Phlegon de Mirabilibus. The book thus referenced, the Book of Wonders by Phlegon of Tralles (2nd century CE), contains the story of Philinnion, about a beautiful young woman who dies young and returns as an undead in order to satisfy her erotic desire for a living target.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied in Brooklyn Nine-Nine: "Pimemento" has Pimento suffering anterograde amnesia and covered in tattoos to help him remember. Jake quickly identifies it as a Memento situation, but everyone else calls it a Finding Dory situation — including Pimento's doctor!
  • Doctor Who:
    • In 1977, the series was forced to abandon a vampire-themed story by Terrance Dicks because it might undermine an expensive forthcoming BBC adaptation of Dracula. Dicks marked the "inspiration" for having to write a new story, the lighthouse-themed "Horror of Fang Rock", by having one of the characters be named Harker. He also had the Doctor mention the book Dicks mainly used to bone up on lighthouses. (The vampire story eventually made it to the screen two years later as "State of Decay".)
    • "The Unicorn and the Wasp", besides being an Agatha Christie pastiche, also takes a lot of inspiration from the board game Cluedo/Clue. This is marked by having characters named Professor Peach (Professor Plum), Reverend Golightly (Reverend Green), and Colonel Curbishley (Colonel Mustard). In addition, Robina Redmond, Lady Eddison and Miss Chandrakala are clearly inspired by Miss Scarlet, Mrs. Peacock and Mrs. White. To drive it home, the episode includes the line "Professor Peach, in the library, with the lead piping", similar to how players make an accusation in the game.
  • Ezel, a Setting Update of The Count of Monte Cristo, contains a couple shout-outs to the original story:
    • The name of Cengiz's company that wins the hotel bid? Dantes Holding.
    • Dantes is referenced again in season two with Dantes Ateşleyiciler (Igniters), the fireworks company through which Ali and Ezel infiltrate Kenan and Eyşan's wedding.
  • A Season 13 Clip Show episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has the cast re-enact a scene from Seinfeld. The Gang do not immediately realize this did not happen to them.
  • A case of internal borrowing: One LazyTown episode echoes the plot of the play it was based on when Robbie Rotten in disguise takes over illegally as mayor. Although other than the 'taking over from the mayor' aspect the episode is very different, both play and episode briefly have the real mayor in a bunny suit for no good reason. Only hardcore or Icelandic fans would get it, though, as the play is both in Icelandic and very difficult for a non-Icelander to acquire legally. Also, many of the songs used in LazyTown have the same tune (and general theme) as the songs used in the original plays.
  • Jessica Fletcher of Murder, She Wrote seems to have been more than slightly inspired by Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, especially since series star Angela Lansbury had previously played Marple in the movie version of The Mirror Crack'd. The pilot of Murder She Wrote opens with a scene of the star little old lady solving the end of a movie mystery interrupted halfway, which is a direct lift from the opening of The Mirror Crack'd. Said scene is not in the book.
  • Season 5 Episode 17 of NUMB3RS contains a number of references to the Robot series of Isaac Asimov, from which it borrows the plot device "an A.I. that kills a human." The episode's title is "First Law" after the Asimov's First Law of Robotics. The company in which the death takes place is called "Steel Cave Industries" after one novel in the series, The Caves of Steel. The name of the A.I. accused of murder is "Bailey" after the protagonist of that novel, Detective Lije Bailey. The scientist who is killed is named Daniel and gives his admin password as "Daniel Olivaw" after Lije Bailey's robot sidekick R. Daneel Olivaw. Presumably this scientist was the one responsible for naming the A.I. and the company created to fund its development, so his familiarity with these books gives an in-story explanation for all these references.
  • The Parks and Recreation episode "Pawnee Goddesses" has Leslie engaging in a battle of the sexes between her girlscout group and Ron's boyscout group. At one point, to impress Ron's group, Leslie's friend Ann shows that a large fish she caught, and then admits to the camera that she bought the fish from a grocery store, and got the idea from an I Love Lucy episode. This alludes to an episode called "Deep Sea Fishing" that also had a battle of the sexes plot, but might also be a nod to Leslie and Ann having a similar dynamic as Lucy and Ethel.


  • The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder is inspired by an Austrian farce called Einen Jux will er sich machen, by the Viennese playwright Johann Nestroy. The title character, Mrs. Levy, mentions at one point that her late husband was from Vienna originally.

    Video Games 
  • Slydris is a Tetris variant, and as a nod to its predecessor, it has three music tracks you can choose from, labeled A, B, and C.
  • As the plot of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny was written as a salute to the Wild ARMs series, the game contains several nods to the series that inspired it. Among these include Amita and Kyrie using attacks from the games, such as Accelerator, and Amita paraphrasing one of the lines from the Japanese version of "Wings" (The Ending theme of Wild ARMs 3) if she manages to perform her Full Drive Burst on the last stage of the Playable Epilogue note .
  • Lost Horizon's overall feel owes quite a bit to Indiana Jones (what with the whole "rugged but good-hearted rogue racing against the Nazis to secure an ancient secret that would give them unimaginable power" angle), and a number of things which show up are likely to be nods in its direction. The Travel Montages are one. Another is the plane crash in the Himalayas, which happens to use the exact same type of plane as Indy was in (a Ford Trimotor).
  • Being a Heroic Bloodshed game with lots of firing two guns whilst flying through the air, the Max Payne series takes a lot of inspiration from the films of John Woo. There are plenty of nods to Woo sprinkled throughout the game, such as Max describing leaving a scene as, "I made like Chow Yun-fat."

    Web Animation 

  • Sticky Dilly Buns is mostly about Dillon, Amber, and Ruby sharing an apartment, and the ways they make each others' lives difficult. Shortly after she arrives, Ruby, who has a bit of a fondness for old television, is very happy to find Three's Company available on DejaView. Amber is more alert to the irony than Ruby is. In many ways this is a double nod, as Sticky Dilly Buns is a spinoff of Ménage à 3—which is, if anything, even more like Three's Company than SDB.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • An episode of the short-lived Clerks: The Animated Series features a weird plot that devolves into a fight with the animator, who keeps painting Dante and Randall into weirder and weirder situations. The similarity to the Daffy Duck short Duck Amuck is shown through this trope by having Randall temporarily turn into the same flower-head creature that Daffy turned into.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode "Criss Cross Crisis" is all about the characters switching bodies. In an early part of the episode, there's a movie theater playing "Freakin' Friday".


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Pink Bunny Slippers, Megaphone Hanging


Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier

"Twisted" is mostly Disney's "Aladdin" put through a "Wicked" filter.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / InspirationNod

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