Michael Jackson's elaborate Music Video for "Thriller" debuted to much hype in 1983 and was an instant smash hit. As the most famous single video of all time, it's become a Stock Parody, usually referencing the "zombie dance" performed by Michael and a troupe of ghouls and/or the closing Or Was It a Dream? shot of Michael with evil yellow eyes. The red leather jacket Jackson wore in the video is also likely to turn up in such spoofs.
- One Piece: Along with having an island/ship named Thriller Bark. The zombies do a Suspiciously Similar Substitute dance number called "Zombie Night" to hype themselves up before they attack the Straw Hats.
- In the CLANNAD anime, when Tomoya orders Fuuko to "act like a zombie", she immediately starts doing the "Thriller". Tomoya doesn't comment on this.
- A blink-and-you-miss-it nod in one episode of the Daily Life with Monster Girl anime: one of the end cards featured zombie subspecies, and the Early Zombie girl wore Michael's red jacket.
- In one strip of the Dutch comic Sjors en Sjimmie, Sjimmie dresses up as Jackson and sings a few bars of the song.
- A rare text-only example of this trope can be found in Chapter 16 of Ed, Edd, Eddy n Edna. The chapter even ends the same way the original music video does.
- The New Adventures of Invader Zim uses this for a quick gag in its Halloween Episode. Namely, GIR dresses up as Michael in the video, sings a few lyrics, and dances, with a group of zombies acting as his backup.
- A zombie resembling Michael Jackson appears in Return of the Living Dead Part II during the finale, as the all the zombies are being electrocuted.
- The Bollywood film Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki (1984) has one of the first zombie dance spoofs.
- In the German comedy Otto-Der Film (1985) the zombie dance is spoofed with lookalikes of the German folksinger Heino, adapting the song's tune to the lyrics of his song "Schwarzbraun ist die Haselnuss".
- The Indian Telegu film Donga (1985). A character dances with zombies, also dressed in a "Thriller" jacket (along with the yellow eyes and teeth from the coda), singing a song with a very similar tune. It became an Internet meme in the 2000s.
- In the 1985 horror movie Dead End, one of the zombies wears the "Thriller" jacket.
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off: During the "Twist & Shout" sequence, a group of African-Americans is seen performing zombie dance moves.
- Coming to America: Dance sequence referenced.
- In the 1980s a porn parody was made of this music video called "Driller: A Sexual Thriller". It features a Michael look-a-like, but otherwise it was very little to do with the original. The Cinema Snob reviewed it in one of his episodes.
- 13 Going on 30 has a scene where the time-transplanted protagonist that went through an Overnight Age-Up asks for "Thriller" to play. It takes a while, but soon everyone is dancing like zombies.
- The New Zealand-made dramedy Boy (2010) features a dream sequence with actor-director Taika Waititi and others imitating the dance moves.
- In Terry Pratchett's Johnny and the Dead, Johnny Maxwell and his 1990's gang teach the ghosts in the local cemetary - all of whom died in the period 1850-1948 - how to do the Moonwalk dance. (an affectionate parody of the Thriller video with real Undead). The sight of a corpulent Victorian mayor and a suffragette who died for her beliefs getting really into it is one that provokes much amusement.
- As early as 1984 Joe Piscopo parodied the music video of "Thriller," but transforms into Jerry Lewis. He is then joined by a whole group of awkward walking and funny voiced Jerry Lewis clones.
- British comedian Lenny Henry spoofed the music video as "Thinner" in 1984, parodying allegations about Jackson's anorexia. It also inverted the opening scene (the girl's dating a werewolf, and is horrified when he turns into Michael Jackson), and featured "Michael" accidentally knocking the head off a zombie in the dance routine, his mother giving him a telling-off ( and having the zombie eyes at the end), and a cameo by Henry's David Bellamy impression.
Vincent Price sound alike: This film will shock, your flesh will creep,
It's nasty, but it sure ain't cheap,
And Michael will scream harder still,
Just wait until he gets... The bill!
- Spitting Image: In the pilot episode, a Michael Jackson puppet leads a group of zombies who resemble members of British Parliament. His song, "I'm Perfect," has a similar melody to "Thriller." The sketch concludes with a close-up of Jackson's face with dollar signs in his eyes.
- Wizards of Waverly Place did this when real zombies invade a prom. Alex challenges them to a dance off to stop their attack. The leader lampshades this.
Female Zombie: Ugh, one music video comes out and suddenly everyone expects us to dance.
- Death's song from the Halloween special of Horrible Histories (sadly impossible to find online) was built up to be this, but surprised everyone by being a pastiche of "My Favorite Things" instead. Still had some Thriller esque dancing ghouls, though.
- A 2010 film, made in Gabon, has local Gabonese actor Michael Anicet imitate the music video. It's very low-budget and just playbacks to the original song, but actually very well done and has the interesting variation of having the actress who plays Michael's love-interest do some more dance routines herself.
- During the Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger Crossover with Kamen Rider Ghost, the Zyuohgers do their "Super Sentai" Stance and a confused Ghost contributes by doing a pose from "Thriller"◊.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Eat It" is the first video that parodies "Thriller", albeit in the context of a shot-for-shot spoof of the video for Jackson's "Beat It". A random zombie peeks through the blinds early on. At the end the video is revealed to be an Acid Reflux Nightmare of Al's. As he prepares some Alka-Seltzer, there's a spooky eyes reveal.
- He briefly does the zombie dance in the video for "Tacky" during the line "If I'm bitten by a zombie, I'm probably not telling you".
- Gorillaz: In the video for "Clint Eastwood" from Gorillaz the gorillas that emerge from their graves and chase Murdoc also do some zombie dance moves.
- At the end of the video for Bob Sinclar's "Rock This Party" the children imitate the zombie dance sequence, complete with outfits.
- In the Gnarls Barkley video "Smiley Faces" it is suggested that the two members of the group were also "Thriller" zombies.
- Lady Gaga lifted the zombie dance choreography for the "Bad Romance" video.
- Naturally part of Alien Ant Farm's tribute cover of Smooth Criminal which among other Michael Jackson homages include some men partially doing the zombie moves and the end of the video, one of them showing off the spooky eyes.
- At the end of LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It" the robot-man turns his head to the camera where his robot eyes blink, followed by a Freeze Frame.
- At the end of Britney Spears's "I Wanna Go" the man that saves Britney at the end of the video has creepy eyes with a Freeze Frame.
- In Team Fortress 2, activating any taunt during the Halloween season carries a high chance of your character performing the zombie dance instead.
And though you fight to stay aliveYour body starts to spasmusFor no mere mortal can resistThe magic of Merasmus!
- The map added with the Spectral Halloween Special has a roulette wheel (which activates whenever any team caps the point on the map) that can force both teams to dance this way a meter apart. Then return control of everyone's weapons. Hilarity Ensues.
- One of the first bosses in Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti for Famicom is a vampire, clad in Jackson's red jacket, who emerges from a disco floor in a cemetery and summons various zombies who start dancing and then attack the player. The game is similarly loaded with parodies of famous horror films.
- The Dancing Zombie in Plants vs. Zombies was originally based on Michael Jackson, though an update after the singer's death replaced him with a disco dancer with a Funny Afro.
- In RuneScape, one can purchase a Morytanian Music Box from Solomon's General Store. Placing it on the ground and clicking on it causes players to do a dance almost the same as the Thriller dance. Heck, even the music that plays whilst this is happening sounds awfully like Thriller.
- Cataclysm has a zombie version as a joke monster. It can turn nearby zombies into non-hostile yet Nigh Invulnerable dancers, but killing The Thriller turns them all into hulks.
- In Guild Wars, the female necromancer dance is a copy of the zombie dance.
- In some expansion packs of The Sims 2 and The Sims 3, the Sims can get together to do the Smustle which contains variations of this.
- During one portion of the dream world segment of Lunarosse, a group of zombies in the apocalypse area start doing this. Channing lampshades it by calling a "music video rip-off".
- In Crash: Mind Over Mutant, the TK do this. Well, it's pretty tough for a debut cutscene...
- In Erfworld, fighting stacks get actual bonuses from dancing in unison, as seen when Wanda leads her troops into battle.◊ Bonus points because, like Michael Jackson, the dancers behind her actually are zom—, er, uncroaked.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: "Revenge of the Hundred Dead Ninja" opens with a parody of the video, with Ben Franklin in the Michael role. Turns out to be Doc's nightmare... and then the actual zombies show up.
- This is done very well in the 2011 Halloween Episode of The Annoying Orange, given that the characters are all Anthropomorphic Food.
- Brentalfloss's Ghost n' Goblins With Lyrics becomes a Thriller parody at one point, music and all.
- The Cinema Snob: One episode reviews the porn parody Driller: A Sexual Thriller, where Brad Jones frequently wonders why this film strains away so far from the original music video.
- The Simpsons: In "Treehouse Of Horror III"'s final segment ("Dial 'Z' for Zombies"), Bart and Lisa try to revive their dead cat with a magic spell, but accidentally raise dead humans from the nearby graveyard instead. This was probably bound to happen, given that Bart had to wear the Thriller album sleeve on his head to perform the spell.
- In the third level of arcade game, when a batch of zombies rise from the ground they briefly perform the Thriller dance.
- South Park
- Once Chef becomes a zombie in the Season One Halloween Episode "Pinkeye", he dances along with the other zombies and is dressed in Jackson's outfit. Instead of the actual song, there's a Suspiciously Similar Substitute with (this being Chef) lyrics about making love.
- In "The Jeffersons", the reveal of Michael-as-zombie is parodied when the kids see the crumbling ruin that is the actual face of Michael Jackson (circa 2005). And yes, he's wearing the red jacket.
- Family Guy: The ending of "The Hand That Rocks the Wheelchair" has Stewie with wolf-like yellow eyes and maniacal laughter.
- In "Meet The Quagmires", the 1980s version of Cleveland is wearing the red jacket.
- Alvin and the Chipmunks: In the 1983 episode "The C-Team/The Chipettes", the Chipmunks' opening musical sequence uses the chorus' dance moves.
- Done in an episode of Littlest Pet Shop when werewolf paranoia grips the pet day camp.
- An episode of Grojband has the band laying resurrected dead to rest with the song "Zombie Dance".
- Done in the Metalocalypse special, Metalocalypse The Doom Star Requiem when the band have to get by forgotten musicians and junkies to reach the building Toki is being held hostage in.
- The Fairly Oddparents referenced twice. Once during the Halloween special during Timmy's "Real and Scary" number and again in "One Man Banned" during the montage of Timmy's musical fame.
- In one "Buttons and Mindy" short on Animaniacs, Buttons saves Mindy from a graveyard full of zombies by doing this.
- The 6teen special "Dude of the Living Dead," centers around the gang trapped in the mall which is infested with zombies and one of the zombies happens to resemble Michael Jackson.
- Dancing to the song was one of the challenges in the Total Drama episode "Basic Straining."
- Casper's Scare School: the episode "My Fair Harpy" ends with all students performing a group dance identical to that of Michael and the zombies.
- Wakfu season 2 episode 3: In the end credits, the ghouls are dancing like the zombies in "Thriller".
- The title sequence for The New Scooby Doo Mysteries has a lineup of monsters doing the dance.
- In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "Little Rock of Horrors", Billy and a whole group of brainless zombies do the dance.
- In the DuckTales (2017) episode "The Living Mummies of Toth-Ra!", Dewey teaches a group of the titular mummies the zombie dance as part of their rebellion against Toth-Ra. Needless to say, it's ineffective.
- Breadwinners Halloween Episode "Bread of the Living Dead" not surprisingly had Sway Sway and Bruduce doing this when they used the Zombie Loaf bread to keep zombies at bay and realize they follow their every movement while holding it, leading into the dance number, "Shake Your Zombie Booty!".
- The event "Thrill the World" attempts to break the record for the most people performing the zombie dance sequence.
- A popular viral video has Filipino prisoners performing the dance in a prison courtyard.
- NFL wide-receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. performed the two most recognizable dance moves from the "Zombie Dance" after scoring a touchdown on national TV in the 2016 season.