Konata: Who's Mike Tyson?
[later that day]
Soujirou: Today, I felt the generation gap in a deep and very personal way.
This is a subversion of Pop-Cultural Osmosis. When used in-universe, it's usually as a means of showing the difference between people from two different groups (usually generations) in which a character from Group A makes a pop culture reference (or mentions a famous person or movie or work) and one of four things happens:
- "Who's X?" — The person from Group B doesn't get it at all because of a failure of Pop-Cultural Osmosis. This seems to be the most common.
- "Oh, X! He was in Y, right!" — The person from Group B gets it wrong because of a failure of Pop-Cultural Osmosis (and he's guessing).
- "Wait, Y was based on a real X?" — The person from Group B gets it wrong because of a clash of Pop-Cultural Osmosis, and he's referencing something that referenced the original, referenced a reference of the original, etc.
- "Impressive, you know X... oh, you don't" — The person from Group B gets it wrong because of a clash of Pop-Cultural Osmosis, when person A is referencing something more recent (the reverse of 3).
This can happen because the person from Group B:
- is a bumpkin or is otherwise cut off from modern pop culture;
- is an outsider of the clique or subculture or is an immigrant or foreigner;
- is old-fashioned and not knowledgeable of current popular culture;
- is young and the bit of pop culture is (relatively) old;
- is amusingly displaced from the time of origin;
- simply is not familiar with a genre or a work;
- the work itself is thought to be so popular that all who know it think it will be passed on through Pop-Cultural Osmosis — with the result that it isn't.
- just is not interested in pop culture.
Note that A–F can go both ways (for example, someone too old to know Britney Spears or The Backstreet Boys may have fond memories of I Love Lucy or Herman's Hermits), and G is the natural conclusion of Pop-Cultural Osmosis, when even the Signature Scene is forgotten.
This, by the way, is the reason character-named tropes are often renamednote . For example, if you're not familiar with original Sherlock Holmes tales, you won't know who Inspector Lestrade is; if not well-read in 19th-century French literature (or Broadway musicals), Inspector Javert may be unknown to you.
With the advent of cable television, the Internet, and more things to do in less time, this is becoming more and more Truth in Television. Most everyone in the US watched I Love Lucy because it was one of three television choices; not everyone watched American Idol because it was one of a thousand television choices (and hundreds of thousands of entertainment choices).
One of the many, many reasons for Not Self-Explanatory.
Compare Seinfeld Is Unfunny, Adaptation Displacement, Forgotten Trope, It's Been Done, Fleeting Demographic Rule, Recognition Failure, Pop-Culture Isolation, Lampshaded the Obscure Reference, Before My Time, and Technologically Blind Elders.
- In A Certain Magical Index, Index is shown watching a Magical Girl anime, and applying her rather warped worldview to it. For one thing, she doesn't seem to understand that it's fiction. She assumes the protagonist goes through a Transformation Sequence to hide from witch hunters, but gets hung up on the blatantly wrong symbology and magic.
- One that's Played for Drama in Making Rainbows Bloom. During a jogging exercise, Kanata Konoe hears the line "There are only four lights" repeating in her head. Though due to exhaustion from all the responsibilities in her life and trying to review her studies in her head while jogging, Kanata confused Picard's line for a reading from her English class right before she collapses from exhaustion.
- SCOOB!: Velma dresses up as the judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg for Halloween, but Shaggy mistakes her costume for a Harry Potter school uniform.
Velma: I'm Ruth Bader Ginsburg, obviously.
Shaggy: Which house is she in? Hufflepuff?
Velma: She's a Supreme Court Justice.
Shaggy: (disappointed) Oh. Slytherin.
- South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: As the general informs the troops that the black soldiers will be participating in Operation Human Shield:
Chef: Have you ever heard of the Emancipation Proclamation?
General: I don't listen to hip-hop.
- From the Professional Wrestling movie ...All the Marbles: Promoter Eddie Cisco tells Harry Sears, manager of The California Dolls, that if he wanted class, he'd get the Brontë sisters. Harry says, "My girls will tear their legs off."
- From Armageddon (1998):
A.J.: Have you ever heard of Evel Knievel?
Lev: No, I never saw Star Wars.
- In Baby Driver, one of the crooks is tasked with getting masks of the slasher Michael Myers from the movie Halloween. Instead, he gets Austin Powers masks.
- In Don't Look Up, astronomy graduate student Kate travels to the White House with Randall, her college professor, to present their findings after she discovers a previously unknown comet heading on a deadly trajectory towards earth: When they mention that it was discovered via the Subaru Telescope, Chief of Staff Jason thinks of the automobile manufacturer, and expresses surprise that they make telescopes too note .
- In Get a Job, Roger tries dyeing his hair and beard black in an attempt to look younger. As he and his son Will argue, Will gives the parting shot "You look like Billy Mays!". Roger thinks he means Willie Mays, the baseball player.
- Live Free or Die Hard: When John McClane finally gets to "Warlock"'s place, his reluctant ally tries to pass him off as another of the culture, which fails fast. Notable is when McClane fails to recognize a cutout of Boba Fett and tries to cover it by saying he's only familiar with Star Wars. McClane's smirk seems to suggest he's just screwing with "The Warlock" with that one.
- Munster, Go Home!: Herman mistakes the portrait of Elizabeth II on some counterfeit British pounds for Mary Poppins.
- In Sharknado: The 4th Awakens, at one point, Gil jokes, "To boldly go where no one has gone before." Claudia says quoting Star Wars is dorky. He corrects her and says that came from Star Trek.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home: Happy Hogan turns on "Back in Black", and Peter responds that he loves Led Zeppelin.
- In Waxwork, one of the young people asks if the Phantom of the Opera figure's mask is the original from the movie, and the owner is surprised that someone made a movie about the Phantom. It's implied that the owner is not merely pop-culture clueless, but that he knows the Phantom actually existed in the movie's verse and is amazed Hollywood would resort to filming his tale.
- In Robert A. Heinlein's Methuselah's Children, Lazarus mentions how, since the people on the spaceship will be going back to Earth while 75 years have passed there while only 25 have passed on the ship, there was a great place in Baja California that made great Mexican food. He asks a young girl who was born on the ship if she knows where Baja California is, "Don't you think I studied geography? It's in Los Angeles." Lazarus reflects that by the time they get back she may be right.
- 4400: LaDonna creates an illusion of medical equipment she says she saw on Grey's Anatomy. Doc assumes she's referring to an updated version of the medical book.
- In the Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode "Halloween II", the rest of the precinct makes the wrong guesses on Boyle's costume selection, such as calling his He-Man costume "gay Robin Hood".
- The Flash (2014): In "Nora", Barry and Iris meet their Kid from the Future, Nora. Barry points out if they screw up, Nora might "Marty McFly herself out of existence." Iris goes, "Right, Terminator 2." Barry is mystified and says that was from Back to the Future.
- On The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, when Will and Carlton are trying to pawn Aunt Viv's tennis bracelet, Carlton tries to get more money by telling the pawn shop owner, Agnes, it belonged to Catherine the Great. She thinks he's referring to somebody completely different:
Agnes: 200 dollars.
Carlton: Okay for an ordinary bracelet, but not okay for one that formerly belonged to Catherine the Great.
Agnes: The one-armed chick that works the corner of Hollywood and Vine? She a class act. Okay, $300.
- Gilmore Girls: When Lane's (white) boyfriend Dave asks her traditional Korean mother for permission to date her (so they can do it openly), she responds with "Let never day nor night unhallowed pass, but still remember what the Lord hath done." Lane and Dave have no idea what it means, so Dave resolves to find out. He figures it must be from the Bible, so he reads the whole thing in one night and can't find it. When he confronts Mrs. Kim the next day begging for an explanation, she tells him it's from Shakespeare, but she's sufficiently impressed by his dedication in reading the Bible, so she explicitly grants permission.
- Played with in an episode of Holby City, where an American patient says she understands the medical details because she's seen ER. Arthur Digby, who doesn't own a television, gets excited thinking she means she's been in an actual ER.
- The IT Crowd: To Moss, "Fredo" from The Godfather is just a mispronunciation of "Frodo" from The Lord of the Rings
Roy: Fredo, in the film, he was essentially a pimp.
Moss: No. He took the ring to Mordor!
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
- In "The Gang Solves the Bathroom Problem," the main characters express their enthusiasm for an upcoming Jimmy Buffett concert while repeatedly referencing songs by different artists (mainly "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" by Rupert Holmes).
- Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul do some Adam Westing in "Celebrity Booze: The Ultimate Cash Grab." The Gang seems completely unfamiliar with Breaking Bad, addressing them as Mr. Middle and Malcolm.
- Tony on NCIS is a major movie buff and is constantly quoting movies. In one episode he loses his voice from overexertion. Ducky throws his quoting habit back in his face with, "Your ego's writing checks your body can't cash."
- Parks and Recreation: After it is discovered that the Gryzzl corporation was able to distract Ben from noticing that they added a revision to their contract allowing them to data mine Pawnee by doing it on December 18, 2015, the premiere date of Star Wars Episode VII:
- In the Red Dwarf episode "Parallel Universe", Holly remarks that by jumping into a parallel universe they've "entered the fifth dimension". Lister seems to think the Fifth Dimension is a band: "Didn't they get to number six with 'Baby, I Want Your Love Thing'?"
- A Running Gag in Scrubs is that J.D. refuses to admit he knows nothing about sports, so when other characters make sports references he tries to join in and gets them completely wrong.
- Soap: Jodie counters his Aunt Jessica's claim that there were no homosexuals when she was growing up by noting that many people throughout history were gay, including Plato. Jessica is stunned to learn that Mickey Mouse's dog was gay.
- This exchange from The West Wing:
- In Achievement Hunter Minecraft Series Matt declared that Rugrats taught him the origin of Hanukkah. Jeremy, knowing exactly which episode he means, points out it was actually about Passover.
- In After Hours, Daniel is the nerdiest of the four characters, and apparently knows nothing about sports, which is lampshaded.
Katie: Careful. Daniel doesn't follow sports terms.
Daniel: We're supposed to follow sports "terms"? I've been saying "teams".
- In the Brock's Dub parody of Silento's "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)", this trope is used to mock the likely One-Hit Wonder status of the artist in a segment where Brock first confuses Silento with "the gangnam style guy", followed by him confusing PSY with Sisqo.
- YouTube Comment Reconstruction #5 — based on an actual comment thread — suggests that a lot of people reacted to the death of Nelson Mandela by getting him mixed up with Morgan Freeman. After the misapprehension is corrected, it transitions into a Type 1.
- A running gag in Homestar Runner is that whenever the group puts on a Halloween Cosplay, Homestar misidentifies some of them. This varies from understandable (mistaking Carmen Sandiego for the Spanish Inquisition) to weird (mistaking Mac Tonight for Jay Leno) to bizarre (mistaking Commander Borf for "the Aladdin Genie dressed as Captain Lou Albano"). This often doubles as Lampshaded the Obscure Reference. This would eventually culiminate into the episode "The Show: Ween Edition", where Homestar would turn this quirk into a game show.
- The final battle between Kayaba Akihiko and Kirito has the latter pull off the "I Reject Your Reality" line in Sword Art Online Abridged.
- Bojack Horseman: Wanda misses a lot of references, having been in a coma between the '80s and the new '10s. In one instance Bojack refers to Snoop Dogg, and she's puzzled for a moment until she decides he means Snoopy from Peanuts.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle: The show's spoof of The Three Musketeers ("The Three Mooseketeers") had this exchange:
- In an episode of Rugrats "Family Feud", Stu gets frustrated during a game of charades when Howard fails to guess Dances with Wolves. Howard responds that he doesn't watch musicals.
Stu: It's not a musical, you imbecile!
- The Simpsons:
- In "Marge vs the Monorail", Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame appears as the guest of honor at the monorail's ribbon-cutting ceremony, where Mayor Quimby says "May the Force be with you" to him.
- In "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star", when Bart recites a Latin prayer at the dinner table.
Homer: Bart, what the hell are you saying?
Lisa: That's Latin, Dad, the language of Plutarch.
Homer: Mickey Mouse's dog?
Lisa: No, Plu-tarch. He chronicled the lives of the Roman emperors.
Homer: Oh, I didn't need that new fact! Now I forgot who won Bud Bowl VIII!
- In the episode "What Color Is Your Cleansuit" of The Venture Brothers, The Monarch decides to get kinky in the bedroom and tells Dr. Girlfriend he'll cosplay as Khal Drogo, expecting her to cosplay as Daenerys. Dr. Girlfriend, however, does not watch Game of Thrones. She appears in stars-and-stripes boxing trunks because she thought he said "Drago". As in Ivan Drago.
The Monarch: What the hell is sexy about that?!
Reference Mistaken for Original
- Happens in-universe in Ultra Fast Pony.
- In "The David Bowie Drinking Game" (which, true to its name, is loaded with David Bowie shout outs), Spike says that Rarity was kidnapped by "scary monsters and super creeps!" Twilight corrects him: "It's scary monsters and nice sprites!" Everyone else is aghast at Twilight's ignorance, and at the episode's end Twilight admits that she has no idea who Bowie is.
- In "The Longest Episode", Pinkie shares her The Lord of the Rings Self-Insert Fic, and her audience tells her that she's ruining a classic book. Pinkie is shocked to realize that "There's a book of Lord of the Rings?"
- In The Handmaid's Tale's episode 5.05 "Fairytale" June, her husband Luke and the Guardian with whom they exchanged info are at an abandoned bowling alley, waiting until it is dark. While they wait, Luke goes to the alley's organ and plays Al Green's "Let's Stay Together", serenading June. The young Guardian, who barely remembers life before Gilead, likes the song and asks Luke if he wrote it. Luke is all, "Yup".
- This frequently happens on How I Met Your Mother, between Robin (who is from Canada, eh) and the rest of the gang. Robin calls Springsteen! "like the American Bryan Adams". Springsteen had his break ten years earlier and is much more famous around the world, and particularly in the US.
- Also sprach Zarathustra is:
- a book by Nietzsche;
- a 30-minute orchestral tone poem composed by Strauss, the first 2 minutes of which is used by:
- and a JRPG (Xenosaga 3: Also Sprach Zarathustra),
pretty much in that order.
- Likewise, "Ride of the Valkyries" is either 1) the beginning of Act III of Wagner's Die Walküre, 2) "Kill the Wabbit! Kill the Wabbit!", or 3) the piece played during the air cavalry attack in Apocalypse Now. Or more recently, 4) Daniel Bryan's WWE theme music. Of course, like many examples from Type 2, The Miz thought it was from Star Wars.
- Basically the reason Covered Up and Sampled Up exist (just see the opening quote for the former entry).
- Counter-Strike servers often added the Unreal Tournament "Headshot!" "Multi kill!" "Killing spree!" etc. sound effects. This became such a wide-spread practice, however, that many modders, unaware of the now-less-popular game, refer to them as "CS" sounds when they add them to other games. This expanded to the point that Valve, the company that made Counter-Strike, used the Unreal Tournament announcements in the beta of their newer game, Dota 2.
- In Homescapes William mentions that he and Austin are building a flying machine based on Leonardo's drawings and Scotty asks which Ninja Turtle that is. When Chloe replies that the Leonardo in question was an inventor and artist, Scotty states that it's cool that an inventor was named after the Ninja Turtle.
Referencing Reference Rather Than Original
- Robin (1993): In an annual, Huntress tells Robin it was a clever idea of his to wear mirrors under their ponchos (to blind their enemies in a gunfight). He says he got the idea from an old movie. She says "A Fistful of Dollars, huh?" and he replies "No. Back to the Future Part III." This falls into Fridge Logic when considering that Marty got the idea from seeing that very scene from A Fistful of Dollars in Back to the Future Part II, and that Marty had identified himself as Clint Eastwood upon arriving in 1885. But it’s quite possible that Robin was just messing with her given the way he laughs at her reaction.
- The Sandman (1989): In one issue, Matthew the Raven perches on a bust and says "Nevermore!", then says he got it from the Roger Corman movie.
- Superman: In-universe Older Than They Think example has Superboy saying to Superman, "Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning." When Superman says, "Peter Pan. How appropriate." Superboy replies, "What are you talking about? Captain Kirk said that," in reference to Kirk's closing line at the end of the 6th movie where he was clearly quoting Peter Pan.
- Meta-example in Juno Songs' cover of the Scissors boss fight from Paper Mario: The Origami King: After cutting Mario in two at the end of the song, Scissors quotes Goemon's iconic line: "Once again, I have cut a worthless object." Most reviewers seem to think that it's a reference to Kartana from the Pokémon Sun and Moon anime, who once said the line in Sdrawkcab Speech in a Shout-Out to Goemon.
- During the first season finale of Sword Art Online Abridged, Kirito and Kayaba have some fun exchanging pop culture references before their big duel, bonding over how no one else gets their references. However, at the end of the fight Kayaba gets disappointed when Kirito misattributes a certain quote during his Shut Up, Hannibal! speech:
- Played with in Aquaman. Arthur and Mera hide in a whale's mouth to evade Atlantis's army, with Arthur stating he got the idea from Pinocchio. Later, a little girl repays Mera's kindness by giving her a copy of a Pinocchio storybook. Mera is aghast that Arthur risked their lives on an idea he got from a book, to which he replies "It was a book?"
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine has the normally Pop-Cultured Badass Jake suffer from this once:
- The Coroner: From "Life":
Davey: Greed makes strange bedfellows.
Davey: Game of Thrones.
- Jeremy Clarkson once dodged a forfeit on QI through this trope: He answered the question "What has twenty legs, five heads, and can't reach its own nuts?" with a Boy Band that was too old for the QI elves to have listed it (namely, Westlife). Upon being informed that the trope was in play, co-panelist Jimmy Carr then forfeited on purpose with a more recent addition. (Which falls flat anyway — a five-member boy-band would have 10 legs, not 20...)
- From the comments on YouTube, it appears that many think that "The Devil Went Down to Jamaica" is the original and "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" is the parody.
- An Arthur, King of Time and Space strip starts with Arthur's journal/Life embellished webcomic, with several of the characters playing cards. Gawaine says, "He who steals these cards steals trash," Pellinore replies, "You can't beat the classics", and Gawaine asks if he's a M*A*S*H fan too. Cut to the real-world Gawaine saying, "I don't get it," because Arthur's portrayal of him as not knowing the line is a paraphrase of Othello is completely accurate.
- The Dangers in My Heart: Kana Ichikawa serves her brother Kyōtarō and Yamada takoyaki at a restaurant and channels Baki, giving Yamada a blessing to become a "woman who can't be consumed" just as Yujiro did with Baki's girlfriend Kozue. Yamada, who only reads one manga, pauses and just goes "Okay!" (Although Kyōtarō does get it and tells Kana to shoo.)
- Invoked in the 1632-series: Two time-travelling spies identify each others by the code names "Romulus" and "Vulcan". The idea is that, since American pop culture hasn't penetrated the public consciousness of the 17th century, anyone in a position to recognize the names will assume that Romulus's counterpart is Remus.
- During a flashback in The Da Vinci Code, Robert Langdon is explaining to his editor about the real nature of the Holy Grail. The editor asks why he's never heard of it and Langdon answers that the cover-up "is backed up by the world's biggest best-seller". The editor immediately expresses surprise that Harry Potter talks about the Holy Grail.
- The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds: When one of Stephen's aspects "dies", Stephen loses access to all knowledge associated with that aspect. Losing Tobias, his "general knowledge" aspect, makes him a ramped-up version of this. Among many other things, he can no longer remember what the Eiffel Tower is.
- The Funhouse Massacre: While two park workers are discussing the tastefulness (or lack there-of) of basing a haunted house attraction on the real-life crimes of In-Universe Serial Killers, the other states that that's only making people talk about it more, and says a hashtag about the attraction is blowing up on Tweezer.
- Ghost Note: When Mallory's grandma asks her what she likes to do, Mallory comments she likes watching movies on Netflix. Her grandma states she likes the idea, and they go to do that. As they walk, Mallory's grandma asks...
Grandma: What's Netflix?
- In The Two Popes, Pope Benedict doesn't get the Beatles reference when Pope Francis says Eleanor Rigby
- Werewolves Within: Emerson Flint, the guy who lives out on the edge of Beaverfield, doesn't know who Mr. Rogers is.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!: Galatea is very proud of her vast knowledge, but she has zero interest in pop culture and can be instantly stumped by even the simplest reference to it. "I don't know what that means" is nearly a catchphrase for her.
- End Times plays with this a lot.
- Kimber is constantly missing the other survivors' pop culture references. Twelve years later the Archivist doesn't get them either, probably because 1) she was maybe eight back when TV or internet was a thing and 2) she was at least partially brainwashed by a military dictatorship and spent most of her teen years as an assassin.
- "Those brothers that Charlie likes? with the... cancer book?"
- The Musically Oblivious 8th Grader meme uses various types.