One of the most famous movie scenes of all time and perhaps the most frequently spoofed, parodied, imitated, plagiarized, and referenced one. Alfred Hitchcock's movie Psycho (1960) has become infamous for the scene where a woman (Janet Leigh) is murdered while taking a shower. Back in 1960 audiences were utterly shocked when they saw this scene for the following reasons:
- Audiences weren't permitted to enter the theater mid-screening. They had to be present from the start or they wouldn't be allowed inside.
- Janet Leigh's character had been the film's protagonist for the first half of the story. Audiences identified with her actions when suddenly she was killed off. Up to that point, mainstream films had never let their central character die halfway through the film. Especially not that suddenly.
- It was the most graphic movie killing ever at the time, even though it was in black and white and the knife was never seen penetrating flesh. A lot of the horror comes from Bernard Herrmann's musical score, which itself became a Standard Snippet in comedic horror scenes: "Psycho" Strings.
Of course, nowadays, the shower scene is a case of "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny. People have seen this scene parodied so much that there's a sense of overkill and thus the shock value of the original is lost. In fact, the Psycho Shower Scene Parodies themselves (always complete with "Psycho" Strings) have transformed into uninspired stock parodies that leave an audience sighing: "It's Been Done." Subtrope of Toilet Horror.
- The entire shower scene is parodied in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, strings and all. It only serves to make Fuura Kafuka even creepier, too—while the stabber changes between every shot (Bruce Lee, Freddy Krueger, and the Drunken Master to name a few), it's Kafuka we see dashing around the corner out of the bathroom.
- Played nearly shot-by-shot in episode 47 of Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, complete with the strings.
- Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu. When Captain Tessa Testarossa turns up at Sōsuke's high school, her Number Two Richard Mardukas (well aware of Tessa's infatuation with Sōsuke) threatens a terrible revenge if he should attempt to molest her. Cut to an Imagine Spot involving Sōsuke dressed in his Bonta-kun costume attacking Tessa in the shower with a banana.
- A Channel episode 2. Yuuko and Tooru watch a horror movie that has a scene similar to it while they wait for their turn to use the bath.
- In De Kiekeboes album "Het Plan Sstoeffer" Fanny takes a shower and thinks: "If I'm quick, I'll be able to catch "Psycho" by Hitchcock on TV". While she is showering she is attacked by a spy, but she notices him just in time and knocks him out.
- One issue of ALF's comic had a Melmacian version of Psycho where the Norman Bates character (Sy Coe) was obsessed with bread. Flour comes out of the shower instead of water, and then Coe attacks with a baguette.
- A cover for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Grind depicts Leatherface attacking a showering woman with his chainsaw.
- Referenced (yes, a reference of a reference) in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series: see the page quote.
- Phantom of the Paradise when Winslow confronts Beef (in a comic allusion to Psycho) and threatens to kill him if he performs, namely by stopping his mouth with a plunger.
- Planes, Trains and Automobiles when Neal discovers what Del did to the bathroom, and that he had been washing his face in the water Del was using to soak his socks.
- Also spoofed at the end of The Silence of the Hams, which is something of a parody mix between The Silence of the Lambs and Psycho. The killer in question is Alfred Hitchcock, who kills the director of Hams in the shower for making fun of his film. Then it turns out it was Dr. Animal Cannibal Pizza (Dom De Luise) wearing a latex mask.
- In Mel Brooks Hitchcock spoof High Anxiety, the Psycho shower scene parody uses the shrill cries of an angry bellhop in place of the strings: "Here! Here's your paper! Here's your lousy, stinking paper! Happy now?"
Thorndyke: That boy gets no tip...
- Done in Looney Tunes: Back in Action when Kate finds Bugs Bunny in the shower. Bugs pours some chocolate syrup down the drain for the blood (which is what was actually used for the original scene).
- Justified by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - the scene takes place inside a television, so it's highly possible that the cast is watching Psycho.
- Done with a slight lampshade in the film National Lampoon's Vacation. Filmed from Clark's POV as he slowly enters the bathroom. The "Psycho" Strings emanate from the orchestra, and then he opens the shower curtain to find his topless wife showering. ...as he holds a harmless, ordinary BANANA and does his own (weak) vocal version of the infamous "REEE! REEE! REEE!" sound as the orchestral music fades away... Turns out it was only in jest, due to the blatant overuse of this joke.
- Police Academy 3: Back in Training. Sweetchuck is alarmed by the sight of a sinister shadow on his shower curtain of a man wielding a knife, only for it to turn out to be Zed clutching a tube of hair gel (a sight he finds no less terrifying).
- Done in Monster in the Closet. Each time the woman's shower is interrupted when she sees an ominous shadow on the curtain, it's just her husband asking her if she needs any errands done or if she knows where the keys are. Further twisted since it's the husband who is killed by the eponymous monster while his wife is showering.
- Done in a Hitchcock parody episode "Too Old To Trick Or Treat, Too Young To Die" of That '70s Show after Laurie unexpectedly finds Kelso using the shower.
- In Spitting Image Margaret Thatcher discovers former Prime Minister Edward Heath in her shower note . He decides he'll return as Prime Minister, but Maggie simply slashes him with a knife.
- Charmed: In an early episode, where horror movie killers come to life and hunt the sisters, Piper, running from one such killer, makes the very wise decision of hiding in the shower. After noting her own stupidity, she sees a shadowy figure approaching from behind the curtain... luckily, it's Prue.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: A very subtle one. In "The Barber Shop Sketch" Michael Palin's barber character flips into homicidal mode several times, uttering the line: "Cut, CUT, HEART, HITCHCOCK, MURDER, BLOOD, PSYCHO, HOMICIDE, SPURT, ARTERY, TREMOR CORTEX, Arrrgg...!"
- During the mid-90's, Soap Opera Guiding Light based an entire storyline off this film, with local rapist Brent disguising himself as a woman in order to insinuate himself into the life of his unsuspecting victim. Becoming more and more unhinged as he realized the woman was putting her ordeal behind her and moving on with her life, he broke into her apartment one night, intending to kill her as she was showering—he ended up almost killing her friend instead.
- The sequence is recreated shot-for-shot by Janet Leigh's daughter Jamie Lee Curtis in Scream Queens (2015) — Except that Jamie beats down the bad guy, saying Ive seen the movie like fifty times.
- In Pretty Little Liars "UnmAsked," as part of an extended Psycho homage, A stalks Hanna in the shower, but is driven off when a phone starts ringing.
- Dead Ringers: Spoofed when George Lucas goes mad and starts making Special Editions of other people's movies, including Psycho. As a result, Janet Leigh is ambushed in the shower by Jar-Jar Binks... and then she kills him.
- Played with in The Order of the Stick, where Haley Starshine, while being pursued by her former rival Crystal in Greysky City, hides in the bathroom after her bow is sundered. Crystal enters to see someone in the shower and, thinking it's Starshine, attacks. It turns out what was actually in the shower was a sack of flour dressed up to look like Haley, who proceeds to pounce with a sap to Crystal's head. It doesn't work, but it at least bought Haley a bit more time.
- The 5 Second Films video "The Early Bird Killer", in which the presumably eponymous serial killer comes to kill a girl in the shower. The twist is that she had already been killed by another serial killer, who is currently taking a shower in her place.
- In the Homestar Runner video "Jibblies 2", Coach Z proclaims that during Halloween when there's an insane monster running around there's no safer place to be than in the shower (which sort of makes sense given that it's a painting). He is immediately jibblified by the painting wearing a shower cap.
- In a Hyper Fangirl vlog, she sees Doug at a con and decides to pretend to stab him while making screeching noises. No other reason other than she's creepy and terrible.
- Sam & Mickey's "Psycho" has one, which ends with the cross-dressing Ken inviting the showering Barbie to have some daiquiris.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show: In the episode "Haunted House" when Stimpy's taking a shower.
- Kim Possible does it twice, once with Bonnie taking a shower as a homage to Psycho's famous scene, and again when music from the film plays after Ron falls off his bike and water comes from his head.
- The Simpsons:
- In the episode "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge" there's an original parody of the shower scene. Instead of taking place in a shower, Homer is attacked by Maggie with a hammer in the garage. The "Psycho" Strings music is present, as are the same shots, and a can of red paint provides the same effect of blood flowing away in the drain.
- Tiny Toon Adventures: Elmyra tried to bathe Dizzy in the "Wheel O' Comedy" episode segment "Devil Doggie".
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, "The Big Cheese" when Cheese surprises Eduardo in the shower.
Cheese: I! FOUND! A! CARROT!
- In the ¡Mucha Lucha! episode "Curse of the Masked Toilet" the titular sentient toilet does this to The Flea with a luffa after he turns on the shower. Being that The Flea takes pride in uncleanliness, he's disgusted when in the following scene he's outside with his normally brown costume now white.
- Hitchcock himself attempts to use this during his fight with Steven Spielberg on Celebrity Deathmatch, but unfortunately, due to using the same editing as in the original scene, the knife never actually touches Spielberg so he doesn't receive a scratch.
- An episode of Dexter's Laboratory ends with a shadow sneaking up on Dad in the shower brandishing a pointy object, but it turns out its just Mom with a brush that she scrubs Dad's back with. This ending is from the episode "Pslightly Psycho" that Mom spent in a semi-psychotic state due to the family swiping her signature gloves and setting off her germophobia (she snaps out of it by the end when she finds out they gave her a new pair as a Mother's Day gift).