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Webb: That must be the biggest scandal since Watergategate.
Mitchell: "Watergategate"? Isn't it just "Watergate"?
Webb: No, that would mean it was just about water. No, it was a scandal or "gate" — add the suffix '-gate', that's what you do with a scandal — involving the Watergate Hotel. So it was called "the Watergate scandal", or "Watergategate".''

Shortly after midnight on June 17, 1972, five men were arrested for breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C.. The fallout was immediate, widespread, and immense, leading directly to the resignation of Richard Nixon, then-President of the United States, on August 9, 1974.

The event, dubbed "Watergate" after the hotelnote , was the biggest political scandal to hit the United States at the time. As a result virtually every political scandal that has happened since has had the suffix "-gate" applied to its name. Even scandals that aren't political in nature have followed this naming convention.


For Real Life Examples, see The Other Wiki for an in-depth list.

In-Universe Examples Only:

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    Comic Books 
  • Referenced in the Post-Boot Legion of Super-Heroes. The crisis of the United Planets' Portal Network being subverted by an alien power and used to invade Earth is referred to as "Softgate."
  • Popped up in Christopher Priest's run on Black Panther. The Wakandan consulate sponsored a children's charity which was later revealed to be involved in embezzling and drug-running; one of the charity's wards ended up mysteriously dead. The resulting scandal was dubbed "Wakandagate."
  • Matt Murdock, after having his identity leaked in the press and subsequent imprisonment, was found innocent of being Daredevil thanks to Vanessa Fisk having the FBI director in charge of the case killed and making it look like suicide, complete with a suicide note stating he had framed Matt Murdock. The scandal was dubbed "Framegate".
  • An issue of The Punisher has him being blackmailed by a reporter into letting him follow him for the night. While listing his accomplishments, he says that he exposed "Gatesgate".
  • A Brazilian Beetle Bailey magazine had "Buxleygate", a scandal involving the Sexy Secretary of General Halftrack.
  • In the Monsters, Inc: Laugh Factory comic book miniseries that took place after the events of the Pixar film Monsters, Inc., Sulley refers to Waternoose's scheme of solving the energy crisis by kidnapping human children as "Waternoosegate".
  • Referenced and discussed in Ultimate Spider-Man, Volume 1. Peter Parker listens to a lecture on the Watergate Scandal; the teacher comments on how paranoid Nixon was, while still keeping all of his incriminating evidence because he thought he was untouchable. It occurs to Peter then that Kingpin records all of his incriminating evidence for posterity because he thinks he's above the consequences, as well, and that this evidence could also be leaked to the press.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a Calvin and Hobbes strip, where Calvin pretends that his dad is an elected official, Calvin mentions major scandals during Dad's administration, such as "Bedtimegate" and "Homeworkgate." Dad brushes it off: "Instances of true leadership. History will vindicate me."
  • In this Pearls Before Swine strip, problems with using a Windows computer to upload a video of a horse trotting through a gate lead to the incident being dubbed "Gates Gait Gate Gate".
  • The Far Side: In one cartoon, a caveman impresses the rest of his tribe with his invention of fire—except the fire in question is just a wooden cutout, painted to look like flames. The caption notes that he was exiled from the tribe over "the Firegate incident".
  • In an early Bloom County strip, a Media Scrum of barking (yes, barking) reporters questions Senator Bedfellow at his house: "What about Candygate? Did your aides really trade long hugs for Snickers bars?" He impolitely dismisses the reporters, but then one of them starts rifling through the Senator's mailbox:
    Reporters (variously): Looks like a Sears catalogue. It's filled with women's underwear! Great Scott... It's... Girdlegate! (Barking resumes)

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the Goldie Hawn vehicle Protocol, Goldie Hawn's blond ditz character, Sunny Davis, is unaware that she's being asked to be a prostitute for a high-ranking Arab shiek. When the scandal finally broke, the TV news called it "Sunnygate".
  • In The Hunt, a conspiracy theory about liberals hunting conservatives for sport is mentioned several times by the huntees, and is dubbed "Manorgate". Turns out the similarities between the conspiracy and their current situation are larger than they thought — "Manorgate" was the result of a tasteless joke between friends getting leaked online and conspiracy bloggers jumping on it, leading to the friends making it real as vengeance when they lose their jobs because of it.
  • Pitch Perfect 2: The reason why the Barden Bellas get suspended by the ICCA is because Fat Amy experiences a Wardrobe Malfunction (involving her private parts) while performing for President Obama. The media dubs this the "Muffgate".

  • From one of the "You have two cows" variations that circulated on the Internet in the 1990s:
    American Democracy: The government promises to give you two cows if you vote for it. After the election, the president is impeached for speculating in cow futures. The press dubs the affair "Cowgate."

  • The political satire The Best Laid Plans has pundits use the term "Leathergate" after the BSDM habits of a prominent politician are exposed. This leaves the opposing candidate and his campaign manager (who are trying to lose the election) dismayed. They lampshade the seriousness of the "-gate" suffix being adopted. 
  • Cloud Atlas: After Mega-Corp Seaboard Inc. is caught lying about the safety of a nuclear power plant, the press dubs the story "Seaboardgate."
  • Don't Call Me Ishmael!
    • In Ishmael and the Return of the Dugongs, an event at a pool-party is later discussed as Piss-in-the-watergate. It was cordial.
    • The first book in the series had Buggate. The author seems fond of the pun.
  • In A Disagreement with Death, the last of the Wuntvor novels by Craig Shaw Gardner, Wuntvor's master, the wizard Ebenezum, refers repeatedly in interviews to "Wizardgate," but it is never revealed what the Wizardgate scandal actually involved, partly because Ebenezum cast a spell to make the reporter, and possibly everyone else, forget all about Wizardgate.
  • A variant occurs in Neuromancer: "watergated" is a verb meaning an attempt to cover up/spin a scandal.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Thick of It — Flatgate, despite Terri pointing out that Notting Hill-Gate would be a lot cleverer.
  • In That Mitchell and Webb Look, Rob refers to the original scandal as "Watergategate" on the grounds that, otherwise, what would you call a scandal about water?
    Mitchell: ...Aquagate?
  • On Community, the main characters conspire to make "Star-burns" lose his job in a scandal. The school newspaper headline reads "Star-Gate!" in big letters, and underneath reads "Headline in reference to Watergate, not the 1994 sci-fi film."
  • A similar one happened in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, the Polk Middle School newspaper reveals that the money supposed to replace the tiles has been spent on something else. The following day's headline: "Tile-Gate!"
  • Hugh Dennis on Mock the Week made a joke about this, calling a scandal about tapping the phones of celebrities "stargate" and one about politicians buying pornography "masturgate."
  • TMZ is fond of blowing seemingly minor events out of proportion, often with the "-gate" suffix. For instance, they attributed the Los Angeles Lakers' troubles in the 2010 NBA Finals (you know, before the epic Game 7 close call) to the fact that many of their key players ate steak with heavy, buttery sauce the night before at Ruth's Chris Steak House. They dubbed it "Steakgate" and over the next few days made repeated reference to it.
  • A crossover between Sesame Street and The MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour (the predecessor to today's PBS NewsHour) occurred during a PBS pledge drive in the '80s in which news anchor Robert MacNeil covered a presumed cookie theft by Cookie Monster known as "Cookiegate". Kermit was there too, acting as Cookie's lawyer (for some reason).
  • Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report referred to Michelle Obama shaking the hand of Indonesia's Health Minister as "Handergate."
  • Deconstructed on The Daily Show in relation to Fox News, claiming that Fox News tries so hard to turn any scandal into a Democratic Watergate that when something that actually could be considered as such rolls along, the insult has lost all impact.
  • In the mid-1990s, EastEnders ran a storyline nicknamed "Sharongate", whereby Sharon confessed to cheating on one of the infamous Mitchell brothers with the other brother.
  • Parks and Recreation:
    • A Sleazy Politician invented a sex scandal with Leslie in order to divert attention from the far more embarrassing sex scandal which he was actually involved in. Eventually, Leslie challenges him to provide proof of their affair on TV and he claims she has a mole in her buttocks. After a very fed-up Leslie shows her butt to the reporter, said reporter terms it "no mole-gate".
    • When an explicit tweet is sent from the Department's official account, the local news dubs the scandal "Twitter Watergate, until we can think of a snappier name for it."
  • In the first season of Glee, the Glee Clubbers sometimes referred to their "first scandal"—Quinn getting pregnant—as "Babygate".
  • In 1600 Penn, President Gilchrist makes a joke about marriage being pointless. The press dubs the incident "Wedding-gate" and spends the next month harping on his supposed opposition to family values.
    Marshall: Sir, you've offended women. And men trying to impress women, which is all men, except gay men, whom you've also offended.
  • An episode of The Naked Brothers Band had Alex mentioning that their band is "bigger than Santa", prompting widespread protests against the band all over the country. He refers to the incident as "Santagate". It turns out at the end of the episode that he was referring to the band's picture in a calendar that recently came out — their picture was bigger than Santa's.
  • Veep:
    • In the pilot, the minor scandal over Selina using the word "retard" as a joke gets dubbed "Retardgate".
    • The Season 5 episode "C*untgate" lampshades this with its titular example, as Mike and Amy argue with reporters and other staffers over whether reports of someone in the White House calling the President the c-word counts as a "gate".
  • Frasier: In "Whine Club", the club's outgoing Corkmaster makes a reference to a Noodle Incident by the name of "Spritzergate".
  • Silver Spoons: When Ricky airs a news story about the school cafeteria serving horsemeat instead of beef, he calls the scandal "Cafeteriagate".
  • On Succession, Shiv refers to the incident at a public panel where she calls her father a "dinosaur" as "dinosaur-gate".

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Daniel Bryan's firing in June 2010 was called "Tiegate". This was because the day before was the infamous NXT Riot, where Bryan choked out ring announcer Justin Roberts with his tie. Sponsors called for his release because, apparently, the action was reminiscent of the Chris Benoit tragedy. The actions of the company was much maligned by virtually everyone, especially the wrestling community. Bryan was then rehired (after the heat from the sponsors died off) and became the final man on Team Cena later that year for SummerSlam. As an epilogue, Bryan would later on become the most over wrestler since Stone Cold and the Rock, his popularity jump started by the above situation — it was probably the greatest thing to ever happen to his career.

  • G. Gordon Liddy occasionally complained about the practice on his talk show, on the grounds that attaching the "-gate" suffix to every scandal diluted his personal place in history.
  • In a New Definitions round on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, Linda Smith redefines the seaside town Margate as "the mother of all scandals".

    Video Games 
  • In the Batman: Arkham Knight City Stories:
    • The Riddler tries to invoke an internet scandal against Batman by using the hashtag of #CrusaderGate. It doesn't go well for him. Apparently, even Gotham's nastiest Internet trolls won't go after Batman.
      "Y do u attack B@tman? He is BASED ! U r a fa-"
    Riddler deleted the email, and all the others like it, as prickly hot anger and shame squirmed through his insides.
    • In another, Jack Ryder ends up concluding his column with "JackRyderGate" in response to hate mail he's been receiving. Though in this case, it's more of Jack Ryder blowing his own horn.
  • One of the plots in Paper Mario: Color Splash involves Mario attempting to win a key in a game where one Toad is given a key and then dances between 4 other Toads. When Mario reveals that the Toads are cheating by giving the key to a different Toad during the dance, one Toad christens the incident as "Shufflegate".
  • In The Darkside Detective, ditzy police officer Dooley decides there is something suspicious about a gate, and declares that he's going to investigate until he discovers what secrets it is hiding. He calls it "Gategate."

    Web Original 
  • A Home and Away storyline from 2005 centered on the paternity of Hayley Lawson's baby became unpopular with the fans, who were aware that Scott was the father from the beginning (the test results had been switched by the vengeful ex-girlfriend of the other prospective father, Kim) but were forced to sit through months of near misses with at least three other characters finding out but being prevented from revealing it for various reasons. The story is now dubbed "Paternitygate" on the Backtothebay message board.
  • WikiLeaks included the word "cablegate" in the URL to the 250,000+ diplomatic cables they leaked in November 2010, as if they were naming their own scandal that they were trying to make.
  • YoGPoD 2, Sipsgate, in which Lewis Brindley and Simon Lane randomly call their internet friend Sips (who said to never, ever call him in real life except in emergencies related to their website, which he maintained) three times for no reason other than entertainment. Luckily, the potential scandal and defriending is averted, and Sips is cool with it... as long as they don't call him again. They nearly did it again during the charity livestreams in 2012, but luckily Simon convinced Lewis not to since they didn't want to wake up Sips' son.
  • Invoked in a review of The X-Files episode "Deep Throat" by SF Debris, in which he owns that the habit of calling every other scandal with the suffix "-gate" annoys him a great deal.
  • Named number four in this Cracked article: 5 Things The Media Loves Pretending Are News. Parodied in the entry in the form of "Gatesgategate", a hypothetical scandal involving then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates misappropriating public funds to install a new gate on his property.
  • Welcome to Night Vale: Episode "PTA Meeting" describes a disastrous PTA meeting that was broken up by rampaging pteranodons, dubbing its continuing coverage "Pteranodon Attack-gate."
  • In-universe, A segment of the Tellygunge 2011 Wammies cites "Godfreygate" (where Olivia Godfrey orgasimed during a gunging on live tv) in the Sky Sports ladies episode of Davina's House Party, leading to cancellation. In reality, the author was burned out and declared it a Dead Fic.
  • Worst Muse comically mistakes the practice of adding the "-gate" suffix as just "basically what Woodward and Bernstein did."
  • The Annotated Series has "babygate", in reference to a particularly controversial episode of Donkey Kong Country where the main villain gives up his chance at ultimate victory for the sake of a baby.
  • Kentucky Fried Politics:
    • Prime Minster Stonehouse was revealed to be an agent for the Czechoslovakian government, and is arrested as he is trying to flee the country.
    • The Miss Arkansas scandal almost taints Sanders' presidency, as it is alleged that Sanders in his youth inappropriately touched a beauty pageant candidate. However, Sanders defies it by admitting his mistake and apologizing to the victim in question and other victims, and making amends by proposing anti-sexual harassment laws. This sets the feminist movement into an overdrive called the "Ark Wave", similar to the #MeToo movement of OTL 2010s.
    • The "Great Potomac Scandals" of the Denton administration. Between Secretary of State Buz Lukens's crime of pedophilia that sets off the second Arkwave of anti-sexual pestering, as well as using political funds as hush money, Vice-President Lamar Alexander's accepting of bribes that led to his resignation, Chief of Staff Richard Schemerhorn's cover-up of Lukens's crime by destroying evidence, Secretary of Agriculture H. Guy Hunt's misuse of department funds for personal use, and culminating in hidden diary entries that reveal President Denton knew about the scandal and tried to cover it up, it all leads to the chambers of Congress turning Democrat in a mid-term tidal wave, and Denton deciding to resign before he can be impeached.
    • In contrast, the sole "scandal" of President Kemp's tenure is his Secretary of Defense Donnie Dunagan resigning because he withheld information during his Senate confirmation hearing (or they didn't ask) - that he voiced Bambi as a young boy!
    • Midway through President Jesse Jackson's second term, his son Jesse Jackson Jr. is arrested for assault on a reporter, discovered to have bipolar disorder, and chooses to check into rehab to get control of it. If not for the reporter withdrawing his charges (because he supposedly had his own pending arrest warrants), things might have gotten even uglier.
      • Jackson suffers a second scandal after he leaves office, when he makes some anti-semitic "You Are a Credit to Your Race" remarks about his VP (now President) Paul Wellstone on an interview. This leads to quite a bit of backlash and Jackson doing his best to withdraw from the limelight.

    Western Animation 
  • Discussed in The Simpsons, where Kent Brockman reveals that the trial of Mayor Quimby's nephew for assaulting a waiter (the waiter just tripped) is being dubbed by the media as "Beat-Up Waiter":
    Kent Brockman: This reporter suggested "Waitergate" but was shouted down at the Press Club.
  • Parodied in the American Dad! episode title "Surro-Gate".
  • Bob's Burgers: When a lunch lady doesn't give Gene enough tater tots, he refers to what happened as "Tatergate."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Gate Construction, Gate Suffix



After Mario and Huey prove the Toad was cheating in his shuffling event, the Toad says the event could be called Shufflegate.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / Scandalgate

Media sources:

Main / Scandalgate