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Uncle Sam Wants You

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The famous World War I-era poster of the Anthropomorphic Personification of the United States of America imploring young men to enlist in the military by Giving Someone the Pointer Finger. Usually depicted as an old guy with a beard, a top hat and a suit decorated with the Stars and Stripes. The famous American poster, created by J.M. Flagg (no kidding) in 1917, is actually based on a British poster from several years earlier, featuring Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener and the famous legend "Your Country Needs YOU".

It is yet another common Art Imitates Art situation, the most popular subversion of which is to use the pose as an anti-war protest instead. Other parodies substitute Uncle Sam entirely with some other character wanting you to do whatever they want, whether it is to join some other war effort, to go about with some form of community service, or simply "to shut up".

Compare Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You.


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  • In the 80s, ampm convenience stores had an advertising campaign of animated commercials that ended with him pointing and saying, "You want it, we got it!"

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In Captain America: Reborn, when Cap is trapped in his own mind after Red Skull stole his body, he sees a variant of this poster with Red Skull saying Red Skull wants you to DIE!
  • Somewhere out there, there's a cover with The Joker running for president in this format, with the caption Vote for me or I'll kill you!
  • Obligatory Buffy example: one of the comics has this.
  • DC Comics has a superhero named "Uncle Sam", the living spirit of America, who has the exact same appearance as the recruitment poster character. He sometimes engages in this, justifiably. For instance, in The Multiversity:
    We want YOU! To pay for your crimes!
  • A Vertigo limited series by Steve Darnall and Alex Ross portrays Sam as a Crazy Homeless Person kicked out of his usual place by a corrupt shadow-self, and dealing with the many wrongs the United States has done throughout its history.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) Issue #1's Third Eye Comics variant cover, featuring Spitfire and Soarin'.
  • In the IDW Ghostbusters comic, there's a skeleton Uncle Sam that specifically says he wants Zeddemore... dead.
  • Justice League Unlimited: In "Let Freedom Ring", General Mendenhall wants the Freedom Fighters to help him bring down the Justice League and the scene does look like the Uncle Sam poster.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle: A Comic Book cover has Rocky and Bullwinkle in a poster saying "We Want You to Defend the Moon".
  • The Beano: A common Running Gag in Bash Street Kids stories by Kev F. Sutherland was Teacher having similar posters spread around the school or even the town, except these ones had a picture of Teacher himself, and the message was “I hate you!”.
  • The cover for the 80th issue of the Futurama comic book depicts Bender dressed as Uncle Sam and pointing at the reader, accompanied by a caption stating that Bender wants the reader to buy the comic.

    Fan Works 
  • Sincere Deceit: A poster in the Industry District has a poster of Vanni in this pose and text saying “I want YOU to join the Revolution”.

  • In Across the Universe (2007), when Max goes in for his Army medical exam, the Beatles song "I Want You" is used, and he hallucinates the poster coming to life, trying to grab him.
  • From the Reefer Madness: The Musical song "Tell 'Em the Truth": "Let every sir and ma'am / Obey their Uncle Sam / That famous finger's set to point / I want you to drop that joint!"
  • Right on the cover of Uncle Sam: "I want you... DEAD!"
  • In Rocky, before the final fight, as part of his all-American act, Apollo Creed is dressed like this and points to the people in the ring and the audience shouting "I want you".
  • During the USO montage in Captain America: The First Avenger, one of the posters encouraging Americans to buy war bonds features Cap replacing Uncle Sam on the iconic poster. The Uncle Sam poster itself appears during the end credits.
  • In Daybreakers, posters featuring an Uncle Sam with fangs implores citizens to "Capture Humans."
  • The poster for Stripes was a parody of this, with Bill Murray pointing and giving a come-hither, "hey baby" look.
  • This poster for The Purge: Election Year has a gun-toting Malevolent Masked Men in an Uncle Sam attire looking at the viewer.
  • Tad, the Lost Explorer: Parodied. During Tad's minor kidroduction, it's revealed that his bedroom has a poster with an archaeologist saying "I want you to join the archaeology club".
  • Ultraman Cosmos: The First Contact: The poster had Ultraman Cosmos pointing at the audience. A mild case of Covers Always Lie; while he did point his finger at the main human character Haruno Musashi in the film itself, but in the movie he's in Luna Mode (all blue) not Corona Mode (red and blue, as seen in the poster).


    Live-Action TV 
  • Fairly Secret Army: the main title shows the original Kitchener poster, which morphs into Truscott's face.
  • On The Bob Newhart Show everyone (except Mr Carlin) shows up to Howard's Bicentennial Party as Uncle Sam. Including Carol.
  • Referenced in The Young Ones episode "Boring", where Kitchener from the poster comes to life, sorta, but sits like a waxwork.
  • Frasier. Frasier is dressed as Uncle Sam in "Crock Tales".
    Frasier: Dad, I bought you these headphones, so that I wouldn't be subjected to your sports drivel. Please put them on.
    Martin: All right, I will. But only if you say it.
    (Frasier sighs and points his finger at Martin.)
    Frasier: I WANT YOU... to wear those headphones!
  • One cover of American Dream has titular character replacing Uncle Sam at the poster.
  • An episode of Arrested Development featured Annyong (Lucille's adopted Korean son) taking on this role for an aggressively patriotic school pageant.
    Annyong: I do it. I play Uncle Sam. Better than the part I have now. Guy who order strike on Pearl Harbor.
  • In one episode of Boy Meets World, Cory and Shawn are riding the subway and they get freaked out when they notice that right behind them is a poster of their principal Mr. Feeny pointing at them with the text "I want you to STAY IN SCHOOL."
  • The trope is also referenced in Growing Pains when Ben Seaver, shortly after Mike Seaver's arrest for a protest to reinstate the coach of the school, tells the family that various relatives are calling him about the event, and believed they had a relative named "Uncle Sam" until his mom set him straight. It gets even more hilarious when one remembers that after his stint in the series, Mike's actor, Kirk Cameron, would later develop films and documentaries with a pro-American light to them.
  • In I Love Lucy, Lucy dons a fake beard to convince Ricky to shave. One of the first things she does is point and shout "Uncle Sam wants you!"
  • In Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Uncle Sam makes a quick visit to the Spellman house when The Other Realm has it's election time.
    Uncle Sam: (to Sabrina) I want you to vote! (to Zelda) And I want you to stop calling me. (leaves)
    Sabrina: Was that Uncle Sam?
    Zelda: Yes, but in The Other Realm he's called Uncle Roy. Not sure why.


    Newspaper Comics 
  • A Garfield strip featured A sign with Binky saying "I want you. Join the circus" and making an Uncle Sam pose.
  • Learning to draw him convincingly is a prerequisite for drawing political/editorial cartoons, hands down. He appears in them frequently, for obvious reasons.
  • Appears now and then in Beetle Bailey, including originally convincing Beetle that yes, the army does in fact want him, specifically. The strip was about college before it was retooled to be about the Armed Farces, and this incident was part of the transitional Story Arc. Decades later, the poster is the kind of thing Sarge will lovingly hang on his wall.

  • In Cactus Canyon, Mayor Cheetum points at the player while holding a "Cactus County Wants YOU" banner in one hand.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: At Ann's room, she has a poster of Ayane doing this posture.
  • Back to the Future: The Game: In Citizen Brown's city, he has poster all over his dystopia citing "YOU could be a Citizen Plus"!
  • Batman: Arkham City: Several prisoners in the Solomon Wayne Courthouse at the start of the game are seen carrying these signs done in the style of Two-Face.
  • In Disney's Hades Challenge Zeus's Hero Application form has him pointing at the player a la Uncle Sam.
  • Fable III's "Albion Needs YOU" posters.
  • Fallout 3 has aged posters showing a power-armored soldier helping Uncle Sam to his feet. The caption is something like "Help Out Uncle Sam".
  • Frederick in Fire Emblem: Awakening decides to boost troop morale by hanging "Chrom Wants You" posters in all the tents. It's particularly embarrassing news for Chrom since he's naked in them.
  • Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite's New Metro City stage has a poster of Captain America in this pose on one of the buildings.
  • A Metal Gear promotional poster for recruiting engineers to develop the next game in the franchise has Big Boss in the style of Uncle Sam. During the Metal Gear EXCELSUS fight in the final level of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, one of Senator Armstrong's taunts is "Uncle Sam wants you to die, Jack!"
  • The famous poster is seen on many buildings in the D.C. level in Octogeddon with "We want YOU to fight Octogeddon'' as the slogan.
  • Some sort of version of the iconic "I Want You" poster is seen in the first level of Psychonauts, with Coach Oleander dressed as Uncle Sam.
  • There's a picture of The Great Khali in this pose in the Smackdown vs Raw 2008 game.
  • Towards the end of Time Slip, there's a shot of a single recruitment poster in the ruined, mostly-destroyed city declaring, "Your Planet Needs You", in the aftermath of the Tirmatian Alien Invasion. But then your mission is a success, and having eliminated the Tirmatians in the past, you ret-gonned the invasion, resulting in a World-Healing Wave that restores the city and turns the poster into a rock concert ad.
  • One of Valkyria Chronicles various promotional posters featured Alicia, the female lead, in Uncle Sam's position.
  • Promotional imagery for Venus Blood -Hollow-'s international, all-ages release features main protagonists Leon and Anora wanting YOU for their personal military unit, the "Black Arme Vapula".
  • Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos references the slogan through poking the Footman.
    "Uncle Lothar wants you!"note 

    Web Comics 
  • In Sinfest, one of the recurring characters is Uncle Sam, who occasionally gets put in this situation.

    Web Original 
  • Madness Combat has posters in some backgrounds:
    The Sheriff wants you. Do not resist. Pull his finger.
  • The Animutation Gender Neutral features an Uncle Sam poster with the text altered to match a mondegreen: "I Want You to Be a Total Yutz".
  • Referenced in the video for the IOSYS song FOE!

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera, Manny takes his heroics a bit far when he takes over the school to prevent the students from committing any felony, having a enormous poster telling them "I want YOU to do good".
  • In a Looney Tunes Pepe LePew cartoon, an "Uncle François Wants You" poster appears in a Foreign Legion fort.
  • The opening sequence for Freakazoid! includes a parody of the poster with the eponymous character as Uncle Sam.
  • Family Guy: Neil handed Meg a note saying "I Want You". When she looked at him, he was dressed as Uncle Sam.
  • The Simpsons: When Springfield threatened to deport illegal immigrants, there was a poster with Uncle Sam saying "I want you... OUT".
  • The DC Comics version of Uncle Sam shows up in Batman: The Brave and the Bold. In the first episode he appears in, he makes the iconic pose when he tells Plastic man that he wants him to join his superhero team, the Freedom Fighters.
  • During the sequence of "Adventure is a Wonderful Thing" in Pooh's Grand Adventure, Owl appears in a poster dressed as Uncle Sam that read "We want you."
  • Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper shows a mall Santa training center which includes a Santa Claus version of Uncle Sam's "I Want You" poster.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: The Justice Friends short "Say Uncle Sam" revealed patriotic superhero Major Glory has a literal Uncle Sam who looks just like the poster character. In a flashback, he tells the child Major Glory, "I want you, to be the greatest American hero who ever lived!" When he shows up in the present, Major Glory is shocked to find Uncle Sam has become a hippie.
  • The We Bare Bears episode, "Braces" has a dentist office poster that has a tooth with a human body that reads "I want you to brush your teeth"; Panda thought it was kind of clever, but when he looks again the tooth in the picture is angry and it now reads, "Or Else...". Panda rubs his eyes and it turns back to normal.

  • Uncle Sam is often parodied on the Internet. His lines are changed to insults like "I want you to find a girlfriend with a name that doesn't end with '.jpg'."
  • Joe Pillsbury once drove it to the obvious conclusion — the caricature depicting a poster of Grim Reaper in this pose, with a scythe in the other hand. The text below was simple "Wants You".
  • One MAD cover had a parody of the poster. Uncle Sam was given Alfred E. Neuman's face, and the caption read "Who Needs You?"
  • An entry in a The Muppets Fun T-Shirt contest had an image of Sam the American Eagle dressed as Uncle Sam with the classic quote from The Great Muppet Caper "YOU are all weirdos!"
  • One anti-Vietnam War poster played with the trope by showing a disheveled and bandaged Uncle Sam, reaching toward the viewer; the caption says "I Want Out".

    Real Life 
  • The British equivalent, predating the American version by at least three years, is Lord Kitchener Wants You, with Kitchener sporting an iconic mustache.
    • Because, it's fucking on now, chaps.
    • Unlike the US Army's version, this image was not recycled for the Second World War, for obvious reasonsnote . In fact, anything that could even remotely be construed as a straight use of this image is discouraged rather strongly. For example, when the government floated the idea of putting the picture on the £2 coin to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, even The Daily Mail thought it was a terrible idea. It doesn't help that Lord Kitchener's other claim to fame is inventing the concentration camp and generally conducting the Boer War in a fashion that Those Wacky Nazis imitated with great enthusiasm a couple of decades later.
  • A similar poster featured a full-length picture of Britain's very own Anthropomorphic Personification, John Bull standing in front of soldiers, pointing at the viewer and demanding, "Who's missing? Is it YOU?"
  • The Russian equivalents, meanwhile, are "Motherland Calls!" (WWII) and "Did YOU volunteer?" (Russian Civil War) (the latter one is the most reminiscent of the Uncle Sam poster).
    • There's also one Russian Civil War era poster of the White army, saying "Why are you not in the army?". It is also of this style.
  • Smokey Bear copied the Uncle Sam one with, "Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires". This is occasionally parodied as "Only YOU can help me hide the body", because Smokey is holding a shovel in the poster.