Follow TV Tropes


Mythology Gag / Literature

Go To

  • In K.A. Applegate's Animorphs, Jake's decision to "ram the Blade Ship" in the series' ending mirrors Elfangor's decision to ram an enemy ship in The Andalite Chronicles. While Elfangor won his battle involving that tactic, the result of Jake's decision is unclear.
  • Peter David loves to cross media with these. Trans-Sabal from Marvel Comics shows up in his Arthurian trilogy. And then there's Morgan...
  • Stephen King often inserts Mythology Gags in his novels, making brief, casual, and usually vague references to events or characters from a previous novel that might not have absolutely nothing to do with the current novel whatsoever, but that fans of King who have read most of his novels would easily be able to recognize.
    • For example, the novel Needful Things includes bully Ace from the novella "The Body" and references to the novels Cujo and The Dead Zone. This makes sense as all of these events occur in the same (fictional) town.
    • In The Dark Tower novels, elements from many of his earlier books appear, with such frequency that by the end of the series the reaction has accelerated into full-blown Canon Welding.
    • Dolores Claiborne is possibly the strangest example of this, as the titular character experiences a brief psychic connection with the protagonist of Gerald's Game, to whom she has no other connection at any time.
      • This connection happens on July 20, 1963, during a total solar eclipse, which makes it a real-life Shout-Out to an actual total solar eclipse that went across Maine on July 20, 1963.
    • Insomnia contains a good deal of this, including numerous references to The Dark Tower, but the one that stands out the most is when the protagonist finds a pair of shoes belonging to the little boy who died from Pet Sematary.
    • Advertisement:
    • Pet Sematary itself contains a passage where a character mentions that it used to be legal to keep animals like raccoons as pets in the area, before there was an incident involving a rabid dog.
    • In The Tommyknockers, one character hallucinates Pennywise the Clown from IT while driving through Derry.
    • And in IT, a scene involves Dick Halloran, the cook from The Shining.
      • Also in Dreamcatcher, one of the main characters heads to Derry and finds the phrase "Pennywise lives" scrawled on the monument dedicated to the Loser's Club, which was the title the main children gave themselves in IT.
    • In Bag of Bones, it's revealed that Thad Beaumont, the protagonist of The Dark Half, committed suicide.
    • In Misery Annie talks about a photographer she once knew who took pictures of an old hotel whose caretaker went crazy and burned it down.
    • Advertisement:
    • Desperation and The Regulators were published simultaneously (by King and his alter ego, Richard Bachman), and thus the characters, settings and plot are connected and have a lot of overlap. However, both novels also feature a character called Cynthia Smith, who mentions briefly in Desperation that her nose was broken by a bad man. Cynthia was a secondary character in King's previous novel Rose Madder, in which the assault took place.
    • The villain of The Eyes of the Dragon is Randall Flagg of The Stand, using a different name.
    • References between stories in Different Seasons: Andy Dufresne from "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" is mentioned in "Apt Pupil" as helping Dussander assemble his stock portfolio.
    • Skeleton Crew:
      • The narrator of "Nona" recounts his run-in with Ace Merrill from "The Body" and Needful Things.
      • "The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands" is another tale of the uncanny told at the same brownstone men's club in Manhattan where "The Breathing Method" takes place.
      • The four ill-fated kids in "The Raft" are students at Horlicks University in Pennsylvania. The Cunninghams, Regina and Michael, were professors there in Christine. (The events of "The Crate" took place there as well.)
      • This one may overlap with Genius Bonus. In "The Jaunt," the first man to take the Jaunt wide awake (only to emerge insane and die as a result) is a convicted killer named Rudy Foggia. As King aficionado Tyson Blue points out in The Second Stephen King Quiz Book, Rudy Foggia's initials may mark him as another incarnation of Randall Flagg; in The Stand, Flagg's aliases all have the initials "R.F." (Richard Freemantle, Russell Faraday, etc.)
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    • The new novel, And Another Thing...... opens with Arthur, Ford, Trillian and Random experiencing false lives, before learning they're still on Earth, and it's still being destroyed by the Grebulons (as seen in Mostly Harmless). When describing her hallucination, Trillian claims they were rescued from Earth by the Babel Fish, which transported them to Milliways. This was the bonus "they're not really dead" ending of The Quintessential Phase of the radio series.
    • The wonderfully meta introduction to said book may also count, as it alludes to the "trilogy in six parts", as well as the franchise's radio, television, film and stage productions.
  • Modesty Blaise novels:
    • In A Taste for Death, Steve mentions having read something in the Evening Standard, which is the newspaper that originally ran the Modesty Blaise comic strip.
    • In "Cobra Trap", the short story that serves as a Distant Finale to the series, one of the characters remarks on the fact that Modesty looks decades younger than she really is, hanging a lampshade on the fact that the comic strip ran for decades without Modesty visibly aging.
  • Wicked, in novel form, makes a lot of minor references to the oft-ignored rest of the Baum series. Perhaps most notable is naming the deposed Ozma (there's more than one in the series) "Ozma Tippetarius": Tippetarius, or Tip for short, being the name of the gender-bent disguise of Ozma from The Marvelous Land of Oz.
  • The novelization of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake reveals Erin's last name is Hardesty, which was the surname of the heroine from the original 1974 film.
  • Eoin Colfer's books have a few recurring names:
  • In the BIONICLE children's book Desert of Danger, Mata Nui first tries to defeat a sand bat by knocking off its mask, which was a very common theme back when the toy-line first started. Another character instantly points out that in this new world Mata Nui found himself in, animals don't wear masks. Even so, the book's artist did use an older bat-themed mask as a reference for drawing the sand bat's head.
  • In Star Trek: Ex Machina, McCoy, exasperated by the sheer diversity of aliens on the refit Enterprise, sarcastically asks what’s next - hortas and glass spiders? Those readers familiar with the works of Diane Duane will get the joke (a reference to two of her characters, crewman Naraht and K’t’lk).
  • In novel The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly, Michael Haller Jr. reflects on how his father, a high-powered lawyer, had a soft spot for "women of the night" and often defended them for free. Readers of prior Michael Connelly novel The Black Ice would have known that LAPD Detective Harry Bosch, hero of a good two-thirds of Connelly's novels, is the son of Michael Haller Sr. Bosch's mother was a prostitute that Haller Senior defended in court for free.
  • James Bond
    • In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the first Bond novel after Dr. No, the first James Bond movie, Bond is revealed to have Scottish heritage as a nod to Sean Connery. Also, Ursula Andress, who played the Bond girl, is mentioned as a guest at Blofeld's ski resort.
    • When a subject of peoples interests come up in No Deals, Mr. Bond regarding Bond's comment to would-be defector Smolin about him having a cover name of a nineteenth century politician, Smolin mentions that some might even read the works of Margaret Drabble and Kingsley Amis, latter whom wrote the Bond continuation novel Colonel Sun.
    • As Bond in Scorpius watches The Untouchables as an in-flight movie, narration notes that his favourite actor plays a Chicago cop in it.
    • A character in Death Is Forever complains about the use of the Textual Celebrity Resemblance trope, telling Bond that an author whose book he is reading constantly uses it to describe people. Bond then notes that someone once told him that he "looked like Hoagy Carmichael with a cruel mouth", which is how he was described by Ian Fleming in Casino Royale.
    • In COLD, Bond receives an audio message from his past fling Beatrice di Ricci, which icludes the phrase "I want to win. I don't want lose or die." The phrase references the title of Win, Lose or Die, the novel where she and Bond met.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe:
  • A Hellblazer novel features John going on a ramble about Alternate Universes, and mentioning one where he's a dark-haired American, who nonetheless went through a version of the "Dangerous Habits" arc.
  • Michael A. Stackpole based the Redemption Scenario in Rogue Squadron on an infamous level of the X-Wing PC game.
  • Farnham's Legend, the novelization of X: Beyond the Frontier, has a moment of Self-Deprecation regarding the combat AI's tendency to crash into things (known to X fans as the "auto-pillock").
    Yayandas: We are about to calibrate the newly installed, super-responsive inertial damper. You will never again feel the slightest shake, and never once be torn from your sleep, even if you are rammed head-on by a Xenon.
    Nopileos: Rrrr... do they do that?
    Yayandas: So one hears...
  • The fourth volume of A Song of Ice and Fire mentions several statues of various gods of death in the House of Black and White, including that of Bakkalon, also known as the Pale Child. Fans of the author's other works might recognize this as the name of a deity in his "The Thousand Worlds" setting, in particular the 1975 novelette "...and Seven Times Never Kill Man!"
    • In the North, there is a river called the Fever River, located in the southern swamp area known as the Neck that connects the North to the rest of Westeros. GRRM wrote a book called Fevre note  Dream about vampires in the Deep South.
      • And injured POV characters often have fever dreams induced by their infected wounds.
  • Autobiography of Red has a case that is more literally mythological than most. In the version of his autobiography that Geryon writes in elementary school, he says that he has six arms and six legs, keeps a herd of red cattle, and gets killed by Herakles. None of these things happen in the book's main continuity; they come from the original myth.
  • Kim Newman:
    • In the horror novel Bad Dreams, a composer is shown a vision of a potential future in which he lives a long and happy life but never creates any more great music. One of his hypothetical collateral descendents, an artist in a medium that hasn't been invented yet, has the same name and occupation as the protagonist of Newman's earlier science fiction novel The Night Mayor.
    • In The Night Mayor, there's a minor character named John Yeovil who's pointed out as having achieved critical and financial success, in contrast to the protagonist who's still building up her reputation and is best known for a contribution she made to an IP owned by someone else. When Kim Newman writes contributions to others' IPs, such as his Warhammer novels, he uses the pseudonym "Jack Yeovil" to distinguish it from his creator-owned work.
    • The protagonists of the alternate history novel Anno Dracula meet again for the first time in "Sorcerer Conjurer Wizard Witch", which isn't an alternate history (or at least is clearly not the same alternate history as Anno Dracula). It includes a lot of nods to Anno Dracula, with the two wondering what might have happened if they'd met under other circumstances and a bunch of references to events in Anno Dracula that didn't happen or happened differently in this timeline.
    • Life's Lottery is a novel in the form of a gamebook that lets the reader explore the many alternate paths Keith Marion's life might take. "Cold Snap" is a novella about a group of Differently Powered Individuals trying to save the world — one of whom is named Keith Marion and has the ability to see into alternate timelines. The novella includes specific nods to some of the more memorable timelines featured in Life's Lottery.
  • The Peacock Party, the first sequel to Alan Aldridge's The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast, opens with Sir Percival de Peacock criticising "that terrible theme from the Butterfly Ball". In the accompanying illustration, a string quartet of mice have the sheet music to "Love is All", from The Butterfly Ball Animated Adaptation and Concept Album.
  • Mr Men And The Tooth Fairy opens with Little Miss Curious asking what a tickle looks like, while we see Mr. Tickle's extraordinarily long arm in the background. It's a reference to the very question that prompted the creation of Mr. Tickle in the first place.
  • According to The Muppets Character Encyclopedia, the reason the Gogolala Jubilee Jugband was replaced by Lubbock Lou and his Jughuggers between seasons one and two of The Muppet Show was due to a dispute over putting a hole in a washtub - a reference to a completely unrelated Henson production jugband.
  • Paradise Lost: When he realizes that Eve has Fallen from grace, Adam wonders aloud whether the whole human race is now doomed or whether God will create a second wife for Adam to replace his first, evil wife. The whole idea of God replacing an evil first wife of Adam comes from the medieval folk legend about Lilith, a biblical demon that folklore says is the damned soul of Adam's original partner.
  • B.J, Novak's One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories is a series of otherwise unrelated stories, but occasionally one will turn out to set up another: One story is about "The Girl Who Gave Good Advice", and in another, the main character asks a friend for advice, who turns out to be that same girl. Also, one story is about the main character meeting potential dates by always wearing a bright red t-shirt, then searching for the terms "red shirt" in the "Missed Connections" section of classified ad sites - another story is a long elaborate "missed connection" post, and the very last sentence mentions the subject wearing a red shirt.
  • The tagline for the first Alex Rider book was "Meet Alex Rider, the reluctant teenage spy". This is dropped in context in the ninth book (which was originally intended to be the series' Grand Finale, but a few years later author Anthony Horowitz had a change of heart and decided to write more books).
  • Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Was Not: In "The Locked Cell Murder", Holmes busts up a cult that sounds suspiciously like the one defeated by the teenaged Sherlock Holmes in the movie Young Sherlock Holmes.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: