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Referenced By / David Bowie

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A list of references, shout-outs, homages, parodies,... to David Bowie. For references to his role as Jareth the Goblin King see Labyrinth.

Anime and Manga

  • In the third episode of Cowboy Bebop, Spike and Jet visit a space casino that is, according to several signs posted around, named "Spiders from Mars".
  • While it's not explicitly stated, Yoshikage Kira of Diamond is Unbreakable is clearly designed after Bowie as he appeared during his "Serious Moonlight" tour.
    • Later in Steel Ball Run, one of the stands is named Scary Monsters.

Audio Play


Comic Books

  • In the Doctor Who (Titan) comics, the Eleventh Doctor's companion John Jones is a blatant No Celebrities Were Harmed for Bowie. As well as sharing Bowie's real surname, he is an unsuccessful sixties blues musician who is fated to become famed as "Xavi Moonburst" and "The Tall Pale Earl", and much of his dialogue consists of direct quotations or parodies of Bowie lyrics.
    • Cover A (the newsstand cover) of The Twelfth Doctor Issue 2.9 is a parody of the cover of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: The Doctor and the TARDIS take the places of Bowie and the red phone box, and the name of the street is changed from K. West to C. Oswald, the latter referring to this Doctor's first companion. Earlier in 2016, an alternate Twelfth Doctor cover was a spoof of the "Heroes" cover, with the Doctor again replacing Bowie. (The art for this cover was revealed prior to Bowie's death. Incidentally, Twelve's actor, Peter Capaldi, said in an interview that Bowie would be his dream guest star for Doctor Who shortly before the latter's passing.)


  • Any Way the Wind Blows: Two characters have a conversation of how Bowie's output in the 1980s was far better than most people want you to believe.
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  • Control: Ian Curtis listens to "The Jean Genie" on his radio.
  • Hunky Dory is named after Bowie's album, and during the finale, Davy (who wears make-up to appear more androgynous) and Stella sing "Life on Mars?" for their school's play/musical.
  • In Velvet Goldmine, Brian Slade is a clear fictionalisation of Bowie. He is a bisexual seventies glam rock star who rises to fame in the stage persona of pansexual alien "Maxwell Demon", and fakes his own death on stage before returning to fame in the eighties under a new identity as a cheesy stadium rock star (a reference to the sense of betrayal felt by many seventies Bowie fans during his mass-market-light-entertainment "Let's Dance" era).
  • Bowie appears in the credits montage of Watchmen when Ozymandias visits Studio 54.

Literature - Fiction

  • Eric Idle's 1999 novel The Road to Mars takes place in a future where a Ridiculously Human Robot of choice is the BowieBot android. Carlton, one of the 4.5 models — looking like Bowie in his Let's Dance days — serves as a secretary to the heroes (a comedy team) and has the book's primary subplot, in which it explores the concept/history of humor and whether an artificial intelligence can ever acquire a sense of it. (This book started as an unproduced screenplay; Idle is a friend of Bowie's and wrote the concept/part for him to play.)
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  • In Trainspotting, Mark Renton is a big fan, noting that he owns every album of his. One chapter is even called "Station to Station". In the film, Diane has a poster of him on her wall. In fact, she was supposed to sing "Golden Years" in the shower, but they went with "Temptation" by New Order.

Literature - Non Fiction

  • Christiane F.: Christiane F. mentioned she went to a Bowie concert. This is dramatized in the film adaptation, with Bowie appearing as himself.

Live-Action TV Series

  • Spitting Image: He was one of the many British celebrities made into a puppet by this show. One sketch had him and Mick Jagger sing and dance together in a parody of the music video of "Dancing in The Street". Then suddenly vicar Ian Paisley interrupts and claims it's time for "shouting in the street", causing the entire background to collapse. The Bowie puppet also appeared in a spoof of Absolute Beginners.
  • Saturday Night Live's eleventh season poked fun at the "Dancing in the Street" video via a Dennis Miller "Weekend Update" commentary.
  • The Sifl and Olly Show claims the Great Pyramids of Egypt were built in anticipation of Bowie's arrival.
  • Life on Mars (2006) as well as Ashes to Ashes (2008) were named after Bowie songs and prominently featured them. The latter even had a Monster Clown resembling Bowie's Pierrot turn up.
  • Jimmy Fallon has an impersonation of Bowie in his repertoire and has used it on several occasions.
    • In Saturday Night Live skits in the late 1990s he poked fun at his NetAid appearance and his "Peace on Earth (Little Drummer Boy)" duet with Bing Crosby.
    • When openly-Christian American football player Tim Tebow was making sports headlines in 2012-13, Fallon opened several episodes of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon as "Tebowie", who dressed like a football-themed Ziggy Stardust and sang parodies of songs like "Space Oddity" and "Ziggy Stardust" to follow Tebow's Real Life rise and fall in the NFL. The "Space Oddity" spoof was released as a vinyl single for Record Store Day 2012 and later appeared on Fallon's album Blow Your Pants Off.
  • Classic Albums: One episode was devoted to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
  • The Young Ones: In the episode "Nasty" the young ones conduct a funeral ceremony. As the vicar says "ashes to ashes" Rick sings "Funk to funky, we know Major Tom's a junkie", in references to "Ashes To Ashes" from Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps).
  • In the Doctor Who special "The Waters of Mars", the action takes place at Bowie Base One.
    • The Twelfth Doctor's initial look was based on Bowie.
  • Two recurring villains in Fringe are named in honour of him or characters he played. One is given his birth name, David Robert Jones, and the other is given the name of his character in The Man Who Fell to Earth, Thomas Jerome Newton. (Note that both of these characters are always referred to by Full-Name Basis, with all three names given).


  • Murdoc from Gorillaz has Mismatched Eyes, in reference to Bowie's eyesnote .
  • The Title Track of The Man Who Sold the World was covered by Nirvana and can be heard on MTV Unplugged in New York.
  • Frank Zappa made a stab at the music video of Let's Dance in his song "Be My Video" from Them or Us (1984).
    Let's dance the blues (oh yes) let's dance the blues (we'll dance them very much) let's dance the blues (sure we will) under the megawatt moonlight.
  • In Flight of the Conchords he is a sort of Gandalf-figure (portrayed, sadly, not by the man himself) who appears to Bret in three dreams, each time in the guise of a different character: Ziggy Stardust, the Pierrot of "Ashes to Ashes", and Jareth. The fun continues in the song "Bowie".
  • The 1977 EP Bowi by Nick Lowe was a Pun-Based Title on the Bowie album Low. Lowe did this because Low seemed a pun on his name, without the final letter "e". So he did the same with Bowie's name.
  • Joy Division initially called themselves "Warsawa", after the Bowie song.
  • Philip Glass based both his "1st Symphony "Low"" (1992) and "4th Symphony "Heroes"" (1996) on the Bowie albums of the same name. Even the indidivual movements of those compositions are named after songs from these albums.
  • Eddie And The Hot Rods based their song "Always Crashing In The Same Bar" on Bowie's "Always Crashing In The Same Car".
  • "Car Thief" from Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique has the line
    You be doing nose candy on the Bowie coke mirror
  • The punk band Crass was named after the line "the kids were just crass" from the song "Ziggy Stardust" from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers: In the music video of "Dani California" from Stadium Arcadium the band dresses up as several rock bands, representing different music genres. At one point Flea dresses up like Ziggy Stardust.
  • The final track on Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, "Vampire Money", by My Chemical Romance has the line "sparkle like Bowie in the morning sun" serving as a Shout-Out to Bowie's famous liberal use of glitter during his Glam period and also a Take That! to a certain franchise's depiction of bloodsuckers.


  • Starmania: The character Ziggy in this Rock Opera is an obsessive Bowie fan, whose name is obviously a shout-out to Ziggy Stardust.

Video Games

  • Bowie's music, naturally, appears in several Rhythm Games:
    • The first Guitar Hero has a cover of "Ziggy Stardust" as a mid-tier difficulty song. Guitar Hero 5 has both "Fame" and then "Under Pressure" as an encore song. "Fame" is notably the only song in the game to have a unique challenge: as a singer, the player must hit all of the descending "Fame"'s near the end of the song.
    • The first DJ Hero has "Let's Dance", used for two mash-ups: one with 50 Cent's "Disco Inferno" and another with Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine".
    • Rock Band 1 contains "Suffragette City" and 3 has "Space Oddity". Most notably, the LEGO spinoff not only has "Let's Dance" on the setlist, but even features a LEGO version of Bowie himself performing the song. As for DLC, his songs include: "Queen Bitch" and "'Heroes'" (both covers), "Moonage Daydream", "Modern Love", "Blue Jean", "Ziggy Stardust", "Young Americans", "Fame", and "Under Pressure".
  • Hideo Kojima loves David Bowie, which is heavily reflected in his Metal Gear series:
    • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, one of the first lines protagonist Snake says on the radio to his commanding officer is "Can you hear me, Major Tom?". Space Oddity was intended to be the credits theme when the plot of the game had a larger emphasis on space travel.
    • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain stars Snake's new PMC, Diamond Dogs, and the game's Abandoned Hospital Awakening opening is practically a Whole Plot Reference to the lyrics of the song. Originally, the game was even intended to open to "Diamond Dogs", but the final product instead uses a Midge Ure cover of another Bowie song, "The Man Who Sold the World". Another reference comes with the year the game takes place - 1984, which, besides the obvious Orwellian reference, was the closing track to the Diamond Dogs album.
  • Considering the myriad of other musical references in EarthBound, the Starmen are likely a nod to the Bowie song "Starman". What's almost definitely a reference is the second form of the Carbon Dog boss: the Diamond Dog.
  • The title of Space Invaders may be a reference to the opening lines in "Moonage Daydream":
    "I'm an alligator
    I'm a mama-papa coming for you
    I'm a space invader
    I'll be a rock and rollin' bitch for you."
  • Shin Megami Tensei's Louis Cyphre looks remarkably like David Bowie, right down to the mismatched eyes.
  • Bowie was the main inspiration for the design of Albert Wesker of the Resident Evil series.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's Blood and Wine expansion has a sidequest named "Turn and Face the Strange", named after a lyric from the song "Changes".

Web Animation

Web Original

  • JewWario: He enjoyed dressing up as Bowie in Labyrinth, the most prominent example of this being a You Can Play This episode that covered the Japan-only NES game based on the movie. He did it again in Suburban Knights and Brows Held High 's review of The Man Who Fell to Earth (see also below).
  • The Nostalgia Chick: She reviewed Labyrinth and expressed her hot feelings for Bowie in his tights.
  • Brows Held High: Oancitizen's review of The Man Who Fell to Earth is one huge shout-out to Bowie. He put his entire review to rhyme and sang it to the melodies of various famous Bowie songs, including "Space Oddity", "Ziggy Stardust", "Fame", "As The World Falls Down", "The Man Who Sold The World", "Suffragette City", "Magic Dance" (from Labyrinth), "Life On Mars", "Starman", "Changes", "Let's Dance", "Ashes To Ashes" and "Heroes". He also mimicked some of the imagery from Bowie's music videos.
  • On Naruto: The Abridged Comedy Fandub Spoof Series Show, he's an indestructible ninja with a habit of breaking into song and insisting that he's not David Bowie.
  • One member of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog's Evil League Of Evil is called Dead Bowie, but it's not clear whether he's meant to be the man himself or just a themed villain.
  • In the RiffTrax of Hawk the Slayer, a cheesy turn-of-the-'80s sword-and-sorcery film, the heroes venture through a spooky forest and Mike warns "They'd better cheese it before David Bowie starts waving his codpiece around!"

Western Animation


Example of: