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Referenced By / Nineteen Eighty-Four

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Since this is THE book that influenced every Dystopia from its publication onwards, coined several famous tropes and phrases and pops up regularly in everyday conversation, there's bound to be a lot of references to it.

Anime & Manga

  • Code Geass has three global superpowers: the Holy Britannian Empire holds the Americas and some of Africa, the EU which is most of Europe except for Eastern Europe, and the Chinese Federation which encompasses East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Except for the facts that the EU controls the British Isles and that Japan & Russia are vassal states of Britannia, these mirror Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia almost perfectly.
  • Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045. Takashi Shimamura is obsessed with the book before he became a Post Human. It was given to him by the Crazy Survivalist ex-paratrooper who saved his life, who told him it was a sign of what was going to happen to the country. The Internet Counterattack app Takashi develops is called Think Pol after the Thought Police.

Comic Books

Fan Works

Films - Live Action
  • Cube: As David Worth is explaining to the group that the Cube is not part of some evil scheme or government conspiracy, he tells them, "Big Brother is not watching you."

Film — Live-Action

  • Brazil is directly inspired by 1984; though Terry Gilliam admitted that he hadn't actually read the book and simply incorporated what he knew from hearsay, the setting and basic plot of the film is very close to that of the Orwell novel.
  • The Nam June Paik art film Good Morning, Mr. Orwell was created as a direct rebuttal towards 1984, making fun of how outdated the book's predictions of the year became once humanity actually got around to it.


  • The last paragraph of Good Omens starts "If you want to see the future, imagine a boot..." before shifting to something more optimistic.
  • In Eye of a Fly, Ernest's dad refuses to sign his A-6 form because "Once Big Brother gets your name in the files, your life is over."
  • Kea's Flight: When Kea is forced to watch a re-ed video about how staff members are always watching and listening "to make sure you're okay," a hacker adds subtitles that say, "Big Brother is watching you, and he's badly drawn."

Live-Action TV

  • Big Brother and Room 101 are titled after plot points in the book.
  • The opening shot of the Doctor Who story "The Sun Makers" is an exact copy of the opening shot of Winston Smith in the BBC adaptation of the book.
  • "The Lying Detective" in Sherlock's fourth series has one of Sherlock's clients tease that Big Brother Is Watching when the two of them are out on a walk and drones appear to be following them around. This is funny given that Sherlock's big brother, Mycroft, actually is watching him, as he basically controls the British government.
    Sherlock: You have no idea.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation two-parter "Chain of Command," Picard is captured and tortured by the Cardassians. His captor eventually moves to the 1984 phase of torture by asking how many lights there are. There are four lights, but Picard is tortured when he doesn't say there are five. After he's released, he confides in Troi that, had he not been released right at that moment, not only would he have said anything to make the torture stop, but he actually could see five lights.


  • David Bowie:
    • The 1980 Floor Show, a made-for-TV concert that marked the last appearance of Ziggy Stardust, was titled as a play on 1984.
    • Diamond Dogs is based off of an abandoned musical of 1984, with three songs ("We Are the Dead", "1984", "Big Brother") being titled after and directly referencing the Orwell novel.
  • Peter Gabriel characterized "Panopticom" as a direct counterpoint to 1984, describing it as "Little Sister" staring back at Big Brother via a massive network of freely available information.
  • Oingo Boingo's "Wake Up (It's 1984)", featured in Good Morning, Mr. Orwell, was inspired by the novel.
  • Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricota has "Divina TV Führer", is a musical retelling of the book in 3:01.
  • The opening track on Radiohead's Hail to the Thief is called "2+2=5", tying in with the album's focus on the resurgence of authoritarianism in the 21st century.
  • Rick Wakeman's 1984 is a Concept Album directly based on the novel.
  • During Roger Waters' 2010-2012 tour of The Wall, performances of "Mother" were accompanied by a projection of "Big Brother is Watching" graffiti, with "Brother" crossed out in favor of "Mother."

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40,000 is pretty much what happens when someone took 1984, mixed it with the original Warhammer, mashed it together with 300 and gave it a Star Wars-like setting, then injected a vast number elements of Doom and finally and most importantly, took the bleakness of the book and cranked it up to eleven. The end result is something coming as close as this, starting from the Big Brother-like figure that is the Emperor of Mankind, to the endless wars between the three factions that are the Imperium of Man, the Forces of Chaos and the Xenos Races, to the superstate that the Imperium really is by comprising the vast majority of the universe, and much, MUCH more. In fact, there's so much of this that it actually makes the novel seem incredibly tame.

Video Games

  • In Borderlands 2, there are a lot more references to the book. For example, Helios was deliberately built to keep constant surveillance on the entire planet, and, like the rocket bombs, send down moonshots to destroy cities or armies of bandits. The Hyperion Corporation is practically a corporate version of Ingsoc- they have Handsome Jack's face plastered across posters, and his workers/soldiers/robots are encouraged to worship him as a god. They also have a propaganda DJ who spouts lies about the Vault Hunters every day. And Handsome Jack, like Big Brother, is an all-powerful, omnipotent dictator who rarely physically appears and mostly speaks through ECHO logs or, in one story mission, giant TV screens and has no qualms about torturing people to death, regularly threatening that he will do so if the Vault Hunters do not surrender.
    • Perhaps the biggest reference of all is the city of Opportunity, a shining, glittering Airstrip One that is just as bad as the novel's city. One of the districts features a museum where the events of the first game have been rewritten by Hyperion, giving all the credit to him for defeating the Crimson Lance, opening the Vault and killing the Destroyer. There are actual surveillance cameras throughout the map, massive bronze statues of Jack in every district (that you can destroy in a sidequest) and at one point, he outright encourages children to love him more than their parents.
Web Original
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-2884 is a phenomenon taking place in the United Kingdom. SCP-2884-1 are CCTV cameras functioning without any visible power source appearing in developed areas with high crime rates. SCP-2884-2 are humanoid entities giving out disproportionate retributions, appearing when an SCP-2884-1 observers a "criminal" act. It is implied an entity known as the "Overseer" is everywhere and watches everything, wile making up "laws". The foundation's task force mobilized to deal with them is codenamed as "Big Brother".
Western Animation
  • Futurama: In "Future Stock", "That Guy", a Gordon Gekko-esque businessman who froze himself in the 1980s, attempts to change Planet Express's image. One of the ways is by producing an ad directly parodying the 1984 ad with Mom in place of Big Brother and a package in place of the javelin. When the package destroys the screen, one of the audience members says, "Hey, I was watching that!"


  • HUNT the TRUTH, part of the marketing campaign for Halo 5: Guardians, was basically about how ONI tried to get Benjamin Giraud to produce a Propaganda Machine biography of the Master Chief. However, once Ben did more and more investigating, he found out the horrifying truth about the Spartan Program and turned against ONI. Soon, Ben became a Conspiracy Theorist and went on the run while trying to reveal the extent of ONI's atrocities, as chaos broke across the galaxy and ONI's actions became more omnipotent and threatening. And like the book, he loses, but Petra takes up his sword in revenge, promising to finish his work.
  • In 1984, Apple created its famous Super Bowl commercial with the slogan, "Why 1984 won't be like 1984", complete with the athlete being chased by armed policemen and a screen showing Big Brother and men dressed in blue overalls, similar to Winston and other Party members.