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Referenced By / 1984

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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.
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  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. 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

  • One of the members of Captain Britain's Alliance of Alternates is Captain Airstrip One, who talks entirely in incomprehensible Newspeak. Last seen when O'Brien told him to imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever, and he obediently spent the rest of his life doing so.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the events of 1984 took place around the time Orwell was writing. Big Brother is Harry Wharton from Greyfriars.

Fan Works



  • 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.
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  • 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.


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.

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.

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