References, shout-outs, parodies, spoofs, homages,... to Tom Waits.
Film - Animation
- Shrek 2 - Cpt. Hook can be seen playing "Little Drop of Poison" from Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards. Later on, Hook sings Nick Cave's "People Ain't No Good".
- Robots - "Underground" from Swordfishtrombones plays over a creepy factory scene.
Film - Live-Action
- "Soldier's Things" from Swordfishtrombones plays during the last scene of Jarhead.
- "Earth Died Screaming" from Bone Machine is used in Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys to chilling effect.
- Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room featured "What's He Building In There?" from Mule Variations at the beginning and "God's Away on Business" from Blood Money over the end credits.
- "Dead and Lovely" from Real Gone is used at the beginning of Wristcutters: A Love Story
- "All the Word is Green" from Blood Money and "Green Grass" from Real Gone feature in The Diving Bell And The Butterfly.
- Hellboy (2004) - Heartattack and Vine is playing when we first meet the adult HB.
- Fight Club - When they first go into the bar basement, you can hear "Goin' Out West" from Bone Machine playing.
- Romeo Is Bleeding - The title was inspired by the song of the same name from Blue Valentine.
- "Invitation To The Blues" from Small Change is used during the opening credits from Bad Timing.
- Jojo Rabbit uses Bone Machine's "I Don't Want to Grow Up" during the Hitler Youth camp montage.
- The book Sandman Slim has "Alice" from Alice as a song haunting the protagonist (whose murdered girlfriend was named Alice). At one point, his worst enemy makes a jukebox play it just to taunt him.
Live-Action TV Series
- Mystery Science Theater 3000: References to Tom Waits were a Running Gag on this show.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 S 04 E 16 Fire Maidens From Outer Space: Joel quotes "Step Right Up" from Small Change in a sketch.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 S 05 E 16 Alien From LA: Upon Wanda's arrival in Atlantis, Mike and the Bots start singing "Underground" by Tom Waits from his album Swordfishtrombones.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 S09E10 "The Final Sacrifice": When Mike Pipper shows up, Servo quips "I'd like to sing something from Bone Machine".
- The second episode of Bunheads has a ballet piece set to "Picture In A Frame" from Mule Variations
- Homicide: Life on the Street, the drug-themed, proto-Wire episode "Bad Medicine" opens with "Til the Money Runs Out" from Heartattack and Vine and ends with "Cold Cold Ground" from Franks Wild Years
- In an episode of The Walking Dead Beth sings "Hold On" from Mule Variations at the end.
- NCIS- Ziva is singing a Tom Waits song at the beginning of the season six opener. Yes, that is actually Cote de Pablo singing.
- As mentioned above, as the opening song of The Wire, sung by a different person or group for each season (and by himself for season 2).
- Jordon sings "Innocent When You Dream" from Rain Dogs in an episode of Crossing Jordan.
- The first episode of The Punisher (2017) plays the song "Hell Broke Luce" from Bad As Me.
- During a 1974 live concert Frank Zappa namedrops Waits while performing "Stink-Foot": "Get your shoes and socks on, people, it's right around the corner, over by Tom Waits' restaurant." During that time period Waits was opening act for Zappa.
- Muse used a recording of "What's He Building in There?" to open concerts around the Origin of Symmetry era. A snippet of it can be heard on the second disc of Hullabaloo Soundtrack by rewinding from the first track, though not all CD players will support this (ripping the album as a disc image in Exact Audio Copy or X Lossless Decoder, then altering the start of the first index in the resultant .cue sheet will also work). On later versions of Hullabaloo Soundtrack, the "What's He Building in There?" recording is part of the first proper track on the disc, "Dead Star".
- The Museum of Everything: His voice is imitated in this sketch show, where he plays the part of a museum curator.
- Square Root of Minus Garfield: Tom Waitsfield is a take on the opening lines of "The Piano Has Been Drinking".
- Jack (David Hopkins): "God's away on business" plays during the second part of Susan's Run.
- TV Tropes has used quotes by Waits on the following pages:
- Todd in the Shadows: In his Your Love is my Drug review, a snippet of The Piano Has been Drinking from Small Change plays after Todd drunkenly passes out.
- The Simpsons: Tom Waits was "special guest voice" in the episode "Homer Goes to Prep School", where he voiced the character Lloyd rather than play himself.
- Family Guy: A cutaway gag from Seth MacFarlane's Cartoon Cavalcade features Bob Dylan and Tom Waits meeting each other backstage, while Waits introduces Popeye to him. They all get into an argument over Dylan not playing "Blowin' In The Wind", then Muhammad Ali comes in to complain that Dylan didn't play "Hurricane" either. For those wondering what the joke is here: all of them speak in undecipherable voices.