Follow TV Tropes


Useful Notes / Bill Clinton

Go To
"There is no title I will wear more proudly than that of citizen."

"Posterity is the world to come; the world for whom we hold our ideals, from whom we have borrowed our planet, and to whom we bear sacred responsibility. We must do what America does best: offer more opportunity to all and demand responsibility from all."
First Inaugural Address, January 20, 1993

William Jefferson "Bill" Clintonnote  (born August 19, 1946) was the 42nd President of the United States; serving between 1993 and 2001, succeeding George H. W. Bush and preceding George W. Bush.

America's first Democratic president at the time since Jimmy Carter, and the 15th to serve as a member of that party, he was also the first Democrat to serve two terms, having been elected to both, since Franklin D. Roosevelt.note  Plus, he was the first president to be born after World War II, and therefore the first Baby Boomer President;note  only Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy were younger when they first took office. Also, he was the first president to have been educated at a Catholic university (Georgetown).note  The Clinton presidency is best-known for a prosperous economy and for his impeachment by a Republican-controlled Congress. Less known are his efforts to put an end to The Troubles in Northern Ireland in 1995 (though things dragged on for a few years, it was ultimately his intervention that helped to end it).


Contrary to the image of the presidency as an upper-class platform, Clinton came from a background of fierce lower-class struggle. This ended up working to his advantage, as rather than being portrayed as a backwater hick or a repeat of former farmer Carter, it allowed him to craft a populist image that could directly contrast the "dorky old dad" image the elder Bush had developed and appeal more easily across class lines; a campaign speech in which a teary-eyed Clinton stated that "I feel your pain" became emblematic of his image as a president for the people. During his time in office, African-American writer Toni Morrison dubbed him "the first black president" as a result of how effectively Clinton's invocations of his background appealed to and resonated with redlined black voters in particular, with black scholars generally agreeing with the label and its connotations in analyzing Clinton's popularity among black communities. This also led to heightened expectations for the actual first black president, Barack Obama, who had a more upper-class and Bohemian image more in-step with the conventional image of the presidency prior to Clinton (though Obama, like Clinton, successfully maintained heavy popularity among black Americans, aided in part by him constantly staying in-touch with trends and issues relevant to black America rather than falling victim to the classist apathy of black capitalism).


Since leaving office, he has become an acclaimed public speaker and charity organizer. Clinton has had an active post-presidency conducting humanitarian work through the Clinton Foundation and campaigning for Democratic candidates up and down the ticket. Up until 2016 he was widely known to be The Man Behind the Man running the Democratic Party and his campaign work, including a rousing keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention, was widely credited for helping Barack Obama get re-elected in 2012.

Clinton had perhaps the widest range of satirical portrayals of any president. At the beginning his comedic persona was that of a hickish southerner; a "Bubba" who enjoyed too much fast food and was out of his league in Washington. As his presidency went on, parodies increasingly played upon a "Slick Willie" portrayal, a fast-talker in both the situation room and the bedroom, able to invoke Refuge in Audacity to barrel through scandals with his popularity rating remaining high. He is currently largely known in media parody/satire for his playing of the saxophone and perpetually groping his interns thanks to all those sex scandals. Given the masterful use of Weasel Words during the Lewinsky scandal (including the legendary "it depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is"), he also has a reputation of being able to talk his way out of anything.

Despite his sex scandal, he was actually one of the most popular presidents among women, due to a number of policies that were generally acclaimed as feminist. Also, due to her own involvement in politics, Hillary Rodham Clinton has perhaps been the target of more satire than any other First Lady: most of these satires played up her own calculating nature and the notion of a "Faustian Deal" with her husband wherein she would stay with him, no matter how many affairs he might have, in exchange for helping her achieve political power in her own right.

When Hillary ran for the Democratic Party nomination for President in 2008 and became the nominee in 2016, speculation arose in the media as to what title he would hold (First Gentleman, First Dude, First Laddie, among others) if she actually became the next Commander in Chief.

That said, Clinton's power and popularity has dramatically declined over the past few years. Hillary's loss to Donald Trump in the 2016 election severely damaged his reputation as a political operator and saw him lose almost all of the power he used to wield within the Democratic Party. (Ironically, the 2017 book Shattered claims that Bill correctly diagnosed the problems that doomed Hillary's campaign early on but his warnings were ignored and concerns dismissed by campaign chair Robby Mook.) As the Democratic base becomes younger and more populist, more serious scrutiny is being applied to his behavior and his record. Millennials fault his economic policies for helping cause the economic difficulties their generation faces, with longshot challenger Bernie Sanders — a self-identifying socialist in a country where that's been an epithet for decades — attracting a surprising amount of youth support for that reason, and the Democratic base more broadly is soured by how Hillary's decade-long attempt to elevate herself to the White House ended with the far-right rising to power and the Democrats being reduced to minority status at the federal level and in a majority of state governments, forcing the party to scramble to rebuild and reunite under elderly leaders like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi.

In addition, the several allegations of sexual misconduct that were leveled against him during his presidency received far more scrutiny from both the press and his own party in the wake of #MeToo, not only due to the acts involved in the accusations, but also the huge imbalance of power between the president of the United States and the interns who accused him. This led to him not making a single appearance during the 2018 midterm elections, as many Democrats conceded that he's become too controversial to be used in public campaigns. Similarly, he kept a low profile during the 2020 presidential campaign and his diminishment was crystallized by the 2020 Democratic National Convention, where he only spoke for five minutes alongside Jimmy Carter before fading into the background, a dramatic change from the hour-long top-billed speeches Clinton gave at conventions during the 2000s and 2010s. Though to be fair, it may also be due to the fact that it has been over 20 years since he was President, whereas most young voters know him mainly as Hillary Clinton's husband, and that Barack Obama was the most recent Democratic president.

Tropes as portrayed in fiction:

  • Adam Westing: Produced a video about his "lame-duck" period.
  • Big Eater: The common angle comedians took in portraying him pre-Monica Lewinsky, such as how Phil Hartman famously portrayed him in the now-classic "Bill Clinton at McDonald's" Saturday Night Live sketch. The sight of this trope now dates any portrayal that uses it, both because of how he's now commonly portrayed as a Lovable Sex Maniac and how he became a vegetarian (mostly) in his post-presidency.
  • Chubby Chaser: Often painted as this in the media, sometimes overlapping with a fondness for big butts (due to owning an office in Harlem). A lot of comedians and satirists got mileage out of Lewinsky's fuller figure. This trope was revisited in 2013 when a photo of Bill supposedly checking out full-figured singer Kelly Clarkson during Barack Obama's second inauguration got online. For what it's worth, Hillary has never been particularly skinny, either.
  • Controversy-Proof Image: One of the most memorable elements of his presidency and career in general was how no scandal seemed to be able to hurt his popularity. His approval rating actually went up during his impeachment trial and he left office with one of the highest recorded approval ratings of any president. MADtv made fun of this, portraying Clinton as the protagonist of Liar Liar 2 in a memorable sketch. Clinton being forced to come clean about all his scandals and secrets thanks to his newfound complete inability to lie or hide his true feelings ... resulted in him becoming even more popular. However, as noted in the intro, Clinton's luck finally ran out when Hillary lost the 2016 election.
  • Fountain of Expies: For many people, Clinton humanized the presidency and brought a younger, more dynamic energy to it; it's not surprising that fictional presidents became the main character of movies like Air Force One and The American President during his tenure. Both of those movies, not coincidentally, had presidents with a single young daughter, as did Independence Day. The West Wing had a president with three daughters, but the college-aged Zoe, roughly the same age as Chelsea Clinton when the show premiered in 1999, was by far the most prominent.
  • Handsome Lech: As Monica Lewinsky made Lovable Sex Maniac the common trope of Clinton impersonations, many portrayals of Clinton show him surrounded by attractive, young women, or show him chasing them in either successful or unsuccessful attempts to get laid.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: The Lewinsky scandal made it all too easy to use Clinton as the punch line of sex jokes. One example of this is how, with "Mambo No. 5" by Lou Bega becoming one of the biggest hits of 1999, it naturally got tied to the President given it's subject matter, especially considering that the first female name mentioned in the chorus is "Monica". One of the more notable works tying Clinton to the song, the Clinton impersonator-sung parody "Bimbo No. 5", got frequently played by Rush Limbaugh.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is." (This was actually less disingenuous than it sounded: he had originally been trying to clarify a poorly worded question.)
    • "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." (This ... wasn't.)
    • Not inhaling. Although a celebrity who shares his first-name makes a rather retrospectively obvious point about not inhaling, with regard to cannabis.
      Bill Maher: Look at his waistline. He did pot-brownies!
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: In real life, he is almost never referred to as William Clinton.

Appears in the following works:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • As usual, his image is usually the President in most 1990s comics. He specifically spoke at the Funeral of Superman in 1993.
  • Stars as a major character in the limited series Resurrection, in which aliens invade Earth in late May 1998...and occupy Earth for almost 10 years before mysteriously withdrawing in late 2007. Clinton—now a depressed former President—ends up traveling with the main characters across post-invasion America. There are also several flashbacks to the last days of the Clinton administration during the 3-day period where the aliens were first arriving. Since Clinton has legally not been the President since January 20, 2001 and since everyone else in the Presidential line of succession is either missing or dead or so it seems initially and obviously no election was held during the alien occupation, one of the major plot points is the question of who is legally the President and whether or how the government (and many other institutions) will continue in the aftermath of the almost decade-long occupation.
  • Ultimate X-Men states that Clinton was bullied into giving the okay for Bolivar Trask to begin the Sentinel Initiative project. It wasn't until Bush's administration (in-universe) that they were actually activated, however, and Bush was a lot less bothered by them.
  • In The Authority, Jack Hawksmoor takes a call from Clinton, since Swift, the only other team member available, doesn't think the President would want to talk to her. Jack assumes this is because Swift once kicked Clinton in the nuts when he made an unwelcome advance.

    Films — Animated 
  • Was the President in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Sheila Broflovsky forces him to declare war against Canada.
  • Appeared towards the end of Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, personally congratulating the duo from (unwittingly) saving Washington from a bioterrorist attack and naming them honorary FDA agents. On an earlier scene, Butt-head runs into Chelsea in her bedroom and tries to score with her. He gets defenestrated for his trouble.
  • In Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Peabody recieves a triplicate presidential pardon from George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Bill Clinton, who adds "I've done worse!"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Beverly Hillbillies '93 movie, it's implied he's actually related to the Clampetts. They were all from Arkansas, you see.
  • The plot of 2001: A Space Travesty revolves around rescuing Bill Clinton and his saxophone from alien kidnappers.
  • In the film The Special Relationship (broadcast on HBO in 2010), he's played by Dennis Quaid. The film is about the relationship between him and Tony Blair.
  • He was digitally edited into the White House scenes in Contact. There was controversy over this at the time, as the White House had not authorized the filmmakers to use the footage of the president.
  • Chancellor Valorum from The Phantom Menace was inspired by George Lucas' view of him at the time: a well-meaning leader unable to assert any control over his legislative branch.
  • Stock footage of Clinton is used in the opening sequence of The Siege.
  • A thinly-veiled depiction of Clinton is one of Mathilda Lando's targets for her first mock assassination session in The Professional.


    Live Action TV 
  • Saturday Night Live originally cast Phil Hartman as a folksy, oblivious President Clinton who was eternally cheating on his diet, particularly in a sketch featuring Clinton stopping at a McDonald's and eating everybody's food. Darrell Hammond took over following Hartman's departure from the show; the skits became widely popular, catapulting Hammond from B-List status and rivaling even Dana Carvey's memorable turn as George H. W. Bush. Clinton 2.0 was more of a Memetic Badass and Pornomancer. Witness his response to being acquitted:
    "I. Am. Bullet-proof. Next time, ya'll better bring some Kryptonite."
  • Conan O'Brien had "Clinton" on as a regular guest, voiced by Robert Smigel (the madman behind SNL's TV Funhouse). This particular Clinton's hormones were jacked Up to Eleven, as were his redneck mannerisms. (See also his Tv Funhouse entry below)
  • Clinton's most famous television appearance was on The Arsenio Hall Show, where he performed with his much-parodied saxophone.
  • He was regularly referenced in the TV Series Designing Women, which is notable as most of the series aired when he was still the relatively-unknown Governor of Arkansas. Charlene Frazier is an ex-employee of his who sometimes uses her connection to him to call in favors, which is Hilarious in Hindsight given what we now know about him. One 1993 episode revolves around Juila Sugerbaker trying to travel to DC to attend his inauguration.
  • He appears as a guest saxophonist in the New Labour Rock Band on Bang Bang It's Reeves And Mortimer.
  • A Rory Bremner special from 2000 had Clinton planning to go into space and seek out alien life forms after his term was up, and took Tony Blair with him. Like a lot of British satire from this period, it emphasized the idea that Clinton and Blair were best friends forever — which of course is Hilarious in Hindsight given Blair's later relationship with George W. Bush.
  • One episode of Quantum Leap featured a moment when Sam was about to go on stage at an "amateur hour" talent show — and the act he was following was sax player "Little Billy C from Hope, Arkansas" complete with dark suit and shades.
  • Another Ersatz version in Sunset Beach, Aaron Spelling's stab at the daytime block. Sara Cummings is introduced as an ex-paramour of "Bob Blythe", womanizing Congressman. She turns up wearing the trademark Lewinski beret/dress combonote  and trying to hide from the paparazzi, led by the wiretapper Miranda Fall (Tripp) and Prosecutor Kendell Moon (Starr). These are thinner, attractive versions of the originals, mind.
  • When the Presidential Wax Museum in Gettysburg shut down and auctioned off its figures, his was one of five purchased by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, described as looking more like the above-mentioned Travolta.


     Video Games 
    • He appears at the end of Cruis'n World, too, having been abducted by aliens.
  • He's a secret character in NBA Jam. Really.
    • Parodied in an April Fools edition of GamePro ("LamePro"), which touted Hillary and Rush Limbaugh as additional hidden characters. Became an Ascended Meme when Hillary really was made a secret character in the Tournament Edition update.
  • His cat, Socks, almost had his own game for the Super Nintendo, but was canceled last minute when the developer went bankrupt.
  • The unnamed president in Jungle Strike clearly resembles him.
  • The president and his family in Silent Scope closely resemble Hillary, Chelsea, and himself. Not to mention that the penultimate boss who's holding the president captive is named Monica.
  • He (referred to only as "Mr. President") is a selectable character in Ready 2 Rumble Boxing Round 2, as is Hillary (who, conversely, is only referred to as "The First Lady")
  • Obliquely referenced in the original Grand Theft Auto title. In an optional mission, the First Lady is said to be touring the Vice City hospital which Deever, the cartoonishly evil ex-cop, instructs you to blow up. His motive? Well, she didn't answer his fan mail. In another mission, the Rastafarians dispatch you to attack a "Babylonian" army that turns out to be the presidential motorcade (good luck surviving this mission; it is impossible).

  • In keeping with its animal metaphors, he's said in Kevin & Kell to be a rabbit. Ken Starr? A wolf. The title couple have a chuckle over the idea.
  • The Lewinsky scandal makes a few appearances in Ozy and Millie; Millie tries using the Starr report as an excuse for colourful metaphors in a report, and she ends up getting a lecture from her mother about media glut when she uses 'Lewinsky' to inspire a spit-take. (Ozy tries this on his father, but has to rely on "Teapot Dome".)
  • Mentioned in Ansem Retort, after Zexion revealed part of the reason he slept with the Jail Bait Namine was to get into Clinton's Sex Scandal Poker Game. Namine is surprised that Bill Clinton runs such a game. Then Zex reveals he's not talking about Bill Clinton...

    Web Original 
  • In Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72, an Alternate History scenario about a different 1972 election, both Bill and Hillary appear as Young Future Famous People, being legal interns during the impeachment of President Spiro Agnew. Later, Bill Clinton serves as a military attorney in Syria with the rank of captain, and is involved in a battle with insurgents, along with Lt. David Petraeus and Private Bruce Willis. His experiences there encourage him to successfully run for a Republican. He becomes a leading figure of anti-Rumsfeld Republicans, and leaves Congress and goes underground after he fails to prevent a fundamentalist from being nominated to the Vice Presidency.
  • In the early days of The Salvation War, The Legions of Hell tried to seduce Bill with an illusion-generating succubus. He promptly saw right through her and killed the monster with a shotgun, claiming that he could identify soul-sucking demons due to being with Hillary for so long.
  • In Rejection And Revenge: The premise of this story is Osama Bin Laden detonating three nukes in Lower Manhattan, Las Vegas, and Century City, on February 11, 1993. Entering his first term desiring the fix the economy, he finds himself drawn into a war kicking and screaming, seeking the advice of Richard Nixon and George HW Bush and after an Al-Qaeda operative who was caught trying to blow up Tel Aviv fingers Hezbollah, he drops nukes on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. It only gets worse from there.
  • The Onion ran an issue in the aftermath of the 2000 elections and recount depicting civil war in Florida and beyond, with Clinton declaring himself President For Life.

    Western Animation 
  • He managed to make at least one appearance in all of the Looney Tunes Expanded Universe shows in the 1990s, including Tiny Toon Adventures (in the Spring Break special), Animaniacs (the original version of the theme included a throwaway line about Bill playing the sax, complete with animation of him doing it), Pinky and the Brain (claiming to be the world's leader when some visiting aliens request to see said person), Freakazoid!! ("Can you tell me who's flying the plane?"), Road Rovers (where he was Hunter's owner), and Histeria! (where he starred in a parody of The Beverly Hillbillies theme and got tricked into admitting he's a liar).
  • He also made a second appearance in Animaniacs (with did all the presidents up to him), and two more in Pinky and the Brain one in the 1996 campaign, he loses to Pinky); the other as a Head In A Jar still serving as President, 22nd Amendment be damned. (Hillary's there, too, and still doing some of his job functions.) He also appeared in "The Pinky Protocol", where Brain tricked Gerald Ford into signing a document (the eponymous protocol) which Brain passed as something signed and filed back when Ford was the President. According to that document, if any President is caught on underwear in public, said President would be impeached and Brain, as "Harold Foster Brain", would become the new ruler of the United States. Bill's shorts from his daily exercises counted.
  • The appearance in Freakazoid! where he asks who's flying the plane is actually his second appearance; his first was at Freakazoid's side when aliens landed on Earth. (The first one was really dumb, the second one only cared about Barbie.)
  • Clinton appeared on TV Funhouse's The X-Presidents as a wannabe recruit. The other Presidents regard him a something of a freak; his 'crime-fighting' gadgets suspiciously resemble sex toys.
  • Family Guy portrays him as a Lovable Sex Maniac who frequently gets naked. And he slept with Lois and Peter.
  • He was portrayed on The Simpsons more than once.
    • In "Weekend at Burnsie's", he was the speaker at an event before Mr. Burns.
    Homer: Bill Clinton, everybody! He's Jimmy Carter with a Fox attitude!
    • In "Homer to the Max", Clinton dances with Marge at a garden party.
    Clinton: [to Marge] Well, I gotta go, but... look, if you're ever near the White House, there's a tool shed out back. I'm in there most of the day.
    • In "Saddlesore Galactica", Lisa gets outraged at how the winning school band of Ogdenville Elementary used glow sticks in their performance, even though the use of visual aids was forbidden. She writes a letter to Clinton, hoping that as a fellow saxophonist, he'd sympathize with her, and in the end, Clinton has the result overturned.
    Lisa: (receiving trophy) Wow, thank you, Mr. President.
    Clinton: No, thank you, Lisa, for teaching kids everywhere a valuable lesson: If things don't go your way, just keep complaining until your dreams come true.
    • In "Bart Gets an Elephant", Clinton is marching in Springfield playing the sax, much to the frustration of Moe.
    Moe: Hey Clinton! Get back to work!
    Clinton: Make me.
    (continues playing)
    • In "Large Marge", he was seen with Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush building domiciles for the destitutes. Their interaction was like The Three Stooges featuring Clinton as Curly, Carter as Larry, and Bush as Moe.
    • Also, in "E Pluribus Wiggum", he was in Springfield posting signs for his wife's campaign. When she told him over the phone he needed to put 25 more signs, he asked what he did to deserve that. She told him he knew what he did and he complained she'd never let him live it down.
    • In "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday", he calls the winning team from the Super Bowl, but Homer answers it instead, though Clinton gets interrupted by Al Gore, who's taking measurements of the Oval Office.
    • In the "Treehouse of Horror VII" segment "Citizen Kang", Clinton and Bob Dole (his rival candidate from the 1996 election) get kidnapped and replaced by Kang and Kodos.
  • Cartman's mom slept with him on South Park to get herself the right to "abort" Eric, (she confused it with adoption).
  • Clinton also appeared in an episode of Beavis and Butt-Head while visiting Highland High answering questions and McVicker tries to keep the titular characters away by giving them an out of school pass and fifty dollars.
  • The Critic:
    • Duke has his own theme park, dubbed "Phillipsland". At the Hall of Presidents, Clinton is replaced with one of the drunken animatronic bears from the Country Bear Jamboree. Nobody seems to notice.
    • In the fictitious Forrest Gump sequel Forrest Gump 2: Gump Harder, Forrest meets Clinton, introducing himself as the founder of Bubba Gump Shrimp, leading Clinton to list all the ways he likes shrimp, which lasts into the evening.
    Forrest: You sure like shrimp, Mr. President.
  • Clinton's disembodied head is kept alive in a jar, along with the rest of the presidents in Futurama. He appears in the episode "A Head in the Polls", and hits on Leela.
  • Appears three times on Celebrity Deathmatch.
  • A skit on Robot Chicken had Clinton cut off George W. Bush for a McDonald's parking space, exclaiming that he was having a "Big Mac attack", to which Bush uses Jedi powers to toss Clinton and his car into a pool.
  • On Arthur, D.W. accidentally gets separated from the Reads' White House tour group on a family trip to Washington and runs into an unnamed Funny Animal President who bears a strong resemblance to Clinton in both appearance and voice (and habits—he gets a pizza to share with D.W. while waiting for her parents to pick her up).
  • A caricature of Clinton appears as the president in an early episode of The Fairly OddParents, with the anti-fairies causing him to spill salt and launch a nuclear missile. Clinton was actually out of office by the time the episode airs.
  • The Mexican dub of I Am Weasel managed to sneak a refference to his scandal in the episode "Honey I Are Home"
    I.M. Weasel: "I fixed the Fobaproa crisis, changed the model of the Popemobile and cleaned Moni's stained dress.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: