Marty McFly: Ronald Reagan.
Doc: Ronald Reagan? The actor?! Then who's Vice-President, Jerry Lewis?
Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 — June 5, 2004) was the 40th President of the United States, serving from 1981 to 1989. He was the sixteenth from the Republican Party, serving between Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush. Reagan is well-known for restructuring the USA's political economy to allow the wealthy keep more of the money they had earned (under the theory that high taxation stymied economic growth). and working together with Mikhail Gorbachev to end the Cold War. He also was the last President to be in office during a war in which the United States officially declared itself to be neutral: namely the Falklands Conflict between the United Kingdom and Argentina.
Yes, he's the first actor to become President. However, many of the jokes about that don't work very well, since, when his political career commenced in 1966, he was only the "former actor who's running for Governor of California". After he vacated that office, he became known as the "former two-term Republican Governor of California who's running for President." People today will more likely know Reagan for his Presidency in The '80s; that said, his former acting career was and still is a big point of notoriety, to the point where it arguably created the "President Celebrity" archetype that continues to permeate popular culture to this day (even though Reagan was a B-lister during his acting career; it wouldn't be until the election of Donald Trump in 2016 that an actual media celebrity would be put into the Oval Office).
More simply, the entire leadership of the USA's Republican Party worships him, most of the Democrats' leadership approve of his economic policies and admire his ability to extract concessions from an opposition party that was still mildly in favor of The New Deal (his presidency was the last where the heavily Democratic GI Generation who grew up during the Depression/ New Deal Era was a significant portion of the Congress/ Electorate), and a small minority of the Democrats' leadership (Elizabeth Warren, etc) assert that while the fractures which threaten to tear American society apart did not begin under Reagan his Presidency was when the wealth gap and corrosive influence of wealth upon politics began to worsen exponentially.
Many Democrats do think fondly of him, and are known as "Blue Dogs" or "Reagan Democrats". Supporters praise him for getting the USA out of the "Stagflation" crisis of the 1970s that was triggered by the 1973 Oil Crisis and worsened by a gross misinterpretation of Keynesian Economics (politicians ignored expert advice and increased government spending when they should have been cutting it), making the USA's military a close second to the USSR's in conventional armaments, a close second to the Soviets in nuclear weapon numbers (40,000 to 30,000) but with a far superior 'first'/'decapitation' strike capability, negotiating an end to the Cold War, cutting government support for single parents and the unemployed, and his economic policies which heavily favored the expansion of the financial sector and an increase in the nominal/paper value of the country's GDP ("Reaganomics" as it was called) by creating the Savings-and-Loan bubble which burst in '86-'89.
Detractors cite the increased dependence upon and vulnerability of the economy to an increasingly unstable financial sector, the growing impoverishment of the poor, the growing wealth of the ultra-rich via the extraction of wealth from the poor, the inarguably ineffective and debatably doomed-to-fail "War On Drugs" which again disproportionately affected the poor, the 191 percent increase in the national debt, his union-busting (specifically his handling of the PATCO air traffic controllers strike), the slow response (for whatever reason) to the AIDS epidemic, his support for Islamic fundamentalist militants (to counter Communism e.g. Al-Qaida's precessors, the Mujahedeen, in Afghanistan), and his nearly triggering the virtual extinction of our species during Able Archer.
The universally acknowledged problem of his administration was massive corruption. While not necessarily from the man himself, his "hands off" style of leadership led to his officials committing federal offenses without check. Various scandals from his administration led to the investigation, indictment, or conviction of over 138 officials, the most for any US president. The most infamous one was the "Iran-Contra" affair, where military officials sold weapons to Iran in exchange for the release hostages in Lebanon, plus money to fund the Contras, an anti-Communist guerilla group in Nicaragua that was revealed to have committed human rights violations. All of that despite explicit congressional bans on any funding going to the Contras and an embargo against Iran that is still in place today. Though the political fallout from Iran-Contra was not particularly long-lived, especially after half a dozen of those implicated were pardoned by George H. W. Bush, two associated events left a mark on American popular culture: Lt. Col. Oliver North of the National Security Council shredding so many documents that the paper shredder broke down, and the coincidental release of an Arcade Game titled Contra. In 2019, a phone conversation between (then Governor of California) Reagan and President Nixon surfaced, where Reagan described African delegates at the UN "monkeys" who barely looked comfortable wearing shoes, an indication that Reagan in private may have held racist views towards non-white people.
Outside of the US, he is seen as a doofus in Germany due to his former career as a B-movie actor, as a Saint in much of the former East Bloc for his - supposed or real - role in bringing down the USSR and as a villain in Nicaragua and some other parts of Central America due to his role in Iran Contra.
If you see someone in a film or TV show talking about how great Reagan was, then it's a surefire indication that the character is a US-Republican party member or someone with classical-liberal or neo-liberal leanings. Conversely, if you see someone in a film or TV show disparaging Reagan, expect the character to be a social-liberal or socialist or anarchist or Marxist. For British media, substitute Margaret Thatcher for Reagan to precisely the same effect as the two had faith in very similar socioeconomic belief systems - the pro-free-market, anti-government ideology of Neoliberalism - and presided over their respective countries during roughly the same time period (19791990). Reagan's other use in popular culture is to evoke the 1980's, so expect him to be referenced in anything set in a Popular History version of that decade or any political satires or topical shows from that era.
Reagan was the first president since James Monroe not to fall victim to the "Curse of Zero" (sometimes called the the Curse of Tippecanoe), in which virtually every president elected in a year ending in zero had died in officenote . That's not to say he didn't come close to meeting an untimely end in office, however, as barely three months into his first term, he was shot and severely injured by John Hinckley, and only survived due to prompt medical care. Reagan remains the only sitting president to be injured, but not killed in an assassination attempt, and his brush with death is credited with having boosted his approval ratings from "pretty damn good" to "astronomical," and helped him score arguably the most decisive victory in a seriously contested presidential election when he was re-elected in 1984, with only 2,000 Minnesota voters coming between him and victory in every single state.
Fun fact: Reagan was once a member of the Democratic Party. He also was very, very addicted to jelly beans. He started eating them when he quit smoking, and he seriously had jelly bean cup-holders placed on government planes. When he won in 1980, he wanted a jelly bean flag of red, white, and blue to be created to the occasion. There were no blue-colored jelly beans at the time, so the Jelly Belly company created the blueberry flavor specifically for the ceremony. It ended up becoming one of their most popular flavors.
As always, be cool and use the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment: lots of people have strong opinions on him, his legacy and his economic policies.
Reagan's Movie Career:
There is a story that Ronald Reagan was playing Trivial Pursuit with his staff aboard Air Force One, and received the question "Who said 'I am the Errol Flynn of B-movies?'". Reagan correctly answered "I did." In any case, the Errol Flynn quote is accurate, and reflected Reagan's dissatisfaction over his movie career, which rarely provided the good parts that Reagan wanted, as he typically ended up playing the archetypical "the hero's best friend/sidekick" character.
Ronald Reagan made his film debut in a picture called Love Is on the Air in 1937. His first big break was a supporting part in the Bette Davis prestige drama Dark Victory (1939), but that part unfortunately failed to lift him out of the B-movie ghetto. In 1940, he played real-life American Football Player George "The Gipper" Gipp in the movie Knute Rockne, All American (about a Notre Dame football coach), which featured the line, "Win One for the Gipper." "The Gipper" became one of Reagan's nicknames. He was ineligible for combat duty in World War II due to extreme nearsightedness, so Reagan spent much of the war making Army training films.
Another film Reagan famously played in was the comedy movie Bedtime for Bonzo, in which he costarred with a chimpanzee in a standard Ain't No Rule story. Reagan always displayed a sense of humor about this movie; he's famously said to have once signed a promo photo of himself and Bonzo with the inscription "I'm the one with the wristwatch."note He viewed That Hagen Girl, a 1947 melodrama co-starring Shirley Temple, as his real Old Shame. It's even rumored that Reagan tried to suppress or destroy copies of that film. There's also a common story that he was originally slated to star in Casablanca, which derives from a claim made by the Warner Bros. publicity office while promoting his film Kings Row. Like many similar claims made by the Warner Bros. publicity office during the period, it has no basis in fact.
His most famous role was probably in the 1942 film Kings Row, which contains the famous line: "Where's the rest of me?" (his character had lost both of his legs.) Where's The Rest Of Me? was the title of his 1965 autobiography. He had a memorable Playing Against Type role as a brutal and abusive crime lord turned Corrupt Corporate Executive in his last film, The Killers (1964) by Don Siegel (of Dirty Harry fame). Cinephiles and film historians actually consider that role his best performance since he held his own against strong performers like John Cassavetes, Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson (who he slaps around in a notorious scene).
Ronald Reagan films on TV Tropes:
- Dark Victory (1939)
- Knute Rockne, All American (1940)
- Beyond the Line of Duty (1942) — short film with Reagan as narrator
- Kings Row (1942)
- Desperate Journey (1942)
- So You Want to Be in Pictures (1947) (cameo)
- The Voice of the Turtle (1947)
- That Hagen Girl (1948)
- The Hasty Heart (1949)
- The Winning Team (1952)
- The Killers (1964)
- Hollywood on Trial (1976) (documentary, As Himself)
Reagan in fiction:
- Reagan appears in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns as a disturbingly shrunken and senile wretch who's stayed in office 20 years longer than is legal.
- In The DCU, wannabe superhero Michael Jon "Booster" Carter, calling himself Goldstar, traveled back in time to 1986 and managed to save Reagan from an assassination attempt. When Ronnie asked him his name, he responded "Boost... er, Gold...," and was forever more known as Booster Gold. Also, in the Crisis Crossover Legends, Reagan apparently faces down a group of armed gunmen breaking into the Oval Office. "You have five seconds to surrender yourselves!" (Gunfire to Reagan's chest ... with no effect beside Clothing Damage.) "Now you have two seconds!" It's revealed to be a disguised Martian Manhunter acting as a decoy.
- Issue #344 of Captain America had The Viper using a serum she got from Slithers (a minor X-Man villain) turning Ronald and Nancy into Brainwashed and Crazy serpent-men with the rest of Washington, DC in an earlier stage of the transformation. The Captain (as he was known at the time because of a dispute with the government) didn't manage to stop the plot before throwing down with the suddenly scaly Commander-In-Chief who was clad only in his underwear. Reagan even used old glory as a weapon during the fight. While Cap was preoccupied with the president, Viper was able to make a Villain: Exit, Stage Left but she was not able to get very far before she was stopped and defeated by Cobra (who is usually an enemy of The Mighty Thor). He said it was payback for Cap helping Sidewinder retake control of the Serpent Society and had nothing to do with his political affiliation.
- In the 1980's Action Comics ran a Deadman storyline in which at one point Deadman and the Devil drop in at a Washington soiree, possess Reagan and Gorbachev, respectively, then switch to Mrs. Gorbachev and Mrs. Reagan, respectively. And then◊ they fight◊.
- Mortadelo y Filemón: Reagan shows up in several albums written in The '80s ("El Cacao Espacial", "La Perra de las Galaxias" and "Los Ángeles 84"), or it's mentioned (¡Este trasto está más cascado que el Reagan! (This junk is more broken than Reagan!)) in "El cochecito leré"
- In Watchmen (an Alternate History where Richard Nixon is still president), editors at a right-wing newspaper mock the idea of a "cowboy actor" like Robert Redford running for president; the film dispenses with subtlety and has them mocking the idea of Reagan himself running, despite the fact that he would be eight years older on taking office and probably beginning to show signs of Alzheimer's, not to mention losing some of the original irony. The film dialogue rewords it as just "a cowboy running for President", turning it into a dig at someone a little more recent.
- The very first issue of Jon Sable, Freelance featured a clever, forceful Reagan blackmailing Sable into helping with presidential security against an assassin who happened to be an old enemy of Sable's.
Reagan: Do you know me?
Sable: I know who you look like. Got any ID?
Reagan: (holding up American Express card) Will this do?
- A Strontium Dog story in 1987 involved Johnny and Durham Red rescuing Reagan from alien freedom fighters from the future who were threatening to kill him in order to create a Time Storm if all humans did not leave their planet. It's clear that Alan Grant was not fond of Reagan.
- In V for Vendetta, neo-fascist dictator Adam Susan is intended as a reference to Ronald Reagan (and to Margaret Thatcher as well)
- Give Me Liberty has President Rexall, a Reagan Expy who ends up as a Brain in a Jar and goes on to serve three terms.
- Ed the Happy Clown features the Ronald Reagan of an alternate universe getting his head stuck to the title character's penis. Surprisingly, Chester Brown stated that this wasn't intended to be a Take That!, as being both apolitical and Canadian, he had little idea of the specifics of Reagan's politics besides knowing that he was vaguely right wing and that the American right wing was opposed to pornography and obscenity, both of which Brown had been accused of creating. Instead, he mostly picked Reagan so people would recognize the name (the drawn Reagan doesn't look much like the real man either): Brown had originally been planning it being a left-wing Canadian politician he disliked, but eventually decided that the guy was too obscure even for Canadians to appreciate.
- During his presidency, he often appeared in the Underground Comics of the time, where surprisingly, he was universally depicted in an extremely negative light. He was typically drawn with a giant pompadour and hideously wrinkled face, and was depicted as a senile idiot at best and a racist, homophobic tyrant at worst.
- The first Marvel NOW arc of Deadpool features all the deceased Presidents returning as zombies to destroy the world. Reagan, for his part in this, hijacks a military satellite to try and enact his failed Star Wars program in person, only for Deadpool to crash the satellite and re-kill him in the process. Also, during the fight, he cuts Reagan open, and all his jellybeans spill out.
- In Deadly Class, main protagonist Marcus blames Reagan for his parents' death, as his slashing of federal mental health funding led to numerous mental patients being unleashed onto the streets, including the one who crushed Marcus' parents by landing on them when jumping to her death. As such, Marcus intends to use the assassin training he's gaining at King's Dominion to one day kill Reagan in revenge.
- Reagan makes several cameo appearances in Power Girl fanfiction A Force of Four -set in the 1985- where he's treated in a fairly neutral manner.
- In Supergirl fanfic Hellsister Trilogy, Ronald Reagan makes a cameo appearance during the Darkseid War when Mikhail Gorbachov calls him to inquiry what is going on across the pond and why isn't Superman fixing it.
- In Kara of Rokyn, set in 1986, Reagan and Gorbachev discuss what should be done regarding Lex Luthor's latest world-endangering scheme before concurring that unfortunately they have no option but to rely on the super-heroic community. After the Luthor's threat is over for good, both Reagan and Gorbachev compete to see which is able to pay a better homage to Superman, but the Man of Steel declines politely.
- The page's quote is from Back to the Future, with Doc Brown laughing when Marty mentioned it to him in 1955. When Reagan watched the film himself, he got so amused that he told the projectionist to stop the film and replay the scene. In addition, in his 1986 state of the union address, he would use the closing line "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads.", which writer Bob Gale believes cemented BTTF's place in pop culture. In Part II, the Cafe '80s nostalgia restaurant is shown, a bit of a Theme Park Version of the decade. Reagan was shown on a Max Headroom-like display offering Marty a drink, vying with an animated Ayatollah Khomeni for his attention. This may be a Shout-Out to Doonesbury's "Ron Headrest", a similar Headroom parody. The filmmakers wanted Reagan to play the mayor of 1885 Hill Valley in Part III. Reagan wanted to play the mayor, but it was his aides who turned down the offer. The second film features a newspaper from 1985-A with a line stating that Richard Nixon is seeking a fifth term. When the timeline is restored, it instead says that Reagan is seeking a second term. One alternative script had Biff giving the almanac to his 1967 self instead of the 1955 one. One of the few things Doc teaches Marty about 1967 is the fact that Reagan was the Governor of California back then.
- Reagan is mentioned several times in Born in East L.A.. When the immigration officer asks Rudy who's the president, he answers John Wayne by mistake, which is "proof" enough that he's an illegal despite his protests and his ability to clearly speak English.
Rudy: I'M AN AMERICAN CITIZEN, YOU IDIOTS! THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES IS RONALD "DICKHEAD" REAGAN!
- An indirect shout out in the 1967 (early in Reagan's political career) spy comedy In Like Flint has the president replaced by a double. Flint, hearing the whole evil plan, incredulously mutters "An actor as President?"
- Reagan gets a Shout-Out / Take That! in The Matrix when the traitor, whose name is Reagan, says he wants to be "reborn" in the Matrix as an actor and completely forget his past.
- Rumor has it that George Lucas named "Nute Gunray" of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace after Newt Gingrich and Ronald Reagan, which would make it a Take That!. Alternatively, "Nute" may have come from Knute Rockne: All American, the film which gave Reagan his nickname "The Gipper." Supposedly, Lucas was upset about the SDI's nickname, even though it was Reagan's critics who dubbed it "Star Wars," not the President.
- The killer in The Tripper is a psychotic, hippie-hating Reagan-fanatic who dresses and acts like him.
- Is played by Alan Rickman in Lee Daniels' The Butler.
- In Trading Places, Randolph Duke has a portrait of then-president Reagan on his desk, while his brother Mortimer has a portrait of Richard Nixon on his desk.
- He has a prominent role in two of Michael Moore's movies.
- In Roger & Me he is seen inviting some autoworkers out for a pizza, and encouraging them to look for work elsewhere. The cash register at that restaurant was later stolen during the event.
- In Capitalism: A Love Story, Reagan is accused of creating an economic system that favored the rich, causing economic inequality and industrial decline.
- American Psycho: He briefly appears on television in the background when one of Patrick Bateman's friends discusses his demeanor, claiming that Reagan only uses the "nice old guy" image to appear harmless.
- Reagan the actor is briefly mentioned in Airplane!, when the first passenger to come down with the food poisoning mentions she hasn't felt this awful "since we saw that Ronald Reagan movie!" However, this was almost certainly a dig at Reagan the politician. The scene was filmed in August 1979 but Reagan had challenged then-incumbent President Gerald Ford in the Republican primaries three years earlier and Reagan at least running for President in 1980 - if not winning outright as Jimmy Carter was deeply unpopular in 1979 - was considered a foregone conclusion. By the time the film premiered in 1980, Reagan was the presumptive Republican nominee and would be elected President that November. (The film also contains a dig at Reagan's old rival Gerald Ford.)
- Robin Williams does an impression of Reagan in Mrs. Doubtfire.
"Nancy and I are still looking for the other half of my head."
- An old German joke makes a play on his name "Als der Reagan kam wurde der Kohl immer fetter"note (Kohl meaning cabbage and Reagan sounding similar to "Regen", which means rain. Kohl was well known for his rotundness which only got worse during the eighties)
- Reagan is frequently disparaged by the narrator of John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany.
- The Salmon of Doubt In Douglas Adams' posthumous collection, a short story starring Zaphod ends with the revelation that Ronald Reagan is an escaped alien-engineered weapon of mass political destruction, and that the aliens responsible will have to make the Earth 'safe, perfectly safe'.
- So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish featured "Know-Nothing Bozo the Non-Wonder Dog", so named "due to a remarkable similarity to the American President". The dog's owner and his friends would play a game with the dog where they would shout "Commies!" repeatedly and watch as the dog went berserk.
- In Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, one of the characters, Susannah is transported from the America of 1964 into a fantasy world. When she meets Eddie, who came from 1987, she doesn't believe that Reagan is the president by then, and thinks he's just kidding.
- In Frederik Pohl's The Coming of the Quantum Cats, an alternate Ronald Reagan exists in two of the universes. In one, he's a former actor viewed as a subversive by the government. In the other, he's the First Gentleman — Nancy Reagan is president.
- Inasmuch as The Kite Runner is based around the events in Afghanistan from the 1970s up to the present day, Ronald Reagan's election is mentioned. Amir's father Baba is a huge supporter, going out and buying a poster of Reagan the day after the "Evil Empire" speech.
- The Cthulhu Mythos story, A Colder War, by Charles Stross has Reagan accidentally causing The End of the World as We Know It, by jokingly saying "We'll starting bombing in fifteen minutes!" during a speech in Finland. This leads to the Soviet Union, as well as the warring states of Iraq and Iran, panicking and unleasing their horrifying Magitek weapons they got from studying Cthulhu and Soggoths, but still don't fully understand. The US quickly retaliate by lauching their own horrifying weapons they don't fully understand either, which they got from studing leftovers from the Elder Things, and soon humanity is utterly doomed.
- A Nomad of the Timestreams by Michael Moorcock features an appearance by an alternate-universe version of Reagan as a racist, buffoonish Boy Scout leader.
- In the President's Vampire series, it's revealed that Reagan was much more severely wounded by Hinckley than was let on to the public, and that the government had to release Johann Konrad from prison in exchange for him saving the President's life. Even then, it's implied that the brush and whatever Konrad did to him caused his mental decline in his later years.
- Reagan, referred to only as "Dutch," has a cameo in American Empire: The Center Cannot Hold, part of the Timeline-191 series by Harry Turtledove. Paralleling Reagan's real-life career at this time (the 1930's), "Dutch" is a sportscaster, working out of Des Moines, Iowa. He's pretty good, too: the character listening to him thinks he could make reading the phone book sound interesting. "If anyone was a great communicator, he was the man."
- "Dutch" (as a runner tears downfield): There he goes again!
- In Un Song, Reagan makes a deal with the Comet King to reunify the collapsing United States into the new Untied States. It turns out that he's actually a Golem created by Gadiriel, the angel of celebrity, who wants to stop America from falling apart.
- Bruce Coville's Book of... Monsters: In the opening story, My Little Brother is a Monster, protagonist Jason Burger privately nicknames his new little brother "Bonzo" after the chimpanzee in Bedtime For Bonzo. When Coville rewrote the story into a full-length book, Always October, this was left out.
- James Brolin played Reagan in the controversial 2003 miniseries The Reagans.
- Reagan was one of the four X -Presidents on Saturday Night Live's "TV Funhouse," and the comic books based on it, a group of superheroes who fought crime.
Reagan: Just say "no" to pissing me off!
- Due to constant cast turnovers brought about by behind-the-scenes problems, Reagan was largely unscathed by Saturday Night Live's political humor during his tenure. It was only until the very end of his tenure as President, that SNL found its definitive Reagan in the form of Phil Hartman. Sadly, by this point, they were only able to get one notable skit out of Hartman's Reagan, which famously portrayed Reagan as a shrewd, harsh tactician who simply put up a facade of being a doddering Cloudcuckoolander to get away with the Iran-Contra Scandal. This sketch is usually the only one that you'll see on "best of Presidential spoofs" clip shows. See it here.
- In the satirical puppet show Spitting Image he was often portrayed as in a relationship with Margaret Thatcher, and as a Cloudcuckoolander always accompanied by the chimpanzee Bonzo (see Never Live It Down). Along with Thatcher he was one of the Acceptable Targets that made the show enormously popular in the United Kingdom.
- John Casey from Chuck is a big Reagan fan. He keeps a framed picture of Reagan (which actually belongs to actor Adam Baldwin) in his apartment.
- Jack Donaghy of 30 Rock reveres Reagan as the patron saint of capitalism.
- Reagan does not appear in The Americans, but is frequently discussed by the titular Soviet sleeper agents, whose commanders believe he is a madman who will end up destroying the world (and discovering the plans for the Star Wars project don't allay these fears either). In the episode covering the time where he's shot, the Soviets misinterpret the events to cause them to think that a coup within the American government is imminent.
- Read any account of how Able Archer '83 almost went nuclear, and you'll see rampant paranoia amongst the top Soviet leadership concerning Reagan and his intentions as being horrifying Truth in Television.
- In the pilot episode, a Soviet defector is kidnapped on US soil by a pair of undercover KGB agents. In response, President Reagan issues a top secret Executive Order authorizing the FBI to be more aggressive in stopping KGB operations within the United States.
- One episode of Psych has Shawn need Lassiter to punch him. Lassiter refuses, until Shawn says that Reagan was an awful president, leading to Lassiter immediately punching Shawn out.
- Bruce Campbell will have a cameo as Reagan in Season 2 of Fargo which takes place in the Seventies (and not in Fargo).
- CSI: NY: Despite the series not premiering until 2004, Det. Mac Taylor has a framed 8"x10" picture of Reagan in his office, and is teased by a co-worker about "that 8-hour documentary you're always watching."
- In Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp he's played by a deliberately unconvincing Michael Showalter as a Cloud Cuckoolander who scarfs down jelly beans and goes way too far in trying to invoke Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!, but is still pretty reasonable in the end.
- Johnny Carson played Reagan in several skits on The Tonight Show, including one where he led the Reagans against Queen Elizabeth's Windsor family on Family Feud.
- In The Ranch, it's mentioned that Beau is such a big fan of Ronald Reagan that he voted for him as a write-in candidate in every election since Reagan left office.
- In All in the Family, Archie annoys Mike by telling him that he wrote in Richard Nixon in the 1976 election; in fact, Archie actually wrote in Reagan. (Later, he yells at Mike, "You're gonna get Ronald Reagan in 1980!", a prediction which proved accurate.)
- The vast majority of songs about Ronald Reagan came from pretty much every U.S punk band from the 1980's (not even an exaggeration, most bands had at least one song about him; although exceptions to the anti-Reagan songwriting trend exist, they're hard to come by). Notable examples include:
- "Reagan's In" by Wasted Youth
- "We've Got a Bigger Problem Now" and "Rambozo the Clown" by Dead Kennedys
- "Reaganomics" by D.R.I.
- "Fascist" by Minutemen
- "Fucked Up Ronnie" by D.O.A.
- "I Shot the Devil" by Suicidal Tendencies
- "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg" by The Ramones, a track criticizing Reagan for making an official visit to a German cemetery where a number of Nazi SS officers were buried. This track is especially notable because the band included lifelong Republican Johnny Ramone, who was absolutely infuriated with this song.
- "Battalions of Fear" by German metal band Blind Guardian is about his policies. As you can probably guess by the title, it's not positive.
- Michael Jackson appeared with Ron and Nancy in a Rose Garden photo op. Reagan honored Michael for allowing the "Just Say No" campaign to use the song "Beat It" in an ad. According to the Jackson biography, The Magic and the Madness The First Lady found Michael somewhat peculiar but attractive. To say that this was controversial would be... an overstatement.
- The music video for Minutemen's "This Ain't No Picnic" included clips of Ronald Reagan from a war film. The clips were edited to make it look like Ronald Reagan was shooting at and bombing The Minutemen from a fighter plane.
- Rich Little did a fictious appeal to minority voters as Reagan rapping and Nancy on Bass. "Rappin' Ronnie"
- "Secret Service Freedom Fighting USA" by The World/Inferno Friendship Society is often introduced during live shows as being titled "I shot President Ronald Reagan, AND I'M GONNA DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN!" The song itself is supposedly based on an incident from the lead singer's teenage years, when (unaware that Reagan was making an appearance a few towns over) he shouted that during a prank call and was subsequently arrested.
- Genesis' video of 'Landof Confusion' uses Spitting Image and their puppets, including that of Reagan as a would-be superhero.
- Owl City uses part of Ronald Reagan's famous speech about the explosion of the Challenger Space Shuttle as an intro to the song "Galaxies", which is a tribute to the twenty-fifth anniversary of the tragedy.
- Frank Zappa was a very vocal critic of Reagan's politics. This began very early, with the concentration camp for hippies on We're Only in It for the Money (1968) being called "Camp Reagan", an allusion to Reagan then being governor of California. In the only music video Zappa ever made, You Are What You Is (1981), a lookalike of Reagan is depicted on the electric chair. Several anti-Reagan songs can be heard on Broadway the Hard Way (1988), namely "The Untouchables", "Dickie's Such An Asshole" (also targeting Nixon), "When The Lie's So Big", "Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk". On "Make A Jazz Noise Here" (1991) the track "Star Wars Won't Work" attacks Reagan's "Star Wars" defense project. The instrumental track "Reagan At Bitburg" on Civilization Phaze III (1994) references Reagan's infamous controversial visit to Bitburg, West Germany in 1985 where he laid a laurel wreath on the grave of some SS soldiers.
- Killer Mike has a song called "Reagan", the bulk of which deals with The CIA drug sales and how that combined with "Just Say No" and harsher drug sentences for juveniles to victimise black youth. Tje music video features animated clones of Reagan as the mooks of the US government, and eventually a super-sized Reaganbot.
- Lemon Demon's song Reaganomics.
- Huey Freeman is convinced that Ronald Reagan is really The Antichrist. This is based on actual conspiracy theories by some black militants, citing, among their reasons, the fact that his first, middle, and last names All had six letters.
- In a 1981 series of Bloom County strips, Santa's elves go on strike; Reagan (who is never depicted but heard as a voice on a TV seen from the side) fires them all and replaces with scabs, breaking the union. Any resemblance to the 1981 air traffic controllers' strike is purely intentional.
- In the musical Assassins, John Hinckley Jr. shoots Reagan as an act of love for Jodie Foster. Reagan survives. Like the other assassination attempts, it's presented as a carnival game, with a buzzer sounding every time Hinckley fails to kill the president, and the Proprietor mocking him with Reagan's various quips.
Hinckley: He died so our love could live!
'Reagan': Sorry, Nancy, I forgot to duck.
'Reagan': I sure hope that's surgeon's a Republican.
'Reagan': Where'd that kid learn to shoot, the Russian army?
'Reagan': There you go again.
- The 1984 off-Broadway musical Rap Master Ronnie, co-written by Elizabeth Swados and Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau, satirizes key Reagan administration events and individuals. A movie version was released in 1988.
- Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja. Sometime in the eighties, Ronald Reagan was kidnapped by Ninjas. Fortunately, there were some dudes who were bad enough to rescue him, so they did, and then went out for a hamburger (specifically, you get to watch President Ronnie eat one in front of you. What the hell, Ronnie?).
- The heroes of the Engrish-laden classic Battle Rangers also set out to save president Ronnie from a boomerang-tossing despot.
- "Senile Reagan in a Bikini" was the original cohost of the game show segment in Bushgame, a politically-charged spinoff of the Emogame series. Out of... respect(?) after Reagan's death, the character became the more lucid "John Snow".
- Ronald Reagan appears in the cut scenes that precede some of the 1980s missions in Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
- Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus features Reagan as a TV actor starring in Nazi propaganda pieces in Nazi-occupied America. He dies when he accidentally pisses off Hitler by referring to him as "Mr. Hitler" instead of "Mein Fuhrer".
- Edge The Devilhunter features Reagan resurrected as a demon called The Gipper. The Gipper resembles a set of male genitalia on legs, with Reagan's head appearing in place of the tip of the penis.
- Ansem Retort also used the REAGAN SMASH joke mentioned below...except this time Reagan turned into The Incredible Hulk and really did tear down the Berlin Wall. And as it turns out, the reason Ronald Reagan can turn into The Hulk is because Axel brought a gamma bomb from the future and set it off at the set of Kings Row.
REAGAN RUN FOR PUBLIC OFFICE!
- Ronald Reagan is a member of the cast of Shortpacked!, after the owner of the eponymous toy store heard one of his employees remark "Bring back anything from the '80s, and it's money in the bank" (just how he was "brought back" is never really addressed although Imported Alien Phlebotinum capable of resurrecting the dead does exist in the strip's universe). "Ronnie" is played as a kindly old man, slightly absentminded, with an occasional tendency to burst into a Patriotic Fervor and total inability to retain information about AIDS. He is also portrayed as remarkably accepting of homosexuality, despite his politics, a stance he explains by reminding people that he got his start in Hollywood and personally knew Rock Hudson.
- Subnormality not only claims that Ronald Reagan is evil, but that he is an excellent freestyle rapper. He's on a date with Margaret Thatcher, who is also evil.
- Homestar Runner: One of the options in the "Choose-Your-Own-Ingredient" Halloween toon, "Halloween Potion-Ma-Jig", demonstrates Homestar's Reagan impression:
Homestar: Well... well... Nancy and I... economics... well... rap music... jellybeans... well... we... probably had a... pet...
Bubs: That's the worst Ronald Reagan impression I've ever heard!
Homestar: (offended) Ronald Reagan?! I was doing my Keanu Reagan!
- In A World of Laughter, a World of Tears, a young Reagan hosts the Micky Mouse Club TV show (which turns into a mouthpiece for political propaganda).
- Reagan is the candidate for the Republican nomination for President in 1976 in Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72; he narrowly loses the election to Democratic candidate George Wallace. Reagan then runs for the Republican nomination again in 1980 but loses the primary election to Donald Rumsfeld. He briefly gets his own talk show, but after becoming an opponent of Rumsfeld's policies, he flees into exile with Richard Nixon to Britain.
- The Onion did a report on the GOP raising Ronald Reagan from the grave so that Zombie Reagan can be the new face of the Republican party.
- Appeared briefly in a review by The Nostalgia Chick. With the Imperial March playing over his picture.
- He's mentioned in 1983: Doomsday as having survived Doomsday and managed to escape the crumbling US for Hawaii. But en route to Australia, his plane vanishes in the South Pacific, leaving George Bush Sr. as the head of the American exile community.
- The SCP Foundation:
- SCP-1981, an anomalous VHS tape of Reagan's 1983 "Evil Empire" speech. Something happened to the tape so that every time it's played back its contents are different, with the contents always consisting of Reagan giving nonsensical (and creepy) anecdotes and parables while he's being mutilated by an invisible force.
- SCP-095 is a pulp science fiction magazine titled The Atomic Adventures of Ronnie Ray-Gun, where the main character strongly resembles Reagan.
- If Reagan had ever found it necessary to ride into battle on the back of a dinosaur, firing a submachine gun, while the dinosaur clutched a flagpole in one hand—well, then he would've done so. And it would've looked something like this.
- In The Simpsons:
- In a brief cutaway gag in the episode Lisa the Beauty Queen Reagan is one of the heads seen stuck on a pole in the Chamber of Horrors section of the Springfield Wax Museum.
- Members of the Springfield Republican Party mention that they have a mission to rename everything after Reagan. (For example, all schools named in Millard Fillmore's honor will be transferred to Reagan's.)
- Homer's "Rappin' Ronnie Reagan" tape. This is actually a Shout-Out to Rich Little's "Rappin' Ronnie", a fictious appeal to minority voters with Ron rapping and Nancy on Bass. Watch it here
- When seeing Homer's Barbershop Quartet, The Be Sharps, sing at the Statue of Liberty's Centennial Anniversary, Reagan turns to wife Nancy and remarks, "Damn ceremonies. This is time I could be working, Mommy."
- Mr. Burns's voice is partly based on Mr. Reagan.
- Similar to the above Simpson example, the penultimate episode of Mission Hill has Kevin mentioning that the location of the supermarket Super Pig in his home suburb has changed its name to Ronald Reagan Parkway rather than FDR Parkway.
- In The Boondocks, Reagan is depicted as being incredibly anti-Civil Rights by other characters to the point that the revolutionary extremist Huey states that "Ronald Reagan is the devil." Black-hating black man Ruckus however idolizes him for this ideal, who in his dreams stated that he spent his life attempting to make life miserable for black people.
- Family Guy:
- Reagan is depicted in episode "Peter's Got Woods", saying his "Tear down this wall" line and then beating on a brick wall with his bare fists while repeatedly yelling "REAGAN SMASH!". It turns out it was the wall of a McDonald's and the workers inside comment that it was nothing to be concerned about, and that he tends to wear himself out quickly. He is then seen curling up like a child, muttering "Reagan sleepy..."
- The episode "Family Gay" implied he and Gorbachev were gay lovers.
- In an Animaniacs episode, "De-Zanitized," Reagan appears in Scratchansniff's flashback, taking place when he was an actor, and tells the doctor about his dream where he becomes president. Scratchansniff deems him incurable. May be a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment. The episode came out in 1993, a year before he revealed his Alzheimer's.
- In Phineas and Ferb, In one episode, in another attempt to bust her brothers for the daily project of theirs, Candace asks Mom to "Tear Down This Wall" with her car, the wall being the fence in between her and the backyard, afterwards "Hail To The Chief" begins playing briefly as a reference to Reagan
- He is often referred to on King of the Hill, being one of Hank's two leading presidential heroes (the other being LBJ, who for obvious reasons serves as the only Democrat whom Hank holds in such high esteem).
Hank: Now go do a report on a real president.
Bobby: But which president should I [Hank glares] Ronald Reagan.
Jan: Chaperoning? Nice job, Ronald Reagan.
- "I miss voting for that man."
- "Hey, now, if Ron Reagan dyed his hair — and I'm not saying he did — it was only to show his strength to the Communists."
- "Some Day Governor Reagan Will Run For President"
- From "Get Your Freak Off":
McB: Hey, don't call me that!
Hank: Yeah, don't call him that!
- Reagan (and his cabinet) as badass commando superhero(es).
- One episode of Tiny Toon Adventures featured Buster and Babs going to Washington to request aid against a Moral Guardian lady that sucked up Acme Acres' residents' "tooniness". The bunnies go to the Lincoln Memorial for guidance, and seem to hear Abraham Lincoln's voice coming from the statue, urging them not to give up. They walk off, inspired, not knowing that it's just Ronnie in his pajamas, talking to his teddy bear.
- In the "Rap-unzel" episode of the ALFTales cartoon, Reagan (in Melmaccian form) is the doddering, clueless royal father of Prince Gordon, and is finally convinced by him to set up a Federal Communications Commission to foil the Evil Witch's broadcasting monopoly.
- American Dad!:
- Stan Smith worships Reagan more than he does Jesus (and he already does a lot of that). At one point, he asks Nancy Reagan what her husband would have done in a difficult situation. Nancy performs a mocking seance and sends him on his way.
- In Vacation Goo, he tries to convince his marauded family to listen to his ideas unless they guess what president he likes a lot. Steve immediately answers with, "Ronald Reagan."
- The first Christmas Episode, "The Best Christmas Story Never", has Stan going back in time to the 1970s to try and kill Jane Fonda for "ruining Christmas", but along the way he makes changes which snowball into Reagan losing the 1984 election to Walter Mondale,note , who handed control of the country over to the Soviet Union less than two months into his presidency. At the end of the episode, after going back in time and failing to set things exactly as they were before, Stan has to go back to 1981 and shoot Reagan himself.
- A recurring troublemaker on China Il. First stealing a CIA time machine to go back and crap in Steve's mouth for mocking him on an 80's kid talent show. Then assisting Frank and Baby Cakes in finding Thomas Jefferson's crystal palace, which makes him President For Life.
- On Gravity Falls, Ford mentions that he made a mind control tie for Reagan's "masters", but never clarifies what that means.