The Bechdel Testnote is a litmus test for female presence in fictional media. The test is named for Alison Bechdel, creator of the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, who made it known to the world with this strip.◊
In order to pass, the film or show must meet the following criteria:
- It includes at least two women,note
- who have at least one conversation,note
- about something other than a man or men.note
If that sounds to you like a pretty easy standard to meet, it is. That's the point! Yet, try applying the test to the media you consume for a while. There's a good chance you'll be surprised; mainstream media that passes is far less common than you might think.
The test is often misunderstood. The requirements are just what they say they are; it doesn't make any difference if, for instance, the male characters the women talk about are their fathers, sons, brothers, platonic friends, mortal enemies, patients they're trying to save or murderers they're trying to catch, rather than romantic partners. Conversely, if a work seems to pass, it doesn't matter if male characters are present when the female characters talk, nor does it matter if the women only talk about stereotypically girly topics like shoe shopping or even relationships, as long as it is not relationships with men.
This is because the Bechdel Test is not meant as a moral or ethical judgment on the quality of female characters in a work. Nor is it designed as a judgment on the artistic quality of the work - good movies can fail the Bechdel Test, and bad movies can pass. It is entirely possible for a film to pass without having pro-feminist themes, or even characterizing women positively. For instance, Manos: The Hands of Fate (Manos's wives discuss whether or not to spare the female protagonists so they can also be wives), The Bikini Carwash Company and Showgirls, films whose treatment of women range from incredibly squicky to tasteless fanservice, have passed the test. In fact, the original example of a movie that passes is Alien, which, while it has unintentional feminist subtexts, is mostly just a sci-fi/action/horror flick.
There's nothing necessarily wrong with any film flunking the Bechdel Test. Indeed, there are films with female protagonists that fail it, such as the 2013 movie Gravity, a movie about a female astronaut attempting to survive a disaster in space, in which there are only two major characters, one female and one male. Disney's Mulan shows that a film can even fail the test for the same reasons why it has strong feminist themes: the movie discusses sexism (and overcoming it), and thus is set in a world too sexist for it to pass the test. The protagonist starts out in an environment where women are valued only for their ability to get a man and produce babies, and then moves into an environment where there are no other women at all because it's not allowed. A fair number of top-notch works have legitimate reasons for including no women, such as being set among soldiers or sailors at war on the front lines (a nigh-exclusively male domain for most of history in most places). What's a problem is that so many movies fail the test, creating a pattern which says uncomfortable things about the way Hollywood handles gender.
As a phenomenon, the idea of the Bechdel Test has spread far and wide beyond Bechdel's original point and some of the context surrounding it has become lost and misunderstood. While generally taken as a feminist concept, part of Bechdel's original point was about how lesbian women specifically feel isolated from popular media. When there are so many examples that fail, and female characters often spend all their time talking about the men in their lives, women who aren't attracted to men can feel justifiably disconnected and underrepresented. This same sort of detachment can also be applied to other forms of marginalization such as race, disability, mental illness, and other issues, and has led people to create variations of the test that apply to those forms of marginalization, or reinterpret the original idea in new ways.
Variations on the Bechdel Test include:
- Deggans' Rule (aka Race Bechdel Test): At least two nonwhite human characters appear in a story where race is not a central theme.
- The Vito Russo Test aka gay Bechdel Test: A character is identifiably LGBT+, but not solely defined by their sexuality or gender identity, and is significant enough to the plot that they can't be conveniently edited out.
- Kelly Sue DeConnick's Sexy Lamp Test: Hinges on whether or not a female character can be replaced with a sexy novelty lamp without significantly changing the story.
- The Reverse Bechdel Test: The roles of men and women are swapped.note
- The "Mako Mori Test", inspired by the film Pacific Rim, asks, does a female lead get a Character Arc that doesn't revolve around male characters?
- The Sausage Zone test, proposed by Justin B. Rye in 2021, though the basic idea is far older, stretches the idea to the absolute bare minimum of female representation, designed to be almost effortless to pass (because some works still fail it.) A work fails the Sausage Zone test if and only if there is no evidence that women exist in the setting at all. This is above and beyond Chromosome Casting, rather, none of the characters nor the narrator can ever mention women and girls, nor can the pronouns “she” and “her” ever appear in the text except referring metaphorically to a ship. Believe it or not, there actually are works that don’t pass despite not being justified by their setting.
- The Gold Test, proposed by its namesake Jenni Gold: A disabled character is featured in a work that doesn't revolve around disability, and the character itself is not defined by their disability.
It's easier for a TV series, especially one with an Ensemble Cast, to pass this test than a film, because there's far more time for the conversation to occur in. To compensate for this, Bechdel-inspired analyses of television often substitute the pass/fail binary with a Bechdel score, looking at the show episode-by-episode, giving a final average (such as 7/13 if seven episodes pass in a 13 episode season), or compare the series's Bechdel score with its reverse Bechdel score.
For other tropes regarding the representation of gender in media, see:
- The Smurfette Principle (one female character included strictly for demographic appeal in a work with many male characters, and whose status as female is treated as their defining characteristic)
- Never a Self-Made Woman (a female character is only relevant to the story by her relationship to a man)
- Gender-Equal Ensemble (an Ensemble Cast has nearly 50-50 ratio of genders)
- Chromosome Casting (works featuring only male characters or only female, but not both).
- The prevalence of Token Romance and Romantic Plot Tumor contribute to works failing rule 3 of the test.
Curious about the pronunciation of Bechdel? According to The Other Wiki it's like "BEK-dal" (/ˈbɛkdəl/), but Bechdel herself has said it rhymes with "rectal".note Well, they're almost the same, anyhow.
Works that reference the Bechdel Test (named or not):
- In the manga of All You Need is Kill, Shasta makes a reference to running some "Bechdel tests" on Rita's Jacket while making an excuse.
- Lampshaded by She-Hulk to Wonder Woman in JLA/Avengers: "Yo, Star-shorts! I figured that you'd be getting bored so I thought I'd hang with you. We can talk girl-talk. Y'know, butt-kicking, name-taking, like that."
- The Superior Foes of Spider-Man references the test openly with Beetle complaining about how her life is failing the test since she hangs out with a bunch of guys.
"My life is failing the Bechdel test."
- Druid City: One character, who is a strident feminist, was added to the story so that the first volume of the series would pass the test. The same character, Carla Cortez, has gone on to be an Author Avatar in sociopolitical discussions that take place in the series.
- Doing It Right This Time: After reading a conversation between Asuka, Rei and Hikari where they are talking about helping Rei (who thanks to Parental Neglect has barely any clothing but her school uniform) pick out some new clothes for herself, some fan in the SpaceBattles.com thread wondered: "Does a scene count as passing the Bechdel Test if the women are talking about clothes?" That this scene led directly to a She Cleans Up Nicely moment only muddies the waters further. Especially because Rei cleans up so nicely that Asuka starts questioning her sexuality.
- The novel-length Chronicles Of Narnia fanfic King Edmunds Crusade lampshades it, though not by name.
A wholly feminine conversation was a novelty to Elizabeth, and perhaps to Susan as well. Both of them lived in a world where masculinity either ruled or was present. Here, in their private conversations, they found they not only could but wanted to move away from that. The conversation over the next four weeks was not of lipsticks and nylons and invitations; for such things are only feminine, they realized, in so far as defined by men.
- Fixations: A Justice League and Young Justice Fix Fic (found here) mentions the Bechdel Test when Diana (Wonder Woman) and Shayera (Hawk Girl) were talking about Wally (The Flash) in chapter ten — then the author realized this and decided to try and have the story pass the test.
- Master and Student A Mob Psycho 100 gender swap in which Mob and Reigen are female. They do discuss boys but also life, puberty, and just generally hang out together. With the addition of Tome and Rei to the Spirits and Such crew they do talk about boys more but also other things that middle school girls are interested in.
- Heroes Never Die: One of the fic's tags is "Yaoyorozu wants to pass the Bechdel Test but Ashido won't let her." Ashido spends her time in the locker room gossiping about the boys, to the annoyance of some of the other girls.
Yaoyorozu: Can we really not talk about anything else? So far, every time we've actually discussed things as a group, it's been about the boys. We actually did stuff today too, you know.
Ashido: You are a sad, strange little woman... and you have my pity.
- Briefly discussed in How to Sex Vol. 4–58 about Tommy's scrambled thoughts on Puffy and Niki's relationship.
There are only two women in this country and they are dating each other. I think that is called passing the Bechdel Test.
- Alluded to in Seven Psychopaths when Hans reads Marty's script; not only does he note that they have nothing interesting to say for themselves, but the only notable thing they do is die horribly five minutes later.
Hans: Your women characters are awful. None of them have anything to say for themselves, and most of them either get shot or stabbed to death within five minutes... and the ones that don't probably will later on.
Marty: Well... it's a hard world for women. You know? I guess that's what I'm trying to say.
Hans: Yeah, it's a hard world for women, but most of the ones I know can string a sentence together.
- The Half of It: Aster admits that all her conversations with other girls are about boys. However, she then averts this in her conversation with Ellie.
- The Descendants references the test in one conversation that has been 100% about dating and boys. The conversation ends by a character mentioning that she's probably going to fail the test she's studying for, administered by a Professor Bechdel.
- The Doctor Who fandom book Chicks Dig Time Lords includes an essay about companion Nyssa of Traken. The author points out that many of Nyssa's episodes pass the Bechdel test, and includes a brief explanation of what the test is.
- The Laundry Files: The Apocalypse Codex has protagonist Mo O'Brien (demonslayer) meet up with Ramona Random (mermaid, of a sort, who spent a week destiny-entangled with Mo's then-boyfriend, now-husband Bob Howard back in The Jennifer Morgue) at a diplomatic summit between Her Majesty's British Government and the Deep Ones. Ramona is saddened to learn Mo's marriage is having problems, to which she responds:
"We are so not going to fail the Bechdel test at a diplomatic reception, dear. That would be embarrassing."
- The Postmodern Adventures Of Kill Team One: Godless Murder Machine has a scene in which two women talk about Bechdel tests.
- The test is mentioned on A to Z in the episode "H is for Hostile Takeover". The Stinger takes it to a meta level with Zelda and Stephie discussing the test and wondering if two women discussing the Bechdel Test passes the Bechdel Test. They decide it does, and a "Bechdel Approved" graphic appears on-screen. Then Stephie starts talking about her boyfriend and the graphic is crossed out.
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend:
- In the episode "Josh Has No Idea Where I Am!" Rebecca goes through a Yet Another Christmas Carol story with her therapist acting as her "Dream Ghost". She becomes exasperated when the subject keeps getting back to the men in Rebecca's life, finally saying, "God, do you know how hard it is to pass a Bechdel Test when you're a Dream Ghost?"
- Mentioned again in "Trent?!", where Rebecca (after not resuming her relationship with Nathaniel) declares that her life will now pass the Bechdel test. Heather points out that by talking about Bechdel test, they're actually failing it since the Bechdel test inherently discusses men.
- Doctor Who:
- Doctor Who: "Mummy on the Orient Express" lampshades the Bechdel test when Clara tries to comfort a woman about her boyfriend for much of the episode, before complaining that she's on her own with another woman, so why can't they talk about something other than men? The fact that their resulting conversation is about the Doctor (who Clara is trying to work out her own relationship with) is a further lampshading.
- Class (2016): Episode 1:
- April: I think I'm going to ask Charlie to the prom.
Tanya: And you just made us fail the Bechdel test.
April: The what? You're funny.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000:
- The episode Hobgoblins had a host segment lampshading how the show fails the Bechdel test due to The Smurfette Principle. Crow begins a discussion of how women to treat women, which promptly derails into a conspiracy rant about how women don't actually exist.
- The Time Travelers: In that week's experiment, the female leads don't get a scene to themselves until halfway into the movie. So when their conversation turns, almost immediately, towards their male love interests, Tom Servo laments "Bechdel Test: zero."
- Parks and Recreation: During "Article Two", a local citizen Garth (Patton Oswalt) gives a completely ad-libbed filibuster, in which he proposes an Intercontinuity Crossover between the Star Wars universe and the Marvel Universe. It takes a long time for him to mention a single female character, and when he finally does, Leslie Knope is not impressed.
Garth: Then Luke looks down and Han’s wedding ring is gone. "Hey, what happened with you and Leia?" And Han's like, "Don't even get me started." So now, you know, where did Leia go? She’s not gone, but we will find out in a sec, now the whole ...
Leslie: The female part is a little underwritten so far, sir. I'd like to note that.
- In The Red Green Show in the episode "Women's Circle", it references how all the women from the Possum Lodge area have come together, and that all they talk about is something other than the men in their lives.
- In the Smallville episode "Magnetic" Lana Lang and Chloe Sullivan are enjoying a day at the Lowell County fair, their "girls' day out" when Lana mentions Clark by name. Chloe responds with, "And we almost went through an entire day without mentioning our favorite farm boy."
- You're the Worst leans on it hard in an episode.
Gretchen: Seriously! I spend all day dealing with my dumb rapper babies and when I get home there's Jimmy and Edgar and the one chance I get to sneak away for a quick hang with the Louise to my Thelma—
Lindsay: Who are they?
Gretchen:—and all we talk about is men.
Lindsay: I know!
Gretchen: We are complex women with rich inner lives! For God's sake, let's act like it and let's discuss something other than dicks and the dildos they hang off of.
Lindsay: I'm in!
(Cue awkward pause. Chirping Crickets previously only faintly in the background are suddenly extremely audible.)
- In Jane the Virgin Jane and her grad school professor have a conversation about how works in Jane's chosen genre (romance novels) often fail the Bechdel test. The show lists the criteria for passing the test on screen, and the narrator decides to see how much Jane's life passes it. She and her mother and grandmother just end up talking about the men in their lives, much to his exasperation.
- The Big Bang Theory originated with four genius-level men interacting with the Girl Next Door Penny. The fourth season added similarly genius women Amy and Bernadette to the cast (introduced in the third season), who ended up forming a girl group with Penny. Their conversations tended to skew towards guys, given that each had a Love Interest among the guys, but in one episode Amy and Bernadette mention that they sometimes enjoy breaking away from Penny because she only talks about the guys and they would like to talk about their careers in high-level science. That conversation, amusingly, got sidetracked when some guys at a bar sent them drinks.
- In Riverdale season 1 episode 13.
Veronica: Betty, now that it's just us girls, and at the risk of us failing the Bechdel test, are you legitimately cool with Archie and me? Swear on the September issue?
Betty: And on my copy of Forever by Judy Blume.
- The Magicians (2016) namedrops it when Penny walks in on Quentin's sex dream (long story) and finds Alice dressed like Daenerys and Julia dressed like Slave Leia. Quentin (dressed like Indiana Jones) keeps interrupting their conversation.
Dream!Alice: If you would just shut up for about for two seconds, this sex dream would pass The Bechdel Test.
- Legends of Tomorrow: In season 4, when the rest of the girls are bugging Zari about her burgeoning relationship with Nate, Zari tries to dodge their questions by saying they're failing the Bechdel Test pretty hard. Sara points out that the Bechdel Test doesn't mean they can't ever talk about boys.
- Lampshaded in Baywatch of all things, in which CJ and Stephanie go off to spend the day together. By the end of it, Stephanie exasperatingly points out that they took a girl's day out and all they did was talk about boys.
- Reboot (2022): Gordon, an "old guard" sitcom showrunner, suggests a plot where the female leads bond over a hot delivery guy. His daughter and her team of diverse writers say they need to write something that passes the Bechdel test, and he has to admit he doesn't know what that is.
- In Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Don't Dry, if you stand around and watch a couple of women talk for a minute, you get an achievement called "Bechdel Test Passed".
- In Nefarious, Princess Mayapple discusses with Princess Apoidea about how to smooth over relationships between their nations. Crow, who had been overhearing it, derogatorily calls the conversation a Bechdel Test and demands they talk about him.
- Talked about in Extra Credits in the episode "Diversity".
- Red vs. Blue: In season 15, as Dylan and Sister are discussing what the latter has done while alone in Blood Gulch, but the former decides to ask about the Reds and Blues, her cameraman (who's a film student) goes "Ah, there goes the Bechdel Test."
- Questionable Content references the reverse Bechdel test in the title of this strip.
- Discussed starting in this Dumbing of Age strip. Also played with — as pointed out in the last panel, most lesbian porn will automatically pass the Bechdel Test. It further elaborates on the flaws of the test not necessarily indicating feminism, and later one male character implies that his own life would not pass the reverse Bechdel Test.
- In this Shortpacked!, Leslie Bean (who's a homosexual woman, if you couldn't tell) expresses disinterest in a movie because it doesn't have two women talking enough that she can imagine them having a "tragically self-destructive yet amazingly hot lesbian affair." The Alt Text quips that this is called "the Beandel test."
- Skin Horse:
- Leftover Soup: "Bechdel Test passed, bitches."
- In Magick Chicks, when Cerise and Callista go to a date, Callista complains that the movie they've seen didn't pass the test.
- Unwinder's Tall Comics
Unwinder: You may know a bit about [Warren Rastov] actually. Ever heard of the Rastov test?
- This strip features a documentary comic, with two girls talking about a lizard. The title of the page is "Failing the Bechdel test because the lizard is a dude".
- "Space Home" references it with the Rastov Test (which, instead of dealing with feminism, is a dig at overly-elaborate Space Operas and Techno Babble).
Barbecue Sauce: Is that like where a book or movie is only good if it has less than four warring factions, and they have to say at least one sentence that isn't full of made-up space jargon?
Unwinder: That's the one. It was actually a pretty direct response to his father's work. They had some issues.
- In Skull Panda Loves Everything, Rikk Estoban creates a series of "Skull Panda Passes the Bechdel Test" strips.
- Roommates strip, "Roommates #304 - Bechdel" has girls talking about something else than men (revenge). In general it's not a female-centric work, but a fangirl-oriented meta fanservice comic with Cast Full of Pretty Boys.
- In Bad Machinery, Lottie has heard of the Test, though she seems to be a bit unclear on the details. Later, she invokes it to show that there's a problem with the timeline she's in. Or at least with one of her friends.
- Bravoman: In the Webcomic titled "Test Failed Bravowoman and Waya Hime get into a fight when Waya Hime mistakes Bravowoman for Bravoman's wife. Bravowoman lampshades it, and Alpha man says her meta jokes are better than Bravoman's. They later realize that the strip would be getting angry letters if the only two females killed each other off so Bravoman stops the fight.
"This is Stupid! You realize that we're the first two female characters in this series and we're fighting over a dude? You're ruining our Bechdel Test score!"
- Level 30 Psychiatry: the author comments for this strip mention that it is the first with an all male cast, thus passing the Reverse Bechdel Test.
- Sandra and Woo features "A Talk Between Women," which would imply that the two characters were going to talk about boys or something "feminine", but the punch line is that they're discussing international politics instead.
- Toki No Tanaka: The author comments on this page point out that it's the first with only male characters, therefore passing the reverse test.
- Mulberry has its title character discuss the Bechdel Test with Melissa McCarthy, in a comic exclusive to BANG! Magazine. Unfortunately, McCarthy changes the subject to speculating which male actors love her.note
- Arthur, King of Time and Space had a strip where Guenevere and Eglante discuss the sacking of Rome. The Bechdel Test is mentioned in The Rant for the following strip (where they discuss Guenevere's parents).
- Dork Tower puns off the subject here.
- A Feminist Frequency video shows a large number of popular movies that fail the test. In a running joke, Anita yawns, wanders away, comes back with an apple, and eats it, while the movie posters are still blinking steadily along in the background. Anita discusses the test again here. She proposes that the test be modified so that the scene in question must last at least sixty seconds to pass. She also describes a variant of the test for people of color, where at least two named non-white characters discuss something other than a white person. She rejects the concept of the Reverse Bechdel Test as she believes it contributes to the idea that women aren't oppressed.
- Atop the Fourth Wall:
- Linkara brings up the importance of the third point during his review of Sultry Teenage Super Foxes. Yes, the cast is almost uniformly female, but they never talk about anything but men. Unless you count the villains, that is. Even the protagonists obtaining superpowers was nothing more than a means to the end of them attracting men.
- In "The Culling: Legion Lost #9" review he notes that Rose Wilson and Caitlin Fairchild technically pass during their Designated Girl Fight, where they talk about betrayal and the latter's Heel–Face Turn. "So I guess there's another positive we can give to this idiotic story."
- The Nostalgia Chick:
- In her review of X-Men: First Class, she pointed out that it was one of the only superhero movies to pass the test. She then told her audience to go look up what the Bechdel Test was.
- When she reviewed Matilda, guest reviewer Mara Wilson mentions that everyone's gender in the movie seems entirely incidental and that it passes the test.
- In Vampire Reviews (a spin-off of The Nostalgia Chick), Maven, desperately trying to find ten positive things to say about Twilight, notes that it technically passes the test when Bella talks to other women about shoes and having babies.
- Stuff You Like references this when reviewing Underworld (2003) here. The scene is Selene and Erika (briefly) discussing dresses (before going on to talk about... umm... men).
Subtitles: Did they just pass the Bechdel Test?
- The website of Bitch magazine ("Feminist responses to pop culture") has posted an entire article on this subject.
- Bernie Su, a writer of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, comments as Word of God on passing the test with episode 16, in which Lizzie and depressed Charlotte discuss their career plans and prospects. Bernie Su says it was fairly late episode, but not that surprising when you consider that Pride and Prejudice is the source material for their adaptation.
- In Cracked's The 4 Best Moments in the Worst Movies Ever Made, Luke McKinney points out that the movie based on the video game Dead or Alive "physically beats the shit out of the Bechdel test" "within the first 10 minutes."
- A Platypus Comix article dedicated to the obscure Archie Comics series Marvelous Maureen comments on a scene of Maureeen and Clarissa DuBois arguing over Wonder Blunder like so:
...if they're trapped in the vacuum of space with a presumably finite air supply, and they want to spend their time flunking the Bechdel Test, then I guess so be it.
- Referenced by Doug Walker in the Sibling Rivalry of Despicable Me 2, as he complains that the movie would have been better if Lucy and the daughters had actually talked to each other. His brother and co-reviewer (Rob) however, thinks that's a stupid thing to complain about in a kid's movie and makes him drop it.
- While agreeing with every point about female representation, and declaring that the test, when taken on the whole, is useful for provoking thought, Bob Chipman delivered a scathing criticism of making too much of a particular movie passing or failing. He points out that Terminator 2: Judgment Day with Linda Hamilton's kick-ass Sarah Connor, and the very progressive Pacific Rim with its strong leading lady Mako Mori, would both fail. Meanwhile, Debbie Does Dallas and The Bikini Carwash Company two movies which, to state the obvious, are about as far removed from the feminist movement as could be, would both pass with flying colors, as would many Nicholas Sparks movies note He also brings up the Mako Mori Test as a slightly more useful variation of the test, if only due to how the requirements for passing it can easily be boiled down to "write good characters."
- The test was discussed by Cheshire Cat Studios in this video here, where the test is criticized for being taken too seriously in some circles that suggest that the only good movies in existence are films that "pass" the test, and criticizing the Swedish ratings board for even considering to use the test in their consideration of a movie's age rating.
- The Bechdel test is referenced in Epic Rap Battles of History's "Stevie Wonder vs. Wonder Woman"; Stevie mentions how Wonder Woman failed the test despite being one of the first superheroines and a prominent female icon. Although on that note, there is no letter grading scale for the test. Just a regular pass or fail system.
Stevie Wonder: You're a misguided C-minus-on-the-Bechdel-Test joke!
- In an episode of How Did This Get Made?, Jason Mantzoukas an observation he says up front sounds insane: Ninja Terminator, one of the Godfrey Ho Ninja Movies, passes the Bechdel Test by virtue of a scene of two female characters discussing a clothing design company they run together. Later in the episode, the hosts realize that between this scene and two sex scenes that seemed more focused on the woman's pleasure than the man's, Ninja Terminator may well be one of the most pro-feminist films they've ever reviewed.
- The Onion: "Sci-Fi Film Presents Vision Of Future In Which Women Never Speak To Each Other."
"Even beyond its taut pacing and gorgeous cinematography, the film offers a glimpse at an alternate reality in which women still exist, but engage in no meaningful exchanges whatsoever," said New York Times film critic A.O. Scott, noting that when the women of this advanced society do speak to each other, their dialogue centers around one or more prominent male characters.
- Several of the CollegeHumor women devoted a video to passing the test, only to find it more difficult than they'd first thought.
- Lampshaded in The Tim Tebow CFL Chronicles when two women talk about God, whether he is a man, and whether they just passed the Bechdel Test.
- Quibi series Dummy, about a woman who imagines that her boyfriend's sex doll can talk, has an episode called "The Bechdel Test" where the two characters spend the whole time trying to pass it.
- Inside Job (2021): In "Sex Machina", Reagan and Robo-Reagan are fighting each other over the latter's forwardness with Bryan. Robo-Reagan is aghast that they are failing the Bechdel test by fighting over a boy. Reagan agrees and tells her to talk about something else. Robo-Reagan brings up the weather, Reagan affirms they've passed, and they resume the fight.
- Brought up by Alison Bechdel herself in The Simpsons in the episode "Springfield Splendor", where she's guest starring as herself in a convention panel for female creators of comics. Marge's reaction to hearing about the Bechdel test:
Marge: That's so interesting. I'll have to tell my husband about that.
- In the Rick and Morty episode "Never-Ricking Morty", Morty has to come up with an improvised story that passes the Bechdel test in order to save Rick's life (somehow). In the story, Beth and Summer (Morty's mother and sister) drink tea while talking about their heavy "special time", all while avoiding referencing the existence of males in any possible way (for example, at one point, the two are attacked by scorpions, and Beth specifically states that they're all female scorpions).
- While she didn't call it by name, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic creator Lauren Faust referenced this trope, claiming that a focus on romantic plots and subplots is what ruins a lot of girl's shows.
- This blog references the Bechdel Test as it relates to Disney animated movies. It claims Disney movies tend to pass more than Pixar films. Many Disney films have two female characters interacting about something other than a man, but fail to pass the test due to one of the parties being an animal.
- This article explains why so few movies pass the test lately, identifying it as a systemic problem that has its roots in what Hollywood producers believe about women and their difficulty with the characterization of women in general.
- Several Swedish arthouse cinemas use the Bechdel test to give an indication of the level of gender bias in films, similar to warnings about films containing violence, sex, language etc.
- This blog applies the Bechdel test to every movie featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Slightly more than 50% of the films passed the test.
- This article applies the Bechdel Test to Star Trek. Unsurprisingly, Star Trek: The Original Series has the lowest passrate (7.5%); somewhat surprisingly, Star Trek: Enterprise, a prequel made 50 years later, has the second-lowest (39%). This is probably because these two series only went from The Smurfette Principle, with only one female on the main cast for TOS (Nichelle Nichols as Uhura) to Two Girls to a Team for Enterprise (Linda Park as Hoshi Sato and Jolene Blalock as T'Pol). Star Trek: Voyager has the highest (86.9%), and also the only season to have a 100% passrate (season 5); whether by coincidence or not, it was also the only series at time of writing with a female captain, Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway (it has since been joined by Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Lower Decks, both of which similarly pass with flying colors).
- This article applies the test to modern-era Doctor Who. 80% of episodes pass: 85% under Russel T. Davies and 75% under Steven Moffat. Series 3 and 4 each had only one episode that failed the test (for S3, "The Shakespeare Code" was put to a vote, and 53% of people said it didn't pass).
- FiveThirtyEight.com did an article on finding The Next Bechdel Test on the idea that there are other important metrics to examine when trying to encourage better representation of women in film.
- Conservative film critic Kyle Smith wrote an article which criticized the importance of the Bechdel Test and dismissed it as meaningless. Unfortunately, he also (probably unintentionally) insulted female writers, claiming they're solely or mostly focused on romance, that their movie ideas are not commercial enough and implies that women have made little or no contribution in the sci-fi/fantasy community. This led to a fair bit of backlash and spawned a number of counter articles that pointed out how he was wrong on multiple accounts.
- Author John C. Wright criticized the test, pointing out that several pieces of classic literature would not make the cut. At the same time, he seems to misunderstand what the point of the test actually is, believing it was test of literary quality, rather than being about female representation and characterization outside of their male counterparts.