Also Sprach Zarathustra

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Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spake Zarathustra) is a tone poem composed by Richard Strauss in 1896 (named after the book by Friedrich Nietzsche). The melody of the "Sunrise" movement is undeniably epic, so it's a perfect way to tell the audience, "This is where you're supposed to be impressed."

Stanley Kubrick certainly thought so, and used "Also Sprach Zarathustra" as a Leitmotif for several key scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It worked. In fact, it worked so well that these days the composition is better known as "that song from 2001" than by its own name.[1]

Consequently, usage of the composition as a Standard Snippet seem to have been eclipsed by its usage as an Homage or Affectionate Parody of 2001. It's also far more likely to emphasize something painfully mundane than to be used straight. (Arguably, the only place it's been used straight since 2001 was in 2010: The Year We Make Contact.)

Also see The Monolith.

Compare "Ride of the Valkyries".

Any resemblance to The Three Stooges' "Hello... hello... hello! Hello," is probably coincidental. Not to be confused with the third game in the Xenosaga trilogy, also titled Also Sprach Zarathustra. (All 3 games are titled after Nietzsche's works.)

Uses of Also Sprach Zarathustra in other works:


  • "In the beginning, there was one. Now there's two -- Barqtoos II!" They had to up the tempo a bit in accordance with the short attention span expected of ad viewers.
  • Used in a radio ad for a hardware store in Montreal.
  • Rogers commercials tend to use this as well.
  • A pizza commercial (if he recalls) had the surrounding family playing this while opening the pizza box. The Stinger had this Incredibly Lame Pun:

Mother: No oboes on the table.
(twin daughters lower oboes to the floor)

  • Used for Master Builders Australia radio advertisements.


  • The opening to the Axis Powers Hetalia anime uses a similar motif in its opening sequence.
  • In a Clip Show episode of Samurai Champloo, one original scene has Mugen arguing with an old samurai master, with his spiked hair rising sun-like over the latter's bald head to the theme from 2001.
  • In Skip Beat!, episode 24, the music is played when Bo (Kyoko in disguise) and Ren stares angrily at each other.
  • Used in Sora no Manimani for a Mundane Made Awesome moment.
  • Plays in episode 11 of Sora no Otoshimono when Tomoko is about to sneak into the girl's locker room.
  • Used in episode 20 of Kaleido Star, to present the first show that Yuri directs.


  • As mentioned above, 2001: A Space Odyssey is the Trope Codifier. It's particularly amusing to note that the most dramatic part of the score is not for the title or the on-screen vista, but for the appearance of Kubrick's name.
    • Its use in 2001 is rather apropos. The main theme of Nietzsche's book was the "Übermensch", which was what Dave Bowman becomes when this music plays at the end of the film.
    • It appears again in 2010: The Year We Make Contact.
  • In Catch-22, it is used to properly introduce a hot Italian chick.
  • Used in WALL-E, when the Captain becomes the first human in centuries to stand up.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, complete with a giant bar of chocolate of similar dimensions taking the place of The Monolith.
  • In the Buzz Lightyear video game at the beginning of Toy Story 2, the hover-platforms over the bottomless chasm play this melody as Buzz leaps across them.
    • Which fall immediately after the melody is finished.
  • Disney's My Favorite Martian.
  • Used in Magnolia to introduce Tom Cruise's character. In this case, it is diegetic sound, chosen by his pompous character.
  • Zoolander used it in comedy homage to 2001 when Derek and Hansel were trying to figure out how to turn on Mugatu's computer. As the computer's workings confound them, their behavior grows increasingly ape-like, culminating in Hansel grabbing an appropriately-shaped bone that just happened to be nearby to smash the machine.
  • Being There: Slight variation, with Deodato's funk-jazz version of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" playing on the soundtrack as Chance makes his first journey into the city.
    • May possibly double as a subtle Actor Allusion hearkening back to Sellers' arguably most famous role(s) in Dr. Strangelove, directed by Mr. Stanley '2001' Kubrick himself.
  • Parodied in Spaceballs (of course): "Spaceball One has become... [cut to kettle-drum player, who plays the obligatory measures] Mega Maid"
  • Parodied in Hot Stuff. Briefly, the movie is about a police sting operation, focusing on capturing thieves. The police involved in the actual sting set up a pawnshop, and due to a distinct lack of support from their department supervisors, have to bankroll the operation by actually selling some of the items people have sold them. The theme comes about halfway through, when the police captain demands to see what they've actually accomplished with their 'little scheme', and they take him into the rear warehouse... which is stacked ten feet high with stolen goods and a crowing rooster, for some reason.
  • In Man on the Moon, Andy Kaufman's on-stage transformation from "Foreign Man" into a seriously good Elvis Presley impersonation was accompanied by this music.
  • Used in Ghostbusters 2, when they turn on the proton packs for the first time in years. Lampshaded by having the characters sing it themselves.
  • Used in Clueless, with a phone standing in for the monolith, when Cher is waiting for Christian to call her.
  • Used, possibly as a parody, in Turner And Hooch to introduce the titular dog. Suitably hilarious
  • Parodied near the beginning of History of the World, Part I (1981).
  • Used early on in Planet 51 when Charles Baker touches down from his spacecraft. He even hums it. And then he steps on a rubber ducky...
  • Used in Casino as the the theme of a flamboyant Show Within a Show and as an element of a Gilligan Cut made after the protagonist is asked for discretion.


  • Richard Dawkins once put together the Blind Watchmaker program as a sort of Cliff Notes evolution synthesizer. According to the book The Blind Watchmaker, when he began producing little monochrome 2D insects instead of the trees that were all he'd been expecting, he immediately thought of this music.

Live-Action TV

  • "Also Sprach Zarathustra" plays in the stereo in The Big Bang Theory when the nerds hook up their home electronics online. They proceed to Rock Out to it.
  • Doctors used it when Karen, who had been making efforts to eat healthily, finally snapped and tucked into a burger at a Greasy Spoon cafe.
  • In Frasier Roz suggests using it in her space documentary, Frasier suggests a different tune saying Also Sprach Zarathustra is too commonplace or a bit on the nose as Frasier puts it.
  • In Misfits, a jazzy version by Deodato plays when Nathan tries to swing himself off the meat hook. It doesn't work.
  • This piece was used in a montage of clips on America's Funniest Home Videos of babies and toddlers being spoonfed.
  • Appears in Stargate Universe. Volker tells Brody that it's his favorite piece of music. It is later played as Volker prepares to undergo a kidney transplant - Brody played it to comfort him. May be the first case of this music being used for a Crowning Moment Of Heartwarming.
  • The jingle accompanying Viacom's "V of Doom" Vanity Plate somewhat resembles it, and the logo itself echoes The Monolith.
  • A number of the musical themes in Power Rangers Time Force borrow from Also Sprach Zarathustra. Notably, it's the only Power Rangers series to have been nominated for an Emmy... for sound editing.


  • Ray Stevens' "Thus Cacked Henrietta" is this song done entirely in chicken clucks.
  • There is a version by the Portsmouth Sinfonia.
  • Rush used it as their intro tape during their tours for Counterparts and Test For Echo.
  • On at least one of her tours, Jann Arden would be backed by musicians from the orchestra of the city she was currently playing in. When she'd introduce them with her trademark humourous banter, she'd always ask the timpani player "can you play the '2001' theme on those things? Well of course you can, what else are they good for?"
  • Dream Theater used it for intro music in at least one of their live shows, such as several gigs of the "Chaos In Motion" (the promotional tour for Systematic Chaos) tour.
  • Similarly, Green Day used this as intro music during their 2005 American Idiot tour.
  • And let's not forget about the man who predated them all: Elvis Presley, who used it as his entrance music starting around 1972.
  • The motif is inserted into Doctor Steel's song "Spaceboy."
  • 70s artist Deodato made a funked up and jazzed up version of this using the classical recording.
  • In 1998, Blackout did a dance remix titled "Gotta Have Hope"
  • In 2001, Weirdo and Captain Tinrib made a hard trance remix

Professional Wrestling

  • Ric Flair has been using this as his entrance music since the late 1970s.
    • Causing wrestling fans to have an urge to WOOOOOOOOOOO every time they hear this song in any medium.


Tabletop Games

  • The Sandstone Hyren [dead link] in Magi Nation uses what is unmistakably an onomotopoeic version of the song as flavor text. Also, the card itself does have an ability called "Monolith..."


Video Games


Narrator Strong Bad: (to the tune of Also Sprach Zarathustra) Deeeead, deeeead, deeead, DEAD-DEEEAD! Dead, dead, dead, dead, dead...
(A monolith falls on the girl you chose)
Teen Girl: So artistic and boring!


Web Comics

  • Parodied in Questionable Content: Hannelore mentions one of the big drawbacks of living in a space station is having to listen to "Also Sprach Zarathustra" every time the sun rises.

Web Original


"And now, here it comes, the line you've all been waiting for..."


Western Animation

  • Beetlejuice
  • Used in the Futurama episode "Godfellas", when Bender floats into view, with a colony of Shrimpkins (and their brewery) living on him.
  • Used in a couch gag in The Simpsons where the camera zooms out from the house into space and into Homer's head, ending where it started.
    • Also parodied in Little Girl in the Big Ten. Long story short, it plays when Lisa is thrown off the roof of Springfield Elementary in a plastic bubble, landing in a massive cake and splattering Skinner with it.
    • Again, also parodied in Deep Space Homer at the end when Bart throws the marker pen in the air
  • Used in the episode "Illegal Booze" from a Finnish animated series Pasila in the scene the rioters suddenly get drunk despite not having had any alcohol.
  • Used to hilarious effect in the Beavis and Butthead episode "Inventors".
  • Used in Daria as the soundtrack to Charles "Upchuck" Ruttheimer III's bizarre multimedia project.
  • Used in the "Monolith" segements of The Electric Company revealing a letter dipthong or small word, subsequently pronounced by a deistic voice, directly referencing 2001.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, "Suited For Success", the opening of the song is used in Twilight Sparkle's introduction in the fashion show, complementing her starry-night dress.

Other Media

  • The old Lifespring Basic Training Program, back when they still gave it, used this music to convene every session.
  • This was played for the unavailing of the B-2. It was a sunny day and because of that nobody could see into the shadowed hanger that the plane was in, and as the song started the B-2 slowly rolled out into the light.

Real Life

  • Used as the entrance music for the University of South Carolina football team.
  • Likewise used when the teams take the field at Portsmouth Football Club's ground.



  1. Specifically, it was meant to symbolize the moment where mankind (or its proto-ape equivalent) achieved enlightenment -- first when apes figured out how to use tools, then when Bowman becomes the Starchild.