Pop Cultural Osmosis

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
    (Redirected from Popcultural Osmosis)
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    "Welcome to the American Museum of Pop Culture, with artifacts dating as far, far, back... as six months ago."

    Joel McHale, The Soup

    Classics, almost by definition, are works that are considered to be of high quality, are influential on later works, and are widely known. However, one will often find that only scholars and enthusiasts have first-hand knowledge of the material in question, and that the masses know it either only by title or by homages, parodies, direct references and allusions found in more populist works. Essentially, various bits and pieces of high culture are most widely known through their use in pop culture. Ill-informed people might even think these bits and pieces are original to the popular work, and -nine times out of ten - that's terrible.

    Pietà Plagiarism exists because of this phenomenon. Most artists would be copying some other usage than the sculpture.

    Frequently results in Beam Me Up, Scotty, It Was His Sled, and Covered Up.

    Compare Memetic Mutation, Older Than They Think, Weird Al Effect, Seinfeld Is Unfunny, Small Reference Pools, The Theme Park Version, Repurposed Pop Song, Praising Shows You Don't Watch, It Was His Sled.

    Contrast Pop Cultural Osmosis Failure (when someone doesn't get the reference).

    Compare/Contrast Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch.

    Examples of Pop Cultural Osmosis include:

    Anime and Manga

    • Fans of Neon Genesis Evangelion can generally sing along with "Fly Me to the Moon" without knowing the original artist, or even one of the dozens of famous American artists who covered it in the four decades before NGE came out.

    Comic Books

    • This might be happening to Batman, if YouTube comments are to be believed.

    Random viewer on the Joker from Batman: The Animated Series: That's not the Joker, he doesn't even have the scars!

    • Donald Duck (& Co.). The Disneyverse is simply filled with retold classics, movie and music references and the like, providing lots of kids their first contact with greek myths, Shakespeare's plays, classical history, etc.


    • The 1925 Russian film Bronenosets Potyomkin, usually called Battleship Potemkin in English-language sources, is generally considered hugely influential on later cinema. There is a particular scene set on some stairs leading down to the harbour in Odessa which has been imitated several times, including in The Untouchables and one of the Naked Gun films. It is reasonable to assume that, in modern times at least, more people who are not cineasts will have seen these homages/parodies than have seen the original film.
      • Another example that might be more familiar to younger audiences is the scene in Revenge of the Sith where post-Face Heel Turn Anakin/Vader marches at the head of a stormtrooper column into the Jedi Temple.
    • By now, a notable percentage of the people who reference Citizen Kane as a cinema classic and could recognize the opening scene from any one second of footage have actually never seen the film and wouldn't be able to identify any other line, shot or sequence from the whole movie (okay, maybe one).
      • Considering It's Been Done several times over, most people are bound to recognize the majority of the movie, they just won't realize it's Citizen Kane.
      • The Simpsons might be the biggest perpetrator, as one of the writers said you could probably recreate the plot of the movie using clips from the show.
    • People these days seem to think that "Klaatu Barada Nikto" is that funny nonsense line from Sam Raimi's horror comedy Army of Darkness (1992) (aka The Evil Dead 3). Actually, it's from the black-and white sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), where the sentence is used to stop Gort, the powerful invincible robot of the alien Klaatu, from destroying the Earth as punishment for the humans killing his peaceful master.
    • Same goes for Ridley Scott's dystopian cyberpunk movie Blade Runner (1982), tangentially based on Philip K. Dick's bizarre novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" (1968). Forget William Gibson's famous cyberpunk novel Neuromancer (1984). Forget The Matrix (1999) with its Hong-Kong martial art style. Forget Cyberpunk 2020 and Shadowrun RPG. Forget all the movies about clones and androids on the run. They wouldn't have been there without Blade Runner. And Japanese anime cyberpunk series like Ghost in the Shell SAC might never have penetrated into the Western geek consciousness without the blending of Western and Asian culture in Blade Runner.
      • Gibson, at least, is up front about this. He has said that he walked out of Blade Runner in tears, because there was his world, already on screen, when the novel was still in the writing phase. He was almost overjoyed when it tanked.
      • The reimagined Battlestar Galactica is also heavily inspired by Blade Runner. In fact, the reason Edward James Olmos signed on for what was originally supposed to be a minor one-off miniseries on the Sci-Fi channel is because it reminded him of Blade Runner. And, really, he would know.
      • Both Gibson and Scott were heavily inspired by the work of French graphic artist Moebius, specifically The Long Tomorrow and The Incal (the later written by Alejandro Jodorowsky), with their noirish plots and dense, impossibly high metropoflis cris-crossed with flying cars and bridges. Moebius' depiction of a future that was as dirty and lived in as the real world was also a huge influence on Star Wars. His scenes are often directly homaged as well, particularly the famous opening shot of The Incal. Moebius contributed directly to the design of Alien, so even people who don't know his name recognize his influence.
      • Ghost in the Shell (1989) is actually tightly connected to Shirow's earlier work Appleseed (1986), which revolves about artificial human servants possibly getting out of control.
      • There have been flying cars in movies at least from 1950s, if not earlier. Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) is probably the first to show similar scenery on the silver screen, though it still used planes with wings, but the massive megacity with flying vehicles was made the setting for a science fiction film in that moment.
      • And the flying cars in The Fifth Element were a homage to French Valerian comics, with Corben's taxi's design almost entirely lifted from a similar vehicle flown by a flamboyant cabbie S'traks in the crowded skies of industrial planet Rubanis. Mézières (the creator of Valerian) actually worked on the production design of The Fifth Element, along with Moebius, mentioned above as having inspired some of the works which in turn influenced The Fifth Element.
    • 2001: A Space Odyssey when they hear the fanfare from Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra". Although some people just go "Woooooooooooo" in response to that one.
      • In Germany this may be known from commercials of a certain beer brand. (Seriously, they already used it for decades, and still use it... talk about Brand Recognition!) They even dared to remix it
      • Russians are mostly familiar with this theme through the game show What? Where? When?
    • As famous as the 1932 classic Freaks is, many more people are familiar with the parodies and allusions to its "One of us! One of us!" scene out of context. What's more, in these parodies, the phrase often comes off as threatening, the direct opposite of how it's played in the film (although the recipient sees it as such).
    • Due to his habit of pastiching rather obscure movies, Quentin Tarantino is perhaps responsible for more Popcultural Osmosis than any other mainstream filmmaker.
    • Speaking of Chiba, anyone who's seen the 1976 classic Karate Warriors knows that people had been merging slow motion captures seamlessly into jump cuts decades before 300 came around.
    • "Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!" Despite being quoted (albeit, incorrectly) and parodied in pop culture for decades, most people have no idea this line is a reference to the Humphrey Bogart film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, often attributing its origins to Blazing Saddles instead. However, without the understanding that the line in the latter film is intended to be a parody of the former, the joke itself does not make sense. (The actual, original quote from the film goes, "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!")
      • Some don't even attribute it to Blazing Saddles. It also pops up in UHF as "We don't need no stinkin' badgers!"
      • The line is only misquoted in regards to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. It is correct in the Blazing Saddles context. So people are quoting Saddles but they may not understand where the joke comes from to begin with.
    • The new Star Trek movie has instantly recognizable characters, themes and objects—even for those who have never seen a Star Trek episode in their life.
    • Many people associate the line "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum." with Duke Nukem rather than with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's character in They Live!.
    • The Valkyries rode helicopters (Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries").
      • The famous scene in Apocalypse Now where Colonel Kilgore says, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning.", is actually a lot longer than people care to remember making it a cause of Beam Me Up, Scotty.
    • There probably aren't that many people who, thanks to Fantasia, wouldn't think of dinosaurs when listening to "Rite of Spring".
    • That song that everybody associates with clown cars and elephants? The one that goes doot-doot-doodle-doo-dah-doot-doot-doo-dah? Enter the Gladiators.

    Hypothetical Roman announcer at the Coliseum: And now, in this corner, Brutus the Destroyer! (calliope music)



    • The Bible is the grand-daddy of this trope, with sayings like "there's nothing new under the sun" and references to Pillars of Salt and the like existing in almost every medium, though very few people have actually read the Book in question (people who go to Church will have heard excerpts).
    • "Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings" is a funny case in that hardly anyone remembers where it comes from. The educated guess seems to be Fahrenheit 451, which doesn't use it. Heinrich Heine said it in his play, Almansor. He was commenting on the burning of the Qur'an during the Spanish Inquisition.
      • This, however, only applies to the English-speaking world. In Germany, the original German quote[1] is generally associated with the Nazi book burnings in 1933.
    • "April is the cruellest month." Quick - name which poet wrote that, and the name of the poem.[2]
    • How many people do you know who can recite any part of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" besides "Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore.' "
      • "Come here, ya little raven!"
      • Oh, come on. Most people can at least give you "Once upon a midnight dreary". Getting past that...not so much. ("As I pondered, weak and weary/over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore")
    • Behind Shakespeare and the Bible, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is probably the biggest sufferer of this trope. The novel draws heavily on contemporary Gothic horror, feminist theories, and Paradise Lost. And yet when most people think of Frankenstein...
    • It's impossible to list all the comic books, novels, fantasy horror movies, roleplaying games, video games, fantasy/Sci-Fi art and music videos that feature blatant rip-offs, allusions, homages, parodies or additions to H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos tales.
      • Most people nowadays likely associate Arkham Asylum with Batman.
      • Problem Sleuth and Homestuck both feature monsters that clearly resemble Lovecraft's elder gods. The author, Andrew Hussie, has outright stated that he's never read a word of Lovecraft, and based his monsters entirely on secondhand references to the Cthulhu mythos.
    • You've probably encountered the tropes the Horatio Hornblower series popularized long before you ever heard of the series itself.
      • And that obscure little work of fiction got a Shout-Out in the episode "Smile Time" of Angel, with a purple stuffed thing that communicates via a horn on it's face named Horatio. It's likely you didn't get the joke.
    • "Ask not for whom the bell tolls." You've heard that pithy phrase, usually said when someone else is in trouble, but who said it? How about "No man is an island" ? Well, they both came from the same paragraph of the the same essay, but missing the context.
    "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
    —Excerpted from Meditation XVII by John Donne (1623 - he was contemplating his own death at the time)

    Live-Action TV

    • Monty Python's Flying Circus has done a similar takeover of John Philip Sousa's march The Liberty Bell.
    • Pop culture even has a habit of obscuring itself. Adam Savage of MythBusters is frequently credited for the quote, "I reject your reality and substitute my own!" Actually, the line originated from the 1985 So Bad It's Good film The Dungeonmaster (Ragewar outside of the US).
    • More people know "The Ballad of Brisco County Junior" from NBC's coverage of the Olympics than from the original show.


    • Everything by John Philip Sousa has become used in commercials and TV shows without much understanding behind them. Most notably the The Washington Post March and The Stars & Stripes Forever.
    • A large proportion of British people hearing In The Hall Of The Mountain King would be surprised to find out that it wasn't, in fact, written as the Alton Towers theme song.
    • Similarly, the first movement of Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata is better known to many 8-bit-era gamers as "the title music to Jet Set Willy".
    • Play the Russian folk song "Korobeiniki" to anyone in the world, except Russians, and they are almost certain to identify it as video game music. Specifically, the Tetris theme.
    • The song "Anything Goes" actually does not come from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It's an authentic show tune of the period (from a Cole Porter musical of the same name) and, by the way, normally sung in English.
    • Likewise, "Puttin' on the Ritz" did not originate from Young Frankenstein. Similarly, its close musical cousin, concerning the naming history of Istanbul, was not originally by They Might Be Giants.
      • For that matter, "Puttin' on the Ritz" was not originally performed by Fred Astaire he just sang it in Blue Skies.
        • In case you were wondering it was originally performed by Harry Richman in the film of "Puttin' on the Ritz" (you would think the name was a dead give away).
      • You mean, it wasn't an '80's hit by Taco?
    • Many people know the "Love Theme" from Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture only from its use in innumerable TV shows (South Park, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) and movies (Wayne's World, Clueless) to show that someone has fallen in Love At First Sight.
      • Oh! You mean the romantic kiss song from the first The Sims game?
    • Just try listening to "Hoedown" from Aaron Copland's Rodeo without thinking "Beef: It's What's For Dinner."
      • Or Emerson, Lake And Palmer.
    • The BBC's use of Booker T. & The MGs', "Soul Limbo". Also known as the Cricket music.
      • Fleetwood Mac's outro to "The Chain", otherwise known as the Formula One Racing music.
    • [[Singin' in the Rain] did this to most of the songs in the movie, most notably the title tune which was a standard song to be sung by aspiring actors in film in the '20s, '30s and '40s.
    • Ke$ha's hit "Take it Off" is a pop version of "The Streets of Cairo" (the song usually associated with snake-charming in pop-culture).
    • Like the aforementioned "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple, there are some other classic rock songs with their sound familiar to a lot of "uninitiated" people by exposure through radio, commercials etc. Tracks like "Break On Through to the Other Side" by The Doors, "Jammin'" by Bob Marley, "Born to Be Wild" (from the soundtrack of the film Easy Rider) by Steppenwolf.
    • Know what the song "Spybreak!" sounds like? How about if I tell you it's the song that plays during the lobby shootout scene in The Matrix? If you already did, did you even know who the Propellerheads were before you did the research? Said movie came out two years after the song.
    • Many people seem to have found out about "Surfin' Bird" by The Trashmen from the Family Guy episode "I Dream of Jesus". Just take a look at this graph.
      • Spanish speaking viewers however may have found out about the song earlier back when it was sometimes played during the credits of Ah, qué Kiko (a spinoff of El Chavo del Ocho).
    • How many people under 25 or so can hear "The Final Countdown" without thinking of Arrested Development?
      • People from the Detroit Area have a different reaction to The Final Countdown, mostly identifying it as "The Pistons Intro Song."
      • Saints Row 2 fans will identify it as that awesome 80s song that will never, ever, ever, ever leave their head.
    • Utter the line "Right here, right now", and nearly anyone with associate it with Fat Boy Slim's song of that name, not the movie (Strange Days) it's sampled from.
    • For a certain generation in Britain, the lyrics to O Sole Mio will forever be "Just one Cornetto! Give it to meeeeee!"
    • Many Americans are undoubtedly familiar with "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here." Considerably fewer might be aware of the fact that the tune is from a Pirates of Penzance ditty called "Come, Friends Who Plow the Sea."
    • The "Polovetsian Dances" from Alexander Borodin's opera Prince Igor tend to be more commonly associated with Kismet and a certain Pine-Sol commercial these days.

    Newspaper Comics

    • Calvin and Hobbes: In the 10th Anniversary Collection, Bill Watterson admits that he's "not at all familiar with Film Noir or detective novels", so the stories featuring Calvin's Hardboiled Detective alter ego Tracer Bullet are "just spoofs on the clichés of the genre."

    Professional Wrestling


    • An example so classic, jokes about it pre-date the concept of this trope: a wit from the 1960s noted this definition of a "longhair" (a person of culture): "he can hear the William Tell Overture and not think of the Lone Ranger." The piece of music referred to is from the Rossini Opera William Tell. The dramatic fanfare and thundering string section from the overture was used as the theme music for The Lone Ranger radio drama and then in movies and on television.
    • "The Shadow knows". Yeah, great, what does that mean, exactly?

    Recorded and Stand Up Comedy

    • A Night at the Opera has ruined Il trovatore for many people. Just try to hear the Anvil Chorus without thinking of Chico and Harpo after you've seen it...

    "A battleship in Il trovatore?!!

    • The "Mahna Mahna" song does not originate from The Muppet Show, or even Sesame Street, but rather an Italian soft-core porn film disguised as a documentary.
    • Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain has unfortunately become known as either the theme music for a comic nemesis, or that scene in Fantasia that scarred generations of children.
      • Hey, they stole that from Earthworm Jim!
      • The opening was used in the Maxell "Break The Sound Barrier" ad.
    • Countin' the Beat by the Swingers is known to a generation of Australians as the Kmart theme song.
    • Many talk shows cause this, from Rush Limbaugh with "My City Was Gone" by The Pretenders, to Rachel Maddow with "Stealing the Stock" from the Ocean's Twelve soundtrack.
    • The song called "The Merry Go Round Broke Down" created by Cliff Friend and Dave Franklin is better remembered as the music for the Looney Tunes theme song, Daffy Duck sings a more complete version of the song with different lyrics in "Daffy and Egghead".
      • Additionally, Eddie Cantor's "Merrily We Roll Along" is better remembered as the Merrie Melodies theme.
    • Everyone's heard of "Smoke on the Water", but a lot fewer people know Deep Purple. Similarly, find anyone who would recognize any part of the song other than the famous intro. It'll be a lot harder.


    • Various bits from the works of William Shakespeare have been quoted, parodied, imitated and plagiarized too many times to count. Particularly notable are cases in which Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy is confused with the "Alas, poor Yorick" one, leading to an actor reciting the former while holding the prop skull that belongs in the latter. There's a fair amount of Beam Me Up, Scotty at work, too: "Alas poor Yorick, I knew him" often has a "well" added to the end in pop culture.
      • Orsino's opening line of "If music be the food of love, play on," from Twelfth Night is often assumed to be quite romantic and/or demonstrative of a love of art. Very few include the rest of the quote: "Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,/The appetite may sicken, and so die."
      • A particularly egregious example is the way in which Juliet's speech "Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" usually has a spurious comma added after the "thou", completely changing the meaning. "Wherefore" actually stands in the same relationship to "therefore" as "where" does to "there"; it doesn't mean "where", it means "why". Juliet is not wondering where Romeo is as commonly supposed, but is speaking to him and asking the reason for his name.
        • She is not actually speaking to him, he is listening to her as she rants to herself about why Romeo Montague is his name, as in, why does he have to be a part of the one family that her family is not on friendly terms with.
        • Also, the name of the play being used to mean an ideal romance other than the ludicrously over-emotional and too-fast mess that the play portrays it as.
      • Romeo And Juliet itself is not a Shakespeare original, but based on an even older Italian novella. Few of Shakespeare's plays (possibly none) had original plots.
        • This makes it even funnier to watch the bits in Shakespeare in Love where Will is trying to work out how the story will end.
      • 'Now is the winter of our discontent' is often said as a negative rather than the happy occasion it is 'made glorious summer by this sun of York"
        • As Richard is the one who says the line, it is rather bitter/sarcastic
    • Gilbert And Sullivan's "I am the very model of a modern major general" has been spoofed in so many cartoons, movies, and what have you, that everyone recognizes it, several people don't realize this until it's referenced in Mass Effect 2.
    • How many people quote lines from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's play Faust and especially the following Faust II (Faust, der Tragödie Zweiter Teil) without knowing where it's originally from?
    • Similarly, many people have heard this line from Christopher Marlowe's The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus: "Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships." However, many people today only know it either from the Star Trek episode "The Squire of Gothos", or Shakespeare in Love.
    • Actor Gustaf Gründgens' famous performances as Mephisto, with sinister stark white make-up, black eye shadow and sharply upturned eyebrows, have definitely influenced later depictions of the devil in visual media.

    Video Games

    • World of Warcraft is absolutely the king of this, being both Troperrific and jam-packed with Shout-Outs to damn near everything under the sun. From music/bands, novels, films and TV shows, and other video games, from the popular to the extremely obscure, if you name a piece of media, chances are pretty good that WoW has referenced it. This naturally leads to a great deal of Older Than They Think, particularly for the younger and more...culturally unaware in the fandom. This even applies to the Warcraft franchise itself, since the MMO contains many mythology gags which are shout outs to the older RTS games, and other Blizzard games. Just look at this list for examples. Beyond the references, gameplay elements themselves are victims to this, since WoW is the 800 lb gorilla of the MMO genre. Fan Dumb often accuses other games of "ripping off" WoW features, when those other games had them first.
      • Similarly with StarCraft when Dawn of War came out there were plenty of Starcraft fans accusing it of ripping off Starcraft.
        • Interesting example in that Dawn of War's source material is older than Starcraft, but it's gameplay mechanic is not, making this Fan Dumb half of the time.
        • ...except that the mechanics they share are basic elements of the genre that were invented in Dune 2 by Westwood, and the two are as far apart in gameplay as two RTSs can be.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Many people didn't know what an ocarina was before this game was released. They were fairly popular in Japan before the game was released, but in 1998, ocarina makers were suddenly inundated with orders for sweet potato (aka transverse) ocarinas. No, the little four-hole wooden ones wouldn't do. They had to be the 10-hole ceramic kind. And they had to be blue. Many music stores were sold out and couldn't figure out why.
    • Many Western gamers assume that Guitar Freaks (or any long-running Japanese rhythm game) ripped off Guitar Hero. Guitar Freaks has been around since 1999; Guitar Hero wasn't released until 2005.
    • People unfamiliar with the Touhou series will automatically assume that "U.N. Owen was her?" is called "McRolled" all thanks to a viral video much to the annoyance of fans who hate that name.
      • Even worse, someone posted a remix of "U.N. Owen Was Her?" as John Stump's "Death Waltz", causing much confusion between both songs.[3]
    • The main character in Pokémon Red and Blue is named Red. But he's often called Ash by people more familiar with the anime.
    • This is pretty common in Super Mario World ROM hacks and Mario fan games in general since some of the more well known ones use resources from obscure Japanese RPGs people likely haven't heard of (Romancing SaGa, Live a Live and Seiken Densetsu 3 being some examples) and as a result some people tend to associate said resources with the fan game/hack rather than the original SNES one. Such as how many people don't know that things like the Mirage Palace and Dark Castle are from Seiken Densetsu 3 and not Brutal Mario, or that the 7 koopalings boss is a parody of the final boss in Romancing SaGa 2. This can lead to awkwardness if people assume any resources from these games are plagarised.

    Western Animation

    • Many famous pieces of classical music have been hijacked by Looney Tunes and other (usually older) animated sequences, and are many people's only exposure to such works. Many people still have the urge to sing "Kill the Wa-bbit" along to Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries", thanks to Elmer Fudd's memorable version in the classic Bugs Bunny short What's Opera, Doc? And the use of a romanticized version of the Pilgrims' Chorus when Bugs enters on horseback, dressed as Brunnhilde, and fools Elmer/Thor (he used the same entrance, music and disguise with equal success against Hermann Goerring in a wartime cartoon).
      • 30 Rock had an episode where it's revealed Liz's cell phone ringtone is "Ride of the Valkyries", resulting in this exchange:

    Phoebe: Oh, you like Wagner.
    Liz: No, I like Elmer Fudd.

      • Looney Tunes also stole heavily from "The William Tell Overture" by Rossini, to the point where almost every major theme in the piece has been used in some cartoon. For a lot of those, it's via another reference—see below.
        • And Rossini suffers again in Rabbit of Seville, this time with the overture for the Barber of Seville.
      • How many people can listen to Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody no.2 and not be thinking of a cartoon at the same time?
        • Dance of the Reed Flutes: Are you thinking of Cadbury's Fruit and Nut or Lemmings?
        • Similar to the above with Dance of The Sugar-Plum Fairy for Tetris - although "Korobeiniki" (see further down this page) is even more strongly associated with it.
        • Before Fantasia 2000, most people would associate Rhapsody in Blue with United Airlines.
        • The Theme from Peter Gunn was composed for the TV series Peter Gunn, in 1958.
        • Felix Mendelssohn's "Spring Song" has probably been heard and remembered more from old cartoons than from the concert hall or recordings.
      • Likewise, if you've heard of the turn-of-the-century song "Hello, Ma Baby", it was probably from One Froggy Evening.
        • Or perhaps even Spaceballs, which seems to have used it in reference to One Froggy Evening. It's even the same recording of the song!
      • Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse" is inextricably linked to assembly-line montages thanks to Looney Tunes.
      • You know the theme song to the old Road Runner cartoons? That's actually the Dance of the Comedians from Smetana's "Bartered Bride". See for yourself.
      • Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner come from Native American Mythology.
      • How about The Merry Go Round Broke Down for the Looney Tunes theme song?
      • The character Foghorn Leghorn was based on the character Senator Beauregard Claghorn, from Fred Allen's Allen's Alley radio program.
    • "Sing, Sing, Sing", originally by Louis Prima, played most famously by Benny Goodman, is known to a whole generation of eighteen-to-twenty-somethings as "the Chips Ahoy song".
    • Woody Woodpecker's laugh is so universally recognized, that some people even forget where the Annoying Laugh to rule them all came from in the first place.
    • Some young adults are reminded of Hey Arnold! when they hear music from Carmen or "Ride of the Valkyries" thanks to the episode "What's Opera Arnold"?
      • The name of episode itself is obviously a shout-out to the well known Bugs Bunny short What's Opera, Doc?
    • The animated Saturday morning show The Smurfs used nothing but clips of classical music for mood and theme setting.
    • Futurama has an example in the boy from the pair of Victorian dressed Street Urchin children who are recurring characters. They are clearly meant to evoke Charles Dickens, as his crutch is identical to that famously used by A Christmas Carol‍'‍s Tiny Tim, although what the writers seem to have missed was that Tiny Tim was not one of Dickens' urchin characters. Then again, it's Futurama; it was probably on purpose.
      • Lampshaded again in Futurama, as the Fungineers who designed the Moon Landing 'historical' recreation with singing whale hunters as astronauts have certainly gotten their historical facts through popcultural osmosis.
        • Fungineering as a whole seems to be based on a massive foundation of Memetic Mutation.
      • Another one from Futurama is simply the theme song. Most people associate it with the series, but it's actually just a slightly tweaked version of part of the Maurice Bajart ballet Mass for our time. The original was written back in 1967 by experimental composer Pierre Henry and is entitled "Psyche Rock".
    • Speaking of Fantasia, there's likely not a soul on Earth who doesn't associate "L'apprenti sorcier" by Paul Dukas with Mickey Mouse.
      • Or take "Dance of the Hours" from Ponchielli's ballet La Gioconda. When you hear it, you'll either think of the dancing hippos from Fantasia, or you'll start singing, "Hello Muddah, hello Fadduh, here I am at Camp Granada..." (Allan Sherman's well-known funny song). Or both.
    • The lines from the hooker in Full Metal Jacket have been incorrectly credited to both Family Guy and South Park.
      • People of a certain age will probably first think of the 2 Live Crew song "Me So Horny".
        • Or Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back", which similarly references the line.
    • The Ren and Stimpy Show‍'‍s soundtrack was made up almost entirely of classical and jazz music.
    • Many kids today will hear old Hawaiian standards only to think they first came from SpongeBob SquarePants.
    • In the Henry and June segments on KaBlam!, kids might think that the ska background music originated from the show, but they're really just instrumental versions of songs by The Toasters.
    • Animaniacs tackles this head-on during a segment about Michelangelo.

    Narrator (after four masked turtles hop out of a sewer pipe): I'm afraid popular culture as successfully eradicated the actual identities of the true poets of art. In my opinion, it stinks!...And now for a brief reality check. Michelangelo was a brilliant artist. Not a turtle.

    1. „Dies war ein Vorspiel nur, dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.“ - "That was but a prelude; there where you burn books, you'll burn humans as well in the end."
    2. TS Eliot, The Waste Land
    3. The remix is merely really complex, while the actual Death Waltz is impossible to play and entirely unrelated to "U. N. Owen"