Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Satire is a form of humor, and is considered the cruelest form of comedy. Satire points out the folly of people, organizations, institutions, and ideas.

Often, satire will use fictional counterparts of real people as characters, as a Parody of Real Life. However, a satirical work can also use original characters to explore the foibles ramifications of an organization or course of action.

Satire often relies on current events and there is a danger that it won't be appreciated in another era. The poetry of Pope and Dryden satirized English politics of the 18th century, but few would appreciate the humor now. The best satire can still be appreciated on its own merits even after the thing it's criticizing fades from consciousness. Occasionally, a piece of satire regains relevance in similar circumstances; for example, satire aimed at George H. W. Bush (or, perhaps more justifiably, Richard Nixon) can often be easily applied to Bill Clinton.

The Roman poets Ennius and Lucilius are considered the progenitors of the genre, though almost all of their work has been lost. Latin satire was generally delivered in verse, like most literature of the time. It was considered the sole branch of literature native to Rome and there was no Greek equivalent, though some Greek comedy, such as Aristophanes, had elements that we would consider satiric. Horace, Persius, and Juvenal are perhaps the three most famous Roman satirists, ranging from good-natured (Horace disposing of a dreadful bore) to savage (Juvenal's condemnation of sodomites pretending to be philosophers). They are for the most part preoccupied with urban life, morality, and how other people suck.

Literary convention divides satire into the Horatian (good-natured, almost affectionate, light-hearted, and more likely to view the target as foolish rather than evil) and the Juvenalian (contemptuous, abrasive, scornful, and outraged, relentlessly mocking a target often regarded as outright evil).

See also Parody, Pastiche, Farce, Meta Trope Intro. Compare Deconstruction, as a lot of satire incorporates elements of it.

Examples of Satire include:

Anime and Manga


  • Superflat is a Po Mo art movement that was started by Takashi Murakami who was inspired by Hideaki Anno. It sometimes satirizes many aspects of Japan (particularly things sparked by Anime) such as consumerism, the prevalence of Kawaisa, Lolicon, and Fan Service along with the Otaku subculture that is the driving force behind all of them. However, since certain artists associated with Superflat are lolicon otaku themselves, it could also be seen as a form of self-parody. Furthermore, it should be noted that not all Superflat works are satirical in nature - Superflat Monogram, by Murakami and Mamoru Hosoda, for instance, is merely a Louis Vuitton commercial.
  • Dada was a Po Mo movement that was a satire of modern art and post-WWI malaise.
  • William Hogarth[context?]
  • James Gillray[context?]
  • Honoré Daumier[context?]

Comic Books


  • The movie The Player satirized Hollywood's crushing effect on the visions of individual artists as well as the kind of people that environment attracts.
  • Being There, which brought us Chance the Gardener, is a satire of the human tendency to favor style over substance and take things at face value, particularly where media and politics are concerned. Basically Horatian.
  • Cannibal Holocaust: It is the most sick, vile, twisted, bloody and most violent piece of satire ever made by a film director.
  • A Clockwork Orange is a satire of the battle against violence in society
  • Dr. Strangelove is one of the most well known satires of the Cold War, and of the foolishness of the nuclear arms race. An interesting case where Horatian techniques were put to a Juvenalian end.

"Mr. President, we must not allow... A MINE SHAFT GAP!"




  • The pornographic magazine Hustler uses satire to express Larry Flynt's beliefs and opinions. Almost always Juvenalian.

Live-Action TV

  • The Daily Show satirizes modern US and global news events, as does the Spin-Off, The Colbert Report. Whether their satire is Juvenalian or Horatian depends on the subject: Fox News Channel? Juvenalian (particularly when it comes to Glenn Beck). Barack Obama? Horatian. George W. Bush? Are we talking 2001-2006 or 2006-2009?[1] The rest of the media? What are they saying now? Etc., etc., etc.
  • Yes Minister satirized 1980s UK Governmental policy and decision-making. Generally Horatian with occasional dips into Juvenalian territory.
  • ...and its Spiritual Successor The Thick of It now[when?] satirises UK politics in the 21st century. Purely Juvenalian.
  • Brass Eye satirized the reporting methods of 90s UK news media as well as wider social and political issues. Out-Juvenals Juvenal himself.
  • Frontline satirized Australian current affairs programmes in the 1990s.
  • Have I Got News for You. Fittingly for the editor of Juvenalian satirical magazine Private Eye, Ian Hislop's contributions are toward the Juvenalian end of the scale, while Paul Merton tends more toward the Horatian end when he isn't making plays on words or indulging in surrealism and flights of fancy.
  • Mock the Week
  • Ugly Betty satirizes the fashion industry. Horatian.
  • Bewitched continually satirizes American conformity, consumerism, and racism. More or less Horatian, per the standards of the day.
  • Royal Canadian Air Farce satirized Canadian politics and current events and just about every other aspect of of Canadian life in its long run. It was something of a forerunner for Canadian television (although it ran for decades on radio first) and influenced the CBC in particular for a number of years
  • This Hour Has 22 Minutes is a satirical presentation of current events and was shown in a news format. In its early seasons, it was known for having strictly Newfoundland performers and a particularly eastern perspective on things; this has changed as the show has grown past its roots.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus
  • Spitting Image: satirizing politicians and other celebrities of the day


Newspaper Comics

  • The Dilbert comic strip is a satire of the corporate world. Mostly Horatian.
  • Calvin and Hobbes contains a variety of satire. Most often Calvin himself acts as satire of narrow-minded self-centeredness of people or the shallow ethos of the consumer society, sometimes other things. His father's behaviour is often satire of certain kind of parental behaviour. Both of them sometimes offer satire of hobbies taken too seriously (bicycling for Dad and chewing gum for Calvin). And there's more.


  • On his radio show, Howard Stern will satirize any number or things he doesn't care for, most notably the hypocrisies of Media Watchdogs.
  • Absolute Power, a BBC radio series was a satire on spin-doctoring in modern politics, and media manipulation. The Sound to Screen Adaptation shifted its focus: still satirizing media manipulation, but more in the context of the nature of celebrity.
  • Brian Gulliver's Travels is a six-part Setting Update of Gulliver's Travels on BBC Radio 4. It updates the satire to be about 21st century Britain, giving us, for example, Sham, the land of alternative therapies.
  • This Is That: Now defunct, it was the finest Horatian satire show on CBC Radio in the last half of the 2010s. (Admittedly, it was the only Horatian satire show on CBC Radio in the last half of the 2010s.)

Web Original

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons is one huge satire of late 20th and early 21st century Western society.
  • The more recent seasons of South Park usually use satire as their primary source of humor.
  • Futurama frequently satirizes aspects of modern life, from our waste and consumerism, technological evolutions to our short-sightedness to relentless and irritating evangelists.
  1. First period is mostly Juvenalian, thanks to the Iraq War, etc., while second period he was seen as more or less pathetic, and leaned more Horatian.