Waxing Lyrical

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

T-Rex: Hey Dromiceiomimus, do you think that I could be forgiven? I wish you would.
Dromiceiomimus: Aw no, not this again. Come on T-Rex, passing off lyrics as conversation ONLY AMUSES YOURSELF.

Who first sang that song?... Let's keep it that way.

Alice and Bob are talking, and you the viewer can't help but notice that there is something weird with Bob's dialogue. When he finishes speaking it turns out that Bob was using the lyrics to a well known song to make his point. Alternatively, Bob could have been singing, but the fact that the song was mainstream was hidden due to the fact that the song could have been reworked or sounded more appropriate to the character's situation than it actually was. Either way, the writers have made a joke by subtly slipping a popular song into the events of a show and then revealing it. Writers, like all people, just love to play with words.

This is a favorite trick of time-travelers or ambassadors to alien civilizations, who will break out song lyrics whenever they need to say something vaguely intellectual-sounding. This often seems to manifest as a game of duelling aphorisms with a local philosopher, who will always end up being impressed with such an obviously learned man. See I'm Mr. Future Pop Culture Reference.

Obviously, if the viewer knows the song well, they'll see the joke coming, but the joke is intended for a larger audience who are aware of the song but wouldn't know the lyrics by heart. If it appears in a children's show, it likely doubles as a Parental Bonus.

Waxing Lyrical is a supertrope to Song Fic in Fan Fiction. Not to be confused with That Reminds Me of a Song, "One Song To The Tune Of Another" or "singing the wrong lyrics".

Examples of Waxing Lyrical include:


  • "CRAAAAAAAWLIIIIIING IN MY SKIIIIIIN", the refrain of Linkin Park's "Crawling", has become a Stock Phrase for mocking Wangst. Sometimes it's followed by the next line: "these wounds, they will not heal". Or a paraphrase or snowclone of it.


  • This commercial by Nortel features a CEO giving a rather bizarre inspirational speech to his company, which turns out to be the Beatles' "Come Together".
  • One advert for Virgin Media has the narrator reciting the lyrics to "Our House" by Madness.

Comic Books

  • Near the end of Scott Pilgrim volume 5, Scott says to Ramona before she disappears, "I don't care who you are, or where you're from, or... what you did. As long as you love me."
  • There was a panel of Young Justice where the characters end up quoting "War" and lampshading it: "War?" "What is it good for?" "Absolutely nothing!" "I love that song." "It's a song?"
  • The following exchange between Deadpool and a night club owner:

Nightclub Owner: You got....you got powers right?
Deadpool: Oh yeah, I'm a superfreak.
Nightclub Owner: A super freak?
Deadpool: I'm super freakayyy.

Fan Works

He suddenly looked at them with an evil look in his eye and muttered Well If you wanted Honesty that’s all you haD TO SAY! .
“That’s not a spell that’s an MCR song.” I corrected him wisely.

  • A few mangled lines from songs are snuck into the dialogue in Decks Fall, Everyone Dies.
  • In Drunkard's Walk II, during a discussion about Doug's Pinball Gag combat (it's magic), one character asks "How do you think he does it?" and a second responds "I don't know." A third continues "What makes him so good?...Well, it's obvious that he's a pinball wizard. And that there has to be a twist." Neither of the other two gets it.


  • In Tropic Thunder, Kirk Lazarus quotes the theme song to The Jeffersons as part of an inspirational speech. He's immediately called out on it.

"Don't make it any less true."

  • Done deliberately throughout Moulin Rouge as part of the concept. Christian hastily composes a poem for Satine, and even before the music cues, it is clearly Elton John's "Your Song". Zidler tries to convince the Duke to stay with what, before the farce of a song starts, may be the most lascivious recital of lyrics from "Like A Virgin" I've ever heard. And the central theme of the story is simply the final line of Nat King Cole's "Nature Boy".
  • Mel Gibson's character in Conspiracy Theory uses "Everything you do is magic" lyrics to propose to his Love Interest—crash and burn too.
  • From School of Rock:
    • Jack Black's character, trying to bluff his way through a conversation with teachers while posing as a substitute, starts reciting snatches from Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All". Someone asks "Isn't that a song?", and he denies it.
    • His Rousing Speech concludes "We roll tonight to the guitar bite, and for those about to rock, I salute you", from ACDC's "For Those About to Rock".
  • XXX 2: State Of The Union:

Darius Stone: Wars come and go, but my soldiers stay eternal.
Gibbons: I like that. Who said it? Jefferson? Patton?
Darius Stone: Tupac Shakur.

Gingerbread Man: Do you know the Muffin Man?
Farquaad: The Muffin Man?
Gingerbread Man: The Muffin Man.
Farquaad: Yes... I know the Muffin Man. Who lives on Drury Lane?
Gingerbread Man: Well... she's married to the Muffin Man.
Farquaad: The Muffin Man?
Gingerbread Man: The Muffin Man!
Farquaad: She's married to the Muffin Man...

    • Also, there's this:

Donkey: You love this woman, don't ya?
Shrek: Yes.
Donkey: You wanna hold her?
Shrek: Yes.
Donkey: Please her?
Shrek: Yes!
Donkey: Then ya gotta, gotta try a little tenderness!

Alferd Packer: Hey, do you guys think it's true, that she's a trapper horse?
Frank Miller: A horse is a horse.
James Humphrey: Of course.
Alferd Packer: Of course.

  • Across the Universe does this multiple times with various Beatles songs, "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" being perhaps the most obvious.
  • In the made for TV Dinotopia movie, one of the castaway brothers (who really doesn't give a dang about the local ways and culture) uses the opening lyrics of Bohemian Rhapsody to answer an essay question regarding the meaning of a particular section of the Dinotopian philosophy. Afterwards, his teacher and a number of scholars are chattering about how deep it was.
  • This. Peter Sellers meets The Beatles in the land of Richard III.
  • A running gag in The Other Guys is Captain Mauch repeatedly quoting TLC lyrics. Gamble and Hoitz repeatedly attempt to call him out on it but he remains oblivious.
  • In Meet the Parents, when Greg is asked to say grace at dinner, he tries to improvise a prayer, and comes up with the lyrics to Day by Day from the musical Godspell.
  • In Roxanne, when asked to say something romantic, Chris quotes the opening lines to "Close to You" by The Carpenters, and is immediately called out on this.
  • In Easy A, Olive receives a greeting card that plays Natasha Bedingfield's "Pocketful Of Sunshine", and then the song becomes a huge Ear Worm for her. Later on, when she's lying to her best friend about having spent the weekend with a college boy, one of the lyrics slips into the conversation:

Olive: He's charming... You know, he's a real gentleman. You know, and it feels like - It feels like I got a love and I know that it's all mine.

  • In an odd example, all that's left of the "Admiral Boom" song in Mary Poppins is a wax lyrical from Bert.

Bert: The whole world gets its time from Greenwich. But Greenwich, they say, gets its time from Admiral Boom.

Pistachio: But, Papa, don't preach. I'm in trouble deep... and I'm keeping my baby.

Doughy: Whereas Hardy enjoys a minuet, ballet ruse and crepes suzette.
Hardy: Doughy likes to rock n roll, a hot dog makes him lose control.
Hagitha: What a wild duet.
Martina: Still they're cousins.
Dawson: Identical cousins.
Martina: They laugh alike.
Dawson: They walk alike.
Martina: At times they even talk alike.
Hagitha: And you can lose your mind.
Hardy: Shut up everybody! For god sakes, how many times do you think we've heard that in our lives.

  • In Charlies Angels: Full Throttle the Angels decide to pose as night club dancers.

Natalie: Do a little dance?
Dylan: Make a little love?
Alex: Get down tonight.

  • In Wrongfully Accused, Ryan tells off Cass, who's been romancing him but he suspects called the police on him:

Ryan: The Beatles said it best. She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, listen, Michelle ma belle, this nowhere man is the walrus, koo koo kachoo!


  • In the Arthur C. Clarke/Stephen Baxter book The Light of Other Days, about a society where privacy is becoming obsolete, a girl is seen wearing a T-shirt with the words 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town'. The protagonist doesn't know what it means, but she explains it to him later in case the reader didn't catch it: "He sees you when you're sleeping..."
  • Discworld:
    • Hogfather has some fun with the lyrics of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town": Quoth the Raven tells Susan "You'd better watch out"; Death, in his role as Hogfather, is able to ensure some kids see him, because I know when they are peeping, and he asks if checking the list twice is sufficient. In the same book, the magical and dizzyingly fast sleigh ride prompts Albert to mutter sarcastically "Oh, what fun."
    • And Soul Music. Oh, so very much.
    • In Thud!, Fred Colon comments on the trouble in Koom Valley with the immortal question "War, Nobby, huh. What is it good for"? Nobby Nobbs proceeds to try and come up with an answer.
  • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel The Eleventh Tiger, the Doctor and his companions are staying at a 19th century gongfu school. (Note that Ian and Barbara are from ten years before the song came out, but the Doctor clearly recognises the accidental reference):

[Ian:] "One minute those kids are just running around chaotically, but the next minute they're all focused, and everyone's kung-fu fighting."
"Those kids are as fast as lightning," Barbara added.
The Doctor raised an eyebrow. "Are they indeed? And was it, perchance, dear boy, a little bit frightening? Hmm?"

    • In the Fifth/Seventh team-up Cold Fusion, Chris Cwej is posing as an Australian, and describes living in a close-knit community in a sunny suburb, where everyone pops in and out of each others' houses, before concluding "With a little understanding, you can find the perfect blend and that's when good Neighbours become good friends". Real Australian Tegan doesn't get the reference, having come from a time before "Neighbours" began, but does spot he's talking nonsense.
    • And in the Eighth Doctor novel Camera Obscura, the Doctor quotes "All Along the Watchtower" while trying to escape a creepy Eldritch Location with a man who literally stole his heart:

‘“There must be some way out of here,’ said the joker to the thief”.’

    • Sabbath (the aforementioned thief) has his own moment of doing this, for no particular reason at all: he's usually The Stoic, and he's from the 18th century. But he gets into an alarmingly perky and cheerful mood and starts quoting from The Wizard of Oz.

"‘Because,’ said Sabbath. ‘Because because because because because. Because of the wonderful things I does.’"

"A horse?" he said again.
"Yes, it is," said the Professor. "Wait--" he motioned to Richard, who was about to go out again and investigate-- "let it be. It won't be long."
Richard stared in disbelief. "You say there's a horse in your bathroom, and all you can do is stand there naming Beatles songs?"

  • In The Book Of Awesome, the final two paragraphs of "Taking your shoes of on a long car ride" match the lyrics of Buddy Holly's Rollercoaster.
  • In The Dresden Files book Ghost Story, Dresden tries to console Molly by saying "for everything there is a season", but Molly cuts him off by telling him to stop quoting the Bible at her. Harry counters he was actually quoting the song Turn! Turn! Turn! (admittedly the latter is based on the former).

Live-Action TV

  • In the 2008 Good News Week season finale, host Paul McDermott laments on 2008 and eventually starts to sing a very slow song about it. His song includes lines "this was never the way I planned" and it sounds like he is singing regretfully about the year, until he gets to the chorus and it turns out that he is singing a very slow reworking of "I Kissed A Girl".
  • An ad for the TV show Bridezillas had the brides and their families getting ready for a fight and the family starts singing the song "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister.
  • From Absolutely Fabulous:

Eddy: Life is a mystery, we all must stand alone. I hear him call my name and it feels like home.
Saffy: That's lovely, who wrote it?
Eddy: Madonna, darling.

"Look at these human beings! Consider their potential! From the day we arrive on the planet, and blinking step into the sun... there's more to see than can ever be seen! More to do than -- no, hold on... sorry, that's The Lion King, but... The point still stands!"

    • Earlier, in The Three Doctors, The Doctor(Jon Pertwee) tries to explain the presence of his past self (Patrick Troughton) to Jo:

Third Doctor: It's really very simple, Jo. I am he, and he is me.
Jo: And we are all together, goo goo kachoo?
Third Doctor: What?
Jo: It's a song by the Beatles.
Second Doctor: Oh, really? How does it go?

JD: You should tell her about it. Tell her everything you feel.
Dr Cox: ...Should I give her every reason to accept that I'm for real?
JD: Hey! Billy Joel got me through high school.

    • In another episode Turk starts quoting the "Safety Dance" when Carla asks how he would react if their child were to take up dance classes and be mocked by his friends for it. When she tells Elliot, Elliot chastises her for forgetting the time she told Turk the Commissar was in town.
    • Another classic Turk Moment:

Dr Cox: Name a test, any test that you would use to check for Lupus.
Turk: Lupus? Doesn't he live on the second floor? Does he live upstairs from you? Yes I think you've seen him before.

    • Later, JD consoled a woman whose husband was dying with the theme from Facts of Life.
    • In another example of a song being disguised as a different type of song; at the Janitor's wedding in the final season, Ted sings a beautiful acoustic love song which turns out to be "Hey Ya".
  • There was an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun where Dick got called up for jury duty and was eager to go, while Nina and Mary told him not to bother. Dick made a point about how he has a sense of duty and can be relied upon:

Dick: Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, all you've got to do is call, and I'll be there.
Nina: (dismissively) Yeah, yeah, yeah...
Dick: Yes I will.

    • Another episode had someone asking Dick what he wanted, to which he very hammily shot back, in dead seriousness: "Fame! I want to live forever -- light up the sky like a flame!"
    • Another time, after a failed bank robbery which had Sally dressed like a biker, Tommy dressed like a sailor, and Harry dressed like a Native American, they greeted Don (in uniform) and Dick (dressed like a construction worker, since he had just gotten back from a gay bar). Everybody keeps saying "Hey!" back and forth to the tune of "Macho Man".
  • Either Del or Rodney on Only Fools and Horses, trying to be inspiring: "You've got to have a dream. If you don't have a dream... how're you going to have a dream come true?" (The other one just gives him a look.)
  • News Radio: Every year when the annual bonuses are delivered, Matthew gets no bonus, known around the station as "The Shaft". Naturally, the guys tease him by reciting lyrics from "Theme from Shaft".

Dave (reading card from the box): Uh, "Who's the black private dick, a sex machine to all the chicks"?
Everyone: Shaft!
Bill: I thought we'd get a kick out of that.

Cleaner: Listen. When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, what will I be? Will I be pretty? Will I be rich? Here's what she said to me.
Lee: I'm guessing it was a no.

    • [in an episode in which Tim and Lee have just played a gig of very unrock songs]

Lucy: I don't think the crowd liked the Elaine Paige and Barabra Dixon number much.
Lee: Yeah... looking back I should have played it differently.

  • House frequently quotes "You Can't Always Get What You Want". Most notably in the first episode:

House: As the great philosopher Jagger said; You can't always get what you want.
Cuddy: By the way, I checked out that philosopher you mentioned and it turns out that you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you'll get what you need.

    • It should be noted that "You Can't Always Get What You Want" eventually became the theme song for House's vicodin addiction.
  • Weird Science had an episode where Lisa the genie fell in love with one of the guys and became a Clingy Jealous Girl. He tells her "When you love someone, set them free", which causes Lisa to start deleting herself. Instantly his friend interrupts, saying "Don't listen to him! He's an idiot spouting bad song lyrics!"
  • The season 3 finale of Battlestar Galactica has a number of characters who turn out to be Cylons start mumbling the same bits of nonsensical poetry as a sign of their mental breakdown. Towards the end of the finale, the lines come together and are revealed to be All Along the Watchtower. The effect of Season Three's finale's reveal was weakened by the fact that the song is relatively well known, since the original was by Bob Dylan, achieved huge popularity as a cover by Jimi Hendrix, and was popular again in the early Noughties following another cover by Dave Matthews Band (as well as covers by Neil Young, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, and many, many others). "There must be some way out of here" and "I can't get no relief" may be relatively unnoticeable, but dialogue that includes "Said the Joker to the Thief," even out of context, raises a few eyebrows.
    • All Along the Watchtower became a kind of significant Leitmotif for the Final Five Cylons at the end of Season Three and throughout Season Four. The song actually becomes vitally important to the series overall: Hera draws a series of dots which are revealed to be the notes to the song when Kara remembers it as a song her father used to play when she was a child. Kara also uses the line "there must be some kind of way out of here" in the series finale, using the notes of the song as coordinates.
    • According to the commentary, in the finale, when Adama asks Kara where the coordinates have taken them, her reply was to have been "Somewhere... all along the watchtower. Luckily, Katee Sackhoff recognized the narminess of the line and refused.
  • Lampshaded on Thirty Rock:

Jack: [in total seriousness] I have an opportunity here, Lemon. A chance to go back to the past to put things right that once went wrong.
Liz: That's the Quantum Leap intro.

  • In the third season of the Australian Thank God You're Here, Shaun Micallef, responding to the question "Have you ever been to London?" replies "I've been to London, I've been to Birmingham, I've been to paradise, but I've never been to me."
  • The 2009 series of BBC documentary Springwatch was home to a bizarre series of these. Chris Packham had taken out a bet with a friend that he could slip the name of a Smiths song into every episode. The last episode featured Kate Humble reporting that Bill Oddie had called to congratulate him on this feat, to which Chris deadpans to camera, "William, it was really nothing."
  • Shows up on Mystery Science Theater 3000:

Old Sage-Type Guy: My daughter, you will find that you can't always have what you want.
Servo: But if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.

Ross: Who's this Casey?
Phoebe: Some guy she met at the movies.
Ross: What does he want with her?
Chandler: I'm guessing he wants to do a little dance...make a little love...and, basically, get down tonight.

    • There's another time when Joey tries to stall answering the question "Why?"

Joey: Because... because... because... because... because...
Chandler: Because of the wonderful things he does?

Hugh: Do you think if they're naughty, she can just tell them "Stop! In the name of love!"

  • A round on Whose Line Is It Anyway involves the participants holding a conversation purely in song titles.
  • In the 3D episode of Chuck, in trying to think fast, Chuck calls himself a drummer and then says: "I'm the little drummer boy... Come they told me... ba... rumpa... bombom..."
  • One episode of The Goodies started off by quoting the White Rabbit's song from Disney's version of Alice in Wonderland. Bill and Graeme are sitting around the office:

Graeme: He's late.
Tim: (walking in) I'm late.
Bill: For a very important date.
Graeme: No time to say hello.
Tim: (leaving) Goodbye.
Graeme and Bill: (together) He's late, he's late, he's late, eeh eeh!

  • In The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Will recites a few lines of the show's theme song in formal-sounding prose to a judge. "Your honour, in West Philadelphia born 'n' raised, on the playground was where I spent most of my days".
    • Also when Will announces his marriage to Lisa, his Uncle Phil, Aunt Vivian and his mother ask how he manages to make a living.

Will: We're survive on love.
Vy: What's love gotta do with it?
Geoffrey: (walking past them) Gotta do, gotta do with it.

  • This was a favorite technique of the writers of The Bob Newhart Show. In one episode, the guys get drunk and Emily offers to make them coffee. One says, "I love coffee." A second adds, "I love tea." Then Mr. Carlin says, "I love the Java Jive, and it loves me."
    • From another episode, Bob denies being afraid of death, saying, "I am strong, I am invincible ..." at which point another character cuts him off with, "You are woman. Let's hear you roar."
  • In a first season episode of Veronica Mars, "Lord of the Bling", Veronica explains her connection to a missing teenager with the words "We used to be friends...a long time ago." Immediately afterwards, the theme song starts playing - the opening line? "A long time ago, we used to be friends..."
  • In the short-lived Pepper Dennis, Pepper tries to advise a would-be Runaway Bride with the lyrics to D.H.T's "Listen To Your Heart".
  • In an episode of Heroes where Hiro Nakamura was put on trial by his own mind, he tried to defend his meddling with history by saying he had been 'setting right what once went wrong'

Mental image of Takezo Kensei: Objection, Your Honour: He's reciting the opening to Quantum Leap!

  • Used in Men Behaving Badly when Tony is persuading Gary he should get back together with Dorothy.
  • An episode of Home Improvement had Wilson dishing out some famous quotes about love. Tim responded with: "'Everybody... loves somebody sometimes.' Martin, comma, Dean."
    • Another episode had Wilson musing, on the subject of Tim compromising with his wife, "You have to give a little, take a little..." Tim responds, sardonically, "Yeah, and let your poor heart break a little." Then, he realizes what the next line in the song is, and they figure it's not so bad an idea after all, as they sing together, "That's the story of, that's the story of love..."
  • One episode of WKRP in Cincinnati has Herb recruiting staffers to sing a jingle for a funeral home client.

Herb: Bailey...sing something.
Bailey: Oh, I can't sing.
Herb: Everyone can sing.
Venus: Go on Bailey, sing. Sing a song.
Les: Sing out loud, sing out strong.
Herb: Sing of good things, not---
Venus: (Cutting him off) Herb!

Duane:: You can't help who you fall in love with. Cause when you get that feeling...
Mike:: It's like sexual healing.

    • Also, when Daisy and Tim begin having an argument through cliches about the wisdom of Tim getting back with his girlfriend:

Tim: I can read her like a book.
Daisy: Never judge a book by it's cover.
Tim: He who dares, wins.
Daisy: Look before you leap.
Tim: Do you believe in life after love?
Daisy: [Dismissive] That's a song.
Tim: Shit.

Elizabeth Mitchell: Well, maybe, maybe the glass just started it. It was his impressive glass acting. It's kind of like a microwave in there, heating up... [laughs]
Damon Lindelof: ...behind the glass. Juliet might, might as well walk over and just push the popcorn button, 'cause it's getting hot up in there.
Elizabeth Mitchell:[laughing] So take off all your clothes. [Lindelof chuckles]

  • Kirsty Wark's signature gag on Dead Ringers; for example: "My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, and they're like, 'It's better than yours'. Damn right it's better than yours. More on that story later."
  • Supernatural: In the episode "Jus in Bello", Henriksen realizes he's been possessed and comments "I shot the sheriff." Dean, smiling, says back "But you didn't shoot the deputy."
    • In "No Rest for the Wicked," Ruby says "Hit me with your best shot, baby."
    • And when Dean's being-Death-for-a-day, everyone he collects says something like 'But what does it all mean?' At first he angsts about it, but after a while he gives up.

Heart Attack Guy: But what does it all mean?
Dean: ...Everything is dust in the wind.
Heart Attack Guy: That's it? That's all you got? A Kansas song?

Mr. Feeny: Mr. Matthews I have no idea what you're talking about, and that's the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it.

  • There was an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in which Quark, talking about the Dominion War, says, "War? What is it good for? You ask me, absolutely nothing."
  • On an episode of Yes, Dear, Jimmy and Christine are trying to write poems for each other. After several minutes of struggling, Jimmy starts reading his poem, which soon turns out to be Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer". As it turns out, Christine wrote the exact same thing.
  • Happens occasionally on Spicks and Specks. In one memorable example, Darlene Love started telling a story about the time she almost had sex with Tom Jones. Reginald D. Hunter chimed in "From what I hear, that's not unusual."
  • In one episode of Thirty Rock, after Liz's boyfriend Criss sells his hotdog van named "Van Der Beek", he says "I don't wanna wait for our lives to be over." Part of joke was that earlier in the episode Criss mentioned that he had never actually seen Dawsons Creek.
  • In the Pretty Little Liars episode "Over My Dead Body," a nearly carbon monoxide-poisoned Emily has a dream (or does she?) that she's having a conversation with the late Alison; when Emily asks who "A" is, Alison - taking a line from the show's signature tune, The Pierces' "Secrets" - tells her that "Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead."

Newspaper Comics

  • Occurs on occasion in the puntacular Sunday strips of Pearls Before Swine, where the setup for the jokes can lead to strange reconstructions of song lyrics. For example, Pig tells Rat about how he entered a bread-kneading competition at a fair, lost, and didn't even get to keep the bread dough that he kneaded. Rat responds by saying that if you're persistent enough, you can keep the dough, which prompts him to conclude with this gem:
  • In one Sherman's Lagoon strip, Sherman the shark announced that he was collecting (Easter) eggs. Sea turtle Fillmore pointed out that someone else was appointed to collect the eggs, and exclaimed, "Doesn't anyone know who they're supposed to be?" Of course, as soon as Sherman referred to himself as the "eggman," we all knew that walrus would show up in the last panel.


  • A very common gag in Milton Jones's shows; particular highlights include "Is this a photo of you with REM?" "Yes, that's me in the corner" and this gem:

I had a Siamese twin, you see, but we were separated a couple of months before I went onto the comedy circuit. In fact he earned a little money from doing this really bad impressions of me, but then he became an astronaut. I saw him again recently. He asked me how I'd been. I said, well, at first I was afraid, I was petrified, thought that I could never live without you... by my side. But I spent so many nights, thinking how you did me wrong, and I grew strong... So now you're back. From outer space.

  • In the first episode of Absolute Power, Sandy is accused of taking the petty cash, and stormed out. When they find out it was really stolen by the chairman of the Conservative Party and she returns, Charles greets her with "Ah, Sandy. You came and you gave without taking, but we sent you away."
  • When Pip Bin, Mr Gently Benevolent and Harry Biscuit are in space in Bleak Expectations, Harry keeps quoting "Space Oddity".
  • Happens occasionally on The Now Show; one particular example came when the audience question was "Who would you give an honour too?" and someone wrote "I would give a KBE to Shalamar, to make him a knight to remember." (Hugh: "I think I was far away enough from the actual tune there that we don't have to pay royalties.")
    • In the first episode of the 2010 election special series, The Vote Now Show, they looked at the various government inspectors the Conservatives would abolish, including one who checks premises for illegal performing animals. The conversation between the inspector and a suspect quickly becomes "Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear".
      • The second-to-last episode of The Vote Now Show, in what became a mini-Running Gag:

Jon Holmes: I believe that the children are our future. Treat them well and let them lead the way, show them all the beauty they possess inside...
Steve Punt: Jon, has someone bet you that you can't get the lyrics to a Whitney Houston song into tonight's show?
Jon Holmes: Yes. Mitch Benn has, and he now owes me five pounds.

  • There's a round on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue based on this. For instance, the following dialogue between Graeme Garden (as a doctor) and Barry Cryer (as his patient):

Barry: I hope you won't want to give me a jab, because I'm terrified of needles.
Graeme: (contemptuous) Baby. Take off your coat. Real slow.
Barry: But it hurts when I move my arms.
Graeme: Baby. Take off your shoes.
Barry: I can't bend over, it hurts...
Graeme: (irritated) I'll help you take off your shoes. Baby. Take off your dress.
Barry: Now, I can explain about the dress...
Graeme: (dismissively) Yes, yes, yes.
Barry : Doctor, do you want me to undress completely?
Graeme: You can leave your hat on.


Og: Does an optical illusion feel an, oh, such a hungry yearning burning inside of him, under the hide of him? Does an optical illusion feel the beat-beat-beat of the tom-tom in the roaring traffic's boom, in his lonely room?
Finian (His scholarly interest is enlisted): Hmmm. Do you also feel like the promised kiss of springtime that trembles on the brink of a lovely song?
Og: Yes, and what's worse, smoke keeps coming out of me eyes.
Finian: You go round and round like an elevator lost in the tide?

Video Games

  • Many units in Warcraft III will spout song lyrics as their Stop Poking Me lines.
    • By extension, StarCraft as well.
      • On particular note was Lt. Duran from Brood War, who was prone to (of course) reciting Duran Duran lyrics when poked.
    • In Warcraft II, the cheat code to instantly research all magic spells was "every little thing she does".
  • In Sam and Max Freelance Police: Ice Station Santa, Sam and Max confront a giant Maimtron robot that randomly drops appropriate pop-song lyrics into its dialogue. Sam can distract it by asking it questions like "Why do fools fall in love?" and "Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?"
    • The Maimtron is reactivated in What's New Beelzebub with the words, "Did you think I'd crumble? Did you think I'd lay down and die? Oh no. Not I. I will survive. I will survive."
    • Later in Sam & Max: What's New, Beelzebub?, they meet Satan who quotes the two lines everyone knows from Sympathy for the Devil.
    • They also find a radio at one point, where if you return to a particular channel several times you get these lines: "Hello, hello, hello?" "Is there anybody out there?" "Just respond if you can hear me." "Is there anyone at home?"
    • In The Devil's Playhouse, the Maimtron army march to war against Maxthulthu while chanting, "If you liked it than you should have put a ring on it, if you liked it than you should have put a ring on it..."
  • Hotel Mario has Mario telling one of the Koopalings: "Hey you! Get off of my cloud!"
  • Jolee Bindo spent twenty years on Kashyyyk. Why?

Jolee: I did it all for the Wookiees.
PC: The Wookiees?
Jolee: The Wookiees!

Player Character: I told you once, you son of a gun, I'm the best there's ever been!

Web Comics

Web Original

Marik: Let's see how you like my Cage of Doom!
Yami: Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage.

Vic Mignogna: Let's dance!
Yami: I don't feel like dancing. No sir. No dancing today.

Téa: We didn't start the fire! It was always burning since the world's been turning!

Yugi: Hey, Joey, how'd it come to this? I mean, after all we've been through? Two of a pair, now on opposite sides.
Joey: Yeah, from the very start with honor we've dueled 'n stuff. Watched each other’s backs and, you know, battled with pride.
Yugi: We’re closer than brothers. And now we have to fight each other.
Yugi and Joey, singing: And we trust our fate to the heart of the cards!
Tristan: No matter what!
Yugi and Joey, singing: Let the game begin.
Tristan: No matter what!
Yugi and Joey, singing: May the best man win.
Kaiba: (I love this song)

  • Any time Rickrolling comes up in an internet discussion, there's a good chance that someone will mention how Rick Astley's never gonna give you up and never gonna let you down.
    • You wouldn't get it from any other guy.
    • It's now possible to recite lines that are simply a similar form of exaggeratedly romantic promises, and get your audience to Rickroll themselves.
  • The Descendants loves this. To date, it's used Hurt by Trent Reznor, A Lifetime by Talking Heads and Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones.
    • The Sympathy for the Devil one is arguable, because the characters were quoting the Show Within a Show.
  • TV Tropes: In addition to trope names, tropers will often disguise quotes from the song or show they're discussing as banter-like natter.
  • Unskippable's Grandia III episode:
    • As far as I know there's only been one.
    • Singular sensation.
  • An episode of ENN has the newsreaders reciting the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
  • This News Biscuit article, "Mild alarm caused by kung fu fighting outbreak" ("it was a little bit frightening" said one witness)
  • In a really old version of the Homestar Runner character page, Marzipan's description stated that "She loves horses and her boyfriend, too."
    • "3 Times Halloween Funjob" has Strong Sad dressing up like David Byrne, and sure enough there's an Easter Egg with the inevitable reference to the lyrics of "Once In A Lifetime".
  • Whenever someone on a message board or any sort of site says something that also happens to be the lyrics to a song, the next few posts are usually continuations of the lyrics.....
  • Linkara tends to do this quite a lot, most often when a comic's dialogue gives him a decent opening. This is usually an excuse to play the song, no matter how otherwise irrelevant, over the opening title card or closing credits.
    • He will also occasionally play a clip from the song immediately after reciting the verse if he thinks viewers might not get the reference. He seems to know an awful lot of songs.
  • After a chapter of Dive Quest that's been particularly harrowing for both of them on a personal level, Tislomer and Babrakus start reciting lines from the Dropkick Murphys' "Forever".
  • In Suburban Knights, some of The Nostalgia Chick 's elven montages feature lyrics to 'One Week' by Barenaked Ladies and Bad Romance by Lady Gaga.
  • Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do In An RPG:

390. My character's background must be more in-depth than a montage of Queen lyrics.

Western Animation

Homer: D'oh! [1]
Lisa: A deer!
Marge: A female deer!

    • Homer also mourns his loss of the freedom he had in his youth, "I used to rock and roll all night and party ev-e-ry day. Then it was every other day. Now I'm lucky if I can find one night a month in which to get funky."
    • From the rock and roll fantasy camp episode when Homer is forced to leave:

Mick Jagger: Cheer up Homer, it's only Rock 'n' Roll Camp.
Homer: But I like it...

    • Homer's attempt to put off telling Apu that he knows about Apu's affair:

Homer: So, if you take that bottle down, and pass it around...
Apu: Yes, yes, I know. There will be 47 bottles of beer on the wall!

    • And when Homer pretends to be a robot in a robot fighting competition he defeats one robot using a buzzsaw by using its own weapon against it, leading to this commentary:

Announcer 1: He's killing him softly with his saw.
Announcer 2: Killing him softly?
Announcer 1: With his saw!

  • South Park: In one episode the citizens of South Park are all being evicted by an oppressive Native American casino. They rise up and march and sing as one. The song includes lines such as "We are strong" and "No one can tell us were wrong" and sounds like an inspiring protest song... 'til it turns out they're singing "Love Is A Battlefield".
    • In another episode, Cartman appears before Congress, and after making his speech, says "I'm not the best speaker. Maybe I can put it best in the words of a timeless song." He then proceeds to lead Congress in "Heat of the Moment."
  • An episode of Family Guy where Peter runs for head of the PTA had him just reciting sitcom lyrics in his speech:
    • "Sit, Ubu, sit. Good dog."
    • Also, when Peter's dad vanishes at the baseball game after going to "buy some peanuts and Cracker Jack", Brian responds with "I don't care if he never gets back." *Beat* "I wasn't being cute, I really hope he's dead."
    • In the episode where Lois becomes a model, Peter asks her "So don't you wanna go back and do your little turn on the catwalk? On the catwalk? Yeah, on the catwalk? Do your little turn on the catwalk?"
    • In the Return of the Jedi parody, when Leia strangles Jabba, his subtitles may read "Help, I'm being strangled!" but his Jabbaspeak is the lyrics to Lady Marmalade.
    • When Carter Pewterschmidt suffers a heart attack, he exclaims "I’m having a heart attack-ack-ack-ack! You oughta know by now!" before losing consciousness.
    • In "Foreign Affairs" Bonnie gets in a relationship with another paraplegic. Joe says that he truly loves her and proves it by standing (with help from Quagmire). The other paraplegic states that he would do anything for love, but he won't do that.
  • The Venture Brothers:

Dr Venture: You know I feel so dirty when they start talking cute.
The Monarch: Yeah, well get used to it.
Dr Venture: I want to tell her that I love her, but the point is probably moot.
The Monarch: ... Are you reciting Jessie's Girl?

    • Also at the start of "Ghost Pirates of the Sargasso", we see Major Tom's last conversation before his spaceship crashes; the conversation is mostly David Bowie's "Space Oddity" and "Ashes to Ashes".
    • As well as Hank reciting The Doors lyrics while tripping on Molotov's spy poison, and several gags done with the ageing rockstars that seem to constitute most of The Guild's leadership. Venture Bros does this a lot actually.
  • The Powerpuff Girls did an entire episode of this joke. "Meet the Beat-Alls", in which most lines of dialogue were from Beatles songs. It was nominated for an Emmy.
    • And neatly subverted at the end:

Blossom: Well, it's like the song goes - the love you take is equal to... equal to... oh, who cares, it's by some dumb old band anyway.

    • Another episode that wasn't even remotely Beatles-related threw one in, too:

Princess: Help! I need somebody! Help! Not just anybody!

    • When the Mayor looks through a telescope during the heat wave in "Ice Sore":

Mayor: Goodness gracious! Great ball of fire!

Leela: Fry's outside? He's in great danger!
Dr. Zoidberg: Why?
Leela: I'm telling you why! Santa Claus is coming to town!

    • In the same episode, Santa: "I perform over 60 megachecks per second!"
    • "The Sting":

Fry: How big's the honeycomb?
Hermes: Honeycomb's big, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Bender: It's not small?
Hermes: No, no, no.

    • Near the end of "Three Hundred Big Boys", when the piles of war plunder catch fire, Richard Nixon yells "The loot! The loot! The loot is on fire!"
    • In the second straight to DVD movie, "The Beast With a Billion Backs", Prof. Wernstum orders some tentacle-resisters to "Stop! In the name of love!"
    • Also from "I Dated A Robot".

George Michael's Head: Please pick me up before you go-go?

    • Also this from "Bender's Game":

Elevator Steward: Maintenance shaft 7 serving...
Professor: Shut your mouth.
Elevator Steward: I'm just talking about the shaft.

    • Still in "Bender's Game":

Robot Psychiatrist: You're suffering from a breakdown. Now stop, hammertime. (activates the "treatment", which is basically hitting the patient with a hammer.)

    • In "The Tip of the Zoidberg", The Professor tells Dr. (John) Zoidberg to flee by saying, "Go Johnny, Go!".
  • Variation: In the American Dad episode where Roger poses as a college professor, his opening lecture quotes from the spoken introduction of Prince's "Let's Go Crazy". ("Electric word, 'life', it means forever, and that's a mighty long time...")
  • Kim Possible: Señor Senior Sr. paraphrases from Talking Heads' "Life During Wartime" when he tells his son "This is not a party, this is not a disco, this is not... fooling around!"

Dr. Drakken: Your Nana is one bad grandmother...
Kim: Shut yo' mouth!
Dr. Drakken: I'm just talkin' about Nana.

    • In "Rufus in Show", when Kim and Ron infiltrated a dog-show, and Kim discovered the gems stolen by Falsetto Jones:

Kim: And Bingo was his name-o.

  • In Rocko's Modern Life, Rocko's attempt at hiding his nail-biting habit using a ham and a monkey puppet leads him to remark, "Everybody's got something to hide, except for meat and my monkey."
    • In another episode, Rocko recalls a school bully named Dingo who literally harassed him until the day he moved to America.

Rocko: Why he never liked me, I'll never know, and Dingo was his name...
Heffer & Filbert: Oh.

Kris Kringle: You better watch out. You better not cry, you better not pout.
Children: Why?
Kris Kringle: I'm telling you why! Because I came to town.

Principal: (shocked) The leader of the band!
Student: His blood runs through my instrument! (plays the saxophone as blood spurts out)

  • In Metalocalypse, Senator Stampingston introduces Dethklok to the Tribunal using the lyrics to the theme song.

Skwisgaar Skwigelf, taller than a tree. Toki Wartooth, not a bumblebee. William Murderface. Murderface. Murderface. Pickles. The drummer. Doodily doo...ding dong doodily...doodily doo. Nathan Explosion.

  • Grim from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy said, upon realising he was in a dream "This is not me beautiful house! This is not me beautiful wife!" and woke up to Billy chanting "Same as it ever was! Same as it ever was!"
    • In another episode, Billy chastises General Skarr for not being as evil as Billy thought he was.
  • Transformers Animated: "I am Wreck-Gar and I dare to be stupid!"
  • In one of the climactic battles of Transformers Cybertron, Optimus orders his troops into battle formation with the command, "Come together, right now! Over me!"
    • Although this troper doesn't recall any particular examples at the moment, he remembers the Cybertron dub doing a lot of those.
  • An episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force combined this with The Power of Rock with the Foreigner Belt, which gave its wearer super-powers triggered by reciting the titles of Foreigner songs.
  • On Tiny Toon Adventures, when Babs arrives at New York, she says "New York, just like I pictured it. Skycrapers and everything", a line from the spoken section of Stevie Wonder's "Living in the City".
  • Animaniacs once had the Warners watching a pretentious French film with dialogue from the original lyrics to "Frere Jacques" and "Alouette".
    • In "Woodstock Slappy", when the festival gathers right outside Slappy's tree and she wonders aloud what's going on, Skippy says "There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear." Slappy is unamused.
  • In The Emperor's New Groove, in Yzma's lair, lines from a certain song from The Wizard of Oz appear:

Pacha: (reading labels) "Lions... Tigers... Bears!"
Yzma: (suddenly appearing from behind, holding the vial they were looking for) "Oh my!"

  • In one episode of Jackie Chan Adventures, Jackie explains that he's in a western town because "I've been working on the railroad." The people he's talking to get angry, and he adds "All the livelong day?"
    • In another, the thunder demon Tchang Zu is revived, only to discover that his former realm is now part of Hollywood:

Tchang Zu: My palace! These humans have paved my paradise and constructed a...
Ratso: Uh, parking lot?

Paul Rocco: Let him stay. He only gets us into trouble anyway.
Buster:He's right. I'm troubled waters, see. Now be a bridge and ease my mind.

"He's running late. Batmobile lost a wheel and Joker got away." (The League members cast pained expressions at Flash) "Well, that's what I heard."

  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "A Bird in the Hoof," Fluttershy realizes, "I'm late! For a very important date!" Bonus points for her being reminded by a rabbit with a pocketwatch.
  • Referenced on Hey Arnold! his grandma says he "was born on the backseat of a Greyhound Bus, going down Highway 41." Grandpa Phil says that what she said is from an old hippie song.
  • On an episode of Squidbillies where Krystal wins the lottery and Dan Halen pretends to be in love with her to get to her money.
    • "Krystal, I want to know what love is, I know you can show me. I feel like making love to you. Love in an elevator, lovin' up as I'm goin' down."

Real Life

  1. (or maybe "Doe!")