TV episodes with (relatively) subtle movie parodies

Subtle: meaning not the annual Christmas episode where a character dreams that he’s Ebenezer Scrooge.

I saw this twice in the same week: syndicated episodes of 30 Rock and Modern Family, that ended with a parody of the famous final shot of The Godfather (closing the door of Michael’s office in Kay’s face)

Or the 30 Rock episode where Tracy is developing a porn video game, that’s one long parody of Amadeus.

And The Simpsons did this all the time – like the episode where Homer is suddenly Flanders’ best friend, that includes a parody of Terminator 2.

These tickle my inner movie geek - I feel like “I get it! Ha! I’m cool!” :slight_smile:


One of the Seinfeld episodes had a bit of parody of Midnight Cowboy. I’d have to look up the details though.

Found the youtube clip.

Not sure if this counts, but All in The Family did a version of Kurosawa’s Rashomon, in which Archie, Meathead and Edith each tell very different stories about an encounter they witnessed between Archie and a black repairman (played by future Barney Miller star Ron Glass).

Archie, of course, remembers the black repairman as a thug and himself as a perfect gentleman, while Meathead remembers the repairman as a grinning, shuffling Uncle Tom and Archie as a neo-Nazi.

Modern Family does this all the time, but my absolute favorite was from the episode “Fulgencio” where they parodied the baptism murders from The Godfather.

The most recent full season of Doctor Who had an episode called “Journey to the Center of the TARDIS”, which is an homage to the classic Jules Verne yarn Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Seinfeld did it with “JFK” except instead of the president getting shot it was Mets player Keith Hernandez getting spit on. “Back and to the left.”

Here’s my favourite scene from Spaced. See if you can guess what it’s parodying.

The final shot of the first season of Weeds was a Godfather parody. It would have been far less subtle if they could have gotten the rights to the Godfather Theme, but the budget didn’t allow it.

Homages to that show are so common that it has a Wikipedia article. Note, I said Wikipedia, not TV Tropes. The term “Rashomon effect” is actually used in formal literary circles.

One episode of Chicago Hope had them putting together an ad campaign. When it was revealed, it was a parody of the opening credits to E.R. (I didn’t realize it because I never watched E.R. The two shows were both set in Chicago hospitals and premiered opposite each other).

Community’s parody of My Dinner With Andre was fairly subtle.

Raising Hope has done The Wizard of Oz, It’s A Wonderful Life, and Rear Window and probably a few others I didn’t recognize as parodies. A google search says they’ve also done Almost Famous and Back to the Future. I’m not good at picking up on parodies – I just don’t expect them.

The late 50’s Western show Cheyenne had episodes that were virtual remakes of, e.g. To Have and Have Not, and Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Why yes, I am indeed the king of topical references. Why do you ask?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer had two of the best:

Lyle and Tector Gorch, two of the desperadoes from The Wild Bunch show up as vampires in the otherwise dismal episode Bad Eggs. I am so glad I’d recently rewatched The Wild Bunch before seeing that episode. Gave me a fist pounding moment of geek happiness, it did. Lyle returned in the much better episode homecoming.

Also, Older and Far Away has a plot device lifted from Luis Bunel’s surrealist art movie The Exterminating Angel.

Psych does this rather frequently. One of my favorites is the Twin Peaks homage, Dual Spires.

The Back To The Future one guest-starred Christopher Lloyd and he was driving a DeLorean so I’m guessing you didn’t miss the reference - you must have missed the episode completely :smiley:

That '70s Show did Reefer Madness. I was going to say they did a parody of it, but RM itself was so over the top that the T7S version hardly had to exaggerate anything to be funny.

Everybody Hates Chris had a more subtle homage to The Bicycle Thief. Chris’s bike gets stolen and he spends the rest of the episode trying to find it and reclaim it. As in TBT, he eventually gets fed up and steals, or tries to steal, someone else’s bike. As in TBT, he immediately gets swarmed by bystanders. People watching TBT for the first time tend to yell at the screen, “Where were all these people when his bike got stolen?!” On EHC, adult Chris says on the voiceover, “Where were all these people when Tupac got shot?!”

The Simpsons have done several parodies of The Graduate (the part where Benjamin shows up at the church and starts pounding on the window during the wedding). It happened in the episode where Homer thinks he’s going to die from blowfish poisoning, and the one where Marge’s mom marries Mr. Burns.

I saw those episodes and I figured Warner brothers just didn’t want to pay for new scripts those weeks.

The sitcom, Get Smart, was almost entirely movie spoofs… with the title some sort of pun-play on a cinematic title, and references to the movie’s plot and/or characters in the episode. In fact, as a kid, the series was an introduction, of sorts to many classics of cinema. Years later, I’d see a movie and start to say, “Hey, they ripped off Get Smart!”

Ship of Spies
Rebecca of Sunny-Folk Farm
The Amazing Harry Hoo (Charlie Chan)
Witness for the Persecution
Dr. Yes
The Mild Ones
The King Lives (A send up of Prisoner of Zenda, with Max channeling Ronald Coleman)
The Secret of Sam Vittorio (Bonnie and Clyde transformed into Connie and Floyd)
Tequila Mockingbird (send up of the Maltese Falcon)
Absorb the Greek
To Sire with Love
Greer Window (Rear Window)
The Not So Great Escape
Valerie of the Dolls
The Treasure of C. Errol Madre
Ice Station Siegfried
The Apes of Wrath
House of Max
The Mess of Adrian Lissenger (The List of Adrian Messenger)
How Green Was My Valet
What’s It All About, Algie?
Hello, Columbus, Goodbye, America
I am Curiously Yellow

Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back has several, including Daredevil, Scooby-Doo, Batman, Chasing Amy (if you count a character saying that Chasing Amy would never work as a movie), and more.

Dogma, another Kevin Smith movie, features a couple, including an homage to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.