List of cultural references to A Clockwork Orange

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Popular culture references to Anthony Burgess's novel A Clockwork Orange and Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation have been wide-ranging, from popular music and television to movies and other media.[1][2] Some references are based on themes central to the story, such as the use of Nadsat words or phrases, whilst others have incorporated visual elements from the film. The film made Kubrick one of the most influential artists of the 20th century,[1] and the film has become a cult classic.[3]


  • A Clockwork Orange, like other dystopian science-fiction novels, had an important influence on industrial and cyberpunk music. The film version influenced bands' fashion styles.[4]
  • The WEA subsidiary record label Korova, named for the film's Korova Milk Bar, was founded in 1979 for post-punk band Echo & the Bunnymen, and later issued recordings by artists such as The Sound and Strawberry Switchblade.[5]
  • John Bonham of Led Zeppelin copied Alex's appearance while touring in 1975.[6]
  • Heaven 17, also from Sheffield, England and formed in 1980, named themselves after a fictional pop group in the book and film.[7]
  • Rosemary's Babies, a Lodi, NJ hardcore punk band formed in 1981, included the Nadsat word "ultraviolence" in their song "Happy Song".[8] Their vocalist J.R. dressed as a droog in publicity photos and on the covers of their 1981 EP Blood Lust and its later CD release as Talking to the Dead.[9] Both J.R. and drummer Eerie Von dressed as droogs during live performances.
  • In 1988, German punk rock band Die Toten Hosen released a concept album Ein kleines bisschen Horrorschau (a reference to Alex's Nadsat phrase, "a bit of [the old] horrorshow [ultraviolence])", with the main song being "Hier Kommt Alex" ("Here Comes Alex"). The members were also involved as musicians in a German stage production of A Clockwork Orange in 1988, and in 1994 they also released an English version called "The Return of Alex".[10]
  • The music video for "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns n Roses featured Axl Rose, in occasional scenes, strapped in a chair with a brace on his forehead while watching stacked TVs with various images of violence and sex, much like the Ludovico treatment in A Clockwork Orange.[11]
  • The 1991 single release of U2's "The Fly" featured the B-side "Alex Descends Into Hell for a Bottle of Milk/Korova 1" from the score of the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of A Clockwork Orange. The performance was scored by Bono and The Edge.[12]
  • Anglo-Irish band Moloko, who debuted in 1995, took their name from the slang term for milk (itself from the Russian word for milk, молоко)[13][14]
  • Polish band Myslovitz's 2002 album Korova Milky Bar referred to the film, comparing it to present situation in Poland.[15]
  • The music video to Rob Zombie's "Never Gonna Stop (The Red Red Kroovy)" was inspired by the film.[16]
  • Seminal punk rock band Ramones named a song after the car given a joyride by Alex and his droogs ("Durango 95") and also dressed up as characters from A Clockwork Orange on the front of the album Too Tough to Die.
  • Blur borrowed imagery from A Clockwork Orange for the music video to their song, "The Universal".[17]
  • Kylie Minogue wore a white jumper and fake eyelashes, similar to Alex, while performing on her Fever tour.[17]
  • My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way dressed as Alex.[6][18]
  • Gnarls Barkley dressed as characters in the film for a publicity shoot.[6][19]
  • The Sepultura album A-Lex was based entirely on A Clockwork Orange.[20]
  • Cavalera Conspiracy's song "Ultra Violent" is based on A Clockwork Orange.[21]
  • British indie group Campag Velocet took the word "Velocet" from a word written on the wall in the opening scene of the film.[14]
  • The group New Order titled one of their songs "Ultra-Violence" on their album Power, Corruption and Lies.[22]
  • Post-punk band Scars referenced the film on "Horrorshow," the B-side of their 1979 debut single, "Adult/ery".[23]
  • The title of Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Star One's second album, Victims of the Modern Age (2010), was a direct quote from the film. Track 4, also called "Victims of the Modern Age", is based on A Clockwork Orange with Russell Allen from Symphony X singing as the character Alex.[24]
  • Lady Gaga used music from the film as entrance music during concerts in 2010.[25]
  • The music video for "Pacifier" by Shihad featured the band dressed as droogs in the Korova Milk Bar and also reenacting the film's joyride scene.[26]
  • In her unreleased song "Hundred Dollar Bill," Lana Del Rey references the book: "Cause I love your ultra-violent swing, I like it when you treat me mean." The title of her 2014 album, Ultraviolence, is likely a reference to A Clockwork Orange.
  • English gabba/industrial band Ultraviolence take their name from the film.
  • The title of the Death Angel album The Ultra-Violence is likely a reference to A Clockwork Orange.
  • The song "Well, Well, Well" from the 1996 eponymous album "Giant Robot (by Buckethead's band Giant Robot) contains samples from the film.


  • There have been many references to the film on South Park (when asked to name something he considered a mind-altering work of art, series co-creator Trey Parker said, "It's super cliché, but A Clockwork Orange really did fuck me up"[27]). In the show's controversial 201st episode, 201 (2010), Mitch Connor (Cartman's hand-puppet) pretends to be a black man and asks to use the telephone at someone's house, alluding to the similar scene in A Clockwork Orange. In episode 206, "Coon 2: Hindsight" (2010), the scene where the Coon attacks the rest of his gang is reminiscent of the scene in which one of the Clockwork Orange droogs insists things be run in a 'new way' that entails less power for Alex, who responds by attacking them while walking in order to re-establish his leadership.[28] The scene also has the same music playing: an excerpt from the overture of The Thieving Magpie by Gioacchino Rossini. In episode 245, "A Song of Ass and Fire" (2013), the phallus-shaped sculpture in the house of George R. R. Martin is the same one used by Alex to kill the Cat Lady.
  • The Simpsons contains frequent references to the film.[29][30] In the episode "Dog of Death", Mr. Burns brainwashes the Simpsons' dog Santa's Little Helper into being one of his attack dogs by using the Ludovico Technique. In the episode "Treehouse of Horror III", Bart dresses up as Alex DeLarge from the film. Also, in the episode "Duffless", as a result of Lisa's electroshock therapy, Bart is seen to have experience difficulty in reaching for the cupcakes after dinner, in a manner similar to the effects of Alex's therapy; in particular, one shot parodies the film, with Bart looking up at the cupcakes on the table, in the same way Alex looks up to the actress's chest after his therapy. In 2014, the show parodied the film with a segment titled "A Clockwork Yellow" in the episode "Treehouse of Horror XXV".[31]
  • In an episode of The Goodies, titled "Invasion of the Moon Creatures", Tim Brooke-Taylor and Bill Oddie return from the moon brainwashed by rabbits; they are seen harassing and beating people dressed in costumes like Alex's gang, albeit with rabbit ears on their heads and with buck teeth.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted!", the military school the boys are sent to after getting busted uses the Ludovico Technique in order to stop Phineas and Ferb from using their imagination.[32]
  • In the series Franklin & Bash, Malcolm McDowell's character uses the phrase "bit of the old in and out".
  • A season 4 episode of BBC children's series Grange Hill features a shoplifting scene set in a clothes shop called Clockwork Orange.
  • In the Regular Show episode "The Unicorns Have Got to Go", one of the unicorns is clearly dressed as Alex DeLarge and/or one of his droogs.
  • The Fanboy and Chum Chum episode "A Bopwork Orange" has a title which directly references A Clockwork Orange. The title card of the episode directly parodies the film's poster as well. The episode also features Beethoven's Ninth Symphony prominently as incidental music and the plot has many similarities to the film.
  • In "Moving On" (2013), a season 9 episode of The Office, Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) nicknames Clark Duke (Clark Green) "Clarkwork Orange".


The film version of A Clockwork Orange immediately revolutionized the science fiction film genre, opening the way for other films to portray elaborate dystopian narratives and to intelligently analyze social dilemmas. Many film directors have borrowed themes and cinematic techniques from the film.[1] The film is an essential part of modern cinema and films often reference it.[33]



Video games[edit]

  • The character Mr. Umblla (Mr.アンブラ, lit. Mr. Umbra, alternatively known as Mr. Umbrella), its respective trial "Code: Present" and the Umblla mag device in Japanese online game Phantasy Star Online 2 are a reference to Alex and some of the film's themes.
  • A limited Clockwork Orange-style costume for Moe Szyslak (called "Moog") was released for the game The Simpsons: Tapped Out as a tie-in to the annual Simpsons Halloween episode, "Treehouse of Horror XXV" (which featured a parody titled "A Clockwork Yellow"). The costume could only be unlocked by playing on consecutive days in the lead-up to the premiere of the episode, and collecting all four parts of the costume.
  • In The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, there is an item called The Ludovico Technique.


  1. ^ a b c d Thill, Scott, 2002, St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, Gale Group.
  2. ^ Melanya Burrows (2005-01-28). "Addicted to Droogs". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  3. ^ Hills, Matt, 2002, Fan Cultures, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-24024-7.
  4. ^ Collins, Karen, 2005, "Dead Channel Surfing: the commonalities between cyberpunk literature and industrial music," Popular Music, 24, pp. 165-178.
  5. ^ Turquoise Days: The Weird World of Echo & the Bunnymen by Chris Adams
  6. ^ a b c Collins, Clark (June 2, 2006). "Like Clockwork". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  7. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 248–249. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Top five adaptations of A Clockwork Orange". Time Out Melbourne. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  11. ^ Tannenbaum, Rob, 2011, "I Want My MTV:The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution ," Penguin Books, isbn= 1469204142.
  12. ^ U2wanderer
  13. ^ James, Martin (16 June 2000). "How to milk Blondie for all they're worth". The Independent. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Wyeth, Wyndham (April 24, 2011). "23 Band Names Inspired by Literature". Paste. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  15. ^ "Montreal *Mirror - Rockin’ and rollin’ in sad, dark Poland". Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  16. ^ "Rob Zombie Storms Hollywood, Revisits 'Clockwork Orange'". MTV. 27 December 2001. Retrieved 2013-11-06. 
  17. ^ a b c Biswell, Adam (2012), "Foreword", in Burgess, Anthony, A Clockwork Orange, New York, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, pp. xx 
  18. ^ "In bold color, My Chemical Romance returns to Sayreville". The Star-Ledger. May 9, 2011. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  19. ^ Williams, Ben. "Influences: Gnarls Barkley". New York. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  20. ^ Henderson, Alex. List of cultural references to A Clockwork Orange at AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-06-28.
  21. ^ "MAX CAVALERA Says SEPULTURA Guys Didn't Like 'A Clockwork Orange' Movie". January 16, 2009. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  22. ^ "100 Best Albums of the 80s". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  23. ^ "Julian Cope’s Album of the Month". Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  24. ^ "Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Star One's "Victim of the Modern Age" Release Information". 14 December 2010. Retrieved 2013-12-30. 
  25. ^ "A Clockwork Orange: The droog rides again". The Guardian. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  26. ^ Gallagher, Robyn (26 October 2012). "5000 Ways To Love You". Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
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  28. ^ Modell, Josh (October 27, 2010). "The Coon 2: Hindsight". AV Club. Retrieved Nov 1, 2010. 
  29. ^ Irwin, William, Skoble, Aeon J., and Conard, Mark T., 2001, The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer, Open Court Publishing, ISBN 0-8126-9433-3.
  30. ^ "D'oh! Bart's unbeatable". Daily Telegraph. 
  31. ^ Fowler, Matt (26 July 2014). "SDCC 14: The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror Doing Clockwork Orange, Weird Al to Perform for the Show, More". IGN. Retrieved 15 October 2014. 
  32. ^ "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted! (Parts 1 & 2) Episode Allusions". Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  33. ^ Russel, Catherine, 1995, Narrative Mortality: Death, Closure, and New Wave Cinemas, University of Minnesota Press, ISBN 0-8166-2485-2.
  34. ^ Reagan, Gillian (2012-03-23). "For Joker, Heath Ledger Channels Sid Vicious, A Clockwork Orange | The New York Observer". Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  35. ^ "Batman Movies: The Dark Knight - Batman 3 - Batman Begins - Batman and Robin - Batman Returns - Batman Forever". Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  36. ^ Richards, Jeffrey, 1997, Films and British National Identity: From Dickens to Dad's Army, Manchester University, ISBN 0-7190-4743-9.
  37. ^ Reservoir Dogs, Films in Review[dead link]
  38. ^ Nelmes, Jill, 2003, An Introduction to Film Studies, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-26268-2.
  39. ^ Rowell, Erica (2007), The Brothers Grim: The Films of Ethan and Joel Coen, Scarecrow Publishing 
  40. ^ "Trivia time! The top movie easter eggs". Virgin Media. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  41. ^ Jones, J.R. "Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  42. ^ "Wah-Wah (2006)". BBC. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  43. ^ "A Brief Survey of 'A Clockwork Orange' in Pop Culture". Flavorwire. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  44. ^ Clevett, Jason (2004-08-25). "Alex Shelley: Next Generation superstar". Retrieved 2010-10-29. I got the Alex part from the main character of A Clockwork Orange. 
  45. ^ "TNA Wrestling results – March 3, 2005". Online World of Wrestling. 2005-03-03. Retrieved 2013-11-06. 
  46. ^ Orejan, Jamie (2011). Football/Soccer History and Tactics, McFarland, p. 117
  47. ^ Mad June 1973 issue #159 contents and cover image
  48. ^ Ryan, Jeff (2011). Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America. New York: Penguin Group. ISBN 978-1591845638. 

Further reading[edit]

  • McDougal, Stuart Y. Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. Cambridge University Press, 2003 ISBN 0-521-57488-9
  • Marrone, Gianfranco. Ludovico's Cure. On Body and Music in "A Clockwork Orange". Legas publisher, 2009

External links[edit]