Mad Max series legacy and influence in popular culture

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The Mad Max series of films, with their emphasis on dystopic, apocalyptic, and post-apocalyptic themes and imagery, have inspired some artists to recreate the look and feel of some aspect of the series in their work.

Mad Max[edit]

  • James Wan and Leigh Whannell credit the film's final scene, in which Johnny is given the option of cutting off either the resistant chain or his own foot to escape, for inspiring the entire Saw series.[1]
  • Melanie Brown from the Spice Girls is shown in the music video for their 1997 single "Too Much" singing on top of a tank strapped with ammunition in an industrial post-apocalyptic war scene in a segment based on the film.
  • In the comic Watchmen, Rorschach handcuffs a child killer to a stove in a burning building and provides him with a hacksaw to free himself (either by cutting the chain or his own ankle). He uses very similar language to describe the killer's predicament as Max does with Johnny the Boy at the end of the movie.
  • The hacksaw scenario is also played out in very similar fashion during the closings scenes in an episode of American Gothic with Lucas Buck using almost identical dialogue to a criminal who tried to escape from Trinity.
  • Road Avenger lifts the film's entire premise for its plot.
  • The popular video game series Rockman X (Mega Man X outside Japan) features a character known as VAVA, with the name and personality inspired by Bubba from Mad Max.
  • Buronson, the writer of Hokuto no Ken (Fist of the North Star), the Japanese manga comic and animation, revealed that the main character "Kenshiro" and much of the premise for the story was inspired as an amalgamation of Mad Max and Bruce Lee.
  • In The Crow sequel City of Angels, a scene plays out between the protagonist and character Spider Monkey which mirrors the dialogue and motivation found in the scene between Max and the Mechanic.
  • Pop singer Ke$ha noted that the vibe of her Get $leazy Tour was "very heavily influenced" by the Mad Max series. Several of the costumes she and her friends wear throughout the show are very reminiscent of characters throughout the Mad Max franchise.[3]
  • The 2009 video game Fuel features a post-apocalyptic scenery partly similar to the films.
  • The 2009 album Cancer by Confession, an Australian metalcore band, features quotes from the film as the song titles.
  • The 2011 low-budget film Bellflower references the entire Mad Max as motivation for the male protagonists desire to create their own post-apocalyptic road-gang 'Mother Medusa.'

Mad Max 2[edit]

  • The 23rd Fighting Fantasy gamebook, titled Freeway Fighter, is a direct homage to the Mad Max movies.
  • In the The Boondocks episode "The Fried Chicken Flu", the final chase scene includes multiple references to the Mad Max films. When the Woodcrest Fried Chicken Flu Militia shows up to take the food and water that Huey has stashed away in his house, one of the militia members is dressed like Lord Humungus with face mask and bare-chested leather straps. As the Freeman family escapes the house with their food and water tied on top their car, Aunty Entity's hairstyle and large earrings (from Thunderdome) are worn by the Woodcrest Militia leader as she orders her gang to get on a school bus to give chase.
  • In the 1985 comedy film Weird Science, Vernon Wells plays "Lord General," a mutant biker reminiscent of his role as "Wez" in Mad Max 2.
  • In the 2001 television series Power Rangers Time Force, Vernon Wells played the main antagonist Ransik and was involved in a Mad Max parody in one of the episodes.
  • In the episode of Nickelodeon's Rugrats "The Sky is Falling", there is an end-of-the world scene which parodies Mad Max 2. They are heading down a road in the desert towards an abandoned city. Their vehicles are engineered out of other things (cribs, tricycles, etc.). One of the characters, Chuckie, is piloting a Gyrocopter and is dressed very similarly to the gyro captain (leather cap, shirt, tan colors, et al.).[8]
  • Gary Numan's image for his 1983 Warriors album, singles, and live tour (consisting of a black leather costume with weapon accessories, set against a post-apocalyptic backdrop) was influenced by Mad Max 2.
  • In the Fallout series, many references are made to the film, including armor heavily inspired by Mad Max's leather suit and an advertisement with the player character donning the armor along with a dog at his side. Also, in the first three Fallout games, an Australian Cattle Dog appears, acting as a companion for the player.
  • "Two Tribes" (1984), the second single by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, was influenced by Mad Max 2. The song's lyric "When two tribes go to war" is derived from a line from the film's opening narration, "...two mighty warrior tribes went to war."
  • "Bad Life", the opening track of Public Image Ltd's album This Is What You Want... This Is What You Get (1984), contains several lyrics which refer to Mad Max 2, namely "Now this machine is on the move/Now looking out for number one/The open road/I'm getting gasoline." The lyrics also mention The Humungus. On PiL's prototype version of the This is What You Want... album, Commercial Zone (1983), "Bad Life" is entitled "Mad Max."
  • The game Borderlands was heavily influenced by the art direction and setting of Mad Max 2. Many references are made to elements of the Mad Max universe, including a boss named Mad Mel who looks like Lord Humungous.
  • A federal lawsuit, deciding a major loss for feminist equality was decided by a woman queefing the Road Warrior, an enraged Wez and Lord Humungus, in "Eat, Pray, Queef", an episode in the thirteenth season of South Park. The film is also parodied in the episode "Proper Condom Use" in the fifth series. Additionally, Stan Marsh has a Road Warrior poster in his room.
  • In the Cheers episode "Never Love a Goalie: Part 1," Dr. Frasier Crane is jailed after getting involved in a fight at a hockey game. Upon returning to Cheers, Frasier relates, "Next thing I know I'm in the holding cell of the North End station house with the cast of The Road Warrior," to which Woody Boyd asks, "Did you get Mel Gibson's autograph?"
  • Another episode of The Simpsons, "Lemon of Troy", makes a reference to Mad Max 2 in the car compound scenes. The Springfielders watch their impounded van through binoculars from their vantage point, while the children from Shelbyville ride their bikes in circles around the compound - parodying the scene in Mad Max 2 in which Max and the Gyro Captain observe the bikers circling the oil refinery.
  • WWE Superstar Chris Jericho frequently referred to himself as the "Ayatollah of Rock-n-rolla" during the 2000s. This is a direct reference to one of nicknames Toadie gives The Humungus in the film.
  • In the ReBoot animated TV series, episode 17 is titled Bad Bob and is clearly based on the Mad Max universe, taking place in a desert where the heroes and villains fight while driving tuned cars and motorcycles. At the end of the episode, there is a car chase with Bob driving a semi truck (which Megabyte "rebooted" into, and containing the energy that Megabyte attempted to steal) similar to the truck in Mad Max 2.
  • On April 18, 2005, in San Antonio, Texas, 29 people organized a re-enactment of the tanker chase scene from The Road Warrior as they were travelling from Boerne to San Antonio to attend a movie marathon. Several motorists reported to police a "militia" armed with machine guns surrounding a tanker truck. When police pulled over the convoy, they found out the machine guns were fake; 9 of the participants were arrested and charged with obstruction of a highway and two other re-enactors were arrested for obstruction of a highway and carrying illegal knives. As a result, the movie marathon was cancelled. One of the re-enactors recorded video proving that the convoy was in fact in compliance with traffic laws, and all charges were later dropped.
  • The World of Warcraft game features a minor villain called "The Ginormus" whose looks and feel appear to be inspired by Lord Humunugus'. He is referenced as "Ayatollah of Kaja Cola" and also quotes Lord Humungus during battle.
  • In the level creator DLC for Portal 2, Cave Johnson, the narrator says "Cave Johnson here. Just a reminder that the core goal of Aperture Gas-Finding Science is to find gas, so make sure you let us know if you see any. If we meet our quarterly gas-finding target, I promise you we will don our bondage gear, fuel our death cars, and drive around in circles, whooping it up and shooting arrows at people. Who is ready to rule the wasteland? Alright, start looking."[9]
  • Both professional wrestling tag teams The Road Warriors and Demolition (professional wrestling) were based on the second Mad Max movie. Hawk and Animal had Mohawks and wore facepaint and spiked football pads to the ring. Ax and Smash wore spiked black leather outfits and hockey masks, (and also facepaint), similar to The Humungus character.
  • The professional wrestling gimmick Lord Humongous is based upon The Humungus.
  • An 1980s board game called Thunder Road is loosely inspired to the final chase scene. Cover art and miniature vehicles resemble those seen in the movie.
  • A Nightline report on increasing violence amongst American motorists began with a clip of the film's climatic gauntlet sequence with Tom Brokaw concluding with "Don't worry, it's not that bad, yet."

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome[edit]

  • The episode of The Simpsons in which Mel Gibson guest-stars is entitled "Beyond Blunderdome", and contains several visual references to the Mad Max films. Whilst making a getaway from the film studio, Gibson and Homer Simpson hijack "The Road Warrior Car" from the auto museum (the car resembles The Humungus' vehicle in Mad Max 2). When Gibson pushes aside the Mad Max dummy in the car, he says "Shove over, junior!"
  • The Family Guy episode "Lethal Weapons" has Lois fighting with her tae-jitsu teacher; before starting the fight, she yells, "Spin the wheel, raggedy man." This is a reference to when Aunty Entity calls Mad Max raggedy man.
  • The Futurama episode "Raging Bender" contains a parody of the "Two men enter, one man leaves" line from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Describing the sport of robot wrestling, Professor Hubert Farnsworth says, "There are no rules. Two robots enter, one robot leaves, then later the other robot leaves after being declared the winner."
  • In episode #706 (Laserblast) of the television show Mystery Science Theater 3000, Mike and the bots imagined hypothetical situations where when someone in real-life happens to mention "a thunderdome," you can be ready to reply "Come on, can't we just get beyond Thunderdome?"
  • In the music video of 2Pac's "California Love", elements from this film were used including car chases in the desert and the Thunderdome itself. The director of the video, Hype Williams, was inspired by this film when making "California Love."[11]
  • In the game Borderlands, many references are made to elements of the Mad Max universe, including Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot, which features a series of challenges in a Thunderdome setting and an achievement titled, "Can't We Get Beyond Thunderdome?".
  • In the track from Snoop Dogg, "Gangbanging 101" it is referenced "we just slip and slide out, we rip and ride out Let it see known, nigga welcome to da Thunderdome."[12]
  • In the video game Fallout: New Vegas there are two achievements titled "Blast Mastery" and "You Run Bartertown", named after a character and a quote by the same character in the film. The image for "Blast Mastery" has Vault Boy wearing Blaster's helmet.
  • In the movie Waiting..., the character Floyd welcomes a newly hired employee with the line "Welcome to the Thunderdome, bitch".
  • Kimya Dawson references it in her song "The Beer" saying "I was dressed like Tina Turner in Beyond Thunderdome."
  • In Superbad two of the main characters are told, "Welcome to Thunderdome." as they arrive at a house party.
  • The Goth/Industrial dance organizers Death Guild have built a working Thunderdome at Burning Man since 1998. Battles are done with soft weapons, and a trademark "0 days since last injury" sign adorn the dome. As in the movie, onlookers climb the sides of the dome for a better view.
  • In the comedy film Liar Liar, Fletcher Reede, played by Jim Carrey, refers to Tina Turner as "...beyond Thunderdome" when speaking to his client Samantha Cole, played by Jennifer Tilly.
  • While referring to his digestive system, Meatwad says, "It's like the Thunderdome in here, only two men enter, no man leaves. Rated R. Starring Mel Gibson and Master Blaster." in season 3 episode 2 of Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
  • In the manga Princess Resurrection, an arc is based around Mad Max 2 style marauding vampires on motorcycles attacking a truck. Then in later half of the arc the main characters are forced to fight in a "Death Dome", with the champion being an enormous cyclops with a helmet like the character Blaster.
  • In the VH1 TV show I Hate My 30's, in the episode, "Always a Bridesmaid to order," characters Corey, Bruce and Travis play, "Beyond Pokerdome," a game of poker with each of them dressed as various characters from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Bruce is dressed as Aunty Entity, Corey as Master Blaster and Travis as Max.
  • There is a conference room at 3M headquarters in Maplewood, Minnesota officially named The Thunderdome complete with a small image from the movie.
  • In the Blizzard game StarCraft 2, a cheat code for more resources is called "whorunbartertown".
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in the episode, "Showtime," Buffy gets ready to fight a super-vampire, saying, "Welcome to Thunderdome." Character Andrew goes on to say, "Two men enter, one man leaves."
  • In the British science fiction series Doctor Who, during actor Matt Smith's time as The Doctor, he was referred to as "Raggedy man" by companion Amelia Pond several times.


  1. ^ McDonough, Maitland. "Not Quite Hollywood: the Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!". Film Journal International. Vol. 112, no. 8., Aug. 2009. p.73
  2. ^ "Mad Max References Puretone - Addicted To Bass". Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  3. ^ O'Donnell, Kevin (2011-02-11). "Ke$ha Talks U.$. Tour: "It's an Epic Dance Party"". Spin Magazine. Spin Media. Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  4. ^ "Five Favorite Films With Guillermo Del Toro". 
  5. ^ "David Fincher's Favorite Movies of all Time". 
  6. ^ "The Reformation of a Rebel Without a Crew". 
  7. ^ "James Cameron Interview". 
  8. ^ "Mad Max References: Rugrats". 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Wilson, Elliott (April 2005). "XXL". Pop Shots (Harris Publications). pp. 131–135. 
  12. ^ "