List of cultural references to A Clockwork Orange

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Popular culture references to Anthony Burgess' novel A Clockwork Orange (1962) and Stanley Kubrick's 1971 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]


  • The film version influenced bands' fashion styles.[4]


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.[5]

Film criticism[edit]

The June 2006 issue of Entertainment Weekly named The Passion of the Christ the most controversial film of all time, followed by Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange.[16]


The original Chinese title of A Perfect Crime (下面我该干些什么?) by Chinese author A Yi (translated by Anna Holmwood) was based on the opening line of A Clockwork Orange: "What's it going to be then, eh?"[17][18]


  • David Bowie started most of his concerts during his Ziggy Stardust period with Beethoven’s 9th from the film's soundtrack, used the film as inspiration for stage costumes during that time, and used Alex's word for his friends when Bowie wrote the line “say droogie don’t crash here!” for the song Suffragette City.[19]
  • Post-punk band Scars referenced the film on "Horrorshow", the B-side of their debut single, "Adult/ery" (1979).[21]
  • Heaven 17, also from Sheffield, England and formed in 1980, named themselves after a fictional pop group in the book and film.[22]
  • Rosemary's Babies, a Lodi, NJ hardcore punk band formed in 1981, included a reference to "ultraviolence" in their song "Happy Song".[23] 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.[24] Both J.R. and drummer Eerie Von dressed as droogs during live performances.
  • Seminal punk rock band Ramones named their instrumental song "Durango 95" after the car given a joyride by Alex and his droogs. The band dressed up as characters from A Clockwork Orange on the front of the album Too Tough to Die (1984).
  • The music video for "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns n Roses featured scenes of lead singer Axl Rose 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.[26]
  • 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])", including the single "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 released an English version called "The Return of Alex".[27]
  • British indie group Campag Velocet took the word "Velocet" from a word written on the wall in the opening scene of the film.[29]
  • 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)[29][30]
  • Blur borrowed imagery from A Clockwork Orange for the music video to their song "The Universal" (1995).[10]
  • The song "Well, Well, Well" from the album Giant Robot (1996) by Buckethead's band of the same name contains samples from the film.
  • On the D12 track "American Psycho" from Devil's Night (2001), Eminem referenced the film in the line "So lock your doors, drop to the floors, get your shotguns drawn, here comes another Clockwork Orange".
  • Kylie Minogue wore a white jumper and fake eyelashes, similar to Alex's, while performing on her 2001 Fever tour.[10]
  • Japanese metal band Dir En Grey referenced A Clockwork Orange in their song "Marmalade Chainsaw", from 2003 album Vulgar.
  • 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.[34]
  • A Clockwork Orange, like other dystopian science-fiction novels, had an important influence on industrial and cyberpunk music.[4]
  • Lady Gaga used music from the film as entrance music during concerts in 2010.[39]
  • 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 album Ultraviolence (2014) is likely a reference to A Clockwork Orange.
  • Cyberpunk band Sigue Sigue Sputnik referenced the film numerous times in their work. Debut single "Love Missile F1-11" opened with the word "ultraviolence" sampled directly from Alex's opening monologue in the film. This was followed by a few bars of the film's opening theme which faded into the song. Later, the phrase "righty-right", sampled from the scene where the hospitalized Alex is being assessed by the psychologist, can be heard. Part of the video made to accompany the single's release was shot in the Trinity Road underpass in Wandsworth, the same underpass where Alex and his droogs attack the vagrant at the beginning of the film. The band also recorded a song called "Ultra Violence" for their album The First Generation which featured some of the lyrics in Nadsat.



  • 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".)[42] 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 was 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.[43] 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 Alex used to kill the Cat Lady.
  • The Simpsons contains frequent references to the film.[44][45] In the episode "Dog of Death" (March 12, 1992), 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" (October 29, 1992), Bart dresses up as Alex DeLarge from the film. Also, in the episode "Duffless" (February 18, 1993), as a result of Lisa's electroshock therapy, Bart experiences 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' chest after his therapy. In the episode "Treehouse of Horror XXI", at the end of a segment titled "Master and Cadaver", Maggie is seen wearing Alex's hat and eyelash. She drinks milk from her bottle with the film's theme song playing. On October 19, 2014, the show parodied the film with a segment titled "A Clockwork Yellow" in the episode "Treehouse of Horror XXV".[46]
  • 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.[47]
  • 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 title of the Fanboy & Chum Chum episode "A Bopwork Orange" directly referenced A Clockwork Orange; the title card of the episode also directly parodied the film's poster. The episode also featured Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and its plot could be seen as a parody of the film.
  • In the British TV show The Thick of It, Nicola Murray refers to her daughter as "...turning into a total droog". In a later episode, Phil Smith refers to the character of Terri Coverley as "Terri's Clockwork Orange" (also a reference to Terry's Chocolate Orange, a type of chocolate in England).
  • In "Moving On" (2013), a season 9 episode of The Office, Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) nicknames Clark Duke (Clark Green) "Clarkwork Orange".
  • In "Untitled", the fifth episode of season 5 of Louie (2015), Louie's daughter Lily describes watching the movie during a sleepover to her father while they shop in a grocery store. Louie responds negatively.
  • In "Contorno", the fifth episode of season 3 of "Hannibal" (2015), the same section of Rossini's "The Thieving Magpie" used in A Clockwork Orange was played on a record player during a fight between Jack Crawford and Hannibal Lecter in Florence, Italy. Executive producer Bryan Fuller described the scene as "a full on homage to Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange" on Twitter.[48]
  • In the 2015 SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Squid Plus One/The Executive Treatment", Patrick Star is assigned prisoner number "665321" in reference to "655321", Alex's prisoner number in A Clockwork Orange.


Video games[edit]

  • The opening cutscene to Rare Nintendo 64 video game Conker's Bad Fur Day is a homage to the film.[52]
  • 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.
  • The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth includes an item called The Ludovico Technique.
  • In Grand Theft Auto IV, playing for a combined total of around 75 hours will cause the game to state the player's Addiction Level as "Ready for the old ultra-violence". This is a reference to the phrase said by Alex in the beginning of the film.[citation needed]
  • In Borderlands 2, various Vladof guns are named using the Nadsat slang from the movie and book.


  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. ^ a b Collins, Karen (2005). "Dead Channel Surfing: The commonalities between cyberpunk literature and industrial music". Popular Music (24). pp. 165–178. 
  5. ^ Russel, Catherine, 1995, Narrative Mortality: Death, Closure, and New Wave Cinemas, University of Minnesota Press, ISBN 0-8166-2485-2.
  6. ^ Reagan, Gillian (2012-03-23). "For Joker, Heath Ledger Channels Sid Vicious, A Clockwork Orange | The New York Observer". Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  7. ^ Richards, Jeffrey, 1997, Films and British National Identity: From Dickens to Dad's Army, Manchester University, ISBN 0-7190-4743-9.
  8. ^ Reservoir Dogs, Films in Review[dead link]
  9. ^ Nelmes, Jill, 2003, An Introduction to Film Studies, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-26268-2.
  10. ^ a b c Biswell, Adam (2012), "Foreword", in Burgess, Anthony, A Clockwork Orange, New York, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, pp. xx 
  11. ^ Rowell, Erica (2007), The Brothers Grim: The Films of Ethan and Joel Coen, Scarecrow Publishing 
  12. ^ "Trivia time! The top movie easter eggs". Virgin Media. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  13. ^ Jones, J.R. "Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  14. ^ "Wah-Wah (2006)". BBC. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  15. ^ "A Brief Survey of 'A Clockwork Orange' in Pop Culture". Flavorwire. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  16. ^ a b c d "Entertainment Weekly". June 2006.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "EW" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
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  18. ^
  19. ^ O'Leary, Chris (5 May 2010). "Suffragette City". Pushing Ahead of the Dames. Retrieved 5 July 2015. 
  20. ^ Adams, Chris Adams. Turquoise Days: The Weird World of Echo & the Bunnymen. 
  21. ^ "Julian Cope’s Album of the Month". Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  22. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 248–249. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  23. ^ "rbabies.lyr". 
  24. ^ "Rosemary's Babies". Ghastly Records. 
  25. ^ "100 Best Albums of the 80s". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  26. ^ Tannenbaum, Rob (2011). I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. Penguin Books. ISBN 1469204142. 
  27. ^ "Top five adaptations of A Clockwork Orange". Time Out Melbourne. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  28. ^ "Single 027". U2wanderer. 
  29. ^ a b Wyeth, Wyndham (April 24, 2011). "23 Band Names Inspired by Literature". Paste. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  30. ^ James, Martin (16 June 2000). "How to milk Blondie for all they're worth". The Independent. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  31. ^ "Biography of Cage". Definitive Jux. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
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  33. ^ "Montreal *Mirror - Rockin’ and rollin’ in sad, dark Poland". Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
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  38. ^ "Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Star One's "Victim of the Modern Age" Release Information". 14 December 2010. Retrieved 2013-12-30. 
  39. ^ "A Clockwork Orange: The droog rides again". The Guardian. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  40. ^ "In bold color, My Chemical Romance returns to Sayreville". The Star-Ledger. May 9, 2011. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  41. ^ Mad June 1973 issue #159 contents and cover image
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  43. ^ Modell, Josh (October 27, 2010). "The Coon 2: Hindsight". AV Club. Retrieved Nov 1, 2010. 
  44. ^ Irwin, William & Skoble, Aeon J. & Conard, Mark T. (2001). The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer. Open Court Publishing. ISBN 0-8126-9433-3. 
  45. ^ "D'oh! Bart's unbeatable". Daily Telegraph. 
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  47. ^ "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted! (Parts 1 & 2) Episode Allusions". Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  48. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  49. ^ 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. 
  50. ^ "TNA Wrestling results – March 3, 2005". Online World of Wrestling. 2005-03-03. Retrieved 2013-11-06. 
  51. ^ Orejan, Jamie (2011). Football/Soccer History and Tactics, McFarland, p. 117
  52. ^ 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]