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 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]




  • In an 1973 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.
  • A season 4 episode (1981) of BBC children's series Grange Hill featured a shoplifting scene set in a clothes shop called Clockwork Orange.
  • The Simpsons contains frequent references to the film.[48][49] 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".[50]
  • 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".)[51] 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.[52] 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.
  • In the British TV show The Thick of It (2005-2012), Nicola Murray referred to her daughter as "...turning into a total droog". In a later episode, Phil Smith referred 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 the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted!" (2009), 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.[53]
  • The title of the Fanboy & Chum Chum episode "A Bopwork Orange" (2010) 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 Regular Show episode "The Unicorns Have Got to Go" (2010), one of the unicorns is clearly dressed as Alex DeLarge and/or one of his droogs.
  • In "A Going Concern", a second season episode of Archer that aired February 3, 2011, Dr. Krieger uses a modified Ludovico technique on rival spy agency head Len Trexler to prevent him from marrying Sterling Archer's mother, Malory Archer.
  • In the series Franklin & Bash (2011-2014), Malcolm McDowell's character uses the phrase "bit of the old in and out".
  • 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.[54]
  • 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.
  • In the Star vs. the Forces of Evil episode "St. Olga's Reform School for Wayward Princesses" (2015), the brainwashing video Marco is forced to watch is similar to the Ludovico technique used in the film.


Video games[edit]

  • The opening cutscene to Rare Nintendo 64 video game Conker's Bad Fur Day (2001) was a homage to the film.[59]
  • In Grand Theft Auto IV (2008), 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", a reference to the phrase said by Alex in the beginning of the film.
  • 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 (2012) were references to Alex and some of the film's themes.
  • A limited Clockwork Orange-style costume for Moe Szyslak (called "Moog") was released for the 2012 game The Simpsons: Tapped Out as a tie-in to the annual The 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 Borderlands 2 (2012), various Vladof guns are named using the Nadsat slang from the movie and book.
  • The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (2014) includes an item called the Ludovico Technique.


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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]