The song's title was originally a popular slogan among the 1960s Black Power movements in the United States. Its lyrics either mention or allude to several television series, advertising slogans and icons of entertainment and news coverage that serve as examples of what "the revolution will not" be or do.
Mendel Rivers, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee during the period of the Vietnam War (Rivers' name appears in the original 1970 recording, but not in the re-recorded 1971 version, being replaced by Spiro Agnew)
Spiro Agnew, 39th vice president of the United States under Nixon
"Dove in your bedroom", an advertising image associated with Dove anti-perspirant deodorant
Reference to "Put a tiger in your tank", an Esso (now Exxon) advertising slogan created by Chicago copywriter Emery Smith
"Giant in your toilet bowl," a reference to Liquid-Plumr commercials saying that it cleared so well it was like "having a giant in your toilet bowl" with an animation of a large arm using a plunger on your toilet.
Reference to "Things go better with Coke", a Coca-Cola advertising slogan
Reference to "Fights germs that may cause bad breath", from Listerine advertising
Reference to "Let Hertz put you in the driver's seat", advertising slogan for Hertz car rental
In the beginning of hip hop artist Common's song "The 6th Sense" from the 2000 album Like Water for Chocolate he states "The revolution will not be televised, the revolution is here."
Elvis Costello's song "Invasion Hit Parade" from his 1991 album Mighty Like a Rose contains the lines "Incidentally the revolution will be televised/With one head for business and another for good looks/Until they started arriving with their rubber aprons and their butcher's hooks," an allusion to the song.
The Sarah Jones song "Your Revolution," a feminist interpretation of the song criticizing misogyny in mainstream hip hop, with the key line "Your revolution will not happen between these thighs". A radio station that played the song was fined by the FCC.
On their 1999 album Ad Finité the band Genaside II has a song called "The Genaside Will Not Be Televised," where some words of the original text were changed, such as different film actors being named.
The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, a book published in 2009, references the song in its title.
In 2010, New Statesman magazine listed it as one of the “Top 20 Political Songs”.
In 2011, after Gil's death, Lupe Fiasco released a poem dedicated to him titled "The Television Will Not Be Revolutionized".
In June 2013 a sign quoting the poem's title (in Greek) was posted on a window inside the Greek state broadcaster ERT as employees resisted its closure by the government under pressure from the troika of the EU, ECB and the IMF to cut public spending under their austerity regime.