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WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

A common way to name works:

  1. Pick some reasonably apropos quote from something famous. Shakespeare and The Bible are as always the most common.
  2. Either use that as your title, or take some reasonably indicative noun phrase from it.
  3. Optionally, mess with the phrasing slightly to make it work better as a title or fit the setting.
  4. If all this sounds like too much work, pick any three or four consecutive words from William Butler Yeats' poem "The Second Coming".
  5. Bonus points if a character quotes the title in the work itself.

Despite the name, the quote need not come from literature per se. The most common non-literary sources for titles are probably songs (see also Titled After the Song) and political speeches. Many of these quotes will be Stock Quotes. A subtrope of Shout-Out.

Examples of Literary Allusion Title include:

The Bible

Comic Books

  • The Sandman
    • More than Rubies, multi-issue arc (Proverbs 31:10)
  • Watchmen
    • "The Judge of All the Earth," Chapter 3 (Genesis 18:25)
    • "A Brother to Dragons," Chapter 7 (Job 30:29)
  • Kingdom Come, mini-series by Mark Waid and Alex Ross(Matthew 6:10 or Luke 11:2)
  • Uncanny X-Men #100, "Greater Love Hath No X-Man" (from John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this...")


  • The Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman. The first line in the movie is even someone quoting the Bible passage where the phrase is mentioned. (Revelation 8:1)
  • Through a Glass Darkly (Såsom i en Spegel - 1961) Bergman (1 Corinthians 13:12)
  • The 6th Day (Genesis 1:31)
  • Joyful Noise (Psalms 66:1, 81:1, 95:1, 95:2, 98:4, 98:6, and 100:1)


Live Action TV

  • Babylon 5
    • In The Beginning (movie made from the pilot) (Genesis 1:1 or John 1:1)
    • "Revelations"
    • "Passing Through Gethsemane" (allusion to Matthew 26:36 or Mark 14:32)
  • Battlestar Galactica Reimagined (reboot)
    • "Valley of Darkness" (Psalms 23:4)
    • "Exodus"
    • "Rapture" (1 Thessalonians 4:17 via some confusing etymology)
    • "He That Believeth In Me" (John 7:38)
    • "Revelations"
  • Dollhouse
    • "The Left Hand" (Matthew 6:3)
  • Due South
    • "An Eye for an Eye" (Exodus 21:24)
  • ER
    • "My Brother's Keeper" (Genesis 4:9)
    • "Thy Will Be Done" (Matthew 6:13)
  • Heroes
    • "Genesis"
    • "Our Father" (Matthew 6:9 or Luke 11:2)
    • "Brother's Keeper" (Genesis 4:9)
    • "Upon This Rock" (Matthew 16:18)
  • Lost
    • "Exodus"
    • "The 23rd Psalm"
    • "Stranger in a Strange Land" (Exodus 2:22)
    • Possibly "316" in reference to the passage John 3:16
    • Possibly "Numbers"
  • Millennium
    • "Powers, Principalities, Thrones, and Dominions" (Colossians 1:16)
    • "Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me" (Playing off of "Get thee behind me, Satan" in Luke 4:8)
    • "The Fourth Horseman" (Revelation 6:7)
    • "Through a Glass Darkly" (1 Corinthians 13:13)
  • Northern Exposure
    • "All Is Vanity" (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
    • "Revelations"
    • "Heal Thyself" (Luke 4:23)
  • Power Rangers RPM
    • "Brother's Keeper" (Genesis 4:9)
  • Quantum Leap
    • "The Right Hand of God (multiple occurrences including Psalms 63:6 and Mark 16:19)
    • "Thou Shalt Not" (Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5)
    • "Deliver Us From Evil" (Matthew 6:13)
  • Red Dwarf
    • "Legion" (Mark 5:9)
  • Star Trek
    • "Sins of the Father" (TNG) (Exodus 20:5 or Deuteronomy 5:9)
    • "...Nor The Battle To The Strong" (DS9) (Ecclesiastes 9:11)
    • "Let He Who Is Without Sin" (DS9) (John 8:7)
    • "Eye of the Needle" (Voyager) (Matthew 19:24)
    • "Good Shepherd" (Voyager) (John 10:11 or John 10:14)
    • "In A Mirror, Darkly" (Enterprise) (1 Corinthians 13:12)
  • Stargate SG-1
    • "The Fourth Horseman" (Revelation 6:7)
  • Supernatural
    • "In The Beginning" (Genesis 1:1 or John 1:1)
    • "No Rest For The Wicked" (Isaiah 48:22)
  • War of the Worlds TV series
    • "The Walls of Jericho" (Hebrews 11:30)
    • "Thy Kingdom Come" (Matthew 6:10 or Luke 11:2)
    • "A Multitude of Idols" (Ezekiel 14:4)
    • "Eye for an Eye" (Exodus 21:24)
    • "The Second Seal" (Revelation 6:3)
    • "The Good Samaritan" (Luke 10)
    • "Among the Philistines" (2 Chronicles 26:6)
    • "He Feedeth Among the Lilies" (Song of Solomon 2:16)
    • "The Prodigal Son" (Luke 15)
    • "The Meek Shall Inherit" (Matthew 5:5)
    • "Unto Us A Child Is Born" (Isaiah 9:6)
    • "Vengeance Is Mine" (Romans 12:19)
    • "So Shall Ye Reap" (Galatians 6:7)
  • The West Wing episodes:
    • "Evidence of Things Not Seen" (Hebrews 11:1)
    • "In Excelsis Deo" (Luke 2:14)
    • "Isaac and Ishmael" (Genesis 17:20-21)
    • "Shibboleth" (Judges 12:6)
    • "Take This Sabbath Day" (Deuteronomy 5:12)


  • White Stripes album "Get Behind Me Satan" (Matthew 16:23)
  • The Fiery Furnaces get their name from Daniel 3:6.
    • The song "Straight Street" references the "Street Called Straight" (Acts 9:10-19).
  • "All Is Vanity" (Ecclesiastes 1:2), a song by the Manic Street Preachers, from "Journal For Plague Lovers"
  • Nick Cave album "Kicking Against the Pricks" (Acts 26:14)
  • In an interesting example, the band Avenged Sevenfold actually takes their name from Genesis 4:15, and lampshades that with the song "Chapter 4."


  • Balm in Gilead (Jeremiah 8:22)
  • The Little Foxes (Song of Solomon 2:15)
  • The Voice of the Turtle (Song of Solomon 2:12)

Video Games

  • StarCraft
    • Zerg mission 8: Eye for an Eye (Exodus 21:24)
  • Ultimate Doom
    • Thy Flesh Consumed (Proverbs 5:11)
    • E4 M1: Hell Beneath (Proverbs 15:24)
    • E4 M2: Perfect Hatred (Psalm 139:22)
    • E4 M3: Sever The Wicked (Matthew 13:49)
    • E4 M4: Unruly Evil (James 3:8)
    • E4 M5: They Will Repent (Luke 16:30)
    • E4 M6: Against Thee Wickedly (Psalm 139:20)
    • E4 M7: And Hell Followed (Revelation 6:8)
    • E4 M8: Unto The Cruel (Proverbs 5:9)
  • Gears of War chapter 5-3 "Pale Horse" (Revelation 6:8)
  • Mass Effect mission titles, particularly in the sequel:
    • "The Prodigal" (Luke 15:11-32)
    • "A House Divided" (Luke 11:17)
    • More of a Literary Allusion Name, but the character Legion is named after a part of Mark 5:9 ("My name is Legion: for we are many.").

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Whateley Universe: the origin novel for Phase has five chapters, titled: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy

Western Animation

  • "Sins of the Father", episode of The New Batman Adventures (Exodus 20:5 or Deuteronomy 5:9)
  • "She of Little Faith", episode of The Simpsons ("O ye of little faith," repeated phrase in Matthew)
  • "My Brother's Keeper", episode of Danny Phantom (Genesis 4:9)


Comic Books

  • The Sandman
    • "Sound and Fury" (Macbeth V.i)
    • "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
    • "The Tempest"
    • The above two are directly related to the plays mentioned, even including text from them.



Live Action TV


Video Games

  • "This Vortal Coil", Half-Life 2 Episode 2 (play on "this mortal coil" from Hamlet III.i)
  • Star Trek: Judgment Rites's last two episodes are titled "Though this be Madness" and "Yet There's Method In It" (Hamlet II.ii)

Web Original

Western Animation


Lord Acton

Comic Books


  • Absolute Power, novel by David Baldacci, later made into a movie starring Clint Eastwood

Live-Action TV

  • "Absolute Power", Stargate SG-1 episode (letter to Mandell Creighton)


Douglas Adams

Live-Action TV

John Quincy Adams

Live-Action TV


Live-Action TV

  • "Prometheus Unbound", Stargate SG-1 episode (title of play)


  • Prometheus Unbound, play by Percy Shelley

Western Animation





  • "Men of Good Fortune", The Sandman issue (Rhetoric, treatise)

Neil Armstrong

Live-Action TV

  • "One Small Step", episode of Star Trek: Voyager (sentence said upon landing on the moon)
  • "One Giant Leap", episode of Heroes (sentence said upon landing on the moon)
  • "One Small Step" and "One Giant Leap", episodes of Eureka

Isaac Asimov


  • The titles of In Memory Yet Green and In Joy Still Felt — a two-volume autobiography — were drawn by the author from a poem by Asimov. It's something of a Zig-Zagging Trope, though, since it's Asimov's autobiography.

James Aubrey

Comic Books

  • Brief Lives, multi-issue The Sandman arc and subsequent single-volume collection (title of biography collection)

The Bhagavad Gita


Live-Action TV

  • "I Am Become Death", episode of Heroes. Given the nuclear explosion during this episode, this is almost certainly by way of Oppenheimer, who was quoting the Bhagavad Gita.


Otto von Bismarck


  • Blood and Iron, novel by Elizabeth Bear (1862 speech). Otto himself was quoting Quintilian, but a Title Drop in the book makes it clear that the Bismarck reference is the intended one.
  • Blood and Iron, novel (first of the American Empire trilogy) by Harry Turtledove
  • (Non-Fiction): Gold and Iron: Bismarck, Bleichröder, and the Building of the German Empire, a double biography of Bismarck and his banker, Gerson Bleichröder, by Fritz Stern.

Western Animation

William Blake

  • "Tiger! Tiger!", a Jungle Book story by Rudyard Kipling ("The Tyger", poem)
  • Tiger! Tiger!, original title of The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
  • "Tyger! Tyger!", episode of Batman: The Animated Series
  • Tyger Tyger, book by Kersten Hamilton
  • Burning Bright, novel by John Steinbeck ("The Tyger", poem)
  • In the Forests of the Night, a vampire novel by then-teenaged Amelia Atwater-Rhodes; the villain even quotes the poem. This has become a recurring theme with her book titles; see the rest of the page for more examples. ("The Tyger", poem)
  • What Dread Hand, short story collection by Christianna Brand ("The Tyger", poem)
  • "What Dread Hand", episode of Sky
  • "Fearful Symmetry" - The X-Files episode ("The Tyger", poem)
  • Fearful Symmetry, a Daniel Amos album
  • "Fearful Symmetry", Watchmen, Chapter 5
  • Fearful Symmetry: Kraven's Last Hunt - a Spider-Man six-part arc from 1987, which also quotes the poem in the first and last installment.
  • "Fearful Symmetry", a Justice League Unlimited episode
    • Bonus Points: also a deliberate double reference to the Watchmen chapter. The JLU episode co-stars The Question, while the Watchman chapter focuses on Rorschach, Moore's Captain Ersatz for The Question.
  • Her Fearful Symmetry, novel by Audrey Niffenegger
  • "Little Girl Lost", an episode of Castle (title of poem)
  • "Little Girl Lost", episode of The Twilight Zone
  • Forests of the Night and Fearful Symmetries(: The Return of Nohar Rajasthan), both novels by S. Andrew Swann, both of which have the same main character who's a sentient tiger...

The Book of Common Prayer

David Bowie

  • Life On Mars (title of song)
  • Ashes to Ashes, as mentioned above (title of song)
  • Diamond Dogs by Alastair Reynolds (title of song and album)
  • "Turn and Face the Strange", Heroes episode ("Changes", song)
    • And it could be argued that the series name Heroes may be an example, although it may be coincidence.
  • Velvet Goldmine (title of an obscure-ish song)

Ray Bradbury


  • Fahrenheit 9/11 - The Michael Moore documentary about the presidency of George W. Bush, referencing Bradbury's classic Fahrenheit 451. Mr. Bradbury accused Mr. Moore of "stealing" his title, though he himself has invoked the Literary Allusion Title several times in his career.

John Bradford

Anne Dudley Bradstreet

  • In Ashes Lie, novel by Marie Brennan ("Verses on the Burning of our House, July 18, 1666", poem)

Mel Brooks

  • "It's Good To Be King", Stargate SG-1 episode (History of the World, Part 1, film)
  • "It's Good To Be King", song by Tom Petty
  • "It's Good To Be The King... Sometimes", autobiography of Jerry Lawler
  • "The French Mistake", Supernatural episode (Blazing Saddles, film)

Phillips Brooks

  • "O Little Town...", Eureka episode ("O Little Town of Bethlehem", Christmas carol)
  • The Silent Stars Go By, a science fiction novel by James White, 1991.
  • The Silent Stars Go By, a Doctor Who novel by Dan Abnett, 2010.

Dee Brown

Robert Browning

  • The Dark Tower series by Stephen King ("Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came", poem)
  • Grow Old Along With Me, the original title of Pebble In The Sky by Isaac Asimov ("Rabbi Ben Ezra", poem)

Frances Burney

Robert Burns

Lord Byron


Live-Action TV

  • "Wolf in the Fold", Star Trek episode ("The Destruction of Sennacherib", poem)
  • "She Walks in Beauty", Bonanza episode (title of poem)

Julius Caesar

Live-Action TV

  • "The Die Is Cast", Star Trek: Deep Space 9 episode (remark attributed to Caesar in Suetonius's Divus Julius and Plutarch's Life of Pompey)

John Cale

  • "A Stronger Loving World," Watchmen, Chapter 12 ("Sanities", song)

W. B. Cannon

Live-Action TV

  • "Fight or Flight", episode of Heroes (Bodily Changes in Pain, Hunger, Fear and Rage: An Account of Recent Researches into the Function of Emotional Excitement, scientific paper)

Lewis Carroll

  • "Through the Looking Glass", Angel episode (title of book)
  • "Through the Looking Glass", Star Trek: Deep Space 9 episode
  • "Through the Looking Glass", Farscape episode
  • Lost episodes:
  • "White Rabbit", song by Jefferson Airplane.
  • Into the Looking Glass series, by John Ringo and Travis Taylor
  • "Mimsy Were The Borogoves", a short story by Lewis Padgett.


Johnny Cash

Live-Action TV

  • "The Folsom Prison Blues", Supernatural episode (title of song)

Raymond Chandler

Live-Action TV

  • "The Long Goodbye", Beverly Hills, 90210 episode (title of novel)
  • "The Long Goodbye", Casualty episode (title of novel)
  • "The Long Goodbye", Dallas episode (title of novel)
  • "The Long Goodbye", Dawson's Creek episode (title of novel)
  • "The Long Goodbye", Duet episode (title of novel)
  • "The Long Goodbye", Flying Blind episode (title of novel)
  • "The Long Goodbye", Full House episode (title of novel)
  • "The Long Goodbye", Growing Pains episode (title of novel)
  • "The Long Goodbye", McLeod's Daughters episode (title of novel)
  • "The Long Goodbye", The Persuaders! episode (title of novel)
  • "The Long Goodbye", The Rifleman episode (title of novel)
  • "The Long Goodbye", Stargate Atlantis episode (title of novel)
  • "The Long Goodbye", The Torkelsons episode (title of novel)
  • "The Long Goodbye", The West Wing episode (title of novel)

Child Ballads / folk songs

Frederic Chopin

  • Preludes and Nocturnes, one-volume collection of The Sandman issues (characteristic, frequently collected musical forms)

Winston Churchill

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

William Congreve

  • "Hell Hath No Fury", episode of Castle (The Mourning Bride, play)
  • "Hell Hath No Fury", episode of Charmed

Joseph Conrad

  • Bart of Darkness, episode of The Simpsons ("Heart of Darkness", novel).

Constitution of the United States of America

  • "He Shall, from Time to Time...", The West Wing episode (Article II, Section 3)
  • Protect and Defend, Richard North Patterson legal/political thriller (Article II, Section 1)

Elvis Costello

  • "Absent Friends," Watchmen, Chapter 2 ("The Comedians", song)
  • Less Than Zero, novel by Bret Easton Ellis (title of song), and its sequel Imperial Bedrooms (title of album)
  • Blood and Chocolate, novel by Annette Curtis Klause (title of album)
  • What's So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way?", Action Comics #775 (play on "What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?", song)

Salvador Dali

  • Persistence of Memory, novel by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (title of painting)
  • "The Persistence of Memory", episode of Cosmos

Dante Alighieri

  • "Abandon All Hope...", episode of Supernatural (The Divine Comedy, epic poem)

Charles Darwin

  • Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom, non-fiction book by Sean B. Carroll (On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, non-fiction book[1])
  • The Origin of PC's, the prequel to The Order of the Stick.

Philip K. Dick

  • Fringe episode "Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?" from the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (which was adapted into a little movie called Blade Runner).

Charles Dickens

  • "A Tale of Two Cities", The Sandman issue (title of novel)
  • "A Tale of Two Cities", Lost episode
  • "A Tale of Two Pretties", book in The Clique series
  • "A Tale of Two Springfields", episode of The Simpsons
  • "The Mystery of the Old Curio Shop", Northern Exposure episode (an allusion to Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop)
  • He Do The Time Police In Different Voices, collection of David Langford's parody work (alluding to the line "he do the Police in different voices" in Our Mutual Friend)
  • "A Christmas Carol", Doctor Who episode(A Christmas Carol, novel. Appropriate as the entire episode was Yet Another Christmas Carol)

Sugar Ray Dodge

SRD is quite fond of this trope.

Ernest Dowson

  • Gone with the Wind, novel by Margaret Mitchell ("Non Sum Qualis eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae", poem)
  • Arguably the song "Always True To You In My Fashion" from Kiss Me Kate (paraphrased line from "Non Sum Qualis eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae", poem)
  • Days of Wine and Roses, a 1962 film ("Vitae Summa Brevis Nos Spem Incohare Longam", poem)
  • "Days of Wine and Doh'ses, episode of The Simpsons

John Donne

  • For Whom the Bell Tolls, novel by Ernest Hemingway (Meditation XVII, prose poem) Many of the following are more likely to be references to the novel.
  • "For Whom the Bell Tolls", episode of Andromeda
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls, Metallica song
  • "For Whom the Bell Trolls", episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
  • To Your Scattered Bodies Go, novel by Philip Jose Farmer (Holy Sonnet VII)
  • Death Be Not Proud, memoir by John J. Gunther (Holy Sonnet X)
  • "Marge Be Not Proud", episode of The Simpsons
  • Valediction, Spenser novel by Robert B. Parker (who featured many allusive titles in the 1980s) (shortened title of "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning", poem)
  • "Catch a Falling Star", episode of Quantum Leap ("Song", poem)

Arthur Conan Doyle


Al Dubin

Bob Dylan

  • Chapters of Watchmen:
    • "At Midnight, All the Agents...," Chapter 1 ("Desolation Row", song)
    • "Two Riders Were Approaching...," Chapter 10 ("All Along the Watchtower", song)
      • In the movie both of these songs were actually used during the scenes covering the events of those chapters (albeit not the original Bob Dylan versions).
  • "Joker & the Thief" by Wolfmother ("All Along the Watchtower", song)
  • Judas Priest, band ("The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest", song)
  • Rolling Stone Magazine ("Like a Rolling Stone", song).

Albert Einstein

  • "Watchmaker," Watchmen, Chapter 4 (apocryphal remark "If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker")
  • Circumference of Darkness, novel by Jack Henderson (attributed remark "As the circle of light increases, so does the circumference of darkness around it")
  • God's Dice, novel by S. Andrew Swann (1924 letter to Max Born)
  • "God's Dice," Pearl Jam song
  • Subtle is the Lord, Einstein biography by Abraham Pais (1921 remark to Oscar Veblen at Princeton University)

T. S. Eliot

  • Novels by Iain Banks:
    • Consider Phlebas (The Waste Land, poem)
    • Look to Windward (The Waste Land, poem)
  • Doctor Who novel "The Hollow Men" (The Waste Land, poem)
  • The Hollow Men, episode of Dollhouse
  • Stephen King's The Waste Lands (part 3 of The Dark Tower; Eliot's The Waste Land is quoted in the epigraph)
  • This is the Way the World Ends, novel by James Morrow.
  • Time to Murder and Create, novel by Lawrence Block ("The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", poem)
  • Wire in The Blood (Four Quartets, poem), and a few of its episodes:
    • "The Mermaids Singing" (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, poem)
    • "Time to Murder and Create" (same)
  • All of Val McDermid's Tony Hill books (the inspiration for Wire in the Blood) are named after one or two lines in one of his poems with the part written in the beginning of the book.
    • The Mermaids Singing (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)
    • Wire in the Blood (Burnt Norton, Four Quartets)
    • The Last Temptation (Murder in the Cathedral)
    • The Torment of Others (The Dry Salvages, Four Quartets)
    • Beneath the Bleeding (East Coker, Four Quartets)
    • Fever of the Bone (Whispers of Immortality)


Live-Action TV

  • "Whom Gods Destroy", Star Trek episode ("Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad", epigram)

Eleanor Farjeon

  • "Old Ghosts," Watchmen, Chapter 8 ("Hallowe'en", poem)

John Fogerty

Comic Books


Robert Frost

  • "Before I Sleep", Stargate: Atlantis episode ("Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening", poem)
  • "Miles to Go Before I Sleep", song recorded by Celine Dion ("Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening", poem)
  • Perish Twice, novel by Robert B. Parker ("Fire and Ice", poem)
  • "Road Less Traveled", Battlestar Galactica Reimagined episode ("The Road Not Taken", poem)
  • "Road Not Taken", Stargate: SG-1 episode ("The Road Not Taken", poem)
  • "Road Not Taken", MacGyver episode ("The Road Not Taken", poem)
  • Two Roads Diverge, graphic novel by Richard Kelly ("The Road Not Taken", poem)

Galileo Galilei

George Gershwin

Live-Action TV

  • "Rhapsody in Blue", Farscape episode (title of orchestral piece)

W. S. Gilbert

Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar

  • The Madwoman in the Attic, the term for Mrs Rochester in Jane Eyre by which Gilbert and Gubar titled their 1979 feminist analysis of 19th century women writers, went on to be used for the first episode of Cracker and an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Kenneth Grahame

Thomas Gray

  • Far From the Madding Crowd, novel by Thomas Hardy ("Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard", poem)
    • Matchbox 20 also has an album named "Far From the Madding Crowd", though it's unclear which is the source.

Robert Graves

  • "Goodbye to All That", Northern Exposure episode (Good-Bye to All That, autobiography)
  • "Goodbye to All That", Millennium episode
  • "Goodbye to All That", Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode

George Harrison

  • "Taxman, Mr. Thief", Cheap Trick song ("Taxman", song)
  • Here Comes the Sun, Tom Holt novel ("Here Comes the Sun", song)

Ernest Hemingway

O. Henry

  • "The Grift of the Magi", episode of The Simpsons ("The Gift of the Magi", short story)

Henry IV of France

  • "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish", episode of The Simpsons ("a wagon in each barn and a chicken in every pot", attributed).

George Herbert

  • "Is There In Truth No Beauty?", Star Trek episode ("Jordan (I)", poem)

Herman Hesse

  • Steppenwolf, band (title of novel)
  • "Steppenwolf", song by Hawkwind

Buddy Holly

  • "Not Fade Away", episode of Angel (title of song)

Oliver Wendell Holmes



  • "Eris Quod Sum", episode of Heroes (Odes, collection of lyric poems)

A.E Housman

  • The Remorseful Day, the title of the last Inspector Morse novel. (Last line of More Poems XVI, "How clear, how lovely bright")

Julia Ward Howe

  • The Grapes of Wrath, novel by John Steinbeck ("The Battle Hymn of the Republic", song)
  • "The Crepes of Wrath", episode of The Simpsons
  • The Grapes of Death is the direct translation of the French title Les Raisins de la Mort, a zombie film. Presumably refers to the Steinbeck novel.

Langston Hughes

Herman Hupfield

  • "A Kiss Is But A Kiss", episode of Farscape ("As Time Goes By", song originally from the musical Everybody's Welcome)

Mick Jagger

  • A Deeper Blue, by John Ringo ("Paint it, Black", song)

Billy Joel

Lyndon B. Johnson

  • "Hearts and Minds", episode of V (1965 speech)

Erica Jong

Ben Jonson

  • Thomas Ligotti short story "Drink to Me Only with Labyrinthine Eyes", from the opening line of "Song: To Celia" ("Drink to me only with thine eyes...")

James Joyce

Carl Jung

  • "The Darkness of Mere Being," Watchmen, Chapter 9 (Memories, Dreams, Reflections, book)
  • The Persona spin off series from Shin Megami Tensei.


  • "Who Watches the Watchers", Star Trek: The Next Generation episode (Satires, poem collection)
  • Watchmen, comic book by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (referencing the same quote as the Star Trek episode)
    • And "Who Watches the Watchmen?" by (Coheed and Cambria Prize Fighter Inferno)--a side project of Coheed and Cambria's frontman Claudio Sanchez—which most likely references Watchmen

Irving Kahal

  • "I'll Be Seeing You", Eureka episode (title of song)

Gus Kahn

  • "Dream a Little Dream of Me", The Sandman issue (title of song)
  • "Dream a Little Dream of Me", Supernatural episode
  • "Dream a Little Dream", Farscape episode

Nikos Kazantzakis

  • "The Last Temptation of Homer" and "The Last Temptation of Krust", episodes of The Simpsons ("The Last Temptation of Christ", novel)
    • Also possibly Lisa the Greek ("Zorba the Greek", novel)

John Keats

  • Season of Mists, multi-issue arc in The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, and subsequent single-volume collection ("Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness", sonnet)
  • Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons (Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream, poems)
  • Unweaving the Rainbow, by Richard Dawkins (Lamia, poem)
  • Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Ode to a Nightingale)

John F. Kennedy

Francis Scott Key

  • Twilight's Last Gleaming, 1971 novel and 1977 film ("The Star-Spangled Banner")
  • "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming", episode of The Simpsons
  • "Proof Through The Night", episode of "Airwolf" ("The Star-Spangled Banner")
  • "No Refuge Could Save", Isaac Asimov short story ("The Star-Spangled Banner")

Rudyard Kipling

  • From Here to Eternity, novel by James Jones ("Gentlemen-Rankers", poem)
  • The Thin Red Line, novel by James Jones ("Tommy", poem)
  • "Thin RED Line", Arakune's theme music in the videogame BlazBlue
    • Although, as "Tommy" lampshades, "thin red line" was an older phrase used in the newspapers etc. at least since the Crimean War.
  • Insurance: The White Man's Burden, a Goon Show episode. ("The White Man's Burden", poem)
  • White Mans Burden, motion picture starring John Travolta and Harry Belefonte

John Knox

  • The Monstrous Regiment, novel by Storm Constantine ("The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women", tract)
  • Monstrous Regiment, Discworld novel

John Lennon / Paul McCartney

  • "We Are The Eggmen", episode of Due South ("I Am the Walrus", song)
  • "A Little Help From My Friends", episode of ER ("With a Little Help from My Friends", song)
  • "And in the End...", episode of ER ("The End", song)

C. S. Lewis

Abraham Lincoln

  • For Us, The Living, novel by Robert A. Heinlein (Gettysburg Address, speech)
    • The title of Ayn Rand's first novel, We the Living, may also have been alluding to this
  • The Last Full Measure, novel by Jeff Shaara, third in the Civil War Trilogy (Gettysburg Address, speech)
  • "The Stormy Present", episode of The West Wing (1862 annual speech to Congress)
  • "A House Divided", episode of ER (1858 speech accepting senatorial nomination)
  • "House Divided", episode of House
  • "A Milhouse Divided", episode of The Simpsons.

Jack London

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  • The Children's Hour, play by Lillian Hellman (title of poem)
  • The Children's Hour, novelette and later novel from the Man-Kzin Wars series, by Jerry Pournelle and S.M. Stirling

Courtney Love

Marines' Hymn

  • The Halls of Montezuma, 1951 film
  • To the Shores of Tripoli, 1942 film

Christopher Marlowe

  • A Thousand Ships, first trade paperback for the Age of Bronze comic book series by Eric Shanower (Doctor Faustus V.i, play)
  • Midnight Never Come, novel by Marie Brennan (Doctor Faustus V.i, play)

Andrew Marvell

  • A Fine and Private Place, novel by Peter S. Beagle ("To His Coy Mistress", poem)
  • Fine and Private Place, novel by Ellery Queen
  • "Vaster Than Empires and More Slow", short story by Ursula K. Le Guin ("To His Coy Mistress", poem)
  • World Enough and Time, novel by Robert Penn Warren ("To His Coy Mistress", poem)
  • "World Enough and Time", Star Trek: New Voyages
  • Worlds Enough and Time, science fiction novel by Joe Haldeman

The Marx Brothers

Michael Masser and Linda Creed

  • "I Believe the Children Are Our Future", episode of Supernatural ("Greatest Love of All", song)

Somerset Maugham

  • Appointment in Samarra, novel by John O'Hara (Sheppey, play)
  • "Appointment in Samarra", episode of Supernatural

John Mc Crae

  • "When Flanders Failed", episode of The Simpsons ("In Flanders Fields", poem)

Hughes Mearns

  • The Man Who Wasn't There, film ("Antigonish", poem)

Herman Melville

John Milton

  • The Light Fantastic, Discworld novel ("L'Allegro", poem)
  • Tripping the Light Fantastic, album by The Enid
  • Tripping the Live Fantastic, live double album by Paul McCartney
  • To Reign in Hell, novel by Steven Brust (Paradise Lost, epic poem)
  • His Dark Materials, trilogy by Philip Pullman (Paradise Lost, epic poem)
    • The working title of the trilogy, The Golden Compasses, as well. The American title of the first book, The Golden Compass, comes from this, although the "compasses" Milton referred to were the drawing instrument, not the navigational tool which the alethiometer superficially resembles. (Paradise Lost, epic poem)
  • In Dubious Battle, novel by John Steinbeck (Paradise Lost, epic poem)
  • "Paradise Lost", Justice League episode
  • Prospero Lost and Prospero Regained by L. Jagi Lamplighter, in her Prospero's Daughter trilogy. (Though the middle work is not included.)

Edward R. Murrow

Thomas Nashe

  • Brightness Falls From the Air, novel by James Tiptree ("A Litany in Time of Plague", poem)

The New England Primer

  • "My Soul to Keep", episode of War of the Worlds
  • The novels in Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamers series all use either quotes from or variations on the "My Soul to Keep" verse. They are:
    • My Soul to Take
    • My Soul to Save
    • My Soul to Keep
    • "My Soul to Lose" (the prequel novella)
    • The forthcoming (as of March 2011) If I Die.

Isaac Newton

  • A Star Shall Fall, novel by Marie Brennan (unpublished alchemical notes)

The Nicene Creed

Friedrich Nietzsche

  • Man and Superman, play by George Bernard Shaw (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, book)
  • "The Abyss Gazes Also," Watchmen, Chapter 6 (Beyond Good and Evil, book)
  • Beyond Good and Evil, video game (title of book)
  • Every single chapter of the Xenosaga series.
    • Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht (recurring phrase most common in Beyond Good and Evil)
    • Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Böse (title of book—in English, Beyond Good and Evil)
    • Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra (title of book—in English, Thus Spoke Zarathustra)
  • Also Sprach Zarathustra, orchestral work by Richard Strauss
  • Too Human, video game (title of book--Human, All Too Human)

Eugene O'Neill

  • "Long Day's Journey", episode of ER (Long Day's Journey Into Night, play)

George Orwell

Trey Parker and Matt Stone

Thomas Percival


  • Two Worlds, a German developed action RPG that apparently draws its name from Plato's concept of the worlds of Form and Things.

Edgar Allan Poe

  • Novels by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes:
    • Demon in my View ("Alone", poem)
    • Token of Darkness (paraphrase of "The Raven", poem)
  • "The Telltale Head", episode of The Simpsons ("The Telltale Heart", short story)
  • "Murders in the Rue Morgue", Iron Maiden song (title of short story)

Alexander Pope

Jean Racine

  • "Sleep of the Just", issue of The Sandman (Abrégé de l'histoire de Port Royal, book)


  • "Shiny Happy People", episode of Angel (title of song)

Cardinal Richelieu

  • The Last Argument of Kings, novel by Joe Abercrombie (English translation of Latin motto "Ultima ratio regum" inscribed on cannons)

Robbie Robertson (of The Band)

  • Nazareth, band ("The Weight", song).

Gene Roddenberry

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Donald Rumsfeld

  • "Known Unknowns", episode of House (2002 White House press briefing)
  • Stuff Happens, play by David Hare (2003 speech [2])

Gilbert Ryle

Jean-Paul Sartre

  • "Objects in Space", Firefly episode (Being and Nothingness, book)
  • "Other People", short story by Neil Gaiman (No Exit, play)
  • "No Exit", episode of The West Wing (title of play)
  • "No Exit", episode of The 4400
  • No Exit, album by Australian band The Angels/Angel City
  • Huis Clos chapter from "Ayla and the Mad Scientist"

Friedrich von Schiller

  • The Gods Themselves, novel by Isaac Asimov ("Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain", line from Die Jungfrau von Orléans)

Maurice Sendak

Live-Action TV

Robert Service

Live-Action TV

Dr. Seuss

  • Oh, the Things I Know!, advice/humor book by Al Franken (Oh, the Places You'll Go!, picture book)
  • "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish", an early episode of The Simpsons.

George Bernard Shaw

Percy Bysshe Shelley

  • "Who Mourns for Adonais?", Star Trek episode ("Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats", poem)
  • "Look on My Works, Ye Mighty...," Watchmen, Chapter 11 ("Ozymandias", poem)
  • The Prisoner: Shattered Visage, graphic novel ("Ozymandias", poem)
  • "The Lone And Level Sands", Andromeda episode ("Ozymandias", poem)
  • "Prometheus Unbound", Stargate SG-1 episode (title of play; also a reference to Aeschylus)
  • "Prometheus Unbound", Beast Machines episode

Stephen Sondheim

  • Most episodes of Desperate Housewives.
  • Several chapters of John Weir's book The Irreversible Decline of Eddie Socket.

Horatio Spafford

  • Peace like a River, novel by Leif Enger ("It Is Well Within My Soul", hymn)

A Star Is Born

Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelley

Robert E. Stripling

  • "Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been", episode of Angel (repeated question in the 1947 House Committee on Un-American Activities hearing that lead to the Hollywood blacklist, in which Stripling was the chief investigator)

Sara Teasdale

Alfred, Lord Tennyson


  • The Mirror Crack'd, novel by Agatha Christie ("The Lady of Shalott", poem)
  • Sick of Shadows, novel by Sharyn McCrumb ("The Lady of Shalott", poem)
  • Tooth and Claw, novel by Jo Walton ("In Memoriam A.H.H.", poem)
  • To Sail Beyond the Sunset, novel by Robert A. Heinlein ("Ulysses", poem)
  • The Crimson Petal and the White, novel by Michael Faber ("The Princess", poem)

Live Action TV

  • "Tooth and Claw", Doctor Who episode ("In Memoriam A.H.H.", poem)



  • Red in Tooth & Claw, a chapter of the second volume of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. ("In Memoriam A.H.H.", poem)
  • Red of Tooth and Claw, an album by the band Murder By Death

Ernest Thayer

  • "Homer at the Bat", episode of The Simpsons ("Casey at the Bat", poem)

Dylan Thomas

  • "Dying of the Light", episode of Heroes ("Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night", villanelle)
  • Dying of the Light, novel by George R. R. Martin
  • "Into That Good Night", episode of ER ("Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night", villanelle)
  • Millennium episode "Loin Like a Hunting Flame" ("The Ballad of the Long-Legged Bait", poem)

Alexis de Tocqueville

Pete Townshend

  • "Won't Get Fooled Again", Farscape episode (title of song)

Mark Twain

Live Action TV

  • "The War Prayer", episode of Babylon 5 ("The War Prayer", essay)
  • "Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics", episode of The West Wing ("Chapters from My Autobiography", essay)

Western Animation


Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

  • "Ice 9", Joe Satriani song (Cat's Cradle, novel)
  • "The Sirens of Titan", Al Stewart song (The Sirens of Titan, novel)
  • Welcome to the Monkey House, Dandy Warhols album (Welcome to the Monkey House, short story anthology)

Ken Walsh

Margery Williams

  • Skin Horse, webcomic by Shaenon Garrity and Jeffrey Channing Wells (The Velveteen Rabbit, children's book)

Tennessee Williams

  • "The Kindness of Strangers", episode of Heroes (A Streetcar Named Desire, play)
  • Parrot Stories, debut album of Alex Day. (Also Streetcar).
  • "A Streetcar Named Marge", episode of The Simpsons

The Wizard of Oz

Live Action TV

  • "Over the Rainbow", episode of Angel
  • "The Man Behind the Curtain" and "There's No Place Like Home," episodes of Lost
  • "Not In Kansas Anymore", episode of Fame.

Western Animation

Carter Godwin Woodson

  • "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill", album (play off the title of The Miseducation of the Negro, book)

William Wordsworth

  • Splendor in the Grass, 1961 film ("Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood", poem)

William Butler Yeats

Practically all of these are from his poem "The Second Coming", which is a rather... popular source of titles. The National Lampoon once compiled a fake bestseller list consisting entirely of books whose titles come from "The Second Coming".

  • Things Fall Apart, novel by Chinua Achebe
  • "Things Fall Apart", episode of The West Wing
  • Slouching Towards Bethlehem, essay collection by Joan Didion
  • "Slouching Towards Bethlehem", song by Joni Mitchell
    • Although, the song is quite literally a rendering of Yeats' poem to music.
  • "Slouching Towards Bethlehem", episode of Angel
  • Slouching Toward Gomorrah by Robert H. Bork and its subsequent rebuttal, Skipping Toward Gomorrah by Dan Savage.
  • "Stumbling to Bethlehem", a song by Patti Scialfa.
  • Ceremony and The Widening Gyre, novels by Robert B. Parker
  • Episodes of Andromeda:
    • "The Widening Gyre"
    • "Its Hour Come Round At Last"
    • "Pitiless As The Sun"
  • "The Second Coming", episode of Heroes
  • The Center Cannot Hold, second book in the American Empire trilogy by Harry Turtledove
  • The PC game Ceremony Of Innocence
  • Slouching Towards Bedlam, Interactive Fiction by Daniel Ravipinto and Star Foster
  • Kevin Smith's Batman: The Widening Gyre.
  • Blood Dimmed Tides, Tabletop RPG supplement for the Old World of Darkness line.

From other works:

  • No Country for Old Men, novel by Cormac McCarthy and film ("Sailing to Byzantium", poem)
  • Sailing to Sarantium, novel by Guy Gavriel Kay (title of poem; Sarantium is Kay's Fantasy Counterpart Culture to Byzantium)
  • Dancer from the Dance, novel by Andrew Holleran ("Among School Children", poem)
  • A Terrible Beauty, pub in Renton, WA ("Easter 1916", poem)



  • The Lathe of Heaven, novel by Ursula K. LeGuin (and two TV movie adaptations) (Zhuangzi, Chapter XXIII, philosophy[3])
  1. "There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."
  2. "Stuff happens and it’s untidy, and freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things." (regarding the rampant looting in Baghdad; April 11, 2003)
  3. "To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high achievement. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven."