Like most cartoon comedies, Bob’s Burgers has an abundance of references to cultural staples and aspects. These include jokes about politicians, characters based on celebrities, plotlines from other stories, and dream sequences referencing scenes and ideas from other movies. Some audiences get the reference, but others might not for several reasons.
Sometimes, though, the reference is so weird that it’s hard to believe that it existed at all. Bob’s Burgers is full of strange and absurd situations and features a lot of hallucinations, dream sequences, and surrealistic daydreams. Some of these scenes actually came straight from other movies and visual media, and while some are recognizable, others might not be.
10 Tina’s Fanfic Is Inspired By An ’80s Macintosh Commercial
One of Tina Belcher’s biggest hobbies is writing fanfiction, including fanfics of herself and her classmates. One day, she writes a fanfic about her liberating her sexually repressed classmates and overthrowing her school’s totalitarian rule. The scene includes a sequence of her running in a colorful tracksuit through crowds of black and white kids.
This sequence was a direct reference to a commercial from the eighties advertising an Apple Macintosh. The commercial featured a woman in a bright orange tracksuit running through a crowd of oppressed, dull-colored people, and throwing a hammer at a huge screen to liberate them. Although it was one of the more popular commercials, most modern audiences wouldn’t know it.
9 Bob’s Drunken Dream Is Lifted Straight From My Neighbor Totoro
In one episode, Bob is forced to spend Thanksgiving alone and drinks a bottle of absinthe to cope, resulting in a drunken hallucination where the turkey crawls out of the oven, grows to a large size, and acquires a black umbrella. The turkey then causes a mountain of vegetables to grow and carries the whole family to the top. This scene is one of the show’s most famous references.
However, for those who haven’t watched anime of any kind, the scene is taken straight from My Neighbor Totoro. Totoro, a magical beast with a black umbrella makes a forest of trees grow and carries his new friends to the top of the tallest tree. In its original form, the scene is one of wonder and joy. In the context of Bob’s Burgers, it’s still fun, but bizarrely.
8 Linda’s Vision Is The Adult Version Of Disney
The “Pink Elephant” scene from the movie Dumbo is one of those scenes that all the Disney geeks know about but isn’t typically discussed in casual conversation. In the scene, Dumbo and Timothy drink some spiked water and have a drunken hallucination about pink elephants.
The scene makes a comeback in Bob’s Burgers when Linda’s sister makes colorful paintings of anatomically correct animals’ behinds. The paintings begin to haunt Linda’s dreams, and she has hallucinatory visions of the animals marching along, just like the pink elephants from Dumbo. It’s a delightfully weird scene that doesn’t need audiences to know the reference to get the joke.
7 Two Children’s Authors In One Joke
In the episode “Crawl Space,” Bob gets stuck inside the wall. He starts talking to his kids, whose imaginations run wild, and Gene asks if he sees “a lion, a witch, or a wardrobe.” When Bob asks about it, he says it’s a book by Salman Rushdie, which results in a back-and-forth on whether Rushdie wrote it.
Salman Rushdie sounds like a random name that the show just came up with. In fact, Salman Rushdie is a real author. He’s written several fantasy and sci-fi books for adults and a couple of children’s books. It’s not the strangest joke in the show, but it’s still cool.
6 The Coast Is A Dirty Joke
In the premiere episode “The Belchies,” the Belcher kids plus a few friends go looking for buried treasure in an abandoned taffy factory. However, the map Teddy makes for them looks kind of like a human’s rear end. This leads audiences to believe that the treasure isn’t real and Teddy was just pranking them.
Obviously, the treasure hunt is a reference to the movie The Goonies from the ’80s, but the crazy part is the ending. As it turns out, the coast around the factory actually is shaped like a rear end. It’s good news for the kids since they can find the treasure. On the other hand, it’s one of those uncomfortable jokes that audiences can’t stop laughing at.
5 Tabitha Johansson Is Basically Tori Amos
In the episode “Food Truckin’,” Bob and the Belchers set up shop at a food festival which is being headlined by pianist, Tabitha Johansson. During the festival, she sings a song that pretends to be about environmentalism but is really about sensuality. She’s a pretty kooky character and a hoot to watch.
However, while it’s obvious the character is a parody of famous music stars, not many might recognize that she’s based on the real-life pianist, Tori Amos. Tori Amos is a pianist who peaked in the ’90s and is still going steady. Despite this, she doesn’t get referenced in other media that often, so it came as surprise to her fans that she appeared in Bob’s Burgers.
4 Banjo Is Django With A Banjo
“Spaghetti Westerns and Meatballs” sees Bob and Gene bonding over a spaghetti western franchise called Banjo. The franchise inspires Gene to use music to stand up to his bully at school. It doesn’t work out the way he expects, but everything sorts itself out in the end. A spaghetti western about a banjo-totting cowboy isn’t the kind of thing anyone would expect floating around out there.
In fact, that’s not what the franchise is referencing. Banjo references a franchise called Django. Most people these days recognize the name from the Quentin Tarantino movie, but it was originally a series of spaghetti westerns about a hard-boiled cowboy. The first installment is infamous for its violence, which is ironic since “Spaghetti Westerns and Meatballs” is about resolving conflict.
3 Louis Vs. Random Shop Owner
Louise Belcher’s uncanny ability to make strange adults regress to their nine-year-old selves is a running gag in the show. One of her most infamous arguments is with a shop owner who tries to ban her and her siblings from his store. She instantly retorts “You’re banned! Get out of the store!” The situation devolves into a screaming match which the other Belcher children join in on.
Louise’s picking a fight with a grown man in his store is such a random thing and yet it’s definitely something Louise would do. The fact that her siblings joined the fight makes it even more chaotic. It’s one of their more memorable moments as siblings.
2 Frond, Phillip Frond, Self-Certified School Counselor
Bob’s Burgers has a few James Bond references thrown in there, because why not? However, the most random reference is when the school counselor, Phillip Frond introduces himself to Bob. “Frond,” he says. “Phillip Frond, self-certified school counselor.”
It’s unclear whether the producers really named a character “Frond” just so they could have that James Bond joke, or if the name came first and someone had a lightbulb moment and threw the joke in. It was probably a little bit of both. It’s such a small thing, but it raises so many questions.
1 The Cannibal Restaurant
Originally, the showrunners intended Bob’s Burgers to be about a family of cannibals who took bodies from the crematorium next door and served them in the burgers. The idea was scrapped, and the Belchers became a normal family. Nonetheless, it inspired the premiere episode of the series, “Human Flesh,” where the Belchers are falsely accused of serving human remains.
Interestingly enough, a rumor once popped up on the Internet that McDonald’s was serving human remains. It was debunked as a practical joke, but it caused a scare there for a while. It’s unknown if the cannibal idea took inspiration from real-life incidences like these or if it was just a coincidence, but it’s weird either way. Life is stranger than fiction.
Next: 10 Jokes Simpsons Fans Can’t Believe Were Real
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