Pop Culture References and Greekisms

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Long before planes, trains, and automobiles, there were people. And people still used common phrases and sayings, but they were slightly different. Here are a few examples of lines or other things in the episodes that reference familiar phrases or items in the 20th century. (See also: Very Punny)

Young Hercules (Movie Pilot)

Cheiron: Never, never, never quit.
  • Reference to the commonly mis-heard Winston Churchill quote, Never, never, never give up. It is most commonly referenced as this speech, but is not correct. The original speech performed in 1941 by the British Prime Minister was at Harrow School in Britain: Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. - [1]
Iolaus: Ninety-nine goatskins of wine on the wall...
Iolaus: See? What did I tell you? Piece of baklava.
  • This is a Greekified version of the slang phrase, piece of cake, meaning "any undertaking that is easy to do".
    • baklava, noun, is a Near Eastern pastry made of many layers of paper-thin dough with a filling of ground nuts, baked and then drenched in a syrup of honey and sometimes rosewater. (source)

1.01 - Treasure of Zeus

Kora: I'm gonna have to put up a sign: 'No shirt, no feet, no service.'
  • Reference to the phrase "No shirt, no shoes, no service" indicating that any customer needs to be wearing at least a shirt and shoes to be served. The origin of this policy is probably from areas like Atlantic City where customers would come in clad only in bathing suits, tracking in sand with their bare feet and making other customers uncomfortable with their lack of dress. - Barefoot and Grounded
Iolaus: Hey, is that new? It looks like fine, Corinthian leather. Almost fit for... a king.'
  • May be a reference to: "Fine Corinthian Leather", a most-oft misspoken catchphrase of Ricardo Montalbán. In 1975, Montalbán became the spokesperson of the Chrysler Cordoba and he praised the interior as being "soft, Corinthian leather". Its mis-quoting has become more popular than his original catchphrase. -Ricardo Montalbán
Hercules: No problem. Listen... what's your name?
Nysus Gaius: Ny-Nysus Gaius.
  • Strife's pseudonym, "Nysus Gaius", is a greekified version of "Nice Guy."

1.02 - Between Friends

Jason: What'd Fiducius want?
Iolaus: What's a dinar-counter like him always want? The academy fees.
  • Reference to the term bean counter, n. Slang
    • A person, such as an accountant or financial officer, who is concerned with quantification, especially to the exclusion of other matters. - Answers.com
    • A disparaging term for an accountant, or anyone who one who is excessively concerned with statistical records or accounts. - The Phrase Finder
Strife: Takes after his daddy. Chip off the old Zeus.
  • Greekism of the term A chip off the old block, meaning A person or thing that derives from the source or parentage. (source)

1.03 - What a Crockery

Hercules: What do you talk to dads about?
Jason: Ask him how his day was. See if you can borrow the reins to the chariot.
  • It is a dream of most teenagers to borrow the keys to their father's car.
Iolaus: You'd think Cheiron would have accepted my excuse about the God of War vaporizing my homework.
  • Reference to the old "The dog ate my homework" excuse.
    • An excuse kids use at school when they don't have their homework assignment to submit. This excuse is never believed and usually said as a joke. - Idiom Quest
    • A classic and not very credible excuse usually used in cartoons and sitcoms to excuse a student's lack of completed homework when they get to school. - Urban Dictionary

1.05 - Girl Trouble

Iolaus: Okay. Through the arch; off the ladder; over the roof; off the well; off the wall; down the steps; nothing but pigpen.
  • The contest between Jason and Iolaus is an allusion to a series of 1993 McDonalds Commercials with Michael Jordan and Larry Bird calling and then making impossible bank-shot baskets.

1.06 - Teacher's Pests

Fiducius: When my boy Pythias went here, the students knew the value of a precisely ordered library. But nobody reads anymore - everyone's too busy going to plays or looking at sculptures.
  • A common complaint from an older generation about a younger generation, that they're too busy listening to music or watching tv or movies to enjoy more traditional entertainment, like reading.

1.07 - Inn Trouble

Strife: Three young men left in charge of an inn - a formula for fun... or a recipe for disaster? A comedy in the making... or a tragedy waiting to happen?
  • Strife's line is reminiscent of Rod Serling's introductions in the beginning of episodes of the television show The Twilight Zone. - (Wikipedia)
Strife: What do you mean, 'We', kemo sabe?
  • Kemo sabe is the term of endearment and catchphrase used by the intrepid and ever-faithful fictional Native American sidekick, Tonto, in the American radio and television program The Lone Ranger. It is sometimes translated as "trusty scout" or "faithful friend" in Potawatomi. - (Wikipedia)

1.08 - Keeping Up With the Jasons

  • The title "Keeping Up With the Jasons" is a play on the phrase "Keeping up with the Joneses", with "Joneses" meaning one's neighbors, friends, business associates, etc. - (Reference.com)
    • "Keeping up with the Joneses" is an idiom in many parts of the English-speaking world referring to the comparison to one's neighbor as a benchmark for social caste or the accumulation of material goods. To fail to "keep up with the Joneses" is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority. - (Wikipedia)

1.09 - Amazon Grace

  • The title "Amazon Grace" may be a reference to the Christian hymn "Amazing Grace", however, the lyrics of the hymn don't seem to have any parallels with the plotline of the episode.
Jason: They thought everything was quiet... and then it came again, that eerie, scratching sound. So the knave and the maiden sped off in the chariot. And when they got home, they found the monster's hook stuck in the side of the chariot!
Hercules: Last time I heard that, it was a farm boy and a peasant girl in an oxcart.
  • Jason's story is incredibly reminiscent of one of the endings of a well-known urban legend called The Hook, in which two lovers are menaced by a man with a hook for a hand. In this ending, the lovers get away, but find the man's hook attached to their vehicle.
    • Legend: A couple's late night make-out session is cut short when they hear a report on the car radio about an escaped killer (who has a hook for a hand) in the vicinity. The girl insists on being driven home immediately; upon arrival at her house, the boy discovers a bloody hook hanging from the passenger-side car door handle. - "The Hook" Urban Legend at Snopes.com

1.10 - Cyrano de Hercules

  • The title "Cyrano de Hercules" is a reference to the play Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. Cyrano, an ugly soldier and poet, helps the handsome but tongue-tied Count Christian to win the love of the woman they both love.

1.12 - Battle Lines II

Iolaus: Look, I know a con when I see one, and this has 'setup' chiseled all over it.
  • Reference to the phrase: "This has [insert word] written all over it." chisel, n., a metal tool with a sharpened edge at one end used to chip, carve, or cut into a solid material (as wood, stone, or metal) - Merriam-Webster. chiseled, adj., formed or crafted as if with a chisel - Merriam-Webster.
    • [blank] written all over it - an idiom meaning that the object of the phrase is the epitome of [blank]. If something, such as a plan or idea, has disaster written all over it, it is thought to be heading for complete failure or will cause a lot of trouble, i.e. "Mary's idea of a holiday with her in-laws has disaster written all over it!" - English idioms and idiomatic expressions

1.13 - Forgery

  • Kora seems to be working an ancient "drive-thru", taking orders trough a window from customers in chariots or on horseback, and delivering their "To Go" orders in an easy-to-transport basket.
    • The concepts of fast food and to-go meals are actually much older than most people think. In Ancient Rome, only the moderately-to-extremely wealthy could afford houses with kitchen facilities. With no means to cook for themselves, then, the poorer citizens relied heavily on street vendors and popina (a sort of wine bar that served very simple foods like stews and bread) for their food. - Fast Food History on Wikipedia
  • Iolaus's Hat that he threatens to eat is a basket full of fruit, based on the Fruit hat made iconic by Carmen Miranda.
  • In the stables when Iolaus is about to attack Hercules with a length of chain, Hercules spits and holds his hands like he's a baseball player up to bat.

1.15 - Ares on Trial

Jason: You gotta crack a scroll every now and then if you wanna graduate, my friend.
  • Greekified version of the slang "crack a book", meaning "Fig. to open a book to study" - The Free Dictionary.
Ares: I guess we find out if blood really is thicker than water.
  • Play on the German proverb "Blood is thicker than water", which generally means that the bonds of family and common ancestry are stronger than the bonds between unrelated people (such as friendship) - Wikipedia.
Ares: Goodnight, John-Boy!
  • Reference to the television show "The Waltons" - In the signature scene that closes almost every episode, the family house is enveloped in darkness, save for one, two or three lights in the upstairs bedroom windows. Through voice-overs, two or more characters make some brief comments related to that episode's events, and then bid each other goodnight.
Strife: That's my name. Don't wear it out.
  • Although the exact origin of the phrase is not recorded, the saying "That's my name. Don't wear it out." originates from the 50s. It is also used in the movie Grease (set in 1959, made 1978).

1.16 - Down and Out in Academy Hills

  • The title "Down and Out in Academy Hills" is a reference to the 1986 movie "Down and Out in Beverly Hills" starring Nick Nolte, Bette Midler and Richard Dreyfuss. The film is about a rich but dysfunctional couple who save the life of a suicidal bum.
  • In this episode, Hephaestus invents an espresso machine for Kora, and uses it to make himself a cappuccino.
  • At the end of Arges's flamethrower is an "A" inside a circle that looks a lot like the Anarchist circle-A symbol.

1.17 - Winner Take All

Iolaus: Eye of the tiger, baby, eye of the tiger.
  • Allusion to the Survivor song Eye of the Tiger which was the theme song for the boxing movie Rocky III.
Iolaus: Okay Jason, I want you to float like a butterfly, sting like a wasp.
  • Paraphrase of the famous Muhammad Ali quote, "I float like a butterfly, and I sting like a bee!"

1.18 - A Serpent's Tooth

  • The title is based upon a quote from William Shakespeare's play "King Lear" (Act I, Scene IV): "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!"

1.19 - The Lure of the Lyre

  • There are very strong similarities between Bacchus's appearance and that of the Lord of Darkness from the 1985 Ridley Scott film Legend.
  • Lilith mentions the game "Pin the tail on the Centaur", which is a Greekified version of the popular children's party game, "Pin the tail on the donkey", where people are one-at-a-time blindfolded, spun around so that they're disoriented, given a "tail" on a tack/pin, and aimed at a poster of a donkey on a wall. The person who "pins" their tail closest to where the tail would actually be on the donkey in the poster wins the game. - Wikipedia

1.20 - Fame

  • While picking up the Dryad bones, Hercules and Iolaus mention that the thigh bone's connected to the hip bone. This is a reference to the song "Dem Dry Bones".
  • While picking up the Dryad bones, Hercules says "Let's call the whole thing off." This is a reference to the song "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off".

1.21 - Lyre, Liar

  • The title "Lyre, Liar" is probably a reference to the common phrase, "Liar, liar, pants on fire."
    • TV.com claims that the title "Lyre, Liar" is a reference to the 1997 movie Liar, Liar starring Jim Carrey. However, other than the title, there doesn't seem to be any plot similarities - in the movie, a man who lies all the time is cursed and can only tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

1.23 - The Mysteries of Life

Barker: But you can't make a moussaka without cracking a few eggs, huh?
  • This is a Greekified version of You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, a quote commonly attributed to either Joseph Stalin or Lazar Kaganovich.
    • This phrase means that in order to achieve something, it is inevitable and necessary that something should be destroyed or sacrificed. - (TV Tropes)
    • Moussaka is an eggplant and/or potato-based dish popular in Balkan and Mediterranean cuisines. - (Wikipedia)

1.24 - Dad Always Liked Me Best

Lucius: Come on, we're the dream team.
  • The 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team, nicknamed the "Dream Team", was the first American Olympic team to feature active NBA players. Described by American journalists as the greatest sports team ever assembled, and called by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame "the greatest collection of basketball talent on the planet", it defeated its opponents by an average of almost 44 points en route to the gold medal against Croatia at the 1992 Summer Olympics held in Barcelona. - Wikipedia

1.26 - Cold Feet

Ophistus: To be king, you must grow up, and put aside childish things.
  • This is similar to the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:11 - "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

1.28 - In Your Dreams

Morpheus: Hey! Someone's rockin' my dreamboat!
  • "Someone's Rockin' My Dreamboat" is a song originally by the The Ink Spots, a vocal group from the 1930s and '40s.
  • Lilith's eerie song in the dream world is sung to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"
  • When Ares thinks that Hercules destroyed himself, he makes a motion with his hands commonly known as "Raising the Roof".
    • "Raise the roof" was a common term of the late 1990's. The term generally describes placing your arms in the air with your hands at a 90 degree angle, as if you were placing them on a ceiling and then moving your arms up and down in the position. - Answers.com
    • No one seems to know precisely when or where it began. But few self-styled arbiters of what passes for cool would dispute that the gesture for raise the roof -- a celebratory pumping of the hands with palms up and elbows out -- was born for millions of Americans this summer when a new television talk show adopted it. [...] In the case of raise-the-roof, Mr. Clinkscales said that young black people in Houston had been using it for years at parties and dances. Others say they believe that inner-city teen-agers in Texas borrowed it from basketball players on the Houston Rockets. Still others said the gesture had roots in the Green Bay Packers football team, whose players used it to signal to their fans to cheer louder. "I was in Chicago seven months ago, before the 'Vibe' show came on television, when I first saw people doing that at a poetry festival," Derrick I. M. Herbert, an author and poet, said of the raise-the-roof gesture. - High-Fives: The Latest Hand Sign Raises the Roof

1.29 - Sisters

  • Jason says "All work and no play..." which is a reference to the proverb "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." It means that without time off from work, a person becomes both bored and boring.
  • The character of Don Corleonus, and the speech mannerisms used by the actor, is based on the title role played by Marlon Brando in the Academy Award winning movie The Godfather.
  • The henchman, Scarface, is based on the character made famous by Al Pacino in the movie of the same name.
  • Kora's line, "Cleo, Cleo, Cleo!", is a reference to the show "The Brady Bunch", when the character Jan is complaining that Marsha, her sister, is getting all the attention at a party and gets so upset that she whines "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!"

1.30 - Golden Bow

1.31 - Home for the Holidays

  • The scene at the end of the episode where Capaneus is saying goodbye to Alcmene is very reminiscent of a similar scene from the movie The Princess Bride where Buttercup is saying goodbye to Wesley as he goes off to seek his fortune.

1.33 - Con Ares

  • TV.com claims that the title "Con Ares" is a reference to the 1997 film "Con Air", starring Nicolas Cage. However, other than the title, there doesn't seem to be any plot similarities - in the movie, convicts who are being transported by plane rebel and take over the flight.
Strife: May the horse be with you!
  • Reference to the famous line from Star Wars: "May the Force be with you." - Wikipedia
    • "May The Horse Be With You" is also a song by popular Christian rock band Relient K.
  • Timor is also the name of the easternmost Sundra Island, north of Australia. It is historically and currently divided in half politically, perhaps a tie-in to the name of the character's appearance of looking like Ares and his purpose for uniting Sparta and Thebes in a peace treaty.

1.35 - My Fair Lilith

  • The title "My Fair Lilith" is a reference to the 1964 film "My Fair Lady" starring Audrey Hepburn, based on the play by George Bernard Shaw. The film is about a British linguist who accepts a wager that he can take a cockney flower girl from the streets and transform her into a refined Victorian lady with an aristocratic accent good enough to pass in upper-class society.
Iolaus: Talk about a sword-point wedding.
  • This is a clever play on the term 'shotgun wedding', a type of forced marriage. Traditionally, though, shotgun weddings are more associated with unplanned/pre-marital pregnancies.

1.36 - Hind Sight

1.41 - Adventures in the Forbidden Zone

  • The title "Adventures in the Forbidden Zone" might be a reference to the 1980 movie Forbidden Zone. Coincidentally, the surname of the family in the movie is "Hercules".

1.42 - The Prize

  • The flute trio Petra, Paula, and Murray is a nod to the famous folk singers Peter, Paul, and Mary.
  • Ares's singing definitely carries an influence from Elvis Presley. Kevin Smith had also played the role of Elvis in a New Zealand tour of Are You Lonesome, Tonight?, and did Elvis impersonations at parties.
  • Hercules's line, "You can say hello to my little friend!" is a paraphrase of the famous line by Al Pacino from the movie Scarface.
  • Ares's line, "There can only be one!" might be a reference to the Highlander movies and TV series.
  • Strife's make-up for Ares's number is reminiscent of that worn by the hard rock band Kiss.

HtLJ - 5.17 - The Academy

Iolaus "2": A pox on your father's house!
  • This could be a reference to the famous line, "A plague a' both your houses!" from the play "Romeo and Juliet" by Shakespeare.
Hercules: Let me guess: It slices and dices, and if you act now, you get a free butt-kicking. But wait, there's more!

Young Hercules (Novelization)

Cheiron's voice hardened. "Never-never-never-quit."
  • Reference to the commonly mis-heard Winston Churchill quote, Never, never, never give up. It is most commonly referenced as this speech, but is not correct. The original speech performed in 1941 by the British Prime Minister was at Harrow School in Britain: Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. - source

Young Hercules: Cheiron's Warriors

"Never underestimate the power of a woman," Lilith said. Then she smiled, thinking, I like the sound of that. Have to remember it.
  • "Never underestimate the power of a woman" was the editorial and advertising slogan adopted by the Ladies Home Journal in March 1941.
"Don't make me angry, Strife. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
  • "Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." is a famous quote from The Incredible Hulk.