TV's Love Letters To Oscar-Nominated Movies

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TV writers often draw inspiration from movies.

Sometimes they write characters quoting a film's most iconic lines.

Sometimes they borrow the whole plot. 

Movie Collage

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial - DC's Legends of Tomorrow 

ET - DC's Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 Episode 4

Anachronisms can tear the timeline apart and create an homage to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

On DC's Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 Episode 4, the Legends travel back to the 80s. 


A young Ray Palmer and his adopted alien need rescuing from government agents. 

Amadeus - 30 Rock 

Amadeus  - 30 Rock

Amadeus tells the story of composer Salieri's resentment towards the more talented Mozart.

On 30 Rock Season 2 Episode 13 Jordan discovers he has a Mozart-like talent for creating pornographic videogames.

This leaves Frank as jealous as Salieri.

The homage to Amadeus is further cemented with a montage set to Mozart's Requiem: Lacrimosa.

The Seven Samurai/The Magnificant Seven - The Mandolorian 

Seven Samurai  - The Mandalorian Season 1 Episode 4

It's no secret Akira Kurosawa's films and westerns were major influences on Star Wars.

The Mandalorian continues the tradition.

On The Mandalorian Season 1 Episode 4, Mando finds himself recruiting another fighter to help defend a farming village from raiders.

It's very reminscent of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai and its western remake, The Magnificant Seven.

Die Hard - Brooklyn Nine-Nine 

Die Hard Christmas - Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 3 Episode 10

Die Hard is Jake Peralta's favorite movie, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine makes plenty of references to it. 

The show took its love for Die Hard to the next level on Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 3 Episode 10

Jake, Gina, and Boyle find themselves trapped in a department store with a gang of criminals on Christmas Eve.

It's Jake's Die Hard fantasy come to life -- except when Boyle mangled the catchphrase. 

Chinatown - Riverdale 

Chinatown - Riverdale

It was only a matter of time before Riverdale did an extended riff on Chinatown.

 Riverdale Season 3 Episode 11 has Jughead entangled in an investigation involving water tampering and a woman named Mulwray.

There was only one way the episode could end.

Someone had to say, "Forget it, Jughead. It's Riverdale."

The Wizard of Oz - Scrubs 

The Wizard of Oz - Scrubs Season 5 Episode 7

On Scrubs Season 5 Episode 7, Sacred Heart is up to its ears with lions, tigers, and Wizard of Oz references, oh my!

Elliot needs brains. Turk needs a heart, and Carla needs courage.

As for J.D., he wants to go home and listen to Toto.

If only everyone would let him follow the yellow line to the exit.   

Jaws - Psych 

Jaws  - Psych

When sharks came to Santa Barbara on Psych Season 4 Episode 15, something unsurprising happened.

There were lots of references to Jaws.

This included an introductory shark attack at night and an expert coming to town.

This time, though, the human characters were the true threat. 

Community - Goodfellas 

Goodfellas  - Community Season 1 Episode 20

As far back as Abed could remember, he wanted to be in a mobster movie.

He got the opportunity when Community spoofed Goodfellas on Community Season 1 Episode 20.

The Study Group found themselves living the gangster lifestyle thanks to controlling Greendale's supply of chicken fingers.

Sadly, the good times couldn't last forever.   

It's s Wonderful Life - One Tree Hill  

It's A Wonderful Life - One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill Season 4 Episode 10 paid homage to It's a Wonderful Life.

Like George Bailey, Lucas was hovering between life and death and wondering what was the point of anything.

It took a spiritual advisor, his Uncle Keith no less, to show Lucas what the world would look like without his kindness. 

Seeing how miserable his family and friends were in an alternate reality gave Lucas the strength to keep on living. 

Schindler's List - Seinfeld 

Schindler's List - Seinfeld

Schindler's List is considered Steven Spielberg's masterpiece.

The making of it was emotionally exhausting, and each night after filming wrapped, Spielberg watched Seinfeld.

Knowing Spielberg was a fan of the show, Seinfeld, as only Seinfeld could, paid tribute to Schindler's List on Seinfeld Season 5 Episode 19.

In addition to the plot of Jerry and girlfriend making out during a showing of the film, the episode parodied one of its most remembered scenes. 

Rear Window - Castle 

Rear Window - Castle Season 5 Episode 19

Rear Window is the Alfred Hitchcock classic about a wheelchair-bound man investigating a murder outside his window.

Funny enough, the same thing happens to Rick on Castle Season 5 Episode 19.

It's almost too on the nose.

It was also the perfect story to use for celebrating Castle's 100th episode. 

Mary Poppins - The Simpsons 

Mary Poppins  - The Simpsons

Shary Bobbins -- she's an original creation.

She's not at all like the titular character of Disney's Mary Poppins. 

On The Simpsons Season 8 Episode 13, Shary comes to Springfield to save the Simpsons.

However, singing songs about cleaning up can only reform the Simpsons for a short amount of time. 

Back to the Future - Once Upon a Time 

Back to the Future  - Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time fans expect references to fairy tales and fantasy.

We don't expect a lot of references from Back to the Future.

Yet that's we got on Once Upon a Time Season 3 Episode 21 and Once Upon a Time Season 3 Episode 22.

Emma went back in time, and, like Marty McFly, she nearly prevented her parents from falling in love.  

12 Angry Men - Veronica Mars 

12 Angry Men - Veronica Mars

Some people go traveling for the holidays.

Veronica isn't so lucky.

Veronica Mars Season 2 Episode 10 has her spending her vacation doing an homage to 12 Angry Men.

Veronica finds herself on a jury that may never reach a unanimous verdict unless she can convince everyone to take a closer look at the evidence.  

Titanic - Supernatural 

Titanic - Supernatural Season 6 Episode 17

Titanic won the Best Original Song Oscar for "My Heart Will Go On" as performed Celine Dion.

Balthazar hates the song.

On Supernatural Season 6 Episode 17, he went back in time to save the Titanic from sinking to prevent the song from exising.

Dean didn't Titanic was bad enough to justify messing around with history.

Coming from him, that's high praise for the film.  

The Devil Wears Prada - The Office 

The Devil Wears Prada  - The Office

Why is Michael throwing his coat and being rude on The Office Season 4 Episode 4

He was watching The Devil Wears Prada.

Consequently, the always susceptible Michael started acting like the overdemanding boss Meryl Streep played.

Now Pam has to get Armani on the phone.

Field of Dreams - NCIS 

Field of Dreams - NCIS

DiNozzo loves baseball and movies.

What movie combining both loves does he quote from on NCIS Season 8 Episode 5 -- Field of Dreams.

The episode gets more referential towards the end.

The scene of Ziva playing catch with Gibbs evokes Field of Dreams' heartwarming depiction of parents and children bonding over baseball. 

The Big Chill - Dawson's Creek 

The Big Chill - Dawson's Creek

The Big Chill is mostly remembered for the scene of its cast dancing in the kitchen to “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” 

At the beginning of Dawson’s Creek Season 3 Episode 12, the teens said no one they knew would ever dance in a kitchen.

Then the Capeside gang spent a weekend pretending to be guests at the newly opened Potter B&B. 

By the end of the episode, they all were dancing in the kitchen. 

The Godfather - Modern Family 

The Godfather - Modern Family Season 4 Episode 13

Phil Dunphy has the face of a nice guy and the heart of the mobster. 

Modern Family Season 4 Episode 13 featured a montage very similar to the famous baptism montage from The Godfather.

The scene of Phil becoming Joe's godfather alternates with scenes Luke acting on Phil's orders to exact vengeance on the people causing problems for the Dunphys.  

To top off The Godfather comparisons, Phil shuts the door on Claire when she starts asking questions.  

Over to you, TV Fanatics!

What are your favorite TV homages to Oscar-nominated movies?

Hit the comments below! 

Becca Newton wis a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in February of 2023

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