Times Movies And TV Shows Actually Affected The Real World

'Star Wars Episode 1' still
IMDB | LucasFilm

For over a century, movies (and later, TV shows) have been a way to escape from the real world, depicting fictional stories in far-off places. But while a film production might take place in a fantasy world, it's still shot in the real world. This means that the real world can affect what you see on screen — and vice versa.

Let's take a look at some productions that had an affect on real life.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold and a whole host of his fellow '90s action stars like Sylvester Stallone led to an interest in big watches. These stars had big wrists and wore oversized Casios to fill the space — a move that was good for any company that makes big watches.


'CSI' still

The crime procedural's depiction of how crimes are investigated is fascinating...and more than a little bit misleading. It's led to the so-called "CSI effect," in which jurors believe that forensic evidence in a case will be more accurate than it actually is.


Gwyneth Paltrow gif

It's hard to know whether Glee or Gwyneth Paltrow should get credit for this one. Although Paltrow had been a household name for years before her appearance on the hit musical comedy, it was only after her appearance that 'Gwyneth' became a trending baby name back in 2011.

'Black Widow'

'Black Widow' still
IMDB | Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

You might think that Black Widow is too recent of a movie to have had much real-world impact. But ScarJo's performance (and hair) have clearly resonated with viewers. A U.K. beauty retailer says that interest in red hair dye shot up by 163% shortly after the movie's release.

'Apocalypse Now'

'Apocalypse Now' gif

Apocalypse Now was shot, in part, in coastal areas of the Philippines. After enough people saw video of characters in the film surfing, they flocked to the area. Now, Baler, Philippines is known as an international surfing destination.

'The Last Temptation of Christ'

'The Last Temptation of Christ' still
IMDB | Universal Pictures

Movies that re-interpret religious texts are always bound to be controversial, and The Last Temptation of Christ was no exception. The controversial film showed a flawed version of Jesus, and it led to a small outbreak of terrorist attacks at movie theaters throughout France.


'Friends' gif
Giphy | Friends

Friends was an influential show, but the series largely took place before social media was a thing. That didn't stop it from having a significant effect on the vernacular we still hear to this day — notably in the term "friend zone."

The term came up in a season one episode.

'Friends' still

All the way back in season one, long before the show was iconic, Joey complained that he's in the friend zone with Rachel. Now, decades later, 'friend zone' is the go-to term for people who are friends, but want a more serious relationship.


'It' gif

We saw a two-part movie version of Stephen King's It recently, following in the footsteps of a TV adaptation that came out years earlier. It was seen as apocalyptic for those in the clowning profession, as it made clowns seem evil and psychotic — a perception that's largely unchanged today.

'Squid Game'

'Squid Game' still
IMDB | Netflix

Squid Game was a massive sensation on its release, and it helped an iconic sneaker brand become even more well-known in the process. Characters in the Korean series are seen wearing Vans' iconic slip-on shoes, which led to a big boost in sales for the SoCal skate shoe company.

Vans can barely keep the shoes on the shelves.

Vans white slip-on shoes
Vans | Vans

Vans is a big, well known company by anyone's estimation, but they probably didn't expect the surge in demand. After Squid Game premiered, slip-on sales skyrocketed by an astounding 7,800%.

Veronica Lake

Movie star Veronica Lake
Wikimedia Commons | Trailer screenshot

Veronica Lake is one of those old-timey movie stars who was a big deal at the time and is barely talked about today. Lake had an iconic "peek-a-boo" haircut that was copied by many women. The machines necessary to pull off the cut were injuring people, so the U.S. government asked Lake to change up her 'do.

'The Walking Dead'

Gif from 'The Walking Dead'
Giphy | The Walking Dead

You wouldn't think that a simple wristwatch would be much help in a zombie apocalypse, but Rick Grimes, the main protagonist of The Walking Dead, is seen wearing a distinctive Kenneth Cole watch throughout season two. It was a big boost for the watch brand.

It's hard to find the watch now.

Watch model featured on 'The Walking Dead'
Kenneth Cole | Big Apple Watch & Accessories

The watch in question, model number KC3584, is nothing special. But ever since it was featured on the AMC series, the price has skyrocketed and it's been tough to find on the secondary market.

'A Hard Day's Night'

'A Hard Day's Night' still
IMDB | United Artists

Pogo dancing might not be a big trend in the 2020s, but it was a modest trend back in the '60s. It was actually invented in the Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night as a dance that would allow a person to keep an eye on other dancers.


'JFK' still
IMDB | Warner Bros.

Oliver Stone's long, conspiratorial film on the John F. Kennedy assassination was so influential that it contributed to a change in U.S. law. It shone a light on something that many U.S. citizens felt: that there was something suspicious about the assassination, and that it was being covered up.

The John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 became law.

John F. Kennedy still
Giphy | US National Archives

The new bill, aimed at being more transparent, collected the records pertaining to the 1963 assassination and started releasing them into the public record. The final documents were released back in 2017.

'Monty Python's Flying Circus'

Monty Python's "Spam" sketch

Have you ever wondered why we call unwanted email spam? It might have something to do with an old Monty Python sketch in which the word 'spam' slowly starts to replace every word that's seen on a restaurant menu.

Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace

'Star Wars Episode 1' gif
Giphy | Star Wars

The movie received a bit of a lukewarm reception when it finally came out, but anyone who was around back in the late '90s knows that the hype was off the charts for the first new Star Wars movie in nearly two decades. It was one of the first movies to go viral.

Steve Jobs called it "the biggest download event in history."

'Star Wars Episode 1' still
IMDB | LucasFilm

The Apple boss said that the trailer for the film — one of the first trailers to be released online — was massive. It received an unprecedented (for the time) 6.4 million downloads, and was considered a major test of the internet's capacity for traffic at the time, and especially Akamai distribution technology — a test that it passed, while sites using other tech crashed.