It's not super often that metal creeps its way into mainstream pop culture, so when it does, it certainly makes for an unexpected surprise.
From kids cartoons, to sitcoms and comedies, there are some well-known (and not so well-known) easter eggs for metalheads that are hiding out there in the wide world of entertainment.
We've definitely had to do a double-take or two in our time, so here are ten references in TV shows and movies that blew our minds!
Movies with metal soundtracks don't count here (check out Movie Soundtracks That Slay), and while shows like Metalocalypse are awesome, they're already metal in nature so they don't either. Let's jump in:
DevilDriver - Scrubs
Who would have imagined that a band like DevilDriver would have not one, but two songs featured in a popular comedy-drama about surgeons?
When the show's main character J.D. loses his license, he's picked up by the hospital's delivery driver Lloyd Slawski, who asks if he's by any chance into speed metal. Cut to Lloyd driving while blaring DevilDriver's 'My Therapeutic Month' and mouthing along aggressively and it's a very welcome surprise.
During another flashback later in the same episode, Lloyd is listening to DevilDriver's 'My Long Goodbye' while air drumming, forcing JD to take the wheel so they don't crash. It's pretty amazing, and hilarious too:
Pantera - SpongeBob SquarePants
Yes, you read that right - Pantera have actually made an appearance in a kids cartoon. Not physically of course, but an instrumental version of their song 'Death Rattle' was featured as backing music during an 11-minute Spongebob short called Pre-Hibernation Week in 2001!
This one had to be included by just how bizarre and awesome it is to hear Dimebag's hellish guitar leads set to the visuals of sea creatures racing down sand hills. The juxtaposition is real, folks:
AJ Soprano's Shirts/Posters - The Sopranos
Any metal fan watching The Sopranos when it first aired would have had a field day spotting the numerous visual references to tons of bands thanks to the angsty teen character AJ Soprano.
Throughout the show, AJ is portrayed as a metal fan and at various times can be seen wearing Slipknot, Coal Chamber, Pantera and Marilyn Manson merch to name a few, while his room is littered with posters of bands like Nevermore and Ulver. There's also a scene where Tony Soprano can hear AJ listening to Deicide through the walls of his home!
Apparently, Roadrunner Records got wind that AJ's actor Robert Iler was actually a fan of metal in real life, and sent him a bunch of the merch we saw on the screen.
There is even a Twitter account dedicated to cataloging all of AJ's nu-metal shirts across its seasons. Watching through the show again and spotting all the metal references had us like this:
Cannibal Corpse - Ace Ventura
It's probably the most high-profile metal crossover in history, but how did such a brutal band like Cannibal Corpse find themselves playing 'Hammer Smashed Face' at a live show in Ace Ventura?
Well, Jim Carrey let slip during an interview on The Arsenio Hall Show that he had been getting into death metal bands like Napalm Death at the time. Cannibal Corpse got the call from Carrey's people saying he wanted them specifically to be in the movie, even so far as getting them to call the band back again when they initially declined due to clashing tour dates.
In the end, Cannibal Corpse got a ton of new fans out of the cameo, and we were gifted with one of the most unforgettable metal movie moments ever.
There's an in-depth interview with Cannibal Corpse over at Vice about the entire thing which is well worth a read!
Mastodon - Monsters University
There we are, just minding our business while watching Monsters University, when...wait, was that Mastodon?
Yep, turns out we weren't hearing things - there's a quick three-second cameo of Mastodon's 'Island' during the prequel to Monsters Inc., when Ms. Squibbles drops her boys off in her van, rolls up her window starts "listening to her tunes".
The crazy part about it all is that it wasn't even one of the band's well-known songs, but a deep cut off their 2004 sophomore album Leviathan. Coolest mum ever!
Someone over at Disney clearly knows what's up.
Mötörhead - The Young Ones
It's not as unexpected to see Mötörhead in a show with characters rooted in British anarchism and punk, but it's still an awesome cameo that deserves a mention nonetheless.
The Young Ones gained a massive cult following throughout the 1980s thanks to its larger-than-life characters and musical cameos in each episode. During the episode Bambi, the group realise they're late to catch a train for their appearance on a quiz show that night, so they get Lemmy and co. to play 'Ace Of Spades' as their montage music on the way.
It's pretty hard to pull off a random band cameo in a sitcom without exuding cringe, but The Young Ones did it so well.
Judas Priest - The Simpsons
If you've stopped watching The Simpsons in recent years, you may have missed Judas Priest's hilarious appearance during the ninth episode of season 25 back in 2014.
In this episode, Bart teaches Homer how to pirate movies, who is loving life until he gets caught for piracy. While hiding, the FBI force them out by "blasting death metal", which turns out to just be Judas Priest playing a hilarious parody of 'Breaking The Law' on the back of a truck.
Metal fans called out the show for labeling Judas Priest as "death metal", which the show then responded to by having Bart scribble 'Judas Priest is not "death metal"' on the blackboard during the intro of the next episode. Such a great clapback.
Eyehategod - Treme
We never imagined we'd see the legendary sludge metal band Eyehategod on a HBO show, but here we are!
With Treme set in New Orleans, it's great to see one of the city's most loved and influential metal bands get their time in the spotlight, as they're seen playing to a packed crowd while one of the show's characters crowdsurfs to their slow, dirty riffs.
Watch the scene below:
Korn - South Park
Korn got in on South Park early, with an appearance during the third season in 1999 that saw each member guest-voicing themselves.
The band actually play a key role in the plot of the episode, where they're enlisted to perform for a Halloween bash but are lambasted by the town as Satanists that play violent music.
After being portrayed as a parody of Scooby Doo characters, Korn play the bash as planned, performing 'Falling Away From Me'.
South Park has made an endless list of pop culture references since, including a moment when Cartman plays Slayer's 'Raining Blood' through his laptop at the Hippie Jam Fest.
Honourable Mention - Carcass Are Name-Dropped on Friends
Did you catch these references when you watched through for the first time? Are there any out there that have flown under our radar? Let us know!