Max: Parodies

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A satirist must often suffer the same slings and arrows in return. Max Headroom has been parodied, satirized and paid homage in a surprisingly broad variety of ways.

Doonesbury & "Ron Headrest"

The first two "Ron Headrest" strips from April 27 & April 28, 1987.
Doonesbury ©1987 G.B. Trudeau. Reprinted courtesy of the creator and Universal Press Syndicate. All rights reserved.

Gary Trudeau was one of many comics artists to latch onto the Max meme, turning then-President Ronald Reagan into a digitized parody of himself, Ron Headrest. The gag outlived Max's run, as well as Reagan's. "Ron Headrest" makes 77 appearances through about 1993, which can be found in the UPS online archives.

Garry Trudeau is quoted as saying that this was one of his least popular characters... but damn if it isn't the most spot-on parody of them all. Trudeau clearly "got" what made Max interesting and a little scary, and found the ideal candidate to carry the joke...

(My thanks to Garry Trudeau and UPS for permitting me to include these sample strips.)

"Back to the Future II"

Back to the Future II: Ronald Rea-Rea-Reagan (Jay Koch).

The second installment of the time-traveling movie franchise took Marty McFly to, uh... 2015, where among flying cars and other wonders he encountered several Max-like characters on the service screens of the old diner.

(I have to say that I am beyond embarrassed to have not realized that in an additional layer of satire, these t-talking heads were pitching The P-Word (Pepsi)... until it was pointed out to me.

Excuse me, I'm going to go ride my hoverboard around to look for flying cars and self-lacing shoes...)

Back to the Future II: Michael Jack-Jackson! (E. Casanova Evans).
Back to the Future II: Ronnie joined by Khomei-meini (Charles Gerardi).
  • MAD Magazine
Max appeared on the cover of the March 1987 issue of MAD, albeit wearing his Alfred E. Neuman mask.
  • "Sledge Hammer: 'A Clockwork Hammer'"
This sitcom, a running parody of tough-guy cop shows, ran on ABC in the same years as Max's show. It used a punning title and parodic theme for each episode of its two-season run. One, almost inevitably, was based on the title character becoming Max-Max-Maxified.
  • Maxine Legroom
When Max was interviewed for Playboy magazine, the editors accompanied the interview with a layout for a rather hot blonde (female, of course) equivalent named Maxine Legroom. (Page contains some very slightly NSFW images.)
  • David Letterman
Sometime after Max's famous interview, Letterman parodied Max using his standby court jester, Larry Bud Melman.
  • Sesame Street Magazine
Max was portrayed as "Max Hogroom," by 'Link Hogthrob' in the Spring 1988 issue of Sesame Street magazine.
  • "Muppet Babies: 'This Little Piggy Went to Hollywood'"
Max was briefly impersonated as 'the weirdest guy on TV' by 'Baby Gonzo' in Episode 406 of "Muppet Babies," 24 Oct 1987.
  • "Maxine"
Rule 34 before anyone conceived of a Rule 34, much less an internet. Yes, it's Max-themed porn starring Porsche Lynn.
  • "Carmen Sandiego"
The animated series featured Carmen's boss, seen only as a talking-head on TV.
  • T-Mobile Germany's "Robert T-Online"
One of the more bizarre manifestations of Max-influence was this strange talking-head spokesbeing for T-Mobile Germany (a division of Deutsche Telekom), a very Max-like "Robert T-Online."
  • Eminem: "Rap God"
Eminem's 2013 single "Rap God" features an extended parody of Max with the singer in full costume and on a signature moving-lines background.

The 2007 commercials for Channel Four could also be called parodies... or at least self-satire.