In pop culture

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The term "Nine Inch Nails" has been used in various cultural references, and as an otherwise unlikely phrase, is often assumed to be in reference or tribute to the band. NIN songs have also been used in many films, television shows and video games.


See also: Related bands and artists

  • Singer Tori Amos has alluded to Nine Inch Nails in her lyrics: "Precious Things" mentions "demigods with their nine-inch nails" and "Caught a Lite Sneeze" finds her "{making her} own Pretty Hate Machine." Trent Reznor sang back-up vocals on Amos' "Past the Mission." Amos sometimes included the opening line of "Hurt" in live improvisations, sometimes with silly alternative lyrics such as "I hurt myself today/to find a jellybean." The term "Starfucker" was used in Amos' 1996 song "Professional Widow" on the album Boys for Pele. Many believe that Amos and Reznor were more than friends, and Reznor has confessed that Courtney Love meddled in their friendship, causing them to drift apart. Some believe Amos's song, "She's Your Cocaine" is about the two of them. In 2014, Amos performed a live cover of ""Something I Can Never Have".
  • Eminem's "My Name Is" from his 1999 album The Slim Shady LP includes the line "Wanna see me stick Nine Inch Nails through each one of my eyelids?" in the first verse, commonly seen as a nod to the band.
  • Progressive metal band Dream Theater has performed a live medley called "Caught in Alice's New Nine-Inch Millennium Tool Garden." It used the lyrics of their earlier release "Caught in a Web," but with new music which was a combination of the styles of Alice in Chains, Nine Inch Nails, Tool, and Soundgarden, all of which were prominent rock bands during the 90s. The band later wrote new lyrics to the song and released it as "New Millennium" on the album Falling into Infinity.
  • Nine Inch Nails is referenced in the Phi Life Cypher remix of Gorillaz' "Clint Eastwood:" "Now rearrangin' your whole skeletal structure then I find some nine inch nails to perform some acupuncture."
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic has paid tribute to NIN more than once: "Closer" is parodied in the "Alternative Polka" from Bad Hair Day, and "Germs," on the album Running with Scissors, sounds like a cross between "Terrible Lie" and "Closer" with some elements from "Mr. Self Destruct."
  • Following the feud with Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit, in their 2000 song "Hot Dog" returned the lyrics of "Closer," stating "You wanna fuck me like an animal/You'd like to burn from the inside." The use of the lyrics was actually meant as a tribute to Trent Reznor, whom Durst admires, though it is often misinterpreted as an attempt at "bashing" him. Reznor cleared the use of his lyrics with no trouble, and received credit in the liner notes for the song. "Hot Dog" also mentioned "A nine inch nail/ get knocked the fuck out" and two NIN song-titles: "A Perfect Drug" and "Closer."
  • In Crazy Town's 1999 album The Gift of Game, the song "Darkside" contains the lyric "Devil's eyes and nine inch nails."
  • The MC Lars song "Signing Emo" contains the line "Industrial comes back/The pres. needs a NIN." MC Lars has stated he is a fan, but live often replaces NIN with Tool, a sign of the current relevance of Tool to the industrial scene.
  • In the song "In My Backyard" by Dead Celebrity Status, the band references Nine Inch Nails in the line "Like a Nine Inch Nail being pushed in by Trent Reznor," this track also references many other bands.
  • Nine Inch Nails are referenced in the song "Overcome" by Within Temptation. The last two lines of the fifth verse are "Sorry do my nine inch nails/Slash your soul?"
  • In the video for Good Charlotte's "Keep Your Hands Off My Girl," a NIN sticker can be seen on a band member's guitar.


See also: Soundtracks

  • Class of 1999 (1990): During the scene featuring a phone conversation between Cody and Hector, "Head Like A Hole" plays on the radio in Razorhead's headquarter.
  • Prayer of the Rollerboys (1991): "Head Like a Hole" can be heard playing at a party.
  • The Crow (1994): Cover of Joy Division's "Dead Souls" from their album Still, played as Eric Draven runs across rooftops.
  • Natural Born Killers (1994): "Something I Can Never Have" (edited and extended), "Burn" and "A Warm Place" are used in the film and appear on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack, which Reznor produced.
  • Clueless (1995): Travis Birkenstock says, "so how I feel about The Rolling Stones, is how my kids are going to feel about Nine Inch Nails."
  • The Doom Generation (1995): The film opens in a nightclub playing "Heresy."
  • Se7en (1995): The opening sequence features the "Closer" remix "Closer (Precursor)".
  • Joe's Apartment (1996): The main character is seen wearing a Closer To God shirt.
  • The Fan (1996): "The Art Of Self Destruction, Part One", "Closer (Further Away)" and "Closer To God" are all featured.
  • Lost Highway (1997): Reznor wrote "The Perfect Drug" specifically for this film, with limited production time. He was also the producer for the film's soundtrack, and wrote/performed "Driver Down" and "Videodrones; Questions" along with Peter Christopherson.
  • Small Soldiers (1998): Just as one of the soldiers is about to fire the nail gun, he shouts, "Hey kid, don't you like Nine Inch Nails?".
  • Tuesdays with Morrie (1999): The opening sequence featured a voice saying "Morrie would dance to anything... Name a band. He'd do the twist to Nine Inch Nails".
  • Requiem for a Dream (2000): Trent Reznor and Nothing Records are credited in the "Special Thanks" section of the film's end credits. Composer Clint Mansell said Reznor served as a music consultant for the film's soundtrack.
  • Final Destination (2000): When Carter tries to run over Billy shortly before Terry's death, "Into The Void" can be heard pumping from his car. A fan made this connection to something Trent had purportedly said:
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  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001): "Deep".
  • Resident Evil (2002): While Alice battles the mutated dogs, "Fist Fuck" soundtracks the assault.
  • Saw (2003 short film): Intro has a clip from "Screaming Slave".
  • The Machinist (2004): Writer Scott Kosar is a fan of Nine Inch Nails, and named Christian Bale's character Trevor Reznik in tribute to Reznor. His original script had NIN lyrics on the first page, the promotional poster for the film has a backwards 'N' (as in the NIИ logo), and early press articles described Reznik as going through "a downward spiral."
  • Man on Fire (2004): Clips of "The Art Of Self Destruction, Part One," "Self Destruction, Part Two," and "The Downward Spiral (The Bottom)" from Further Down The Spiral; "The Mark Has Been Made" and "The Great Below" from The Fragile; and "The Wretched (Version)" from Things Falling Apart. Reznor received a "Music Consultant" credit for the film.
  • Doom (2005): Clint Mansell's remix of "You Know What You Are?" starts the ending credits. This is most likely a tribute to Reznor's work on the Quake and Doom III sound effects and music.
  • Underworld: Evolution (2006): One of the TV spots features "The Hand That Feeds."
  • 300 (2007): Trailers feature "Just Like You Imagined."
  • The Hitcher (2007): "Closer" is used in a chase scene.
  • Wanted (2008): "Every Day Is Exactly The Same" is used in a scene where Wesley Gibson is working in his office. Twice.
  • Terminator: Salvation (2009): "The Day The World Went Away" is featured in a trailer.
  • A Perfect Getaway (2009): "The Wretched (Version)" is featured in a trailer.
  • Tapped (2009): "Just Like You Imagined" is used in the trailer.
  • Mass Effect 2 (2010): "The Day The World Went Away" is featured in a trailer. This is the same version used in the Terminator: Salvation trailer. (It is disputed this is actually TDTWWA [1])
  • Bulletstorm (2010): "Wish" is used in the trailer.
  • The Social Network (2010): Along with a score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, variations on "35 Ghosts IV" and "2 Ghosts I" can be heard in the film.
  • Tetsuo: The Bullet Man (2010): Trent Reznor composed the instrumental theme song.
  • Red Riding Hood (2011): "The Hand That Feeds" is used in the trailer.
  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011): In addition to featuring a score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Lisbeth gains information from a man wearing a "NIN" shirt at one point during the film.
  • The Avengers (2012): "We're In This Together" is used in a trailer.
  • The Cabin in the Wood (2012): "Last" is used in the credits.
  • Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013): "The Wretched (Version)" is used in the trailer.
  • The Unbelievers (2013): "Complication" is used during the first sequence of scenes in the film.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): "Love Is Not Enough" is used in the trailer.
  • 300: Rise of An Empire (2014): "Eraser" is used in the trailer.
  • The Raid 2 (2014): "13 Ghosts II" and "14 Ghosts II" are used in the film's final scene and credits.
  • Mourning Son (2015): Contains an extended version of "1 Ghosts I".
  • The Defiant Ones (2017): Contains numerous NIN tracks.
  • Captain Marvel (2019): In preview photos released in September 2018, Carol Danvers (played by Brie Larson) is wearing a "NIN" shirt.


  • Several excerpts of various Nine Inch Nails songs have been used on episodes of the television shows CSI, Cold Case, The Sopranos, Homicide: Life on the Street, Criminal Minds, Millennium, and Brotherhood [2], as well as Top Gear.
  • An episode of Muppets Tonight contained a performance by "Nine Inch Snails," an unpunctual musical group of snails dressed in "goth" apparel.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Homerpalooza," Homer Simpson bemoans current bands by pointing to posters in a music store and uttering, "Now here are some of your no-name bands: Sonic Youth? Nine Inch Nails?"
  • In an episode of Full House Stephanie Tanner and her friend try to impress older boys, and the boys mistake them for other girls, saying "Were you those girls on stage at that Nine Inch Nails concert?"
  • In an episode of Clarissa Explains It All the title character says she has an opinion for everything, like "how loud to play the new Nine Inch Nails album."
  • In the first episode of Gossip Girl, the main character's mother was caught having sex with Trent by the main character's love interest's father. When the mother tells the father "in your dreams," he replies with "Well you are in my dreams, Lily. One in particular that recurs involves finding you in the back of a Nine Inch Nails bus with your shoes, and your earrings, and… Trent Reznor. Oh! That happened."
  • A promo for the 2009–10 season of Fringe contains a new version of "Zero-Sum" as well as dialogue read by Reznor. Running the audio through a spectrograph reveals an image of a butterfly.
    • Also on Fringe, during the episode "Midnight", the song "Discipline" can be heard.
  • Beavis and Butt-head "reviewed" the videos for "Head Like A Hole", "March Of The Pigs"[3] and "Wish"[4].
  • In The Nanny episode "The Party's Over," Maggie wants to attend a Nine Inch Nails concert. Fran's reaction to hearing this is, "Barbra's on tour again?"
  • In the How I Met Your Mother episode "Little Minnesota", Ted's sister, Heather, sells his possessions to buy tickets and travel to a Nine Inch Nails concert in Spain.
  • IFC's The Whitest Kids U Know contains a sketch with a crude representation of Trent Reznor.
  • A trailer for the new season of Sons of Anarchy featured a clip of "The Mark Has Been Made."
  • A commercial for Beats Music featured "2 Ghosts I."
  • On Nickelodeon's Danny Phantom, a NIN poster can be seen in the background.
  • In a 2014 episode of Top Gear, the song "Disappointed" can be heard.
  • In The Vampire Diaries in the episode "I Alone," Damon Salvatore lists Nine Inch Nails (along with Nirvana and Boyz II Men) as a possible music choice.
    • Also, in season six of The Vampire Diaries all episode titles are based on song titles and episode 16 is titled "The Downward Spiral." This episode was Ian Somerhalder's directorial debut and he revealed the episode title comes from the title of his favorite Nine Inch Nails album.
  • In The Walking Dead episode "Try," "Somewhat Damaged" is prominently featured at the beginning. It is the first track on a CD mix titled "Run Mix" created by Aiden and found by his mother, Deanna, after his death.
  • Part 5 of the documentary miniseries O.J.: Made In America uses "5 Ghosts I" and "28 Ghosts IV".
  • Nine Inch Nails (billed as "The Nine Inch Nails" and consisting of Reznor, Robin Finck, Mariqueen Maandig, Atticus Ross, Alessandro Cortini and Joey Castillo of Queens Of The Stone Age) appeared in an episode of Twin Peaks: The Return, doing a mimed performance of "She's Gone Away". The song also appears on the soundtrack for the new series.
  • NIN shirts are worn on two episodes of Narcos.
  • The documentary series The Vietnam War contains several NIN tracks, in addition to featuring a score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
  • NIN songs are used in multiple episodes of Animal Kingdom.
  • In the Schitt's Creek episode "The Plant", it is mentioned that the acapella group Jazzagals are rehearsing a Nine Inch Nails medley.
  • "Hurt" is used on Rick And Morty during the episode "The Wedding Squanchers".
  • "Head Like A Hole" and "Right Where It Belongs" are reinterpreted as pop songs by Ashley O (played by Miley Cyrus) in the "Rachel, Jack And Ashley Too" episode of Black Mirror.
  • In Season 3, Episode 10 of Jessica Jones, the title character is seen holding a Nine Inch Nails concert ticket stub.
  • In an episode of Hulu's series adaptation of High Fidelity, Robin's character is seen wearing a Closer To God t-shirt and a NIN sticker appears on the cash register.
  • The Kate Kane character wears a NIN shirt in an episode of Batwoman.

Literature and Comics

  • American author Stephen King quotes the chorus of "Hurt" in the opening pages of the final book of his Dark Tower series, The Dark Tower (2004). In an interview with The NIN Hotline, he said, "I've always been a TrentRez fan—and Nails. "Hurt" says all you need to know about what life takes away. What it ALWAYS takes away in the end. A song like that is a treasure because it vocalizes what we all feel but somehow can't say. Of course the Cash video blew me away, but that song (and the Bad Company lyric) have been in my head for a couple of years now."[5]
  • In book #12 of Animorphs, Cassie tells Rachel that she told her mom that NIN stood for "Nice is Neat".
  • In Marisha Pessl's "Special Topics In Calamity Physics" one of the protagonists (Milton) wears a Nine Inch Nails shirt ("He had rolled up the long sleeves of his Nine-Inch-Nails-shirt[...]).
  • In the graphic novel Johnny the Homicidal Maniac by Jhonen Vasquez, the band "Nine Inch Heels" is referenced several times. The logo is very similar to that of Nine Inch Nails.
  • Trent and Nine Inch Nails are mentioned several times in the novel Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis. Protagonist Victor Ward makes reference to "Hurt" specifically.
  • Jennifer Egan referenced Nine Inch Nails in her novels "Look at Me," and "A Visit from the Goon Squad." In "Look at Me," one of the characters calls NIN a "metal" band and says she loathes them. This could be considered the voice of her character, but in "A Visit from the Goon Squad," Egan uses NIN as part of what seems to be a general statement against technological advances in society and the marketing of all music to the young (as opposed to the music she seems to write with sentimentality for: 70's punk.) In the final chapter of "Goon Squad," Egan writes a future where everyone talks in babyish text-speak on devices that resemble iPhones and Nine Inch Nails has a song for children called "Ga-Ga."
  • In the webcomic JACK, many of the story arcs have lines or names that reference Nine Inch Nails as well as other bands that the author, David Hopkins, has an affinity for (such as Pink Floyd). Some of the references are the stories "The Mark Has Been Made" and "Twist" as well as the arc "Hell Is That Noise" which is acknowledged as a "Tribute to NIN" and includes song titles and lyrics taken from The Fragile in order to form a story about a soldier during "The Great Trench War" (a fictional equivalent to WWI) who commits suicide after finding out his wife had hung herself while he was away after the deaths of her three newborn children; his journey through Hell to find her; and his outright refusal of the truth when he finds it.
  • A young soldier in the comic strip Doonesbury lost most of his hearing due to listening to too much Nine Inch Nails music before he was severely injured in Iraq. His hearing loss was "worth it!"
  • In the Earth Temperature Timeline published by xkcd, one figure is seen writing "NIИ" on a cave wall.

Video Games

See also: Use in Video Games

  • The fortress bosses (the fire-breathing dinosaurs) in various incarnations and versions of Super Mario World are called Reznors and have been confirmed to be named after Trent.[6]
  • The first person shooter SiN contains a reference to "Reptile" in the form of a bulletin board with the words "she has the blood of reptile underneath her skin" on it. The game title may also be a reference to "Sin".
  • The campaign trailer for Gears 5 debuted at Gamescom 2019 to the music of "Head Like A Hole".

External Links

  • IMDB profile for all Film and Television featuring Reznor's work.
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