2001 has been the frequent subject of both parody and homage, sometimes extensively and other times briefly, employing both its distinctive music and iconic imagery.
In advertising and print
- Mad magazine #125 (March 1969) featured a spoof called 201 Minutes of a Space Idiocy written by Dick DeBartolo and illustrated by Mort Drucker. In the final panels it is revealed that the monolith is a film script titled "'How to Make an Incomprehensible Science Fiction Movie' by Stanley Kubrick". It was reprinted in various special issues, in the MAD About the Sixties book, and partially in the book "The Making of Kubrick's 2001".
- The August 1971 album Who's Next by The Who featured as its cover artwork a photograph of a concrete slab at Easington Colliery with the band apparently doing up their trouser zips. The decision to photograph this "monolith" image while on their way to a concert followed discussion between John Entwistle and Keith Moon about Kubrick's film.
- Thought to be the first time Kubrick gave permission for his work to be re-used, Apple Inc.'s 1999 website advertisement "It was a bug, Dave" was made using footage from the film. Launched during the era of concerns over Y2K bugs, the ad implied that Hal's weird behavior was caused by a Y2K bug, before driving home the point that "only Macintosh was designed to function perfectly".
In film and television
- Mel Brooks' satirical film History of the World, Part I opens with a parody of Kubrick's "Dawn of Man" sequence, narrated by Orson Welles. DVDVerdict describes this parody as "spot on". A similar spoof of the "Dawn of Man" sequence also opened Ken Shapiro's 1974 comedy The Groove Tube in which the monolith was replaced by a television set. (The film is mostly a parody of television. Film and Filming held that after this wonderful opening, the film slid downhill.)
- Woody Allen cast actor Douglas Rain (Hal in Kubrick's film) in an uncredited part as the voice of the controlling computer in the closing sequences of his science-fiction comedy Sleeper.
- Matt Groening's animated series The Simpsons, of which Kubrick was a fan, and Futurama frequently reference 2001, along with other Kubrick films. The Simpsons had in the episode "Deep Space Homer" Bart throwing a felt-tip marker into the air; in slow motion it rotates, before a match cut replaces it with a cylindrical satellite. In 2004 Empire magazine listed this as the third best film parody of the entire run of the show. In the Futurama episode "Love and Rocket" a sentient spaceship revolts in a manner similar to Hal. Games Radar listed this as number 17 in its list of 20 Funniest Futurama parodies, while noting that Futurama has referenced Space Odyssey on several other occasions.
- In the 2000 South Park episode "Trapper Keeper", an interaction between Eric Cartman and Kyle Broflovski parodies the conversation between Hal and Bowman within the inner core.
- Peter Sellers starred in Hal Ashby's comedy-drama Being There about a simple-minded middle-aged gardener who has lived his entire life in the townhouse of his wealthy employer. In the scene where he first leaves the house and ventures into the wide world for the first time, the soundtrack plays a jazzy version of Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra arranged by Eumir Deodato. Film critic James A. Davidson writing for the film journal Images suggests "When Chance emerges from his home into the world, Ashby suggests his childlike nature by using Richard Strauss' Thus Spake Zarathustra as ironic background music, linking his hero with Kubrick's star baby in his masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey."
- Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has a scene (using actual footage from A Space Odyssey) in which the monolith morphs into a chocolate bar. Catholic News wrote that the film "had subtle and obvious riffs on everything from the saccharine Disney "Small World" exhibit to Munchkinland to, most brilliantly, a hilarious takeoff on Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey."
- Andrew Stanton, the director of WALL-E, revealed in an interview with Wired magazine that his film was in many ways his homage to Space Odyssey, Alien, Blade Runner, Close Encounters and several other science-fiction films. The reviewer for USA Today described the resemblance of the spaceship's computer, Auto, to Hal. The same year saw the release of the much less successful film Eagle Eye, about which The Charlotte Observer said that, like 2001, it featured a "red-eyed, calm-voiced supercomputer that took human life to protect what it felt were higher objectives"
- Commenting on the broader use of Ligeti's music beyond that by Kubrick, London Magazine in 2006 mentioned Monty Python's use of Ligeti in a 60-second spoof of Space Odyssey in the Flying Circus episode commonly labeled "A Book at Bedtime".
- The poorly reviewed Canadian spoof 2001: A Space Travesty has been occasionally alluded to as a full parody of Kubrick's film, both because of its title and star Leslie Nielsen's many previous films which were full parodies of other films. However, Space Travesty only makes occasional references to Kubrick's material, its "celebrities are really aliens" jokes resembling those in Men in Black. Canadian reviewer Jim Slotek said, "It's not really a spoof of 2001, or anything in particular. There's a brief homage at the start, and one scene in a shuttle en route to the Moon that uses The Blue Danube... The rest is a patched together plot." Among many complaints about the film, reviewer Berge Garabedian derided the lack of much substantive connection to the Kubrick film (the latter of which he said was "funnier").
- Among spoof references to several science-fiction films and shows, Airplane II features a computer called ROK 9000 in control of a Moon shuttle which malfunctions and kills crew members, which several reviewers found reminiscent of Hal.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 had the design of its main setting, the starship Satellite of Love, based on the bone-shaped satellite featured in the match cut from prehistoria to the future. The one-eyed design of the robot Gypsy lead the show to do various scenes comparing it to HAL 9000, including a scene the 1996 feature film, where the opening featuring Mike Nelson jogging along the walls of the Satellite of Love parodies the scene where Frank Poole does the same in the Discovery.
In software and video games
- 2001: A Space Odyssey has also been referenced in multiple video games, usually with reference to either the monolith or Hal.
- In SimEarth, monoliths are used to encourage the evolution of species.
- Several black monoliths can be found in EVE Online, marked by a beacon with name "Black monolith". Their purpose in game is unknown. The objects are described in-game as "It's full of stars", which is reference to the film's sequel, 2010: The Year We Make Contact.
- In the Elite video game series, the docking computer plays a rendition of The Blue Danube in reference to the space station docking scene in 2001.