The Bell Jar has been referred to many times in the popular media, including Gilmore Girls, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Warehouse 13, Robot Chicken and in the finale of Master of None. When Heather Chandler crashes through the glass table in Heathers, CliffsNotes for The Bell Jar are seen on the floor. Immediately after this sighting, J.D. decides to frame Heather's death as a suicide. Iris Jamahl Dunkle wrote of the novel that "often, when the novel appears in American films and television series, it stands as a symbol for teenage angst."
Larry Peerce's The Bell Jar (1979) starred Marilyn Hassett as Esther Greenwood, the protagonist and featured the tagline: "Sometimes just being a woman is an act of courage." In the film, Joan attempts to get Esther to agree to a suicide pact, an incident which is not in the book. Joan is implied to be a lesbian in Plath's novel.
In July 2016, it was announced that Kirsten Dunst would be making her directorial debut with an adaptation of The Bell Jar starring Dakota Fanning as Esther Greenwood.
Jason Isbell refers to The Bell Jar in his song "The Life You Chose" from his 2015 album Something More Than Free. Isbell writes, "Who are you if not the one I met?, One July night before the town went wet, Jack and coke in your mama's car, You were reading The Bell Jar."