Columbine High School massacre in modern culture

Columbine High School massacre in modern culture

The following is a list of cultural references to the Columbine High School massacre.



References to the shootings have appeared in popular music.

  • Christian ska band Five Iron Frenzy wrote a song called "A New Hope" about what happened at Columbine. The band is from Denver CO and band member Micah Ortega's sister was one of the students trapped in the choir room during the massacre.
  • Members of KMFDM, one of the bands to which Harris and Klebold were avid fans, had formed a group called MDFMK and wrote a song called "Witch Hunt".
  • The massacre inspired Finnish symphonic metal group Nightwish to write "The Kinslayer" for their Wishmaster album (1999). The song references the victims (9 men, 4 women) and shooters and contains a conversation between Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen and guest singer Ike Vil that are supposed to be a conversation between one of the killers and one of his victims.
  • Underground Rapper Denace (also knowing as "Nasty" ) wrote the song "Change The Road" inspired by the massacre. The song tells the story of two the killers both from different worlds but both commit the crime due to being bullied.
  • Napoleon referenced it at the end of a Outlawz song "The Good Die Young" on Still I Rise, not to be confused with the D12 song released on D12 World approximately 5 years later.
  • In 2004, shots of surveillance footage of the Columbine shooting spree appeared in the music video for "Alert Status Red" by Matthew Good.
  • Filter's 2002 album, The Amalgamut, is social commentary with one song ("Columind") displaying a portrayal of the Columbine shooting.
  • Contemporary Christian Musician Michael W. Smith released This Is Your Time in 1999, which was inspired by the Columbine massacre; especially the title track "This is Your Time", which is about the mistaken belief that Cassie Bernall was asked if she believed in God, when in fact this exchange happened with survivor Valeen Schnurr.
  • Christian songwriter and artist, Brad Richardson wrote "A Colorado Columbine" featured on the Lullaby for Columbine CD released in 1999. The song was inspired by a blanket of snow that fell on the morning after the Columbine shooting. The song evokes a spirit of cleansing and hope in the aftermath of America's deadliest school shootings.
  • Nu-metal band Limp Bizkit made reference to the Columbine shooting in their song "Head for the Barricade".
  • The band The Calling has a song called "One By One" was inspired by many school shootings, including The Columbine Massacre.
  • The band Flyleaf has a song entitled "Cassie", which is about the mistaken belief that Cassie Bernall was asked if she believed in God, when in fact this exchange happened with survivor Valeen Schnurr.
  • The band Korn has a song about a bullied teenager who dreams of killing his tormentors called "Thoughtless" on the 2002 album Untouchables .
  • Frank Ticheli visited the school after the massacre, and wrote an alma mater for the school after discovering that the school did not have one. The song was later self-quoted in "An American Elegy", a piece written for band.
  • Marilyn Manson put out an entire record that incorporated reflections concerning the shooting of Columbine: Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death). It was the band's first album since the Columbine High School massacre. The album focuses on America's celebrity culture, its obsession with guns and its fascination with death and martyrdom, and especially the fame - driven by the national media - which violent death can bring. Songs such as "Disposable Teens" and "The Fight Song" were directly written about the Columbine incident. The slower, thought-provoking "The Nobodies" concluded the work.
  • A song called "Leave Me Alone" by goth band The Crüxshadows was remixed as the "Leave Me Alone (Shaft 20/20 Mix)" to incorporate audio clips from the anti-goth segment of the ABC newsmagazine show 20/20 that aired the day after the shooting.
  • The band Pitchshifter has a song entitled "As Seen On TV".
  • Alice Cooper's Brutal Planet album, released in 2000, includes a song "Wicked Young Man" which explicitly refers to the Columbine massacre.
  • In the Chumbawamba song, "Everything You Know Is Wrong", the lead character (the song is from the point of view of the man in the background of conspiracies) makes reference to both Columbine and the two semi-associated events, the Waco Siege and the Oklahoma City bombing.
  • The Chumbawamba song "We Don't Want to Sing Along", was based on the Columbine incident with the protagonist first learning how to make a bomb in an internet chat-room and is abandoned by a friend who dismisses the idea of action.
  • In the song "Loyal To the Game (Remix)" on the Tupac album Loyal To the Game, rapper Dj Quik refers to the event.
  • Columbine students Jonathan and Stephen Cohen wrote a song called Friend Of Mine (Columbine), which briefly received airplay in the US after being performed at a memorial service broadcast on nationwide television. The song was pressed to CD, with the proceeds benefiting families affected by the massacre, and over 10,000 copies were ordered. Shortly following the release of the CD single, the song was also featured on the Lullaby for Columbine CD.[1]
  • The video for Montgomery Gentry's song You Do Your Thing contains a few brief clips of Columbine High School during the massacre.
  • Michale Graves' song "Nobody Thinks About Me" makes many references to Columbine.
  • The song "Ready To Die" by Andrew W.K. is about orchestrated and "revenge" shootings.
  • SITD's song Laughingstock largely refers to Columbine.
  • P.O.D in their song Youth of the Nation, was inspired by the Columbine and Santana school shooting.
  • Swedish punk band "Atlas Losing Grip" reference the shooting in their 2008 song "All In Vain" off their "Shut The World Out" album. In the last half of the song the clip of Patti Nielson's 911 call can be heard in the background of the music and the song ends with a gunshot.
  • French black metal band "Nocturnal Depression" recorded a song entitled "Bonus (Hidden Track)" dedicated to the tragedy on their album "Soundtrack for a Suicide - Opus II".
  • American hip-hop artist Tyler, the Creator makes a reference to the shootings as well as the Virginia Tech massacre in his song Yonkers.
  • Indie Pop Band Foster The People's popular hit song, Pumped Up Kicks refers to the Columbine Shootings.


  • After the shooting, the Colorado Avalanche wore a patch on their jerseys reading "CHS", commemorating the shooting for the rest of the 1998-99 NHL season. The Colorado Rockies did the same.



  • The Static Shock episode "Jimmy" addresses the issue of school shootings, particularly the one at Columbine. A bullied student who attends Virgil and Ritchie's high school opens fire on a group of football players with a pistol and accidentally shoots Ritchie in the knee.
  • An episode of the National Geographic Channel TV series The Final Report that aired on April 3, 2007, explained the order of events in detail before, during, and after the incident. Also, it explained the lives of the perpetrators before committing the crime.
  • In season 2, episode 20 of The Unit, Columbine is mentioned.
  • The Law & Order episode "School Daze" was based on the massacre at Columbine High School.
  • The Law & Order: SVU episode "Manic" deals with the links between psychiatric drugs and school shootings. The Columbine massacre is mentioned.
  • The One Tree Hill episode "With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept" was partially based on the massacre.
  • The shooting has been portrayed in the documentary-style television program Zero Hour, which portrays disasters that unfolded within one hour's time.
  • On March 15, 2006, an episode of the Comedy Central program Drawn Together included a segment recapping notable scenes of the show, dated to represent notable dates in media history. A clip depicting a violent shootout was dated April 20, 1999.
  • In episode 219 of NUMB3RS, a high-school massacre bearing remarkable similarities with Columbine occurred; seven students and one teacher were killed by three gunmen. The gunmen, like Klebold and Harris, were members of an online guild. Columbine was mentioned on several occasions.
  • In Episode 1 in Series 3 of "The Inbetweeners" Jay says to Will "I'll show them" to which he replies "Columbine massacre show them or futile gesture show them?"
  • The Standoff episode "Peer Group" contains many elements of the Columbine massacre such as a notebook full of violent images, a list of students at his school, and the bullies vs. geeks revenge situation originally widely thought to be the cause.
  • The Season 4 premiere of Cold Case, "Rampage", is heavily based on the Columbine shooting.
  • The Degrassi episode "Time Stands Still" was a Columbine-based episode. The character Rick, after being humiliated, returns to Degrassi with a gun, determined to hunt down the people who pulled a prank on him. At first Paige unknowingly defuses the situation, but when Jay sees that Rick is in a bathroom stall, he and Spinner frame Jimmy. As a result, Rick shoots Jimmy in the back, paralyzing him. Rick's next target is Emma until Sean steps in to protect her and accidentally causes Rick to shoot and kill himself in the process.
  • Two episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer were postponed after they were to air soon after the shootings. The first was the episode "Earshot". Though the episode had to do with school violence, there is a scene reminiscent of the University of Texas at Austin's shooting. Also "Graduation Day, Part Two" was delayed by almost two months after the shootings because of the scene where the students are wielding weapons. It was only aired after The WB received "thousands of letters demanding that the finale be aired".[3]
  • In the Family Guy episode Brian and Stewie, Brian and Stewie are trapped in a safe and when Stewie questions Brian about his owning of a Gun, Stewie says "You are spewing all that liberal Crap about stricter gun laws, you cried after Columbine."
  • In the Joan of Arcadia episode "The Uncertainty Principle", Joan was told by God to ask a troubled young man, Steve Ramsey, to the school dance. He and Joan left the dance early and he took her to a private shooting range. When Joan's father, the chief of police in the town at the time, went to the site with two other cops after a tip from another student, Ramsey pointed his gun toward the cops but was successfully talked down and subsequently arrested. The next day at school, God informed Joan that if Ramsey had not been arrested, he would have come to school with a gun that morning and killed 12 students and a teacher before turning the gun on himself, like the Columbine shootings.
  • The Veronica Mars episode "Happy Go Lucky" depicts a high school janitor threatening students with a gun in the high school cafeteria because he has been fired from his job.
  • An episode of Flashpoint depicts a student being viciously bullied and returning to the school with a gun to get apologies from his tormentors.
  • On an episode of Generation Kill, after a marine kills two Iraqi children another marine refers to him as a 'Dylan Klebold wannabe'.
  • In Gilmore Girls Episode, Like Mother, Like Daughter. The episode focuses on Rory being told by the school guidance officer that she was too much of a loner. In the episode both Lorelai and Rory make references to Columbine. Rory says "Kid with a duffel bag filled with unknown things" and Lorelai says "A long black matrix type coat".
  • In Family Guy "Trading Places" - season 9 episode 13 - Peter is pretending to be a high school student. He wears a black trench coat and holds a shotgun saying he wants to get back at the popular kids who ignored him. When Lois tells him he's a normal high school student, Peter calls someone named Lance, trying to tell him "it" was off, but Lance starts shooting anyway. This is another reference to Columbine because if Peter went along with it, there would be two gunmen.
  • In an episode of The Closer, there is a group of teens who seem to idolize the shooters and unsuccessfully try to launch a similar attempt at a mall.
  • In the 6th episode "Halloween 2" of American Horror Story, a victim of Tate's high school shooting, which he doesn't recollect, asks him "Do you believe in God?". When he reacts surprised, she repeats "You asked me if I believe in God and you put a gun to my head." In the following episode, a sequence in which Tate Langdon shoots several victims in a library occurs, much like the library massacre in the Columbine shooting.


  • Idle Hands - A teen comedy that tanked at the box office most likely because it was released immediately following the events at Columbine. The lead protagonist is possessed by his hand to murder his parents and two best friends. After severing his hand, the hand rampages through the school halls during a high school dance and kills several people before being destroyed.
  • Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV - Went into production following the massacre. The opening scene shows Toxie battling a terrorist group known as the Diaper Mafia(a pun on the real life Trenchcoat Mafia, the clique the two gunmen were partially involved with before the shooting) who have taken hostage a school of teenage special needs children. The scene concludes with several students being gunned down with an M60 machine gun and the already evacuated school being blown to bits by a plastic explosive purchased at K-Mart(more references to the disaster at Columbine, as the two gunmen acquired their ammunition from a local K-Mart and planned to blow up their school but failed).
  • Elephant - A film which plays in a dream-like state, following many students who are unaware of their impending death. Meanwhile, two students prepare to initiate a shooting.
  • Zero Day - A film shot entirely through handheld cameras or on security tape, expressing the view of the two killers leading up to the massacre.
  • The massacre was one of the subjects of the 2002 Michael Moore documentary film Bowling for Columbine, about the 'culture of violence' and easy availability of firearms in the United States. Also in the film, Marilyn Manson is asked backstage before a concert in Littleton what he would say if he could talk to the shooters of Columbine. He responded, "I wouldn't say a single word to them. I would listen to what they had to say, and that's what nobody did."
  • The 2002 Showtime television film Bang Bang You're Dead was also inspired by the massacre. The film stars Ben Foster as a teenager routinely picked on at school, so he joins a group of other bullied students to shoot things to make them feel better. The drama teacher (Tom Cavanagh) tries to get Foster to become part of a play he's organizing about a kid who shoots up his school, and the PTA and other adults try to stop it. The teen mentions a list of school shootings in one of his home movies, one of which was the Columbine massacre.
  • The 2002 independent film Home Room was inspired by the aftermath of the incident and the effects it has on students and teachers. Students, faculty and parents of Columbine High School were given a private screening of the film, and director Paul F. Ryan and lead actress Erika Christensen spoke to those present. The reaction to the film was generally positive, partly because of its perspective on the aftermath rather than the shooting itself.
  • The 2004 independent film American Yearbook was inspired by the massacre. The film has not yet been distributed, but has received positive reviews. It portrays a teenager who is bullied at school and as a result, decides to bring a gun to school and kill the bullies. It details the kid-next-door protagonist's struggle with being a school shooter, and ends in a highly dramatic fashion.[citation needed]
  • Kelly Rowland's character in the 2003 horror film Freddy vs. Jason refers to the sudden murders of several fellow high school students as "some Columbine thing or something."
  • Dawn Anna - The story about Lauren Townsend's mother and her life, including her struggles with cancer and eventual recovery, which is soon shattered by the death of her daughter in the shooting.
  • Ekskul, an Indonesian film. The story is about a student taking fellow students hostage with a handgun.
  • The Life Before Her Eyes, an American film which will tell the story of a woman (Uma Thurman) who suffers from the destruction of her life style, due to the trauma from a Columbine-like high school killing when she was younger (young version played by Evan Rachel Wood).
  • The Class, An Estonian film that depicts the story of two students, Joosep and Kasper. Joosep is constantly picked on by the popular kids in his class, and then Kasper decides to go out of his way to protect Joosep from the other kids and become his friend. However, Kasper ends up getting bullied as well. The two then decided they had enough and arrive at school with several guns to get rid of those who bullied them.
  • Reunion, an acclaimed short film about the 13 victims murdered in the Columbine tragedy and what their lives might have been like had they not been cut short.[4]
  • A 2009 film called "April Showers" is based on the Columbine Massacre.
  • The short film "Never"[5] is an alternate look at the Columbine Massacre, and uses documents, dialogue and references related to the shooting. The film is also known by the alternate title "4/20/99" as seen on YouTube.[6]


  • Dave Cullen's 2009 bestseller Columbine took a comprehensive look at the massacre in narrative form. It profiled the killers and ten years of the aftermath. The book won several awards, including the Edgar, and was named on 22 Best of 2009 lists.[7]
  • In Marisha Pessl's novel Special Topics in Calamity Physics, a student describes a teacher as tweaked and says, "Wouldn't be shocked if she went Klebold."
  • An unpublished issue of Hellblazer by Warren Ellis (writer) and Phil Jimenez (artist) depicted a study of a series of fictional school shootings. The series is monthly and it would have been the September 1999 (#141) issue, however the August 1999 (#140) was followed by the October 1999 (#141) issue.[8][9]
  • The novel Vernon God Little deals with similar, though fictional, events. It focuses on the suspicions placed on innocent students as a result to these shootings.
  • Lionel Shriver's 2003 novel We Need to Talk About Kevin was partly inspired by the Columbine massacre and similar school shootings. The protagonist is the mother of a boy who has committed a mass shooting at his own high school.
  • The satirical newspaper The Onion discussed the massacre in its article Columbine Jocks Safely Resume Bullying.[10]
  • Give A Boy A Gun is about a school shooting that two boys are planning to commit at a school dance, told from students and faculty at the school. The two boys are in fascination with Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and hope to have a great impact like Columbine.
  • Stephen King has cited the massacre as a major reason that he has allowed an early novel to fall out of print: Rage, written under the Richard Bachman pen name, which deals with a high school gunman. (However, certain themes in the book were developed into the story of Carrie.) King actually referred to Carrie as the "female version of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold."[11]
  • Mark Rempel wrote a book Point Blank based loosely on the Columbine Shootings and their impact.
  • Jim Shepard's novel Project X was inspired by the events at Columbine. Character Edwin says "So wait we are gonna pull the same thing at that school in colorado? What was it's name again?"
  • Walter Dean Myers wrote Shooter, inspired by the Columbine shootings.
  • Francine Prose's After, a teen novel about teens in a school freaked by a local school shooting, calls the shooting "another Columbine."[citation needed]
  • In Book 11 of the Everworld series, a fantasy serial by K. A. Applegate, a protagonist, Christopher, describes another teen shooting at him as a "little Klebold-Harris psychopath."[citation needed]
  • Jodi Picoult's novel released in March 2007 Nineteen Minutes depicts a Columbine-like school shooting in New Hampshire, and contains direct references to the Columbine shootings.
  • A story arc in the online comic Jack revolves around a plot based on the Columbine massacre.
  • In Zadie Smith's novel "On Beauty", character Kiki Belsey teases her son, saying, "You're not gonna put on a trench coat and shoot up your school, now, are you, baby?"
  • Wally Lamb's "The Hour I First Believed" follows the life of a fictional Columbine High School nurse, and her teacher husband, as they deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after she survives the library massacre.
  • Young Canadian author and animator Alexander Mogg plans to release a novel inspired the massacre at Columbine high called "Unknown Unknowns". "I encourage parents to buy my book and see into the lifestyles of their own children", Mogg said, "..I hope that the people who read my book become aware of the stress and conflict in schools that cause massacres such as Columbine."

Video games

  • A free role-playing game for the PC called Super Columbine Massacre RPG! was released on April 20, 2005, the 6th anniversary of the massacre. This game delves into the morning of April 20, 1999 and asks players to relive that day through the eyes of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
  • The Newgrounds flash game Pico's School, which was inspired by the massacre, stars Pico, the survivor of a revenge-filled school shooting.


  1. ^ Sprengelmeyer, M.E. Farewell performance for Columbine song. Denver Rocky Mountain News. 20 April 2000.
  2. ^ Amanda Palmer at the Speigeltent, Edinburgh Fringe 2007.
  3. ^ Fox Pulls Bones in Wake of College Massacre.
  4. ^ "Reunion (2009)". Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  5. ^ "Never on IMDB". Retrieved 2010-03-24. 
  6. ^ "4/20/99 short film on YouTube". Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  7. ^ Official website for the book Columbine.
  8. ^ Yarbrough, Beau. Unpublished School Shooting 'Hellblazer' Online. Comic Book Resources. 21 August 2000.
  9. ^ Yarbrough, Beau. JLA/Avengers Team-Up in the Works. Comic Book Resources. 19 July 1999.
  10. ^ Columbine Jocks Safely Resume Bullying. The Onion.
  11. ^ Stephen King: On writing.

See also

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