The 7 Most WTF Origins of Iconic Pop Culture Franchises

#3. Old School - A Fight Club Remake

The Story You Know:

Vince Vaughn and Frank "the Tank" Ferrell found a fraternity to cheer up Luke Wilson after the poor sap catches his girlfriend mid-gangbang. We're talking Godfather-esque storytelling here, people.

Either Juliette Lewis, or a high end blow-up doll.

What Inspired It:

According to Old School writer/director Todd Phillips...

This guy.'s a comedic retelling of Fight Club. He mentions it in the DVD commentary.

If you watch the movie with that in mind, you realize the scripts follow each other so closely that it's amazing 20th Century Fox didn't force Todd to offer Chuck Palahniuk or David Fincher joint writing credit. Luke Wilson's Mitch is Edward Norton, and Vince Vaughn's Beanie is Tyler Durden. Some of the segments Phillips highlighted both in the commentary and the movie:

"The whole idea of starting some kind of male organization."

Mitch starting off "looking worn out":

...but getting "lean and mean" by the end:

Getting caught using the copier at work:

Oh, hey. Nice jacket.

Phillips had Fight Club on his mind when he wrote the whole goddamn movie, and was relieved to hear from fans and "on the Internet" that enough people pieced his epic work of satire together.

"His name is Robert Paulson."

Though Phillips did make the effort to add a naked Will Ferrell in there, so there's that.

#2. Pinocchio - The Bible and Ancient Porn

The Story You Know:

You probably knew or guessed that Disney didn't invent the story of Pinocchio, which is instead based on Carlo Collodi's classic story about a marionette who, in his journey to become a real boy, faces more temptation and adversity than in The Last Temptation of Christ.

Actually, now that we mention it...

What Inspired It:

Several colorful sources ranging from the Bible to hardcore pornography.

Pinocchio's little run-in with Monstro the end-boss whale was not a mere shout-out to the biblical Book of Jonah (where a rebellious prophet is also swallowed by a whale)-- the entire story is based around it. Instead of a rambunctious, rebellious prophet, you have a rambunctious, rebellious puppet. Instead of skipping town for booze and whores in Tarshish, our prophet skips town for booze and smokables at Pleasure Island. In fact, between Gepetto the Father (a carpenter, no less), Pinocchio his "Son," and a "Holy Spirit" which not-so-subtlety takes the form of the Virgin Mary and a dove, well...

Yeah. Pinocchio is Jesus.

So what about that weird-ass scene where Pinocchio gets turned into a donkey? Well, here's where it gets awesome.

That sequence was lifted straight off the pages of the only novel from Ancient Rome to survive in its entirety: A dime-paperback pulp-novel known as The Golden Ass by Apuleius.

Thanks, Google!

In this seminal work--which is still quite popular in Italy due to its... seminality--our hero is accidentally transformed into a donkey and forced to live as one for quite some time. His adventures take him on a sometimes brutal, oftentimes hysterical journey through the decadent Roman Empire, including a brief stint performing in... you guessed it: donkey sex shows. His participants range from a "insatiable" noblewoman to a lady convicted of murder, and thus sentenced to public donkey-poking.

So yeah, remember that the next time the donkey scene in Pinocchio gets you down. Not only do those donkeys from Pleasure Island escape the salt mines, but they make it all the way to Tijuana.

#1. Gilligan's Island - The Seven Deadly Sins

The Story You Know:

It was like Robinson Crusoe, only with seven castaways. Also, one of them was hot.

Naturally, the other one was a slut.

And... well, as far as we can remember, that's all there ever was to any Gilligan's Island episode.

What Inspired It:

The whole thing appears to be show creator Sherwood Schwartz's Se7en-esque message to the world about morality. According to Sherwood in his book Inside Gilligan's Island, the seven lovable castaways on Gilligan's Isle were modeled after the seven deadly sins. That smart-ass Professor is Pride, the Skipper is Anger, that sexpot Ginger is Lust.

As such, Gilligan's Island really is like Robinson Crusoe, only starring Bob Denver as Gilligan, or should we say, Satan. Seriously, because his laziness (or sloth) keeps everyone on the island, Gilligan plays the same role previously vacated by the literal Lord of the Flies, otherwise known as Beelzebub.

"...And then the Harlem Globetrotters show up."

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For more strange origin stories, check out The Disturbing Origins of 5 Common Nursery Rhymes and Marvel Comics vs. Science: 5 of the Most Absurd Superhero Origins.

And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 06.28.10) to see the origin of Brockway's mustache.

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