From Da Vinci to South Park: The Last Supper as a Cultural Touchstone

10 April 2023
Leonardo da Vinci's 'The Last Supper' fresco painting has been referenced and reimagined in popular culture many times. While there are other Old Master paintings that exhibit a masterful use of composition, it is 'The Last Supper' that has captured the imagination of pop culture. This discussion will examine a few examples of the reimagining of 'The Last Supper' painting in different contexts.

the last super da vinci

One example of 'The Last Supper' being reimagined is in Robert Altman's 1970 classic satire of the Korean War, MAS*H. In this film, the cast is arranged in a tableau that reflects the Last Supper, with Dr. Waldowski taking the place of Jesus at the center of the table. 

Waldowski is the company's dentist, who decides to commit suicide, but before doing so, he hosts a Last Supper-like dinner with his colleagues. This version of 'The Last Supper' has a happy ending, unlike the original.

m*a*s*h film last supper

Another example is a promo picture created ahead of the fourth and final series of Ronald D. Moore's Battlestar Galactica, which features the characters positioned at a table with significant items, alluding to the missing Final Cylon who was yet to be unveiled... 

Adama and Roslin, who are kept apart by duty, but turned towards one another by love, are significant characters in this reimagined version.

battle star galactic last super homage

In Zack Snyder's film version of Alan Moore's graphic novel, Watchmen, there is a nod to 'The Last Supper' in the opening credit flash through costumed vigilante history. 

The pregnant Silk Spectre takes the central spot, while the bastard of a man, The Comedian is in the Judas position.

watchmen last super homage

The Simpsons' episode "Thank God It's Doomsday" from season 16 is another example of a reimagined Last Supper. The episode ends with a restored Moe's Tavern hosting a Last Supper-like line up, with drunkard Barney appearing to be the John figure.

Maybe it should be renamed "The Last Beers"?

the last supper homage simpsons

The Lost TV show promotional photo was taken in early January 2010, just before the final series of the show was revealed to the world. It featured most of the surviving cast members of the show gathered around the wing of a plane, staring at John Locke (played by Terry O'Quinn) in a possibly significant way.

At this point in the show's run, the audience was hooked on the mystery and intrigue that the writers had built up over the years. The photo was just another tantalizing hint at what was to come in the final season of the show. While the photo didn't end up having any significant impact on the show's storyline (other JJohn Locke being central to the plot and ending) it served as a testament to the show's ability to keep its audience guessing and engaged until the very end.

lost tv show last supper

In the thirteenth season of South Park, Trey Parker and Comedy Central presented the episode 'Margaritaville', which satirized the ongoing global recession and the struggles of the industrialized west to fix it. The episode portrayed capitalism and the economy as a religion, with Kyle as its savior. The gang was posed in a Da Vinci-style depiction, but the reason for Ike's inexplicable happiness remains a mystery. As expected, Cartman assumed the Judas position, with pizza for food and an arcade as the setting. 

south park last supper

The poster for The Expendables 2 features the cast holding weapons, with Sylvester Stallone front and center, while the lone female presence takes the position of John. This reimagined version also features Chuck Norris' Booker, who plays the right-hand-man Peter, and Jason Statham's Lee Christmas.

the expendables 2 last supper

Lastly, in David Chase’s gangster drama, The Sopranos, a Last Supper promotional shot was released just before the program's second season. Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, the positions of the characters balance the two sides of Tony's life – his family and his "other" family.

sopranos last supper

Fade to black on Tony Soprano...


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

At The Astromech, you can expect to find a variety of articles, reviews, and analysis related to science fiction, including books, movies, TV, and games.
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