List of arts and media puzzle topics

This is a list of art- and popular media-related topics that have been used in puzzles in puzzle hunts.

Since art and media have a lot of overlap, and claiming one thing to be 'media but not art' would often be contentious, there will be no attempt to separate them into separate categories.

Literature[edit | edit source]

For the sake of categorization, literature includes all fiction, regardless of prominence or artistic merit.

Specific authors, books and series[edit | edit source]

  • Alice in Wonderland (wp · list)
  • The Bible (wp · list)
  • The Devil's Dictionary (wp · list) - A satirical dictionary (with individual entries) written by Ambrose Bierce.
  • Encyclopedia Brown (series) (wp · list)
  • The Gashlycrumb Tinies (wp · list) - An alphabet book written by Edward Gorey, depicting the fates of 26 alphabetically-named children in rhyming couplets. Often used as an alphabetical replacement in puzzles.
  • Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (wp · list)
  • Goosebumps (series) (wp · list)
  • Sue Grafton (wp · list) - The author of the Kinsey Millhone detective series, which is notable for its title format (A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar, etc.). Because of this, it's often used as an alphabetical replacement in puzzles, despite X not having a full title, and Z never having been written.
  • Harry Potter (series) (wp · list)
  • Stephen King (wp · list)
  • The Lord of the Rings (series) (wp · list)
  • H.P. Lovecraft (wp · list)
  • Mr. Men (series) (wp · list)
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians (series) (wp · list)
  • Sherlock Holmes (series) (wp · list)
  • Dr. Seuss (wp · list)

General literature topics[edit | edit source]

  • Alphabet books (wp · list) - Books often used to teach children about the alphabet by assigning particular words to the letters. Some books (like the above-mentioned Gashlycrumb Tinies) are not meant for children, but follow the alphabet format regardless.
  • Awards
  • Book covers (web · list)
  • Comic strips (wp · list)
  • Concordances (wp · list) - Lists of all of the words found in a particular literary work, often either with numbers indicating the number of appearances, or accompanying lists of the words' different contexts within the work.
  • Library classification systems (wp · list)
    • The Dewey Decimal System (wp · list)
  • Gamebooks (wp · list) - Commonly just called 'Choose Your Own Adventures', these refer to any type of book that gives the reader control over the order that pages are read, and the ultimate story that is created.
    • Choose Your Own Adventure (wp · list) - A specific series of gamebooks that popularized the genre.
  • Lipograms (wp · list) - Literary works that omit the use of a particular letter, often written as part of constrained writing challenges. They often omit common letters in the alphabet, meaning English lipograms are usually about the letters A, E, or T. Other languages may vary, such as one prominent Japanese lipogram avoiding the syllable あ.
  • Magazines (wp · list)
  • Nursery rhymes (wp · list)
  • Poetry (wp · list)
    • Haiku (wp · list) - A specific Japanese three-line poetic form, where the lines have 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively. Typically rhyme scheme or meter is not required, and often the subject matter of the poems involves nature.

Music[edit | edit source]

Classical music[edit | edit source]

Popular Music[edit | edit source]

  • ABBA (wp · list)
  • The Beatles (wp · list)
    • Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (album) (wp · list)
  • The Grammys (wp · list)
  • "Never Gonna Give You Up" (wp · list)
  • Taylor Swift (wp · list)
  • They Might Be Giants (wp · list)
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic (wp · list)

General music topics[edit | edit source]

  • Albums (wp · list)
  • Bands (wp · list)
  • Christmas carols (wp · list)
    • The Twelve Days of Christmas (wp · list)
  • Cover versions (wp · list)
  • Eurovision Song Contest (wp · list)
  • Instruments (wp · list)
  • Marching bands (wp · list)
  • Mashups (wp · list)
  • Music theory (wp · list)
  • Music videos (wp · list)
  • Radio stations (wp · list)
  • Song Types (wp · list)
    • List songs (wp · list) - Songs that mention multiple things in a set, either creating a list specifically for the song (such as 'Hardware Store' by "Weird Al" Yankovic), or reciting a well-known list (such as Tom Lehrer's 'The Elements').
    • Nonsense songs (wp · list) - Songs that make use of nonsensical syllables or phrases, either as part of the song itself or simply in the title.

Performing arts[edit | edit source]

Classical theatre[edit | edit source]

Dance[edit | edit source]

Musical theatre[edit | edit source]

  • Gilbert and Sullivan (wp · list)
  • Jukebox musicals (wp · list) - Musicals that make use of popular music that has already been recorded, often theming themselves after a particular artist/discography, if not actively being biographical.
  • Opera (wp · list)
  • Stephen Sondheim (wp · list)
  • The Tonys (wp · list)

Popular media[edit | edit source]

Film[edit | edit source]

  • The American Film Institute (AFI) (wp · list)
  • Disney (wp · list)
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (wp · list)
  • Inception (wp · list)
  • James Bond (wp · list)
  • Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon (wp · list) - A game in which, through connections made by people acting in movies together, people see how quickly they can get from one actor to actor Kevin Bacon. While not the most prolific actor, Bacon has been in many movies with other prolific actors, meaning that there are many clear routes to get to him this way.
  • Movie censorship (wp · list)
  • The Oscars (wp · list)
  • The Princess Bride (wp · list)

Internet culture[edit | edit source]

  • Hot Ones (wp · list)
  • IMDb (wp · list)
  • Monster Factory (wp · list) - A web series created by brothers Justin and Griffin McElroy for the gaming website Polygon. The premise involves the two entering the character-creation menu for a video game, and making a 'monster', often by maximizing particular slider values or badly recreating characters from pop culture.
  • MS Paint Adventures (wp · list) - A webcomic site created by Andrew Hussie, which has been host to popular webcomics such as Problem Sleuth and Homestuck.
  • Ologies (podcast) (wp · list)
  • Omnibus (Podcast) (wp · list)
  • The Order of the Stick (wp · list)
  • TED Talks (wp · list)
  • TV Tropes (wp · list)
  • Wikipedia (wp · list)
  • xkcd (wp · list)
  • YouTube (wp · list)

Television[edit | edit source]

Specific shows[edit | edit source]

  • The Amazing Race (wp · list) - A reality show hostel by Phil Koeghan in which teams of two (or in one season, families of four) travel around the world while completing challenges, with the goal of being the first one to a 'pit stop' at the end of each 'leg' of the race. In most cases, the last team that arrives there gets eliminated. The show uses a lot of vehicle-based phrases for its terminology, such as Roadblocks (challenges only one team member may complete), Detours (challenges with two different ways to complete them), and Yields (places where teams can force a team to stop and wait for an amount of time). Puzzles about the show often involve the pit stops themselves, and the people who got eliminated at each one.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force (wp · list) - An animated show about three anthromorphic pieces of fast food, airing on Adult Swim. Intended as a spin-off of Space Ghost Coast to Coast, it featured a similar sense of humor and animation style, as well as some unique advertising campaigns. One of the most notable is its 2007 guerrilla marketing campaign in which the showrunners created several LED displays depicting a Mooninite character from the show. They displayed them in 11 different US cities, including Boston where authorities discovered them weeks after they had been placed and deemed them suspicious, shutting down multiple waterways and roads in response.
  • Batman (1960s) (wp · list) - The first-ever live-action adaptation of the Batman comic strips, starring Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin, respectively. Known for its use of visually-depicted sound effects, a wide array of villains, and the copious use of version of 'Holy X Batman' by Robin, it has been used in several different ways in modern hunt puzzles despite the various other Batman series that have come out since.
  • The Big Bang Theory (wp · list) - A sitcom about a group of four 'nerdy' roommates and their day-to-day interactions with each other and their less-nerdy neighbor across the hall. Widely panned for its excessive use of a laugh track and lack of actual jokes, it has found use in puzzle hunts for its unique episode-naming system. Every episode is made up of a pair of words/phrases, with one being a topic touched on in the episode, and the other being a scientific-sounding word, allowing for titles like 'The Dumpling Paradox' and 'The Friendship Algorithm'.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (wp · list) - An adventure show about a teenage vampire-and-other-monster slayer that popularized the 'monster of the week' format used on other sci-fi and fantasy adventure shows of the 1990s and early 2000s. Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as the titular Buffy, each episode focused on a new, immediate threat to the town of Sunnydale, usually in the form of a new monster or evil presence. The show has also had one major spin-off, Angel, which focused on Angel, David Boreanaz's character.
  • Community (wp · list)
  • Countdown (wp · list)
  • Desperate Housewives (wp · list)
  • Doctor Who (wp · list)
  • Firefly (wp · list)
  • Friends (wp · list)
  • Game of Thrones (wp · list)
  • Jeopardy! (wp · list)
  • The Muppet Show (wp · list)
  • Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (wp · list)
  • RuPaul's Drag Race (wp · list)
  • Saturday Night Live (wp · list)
  • Sesame Street (wp · list)
  • The Simpsons (wp · list)
  • Star Trek (wp · list)
  • Survivor (wp · list) - A reality show hosted by Jeff Probst, in which a group of people are taken to a remote location, divided into two or more 'tribes', and dropped off with minimal supplies to survive for 39 days (although with some variation for early season weirdness and COVID-19 protocols). During this time, the castaways have to compete in regular challenges, and gradually vote each other off of the show, until only one remains as the 'sole survivor'. A notable aspect of the show is that each tribe is named uniquely across all seasons, and tribes are differentiated by their members wearing a particular color of 'buff' (a piece of fabric meant to be worn as clothing or accessory).

General TV topics[edit | edit source]

  • Anime (wp · list)
  • The Emmys (wp · list)
  • Episode naming conventions (web · list) - A system by which a particular TV series names its episodes consistently. A notable example would be how the TV show Friends names almost all its episodes in the form 'The One...' followed by an event in the episode. While present in some cases outside of TV, they're most common in television.
  • TV theme songs (wp · list)

Visual art[edit | edit source]

General arts and media topics[edit | edit source]

  • Fictional things (wp · list) - Items, places, and people that are only found in fictional worlds. Many different categories of these things exist, but the following are ones that have been used in puzzles.
  • Narrative charts (web · list) - A way of depicting the progression of a piece of media's plot through interactions between characters over time. Popularized by the webcomic xkcd, it has been used in multiple forms in hunt puzzles.
  • Remakes (Film and TV) (wp · list)