Here is my best whack at summarizing the pop culture references made during The Prancing Pony Podcast’s sixth season. As I was looking through my data, I realized once again just how unscientific this whole process is (see my self-made rules here). The time-span the project covers has made it really difficult for me to be consistent.

First, I have to say how much I enjoyed this season, which covered Book IV of The Lord of the Rings (Frodo, Sam, and Gollum traveling to Mordor). Alan Sisto and Shawn Marchese did a spectacular job with the readings. They have both developed into skilled voice actors. I loved everything they did with Gollum, from their dramatic reading of Gollum and Sméagol arguing (episode 232) to their speculation on what his dating profile would include (episode 247).

My favorite joke that was new this season? Referring to Faramir as The Future Mr. Eowyn. But this was nowhere near the top of the list. The most frequent references were the phrases we all know and love: “word nerdery” (30 mentions) and “but we digress” (17). The season-specific joke that got the most mentions was “blackout drunk” (13). The Gaffer is currently ahead of Denethor in the running for Father of the Year (4 to 1), but I imagine he’ll lose his lead next season.

Journey won the music category with nine in-episode references. Oddly enough, while the majority of the episode titles this season were musically inspired, not one of them was from Journey. Sting (who often comes up when Frodo pulls his sword) was tied in 5th place with Billy Joel.

While I keep track of references to all the Peter Jackson films, I didn’t include them in the summary chart. They swamp the data and saying that they won is not news. The number one non-Tolkien-related movie is once again The Princess Bride. Indiana Jones and Winnie the Pooh tied for second, more evidence that anything goes on the PPP.

In my homemade Megaverse category*, Monty Python won with 40 mentions. Star Wars (11) came in second with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (10) a close third. (Monty Python was also the most frequent inspiration for episode titles this season with 5 titles.)

There weren’t very many repeated TV show references this season. Dr. Who and Firefly tied for first place.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the season: the winner of the letter references was not 131! It’s a running joke that the published excerpt of this 10,000-word letter to Milton Waldman is always being referenced, because it answers so many questions. This season, however, it’s in a four-way tie for second place. The winner is letter 211, in which Tolkien answers questions for Rhona Beare so she can share them with members of her LOTR fan club. As a fan of a fan podcast, I find this entirely appropriate.

*Megaverse is an eccentric category of my own devising. It is meant to include any popular stories that cover more than one form of media (aka, franchises), but I have failed to include Marvel, and it’s too late to add it now.

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