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I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Time to die.
Roy Batty, Blade Runner

Tannhäuser (pronounced TANN-hoi-zer) was a German poet and Minnesänger whose poetry dates from 1245 to 1265 A.D. Outside his poetry, practically nothing is known of the historical Tannhäuser. In the 1400's, legend sprung up that he discovered the underground home of the goddess Venus, then sought atonement from the Pope for having worshiped her. Richard Wagner's three-act opera Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg popularized this legend in the modern era.

The Sci-Fi film Blade Runner gave a brief Shout-Out to Tannhäuser: Roy Batty mentions the Tannhäuser Gate in his dying speech (shown above). He pronounced it "Tann-houz-er"[1] but who gives a flip. It became a meme to science fiction geeks anyway.

References to the Gate crop up repeatedly in other SF media as a Shout-Out to Blade Runner. References to the original Tannhäuser are somewhat less common.

Examples of Tannhauser Gate include:

  • In the film Soldier, Kurt Russell's character is a veteran of the Battle of Tannhauser Gate. This and several other details were meant to tie Soldier into the same 'verse as Blade Runner. (The screenwriter, David Peoples, was a co-writer of Blade Runner.)
  • A level in Homeworld, spelled "Tenhauser Gate".
  • In the classic Duke Nukem 3D total conversion The Gate, the final level of episode 3, "Red Planet Blues," is named "Tanheuser Gate" [sic].
    • In German, the "oi"-like sound can either be written "eu" or "äu". (The two dots over the "ä", in fact, originated as an abbreviation of an "e" following the letter.)
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Antimony is briefly seen reading a book named Tannhauser Gate.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny, the battleship Minerva's Wave Motion Gun is named Tannhäuser.
    • Given that the Archangel's Wave Motion Gun based on the exact same technology is named Lohengrin, this is probably a reference to Wagner. Moreso since the Archangel was built and introduced long prior to the Minerva.
    • There is also an episode named "Lohengrin Gate", which focuses on an Earth Alliance base in a mountainous valley that uses an emplaced version of the Lohengrin to guard the one entrance.
  • An episode of Babylon 5 features symbiotic slugs that preserve memories from long-dead races. One of them, just before dying, gives a speech about "The things I've seen" that is strongly reminiscent of Batty's speech.
  • In the space fantasy maps of Warhammer 40000 references to the Tannhauser Gates are stuck in.
    • Most famously the Cadian Gate, the only safe route out of the Eye of Terror and the site of the biggest and most horrendous space battles in existence.
  • Gunbuster has several pseudo-science and history shorts that detail the background of the series' universe. One of them concerns a physicist called Tanhauser who won the Nobel 5 years in a row for completely changing astrophysics. The "Tanhauser gate" appears to be what is currently known as a "wormhole's throat".
  • The Noob riffs on Batty's final speech here.
  • Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law has a duplication/clone of Phil (in the episode with the Deadly Duplicator) give a parody of Baty's speech as he's being shoved into a woodchipper.
  • In And Another Thing, Wowbagger gives the original quote while ranting about how much he wants to die. It was one of his favourite movies.
  • Used by Owen Wilson as the titular character in Drillbit Taylor.
  • In the castle Neuschwanstein in Germany (the real life Disney castle) the rooms are designed around Wagner's operas. There is an huge ornately carved doorway leading to the Tannhäuser themed room. Quite possibly the closest Real Life Tannhauser Gate in existence.
  • Venture Brothers Season 4 episode "Self-Assisted Suicide" throws a portion in during 21's Seen It All speech.
  • The song Tannhauser Gate by Fightstar is meant as a shout out to Blade Runner.
  • A comedic example, Joel McHale on The Soup used this trope to make fun of Nancy Grace's Swift Justice on the 1/28/2011 episode.
  • Darths and Droids strip 548, General Grievous' Final Speech quotes Roy Batty's, including the line about Tannhäuser Gate, more or less verbatim.
  • A Christmas issue of Deadpool ends with the villain (dressed as Santa) trying to sway Deadpool from killing him by reciting Roy Batty's final lines. Deadpool knows enough about pop culture that the attempt just makes him angry and he kills the guy anyway.

 Narration: "But a Blade Runner fan was this miserable heel / And Rutger's great speech from the end he did steal!"

  • In Recettear, one fellow is out at night looking at constellations, and "Tannhauser Gate" is one of them.
  • The various Heavy Gear franchise elements use what seems to be an elaboration of the Bladerunner version as their interstellar drive. Heavily traveled routes have stations that open the gate (which is cheaper) and larger ships have their own equipment for opening the gates (which is more flexible, and essential on exploration or military vessels).
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh ZEXAL, V uses a Spell Card called Tannhauser Gate. For bonus Sci-Fi points, it sets up the summon for the Xyz Monster Number 9: Canopy Star - Dyson Sphere.


  1. which is how it would be pronounced without the umlaut, which is how it's often (mis)spelled
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