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Parodies of the ichthys symbol

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The ichthys symbol, or "Jesus fish", typically used to proclaim an affiliation with or affinity for Christianity, is frequently a subject of satire, especially when adorning the bumpers or trunks of American automobiles. Most such ornaments are adhesive badges made of chrome-plated plastic. The following are some examples of these satires.




A Darwin fish is an ichthys with stylized legs
A Darwin fish is an ichthys with stylized legs

The Darwin fish is an ichthys symbol with "evolved" legs and feet attached and often with the word DARWIN inside (like the ??T?S or JESUS found in Christian versions). It symbolizes the theory of evolution, for which Charles Darwin laid the foundation, in contrast with Christian Creationism.

The DARWIN fish has lead to a minor arms race in bumper stickers. A design was made with a larger "Jesus fish" eating the Darwin fish. Sometimes, the larger fish contains letters that spell the word "TRUTH." A further step shows two fish, one with legs labelled "I evolved", the other without legs labelled "You didn't".


In 1983, two friends involved in the southern California atheist and freethought movements, Al Seckel and John Edwards, co-created the Darwin fish design, which was first used on a freethought leaflet for Atheists United in 1984. It was then sold by Atheists United and other freethought groups, which got free permission from Seckel and Edwards throughout the 80s, to be used on bumper stickers and t-shirts.[1] Chris Gilman, a Hollywood prop maker, manufactured the first plastic car ornaments in 1990, and licensed the design to Evolution Design of Austin, Texas, although he claims to have come up with it independently.[2]. (Evolution Design's fish faced right, while Seckel and Edwards' design faced left, like the Christian symbol.) When the emblem evolved into a million-dollar business, Evolution Design began threatening to sue distributors of look-alike and derivative products (like a Jewish "gefilte" fish). Seckel in turn sued Evolution Design for copyright infringement. Seckel did not seek royalties, but wanted Evolution Design to allow free use of the design by anyone authorized by them. Seckel and Edwards felt that in the spirit of parody and free speech, anyone should have the right to make their own parody, even of their own original design. Although Seckel was able to produce examples of the design that predated Gilman's claimed 1990 copyright date, the suit was settled when it became apparent that Seckel and Edwards had allowed the design to fall into public domain.[1]

Gefilte fish

This parody of the symbol is a fish with the word "gefilte" written in letters stylized to resemble Hebrew letters. This refers to gefilte fish, a dish typical to Jewish cuisine, and indicates that the driver of the car is Jewish.

Star Trek

The "Trek Fish" was designed by Eugene Roddenberry, the son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. His motivations for doing so were as follows:

"Over a year ago I came up with the idea of a TREK FISH while noticing all the religious fish symbols on everyones car. I notice there were a number of variations that preached "Creationism" and other that supported "Darwinism". I felt that the two were in conflict and a happy medium was needed. TREK FISH does not preach or support one over the other. To me, it simply says we can continue to discuss our origins but, as a species, should focus on the future."


The "Procreation" emblem
The "Procreation" emblem

The "procreation" emblem depicts an "Evolution" fish copulating with an ??T?S fish. Another version has a "Science" fish copulating with (or eating) a "Myth" fish.

Flying Spaghetti Monsterism

The Flying Spaghetti Monster emblem
The Flying Spaghetti Monster emblem

Advocates of the Flying Spaghetti Monster parody religion, which was created in 2005 to protest the decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to require the teaching of intelligent design, have designed their own version, with "noodly appendages" and eye stalks.

In popular culture

  • The After Eden comics have several references to the various fish.
  • On Indietits, "Yelling Bird" (a dickcissel) roots for "the diskfish", "><DICK>"; and on Questionable Content, Dora has a "<DICK><" shirt. Both are written by Jeph Jacques.
  • A Darwin fish is shown in the film The Last Supper.
  • On Wildboyz, Steve-O has a tattoo on his right arm of an ichthys with the word "Satan" inside it.
  • The film Saved! features a close-up of the gefilte fish as a sign of the one non-Christian student's revolt against her born again Christian peers.

Other fish

  • A Linux shark
  • A fish labeled "Cthulhu" or "Dagon" with tentacles on its face
  • A flying saucer labeled "Alien"
  • A "Pagan" holding a hammer and with antlers; a similar fish is labelled "Asatru", with a horned hat and battle axe
  • A Jah fish wearing dreadlocks and a Rastafarian hat
  • A vampire fish with fangs
  • A Pirate fish: fishbones and a skull with an eyepatch
  • An Angel fish with wings, halo, and a harp, and a Devil fish with a pointed tail, horns and a fork
  • A dead fish (just the bones with an X for the eye)
  • A dinosaur eating the "Jesus fish"
  • A "Stalin Fish", a fish made using the hammer and sickle of the Soviet Union
  • An "IPU Fish" with hooves and a horn, representing the Invisible Pink Unicorn
  • A vertical "SCIENCE" fish with fins, which gives the appearance of a spaceship; it also may be labelled "Ad Astra"
  • A Muslim shark
  • An exceptionally round Buddha fish. [1]
  • A phallic symbol labelled "Freud"
  • A "Jebus" fish, sometimes also spelled "Jeebus"
  • A Yoda head with the same oval shape as the fish.
  • Others labelled "Sushi", "Fishing" (with fishhooks instead of legs), "'N' Chips", "Sucker", and "Ghoti"


  1. ^ a b Sarah Lubman. "Fish fight looms over bumper ornament", Albany, NY Times-Union (via Knight-Ridder News Service), December 26, 1995.
  2. ^ Berta Delgado. "Filleting their foes through a fish", The Record (Bergen County, NJ), March 15, 1998, p. L05. (originally published in the Dallas Morning News)

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