Can you really count the ways a certain cartoon rodent has influenced our modern world?
"I don't know if it is possible to calculate the overarching influence Mickey Mouse has had on pop culture," says California State University, Fullerton professor Andi Stein, author of "Why We Love Disney: The Power of the Disney Brand."
Still, in honor of Mickey's 85th birthday—the character made his debut before paying customers in the short "Steamboat Willie" on Nov. 18, 1928—we tried, and we came up with 85 things that can be traced, directly or indirectly, back to the mouse that roared.
So, yes, Miley Cyrus will be referenced.
1. Walt Disney, mogul: Before "Steamboat Willie," the indie filmmaker was flush with ideas, but light on cash. After, he was on his way to becoming as iconic as his creation. Says Stein, "The birth of Mickey Mouse essentially launched the career of Walt Disney."
2. "Silly Symphonies": Thanks to the instant success of "Steamboat Willie," Louise Krasniewicz reported in "Walt Disney: A Biography," Disney was able to seal a deal with Columbia Pictures for more Mickey cartoons as well as a series of non-Mickey shorts. Now, he was flush with capital, too.
3. Michael Jackson's glove: In the 1929 short, "The Opry House," Mickey Mouse added white gloves to his repertoire. A half-century later, Jackson, a noted Disney fan (and still a Disneyland attraction, courtesy of "Captain EO"), became known for sporting a bejeweled white glove.
4. Fandom: Mickey Mouse devotees organized as early as 1929, and showed future generations of geeks and Twihards how to do unhinged. "People would often ask at the box office, 'Are you running a Mickey Mouse?'" authors Pat Williams and James Denney wrote in "How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life." "If the answer was no, the moviegoer would find another theater."
5. "Looney Tunes": Warner Bros. answered Mickey Mouse with its own series of shorts, starting in 1930. "Merrie Melodies," from the same studio, followed in 1931.
6. Bugs Bunny: Guess which carrot-chewing character was sprung from "Looney Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies?"
7. Carl Stalling: The composer's crazed music is synonymous with the Warner Bros. shorts, but it was the mouse who gave Disney's pal his earliest Hollywood gigs.
8. The Animated Short Oscar: By the 5th Annual Academy Awards in 1932, Oscar voters could not ignore the Mouse and his man. A new category was added, and, not surprisingly, Disney owned it, taking two of the three nominations, and winning the statuette (for the "Silly Symphonies" entry, "Flowers and Trees").
9. That Dilbert mug you're drinking out of right now: Mickey Mouse wrote the book on swag. By 1932, per Alan Bryman's "The Disneyization of Society," Mickey-branded thises and thats were on sale in 200,000 stores nationwide.
10. Wrist watches: If Mickey Mouse merchandise were a mountain (and, if you put it all together, it would be), these iconic pieces of jewelry, first sold circa 1934, would be on top.
11. That person who collects everything Disney has ever made: No criticism intended—at least you always have extra sweatshirts on hand.
12. Donald Duck: Introduced in 1934, the bird was the salt to Mickey's sweet. You can't have one without the other.
13. Scrooge McDuck: If you can't have Donald without Mickey, then you can't have Donald's miserly uncle without Donald by way of Mickey. (And, yes, it's only fair to give that Charles Dickens fellow some credit, too.)
15. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs": The 1937 Disney feature was a breakthrough for animated film, and, for the time, the ultimate byproduct of Mickey's success.
16. Protest votes: For decades now, few write-in names have given fed-up citizens more satisfaction than one Mickey Mouse.
17. Superman: "The publisher who finally bought Superman from its two young creators—for a measly $130—did so because he was interested in creating an international-transmedia property like Mickey Mouse," says Brad Ricca, author of "Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster—The Creators of Superman."
18. Everything in the Disney universe after 1950: The studio hit a rough spot in the 1940s. Fortunately for Disney's team, it had lots (and lots) of Mickey Mouse merchandise sales to fall back on until "Cinderella" hit it big in 1950.
19. "Lady and the Tramp": The 1955 film was the first animated Disney feature distributed by Disney. The mouse's reach was ever-expanding.
20. Tomorrowland, Fantasyland and All-the-Rest-Land: Starting with the original Disneyland (established 1955), "Walt Disney invented the American theme park," Margaret J. King and J.G. O'Boyle wrote for the collection, "Disneyland and Culture: Essays on the Parks and Their Influence."
21. Big Macs in Berlin: Not everyone's a fan of this development, but Mickey Mouse wrote the book on globalization, too, as the happiest place(s) on Earth in Tokyo, in Paris, in Hong Kong and elsewhere attest.
22. Imagineering: The aluminum company Alcoa came up with the wonderful phrase, but Disney adopted it for his theme-park designers and made it a thing of wonder.
23. Family pictures: If you don't have a snapshot of you and yours standing next to Mickey Mouse or one of his big-headed colleagues, then you're just not trying—or, alternately, you just can't afford Disney ticket prices, which is totally understandable, and sorry for bringing up the subject.
24. Childhood memories: Maybe it's a family picture. Maybe it's a stuffed animal. Maybe it's a ticket stub. Whatever it is, it's virtually impossible to have come of age, post-"Steamboat Willie," and not have some warm-and-fuzzy connection to Mickey and friends.
25. "The Mickey Mouse Club": The original TV series, which premiered in 1955, helped cement the idea of the American teenager, speaking of which...
26. The American Teenager: Much like Imagineering and animation, Disney didn't invent teenagers, but with "The Mickey Mouse Club," he gave them a new natural habitat: the rug in front of the TV.
27. The American Family 2.0: According to Steven Watts' "The Magic Kingdom: Walt Disney and the American Way of Life," the gentle "Mickey Mouse Club" seemed to embrace if not borrow from Dr. Benjamin Spock's progressive parenting views.
28. Annette Funicello: She was the breakout star of the original "Mickey Mouse Club," and Disney's first teen queen.
29. "Beach Party": Funicello's success begat this 1963 musical begat the teen-vacation movie.
30. Things that are "Mickey Mouse": No offense to the rodent, but you know exactly what that means, and you know it's not good (or at least not terribly advanced).
31. Mickey Mouse ear hats: As seen on the aforementioned Annette. And in the aforementioned family pictures. And in the aforementioned everywhere.
32. Coonskin caps: As seen on the Disney-produced "Davy Crockett" series of the 1950s. And on baby boomers of the 1950s. And on just every visitor to Frontierland post hence.
33. Handier-dandier Olympic torches: Disney, who was tapped to produce the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1960 Winter Olympics in California's Squaw Valley, tapped John Hench to design the torch. The artist's torch was smaller and lighter than previous versions, all the better to tote. "A number of subsequent torch designs would be greatly influenced by Hench's 1960 model," per the Walt Disney Family Museum.
34. The Sherman Brothers: The Disney-favored duo of Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman, responsible for so many hummable favorites, including "It's a Small World" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," first made their names by penning songs for Funicello.
35. Everybody's favorite movie of all-time: Because Disney made a film star of Julie Andrews with "Mary Poppins" (1964), Andrews, once denied the big-screen "My Fair Lady," was cast in the film version of "The Sound of Music" (1965).
36. Don Draper's marriage to Megan on "Mad Men": The ad man fell fast for his secretary-slash-babysitter during a trip to the Magic Kingdom in the season-four finale, "Tomorrowland."
37. HDTV: Your crystal-clear picture is the latest iteration of television advances going back to color TV, which Disney's own "Wonderful World of Color" helped push in the early 1960s.
38. "The Winnie the Pooh" theme song: The A.A. Milne books were already a delight; the Sherman brothers' music for the Disney-produced short films of the 1960s, an extra-added, tubby, little cubby of a bonus.
39. Herbie: The ad team behind the VW Beetle did a pretty good job of making the funny-looking car an iconic design; the 1968 hit Disney movie "The Love Bug" (and its subsequent, lesser sequels) brought it all home.
40. Jodie Foster: After Disney's death in 1966, his studio foundered, but the mouse house did give a future Oscar-winner one of her best early films: the original "Freaky Friday" (1976).
41. Every Tim Burton movie ever made: One of Disney's (and, in turn, Mickey's) legacies is the California Institute of the Arts (or CalArts), which began instruction in 1970. Burton was a dropout of the school, but still a product of it.
42. Johnny Depp's career: See, "Every Tim Burton movie ever made."
43. John Lasseter: The Pixar guru is a CalArts grad.
44. Every Pixar movie ever made: See, "John Lasseter."
45. Every Pixar movie ever made has been released by Disney: Just thought we'd note that, too.
46. The best "Mission: Impossible" movie ever made: "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol," directed by Brad Bird (CalArts grad and Pixar filmmaker, naturally), is the most critically acclaimed entry in the Tom Cruise franchise.
47. Modern Florida: Since Walt Disney World opened in Orlando, Florida, in 1971, the complex has literally become its own world, responsible for one out of every 50 jobs in the Sunshine State, per a 2011 Disney-commissioned report.
48. Blair Warner: Lisa Whelchel starred on the 1977 TV reboot, "The New Mickey Mouse Club," giving the teen her first major exposure, and positioning her to land the snobby main role on "The Facts of Life," which premiered in 1979. Molly Ringwald, briefly a "Facts of Life" costar, was also briefly a "New Mickey Mouse Club" member.
49. "Tron": Disney was still off-track in the 1980s, but this 1982 Jeff Bridges sci-fi computer adventure showed the studio could still break new ground.
50. "Who Framed Roger Rabbit": You don't get a wonderful movie celebrating the classic era of animation (and featuring a cameo by Mickey Mouse) without Mickey Mouse helping form the basis for the classic era of animation.
51. "Beauty and the Beast": With "The Little Mermaid" (1989) having laid the groundwork, this 1991 effort ushered in a new classic era of animation, and scored the first ever Best Picture nomination for its kind.
52. The Animated Feature Oscar: It took 10 years, and the subsequent arrival of Pixar's first two acclaimed "Toy Story" movies, but the genre that Mickey Mouse helped built got its own Academy Award category starting with the 2001 movie year.
53. Princess mania: Prolonged and constant exposure to Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, and all the rest from the 1990s on led to an explosion of pink from which many parents have yet to recover.
54. Disney Channel: Like "The Mickey Mouse Club," except even more pervasive.
55. "Saved By the Bell": Zach, Screech, Lisa Turtle, and Mr. Belding all got their sitcom starts on this 1988 Disney Channel cable series starring Magic Kingdom alum Hayley Mills.
56. "Girl Meets World": The much-anticipated (by some) sitcom update is a spinoff of the 1990s sitcom, "Boy Meets World," which was produced by Disney's TV wing. The new series is slated to premiere next year on, of course, Disney Channel.
57. The Anaheim Ducks: The NHL hockey franchise got its start as the Disney-owned Anaheim Mighty Ducks as inspired by the Disney-produced "Mighty Ducks" movies.
58. "When She Loved Me": There have been many lovely Disney songs. There have been many lovely Randy Newman songs. This Oscar-nominated tune, from "Toy Story 2," just might be the pair's loveliest.
59. "...Baby, One More Time" video: In this 1999 clip, Britney Spears, a graduate of Disney Channel's 1990s "Mickey Mouse Club" reboot, "The All-New Mickey Mouse Club," perfected the art of growing out of your mouse ears.
60. Hilary Duff: And Disney does it again. When "Lizzie McGuire" hit Disney Channel in 2001, Duff was on her way to becoming the crossover pop-and-TV Annette of the 21st century.
61. "Hannah Montana": As Duff's series wound down, Disney sought for a look-alike replacement in this blond-wigged comedy.
62. Miley Cyrus: Billy Ray Cyrus' daughter won the title role in "Hannah Montana," and sold even more bubblegum music than Duff had.
63. The all-new Miley Cyrus: And so the cycle continues. Because there was a Mickey Mouse there was a Walt Disney, because there was a Disney penchant for teen stars there was a Disney girl, because Disney girls grew up there was eventually a crossroads: Go Spears or go home. Which pretty much brings us up to the 2013 Video Music Awards.
64. "High School Musical": And so the Disney Channel machine cranked on...
65. Zac Efron: And on...
66. The Jonas Brothers: And on...
67. Demi Lovato: And on...
68. Selena Gomez: And on...
69. Shia LaBeouf: And on...
70. Radio Disney: And, since 1996, the Disney Channel machine has been accompanied by this outlet, ensuring that your afternoon commute need never be free of the latest music from Cyrus, Lovato, Gomez, Kevin, Nick and Joe, and the "High School Musical" movies. (Sadly, there are no LaBeouf songs from "Even Stevens" to play.)
71. Justin Bieber's tabloid troubles: If Disney hadn't made Gomez a star, then she might not have encountered, dated, and broken up with Bieber, and he might not be having such a crappy P.R. year.
72. "Parent Trap"-era Lindsay Lohan: It's probably one of your (and hers) happier Disney memories.
73. "The Worldwide Leader in Sports": In the mid-1990s, Disney bought ABC, which controlled ESPN, which saw its brand go ever more global through the Magic Kingdom's contacts.
74. "The O.C.": If Disneyland hadn't been built, and Anaheim hadn't been built out, this 2003-2007 soap would've had a much less sexy set, as it likely would have been among orchards and orchards of orange groves.
75. "I'm going to Disneyland": A corporate slogan, most famously uttered by Super Bowl-winning players, that doubles as a mantra for park enthusiasts.
76. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: The Florida-based Universal Orlando theme park (established 2010) owes a tip of the wand to you-know-which-anthropomorphic character.
77. Captain Jack Sparrow: The Depp creation, from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, earned the actor his first Oscar nomination, and face time in the Disneyland theme-park ride.
78. Watching "Orange Is the New Black" on Name-Your-Device Here: Next time you do that know that it was Disney, which signed a first-of-its-kind deal with Apple's iTunes in 2006, that helped break TV shows (and movies) from the TV set.
79. Cars Land: The Pixar movie from whence the California Adventure attraction arose isn't the most critically beloved, but Cars Land itself is the latest Disney theme-park hit.
80. "25 Days of Christmas": The TV-movie marathon of holiday movies and fake snow is a now-annual tradition—and a product of the Disney-owned ABC Family Channel.
81. "The Avengers": Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and S.H.I.E.L.D. are in the second-biggest-grossing movie of all-time and call Mickey Mouse boss, per Disney's 2009 acquisition of Marvel.
82. Joss Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing": Because "The Avengers" was so gigantic, its writer-director could do anything he wanted—and we got a little Shakespeare out of the deal.
83. Enhanced (or annoying) copyright laws: Depending on your views, the so-called Mickey Mouse Protection Act, which prevented properties of a certain age (including Mickey Mouse) from falling into the public domain in the early 21st century, was either a great thing for heirs of the creators, or a terrible thing for the creative common good.
84. Dec. 18, 2015: The day the new "Star Wars" sequel will be released—courtesy Disney, which acquired George Lucas' saga in a 2012 deal.
85. Something you haven't seen yet: Maybe it'll be "Frozen," from the makers of "Tangled," due out Nov. 29. Or maybe it'll be the "Star Wars" movie. But it'll be something, something that entertains or enchants like Mickey Mouse did in "Steamboat Willie." All those 85 years ago.
Watch the trailer for "Frozen," the latest by-product of Mickey Mouse's legacy: