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Like it or not, Metallica is the biggest metal band of all time. It has gone from a niche act to an ultra-sized, all-consuming juggernaut — an inescapable, irrepressible rock entity with the ability to draw massive crowds across the globe or pleasantly do whatever the fuck it wants. Only the likes of Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and Guns N' Roses could conceivably challenge Metallica's throne as the biggest name in metal. But even then, for all those bands' influence, something just makes James Hetfield and co. tower over them. No other metal band has stayed so prominent within the broader culture — or become a worthy shorthand for heavy music — the way Metallica has.
To get an idea of Metallica's cultural influence as the band turns 30 years old this week, let's move past the standard tools used to measure success in the music biz (namely, record sales, ticket sales, and awards won) and instead consider how often Metallica has appeared or been referenced in general pop culture. Along with getting its own edition of “Guitar Hero” and being name-dropped on Murder, She Wrote, here are six curious examples of Metallica's tremendous influence on pop culture outside of heavy music.