Movies are a place to uncover creative Easter eggs; hidden messages or references–often to other pieces of pop culture–that rewards eagle-eyed fans. Below, our list of 30 Easter eggs that even die-hard fans miss.
The Shining in Toy Story Trilogy
In the world of Toy Story the toys are living, breathing creatures who have to keep that fact a secret from the humans who care for them. And while eagle-eyed adults may have caught the reference to Tim Allen’s sitcom Home Improvement, you probably missed multiple Easter egg references to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.
The first nod to The Shining appears in the first movie where the carpet in Sid’s house is identical to the carpet from the Overlook Hotel. But the references don’t stop there. The number 237 not only pops up multiple times over the trilogy, but it’s also Jack’s room number in the doomed hotel.
Pulp Fiction in Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a treasure trove of in-universe Easter eggs, with connections to comics, characters who have yet to grace the screen, and small nods to original creators. But Captain America: The Winter Soldier links Nick Fury to another character Samuel L Jackson has portrayed, Jules Winnfield.
At the end of the movie when Nick Fury stands in front of his grave, the headstone has a quote from Ezekiel 25:17. This is the same bible verse that Jules quotes in Pulp Fiction right before he shoots a man. Are they actually the same person?
Starbucks in Fight Club
You know the first rule of Fight Club is that you don’t talk about Fight Club. And we all know that the second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club. But one of the unwritten rules may be that you should never go anywhere without your Starbucks coffee.
If you watch the movie closely you’ll see that David Fincher manages to slip a Starbucks coffee mug in nearly every scene of the movie. Which means it’s really not that weird that you end up craving a grande mocha every time you pop the movie in.
THX 1138 in Swingers
In Doug Liman and Jon Favreau’s feature Swingers, two unemployed wannabe actors drift around Los Angeles in search of the swing club scene. The two friends club-hop in their cars, and it’s when they pull up to one of the clubs that you can read one character’s license plate: THX 1138.
It turns out that even in the world of Swingers, George Lucas is a big deal. THX 1138, a reference to his first film is not scattered throughout his films and those of friend Steven Spielberg, but a dozen other movies that find ways to pay homage to this breakout film.
X Marks the Spot in The Departed
Martin Scorsese’s remake of The Departed is a twisted crime tale that tells the story of a showdown between the Boston Police and the Irish mob. Both sides plan moles in the opposing organization and the result is a complete bloodbath by the end of the film. But did you know that all of the deaths are foreshadowed?
Every single character who dies over the course of the movie appears early on with an X in the frame. The only character who doesn’t ever share a screen with an X is Mark Wahlberg’s Sgt. Dignam, and he’s the only character that makes it out alive.
Oranges in The Godfather
As we saw in the case of The Departed, acclaimed directors can often be masters of imagery and foreshadowing. Once you know what to look for on screen, you’ll be able to amaze your friends at your ability to predict exactly which character will die.
While The Departed uses X’s to mark a character for death, in The Godfather trilogy Francis Ford Coppola uses oranges to show that a character is due to meet an untimely end. Whether it’s fun a fruit bowl or simply a peel in a cocktail, a character holding an orange won’t be around much longer.
Tangled in Frozen
The wonderful world of Disney is vast, expansive and connected. Some of the connections are small, like the carpet from Aladdin showing up in Beauty and the Beast or Scar being used as a rug in Hercules. However, there’s a lot of evidence that points to Frozen being close to the center of this complicated web.
Specifically, there’s one connection to another Disney film that’s right out in the open. When the castle gates are open for the first time prior to Elsa’s coronation, you can see Rapunzel and Eugene from Tangled among the first guests to make their way inside!
Fear and Loathing in Rango
In the animated movie Rango, Johnny Depp plays a chameleon who finds himself in the small outpost town of Dirt, a place that’s in rather desperate need of a new sheriff. It’s a fun, family-friendly movie that ends up sharing a connection with another Depp movie that is far less appropriate for school-aged kids.
At one point in the film, Rango ends up flying through the air and lands smack on the windshield of a convertible. But it’s not just any convertible. Both the car and passengers that Rango stumbled upon strongly resemble those in Depp’s earlier movie, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Animal House in Twilight Zone: The Movie
When you think about The Twilight Zone, toga and beer parties are not the first things that come to mind. Yet, the movie adaptation of the series and Animal House may be more connected than you realized. In one story, we briefly meet an American soldier in Vietnam, who laments to his squad, “We never should have shot Lieutenant Niedermeyer!”
Doug Neidermeyer also happens to be the name of the main antagonist in Animal House. The movie’s final scene, the overlaid text informs us of each characters’ future. Neidermeyer’s happens to read that he “went to Vietnam, where he was shot by his own men.”
Linda Blair in Scream
In the nineties, Scream set out to revitalize the horror movie franchise, which had started to grow a built stale. Wes Craven found success, and a fanbase, through successfully satirizing and subverting the standard horror movie cliches, while still paying homage to the movies that paved the way.
One way Scream paid homage? An uncredited cameo goes to Linda Blair of Exorcist fame, who made an appearance in the film as a reporter that amuses Sydney outside of the school. This deliberate move of including one of the queens of horror proved that Scream wasn’t out to destroy the memory of the movies that came before it.
The Lion King in Hercules
Despite taking place in ancient Greece, the modern Disney classic Hercules didn’t distance itself from the movies that took place further in the future. There’s a lot of proof that most Disney movies take place in a single universe, but this Easter egg may prove that they’ve also discovered time travel.
After finding fame as a hero who protected cities, saved children, and rescued damsels Hercules was posing for a sculpture. If you look close enough you’ll see that the fur he’s wearing over his shoulders is none other than Scar from The Lion King.
Star Wars in E.T.
It’s been well established that Spielberg and Lucas are good friends, this was the first movie where their characters crossed over. When E.T. released in theaters it was a pleasant surprise to see a few familiar characters from the Star Wars universe show up in the movie.
Yoda is the first character to show up in the form of a Halloween costume while Elliott and E.T. are out trick or treating, with the added bonus of Yoda’s Theme being heard during this encounter. But even more Star Wars characters can be seen scattered throughout the toys in Eliot’s room.
Star Wars in Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark
As an archeologist, the main character in Indiana Jones spends a lot of time crawling around in tombs, investigating ruins and retrieving lost artifacts. He’s constantly deciphering hieroglyphics, translating ancient runes, and puzzling out cryptic messages. But there’s one picto-puzzle that may be easier for viewers to solve than Indy.
It turns out that the Star Trek movies weren’t the first time that droids from Star Wars could be found outside of their original universe. In Raiders of the Lost Ark, R2-D2 isn’t alone but can be found alongside C-3PO and Princess Leia in two different sets of hieroglyphs.
Pulp Fiction in From Dusk till Dawn
It’s no secret that all of Quentin Tarantino’s movies are connected in some weird, obscure way. The real challenge is trying to find the connections and the overlaps between his films, even when they appear to exist in completely different universes. Like in the Tarantino-penned From Dusk till Dawn, where vampires exist and people still need their burger fix.
The characters in Dusk make a pitstop at popular Hawaiian burger joint Big Kahuna Burger to fuel up. This just happens to be the same burger place that Brett gets a burger from before Jules and Vincent drop by his place in Pulp Fiction.
Original Cast Cameos in Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Poppins first graced our screens in 1965 when she floated down to become the nanny for the Banks children, Jane and Michael. After more than forty years she’s finally making her triumphant comeback in Mary Poppins Returns, but it turns out she’s not the only one popping back in.
Karen Dotrice, the original Jane can be spotted on the street when Jack the Lamplighter is talking to Emily Mortimer’s version of Jane. She stops to ask for directions and when she says thank you, she signs off by saying “Many thanks, sincerely,” a nod to one of the film’s original songs.
Twin Pines Mall in Back to the Future
One of the lessons from Robert Zemeckis’ popular Back to the Future trilogy is that any actions in the past have a direct impact on the future. Doc cautions Marty against making any changes, as anything he does could end up wiping himself out of existence. Even as careful as he tries to be, Marty’s careless driving takes out a pine tree towards the beginning of the movie.
This may not seem like much, but it ends up changing the future in some small way. In the original 1985 the mall Marty hangs out at is called Twin Pines mall. After his reckless driving ruins the tree in the past and he returns to the future, this same mall is now called Lone Pine Mall.
R2-D2 in Star Trek: Into Darkness
Star Trek exists in our galaxy in the far future, while Star Wars happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Yet, that doesn’t stop a certain friendly droid from making an appearance in JJ Abram’s both Star Trek and it’s sequel Star Trek: Into Darkness.
It’s no secret that J.J. Abrams is a huge fan of Star Wars, but you probably weren’t expecting to see R2-D2 pop up in a different franchise. However, this is one blink and you miss it cameo as he can only be spotted by eagle eye viewers as he floats amongst the debris.
Getting trapped in a computer mainframe may seem like a programmers worst nightmare, but it’s Kevin Flynn’s reality in Tron. Caught inside his software he has to interact with the program, manipulating it in ways that benefit him and aid in his escape. And along the way, he runs into a few family faces.
Tron is a Disney property, so it’s not exactly a surprise that one of the infamous Hidden Mickey’s appears in the grid when the Solar Sailor is flying over various digital terrains. But you may be surprised to see both Pac-Man and King Kong make an appearance.
Lethal Weapon in Maverick
In Maverick, a comedic western based on the popular late 50s/early 60s TV show, Mel Gibson is Mis Bret Maverick, a card player and a con man trying to buy his way into a high-stakes poker game. A bank robbing escapade reunites Gibson with an old acquaintance.
The bank robbing old friend is none other than Danny Glover, his partner from Lethal Weapon. In their brief interaction, Maverick swears he knows him, but just can’t remember how. And don’t worry, Glover is still too old for this shit. Not to mention, the star of the Maverick TV show, James Garner, plays Gibson’s father in the film.
Star Wars in Hook
Hook is full of magical moments, exciting adventures, and even a little pixie dust. But did you know that George Lucas and Carrie Fisher make a brief cameo in this Peter Pan adaptation? The two can be spotted briefly as a couple kissing on the bridge in the film’s opening. It’s no Han and Leia, but a truly underrated Star Wars Easter Egg.
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have been friends since they were film students in California, so it’s no surprise that the friends pop up in each other’s films. But how did Carrie Fisher sneak in? Turns out she did some uncredited script doctoring for the film!
Jaws in Mallrats
Kevin Smith inter-connected movie universe is so chock full of Easter eggs that it can be difficult to narrow it down to just one. And Mallrats is certainly no exception. However, many fans missed the film’s homage to one of Kevin Smith’s all-time favorite movies, Jaws.
The two main characters in Mallrats are named T.S. Quint and Brodie. And while they may be spelled differently, there’s no mistaken that these two slackers share names with the lead characters in Spielberg’s epic shark thriller. And not to leave Hooper out, his namesake makes an appearance in another Smith movie, Chasing Amy.
My Neighbor Totoro in Toy Story 3
Pixar movies are full of Easter eggs, yet these fun moments are most often in-universe references to their other movies. Which is why it was a fun surprise in Toy Story 3 to see an iconic Hayao Miyazaki character spending time with Woody, Buzz and the gang.
Woody first meets Totoro, the title character from Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro, when he is taken home from daycare by Bonnie. He can be seen again at the end of the movie where Woody introduces all of Bonnie’s toys to his original crew.
Spielberg and E.T. in The Phantom Menace
George Lucas had to create a wide variety of aliens in order to populate the Star Wars universe. And while most of the aliens who appeared in the prequels were seen or mentioned in previous movies, there was one friendly face that seemed like he was a tad bit lost.
Three E.T. alien lookalikes can be seen in the Galactic Senate scene when Queen Amidala makes her impassioned plea to the Senate for the protection of Naboo. What makes this cameo even better? The leader of this group of Asogian, as they’re known, is named Grebleips which is Spielberg spelled backward.
Batman in Watchmen
Zack Snyder brought the dense, expansive world of Watchmen to the silver screen in 2009. With so much source material to work with it’s amazing that he found room to include some other DC world Easter eggs, but you can find them if you know where to look.
The best cameo appears in the opening credits when the original Nite Owl punches a guy who suspiciously resembles Joe Chill. Yes, the same man who murdered Bruce Wayne’s parents and set him on the path to becoming Batman. In fact, Mr. and Mrs. Wayne can be seen off to the side right next to a sign that says Gotham.
Nike in A Knight’s Tale
A Knight’s Tale is a fun medieval romp that’s not only rife with anachronism, it practically embraces them. The story that’s loosely inspired by The Canterbury Tales not only blends a period setting with modern rock anthems and sayings but you’ll also find a very familiar logo make an appearance.
When William needs new armor to joss in, he turns to a talented female blacksmith who has designed her own lightweight gear. And so everyone knows just who forged it, she signs it by engraving a Nike swoosh on the chest. Just Do It can apply to jousting as easily as basketball.
Men in Black in Wild Wild West
Once upon a time Will Smith owned July Fourth weekend with the blockbuster releases of Independence Day, Men in Black, Men in Black 2, and even Wild Wild West. However, if you look closely the connection between some of these movies goes beyond just sharing a release weekend.
When Smith’s character Jim West returns to the train to stock up on weapons, he finds nothing but an empty compartment. And if you look closely, one of the empty slots is labeled “Noisy Cricket” which is the name of the gun Smith’s character J uses in Men in Black.
Marvel History in X-Men
The X-Men had a long history of comics, movies, and even an animated tv show before they were first adapted into a live action movie in 2000. This long history meant that there were a lot of people with ties to the X-Men franchise that wanted to make an appearance in the film.
Outside of the now traditional Stan Lee cameo, the actor who voiced Beast in the 90s cartoon makes an appearance as the truck driver who Rogue hitches a ride with at the very beginning of the movie. And of course, there’s the reference Cyclops makes to their original yellow and blue classic uniforms that had audiences giggling.
The Wizard of Oz in Twister
Twister is perhaps the second most iconic movie to feature a tornado, so it seems reasonable to expect the movie to pay homage in some small way to the OG. So how does Twister pay homage to The Wizard of Oz? In more ways than one.
The first nod to The Wizard of Oz is seen when there’s a flashback to a childhood memory of Helen Hunt’s character. She had a cairn terrier puppy, same as Dorothy’s dog Toto! The second nod? Later on in the movie right before the tornado touches down and crashes into Aunt Meg’s house, she has a Judy Garland film playing on the television.
Easter Eggs in The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Rocky Horror Picture Show may, in fact, be where the term “Easter egg” first originated! While filming the movie, the cast and crew of the movie allegedly had an actual Easter egg hunt while on set but were unable to find all of the eggs before production was due to start.
Unfortunately, this meant that some of the hidden Easter eggs were still visible in certain scenes, tucked away under chairs, glanced on railings, and other unique locations. Viewers saw them and wondered at the hidden meaning behind the random Easter eggs in the movie, and thus: a legendary term was born.
Star Wars in Blade Runner
Rick Deckard and Han Solo may have lived centuries apart in completely different galaxies, but these two have more of a connection than you may think. Han Solo’s prized spaceship the Millenium Falcon appears in the worlds of both Blade Runner and Star Wars.
Production needed more buildings to appear in the background skyline of Ridley Scott’s futuristic noir world and grabbed a Millenium Falcon model that was lying around. A coat of paint later and the ship blended right in. So despite the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we still have Deckard alive and well in Blade Runner 2020.