It’s become somewhat of an age-old tradition for acclaimed directors to leave secret clues and references throughout their films. This practice spans across all genres, and some big name’s such as Quentin Tarantino, Alfred Hitchcock, and Martin Scorsese are known for being experts of the craft.
Whether it’s with hidden cameos, symbolic references or encrypted messages, movie makers have found the most ingenious way’s to interact with their audiences. Here is our collection of some of the most creative Easter eggs found throughout Hollywood’s history. You might even need to re-watch some of these movies to see for yourself.
Arcade Game Reference in Tron
This 1982 science fiction film starring Jeff Bridges has quite a few references and Easter eggs hidden within the movie. A favorite being the cameo of a certain popular 80’s arcade game.
Whilst stuck inside his software’s mainframe, protagonist, Kevin Flynn must manipulate the program from inside in order to strategize his escape. In a scene where we see Flynn analyzing a computerized diagram, you might notice a hungry Pac-Man chomping his way through the graph.
Morse Code in King Kong
This 2005 remake of the classic 1933 film surprised fans by starring Jack Black in one of his more serious roles. But the movie was not without its inside jokes. As the ship approached Skull Island at the start of the movie, the crew receives a message via morse code.
The code supposedly announced a warrant for the arrest of Jack Black’s character, Carl Denham. In reality, director Peter Jackson left a little Easter egg for the cast. What the code actually translates to is “show me the monkey!”
Oranges in The Godfather
This classic 1972 crime film is an exciting trilogy that expertly portrays the life and crimes of an Italian American mobster. Its success kick-started a whole new genre of film in Hollywood. The movie does have its fair share of violence and many of the characters do end up losing their life at some point in the movie.
This does not happen without warning though. What many viewers might not have realized was that the movie foreshadowed each death with oranges appearing on the scene. This could be in the form of a fruit bowl or a lone orange peel in a martini.
Coffee Cups in Fight Club
We might have to break the first rule of fight club when we talk about this next clever Easter egg. As a way to poke fun of the growing popularity of the Starbucks coffee empire, Director David Fincher made his 1999 masterpiece into a full-on game of ‘Where’s Waldo.’ After the release of Fight Club,Fincher revealed that viewers will find a Starbucks coffee cup in almost every single scene in the movie.
When revealing this Fincher explained that Starbucks themselves knew about the cups and were ready and willing to poke fun of themselves. He said, “I don’t have anything personal against Starbucks. I think they’re trying to do a good thing. They’re just too successful.” Fans have committed to spotting every cup included in the movie and there is even a Tumblr created for that sole purpose.
Number 237 in Toy Story
It’s hard to imagine how an animated kids movie could include references to an 80’s horror film, but somehow director Lee Unkrich managed to do just that. Released in 2010, the third Toy Story movie includes several nods to Stephen King’s spooky classic, The Shining. First off, the number 237 appears several times throughout the animated film. This is the hotel room number where the creepiest of scenes were held in King’s movie.
There is also a security camera in Toy Story labeled “Overlook” which is the name of the hotel in The Shining. The first Toy Story also includes a hidden reference to the ’80s classic. In one scene, you can see the toys walking on a patterned carpet, which is the same carpet used in the Overlook hotel in The Shining.
X Shapes in The Departed
Although in most movies an X marks the spot for contested buried treasure, this is far from the case for the 2006 film, The Departed.Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson star in this high stakes movie about an undercover cop and an Irish gang in South Boston. As you can imagine, there are shoot-offs and violent scenes involved throughout the film.
For those who need a warning before the bloodshed, director Martin Scorsese has got your back. The director made sure to include some form of an X shape on the scene to foreshadow each characters impending death. This tactic is a reference to Howard Hawks, 1932 Scarface,which did the same thing 74 years previous.
A Familiar Scripture in Captain America
Marvel loves to include Easter eggs, most of which are in reference to other Marvel movies but sometimes they also pay homage to classic films outside their universe. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, when we are made to believe that Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, had died, the inscription on his tombstone might sound familiar.
His tombstone included the following quote:” The path of the righteous man: Ezekiel 25:17.” This is the bible verse that Samuel L.Jackson’s character, Jules Winnfield, famously recited in the 1994 film Pulp Fiction.
Johnny Depp Throwback in Rango
In the 2011 animated movie about a chameleon named Rango, voiced by Johny Depp, the little lizard often finds himself in a bit of trouble. In one scene, Rango gets tossed around between vehicles on a desert highway, eventually making his way to a front windshield of one recognizable convertible.
The driver of the convertible is sporting big yellow sunglasses, a red floral Hawaiian shirt and has a cigarette dangling out the side of his mouth. This is an obvious nod to Johnny Depp’s role in the 1998 classic, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Our Favorite Bookworm in The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Disney has its fair share of cross movie cameos but some are more subtle than most. In one scene during Disney’s Hunback of Notre Dame, when Quasimodo is singing his song, “Out There,” you might notice a familiar face amongst the townspeople.
Strolling along the cobblestone streets, with her head in a book, is Belle from Beauty and the Beast. It actually makes sense if you think about it, considering both movies are famously set in France. In the same scene, you can also spot the flying carpet from Aladdin.
Original Cast Members in Mary Poppins Returns
5 years after the original Mary Poppins captured audiences hearts, Disney has released its sequel, and not without its nostalgic references, paying respect to the 1964 classic. Dick Van Dyke, played two roles in the original; Bert the charming chimney sweeper and Mr. Dawes Sr. the elderly banker, of which the actor is barely recognizable beneath the old man makeup.
Van Dyke returned to the sequel, this time starring as Mr. Dawes Sr’s son, Mr. Dawes Jr. Given the fact that the star is now in his 90’s, Dawes Jr. looks identical to the older character, and this time needs much less makeup to do so. The original Jane Banks, played by Karen Dotrice also makes a surprise appearance. The cameo is brief and hard to spot, offering a subtle nod to the many fans of the original film.
Seeing Red in The Sixth Sense
Director, M. Night Shyamalan is a big fan of symbolism. So it is no surprise that he includes this in one of his most popular movies, The Sixth Sense.The movie, starring Bruce Willis as Malcome Crowe, tells the story of a child psychologist who takes a special interest in a young boy named Cole Sear, played by Haley Joel Osment.
The movie follows Cole troubling ability to see and communicate with the spirits of the undead. In this Shyamalan utilized the color red to symbolize the real world and the supernatural world crossing paths. Every time the viewer sees the color red in the scene, this is a signal that an out of this world spirit is present.
ET in Star Wars Episode 1
Ever wonder what happened to E.T. after he returns to his homeworld in the 1982 film? Well, it seems that director George Lucas had an answer to that question. Referred to in the Star Wars universe as Asogians, the friendly alien, or at least his people make a brief cameo in The Phantom Menaceand can be seen voicing their opinion as members of an intergalactic Senate.
To make this crossover even more meta, if you recall, the 1982 movie also shows the young protagonist, Elliot playing with Star Wars toys and there is even a kid dressed up as Yoda for Halloween.
Wolverine in The Greatest Showman
The director of “Wolverine,” James Mangold also returned to Hugh Jackman’s side as an executive producer for the 2017 musical, The Greatest Showman.Jackman, who is famous for his role playing the beastly mutant also scored the lead role in the musical. But the two did not leave Wolverine in the dust.
A subtle ode to the long-clawed superhuman is included in the movie’s credit scene. When Mangold’s name appears on the screen, the aesthetic white border includes what looks the be the arms of Wolverine, with his arms crossed and his claws out.
Skulls in Beauty and the Beast
This 1991 Disney classic included a hidden Easter egg of its own that many may have missed. Near the end of the movie, when the Beast’s rival, Gaston falls off the castle walls, animators originally drew in tiny skulls in his eyes.
The skulls only appeared for a few frames, making them easy to miss. Disney claims this was to confirm Gaston’s faith following his fall. The frames were altered for the VHS release but left in for the DVD release.
Pine Trees in Back to the Future
This clever Easter egg was an easy one to miss. If you recall, when the protagonist, Marty travels back in time to save the inventor of the time machine, Doc Brown, he ends up in a ranch called Twin Pines Ranch. Upon leaving hastily leaving the ranch Marty knocks over one of two pine trees that are standing near the entrance.
When Marty returns to present day, his local mall, which we saw at the beginning of the movie was once named Twin Pines Mall is now called Lone Pine Mall. This was a major clue to how Marty would alter the future that many viewers might have missed.
Superhero Rivalry in I Am Legend
In this 2007 post-apocalyptic film, scientist Robert Neville, played by Will Smith is depicted as the lone survivor following a plague that turned all other humans into zombie-like creatures. Neville spends the majority of the movie walking around New York City in search of other possible survivors. In one scene set in Times Square, we see a large movie billboard promoting a Batman and Superman movie.
This was nine years before the actual Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice movie released in 2016. Apparently, producer and writer of I Am Legend, Akiva Goldsman wrote an early draft of a Batman and Superman movie. The movie never got made. Regardless, Goldsman and director France Lawrence wanted to include the logo to depict what movies might have been released when the plague took over the planet.
A Classic Ford in Halloween
This Easter egg is subtle. In the 1960 movie Psycho, secretary Marion Crane, portrayed by the original scream queen, Janet Leight is seen driving a 1957 Ford Custom 300 Fordor Sedan.
41 years later, in the 1998 movie Halloween: H20,Janet Leigh returns, starring opposite her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis. In the movie she is seen getting into the same exact model car.
Literal Easter Eggs in The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The cast of this 1975 horror comedy musical had an actual Easter egg hunt on set during filming. Apparently, they forgot to find at least three of these eggs. They can be found hidden in random locations throughout the movie.
Some believe that this is the actual origin of the movie term “Easter eggs.” Three of the eggs have been found under Franks throne, in place of a lightbulb in the main room, and one in the elevator to the lab.
Brand Name Armour in A Knights Tale
Set in Medieval times, this 2001 film is full of modern pop culture references. In the movie, The Protagonist, William Thatcher, portrayed by Heath Ledger, enlists the aid of a female blacksmith named Kate. Kate designs a lighter, more mobile armor for William who is set to compete in a high stake jousting tournament.
As a way to tag her work, Kate etches her “mark of trade” on the armor, which undeniably resembles the famous swoosh trademarked by Nike. Now that is some sly product placement.
A Lone Leaf in Inglorious Bastards
Quentin Tarantino’s groundbreaking film tells an alternative story of World War 2 Germany. With quite possibly the most epic ending in movie history and an all-star cast including Brad Pitt and Christoph Waltz, the film still stands as Tarantino’s highest grossing film. As we already know, Tarantino loves adding subtle Easter eggs in all his films.
This one is no exception. In one scene, a yellow leaf casually falls onto Gedeon Burkhard’s character, Cpl. Wilhelm Wicki, an Austrian-born, Jewish soldier. The leaf falls onto the left side of his chest, imitating the yellow Star of David that Jewish people were forced to wear during the war.
An Evil Chalk Drawing in Insidious
James Wan is most known for directing the twisted horror franchise, Saw, of which there are already 8 movies released. Wan also directed many other well-known films, including The Conjuring, and Aquaman. In another of his well-known horror films, Insidious, Wan left a small reference to the creepy puppet, Jigsaw, which he created for the Saw movies.
In one seen you can spot a doodle of the puppet on a blackboard standing behind Patrick Wilson’s character, Josh Lambert. Makeup artist, Leslie Borchard’s name is also scribbled above the drawing.
Disney Ride in Finding Dory
Anyone who has been to Disneyland lately probably had the chance to ride the Finding Nemo Submarine ride which opened in the summer of 2007. What you might not have known is that the same ride, previously named Submarine Voyage, opened in Disney’s Tomorrowland years earlier in 1959.
In one scene in the Finding Nemo sequel, Finding Dory, there is a Seawater Supply line with the code TL59 printed on it, in direct reference to this fact (Tomorrowland 1959.)
Goldblum Shoutout in Jurassic World
When the 2015 sequel, starring Chris Pratt was first released, many expected the film to reference the original 1993 classic, Jurassic Park. Fan’s anxiously waited for a surprise cameo from star Jeff Goldblum. Although he was not physically present in the film, director Colin Trevorrow did include a book in a few shots.
The book titled God Creates Dinosaurs, was written by Ian Malcolm, which is the character that Goldblum played in the original movie. As a bonus Easter egg: Although Goldblum doesn’t make an appearance, there is a very brief cameo by Jimmy Buffet. Naturally, he is holding a lemon margarita in each hand as he flees from the dinosaur attack.
A Well Known Boulder in Star Wars
One of the most iconic scenes in the Indiana Jones franchise, from Raiders of the Lost Ark, is when Jones must escape a giant boulder trap, set to roll down any intruders. Harrison Ford, who famously plays Indiana Jones, is also well known for his role in the Star Wars universe, Han Solo.
One sneaky Easter egg that sound designer, David Acord, included in the 2015 movie, The Force Awakens, is not one to be seen but rather heard. In the scene on the Millennium Falcon when Han Solo and Chewbacca are running from an escaped rathtar, Accord deliberately reused the sound of the boulder roll from the Indiana Jones movie.
A Reoccurring Guest in Melissa McCarthy Movies
You might recognize Ben Falcone’s reoccurring cameo’s in Melissa McCarthy movies. The comedian and filmmaker made an appearance in Bridesmaids, Identity Theif, The Heat, Spy, and Life of the Party.What viewers might not realize is that Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone have been married since 2005 and have two kids together.
Knowing this makes his brief scenes alongside his wife that much more hilarious. Falcone also made a directorial debut in 2014 with the movie Tammy. He also co-wrote and produced The Boss and Life of the Party.McCarthy starred in all three of these movies.
Frank Abagnale in Catch Me if You Can
Catch Me if You Can, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks tells the true story of a teenage con artist who racked up more than $2 million worth of checks by impersonating high money making professionals.
The movie is based on the real life of Frank Abagnale Jr who successfully pretended to be a Pan Am pilot, doctor and a legal prosecutor all before his 19th birthday. Abagnale himself actually makes a brief cameo in the movie. He appears on the scene as a police officer escorting DiCaprio towards the cop car upon getting arrested in France.
Evidence Locker in the Bride of Chucky
In the 1998 sequel to the original 1988 horror film, Child’s Play, director Ronny Yu included a reference to a collection of horror classics. In one scene, set in a police evidence room, the camera pans through the lockers where viewers can spot a variety of props used by iconic serial killers.
The references include Michael Myers’s mask, Freddy Krueger’s glove, Jason’s hockey mask, and Leatherface’s chainsaw. It seems Yu wanted to pay homage to some of this biggest inspirations.
A Friendly Monster in Brave
Here’s another fun Pixar Easter egg. In the 2012 animated fantasy film, Brave, Princess Merida finds herself deep within the forest, at the cottage of an elderly witch. The witch presents herself as a simple woodcarver and her home is filled with a variety of tools and carvings.
One block of wood that sits on the floor of the hut has a familiar fun-loving monster carved into it, Sully from Pixar’s Monsters Inc. This particular Easter egg also helped motivate a theory that the witch is actually the grown-up version of Sully’s friend, Boo from Monsters Inc.
Captain Kangaroo in Die Hard
Here’s yet another nod to the 1994 cult classic, Pulp Fiction. Bruce Willis is well known for starring in the high action Die Hard movies. He also stars alongside Samuel L. Jackson as Butch Coolidge in Pulp Fiction.
In the movie, Die Hard With a Vengeance, Bruce Willis’s character, John McClane is asked by Samuel L Jackson what he’s been doing with this time. He responds, “smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo.” This is a reference to a line from the song, “Flowers on the Wall,” which Willis sings along to in his car after one of his most epic scenes in Pulp Fiction.
Beatlemania in Monty Python’s Life of Brian
Amongst Monty Python’s dedicated fans, is one more than recognizable man, The Beatles lead guitarist, George Harrison. As a huge fan of the comedy empire, Harrison even made a surprise appearance in the 1979 film, Life of Brian.
The cameo is quick and easy to miss, which makes it that much more enticing to rewatch and find it for yourself. The Beatles star not only made an appearance, but he also helped finance the film. Harrison remortgaged his house in order to contribute $5m to its development.
See You Next Wednesday
Film director John Landis, best known for comedies such as National Lampoon’s Animal House, The Blues Brother, and Coming to Americahas a recurring Easter egg of his own.
In most of his films, you will find the phrase “See you next Wednesday” in some shape or form. This could be written on a billboard or said casually by an extra. The origin of the phrase is from the 1968 movie, 2001: a Space Odyssey.
Oldsmobile in Spider-Man
We already learned that directors like to have trademarks to claim their films. For Sam Raimi, its the inclusion of a 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88. The car earned the nickname “the classic.” It appeared in just about every one of the director’s movies.
The car even appeared in the short films that Raimi and his friends would make together growing up. You can see the car in movies such as The Evil Dead, Crimewave, Darkman, A Simple Plan, The Gift, and Spiderman,to name a few.
Wizard of Oz in Twister
When you think of Midwest tornadoes, one of the first things that come to mind is the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz. So it only makes sense that the 1996 movie Twister, about a destructive tornado, would pay homage to that. The first reference to the classic occurs when Helen Hunt’s character, Dr. Jo Harding, has a flashback to her childhood.
In the flashback, she is seen with a small terrier puppy, the same breed as Dorothy’s dog Toto. The second reference happens when the tornado crashes into Aunt Meg’s house. Meg, portrayed by Lois Smith, was watching a Judy Garland film playing on T.V at the time.
Star Wars in Raiders of the Lost Ark
There are a few crossovers between the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies. In one scene when Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford is removing a stone lid of an Egyptian sarcophagus, viewers might notice a wall of hieroglyphics in the background.
One of these ancient markings, carved into a pillar near Jones are hieroglyphic versions of Star Wars characters C-3PO and R2-D2. In the same scene, after Jone’s lifts the infamous Ark out of its case, the wall behind them includes a large hieroglyph of Princess Leia uploading the plans to the Death Star into R2-D2, with C-3P0 standing behind them.
Mickey and the Gang in The Little Mermaid
This is another tough one to spot. In Disney’s 1989 film, The Little Mermaid, when King Triton arrives for his daughter’s concert, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy can be spotted sitting in the audience.
It became a tradition through the years for Disney to include Mickey somewhere in each animated movie, but this is probably the least obvious of the cameos.
Cameos in Alfred Hitchcock Films
The “master of suspense” Alfred Hitchcock directed over 50 films throughout his career. The legendary director made an appearance in 39 of those films. These cameos were usually discrete and of often hard to spot. Most times, he would appear briefly as an extra and never said a word to draw attention his way.
Spotting these cameos became such a priority for enthusiastic fans that Hitchcock made sure to include his scene within the first 15 minutes of each movie so that viewers could concentrate on the plot.
The Simpsons in Godzilla
The 1954 original version of Godzilla has been remade time and time again. Each remake has its own look and appeal based on the vision of each director that took on the challenge. In the 1998 remake, Roland Emmerich included a hard to spot Easter egg as a nod to his love for the long-running series The Simpsons.
In the scene where Dr. Tatopoulos, played by Matthew Broderick gets into an NYC cab in an effort to flee the scene, you might notice that the driver’s ID plate that he throws out the window reads “Armin Tamzarian.” This is the real name of Principal Skinner in The Simpsons.
Quentin Tarantino in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion
Legendary filmmaker, Quentin Tarantino is known for cross-referencing his movies, offering insight that the storylines occur in the same universe. However, that’s not exactly the case for this light-hearted 1997 comedy. So you can imagine how surprised viewers were to see a bag from Big Kahuna burger as well as an advertisement for Red Apple cigarettes, which are both products created for Tarantino’s movie, Pulp Fiction.
So what’s the deal with this Easter egg? Turns out that it was all due to an inside joke due to the fact that Tarantino’s long term girlfriend, Mira Sorvino had a starring role in the movie. Production designer, Mayne Berke also added that the joke aside, including these products, saved the production team some time in getting clearances on trademarked products.