There are certain people out there who only need to see something once before they give you their ultimate opinion on it. It doesn’t matter if they love it or hate it, when it comes to TV, movies, and video games, some folks are one and done and always will be. While there’s only so much time in the world to revisit old favorites, people like this are probably missing out on some great stuff, and might not even be aware of the concept of an Easter Egg.
We’re not talking about painted eggs given to children by bunnies to commemorate Jesus, because that just wouldn’t make sense. In the world of entertainment, an Easter Egg is a hidden reference or joke that only die hard fans of a franchise will understand, and even fewer people will be able to notice in the first place. Easter Eggs can pop up in the form of a sight gag, an oddly turned phrase, or sometimes even a giant and significant plot detail will be spelled out for you so subliminally we’re still not sure we were even supposed to catch on to it. However, thanks to modern technology, the power of freeze frames, and creators admitting that yes, these were fun little nods to our most loyal fans, we can acknowledge these Easter Eggs for what they were. Keep reading to discover which hidden pieces of fan service were our favorites in our list of the 15 biggest Easter Eggs of the past 10 years.
15. Jurassic World Nods The Original
When Jurassic World was announced, fans of the original Jurassic Park series instantly knew it was going to be a smash hit, and the more information that became known about it continually reaffirmed that theory until it was finally released and shattered box office records as expected. One things fans didn’t know, however, and are now wondering again about the planned sequel, was whether or not any of the original characters from the first films would appear in the new series. While thus far the only actor from the original to physically return to the series has been B.D. Wong, there was a small hint that made some fans cross their fingers about seeing Jeff Goldblum in the sequel.
Goldblum played Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, and though he didn’t appear in World, his character’s name did. Apparently, sometime between the films, Malcolm wrote a book titled God Creates Dinosaurs. This book appears twice in Jurassic World. First, Claire’s assistant, Zara, is seen reading the book, and later, it appears on the desk of Lowery.
14. Star Wars: The Force Awakens Is Littered With Geeky Cameos
Take everything we said about Jurassic World and multiply it by a million to try and get an idea about how excited, or perhaps worried, fans were to hear a new Star Wars trilogy was about to be made. No doubt there were dozens of super fans with visions of Jar Jar Binks fearing the series could be horrible, but the announcement the films would all be directed and co-written by geeky super fans themselves started to appease these preconceptions. The success of the film speaks for itself in terms of whether or not fans enjoyed what their fellow geeks produced, and as an extra bonus for all the proud Star Wars faithful who waited in line for days to see it on opening night, they got to see plenty of their own in the film, as well.
It’s no surprise every actor in Hollywood wanted to be a part of what would no doubt be one of the highest grossing films of all time, but it’s still amazing the lengths they would go for a chance to do so. Daniel Craig is usually busy playing James Bond, Kevin Smith is a successful director himself, and Nigel Godrich is the only producer trusted by Radiohead, but they all took time out of their schedules to don Stormtrooper masks in The Force Awakens. It would take some sleuthing before fans figured it out, but all three of them had lines, too, speaking the usual villain grunt fare and having their star power go completely unnoticed.
13. Grand Theft Auto V Celebrates Thelma & Louise
The Grand Theft Auto video game series became a worldwide hit and cultural smash not only due to it’s fun gameplay and engaging, original storylines, but also due to the boundless humor and pop culture references every game in the series seems to excel at. While some people might think we’re talking about the soundtracks and comedic billboards scattered throughout, those who have obsessively played GTAV and happen to be fans of a film called Thelma & Louise might realize Rock Star took things in a unique direction for their latest entry into the series.
The iconic final scene of Thelma & Louise sees the title characters drive their car off the Grand Canyon rather than face a potential lifetime in prison. While that sounds like a scenario any Grand Theft Auto lead character could certainly relate to, the game took it a step further and put the women themselves in the game and let them recreate their most famous moment. If players bring a helicopter to Chiliad Mountain State Wilderness at the right date and time, they can witness a standoff between police and a vehicle driven by two women. Just like in the movie, if you watch the scene long enough, the women will eventually drive off the cliff.
12. Arrested Development Paints Fans A Picture
Even the Star Wars nerds don’t have anything on the fans of Arrested Development when it comes to maniac obsession. When it was announced the short lived Fox sitcom was returning to Netflix for an entire season of new episodes, everyone knew there would be countless call backs and references to past episodes that could keep fans busy watching the new ones over and over for years to come. Still, you could watch the whole series multiple times before catching this Easter Egg in the very first episode of season 4, “Flight of the Phoenix.”
In the episode, Michael finds himself forced to move multiple times, first due to the unrelenting Arizona heat and later because his son thinks it’s weird for his dad to live in his dorm room with him. When Michael wanders through yet another airport in defeat, he takes a slow journey across a moving platform. Pay close enough attention, and you’ll realize that behind him, there’s a mural depicting dozens of the show’s most beloved moments and plot points. There’s a stair car, a rickshaw, the Mexican church where Michael forgot Egg, and even a loose seal.
11. Saints Row 2 Catches The Bunny In The Act
Most movies, video games, and TV shows take the Easter Egg idea and get creative with it, throwing in little jokes and surprises only the biggest fans could ever find. The creators of Saints Row 2 decided to simultaneously take the idea very literally, while also getting extremely weird with it. In case you haven’t played any of them, the Saints Row games are very similar in content and style to the Grand Theft Auto series, but SR tends to opt for a sillier approach than GTA’s gritty realism. Case in point, one of the most famous Easter Eggs in video game history, which allows players to summon a giant pink Easter Bunny in the middle of the sea.
We won’t get into the specifics on how to unleash the thing because it’s too complicated for people who haven’t played the game. Basically, you travel to a bunch of hidden islands via a boat, and on the last island, it looks like the game is glitching for a second. It’s no glitch, though, it’s just one of the most unexpected surprises imaginable, as a giant purple bunny rises from the waters seconds later. The bunny doesn’t really add to the game or do anything in particular, but it gets a lot of points on the surprise factor, not to mention a bonus nod towards the absurdist comedy element of it.
10. Big Hero 6 Must Have Seen Frozen
Part of the charm many people find in Disney films is that their fantasy worlds all seem to share something in common with one another. While we realize Disney World is a theme park in Florida, it almost feels like the mythical setting where these characters all come to life, thanks to that partially shared reality. Characters rarely outright run into each other, but little background gags continue to entertain the people paying enough attention to notice. Take for instance the two Frozen characters contained within Big Hero 6, although as we just said, they don’t exactly just run into the stars of the new film; it’s actually far more subtle.
Most fans noticed the first character crossover, when the villainous Prince Hans appears in the form of a statue that quickly gets destroyed by Baymax. Less people realized that the lovable snowman Olaf also makes an appearance in the form of a statue, briefly flashing past the screen as Hiro and Baymax fly high above San Frosokyo. The kids probably cheered when they saw the Frozen villain get his comeuppance at long last, but they probably didn’t even notice Olaf was somehow surviving the futuristic heat.
9. Is Doom Guy The Terminator?
Lots of the items on this list revolve around franchises having unexpected revivals and giving the longest lasting, most loyal members of their fan bases some kind of minor nod that rewards them for their years of continued appreciation. The video game world is no different than the film and TV world in this respect, in that the latest entry into the Doom series caused plenty of fans to collectively lose their minds when it was finally released in 2016.
The Doom series is mostly a violent and graphic depiction of a marine killing Hell beast demons on Mars, but the series actually has a great deal of humor within it, too. Well, at least if you’re a fan of the violent and graphic style of humor a video like this could possibly entail, which many people are, as evidenced by the popularity of the game and others like it. In fact, people could also draw comparisons between the violence of games like Doom and that featured in films like The Terminator, and the creators of the game at least definitely see the connection, themselves. For this reason, if a Doom player should decide to kill their character by jumping into a fiery pit, the character will accept their fate with a thumbs up—just like The Terminator did in Judgment Day.
8. Star Trek And Into The Darkness Share A Starry Cameo
We’ve almost covered all the series that revived and rewarded their fans through minor gags and references only the most dedicated could ever notice or care about, but the creators of revived Star Trek series decided to go a different way with the Easter Egg they would hide in their films for only the most eagle-eyed viewers.
Now that both franchises are back in the public eye with hugely successful films, the never ending debate between Star Trek and Star Wars is only growing stronger. Perhaps throwing a confusing wrench into the battle is the fact that J.J. Abrams has directed and written major pieces of both of the sci-fi benchmarks. Abrams was involved with Star Trek first, but perhaps predicting the future, he decided to play with this longstanding war by including a very quick reference to Star Wars in his film, and the reference would return in the sequel, Into the Darkness. During massive explosions with seemingly indistinguishable debris, pause the screen and you’ll notice R2-D2 flying amongst the wreckage. Perhaps it’s just too soon into the release for fans to notice if or where R2 pops up in Beyond.
7. Black Swan Lays Out The Plot Frame By Frame
Black Swan was one of the most intense and unpredictable thrillers of the past decade, and it won plenty of awards for its stars and incredible direction and writing as a result. However, as countless videos on the Internet would later point out, if you were watching extremely carefully, as in constantly freeze framing and watching the film shot by shot, you could have seen the entire plot written out for you less than halfway through the film.
The basic plot of the film is that Natalie Portman is an incredible ballerina, but the pressure gradually gets to her head, and exacerbated by drug use, she starts to experience a severe mental breakdown. Right before things start to turn south for her, she develops a relationship with a fellow dancer played by Mila Kunis, and appears to have a wild ecstasy-fueled night with her at a dance club. It turns out the whole thing was a hallucination, but more important than the main hallucination was the subliminal messages predicting her future. Pause at the right moments and you’ll see glimpses of Portman’s character in full Black Swan regalia, which doesn’t happen again until much later in the film. You’ll also see her interacting with tons of characters who blink in and out of the scene faster than most people could notice, all hinting at her relationships with them and her grasp on reality slowly fading.
6. Rango Gets A Taste Of Fear And Loathing
Johnny Depp has been playing drugged out characters for some time now, almost to the point it seems like it’s all he can do. Even in Pirates of the Caribbean, which is at least partially a children’s film, he’s a swashbuckling alcoholic, who probably would do plenty of other drugs if he and his crew stumbled upon them. In a role that saw him cast against type, Depp was the voice of the more naïve and child-friendly Rango in the film of the same name. The film was meant for an even younger audience than his Pirates series, but any adults who were fans of Depp’s older and darker faire had a surprise in store for them as Rango haphazardly attempted his tribulations in the desert.
Several Westerns and other desert themed films are referenced throughout Rango, but our favorite is definitely the direct not to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. At one point, Rango is tossed into the wind and ends up splattered against the windshield of a passing car. We see inside the car, and it’s very clearly driven by Raoul Duke, Depp’s character in Fear and Loathing. Dr. Gonzo is passed out in the back seat, as Duke says “there’s another one!” presumably thinking Rango was another one of those pesky bats that always seemed to bother him.
5. Iron Man Built Captain America’s Shield
Now that the Marvel film universe extended to feature virtually every superhero the company ever created casually passing each other by in the street, it’s hard to remember back to just eight years ago when the first Iron Man was released and all fans could do was speculate about which characters might eventually show up. There were rumors at the time that all the films would eventually combine into one giant universe the way they ultimately did, but all fans had at the beginning was a quick and almost unnoticeable hint that Tony Stark might be up to a whole lot more than just the one crisis he handles in the first film.
The first time Pepper Potts catches Tony Stark working on his suit, it’s a complete shock to her that her eccentric billionaire boss has secretly been working on some kind of weapon without her knowledge. She didn’t even notice he was also working on an iconic piece of defense for a superhero he would go to Civil War with 10 or however many more films later. Fans noticed, however, and eventually screenshots hit the Internet in droves proving Captain America’s shield was also in Stark’s lab, long before the two ever met.
4. Deadpool Is One Giant Easter Egg
While the thrill of many of the items on the list was the fact they were revivals or late period continuations of franchises with extremely obsessive fans, Deadpool holds a unique place in pop culture entirely. The comic book superhero is specifically known for the fact he’s self-referential, constantly shattering the fourth wall and commenting on the fact he’s a comic book character in a book we’re reading. Likewise, in the film, Deadpool took plenty of time to step away from the action and address his audience, letting us know he’s fully aware not only of the fact he’s in a movie, but that lots of comic book movies are being made these days in general.
The Deadpool movie was so faithful to the comic book’s commitment to breaking the fourth wall and including Easter Eggs for its fans that we actually don’t even know where to begin when talking about it. To start at the beginning, one of the first shots of the film portrays a coffee cup with the name “Rob L.” written on it. Many people took this to be a reference to Deadpool’s original creator, Rob Liefeld, and the nods to him and his co-creators kept coming the entire film. There are also references to the original Deadpool comics, with certain scenes ripped straight from the pages of the source material, much to fans delight. Taking it one step further, there was even a bit of dialogue repeated from Deadpool’s last foray onto the big screen in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, when Weasel already knows how Deadpool is going to describe his time in the army.
3. Toy Story 3 Takes A Shine To Room 237
While we already covered how Disney exclusive films handle their slightly shared universe and make cute references to their past with each new entry, when they partner with Pixar, the creators like to get darker in their crossovers with other films. Toy Story has consistently produced some of the most heartwarming family films the world has ever seen, but the series has also long included a certain darkness rumbling just beneath the surface that shows itself countless times in the latest addition to the saga. The first Toy Story featured a carpet that looked remarkably similar to one of the rugs featured in The Shining, but it wasn’t until Toy Story 3 that Woody and Buzz might have actually stepped directly into the Overlook Hotel.
In one scene, at first it looks like a toy monkey is innocently watching security cameras over a children’s lookout to prevent humans from catching the toys come alive, but if you look closely you’ll notice the exact same intercom the manager’s office contains in The Shining. The security camera itself is labeled OVERLOOK R237, a reference to one of the most terrified rooms visited in Kubrick’s horror classic. A garbage truck later on has a similar license plate, and Woody even has an online chat with a user named Velocistar237 to make sure people at home noticed the number.
2. Breaking Bad Gets Intense, But Some Things Never Change
Walter White’s character progression from mild-mannered chemistry teacher to ruthless drug lord is part of what makes Breaking Bad highly acclaimed as perhaps the best television of the past decade, if not longer than that. However, some things in life and the world around us simply never change. Say, for example, if you decide to take your pants off and throw them into the desert, because you don’t want to smell like a meth lab. Once you took that course of action, that pair of pants would probably just rot in that desert forever. No one’s going to clean it up, and animals aren’t going to notice or care. The writers of Breaking Bad, however, did care, and the fans loved it when they noticed.
The bizarre stream of events we just described is naturally what happens to Walter White in the first episode of Breaking Bad. Years later, with Walt’s life changed in countless ways and starting to spiral completely out of control, he finds himself in the desert again for season 5’s “Ozymandias.” We won’t spoil one of the show’s wildest episodes completely, but we’ll just point out that as Walt desperately attempts to get home from the desert, keep an eye open and you’ll spot the same pair of pants he threw into the wind back in episode 1.
1. Community Took Three Years To Summon Beetlejuice
Fans of Community know the show is filled with sight gags and in-jokes only meant for the most dedicated fan, but the number one spot on our list goes to a joke that was so easy to miss it crosses over into downright Easter Egg territory. Even if you were watching Community religiously while it aired, you probably didn’t think it was particularly significant in season 1’s “Communication Studies” when Slater called Britta “Beetlejuice.” Just maybe fans could have caught on the next season when Britta herself mocked Jeff in “Cooperative Calligraphy” and said his clothes resembled a “Beetlejuice number.” But you’d have to be paying ridiculously close attention in season 3’s “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps” to notice when Annie says Chang’s playlist only has spooky NPR podcasts and “Beetlejuice music,” as soon as she says the ghostly demon’s name for the third time, a Greendale student dressed as Beetlejuice himself waltzes past the camera.
It took the writers of Community three years to plot this joke, and when the Internet pieced it together, they lost their minds. The show lasted six seasons and fans still grumble for a movie. We can only imagine how many in jokes and Easter Eggs that movie could contain.