Whenever you’re watching a film and you happen to catch a reference to another film, it’s like finding a treasure, especially when it’s a completely unrelated movie. As the movie industry grows and film and television becomes more accessible, meta references become more frequent. It’s a new language writers and filmmakers can use and the connections are powerful when they land. The internet makes things easy, of course, but catching and understanding a reference in real time is an incredibly rewarding experience. It’s like you’re a part of a secret club and all those hours you’ve spent in front of a screen burning a hole in your brain has finally paid off. I told you, mom! Unfortunately, not every reference can be caught during a first viewing. Not every connection will be made. That’s what we’re here for. We want to connect some of the dots for you, so the next time you’re talking film with a friend, you can say, “Hey, did you know that Silence of the Lambs was connected to Dragon Ball Z?” It’s not, by the way. But how awesome would that be? Maybe they are connected. Really, we just wanted to set the table.
If you’ve ever watched a Quentin Tarantino movie, you’ve noticed that many of them appear to be connected. Plenty of people have written and spoken about the Tarantinoverse. We have recurring characters, universal references, and even characters who are relatives to other characters. Well, this is the type of thing that we’re interested in. We want to try and avoid connections between films that had the same directors as much as possible because that would be too easy. We have included a couple of the cooler ones, but we’re drawn more to films that speak to each other or exist in the same universe when they appear to be unrelated on the surface—something like Star Wars and E.T. The Extraterrestrial—which we didn’t include because most people would have probably known about this by now. To us, that says that E.T. exists in the Star Wars universe, even though the costume of Yoda kind of eliminates that possibility. Whatever. You get the damn picture. Here are 15 Pairs of Films You Never Knew Were Connected.
15. Predator II And Alien
Obviously, these two are linked by a universe these days. Everyone knows that. But we want to go back to the first time they were linked. If you’re a big fan of the Predator franchise, you’ve probably have long known about this connection. Otherwise, it might shock you to learn that the worlds of Alien and Predator were linked long before the film Alien vs. Predator was a thing. Technically, it started with the comic. But, as it relates to film, it first became a reality in Predator II when Danny Glover boards the mother ship at the end of the film. There, he finds a trophy case where the hunter Predators hold keepsakes from their worthiest hunts. With the human skull as the exception, the most recognizable skull on the trophy wall is from a Xenomorph, the antagonist in Alien. This was a subtle nod to the comics, but it also worked to link the universes cinematically. If we’re being snobs, however, these worlds can’t really be connected because of two actors. Both Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton played different characters in the two franchises.
14. Captain America And Indiana Jones: Raiders Of The Lost Ark
There’s some debate about this one, if only because the reference could be speaking about either the fictional Hitler from Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark or the real Hitler. Still, since Joe Johnston worked on both films, we’re inclined to believe that the connection between the films was intentional. In Captain America, The Red Skull says, “the Fuhrer is too busy digging for trinkets in the desert.” While Hitler did send expeditions to track down mystical artifacts in real life, this is clearly referencing Raiders, which details Hitler’s quest for the Ark of the Covenant. Sadly, this means that the Red Skull is unaware that all his Nazi pals are about to have their faces melted off.
13. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory And Batman
Even though we are consciously trying to avoid these types of connections between films directed by the same person, the link between the Tim Burton films, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Batman is just too good to ignore. There are a few references in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to other films, like A Nightmare Before Christmas, Ed Wood, Beetlejuice, and pretty much every other Burton film. But the Batman bit is the best. Charlie’s dad, you see, makes toothpaste that is called Smilex. Now, we’ve heard of the company/product Smilex before. We first heard of it in Batman. This was the poisonous toxin that the Joker uses. Do they both come from the same source? Yes. Hopefully.
12. Wayne’s World 2 And Terminator 2
Call it a simple meta joke all you want, but when Wayne (Mike Myers) was pulled over a cop in Wayne’s World II, and that cop turned out to be the T-1000 looking for John Connor, it all but confirmed that these two films exist in the same universe. This isn’t the only time that T-1000 made an appearance in a film outside of the Terminator franchise. In The Last Action Hero, we see both the T-1000 and Catherine Trammel from Basic Instinct. Now, since this was in the film world in The Last Action Hero, maybe Wayne’s World exists there too. It’s confusing. We’ll give you that.
11. Machete And Spy Kids
Yikes! Another pair of films directed by the same guy. But come on, most people forget that Robert Rodriguez directed Spy Kids anyway. We all know Machete. The one where Danny Trejo was the lovable machete-wielding hero. But long before Machete ever made it to the big screen and became a topic of conversation among movie buffs, Rodriguez put him in a small part in Spy Kids. Yes, you read that right. The kids’ uncle is the same character as the one in the Machete franchise. It seems weird, yeah, we agree, but it’s also kind of beautiful.
10. Ridley Scott Films And Soldier
When the special features for Prometheus came out, a long-held theory was all but confirmed. The Blade Runner and Alien universes were connected. In fact, many people believed that Prometheus was even going to be the film that linked these worlds together. That came true as well. In the special features of Prometheus, we learned that the Tyrell corporation and replicants from Blade Runner were essentially a precursor to the androids of Weyland Industries from Alien and Prometheus. The connections go even further than that. In the film Soldier, Kurt Russell‘s character was said to be a veteran of the Tannhauser Gate battle, a battle from Blade Runner‘s universe. A Spinner vehicle from the latter film is also visible in some wreckage in Soldier. In short, they’re all linked and they’re all awesome.
9. Commando, Die Hard 2, And Predator
You’re right. Three films does not make a pair, but shush up real quick. These three films (and some others) are all linked because in each of these films, the fictional country of Val Verde exists. Said to be in South America, somewhere near Chile, Paraguay, or Brazil, Val Verde first shows up in Commando. It’s here that Arnold Schwarzenegger is sent to assassinate the leader. In Predator, even though it was later said to take place in Guatemala, the events were said to take place in Val Verde as well. Writer Steven E. de Souza, the man who created this country, said that Predator and other films used that location to avoid diplomatic issues. This also means that Arnold has been to Val Verde twice. Well, Die Hard 2 chose this route as well, not long after. The big bad in that film though was that General Ramon Esperanza was being transported from Val Verde.
8. Transformers And Friday The 13th (2009)
Since Michael Bay had a hand in both Transformers and Friday the 13th (2009), we’re not too shocked that these two films might be connected. As we have mentioned before, the use of repeating characters is something that plenty of filmmakers use, but these films are so different it might be worthwhile to bring up. There’s also a bit of a debate whether these are even the same characters, so we’ll just present the facts and go from there. Both films star Travis Van Winkle as Trent the douchebag jock. Are they the same guy? After he showed up in Transformers, it’s possible that Trent moved closer to his family’s summer cabin. He was rich and privileged in both, so there’s a chance it happened. Or is Trent just a douchey name?
7. Now You See Me And Zombieland
Sure, it’s merely a meta reference, but let’s just use our damn imaginations. In Now You See Me, when Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson‘s characters are first meeting, Harrelson’s character says, “I’m a bit of a control freak.” To this, Eisenberg’s character asks, “Have we met before?” This is the filmmakers way of high-fiving all the fans who are in the know, but it also confirms that Zombieland took place in the same universe as Now You See Me. If you’re wondering, well, how the hell does that make sense if everyone was turned into zombies in the former film? To that we say, don’t ask stupid questions. It’s a movie. None of this is real.
6. Maverick And Lethal Weapon
Ahh! We might as well just get this one over with right here as well. Like the previous connection, Maverick and Lethal Weapon apparently take part in the same universe too. If that seems impossible because of the time periods, then it probably is. Maybe they went back in time or maybe Lethal Weapon was a dream. We can’t explain it. All we can do is tell you that the only way Maverick (Mel Gibson) and the robber (Danny Glover) could recognize each other in Maverick is if Lethal Weapon existed in the same universe. Oh yeah, we forgot to set up the scene. So, Maverick takes place in the Old West and Gibson’s character is in the bank when the bank gets robbed. One of the robbers turns out to be Glover and they recognize each other. Eventually, they shake it off, believing it to be impossible and part ways. As Glover leaves, he says his classic Lethal Weapon line, “I’m too old for this sh*t.”
5. Evil Dead, Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday And A Nightmare On Elm Street
In perhaps the most blatant connection on this list, the Necronomicon is the book that links the film Evil Dead with Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. While this book, an H.P. Lovecraft invention, shows up in many different films and television shows, it’s these two films that highlight the same book most prominently. Obviously, the Necronomicon is the main book in both Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness. In Jason Goes to Hell, we see not only the Necronomicon from the Evil Dead franchise but the Skull Dagger as well. This blade is what was used to kill Jason, summoning the demons to drag him into the earth leaving only his mask behind. It’s here, at the end of the film, that we get the first Nightmare on Elm Street connection as Freddy’s arm comes out of the dirt and drags Jason’s mask away. We already knew Evil Dead and A Nightmare on Elm Street were connected because of the appearance of Freddy’s claws in Evil Dead II, but this solidifies it even more.
4. Collateral And Transporter
Maybe you won’t buy into this one because really, we have nothing to go off except for a gut felling, but we can assure you that we’re not alone on this one. There are others who believe that Jason Statham‘s character in Collateral, the guy that makes a drop with Tom Cruise, is the very same character in The Transporter. We know that Frank Martin (Statham) is a professional and makes drops for people. We know he’s British. And we know he wears black suits. Common now; what other evidence do you need? We think this case is closed.
3. 50 First Dates And Tommy Boy
You might think that 50 First Dates and Tommy Boy share the same universe because Dan Aykroyd is in both, but oh boy, you would be wrong…so goddamn wrong. Close though. Really not so wrong in the end. So in 50 First Dates, we go to Callahan Institute, the clinic where Drew Barrymore‘s character healed up after her accident. There, we meet the doctor played by Dan Aykroyd. It’s him that explains that the clinic is funded “out of Sandusky, Ohio, by T.B. Callahan, the automotive components tycoon and philanthropist.” Now think back to Tommy Boy. In that film, Tommy was trying to save his company, Callahan Auto in Sandusky, Ohio. The T.B. Callahan that is mentioned by Aykroyd is none other than Tommy Boy Callahan. Technically, we cheated on this one since Peter Segal directed both these films. Oh well.
2. Back To The Future And Django Unchained
There’s a really strong chance that A Million Ways to Die in the West will have zero cultural impact, but we want to change that. If nothing else, the strange Seth MacFarlane film, A Million Ways to Die in the West, is the meeting point between Django Unchained and Back to the Future and that’s worth preserving. Since, in A Million Ways…, we see Doc Brown in the Wild West fixing the DeLorean, we know that BTTF exists there. This is referencing the underrated BTTF 3 to be specific. Then, at the end of the MacFarlane film, we see Django step up and give the shooting game a shot. Could it be that all three films take place at the same time in roughly the same area? Apparently. Though purists won’t be happy about it, we love it.
1. The Matrix And Star Wars
In Attack of the Clones, Anakin and Obi Wan visit the Outlander Club on Coruscant. In this scene, a man stands next to Obi Wan and tries to sell him death sticks. This man is played by actor Matt Doran who also played Mouse, a crew member on the Nebuchadnezzar in The Matrix. One of the things that Mouse is most famous for in The Matrix is designing the Red Dress Programme, the program set up to get Neo’s attention and all newcomers for that matter, and highlight the perils of being distracted. This association is important because, in that same bar scene on Coruscant in Star Wars, there’s a woman trying to get Anakin’s attention. This woman is played by Fiona Johnson, the same actress who played the woman in the red dress in the Matrix. So the question is, does Star Wars all exist in the Matrix or is this just a really clever way of showing that Anakin has his eye on the prize?