These days, the creative talent and production value put into the best TV shows surpasses even the biggest blockbuster movies. But many of the writers and directors behind acclaimed television series still draw heavily on influences from the big screen and, every so often, they like to hide or imbed the sources of their inspiration as clever little homages or Easter Eggs for fans to discover in their shows. Some references are glaringly obvious, while others are incredibly subtle and might require multiple viewings to catch. These are five of the harder-to-notice movie tributes hidden in popular TV shows. Caution! Spoilers ahead!
5. Breaking Bad – Reservoir Dogs
Throughout Breaking Bad’s run, creator Vince Gilligan and his writing team slipped in quite a few Easter Eggs that foreshadowed future events. Gilligan also happens to be a pretty big fan of Quentin Tarantino and, if you watch Breaking Bad closely, you might notice some striking similarities to Tarantino’s movie Reservoir Dogs. For starters, the names of the main characters Walter White and Jesse Pinkman seem to reflect the names Mr. White and Mr. Pink played by Harvey Keitel and Steve Buscemi in the movie. And, in the fifth season, after discovering the truth about who really poisoned Brock, Jesse points his gun at Walt after knocking him to the floor in a moment that looks like a recreation of the iconic Reservoir Dogs scene where Mr. White and Mr. Pink have a disagreement and take aim at each other.
4. Firefly – Star Wars
Joss Whedon’s prop team and set designers on Firefly must really have had a thing for Star Wars. If you look hard enough, you’ll notice that there’s an action figure of Han Solo frozen in carbonite prominently placed in the background of several scenes. Rumor has it that the carbonite Han can be found in at least one shot in every single episode of Firefly, which sounds pretty impressive, until you remember that show only has 13 episodes. Cue uncontrollable sobbing.
3. Game of Thrones – Monty Python and the Holy Grail
In the season four Game of Thrones episode titled “Breaker of Chains,” David Peterson, the show’s dedicated linguist, devised a masterful inside joke for Monty Python fans. As Daenerys reaches the city of Meereen, she’s met by an emissary who hurls insults at her in the Low Valyrian language. Although the translation offered on the show isn’t exact, viewers fluent in Valyrian immediately recognized the line “Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelled of elderberries” as being the same words uttered by the irritated French soldier in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
2. The Walking Dead – Creepshow
The Walking Dead is actually full of little nods to old horror and zombie classics like Dawn of the Dead. But our favorite reference occurs in the action-packed premiere episode of season five when Rick and company are headed towards that train car to let the crazy bearded dude out. As they get closer, a brief flash of a wooden crate is seen in the foreground with a label that reads “Ship to Horlicks University via Julia Carpenter.” That’s the exact same label that’s on the crate containing a ferocious monster in George A. Romero’s horror anthology Creepshow. Too bad Rick and the gang didn’t have time to stop and take a look inside.
1. Arrested Development – Clue
On Arrested Development, the Bluth family’s go-to private investigator has always been Martin Mull’s character Gene Parmesan. But before landing his role on that show, Mull played another character with a condiment surname when he portrayed Colonel Mustard in the 1985 movie Clue. So, you can bet that the writers of Arrested Development were just dying to work some sort of name-related gag into the show when it came back for its fourth season on Netflix. Which, of course, they did. In the episode titled “Colony Collapse,” Gob, Tobias, and Lindsay all end up carelessly eating the only food left in the house—Parmesan cheese and mustard—as a testament to their stupidity and lost grip on reality. Although this moment did indeed foreshadow the appearance of Gene Parmesan, the gag didn’t stop there. Parmesan is later seen working at a knife store while Gob and Michael fight it out in a children’s play room full of balls. When Gob and Michael’s fight breaks down a wall and takes them into the knife store, the elaborate gag finally pays off as the audience is left with a complete Clue murder mystery supposition—Colonel Mustard in the “ballroom” with the knife.