The One Thing You Never Noticed About Your Favorite Movie
If you know 15 of these easter eggs, you're a true fan.
Famed director Alfred Hitchcock was among the first auteurs to fill his films with Easter eggs. We don’t mean actual eggs, of course. We’re talking about those blink-or-you’ll-miss-them moments, which the vast majority of audiences never realize are hiding in plain sight.
Hitchcock made cameo appearances in 39 of his films, always in the background, just passing through, and inconspicuous enough not to be noticed. Unless you knew, for instance, that portly old man leaving a pet shop with two small dogs in the horror classic The Birds was really the Master of Suspense himself, he wouldn’t warrant a second glance.
It was the beginning of a tradition that has continued in movies to this day. Many of the most beloved films of our time have Easter eggs that aren’t immediately apparent to the casual viewer. Some of them are intentional, and some are accidents, but finding these off-the-radar moments has become a hobby for movie lovers everywhere. It’s like discovering a secret that’s just between you and the filmmaker, something so subtle as to almost be subliminal, and that makes you part of a very exclusive club. Here are 25 of our favorite Easter egg moments from movies you may think you already know inside and out.
Daniel Craig played a Stormtrooper in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
It was just good timing and a lucky coincidence that led James Bond himself to put on a Stormtrooper helmet and join the Dark Side. Daniel Craig was in England shooting Spectre, the 24th Bond flick, when he learned that the latest Star Wars movie was being produced by the same studio. As he explained in an interview with Stephen Colbert, he just asked director J.J. Abrams, “Can I be in it?”
The answer, of course, was yes. And he’s not only in a big scene—he’s the Stormtrooper that Rey (Daisy Ridley) tries to escape by using the Jedi Mind Trick, if you’ll recall—he also has lines, calling the future Jedi hero “scavenger scum.”
There’s a coffee cup in every scene in Fight Club.
You may have noticed a lot of coffee drinking going on in David Fincher’s 1999 masterpiece, but it turns out there’s a coffee cup—and more often than not, a Starbucks coffee cup—in every single scene. You might not always see the logo, but java from the hugely popular coffee chain is always there. “I don’t have anything personal against Starbucks,” Fincher once explained in a 1999 interview with Empire magazine. “I think they’re trying to do a good thing. They’re just too successful.”
Alan Rickman is genuinely surprised to be falling in Die Hard.
You probably thought that the shocked expression on Alan Rickman’s face at the end of Die Hard, when Bruce Willis dropped him to his death, was all acting. But his surprise in that moment is 100 percent genuine.
The stuntmen charged with releasing Rickman from a height of 25 feet, where he’d fall into an airbag, played a little trick on him. Though they promised to let go of Rickman on the count of three, they let go at one instead. “That’s true terror you see in his face,” visual effects supervisor Richard Edlund said in an interview. “He’s really scared of falling backwards, as anybody would be, even though it was going to be a nice soft blue pillow filled with air below.”
C-3PO and R2-D2 make a cameo in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The robot besties from Star Wars made not one but two subtle cameos in the first Indiana Jones adventure. First, in the scene where Jones (played by Star Wars regular Harrison Ford) discovers the Ark, tiny hieroglyphs of C-3P0 and R2-D2 are visible on a pillar right behind him.
They’re more obvious later in the film, when Jones and Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) are lifting the Ark (seen here), and hieroglyphics in the background are clearly depicting the moment when Princess Leia uploads secret files to R2-D2 as C-3PO watches. It’s not the only time that Star Wars gets a shout-out in the Indiana Jones series; in Temple of Doom, the nightclub in the opening scene is called “Club Obi-Wan.”
Captain America: The Winter Soldier remembers Samuel L. Jackson’s other iconic role.
Fans of Samuel L. Jackson may love his portrayal of Nick Fury in the Marvel movies, but those of us who’ve followed his career for a while know there’s one role that defines him more than any other. That’s why it was such a delight to see the Easter egg hidden in The Winter Soldier. At the movie’s end, when Fury stands next to his own (fake) grave, we get a brief glimpse of the tombstone’s epitaph: “The path of the righteous man: Ezekiel 25:17,” which any Pulp Fiction fan will recognize.
Heath Ledger’s daughter has a semi-appearance in The Dark Knight.
Want to get all choked up watching a Batman movie? Give The Dark Knight another viewing, but this time pay special attention to the name tag on the Joker’s nurse outfit. It reads “Matilda,” which just so happens to be the first name of Heath Ledger’s daughter. Also, try not to remember that Ledger died shortly after this movie. (We’re not crying, you’re crying.)
Steve Buscemi reveals the running time in Fargo.
When Carl (played brilliantly by Steve Buscemi) chastises car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) in one of the final scenes of Fargo, you probably didn’t think to check your watch. But when he started yelling, “30 minutes, Jerry. We wrap this thing up,” he doesn’t just mean their criminal scheme. Either by accident or design (we still aren’t sure), he utters that line exactly 30 minutes before the movie’s ending.
The real Frank Abagnale arrests himself in Catch Me If You Can.
You likely already knew that this thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio was based on a true story. But only a few true crime aficionados recognized that it was the real Frank Abagnale—played by DiCaprio in the film—making a surprise cameo as a French policeman. Even better, Abagnale got the unique opportunity to arrest himself, recreating the scene that he experienced firsthand many decades earlier (except back then, he was on the receiving end of the handcuffs).
The letter X foreshadows death in The Departed.
The violence in Martin Scorsese’s crime drama can feel random and arbitrary, but there are actually not-so-subtle clues before every death scene. When any character is on the verge of being offed, an X appears somewhere in the frame with them. (Here are a few examples.) The only primary character who never gets killed, Sgt. Dignam (Mark Wahlberg), manages to avoid being in the presence of Xs entirely. The conceit is actually an homage to one of Scorsese’s favorite films, the 1932 gangster flick Scarface, where Xs predicting character deaths are even more obvious.
Pac-Man shows up in Tron.
The original Tron from 1982 may seem adorably antiquated by today’s video game standards, but it’s still worth rewatching, especially for some of the hidden Easter gags. Our favorite is the unexpected appearance of Pac-Man in the corner of a screen. It’s easy to miss, but if you listen closely, you can even hear the unmistakable “waka-waka” sound effects as he munches on white dots.
The Toy Story series has multiple references to The Shining.
The last pop culture reference we expected to see in the Toy Story series was a nod toward Stanley Kubrick’s very scary (and not at all kid-friendly) horror movie The Shining. But they’re everywhere! In the original movie, the carpet in Sid’s house is identical to the pattern used in Overlook Hotel, where the young Danny rode his Big Wheel through the hallways and occasionally bumped into ghosts.
In Toy Story 3, the number “237” is mentioned repeatedly, which Shining fans will recall is the room number of the Overlook’s most haunted room. As Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich said in an interview, The Shining was “the film that inspired me to become a filmmaker myself.”
Kurt Russell has the same weapon load-out as Marvin the Martian.
In the dystopian action thriller Soldier, Kurt Russell plays a military assassin who’s been replaced by a new breed of genetically flawless soldiers. It may not sound like a laugh riot, but there are subtle jokes hidden throughout the movie. When a list of the weapons that Russell is proficient with are displayed on a screen, one of them is the “Illudium Pu36 Esm.” Sound familiar? You might know it better as the Illudium Pu36 Explosive Space Modulator, the Earth-destroying contraption wielded by Marvin the Martian in Looney Tunes cartoons.
Waldo is among the dead in Apocalypto.
Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto certainly wasn’t made to be funny seeing as it’s about the fall of the Mayan civilization in the 16th century. But Gibson slipped a joke in anyway. In a scene where Jaguar Paw (played by Rudy Youngblood) discovers a mass grave, one of the bodies is instantly recognizable. It’s Waldo! As in Where’s Waldo?! From the books! The lighthearted moment was meant to relieve some of the tension, but not everyone was amused, and the footage was later cut for the DVD release.
Oranges foreshadow death in the Godfather films.
With all the oranges being eaten in the Godfather films, you’d think gangsters were especially concerned about their vitamin C levels. But it’s actually more about symbolism than nutrition.
Not unlike the Xs in Scorsese’s The Departed, when a mafioso is seen with an orange, their time left is limited. This is most noteworthy in the original Godfather: Whether Vito (Marlon Brando) was buying oranges (just before that assassination attempt) or peeling an orange to play with his grandson (just before he dies from a cardiac arrest), oranges are never harbingers of good news.
The mall changes names in Back to the Future.
Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) specifically warned Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) that anything he did in the past during his time-traveling adventures would have an impact on the future—and that wasn’t just true when it came to his parents’ relationship. Marty’s favorite shopping center in 1985 is called Twin Pines Mall, but when he travels to the past and crashes into a tree, it changes the future in ways not all movie audiences noticed. Back in his present time, the mall is named Lone Pine Mall, since only one tree remained after the crash.
Tim Robbins spoils the great escape in Shawshank Redemption.
A huge spoiler was revealed during one of the opening scenes of Shawshank Redemption and it went right over our collective heads. When Andy (Tim Robbins) is feeling especially despondent, he tells Red (Morgan Freeman) about his dream of escaping to Mexico and starting over. Red dismisses this idea as a “pipe dream.” Well, as you may remember, a pipe is exactly how Andy makes his escape later in the movie. So, in a way, Red was right after all.
Snakes on a Plane teaches you how to put snakes on a plate.
There’s so much over-the-top hilarity in Snakes on a Plane, it’s easy to miss some of the smaller sight gags. But this is one of our favorites: When a flight attendant grabs a snake and stuffs it in a microwave, she hits a preset button marked “Snake.” Last time we looked, the snake-cooking feature didn’t come standard.
Those are real skeletons in the pool in Poltergeist.
In this horror classic’s terrifying conclusion, Diane Freeling (JoBeth Williams) is dragged into the family’s swimming pool, where she’s surrounded in the muddy waters by skeletons. Her terror seemed genuine in the film, but it could’ve been far worse. “In my innocence and naiveté, I assumed that these were not real skeletons,” Williams explained in an interview. “I assumed that they were prop skeletons made out of plastic or rubber.” She soon learned that they were actually real skeletons, “because it’s far too expensive to make fake skeletons out of rubber,” she said.
Abraham Lincoln gets assassinated in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
You don’t expect a history lesson from an animated movie for kids. But that’s what we got from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. As food falls from the sky and makes a mess of the town below, pie is slammed into the faces of every U.S. president on Mount Rushmore—all except for Abraham Lincoln, who gets pied in the back of his head. You don’t have to be a historian to remember that this is exactly how Lincoln was assassinated (except, uh, not with a pie).
The cereals at Hogwarts are much like cereals in the muggle world.
Wizards are just like us! The breakfast food most commonly on display in the Great Hall of Hogwarts was cereal. As you may have seen in several of the Harry Potter movies—if you had your eyes on the background—the kids were just as likely to be munching on wizard-only cereals like Cheeri Owls and Pixie Puffs.
The disclaimer in Frozen says: Don’t eat your boogers!
If you have kids or grandkids, you’ve seen the movie Frozen more times than you can count. In one memorable scene, which probably inspired some giggles in your little ones, Kristoff reveals to Anna the disgusting detail that all boys eat their own boogers. Well, in a clever callback to that moment, the closing credits offer this disclaimer: “The views and opinions expressed by Kristoff in the film that all men eat their own boogers are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The Walt Disney Company or the filmmakers. Neither The Walt Disney Company nor the filmmakers make any representation of the accuracy of any such views and opinions.”
That giggle fit in The Usual Suspects wasn’t a spoof.
The lineup of crooks and thieves in The Usual Suspects wasn’t intended to be anything but deadly serious, and yet the characters burst into laughter for (seemingly) no reason. What was going on? On commentary featured in the special edition DVD release, actor Benicio del Toro revealed that the mood lightener was actually—wait for it—flatulence. “All I remember is that someone farted,” he said, “and no one knew who the guilty party was.” Kevin Pollak had a different memory of the culprit. “Del Toro farted like 12 takes in a row,” he insisted. We’ll never watch this scene the same way again.
Kurt Russell’s shirt from Big Trouble in Little China makes a comeback in Death Proof.
Quentin Tarantino loves filling his movies with near-imperceptible details that only the most observant fans notice. Case in point, his 2007 “Grindhouse” feature Death Proof, where Kurt Russell plays the murderous Stuntman Mike. Among the memorabilia hanging on the wall at the Texas Chilli Parlor, right above Jungle Julia’s table, there’s a tank top with a samurai and rising sun on it that’s easy to miss. Little did most audiences realize that it’s the same shirt worn by Russell in John Carpenter’s B-movie cult classic Big Trouble in Little China.
Drew Barrymore returns to her E.T. childhood in Charlie’s Angels.
By the time she was starring as a butt-kicking undercover agent in the 2000 reboot of Charlie’s Angels, Drew Barrymore’s cherub-cheeked beginnings in Steven Spielberg’s E.T. were long behind her. But she gave us a little reminder of her roots when her character burst into the room of some teenage boys. If it looked vaguely familiar that’s because it’s the very same bedroom set from E.T. Look closer and you’ll see the E.T. poster on the wall, and both boys are eating Reese’s Pieces, the favorite candy of Barrymore’s alien best friend.
There are literal Easter eggs in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
While prepping for production, the cast and crew of The Rocky Horror Picture Show kept themselves amused with an actual Easter egg hunt. They were a little too good at hiding, however, as not all of the colorful eggs were found before the cameras rolled. If you look closely, you can see one of the eggs under Frank N. Furter’s throne. And for more hijinks from the silver screen, don’t miss these 40 Hilariously Impractical Things That Always Happen in Movies.
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