Every secret Easter egg and obscure reference in Westworld so far

On the strength of the first two episodes, HBO's Westworld is off to a flying start, introducing a multitude of interesting characters and pulling off some extremely impressive world-building. The set-up - a wild west ‘playable’ theme park, populated by robots, but controlled and directed by humans - is based on Michael Crichton's 1973 movie, and so there’s plenty of opportunity for nods to the original, as well as other more obscure references. Here's a handy guide to the various Easter eggs and references in the show so far, which I’ll be updating regularly as it continues, but be warned if you’re not up-to-date; spoilers ahead.

The Man in Black

Reference: Westworld movie

Easter egg: The most immediate reference to the original film in the pilot episode (coincidentally titled The Original) is the appearance of Ed Harris as the mysterious Man in Black, who's dressed exactly like Yul Brynner's menacing Gunslinger robot in the 1973 movie. However, this turns out to be a clever red herring, as the character turns out not to be a Host at all, but a human visitor to the park, albeit something of a regular, who's been coming to Westworld for nearly 30 years and who has some as-yet-unclear agenda.

Logan and William

Reference: Westworld movie

Easter egg: In the second episode (Chestnut), we're introduced to Logan (Ben Barnes) and William (Jimmi Simpson), two newly-arrived guests to the park. Their dynamic is identical to that of the film's original stars, James Brolin (as John) and Richard Benjamin (as Peter), who are targeted by the Gunslinger after the robots start malfunctioning. In both the movie and TV show, one of the men (Logan/John) is a hedonistic frequent visitor to the park, while the other (William/Peter) is more timid and apprehensive. So far, however, Barnes' Logan is a much nastier character than Brolin's John.

Curiouser and curiouser

Reference: Alice in Wonderland

Easter egg: Both star Evan Rachel Wood and showrunner Lisa Joy have commented on the fact that Dolores' blue and white costume deliberately evokes that of Alice in Wonderland. While it might just be down to Wood’s long-standing fascination with the character, it’s a nice non-verbal nod to the fact that Dolores finds her world turned upside down… or at least, I think she will. 

Robot snake

Reference: Westworld movie

Easter egg: The scene where park creator Ford (Anthony Hopkins) encounters a rattlesnake in the desert is a direct callback to the movie. In both cases, the snake turns out to be a robot, but the snake scenes serve very different purposes: in the movie, the snake bites John (who exclaims “That's not supposed to happen!” in an amusingly high-pitched voice), allowing the men to work out that something has gone wrong with the robots' programming. However, in the TV show, Ford uses his control of the snake (he waves his hand and it freezes) to demonstrate his absolute mastery over his surroundings.

Sexbots can kill people too

Reference: Westworld movie

Easter egg: Both the film and the TV show feature ‘sexbots’ in the guise of prostitutes at the local brothel. In the movie, the characters are very thinly sketched, but Thandie Newton's madam Maeve Millay is the equivalent of the movie's Miss Carrie (played by Star Trek's Majel Barrett) and Angela Sarafyan's Clementine Pennyfeather equates to Linda Scott's Arlette. However, it’s clear that the prostitute roles have been significantly expanded from the movie, which frankly misses a trick by not having them attack or kill anyone.

Life imitating art

Reference: Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man

Easter egg: The opening credits (and a number of scenes in the show) feature the robots' flesh being 3D printed and assembled on a circular background that looks exactly like Da Vinci's famous drawing Vitruvian Man, thereby serving as a reminder of just how close the robots are to becoming human.


Reference: Westworld movie

Easter egg: While talking about the earlier versions of the Hosts, Hopkins’ Ford says, “They repeated themselves, broke down constantly, and a simple handshake could give them away”. This is a direct reference to the movie, where it’s established that the robots’ hands always give them away because the manufacturers could never get them right. In the show, it’s another example of the way Hopkins and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) are always striving to make the robots as human as possible.

All aboard the train

Reference: Westworld movie

Easter egg: Just like in the movie, the Newcomers enter Westworld via a steam train that takes them through vast swathes of landscape (still part of the park) before finally arriving at the town of Sweetwater, in the park’s centre. The TV show makes clever use of the train because that’s where James Marsden’s character is first introduced, which helps sell the twist that he’s actually a robot.

Winter is coming

Reference: Game of Thrones

Easter egg: If you thought Westworld was limiting it’s Easter eggs to the TV screen, you were wrong because you can also find a couple on the website too. If you register as a guest at DiscoverWestworld.com you’ll see some unusual Terms & Conditions which will warn you about ‘common’ causes of death such as buffalo stampede, self-cannibalism, and accidental hanging. Plus, if you type “VIOLENTDELIGHTS” into the employee login you can read emails from the behind the scenes characters, and talk to a chatbot who’ll answer questions about Game of Thrones. Yes, really. 


Matthew Turner is a freelance film journalist and lifelong Marvel Comics fan. His favourite film is Vertigo and he hasn't missed an episode of EastEnders since 1998.
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