The 30 best movie Easter eggs

Hidden gems

In this day and age of meticulous analysis of every single trailer and new images, it can be tricky for movies to surprise us anymore. Luckily, for decades, filmmakers have been working hard to sneak in clever little nods and references into their movies to reward the keen-eyed viewer, without ruining the movie for anyone not in on the joke. The very fact that they can come in any form - from a throwaway piece of dialogue to some well-placed set dressing - makes it all the more pleasing when they’re spotted. And to celebrate those little touches that filmmakers give us, here’s our list of some of cinema’s most smartest and enjoyable Easter eggs to date. Oh, and it contains recent movies like Deadpool and Zootropolis, so there could be potential spoilers.

30. Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)

When Will Ferrell is escorting Shannon Elizabeth out of the cinema at the end of the movie, a poster for a movie called Busing appears on the wall. Despite being laid out in a similar design to the Clerks poster, Busing was actually the name of a movie script written by Smith in the wake of his first film. Following the mundane lives of restaurant busboys, it was set to tread similar ground to Clerks, but fell by the wayside when Smith failed to secure any studio interest.

29. Maverick (1994)

When Mel Gibson finds himself caught in the middle of a bank robbery, there’s a prolonged double take when the robber is revealed to be Danny Glover, Gibson’s Lethal Weapon co-star. Okay, this one is probably too obvious to be considered “clever” per se, but we’re still including it as it’s a brilliantly affectionate bit of in-jokery. Glover even says “I’m too old for this shit" for crying out loud!

28. King Kong (2005)

As the ship approaches Skull Island, a message is received in morse code, supposedly announcing a warrant for Jack Black’s arrest. However, this isn’t actually what the code translates to - what it actually says is, “Show me the monkey!” Nice. Very nice indeed.

27. The Mist (2007)

The painting Thomas Jane is working on at the beginning of the movie is quite clearly a picture of Roland Deschain, hero of another Stephen King property, The Dark Tower. King’s books are full of continuity crossovers and it’s nice to see that cross over into the movie adaptations as well. A signpost to Castle Rock, the setting for many of King’s yarns, can also be spotted at one point.

26. Return of the Jedi (1983)

Three of the aliens working on Jabba’s sail barge are named Klaatu, Barada and Nikto, a reference to the robot-foiling codewords in The Day The Earth Stood Still. It’s a nicely underplayed nod to a science fiction classic, although we prefer the less subtle tribute paid by Army Of Darkness!

25. Anchorman (2004)

In the scene directly before Ron Burgundy gets the boot from KVWN, Veronica Corningstone is shown eating in a Mexican restaurant called Escupimos en su Alimento, which is Spanish for “we spit in your food”. Hur-hur-hur…

24. Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)

Eagle-eyed viewers might recognise one of the bearded chaps waiting to be healed by pseudo-Messiah Brian… It’s none other than The Beatles' George Harrison! Harrison, a confirmed Python fan, personally founded Handmade Films in order to get the project made, at a cost of around £3 million. Or as Eric Idle would later describe it, “The world’s most expensive cinema ticket”.

23. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Whilst flicking through TV channels towards the beginning of the film, Bruce Banner flicks past an episode of The Courtship of Eddie’s Father - a ‘70s TV show featuring Bill Bixby, the man who played Bruce Banner opposite Lou Ferrigno’s Hulk.

22. Evil Dead 2 (1987)

When Ash bursts into the tool-shed, his girlfriend’s head busily gnawing at his hand, Freddy Krueger’s glove can be spotted mounted above the frame of the door. It’s a throwaway moment, but a nice nod to an iconic villain. Or is it…? Supposedly, Wes Craven included a poster of Jaws in The Hills Have Eyes to suggest that his film was scarier. In response to this, Sam Raimi placed a Hills Have Eyes poster on the wall of the cabin basement in the original Evil Dead. In turn, a torn Evil Dead poster can be spotted in A Nightmare On Elm Street. Now-now boys, play nicely.

21. Jurassic World (2015)

Whatever you think of Jurassic World, it’s clear that director Colin Trevorrow approached it with a definite love of the original. There’s nods everywhere you look and the most pleasing came in the form of a book. Jeff Goldblum might not have reprised his role as Ian Malcolm, but his spirit is there with God Creates Dinosaurs, written by none-other than everyone’s favourite ‘Chaos Theory’ mathematician. It appears twice: on the desks of Jurassic Park geek Lowery (Jake Johnson) and in the hands of Zara (Katie McGrath). We hope she finished it before her unfortunate encounter with the Mosasaurus.

Ian Sandwell

Ian Sandwell is an entertainment journalist, an avid FrightFester, and horror genre lover, as well as being a bit of a Marvel geek. Ian was the Features Writer at GamesRadar between 2015-2017, and has since moved on to Digital Spy where he currently sits as the website's movies editor.