Even the most devoted cinema aficionados succumb to the enduring power of hidden movie details waiting to be uncovered. Take infinite patience, add hours and hours of rewatching, and mix in some much-needed luck, and you may spot an Easter egg.
But since it’s easier said than done, we are gonna take a shortcut and trust the detectives from the r/MovieDetails subreddit gifted with eagle vision and supreme understanding of any reference that comes up.
With 2.4 million members, it’s obvious the community is keeping itself busy by clicking our all-time favorite movies one by one. Like it was no big deal! Let’s scroll through the newest batch of hidden gems of the big screen explained, and be sure to check out our previous posts on r/MovieDetails here, here and here.
In The End Credits Of Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011), It Is Confirmed That While No Penguins Were Harmed During The Making Of The Movie, Jim Carrey Was Not So Fortunate
In Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), These Rebel Soldiers Are Played By Mark Hamill's Children. From Left To Right; Nathan Hamill, Chelsea Hamill, And Griffin Hamill
In Anastasia (1997), The Drawing That Anastasia Gives To Her Grandmother Is Based On A 1914 Painting Created By The Real Princess Anastasia
To find out more about how Easter eggs in movies work, and why even the most loyal fans succumb to their power and never notice them, Bored Panda reached out to Lisa Yaszek, a Regents Professor of Science Fiction Studies at Georgia Tech, where she researches and teaches science fiction as a global language crossing centuries, continents, and cultures.
Lisa explained that “Easter eggs” are hidden messages, images or features that filmmakers, game designers, and other (usually electronic) artists include in their work for audiences to discover. "Most Easter eggs are bonus materials that are not essential to the main narrative. Sometimes they do sometimes enrich our experience of the story by connecting it with other, similar stories to create a 'shared universe.' But if nothing else, they are always meant to amuse by conveying 'insider knowledge' in a clever way,” the professor explained.
In "Moana" (2016), Maui's Visual Appearance Is Partly Modeled On Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's Grandfather, Samoan-American Professional Wrestler Peter Maivia
In Zootopia (2016), Chief Bogo Wears Eyeglasses To Read Documents. This Is A Reference To The Fact That Buffalo Have Poor Eyesight. Confirmed By The Directors In A Q&a
In Mulan (1998), Mulan Touches Her Hair A Lot Because The Animators Noticed That Mulan’s Voice Actor, Ming-Na Wen, Touched Her Hair A Lot While Recording. So, They Added It To The Character
For those who’re wondering, Lisa assured that Easter eggs are usually intentional, “placed there by the director or some other individual or group involved in the creation process—see images 7, 9, 13, 16, 19, 27, 31, 33, and 38).”
“Sometimes, however, Easter eggs come about as unintended or surprise effects of the technical creation process. My favorite examples of this are Mulan (in which the animators decided to have Mulan play with her hair after observing the voice actor who sang her songs do the same in real life) and Spaceballs (in which Mel Brooks gave up fighting the sloppiness of his production crew and just decided to incorporate styrofoam coffee cups into his Star Wars parody).”
In Brave (2012), You Can See Merida And Her Mother Hidden In The Logo Of The Movie. Look At The Top Left Of The B And E
Chicha From The Emperor’s New Groove (2000) Is The First Pregnant Female Character To Appear In A Disney Animated Feature Film, According To The Dvd Commentary. She’s Also One Of The First Mother Characters In A Disney Film Not To Be Killed Off Or Villainized
In The Truman Show (1998), The Identical Twins Are Played By Ron And Don Taylor, Two Police Officers Who Were Working On The Set As Security Guards. Director Peter Weir Saw How Friendly They Were With The Film's Cast And Crew, So He Hired Them As Actors
Meanwhile, the term itself “was coined in 1979/80 by Atari’s then-Director of Software Development, Steve Wright, to describe a secret message that had been planted in the video game Adventure,” Lisa added. Turns out, “game designer Warren Robinett was angry with Atari for the company’s failure to include developers’ names in the game credits, so he programmed the message 'created by Warren Robinett' to appear when players encountered a special pixel called 'the gray dot' that gives entry to a secret part of the game map.”
Lisa added that sadly, Atari took that Easter egg out and “you won’t find it in any contemporary versions of the game. But you will find an homage to it at the end of both the novel and film versions of Ready Player One, where players in a massive virtual game compete to find Easter eggs—including, at the very end, the Easter egg from Adventure!”
In The Dark Knight (2008), Joker Is Constantly Licking His Lips. This Is Actually Because Of The Prosthetic Scars That Heath Ledger Wore. They Kept Falling Off, So Heath Would Lick His Lips To Keep Them In Place. Gradually, It Became A Part Of The Joker’s Character
In The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), The Man Who's Eaten By The T-Rex Because He Tried To Push On A "Pull" Door Is The Film's Screenwriter, David Koepp. He Is Listed In The Credits As "Unlucky Bastard"
In Zootopia (2016), Mr Big, The Mafia Boss, Is An Arctic Shrew. Director Roy Moore Made This Choice Because “The Arctic Shrew Is The Most Vicious Predator On Earth”. Arctic Shrews Eat Three Times Their Own Body Weight And Even Eat Other Shrews
Interestingly, Easter eggs are as old as films themselves. Lisa said that the first director known to purposely include them is Alfred Hitchcock. “Hitchcock used himself as the surprise, playing at least one cameo role in 39 of his films—indeed, he even shows up twice in 1927’s Lodger: A Store of the London Fog. These surprises quickly became part of Hitchcock’s signature style, and they quickly inspired similar hidden treats in other media.”
When asked what is the reason for film directors to include them, Lisa said that many creators use them as part of their signature style. “The earliest and still most famous example of this is probably Alfred Hitchcock’s tendency to cast himself in small walk-on roles in many of his films—a tradition continued today by Peter Jackson in Lord of the Rings and Taika Waititi in Thor: Ragnarok.”
In Titanic (1997) There Is A Scene Showing A Boy Playing With A Spinning Top On Deck. This Is Actually A Recreation Of A Real Photo Taken Onboard The Ship On April 11th, 1912 By Francis Browne. It Shows 1st Class Passenger Frederic Spedden And His 6 Year Old Son Douglas. Both Survived The Sinking
In Goodfellas (1990), Robert De Niro Didn’t Like How Fake Money Felt In His Hand And Insisted Using Real Money. So The Prop Master Withdrew Several Thousand Dollars Of His Own Money To Use. At The End Of Each Take, No One Was Allowed To Leave The Set Until All The Money Was Returned & Counted
In Toy Story 4 (2019), A Car Has The Licence Plate "Rmrf97". In 1997, Someone At Pixar Accidentally Typed “Rm -R -F “, Deleting The Entire Toy Story 2 Movie From The Pixar Database. Fortunately, The Film's Supervising Technical Director Had A Backup Copy At Home, And The Movie Was Restored
Another reason may be that “filmmakers create Easter eggs to pay tribute to earlier filmmakers who have had a significant impact either on film as a whole or on that director in particular.” Lisa added that sometimes they do this directly, “as when Tim Burton recreates a scene from Ida Lupino’s 1964 Twilight Zone episode 'The Mask' in 1993’s The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and when Peter Jackson visually recreates a scene from Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 animated adaptation of Lord of the Rings for his own live action version, (images 29 and 35).”
Other times, the homage is more indirect, “as in The Mitchells vs. The Machines, when we realize that Katie’s socks pay homage to Stanley Kubrick (image 34).”
In 1953's How To Marry A Millionaire, Lauren Bacall Is Trying To Convince William Powell That She's Attracted To Older Men. One Of The Examples She Cites Is 'That Old Fellow' In African Queen. She's Referring To Humphrey Bogart, Her Real Life Husband
In A Bug's Life (1999), The Queen Is Seen To Have A Pet Named "Aphie." In Real Life, This Little Bug Is An Aphid (Also Known As Aphids) And They Live In Harmony With The Ants, But Not As Pets, But As "Livestock"
In Spirited Away (2001), The Family Car Is Based On The First-Generation Audi A4 1.8t, From The Mid-1990s. The Production Team Even Drove Around An Audi A4 1.8t On Some Jagged Roads And Recorded The Sounds To Make The Film As Accurate As Possible
In general, “many directors create Easter eggs to keep production crews happy and amused, especially when they are working on large, complex projects with a lot of (largely boring) moving parts. For example, it takes three years to make a Pixar film, and Pixar, of course, is famous for its Easter eggs—consider, for instance, the Easter egg from Toy Story 4 that mockingly refers back to a near-disaster of the production of Toy Story 2 (image 14),” Lisa explained.
In Deadpool 2 (2018), Wade Wears A Shirt That Says: "Olivia & Meredith. Best Friends Purrrr-Ever". The Two Cats Actually Belong To Taylor Swift. The Production Crew Had To Get Permission From Her To Use Their Image
In The Final Shot Of 'The King Of Staten Island' (2020), Pete Davidson Turns And Looks To The Direction Where The Twin Towers Used To Stand As A Tribute To His Father
In The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (2014), Gloin Wears A Distinctive Helmet In One Scene. His Son Gimli Will Later Inherit It And Wear It During The Lord Of The Rings
In Spaceballs (1987), Dark Helmet Is Drinking From A Styrofoam Cup Because Crew Members Would Leave Them Around The Set. So, Mel Brooks Decided To Just Make Them A Part Of The Universe
In Joker (2019), Joaquin Phoenix Improvised The Iconic Dance In The Bathroom. Originally, Arthur Was Just Meant To Stare Into The Mirror And Quietly Contemplate His Actions, But After Hearing Some Of The Composer’s Music, Phoenix Thought The Dance Was More Appropriate
In 22 Jump Street (2014), Jonah Hill Was Attacked By A Parrot During The Car Chase. His Panicked Reaction Is Real. On The Dvd Commentary, He Said: “That Was Not Acting. I Don’t Like Birds.”
In Wreck It Ralph (2012), Bowser Holds His Cup Of Tea In A Particular Way. This Was Actually An Addition By Nintendo. Before The Film Was Released, They Contacted The Filmmakers And Said That Bowser Was Drinking His Tea The Wrong Way In The Group Therapy Scene. So, It Was Changed
In Deliverance (1972), During The “Dueling Banjos” Scene, Billy Redden, Who Played The Young Banjo-Playing Local, Didn’t Know How To Play Banjo. To Make It Look Authentic, A Skilled Banjo Player Hid Behind & Played The Chords With His Left Arm In Redden’s Sleeve While Redden Picked With His Right
In Skyfall (2012), A Stolen Painting Is Being Shown To A Man. The Painting Is ‘Woman With A Fan’ By Amadeo Modigliani. It Was Stolen In Real-Life In 2010 And Has Yet To Be Recovered
During The Vault Scene In Mission: Impossible (1996), Tom Cruise Kept Hitting His Head When Attempting To Hover Inches Off The Floor, So He Put English Pound Coins In His Shoes To Maintain His Balance
In The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), The Scene In Which Lock, Shock And Barrel Remove Their Masks Was Based On A Season Five Episode Of The Twilight Zone Called “The Masks,” Which Had A Huge Impact On Burton As A Child
In La La Land (2016), As Sebastian And Mia Walk Through The Studio Lot, They Pass By Two Actors Filming A Romantic Scene. Those Two Actors Are Actually Ryan Gosling’s And Emma Stone’s Body Doubles
In Toy Story 2 (1999) Steve Jobs Is On The One Dollar Bill
In Independence Day (1996), The Office Worker Killed During The Alien’s Attack Is Played By Volker Engel, The Special Effects Supervisor Of The Movie. He Won The Oscar For Visual Effects For His Work, The Only Oscar That The Movie Won
In The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2021), Katie's Socks Have The Same Pattern As The Iconic Carpet From The Shining
In The Emperors New Groove (2000), Baby Kuzco Has A Toy Llama, A Toy Parrot, And A Toy Whale. Later On In The Movie, He Turns Into All Of These Animals
In Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge Of The Sith (2005) The Young Jedi Who Saves Bail Organa Was Played By George Lucas’ Son Jett Lucas
In Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001), The Shot Of Proudfoot With His Feet Up In The Air, Is A Direct Homage To The 1978 Animated Adaptation Of The Lord Of The Rings, Directed By Ralph Bakshi
In Aliens (1986), Is Is Revealed That Lambert, From The First Alien (1979), Was Transgender, During A Quick Recalling Of The Crewmember Deaths From The First Movie
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018) Has A Blink-And-You-Miss-In Joke - When Miles Throws A Bagel At The Alchemax Employee The Word "Bagel!!!" Appears Above The Worker's Head, Instead Of "Pow!!!" Or "Blam!!!"
An American Werewolf In London (1981) Has A Suitably Different Take On The Standard End-Of-Movie Disclaimer
In Kung Fu Panda (2008), When Shifu And Tai Lung First Saw The Blank Dragon Scroll, They Had The Same Initial Reactions: Looking At It Sideways And Folding It And Opening It Again. Like Father, Like Son
Note: this post originally had 166 images. It’s been shortened to the top 40 images based on user votes.