20 Cleverly Hidden Details In Iconic Movies

Audiences love an Easter egg — any detail, gag, or allusion hidden within the plot of a wholly new or otherwise unrelated movie. The only problem is that they’re meant to be hard to spot. But don't worry: we've done the hard work for you. Here are some of the cleverest Easter eggs smuggled into some beloved movies — blink and you’ll miss them. You'll never see these films the same way again.

20. Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction

Director Quentin Tarantino made his mark on Hollywood with his independent film debut, Reservoir Dogs. The heist movie follows a group of diamond thieves whose planned robbery goes horribly awry.

But it was Tarantino’s second film, Pulp Fiction, that truly established him as one of the industry’s greats. Many have said that black comedy is one of modern cinema’s most important works.

The Buscemi connection

But here’s an interesting detail that even Tarantino fans might’ve missed — one that weaves these two films together. In Reservoir Dogs, Steve Buscemi’s character, Mr. Pink, refuses to leave tips for those who wait on him.

Then, in Pulp Fiction, Buscemi plays a small role as a waiter. This detail is said to be an example of the karma that exists in Tarantino’s universe.

19. Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark introduced audiences everywhere to the adventurous archaeologist known as Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford. The Steven Spielberg-directed action flick is still considered by some to be one of the greatest movies of all time.

In fact, it’s even included in the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry for its cultural merit. But we bet there's one cameo in it that you've never even noticed.

From a galaxy far, far away...

Another famous face involved in the Indiana Jones trilogy was executive producer George Lucas. The partnership between Lucas and Spielberg not only resulted in an incredible movie but also in an amazing hidden detail.

In the movie, Indiana Jones lifts a stone slab while standing next to a pillar covered in hieroglyphics. One of the messages includes two of Lucas’ Star Wars characters – R2-D2 and C-3PO.

18. Inside Out

The 2015 animated film Inside Out delves into the mind of Riley Anderson, a girl whose family has just moved to San Francisco from Minnesota. Her emotions – Joy, Disgust, Anger, Fear, and Sadness, to be exact – guide her through the big change.

The touching movie went on to win a slew of awards, including the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. And the creators put a lot of thought into the character design.

Character models

According to director Pete Docter, the Inside Out team thought long and hard about the shape of each of Riley’s personified emotions. Although Joy and Sadness were pretty obvious – a star and a teardrop, respectively – the others weren’t as readily apparent.

For starters, a fire brick inspired anger, while they modeled fear after a frayed nerve. And disgust? She got her form from broccoli. There's even a scene in the film that shows how much Riley hates broccoli!

17. Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton chronicles the ascent to – and drop from – fame by N.W.A., a gangster rap group formed in the Californian city. The critically acclaimed flick follows members Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube.

A talented cast brought these rap legends to life. And interestingly enough, O’Shea Jackson Jr. plays Ice Cube in the 2015 film — and he is Ice Cube's real-life son. That's probably why they look so alike.

Bye, Felicia

Thanks to his role in Straight Outta Compton, Jackson Jr. got to pay homage to Friday, the cult-classic comedy co-written by his dad. In one scene, Jackson Jr. – as Ice Cube – kicks a woman out of a party.

He continues by shutting the door and saying, “Bye, Felicia,” behind her. Of course, that’s a famous line from Friday. “My son came up with it on the day,” Ice Cube told Seth Meyers about the hilarious moment. 

16. Toy Story 3

Pixar’s Toy Story made history in 1995 as the first feature-length movie to be made entirely through computer animation. The beloved buddy adventure film spurred a series of sequels and some consider it to be one of the best animated movies of all time.

To that end, it has also been added to the National Film Registry, just like Raiders of the Lost Ark. The series happens to be packed with background developments that you won't notice on your first watch.

Remember Sid?

And speaking of sequels, Toy Story 3 contains a hilarious detail that could easily go unnoticed. In the first film, Buzz Lightyear and Woody end up in the hands of their neighbor and known toy-breaker, Sid.

They escape – and we finally find out Sid’s fate in film three. He can be seen working as a garbage man, even wearing the same skull shirt he had on in the first movie.

15. Fight Club

“The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.” Considering how well-known this line from Fight Club is, it’s hard to believe that studio executives initially hated the movie and that critics thought it might be too violent for mainstream audiences.

Over time, too, consensus on the film has shifted from positive to negative and all the way back around again. Fight Club has gained cult status and inspired so much thought because it contains layers and layers of meaning.

Starbucks in every scene

Speaking of cults, Fight Club director David Fincher used the movie as an excuse to make a statement about Starbucks, the ever-present coffee chain. We're talking about more than the "Planet Starbucks" line, too.

Fincher told Empire that, while he loved Starbucks at first, too many of them cropped up in L.A. So, he had a little fun with his movie and placed a cup from the coffee shop in every single scene.

14. Frozen

Parents today are likely to know the movie Frozen back to front, given that so many kids watch the thing over and over. And it isn’t just an average princess flick.

In fact, in the film one princess ventures out to save another, with no Prince Charming required. The animated musical raked in more than $1 billion worldwide and earned a duo of Oscars.

Getting a bit Tangled

It turns out that Frozen has more than just a discography full of catchy tunes – it also has Easter eggs related to another animated flick, Tangled. At the start of Frozen, Elsa and Anna’s parents travel to attend a wedding.

Curiously, it is said to be the nuptials of Tangled’s Rapunzel and Flynn. Then, at Elsa’s coronation, the Tangled pair can be seen for a split second as they walk into the festivities.

13. Back to the Future Part II

Back to the Future Part II — which once again featured Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly — only earned lukewarm reviews upon release. Still, the science-fiction flick did prove ground-breaking in the realm of special effects.

The moviemakers employed a motion control camera system that allowed the same actor to play multiple roles in the same frame without restricting the motion of the camera. It's something we take for granted these days.

Son of Spielberg

In 1989’s Back to the Future Part II, Marty McFly travels to the far-off future year of 2015. While there, he walks past a movie theater marquee advertising Jaws 19, a faux sequel to the 1975 original.

But that wasn’t the only noteworthy detail – the marquee listed Max Spielberg as the director. That's not just some made-up name; it's the name of the actual Jaws director Steven Spielberg’s real-life son.

12. Mad Max: Fury Road

Co-creator of the Mad Max franchise, George Miller, always hoped that Fury Road would hit theaters sooner than it did, but it spent several years in development. So the fourth installment of the franchise came out in 2015 – 30 years after its predecessor.

For Fury Road, actor Tom Hardy was chosen to replace Mel Gibson, who originated the role of Max Rockatansky but had aged out of the film. That didn't mean the filmmakers forgot about Gibson, though.

A familiar-looking jacket

Because Fury Road introduces a new actor as the titular character, Miller wanted to give a nod to the first three movies and their star, Mel Gibson. They did this through costume choice.

So, throughout the fourth movie, Hardy wears a jacket that’s a very close replica of the one that Gibson wore in the previous films. You'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference.

11. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Since the release of the first film in the franchise, Star Wars has become a worldwide phenomenon, to say the least. Creator George Lucas eventually handed the reins to Disney and director J.J. Abrams.

He then released The Force Awakens, the first of a new sequel trilogy. The film was a smash hit, raking in more than $2 billion internationally.

A family tribute

Through his many films, J.J. Abrams has made nods to his beloved grandfather, Kelvin, slipping his name into various scenes. Look out for the USS Kelvin in Star Trek, for instance. The Force Awakens is no exception.

At the start of the movie, Daisy Ridley’s Rey saves a droid named BB-8. She then directs him to a safe haven, which just so happens to be in the same direction as Kelvin Ridge.

10. The Birds

Often referred to as “the Master of Suspense,” director Alfred Hitchcock revolutionized moviemaking – especially the horror and thriller genres. He is one of the most recognizable directors ever, and that's no coincidence.

For his classic The Birds, Hitchcock asked his screenwriter, Evan Hunter, to use a 1952 story by Daphne du Maurier to inspire the script. The resulting flick sees birds attack people violently and unexpectedly over several days.

Master of cameos

Hitchcock rose to the same level of fame as the stars of his movies, due, in part, to the fact that he made small cameos in 39 of his 52 movies. The Birds features one of the very best.

In one scene, the director can be seen walking out of the pet store where the main characters meet. Even more noteworthy – the two terriers he's walking were his real-life pets, Geoffrey and Stanley.

9. King Kong

Naomi Watts, Jack Black, and Adrien Brody starred in the 2005 remake of the 1933 classic King Kong. The adventure movie busted its original budget of $150 million, costing $207 million to make in the end.

However, the production eventually raked in profits of $550 million, as well as three Academy Awards for sound editing, sound mixing, and visual effects.

Morse code message

In the movie, Jack Black plays Carl Denham, a film director responsible for getting hold of a map leading to Skull Island, where he and his crew eventually find King Kong. On his way there, though, he receives word that there’s a warrant out for his arrest via radio message.

But viewers well-versed in Morse code have realized that the taps announcing his arrest really said something entirely different – “Show me the monkey!” Of course, that's a play on the iconic Jerry Maguire line.

8. The Departed

The Departed takes viewers inside the Irish mob in Boston, where boss Jack Nicholson places Matt Damon as a mole inside the state police. At the same time, Leonardo DiCaprio’s cop goes undercover as part of the mob. Once they find out about one another, chaos ensues.

Spoiler alert – this Martin Scorsese-helmed mob movie has lots of deaths. This was much to the chagrin of the studio. “What they wanted was a franchise. It wasn’t about a moral issue of a person living or dying,” Scorsese told GQ in 2023.

X marks the spot

Scorsese got his way in the end, though. Yet while some of the details in the movie seem to come out of the blue, the director gives viewers clues as to which characters will suffer the ultimate fate.

Throughout the film, X’s can be seen around those who die — often in the background shortly before their last moments. One character who doesn’t die is shown in front of straight lines instead.

7. The Rocky Horror Picture Show

In the 1970s midnight movie screenings of quirky flicks became a popular activity in cities like New York. And in 1975 The Rocky Horror Picture Show arrived on the midnight movie scene.

Pretty soon after its release, the musical comedy quickly built up a huge cult following that still exists today. Its superfans have memorized practically every aspect of the flick. But here's a factoid you might not know!

Origins of the "Easter egg"

While filming was underway for The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the cast supposedly had an egg hunt on set – but the participants did not find at least three of the hidden prizes.

Those undiscovered eggs ended up in shots from the movie and some fans have sought to find them while watching the film. In fact, it’s said that this is where the term “Easter egg” comes from.

6. Titanic

In just over three hours, director and writer James Cameron retells the tale of the ill-fated passenger ship, the RMS Titanic. But the movie doesn’t just cover the vessel’s disastrous collision with an iceberg.

It also follows the romance between Rose DeWitt Bukater and Jack Dawson, passengers who defy their social classes to fall in love. Cameron always had a fascination with shipwrecks, which apparently led him to make Titanic in the first place.

Just like the real ship

In fact, he spent six months researching the ship’s story and passengers to ensure the flick was accurate. And viewers may have noticed one such factual inclusion – although the Titanic had four exhaust pipes, only three churned out smoke. This was true in real life and in the movie.

Furthermore, the ship appears in precisely two hours and forty minutes of the movie. In real life, that is exactly how long it took the ship to sink after it struck that fatal iceberg.

5. Catch Me If You Can

Work on the movie Catch Me If You Can began in 1980. But it didn’t truly get going until the production company co-owned by Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks, purchased the rights to the story.

The resulting feature film was released in 2002 and starred Leonardo DiCaprio as real-life con man Frank Abagnale, who supposedly forged big-money checks while posing as a pilot, doctor, and lawyer.

Will the real Frank Abagnale please stand up?

Leonardo DiCaprio, of course, has a famous face. But audiences may not have noticed that Catch Me If You Can also gave the real Frank Abagnale a cameo. Funnily enough, he stepped in to play one of the officers who arrested DiCaprio in the movie.

In the years since the movie's release, it's been reported that Abagnale made up much of his life story — making the film somewhat of a con, too. But at least the con man had this moment in the spotlight.

4. Toy Story

The much-loved Toy Story franchise has received a slew of accolades. The first installment introduced us to iconic characters Woody – the cowboy doll voiced by Tom Hanks – and Tim Allen’s Buzz Lightyear.

It earned three Oscar nods in the Best Original Score, Best Original Song, and Best Original Screenplay categories. It also contained a startling reference to another groundbreaking film — though one of a very different genre.

All work and no play

At one point, the heroes end up in the house of Andy’s neighbor and toy-mangler Sid. It's a relatively scary sequence that borrows from a classic horror movie to get the creepy atmosphere across.

Notably, Buzz and Woody traipse over a carpet that has the exact same pattern as the hotel from The Shining. Very sinister! We are sure that Stanley Kubrick would approve.

3. Back to the Future

In Back to the Future, Michael J. Fox stars as Marty McFly, a teenager who travels back in time with the help of his eccentric friend and inventor Doc Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd.

The pair meet up in the Twin Pines Mall early in the movie so Doc can show Marty his souped-up, time-traveling DeLorean. Pay close attention to the mall signage that appears there.

Count the pine trees

McFly ends up back in 1955 that night – although when he arrives, there’s no mall there but rather a pair of pine trees, from which the future mall derives its name.

At the end of the movie, though, when he has to escape the past in his DeLorean once more, he happens to run over one of the two evergreens. And then when he gets back to the future, the mall’s name has changed to Lone Pine Mall.

2. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Sixteen years after the release of the last Star Wars film in the original trilogy, the beloved franchise returned to theaters with its very first prequel. George Lucas waited until 1999 to release Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.

Indeed, this is supposedly because he wanted special effects advanced enough to tell the story as he envisioned. And he used these new techniques to fit in a rather jarring cameo.

E.T. meets Jar Jar Binks

It had to do with Lucas' longtime friendship with Steven Spielberg. In his film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Spielberg paid homage to one of Star Wars’ most famous faces when his alien went trick-or-treating and crossed paths with a kid dressed up as Lucas’ most famous alien, Yoda.

Rumor has it that Spielberg requested Lucas return the favor for a fun little crossover. So that’s why a trio of creatures resembling E.T. sit as part of the galactic senate in Episode I.

1. Jurassic World

Jurassic World revisits Isla Nublar, the same fictional island where Jurassic Park took place. Twenty-two years after the first film’s happenings, a theme park populated by cloned dinosaurs operates there – and, of course, erupts into chaos when the creatures get loose.

The film was a massive box-office success and it sits in fifth place on the list of the highest-grossing movies of all time. It also took strides to tie back to the original movie, often in subtle ways.

The lady in white

In Jurassic World, Bryce Dallas Howard stars as Claire Dearing, the park’s operations manager. And it turns out that her costuming is a constant nod to the first Jurassic Park.

She wears all white while at work, just as the original movie’s park director, Dr. John Hammond, did. The sequel is pretty big on showing how history can repeat itself.