Since many of us are gearing up to find literal Easter eggs this weekend, we started thinking about a few of our favorite hidden treats in film and television—those sneaky “blink and you’ll miss it” moments left by filmmakers for particularly patient and obsessive fans to gleefully discover. Even when they’re not particularly well hidden—like Stan Lee’s many cameos in Marvel films over the past two decades—each referential wink brings a knowing audience in on the thrill of the hunt.
Pixar has done an alarmingly cohesive job of planting Easter eggs throughout their work, occasionally teasing movies that were still in very early development (is that a Good Dinosaur reference in Monsters Inc?!). Perhaps they were inspired by parent company Disney, known for slipping “hidden Mickeys” everywhere that the brand touches, from films to design work in their theme parks. George Lucas is also a fan of self-referential Easter eggs, particularly between the Star Wars and Indiana Jones properties—the serial number of the sea-plane that Indy uses in Raiders of the Lost Ark has the serial number “OB-CPO” in homage to both Obi-Wan and C-3PO; Indy’s fedora can be spotted in the Clone Wars cartoon. And of course Star Wars references abound across all sorts of properties; easily-duped Stormtrooper TK-421 gets a nod in Boogie Nights, when Don Cheadle’s character Buck tries to upsell a stereo.
Not all Easter eggs are visual. The infamous “Wilhelm scream” first appeared as a stock sound in the 1950s, and now—thanks in large part to its use in Star Wars—has become sort of an industry in-joke. This supercut doesn’t even begin to cover its saturation in cinema:
With so many sprawling media properties and eagle-eyed fans, planting and finding Easter eggs is almost required now—not that we’re complaining. Everyone has their favorite, of course—or the ones they’re most proud of sniffing out. What are your best examples of the trend?