Ready Player One: 101 References You Might Have Missed
Movies . Content . 15 Minutes . Luke Brown
By now, you've hopefully logged into the Oasis and enjoyed your first viewing of Ready Player One, now available on demand.
Considering how chock full of cameos, Easter eggs, and secrets the film is, it probably won't be the last the time you check out Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the Ernest Cline novel. To help you keep track of everything happening on screen - and believe us, there's a lot happening - we've put together this handy guide of 101 different references and winks to pop culture's past and present. Not only will you be amazed at how much they were able to pack into every inch of the screen, but you'll also be able to amaze all your friends with your expert knowledge of all the eye candy. Are you ready, player one? Let’s go!
Be forewarned, what you read below could be considered SPOILERS if you somehow haven't seen the film before reading this handy guide. We're running down all the references in order of appearance, so you'll be able to track them with ease, too.
Our guide starts just about the moment Wade "Parzival" Watts logs into his custom rig on the outskirts of the Columbus Stacks. From the millisecond Parzival materializes, the references start flooding the screen.
The Oasis lobby area is filled with hundreds of avatars for all the players currently logged in. They range from custom characters like Wade's to memorable creatures and notable faces from cinema, comic, and gaming history like Ray Harryhausen's Cyclops from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.
2. Wolfman, Frankenstein's Monster
3. The Flash
Barry Allen, also known as the DC Comics superhero The Flash, quickly changes into his bright red costume after hearing what the Wolfman has to say.
Throughout the movie there are a lot of repeat customers, and you'll see familiar faces throughout the Oasis' various portals as Wade's journey expands from challenge to challenge. Key among them are the classic Nintendo-era heroes, The Battletoads. Zitz, Rash, and Pimple are cult-classic heroes, and this isn't the last you'll see them in the film.
5. Battleborn Characters
Like the Battletoads, Gearbox Software's first-person shooter Battleborn has characters hidden throughout the Oasis. Though the game isn't active anymore, you'll be able to spot the avatars based on Attikus, Ambra, El Dragon, and Miko all across the film.
When it comes to law and order, accept no substitutes for OCP's resident cyborg enforcer, Robocop. This is about the only time he's visible in the movie, but this is far from the last reference to Paul Verhoeven's masterpiece.
7. Marvin the Martian
Since Warner Bros. is the studio where Ready Player One was developed, the creative team behind the movie had access to just about any and every character in the studio's wealthy library. That includes the animation side, and how Looney Tunes' Marvin the Martian made it into the Oasis.
8. Tracer and Sonic the Hedgehog
As Wade wanders, you'll notice speedy characters like Overwatch's Tracer and Sonic the Hedgehog waiting in line to use one of the many transportation portals throughout the lobby.
9. Sanrio Characters
Though they may not be as imposing or tall as most of the other avatars, there's no missing the likes of Hello Kitty and her other cute friends wandering the world.
Once Wade finishes explaining what the Oasis is, he reaches out to his friend Aech to see what he's* up to and where he is in the massive online galaxy. At this point in the film, Aech is out on a deathmatch killing spree on Planet Doom.
10. Joust Ostriches and Ultrabot Scorpions
Joust was an arcade game that played a heavy role in the Ready Player One novel, and though it doesn't have as large a presence in the film, Spielberg made sure to include the ostriches from the game in some of the film's bigger battles. The scorpion army going head-to-head with the ostriches is from the PC game Ultrabot.
11. Freddy Krueger
The man of a million nightmares himself can't stop from being blown into a pile of coins when Aech is tearing through the trenches.
12. Duke Nukem
The same goes for Duke Nukem, star of the similarly titled raunchy video game.
Daito and Sho are throwing down with a handful of mysterious characters, and Aech zooms in with his rifle to spot Scorpion from the ultra-violent arcade smash, Mortal Kombat.
Before he can get a hit in on either Sho or Daito, the DC Comics villain Deadshot finds himself in Aech's sights as well.
15. EM-1 Railgun
Speaking of Aech's gun, it just so happens to be the EM-1 Railgun from the Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Eraser. That's a deep cut.
16. E. Honda, Chun Li
With all the chaos ensuing as hundreds of players attempt to scale the pyramid to get their hands on the glove artifact, you might miss the Street Fighter world heroes E. Honda and Chun-Li trying their best to come out on top. Sadly, they fail.
17. Jim Raynor
Jim Raynor has a heck of a suit of armor, and it comes in handy when battling against the Zerg hordes in the Blizzard game, Starcraft. Sadly, all the best armor in the virtual world can't stop Wade's uncle from being eliminated.
18. Jason Vorhees
The hockey-masked killer is far from Camp Crystal Lake on Planet Doom, and that's probably why he dies so easily when Sho and Daito catch up with him.
Oasis Lobby Revisited
Back in the Oasis lobby, Wade continues explaining the history of the Oasis, and as he does a classic walk and talk, the references keep piling up.
19. Raphael and Leonardo
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles appear a few different times in the film, and sadly they're the versions from Michael Bay's recent reboot of the film franchise. At least they made the cut for cameos though.
20. "Doc" Brown
The number of references to Back to the Future shouldn't surprise anyone who read the book before seeing the movie, but they all start here with the appearance of Dr. Emmet Brown walking behind Parzival.
21. MK-VI Photon Torpedo
During John Halliday's "funeral," he's surrounded by Star Trek paraphernalia, but it's the casket made from the MK-VI photon torpedo that stands out the most. It's the same one Spock was buried in at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Now it's finally time to get to the good stuff: the action. The first key challenge is a massive race through a faux-New York called Liberty Island. This race is filled with little nods to pop culture, and if you blink, you might miss all of them.
The starting block for this difficult race is mostly filled with stock cars from Innovative Online Industries, but amidst the rabble you can find some choice vehicles like Mad Max's 1973 Ford Falcon, also known as the Interceptor.
23. The Batmobile
Just past Mad Max's whip, you'll spot the unmistakable design of the Batmobile from the 1966 television series. Yes, there is a Batman driving it, but it's not the Adam West version; it's a Batman from the video game Arkham Knight.
24. Formula 1 Car
Now it might seem that this could be just any old open-wheel race car, but given the movie's preference for jamming in as many Easter eggs as possible, it's clear that this is actually the Pole Position race car.
25. Mach 5
Along with all those other fancy rides, you'll also spot a modernized version of Speed Racer's Mach 5 racecar. Not only is it a nod to the old animated show, it's also Daito's signature car.
26. A-Team Van
It's hard not to notice the A-Team's van just towering over most of the other vehicles at the starting line.
Like Chun-Li and E. Honda, Street Fighter's Ryu also makes an appearance wandering through the parked cars, though it's not clear just which of the cars in the race he ends up driving.
The unmistakable red and white color scheme of the 1958 Plymouth Fury, best known as the killer car Christine from Stephen King's terrifying novel.
29. Big Foot
At the front of the line, we're introduced to Aech's signature vehicle, the monster truck Big Foot.
Parzival's DeLorean from Back to the Future finally makes a showing, and you can see that he's equipped the stainless steel time machine with KITT from Knight Rider. Sadly, KITT is never used outside of the flashing red lights in the grill.
31. Kaneda’s Bike
The mysterious and hardcore Art3mis rolls up next to Parzival on her version of Kaneda's bike from the smash anime film, Akira. Her stickers are a bit more personalized than Kaneda's though, giving us the hint she likes The Greatest American Hero, Wonder Woman, and Atari.
32. Jack Burton’s Truck
The race is fast and furious, and full of dangerous obstacles like a jackknifing version of Jack Burton's Pork Chop Express from Big Trouble in Little China.
33. Jack Slater III
As the race tears through Chinatown, you can spot a movie theater playing Jack Slater III, a nod to the '90s action comedy, Last Action Hero.
34. Delta City Billboard
Just as Aech blows out the tire on Big Foot, you can spot a billboard in the background for Delta City, the home of Robocop.
35. Ace Chemicals
When Parzival yanks Art3mis off her motorcycle before she can be grabbed by King Kong, you can notice Ace Chemicals in the background. The plant is known for being the place where the Joker was created.
36. 1977 Pontiac Firebird
Though it doesn't appear in this first race portion, Sho's personal vehicle can be spotted during a later race. The 1977 Firebird is best known for being the car Burt Reynolds drove in Smokey and the Bandit.
After saving Art3mis at the expense of her losing her motorcycle to Kong's grip, Parzival takes her to Aech's shop to get the futuristic vehicle fixed. Though this scene isn't nearly as long as most others in the film, it's just as jam-packed with cameos.
37. Pee-Wee Herman’s Bike
As the trio enter the shop, you can spot the bicycle Pee-Wee Herman spent a whole movie tracking down just behind them.
38. Colonial Viper
The signature ship of the original Battlestar Galactica television series is hanging up inside the large space behind the Iron Giant.
If you've seen Spaceballs, you know that the heroes fly around in a 1986 Winnebago Chieftain 33 that Lone Star tricked out to his exact specifications.
Down beneath the Viper, you'll spot the villainous machine of Robocop, ED-209. Thankfully it's disabled.
41. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder
The iconic red Ferrari from Ferris Bueller's Day Off can be spotted just beside ED-209.
42. Swordfish II
Though the actual Swordfish II from Cowboy Bebop is much, much larger, this shrunken down version is still recognizable as the main ship from the beloved anime.
43. Pod Ship
One of the pods from 2001: A Space Odyssey can be seen hanging up next to the Colonial Viper.
44. PO-024 Mech
Though it is a bit obscured by shadow and the Eagle-5, the PO-024 Mech from the animated series Exo-Squad also has a home in Aech's shop.
Finally, you can spot Buck Rogers' ship from the '80s television series hanging in the background as Aech, Parzival, and Art3mis chat about Halliday's challenges.
Once Parzival has the clue he needs to win the race, he wins a whole bunch of money and heads to the avatar shop to buy some items he thinks will help him later on his crusade. Just about everything we see in this sequence will come back in one way or another in the final fight.
46. Street Fighter Moves
One of the first shop options is the Street Fighter booth, which offers a range of arcade moves from Ryu including the hurricane kick and the dragon punch.
47. Overwatch Equipment
Tracer once again makes an appearance, though this time she's more of a model for her guns and clothing, which are on sale in the shop.
48. Borderlands CL4P-TP
There's a lot of video game equipment for sale in the shop, including the robot assistant from Borderlands, CL4P-TP (pronounced Claptrap).
49. Halo Spartan Equipment
If you ever wanted to dress up like Master Chief, or wield any of the awesome guns from Microsoft's Halo franchise, this shop has them all.
50. Holy Hand Grenade
Straight out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail comes the Holy Hand Grenade. When you absolutely, positively must explode every person in the room, there's no better option.
51. Zemeckis Cube
Named after Robert Zemeckis, writer and director of Back to the Future, the Zemeckis Cube is a riff on the Rubik's Cube puzzle that exploded into popularity in the '80s.
52. Madballs, Chucky, Peltzer Peeler Juicer (Gremlins), and More
The handheld shop where Parzival picks up the Holy Hand Grenade also has a number of other items for sale that he passes up like a Madball of Dust Brain, a Chucky doll from Child's Play, the Peltzer Peeler Juicer from Gremlins, and the Needler from Halo.
For the first time in the film we get to see what Nolan Sorrento looks like when he logs into the Oasis (a cheap Superman), and we also meet his bounty hunter accomplice, I-Rok. He's kind of a jerk.
53. Martian Ship
Sorrento teleports directly to the strange, unnamed location right beneath a martian ship from the sci-fi classic, War of the Worlds.
54. Duke Nukem Pistols
The pile of loot left behind by I-Rok's latest conquest includes a number of notable items, including the signature pistols of Duke Nukem.
55. Sledge’s Shotgun
Borderlands gets another reference here, as the big yellow shotgun that's seen in the pile is the main weapon of Bandit leader, Sledge in Borderlands 2.
56. Perseus’ Shield
Clash of the Titans is a cult-classic fantasy film of the '80s, so you knew it was going to get referenced at some point in Ready Player One. Rather than something immediately obvious however, the inclusion of Perseus's shield is a more subtle nod to the film.
57. Gremlins Basket
The Orb of Osuvox is the item Sorrento hired I-Rok to obtain, and it looks like its previous owner kept it in the same wicker basket the mogwai were kept in when they were sold to Billy in Gremlins.
58. Orb of Osuvox
The Orb itself isn't a reference, though the interior is based on the design of a 20-sided die typically used in games like Dungeons and Dragons. Additionally, the activation spell is pulled from the movie Excalibur.
Halliday Journals Visit
After winning the first challenge, Parzival heads back to the hall of records of Halliday's past to try and figure out what the second clue requires.
59. Arkham Knight and Batgirl
Just as Parzival enters, the Arkham Knight from Batman: Arkham Knight can be seen exiting the building. Additionally, Batgirl (from the same game) makes her first appearance. She also shows up later during the battle in Sector 14.
The ghost with the most is the first person to recognize Parzival as he arrives.
61. Supergirl and Atrocitus
About a dozen different characters try to get selfies with Parzival, including the Injustice 2 versions of Supergirl and Atrocitus.
62. Lara Croft
The same goes for the star of the Tomb Raider franchise. Lara Croft appears a few times in the film, but this is her most visible moment.
Surrounded by adoring fans, Parzival is only saved from the masses by Goro, the four-armed fighter from Mortal Kombat. It also happens to make a great disguise for Art3mis.
64. Clark Kent Glasses
Art3mis teaches Parzival about disguising himself when in public now that he's famous, and uses Clark Kent glasses as an example. However, not only are the glasses a cute nod to the alter ego of Superman, but they also do turn Parzival into an identical recreation of Christopher Reeve from the first Superman movie.
Before heading out on his date with Art3mis, Parzival stops by Aech's for some advice. It doesn't quite go as he planned, but at least there are some cool Easter eggs around.
65. Cocktails and Dreams Sign
Right when the scene begins, you can spot a neon sign for Cocktails and Dreams, the name of the fictional bar in the Tom Cruise film Cocktail.
66. Pac-Man Bar Table
If you didn't already think Aech had great taste thanks to his collection of vehicles, this classic bar table version of Pac-Man seals the deal.
67. Save Ferris Poster
Plastered on the side of Aech's stereo system is a "Save Ferris" poster, a reference to Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
68. Kermit the Frog puppet
Over by the couch, there's a pile of unrecognizable stuff, save for the puppet of Kermit the Frog.
69. Goldie Wilson/Wil Wheaton Poster
Another reference to Back to the Future, Aech has a poster of Goldie Wilson's political campaign, as well as a version that parodies the film with a version featuring Wil Wheaton, best known as Wesley on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
70. Mattel Hoverboard
By the steps, you can also notice the hot pink color of the hoverboard Mattel designed for Back to the Future II.
It's time for Parzival and Art3mis to have their date night, and there's no better place than the hottest dance club in Oasis.
71. Imperial Shuttle Tydirium
On the way into the Distracted Globe, there's a lengthy line of ships flying to the club. It's hard to miss the distinctive three-wing profile of the ship Luke, Leia, and Han flew to Endor in Return of the Jedi.
Though not quite as large and obvious as the Tydirium, you can see the Star Wars fighter's silhouette rather clearly against the starfield.
The main ship from the television series Firefly can be seen flying in from up on high into the back of the line. It also makes a showing during the final fight, dropping Daito off into the fray.
74. Bartenders in Devo Hats
The bartenders at the Distracted Globe may not be actual members of the band Devo, but they are wearing the band's geometric hats nonetheless.
75. Harley Quinn
The Arkham Knight version of Harley Quinn can be seen hanging with two other female avatars in the booth when I-Rok arrives at the club.
76. M41A Pulse Rifle
Once the members of IOI roll into the club to try and capture Parzival, Art3mis whips out her personal favorite weapon, the M41A Pulse Rifle the Colonial Marines used in Aliens.
77. The Lawgiver
Once her assault rifle is out of ammunition, Art3mis quickly switches to the Lawgiver, the magnificent pistol used by Judge Dredd.
Parzival isn't without weapons of his own, and whips out an Auto-9, the same pistol Robocop uses, when the bullets start flying.
79. Lazer Tag Pistol
When it's time to go into dual-wield action, Parzival also draws his custom Lazer Tag pistol, which is based on the handheld from the '80s Lazer Tag game.
80. Halo Pistol
Art3mis is full of guns it would appear, and pulls out the Magnum Pistol from Halo to go hand-in-hand with the Lawgiver when throwing down with IOI.
The Shining Challenge
81. This one is pretty self-explanatory. All the references included here are directly from the Stanley Kubrick film, The Shining. The one not-so-obvious reference is the photo of John and Kira that puts them in the Overlook in place of Jack Torrence.
Sector 14 Challenge
This is it kids. It's the final countdown. Sector 14 is where all the action happens during the massive third act battle. It's also got more references than you can count on two hands times two.
82. Sector 14
The location itself is an Easter egg, as the clue needed to figure out where the final challenge takes place requires players to know the ultimate answer (42, as taken from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) divided by the magic number (three, as taken from Schoolhouse Rock).
83. Sorrento Kidnapping
Just before the big battle, Parzival, Daito, Sho, and Aech manage to hack into Sorrento's feed, making it appear as if he's been taken hostage. Though Sorrento doesn't catch that both Daito's and Wade's eyes don't have natural light reflections, fans of Blade Runner no doubt did. The orange hue in their eyes was a key visual signal in Ridley Scott's movie about who was a Replicant (fake) and who was human (real).
84. Bloodrayne, Cassie Cage
Parzival calls for the help of just about every single Oasis user in stopping Sorrento and IOI from winning the prize, and right at the front of the charge are Rayne from the action game Bloodrayne, and Cassie Cage from Mortal Kombat.
Just off to the left of Bloodrayne and Cassie you can see Catwoman, only instead of appearing in her Arkham Knight clothing like almost every other Batman character in the movie, she's in her leather suit from Batman Returns.
86. Spike Gremlin
If you take a second to search the ground by so many of the other avatars' feet, you'll notice a bunch of Gremlins throughout the charge, including Spike.
Todd McFarlane's massively caped anti-hero also appears as an avatar heading into battle in Sector 14.
It's hard to believe that we made it almost to the end of the film and still hadn't seen a He-Man reference (outside of Wade's lunchbox at the start of the film). Here he can be seen side by side with Spawn, and dozens of others, charging into war.
Oddly enough, the Joker in Sector 14 doesn't appear to be from any given point of reference in the character's history, and is a wholly new design just for Ready Player One.
He's a little hard to see thanks to the size of Spawn's cape, but Aquaman can be seen hustling through the snow to attack the castle in Sector 14.
91. Voltron Lions
Once the IOI forces start engaging with the "rebels," the camera zooms way out to show the scope of the fight. You can see several of the lion mechs that build Voltron stomping through the snowy plains.
92. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
After getting a glimpse at Leo and Raph earlier, now we get to see Michelangelo and Donatello too, and their real-world counterparts fighting in the streets.
93. Halo Rocket Launcher
As he drives his DeLorean through the chaos, Parzival conjures the rocket launcher from Halo to fire at the IOI mech where Art3mis has perched. After he blows it up, she crashes through his windshield.
94. Duke Nukem Railgun
With chaos around them growing more frantic the closer they get to the castle, Parzival and Art3mis keep calling for weapons from the crowd. The one that's easiest to attribute is the Railgun from Duke Nukem.
95. Gundamn RX-78-2
After Sorrento summons Mecha Godzilla, it looks like the High Five don't have much of a chance to win. Then Daito shows up in a Gundam RX-78-2 to even the odds.
96. Gears of War Lancer
When I-Rok has Art3mis pinned down, she cycles through a few familiar weapons, and then pulls out a Lancer from the game Gears of War.
97. The Glaive
I-Rok has Parzival and Sho on the ropes after shooting out the Iron Giant's hands, but Sho manages to toss the Glaive from Krull just as I-Rok needs to reload, severing his arm in the process.
98. Thumbs Up
When Aech and the Iron Giant fall into the pit of lava, the Giant gives a thumbs up just like the T-800 at the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
99. Battlestar Galactica Blaster
Parzival realizes Art3mis is in immediate danger while she's in the IOI War Room, and shoots her with the blaster from Battlestar Galactica to save her from being found out by Sorrento.
When Sorrento and Parzival get into their one-on-one fight, Parzival summons a hadouken (a fireball attack) from Street Fighter to even the odds.
101. I-Rok's Goods
The explosion of the Catalyst catches up with I-Rok before he can reach the warp portal, and as he blows up he releases all the goods he acquired in the Oasis including Dungeons & Dragons manuals, Scarface and Pee-Wee's Playhouse VHS tapes, bottles of booze, and a whole lot more.
Wade and Samantha's Apartment
Now that the world is safe from evil corporations like IOI, Wade and Samantha settle down outside of the Oasis. Throughout their apartment you can see a bunch of nerdy collectibles like a Klingon Bat’leth, arcade machines for Joust and Space Invaders, the Lost in Space Robot, and a replica R2-D2 by the television.
Welp – that's just about every single reference in the film that wasn't overtly pointed out by characters in the movie. Think you found a few we missed? Then you're already on your way to being a great Gunter in your own right.
*We know Aech is actually a woman playing in the Oasis with a male avatar, but since Helen presents as male in the Oasis, that's how we're going to describe Aech in this guide.