1. Nobody loves Navi
A Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time parody appears in the Powerpuff Girls episode “Child Fearing.” Mid-episode, the story cuts away to a game screen controlled by Townsville’s mayor: Navi the fairy repeatedly shouts “HEY” while Link blunders around, unable to understand her directions. After slamming into walls and being crushed by bricks, Link kills Navi, forcing the mayor to restart the game.
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Cavemen
If you look carefully at Robbie Sinclair’s room in the ’90s-era sitcom Dinosaurs, you’ll notice a TMNT-inspired poster that reads “Teenage Mutant Ninja Cavemen.” Which, by the way, is a brilliant superhero concept for an audience of suburban dinosaurs.
3. Ace Attorney, Haruhi Suzumiya
The first season of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya included an homage to Capcom’s Ace Attorney game series. While visiting an island villa, Haruhi and crew are confronted with a murder mystery. During the scene where the characters reveal their solution to the island’s residents, their body movements mirror Phoenix Wright’s and Miles Edgeworth’s courtroom game sprites. Pictured above is Haruhi imitating Phoenix’s iconic “OBJECTION!” pose. You can watch an amusing mashup of the sequence set to the Ace Attorney soundtrack here.
6. The Polar Express had a flux capacitor
Robert Zemeckis directed both Back to the Future and the adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg’s Polar Express, so it’s not entirely surprising that the Delorean’s flux capacitator makes an appearance in the train’s cab. It briefly can be seen in the scene where Smokey and Steamer lose control of the train on the ice.
7. The Serenity still flies!
The 2003 miniseries Battlestar Galactica shared a special effect company with Joss Whedon’s prematurely-cancelled cult favorite, Firefly. This enabled the crew of The Serenity to keep flying through the skies of the Twelve Colonies! If you look carefully at the sky sixteen minutes into the Battlestar Galactica pilot, you can see The Serenity on the left-hand side of the screen. A relevant screenshot from Battlestar Galactica is pictured above, and an image of The Serenity, for comparison purposes, below.
8. Pac Man lives in the Tron grid
In the scene following the memorable light cycle sequence in the original Tron movie there’s a moment when Lieutenant Sark pauses to study the game grid. If you look carefully, you’ll notice Pac-Man hanging out on the right side of the grid.
9. A delegation of E.T.s
A delegation of aliens that resemble E.T. from Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial appear in the senate hearing scene in Star Wars: The Phantom Menance. George Lucas was returning a favor with this cameo, since Spielberg included a reference to Yoda in E.T.
10. Mystery Science Theater 3000 in Animaniacs
The Animaniacs short “Potty Emergency” begins with a sequence of a space woman fleeing from a murderous alien. At one point, the woman opens a pair of windows to scream for help; the characters “MST3K” appear above this window. Moments later, the scene shifts to a movie theater. It turns out that the Warner siblings are watching a bad science fiction film, which is the basic premise of every episode of the comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000.
11. Ancient Egyptian droids
In Raiders of the Lost Ark Indiana Jones descends into the Well of the Souls to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant. If you look very carefully at the room, you’ll see that CP30 and R2D2 from Star Wars appear as hieroglyphs on a column and as part of a mural on the wall.
12. Millenium Falcon in the Blade Runner skyline
A model of Han Solo’s ship, the Millenium Falcon, was used to create the skyline of a futuristic Los Angeles in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. The dark sets make it hard to pick out the Millenium Falcon, which is outlined in green in the above images. George Lucas reciprocated by including police spinners from Blade Runner in The Phantom Menace. You can read more about the Star Wars/Blade Runner references here.