Much like Easter Eggs, the "City of" franchise is filled with slang and references to outside material. Some times these take the name of a zone, or an issue update. Other times a contact will be a wink toward one of the Developers' favorite shows or games. While these may seem similar to Easter Eggs, they're usually not hidden, just requiring knowledge of the outside material.
It has long been believed that City of Heroes Issues are traditionally named after chapters in various books. However, Matt "Positron" Miller corrected this misconception in a City Scoop interview on September 21, 2007. He said, "The names of Issues are NOT chapters of novels. Never have been, never will be. The fact that the users have found novel chapter titles that match, or are similar to, our Issue names is a testament to the tenacity of our users. I won't say we haven't been amused by this, because we have, but we don't go out of our way to find a chapter title that matches our issue in theme and content. We name the issue something cool, that's it."
The belief that issue names were taken from book chapter titles was based on such coincidences as:
- Issue 1: Through The Looking Glass was believed to be named for the sequel to Alice in Wonderland Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There.
- Issue 2: A Shadow of the Past was believed to be named for chapter 2 of The Two Towers
- Issue 3: A Council of War was believed to be named for chapter 12 of Treasure Island
- Issue 4: The Colosseum was believed to be named for chapter 34 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Other issue titles have real-world or popular culture references as well:
- Issue 6: Along Came A Spider is named for a line in the "Little Miss Muffet" nursery rhyme.
- Issue 8: To Protect And Serve is named for the Los Angeles Police Department's motto.
- Issue 11: A Stitch In Time refers to the proverb "a stitch in time saves nine," though its interpretation is quite different.
- Issue 13: Power And Responsibility is named for the dying words of Spiderman's Uncle Ben: "With great power comes great responsibility."
- The exploration badge, Around the Bendis, is likely named after Brian Michael Bendis, a comic book writer best known for the cop/superhero series, Powers, and work on various Marvel titles.
- The exploration badge, Doc Whedon, is likely a reference to Joss Whedon, a writer best known for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise. Whedon has also been a comic book writer, working most recently on Astonishing X-Men for Marvel comics. The "Doc" portion is reference to Doc, a another character in Whedon's Buffy series.
- The achievement badge, Malleus, seems to refer to the Malleus Maleficarum.
- The exploration badge, Ace, mentions that the hero is named Mustang. The text has been changed at some point from the hero being named Corsair, possibly due to a naming conflict with the Marvel Comics character Corsair. Both names come from American fighters which saw considerable action during WWII in the Pacific theater, the P-51 Mustang and the Vought Corsair.
- The exploration badge, Newsman, text reads "The Theodore Knight building was home to many Super Groups in the years before the Rikti War." Theodore "Ted" Knight was the actor who played anchorman Ted Baxter on the "Mary Tyler Moore" show, as well as the narrator for the "Superfriends" TV show. The Baxter Building was the original home of the Fantastic Four. Ted Knight is also the name of DC Comics superhero Starman.
- The PvP badge, Back from the Future, is a reference to the movie Back to the Future.
- The event badge, Evil's Resident, is a reference to the popular zombie genre video game/movie franchise, Resident Evil.
- The accolade badge, Atlas Shrugged, is a reference to the famous philosophical novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
- The accolade badge, Time Lord, is likely a reference to the Time Lords (the species to which The Doctor belongs) of the British science fiction television series, Doctor Who.
- The achievement badge Dam Hero may be a reference to an episode of the TV series Firefly, where Mal describes himself and his crew as "Big Damn Heroes."
Story Arcs and Missions
Acquire Blood of Mu
In the Forging the Blackwand story arc, Archmage Tarixus states "The blood, you see, is compulsory." in the briefing of the Acquire Blood of Mu. This is a reference to a quote by The Player in the play/film Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead.
In the City of Villains Tutorial, you must rescue the Arachnos Operative Jenkins. This is often believed to be a reference to the infamous World of Warcraft character Leeroy Jenkins. This might also be a reference to Jeff Jenkins, one of the Developers who has had his named used similarly in-game for other NPCs.
Checkout the Cargo Ship
During the Checkout the Cargo Ship mission from The Magic Man story arc from Mercedes Sheldon, one of the Tsoo comments "You move like a pregnant yak!". This is a quote from Chiun, a character from Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.
The Clockwork Captive
In The Clockwork Captive story arc, during the Rescue the kidnapping victim before the Clockwork can move him mission, a note can be found with 'CVX-1701 junction RVB-0070' written on it. The registry number for the starship Enterprise from the Star Trek TV and movies series is NCC-1701.
Gather [Color] Kora Fruit and Defeat the Guardians in a [Size] Cave
NPC Dr. Ada Huxley states, "Kora fruit [..] They act just like the most powerful kinds of inspirations", emphasising their drug-like effects.
Soma is also a leafless East Indian vine; its sour milky juice used to make an intoxicating and sacred drink which is used in rituals. This might explain the reason why the Soldiers of Rularuu guard Kora fruit as they do, yet do not consume it - perhaps it is sacred to them.
In the mission to retrieve the computer information from the 5th column base, one of the 5th Column soldiers can be overheard saying, "But, the robots are completely cloaked in a hard light hologram." The hard light hologram is a reference to Arnold Rimmer, a character in the television series Red Dwarf.
- More importantly, this is an in-joke about how rescuable NPCs would sometimes be replaced by 5th Column Mekmen. Sadly, this line was put in the same issue that broke that bug. Now NPCs are replaced by Col. Burkholder.
Locate Crate 878-932
Mass Duplicity (Anton Sampson)
In the Mass Duplicity arc from Anton Sampson, there are two businesses named Lovewest and Gordonless that you visit during the mission. This is a reference to the Wild Wild West's Jim West, Artemis Gordon and the mad genius villain Doctor Loveless. In the 1990s movie version of Wild Wild West, Dr. Loveless made extensive use of "steampunk" technology similar to that used by Nemesis.
Operation Skyhook Story Arc
The story arc from Lt. Chalmers is a reference to the code name for the Rebel Alliance's operations regarding the Death Star from the Star Wars movies. The operation shares the name Operation Skyhook.
Project: World Wide Red
Rescue Daniel Hawthorn
- A 35-40 hero mission has you rescuing doctors the Rikti kidnapped, as they are dying from chicken pox. This whole fragment is a reference to The War of the Worlds where the undefeated aliens succumb en masse to common cold.
Retake your Cloning Facility! (Leonard)
The 5th Column will say "Fire! Fire everything!" This might be a reference to the movie "Star Trek" which was released not too long before the mission came out. In the movie, Nero says a similar line.
Save firm from Devouring Earth
In Jenny Firkins' arc, you have to save lawyers from the law office called Wolffe, Wolffe & Wolffe. In Angelthe law office is named Wolfram & Hart and is often mentioned as "The Wolf, the Ram and the Hart". Alternately, it may be a reference to the comic book "Wolff and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre".
The Sky Is Falling
In the Admiral Sutter Task Force, the admiral's recon fleet in the first mission consists of four Arleigh Burke class missile destroyers. This a real class of US Navy warship; in fact, the four vessels in the mission are all real ships of this class:
Steal a Goldbrickers Rocket pack
In Steal a Goldbrickers Rocket pack story arc, the leader of the Goldbrickers is "The Torch". Furthermore, you deliver the rocket pack to "Dr. Flammond". Both of these are references to the movie Top Secret!.
Stop attackers in Arachnos lab
- The mission's boss, a Zeus Titan named Enforcer-39 makes a reference to the Robocop movie. ("Surrender, ! You have five seconds to comply! Three! Two! One! I am now authorized to use lethal force!")
The entire contact is one great reference to many different things, amongst them:
- "The Simpsons" (First mission of The TV Report)
- "Mission Impossible" (Second mission of The TV Report)
- "Deep Space Nine"/"Babylon 5" (Last mission of The TV Report)
- The song "Video killed the Radio Star" (Video Killed the Radio arc)
- "The Outer Limits" ("A strange test pattern flashes across the screen, establishing control over the horizontal and the vertical, then the screen returns to normal")
- "The Prisoner" (The "Help Televison" Mission)
- "Pokemon" (The mission that gives the "Couch Potato" badge)
- "The X-Files" (The "Recover Report on Malta" Mission)
Time After Time (Captain Mako)
The first mission of this story arc has elements of Planet of the Apes, (humans being treated as inferior by creatures that they treated as inferior) and even shares some of the more memorable lines.
Welcome to Praetoria
During the introductory mission from Officer Flint (Praetorian) in Precinct Five he introduces you to Reese. Reese says, "I am a Top Dog in Praetor White's Powers Division. That means I'm famous, well known, and respected." Famous, Well Known and Respected are adjective status traits used in White Wolf's Vampire: the Masquerade World of Darkness live-action role-playing game (Mind's Eye Theatre, Laws of the Night 3rd. edition) and are automatically conferred by holding the position of Prince in the Camarilla.
Police Band Missions
- Rescue Ayn Race - The text states that you must rescue novelist Ayn Race. This may be a reference to the author Anne Rice who wrote Interview with the Vampire. Reference is made in the mission text that the supernatural elements of her novel are "too real" to be made up.
- The name also may refer to Ayn Rand, or perhaps a mixture of the two.
- Rescue Betty Jo Bialaski - Betty Jo is a character in Firesign Theatre's "Nick Danger" skit. When rescued, she says, "Just call me Nancy, everyone does."
- This mission also appears as "Rescue Audrey Farber", an alias for Betty Jo Bialaski.
- Based on the skit, an additional mission might appear as "Rescue Melanie Haber", but this has not yet been attested.
- Rescue Dr. Frank N. Scott - When you reach the hostage, the following dialog happens:
- Wing Raider: We already know that the ritual begins with a jump to the left.
- Dr. Frank N. Scott: I won't tell you a thing.
- Assault Jump Bot: Yes, and then a step to the right.
When aggroed, they yell:
- Wing Raider: Dr. Scott! Hero Name!
- Dr. Frank N. Scott: Hero Name!
- Assault Jump Bot: Hero Name! Dr. Scott!
And when rescued, the hostage says:
- Dr. Frank N. Scott: If they'd pried that ritual from me, it could have opened a time warp, or worse!
The entire exchange is a reference to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which includes a Dr. Frank N. Furter, a Dr. Everett Scott, and a song called Time Warp with the lyrics "It's just a jump to the left / And then a step to the right", as well as a scene with characters calling each other's names.
- Rescue Dr. Nivenah Sing - Dr. Sing, of Datalore Labs, is likely named after Dr. Noonien Soong, creator of androids Data and Lore, from Star Trek.
- Rescue Dr. Philo - The text states that the Engineer for UHF station 62 was kidnapped. The manager George reported him missing. This is a reference to the "Weird Al" Yankovic movie UHF Incidentally, when the doctor is led to the exit, he comments, "My work here is done", which is the same line the doctor uttered in his last scene in UHF.
- Rescue Dr. Priddy - The text states that you must rescue Dr. Priddy who is developing the "Oberation Oscillthruster". This is a reference to the movie The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension where Ellen Barkin plays the character "Penny Priddy". In the movie Dr. Buckaroo Banzai is developing the "Oscillation Overthruster".
- Rescue Dr. Stephen Fayte - The mission description says, "Due to random circumstances of birth, he's often mistaken for one of the most powerful sorcerers in the world. However, he's really just a gifted surgeon, and nothing more. When his attackers are engaged: the following conversation takes place:
- Attacker 1: We were wrong! He's just a gifted surgeon, and nothing more!
- Dr. Stephen Fayte: Truly, I am merely a gifted surgeon, and nothing more.
- Attacker 2: You fool! He's merely a gifted surgeon, and nothing more!
- Attacker 1: We must attack the hero and completely ignore Dr. Stephen Fayte!
- Dr. Stephen Fayte: Ah. Well, I'll just let you handle this.
- Attacker 2: Yes, as he is merely a surgeon and nothing more, he is no threat to us.
- When the attackers are defeated, Dr. Fayte says the following:
- Dr. Stephen Fayte: That was a timely extraction from imminent peril, as I am merely a surgeon and nothing more.
- When Dr. Fayte is rescued, he repeats one more time:
- Dr. Stephen Fayte: Thank you. You really saved me, as I am only a gifted surgeon, and nothing more.
- The name "Stephen Fayte" is amalgam to two popular comic book characters, Doctor Strange and Doctor Fate. Both are powerful sorcerers with the ability to control others. Dr. Stephen Strange in particular has the power to hypnotize others to his will, and is a gifted neurosurgeon.
- Rescue Dr. Zhondervan - This appears to be a reference to Zondervan, a Christian publishing company most famous publishing the New International Version of the Bible.
- In fact, neither of co-founder Pat Zondervan's sons have continued the family business and one of them is a doctor, though a psychiatrist.
- Rescue Jake Emmet - Jake Emmet is a computer game designer who, it is feared, may have made some super-powered beings mad with his latest computer game. This is an obvious reference to City of Heroes'/Villains' former lead designer Jack Emmert (Statesman).
- Rescue Jon "Booster" Rhodes - The description of this mission states that Jon Rhodes is the VP for Kord Industries. This is a Reference to James Rhodes, who works for Stark Industries in the Marvel Comics Iron Man series.
- Also, upon saving him from his captors he says: "Nice work. You took those guys down like some kinda war machine." which is another reference to James Rhodes and his alter ego, War Machine.
- At the mission exit he says: "Thanks for the help. I actually was expecting someone else, but you did a great job." implying that he was expecting his employer and friend (who is most likely Tony Kord (another NPC referencing both Iron Man and the Blue Beetle, see the entry lower on this list)) to save him.
- The name (or rather, the nickname) also appears to refer to Booster Gold - reinforced by the fact that Ted Kord is Blue Beetle, a DC hero commonly associated with Booster.
- Rescue L33t Sk1zzl3s - When you have finished rescuing him, he says "Wait till I tell everyone on Dotslash about this.". This is a reference to the news site Slashdot.
- Rescue Lois Watson - Lois Watson is expecting to be rescued by Unbelievable-Man, but "you'll do." The name Lois Watson is an amalgam of Lois Lane and Mary Jane Watson.
- Rescue Mazzy Stardusk - The text states that you must rescue "Mazzy Stardusk" a big rock star back in the day. This is a reference to the both the David Bowie concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars and the music group Mazzy Star.
- Rescue Mr. L. Jenkins - The text states that you must rescue an office worker "Mr. L. Jenkins". This is another reference to "World of Warcraft"'s Leeroy Jenkins.
- Rescue Peter Kent - You find this hostage threatening his captors and making them very nervous. The name Peter Kent is an amalgam of Peter Parker and Clark Kent.
- Rescue Stephen Duke - The text states that you must rescue novelist Stephen Duke. This is a reference to the author Stephen King. Reference is made in the mission text that he was in a car accident; the real King was in a severe auto accident.
- Retrieve the Oxygen Destroyer- The oxygen destroyer is the device that killed Godzilla in the 1954 movie.
- In one of the police band missions the phrase "All Units: The Use of excessive force in the apprehension of The Blues Brothers. has been approved" might be a reference to the movie
- Dr. Theopolis to Speak on Time Travel - Dr. Theopolis was a recurring character on the television series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
Zones and Places
Some of the names seem to be related to the legend of Gilgamesh.
- The Crescent is likely a reference to the Fertile Crescent, the crescent-shaped region in the Middle East believed by some to be the cradle of civilization.
- Dark Waters seem to be referred to one of the parts of Gilgamesh' travel. Water is very important in the Gilgamesh myth, and the tunnels under Brickstown are full with water here as well.
- Mashu Bridge is related to the Mashu tunnel.
- The Ziggurat is an old Babylonian construct.
This zone harkens back to many myths and legends, especially those of Ireland.
- The name of the zone itself is a reference to the lost colony of Roanoke. In 1590 the colony had disappeared, with the only clue being the word "Croatoan" carved into a tree.
- The town's name, Salamanca, refers to a Spanish city. During the Middle Ages it inhabited a no man's land between the Christian north and the Muslim south. It also had a famous university.
- The Fir Bolg and Tuatha de Dannan are the fourth and fifth invaders of Ireland listed in the Irish Book of Invasions. The Tuatha De in particular were supposed to be adept at magic and semi-divine, but eventually disappeared into the spirit world and became faeries and goblins.
- New Connaught is a reference to Connacht, the western province of Ireland. According to legend, the Tuatha de Dannan allowed the Fir Bolg to have Connacht after their defeat, as they were impressed with the heroism of Sreng.
- Eochai appears to refer to Eochaid mac Eirc, the legendary last king of the Fir Bolg. Bres appears to refer to the first king of the Tuatha De Dannan in Ireland. Streng appears to be a misspelling of Sreng, who was a champion of the Fir Bolg during their war.
- Red Caps are malevolent faeries or goblins in British folklore, whose eponymous red hats were stained with the blood of their victims. They were supposedly impossible to outrun, and one could only escape by reciting a verse from the Bible.
- Jack In Irons was a giant in Yorkshire lore, covered in chains and wearing the heads of his victims.
Some neighborhoods seem to be named after directors of horror films.
- Raimi Arcade is named after Sam Raimi
- Romero Heights is named after George A. Romero
- Toffet Terrace - may be an alternate spelling of Tophet, which is an unpleasant place, or another name for hell.
- Dido's View. It should be noted that the neighborhood names were probably in place when Dark Astoria was simply Astoria - before Mot rose, and before the earlier shrouding fog. In Dark Astoria, Dido's View is adjacent to Moth Cemetary. In a sense, it overlooks the cemetary. The Dido in this name possibly refers to Dido, Queen of Carthage, about whom many myths, legends and stories arose. The most well-known stories are the Aenid and the Lament of Dido, which is from the opera, Dido and Aeneas.
- It's probable the in-game place bears some relationship to the stories and place surrounding Dido's View in Carthage. Dido's View is described in the Aenid Book 4.401: "What were your feelings Dido, then? What were the sighs you uttered at that sight, when far and wide from your high citadel, you saw the beaches boil and turmoil take the waters, with such a vast uproar before your eyes?" This description resonates strongly with a viewer looking across Moth Cemetary; also noting that, like Carthage, Astoria could be said to have been sacked (not once, but twice).
- Madame Bellerose mentions that Nightmare on Raimi Boulevard is a movie that was filmed in Dark Astoria. This is both a reference to Sam Raimi (above) and the horror film, A Nightmare on Elm Street.
The neighborhoods here are related to either Rhode Island (the state Paragon City is set in) or the American Revolution:
- Blackstone Hills could refer to the Blackstone district of Providence, Rhode Island.
- The Gaspee references the Gaspée Affair, in which a British naval ship of the same name was destroyed off the coast of Rhode Island prior to the war.
- Hutchinson Park may reference either of the Rhode Island historical figures Thomas Hutchinson or Anne Hutchinson.
- Williams Square is likely named after Roger Williams.
- Louis Forest is likely named after King Louis XVI of France, the French King who contributed troops, arms and money to the fledgling American Continental Congress during the war.
This area is named after a street near Cryptic's Headquarters. It may also be a reference to the Ronald Reagan film of the same name.
- The Gish is likely a reference to silent film star Lillian Gish.
- Darwin's Landing is named after Charles Darwin, whose theory of natural selection is often summarized as "survival of the fittest" - very fitting given the way Lord Recluse treats Mercy Island as a test to remove those too weak to live up to their destiny.
The zone is named after the Roman Emperor Nerva. According to an NPC in City of Villains, "Nerva was a Roman Emperor who selected his heir rather than choosing a blood relative".
- Agincourt, the Longbow massive base, likely named after the battle of the same name. Notice the role of the English longbow during the battle.
The zone, its various neighborhoods and badges, are named after various famous comic book creators. The zone itself is a reference to George Pérez, a comic book illustrator and writer.
- Gaiman Woods is named after author Neil Gaiman.
- Everett Lake is named after Bill Everett, a comic book artist and writer best known for creating The Sub-Mariner.
Some of the neighborhoods seem to be related to the DC hero Aquaman:
- Curry Cove references Arthur Curry, the civilian identity of the hero.
- Mera Heights is named after Aquaman's ex-wife, Mera.
- Tempest Quay references the current heroic identity of Aquaman's former sidekick Aqualad, now known as Tempest.
- Nelson Borough may be related to the DC hero Dr. Fate, but is just as likely to be named after the renowned British Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson.
Rikti Crash Site/Rikti War Zone
The neighborhoods in the old Rikti Crash Site are named after battles where the American Army has been present:
- Bloody Lane comes from Antietam, during the American Civil War.
- The Bulge references the Ardennes Offensive of World War II, better known as the Battle of the Bulge.
- The DMZ references a demilitarized zone.
- Little Round Top was the place of one of the actions during the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War.
- The Point Du Hoc action was part of the Normandy Landing during WWII.
- Pork Chop Hill is related to the battle of the same name which took place during the Korean War.
- Sunken Road may refer to the same location as Bloody Lane, or it may refer to part of the Battle of Shiloh or Battle of Fredericksburg.
The Rikti War Zone adds additional battles:
- Heartbreak Ridge is the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge.
- Thin Red Line refers to an action during the Battle of Balaclava.
- Pavia appears to refer to the city of Pavia, the site of a number of historic battles, the most recent of which was in 1525.
- The Gruff neighborhood is most likely named after "Three Billy Goats Gruff", a fairy tale where a troll tries to prevent three goats from crossing a bridge. This area is a hangout for Trolls.
- Hide Park. Several large cities feature a Hyde Park (London, Sydney, New York). Hide Park in Skyway City features Trolls consuming Superadine and transforming their bodies. This may be an homage to Mr. Hyde of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
- The Land of the Lost neighborhood is likely named after the television series Land of the Lost. and is a pun referencing The Lost enemy group found in this area.
The zone's name refer to the striga, a parasitic plant that is found in parts of Africa and Asia. This parasitic nature can be found in Council Vampyrs that have the ability to drain life from their targets, while strengthening themselves. It's also a potential spelling of Strix a variety of vampire from Roman legend which appeared as a monster in D&D.
- Argo Highway references the ship of the same name.
- Circe Island is related to the sorceress Circe, who used to live in an island as well.
- Eleusis is an alternate spelling of the city Elefsina.
- Helen Point refers to Helen of Troy Fitting, as the area named after the woman whose "beauty launched a thousand ships" is a shipping port.
- Ithaca Island is named after the island of the same name.
- New Corinth, New Sparta, New Thebes, and New Troy are named after the cities of the same names: Corinth, Sparta, Thebes and Troy.
- Scylla Island references the monster of the same name.
- Carter Engineering: John Carter.
- Challenger Technology: Professor Challenger from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World.
- Gordon Trench: Flash Gordon.
- Walker Energy: Christopher "Kit" Walker, secret identity of The Phantom.
- Rogers Industries: Buck Rogers.
- Savage Waste Disposal: Doc Savage.
Businesses and Billboards
- Benedict Tech, a technology corporation in game that specializes in prosthetics. The name Benedict references a character from Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber novels, who lost an arm and had it replaced with an artificial one.
- City of Gyros is, of course, a play on "City of Heroes".
- Cooke's Electronics a technology store is a reference to Fry's Electronics, an electronic retail store.
- In Front Steakhouse billboards can be seen in the city. This is a reference to Outback Steakhouse.
- Junk Depot is a reference to Radio Shack. The store logo is a red J in a circle, very similar to Radio Shack's logo.
- Red Beast drink billboards can be found in Paragon City. This is a reference to Red Bull energy drink.
- Scheherazade signs can be seen in several zones of Paragon City. The fictional storyteller and style of the sign are references to Borders.
- Up-N-Away Burger is a play on In-N-Out Burger, a fast food restaurant in the western part of the US.
- Super Bowl bowling alley is a pun on the super heroes fighting crime, and also on the annual professional football event in the US.
- Wentworth's Fine Consignments may be a reference to any or all of the following:
- Richard Wentworth, the civilian alias for the pulp hero known as The Spider.
- Another possibility is J.G. Wentworth, a real-life financial services firm known for its "It's my money, and I need it NOW!" commercials.
- Yet another possibility is Woolworth's, the United States' original "five and dime" store, more recently known as Foot Locker.
- Agent Arthur Bell is possibly an allusion to Art Bell, the founder and longtime host of the paranormal-themed radio program Coast to Coast AM.
- Three characters in the game are references to the manga Gunnm (known in English as Battle Angel Alita):
- Agent McClane and Operative Gruber, the contacts of the Winter Event 2005 seem to be based on the characters of the same name from the film Die Hard.
- Agent Oakley, a Crey sharpshooter encountered in one of Daedalus's missions, is a reference to Annie Oakley, a historical sharpshooter.
- Aleister Crowley, also mentioned in many of the Magic enhancements, was a real life person as well: Alistair Crowley. He was an occultist who was involved in the Golden Dawn in turn of the century England, and led a rather scandalous lifestyle. He is noted for utilising the motto of the real life Hellfire Club (who were in turn referenced in comic form as a supervillain group), "Do What Thou Wilt", and for a meeting with Aldous Huxley.
- Ambassador Kuhr'Rekt: After completing his first mission, he says "Invitation extended: Consume mass quantities", an obvious reference to the Coneheads of SNL fame.
- Axel F a Freakshow boss on Sister Psyche's Task Force is a reference to the song of the same name by Harold Faltermeyer, which is the theme tune of the film, "Beverly Hills Cop", and is named after the protagonist: Axel Foley.
- Black XIII, a Super Arachnoid test subject you recover in one of Efficiency Expert Pither's mission could be a reference to either Final Fantasy 7's Red XIII or the most dangerous of the crystal balls found in Stephen King's The Dark Tower book series which is also referred to as Black 13.
- Carson is an homage to Carson Kressley, one of the 'festive' hosts from the TV makeover show, Queer Eye For The Straight Guy.
- Clive Loveking is a parody of H. P. Lovecraft, and refers to several of his works when you meet him in a police band mission. His name may also reference modern horror authors Stephen King and Clive Barker.
- Detective Wright, an Outbreak contact that was replaced by Coyote, is a reference to Matt "Positron" Miller's old roommate.
- Doc Kryten is a parody of Red Dwarf's Kryten.
- Douglas, a Captain of the Sky Raiders, is a reference to the Douglas AD-1 Skyraider, a single-seat propellor-driven ground-attack aircraft in use from the 1950s through the 1970s.
- Dr. Forrester: This Grandville contact is almost a complete visual tribute to the mad scientist Doctor Clayton Deborah Susan Forrester of cult TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000, whom in turn is a tribute to Doctor Clayton Forrester of the science fiction classic The War of the Worlds.
- Dr. Franklin Vimes appears to be an homage to The Simpsons character Frank Grimes. He is found in the Kidnap Dr. Franklin mission from Kristof Jaeger.
- Dr. Huxley: Dr Ada Huxley is a reference to the author Aldous Huxley, who wrote The Doors of Perception about his experiences when taking the psychedelic drug mescaline.
- Dr. Quaterfield: Dr. Thomas Quaterfield is a reference to Professor Bernard Quatermass, a fictional character, originally created by the writer Nigel Kneale for BBC Television. The character first appeared in The Quatermass Experiment in 1953. It is just as likely to refer to Allan Quatermain, the main character of the pulp novels of Sir Henry Rider Haggard.
- Gordon Stacy is a police captain you can find in Brickstown as a contact. His named seems to be composed of two famous police characters in comics: the first would be Commissioner Gordon, from Batman, and the second would be Captain Stacy, father of Gwen Stacy, first girlfriend of Spiderman.
- Hard Luck, the Golden Giza enforcer, seems to have a well-hidden reference here: during one of his missions you will be asked to save his brother, whose surname is "Luciano". Hard Luck himself is known for his bad luck, making him an Unlucky man. And he's involved with the Family deals. This makes him a gangster who could be called "Unlucky" Luciano. "Unlucky" Luciano --> "Lucky" Luciano
- Humperdinck, a boss in the Dr. Quaterfield Task Force, is a reference to The Princess Bride's villain, Prince Humperdinck, who in turn is probably named after the singer Engelbert Humperdinck who took his name from the german composer Engelbert Humperdinck.
- Isaac the Bartender gets his name from bartender Isaac Washington on the show The Love Boat.
- Joe Young, the proprietor of the Monkey Fight Clubs in Sharkhead Isle and Pocket D, may be a reference to the giant ape film (and its recent remake), Mighty Joe Young.
- Joey, of the band in the Tiki Lounge along with Johnny are members of the Ramones.
- Johnny, of the band in the Tiki Lounge along with Joey are members of the Ramones.
- J.P. Mason, a Prisoners boss is named after Sean Connery's character, John Patrick Mason on the film The Rock.
- Kyle Peck - a contact who is an EPA agent, taking his name from the EPA inspector Walter Peck in Ghostbusters.
- Levantera, the Rikti War Zone contact is named after a dry wind in the Mediterranean. Her sister, Borea, is named after Boreas, the personification of the cold north wind in Greek mythology. Both, of course, are members of the Order of the Four Winds, and the origins of the villains Scirocco and Ice Mistral seem to be related.
- Longbow P.O.W.: His panicked words during his rescue is an homage to the character Private Hudson on the movie Aliens.
- Mender Lazarus is an homage to Lazarus Long, a fictional character featured in a number of science fiction novels by Robert A. Heinlein. Lazarus Long is an unusually long-lived kilt-wearing time traveler.
- Mender Roebuck, the store contact in Ouroboros, might be a homage to the cofounder of Sears Roebuck.
- Mender Tesseract is an homage to A Wrinkle in Time where the main protagonist of the story is named Meg, Mender Tesseract's first name. Also the means by which they travel in the book is by using a Tesseract.
- Pirates: The Rogue Isles are mentioned as a nest of thieves and pirates at one time. Many of the pirates mentioned in missions and badges were, in fact, real:
- Mary Read and Anne Bonney were both lieutenants of "Calico" Jack Rackham.
- William Kidd
- Jean David Nau, "L'Ollonais"
- Blackbeard is a special case, as he seems to have a more direct participation in the events of the Rogue Isles. Notice that: A) his ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge is mentioned in the official info as the ship which attacked Port Hades. and B) The flag that you can find during the heist on the Blackbeard's Tavern is (was) his real life flag.
- Noble Savage is the signature character created and adopted by the art lead David Nakayama. The name is most likely based on the literary concept of the same name wikipedia:Noble savage, or less likely the dual-identity Beast Machines character Savage/Noble
- Rasputin, the monk, is mentioned by the Paragon Times as the mentor of the infamous Baron Zoria, founder of the Circle of Thorns.
- Serafina is said to be a Djinn.
- Sgt. Maj. Day, Lt. Harris, and Sgt. Fillion are members of Vanguard Shield appearing in the final chapter of Tina Macintyre's The Anti-Matter Collision story arc. The three are references to Felicia Day, Neil Patrick Harris, and Nathan Fillion who played the three main characters in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.
- Technician Naylor (aka Portal Technician Grant Naylor), Grant Naylor is the "name" of the author of the BBC's Red Dwarf series. In actuality, its the last names of the two writers combined as if it was one person.
- In one of Technician Naylor's missions, Nemesis replicants are mentioned, and you have to interrogate Captain Rick Deckard. These are references to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Blade Runner.
- The Artist Formerly Known as Claire, a Carnival of Shadows boss refers to Prince's naming convention, The Artist formerly known as Prince.
- The Pilgrim - This is possibly a reference Billy Pilgrim, the main character of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. Billy Pilgrim becomes "unstuck in time", experiencing different time periods in his life.
- Tony Kord - Contact and owner of Kord Industries. This is an amalgam of Tony Stark (owner of Stark Industries) from the Marvel Comics series Iron Man and Ted Kord (owner of Kord Industries) from the DC Comics series Blue Beetle and Justice League.
- Vizzini, a boss in the Dr. Quaterfield Task Force, is a reference to the character on The Princess Bride.
- Warzone Agent Goddard and Warzone Operative Braun, the mission contacts in Warburg, are references to rocket scientists Robert Goddard and Wernher von Braun.
- Romulus Augustus, the villain of the Imperious Task Force, combines Romulus, the legendary founder of the city of Rome; and Romulus Augustulus, the last Emperor of the Western Empire. The Sybils encountered in the task force are soothsayers from Roman mythology. In the game, their deity is called "Phoebas"; this is Phoebus Apollo, the sun god of Greek mythology who presided over the Oracle of Delphi.
Police Band Detectives
- Detective Basinns - Miami Vice, Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs
- Detective Becktrees - Dragnet, Pep Streebeck
- Detective Croquette - Miami Vice, James "Sonny" Crockett
- Detective Davids - Starsky and Hutch, David Starsky
- Detective Fish - Barney Miller, Det. Phillip Fish
- Detective Frasenbacker - Due South, Benton Fraser and his wolf, Diefenbaker
- Detective Freitag - Dragnet, Joe Friday (Freitag is German for Friday)
- Detective Hutchinson - Starsky and Hutch, Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson
- Detective Junkers - Junkers appears to be based upon both the video game Snatcher, from where the name Junkers comes from, and the movie Blade Runner, from which his background comes from. Snatcher also draws much from Blade Runner.
- Detective Kowaccio - Due South, Raymond Vecchio and Stanley Kowalski
- Detective Martins - Lethal Weapon, Martin Riggs
- Detective McLord - Hawaii Five-O, Steve McGarrett, played by Jack Lord
- Detective Miller - Barney Miller, Capt. Barney Miller
- Detective Murwell - RoboCop, Alex J. Murphy, portrayed in the first film by actor Peter Weller.
- Detective Rogers - Lethal Weapon, Roger Murtaugh
- Detective Selnum - Magnum, P.I., Thomas Sullivan Magnum IV, played by Tom Selleck
- Detective Sluggitt - Bullitt, Lt. Frank Bullitt, played by Steve McQueen
- Detective Westbrush - Dirty Harry, Clint Eastwood (East wood -> West brush)
- Arbiter Sands - Agent Sands of the film Once Upon a Time in Mexico.
- Captain Castillo - Don Karnage from Disney's "TaleSpin" cartoon.
- Doc Delilah - Marvel Comics superhero and psychiatrist, Doc Samson.
- Penelope Yin - Penelope Pitstop of the Wacky Races.
- And a number of Lost bosses encountered on her story arc (all characters from Wacky Races):
- Muxley - Wacky Races #00 Dick Dastardly and Muttley in the Mean Machine
- Slag of Skyway - Wacky Races #01, The Slag Brothers, Rock and Gravel, in the Bouldermobile
- Gruesome of Galaxy - Wacky Races #02, The Gruesome Twosome, Big and Little, in the Creepy Coupe
- Blast of Hollows - Wacky Races #06, Sergeant Blast and Private Meekly in the Army Surplus Special
- Ant of Atlas - Wacky Races #07, The Ant Hill Mob in the Bulletproof Bomb
- Blubber of Steel - Wacky Races #08, Luke and Blubber Bear in the Arkansas Chuggabug
- Ruffcut of Perez - Wacky Races #10, Rufus Ruffcut and Sawtooth in the Buzz Wagon
- Arachnos Bane Spider Executioner: "This calls for a subtle blend of psychology and extreme violence." Spoken when alerted to the presence of an intruder in "the web" (North of the main island in Grandville), a likely reference to Vivian from the anarchic 1980's British comedy show The Young Ones.
- Arachnos Crab Spider Slicer: "I see all these villains running around, and all I want to say is 'et tu, Brute?'" Witnessed when a villain passed near an Arachnos patrol in the Rikti War Zone. A reference to the Shakespeare play The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.
- Longbow Flamethrower: "What's your plans for tonight? I think I may head over to Bianco's later. I'm in the mood for pasta." Overheard in a conversation between two Longbow in Faultline. More likely than not, the name comes from Melissa Bianco.
- Mender Tesseract: "Have fun storming the presidential building!" This is a reference to The Princess Bride when the character Miracle Max (Billy Crystal) tells Westley (Cary Elwes) and his crew, "Have fun storming the castle!"
- Random citizens sometimes say, "Life is pain. Anybody who says differently is trying to sell you something." A reference to The Princess Bride.
- Random citizens of the Rogue Isles sometimes say, "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than the Rogue Isles." This is a reference to Obi-Wan Kenobi's description of Mos Eisley in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
- Outcast Initiate Slammer: "I don't know how I feel about this Hollows business. Not enough citizens to harass. Slim pickins." This is possibly a reference to film and television actor Slim Pickens (1919–1983).
- The Riders in the Lady Grey Task Force quote the arcade game Sinistar:
- War: Rider: I: Live!
- Famine: Rider: I: Hunger
- Pestilence: Rider: Run: Cowards!
- Death: Rider: Ha: Ha: Ha: Ha!
- Widdershins: Widdershins means anticlockwise which was considered unlucky to travel in that direction.
- Arachnos: It is no surprise that many of Arachnos' troops take their names from different kinds of spiders:
- Wolf Spiders: Wolf Spider.
- Crab Spiders: Crab Spider.
- Blood and Night Widows: Black Widow Spider.
- Tarantulas: Tarantula Spider.
- Mu Mystics are, of course, related to the mythical nation of Mu, which seems to be based on the real life legend of Mu.
- Hequat would seem to be an alternate spelling of Hecate, Greek goddess of witchcraft.
- Lord Recluse himself is related to the deadly Brown Recluse Spider.
- Ghost Widow may be referred to the Black Widow Spider as well.
- Scirocco and Ice Mistral take their names from different kinds of wind instead: Sirocco and Mistral.
- Captain Mako and Barracuda take their names from deadly sea predators: Mako and Barracuda.
- Banished Pantheon: several kinds of enemies from this villain group have their own real life histories:
- Clockwork: some of the soldiers of this group are named after XIX century computer engineers:
- Circle of Thorns:
- Behemoth can be referred to a Biblical demon.
- Succubus are female demons from the medieval legends.
- Baphomet is a demon of uncertain origins, and apparently connected to the Knights Templar.
- Lilitu comes from the Mesopotamian legends. Notice the legend about her having to kill her children.
- Ermeeth would seem to be an alternate spelling for Hermes, Greek god of (among other things) invention, boundaries, and travellers.
- Coralax: During the story arc "Calystix the Shaper", a history of the cult is mentioned. One of the chapters matches perfectly with the events related in The Shadow over Innsmouth, from Howards Phillips Lovecraft. Perhaps the whole group is based on the Deep Ones.
- Fir Bolg come from the mythical Ireland myths.
- The Freedom Phalanx takes its name of the ancient military formation of the same name. Many of the names of the Phalanx's heroes are common substantives:
- Gold Brickers
- King Midas, the leader of the Gold Brickers, takes his name from King Midas in Greek Mythology who turned everything that he touched into gold.
- Longbow: the heroic militia whose name comes from the reach of its influence, seems to be named after the bow of the same name, also renowned for its reach: The English Longbow
- Ballistas, the Longbow heaviest hitters, are named after a siege machine which is, basically, a powerful crossbow.
- Luddites: This group actually existed during the XIX century:
- Luddites: Luddites
- Nemesis: Many of the Nemesis' troops have (or had) a real life counterpart. All of them are (or were at one time) military units from the XVIII and XIX centuries:
- Praetorians seem to take their name from the Roman guard corps of the same name which was tasked with the protection of the Emperor. It's a fitting name for this group: notice the table of relations between the Emperor and his guards here.
- Red Caps are a malevolent kind of goblin in the British myths.
- Jack in Irons comes from the British myths.
- Rikti: This group name was derived from Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. :
- Lord of War: Hro'Dtohz: Hro'Dtohz is derived from Herodotus who is regarded as the "Father of History".
- U'Kon Gr'ai: His name is a parody of the Con System; being read as "you con grey."
- Death: Rider: Death: Rider is a reference to Death, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
- Famine: Rider: Famine: Rider is a reference to Famine, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
- Pestilence: Rider: Pestilence: Rider is a reference to Pestilence, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
- War: Rider: War: Rider is a reference to War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
- The Honoree: Honoree is an anagram of Hero One. (Hero 1)
- General Bu'Dekka, from the mission Retrieve the General's intel and assist in her defection, is a reference to Boudica, a Celtic warrior queen.
- Traditionalist Psi-Scout Lk'Onik: "Laconic Scout" was a character template in the original "Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game" published by West End Games in 1987.
- Ci'Dion may be a reference to singer Celine Dion
- Meklar may be a reference to the race in Master of Orion
- Argot'BurWot may be a reference to the Angkor Wat
- Spetsnaz, found in City of Villains, are a real life Russian military unit.
- The Family syndicate of crime uses many titles also used in real life:
- Caliban - The name of Julius Caesar's sword, also a character in William Shakespeare's "The Tempest". Wikipedia's page on Caliban.
- Grendel, the former leader of the Trolls, is related to the being of the same name in the poem Beowulf.
- Gardvord, a Troll lieutenant, from the Swedish word Gårdvard; "Farm warden". Many of the Trolls' names seem to relate to Nordic mythology.
- Gragnor, a named Troll boss, is likely named after Grignr, hero of the infamously bad fantasy story, The Eye of Argon by Jim Theis.
- Tuatha de Dannan come from the Irish myths
- Unseelie Court are part of the fairy myths from the British Isles. The Unseelie Court means "Unholy Court". 
- Warriors seem to be based on the street gang of the same name of the film The Warriors.
- Wyvern takes its name from the mythological being of the same name. Talons, fangs and stings are parts of that being.
Weapons and Equipment
- Redding: the name of a high-powered rifle used by Vanguard and available to players as an unlockable. The name may be a nod to gun accessories manufacturer Redding.  The full name, 'Redding Rail Rifle', may also be a reference to the Reading Railroad, a property in the game Monopoly.
Other items and Artifacts
- The Pillar of Ice and Flame is a reference to an object in Radical Dreamers and Chrono Cross called the Frozen Flame. This object would allow its user to time travel, as well as manipulate dimensions and events in previous times. In the end, the object was actually a fragment of a greater alien entity called the Lavos.
- The Bands of Shu seem to be currently in the hands of the Malta Group.
- Hand of Omega is an item from the longest running Sci Fi show in the world, Dr. Who, and shows up in the police scanner missions.
- The Jewel of Enki can be found in the hands of Hellions.
- Form 27B/6 - The Supergroup Registration form is Form 27B/6. Form 27B/6 is the Ministry of Public Works' "Authorization for Repairs of Domestic Living Quarters by Licensed Repair Technicians" form in Brazil.
- Li Tieh Kuai is often mentioned in the Natural/Magic dual origin enhancements. Li Tieh Kuai is Iron-Crutch Li, one of the eight immortals of Taoism. He was apparently fond of out of body experiences, and one of his students found him apparently dead, and cremated his body. When he returned, he had to take over the body of a crippled beggar, while of course keeping his magical kung-fu powers; thus the Iron Crutch.
- Nectanebo, often mentioned in the Magic origin enhancements. There were two pharaohs of Egypt: Nectanebo I and Nectanebo II.
- Oscillator Overthruster - The Science/Tech Dual-Origin enhancement for Intangibility Duration is the Oscillator Overthruster. This refers to the oscillation overthruster, a device was used to allow for passage through solid objects, by accessing the "8th Dimension", made up of all the empty space in matter. This device is from the film, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.
- The Platonic Solids - A mission against the Warriors will make you encounter The Platonic Solids, which exist in real life.
- P.L.O.T. Device - A mission objective. A thinly veiled reference to the narrative element, the Plot Device.
- Ring of Naruas seen in the Destroy Magic Ring mission from Captain Petrovich is a reference to the One Ring from The Lord of the Rings. How convenient that you throw the cursed ring in a barrel of boiling acid, as well.. (Naruas spelled backwards is sauran, which is similar to Sauron, the creator of the One Ring.)
- The Sforza Horse, which you can find in a mission against the Family, could be seen in the film Hudson Hawk.
- Tome of Tormvodel - In Ghost Widow's patron arc, she asks villains to retrieve the Tome of Tormvodel, a book she plans on using to restore her to her human form. Tormvodel is an anagrammed reference to Lord Voldemort of the Harry Potter books, a dark wizard bent on securing unmatched power and achieving immortality through the practice of the Dark Arts - interestingly enough, his name is an anagram in itself.
- TPS Reports - Nemesis Automatons mention TPS Reports on various missions. This is a reference to the film, Office Space.
- An Ushabti can be found in the hands of the Hellions during a low level mission.
- The Rock Temporary Power from the Halloween Event 2004 and Halloween Event 2006 as well as the Heavy Rock Temporary Power from Weapon Deals in Safeguard Missions and Mayhem Missions is a reference to the animated Halloween special, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
- The Blue Oyster, a relic from a long-lost cult that a Villain can swipe from another group via a Rogue Isle Protector mission, is a reference to the rock band Blue Oyster Cult.
- The Ace of Spades Temporary Power is likely a reference to popular myth and folklore attributing the aspect of death to the card.
Police Band Items
- The Book of K'Gar - The text describes this as an alien holy book that cannot be interpreted until the year 2260. This is a reference to Babylon 5, a story which takes place between 2258 and 2262 AD (which includes the year 2260), and one of the main characters is named G'Kar. More specifically, it refers to an actual book written by said character G'Kar, which was, incidentally, written in 2260, and was referred to by the same name.
- A Dragoon Ball - The text states that this object is one of seven, which, when brought together, will summon a calvaryman who will grant a wish. This is a reference to Dragon Ball, a Japanese franchise that involves seven Dragon Balls which will summon a wish-granting dragon when they're brought together. Dragoon refers to a type of light cavalry employed during the 17th and 18th centuries.
- Long John's Silver - The text states that you must recover "Long John's Silver". This is a reference to Treasure Island.
- The Oxygen Destroyer - The text states that you must recover the Oxygen Destroyer. This is a reference to the original 1954 Godzilla movie where the device was used to defeat Godzilla.
- File: X - Rearranged X Files, science fiction movies.
- The Scroll of Bokol is mentioned on one of the hero police scanner missions. It's clue description reads, "This scroll was penned by those who believe that life here began 'out there', in the depths of space. It talks about the lost colonies of humanity that are supposed to live among the stars." This is a reference to Battlestar Galactica and the planet, lords, and colonies of Kobol.
- Crystal Skulls - Some members of the Skulls will drop Crystal Skulls as Salvage.
- Inanimate Carbon Rod - "In Rod We Trust" - This is a reference to Deep Space Homer, an episode of the Simpsons where Homer loses employee of the month to "an inanimate carbon rod". The caption on the medal that the rod receives is "In Rod We Trust".
- Orichalcum can be found as Salvage in the hands of the Circle of Thorns.
- Protonium will drop off several villain groups as Salvage.
- Conspiratorial Evidence - The description is a reference to a line spoken by The Question in the animated series Justice League Unlimited.
- Lament Box is a reference to the sinister puzzle box from the Hellraiser series. Some of these can be seen in cabinets in the Midnighter Club
- Benedict Tech Holey Field Generator - Technology Disorient Duration SO enhancement. "Holey Field" is a play on multiple-time Cruiserweight and Heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield's last name.
- Poracio Ind.: the name of one third of the Tech-based single-origin enhancements come from "Poracio Industries", which is almost assuredly a reference to Whilce Portacio, comic book artist. He was also artist on the series "WetWorks", which compromise another third of the Tech-based single-origin enhancements.