The cars in the franchise have always been "close" to some kind of real life vehicle, but this game takes the word "close" and "trademark infringement" to within a razor's edge. Almost every car can be easily recognized as a very specific real world car in both model and year with very minor adjustments having been done to stay away from trademark law suits.
Many of the street names are subtle references, such as Cholla Springs Ave. in Sandy Shores and Joad Lane in, appropriately enough, Grapeseed.
One of the highways (The one that passes the docks on the way to the airport) is called the Elysian Fields Freeway.
Trevor can buy a jacketnote Listed in the discount store as "Champagne Driver Jacket" exclusive to him that heavily resembles The Driver's jacket, the only difference being that it has a crab emblem on the back instead of a scorpion.
One of the shirts available for Michael to buy is the infamous parrot-print aloha shirt from Max Payne 3.
An entire heist is copied from the introduction of Heat, right down to the details: the protagonists wear masks and overalls; the target is a high security truck; the plan involves intercepting the truck by blocking its path before t-boning it; and they even blow the truck doors with charges, deafening a guard who curses them. When planning the mission, one of the gold requirements, "Cliché", requires choosing the hockey masks worn in the movie.
The Paleto Bay Bank Robbery is heavily based on the bank robbery from the same film, complete with Michael and the hired gun dressing up in suits and ski masks like De Niro's crew and the robbery being followed by a massive, rolling shootout.
One of the random events that can be found out in the countryside is the aftermath of a shootout, with dead and dying bodies lying among a circle of cars, and a briefcase full of money. Taking the money can lead to being chased down by goons, though thankfully there's no Anton Chigurh to contend with.
You can buy a suppressor for the shotgun, and it has the exact same sound effect as it did in No Country for Old Men.
Another Coen Brothers tribute - the foggy, snow-driven intro, especially the final shot, may be a reference to Fargo's similar scenes of frozen wasteland.
The mission where Jay Norris is assassinated by phone bomb is identical to one of the murders from Law Abiding Citizen.
Michael pulls a house off a cliffside by hooking up the support beams to a pickup truck, much like Riggs in Lethal Weapon 2.
Trevor opts to hide the Chinese drug dealer, Cheng, Jr., and his interpreter in an ice box when his meth-cooking lab comes under attack.
One of the routes of the final heist takes a bit of inspiration from The Italian Job. The target? Gold. The means of acquisition? Armored cars and control of traffic patterns. The getaway vehicles? A customized fleet of distinctive automobiles, albeit Bravado Gauntlets rather than Mini Coopers. Also the cars are modified to handle the load just like the movie.
The other route in the Final Heist is copied line for line from the villains' plan in Die Hard with a Vengeance. Cause a distraction with some fake terrorism while drilling into the Union Repository's vault through the subway.
In order to get 100% on the mission “Derailed, you must land on top of a train using the first jump. Said requirement is called "Better Than CJ", in reference to the infamous All we had to do was follow the damn train, CJ!” line from the "Wrong Side Of The Tracks" mission in San Andreas.
In one mission Franklin has to steal a car for Devin Weston off a movie set. Not only can Franklin steal an actor's tuxedo to reach the car easier, but the car contains gadgets and resembles an Aston Martin. It even turns out to have a passenger eject button.
In Sandy Shores, there's a piece of graffiti that says Beam Me Up.
In the garage were you deliver the stolen cars for Weston, is a wall that has a list of target cars written on it that only shows up under UV light like in Gone In 60 Seconds.
When talking about their first score, Michael mentions that his first score was in Carcer City.
The Playboy Mansion can be found in-game in Rockford Hills northwest of Michael's house. If you go to the backyard pool area (which also contains the famous grotto) during the nighttime you will find a bunch of people having a party which includes several topless women. If you use your character's cell phone camera to take pictures of the topless women they will call you a creep and their boyfriends will attack you.
One of the checkmarks needed for getting a gold medal on "Did Someone Say Yoga" is called "Praise the Sun." One of the poses you have to strike when doing yoga in turn matches the Sunlight Warriors' trademark gesture.
A Strangers and Freaks mission requires Franklin to jump off a dam to get a gold medal. The checkmark for doing it is called "Leap of Faith".
One of the clothing options for Trevor includes a red jacket over a dark flannel shirt. The jacket is called the Overlooked Red Blouson. You could also find an axe lodged in a door inside of Floyd's apartment!
In one of the random encounters, the player give a ride to a lady escaping from a forced wedding. The groom begins pursuing them, and she shouts "I'm done!" at him. He responds with "You're done when I say you're done!"
When creating your character, you have the option to choose what your parents and grandparents from both sides look like, which deter on your own looks. You can even choose to have a special dad, instead of a customized dad. And who is that dad? John Marston from Red Dead Redemption.
One of the suits from the Valentine's Day Massacre DLC looks a lot like the "Golden Boy" suit from L.A. Noire