The classic car is introduced in a mission wherein Franklin has to steal it off of a movie set for Devin Weston. Not only can Franklin steal an actor's tuxedo to reach the car easier, but the car itself possesses a caltrop launcher in the trunk and a set of machine guns on the hood. It even has a passenger eject button.
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.
The Heists are almost all inspired by famous movie heists:
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.
Michael can also be customized to have a goatee and haircut that looks very similar to that of Robert De Niro from the film.
Devon Weston looks like Michael Cheritto from Heat. Hell, he even calls Franklin "Slick" throughout the game.
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.
The final heist has two possible routes:
Route One: 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. Yup, it's ''The Italian Job (1969). And since you can customise your cars, you can make them the appropriate colours for a bit of an extra reference (red, white and blue!)
Route two 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.
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.
Furthermore, there is a random encounter involving the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong and a case full of money that is straight out of the movie, dead dogs and all.
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.
And the keynote he's giving up the point where he's assassinated bears far more than a passing resembling to the "Stevenotes" that Steve Jobswas famous for, except with the smugness and condescending superiority turned Up to 11
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.
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 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.
The aliens within the game (both the suited actors found in Vinewood and the real aliens seen in Michael's hallucinations) resemble the Xenomorphs.
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! And in the Updated Re-release, you can buy and wield an axe, completing the look.
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!"
The game tip involving changing your brightness settings asks if you are suffering from Eternal Darkness.
In "Scouting the Port" Trevor, who looks a lot like Jack Nicholson, wears a black beanie and sunglasses similar to Randle McMurphy's.
A multi-homage case with a "returning player exclusive" vehicle added to the Next-Gen versions of the game, named the Duke O'Death. It's reinforced appearance is akin to the vehicles from Death Race, but looks more like the Pursuit Special. The Random Encounter where you first find the car is named after Duel, with the encounter playing out exactly like the movie. And the name of the car apparently comes from the fictional book The Duke of Death from the Clint Eastwood movie Unforgiven.
A random encounter in Raton Canyon features two police cars and a helicopter behind a 50s car with two women driving. When a police officer approaches the car, it speeds off the cliff and explodes in the canyon, mirroring the ending scene of Thelma & Louise to a T, though the movie didn't show the car crash, or explode.
There appears to be a big blockbuster movie based on the Republican Space Rangers cartoon being held at one of the movie theatres in the game, complete with a guy in costume. Said costume bears more than a passing resemblance to the Master Chief's powered armour, especially when seen from the back.
One of Solomon Richards' films is a Space Opera titled "The Shoulder of Orion" - a reference to Roy Batty's famous monologue in Blade Runner.
One of Peter Dreyfuss' films is titled "Bury Me" and there's a synopsys of it the in-game Classic Vinehood website, which pretty much sounds like a Jacob's Ladder parody.
A Private Taxi Fare for the Downtown Cab Co. references the plot of Collateral. Franklin is asked to go to the airport and pick up a Sharp Dressed Man, who spouts some Ubermensch-like philosophy before asking Franklin to be his getaway driver on a crime he's about to commit. Unlike the film, however, the passenger is an incompetent jewel thief who immediately blows his cover and relies on Franklin's quick thinking to escape.
One of the custom rim types you can purchase for your car is titled Fujiwara. They look identical to the rims found on Takumi Fujiwara's AE86 in Initial D.
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.
A rare mask that was only available from October 3rd to October 5th, as well as for a day during the Festive Surprise if you got a Special Crate, is the mask that the Smilies wore in Man Hunt.
In one of the Humane Raid heist setup missions, the players board an aircraft carrier to steal a old VTOL fighter jet equipped with an EMP as well as some regular Lazer fighters to fight off incoming enemy jets. After knocking out the bandits and taking air superiority, "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins plays.
The layout of the yacht in Series A Funding's first setup mission is eerily similar to the one from Max Payne 3.
The Freemode Events Update give us The Beast, which looks a lot like Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf.
The Phantom Wedge added with the Import/Export update is a nod to MythBusters. While similar ideas have been used in the media for a while, the Phantom Wedge uses the same design as the one Adam and Jamie built for the finale.
The Doomsday Heist update:
The Avenger tiltrotor VTOL aircraft from. While it's visibly based on the V-22 Osprey, in practice it serves as an airborne version of the Mobile Operations Center, complete with vehicle and weapons bays and a gun turret. In other words, it's a helicarrier, just like in... The Avengers (2012).
The Deluxo is back! And it's still based on the DeLorean. But this time, it has hover and flight capabilities, just like Doc Brown's time machine. Just swap out the time travel system for a small arsenal.
The Stromberg is a sports car that can transform into a submarine. Both the concept and the name are references to The Spy Who Loved Me.
Around the city you'll find billboards for Rehab Island which show a palm tree on a blue background. Hmmm...
The Imponte Ruiner 2000 is GTA's own version of K.I.T.T., minus the snarky AI and plus machine guns and heat-seeking rockets.
Another of the vehicles that released with the update, the Technical Aqua, bears a strong resemblance to the Toyboata.
Two other vehicles, the Wastelander and the Ramp Buggy, took inspiration from vehicles in The Fast and the Furious films. (Fast Five and Fast and Furious 6 specifically.)