Adam's weapon and combat style are based off Kagura Tsuchimiya from Ga-Rei Zero-. Adam also draws direct movements from a few other sources - Vergil and Johnny to name a few.
Blake and Adam's names reference Beauty and the Beast, with Belle being the root of Blake's last name (Belladonna), and Adam being Beast's real name. Blake is also introduced reading a book, and in another episode reads by the light of a candelabra.
Yang picks a fight with a slightly Yakuza-esque gangwielding axes. In addition, the way they go flying when she engages them resembles another Axe Gang. There are numerous shout outs to the House of Blue Leaves battle from Kill Bill. (Which was also a reference to The Axe Gang.)
Yang is inspired by Goldilocks. In her trailer, the DJ is wearing a bear headpiece that obscures his entire head.
The combo Yang uses just before the final punch in her trailer is a Dempsey Roll, except instead of punches she's weaving around rockets and baseball swings on her approach.
Melanie uses Ling Xiaoyu's kicks which also used by Tifa in Dead Fantasy, this because of Monty said he reused some moves he did previously in Dead Fantasy, but with different angle of camera to make them look new or different.
The monsters in a fairytale-themed world are called "The Grimm". The creators confirmed they've been heavily inspired by this work, and fairy tales more generally, in producing this show and its characters.
Professor Ozpin and Glynda Goodwitch are very obvious and confirmed nods to The Wizard of Oz.
In episode 1, a row of magazines seen to the right of Ruby when a mobster is threatening her have a grinning grey silhouette on their covers that looks practically identical to Truth.
Also in episode 1, a humorous example: Ruby's line, "Oh, that's my uncle!" is a shout out to the Rooster Teeth podcast, where Burnie once used that line to summarize his problems with Japanese-style storytelling.
Jaune Arc is inspired by Jeanne D'Arc, who did disguise herself as a male for a while. His entire team are confirmed to be based on famous characters who, at some point in their legend, disguised themselves as a member of the opposite gender. Nora is based on Thor, Pyrrha on Achilles, and Ren on Hua Mulan.
In episode 2, Weiss says to Ruby, "Aren't you a little young to be attending Beacon?" This is likely a reference to a Running Gag in Phineas and Ferb.
Roman Torchwick by his dress and signature color seems to a be a reference to Alex from A Clockwork Orange. His design seems to come from Lampwick from Pinocchio.
A substance called Dust has powerful, mysterious qualities, and people are fighting over who controls it and how to use it. Sound familiar?
The lack of color in the background characters is similar to what is utilized in Durarara!!.
Ruby's line about growing up because she drinks milk might be another reference to Fullmetal Alchemist due to the main character there Edward Elric never drinking his milk, which is the reason (according to his friends and family) for his never getting any taller.
Yang's sunglasses in episode 4 are a homage to Top Gun.
Considering Monty Oum referenced Soul Eater when describing how he envisioned his characters, it's very likely that the arrow-like patterns of Glynda Goodwitch's ragged cape are a shout out to Medusa. There's also a mook in episode 8 that looks like an Arachnophobia member.
When Yang picks up one of the white knight chess pieces, she comments, "How about a cute little pony?" My Little Pony, anyone?
The gang fights a giant raven-monster. The bird is called a Giant Nevermore''. When Blake (read:Belle) was swinging from the architecture to attack the flying Giant Nevermore, it emits a roar not unlike a certain chimera.
During lunch, what is the only thing on Weiss' plate? An apple.
The History teacher? Dr. Bartholomew Oobleck, after Dr. Seuss' children's novel Bartholomew and the Oobleck.
At two points, Jaune goes into slow motion. The second the slow-motion activates, the sound the Slow Mo Guys use plays.
Yang's full name is Yang Xiao Long, a reference to Bruce Lee, whose Chinese screen name was "Li Xiaolong".
Kind of a coincidence, but Yang's color choice and name brings the Yellow Dress Maiden of Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre to mind, who is a descendant of Yang Guo and Xiaolongnu, the protagonists of the aforementioned series prequel (Return of the Condor Hero).
Penny's fighting style is pulled straight from BlazBlue's Nu-13.
Blake and Roman's fight in episode 16, the sequence when Blake is attacking at multiple angles is reminiscent of Monsoon's Red Phosphorus attack pattern.
Sun's team member, Neptune (and at least one other), is directly inspired in design by K-pop bands. Namely (for Neptune's case) T.O.P of Big Bang.
Neptune and Mercury can be seen as either referencing Roman deities or planets in our solar system.
Mercury's gun greaves are a suitable shout out to the messenger god's trademark sandals.
When Ren fights the giant snakes in episode 6, his Aura manifests very similar to an AT-field.
Velvet Scarlatina, being a girl with rabbit ears, seems to be a reference to the children's storybook The Velveteen Rabbit. Her last name further lends weight to the association as the child who owns the rabbit contracts scarlet fever.
Tukson is basically a mix between Wolverine and Sabretooth, being a bulky man with claws, massive sideburns and hairy arms. Bonus points for Mercury walking out of his shop with an X-Ray and Vav comic. Jaune also reads the same comic in episode 2.
Other food products include "Dr. Piper" (likely a reference to Dr. Pepper, as well as a likely reference to Peter Piper), "Ol' King Cold" (a reference to Old King Cole), and a milk carton called "Udder Satisfaction."
When Roman, in the warehouse, points to progressively larger accumulated piles of Dust, he says "Eh?" progressively louder. The scene is quite similar to one from the "Rock-a-bye Bivalve" episode of SpongeBob SquarePants.
A Faunus who is part monkey named Sun Wukong and wields a staff. Not the most well known piece of literature, but it's straight from Journey to the West (kind of). Combining that kind of power with the rage of one Michael Jones could prove... interesting.
Continuing the Monkey King inspiration is Sun's semblance which creates clones. The Monkey King was able to create clones out of his hair.
And judging by Neptune's Naginata, he could be inspired by Sha Wujing (also known as Sha Gojyo).
At the beginning of episode 3 of volume 2, Jaune asks Weiss if she would like to see a new Spruce Willis movie with him. This is a reference to the real-world Bruce Willis, who is known for his several action-genre movies, modified to fit the show's color theme naming (spruce is a shade of green).
In Vol 2 Chapter 4, Ruby calls out attack patterns by using various internet Shipping names like "Freezer Burn" (Weiss/Yang), "Ladybug" (Ruby/Blake) and "Bumblebee" (Blake/Yang) to denote which pair to attack. Curiously, instead of their more common shipping names "White Rose" and "Monochrome", Ruby/Weiss became "Ice Flower" and Weiss/Blake became "Checkmate" respectively. At least with the latter's change, it ties into the Chess Motifs found in the series.
The Team RWBY combo attacks were all basically some for of dual tech, a system used in Chrono Trigger.
The combo attacks were also inspired by the dwarves battling in The Hobbit.
While team RWBY is fighting Roman, Neptune and Sun are at A Simple Wok, a noodle shop named after Kerry and Chris' A Simple Walk into Mordor.
RWBY's fight with the White Fang's Atlesian Paladin started with the large mecha rampaging along an elevated highway, only to be knocked off into battle among the support struts. This sequence is reminiscent of the fight between Optimus Prime and Bonecrusher.