Shout Out: Super 8
- Elliott's bike from E.T. makes an appearance late in the film, crate and all.
- Joe Lamb's father is a Sherriff's Deputy, but at least he's not Clueless Deputy.
- In "The Case," the evil Mega Corp. responsible for the zombie outbreak is named "Romero Chemicals", after the director of Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978), which must have been the kid's main sources of inspiration.
- "Operation Walking Distance" had its codename chosen because "Walking Distance" was Abrams' favorite episode of the Twilight Zone. It is about going back to where and when you grew up, which in some ways fits considering this is Abrams' tribute to the movies that he liked growing up.
- When the alien attacks the bus, the driver is grabbed by the feet and pulled out, and he futilely holds on tightly to the side of the door before finally being pulled out and eaten.
- Cary is quite possibly named after Cary Guffey, the 3-year-old star of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
- Near the end of the movie, in the big Climax in town, one of the business signs visible says "John Locke".
- In "The Case," Detective Hathaway takes a look around Building 47, one of Abrams' Arc Numbers.