Charlie, every now and then, goes to a psychiatrist played by Jane Lynch. In "My Puppy's Dead", he and Alan go home after one visit and watch Glee, to which he responds "that tall blond in the red track suit is freaking me out".
In "People who Love Peepholes", Alan says that "when I was was in high school, I was dating a poster of Molly Ringwald". Before Two and a Half Men, Jon Cryer was most famous for Pretty in Pink, where his character, Ducky is hopelessly in love with Ringwald's.
In the season 12 premiere, Alan dresses as Ducky for Halloween.
In "A Giant Cat Holding A Churro" Alan confronts his girlfriend Lindsey, played by Courtney Thorne-Smith, with her playing in a softcore porn movie when she was younger. She then tells that the producer had said he could get her on Melrose Place. Courtney Thorne-Smith was a Melrose Place regular for the first five seasons.
A somewhat atypical example. When Alan starts believing himself to be Charlie out of grief, he ends up institutionalized, and imagines he's calling up hookers like Charlie did. Upon "hanging up", he utters Charlie Sheen's own infamous post-firing catchphrase "Winning!". (This is as much an allusion and a jab at Sheen, of which season 9 has plenty).
In "You Do Know What the Lollipop Is For", Walden comes down the stairs, and then is taken aback when he can't remember why he came downstairs. Alan suggests "Maybe too much (imitates inhaling a joint) oh hey, dude, where's my car?" Ashton Kutcher starred in the 2000 stoner comedy Dude, Where's My Car?.
Missi (Miley Cyrus) in the same episode tells Jake on the beach an Orphaned Punchline of "And that is why you don't smoke pot in church". This may be a reference to Cyrus' 2011 salvia incident (and her self-deprecatingReal Life nickname of "Bob Miley" due to the same incident).
In "How to Get Rid of Alan Harper", Walden's girlfriend proposes a game of "bang, marry, kill", with Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis and herself. Later, when she cancels her date with Walden and leaves, he says: "Better hope I don't run into Mila Kunis!" She responds: "Yeah, like that's gonna happen". Mila Kunis is Ashton Kutcher's girlfriend in real life.
"Lan Mao Shi Zai Wuding Shang", where Mila Kunis guest stars has as Vivian, has several.
When she introduces herself:
Walden: That's a beautiful name.
Vivian: Thank you. My parents got it from that '70s show. What was it called? Maude!
When Walden invites her to stay the night because it really started to rain, she says: "It's just a little water. I'm not gonna melt. (spoilers for a then-recent film of hers)It's not like I'm the Wicked Witch of the West."
When they talk about dating:
Vivian: So what's your deal Walden? You're a good looking guy, rich, Malibu beach house... I bet you only date hot actresses.
Walden: God no, I'd never date an actress. They're all crazy.
Vivian: I'm sure they're not all crazy.
Walden: Trust me, they are.
Vivian: I don't get this whole fascination with celebrities anyway. I mean who cares who's dating whom or who's engaged to who, or who has a sex tape that no one will ever, ever see?
One episode features Ken Jeong as a nurse. Jeong is a licensed physician.
Casting Gag: In Season 11, Alan begins dating a woman played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley. Later her ex-husband appears who is played by...Brad Paisley
Creator Backlash: Angus Jones (who played Jake) left the show at the end of season 10 after he converted to Seventh-Day Adventism. He now treats it as an Old Shame, claiming that it is immoral and that he had been a "paid hypocrite" by starring on it.
Creator Breakdown: The circumstances surrounding Charlie Sheen's exit are an explosive example.
Paula Marshall as Paula, Alanís Transsexual girlfriend from ep. 9-10 of season 11.
Dyeing for Your Art: Jon Cryer's hair began to thin dramatically and, while he was open about it, the hair and makeup department used a powdered hair loss concealer to make it seem he still had a full head of hair. After the series ended, he shaved his head and grew a beard
Follow the Leader: Starting with Season 10, the show started to incorporate quite a bit of the geeky humor that made The Big Bang Theory so popular. Justified in that the jokes are more fitting to Walden's character and background than the Charlie-esque storylines the show was still trying to use in Season 9... and the fact that Chuck Lorre produces both shows.
McLeaned: Charlie was killed off by being pushed in front of a train after he was caught cheating on his fiance, Rose. And just to add insult to injury, the funeral is full of one night stands and angry exes. And after he is cremated, Walden's first appearance has Alan spilling Charlie's ashes all over the ground. Then Alan vacuums Charlie's remains with a dustbuster.
Money, Dear Boy: A variation; the main reason why Chuck Lorre pushed the network to commission a pilot was because co-creator Lee Aronsohn would cease to be eligible for WGA health coverage if one of his scripts wasn't put into production very soon. Fortunately for all concerned, it turned out that the network quite liked the pilot...
The Other Darrin: Delores Pasternak was originally played by Missi Pyle. When she returned two years later, she was played by Alicia Witt. In brief appearances in later seasons, Missi Pyle came back.
What Could Have Been: The original plan for the ending of the series, according to Chuck Lorre's vanity card: "I know a lot of you might be disappointed that you didn't get to see Charlie Sheen in tonight's finale. For the record, he was offered a role. Our idea was to have him walk up to the front door in the last scene, ring the doorbell, then turn, look directly into the camera and go off on a maniacal rant about the dangers of drug abuse. He would then explain that these dangers only applied to average people. That he was far from average. He was a ninja warrior from Mars. He was invincible. And then we would drop a piano on him. We thought it was funny. He didn't. Instead, he wanted us to write a heart-warming scene that would set up his return to primetime TV in a new sitcom called The Harpers starring him and Jon Cryer. We thought that was funny too."
The actress who plays Chelsea, one of Charlie's few meaningful relationships for a long time (some would say too long) had already appeared in other roles in previous episodes, including the Pilot.
April Bowlby, who later played Kandi, made an earlier appearance playing a woman in Charlie's shower, called "Bubbles." It is possible Bubbles was Kandi, as Kandi shows up two episodes later and acts just like her (April Bowlby is credited as "Kimber" in that episode, even though she's never addressed as such in the entire episode).
Jenna Elfman appeared in a two-part episode in the first season as a woman named Frankie. She later appeared as Dharma in the Season 9 opener.
Judy Greer, who plays Walden's wife appeared in the fourth season as Herb's sister, Myra.