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Development Gag

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In the development of a show, movie, game, TV series or whatever, everything from characters, settings, stages, etc., changes rapidly. Characters become other characters, different plots fuse and split or are destroyed. Eventually, you get the finished product, but the developers aren't going to forget the past. In this case, the designers might put in a little thing or two that alludes back to something that happened in development, so they can all have a good laugh about it.


An inside joke to the greatest measure, as unless the viewer/player has been given a beta that includes what the joke is about (or the creators explain it), they're probably never going to know what the joke is about, or even that it's a joke at all. Can be anything from a previous character design to a joke about one of the developers, but you'll probably never know.

See Call-Back for references to things that actually appear in the plot, and Production Throwback for development on prior works. Contrast Mythology Gag for references to things that did happen in alternate adaptations. When the backstory behind these gags are explained, that's an example of What Could Have Been, given by Word of God. A cameo from The Other Marty would be this.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • The English dub of Fullmetal Alchemist has the voice Travis Willingham used for Mustang's "I love dogs!" line, which is based on the voice he used when trying out as Major Armstrong; he even refers to the voice as "Armstang."
  • Naruto:
    • The series introduced a character named Sabu, who possesses a giant axe and has a giant raccoon dog named Ponta for a pet. Both of these things are references to a character named Kintaro, who also possessed a giant axe and a giant raccoon dog named Pochi, who was replaced by Zabuza and Haku as the main villain of the Land of Waves arc.
    • It also has a few referenceces of the series pilot:
      • In one chapter the titular character's failed attempt to control his Superpowered Evil Side results in him turning into a small, shrimpy-looking fox version of himself, a reference to the pilot where Naruto actually is a fox whose true form looked very similar.
      • In the first chapter, Mizuki tells Naruto that the secret everyone has been keeping from him is that he is the Nine-Tailed Fox. Mizuki's bending the truth here (that Naruto has the fox sealed within him), but it's also a reference to the pilot, in which after the Nine-Tailed Fox attacked and was killed at the cost of eight of the chief's friends' lives, the chief (who resembles the Third Hokage, who resumed office after the Fourth's death sealing the fox) took in the baby Naruto out of pity. Interestingly enough, Mizuki's plan to trick Naruto into stealing the scroll and killing him after he's done has some resemblance to the Big Bad of the pilot, who frames Naruto for theft and murder and, after he thinks his accomplice has killed Naruto, gloats that people will think Naruto fled and is the real suspect.
  • Kotsuzuka, the creepy kid from Yu-Gi-Oh!, has a skull-shaped face that was originally going to used for Yami Yugi.
  • Yoshiyuki Tomino has a habit of taking ideas from earlier drafts of his work and finding other ways to work them in:
  • Episode 13 of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? is titled Familia Myth. This was also what the author originally wanted to call the series before the editor suggested otherwise.
  • In Sailor Moon, Minako/Sailor Venus is intended to work as Princess Serenity's Body Double, and they even have similar looks (and disguise powers). Usagi/Sailor Moon/Princess Serenity is an Expy of Minako, who first debuted in Codename: Sailor V a year before her.
  • Sgt. Frog: In episode 12-B of the English dub, Kululu accidentally calls Giroro "Giro" — which was his name in the preliminary dub (of that same episode no less)
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball Z was originally going to have Android 19 and Android 20 be the androids from the future. When they appear, they are instead mistaken for the androids from the future.
    • In a way, Goten's design from GT resembles that of a unused design for what Gohan would've looked like during DBZ's Buu arc.
  • Silver from Fairy Tail was planned to be Deliora using the corpse of Gray's father as a vessel. When an editor pointed out a glaring Plot Hole in the scenario, however, it was changed to a story Silver made up, with Silver making a suitable Oh, Crap! face the moment his bluff is called.
  • Powerpuff Girls Z has one episode that featured a remake of the Mojo Jojo battle from the original (unreleased on DVD to this day) Tokyo Anime Fair pilot from 2005. One of the girls even wonders if Mojo's robot looks familiar.
  • One Piece:
    • The series has a few references to Romance Dawn, a one shot manga that would serve as a basis for One Piece.
      • Right out of the gate Romance Dawn is used as the title for the first story arc, Chapters 1 and 601, and Volumes 1 and 61.
      • The opening "We Go!" has the lyric "break of romance dawn".
    • Before their fight, the zombie Ryuma calls Zoro’s Santoryuu a “circus act”, referring to how in early development for Zoro, he was to be a member of Buggy’s crew.
  • SPY × FAMILY: Bumbling spy Daybreak resembles an early character design for ace spy Twilight, which makes it appropriate that Daybreak is Twilight's foil.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering has loads of these. Word of God says that they use intentionally absurd names in an attempt to defy the trope for the most part, but they can get quite creative when it comes to sneaking subtle in-jokes into the final names. Amongst the notable ones are Telim'Tor, whose name is an anagram of his playtest/development name, Mr Toilet; and Sol Grail, whose name is an anagram of Gorillas, which were the playtest/development race for every creature in Alliances.
    • Maro was submitted to the development file for Mirage with its creator's username (MaRo for Mark Rosewater) for the database instead of a placeholder name. No-one noticed the mistake until the Creative department had already commissioned the art, so it stayed.
    • The enchantment card Pemmin's Aura, (which gives a creature the same laundry list of abilities boasted by the infamous Morphling), is an anagram for its development name, I Am Superman.This is a reference to the REM song of the same name:
      I am, I am superman
      And I can do anything...
    • Hyalopterous Lemure combined this with a Call-Back nearly a decade in the making. A lemure is an obscure type of angry ghost. A Lemur is an adorable type of primate. As you can see from the art, the artist was not aware of the former - though they perfectly understood "Hyalopterous" (having glassy or transparent wings). Flash forward years later, and someone has the same problem in the Flavor Text of Viscid Lemures
      "Lemurs? Is that all? Finally, something harmless…"
      —Norin the Wary

    Comic Books 
  • Not exactly a joke, but Invincible later introduced a character called Bulletproof who used Invincible's initial name and costume. In-story, the costume was even developed for Invincible but rejected.
  • In the final storyline of DC Comics' Hourman title (the one about the "diamond generation intelligent machine colony from the 853rd century, DNA-programmed with Miraclo gene biosoftware") he was confronted with a further-future version of himself, who was much better at both being a hero and being a person than him (it turned out to be Amazo). The design for the future Hourman was identical to an early design seen in the Hourman sketchbook given away with Wizard when the title began.
  • Marvel Comics has had several references to a character named 'Coal Tiger', which was one of several names that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were bandying back and forth as a possible name for the character who in mainstream continuity in the Marvel Universe became Black Panther. These include:
    • The Black Panther's son in the Marvel Comics 2 alternate future.
    • An alternate universe version of T'Challa himself, who appeared in The Avengers Vol. 1 #355 as part of a storyline about the Gatherers, a group of former Avengers from different universes. This version had a costume based on Jack Kirby's original design for the character, which previously had only appeared on a pin-up.
    • A Coal Tiger is mentioned in Captain America Vol. 1 #389 as an opponent of the Zambian villainess Impala.
    • In Black Panther Vol. 3 #60, the Coal Tigers are mentioned as being a rank in the Panther Cult.
  • The working name for the Dinobot Swoop was Divebomb. The Transformers Marvel UK comics said that was his name back in Cybertron. Some time later, when Hasbro coincidentally made a Decepticon named Divebomb as part of the Predacons, the comics explained that Swoop lost his name to him after a defeat.
  • The Transformers Armada and Transformers Energon comics by Dreamwave featured a minor Autobot Red Shirt named Dropshot, whose design was based on an unreleased G1 Triple Changer toy.
  • The title of DC's Reign of the Supermen event which tied into The Death of Superman event is a reference to Reign Of The Superman which featured the first Superman character Siegel and Shuster developed.
  • The Doctor Who Magazine comic strip "Fire and Brimstone" featured a war between the Daleks and spider-like Daleks from an alternate universe. The spider-Daleks look very similar to the controversial Dalek designs from one version of Last of the Time Lords, the unmade Doctor Who reboot movie that was floating around in The '90s.
  • The Doctor Who (Titan) comics have a couple of examples:
    • The section of the Eleventh Doctor Year Two series that returns to the setting of the cancelled TV story "Shada" includes many metafictional in-jokes about the story's unfinished nature and ambiguous canonicity.
    • In the Ninth Doctor story "Doctormania", the fake "Doctor Who" has a companion called Penny, who shares a name with a never-was companion who Russell T Davies conceived for Series Four in case Catherine Tate was unable to commit to a regular role as Donna.
    • In the classic Doctor teasers for Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen, the Cybermen threatening the Fourth Doctor depart from the conceit that each Doctor is attacked by "his" Cybermen by being apparently based on the version designed for the unmade 30th anniversary special "The Dark Dimension" (a Fourth-centric story about the Doctor's timeline being rewritten). The War Doctor - since there obviously isn't a "War Doctor Era" Cyberman design - faces Cybermen based on an early concept for the "Age of Steel" versions.
  • Pax Americana #1 is basically Watchmen as originally intended—that is, with Charlton Comics characters instead of ersatzes. One exception is Thunderbolt, the model for Ozymandias, but not owned by DC. President Harley is something of an expy for both.
  • In the Jem and the Holograms series from IDW, Jetta is given a Race Lift and made into a young black woman. This is a nod to fact that originally, Jetta was going to be black in the animated series before Executive Meddling caused her to become a white Englishwoman instead.
  • Harper Row plays a major role in Cassandra Cain's return during Batman and Robin Eternal. At the start of the New 52, Harper was created as a replacement for Cass after Scott Snyder was denied permission to use her in his Batman run.
  • IDW's Back to the Future:
    • Doc Brown's prototype flux capacitor is called a temporal field capacitor, which was the original name of the flux capacitor in early script drafts of the first Back to the Future.
    • In the miniseries Biff to the Future, the alternate timeline Doc makes his time machine out of a refrigerator. This is a reference to an early script of the first film that was nixed for fear kids would try to re-enact it and get trapped in fridges.
  • In an early Doctor Strange story in Strange Tales, a generic character is called "Frau Lieber". Writer Stan Lee was born Stanley Lieber; he had assumed a Pen Name specifically for writing comics note  and ended up sticking with it.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): In the development for the first game, Sonic had a blonde, human girlfriend named "Madonna" who acted as Damsel in Distress. The Archie comic later retooled her into the G.U.N. agent Madonna Garnet.
  • In a The Flash 80 Page Giant story with the conceit that the DCU version of Mark Millar is quizzing Wally West for story ideas, Wally mentions the comics used to make up names for heroes with secret identities, only to have to change them when so many went public. Millar replies that the only one they're really embarassed about is calling John Stewart "Jefferson Washington". In fact, Stewart was very nearly named "Lincoln Washington" by Julius Schwartz.
  • In Legion of Super-Heroes (2020), Ferro Lad in this continuity is shown to be Black. When Jim Shooter created the original Ferro Lad in the Silver Age, he wasn't allowed to make the character African American because DC didn't want to lost distribution in the South.
  • It's not exactly a joke, but in Dark Nights: Death Metal The Last 52: War of the Multiverses, one of the Evil Twins making up the Batman Who Laughs' army is a psychotic Serial Killer version of Wally West dual-wielding handguns, and who murdered the patients at Sanctuary on purpose. This is widely rumored/suspected to have been DC's original plan for Heroes in Crisis until massive fan outrage forced them to change course at the last minute. In what is also a pretty pointed Take That! to the series, the alternate Wally is unceremoniously killed by Roy Harper, who then assures the real Wally that he could never have been that.
    • Similarly, in a later issue, Barry Allen fights an alternate Wally riding the Mobius Chair and wielding Dr Manhattan powers, representing the cancelled "5G" reboot (which was going to feature Wally trying to rewrite the timeline), which Barry explicitly calls a "bad idea".
  • Black Lightning: The original pitch for DC Comics' first black superhero was going to be "The Black Bomber", a white racist who has a Superpowered Alter Ego in the form of a superpowered black man. Writer Tony Isabella, who had been tapped to write this, found the pitch ridiculously racist, and so offered instead Black Lightning. In the 2000s Justice League of America, Vixen finds herself trapped in an altered reality where heroes have been reinvented in ridiculous ways, and among them Mari meets Black Lightning's reinvented self: Brown Bomber, a casually racist white guy who turns into a stereotypical black man. Mari (a black woman) is very understandably unamused.

    Films — Animation 
  • The commentary for Atlantis: The Lost Empire tells a story about how there used to be a mystic named Zoltan (who used to speak in the third person) along for the ride. At one point everybody sounds off after falling down a hole. For the longest time he was still there shouting "Zoltan is okay!" even after his character had been written out of the script.
  • Near the end of Beauty and the Beast, while the enchanted furniture are fighting off the villagers, a music box can be seen among said furniture. That music box was originally going to be Belle's sidekick.
  • At one point in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' development, Flint was trying to get into the Science League, headed by Vance LaFleur. You can still see a poster for the League in his room and lab.
  • In Despicable Me, the Minions were originally going to be human. The guards at PX-Labs in the sequel are based on the original concept.
  • In The Emperor's New Groove, there is at least one reference to a small, mystical guide to the Emperor, despite the fact that he was written out of the plot: he appears as a candle-holder during the poisoning scene.
  • Frozen:
    • Part of "For The First Time In Forever" uses the tune from Anna's unused song "More Than Just A Spare".
    • Some of Elsa's more flamboyant movements during "Let It Go" date back to when it was a sassy Villain Song. It ends up making her look confident, so it works well despite the change in tone.
    • The start of "Making Today A Perfect Day For You" from "Frozen Fever" reuses the tune of the unused song "Life's Too Short", that was replaced with "For The First Time In Forever (Reprise)" in the final film.
    • "Life's Too Short" itself uses elements of an earlier song, from an even earlier incarnation where Elsa was the villain, named "Cool With Me". The two songs are different in topic and tone, however they both share a theme of Elsa telling Anna about how she loves her powers and later the two arguing, though in "Cool With Me" Anna is (rightfully) upset about Elsa kidnapping her from her own wedding and disapproving of her sister while in "Life's Too Short" they get into an argument when Elsa thinks Anna wants to make her conceal herself again.
      Cool With Me
    Elsa: We've been falling out for way too long. So let's forget I'm right and forget you're wrong. Okay! Let's try forgiving, we could learn to live in harmony.
    Life's Too Short:
    Elsa: We've been falling out for way too long.
    Anna: So let's forget who's right—
    Elsa: And forget who's wrong.
    Both: Okay!
    Elsa: Why don't you stay? There's room for family in my court.
  • Near the very beginning of The Rescuers, Madame Medusa can actually be seen driving a large red sports car to New York City Airport, not unlike the one driven by Cruella DeVil. Originally, the villain of The Rescuers was actually indeed going to be Cruella DeVil! So in fact, that car doesn't just look like Cruella's, that car is Cruella's.
  • Robots has several. The robot with the jet pack seen waiting in line on Big Weld's TV show is an early design for Rodney, and Jack Hammer, the owner of the hardware store Rodney and his friends visit was originally a director from an early treatment. Scenes from early test footage with the director character appear as photos on Aunt Fanny's home.
  • One of the drawings during the end credits of Tangled shows Rapunzel and Flynn consulting a fortune-telling monkey, in reference to a deleted scene in which Rapunzel and Flynn escape some guards with the help of a gypsy and her pet monkey.
  • Toy Story:
    • In Toy Story 3, there is a bumper sticker on Andy Davis' drawer labelled "Newt Xing", a possible reference to the cancelled Pixar film Newt.
    • Many ideas from the first Toy Story made it into the second. Originally the first movie was going to open on a clip from the TV cartoon the Buzz Lightyear toy was from, which got reworked as the video game opening for the sequel.
    • The idea for having a villainous teddy bear, as seen in Toy Story 3, actually predates the Toy Story franchise itself, to a proposed Christmas special based on Tin Toy
  • In Zootopia, an early draft in which Nick was the protagonist had him at one point working for a restaurant in the rodent district called Chez Cheez. This plot point, along with a great many others, got dropped during a massive rewrite. Nonetheless, a billboard advertising for this restaurant appears in the final movie, as a background element in the scene where Judy chases Weaselton through that district.
  • When Buddy is showing off his homemade rocket boots to Mr. Incredible in The Incredibles, he smugly asks Mr. Incredible "Can you fly?". An early idea for the film had Mr. Incredible as the only member of the Parr family that couldn't fly (and being a bit self-conscious about it).
  • The Lion King (2019) has several examples:
    • This rendition of the "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" sequence ends with Simba and Nala cuddling on a large rock in a forested cliffside region, similar to the end of an early version of the same scene from the 1994 production.
    • Several Call-Back examples from scrapped characters include:
      • The bat-eared fox is a callback to Bhati, a unused character from early drafts of the original film who was one of Simba and Nala's childhood friends.
      • The aardvark is a callback to Daabi, another unused character from early drafts of the original film who was also one of Simba and Nala's childhood friends.
    • At the end of the film when Simba is reuniting with his friends and family after the battle, the rain causes the mane on Simba’s crown to be matted down and more closely resemble a scrapped hairdo his animated counterpart originally sported.
    • Simba seated in-between his father's forelimbs as he learns about the kings of the past (as opposed to being on his back as in the original) a position reminiscent of a similar scene between Simba and Sarabi from early in the development of the original film.
  • In Sherlock Gnomes, the name on the moving van that moves the gnomes to London is Sherrinford Movers. Sherrinford Bell was Arthur Conan Doyle's originally proposed name for Sherlock Holmes.
  • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water:
    • In The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, a deleted scene (storyboarded but not animated) revealed that Sandy was planned to make a cameo appearance on the surface world as a real squirrel. Come this film, and Sandy dons the appearance of a real squirrel in her superhero form.
    • Burgerbeard's food cart is called the Barnacle Burger, which was an early name for the Krabby Patty.
    • Squidward inking himself when he's nervous was originally going to be a regular gag on the show, but they could never find a way to do it properly until now.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • At the Kentucky Derby In The Hustler, the race announcer lists some of the horses racing. One of them is named "Stroke of Luck", a proposed alternate title for the film.
  • Cinderella (2015): The scene with the stag was based on a deleted scene from the original film, although originally the stag was friends with the prince and never actually in any danger. Another planned sequence would have involved the prince disguising himself as a gypsy...and Kit also seems to enjoy disguises.
  • Godzilla (2014): The way Godzilla kills the female MUTO is the same way he killed the Gryphon in the script of Godzilla (1994). In the same vein, Godzilla is awakened to specifically fight two kaiju endangering the Earth — and one is winged.
  • Blade Runner 2049 opens with one. The commentary for the DVD of the original Blade Runner describes an early concept of opening the movie with a steaming pot on a stove, followed by a large farmer in overalls entering the kitchen, where the Blade Runner is sitting there, waiting for him. The scene would've ended with the Blade Runner killing said farmer, who was of course a Replicant. The actual scene of the sequel has some notable differences from the original "stove top" opening concept, but the visuals make it all a giant Easter Egg for anyone who really knows their "Blade Runner" trivia.
  • Spider-Man 2: The film has a couple of playful jabs at Tobey Maguire's back problems, which nearly forced him to drop out. This includes the "I'm back, I'm back! ...My back, my back!" scene, and a Freeze-Frame Bonus Bugle headline claiming link between back pain and brain shrinkage. That headline is actually a lot more mean-spirited than it seems: Maguire's back problems were a point of contention on set, and it was generally assumed by most of the production staff that he was using his condition to avoid showing up on the set or working on days that he didn't feel like it (regardless of whether or not that was true). At one point, they even threatened to fire and replace him.
  • Star Wars:
    • Most blatant would be Rey, an obvious nod to when Lucas contemplated making his original protagonist, in Luke's role, female. (Rey is her own character, but the parallels to Luke's are numerous and blatant, even in their clothes.)
    • A lot of names from the early, unused drafts of Star Wars continue to pop up in newer works. "Starkiller", Luke's original surname, shows up a lot, and Mace Windu's name can be traced back to "Mace Windy" from the first treatment.
    • Similarly, the planet "Utapau", which was originally a blue planet with many moons mentioned in the first draft of "The Star Wars", then became the preliminary name for Tatooine, then the preliminary name for Naboo, and finally appeared in Episode III as a green planet with many moons and dotted with sinkholes.
    • Other names that can be traced back to previous drafts, where they were used in different contexts, include "Valorum", "Sith", "Clieg" (Cliegg), "Whitsun" (Whitesun), "Bail", "Antilles", "Ogana" (Organa), "Dai Noga" (Dianoga), "Grande Mouff Tarkin" (Grand Moff Tarkin)... even "Annikin" (Anakin).
    • There's an odd example of what seems to be a genuine inside joke in the original movie's first draft. George Lucas's earliest concept for Star Wars back in 1971 centred around two main characters: the Jedi-Bendu master Mace Windy and his apprentice Chuiee "C.J." Thape – but this was quickly abandoned. However, in the first draft there's an extended sequence in the middle where there's an attack run on the Death Star (ultimately unsuccessful, in which all the hero fighter pilots are killed). None of the film's main characters appear in this sequence, which instead focuses on two pilots with the callsigns "Pilot Leader" and "Devil Two" – whose real names are given in dialogue as "Mace" and "Chewie" respectively.
    • One draft of the script for Return of the Jedi featured the Millennium Falcon being lost with all hands at Endor. Han alludes to this in the final version:
      Leia: Hey, you awake?
      Han: (gazing at the Falcon) Yeah, I just got a funny feeling. Like I'm not going to see her again.
    • "Revenge of the Sith" was presumably named after the working title for Episode VI, "Revenge" of the Jedi.
    • An early code name for Star Wars, "Blue Harvest," also appears frequently in the Expanded Universe.
    • The design of the Tantive IV, Leia's spaceship in A New Hope, is taken from a rejected early design for the Millenium Falcon.
    • Rey's speeder, featured prominently in advertising for The Force Awakens, looks so uncannily like a fudge popsicle that the resemblance couldn't possibly have been unintentional. Considering the film's Revisiting the Roots approach to the original trilogy, this was likely a reference to Lucas' original inspiration for the Millennium Falcon—which, according to Word of God, was inspired by a half-eaten hamburger with an olive next to it.
    • In the 1974 rough draft of "The Star Wars", the Starkillers (later "Skywalkers") were said to hail from the planet "Aquilae", and the movie began with them returning to their home planet to defend it from the Empire. Ponda Baba ("Walrus Man"), the tusked alien who accosts Luke at the Mos Eisley cantina, was later revealed to be an "Aqualish", one of several species hailing from the planet Ando.
    • In one early draft of "The Star Wars", Princess Leia's mother, Queen Breha of Aquilae note , was a major supporting character, and a key plot point involved her abdicating the throne to Leia. In the final version of the series, of course, Leia's mother was Padmé Amidala, who died in the prequels—but Queen Breha of Alderaan (Bail Organa's wife) was eventually established as her stepmother.
    • "The Star Wars" was originally going to have a young up-and-coming Jedi named "Annikin Starkiller" [sic] as its protagonist from the beginning, and "General Luke Skywalker" was supposed to be the leader of the Rebellion. Lucas eventually decided to merge the two characters for simplicity's sake, making Luke the protagonist of the series instead, but made "Anakin Skywalker" Luke's father as a reference to the earlier version of the character.
    • The Battle Amongst the Flames on the volcanic planet of Mustafar at the very end of Revenge of the Sith is a reference to the originally planned ending of Return of the Jedi, which was sketched out in Ralph McQuarrie's concept art but never brought to life. Before Lucas decided to set the Final Battle between Luke and Vader on a second Death Star, he wanted to end the Original Trilogy with an epic face-off at Emperor Palpatine's private Supervillain Lair, located next to a giant lake of lava on the (then-unnamed) Imperial capital world. McQuarrie wasn't involved in the prequels, having retired in the 1990's, but some shots on Mustafar are recreated almost entirely from his drawings.
    • Rey's outfit for the majority of The Force Awakens was confirmed to be inspired by Luke in A New Hope, but it seems the filmmakers took inspiration from early concept art from the period in which Lucas played with the idea of making Luke a girl. Fitting, since Rey takes up Luke's role of The Hero.
    • Early concept art of R2-D2 shows him rolling on a ball bearing, much like BB-8 from The Force Awakens.
    • Lucas originally wanted the climactic Final Battle in Return of the Jedi to take place on Chewbacca's home planet Kashyyyk, but had to scrap the idea because it would have required too many expensive Wookiee costumes for his extras. As a more affordable alternative, he came up with a climactic battle on a different planet inhabited by much smaller forest-dwelling aliens—whose costumes would be much cheaper to manufacture. As a reference to the fact that they were originally Wookiees, Lucas switched the two syllables in "Wookiee" ("WOK-EE") and called the new aliens "Ewoks" ("EE-WOK").
  • The Dark Knight had Batman undergo a costume change in order to be able to fight faster and turn his head. This was done because Christian Bale had his fill of the Batsuit in the first installment, and wanted a more comfortable design.
  • In Aliens, Hudson teases Vasquez by saying "When they said 'Alien', she thought they said 'Illegal Alien' and signed up." Vasquez' actress actually did make that mistake, and showed up to the auditions dressed as a migrant worker.
  • In Alien: Covenant, the Neomorph's design is based on the Beluga alien design that was going to appear in an earlier draft of Prometheus, Alien: Engineers.
  • In the film adaptation of The Flintstones, Fred is accidentally referred to as Mr. Flagstone. The original name for the show was The Flagstones.
  • Star Trek:
    • This example might actually be an urban legend: The Enterprise XCV-330, first seen in the recreation room in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, is often claimed to be based upon a rejected design by Matt Jefferies for the NCC-1701. But there is evidence that Jefferies actually might have designed it at some time after the end of TOS, for another Roddenberry-project which never did come into fruition.
    • Possibly related: the "Jefferies tubes" that Star Trek characters crawl around in to whenever they need to get into the real guts of their ships may be a nod to his last name and role in ship design for the series.
    • Until very late in production, John Harrison in Star Trek Into Darkness was called John Ericssen, a name that the character who became Khan had in early drafts of "Space Seed". This was changed, because it was feared that too many Trekkers knew that, and it would give the game away.
  • The Indiana Jones films have famously gone through a lot of work before getting to what we saw in theatres. For example, an early version of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was set predominantly in a haunted castle, which is reference with Brunwald castle (in which Henry Jones Sr is held captive) and an early title for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was Indiana Jones and the Saucermen from Mars - Indy dismisses the crystal skulls as belonging to "Saucermen from Mars" when he is interrogated by Irina in the tent.
  • In Back to the Future Part II, Biff is listening to Perry Como's "Papa Loves Mambo" on the radio while driving to the dance. Word of God explained in the DVD commentary that they almost used "Papa Loves Mambo" in Part I for the "Mister Sandman" Sequence, but ended up using "Mr. Sandman" instead. They stuck the Perry Como song into Part II as their way of referencing this little inside joke.
  • Pride & Prejudice (2005) has an unusual one. It's not a movie development gag but a book development gag. Early in the movie, Elizabeth is seen reading a book titled "First Impressions." "First Impressions" was the original title Jane Austen gave "Pride and Prejudice." Also, when the pages of the book are shown, it's revealed that Elizabeth is reading the last chapter of "Pride and Prejudice" with the characters' names changed.
  • I Am Legend includes a development gag to another movie - a giant poster in Times Square has a Superman/Batman logo. Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman was hired to write a Batman vs Superman film before it fell through.
  • Steven Spielberg had hired go-motion expert Phil Tippett to do the Jurassic Park dinosaurs. Then ILM did an awesome demo of computer-generated dinos. The exchange when Spielberg showed Tippett said demo ("You're out of a job", "Don't you mean extinct?") became a dialogue in the movie.
  • "Tales From Year Zero" is FULL of references to earlier versions of the script for Pacific Rim before Guillermo Del Toro became involved with the project; for example, the comic's main character Naomi Sokolov was the film's deuteragonist, traveling the world to find out the reasons behind the Kaiju, and the simulated death of Yancy Beckett by Kaiju tongue was how he actually died.
    • There's a scene in Pacific Rim where Gypsy Danger punches through an office building. The shot includes a closeup of a desk with a Newton's Cradle that gets bumped by the fist. This was a miniature shot, and on the desk's cubicle wall is a piece of paper. The paper is actually a shrunk down ILM shot sheet that shows how far behind their shooting schedule they were at that point.note 
  • Godzilla (2014) has one scene where Las Vegas gets attacked by a Muto. Las Vegas was going to be the primary setting of Godzilla 3D to the Max, the IMAX 3D short film project that was gradually repurposed into this feature-length film.
  • In Looper, when Young Joe tells Old Seth he's saving his earnings to go to France when he's older, Old Seth tells him that as a person from the future he should go to China instead, mirroring the way scenes originally intended to be set in France were changed to China when the film's Chinese distributor was able to secure funding and permission to shoot in and around Shanghai.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), Vernon misinterprets April's description of the turtles, asking if they're aliens. April points out how stupid that idea sounds. This was exactly how the fans reacted during very early development when a leaked script (that wasn't even real) had the turtles be aliens.
  • A Face in the Crowd ends with Lonesome Rhodes standing on his penthouse balcony as if about to jump to his death, still pleading for Marcia not to leave him. Mel says, "I don't figure him for a suicide." This line obviously came from a comment on a draft script which did end with Lonesome's suicide.
  • Predators has an extraterrestrial who employs the original design for the Predator himself (before the producers felt it didn't work and hired Stan Winston to design the eventual mandibled beast).
  • Addams Family Values adds a Canon Foreigner baby boy named Pubert to the titular family. None of the main characters were given first names until the comic strip was adapted into a tv show, and creator Charles Addams' original proposed name for Pugsley was Pubert.
  • A sort of meta example since it wasn't mentioned in the film, but supplementary material reveals that Jurassic World's titular park opened in 2005 and its plot takes place ten years after. The film itself was originally meant to be released in 2005, but was trapped in Development Hell and ended up setting up for a 2015 release date.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • When the first film was released, it helped start a tradition that characters normally clad in colorful spandex costumes instead opt for more practical black outfits. As such, it's lampshaded when Wolverine asks if they go outside in the suits when Cyclops activates the X-Jet for the final battle: "What would you prefer? Yellow spandex?"
    • Deadpool describes Professor X as a "bald, Heaven's Gate-looking motherfucker," but then later asks whether the Professor is "McAvoy or Stewart?" The former showed up for X-Men: First Class with his head shaved, but the producers wanted the young Charles Xavier to have hair, so McAvoy had to wear extensions during much of that movie's filming.
  • The 2017 Power Rangers reboot movie attracted a bit of controversy for two Race Lifts among the main cast: Billy Cranston (the Blue Ranger), Caucasian in the series, is here played by African-American actor R.J. Cyler, while Trini Kwan (the Yellow Ranger), Asian in the series, is played by Hispanic singer-actress Becky Gomez. If you know your Power Rangers history, though, you might recognize both of those casting choices as subtle nods to the originally planned version of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. According to Word of God, the African-American Walter Jones (Zack Taylor) was originally going to play the Blue Ranger instead of the Black Ranger, and the Yellow Ranger was played by Hispanic actress Audri Dubois in the unaired pilot before the Vietnamese-American Thuy Trang (Trini) was brought in to replace her.
  • The post-credits scene in Ant-Man features Hank Pym offering his daughter Hope the chance to follow in her mother's footsteps and become The Wasp. As soon as Hope sees the newly-built Wasp costume, she smiles knowingly and says "It's about damn time". This is a subtle nod to the fact that the Wasp was originally supposed to debut in The Avengers (2012), three years before Ant-Man came out.
  • At the end of Beauty and the Beast (2017), Belle asks the Beast if he could grow a beard. This was actually a cut line from the animated version.

  • The Xanth character Jenny Elf is based on a real life reader, who was given the choice of being an elf or an ogre in the books. The ogre she could have been later showed up, jealous at having missed her shot at becoming a main character.
    • The Good Magician Humfrey, a cranky old man with the talent of having all the answers (and no patience for those without them), and his wife/Cloudcuckoolander's Minder the Gorgon were based initially on the husband and wife team at the helm of Del Rey books, Lester and Judy Lynn del Rey. After Judy Lynn's passing and Anthony leaving Del Rey for another publisher, they disappeared from the books for a time. Later they returned, with Anthony seeming to adopt Humfrey as an Author Avatar for another cranky old man who had to be periodically prodded into sending the next batch of adventurers out into the land of Xanth.
  • A sort of sequel-by-other-hands/fanon development gag: In his biography of Sherlock Holmes, William S. Baring-Gould speculated that if, as stated by Arthur Conan Doyle, the Holmes family were county squires, Sherlock and Mycroft must have an older brother, or else Mycroft would be the squire and would therefore be maintaining the estate up in Yorkshire. The development gag is that Baring-Gould named this brother "Sherrinford"; Doyle originally called Holmes "Sherrinford Hope".
  • In The Truth, there's a brief mention of the dwarfs mixing up ink for the printing engine from an old well beneath the building. It's a little detail that doesn't mean anything ... unless you know that the earliest plotline Terry Pratchett came up with for a "newspapers on the Discworld" novel was "what if it's printed with ink that has accidentally been mixed with water from the Well of Truth?"
  • Star Trek: Myriad Universes
    • In the novella Seeds of Dissent, set in a universe where Khan Noonien Singh won the Eugenics Wars, and the human cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine are all descendants of his followers, Julian Bashir is the captain of the starship Defiance. The ship's doctor is Constantin Amoros, who shares a bloodline with Bashir, and therefore has a similar appearance. Early DS9 planning documents called Dr Bashir "Dr Julian Amoros".
    • In the novella A Less Perfect Union, the communications officer on Pike's Enterprise is Lieutenant Penda who turns out to be a cover identity for Starfleet Intelligence Agent Nyota Uhura. "Penda" was an early Fanon proposal for Uhura's first name, before the fandom decided on "Nyota".
  • In Stephen Baxter's official sequel to The Time Machine, The Time Ships, the Time Traveller's younger self is named (or nicknamed) "Moses" and a Morlock from an alternate future is called Nebogipfel. In Wells's first time travel story, "The Chronic Argonauts", the traveller is named Dr Moses Nebogipfel.
  • According to J. R. R. Tolkien's introduction to the poetry collection The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book, the poem "Errantry" must have been written by Bilbo early in his life, before he knew much about Elves (since the "Elvish" names are invented and it has no connection to Middle-Earth's "real" Elvish traditions) and the meter formed the basis for his later epic poem about the Elvish legend of Eärendil, as seen in The Lord of the Rings. It also suggests Bilbo must have been quite proud of the meter, which was his own invention. In the real world, "Errantry" was first published in The Oxford Magazine in 1933, and was not intended to be part of Tolkien's Legendarium until he used the meter (which he invented) for "Eärendillinwë".
  • In the comments to an Arc 13 Interlude chapter of Worm, a chapter in which Imp (a teammate of the protagonist) uses her Perception Filter superpower to spy upon the Slaughterhouse Nine (a band of supervillain Serial Killers), the author mentions Imp's inspiration: a member of the earliest draft of the Slaughterhouse Nine called "Nice Guy" whose power was to be the guy you would never suspect, fading into the background until he could cut your throat without your even considering him a suspect. Which makes it hilarious in the first chapter of Arc 26 when a resurrected ex-member of the Slaughterhouse Nine called "Nice Guy" starts using his power on the heroes (and Anti Villains) to divert suspicion from himself in preparation to killing them, and Imp takes him out with the Bond One-Liner "My schtick."

    Live Action TV 
  • When Joel Surnow first got the idea for 24, all he really knew was that he wanted it to take place within a 24-hour timespan. His first idea was to do a show about planning for a wedding, and all of the crazy hijinks that happen in the 24 hours before it. Fittingly, the first part of Day 2 is about a family getting ready for a wedding.
  • In Criminal Minds, Jason Gideon's name was originally Jason Donovan. This is the name of the author of a book Gideon finds in an UnSub's apartment in one episode.
  • Friends: On the normal show, Monica and Chandler fall in love and are Happily Married for years. All sounds normal, though Monica mentions she once had crush on Joey and Chandler is sometimes Mistaken for Gay. In the original plan, Monica and Joey were the shows Official Couple and Chandler was gay. It's a sign of how much can change that the shows most constant couple would never have been imagined in early drafts.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Robot" contains a scene where the recently regenerated Doctor is happy to see his new nose, regarding it as an improvement. Terrance Dicks added this in as a friendly jab at Jon Pertwee, who was hugely sensitive about his big nose and refused to be shot from certain angles because of it.
    • In "The Seeds of Doom", a character is confused by the Fourth Doctor's appearance, saying he'd expected someone older. This is a reference to how Robert Holmes' original concept for the Fourth Doctor had been an elderly eccentric, but they'd ended up casting an actor who was younger than any of the previous Doctors had been (a controversial decision in the fandom at the time).
    • Tom Baker alters a line in "The Robots of Death" to refer to robophobia as "Grimwade's Syndrome", referencing Peter Grimwade, a production assistant who tended to always end up working on robot stories.
    • The Gallifreyan writing (inside hexagons) seen in the new series resembles the strange abstract hexagonal design made by Susan, the Doctor's grand-daughter, in an un-aired pilot for Doctor Who.
    • This is how Aliens in Cardiff came to be, starting in "The Unquiet Dead". Since BBC Wales films there, it's treated as a borderline Place Worse Than Death in-universe, with everyone astonished that anything interesting happens there. "I saw the fall of Troy! World War Five! Now I'm gonna die in a dungeon... in Cardiff."
    • The Doctor's scoffing "You've been watching too much TV" when Martha asks if the Master is his secret brother in "The Sound of Drums" is funnier when you know that this concept had been considered ever since the era of the first Master, Roger Delgado, in which the Third Doctor’s final story was planned to be a showdown with the Master that revealed the two Time Lords to be either brothers or two aspects of the same character. Then Delgado died. This was also referenced in the Master’s final words in Planet of Fire, and controversial early plans for what became The TV Movie would have included this identity for the Master as a plot element in a full Continuity Reboot.
    • In the new series, the season 4 premier "Partners in Crime" featured a character named Penny Carter. Penny Carter was the name of the original companion for Season 4. However, Catherine Tate, who had previously appeared as Donna Noble in "The Runaway Bride", had such a great time, she asked if she could come back. So, Penny was written out and Donna was written in.
    • The Doctor correcting Donna's pronunciation of "Sontaran" in "The Poison Sky". The way Donna pronounces it, with the emphasis on the "Son", is the way the director of the first Sontaran story, Alan Bromly, thought it should be pronounced. Kevin Lindsay, who played Linx, won that argument on the grounds that "I'm from the bloody planet!"
    • Lady Christina, the single-story companion-substitute in "Planet of the Dead", is very similar to what has been publicly stated as the concept of the companion who would have replaced Ace had the original show had a twenty-seventh season.
    • "The Snowmen" borrows heavily from two shitcanned Tom Baker-era scripts - "The Doctor Retires", a Douglas Adams concept about the Doctor going into retirement and ending up dragged back out again, and "The Gaslight Murders", which featured the Doctor teaming up with a plucky Victorian Cockney girl companion (an early concept for Leela) to solve alien murders.
    • Clara's headstone in 1892 states that she was born on 23 November 1866 and that she died on 24 December 1892, meaning she not only shares the same birthday (though not the year) as Doctor Who itself but that she was also 26 years old when she died — the exact same age as Doctor Who was when it was cancelled in 1989.
    • Continuing this, Clara's mother died March 5, 2005 — the same day that the new series premiered.
    • Victorian Clara uses the name "Miss Montague" when working as a governess. One of the early ideas for the new companion was a Victorian governess named Beryl Montague.
  • Star Trek:
  • Some of the ideas from the original pilot for Heroes that were scrapped made it into the show. The most notable example is the character Ted Sprague, who was based on an Islamic terrorist featured in the original pilot.
  • Lost: An important character in Eko's flashback episode is named Emeka. Emeka was originally Eko's name during casting of the role, and numerous magazines reported it as his name when the actor was cast. It was changed to Eko shortly before filming began.
  • In the Seinfeld episode "The Betrayal", we get a flashback to Jerry and Kramer's first meeting, where the former calls the latter "Kessler" before being corrected. Kessler was the character's original name in the pilot episode.
  • The two-part episode "The Menagerie" of Star Trek: The Original Series features extensive footage of the (at that time yet) unaired first pilot "The Cage". Apart from Leonard Nimoy as Spock, the cast was completely different, and also the design of the sets and the uniforms differed somewhat. "The Cage"-footage cleverly was used as Flashback to an earlier point in Spock's career. The episode also established that Christopher Pike, the Captain of the Enterprise in said unaired pilot, was actually Kirk's predecessor; this detail would even go on to influence Star Trek (2009), which portrayed Pike as Kirk's mentor.
  • At an early point in its development, Kamen Rider was going to be called "Crossfire" and star a crime-fighting wrestler. The Crisis Crossover Grand Finale of Kamen Rider Wizard paid tribute to this by introducing a Meta Origin for the entire franchise: an object called the Cross of Fire, which is the literal embodiment of the powers all Kamen Riders possess.
    • Similarly, the helmets worn by the SPIRIT soldiers in Kamen Rider Spirits are based off unused concept art for Crossfire.
  • In The Nanny episode "The Butler, the Husband, the Wife and Her Mother", Fran Fine criticizes Maxwell Sheffield for wearing bright yellow rain boots with his suit, saying "Normally, you're so GQ. Now, you're the Gorton's Fisherman?". Charles Shaughnessy, who played Maxwell, had shown up to his original audition wearing those same exact boots.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • A cross-media gag, the episode with Merida in a starring role in both storylines is called "The Bear and the Bow", the Working Title for Brave.
    • In the Season One episode "Snow Fall", Emma inquires as to what Mary Margaret is doing out so late and Mary Margaret answers "I'm a teacher, not a nun. I was on a date." Mary Margaret was a nun in the original pilot script before being changed to a schoolteacher during production.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus:
    • Two of the show's working titles, "Whither Canada?" and "Owl Stretching Time", were reused as episode titles.
    • "Gwen Dibley's Flying Circus" was another working title, which was rejected because Gwen Dibley was the name of a real person; the Pythons liked the name, though, and they used it in some sketches.
  • In Luke Cage (2016), someone calls Claire Temple "night nurse" at one point. Claire is a Composite Character based on the eponymous character from the Luke Cage: Hero for Hire comics and Linda Carter, one of the main characters from obscure 70s series Night Nurse. The people behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe Netflix shows were originally going to use Linda, but had to fall back on Claire to avoid a possible conflict with a future movie.
  • In Ultraman, the title hero's first enemy Bemular derives his name from Bemlar, the prototype character who would eventually be developed into Ultraman. Similarly, the avian kaiju Hydra is physically based on the same Bemlar prototype.
    • Another foe of Ultraman, the yeti-like Woo, is named after the title character of the original pitch by Eiji Tsuburaya thhat would later be waysided by the Ultra Series. However, the original Woo concept would later be resurrected and retooled slightly as Bio Planet WoO in 2006.
  • The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance: skekGra's facial markings are based on those from a Skeksis concept design.
  • In Red Dwarf: The Promised Land, Rimmer spends a chunk of the story in "low power" mode, which turns him monochrome. This was intended to be the series' standard visual effect to indicate a hologram, but in 1988 they couldn't get it to work on-budget.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • Sometimes a pro wrestler will do subtle references back to previous gimmicks and characters they've had in the past, including all the way back to before they began with a company. For one example, former TNA wrestler Gunner wrestles in tights that have a broken glass theme. This seems a little out of place, unless you know that he wrestled on the indy circuit for years as Phill Shatter.
  • Similar to the TNA example above, former WWE wrestler Ryback's name likely won't make a lot of sense to those who don't know about him wrestling in the independents as Ryan "The Silverback" Reeves.
  • Probably the biggest example of this is Stone Cold Steve Austin's finishing move being called the "Stone Cold Stunner". He was known for years as "Stunning" Steve Austin in WCW.
    • Likewise, HHH's finisher is the "Pedigree", a callback to his former gimmick as a blueblooded snob.
  • Major feuds that occurred in developmental can reappear on the main roster, especially if both wrestlers turn out to be major stars. John Cena and Randy Orton, and Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins are two notable cases. In even more added irony, they would switch "roles" on the main roster. Initially, the former for both rivalries were the heels in developmental; on the main roster, they're the faces.

  • In Cabin Pressure, Captain Martin Crieff makes a living driving a van for his company Icarus Removals when he's not flying for MJN Air. The original name for MJN Air was meant to be Icarus Airlines, but as the character of Carolyn (the airline's owner) got fleshed out more he soon realised that she would never be daft enough to give it such a name. It was given to Martin's delivery company as a development gag.
  • Big Finish Doctor Who
    • In the drama Mistfall, a sequel to the TV serial "Full Circle" by the same writer, there is an evolved female Marshman named Fem. Fem was actually in an early draft of "Full Circle" before being replaced by an unnamed "Marshchild".
    • In the drama The Five Companions, a P.O.V. Sequel to the 20th anniversary special "The Five Doctors", the Fifth Doctor tells Ian Chesterton that he'd meant to visit him recently but hadn't managed it. The serial "Mawdryn Undead", from the 20th anniversary season had originally been intended to feature Ian, but the actor was unavailable.

  • During the construction of the Colorado Rockies' stadium, the workers discovered several dinosaur fossils, including a fully intact triceratops skull. This led to the team selecting a triceratops (Dinger) as their mascot.

  • William Shakespeare's Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 and The Merry Wives of Windsor all have gags playing off the fact that Falstaff was originally called Sir John Oldcastle, until the descendents of the real Oldcastle objected. In Part 1 Prince Hal calls him "My old lad of the castle"; in Part 2 he's given a detail of Oldcastle's career (he was page to Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk) and the Epilogue has the Suspiciously Specific Denial "Falstaff may die of a sweat ... for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this is not the man"; and in Merry Wives, when disguised as Herne, he seems to give his identity away by crying "Oh! Oh! Oh!" when burned (the joke being that he's crying "O!" for Oldcastle).
  • The original set of Spring Awakening includes a chalk board showing a list of songs in the show, and includes a couple references to places where songs were cut (for example, the name of the former act two opener "There Once Was a Pirate", can be seen written faintly above the name of its replacement.)
  • The musical and film Little Shop of Horrors contains a Villain Song sung by the Depraved Dentist Orin Scrivello. As composer Alan Menken explains in a documentary about his life and music, his father and many of the other men in his family are dentists — something which he also began to study for but gave up in order to pursue music instead. No doubt he and Howard Ashman, the lyricist, had fun writing the dentist's song!
  • The last scene of Funny Girl has Fanny saying to Nicky at one point, "You should've heard the rest of the speech—I've been rehearsing it for weeks!" It's surely not a coincidence that this was the most rewritten scene in the show, and that Barbra Streisand and Sydney Chaplin were rehearsing the final version less than an hour before it opened in New York.
  • In Follies, Carlotta's "I'm Still Here," a replacement for the Cut Song "Can That Boy Fox-Trot," is preceded by dialogue about a song of hers that got cut out of the (Weissmann) Follies.

    Theme Parks 

    • A very early rejected mask design for Toa Pohatu was later used for another Toa of the Stone element, Toa Onewa.
    • The mask of Makuta Mutran was originally to be called Artidax, the Mask of Mutation, until the writer realized that the Mutran set came with a Mask of Silence. The Mask of Mutation was later given to another Makuta, Miserix, and Artidax became the name of the island he had been imprisoned on.

    Video Games 
  • This was the original Easter Egg in computer games, as is recounted very neatly in that page.
  • City of Heroes has a few jokes along this line, including the infamous Egg Hunter badge.
  • Jazz Jackrabbit 2 is full of these. Many of the secret areas have signs that have jokes and messages to the development/design team on them, which completely fly over the head of the average player.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: "I'm Atton. I actually wasn't supposed to make it into the final game, but I was created at the last minute. Blame my agent. I was actually slated for a spin-off to Jedi Knight, but I don't want to talk about what happened there."
  • Coach from Left 4 Dead wants armor. This was a reference to Coach's early designs that had him wear football gear as makeshift armor. Hilariously, some mods can dress up Coach in said armor.
  • Blizzard games are loaded with these. One of the most memorable is a bit of audio attached to a character in Starcraft; when Starcraft's alpha was first shown to the public people accused it of just being "Warcraft in space". Clicking on the character Artanis repeatedly will eventually produce a series of exasperated defences of the game's design:
    "This is not Warcraft In Space!" "It's much more sophisticated." "I know it's not 3-D!"
    • World of Warcraft has:
      • The Nova Shrine: A memorial to the not-yet-officially-canceled Starcraft: Ghost spinoff game.
      • In Mists of Pandaria there's a ghost NPC in the Valley of the Four Winds who gives the player a low-quality woodcutting axe. The description mentions that it has "+15 Woodcrafting" etched into the handle, referencing a planned profession that was scrapped because its uses were too limited.
    • Diablo III has a rarely spawning dungeon called Development Hell, with zombies named after the game development crew.
  • Mortal Kombat has a few in every game that involves a Konquest mode, and all appearances of characters like Rain who owe their existence to jokes between developers are essentially Development Gags.
    • Way back in the early stages of the first Mortal Kombat, Sub-Zero's code name was originally "Tundra." Come Mortal Kombat 9, it's revealed that the title of the younger Sub-Zero that took his fallen brother's place starting in MK2 was Tundra before he took up the mantle of Sub-Zero to honor his brother.
    • And of course, Ermac, after the oft-misunderstood abbreviation that the first game's debug menu used for "Error Macro."
    • And of course MoKap, the guy in the motion capture suit that some of the fighters were drawn over, and Meat, the bloody musculature under many of the polygons.
  • Street Fighter Alpha 3:
    • One of Guile's winquotes is "No handcuffs? Fighting isn't what it used to be!" which is a reference to a glitch Guile had in the original Street Fighter II that "handcuffed" (froze/attached) him to the opponent. This also counts as a Mythology Gag, as the glitch was rather famous and widely known about among fans, and is considered a part of one of the older games despite its glitchy status.
    • Cody has several winquotes that refer back to his being a Canon Immigrant from another Capcom series, Final Fight, including saying how good it is to have more than two moves and saying he'll take on "man, beast, or car", a nod to the first FF's infamous bonus stage.
    • Birdie has a quote explaining that he was pale "before" because he was sick; this refers to the fact that the character was Caucasian in the original Street Fighter and was Race Lifted into being black in Alpha and onwards.
  • In the Rusty Bucket Bay level of Banjo-Kazooie, there is a picture of the original pink-furred brunette version of Berri from the aborted Twelve Tales: Conker 64 (who did appear as a damsel in distress in Conker's Pocket Tales). This Easter Egg only appears in the original N64 version; it's a picture of Conker in the XBLA version.
    • In Banjo-Tooie, Captain Blackeye, a character who was supposed to be the main antagonist in the early development of Banjo-Kazooie appears in a bar, drunkenly ranting about how a bear stole all his glory and how he "Had a dream", a reference to what the game was originally called.
    • Portraits of Blackeye also appeared in Banjo-Kazooie's Mad Monster Mansion.
  • In the library level of Metro 2033 one of your squad mates pulls a book off the shelf and exclaims something along the lines of "Ahh, something familiar; Roadside Picnic." Roadside Picnic is the novel that inspired the STALKER series, which many of the Metro devs also worked on. It doubles as well in that anyone who's played STALKER is likely the find Metro's atmosphere very familiar, though the gameplay of the two games is quite different.
  • When the developers of The Secret of Monkey Island created the sprite for the main character, he wasn't yet named so they saved the file with the name "guy.brush", ".brush" being the file extension for the graphics program and "guy" being, well. They eventually decided they liked the name, and so Guybrush Threepwood was born.
    • The game also references its game engine, Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion, with the in-game SCUMM Bar (which after the engine technology changed for the fourth game to Lua, was renamed after a hostile takeover by the game's antagonist to the "Lua Bar").
    • The entire script of the first game could be considered a development gag; Ron Gilbert's original concept called for a more serious tone, but what with the way production works, Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman found themselves with empty dialog slots in a game that needed testing, so they added their own silly placeholders. Gilbert thought these were so hilarious that he decided to completely overhaul the tone of the game and make it a comedy instead.
  • The main character of the Wing Commander games was referred to behind the scenes as "Bluehair," a reference to the distinctive (apparent) color of his hair. When the series moved to full-motion video, making an official name necessary, he was given the last name "Blair."
  • Jade's name in Beyond Good & Evil is a reference to more than just her obvious favorite color; in fact, she had it before she wore green anything (besides lipstick). It's a reference to the JADE Engine, the engine the game (and later, the 3-D Prince of Persia games) was built in.
  • Psychonauts:
    • During the ending, the original playable character of the game can be briefly seen in the background.
    • Near the start of the game, Coach Oleander incorrectly guesses that the protagonist's name starts with a D, referencing the original protagonist D'Artagnan.
  • The original playable character for Scribblenauts is available for viewing, if only you ask for it.
  • Lewton in Discworld Noir mentions that he was going to be an assassin, but it didn't work out. The early idea for the game was the further adventures of Teppic from Pyramids, an assassin.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • The first game also has glowing letters reading "COPE" in the Spring Yard Zone, which is the acronym for one of the graphics processing routines used by the developers. If you go up high in Act 1 you can also see "UP ON CPU", whose meaning is less clear but may just be praise for the Mega Drive's capabilities.
    • Before settling on a name for the blue hedgehog, the developers referred to him as "Mr. Needlemouse." The name was brought back for the publicity of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1: Prior to the reveal of the game's real name, it was referred to by its code name Project Needlemouse. And the Sega blog, poking fun at the prior games' Loads and Loads of Characters, jokingly suggested that "Sonic's new friend Mr. Needlemouse" might be a playable character in the game.
    • One of the proposed designs for a Sega mascot was apparently supposed to be a caricature of Theodore Roosevelt. As the creators also liked that character, they turned it into Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik.
    • Sonic's standing pose in Sonic Adventure is an unused standing pose from Sonic the Hedgehog.
    • At the beginning of the animated trailer for Sonic Mania, a sketched Sonic initially appears with rabbit ears before they are erased and replaced with his more familiar spines. One of the earliest ideas pitched for Sega's new mascot entering the 1990's was a rabbit character named Feel.
    • Sonic Lost World has a few examples;
  • In the beta version of Quake, shooting a particular object in Hub Level opened the path to an Easter Egg (the DopeFish) located in the same level selection room. In the released version, the easter egg was moved to an actual level, and shooting the object in the start level displays an optional hint about its location.
  • Ghostbusters: The Video Game mentions that one of the names for Slimer is "Onionhead" in his Tobin's Spirit Guide entry, and he's actually referred to by this name once in dialogue. This was his production name, and it had been dropped from Canon media until now, because it was tied to a similarly dropped character trait of his smelling terrible — it was found to be too hard to convey in film.
  • Acing LittleBigPlanet's final level, The Collector, unlocks a costume based on Yellowhead, the game's protagonist in its beta ''Craftworld'' form.
  • In Borderlands, the concept art for main characters Roland, Mordecai, and Lilith make their way into the game as Dr. Zed, Reaver, and Commandant Steele, respectively.
  • In Half-Life 2, you can see a rather strange object in a jar at Black Mesa East, which Eli states that they "still don't know what it does". It's actually the head of a Cremator, a janitor-like enemy that was cut.
    • During the pod ride in the Citadel, among the Striders and Gunships you see are the Crab and Mortar Synths, two enemies that were cut from the final game.
  • In the Beta version of Cave Story, the protagonist had red eyes and a blue outfit. When the finished game was ported to WiiWare, an Easter Egg was added where if you play the game on Halloween, the character's sprite is replaced with a zombified version—with red eyes and a blue outfit.
  • During the Guild Wars War in Kryta arc, Confessor Isaiah, the leader of the White Mantle (named after Isaiah Cartwright, the former leader of the skill balance team) has a skill called "Isaiah's Balance," which causes the next skill used by its target(s) to cost 25 energy and recharge in 90 seconds, reflecting an infamous skill nerf.
  • Telltale's Back to the Future: The Game includes a development gag relating to the third movie. Marty is told by a descendant of Marshall Strickland (whom he met in 1885) that the Marshall had been shot in the back by Buford Tannen. Marty states that he doesn't remember that occurrence; the scene was filmed for the third movie, but ultimately deleted.
  • The BioShock 2 ARG "Something In The Sea" featured a character that visited Rapture then managed to return to the United States. The man then wrote a story about his experiences and submitted it to a science fiction magazine only for the editor to completely mangle the story into unrecognizability. One of the changes was turning the Little Sisters into chipmunk-like creatures, a reference to early concept art which rendered them as such.
    • At the end of BioShock Infinite Booker meets several alternate versions of Elizabeth. One of them uses the model first shown to players before she was redesigned. This early model can now been seen in the Clash in the Clouds DLC, along with a very early Handyman design that appeared in very early screenshots and the E3 2010 demo.
    • An Enemy in the Burial at Sea DLC named Frost Splicer was an incomplete enemy of the Shock Jockey-Vigor Junkie left in game files, It was repurposed for this DLC for an in-universe drink named Old Man Winter that the enemy is addicted to, that Booker and Elizabeth must fight.
  • Crisis Core: Angeal's design is based on an old concept idea for Cloud.
  • While designing Resident Evil 2, Capcom created a big white block as a simple polygon to test the game's hit detection. By the time had come for the game to go gold, the block was further defined into the protagonist of the minigame "The Tofu Survivor". Resident Evil 3, built in the same engine, also has Tofu Dummied Out, while The Darkside Chronicles contains another minigame where the player runs around blasting hulks of tofu as a Shout-Out.
  • One of the DLC costumes for Claire in Resident Evil 2 (Remake) is a red-and-white riding suit based on Elza Walker, a character from an early prototype of RE2 commonly referred to as "Resident Evil 1.5". While Elza would be scrapped, many aspects of her would be used for Claire, such as her backstory as a university student and motorcycle enthusiast, and her scenario prominently featuring Sherry Birkin as a supporting character.
  • In TimeShift, the "Alpha Suit" worn by the main antagonist (established as the prototype of the "Beta Suit" worn by the protagonist) is based on the design of the protagonit's suit in the early steampunk inspired version of the game (which was then massively overhauled).
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, talking to Shale reveals she used to be 10 ft tall (like other golems) until her owner took a chisel to her and carved her down to her current size because she couldn't fit through doors. This is the exact same reason why the developers had to shrink down her original model since early playtesting saw her frequently get stuck.
    • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, at one point Hawke mentions that they feared the Chantry was planning an Exalted March against Kirkwall, but it ultimately didn't happen. This was the premise of a planned but cancelled "Exalted March" expansion pack for Dragon Age II, and much of the plot for said expansion pack wound up in Inquisition anyway.
    • The name of the continent where the game is set itself is a Development Gag: "Thedas" was an internal shorthand for "The Dragon Age Setting" that ended up sticking.
  • Pokémon:
    • An old artwork for Poliwhirl/Poliwrath shows it wearing a crown; in Generation II, the crown-like King's Rock gives Poliwhirl access to the alternate evolution Politoed.
    • Gastrodon's Platinum Pokédex entry mentioning it previously having a rocky, sturdy shell comes from its beta sprite.
    • Pokédex entries mention that Umbreon can sweat poison when agitated. This is because it was originally a Poison-type, not a Dark-type.
    • Ledyba being the "5-star Pokémon" comes from an earlier design that had 5 stars on its back instead of 5 spots.
    • Certain generic Trainers in Japanese versions of Pokémon Gold and Silver are named after the staff members.
  • In Batman: Arkham City, two mooks will discuss a rumor that Harley Quinn used to be a man. Rocksteady motion-captured Quinn with a male actor, and even posted a fake reveal of this to tease fans.
  • Some of the many voiceovers introduced by the Perpetual Training Initiative DLC in Portal 2 are from an Alternate Universe Cave Johnson who got his consciousness transferred to a computer, only to later start musing about the metaphysical implications of this and asking "What if injecting my consciousness into a computer robbed me of an eternal reward?". This is a reference to a very early version of the script where Johnson was going to be the Big Bad.
  • In the final version of Fallout 3, at the end of the Wasteland Survival Guide questline, your character can sarcastically ask Moira Brown if, with you having done virtually all the legwork and research for the Guide, Moira wants you to find a publisher, too. She cheerfully replies that won't be necessary. Guess what you had to do in one prerelease version of the questline.
  • Minecraft:
    • One of the most iconic enemies, the Creeper, was originally meant to be a model for the pig. The values for the height and width of the torso were accidentally transposed, resulting in a vertical body with a head at the top and four stubby legs at the bottom. A proper pig was made afterward, and the botched model colored green and made into the exploding fellow we all know and love.
    • The Nether Update brought two development gags:
      • The Piglins, the inhabitants of the Nether, are based on the old concept of Pigmen, the NPCs that were supposed to be the inhabitants of the villages, before they were ultimately replaced with the Villagers. Zombie Pigmen, mobs that are also based on that concept, were later retconnected as part of the same species under the name of Zombified Piglins.
      • The Crying Obsidian was a planned block in the beta days of Minecraft that would act as a way of setting a respawn point. This block would be later discarded in favor of beds, which would take their function in the final release. Fan suggestions about crying obsidian returning as a way to respawn in the Nether (since you can't use beds as a respawn point outside of the Overworld due the fact that they explode if you try to use them, with high chances of killing you in the process) not only lead the return of this block, but it also lead the creation of the Respawn Anchor, a block made out of crying obsidian that allows players to set their spawn point in The Nether.
  • In Killing Floor, one of the pinned-up newspapers reads "SUSPECTED CULT" and shows a picture of the clots from the original mod.
  • When you enter the modern or the future era in Civilization 4, you get an image of a digital clock with a brand "Soren" showing the time 5:23. This refers to Soren Johnson, one of the game's main developers, whose birthday is on May 23rd.
  • Kirby:
    • Kirby Mass Attack takes place on the Popopo islands. Kirby's original name was Popopo.
    • The Bonus Boss of Kirby Star Allies is Morpho Knight, who, aside from his Cool Sword, is actually a character that was originally designed for the cancelled Kirby Gamecube game. He is taken from a scrapped variation of Meta Knight as well.
  • Devil May Cry began life as an early version of Resident Evil 4, which would have starred a superhuman protagonist named Tony Redgrave. After the game became its own thing instead of an entry in the Resident Evil series, the character's name was changed to Dante. However, as a nod to the original concept, the phrase "For Tony Redgrave" is engraved on Dante's guns. Both the first Devil May Cry novel by Shin-Ya Goikeda and the anime later expanded on this by explaining that Tony Redgrave was an alias Dante used in the past. As an additional nod, Devil May Cry 5 primarily takes place in a city named Red Grave.
  • For BIT.TRIP Presents... Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, protagonist CommanderVideo (who was a minimalist retraux figure in the main BIT.TRIP series) was originally going to be redesigned by Ty Dunitz. When problems came up trying to get the character model to work, the planned redesign was changed to this. Dunitz's design still managed to make it into the game as the unlockable character CaptainVideo.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening has Paris, the final SpotPass character who proclaims himself to be Ike's descendant and wields his trademark Ragnell. His name is what Ike had for a code name during early development of Path of Radiance. The English language localizations lose this by renaming him Priam, though this sets up a different case of Shout-Out Theme Naming, as Priam, King of Troy, had a son named Paris.
  • In Mass Effect 2, among the character Jack's many tattoos are images of several punkish-looking women. While the official art book claims they're former members of gangs she was in that were murdered, behind the scenes, they're concept art sketches from when Jack was being designed.
    • In Mass Effect 3, after the Grissom Academy mission and meeting Kahlee Sanders, James Vega mentions that his estranged father's last name was Sanders but that he's not related to Kahlee. Originally, James' last name was going to be Sanders, but it was changed to Vega because Kahlee Sanders had already existed since Mass Effect: Revelation.
  • Broken Age has Curtis the lumberjack as a character who is afraid of trees (they keep screaming at him). He was originally nothing more than a test of the art-style of the game and later a place-holder to see how the game was to be controlled and played. He was dubbed the "hipster lumberjack" by the devs and became so popular with the community that they demanded he be in the game when it was revealed he wasn't.
  • Early versions of the TC_Inferno map for MechWarrior Living Legends had an odd runway for the Space Planes, where the vehicle factory was off to the side of the runway, with a concrete wall on the other side, requiring players to taxi onto the runway then turn before taking off. Most of the Alpha Testers would simply mash the afterburner key the instant they got into the plane and then plow into the concrete wall at 400kph. The level designer then replaced the hint screens in the spawnroom with his own hints, saying things like "DO NOT TAXI INTO RUNWAY" or "DO NOT FLY INTO LAVA", depicting planes plowing into the wall or landing in lava, though the screens sadly didn't make it into the final release and were instead highlighted in a Hilarious Outtakes thread.
  • Many of Double's attacks in Skullgirls use assets or conceptualisations from other characters' movesets that were abandoned during development.
    • One of Ms. Fortune's alternate palettes is the colour scheme of her original character design.
  • Star Fox Zero for the Wii U brings back the "transforming vehicles" aspect that was originally planned for the cancelled Star Fox 2 nearly 20 years prior. This fact was even acknowledged by Shigeru Miyamoto during the game's debut at E3 2015.
  • In Golden Sun: The Lost Age there are several hints in the game files, particularly the order of character portraits, that suggest Alex was supposed to be the final party member instead of Piers. This culminates in a small chat when the party meets up with Alex after Piers joins the party, where Alex makes a subtle remark about "being replaced."
  • In Bombshell, the fact that Shelly "Bombshell" Harrison is stated to hate bubblegum and sunglasses gains additional meaning if you know that the game was originally supposed to star Duke Nukem, who is associated with both those things.
  • Crash Bandicoot:
    • Nitrus Brio is based on concept art for Neo Cortex.
    • The model for the Lab Assistant enemies in the first game was listed in the original game's code as obj_ass ("ass" being short for "assistant"). After the developers realized this, they thought it was funny and decided to give them even more profane model names in the next game's code, like obj_asshole and obj_motherfucker.
    • Similarly, Crash's model is consistently listed as obj_willy, as opposed to obj_crash. This is in reference to Crash's prototype name, Willy the Wombat.
  • While localising The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, XSEED ran into a series of bizarre glitches, one of which included random bits of text suddenly changing size. An example given in a pre-release dev blog showed Estelle describing Olivier as "a total weirdo, but his gun skills are legit", with the word "legit" blown up to roughly twice its original size. The blogger commented that, given that this was Olivier, in a just world the word "weirdo" would be the one getting emphasis. Lo and behold, in the final version of the game in that very text box, the giant text remains, but this time it's "total weirdo" that's blown up instead (with Olivier immediately commenting on the strange emphasis afterwards).
  • In Carrie's Order Up!, one of the unlockable palettes is "Classic", a pale green dress worn by Carrie in a comic drawn by the developer.
  • On April Fool's Day, the developers of Aviary Attorney "announced" that they were going to produce a game called Axolotl Accountancy instead. In the game, one character tells you the following:
    Judge Maxime: When I awoke, I had a mild case of amnesia. I thought I was an axolotl accountant!
  • Poppy's passive ability in League of Legends is named Iron Ambassador, a reference to her character title before her total rework in late 2015.
    • Sion's joke when near his ally Urgot refers to how Sion also went a total redesign:
    So, uh, Urgot, we can't hang out anymore. I'm cool now.
  • In Knight-Tyme, one of the first games released for the 128k ZX Spectrum, the ship's computer is called Derby IV. "Derby" was the development codename for the 128k Spectrum itself.
  • Transformers: Devastation has Shockwave perform a Doppelgänger Attack in his boss fight. The original series' production bible described him as having the ability to duplicate himself, but it never made it into the show proper.
  • Minecraft: Story Mode: The Order of the Stone is actually an old subtitle for what would become Minecraft, with the full title being "Minecraft: Order of the Stone"
  • The earliest known footage of Undertale, revealed in a forum post released in February 2014 (over two years before the game's release), includes a screenshot where the name of the fallen child is conspicuously shown as "Chara." What most would assume is a placeholder name (an abbreviation for "Character") is in fact the only hint creator Toby Fox ever gave of the significance of the name Chara, which is the Canon Name of the fallen child - the original fallen child who was taken in by Toriel and Asgore years ago. In fact, without this added bit of context, most players would assume that they're naming the Player Character on the naming screen, who is instead later revealed be named Frisk.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Metal Gear Solid:
      • Mantis's face is heavily mutilated but with no explanation. This is a hangover from an earlier concept for his backstory where he'd received extensive surgery to give him his powers.
      • Meryl's outfit has a subtly ninja-like theme, with a massive knife strapped to her leg and hand guards, which was supposed to be part of her fighting style in combat sequences where Snake would co-operate with her. The idea of co-operating with Meryl is all but cut from the eventual game.
    • Metal Gear Solid 2 was originally meant to feature Oldboy and Chinaman, two extra bosses as members of Dead Cell. They hung around long enough that a boss arena was built for Chinaman (the area later used for Vamp's boss fight). Oldboy and Chinaman appear briefly in the flashback artwork showing the dissolution of Dead Cell, both shown dying — with Vamp, the character who inherited many of Chinaman's powers, holding him in his arms. Oldboy's concept was later recycled in part for The End in Metal Gear Solid 3.
    • When Hideo Kojima asked Yoji Shinkawa to create a handsome, appealing character to serve as Raiden, Yoji Shinkawa (as a joke) submitted a design for a creepy spider-like character who moved about on dislocated limbs and 'likes to lick bird doodoo'. The joke design eventually resurfaced as The Fear in Metal Gear Solid 3. Note, also, that bird droppings are prominently featured on the Strut A Roof (the introductory stage in which Raiden's face is revealed to the player for the first time).
    • The motif in MGS3 and 4 with (a) Snake appearing at The Boss's/Big Boss's grave is based partially on an unused scene concept for the original Metal Gear Solid, where Snake would have visited Big Boss's restored remains. The civilian outfit designed for the scene was used as the basis for Snake's civilian outfit in 4.
    • Raiden's Mission Control in Revengeance, Doktor, Courtney and Boris, are based on Doc, Max and Quinn, who had been created to be Raiden's contacts in MSG2. All had been cut with most of their significant actions composited into the Colonel, Rosemary and Emma.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Shadow and Setzer in Final Fantasy VI are based on ideas that Tetsuya Nomura had for Jobs for Final Fantasy V — a Gambler, and a variant on the Ninja accompanied by a dog. Setzer's design is also based on the unused V concept of "Eva Schweriz," a glamorous lady gambler and airship pilot, who was eventually adapted into Bifauxnen pirate Faris Schweriz due to difficulty fitting her character into the setting.
    • Final Fantasy VII and Compilation:
      • Zack was based on a rejected early design for Cloud — which fits, as certain characters treat Cloud as a replacement for Zack and Cloud himself has troubles separating his own identity from the other's. Anghel from Crisis Core is based on a different rejected early design for Cloud.
      • Notice that Yuffie's outfit is similar to Cloud's, with the ribbed polo neck and the shoulder guard? That's a hangover from her original concept of being a SOLDIER 2nd Class.
      • Aeris/Aerith and Sephiroth were originally intended to have a much closer connection — first as siblings, then as former lovers. Nothing of this remains in the story besides some striking similarities in character design - hairstyles, silhouettes and wrist bands. (It perhaps ends up giving the impression that Cloud has a bit of a Type.)
      • Genesis' design in Crisis Core contains elements from early Sephiroth art, such as the use of the conventional SOLDIER top underneath the longcoat. His Ink-Suit Actor factor is a reference to a Comic-Book Fantasy Casting controversy in Final Fantasy VIII where the hero's face ended up being so similar to Gackt that it breached likeness laws.
      • The original game intended to be Final Fantasy VII, the one set in New York and featuring a detective, was scrapped when Chrono Trigger required help in development. Cloud and Barret were designed as Goldfish Poop Gang characters on this game, but seemed striking enough to the team that a new project was launched using them as main characters.
      • In Final Fantasy VII, Barret complains he doesn't know how to use Materia. In Final Fantasy VII Remake, Cloud sneers that Barret doesn't know how to use Materia and Barret insists of course he knows.
      • The original plan for Final Fantasy VII, before game mechanics were finalised, was going to use a Job system similar to that of Final Fantasy VI, where Cloud's Job class was a dual Mystic Knight/Berserker. The eventual version of the game did virtually nothing to differentiate player characters other than Limit Break moves and stats. In Final Fantasy VII Remake, Cloud is finally turned into a Berserker, with his gimmick being a "Punisher Mode" which allows him to do overpowering damage, shrug off blows and put himself into Berserk status for even more boosted damage, at the cost of his manoeuvrability.
      • In early drafts for VII, Barrett was the Sacrificial Lion who would be murdered by Sephiroth instead of Aerith. In Remake, Barrett does get killed by Sephiroth, only for the Arbiters of Fate to intervene and revive him. Not coincidentally, this is roughly the point where its made clear the game is not actually a remake, but a Stealth Sequel of sorts.
    • Final Fantasy XV:
      • XV was first announced as a spinoff called Final Fantasy Versus XIII in 2006. It was rebranded as a main series entry in 2013 and finally released in late 2016, ten years after it was announced. 13 is still treated as an Arc Number of sorts, there are some oblique references to XIII's mythology, and Noctis ends up entering a stasis of sorts for ten years before the game's final chapter.
      • The "SAF" motif on the boats of the Imperials is an injoke reference to the placeholder name "General Safay Roth", an early version of the character who became Ardyn. Supposedly the logo is 'to honour the great generals of the past'.
  • Quite a few Nintendo GameCube titles have dolphins in them due to the fact the GameCube's code name was "Dolphin." A well-known yet subtle example is Super Mario Sunshine, which takes place on Isle Delfino; true to its name, the island resembles a dolphin.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The Pridelands and Disney Castle were intended to be included in Kingdom Hearts but were held back until the sequel due to time and troubles implementing four-legged characters.
    • An early concept for the first game had Chernobog as the source of all Heartless and the final boss fight. After his defeat, Kingdom Hearts would appear as "Ave Maria" played, in an imitation of the "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence from Fantasia. Technical limitations led to this sequence being scrapped for the original release, but a simpler Chernobog fight was added to the international version. Birth By Sleep would later borrow some elements of the originally planned sequence for the Keyblade Graveyard final battles.
    • Kingdom Hearts III features elements from Final Fantasy Versus XIII, the project that eventually became Final Fantasy XV after being Saved from Development Hell, as a parody Game Within A Game called Verum Rex. The Verum Rex setting also appears in the secret ending.
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, Patrick's Dream consists of a black void with him under a spotlight, and he just gives you a Golden Spatula when you talk to him with no strings attached. While this is a Mythology Gag to the show, it is also a reference to the original plan for Patrick's Dream: A Level Ate that is Dummied Out in some versions of the game. The final version of the level can be seen as Self-Deprecation on the developer's part for not completing the level.
  • In Persona 2: Innocent Sin, Principal Hanya's unique attack is named "Dark Young Legend", which was one of the suggested subtitles for the game itself.
  • In the PSP title Medievil Resurrection, Al-Zalam and the Anubis Stone are both elements that would have originally featured in the never-made PS2 game Medieval 3: Fate's Arrow. The minigame "Arrow o' Fate" is also named after the cancelled title.
  • Karmic Transformer 9 from Ōkami trades in Amaterasu's cel-shaded appearance for a realistically lit and rendered wolf, a nod to how the game's original concept video had the entire game being rendered realistically.
  • When Eternal Darkness was still being planned for the Nintendo 64, one of its playable characters was Joseph de Molay, a Templar Knight. His chapter ended up being scrapped in the final product, but when you find Roberto Bianchi's chapter page, you're given a short scene of Pious threatening a knight who can see his true form as a liche; he's merely credited as "Defeated Knight", but this was actually a repurposed Joseph.
  • Sheik's redesign in Super Smash Bros. Brawl is based on a design made during the development of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which is why it matches the art style of said game.
  • In the Vexx, all of the titular character's animation files refer to him as Jinx, which was his original name during development.
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm:
    • An NPC living in the heroine’s hometown mentions that the events of the prequel happened two years ago, then adds, “has it really only been two years? It feels more like six.” referencing the sequel’s lengthy development time.
    • In the same house, another NPC says, “Are you finally setting off on your next big adventure? That's terrific! It seems to have been delayed quite a few times by now...” poking fun at the game’s numerous setbacks and trips through Development Hell.
  • Disco Elysium:
    • The player has the option to ask the Cool Old Lady Lena if she wants to join them and Kim in solving the murder case, saying she seems 'quirky enough' to be a main character. Lena politely declines, referring to the fact that she is in a wheelchair, and she is afraid it would too much of a hassle to help her get around. This is some very pointed meta-commentary on the fact that Lena was indeed at some point in development tested as a potential third party member but her wheelchair proved to be too incompatible with the level design to work.
    • Your player character's precinct has a Walking Disaster Area Buddy Cops partnership consisting of Dumb Muscle Mack "The Torso" Torson and the feeble but calculating Chester McLaine, who serve as Those Two Guys in conversations with the Precinct/visions via the Esprit de Corps skill. Seems a little like a Similar Squad to your player character's Noble Male, Roguish Male partnership with Kim Kitsuragi? The game that became Disco Elysium was once intended to be a buddy cop RPG called Torson and McLaine, but the characters changed hugely in development.
    • You can give the game's working title, No Truce With The Furies, as a Title Drop when naming the nightclub.
    • Those blue and yellow stripes behind the main character's portrait? Those are taken from the original pattern of his necktie, back when Harry would be running around in body armour over his signature mustard disco flares.
  • Destiny underwent a lot of changes over the course of development, including a complete rewrite of the overall story. Some aspects from early versions of the game have been alluded to in both the completed game and the sequel:
    • In the original treatment, Rasputin was an Exo being used as an avatar by an ancient Warmind, not the Warmind itself. While this was obviously changed, the original idea has been given a few nods; Rasputin and the Exos are eventually revealed to have both been created by the Clovis Bray Mega-Corp, and Rasputin himself claims to have taken part in the creation of Exos. The Warmind storyline in the second game is also a reworking of Rasputin's original story, involving the player having to save him from the Hive. As of the Beyond Light expansion, the last remaining copy of Rasputin after his destruction at the hands of the Darkness now resides inside an Exo body, bringing back the original idea.
    • The first drafts of the story had a Lovable Rogue Awoken named Crow helping the player on their adventures. The character was written out, but instead of being scrapped completely, his various elements were diffused amongst other characters; Cayde-6 got his personality and overall role in the plot, his character model was reused for Uldren Sov, and the Reef's intelligence network is called the Crows. For bonus points, when Cayde dies in the Forsaken storyline, he's killed by Uldren, making the whole sequence akin to Crow killing the guy who stole his gimmick. Even better, following his resurrection via a Ghost post-Forsaken, Uldren has become a Guardian in his own right with no memory of his past and a radically different personality, proving to be a loyal and friendly ally to the player. The name he uses? Take a guess.
    • There was originally a fourth playable race in the form of Cat Folk called Tiger Men, which got cut because Bungie felt they didn't really fit the setting. The concept is given occasional joking references in-game, most notably with a Festival of the Lost mask that Lord Shaxx wears every year.
  • The protagonist of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed goes by the codename "Starkiller" — a fanwink to the working name for Luke Skywalker.
  • Dragon Quest III: Ortega's new sprite / design in the remakes, which originated in the North American NES localization of III, rather than the Famicom original.
  • In Anbennar's original Dwarovar release, a dwarven hold was left with the placeholder name of Anbennar4313. It was ultimately named Vûrdriz-Ândriz, which translates to 4313 in dwarvish.
  • Stratos and Delilah (a.k.a. Team Slacker) from Bug Fables are based on the main characters of the previous RPG concept by Moonsprout Games, albeit heavily redesigned to fit the game's aesthetic.note 
  • When you are dealt the Twisted Canyon card in Hand of Fate, the Dealer may note that the card was in the deck from the beginning. Twisted Canyon was the first card created during development of the game.

    Web Animation 
  • Pom Pom's dog, Trivia Time, and Homeschool Winner were both characters that were created for Homestar Runner but never quite materialized; this didn't keep subtle references to Homeschool Winner from cropping up in a few toons, and Trivia Time is officially Pom Pom's pet cookie jar.
  • DSBT InsaniT thrives on this trope! Watching the Special Info Episode will make many of these gags easier to understand.
  • In Red vs. Blue, one episode has Washington unsuccessfully trying to get information out of Carolina in the past. This was true of Miles Luna while writing the episode, not knowing how to solve it. The season's showrunner Jason Weight then chimed in "why doesn't he just ask her in the future where they are friends?", leading Miles to realize he missed this simple solution. And so the actual episode has the really stupid Agent Iowa asking that question at Wash, and once going to future Carolina works, he yells a more enraged version of the "Goddammit!" that was Miles' original reaction.
  • In Autodale, the coat used by the Friendly Shadow is a symbol of his servitude to Hive. Human characters remark that he looks friendlier without it, the propaganda stories about him released by Hive always depict him wearing it, and at the end of the episode, Hive uses "Give him the coat" as a Deadly Euphamism. In the behind the scenes video, David (the creator) explains that he was unhappy with the Shadow's design until he ditched the duster.

  • The Order of the Stick
    • The first published book, Dungeon Crawlin' Fools, has author's commentary in it. The commentary discusses that the party's leader, Roy Greenhilt, was originally supposed to be a Squishy Wizard and occupy The Smart Guy role. The author decided that it wouldn't work out to have him be both that and the Only Sane Man, so Roy became a fighter and the sesquipedalian Vaarsuvius was introduced. This makes the strips in which we learn that Roy's father is bitterly disappointed in him for not becoming a wizard doubly funny.
    • Rich Burlew's commentary for No Cure for the Paladin Blues reveals that Roy's misadventure with the Girdle of Masculinity/Femininity was originally going to be him intentionally donning it to secretly engage in "girl talk" with Miko Miyazaki and learn more about her, only to discover later that he couldn't remove the belt. This eventually got scrapped because while writing Miko, he decided that her personality wasn't very compatible with the idea of "girl talk". In the comic, he only puts it on as an emergency disguise to help save Elan's life. When Haley finds out, she mocks him and one of her jokes is that this was him trying to impress Miko.
  • Poison Ivy Gulch: In an April 2021 story arc, Ace visits another town called Pig Iron Peak. This town name was a Working Title for Poison Ivy Gulch!

    Web Games 
  • LEGO Backlot has a cameo of Takua drinking coffee and reading the script for a BIONICLE movie. The script reveals his name is George, which was the early working name used for Takua in the Mata Nui Online Game.

    Web Original 
  • In the current version of the webnovel John Dies at the End, the protagonists are heading to a final showdown without really knowing what to expect, and the narrator is armed with a chainsaw. At one point, he wonders whether he could have gotten caught in his situation with a dumber weapon. This is a nod to the earliest version of the story, wherein the narrator is in the same situation, but armed with a sword.

    Web Video 
  • New Media web shows like Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series often have the characters, who are played by guys who are usually all friends, make jokes about the actors playing them and, occasionally, about events that happened during the making of the show. Most times, these references are either explained or funny enough that it doesn't matter.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Avatar Roku takes Aang on a spiritual journey, in which Aang learns about Roku's life, and about how strong friendships can transcend spirit and time, but anyone is capable of evil or good. After the revelation, Toph makes a point of asking Aang whether he thinks that friendships can truly transcend lifetimes. It's a thought-provoking philosophical question, but it's mostly also a reference to the fact that some of Toph's development designs (originally a large man) were used to create Roku's Earthbending teacher.
    • Katara and Sokka's mother's name is revealed to be Kya, which was Katara's name in the pilot. Taking it one step further, after the creators found out they couldn't use the name Kya but before they named her Katara, they called her Kanna: currently the name of their grandmother. And in the sequel series The Legend of Korra Katara and Aang's daughter ends up with the name Kya.
    • The poster for "The Ember Island Players" is based on the cover for the Book 1 DVD, and the play itself had another joke about Toph's original design as she is portrayed as a large man. And how the poster (and the Book 1 DVD cover!) put Zuko's scar on the wrong side of his face.
    • The first season finale has the Water Tribe using an ancient and super-pointy Fire Navy uniform for infiltration purposes that is based on the Fire Nation designs from the pilot.
    • Also from the original pilot, Zuko was going to have a pet messenger hawk who would be something of an Evil Counterpart to Momo. Then Sokka got one in season three.
  • A recurrent character in the Mickey Mouse franchise is Mickey's rival, Mortimer Mouse. Disney had first considered calling Mickey "Mortimer".
  • The Simpsons: In "There's No Disgrace Like Home", Bart mistakenly gets called "Brat" by Mr. Burns. Matt Groening picked the name "Bart" because it was an anagram of "brat", which he found fitting for his Author Avatar.
    • One of the earliest ideas Matt Groening had for The Simpsons was to have Homer moonlighting as Krusty the Clown (notice that the two characters have near-identical proportions and similar designs), the irony being that, while Bart was dismissive of his father, he idolized Krusty, unaware that he was his father. The episode "Homie the Clown", which has Homer becoming a Krusty doppelgänger, is this concept coming full circle.
  • Frisky Dingo: the title itself is one of these, referring to an insult Killface would have taunted the Xtacles with as they were originally called Whiskey Tango Six in early incarnations.
  • One episode of Danny Phantom has the titular character riding a motorcycle, a vehicle Hartman wanted him to ride during early developments of the show (back when Danny was a normal teen hunting ghosts).
  • In Transformers Animated, Rodimus Prime's briefly appearing team of Autobots consist of Animated versions of Transformers characters that the members of the main cast were originally supposed to be based on (Hot Shot who became Bumblebee, Red Alert who was replaced by Ratchet, and Rodimus himself who was renamed Sentinel Prime at the request of Hasbro).
  • Quite a few examples from the Total Drama series:
    • All of the interns from the first three seasons are recycled from the concept designs for DJ, Cody, Katie, and Tyler.
    • In Revenge of the Island, one member of the second generation cast, B, is also recycled from DJ's concept design.
    • LeShawna had two concept designs. The second one was recycled into her cousin, Leshaniqua, who shows up in "One Flu Over the Cuckoos".
    • The Queen Bee's eyes, body shape and outfit are recycled from Eva's concept design, while her name, "Heather", was originally given to the loner who would eventually become Gwen. Also, Heather's alliance with Lindsay is a throwback to how the former's Big Bad role in Island was originally played by the latter.
    • In Island, Gwen forms a platonic friendship with Geoff. In the show's pre-production stages, they were love interests.
    • In Action, Gwen and Trent are split up and forced to form opposing teams against each other. In the show's pre-production stages, there seemed to be an actual enmity between the two.
    • Courtney's eyes and freckles are recycled from Bridgette's concept design, while Noah shares a few visual similarities with Ezekiel's concept design.
    • In the Aftermath episodes, the silhouettes of several concept designs can be seen in the audience.
    • In Action, Sadie's concept design is recycled into a paparazzi cutout and, later, into Justin's ex-girlfriend.
    • In Ridonculous Race, a pair of twins are recycled from Cameron's concept design.
    • Zoey's final design is recycled from Dakota's concept design, while the hairstyle of Staci's final design is similar to that of Zoey's concept design.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: In Operations "Pool" and "Caramel", we see Numbuh 5 wearing glasses (in the "Pool" case, an alternate universe version thereof), in contrast to her regular appearance. This is a reference to her wearing glasses in the pilot (at one point, the CN website for the show even mentioned that she wears glasses).
  • In Jimmy Two-Shoes, there are several pictures around the Heinous Manor of Lucius in his concept art's outfit as opposed to his ordinary one. In another episode, Jimmy wears a bowtie, which was part of his concept suit.
  • Ben 10 has the What If? episode "Goodbye and Good Riddance" end with cousins Ben and Gwen becoming classmates. This is reference to them being best friends and classmates when the show was early in development, with their relationship changing to cousins later on, due to Gwen needing an actual reason to be traveling with them during the summer.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In a flashback we get to see Twilight Sparkle's parents. Her mother bears a more than passing resemblance to Lauren Faust's original design for Twilight herself, back when she was meant to be the same character as Twilight (no last name) from the first-gen series.
    • One of the photos of Fluttershy pinned to the wall of Photo Finish's studio in "Green Isn't Your Color" is essentially Lauren Faust's concept art of earlier-generation pony Posey, except with wings and an altered cutie mark.
    • In "Family Appreciation Day" we get a flashback featuring a young Granny Smith, who looks just like an alternate version of Applejack that Lauren Faust drew for the series' pitch bible.
    • In "The Last Roundup", one of the pictures the other characters use while trying to find Applejack is based off a different concept sketch of her.
    • Applejack's little sister was originally named "Apple Butter". This name was likely the inspiration for the name of Applejack's mother in "The Perfect Pear", Pear Butter.
    • Also from Lauren's concept sketches, one of the rejected names for Fluttershy was "Meadowbrook". Series 7 would later use the name "Mage Meadowbrook" for Fluttershy's Precursor Hero.
  • One episode of Futurama shows Leela's maternal grandmother, a mutant with a normal arm and a tentacle - which the developers originally planned to give to Leela's mother, who instead has two tentacle arms.
    • A flashback in "Crimes of the Hot" depicts Farnsworth building the prototype for all robots seen in the show. The prototype has antennae on the sides of its head resembling those in Bender's early concept art.
  • The Powerpuff Girls had one episode where the Professor dreams he hadn't accidentally added Chemical X when creating the girls, resulting in the "Run of the Mill Girls", who had no superpowers nor the Girls' unusual features. The designs used were heavily based on unused redesigns that Craig made early in the show's development, in response to test audiences had a very negative response to the characters.
  • In the Beetlejuice, there was a rather gross one: evidently, Beetlejuice's fingers are red because of a sexual drawing one of the animators did.
  • The protagonist of Captain N: The Game Master was originally pitched as a newspaper delivery boy named Buddy. Once the Season Two Paperboy episode came around, the design was re-used for the character Julio.
  • The Justice League's public liaison, Catherine Cobert, was originally slated to appear in the first episode of Young Justice. She got as far as having a character design and a voice actress record her dialogue before she was axed for time considerations, but she survived in two small ways: first, hers is the voice of the Justice League's computer— it's her voice announcing "Recognized: Robin B-Zero-One," etc. Second, her character design was given blonde hair and repurposed as reporter Cat Grant. She eventually made an appearance in the first episode of season two, with a new character design, the same voice actress, and... talking to Cat Grant.
  • Sonic Underground could be considered one big development gag, as the idea of Sonic the Hedgehog as the guitarist in his own rock band originated from one of many scrapped ideas from the character's early development.
  • The Little Mermaid (1992) featured a turtle named Clarence, who was first devised for the movie as King Triton's advisor before being replaced by Sebastian.
  • In Beast Wars, Inferno was originally conceived as a new body for Megatron. The show made him a distinct character, but the scrapped idea was referenced in one of the early Season 2 episode, where Megatron in his actual new body collides with Inferno mid-air, and they briefly end up switching heads. Inferno is amused, Megatron not so much.
  • A Star Trek: The Animated Series episode features Robert April, the first captain of the Enterprise. The name was indeed one of the options Gene Roddenberry considered for the TOS captain, before he settled for Pike (and eventually Kirk). Canonically, he was the captain of the Enterprise before Pike and he is represented in the Star Trek Encyclopedia with an image of Roddenberry himself wearing a uniform.
  • Russell Ferguson from Littlest Pet Shop (2012) originally had a first name of Winston, which would become the surname of a one-shot character in the episode "In the Loop" who frequently got on Russell's nerves.
  • The Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "The Super Batman of Planet X!" featured a robotic butler named Alpha-Red, a play on Batman's Battle Butler Alfred. This is a nod to an Animesque Batman show that Bruce Timm had pitched after Batman Beyond, which would have featured an A.I. Butler named Alpha-Red.
  • In The Loud House;
    • Lincoln's stuffed rabbit doll Bun-Bun is based on his original design from when the show was going to be about a family of rabbits.
    • The Season 2 episode, "Lynn-er Takes All," has a scene where Lynn tries to "compete" with Lola by brushing her teeth very quickly, which results in Lynn losing one of her teeth. This is a reference to Lynn's original design, in which she would also be missing a tooth.
    • The season 3 episode "White Hare" shows the Loud Family as rabbits, with Lincoln's counterpart Warren having 25 sisters. Again, this was what Chris Savino originally had in mind for the series before Nickelodeon convinced him to make the characters human.
  • Wanda's name in The Fairly Oddparents was originally "Venus", however they opted for a Punny Name instead. All fairies were meant to have space related names. Cosmo is the only major fairy that kept the original theme. Wanda's middle name is "Venus" as a reference to her original name.
  • The Spongebob Squarepants episode "Squeaky Boots" had Mr. Krabs say, "Spongeboy, me Bob!". Spongeboy was an early idea for the main character's name.
  • Unikitty!,
    • The minor antagonist Master Fear has a teardrop shape for a head, reusing a scrapped design for main antagonist Master Frown, albeit with different eyes.
    • The bunny used to represent Riki Lindhome in the music video for "Everything Is Awesome (Tween Dream Remix)" (sung by Garfunkel and Oates, with Dr. Fox taking the place of Kate Micucci, her show's character) uses a scrapped design for Dr. Fox, who had a bunny used as a possible animal design for her in concept art, before a fox was settled on.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • The characterization of Quentin Trembley, "America's silliest president" in "Irrational Treasure", is based on Teddy Roosevelt: You So Crazy, a Mockumentary created by Alex Hirsch for 24-Hour Toons.
    • Mabel's crush on "the guy from the ten-dollar bill" in "The Love God" is a gag left over from the unaired pilot episode.
  • Kaeloo: Stumpy's name is this. In the original concept for the show, he was supposed to have stumps instead of hands.
  • The Problem Solverz references its [adult swim] pilot Neon Knome in some episodes. Kevin, the magic cup, can be seen in Horace's room, and the pictures on the wall are screenshots from the pilot. Roba also has a collection of Narrator dolls, and the giant Rollerblade appears in a few backgrounds. In "Hamburger Cavez", Roba unrolls his long sleeping bag the same way he did in Neon Knome.
  • In the series finale of As Told by Ginger, she shows all of her friends the book she's written about her life. The picture of her on the book is the original character design from the unaired pilot.
  • In Code Lyoko Season 4, the large room in Sector 5 that houses the Skidbladnir is called "Garage Skid" by Odd. This is a reference to Garage Kids, a short film by the creators of the show that was a test pilot for the series.
  • In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Velma's mother is wearing an unused Alex Toth design for Velma's outfit in the original Scooby Doo cartoon.
  • The opening episode of The Real Ghostbusters 6th season Janine, You've Changed lampshades the fact that from season 3 onwards Janine's visual design and voice changes several times.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Catra's positioning as Adora's main foe doubles as this and Mythology Gag: it calls back to the development of the 1985 show, where Catra was initially planned to be the main antagonist of the series before it was decided to integrate more elements from the Masters of the Universe toyline.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball has several examples;
    • "The Mystery": The yearbook pictures for Alan and Tina both use their designs from the early reel.
    • According to an early production image, the fingerprint robber was going to study in Gumball's class. He was aged, but in "The Gi" he is shown in a flashback with his early kid design.
    • The class photo in "The Curse" that gets impaled by pencils has everyone but Darwin and Gumball as they were in the early reel.
    • "The Fridge": Nicole puts war paint on her face during the paintball game. The way she does it covers her whiskers, making them look longer, and thus more like they did in her character model before it was redesigned for the second season.
    • "The Skull": When Clayton shapeshifts into Banana Joe's form, he looks like Joe's first season character model instead of his current one.
    • "The Bumpkin": Gumball tries to escape school by sitting on one side of the seesaw while Hector stomps on the other, the same thing he and Darwin did to try and escape from the school in the early reel.
    • "The Storm": Masami's crush on Alan is funnier when you realize that they were a couple in the pitch pilot.
    • "The Tape": The group shot where Gumball almost says the show's name is very similar to the end of one of the series's trailers, except that was in front of the Watterson house and everyone managed to say it. In "The Compilation" there is also a similar scene, with several characters singing in front of the Wattersons' house.
    • "The Void": Darwin's CGI design from the pitch pilot can be seen floating around, as can a rejected design for the Watterson house.
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • Darth Vader's helmet design is reminiscent of Ralph McQuarrie's original concept, which featured a brow that made him look very sinister.
    • The outfit worn by the young Princess Leia is taken from unused concept art McQuarrie did of Leia for A New Hope.
    • Fifth Brother's design was taken directly from an unused piece of concept art that was drawn for The Force Awakens.
    • The Lasat term for the Force, "The Ashla", was the proper name for the Light Side of the Force that George Lucas created for early script drafts. The Dark Side on the other hand was referred to as the Bogan, which the Bendu brings in Season 3.
    • The Bendu is based on the original concept for Yoda, back when the character was going to be a gigantic creature instead of the little green dude everyone knows and loves. His name also comes from the "Jedi-Bendu", Lucas' original name for the Jedi.
    • During one scene, Zeb poses as a "Hairless Wookiee" in order to infiltrate an Imperial compound. Zeb's species, the Lasats, are based on early concept art for Wookiees.
    • In "Breaking Ranks", Kanan and Hera go after an Imperial kyber shipment, mention of which goes all the way back to a May 1975 synopsis of an early draft of A New Hope (although its own page]]. Its first actual appearance was as the MacGuffin in Splinter of the Mind's Eye and it's now spelled as "kyber crystal").
  • Sonic Boom has a few examples of this:
    • In "Dude, Where's My Eggman?" our good doctor runs into a criminal walrus that look very similar, and the two quickly form an egocentric friendship comparing themselves to each other. A walrus was one of the last designs among Eggman's original concept art.
    • In "Cabin Fever" Sonic and company partake in a sandcastle building contest. One draft of a very early internal document called the "Sonic Bible", which was created at Sega of America during the production of the original game, mentions that competing in sandcastle building contests is one of Sonic's past times.
  • Steven Universe has several examples, a few of which doubles as an Orphaned Reference:
    • When Pearl regains her physical form in "Steven the Sword Fighter", a silhouette resembling her original design from the pilot can be seen.
    • Greg's illustration of Lapis Lazuli in "The Message" is reminiscent of her early character design.
    • The video of the extended version of the show's theme song opens up with Steven, as a little boy, playing the first part of it on the ukulele. The whole segment is lifted from a similar scene in the pilot, where Steven performed the song as a preteen, right down to the Gems clapping along to the song. Amethyst's outfit during this segment (identical to her first outfit, but with a long-sleeved, off-shoulder top and no extra patches on her legs) is a reference to her design in the pilot.
    • In "Last One Out of Beach City":
    • In "The New Crystal Gems", Peridot and Lapis impersonate Garnet and Amethyst, referencing how their voice actors Shelby Rabara (Peridot) and Jennifer Paz (Lapis) originally auditioned for those roles.
    • Although Connie's mother is unnamed in the show, the name used by the crew is "Priyanka", a name from an episode idea that can be considered a very early prototype for "Bubble Buddies", Connie's debut episode.
  • The "BMO" episode of Adventure Time: Distant Lands has a scene where a character in the background is watching a show featuring a small child riding a flying tiger. This is a reference to Rumble Jaw, a fictional show about a girl with a huge fist and her tiger companion that the production crew created in order to hide the existence of the miniseries from those who weren't involved with the project.


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