- In "Tunnel", a history teacher named Howard Gabriel at Harding High School is brought in for causing a disturbance, running up onto the roof in frustration with the other students taunting him to jump, stating that he gets treated roughly in spite of his efforts to be patient and understanding. When he's found with handcuffs, mace, and a blackjack, he tells Captain Miller that if he went into class armed only with his wit and told them jokes, they'd cut his heart out with their little pencils, making a reference to Welcome Back, Kotter, derisively singing part of the theme song:Barney: Mr. Gabriel, I would imagine there are better ways of establishing rapport with one's class.
Howard Gabriel: What do you want? Do you want me to go in there like that Kotter on TV, armed only with my wit?
Barney: Mr. Gabriel—
Howard Gabriel: If I told them jokes like he did, they would cut my heart out with their little pencils!
Barney: Uh, Sgt. Dietrich will take your statement.
Dietrich: Have a seat over there, Mr. Gabriel.
Howard Gabriel: Oh God, how I hate that show. "Welcome back, welcome back..." You want to know how they welcomed back Mr. Blaine, the librarian? Blew up his car!
- In one episode, a woman goes to the police because her husband of over 20 years did something different when they were having sex, and she now thinks that he's a replacement. One of the detectives sardonically says to her, "Did you check for pods?" which is a reference to Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
- The beggar in "The Harris Incident", who finances a very nice house and nanny after being laid off from Wall Street, is a reference to the Sherlock Holmes story "The Man with the Twisted Lip."
- In the episode "Obituary", a newspaper reporter's city editor is named Lou. Lampshaded by Harris.
- In the episode "The Search", Dietrich mentions a children's show called Invertebrates, Invertebrates, Invertebrates. This is a parody of an ABC Sunday afternoon children's show Animals, Animals, Animals which was hosted by Hal Linden.
- In the episode "Uniform Days", a criminal complains that he's not being treated like they do on Dragnet. Dietrich promptly engages him in small talk (reminiscent of Sgt. Friday) about the pot holders that he makes, complete with Dragnet style quick cuts between the two. After the suspect looks confused, Dietrich says "You wanted Dragnet, didn't you?"
- In the episode "Discovery", Fish talks of a film in which "they turned old people into crackers and fed them to young people."
- Dietrich's concern for a pleasant amnesiac in "Eviction" leads Barney to caution him on falling in love with suspects;Barney: Dietrich, I don't have to remind you about the danger of getting personally involved with a suspect.
Dietrich: Ah, I can handle it, Barn.
Barney: I mean, this is no Mickey Spillane novel, where the hard-boiled detective falls for the beautiful amnesiac.
Dietrich: She's just another case to me. [pause] With your average sensational gams.
(He drops into a very slight Bogart drawl on that line. Nails it cold.)
- In "The Vandal", a TV programmer is brought into the squad room after getting into a fight with a man who hates all the garbage on TV. The other man's incessant needling finally causes the TV programmer to snap, and he starts ranting about all the crap he has to put on the air. The rant ends with the programmer jumping up on the cell bars and screaming "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!", in homage to Howard Beale's frustrated rant from "Network".
- In "Movie: Part 1", Barney lays into Harris for blowing almost the entire budget for the pornographic film he has been assigned to make before a single frame of film has been shot. Harris replies, "They didn't bother Cimino until he went above $40 million!", a reference to the budget overruns for the film Heaven's Gate (at the time this episode aired, Michael Cimino was hastily re-editing the film after a poor showing at its premiere).
- In "Voice Analyzer", when Dietrich is taking a "vocal stress test" (read: lie detector test), the interviewer asks him where he was born. He says he doesn't remember, as it was "a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away," a reference to the opening text of Star Warsnote .
- The main subject of "The Counterfeiter" is a modern update of the Real Life Edward Mueller, whose story was the basis of Mister 880, starring Edmund Gwenn as counterfeiter Skipper Miller.
- In "Copycat", Yemana researches a copycat's next crime by studying a TV Guide. When Barney asks if he's found anything, Yemana replies "Lucy just found out she's pregnant, and doesn't know how to tell Ricky". Later Dietrich asks Barney if Yemana came up with anything.Barney: Just that Lucy's pregnant.
Dietrich: That Charlie Brown's a devil, isn't he?
- At the beginning of "Fog", Dietrich and Wojo are awed by the thick fog blanketing New York. Dietrich proceeds to quote Act I, Scene 1 of William Shakespeare's Macbeth: "Fair is foul, and foul is fair / Hover through the fog and filthy air." Wojo replies by quoting Carl Sandburg's "Fog": "The fog comes / on little cat feet. / It sits looking / over harbor and city / on silent haunches / and then moves on." (Harris then enters and brings things back to earth by simply describing the fog as "thick as pea soup". "Ours were better," Wojo tells Dietrich.)
Shout Out / Barney Miller