- The first skeleton that Miguel encounters, the woman with the flowered hat who helps him out of the grave, is La Calavera Catrina a character created by Mexican cartoonist, José Guadalupe Posada who has become an icon of Día de Muertos.
- Many of the Land of the Dead's inhabitants are Real Life deceased Mexican celebrities, including Frida Kahlo, Mario Moreno 'Cantinflas', El Santo, Jorge Negrete, and Pedro Infante, who Ernesto is largely based on. Some are mentioned by name while others are a Freeze-Frame Bonus.
- The emo skeleton participating in the Battle of the Bands is wearing the skull shirt that Sid Phillips wore. He also bears more than a passing resemblance to Skrillex.note
- To Hamlet when Héctor confronts Ernesto and reminds Miguel of his promise to bring his picture to the Land of the Living so he will not be forgotten.
- Miguel learns that Ernesto killed his great-great-grandfather Héctor with poisoned tequila, while Claudius had poisoned the elder Hamlet by pouring a poison into his ears.
- Miguel plays "Remember Me" which Héctor wrote so that he won't be forgotten and fade away; one of King Hamlet's memorable lines to young Hamlet in Act I, Scene V is "Adieu, adieu, remember me".
- Miguel infiltrates Ernesto's concert to trick Ernesto into confessing his crimes; in Act III, scene II of Hamlet, Prince Hamlet stages an adapted version of "The Murder of Gonzago" with lines inserted to re-create the night when Claudius murdered King Hamlet, and as soon as Claudius sees his deeds re-enacted in the play, he has the play stopped, with his fearful reaction to the scene confirming King Hamlet's testimony as true.
- Miguel's street dog friend is named Dante, after someone else who journeyed to the afterlife.
- Imelda's past features her making shoes for a living and raising a daughter without the latter's father. Sounds like Queen Miranda's past.
- While Traveling through the streets of the Land of the dead, there is a graffiti tag bearing the logo of Lalo Alcaraz's La Cucaracha comic strip.
- Maybe a stretch, but the bouncer at Ernesto's party tells one of the guests to have a good time. Two years earlier, another skeleton infamously warned a child trying to get past him that they were "gonna have a bad time."
- At the Department of Death, Miguel mentions that Dante has no hair to trigger an allergy, and the clerk responds that he has no nose. A similar line in Grim Fandango about tendons and lips in the first year of the game.
- The moment where the missing part of the ofrenda picture used for Mamá Imelda is produced, completing it with her husband after we lost hope of ever putting up a picture of him, is similar to the "I have the other pair" scene from Cinderella.
- While in the pit, Miguel is rained on and stretches out his arms, smiling, a la Andy Dufresne
Shout Out / Coco