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Shout Out / Life Is Strange

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Because the developers at DONTNOD Entertainment are insistent that we know the residents of Arcadia Bay are hip and with it, here are all the references in Life Is Strange.

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  • Like every story about a mysterious small town in America published after 1991, this game has several nods to Twin Peaks, the most blatant one being Rachel Amber, who is an Expy of Laura Palmer. They even have the same birthday, July 22nd.
  • The general setting (small west coast town) with a loner teenage girl involved in a mystery plot while being bullied by a close-knit group of rich spoiled kids does compare to Veronica Mars which in itself took more than a few cues from Twin Peaks (Laura Palmer Expy included).
  • The plot share many similarities to Donnie Darko, particularly the time travel aspect and the general atmosphere. Episode 1 also ends with a montage of all the major characters overlaid with music, similarly to Donnie Darko.
  • Max shares a surname with another angsty teen protagonist.
    • She also has poster in her room of "The Winger and the Cow", which looks almost exactly like the book cover of The Catcher in the Rye.
    • As of episode 3, there is a hat in the school's office Max describes as being something a "phony" would wear. Said hat looks very much like the one Holden Caulfield famously wore.
  • "I aim to misbehave" is a recurring graffiti slogan. As are "Trust No One" and "Everybody Lies". Another piece of graffiti reads "I'd rather lead a life full of oh wells than what ifs." What If? was one of the original proposed titles for the game during development.
  • One of the posters in Chloe's room is very clearly a blotchy version of the poster for The Thing.
  • The reveal in episode 4 of the torture porn room locked under an innocuous property owned by a crooked rich family complete with the trophies of women calls to mind The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011).
  • The idea of showing key photographs of a timeline change whenever Max makes alterations may be lifted from a similar effect in The Butterfly Effect.
  • Kate Marsh's middle name is Beverly; Beverly Marsh is the name of the female lead in IT.
  • Victoria Chase's last name is taken from Cordelia Chase, the Alpha Bitch in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • Max complains now and then about her rewind ability, claiming "I never asked for this!"
  • There are several Friday Night Lights references in the game as well.
    • Zachary's last name, Riggins, is a reference to the characters Tim and Billy Riggins, two brothers that try to make something worthwhile in their small town while the former is playing football. Derek Phillips, the actor who played Billy in the show voices Zachary in the game, although he is uncredited in that role. He also voiced Mark Jefferson.
    • Apparently, the Blackwell Bigfoot football team are playing the Dillon Panthers on November 6th, 2013. In FNL, the Dillon Panthers football team is the main team featured on the show.
  • Chloe repeatedly calls Max Super Max.
  • A blue butterfly granting someone superpowers to save their town from supernatural devastation? Why does that sound familiar...?
  • A kid with time-rewinding powers investigating a Serial Killer stalking the people of a small town? Is this a Jojos reference?
  • David Madsen's mustache and obsession with surveillance bring the Big Brother to mind. Also, Miss Grant petitions to stop David's surveillance plan to "prevent the campus from going back to 1984."

     Episode 1 
  • At the beginning of the episode, Mr. Jefferson utters "Bueller" when no one volunteers to answer one of his questions.
  • During Nathan's breakdown in the bathroom, he tries to reassure himself by saying that his control over the school is so absolute, he could blow it up if he wanted.
  • Ms. Grant asks Max to sign a petition to keep David Madsen from installing security cameras, lest he bring the school back to Nineteen Eighty-Four.
  • In the girls dorm, Stella Hill in room 217 has written "Redrum" on her noteboard. Max quips that she's never going in there.
  • When examining Victoria's television, Max comments that she would like to use it to watch Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, the Final Fantasy series being a Square Enix production.
  • When she picks up the flash drive, Max's inner monologue takes on a Gollum-esque third-person tone and she calls it "precious".
  • The cars in the parking lot and the one at Chloe's house all have license plates referencing TV shows. Going clockwise from the left: the brown car reads PRKSNRC, the red car reads THWR, the orange truck reads CRNVL, the white truck reads BFFVMPRSLR, Warren's car reads THXFLS, the red truck reads TWLGHTZN, the silver car reads THSPRNS, the RV reads BRKBD, the white car reads BRDCHRCH, Chloe's truck reads TWNPKS, the faded red car reads QNTMLP, the blue truck in the center reads THPRCTC, the red truck in the center reads SXFTNDR, and the car in Chloe's garage reads TRDTCTV.
  • When going around the dirty RV in the parking lot (which she later learns is Frank Bowers'), Max can find a sleeping dog. She then quips that the dog looks peaceful now, but if woken up: "Cujo." This becomes extra funny when she keeps nicknaming the dog Cujo in the following episodes, until she learns in Episode 3 that its actual name is Pompidou.
  • When Max sits on the swings in Chloe's backyard, she remembers a conversation she and Chloe had in the past discussing what they wanted to do in the future. Chloe says that she'd like to be like Lara Croft.
  • Chloe says "I'm Price... Chloe Price."
  • A poster in Chloe's room, on the wall by her bed, looks very similar to one for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011). Rachel's missing person poster also mentions that she has a tattoo of a dragon on her leg.
  • Max can find a graffiti on the hidden side of the shack near the lighthouse, a bunch of strange symbols forming a pyramid, and comments "It makes me think about the wind" when looking at it. The symbols represent the characters in Alain Damasio's La Horde du Contrevent, a critically-acclaimed French novel with very strong themes about the wind.
  • The opening has the main character waking up in a dream sequence, seeing a massive tornado, and fleeing to a lighthouse for safety, not unlike another game.
  • Brooke's Geek Grrls Book Club advertisement lists authors: Ursula K. LeGuin, Robin Hobb, Neil Gaiman, Piers Anthony, Terry Brooks, and Marion Zimmer Bradley. At the end it also says: No boy wizards or sad vampire fiction allowed.

     Episode 2 
  • The episode starts with Max trying to return Kate's copy of The October Country by Ray Bradbury to her.
  • There's a pack of Mystic Enchantment cards in Max's drawer.
  • If watering her plant for the second time (which kills the plant), Max says the water has "electrolytes".
  • Max suggests that Kate is in her H.R. Giger period upon seeing Kate's recent drawings.
  • Episode 2's license plates continue the reference trend, only with films. In the Two Whales parking lot: the yellow truck reads NTHRRTH, the light blue car reads THKLLNG, the white truck reads DNNDRK, the blue car reads GRNDGHD, the orange car reads THFLCT, the white car around the back reads LPHNT. Mr. Jefferson's car, seen in the credits, reads TPFTHLK.
  • The old fisherman Max encounters outside the diner has a nameplate on his table that reads R.J. MacReady.
  • In the bathroom at Two Whales, someone has written "KATE MARSH LOVE U LONG TIME". Max can also find "Fire Walk With Me" etched in the mirror as a photo op.
  • The fisherman sitting immediately to the right of the diner door is the spitting image of Detective Holder.
  • Upon examining the songs available to play on the jukebox in the Two Whales Diner, Max will notice that they have "I Got You Babe" by Sonny and Cher. She finds it ironic, given the similarities between her own story and a certain 90's film that featured that song prominently.
    Max: I Got U Babe? Weirdly appropriate, but no fucking way!
  • Frank calls Max and Chloe "Thelma & Louise".
  • At the diner, Chloe can say "Didn't you and Sgt. Pepper already read me the Riot Act last night?"
  • When Max notices that her camera is broken, she gripes, "Are you serial?" This is a reference to Al Gore in South Park, who always says "serial" instead of "serious." Chloe remarks that it's a dated reference.
  • Before digging into her food, Chloe comments that she's "hungry like the wolf."
  • When guessing what's in Chloe's pockets, Max will say that her keychain is a robot panda, a reference to Jax from Dontnod's prior release, Remember Me.
  • Max can comment on the disused look of an old bus emblazoned with "142," and it's one of the optional photos. Christopher McCandless lived and died in Fairbanks City Transit System Bus 142.
  • The large boat in the junkyard is named "Sleep Perchance I Dream".
  • In her journal, Max references the infamous exploding head scene from Scanners in regards to the headache caused by overusing her powers.
  • This episode contains numerous nods to Stand by Me, including a wild deer showing up, Max brandishing a pistol at a knife-wielding thug and Chloe nearly getting hit by a train. Max even says "Come stand by me" to Kate when trying to convince her not to jump off the roof. Stand by Me is also about two childhood friends coming of age, one of whom doesn't make it.
  • When Max attempts to talk to Evan, he calls her Maxwell Smart.
  • Warren welcomes Max to the lab with a cry of "Maxwell Silver Hammer! Perfect timing!"
  • Max will play the Igor to Warren's Dr. Frankenstein in Episode 2, complete with obligatory shout-out.
  • If you help Warren with his experiment:
  • If you examine the axe in the shack while Chloe's leg is stuck in the train tracks, Max will say something like "Chloe's not a zombie!" This is a reference to The Walking Dead, in which one character gets his leg caught in a bear trap and you have to chop his leg off with an axe in order to free him.
    • If you take the pliers from the shack, Max says that she can "pull some serious MacGyver shit".

     Episode 3 

     Episode 4 
  • In the alternate timeline, Chloe has a conversation in an online chatroom with someone who's about to start watching Quantum Leap.
  • Alternate Chloe's worsening condition might have to do with the fact that her physician is Dr. Anton Phibes, and her parents get her meds from Cronenberg Medical Supplies.
  • The alternate Price family is apparently indebted to Donald Clamp lenders.
  • Chloe and Max watch Blade Runner together.
  • A letter in Chloe's drawer from Principal Wells suggests that Chloe consider attending H. West Miskatonic University in Bolton.
  • After returning from the alternate timeline, Max writes down "let's never do the time warp again".
  • Max's shirt depicts a death's-head hawkmoth, most famously seen in The Silence of the Lambs.
  • Max references the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "City On the Edge of Forever" in her journal talking about the parallels to her situation of Chloe being tied to the storm, with Captain Kirk having to let a woman die to keep Axis from winning World War II.
  • When Max finds David's file locker in the garage, she remarks "Hey David, whatcha hidin'?" which, unless you don't pay attention to voice actors or genuinely don't know who she is, is an obvious reference to Chloe's voice actor Ashly Burch a.k.a Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin'?
  • The Blackwell students who signed Kate's card include River S. and Rory W.
    • Max names an owl she finds Dr. Hoo.
  • Frank calls Max and Chloe the Wonder Twins and the Hardy Boys.
  • For yet another reference to Twin Peaks, the doctor the Prescotts hired to help Nathan was named "Dr. Jacoby".
    • The "Dark Room" where Rachel was taken, as well as the red curtains Max crosses when entering the Vortex Club party, are references to the Black Lodge.
    • The implication that the villain is shifting their attention to Victoria, who wins the Everyday Heroes photo contest, is similar to how Windom Earle kidnapped the winner of the Miss Twin Peaks pageant.
  • The paperwork for the construction of the bunker says it was done by Howard Roark Construction.
  • On entering the barn, Chloe notes that it felt way too Blair Witch.
  • Max proudly calls herself Max Gyver having managed to pry open the trapdoor to the dungeon under the barn.
  • If you talk to Justin at the vortex club party he'll refer to Max as Maximum Overdrive.
  • After finding the right evidence to try and crack the pin on Nathan's phone, she states that all she has to do is "blow this code up and go home."
  • One of the names on Frank Bowers' client list is Stifler from the American Pie films.
  • If you mention the possibility of time travel causing the weather and other odd happenings around Arcadia Bay while talking to Ms. Grant, she name-drops A Sound of Thunder.
  • While talking to Warren at the End of the World Party, he'll mention that his fight with Nathan was enough to fill his daily quota for "ultraviolence".
  • After giving Max a boost onto a platform in the barn, Chloe quips "Up, up and away, Supermax."
  • Events at the Vortex Club party make Max muse about "going Carrie" on them.
  • If Max has escalated the conflict with Victoria all the way and pulled no punches, they will start slinging insults at each other as fast as they can. At the end of this, Victoria closes with "Adios" and Max with "Au Revoir."
  • During the visit to Kate's hospital room (if you saved her), you can look at one of her drawings. It depicts, among other random characters, a baby pirate fox.
  • The two moons in the sky could be a shout out to 1Q84 where two moons hanging in the sky indicate the characters have crossed into another world.
  • When entering the boys' dorm, Chloe calls Max Batmax.

     Episode 5 
  • Episode 5 was released the day before "Back to the Future Day" (October 21, 2015), the date Marty McFly travels to in Back to the Future Part II.
  • There are several references to Remember Me throughout Episode 5:
    • Max's "focus within a focus" on the selfie she took in class is a direct reference to the "remixing the remix" segment of Remember Me.
    • The inclusion of 6 or 7 moments in the "focus" style echoes the wish by some players of "Remember Me" that there had been more of remix moments in the game (or that the game had been composed of mostly memory remixes).
    • The edges of walkways in the labyrinthine segments of Max's nightmare echo the edges of walkways in the Ego Rooms.
  • The Serial Killer being a Mad Artist who's into photographing pictures of their victims while allowing them to suffer a slow death is eerily similar to the hitman from Road to Perdition.
  • A series of sculptures in the San Francisco art gallery seem to depict John Cleese's signature Ministry of Silly Walks walk.
  • One of the art exhibits at the Zeitgeist Gallery is a picture of a person's cybernetic arm similar to Adam Jensen's.
  • Max sees a pamphlet for a lecture about dystopias, with examples like Metropolis, Planet of the Apes, Blade Runner, and The Hunger Games.
  • Many of the "Everyday Hero Contest" winners share surnames with famous scifi writers, such as: Atwood, Ballard, Chabon, Cline, Eggers, Levin, McCarthy, Pynchon, and Vonnegut.
  • The guestbook at the Zeitgeist Gallery has an entry written by someone named Lisa Simpsons.
  • As usual, there are multiple Twin Peaks References:
    • Mark Jefferson states that his orchestration of the Dark Room crimes stems from an obsession to capture the loss of innocence and youth. BOB and the other spirits of the Black Lodge in Twin Peaks feed on 'garmonbozia', a physical representation of pain and suffering, which they must torment people to create.
    • If Max tells David about Chloe's murder, he shoots and kills Jefferson. Twin Peaks had a similar situation with Leland Palmer smothering Jacques Renault, whom he thought responsible of his daughter's murder.
    • In the nightmare sequence before the final decision, there are two very Black Lodge-esque moments: The presence of Doppelgangers of Max's friends and acquaintances which torture her psychologically, and a throwback to the academy hallway at the start of Episode 1 where all the dialogue and hovertext is backwards.
  • When talking at the Two Whales diner, Warren tells Max "I'm not a real scientist, even though I play one at school", referencing a phrase that originated from an 80s cough syrup commercial featuring an actor from General Hospital.
  • When Max once again awakes in Mr Jefferson's class, he is quoting Alfred Hitchcock. If you move the camera to the right towards the window we see birds crashing into the windows.
  • One of the lines scribbled in Max's journal during the nightmare sequence reads "the doe is a lie", a reference to Portal.
  • A sequence in the finale involves walking down the same seemingly identical hallway time after time, making small interactions along the way.
  • One of the things Nathan says while stalking you in the finale is that he and Rachel are floating down in the sewers, a reference to Stephen King's It.
  • When Warren is stalking Max in the nightmare sequence, he calls, "Come out and play-eee-ay!" This references the famous line at the end of The Warriors.
  • The potential endings are all major homages.
    • The Chloe Ending contains a reference to Fight Club with the two holding hands as they witness wanton destruction the protagonist was (inadvertently) the catalyst of as music plays. Even the name of the game could be a reference to the final line of the movie ("You met me in a strange time in my life")
    • The Arcadia Bay ending is a reference to Donnie Darko, with Chloe sacrificing herself via time travel to save the city.
  • Halfway through the Episode, Max wakes up in a timeline where she's back in the Dark Room, and cannot escape using her powers because Jefferson burned her diary and photos. This could be a reference to the climax of The Butterfly Effect, where the protagonist wakes up in a timeline where he's in a mental institution, and cannot escape because in this timeline his diaries (his medium for time travel) don't exist.
    • In a general sense with regards to the final episode, Max discovers that by preventing Chloe's death, she has created an alternate timeline and caused the tornado that is going to destroy the town. This is very similar to the later part of Steins;Gate, in which the main character realises that by preventing one friend's death, he created an alternate world line in which it is impossible to stop his other friend from being killed - leaving him with the choice of either returning to the original world line and allowing his friend to die, or remaining in the current world line and accepting that he cannot save his other friend. The funny thing? In the English dub of the anime, the second friend is played by Ashly Burch, Chloe's voice actress.
    • When arguing with Chloe about whether to sacrifice her, Max says I never asked for this!.