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Shout Out / Luke Cage (2016)

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Season 1

  • Each episode in season one is titled after a Gang Starr song.
  • Luke's adherence to Gosh Darn It to Heck! and use of a swear jar is an homage to Prince, who was similarly adverse to swearing in public and even fined people who cursed at his shows. Reportedly, this was part of a bid to get Prince himself to cameo on the show, but he died before the producers could contact him.
  • In the first episode, it's established that Luke has a blind friend/early warning system who runs a newsstand and tips him off when Connie will pressure him for his rent money. That is exactly the kind of relationship that Shaft and Marty have.
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  • In one episode, Luke can be seen reading a copy of Little Green: An Easy Rawlins Mystery by Walter Mosley.
  • Cottonmouth has a framed poster of The Notorious B.I.G. on the wall of his office.
  • Luke's walk through Crispus Attucks while casually shrugging off gunfire from multiple shooters is a nod to the police station massacre from The Terminator. This is the second time that particular massacre has been referenced in the Netflix shows, the first being Karen Page and Grotto's escape from the Punisher at the hospital in the season 2 premiere of Daredevil (2015), released earlier in the year.
  • After Willis Stryker takes out the ambulance transporting Luke, he taunts Luke with The Warriors quotes like "Can you dig it?" and "Caaaarl! Come out and plaaaay!" Luke identifies the movie and realizes Stryker's identity because of it.
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  • In one scene, while talking with Pop, Luke names writers such as Richard Price, George Pelacanos, and Dennis Lehane, all writers from The Wire. Which gets complicated by the fact that he doesn't seem to notice that Pop looks a lot like Ervin Burrell.
  • When Luke confronts two thugs in a parking lot, he calls them "Plug One" and "Plug Two," the names of two members of the group De La Soul.
  • Shades responds to Willis Stryker's decision to take Harlem's Paradise hostage by saying, "Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Willis?". Willis replies that it's not the time for jokes.
  • Harlem's Paradise itself is a reference to Smalls Paradise, a former nightclub that was established in 1925 by Ed Smalls and known in its day for being the only Harlem club that was integrated and owned by an African American. The name is also a nod to the 1939 musical film Paradise in Harlem, which centered around an actor who sees a mob execution and gets run out of town. In Season 2, it's established that Buggy Stokes and Quincy McIver worked as dishwashers at Small's Paradise, so it's likely that they named Harlem's Paradise after it.
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  • Bobby Fish's name is a play on Bobby Fischer, another chess player. Turk even points it out.
  • Luke and Squabbles debate whether Fist of Fury or Fist of Legend is the better movie.
  • At the end of the season, Shades and Mariah replace the Biggie Smalls portrait with Basquiat's Red Kings. The painting is the original and becomes a plot point in the second season.

Season 2

  • Each episode of season two is titled after a song by Pete Rock & CL Smooth.
  • One of the Jamaicans clinks beer bottles stuck on his fingers while calling out Luke Cage, just like Luther in The Warriors.
  • When Pirana Jones is trying to sell Mariah on buying Atreus Plastics, she's skeptical, and asks if he had ever seen The Graduate. Pirana admits he's never seen the film.
  • The end of Luke and Misty's last scene in Season 2 is almost shot-for-shot from the ending of The Godfather, with Luke as Michael Corleone and Misty as Michael's wife. Misty's outside the room, watching as someone whispers something sensitive into Luke's ear, and another of Luke's men closes the door on her, slowly but inevitably shutting her out from this part of his life.
  • In the second season finale, D.W. accuses Luke of being up to "Hyman Roth shit," referencing the gangster from The Godfather Part II
  • A late-episode sequence in which a brooding Luke Cage walks down the street and seems to glide across the pavement while mournful music plays is an apparent homage to a very similar sequence on Malcolm X.
  • The sequence where the Asian gang attacks en masse while Dual Wielding hatchets is a reference to the Axe Gang, a real historic Chinese gang that has been portrayed in such a way by numerous kung fu films.
  • Tilda drops the name of numerous black musicians at Cottomouth's grave.
  • D.W. tells Luke that he should have "been like... Dracarys!" on Bushmaster. Luke counters that this isn't Game of Thrones. When Danny Rand shows up in the same episode, neither of them notice that he looks a lot like Loras Tyrell.
  • Of all the songs KRS-One could've done at Mariah's concert, the second one he pulls out, right as Bushmaster is coming after her no less, is "Jack of Spades".
  • A scene where Bushmaster is giving orders to his crew finishes with him saying "Make it so".

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