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  • Finch has difficulty moving his neck, just like Batman in the Burton/Schumacher film series and Batman Begins (Due to costume limitations), Finch also has Bruce Wayne's nigh-unlimited financial resources. Reese wears dark clothing (commonly described as a nice suit) and speaks in a raspy whisper, also like Batman.
    • Alternatively Finch may be a shout out to Oracle, a computer wizard connected to a vast network of cameras who also has problems walking (especially since he was wheelchair-bound at one point).
    • One opinion is that he's a combination of Oracle, Lucius Fox, and Alfred.
  • More Batman references:
    • Joss Carter starts out as an honest cop hunting a vigilante, but eventually teams up with the vigilante to stop organized crime and citywide corruption. This is similar to James Gordon's story in Year One.
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    • Lionel Fusco is an overweight alcoholic Dirty Cop who is smarter than he initially appears and eventually redeems himself, similar to Harvey Bullock.
    • In "Til Death," after capturing the two PoIs, Carter asks, "Why don't just dangle them off the roof and force them to tell us how to find the hitman?" Sounds very similar to someone's favorite interrogation technique, doesn't it?
      • Reese uses the same technique in "Get Carter" and "Masquerade."
    • In "Bury the Lede," the PoI refers to the elusive "Man in the Suit" (Reese) as "something out of a comic book."
    • One of Fusco's nicknames for Reese: "Wonder Boy."
    • See also the discussion of "Wolf and Cub" below.
    • In "Liberty," we learn that Root's "Uncle Harold" (Finch) checked her into the mental hospital under the name "Robin."
    • From "Razgovor": "Not every kid gets to become the ward of a reclusive billionaire."
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    • "The Day the World Went Away"; Finch has a speech about he's going to break his self-decided rules. Which brings to mind Joker's speech about how Batman's gonna "break his one rule" in The Dark Knight. Except this time he's already lost someone he cares about.
      • Also from that episode, right after Finch goes on a tirade about a corrupt & broken down system, The Machine breaks out 600 criminals from the prison he's held, to cover his escape. Few differences aside, it's similar to what Bane did in The Dark Knight Rises.
  • May well be unintentional, but one of the dead soldiers mentioned in "Mission Creep" is named Manny Santos.
  • The episode title "Get Carter" itself, to the film of the same name.
  • Finch's cover identity as "Harold Wren," an insurance underwriter, is a reference to the Wren Insurance building in SimCity 4.
  • In "Root Cause", a hacker named Root. Doubles as an in-joke for those with knowledge of computers. As an additional computer in-joke, the second time the character appears, she goes under the name Caroline Turing, after Alan Turing, one of the key pioneers of computing and artificial intelligence...and another Cryptonomicon character. All of her other aliases are references to computer scientists:
  • "Super" has several references to Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. Reese's cover name, "Mr. Hayes," is a reference to the film's screenwriter; Reese spends the episode in his apartment in a wheelchair, trying to solve a crime by watching his neighbors.
  • "Wolf and Cub" has Reese working on behalf of a 14-year old comic book fan who decides Reese is "a ronin."
    • Also in that episode, a woman says Reese's whole stepping out of the shadows to help people thing would fit in just fine at the local comic book store.
    • During the episode, the young POI acts as Robin to Reese's Batman, and like certain versions of Batman, his presence lightens Reese up considerably.
  • In "Identity Crisis" two of the thugs are listed in the credits as Jekyll and Hyde.
  • The numbers in Reese's SSN add up to 16, the candidacy number associated with Sayid Jarrah.
  • The climax of "Risk," when Finch is bidding up the price of Tritak, deliberately imitates Wall Street.
  • In "Ghosts", it is revealed that Harold routinely works as a low-level employee at a company he owns.
  • Finch spends an entire flashback in "The Contingency" wandering around New York and asking the Machine if it can see him now.
  • The PoI in "Bad Code" is shown in a flashback playing The Oregon Trail on a public library computer. She died of dysentery, of course.
  • The Prisoner gets a lot of references:
    • Alastair Wesley (to Reese), Snow (to Carter) and the Voice (to Finch) have said 'farewell' by using the phrase: "Be seeing you."
    • The episode title of "Many Happy Returns" is another Prisoner shout-out.
    • Yet another reference comes in Root's closing narration for "Deus Ex Machina," where she remarks that "You're not a free man anymore, Harold. You're just a number."—an inversion of Number Six's perennial protest.
    • Dialogue from the opening of The Prisoner also appears in "Zero Day" ("What do you want?" "Information.") and "Booked Solid" ("Who do you work for?" "That would be telling.")
    • "6,741" is a Whole Plot Reference to "The Chimes of Big Ben."
  • James Bond:
    • In "Dead Reckoning", Finch disarms the bomb vest with 0:07 seconds left on the timer.
    • In "All In", Reese mentions that he used to be a spy, so of course he knows how to play Baccarat. Baccarat is the favorite card game of James Bond.
    • In the 1973 flashbacks in "The Cold War," British secret agent Greer used a Walther PPK.
  • "Shadow Box" indicates that Cal Beecher worked at the 55th precinct.
  • "Proteus" starts with Finch and Reese (plus Bear) going to a movie theater to see Rashomon. Reese wryly comments that he would rather have seen Once Upon a Time in the West, which of course has "fewer subtitles."
  • Heat
    • In "Many Happy Returns," Reese is seen sitting in the library, reading ''Stress Fractures in Titanium.''
    • Shaw claims to have worked for "McCauley's crew" in "Honor Among Thieves."
    • In "Blunt," the diner meeting between Reese and Dominic is another Heat homage.
  • In "Zero Day", Ernest Thornhill is an in-universe fictitious man that a lot of trouble has been gone through to make it look like he exists. He even has a drone fly after his car featuring a camera shot reminiscent of the famous one in North by Northwest.
    • Also, the fact that his name is Ernest to begin with. The Importance of Being Earnest is also about complications arising from efforts made to "create" a fictional man named Ernest.
    • Speaking of North By Northwest, that's the film playing as the in-flight movie in "4C."
  • Elias' line in 'The Devil You Know' "If you know me at all, John, you know there's always another way out" is eerily similar to Michael Emerson's previous character Ben's line "How many times do I have to tell you, John? I always have a plan."
  • "Reasonable Doubt": "I did not kill my husband." (the episode is also a Whole Plot Reference to Double Jeopardy)
  • The POI in "Razgovor" is Harriet the Spy.
  • "The Crossing" is a Shout-Out/Whole Plot Reference to The Warriors.
  • "Provenance" is a Shout-Out to Leverage . . . and "The Purloined Letter" . . . and Ocean's Eleven.
  • In "A House Divided", the computer showing Vigilance's show trial of Finch, Greer, and Control initially has a test pattern on its screen saying "Please Stand By", one that looks remarkably similar to one of the initial loading screens of Fallout
  • It is also not the first time that Michael Emerson has been in a story about a malevolent force wanting to 'Play a Game'
  • By season 3, and especially with season 4, the plot of the whole show has begun to bear more than a passing resemblance to Neuromancer.
    • Multiple times, Harold has walked past a row of pay phones while the Machine is trying to contact him, resulting in each one starting to ring precisely as he passes it. The exact same thing happens between Wintermute and Case.
  • "Guilty" is a Shout-Out to 12 Angry Men.
  • Between Zoe Morgan (strong-willed amoral woman with high society connections who has a relationship with a tall, dark, brooding vigilante protagonist), the Chinese ex-gymnast from "Provenance" (cat burglar with a daughter) and the Number from "Blunt" (ostensibly amoral thief/conwoman who has more of a heart than she lets on), the show arguably has not one, but three versions of Catwoman.
  • Reese, on two occasions, paraphrases Joseph Heller's book Catch 22.
    Reese: Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not trying to kill you.
  • Given the Batman similarities, Control is arguably this show's version of Suicide Squad's Amanda Waller, in that she's an overweight woman running a secret black-ops government agency that does morally questionable things to protect the public. She's not actually black, and doesn't exactly have a bunch of supervillains under her control, but otherwise she's nigh identical.
  • Shaw is played by a beautiful woman who is of mixed non-white and white ancestry. She plays a trained assassin and wears black all the time, and has difficulty communicating with and acting like normal people due to a traumatic upbringing, yet she still manages moments of humanity. In short, she's this show's version of Cassandra Cain as Batgirl.
  • Hersh to The Terminator with his stoic Implacable Man Made of Iron nature. Shaw gets this treatment as well in "Razgovor", and does Sarah Connor's one-handed shotgun pump from Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
  • When Samaritan has them on the run, Finch declares "there is no sanctuary."
  • The shooting of a politician in "Root Cause" resembles the one in The Parallax View, which also involved an innocent man framed as a patsy for a political assassination.
  • The voice of World Control is heard during the Elevator Failure in "Nothing to Hide".
  • Samaritan's human avatar Gabriel is described as representing The Shape of Things to Come, a novel by H.G. Wells in which a worldwide utopia is imposed by technological force.
  • In "SNAFU," Reese mentions that he's more fox than hound right now.
  • "Truth Be Told" alludes to Telefon.
  • The ICE-9 computer virus ("Synecdoche," ".exe," and "Return 0") is named after the McGuffin in the Kurt Vonnegut novel Cat's Cradle.
  • In ".exe," Reese is reluctant to climb up a bag chute to infiltrate the NSA because he remembers "what happened to the German kid in Willy Wonka."
  • USS Garner, the ship which launches the cruise missile in "Return 0," is named after Jennifer Garner, who starred in Alias.
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