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    Trailers 
  • Trailers
    • The Red Trailer: The cliff side altar Ruby visits is engraved with the epitaph "Summer Rose / Thus kindly I scatter." This is from The Last Rose of Summer by Thomas Moore.
    • The Black Trailer: Adam's weapon and combat style are based off Kagura Tsuchimiya from Ga-Rei -Zero-.
    • The Yellow Trailer:
      • Yang basically goes Super Saiyan-esque when she gets serious. "I Burn Remix" has her saying "and Super Saiyan now" in terms of her strength. The soundtrack also makes direct references to The Human Torch and Johnny Blaze aka Ghostrider.
      • Melanie uses Ling Xiaoyu's kicks which also used by Tifa in Dead Fantasy, this because Monty said he reused some moves he did previously in Dead Fantasy, but with different angle of camera to make them look new or different. She also uses the Flamingo stance parry and kicks used by Sarah Bryant in Virtua Fighter 5. Right after that Yang uses one of Lion's throws from 5 against her.

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    Characters 
  • Team RWBY's themes are mostly Fairytale Motif references, but Shout Out references also exist.
    • Ruby Rose's inspiration was Little Red Riding Hood, from her appearance to her name.
    • Weiss Schnee's inspiration comes from Snow White. Her Image Song, Mirror Mirror, is based off of the iconic "mirror mirror on the wall" speech from the titular fairy tale.
      • At one point, Weiss casts Haste from Final Fantasy on Blake and later herself, using the same visual effect (a clock appearing under her feet with rapidly spinning hands) from Monty's old work, Dead Fantasy.
    • Blake Belladonna's inspiration comes from Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Both are huge bookworms and are connected some way to a "beast" (Adam in Blake's case).
      • Her "Intruder" costume is based on one the outfits worn by Yuri of Girls' Generation in the music video for "The Boys".
    • Yang Xiao Long is based off of Goldilocks from Goldilocks and the Three Bears. She's very proud of her golden hair, and fights a lot of bear-themed oppoents: in the Yellow Trailer, she Junior's full name means "Little Bear" and his DJ wears a bear-mask. In the early episodes, Yang tends to fight Ursai, which are bear-themed Grimm. Her full name is a reference to Bruce Lee, whose Chinese screen name was "Li Xiaolong".
    • Yang and Ruby have a corgi named "Zwei" which is German for "Two". In Cowboy Bebop, there is a corgi named Ein(s), which is German for "One".
  • Team JNPR's theme is confirmed to be based on famous historical or mythical people who disguised themselves as a member of the opposite gender.
    • Jaune Arc is inspired by Jeanne D'Arc, who did disguise herself as a man for a while. He is believed to have an instinct for leadership and tactics and comes from an unassuming background. The bullies that target him during the Jaundice arc are Team CRDL, led by Cardin Winchester who has the telephone number 1374-BEAUFORT; the Cardinal of Winchester oversaw the trial of Joan of Arc and he was Henry Beaufort, a man born in approximately 1374.
    • Nora Valkyrie is inspired by the legend of Thor, who once disguised himself as a woman in order to get close enough to the man who stole his famous weapon. As with Thor, Nora's weapon is based on a war hammer.
    • Pyrrha Nikos is inspired by the legend of Achilles, who once disguised himself as a woman called Pyrrha. Nikos comes from Nike the Greek Goddess of Victory, and when she unlocks Jaune's Aura, the words she speak come from Greek philosophy. When she confronts the giant Death Stalker, her lunging spear stabs are based on Achilles's signature move from Troy.
    • Ren is inspired by Hua Mulan who famously disguised herself as a man so that she could protect her father's honour when conscription demands men send their sons to war.
  • Velvet Scarlatina is a brown-haired girl with brown rabbit ears. She is a reference to the children's storybook The Velveteen Rabbit; the Rabbit was a brown toy that was beloved by a little boy who contracted scarlet fever, which is also known as scarlatina.
  • Team SSSN is inspired in design by both Journey to the West and K-Pop bands.
    • Sun Wukong is named after the Monkey King and wields a staff. Sun's semblance creates clones that are the same colour as his hair; the Monkey King was able to create clones out of his hair.
    • Scarlet is stated to be based on Peter Pan. Specifically, his name stems from the second novel in the series, called Peter Pan in Scarlet.
    • The writers have stated in livestream interviews that Sage is inspired by Aesop, though they claim that they cannot remember whether it was one of his Fables or Aesop himself.
    • Neptune Vasalias's appearance is inspired by T.O.P of Big Bang. His power recalls the trident of the God of the Sea, Neptune, but also Zhu Bajie. King Neptune was a famous pig, a WW2 Navy mascot that raised huge funds for the US Navy; the Monkey King's companion, Zhu Bajie, is an anthropomorphic pig whose power is affected by water.
  • Ozpin's circle are all based off of characters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
    • Ozpin has two primary motifs:
      • He is based off The Wizard himself. The acronym for Oz's full name, OZPINHEAD, was the inspiration for Ozpin's name and his position as Headmaster. His reincarnation, Oscar Pine, was introduced as a farmhand who spends his days digging and tilling the earth. The Wizard's real name is Oscar Diggs. Oscar Pine also contracts to Oz Pin(e) (OZPIN).
      • He is also based off Odin, the Norse God. He possesses great wisdom and magical power. Odin was kept informed of the events of the world through two ravens called Huginn and Muninn. When Yang tells Blake about her mother, Raven, there is a Norse poem in the background, containing stanzas about Huginn and Muninn. Raven and her twin brother, Qrow, kept Ozpin informed of the events of the world because he used his magic to give them the ability to shapeshift into their namesake birds. Also like Odin, Ozpin is capable of travelling around the world in forms unrecognisable to even those who know him: instead of dying, his memories, Soul and Aura are transported into new bodies, thereby changing his identity every time.
    • Glynda Goodwitch is based off Glinda the Good Witch. Her Semblance ability allows her to perform feats that look like magic and she constantly monitors students through technological means, similar to Glinda the Good Witch's ability to monitor the events of Oz via a magical book. She wears a lot of white, in keeping with the Oz rule that only witches are allowed to wear white. Instead of a wand, she uses a leather riding crop, and her symbol is a tiara, in keeping with Glinda being the ruler of Quadling Country.
    • Qrow Branwen is based off the Scarecrow, acting as the rational thinker of Ozpin's subordinates. He is also based on Muninn, one of Odin's two ravens in Norse mythology. His twin sister Raven is based on Huginn. Salem refers to them as 'eyes'; when Tyrian reports that he's poisoned Qrow, Salem mentions 'the second eye is blinded', a reference to Raven (the other eye) having abandoned Ozpin years ago. Ozpin later confirms that he gave the twins the power to shapeshift into birds so that they can gather information from around the world on Salem's activities and the locations of new Maidens.
    • James Ironwood is based off the Tin Woodsman. He has lost half his body and therefore functions by means of cybernetic replacements. His surname Ironwood is a translation of the Russian version of the Tin Man. Also, the Tin Woodsman eventually becomes the General of the army of Oz, and is given a kingdom to rule in his own right. Ironwood is both the headmaster of the Huntsman Academy and the General of the Atlesian army. This gives him two seats on the Atlesian ruling council and, as Volume 4 proves, the ability to wield inordinate power over the Council to do things such as close the Atlesian borders and enforce Dust embargoes around the world. Qrow once even complains to Ozpin that he isn't sure Ironwood has a heart, a reference to the Tin Woodsman's desire to be given a heart. In the revisionist Wicked, the Tin Woodsman has an unrequited crush on Glinda the Good Witch, and Ironwood spends Volume 2 attempting to woo a rather impatient, but not entirely unreceptive, Glynda Goodwitch.
    • Leonardo Lionheart is based off the Cowardly Lion. He's a lion Faunus, his first name refers to lions, his second name refers to the courage of lions, and he's constantly terrified of the threat the villains pose to Mistral, the world and particularly himself. Salem outright refers to him as a coward, although Ozpin seems a little surprised by the extent of Leo's craven behaviour, implying something recent happened to him to make him so terrified of Salem.
  • Some of the villains are are also based on references to other works:
    • Salem, whose name is connected to the Salem Witch Trials, is Ozpin's Arch-Enemy. She is based on the Wicked Witch of the West, who was an enemy of The Wizard in the original stories. At the end of Volume 6, she starts creating an army of winged Beringel, literally creating the army of flying monkeys that the Wicked Witch commands in the stories. She also plays a secondary role as "fairy godmother" to Cinder, promising to help Cinder achieve her desires, just as Cinderella's fairy godmother did.
    • Cinder Fall is based off Cinderella. Her emblem is based off of Cinderella's iconic glass slippers. In addition, Dance Dance Infiltration has her returning to the Beacon Academy Dance at the stroke of midnight, shedding the clothing she wore to infiltrate the CCT; instead of a slipper, she leaves behind the mask she wore. The creators mention that her name was originally going to be Cinder Ella before they decided on Cinder Fall. Salem, who is the Wicked Witch to Ozpin's Wizard, also plays a more maternal role for Cinder, taking on the role of Cinderella's Fairy Godmother, by promising to help Cinder achieve her desires (in this case, power and infamy).
    • Roman Torchwick's design and his surname come from Lampwick from Pinocchio. His clothes and signature color are also a reference to Alex from A Clockwork Orange.
    • Mercury Black's inspiration is Mercury of Roman mythology, as is his personal winged helmet motif. His weapons residing in his feet act as a reference to Mercury's reputation for being fleet of foot and wearing winged sandals. Additionally, Mercury's father, Marcus, is a shout-out to fellow Roman god, Mars.
    • Despite drawing on the Beast for his motif, Adam Taurus' character is a shout-out to Gaston. Both are perceived by their peers (White Fang/Villagers) as charismatic, heroic figures, and aggressively pursue a female protagonist (Blake/Belle). Ultimately both turn out to be true monsters of their stories, pursuing the woman despite her clear and repeated insistence on wanting nothing to do with them, and becoming violently jealous of her relationship with another (Yang/Beast).
    • Hazel Rainart's inspiration is Hansel from Hansel and Gretel. He and his deceased sister, Gretchen, have similar sounding names with the fairy-tale characters — in fact, both Gretel and Gretchen are diminutive forms of the same name in the same language (specifically, the German name Margarete). The creators stated that Hazel was their exploration of what would happen to Hansel if his sister died.
  • Inspired by Pinocchio, Penny is an artificial girl who wishes to understand and socialise with real people. Like Pinocchio, she has a tendency to sneak off without permission and get into trouble as a result of the adventures she gets swept up in. She talks about not being a real girl the way Pinocchio talks about wanting to be a real boy. While Pinocchio's nose lengthens when he lies, Penny starts hiccoughing whenever she lies. Her surname "Polendina" is a yellow mushy food that was the insult used to describe Geppetto's hair. Penny's teammate in the Vytal Festival Tournament, Ciel Soleil, is a reference to the Blue Fairy.
  • Peter Port is based off Peter from Peter and the Wolf. Aside from a wise grandfather he claims to have, Peter claimed to have captured a Beowolf, being hailed a hero in his village in doing so.
  • Dr. Bartholomew Oobleck is named after Dr. Seuss' children's novel Bartholomew and the Oobleck. His hair is green, which also reflects the Oobleck.
  • Junior Xiong, owner of the club Yang visits in the Yellow short and Volume 2, is based off of Baby Bear from Goldilocks and the Three Bears, in keeping with Yang's inspiration, which is Goldilocks.
  • Brawnz Ni, leader of Team BRNZ, pays homage to Fairly Oddparents villain Bronze Kneecap, what with his bronze kneecaps.
  • Flynt Coal's inspiration actually originated from Rooster Teeth itself. Specifically, he's based off of Flint Coal, a character birthed from Achievement Hunter's Minecraft LPs. A character of the same name appeared in another Rooster Teeth production. His team's connection to memes and trolling suggests he's also based on the Skeleton Trumpet meme.
  • Neon Katt is based on the Nyan Cat meme. She creates a rainbow trail behind her, has cat traits, uses ice (referencing the cat's icing), and has a hyperactive personality.
  • The name of the current head of the Schnee Dust Company, Jacques Schnee, is derived from Jack Frost. Its founder, Nicholas Schnee, is derived from Saint Nicholas, better known as Santa Claus. Frank Baum wrote stories set in a land considered a neighbour to his more famous Land of Oz stories, which are a significant influence on this show, where Jack Frost was always trying to undermine Father Christmas.
  • Keeping up with Weiss' Snow White inspiration, her butler, Klein Sieben, is based off the seven dwarfs. His eyes change color occasionally, in order to fit with his current mood—each mood and color is based off one of the dwarfs as depicted in the Disney film.
  • Lil' Miss Malachite is based on Little Miss Muffet. Her organization is based on spiders, and she herself used to be afraid of them. She also makes her first appearance eating what appears to be curds and whey, just as Miss Muffet likes eating them.
  • Jinn is based off the Genie from 1001 Arabian Nights. She's a genie that can answer up to three questions each century, just as the genie grants three wishes. The Relic of Knowledge is basically the magic lamp that frees Jinn.
  • Tock, the Faunus who disabled Maria's Silver Eyes, is a reference to the crocodile from Peter Pan. Not only is she a crocodile Faunus, but she keeps a stopwatch to keep track of her victim's last moments—much like how the crocodile is famous for swallowing a clock that heralds its arrival.
  • Maria Calavera is based primarily off the Calavera, which are artfully decorated skull figures featured in the Mexican celebration of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). The mask she wears in her flashback is itself styled like a Calavera, she fights with double scythes connected with the Grim Reaper, and is even known to others as "The Grimm Reaper" as a title of respect and fear.

    Volume 1 
  • Volume 1, Episode 1:
    • The store that Torchwick and his goons attempt to rob is named "From Dust Till Dawn".
    • Ruby's line, "Oh, that's my uncle!", is a shout out to the Rooster Teeth podcast, where Burnie once used that line to summarize his problems with Japanese-style storytelling.
    • In the scene where the mook tries to get Ruby's attention, there is an album or magazine in the background titled "Truth" with the character from "Fullmetal Alchemist" on the cover.
  • Volume 1, Episode 3:
  • Volume 1, Episode 4:
    • Yang's sunglasses in episode 4 are a homage to Top Gun.
  • Volume 1, Episode 5:
  • Volume 1, Episode 8:
  • Volume 1, Episode 9:
    • Yang has an 'Achieve Men' Poster, which is a cartoon version of the Achievement Hunter Boy Band Poster.
    • Ruby, Yang, and Blake's cheer of 'Banzai!' and a lean to one side in the room-reorganizing sequence is a reference to Fuu, Mugen and Jin using the same phrase and lean in Samurai Champloo
    • During the Grim lecture, a boy shouts 'EEEEEEEEYYYYYYY YEAHHHH!' (Voiced by Kerry, no less) after a catch phrase shared by the members of the Internet Box.
    • A music piece during Professor Port's lecture is a reference to the opera, Peter and the Wolf.
    • In a nod to the different roles Professor Port's voice actor has played, Port refers to all Grimm as prey.
  • Volume 1, Episode 16:

    Volume 2 
  • Volume 2, Chapter 1:
    • During her speech, Ruby quotes Abraham Lincoln's "4 Score and Seven Years" and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream". When Weiss accuses her of stealing her binder, she uses Richard Nixon's "I'm not a crook" peace sign.
    • Tukson can be heard humming the opening notes of Blood Gulch Blues from Red vs. Blue, and Mercury and Emerald try to figure out what kind of Faunus Tukson was. They conclude "A puma?" in another Red vs. Blue reference.
    • Mercury walking out of Tukson's shop with an X-Ray & Vav comic. Jaune also reads the same comic in episode 2.
    • People Like Grapes Soda machines appear during the food fight.
    • Other food products include "Dr. Piper" (likely a reference to Dr. Pepper), "Ol' King Cold" (a reference to Old King Cole), and a milk carton called "Udder Satisfaction".
    • Nora calling "Off with their heads!" as per Alice in Wonderland, after shouting "I'm queen of the castle!" moments before.
  • Volume 2, Chapter 2: Yang uses the Yu-Gi-Oh! memetic line "You just activated my trap card!" after prefacing the reveal with "Pretty sneaky, sis!" as per the old Connect Four commercial. She and Ruby discuss the trap card in a similar manner to when luck-based cards are activated in the anime: the activator explains what the good effect does, the opponent clarifies what the bad effect is, and the good effect then occurs.
  • Volume 2, Chapter 3: Jaune asks Weiss if she would like to see a new Spruce Willis movie with him. This is a reference to the real-world Bruce Willis, who is known for his several action-genre movies, modified to fit the show's color theme naming (spruce is a shade of green).
  • Volume 2, Chapter 4:
    • Ruby calls out attack patterns by using various internet shipping names like "Freezer Burn" (Weiss/Yang), "Ladybug" (Ruby/Blake) and "Bumblebee" (Blake/Yang) to denote which pair to attack. Curiously, instead of their more common shipping names "White Rose" and "Monochrome", Ruby/Weiss became "Ice Flower" and Weiss/Blake became "Checkmate" respectively. At least with the latter's change, it ties into the Chess Motifs found in the series.
    • The Team RWBY combo attacks were all basically some form of dual tech, a system used in Chrono Trigger. Ladybug (Ruby/Blake) begin their attack with Eiji "Edge" Yamada's Team Up Super, ending the combo with an X-cut straight out of Chrono Trigger. The combo attacks were also inspired by the dwarves battling in The Hobbit.
    • While team RWBY is fighting Roman, Neptune and Sun are at A Simple Wok, a noodle shop named after Kerry and Chris' A Simple Walk into Mordor.
  • Volume 2, Chapter 6: Ren uses Samurai Shampoo, which is a play on the show Samurai Champloo.
  • Volume 2, Chapter 7:
  • Volume 2, Chapter 11:
    • The title of the episode is "No Brakes", in reference to the Achievement Hunter phrase "No brakes on the Fuck Train", used to denote a killstreak or other string of gaming successes.
  • Volume 2, Chapter 12:
    • Ruby attacks the pack of Beowolves in "Breach" the exact same way Neo attacked the Agent Smith clones in The Matrix Reloaded.
    • One of the lyrics in the song played when Team CFVY shows up in "Breach" is "I'm the highway star" from Deep Purple.

    Volume 3 
  • Volume 3, Chapter 1:
    • The way Blake takes out Reese (by using her semblance as bait and attacking from behind) is a one-person variant of the Bum Bait videos by Achievement Hunter, where one teammate acts as melee bait to set up easy kills for a partner.
  • Volume 3, Chapter 2:
    • During SSSN's fight with NDGO, Dew sweeps up some tornadoes that knock Sage out of the battle in short order. When she tries to do the same to Scarlet, he ends up stabilising himself and landing safely on a galleon. The way he does so is meant to look like Peter Pan when he is in flight because Scarlet is a reference to Peter Pan in Scarlet.
  • Volume 3, Chapter 4:
  • Volume 3, Chapter 5:
    • While Cinder is looking at Penny's schematics, you can see her model number as M374. The Meta from Red vs. Blue wore a M-374 Hephaestus Combat Suit.
  • Volume 3, Chapter 7:
    • Cinder's "Follow me, and you'll never go hungry again" is a reference to Scar's line.
  • Volume 3, Chapter 12:
    • The way Ruby, Nora, Jaune and Ren take off walking together from Ruby's house is designed too reference the Wizard of Oz, where the party of four is walking along the yellow brick road 'off to see the wizard'.

    Volume 4 
  • Volume 4, Chapter 1:
    • The barrel that Oscar is turning has the Compost King logo on it.
  • Volume 4, Chapter 2:
    • Jaune says he'd like to have a warrior's wolf tail, like Sokka's.
    • The scene where Jaune watches a recording of Pyrrha over and over again while training is a reference to the finale of Red vs. Blue Season 10.
  • Li Ren's character design was, per Kerry, explicitly based off Hanzo from Overwatch.
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    Volume 5 
  • Raven's speech describing Salem is nearly the same as the Terminator "It will not stop" speech Kyle Reese gives. In the same scene, she refers to Ozpin's "Great and Terrible Secret", furthering his Wizard of Oz allusions.

    Volume 6 
  • The Apathy Grimm plotline has two key sources: Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville and Serenity. Like his namesake, Bartleby was originally a hard worker, ambitious to make a success of himself. However, the farm runs into money troubles, meaning he can no longer afford to hire Huntsmen. In Serenity, the government comes up with a plot to keep the population of Miranda calm and peaceful by drugging them. Bartleby decides to keep the farm population calm and peaceful by trapping two Apathy Grimm on the farm. As with the film, the plan works far too well. The farm population becomes increasingly tired. As with the short story, where Bartleby's increasing apathy comes with the mantra "I would prefer not to", the farmworkers keep repeating "I'm tired". The short story, the film and the Apathy plotline all come together with the victims becoming so apathetic that they just lie down and wait for death to come, unable to even summon the will to eat.
  • Caroline Cordovin when it is revealed that she pilots a Humongous Mecha built into the mountain of the Argus Military Base to fight against aquatic Grimm that would try to attack the port city is a shout out to Kaiju movies and Pacific Rim. When the Leviathan attacks Argus, Caroline activates a drill on the left arm before slamming it into the Leviathan with a dramatic leap to deliver the killing blow, very similar to the Giga Drill Breaker.
  • In the after-credits scene of the Volume 6 finale, Salem is seen creating an army of mutant, winged Beringel, a clear reference to the Wicked Witch of the West and her winged monkeys.

    Other 
  • The White Fang are an organisation of militant Faunus who used to peacefully protest over faunus inequality. There's a constant theme in the show that humans and faunus need to find equality and learn how to live together, a situation made more difficult by the White Fang's recent descent into terrorism. White Fang is a novel by Jack London which focusses on a wild-born wolf-dog that slowly learns how to live with humans.
  • Monty Oum referenced Soul Eater when describing how he envisioned his characters; the arrow-like patterns of Glynda Goodwitch's ragged cape are a shout out to Medusa. There's also a mook in episode 8 that looks like an Arachnophobia member. Weiss starts using her glyphs to dash out of danger, similar to Medusa's Vector Plates.
  • There are several Slow Mo Guys references throughout the show. Whenever Jaune goes into slow motion, the sound the Slow Mo Guys use plays. The dumpster Penny dumps Ruby in has the initials for the Slow Mo Guys, Gus' RTAA face, and Captain Dynamic's symbol.
  • The show's page on the Rooster Teeth website has a group shot of Team RWBY, with Weiss and Yang wearing t-shirts based off of the classic Disney logo and the Jurassic Park logo, respectively.
  • The lyrics for "I May Fall" are inspired by Aragorn's speech in The Return of the King.
  • The lyrics for "Big Metal Shoe" are Reference Overdosed with children's stories and Nursery Rhymes.

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