This page is to capture all the references in RWBY that are made to other works (including Mythology references).
Do not include fairytale references on this page. FairytaleMotifs.RWBY has its own page for collecting those references.
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Warning: Spoilers Off applies to this page.
- Yang Xiao Long's 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 JNPRTeam JNPR has an unusual motif: heroes of legend who at one point disguised themselves as the opposite gender, with each member of the team having the gender of the disguise.
- 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.
Ozpin's FactionOzpin's inner circle are primarily connected to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
- Ozpin has two primary motifs:
- He is based on 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 on 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 on 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 on 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 (Odin famously had only one eye). Ozpin later confirms that he gave the twins the power to shapeshift into birds so that they can gather intel on Salem's activities and the locations of new Maidens. In Volume 6, his alcoholism renders him barely functional; in Volume 7, he regains control of it but ends up making an emotional, irrational decision that has terrible consequences. Both incidents are a case where he loses the mind the original Scarecrow sought to gain.
- James Ironwood is based on the Tin Woodsman. He functions via cybernetic replacements after losing half his body, his surname is a translation of the Russian version of the Tin Man, Qrow debates whether he even has a heart, and he is both an army general and a leader of a kingdom, whose two council seats gives him inordinate power to circumvent the Atlesian Council to make unilateral decisions without their input. In common with the revisionist Wicked, Ironwood spends Volume 2 wooing the impatient Glynda Goodwitch. From Volume 7, he becomes increasingly authoritarian in his desire to protect Atlas, voluntarily sacrificing the heart the Tin Man sought to obtain.
- Leonardo Lionheart is based on 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.
- Theodore is based on Dorothy Gale. His flashy ensemble has several references to a Magical Accessory worn by Dorothy during her various adventures. Instead of Ruby Slippers, his weapon is a pair of Dust-infused Ruby Gloves that make a distinctive noise when clicked together. He wears a pair of flashy silver boots (the Silver Shoes of the novels) and a distinctive silver belt, a reference to the Nome King's magical belt. On Theo's office desk is a photograph of a girl in pigtails, a checked dress and with a little black dog. This is the classic description of Dorothy and her little dog Toto. 'Theodore' and 'Dorothy' also have the same Greek origin and meaning, just with the two elements reversed (dōron and theos) .
- 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.
- Tyrian is based on the Scorpion from the Aesop tale of The Scorpion and the Frog. He's a Scorpion Faunus who favours poisoning his victims with his stinger. Like the scorpion from the tale, he revels in his killer nature and takes every opportunity to strike out, even if it runs the risk of inconveniencing him in the process.
- Dr. Arthur Watts is inspired by Dr. John Watson of Sherlock Holmes. The creators describe him as being a version of Dr. Watson that became affiliated with Moriarty instead of Sherlock, using his genius to bring about chaos and destruction for his master's plans.
- 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.
- Neopolitan is based on Neapolitan ice-cream, and as such dresses primarily in pink, white and brown. She is also based after a gender bent cosplay of Roman Torchwick.
- 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.
- Emerald Sustrai's inspiration is Aladdin, both the original story from The Book of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights and especially the Disney version. She started life as a thief, is referred to as a street rat and has the Semblance of hallucinations—akin to how Aladdin made people see him as a prince. Her last name is also Basque for "thief."
- 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 (and the time limit for her Semblance)—much like how the crocodile is famous for swallowing a clock that heralds its arrival.
The Ace-OpsTrue to the group's Punny Name, this team is based on Aesop's Fables.
- Clover Ebi, the leader of the Ace-Ops, is based on the titular character from A Fisherman's Good Luck. Not only does he use a fishing rod as his weapon, but he also has luck-based items (a clover, a rabbit's foot, a horseshoe) and Semblance at his disposal. His last name also derives from Ebisu, the Japanese god of luck and fishermen. This makes him a full counterpart to Qrow, who has a bad luck Semblance, bad luck symbols (a cross), a personal name derived from a symbol of bad luck (crows) and a surname that is based on a divine figure who is associated with luck and corvids (the Welsh goddess of love, Brânwen).
- Both Vine Zeki and Elm Ederne allude to The Elm and the Vine, a tale about how the vine and the elm came to be symbols of unity and marriage. In the show, Elm and Vine work well together and use their Semblances in similar, but opposing ways — Vine's to extend in flexible ways, and Elm's to lock herself firmly in place so that she can maximise her strength.
- Harriet Bree's competitive nature, nickname of "Hare", and super-speedy Semblance make her an obvious reference to the hare from The Tortoise And The Hare. Tortuga, the Ace-Op that Marrow replaced, is the Tortoise to Harriet's Hare.
- Marrow Amin's inspiration comes from The Dog and Its Reflection. Along with being a dog Faunus, his Semblance allows him to freeze people in a given directionbut if he tries to halt another person/group, those he initially held will be released.
- Peter Port is based on 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.
- 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.
- Inspired by Pinocchio, Penny Polendina is an artificial girl who wishes to understand and socialise with real people, and who fights with blades controlled by marionette strings. Polendina is a yellow mushy food that was used to insult Geppetto's hair. Similarly to Pinocchio, she speaks of not being a "real girl", hiccups when she lies, and gets into trouble whenever she sneaks off for adventures. Her humanity is affirmed when she inherits the turquoise-themed Fria's Maiden powers, alluding to the Fairy With Turquoise Hair who made Pinocchio a real boy in the original novel.
- 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. Upon further research, he seems to draw parallels with The Frog and the Ox, considering his large stature, color motif, and leaping ability. Plus, much like the titular frog's impossible task, his efforts led mostly to failure as he had no chance of keeping up with the much faster and smaller Team NDGO.
- 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.
- Brawnz Ni, leader of Team BRNZ, references the Bronze Kneecap, right down to wearing actual bronze kneecaps. Fellow BRNZ member Roy Stallion references Roy Mustang.
- Team FNKI are based on Internet memes. Two members were introduced in Volume 3, the remaining two in Volume 7.
- Neon Katt is based on the Nyan Cat meme. She creates a rainbow trail behind her, is a cat Faunus (her cat trait is a tail), uses ice in reference to the cat's icing, and has a hyperactive personality. In Volume 7, her outfit is redesigned to something that bears strong similarities Jolyne Cujoh's from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean, a connection confirmed by her concept designer, Erin Winn.
- Flynt Coal's inspiration originates from Rooster Teeth itself. He is based on Flint Coal, a character birthed from Achievement Hunter's Minecraft LPs, a character that also lent its name to a character in yet another Rooster Teeth production.
- The two remaining members of Team FNKI are inspired by the Internet phenomenon "The Dress"; Kobalt represents the blue-and-black interpretation while Ivori is the white-and-gold.
- Shade Academy student Umber Gorgoneion is based on Medusa. Her hair is in dreadlocks (resembling snakes) and her Semblance is a Deadly Gaze that paralyzes her victims. She is forced to wear mirrored glasses to protect others, as her powers are always active.
- Raven Branwen is based on Huginn, one of a pair of magical birds that served Odin in Norse Mythology.
- 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.
- Maria Calavera is based on of the Grim Reaper. Her outfit brings to mind calaveras, decorative skulls used to celebrate Día de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead), which represents the Grim Reaper's skeletal appearance and death motif. Back when Maria was younger, she wielded two scythes, just as how the Grim Reaper wields a scythe itself, and her Red Baron title was known as the Grimm Reaper.
- Lil' Miss Malachite is based on the nursery rhyme "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.
- Caroline Cordovin is inspired by the nursery rhyme "The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe". Nora points out that her base looks like a "big, dumb boot".
- Pietro, the father of Penny, is inspired by Pinocchio's own creator-father, Geppetto.
- Robyn Hill and the Happy Huntresses are pretty much RWBY's version of Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
- Robyn alludes to Robin Hood herself. Her desire to gain a seat on the Atlesian Council for the sake of the people of Mantle references Robin Hood going up against the rich for the sake of Nottingham's poor. When her supporters are attacked at a rally on election night by what appears to be Ironwood's forces, she goes full vigilante, stealing the construction supplies being taken by the Atlesian military to return them to Mantle, which desperately needs them for protection against the Grimm.
- Joanna's name and imposing appearance reference Little John, Robin Hood's right-hand man. Her surname of Greenleaf is also the surname of an alias that Little John once used. Additionally, Joanna acts as the Happy Huntresses' acting leader once Robyn is arrested, reflecting her and John's status as second-in-command. While in jail, Robyn mentions a tale about the first time Joanna ever lost a fight. In the modern versions of the Robin Hood tales, Little John is defeated for the first time in his life by Robin, which is why he joins the Merry Men (in older versions, it's Robin who loses and invites John to join because he's so impressed by John's skill).
- Fiona Thyme is based on Friar Tuck.
- May Marigold is based on Maid Marian, and comes from a wealthy Atlesian family who allies herself with the poorer folk of Mantle. Her female colleagues are based on male characters, but she is a woman who is based on a female character; this is because she is a transgender woman.
- Fria is based on the Fairy With Turquoise Hair from Pinocchio (better known through Disney as the Blue Fairy). Introduced as the Winter Maiden, she has deep blue eyes, a pale blue Aura and wears a turquoise shawl. When she's introduced, she's seen on her deathbed, much like how the Blue Fairy first appeared claiming to be dead in the original novel. Before she dies, she transfers her Maiden powers to Penny, thereby affirming Penny's right to be viewed as a "real girl".
- The Grimm Monstra is a clear reference to Monstro the whale from Disney's adaptation of Pinocchio. Before Monstra's debut, Monstro was also referenced via a statue of a whale within Pietro's office.
- Jax and Gillian Asturias are based on the Nursery Rhyme Jack and Jill. Jax is the more dominant of the pair and has delusions of grandeur; he leads their organization, The Crown, into disaster, attempting to drag his sister down with him in the process. Their father also reveals that the sickly Jax fell into a sandpit as a child, suffering a head injury, just like Jack in the nursery rhyme.
- Ambrosius is based on the famous mythical wizard Merlin. Merlinus Ambrosius was a composite figure created from the Welsh and Brythonic myths of the prophetic, Exact Words-using Myrddin Wyllt (Merlin the Wild), and the semi-historical warrior Ambrosius Aurelianus. Ambrosius is a creative, tricky spirit who loopholes people's requests via Exact Words.
Examples connected to the four trailers that were shown prior to the advent of the show.
The Red TrailerThe first trailer, featuring Ruby Rose.
- 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 TrailerThe third trailer, featuring Blake Belladonna.
The Yellow TrailerThe fourth trailer, featuring Yang Xiao Long.
- Yang basically goes Super Saiyan-esque when she gets serious. "I Burn Remix", which plays when she powers up her strength, includes the lyrics "...and Super Saiyan now". 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 is 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.
- 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.
- Blake describes a book she is reading as the story of a man with two souls. Transcriptions of the scene confirm the story to be The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
- Yang puts on a pair of sunglasses just before she's thrown off the cliff, and continues to wear them while she's flying through the air. They are designed to be an homage to Top Gun.
- When Ruby is considering potential partners to team up with, the art style of her thought bubble uses the style of Rooster Teeth Animated Adventures.
- Just after launching Jaune and herself across a broken bridge, Nora declares "NORA SMASH!" during her next attack as per The Incredible Hulk.
- The gang fights a giant monster raven called a Nevermore, which is named after the Edgar Allan Poe poem "The Raven".
- Team RWBY defeated the Giant Nevermore by using an Up to Eleven version of the Ultimate Combining Weapon: Human Slingshot. To achieve it, Weiss' Semblance is utilized as both an Air Hike and a Vector Arrow.
- 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!' is coupled with them leaning to one side in the room-reorganizing sequence. This is a reference to Fuu, Mugen and Jin using the same phrase and lean in Samurai Champloo.
- During the Grimm 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.
- Having a box of wasps with a 'W' on the side is a shout out to a scene in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia where a similar thing happened.
- 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, this time to a long-standing joke about the Warthog's name (a jeep belonging to the Reds).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Blake's "Intruder" costume is based on one the outfits worn by Yuri of Girls' Generation in the music video for "The Boys".
- 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) that's used in Monty's old work, Dead Fantasy.
- 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. Kerry voices Neptune.
- The episode title "Dance, Dance Infiltration" is a play-on-words of DanceDanceRevolution, a favorite activity of Monty's.
- Daft Punk can be seen in the background, playing at the dance◊.
- 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.
- 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 tactic from Halo: Reach, something that was popularised by Achievement Hunter videos explaining the tactic. One character stands with their back to the enemy, acting as bait to lure in the enemy, who then gets ambushed by a second, hidden teammate. Blake can do this alone by using her clone Semblance as bait; Emerald is the only other RWBY character who can do this single-handedly by using illusions.
- 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. Scarlet is then subsequently incapacitated by taking two hits in the groin, which is a popular attack target on his voice actor Gavin Free.
- The video game Qrow and Ruby are playing is a reference to Mortal Kombat, with its palette swapped Ninja characters and Fatality-esque finishing moves.
- 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.
- Cinder's "Follow me, and you'll never go hungry again" is a reference to Scar's line.
- 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'.
- The barrel that Oscar is turning has the Compost King logo on it, which first appears in a board game the characters are playing in RWBY Chibi.
- When talking to Yang and Weiss, Raven refers to Ozpin's "Great and Terrible Secret", furthering his Wizard of Oz allusions.
- The Apathy Grimm are inspired by Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville. 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. As the Apathy make the farm population increasingly tired, they increasingly repeat the mantra "I'm tired". In the story, Bartleby's repeated mantra was "I would prefer not to". Bartleby ends up dying in prison because he no longer has the will to get to his feet to eat his food.
- The Apathy Grimm are also inspired by 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 population of Miranda end up dying because they just sit or lie down where they are and lack the will to ever get up again.
- The Apathy Grimm's horrible screams, specifically in conjunction with their slow, lurching movement and corpse-like appearances, are inspired by the ReDead enemies from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which leave Link paralyzed in fear with their screams.
- The designer of the Apathy's appearance took inspiration from the illustrations of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark to come up with their appearance.
- It is revealed that Caroline Cordovin 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. This is a shout out to Godzilla-themed 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, Salem is seen creating an army of mutant, winged Beringel, a clear reference to the Wicked Witch of the West and her winged monkeys.
- On the wall of Dr. Polendina's office, there is a chalkboard with "days since last nonsense" written on it, with the counter at zero.
- On Dr. Polendina's bookshelf, there is a statue of a sperm whale. This is a reference to Monstro the Whale in Disney's version of Pinocchio.
- Neon's outfit◊ is a reference to Jolyne Kujo from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 6: Stone Ocean, confirmed by the character designer
- Robyn's combat move against Tyrian to break his Aura? Fire an arrow at him at point-blank range and let him catch it effortlessly. And then the arrow explodes in his face. This move comes from The Avengers (2012), where Hawkeye pulled the same trick on Loki.
- After Ruby uses her semblance to carry Weiss, Blake, Nora and Penny through the Atlas base control room, she takes the V-pose used by Sailor Moon.
- 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 on the classic Disney logo and the Jurassic Park logo, respectively.
- The lyrics for "I May Fall" are inspired by Aragorn's speech in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
- The lyrics for "Big Metal Shoe" are Reference Overdosed with children's stories and Nursery Rhymes.