- In Episode 1, Kayaba compares the players' situation to TRON... which leaves everyone thoroughly confused, because they're too young to have seen it.
- The random player who keeps yelling "WHAT?!" is a dead ringer for Al's Catch-Phrase in ReBoot.
- Kayaba describes the NerveGears as "going Gallagher on your grey matter" if the players die in-game.
- Eventually Kayaba resorts to playing the Your Head Asplode scene from Scanners to get the point across.Kayaba: Yeah, I'm just gonna keep that tabbed.
- Subject Theta beating down a roommate he mistakes for a VR enemy ends with the Final Fantasy III victory fanfare.
- Episode 2 starts out with a dry, melancholic narration by none other than Rucks from Bastion, complete with acoustic guitar. He and Kirito don't get along.Rucks: 'Cause in a game of life and death... you either live... or you die.
Kirito: Oh, wow. What brilliant insight! It's so deep it loops right back around to being stupid.
Rucks: -the Kid ranted at no one, it slowly dawnin' just how alone he truly was.
Kirito: Wait, what was that?
- The narrator mentions that some players died to "sheer stupidity" during the first month, and wonders "I mean, really, why would you just stand in fire?" World of Warcraft features a number of boss fights in which inattentive or dumb players can die from not moving out of damaging hazards, enough so that "Stood in the Fire" became an in-game achievement.
- The players' "Cheetos and Mountain Dew break" is accompanied by a Batman-style Idiosyncratic Wipe.
- Kirito explains to Diabel how he can put up with all the moronic players: "lions do not concern themselves with the opinions of sheep."
- Likewise, his final line to Diabel — "In another life, in another time, I think we could've been friends" — is a quote from Star Trek The Original Series.
- Recurring character Fluffles, debuting in this episode, resembles Kaya/Amanojaku from Ghost Stories.
- The giant hallucinatory Jesus that Jeffrey/PoH sees takes the form of Buddy Christ.
- The beginning of Episode 3 features the main theme of Trine 2 in the background.
- Kirito's use of his tracking skill, which makes his eyes glow and highlights clues like footprints, is referred to as "Detective Mode."
- "And so, they say, Kirito's heart grew three sizes that day! Then immediately shrank six..."
- In Episode 4, Pina speaks to Silica in Dovah-Zul and calls her "Dovahkiin."
- Silica thinks a glowing Pina is evolving, but the music playing during the scene is from Lavender Town, Pokémon Red and Blue's memetically Creepy Cemetery.
- Starting in this episode, "Beneath a Hollow Moon" plays during scenes that would be touching if a character involved wasn't a sociopath.
- When Rosaria's mooks are looking uncertain about whether attacking Kirito is a good idea, we cut to their viewpoint. Kirito's face, with a single, wide eye and unnatural large smile, resembles a white version of the Terumi ghost◊.
- In Episode 5, Kirito misses out on a raid because he decided to power-level his Alchemy skill by eating random plants off the ground, which is how you identify the properties of reagents in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
- When Asuna describes the fight against "goddamned Sheeptar," Kirito asks if she isn't talking about "a fluffy xenomorph" instead.
- The BGM during the visit to Tiffany's store is the The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time house music.
- Asuna refers to Kirito as the "Crown Prince of Douchebags", a title the shape-shifting Netking Rubirules gives himelf when impersonating Zetto in the second season of TOME
- In Episode 6, one of Kirito's Berserk Buttons turns out to be telling him that he will "never be Batman." He does however pull a Stealth Hi/Bye on Asuna just like the Caped Crusader, and when he confronts Laughing Coffin he starts off with a gruff, gravely voice like Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Trilogy.
- Kirito cracks the case to Phoenix Wright music and sound effects.
- In Episode 7, Kirito asks Liz if one of her pieces is "a bad enough sword to rescue the president?"
- Kayaba included audio of Goofy's trademark scream to mock Kirito when he fails to escape a pit.
- SAO's blacksmithing mechanic turns out to be a combination of Guitar Hero, Space Invaders, and the galaxy-sized mecha battle from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, set to "Big Blast Sonic."
- Kirito spotted Liz's hiding spot after climbing up on a tower featuring a Synchronization Point and an eagle resting on it.
- In Episode 8, after discovering that eating Asuna's meal of Ragout Rabbit has made it so that nothing will ever compare again:Kirito: My god... we Flowers for Algernon'ed our taste buds?!
- In Episode 9, Heathcliff tries to defuse a tense meeting with "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!" No one gets it.
- The announcers for the duel between Kirito and Heathcliff are dead ringers for Wiz and Boomstick in ScrewAttack's Death Battle series, complete with an over-the-top, hyperbolic pre-match breakdown between the two combatants.
- And during the duel proper:Heathcliff: If you think you've got what it takes, then go ahead. Make. My. Day.
- Kirito still considers Kuradeel to be "Mordor's Most Wanted," and later calls him Kuato.
- In Episode 10, Kirito and Asuna's thought processes are depicted as arguments between their brains' hemispheres, with each side coming out of its own audio channel, similar to how Nail and Kami "talk" to Piccolo after fusing with him in Dragon Ball Z Abridged.
- Yui's Curb-Stomp Battle with The Grim Reaper is set to the Cleric Beast's theme.
- The reason Yui gives for inserting herself into Kirito and Asuna's relationship: "I wanted to know what love is. I wanted you to show me."
- As he's trying to save Yui, Kirito shouts that he's tired of Kayaba kicking his heart in the dick. Getting kicked in the dick is a Running Gag in the Dragon Ball Z Abridged movies.
- In Episode 11, Asuna considers Kirito her "sexy widdle baby."
- The debut of the Skull Reaper is met with one player screaming "Sweet Shade of Eranikus, what the fuck is that?!" The Shade of Eranikus is the end boss of World of Warcraft's Sunken Temple, which prior to the Cataclysm expansion's overhaul of level 1-60 content was That One Level.
- One of the players who fell victim to a Teleporter Accident is reduced to a floating pair of eyes and teeth, an unnervingly common glitch in Assassin's Creed: Unity and the subject of much ridicule.
- This time it's Kirito who compares the situation to TRON, which leads to The Reveal.
- When Kayaba is outed, one player lets out an "audible gasp!"
- A whole flurry of these come when Kirito explains how he figured out Kayaba's identity - he's the only one in the game who makes as many movie references as Kirito.Kayaba: Ah, yes, I should've known that - wait, you get my references?!
Kirito: Um, yeah? I just remember-
Kayaba: There can be only one!
Kirito: Oh, uh, Highlander!
Kayaba: Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?
Kirito: Duck Soup, Marx Brothers, 1933.
Kayaba: Dry land is not a myth, I have seeeeen it!
Kirito: Ah, getting tricky, are we? While that line is famously attributed to the 1995 film Waterworld, it is never actually spoken in the movie.
Kayaba: ...Goddamn. You're the real deal.
- A paralyzed Asuna says "Staaaaare..." while giving Kayaba a Death Glare, which is not only a common comedic trope in anime, but a reference to the official Sword Art Online outtakes in which Cherami Leigh will utter "Stare!" on a dramatic close-up of Asuna's face. Becomes extra amusing when the "Stare" line was left in for the show's Mother's Rosario arc.
- Kirito impersonates Eric Cartman when he taunts Kayaba.Kayaba: (unamused) Truly, you are the voice of a generation.
- More taunting and references:Kirito: What's wrong, McFly? Chicken?
Kayaba: Oh, Back to the Future, yes! That is definitely what I'm gonna watch after I kill you. Let's do this thing.
- During the climax of their duel, Kirito declares "I reject your reality and substitute my own!"
- Kayaba mentions mistaking the night janitor Reki for "the face of God," a reference to Sword Art Online creator Reki Kawahara, who more or less is god to Kayaba.
- Kayaba's last words with Kirito are to ask if he might "better know it as Ragewar: The Challenges of Excalibrate," an alternative title for The Dungeonmaster. Kirito still doesn't get the reference.
- When Kirito gives his Anguished Declaration of Love, Asuna's response is a simple "I know."
- Episode 12's one-sided kendo match between Suguha and Kirito is set to "Duel of the Fates."
- The King of Ashes survived SAO, is sending threats to Kirito over Twitter, and uses The Burger King as his profile picture.Kirito: Have it your way. :P
- The King of Ashes survived SAO, is sending threats to Kirito over Twitter, and uses The Burger King as his profile picture.
Shout Out / Sword Art Online Abridged