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Shout Out / The Dresden Files

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The Dresden Files, what with having a cast full of Genre Savvy characters and a Pop-Cultured Badass First-Person Smartass narrator, is absolutely crammed full of nerdy Shout Outs. And honestly, these are just a few that stand out. Harry rattles one off at least every couple of chapters, if not every couple of paragraphs.

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"A Restoration of Faith":

  • Faith Astor scores a triple whammy, citing El Dorado, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and tobacco advertising in a single paragraph. Pretty good, especially for a nine-year-old girl (Ouch! My shin! Ten, I meant ten!) who was probably in kindergarten when the Marlboro Man billboards were banned in Illinois.
  • Warned by Nick that the police are searching for a pair of suspected kidnappers, Harry guesses that the suspects match the descriptions of Mickey and Donald.
  • Bitter, Faith dismisses Disney specials she's seen where parents automatically adore their kids as nonsense.
  • The Astors bought Faith a bunch of Barbie toys, then told her to leave them in their packages so they'd retain their collectible value.

"B Is For Bigfoot":

  • Harry muses that his imagination is like an Etch A Sketch.
  • Irwin is reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy when Harry first sees him, triggering a prompt flurry of Vogon jokes and other references from Dresden.
  • Expressing his dislike of fighting, Irwin says he doesn't even like to play Street Fighter.


"I Was A Teenage Bigfoot":

  • Meeting Irwin's infirmary caregiver, Harry quotes Yakko and Wacko Warner, and is delighted when she recognizes his "hello, nurse" reference.
    • And even more so, when she calls the campus's security guards "the flying monkeys".
    • After sending one of said "monkeys" flying with a Forzare-strike staged to look like a judo flip, Harry taunts the other guards while mouthing his lines like badly-dubbed Bruce Lee.
  • When their conversation accidentally parallels HMS Pinafore, River Shoulders gruffly states that he's not going to quote Gilbert and Sullivan.

"Something Borrowed":

  • The title itself is a reference to Old, New, Borrowed and Blue.
  • Harry sarcastically says "And maybe Elvis and JFK are shacked up in a retirement home somewhere"—a reference to Bubba Ho-tep, a Bruce Campbell film.
  • The short, blonde demon fighter, Karrin Murphy, says, "you have fruit punch mouth." In the season 1 finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the short, blonde demon fighter, Buffy Summers, says the exact same phrase, albeit under very different contexts.
    • Bob calls her "Buffy" in the same story.
  • "Great hostility I sense in you."
    • There are vintage Star Wars actions figures scattered around Billy's and Georgia's apartment.
  • Bob says "Ungawa, bwana", a line co-opted from Tarzan.
  • Most un-savvy people assume that knowing magic means Harry can make his dishes wash themselves, like in The Sorcerer's Apprentice.
  • Harry mentions wanting to chant "There's no place like home!" while in a slight panic.
  • Bob urges Harry to write to Penthouse.
  • Harry calls Jenny Greenteeth a "watery tart", an epithet nicked from Dennis the Constitutional Peasant in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

"It's My Birthday, Too":

  • In the short story with Thomas' birthday, when a Black Court vamp starts threatening them over the intercom, Harry quickly asks what she was like in life. One girl responds that she wasn't all that popular, and some of the kids picked on her.
    Harry: Crap. Code Carrie.
  • To make a pay phone call, Harry holds up a couple of quarters with slow, melodramatic flair, like street illusionist David Blaine.
  • Molly addresses Harry as "Miyagi-san".
  • Thomas is good-looking the way Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was talented.
  • The LARP game, called "Evernight" in the story, clearly uses a live-action version of the Vampire: The Masquerade rules.
  • Drulinda plays The Platters' "Only You" on the mall PA system.
  • Facing Black Court vampires, Harry's .44 is useless as a weapon, but it does boost his confidence like Linus's security blanket.
  • Keef the cobb has hair like Albert Einstein. When Harry promises him and his family pizza, they stare at him like he's offered a map to El Dorado.
  • The present Harry brought for Thomas was a set of Rock'em Sock'em Robots.
  • The finishing gambit Harry uses on Drulinda is lifted from Demon Knight.


"Day Off":


"The Warrior":

  • We learn that Father Forthill, Michael's handler in his war against evil, is technically an inquisitor. Of the Ordo Malleus, to be more specific.
  • Molly can make you as invisible as Paris Hilton's ethical standards.
  • Harry says he's not Ranger Rick or anything, although Ebenezar did teach him some tracking.
  • Talking to Kelly, Harry uses Great Expectations in an analogy. Kelly is floored that he's made Charles Dickens relevant to her life.
  • Several Biblical references, including "suffer the little children" and "no man knows the day or the hour".


  • Dresden name-drops Rick Morrissey, sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times.

"Last Call":

  • Word of God has it that Butcher tried to capture the feel of the Monster of the Week episodes of The X-Files with this story.
  • Murphy could potentially twist Harry's arm into some kind of M.C. Escher portrait.
  • Telling Molly he didn't have any idea what'd been done to Mac's beer would have been anti-Obi-Wan of Harry.
  • Three of Mac's customers were young women who'd watched too much Charmed.
  • Molly's hair is Kryptonite green in this one, and she wears a Superman T-shirt along with it.
  • Left Hand Goods caters to Chicagoland's Death Eater wannabes.
  • Several Greek Mythology references from the villain, which makes sense because she's a maenad.

"Bigfoot On Campus":

  • Scolding River Shoulders for not meeting Irwin face-to-face, Harry points out that the sasquatch could hire Superman to look out for his kid, but even he wouldn't be a better choice than the boy's actual father.
  • Facing off Barrowill brings on a whole litany of sarcastic TV father-figure references from Harry: Ozzie Nelson, John Walton, Ben Cartwright, Mr. Drummond, and Charles.
  • Harry compares meeting River Shoulders in the meager excuse for a "forest" available in an Oklahoma wildlife preserve to rendezvouzing with Jaws in a kiddie wading pool.
  • Barrowill makes a Cinderella reference about Connie.
  • River Shoulders' dramatic arrival at the dorm, and battle with Barrowill's ghouls, displays his strength so vividly that it has Harry making references to The Six Million Dollar Man and quoting the Character Catchphrase of Marvel's The Thing.
  • Enraged, Barrowill rushes Harry at a speed worthy of The Flash's understudy.
  • Told that she's a vampire, Connie asks if she's going to sparkle or something.

"Even Hand":

  • Marcone isn't into pop culture, but he does ponder what pithy phrases Hendricks might cite to critique his decisions:

"Love Hurts":

  • In "Love Hurts," Murphy's line about disliking coincidence is very similar to a common phrase used by Spenser. This is further established when Harry comments on Murphy's dislike of "reading Parker." (There's actually a very strong Parker influence on The Dresden Files in general; the often-used blurb of "Spenser crossed with Merlin" is very apt.)
  • "Remind me — how much do we pay you to give us advice, Sherlock?"
  • Harry's heart does the drum solo from "Wipeout".
  • The villain is sarcastically referred to a "Florence Nightingale with fangs".
  • Harry tells Murphy to "make like The Dukes of Hazzard" because his car door's stuck. She doesn't believe him, and opens it without a hitch.
  • Under the love spell's influence, Murphy starts snickering over marginally-risque words, a la Beavis And Butthead.
  • The gunman who aided the villain is nicknamed "Billy the Kid" by Harry.


  • Murphy's use of "Martian" is a reference to the book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.
  • Stallings has a mustache like that of Magnum, P.I..
  • Murphy's disguise includes boots like Herman Munster's.
  • The fear that makes you scream and run is what Murphy calls Scooby-Doo fear.
  • Will recognizes Murphy's instructions about how to prepare to escape the duct tape as the sort of thing Harry Houdini would've done.
  • Glimpsing a reflection of herself and Nothing, Murphy thinks of the images as "Biker Barbie and Bigfoot".
    • Seeing Nothing bend down to look in the SUV reminds her of a scene from Jurassic Park.
  • Beating up Ray, she muses that he could've looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan the Barbarian, and her wrist lock would still immobilize him.
  • Facing off with Marcone, Murphy can't help but feel like an extra in the cast of Oliver!.
  • Murphy took her nephews to the Daredevil movie, so she has some notion of how echolocation works.
  • Will jokes about them becoming the Justice League of Chicago, and Murph calls dibs on Batman.


"Day One":

  • Butters managed to bribe Patterson into helping him by giving him the code for a Blue Murloc Egg.

"Christmas Eve":


"Welcome to the Jungle":

  • The title of the prequel comic is pretty obviously a reference to the Guns N' Roses song.
    • Coupled with the early narration courtesy of Harry, the title makes another obvious reference to Upton Sinclair's novel, The Jungle, which was set in early 20th century Chicago. Harry even lampshades it by quoting from the book.
  • Harry talks smack to a tiger using Winnie the Pooh references.
  • When Murphy asks him if he's got a crowbar in his pocket, Harry (inevitably) paraphrases Mae West.
  • He quips that King Kong ain't got nothing on an enraged Moe.

"Ghoul Goblin":

  • The man who cautions Major Talbot about offending the hookah-smokers in 1917 Cairo is presumably Major T.E. Lawrence, whose life story inspired Lawrence of Arabia.
    • The Major's body, according to Bob, was found mummified at the British Museum. The illustration shows his mummy with its eyes wide open, implying he'd been mummified alive, much like Imhotep from both 1932 and 1999 versions of The Mummy.
  • The fish-man encounter provokes inevitable Creature from the Black Lagoon wisecracks.
  • Harry compares his car to the Millennium Falcon and Batmobile.
  • Soulgazing the dying Joseph Talbot nearly drags Harry down into death along with him, a danger that also crops up in other fiction (e.g. Brainstorm, Ghost Hunt).
  • The town of Boone Mill strikes Harry as something out of Norman Rockwell, while its jail is pure The Andy Griffith Show.
  • The powers which Mayor Ceder's jinn companion once served make the ghoul and goblin look like Tom and Jerry by comparison.

"War Cry":


  • When the RPG books discuss the White Council's weakness in dealing with dark magic, Harry has a note scribbled in the margin about possibly taking a page from "that other spellcasting Harry's book" and teaching a Defense Against the Nastybad Arts class.
  • One set of margin notes in the RPG rulebooks consists of nothing but a string of Holy Grail references.
  • One passage includes Inigo Montoya's famous quote from The Princess Bride. Nearby, Harry has written a margin note that says "STOP SAYING THAT!"
  • The RPG makes the same Young Frankenstein joke ("Werewolf?" "There wolf") as Fool Moon. In the index, between the entries Wereravens and Werewolves. Classic.
  • When Billy points out that Harry first saw the Black Dog (Welcome to the Jungle) that attacked him in the rear view mirror, and points out that it could use mirrors as a point of entry or as part of its manifestation, Harry remarks "Check out the big brain on Billy!"
  • A note by Harry on Stunts reads, "Juggler + Riposte = It's All In The Reflexes!"
  • The section describing the Sixth Law of Magic ("Never swim against the currents of time") has a note from Billy in the margin that says, "This is all very Doctor Who." Harry responds that he liked Tom Baker best.
  • The index includes an entry that says "Robot from the Future Needs Beer".
  • The index uses a code system to show which book and page contains the information: YS means "Your Story" (the player and GM handbook), and OW means "Our World" (the sourcebook). One entry uses this to good effect:
    Who is Number One?: UR#6
  • One of Nicodemus's aspects is "Been Around a Long Long Year".
  • Regarding Cassius's favorite spell:
  • Will responds to an example where a PC leaps out of the shadows to attack a mook with "Totally Batman."
  • There's a note written by Harry next to the Might skill which reads "Hulk Smash!" Between this, "the Tao of Peter Parker," and the Wolverine joke, he does like his Marvel, doesn't he?
  • Marvel Comics shows up again in a reference to TSR's Marvel Super Heroes RPG when Harry notes in the margins that "The Alphas aren't Amazing(50) — they're more like Remarkable(30)."
  • Harry jots "Don't cross the streams!" in response to Billy's suggestion that an alternate dice-rolling method is fine, provided everyone uses it.
  • Davian, the Alpha from Baltimore who helped Will create that city's game write-up, makes a "Brilliant deduction, Sherlock" crack ... for once, about Will rather than Harry.
  • Baltimore's description is chock full of Edgar Allan Poe references (e.g. The Dupin Society), and the example campaign that's set there is called "Nevermore".
  • Will makes a Law & Order reference when Harry questions the ethics of gamers' using real Ripped from the Headlines crime stories in their campaigns.
  • Using a murder victim as the "face" of a neighborhood is called "going the Twin Peaks route".
  • The "player" (Jim) who "creates" Harry Dresden as a sample PC names him Harry after the hero of Cast a Deadly Spell.

    Multiple Sources 

  • The Blue Beetle, Harry's VW, is a shout out to the comic book character. Or possibly the bumbling wannabe-superhero from The Electric Company (1971), as Harry doesn't correct Elaine when she suggests as much.
    • In-universe example: Thomas's boat is named the Water Beetle, a Shout-Out to Harry's beloved car. Its every appearance is likely to reference Jaws, as it looks like Quint's fishing boat.
  • Harry's own name could also count, since he's named after three stage magicians (Harry Houdini, Bellamie Blackstone, and David Copperfield), which he explicitly points out. And though Harry doesn't mention it, Word of God confirmed that it's also notable that his last name is Dresden. As in, "Firebombing of."
    • Although the RPG suggests that Dresden's first name is a reference to Cast a Deadly Spell. Harry himself, of course, promptly sets the record straight (in the margins) with the in-universe explanation.
  • Word of God has it that Billy and Georgia got their names because Butcher's wife watched Ally Mcbeal in the evenings while he was writing Fool Moon.
  • The prescient, Abby, named her Yorkie "Toto" in a deliberate The Wizard of Oz reference.
  • Chandler's nickname of "Steed" is a reference to The Avengers (1960s). His dress-sense may be a deliberate reference as well.
  • The Running Gag of everyone telling Harry his duster belongs on the set of El Dorado.
  • Hendricks's long-standing nickname of Cujo.
    • The pseudonym of "Ms. Demeter", another Marcone associate, has Classical Mythology implications that Harry himself points out.
  • Justine's name is a very clear reference to the Marquis de Sade's novel Justine, The Misfortunes of Virtue which follows the sex- rape-filled life of a virtuous but naive young girl.
  • One of the Alphas is named Kirby, likely in reference to Marvel Comics' Jack Kirby.
  • Flickum bicus is a brand name reference, which sort of counts.
  • The Doom of Damocles gets its name from a classical Greek legend.
  • Dracula (when referencing the Black Court vampires). In-universe, the book was actually commissioned by the White Court to make the weaknesses of Black Court vampires known. But woe betide the wannabe slayer who's only seen the movies or assumed all the usual vamp tropes come from Dracula.
    • This completely justifies in-universe use of the term "Renfields" to refer to mind-raped Black Court minions.
    • Thomas likes kukris, just like Jonathan Harker.
  • Speaking of sharp things, snickersnack is Harry's favorite verbal sound-effect when he's describing how stuff gets cut.
  • Angel- before opening his own P.I. business, Harry worked at "Ragged Angel Investigations".
  • Even the book covers feature one: the glowing runes on Harry's staff are actually the word "Matrix" written in Japanese katakana and mirror-flipped.
  • "My lips touched dog lips! Get me some mouthwash! Get me some iodine!"
  • Harry calls Molly "Grasshopper" a lot. "Padawan" is a close second.
  • In several books, Molly herself refers to her younger siblings as the Jawas and her Mom's minivan as the sandcrawler.
  • Spider-Man references abound, as Harry is an admitted fan in-continuity. Harry himself closely resembles a version of Peter Parker that was bitten by a radioactive wizard instead of a spider.
  • Do-gooders (usually Harry, but sometimes the Alphas or Knights of the Cross) are regularly said to be acting like The Lone Ranger.
  • Harry's chivalrous impulses usually bring out a Don Quixote quip in him.
  • Go Team Dresden!
  • Evil Dead 2: There are multiple uses of the exclamation, "Groovy," throughout the books.
  • Constantly faced with multiple crises that strike simultaneously, Harry often resigns himself to burning the next bridge when he comes to it.
  • Let's face it, there's a ridiculous amount of Star Wars references. Harry himself owns a vintage poster for A New Hope for most of the pre-Changes novels.
  • Many, many, many variants of Gandalf's "subtle and quick to anger" line crop up throughout the series.
    • Also lots of references to Black Council villains dressing like Ringwraiths.
      • And then, of course, there's the explicit reference which doubles as a Let's Get Dangerous! moment: "Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. Fuck subtle."
  • In-universe/Expy example: Many books have references to The Larry Fowler Show, or to Harry's (disastrous) appearances on that program.
  • A number of references out of The Bible appear as well, usually in the books' more serious moments.
    • That, or when Harry makes a "let he who hath never [stonewashed his jeans/worn parachute pants] cast the first stone" crack.
  • Descriptions of Ivy usually bring up comparisons to Bill Mumy's role in "It's a Good Life" on The Twilight Zone (1959).
  • Just as in City of Heroes, multiple evil plots can be traced back to Nemesis. (Credit here.)


  • Harry Potter- Dresden notes that he often gets calls from people who see his ad in the phone book and apparently just have to call just to ask if he's "really a wizard named Harry."
  • Nothing beats mocking a vampire by doing an impression of Count von Count.
    • Actually it was Nicodemus the first time, but still funny.
  • The fact that there's a White Council of staff-wielding Wizards, led by a Good Is Not Nice Old Master who usually wears white, leads one to wonder if a certain someone might have known about it-the previous Summer Knight was called Ronald Reuel, a "creator of fantasy worlds..."
  • Mouse and the Red Court vampires both have a suspicions resemblance to beings from the Lay of Leithein. Giant grey dog that is smarter than any dog should be with unspecified powers? Check. Vampires that resemble bats more than anything else? Check.