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Book -1: Start of Darkness
- There is a Professor Xavion who has a sorcerous team called the S-Men, who look familiar.
- In his youth, Xykon was competing with Keith Baker, creator of the Eberron campaign setting that beat Burlew's entry in a contest run by Wizards of the coast, for the position of some evil overlord's Dragon.
- And when Baker wins, he asks if anyone wants to join in a game of Gloom.
- The Oracle makes one on meeting Eugene.
- And, upon leaving the Oracle, Eugene, in a reference to The Bill Cosby Show, is followed by Mr. Belvedere.
- Right-Eye wants an old-fashioned team-up, Marvel style with Xykon.
- "Fear will keep the local nations in line. Fear of this Snarl."
- When the still human Xykon gets sick and disfigured by Lirian's anti-magic virus, he pulls the hood of his cloak over his head, which distinctively makes him look like Emperor Palpatine.
- The whole sequence of Xykon's transformation into a lich is a spoof of The Six Million Dollar Man.Redcloak: Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the magic.
- "Hey Luuucy! I'm home!" Said by Xykon when crashing into Lirian's abode.
- And from the same page:Xykon: "Next up on Extreme Makeover: This frumpy old sorcerer suffers from an expiring lifespan, a crippling viral infection, and unsightly crow's feet."
"But once our team of clerics and stylists are done with him, he'll be undead fabulous, girlfriend!"
- When Redcloak accidentally sets Lirian's glade on fire, he's attacked by one of her animal companions, Smokey Bear.Redcloak: Die, you public-service announcing bastard!
- One of the gates that Redcloak finds is a Stargate, guarded by SG-1.
- While stealing the Monster in the Darkness from the circus, Redcloak kills a pair of acrobats who turn out to be Robin's parents.Batman: Ooooo, tough break, old chum.
- During the same escape, they're also attacked by an arrow-firing Dumbo.
- Xykon banishes some angels with the Badass Boast, "Yeah, run back to your upper planes! Tell Roma Downey she's next!"
Book 0: On the Origin of PCs
- When Elan makes his Hammy Herald entrance to a Bad-Guy Bar, he starts with "Behold, wretched hive of scum and villainy!"
- Vaarsuvius's backstory in is an extended reference to Iron Chef.
- It also includes a single panel showing a young Vaarsuvius using magic to make a broom carry buckets of water, in a reference to "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment of Disney's Fantasia.
- A couple cameos amongst the adventurers Roy interviews in the inn:
- The prequel also has Haley's ID number on her mugshot as 24601.
Book D: Snips, Snails and Dragon Tales
- Strips that appear in Dragon Magazine were collected in this book.
- In an early issue the Dodge mechanics are being worked out among the group with each character has a different method: Haley uses the game show method.
- Later the Order defeats a adroit conjuror who reveals that he's Clyde the Conjuror, whose most precious secret is "Mystic Puffstm". When the Order leave him, unimpressed, he becomes frantic as the other members of his order (a Toucan, Rabbit and Tiger) will liquidate him now that he's told them this secret. Completely subverting Cereal-Induced Superpowers while it's at it, Clyde only has his natural magical talents.
- The final print issue has the Order go through a door labeled "Do not open except in case of parody or other fair use". Behind it are stick-figure versions of characters from various cancelled Dragon comic strips: Finieous Fingers; Wormy; Snarf and Telerie (SnarfQuest); Phil and Dixie; Yamara; and the Knights of the Dinner Table.
- Larry Gardener (see below) puts in another appearance, this time with friends.
- In a sequence in which the Order and their Fourth Edition counterparts take on other pastimes, the Vaarsuvii blast Superman with magic, the Durkons handle a certain sparkly vampire, the Haleys plot an attack on Mario, Belkar ambushes a player in a first-person shooter video game, and Roy attacks a cloaked wizard, scattering Magic: The Gathering cards everywhere.
- In the "Stick Tales" stories, as well as riffing on the source materials, there are the following references:
- In "Elan and the Beanstalk", Sean Bean appears as himself, but in a nod to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, he is immediately shot dead by Thog.Alt-Vaarsuvius: Hrmmph. I suppose I should have seen that coming.
- "Goldenleaf" is an extended Shout-Out to (and parody of) various elements in the James Bond films.
- "Greenhilt: Prince of Denmark" has Alt-Belkar attempting to bust the king's ghost.Alt-Belkar: Yeah, bustin' makes me feel good!
King: You're no Bill Murray.
- There's also a quick shout-out to A Christmas Carol.Greenhilt: Start talking about why you're haunting the castle, and it better not be because I've lost the true spirit of Christmas.
King: Well, you have.
Greenhilt: NOT THE POINT.
- When Prince Greenhilt asks the Player King (Elan) to stage "The Murder of Gonzago", he thinks it's the Muppets character. "Kermit and Fozzie must be so upset!"
- The Show Within a Show during "Greenhilt" devolves into a modern Soap Opera which even includes Optimus Prime as a character when Alt-Elan gets carried away.
- In "Elan and the Beanstalk", Sean Bean appears as himself, but in a nod to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, he is immediately shot dead by Thog.
Book 1: Dungeon Crawlin' Fools
- In "Like Enthrall, Only Boring", the goblins are speaking the Ewok language.
- Roy's sword apparently goes "snicker-snack" when he beheads something.
- "Arcanolypse Now"Vaarsuvius: I love the smell of bat guano in the morning. Smells like... victory.
Trigak: [while being covered with thorny vines] The horror... the horror!
- Messrs. Jones and Rodriguez were sent by the spooky wizard.Jones: Yeah, the spooky wizard who lives by the coast, if you get my drift.
- "Belkar Unleashed":Belkar: In your FACE, Elijah Woods!
- Zz'dtri the drow being from a race of nothing but Chaotic Good rebels and waving two scimitars as "standard issue" is of course a parody of Drizzt Do'Urden from The Dark Elf Trilogy.
- Belkar cribs the Pretender Diss given to Dan Quayle by Lloyd Bentsen.
- "Dust in the Wind":Belkar: Wow. Who knew all you had to do was break his sword and he'd go all Lou Ferrigno.
- "Hollywood, Eat Your Heart Out":
Book 2: No Cure for the Paladin Blues
- The first time we see Vaarsuvius leveling up, V pulls a very Mr. Burns-esque "Exxxxcellent." (yes, it's written like that), complete with the gesture.
- In the fifth panel of strip 127, Elan bursts out a stream of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness. The final one before V cuts him off is Jambi's catchphrase from Pee-wee's Playhouse.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus in "It's Not a Gaming Session Until Someone Quotes Monty Python".
- Strip #140 is titled "My Little Pony".
- "Horse Sense", when Elan says "What, how to ride a horse? Of course, of course!"
- "Pop Goes the Weasel":
- Knowing. It's half the battle. (G.I. Joe!)
- "The Light at the End of the Tunnel": "Is it much further, Papa Roach?"
- The "Headdress of Supreme Leadership" seems to be a bastard kid of Regalia of Might artifact and "Neon Orange Mohawk Wig of Death" from Bride of Portable Hole.
- Lizard-V quotes the Emperor in the final panel of strip 179.
- One by the "lantern" Archons and the Demon-Roaches to the Green Lantern Comics: "In Brightest Day, In Darkest Night, No Evil Shall Escape Our Sight." And then one of the Demon-Roaches says, "I dunno. I always kinda liked Kyle." A stealthy reference to one of the main characters, Kyle Rayner (who, during his time as the only GL, didn't say the oath).
- Two for the price of one in "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" (not counting the title):
- Roy gives us this gem:
- "No Offense, Aaron":"Kaboom" Redaxe: I knew I should've taken tha job at "Nodwick".
- When V, Haley and the gender-bent Roy break into the room in this strip, their silhouetted poses may look familiar.
- "Chekov's Law Realized":
- "No Flair for the Dramatic":Haley: My gods! They're so beautiful! How could I ever pick one bag over another?? It's like "Sophie's Choice" all over again!
- "Larry Gardener and the Angry Half-Orc"Larry: Stoppus Badguyus!
Thog: little man talk funny. [Thog slashes]
Nale: Sorry about the mess.
Warthog: Don't be, I've been wanting to do that for six books. Years, I mean six years.
- Nale's Super-Genius Plan is very Wile E. Coyote-esque. The title of the strip is "Meep Meep!"
- "The Boot":
- "Hey, wake up, Snow White! It's me, the 8th dwarf, 'Stabby'."
- Comics #290-#291:
Book 3: War and XPs
- The road signs in the last panel of "Bing Crosby's Got Nothing on Us" reference Road to Morocco and Road to Perdition.
- In strip #322, Belkar makes a reference to the Tootsie Pops Roll commercials.Belkar: HEY! Wise Mister Owlbear! How many licks does it takes to get to the chewy elven center of a Vaarsuvius Pop?
- "The Test of the Heart":Roy: You heard the Cryptkeeper knock-off, guys. Are you ready for this?
- Among the payment options the Oracle accepts for prophecies are "magic beans" and "your voice".
- The Cliffport Police Chief makes one to Airplane! in "C.P.P.D. Blues":Da Chief: Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing pixie dust.
- When discussing the haphazard implementation of technology in Cliffport, Durkon notes that "They could have magic trains."
- Hello. My name is Yokyok. You killed my father. Prepare to Die.Belkar: STOP SAYING THAT!
- A nod to Centipede in "Copper Piece Arcade".Julia: I'm out of quarters! I mean, "spells"!
- When Leaky Windstaff casts a firestorm spell, there's a Cutaway Gag to the Justice League of America, where Ronnie Raymond thinks someone's calling his name.
- In strip #370, Xykon addresses Miko as "Samurai Jill".
- "The Road to Heck":
- The Demon-Roaches underscore the reference with a light-saber duel in the last panel.
- In "Caged", to Monty Python and the Holy Grail with what the Demon-Roach shouts at being taken.Demon-Roach: Help! Help! I'm being oppressed!
- The paladins of Azure City (a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Japan) apparently summon their Celestial Mounts from inside Pokéballs. Complete with a "[Name of Celestial Mount], I choose you!" Lampshaded with unsound effects: "pika!" and "chu!"
- A rather blatant one to Final Fantasy VI when Elan and Thog are boarding an airship. Lampshaded by Thog:Thog: thog not get references.
- To Star Wars in "In a Class All His Own":Julio: Exactly, my young padawan.
Elan: What's a "padawan"?
Julio: You're better off not knowing.
- To Star Trek in "A Moment of Truth":Roy: I'm gonna suggest we try not to get too involved here.
Belkar: Oh yeah, total Prime Directive situation.
- Elan's speech before the battle of Azure city is saturated with shout-outs:Elan: Friends, Azurites, countrymen, lend me your ears. Not literally, because ewww. I mean, that would be disgusting.
And messy. And since you'd just be lending them, we'd have to figure out how to reattach them all, and that'd be a lot of work.
Today, we stand here on the wall, preparing to defend this city from the forces of evil. And probably chaos, too.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. And sisters. Definitely also sisters, they are part of the band too. I think they play drums.
A day may come when the courage of men (and women) fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.
And if the battle lasts through tomorrow, it's not that day either.
It may or may not be the day after that, I'm not sure. Still too early to tell.
But in case it's not that day, or it is that day but the battle is already over so it doesn't matter, I want you to remember this:
No one ever won a war by dying for their country. They won by making the other guy die for his country. Which still applies even though hobgoblins don't live in countries.
They live in caves, I think. So make them die for their caves. Which, admittedly, sounds a lot less heroic than dying for your country.
But today will be the day when Azure City declared in one voice, "We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight!"
And the fact that it rhymes does not make it any less true!
We'll stand here together and tell our enemies that they may take our lives...
But they will never take our freedom! note
- "War Makes Boys of Us All"
- "It Takes a Thief": Belkar calls V "It's Pat".
- #459: "They look like some kind of positive energy spirit, probably homebrewed or cribbed off of another campaign setting."
- "The Body Snatcher"
Book 4: Don't Split the Party
- The cast page has a diagram of the main characters and their relations with each other. Included on the page is Kevin Bacon.
- "Hey! You! Get Off of My Cloud!"Eugene: Ooooo, yes! And while your friends collect the seven magic spheres to wish you back to life, you can train with the secret martial arts master who lives here in the afterlife!
Roy: ... Really?
Eugene: No, not really, you moron! Does this look like Dragon Ball Z to you?!?
Roy: Could have fooled me, that last battle took long enough...
- If a shout-out to Egyptian Mythology counts...Roy: ...I don't suppose we could just weigh my heart against a feather instead?
Bureaucratic Deva: Oh no, we haven't done that for years. The scales are a bitch to calibrate.
- The baseline comparison for Belkar's evil is a "hypothetical offspring of Cruella de Ville and Sauron".
- Roy's favorite children book when he was a kid is "The Little Psion That Could".
- "Uh... strike me down, and I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine!"
- In strip #539, Fox News is referenced briefly as the horrible method Gnomes get information. At first it looks like Burlew is taking a shot at the news outlet... until the panel cuts away to a bunch of gnomes listening to an actual fox, red, white-tipped tail, yipping noises and everything. Let's face it, if you got all your news from a small furry animal, some things would slip through the cracks. Which turns it into a David the Gnome reference.
- "Shhh! Principal's Coming!": Another shout-out to Eberron:
- "His Most Despicable Act Yet":
- "Meanwhile, His Teammate Was in Rhodes"
- Therkla leads Elan's party into a copy of a Dharma Initiative station from Lost, complete with the iconic Dharma Initiative logo (with a smiley face in the middle) and a sign on the wall that says "Welcome to the Greg Initiative, Station 32: The Smiley Face." When they leave the station in the next strip, there's a bonus Take That!:Lien: Thank the Twelve Gods! I was beginning to think the people who built that tunnel had absolutely no idea where it was going!
- "No, see, she just has a ninja-themed motif to strike fear into the hearts of cowardly and superstitious criminals." Not just a parody of Batman, but of Jay Pinkerton's Batman Origins parody comic.
- In the same strip, the punchline has Cyclops of X-Men taking the place of the cyclops from The Odyssey as a Visual Pun. The title "Meanwhile His Teammate Was in Rhodes" refers to fellow X-Man Colossus.
- Therkla leads Elan's party into a copy of a Dharma Initiative station from Lost, complete with the iconic Dharma Initiative logo (with a smiley face in the middle) and a sign on the wall that says "Welcome to the Greg Initiative, Station 32: The Smiley Face." When they leave the station in the next strip, there's a bonus Take That!:
- "One for the FAQ"The Oracle: So yeah, I have as much chance of bringing back your leader as I do of scoring with Grendel's hot mom.
- In "The Resistance of Memory", the Oracle tells Roy's ghost, "Now, scurry home to your cloud, Casper."
- "Construction Workers":
- "Improbable Causes" features a scene from Law & Order: Special Encounters Unit. And yes, it's yet another cameo for John Munch.
- "Antipathy for the Devil": The Pit Fiend that Qarr summons went to high school with people who grew up to be "men of wealth and taste." The shout-out is doubled with the strip title, since The Rolling Stones song this references is "Sympathy for the Devil".
- When Roy's dad "gently" breaks the news about Roy's body being used for a bone golem, among the books he hands him is Promethean: The Created. Also included in the books are I, Robot and Frankenstein.
- "The Philosophy of Chaos":
- "An Opponent or Rival Whom a Person Cannot Overcome":Crystal: Aargh!! You little twit, I'm going to kill you!
Belkar: Yeah, and I'm going to drop a house on you and sing about how I represent the Lollipop Guild.
- "Wow, That's a Spicy Meatball!"
- "I'm sorry, I did the best I could with what's left."
- "I know, you could relay the knowledge of the secret gap in the dragon's underbelly scales that is the exact size and shape of a banana nut muffin!"
- "My Three Fiends": The IFCC's slogan is riffing off the Edwin Starr song, "War (what is it good for?)"Cedrik: Our slogan is, "Blood War, Huh, Who Is It Good For?"
Nero: Good gods, y'all!
- "The Wrong Reasons"
- "It Only Shows Reality Programming"Qarr: Yeah, and if you pull the other one, it plays Judas Priest. Come on.
- "If They Pull a Knife..."
- After Vaarsuvius vanquishes the black dragon mother.
- The strip's title is also a shout-out to The Untouchables: "He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue! That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get Capone."
- "It's Where the Cool Kids Swim"
- "No Respect for the Wicked"Xykon: Oh, you poor, dumb elf. Don't you get it? Be a vampire, or a ghost, or an immortal with a paint-by-numbers portrait in the rec room. Hell, even a brain-in-a-jar, in a pinch. Anything to avoid the Big Fire Below.
Book 5: Blood Runs in the Family
- "Come here, Beetle Bailey..."
- Plenty to Dune in "The Comics Must Flow".Belkar: [reading Dune] No, no, no! Don't lean in, he's got a poison tooth!
- Elan provides his own version of Stratovarius' "Hunting High and Low".
- One to Winston Churchill, with the Empires of Blood, Sweat and Tears.
- The first two strips where Tarquin reveals himself as Elan and Nale's father contains "Elan... I am your father!", as well as "I'm holding a thermal detonator!"Tarquin: ...That's a can of tomato soup.
Gannji: I know, I was just trying to keep the theme going.
- The Sunrise Bloody Sunrise Bed and Breakfast looks like a reference to the U2 song "Sunday Bloody Sunday".
- The previous Star Wars references become a Brick Joke in #735 when Tarquin double-crosses Gannji for extorting him in front of Elan.Gannji: That double-crossing son of a mongoose!
Kilkil: He also wanted me to add, "Pray I don't alter it any further." He said you'd know what it meant.
- Strip #736:
- In "It Does Beat Scissors", Belkar wants to dig a hole to freedom and cover it with a poster of Lidda.
- One to Kukla, Fran, and Ollie of all places. This being OotS, they lampshaded the fact that they are having an outdated shout-out.
- When Roy and Belkar are trapped in the gladiatorial arena, Belkar makes one to America's Funniest Home Videos:Belkar: Hey! Scheduling dudes! Look at me! Over here! How about nut-shots? Crowds love nut-shots! Saget was on the air for like 8 years.
- The Empire of Blood's Homecoming Parade includes parodies of Sesame Street and RENT. It also refers to the Oscar the Grouch's counterpart as Felix the Mensch in a shout-out to The Odd Couple.
- The street sign pointing to the Empire's jail contains a Monopoly shout-out (referencing "Go Directly to Jail, Do Not Collect $200").
- Roy mentions to the Gladiatorial Champion Thog that he has a pet peeve (villains forgetting their own crimes), then has to clarify that a peeve is not a kind of dog.
- A subtle one to Avatar: The Last Airbender in "Plotting Something".Tarquin: But the way these things go, you'll probably end up losing a hand or an eye of something.
Elan: Oh, right. Like, a big burn on the side of my face, at the very least.
- "I know that sometimes the hero has to play baccarat with the enemy, even though logically it would make more sense for them to just be trying to kill each other. What I don't know is how to play baccarat."
- Comic #802 is titled "Took a level in Sauceror".
- A bonus strip shows how Zz'dtri got freed from infringement prison:
- Comic #863 is titled "Looking for Regroup".
- Comic #869:
- In Comic #900, the Demon-Roaches seek shelter from a blast in a refrigerator, cribbing off the research of Dr. Jones.
- In Comic #906, Nale utters the phrase "Not a cloud in the sky" as a signal to Zz'dtri to turn on Malack. Just for reference: "Above all Spain the cloudless sky" was the phrase broadcast to signal the start of Francisco Franco's mutiny in 1936.
- In Comic #918, when the three IFCC heads are bidding farewell to V, the Orange one says "T.T.F.N.!"
- In comic #919, Vaarsuvius comes back from Hell and one of the first spells the wizard casts is a wall of fire encircling V's friends. The title of the strip is "I Went Down, Down, Down", a lyric from the Johnny Cash song "Ring of Fire".
- In comic #937, Julio Scoundrél is the Most Interesting Man in the Stickverse.
Book 6: Utterly Dwarfed
- Comic #952 has a sly one from Belkar.Roy: I don't see you helping.
Belkar: Oh, I couldn't hold a candle next to you. 'Cause it'd burn your rope.
- Comic #961 gives us Andi saying "reversed polarity" while holding a screwdriver.
- In comic #962, the High Priest of Hel ransacking Durkon's memories is justified using the same "logic" behind the celebrity nude photos hack.
- A bonus strip in Tinkertown has a gnome trying to swindle Roy into buying tickets for a Selena Gnomez concert.
- "Up in the Air": Haley punctuates using a fly spell with "Up, up, and away!"
- The title of comic #978, "Rage Against the Lightning of the Dead", is inspired by Dylan Thomas's poem Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night, which contains the verse "Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
- Of course, the whole concept of the flesh golem is inspired by Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, but Haley spells it out in strip #981:Haley: You just went all Frankenstein's Monster through their streets.
- The High Priest of Heimdall is a bearded black man, as is the Marvel Cinematic Universe's incarnation of the Asgardian Heimdall.
- "Nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure. Sunna, Goddess of the Sun, vote YES." (Warning: big spoilers)
- In "Little Empathy", Blackwing trying to contact V through their empathic link is done in the style of a Vulcan Mind-Meld.Blackwing: My mind to your mind... my thoughts to your thoughts...
- "Aw, Rats!":Blackwing: Ugh, this is all that wolf-crying boy's fault, whoever he is!
- In "Scroll Left", among the bogus incantations Blackwing use to cause a scroll to misfire is "Pottericus Mimickus!" In the next strip, after the explosion, he concludes by referencing Hagrid:Blackwing: I'm a wizard, Harry!
- "Mountain Passes" has Elan ask Haley if she wants to get up on the prow and do the "king of the world" thing.
- "Studying Up": "By the power of Greenhilt!"
- "Better Days" seems to have a visual reference to Superior Spider-Man #30, specifically the two-page splash where Peter declares he's taking back his life from Otto.
- "Afterdeath" has Durkon say he's been wanting to punch his own smug face in the face.
- "Lesson Planar" has each color pool leading to an Outer Plane, surrounded by a text summarizing the "powerful idea" that generated it.
- "That's Jack's Fault": Thor says he used to be a ginger until "that damn superhero comic book came out". The strip title is a reference to Jack Kirby, the artist that created Marvel's Thor. The title of the following strip, "The Highfather", continues the Kirby reference — "Highfather" being the leader of the New Gods that he created for DC.
- "They Stayed Friends Though": During a battle in his native town of Firmament, Durkon meets with a new family member, who's wearing a dark helmet and fighting with an energy sword. He introduce himself with "I'm your cousin's brother-in-law's niece's fiancé."
- "Indefinite Accomodations" introduces the Dwarfish Treeslayers, who look extremely punk and don't wear armor, clearly a reference to Warhammer's Trollslayers.
- "You Can't Miss It": Roy introduces the recently resurrected Durkon to Bandana with the words "He's a real boy now."
- In the A Monster for Every Season line of OotS branded miniature cutouts, several designs are references to other pieces of media.
- Spring V1:
- Spring V2:
- Tortle Ninja is Raphael.
- Tin Golem, Western Witch, and Flying Monkey are the Tin Man, the Wicked Witch of the West, and a Flying Monkey, respectively.
- Lagoon Creature is the Creature from the Black Lagoon
- Two of the vampires are Count Orlok and Count Dracula.