Note: This page contains spoilers for all episodes and other media that is referenced throughout the game.
Since Life is Strange revolves around Max Caulfield, a teenager at a senior school for arts and science, there are a lot of pop-cultural, artistic and scientific references throughout the game. Many of those references are quite elusive and old-school, and reflect inspirations for the development of the game, or are nods towards other artists.
The following is a list of all references arranged according to the episodes and locations they appear in; it also sets a special focus on character and location references and general influences for the story. See here for specific information on either Artistic References or Scientific References.
There are some media that heavily influenced and inspired Life is Strange, as evident by the parallels between the game's plot and setting and those works, and also the numerous additional particular references that are made throughout the game. The following points out those parallels and other references.
The Butterfly EffectEdit
- The protagonists of The Butterfly Effect trilogy all have the ability to visit and alter their past through devices like photographs (or diaries, films) and so create different timelines/realities like Max who can use photographs.
- The protogonist of the The Butterfly Effect, the first movie of the trilogy, Evan, suffers from headaches, uncounsciousness and nosebleeds caused by overusing his ability like Max (though the reason here differs from simply overusing; Evan's brain has to deal with additional memories from all the alternate timelines he creates, whereas Max's brain seems just to be overchallenged by rewinding too much or the attempt of rewinding too far).
- Just like Max, Evan moved away from his hometown when he was 13 leaving his childhoodfriend behind. They fell out of touch and when he meets her again years later, he has to realize how messed up her life has become since he disappeared from her life. When she, shortly after seeing each other for the first time after all these years, dies, Evan uses his power to prevent her death, and tries to change her past for the better.
- Evan changes a major event in his and his childhood friend's past and so creates a new timeline inadvertently resulting in someone ending up permanently in a wheelchair, exactly like in the alternate timeline Max creates at the end of episode three (though, here it is the protagonist himself that ends up in a wheelchair).
- Evan creates another timeline where his alter ego appears to be the opposite of his personality, member of a popular and elitist social group and friends with people he never would've befriended, which is another aspect of the alternate timeline created by Max in which she is a member of the popular Vortex Club and friends with Nathan and Victoria.
- Halfway through episode five, Max wakes up in a timeline where she's back in the Dark Room and cannot escape using her powers because Jefferson burned her diary and photos. Similarly, in the climax of the film, Evan wakes up in a timeline where he's in a mental institution and cannot escape because in this timeline his diaries (his medium for time travel) don't exist.
- At the end of the story Evan has to let go of the person he desperately tried to save throughout the whole story to create a morally acceptable timeline, which resembles the Sacrifice Chloe ending.
- Everytime Evan and Max change something in the past, there is a photomontage of old and new memories that replace each other in the new timeline.
- Both Life is Strange and Donnie Darko share the approach of Tangent Universes and the general idea of time travel.
- A common central theme of Donnie Darko is the idea of sacrificing one person to save a town (in the film it's the protagonist Donnie himself that is sacrificed).
- In episode two, a car license plate in the parking lot of the Two Whales reads DNNDRK (Donnie Darko).
- There is a drawing of Frank the Rabbit, the antagonist in Donnie Darko, on Max's notebook at the beginning of episode one. Frank Bowers' first name is also believed to be a reference to this character.
- In episode two, it is shown that Max has a copy of Donnie Darko in her room.
- Both in Life is Strange (episode two) and Donnie Darko there is a shooting bottles scene.
- Both in Life is Strange and Donnie Darko it turns out that a well-respected teacher has dark secrets for which he gets busted.
- The plot of Twin Peaks also takes place in the Pacific Northwest and is centered around the mysterious disappearance of Laura Palmer, a well liked teenage girl, which mirrors Rachel Amber, prior to the series start.
- Both Life is Strange and Twin Peaks work with the "quiet town with secrets" trope.
- The "Dark Room" where Rachel was taken, as well as the red curtains Max crosses when entering the Vortex Club party, are references to the Black Lodge from Twin Peaks.
- The implication that Jefferson is shifting his attention to Victoria, who wins the Everyday Heroes photo contest, is similar to how the Twin Peaks villain kidnapped the winner of the Miss Twin Peaks pageant, which is in any case a parallel to the Everyday Heroes Photo Contest.
- In the Dark Room, a letter to Sean Prescott addressing Nathan's mental heath is signed by a Dr. Jacoby which is the name of a psychiatrist in Twin Peaks.
- Mark Jefferson states that his orchestration of the Dark Room crimes stems from an obsession to capture the loss of innocence and youth. BOB and the other spirits of the Black Lodge in Twin Peaks feed on 'garmonbozia', a physical representation of pain and suffering, which they must torment people to create.
- In the bathroom in the Two Whales, 'fire walk with me' is written, an obvious reference to the movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, the prequel to the original series.
- The white horse in Twin Peaks which is featured in scenes with Laura Palmer is a mirror of the doe that appears in reference to Rachel Amber.
- Chloe's car license plate is TWNPKS (Twin Peaks).
- Laura Palmer and Rachel Amber share the same birthday, July 22nd.
- If Max tells David about Chloe's murder in episode five, he shoots and kills Jefferson. Twin Peaks has a similar situation with Leland Palmer smothering Jacques Renault, whom he thought responsible of his daughter's murder.
- In the nightmare sequence before the final decision, there are two very Black Lodge-esque moments: The presence of Doppelgangers of Max's friends and acquaintances which torture her psychologically, and a throwback to the academy hallway at the start of episode one where all the dialogue and hovertext is backwards.
- Samuel Taylor's character may be an analog to the character of the Log Lady in Twin Peaks. Similarly to the Log Lady, Samuel is seen as a strange, creepy or quirky character and has a seemingly supernatural connection to the town with an uncanny insight into its mysteries.
The Girl With The Dragon TattooEdit
- Both Life is Strange and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo revolve around the search for a woman who has been missing for long period of time.
- Both villains keep documentation of their victims in photos.
- Chloe's skull shirt from episode one closely resembles the skull motif on Lisbeth's shirt in the Swedish version of the movie.
- A poster in Chloe's and Dana's rooms looks identical to the one used in a promo for the American movie version.
- Both villains own a sleek, high-tech dungeon for torturing and photographing their victims, who are all young women (while "torturing" relative is for Mr. Jefferson since it was never shown that his interest goes beyond photographing the girls).
- Both Nathan Prescott and Martin Vanger acquired their psychopathic tendencies from their fathers and are compelled to imitate them. With reference to the movie, in the game, Mr. Jefferson becomes a surrogate father for Nathan and tries to teach him to funnel his anger into his sadistic artwork, but is inevitably unable to control him.
(To be continued soon)
- Max Caulfield's surname may be a reference to Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of the J. D. Salinger novel The Catcher in the Rye, a student at an exclusive boarding school like Max, and an icon for teenage rebellion and angst, as both have similar personality traits such as the urge to preserve innocence. A central aspect of The Catcher in the Rye is the dilemma of Holden's state in between adolescence and adulthood. There are several other references to that book throughout the game, such as the "the WINGER and the COW" poster in Max's room which has a very similar style to the cover of The Catcher in the Rye, or the red cap in the principal's secretary office which resembles the hat Holden wears; she also calls it "phoney" which is characteristical phrase Holden uses.
- Chloe Price's character might be based on Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The female protagonist has a very similar attitude and punk rock style like Chloe; she has the same badass attitude, short colored hair, tattoos and piercings, wears boots and skull motifs. A poster in Chloe's room looks identical to the one used in a promo for the American movie. Chloe's skull shirt from episode one closely resembles the skull motif on Lisbeth's shirt in the Swedish version. Though it's not directly linked to Chloe, Rachel's dragon tattoo is very similar to the dragon image on the Swedish version's film cover.
- Mark Jefferson's character is possibly based on Patrick Wilson's character Jeff Kohlver from the movie Hard Candy. In the movie, Jeff Kohlver is a pedophile who lures teenage girls back to his apartment under the pretense of doing modelling for him. He then uses that opportunity to take advantage of them. Later in the movie, Jeff admits to photographing another man as he raped and killed another girl. Both Mr. Jefferson and Jeff Kohlver are stylish, charismatic men in their early thirties with careers in photography. Their appearances are very similar - both have short brown hair, light beards, and are in good shape for their age. They both also wear thick-framed glasses and smart casual clothing such as suit jackets. Jeff Kohlver's plans are ultimately foiled by 14-year-old Hayley Stark (played by Ellen Paige), echoing Mr. Jefferson's downfall at the hands of Max.
- It is possible that the name "Victoria Chase" was chosen as a nod towards Joss Whedon, given that Victoria has the same name as and fills an equivalent role to character Cordelia Chase from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- According to Artistic Director Michel Koch, Warren's character is inspired by Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer who "has this kind of awkwardness in him and is always saying the wrong things, but he's a good guy".
- The combination of Kate Marsh 's middle and last name may be a reference to the character Beverly Marsh in Stephen King's IT.
- Kate's rabbit Alice may have been a reference to the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland that leads Alice to Wonderland.
- Zachary 's last name, "Riggins" is a reference to NBC primetime drama, Friday Night Lights. Mark Jefferson' s voice actor, Derek Phillips starred in the series as a character named Billy Riggins.
- Frank Bowers' last name may be a reference to Stephen King's IT where the leader of the bullies is named Henry Bowers. Frank's first name is believed to be a reference to "Frank The Rabbit" from Donnie Darko.
- David Madsen 's character design may be based on a composite sketch from the first season of the X-Files which very closely resembles David's face. It's pretty likely since Artistic Director Michel Koch is a big fan of this series and there are several other references throughout the game.
- Dana Ward's first name might be a reference to the main character Dana Scully from the TV series X-Files.
- Samuel Taylor's character may be an analog to the character of the Log Lady in Twin Peaks. Similarly to the Log Lady, Samual is seen as a strange, creepy, or quirky character, and has a seemly supernatural connection to the town with uncanny insight into its mysteries.
Arcadia Bay Edit
The developers conducted research on the setting by travelling to the Pacific Northwest for the purpose of conveying a nostalgic and autumnal feel to the game. The development team visited the region, took photographs, looked at local newspapers and used Google Street View to make sure the environment was accurately portrayed. There are a lot of locations Arcadia Bay is based off.
The name, Arcadia Bay, is heavily speculated to be named after the 90's play Arcadia, by Tom Stoppard. In the play, Stoppard examines the effects of time and how the decisions we make affect the people of the future, which is a common theme found in the game.
Two Whales Diner EditThe Two Whales Diner likely is based on the Blue Moon Diner, located in Beaverton, Oregon. The interior is incredibly similar, and there is a newspaper article in the airplane in episode five with the headline "Two Moon Diner?" which connects the names of the two diners with each other. Fun fact: The official website of the Blue Moon Diner says "Welcome fellow time travelers" in the upper-left corner and someone posed as Max Caulfield in the comments, stating, "Couldn't decide between the Bacon omelette and the Belgian waffle, they're both hella good." A reference to Max's decision in episode two.
- The beginning of "Chrysalis" mirrors, albeit marginally, the beginning of Remedy Entertainment's Xbox 360 launch title, Alan Wake. In their dreams, both Max Caulfield and Alan Wake believe the point of safety is a lighthouse seen in the distance and the player is meant to walk towards it.
- Max mentions in her diary that she borrowed the book The October Country by Ray Bradbury from Kate Marsh and that she owns a copy of Battle Royale.
- The doodles on Max's notebook in Jefferson's class include the phrase "winter is coming", which is a reference to the central motto of Game of Thrones.[note 1] There also seems to be a scribble of Frank The Rabbit from Donnie Darko. [note 2]
- At the beginning of the episode, Mr. Jefferson utters "Bueller", when no one volunteers to answer one of his questions, refering to the protagonist from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, a carefree teenager who pretends to be sick and skips school one beautiful spring day.
- Mr. Jefferson recites John Lennon's famous quote, "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans," when talking to Max in his classroom.
- When Ms. Grant refers to Blackwell "going back to 1984" when talking to Max about her anti-surveillance petition, she is referencing the George Orwell novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Written in 1949, Nineteen Eighty-Four focused on omnipresent government surveillance and thus represents a parallel to David Madsen's planned surveillance at Blackwell.
- The Eye of Providence, also knows as the All-seeing Eye of God, appears at several places around the school. It can be seen all over Blackwell Academy's campus, for example in the girls' bathroom, the Prescott Dormitory, at the entrance of the parking lot. It also appears in Chloe's room.
- When looking at the window in Jefferson's classroom after rewinding for the first time, Max says she feels like she's in Groundhog Day, a comedy movie about a man who is caught in a time loop and has to experience the same day again and again. Max also comments that her situation despite the resemblance to the film isn't funny refering to it being a comedy piece.
- Brooke's hoodie design from this episode is a reference to Star Wars, representing three light sabers, as officially confirmed by Dontnod on Twitter.
- Brooke's drone seems to be a HiFly drone, model B400 EVO. It has a similar shape and the same paintjob as the gunship character Trace flies in DONTNOD's first game Remember Me.
- The t-shirt Justin wears in this episode is a reference to the 1975 shark attack thriller Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg. It says "RAWS" and has a similar style to the film cover.
- Chloe's skull shirt from episode one closely resembles the skull motif on Lisbeth's shirt in the Swedish version of the movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which is also the logo of the punk band The Exploited.
- On the dormitory grounds, there is a scratch on a tree that reads "Make art, not war". This is a reference to the famous anti-war slogan.
- The message "REDⱭЯUM" on Stella's room slate and her room number being 217 are references to The Shining, a novel by Stephen King; hence Max's comment about never going in there.
- There is a reference to the 'pokerface' meme on Max's room slate.
- Victoria's room slate says, "Be the change you wish to see - Gandhi".
- On the dorm hall's walls, Brooke has posted an advertisement for her Geek Grrls Book Club for which she intends to read and discuss fantasy and science fiction authors like K. LeGuin, Robin Hobb, Neil Gaiman, Piers Anthony, Terry Brooks, David Calvo, Marion Zimmer Bradley.
- The poster in Max's room for "the WINGER and the COW" has a very similar style and design to the cover of The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger.
- Looking at her wardrobe Max mentions John Huges' movie Pretty in Pink.
- In Victoria's dorm room, Max sees her TV and says she'd like to sneak in and watch Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. The film was rendered by Square Pictures, a consolidated subsidiary of Square Enix, the publisher of Life is Strange.
- A receipt showing the clerk's name as "Amelia Pond" can be found in Victoria's room. This is a reference to one of the Doctor's companions in the British time travel series Doctor Who.
- When Max rearranges Victoria's photos, she mentions Tetris.
- When Max takes Warren's flash drive from Dana's room, Max says, "Must protect my precious, so Max never has to chase it down again." It is a reference to how Gollum speaks in The Lord of the Rings.
- Warren's flash drive has pirated films and television shows including Doctor Who, The X-Files, Full Metal Alchemist, Akira, The Twilight Zone, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Tetsuo, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Cannibal Holocaust, Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens, and NEKRomantik.
- Warren's science homework folder is called "Weird Science - Homework", a reference to the film Weird Science.
- In the Prescott Dormitory, on a board it says there will be a viewing of The Nightmare Before Christmas on October 16th.
- On Dana's laptop, Trevor mentioned playing Super Mario.
- On a poster by Michelle Grant about surveillance, it says "Don't Let Big Brother Watch You". Big Brother is a character or symbol in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, which is about a dystopian surveillance society.
- In the Parking Lot of Blackwell Academy, there are references to several television series on the license plates:
- Chloe's licence plate "TWN PKS" is a reference to the 1990 drama Twin Peaks, an American television serial drama, which also takes place in Pacific Northwest and is centered around the mysterious disappearance of a well liked teenage girl prior to the series start. There are also two hills in San Francisco (the city where Chloe's parents took a photo together when Joyce was expecting Chloe) with the same name. It is a very prominent tourist attraction.
- Also in the parking lot Max spots Frank's sleeping dog and calls it "Cujo". Cujo is a rabid canine and central character in the same-titled novel written by Stephen King.
- There's a reference to the LOL Guy meme in Chloe's truck.
- When looking at Warren's new car on the parking lot, Max calls it his "Wayback Machine", a reference to the time machine from the 1960/70s American animated television series The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, which was used to visit and alter famous events in human history.
- Warren suggests Max could've started a Kickstarter fund with a photograph of Victoria covered in paint if the player chooses to comfort Victoria instead of making fun of her.
- The graffiti on Chloe’s wall that says “everybody lies no exceptions” is a line from the old animated MTV series Daria, which is focused on Daria Morgendorffer, a smart, acerbic, and somewhat misanthropic teenage girl who observes the world around her. Chloe is even drawn in a cool little Daria style next to it.
- One of Rachel's postcards to Chloe, Max can find in her room has “Only stupid people have good relationships“ written on it; a reference to the film and graphic novel Ghost World, which is about two cynical best friends and misfits, Enid and Rebecca, who after graduating high school slowly start to drift apart. There's also a small Enid drawn on the card next to the speech bubble.
- A poster in Chloe's room looks identical to the one used in a promo for the American movie version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
- Another poster in Chloe's room is very clearly a blotchy version of the poster for John Carpenter's 1982 film The Thing.
- When Max studies a poster of Arcadia Bay in Chloe's house, she quotes American novelist Thomas Wolfe's book You Can't Go Home Again.
- The cover image on Chloe's blue hair colour Max can find in her bathroom is identical to an image of a German Youtuber and Blogger called Ira Vampira who is famous for often colouring her hair.
- In the garage of the Madsen Household, the license plate is "TRDTCTV", a reference to True Detective.
- At her house, Chloe compares herself to Lara Croft, the protagonist of the Tomb Raider series. Square Enix published the 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider.
- When sitting on the swing in Chloe's garden and contemplating, Max likens herself to a "real" Lara Croft.
- When Chloe shows Max David's gun she says, "I'm Price... Chloe Price." This is a reference to how James Bond has referred to himself in the James Bond series.
- The license plate of the car in David's Garage can be seen.
- There is graffiti on a shack near the lighthouse of a symbol that represents the characters in a French novel by Alain Damasio, a co-founder of Dontnod Entertainment, named La Horde du Contrevent. Wind is a recurring theme in the novel, and upon looking at the graffiti, Max says, "Weird, those glyphs remind me of... the wind."
- Near the lighthouse, Max can approach a boulder with the message "Trust No One" spray painted on its face. It's a slogan from The X-Files.
- While studying quantum physics and time travel, Max makes several references to well known time travel theories including Schrödinger's Cat, Stephen Hawking's Tourism in Time and the Quantum Entanglement.
- On Max's request, Warren listed some time travel films in an email including The Time Machine (1960), Primer, Time After Time, Pulp Fiction, Somewhere in Time, Time Slip/G.I. Samurai, Timecop.
- On Max's table is a book called "The Moron’s Guide to Time Travel” by Nick Meyer. “Nick Meyer” is a reference to Nicholas Meyer, the director of the 1979 film Time After Time.
- Warren's email account icon is a picture of the TARDIS, the time machine in the British time travel series Doctor Who. He also refers to himself as "The Doctor", the protagonist of the series, in his email and text messages.
- Warren mentions Back to the Future in his email to Max. After her request regarding information on relativity, wormwholes and time travel, he texts Max if he's now Doctor Who or Doc Brown and that "he'll be in the TARDIS getting his DeLorean ready", again referring to Doctor Who and Back to the Future.
- In her Halloween party invitation email, Dana refers to herself as "Dana of the Dead", in reference to the zombie horror movie Dawn of the Dead.
- When Max waters Lisa the Plant, she says, “Drink up… it’s got electrolytes”. The quote is a reference to the film Idiocracy.
- There's a pack of Mystic Enchantment cards in Max's drawer; a reference to the popular trading card game Magic.
- When looking at her guitar, Max says, "Meanwhile, my guitar gently sleeps", which is a reference to the Beatles song While My Guitar Gently Weeps.
- After warning Alyssa about the toilet paper in the hall of the girls’ dormitory, she asks Max what her favorite science-fiction film is. The player has the choice of choosing between Back to the Future, Looper and Groundhog Day when answering Alyssa.
- Kate's book, The October Country by Ray Bradbury, is comprised of short stories that often deal with macabre themes, celebrity pressures and end in death, paralleling Kate Marsh's situation with the viral video and her suicide.
- Max suggests that Kate is in her H.R. Giger period upon seeing Kate's recent dark-themed drawings.
- If the player chose to make fun of Victoria, Max's room will be trashed and vandalized. On the ground, nearest to her radio, is a ruined copy of Donnie Darko.
- When attempting to get the second photograph achievement, "Full Exposure", Max likens the squirrel she lures out of into the open with a doughnut to the Krakken. The Krakken is a mythological creature of Scandinavian origin, recently popularized by the 2006 and 2010 films Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and the remake of the Clash of the Titans. By shouting "Release the Krakken" she makes reference to the popular meme.
- Warren's t-shirt in this episode contains a cartoon drawing of a box and a "meow!" bubble speech imposed above it, a reference to the Schrodinger's cat theory. He later texts Max and declares "he's no Schrodinger's kitty".
- Warren mentions that the drive-in at Newport is showing a Planet of the Apes film marathon.
- When Max declines Warren's invitation to the drive-in, he makes a joke about her being a "damn dirty human", in reference to the quote "damn dirty ape" from Planet of the Apes.
Two Whales DinerEdit
- In the parking lots of the Two Whales Diner, there are references to several television series and films on the license plates:
- The name of the Fisherman’s boat, "Bali Hai", is a reference to the Rodgers and Hammerstein song “Bali Ha'i”, featured in the 1949 musical South Pacific based on the 1947 novel Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener.
- When speaking with the Fisherman outside the diner, the name on the table plate reads "R.J. MacReady". R.J. MacReady is the name of the protagonist of John Carpenter's 1982 horror film, The Thing, portrayed by Kurt Russell.
- The fisherman sitting immediately to the right of the diner door is the spitting image of Detective Holder from The Killing.
- There is a store called "ACFC Drive-Thru" on the same street as the Two Whales Diner. This is a reference to "KFC Drive-Thru".
- On the inside wall of a bathroom stall in the Two Whales Diner, "I aim to misbehave" is written. The phrase is a reference to the 2005 film Serenity, a sequel to the cancelled 2002 FOX series Firefly; both were written and directed by Joss Whedon.
- Another graffitti written on the bathroom walls is "KATE MARSH LOVE U LONG TIME"; the phrase "love you long time" is refers to the film Full Metal Jacket.
- On the mirror of the bathroom, the phrase "Fire Walk With Me" is written on the mirror. The phrase is a passage of poem recited by spirit BOB and the title of the film Fire Walk With Me, a prequel to the events of Twin Peaks.
- There is a photo of Joyce with Ken Kesey over the jukebox. It is worth noting that Ken spent the majority of his life in Oregon.
- There is a flyer advertising "Moby Deck Tours", which is a wordplay on the title Moby Dick.
- In the Two Whales Diner, Joyce calls Max "Nancy Drew", referencing to a 18-year-old girl who spends her time solving mysteries, the protagonist of a mystery fiction series created by publisher Edward Stratemeyer.
- Max mentions that the jukebox in the diner is playing “I Got You Babe”. She finds it ironic, given the similarities between her own story and the film Groundhog Day that featured that song prominently. The song, performed by Etta James, was also featured in the 2014 Valentine’s Day DLC for The Last of Us, The Last of Us: Left Behind.
- When Chloe and Max meet up in the diner, Max refers to Chloe and her secret hideout as "Girl Wonder" and "Chloe's Cave", as a reference to Batman and his sidekick Robin also called "The Boy Wonder".
- During their conversation, Chloe may say "Didn't you and Sgt. Pepper already read me the Riot Act last night?", which is a reference to the eighth studio album by The Beatles, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".
- Chloe remarks that she's "Hungry like the Wolf" during the diner scene with Max. "Hungry Like the Wolf" is an official single performed by British new wave band Duran Duran.
- Joyce refers to Davy Jones' Locker when talking to the costumers.
- Chloe’s “cute robot panda keychain” is an oblique reference to Jax the Panda, a character in DONTNOD Entertainment’s first game, Remember Me.
- Max can comment on the disused look of an old bus emblazoned with "142," and it's one of the optional photos. Christopher McCandless from the film Into the Wild lived and died in Fairbanks City Transit System Bus 142.
- The large boat in the junkyard is named "Sleep Perchance I Dream", a reference to Shakespeare's Hamlet.
- When Max talks to Chloe about her stealing David's gun and their rebellion, she refers to her as "Che", which is a reference to Che Guevara, an Argentine Marxist revolutionary who was the major figure of the Cuban Revolution and whose stylized visage has become a ubiquitous countercultural symbol of rebellion and global insignia in pop culture.
- Max also refers to Chloe as "Tex" complementing her shooting which might be a reference to Texas Ranger Division.
- In her journal, Max references the infamous exploding head scene from Scanners in regards to the headache caused by overusing her powers.
- When Frank encounters Chloe and Max on the junkyard, he refers to them as "Thelma and Louise", "Abbott and Costello" and "Bonnie and Clyde".
- Chloe and Max reenact the railroad scene from the coming off age film Stand by Me. Writer Jean-Luc confirmed the reference on Facebook adding that it's one of his favorite films.
- Max mentions American novelist and poet Jack Kerouac when explaining the attraction of train tracks to Chloe.
- When the player grabs the pliers to cut the wires in the fuse box near the train tracks, Max declares she can "pull a Macgyver". MacGyver was 1985-1992 series centered around the titular character, Angus MacGyver, who could use everyday appliances and duct tape in unorthodox ways to escape perilous situations.
- The picture of a cat with a bow-tie and glasses sitting in front of a science lab board in on of Warren's text messages to Max is a reference to the popular Chemistry Cat meme, which features scientific puns usually based on the names of chemical elements from the periodic table or various laws of science and physics.
- At Blackwell Academy, Max is given two nicknames. Evan refers to Max as "Maxwell Smart" before telling they'll speak later. Maxwell Smart was a character in the 1965-1970s sitcom Get Smart that ran on NBC and later CBS. Warren calls Max "Maxwell Silver Hammer" in the science class. "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is the name of a single performed by The Beatles.
- Inspecting the beakers on the counter in the science lab, Max says, "Bring me the brain, Igor!" Igor is a "stock character" for horror films of the 1930s, inspired by the assistant from the first Frankenstein film.
- In the two instances Warren's science experiment fails the with use of potassium or sodium, Warren makes two references. If the player chooses potassium, Warren will call the failure "Weird Science". Weird Science is a 1985 teen comedy written and directed by John Hughes. If the player chooses sodium, Warren will remark "She Blinded Me With Science". "She Blinded Me With Science" is a 1982 single performed by Thomas Dolby.
- When Warren's experiment succeeds, he call Max "the next Werner Heisenberg". He'll also say, "Check out the big brain on Max!", which is a reference to the 1994 crime drama Pulp Fiction.
- Jefferson says, in reference to Kate, "maybe she doth protest too much," a reference to "the lady who doth protest too much, methinks" from the play "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare.
- Jefferson's license plate can be seen in the end cutscene.
Prescott Dormitory Edit
- When turning on her flashlight, Max says "Let there be...", which is a reference to the creation story in the first book of the Bible.
- Max's Facebook header, "Time is Bunk", is a quote from Douglas Adams's novel, The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
- If Kate Marsh died, Max uses a quote from Jack Kerouac's, The Dharma Bums: "Are we fallen angels who didn't want to believe that nothing is nothing..." If Kate Marsh survived, Max uses the first stanza of William Blake's The Tyger from Songs of Innocence and Experience: "Tyger Tyger, burning bright / In the forests of the night; / What immortal hand or eye, / Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"
- If Kate Marsh died, Victoria will leave the quote, "Requiescat in pace" as a message on Kate's Facebook profile. "Requiesact in pace", literally meaning "May he or she rest in peace", is a phrase popularized by Ezio Auditore da Firenze of Ubisoft Montreal's Assassin's Creed series, specifically in Assassin's Creed II, Brotherhood and Revelations.
- If David Madsen was suspended, a Facebook page calling for David to be fired features a Doge meme dressed in a security uniform.
- Warren's quote on the "Fire David Madsen" page, "DAVID MADSEN: MALL COP", is a reference to the film Paul Blart: Mall Cop.
- In the Arcadia Bay cleans receipt in Victoria's rooms, the name of the employee who serviced Victoria is named "Amelia Pond", a reference to the the Doctor's companion from the fifth, sixth and seventh seasons of Dr. Who.
- When referring to little known facts about Victoria, Max begins her sentences with "Victoria's secret?" Victoria's Secret is major American retail store that was established in 1977 by Roy Raymond.
Blackwell at Night Edit
- When talking to Chloe about Chaos Theory, Max says "I don't see any control over this chaos", another reference to the film Get Smart.
- During Chloe's attempt to break into Principal Wells's office, she refers to Max as "Lupin". The character Arsène Lupin III of the anime Lupin III is famous and notorious thief created by noted manga artist Kazuhiko Katō.
- During her phone call with Warren, Max advises him to "Bubble Hearth", a World of Warcraft term that refers to the combination of Divine Shield and Hearthstone which allowed Paladins to transport to escape PVP or general combat. Max also texts him back with "kek" in episode one, meaning "Lol" in Orcish.
- The James Bond references return when Warren calls Max "007" in his instructions on how to make the pipe bomb.
- In the Principal's secretary office, Max spots a red cap which she comments with, "Only a total phony would wear a crappy hat like that." This is another reference to Haulden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye, who wears the same kind of hat and calls others "phoney".
- In the science lab, Max uses a variation of Leonard McCoy's "I'm a doctor, not a..." catchphrase in Star Trek when searching for weed killer.
- When Max buys a drink at the vending machine at school, she says, "Release the kra-can!", in reference to the "Release The Kraken!" meme.
- In Principal Wells's office, when taking the fifth optional photograph for this episode, Max and Chloe quote Tony Montana of Scarface: "Say hello to my little friend!" - "Say goodnight to the bad guy!"
- If the player decides to take the money from the handicapped fund in Principal Wells's office, Max mentions making a trip to the Powell's Books located in Portland, Oregon.
- After finding selfies of Victoria in her dressing room locker, Max says, "So Victoria's secret is... selfies", a joke again referencing to America's largest lingerie retailer, Victoria's Secret.
- One of the locker room graffiti tags reads "Rachel Abides", which might be a reference to 1998 film The Big Lebowski.
- In the boys bathroom the message "Dana needs a baby daddy" features a Me Gusta meme face.
- In the boys locker room a jacket can be found, which closely resembles the one the protagonist of the 2012 video game Hotline Miami wears.
- When Max dive-bombs into the swimming pool, she yells "Cowabunga!", a reference to the cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
- In the Blackwell Pool, Chloe and Max make several references to the 1975 shark attack thriller Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg.
- If Max examines a toy shark on the side of the pool, she'll state "Just when I thought it was safe to go back in the water...", a reference to Jaws 2.
- When both Max and Chloe are in the pool, Chloe will tease Max by humming the shark's leitmotif. Max gets upset, claiming to still be terrified by the movie.
Chloe's House Edit
- In the Arcadia Bay Police Department's website for missing persons on Chloe's computer, there are two major novel references. One of the persons listed missing in Arcadia Bay is a man named Elton Kesey. Ken Kesey is an American novelist best known for his 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Another, Winston Smith, was listed missing since "6/08/1984". George Orwell's novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, was published June 8, 1949.
- According to David's file on her, Max uses the online aliases Mad Max, Max Factor, and Noir Angel.
Two Whales Diner Edit
- If you look at the News Interview on the TV at the Two Whales Diner, the doctor's name is "Doctor Hedorah", a possible reference to the Smog Monster from the 11th Godzilla series movie, Godzilla vs Hedorah.
- The cool-looking 18 wheeler truck in front of the diner is called a Needham 1977. This is a reference to Smokey and the Bandit, a 1977 film that was directed by Hal Needham, an actor, writer, director, and stunt man. The film itself featured quite a bit of trucker/CB culture.
- After Max steals the RV keys from Frank and meets up with Chloe, she calls her "The Amazing SpiderMax". A reference to one of the comic book and film titles of Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man.
- Chloe and Max call the bone they use to distract Frank's dog a "Scooby Snack", which is a reference to the dog fro the Scooby Doo franchise.
- In the parking lot of the diner are again references to TV series on the license plates:
Alternate Reality Edit
- During a conversation with Alternate Chloe, Max mentions the two of them watched Power Rangers as children.
- Joyce's aunt, Aunt Dorothy, is believed to be a reference to L. Frank Baum's Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz.
- In a letter addressed to William and Joyce by Ray Wells, Wells suggests taking Chloe to "Miskatonic Institute", a school that carters to disabled persons. In H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, Miskatonic University is a fictional university that first appeared in the 1922 story, Herbert West–Reanimator.
- In an article discussing the Prescott Family, the writer's name is Craig Kennedy. Professor Craig Kennedy is a character that appeared in Sherlock Holmes novels written by Arthur B. Reeve.
- In a letter to Joyce from the Arcadia Bay Spinal Center, Dr. Anton Phibes details the alternate Chloe Price's deteriorating respiratory system. Dr. Anton Phibes was a character in the 1971 British horror film The Abominable Dr. Phibes.
- The alternate Price family is apparently indebted to Donald Clamp lenders, which might be a reference to the currupt local Clamp corporation from Gremlins 2".
- On Alternate Chloe's computer, Max can find a conversation in an online chatroom with someone who's about to start watching Quantum Leap.
- Alternate Chloe refers to herself as "Chloe of the Caribbean", which is a reference to the movie Pirates of the Caribbean.
- When discussing Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, an adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Alternate Chloe mentions she wanted to dye her hair like Pris had. Pris, however, never dyed the ends of her bangs.
- Alternate Chloe asks Max whether or not she believed Deckard was a Replicant. The question is part of a longstanding discussion that began following the release of the film in 1982. The "Final Cut" learns heavily toward the argument supporting the Deckard-Replicant angle. Ridley Scott has stated multiple times that Deckard was, in fact, a Replicant from the beginning.
- Alternate Chloe refers to her morphine injector as "total Star Trek shit".
- In the diary Max mentions Vangelis, the composer of the much known Blade Runner soundtrack.
Madsen Household Edit
- After waking up again in the original timeline, Chloe states they were up all night playing "CSI: Arcadia Bay", referencing to the criminal investigation television series franchise CSI.
- After returning from the alternate timeline, Max writes down in her diary, "let's never do the time warp again", which is a reference to a line from the The Rocky Horror Picture Show song "Time Warp", "Let's do the time-warp again."
- The moth on Max's t-shirt may be a reference to the Death’s-Head Hawkmoth featured in the theatrical poster for the 1992 film Silence of the Lambs.
- When looking at Chloe's wastebasket, she says, "Even Holmes and Watson didn't use any piece of information", referencing to Sherlock Holmes.
- In Chloe's Room there is a book called The Bad Girls to Guns by Coffy Grier. The author's name is a reference to actress Pam Grier and the 1973 Blacksploitation film Coffy.
- Examining David's file locker in the garage, Max remarks, "Hey, David, whatcha hiding?"; a reference to Chloe's voice actor Ashly Burch's webseries "Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin'?"
- On Kate Marsh's "Get Well Soon" card, the names "River S" and "Rory W" are signed. Both are a reference to characters that appear in the fifth through seventh seasons of Dr. Who.
Blackwell Academy Edit
- When looking at a cairn in front of the Tobanga totem (before talking to Samuel on dead birds), Max remarks it as "way too Blair Witch" for her, referring to the 1999 American found footage horror film The Blair Witch Project.
- Daniel wears a T-shirt featuring a man tipping his hat. The "Tips Hat" meme is part of a series of "fedora shaming" jokes aimed at making fun of nerdy men who wear fedoras as a fashion accessory.
- In a dialog, Ms. Grant makes a reference to "A Sound of Thunder," a short story by Ray Bradbury involving time travel.
- Warren's room slate says, "There is no unique picture of reality - Stephen Hawking".
- There is a poster advertising the "Gamer Guyz" club on the boys' dormitory wall. It says that they're playing and analyzing games from "CoD to WoW", which refers to the popular games Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.
- In Nathan's Room, a certificate for "The Best Son in the World" is dated June 6, 2006. 666 is considered the "Number of the Beast" in the Book of Revelation.
- The images in the slideshow in Nathan's room could be references to the German Expressionism style of photography and film, as large dense shapes and points are used. The backgrounds are highly reminiscent of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It tells the story of an insane hypnotist who uses a somnambulist to commit murders. This can be seen as an allegory for Nathan's entanglement in Jefferson's Dark Room deeds as a manipulated victim out of their own control.
- After beating up Nathan in the Prescott Dormitory, Warren offers Chloe and Max to stick with them, just in case they need him "to get [his] Hulk on again", referring to the Marvel character and superhero Bruce Banner who turns to Hulk, a large green humanoid that possesses superhuman strength and invulnerability, when he is angered.
- Frank calls Max and Chloe the "Wonder Twins" and the "Hardy Boys".
- On Frank's coded list, he lists 'Lupin:Tonks', which may be a reference to the two characters (Remus Lupin & Nymphadora Tonks)and couple from Harry Potter.
- After finding the right evidence to try and crack the pin on Nathan's phone, she states that all she has to do is "blow this code up and go home", quoting Han Solo encouraging Luke before the Death Star destruction in the 1977 Star Wars movie A New Hope.
- One of the names on Frank Bowers' client list is Stifler from the American Pie films.
Prescott Barn and Dark Room Edit
- When observing the old car in front of the Prescott Barn while finding a way into it, Max says, "Watson, we can safely assume that this ancient vehicle is not our suspect", another reference to Sherlock Holmes.
- When Max discovers an entrance into the Barn, Chloe calls her Maximus. "Maximus" is a Latin term and given name, meaning "greatest" or "large". Maximus also the given name of the protagonist of the 2000 film,Gladiator, directed by Ridley Scott.
- When entering the old barn, Chloe says, "This is way too Blair Witch", as another reference to the The Blair Witch Project.
- When looking at an old photo of the barn, she says, "Talk about home on the range," which is a reference to the 2004 animation film Home on the Range.
- When Max notices a hook used to lift haystacks, she mentions seeing them in one of the Friday the 13th films.
- When Max approaches the owl in the Prescott Barn, she calls it "Doctor Hoo", which is another reference to the British time travel series Doctor Who. It's often remarked by fans that Peter Capaldi, who currently portrays the Doctor, looks like an owl.
- When Max solves the problem of opening the Stormbreaker Bunker door, she makes another reference to the 1980s television series, MacGyver, when she says, "MaxGyver strikes again!"
- In the Dark Room, a letter to Sean Prescott addressing Nathan's mental heath is signed by a Dr. Jacoby. Dr. Jacoby was a character in the 1990 series Twin Peaks.
- The construction agreement is signed by a man named Howard Roark, the name of the protagonist and architect from Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead.
Vortex Club Party Edit
- On the End of the World Party, when talking with Brooke about superpower, Max says, "With great power comes great bullshit", which is a reference to Spider-Man's uncle's famous line, "With great power there must also come great responsibility".
- If Max convinced Daniel to attend the Vortex Club party, both him and Brooke mention going to see a "Miyazaki" exhibit, presumably Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli.
- After failing to convince Sarah to let her in the VIP section, Max goes to Courtney for help and tells her that "Zuul the Gatekeeper won't let her pass". Zuul is a character from the film Ghostbusters.
- Max makes reference to the film Carrie when she reads the graffiti on a wall that says "Fuck your selfie" in the Vortex Club Party VIP section. The protagonist of this film goes berserk on a party held by her popular school mates and kills everyone.
- During Max's conversation with Alyssa about Kate, Alyssa says "So it goes", which is a line repeated in Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse Five .
- If Max talks to Justin at the Vortex Club party he'll refer to Max as "Maximum Overdrive", a reference to the same-titled Stephen King film.
- Looking at a drunk guy in the toilets, Max comments "Goodnight, sweet prince", which is another reference to Hamlet.
- A series of sculptures in the San Francisco Zeitgeist Gallery seem to depict John Cleese's signature Ministry of Silly Walks walk. When Max looks at the one on the left she says, "That one looks kinda silly." These sculptures are also highly reminiscent of those of expressionist A. Giacometti. In the game files, the model of the sculpture is named "SillyGiaco", which is hinting at both of these references.
- One of the art exhibits at the Zeitgeist Gallery is a picture of a person's cybernetic arm similar to Adam Jensen's.
- One of Max's thoughts while at the Zeitgeist Gallery is: "How much would I charge if somebody wanted to buy my picture... Whoa, slow down, Max Warhol." Here Max compares herself to Andy Warhol.
- In the gallery's lobby, Max can see a pamphlet for a lecture about dystopias, with examples like Metropolis, Planet of the Apes, Blade Runner, and The Hunger Games.
- Max also sees a newspaper article about a person called "Danny Lee". This name could refer to a New Zealand golfer who often takes selfies. In one article he is even referred to as the "No. 1 golfer in the world /when it comes to selfies)".
- Many of the "Everyday Heroes Contest" winners share surnames with famous scifi writers, such as: Atwood, Ballard, Chabon, Cline, Eggers, Levin, McCarthy, Pynchon, and Vonnegut
- The guestbook at the Zeitgeist Gallery has an entry written by someone named Lisa Simpsons, a possible reference to the TV series The Simpsons.
- When Max takes out her phone to call Warren and ask him for the photo, you can see that the carrier on Max's phone in "Vaireezon", which might be a reference to Verizon.
Dark Room Edit
- When Max is tied to the chair in the Dark Room and asked for help by saying, "Is there anybody out there?", it might be a reference to the song of Pink Floyd on the album "The Wall" from 1979 which has the same title.
- Max's "focus within a focus" on the selfie she took in class is a direct reference to the "remixing the remix" segment of Remember Me.
- Halfway through the episode, Max wakes up in a timeline where she's back in the Dark Room and cannot escape using her powers because Jefferson burned her diary and photos. This could be a reference to the climax of The Butterfly Effect, where the protagonist wakes up in a timeline where he's in a mental institution and cannot escape because in this timeline his diaries (his medium for time travel) don't exist.
Two Whales Diner Edit
- Driving to the diner, Max hears a radio host talking how a society of sin and entitlements is responsible for God's wrath. His name, Truss Limpbow, is a reference to American talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
- When talking at the Two Whales diner, Warren tells Max "I'm not a real scientist, even though I play one at school", referencing a phrase that originated from an 80s cough syrup commercial featuring an actor from General Hospital.
- In Max's nightmare when sneaking behind Frank Bowers with a flashlight he says, "Me and Rachel are floating down here in the sewer... Come on down!", which is a reference to Stephen King's IT.
- While hiding from Warren in the maze he says, "Max... Where are you? Max, come out to play... Come out to play!" This is a reference to the 1979 movie The Warriors, where Luther, leader of a rival gang, says this famous line to the Warriors--"Warriors, come out to play!"
- A sequence in the finale involves walking down the same seemingly identical hallway time after time, making small interactions along the way, which closely resembles a sequence from the Silent Hill video game.
- The edges of walkways in the labyrinthine segments of Max's nightmare echo the edges of walkways in the Ego Rooms in Remember Me.
- One of the lines scribbled in Max's journal during the nightmare sequence reads "the doe is a lie", a reference to the game Portal.
- The design of the nightmare version of the Diner's bathroom is a possible reference to the SAW movies.
Sacrifice Arcadia Bay EndingEdit
- The Chloe Ending contains a possible reference to Fight Club with the two holding hands as they witness wanton destruction the protagonist was (inadvertently) the catalyst of as music plays.
- The final shot of the sacrifice Arcadia Bay ending where Max and Chloe drive off the town very closely resembles an intro shot of the series Twin Peaks.
Sacrifice Chloe EndingEdit
- The Arcadia Bay ending is a reference to Donnie Darko, with Chloe sacrificing herself via time travel and by correcting the original timeline to save the city from destruction.
- ↑ It expresses the sentiment that there are always dark periods in each our lives, and even if things are good now ("summer"), we must always be ready for a dark period when events turn against us ("winter"). This can be considered a foreshadowing regarding the following dark events.
- ↑ Frank The Rabbit is a person named Frank in a life-size demonic-looking rabbit costume who has the ability to move through time, and who warns Donnie, the protagonist of Donnie Darko, that the world is going to end in a specific amount of time. His objective is to guide Donnie in his path to correcting the timeline of the primary universe to prevent the world's destruction.
- ↑ Interview with Michel Koch: http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/first-love-and-awkwardness-inside-the-mind-of-life-is-strange-co-director-michel-koch-423
- ↑ See here for a comparison: http://lifeisstrangegame.tumblr.com/post/119525570124/shutupandtakethis
- ↑ Official Blue Moon Diner website: http://bluemoondinerpdx.com/
- ↑ DONTNOD confirmed this reference on Twitter on the 4th of May, 2016, the international Star Wars Day.
- ↑ Facebook post | Screenshot
- ↑ Said Danny Lee article: http://www.golfdigest.com/story/danny-lee-is-the-no-1-golfer-in-the-world-when-it-comes-to-taking-selfies