Great TV Easter Eggs - long-running hidden jokes in TV shows

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman and Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad. Photo: AMC

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman and Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad. Photo: AMC - Credit: AMC

Easter Eggs - long-running in-jokes, clues or cross-references to other shows or movies - take television to a whole new level. Here are 10 TV Easter Eggs you probably missed in your favourite shows.

Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox and Matthew Perry in FRi

Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox and Matthew Perry in FRiends. Photo: Alice S. Hall/NBC - Credit: NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Ah, Easter. Spring has arrived and the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the bunnies are bouncing and the flowers are beginning to bloom.

Well, who am I kidding? It's England. It's most probably raining. If media hyperbole is anything to go by, it may well be snowing, freezing and unquestionably a time to haul your longjohns up to your nipples and pray to your forefathers if you dare venture outside.

But that's OK, rain or shine, snow or sleet, there's cause to full of the joys of spring as whatever the weather we will have Easter Eggs. Yes, Easter Eggs, the muffin-top-inducing, soul- comforting, 'just-give-me-one-more-bit-I-swear-I'll-stop-scoffing-my face after this', chocolatey sort of Easter Eggs.

But for the purpose of this article, go right ahead and throw that idea of Easter Eggs out of your head in favour of another sort – Easter Eggs to be found in a TV box rather than a cardboard one. In this instance, Easter Eggs can be hidden references, little inside jokes, hints or sly little messages embedded into TV, film, video games and more for super-fans.

Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) in The Walking Dead. Photo: Gene Page/AMC

Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) in The Walking Dead. Photo: Gene Page/AMC - Credit: AMC

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They are not always the most obvious, but they can add a little bit of sparkle to an already stellar viewing experience – once you crack them. So, if you'll join me, let us go on an Easter Egg hunt of our own, across the world of television – from sitcoms, to dramas, across the pond to the US of A and back again and see just what we are able to pop in our basket (and as an added bonus, there's a video packed with some more to watch, too)

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10 of TV's hidden Easter Eggs

1) Black Mirror, Netflix: it's all connected: Happy coincidences or part of a grand plan? A theory has formed that Charlie Brooker's science-fiction anthology series resides in one big creepy shared universe. The evidence stacks up, but it will require you going on an Easter Egg hunt of your own through the four weird and wonderful seasons. Examples include characters from one episode cropping in others, shared TV programmes and, obviously, shared technology.

2) Emmerdale, ITV: The Easter Egg Hunt: Easter comes with Easter Egg Hunts. It's inevitable and it's no different for Emmerdale. Indeed, during a recent episode of my new favourite soap opera – airing on 21 March – chef, Marlon and headteacher, Jessie, have a natter about their relationship. Or rather, their lack of one, insisting they're no more than friends.

While this is going on, the real drama plays out in the background on a poster for the village's annual Easter Egg hunt. It states it will take place on Easter Sunday which it says is the 20 April. However, as we all know, Easter Sunday actually falls on April Fool's Day – which seems a recipe for disaster in itself but that's neither here nor there. Nobody should have to wait for chocolate.

3) Community, NBC, Beetlejuice: Everyone knows that if you say Beetlejuice three times, the titular ghost of Tim Burton's 1989 film will appear. If you didn't you do know. Anyway, eagle-eyed fans were wise to this when the NBC sitcom series, Community – featuring everyone's soon-to-be favourite part of the Star Wars, Donald Glover – decided to have a little fun. The series featured an ensemble of characters at a community college and it was filled to the brim with pop culture references and through this, we find ourselves Easter Egg number three. After Beetlejuice had been mentioned twice by characters, a third mention saw the ghost himself saunter on by in the background.

4) Breaking Bad, AMC, The trousers: You never know who you're going to run into strolling through the desert. Your old trousers, perhaps? That's the deal for Walter White during Ozymandias – the greatest episode in the greatest television series ever made, Breaking Bad (I have not yet watched The Wire, before anyone says anything). The opening episode greets us with an opening shot of a pair of trousers floating through the air, before Walt, in just a pair of unflattering underpants and a gas mask, hammers down the pedal as he drivers an RV through the desert. Fast forward to the episode before the penultimate episode – did I mention it's a great episode? – then you will see Walt pass his own trousers in the desert.

5) Friends, NBC, The reservation: Have you ever wondered how Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Joey and Phoebe could, consistently, get the best seats in the house in a coffee house in the centre of New York? Truth be told, me neither. However, there is an explanation and it is a little more substantial than – they're the main characters. If you look closely at the table, there is a little reservation sign sat there.

6) The Simpsons, Fox, The McBain Movie: A reoccurring character in The Simpsons is Rainier Wolfcastle, an action hero actor who, essentially, is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Wolfcastle's signature character is McBain and throughout the long-running series, there are snippets of McBain movies served up. As it happens, eagled eyed views have discovered that by plugging them all together, they serve up a film – albeit a short one – with an actual storyline.

7) The Marvel Netflix World (all of it): Fantastic things happen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – all culminating with the film behemoth that will be Avengers, Infinity War later this month. Drop down away from the cosmos, however, and onto the gritty streets of its Netflix world and it is teeming with Easter Eggs – from photos of the braniac behind it all, Stan Lee, as a cop; to various callbacks to the comic history of its heroes, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, The Punisher, Iron Fist and Luke Cage; to continued references of 'the incident' – the events of the first Avengers film.

8) Doctor Who, BBC, Bad Wolf: Day after day I write movies and TV. I am fanatic. One day, I hope to have a sarcastic know-it-all writing lists which feature my own work. For now, I will have to settle for being said know-it-all writing about someone else. In this case, it's Russell T Davies' 2005 revival of Doctor Who. Of course, the world of new Who is stuffed full of references past, present and most probably future. If we pop in our own Tardis and travel back to 2005, we find Easter Egg number eight. Towards the end of Christopher Eccleston's first – and sadly last – series as the Doctor, the Doctor has sent Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) back to earth after the Daleks return. Rose finds her way back – triggered by the word 'Bad Wolf' - and absorbs the heart of the Tardis, turns all supernatural and all powerful, christening herself Bad Wolf before turning the Daleks to dust. Rose decides to scatter the name Bad Wolf through time and space, giving herself a trail of breadcrumbs to ensure she will find her way back. Watching the episodes back, Bad Wolf is referenced multiple times, tying things together in a lovely little bow.

9) Walking Dead, AMC, A Breaking Bad sequel? Now, could Walter White's drug-cooking antics have led to the zombie apocalypse? It's possible, if you take a glance at The Walking Dead – the aforementioned zombie apocalypse. Daryl's old drug dealer supposedly remarked, 'I'm going to kill you, b***h' – that last word a staple of Jesse Pinkman's dialect, Walter White's protegee and partner in crime. Elsewhere, Walt's signature blue sky meth is seen in a bag of pills. As both shows air/aired on AMC, it's probably just a bit of fun. Or, Walt broke a whole lot more bad than he first thought.

10) This article: Surprise! Take a look back at first word of each Easter Egg. There's a little message hidden there for you...

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