In an answer to another question, I wrote "characters in the later movie watch or discuss the earlier movie".

Then it occurred to me, have characters in an earlier movie watched or discussed a later movie?

It would take an extraordinary set of circumstances for it to happen -- perhaps a movie was expected or hoped for to such a degree, it showed up in a produced script, perhaps just a very lucky guess. Even more difficult would be getting footage of movie that is still a ways off.

At some point, someone in a movie from the 80's or 90's must have hoped for a Star Wars prequel, right? Or that some old TV show like Mod Squad or The Man From UNCLE would be re-made for the big screen?

Clarification: I'm hoping for something organic or accidental, not a deliberate promo by the studio.

Two characters in a 90's movies who in-universe are Star Wars fans talking about how great it would be if George Lucas made some more Star Wars movies is Hilarious In Hindsight. Nick Fury in a stinger inviting the hero to join the next Marvel ensemble-flick is eye-rolling to everybody who isn't a fan-boy.

Further clarification: Seriously, no promos.

  • 4
    Like Batman v Superman was refered in I am legend?
    – Ankit Sharma
    Nov 11, 2016 at 16:44
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    @matt_black Doesn't seem to be a direct reference, though. Afterall every film's story prepares for the story of its sequel.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Nov 11, 2016 at 17:34
  • 2
    there are many instances of end credits and/or scenes in the end credits referring to future movies. The bond movies for a while ended with watch for bond in. Thor, Iron man, and others had scenes implying at least that there was a future something, etc. Since this question is so incredibly broad, the answer is there is no doubt there is at least one movie. Many movies, esp these days know what is planned for the future, some shoot the whole series at one time and release them every year or two so they definitely know.
    – old_timer
    Nov 11, 2016 at 18:26
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    @oals -- in Back To The Future Part II, Marty watches a clip from A Fistful Of Dollars where the Clint Eastwood character hides an iron plate under his poncho, and in Part III, he plays the same trick himself, but the two movies were actually scripted and filmed together, so it's just foreshadowing (and a certain amount of Chekhov's Gun). Even if they were unrelated movies, I'm looking for a reference from a movie to a later movie, not two movies sharing thematic elements. Nov 12, 2016 at 16:07
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    I think not quite the same, but O Brother, Where Art Thou? can be thought of as the movie that the protagonist of Sullivan's Travels wanted to make.
    – chepner
    Nov 12, 2016 at 19:32

10 Answers 10


Most Pixar films have appearances of characters from future movies.

This list comes from the Pixar Fan Wiki:

Monsters, Inc. - Clownfish, the main characters of Finding Nemo, are depicted three times:

  • Harryhausen's has a painted mural featuring a clownfish.
  • A Nemo model is seen hanging in the trailer where Randall is banished.
  • Boo gives Sulley a Nemo toy.

Finding Nemo has allusions to the two films that followed it:

  • A boy in the dentist's waiting room is reading a Mr. Incredible comic book.
  • A non-anthropomorphic version of Luigi from Cars drives by when the tank gang finally escapes.

The Incredibles

  • A non-anthropomorphic version of Doc Hudson from Cars is parked in a street of Metroville during the final battle.


  • A shadow of Dug is seen when Remy wanders in an apartment.
  • Hal, from WALL•E, also makes a cameo.

Your Friend the Rat

  • WALL•E is the driver of the vehicle on Mars.


  • Carl Fredricksen's walking stick can be seen upside down (with the tennis balls attached to the feet) on two occasions. Firstly, when WALL•E is about to pull across the magnifying screen the walker is sitting behind the iPod. Secondly, when WALL•E falls down from the ceiling of his truck (after being knocked there by EVE), he collides with the walker.


  • A Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear is placed next to the bed of a little girl.

Toy Story 3:

  • Finn McMissile is featured on a poster in Andy's room.

  • Also in Andy's room is a "Newt Xing" sign, an allusion to newt. Even though newt was canceled, it had been set to be released in 2012 (two years after Toy Story 3), and as such, this was technically a reference to an upcoming film.

Cars 2

  • A car-ified version of the DunBroch family tapestry from Brave appears in the Ye Left Turn Inn in London.


  • A wood engraving of Sulley appears in the witch's hut. Although Sulley is an original character from Monsters, Inc., this cameo was advertised as an allusion to Monsters University.

Monsters University

  • Toy versions of dinosaur characters from The Good Dinosaur appear in the Scare simulators used for the final event of the Scare Games.

Toy Story of Terror!

  • The paintings hung in the motel room depict dinosaurs under a tree, another allusion to The Good Dinosaur.

Toy Story That Time Forgot

  • According to director Steve Purcell, the three posters in Mason's gaming room were allusions to three of Pixar's upcoming films: Inside Out, Cars 3 and Coco.

Inside Out

  • Giant statues of Forrest Woodbush and Arlo from The Good Dinosaur are seen in Riley's memories of the road trip to San Francisco.

The Good Dinosaur

  • A stone engraving of Hank from Finding Dory appears at the bottom of the water when Arlo learns to swim.

Finding Dory

  • A stock version of Lightning McQueen can be seen.
  • This is really cool! I had no idea Pixar made references towards its future films!
    – Sam Weaver
    Nov 12, 2016 at 0:00
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    This is a huge improvement over Marvel promos, but I'm holding out for something that just ... happened. (If nobody comes up with one, I'll accept this response.) Nov 12, 2016 at 1:18
  • 3
    In the same vein: In Disney's Zootopia the weasel is selling bootlegged/fake versions of not-yet-released movies.
    – deceze
    Nov 12, 2016 at 12:59
  • 1
    ... which is of course just evidence for the Pixar theory.
    – E.P.
    Nov 12, 2016 at 18:17
  • This is a really cool answer (I write this as my bus passes the Pixar studios lol). But screenshots would make it even cooler! Nov 12, 2016 at 23:48

Then it occurred to me, have characters in an earlier movie watched or discussed a later movie?

As mentioned in the comments, there is the Batman v Superman/I am Legend scenario. I'm sure there may be other instances like this.

In I am Legend, there is a reference to Batman v Superman in the form of a billboard. In the linked vid, at about the 26 second mark.

Edit: For reference purposes, I am Legend came out in 2007, Batman v Superman came out 2016.

  • Was this actually planned? Or did they just get lucky? Nov 11, 2016 at 20:27
  • 1
    I Am Legend came out in 2007. Unless the script was in development for that long, I'd think it was a lucky guess. Nov 11, 2016 at 20:51
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    Perhaps a little outlandish - but can we confirm that the Batman v Superman logo was in the theatrical release? If you consider how George Lucas goes back to his films and adds in things, perhaps they added the ad in after they knew BvS was coming out? I wouldn't put that past marketing/advertising.
    – BruceWayne
    Nov 11, 2016 at 21:18
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    I'll loan you my copy on DVD, that I got back in 2008. It was there.
    – user25738
    Nov 11, 2016 at 21:20
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    According to director Francis Lawrence, the reference was to an early version of the Batman V. Superman script by Akiva Goldsmith, who wrote I Am Legend. Nov 12, 2016 at 16:30

In Pulp Fiction (1994), Uma Thurman plays the role of an actress / wife of a gangster, and speaks about one of the gigs she has starred in:

It was show about a team of female secret agents called "Fox Force Five." [...]

There was a blonde one, Sommerset O’Neal, she was a leader. The Japanese fox was a kung fu master. The black girl was a demolition expert. French fox’s speciality was sex. [...]

The character I played, Raven McCoy, her background was she grew up raised by circus performers. According to the show, she was the deadliest woman in the world with a knife.

It turns out that her description matches reasonably well some of the characters of Kill Bill (2003), including the lead role played by the same actress.

Link with picture.

Both movies are directed by Quentin Tarantino, who has later confirmed that Kill Bill is indeed set in a "movie inside the movie" universe.

There's the realer than real universe, alright, and all the characters inhabit that one. But then there's this movie universe. And so From Dusk Till Dawn, Kill Bill, they all take place in this special movie universe. So basically when the characters of Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction, when they go to the movies, Kill Bill is what they go to see. From Dusk Till Dawn is what they see.


It never actually happened (unfortunately), but Spaceballs (1987) referred to its own sequel toward the end of the movie. (I searched for the clip, but could not find it.) Here is the dialog:

Lone Starr: I wonder, will we ever see each other again?

Yogurt: Who knows? God willing, we'll all meet again in Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money.

Extract from IMDB:

King Roland of the planet Druidia is trying to marry his daughter Princess Vespa to Prince Valium, but Vespa is kidnapped by the evil race of the Spaceballs. The Spaceballs ask Roland a tremendous ransom: all the air of Druidia (you see, the air of Spaceball had serious pollution problems...). The King decides to offer a generous amount of money to a space rogue, Lone Starr, to persuade him to save Vespa. What follows is the parody of a LOT of famous SF movies.

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    Seems more of a parody, though. I doubt that sequel was ever seriously planned.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Nov 11, 2016 at 17:26
  • 1
    @NapoleonWilson, you are right of course. If you think about it, that is probably the only way it can happen -- unless you know you are funded for a next installment of to a well known established series like Lord of the Rings -- and wanted to be cheeky as well.
    – John
    Nov 11, 2016 at 17:30
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    @Malvolio Well, in retrospect it seems people have a hard time grasping the exact criteria of your question and clarifying that a little more mgiht be a good idea.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Nov 11, 2016 at 17:33
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    @Malvolio No, I only hope I figured it out and that it's strict enough that not about every second film becomes a viable example. Because as soon as this question lands in the HNQ list it will go down the tubes with useless examples of about every possible film, unless we try to tackle the unclarities as fast as possible. ;-)
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Nov 11, 2016 at 17:35
  • 4
    Mel Brooks also did that with History of the World, part 2
    – casey
    Nov 12, 2016 at 13:23

Tyler Perry's Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016) was inspired by a gag in the Chris Rock film Top Five (2014) just two years earlier which featured the film by name being shown in theaters.

Tyler Perry did not intend to ever do a halloween-themed movie until after the studios nudged him.

From Cinema Blend:

A throwaway gag in Chris Rock‘s 2014 movie “Top Five” features a spoof of a Tyler Perry comedy starring his signature character Madea set during Halloween. The joke turns on the fact that people are lined up around the block for Perry’s silly movie while Rock can’t get anybody to go to his own film.

That’s when the executives at Lionsgate studio got an idea. They called Perry to ask him if he’d seen that scene in “Top Five.” Perry had — in fact, he’d given Rock permission to do it. They then asked if Perry wanted to actually do a Halloween-themed Madea movie.

“I don’t do Halloween witches and demons,” Perry remembers saying. “But it all worked out. I was watching YouTube one day and found a way I thought I could do this that I was happy with. And here we are.”


In Back to the Future II, a movie poster for an elderly Rocky sequel was shown. This matched the actual release time of Creed, a month after “Back to the Future Day” so posters were indeed on display on October 21 2015.


Look no further than a show about time travel! Technically Doctor Who is a television series and not movies, but you did mention TV shows in the question body, so this should count as an answer.

There are many examples scattered throughout the show, but the first that comes to mind involves River Song. In Forest of the Dead (Series 4 Episode 9), just before she dies, she tells the Doctor about the last time (in her timeline) that she saw him:

RIVER: Funny thing is, this means you've always known how I was going to die. All the time we've been together, you knew I was coming here. The last time I saw you, the real you, the future you, I mean, you turned up on my doorstep, with a new haircut and a suit. You took me to Darillium to see the Singing Towers. What a night that was. The Towers sang, and you cried.
COMPUTER: Autodestuct in one minute.
RIVER: You wouldn't tell me why, but I suppose you knew it was time. My time. Time to come to the library. You even gave me your screwdriver. That should have been a clue.

Back in 2008, when this episode aired, the series had a different showrunner, and a different actor was playing the Doctor. I doubt anyone - not Russell T Davies, not Steven Moffat, and certainly not Alex Kingston, who's on record as saying she had no idea what her lines were supposed to mean - really knew how, or indeed whether, the prophecies inherent in River's recollections would ever be fulfilled on-screen.

But much much later (both in his timeline and in the real world), all of it comes true in the 2015 Christmas special The Husbands of River Song:

(The Doctor has swapped his burgundy velvet jacket for a black suit and tie, and is carrying a gift.)
RIVER: Now that, my dear, is a suit.
DOCTOR: Happy Christmas.
RIVER: Really? I don't think you've ever given me a present before.
(She opens the box to reveal the sonic screwdriver she had in the Library.)
RIVER: Oh, it's a sonic screwdriver! How lovely!


DOCTOR: So what do you think? The Singing Towers.
(River gazes at the pillars with the sun setting behind them.)
RIVER: Oh. The music. Listen to it. Are you crying?
DOCTOR: No. Just the wind.

(all emphasis mine; quotes courtesy of Chakoteya)

  • That's not even the only example from Doctor Who. There are quite a few instances of ominous arcwords being thrown around which then suddenly get a meaning several seasons later.
    – Philipp
    Nov 13, 2016 at 18:45
  • @Philipp Yep. I did mention that this is only one of many examples in DW :-) It also stands out from the rest because a lot of those "ominous arcwords" were probably only brought in once their overarching significance was already clear at least in the showrunner's mind. Moffat has a very big master plan, and he probably knew exactly what he was doing with e.g. "silence will fall when the question is asked" right from Series 5. Nov 13, 2016 at 18:48

Machete, which was released in 2010, "is an expansion of a fake trailer that was included in Rodriguez's and Quentin Tarantino's 2007 Grindhouse double-feature" (quote from Wikipedia)

  • This, like the Medea example, is defictionalization: someone saw the first movie and thought, "Hey, why not?" That's not a criticism, but I was looking for more of a case where a movie was anticipated in some fashion and an earlier movie actually participated in that anticipation ( instead of causing it). The closest I have seen is the Back To The Future II, where they mention a Rocky sequel coming out in 2015, featuring a decrepit Sylvester Stallone. (I'm guessing the producers of Creed were not inspired by Back To The Future II). Nov 14, 2016 at 22:21

If you look at this other question and its accepted answer about back to the future, you can see that the final scene in the movie refers to the plot of back to the future 2, which was then written to comply with this final scene of the first movie.


In Jurassic Park 1, when Nedry (the person who stole the DNAs) get attacked by a dinosaur, the can falls to mud, and camera follows it. While this wasn't directly mentioned in future movies, it refers to possibilities on the time gap between the first and the future movies. You can see that scene here, after 2:36, that video doesn't have the exact part I mentioned, but after the camera moves away from the car, it shows the can get covered by mud.

Also, in anime series "Steins;Gate", the first ep references the last ep.

  • Plenty of anime have early episodes foreshadowing later plot developments. If it's all contained within the same series, I'd say that's more like the beginning of a movie referencing the end of that same movie.
    – AlexC
    Nov 14, 2016 at 10:00

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