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Movie Easter eggs discovered years later

There's a special bond between filmmakers and the audience, and it's reflected in all sorts of fun and interesting ways. Some directors, for example, love to throw all kinds of extra treats into their movies for eagle-eyed fans. Nicknamed "Easter eggs" because they're just barely hidden and fun to find, these little gems — inside jokes, visual gags, pop culture references, or even foreshadowing of yet-to-unfold plot points — can add another level of enjoyment to the viewing experience. Many of these little treats are discovered in the days and weeks after a movie's release, but others are a little too well-hidden, and can linger unnoticed for far longer. Take these Easter eggs, for example: years went by before anybody noticed them.

Frisky wizards in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The end credits of the third Harry Potter movie involve the Marauder's Map detailing the comings and goings of all Hogwarts personnel in the form of footprints. Amidst all the steps going to and fro, there's a brief bit in the corner depicting two pairs of footprints very close together — and facing each other. Yep: Those were a couple of teenage wizards makin' some real magic with each other. The credit sequence is apparently loaded with hidden messages and Easter eggs, some of which are still yet to be discovered. This one was evidently not noticed until 2011, seven years after the film's theatrical release.

Where's Waldo? He's in a mass grave in Apocalypto

Mel Gibson's directorial followup to the all-Aramaic, all-the-time The Passion of the Christ was 2006's Apocalypto, another movie in an obscure, ancient language — this one a drama about the very violent fall of the Mayan empire. One of the most striking and haunting images of the film is a mass grave of fallen Mayans, a veritable sea of the dead. For some reason, Gibson inserted a single frame of an actor dressed in a red-and-white hat, sweater, and thick glasses. Yep, that's Waldo. The Easter egg was only present in the theatrical release of the movie and not the home video version, which meant this bizarre extra wasn't discovered until bootlegs of the original cut surfaced nearly two years later.

Jack Skellington in Beetlejuice

This reference to a Tim Burton movie in another Tim Burton movie wasn't identified for at least five years...because nobody knew what it was at the time. During the Beetlejuice scene in which the ghost with the most rises out of the town model, his head spinning, there's a creepy little doll on top of his head. We obviously had no way of knowing it at the time, but that doll sports the prototype head for Jack Skellington, the main character in Burton's 1993 stop-motion animated movie The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Cameron's jersey in Ferris Bueller's Day Off

John Hughes' classic 1986 teen comedy sees the snarky but lovable Ferris (Matthew Broderick) adventure his way through Chicago with his girlfriend Sloan (Mia Sara) and sad-sack best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck). But if it takes place in the Windy City (the trio takes in a Cubs game and Ferris pretends to be "Abe Frohman, the Sausage King of Chicago"), why would Cameron walk around all day in a Detroit Red Wings hockey jersey? That team's fiercest and oldest rival is the Chicago Blackhawks. It wasn't until Ruck did interviews for the 30th anniversary of the film in 2016 that the truth was revealed: Cameron's attire hints at the untold backstory of his fraught relationship with his father. According to Ruck, "[Hughes] had decided that Cameron had a horrible relationship with his father, but a great relationship with his grandfather, who lived in Detroit and would take Cameron to Red Wings games. That's all it was, and it was never explained in the movie."

Biblical references in Guardians of the Galaxy

In late 2015, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn revealed a cut image from the movie on his Facebook page in which Groot presided over a table full of characters arranged just like Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper depicting the final meal of Jesus Christ before his crucifixion. After one fan joked that Groot could "be his own cross" because he's a tree, and thusly made of wood, Gunn mentioned that the fan wasn't far off, and that there was a similarly Christ-themed Easter egg that fans had yet to notice. Then someone found it: As the ship is about to crash, Groot stretches his arms out in a shape resembling Christ on the cross, shielding the other Guardians. Peter Quill holds the body of Rocket Raccoon and Gamora weeps over the body of Drax. Groot sacrifices himself for the good of the crew, which is a pretty Christ-like gesture.

Hannibal's coded message

Hannibal Lecter has definitely had his share of memorable moments over the years. Arguably the most memorable of all came in Silence of the Lambs, when he told Clarice Starling about murdering a census-taker and eating the poor guy's liver "with some fava beans and a nice Chianti." The quote perfectly sums up Hannibal: he's a high-class individual who also happens to be a homicidal cannibal. But that isn't the only reason the line works — it turns out that it might also be a coded message for Starling.

Author Thomas Harris published the novel the movie is based on in 1988, when psychiatric patients were commonly treated with antidepressants known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors. When someone is taking MAOIs, consuming certain foods and drinks can lead to potentially fatal increases in blood pressure. It was such a big problem that it is one of the reasons MAOIs are not commonly used anymore. Hannibal, who was a psychiatrist himself, would certainly have known of their dangerous side effects.

What are some foods and drinks you can't ingest while taking MAOIs? Well, three of them are liver, fava beans, and red wine.

Sure, this could be a complete coincidence, but Hannibal loved playing games, and almost all the clues he gave Starling while she was interviewing him about the Buffalo Bill case were riddles. This suggests that in his own Hannibalesque way, Lecter was telling Clarice he wasn't taking his medication. Had Clarice figured out the coded message, she might have thwarted Hannibal's escape at the end of the film.

The Potato Strikes Back

The Star Wars franchise might just be the most watched in history. Needless to say, over the years keen eyes have spotted occasional gaffes and mistakes... and an in-joke or two.

The making of The Empire Strikes Back pushed the cast and crew to their limits. George Lucas, wanting a break from directing and daunted by the pressure of following up Star Wars, handed the reins for his self-financed sequel to producer Gary Kurtz and director Irvin Kershner. But even if he wasn't in the director's chair, Lucas took a hands-on approach during the difficult production. He proved a stern taskmaster, especially when it came to the special effects. The famed asteroid chase became a particular sticking point for Lucas, who reportedly ordered the effects crew to redo it several times. Bored, frustrated, and inspired by a passing comment remarking that the asteroids looked like potatoes, the effects team decided to hide an actual potato in an asteroid field during a chase scene.

Lucas apparently didn't notice the prank until years later. Audiences took their time too, until the days of video and laserdisc allowed viewers to freeze-frame the scene and play spot the spud.