This article is about cultural references in Alan Wake. For the references in the stand alone Alan Wake title, see Cultural References in Alan Wake's American Nightmare.
There are many cultural references of other media in Alan Wake. Beneath are all known references sorted by subject.
The Twilight Zone (TV Show)
- The in-game television show, Night Springs, is in the same style as The Twilight Zone (eg. black and white, bizarre events taking place and the same type of narration).
Twin Peaks (TV Show)
- The setting of Twin Peaks is almost exactly the same as Bright Falls: A seemingly small and harmless (but fictional) logging town in Washington. In both towns, strange events occur.
- The Oh Deer Diner is a reference to the Double R Diner in Twin Peaks – the layout is identical to Twede's Diner in North Bend, WA, where Twin Peaks was filmed. Even the clothing of the waitress looks almost identical to Shelly Johnson's, but is red in the game instead of blue.
- The Cauldron Lake Lodge is very similar to the Great Northern Hotel in Twin Peaks – they're both old wooden hotels on a cliff overlooking a lake.
- The way the patient in the Cauldron Lake Lodge crawls over the couch and tries to scare Dr. Hartman and Alan Wake is the exact same way the surreal person "BOB" used to scare people in Twin Peaks.
- A more obvious reference is the Lamp Lady, Cynthia Weaver, an old crazy lady that carries a lantern all the time. In Twin Peaks, an old crazy lady called the "Log Lady" carries a log all the time.
- In one of the manuscripts, FBI Agent Nightingale mentions that "... he didn't like the trees or the coffee". In Twin Peaks, FBI Agent Dale Cooper mentions, while entering the town, that the trees are beautiful here and later on, he gives compliments about the coffee at the diner.
- Ranger Rusty makes a compliment about the coffee at the diner, just as FBI agent Dale Cooper makes compliments about the coffee everywhere he goes. There is even an achievement named after his quote "Damn Good Cup of Coffee", which you get after collecting 25 coffee thermoses.
- The Bright Falls sheriff's department is nearly identical to the one in Twin Peaks.
- The Alan Wake strategy guide contains notes on where to find the 100 thermoses of coffee written by an unnamed FBI agent. In some of them, this agent comments about his fellow agent "Cooper". One note mentions Cooper attending a transcendental meditation seminar and another note saying Cooper had "out there" theories in the past.
- In the book The Alan Wake Files, interviews are transcribed that Agent Nightingale made with his micro-cassette recorder. Agent Dale Cooper always recorded everything with his iconic micro-cassette recorder, starting his sentence with "Diane, ...".
- Mirror Peak is a reference to the name of the show Twin Peaks. Mirror can sometimes refer to two of the same person (like twins) and then Peak.
- In one of the last scenes in Alan Wake, Alan is confronted with his doppelganger, named Mr. Scratch, who was going to replace him if he died. This is exactly what happened to FBI agent Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks. He was trapped inside the Black Lodge and his doppelganger replaced him in the real world.
- In The Signal, a cardboard standee can be found of Sheriff Sarah Breaker, with a description that mentions her being the "...only girl in the Bookhouse" and tells of a "secret society" in Bright Falls. In the town of Twin Peaks, the Bookhouse Boys is a secret society.
- In a shed in Chapter 1 (the one with a radio inside) there is a locket hung up on a hook. This is a reference to Laura Palmer’s locket which became a key piece of evidence in the search for her killer.
LOST (TV Show)
- The Dark Presence in the game controls people, just like the Smoke Monster in LOST does, although the monster takes their appearance and thoughts not the actual bodies like the Dark Presence does. And both are, of course, depicted as a pillar of black smoke.
- In the game, there is a constant battle between light and shadow (even literally); in LOST, this is one of the most important aspects of the entire show, along with the heavy black and white symbolism throughout the series.
- In the Bright Falls mini-series, Episode 3: Lights Out, Jake Fischer wakes up in the woods, similar to the very first scene in LOST with Jack Shephard.
- The events of time loss, temporal displacement and waking up in different places can be found in the Bright Falls mini-series as well as LOST. In the Alan Wake universe: Alan Wake and Jake Fischer in Bright Falls, in the LOST universe: Desmond Hume in the episodes The Constant and Flashes Before Your Eyes.
- Sheriff Sarah Breaker makes a reference to the ending of the film just after they survive a the Taken attack.
King Kong (movies)
- Alan makes a joke about how New York tends to be the plot setting for a lot of media, including King Kong.
- The idea of the Taken Ravens was both an inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock's movie "The Birds", and a reference to it, as stated by Remedy several times. The ravens are also being reffered to as "Birds" for most of the time in the game inself.
- Barry mentions that some birds flew through the chimney like the sparrows in this movie. He will later directly reference the movie by saying that the birds will "go all Hitchcock on him".
- When Alan is about to leave for Lovers' Peak, Barry warns him saying "Just be careful with the natives, Al. These yokels are dangerous. Everybody hates a tourist. Or it'll be Deliverance all over again".
- Alan Wake compared his situation (getting chased by a psychotic man knocking on a door with an axe) with the movie The Shining where Jack Torrance smashes a door with an axe in pursuit to murder his wife.
- The maze in chapter 4 was very similar to the one in The Shining.
- Alan makes a reference to Rambo when Barry says "I'm on the case!".
Lord of the Rings (Movie/Book)
- Barry refers to his head lamp as his personal "Flaming Eye of Mordor", also known as Barad-dûr in the Lord of the Rings universe.
- One of the achievements of the game, "They're heeeeeere!", where you have to destroy 20 possessed objects, is titled after a line from the movie.
- Cynthia Weaver states that she sometimes speaks to Thomas Zane through the TV, much like Carol Freeling did in the film.
The Evil Dead Trilogy
- In Hartman's Cauldron Lake Lodge, there's a stuffed deer head possessed by the Dark Presence, acting as a the "Poltergeist" Taken. It isn't thrown at Alan, it simply looks around the room. This could be a reference to a scene in Evil Dead II, where several objects in the cabin begin to laugh (but not attack in any way) at Ashley J. Williams, including a stuffed deer head.
- Sarah Breaker's cut-out references Ash's nickname for his sawed-off double barrel shotgun, "Boomstick".
- The tree ring display in one area of Elderwood National Park is almost identical to the one used in the scene where Madeleine and Scotty discuss their lives compared to the life of the tree.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
- During Alan's short stay at the Cauldron Lake Lodge, Doctor Hartman says "Jack has taken the other patients out on a fishing trip". In the movie, Jack Nicholson's character famously releases all of the mental patients and embarks on a crazed fishing trip.
Poets Of The Fall (Band)
- A reference to "Late Goodbye", the ending theme for Max Payne 2, also done by Poets of the Fall, appears in the text of the second manuscript page of Episode 2.
- Poets Of The Fall is a rock band in Finland and some songs are featured in the game, both as themselves and as Old Gods of Asgard.
- In the interview with Alan Wake and Sam Lake on The Harry Garrett Show, you can see Poets Of The Fall at the end of the video, apparently having been the episode's musical guests.
- The song, "War" which is a main theme of the Alan Wake soundtrack, was also played by Pat Maine on a radio, saying they reminded him of the Old Gods Of Asgard. This was played in the same episode that the song appeared at the end for.
- The official music video for "War" is an homage to Alan Wake, going as far as having Ilkka Villi portraying the live-action version of Alan Wake in the music video, which shows him searching for manuscript pages in a forest by a lake, before being confronted by a group of Taken (played by the band members) who he holds at bay with a flare.
- In Episode 2: Taken, after talking with Doctor Nelson if Alan sticks around, he can hear Doc humming Row, Row, Row Your Boat.
- When Nightingale shoots at Alan in the radio station, Pat Maine screams 'Judas Priest', a rock band whose name is commonly used as a more 'family friendly' exclamation than 'Jesus Christ!'. With Pat being a radio personality, he would be used to censoring himself, and might shout this neutered exclamation out of habit.
Johann Strauss II
- A patient at Cauldron Lake Lodge, Wendy Desole, can be heard humming "The Blue Danube Waltz" by Johann Strauss II.
- The achievement description when earned for "What Light Through Yonder Window" is: "It is the east and the flare gun is the sun to 50 Taken". This is a reference to one of Romeo's lines from the famous balcony scene: "But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the East, and Juliet is the sun."
- The achievement Let There Be Light is a reference to the book of Genesis. Light was the first thing God created and it drove back the darkness.
Stephen King (Writer)
- Alan quotes Stephen King in the introductory narration to the game. The quote "But nightmares exist outside of logic, and there’s little fun to be had in explanations; they’re antithetical to the poetry of fear" comes from 2008 article "Why Hollywood can't do horror".
- The creators of Alan Wake said that they also used Stephen King as a reference during the process of making the game.
- Alan also thinks of King after encountering poltergeists for the first time, commenting that objects often come to life and act malevolently towards humans in King's works, such as Christine, a novel about an evil car.
- As a running gag, Agent Nightingale refers to Alan by the names of known authors, including the following.
- Some of Alan's novels have been described by critics as "Lovecraftian horror". Meaning they are similar to H.P. Lovecraft's narrative style and theme.
- The remains of a tree called The Great Old One can be found in Elderwood National Park. In H.P. Lovecraft's Mythos, "the Great Old Ones" are ancient extraterrestrial beings of immense power, and most are also colossal in size. The most well-known of these from Lovecraft's fiction is Cthulhu.
- It should also be noted that the year The Great Old One was felled by lightning, 1937, is the same year that H.P. Lovecraft himself passed away. In this way one could view him as "The Great Old One of horror who fell in 1937."
- The third episode of Night Springs, "A Family Occasion", is filled with a rich quantity of references towards Lovecraft. The introduction of the episode is not only a nod to Lovecraft's literary philosophy, cosmicism, but also written in a similar fashion as the introduction of Lovecraft's short story, "The Call of Cthulhu". Furthermore, "the stars are right" is a quote from "The Call of Cthulhu" which refers to a cosmological event when the sunken city R'lyeh will arise from the ocean and release its otherwordly creatures on the earth.
- Nik'sih-Per'kah, the fictional god mentioned in Night Springs, "A Family Occasion", is a reference to Shub-Niggurath, a Lovecraftian deity. This reference becomes clear when the paranormal investigator feels something writhing inside his stomach and the woman says that his "body shall host his thousand young". The line "thousand young" is part of Shub-Niggurath's epithet "The Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young". The name of the god is actually a parody: it's pronounced like "Niksi-Pirkka", a column in a Finnish monthly magazine Pirkka that lists various handy household tips.
- The idea of people mentally connected in dreams is a similar concept explored in "The Call of Cthulhu". In the novel The Alan Wake Files, there are several hints at the possibility that Alan Wake, Clay Steward and Agent Nightingale share the same ominous nightmare, or vision. The dreams of these men (with the possible exception of Agent Nightingale) are influenced by the Dark Presence and feature a marine setting, as can be seen with the lighthouse in the first chapter of the Alan Wake video game. This focus on a marine setting is similar to "The Call of Cthulhu", in which a handful of artists from all over the world share the same nightmarish visions (the sunken city of R'lyeh) as Cthulhu whispers in their sleep.
- Similar to the Dark Presence resting at the bottom of the Cauldron Lake, one of the deepest lakes in the world, monsters in Lovecraft's stories often find home in deep water.
Edward Bulwer-Lytton (Writer)
- In The Signal, the imaginary Barry quotes one of the lines from the play "Richelieu (the Conspiracy)", "The pen is mightier than the sword". The quote is often interpreted as "intelligence is better than brute strength."
- There is a poster in Emerson's room of Death Rally, another game developed by Remedy Entertainment.
- In The Signal, when Alan is in a vehicle going up against a monster truck, Imaginary Barry will say it's like a demolition derby, or as he calls it "a death rally".
- In Episode 4 when Walter is dying he says "Like a real bad follow up to a real good movie, where the best friend is suddenly the bad guy", a reference to Vlad's betrayal of Max in Max Payne 2
- In Episode 3: Ransom when you first wake up after drinking Rose's coffee you will see a book on a shelf named "Believe In Change" in the same room as the television. The cover is a picture of the Max Payne character Alfred Woden.
- In the flashback at the beginning of Episode 2: Taken, Wake returns to his New York City apartment and comments it's the worst storm ever. This was the case in the original Max Payne, where it was set in a blizzard-covered New York. It is possible, although unlikely, that the events of the Max Payne series and Alan Wake occur in the same universe. To further coincide with this, the storm had been going on for 3 days in both Alan Wake and Max Payne.
- Alan's popular character Alex Casey is a deliberate reference to Max Payne, another Remedy character. Casey is killed off in Alan's latest book because Alan wants to move on to new and different stories, Remedy's way of saying that they want to move on from Max Payne and tell the new story of Alan Wake.
- The first two manuscript pages of Episode 2: Taken are taken from the final Alex Casey novel and narrated by Casey, played by James McCaffrey, the voice of Max Payne. The implication of Casey's wife and child being long dead matches the setup for Max Payne. The reference to painkillers is also a call out to the use of painkillers to restore health in Max Payne.
- In Episode 2, two crossed golden Beretta 9mm handguns are on display in Alan's apartment office. This is a reference to the Max Payne series, as dual berettas are Max's weapon of choice in Max Payne and Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne.
- In the interview with Alan Wake on The Harry Garrett Show, Sam Lake appeared. Sam Lake not only wrote the game's story and script, but also helped design levels and was the face model for the character of Max Payne in the first game of the series. This fact is highlighted when Sam Lake is asked to "Do the Face", to which he looks at the camera and mimics the face of Max.
- In the Episode 6 flashback of Alan Wake, Alan wakes up with a hangover and requires pain killers to stop the pain. The bottle is identical to the one that is used by Max Payne for his pain relief and the sound effect that is played when he picks up the bottle is the same one used in Max Payne for when Max uses painkillers to replenish his health.
- In Episode 4 you meet a burned out game designer Emerson. Emerson rants about how they thought it was fun to include "mullets" and "mullet time" in their game. Soon producers wanted "mullet time" in everything. This is a reference to the "Bullet Time" ability all three Max Payne games used. It quickly became popular and got added to a lot of games before disappearing again when it was considered as a gimmick.
- One of Wake's books is Return to Sender. In Max Payne some of the televisions are showing episodes of the series Address Unknown, in what the station is calling a "Return to Sender Marathon".
- In The Signal, after Thomas Zane speaks to Alan Wake through the bathroom mirror, the player can turn around and open the furthest stall door on the left. There is graffiti here which reads "Mirra Was Here." This is a reference to the character John Mirra from the show Address Unknown in Max Payne and Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne.
- Wake's Alex Casey novel, "The Things That I Want" shares its name with a chapter from "Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne" as well as a pun said by Max.
- Alan's character in his books was called "Alex Casey". In Max Payne, there is an advertisement that can be found throughout the game saying "Real Men Drink Casey", an advertisement for alcohol.
- Deadly Premonition was also greatly inspired by Twin Peaks and thus coincidentally shares many similarities to the show with Alan Wake, including the premise of FBI agents coming to a small, friendly Washington town plagued by dark secrets and supernatural occurrences, and of course, the famous Log Lady/Lamp Lady/Pot Lady.
- Both games' main enemies are townsfolk possessed by a dark force who turn into wisps of smoke when killed.
- Both games start with the quirky main character getting into a car crash and having to fight his way through the forest.
- Both games have episodic formats with eerily similar recaps at the beginning of each episode.
- Unintentionally, both games were also revived around a decade after their original release in a similar fashion to Twin Peaks.
- Both games were rereleased with small additions that hinted more at an possible sequel (Alan Wake Remastered and Deadly Premonition: Director's Cut), a sequel which in both cases, also came around a decade after the original game.
The real-life products are present only on the original Xbox and PC ports of Alan Wake, given that the contracts for those were expired when the remastered came out in 2021. Many of them, such as the automobiles, still retain their core assets and designs, but the branding is absent and replaced by new textures.
Verizon Communications Inc.
- Alan's cell phone uses Verizon.
- In The Signal, Alan must follow a GPS signal on his phone, using the Verizon GPS application called VZ Navigator.
- Verizon signs can be found all over the game on billboards.
- In Episode 4: The Truth, when you are about to leave the clinic you can turn on a TV and it plays a Verizon commercial. This counts towards the "Boob Tube" achievement.
Energizer Holdings, Inc.
- Through the normal campaign, the batteries used by Alan Wake are Energizer brand.
- In Episode 1: Nightmare, Alan picks up an Energizer brand flashlight and a revolver after he hides from Stucky inside the trailer.
- In Episode 6: Departure, there are Energizer billboards.
- The Heavy-Duty Lantern is also Energizer brand.
Ford Motor Company
- In Episode 4: The Truth, when you are about to leave the clinic you can turn on a TV and it plays a Ford commercial, in which a 2010 Mustang appears. This counts towards the "Boob Tube" achievement.
- In Episode 3: Ransom, when you are walking with Paul Randolph one of the cars parked by one of the trailers is a 2011 Ford Fiesta sedan.
- In Episode 6: Departure, when you are on the bridge with the poltergeists a 2009 Ford Flex is near the entrance.
- In Episode 2: Taken, the vehicle you use to get back to Barry is a Park Ranger 2008 Ford F-450.
- In the lot of the Sheriff's station there is 2010 Ford Fusion.
- In Bright Falls, Jake drives a 2008 Ford Focus.
- The 2006-2008 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor appears in Bright Falls as Deputy Mulligan's police cruiser. Night Springs episode 2 the 2003-2005 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor makes an appearance.
Lincoln Motor Company
- Alan and Alice's car is a 2010 Lincoln MKT.
- In Episode 3: Ransom, the car parked outside of the trailer park is a 2009 Lincoln MKS.
- In Episode 6 : Departure a 2011 Lincoln MKX can be driven.
- A 2008 Mercury Mariner is parked outside the Majestic Motell.
- In Episode 1: Nightmare, in the cinematic where Alice tells Alan to get the keys from Stucky, the dashboard screen of the car says Microsoft Sync.
- In Episode 4: The Truth, while in the clinic, you can enter Emerson's room to find an Xbox 360 and a game based on the "Night Springs" TV show.
- Copies of the Night Springs videogame for Xbox 360 subsequently become collectibles in one of the DLC chapters. When Alan is near a copy, it produces the Xbox 360 startup noise.