There are so many things to miss about NBC's Chuck — the romance, the spy shenanigans, having Zachary Levi on your TV screen every week. And then there are Chuck's amazing pop culture references. I know this wasn't the only show to infuse its storytelling with pop culture wonderfulness, but it was so clever about the references it made. They were specific to geek culture, and often so obscure or particular that if you weren't in the know, they would fly right past you. If you didn't get all the nods to sci-fi shows, video games, or action franchises, it didn't take away from the joy you derived from the show, but if you did get them, they definitely enhanced the fun.
Some of the references, like Sarah dressing up in the Princess Leia slave costume for a photo op with Chuck, were pretty blatant. But the more obscure ones have probably slipped your mind by now. From quick nods to old-school '80s TV shows to one epic nod to Die Hard, these are the Chuck pop culture moments you might not remember, or even have caught — and yes, rewatching the series to see if you can find them all after reading this list is a totally valid life option.
1. "Chuck Versus Santa Claus" — Big Mike's Cousin Is Die Hard's Al Powell
It wasn't enough that the Buy More gang was taken hostage during Christmas in a very Die Hard way. The writers decided to get actor Reginald VelJohnson to reprise his role as Officer Al Powell from the first two Die Hard movies in the episode. The best part? He's Big Mike's cousin, and the guys share Twinkies in one last wink to VelJohnson's Die Hard roots.
2. "Chuck Versus The Helicopter" — Chuck Knows Why Oceanic Flight 815 Crashed
At the height of Lost fever, Chuck flashes on an "answer" to one of the show's mysteries. Honesty, his explanation made more sense than the official one fans got.
3. "Chuck Versus The Sensei" — Casey Channels Firefly's Jayne
Before he was super spy John Casey, Adam Baldwin was Jayne, the designated muscle, on Joss Whedon's cult classic Firefly. In a direct callback to Firefly's big-screen sequel Serenity, Casey paraphrases one of Jayne's most infamous lines — "You are damaging my calm."
4. "Chuck Versus The Dream Job" — Scott Bakula Breaks Out His Most Famous Catchphrase
To the delight of genre TV fans everywhere, Scott Bakula played Ellie and Chuck's father. In true Chuck fashion, it wasn't enough to just have Bakula on the show. They had to have him reference his most famous character, time traveler Sam from Quantum Leap. After each leap, Sam would say, "Oh boy," which is exactly what Bakula's Stephen Bartowski says when he reunites with Ellie.
5. "Chuck Versus The Pink Slip" — Chuck Goes Full Lebowski
Chuck is in a low place when Season 3 starts, but his descent into becoming The Dude a la Jeff Bridges softened the blow for fans. The show's homage to The Big Lebowski included Chuck sitting around in a bathrobe sporting a full beard and indulging in cheese balls as "Just Dropped In" played. The Dude would have been proud.
6. "Chuck Versus First Class" — Casey Nods To Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Was Casey a secret fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? He certainly makes it sound that way when he busts out vampire and evil Willow's favorite line, "Bored now," and then walks away.
7. "Chuck Versus The Anniversary" — Chuck Has A Very Seinfeld Interview
Hey, not all of Chuck's references were of the genre variety. The Season 4 premiere found Chuck interviewing for a position at Vandelay Industries, the fake latex company made up by one Mr. George Costanza.
8. "Chuck Versus The Family Volkoff" — Chuck (Very Possibly) Makes TV's First Game Of Thrones Reference
Game of Thrones premiered April 17, 2011, and on April 11, 2011, Chuck is seen reading the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, which is, of course, A Game of Thrones. "Eddard, you don't let your kids keep a direwolf," Chuck says. "That's a terrible idea." Yes, that does make Chuck a better Game of Thrones fan than everyone else.
9. "Chuck Versus The Sandworm" — Chuck Pays Homage To The O.C.
Chuck creator Josh Schwartz slipped in a clever homage to his first TV series, The O.C., when he copied the romantic end scene from The O.C. episode "The Countdown" to reaffirm the friendship between Chuck and Morgan in Season 1.
10. "Chuck Versus The Role Models" — Morgan Has A Hart To Hart Dream
This reference isn't an easy one to get unless you were born prior to the '80s or have a passion for classic TV, but it is so on point that it deserves a mention. Morgan's elaborate dream sequence is an homage to the '80s classic Hart to Hart, a television series about a married spy couple — a fitting show for Morgan to dream of, considering the world he exists in.
11. "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer" — Jeff Goes All Fast Times At Ridgemont High
Jeff has an extended flashback at the beginning of the episode that is a shot-by-shot remake of the Fast Times at Ridgemont High character Jeff's dream sequence — a reference so detailed and unexpected that you have to love the movie to get it.
If you remembered all of these references, then you deserve a Chuck superfan medal. If you didn't remember them all, then you have a perfect excuse to Netflix and Chuck tonight.
Images: Warner Bros. TV; chuckvsthegifs/Tumblr (3)