Books and Comics
A Brief History of Time
Graffiti found on walls: "Turtles all the way down"
The phrase "Turtles all the way down" comes from a tale most popularly related in Stephen Hawking's book A Brief History of Time:
A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever", said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!"
Additionally, this could refer to the children's book Yurtle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss. In the book, the king of the turtles, Yurtle, rules all he sees. But because he's a turtle, he can't see very far. He then has the idea to have all of his subjects, other turtles, climb up onto each other's backs. When Yurtle is finally on top, he can see much further. Yet because all these turtles are piled on top of each other, they get very tired and hungry and start to complain, and eventually one plain little turtle named "Mack" burps, and all the turtles come tumbling down. This has often been noted as a metaphor for any sort of dictatorship and its eventual collapse.
The phrase turtles all the way down goes back to debates Socrates had on what created God and what supported the world (Tortoise in Chinese mythology), where it was said that there were an infinite number of Gods that made the previous God and that there were Turtles all the way down.
The Canterbury Tales
Weapon: Lady Finger
The Canterbury Tales is collection of stories by Chaucer, about a group on pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral. This serves as a frame for shorter stories about the individual characters. "The Prioress's Tale" tells the story of Madam Eglantine, who wears a ring with the inscription "Amor vincit omnia", which translates into "love conquers all". The flavor text of the Lady Finger, Omnia Vincit Amor, means the same. The name Lady Finger may refer to the fingers of the prioress, where the ring was worn.
The Dark Tower
Roland shares his first name with Roland Deschain, the protagonist from the series of books "The Dark Tower", written by Stephen King. Many other themes and terms are shared, such as the Hunter's fighting bird (David in The Waste Lands). Coincidentally, Mordecai's Gunslinger COM improves the use of Revolvers, which not only are Roland Deschain's preferred weapon, but also affixes the title of Gunslinger, by which Deschain is formally addressed.
Alternately, Roland may be a direct reference to the poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" by English author Robert Browning, the inspiration for the name and protagonist of King's series, and much of the tone and content. "Childe" is a term from the Middle Ages that refers to a young nobleman who has not yet won his spurs.
Character: Crazy Earl
Crazy Earl is referred to as a "turtle hermit," and Tannis claimed to have given him her underwear. This is a direct reference to Master Roshi in the Dragon Ball manga. Master Roshi sometimes wore a turtle shell, and he collected women's underwear.
Xbox Live / PSN profile information
If a player gets more than 9000 kills online, his profile will read "Kills: Over 9000". This is a reference to the famous Dragon Ball Z meme, where Nappa asks Vegeta "What does the scouter say about his power level?" Vegeta's reply to that is: "It's over NINE THOUSAND!" See here.
Character: Chuck Durden
Chuck Durden refers to Fight Club. Chuck Palahniuk wrote the book, and its main character is Tyler Durden.
The name Tankenstein is a reference to Frankenstein's monster in Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley. Its appearance matches the widely accepted description of the creature, introduced by the original film. Tankensteins are healed by Shock damage. In the movie Dr. Frankenstein uses power harnessed from lightning to reanimate a corpse, thus creating the iconic monster.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy franchise
Claptrap (Old Haven): "I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed."
A phrase often said by Marvin, the depressed robot in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The entire speech of this Claptrap is very similar to how Marvin feels in the book and the rest of the series.1
Taylor Kobb's Hacked Claptrap: "... OR... I could stick an electrode up my back panel and call it paradise."
Refers to a ploy by Ford Prefect, one of the main characters, in which he disables a security bot by short circuiting its decision making processes, located in a back panel, causing it to find everything impossibly pleasurable.
For Tannis's mission, Fight For Your Right To Part-E, she wants to collect Claptrap parts for her infinite improbability drive. This refers the Infinite Improbability Drive, which was used for teleportation to anywhere in the galaxy. Tannis also refers to needing 42 parts. The number 42 was the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe and everything.
The Lord of the Rings
Mission: Spa Vs. Spa
The Pipp Inn may be a reference to Pippin, a nickname for Peregrin Took.
The Spiderant Helob refers to the giant spider Shelob from the novel The Two Towers. In the movie trilogy she appeared in The Return of the King.
Zombie T.K. Baha: "Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew"
A reference to the film version of The Two Towers, where Sam is preparing dinner and trying to explain to Gollum what 'taters' are.
Mission: Purple Juice!
The first mission that Thirsty the Midget offers references the names of the hobbits in The Lord of the Rings:
Restore Brandybuck, Took, Gamgee, and Underhill (the alias of Baggins) pumps.
Mission: Spa Vs. Spa
This side mission in Claptrap's New Robot Revolution is a reference to Spy vs. Spy, a wordless black and white comic strip published in Mad Magazine.
Merchant of Venice
Psycho: "Now it's time for my pound of flesh!"
Refers to Shylock's line in the play Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. In the play, a "pound of flesh" is to be the payment to Shylock from his client for defaulting on a loan.
In Claptrap's New Robot Revolution, an announcement referencing a speech made by Shylock can be heard. it goes 'A message from our glorious leader! Hath a Claptrap not an eye? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you poison us, do we not die? Of course we don't! Because we're better than you stinking fleshbags! But if you blow us up, shall we not... REVENGE!?! Viva la robolution!' The speech from the play involves Shylock defending Jews in a similar way, who were heavily persecuted in Shakespeare's time.
Mission: T.K.'s Life And Limb
Baha is Ahab backwards, and in the book, Ahab was driven mad to find and kill the White Whale after his leg was taken from him. Scar, like Moby Dick, also has many battle scars and several weapons embedded into his head.
Mission: Big Crimson Brother is Watching This mission involves destroying 5 Crimson Lance Security Cameras found throughout the T-Bone Junction. This a reference to the science fiction novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, where a despotic authority named Big Brother maintains constant surveillance on all citizens. The citizens are reminded of this by numerous posters bearing the phrase "Big Brother is Watching You" posted all over the city.
Guardian Angel: "Would you kindly give him a hand?"
This quote is the trigger to the first Claptrap Rescue mission. The phrase "Would You Kindly" was also the trigger phrase used by the main antagonist of BioShock, another game published by 2K Games, to force the player's character to perform actions. As with Bioshock, the storyline will not advance until the orders given have been completed.
In Claptrap's New Robot Revolution there is a quote, paraphrazing Rapture's visionary designer Andrew Ryan's words: "Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? 'No!' says the man in Washington, 'It belongs to the poor.' 'No!' says the man in the Vatican, 'It belongs to God.' 'No!' says the man in Moscow, 'It belongs to everyone.' I rejected those answers; instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible.". A Claptrap plays with this quote over a PA system, changing it to: "Is a Claptrap not entitled to the oil of his brow? 'No!' says the man at Hyperion, 'It belongs to his owner'. 'No', says the treasure hunter, 'It belongs splattered on the floor'. But we choose something different. We choose the Robolution!"
Blaster Master Outrunner color
The name for this color is a reference to an NES game with the same name, featuring a buggy-like tank with a red color scheme.
Brothers in Arms
Area: Road's End
Call of Duty
The Circle of Duty in Secret Armory of General Knoxx is titled after Call of Duty. The final Circle of Duty mission is called Circle of Duty: Medal of Duty which is a combination of Call of Duty and Medal of Honor, two famous FPS series.
Weapon: Hyperion Butcher
Special weapon effect: "Ahhh.... Fresh meat!"
Paint Scheme: Lancer - Diablo
The red colour of Diablo's titular end boss is repeated in the "Diablo" colour scheme of the Lancer.
Mission: Earl Needs Food... Badly
In the old coin-operated arcade game Gauntlet, each of the four characters would receive a unique spoken warning when running low on life. The Elf's warning message was "Elf needs food, badly!".
Mission: House of the Ned
Towards the end of a mission, the player has to wait for a slow elevator while fighting off zombies, something that happens fairly often in the Half-Life titles. Dr. Ned pokes fun at the situation by implying this isn't the first time you'd likely have waited for a hand-cranked elevator (specifically, referencing Father Grigori's elevator in Ravenholm) during a zombie outbreak. The scenario also appears in the original Left 4 Dead campaign, "No Mercy."
House of the Dead
Mission: House of the Ned
House of the Dead is an arcade game developed by Sega. Players take on the role of agents trying to kill the monsters created by Dr. Curien, a scientist who tried to discover the nature of life and death, but his experiments resulted in dangerous monsters.
Left 4 Dead
Challenges: I hate dogs; I hate bugs
The challenge titles may be references to Francis from Left 4 Dead. The biker is famous for his "I hate ___" quotes.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Paint Scheme: Racer - Blue Blur
Sonic the Hedgehog is, as his name would suggest, a blue hedgehog. Sonic is capable of phenomenal speed, provided he doesn't stop or collide with anything. One of Sonic the Hedgehog's nicknames is 'The Blue Blur', and the Racer's Blue Paint-Scheme is thus named after him.
Super Mario Bros.
Achievement: My Brother is an Italian Plumber The eponymous "Mario Bros," Mario and Luigi are Italian heroes known for their roles in classic games. Mario and Luigi often vanquished enemies by jumping and landing on their foes' heads.
Gaming Jargon & Memes
In many RPGs, CORPGs and MMORPGs, players develop characters through a series of increasingly difficult levels. Thresholds in character development are marked by character levels and increases in level are often marked with a bell or electronic chime sound, a trend that began with EverQuest, the first commercially successful MMORPG. Players commonly mimic such sounds by verbalising, or typing, the word "Ding!" to announce their character's level increase to their teammates.
Group LF Healer
Some games, particularly MMORPGs, have support archetypal characters. These 'healers' are often highly valuable parts of a party's composition, resulting in many groups waiting for healers and advertising with lines such as, "Group LF Healer!" (Abbrev: Group looking for healer)
Mission: Dumpster Diving For Great Justice
Based on part of a popular internet meme stemming from poorly translated phrases in the game Zero Wing. The Japanese to English translation resulted in such sentences as, "All your base are belong to us". The phrase "For Great Justice" was supposed to be "Our hopes for the future..."
Mission: Athena Set Up Us The Bomb
The title of this mission likewise mimics the Zero Wing mistranslation, "Someone set up us the bomb."
Baby Got Back
Dahl Anaconda Description: Long and Strong
Reference to a line in the song, "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-A-Lot.
Fight For Your Right
Mission: Fight For Your Right To Part-E
A reference to the song, "Fight For Your Right" by the Beastie Boys.
I'm on a Boat
Achievement: You're on a boat!
A reference to the song I'm on a Boat by The Lonely Island.
I Want it All
Challenge: I want it all!
A reference to the song, "I Want it All" by Queen.
Achievement: Master Exploder
Is a reference to the song Master Exploder by Tenacious D.
Mission: Schemin' That Sabotage
Possibly a reference to the song Sabotage by The Beastie Boys, more specifically the line "You're Scheming On A Thing That's Sabotage".
Smoke on the Water
Eridian Weapon Description: Smoke on the water...
A reference to the song Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple.
Dahl Penetrator Description: Sniper Killer, Qu'est que c'est?
Reference to the song Psycho Killer by Talking Heads, using lyrics from the song's chorus.
The character's name may refer to the song "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" by the singer/songwriter Warren Zevon, especially given Roland's proficiency with machine guns.
Roland: "Getting better all the time!" (On level-up)
Reference to "Getting Better" by the Beatles.
The Roof is on Fire
Hellfire SMG weapon description: We don't need no water
Reference to the chorus of The Roof is on Fire by Rock Master Scott. The full chorus is "The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire. We don't need no water, let the motherfucker burn."
Another one bites the dust
A direct reference to the Queen song,"Another one bites the dust".
Arthur Treacher's Restaurant
Location: Treacher's Landing
Being a seafaring town, this may be a reference to Arthur Treacher's fast seafood restaurants.
Location: Trashy Knoll
The Grassy Knoll is a small, sloping hill inside the plaza that became famous following the John F. Kennedy assassination. The knoll was above President Kennedy and to his right (west and north) during the assassination. Several witnesses reported hearing shots from its direction. In Borderlands, the Trashy Knoll is a garbage heap located in the north-eastern part of the Rust Commons East. The Vault Hunters face Slither on the Trashy Knoll.
Road's End (Fort Knoxx road sign)
On Road's End, fighting the Crimson Lance on foot, there is a road sign:
"Fort Knoxx 20km"
Fort Knox is a United States Army post, famous for its proximity to the United States Bullion Depository. This so-called "impenetrable" vault in Kentucky holds a reported 8,133.5 tonnes of refined gold, worth nearly half a trillion US dollars.
TV and Film
2001: A Space Odyssey
Mission: It's a Trap... Clap
The "injured" Claptrap's rambling speech about knowing a little song, then singing "Daisy Bell," is a reference to the scene in "2001: A Space Odyssey" where Dave Bowman shuts down HAL the computer. This is itself a reference by director Stanley Kubrick to the first song sung by a computer in the late 50s or early 60s.
The phrase "It's A Trap" is also a meme, referencing Admiral Ackbar, from Star Wars.
A Christmas Story
Location: Hidden Basement
A secret room can be found in New Haven. Inside this room is a leg lamp. In the movie, The Old Man gets a lamp shaped like a leg. Furthermore, only in this basement can the Rider be found, another reference to this movie. In the movie, Ralph continuously asks for a Red Ryder BB Gun, to which everyone responds: "You'll shoot your eye out." The flavor text on this weapon (Careful... you might put someone's eye out. ) further adds to the reference.
Underdome wave 18: "Game over, man. Game over."
This is a quote from the character Hudson.
Back to the Future
Achievement: 1.21 Gigawatts
1.21 Gigawatts is the power requirement of a flux capacitor. Although in the Back to the Future movie series, from which the reference originated, it is pronounced as 1.21 Jiggawatts, leading some to believe it to be a much larger, fictional amount. However, the English dictionary pronunciation is as such.
Also, in DLC 4 after accepting the first mission from Patricia Tannis she says "I'm going to need a nuclear reaction to generate the 1.21-... Oh hey! Welcome to my secret lab." She doesn't say the word gigawatts but it is another 1.21 gigawatts reference to those paying enough attention.
Challenge: Boom goes the dynamite
19-year old Brian Collins has to replace the regular sports guy, but he fails horribly. One phrase from this broadcast turned into a meme, namely the phrase "Boom goes the dynamite."
Character: Bruce McClane
The name Bruce McClane is a combination of the name of the protagonist from Die Hard, Officer John McClane, and the actor who played him, Bruce Willis.
In DLC 4: Claptrap's New Robot Revolution, the Claptrap Partisans occasionally shout "Exterminate" as a battle cry. This is the same battle cry as the similarly-themed Dalek race.
Dukes of Hazzard
The General Flee colour on the runners is a reference to the iconic dodge charger The General Lee. The main colour of the body is the same and both feature numbers painted on the side (runners feature a 00 and the Lee features 01).
Weapon: Boom Stick
In the third movie of this series Bruce's character Ash wields a sawn-off shotgun he calls his "Boomstick". Also, the flavor text of this weapon is Beyond Groovy. "Groovy" is Ash's signature phrase.
Fabregé Organic Shampoo
Achievement: "And They'll Tell Two Friends..."
Fabregé Cosmetics ran a television ad for their line of organic shampoo in the 1980s. The famous line from the commercial went: "You'll tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends, and so on..." This quote has also become the slogan for the 'social marketing' advertising philosophy.
Character: Jaynis Kobb
Reference to the character Jayne Cobb from the TV show Firefly. In the seventh episode, "Jaynestown", the characters enter a mining town where the locals hail Jayne (who is a violent, amoral gunman who'd tried to steal money from the local magistrate years before) as a hero.
Reaver serves as a reference to the brutal race known as the Reavers in the series, one of his quotes, "It's time to paint this body with blood!" being a direct reference and accurate descriptor of the victim's fate after an encounter with the Reavers.
A particular brand of revolver in the game has the prefix "Mal" in its title, a reference to "Malcom Reynolds" (rountinely called Mal) the ship's captain. He is also well known for favoring a revolver as his gun of choice.
The town of New Haven could be a nod to the Town of Haven where Shepard Book had been living, and later died, in the movie Serenity which takes place after the end of the Firefly TV series.
Character: Zombie TK Baha
Dead T.K. talks about all the ways to cook brains, similar to when Benjamin Buford 'Bubba' Blue lists different ways to prepare shrimp.
Full Metal Jacket
Character: General Knoxx-Trap
One of the (sadly) reanimated General's quotes during his (happily) final battle is, "This is your rifle. That's your gun. My guess is you're shooting blanks from both." This refers to a chant used in the Marine Corps as a reminder that a rifle must never be called a gun. It's recited while holding a rifle with one hand and the groin area with the other; the Marine version ends, "This is for fighting. This is for fun." Although references occur in many pop culture venues, one of the most graphic is in the movie Full Metal Jacket, where recruits follow along during a demonstration by Gunnery Sargeant Hartman.
Character Dialogue: Claptrap (Enemy) - "Hey baby, wanna kill all humans?"
During the DLC "Claptrap's New Robot Revolution," some of the Claptrap enemies can be heard asking "Hey baby, wanna kill all humans?" amongst themselves. This is a reference to an episode of Futurama where Bender repeats this phrase while dreaming.
Character Dialogue: Patricia Tannis - "...the Omega 13 Device..."
During the DLC "Claptrap's New Robot Revolution," once the mission Are You From These Parts? has been completed Patricia Tannis in her office will say 'Fantastic! These parts should let me reroute the Omega 13 Device to the Snooze Button without sacrificing the nuclear payload! If you find any more, send them my way.' The Omega 13 Device plays a key role in the brilliant sci-fi Star Trek spoof Galaxy Quest with Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Sam Rockwell, Alan Rickman, Missy Pyle, Tony Shalhoub, Justin Long and more.
Character Dialogue: Mad Moxxi - "You... you've earned it."
Occasionally, during the Intermission while Moxxi drops party favors, she'll remark "You... you've earned it." In the movie Ghostbusters, Bill Murray's character (Dr. Peter Venkman) says exactly the same line while rewarding Egon Spengler with a Baby Ruth candy-bar.
The Mission brief for Parts Is Parts during Claptrap's New Robot Revolution states that 'Tannis needs more parts to ensure the protection grid holds on her device's ecto-containment unit, safeguarding against total protonic-reversal, which would be extraordinarily bad.'
Character Dialogue: Crazy Earl - "Gave me an offer I couldn't refuse"
When first meeting Crazy Earl explains is the reason for all the current defenses: "Krom heard about it and stopped by about a year ago. Gave me an offer I couldn't refuse. Why do you think I barricaded myself in here?", Just like Don Vito in Godfather Part I and in subsequent sequels
The names of these enemies refer to Godzilla, a giant monster, and Mothra, a giant moth, respectively.
Character Dialogue Marcus Kincaid - "Ayyyy! Welcome back!"
Sometimes, when entering his shop in Tartarus Station, Marcus says this quote. "Ayyyyyy!" is a famous quote by Fonzie from the TV show, "Happy Days."
Head and Shoulders
Quote - Sledge: "The burning lets you know its working!", upon being attacked with an incendiary weapon.
"The tingle lets you know its working!" is a quote from a well-known Head and Shoulders shampoo advertising campaign.
A claptrap repair kit can have the description "It's got what claptraps crave". This refers to the drink "Brawndo" that completely replaces water in the movie Idiocracy. The slogan for "Brawndo" is "It's got what X craves", where X could be replaced by anything.
Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade
Achievement: "You call this archaeology?"
In the movie, while fighting a Nazi officer, Indy's father (Henry Jones Sr., played by Sean Connery) spouts this line in protest of the uncharacteristically violent nature of his son's occupation.
Lilith resembles the titular character of the animated TV series, "Jem". They both appear as women with heavy make-up and they have bright colored hair. The achievement Truly Outrageous, which can only be acquired with Lilith, is a catch phrase; in the opening theme Jerrica states that Jem is "Truly Outrageous".
Character: Mad Mel
Before your showdown with Mad Mel, you are warned that he is a 'lethal weapon in any vehicle'. Mel Gibson plays Sgt. Martin Riggs in the movie Lethal Weapon.
Weapon: Torgue Friendly Fire
In Lethal Weapon, Martin Riggs upstages his veteran partner at the shooting range by firing a smiley-face pattern into a paper target at nearly twice the range before remarking "Have a nice day..."
Achievement: "Rootinest, Tootinest, Shootinest"
In Warner Brothers' 'Looney Tunes' franchise, the character of Yosemite Sam introduced himself thusly: "Ah'm the rootinest, tootinest, shootinest bob-tailed wildcat in the west!"
Character: Mad Mel
The name Mad Mel is an amalgamation of the names Mad Max, the titular character from the Mad Max series, series, and Mel Gibson, his actor. The look of Borderlands is also inspired in part by the dystopian setting of the Mad Max series.
Skill: Master Blaster
In the third Mad Max movie, two characters named The Master and The Blaster, who can combine into Master Blaster.
The title of the third Mad Max movie is Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, in which the protagonist is conscripted to fight in deathmatches in an arena called the Thunderdome.
Achievement: Can't We Get BEYOND Thunderdome?
This achievement is a direct reference to the third Mad Max movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
(See also the Mystery Science Theater Three Thousand reference, below, which cites a MST3K joke that itself references Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.)
The mission "Road Warriors:Bandit Apocalypse" in which the vault hunters must kill Mad Mel is probably a reference to the second Mad Max movie... "Mad Max:The Road Warrior"
The vehicle that Mad Mel drives is also very much in the style of Mad Max and different from other vehicles in the game.
The Madness of King George
Weapon: Atlas Cyclops
The flavor text "I have you in my eye, sir." is a quote from this movie.
Weapon: Whitting's Elephant Gun
The flavor text for this gun, "Why don't you go shoot yourself an Elephant" is a line spoken by Bugs Bunny to Elmer Fudd during the 1951 Merry Melody short "Rabbit Fire".
Achievement: There are some who call me... Tim
Upon being asked for his name by King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Tim the Enchanter answers with: "There are some who call me... Tim."
Weapon: Maliwan Crux
The flavor text for this gun, Bring out your Dead, is a quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail where a body cleaner is saying this phrase throughout the street.
Roland's Medic Phrase: "It's just a flesh wound!"
Roland states this phrase (among others) when he revives a team mate. This loosely refers to the Black Knight when he says "Just a flesh wound", despite having both his arms lopped off.
Said by Master McCloud or one of his cronies
"Death Is the Only Way Out" is a possible reference to Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, said by Cyrax.
Toasty - Get 250 kills with Incendiary attacks An allusion to a well known sound clip from the game Mortal Kombat. This sound clip happens occasionally when you uppercut your opponent, but is also the name of one of the fatalities of the fire ninja Scorpion.
Mystery Science Theater 3000
Achievement: Can't We Get BEYOND Thunderdome?
Refers to a joke referencing the movie Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, told by the robots Crow and Tom Servo in episode 706: Tom: "You see, if you live long enough, eventually, someone's going to say the word Thunderdome in your presence." Crow: "That's right, and I'm guessing most of you aren't equipped with a snappy comeback." Tom: "Well..." Crow: "We're gonna give you one." Tom: "We'll act it out for you. Ahem... Boy, I still think we really screwed up on that whole Thunderdome-fiasco." Crow: "Oh, come on, can't we get BEYOND Thunderdome?" This scene can be seen here.
Night of the Living Dead
Mission: Night of the Living Ned
The mission "Night of the Living Ned" is based on the title of George Romero's famous zombie cult classic "Night of the Living Dead".
Not Without My Daughter
Mission: Not Without My Claptrap
This mission may be a reference to Resident Evil Apocalypse, wherein Dr. Ashford refuses to flee Raccoon City without his daughter, Angie. This may also be a reference to other movies or series, such as Pirates of the Caribbean and South Park. It's also likely a reference to the 1991 Sally Field movie, Not Without My Daughter.
Mission: Old Spicy
This mission, in which you gather skag musk glands and rakk hive ambergris so Marcus can "brew up a truly potent cologne," is a reference to a brand of "Man Fresheners" which includes cologne.
Mission: I've Got A Sinking Feeling...
The names of the ships you have to sink (Righteous Man, Great Vengeance and Furious Anger) refer to the fictionalized version of Ezekiel 25:17 Samuel L. Jackson's character recites. This scene can be found here.
Mission: Ned's undead, baby, Ned's undead
Reference to the line "Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead." This scene can be seen here.
Quote: I'll take pleasure in gutting you, boy A random enemy may shout this phrase, referring to the movie, "The Rock" where the same phrase was shouted (not to be mistaken for the professional wrestler portrayed by Dwayne Johnson).
The Royal Tenenbaums
In the movie, Richie has a pet falcon called Mordecai. This is also reflected in Mordecai having a pet Bloodwing, a bird not too different from a falcon.
The Running Man
Quote: "Who loves you and who do you love?"
Character: Mad Moxxi
In the movie The Running Man, Richard Dawson's character, Damon Killian, uses this phrase as his catch phrase during the movie. Mad Moxxi uses this phrase at different times during any round.
Saturday Night Live
Enemies: Hanz and Franz
Hanz and Franz are based on Hans and Franz, two characters from "Pumping Up with Hans and Franz". They spoofed Arnold Schwarzenegger by using padding for fake muscles, drab gray sweatsuits, weight belts, and Austrian accents. They are known for saying "We are here to, pump you up".
Mission: Earl's Best Friend
Quote: "Those bandits wouldn't know how to clean up his little Skrappy-doos."
Character: Crazy Earl
Skrappy's name may be a reference to Scrappy Doo from the Scooby Doo television series.
Mission: Here We Go Again
The mission is a sly nod to the famous children's television series "Scooby-Doo" In which it seems Harry is "Shaggy" from the series and Skaggy is "Scooby-Doo".
Menu Screen: Claptrap
Claptrap hums, "Nooney-nooney-noon..." as he rolls by in the background of the Menu Screen. This is a possible reference to the Typerwriter Cartoon from classic 1970's era Sesame Street.
Achievement: Pandora-dog Millionaire
In the movie, a boy from the slums, who manages to make a lot of money from a television quiz show. To get this achievement, you'll have to collect $1,000,000, similar to how the slumdog from the movie earns a lot of money from the show.
One of the tips that appear on the loading screen is a reminder that if you use a fire weapon against a fire skag, you're "going to have a bad time." This is a reference to the South Park episode "Asspen," where the main characters are told by a ski instructor that if they do any number of incorrect things, they're "going to have a bad time."
Location: Ludicrous Speedway
In the movie, there is a speed "Ludicrous speed", which is faster than both Light speed and "Ridiculous speed". A reference to Spaceballs
Challenge: Hot! Too Hot!!
Reference to the scene where Dark Helmet is drinking coffee and exclaims "HOT! TOO HOT!"
Challenges: Who made that man a gunner? and Keep firing
In this scene Dark Helmet first comments on the gunner, telling him "shoot across her nose, not up it." Upon finding out the gunner is crossed eyed, he asks: "Who made that man a gunner?" Later in the same scene, after finding out everyone (but one man) on the bridge has the surname "Asshole", Dark Helmet directs them to "keep firing, Assholes!"
Dr. Ned-Trap: "Dammit, Claptrap. I'm a doctor, not a mechanic."
In the mission "Operation Trap Claptrap Trap, Phase Two: Industrial Revolution", Dr Ned-Trap says this line referring to Dr. Leonard McCoy from Star Trek who often said lines like "Damn it Jim, I'm a doctor not a (magician/mind reader/mechanic/accountant)."
Taylor Kobb: "a hive of scum and villainy"
Obi-Wan Kenobi calls the Mos Eisley space port "a wretched hive of scum and villainy" in the original Star Wars movie, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
The opening scene, where Clap Trap hits his head on the opening gate of Fyrestone is similar to the Storm Trooper hitting his head on the door of the Death Star as they enter the room with C3P0 and R2-D2 (though it could just simply be an unrelated bit of slapstick comedy).
Mission: It's a Trap... Clap
The mission title references Admiral Akbar's famous line "It's a trap!" in Return of the Jedi, which became a popular meme.
Super Market Sweep
The mission Super-Marcus Sweep has a similar name to the title of the game show "super Market sweep"
This Is Spinal Tap
The dials on Marshall amplifiers typically have a number range from zero to ten. In the mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap Guitarist Nigel Tufnel boasts that the dials on his amps all go to eleven. This forms the inspiration for the level cap increase by 11 in The Secret Armory of General Knoxx.
Challenge: How Much For The Gun?
In the scene where Louis is in the pawn shop trading in his expensive watch, he notices a revolver and asks the pawn broker, "How much for the gun?"
Challenge: Human Tsunami
A two-fold reference to Trigun. The main character was famed (albeit falsely) for being the first humanoid localized natural disaster, resulting in him being nicknamed "The Humanoid Typhoon" due to the unnatural aura of destruction that seemed to follow him. In addition, he also had an advanced prosthetic left arm with a SMG hidden in it that he could use. This challenge has players kill 2,500 enemies with SMG's. 
Challenge: "My kung fu is best!"
Kevin Mitnick is a computer security consultant and author, and during the late 20th century, was convicted of various computer and communications technology-related crimes. Prior to his arrest, Kevin left the voice-mail message "My kung-fu is best!" to taunt the investigators attempting to apprehend him.
Challenge: Nikola is a friend of mine
Nikola Tesla was a famed inventor in the 19th and 20th centuries, perhaps best known for his advancements in commercial electricity, and, by extension, the Tesla coil. Tesla coils are now used primarily for entertainment, as they can send out huge bolts of electricity into the air when turned on.
Brick's skill, "Sting like a Bee" is a reference to one of Muhammad Ali's most famous quotes, "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."
Crazy Earl has a moustache identical to Adolf Hitler's. Despite also being worn by comedy icon Charlie Chaplin, the social stigma now associated with the tiny, little moustache means only the most maladjusted would ever wear one again.
The image of Claptrap's New Robot Revolution has a claptrap that looks like Fidel Castro.
Some images can be found in DLC 4 with a picture of Claptrap that say "CH4NGE", a reference to Obama's 2008 campaign poster.
J. Robert Oppenheimer
Challenge: I am Become Death
"Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds," is a famous quote from J. Robert Oppenheimer, who directed the Manhattan Project, the project by the United States government that created the first atomic bomb. The quote itself originates from the Hindu text Bhagavad Gita, but in Western culture it is known much more for its association with nuclear weapons.
General George S. Patton
Weapon: Atlas Patton
General Patton was known for saying, 'May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't.' This is the flavor text for The Patton.
General Patton was also known for owning a pair of flashy, nickel-plated revolvers with ivory handgrips: one a .45 Cap-and-Ball Colt Peacemaker, and the other a .357 Smith and Wesson Model 27 In Borderlands, The Patton always spawns with a silver-colored body and an ivory-white grip.
Governments and Nations
In God We Trust
Graffiti: "IN GUN WE TRUST"
Some graffiti throughout Borderlands says "IN GUN WE TRUST". The phrase is also visible printed on the lids of green ammunition chests next to the gun logo if you look closely.
Republic A-10 "Thunderbolt II"
Paint Scheme: Runner - Mean Green
The red maw and jagged, shark-like teeth on the driver's pod of a Runner with a 'Mean Green' paint-scheme is similar to the pattern on the A-10 attack plane currently used by the United States.
This paint job is also similar to the WW2 P40 Warhawk of Flying Tigers fame.
The planet Pandora was named possibly after one of Saturn's moons. There are 61 moons around Saturn, which is the same number as the level cap in General Knoxx.
Several names within the game seem inspired by some of Saturn's moons. The corporations Atlas, and Hyperion and the planets Prometheus and Pandora all share a name with a satellite of Saturn.
Pandora could also be named after the first woman, Pandora, from Greek myth. Much like the woman Pandora and the box she opens to released all the evils upon the world, the planet Pandora has the Vault which is revealed to also house unspeakable evil inside of it. Pandora has a human colony that corrupts and is corrupted by a new world.
Atlas, Hyperion, Prometheus are all titans in Greek Mythology.