IMDb catalogs 305,000 feature-length films, 1.7 million television episodes and about 308,000 shorts. We pulled this data in January for FiveThirtyEight’s Vanity Fair feature, so there may have been shifts in the numbers in the interim. In our dataset, 9,600 unique “Reference to ___” tags appeared a total of 51,000 times.
I pulled the list of keywords with this style to see which ones were the most pervasive in the IMDb dataset. I plan to look later at individual categories — for example, who are the most commonly referenced politicians, artists or religious figures? — but for now, here are the top 20 referenced people or things in movies, television shows, and other media cataloged by IMDb.