FTL contains numerous references to other works.
- Star Trek:
- Tough Little Ship (quote from Willliam T. Riker about the USS Defiant)
- The United Federation (reference to United Federation of Planets)
- Bird of Prey (Klingon Bird-of-Prey warship class)
- Rule Ten: Greed is Eternal (direct quote of Star Trek's Ferengi Rules of Acquisition)
- Givin' her all she's got Captain! (Scotty from Star Trek, the original series)
- No Redshirts Here (reference to original series' disposable crewmembers)
- Star Wars:
- The guns... They've stopped (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, during the attack on the Death Star)
- Other achievement name references:
- Atreyu, the protagonist of the book/movie The Neverending Story. Atreyu is also the name of an American metalcore band.
- Dr. Jones, the main protagonist of the Indiana Jones franchise.
- Notch, the developer of Minecraft. This is because when the game was being funded on Kickstarter, the first 100 people to donate $100 or more had their name added to the crew roster, and Notch was one of these people.
- GMFaux, another Kickstarter donator.
- yeoz, another Kickstarter donator ("zoey" backwards)
- Mike Weston, the burned (fired) spy from the American TV show Burn Notice.
- Ohm (shortened form of Ohmwrecker), the YouTube Let's Player who, on camera, beat the supposedly impossible boss in the final sector (sector 2) in the alpha version of the game.
- Xemu, programmer for Robot Entertainment, who made Hero Academy and Orcs Must Die.
- Dolan, the main character of a popular internet meme.
- Velaryen, very similar to House Velaryon and/or the Valyrian language from the novel series A Song of Ice and Fire. May have been altered for copyright reasons.
- Davion, named after the Inner Sphere House in the Battletech universe.
- Turing, presumably named after Alan Turing, one of the founders of the fields of computer science and artificial intelligence, who proposed the experiment that came to be known as the Turing Test.
- Garrus, the name of a squad member from the Mass Effect series.
- Butters, a character from the popular television show South Park.
- Alex Rigopulos, the CEO of Harmonix Music Systems.
- Artyom, the Russian protagonist from the Metro game series.
- Magmar, a villain from the 1986 cartoon GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords, voiced by Telly Savalas. Magmar is also, oddly enough, the name of a Pokemon from the pokemon series.
- Mikhail, the Russian firearm engineer.
- Scoops (Steve Gaynor), Remo (Chris Remo) and Breckon (Nick Breckon), members of Idle Thumbs.
Ships and ship names
- The Kestrel Cruiser is a reference to the Escape Velocity series by Ambrosia. Also a spacefaring simulator, The Kestrel is the popular and most powerful civilian ship available in Escape Velocity and returns as a powerful endgame ship in Escape Velocity: Nova available upon game completion.
- Layout B of the Rock Cruiser (Shivan) is possibly named after the Shivan race in the game Freespace. The color scheme is evidence of this, although the Shivan race in that game utilizes more shielding than armor, in contrast to the Rock ships. (Not entirely true. Note: Shivan bombers have enormous amount of armor plating, especially the Nephilim class which is really hard to shoot down with shields down, even with missiles)
- Layout A of the Crystal Cruiser (Bravais) is named after a Bravais lattice - a mathematical method of describing/representing a crystal structure and the points within it.
- Layout B of the Zoltan ship (Noether) is named for Emmy Noether, a groundbreaking mathematician and physicist.
- The Nesasio is probably designed after Mass Effect's SSV Normandy, as both are stealth-themed ships, share a similar delta form, and have similar room layouts (FTL's being a simpler version).
- The Kestrel (Kestrel A), Red-Tail (Kestrel B), The Swallow (Kestrel C), The Osprey (Federation A), The Fregatidae (Federation C), The Shrike (Lanius B), and The Nesasio (Stealth A) all share their names with a bird or a bird genus. The Gila Monster (Mantis A) is a species of venomous lizard, Ariolimax (Slug C) is the genus of the banana slug, and a Basilisk (Mantis B) is a legendary reptile.
- The Shrike could also be a reference to the almost mythical mechanical terror from Dan Simmon's Hyperion cantos, especially considering the resemblance between it and the Lanius. Shrike is also a killer robot in book Mortal Engines, and it has knife-like claws in both its hands.
- Nisos (Fed B) was king of Megara, and Simo-H (Stealth C) is a shortened version of Simo Häyhä, who was a Finnish sniper.
- Theseus (Mantis C) was the mythical founder of Athens; furthermore, the eponymous Ship of Theseus refers to a ship which had all of its parts replaced, but still considered the same ship - a situation which is bound to happen to your boarding party, as the ship is outfitted with a clone bay.
- A Torus (Engi A), Vortex (Engi B), and Tetragon (Engi C) are all geometric terms that describe the shape of the ship: a torus is donut-like, vortices loop around many times, and tetragons are four-sided.
- Cerenkov (Zoltan C) could be a reference to the physicist or radiation (Cherenkov radiation is caused by particles moving faster than light in a medium).
- Bulwark (Rock A), Tektite (Rock C), and Carnelian (Crystal B) are types of minerals.
- The Man of War (Slug A) is both a kind of warship and a kind of jellyfish., in reference to the warship resembling a jellyfish.
- Several beam weapons are named after polearms, a category of spear-like weapons known for their long reach:
- Several missiles are named for Greek myth:
- There is a number of events that didn't make it into the final version of the game. Some of them are listed here: Events Commented Out.
- More insights about the cut content can be found on this website.
- "Lanius" is Latin for "Butcher".
- Lanius ships, especially the non-player ones, look very similar to the Shadow Ships from Babylon 5.
- When renaming a ship, entering a blank string automatically renames it "The Nameless One."
- In a random encounter with a pirate, the pirate will refer to himself as The Dread Pirate Tuco, a reference to The Dread Pirate Roberts from the book and film "The Princess Bride."
- Tuco was the name of Eli Wallach's character (The Ugly) in well-known Spaghetti Western "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly."
- The visual effect during an FTL jump (a bright flash of light that travels along the length of the ship) bears a striking resemblance to the FTL jump effect in the remade Battlestar Galactica series.
- In a random mission, you will come to a station and when asking to refuel, the station's respond will be, "Go away! We don't serve your kind here! (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, during the cantina scene, a quote from the bartender to R2-D2 and C-3PO)
- If you run out of fuel and wait, one of the ships that finds you is described as a modified YT-1300 Freighter obviously used for smuggling. This is a reference to the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars.