There are several references throughout the show to Doctor Who (2005). In "The Bank Shot Job," Hardison expresses his frustration at the amount of time it took him to torrent the latest episode of Doctor Who. In "The Mile High Job," the aliases given are all references to Doctor Who; Nate's aliases are Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy and Tom Baker who are actors that all portrayed the Doctor. Sophie's alias is Sarah Jane Baker, a reference to Sarah Jane Smith who was one of the Doctor's companions in the classic series. In "The 12-Step Job", Nate again uses the alias Tom Baker, while Parker uses Rose, the name of another one of the Doctor's companions. In "The Three-Card Monty Job," Hardison and Eliot assume the aliases Detective Moffat and Detective Davies. Steven Moffat and Russell T Davies are two of the executive producers and head writers of the rebooted Doctor Who series. In "The Radio Job," when Parker is theorizing about how Nate's dad went back in time to 1963, a version of the 1960s Doctor Who theme plays in the cutaway scene; 1963 is the year that the original Doctor Who series began. Just after the cutaway scene in the same episode, Parker points to Hardison's bow tie and asks what he's wearing. Hardison answers, "It's a bow tie, bow ties are cool," which is a catch phrase of the 11th incarnation of the Doctor. In the second part of the season 5 summer finale, "The Frame Up Job," Sophie and Jim Sterling go by the aliases "Agent Tennant" and "Agent Smith" which are references to actors David Tennant and Matt Smith who play the 10th and 11th incarnations of the Doctor respectively. Sophie also says "Spoilers!" which is a catchphrase of Doctor Who character River Song. In "The White Rabbit Job," Sophie refers to herself as Sally Sparrow, a character featured in the Doctor Who episode "Blink." In the season five finale and overall series finale, Parker uses the alias Detective Tennant, again a reference to actor David Tennant, the 10th incarnation of the Doctor.
Christian Kane, who plays Eliot Spencer, played Lindsey McDonald in Angel (1999). Sam Anderson, who played his boss in Angel, plays Henry Retzing, one of their marks, in the episode "The Snow Job." Kane and Anderson say that they exchanged a wink on camera as a reference to this in one scene.
Though the show is set in Boston, it was actually filmed in Portland, Oregon. In The Three Strikes Job when Eliot is impersonating a baseball player he makes a reference to having played in Portland. Moreover, the ballpark they are stealing, PGE Park, and the Beavers are in fact Portland's baseball team. In season five, the Leverage team finally makes their move to Portland in the show as they film there anyway.
At the beginning of the Two Live Crew Job, when Nate and Sophie are masquerading as two police detectives, they introduce themselves as Marlowe and Archer. These are the last names of two well known fictional detectives, Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe and Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer.
Parker is named after the famous fictional conman Parker, created by Donald Westlake under the pen name Richard Stark. Just as in the novels, Parker is only ever referred to as "Parker". No first (or possibly last) name is ever given, though both the Leverage character and the one from the novels is known by many aliases.
Richard Chamberlain is in two episodes as the character Archie Leach. That is also the name of the character played by John Cleese in "A Fish Called Wanda." Cary Grant's birth name was Archibald Alexander Leach.
While running the wire in The Bottle Job (Season 2) the announcer refers to one of the basketball players as Arnie Risen. There is a real Arnie Risen, who played for the Celtics in the 1950s. He was a center, and is a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
While the Parker in Leverage is a tribute to the Donald Westlake character, somewhat more faithful versions of Parker have been played by Lee Marvin (Walker in Point Blank), Mel Gibson (Porter in Payback) and Jason Statham (Parker in Parker), among others.