In one scene, the Gingerbread Man's life essentially passes before his eyes. Not only does this scene make reference to The Six Million Dollar Man (1974), but according to the sequence, the Gingerbread Man is, or was, married.
Eric Idle, upon seeing the "coconuts as horse hoof sound effects" segment in the stage show scene, admonished the makers of the film publicly. He claimed they were ripping off Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and "stealing" their joke. He perhaps failed to realize that coconuts have been used as horse hoof beats since the days of radio - whence Monty Python were no doubt inspired.
The Worcestershire school band playing All Star in the pep rally was performed by a real high school band for authenticity. The song All Star was also used in the first film. The cheerleaders routine was also based on footage of a local high school cheer-leading squad.
When Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews) is stunned from knocking down the prison wall, she sings "My Favorite Things", as well as "With a Spoon Full of Sugar", which were performed by Andrews in The Sound of Music (1965) and Mary Poppins (1964) respectively.
The music used when the Princesses attack the castle is Led Zeppelin's "The Immigrant Song" and Heart's "Barracuda." Led Zeppelin are very hesitant in use their songs for commercial purposes. The other film where this song appears is School of Rock (2003). The soundtrack album, however, features a remake of "Barracuda" by Fergie.
As Artie is giving his speech, when leaving his school, he says he's "building his city on rock and roll". This is a modified line in reference to, and taken from, rock band Starship's 1985 hit "We Built This City". The actual line in the song goes "We built this city on rock and roll."
During the first attack by the villains, Fiona, the Queen, and the Princesses are wanting to escape into the sewers. Fiona goes to a wall, where there is a three-panel bas-relief of a frog, a Princess, and a horse. The frog has its lips extended to kiss the Princess, and the Princess is leaning down to kiss the frog. As Fiona pushes on the horse, the center panel moves back into the wall, and the right panel moves to the left, so that it ends up with the frog kissing the rear end of the horse.
From a list of stats reported in Famous magazine: - It took 1,000,000 man-hours to complete the film with a crew size of 150. - Of the 4,500 costumes that were designed for the film only 2,500 actually made it into the final cut. - 1,373 characters are present in the theater scene with Prince Charming performing. This is recorded as the largest crowd scene of all three Shrek movies. - There are 23 key fairy tale characters that appear through out the film and a total of 4,378 generic characters that were available for the animators to pull from library when making crowd scenes. - 62,173 branches per tree with 191,545 leaves per tree. - As for bricks, there are 1,602 bricks making up the docks and 3,196 bricks making up the sewer walls the Princesses use as escape. A total of 60 new "environments" were created for the movie.
In Shrek 2 (2004), Fiona has a Justin Timberlake poster above her bed. The animators had no clue that Cameron Diaz (Fiona) was dating Timberlake at the time. In Shrek the Third (2007), Timberlake plays the voice of her cousin Arthur. By the release of this film, Diaz and Timberlake have split up.
The stain glass window in the background of the knighting scene, is a reference to St. George slaying the last dragon in England. It is also a reference to a Prince slaying a dragon to save a Princess, or, in the case of Shrek, an ogre.
In the scene where Shrek enters the school assembly, on each of the walls behind him on the entrance side are panels from the Bayeux Tapestry, depicting the 1066 Battle of Hastings and William the Conqueror's invasion of England.
The Evil Queen from Snow White in this film, is voiced by Susanne Blakeslee, who oddly enough, had been the current voice of that character in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) at the time, but she does a different sort of voice for this film.
With this film and Shrek 2 (2004), Prince Charming is the only antagonist in the franchise to appear in two films. In the previous film he was the secondary antagonist, while here he is the main antagonist.
Marks the voice acting debut of Maya Rudolph in a theatrical film. Later she'd go onto voicing Burn in Turbo (2013), Precious in the Nut Job films, Cass in Big Hero 6 (2014), Matilda in the Angry Birds Movie films, and Smiler in The Emoji Movie (2017) in the following years.
This was Eddie Murphy's first animated film to be released by Paramount Pictures, the studio with which he had an exclusive contract early in his career. But in 2014, Paramount sold its distribution rights to the pre-2013 DreamWorks Animation theatrical library back to that company, who then licensed these rights to the company's current partner, 20th Century Fox, whose best-known association with Murphy is the Dr. Dolittle franchise.
Seth Rogen and experienced voice actor Jim Cummings, who both voiced Captains in separate films of the Shrek franchise (Cummings in the first film and Rogen in this film), both also appeared in an iteration of The Lion King. Cummings was in the original traditionally animated film, The Lion King (1994), as Ed, whilst Rogen was in the live action reboot, The Lion King (2019), as Pumbaa.
During the scene where the princesses escape the is a carving visible of a woman, who is standing next to the rear of a horse, about to kiss a frog however when Fiona pushes a statue of the horse to the left the woman disappears leaving the frog (Who is presumably her father) kissing the horses rear.
During the scene where the magical creatures and Prince Charming storm the castle, amidst the mayhem a group of creatures change a sign from Booters to Hooters, at which point a group of men run in cheering.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
When Artie gives his speech at the end, asking the villains what they really wanted to do, the Wicked Queen from Snow White says she wanted to open a spa in France. In a book called "Politically Correct Fairytales", a satire that alters famous fairy tales to politically correct standards, Snow White ends with her and her stepmother, the Wicked Queen, doing just that.