Part of the show's ad campaign before the series aired included billboard ads with Earl's picture and one of the items from his list printed on the billboard (for example, "Cheated my way through the seventh grade...twice", "Stole a car from a one-legged girl", "Faked my death to break up with a girl" et cetera.), with the tag line "...I'm sorry".
The items in Earl's list shown during the opening sequence read as follows: - 56: Stole liquor from liquor store. - 57: Told Joy Dan Dodd messed himself on the (rest cut out of frame). - 58: Fixed a high school football game. - 59: Everything I did to Dad. - 60: Pulled fire alarm - 61: Stole Mom's car (but I gave it back). - 62: Faked death to break-up with a girl. - 63: Wasted electricity. - 64: Spray painted the bridge. - 65: Cost Dad the election. - 66: Let mice out at school play. - 67: Stole beer from a golfer. - 68: Blew up mailboxes. 69: Cheated on school tests a lot.
The intended ending of this show, as stated by Series Creator Gregory Thomas Garcia would have been that Earl was going to get stuck on a difficult list item, and then quit. A few months would pass, until one day, he runs into somebody who also has a list with Earl on it. Earl realizes that his list has given other people the same idea. He then concludes that he has made the world a better place, and puts his list away for good, before walking into the sunset.
Big Chubby, played by Burt Reynolds, is the father of Little Chubby, who is played by Norm MacDonald. Norm repeatedly impersonated Reynolds on Saturday Night Live (1975), and used the same clothing from his parodies on this show.
Every time Earl's picture (or otherwise graven image) is taken, his eyes are closed. This is considered to be a nod to Forrest Gump (1994), in which every photograph of Forrest shows him with his eyes closed.
In season two, episode three, "Sticks and Stones", Earl says, "He even taught me how to ride a skateboard without falling off and scraping my knees." (and Earl is seen struggling to ride a skateboard in the next clip). However, Jason Lee, who plays Earl, is a professional skateboarder, who mainly skated in the late 80s and early 90s, and is co-owner of Stereo Skateboards.
When Earl and Randy are returning the items they stole from the convenience store, Earl refers to it as the Quick Stop, the store made famous in Clerks (1994), and referenced in the other movies, in which Jason Lee and Ethan Suplee appeared.
The close-up of Earl's driver license shows he lives in Pimmit Hills Trailer Park, Space C-13, Camden County. His date of birth is 4/25/1970 (Jason Lee's birthday), his height is 6'1", his weight is 190 pounds, his eyes (closed in the picture, of course) and hair are brown, and he is an organ donor. It's a class 1 license, #023052378, expiring on 4/25/2009, issued on 4/25/1970?
Gregory Thomas Garcia first pitched the show to FOX, which passed on it. About eighteen months later, executives at NBC got interested after reading the pilot script that Garcia had sent to several networks.
Although Jason Lee and Ethan Suplee had worked together before, Producer Gregory Thomas Garcia didn't discover Suplee because of that, he discovered him while watching the DVD version of Without a Paddle (2004), because another actor in it had been recommended to him. What convinced Garcia to bring Suplee in for an audition, were comments about him he heard on the DVD's commentary track. One of the actors in the commentary told the story of a dispute between the film's Director Steven Brill and Suplee. The scene the actor described, was one where Suplee's character was supposed to be pointing a gun at some people Suplee and others had captured. The commentary noted that Suplee had insisted that he shouldn't point his gun at them after all, since in Suplee's mind, it had taken so long to capture the people, that it had given the character time to rethink his motives. Suplee got his way in the scene, over Brill's objections. The fact that Suplee would think so much about such a small detail, was enough to get him an audition. Garcia and the show's writers have subsequently used Suplee's attention to detail to the show's advantage, in various "pestered by a bee" background activities that Suplee's character does in various scenes. The first such scene was an improvisation in the pilot, where Suplee is looking up at the ceiling with his mouth open.
In the episode, "Nature's Game Show", when Joy loads Darnell into the wagon after he is thrown through the wall of a trailer, he says, "Mambo dogface to the banana patch," which is taken from a live stand-up comedy album from Steve Martin in the '70s.
The character Darnell Turner in the show, is part of the Witness Protection Program, and his original name is Harry Monroe. In season two, episode seven, his past is found out by his wife, and he is kicked out of his house by her, for not telling her or anybody about his past. Later, he is allowed back in, and his children ask him to tell them a bedtime story, and he tells them about the story of Harry Monroe.
In season two, episode twenty-one, the song "Low Rider" is used. This song was also used in Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000), which stars Giovanni Ribisi and Timothy Olyphant, both of which play characters on this show.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
On October 1, 2013, Gregory Thomas Garcia participated in an AMA. A fan asked "who was Earl, Jr.'s real father, and did Earl ever finish the list?" Garcia replied that Earl, Jr.'s real father would have been someone famous like Dave Chappelle or Lil John, with whom Joy slept, and that Earl was never going to finish the list. He would have been stuck on a list item and would get frustrated, until he runs into someone with a list where Earl was on. He asks the person from where they got the idea, and the person says they got the idea from someone else, who also had a list. Earl then realizes his list has started a chain reaction of people who also made lists to make up all of their wrongs, and that he's put some good into the world. So Earl would tear up his list, and go live his life, walking into the sunset a free man, with good karma.
Gregory Thomas Garcia's next show Raising Hope (2010), a newscast in the background of the pilot episode mentions a "local man" who "finally finished" going through his list of wrongs that he had committed.
Several times throughout the series, the worker man Joy accidentally kidnapped and kept locked in a truck in Season 2 - Ep. 1 appears. One time was in Season 2 - Ep. 12, 'Our Cops Is On' in which he appeared at the carnival, and another time was in Season 3 - Ep. 2, 'My Name Is Inmate #28301-016: Part 2' in which he was at work and thought Glen was gonna rob him.