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7 Hidden Clues/Humor You Might Have Missed in Knives Out.[Spoilers!]

So far, the RunPee Family watched Knives Out 7 times combined to do the Peetimes. Yes, it’s that hard! The movie is filled with clue Easter eggs. Like one of the characters says, “This guy pretty much lives in a clue board.”

Watching it the second time the next day, I noticed so many things I overlooked the first time. Some of them are just impossible to spot the first time because a significant plot distracts you. I can’t wait to share my findings, so let’s dive right into it!

#1 The Baseball
This is the finding that makes me most proud. The arc of the baseball contributes not to the main murder case plotline, but the “Linda-Richard” relationship. Here’s the trip the baseball took:

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  • Richard first threw the baseball out of Harlan’s office window after finding out the letter he threatened to send to Linda is a blank paper — he felt played.
  • In the next scene, Detective Blanc notices the baseball and picks it up.
  • The next day, the dogs come to Blanc, drops the piece of wood from the wall frame, and bites on the baseball he was holding at the time. Blanc throws the ball for the dog to retrieve. But before the dog comes back, he notices the piece of wood and gets distracted.
  • The dog still has the baseball in its mouth a day later, at the family gathering requested by Marta. They thought she’s going to renounce the inheritance. The dog sits next to Linda. Linda recognizes baseball and takes it from the dog. She goes to put the baseball back to her father’s office. Notices the letter opened by Richard. Thus, finding out Richard’s affair.

See the full circle here? The director brilliantly made Richard bringing it all to himself.

Read more about the Baseball story here.

#2 The “Extra Bowl”
Remember the scene where Ransom (Chris Evans) and Marta sit down in a restaurant after the will is read? Ransom asked for an “extra bowl” from the waitress — for Marta to puke in later. I didn’t notice it even the second time, but Dan did.

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#3 Where Is Marta from?
You probably get the symbolic immigrates subtext the first watch. But do you remember where Marta is from? Different characters describe her as from Ecuador, Brazil, and Uruguay — and perhaps a few others I forgot. The intention is clear: nobody of the Thrombeys’ family really cared.

Read more about the political subplot in Knives Out here.

#4 Secret Messages
Yes, it was revealed at the end of the movie, that it’s a father-daughter game to use invisible ink as Harlan and Linda’s secret form of communication. But the director had actually given us a clue before that. When Linda was in her room reading the letters from her father over the years, if you look closely, you will notice the burn traces.

#5 “Dogs are the best judge of characters.”
Yes, it’s so blunt that you won’t believe it the first time watching it. But it’s that simple. The movie starts with a scene of dogs running on the lawn. The dogs interacted with three main characters. Marta, Ransom, and Linda. They are very friendly towards Marta and Linda and aggressive with Ransom. If you look back at each of the characters, Marta is the kindest. Linda is the only one in the family that actually cares. (She looks down on her brother, but still protects him in front of the police) And Ransom? I don’t need to tell you about Ransom.

#6 What’s With The Donut?
The whole “Donut speech” delivered by Daniel Craig at the end of the movie is just so brilliantly funny. But why the donut? I have a wild guess. The director takes the genre — “whodunnit” — and turns it into a wordplay. “Dunnit”, “Donut”. Yes?

Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but since we’re having fun… The throne of knives forms a donut. When the detectives interview the characters they sit in the chair in front of the knives, ostensibly “filling the donut hole.”

#7 Stage prop
Last but not least. On the faithful night of Harlan’s death, as Marta gives him his medications he talks about his children and their problems. While talking about Ransom he picks up a knife and removes it from its sheath, and says, “There is so much of me in that kid: confident, stupid, protected. Playing life like a game without consequences. Until you can’t tell the difference between a stage prop and a real knife.” Then he stabs the knife into the tabletop. Of course in the climax of the movie Ransom tries to stab Marta with a stage prop.

Did you spot any other hidden clues? Let us know in the comments below.

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51 responses to “7 Hidden Clues/Humor You Might Have Missed in Knives Out.[Spoilers!]”

  1. Dave Wiener Avatar
    Dave Wiener

    Another Easter Egg involving the ball that is thrown by actor’s first name Don, who plays character with last name Drysdale: Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale!

    1. How cute! I never would have gotten that one! This movie is truly filled with easter eggs. Thanks for sharing!

      1. I was Thiiiiiiis close — I was watching the dogs, not the ball. They did NOT like Ransom. I jotted down who they didn’t like. These things are never random and a good reason to see this twice!

        Did you hear the dog bark sounds at that end?

  2. How about the blood on Marta’s shoe? Where did it come from?

    1. I was wondering about that myself. Detective Blanc said he noticed it right away but she didn’t come anywhere near the body. And even if she does have blood on her shoe: she’s a nurse. That shouldn’t be a surprise. I think that was just sort of a writing blunder that shouldn’t have been in the script.

    2. Joshua Garner Avatar
      Joshua Garner

      it was over spray from the blood splatter after Harlan Thrombey slits his throat.

      1.  Avatar

        But Marta wasn’t in the room when Harlan slid his throat

        1.  Avatar

          Yes she was. See actually saw him do it.

        2.  Avatar

          Yes, she was. When she snuck back into the house and went into his study he was still alive, but only seconds later he slit his own throat, and a stray drop of spray landed on her shoe. There’s a single flashback scene showing exactly this.

  3. Steve Valeri Avatar
    Steve Valeri

    Ransom and Marta sit down in the restaurant with Gordon Lightfoot’s Sundown lyrics playing “Sundown you better take care, If I find you been creepin’ ’round my back stairs”

    1. Nice catch! Listening to the song right now btw. 🙂

  4. Keith Freeman Avatar
    Keith Freeman

    The 2nd time Blanc talks to Marta, he mentions “foot” or “feet” several times, e.g. “The game is afoot”, etc. I’m thinking that’s a hint that he already noticed the blood on her shoe.

  5. Why did Harlan kill himself? Was it just to be sure Marta got the inheritance?

  6. Both him and Marta thought she overdosed him with Morphine injection by accident. To save Marta from serious charges of his imminent death, he had to make it look like a suicide, by actually commit a suicide.

  7.  Avatar

    At the end of the movie you see the scene where Linda finally reads the letter. The next time you see here husband he has a black eye.

  8.  Avatar

    When Ransom and Marta are Chatting at the restaurant and this is a stretch, in a way he is calling for a “Ransom” payment by telling her he wants a cut and he’ll keep quiet. I know it’s more of a black mail thing but hey I tried.

  9.  Avatar

    There are donut shapes on the building in the reflection of the car window as Blonk starts talking about donuts.

  10. I noticed something but couldn’t be sure.

    There’s a scene where Marta was eavesdropping the three detectives and there was a glass decoration showing a man handing a skull to another man (possibly a king). I’m not sure what this painting is and the significance/hidden details. But immediately after that, Blanc look into the holes in the painting.

    Is it possible that it foreshadows the time when Marta handed herself over and that’s where Blanc look into the ‘holes’ in the donut?

    Another possible Easter egg is the name Marta itself. The other famous Marta is Mary and Marta in the Gospel of John where Marta was wrongly accused by Mary but Jesus said “she has chosen what couldn’t be taken away from her”. Just random thoughts just after watching this marvellous movie.

  11. What about the light reflection in the middle of the screen of several shots? I remember seeing it in at least 3 scenes.

  12. Jeff Wade Avatar

    When Danial Craig is talking to the grandmother, why is the horse on the shelf behind him facing backwards?

  13.  Avatar

    oh I think that in the start of the movie when marta looks up at the portrait of Harlan he’s got a straight face and at the end when she looks at his portrait again he’s smiling

  14.  Avatar

    Came from Harlan’s knife wound when it spurted out at the time Marta returned momentarily to confront Harlan prior to his suicide.

  15. M. Slab Crappie Avatar
    M. Slab Crappie

    Marta’s car had a spare tire on it – also known as a “donut”

    1. lol, awesome observation. 🙂

  16. Was martas sister watching columbo in kitchen scene? Blanc columboish with overcoat and cigar. Then Marta mother watching murder she wrote. Harlan a mystery writer.

  17. Michael Avatar

    In regards to #6 above and the throne of knives… When the initial interrogations are taking place, Linda, Richard, and Walt are all sitting to the side of “donut”. Although later in the movie, when Marta is brought into the room, she is placed directly in the center, thereby filling in the proverbial hole.

  18.  Avatar

    Murder She Wrote

  19.  Avatar

    What was Marta dropping in the woods when detectives and Blanc were out looking for clues? The camera specifically zoomed in on a round multi-compartmented thing she stuck back in her pocket?

  20. veratsien Avatar

    Good eye! That would be the magnet from the gatekeepers fridge. There was a shot of that magnet when they first arrived the gatekeepers room. We didn’t see Marta taking the magnet but apparently she did. And put it in her pocket to wipe the tape(that was in the same pocket) from the surveillance.

  21. There were definitively a lot of “circle” images in Knives Out, all to place the circular knife display in mind.

    Good catch on only Marta sitting “inside” the knives.

  22.  Avatar

    Not sure if this is an easter egg, but… The guy who read the will was Frank Oz. And Great Nana kinda looks like Yoda. If only she talked like Yoda… “Messed up this family is”

  23. I think it is neat that Harlan gives away the ending of the movie long before the end of the movie. When Marta tells him about the mix up, he decides that a good mystery plot would be to have someone deliberately switch the drugs and for the antidote goes missing, making it too late for the ambulance to keep him from dying. Harlan writes all this down in his notebook. So immediately after, we see that Marta doesn’t have the antidote and that the ambulance cannot arrive in time. So half of his story written down just came through and the rest is revealed to have happened at the end of the movie.

  24. Jacob Fox Avatar
    Jacob Fox

    I should also add that Harlan has a knife when he is talking about Ransom. Then, whenever we see his portrait, both the notebook and that exact knife are in his hands. The knife representing Ransom as the killer and the notebook on the method of the attempted murder.

  25.  Avatar

    There is a hole in Ransom’s shirt when he gets the toxicology report. Possibly another play on the “hole in a donut”?

  26. James Lyne Avatar
    James Lyne

    Not sure if this has been mentioned yet. When Harlan comes up with a plan for Marta, he asks her to ‘do this one last thing for me’. Harlan already knows that if Marta is convicted of his murder, the will will be changed back so that his family get the inheritance. Since he doesn’t want this to happen, he wants to make sure Marta is not convicted.

    I think he cares about her situation as an immigrant as well but thought that it was strange that he asked her to do it for him.

  27. Stephanie Green Avatar
    Stephanie Green

    Is there any importance in the eyeballs all over? Or where they just quirky background pieces?

  28. Tim Michaw Avatar
    Tim Michaw

    at first I thought the wooden sea captain statue was a prop from Columbo, but now from the reading I have done it may very well be from Sleuth. let me know what anyone thinks

  29. LOL, missed up this family is indeed!

    That was Frank Oz? I need to watch Knives Out again to catch everything people mentioned!

    @Stephanie, eyeballs? I’m going to have to look for that. Not sure I remember eyeballs all over the place. But if they are, I’d say that eyeballs are the windows of the soul, or maybe it indicates just how little privacy there is among the people in this house. Someone is always watching.

  30. Vincent Costello Avatar
    Vincent Costello

    Can you tell me who the woman was that Don Johnson was have the affair with that was never answered I thought it might have been Marta and then Possibly Fran the House Keeper

  31. As far as I can remember it was never revealed. I don’t think “who” he was affaring with was important. Just that he was having an affair.

  32. A very quick and barely noticed piece of evidence concerning the secret letter from Harlan to Linda was the bowl of lemons on Harlan’s desk. Lemon juice is what is used to make “invisible ink”.

  33. Good catch, Teknocritter. NOTHING is random in a good mystery movie.

    When I watch this movie again on my next international flight, I’m going to re-read all these comments to catch everything. I think this thread is turning into a great reference.

  34. Richard Kemper Avatar
    Richard Kemper

    Just something I noticed at the end of the movie. When Marta was drinking from the coffee cup looking down at the family eyeballing her, so was one of the dogs. I may have missed the other dog. I will look again because this movie is worth watching a few times.

  35. yes there was a dog along with the family watching her from below

  36. John Shobbrook Avatar
    John Shobbrook

    Tim, I noticed the Sea Captain as well – I believe he was ‘Jolly Jack Tar’ from the 1972 Sleuth. The term ‘Jolly Jack Tar’ was originally used to refer to seamen of the Merchant or Royal Navy.

    Plot twists, set decoration and camera angles were very similar to 1972 Sleuth – another great film.

  37. I am late to the comment party, but the entire game that is being played to me serves as a semiotic crux for the entire film.

    Ransom is decent at the board game, but Marta is better at it, because she does not have a zero sum, cutthroat dog eat dog mentality: she just thinks the holistic shape or bigger picture of the pieces is nicer. Many Americans only see the small details of their stock portfolio as vital, or Bitcoin, or other data sets, and use these data sets to justify really savage mind games and outright dominance or violence to achieve said goals. Yet no one really searches for collective patterns or holistic societal wellness.

    If you rewatch the board game scene, even Harlan realizes that an earthquake or upheaval is needed to reset the board. In his own case, his redone will is the earthquake wake up call that his family needed.

    Finally, I wonder what pieces she and he were playing with as well as the turf that they each took. That game was originally about military strategy and turf…but Marta beats the master at his own game by finding out a different heuristic that goes away from standard game theory…and maybe that is why Harlan respects her more than any other person in the family. He probably wanted to give much of it to Hugh, since Hugh is very similar to himself, but he recognizes that Hugh has elements of himself that he potentially loathes.

  38. At the very end, the coffee mug that Marta is drinking from says “My house…” so it’s very obvious what her intentions are with the inheritance.

  39. Dick Malsbary Avatar
    Dick Malsbary

    Did Harlan assume that there would be no autopsy if he committed suicide? Because they did one anyway and the toxicology report would have spoiled his scheme and implicated Marta, in spite of his plan, if things had turned out differently.

  40. James Joseph Boyle Avatar
    James Joseph Boyle


  41. Marta is much smarter than she seems. Look at her games of Go. And she has spent enough attentive time with
    Harlon to know which knives are real or fake. Remember, this was one of his disses on his children, not knowing a real from a prop.

    Marta saw it, and her time with harlon paid off.

    I need a rewatch but I think that’s how it went. There were a lot of clues that Marta was smart and paid attention.

  42. Patrick John Haskins Avatar
    Patrick John Haskins

    It’s very brief, and maybe this is obvious, but no one has mentioned this, so far. When Blanc is in the room where Harlan died, he imagines the Go board hitting the floor. Because of the carpet, it makes a relatively soft landing with barely any sound. The Go board is supposed to be the reason that Joni goes up to check on them, but really, it was because Marta had been tripped. I believe that this shows that Blanc realizes that the Go board couldn’t have been the thud, so something else happened that wasn’t being told. I don’t think it’s detrimental evidence to the case, but it reinforces how observant Blanc truly is.

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