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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
During the scene where the magical creatures and Prince Charming Storm the castle amidst the mayhem a group of creatures change the a sign from Booters to Hooters at which time a group of men run in cheering.
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.
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 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.