Billy Bob Thornton came up with his character's hair cut on his own. The moment Noah Hawley saw him, he knew they were both on the same page regarding the character.
Every episode starts with the onscreen words "This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 2006/ 1979/ 2010 (depending on what season it is). At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred." This is a nod to the way that the 1996 source movie Fargo (1996) started (also by claiming that its events were based on a true story). However, neither the movie nor the TV show are actually based on true events. In a 2014 interview, the show's Executive Producer Noah Hawley clarified the "true story" episode introductions by saying "the show.... It's all just made up. The whole cloth. I didn't go looking for [a] true crime. It started from a character standpoint and everything grew organically out of that."
Each episode of the first season has a title that refers to a koan, parable, or philosophical paradox.
This is actually the second TV show spin-off of the movie Fargo (1996). The first was in 2003 starring Edie Falco. A pilot was shot and aired but the series was not picked up.
Season 2 takes place around an incident in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 1979, and focuses on a young Lou Solverson (played in season one by Keith Carradine). The writer, Noah Hawley, says season 2 not only draws inspiration from the film Fargo (1996), but also from other Coen Brothers (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen) movies such as Miller's Crossing (1990) and The Man Who Wasn't There (2001).
In Season One Episode 2, Fargo: The Rooster Prince (2014), as Deputy Solverson (Allison Tolman) and Lester (Martin Freeman) exit the drug store, a parking spot is designated "Parking Reserved for Owner Mike Zoss". This is a reference to Mike Zoss Drugs, a Minnesota pharmacy, and no doubt a nod to the Coen brothers (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen) who spent time there in their youth, and subsequently named their production company Mike Zoss Productions, as well as giving the name to the pharmacy that is robbed in their film No Country for Old Men (2007).
Season 2 Episode 9 (Fargo: The Castle (2015)) is narrated by Martin Freeman, who played Lester in Season 1.
When the FBI detectives discuss about the fox, rabbit and cabbage riddle it is a reference to The Office (2001) (UK) series. In fact Martin Freeman solves the riddle just like his character does in the Office.
In the first episode, Lester (Martin Freeman) walks into a diner to meet up with Lorne (Billy Bob Thornton), a sign advertises White Russians for $4.95. This is an obvious nod to the Coens (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen) and their film The Big Lebowski (1998) whose lead character 'The Dude', played by Jeff Bridges, drinks White Russians throughout the film.
Writer Noah Hawley and director Randall Einhorn confirmed that both the series and movie take place within the same universe.
Even though Noah Hawley is the only writer credited in the whole first season, he actually put together a writers room, with people that helped him tweak the stories and discuss ideas.
In season 2, the poem Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) recites is called Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll.
In the trailer for season 1, there is a clip where Mr. Numbers (Adam Goldberg) shoots a would-be robber with a gun covered in a Scrunyon bag. No such scene appears in the series. However, you can find the deleted scene in the "extras" section in the DVD, among others.
The name of the character 'Deputy Knudsen' is a reference to The Big Lebowski (1998). The private eye that is following The Dude (Jeff Bridges) was hired by the Knudsens, Bunny's family back in Minnesota.
There is Jewish symbolism throughout the first 4 episodes of season 1. Lester Nygaard's (Martin Freeman) house number is 613. The ransom note to Stavros (Oliver Platt) asks for an amount ending in 613 and when Gus (Colin Hanks) talks to Molly (Allison Tolman) after he has arrested Lorne (Billy Bob Thornton), he tells her that he was on "a 613 - a dead dog". According to Judaic authorities, there are 613 mitzvahs - or commandments - in the Torah. Of course, we also keep seeing the Mitzvah Tank, in front of Gus's apartment, at the gas station where Gus gets the 613 call.
Bruce Campbell, who plays President Ronald Reagan, was also briefly visible onscreen in the source movie Fargo (1996). He is in the soap opera that is playing on the TV in the kidnappers' cabin. This was actual archival footage of the young Campbell in a real 1980s soap opera, link=tt0096593], that really was one of his early acting jobs.
The Gerhardts' house in season 2, is the same house that appears on AMC's Hell on Wheels as Brigham Young's house.
The music in the credits of Fargo: Rhinoceros (2015) (season 2) is "I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow" which is a nod to the Coen Brothers (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen) movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), In which the fictional band The Soggy Bottom Boys performed the track.
The show shoots in the Winter for real, which is the reason why the seasons air a year and a half apart.
The 'fox, rabbit, and cabbage' question posed by Pepper (Keegan-Michael Key) and Budge (Jordan Peele) to Lester (Martin Freeman) is the exact same question posed to Martin Freeman (Lester) and his colleagues in The Office (2001) (UK, 2001): Season 1, Episode 4 (The Office: Training (2001)). Martin Freeman (Tim, Lester) gives the correct answer in both series.
The second season is kind of a prequel to the first season. Expanding on the Solversons' family and their story, and Molly Solverson (played by Allison Tolman in season one) is seen as a young girl.
Bruce Campbell, who plays Ronald Reagan in season 2, also had a minor role in the original Fargo (1996). As of 2017, he's the only actor to have appeared in the film and the TV series.
In season 3, episode 4, Fargo: The Narrow Escape Problem (2017), the episode is narrated by Billy Bob Thornton who starred in Season one as Lorne Malvo.
The soundtrack for season 2 contains several songs featured on the soundtracks for Coen brothers Tracy Letts films. Included among them are: "Man of Constant Sorrow" and "Didn't Leave Nobody but the Baby" (O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)), as well as "Run Through the Jungle" and Kenny Rogers' "Just Dropped In" (The Big Lebowski (1998)) and "Danny Boy" (Miller's Crossing (1990)).
In season 1 episode 3, Fargo: A Muddy Road (2014), when Gus (Colin Hanks) goes to tell his boss he could have picked up Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton), his boss mentions that 'it's just like Sioux Falls all over again' a mention to season 2 well before it was made.
Jesse Plemons who portrays Ed Blomquist in season two, and Bob Odenkirk, who portrays Bill Oswalt in season one, both appeared in Breaking Bad (2008) as Todd and Saul Goodman, respectively.
In Season 3, Episode 3, Fargo: The Law of Non-Contradiction (2017): When Gloria (Carrie Coon) rings the bell at the window of the Writers Guild Of America, the chime continues to resonate until the woman answering puts her finger on the bell. This appears to be a nod to the Coen Brothers (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen) movie Barton Fink (1991) where John Turturro rings the bell and Steve Buscemi puts his finger on it.
Each season features at least one cast member who has previously appeared in a film directed by the Coen brothers (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen).
The same building is used in all 3 seasons of Fargo with different uses. Season one is Lester's (Martin Freeman) work office. Season two is the butchers Ed (Jesse Plemons) works in. Season three is the apartment building Nikki (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) lives in.
In season one the character of Lester (Martin Freeman) wears a deer stalker hat made famous by Sherlock Holmes. Martin Freeman who plays Lester also stars in Sherlock Holmes (2009) as Watson.
Billy Bob Thornton and Stephen J. Root have both appeared in films by the Coen brothers: The Man Who Wasn't There (2001) and O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000). Colin Hanks's father, Tom Hanks, appeared in The Ladykillers (2004). Adam Goldberg and Tom Hanks appeared together in Saving Private Ryan (1998), which also featured Harve Presnell, who had appeared in the original Fargo (1996). Ted Danson from Season 2 also appeared in Saving Private Ryan.
During season 2, Peggy Blumquist (Kirsten Dunst) is very eager to participate in a Lifespring seminar. Lifespring was a real organization founded in the mid-1970s. An offshoot of the late 1960s and early 1970s so-called "human potential" movement, its founders had all been followers of Werner Erhard's similar "Est" Training organization. Starting in the late 1970s until Lifespring disbanded in the mid-1990s, dozens of lawsuits levied a wide variety of complaints against Lifespring, ranging from characterizing it as a fraudulent pyramid scheme to holding it responsible for over two dozen participants' deaths.
The elevator murder scene was set in Las Vegas but Hotel Arts is clearly visible on the floor button board. Hotel Arts is a Calgary , Alberta hotel and most of the season one episodes were shot in Calgary.
Jim Gaffigan was originally cast as Donny Mashman in season 3, but unfortunately had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts.
David Thewlis also appeared in The Big Lebowski (1998) for directors Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.
Noah Hawley is one of the show's producers. Hawley is also the name of a neighboring town to Fargo, North Dakota.
The characters of Nick Offerman and Dan Beirne, respectively Karl and Sonny (season 2), bear great resemblance between the characters of John Goodman (Walter) and Steve Buscemi (Donny), featured in The Big Lebowski (1998).
Four actors from the first three seasons all also appeared in the movie The Post (2017): Jesse Plemons, Carrie Coon, Bob Odenkirk, Michael Stuhlbarg. Carrie Coon's real-life husband, actor Tracy Letts, also appeared in The Post.
The blanket that Otto (Michael Hogan) uses in 3 episodes of season 2 was bought by a fan in New York.
Ewan McGregor & Mary Elizabeth Winstead began a romantic relationship during the filming of season 3.
Season 3 costars Shea Whigham and Michael Stuhlbarg previously costarred in Boardwalk Empire (2010).
Ewan McGregor and Carrie Coon appear together in Season 3. McGregor appeared in August: Osage County (2013), based on the play by Tracy Letts, husband of Carrie Coon. Ironically, Letts was initially quite resistant to McGregor's casting in the film adaptation.
Noah Hawley has previously worked with Adam Goldberg, Ryan O'Nan, Joshua Close, Susan Park, Kai Lennox, and Cristin Milioti on The Unusuals (2009).
Although they had no scenes together, both Billy Bob Thornton and Oliver Platt both starred in the film, The Ice Harvest (2005).
Ewan McGregor previously appeared in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) as Obi-Wan Kenobi, a character previously played by Alec Guinness. The Coen brothers (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen) previously directed The Ladykillers (2004), which featured Tom Hanks in a role previously played by Guinness. Hanks is also the father of series cast member Colin Hanks.