Most, if not all, RWBY character references are listed here. If you wanted to know, say, who Emerald or Blake were based off of, you can find their references here. Credit to @SAmaster, @FettucCR, @revanninja, and @WrightKnight for finding most, if not all, these references and actually being the beginning of this page.

RWBY Character References and Status

Version 1.6.3 (12/5/2016)

• Team RWBY is based on the precious gemstone ruby; because the leader is Ruby Rose, the team's name and color center around her.

          - Ruby Rose is Red Riding Hood, based off of Red Riding Hood of Grimms’ Fairy Tales.

          - Weiss Schnee == is Snow White from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves of Grimms’ Fairy Tales

          - Blake Belladonna == is Belle, based off of Beauty and the Beast; story is based on French novel by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve.

          - Yang Xiao Long is Goldilocks from Goldilocks and the Three Bears of Grimms’ Fairy Tales.

Ozluminati (named by SAmaster, FettucCR, and revanninja) is based on the four characters that are significant in The Wizard of Oz. 

          - Professor Ozpin is the Wizard of Oz (MIA).

          - Taiyang Xiao Long is the Cowardly Lion.

          - James Ironwood might likely be Tin Man.

          - Qrow Branwen most likely Scarecrow, albeit a very drunk one.

          - Glynda Goodwitch is based on Glinda, The Good Witch of the North from The Wizard of Oz.

• Qrow's Team (Team STRQ) is Qrow's team back when he was attending Beacon Academy (Snowyamur).

          - Qrow Branwen (currently keeping an eye on Team RNJR and his sister, Raven).

          - Taiyang Xiao Long (currently helping Yang back up on her feet).

          - Summer Rose is the mother of Ruby Rose, based on Red Riding Hood. Her apparel appears white, reflecting on her Silver-Eyes and noting her significance to the meaning of SE warriors (Snowyamur). Also, she's based on Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz (SAmaster).

          - Raven Branwen is based on ravens, a somewhat-intimidating breed of birds (relates to her personality and appearance).

• Cinder's Faction might take on the role of an evil league, much like Salem's faction, and just like that faction, it has five members (Snowyamur):

          - Mercury Black:

                  // Refers to Roman god Mercury.

                  // Metallic legs are based on the Winged Sandals of Mercury (Sandals are depicted as silver, Mercury's legs are metallic, same color correlation.

          - Emerald Sustrai:

                 // Up to debate on reference.

                 // Green color reflexive of green emerald gem.

          - Cinder Fall is Cinderella from Cinderella, albeit a darker version of her.

          - Roman Torchwick is Lampwick from Pinnochio (deceased).

          - Neopolitan is literally based off of Neapolitan ice cream (MIA???)

• Salem's Faction is likely a major faction referencing the common, literary conflict between Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf in Red Riding Hood. In this case, the faction represents the side of the Big Bad Wolf (Snowyamur).

          - Mercury Black (temporarily).

          - Emerald Sustrai (temporarily).

          - Salem is the Wicked Witch and based off of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692-1693.

          - Cinder Fall (currently recovering from Ruby's Silver-Eyes power).

          - Tyrian ??? 

          - Watts ???

          - Hazel ???

• Team CFVY is based on sweets (coffee, candy, figures). However, the entire team is not based on sweets.

          - Coco Adel is literally based on cocoa, the chocolate-flavored drink.

          - Fox Alistair is based on the fox. Based on the color rule, this was his chosen reference, but he shares no symbolic correlation to Team CFVY other than his color representing the color of some sweets.

          - Velvet Scarlatina is based on the Velveteen Rabbit (SAmaster).

          - Yatsuhashi Daishi is based on a Japanese treat that is coined "Yatsuhashi," thus color and name derive from it.

• Team CRDL is based on birds. 

          - Cardin Winchester is based on the Cardinal of Winchester, "the man who presided Joan of Arcs' trial," and the Cardinal bird as well (SAmaster)

          - Russel Thrush is based on the Turdidae birds, commonly called "thrushes."

          - Dove Bronzewing is based on the Bronzewing pigeon of Australia.

          - Sky Lark (and his name) are based on Skylark, a species of bird otherwise known as "Alauda."

• Team SSSN is pronounced "Sun," as such, its team members all reference it in some way (or it was just named because Sun Wukong is the leader).

           - Sun Wukong is based off of Sun Wukong from Chinese mythology. He resembles a monkey, and has a staff weapon, literally the reflection of the actual Sun.

           - Scarlet David is based on Peter Pan from Peter Pan. In Volume 3, Chapter 2, his "takeover" of the ship is a direct reference to how Peter Pan defeats Captain Hook.

           - Sage Ayana alludes to Aesop from Aesop's Fables (acw28). Also based on the plant sage, defining his color.

           - Neptune Vasilias is an ironically-created allusion to the Greek god Neptune because he fears water instead of embracing it.

• Team JNPR is based on various mythological heroes and fictitious characters (Snowyamur):

           - Jaune Arc becomes Joan of Arc.

           - Nora Valkyrie becomes Thor.

           - Pyrrha Nikos is Achilles (deceased).

           - Lie Ren is Mulan.

• Penny's Team

           - Penny Polendina is Pinnochio from The Adventures of Pinnochio ("deceased").

           - Ciel Soleil is the Blue Fairy (out).

• The Schnee Family, including what they do, is heavily based on Snow White and The Seven Dwarves.

           - Weiss Schnee (currently home with her family, about to attend a "charity" event to sing at the behest of her father.

           - Winter Schnee is based on one of the four seasons, being Winter (this DOES NOT MAKE HER THE WINTER MAIDEN).

           - Whitley Schnee ???

           - Jacques Schnee is likely Jack Frost; up to debate.

• The White Fang was once considered an organization who simply protested for Faunus rights and was responsible for the Faunus Rights Revolution. Under Adam Taurus, it has become extremely violent and brutal. Based on some notable historical parties that desired rights and freedom, but received them by violent means.

          - Blake Belladonna (former member of White Fang).

          - Ghira Belladonna is based on Bagheera from The Jungle Book, both by his personality and appearance (Dinobot01). Also former member of the White Fang (still up for debate).

          - Adam Taurus is the supposed "beast" from Beauty and the Beast, ironically being the person Blake is attempting to isolate from until she is ready to fight him.

          - Shere Khan is based on Shere Khan from The Jungle Book (Dinobot01) (still up for debate).

• Junior's Club

         - Junior Xiong is "Black Bear" and technically from the German fairy tale "Snow White and Rose-Red."

         - Melanie Malachite:

                  // Based on the old-design for Weiss Schnee Monty Oum had in mind. 

                  // Name is based on malachite, a mellow-green mineral.

                  // Derived from Greek word melania, meaning "blackness."

          - Miltia Malachite:

                  // Based on the old-design for Ruby Rose.

                  // Like her twin sister Melanie, name based on the mineral malachite.

                  // Derived from militades, Greek name for "red earth" (her dress reflects this color).

• Others

         - Penny Polendina is Pinnochio from The Adventures of Pinnochio ("deceased").

         - Mr. Polendina (Atlas watcher of Vyrtal Tournament) is Gepetto from The Adventures of Pinnochio.

         - Klein is the Seven Dwarves (apparently all of them).

         - Professor Oobleck is based on Dr. Seuss' book Bartholomew and the Oobleck (Azura_Ablaze).