From the get-go, it's been more than a little obvious what J.J. Abrams was trying to do with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The director set out to bring the franchise back to its roots, returning the saga to the look, characters and settings fans fell in love with way back in 1977.
Everything about the film, from its story structure to its use of practical effects, is in an effort to restore the franchise to its former glory after the heavily-criticized prequel trilogy. With that in mind, you might be wondering if there are any references to the prequel trilogy in The Force Awakens, big or small. After all, an entire generation of Star Wars fans grew up on the prequels, however inferior to the originals many consider them to be.
There is one minor reference to the time before the Empire. Read on below the spoiler tag to learn what it is.
Turn back now!
Still with us? The line comes shortly after Finn has deserted the First Order, as Kylo Ren and General Hux discuss the efficiency of their troops, as Kylo Ren responds states that "perhaps Supreme Leader Snoke should use a clone army" in a tone clearly meant to call into question the obedience of First Order troopers.
As fans are well aware, Stormtroopers are not clones like those used in the prequels. The clones were programmed from birth to serve the Republic, turning on the Jedi instantly when Emperor Palpatine issued Order 66. Stormtroopers lack that kind of programming, but we do learn that the First Order Stormtroopers in The Force Awakens are kidnapped from their families at a young age and indoctrinated into the First Order's service. Such was the case with Finn, though he eventually breaks free from their hold.
Aside from one reference to clones, The Force Awakens is devoid of any mention of the prequels. Though there are perhaps some very minor Easter eggs hidden in the film that relate to the prequel trilogy, J.J. Abrams appears to have fully committed himself to recreating the aura of the original trilogy, without any mention of previously-known planets, events or characters from the prequels. Take from that what you will.