Adult Swim’s hit animated series Rick and Morty is one of the most creative shows currently on television – but that doesn’t mean it never steals concepts from older shows and movies. Series creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland launched the time-traveling, multi-dimension adventure show back in 2013, introducing viewers to Rick Sanchez and his grandson Morty Smith. Together, they go on wild missions across space and time, which has given Rick and Morty an incredible universe to explore.
With its sci-fi premise, Rick and Morty would automatically be compared to some of the biggest TV shows and movies of all-time, but Harmon and Roiland have actually leaned into this. The show has drawn plenty of comparisons to Back to the Future due to similarities between Rick and Morty’s character designs and Dr. Emmett Brown and Marty McFly. While Rick and Morty has embraced this comparison, it’s repeatedly pulled from other pieces of pop culture for its own benefit.
Screen Rant’s latest video dedicated to Rick and Morty points out 10 times that the show blatantly lifted concepts and stories from other TV shows and movies. Some of these are rather obvious in execution, but Rick and Morty has also done this on a smaller scale and with much more obscure properties. Check out the full list in the video at the top of this post.
Since it could be argued that some of these instances are mere coincidences (or unintentional given the wide variety of content that has explored the sci-fi genre), there’s no denying some of these are clear ripoffs. Possibly the most obvious of the entire list is how season 3 took the story and world of Mad Max: Fury Road and put the Rick and Morty spin on it. It’s impossible to see the second episode of the season and not think about the Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron-led film from 2015, but that’s okay. The great thing about Rick and Morty is that it’s acknowledging that these stories are nearly identical, and is using viewers’ pre-existing knowledge of this prior content to make more jokes.
With several other references to Stephen King and homages to Midnight Run (just to name a few), there’s plenty of other pop culture references in Rick and Morty. The good news is that fans of these jokes will definitely be getting more of them too. After a long and uncertain hiatus, it was finally confirmed that Rick and Morty was renewed by Adult Swim for 70 more episodes, which guarantees a future beyond the upcoming fourth season. As long as Harmon and Roiland don’t change the show up too much, fans should get a lot more of these references in the years to come.