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When you first begin watching the series it's quite evident that the two main characters,
Rick Sanchez and Morty Smith, are based on Doc Brown and Marty McFly from the Back to
the Future franchise. And that's actually how it all began. Back in 2005, Justin Roiland
produced an animated series known as House of Cosbys. This bizarre show is about a guy
living with a hundred clones of Bill Cosby. It premiered at the non-profit short film
festival Channel 101 which was co-founded by Dan Harmon who quickly took a liking to
Roiland's sense of humor. But in June of the same year, they received a cease and desist
letter from Bill Cosby's lawyer and where thus forced to end House of Cosbys. Because
of this Roiland decided to make a very obscene and crude parody of the Back to the Future
movies as a sort of joke or protest against Universal Pictures. He called the short:
"The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti".
It was never intended to be anything more than a joke but Roiland became really fond
of his own impressions of the two characters
and decided to explore this idea further. Many years later, in 2012, Harmon was approached
by Adult Swim to create an original animated show for the network. But Harmon, previously
creating and working on Community, didn't have any real experience with animation at
this point so he immediately thought of Roiland. He gave him a call and Roiland promptly pitched
the idea of using the Doc and Mharti characters to produce a shown titled Rick and Morty.
In the episode "Meeseeks and Destroy" we meet a disturbing character known as King Jellybeen.
This character, like Rick and Morty themselves, is actually from a previous animation that
Roiland produced called "Unbelievable Tales".
In this animation the character is known as
"Crumply Crumplestien" and is even more grotesque than the version in Rick and Morty.
During the show you might have noticed a character with rainbow colored suspenders and an American
football on his shirt. The stitches on the football also appear to be in the form of
Roman numerals spelling out 18, 3, and 5. If you use the numbers for the corresponding
letter in the alphabet you get RCE. So what does that mean? Well so far it means nothing
and it will likely remain that way. You see, Roiland explained in an interview that he himself,
the creator of Galaxy Falls Alex Hirsch, and Jason Ruiz who was working on another animated
show called Murder Police, got together one day and talked about including parts of a
secret code in each of their shows. So if someone found all three codes and put them
all together it would make a word or a sentence. But for some reason Roiland was the only one
to follow through with this Rainbow Suspenders guy and thus the secret code makes no sense.
One of the main reasons for the show being made in the first place was Roiland's distinct
way of voicing both Rick and Morty. Long before the show began, it was a sort of inside joke
among friends for Roiland to make these voices. It's been said that something that really
makes the show unique is the way he's able to quickly switch between the two characters
and improvise new lines and situations by essentially talking to himself. But this almost
didn't happen because, at first, Adult Swim didn't want him to be the voice of Morty.
Instead, they were looking into other famous voice actors like Billy West and Tara Strong.
But Roiland kept pushing his idea of playing both characters and eventually he got schwifty..
eh.. he got.. he got his wish.
The theme song for Rick and Morty actually comes from
another animated show that Roiland also produced called "Dog World".
It's about humans living in a world with intelligent talking dogs.
It was supposed to air on Cartoon Network but the project was never completed
as Roiland simply had too many things in development at the time. All that remains today is the
animatic version available online. The episode Lawnmower Dog in Rick and Morty also makes
a lot of references to this incomplete pilot. For example, the family in Dog World has a
human pet named Ruffles and in this episode, the dog known as Snuffles (eh.. I mean, Snowball)
is "mistakenly" called Ruffles by Rick.
The father in each show is named Jerry after one of Roiland's real life dogs.
And then at the end of the episode, Rick and Morty makes a
very clear and direct reference by saying this..
Considering that it's a heavily sci-fi themed show and that the initial idea is based upon
the characters from Back to the Future, you would assume that the show is about time travel.
But so far, we haven't really seen anything regarding that topic. Sure, they travel through
different dimensions and even stops time between season 1 and 2, but they never actually travel
trough time. This is because, both the creators think that time travel is simply too powerful
and makes everything way to complicated. This is also why they made the first episode of
season 2 about manipulating time. They wanted to show the viewers how chaotic and confusing
everything becomes, and has described the production of that specific episode as
"a fucking nightmare" because of all the different realities. The fact that they will never create
a time travel episode is also highlighted by the box inside Rick's workshop which is
labeled "TIME TRAVEL STUFF". It's supposed to be a metaphor for time travel stories being on the shelf.
It's possible that Rick and Morty and Gravity Falls are somehow connected. In the episode
"Society of the Blind Eye" of the animated show Gravity Falls, a character accidentally
drops his pen, notepad, and mug trough a portal. In the episode "Close Rick-Counters of the
Rick Kind", these very same items can be seen emerging from a portal. It's also interesting
that the Rick and Morty episode was released long before the Gravity Falls episode. Which
means it was either planned all along or the animators of Gravity Falls saw an opportunity
to sort of complete the easter egg. And it isn't that surprising considering that Alex Hirsch and
Justin Roiland are long time friends. Another connection to Gravity Falls can be found in
the episode "Big Trouble In Little Sanchez" in which the character
Bill Cipher from Gravity Falls is briefly seen.
In the episode "Get Schwifty" of season 2, co-creator Justin Roiland actually makes a
cameo appearance as himself.
Many of the episodes titles or entire plot lines are allusions to various forms of mainstream
media. Some are quite obvious like "Anatomy Park" being a reference to "Jurassic Park"
and "Look Who's Purging Now" being a parody of "The Purge". Then there's more obscure
episodes like "Lawnmower Dog" being a reference to the movie "The Lawnmower Man". In the same
way that a dog becomes super intelligent in the episode, a mentally handicapped person
becomes super intelligent in the movie. "Meeseeks and Destroy" is a reference to the Metallica
song "Seek and Destroy". The title and premise of the episode "Mortynight Run" is a reference
to the movie "Midnight Run". In both cases, the main characters are being chased the government
after helping a wanted criminal. The title of the episode "Raising Gazorpazorp" is a
reference to "Raising Arizona" while the episode itself is a parody of the movie "Zardoz".
Unlike many other animated shows, everyone working on Rick and Morty seem to really strive
for continuity. Let me give you some examples. In the final episode of season 1 we see the
family house being teleported away and later back again creating a giant crack around the
entire house. This crack remains visible for the entirety of season 2 and in one episode,
Jerry can even be seen using a weed wacker because their weed is wack yo.. I mean, to
cut the grass growing out of the crack in the pavement. There's an episode called "Total
Rickall" in which alien parasites infiltrate the memories of the characters. The person
who brought the parasites into the house in the first place was of course Rick and how
that happened is actually covered two episodes prior. Rick can be seen loading these green
rocks onto his spaceship which also happens to be covered with these pink parasite pods.
And at the beginning of "Total Rickall" he can be seen throwing pieces of these green
rocks into the trash including the pods. This was also confirmed by Roiland himself. In
"Look Who's Purging Now" they accidentally create a hole in the roof of the house. In
the next episode, the now repaired hole is still visible. Another minor detail that remains
true in every single episode so far (believe me I checked!) is that Rick never wears a seatbelt
even though most other characters do. And there's of course numerous
minor details like just these which haven't been discovered yet.