In interviews with IGN and Vulture, the creators of the adult animation Rick and Morty (2013 – ) are open about the influences on their show. While the sources of inspiration are not hidden, they are diverse, including children’s and adult films and television shows from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, a science fiction novel, and their moms.
Which TV Shows And Movies Had An Influence On “Rick And Morty”?
Justin Roiland developed a short animated pilot called The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti (2006), which was a perverted, NSFW satire of the Back to the Future characters Doc Brown and Marty McFly (1985). Because Roiland’s last program, House of Cosby (2005), was unexpectedly canceled owing to a cease-and-desist order from Cosby’s lawyers, he developed Doc and Mharti to mock the scenario. “I was merely wanting to ‘troll’ a big studio,” Roiland explained. Roiland began to admire his characters more than the joke after working on the episode, so he changed their names to avoid getting on the studio’s bad side. Channel 101, a non-profit monthly film festival for pilots founded by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab, accepted the short. When Adult Swim approached Harmon about making a show for them years later, he immediately thought of Roiland and sought to him for advice. Roiland still wanted to work with the characters of Doc Smith and Mharti McDonhalds, and the show was picked up by Adult Swim after he renamed them Rick and Morty and made their relationship familial.
The two characters’ relationship was also meant to be reminiscent of other stories featuring a hyper-intelligent mentor who shows an ordinary companion a reality with which they are unfamiliar, such as Doctor Who (1963 – 1989, 1996, 2005 – ), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1966). (Book: 1979, TV: 1981, Film: 2005). The writers can construct a universe that is “licensed, relative to the audience, to be absolutely indecipherable” by include a companion who is equally as confused about the world they’re entering, as Harmon told IGN. Rick and Morty owes a lot to animated series as well. The artwork on the program is influenced by The Simpsons (1989–1995) and The Ren and Stimpy Show (1991–1995); Morty’s lips develops a “w” shape when he’s unhappy, which is similar to Ren’s sad expression. Meanwhile, series like South Park (1997– ) and Saturday Night Live (1975– ) have pushed the bounds of TV censorship for decades, allowing shows like Rick and Morty to flourish. Zardoz (1974), a sci-fi cult classic featuring a long-haired, mustachioed, red-briefs-wearing Sean Connery, was also an influence, Harmon told Vulture.
When a giant stone head floats above the planet dispensing sex robots to the humans below in the Rick and Morty episode “Raising Gazorpazorp” (S1:E7), it’s plain to spot the inspiration. A huge stone head floats above the planet of Zardoz, delivering guns to the humans below. Finally, Harmon and Roiland credit their mothers with having a profound impact on the show. While working on episodes, they frequently wonder themselves if their mothers would get the gags. Harmon told Vulture, “We want the show to appeal to as many people as possible.” Harmon and Roiland use a variety of well-known TV episodes and films to expand on the viewer’s existing frame of reference. While much of television is based on popular culture, shows like Rick and Morty manage to keep the stereotypes fresh and new. Rick and Morty accomplishes this by making subtle connections to a wide range of sources, layering its universe with complex layers, and creating a show that seems instantly familiar while remaining unique.
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