"Boy, Morty. I really Cronenberg-ed the world up, didn't I?" —Rick
It's nothing new for a TV show to reference pop culture, including famous and iconic films and TV programs—in fact, it's kind of a right of passage. The Simpsons, Family Guy, and South Park have done it so much that referential jokes make up a decent percentage of their punchlines, but when Rick and Morty came along they took it to a whole new level—the show didn't just dole out a bunch of movie references, it became the reference.
Aside from being a giant animated parody of Back to the Future, Rick and Morty has referenced a ton of great films and TV shows, namely ones sci-fi fans love and hold dear to their hearts. If you're curious to see which ones are referenced, this Fandor supercut has got what you're aching for.
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Keeping with its genre, Rick and Morty tends to reference films and shows that are based in the realm of science fiction. As you can see from the list below, just about all of the titles are sci-fi or have sci-fi elements.
- Jurassic Park (dir. Steven Spielberg, 1993)
- Zardoz (dir. John Boorman, 1974)
- Mad Max: Fury Road (dir. George Miller, 2015)
- Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (dir. George Miller, George Ogilvie, 1985)
- The Lawnmower Man (dir. Brett Leonard, 1992)
- Voltron (dir. Franklin Cofod, 1984-1985)
- The Fly (dir. David Cronenberg, 1986)
- Inception (dir. Christopher Nolan, 2010)
- Aliens (dir. James Cameron, 1986)
- Nightmare on Elm Street (dir. Wes Craven, 1984)
- Back to the Future (dir. Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
- Jaws (dir. Steven Spielberg, 1975)
However, the show also plays around with references outside of sci-fi. Many of their episode titles are in reference to different films, including "Raising Gazorpazorp," which references the Coen Brothers' Raising Arizona, and "The Wedding Squanchers," a play on The Wedding Crashers starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.
As cinephiles, we love pop culture references. We love sniffing them out, finding easter eggs, and then going on Reddit to brag about it. (Only me?) Other animated shows have given us plenty to find, but Rick and Morty sate our thirst for obscure and/or clever references to awesome films like Zardoz, because damn it, even though Sean Connery spent far too long being the martini-sipping, super smooth, cool guy, he became the Nerd Lord in that movie, thanks in large part to that strappy red banana hammock.
It was not only expected that the smartest, most uncouth show on TV right now would follow suit in its own sardonic way. And it totally did, Morty.