You don’t need a degree in quantum physics to enjoy Adult Swim’s popular sci-fi sitcom Rick and Morty, but a healthy appetite for pop culture enhances the trope-filled show’s satirical flavor. As promised, the show’s third season of adventures with depressed, alcoholic, super-genius sociopath Rick Sanchez and his awkward grandson Morty are darker than ever. This season also offers a veritable masterclass in film and television trivia to those with a careful eye and a lot of time on their hands.
Spotting references to 80s movies, sci-fi classics, and co-creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s friends has become a sport on the online forums where Rick and Morty fans gather. Anything from an overarching plot to a throwaway character can contain a nod to a bit of culture for Rick and Morty‘s loyal acolytes to consume. We’ve gathered all the references we can find in the nine episodes aired so far, which you can peruse below.
“The Rickshank Redemption”
When we left Rick at the end of season two finale “Wedding Squanchers,” he was imprisoned in Galactic Federal Prison and the Smiths were adjusting to life on Earth dominated by the alien government. This episode saw Rick’s extremely complex and violent escape from prison, defeat of the Federation, and destruction of the Citadel of Ricks, culminating in life on Earth returning to normal. Rick returns to the Smith household, and Beth divorces Jerry.
- The title references The Shawshank Redemption, a novella by Stephen King and 1994 film in which an allegedly innocent man escapes from prison.
- The opening scene takes place in Shoneys, a small chain restaurant in the southeast United States.
- McDonald’s Szechuan dipping sauce was marketed alongside Disney’s 1998 film Mulan.
- Rick says finding the Szechuan sauce is his “one-armed man,” referencing the killer Dr. Richard Kimble searches for in the 1959 show and 1993 film starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive.
- Rick’s house in the constructed flashback is identical to Walter White’s Albuquerque home in Breaking Bad.
- Hidden in a crowd in the Citadel of Ricks are Morty versions of Gravity Falls characters Mabel and Dippy:
“Rickmancing the Stone”
Rick, Morty, and Summer explore a savage, post-apocalyptic desert allegedly in search of a rare power source. Morty and Summer adopt the violent lifestyle of the waste, but eventually realize that they’re actually running away from the awkwardness of Beth and Jerry’s divorce.