The Geeky Connection Between Back to the Future and Rick and Morty
As Darth Vader once said, “The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master.” Last week, to drum up hype for the season five finale to Rick and Morty, Adult Swim did something that fans had been wanting to see for years:
This short clip has since been followed up by several more clips, and they have pretty much set the Internet on fire. For those who do not know why, there’s good reason for us to do so. The man who’s playing live-action Rick Sanchez is none other than Christopher Lloyd, AKA Doc from Back to the Future. If that still doesn’t make any sense, here’s why you should care. Rick and Morty owes its entire existence to Back to the Future. Without that famed time-traveling trilogy, we may have never gotten Rick and Morty at all. In other words, the fact that Christopher Lloyd plays a live-action Rick is every fan of both franchises have dreamed of.
If you’re still not convinced, though, then allow me to explain to you the connection that this famous film trilogy from the 80s and one of the best cartoons of the present day have.
Back to the Future 101
If you haven’t seen Back to the Future or read the plot on Wikipedia yet, here’s the basic premise. Taking place in 1985, the film centers around Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox. He’s a pretty cool kid, but a social outcast due to his family life being garbage. His only friends are his girlfriend, Jenny, and Emmett “Doc” Brown, a local, brilliant scientist. Doc is so brilliant that he manages to convert a DeLorean into a time machine. When Marty tests run it for Doc, though, he ends up going back thirty years in the past, preventing his parents from meeting and jeporadizing his existence. Shenanigans ensue as Marty ensures his continued existence, and as a result, when Marty makes it back to 1985, his family’s way better off and much happier.
The film proved to be hugely successful, enough to warrant two sequels and even a brief cartoon adaptation. Needless to say, it remains very influential on modern pop culture. But perhaps the biggest impact it’s had on our culture (besides making the DeLorean known as the time travel car) is that it inspired Rick and Morty.
In 2006, Justin Roiland was a young animator living in Texas and working with Channel101, this non-profit monthly short film festival co-created by Dan Harmon. One of the shorts he created was a parody of the Bill Cosby Show, but Cosby’s lawyers kept threatening to sue him for using the actor’s image. And now Bill’s legacy is in ruins and he’s in prison, so Justin got the last laugh!
In response to this, Justin created The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti, a vulgar parody of the Back to the Future films where he voiced Doc and Mharti. Justin liked the voices he created so much that he ended up doing more shorts with them in it. These shorts would lay the groundwork for Rick and Morty.
Fast forwards a few years, and Justin started showing the world his voice acting chops. He worked and provided voice roles on the animated Disney show Fish Hooks, and more famously, playing the character Lemongrab on Adventure Time. Then, in 2012, Harmon called him up saying that Adult Swim wanted him to make a show for them. Using Doc and Mharti as the inspiration, the duo then turned it into Rick and Morty. The rest has been animation history.
Rick Is Like Doc’s Mentally Unstable, Long-Lost Twin Brother
Even though Rick and Morty have firmly established their identities as pop-culture icons, they still owe a lot to Doc and Marty. They’re the next generation of the brilliant super-scientist paired with the scrappy young teenager, much like Doc and Marty were for Justin’s generation. Granted, while Doc and Marty’s partnership is based on trust and a mentor-student dynamic, Rick and Morty’s is far more toxic in nature. Anyone who’s watched the show knows this!
Despite all of this, the most die-hard fans of the show have been wanting to see Christopher Lloyd play a live-action version of Rick Sanchez. Not only to satisfy their fandom urges, but because of how symbolically important it would be. Someone who worked on the shorts has said that Chris Lloyd said Doc and Rick were like brothers who took separate paths in life. Which only makes Doc taking on the role of the character that he helped to inspire all the more satisfying watch. RICK AND MORTY FOREVER AND FOREVER RICK AND MORTY AND SOME THINGS!