References in Rick and Morty - King Jellybean

31 References in Rick and Morty We Totally Missed (One Per Episode)

By Madison Bessinger


Pop culture references in Rick and Morty run deep. Even the concept of the time traveling duo started as a satire of Doc and Marty from Back to the Future.

Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s adult sci-fi cartoon with a penchant for dark humor, is one of the funniest, most popular shows of our current time. The fourth-wall breaking comedy is packed full of allusions to movies, books, science, and pop culture. One of these references even brought back Rick’s beloved Szechuan Sauce to McDonald’s for a limited time.

However, not all of the references in Rick and Morty episodes are obvious the first time you watch the series. In fact, here are 31 references you may have missed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t stop at just one per episode with our One Per (Blank) series. Leave a comment down below if we missed out on any references in Rick and Morty to date, and we’ll add your contribution to the page in our next update.

Index: References in Rick and Morty: Season 1-3

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 1

Buy Rick and Morty: Season 1 on Amazon

Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

References in Rick and Morty - Mystery Science Theater 3000

Reference: Mystery Science Theater 3000

Of course, like we said at the beginning, Rick and Morty as a whole started as a reference. But that’s too easy. There’s a shot that features a wide view of Interdimensional Customs, and it’s basically a chance for a hundred little references. But in particular you can spot MST3K’s Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot right down the middle, looking a bit lost.

Season 1, Episode 2: Lawnmower Dog

References in Rick and Morty - Animal Farm

Reference: Animal Farm

When Rick invents a device designed to make the Smith’s pet dog Snuffles smart enough to stop peeing on the carpet, Snuffles gets too intelligent. He uses the device to take over the humans that he views as having enslaved dogs and changes his own name to “Snowball,” one of the characters in the book Animal Farm, George Orwell’s allegorical tale that uses animals to illustrate the rise and rule of the Soviet Union.

Season 1, Episode 3: Anatomy Park

References in Rick and Morty - Anatomy Park

Reference: Jurassic Park

The name of this episode and its plot revolving around a theme park built inside of a man is an allusion to the popular 1993 movie Jurassic Park and its subsequent sequels. There are lots of little references, such as Fantastic Voyage, but the sign is a no doubt dead ringer.

Season 1, Episode 4: M. Night Shaym-Aliens!

References in Rick and Morty - Inception

Reference: Inception

The Zigerions are basically Leonardo DiCaprio and Rick is the mark. Except, Rick’s mind is way more complicated than your average schmoe. Interestingly, Dan Harmon reportedly dislikes Inception, calling it needlessly complicated. And his love for Christopher Nolan doesn’t seem to go beyond an appreciation of his directing talent.

Season 1, Episode 5: Meeseeks and Destroy

References in Rick and Morty - King Jellybean
References in Rick and Morty - Crumply Crumplestein
PICTURED: Crumply Crumplestein (not King Jellybean… or is it?)

Reference: Crumply Crumplestein

Yes, the show’s big reference/lampoon is jack and the beanstalk. Basically, the whole idea is how simple the whole Jack and the Beanstalk mythos is and how only someone like Morty finds it fun. Meanwhile, the Ricks of the world need more danger and darkness.

Well, that’s when Mr. Jellybean shows up, and that’s the real reference here. Crumply Crumplestein is an old character of Justin Roiland’s from one of the cartoon shorts on Channel 101. That version of the character murdered kids and mutilated their bodies. So, I guess you could say they toned it down?

Season 1, Episode 6: Rick Potion No. 9

References in Rick and Morty - Cronenbergs

Reference: David Cronenberg

When Rick’s botched attempt at solving a “love potion gone out of control” situation results in hybrid human-mantis creatures, he tries to reverse the effects using a DNA serum made of “koala mixed with rattlesnake, chimpanzee, cactus, shark, golden retriever, and just a smidge of dinosaur.” This only makes matters worse, causing the mantis-people to genetically evolve into what Rick dubs as “Cronenbergs,” a reference to David Cronenberg, a writer and filmmaker whose “body horror” creations feature grotesque alterations of the human body.

Season 1, Episode 7: Raising Gazorpazorp

References in Rick and Morty - Zardoz

Reference: Zardoz

After taking home a sex robot as a “souvenir of his adventures” with Rick, Morty accidentally fathers an alien from the planet Gazorpazorp, whose terrain features a huge, floating head in the sky and whose society revolves around a matriarchy ruling over men that they intentionally keep primitive. The planet loosely refers to the 1974 film Zardoz, where society is divided into two groups, the “Eternals” and the “Brutals,” and a giant stone head acts as the idol for the “Brutals.”

Season 1, Episode 8: Rixty Minutes

References in Rick and Morty - Cloud Atlas

Reference: Cloud Atlas

While watching inter-dimensional cable, the Smith family discovers that Jerry is famous in an alternate universe after they stumble upon a clip of Jerry taking the place of Tom Hanks in one of his roles in the somewhat obscure (but terrific) movie epic Cloud Atlas, whose plot revolves around the multiple reincarnations of lives experienced by its characters. The obscurity of this movie is poked fun at when Summer remarks, “Oh my God! Dad’s in Cloud Atlas!” to which Jerry excitedly replies “I’m in Cloud Atlas! What’s Cloud Atlas?”

Season 1, Episode 9: Something Ricked This Way Comes

References in Rick and Morty - Needful Things

Reference: Needful Things

To start, this whole episode is largely an homage to the story The Monkey’s Paw. It’s a classic tale of “wishes” fulfilled only technically, thereby ultimately disappointing the wisher. Summer even gets a monkey’s paw from the shop. So that reference may be pretty on the nose. A tad more subtle is the name of the shop: Needful Things. That’s a reference to Stephen King’s story Needful Things, which itself is a homage to Monkey’s Paw.

Season 1, Episode 10: Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind

References in Rick and Morty - Gravity Falls

Reference: Gravity Falls

References in Rick and Morty - Gravity Falls zoomed
PICTURED: Close-up of the mug and pad exiting the portal.

References to the TV show Gravity Falls are present throughout episodes of Rick & Morty, which has triggered some fan theories of the two shows being related or at least based in the same universe. One example of a reference to Gravity Falls occurs in the episode “Close Rick-counter of the Rick Kind,” in which a mug, notepad, and pen appear out of one of Rick’s portals. These three items were lost in a portal by a character in one of the episodes of Gravity Falls.

Bonus Reference: Fantastic Four (3/9/2019)

Council of Reeds

This is the first episode with the Council of Ricks. Could this have been inspired by or be a reference to Fantastic Four’s Interdimensional Council of Reeds? It’s not an obscure reference, per se, but one would have to actually read Fantastic Four comics. This isn’t origin story stuff. The Council of Reeds first appeared in Fantastic Four #570 (1998) by Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham. Or maybe this is just a example of great minds thinking alike… could there be a Council of Dan Harmons or Justin Roilands somewhere?

Season 2

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Season 2, Episode 1: A Rickle In Time

References in Rick and Morty - Langoliers

Reference: The Langoliers

The fourth-dimensional being bears an uncanny resemblance to a Langolier from Stephen King’s The Langoliers and the miniseries of the same name.

Season 2, Episode 2: Mortynight Run

References in Rick and Morty - Fart

Reference: Blockhead – The Music Scene

Fart takes Morty on a magical, musical journey. One that strangely feels just like the hypnotic sojourn of The Music Scene by Blockhead’s trippy music video. See for yourself below. Pay special attention to the beginning of The Music Scene and the inverting clay-like bodies.

The Music Scene by Blockhead
Moonman by Fart

Season 2, Episode 3: Auto Erotic Assimilation

References in Rick and Morty - Facehuggers

Reference: Alien

References to Ridley Scott’s Alien movies are also present in several Rick & Morty episodes. In “Auto Erotic Assimilation,” Rick refers to some aliens as “facehuggers” and tells Morty and Summer not to shake any eggs found on a planet they are exploring.

Season 2, Episode 4: Total Rickall

References in Rick Morty - Guns

Reference: Family Guy

Notice anything familiar about the way they cut to memories of the fake characters in this episode? It’s a reference to the Family Guy punchline cutaway, where someone mentions something that happened off screen. Funny enough, the Family Guy cutaways fulfill a similar function, making us think something is tangibly connected while it’s really just a snazzy lie.

In addition, you may have recognized some of the guns Rick and family unleash on the fakes. Some are clearly inspired by the Halo franchise, namely the Rocket Launcher (SPNKR) and MA5 Assault Rifle.

Season 2, Episode 5: Get Schwifty

References in Rick and Morty - Vivaldi or Get Schwifty

Reference: Frasier

Someone makes the statement that Vivaldi is the pinnacle of musical history. Rick mockingly calls him Frasier, after Frasier Crane from the sitcoms Frasier and Cheers. Kelsey Grammer played Frasier, a radio psychologist with artsy fartsy sensibility. His daughter, Spencer Grammer, plays Summer on Rick and Morty. Meta.

Season 2, Episode 6: The Ricks Must Be Crazy

References in Rick and Morty - Thirteenth Floor

Reference: The Thirteenth Floor

The entire conceit of the episode is basically from the Thirteenth Floor. And the Thirteenth Floor is directly inspired by Simulacron-3. If we had to bet, we’d say the Rick and Morty writing staff is more likely to reference a movie from the 90s than a science fiction novel from 1964.

There’s also a reference to everyone’s favorite cyborg detective/uncle. At one point Rick uses the phrase “Go, Go, Sanchez ski shoes” to access a special feature of his shoes. For those not brought up on it, this is a pretty overt reference to Inspector Gadget.

Season 2, Episode 7: Big Trouble in Little Sanchez

References in Rick and Morty - Tiny Rick

Reference: The Real Adventures of Doc and Mharti

We see a seemingly juvenile drawing of Rick done by Tiny Rick. It appears to be the Rick we know and tolerate. But shrewd observers will see the resemblance to Rick Sanchez’s initial version. As we said up top, before Rick and Morty there was The Real Adventures of Doc and Mharti. That drawing, we say, is not of Rick but actually of Doc.

Here’s a taste (*gag*) of the original concept from the unaired pilot.


Season 2, Episode 8: Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate

References in Rick and Morty - Face hugger

Reference: Alien (again)

At one point you can see a facehugger making nice with a patient’s face in a hospital. This is one, of many, references to the Alien franchise. Missed it in the photo above? Look on the left side at the patient in the wheelchair.

Season 2, Episode 9: Look Who’s Purging Now

References in Rick and Morty - Festival Purge

Reference: Star Trek

There are so many references to purges. For one, the 2013 horror movie The Purge, although that’s a bit obvious. There’s also obviously The Hunger Games. But one we certainly missed the first watchthrough is the similarity in the purge participants calling it the “Festival.” That’s the same name of a purge from an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, “Return of the Archons.”

Season 2, Episode 10: The Wedding Squanchers

References in Rick and Morty - Battlestar Galactica

Reference: Battlestar Galactica

Birdperson is getting married to an evil lady and Rick is invited. This is an all-around great season 2 finale, which ends with one of the biggest moments in the show’s history (the ending). But as an added bonus along the way, we get Battlestar Galactica’s Tricia Helfer (Number Six) and James Callis (Gaius Baltar) who play robots disguised as humans sort of like that other show.

Season 3

Buy Rick and Morty: Season 3 on Amazon

Season 3, Episode 1: The Rickshank Redemption

References in Rick and Morty - Breaking Bad

Reference: Breaking Bad

In this episode, Rick creates a fake origin-story memory in order to trick his captors, who are searching his mind to find out how he made his portal gun. In addition to the infamous Mulan references, Rick’s house in the false memory is alluding to Walter White’s home from the TV series Breaking Bad.

Season 3, Episode 2: Rickmancing the Stone

References in Rick and Morty - Thunderdome

Reference: Mad Max

In this episode, we see Jerry at his typical worthless low. It’s the start of the divorce storyline and the kids get an adventure with Rick to help them blow off some steam. There are references galore to Mad Max in this episode, but Thunderdome looms large with the big brawls seen throughout.

Season 3, Episode 3: Pickle Rick

References in Rick and Morty - Pickle Sewer

Reference: An American Tail: Fievel Goes West

Some references in Rick and Morty are obvious. Some are even, one might say, pandering. But not only do they dig deep for some references, they can come from the craziest places. Including 1991’s charming cartoon classic (if by classic you mean barely memorable) An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. Sure, one could argue that the Fieval scene itself is a reference to classic river rapid scenes, but there are too many similarities here, especially the fact that it’s a rodent, considering what Rick does to a rodent in the Pickle Rick episode.

Don’t believe us? Just watch this video. Pay special attention to the entrance into the drain and one shot in particular that looks nearly identical like an exact re-creation.

Pickle Rick

Season 3, Episode 4: Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender

References in Rick and Morty - Saw

Reference: Saw

This episode starts out as a parody of, and one long series of references to, superhero team-ups like the Avengers. Then, it gets dark. At a certain point, Rick gets drunk and well… pretty much becomes the villain. And it turns out his villainous side is just like the serial killer and torture expert Jigsaw from the Saw movies.

Season 3, Episode 5: The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy

References in Rick and Morty - Fifth Element

Reference: The Fifth Element

How appropriate that this episode, the fifth episode of the season, has so multiple references to the Bruce Willis science fiction romp The Fifth Element. For one, there’s a space cruise ship that bears a striking resembling to the Fhloston Paradise from the movie, and a gun that one of the Ricks uses looks just like the one used by the film’s villain.

Season 3, Episode 6: Rest and Ricklaxation

References in Rick and Morty - Star Wars

Reference: Star Wars

The entire opening sequence is one long recreation of the destruction of the Death Star from the end of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and even features the medal ceremony from the end of Star Wars: A New Hope.

Season 3, Episode 7: The Ricklantis Mixup

References in Rick and Morty - Stand by Me

Reference: Stand By Me

One of the side plots in this episode revolves around four “Morty” schoolchildren’s journey to “the wishing portal.” Their adventure is a reference to Stephen King’s coming-of-age novel and movie Stand By Me, which is about a group of four boys on a search to find a rumored dead body.

Season 3, Episode 8: Morty’s Mind Blowers

References in Rick and Morty - Saturn V

Reference: Saturn V (NASA rocket)

In this episode, Morty explores his “mindblowers,” memories that Rick erased from his mind. In one of the “mindblowers,” Morty accidentally causes the suicide of a man that he thinks is from the moon. The man’s license plate reads “SATFIV3,” a reference to NASA’s Saturn V rocket used in the Apollo moon missions.

Season 3, Episode 9: The ABCs of Beth

References in Rick and Morty - Avatar

Reference: Avatar

This is a Beth episode and there’s so much goodness in that part of the storyline, but most of it is so uniquely strange that it’s not even a reference to anything. But good ol’ Jerry gives us the references we expect. His new blue girlfriend is not only blue and shares many features with Avatar’s Na’vi people, her connection with Jerry is reminiscent of the species’ soul bond.

Season 3, Episode 10: The Rickchurian Mortydate

References in Rick and Morty - Star Wars cantina

Reference: Star Wars

Where the Israel and Palestine representatives choose is a dead ringer for a Star Wars cantina, probably meant to be the Mos Eisley cantina from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Bonus Easteregg:

References in Rick and Morty - Weak Robe Jerry

Not exactly a reference but an easter egg, in this same episode we have a scene where we see Jerry looking comfy in a red robe. It has some nice chinese letters on the back in a typical non-woke Jerry way. Its translation, however, is especially apt. It says, “Weak.”

Rick and Morty is notorious for long hiatus periods between seasons, but the sheer number of Easter eggs placed throughout the Rick & Morty episodes ensure that viewers can always find something new when rewatching an already-aired installment of Rick and Morty’s inter-dimensional adventures.

While we got news late 2018 that Rick and Morty had been renewed for 70 more episodes, no details or specifics on when we’ll see Season 4 came with the announcement. So, while you wait for news on Rick and Morty Season 4, rewatch the series and look for even more easter eggs, references, and homages.

Did you discover any references to pop culture that we missed?


  • Madison Bessinger

    Madison Bessinger is a writer with a love for exchanging new ideas and writing about thought-provoking topics in both fiction and today’s world.

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