Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Simpsons Reference You Missed In Rick And Morty's Vat Of Acid Episode

Contains spoilers for Rick and Morty season 4, episode 8.

Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon has always been a sucker for a good pop culture reference, and the outrageous montage on this week's episode offered the perfect opportunity to drop a bunch in rapid succession. Aside from that notable South Park Easter egg during a tearful act of cannibalism, Morty's save-your-progress sequence also nodded to another long-running animated series.

On this week's "Vat of Acid Episode," the eighth of season 4, Morty bullies Rick (both voiced by Justin Roiland) into building a device that allows Morty to save his progress in real life. After Morty gets his grubby little pre-teen hands on the controller, he launches into an extended montage of adolescent experimentation. Morty uses the device to do and undo all kinds of hijinks. He reverses his dinner order, pantses his math teacher and generally rewrites every embarrassing moment from his life.

At one point in this truly baffling sequence — set to Eric Clapton's "It's in the Way You Use It" — Morty leans into his consequence-free existence and actually works up the gumption to ask a girl out at a bookstore. The girlfriend is never named, but we watch the entire relationship play out in accelerated montage time — up to and including a tragic plane crash that leaves both of them stranded in the mountains. It's the stranding, of course, that eventually leads to the aforementioned act of cannibalism.

It was a lot to take in, so you'd be forgiven if you missed the cameo appearance of Moe's Tavern from The Simpsons.

While Morty was picking on a helpless old man, Harmon made an homage to The Simpsons

In the beginning, Morty uses the save device to satisfy his darkest inclinations. In one particularly cringe-worthy interaction, he comes upon an old man sitting idly by a crosswalk in a wheelchair. Morty pretends to offer his assistance, and instead dumps the poor old guy unceremoniously in the street. After undoing this act of unspeakable cruelty with his handy-dandy device, he makes like a Boy Scout and wheels the old man across the street. If you were focused too closely on the interaction between Morty and the man, you probably missed that bar in the background, which is a dead ringer for Moe's.

It makes sense that Harmon would choose to use this little Springfield watering hole to honor his venerable predecessor in the world of irreverent animation. Few locations in television history are as iconic as Moe's Tavern. There's the Seinfeld diner and the coffee shop from Friends, of course. Maybe an argument could be made for the Bada-Bing from The Sopranos, but that's pretty much it. Moe's Tavern occupies pretty rarefied air. 

By the end of the episode, it turns out that Morty's device doesn't work at all how he intended, and Rick actually devised the little gadget to be an elaborate and devastating lesson for his mouthy grandson. The lesson for the audience, of course, is don't blink unless you want to miss one of Harmon's clever references on Rick and Morty.