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The Hilarious Nod To Back To The Future In Rick And Morty

"Rick and Morty" isn't subtle about being inspired by "Back to the Future." Before "Rick and Morty" became an Adult Swim animated comedy series and the top-rated show among millennials (according to Vulture), it started as a short, crude parody of "Back to the Future" by co-creator Justin Roiland called "The Real Adventures of Doc and Mharti" (via Vice). As the show developed, it evolved into its own thing that isn't a direct parody of "Back to the Future" but still has a lot of "Back to the Future" in its DNA, both in the main characters' first names and the fact that they're both about the time-warping, dimension-hopping adventures of a teenage boy and his mad scientist "mentor" who generally causes more harm than good. 

That's all very obvious, though, and "Rick and Morty" is too smart of a show to only be obvious. As described by The Fact Site, the show once inserted a deep-cut reference to "Back to the Future" that not only requires knowledge of behind-the-scenes trivia about the classic sci-fi comedy but also the movie "Mask," the 1985 drama starring Cher, Sam Elliott, and Eric Stoltz. The reference is in the form of a briefly glimpsed character lovingly known as "Eric Stoltz Mask Morty," who Den of Geek once called the fifth-best Morty.

Rick to the Future

In the Season 1 episode "Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind," Rick Sanchez meets the Council of Ricks, which governs Ricks and Mortys across all the alternate universes. In one alternate universe, Rick is known as Doofus Rick, who's a little bit simpler than the average Rick. Doofus Rick never had any kids of his own to provide him with a grandson/sidekick, so he was assigned a Morty. His Morty came from a reality where everyone looked like Eric Stoltz in "Mask," in which Stoltz played a character with a condition called lionitis that made his head large and misshapen.

The reference to Stoltz in the context of an alternate version of Morty is an allusion to the fact that Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly in "Back to the Future" instead of Michael J. Fox. Stoltz filmed for about six weeks before director Robert Zemeckis told him it wasn't working out. He was replaced by Fox, who was Zemeckis' first choice, and the rest is history.

"Rick and Morty" is making a very funny joke acknowledging the connection to "Back to the Future" while also cleverly using the show's premise of alternate universes to make a joke about Hollywood history. There must be at least one alternate universe where Eric Stoltz stayed Marty McFly, you know?

Eric Stoltz Mask Morty isn't the only direct "Back to the Future" reference in "Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind." Cowboy Rick and Morty are references to the Old West setting of "Back to the Future Part III."