12 Fascinating Facts About Rick and Morty

Adult Swim
Adult Swim

In 2013, Rick and Morty premiered on Adult Swim, and quickly amassed a huge following of fans who became obsessed with the show’s dark humor and sci-fi plots. Created by Dan Harmon (Community) and Justin Roiland, the show focuses on the outlandish adventures of crazy super-genius Rick Sanchez and his timid grandson Morty Smith, both of whom are voiced by Roiland. Here are 12 facts about the Adult Swim animated series, which is set to air the remainder of its third season in summer 2017.

1. DAN HARMON’S FILM FESTIVAL SPURRED HIS COLLABORATION WITH CO-CREATOR JUSTIN ROILAND.

The creative duo behind Rick and Morty—Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland—became acquainted through Channel 101, Harmon’s nonprofit short film festival. Roiland would submit pieces for the festival that were “intended to just shock people” but that Harmon found hilarious.

When Adult Swim contacted Harmon to create a 30-minute animated series for the network, he thought Roiland’s sensibilities would be a perfect fit for the network because, as Harmon put it, “He is the target for a lot of their stuff. And he’s also, like me, really passionate about story and franchise.”

2. THE SHOW WAS INSPIRED BY ROILAND’S VULGAR TAKE ON BACK TO THE FUTURE.

The basic foundation of Rick and Morty spun out of one of Roiland’s earlier Channel 101 ideas called The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti. The relationship between Rick and Morty has always taken cues from Doc Brown and Marty McFly from Back to the Future, but Roiland’s earlier stab at the idea really drove this point home with a lurid twist. At this point in his career, Roiland was simply daring lawyers to come after him, and nothing exemplified his mindset more than his X-rated Doc and Marty:

"I actually made this as a way to poke fun at the idea of getting cease and desist letters. At the time (October 2006) I had nothing to lose and my original intention was to call this 'back to the future: the new official universal studios cartoon featuring the new Doc Brown and Marty McFly' and then I'd just sit back and wait for a letter from their lawyers to arrive. That's actually why it's so filthy. I was just looking to 'troll' a big studio."

Though Rick and Morty’s final form is safely removed from the litigious (and public relations) nightmare that Roiland’s original cartoon was, he says, “some of the raw energy behind the voice performances is sort of still intact, especially for Rick. That’s the beginning of it.”

3. HARMON VIEWS RICK AS “THE SEAM BETWEEN GOD AND MAN.”

Though you can enjoy Rick and Morty simply as a zany cartoon with some crude humor, you can also dive deeper into the human condition and wrestle with the existence of god itself through these characters. Harmon, in a video promoting the show’s second season, talked about how the series is constantly searching for some sort of meaning in the meaninglessness of life.

One of the main conflicts, according to Harmon, is the idea of the creator against the created. This is seen in Rick's apathy toward his own creations throughout the show, like Abradolf Lincler, Rick's half-Lincoln, half-Hitler experiment that's hell-bent on revenge. Harmon calls Rick “The seam between god and man,” and his nihilistic apathy toward his own creations is echoed in Joseph Campbell’s belief that god is an impersonal cosmic force.

On a more cheerful note, Harmon disagrees with Rick’s sentiment that nothing really matters, saying that type of philosophy “gets you nowhere.”

4. THE SHOW’S THEME SONG OWES A LOT TO DOCTOR WHO AND FARSCAPE.

Rick and Morty’s opening theme song is quintessential sci-fi, and to achieve the familiar, otherworldly synth vibe of the genre, the creators looked to both Doctor Who and Farscape for inspiration. When asked about the show’s music in an interview with TVOvermind, Roiland said:

“The theme song is written by the guy who wrote the Wizards of Waverly Place theme song, who is a very good friend of mine. I told him I was a big fan of Farscape and that I wanted to combine Farscape’s theme with Doctor Who’s theme, and that’s basically what our theme song is. It’s this amazing original piece that takes the best aspects of those two themes and mashes them together. Super Sci-Fi.”

An earlier version of the theme can be heard in Roiland's first stab at an Adult Swim cartoon called Dog World.

5. RICK’S BURPING HABIT HAS ITS ORIGIN IN A RECORDING ROOM BLOOPER.

Burping is a big part of Rick’s shtick, but Roiland told Entertainment Weekly that the inspiration for it was a complete accident:

"In 2006, or something, I was recording the voices for this short The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti. I was having fun doing these really crappy Doc Brown and Marty McFly impressions. During the middle of a line a burp came out naturally. It was just so funny and gross. I was like, ‘Well, let’s see if I can do that again for a couple more lines.’ Then, with Rick and Morty, Dan [Harmon, the show’s co-creator] was like, ‘Hey, Adult Swim wants to do a show, do you have any ideas?’ I said, ‘Well, what about these two voices?’ Right out of the gate, the burping was part of it."

Though Rick punctuates many a conversation with a trademark burp, Roiland actually has a tough time getting quite so gassy. He basically tells the audio engineer to keep the tapes rolling as he drinks “a low-calorie beer and a bottle of water” to get the effect right.

6. DAN HARMON HAS A THEORY ON WHAT’S IN RICK’S FLASK, BUT WE’LL NEVER KNOW WHY HE DRINKS.

There are plenty of fan theories regarding what Rick’s drink of choice is (including some otherworldly cocktails), but Harmon has a much simpler theory: “I tend to assume vodka,” he said during a Reddit AMA. Though he understands that Rick’s intellect could lead him to have virtually any sort of intergalactic concoction in his flask, he believes Rick’s old-fashioned booze of choice “anchors his identity.”

So that’s the what in Rick’s alcohol, but what about the why? Well that’s something Harmon and the team are never going to delve into. In an interview with The A.V. Club, Harmon explained his reasoning:

“Justin was really smart about that, saying, ‘No, we don’t want to reveal that Rick started drinking when blah blah blah,’ because then there’s something very shark-jump-y about that, like where you learn that the Fonz didn’t always wear leather jackets. Because people aren’t like that.”

7. THE SHOW’S PILOT WAS WRITTEN IN SIX HOURS.

The first episode of Rick and Morty was written by Harmon and Roiland just moments after their pitch got sold to Nick Weidenfeld, the head of program development for Adult Swim. With Harmon still on Community, schedules would be tight once production on the show ramped back up, so it was important to get working on Rick and Morty as soon as possible. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Harmon said:

"We were sitting on the floor, cross-legged with laptops and I was about to get up and go home and he said, 'Wait, if you go home, it might take us three months to write this thing. Stay here right now and we can write it in six hours.'"

The pilot was written that day, which Roiland described as “kind of lightning in a bottle.”

8. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER INSPIRED ONE OF THE SERIES’ MOST BELOVED EPISODES.

Though the episode “Total Rickall” would have you believe the show was going to do an adaptation of Total Recall, the creators had something much different in mind. In the Blu-ray commentary track for the episode, the creators revealed that the initial inspiration for the episode came from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show.

In the show’s fifth season, it’s suddenly revealed that Buffy had a sister named Dawn, and the show’s characters blindly accept her into the fold as if she has existed the entire time. One of Rick and Morty's writers, Ryan Ridley, elaborated on this in the Y Combinator podcast, saying “Everyone’s pretending—I mean, they’re not pretending—they’re treating her like she’s always been there. But you know that, as a viewer, [Buffy] hasn’t had a sister for the first four seasons. So you find out the supernatural explanation for why that is.”

Shades of this can be seen in the “Total Rickall” opening, when viewers are introduced to “Uncle Steve,” who the family believes has been living with them for years. Without much hesitation, Rick shoots Uncle Steve through the head, revealing it to be a parasite that infected the family’s mind to artificially implant memories.

9. THE SEEDS FOR “TOTAL RICKALL” WERE PLANTED IN AN EARLIER EPISODE.

Unlike a series like Archer, Rick and Morty doesn’t have too many instances where episodes connect to larger story arcs for entire seasons. That doesn’t mean every episode isn’t related, though. Plenty of episodes call back to characters, plots, or gags from previous ones, but the show is at its most interesting when episodes slyly hint at the future.

In the episode “Mortynight Run,” Rick is seen loading a bunch of green space rocks into his ship toward the end. If you look carefully at the rocks, you can see a small pink blob on one of them. Fast-forward to “Total Rickall” and Rick is seen throwing those same rocks into the garbage, pink blob and all. Those blobs turn out to be the same parasites that infest the family in the episode.

10. ONE OF THE SHOW’S MOST ACCLAIMED EPISODES ALMOST “BROKE” THE CREATORS.

The success of Rick and Morty’s first season surprised everyone, so when it came time for more episodes, there was plenty of pressure to deliver. When the second season premiered, it did so with an experimental episode that was a direct continuation of the first season finale.

When the debut season ended, Rick had just frozen time in an attempt to help Morty and Summer clean up the mess from the high school/intergalactic alien house party they just threw. While shades of The Cat in the Hat abound, the cleanup does not go well, as the effects of stopping time has split reality into near-countless distinct timelines in the season two premiere, “A Rickle in Time.”

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Roiland said the episode "was just brutal and it broke us to a certain extent. We were so close to something amazing and we never really got there from a structural standpoint." Harmon agreed, saying "It went off the deep end conceptually and got really over-complicated."

In the Blu-ray commentary, it's explained that the main issues came from the writers and directors figuring out what the actual effects of freezing time would be, in addition to animating all of the different timelines and how they interact. Cracking the difficult premise and redoing the opening multiple times even put the entire second season behind schedule. Though Harmon and Roiland were convinced the episode was their worst, “A Rickle in Time” is highly regarded by fans as one of the best of the series.

11. ADULT SWIM PREMIERED AN EPISODE IN 109 15-SECOND CHUNKS ON INSTAGRAM.

Rick and Morty doesn’t just subvert expectations on the screen; the show’s creators do everything in their power to go against the grain when it comes to marketing and distribution as well. The most recent example came on April 1, 2017, when the show held its season three premiere without any advertising or promotion—leaving fans to scramble to watch it before it disappeared.

The most interesting exercise in offbeat marketing happened during the show’s first season, though. Instead of debuting the episode “Rixty Minutes” in its normal timeslot, Adult Swim surprised everyone by releasing the episode three days early. On Instagram. In reverse.

The official Rock and Morty Instagram page uploaded 109, 15-second clips of the episode in reverse order, causing fans to scroll and click and scroll some more in order to get the whole story. In typical Adult Swim fashion, they responded to the publicity stunt by saying, "It’s our latest frustrating exercise in audience engagement.”

12. RICK’S CATCHPHRASE WAS A COMPLETE ACCIDENT.

Though Roiland and Harmon are quick to point out that they hate catchphrases, Rick’s fairly ironic “wubba lubba dub dub” has become a staple of the show, especially during the first season. It’s used by Rick to punctuate a joke, and though he believes it comes from Arsenio Hall, it’s later revealed in the episode “Ricksy Business” that the phrase translates to "I am in great pain, please help me” in the language of the Bird People.

The phrase was actually a complete accident on the part of Roiland. In an interview with Noisey, he explained how the line read was originally supposed to be a reference to an old Three Stooges gag:

”We never really intended that to be a catchphrase, but we originally wrote that scene and it was scripted as parenthetical Larry or Moe from the Three Stooges, ‘wub wub wub wub wub.’ And Rick was gonna fall on the ground and do that circle thing they do. And in the recording, that was a last minute rewrite that I didn’t read, and I just didn’t know what the f*ck I was looking at, and I just did it wrong."

12 Facts About Revenge of the Nerds For Its 35th Anniversary

Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

In the summer of 1984, nerds were mainly perceived as guys who wore pocket protectors and had tape on their glasses. But in Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs was inventing the type of nerd culture we’re familiar with today. Decades later, nerds rule the world.

Revenge of the Nerds starred then-unknowns Anthony Edwards, Robert Carradine, Curtis Armstrong, James Cromwell, Larry B. Scott, John Goodman, and Timothy Busfield. In the movie, the jock-filled Alpha Beta fraternity bullies the geeks on the campus of Adams College, so to fight back, they form a frat chapter under black fraternity Lambda Lambda Lambda (Tri-Lambs), and take down the jocks. The movie’s plot and title come from a magazine article published around that time about Silicon Valley innovators—who just happened to be nerds.

The film, which was budgeted at $6 million, only opened on 364 screens (it eventually expanded to 877). Somehow the movie had legs and grossed $40,874,452 at the box office and ranked as the 16th highest-grossing film of 1984. It was successful enough to spawn three sequels, none of which were as popular as the original. To celebrate Revenge of the Nerds' 35th anniversary, here are some geeky facts about the underdog comedy.

1. Greek officials at the University of Arizona objected to the movie being filmed on their campus.

The movie filmed at the University of Arizona, and involved the college’s Greek system. The Greek officials didn’t want the movie to be another Animal House, so they threatened to halt production. “We meet with the sororities, and we’re worried we’re about to deal with a bunch of feminists who are pissed because this is a fairly sexist movie,” the film’s director, Jeff Kanew, told the Arizona Daily Star. “I just say to them, ‘Look, I have kids, and I’ll tell you now, I’d let them see this movie. It’s about the triumph of the underdog, not judging a book by its cover. This is a good movie.’” The filmmakers won, and the Greeks allowed them to film there.

2. The set was one big party.

Ted McGinley—who played Alpha Beta honcho Stan Gable—told The A.V. Club: “I was so embarrassed to say Revenge Of The Nerds.” Kanew cast him because he saw him on the cover of a Men of USC calendar, sold at the University of Arizona bookstore. His good looks attracted “hot girls” from the UofA campus to watch the dailies with the cast and crew. “They had beer and pizza and sandwiches,” McGinley said. “I mean, you just don’t do that on movie sets. It was just so much fun, and I thought, ‘It can’t be better than this!’”

3. Curtis Armstrong knew it would be a good movie, even though his character wasn't fully fleshed out.

Curtis Armstrong filmed Risky Business but then was unemployed for a year before he got Revenge of the Nerds. “You have to realize the character of Booger in the original script was non-existent almost,” Armstrong told Entertainment Weekly. “What was there was just, ‘We’ve got b*sh!’ and ‘Mother’s little d**chebag’—those kinds of lines. I was looking at it and thinking, ‘How do I take this and even begin to make it likeable or accessible?’”

With its strong cast, writers, and director, Armstrong said, “It has to be a good movie. But I wasn’t sure how it was going to be taken as opposed to Risky Business, which was sort of an art-house-type movie. This was very much broader and very much cruder, but it had a message that went beyond sex jokes.”

4. The scenes between Booger and Takashi were improvised.

The actors would bring ideas to the director and vice versa, creating a lot of improvisation in the movie. In one scene, Booger and Takashi (Brian Tochi) engage in a friendly game of cards. But unbeknownst to Takashi, Booger tricks him. “We ran and got our cots, and Brian and I were next to each other,” Armstrong told Entertainment Weekly. “It wasn’t planned that we would be next to each other. It just happened that way.”

The production asked the guys to “come up with something” for them to film. “We had nothing at all!” Armstrong said. “We went to the prop people, and they had a deck of cards. And that’s where that scene [and Booger’s whole bit about taking money from Takashi] came from. And they liked it so much that, every time Takashi and I were in the room together, we would have to come up with something else.”

5. Lambda Lambda Lambda exists in real life.

On January 15, 2006, the University of Connecticut founded the co-ed social fraternity. It’s “unaffiliated with Greek Life” and is “dedicated to the enjoyment and enrichment of pop culture and to the brotherhood of its members. Tri-Lambs does not discriminate based on race, gender, religion, class, ability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”

6. Booger's belch came from a camel.

In one of the film's more memorable scenes, Booger and Ogre compete in a belching contest. Booger takes a swig of beer and lets out a robust seven-second belch and wins the contest. But the effects were added in post-production. “I can’t even belch on command,” Armstrong told USA Today. “If you said to me, ‘Can you belch now?' I couldn’t do it.”

To make up for Armstrong’s dearth of gas, “They wound up finding a recording of a camel having an orgasm,” Armstrong said. “They took this sound and blended it in with a human belch.”

7. Curtis Armstrong wrote a bio for Booger, but it turned out to be about himself.

Because his character wasn’t fully developed, Armstrong wrote a one-page bio for Booger. Years later he re-read the bio and realized he and Booger had similarities. “I’d basically retold my life as Booger without even being aware of it,” Armstrong told Entertainment Weekly. “[One detail] was that [Booger] used nose-picking and belching as a defense mechanism because [he’s] insecure. Now, mind you, I did not pick my nose and belch because I was insecure. However, I was insecure growing up. I didn’t have dates or anything like that; I was not good around girls. But I had other ways of defending myself other than being crude and picking my nose. When I look at it now with some distance, I realize all I was doing was writing about myself.”

8. A Dallas test screening almost killed Revenge of the Nerds.

The film tested well in Las Vegas—an 85—but when the Fox executives took the movie to Dallas, the number dipped. “You’re gonna send us to Dallas to screen a movie that celebrates nerds and in which the black guys intimidate the white football players?!” director Kanew told the Arizona Daily Star. The movie scored in the 60s, which caused Fox to cut marketing for the film and only release it on 364 screens. “I don’t really understand what happened, but it hung around and grew and grew and grew,” Kanew said.

9. Poindexter was originally named after a prop guy.

When Timothy Busfield auditioned for the movie, his character didn’t have many lines, so he had to read Lamar’s lines. At the time, the character was named Lipschultz, after the prop guy. All that was written for the character description was “a violin-playing Henry Kissinger.”

“There was one line Lipschultz had in the original, but our prop guy was named Lipschultz, and he didn’t like the fact that there was a nerd named Lipschultz, so they changed it to Poindexter,” Busfield said during a San Francisco Sketchfest Nerds reunion. Busfield found Poindexter’s costume at a thrift store and showed up to the audition with his hair parted, and danced to “Beat It.”

10. The sequel to Revenge of the Nerds afforded Anythony Edwards a pool.

Anthony Edwards told The A.V. Club that he didn’t want to appear in Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise, but acquiesced because the producers talked him into it. He’s hardly in the film, but the money he earned afforded him a simple luxury. “I ended up with a pool in my backyard that I called the Revenge of the Nerds II pool,” Edwards said. “Not that I’m complaining, but they seriously overpaid me for my weeks of work on the film, so I used it to put in a pool.”

11. A remake (thankfully) got shut down.

After two weeks of filming in the fall of 2006, a Revenge of the Nerds remake stopped production. Emory University in Atlanta pulled out of filming, but according to Variety, the real reason was because a Fox Atomic executive “was not completely satisfied with the dailies.” The cast included Adam Brody and Jenna Dewan.

12. Revenge of the Nerds pushed nerdom into the mainstream.

“I’m not going to say Revenge of the Nerds was responsible for everything in nerd culture, but I do think you could make an argument that that attitude began with the last scene in Revenge,” Armstrong told HuffPost. “The last scene—the scene I probably love above all in that movie—we’re at the pep rally and come out in front of everybody as nerds, and encourage these people of different generations to join them in their nerdness. I get teary thinking about it, and you could certainly make an argument that that was the beginning of embracing nerd culture by everybody.”

This story has been updated for 2019.

The Office Star Ellie Kemper Wants to Do a Reunion Episode

NBC - NBCUniversal Media
NBC - NBCUniversal Media

While rumors of The Office getting a reboot have been swirling around for years, the outlook on that happening any time soon doesn't look good. But a reunion episode might just be possible.

Ellie Kemper, who played Erin Hannon in the beloved series, recently stopped by Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen to dish about the sitcom and her thoughts on whether it might be making a return to the small screen: "I would love there to be a reboot, but I don't think there will be. So, that's a sad answer," Kemper admitted. "But maybe like a reunion episode? That would be fun."

E! News reports that Kemper isn’t the only cast member that wants to get the band back together. Jenna Fischer, who played Pam Beesly, also thinks a reunion episode would be a hit. “I think it's a great idea," Fischer said in 2018. "I would be honored to come back in any way that I'm able to.”

A key player in the series' success, however, is not so enthusiastic about the idea. Steve Carell, who played the infamous Michael Scott, doesn’t think a revival would be well-received. "The climate's different," Carell told Esquire back in 2018. "I mean, the whole idea of that character, Michael Scott, so much of it was predicated on inappropriate behavior. I mean, he's certainly not a model boss. A lot of what is depicted on that show is completely wrong-minded. That's the point, you know? But I just don't know how that would fly now.”

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