Rick And Morty is a show that revels in its pop culture references. Despite taking place in a multiverse where any insane sci-fi adventure can happen, it’s a show that refuses to pretend other TV shows and movies don’t exist or that the audience isn’t hyper-aware of them at all times. In what’s become a staple of Dan Harmon productions, characters will blatantly call out references and homages in a meta, postmodern kind of way, as if to tell viewers, “Listen, we know you’re smart enough to get what’s going on here. Let’s just call it what it is and have some fun.”
With the third season finale airing October 1, Vice took a look back at the previous nine episodes and curate a list of all the pop culture references that have been made so far. Some references, like the episode titles “The Rickshank Redemption” or “Rickmancing The Stone,” are pretty obvious. Others are even called out by the characters themselves, like the Saw-inspiration for Rick’s torture games in the “Vindicators 3” episode. But there are some nods to pop culture that are incredibly subtle (or perhaps accidental?), like how in the season premiere Rick’s house as seen in his fake flashback is identical to Walter White’s house in Breaking Bad.
Judging by Vice’s breakdowns, the episodes get more and more densely packed with references as the season goes on. Here’s everything they found in episode 8, “Morty’s Mind Blowers”:
A character chasing Rick and Morty in the cold open references Dream from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics.
They run through a trippy structure filled with MC Escher illusions and upside-down staircases.
The premise of erasing hurtful memories is also from Michel Gondry’s 2004 film Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.
In Morty’s first mindblower, he thinks he sees a man on the moon, who shows up at his school the next day. The man’s car has a license plate reading SATFIV3, referencing the Saturn V rocket used in NASA’s Apollo moon missions.
In one memory, Morty is possessed and turns into a mix between a Super Saiyan from Dragon Ball Z, Tetsuo from Akira, and the demon from The Exorcist.
An alien forces Beth to choose which child will live and which will die, like the Two Face’s (Tommy Lee Jones) challenge to Batman (Val Kilmer) in Batman Forever to choose whether Robin (Chris O’Donnell) or Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman) will die.
Interdimensional cable comes on at the end, featuring a version of House Hunters where men with guns chase down and kill legged houses.
The after-credits clip recreates a version of Steven Spielberg’s E.T. where Jerry accidentally kills the alien.
After the credits we see Jerry’s Mindblowers, which include his lover Sleepy Gary from Total Rickall and the Hungry for Apples campaign from M. Night Shamayliens.
As with the episodes before it, the upcoming season finale will undoubtedly be chock-full of meta references, meaning this list will soon need an update. And, of course, there needs to be an entirely different meta-meta list of every time Rick And Morty references itself (“Rick and Morty forever 100 years! Rick and Morty adventures! Rick and Morty dot com!”).
Check out the whole list over at Vice.