Did Adult Swim’s ‘Rick And Morty’ Rip Off ‘Back To The Future?’

Creators Admit 'There Will Be Comparisons'

'Rick and Morty' on Adult Swim

If you liked BACK TO THE FUTURE, you’ll probably want to check out RICK AND MORTY.

The creators of Adult Swim’s newest animated series freely admit they originally set out to create a “very offensive treatment” of the relationship between Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox).

In its earliest stages, “it was going to be called ‘The Real Animated Back To The Future with Marty McFly and Doc Brown Sponsored By Universal Studios,’” co-creator Justin Roiland tells me.

“I was just going to do everything I could to get a cease and desist order from Amblin or whoever owns it.”

But as the project progressed, Roiland admits he began to fear legal action that could potentially flush all of his creative efforts down the toilet.

“I totally pussed out and changed the names,” he says.

“We decided to develop the whole show around these two characters [but] it’s funny because now saying ‘Doc & Marty’ sounds weird.  The characters are so far from their origins in my mind.  But there will be comparisons.  In fact there have already been people on Twitter saying “I think this is inspired by Back To The Future.”  And I don’t say anything.  I just read it and think “Yup.  You figured it out!”

RICK AND MORTY co-stars Sarah Chalke, Spencer Grammer and Chris Parnell.

Roiland and co-creator Dan Harmon (of COMMUNITY fame) shared more about the series when we caught up at Adult Swim headquarter in Burbank yesterday.

What were you guys smoking when you came up with this?
JR:  Dan and I both really love sci-fi and we lucked out on developing a show that allows for unlimited sci-fi potential.  Rick is this infinitely capable guide that is somewhat sociopathic and nuts who and yet is able to lead the audience and Morty on a bunch of journeys and slowly unveil why it is okay for him to be as fucked up as he is.  Even though it is not really ok.

This looks like it could be a broadcast show.  Why is it on Adult Swim instead of, say, Fox?
DH:  Adult Swim came to me and asked if I had anything.  Then I went to Justin and asked “What is the thing you are most excited about.”  So we developed this and took it to them.  At a certain point they started having a sideline conversation with us, saying the thing that they are excited about is the idea of starting to grow Adult Swim toward those shores of primetime.  And if we could bring it in and have a TV-14 rating that would open up our time slot potential.  And if we could do a half hour instead of 15 minutes, they would like this to be, possibly, the flagship in an invasion of those beaches.  And I was very excited for that.  I always thought I would not be at home at Adult Swim.  My sensibilities, relative to Adult Swim, are pretty mainstream.  And tame.

Are shows like this tested with focus groups?
DH:  The network does that stuff on their end.

JR:  The only focus testing was the pilot but they said that was a technicality.  But it tested very well.

Did the network give you any notes along the way?
JR:  There were a couple.  One in particular was that people really responded to the sister character [voiced by Spencer Grammer].  I remember that one specifically.

RICK & MORTY premieres December 2 at 10:30 PM.

Will you be watching? Check out the official trailer and be sure to leave a comment below.


Sean Daly

Sean Daly

Editor-In-Chief at TheTVPage.com
Sean Daly is a veteran entertainment journalist.His work has appeared in People, Us Weekly, The Toronto Star and other top publications. He was the west coast TV reporter for The New York Post from 2008 - 2013. Sean is the author of Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America's Got Talent and Teen Mom Confidential: Secrets and Scandals From MTV's Most Controversial Shows.
Sean Daly