In the actual TV show, Rick And Morty treats Back To The Future as if “crazy old scientist and his teenager sidekick” were a time-honored trope to be pulled out and riffed on, but the show’s proverbial origin story is that it was intended as a more direct spoof called “Doc and Mharti.” Series creator Justin Roiland later wrote:
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.
This is a sort of time-honored hobby of Roiland and his collaborator Dan Harmon, as a new video from The Film Theorists documents.
The video traces the duo’s puckish determination to receive cease and desists letters all the way back through earlier collaborations on Harmon’s old site Channel 101—where a short called “House Of Cosbys” actually earned the legal attention of Cosby’s lawyers—as well as series they made together on Acceptable.TV that features protoplasmic versions of Rick and Morty themselves. The show has gone on to riff on every sci-fi and nerd trope imaginable, but even its theme song was meant as a rip-off of the themes from Doctor Who and Farscape.
From there, the short video buzzes through a bunch of other Rick And Morty trivia you’ve probably seen elsewhere, but hey, the rest of season three isn’t coming any sooner, so why not listen to Rick burp for a few more minutes?