Ramping up to Rick and Morty season 3, Adult Swim has paired with claymation mad genius Lee Hardcastle for a series of animated shorts. The little films, no longer than 30 seconds, toss characters from Rick and Morty into scenes from horror and sci-fi classics, including The Thing, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Ex Machina, and The Fly. Rick and Morty: The Non-Canonical Adventures, as the series is called, proves just how relevant Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s cartoon is to contemporary science fiction — any mash-up works seamlessly.
The shorts embed Morty and his family into far-fetched situations that don’t feel that crazy in this format, namely because Rick gets Morty into far more horrifying predicaments on the actual, canonized show. Most obsessive fans have been engaged with the show’s material, waiting anxiously for the next season to premiere, so ancillary Rick and Morty media has become extremely popular. Remember the actual court transcript that was animated and shared at Comic Con, or the explosive success of Pocket Mortys? Adult Swim has quadrupled down on their most popular property, and it’s working: fans of Rick and Morty express manic engagement with the show with an intensity rivaling fans of Aqua Teen Hunger Force or Venture Bros.
As characters in The Thing, the Smith family sits tied to their living room couch as Rick tests petri dishes of everyone’s blood for contamination. The quick scene is reminiscent of Total Rickall, in which the family determined who among them was an imposter. It’s sort of a shame to not see Mr. Poopy Butthole in this Thing spoof, but it works without him.
Sticking Rick into the Ex Machina dance scene, and making Morty’s eternal crush Jessica into a synthetic woman, works strikingly well. Even in canon, Rick expresses uncomfortable sexual interest in younger women, so watching him dance with Jessica is still, disturbingly, on brand for both the character and the sitcom.
In The Fly, Rick fits easily into Seth Brundle’s place, pulling Morty toward the telepod while his head breaks open to reveal a humanoid fly.
The only adaptation from a kids’ movie, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, just speaks to how playful Rick and Morty can be, despite its frequent digressions into shocking fare. At the show’s heart, it’s ultimately about family, and that emotional resonance is what keeps fans coming back for more.
Rick and Morty Season 3 will return to Adult Swim this fall.