“Rick and Morty” Season 2, Episode 4, “Total Rickall,” includes a new member of the Smith family, Uncle Steve (voiced by Tony Barbieri), as if he’s always been a part of the series. When Rick shoots Steve in the head, he’s revealed to be an evil parasite feeding off the family by creating false memories and inserting itself into their lives. The revelation spirals into a horde of new characters who are introduced and quickly killed.
During a June 2017 appearance on the “Y Combinator” podcast to discuss his work on “Rick and Morty,” writer Ryan Ridley revealed that this idea came from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Season 5, which introduced Buffy’s sister Dawn Summers (Michelle Trachtenberg) as if she’d always been in the series. So, although the episode title might reference “Total Recall,” which is also about fake memories and lives, it really has “Buffy” to thank for all the madness.
“I think [writer and producer Mike] McMahan pitched that as, ‘Oh, in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Season 5, they introduce this character, Dawn, as her sister.’ 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,” said Ridley. “So you find out the supernatural explanation for why that is. That’s where it started. And then we built on top of that ‘The Thing’ element: They’re all trapped in the house, and they’re all suspicious, and then … I think [writer and producer Dan] Guterman pitched the idea of, ‘Well, what if this is a way to do a clip show?'”
“The Thing” meets “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” — that’s one hell of a combination.