It’s been a running joke for years: think of a one-liner, and The Simpsons probably already did it already. Now, the tables have turned. According to Rick and Morty fans, The Simpsons' latest episode – the series' highly anticipated Marvel crossover –swiped a superhero parody from Adult Swim’s hit series. However, all is not as it seems…
First, the controversy. During The Simpsons season 31 episode “Bart the Bad Guy”, the residents of Springfield watch a spoof Marvel superhero series called The Vindicators. Sound familiar? That’s because The Vindicators is also the name of a comic-book-style team in Rick and Morty that were introduced during the show’s third season.
Some fans decided to firmly point the finger at The Simpsons on Twitter, suggesting that the longest-running animated sitcom took more than a little inspiration from Rick and Morty.
The Simpsons stole from Rick and Morty's parody Avengers team name. The Vindicators lolMarch 2, 2020
Wait a minute... vindicators sounds familiar... like it’s been done before? pic.twitter.com/G5pPsDIPV0March 1, 2020
Tell @TheSimpsons that they ripped off "The Vindicators" from @RickandMorty #rickandmortyMarch 2, 2020
Matt Selman, executive producer and writer on The Simpsons, has addressed those concerns. He recounts the story of his version of The Vindicators, from failed ‘90s TV pilot starring “superheroes with real-life problems” all the way through to its usage on The Simpsons in 2020, some three years after Rick and Morty did it.
Savvy viewers may have noticed that the fantastically funny and smart TV show "Rick & Morty" ALSO has an episode about a fictional team of superheroes called "The Vindicators."March 1, 2020
In 1998, Comedy Central agreed to produce a pilot from Matt Selman's "The Vindicators" script, entitled: "The Vindicators." Upon viewing said pilot, Comedy Central agreed to never, ever air "The Vindicators," let alone pick up the show "The Vindicators" to series.March 1, 2020
Do 20-plus years of holding a made-up name in one's head, but never having actually put the name on television, entitle one to put a super-hero name into your own show, knowing full well that it has already been used in another show?Probably not.March 1, 2020
Selman also admitted he knew “full well that it has already been used in another show” but it appears to be a case of two incredibly-talented creative teams reaching the same punchline at different times.
Though, having said that, I’m starting to think the Kevin Feige-voiced Chinnos might be a rip-off of Thanos. Disney should look into that.