Rick and Morty Season 6 featured some of the show’s best episodes to date, but fans will have to wait for Episode 7, as it’s currently on a mid-season hiatus and will return in November. However, if the episode titles are anything to go by, viewers are in for a more nerdy culture, as “Full Metal Jackrick” and “Analyze Piss” hint at more movie-based episodes.
But the Adult Swim animated show isn’t the only one indulging in nerd culture. Between British sitcoms about IT employees, a community college-based show full of themed episodes, and a detective show that references the same iconic film every episode, nerd culture fuels these series.
The Big Bang Theory (2007-2019)
The Big Bang Theory is the most obvious example when it comes to shows steeped in geek culture. It almost feels like the main characters dress up as Justice League every other episode, and the show is littered with superhero paraphernalia. And whether Sheldon is wearing giant Hulk gloves or a Green Lantern t-shirt, there’s always some kind of superhero attire in any given scene that comic book fans can appreciate.
While most would say the show forgot what made it great by the time it last seasoned, geek culture was still present. And even outside of the superhero genre, the show is known for popularizing the theory that Indiana Jones is a useless character in her own movie.
Rick and Morty (2013-)
When Rick isn’t terrorizing his own family and constantly alienating his own grandson in Rick and Morty, he’s usually indulging in fun movie references. Even then, Rick’s violent and daring tendencies often intersect with full episodes based on sci-fi films, like Back to the Future and Inception, and even horror films like A Nightmare on Elm Street.
There’s even an episode full of creatures called Cronenbergs, a direct reference to iconic horror director David Cronenberg, that would fly over most viewers’ heads. In Season 6 alone, there have been episodes based on Basic Instinct, Final Destination, and Jurassic Park, and there are still more to come.
Abed, who apparently has a photogenic memory when it comes to movies and geek culture, is a vessel for endless references and whole episodes based on what he loves. Whether he’s parodying Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, re-enacting his own version of Goodfellas, or even making his own movie, the cheesy references and easter eggs never stop.
However, it also led to character dialogue and actions that particular characters wouldn’t necessarily say or do. When Abed shoots an overly pretentious movie on campus, Shirley calls him Charlie Kaufman, after the screenwriter who wrote such highly specialized movies as Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. Having never shown any interest in movies before, it’s extremely unlikely that Shirley has ever heard the name Charlie Kaufman.
The IT Crowd (2006-2013)
The IT crowd may not have caused a stir in the US, but it’s massive in the UK, the series’ home. The series follows two IT workers in an office building who are relegated to the basement and only called in when a worker’s PC isn’t working. They have no social skills and only know how to talk to each other in movie quotes about those same movies.
As often happens with popular British sitcoms, there was an American remake of The IT Crowd, but it didn’t land as well. Ironically, the show starred Joel McHale, but after the show was immediately canceled, he quickly found a new show based on geek culture, Community.
Bob’s Burgers (2011-)
Fans need only look at the promotions board to see what a giant ode to nerd culture Bob’s Burgers is. Some of the many burgers of the day were the Bob Day Afternoon, the Little Swiss Bunshine burger and the Top Bun burger, to name a few.
But outside of the meat patties, the show is always full of tributes to the most famous films of all time. The series parodied Die Hard down to the iconic shot of Hans Gruber falling from Nakatomi Plaza, and “The Belchies” is a nostalgic episode based on The Goonies. The Bob’s Burgers movie-themed episodes tend to be the best in the series.
Brooklyn Nine Nine (2013-2021)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine focuses on a subsection of nerd culture: Die Hard. In the crime sitcom, Die Hard is gospel, and there are no light arguments about whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie. On the show, Jake Peralta has an unhealthy obsession with the 1988 film, and it’s almost like he’d kill to be John McClane.
The series is almost indebted to Die Hard for its success, as there must be so many fans of the film who have stuck with the series due to the number of references. Die Hard is mentioned in an incredible 25 episodes of the show, and if fans take into account that Jake wears his badge on a chain around his neck, just like McClane, that’s every episode.
How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014)
While shows like Community and The Big Bang Theory create entire episodes based on nerd culture, How I Met Your Mother is more subtle about it – that’s if having a huge Storm Trooper in an apartment for decorative purposes is subtle. The show has hints of nerd culture in most episodes, like Ted potentially ending a relationship depending on whether or not his other half likes Star Wars.
There’s also an episode called “Trilogy Time,” which sees Ted meeting up with childhood friends every few years to watch the original Star Wars trilogy, and it’s actually a surprisingly touching episode. But while How I Met Your Mother is clearly loaded with Star Wars adoration, it doesn’t leave out The Lord of the Rings either, which receives almost as many homages.
Everything Rick and Morty does, Futurama did first, and that includes all episodes based on high-profile sci-fi movies. The sci-fi animated comedy has episodes based on everything from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to 300, and each one is funnier than the last.
There’s also a whole character based on Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, Zapp Brannigan, and he’s the funniest recurring character. And while the titles of future Futurama episodes don’t hint at any episodes based on established franchises, Zapp is back, because “Zapp Gets Canceled” is one of the most exciting episodes.
The Office (2005-2013)
The office is fertile ground for nerd culture, especially since there have been six Halloween-themed episodes of the office, making it a perfect way to cram in so many nerdy movie and TV references. . Whether it’s Dwight dressed as Sarah Kerrigan from Battlestar Galactica or Meredith dressed as Black Widow from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, every frame of Halloween episodes is filled with nerd culture.
But the absolute pinnacle of nerd culture at The Office was when nearly every Dunder Mifflin employee dressed up as the Joker for Halloween after the success of The Dark Knight. And just like every iteration of the Joker in the movies, each employee hilariously has their own take on the character.
While most show that nerd culture is full of nerdy characters, JD might be the most realistic nerd of them all. As Scrubs’ biggest laughs come from the Doctor’s many daydreams, he’s literally dreaming like a nerd, as he imagined him and his friends to be Star Wars characters.
And as he walked away, JD fantasized that Turk was also Indiana Jones and West Side Story characters. Sacred Heart Hospital is basically JD’s dream palace, and in it he can imagine being part of whatever movie franchise or TV show he loves.