Rick and Morty is known for its elaborate sci-fi parodies and references to pop culture, but some of their nods are so subtle that only the most eagle-eyed fans spot them.
In the latest blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo, Pokémon trainer Ash Ketchum – famed for his near-psychotic need to ‘catch ’em all’ – can be glimpsed; and things haven’t turned out too well for him, it seems.
If you’d ever wondered what the 10-year-old ‘pocket monster’ champion has been up to since his days battling it out at the Indigo League, well, now you have the answer – eating hot dogs and doing drugs in Florida. Like a Hollywood superstar who peaked too soon, Ash only had one way to go: down.
In Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim’s Morty, Morty’s dad Jerry is convinced by a talking cat to go to the Sunshine State, where they party with a group of people on a beach.
In among the group is a rather haggard, middle-aged man wearing Ash’s iconic baseball cap and eating a hot dog. He pops-up again later on during a boat party, where he is seen taking a hit from a bong.
Fans were quick to decide that this was the former Pokémon Master himself:
Did anyone notice the ash Ketchum hat in the newest episode ?? #RickandMorty
— Patrick⭐️ (@pbelloso6) December 9, 2019
Was that Ash Ketchum hitting a bong in the yacht ? ?#RickandMorty
— ⓔⓝⓙⓞⓨ (@SleepUmai) December 9, 2019
Ash cameo in #RickandMorty tough
— Moza (@yungmoza) December 9, 2019
yo, did i see Ash hitting the bong? #rickandmorty
— マイク·パイプ (Mike) (@DBZWii09) December 9, 2019
What could this mean? Well, Rick and Morty does like a juicy pop culture nugget, having already paid tribute to anime classic Akira this series. If you remember, in the season four premiere Morty is shown one of many potential futures via a death crystal. Obsessed with dying by high school crush Jessica’s side, he is transformed into a huge monster (just like in ’80s anime Akira) and rampages across town, aided by grandpa Rick’s futuristic technology.
The series has also taken a leaf out of Marvel’s book by including post-credits scenes at the end of each episode.
So it seems like this could be another nifty Easter egg, and now we’re curious to find out just how Ash fell on hard times and ended up in Rick and Morty‘s universe.
Fans who spotted the apparent reference on Reddit have certainly got their own theories, one joking: “He just let it go after finally winning the league”.
“He let it go super early in life. 10 years old is early right?” another added.
Ok why did rick and morty make a reference towards my Pokémon and cat telepathy theory ? ? pic.twitter.com/zTKQId5oYC
— #NoFapA$APBOB??? (@CFlyingBanana) December 9, 2019
Fans have now also pointed out a particular scene in which the underwear that Ash is wearing looks specifically like a certain Pikachu that he used to train. See it below.
Meanwhile, Summer voice actress Spencer Grammer has revealed that more standalone and spin-off Rick and Morty episodes are on the way, which will explore her character more.
“You’ll see some pretty dynamic [stories] for Summer coming up,” she said recently. “We have, I think, two more episodes airing in this chunk. And then we have another five coming out eventually, sooner than later.
“And then we also have… I know they’re working on season five. I hope we do get to explore more from her background and the future and just in general.”
Maybe we could get a spin-off for older Ash, too?
‘Rick and Morty’ airs on Adult Swim in the US and E4 in the UK