The Simpsons named the show’s parody of The Avengers “The Vindicators,” but there is irrefutable proof that this wasn’t stolen from Rick and Morty.

While Rick and Morty’s Avengers parody did have the same name as The Simpsons’ spoof of the MCU movies, this wasn’t a case of plagiarism by the older series. The Simpsons has playfully accused other shows of ripping off its storylines and characters occasionally. The creators of South Park have even acknowledged their creative debt to the series on numerous occasions. As such, viewers of Rick and Morty might reasonably have been surprised to see a parody of The Avengers named “the Vindicators” in The Simpsons season 31, episode 14, “Bart the Bad Guy.”

The Simpsons featured a parody of The Avengers called “the Vindicators” in 2019, 2 years after Rick and Morty parodied the same MCU property with a superhero team of the same name. This could have seemed like a coincidence or a meta-joke by The Simpsons creators. However, producer Matt Selman took to Twitter to clarify that not only was the name no accident, but it also wasn’t a case of plagiarism. Rather, Selman had written a superhero spoof by that name back in 1996, and it was Rick and Morty that had accidentally used the same title for their spoof.

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The Simpsons & Rick And Morty’s MCU Parodies Are Way Different

The Vindicators Rick and Morty

While they share the same name, that was where the similarities between Rick and Morty’s version of The Vindicators and The Simpsons’ spoof of the MCU superhero team end. Since Rick and Morty’s pilot, the show has been dedicated to mocking genre conventions and sci-fi tropes, so the Vindicators appearance (and later spinoff) was an elaborate subversion of the superhero team premise that exposed its members as a toxic, feuding mess. The Simpsons went for a more straightforward “names changed, everything else maintained” parody of The Avengers. The Simpsons episode mocked the idea of spoilers and fan culture more broadly, while Rick and Morty specifically parodied superhero teams themselves.

In short, Rick and Morty season 3, episode 4, Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender,” was focused on parodying superhero stories, whereas The Simpsons episode was more interested in satirizing how viewers engage with them in the real world. This fits the modus operandi of both shows since The Simpsons is a (slightly) more grounded family sitcom, and Rick and Morty is, first and foremost, a satire of the sci-fi genre. However, there is a weird canon connection between The Simpsons Vindicators and Rick and Morty’s parodic take on superhero teams.

The Simpsons Bart The Bad Guy

Selman noted in his Twitter thread that his pilot episode for The Vindicators was “about a team of superheroes with real-life problems.” This conceit is closer to Rick and Morty‘s version of the Vindicators than the one seen on The Simpsons, so it could have inspired the episode. The thing is, the pilot never aired, so the writers of Rick and Morty couldn’t have known about Selman’s proposed satirical story of a mismatched superhero team named The Vindicators when they wrote a strikingly similar plot. As such, The Simpsons and Rick and Morty’s shared Avengers parody can only be a bizarre case of parallel thinking.

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