HBO’s Westworld is inspired by the 1973 science-fiction film of the same name by Michael Crichton, but while the two share the same premise — a Wild West theme park populated by lifelike robots which eventually gain sentience — they don’t share any characters. At least they didn’t share any characters until the episode that aired earlier tonight, “The Adversary.” (Obviously this is going to SPOIL something about said episode, so if you don’t want to know it, don’t read any further.)

The main antagonist of Crichton’s Westworld was a cowboy robot played by Yul Brynner that becomes infected with a sort of computer virus and starts killing the guests. TV’s Westworld doesn’t have a Brynner character, but his dynamic costuming — all black, with a black hat — is echoed in the costume of its main bad guy, the “Man in Black” played by Ed Harris.

If you paid close attention to “The Adversary,” though, you would have seen an even more direct homage to Brynner’s character. It’s in the background of the shot below, while Bernard is looking through one of the abandoned underground levels for a computer terminal he can use to find the source of some stolen information:


That figure in the background left is unquestionably meant to be Brynner’s Gunslinger robot. He’s even got the Yul Brynner pose down.


I’ll leave it to someone else to draft a theory where the Westworld movie and TV show exist in the same continuity. Frankly, I’m not convinced they can. I just think this was a really cool nod to the movie for the nerds paying close attention. And that’s great. Not everything needs to be something. As Freud famously said, sometimes a cowboy robot is just a cowboy robot.