The Surprising Inspiration Behind the ‘Fast & Furious’ Franchise

Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, and 'The Golden Girls'
Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, and 'The Golden Girls'

Now 12 years old, the "Fast and Furious" franchise has certainly traveled down the road and back again.

One could even argue its heart is true and that it's been a pal and a confidant to its loyal and expanding fan base.

Oh we could keep going.

Jokes aside, "Fast & Furious 6" director Justin Lin, who has now helmed four of the car-themed action films, has revealed an unexpected, if not quirky, inspiration that informed his vision for the popular movie series: a very special episode of the hit '80s show "The Golden Girls."

Yes, before Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and a slew of other "Fast" stars ever conceived of going behind the wheel, it was Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty, and Bea Arthur who were blowing Lin's mind.

Let us explain.

Justin Lin, right, and Paul Walker on the set of 'Fast & Furious 6'
Justin Lin, right, and Paul Walker on the set of 'Fast & Furious 6'

Remember "Hurricane Night"? It was a television event at the time that linked three separate shows on NBC – "The Golden Girls," "Nurses," and "Empty Nest." "They had Hurricane Saturday night, this gimmicky thing where the hurricane hit all three shows. It blew me away as a kid: They all live in the same universe!” Lin recently told Entertainment Weekly.

When he took over the series for 2006's "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift," he knew he had to spice it up with some of that hurricane action. "That was a critical point in the direction of the franchise," Lin said. “We were talking about the mythology, how all these characters are connected.”

Diesel was in the first "Fast" film, and Eva Mendes – along with a whole new cast that included Tyrese Gibson and rapper Ludacris – was in the second. (And Walker has been in every "Fast" film except for "Tokyo Drift.") In "Drift," Lin blew everyone's mind with that "Golden Girls" hurricane episode effect when Diesel showed up in the last scene, reprising his role as Dominic. Lin rounded out that world-expanding effect by doing something similar with Eva Mendes's character in 2011's "Fast Five" -- putting her in a post credit scene and dropping the bombshell that Rodriguez's character Letty is in fact alive. He also added Dwayne Johnson aka the Rock to the mix in that installment – which further expanded the universe of "Fast" heroes.

In "Fast 6," due in theaters May 24, it's no secret that Letty is indeed back from the grave. And her jaw dropping resurrection is explained. Meanwhile, Johnson's character Luke joins forces with his former foe Dominic (Diesel) to battle a whole new villain for even more, bigger, badder action.

As he has done in past installments, Lin drops another giant easter egg at the end of "Fast 6" on his fans. We won't spoil it for you, but we will let you know one hint: It's a whole new character that's being introduced in "Fast & Furious 7" – which is currently in pre-production.

Indeed, the mythology and the series continue to expand. Thank you "Fast and Furious" for being a friend.

Watch 'Fast & Furious 6' Featurette -- A Look Inside:

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