Rick and Morty has emerged as one of the best sci-fi shows on television, despite being a foul-mouthed animated series in the same vein as South Park or Family Guy. The show expertly crafts fun and thought-provoking tales of the ethics of science, the love of family, and the personal self-realization of super-genius-but-kind-of-evil Grandpa Rick Sanchez and his high-school-loser grandson Morty Smith.
Although the show mostly specializes in an “Adventure of the Week” model, there is a continuity throughout the entirety of it. Relationships get damaged, bad things that happened in previous episodes are remembered in future ones, and the Smith/Sanchez family slowly gets further down the inter-dimensional rabbit hole. Like any story that deals with the multiverse theory (that there are infinite universes with infinite possibilities), things can get somewhat confusing. That leads to a lot of fan speculation.
Rick and Morty fanatics have scoured the show for clues and come up with these nine amazing theories, which each come with their own varying degrees of believably. Some are definitely more possible than others, but in a universe with infinite realities, can we really count any of these out completely?
9. Will The Real Morty Please Stand Up?
Are we even sure we’re following the right Morty? And by that, we mean the Morty that matches up with the Rick from universe C-137. At first glance, you’d probably answer “yes, of course, that’s the right Morty.” But consider the following:
We know that Rick had disappeared from his daughter Beth’s life for the last 20-years. We also know that Morty is a 14-year-old high school student. Despite that, we are shown that Rick has memories of Morty of a toddler.
How can that be, if Rick has been in the wind for the last two decades? The theory is that our real Rick is hanging out with a new family, and not his original group of relatives. If that’s true, what happened to real Rick’s original Morty, the one he remembers as a baby?
Well, it’s right there in the opening credits:
That’s right. Rick’s original Morty was devoured by giant frog monsters. The death of his original Morty led Rick into a spiral of drinking and depression, and perhaps explains why he’s so careless with the Morty we see on a regular basis. He already lost the one he cares about the most, so who cares if Morty 2.0 dies on their next adventure?
This theory goes even deeper. What if the Morty from the opening credits somehow managed to survive the harrowing brush with frog monster death? He would grow up to resent Rick. All Ricks, in fact. Some fans theorize that Morty turned into Evil Morty, the one responsible for killing thousands of Ricks.
8. It’s Not The Same Rick and Morty
It’s well established that Rick and Morty exist in a world where they have access to infinite dimensions, but we assume that we are following the adventures of the duo from Dimension C-137. However, one fan theory states that the series actually switched dimensions right under our nose — maybe for good. Follow along.
In “Mortynight Run,” we see Rick and Morty drop their Jerry off at a daycare center. They list “Dimension: C-137” on their Jerryboree form and get a ticket that appears to have the number “#5126” on it. The rest of the adventure doesn’t matter, except we need to pay attention to these green crystals that Rick brings home.
When the adventure is over, we watch Rick and Morty collect their Jerry and engage in small talk with some of the Rick and Mortys from other dimensions. One of those Ricks asks if anyone has seen Jerry #5126, meaning that the episode we just watched was an adventure of an entirely different Rick and Morty than we thought!
So, about those crystals. Two episodes later in “Total Rickall” (aka the Mr. Poopybutthole episode), we see Rick tossing those green crystals into the garbage can. And later, we learn that Mr. PBH has actually always been a member of the Smith family, even being retconned into the opening credits (and you thought he was just a parasite!)
This establishes that we’ve been watching a second universe entirely, one where Mr. PBH is totally real. Have we switched back since? Or are we still watching this new universe? Who knows!
7. Are Super Trees the Source of Rick’s Genius?
Here are two things we know for sure about Rick Sanchez: he’s a super genius and is frequently shown taking huge gulps from his pocket flask. We assumed it was simply a regular alcoholic concoction, but what if it was something more? If you go back to the pilot episode, you’ll remember Rick was attempting to smuggle Megaseeds inside of Morty’s butt. When the seeds accidentally dissolve inside Morty, he briefly becomes super-intelligent — although the seeds come with one helluva hangover.
This fan theory states that the source of Rick’s intelligence is actually some sort of Megaseed juice and/or potion, that he keeps in his flask at all times (to avoid the hangover of it wearing off). It could be why the very first episode of the show focuses on Megaseeds instead of any other Rick and Morty adventure. Show creator Justin Roiland once remarked “we’re not ready to discuss the contents of Rick’s flask yet” in a Reddit AMA. Admittedly, that leaves the door open for the ton of options. Still, this is an interesting theory.
6. Rick is Morty
Other than a single episode called “A Rickle in Time,” Rick and Morty generally avoid time travel plots. It can create tricky paradoxes that are hard to clean up. Besides, with infinite parallel universes, who needs time travel anyway? Despite that, this fan theory simply states that Rick is actually a much older version of Morty, who has settled into a universe where the original Rick was killed in an adventure.
There are a lot of holes here, though. First of all, Morty would have got a lot smarter in order to grow up and replicate Rick’s genius. Second of all, there are infinite Ricks, so does that mean they are all grown up Mortys? Lastly, they don’t really look very much alike, nor do their personalities match. However, if everything is possible in at least one of the infinite universes, maybe one reality exists where Rick is Morty.
5. Is Mr. Poopybutthole Real or Not?
In Season Two’s “Total Rickall,” the Smiths struggle to contain a parasite that manifests itself into the memories of its host. Soon they realize that the parasite is unable to create bad memories, so they can kill the fake family members who they only remember fondly. The running gag of the episode is that Mr. Poopybutthole is so obviously out of place, he must be a parasite too. Fans watched anxiously for someone to finally realize the truth.
The twist ending is that Mr. PHB is not a parasite, revealed when Beth shoots him after not being to remember a single bad memory. But what if he actually is a parasite, except that he finally learned how to create a negative memory? Moments earlier, Mrs. Refrigerator tried (and failed) to create a negative memory. Maybe the parasite learned from his mistakes and managed to successfully create the memory of shooting Mr. PBH, the tearful goodbyes, and calling the ambulance — even the post-credits scene with Mr. PBH going through physical therapy. The whole thing is given even more credibility when you realize that Mr. PBH inserted himself into every scene in the opening credits, which viewers know wasn’t the norm.
Many people now assume he’s real, but he hasn’t returned in a single episode since. Is it possible that Rick (or someone else) figured out a way to finally kill the parasite for good, but it happened between episodes and off-screen?
4. Rick and Ms. Frizzle?
So this theory actually goes outside the events of the show and theorizes a crazy cross-over relationship that has Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus being Rick’s ex-wife. The show makes very little reference to Rick’s former better half, only that they talk about her in the past tense. Is she dead? Or just teaching grade-schoolers the wonder of science somewhere?
Here’s the evidence: Ms. Frizzle is an eccentric personality with a love for science and exploring. She’s also a redhead. Why does that matter, you ask? Rick clearly has a type:
Also, Summer is a redhead when neither Beth nor Jerry is. It’s a recessive gene trait that can skip generations. The theorized relationship was doomed though, both due to Rick’s personal problems and because they had opposing opinions of the education system. Ms. Frizzle obviously dedicated her life to teaching science to others, while Rick thinks that school is a useless institution.
The final piece of evidence? Rick has shown a proficiency for turning humans into objects, including turning himself into Pickle Rick in Season Three and turning Morty into a car in Season Two. Just take a look at the magic school bus and tell me that Rick Sanchez didn’t invent that thing!
3. It’s All About Ice Cream
Here’s another off-the-wall fan theory. The entire explanation is quite long, but here are the nuts and bolts: everything in Rick and Morty boils down to one thing — ice cream. Characters are shown eating it when they are facing certain death, Rick and Summer beat up a bully who ruins a poor child’s ice cream cone, and Rick once offers Jerry and Beth $500 to go for ice cream in order to get rid of them. Jerry even drops a $450 tip at the Coldstone Creamery. According to this theory, it’s not because he’s a bit slow. Rather, he was willingly paying tribute to the alter of ice cream.
In Season Two, Rick takes his grandkids to one alternate universe, proclaiming “it’s got giant telepathic spiders, eleven 9/11s, and the best ice cream in the multiverse!” It seems like an oddly specific set of descriptions. As the show progresses into Season Three and beyond, will we see more examples of the importance of ice cream, perhaps as the only important thing in the entire universe? Well, maybe.
3. How the Federation Found Rick
At the end of Season Two, it’s revealed that Tammy is actually a secret agent for the Federation. Her planned marriage to Bird Person is a huge sham, and after Federation agents storm the wedding, Rick ends up locked away in a maximum-security prison. But let’s back up a second — how did Tammy find Rick in the first place?
We have to piece together a few key pieces of information here. First, there’s this scene where Rick walks through the middle of a huge intergalactic space airport without any of the guards being suspicious. It’s only when they realize that Morty smuggling Mega Seeds that it becomes a problem. Rick quickly portals them outta there, smack into the middle of Morty’s high school cafeteria.
Assuming the Federation can detect some of the data behind portals (like what universe and location are was opened in), they could have used that location to install a sleeper agent inside the school. So Tammy poses as a high school student, waiting for something else strange to happen. And then, by sheer luck, Summer brings a Mr. Meeseeks to school to help her become more popular. That’s definitely not a normal high school occurrence, so Tammy rushes over to “make friends” with Summer, assuming that it could potentially lead her to the wanted fugitive, Rick Sanchez.
Rather than take down Rick right away, she gets romantically involved with Bird Person, giving the Federation a chance to catch a dozen of their “Most Wanted” criminals all at once during the wedding.
2. Rick and Jerry Are in a Simulation
Back in Season One, one of the most confusing episodes was “M. Night Shyam-Aliens!”, which featured Rick and Jerry trapped in a simulation as their captors tried to trick Rick into revealing the recipe for concentrated dark matter. It’s part The Matrix and part Inception, as the episode quickly reveals that there are multiple layers to this simulation (although Jerry never seems to notice, because, well, he’s Jerry).
The clue that they finally made it out of the multiple simulations is that Jerry loses his tuxedo. The episode gives us a glance at some other creatures who are stuck in simulations, including this guy:
A few episodes later, those creatures appear again and are revealed to be Plutonians. And they are wearing tuxedos. Could this be a clue that Rick and Jerry are actually still stuck in yet another layer of simulation? Maybe everything we’ve seen since the fourth episode of this show is actually a complete mental fabrication!
1. The Source of Rick’s Depression
You don’t have to be an over-obsessed fan of the show to understand that Rick has some serious mental health issues. He’s egotistical, narcissistic, unethical, and even suicidal at times. Despite that, there are rare moments where Rick’s empathy and love for his family shine through. Perhaps he is constantly weighed down by the pressure of his own immense genius, leading to various attempts to take his own and/or drink himself to death. At the very least, he puts himself in a steady stream of deadly situations.
One theory proposes that Rick has become aware that he is the subject of a TV show, and it’s the one situation he can’t seem to escape from. He has broken the fourth wall on multiple occasions and we eventually learn that his new catchphrase “Wubba lubba dub dub” actually translates to “I am in great pain, please help me” in Bird Person’s language.
Need more proof? Rick’s comments to his butter-passing robot seem to suggest that he’s aware of his futile existence as a television character, whose sole purpose is to entertain idiots. We’d be depressed too.