By Rafique Shabbir
Rick and Morty is a sci-fi animated comedy series that follows the Smith family and their mad-scientist grandfather, Rick Sanchez. Many animated-comedies have their fair share of jokes now and then, and Rick and Morty is no exception, but underneath all the jokes, there are many interesting deep thoughts the show conjures. The plot follows Rick Sanchez as he drags his grandkids Morty and Summer on many crazy dimensional adventures. The series is well written with many jokes and references. Throughout the three seasons, a common theme brought up is the meaning of life. Many of the characters that are encountered on the show each have their own view on their existence.
Rick creates a small robot built with a singular function. When this robot is created it asks what is its purpose in life. When Rick responds that its sole purpose is to pass the butter, it reacts utterly disappointed, to which Rick responds: “Yup, welcome to my world.” The robot is disappointed with its existence, because it seems meaningless and has little purpose.
Rick also creates a meeseeks box used to summon a meeseeks, a blue humanoid, in which you then “…make a request…the meeseeks fulfills the request… and then it stops existing.” The meeseeks themselves are used to serve the person who summons them, and their only intent in their short life is to fulfill the request, so they can stop existing. This may not sound good, but in the episode in which they appear, we find that the longer that meeseeks are alive trying to fulfill their purpose the unhappier they get. As the meeseeks have said, “existence is pain” and many other times, “I just want to die.” The meeseeks are ok with just serving a singular purpose and then dying immediately after they’ve fulfilled their purpose, as they see no other reason to exist at all right after, but are happy nevertheless.
There are many other characters as well, but the most interesting dynamic is between Rick Sanchez and Jerry Smith. Both have a strong dislike for each other and have contrasting views on life as well.
Jerry himself is a loser who, much to Rick’s dislike, is married to Rick’s daughter, Beth. Rarely is he caught up in crazy adventures with Rick, unlike his kids. He does, however, face his own obstacles as well. One is being unemployed. Another is trying to hold together a marriage that ends in divorce. Jerry himself lacks a “frame of reference,” simply passing off Rick’s adventures as just silly or pointless while treating his own personal struggles in the “real world” as more important. Jerry sees meaning in his life, and says “life is effort, and I’ll stop when I die.” Jerry himself clearly sees a lot of purpose in his life, and is willing to keep going forward. Rick, on the other hand, thinks otherwise.
Rick is a 70-year-old mad scientist, and possibly the smartest person in the entire universe. Even among the other multiverses of other Ricks, he considers himself to be the Rickiest Rick in all the multiverses. Rick, being at an intellectual level above the other characters, has a much different outlook on life. Rick has been on many adventures, even before he started dragging along his grandkids. He’s been on adventures that have caused him to be the most wanted person in the multiverse. He has travelled from dimension to dimension with his portal gun getting himself into all sorts of crazy situations. While his backstory is unknown, we know that he abandoned his wife and daughter Beth and only reappeared again to live in his daughter’s house. Rick sees life as meaningless, with no purpose whatsoever. Rick is very aware that he is only one of infinite other Ricks in other universes, and that what he does isn’t unique and is happening in an infinite number of other universes as well. He sees life as more disposable than others might think, showed in many other episodes. When the earth is taken over by a rampant disease, plunging the world into an apocalypse for which he and Morty are responsible, he travels to another universe, where he is successful in reverting the crisis, kills the Rick and Morty of that universe, and presumes to take over their lives for the rest of the show. Morty is traumatized at first, having to see a bloody corpse of himself and Rick, while Rick responds to Morty and says, “Don’t think about it.” Aside from that, he is very indifferent to what happens in life. When Beth tells Rick about how disappointed she is in her life despite being successful and having a family, Rick then tells her that her problem is that she is smart and what she needs to do is take “the universe for a ride,” a type of approach that Rick himself has to life. But unlike Rick, Beth makes the excuse that she has a family to look after and care for, whereas Rick sees no meaning in such things.
The show itself very much support Ricks viewpoint on existence, viewing the other viewpoints from other characters as comedic. Rick himself is very smart and one of the most interesting and likeable characters on the show. However, simply accepting his viewpoint would be a very un-rick thing to do. As Rick says to his grandkids, “Don’t be sheep, think for yourselves.” Therefore, it is better that viewers and fans of the show, instead of simply accepting Rick’s viewpoint on life, do their own thinking before jumping to conclusions.