Content warning: The following contains discussions of suicide.
The writers of Rick and Morty really know how to hit their viewers in the feels. It has made its name as one of the most emotionally torturous shows on the air. It’s also really funny and plays around with sci-fi concepts uniquely and interestingly, like in Rick and Morty’s Morty’s Mind-Blowers.
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Fans come for the jokes and the sci-fi concepts and stay for the emotional ruin. With an alcoholic nihilist for a lead character, Rick and Morty has delivered more than a few moments that brought fans to the brink of tears.
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Updated on April 5th, 2022 by Alex Gentile: Rick Sanchez and Morty Smith have embarked on dozens of adventures over the years. Season 5 brought some of the show’s most intriguing plotlines in 2021, revealing new details into the Rick and Morty universe. Furthermore, some of the saddest moments from the series come in its later seasons. This list has been updated with some of Rick and Morty’s more recent tales of woe.
Rick Sacrifices Himself To Save Morty
In the season 2 premiere, “A Rickle in Time,” Rick and Morty find themselves tumbling through an empty void between the many timelines they created. Rick has designed collars to get them back into their own time, but Morty’s is broken, so Rick makes the difficult decision to sacrifice himself to save Morty almost instantly.
He gives Morty his collar and then prepares himself for death. But then he finds Morty’s collar and manages to fix it in time. The moment before Rick realizes he’s going to be okay is sad, but it also proves once and for all that Rick does care about Morty.
Morty Buries His Own Corpse
Season 1’s “Rick Potion No. 9” might have been the first truly great episode of Rick and Morty. At the end of the story, Rick realizes that the mess he and Morty have made is irreparable.
They’ve filled the world with “Cronenbergs” and they have to leave their reality behind, find one where they died, and take their place in that reality. It’s a funny twist at first, but it leads to a harrowing and heartbreaking moment as Morty has to bury his own corpse in the backyard and then go on living with the knowledge that his life is a lie.
Morty Breaks Up With Planetina
In Season 5’s “A Rickconvenient Mort,” Morty finally has some romantic luck. He falls in love with a superhero, Planetina, and the two hit it off. Planetina is a hero driven by ecological pursuits. When she comes across some coal miners, she ignores their even-handed defense for harming the environment, flips her lid, and massacres them all.
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Morty is turned off by the incident, and despite his feeling for her, can’t continue his relationship with Planetina. The moment is so sad because it unpacks the complicated nature of relationships. Morty understands Planetina’s point of view and feels close to her, but can’t move forward having seen what he did.
Rick Turns Himself Into The Intergalactic Feds
The season 2 finale of Rick and Morty, “The Wedding Squanchers,” ended with a tremendous cliffhanger that fans perhaps weren’t expecting. Although Rick and the family had gone on the run and found a new little planet to live on, they had no quality of life, so Rick decided to turn himself in to protect them.
As Rick is taken to an intergalactic prison and locked up with hundreds of other inmates, the sounds of “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails help the gravity of the situation set in. Of course, Rick would be back out with the family within one episode in season 3, but it felt like a huge, momentous, irrevocable crisis when the episode aired. Many might say it is one of the best moments of Season 2 of Rick and Morty.
Summer Berates Jerry
In Season 4’s “Childrick of Mort,” the Smith family goes camping on a foreign planet. The main plotline follows Rick after he learns a planet is pregnant with his intergalactic offspring. As the events of the episode begin to unfold, Jerry brings Summer and Morty to set up a camp spot.
As they get started, Summer and Morty lay into Jerry. Morty whines about wanting to hang out with Rick, but Summer takes things up a notch. She character assassinates Jerry and accuses him of only taking them camping to make him seem like he’s “worth a f***.” The sequence is sad, partly because viewers can tell Jerry believes her.
Birdperson Reveals The Tragic Meaning Behind “Wubba-lubba-dub-dub!”
Catchphrases are considered to be lazy and tacky, but Rick and Morty has revolutionized the idea of a catchphrase, firstly by satirizing it with the wacky, random, ostensibly meaningless Rick and Morty quote, “Wubba-lubba-dub-dub!” and secondly by giving it an entirely new context.
At their big party during the season 1 finale “Ricksy Business,” Birdperson tells Morty that, in his language, the seemingly nonsensical phrase translates as: “I am in great pain. Please help me.” Rick isn’t very open about his emotions, because he doesn’t believe in therapy and deals with his pain by bottling it up, but it sometimes comes out in interesting ways like this.
Morty Loses His Girlfriend
Perhaps one of the most touching and heartbreaking sequences in Rick and Morty comes in “The Vat of Acid Episode” in Season 4. In the episode, Rick begrudgingly brings one of Morty’s ideas to life. He wants a device that can make him restart from any point in life like he is in a living videogame without consequences. However, amid the adventure, Morty meets a girl, falls in love, and develops a life with her.
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In the sequence void of dialogue, the couple meets a tragic event and takes a harrowing journey to rescue. However, Jerry accidentally resets Morty’s remote, and the entire relationship is lost. The moment hits hard because the sequence in which Morty and the girl develop a relationship is so sweet. Viewers perhaps want to cry along with Morty when the rug is pulled out from under them.
The Final Room In The Vindicators’ Trap Was Designed For Noob-Noob
For the most part, season 3’s “Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender” is a spot-on parody of MCU movies. While heavily intoxicated, Rick sets up an elaborate Saw-style trap for the superhero team that ends with a final room in which the one person Rick cares about is supposed to sit in a little carriage and go through an amusement park ride.
Morty thinks it’s him and he’s the right size and weight to activate the ride. However, as he goes through the ride, he realizes that it was actually designed for Noob-Noob, the janitor who always laughed at Rick’s jokes.
Rick And Morty Take A Break
Rick and Morty developed quite a stir with their most recent season. Perhaps the most buzzworthy rumor came around the airing of “Forgetting Sarick Mortshall,” that the titular duo would part ways in the episode.
They don’t exactly say goodbye for good, but the episode unpacks the toxic nature of Rick and Morty’s relationship. Sadness carries throughout the story, as Rick berates Morty while he tries to grapple with his feelings about his unfriendly grandpa.
Rick Almost Kills Himself
In season 2’s “Auto Erotic Assimilation,” Rick falls for a hive mind, has a great time with her, and then gets dumped. Like most sitcom episodes, everything seems to be back to normal by the end of the show as Rick and Morty return home and Rick retreats to his garage.
However, unlike most sitcom episodes, Rick is shown to be deeply affected by losing his love. He sets up a device that can kill him, but he passes out right before it activates. This is easily one of the most shocking and gut-wrenching moments in the show’s history.
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About The Author
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Ben Sherlock is a writer, comedian, independent filmmaker, and Burt Reynolds enthusiast. He writes lists for Screen Rant and features and reviews for Game Rant. He’s currently in pre-production on his first feature (and has been for a while, because filmmaking is expensive). You can catch him performing standup at odd pubs around the UK that will give him stage time. Previously, he wrote for Taste of Cinema, Comic Book Resources, and BabbleTop.
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