Rick Sanchez is smart. How smart? His intelligence is so renowned across the universe that the equivalent of the Justice League calls him in for problems they cannot solve on their own. Problems that Rick then solves on his own while black-out drunk and hatching a plan to take down said Justice League (in ‘Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender’). He’s so smart that he can find himself in a sewer as a pickle with a mouth and make a series of escalating exoskeletons sophisticated enough to take down a crime syndicate (in ‘Pickle Rick’). He’s really f#!king smart. Why? Because he’s evil. It seems in the ‘Rick and Morty’ universe, your level of intelligence is inherently linked to your level of morality. Here are a few examples that point to this conclusion.
In the most recent Rick and Morty titled ‘The Ricklantis Mixup’, we are exposed to more Ricks from alternate universes than we are accustomed, which says something on this show. The Ricks populate almost every class of a new Citadel. Nowhere is it stranger than at a factory in which both the supervisor and the assembly line grunts are Ricks. The incongruity is explicitly pointed out in the episode. Why would two Ricks who are identical serve such asymmetrical roles? Our Rick effortlessly makes a self-aware robot with the heartbreakingly single purpose of fetching butter. These Ricks fetch the butter themselves. What’s the difference between these Ricks and ours?
It’s important to note that the Ricks in question are not like the so-called ‘Doofus Rick’ of Dimension J19ζ7 who’s simpleness can be explained away with a little head trauma. These are indistinguishable from our Rick save for the occasional haircut variations. They are, however, nicer. As a whole, they’re better people just by the nature of their formation of a Citadel that has social institutions, a justice system, and relative harmony. Our Rick, admittedly, would never take part in that. In Season One’s ‘Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind’, our Rick meets an “evil” Rick who discloses that he is only marginally more evil than ours. This feels correct, even if the rest of what this Rick says is unreliable. At the time, he was being mind controlled by his likewise evil Morty. This twist is profound. Mortys are almost universally stupider than Ricks. There is only one other example of Morty getting ahead in life without Rick’s aid. In Season Three’s ‘Rest and Ricklaxation’, the toxins holding back Rick and Morty’s happiness are removed and become self-aware. The resulting Rick becomes a better person, and arguably a dumber person. The new Morty is much smarter and more evil free from his insecurities and self-doubt.
What other conclusion can we come to but a causal link between intelligence and morality in this universe? At the heart of the character, Rick doesn’t care about anything beyond his fleeting self-interest, knowing that there is no meaning or justice for him in a godless universe. It’s a corrupting cynicism that unburdens his intellect to play god. The only character that can compare is the one version of Morty who has embraced a similar perspective. Perhaps this thesis will be put to the test when the two inevitably collide.
Let us know in the comments if you think the nice guys can finish smart.