It’s been five years since Pickle Rick — the self-made god once mistaken by foreign intelligence for a vengeful creature from Russian folklore (who just so happens to actually be a mad scientist disguised as a pickle because he’s avoiding his adult daughter in family therapy) — was born.
Created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon [sci-fi sting], “Rick and Morty” premiered in 2013 as a foul-mouthed “Back to the Future” homage about a genius grandfather and his hapless grandson’s intergalactic misadventures. The two-time Emmy-winning series has undergone near countless reinventions since, multiplying the possibilities of alternate realities, clones, and sitcom resets to deliver 51 consistently smart episodes across five seasons.
Through it all, the titular Rick and Morty have grown (and regressed…and grown…and regressed) in their understandings of themselves and each other at a dizzying rate. So too has the concept of the “Rickest Rick” and the “Mortiest Morty.”
On the one hand: If the various versions of Rick and Morty that exist (“Hey, look! A cowboy version of me!”) were to be averaged, the result would theoretically represent the baseline Rick and Morty.
On the other hand: One could argue that a character’s most extreme behaviors (“This seems like a good time for a drink and a cold calculated speech with sinister overtones…”) more accurately reflects their innermost motivations and hard-grained tendencies.
Or, on the third hand (y’know aliens), the Rickest Rick is really synonymous with the most evil Rick and the Mortiest Morty is synonymous with the most pure-hearted Morty, and all bets are off because Rick C-137 could, in fact, be the Mortiest Rick and Evil Morty is the Rickest Morty and…
Therein lies the rub when rounding up the most quintessential Rick Sanchez moments. What makes the Rickest Rick the Rickest Rick is, to some extent, in the eye of the beholder. When Roiland and Harmon eventually wrap the series a cool 50 or so episodes from now, they’ll almost certainly leave viewers with a final verdict on Rick’s slippery sense of morality and Morty’s aimless devotion.
But in the meantime, it’s up to fans in C-1-Whatever-This-Dimension-Is to consider the messy multitudes of the man, famous for putting “Wubba lubba dub dub!” on the map (among other things), exactly as presented.
With that caveat-laden preamble out of the way: In honor of Pickle Rick’s fifth birthday, here are 13 “Rick and Morty” moments that feel the most Rick.