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Why Rick And Morty's Wild Season 6 Reveal May Set Up A Tragic Ending

The Smith family in a ship
(Image credit: Adult Swim)

Warning! The following contains SPOILERS for the Rick and Morty Season 6 premiere “Solaricks.” Read at your own risk!

Rick and Morty’s return for Season 6 wasn’t quite as big of a mind trip as the iconic Szechuan sauce premiere that caused chaos and mayhem in the Rick and Morty fandom, but it was pretty close. The premiere picked up on the dramatic conclusion of Season 5 and revisited the true version of Rick Sanchez’s origin story that was touched on way back when with some key details. It was all very illuminating, though it might signal that the series has set up a very tragic ending. 

That ending, I’m guessing, is that Rick is using Morty in order to exact his revenge against Rick Prime, the Rick that killed his family. Here’s what we learned in the premiere that supports that theory, and the big lore update that feels far too big to brush over like the premiere so conveniently did.

Jerry and Morty in Rick and Morty

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

Rick Joined The Smith Family Of The Rick That Killed His Wife And Beth

Rick’s attempt to revive his portal gun inadvertently transported him and other characters placed out of their realities back to their home worlds. For Morty, this meant he went back to the universe that he and Rick accidentally “Cronenberged” into a post-apocalyptic environment. Morty was eventually saved by Rick, who then revealed that this is the same Earth that Rick Prime is from. Essentially, Rick Prime, the villainous Rick who killed our hero Rick’s family, is Morty’s grandfather. 

When Morty pressed for more details on that, Rick revealed that he joined the Smith family in hopes that Rick Prime would show up and he could kill him. The two quickly shot off to attempt to capture Rick Prime, but were unsuccessful in doing so. Morty asked Rick if he was being used as bait to draw Rick Prime out of hiding, but Rick assured him that Rick Prime simply does not care enough to try and go after Morty.

Rick and the Smith family plus Space Beth on Rick and Morty

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

Was Rick Lying About Morty’s Relevance In All Of This? 

By the end of this Rick and Morty episode, Morty is the only member of the Smith family from the Cronenberged universe that’s still alive. Rick doesn’t really have a reaction to the fact that Beth and Summer from the universe he hung around so long in are gone, and neither is he aware that the Cronenberged universe Jerry was killed by Rick Prime later. In fact, Rick really only made sure he and Morty escaped the Cronenberged universe way back when, which is weird because this Rick never actually had a grandson. Shouldn’t he be just as indifferent to the existence of this Morty as he is the countless others? 

Rick hasn’t always been the kindest to Morty; in fact, he’s been a complete dick to him at some points. And yet, he’s always made sure to protect him and ensure they’re together throughout all these adventures. Why exactly does Rick work so hard to keep Morty with him? The optimist in me wants to believe that Rick has developed a bond with Morty and hopes to protect him. At the same time, I’ve wondered how Rick’s origin story would impact his relationship with Morty since before the season premiered, and it wouldn’t be a question worth asking if there was a clear answer on what he’ll do. 

The realist in me believes that Rick has a reason he’s keeping Morty alive, and Rick’s past behavior makes it feel very likely there’s a reason he protects Morty. Perhaps the reason isn’t something as obvious as Rick Prime being interested in Morty, but there has to be something there. So much about Rick’s relationship with Morty flies in the face of how he normally interacts with people. Could Morty be Rick’s key in defeating Prime Rick in some way? 

Rick and Morty in front of an offensive sidekick wheel

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

Why This Is Tragic For Morty

No one ever said Rick and Morty was a series loaded with optimism, but assuming he is merely along for the ride because he’ll ultimately prove some value in defeating Rick Prime makes for a shitty reality for Morty. His world was turned upside down by Rick, and while he may mask some of his feelings about things at the present, it was hard to see how happy he was to see his actual father again in the Season 6 premiere. 

Morty has versions of his family currently with him in an alternate reality more or less like the one he’s known, but they’re not actually his family. His actual family is dead, and it’s all because of a man who isn’t actually his grandfather. Even if he found out in the very next episode he’s just a pawn in this big game, he doesn’t really have any other option than to go along with it, because what else does he have? 

Morty might not always act like it, but he’s still a young high schooler who was just trying to be cool and hang out with his grandpa. He didn’t ask for all of this, and now he’s so involved he couldn’t get out of it if he even tried. Just thinking about it really bums me out, and makes me think it’ll be an even bigger downer if Rick ends up ultimately using Morty and tossing him aside afterward. 

Rick and Morty observing a burning ship

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

Is This Rick And Morty Theory Just Too Cynical?  

While I should point out that Rick and Morty has often shown Rick to be an awful and degenerate person, he does have a softer side than maybe even Rick Prime. We’ve seen him forge meaningful relationships with people like Bird Person, and obviously Mr. Poopybutthole is a good enough friend to continue answering when Rick calls on him. Rick is not incapable of meaningful and lasting loyalty to specific people. It’s entirely possible that he has that sort of bond with Morty, especially after all they’ve gone through in these recent years. Rick’s complexity is what makes him one of television’s greatest characters, so he can always surprise us. 

With the way Rick and Morty is now, it’s unclear when we’ll get any further meaningful developments on Rick’s war with Rick Prime. It could happen in the very next episode, or we won’t hear anything else about it until the Season 6 finale or later (Justin Roiland has confirmed more canonical lore will be explored in Season 6). For now, we can only speculate on what we know and hope that Morty isn’t being set up for some sad ending. 

Rick and Morty airs on Adult Swim on Sundays at 11:00 p.m. ET. More new shows are coming to television each and every day, so be sure to keep tabs on what’s on the way and get ready for some exciting shows. 

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.