Rick and Morty‘s “Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort” dropped a canon bomb. Rick’s daughter Beth died when she was a little girl. Nerdist News covered what that means for the history of Rick, his late wife Diane, and Beths everywhere. But that shocking admission also has huge ramifications for the show’s other title character. This revelation completely reframes Morty’s role in his grandpa’s life. Because their relationship is not one bound by blood. It’s bound by something stronger.
The fake memory Rick showed the Galactic Federation in season three’s “The Rickshank Redemption” proved to be a lot more honest than we ever would have thought. The flashback showed his wife Diane—confirmed by Mr. Nimbus in the season five premiere to be both real and deceased—and their young daughter Beth both dying in an explosion caused by another Rick. Diane’s demise always felt like it had a hint of truth behind it. Especially since we’ve never met another version of her.
But Bird Person’s memory of 35-year-old Rick revealed that little Beth actually died too. And if Prime Rick’s daughter died as a child, she never grew up to have Morty. Therefore, the grandson Rick has taken on adventures for five seasons isn’t his Morty from his own dimension. It’s a random Morty.
Until now Rick has seemingly had a special bond with his specific Morty. A connection far stronger and more meaningful than his relationship with any other family member. When Rick Cronenberg’ed his world in the show’s sixth episode, he left behind that reality’s Beth, Jerry, and Summer. He only took Morty with him to live in a new dimension. (Which seemingly happened a second time thanks to devious squirrels.) That new reality was an exact copy of the pre-Cronenberg dimension, except their counterparts died moments before they arrived. (They famously buried the bodies in the backyard.)
Rick loves the daughter he has now. He also loves the granddaughter he lives with. And he even cares about this particular Jerry. But Rick’s bond with his first Morty has always been more meaningful. The easy assumption for why was always simple. This Rick had a special bond with his own specific grandson, and not some random Morty from some random dimension.
Now we know this Morty was random. Just one of an infinite number of Mortys available to Ricks everywhere. He’s no different than the many grandsons the Citadel of Ricks used to train. Where Mortys got assigned to random Ricks all the time. This particular pairing might be even more random than that. When he was younger, Rick didn’t even know Morty existed. A fact revealed when old Rick told Birdperson’s memory of 35-year-old Rick that Morty loves the Shrek movies.
“Hypothetical grandson we go on adventures with.”
“You’re one of those creeps who moves in with Abandoned Adult Beths.”
“It’s more complicated than that.”
“You live with a version of our dead daughter, it better be.”
There’s no inherent bond between Rick and any member of his family. Morty included. But just because there’s nothing inherently special about Rick and Morty’s relationship doesn’t mean it’s not special. Instead of being a union bound by blood (or dimension), it’s one bound by love. Rick found something in Morty he was always looking for. And that something was also revealed to us during his Charlie Kaufman-esque adventure in Birdperson’s mind.
After the Battle of Blood Ridge, Rick asked Birdperson to travel the multiverse with him. He wanted the two of them to spend their lives together going on fun adventures. Because in a universe with infinite realities, nothing matters. So you might as well have a good time. Especially when you’re running from unimaginable pain. Birdperson wanted to know why he should do that if nothing matters. “You matter,” Rick answered. “To me.”
Birdperson rejected Rick’s offer for 100 years of adventures. But eventually, Rick found someone who would do just that with him. He found his very own Morty. And unlike Beth, Summer, and Jerry, this Morty is irreplaceable. Just like Rick refused to find a different version of Birdperson in another dimension, he doesn’t want another version of his grandson.
Rick and Morty completely reframed the relationship between its title characters. We don’t know why Rick picked this Morty. We don’t know if this specific Morty is special in any way. Or how he would react to learning the truth about his grandpa. But now we know they aren’t connected by a shared dimension. Rick and Morty’s relationship is special because this Morty matters to him.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike, and also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.