Rick Sanchez grew up in a dimension that would eventually be dubbed C-137. From an early age, he had a knack for tinkering with gadgets and pursued scientific discovery. One problem that always eluded him was teleportation. One day, he is visited by a variant of himself offering him the chance to travel the multiverse, but Rick refuses. Angry, this variant Rick teleports a bomb into Rick’s garage lab seemingly intended to kill Rick. Instead, it kills his wife, Diane, and daughter, Beth. Overwhelmed with vengeance, Rick eventually invented his own multiversal portal gun, so he could travel to each dimension looking for the variant of himself that murdered his family.
Rick Sanchez first appeared in the first episode of Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty, created by Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland. It originally aired on December 2, 2013. It is inspired by a short animated parody of Back to the Future, called Doc and Mharti, created by Justin Roiland for Channel 101, a short film festival
Major Story Arcs
The Flesh Curtains
As Rick traveled the multiverse, he went on a number of adventures, including becoming a black market arms dealer trading for more alien technology to upgrade his Earthling gadgetry. It caused him to grow more and more nihilistic, occasionally acting out and rebelling. He started small, doing drugs and going to music festivals.
At one such festival, he met Birdperson. Although Bridperson did not condone his nihilistic life, they became lifelong friends. They even started a band called The Flesh Curtains, with Squanchy, a small orange cat humanoid. Rick’s obsessively nihilistic songs forced them to stay on the fringes.
Being on the fringe, they eventually fell in with a resistance group that was standing up to the Galactic Federation, an imperial bureaucratic government. This included fighting in The Battle of Blood Ridge. Unfortunately, the Galactic Federation eventually got a foothold on the known universe and forced the resistance to go underground and disband. Long distracted from his personal mission, Rick returned to his manhunt for the Rick that murdered his family.
Citadel of Ricks
As Rick traveled to more and more universes but came up empty, he grew more and more depressed and nihilistic. He eventually turned to shooting first and asking questions later, eliminating a number of variant Ricks.
As word spread, every Rick in the multiverse started gunning for him. He set up shop in his bombed out garage, drinking and waiting for Ricks to show up and try to off him. Eventually, surviving variants started to band together to decide what to do about Rick. Rick used this as an opportunity to take a large number of them out with one explosion. Any Ricks that survived still try negotiating with Rick. They banded together as the Council of Ricks and had Rick of C-137 use all his alien technology expertise to create their new headquarters, The Citadel of Ricks, and their walled off section of the infinite multiverse, Central Finite Curve, which isolates the specific worlds where Rick is the smartest man on Earth.
Rick agreed, and as he mapped the multiverse, he found the Earth that his rival Rick came from. His rival’s version of Beth was still alive. She had married a man named Jerry Smith and had two kids, Summer and Morty. Rick decided to return to them, pretending to be their long lost grandfather, so that he could wait for his rival Rick to return one day.
Instead, he seemingly grew attached to his new family, especially his grandson, Morty, a being infamous among the Council of Ricks for his ability to balance their evil genius.
One night, Rick was approached by Morty. They had struck up a report and had been going on adventures together. Morty asked Rick if he could make him a love serum so that his crush Jessica would be into him at The Flu Season Dance. Bored by the challenge, Rick made it very quickly and instructed Morty not to give it to anyone who may have the flu. Unfortunately, Jessica did. The serum bonds with the flu virus and spreads to the nearby population, making everyone except Morty’s blood relatives become violently attracted to him.
Rick's first attempt to make an antidote fail. The mantis DNA he used transformed everyone into bug humanoids that now wanted to eat Morty after mating with him. His third attempt mutates everyone even further into disgusting asymmetrical blobs of human parts. He calls them Cronenbergs, after the famed director, David Cronenberg, who had dabbled in body horror.
Considering their current predicament too far gone to fix, Rick grabs Morty and absconds to a nearly identical dimension, Dimension C-131. That dimension’s Rick and Morty were about to be killed by a gadget gone bad in Rick’s garage lab. Rick and Morty were able to dispose of the bodies and take their place before anyone noticed they had died.
With everyone else none the wiser, Rick settled into a new universe away from his rival’s home universe. Meanwhile, Morty grappled with the existential crisis.
Worldender, an alien warlord hellbent on destroying planets, came to Earth on Rick’s watch. While his family tried to convince him to save the day, he was visited by a superhero team called The Vindicators. The team was started by Vance Maximus, an Earthling previously deputized into a galactic peace keeping force, and Supernova, an alien woman with great cosmic power. They were previous survivors of Worldender’s attack on other planets. Their plan was to recruit Earth’s greatest heroes, including Rick, to stand against Worldender together. The other members included:
- Alan Rails - The Phantom Conductor, capable of summoning ghost trains
- Million Ants - a sentient colony of a million ants
- Crocubot - A cyborg crocodile
- Diablo Verde - a green Hispanic fire-breathing ogre
- Calypso - a powerful voodoo sorceress
- Lady Katana - a female cyborg swordsman
- Noob-Noob - the intern responsible for non-essential superhero duties
Rick originally turned down their invitation for membership not taking them seriously, however, when Morty started to glorify them more than him, Rick decided to join them just to show them up. After helping them destroy much of Worldender’s army, Rick blasted him with a green laser, seemingly killing him.
During their exit, The Vindicators gave Rick and Morty a beacon so that they could be called if the universe ever needed the Vindicators to reassemble, although they had no intention of inviting Rick again.
A year after “reuniting” the Smith family, Rick is arrested during breakfast by agents of the Council of Ricks. He and Morty are taken to the Citadel to be interrogated for the murder of 27 Rick variants due to his history of not cooperating. Although Rick is innocent, his portal gun had been tampered with to show history of him going to the very dimensions where the Ricks were killed. Seeing no other choice, Rick fights his and Morty’s way out of the Citadel to find the real killer and clear his name.
Lying low on a planet where people are chairs and chairs are people, Rick cracks into his portal gun to track who remotely hacked his portal gun. It led them to a secret dome hideout covered in tortured Morty variants. As Rick explains, Morty variants have complimentary (ie stupid) brainwaves that camouflage Rick genius brainwaves, and all of these Morty variants were the ultimate invisibility cloak.
They get caught sneaking into the dome and are confronted by the scarred Rick and his one-eyed Morty. While Morty is imprisoned with a number of other Morties waiting to be tortured, scarred Rick and monologue about his plans to a tied up and unimpressed Rick. Luckily, he was saved by the imprisoned Morty variants who were radicalized by his Morty. They incapacitated the scarred Rick and called the Council to retrieve the now orphaned Morty variants.
As an apology and reward, the Council gave Rick a voucher for a free Morty if anything ever happened to his Morty.
Federation’s Most Wanted
Rick receives a high-tech invitation for the wedding between his best friend, Birdperson, and Tammy, a friend of Summer’s that Birdperson met during a houseparty that Rick threw with the kids. Rick reluctantly attends the ceremony on a distant planet with the whole family. It turns out to be a trap, when Tammy reveals herself to be a double agent for the Galactic Federation.
She kills Birdperson as armed guards descend on the wedding guests. Rick is able to escape with his family intact, however, they can not return to Earth, the first place the Federation would look for them. Instead, they settle on an impossibly small planet outside of the Federation’s influence. The planet was so small that he was able to eavesdrop on them from the other hemisphere. He overheard Jerry trying to convince the rest of the family to turn him in to the Federation. To spare them, Rick turned himself in instead, charged with “everything.”
When not incarcerated, Rick is interrogated over his portal gun technology. A Federation interrogator uses a psychic uplink to speak to Rick in his mindscape and look at old memories. Rick bides his time until he can hack into the Federation tech and reverse it, using it to body swap his mind out of Federation custody. His exit was interrupted by SEAL Team Ricks from the Citadel. He started swapping into Rick variants so that he could take control of the Citadel and teleport it to Federation space. In the ensuing chaos, he took control of the Federation mainframe and forced the currency to tank, robbing them of any of their power and ruining their colony on Earth.
Now able to return to Earth, Rick can reveal to Morty that this was all his plan to end the Federation and cause Beth to leave Jerry for suggesting he be turned in.
In the wake of her separation from Jerry, Beth wants the whole family, including Rick, to get family counseling. However, Rick does not respect therapy, so he turns himself into a literal pickle to get out of it. An unimpressed Beth notices the serum that would change him back rigged to change him back once they leave, so she steals the serum so he can’t change back until after therapy.
Unfortunately, a cat knocks Rick off his work table and a sudden rainstorm washes him into the sewer system. With no appendages to make him mobile, Rick used his teeth and tongue to create an exoskeleton from roach and rat parts. Unfortunately, the sewer had washed him to a mysterious secure government facility. The agents within saw him as a threat and forced Rick to defend himself.
Victorious but exhausted, Rick heads to the therapist office where he gets bluntly honest about why he doesn’t like therapy so that Beth would give him back his serum. Beth gladly gives it to him and even supports his decision to skip therapy after their doctor tries to blame Beth’s inattentiveness for her kids’ problems.
While working in the garage, both Rick and Morty see the Vindicator beacon turn on. Rick was ready to ignore it, but Morty invoked their deal for Morty to choose 1 out of every 10 adventures. After answering the beacon, they find the team, three members short, had gone on an adventure without Rick and Morty, bruising Morty’s ego. Now, Worldender had returned, and they needed every hand on deck to deal with it.
Seemingly jealous of Morty’s love for the Vindicators, Rick went on a drunken bender the night before their mission. While blacked out, he killed Worldender and rigged his corpse as the first stop in a series of intricate traps, inspired by the horror franchise, Saw. Rick, Morty, and the Vindicators were forced to solve the traps or else they would die.
The first trap was to match the members of the Vindicators with their vague origin descriptions. Sick of Rick, Vance tried to escape through an air vent and was brutally killed by a trap. Thankfully, Morty is able to solve the first trap because Rick’s opinion that the Vindicators are interchangeable was so obvious. The second puzzle required them to identify the location The Vindicators refuse to speak about. Crocubot is killed for choosing a controversial planet, but Morty knew the answer to be Israel, which Rick often ranted about when drunk.
Rick, who is already embarrassed about his blackout behavior, is even more embarrassed when he learns the final trap is simply shooting a basketball to stop a neutron bomb. Familiar with Rick’s handywork, Morty decides to just disarm it himself, but Million Ant and Alan Rails start to argue over Supernova’s affections, leading to Million Ants killing Alan Rails. The fifth and final trap involves putting the only part of The Vindicators that Rick cares about on a weighted platform. Rick instructs Morty to get on it, believing it to be him, however, Morty is taken to a hidden room with a video apology for Noob-Noob, Vindicator intern.
Meanwhile, Supernova ends up killing Million Ants and nearly kills Rick too if not for the rooftop party Rick had planned for solving all five puzzles, which Morty did. Supernova snuck away instead, leaving Rick and Morty behind and The Vinidcators finally done.
When Beth learns that the father of her childhood friend, Tommy, is about to be executed for cannibalizing his own son, Beth reveals that she used to imagine that her friend was lost in Froopyland, the fantasy world in her imagination. Rick then reveals to her that Froopyland is a real algorithm based, childproof pocket dimension generated in real time that Rick (or at least Rick’s rival variant) created for her. Her memory of Tommy getting lost inside of it was real, so Beth forced Rick to save him so that his father could be vindicated.
Upon entering the new world, Rick and Beth find it has been warped into a violent and disgusted place where toddler Tommy had aged into an adult without socialization and poisoned the world with his sexual desires that he never properly learned to control. They saw Tommy as unable to be saved, so Beth killed him and his children, while Rick created a clone to be “found” by the authorities, so that Tommy’s father could be saved.
Venting about their troubled relationship and Beth’s regrets, Rick offered to create a clone of her the same way. The clone could stay behind and take care of the family while Beth traveled and sought adventure. She initially refuses, believing the direction of her life should not be changed, but Rick went ahead and made the clone anyway. One stayed home with the family, and the other went into space. Furthermore, he turned his back and forced his machine to randomize the two Beths so not even he knew who the real Beth was.
New Galactic Federation
With Beth and Jerry giving their marriage a second shot with the help of therapy and Summer and Morty fighting over an invisibility belt, Rick was alone for the first time in a while. Unfortunately, he was approached by “Space Beth,” the clone of Beth that went into space. She wants answers about the proximity explosive she had removed from her neck set to go off if she got too close to Earth. Rick admitted that Earth Beth (or just “Beth”) has the same kind of bomb and that he is unsure which of them is the clone. Angry, Space Beth also explains that she has joined the resistance against the New Galactic Federation and become the most wanted rebel in space.
This scared Rick when he realized Space Beth lured Tammy and her Federation goons to Earth and might mistake Beth for Space Beth. He rescues Beth and Jerry from therapy and regroups with the family, however, Tammy catches up with them, kidnapping both Beths, not knowing which is which. With help from the family, Rick is able to kill Tammy and sneak onto the ship. He sends the rest of the family to shut down the superlaser that is threatening to blow up the whole planet, while he frees the Beths. Rick ends up bumping into them as they were able to free themselves.
Their escape is interrupted by a cybernetically revived Birdperson, now calling himself Phoenixperson. He is under the Federation’s control and fights Rick, both of whom have secret concealed weaponry. Rick was put on the ropes by Phoenixperson until Jerry, cloaked by the invisibility belt and puppeteering Tammy’s corpse, was able to distract him. This gives Space Beth the chance to defeat Phoenixperson.
The family returns to their home, with Space Beth as some kind of cool aunt. Rick also smuggles the pieces of Phoenixperson back to his lab, determined to fix his best friend.
Best Friend Rejuvenation Sequence
When the Smiths went on a family trip leaving Rick alone, he decided to focus on fixing his friend, Birdperson. He had successfully removed all the cybernetic pieces, but Birdperson is unable to wake from his coma. According to Rick’s A.I., his conscious mind had repressed itself into happier memories. So, Rick uses a neural interface to go look for him.
After moving through a number of their shared memories, Rick is joined by a sentient memory of himself. They almost catch Birdperson reliving a fond memory with Tammy before he escapes again. They ultimately tracked him to the memories suppressed by the Federation, where he was readying bombs to destroy his own mind, along with Rick. Luckily, Rick and Memory Rick are able to escape the blast.
They continue to follow Birdperson, who is traveling with a memory of Tammy, looking for a happy place to stay. After traveling through their military history, Rick and Memory Rick learn that Birdperson and Tammy had a daughter, despite her double agent status. They leverage that information to convince Birdperson to live for the good of that child. A new memory of Tammy won’t let them leave though. Memory Rick sacrifices himself to get rid of that Tammy, giving Rick and Birdperson a clear exit.
Back in the real world, Birdperson made clear his disappointment in Rick for withholding the information about his child until it was useful.
Fall of the Citadel
Morty and Rick have a falling out when Morty connects with Nick, a former partner of Rick’s who lied about abuse at Rick’s hand. The revelation that he was a bad partner, even though Nick was technically lying, still struck close to home for Rick, so he decided to leave, going on anime-inspired adventures.
He is eventually contacted by a middle-aged Morty trying to convince him to come home, however, it was all a fraud. Morty had taken aging serum from the Citadel to trick Rick into returning. After taking Morty to the Citadel to get returned to his correct age, the newly elected President Morty (previously disguised as a one-eyed Morty who was the real mastermind behind Rick being framed for murder) asked to see them. President Morty was trying to convince Rick to help him take down the wall around the Central Finite Curve, but Rick was not cooperating. President Morty anticipated this and had his brain scanned as he entered his office.
To escape the Citadel Rick and Morty go underground to find pure portal gun fluid after President Morty sabotaged all the portal guns in the Citadel. Unfortunately, Morty is angry about President Morty’s story that this Rick was once the leader of the Citadel, which he created using Morty slaves. So, Rick shared the stolen brain scanner with Morty so he could see Rick’s backstory. With a more cooperative Morty, the two make it to the Citadel’s portal fluid hub. President Morty is there to offer Morty a chance to leave to a world without a Rick, but after learning his grandfather’s tragic backstory, he decided to stay.
Without a portal gun to escape, Rick turns part of the Citadel into an escape pod, leaving them floating in space, with no help on the horizon. Just about ready to give up, Rick and Morty are suddenly saved by Space Beth, who brings them home.
Yet Another New Universe
Rick had been working on fixing the portal gun, however, a glitch caused former users of the portal gun to return to their home universe. Morty was sent to the Cronenberg world, Jerry was sent to a random world after being mixed up at Jerryboree, the Jerry day-care, and Rick was returned to his still bombed out home. Rick tries to collect things from his old home to make it back, but the A.I. of his wife he created to haunt him reminded him that he held onto his revenge plans for too long. Instead, he vowed to finally settle in with his chosen family.
The A.I. also implies to Rick that his rival, “Rick Prime” may have also been teleported back to his home dimension, the Cronenberg world. Rick traveled there to collect Morty and told him everything. They make it back to their old home where they find a clone of Rick Prime and a prerecorded message sowing doubt whether the clone is a trap or not. Thanks to his recent revelation, Rick doesn’t care and leaves.
They also retrieve Jerry from his original world only to come home and find their world’s original Jerry returned. He had been taking a shower while the rest of the family was reuniting. He accidentally releases a parasitic creature that is going to destroy the world, so the family without the correct Jerry have to find yet another new home universe, where their variants all coincidentally at the same time.
Rick's attempts to settle down with the family and going on classic adventures with Morty did not go according to plan. Eventually, Morty got distracted by yet another too-good-to-be-true group of heroes, The Knights of the Sun, and called Rick boring. After that, Rick created a robot double with a better attitude to spend time with the family while he locks himself in a lab under the garage to return to his hunt for Rick Prime.
Unfortunately, Rickbot was too good. He created a real Star Wars lightsaber for Morty for Christmas. Morty obviously dropped the lightsaber in the perfect angle where it started to burn through the floor. When he and Rickbot chased it into Rick's underground lab, Rick was found out. After much arguing, Rick returns to his lab, leaving Rickbot behind to help the President with the lightsaber crisis. He eventually tracks down a Rick Prime killer drone but finds it mostly useless as a way of finding Rick Prime.
As the lightsaber crisis gets out of hand, Morty and Rickbot are nearly lost in space but are saved at the last second by Rick with a portal. The mortally wounded Rickbot admits to Morty that Rick created him with good intentions, and Rick decides to include Morty in his hunt for Rick Prime. It is his real grandfather afterall.