Posted by Ricky Derisz @rickyd90
Staff Writer at MP. "Holy cow, Rick! I didn't know hanging out with you was making me smarter!"
Ricky Derisz

In Rick and Morty, anything is plausible. The universe-travelling nature of the narrative opens up many doors (as well as some fake doors) to different planets, parallel worlds, interesting extra terrestrials and batshit crazy theories aiming to make sense of what's going on.

It's a facet of the sci-fi animation that creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon must find much satisfaction from. Despite the never-ending wait between Season 2 and Season 3, there's enough depth, enough complexity, and enough to work with that devoted fans are still analysing events across the first two seasons.

This does lead to the absurd being drawn from elements that may be simple references thrown in for the sake of it. One such example is the nature of Rick, and his awareness of being involved in a fictional show. Rick's fourth wall breaking is a nice addition, but what is its relevance? Is there more than meet the eye?

How Does Rick Know He's In A TV Show?

A Reddit theory examining Rick's meta-awareness sparked a stream of consciousness on the subject; the root of which stems from Rick not only suspecting he is in a fictional show, but knowing he is. As well as his out-of-place catchphrases, in "Ricksy Business" he tells the audience "that's the end" and asks to "roll the credits." In "Look Who's Purging Now" he refers to "those candy bears we had in the first act." The most intelligent guy in the universe knows what's up.

The theory in question notes that the only other character depicted as being aware of the reality that Rick and Morty is a television show is the phallic-parasite, Mr. Poopybutthole. At the end of Season 2, the post-credit scene shows the long-time family friend watching the show, before he addresses the audience, asking us what we think will happen next.

The theory suggests that perhaps both of them are united by a near-death experience, which has opened them up to seeing beyond the illusion of reality. In Mr. Poopy's case, it was being shot by Beth. In Rick's, it's the assumption that during his years of intergalactic travel, he would've encountered life-threatening danger at some point. But there could also be another explanation.

See Also:

Interdimensional Cable

In "Rixty Minutes" — one episode before Rick tells us it's the end of Season 1 — Rick invents a device that allows him to view television from any dimension, aptly named "Interdimensional Cable." Rick and Morty sit down to watch what's on offer, including a universe where Jerry is a famous actor. Could it be that, while Rick was searching various channels, he came across Rick and Morty of Earth C-137?

Seeing himself on the screen is one thing, but this could go a level deeper. Yup, I'm going Inception level deep. Rick's fourth wall breaking address to the audience appears after the Interdimension Cable episode, so it's feasible he saw himself. But he only breaks the fourth wall within the episode. Mr. Poopybutthole — the only other character who seems aware of the fictional reality — could add a different angle.

Mr. Poopybutthole is seen watching an episode within an episode; he's shown sat at home, watching the credits roll. This is a different perspective from Rick, who is in the paradigm of the episode the credits are attached to. From this different perspective, Mr. Poopybutthole then addresses the audience: Us. So while Rick is aware he is on TV in some dimension, Mr. Poopybutthole knows even more. He knows it's an animated show that airs on Adult Swim, and we are the ones watching.

Mr. Poopybutthole: An Evil Mastermind

Still with me? Good. So now there are two layers: the Rick and Morty level, where Rick is aware his life is the source of a TV program. And the Mr. Poopy level, where he is aware he's watching a fictional show, and also aware his act of watching is also being watched, by us. But how can he appear in an episode of Rick and Morty if he exists outside of it?

Well, perhaps on his level, Mr. Poopybutthole was able to somehow script himself into the show (the Rick and Morty universe he is shown to be watching at the end of Season 2). This is where I journey to the deepest crevices of the Inception analogy: After planting himself in the show as a parasite, Mr. Poopy tells Rick of his true existence. Not so much of a stretch, seeing as Rick has already seen himself by this point.

Mr. Poopybutthole after being shot by Beth [Credit: Adult Swim]
Mr. Poopybutthole after being shot by Beth [Credit: Adult Swim]

Before this devastating news, Rick could hold onto the idea his life is more Truman Show than The Simpsons; it exists, but it is all captured for entertainment. Mr. Poopybutthole's revelation would be a bitter pill to swallow, as it confirms to Rick his reality is insignificant and entirely crafted for entertainment. The Rick and Morty TV show is our car battery universe.

But why would Mr. Poopybutthole sabotage Rick's existence? The gunshot may explain this. Mr. Poopy is shot in "Total Rickall," but is still recovering when seen at the end of Season 2. So if he scripted himself in, the firing of the gun happened on the Rick and Morty level, but also the Mr. Poopybutthole-watching-Rick-and-Morty level. This suggests he knows he, too, is part of that TV universe. Using the earlier example, think of him as an actor appearing in The Truman Show, who becomes aware the entire universe the show is set in is fictional.

The Tragic, Fictional Life Of Rick Sanchez

After infiltrating the show and informing Rick, that leaves us with the Rick and Morty universe, where Rick and Mr. Poopybutthole know they are fictional characters, scripted for our (let's call us Earth C-1) entertainment. The latter may have the ability to script the show (such as adding himself in opening credits), while the reality for Rick is even worse.

Tragically, Rick's entire being could be reduced to the awareness his life has been scripted by a higher power for the use of entertainment. He has the terrifying, existential knowledge of what lies behind the veil of his reality. On top of that, he has to somehow try and hide the truth from his loved ones while also taking them on the sort of adventures that will entertain the audience. No wonder he drinks so much alcohol.

Further still, if this is the case, as the original theory suggests, it could mean other characters are open to uncover the truth in Rick and Morty Season 3.

Yikes, I really went down the rabbit hole with that one didn't I. Ooooh weeee.

Is this theory legit? Does it make sense? Or is it just like Inception?