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Rick And Morty Fans Are Taking It Upon Themselves To Tidy Up The Show's Dimensional Mess

Is there a fanbase more dedicated than "Rick and Morty's?" The wildly popular Adult Swim show has had a uniquely dynamic cultural lifecycle, spending its early seasons as a cult favorite before hitting the mainstream in 2017 (around the same time the infamous "McDonalds' Szechuan Sauce" fiasco occurred). Since then, the show has become a somewhat polarizing staple of modern television — reliably funny and occasionally profound, it oscillates between failing to meet its earliest achievements and superseding them entirely. Oddly enough, this fluctuating quality and fan response can be connected to its perplexing relationship with continuity. 

As explored in this fantastic video essay from film analyst Sage Hyden (aka YouTube's JustWrite), "Rick and Morty's" struggle to maintain a consistent continuity is all at once a hindrance to the show, a disservice to its fanbase, and an incredibly poignant way to underscore Rick's worldview. While Season 6's premiere episode all but confirmed Hyden's interpretation of this meta-struggle, it seemed to only further confuse fans of the show — many of whom are taking the matter into their own hands.

What are fans saying?

For the uninitiated, "Rick and Morty" follows its titular grandpa and grandson duo as they travel throughout the multiverse — that's about as simple as the show can be explained without getting bogged down in six seasons of delightful nonsense. In the Season 6 premiere, Rick accidentally sends himself, Morty, and Morty's father, Jerry, back to their "original universes." While fans already knew that Morty and Rick were transplants from another universe, this was a pretty nonchalant way to drop that this Jerry isn't the Jerry they thought he was. Additionally, Rick's actual universe of origin is revealed — again, another huge change for the show's timeline. 

As a result, Reddit users are scrambling to make sense of, well, anything. u/NotAtheorist has painstakingly tracked each character's "dimensional status," noting where they're from and where they are now, while u/JakeNBakePYT has compiled a complete list of episodes that directly push the plot forward. u/s_zozo, on the other hand, is hilariously concerned with what universe we are currently in. Clearly, everyone is wildly confused and trying to make sense out of "Rick and Morty's" deliberately messy timeline.

What is the current timeline of Rick and Morty?

As revealed in Episode 601, Rick originally comes from Universe C-137, leaving when his wife and daughter, Beth, were killed. He then traveled to what would become the "Cronenberg Dimension," the home of the being that killed his family, "Rick Prime." Here, as he waited for the chance to kill his nemesis, he built a life with this dimension's Beth, Jerry, Summer, and — most importantly — Morty. Rick and Morty fled this dimension after a love-potion-gone-wrong transforms every human into a monster (Beth, Summer, and Jerry were spared but left abandoned — Jerry is now the sole survivor). C-137 Rick and Cronenberg Morty then traveled to what u/NotATheorist calls the "Replacement Dimension," where the duo seamlessly replace recently deceased versions of themselves and assimilate with a new but nearly identical Beth, Jerry, and Summer. 

In Episode 202, Rick and Morty take Replacement Jerry to a daycare for Jerrys called "Jerryboree" and accidentally bring home the wrong Jerry, who then ends up staying in the Replacement Universe for good. The original Replacement Jerry was taken to a new, miserable dimension where he never experienced the growth his divorce caused. Finally, due to a creature known as the Frundle, Replacement Jerry and the entire Replacement Universe Earth are turned into a Frundle. Thus, C-137 Rick, Cronenberg Morty, Jerryboree Jerry, and Replacement Beth and Summer flee to a new universe — colloquially dubbed the "Parmesan Universe."

What does this all mean?

Though "Rick and Morty" spent its middle seasons resisting continuity — blatantly telling its audience it will only focus on standalone adventures — Season 6 starts off trying to make sense of its continuity. As Hyden points out, the show's aversion to continuity reflects Rick's aversion to dealing with his past in any serious capacity. Rick prefers fun adventures not bogged down by consequences or rules. As the Season 6 premiere explores, however, it's time for Rick to face his life, his choices, and move on. "Solaricks" is essentially the story about many disparate souls coping with the fact that their old lives have long since gone because of choices they made. 

None coped more so than Rick, who struggled to let go of his driving quest for vengeance in order to save a mismatched family he has no biological — or even dimensional — relationship to. Yet, in an episode that essentially proves that anyone is replaceable, the show also solidifies that Rick and his family choose to care about one another. They aren't a family because they share the same DNA, they're a family because of how they treat one another, and how they've grown over the course of these last five seasons. Rick — and the show as a result — can no longer pretend that they live in a vacuum. He's connected to people out of choice, and whether he likes it or not, that's gonna come with consequences.