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Why Beth Is The Most Disturbed Character On Rick And Morty

Rick and Morty is a show full of characters for whom the description "dysfunctional" is being a touch too kind. Mad scientist Rick Sanchez, the "smartest man in the universe," proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that with great smarts doesn't necessarily come great responsibility; heck, he drags his grandson Morty all over multiple universes on all kinds of exceedingly dangerous adventures, and early on in the series, we discover his motivation. Morty is in effect nothing more than a cloaking device — an innocent kid whose distinct lack of smarts acts as camouflage for Rick's superior intelligence, making it harder for the scientist's enemies to track him down.

From his granddaughter Summer's all-encompassing obsession with herself, to his son-in-law Jerry's selfishness and complete lack of a backbone, Rick is surrounded by people who could all be said to suffer from some form of personality disorder. But of them all, one is plainly the most disturbed: his daughter Beth, who may be the most self-absorbed person in the universe, and whose sociopathic tendencies are hidden just below the surface of her ostensibly level-headed personality.

It's made obvious early on in Rick and Morty's run that Beth has severe abandonment issues having to do with her father. When she was a child, Rick was just too busy with his inventions to properly tend to the girl, who was already showing some troubling signs that she may not be quite right (which we'll get to in a moment). For a long stretch of Beth's life, Rick was simply not around; he was off fighting against the Galactic Federation with his brother in arms Birdperson, and when he came back into her life in her adulthood, she dealt with his return in a way that was less than healthy.

That is to say, she's clingy in the extreme, and goes to great lengths to gain her father's approval to the detriment of everything else in her life — including (or perhaps especially) her family. She swats down Jerry's every objection to Rick's "adventures" with Morty (not especially difficult, as Jerry has no spine), and goes to unbelievable lengths to ensure that Rick stays in her life — up to and including abandoning Earth to drag her family to a tiny planet with no resources when their home planet becomes unsafe for Rick (in the final episode of season 2, "The Wedding Squanchers").

After Rick resolves that situation by devaluing the currency of the Galactic Federation and causing it to collapse, the family's return to Earth is not a happy one; Jerry, having had enough of the constant turmoil brought on the family by Rick, gives Beth an ultimatum, forcing her to choose between her husband and her father. Beth doesn't hesitate, and the very next scene shows her blithely informing a distraught Morty that "your father is going to be spending a little time... divorced."

Daddy issues aside, Beth has a number of personality traits that would raise anyone's red flags. She's a veterinarian who doesn't seem to actually give a rip about animals; she's a control freak who sees her husband as a worthless, sniveling worm (as we see in the season 2 episode "Big Trouble in Little Sanchez," in which Beth and Jerry visit Glaxo Slimslom, an alien marriage counselor who physically manifests the pair's perceptions of each other). She can also be dangerously negligent, as illustrated by an incident (in the season 3 episode "The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy") in which she refuses to seek Rick's help after one of his inventions blows Summer up to giant size and eventually literally turns her inside out. Hey, better to endanger her daughter than to admit she can't handle the situation on her own!

But all of these things pale in comparison to what we learn about Beth as a child, in Rick and Morty's season 3 episode "The ABC's of Beth." In the episode, we discover that Beth's childhood — which she barely remembers — was an extremely troubled one not just because of Rick's absentee ways, but because Beth herself was, as Rick delicately put it, "a scary f***in' kid." He reveals that, at Beth's request, he created a number of questionable inventions just for her: a ray gun, a whip that makes people like you, invisibility handcuffs, a "parent trap" (actually just an ordinary bear trap), sound-erasing sneakers, false fingerprints, and — most disturbingly of all — a teddy bear with "anatomically correct innards."

Rick then explains that he built the young Beth a literal fantasy world, Floopyland, populated with harmless, whimsical creatures and in which nothing was capable of hurting Beth. He didn't do it to amuse or protect her, however; he did it to protect the rest of the neighborhood from Beth, and if that isn't messed-up enough, the episode goes on to reveal that the little girl found a way to turn Floopyland into a nightmare.

She did this by inviting one of her young "friends," Tommy, into her secret world — and then abandoning him there, leaving him to his own devices for actual decades. We won't explain here how Tommy survived, because frankly, some things are just too disturbing even for an article like this one. But Beth's motivation for the deed may explain the root of her deep, abiding psychological problems: she was jealous of the boy's tight relationship with his father.

Sure, it's easy to see how the bulk of Beth's issues could be chalked up to Rick's neglectful parenting. But considering Beth's toy box of madness (that teddy bear in particular), it's safe to say that this was a child headed for an extremely rocky adult life regardless of her home situation. Of course, one could argue that Rick's willingness to build her all of that stuff just constitutes further evidence of his unfitness to be a father... but then, when your kid is that scary, it's also easy to see how simply appeasing them would be the most appealing option.

At the end of that episode, Rick presents Beth with a jaw-dropping choice: if she so desires, he will clone her and pass of the clone as the real Beth to the family. Beth will then be free to travel the world, doing whatever she pleases, free of the constraints of family life — and Beth seriously considers it. In fact, we never actually learn her decision, which suggests the distinct possibility that the Beth we see in Rick and Morty moving forward won't be the real one.

Yes, Beth is a woman with more issues than Marvel comics, and — even though she's reunited with Jerry and the family is reasonably settled by the end of season 3 — it seems very likely that Rick and Morty will continue to explore her volatile psyche, and that it won't be pretty. It's just a good thing that she isn't as intelligent and capable as her father (who has plenty of issues of his own), or all of existence might be in real trouble.