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The Worst Thing That Has Ever Happened To Rick On Rick And Morty

If ignorance is bliss, then it should logically follow that knowledge is misery. So what happens when you're the (self-styled) smartest man in the universe? If you're Rick Sanchez, you get to spend infinite lives across infinite universes as an emotionally stunted sad sack living in his daughter's garage.

For the last three and a half seasons of Rick and Morty, the titular mad scientist has demonstrated a God-like control of just about everything in every universe — except for his own heart. Truly, Rick's adolescent inability to connect with deep emotions and apparent depression have proven his weakest points time and again.

Physical death isn't a threat to Rick Sanchez. A grisly spaceship accident on Forbodulon Prime barely registered as an inconvenience. It's the emotional hits that always leave a lasting impression. For that reason, all the worst things that have happened to Rick so far on Rick and Morty are incidents that rattle his already unstable emotional footing. A friend's passing. A rough breakup. The most upsetting family tragedy that Rick could ever have imagined. It's all bad news for the most emotionally damaged man in the universe, but which was the actual worst?

Rick Sanchez got trapped in a series of fascist dystopias

To quote Rick himself while he was being torn apart by fascist shrimp dogs, "When did this become the default?"

Most of Rick's misery is of his own making, but this one's pretty much his grandson Morty's fault. If Morty had just cloned his grandfather instead of following those death crystals into an Akira-inspired side story, he could have saved Rick a lot of pain. On the season 4 premiere, Rick's aforementioned death by spaceship accident results in a jarring series of deaths and resurrections that sends his consciousness pin-balling between clone vats situated in parallel universes where Rick didn't "ax" his clone protocol.

Through this unintended cycle of death and reanimation, Rick discovers — to his substantial dismay — that several of the adjacent universes have devolved into fascist dystopias. Fascist humans. Fascist shrimp. Fascist stuffed animals. Basically, it's fascists all the way down. Rick C-137's government-hating mad scientist vibe doesn't mesh great with fascism, and this chain of resurrections results in murder after murder until Rick ends up in a universe populated by fascist teddy bears (who look suspiciously like the mod souls from Bleach, an anime with a pretty unsatisfying ending). This drives him to take matters into his own hands, killing himself in hopes of reaching a better reality.

Being driven to suicide by a series of dystopian universes is a pretty bad outcome, but it doesn't hold a candle to some of the other emotional traumas that Rick has experienced.

Rick Sanchez lost his only friend over a toilet

On the season 4 episode "The Old Man and Seat," Rick's granddaughter Summer announces to the whole family that Rick is a shy pooper. Where shy poopers usually go home or to a different floor of the house to do their business far from unwelcome interruption, Rick has crafted an entire planet complete with a tranquil lagoon to serve as his personal porcelain throne.

Despite Summer's exposure, everything was copacetic on Rick's planet, until one alien interloper had the audacity to violate the sanctity of the space. Enter: Tony, an affable widower who has stumbled upon Rick's procedurally generated toilet and now uses it as he pleases. Despite Tony's tragic story and good humor, this is exactly the kind of petty violation that Rick cannot abide.

Throughout the episode, Rick stoops to increasingly insane measures to deter Tony from using his John. Why not just kill him, you ask? Because Rick sees some of himself in Tony's tale of loss, and despite his best efforts, he's actually beginning to form a bond with the kind-hearted widower. Although we don't have the details of Rick's backstory (yet), we do know Rick lost Beth's mother through some kind of tragic accident. He even tells Tony that he's letting him live because he understands "how grief can drive people to do insane, dangerous things." The empathy is momentary, as Rick leaves Tony with a death threat and a fart bomb. 

Later on the episode, Rick sets up a trap for Tony. He plans to hit him where it hurts by tweaking the software on his planet to broadcast an elaborate holographic performance of mockery and verbal abuse for the next person to sit on the throne. He then heads off to Tony's place of work to deliver a laxative care package in hopes that the intestinal discomfort will coax Tony back to the forbidden world to trip the trap. Sadly, the receptionist at Tony's office informs Rick that Tony has passed away. The episode ends on a dark note, with Rick tripping his own trap and enduring the procedurally generated abuse that he himself set up. It's a somber moment in an otherwise scatological episode. 

Although the loss of Tony hits hard, it's still not the worst thing that's ever happened to Rick.

Unity dumped Rick

We don't know much about Rick's former love life, but we did meet one particular ex-girlfriend back on season 2. On the episode "Auto Erotic Assimilation," Rick and his grandkids respond to a distress beacon coming from a spaceship that has been taken over by a parasitic hive mind slowly infecting the entire crew. As it turns out, that hive mind is an old flame (or is it flames?) of Rick's, the collective intelligence Unity.

Unity takes Rick, Morty, and Summer back to a planet she thoroughly assimilated by injecting her consciousness into every available sentient mind living upon it. As Rick and Unity start to rekindle their romance, it becomes pretty clear that they didn't have the healthiest relationship. Unity really has her act together before, uh, reuniting with Rick. She's assimilated an entire planet, after all, and she has ambitions to bring the rest of the universe into the fold. It speaks to the depth of Rick's toxic influence that he's able to knock her so far off course. Within hours of their reunion, he has her cooking up party drugs and populating stadiums with redheads to live out high-concept, X-rated fantasies.

As soon as Unity realizes how badly Rick has derailed her life, she abandons the planet, leaving Rick a series of breakup notes. He doesn't take it well. The final scene of this episode is one of Rick and Morty's darkest. To the music of Chaos Chaos, a despondent Rick prepares a death laser in his garage. After confirming the beam's lethality on a test subject, he places his head underneath the barrel, but he can't quite bring himself to pull the trigger. It's the closest we see Rick come to serious self-harm, and it's pretty jarring — and all over a girl(s).

Breakups are certainly tough, but there's one more thing that happened to Rick that was even worse than Unity's abandonment.

Jerry and Beth got back together

Rick put a lot of elbow grease into engineering his daughter Beth and Jerry's divorce. He spent two whole seasons undermining Jerry's authority in his own household, making him look like a fool in front of his wife and kids. After the season 3 premiere, it seemed like those efforts had finally paid off. Beth announced that Jerry was moving out of the house to "spend some time... divorced," and Rick had cemented his status as head of the Smith family household. It was the ultimate punishment for Jerry, who (aside from being an actual idiot) was guilty of "pumping 20 ccs of liquid dream-killer into [Rick's] daughter."

For a while, it really looked like Rick had won. Jerry was off collecting unemployment and living in a depressing motel, and Rick was free to take Morty on adventures without any fatherly interference. But Rick got cocky and made a miscalculation. On "The ABC's of Beth," Rick offered his daughter an escape hatch from her life, but this offer had the opposite of its intended effect. Rick's proposition to create a clone of Beth that would take care of her family while she went off to enjoy her life actually forced Beth to reevaluate her choices, specifically her divorce.

Beth and Jerry rekindled their romance by the end of season 3, and Rick was left with an even more diminished role in the household than he had prior to the divorce. This turn of events is confirmed in the first moments of season 4, when we see a newly cowed Rick forced to ask nicely before taking Morty on an adventure. Oh, how the tables have turned.

Rick may be a genius when it comes to science and engineering, but he has a major blindspot concerning affairs of the human heart. When he opened the door for Beth to consider a life without her family, he helped her realize how important Morty, Summer, and even Jerry were to her happiness. Rick gave Jerry an opening to slip back into his daughter's life, and that's the worst thing that's happened to him on Rick and Morty so far.