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The Dark Side Of The Rick And Morty Fandom

Adult Swim's dimension-hopping animated comedy Rick and Morty has been blessed (or cursed?) with a pretty avid fanbase. Most Rick and Morty viewers are a geeky, sanguine bunch, but creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland have built something that's attracted a certain ignominy due to the unfortunate antics of a small — but vocal — percentage of its fans.

Some of the squabbling taking place in the dark corners of the internet is benign enough. Any series as hyperliterate and meta-referential as Rick and Morty is going to inspire a certain amount of one-upmanship among fans eager to demonstrate that they've discovered The Key to unlocking hidden meanings tucked away inside any given episode. That said, all the pontificating has a tendency to turn hostile real quick. Occasionally, the antisocial behavior of the show's viewers transmogrifies into something more toxic — up to and including direct attacks on Harmon himself.

Like a lot of shows in the Adult Swim canonRick and Morty hasn't exactly kept to a regular production schedule over the course of its run. Viewers have had to endure years-long waits between seasons. The unpredictability of the release calendar is just about the only predictable thing about the show. In fact, this unfortunate tendency became an in-joke during the second and third seasons, with short scenes in which a minor character seemingly taunts the audience that their favorite show won't be back for "like, a really long time." Some fans were not amused.

In a 2018 interview with GQ, Harmon vented his frustration with the dark side of the fan base he created, describing his fans as equal parts acolytes and trolls. In his mind, they are always 15. "I'll go, 'I ate a cupcake today,'" Harmon told GQ. "And they're like, 'Stop eatin' cupcakes and write the f***in' show, you piece of s**t!'"

Fortunately, with Rick and Morty currently back on the air for the second half of season 4, Harmon has likely gotten a reprieve from this kind of harassment. Unfortunately, certain fans have found other places to redirect their venom.

If you didn't understand the last episode of Rick and Morty, it's because you're a Jerry

One Redditor, posting under the self-evident handle u/EpycWyn, recently offered a pugnacious interpretation of Rick and Morty season 4, episode 4, providing us with a convenient case study. To summarize, u/EpycWyn argues that the episode entitled "Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim's Morty" was actually a cryptic reference to Furry Fandom and Furry Culture, and that any viewer who didn't pick up what Harmon and Roiland were putting down is a clueless boob like Jerry from the B-plot. It's a, well, creative interpretation to say the least, but the issue isn't really with the substance of this user's critical reading. It's more about the tone in which it was delivered.

Take this choice excerpt describing any fan not steeped enough in Furry context to subscribe to the poster's peculiar interpretation: "Jerry is the common viewer who only understands the B-plot and doesn't grasp why the episode was so weird and perhaps doesn't want to given the sexual meanings, while Rick is the viewer who understands the A-plot and keeps his mind unwiped." In other words, "I'm Rick because I get it, and you're Jerry 'cuz you're duuuumb."

Fellow Redditor u/MisterKardashian put it best in the first reply to this thread: "My god your head is so far up your own a**."


Rick and Morty fans have come under fire before

It's diatribes like the one described above that really cast Rick and Morty fans in a negative light. They've earned a reputation for arrogance, condescension, and a regressive teenage mindset that really doesn't do justice to the brilliant work they so admire. As GQ pointed out, the work of a few bad actors has defined the entire fanbase as "Self-important. Probably sexist. Definitely obnoxious." It would be easier to dismiss this characterization as overboard if Twitter trolls and Redditors didn't keep reaffirming it.

"It's a huge bummer," Harmon said. "Do I worry about them ruining everything? Yeah, I do. Once the title of your show becomes a way of describing a demographic, that is toxic."

Frankly, the fans who idolize Rick as some kind of role model are entirely missing the point. Rick is a tragic figure. Emulating his behavior in a half-cocked Facebook rant doesn't make you the smartest man in the universe; it makes you a pale imitation of a character so isolated by his own narcissism that he has to literally search through infinite universes to find anything resembling meaning or fulfillment.

Rick Sanchez is a cautionary tale, so think twice before you decide to emulate his persona online.