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The worst thing Rick ever did to Morty on Rick and Morty

It would be tough being the grandson of the smartest man in the universe in any event, but for Morty Smith — half of the dysfunctional duo at the center of the smash hit Adult Swim animated series Rick and Morty – "tough" doesn't quite cut it. The alcoholic, dimension-hopping mad scientist Rick Sanchez virtually never embarks on any of his insane, often incredibly dangerous, surreal missions without Morty in tow; when your super-smart brainwaves are capable of giving away your location to your many, many intergalactic enemies, you see, you need the "camouflage" of mundane brainwaves like Morty's close by at all times.

To be fair, over Rick and Morty's first four seasons, Morty has gone from hapless, wide-eyed sidekick to seasoned interdimensional explorer in his own right, and it's safe to say that he's made a few questionable choices (and, well, done some outright terrible things) himself. But whether it's due to his constant proximity to Rick, his often pliable, go-with-the-flow kind of nature, or the fact that Rick is pretty much just a massive jerk, Morty often seems to find himself getting his own rear end absolutely handed to him by dear old grandpa. When it comes to the worst things Rick has ever done to Morty, it's tough to whittle it down to just a few – but we are up for the challenge.

Rick gave Morty the love potion that Cronenberged the world

The season 1 Rick and Morty episode "Rick Potion #9" gave us our first truly clear look at just how wildly self-absorbed and irresponsible Rick could be. Pestered by Morty into creating a potion that would make his crush Jessica fall in love with him, Rick complies, basically just to get his grandson to shut up. He fails to mention, though, that the potion should not under any circumstances be given to anyone who has the flu, and Morty, of course, plans to deploy the potion at his school's annual Flu Season Dance.

When given to Jessica, the potion is effective (a little too effective for comfort, if we're being honest), but it quickly piggybacks on the rampant flu virus, infecting everyone in the school and, before long, the entire town. Only those related to Morty are spared from the effects; everyone else becomes mindless, Morty love-starved zombies, prompting Rick to employ a solution that ends up being so much worse than the problem. He fabricates an antidote made from the DNA of praying mantises, which has the predictable result of turning the townspeople into terrifying mantis creatures (who are still in love with Morty). Rick's second attempt at an antidote, cobbled together from the DNA of a multitude of species, further mutates the populace into disgusting, blob-like grotesques which the pair immediately dub "Cronenbergs."

As if all this weren't traumatic enough, Rick– who admits to being in a "pretty deep hole here" — comes up with a solution which is somehow even more so. He and Morty simply leave their home dimension behind, skipping over to a near-identical one in which a) Rick manages to solve the Cronenberg problem somehow, and b) the pair die in a lab accident immediately thereafter, allowing Rick and Morty "prime" to take their place. All that's left is for Morty to help Rick bury their dead duplicates in the backyard — a perfectly horrifying ending to their adventure.

Rick put Morty through a wrenching experience to prove a stupid point

Nobody hates being wrong quite as much as Rick, and in the season 4 Rick and Morty episode "The Vat of Acid Episode," he puts Morty through an unthinkable rigamarole in order to prove that even his lamest plans shouldn't be questioned (and also that Morty should be wary of getting what he asks for, a lesson the Cronenberg incident apparently failed to impart). The episode opens with Rick and Morty meeting up with some alien gangsters to acquire some crystals, but the gangsters plan to double-cross the pair. In order to escape, Rick and Morty execute a previously-discussed plan: Jumping into a nearby vat of (phony) acid to fake their deaths.

When the gangsters fail to immediately leave, Morty grows impatient with hiding in the vat and blows their cover, causing Rick to simply dispatch their would-be killers. Morty begins taking Rick to task for the ludicrousness of his vat of acid idea, and for never considering any of Morty's own ideas, like a remote that would enable the user to create a "save point," like in a video game. Rick gives in and creates the device, which not only ends up causing Morty untold amounts of pain, but which doesn't exactly work as advertised.

It turns out that the device simply shunts Morty into an alternate reality each time it's used, killing that reality's Morty in the process. Morty discovers this after his dad Jerry accidentally triggers the device, wiping out Morty's treasured relationship with his (unnamed) girlfriend. But when Morty insists that Rick remedy the issue by merging all of the realities he's just gone traipsing through, the pair are confronted with an angry mob, the natural result of Morty having been a bit irresponsible with his first several "saves." Fortunately, Rick has a solution: For Morty to fake his death by jumping into a phony vat of acid, which Morty begrudgingly does. For the final insult, Rick reveals that the entire misadventure took place in an alternate reality, and was basically one extended exercise in putting Morty in his place.

Rick manipulated Morty's memories

These are pretty bad, but it probably hasn't escaped your notice that the terrible circumstances that befell Morty in these instances were largely due to his insistence on exploiting Rick's scientific know-how for his own gain. This sort of holds true for our last and most egregious example — but only somewhat, because Rick never overstepped his bounds with his grandson quite so hard as he did in the season 3 episode "Morty's Mind Blowers."

In the episode, Morty discovers that Rick has been systematically extracting the memories of a great many of their adventures — at Morty's request, due to the traumatic and sometimes mind-destroying nature of the memories. The memories are stored in tubes that allow them to be relived with the use of a special helmet, and as Morty starts to peruse them, he learns that some of them were not, in fact, wiped at his insistence, but because they were simply embarrassing to Rick (such as one in which Rick flubbed the phrase "taken for granted," instead saying, "taken for granite"). 

This, of course, enrages Morty, and after a tussle over Rick's memory-erasing device, the pair both end up of with no memory of each other or anything else. As they systematically plow through Morty's archived memories, they come to severely mistrust each other, eventually coming to the conclusion that a suicide pact is the only logical course of action. Fortunately, Morty's sister Summer arrives just in the nick of time, and it quickly becomes clear that she's had to deal with this very situation on numerous occasions in the past. After tranquilizing the hapless duo, she uses a handy kit supplied by Rick to restore their memories, and plops them down on the couch, where they awaken livid with Summer for allowing them to sleep through their favorite Interdimensional Cable shows.

It could very well be that the absolute worst thing Rick has ever done to Morty is lost to the boy's memory forever, somewhere among all of those tubes. In our book, however, screwing that hard with Morty's subjective experience of his life takes the cake.