The Rick And Morty Anime That Changes Everything We Know

Rick and Morty has never shied away from the bizarre when it comes to world building, and universe-shattering plot developments tend to be more rule than exception. Planes of existence have been abandoned, recurring characters have been violently slaughtered (and, on occasion, reborn as Phoenix People), and the audience's grasp on what "real" even means has been shot down harder than poor Mister Poopybutthole. Now, thanks to a spinoff short film, they're oo-whee back at it again.

The anime-inspired short, titled Rick and Morty vs. Genocider, sees the titular pair combatting a new enemy, a group of beings set to destroy life by altering memories of the past – "The time we experience is only the crossover of shared memories," it's explained. It's all decidedly high concept, even by the standards of a Rick and Morty adventure.

With the Genociders having "junked up a bunch of memories" and space-time in a bad way, Rick gives Morty a potion to make him "Rip Van Winkle," promises that they'll see each other again, and protects his grandson with an energy shield. He then jets off into battle, but not before saying "Catch you later, then ... Rick Sanchez!"

Get ready to say "Wubba lubba dub dub"

In that last moment before Rick goes off to fight the Genociders, his face is superimposed over Morty's. The image hovers on the screen for a moment, then the episode cuts away.

On its own, that would be enough to get fans' fingers raw and bloody from how hard they'd type their speculations onto Reddit, but there's more. After Rick apparently dies in the final battle, we don't see much: The building that Morty was in, safely preserved in the forcefield and floating among the wreckage. Then, in a seemingly unrelated clip, we see the silhouette of Rick as he listens to his answering machine messages — it's Jerry calling to announce that he and Beth had a baby, and they're naming him Morty. As the message ends, Rick lifts his flask and pulls out a vial — the same vial he was seen giving to Morty, now empty.

What does it all mean?

According to the theory outlined by Metro, it means that a long-held Rick and Morty fan theory is true: The two main characters are the same person. In a Donnie Darko adjacent act of self-realizing sacrifice, the Rick version of the character gifts his younger self with a serum containing all of his own memories up to that point, which plays into that whole "time is only the crossover of shared memories" line from earlier. In essence, he shifts the timeline, destroying himself in order to create himself. Cross-dimensional paradoxes, man; they'll get you every time.

It's not known how this could change the Rick and Morty universe, but with EW reporting that the show has been renewed for 60 more episodes, it seems likely that this is a twist to which the creators will swing back around again.