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What Rick & Morty Fans Noticed About Morty's Transformation

In a series of essays on the subject of storytelling, Rick & Morty co-creator Dan Harmon described one of the more frustrating aspects of writing for television: where a movie allows characters to grow and change over time, TV requires that they stay more or less the same, providing a constant for audiences to keep coming back to. "Movies can afford to blow up the Death Star at the end," he wrote. "In a sitcom version of Star Wars, however, the protagonist would be a desk clerk working in the hangar bay at Rebel headquarters. In a dramatic series, he'd be an X-wing pilot constantly making raids on the Death Star. But note that in both the sitcom and dramatic TV version of Star Wars, the Death Star stays. If not, the show would end."

Harmon has built an undeniable reputation on the back of his irreverent, well informed, and frequently crabby takes on television and movies, so it shouldn't be surprising that he and his Rick & Morty co-creator Justin Roiland are so frequently capable of subverting their audience's expectations while simultaneously keeping them glued to their screens. The broad-strokes premise of "Marty and Doc from Back to the Future, but Doc is drunk and Marty is scared" could have kept the series going, albeit less soulfully, for plenty of hacky seasons. Instead of leaning into an easy, purely episodic comedy format, they've slowly evolved their characters and settings over time, creating a shockingly impressive fictional universe. Sometimes the changes are bold and unmissable, as when Earth becomes part of the Galactic Federation or when the eponymous duo picks up sticks and switches realities (twice). Other times, they can be more subtle, like the shift in Morty's personality that Reddit users are currently pointing out.

Morty don't give a squanch

The change was pointed out by user edge_of_tommorty, who posted a video to Reddit's /r/rickandmorty forum titled "Rick and Morty's interaction in sn 1 vs sn 4." The video shows two clips — the first comes from the season 1 episode "Rick Potion No. 9," the second from season 4's "The Vat of Acid Episode." In both clips, Morty beseeches Rick to make him some sci-fi stuff, requesting a love potion in the first snippet and a "video game-style place saving device" in the second. But the requests themselves aren't what caught the fans' attention — it's the way that Morty approaches making them.

In the first season, Morty is hesitant and fearful. He stutters in classic Morty style. He mewls, he whimpers, he fiddles with his hands. The conversation doesn't go anywhere until Morty throws a tantrum, threatening to never hand Rick a screwdriver again if he doesn't get what he wants.

In the second clip, the kid approaches his grandfather as a frustrated equal, somebody whose ideas are never given credence. Morty directly confronts Rick, baiting him into action by accusing him of not being able to realize Morty's ideas. That exchange ends in screaming, middle fingers, and network-mandated bleeping. Fans commented on how much Morty's confidence has developed over the years, and the way that he's learned to see his grandfather as a flawed individual instead of an idol.

Or, to put it another way, after four seasons, Morty finally grew a pair of squanches.