The super-slick, super-sick Rick and Morty brand is known for many things: the warped, borderline-abusive dynamic between its titular characters, its deliciously dark humour, the gleefulness it takes in capsizing the conventions of a thousand genre tropes. Then there are the catch-phrases, and the colourful cast of supporting characters – everything from fatally-depressed Mr Meseeks to embedded family friends like Mr Poopybutthole. What really characterises it though, is death. That it’s not the first association you make with the show is possibly a by-product of there being so damn much of it that it stops registering.
There are long deaths, slow deaths, good deaths, bad deaths, sad deaths, funky deaths, perfunctory deaths, ironic deaths, iconic deaths, horrid deaths, hilarious deaths and hectares of borderline disturbing deaths.
Here are the most gruesome, in all their gory glory, season by season. (It’s a testament to Rick and Morty’s perpetually heavy ante that a little girl having her head sliced off by a Freddy Krueger substitute doesn’t even make it onto the list.)
I hope you haven’t eaten yet.
S1, E3 ‘Anatomy Park’ Come Flay With Me
Morty fails to save a fellow miniaturised man when things go south in ‘Anatomy Park’, a themed pleasure experience situated inside the body of a chronically unwell homeless man. The poor soul is sucked through the dying tramp’s windpipe and out through his mouth, the skin and flesh being stripped from his bones in the process, leaving him a peeled human spit-ball.
S1, E3 ‘Anatomy Park’ Space Guts
Things aren’t any less gruesome when the bloated corpse of the tramp is made giant by science. It ends up floating in space – because of course it does – whereupon it’s blown to smithereens, sending bone and guts spiralling into the void.
S1, E5 ‘Meeseeks and Destroy’ Who You Gonna Kill?
Morty not only finds himself preyed upon by parasite zombie versions of his family, but also has to watch as they’re trapped, burned, squished, melted and pulled into a piece of trapping technology that Rick clearly ripped from Egon’s ghost-busting manual.
S1, E5 ‘Meeseeks and Destroy’ Fairytale Ending
A fairytale giant – in the ‘Fe Fi Fo Fum’ mould – slips in his kitchen and slams his skull on a table-top. He bleeds out, a look of mystified shock frozen in his eyes, convulsing as his life-force ebbs away. RIP childhood.
S1, E6 ‘Rick Potion #9’ RIP and Mortal
In a sequence as chilling as it is gruesome, Rick mishandles some super-dangerous piece of kit and blows himself and Morty to Kingdom Come. Their crumpled remains, spattered with blood, smash against the wall; Rick’s eye pops out. Our own – thankfully unscathed – Rick and Mortys arrive from a doomed neighbouring dimension to bury them and take their place.
S1, E8 ‘Rixty Minutes’ Lepre-gone
You should never watch Inter-dimensional TV on a full stomach. In this advert, a cereal-hocking leprechaun – the mascot of this universe’s favourite breakfast cereal, Strawberry Smiggles – is pinned down on a tree stump by a little boy and girl, who proceed to slit open his abdomen and feast on his spilled-out innards; even squeezing out cereal shapes from his intestines and gobbling them like Pez sweets.
S2, E4 ‘Total Rickall’ Memory Massacre
Morty and family encounter shape-shifting alien parasites that reproduce through implanting false memories in a host’s brain. Their pus-fountained death throes – as their bodies wither, wilt, and burst in a screaming fanfare of tentacles – is pretty gruesome to behold, but thankfully you become desensitised to it pretty quickly.
S2, E7 ‘Big Trouble in Little Sanchez’ Rick Kills Himselves
At least Rick is an equal opportunities murderer. Even another version of himself isn’t exempt from his nihilistic rage. Here he gleefully smashes, drop-kicks and hacks up his own glass-encased surrogates, leaving a pile of bloodied parts strewn across the floor.
S2, E8 ‘Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate’ Man vs Car
Another Interdimensional TV segment, another stomach churner. Literally this time. A punkish strongman is crushed to death under the wheels of a car he’d hoped to repel, his blood and body parts thrown from the fast-spinning tyres like fireworks from a Catherine Wheel.
S2, E8 ‘Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate’ Jerrymurdering
Jerry is violently shot to death, leaving his face a drooping, lacerated, blood-dripping husk. Thankfully he’s in a technologically sophisticated futuristic hospital that presumably offers socialised healthcare.
S2, E9 ‘Look Who’s Purging Now’ Mashes to Mashes
When Rick and Morty don robo-suits and enter the Purge, expect blood. When Rick hoists a purgee off the ground and pops his head off like it was a bottle-top, sending a fountain of blood arcing into the air, it’s pretty damn disgusting – and admittedly also a bit cool – but for gruesomeness you can’t beat the sight of two people having their heads slammed together leaving a mess of pink-hued, brain-flavoured mashed potato.
S3, E1 ‘The Rickshank Rickdemption’ Pop Goes the Weasel
In the midst of some inter-dimensional Rick and Morty-based carnage, a poor Morty is crushed to death with one swift trample, as if he were nothing more than a tube of toothpaste. His dead body lies on the ground like a stuffed tiger rug, his hollow eye sockets and melon-mouth aflame with blood.
S3, E2 ‘Rickmancing the Stone’ Bad Beth
Summer flips a Mad Max-style baddy’s death-machine, maiming him horribly. He drags his torso towards her from the wreck, on a slime of entrails, pleading with her to put him out of his misery. ‘OK,’ she says, ‘But not because you told me to.’
S3, E2 ‘Rickmancing the Stone’ Give Him a Big Hand
For maximum yuk, you really can’t beat Morty smashing skulls to a pulp in a Thunderdome-inspired death arena with his beefy, vengeful and murderously sentient replacement arm.
S3, E3 ‘Pickle Rick’ Rat-a-tat-splat
I’m going to condense multiple deaths into one here, all perpetrated by that mighty, vegetable-based superhero, Pickle Rick. First, he slices off a rat’s head with a trap and harvests its bones and sinew to add limbs to his pickle body. Next, he proceeds to dispatch a whole army of rats with his makeshift power-tools in a variety of brutal and ghastly ways: pummelling brains; suspending bleeding corpses from the ceiling; cutting them into strips, and even cleaving them in two. Riotously disgusting.
S3, E3 ‘Pickle Rick’ Laser Tag
Pickle Rick’s human opponents fall just as easily – and horrifically. The best, and messiest, kill is when Pickle Rick bores a laser-shot through the heads of three of his enemies, and then proceeds to stare cockily through the tunnelled lens of charred goo like some pickle-based James Bond.
S3, E4 ‘Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender’ Falling Down
Speaking of Superheroes, let’s say hello and goodbye to Morty’s favourite team, The Vindicators, most of whom met a particularly savage end. First there’s Vince Maximus, who flies into a ceiling vent, and is shot to death in such a spirit of Rambo-esque overkill that his disembodied legs drop to the ground like a downed plane.
S3, E4 ‘Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender’ See You Later Alligator (In a Pile, Crocodile)
Then there’s Croc-u-bot, splatted into a green pulp by a springing trap.
S3, E5 ‘Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender’ Ants in His Pants
And the perpetually angry Alan Rails, whose gullet is invaded by the shifting, morphing body of Million Ants, who first inflates him then detonates him in a riot of guts.
S3, E5 ‘The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy’ Game Over
This one if possibly the most viscerally gruesome death in the entire show. A little girl is shot through the head by her giggling boy pal just as Rick deactivates the invincibility shield protecting everyone inside the dome from death.
S3, E5 ‘The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy’ A Bug’s Death
Another death that’s psychologically, rather than physically, gruesome. Three little bug-people sit toasting each other’s health and happiness. ‘Let’s just relax and enjoy our retirement,’ says one, as he’s snatched by a bird of prey and carried to his doom. The last thing we see of him as he’s ferried to his horrible off-screen death is the open portal of his screaming mouth.
S3, E6 ‘Rest and Ricklaxation’ Party Poopers
A furry party-entertainer and a bunch of happy young kids are engulfed in a toxicity field. An angry exchange ensues, which culminates in the brutal beating, beheading and evisceration of the entertainer. They’re also available for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.
S3, E7 ‘The Ricklantis Mixup’ Morty’s Flush
Thousands of dead Rick and Mortys float eerily through space having been tossed from the airlock by a homicidal Morty.
S4, E1 ‘Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat’ Crystal Death Addiction
When Morty first gazes upon the death crystal we see a shimmering smorgasbord of possible deaths. If you’ve got a fast pausing-hand, or the eyes of a spider, you’ll see such memorably brutal deaths as: Morty being sucked through a spacecraft toilet and ejected into the cold, airless void of space; dropped into a nest of giant baby birds and torn asunder; decapitated by an elevator door; and even falling from a skyscraper and being whisked to death by helicopter blades.
S4, E1 ‘Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat’ Rick’s Crystal Maze
Rick carks it in some hellishly grizzly ways, too. He’s torn in half by Squanch, is eaten by a giant spider, has his head splattered open like a melon by a swinging log, and – in perhaps the most horrific segment – has his body churned through a rectangular aperture in a giant Play Doh maker.
S4, E1 ‘Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat’ Clunk, click. Dead Rick.
Rick soon after dies for real (but not forever) in a spacecraft crash following some death-crystal-related shenanigans, smashing through the windscreen and impaling himself on a spike.
S4, E1 ‘Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat’ The Wasp Factory
Extra points for top tier body-horror gruesomeness with this one. Wasp Rick lays eggs in giant Rick’s eye, causing fast-hatching grubs to spill out from his massive mouth. Seconds later, a horde of Rick-wasps hatches en masse from his face, splitting it open like an overboiled hot-dog. Yuk!
S4, E3 ‘One Crew Over the Crewcoo’s Morty’ Treachery Will Tear Us Apart
Heist artist Miles Knightley is torn apart like a chicken dinner by a medley of bizarre alien creatures – a cross between the ghosts from The Real Ghostbusters intro sequence and something that fell out of Clive Barker’s nightmares – whose piece de resistance is yanking the skin from his wet skull like it’s a bad mask.
Are there any particularly gruesome deaths you’d like to add to the list? Or would you like to weigh in on which of these fatalities repulsed or horrified you the most?