Rick And Morty Season 6 Is Not Erasing The Character Progress

Something that can be frustrating about "Rick and Morty" is how much the show teases serialization without an intention of following through. There are changes to the status quo introduced constantly, like Space Beth or Jerry's unemployment, or even the stuff about the Citadel, but they are mostly in the background, not getting much attention paid to them — we really only caught up on the Citadel plot line every couple of seasons. And even the big reveals like Rick's backstory were at times treated almost in a tongue-in-cheek manner that leaves an opening for the writers to play it all as a joke and retcon it later on if they so choose. 

Every time we get some significant character development, it is erased by the start of the next season, but season 6 seems to be course-correcting. Rather than present a big change at the start of the season — like the question of whether Beth was a clone, or Rick being forced to ask Morty permission before going on adventures — the changes to the characters were more gradual and spread out over the whole season rather than just introduced all at once in the premiere. 

With the portal gun destroyed for most of season 6, "Rick and Morty" avoided just one-upping high-concepts and sci-fi worlds, but rather focus more on character dynamics and relationships. We saw Beth and Jerry get stronger together than ever before, Morty and Summer become bolder and more self-confident, and Rick even went to therapy willingly and chose to be a better person. Best yet, these were not erased by the end of the season.

A 22% nicer Rick

Grounding Rick to a single reality, unable to escape if things got difficult, allowed "Rick and Morty" to have a more focused season, a sort of bottle episode of a season. We still got high-concept stories like the smart dinosaurs returning to Earth, but it was a far cry from, say, an interdimensional cable episode. 

We have seen Rick do good things over the years, starting with the time he sacrificed himself for the rest of his family and willingly go to a Federation prison, but they were mostly one-and-done, not an active attempt to be better. That changed this season when Rick willingly went to therapy, accepted help from a doctor, and then took their advice and did nice things for others expecting nothing in return. Better yet, he even helped Jerry

What makes this storyline, and this season, special is that Rick's self-improvement didn't stop at one episode, but it led to him making the choice to be a better person for Morty and follow through with it, becoming 22% nicer in the last couple of episodes. During the knights of the sun situation, he never mocked Morty for messing up, but genuinely listened to his grandson and helped him without forcing his ideas onto him.

Of course, the portal gun did make a return, and we did see Rick travel across the multiverse again — to bring Christmas presents to his family. He even gives Morty a real, functional, very stupidly dangerous lightsaber that Morty immediately drops and endangers the whole planet with, but Rick did those things because he knew it would make his family happy.


Granted, it technically wasn't Rick who brought those gifts or helped Morty on the sun, it was a robot. Still, the season 6 finale makes it clear everything the robot did was caused by Rick wanting to be better. Likewise, everything before the knights of the sun thing really happened, including Rick helping Jerry out, and the episode ends with Rick trusting Morty to be a true partner and helping him hunt down his nemesis.

This decision to trust Morty makes it clear Rick is not pulling another one-and-done act of goodwill before going back to his usual self. He is legitimately taking the lessons he was taught this season to heart, from the therapy to Morty standing up to him. It might take a while, and Rick may return to be the absolute worst in the meantime, but this time it feels like "Rick and Morty" is actively building on Rick's personal journey and escalating his self-growth rather than retread the same few steps, and that's better than any serialized backstory.