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What Is the Appeal of Pickle Rick In Season 3 of 'Rick and Morty'?

Rick and Morty's Pickle Rick isn't a meme, it's a way of a life.

By Isaac ShapiroPublished 7 years ago 3 min read
 [Image Courtesy of Adult Swim]

Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty has become a full-blown phenomenon that has seeped into mainstream culture. You know you’re big when people are complaining that the fan base has grown to become insufferable and ironic hipsters are trying to move away from Rick and Morty because they liked it before it was cool, but can’t because the show is too good to ignore. One of the most meme-worthy moments from the season came from Pickle Rick, and of course Pickle Rick was everywhere.

Pickle Rick Takes Over The Internet

There are tons of videos, fan art, cosplay, and even tattoos of quite possibly one of the stupidest jokes ever made by Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland. But there’s something deeper on why this particular gag seemed to connect on a much broader basis than some of the other dumb jokes typically seen in Rick and Morty.

Pickle Rick Fan Culture

On a surface level, it just feels kind of dull, something that was done for the purely for shits and giggles. And it does sort of start off like that. In the beginning of the episode, Rick has Morty reveal that he’s a pickle and it’s mostly designed as an excuse so he can get out a session of family therapy. But things go awry quickly as his human formula is cut away and he starts to roll off the table and into the street.

The dumb gimmick becomes dangerous as the beating sun starts to literally cook him and Rick, without any limbs, is completely helpless and alone, but he soon finds himself flushed down into the sewer where he literally kills a cockroach with his mouth and uses his tongue to control the brain.

From that moment on, we see the depths of Rick’s survival instinct take hold. After constructing a suit made of roaches, rick manages to make a rat exoskeleton just before a huge horde of rats rip through the sewer grate to come after him. It’s here that “I’m Pickle Rick!” transformers from a stupid catchphrase into a cry of triumph.

It’s a sign that no matter what situation that Rick manages to get himself in, no matter how dire and desperate, he will always be able to outsmart it. It is railing against the universe itself. No matter what it throws at Rick, he'll always triumph. Even if it’s an entire embassy filled with secret service agents right out of a mindless ‘90s action blockbuster, nothing will overcome him because he’s Rick. It doesn’t matter that he’s a pickle, Rick Sanchez in any form can overcome any adversity no matter how dumb or self-inflicted it might be. The only person who’s going to kill Rick is Rick.

That’s what makes this moment connect with fans on a deeper level. It’s why they love Rick Sanchez so much, because while most people aren’t cartoon super scientists who can turn themselves into pickles, they can empathize with being overburdened by life’s challenges. Fans can engage with the fantasy that no matter how difficult something might be, that they can overcome their problems with the metaphorical rat-mech suit made of their own ingenuity.

While this might not justify running into a McDonalds and screaming at the poor employees for szechuan sauce and then jumping on the counter screaming “I’m Pickle Rick,” at the least we can understand why such a seemingly dumb meme seems to connect with so many on a deeper level. While the fan base might become a bit weird when taken to its extremes, it’s these kind of messages of triumph that has transformed Rick and Morty from just another weird foul mouthed grown-up cartoon and into zeitgeist pillar of pop culture.


About the Creator

Isaac Shapiro

When not scrounging the internet for the best content for Jerrick Media, Isaac can be found giving scritches to feathery friend Captain Crunch.

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