One of the highest-rated shows on television owes its appeal to a diabolical brew of nihilism, slapstick humor, references to various bodily functions, and pop culture intellect. “Rick and Morty” is a cartoon show centering on the intergalactic exploits of a drunken elderly man and his nebbish 14-year-old grandson. The masses simply can’t get enough of sadistic Rick and naive Morty (loosely based on Doc and Marty from the Back to the Future franchise) as they zoom from planet to planet, wreaking havoc upon whatever outer-dimensional civilization they come across, before some witty-observation-ex-machina neatly ties each episode together.
A powerful core fanbase has caused “Rick and Morty” to gain a level of notoriety external to itself. The otherwise amusing and observant show attracts the attention of a very specific type of individual: the type of devil-may-care cyberbully who feels at home in the illustrious halls of 4Chan. This fandom has congealed so completely that the very concept of being a “Rick and Morty” fan is considered a meme, and these fans have quickly established themselves as an A-level threat to anyone who crosses their path.
Now, participating in a fandom can be a beautiful thing. Fandoms can enable the growth of friendships and relationships, inspire works of art, promote independent or non-traditional learning, and provide an inclusive and non-academic basis for important cultural and political discussion. (If such claims cause you to raise an eyebrow in suspicion, I invite you to revisit the discourse on gender identity taking place on the blog of the average Steven Universe fan.) Yet for every meaningful romance commenced over a mutual love of Dune, there are those who would use their dedication to a film, book, or television show for evil.
In the case of “Rick and Morty,” it is this evil that seems to be the basis of attraction for the fans in the first place.