Rick and Morty Fan Theory: Rick's Ship
One aspect of Rick and Morty that makes it such an entertaining show is that the titular characters have the ability to travel throughout the entire universe, and through infinite dimensions, allowing for endless possibilities for where they can end up. Usually, they accomplish this by using Rick’s portal gun, which allows them to travel between any point in space to another instantaneously, and it let's them easily travel between dimensions. It is the perfect mode of transportation. And yet, sometimes, we’ll see Rick and Morty cruising around space in Rick’s space ship. Why does Rick have a space ship when his portal gun is so much more convenient?
Let’s start by analyzing what advantages the ship has over a portal gun. First of all, it can be used to move cargo like space rocks, passengers, or Rick’s beer. The ship is more reliable than the portal gun, which has run out of charge on a few occasions. It can also travel through open space, unlike a portal gun which requires you land on a planet or some sort of surface. It also has some awesome weapon capabilities, but mostly, it can be used as a weapon of mass destruction.
See, the first time we see Rick’s ship is in the Pilot, and we are introduced to it at the same time as Morty. Considering that Rick has been living with Morty for almost a month now, and Morty has never seen the ship, it seems Rick had made it very recently. Rick even claims that he built the ship out of spare parts he found in Morty’s garage. This thrown together craftsmanship is quite obvious because the ships’ thrusters are made of trash cans and the headlights are duct taped on. This sloppy construction is quite out of character for Rick, as most of his other inventions seem to be made with extreme detail. It does appear as if Rick built this ship on the fly for a specific purpose, while he was extremely drunk. In the cold open to the Pilot, we see Rick the most belligerent he has ever been on the show.
Rick tells Morty that he has a bomb, and plans to use the ship to drop it to destroy the Earth and start over. The ship's AI even recognizes this and counts down the bomb’s detonation, as if intentionally programmed to drop bombs. Theory: Rick built this ship for the express purpose of flying up into the atmosphere, and causing the apocalypse.
All of the evidence seems clearly laid out in the pilot, ready to be unpacked. But, if you still don’t buy it, consider this: Rick’s ships seems to pop up all the time, right? Wrong. In the first season, the ship only shows up three times! At the start of the Pilot, briefly at the end of Anatomy Park and midway through Rick Potion #9. It shows up quite frequently in the second season, but in the first season, the ship is only present for those specific episodes. Now what ties these together thematically? Anatomy Park sees Rick explode his friend in an explosion that rains blood down on all of North America. In Rick Potion #9, in one of the most traumatizing moments of the show, Rick DESTROYS Earth Dimension "C-137" and escapes neatly into a different dimension. In the ship’s only appearances that season, it is used in apocalyptic scenarios.
Backtracking a bit, let’s find out why Rick even had the flying ship in the episode Rick Potion #9. After giving Morty a love potion, Rick realizes that it is flu season and the potion will likely spread causing mass hysteria. Rick rushes to Morty’s rescue, but, for some reason he took the ship. One would think that if Rick was so concerned with helping Morty in a timely manner, he would have just used his portal gun. Shoot it into a wall, find Morty, shoot another portal back to the garage. It would take 1-minute tops. But, Rick uses the ship, because he whipped up an antidote to the love potion, and he needs the ship to spray the antidote on all of the infected. If you watch closely, when Rick sprays the antidote, he controls the process by pulling a large lever right where the shifter would be in a car. Such a large lever placed so centrally in a vehicle would probably be rather important, and that lever is used as a dispensing mechanism, as if it were built to be used to drop a bomb.
Okay, so, alright. We already know Rick is capable of some bad stuff, but he wouldn’t just decimate the entire Earth for fun, right? Well, let's go to this seemingly throwaway line from Total Rickall, after Beth mistakes Mr. Poopy Butthole for an alien parasite and shoots him, when Rick says, "Listen Beth, don't torture yourself. I made a similar mistake years ago, but ya know on a planetary scale." Rick absolutely Death Starred a planet or two in his time.
Now, what is the absolute largest explosion on Rick and Morty you can think of. Was it from M. Night Shyam-Aliens! when Rick tricks a group of aliens into blowing themselves up? It's debatable. In that episode, Zigerion scammers use simulations to trick Rick into telling them the recipe for concentrated dark matter, the fuel for accelerated space travel. The key word here is: recipe. The scammers need to know the exact amount of each ingredient to add, but they already know the ingredients. This is shown when Rick is trying to escape their spaceship in an escape pod, and he asks Morty to run in the back and grab the ingredients for concentrated dark matter, which just so happen to already be on the ship. Now, they could just be common things to have on a ship, but, one of the ingredients is a bottle of water, something hard to imagine would be on an alien spaceship. They planted those items, knowing Rick would need to make concentrated dark matter in order to escape.
The scammers already knew what the ingredients were. But, Rick wouldn’t have willingly given this away. They must have learned what the ingredients were by doing research. Seeing as the only thing Rick has that would need the fuel for accelerated space travel is his flying ship, they probably broke into his ship during their simulation scam and found all the stuff he keeps inside it, assuming he would have the necessary ingredients in the ship to make concentrated dark matter. However, what they found instead were the ingredients to make a massive bomb.
Inside his space ship, Rick keeps the ingredients to make a bomb that was demonstrated to have the explosive power to blow up a massive space ship. Rick built his space ship as an easy way to blow up the world whenever he wants. This is why he keeps it around.
Now, moving on to the ship as a symbol. It is an omen. Whenever the ship shows up, it alludes to this idea of the end of the world. One tidbit pointed out by The Film Theorists on their YouTube channel, was that, even in the intro sequence Rick and Morty are being chased by a giant monster obviously based on Cthulu, the destroyer of worlds. And what do you know, this is the only part of the intro sequence that features Rick’s ship. In the first season, as pointed out before, the ship only makes those three appearances across ten episodes, and yet, it seems iconic.
Here is a List of the Ships Appearances and how it relates to the destruction of worlds:
Pilot: Rick is about to destroy earth
Anatomy Park Massive explosion over Earth
Rick Potion #9: Rick destroys Earth Dimension "C-137"
Mortynight Run: "Fart" The Cloud destroys worlds
Auto Erotic Assimilation: Unity Assimilates an entire world
The Ricks Must Be Crazy: Rick destroys a Miniverse
Big Trouble in Little Sanchez: Beth’s being wants to conquer the universe
Look Whose Purging Now: Rick and Morty participate in a mass murder festival
The Wedding Squanchers: Earth as we know it is destroyed by alien tourism
While most of these seem related, the Big Trouble in Little Sanchez connection seems like a stretch compared to the others. It is the loose end, one that can prove that almost every episode of Rick and Morty involves the stakes of entire worlds. If you look at Get Schwifty, Cromulons threaten to blow up Earth and even make a failed attempt thwarted by Ice-T. This omen theory works well with mostly the first season, when the creators had no idea they would be getting another season. (Creator Dan Harmon is used to this feeling a la Community) After that, the idea got watered down, much like Ice-T in the post-credits sequence. But, digging into the show’s observable lore and the intentions of the creators, the flying ship appears to be a bearer of mass destruction, with the horsepower of the four horseman of the apocalypse, doomsday incarnate.
06/17/16 Edit: Rick's ship appeared in three episodes in season one, including Anatomy Park.