Warning: SPOILERS for the Rick and Morty season 5 finale.
Rick and Morty season 5 ended in a climactic finale filled with huge twists, major backstory, and lore revelations, and some exciting new possibilities for the future of the show. Despite being preceded by one of the series’ more divisive seasons, the finale delivered on nearly everything fans have been asking for. From Rick’s true origin story to the culmination of Evil Morty’s grand plan, there’s a lot to unpack in the Rick and Morty season 5 ending.
At the end of the first half of Rick and Morty’s two-part finale, Rick gives Morty his portal gun and leaves to embark on new adventures with his two sidekick crows. That doesn’t last long, though, and Rick soon returns home to find Morty aged up from a faulty aging serum he purchased on the Citadel of Ricks. Reluctantly, Rick agrees to travel back to the Citadel with Morty to undo the aging process, but after doing so, they run into President Morty/Evil Morty, who explains the grand scheme he’s been working on for the entire show. What follows is a wild and dense ride packed with lore and major power shifts, setting up an even more exciting Rick and Morty season 6.
In many ways, the Rick and Morty season 5 finale is exactly what fans have been wanting for a long time – concrete explanations for Rick’s past and the nature of his universe, and a proper conclusion to the Evil Morty arc. But to pack all that in, the ending moves incredibly quickly and covers a ton of ground in just over twenty minutes, leaving a lot of its ideas only half explored and partially explained.
After meeting with Rick and Morty, Evil Morty explains his ultimate plan. All along, from season 1 until the end of season 5, he was trying to complete a full brain scan of Rick C-137 – the main Rick in the series – in order to figure out how to break the Central Finite Curve. That’s a phrase that’s been used in the show previously, but the season 5 finale explains what it actually means. Per Evil Morty, the Central Finite Curve is a subset of all the infinite realities in the universe that all share one key trait in common – Rick is the smartest person in all of them. It’s revealed that Rick’s portal gun only travels to dimensions within the Central Finite Curve, ensuring that he’s always the strongest and most capable person in any universe he winds up in. But because of how abusive most Ricks are, Evil Morty wants to escape that vicious cycle.
After scanning Rick’s brain and figuring out how to program the giant portal device he’s built into the Citadel, Evil Morty blasts a whole through the Central Finite Curve, destroying the whole station and murdering countless Ricks and Mortys in the process. The main Rick and Morty manage to escape in one of the Citadel’s escae sections, along with a group of other Mortys, having to work together to get the ship to safety. Evil Morty flies his own ship directly through the portal he’s created, winding up in the true multiverse, outside of Rick’s control. He pulls out his own portal gun, shoots a golden portal in front of him, and steps through it.
It’s unclear what’s on the other side of the portal Evil Morty fires, but it could be one of any infinite possibilities. Before breaking out of the Central Finite Curve, the only dimensions accessible to Ricks and Mortys were those in which Rick was the smartest and most powerful person. Those realities were still infinite, but they were a smaller subset of infinity than that outside the Curve. So where does Evil Morty end up? He goes to the other side – to dimensions where Rick is unremarkable, or where he can’t escape his many mistakes, or where he was never born. The golden portal represents access to truly infinite dimensions, whereas Ricks green portals only traveled to those within the Central Finite Curve.
The other big reveal in the Rick and Morty season 5 finale is Rick’s actual backstory, which is finally shown in full detail. In a surprising twist, the tragic origin shown in the first episode of season 3 – an origin Rick then played off as being fabricated – turned out to be entirely true. Rick C-137 was propositioned by another Rick to create his own portal gun and join the other Rick’s gallivanting around the multiverse. But because C-137 was content in his family life, he refused. Enraged, the other Rick bombed C-137’s house, killing his wife Diane and daughter Beth. That sent Rick C-137 on a downward spiral, eventually creating his own portal gun so that he could travel the universe in search of the version of himself who ruined his life. Through years of searching, though, and countless murdered Ricks along the way, C-137 could never find the one responsible for the deaths of his wife and daughter.
After burning out in his vengeance quest, Rick made a peace agreement with the Council of Ricks, which may or may not have formed in reaction to his rampage. He helped them construct the Citadel of Ricks, and it would seem that he also was instrumental in the creation of the Central Finite Curve. The specifics of why exactly Rick decided to help his other selves and build the Citadel aren’t entirely clear. Maybe he just lost interest in fighting; maybe he though bringing all the Ricks together would help him find the one he was looking for; or maybe he had some other motive. Whatever the reason, he ends up leaving the Citadel too, going on a drunken binge, and crashing into the house of a Beth in an alternate reality – the one where he meets his Morty.
Rick’s big backstory reveal is enlightening in many ways, and it gives some interesting explanation for his occasionally reprehensible behavior through the show. C-137 has always been described as the “Rickest Rick,” which has been implied to mean he’s colder, more vicious, more unpredictable, etc. But the Rick and Morty season 5 finale reveals that his main difference is actually the opposite. He’s the Rick who cared so much about his family that he refused to join the other Ricks; who cared so much that he would go to any extreme to avenge them. When he arrives in Morty’s dimension, it’s almost like he’s living on borrowed time. It’s not his Beth, or his Morty, because he never got to have his own grandson. It’s incredibly dark, but at that time, it seems like Rick C-137 was prepared to die. But he repeatedly chose to keep living, primarily because of his relationship with Morty.
The Rick and Morty season 5 finale is about as much of a paradigm shift as the show has ever had. It shows that Rick isn’t really the smartest person in the universe, but that he simply cultivated a subset of universes in which he was. The series has always dealt heavily with themes of narcissism and its potentially catastrophic effects, and the Central Finite Curve is the ultimate manifestation of that theme – a corner of the multiverse in which it’s impossible for anyone to be smarter than Rick. Evil Morty describes it as being a giant crib around a giant baby, and that’s honestly not far off from the truth.
Now that Morty knows all of Rick’s secrets, their relationship may change significantly. It’s also possible that future seasons could tell more stories outside the Central Finite Curve, with Evil Morty remaining as a recurring character. The citadel has been destroyed before, but not like this. The whole ecosystem of the Curve has been disrupted, if not dismantled, by Evil Morty’s plan. Rick and Morty season 6 may still play primarily to the episodic plotlines that the show was built on, but it will also have to contend with the major changes brought about in the season 5 finale.