Season 1, Episode 06:
Rick Potion #9
Directed by Stephen Sandoval
Rick supplies Morty with a serum that will make Jessica fall in love with him at the school dance, but her flu virus causes the serum to spread and make everyone else fall in love with Morty, and Rick's attempts to fix things only make things worse and worse. Meanwhile, as things go to hell, Jerry goes out to prove his worth to Beth.
This episode contains examples of:
- Apocalypse How: A Class 3A. The entire human race, aside from the Smith family, are transformed into Cronenbergs.
- Badass Boast: Jerry (cocking his gun) "Nobody's killing me...until after I catch my wife with another man."
- Bait-and-Switch: When the world has gone to hell, Rick tells Morty he has one last plan. The scene cuts to the world apparently back to normal and everyone cured of their mutations, and Rick and Morty are working in the garage together... Only for the two to die horrifically in a huge explosion. Then, another portal opens up and another Rick and Morty from the apocalyptic world come through, revealing that this was Rick's plan all along.
- Battle Couple: Morty's parents team up against the Cronenbergs.
- Bittersweet Ending: The entire human race has been converted into Cronenbergs. Yet Summer, Beth and Jerry are left normal with the latter two becoming Happily Married. Rick, on the other hand, decides to cut their losses and move with Morty to another universe where everything is the same, but Rick managed to cure the virus and they both happened to die around the same time. They bury their alternate selves and seamlessly take over their lives. While everything seems the same, Morty knows that they've abandoned everyone they ever knew to a Fate Worse than Death, including their Jerry, Beth, and Summer. And yet life in this new universe will continue on.
- Body Horror: Rick mutates everyone into mantis-people and then into "Cronenbergs" in his attempts to cure the virus.
- "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Rick angrily tells Morty that the whole crisis could have been avoided if Morty had just given him Rick's screwdriver as he told him at the beginning. Of course, it turned out either choice could have been bad for them anyway.
- Crowbar Combatant: Jerry uses a crowbar to kick the shit out of mutant Davin.
- Dead Alternate Counterpart: Rick and Morty escape to a very particular universe where their counterparts cured the Cronenberg plague and were killed almost immediately afterwards by an unrelated incident.
- Double Standard: Rape, Sci-Fi: Defied, with Rick flat out stating that a Love Potion is the sci-fi equivalent of a date rape drug, and calling Morty out for wanting to use one on Jessica.
- Eldritch Abomination: The "Cronenberg" mutations in humanity.
- Even the Guys Want Him: Rick's love serum affects everyone, male or female.
- Expendable Alternate Universe: After he "Cronenbergs" everyone on Earth, Rick cuts his losses and jumps to a nearly identical universe with Morty where their alternate selves cured the virus and then died.
- For Want of a Nail: As Rick "helpfully" points out, had he not failed at actually fixing the love potion problem (and was able to fix his device from before this whole mess, like he wanted in the first place), they would've been the ones who died when it blew up, not... ...themselves...
- Freak Out!: Morty has one when seeing his Dead Alternate Counterpart.
- From Bad to Worse: Morty's love potion, followed by Rick's "cure".
- Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: When Morty keeps freaking out after seeing their dead bodies, Rick resorts to this.
- Going to the Store: Jerry says he is going out for ice cream but everyone knows he wants to check on his wife.
- Gone Horribly Right: The love potion works as intended; however, it merges with Jessica's influenza virus, which not only causes it to mass multiply and become airborne but makes the entire world want to jump Morty's bones. Things very quickly decline from there.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Rick's attempts to fix everything involve accidentally mutating everyone into mantis-people who then want to rape and cannibalize Morty, and then turning them into rather nightmarish, insane flesh-blobs!
- Heroic BSoD: Morty gets a huge one at the end, when he arrives in another dimension where everything has gone back to normal, but its counterparts of himself and Rick are dead; he ends up burying his own corpse and taking his place, and examines the family that he knows isn't really his. All this after he was mostly responsible for dooming his original world (including Jessica) and abandoning his actual family. His face just simply screams "Hug me."
- I Warned You: Rick rubs it in Morty's face when he rushes to spray the whole formula on everyone thinking it will turn them to normal, but instead turns them into "Cronenbergs" creatures.Rick: Bet you're lovin' this, Morty. This must... be the best day of your life. You get to be the mayor of I-Told-You Town.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Rick calls Morty a creep and blames him for the mess they get into by saying it all started by Morty forcing him to make a love serum to use on Jessica, threatening to never help him with anything again otherwise, and even compares it to Morty drugging an innocent girl to rape her. Morty acknowledges that Rick is right and is willing to accept his part of the blame, but only if Rick accepts that he screwed up worse by mutating the human race trying to "cure" the serum (which Rick doesn't do).
- Kill and Replace: Bar the killing part. Morty and Rick take the place of their deceased counterparts in an Alternate Timeline.
- Love Potion: Deconstructed with Rick flat-out accusing Morty of trying to roofie Jessica with it and calling him a creep for it.
- Mind-Control Eyes: Everyone under the influence of the love potion gets huge pupils.
- Montage Out: The closing scene showing Morty with his Thousand-Yard Stare watching his parents bickering and his sister busy on her cell phone.
- Mood Whiplash: When the Sentimental Music Cue kicks in at the end, the mood shifts from comedic to dramatic.
- Never My Fault: Rick and Morty both blame each other for the end of the world. Rick blames Morty for everything due to wanting him to make a love serum in the first place and refusing to simply pass him a screwdriver, even comparing it to drugging a girl so he could rape her. Morty, on the other hand, blames Rick for haphazardly rushing his cure by throwing a bunch of random genes together and hoping for the best, which resulted in mutating everyone into "Cronenbergs." Subverted with Morty who is willing to accept his part of the blame, however Rick never accepts his part, constantly telling Morty "you're welcome" for all his mistakes and even pointing out in the end that if he didn't screw up as much as he did then the two of them would have died anyway, as if that would make Morty feel any better.
- Oh, Crap!: Rick, knowing that it's bad to give the love serum to someone with the flu, has this reaction when Summer tells him she's not at the dance because it's flu season.
- One-Handed Shotgun Pump: Beth does this cool thing after fighting off a couple of Cronenbergs with her husband.
- Parental Sexuality Squick: Summer calls Rick out for suggesting openly that Beth's colleague may be making out with her. Rick replies that Beth is also his child and so he outranks Summer in feeling grossed out. Later Summer has to bear with Beth and Jerry making out in front of her. Her reaction? Ignoring by Singing.
- Person As Noun/Person as Verb: "Cronenberg" and "Cronenberged," respectively.
- Plot Armor: A justified example. Rick states that Morty's family (as in, himself, Beth, Jerry, and Summer) are all immune to the love potion, since it doesn't work on people who share Morty's genetic components. Because of this, they don't fall in love with Morty, aren't affected by the Mantis mutation serum because they don't have symptoms that would cause a reaction, and similarly, don't react to the Cronenberg spray for the same reasons. Unfortunately, they're still left behind as the only remaining humans in the world, so this is a double-edged sword.
- Post-Apocalyptic Traffic Jam: At one point, Jerry is blocked off on a highway by a convoy of abandoned cars whose drivers went mutant and ran off.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Despite Rick calling Morty out on the disturbing implications of using a love potion, he first does this once the catastrophe is in full swing. In fact, Rick's only initial objection to making Morty a love potion is that he considers it is a waste of his talents.
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner / Bond One-Liner: Parodied. Jerry gets both when facing off with the now-mutated Davin, but they're more silly than badass:Jerry: You can call me Mr. Crowbar. And now I'd like you to meet my friend, who is also a crowbar.
*Jerry beats him up and defeats him with the crowbar*
Jerry: Yeah, well look where being smart got you.
- Pyrrhic Victory: For all of the Smith-Sanchez family, in two different ways:
- Rick and Morty survive the Cronenberging of their world, but they have to escape to a new one. While Rick doesn't care, this deeply affects Morty.
- Beth, Jerry, and Summer, as genetic and literal relatives of Morty, are immune to his love potion. Unfortunately, this means that they're the only three humans left alive in a world full of Eldritch Abominations that used to be human themselves, with infrastructure and society having totally collapsed.
- Relationship-Salvaging Disaster: Beth and Jerry reconnect in their fight for survival against the Cronenbergs.
- The title is a parody of the song "Love Potion No. 9" by The Clovers.
- Rick refers to the horrific mutations as "Cronenbergs", referring to David Cronenberg, whose films are known for their Body Horror.
- Jerry's haphazardly-armored car parodies the car from Dawn of the Dead (2004).
- During The Stinger, Summer reenacts Quint's monologue from Jaws.
- Single-Target Sexuality: A forced and horrifying version. Once the love potion spreads thanks to mixing with the flu virus, everyone in the entire world (except his family) has this for Morty. Becomes even worse once mixed with the mantis potion, where everyone still has this in a Yandere version since they want to rape him and then eat his head afterwards.
- Sleeves Are for Wimps: The sleeves of Jerry's shirt come off as part of his transformation into a badass.
- Spit Take: Brad at the school dance when seeing Morty with Jessica.
- The Stinger: In the apocalyptic wasteland populated by "Cronenbergs", Jerry and Beth are now happier together with Rick and Morty gone, especially since Jerry is now a muscular, rugged badass wearing a bandana and a bandolier. Meanwhile, "Cronenberg" versions of Rick and Morty arrive there from a dimension where they turned their world's population into humans.
- Tempting Fate: Just before things go to hell, Morty hopes that nothing will go wrong.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: Poor Morty at the end of the episode.
- Took a Level in Badass: Jerry! When Beth's life is on the line, he becomes a badass killing machine. Also his wife.
- Wham Episode: After playing fast and loose with science fiction tropes and cliches for the sake of absurdist comedy, from this episode on, the series shows that horrifying adventures and experiments do, in fact, have long-term effect. Morty's thousand-yard stare at the end shows that, even though everything is back to normal, he certainly isn't. There's a reason that the working title for this episode was "Nothing Is the Same Anymore".
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- Rick likens the love potion to date-rape drugs and gives Morty the gears for forcing him to make it.
- Morty delivers one back to Rick's constant fails in creating a cure and making things worse in the process.
- Yandere: All of humanity ends up becoming this to Morty.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Rick's love potion piggybacks on Jessica's flu and gradually infects the entire human race barring Morty and his immediate family, causing them all to become obsessed with having sex with him. That's only the start.