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Rick and Morty season 5 confirms the dark backstory of one of its biggest characters

Beth in Rick and Morty
(Image credit: Adult Swim)

Rick and Morty often plays fast and loose with canon – but not this time.

In a surprise reveal, the most recent season five episode has confirmed that one of the show’s major characters has been dead for far longer than fans have realized.

"Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort" sees Rick dive into Birdperson’s subconscious to rescue his BFF. Along the way, he bumps into a memory of his past 35-year-old self and the two conspire to save Birdperson.

But the Ricks, inevitably, butt heads. When prying on ‘our’ Rick’s history, the younger Rick discovers Rick goes on adventures with grandson Morty. As we find out, that should be impossible.

"You’re one of those creeps who moves in with abandoned adult Beths?" The younger Rick asks. "You live with a version of our dead daughter."

In case the implication wasn’t already obvious: Rick’s real daughter died long ago – and never gave birth to Summer or Morty.

While we already knew Rick’s current family – Morty aside – isn’t his own (as detailed in the Cronenberg-infested “Rick Potion #9 from the first season which saw Rick and Morty jump into another universe after the Earth was overrun), this is the first confirmation of the long-running fan theory that Beth died as a child.

The season 3 premiere also made reference to the heart-wrenching moment, as one of Rick’s ‘invented’ memories to trick the Federation portrayed his wife and daughter being killed in his garage.

Rick and Morty season 5

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

That "completely fabricated" memory now, it seems, rings true. The season 5 premiere already tried to establish Rick’s love for Beth’s mother, Diane. Now, it’s gone one further – and completely changed how we view Rick’s relationship with Beth and the rest of the Smith family. After all, he's secretly been alone and living with replacements this whole time. Talk about a dark twist.

It could even get addressed soon. The Rick and Morty season 5 return date is set for September with a one-hour finale. Not long now until it shows us what it's got.

From Pickle Rick to Blips and Chitz, here are the best Rick and Morty episodes… so far.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.