In the season 4 premiere of Rick & Morty, "Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Repeat," Morty acquires an alien death crystal that allows him to see many variations of his own death - based on what he's currently doing. Most of the deaths are horrible and gruesome, but Morty becomes obsessed with chasing his ideal death: an old man in bed, with his beloved crush Jessica at his side, telling him that she loves him.
Morty isn't the only one who gets to experience lots of deaths, as Rick gets stuck in a cycle of dying and being cloned in different dimensions (most of them ruled by fascist regimes) as he attempts to return to his own dimension. Without Rick's brand of extremely responsible grandfatherly supervision, Morty quickly falls into an "Akira-type situation" as he follows whatever course of action the crystal commends to get his death with Jessica - from melting soldiers down into goo, to turning himself into a giant mutant tree out in the desert.
Speaking on the Adult Swim podcast after the episode aired, director Erica Hayes estimated that as many as forty potential Morty deaths made it onto the screen in "Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Repeat," with the animators having a great deal of fun figuring out different ways for him to die. Some are harder to make out than others, but here are all the discernible Morty deaths glimpsed in the death crystal:
- Torn apart by birds
- Attacked by alien facehugger
- Head stuck in elevator doors
- Eating poison berries
- Executed by electric chair with Anubis in attendance
- Impaled through the throat by school bully
- Impaled through the stomach by school bully
- Head smashed open in shower by school bully
- Beaten to death with fire extinguisher by school bully
- Beaten to death with mailbox by school bully
- Decapitated by school bully putting trash can over head and jumping up and down on it
- Heroin overdose
- Falling off building
- Nuclear apocalypse
- Falling from high shelf in library while trying to reach a book
- Eating poisonous alien spaghetti and meatballs
- While smoking on the toilet
- Knife throwing accident
- Hit by van due to texting while walking
- Melted by barrel of toxic chemicals
- Blown up by a bomb
- Impaled with a pitchfork by Farmer Rick
- (Somehow) killed by a Matryoshka nesting doll
Rick & Morty season 4 marks a power shift in the Smith household, with Beth and Jerry now back together and Rick forced (much to his chagrin) to ask Morty if he actually wants to come on adventures instead of just dragging him along. While the death crystal proves just how much danger their antics put Morty in, the biggest takeaway from the episode is that living a life that's only focused on dying of old age will result in not really living life at all.
Using high-concept science fiction to convey deeper meanings through the lens of ridiculous gross-out comedy is one of the things that Rick & Morty does best, and season 4 is already off to a strong start on that front. And given the entire multiverse full of Mortys out there (not to mention all the other sci-fi elements at play) this probably won't be the last time we see Morty die on the show.