Rick and Morty’s Butter Robot Death Might Be Its Darkest Joke Ever

Appearing in Rick and Morty season 1, episode 9, ‘Something Ricked This Way Comes,’ the Butter Robot is perhaps as close as the franchise has come to distilling Rick’s nihilistic view of the universe into a single moment. However, the joke got even darker when the franchise killed off the tiny robot, rubbing salt in the wound of its one-note existence.

The Butter Robot is exactly what it sounds like – a small robot Rick creates to pass him the butter at the family dinner table. Cruelly, Rick gives the little robot enough sentience to wonder about its purpose in life. When the robot asks its creator for the answer, Rick replies, “You pass butter,” and the robot looks down at its hands before muttering, “Oh my god.” Rick replies, “Welcome to the club, pal,” communicating his view of the universe as a functionally meaningless collection of random events, where any sense of purpose is absent at best, and crushingly disappointing at worst.

However, that’s not the last franchise-fans saw of the Butter Robot. In Rick and Morty #50 (from Kyle Starks, Marc Ellerby, Sarah Stern, and a host of other creators), the comic tie-in series returns to the ‘Morty’s Mind Blowers’ format, where Morty discovers the unbearable memories Rick has extracted from his mind so he’ll be willing to keep having adventures. One of these memories is the death of the Butter Robot, who attempts to help free Rick and Morty while they’re under guard in an alien jail.

In this flashback, it’s revealed that Morty adopted the Butter Robot after its TV debut, teaching it that contrary to its design, it can do anything it wants. The Butter Robot is filled with renewed purpose, seeing Morty as a hero and even replicating his hesitant speaking pattern. Unfortunately, once the Butter Robot actually tries to help, it’s immediately crushed under the foot of the pair’s alien guard, with Rick pointing out that this was the obvious outcome, since the robot was designed exclusively to pass butter.

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Rick and morty Butter robot death 2

The Butter Robot’s death is bleak, but it’s also the perfect complement to its ‘birth.’ Rick and Morty‘s original Butter Robot joke was about how demoralizing it would be to meet your maker and find out you have no grand purpose. With its death, however, the Butter Robot has overcome this disappointment and tries to define meaning for itself… only to be destroyed because it truly isn’t capable of much beyond its original design. This is an existentially terrifying end to the melancholy character, as it’s defeated twice by its disappointing purpose – first in how it lacks any grander reason for being, and then by how it is unable to achieve anything more.

Rick and Morty has never been afraid to pack some deeply dark messages in with its jokes, but the tragic birth and death of the Butter Robot is up there with the franchise’s harshest arguments about the human condition – it hammers home the message that existence may not just lack an innate sense of meaning, but that even creating that meaning might ultimately be impossible.

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