Here’s everything about Rick Sanchez’s depression:
While no one can truly diagnose a fictional character, it is very likely that he is in fact depressed.
More to the point, he probably has extremely severe depression, and in a manner of speaking, it’s one of his primary motivations.
He routinely expresses his disdain for and malcontent with existence in general.
So if you want to learn all about Rick Sanchez’s clinical depression, then this article is for you.
Let’s jump right into it!
Who Is Rick Sanchez?
There’s no chance that we can have a meaningful discussion about Rick Sanchez if we don’t start at the beginning.
Who is he?
He’s one of the two titular characters in Rick and Morty, an adult cartoon series.
If you haven’t watched Rick and Morty, the show is still airing new episodes.
Also, if I’m going to talk about Rick and whether or not he is depressed, I’ll have to get into plot points.
There are spoilers ahead.
A little more on Rick, he’s basically the main character of the series.
He is dubbed the smartest man in the universe.
He is a master inventor, and he can basically make anything.
His biggest achievement (arguably) is the invention of a portal gun that allows him to freely travel the infinite multiverse.
With his intelligence and inventions, he’s nearly omnipotent.
He’s also constantly frustrated by characters in his world because none of them are anywhere near his level of intelligence.
He’s prone to all of the vices, and he’s not exactly a nice person.
Despite all of that, fans of the show find him to be extremely compelling, and he can deliver good comedy too.
That’s the gist of who Rick is, and it’s important to know at least that much to talk about his potential depression.
What Does It Mean to Be Depressed?
But, there’s something else we have to discuss first.
What does it mean to be depressed?
We could probably all find our own answers to this question, but I’m going to be a bit literal in order to keep this whole thing from going off the rails.
I’m going to say that a person is depressed if they suffer from clinical depression.
This is a specific term in psychology used to identify and help treat a psychological disorder.
According to the Mayo Clinic, clinical depression refers to “the more severe form of depression… It isn’t the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition, such as a thyroid disorder.”
To clarify, I’m not going to explore whether or not Rick ever has any feelings of depression.
He definitely does at moments in the show.
It’s clearly expressed.
What I’m exploring is whether or not he suffers from this more technical designation of severe depression that doesn’t have an overt outward cause.
Keep two things in mind as we go through all of this.
First, Rick is a fictional character.
Even though he is used as a vehicle to express ideas, he can’t actually be diagnosed.
So, there is no clear-cut answer.
There are only justifications that we can use to go one way or the other.
Second, I’m not a licensed psychiatrist.
I am not qualified to diagnose depression, which is why I’m only commenting on a fictional character today.
Is Rick Sanchez Depressed?
Let me lay it out for you.
I think that Rick Sanchez is depressed, and leaning back to that Mayo Clinic explanation, I don’t think it’s a minor issue.
I think he suffers from a chronic, major depressive disorder.
I’ll go through a bunch of examples in the series as to why later, but I wanted to get the simple, direct answer out there first.
What Do Experts Say?
In fact, I can even cite psychology experts that suggest Rick is depressed.
Again, they can’t do a proper diagnosis, but based on watching the show, multiple people have come to this conclusion.
It really seems to be an important aspect of Rick’s character.
He has virtually unlimited power and access to any material good he could ever want.
Because of the sci-fi nature of the show, he has access to things you and I can’t even conceive of.
With all of that, the one thing he doesn’t have is true happiness.
He’s depressed to highlight this very concept.
He’s also depressed so that the showrunners can explore situations and emotions that seem to resonate well with the audience.
After all, Rick and Morty is very popular.
How Depressed Is Rick Sanchez? (3 Evidence)
Now that we have established his depression, we can really get into it.
How depressed is he?
Rick has very severe depression.
It’s linked to heavy substance abuse, overwhelming feelings of despair, hopelessness, and meaninglessness.
It’s basically his most prevalent character trait—even eclipsing his intelligence throughout the series.
It would be fair to say that in the real world, there are cases of depression that eclipse what we see in Rick.
He’s still functional, more or less, and crippling depression is a very real thing.
But within the world of Rick and Morty, Rick is the most depressed character that we see, and that’s a deliberate narrative choice.
Rick often expresses his philosophical viewpoints that derive from nihilism.
He does not subscribe to any deity (despite having face-to-face confrontations with various gods in the show).
He fully believes that life is meaningless.
In fact, he’s so certain of that, he can probably prove it mathematically (remember, this is an explanation of a fictional character and not meant to impune anyone’s real beliefs).
This belief structure is core to who Rick is, and it goes hand in hand with his depression.
It’s hard to say if he is depressed because of his nihilistic views or if he holds those views because of his depression.
Either way, they are linked.
#2 Expressions of Dissatisfaction
More to the point, Rick outright tells us that he is depressed.
Aside from regularly saying that life is meaningless, he goes through multiple adventures as cries for help.
There’s an episode where he makes himself young to go to school with his grandkids.
While young, he invents a song and dance with the literal words “This is not a dance. I’m begging for help. I’m screaming for help.”
It’s delivered as a joke in the show, but it’s also a literal cry for help.
He also frequently uses the phrase “Wubba lubba dub dub,” which is later revealed to mean “I’m in great pain, please help.”
You can comb the show for countless additional examples.
The point is that the show isn’t trying to hide Rick’s depression.
It’s on full display, and it is not minor.
#3 Substance Abuse
Another clear example of Rick’s emotional state is his substance abuse.
He does a lot of different drugs in the show, and he clearly uses them to escape his feelings of depression.
Most obvious is his alcoholism.
Basically, he’s always drunk.
He literally has alcoholic drool drawn on his face as a default.
There are moments of sobriety throughout the series, but by and large, Rick is drunk every minute that you see him on screen.
You could argue that there are psychological reasons for that level of alcoholism that aren’t depression, and some of those would probably also apply to Rick.
But, he’s also clearly depressed, and it’s so extreme that drunk is his default state.
Earlier, I suggested that Rick’s depression is not crippling, and I think that now is a good time to qualify that statement.
If Rick was based on a real person, his depression would probably be crippling.
But, because he basically has superhuman intelligence and brain function, even this level of depression and constant drunkenness don’t really slow him down.
Suffice it to say that Rick is very, very depressed.
Why Is Rick Sanchez Depressed? (3 Reasons)
Ok. We’re ready to tackle the last essential question.
Rick goes on amazing adventures.
He experiences things that are actually beyond the comprehension of real people.
He can have anything he wants.
Why is he so depressed?
You would have to ask the writers to get a perfect answer, but we can find a few that are worth exploring here.
This goes back to Rick’s nihilism.
In reality, it’s possible to subscribe to nihilism without experiencing depression.
It’s a developed philosophy that is too rich and complex to break down here.
Rick’s version is a little different.
He truly believes that there is no value to anything. At all.
There is nothing in his life that is capable of giving him a sense of meaning, and even for someone as smart as Rick, that’s a tough idea to cope with.
The lack of meaning in his life clearly contributes to his depression.
Arguably, the most direct cause of his direction stems from his relationship with his family.
Rick is not exactly the most loving and supporting dad or grandparent you could imagine.
He constantly exploits his family for his own gain.
He’s brutally mean to his grandkids.
He even mathematically proves how much he dislikes them at one point.
Above all of that, Rick has a complicated relationship with his daughter.
It’s clear that she’s one of the few characters in the show that can come anywhere near his level of intelligence, and he very much wants to have her in his life as a peer.
But, he also clearly chose his work as an inventor over his relationship with her when she was young, and their relationship still suffers from that decision throughout the show.
He has a lot of regrets related to his family relationships, and it’s probably the deepest root of his depression.
There’s one more thing to discuss, and this goes over some not-safe-for-work (NSFW) content in the show.
I’ll keep the language light, but if you don’t want to read about how brutal some of the things in Rick and Morty are, now is a good time to stop reading.
Rick and Morty openly explores ideas of horror.
Rick frequently uses his nihilism to justify murder—even genocide—and countless other atrocities.
If nothing matters, then he can’t actually do anything wrong, right?
Despite that rationalization, Rick shows signs of overwhelming guilt at times.
His guilt for his awful behavior probably isn’t the source of his depression, but it’s definitely fuel on the fire.