Rick and Morty season 5 episode 8 subtly revealed Rick's parents

Rick and Bird Person in Rick and Morty season 5, episode 8.
(Image credit: Adult Swim)

Spoilers follow for Rick and Morty season 5 episode 8.

While Rick and Morty has taken a break until September 5, when it'll air its one-hour season finale, its latest episode gave us a lot to chew on. As well confirming a long-running theory that the 'real' Beth in our Rick's original reality died – 'Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort' basically told us that the Beth we know in the show is a version from a universe where she didn't die – the episode explored the long history between Rick and his best friend, Birdperson.

The Beth reveal was only briefly touched upon, but it absolutely generated the most discussion around the episode. "You live with a version of our dead daughter," says a younger version of Rick to our Rick (known in the show's canon as Rick C-137), inside Birdperson's memories. This confirms something the show had previously hinted at for several seasons, but not actually presented in detail. 

But eagle-eyed fans on Reddit have spotted another never-before-seen element in the show: a first look at Rick's parents. You get a short glimpse of a family portrait in the final shot of the episode (not counting the post-credits scene), which does indeed appear to show them in detail. 

Check it out below:

almost_missed_this_golden_nugget_a_first_look_at from r/rickandmorty

After some Photoshopping revealed more detail on the characters, artist Summathyne recreated the portrait face-on so you can see Rick's parents in full.

This is clearly just meant to be a nice Easter egg, rather than a hint at anything more – the series doesn't preoccupy itself with Rick's distant past all that much – but it really shows just how much lore the writers jammed into this episode. For those hanging on to the wild fan theory that Rick might somehow have been a Morty once, this pretty much blows that out of the water.

Rick and Morty returns for its final fifth season episode on Sunday, September 5 in the US on Adult Swim. The show airs on E4 in the UK, and Netflix in Australia.

Opinion: Has Rick and Morty season 5 actually been good so far?

This episode of Rick and Morty is lore-packed in a way the preceding seven weren't. That's what made it such a special episode of the show – the other episodes just focused on being either great sci-fi stories, or the basis for gross-out jokes. 

There's still a ton of creativity coming from the writers in season 5, but familiarity has set in a little. This isn't really a bad thing. 

I wouldn't say Rick and Morty is going through the motions this year, as such, but it is showing us things we've now seen a few times before. We've had two episodes where Morty goes on a murderous rampage this season – one in a dimension where time moves faster, as a plan to rapidly create vintage wine goes awry, and another where he kills the former child companions of Planetina, an environmental superhero on the brink of a meltdown. 

We've had an episode where Jerry is pathetic, and where Rick and Beth denigrate him being as such. And we've had more of Rick's continued rivalry with the President of the United States, an ongoing, possibly sexually-charged feud that the show is pretty self-referential about. Again, this is familiar territory for the show – even if it's successful at escalating the stakes surrounding these ideas. 

Rick and Morty is starting to feel more like comfort food to me, and this isn't a criticism. In a previous piece about this season's best episode so far, 'Mortiplicity', I discussed how Rick and Morty struggles to feel as fresh as it once did – the show has to balance an odd mix of heavy continuity with the same basic status quo of a boy and his grandfather going on weekly adventures. The right idea will always punch through and dazzle us, though, which is exactly why that episode landed so well.

But the rest of this season has delighted me just as much, to be honest. Sure, I don't expect every episode to upend the format like 'Mortiplicity' did, but the episode 'Rickdependence Spray', where Morty's sperm is accidentally turned into giant rampaging monsters, was genuinely hilarious. I'm not big on gross-out humor, but when Rick and Morty commits to an idea like that, it really goes for it.

Hence, this season's 'Giant Incest Baby' twist – which is a sequence of words I'd like to forget.

The writers are on great form this season when it comes to taking a silly episode idea to its wildest possible conclusion. But that's exactly why an episode like 'Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort' hits so right. It's giving the fans what they want, but in a format they'd never predict – and in a way that puts characterization before anything else. That's a sign that the show is still on top form, after five seasons.

Samuel Roberts

Samuel is a PR Manager at game developer Frontier. Formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor, he's an expert in Marvel, Star Wars, Netflix shows and general streaming stuff. Before his stint at TechRadar, he spent six years at PC Gamer. Samuel is also the co-host of the popular Back Page podcast, in which he details the trials and tribulations of being a games magazine editor – and attempts to justify his impulsive eBay games buying binges.