It has been some time since Rick & Morty did an inter-dimensional cable episode, and it doesn’t seem like the series will revisit this format any time soon for numerous reasons. Rick & Morty has always had an anarchic, freewheeling sense of absurd humor. However, the show’s anything-goes approach to cartoon comedy is never more obvious than in Rick & Morty’s inter-dimensional cable episodes.
Featured in the show’s first two seasons, Rick & Morty’s inter-dimensional cable episodes consist of the two title characters flipping through the channels of a television set picking up every dimension’s shows. Usually, Rick and Morty’s inter-dimensional travel only occurs during dramatic adventures and acts as a last resort escape route. However, the inter-dimensional cable episodes were much more laidback affairs that mostly relied on blatantly improvised short sketches. Perhaps because of how goofy this setup was, Rick & Morty appeared to largely abandon the show’s inter-dimensional cable episodes after season 2.
While Rick & Morty season 3 featured not one, but two, anthology episodes, neither took the shape of an inter-dimensional cable outing. In the two seasons since then, Rick & Morty has still not revisited the inter-dimensional cable premise and now the likelihood of the series returning this setup is looking increasingly distant for multiple reasons. These include Rick & Morty’s changing tone, the show’s growing move toward serialized storytelling, and, in practical terms, the events of Rick & Morty’s season 5 finale potentially destroying inter-dimensional cable itself.
The inter-dimensional cable episodes, like most Rick & Morty episodes in the show’s early seasons, were met with largely positive reviews upon release. While their goofy, improvisational tone made the outings less story-driven than most episodes of Rick & Morty, this was a welcome reprieve from the show’s more plot-heavy standalone adventures. As such, it came as a surprise when Rick & Morty season 3 didn’t feature an inter-dimensional cable episode, although the show did explain why. The reason was that Rick & Morty was trying to do different types of anthology outings to keep each season feeling fresh and avoid over-reliance on rigid formula. In a classic case of Rick & Morty parodying itself, the show even saw Rick refer to Morty’s erased memories as an Inter-Dimensional Cable replacement in “Morty’s Mind Blowers” (season 3, episode 8).
However, this was not the only reason that Rick & Morty season 3 replaced inter-dimensional cable with a new type of anthology. While “Morty’s Mind Blowers” was a silly, self-contained adventure, the revelation that Rick frequently wiped Morty’s mind of traumatic experiences to make his grandson a more willing worker was more character development than the show’s main cast got in both earlier inter-dimensional cable episodes combined. To this end, Rick & Morty season 3’s other anthology episode “The Ricklantis Mixup” (season 3, episode 7) also served essentially the same function as an inter-dimensional cable episode, but the outing simultaneously secretly set up major story elements that paid off years later in Rick & Morty’s tragic season 5 finale. This shift away from completely random humor and toward setting up character development and more ambitious plots within episodes whose stories felt unconnected and improvised continued into Rick & Morty season 4, where even the goofiest episodes served as part of a larger story.
Even Rick & Morty season 4’s silliest episodes like “Rattlestar Ricklactica” (season 4, episode 5) and “One Crew Over The Crewcoo’s Morty” (season 4, episode 4) were standalone adventures rather than anarchic anthology episodes, with the humor coming from the characters rather than random channel-hopping skits. While the earlier inter-dimensional cable episodes had relied on chaotic, often puerile humor that was reminiscent of Rick & Morty’s origins as the obscene comedic web series “The Adventures of Doc & Mharti,” season 4’s silliest episodes still featured some kind of character development. This meant that season 4 focused on fleshing out the Smith family more without sacrificing Rick & Morty’s absurd jokes, something season 5 leaned into even further.
Rick & Morty’s “Vat of Acid Episode” (season 4, episode 8) infamously showed the gruesome consequences of dimension-hopping, while Rick & Morty‘s season 5 premiere “Mort Dinner Rick Andre” saw Rick’s portal gun finally fail him at an inopportune time. Even before the show-shaking season 5 finale, these sorts of scenes acted as hints that Rick & Morty was already moving away from stories involving inter-dimensional travel and toward a more serialized plot. The choice was an understandable one, as dimension-hopping was something of a “get out of jail free” card that limited the show’s stakes and emotional impact. The fact that Rick and Morty could always abandon their entire reality for a new one was (as the show freely admitted early on) a cop-out that functioned as a way for the writers to avoid things ever becoming too serious. With the ending of Rick & Morty season 5 and the destruction of the Central Finite Curve, Rick & Morty embraced taking its story more seriously, and, in the process, the show left little room for episodes as utterly unhinged and gleefully pointless as the inter-dimensional cable outings.
Rick & Morty’s Season 5 finale changed a lot about the show. For one thing, the truth behind Morty’s existence made the entire series darker in retrospect, as did Rick’s tragic backstory. For another, the destruction of the Central Finite Curve meant that Rick and Morty could no longer hop between realities at will, while the Rick & Morty season 5 finale’s depiction of the consequences of their dimension-hopping meant viewers wouldn’t want them to return to the practice anyway. As such, the odds of Rick & Morty continuing to watch inter-dimensional cable despite losing the ability to travel to alternate dimensions are low, both because the show is now seemingly invested in taking its canon a little more seriously and approaching its story a little less chaotically and because they might no longer have the practical means to do so in-universe. It’s not completely clear whether or not Evil Morty destroying the Central Finite Curve put an end to inter-dimensional cable in the world of Rick & Morty. However, the Rick & Morty season 5 finale did require that the show take itself a bit more seriously, meaning an inter-dimensional cable episode could be tonally jarring going forward.