Artificial Sentience Having an Existential Crisis in “Rick and Morty”

“What is my purpose?” Artificial Sentience Having an Existential Crisis in Rick and Morty

Alexander Maxwell

Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand


The American television show Rick and Morty, an animated science fiction sitcom, critiques speciesism in the context of bleak existentialist philosophy. Though the show focuses primarily on human characters, it also depicts various forms of artificial sentience, such as robots or clones, undergoing existential crises. It explicitly effaces any distinction between human sentience and artificial sentience, forcefully treating all sentient life with an equivalent respect (or disrespect). The show also problematizes human speciesism in relationship to terrestrial and extra-terrestrial life.

About the Author

Alexander Maxwell did his Bachelor’s degree in history and physics at the University of California Davis (1992), a Master’s degree in nationalism studies at Central European History in Budapest (1999) and his Ph.D. in history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (2003). He is now associate professor of history at Victoria University of Wellington, in New Zealand, where he also runs the Antipodean East European Study Group. He works primarily on the history of nationalism in Central Europe. He is the author of Choosing Slovakia (I. B. Tauris, 2009), Patriots against Fashion (Palgrave, 2014), and Everyday Nationalism in Hungary (De Gruyter, 2019). He is currently working on Habsburg Panslavism and the politics of the language-dialect dichotomy. He has published numerous articles on nationalism theory and history pedagogy. He also likes to publish one-off articles on topics unrelated to his primary research expertise and happens to be a passionate fan of the T.V. show Rick and Morty.

Published: 2021 – 06 – 01

Vol. 4 (2021) Cover

Issue: Vol 4 (2021): The Day that Coronavirus Stopped the Earth: What Do We Learn about Pandemics in Science Fiction Stories?

Section: General Articles

Copyright (c) 2021 Alexander Maxwell

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