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Perhaps no television show running today enjoys greater online praise than Rick and Morty. The show has a legion of worshipful fans, a 100% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a multitude of forums dedicated to discussing its mad-science universe. But when it comes to memes, Rick and Morty doesn’t yet have the same iconic status as a Spongebob Squarepants or a LazyTown. Now, in Rick and Morty’s third season, it’s starting to catch up.
Over the past week, a meme based on the cold open of the recent episode “Rest and Rick-laxation” has come to dominate the meme space. “Let’s go. In and out. Twenty minutes adventure,” mad scientist Rick promises his put-upon grandson Morty, standing in front of a glowing green portal. The adventure ends up taking six harrowing days.
In the meme, Rick and Morty are each replaced by any character or concept you can think of, and the portal represents whatever quagmire the two get themselves into. It’s never just a 20-minutes adventure.
Remember the time George W. Bush convinced America that war in Iraq and Afghanistan would eventually end? Fifteen years later, that was no 20-minutes adventure.
Likewise, when Sir George Pearce led Australia’s army into the Great Emu War (a real, actual thing), no one expected the birds would be so resilient.
Hitler also didn’t have a 20-minutes adventure when he invaded Russia:
A large number of these memes describe failed military campaigns, but the meme is much more versatile than that. It can be about sex:
or Game of Thrones:
Really, anything that takes longer or goes worse than expected can be shoehorned into this meme. It can even be remixed with other memes to create new forms:
The combination of a beloved show and a very adaptable meme format turned “20 Minutes Adventure” into an instant hit. It was so prevalent on Reddit that it even threatened to displace Distracted Boyfriend, the consensus biggest meme of the summer.
“20 Minutes Adventure” looks like it’s destined to last a lot longer than 20 minutes. Maybe six days, even! More importantly, it looks like it could open the floodgates and let loose a lot of other Rick and Morty memes. As the show transitions from cult hit to mainstream hit, so will its memes. Wubba lubba dub dub?
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.