In the Something Ricked This Way Comes episode of popular sci-fi comedy Rick and Morty, eccentric mad scientist Rick dooms a self-aware robot to a life of depressing servitude by giving it the job of passing butter on the kitchen table. “Oh my god,” the robot says, as it realizes what’s in store for it.
It’s a throwaway joke, but — thanks to 3D printing and YouTube tech blogger ESDEV, aka Andre Bella — it now has a life outside of animation.
As a fan of Rick and Morty, Bella decided to create a replica of the two-armed robot, using a painted I Spy Tank for the bottom part and a 3D-printed shell for its upper half.
“It’s pretty simple, really,” he told Digital Trends. “I had one of the I Spy RC toys. I removed its cover, 3D printed a new shell for it, and then modified the electronics.”
Bella noted that while he sometimes creates 3D-printed objects for himself, he does not always post them online. On this occasion, he did, and he is pleased because the depressing robot has proven to be a hit with Rick and Morty fans — more than 1 million have already checked it out.
As for what’s next, Bella said he plans to give everyone with access to a 3D printer the opportunity to build a butter-passing bot of their own. “The next step is going to be to post the files and a video tutorial showing how to do it,” he said.
So why did the joke strike such a chord with him? “It’s a funny joke, but it’s also kind of philosophical,” he said. “It’s like life. You go for a job and, on your first day, your boss asks you to pass him some papers. You do, but you want to know what your purpose is — and really it’s just passing someone else papers.”
As Rick says to the despairing robot in the episode, “Welcome to the club, pal.”