The third season of Rick and Morty, an American animated television series created by Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, originally aired on Cartoon Network's late night programming block, Adult Swim. It premiered with "The Rickshank Rickdemption", which aired unannounced on April 1, 2017, as part of Adult Swim's annual April Fools' prank. As a result of production delays, the remaining episodes began airing weekly nearly four months later, on July 30, 2017. The season comprised ten episodes, and its initial airing concluded on October 1, 2017.
The premiere picks up where the second-season finale left off, as the show continues to follow the adventures of the members of the Smith household. When Jerry asks Beth to choose between him and Rick, the strength of their marriage is tested. Jerry is confronted with the loss of his family, while Beth begins to discover her independence again. Morty and Summer deal with their parents' separation by seeking more control over their lives. Rick's nihilistic way of life continues to prevent him from bonding with his family, as he remains unable to change his self-destructive behavior.
The third season of Rick and Morty delivered the highest ratings in Adult Swim's history and was the top-rated comedy among millennials on television. The season received generally positive reviews, with many critics highlighting its focus on character development. The season has also received a number of awards and nominations, including the win of a Critics' Choice Award for Best Animated Series.
|Rick and Morty (season 3)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||10|
|Original network||Adult Swim|
|Original release||April 1[a] – October 1, 2017|
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||U.S. viewers
|22||1||"The Rickshank Rickdemption"||Juan Meza-León||Mike McMahan||April 1, 2017||0.68[b]|
Rick is interrogated via a mind-computer link, inside a galactic federal prison. Summer and Morty attempt to rescue him but they are captured by SEAL Team Ricks, who take them to the Citadel of Ricks and decide to assassinate Rick. Back at the prison, Rick tricks both the federal agents and his aspiring assassins by switching bodies with them. He then teleports the entire Citadel into the federal prison, prompting a massive battle. Amid the confusion, Rick rescues Morty and Summer, and uses the Galactic Federation's mainframe to make its currency worthless. The Federation falls into chaos and collapses as a result, with the aliens leaving Earth. Rick, Morty, and Summer return home where Jerry gives Beth an ultimatum to choose between him and Rick. Beth chooses Rick and they decide to get a divorce. After the new status quo is established, Rick reveals to Morty that his ulterior motive was to become his de facto male influence. This escalates into a nonsensical angry rant, centered around Rick's desire to find more of the discontinued McDonald's Szechuan sauce, a promotional product for the 1998 film Mulan.
Post-credit scene: Tammy observes Bird Person's resurrection as a cyborg dubbed "Phoenix Person".
|23||2||"Rickmancing the Stone"||Dominic Polcino||Jane Becker||July 30, 2017||2.86|
Rick takes Morty and Summer to a post-apocalyptic version of Earth, where they are chased by a group of scavengers, known as Death Stalkers. Rick notices that the group is carrying a valuable rock of Isotope 322, so he and the kids join them in hope of stealing it. Summer falls in love with the Death Stalkers' leader, while Morty is given the strength of a giant arm, which takes him in search of its previous owner's killer. Rick leaves and replaces the kids with androids to fool Beth. When he returns, he helps the Death Stalkers use the Isotope to power a more advanced civilization. Summer does not like how the change softens the Death Stalkers, and she decides to follow Rick and Morty back home. Before leaving, Rick steals the isotope. The experience helps the kids overcome their parents' divorce. Summer reconciles with Jerry, and Morty realizes he must live his own life.
Post-credit scene: As Jerry receives his unemployment check, a growling wolf appears and bullies him into handing it over. The wolf eats the check and regurgitates it, thus further ruining Jerry's new life.
|24||3||"Pickle Rick"||Anthony Chun||Jessica Gao||August 6, 2017||2.31|
Rick turns himself into a pickle to get out of attending a school-sanctioned family therapy, but Beth takes Rick's serum which would revert the transformation. Left alone, Rick eventually rolls down into an open sewer drain, where he manages to manipulate the nervous systems of dead roaches and rats to build himself a mobile exoskeleton, with added weapons such as razors and drills. He unwittingly escapes into a foreign government agency. The guards try to kill Rick, under orders from the agency director, but Rick kills them all. In the process, Rick battles and ultimately befriends a prisoner named Jaguar. Rick changes his mind and decides to attend the therapy session, arriving towards the end. Dr. Wong gives her diagnosis, observing that Rick crafts relationships that punish emotions and vulnerability. On their way home, Rick apologizes to Beth for deceiving her and uses the serum to turn human again. Morty and Summer wish to continue seeing Dr. Wong, but Rick and Beth ignore them.
Post-credit scene: Jaguar saves Rick and Morty from being killed in an elaborate piano death machine by a villain named "Concerto".
|25||4||"Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender"||Bryan Newton||Sarah Carbiener & Erica Rosbe||August 13, 2017||2.66|
At Morty's insistence, Rick agrees to join the Vindicators, a group of intergalactic superheroes, to fight their archnemesis, Worldender. Rick cannot hide his disdain for the superheroes, while Morty is thrilled. The next morning, the Vindicators enter Worldender's base, only to find that, the previous night, Rick had killed him and set up a variety of puzzles that the Vindicators must solve to survive while he was blackout drunk. They start arguing and kill one another, while Morty solves all the puzzles, as he knows what Rick had in mind when he put them up. After all puzzles are solved, the only ones left alive are Rick, Morty, and Supernova, who is a member of the Vindicators. Supernova tries to kill Rick and Morty, but before she can do so, the three of them are transported to a party that Rick also set up while blackout drunk, where she gets away.
Post-credit scene: Gearhead tries to use a Vindicators vest to pick up some young girls, but when an alien terrorist attack strikes, he runs away eventually tripping and falling, breaking into pieces.
|26||5||"The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy"||Juan Meza-León||Ryan Ridley||August 20, 2017||2.29|
To bolster Jerry's self-esteem, Rick takes him on an adventure at Morty's request. They visit an otherworldly resort within an immortality field so Jerry won't be harmed while away. Jerry encounters Risotto Groupon, an alien who blames Rick for his kingdom being usurped. Risotto enlists Jerry in a plot to kill Rick, but Jerry backs out after Rick apologizes for ruining his marriage. Meanwhile, Summer deals with self-esteem issues as well. Her boyfriend, Ethan, leaves her for a larger-breasted girlfriend, and Summer attempts to enlarge her own breasts using one of Rick's devices. Her aim is off, and she grows to bizarre proportions. Morty wants to call Rick for assistance, but Beth refuses. Arrogantly trying to prove her own self-worth, Beth repeatedly fails to fix the problem and is tricked into releasing three tiny technical support workers that were trapped inside the machine. Once Morty figures out how the machine works, he restores Summer's size and spitefully uses it to deform Ethan in an act of vengeance.
Post-credit scene: The three tiny workers are enjoying their retirement next to a river. As an extremely deformed Ethan walks by, one of them is snatched by an eagle.
|27||6||"Rest and Ricklaxation"||Anthony Chun||Tom Kauffman||August 27, 2017||2.47|
After a six-day outer space adventure that leaves them on the verge of psychological collapse, Rick and Morty decide to spend some time at an alien spa, where they use a machine that extracts a person's negative personality traits. However, without Rick and Morty knowing, those traits are transposed into toxic physical counterparts, characterized by Rick's arrogance and Morty's self-loathing. On the other hand, the true Rick becomes more considerate, and Morty's confidence soars, which allows him to start dating girls. Toxic Rick uses a moonlight tower to remake the whole Earth in his own image, but the true Rick reverts the situation by merging back with him. Morty avoids merging back with his toxic counterpart and goes on to live a life as a stockbroker in New York City. Rick tracks him down with the help of Jessica, Morty's classmate, and restores order by re-injecting the negative personality traits into him.
Post-credit scene: A tour of the same moonlight tower releases Stacy, one of the girls Morty dated in the episode, who had been inadvertently trapped inside the toxin machine.
|28||7||"The Ricklantis Mixup"[c]||Dominic Polcino||Dan Guterman & Ryan Ridley||September 10, 2017||2.38|
As Rick and Morty adventure to Atlantis, the episode shifts focus towards the Citadel, a secret society populated by numerous versions of Ricks and Mortys. There, a group of Mortys journey to a portal to have their wishes granted; a novice police officer Rick starts working with a veteran police Morty to take down drug dealers, and a worker Rick revolts at a wafer factory, where the key ingredient is extracted from a Rick hooked up to a machine to re-experience his best memories. Meanwhile, an election is held for the new president of the Citadel. Despite being the underdog, the Morty Party candidate manages to secure the presidency. When his campaign manager receives information that the new president is in fact Evil Morty from the first-season episode "Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind", he attempts to assassinate him but he fails. Evil Morty orders the execution of a shadow council of Ricks and anybody else he considers a potential threat to his rule.
Post-credit scene: Rick and Morty return home from Atlantis, satisfied with their trip. Morty wonders what happened at the Citadel, but Rick tells him it will likely have no effect on their lives.
|29||8||"Morty's Mind Blowers"||Bryan Newton||Mike McMahan, James Siciliano, Ryan Ridley,
Dan Guterman, Justin Roiland & Dan Harmon
|September 17, 2017||2.51|
After Morty requests to have a traumatic memory deleted, Rick reveals a room where he has been storing a number of memories he has removed from Morty's mind. However, as it turns out, besides the memories that Morty did not want to keep from their adventures, the room also contains memories in which Rick was made to look foolish, so he had them forcibly removed from Morty. This revelation prompts a fight, during which Rick and Morty have their memories accidentally erased. Morty scours the memories to replace the ones he lost, but he is displeased with the truth he finds, and convinces Rick that they should kill themselves. Summer enters the room moments before they commit suicide. At this point, it is revealed that Rick has a contingency plan should this happen. Following written instructions, Summer tranquilizes Rick and Morty, restores their memories, and drags them to the living room. Rick and Morty wake up on the couch, believing that they slept through an entire "Interdimensional Cable" episode.
Post-credit scene: Jerry discovers a box labeled "Jerry's Mind Blowers", which contains a memory of him being accidentally responsible for the death of an alien.
|30||9||"The ABC's of Beth"||Juan Meza-León||Mike McMahan||September 24, 2017||2.49|
Rick and Beth enter Froopyland, a fantasy world created by Rick for young Beth. Their goal is to recover Tommy, Beth's childhood friend who has been trapped in Froopyland, and prevent the execution of his father, who is being falsely accused of eating him. Tommy, who has survived all these years by resorting to bestiality, incest and cannibalism, refuses to return to the real world. Rick and Beth manage to save his father's life by creating a clone of Tommy. Back at home, Beth is presented with the option of having a replacement clone of her created, so that she will be free to travel the world. Meanwhile, Jerry dates an alien hunter named Kiara, to Morty and Summer's dismay. When he decides to get out of the relationship, Kiara is enraged and tries to kill the kids, whom she holds responsible. The situation is resolved following the revelation that Kiara was using Jerry to get over her previous boyfriend, much like Jerry was doing with her.
Post-credit scene: Jerry's answering machine plays messages warning him that Kiara's boyfriend is coming to kill him, and Rick saying that he has killed Kiara's boyfriend, but also had sex with her.
|31||10||"The Rickchurian Mortydate"||Anthony Chun||Dan Harmon||October 1, 2017||2.60|
The President calls on Rick and Morty to defeat a monster in the tunnels underneath the White House, which they do with little effort. Annoyed that he constantly calls on them without any gratitude, they go back home, with the President quickly finding out. The resulting argument leads to a battle of egos that culminates in a fight in the White House between Rick and the President's security. Meanwhile, fearing she might be a clone made by Rick, Beth reunites with Jerry to figure out the truth. Shortly after, the entire family gets together to hide from Rick, but he tracks them down. Rick eventually submits to Jerry once again being a family member. Rick ends his conflict with the President by pretending to be Fly Fishing Rick, a Rick from a different reality, and calling a truce. The episode ends with the family happy to be together again, except for Rick who is disappointed about losing his dominant position.
Post-credit scene: Mr. Poopybutthole returns to apologize for not appearing in Season 3, but he has gotten married and has a wife and son. He ends the scene by saying that it will be a long wait until Season 4.
The actors and actresses listed below lend their voices to the corresponding animated characters.
Other cast members of the season, who each have voiced one or more characters, include: Dan Harmon, Brandon Johnson, Tom Kenny, Maurice LaMarche, Nolan North, Cassie Steele, Kari Wahlgren, Laura Bailey, John DiMaggio, Ryan Ridley, Scott Chernoff, Dan Benson, Clancy Brown, Echo Kellum, Melique Berger, William Holmes, Tara Strong, Jeff B. Davis, Jonas Briedis, Phil Hendrie, Rob Paulsen, Alex Jayne Go, Jennifer Hale and Mariana Wise.
On August 12, 2015, shortly after a successful second-season premiere, Adult Swim renewed the series for a third season. Talking about the show's renewal, co-creator Dan Harmon said that it is "an honor to see Rick and Morty join the exclusive club of shows with over nineteen episodes."
Female writers were added to the staff for the first time, and—counting out the co-creators of the show, Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon—the writing room was gender-balanced. Sarah Carbiener, one of the new female writers, said that she managed to learn many things from her experience as a member of the writing team. She explained that a story that for other shows would have been an entire episode, for Rick and Morty it will be only its first few minutes. Therefore, the team had to write a large amount of story in a short time. Dan Harmon, talking about the writing process, said that the episodes were written collectively by the staff, and that the name of the writer that appears in the credits of an episode is usually that of the person who has been assigned to prepare the episode's outline. Writing began on November 2, 2015, and the first episode was recorded on February 18, 2016.
In July 2016, already behind on schedule, the production team admitted that the success of the series had increased pressure to meet the expectations of the viewers. The creative freedom provided by Adult Swim entailed taking responsibility for product quality, and as the bar had risen higher, work had become harder, improvements were constantly being sought, and this often resulted in delays. Writing was finally completed in November 2016. In February 2017, Dan Harmon, answering questions regarding the delayed release, announced on his podcast, Harmontown, that the season was in the animation process, after a long period of writing. When production of the season had been completed, Harmon wrote a series of posts on Twitter, explaining that the writing process took that long to complete, because of his perfectionism. As a result, the third season of Rick and Morty consisted of only ten episodes instead of fourteen, as was initially intended.
Following the conclusion of the show's third season, Adult Swim made a livestream marathon of Rick and Morty available to watch on its official website in select regions, hoping to dissuade viewers from watching other illegal livestreams. The season was released on DVD and Blu-ray on May 15, 2018, with special features including exclusive commentary and animatics for every episode, "inside the episode", the origins of Rick and Morty, and an exclusive "inside the recording booth" session. Uncensored versions of the season are available to purchase on various digital platforms, including iTunes, Amazon and Microsoft Store. The digital release also includes commentaries on every episode, as well as seven more short videos featuring co-creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland. The season is available to watch on Netflix in a number of countries outside the United States, including the United Kingdom.
The season currently holds a 97% approval rating from the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes based on 16 reviews, and a rating average of 8.76 out of 10. Jesse Schedeen of IGN described the third season of the show as darker and more unpredictable than the first two, and praised its high-concept storytelling and character development. Schedeen gave the season an 8.8 out of 10 rating, saying that it "didn't quite reach the heights of Season 2, but it is the series' most consistently entertaining and ambitious season yet". Holding a different view, Mike Cosimano of Comics Gaming Magazine disagreed with other critics about the third season being dark; he said that it used "cheap gut punches to elicit that very reaction". Cosimano also said that too many episodes of the season were weak and the character development is "front-loaded to the first half of the show," resulting in an uneven season. He considered the season to be "a disappointment," rating it 6.5 out of 10.
On a thematic level, Kayla Cobb of Decider focused on the dynamism displayed by Beth and Summer, as the characters broke the stereotypical conventions of the first two seasons. Cobb stated that "Season 3 is the first time Rick and Morty really handed over the reigns [sic] to its leading ladies, and it was a horrifying delight." Julia Alexander of Polygon highlighted the philosophical conflict between nihilist realism and life in ignorant bliss as the season's main theme, and noted that "after an introspective season built on the importance of self-realization and reflection, Rick and Morty's third year ended on a total reset," with Beth and the kids reuniting with Jerry in the season-finale, as they seek comfort through escapism and ignore the realities of their lives. Once again, Rick becomes the outsider figure in the Smith household, with Beth noting that from this point "things will be like season one" again. Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club, however, appeared skeptical about the character's statement, noting that "the problem with going as far as season three went is that bridges stay burned". Handlen considered Jerry's return to be an anticlimax from a character standpoint and "a necessary corrective to an arc that was in danger of going off the rails completely".
Rick and Morty completed its third season with overall viewership numbers increased by 81% over the previous season, and delivered the highest ratings in Adult Swim's history. Rick and Morty was the most popular television comedy within the 18–24 and 18–34 age ranges in the United States, based on "Live+7" ratings data spanning from December 2016 to September 2017. This rating system tracks live viewership plus streaming and on-demand viewing over an initial week-long period, and provides a more accurate picture of delayed viewing as compared to "Live+Same Day" ratings. Considering that episodes of the third season originally aired at 11:30 p.m. on Sundays, it is very likely that people would have watched them on-demand the next day or several days later.
Christina Miller, the president of Adult Swim, told Fortune that Rick and Morty "goes beyond just appealing to millennials," as numbers suggest that people of all ages are watching the show. The second episode of the season, which aired nearly four months after the unannounced premiere, was the season's most-watched episode with 2.86 million viewers, and the second-best on cable for the day it aired in adults 18–49, behind the weekly episode of Game of Thrones. The season finale was watched by 2.6 million live plus same day viewers and it was the most-watched telecast across all age groups.
Rick and Morty (season 3) : U.S. viewers per episode (millions)
Source: Nielsen Media Research.
The Szechuan sauce reference in the season premiere brought huge online attention for McDonald's discontinued promotional product. Internet memes spread rapidly on Reddit and Twitter, more than 40,000 people signed a petition at Change.org, asking for the return of the sauce, while an eBay auction resulted in a 20-year-old packet of this teriyaki sauce being sold for $14,700. On October 7, 2017, McDonald's served limited quantities of Szechuan sauce, with the company calling it "the year’s most talked-about dipping sauce."
|2017||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Animated TV Show||Rick and Morty||Nominated|||
|IGN Awards||TV Series of the Year||Rick and Morty||Nominated|||
|Best TV Episode||"The Ricklantis Mixup"||Nominated|||
|Best Animated Series||Rick and Morty||Won|||
|Best Comedy Series||Rick and Morty||Nominated|||
|Best Comedic TV Performance||Justin Roiland||Won|||
|IGN People's Choice Award||TV Series of the Year||Rick and Morty||Won|||
|Best TV Episode||"The Ricklantis Mixup"||Nominated|||
|Best Animated Series||Rick and Morty||Won|||
|Best Comedy Series||Rick and Morty||Won|||
|Best Comedic TV Performance||Justin Roiland||Won|||
|2018||Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Animated Series||Rick and Morty||Won|||
|Annie Awards||Best General Audience Animated Television/Broadcast Production||"Pickle Rick"||Won|||
|Outstanding Achievement for Writing in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production||Ryan Ridley, Dan Guterman (for "The Ricklantis Mixup")||Won|
|Golden Reel Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Animation Short Form||Hunter Curra, Kailand Reily, Andrew Twite, Joy Elett, Jeff Halbert, Konrad Pinon (for "Pickle Rick")||Nominated|||
|BTVA Voice Acting Awards||Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role||Christian Slater||Nominated|||
|Saturn Awards||Best Animated Series or Film on Television||Rick and Morty||Pending|||
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Animated TV Show||Rick and Morty||Pending|||