Rick and Morty

Last updated on 19 November 2017

Rick and Morty is an American adult animated science-fiction sitcom created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon for Cartoon Network's late-night programming block Adult Swim. The series follows the misadventures of cynical mad scientist Rick Sanchez and his fretful, easily influenced grandson Morty Smith, who split their time between domestic life and interdimensional adventures. The series premiered on December 2, 2013 and its third season concluded on October 1, 2017. A fourth season has been mentioned first by Harmon in a September 2017 interview, and later in the post-credits scene of the third season's finale.

Roiland voices the eponymous characters, with Chris Parnell, Spencer Grammer, and Sarah Chalke voicing the rest of the family. The series originated from an animated short parody film of Back to the Future, The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti, created by Roiland for Channel 101, a short film festival co-founded by Harmon. When Adult Swim approached Harmon for television show ideas, he and Roiland decided to develop a program based on the short.

Rick and Morty
Rick and Morty opening credits.jpeg
Genre
Created by
Voices of
Composer(s) Ryan Elder
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 31 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
  • Dan Harmon
  • Justin Roiland
  • James A. Fino (seasons 1–2)
  • Joe Russo II (seasons 1–2)
Producer(s)
  • J. Michael Mendel
  • Kenny Micka (pilot)
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s)
  • Justin Roiland's Solo Vanity Card Productions
  • Harmonious Claptrap
  • Starburns Industries (seasons 1–2)
  • Williams Street
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Release
Original network Adult Swim
Picture format 1080i (16:9 HDTV)
Original release December 2, 2013 – present
External links
Website www.adultswim.com/videos/rick-and-morty/

Premise

Characters

Rick and Morty characters.jpg
The members of the Smith household. From the left: Jerry Smith, Beth Smith, Summer Smith, Morty Smith and Rick Sanchez.

The show revolves around the adventures of the members of the Smith household, which consists of parents Jerry and Beth, their kids Summer and Morty, and Beth's father, Rick Sanchez, who lives with them as a guest.

Rick is an eccentric and alcoholic mad scientist, who eschews many ordinary conventions such as school, marriage, love and family. He frequently goes on adventures with his 14-year-old grandson, Morty, a kind but easily distressed boy, whose naive but grounded moral compass plays counterpoint to Rick's Machiavellian ego. Morty's 17-year-old sister, Summer, is a more conventional teenager, who worries about improving her status among her peers and sometimes follows Rick and Morty on their adventures. The kids' mother, Beth, is a generally level-headed person and assertive force in the household, though self-conscious about her professional role as a horse doctor. She is dissatisfied with her marriage with Jerry, a simple-minded and insecure person, who disapproves of Rick's influence over his family.

Different versions of the characters inhabit other dimensions throughout the multiverse and their personal characteristics can vary from one reality to another. The show's original Rick identifies himself as "Rick Sanchez of Earth Dimension C-137", in reference to his original universe, but this doesn't necessarily apply to every other member of the Smith household. For instance, in the first-season episode "Rick Potion #9", after turning the entire world population into monsters, Rick and Morty move to a different dimension, leaving Summer, Beth and Jerry behind.

Setting

According to Justin Roiland, the family lives outside of Seattle in the U.S. state of Washington.[1] The adventures of Rick and Morty, however, take place across an infinite number of realities, with the characters travelling to other planets and dimensions through portals and Rick's flying car.

Series overview

Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 11 December 2, 2013 April 14, 2014
2 10 July 26, 2015 October 4, 2015
3 10 April 1, 2017 October 1, 2017

Production

Development

Rick and Morty was created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon. The duo first met at Channel 101, a non-profit monthly short film festival in Los Angeles co-founded by Harmon.[2] At Channel 101, participants submit a short film in the format of a pilot, and a live audience decides which pilots continue as a series. Roiland, then a producer on reality programming, began submitting content to the festival a year after its launch, in 2004. His pilots typically consisted of shock value—"sick and twisted" elements that received a confused reaction from the audience.[2] Nevertheless, Harmon took a liking to his humor and the two began collaborating. In 2006, Roiland was fired from working on a television series he regarded as intensely creatively stifling, and funneled his creative energies into creating a webisode for Channel 101. The result was The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti, an animated short starring Doc Brown and Marty McFly, characters from the Back to the Future film trilogy.[3] In the short, which Harmon would dub "a bastardization, a pornographic vandalization", Doc Smith urges Mharti that the solution to all of his problems is to give him oral sex.[4] The audience reacted to it wildly, and Roiland began creating more shorts involving the characters, which soon evolved beyond his original intentions and their obvious origin within the film from which it was culled.[4][5] Harmon would later create and produce Community, an NBC sitcom, while Roiland would work primarily in voice acting for Disney's Fish Hooks and Cartoon Network's Adventure Time.

In 2012, Harmon was briefly fired from Community. Adult Swim, searching for a more prime-time, "hit" show,[6] approached Harmon shortly afterward, who initially viewed the channel as unfit for his style. He also was unfamiliar with animation, and his process for creating television focuses more heavily on dialogue, characters, and story.[5] Instead, he phoned Roiland to inquire if he had any ideas for an animated series. Roiland immediately brought up the idea of using the Doc and Mharti characters, renamed Rick and Morty.[4] Roiland initially wanted the show's run time to consist of one eleven-minute segment, but Adult Swim pushed for a half-hour program.[6] Harmon felt the best way to extend the voices into a program would be to build a family around the characters, while Adult Swim development executive Nick Weidenfeld suggested that Rick be Morty's grandfather. Having pitched multiple television programs that did not get off the ground, Roiland was initially very unreceptive to others attempting to give notes on his pitch.[4] Prior to developing Rick and Morty, he had created three failed animated pilots for Fox, and he had begun to feel "burned out" with developing television.[5]

The first draft was completed in six hours on the Paramount Pictures lot in Dan Harmon's unfurnished Community office.[7] The duo had broken the story that day, sold the pilot, and then sat down to write.[5][8] Roiland, while acknowledging a tendency for procrastination, encouraged Harmon to stay and write the entire first draft.[7] "We were sitting on the floor, cross-legged with laptops and I was about to get up and go home and he said, 'Wait, if you go home, it might take us three months to write this thing. Stay here right now and we can write it in six hours.' He just had a premonition about that," recalled Harmon.[5] Adult Swim was initially unsure of Roiland doing both voices, partially due to the undeveloped nature of the character of Morty. Harmon wrote four short premises in which Morty took a more assertive role and sent it to Mike Lazzo.[7] Adult Swim placed a tamer TV-14 rating on the program, which initially was met with reluctance from the show's staff. The network's reason behind the rating was that it would soon begin broadcasting in prime-time, competing with major programs.[5]

The main theme for Rick and Morty by Ryan Elder was originally used in a rejected Cartoon Network pilot Roiland made called "Dog World", which was referenced in the episode "Lawnmower Dog".[9]

Writing

The general formula of Rick and Morty consists of the juxtaposition of two conflicting scenarios: an extremely selfish, alcoholic grandfather dragging his grandson across space for intergalactic and/or interdimensional adventures, intercut with domestic family drama.[4][6] This has led Harmon to describe the series as a cross between Matt Groening's two shows The Simpsons and Futurama, balancing family life with heavy science fiction.[10] The series is inspired by British-style storytelling, as opposed to traditional American family TV stories.[2] Roiland has stated his and Harmon's intentions for the series to lack traditional continuity, opting for discontinuous storylines "not bound by rules".[11] In producing the series' first season, episodes were occasionally written out of order. For example, "Rick Potion #9" was the second episode written for the series, but was instructed to be animated as the fifth, as it would make more sense within the series' continuity.[2]

Many episodes are structured with use of a story circle, a Harmon creation based largely on Joseph Campbell's monomyth, or The Hero's Journey. Its two-act structure places the act break at an odd location in the stages of the monomyth: after The Meeting with the Goddess, instead of Atonement with the Father.[7] Harmon has stated that his inspiration behind much of the concept and humor for the series comes from various British television series, such as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Doctor Who. He figures that the audience will only understand developments from Morty's point of view, but stated "we don't want to be the companions. We want to hang out with the Doctor, we idolize the Doctor, but we don't think like him, and that's really interesting, Rick is diseased, he's mentally ill, he's an absolute lunatic because he lives on this larger scale."[12]

Harmon has noted that the writers room at the show's studio bears a striking resemblance to the one used for Community.[5] In comparing the two, he noted that the writing staff of Rick and Morty was significantly smaller, and more "rough and tumble verbally".[5] The first season writing staff consisted of Roiland, Harmon, Tom Kauffman, Ryan Ridley, Wade Randolph, and Eric Acosta, while writer's assistant Mike McMahan was also given writing credit. Described as a "very, very tiny little writers' room with a lot of heavy lifting from everybody," the show's writing staff, like many Adult Swim productions, is not unionized with the Writers' Guild of America.[10] The writing staff first meets and discusses ideas, which evolve into a story.[2] Discussions often include anecdotes from personal life as well as thoughts on the science fiction genre.[5] After breaking the story—which consists of developing its consistency and logical beginning, middle, and conclusion—a writer is assigned to create an outline. Roiland and Harmon do a "pass" on the outline, and from there the episode undergoes several more drafts. The final draft of the script is last approved by either of the co-creators.[2] Harmon has admitted that his perfectionism can some times be disruptive and cause writing schedule delays. For the most part, this was the reason why the third season of the show consisted of only ten episodes instead of fourteen, as was initially intended.[13][14]

Animation and voice recording

Animation for the show is done using Toon Boom Harmony, post-production work is done in Adobe After Effects, and background art is done in Adobe Photoshop.[15] Production of animation is handled by Bardel Entertainment in Canada.[16] Roiland's cartooning style is heavily indebted to The Simpsons, a factor he acknowledged in a 2013 interview, while also comparing his style to that of Pendleton Ward (Adventure Time) and J.G. Quintel (Regular Show): "You'll notice mouths are kind of similar and teeth are similar, but I think that's also a stylistic thing that... all of us are kind of the same age, and we're all inspired by The Simpsons and all these other shows we're kind of subconsciously tapping into."[10] John Kricfalusi's The Ren & Stimpy Show was another strong influence for Rick and Morty, which is why, according to Roiland, the small "w-shaped mouths" that the characters occasionally make is a reference to a similar expression that Ren frequently makes.[17] When recording dialogue, Roiland does a considerable amount of improvisation, in order to make the characters feel more natural.[18]

Future

Althought there hasn't been an official renewal announcement by Adult Swim,[19] Dan Harmon talked about the possibility of creating more than ten episodes per season, in a September 2017 interview, where he stated "I’m about to do season 4 of Rick and Morty and want to prove that I’ve grown."[20] On October 1, 2017, similarly to the second-season finale, the animated character Mr. Poopybutthole re-appeared in the post-credits scene of the third-season finale and said that it will be a long wait until the fourth season of the show.[21]

Philosophy

There has been discussion among viewers about the philosophy of Rick and Morty.[22] The show most frequently adopts an existentialist perspective,[23] while Harmon has described Rick as an anarchist, who doesn't like being told what to do.[24] Other philosophies that have been referenced in the characters behavior and observations include: absurdism, nihilism and the work of Friedrich Nietzsche.[25][26] The series addresses the insignificance of human existence as compared to the size of the universe, with no recognizable divine presence, as described by Lovecraft's philosophy of cosmicism. The characters of the show find ways to deal with cosmic horror and existential dread, either by asserting the utility of science over magic or choosing life in ignorant bliss.[27][28]

Release

The series was first announced during Adult Swim's 2012 Upfront presentation.[29] Adult Swim ordered 10 half-hour episodes (not including the pilot) to comprise the first season.[30][31] Matt Roller, a writer for the series, confirmed via Twitter that the network renewed Rick and Morty for a second season, which premiered on July 26, 2015. In August 2015, Adult Swim renewed the series for a third season, which consists of 10 episodes.[32] It premiered unannounced on April 1, 2017, with the rest of the season beginning on July 30, 2017.[33]

Online distribution

Adult Swim has made all of the episodes available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, YouTube, and Vudu, as well as a 37-minute interview between creators Harmon and Roiland at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International, and a panel at the 2015 ATX Television Festival.[34] Episodes have also been made available to stream on the series' official website with a cable provider login.[35] The episode "Rixty Minutes" was released early by the network via 109 15-second videos on Instagram.[36] Some of the episodes are available for free streaming on Adult Swim's website; for the rest a U.S. cable subscription is required.[37] Season one was made available for on-demand viewing on Hulu in June 2015. Season two is also available as of June 2016.[38] Seasons 1-3 are available on Netflix in some countries.[fn 1]

Home media

The complete first season was released on DVD (Region 1) and Blu-ray on October 7, 2014.[39] Before its release, Roiland had confirmed that it would contain uncensored audio tracks.[40] The complete second season was released on DVD (Region 1) and Blu-ray on June 7, 2016.[41]

Reception

Critical reception

Season Critical response
Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
1 100% (5 reviews)[42] 85 (8 reviews)[43]
2 95% (8 reviews)[44] N/A
3 98% (12 reviews)[45] N/A

Rick and Morty has received universal critical acclaim, holding a 97% approval rating by critics on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.[46] Additionally, the first season of Rick and Morty holds a Metacritic score of 85 based on eight reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[43] David Weigand of San Francisco Chronicle described it as "offbeat and occasionally coarse... the take-away here is that it works". He praised the animation direction by James McDermott for being "fresh, colorful and as wacky as the script", and states that the series possesses "shades of Futurama, South Park and even Beetlejuice", ultimately opining that its humor felt "entirely original".[47] Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times praised the series and stated that it was "Grandparenting at its unhinged finest."[48] Todd Spangler of Variety gave the series a lukewarm review; while he found the series was passable, he contrasted it with other Adult Swim series as "often seems overly reliant on simply being frenetic at the expense of being witty" and enjoyed it as "a welcome attempt to dream just a little bigger".[49] David Sims of The A.V. Club gave the series an "A−". In reviewing the first two episodes, he complimented the animation for its "clean, simple style". He stated that while the series has "a dark, sick sensibility", he praised its "effort to give each character a little bit of depth", further applauding Roiland's voice talent for the eponymous characters.[50]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2015 Annie Award Best General Audience Animated TV/Broadcast Production Rick and Morty Nominated [51]
2017 Teen Choice Awards Choice Animated TV Show Rick and Morty Nominated [52]

Impact on popular culture

  • On May 17, 2015, the finale of the twenty-sixth season of the animated sitcom, The Simpsons, opened with an elaborate couch gag featuring Rick and Morty, written by Harmon and Roiland.[53] Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, described it as "probably the most ambitious and lengthy couch gag" on The Simpsons to date.[54]
  • On November 30, 2015, the fast food restaurant chain Carl's Jr. and Hardee's released a television commercial, in which Rick brings several sentient burgers into a sleeping Morty's room. The burgers run amok and steal objects.[55]
  • On May 13, 2017, in a promotional short film for the 2017 film Alien: Covenant, Rick and Morty land on an Engineer's ship in the Alien dimension in response to a distress signal, wherein a facehugger attaches itself to Rick's face and dies from the toxicity of the drugs and alcohol in Rick's body.[56][57]
  • On October 7, 2017, McDonald's served Szechuan sauce, months after it was referenced several times in the Season 3 premiere, "The Rickshank Redemption".[58]

Other media and products

Comics

  • At New York Comic Con 2014, editor-in-chief of Oni Press, James Lucas Jones, announced that a Rick and Morty comic book adaptation would be released in early 2015.[59] On April 1, 2015, the series debuted with its first monthly issue, entitled "BAM!"[60] The series is written by Zac Gorman and illustrated by CJ Cannon.[61] Artist Tom Fowler wrote a multi-issue story arc that began in March, 2016.[62] Using the television series' established premise of alternate timelines, the comic book expressly features the Rick and Morty (and supporting cast) of a different timeline, allowing the comics to tell stories without conflicting with the canon of the show.

Video games

  • In 2014, Rick and Morty's Rushed Licensed Adventure, a Flash point-and-click adventure game, was released on the Adult Swim website.[63]
  • In December 2014, Rick and Morty: Jerry's Game was released for iOS and Android. The game consists of the player popping balloons and air filled condoms endlessly. Characters show up from time to time. The amount of balloons popped is counted and used as currency for unlocking special balloons, backdrops, and features. The game is based on a game Jerry was seen playing in an episode. The game includes micro-transactions.[64]
  • On August 10, 2015, a Rick and Morty-themed announcer pack was released for the competitive multiplayer video game Dota 2.[65] The announcer pack can be purchased by players and replaces the Default announcer and Mega-Kills announcer with characters from Rick and Morty, voiced by Justin Roiland.
  • Pocket Mortys is a Pokémon parody game set in the "Rick and Morty Rickstaverse",[66] released on iOS and Android as a free-to-play game from Adult Swim Games, released early[67] on January 13, 2016. Coinciding with the many-worlds interpretation, the game follows versions of Rick and Morty that belong to an alternate timeline, rather than the duo followed in the show. The game uses a style and concept similar to the Pokémon games, with catching various "wild" Mortys, battling them with a variety of Aliens, Ricks, and Jerrys. The game features voice acting from Roiland and Harmon.
  • Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality, announced on July 15, 2016 and released on April 20, 2017, is a VR game for HTC Vive VR and Oculus Rift developed by Owlchemy Labs, the developers of Job Simulator.[68][69]

Tabletop games

Other

  • On May 11, 2017, the Rickmobile, a traveling shop with exclusive merchandise, made its first stop in Atlanta for the Rick and Morty Don't Even Trip Road Trip.[72][73]

References

Informational notes

  1. ^ Including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Honduras, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Kenya, Norway, the Netherlands, and the UK.[1]

Citations

  1. ^ Justin Roiland [@JustinRoiland] (September 4, 2016). "Washington state- outside of Seattle" (Tweet). Retrieved September 30, 2017 – via Twitter.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Cohen, Ivan (January 24, 2014). "Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland on Rick and Morty, How Community Is Like Star Trek, and Puberty". Vulture. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  3. ^ Czajkowski, Elise (November 12, 2013). "Dan Harmon's Rick and Morty Premieres on Adult Swim on Dec. 2". Splitsider. The Awl. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e Sepinwall, Alan (March 24, 2014). "Mega Dan Harmon interview, part 3: 'Rick and Morty'". HitFix. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Villarreal, Yvonne (March 5, 2014). "Dan Harmon, Justin Roiland talk bringing absurd to 'Rick and Morty'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c Topel, Fred (December 2, 2013). "Exclusive Interview: Dan Harmon & Justin Roiland on 'Rick and Morty'". CraveOnline. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d Harmon, Dan (2014). Commentary for the episode "Pilot". Rick and Morty season 1 (Blu-ray Disc). Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
  8. ^ Roiland, Justin (2014). Commentary for the episode "Pilot". Rick and Morty season 1 (Blu-ray Disc). Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
  9. ^ Ryan Elder (August 1, 2017). How One Guy Scored "Rick and Morty", TV’s Weirdest Cartoon (YouTube). Great Big Story. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  10. ^ a b c Evans, Bradford (December 2, 2013). "Talking to Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland About Their New Adult Swim Show, 'Rick and Morty'". Splitsider. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  11. ^ Abarca, Justin (November 22, 2013). "8 Fun Facts About Dan Harmon's New Animated Show "Rick And Morty"". BuzzFeed. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
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  29. ^ Rose, Lacey (May 15, 2012). "Upfronts 2012: Adult Swim Orders Eight Pilots, Including a Project From Community's Dan Harmon". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
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