Rick and Morty creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland recently inked a deal with Adult Swim, greenlighting 70 new episodes of their hit animated sitcom – that’s more than double the number of episodes that currently exist, and it’ll bring the total number of episodes up to 101. Fans everywhere are rejoicing after months of serious doubt surrounding the show’s fourth season. Following a lengthy break between seasons two and three, fans were nervous that Harmon would take another two years to do season four, which he still might – or just not do them at all. The good news is, we’ll be watching new episodes of Rick and Morty for at least the next decade. The bad news is pretty simple: a decade is a long time, and a lot can happen.
Dan Harmon’s professional issues are well-documented. He’s one of the most openly self-destructive people in Hollywood, and he was even kicked off of his own show for a full season following trouble with the network. Turmoil in his personal life arguably contributed to one of the most closely-watched hiatuses a show has ever been on. And while it’s great to hear that Adult Swim has enough faith in Rick and Morty to sustain it through another 70 episodes, it’s not exactly unfathomable to think that Harmon might one day decide to jump ship before then. Like Bryan Fuller – another unmanageable genius who’s able to put people through all the bullshit he does because of a seemingly unending well of talent – Harmon is a victim of his own whims, and can we really expect him to make it through another five, six, or even seven seasons of Rick and Morty without some other project coming along and stealing his attention?
Of course, any Rick and Morty is most likely going to be good Rick and Morty, and season three’s best moments reminded us how rewarding it can be to wait, but I wonder how (or why) Adult Swim was able to justify this decision considering Harmon’s relationship with deadlines. There’s a part of me that wonders if Adult Swim did this to stop rabid Rick and Morty fans from harassing them for a renewal as soon as the finale ends. An even bigger part of me wonders – if Adult Swim intends on getting those 70 episodes made by any means necessary – whether Harmon will be involved with all of them.
There’s also the issue of syndication, which I consider to be the driving force behind this decision. More than anything else, Rick and Morty has proven to be a massive cash cow for Adult Swim, bringing in millions of new viewers and selling enough merchandise and Blu-Rays and DVDs to fund whatever project they want. Keeping Rick and Morty on the air is becoming integral to Adult Swim’s entire business model, and that’s great when Dan Harmon is on board, but something tells me Adult Swim will be hesitant to retire the show if Harmon does. And we’ve seen what happens when Harmon isn’t allowed to write his own shows. The last thing we need is for Rick and Morty to have a gas leak season.
I’m not trying to sound pessimistic here. At the end of the day, I’m thrilled that Adult Swim has decided to go all in on one of their best shows, giving Harmon and Roiland the freedom to plan ahead, develop the characters the way they want to, and in the amount of time they deem necessary. Syndication is the ultimate endgame here, but Rick and Morty isn’t good by accident. It’s meticulously crafted, and giving Harmon the greenlight to produce 70 more episodes seems counterintuitive to the show’s entire mission statement: quality over quantity. At this point, all we can do is have faith in the powers that be, but I’m hopeful that Rick and Morty‘s best days are ahead of it, and apparently so is Adult Swim.
Images: [adult swim]