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“Rick & Morty” Without Rick or Morty

Photo courtesy of Newsweek

Justin Roiland, known widely for his involvement and voice acting on the hit show “Rick & Morty,” faces felony domestic violence charges from an ex-girlfriend. 

Roiland maintains his innocence, but a protective order was filed in 2020 and lasts until October 2023. The case is reported to have a multitude of details including body camera footage, medical records, and recordings of interviews. He was offered a plea deal during recent court proceedings, but the details of which have yet to be revealed. 

Roiland’s involvement, in this case, brings into question the future of “Rick & Morty” which was just greenlit for a seventh season. Season six was greatly anticipated and speculated by fans to be the start of the true story of the show. The billion-dollar media and merchandising franchise is one of the most popular adult animation series in production.

Due to the domestic violence charges that Roiland is facing, Adult Swim ended their involvement with him and said that his roles in all his shows will be recast. The only thing for certain is that the show will continue for at least its 10th season. 

The termination was confirmed by the network in a released statement on January 24. Both the titular characters were voiced by Roiland, leaving many concerned fans confused about the show’s next steps. 

In addition to the conclusion of his work with Adult Swim, Roiland was also stripped of his lucrative deal with Disney’s Animation. Since the news of his termination, many of his Rick & Morty colleagues have come forward with past workplace behavior that has made them uncomfortable including discussion of sex and porn. 

“Rick & Morty ” staff have also stated that, outside of voice work, Roiland has had no meaningful creative input on the show. It has been reported that Roiland and Harmon have not been in communication for several seasons. Staff on his newer shows have also said to have never even met him.  

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the growing number of abusers involved in the making of the media has been troubling. Too often there is no real effort to exclude them from the process or even properly punish them. Comedian and actor, Louis C.K. admitted to sexual misconduct in 2017 but recently performed at two sold-out venues in December of 2022. In addition to him, R&B singer R. Kelly continued his abuse of women, including minors, for years without punishment or even acknowledgment from the music industry. 

This issue becomes even more serious when one considers the rhetoric of beloved shows such as “Rick & Morty.” 

In 2017 the other co-creator Dan Harmon condemned the online abuse that the show’s female writers were receiving from fans at the time as “disgusting”. Despite this, many fans recently took to Twitter to say that Harmon shouldn’t be left solely in charge of the show. They said this is because he’s a bad person too, citing his past sexual abuse allegations as the reason. 

When asked about Adult Swim’s discontinuation of their involvement with Roiland, Howard students who are fans of the show had much to say. Shiloh Emanuel, a junior psychology major, says that he has mixed feelings about Adult Swim’s decision. “He is a big part of the show but at the same time it makes sense…it really seems like the dude is doing too much for the show to stay affiliated with him.”

Another student agrees with Adult Swim’s choice despite him being such an integral part of the show. Brandii Bledell, shares that she believes Roiland should be removed from the show because “…he should be in jail for the weird sh*t he was doing.”

One student said that even with all the changes to the show they still plan on watching. Mook Jacquaye, a civil engineering major says “I’d see it out unless they literally start using stick figures.” Regardless of their feelings, all students expressed concern about the show’s next steps. 

In response to the news of Justin Roiland’s termination, many fans took to Twitter to suggest just canceling the show. But does canceling the show inadvertently admit that quality media can’t be made without abusers involved? Or will Adult Swim use this as an opportunity to lift up more female show writers?

Adult Swim will have some tough decisions to make in the upcoming months and many people are watching them to see what they do. 

Autumn Coleman

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