Rick and Morty co-creator, Justin Roiland, has been swept up in controversy after formal charges went public revealing allegations of domestic battery alongside a plethora of others. Adult Swim, the network block which Rick and Morty calls home, dismissed Roiland after this and confirmed that the show will go on without interruption. How is this possible? As it turns out, Roiland has had little input in the show other than providing the voices of the titular characters.
A damning expose from The Hollywood Reporter revealed that production might actually improve after Roiland’s departure. As THR writes, “Multiple sources say that Justin Roiland, other than voice work, has not had any meaningful creative presence on any of the series that bears his name.
“Many of his former colleagues say they haven’t heard from him in years, and when they have, it’s been unpleasant. They note, too, that he hasn’t been on speaking terms with his Rick and Morty co-creator, Dan Harmon, for multiple seasons, and a substantial number of staffers on that show as well as Solar Opposites and Koala Man have never actually met Roiland, even over Zoom.”
When Harmon brought on additional writers for the show’s second season, they didn’t treat Roiland with “the same kind of reverence” as the previous team did. This led to their partnership becoming increasingly bitter with a mediator being brought on to “salvage” the relationship.
“The room became clubbier, and not near as much fun – there were now ‘Dan’s Guys,’ a more cerebral, structured set,” continued THR, “and ‘Justin’s Guys,’ a zany collection of artists… Dan is all on the page and mathematical about story breaking, and these guys that Justin hired were like, ‘Look, I drew a turd with eyes, let’s do a story about that.’
“During season two, Roiland began pulling away, increasingly uninterested in being in a room that had given him great joy only a season earlier. In fact, at one point, he was sitting so far away from the other writers that in order for him to read what was being written on the whiteboard, he had to grab the pair of binoculars that was in the room to scope out wildfire in the mountains overlooking Burbank.”
It got worse during the third season where multiple sources said that “Roiland simply stopped showing up” and if he did, he would avoid the writer’s room. During those earlier days he was incredibly disruptive and distracted, often going to Toys R Us and then playing with his new purchases for the rest of the day.
“Other show sources say he’d derail pitches and interrupt with sophomoric non-sequiturs like, ‘What if his brains were on the outside?’’ wrote THR. “It reached a point where multiple sources say it was easier when Roiland wasn’t in the room.”
With that knowledge, fans shouldn’t be worried about the show’s future quality, if anything it may improve. What is to be done about the character’s voices then? The simplest solution may be to find good imitators, of which there are many. Another solution may be to play into it within the show itself which has no problem being metatextual, perhaps the characters themselves joke about how they sound different? Regardless, the show will be fine. The same cannot be said of Roiland whose animation empire has crumbled around him.