Warner Bros. has finally made a good call. Last night (January 24), it was announced that Adult Swim would be cutting ties with Justin Roiland following the news that the Rick and Morty co-creator was charged with domestic abuse and that Rick and Morty will be continuing without him. And you know what? Good riddance. Rick and Morty may have been Roiland’s breakout show, but it hasn’t needed him in years.
Not much is known about the charges against Roiland, but from what we do know, they’re bad. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Roiland was charged with “one count of domestic battery with corporal injury and one count of false imprisonment by menace, violence, fraud or deceit” by a Jane Doe, who was dating Roiland at the time. This is exactly the sort of horrifying crime that (rightfully) destroys normal people’s lives. It’s also the exact sort of crime we’ve seen big names in Hollywood get away with time and time again. Roman Polanski, anyone? Bill Cosby? Mel Gibson? Charlie Sheen? Yeah, it’s a depressing trend.
I fully expected Adult Swim and Warner Bros. Discovery to dodge these charges until they absolutely had to deal with them. And even when that bubble popped, I thought they’d shuffle Roiland to the side and cross their fingers that everyone forgot about him by the time Rick & Morty Season 7 premiered. But today I stand pleasantly surprised. The bare minimum was to fully and firmly cut all ties with Justin Roiland, and that’s exactly what Rick and Morty, Adult Swim, and Warner Bros. Discovery has done. Great work, team.
On the logistics side of things, Rick and Morty will continue to complete it’s 70-episode renewal, which guarantees episodes through Season 10. The voices of Rick and Morty will be recast, and Dan Harmon will serve as Rick and Morty’s sole creator. To be clear, that’s a thorny issue in its own right. Harmon found himself in hot water around the time of #MeToo when he admitted to acting inappropriately toward former Community writer and current Mythic Quest co-creator Megan Ganz. But once Ganz accepted Harmon’s apology, that served as a green light for most of Hollywood that Harmon was still okay to work with, and Rick and Morty was able to move on. But even if that wasn’t the case, I don’t think it matters much.
By now Rick and Morty has grown beyond Roiland or even Harmon. It doesn’t seem to need either of them, and it seems unfair to cost so many talented artists their jobs because of the actions of one garbage man. Roiland won’t voice Rick or Morty anymore? Fine. There are roughly 30,000 dudes on TikTok who are practicing their burping scientist impressions right this second. Roiland won’t write or executive produce? Whatever. Season 6 was one of the strongest installments yet, and that was led by Scott Marder. In fact, Rick and Morty has turned into a prep school of sorts for the industry’s most innovative sci-fi and comedy writers. Mike McMahan, Jessica Gao, Michael Waldron, and several other writers responsible for your favorite shows and movies all spent time on the Adult Swim staple. Hell, Rick and Morty currently employs Heather Anne Campbell. Have you listened to Get Played? She’s single-handedly one of the funniest and smartest comedy writers on the market, someone who is effortlessly able to blend random humor with looming existential crises. Just give her the reins and call it a day.
Also, it’s not like Roiland or even Harmon have been especially hands on when it comes to recent seasons of the show. Roiland has divided his time between Adult Swim and his Hulu shows, Solar Opposites and the recently released Koala Man, which he produced. He also has his video game company, Squanch Games. As for Harmon, he’s been transparent about learning to step back the longer he’s been in this business. Even if you’re the biggest Roiland apologist in the world? First of all, gross. But secondly, it doesn’t really matter that he’s no longer affiliated with this show because Rick and Morty has grown beyond him.
Look, I like Roiland’s work. Rick and Morty is far and away one of my all-time favorite shows. And I love Solar Opposites. I also paid for and enjoyed Trover Saves the Universe, a fact that now haunts me. But there is absolutely no excuse for domestic abuse. If there is a course of action that allows this incredibly talented team to continue without giving Roiland a dime, I’m all about it.
There was never going to be a universe where Warner Bros. Discovery canceled Rick and Morty. The series is simply too profitable, the merchandising deals too lucrative. And if we’re being honest, Warner Bros. Discovery desperately needs something — anything — to work right now, especially something animated. But Rick and Morty has also grown far beyond its premiere in 2013. Much like The Simpsons, it’s not just a show; it’s an animated institution. Considering the low bar we have from Hollywood, this is pretty much the best case scenario. Now, if we can just get Roiland’s replacement to rerecord all his lines, that would be aces.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, help is available. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 800-799-7233, or text START to 88788.
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