The wacky sci-fi animated parody show Rick and Morty recently finished its critically-acclaimed second season run on Adult Swim, and fans are already anxiously looking forward to solid news regarding the third season. Depending on who you believe we could be waiting as long as "a year and half (or more)" or it could come round as early as next year.
It's fairly obvious from the outset that Rick and Morty was a show conceived as a parody of Back to the Future and wider sci-fi conventions, but did you know that the concept was originally conceived by voice-actor Justin Roiland as a means by which to troll Universal Studios?
The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti
Rick and Morty has it's origins in a 5-minute animated short created by Roiland. Recently unemployed and disillusioned due to a prior work commitment which his co-creator Dan Harmon describes as "creatively stifling", Roiland was experiencing a period of intensely destructive creativity which manifested itself in the form of The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti, webisodes created for Channel 101. (The short is super NSFW so I haven't posted it here, but the link is in the title if you haven't seen it before. Be warned - it's not Rick and Morty as we know them).
The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti began as a means by which Roiland could "poke fun at the idea of getting cease and desist letters", and breaching copyright claims. The original title of the video is testament to this, as it was to be Back to the Future: the New Official Universal Studios Cartoon featuring the New Doc Brown and Marty McFly.
It wasn't that Roiland didn't like Back to the Future though, quite the contrary. As Harmon describes:
Harmon: "It’s just a bastardisation, a pornographic vandalisation of something [Justin Roiland] held dear. As I think Ed Norton says in Fight Club, 'I wanted to destroy something pretty'."
But during the process of making the short Roiland fell in love with the characters, and decided not to bait the Universal Studios bear quite as much, changing the spellings of their names and the title just enough to avoid being sued.
Three years ago, a year before Rick and Morty had come into being, Roiland was still fond of the characters he created:
Roiland: "It's still ultimately a back to the future joke/ (parody?), but to me all these years later, these two characters have become something of their own."
So How Did It Become Rick & Morty?
Following his departure from NBC's Community Dan Harmon was approached by Adult Swim who were interested in working with him, and Harmon in turn got in touch with Roiland who he had worked with previously and greatly admired:
Harmon: "I called Justin immediately. He loves animation. He’s passionate. He’s hardworking. We love working together and I said, "What do you have? Anything? Whatever you have that you would love to do a show, I will help you go sell it at Adult Swim and we’ll do it." And he immediately brought up this ridiculous unmarketable thing which is a terrible vandalisation of Doc and Marty. And I said, "That’s perfect. It’s perfect.""
Fearing that the show as it stood would be "unmarketable", animator Nick Weidenfeld who worked at Adult Swim at the time suggested making the characters related, with Doc/Rick being Marty/Morty's grandfather. From this seed Harmon visulated the dysfunctional family unit around them. This allowed for two narratives to play out side-by-side; the fantastical space adventures of the titular characters contrasting with the Earthbound domestic troubles inherent in the Smith household and Jerry and Beth's marriage.
And that's it. That's how the basis that the show revolves upon was born. As Harmon describes it "and round and round we go. And so we have this beautiful suspension that could provide us with hundreds of episodes."
Hundreds of episodes you say? Yes please. In the meantime we'll just sit nice and wait for Rick and Morty Season 3. Someone fetch the hip-flask.
All 21 episodes of Rick and Morty are now available to stream online via Adult Swim, wubba-lubba-dub-dub!