The Weird Tale of Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty and the whole gang dance the night away.It looks like the third season of Rick and Morty is delayed. Again.

The given reasons for the delay range from production problems, to writer’s block, to outright censorship.

That last one is a little iffy, given that the show is the darling of Adult Swim. Creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland are always quick to sing the praises of the network and the wide latitude executives give them to make the show they want.

Harmon and Roiland also really enjoy messing with the fans, and have been known to spread misinformation just for the fun of it.

Regardless of the reasons, we won’t see a resolution to that cliffhanger until March 2017 at the earliest.

While we wait, how about some sweet Rick and Morty trivia about how the show came to be? It’s a strange show, and its origin is a strange story.

The Secret Origin of Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty season 3 had a heck of a cliffhanger.

Rick and Morty clearly has its roots in parody, but exactly what is it parodying? Rick Sanchez, with his seemingly infinite knowledge of the galaxy, shares a lot in common with the Doctor of Doctor Who. The similarity is supported by another thing Rick has in infinite supply: disdain and condescension for practically everyone else in the universe.

Towards the end of season 1 and throughout season 2, the show began to more resemble a politics-heavy space epic like The Expanse or Mass Effect. The video game series is referenced directly in the Council of Ricks, whose Citadel of Ricks is a clear homage to Mass Effect’s massive space station.

The characters have been kicking around in Justin Roiland’s head for over 10 years. He’s a long-time participant at the Channel 101 comedy film festival, which takes place monthly in Los Angeles. The festival was launched in 2002 by Dan Harmon as a non-profit organization.

Films in Channel 101 are only five minutes long. They’re generally formatted as a pilot or pitch for a new show. Roiland entered multiple times over the years, and many of his shorts included characters that looked and particularly sounded a lot like Rick and Morty.

The names, situations, and exact nature of the characters varied quite a bit. Often, they had nothing to do with what ended up airing on Adult Swim. The lineage is very clear, though.

Call them alternate universe Ricks and Mortys (Morties?). That fits right into the show, naturally.

Doc and Mharti

A scene from Doc and Mharti, the original inspiration of Rick and Morty

The closest ancestor to Rick and Morty is Doc and Mharti, which Roiland entered into Channel 101 in 2006. Roiland was upset with Universal for interfering with the production of House of Cosbys, a short-lived animated series he produced on Adult Swim the previous year.

Cosbys, which focused on a house full of clones of none other than Bill Cosby, came under fire from Universal (which owns The Cosby Show) for obvious reasons. This was before Cosby himself was disgraced and charged, and Universal wasn’t happy with Roiland making fun of the man.

Roiland’s answer was to double down. Doc and Mharti chronicles a brief adventure of an old time-traveling scientist and his young friend in a red puffy jacket. There is a lot of profanity, and the conclusion is downright obscene.

Check it out here, but don’t bring your kids.

Remnants of Past Influences

Those weird Rick and Morty swimmy eyes have a surprising lineage.

Did you watch it? When Harmon and Roiland sold Rick and Morty to Adult Swim, they decided to keep pretty much everything from Doc and Mharti completely out of it. Not surprising, since Adult Swim is a real TV channel with real FCC restrictions.

A few design elements have held over, though. Rick’s hair, for one, recalls many of Roiland’s Channel 101 shorts. The voices are identical as well, including Rick’s signature burping.

Amusingly, Adult Swim tried to recast Morty when they first picked up the show. Billy West (Futurama) and Tara Strong (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) were the frontrunners for the role, but Roiland prevailed. Burps and all.

It’s funny that Sarah Chalke (Beth) is the only voice actor on the show who can easily burp at will. Roiland, despite making those gross noises constantly, has a good deal of trouble with it.

The strange, swimmy, “fuzzball” eyes of the characters are the most obvious element that carried over from the original short. Roiland has stated he did that intentionally, as a design homage to his prior work.

Overt References and the Rickstaverse

The Rickstaverse is as bizarre and hilarious as it sounds.

There is one place where Harmon and Roiland feel totally free to go nuts. You can see them go completely nuts with references. The pair dive as deep as they want into the incredibly weird multiverse they’ve created.

That place is the Rickstaverse, billed as an Instagram game. In reality, it’s a series of linked accounts and photos. By clicking different pieces of pictures, the viewer can explore spaceships, planets, Interdimensional Cable channels, and just about everything else that’s ever appeared on the show.

The Rickstaverse started huge, and they recently expanded it. People are still working to discover all the secrets within, so if you’re a fan, now’s the time to dive in.

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