We finally know something close to the full story regarding why it took so damn long for Rick and Morty Season 4 to get ordered by Adult Swim, and the answer was secretly hidden within the very first episode ever. Much like the belligerent Rick Sanchez, the show’s creators want “Rick and Morty forever.”
In a lengthy profile on Dan Harmon published by GQ on Tuesday, we got further clarification as to exactly what took so long for more Rick and Morty to get renewed. Adult Swim officially ordered 70 more episodes as of May 10, which is more than seven months after the Season 3 finale aired. We knew that the show’s co-creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon were stuck in “unprecedented” negotiations that whole time, and that’s because they quite literally wanted to keep making the show forever.
“Rick and Morty is the highest creative opportunity you could ever be afforded as a writer,” Harmon told GQ. “It’s an infinite sandbox. It’s the perfect show. It’s the most important thing I’ve ever done. I only want it forever.”
Most of the new interview took place in mid-March, before Season 4 was officially ordered with that 70-episode renewal. (The article references a tweet from Harmon on March 16 that said the network still hadn’t “ordered” the show.) The story goes further in-depth about the state of negotiations at that time:
Harmon and Roiland say they’re holding out for a contract that grants them immortality. Or, if immortality is unavailable, at least “many, many, many more seasons,” and enough money so that, as Roiland says, Harmon “doesn’t have to take 12 other jobs while we’re working on season four.” That way, Harmon can give Rick and Morty the full attention it deserves. To be able to follow his bliss, without taking on a dozen other tortures-for-hire.
So quite literally the simplest explanation for the very long delay is that Harmon and Roiland want to keep making Rick and Morty forever, but Turner Entertainment (the parent company of Adult Swim) was probably hesitant to settle on a contract of that size. They all had to settle at 70 episodes, which nudges Rick and Morty just over that hallowed 100-episode run that could edge the show into syndication.
Be thankful that we’re getting a lot more Rick and Morty, but could it all be too much? The show’s spawned an infamously toxic fanbase, at least the ones that lurk in the darker corners of the internet. Even Harmon justly hates his worst fans. But to read Harmon talking about the future of the show, he seems ecstatic. “I can finally actually breathe and be as excited as I’ve wanted to be,” Harmon said to GQ. When the show was caught in limbo, it was a source of anxiety, but now it’s seemingly one of hope.
If you were to measure the commercial success of Rick and Morty by the gallon of Szechuan Sauce, then it would be a metric squanch-ton. By all accounts, it’s only going to get bigger and bigger as these 70 new episodes come out. It’s not infinity, but who knows how many seasons we’ll get in the long-run.