Everyone’s favorite interdimensional duo, Morty Smith and Rick Sanchez, have been on hiatus since Rick and Morty Season 3 ended in October 2017. Now, more than a year later, scant details about the plot of Season 4 might be trickling out.
Even though Adult Swim ordered a whopping 70 more episodes of the show, the only thing on anybody’s mind is when Season 4 might finally grace us with more adventures.
From the creative minds of Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, Rick and Morty is a wonky sci-fi comedy adventure series. Its popularity exploded during the almost two-year hiatus between Seasons 2 and 3. These days, the show is a bonafide phenomenon that can force even McDonald’s to resurrect its extinct Szechuan Sauce. So while everyone waits for news about Season 4, intrigue only further peaks.
There’s very little concrete information out there about what Season 4 might entail, but we’ll do our best to round up the various tidbits of information, rumors, and best theories.
Rick and Morty Season 3 Ending
The Rick and Morty Season 3 finale ended things in a place that felt strangely normal, especially when compared to the Season 2 cliffhanger that left Rick imprisoned and Earth overrun by the Galactic Federation. “The Rickchurian Mortydate” pitted Rick against the President of the United States and made us wonder whether or not Beth was actually a clone of herself — but both of these plot threads just sort of ended.
According to Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon in a September 2017 interview with Entertainment Weekly, the episode felt that way because the team “finale-ified” it when they realized they had to cut the season to 10 instead of 14 episodes.
In the final shot of “The Rickchurian Mortyday,” the whole Smith family sat at the dinner table at home, and everyone was laughing at Rick. That’s pretty mundane, leaving it open for Season 4 to go in all sorts of different directions.
What’s the Plot of Rick and Morty Season 4?
Nothing is certain yet when it comes to the plot of Rick and Morty Season 4, but one of the show’s storyboard artists started dropping hints in November 2018 about a hugely important recurring plotline. Evil Morty and the Citadel could return.
On November 7, Newsweek noticed some interesting activity from Rick and Morty storyboard artist Douglas Einar Olsen. The day before the U.S. midterm elections on November 6, Olsen tweeted images of several Mortys urging everyone to “fucking vote!” Olsen caption the tweet, “Aw jeez, do we really want an Evil Morty to rule the Citadel??”
Here’s where it gets interesting:
After one fan reminded Olsen that Evil Morty was democratically elected as President of the Citadel, the artist coyly responded, “Guess we’ll just have to see how his administration is fairing this upcoming season!” With a winking face emoji! gasp
This conversation refers to “The Ricklantis Mixup” episode of Season 3 when Rick and Morty showed what was happening on the Citadel full of Ricks and Mortys months after the disastrous conflict in the Season 3 premiere. Evil Morty from Season 1 won a democratic election to assume power before revealing himself to be a vicious dictator.
“The Ricklantis Mixup” in Season 3 might not have won an Emmy like “Pickle Rick,” but the “Tales From the Citadel” stories represent some of the best storytelling and world-building that Rick and Morty has ever done. To not follow through on that hugely important episode would be nothing short of criminal. Olsen, at the very least, is implying here that Season 4 will follow up on that storyline.
Another interesting thing to note is that a new study from Buzz Bingo calculated that Rick and Morty is the deadliest show on television with an average of 26.1 deaths per episode. That’s even higher than Westworld and The Walking Dead! So we can expect plenty more death in Season 4 most likely.
What Is the Rick and Morty Season 4 Release Date?
Adult Swim has not formally announced a Season 4 release date, but there’s virtually no chance that it’ll be in 2018. After all, in the Season 3 post-credits (featured above), Mr. Poopybutthole said Season 4 wouldn’t be out for “a really long time.” The last time the character delivered a scene like this at the end of Season 2, fans had to wait almost two years for Season 3.
Rick and Morty was only officially renewed for a fourth season in May 2018, so even if the co-creators and writers had ideas for the new season ready to go, they probably weren’t working on it at all until that point.
Rick and Morty writer Ryan Ridley estimated in January 2018 that Season 4 wouldn’t premiere until late 2019, and that’s really the only straightforward estimation anyone has made.
Is the new season really a full year away? Maybe.
How Far Along Is Rick and Morty Season 4 Production?
Analyzing how far along Rick and Morty Season 4’s production is does offer one optimistic outlook:
In early September 2018, Dan Harmon announced via Instagram that the Rick and Morty art team was already drawing the new season just days after a different post indicated that voice recording had started. For comparison, in February 2017 Harmon said “they’re drawing it” to a crowd of frustrated fans during a recording of his podcast Harmontown. The Season 3 premiere then aired less than two months later on April 1, 2017.
Take this assumption with a grain of salt, but if the Season 4 timetable matches up, then it’s possible that we could see the beginning of Season 4 air before the end of 2018. And there’s further evidence to support that a new episode could air around Christmas.
While talking about when Season 4 might come out in the Season 3 post-credits scene, Mr. Poopybutthole did say, “I might even have a big, white Santa Claus beard!” Because Mr. Poopybutthole’s post-Season 2 teaser turned out to be almost 100 percent accurate in predicting the Season 3 premiere, we can reasonably assume this new one might also be accurate.
Maybe Season 4 will kick off with a Rick and Morty Christmas Special that shows Mr. Poopybutthole dressed up like Santa Claus? And then the show will continue almost four months later like it did for Season 3?
What Are Rick and Morty Up to in the Offseason?
Rick Sanchez and his grandson Morty Smith don’t have much to do when their show is off the air, but in the lull after Season 3, Adult Swim is getting a bit more creative with how the network uses the characters.
At the 70th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Rick and Morty presented the Emmy for Outstanding Reality Competition Program.
In a partnership with Bethesda, the video game developer behind the Fallout series, Rick and Morty also played Fallout 76 November 8 live on Twitch with Ninja and rapper Logic. The stream was poorly received, but it was still good to hear from Rick and Morty.
Who knows what else the two of them will get into while we all wait for Season 4.
Has Composer Ryan Elder Began Recording Music for Rick and Morty Season 4 Yet?
In a conversation with Rick and Morty composer Ryan Elder in early October, Elder told Inverse that he hadn’t gotten to work on anything from Season 4 just yet. He also noted that his part in the production begins around the middle and continues right up until the very end.
“I am not involved at all yet in anything with the new episodes,” Elder told Inverse on October 2. “I hope that it’ll be soon, but I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to them. I know they’re writing it, and usually, that means that it’s not too long before I get involved.”
Elder did note that he’d been focusing on the release of the official Rick and Morty soundtrack on September 28 and then the Rick and Morty Morty Ricksperience as part of the Adult Swim Festival on October 7. “My hope is that they’re holding off stuff so that they’ll send me stuff once I get done with this,” Elder said. “But I don’t know if that’s true or not. I literally have no idea. I take it as it comes. When it comes in the door, I drop everything.”
For all we know, Dan Harmon called Ryan Elder exactly on October 8, the day after the Festival, to make all sorts of weird sound requests for Season 4.
Is There a Trailer for Rick and Morty Season 4?
So far, there aren’t any trailers for Season 4 just yet.
Other than random Adult Swim promos, like one done in the style of X-Men: The Animated Series, there hasn’t been anything new.
The surprise airing of the Season 3 premiere on April 1 was unprecedented, and there wasn’t a legitimate Season 3 trailer until late June 2017 when Adult Swim announced that the rest of the season would begin airing at the end of July.
Might we see a more traditional schedule with a trailer before the Season 4 premiere? There’s really no way to know, but we do know that Rick and Morty and Adult Swim like to keep fans guessing.
How Many Episodes Is Rick and Morty Season 4?
There’s no confirmation just yet, but Dan Harmon told Entertainment Weekly in September that their creative team wanted Season 4 to run 14 episodes rather than the usual 10 or 11.
That was also once the ambition for Season 3, but some kind of creative conflict between Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland seemingly caused long production delays that eventually shortened the season to only 10 episodes.
So we’ll believe 14 episodes when we see it made official. Otherwise, we can all probably expect 10 or 11 episodes for Season 4. And let’s not forget the 60 or so episodes after that to reach the total of 70 more ordered by Adult Swim.
Who Is in the Rick and Morty Season 4 Cast?
The entire core voice cast is slated to return in Season 4. Co-creator Justin Roiland voices both Morty and Rick himself. Chris Parnell, Sarah Chalke, and Spencer Grammer should also return as Jerry, Beth, and Summer Smith as well.
Beyond that, it’s unclear what characters could return or what higher-profile guest stars might lend their talents. Morty’s longtime crush, Jessica (Kari Wahlgren), is all but certain to return for at least a few episodes. Plenty of other minor characters will likely appear as well.
Who Are the Rick and Morty Season 4 Guest Stars?
On October 31, 2018, Jurassic Park star Sam Neill tweeted, “I enjoyed working with @RickandMorty last week ….” with a generic photo from the show’s promotional materials. Can we safely assume that he recorded vocal work as a guest star for Season 4? Probably! We sincerely hope that he’s involved in a return to Anatomy Park.
Each season usually offers a handful of recognizable guest stars. Season 3 alone had 12 different guest stars. Who might return?
Keith David’s President of the United States has appeared in Seasons 2 and 3, so it’s reasonable to assume he might appear in Season 4 as well. Supernova, a purple cosmic being with superpowers voiced by Gillian Jacobs, is the only surviving member of the Vindicators. Given the way she parted ways with Morty and Rick in Season 3, she might return to the show as a villain at some point.
Justin Roiland has also said he’d love to bring the intelligent white dog Snuffles/Snowball back on the show, which would probably require voice actor Rob Paulsen.
Dan Harmon also admitted in May 2018 that he desperately wanted Ice-T to voice a character on the show, so that could happen in time for Season 4.
Actor Christopher Lloyd, who played Dr. Emmett Brown in the Back to the Future movies, publicly said in July 2018 that he’d be totally down to lend his voice to the show. Considering Rick and Morty started off as a Back to the Future parody, that would make for one really exciting guest star.
When Does Rick and Morty Air Each Week?
Other than the Season 3 premiere, all of Rick and Morty Season 3 aired on Sunday nights at 11:30 p.m. Eastern with episodes being made available afterward on Adult Swim’s website.
Technically, any time slot within Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block of programming is fair game, and that occurs nightly between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. So it’s possible that Rick and Morty Season 4 might get a more favorable time slot. Adult Swim doesn’t need to do much to get fans to watch the show, but an earlier time slot would make it easier for new fans to get into the program.
What Else Are Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland Working On?
In addition to sharing showrunner duties on Rick and Morty, both Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland also have other creative projects as well.
Harmon continues his Harmontown comedy podcast with actor Jeff B. Davis and also co-hosts another podcast about racism in the comedy industry called Whiting Wongs with Rick and Morty writer Jessica Gao. In theory, a third season of Harmon’s live-play Dungeons & Dragons show called HarmonQuest should also be in development. Harmon was also hired in July 2017 to adapt Kurt Vonnegut’s Sirens of Titan for television.
Roiland has run Squanch Games since it began 2016. The video game developer with a focus on VR has published Accounting+ and Dr. Splorchy Presents: Space Heroes with Trover Saves the Universe due out in early 2019. Along with Rick and Morty Mike McMahan, Roiland was also hired by Hulu to produce an animated sci-fi series called Solar Opposites.
McMahan is also flying solo on an upcoming animated comedy series for CBS All Access set in the Star Trek universe called Star Trek: Lower Decks.
Both Roiland and Harmon have a lot going on, but as of this writing Rick and Morty Season 4 seems like the primary project they’re currently working on.
Catch up on the first three seasons of Rick and Morty on Hulu.
Here’s a pleasant little promo video of Mr. Poopybutthole just playing some tunes in the beauty of nature. It’ll soothe the soul while you wait for Season 4.