Rick and Morty can survive without Justin Roiland
Adult Swim made the correct decision.
Rick and Morty has always been a joint endeavor between Community co-creator Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, but now that partnership is at an end. Ahead of Season 7, Adult Swim released a statement on Twitter announcing that it had severed all ties with Justin Roiland, and that his roles in multiple shows will be recast.
This follows Roiland being charged with felony domestic violence, multiple allegations of misconduct being raised, and the leaking of inappropriate DMs Roiland sent to minors. Adult Swim, to its credit, did not hesitate to make the obvious and correct decision.
Roiland’s work was prolific: not only was he the co-creator and co-showrunner of Rick and Morty, he voiced the leads and a wide variety of recurring and one-off characters. He also created and provided a voice on the Hulu animated comedy Solar Opposites, and founded a game studio, Squanch Games, which created High Life (Roiland resigned from Squanch Games on January 16).
That doesn’t, however, make him irreplaceable. Animated characters are often recast, either for availability reasons, like Lacey Chabert leaving Family Guy, or representation reasons, like Jenny Slate leaving the role of Missy in Big Mouth to be replaced with Ayo Edebiri. Recasting Roiland wouldn’t be much different.
Roiland, who is awaiting trial, was generally seen as a representative of the Adult Swim brand due to his heavy involvement in Rick and Morty. Given the severity of the accusations against him, it’s unsurprising that Adult Swim chose to sever their relationship. A lack of action could have been interpreted as tolerance of Roiland’s behavior, which would be detrimental to the company’s image.
Roiland will remain in Rick and Morty’s credits as co-creator, while Dan Harmon will continue as the main showrunner. The show may not feel the same without Justin Roiland, but characters can be recast. The safety and comfort of the many people who work on the series — and the business prospects of Adult Swim — come first.
Rick and Morty is now streaming on Hulu.