Toxic Rick may have wielded some kind of goopy dark magic in Season 3 to escape into reality, but in the Rick and Morty Season 4 trailer, it looks like everyone’s favorite mad scientist might go full-on fantasy. That’s right, one episode in the first half of Season 4 could be a legitimate Dungeons & Dragons crossover.
Adult Swim released the Season 4 trailer in the early hours of October 7, and the Rick and Morty multiverse is as vibrant and chaotic as ever. In one of the earliest scenes shown in the trailer, Morty is climbing up some kind of cliff while Rick drifts in the air reclined in a hoverchair. “I’m not rated to climb something this sheer,” Morty complains. Rick responds by saying, “You’re the guy that wanted an epic adventure.”
“Not rated to climb something this sheer”? “Epic adventure”? Why are they phrasing things in this peculiar way way? There’s something suspicious going on here.
The setup sounds similar to the premise of “Meeseeks and Destroy,” when Rick takes Morty on a fantasy adventure and lets him take the lead, except this time around, the show might be borrowing the storyline from the Rick and Morty comics, specifically the Dungeons & Dragons crossover.
Oni Press and IDW Publishing put out a Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons crossover comic series written by Patrick Rothfuss and Jim Zubb with illustrations by Troy Little. In it, Morty wants to learn how to play D&D to impress a nerdy girl, so Rick essentially creates a world where the fantasy tabletop role-playing game comes to life. The whole Smith family gets dragged into it, with each of them taking on a different character class. (More on this later.)
In the sequel series, subtitled Chapter II: Painscape — which began with its first issue in September — reality was rewritten so that the everyday world is now fused with D&D magic. Rick doesn’t know why, so he embarks on an adventure to fix it.
There might be some kind of relationship between the show and the comic unlike anything that’s happened before, but it might also connect to a new D&D adventure book.
On November 19 (barely more than a week after Season 4 starts), Wizards of the Coast will release Dungeons & Dragons vs. Rick and Morty: Tabletop Roleplaying Game Adventure, an official source book that essentially makes Rick Sanchez a Dungeon Master. D&D players can play through a storyline that remotely resembles the crossover stories from the comics, but what if all ties directly to Season 4? If that’s the case, perhaps the November 17 episode of Rick and Morty is inspired by D&D, and the November 19 release of the source book is meant to capitalize on that. We’ve seen crazier, more unexpected crossovers happen in Fortnite with the likes of Avengers: Endgame and Stranger Things, so this doesn’t seem too outlandish.
If this theory sounds a bit ridiculous to you, then watch the Season 4 trailer again, because there’s a lot more than just the dialogue from the hoverchair scene.
A small volcano erupts into existence in the living room of the Smith house. “And that’s the end of the Morty gets a dragon experiment,” Rick says before adding that he’ll have to slay the dragon. “I always slay it, queen.”
Later, on the tarmac of an airport, Summer and Beth duel. Beth wields a metal trash can lid as a shield and a broom as a sword while Summer has a golf club.
In a dungeon full of humanoid monsters, Rick runs along with some kind of device that transforms these creatures into inanimate objects like a football or lamp. “You know what, you’re right, I could get used to this magic stuff,” he says. If there really is legitimate magic, then that’s a huge indication that something high fantasy might be going on.
Morty and Rick look normal in this scene, but Summer looks like some kind of high fantasy elvish ranger. Over in the crossover comics, that’s the exact class that she adopts, but the character art does look quite different. Perhaps the world is only gradually transformed?
In what looks like that same dungeon, Rick confronts a rock golem — a classic D&D enemy — and then commands his spinal cord to “activate morphine.”
All signs point at the possibility of the show exploring a similar storyline to the Dungeons & Dragons crossover comics, and it’s possible that there are direct ties between this Season 4 episode, the Painscape comics story, and even the official Dungeons & Dragons source book. Rick and Morty Season 4 will have a dungeon. It will have a dragon. It will have magic. It will have Summer as a Ranger.
But will Rick and Morty have Dungeons & Dragons?
Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon has been an avid player of tabletop role-playing games for years via his HarmonQuest series. This group technically plays Pathfinder, a game adapted from D&D’s third edition, but it still speaks to Harmon’s enthusiasm for the tabletop role-playing genre. Given the ongoing collaboration between Adult Swim and Wizards of the Coast on crossover comics and the upcoming sourcebook, a legitimate D&D episode of Rick and Morty feels likely in Season 4.
Rick and Morty Season 4 premieres November 10, 2019 on Adult Swim at 11:30 p.m. Eastern.