Rick and Morty fans endured an excruciatingly long wait for Season 4 after Season 3 ended in October 2017, but what does the future of Rick and Morty look like, with 60 more episodes ordered for Season 5 and beyond? Now that the Season 4 finale has aired, we know quite a bit about the direction of the show moving forward — and an inkling about when it might air.
The original delay between Seasons 3 and 4 was mainly due to contract negotiations with Turner Broadcasting, but when the network ordered 70 more episodes in May 2018, that established a future for Rick and Morty’s adventures.
“Rick and Morty forever!” Rick Sanchez shouted in the Season 3 premiere. While Rick and Morty can’t possibly go on forever, at least we’ll definitely have Rick and Morty for a long time to come. In a July 2019 interview, series co-creator Dan Harmon promised that the wait between seasons "will never be this long again" and his fellow co-creator Justin Roiland said that the production team was "rolling right into the next batch," meaning that work on Season 5 began before Season 4 even began airing.
All of this is a strong indication that Season 5 will grace our eyeholes sooner rather than later, but when?
How does the Rick and Morty Season 4 finale set up Season 5?
In a video interview published by Variety with the show’s creators and voice actors before the start of Season 4, Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland dropped a big hint that the Season 4 finale could really shake things up for the show.
“The finale of Season 4 is really good,” he said. “We get canonical. We get serialized.”
That proved to be true in an episode that brought back serialized characters and species like the Gromflomite Galactic Federation, Tammy, Birdperson, and Dr. Wong. There are also huge canonical implications because now there are two versions of Beth Smith and no way to know which one is a clone. The Galactic Federation has been defeated yet again, though some Gromflomites will always live on to potentially rebuild the empire yet again. Tammy is dead beyond a measure of a doubt, and Rick has reclaimed the Terminator-esque pieces of Phoenixperson to keep them in his garage in a way that feels like a homage to the ending of Shaun of the Dead.
Much like the Season 3 finale, the ending to Season 4 also alienates Rick from the rest of the family. These characters, along with the viewer, have had to reckon with just how terrible a person Rick is yet again. Rick fancies himself a god in this universe, and so does the average viewer by proxy, but the show continues to challenge our expectations in interesting ways.
When the dust settles on Season 4, both versions of Beth seemingly decide to stick around, and as far as lingering plot threads, the only major one remaining is Evil Morty who had a non-canon cameo in Episode 6 and little else this season.
There's a lot that could happen in Season 5: Aside from Evil Morty, we could see the team-up between the Talking Cat and Balthromaw the dragon, Supernova from the Vindicators, Morty's soul mate from "The Vat of Acid Episode," and plenty more.
When is the Rick and Morty Season 5 release date?
Most Rick and Morty fans have learned to brace for long waits between seasons. Roughly 18 months or longer have passed between the end of a season and the start of a new one. That seemingly won’t be the case anymore starting at Season 4, however.
Since Adult Swim ordered the full 70 episodes, there’s no doubt about whether more Rick and Morty is coming. Production will theoretically never stop until all 70 episodes are created, whereas before the production team would stop working until Adult Swim ordered more episodes.
As we said before, in a July 2019 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Dan Harmon said, “I think it’s safe to say without fear of being wrong that the gap between Seasons 3 and 4 will be the longest and last time that it’s ever so long that it’s ridiculous.” Roiland also said that they’re “rolling right into the next batch.”
Former Rick and Morty writer Jeff Loveness shared an image to Twitter on September 20, 2019 confirming that he wrote several Season 4 episodes and the Season 5 premiere — and that it was his last day on the show. By all accounts, this makes it seem possible that Season 5 could start before the end of 2020, particularly if Time Warner takes Justin Roiland's suggestion and airs episodes once a month rather than week-to-week.
The closest thing we have to a precedent that we can use to predict the Season 5 release date are the start of Season 2 and the real start of Season 3.
Fans no doubt remember that Season 3 technically began on April 1 with a truly surprising airing of “The Rickshank Rickdemption.” Season 3 continued with “Rickmancing the Stone” on July 30, 2017. Almost exactly two years prior, the Season 2 premiere, “A Rickle in Time,” aired on July 26, 2015. Could Season 5 revert back to this peak summer debut a mere few months after Season 4 wraps up?
In both previous cases, the show began airing in the last Sunday in July. One very hopeful guess would be a Rick and Morty Season 5 premiere date of July 26, 2020 — but that seems almost impossibly far-fetched.
However, if the November premiere of Season 4 is the new norm, then we might have to wait until November 2020. This seems like the most realistic timeframe.
Either way, the Rick and Morty production schedule should normalize in a way that means the release dates will be more consistent, predictable, and on an annual schedule.
When will we get the first trailer for Rick and Morty Season 5?
Adult Swim revealed the first look at Season 4 during San Diego Comic-Con in July 2019 before the season premiere in November, so the same thing could happen for Rick and Morty Season 5 at whatever type of event replaces SDCC 2020 (which was canceled due to the ongoing pandemic).
Of course, that’s assuming the show’s new norm is a November premiere …
How many episodes will be in Rick and Morty Season 5?
We have no way to know for sure how long Season 5 might be, but we can assume it’ll also be 10 episodes long.
In a September 2017 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Dan Harmon admitted that the original plan was for Season 3 to be 14 episodes long, but creative struggles compelled them to make a “finale-ified” version of Season 3, Episode 10 instead to cap the season. Given the rounded number of 70 episodes Adult Swim ordered, and the confirmation that Season 4 is also 10 episodes long, we’re probably looking at an even six more seasons that are each 10 episodes long.
In that same EW interview, however, they offered a hint that future seasons could be longer than 10 episodes.
“We’re literally writing Season 5 while finishing Season 4 just to force ourselves to commit to a certain schedule,” Harmon said. “Not to get anyone’s hopes up, but it is structured into our deal that if we’re going strong and fast there are options to deliver more episodes at a time.”
Translation: If Rick and Morty production proceeds quickly and efficiently, they might make future seasons longer than 10 episodes — or it could just mean that the Rick and Morty team delivers larger batches of seasons so the show can air more regularly.
What other weird stuff might happen in Rick and Morty Season 5?
Series co-creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon have said time and again that they really want to work with Kanye West on an episode. In theory, they might just give the music star full creative control over an entire episode. Why? Read more.
In late May 2019, Dan Harmon trolled fans lightly via Instagram by posting a large number of Post-It notes with bizarre Rick and Morty concepts, saying that they were all for Season 5. These random ideas sound wackier than ever before, but it also means that the writers were brainstorming for Season 5 more than a year ago. Read more.
Rick and Morty Season 5 will definitely happen one day, probably in late 2020.