How Did Rick and Morty Start?

by Hazel

Rick and Morty, a show that has captured the hearts of millions with its unique blend of science fiction, dark humor, and existential themes, has a fascinating origin story. This article delves into how did Rick and Morty start, exploring its creators, inspirations, initial concepts, and the journey from a crude parody to a groundbreaking animated series.

The Creators: Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland

Dan Harmon’s Background

Dan Harmon, a renowned writer and producer, is best known for creating the critically acclaimed TV show Community. Harmon’s approach to storytelling, often incorporating his “story circle” method, focuses on character development and narrative structure. His experience and unique perspective on comedy and drama were crucial in shaping Rick and Morty.


Justin Roiland’s Background

Justin Roiland, an actor, writer, and animator, brought a distinct voice and style to Rick and Morty. Before the show, Roiland had worked on various animated projects and shorts, including contributing voices to Adventure Time and creating original content for Channel 101, a monthly short film festival co-founded by Dan Harmon.


The Seed of an Idea: The Parody Short

The Origin of Doc and Mharti

The inception of Rick and Morty can be traced back to a crude animated short titled The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti, created by Justin Roiland in 2006. This short was a parody of the iconic characters Doc Brown and Marty McFly from the Back to the Future franchise. The parody, filled with explicit humor and absurdity, caught the attention of Dan Harmon and the audience of Channel 101.


From Parody to Originality

The success of The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti led Harmon and Roiland to consider developing it into a more substantial project. They realized the potential for creating original characters and stories that retained the essence of the parody but offered a unique twist. Thus, the characters of Rick Sanchez, an eccentric, alcoholic scientist, and Morty Smith, his anxious and impressionable grandson, were born.


Development and Pitching

Creating the Pilot

To pitch the show to networks, Harmon and Roiland needed a solid pilot episode. They crafted a 22-minute pilot that introduced the main characters and the core premise of the show: Rick dragging Morty on dangerous and often morally ambiguous adventures across different dimensions and realities. The pilot showcased the show’s dark humor, science fiction elements, and unique character dynamics.

Adult Swim: The Perfect Fit

In 2012, Harmon and Roiland pitched Rick and Morty to Adult Swim, a network known for its unconventional and boundary-pushing content. Adult Swim saw the potential in the show’s innovative concept and greenlit the series. The network’s support and creative freedom allowed Harmon and Roiland to fully realize their vision.

Influences and Inspirations

Back to the Future

The initial parody of Back to the Future served as a foundational influence for Rick and Morty. The dynamic between Doc Brown and Marty McFly inspired the relationship between Rick and Morty, albeit with a much darker and more twisted take. The time-traveling adventures and scientific exploits in Back to the Future laid the groundwork for the show’s exploration of infinite realities and dimensions.

Science Fiction and Pop Culture

Rick and Morty draws heavily from a vast array of science fiction works and pop culture references. Influences range from classic sci-fi literature and films like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Doctor Who, and The Twilight Zone to more contemporary works like Futurama and South Park. These influences helped shape the show’s unique blend of intellectual humor, satire, and existential themes.

Personal Experiences and Humor

Harmon and Roiland infused the show with their personal experiences and sense of humor. Harmon’s struggles with depression and existential angst, along with Roiland’s irreverent and often absurd comedic style, contributed to the show’s distinctive tone. This blend of dark, introspective themes with outrageous and surreal humor became a hallmark of Rick and Morty.


The Characters: Bringing Rick and Morty to Life

Rick Sanchez

Rick Sanchez, voiced by Justin Roiland, is the epitome of a mad scientist. His intelligence is unparalleled, but it comes with a deep cynicism and disregard for conventional morality. Rick’s character explores themes of nihilism, addiction, and the consequences of unchecked intellect. Despite his flaws, Rick’s complexity and vulnerability make him a compelling and multifaceted character.

Morty Smith

Morty Smith, also voiced by Roiland, serves as Rick’s moral compass and reluctant sidekick. Morty’s naivety and compassion contrast sharply with Rick’s jaded outlook, creating a dynamic that drives much of the show’s humor and drama. Morty’s character development throughout the series, from a timid and submissive boy to a more assertive and independent individual, is a testament to the show’s depth.

Supporting Characters

The supporting cast of Rick and Morty adds richness to the series. Characters like Jerry, Beth, and Summer Smith provide additional layers of family dynamics and interpersonal relationships. Each character brings their own quirks and complexities, contributing to the show’s overall narrative and emotional resonance.

The Journey to Success

Initial Reception

When Rick and Morty premiered in December 2013, it quickly gained a dedicated following. The show’s unique blend of dark humor, complex characters, and thought-provoking themes resonated with audiences. Critics praised its originality and depth, and it soon became one of Adult Swim’s most popular and critically acclaimed shows.

Cultural Impact

Rick and Morty has had a significant cultural impact, influencing not only the world of animation but also broader pop culture. The show’s catchphrases, characters, and concepts have become ingrained in the zeitgeist, inspiring memes, merchandise, and even academic discussions. Its exploration of philosophical and existential themes has sparked debates and analyses, cementing its status as a thought-provoking and culturally relevant work.

Challenges and Controversies

Despite its success, Rick and Morty has faced its share of challenges and controversies. The show’s dark and often controversial humor has sparked debates about its appropriateness and the responsibility of creators. Additionally, the pressures of meeting high expectations and maintaining the show’s quality have led to creative and production challenges for Harmon, Roiland, and their team.

Evolution and Future of the Show

Creative Evolution

Over the years, Rick and Morty has evolved both in terms of storytelling and animation. The show’s creators have experimented with different narrative structures, explored deeper character arcs, and tackled more complex themes. This evolution has kept the series fresh and engaging, continually surprising and challenging its audience.

Renewal and Longevity

In 2018, Adult Swim renewed Rick and Morty for an additional 70 episodes, ensuring the show’s continuation for several more seasons. This long-term commitment reflects the network’s confidence in the show’s enduring appeal and the creators’ ability to deliver compelling content. Fans eagerly anticipate the future adventures of Rick and Morty, excited to see how the series will continue to push boundaries and explore new frontiers.

Conclusion: The Legacy of Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty started as a crude parody and evolved into a groundbreaking animated series that has left an indelible mark on popular culture. The show’s unique blend of science fiction, dark humor, and existential themes, combined with the creative genius of Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, has created a phenomenon that resonates with audiences around the world.

The journey of Rick and Morty from its inception to its current status as a cultural icon is a testament to the power of innovative storytelling and the importance of taking creative risks. As the series continues to evolve and explore new dimensions, it remains a shining example of the potential for animation to tackle complex themes and challenge conventional narratives.

In the end, Rick and Morty is more than just a show; it’s a cultural phenomenon that invites viewers to question, laugh, and reflect on the absurdities of existence. Its legacy will undoubtedly continue to inspire and entertain for years to come.


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