The latest season of Rick and Morty has premiered on Netflix, with much of the conversation surrounding the replacement voice actors for the titular characters following the public ousting of co-creator Justin Roiland… but early episodes suggest the cult show will do just fine.
As one of the co-creators of the beloved adult animated series, it’s hard to ignore the seismic impact Roiland had on Rick and Morty’s early success.
Much of what made the show so brilliant was the dysfunctional relationship – for want of a better word -between a genius scientist and his doting grandson; following Justin Roiland’s dismissal, both characters have been recast for Rick and Morty Season 7 by Ian Cardoni and Harry Belden respectively.
The on-screen chemistry in Rick and Morty relied heavily on the distinctive voice work of Justin Roiland, reminiscent of other animated shows like South Park, where creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker voice many characters, and Family Guy, where creator Seth MacFarlane lends his signature style to a number of the show’s erratic characters.
But early episodes are just a stark reflection of how seamless the transition has been to replace Justin Roiland in those roles. Of course, we won’t know entirely what happens behind closed doors – although it’s reported that Roiland’s creative influence had been diminishing since the early seasons.
WATCH The trailer for Rick and Morty Season 7 below.
Rick and Morty has grown far beyond the creative input of Roiland. While he played a significant role in the show’s creation and early success, the series has a large and diverse team of talented writers, animators, and voice actors who contribute to its global appeal.
Now in its seventh season, Rick and Morty certainly isn’t the same devastatingly quick-witted, thought-provoking show that it was in its infancy. Jokes are no longer centred around existential questions about our existence like some animated Black Mirror; instead, we’re treated to rehashes of old hivemind narratives or sequels to previous buddy episodes with all the prominent male characters going on a wild adventure with Hugh Jackman.
Of course, Justin Roiland was cleared of the charges of domestic abuse due to insufficient evidence; the Rick and Morty co-creator was facing one felony count of domestic battery with corporal injury and one felony count of false imprisonment by menace, violence, fraud, and/or deceit back for an incident that occurred in 2020. But ultimately, the damage was done.
Following the accusations, crew members – specifically the show’s writers – claimed that Roiland created a toxic work environment for female members of staff, allegedly sending vulgar messages to his colleagues. There are claims the writing teams had been divided due to his behaviour since Season 2.
The future of the show, whilst unclear, has begun anew; the Emmy-winning series has received the green light until at least Season 10, and studio executives will be hoping that Roiland’s departure doesn’t derail the momentum of what has become one of the most successful animated shows in history.
Season 7 started streaming on Netflix on 15 October 2023, with the first episode How Poopy Got His Poop Back, so we at least know the show will maintain its mass-crass appeal as it heads in its new creative direction.