After making the fans wait and wait (and wait), Adult Swim officially renewed cult adult animation Rick and Morty on May 10, 2018. The season is set to consist of ten episodes. The first five episodes of the season premiered on November 10, 2019; the remaining five will premiere some time in the future.
And we didn’t just get a season four renewal of around 10 or so episodes, but a whopping 70-episode renewal that will see the show pass the 100-episode mark. It’s obviously exciting news for fans, but we do have some reservations, which we’ve already outlined.
So while we wait for the episodes to drop, here’s everything we know so far about season four of Rick and Morty… and potentially beyond.
Background and development
Following the conclusion of the third season in October 2017, the future of the show had remained in question, with no announcement of renewal or status of production. In March 2018, Harmon tweeted that he had not begun writing for a new season, in part because Adult Swim had not ordered any new episodes yet. As a reason for the delay, Harmon explained that the contract negotiations were more complicated, as compared to the previous seasons.
Co-creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland wanted to have the assurance that there would be many more seasons of Rick and Morty in the future so that they would be able to focus on the show and minimize their involvement in other projects. Harmon had also stated that he wishes for future seasons to consist of more than ten episodes, saying: “Now I’m about to do season 4 of Rick and Morty and want to prove that I’ve grown.” This was in reference to him admitting that he should work more efficiently, control his perfectionism, and avoid past mistakes that had resulted in the third season of the show comprising only ten episodes instead of fourteen, as was initially intended.
In May 2018, after prolonged contract negotiations, Adult Swim announced a long-term deal with the creators, ordering 70 new episodes over an unspecified number of seasons. The two co-creators expressed their satisfaction, with Roiland saying: “We’re super excited that, for the first time ever, we’re locked in, we know what the future is, we have job security.” Harmon added: “Justin and I just needed enough episodes and the right kind of deal structure that would give us permission to do what we want to do, which is truly focused on the show. We got all that, and we’re both very excited.”
One year later, at the WarnerMedia 2019 Upfronts presentation, the fourth season of Rick and Morty was announced to debut in November 2019, making the two-year gap between seasons three and four, the longest in the history of the show. Although season four was said to contain only ten episodes, the creators have appeared confident that the 70-episode renewal deal will eventually reduce the waiting time between seasons, and it could possibly allow for bigger episode counts in the future. In October 2019, it was revealed that the first five episodes would begin airing on November 10, 2019, and the remaining five at some time in the future.
Writing, recording, and animation
Writing began in June 2018, with Roiland saying that—alongside maintaining product quality—this time around, the writers would have to work faster so that the episodes get released quicker. Additionally, Harmon expressed his intention to let the show move forward by collaborating with the animators and making any necessary corrections along the way, instead of applying his perfectionistic tendencies in the earliest stages of writing.
In July 2018, Harmon and writer Mike McMahan posted images from the writers’ room on social media, which showed “Story Circles” drawn on a blackboard. This eight-step storytelling formula developed by Harmon (a simplified version of Joseph Campbell’s common narrative framework known as the hero’s journey) was used in previous seasons to outline the narrative arc of an episode. It describes how the main character of the story leaves their comfort zone to pursue something they desire, how they are forced to adapt to an unfamiliar situation in order to achieve their goal, and how the story has changed them, as they return to their comfort zone. Emmy magazine, however, reported after an interview with Harmon that the writing team planned “to shake things up with a more anarchic writing style.” This meant a rather deconstructive approach, where instead of focusing on story structure, attention would be given primarily to cultivating ideas, jokes, and pieces of dialogue, and then the stories would be built around those moments. Regarding the season’s narrative arc, Roiland said that the season comprised “strong episodic episodes”, and advised the fans to watch them in the correct order.
In October 2018, series composer Ryan Elder told Inverse that he was expecting to get involved with the season when the writing process would have been partially completed. The first guest voice was revealed in November 2018, when Sam Neill tweeted that he had enjoyed working with Rick and Morty, indicating that the team had finished writing some episodes. Later, Roiland would also announce Paul Giamatti, Taika Waititi and Kathleen Turner as guest stars in the fourth season.
In December 2018, Bardel Entertainment, Rick and Morty‘s Canadian animation studio, began hiring Toon Boom Harmony animators and FX artists to join the show’s animation team. In January 2019, animation supervisor Eric Bofa Nfon posted a photo from a conference room on his Twitter account, that featured lead animator Etienne Aubry and line producer Mark Van Ee, indicating the start of the animation process for the season. Roiland said that when the episodes were returned from the studio “in color”, the writers would look to make any necessary adjustments that might improve the episodes. Nevertheless, he appeared satisfied with the work that was done this season
How many can we expect?
As you might expect, the season-four tagline had a lot of fun playing around with this: “Half the Season you deserve, all the season we can handle.”
With 70 episodes to play with, will Harmon and co-creator Justin Roiland stick to traditional seasons or decide that the 70 episodes can constitute the fourth season across several years?
However this pans it, it’s vital that fans watch each episode in order to stay on top of any potential developments. Roiland elaborated on this further in an interview with EW:
“Without giving anything away, we have serialized stuff we check in on now and then that’s sprinkled over the top of strong episodic episodes. To fans of the show, they’re going to want to watch them in order.”
- Rick Sanchez (Justin Roiland) A genius scientist and alcoholic whose inventions and experiments serve as the basis for the episodes.
- Morty Smith (Justin Roiland) Rick’s impressionable grandson who is often dragged along on his grandfather’s escapades.
- Jerry Smith (Chris Parnell) Morty’s insecure father, whose disapproval of Rick’s influence on Morty only deepens his marital troubles with Beth.
- Summer Smith (Spencer Grammer) Morty’s angst-ridden older sister who occasionally joins Rick on his adventures.
- Beth Smith (Sarah Chalke) Morty’s holier-than-thou mother, a cardiac surgeon for horses.
- Clootie (Likely)
- Mr. Meeseeks (Justin Roiland)
No. # Title Airdate US Viewers 1 32 “Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat“ November 10, 2019 To Be Ricktermined Morty goes nuts this time dawg. Rick does stuff. Season 4 premiere broh. 2 33 “The Old Man and the Seat“ November 17, 2019 To Be Ricktermined We all have one thing in common broh. I don’t know broh. Watch this one. 3 34 “One Crew Over the Crewcoo’s Morty“ November 24, 2019 To Be Ricktermined Lots of twists and turns this time Broh. Wear your helmets. 4 35 “Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim’s Morty“ December 1, 2019 To Be Ricktermined Morty gets a dragon in this one broh. It’s a wild ride broh. 5 36 “Rattlestar Ricklactica“ December 8, 2019 To Be Ricktermined Lots of things in space broh. Snakes and sharp stuff. Watch this broh. 6 37 To Be Ricknounced 2020 To Be Ricktermined 7 38 To Be Ricknounced 2020 To Be Ricktermined 8 39 To Be Ricknounced 2020 To Be Ricktermined 9 40 To Be Ricknounced 2020 To Be Ricktermined 10 41 To Be Ricknounced