During its two first seasons on the air, the Adult Swim animated series Rick and Morty became an absolute phenomenon. The brainchild of Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland offered up brilliant sci-fi, hilarious jokes, and genuinely moving existentialism all in one go, and fans sparked to the series so strongly that there was a near outcry over how long it took for Harmon and Roiland to create Season 3. That didn’t hold a candle, however, to the intense fan reaction when they discovered that, months after Season 3 had aired its finale, Adult Swim had still yet to officially order Rick and Morty Season 4—meaning Harmon and Roiland weren’t hard at work writing a new season, like some overzealous fans had demanded.
It was a curious scenario to be sure, as Rick and Morty was arguably Adult Swim’s biggest success ever and Harmon and Roiland seemed happy to keep making the show. As the mystery grew, Adult Swim finally announced that not only had Rick and Morty been renewed for Season 4, but they had ordered a whopping 70 new episodes of the series with Harmon and Roiland signing an overall deal to keep them involved with the show for years to come.
But what took so long, and why did they all agree to greenlight so many episodes at once? As part of an engrossing and insightful profile of Harmon for GQ, the former Community showrunner explained why the Season 4 renewal was delayed, and it turns out that 70 episode order was just what Harmon and Roiland had in mind. During an interview that took place before the mega renewal, Harmon revealed they were in negotiations about how to expand the show beyond a single season renewal:
“It has [been renewed], but we’re still in negotiations.” Harmon and Roiland say they’re holding out for a contract that grants them immortality. Or, if immortality is unavailable, at least “many, many, many more seasons,” and enough money so that, as Roiland says, Harmon “doesn’t have to take 12 other jobs while we’re working on season four.” That way, Harmon can give Rick and Morty the full attention it deserves. To be able to follow his bliss, without taking on a dozen other tortures-for-hire.
So yes, as it turns out, when it came time to discuss returning for Rick and Morty Season 4, Harmon and Roiland decided they wanted to negotiate for job security so they could focus all of their efforts on making Rick and Morty the absolute best it could be for as long as possible. This multi-season renewal would also relieve pressure for the duo to take other side projects to keep a steady income between seasons.
In a follow-up interview after the 70-episode announcement, Harmon was downright blissful:
“I can finally actually breathe and be as excited as I’ve wanted to be… From now on, the reason I’m not writing the show will be because I’m done writing it for the day, and I’m having fun. That’ll be nice.”
So stop pestering Harmon and Roiland to get to work. They just agreed to make Rick and Morty their priority for years and years to come. The show will return when it’s good and ready, and we can now rest assured knowing there’s plenty more where that came from.