We now know Rick and Morty will be on the airwaves for many years to come after this week's news of a massive 70 episode renewal for the beloved Adult Swim series - but how many seasons will there be? Despite that welcome news, several details are still unknown, perhaps the most pertinent being how many seasons those 70 episodes will be broken down into.
Rick and Morty made the jump from ratings winner to cultural sensation in its dazzling third season, featuring the likes of the ill-fated Vindicators, a day in the life of the Citadel or Ricks, and, of course, Pickle Rick. Yet after the season wrapped up in October of 2017, there were months of radio silence about what was next for the show. Dan Harmon eventually revealed the show's producers and Turner Broadcasting were in unusually complicated negotiations, leading many to fear the show's future was in peril. It, of course, turned out to be the exact opposite; the show's 70 episode renewal is unprecedented for Adult Swim, and confirms its place as the network's flagship series.
And yet news of the renewal left out exactly how those episodes would be broken up. The most widely held belief is that this is effectively an order for seven, ten-episode seasons, as seasons 2 and 3 both ran for ten installments (the first season had one more episode). And yet even before news of the renewal, some of the show's writers had publicly opined that the fourth season could run longer. Season 3 was originally slated to be fourteen episodes before Harmon's infamous perfectionism slowed down the writing process - admittedly not the greatest harbinger of things to come with such a massive order of episodes.
The show could also conceivably end up following the pattern of Adult Swim's other high concept, sci-fi tinged series, The Venture Bros. That show began with three conventionally structured seasons of thirteen episodes each, but then began splitting seasons into chunks of eight or nine episodes, interspersed with one-off specials in the ever-expanding breaks between proper seasons.
Harmon and Roiland have often spoken of the creative freedom they enjoy at Adult Swim; Harmon, in particular, had a much harder time in the constraints of conventional network TV when he was making the beloved NBC sitcom Community. It's conceivable that freedom could allow them to release episodes in a completely different way than the conventional "one batch of ten episodes a year" format. They could take advantage of the binge model and release a chunk of new episodes on a single night, or release one episode a month indefinitely.
It still seems like seven ten-episode seasons is the most likely scenario for Rick and Morty, but Adult Swim is simply unlike any other network on television, and it's easy to imagine a scenario where they allow Harmon and Roiland to get creative with the way they deliver their adventures for the foreseeable future.