Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon welcomes fan theories and speculation, saying that the show is “there for your obsession”. Indeed, viewers have found multiple layers of meaning in the show and new theories seem to pop up with each episode that airs. Most recently, following "The ABCs of Beth", it was suggested that Morty’s mom might be the show’s ultimate villain - given her dark childhood interests, and various other clues.
In the lengthy gap between season 2 and season 3, Rick and Morty theories were all fans had to keep their obsessions alive. Some of the craziest ones are so barmy that they might just be true, like the suggestion that Community’s Chang character has imagined the whole thing in his head. It’s also been suggested that Rick and Morty are the same person, and that Unity is Beth’s mother.
Some creators might find this level of scrutiny and speculation frustrating, but Harmon isn’t one of them. In a new interview with EW, reporter James Hibberd brought up a theory about Rick’s ability to break the fourth wall: does Rick believe he’s being filmed for an inter-dimensional cable show? Here’s what Harmon said to that, and fan theorists in general:
“You can’t read too much into Rick and Morty; it’s there for your obsession. I’ve heard theories that include the idea that Rick believes in the simulation theory so therefore he thinks he’s a written character on a show in a different universe. I would never tell anybody that that is untrue. Why would it have to be untrue — until the moment it needs to be in order for a story to get told?”
Harmon makes a great point there. Fan theories don’t do any harm, and there’s no reason for him to go around and deny them until the fans’ ideas directly conflict with his own vision for the show. Harmon then went on to discuss his own thoughts on Rick’s ability to break the fourth wall, address the audience, and refer to his adventures as episodes in a season:
“Rick is just being like Daffy Duck. He’s allowed to mug to the camera like Bruce Willis did sometimes in Moonlighting. [Co-creator Justin Roiland] and I have had arguments about when it’s okay to do that and when it’s not. I have lost more of those arguments than I’ve won. And in spite of trying to convince Justin that it would ruin the show eventually if we continue to do that at the wrong times, and I guess I was wrong. Nobody has stopped believing Rick is real.”
The creators currently believe that Rick is just a self-aware character, the likes of which we’ve seen before: Daffy Duck, Bruce Willis in Moonlighting, Deadpool, and so on. If there is a deeper layer of meaning to that - Rick knows he’s being watched, or Rick thinks he’s in a simulation - Harmon didn’t want to disclose it in this interview. Fans, of course, will keep speculating in the meantime.
Rick and Morty season 3 concludes on Sunday, October 1.