It may seem unthinkable, but we're living in a reality where the possibility of Rick and Morty being cancelled before its much anticipated fourth season is a genuine possibility. Adult Swim's biggest hit in years is yet to garner an official renewal, and the relative radio silence about the situation is making fans more than a little worried.
Rick and Morty is coming off its biggest season ever, where it made the jump from hit TV series to a genuine cultural sensation on the level of shows like Family Guy and South Park. The show's trademark blend of toilet humor, existential despair, and science fiction plotting complicated enough for Doctor Who has made it one of the most unique shows on television with a surprisingly broad appeal. The third season's third episode "Pickle Rick" was something of a turning point, an episode of television about a geriatric alcoholic superscientist turning himself into a pickle to avoid family therapy that felt as epic and sprawling as any episode of Game of Thrones or Westworld. The rest of the season felt like a brilliant, hilariously subversive victory lap.
But since the show's third season finale in October 2017, there has been very little news. Rick and Morty appeared in a music video for Run The Jewels, and series creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon have remained highly entertaining presences on social media, but no solid news about season four emerged until Harmon made a startling revelation. While dressing down a rude Twitter commenter, Harmon let slip that the show hadn't actually been renewed yet, much to everyone's shock. He later clarified that contract negotiations with Turner Broadcasting had become more complicated than anyone had anticipated.
The odds are still strongly, strongly in favor of the show's producers and corporate overlords reaching an agreement, as Rick and Morty has become big business, and the show simply can't go on without Harmon and Roiland. But in the unlikely event that the show should end before its time, it seems probable it would live on in other media. There are already popular Rick and Morty comics and games, including an upcoming crossover with Dungeons and Dragons. It was also the subject of a well-received virtual reality game (though it's probably not as fun as Roy). There is an open question of how involved Harmon and Roiland would be with this sort of ancillary material assuming they endure an acrimonious split with Turner, and how a fight over the rights for such properties would shake out.
If Rick and Morty does end prematurely, you likely won't need to cry any tears for Harmon and Roiland. Harmon is a highly respected and in-demand writer - he did some work on Doctor Strange's script - and also has his massively popular podcast Harmontown to fall back on; he'd also likely have his choice of cable destinations who would be happy to develop any new series he might be dreaming up. He might even get around to finally making that Community movie.
Roiland has less writing experience outside of Rick and Morty, but he's a highly accomplished voice actor, having provided his pipes to series like Adventure Time and Gravity Falls. It's easy to imagine Roiland could conquer the world of voice acting if he was less busy brewing stories for Rick and Morty.
Nobody wants Rick and Morty to end at this point. The show is hitting its creative stride, and it's never been more popular. But if the series' producers and corporate overlords can't come to an agreement, the show and its creative voices will not only live on, they'll thrive.
But really, let's go ahead and renew the show already, guys.