Update: Keep up to date on everything Schwifty with our Rick and Morty Season 4 Guide.
Rick and Morty may be Adult Swim's biggest hit in years, but with contract negotiations stalling production of the show's fourth season, fans are wondering if Rick and Morty could change networks, or possibly end up at a streaming service going forward.
Rick and Morty wrapped its massively successful third season in October 2017. Since then it's been largely radio silence; a much theorized Christmas episode never materialized, and the closest we got to any official word on a fourth season was show writer Ryan Ridley suggesting fans were in for a long wait, and that the show's creators and the network were having some issues. Those issues suddenly seemed much more serious when series co-creator Dan Harmon - in the midst of eviscerating a rude fan on Twitter, as is his wont - suggested that a fourth season hasn't even been ordered yet, a fact he would later confirm on Kevin Smith's podcast, owing to unexpectedly complicated contract negotiations with the show's corporate overlords.
This has understandably led to something of a panic among the show's fans and has even led to speculation over whether or not the show could find a different home. The answer to that question is almost certainly "no," for a few reasons. The most obvious reason is, despite whatever issues may be on the table between the two parties, the best solution for everyone involved is for Rick and Morty to remain as Adult Swim's flagship series.
For the network, the upside is obvious: Rick and Morty has brought a level of both critical acclaim and mainstream popularity that Adult Swim has arguably never really approached before. Even popular shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Robot Chicken were never more than niche properties; Rick and Morty has become a full-on cultural sensation, perhaps never made so horrifyingly plain as during the McDonalds Szechuan sauce fiasco. As for Harmon and co-creator Justin Roiland, it's unlikely that mercurial, experimental pair are going to find more agreeable corporate partners than Adult Swim, renowned for their loose and unorthodox management style.
Beyond the practical reasons both sides should favor finding a solution, there's the very real possibility that prying Rick and Morty loose from Adult Swim would be a legal nightmare. Harmon was quick to point out that the contractual issues are not with Adult Swim directly, but with Turner Broadcasting, the media conglomerate that houses Adult Swim. It's probably not a coincidence that contractual issues are arising as the show's popularity continues to boom and the production cycle between each season gets longer - though it's hard to ignore the irony of the contract negotiations holding up production even longer.
Regardless, Rick and Morty is a co-production of Harmon and Roiland's respective production companies and Williams Street, Adult Swim's in-house studio - which is also owned by Turner - and is distributed by Warner Bros. Television and Cartoon Network, all of which fall under the same corporate umbrella. Unlike Harmon's previous show, Community - which found a new home on Yahoo's short-lived streaming service after being canceled by NBC - Rick and Morty is probably too entangled with the same corporate entity to easily move somewhere else.
It's unclear just how long of a wait we're looking at for season 4 of Rick and Morty - at least a couple years seems like a safe bet - but whenever it does return, it will almost certainly still be on Adult Swim.