Why Recasting ‘Rick And Morty’ After The Justin Roiland Controversy Is A Mistake


Adult Swim is cutting ties with Justin Roiland after the show’s co-creator’s fall from grace. Roiland is facing felony domestic abuse charges in Orange County and a massive backlash online, where reports of his bad behavior with (often very young) women have proliferated.

“Adult Swim has ended its association with Justin Roiland,” Adult Swim/Cartoon Network/Boomerang senior VP of communications Marie Moore said in a statement Tuesday.

Rick And Morty, which Roiland co-created with Dan Harmon in 2013, is one of Adult Swim’s biggest hits and Roiland is the face—or, rather, voice—of the show. Now, both of the titular characters are being recast with new actors.

This is an understandable move on Adult Swim’s part especially given the studio is only halfway through production of a 70-episode order of the show which was renewed in 2018.

According to The Hollywood Reporter:

Sources say Rick and Morty is set to continue, with Roiland’s voice roles to be recast. Though Roiland will always be credited as co-creator, fellow co-creator Dan Harmon will now be the lone showrunner. The show is locked in through season 10.

Roiland still has several projects ongoing with Hulu, including as the co-creator of the streamer’s Solar Opposites, on which he voices a main character (the show was renewed for a fifth season in October). On the platform’s Koala Man, which premiered Jan. 9, Roiland does voicework and also is an executive producer. Roiland also still has an overall deal with 20th Television Animation, which produces Solar Opposites and Koala Man. The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Hulu and 20th Television Animation for comment.

Here’s the problem: Recasting Rick and Morty is going to be nearly impossible. Roiland’s voice is very distinct (some might say annoyingly distinct) and even a good impressionist will have a tough time replicating the voices and style. But should they even try?

Frankly, Adult Swim is trying to have its cake and eat it, too. Cutting ties with Roiland while continuing the show that made him famous and wealthy is a cop-out. They should cancel Rick and Morty and move on. Dan Harmon can go on to create something new (and hopefully better). Adult Swim can cut its losses. Fans can mourn. And deal.

Obviously the caveat behind all of this is the important reminder that everyone should be considered innocent until proven guilty. Just because someone is charged with a crime does not mean they did it, and this case is no different. We should withhold judgment until the facts are in and everyone gets their day in court. At the same time, Roiland’s brand is beyond tarnished at this point, not only because of the assault charges but the litany of accusations and revelations that followed including deeply inappropriate interactions with minors (usually while wasted) often with receipts (damning text messages etc.) It appears Roiland’s issues were yet another well-known secret in the industry.

I suppose I’m also somewhat biased. I’ve never thought Rick and Morty was very funny. I guess I’m more of a Gravity Falls guy. Mostly I just find both Rick and Morty deeply irritating, and Roiland’s voice is a big part of that.

I’ll have more to say about Roiland’s game High On Life soon as well, but my initial impressions of that game’s trailer (before I ever played it) were pretty straightforward: I thought the talking guns were super annoying.

In any case, end the show. Cancel it. Walk away. It’s good that Adult Swim has cut ties. Whether or not Roiland is found guilty, association with him is clearly off the table at this point. His star has fallen. Plummeted to earth. Shattered into a million little pieces. I doubt it will ever rise again.

Pro-tip to all you young creators out there: Don’t drunk message underage girls and talk about sex stuff. That’s creepy and frankly a whole bunch of fathers out there should have murder in their heart over it. Call me old school or whatever, but them’s the breaks.

P.S. I’m usually on the “don’t cancel everything” side of things, and have been a major critic of recent Netflix and HBO cancellations. But if there was ever a time for a show’s cancellation, this is it.

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