Rick and Morty is about to conclude its third season, which took almost two years to make. So with the show about to go off the air once again, what do we know about the fourth season of the series? What comes next?
Technically, Adult Swim hasn’t actually announced that Rick and Morty will return for Season 4, but it seems extraordinarily likely considering how popular the series is. Plus, co-creator Dan Harmon has repeatedly talked about a fourth season in interviews, though he has occasionally stopped himself to clarify that they have not been renewed yet.
“Not to say that there’s a four,” Harmon said earlier this summer, according to Polygon. “There’s a PR person who is freaking out right now. Yeah let’s get real honest. We have 10 episodes.”
In addition, during a Rick and Morty live event ahead of the premiere this summer, co-creator Justin Roiland referred to Season 4 before Harmon stopped him and said somewhat jokingly that they might not get another season.
“Season 4 might not happen,” Harmon said. “It depends on how much of the Hot Topic slipper money we get.”
Originally, Season 3 of Rick and Morty was going to consist of 14 episodes, but Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland were only able to produce 10. In a recent interview, Harmon said he likes the idea of doing 14 in Season 4, though he was reluctant to commit to that.
“I would like to think I’ve learned enough from my mistakes in season 3 that we could definitely do 14 now, but then I have to say, ‘Yeah but you’re the guy who says we can do 14 who turned out to be wrong so we’re not listening to you now,'” Harmon told Entertainment Weekly.
Harmon went on to say that what he wants to do is make 10 episodes of Season 4 and then hopefully earn an additional four episodes from Adult Swim once they’ve proven that they can handle 10. Harmon also noted that this will be the first time he makes it to the fourth season of a show of his without being fired.
“Because I never got this far [working on NBC’s] Community,” Harmon said. “I fell apart in season 3 of Community and got fired in season 4. Now I’m about to do season 4 of Rick and Morty and want to prove that I’ve grown.”
In terms of when Rick and Morty will return for Season 4, nobody really knows, but it seems unlikely that it will come sooner than 2019. There was a notoriously long break between Season 2 and Season 3, with Harmon and Roiland taking 21 months to air the new season (not counting one episode that was aired early on April 1). But even Season 2 took 15 months to make, and so if Harmon and Roiland followed that schedule for Season 4, the new episodes would air in January 2019. If Season 4 takes as long as Season 3 did, then it wouldn’t air until July 2019.
It remains to be seen whether Harmon and Roiland will run into the same issues making Season 4 that they faced making Season 3. Harmon has previously explained that Season 3 took so long not because of any drama behind-the-scenes, but just because it took longer than they expected to write it and they really wanted to make sure the episodes were good.
The reason S3 took long is because it took long to write, because it was S3 of a show that we were scared to make worse than S2 or S1.
— Dan Harmon (@danharmon) June 24, 2017
One thing Harmon has made clear is that he and Roiland don’t really have a grand plan for the show and that they like to figure things out as they get to them. That said, they do have some leftover ideas from Season 3 that they might carry over into the next batch of episodes.
“We have a pretty hefty shoebox from season 3 of ideas that are ready to go,” Harmon told Entertainment Weekly. “Some are fully written, in fact.”