Rick And Morty's Dan Harmon Shares Candid Thoughts On Fan Reactions To Justin Roiland's Replacements

 Close-up of Rick's screaming face in Rick and Morty.
Close-up of Rick's screaming face in Rick and Morty.

Now that we’re four episodes into Rick and Morty’s seventh season, it almost feels quaint to look back at all the worries about how the Adult Swim mega-hit would survive losing and recasting co-creator Justin Roiland. The new episodes kicked off with multiple new voice actors in Ian Cardoni and Harry Belden, who portray the respective titular characters, and despite some of the fandom falling back on disappointed hot takes, the relatively smooth transition has been embraced (or at least tolerated) on the whole. And even though Dan Harmon has taught himself not to seek out audience reactions online, he shared his thoughts on the recasting feedback he’s been privy to.

Rick and Morty,
Rick and Morty,

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Speaking with Gizmodo about the Season 7 journey so far, Harmon seemed pleased to see that fans have by and large given Rick and Morty’s creative team the benefit of the doubt when it comes to recasting the various characters that needed voices in the aftermath of Justin Roiland’s firing in January 2023. He’s definitely aware of those with more hyperbolically negative takes, but isn’t allowing those voices to rise to the top of the slush pile. In his words:

I think the silent majority and healthy majority are like, ‘Okay, this is as good as you can manage. The characters are still alive. That was the goal from the outset; fans of the show, consider them fans of the characters, and they just want to continue to watch the show and feel that those characters are still alive, and it seems that we were successful in that mission. I think that there is an air of religious zealotry to the people that are insisting that the voices are somehow unignorably, catastrophically different. I think that most people seem to be saying, ‘Okay, it sounds like Rick, and it sounds like Morty, let’s proceed.’

The Internet has never been known as a place for subtlety, and Dan Harmon is on the money with his assessment of fans who think that Rick's voice being slightly off every so often means that all of the jokes, sci-fi plotting, and other actors' efforts are all pointless, and why don't we all just go dive into a wood chipper because nothing can get worse than an adult-animated comedy!! Ahem. Those who adhere to such viewpoints presumably aren't all that educated on how TV shows are made.

Those kinds of overdramatized takes keep Harmon away from a lot of the more positive critiques and reactions to Rick and Morty, in the way that one bad apple can spoil an entire orchard. Here's how he put it:

Even within individual comment sections, let alone separate venues, the only rule is complete polarity: everything has to be the absolute worst or the absolute best. Even people that say something’s mediocre have to say it with such vehemence that you would think their blood vessels were bursting. So unfortunately, it’ll dictate the course of my entire day if I see the wrong thing, which means that even though there’s a bunch of important stuff out there to see, I kind of have to have a general rule that I’m not googling anything about this show.

Thankfully for his sanity, Harmon's friends and colleagues do reach out and send him examples of viewer praise and similarly pumped-up reactions from the fandom. So, for instance, he's been told that fans were loving this season's fourth installment, which featured the darkest spaghetti dinners known to mankind and beyond. (Check out what writer Heather Anne Campbell shared about the episode's deep origins.) Plus, the Community creator also praised the Rick and Morty subreddit for being a bastion of sanity and level-headed conversations amidst the cacophony of social media.

Rick and Morty airs every Sunday night on Adult Swim at 11:30 p.m. ET, and is available to stream with a Max subscription.