Is ‘Rick and Morty’ Even Better Now That the Toxic Fans Hate It?
The best part of Rick and Morty Season Seven wasn’t any one of its ten episodes – it was the exodus of so much cringe from the fandom.
January 12th will mark the one-year anniversary of the bombshell report that revealed how Rick and Morty co-creator and former star Justin Roiland faced felony domestic violence charges. Though the case against Roiland would not move forward due to a lack of evidence, the arrest and ensuing fallout, in which stories and screenshots of Roiland’s alleged misbehavior painted the picture of a predator who used his position on the popular show to lure in young-to-underage fans, erased any possibility that the already intractable creative could return to Adult Swim’s flagship franchise. In the months following the Rick and Morty producers’ decision to cut ties with the show's biggest star, innumerable Roiland loyalists within the fandom lambasted the remaining creatives and declared the series finished – even Elon Musk called Roiland “the heart of the show” following the firing.
Today, with the Rick and Morty’s well-regarded Season Seven fresh off its celebrated finale, we look back on the last year of Rick and Morty and wonder at the fact that, for the first time in the show’s decade of existence, the most toxic drama came from inside the house instead of from the show's notoriously cringey following. Over in the Rick and Morty subreddit, the top post of the week comes from user BennoJammin who declared, “i like rick and morty more now that the toxic fans hate it.” Is there an Emmy category for “Most Improved Fanbase?”
Rick and Morty fans on the internet have a reputation for being outrageously cringe that, frankly, was well-earned during the show’s early seasons. While Rick and Morty evangelists terrorized McDonald’s locations across the country over tendie sauce, launched harassment campaigns against the show’s first woman writers and wildly overestimated their own intelligence (to be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand Rick and Morty), the show’s many catchphrases, such as “wubba lubba dub dub” and “I’m pickle Rick!” became sarcastic memes among those who found mocking the unshaved, unbathed Funko Pop collectors who overidentified with Rick Sanchez online to be much funnier than Rick and Morty itself.
Thankfully, 2023 has seen an encouraging dearth of such public acts of embarrassment. And, after the Roiland stans loudly exited the online following with bold declarations that “The new voices suck!” (even before the first sneak peak Ian Cardoni and Harry Belden’s performances as Rick and Morty respectively), the last two months of online Rick and Morty discourse as the first Roiland-free season unfolded to a positive reception have been remarkably un-cringe. Though certain episodes, such as the opener “How Poopy Got His Poop Back” and the recent “The Rise of the Numbericons: The Movie,” were so reviled among the online fandom that the latter even drew comparisons to the infamous incest baby arc, negative feedback has mostly been along the lines of, “This episode only had one joke,” instead of reviews like, “Wokeness killed R&M, justice for Justin!”
For a show with a surrounding online culture as inextricable from the franchise as a whole as that of Rick and Morty, the behavior of fellow fans and the views espoused in spaces such as the show’s subreddit, the largest Rick and Morty fan forum on the internet, are invariably going to affect the average viewer’s enjoyment of the series. As such, Rick and Morty Season Seven is a triumph, not only because Cardoni and Belden easily succeeded Roiland’s vocal performances, the writing was stronger than it’s been in three seasons and Dan Harmon himself stopped stressing about the state of the canon – it’s also because, for the first time in ten years, saying that you liked last night's episode of Rick and Morty automatically precludes you from being an (alleged) pedophile apologist.