Will Rick and Morty Get Cancelled Following Co-Creator Justin Roiland’s Domestic Violence Charges?

Roiland pleaded not guilty to the charges. Next hearing is set in April.

by Abhirup Sengupta
Image: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images, and Adult Swim

Ahead of the expected release of Rick and Morty Season 7, series co-creator Justin Roiland is now facing two-year-old domestic violence charges. The 42-year-old voice actor and producer now awaits trial on his felony charges.

According to multiple reports, the details of the charges from 2020 were publicized on January 12 due to the pre-trial hearing. The charges reportedly stemmed from a criminal complaint made by an anonymous woman in May 2020.

Per the complaint’s allegations, Justin Roiland was charged with domestic violence and false imprisonment. While details are sealed, the charges mean that Roiland is accused of some form of domestic battery and unlawful as well as forceful imprisonment of the woman, who was seemingly his girlfriend at the time.

Accusations Against Rick And Morty Star Justin Roiland

According to documents obtained by NBC News, the official charges by the Orange County District Attorney were based on an incident that occurred on January 19, 2020. After that, Roiland was arrested in August 2020 and released after he posted a bail of $50,000. Later in 2020, Roiland pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

Furthermore, a restraining order was filed against Roiland by the victim, who is expected to remain anonymous. The California native was also ordered to surrender his firearms to the authorities till October 2023. 

NBC News has also reported that Justin Roiland’s attorneys maintain that he is innocent and expects that the case will be dismissed. However, as of now, there is another pre-trial hearing set for April. 

If found guilty, Roiland may face up to four years of imprisonment in a state facility for the corporal injury (domestic violence) felony. Additionally, if he has similar priors, then the imprisonment term may reach seven years or more. Meanwhile, Roiland also faces imprisonment of up to three years for the charge of false imprisonment. While false imprisonment can also fall under a misdemeanor, per NBC’s claims, Roiland is charged under the count of felony. 

While the case has been ongoing since August 2020, NBC News was the first to report on it. Following NBC News’ reportage of the charges against Roiland, multiple media publications have picked up the story. 

Rick And Morty Cancellation Possibilities And Backlash Explored

Following the virality of these reports against Roiland, the Rick And Morty co-creator has received massive backlash across social media. Meanwhile, some viewers of the hit adult-comedy cartoon series have pegged this controversy as the beginning of the downfall of the show.

A legion of tweets since Thursday have denounced Roiland and predicted that Warner Bros. Discovery would either cancel the show or remove him from the production. However, if found guilty, replacing Roiland may prove to be difficult as he also voices the main characters in the show, i.e., Rick and Morty. Thus, there remains a possibility of the series getting canceled.

Furthermore, Warner Bros. Discovery is continuing its loss-making journey, which makes it very likely that the series will be nixed if further backlash piles up against them. However, WBD’s Cartoon Network (which owns Adult Swim that produces and airs Rick And Morty) may decide to sell the rights of this show to some other network.

Similar Controversies That Plagued ‘Rick And Morty’ Previously

Sadly, this is not the first time Rick And Morty creators have been the face of controversies. Since 2018, an extremely graphic video featuring co-creator Dan Harmon resurfaced on the web. In the parody video, Harmon portrays Daryl, a parody character based on Dexter. The clip made in association with Showtime was reportedly from a pilot episode. It showcased Harmon’s Daryl engaging in obscene acts with a baby doll.

Following the controversy, Harmon apologized for the video, and Adult Swim released their own statement regarding him. However, the co-creator did not face additional repercussions even though prior to his controversy concerning the video, Harmon was accused of sexual misconduct by a former colleague on Community

Thus, it appears that Adult Swim is quite considerate when it comes to controversy with the co-creators of Rick And Morty. Albeit, the cases of Roiland and Harmon are massively different, as Harmon was publicly forgiven by his accuser. Prior to Roiland’s controversy, Rick And Morty was greenlit for Season 7 and last year in May, writer Rob Schrab tweeted that Season 8 was under development. Therefore, Adult Swim may still decide to keep Roiland’s involvement with Rick and Morty depending on the verdict of his case. However, these controversies may have caused multiple viewers to boycott the show.

- This article was updated on January 17th, 2023

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